Monday, May 22, 2017

"Pittsburgh Welcomed Uber’s Driverless Car Experiment. Not Anymore"

NYT:

Nine months later, Pittsburgh residents and officials say Uber has not lived up to its end of the bargain. Among Uber’s perceived transgressions: The company began charging for driverless rides that were initially pitched as free. It also withdrew support from Pittsburgh’s application for a $50 million federal grant to revamp transportation. And it has not created the jobs it proposed in a struggling neighborhood that houses its autonomous car testing track.

Blame is being pointed in many directions. While Mr. Peduto had trumpeted his relationship with Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, he didn’t get any commitments in writing

Link roundup

1. "As crime dries up, Japan’s police hunt for things to do"

2. "Here are ALL of the Nathan Fillion as Simon Williams/Wonder Man posters cut from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in one place."

3. "'I'm ruined': Workers realize too late that they signed away the right to other jobs"

4. "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that racial considerations pervaded the way North Carolina lawmakers drew congressional maps after the 2010 Census in order to maximize Republicans' advantage."

5. "Microsoft says this Chinese ‘gaming service’ company is hacking Xbox accounts"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reminder: I have a Pinterest board for RPG avatars



If you're ever looking for inspiration or an avatar.

"medals awarded at the Rio Olympics are falling to pieces and will be replaced"

"Made with recycled materials, the medals concerned have either suffered unsightly staining or had the covering fall away."

"Several publications credited Catherine Hettinger as the inventor of the fidget spinner. She isn’t."

BB:

Over the last week or so, a wave of media outlets, including the Guardian and the New York Times, have declared that Catherine Hettinger, a woman living in the Orlando area, is the inventor of the fidget spinner. Hettinger isn’t involved in any of the companies that are making the popular toys and told a reporter at the Guardian that she is having financial difficulties. The press coverage quickly congealed around an interpretation summed up expertly by the headline writers at the New York Post: “Woman Who Invented Fidget Spinner Isn’t Getting Squat.”

...

Aside from the Wikipedia page, Hettinger acknowledged that there is no evidence of a direct connection between her own plastic disc and the fidget spinners that are popular today. She said she doesn’t have an opinion on whether her patent would apply to them. “You’re going to have to call a patent attorney. This is way beyond me,” she said.

...

“Let’s just say that I’m claimed to be the inventor,” she said. “You know, ‘Wikipedia claims,’ or something like that.”

"Trump Supporters Have Built A Document With The Addresses And Phone Numbers Of Thousands Of Anti-Trump Activists"

BF:

The original poster shared a link to a petition from refusefascism.org, writing, "These fucking imbecilic 'antifa' have given us a wonderful gift!! They have created a list of names for /pol/ to crawl through and cross check all the hundreds of antifa sympathizers."

...

By the next day, 4chan users began organizing a way to look up the names on refusefascism.org's petition by turning it into a game.
Relatedly:



And:



And:



And:

"Ivanka Trump’s women entrepreneurs fund takes $100 million from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates"

"Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook"

Wired:

a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.”

...

The day the story broke, Facebook quickly issued a public statement arguing that the premise of the article was “misleading” because “Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state.” The social network also promised that the research on younger users “was never used to target ads.” The analysis on minors did not follow Facebook’s research review protocols, the company wrote, so Facebook would be “reviewing the details to correct the oversight,” implying that the analysis had not been sanctioned by headquarters in Menlo Park.

A spokesperson for Facebook tells WIRED that the research had been commissioned by an advertiser. But Facebook’s public statement did not make that clear or explain how the research on minors ended up in a presentation to potential advertisers.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

NBA player "Enes Kanter Detained In Romania, Says [Turkish] Passport Has Been Seized For Political Beliefs"

DS:

Kanter has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the past.

...

If Kanter is deported to Turkey, it’s possible that he could be arrested for his outspoken criticism of Erdoğan.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is terrific

It's too bad that Tade Thompson's new novella The Murders of Molly Southbourne won't be released until October, because it was a perfect appetizer for Twin Peaks--an idyllic small town upbringing, surreal horror, sex that's sweet and sickening (sometimes at the same time), and doppelgangers. I highly recommend adding it to your wishlist to enjoy next Halloween.

(By the way, All Systems Red, a light-hearted scifi thriller I recommended a few months ago, is now available.)

"Italian police accused a mafia-linked gang of controlling one of the country’s largest migrant centers"

Vice:

On Monday, police arrested 68 people linked to the operation, and charged them with skimming $35 million in funds destined to help new arrivals over the past decade.

Among those arrested was a Catholic priest who was paid almost $150,000 in a single year for providing “spiritual services.”

...

Investigators said “that the clan controlled, for profit, the management of the reception centre” at Isola di Capo Rizzuto and had been doing so for over a decade.

...

This is not the first time the Arena clan has branched out into areas not typically associated with mafia operations. In 2012, Italian police seized assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars — including one of Europe’s largest wind farms.

"What happens when Columbo’s cases go to court?"

An episode by episode answer to the question, “As a former prosecutor, how many of Columbo’s cases would actually hold up in court?”

Friday, May 19, 2017

Astro City #47 cover



By Alex Ross.

"How the Hell Did David Lynch Get Away With the Twin Peaks Finale?"

GQ:

In a sudden burst of passion, David Lynch—who had more or less abandoned his creative role on the series (but popped up regularly to play Cooper’s FBI boss, Gordon Cole)—suddenly came back to Twin Peaks and threw out much of an already completed finale script. Instead, he rewrote large chunks of the story in real time—and he did it all in his usual, cryptic manner, leaving the rest of the production scrambling to accommodate his unique vision. When location liaison Barry Gremillion, still working from the original finale script, asked Lynch a logistical question, Lynch replied: "I wouldn’t pay too much attention to that script if I were you."

"Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts"

"It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever," and opened in 2008.

Or, "Turns out the Svalbard seed vault is probably fine"

“If there was a worst case scenario where there was so much water, or the pumping systems failed, that it made its way uphill to the seed vault, then it would encounter minus 18 [degrees celsius] and freeze again. Then there’s another barrier [the ice] for entry into the seed vault,” Fowler says. In other words, any water that floods into the tunnel has to make it 100 meters downhill, then back uphill, then overwhelm the pumping systems, and then manage not to freeze at well-below-freezing temperatures. Otherwise, there's no way liquid is getting into the seed bank—so the seeds are probably safe.

The Shining-themed attraction coming to Universal Studios for Halloween

Uber's "'route-based pricing' . . . charges customers based on what it predicts they’re willing to pay"

"For instance, someone traveling from a wealthy neighborhood to another tony spot might be asked to pay more than another person heading to a poorer part of town, even if demand, traffic and distance are the same."

Shed of the Year competition finalists

The Doctor Who shed is bigger on the inside.

"hackers have directed armies of zombie devices—webcams, modems, and other gadgets caught up in the expansive Mirai botnet—to funnel junk traffic to the kill-switch web address"

"Hackers Are Trying to Reignite WannaCry With Nonstop Botnet Attacks"

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"While Western brands continue to fight tooth and nail in the battle for Chinese stomachs, they have been unable to match the growth of domestic chains"

"One such local brand, the straightforwardly named Braised Chicken With Rice, has almost 10 times as many restaurants as KFC, even though there is, unsurprisingly, only one option on the menu: golden-brown chicken in a glistening red sauce, served alongside a small mound of white rice."

Bloodborne zine, statues



Zine available for preorder at Etsy.




Statues available for preorder at the BBTS.

"U.S. Army Special Operations . . . are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time — in Africa alone"

Vice:

The marked increase in U.S. activity tracks with the rising number of major terror groups in Africa. A 2012 version of SOCAFRICA’s strategic planning documents also obtained by VICE News lists five major terror groups. The October 2016 files list seven by name — al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Magreb, ISIS, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Murabitun, Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and al-Shabaab — in addition to “other violent extremist organizations,” also known as VEOs. In 2015, Bolduc said that there are nearly 50 terrorist organizations and “illicit groups” operating on the African continent.

Terror attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have skyrocketed in the past decade.

"Who murdered Sister Cathy? Netflix takes true crime to the next level"

Guardian:

The body of Cathy Cesnik, a dynamic young nun, was found on a dump in Baltimore decades ago. New documentary The Keepers all but solves the case – and then goes further, thanks to two retired Nancy Drews

...

White’s initial contact was Jean Hargadon Wehner, who had attended Archbishop Keough as a teen and had a startling insight into the Cesnik case. In 1969, before the police discovered Sister Cathy’s corpse, she’d been taken to see it by Father Joseph Maskell, the school chaplain – a gross act of intimidation designed to discourage her from revealing that Maskell had repeatedly raped her in his office. Sister Cathy had promised Wehner and other Keough girls that she would help them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kingdom of Cute Vinylmation



Coming to Disney parks, based on illustrations by Jerrod Maruyama.

Predator 30th Anniversary figure with glowing eyes available for preorder

Available for preorder:

The stealthy Jungle Demon Predator is cast in clear plastic with camouflage accents to capture his cloaked appearance in the jungle. We've even equipped him with LED effects to simulate the yellow glowing eyes and phasing effect seen on screen!

The figure also features red LED lights in the mask's targeting system and in the wrist computer, which flips open. The Jungle Demon stands an impressive 20" tall and is fully poseable, with retractable wrist blades and articulated shoulder cannon.

Fun scenes from last night's Agents of Shield



When Charlie Hunnam offered to fight to get the role of King Arthur

From 2015:

When it came to round two, it became clear to Hunnam that something about his physique was bothering Ritchie. In a clever actor’s shortcut for grief, he had lost 20 pounds for his curtain call playing Jax Teller, the gangland boss who is the anchor of Sons of Anarchy. At the demise of season six, Jax’s wife Tara is bumped off with sensationally bloody, Freudian gore by his mother, Gemma. “I thought one of the interesting ways to tell that story was to come in just looking gaunt, so you know straight away that’s been a brutal fucking month,” says Hunnam. “He hasn’t eaten. He’s been on benders. He’s fucked up. And I sustained it through the season. So I came to meet Guy and I was incredibly skinny.”

This was not the vision for King Arthur in the eyes of a director who has a specially preserved authorial hold on masculinity. “He brought it up about four times. ‘So, how heavy have you been?’ The fourth time he brought it up was in the audition.” Hunnam was getting restless. By now, the role was in his sight. “I said, ‘Look, dude, you keep bringing this thing up, the physicality. It’s obviously your primary concern so if you want to do away with all of this auditioning bollocks, I’ll fucking fight those other two dudes who are out there shooting. I know who they are. You can bring them both in here. I’ll fight them both. The one who walks out the door gets the job.’” Ritchie was temporarily silenced. “Then he said, ‘Look, get back in there and read the scene, you cunt.’”

"New Hampshire State Rep Who Created Reddit’s ‘Red Pill’ Resigns"

"Earlier in the day, a legislative committee had voted along party lines that no action be taken against Republican Robert Fisher"

A bachelorette contestant answers the question, "Tell us a fun story about a one night stand."

"I spent all day with this girl and she ended up coming home with me and we had sex. She then received a text saying her brother was missing, so I played asleep so I didn't have to help!"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"Autonomous Ships Will Be Great"

BB:

By one consultant's estimate, moreover, carrying sailors accounts for 44 percent of a ship's costs. That's not just salaries: crew quarters, air-conditioning units, a bridge (which typically requires heavy ballast to ensure a ship's balance) and other amenities take up valuable weight and space that might otherwise be used for cargo.

NBCU is going to use a picture-in-picture during WWE SmackDown commercial breaks

"The company is also planning to offer picture-in-picture ads during the 2018 Winter Olympics"

"The largest illegal cockfighting ring bust was conducted in northern Los Angeles County on Monday"

ABC:

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said approximately 7,000 birds were recovered from the property in the unincorporated area of Val Verde near Castaic Junction and Santa Clarita.

...

Officials stated that the same property was raided in 2007, and at that time about 2,700 birds were seized.

"The Comic Book History Of Taserface"

"Taserface is a character that’s been around over 27 years, making his original debut in Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (June 1990) by Jim Valentino. Jim gets credit for creating the character, but the name came from his son Aaron who was five at the time."

"Yale Students Outraged Over Dean's Brutal Yelp Reviews"

Vice:

On Saturday, Chu, the dean of the residential community Pierson College, emailed the students in the dorm to apologize. "I have learned a lot this semester about the power of words and about the accountability that we owe one another," Chu wrote, the Yale Daily News reports. "My remarks were wrong. There are no two ways about it. Not only were they insensitive in matters related to class and race; they demean the values to which I hold myself and which I offer as a member of this community."

"The Strange, Short-Lived British Trend of Hiring Ornamental Hermits"

"If you were a grand gentlemen of the Georgian era, having a huge country house with lavishly landscaped grounds wasn’t enough to impress your visitors. No, you needed a little something extra. You needed an ornamental hermit."

The hogs that eat Las Vegas's wasted food

Eater:

In September 2009, the funk was so aggressive that it became the subject of a lawsuit. Local homeowners, recently moved into a then-new housing development, complained that the builders hadn’t fully disclosed that the area was suffused with the reek. The suit charged that the smell was so bad that new owners couldn't even be in their homes “without gagging.” Neighbors would hang up those strips of gluey flypaper, only to find them completely full just a few days later, mottled with flies drawn to garbage perfume. The source of this great odor was R.C. Farms, a North Vegas hog farm, overseen by veteran agriculturalist Bob Combs since the 1960s — and the final destination for the literal tons of wasted food that is produced every day at casinos up and down the Strip.

"Town Retires Gas Explosion Victim’s Softball Jersey"

"Martinez was a volunteer youth softball coach and a strong contributor to the annual Carbon Valley Parks and Recreation District community softball tournament."

"The many mistakes of [the] Rap Rabbit [kickstarter]"

Medium:

Never announce your stretch goal.

...

Note that after a significant burst of criticisms, the campaign has now removed the Stretch Goals

"Students at the California Institute of Technology are protesting the return to campus of a professor of theoretical astrophysics, Christian Ott, who had been suspended after harassing two female students"

"'In order to meet some requirements for my major, I’d have to take classes that he’s teaching,' she said."

Injustice 2 wallpapers



Link.

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Disney Chief Bob Iger Says Hackers Claim to Have Stolen Upcoming Movie"

"Iger didn't disclose the name of the film, but said Disney isn't paying."

Super Friends

A post shared by Digital Artist (@georgeevangelista) on

"College Sophomore Matt Nelson Is Building His WeRateDogs Account Into An Adorable Empire"

Esquire:

His online store, which sells clothes and mugs emblazoned with popular sayings from the account, earns him in the low five figures each month.

...

Fans DM Nelson photos of their dogs (about 1,200 a day)

...

he deletes one out of every ten or fifteen tweets within the first ten minutes if it's not getting enough likes.

From 2011, art inspired by American Gods



Over two dozens illustrations, including the jinn by Michael Dialynas.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"A leading candidate to head the World Health Organization was accused this week of covering up three cholera epidemics in his home country"

NYT:

But cholera bacteria were found in stool samples smuggled out of the country. As soon as severe diarrhea began appearing in neighboring countries, the cause was identified as cholera.

United Nations officials said more aid could have been delivered to Ethiopia had the truth been told.

...

Historically, some countries have tried to cover up or play down outbreaks of human or animal diseases for fear that travel restrictions would be imposed, tourism would suffer or food exports would be curtailed — or simply as a matter of national pride.

Picked up from my wishlist, The Sparrow: A Novel is $1.99 right now

At Amazon.

Wolf Hall, which is good, is $2.99 today.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Pearl Parties Are Taking Over Facebook Live, But Buyer Beware"

BF:

In just a few months in 2016, the 28-year-old company’s sales consultants and leaders "all of a sudden realized the unlimited income here," she said of Facebook Live. Previously, a single in-home party might aim for $500 in sales, she said. Now, a live streamed party will frequently bring in $6,000 to $7,000, and some have reached upwards of $17,000.

But there’s often a dose of deception mixed into these live streams, BuzzFeed News has found. In particular, industry experts say the way Vantel’s party hosts appraise the value of the pearls their customers are buying is nonsense, misrepresenting the value of cheap grades of pearl that can sell in mass for less than a dollar.

...

the chart says its valuations are based on data compiled by the National Pearl Association of the United States, which does not exist.

"To be completely honest, I think they pulled that name out of a dark crack somewhere," said Jeremy Shepherd, the treasurer and marketing director of the Cultured Pearl Association of America, who has worked in the pearl industry for more than 20 years.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"FBI Gives Hollywood Hacking Victims Surprising Advice: "Pay the Ransom""

HR:

The frequency of the attacks has overwhelmed the FBI's Los Angeles field office, which has been unable to properly investigate all of them. The FBI's surprising advice, according to industry sources: Pay the ransom. After all, the hackers aren't asking much more than a Cannes hotel tab. In all of the Hollywood extortion cases, the hackers demanded less than $80,000. A law enforcement source says that in California, losses would need to exceed $50,000 for the U.S. Attorney's office to prosecute, thus keeping the FBI from pursuing most of these cases.

But an FBI spokesperson in the L.A. office denied that the agency is telling companies to cough up the bitcoins in cases of ransomware. "The FBI does not encourage payment of ransom as it keeps the criminals in business," says Laura Eimiller. "Of course, the individual victim must weigh their options."

"When the Timberwolves Passed on Isaiah Thomas to Draft a Mystery Man from Qatar"

Vice:

On draft night, the Timberwolves thought Ngombo was 21 years old. In reality, he likely was almost 27.

How did Minnesota president of basketball operations David Kahn make such a mistake? The story starts with Philo, whose job was to scour the globe for prospects who might turn into useful NBA players. In 2010, he got a tip from a friend in the Middle East.

"sewage will be tested to find areas of high drug use to trial drug testing of welfare recipients"

"Morrison said the trial was about 'helping people'"

G.I. Joe subscription figures available

Including Xamot and Flagg (here's a pic of the packaging). Some new roughly G.I. Joe-sized Predators available for preorder too.

"How farmers put apples into suspended animation"

BBC:

These nearly oxygen-less rooms, which are also temperature and humidity-controlled, can be gigantic. “Where I live in Washington state, there is capacity for half to three-quarters of the fruit produced here,” Mattheis says. That's storage for two to three billion pounds of apples, all told.

...

These suspended animation chambers for apples occasionally make the news when someone thinks they'll be alright if they just hold their breath while on a quick visit inside. In 2013, two workers on the Earl of Selbourne's apple farm on Blackmoor Estate in Hampshire in the UK were found dead in the controlled atmosphere storage room, and in 2015 the manager who sent them in without proper breathing apparatus was convicted of manslaughter.

"NHS hospitals across England hit by large-scale cyber-attack"

"The IT systems of NHS sites across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit, with a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for access to the PCs."

"The ‘Gravity blanket’ raised $3 million online with a claim to treat anxiety. Then that promise was deleted"

SN:

A “Gravity blanket” on Kickstarter that claimed to use cozy pressure to treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions has been taking the internet by storm, raising more than $3 million. But on Thursday, the company quietly deleted the bold medical claims on its crowdfunding site — language that violated Kickstarter policy and went against FDA recommendations — after STAT inquired about its promotional statements.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Xenomorph by Corey Lewis

"the Associated Press made secret arrangements with an SS officer to obtain pictures taken by Nazi photographers that were distributed to American newspapers — a deal authorized by senior U.S. officials"

WP:

The report includes documents recently declassified at the request of AP’s management, including letters of approval from a wartime censorship office run by an ex-AP editor who reported to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of the arrangement, AP shared pictures of U.S. war operations and Allied advances, which were reviewed by Hitler and published in Nazi publications.

“With one known exception, the AP images that appeared in German publications through this arrangement were unaltered by the Germans, “ the report said, “but captions were rewritten by the Germans to conform to official Nazi views.”

Gallery of Jack Kirby double-page spreads

Link.

"That Popular Hostel in Berlin? It’s North Korean, and It’s Closing"

"The German government confirmed Wednesday that it was acting 'as swiftly as possible' to cut off the currency flow after German news outlets reported that North Korea was charging an unnamed German businessman €38,000 a month (about $41,000) to operate the hostel."

"Take the Impossible 'Literacy' Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s"

Slate:

But this Louisiana “literacy” test, singular among its fellows, has nothing to do with citizenship. Designed to put the applicant through mental contortions, the test's questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.

"Parasitic robot controls turtle it’s riding by giving it snacks"

NS:

Robots were first glued to the backs of five red-eared slider turtles. The robots comprised a processor, a frame that stuck out in front of the turtle’s head holding five red LEDs spaced apart, and a food-ejecting tube. They then had to ride their turtle through five checkpoints in a tank filled with water.

The turtles were first conditioned to associate a lit-up LED with food. The robot then simply guided it using the LEDs and fed it snacks as a reward for going in the right direction. Using this process, five robot-turtle pairs successfully completed the course, and each sped up with practice.

"6-figure salary considered 'low-income' in parts of Bay Area"

"What do these dollar amounts mean? It means that a family of four in San Francisco earning more than $100,000 a year can now qualify for affordable housing."

"The Narrator Of HGTV’s 'House Hunters' Is Ready To Step Out From The Shadows"

BF:

Andromeda Dunker was born at Yale University in Connecticut, where her father, a respected biophysicist, was completing postgraduate studies. Her unique first name comes thanks to her Chinese-American mother, an astrophysicist who named her daughter for the Andromeda galaxy.

...

“Over the years I think the narration has changed,” Dunker said. “If people look at House Hunters International from the first season I was on it, it’s a lot more dramatic, and now it’s become more conversational. And that’s just an evolution of the show, I think. It’s been on for so long it evolves with the style of the time,” she said.

The Ankler is a good newsletter mostly about Hollywood

From today's newsletter, about King Arthur:

The genesis was Warner’s desperation to create a franchise. This British transplant screenwriter named Joby Harold created a "bible" for an eight movie "reimagining" series.

Good Podcast: Reply All tries to figure out how Alex Blumberg's Uber account got hijacked

Episodes 91 and 93.

Relatedly: "The anti-net neutrality bot spamming the FCC is pulling names from leaked databases"

"The Secrets of Tom Brady's Personal Trainer"

"In my 25 years of practicing medicine, I have never seen someone recover from a calcaneus injury this quickly"

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"A memorial to the Nazi book burning"

Negative space and empty shelves:

The Bebelplatz is known as the site of one of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremonies held in the evening of 10 May 1933 in many German university cities. The book burnings were initiated and hosted by the nationalist German Student Association, thus stealing a march on the National Socialist German Students' League. The assembly of the books had started on the sixth, when students dragged the contents of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft library into the square. At the Student Association's invitation Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels held an inflammatory speech prior to the burning. Besides other spectators, it was attended by members of the Nazi Students' League, the SA ("brownshirts"), SS and Hitler Youth groups. They burned around 20,000 books

"Ross Cellino is suing his longtime legal partner, Stephen Barnes"

"We don't know why Cellino is suing to have the firm broken up."

A look at Captain America writer Nick Spencer's pre-Marvel political career

"This post focuses on Spencer's 2005 campaign, when his platform was eliminating human services in Cincinnati, beefing up its police force, expanding its jails, and ridding its streets of criminals and homeless people."

"My Famicase Exhibition"



A few gems from the dozens of cartridges for imaginary games.

"Milwaukee's War on 'Pokémon GO' Could Change Tech Forever"

Inv:

Residents in the toniest parts of Wisconsin’s largest metro area had no desire to catch ‘em all. Glued to their phone screens, Pokémon Go players marched through Milwaukee’s upscale neighborhoods, and descended upon the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Lake Park at all hours of the night. Neighbors complained for months, and police blockades were erected and then tested, leading Wasserman, a long-time state assemblyman, to hold hearings on the matter.

...

For months, the pandemonium continued, with gamers spending all day and night in the park along Lake Michigan, chasing after Charizards. Officials asked for cooperation and enforced the rules they could, but the park was still overwhelmed, so Wasserman proposed an ordinance that would regulate and restrict the use of public parks by augmented reality app developers. The law was passed in February by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors … and followed by a lawsuit filed in late April by a Nevada-based A.R. company named Candy Lab.

"The US territory of Puerto Rico has the worst drinking water in the nation"

"69.4 percent of the population in Puerto Rico -- got their water from community water systems that violated the federal health-based standards"

Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel Legends figures, including Nebula and Mantis available for preorder

At the BBTS. Also available are a bunch of capsule toys I don't remember seeing sold individually before, including Pacific Rim and TMNT.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Take a look around China's loneliest subway station"

Sha:

Located on Chongqing Metro's Line 6, Caojiawan Station was finished back in 2015. Of its three planned exits, only one is currently is in use, the other two being overgrown with weeds and shrubbery.

...

After leaving the metro station, passengers enter a barren wasteland. The station is not connected to any major roads, meaning that commuters have to rely on a van service to get the rest of the way home.

Toy version of Kylo Ren's new ship

Supposedly.

"Tale of Brexiter who claimed his son bet £500 on far-right candidate to win French election amused many – but it was not true"

TG:

With a background in PR, the man said he had “duped a lot of reporters in the past” and knew how to make a hoax story such as this spread.

He created the account last month and attempted to make it look as legitimate as possible, retweeting leading Brexiters and tweeting in support of Le Pen.

“I wanted to try to create a story: obnoxious Brexiteer backs Le Pen, taunts liberals while endearing himself to [Andy] Wigmore, [David] Vance, [Arron] Banks etc (I hoped to get public support from them), loses bet and then throws a fit,” he said.

"LA Clippers are working toward introducing their new NBA Develo‎pment League franchise as the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario"

"Clippers are closing in on an announcement that would establish Agua Caliente Casino Resort -- one of the club's most prominent sponsors at the NBA level -- as the title sponsor of the club's looming D-League affiliate in a unique naming arrangement."

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Racial tensions inflame UCLA student body election, help lead to victory by students of color"

"At UCLA, the furor started with a photo of the [white] undergraduate student body president, making a hand sign associated with the Bloods."

Adolescent Groot Amazon Exclusive Action Figure available for preorder

At Amazon. (Who gets the Stallone figure?)

"Players and Listeners Both Prefer a New Violin to a Stradivarius"

"The results of this experiment, published today, mark the the third paper in which Fritz and colleagues have looked at the acoustic secrets of Stradivarius violins—and found that there isn't one. They are exquisite pieces of art and they sound great, but neither violinists nor listeners can distinguish their mythical sound from that of newer violins."

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in China (spoiler)

Spoiler:

I'm Mary Poppins y'all
...

Best line in the movie for me, laughed for a whole minute alone like an idiot at the cinema because nobody else in Hong Kong knows who Mary Poppins is.

Speaking of which, there are quite a few pop culture references which might be difficult to translate for overseas audience. Those David Hasselhoff, Knight Rider and Cheers references made very little sense to the audience at my showing.

Edit: I watched for a second time last night. Interesting that the Chinese subtitle has actually been changed since the first showing. It used to be a direct translation of the name Mary Poppins, now it's been changed to "Fairy godmother/nanny", more audience got the joke this time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

New Masters of the Universe figures available for preorder

Including Tri-Clops.

"Beijing engulfed by massive sandstorm"

Si:

Fine dust particles and sand swept in from the Gobi Desert caused the AQI readings in Beijing to soar as high as 905, a ludicrously high level even for Beijing. In China's rather lenient air quality rating system, readings of over 300 are considered "hazardous" with residents warned to avoid "all outdoor exertion." Beyond that, readings simply go "beyond index."

"The Money Is Rolling In For Liberal Hyperpartisan Sites And It’s Tearing Some Of Them Apart"

BF:

Last year, as traffic and revenue grew for liberal and conservative sites alike, tensions began to boil over. Hanson and Gouldman figure prominently in three lawsuits filed in 2016 that center around page ownership, finances, and an alleged improper disclosure of company secrets. Taken together, the filings show how a small number of big players control many of the dominant pages and sites in liberal hyperpartisan news, writers are often paid in the form of ad commissions from the content they create, and the top sites generate at least tens of thousands of dollars per month in revenue.

...

Willis of Liberal America says her site currently receives between 3 and 5 million visitors per month and that she makes between $30,000 and 50,000 in monthly ad revenue. Her site went from a hobby to a full-time job.

“All of us were shocked at the amount of money we could make,” she said.

"How a federal agent got away with terrorizing his Brazilian ex-girlfriend — even as she repeatedly begged the US government to stop him"

"A US law enforcement agent based in Brazil shared sensitive information about international drug-trafficking investigations with his girlfriend — and then, after she ended their affair, pursued a campaign of stalking and harassment that continues to this day."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Charter schools in Arizona

R/politics:

those charters are deliberately manipulating the enrollment process to ensure they do not have to educate poor and underprivileged students ...

The school set up a policy where students cannot walk or cycle to school, and they removed all bicycle parking. They did it under the claim that they were interested in student safety, and that riding or walking to school was un-safe.

A Redditor says: "Jostens Yearbooks scammed Our High School for Years"

Detailed explanation.

Mirror Universe Wesley Crusher



Star Trek: TNG: Mirror Broken #3 Cover by J.K. Woodward. Via.

"Alex Jones’s Media Empire Is a Machine Built to Sell Snake-Oil Diet Supplements"

NYM:

But sometime later that year, his business model changed completely. Since late 2013, Jones has been pushing a collection of dietary supplements designed to prey on the paranoias and insecurities of his listeners: Infowars Life Silver Bullet Colloidal Silver. Infowars Life Brain Force Plus. Infowars Life Super Male Vitality. Infowars Life Liver Shield. In a recent BuzzFeed profile of Jones, Charlie Warzel writes that the launch of Infowars dietary supplements “completely transformed” Infowars into a “media empire,” but this might even be underselling it — if not mischaracterizing the nature of Jones’s business. If you visit Infowars.com today, there is no “advertise with Infowars” link. Unlike other right-wing media empires, it does not appear to be supported by high-net-worth investors like Robert Mercer. Alex Jones is not trying to get you to subscribe to his video service anymore (though it still exists). In fact, he hasn’t even made a documentary film since 2012. And nearly every ad on his website sells just one thing: Infowars Life dietary supplements.

"A Lot Of People Think Saudi TV Censored Angela Merkel's Hair, Except It Definitely Didn't"

"It even has the site's logo as a watermark, clearly marking it as satire to Arabic audience."

"Cloudflare, a prominent San Francisco outfit, provides services to neo-Nazi sites like The Daily Stormer"

PP:

Cloudflare also has an added appeal to sites such as The Daily Stormer. It turns over to the hate sites the personal information of people who criticize their content. For instance, when a reader figures out that Cloudflare is the internet company serving sites like The Daily Stormer, they sometimes write to the company to protest. Cloudflare, per its policy, then relays the name and email address of the person complaining to the hate site, often to the surprise and regret of those complaining.
Relatedly.

"New Swiss spy found in German tax office"

"The Swiss secret service allegedly planted a spy in the financial administration of North Rhine-Westphalia to find out how they catch tax evaders in Switzerland."

"Facebook Is Shutting Down Its Award-Winning Oculus Story Studio"

"Also likely cancelled is the latest cinematic VR project of the studio, a virtual reality adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s children’s book 'The Wolves in the Walls,' which was expected to be released next year."

"A Principal Is Accused of Being a Communist, Rattling a Brooklyn School"

NYT:

Nathan Maybloom, a gym teacher, said Ms. Bloomberg created the atmosphere of fear by revealing to her staff the nature of an investigation that was supposed to be confidential. The investigation should go forward, he said. “When O.S.I. comes in, they are not usually coming in for a small little thing,” he said.

From my wishlist, Star Wars Bloodline is 60% off today

A precursor to The Force Awakens.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"Vancouver city council votes to trash new logo"

"Two months after the controversial introduction of a new logo for the City of Vancouver, council decided Tuesday to go back to the drawing board."

The Overlook Hotel in the trailer for The Dark Tower

"Apple, Facebook and Google logos have been removed from a giant statue of a mythical beast that will stand inside the sprawling cremation complex being built for Thailand's late king"

Yahoo:

One of the leading artists included logos for the tech giants on a two-metre tall statue of the Garuda -- a half-bird-half-human creature in Hindu and Buddhist mythology -- as a way of paying tribute to Bhumibol's embrace of technology.

But their inclusion sparked a backlash when photos of the statue were published online, prompting their removal and an apology from the artist.

Star Wars comics on sale

A bunch of recent Star Wars collections are on sale for $4.50 each--Lando and Darth Vader Vol. 3: The Shu-Torun War are both terrific.

Lego Finn vs The Lich



By Tim Lydy.

"Outside of the U.S., the Smiley Company owns the trademark on the [yellow smiley face] in 100 countries"

"Why DC Comics can’t use the most iconic Watchmen image outside of America"

$150 to attend The Guardians Of The Galaxy: Mission Breakout Premiere Party on Friday, May 26

Details.

Star-Lord Electronic Helmet available for preorder

"In addition to 2 glowing LED eyes, the Star-Lord Electronic Helmet features built-in speakers and music detection technology, so wearers can sync up their tunes"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"Meet the 'Dungeons & Dragons' Players Who Make a Living Running Games"

Glixel:

Securing a seat in Armstrong's tabletop campaigns cost $100 per month. He is, without a doubt, one of the most in-demand professional game masters on the internet. Gamemasters are responsible for directing the adventures and storylines that weave through RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder – they’re the people who decide when and where the scorpions emerge from the sand dunes. Armstrong is talented enough that his Patreon rakes in $3,300 a month, which meshes nicely with the 87,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. For $2,000, he's willing to fly to your city and host an in-person session with you and your friends, but most of his business happens in the fellowship of Google Hangouts.

"Mylan Chairman Received Nearly $100 Million Last Year"

"Mylan disclosed that its chairman received nearly $100 million last year, among the largest pay packages disclosed this year for any public company, even as the drugmaker was buffeted in 2016 by a public furor over hefty price increases on its lifesaving EpiPen."

"Casting JonBenét, my favorite film at this year's Sundance"

MTV:

At first, Casting JonBenét feels like a prank. There is no movie; or rather, the auditions are the movie. The actors are lousy, eager to please, and, like the tabloids, judgmental about Patsy and John Ramsey tarting up their daughter to turn her into a star. Patsy must have been “a royal bitch of a mother,” speculates a guy in a Santa costume. (A Santa impersonator was one suspect on the 1,600-person list topped by the Ramseys themselves and their 9-year-old son, Burke.) Yet these hypocritical men and women and stage parents are selling themselves, and their children, to Green. She opens on a shot of eight would-be JonBenéts in polka dots and ponytails scrambling for a seat.

...

The media thought Patsy and John acted suspiciously. But how do loving parents act? Her actors can't agree. When Green has her Patsys call 911, some cry, some panic, some stay calm, some scream.

"Legal Fight Could Make Kentucky Only State With No Abortion Clinic"

NYT:

Republicans, riding Donald J. Trump’s coattails, took control of the Kentucky House in November for the first time in 95 years. Their first order of business in January was to pass two measures restricting abortion — one banning the procedure after 20 weeks into a pregnancy, and the other requiring doctors to narrate ultrasounds in detail, regardless of patients’ wishes.

The A.C.L.U. is also challenging the ultrasound measure, on the grounds that it violates doctors’ First Amendment rights.

"Alabama's Outside Linebackers Coach Will Make $950,000 This Year"

DS:

Lupoi’s role on the Alabama coaching staff is to serve as the program’s star recruiter.

...

He left Washington in 2014 after being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly paying a recruit $4,500 in cash (he was not penalized in the case)

Original Star Tours in 360° and 4K

"How an Unfinished Game With No Marketing Came Out of Nowhere to Dominate the Internet"

NYM:

The game is called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds; it’s five weeks old, costs $30, and, technically, isn’t even finished. And — despite a release with no major marketing campaign or PR push — at any moment, 100,000 people are running it.

...

Battlegrounds’ success was “rooted in several factors,” Twitch’s Jason Maestas, senior director of partnerships, North America, told me. “The fanbase was already in place,” thanks to PlayerUnknown’s previous popular mods, for one. But, just as significantly, “their team has done a phenomenal job of getting the game into the hands of many of popular Twitch content creators” — according to Twitch’s data, “essentially every major variety and FPS streamer” is playing it.

That word-of-mouth distribution method, which can bring in millions in revenue without a traditional PR blitz, represents a dramatic shift in how games are sold, and how they are played.

"How rich hippies and developers went to war over Instagram’s favourite beach"

TG:

Over the past decade, the once-sleepy town, 75 miles south of Cancún, has become the kind of spiritual oasis particularly favoured by the fashion industry and wealthy New Yorkers.

...

People don’t just vacation in Tulum – they embark on personal journeys. “There are still bragging rights to saying you were in Tulum,” Condé Nast Traveler’s lifestyle editor Rebecca Misner told me. “It’s an easy way to telegraph that you’re a certain type of sophisticated but laid-back person.”

...

But this other-worldly pampering was rudely interrupted on 17 June 2016. That morning Uno Astrolodge’s founder, Nuno Silva, a rangy Portuguese 45-year-old with a soft voice and long bronze dreadlocks, was at home with his wife and daughter. Just after sunrise, the hotel manager ran across the road to alert him to a problem. There were hundreds of men amassing in the street outside Silva’s beachfront property, the manager told him. Some of them were armed with machetes and big sticks. They were coming to seize the hotel.

...

Silva and his manager woke Astrolodge’s off-season guests and told them to gather their belongings and leave the premises immediately. The mob was moving nearer, working its way down just over a mile of coveted beachfront real estate, forcing people to vacate hotels, private homes and businesses, and padlocking the gates behind them. When one property owner refused the armed men entry, he was pepper-sprayed in the face.

...

Silva had paid $60 per sq m for his land, a price that was considered high in 2000. By the time of the evictions, the going price was closer to $500 per sq m – an increase in excess of 800% in less than two decades.

"Historical Tragedies and the People Who Might Have Prevented Them Had They Not Died Sixteen Years Prior"

A thought-provoking list.

Figuarts Rocket & Baby Groot deluxe figures available for preorder

Looks like the Baby Groot is articulated and comes with dressed and undressed versions.

Monday, May 1, 2017

"The FBI translator who went rogue and married an ISIS terrorist"

"Within weeks of marrying Cuspert, Greene, 38, seemed to realize she had made a terrible mistake."