Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Gung-ho culture at tour agency Warmbier used on N.Korea trip"


Beer-soaked “booze cruises” down North Korea’s Taedong River. Scuba diving trips off the country’s eastern coast. Saint Patrick’s Day pub crawls in Pyongyang featuring drinking games with cheery locals.

Since 2008, the Young Pioneer Tours agency built up a business attracting young travelers with a competitively priced catalog of exotic-sounding, hard-partying adventures in one of the world’s most isolated countries.

But the death on Monday of 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested during a Young Pioneer tour to North Korea in late 2015

"Brits and Thais race to close stolen supercar pipeline"


Dozens of supercars including Lamborghinis, Porsches and BMWs have been stolen from the streets of Britain and shipped to Thailand in a complex scam that police from both countries are now rushing to dismantle.


The dealership's owner Indharasak Techaterasiri -- who goes by the nickname "Boy Unity" and is well-known on the luxury car circuit -- told AFP he was baffled that the seven cars were reported stolen.

"We investigate allegations involving a Chinese billionaire and a controversial alternative health scheme in Africa"


Living in a poor country with one of the worst doctor-patient ratios in the world - about one for every 24,000 people - it's perhaps no surprise that many Ugandans are tempted by alternative remedies, even though there's often little evidence to support the claims made about their efficacy in treating or preventing disease. But the phenomenon does beg many questions, not least of which are who is really benefiting from the sale of these products and how exactly are they marketed?

We'd heard reports about one particularly controversial business, a complex multi-level marketing scheme run in Uganda under the aegis of a Chinese company called Tiens, which produces food supplements.

"Profile Picture Robbery Is So Bad In India That Facebook Is Letting People Block Screenshots"


Facebook said it came up with the feature after the company’s research found that some women in India didn't share profile pictures with faces because they were concerned they might be misused.


Facebook also found that pictures overlaid with designs are 75% less likely to be copied by others, so users in India can now choose from a half dozen designs to add to their profile pictures. This is what that looks like:

"A network of dummy online stores offering household goods has been used as a front for internet gambling payments"


The scheme found by Reuters involved websites which accepted payments for household items from a reporter but did not deliver any products. Instead, staff who answered helpdesk numbers on the sites said the outlets did not sell the product advertised, but that they were used to help process gambling payments, mostly for Americans.


Fraud specialists say dummy stores like those found by Reuters are not meant to be visited by the normal public. They are designed to be hard to spot, and their role is simply as a shop front to back up the bogus description.

"NASA Calls Bullshit on Goop's $120 'Bio-Frequency Healing' Sticker Packs"

"Update 1:25 pm: Goop has pulled their claim regarding NASA from its website, and provided the following statement to Gizmodo"

"A series of strange and unsettling fires in the Mission District have people wondering: Are the city’s landlords using arson to drive out low-income tenants?"


Property prices have skyrocketed, and something strange and terrible has started happening: a spate of mysterious fires. There were 45 of them in 2015 and 2016, displacing 198 people and killing three, including a child. Legal evictions in San Francisco are costly and difficult, and so a lot of locals have started wondering: Could there be a plot by landlord arsonists to clear out the district to make way for the tech people?


I later spoke with the former head of the San Francisco Fire Department’s Arson Task Force, John Darmanin. He told me he didn’t know of any cases of arson explicitly tied to landlords wanting to get rich from gentrification but that the arson department was so overloaded and under-resourced that cases “do not get the level of professionalism and investigation that they deserve.” There were fires, he said, that “very well could have been arson, but we just didn’t have the manpower to devote to those cases.”

Spider-Man: Homecoming Iron Man figure by Hot Toys available for preorder

At the BBTS.

Also just posted for preorder are some Kirby Nendoroids.

"Why So Many Top Hackers Hail from Russia"


If more people in Russia than in America decide to take the computer science exam in secondary school, it may be because Russian students are required to study the subject beginning at a much younger age.


There also are stark differences in how computer science/informatics is taught in the two countries, as well as the level of mastery that exam-takers are expected to demonstrate in their respective exams.
If more people in Russia than in America decide to take the computer science exam in secondary school, it may be because Russian students are required to study the subject beginning at a much younger age.


computer science still is far less popular than most other AP test subjects in the United States. More than a half million students opted for the English AP exam in 2016; 405,000 took English literature; almost 283,000 took AP government, while some 159,000 students went for an AP test called “Human Geography.”

"Macedonian Publishers Are Panicking After Facebook Killed Their US Political Pages"


The removal of roughly three dozen pages owned by Macedonian publishers is a result of Facebook’s push to rid its platform of spammers, fake news publishers, and others who violate its terms of service. But it’s also a reminder that no one really “owns” a Facebook page, in spite of how much money they might spend growing it. And while Facebook did not specifically target Macedonian publishers, the removals may have been in part a result of a strategy executed by a small group of American publishers who told BuzzFeed News they grew tired of having their content stolen by Macedonians.

“Macedonians refused to stop stealing my material,” said Christopher Blair, who goes by the online handle Busta Troll and runs,

"The Government Says It Wasted Millions of Dollars Dressing the Afghan Army in Proprietary Camouflage"


as much as $28 million of that cost was tacked on to pay for a proprietary camouflage pattern


According to the report, the pattern—a green-and-brown forest scheme useless for concealment in the 97.9 percent of Afghanistan’s landscape that isn’t forest


HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp., a company whose name seems to have tumbled out of a comic book (and which has, in fact, made uniforms for a Marvel movie, the bad Iron Man one).

Founded in 1999, the Canadian company started out around a plan to make “hyperbaric chambers and passive negative-ion generators for professional hockey players,” according to the Atlantic, but later pivoted to making copyrighted camouflage patterns
Relatedly, Zero History is my favorite book.

"Target Begins Removing Hampton Creek's Products From Stores"


The Target spokeswoman said it received allegations of food safety concerns as well as accusations of manipulation and adulteration of Hampton Creek’s products. She said the main concern involved reports of pathogens


Target said other allegations involve mislabeling: that some products are incorrectly labeled as non-Genetically Modified Organism (or non-GMO) food, and that Hampton Creek’s Just Sweet Mustard salad dressing contains honey, even though it is not listed as an ingredient on the label.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Z D.C. (Damage ver.)

Expected in November.

Doctor Aphra mood board



"George Clooney is selling his tequila company Casamigos to Diageo for $1 billion"

"If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion dollar company, I don't think we would have said yes"

"This Guy Spent A Year Exploring The Subculture Of Competitive Punning"


“The best pun I heard during the course of writing the book was: ‘I went to go shopping for cherries and microphones the other day: bought a bing, bought a boom,'” Joe told me. “The worst pun I heard was: ‘If steaks can’t satisfy you, can ribs?’ where the words ‘Can ribs’ were somehow supposed to form a pun on ‘Cribs.’ This was 15 minutes into a pun duel about furniture and all the good puns were taken, but still


Lots of Americans quietly love puns but either don’t realize it or are ashamed to admit it.
His book is available at Amazon.

"Thai model in shameful homeless-inspired photoshoot"


Thor Ragnarok figures available for preorder

Marvel Select Gladiator Thor and Gladiator Hulk.

Ash vs Evil Dead Ultimate Ash Figure also just posted for preorder.

"Thailand's king was targeted by two teenagers firing rubber pellets while he was cycling in southern Germany's Bavaria"

"the king's aides had already informed the prosecution service that he did not wish to press charges"

Miracle Merchant Beta sign up

Upcoming mobile game from the makers of Card Thief (which was my favorite new game of the last year).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nightmare fuel

USA Today on truck drivers as "modern-day indentured servants"


A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

If a driver quit, the company seized his truck and kept everything he had paid towards owning it.

If drivers missed payments, or if they got sick or became too exhausted to go on, their companies fired them and kept everything. Then they turned around and leased the trucks to someone else.

Drivers who manage to hang on to their jobs sometimes end up owing money to their employers – essentially working for free. Reporters identified seven different companies that have told their employees they owe money at week’s end.

31% off third party Shockwave figure

$19.99 for a roughly 4" tall Shockwave. Highly articulated and transforms easily. You do have to assemble it, but it was easy enough that I ordered a Grimlock, too.

"The costliest U.S. congressional race in history will be decided on Tuesday in suburban Atlanta"

"Total spending in the Georgia race for all candidates has topped $56 million"

"Amazon Prime Wardrobe lets you try on and return clothes free"


Amazon’s latest perk for Prime members could make us more stylish by letting us buy everything that catches our eye and return what doesn’t fit. Today Amazon revealed Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which is currently in beta, but you can sign up to be notified when it launches.
More info at Amazon, including that "If you keep five or more items, you will receive 20% off those items."

"Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are no longer directing the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off"


“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project," said a statement from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.


The film has been shooting in London since February.

"I don't understand very much about the Cars universe"


I don't understand its rules. Do the sentient cars feel pain? What part of them needs to "die" in order for them to die? The implication is that the voice actor needs to die, but even then the Paul Newman-voiced "Doc" is resurrected (along with Tom Magliozzi's "Rusty") in Cars 3 through the miracle of old voice outtakes and flashback sequences. It raises questions about sentience in a Blade Runner sort of way. It invites speculation that this is all a post-apocalyptic nightmare in which our "smart" cars have either outlasted, or outwitted, their primate creators. I wonder, too, about how they reproduce, as these films have always been clear that there are "children" in this universe. Or are they like child vampires: wizened monsters trapped in infant chassis? When I look at a sentient ambulance in this one's central "Flesh Fair" demolition-derby sequence and how its patient bay is built for a human-sized customer and not a car, raises questions. And let's talk about the idea of a demolition derby in a film populated entirely by thinking, feeling cars. What would the human equivalent to this be? Thunderdome? It's worth a conversation, though it's not the conversation Cars 3 wants to have.
See also:
Cars 3 — the latest kid-friendly Pixar film — is out today, but it will likely not address the fact that a car genocide happened in which Car Hitler exterminated 6 million Car Jews during Car World War II. It is very easy to prove that Car Hitler is real, using canonical Cars lore.

Some speculation about the USS Fitzgerald collision

Article one, two.

Alien, Predator, and other horror-themed Madballs

Supposedly coming in January from Kidrobot.

Torment: Tides Of Numenera is 63% off

$18 at Amazon. (I enjoyed it, with my main complaint being that it was too similar to Planescape.)

"Why Life for ‘Snitches’ Has Never Been More Dangerous"


But inmates determined to unmask a “snitch” are getting more sophisticated, diving deep into court dockets and decoding sentencing motions filed by prosecutors for clues to who is talking. A proliferation of court records online on PACER—the pay-per-page portal run by the courts-—and smartphones have made it easier for criminal gangs to find files that could expose cooperators, according to judges and lawyers.

"Before You Hit 'Submit,' This Company Has Already Logged Your Personal Data"


During a recent investigation into how a drug-trial recruitment company called Acurian Health tracks down people who look online for information about their medical conditions, we discovered NaviStone’s code on sites run by Acurian, Quicken Loans, a continuing education center, a clothing store for plus-sized women, and a host of other retailers. Using Javascript, those sites were transmitting information from people as soon as they typed or auto-filled it into an online form. That way, the company would have it even if those people immediately changed their minds and closed the page.

"AG Schneiderman Sues Protestors Harassing Women Outside Queens Abortion Clinic"

"Though the clinic has attracted protestors in the past—indeed, according to the suit, protestors have gathered outside the clinic every Saturday for at least the last five years—staffers say the situation has escalated over the past year."

"There are many myths about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Some of them are pretty funny."


The very name Spanish flu is based on a myth. The first cases may have come from France, Belgium, Kansas, or China; experts disagree. But they all agree it did NOT originate in Spain. Spain got the blame because it was a neutral country in WWI and had no wartime press censorship. The countries involved in the war censored news about flu cases in their own countries. When Spain reported its cases, that news was reprinted and everyone got the idea that that’s where the epidemic started.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"At 34 degrees, the Supporters’ Section will be the steepest in MLS"

$20 a match for standing room in the supporters' section for the new MLS team in Los Angeles:

"The first-of-its-kind rail seating system is designed by U.S. based SC Railing for comfort and safety and to accommodate sight lines by eliminating obstructions."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Underworld

A post shared by TRAVEL LOVE ADVENTURE ( on

"On that one brilliant episode of Murder She Wrote that thinks VR is kind of bullshit"

"first, please enjoy this GIF of someone (spoiler) shooting a guy in a VR headset"

"This supports my theory that he's the victim of a gypsy curse where he can never fail at anything, no matter how hard he tries"


He just keeps getting richer and more powerful, and he's desperately trying to destroy himself.

And he's been warning us all along - "you're going to be so tired of winning" because that's his curse, he got tired of winning decades ago.

"David Choe’s Controversial Bowery Mural Tagged with Giant Letters"


The massive mural David Choe painted on the high-profile wall on the corner of Houston Street and Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has been defaced, less than a week after the artist finished painting it.


a normalization of rape culture — signed off on by the curators of the wall, Goldman Global Arts, the creative offshoot of Goldman Properties.

"A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 62 lives"


About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with close to 1,700 firefighters battling them across Portugal.


It is not yet known what caused the fire, however Mr Costa said thunderstorms could have been one possible cause

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The novel Uprooted is great

Nebula winner for best novel. It's terrific.

There was a Cyborg comic (JCVD)

Scanned here, and available at Amazon.

Friday, June 16, 2017

"In the Times Square movie theaters, man, everything, everything you could imagine"


The ushers were running prostitution services out of the storage closets. There were shootings and knife fights, and there was some nut that would get on the roofs of these buildings and toss cinder blocks off, so if you went into the alley, you’d walk with your back firmly pressed to the wall, hoping the trajectory of the cinder block would go over you.

Programmable Customizable LED Fidget Spinner

$24.99 at Amazon:

Highly customizable by connecting to your android phone after downloading QR code android app.
Micro usb cable included for charging and connection to phone.
Multiple color and text customization possibilities
Quality construction built with ceramic bearing for extra long spin times.
Currently available in black only without silver metallic packaging

"Seven US sailors are missing and the commanding officer of a US destroyer is among the injured after the warship collided with a merchant ship off the coast of Japan"

"Benson took command of the ship May 13."

(Twitter feed for the fleet.)

Michael Phelps to race shark during Shark Week



They are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet: Sharks. He is our greatest champion to ever get in the water: Michael Phelps. 39 world records. 23 Olympic golds. But he has one competition left to win. An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before. The world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator: Phelps V Shark – the race is on! Produced by Peacock Productions.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"President Trump chooses inexperienced woman who planned his son Eric's wedding to run N.Y. federal housing programs"

"President Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton — who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned — to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York."

Pale Muppet pin


"How Sex Is Orchestrated on Reality Shows Like Bachelor in Paradise"


we make sure that when we go into the field, we know the rules: no drunk driving, no drugs in front of kids, no nonconsensual sex. If we see that someone is moving toward nonconsensual sex, we step in, or better yet, encourage another cast member to step in, and capture the fallout on camera.


years ago I was producing a show whose lead was a young man new to the entertainment business, and one of our season-long arcs involved a romantic relationship with a pseudo-celebrity. Producers reached out to a handful of potential cast members and asked if they would be interested in hooking up with our guy on the show. The one who was up for it got the part — she knew what she was getting into and used it to extend her fame into a 16th minute.


Reality producers very rarely interrupt good scenes. You’re much more likely to be dragged across the coals by an executive asking why you called cut than by one asking why you didn’t step in. Mistakes can be edited out, but drama can’t be recreated. That’s likely why, per reports, the producer who complained about Olympios and Jackson’s encounter didn’t step in and stop it while it was happening. During filming, producers are hyperfocused on two questions: Is this good TV, and how can I make it better? Only after the fact do they consider what happened from a moral and legal perspective.

"riot police have enthusiastically embraced a surprisingly low-tech mobility solution: the bicycle"


Immediately, 10 fit, muscular police officers on black mountain bikes who had been watching from across the intersection in two columns of five, leaped into action.

Dismounting as they closed in, they pushed their bikes directly into the heart of the melee. Yelling instructions – “Move BACK!” – they used the bikes, and their bodies, to create a line, pushing back the crowd and separating the antagonists.


manoeuvres including “the crossbow”


“the bike squad forms a double column behind the line, far enough behind so they can get a little speed up,” Goetz wrote. “On command, the line makes a gap in the center and the bikes ride through this gap.”

Samurai Jack papertoy

Available to download.

Spirited Away Bou Mouse and Haedori puzzle

Available in September.

"The Secret Origin of the iPhone"


Their personal lives would disappear


“The iPhone is the reason I’m divorced”


“Yeah, the iPhone ruined more than a few marriages”

"Diet Pepsi Is Falling Fast"

"Sales of the diet versions of both colas were down, but Diet Pepsi fared far worse, with a decline of 7.2% versus Diet Coke's 1.9% drop."

Relatedly, "Nike to slash 1,400 jobs, cut sneaker styles in shakeup"

The company said a main focus will be the 12 key cities in 10 countries that it expects to represent more than 80 percent of its projected growth through 2020.

Rick and Morty Portal Gun Life-Size Replica available for preorder

$14.99, by Funko. Also just posted for preorder, and more expensive, is the Edward Scissorhands Life-Size Scissorhands Replica.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"‘Give me talent, give me luck, or give me timing. I’ll take timing every single time'"

From The Untold Story Of WCW’s Glacier:

Glacier was supposed to debut in the spring of 1996. Scott Hall made his WCW Monday Nitro debut first. Kevin Nash followed.

“I remember the moment where me and Chris Kanyon realized that there had been a paradigm shift in the whole idea was,” Glacier told us, “because we were supposed to go down to Bash at the Beach ’96 when Hogan turned heel. We were actually driving down, a group of us, and we were gonna stop off and visit in my hometown of Brunswick, Georgia, which is kinda halfway. And we got there, and we got a call to tell us not to come down. ‘Cause we were supposed to be down there for whatever, they were gonna do something. And we were like, ‘Okay. Well, what do we do?’ And they were like, ‘We don’t need you for the pay-per-view.’ We’re like, ‘Okay.’ So, of course, we just … I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we stay here, and I got some friends. We can watch the pay-per-view here. We’ll all just hang out and head back to Atlanta tomorrow.’

“While we’re watching the pay-per-view, Kanyon and I are sitting on the same couch watching it, and as soon as Hogan turned heel — of course, it was monumental to anybody that saw it ’cause they were throwing stuff in the ring and everything — I remember it, he didn’t even look at me. He just said, looking at the camera, ‘Well, there goes our push.’ And I was just like, ‘Wow, man. What does this mean?’ Because that was one of those defining moments in the history of professional wrestling, and I remember us going back. And at the time, the offices were in CNN center, and I remember us going to Eric’s office on Tuesday. Tuesday or Wednesday.

“And I remember he was just over the moon excited, and he was so delighted that people were calling up … He even told us, he said, ‘Parents are calling up, telling us that their kids can’t sleep and they’re having nightmares ’cause Hulk Hogan is a bad guy now. And he was just over the moon excited, and I thought, ‘Oh, wow. Man. That hill we had to climb just got a lot higher.’

"Chesapeake Bay’s Misguided War on the Ray"


The state of Maryland has imposed a moratorium on a blood sport that had been taking place across its slice of the Chesapeake Bay for nearly a decade. Each year, contestants congregated with boats and bows and arrows. Their goal: to hunt and kill as many cownose rays as possible.

Thousands of dollars in cash prizes were dished out for killing the most and biggest rays.


A decade ago, the journal Science published a paper by renowned biologist and conservationist Ransom Myers. The widely cited paper was published just days after Myers’s death, and painted a dim picture of a collapsing trophic cascade in the northwestern Atlantic.


Up the coast in Virginia and Maryland, this report was exactly what people wanted to hear. For oystermen on the Chesapeake Bay, it was direct and to the point: the abysmal harvests they were seeing were not their fault. Conservationists read Myers’s paper as a testament to the importance of sharks.

The paper emboldened efforts to protect sharks. It also, inadvertently, vilified the ray. Any nuance in Myers’s paper was lost.

Suddenly, everyone on the Chesapeake thought they knew what needed to be done: save the sharks, kill the rays, save the bay.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Limited edition G.I. Joe-style The Walking Dead action figures

SDCC exclusive. Via.

"'Black Panther' Costume Designer Talks Inspiration, Activism, and Black Lives Matter"

"I start designing by saying 'Don't make it up.' After the research, then I can make it up."

"Openly gay and with a young family, British Ambassador to Thailand Brian Davidson aims to put the advancement of human rights at the top of his agenda"


"My husband, as we are legally married, is not recognised as my husband by the Thai bureaucracy. His visa says he is a domestic servant," said the ambassador in dismay. "So there are some anomalies.

"Kneeling" Shops of Bulgaria

Most of the store in the basement, so customers must kneel.

1984 and Frankenstein book covers

By Jamie Keenan.

"What Would ‘The Mummy’ (2017) Look Like in Classic Black & White?"


"Like many age-old cultures in Nigeria, having large entourages has crept into our democracy."

BBC (from 2015):

I once met a popular 419 scammer who would not sit down in public until one of the retinue of dwarfs who accompanied him had first sat on the seat to make sure it was thoroughly rubbed clean.


When I invited my friend, Rick, to an event some time ago, he reminded me that, by asking him, I was automatically inviting dozens of other people.

"Are you prepared for that?" he asked.

A year previously, he had transitioned from the young man my friends and I had known since our teens, to the new traditional ruler of his community following his father's death.

Old friend or not, his new status meant it would be unbecoming to appear at my event without his throng of followers.

"Did [Bob Dylan] take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?"


Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all.

Star Wars Adventures covers

By Derek Charm. His Star Trek miniseries, and Star Trek poster are both great.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Collector's Edition

Preorder at Amazon.

"By Wall Street’s most basic yardstick — Yahoo’s stock price — Ms. Mayer earned every penny she got"


Yahoo’s share price more than tripled during her tenure.


She was essentially hired by one hedge-fund manager, Daniel S. Loeb, who got her predecessor fired and won three seats on Yahoo’s board in 2012. Mr. Loeb was particularly interested in finding a way to unlock the value of Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba, which was already shaping up to be one of China’s leading internet companies. He pushed the board to recruit a star like Ms. Mayer to get people excited about a company that had been stumbling for years.

When Ms. Mayer’s early efforts to turn around Yahoo’s business and spin off the Alibaba shares failed to bear fruit, another hedge fund manager, Jeffrey C. Smith of Starboard Value, led a campaign to push for her ouster. Mr. Smith eventually garnered four board seats so he could keep the pressure on.

"African Chic Fashion" Pinterest board by Black Panther's costume designer


"How Illinois became America's failed state"


To troll Rauner about the budget, Pritzker's campaign created "Tick Tock the Budget Clock," a character dressed as a clock, who follows Rauner at his public events carrying a sign that displays the number of days the state has gone without a budget.


It’s increasingly possible that Rauner — who promised that he carried negotiation credibility and the know-how to fix the state’s finances — could complete his four-year term in office without ever having passed a budget. At that point, economic forecasts indicate the state’s unpaid bill pile would soar beyond $20 billion. The bill backlog was at about $6 billion when Rauner first took office.


But just as the Senate lawmakers neared a series of bipartisan votes, Rauner pulled the plug, saying the deal didn’t go far enough. Senate Democrats eventually passed their own budget, including voting on a huge tax hike as well as $3 billion in spending cuts to balance the budget before sending it to the House.

Rauner not only promised a veto, but the Republican Party — which he funds almost entirely himself — also began running robocalls in targeted House districts, attempting to shame Democrats from casting a vote for the measure.

"'Bachelor in Paradise' Shut Down After Sex Acts in Pool"


Last Sunday -- the first day of production at a Mexican resort -- DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios were told by producers one of the story lines would be the 2 of them hooking up


DeMario says the next day everything was fine and he and Corrine were actually getting along well, but on Tuesday they were called in by the Executive Producer and told one of the show producers had seen the film and was "uncomfortable" with what was shot.

The producer has filed a formal complaint with Warner Bros.

"It’s so dangerous being a bridesmaid in China that some brides are hiring professionals instead"


Bridesmaid traditions have a long history in China. In the feudal era centuries ago, when the female womb was seen as a precious resource for the production of an heir, brides were susceptible to kidnapping at weddings by rival clans and hooligans. Shouldering the responsibility to protect the bride, bridesmaids were dressed up like the bride to lower the risk that she might be identified and robbed. As legal protections for marriage were established, this was no longer necessary, and the role of bridesmaid took a more symbolic turn.
Article from 2016, but brought to my attention today because of this.

"When a liberal power lawyer represents the Trump family, things can get ugly"


In the most public slap, Hilary Rosen, a prominent Democratic strategist and lobbyist, tweeted, “Hey Jamie Gorelick, you’ve just poured that ‘Complicit’ perfume on yourself,” a reference to a “Saturday Night Live” parody ad that imagined an Ivanka Trump-branded scent. (Rosen declined to elaborate on the tweet, saying only, “It is what it is.”)


In a quintessentially D.C. move, some longtime friends of Gorelick contacted for this article offered complimentary comments about her on the record, and then, after asking if they could make other remarks without attribution, bashed their colleague to smithereens. Those people will not be quoted in this article, by name or anonymously, as one tiny bulwark against outright awfulness.

"Google is perpetuating a very bad definition of ‘eugenics’"


We’ve written extensively about . . . Google’s practice of highlighting one answer to a search query


To wit: a reader sent in another example of an odd Google snippet for the definition of the word “eugenics.” Google’s definition, which is pulled from Oxford Dictionaries, a website produced by The Oxford University Press, says this (emphasis ours):

The science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.

This definition is not only strangely sympathetic to the father of eugenics, who once wrote a novel about a utopian society in which people who fail a test are sent to a labor colony and not allowed to reproduce, it is historically inaccurate. The doctrine of eugenics was not perverted by the Nazis, who performed horrific experiments on human subjects in concentration camps, it was sustained.

"Internal Memo Instructs Pac-12 Networks Employees On How To Avoid Talking About Luke Heimlich"


The victim’s mother told the Oregonian she was “appalled that the college he’s going to would even have him on their team.” Heimlich is already fading out of the news cycle, although any MLB team that drafts him will need to address his behavior

"A one-paragraph blurb helped cause the opioid crisis"


Back in 1979, Boston University Medical Center researchers Jane Porter and Hershel Jick found that just a handful of the patients who’d been treated with narcotics at a set of six hospitals went on to develop drug dependencies. Their single-paragraph summary of this result would be published as a letter to the editor in the NEJM under the heading, “Addiction Rare in Patients Treated With Narcotics.”

According to the recent correspondence in NEJM, this single paragraph was cited hundreds of times in the 1990s and 2000s to support the claim that prescription painkillers weren’t that addictive. It was during this period that doctors started treating pain much more aggressively than they had before and handing out potent drugs with little circumspection.


Despite these limitations, the stature of this tiny research project seemed to only grow as time went on, like a scholarly fish tale. In 1990, Scientific American described Porter and Jick’s paragraph as a “an extensive study.” By 2001, Time had promoted it to the status of “a landmark study.”

"there are tens of thousands of girls in [South Korea] unable to afford proper menstrual products"


Yuhan-Kimberly, the dominant maker of sanitary products in the country, raised prices of its pads by 20%—even though pad prices in Korea were already among the highest in the region. A public discussion has kept going since then, breaking down long-standing taboos in Korea around talking about the issue

"A designer on The Last Night, one of the buzziest indie titles shown during Microsoft’s E3 2017 press conference yesterday, has become the subject of an escalating backlash on social media"


"'The Gamergate people are for journalistc integrity, honest debate, transparency, inclusiveness, & egalitarianism [sic],' Soret wrote in September 2014, in one of the tweets that prompted the most discussion.

'I’m against feminism
Relatedly, the designer of Minecraft, yesterday:

Relatedly, trailer for Wolfenstein 2:

"Saudi football chiefs have apologised after their national team elected not to take part in a minute's silence for victims of the London Bridge attack"


Australian players linked arms as a sign of respect before Thursday's World Cup qualifying match at Adelaide Oval.

Saudi players took up field positions and some continued to stretch.

Stranger Things statuettes by McFarlane available for preorder

At the BBTS.

"Texas Conservatives Fall for Anti-Antifa Hoax"


The crowd, several hundred strong, gathered in the park on Saturday to defend a statue of Sam Houston, a slaveholder. They had gathered in response to reports that leftist protesters had planned a rally to remove the statue, despite Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner publicly stating that removing the statue wasn’t “even on my agenda.” But as sniper rifles and Infowars-branded jackets crowded the park, it became evident that the left protesters were not coming. They had never planned to come. The rumors of an antifa protest were actually a hoax, orchestrated by an anti-left group defending Confederate monuments.

"Queen's speech likely to be delayed"


A government source said the Queen’s speech took a week to be prepared, hinting it was likely it would be delayed by a few days. For the speech to be given as scheduled, the contents would need to be decided by Tuesday morning.

Also known as the gracious speech, it was historically written on vellum with ink that takes three days to dry. Although it is now written on thick goatskin parchment paper, this also needs several days to dry, meaning a speech cannot be amended at the last minute.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Accusatory back and forth over that "chess champion" story


"Celebrities On Instagram Love This Food Test, But Scientists Say It’s Bogus"

"Pinnertest relies on social media to aggressively market this $490 blood test, claiming that it can pinpoint 'food intolerances.'"

"Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web to Send Deadly Drugs by Mail"


The problem of dark web sales appeared to have been stamped out in 2013, when the authorities took down the most famous online marketplace for drugs, known as Silk Road. But since then, countless successors have popped up, making the drugs readily available to tens of thousands of customers who would not otherwise have had access to them.


Unlike heroin and prescription painkillers, which are relatively bulky, enough fentanyl to get nearly 50,000 people high can fit in a standard first-class envelope.


In 2015, the last year for which national data is available, fentanyl and similar drugs killed 9,580 people, or 73 percent more than 2014. The number of deaths rose even faster last year in areas that have released figures, such as Ohio and New Hampshire. Over all, deaths from drug overdoses are soaring in the United States, and most likely exceeded 59,000 last year.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Black Panther

Dune poster

By Przemek Debowski, on sale.

"Inside The Chaotic Battle To Be The Top Reply To A Trump Tweet"


“If you get that top spot for five or six tweets each day, then that’s about 2 million impressions,” he said. “And it’s an effective way for people who might be considered trolls by some people to get their message out and to build their brand. That’s why there’s fierce competition for top spot.”


But just being first doesn’t assure you a top spot in Trump’s replies, thanks to Twitter’s algorithmic “conversation ranking.” Until November 2016, when Twitter revamped its replies on mobile, Twitter replies were largely ranked by who was first to respond. Now, according to Twitter, “Replies are grouped by sub-conversations” that are ranked differently for each user by “factors such as if the original Tweet author has replied, or if a reply is from someone you follow.” Ostensibly this means that different people will see different top replies, but on Trump tweets, a select few still dominate.

Even though Twitter’s reply ranking algorithm is largely a mystery — when asked, Twitter did not provide any concrete explanation of how it weights tweets in large reply chains — those who’ve managed to beat the algorithm suggest there are a few tried-and-true strategies. Speed is important, but so is being a verified Twitter user — almost all the top replies to Trump tweets come from verified users, which Twitter argues improves the quality of the top replies.

If you can’t get there first, top repliers suggested it’s better to reply to the top reply, instead of to Trump

"Baby Proto-Villain"

By Sucklord.

"Baltimore's Famous National Chess Champion Isn't A National Chess Champion"


The biggest chess story of the year is uplifting—and bogus.

On May 31, the Baltimore Sun ran a feature on a seventh-grader whom the paper identified in the headline as a “national chess champion.” According to the Sun’s story, the 12-year-old learned to play the millennia-old board game in a local barbershop and, while representing Roland Park Elementary and Middle School, a K-8 public school in the city system, came back from a Tennessee tournament earlier in the month as “Baltimore’s first national chess champion.”


The Sun ran at least two more pieces on the 12-year-old, always identifying him as a national chess titlist. The Washington Post ran the Sun’s story on its site the same day.


The tale of how reality got checkmated by fiction in Baltimore is not nearly as cinema-ready or heartwarming as the story the Sun told. After well-meaning, chess-naïve grownups turned an unwitting kid into a media star by making him out to be something he wasn’t, nobody who knew the real score—including the news outlets who were told the facts after the fake news about a national champion broke, and chess officials who knew the whole truth the whole time—was willing or able to stop the story’s spread.

"On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB8, enacting a slew of new abortion restrictions in the state"


SB8 outlaws second-trimester abortions and bars anyone from helping a woman obtain certain abortions—including, for instance, driving her to a clinic. Moreover, the law mandates that abortion providers dispose of fetal tissue by cremating, burying, or “entomb[ing]” it. Hospitals will also be required to cremate or inter miscarried fetuses.

"Noncompete Agreements Hobble Junior Employees"


Mr. Schneiderman’s office also has been investigating the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s use of agreements that bar its workers from taking jobs at any other sandwich shops near one of its location for two years, according to documents related to the probe that were reviewed by the Journal.

Gerald Maatman Jr. , a lawyer for Jimmy John’s, said he couldn’t comment because the investigation was ongoing.

Several Jimmy John’s workers have sued the company over the agreements, but last year a federal judge ruled they lacked standing to bring a case because the company wasn’t planning to enforce the agreements.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Metallica poster by Laurie Greasley‏

On sale.

Is there an advantage to dropping a baseball bat in just the right spot?


Normally Contreras drops his bat directly behind him in the batter's box, but as he starts toward first base, he pulls it into fair territory and lets it go right where the dirt around the plate meets the grass of the infield. He leaves it directly in line with where a throw home would travel, close to the spot where a one-hop throw would hit the ground, and perpendicular to the foul line so that it provides the widest possible obstacle. The perfect position to disrupt a throw.

"The mystery of Shohei Otani and whether he'll leave $200M on the table to play in MLB"


In the past, international spending limits vanished once a player reached 23 years old. The new basic agreement bumped that to 25 – and, in the process, left Otani facing one whopper of a choice: Does he come to MLB after the 2017 or ’18 seasons and subject himself to a maximum signing bonus of $10.1 million, or does he wait until his 25th birthday in 2019, try to win another championship or two with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and come stateside with unlimited earning potential?

The general consensus among the GMs pegged market value for a 23-year-old starting pitcher with an elite fastball and elite splitter, plus a curveball and a slider that flash great now and again, and, oh, by the way, a bat that OPS’d over 1.000 last season, at $200 million minimum.


One GM put it this way: “Does he want to come over here badly enough that he’s essentially going to pay $100 million a year for two years to play?”


The prospect of Otani playing in the outfield regularly and pitching every fifth day in a rotation is farfetched, as much because it’s a foreign concept in MLB as the bodily wear and tear it could cause. A likelier option is spending the four days he’s not pitching as a designated hitter, and multiple American League teams surveyed believe they have an inside track accordingly.

"Lawyer Gloria Allred ejected from Bill Cosby's sex assault trial after her cellphone rings in court"


Allred told the Daily News she dutifully switched her phone off before entering the gallery and has no idea how it sprang back to life.

“It was so off. They had trouble getting it back on,” she said. “I don't understand how a phone rings when it's off.”

"John McCain Blames His Confusing Comey Questions on Late Diamondbacks Games"


Following a bizarre series of questioning from John McCain during former FBI director James Comey’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, the Arizona senator issued a statement regarding the exchange.

“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain wrote in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”

Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece Spidey (with hoodie, blazer, textbook, headphones) available for preorder

Backpack, Vulture's helmet, unmasked face, multiple eyes, hands etc etc. Also just posted for preorder, Overwatch Figma No.352 Tracer.

Nightmare fuel

Giant isopods.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"the current budgetary crisis brought on by the stadium debt is an existential threat to athletics at Cal"


Austerity measures have been broached before, and in 2010 Cal Athletics almost lost five teams, including its iconic rugby team. Last-ditch donor efforts saved those teams, but the budget is still mired in horrifying amounts of debt. The program ran a $22 million deficit last year


The stadium debt is so large that funding may have to come out of the school’s non-athletics budget soon. The school’s largest donors donate to both the school and the athletics programs, and any disruption of sports could decrease the overall amount of donations. The task force issued a report on its findings this week—you can read it below—and while they did not mention any specific remedies, things look incredibly dire.


As the task force made clear, cutting sports might save money, but could also dry up the donor well that the school relies on to pay teachers.

Atomic Blonde posters

Spider-Gwen coming from Mondo

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Been a long time since they teased the Marvel Madballs...

"‘Fearless Girl’ was originally supposed to be a bronze cow"


While planning last year to promote its women’s leadership initiative, State Street Global Advisors got the bright idea to place a life-sized metal cow opposite the Financial District’s “Charging Bull,” as a feminine contrast to the testosterone-fueled male animal image.

But just three months before the cow was to be made, it dawned on State Street that casting the women of business in the symbolic role of a beefy cow might be taken as an insult, according to an e-mail exchange between the company’s rep and City Hall obtained by The Post.

"DragonflEye consists of a living, slightly modified dragonfly that carries a small backpack of electronics"


The backpack interfaces directly with the dragonfly’s nervous system to control it, and uses tiny solar panels to harvest enough energy to power itself without the need for batteries.


The unique thing about DragonflEye (relative to other cyborg insects) is that it doesn’t rely on spoofing the insect’s sensors or controlling its muscles, but instead uses optical electrodes to inject steering commands directly into its nervous system, which has been genetically tweaked to accept them. This means that the dragonfly can be controlled to fly where you want, without sacrificing the built-in flight skills that make insects the envy of all other robotic micro air vehicles.

New Funko toys

Man-At-Arms, Cybersuit Batman, Gossamer, Iron Man Mk1.

"In the 1990s, however, the Arizona chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans experienced a resurgence, and once again began erecting monuments to the Confederacy"

"Arizona is odd in that they’ve put up monuments in the last 20 years"

"Zoo says that it was a disgruntled shareholder that threw live donkey to the tigers"


Because of the ruling, the zoo is unable to move away any of its animals, causing financial difficulties for investors, preventing them from selling their stake and leading them to believe that the zoo and the court are in cahoots.

To make up for this setback, one shareholder decided on Monday to hire a group of men to take away some of the zoo's animals to sell, piling a donkey and a goat into the back of a truck.

When they were prevented from leaving by the zoo's staff, the shareholder decided instead to just throw the unfortunate animals to the tigers.

"Trump's Aides Should Remember Whitewater — And The Collateral Damage"


You don’t remember Jim Guy Tucker? He was Bill Clinton’s successor as governor of Arkansas, and he was the guy independent counsel Ken Starr did manage to convict, on charges that he’d lied on his application for a loan a decade earlier when he was in the television business. And Donald Trump’s aides would be well-served by googling him — and Webb Hubbell, and Susan and Jim McDougal, and William J. Marks Sr. — about the brutal collateral damage of Starr’s investigation, which originally focused on a real estate deal known as Whitewater but wound up destroying several mid-level Clinton associates before it landed on its improbable destination: Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Mystery of the E. 64th Street Puddle"

"The building of Manhattan paved over many primeval brooks and streams. But some, like the De Voor Mills Stream under 64th Street, just want to be free. The puddle is a spring that feeds the stream. During heavy rains, it fills nearby basements with water."

Disney XD Ant-Man short (Ant-Man vs. Yellow Jacket at his daughter's science fair)

Peacock loose in a liquor store

It's in the back left under the Pabst sign.

"no sport (or pseudo-sport) has seen its TV viewers get older than WWE"

"Since 2000, the median age of wrestling viewers has gone up 26 years."

"We Found Mike Flynn’s Secret Twitter Account"


Facebook allows users to customize a URL for their page. But instead of putting his real name in his URL, Flynn opted for the jazzier phrase “zulutym,” which appears to be shorthand for Zulu Time, military terminology for Greenwich Mean Time. As is the case with most common words or phrases, the screen name’s correct spelling is already registered (on Facebook by a West Point restaurant), which evidently forced Flynn to adopt an inventive spelling. The alternate spelling “zulutym” appears almost nowhere else on the internet besides an unused Instagram with “MTFLYNN” in the biography, and an apparently anonymous Twitter account.

From Horrorfest this week, Don Dokken performs the theme from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

"You sing the high part"

"at 38 colleges in America, including five Ivy League schools, the number of students whose parents belong to the top 1 percent of the income distribution surpasses the number whose parents fall within the entire bottom 60 percent"


Amid a host of efforts to make Stanford more socioeconomically inclusive, why does the University's student body remain so dramatically skewed toward the rich? Despite the expansion of financial aid in recent years, as well as reports of increases in students represented in the lower income quartiles, the lines tracing change in Stanford’s socioeconomic makeup remain remarkably flat.

"Adnan Khashoggi, the flamboyant Saudi arms trader who rose to spectacular wealth in the 1970s and 1980s while treating the world to displays of decadence breathtaking even by the standards of that era, died on Tuesday"


In his later years, Mr. Khashoggi lived well but in much-reduced circumstances. He flew on commercial jets, fended off creditors and dismissed his bodyguard, a Korean martial arts expert known as Mr. Kill.

Mr. Khashoggi was born in the holy city of Mecca on July 25, 1935, one of six children. His father, the court doctor to King Ibn Saud, was of Turkish descent, leaving the family outside the web of connections, obligations and suspicions in the Saudi court.

Mr. Khashoggi attended Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt, a traditional training ground for the Middle Eastern elite, where pupils were caned for using any language other than English. Afterward, he enrolled at what was then Chico State College in California.

Barely a year after arriving at Chico State, at 21, he brokered his first major deal, the sale of $3 million worth of trucks to Egypt. His commission was $150,000. He never returned for his college degree.

Prohibition "halted the rise of small local brewers"

From a lengthy article titled "The End of Craft Beer":

Prohibition (1920-1933) interrupted the progress of the American brewing industry. A little known fact: it also halted the rise of small local brewers, who had been growing at a faster rate than the national breweries since 1895 and had steadily been cutting into the big boys’ profits.[7] Prohibition was hardest on them because they did not have the capital reserves to weather the hard times or switch production to non-alcoholic goods. By the time Prohibition ended, the field had winnowed and the giants were poised to conquer it.

Conquer it they did. The second half of the twentieth century witnessed a formidable concentration of the brewing industry. There were 421 mass-producing beer companies in 1947, but only 24 in 2000, three of which—Anheuseur-Bush, Miller, and Coors—accounted for nearly 89% of U.S. beer production. The consolidation of the post-World War II market bore little resemblance to that of the late nineteenth century. The brewers of the industrial revolution had proudly touted their quality and consistency. The postwar breweries, by contrast, shifted to selling lifestyle. Technological advances, once a driver of quality, now served to cut production costs. Small firms had to discount their beer just to compete, leading to price wars that they were destined to lose.

To put it simply—the costs of entering the beer market were high, profit margins slim, and the chance of failure great. All economic signs from 1980 on should have pointed to futility for small breweries. Yet this was precisely when craft beer flourished. Just as the industry was consolidating at the top, diversity in production was increasing at the bottom. Eighteen microbreweries were producing beer in 1984. A decade later the number was 537. By 2016, it was over 3,000.

There were structural reasons for the rise of craft beer.

"The Mysterious Printer Code That Could Have Led the FBI to Reality Winner"


As you can probably see now, the dots are printed in a repeating rectangular pattern. They’re a code.


“In a purported effort to identify counterfeiters the U.S. government has succeeded in persuading some color laser printer manufacturers to encode each page with identifying information,” they write.

The idea was that color laser printers might be (or become) so good that anyone could just print money. So, manufacturers were persuaded to add this countermeasure into the software that’s baked into some printers. When someone prints in color on one of these machines, the printer does everything normally, but also adds this nearly invisible identifying stamp. (If they print in black and white, though, there are no dots.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Visitors watch in horror as live donkey is fed to tigers at Changzhou zoo"


In a video that has gone viral on Chinese social media


It took them 30 minutes to kill the donkey

"the Trump Organization announced plans for a new three-star hotel chain with a patriotic flair, echoing President Trump’s campaign slogan about putting America first"


The intention is to differentiate the chain, called American Idea, by featuring artifacts of American culture in the hotels, such as an old Coca-Cola machine in the lobby or American-made sundries in the rooms.


The chain will make its debut in little-known towns in Mississippi, a state in the heart of Trump country that favored him over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 18 percentage points. The organization’s business partner in Mississippi is a family-owned hotel company whose co-owner met Mr. Trump at a campaign event last summer and donated to his campaign.


The first hotels are expected to come online quickly because they will involve rebranding existing properties like Holiday Inns and Comfort Inns.

"Wrestling Content On YouTube Continues To Be Demonetized"


Essentially, for no other reason we can think of beyond the fact that professional wrestling depicts simulated violence (because while wrestlers are athletes, they’re not beating the hell out of each other, and by that definition fall under that classification on YouTube), any channel with wrestling as a focus is being demonetized. That includes podcast channels that feature audio and no actual wrestling, because they’re still promoting the subject as a whole.

Monument Valley 2 is in the app store now


"Myanmar's wild elephants are being poached in record numbers with at least 20 killed this year due to surging demand for their hide"


Elephant skin has become one of the latest animal products to be touted by some as having medical properties, although there is no scientific support for those claims.


Much of the trade runs through the country's lawless eastern periphery, controlled by a sophisticated criminal network who are thought to be armed and funded by powerful "kingpins" in China.

"AAA said premiums for Tesla vehicles could go up 30 percent based on data from the Highway Loss Data Institute and other sources"

"based on data showing that the Model S and Model X had abnormally high claim frequencies and high costs of insurance claims compared with other cars in the same classes."

"Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes" posted in a chat group for newly admitted students


The description for the official Facebook group for the Class of 2021, set up and maintained by the Admissions Office, disclaims all administrative responsibility for “unofficial groups”


In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children


the founders of the “dark” group chat demanded that students post provocative memes in the larger messaging group before allowing them to join the splinter group.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ane Crabtree is working on The Passage

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(Good book.)