Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Workmen's cafe overwhelmed with customers after it is accidentally awarded a Michelin star"


Véronique Jacquet, who runs the café, said it had a regular clientèle of local tradesmen.

“Suddenly, we were rushed off our feet," she said. "Reporters were coming in and then my son phoned me from Paris, where he lives. He almost died laughing.”

They're making a Peter MacNicol/Dr. Janosz Poha action figure

New Ghostbusters figures. (I've updated my new toy reveal post. Also, the newly-revealed NECA and DC toys are available for preorder.)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"According to Nintendo, early Switch systems in the wild were stolen by employees of a distributor in the United States and illegally resold"


The individuals involved have been identified, terminated from their place of employment and are under investigation by local law enforcement authorities on criminal charges.

Nintendo Switch will launch worldwide on March 3, 2017, and we look forward to everyone being able to discover the wonders of the new system for themselves at that time."

"The thing that made Jurassic Park great was a reverence for intelligence"


Everyone in that movie, literally everyone, is smart and capable. The kids, the snivelling Lawyer, Even the fat slob bad guy Dennis Nedry. The movie goes to great pains to show that he's the best there is at his job.

For an early 90's action movie, this was a revelation. The 80's was full of 'shoot first, ask questions later' action heroes that were idolised for their can-do attitude and straight talkin', ' folksy stupidity. Smart people filled exactly two roles: the bad guy (whose smartness was a weakness exploited by the hero) or the bumbling sidekick and bully victim. Smart people were a plot device, existing only to be protected by the strong-yet-stupid hero, or defeated by their overthinking and their evil commie ways. Nerds are to be mocked. Jocks are the heroes. As for smart women, forget about it. Nerd ladies don't get to be married, let alone heroic.

Then along comes Jurassic Park. Here was a film where the baddest motherfucker on the screen was a chaos-mathlete ladykiller with a black leather leather jacket and 400 dollar shoes. The idea of a rockstar mathematician blew my mind when I saw it as a kid. You can be cool AND smart? sign me up! It's not limited to Ian Malcolm. A Teenage hacker girl and a shotgun weilding paleo-botanist to this day are some of my favourite female characters of all time.


Then we get Jurassic World.

Kurt Russell/Ego figure available for preorder

At EE. (I've been updating my recent toy reveal post.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

New toy reveals (updating)


MOSPEADA and Iron Man.




Marvel Legends.

More Marvel.

Lord of Light.


Bearded Ryu, Tyson, Ali.

Godzilla snowglobes.

Lego Star Wars and Guardians.

Batman vs. Predator.

Ash Puppet.

Ex Nihilo Marvel Legends.

Harley, Alfred, Supergirl.

Ripley and Trollhunters.

X-Statix Heroclix.

Amidala and Gamorean Realizations.

Splatoon figure available for preorder

As part of case or individually. Alien Covenant toys, too, but no pics.

"Chris Sullivan Wears A Fat Suit In 'This Is Us' And People Are Not Happy"


“We tested a lot of gentlemen who were bigger,” Metz said on WWHL. “And I get it, people think the authenticity is kind of ruined by [that decision to cast Sullivan], but Chris has been heavier and I think he does understand the plight of being overweight.”

"Samsung is warning customers about discussing personal information in front of their smart television set"


such TV sets "listen" to what is said and may share what they hear with Samsung or third parties


"If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."


The third party handling the translation from speech to text is a firm called Nuance Communications, Inc.

"Suspect in North Korea killing 'thought she was taking part in TV prank'"


An Indonesian woman arrested for suspected involvement in the killing of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother in Malaysia was duped into thinking she was part of a comedy show prank, Indonesia’s national police chief has said, citing information received from Malaysian authorities.

Tito Karnavian told reporters in Indonesia’s Aceh province that Siti Aisyah, 25, was paid to be involved in pranks.

He said she and another woman performed stunts which involved convincing men to close their eyes and then spraying them with water.

“Such an action was done three or four times and they were given a few dollars for it, and with the last target, Kim Jong-nam, allegedly there were dangerous materials in the sprayer,” Karnavian said. “She was not aware that it was an assassination attempt by alleged foreign agents.”


The second female suspect, who was captured on CCTV at the airport in a top emblazoned with “LOL” and arrested on Wednesday in possession of a Vietnamese passport, stayed at a hotel near the airport in the days before the attack, booking the cheapest room and carrying a wad of cash, according to a receptionist who spoke to Reuters.

She moved accommodation twice. Employees at the second hotel said she borrowed a pair of scissors from the front desk the evening before the attack, and that a member of housekeeping staff found hair on the floor and in the bin the next day. She then checked into another hotel on Monday afternoon. It is not known what her subsequent movements were before her arrest.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Why Does This One [$1,200] Couch From West Elm Suck So Much?"


Around when the throw pillows finally arrived, the couch began to disintegrate in small ways. We would scooch across a cushion at the wrong angle, and a button would pop off, leaving a fraying hole behind. We would lean back slightly too far, and all of the cushions would shift forward and over the edge of the couch in unison. As soon as one button had fallen off of our couch, it was like a spigot had been turned, allowing all of the other buttons to fall off, too. I emailed customer service and asked if this was normal. They sent me a button-repair kit, indicating that this probably happens a lot. The kit was backordered, so it arrived two full months later and contained a wooden dowel, two buttons, and some directions that didn’t make sense. One direction was to “Hold the cushion properly and make sure the pointed end of the stick is all the way through, until you can see both ends of the stick on each side of the cushion.” I tried in earnest to follow the directions, but the wooden dowel would not fit into the buttonholes, and the entire exercise left me with fewer buttons than I started with.

I became obsessed with the extremely banal mistake I had made as a consumer. You know how you’re not supposed to talk about the weather or your commute because they’re boring? The same is true of couches. The craziest fucking couch in the world is still not more exciting than the Q train running on the R line because of scheduled track maintenance. But I was obsessed, and all I could talk about was the couch. The more I talked about the couch, the more I heard from people having the same problem. It turned out that an unusually large number of our friends owned the same exact couch and were extremely miffed at West Elm about it.

"My tale of Puzder’s 'Oprah' tape"


Andrew Puzder didn’t want the tape to resurface. Oprah Winfrey fought efforts to obtain it.

It was a high-profile domestic violence victim from the 1980s going public with the video that eventually led to the first — and possibly only — Trump Cabinet nominee to pull out under pressure.

My search for Puzder’s “Oprah” tape spanned more than two months, two coasts and hours spent digging through at least 90 episodes buried in an archive for more than 25 years. The hunt ended Tuesday with the discovery of the videotape in a private collection less than an hour from the White House.

"evidence suggests Bieber accounted for more than half of Chris Paul's Twitter [NBA All-Star] votes"

"Zaza Pachulia, Justin Bieber, Macedonian Twitter bots and the insanity of NBA All-Star voting"

All 30 NBA Logos Reimagined for Black History Month


"China’s rapid rise up the ranks of AI research has people taking notice"


Each winter, hundreds of AI researchers from around the world convene at the annual meeting of the Association of the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Last year, a minor crisis erupted over the schedule, when AAAI announced that 2017’s meeting would take place in New Orleans in late January. The location was fine. The dates happened to conflict with Chinese New Year.

The holiday might not have been a deal breaker in the past, but Chinese researchers have become so integral to the meeting, it could not go on without them. They had to reschedule. “Nobody would have put AAAI on Christmas day,” says current AAAI president Subbarao Kambhampati. “Our organization had to almost turn on a dime and change the conference venue to hold it a week later.”


The language issue creates a kind of asymmetry: Chinese researchers usually speak English so they have the benefit of access to all the work disseminated in English. The English-speaking community, on the other hand, is much less likely to have access to work within the Chinese AI community.

"Thai police left empty handed after a day-long search of a massive Buddhist temple for a monk wanted over a multi-million-dollar scam"


The former abbot is believed to be holed up inside the compound, which is famous for its space-age architecture, though he has not been seen in public for months.

Police issued a warrant for his arrest last year on charges of money laundering and accepting embezzled funds worth 1.2 billion baht ($33 million) from the jailed owner of a cooperative bank.

Previous attempts to raid the temple have been thwarted after thousands of devotees showed up to defend the elderly abbot.


In a day of high drama and stagecraft, some 4,000 unarmed police and soldiers descended on the site before dawn, locking down roads leading to the compound.

Blackwater's Erik Prince "Is Setting Up A Private Army For China"


Former associates of the 47-year-old Prince told BuzzFeed News that the controversial businessman envisions using the bases to train and deploy an army of Chinese retired soldiers who can protect Chinese corporate and government strategic interests around the world, without having to involve the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

In December, Frontier Services Group, of which Prince is chairman, issued a press release that outlined plans to open “a forward operating base in China’s Yunnan province” and another in the troubled Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

“He’s been working very, very hard to get China to buy into a new Blackwater,” said one former associate. “He’s hell bent on reclaiming his position as the world’s preeminent private military provider.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Mass sexual assaults by refugees in Frankfurt ‘completely made up’"

"Prosecutors in Frankfurt are investigating two people for making up a crime, after they claimed in a national newspaper that dozens of Arab men rioted and sexually assaulted women at New Year."

First responder nightmare fuel

Don't click through to the comments from other first responders...

Gabe Newell on Nintendo (and the current state of virtual reality)


"You can always be surprised. I personally thought the DS was kind of stupid. I thought Sony was going to crush Nintendo in that generation of handheld devices. Clearly the DS ended up being the winner.

"The flipside was the first time I played Wii Sports. I thought, my god, there's so much potential for us to discover. Then it turned out that Wii Sports had pretty much nailed it and that was it.


"We're at the beginning of this,” he adds. “Vive is the most expensive device on the market. It's barely capable of doing a marginally adequate job of delivering a VR experience. We have to figure out all sorts of other problems before even the hardware question gets answered, much less what’s going to be the compelling content.

"Planet, Inc will be the first to hit a long-discussed milestone in the industry: It will photograph every place on the entire planet every day"


Planet . . . announced that it will deploy 88 small satellites later this month, as part of a rocket launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in southeastern India on February 14. Assuming that most of the spacecraft make it to orbit intact, these satellites should become fully operational by the summer.

When that happens, Planet will be the first to hit a long-discussed milestone in the industry: It will photograph every place on the entire planet every day. Every park, every rice paddy, every patch of pine and permafrost: all will be imaged anew, daily, at medium resolution.

Planet says that the India launch will break the record for most satellites deployed on a single rocket. Launches remain one of the most costly aspects of the space business, and the company has gotten burned for its frugality before. Its leaders know, from firsthand experience, that not its satellites all will survive the journey to space. In October 2014, Planet became the first company ever to lose 26 satellites at once when an Antares rocket exploded on the tarmac.

Why mobile game Star Wars Force Arena is in "free fall" on the charts

A detailed look at what made Clash Royale such a hit, and Force Arena such an (apparent) failure.

Overwatch Tracer Nendoroid available for preorder


"Jim Harbaugh Hired The Parent Of A Top Recruit Again"


In 2015, Harbaugh hired the mother of Stanford transfer Wayne Lyons to be a director of player development. Last January, he hired the high school football coach from Paramus Catholic, and then signed the country’s top recruit, Rashan Gary from—you guessed it—Paramus Catholic. Last February, after Devin Bush Jr. signed with the Wolverines, Harbaugh added Devin Bush Sr. to the coaching staff.

"The Strange Case Of The Russian Diplomat Who Got His Head Smashed In On Election Day"


Initial reports said the nameless man had plunged to his death from the roof of the consulate. As journalists rushed to the scene, consular officials quickly changed the narrative. The anonymous man had not fallen dozens of feet from the roof of the consular building, they said, but rather had suffered a heart attack in the security office, and died.


English-language news reports said Krivov, identified then only as a 63-year-old Russian national and Manhattan resident, was a security officer. But a November report from Sputnik, the English-language Russian media outlet, says he was a consular duty commander.

That position is no ordinary security guard. According to other public Russian-language descriptions of the duty commander position, Krivov would have been in charge of, among other things, “prevention of sabotage” and suppression of “attempts of secret intrusion” into the consulate.

"the NBA’s Development League, commonly known as the D-League, will be known as the Gatorade League, or the G-League"


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Koalas are horrible animals"

For starters:

They have one of the smallest brain to body ratios of any mammal, additionally - their brains are smooth. A brain is folded to increase the surface area for neurons. If you present a koala with leaves plucked from a branch, laid on a flat surface, the koala will not recognise it as food. They are too thick to adapt their feeding behaviour to cope with change. In a room full of potential food, they can literally starve to death. This is not the token of an animal that is winning at life. Speaking of stupidity and food, one of the likely reasons for their primitive brains is the fact that additionally to being poisonous, eucalyptus leaves (the only thing they eat) have almost no nutritional value.

iPhone cases made with the "most exclusive and beautiful butterfly wings"

The Royal Collection:

The Rajah Brooke butterfly is CITES II restricted and extremely difficult to farm sustainably. As a result, we have a very limited number of artefacts offered each year. The KHAMAMA RAJAH BROOKE artefact comes with an exclusive international CITES II permit certificate.

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which is accepted by 183 countries worldwide and ensures the protection of rare species.

"Steve Young is in damage control mode, apologizing to ESPN after participating in a profile that sure made it look like he’s not that into the NFL or his Monday Night Football analyst job"

"and even seemed to imply his MNF job is merely a means to bolster his private equity firm."

"PewDiePie Exit Brings Disney’s Struggles With Maker Studios to the Fore"


Walt Disney Co.’s decision to cut ties with YouTube megastar PewDiePie has heightened the urgency within the entertainment company to figure out what it should do with digital video network Maker Studios three years after the media giant acquired it for more than $500 million.


New efforts are under way for Maker talent to produce content on digital platforms and television tied to existing Disney brands. Already, Maker has done a number of “unboxing” videos in which its personalities promote toys and other products tied to Disney franchises like “Star Wars.”

Disney acquired Maker at a time when so-called “multichannel networks” were popular and were seen as a way of reaching young audiences who were abandoning traditional television.

Luke's disguise as bounty hunter Korl Marcus in The Last Jedi

Luke and Leia go undercover in Star Wars #49.

And in other Star Wars news, "The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident involving Harrison Ford which took place Monday at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., when the actor landed on the wrong runway near a full passenger plane."

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Goldman Sachs has already begun to automate currency trading, and has found consistently that four traders can be replaced by one computer engineer"


At its height back in 2000, the U.S. cash equities trading desk at Goldman Sachs’s New York headquarters employed 600 traders, buying and selling stock on the orders of the investment bank’s large clients. Today there are just two equity traders left.

Automated trading programs have taken over the rest of the work, supported by 200 computer engineers.


In addition to back-office clerical workers, on Wall Street machines are replacing a lot of highly paid people, too.

"Josh Elliott was dramatically fired from CBS News on Monday after a bizarre series of events"


Elliott now has the dubious distinction of having left all three main networks.

He was a co-host at ABC’S “Good Morning America”, but abruptly quit in 2014 after he was poached by NBC. He later revealed he took a pay cut to leave, and was paid an estimated $4 million a year by NBC.

His resignation effectively burned all his bridges with ABC News chiefs, particularly Ben Sherwood, who had big plans for him.

But over on NBC, Elliott as rarely seen on air, and was effectively sidelined, appearing occasionally

Swamp Thing Injustice 2 gameplay

"A Surreal Trip to a Domain-Names Conference"


Before NamesCon, I thought of myself as a pretty serious domain names enthusiast.


good TLDs and good words together don’t always work (as was explained to the owner of and in one session). Long-time domainers also had oddly specific advice—”Hyphens make your domain less valuable—unless you’re in Germany” and “.info is a dead zone.”


While doesn’t appear to be a particularly compelling domain, Cyger argued that if you “just search [the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] for cranberry,” it becomes apparent that a lot of companies have hinged their brand to that one word. (Searching USPTO’s patents database for assignees with “cranberry” in their name actually only offers up three companies, so maybe it wasn’t the best example, but conceptually I guess it makes sense). There’s a whole vocabulary for these domain investments—”generics” like the word, “brandables” which are basically ideas for products that don’t exist yet but might eventually, the ultra-rare “numerics” which mostly seem useful for Chinese markets because of the use of numbers in pinyin, a transliteration of Chinese words into the Latin alphabet.

"New Jersey has become the first state to adopt a broad program to reduce infant deaths by aiming to distribute as many as 105,000 of the so-called baby boxes"

"Baby boxes, which have a snug-fitting mattress, have been handed out to new parents for decades in Finland, which has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, and less than half that of the United States."

"Is China on a collision course with world football’s governing body?"


This raises a broader concern about multiple ownership and conflicts of interest. Indeed, reliable reports indicate that the English Premier League has hired investigators to examine China’s portfolio of English club acquisitions for connections to the government. Standards of governance within China are often opaque, an issue compounded when the state is involved and the country’s investors are moving capital across international boundaries.

Ideally, FIFA should intervene to provide guidance and leadership. The problem is, football’s world governing body appears to be rather in thrall to China at the moment.

The organisation’s scandals of recent years have mired it in financial difficulty, something Chinese property group Wanda admits it took advantage of

Apocalypse War Judge Dredd available for preorder

Multiple hands, faces, weapons, removable cloak.

"Thanks to new machines that let customers flavor their drinks however they want, Coca Cola discovered that what people really wanted was Cherry Sprite"


eight years after introducing the machines, which have made their way into movie theaters and fast food outlets around the country, Coca-Cola is unveiling its first product created using all that data. People have spent years dialling their own flavor combinations into the machine, and the lesson was simple: The people demand Sprite Cherry.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Books in the Old Man's War series are on sale today

They're all $2.99 today at Amazon. I enjoyed books 1 and 2 and bought 3. I also picked up Redshirts for $2.99, which won the Hugo for best novel.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Homemade Scarif board for wargaming

"The 72 cancer therapies approved from 2002 to 2014 gave patients only 2.1 more months of life than older drugs"


And those are the successes.


Cancer drugs approved last year cost an average of $171,000 a year


Recognizing the slow pace of progress, the American Society of Clinical Oncology has set goals for new cancer drugs of extending life or controlling tumors for at least 2.5 months.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Star Wars-themed introduction to numbers book illustrated by Katie Cook

Out next week, available for preorder.

"the food-centric ASMR community has seen a sudden ascendance up the rungs of YouTube and Reddit worlds"


On September 6, 2016, Rebekkah, better known by her YouTube channel name Hungry Cakes, uploaded a 13-minute-long video titled “ASMR: Taco Bell Taco Supreme *Eating Sounds*.” The video begins with the young woman sinking her teeth into a golden hard-shelled Taco Supreme


Tired of cooking shows with egocentric hosts and cheesy music, he focused his show entirely on meal preparation and made special use of the sounds that occurred naturally as he was cooking.

When he posted a video showing how to make a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, Nelson realized that his hits weren’t coming from an audience in need of cooking lessons. Many of his viewers were captivated instead by the tingling sensations his video triggered.

“The ASMR crowd [on Reddit] got ahold of them,” Nelson says. “I had no idea what it was, so I Googled it, and [I was] fascinated.” Although he doesn’t experience the tingles from ASMR, he believes that almost everyone reacts in same way to soft sounds like the sensual hiss produced by searing a steak or light metallic scratches from a metal whisk. After awakening to this previously unknown audience, he began focusing on these sensory effects. “I decided to have that really be at the forefront of my videos,” Nelson says. “So now they’re all about the visuals and they’re all about the sound.”

Marshal Law figure prototype

The first episode of Legion is a free download at iTunes