Monday, April 23, 2018

Swimming among sleeping sperm whales

Top Shot: Sleeping Beauties | Photograph by Fabrice Guerin (@fabriceguerin) . #YourShotPhotographer Fabrice Guerin captured this peaceful moment while on a scientific underwater mission and observed sperm whales half sleeping. He writes, “Nature provides us beautiful surprises. To meet the giant of the oceans is an unforgettable moment. Sperm whales are able to half-sleep in a vertical position. The scientist swam several times among them without disturbing them. He swam from one sperm whale to another like a guest to say hello. Amazing moment!” This photo was selected for April 20, 2018 Daily Dozen. — Top Shot features the photo with the most votes from the previous day’s Daily Dozen, 12 photos chosen by the Your Shot editors from thousands of recent uploads. Our community votes for their favorite photo from the selection, and the Top Shot is showcased on the @natgeoyourshot Instagram account.
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MAFEX Ultimate Spider-Man figure available for preorder

With magnets in the hands and feet.

23andMe "is offering free kits to researchers studying populations in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere—but the ethics are tricky"


23andMe is best known for selling DNA test kits, but the company’s real value lies in the data of its 5 million customers. The bigger its genetic database, the more insights 23andMe can glean from DNA. That, in turn, means the more it can tell customers about their ancestry and health and the more valuable the data it shares with academic scientists and sells to pharmaceutical companies for research. About 80 percent of 23andMe customers choose to participate in such research.

As impressive as 23andMe’s genetic database is, it still has noticeable gaps—especially among Africans, Middle Easterners, Central Asians, Southeast Asians, and indigenous Americans.


The latest is the Population Collaborations Program, which allows U.S.-based scientists already studying underrepresented groups to apply for free spit kits and DNA analysis. In return, 23andMe gets to add the DNA to its database.

Mezco One:12 Collective Darkseid available for preorder

At the BBTS.

Lego shirtless Kylo Ren

By Tom Vanhaelen.

"For the 11th consecutive season, Major League Baseball is going to set a record for strikeouts"

"At the current pace in 2018, they will strike out 43,163 times, which would obliterate the record of 40,104 set last year"

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"The horror of Vault 11"


Vault 11 is my favourite vault in the Fallout series. When I first encountered it, in the thrilling days after Obsidian's wonderful Fallout: New Vegas came out in 2010, it took me by surprise. Its story unfolds like a horrific picture book, each room and corridor and terminal adding yet another layer of dread. And it made me think. It made me think about what it means to be human, the good, the bad and the very, very ugly. Eight years later, Vault 11 remains firmly rooted in my memory, as if it were a real place I once stumbled upon during a drug-fuelled road-trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, the kind of trip you taste on your tongue when you remember it, so stark were the events.

"For decades the BBC denied that job applicants were subject to political vetting by MI5"


But in fact vetting began in the early days of the BBC and continued until the 1990s


The fear was that "evilly disposed" engineers might sabotage the network at a critical time, or that conspirators might discredit the BBC so that "the way could be made clear for a left-wing government".


If staff came under suspicion only after they had been employed by the BBC or applied for transfer to a job that needed vetting, an image resembling a Christmas tree was drawn on their personal file.


The Christmas tree was eventually dropped in 1984 because it was said to attract too much attention.

European Stone Stacking Championship 2018

More here.

Brandon Belt had the longest at bat in major league history

The Razorback (racing ship from The Expanse)

Speaking of TV, Family Ingredients is my favorite travel/cooking show

You can watch at PBS.

New Scandinavian Cooking is good, too.

Forged in Fire: Knife or Death, hosted by Goldberg

They took regular Forged in Fire and replaced all the forging with blade-wielding on obstacle courses.  In the first episode, a ninja, samurai, and cowboy face off.

Appropriate gifs inserted into Magic the Gathering cards

Emma Gonzalez sculpture up for bid (for charity)

By Mike Leavitt, available at ebay.

Donating 90% of proceeds to charity @marchforourlives.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

"She fought them for a whole 24 hours as she wasn’t ready to mate"

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"Olympic gymnast said the now-imprisoned former USA Gymnastics team doctor groomed her with food"


“I would’ve starved at the Olympics if I didn’t have him bring me food,” Maroney said, adding that Nassar bought her a loaf of bread. “Your coaches are just always watching you and wanting to keep you skinny. There’s just other things about the culture that are also messed up that he used against us.”

"The twelve of us at Campo Santo have agreed to join Valve"


Yes, we’re still making In the Valley of Gods (as a Valve game!); yes, we’ll still support Firewatch; and yes, we’ll still produce The Quarterly Review and our regular blog content. Thanks so much for your interest in our games and we’ll see you in Washington.

Ten funny tweets

Last few minutes of the first half of the Sixers-Heat game

"A condemned house in Northern California with holes in the roof and mildew in the pipes sold last month for $1.23 million"


The three-bedroom, two-bath house closed $230,000 over the asking price on March 30, Gallegos said.

"There are so many 20-year-old millionaires in the area that it really didn't surprise me," he said.

Walmart unloading 6" Star Wars figures at $.03 each

"unable to sell some of these even at $5.00 each, some stores have lowered the price to mere pennies"

"I'm unduly irritated by the meat pie couple story going viral"


The whole point of the blog was to celebrate the way local newspapers have to resort to reporting on tedious local happenings which are strangely entertaining, often funny, and kind of charming. This story is none of those things. It's just crap.


Here are a couple of [their] previous local news appearances, when they were given a court injunction for harassing their neighbours with endless complaints (106) and filming them on CCTV. They're probably not nice people. They're serial complainers.

"Abandoned fox cub adopted by orphaned baby badgers at animal sanctuary"


She said that because they were all without their mothers and of similar size they thought they could place together while keeping a close eye on them.


The two badger cubs were discovered wandering in the street in Meltham, West Yorkshire.

Phoebe’s family was nowhere to be found, but an adult badger, believed to be Betty and Bella’s mother, was seen dead on a road nearby.

The trio now eat, sleep and play together every day.

New Mexico "bail reform prompts three bail bondsmen to run for" judge


The bail bonding business has dwindled since last July after the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that judges are not allowed to issue excessive bonds.


Gonzales, who is running for Santa Fe County Magistrate Court Judge Division I, has questioned why some judges have released many arrestees with no bond at all.

“I don't know if maybe they have lost touch with the community, but all of the citizens – you know, the common folk – they all see that crime is higher than it's ever been,” Gonzales said.

"T-Mobile USA has agreed to pay a $40 million fine after admitting that it failed to complete phone calls in rural areas and used "false ring tones" that created the appearance that the calls were going through and no one was picking up"

"T-Mobile admitted that it used the fake ring tones on 'hundreds of millions of calls' each year, the FCC said."

Star Wars: Choose Your Destiny book is $3.99

At Amazon:

Jump inside the Millennium Falcon and help Han and Chewie as they journey across the galaxy on a simple smuggling job. But nothing is ever simple with Han Solo, and when things go wrong, Han pretends to be Jabba the Hutt to save himself, Chewie, and the Millennium Falcon. And that's when things go from bad to worse! With over twenty possible outcomes, readers will have to think like a true smuggler to keep Han and Chewie safe from Imperial TIE fighters, Mandalorian mercenaries, and so much more! With so many different story paths, the adventures never end!
This choice probably not included:

Scott Van Pelt was Niles Crane's larger brother

New Alien-themed tee at Last Exit to Nowhere

Nostromo boot screen.

Friday, April 20, 2018

"Getting Hunted by Ewoks in Star Wars: Battlefront II Is as Terrifying as Any Horror Movie"


The most recent of these, added this week, is “Ewok Hunt,” which tasks a group of Stormtroopers, left on Endor the night the Death Star II blew up, with surviving in the dark until a shuttle can evacuate them. The thing is, you’re surviving against a team of human players playing as Ewoks themselves—and if you die as a Stormtrooper, you join Team Yub Nub in their quest to murder every last plasteel-covered Imperial on the planet.


Stormtroopers are forced to play from a first-person perspective (Battlefront II, by default, is played in third-person), making it much harder for you to be aware of your surroundings, and therefore easy for an Ewok to sneak up on you and plant a spear in your backside. When your trooper’s low on health, or tired from sprinting away from an attack, you hear their labored breathing under the helmet. It makes even the quiet moments in matches where you’re waiting for the inevitable onslaught all the tenser.

Batman and the Flash figures

Derek and Ray figures by Jei Tseng.

From an AMA with Madeline Miller


I think Heath Ledger might have made a wonderful Achilles. He wasn't in my mind when I wrote, but after the book came out, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You for the first time (I know, I am behind the times), and thought of it


In the case of Circe, it took me five years, and I threw out 500 pages before I could get to my actual first sentence. But after that it goes faster, thankfully!


I have always loved Philoctetes, who gets a brief mention in both The Song of Achilles and Circe. He's Heracles' friend who lights the funeral pyre to incinerate Heracles and make him a god. In thanks, Heracles gives him his magic bow. But on the way to the Trojan War, he is bitten by a magical snake and the wound festers, weeping and stinking. So Odysseus leaves him on the island, where he spends the next TEN YEARS alone, with his excruciating, foul wound. Then the Greeks realize that there's a prophecy that they can't defeat Troy unless he fights on their side. So they have to go retrieve him. And he's NOT HAPPY. This is all the subject of a gorgeous, moving tragedy by Sophocles (Philoctetes), which is one of my all-time favorite pieces of ancient poetry. Philoctetes' monologues about being old and in pain, and feeling left behind by the world are heart-breaking. Even though it has a surprisingly happy ending for a tragedy, it still makes me tear up.

Trivia fact: Philoctetes is the one who kills Paris.

"A former U.S. Army sniper and two other ex-American soldiers were convicted Wednesday in the contract killing of a real estate agent in the Philippines for an international crime boss who thought the woman had cheated him on a land deal"

"a case that’s provided an inside glimpse into the secret fraternity of private mercenaries willing to kill in cold blood for cash"


A Veteran DEA Agent Is Under Investigation In Colombia For Serious Corruption Allegations


The sources said the scope of the case is believed to be unprecedented in the agency’s history.

Jeff Bezos on writing good business memos

From his letter to shareholders:

Perfect Handstands

A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. She then practiced for a while but wasn’t getting the results she wanted. So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but evidently this is an actual thing that exists. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice. “Most people,” he said, “think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you’re just going to end up quitting.” Unrealistic beliefs on scope – often hidden and undiscussed – kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be – something this coach understood well.

Six-Page Narratives

We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively structured six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of “study hall.” Not surprisingly, the quality of these memos varies widely. Some have the clarity of angels singing. They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussion. Sometimes they come in at the other end of the spectrum.

In the handstand example, it’s pretty straightforward to recognize high standards. It wouldn’t be difficult to lay out in detail the requirements of a well-executed handstand, and then you’re either doing it or you’re not. The writing example is very different. The difference between a great memo and an average one is much squishier. It would be extremely hard to write down the detailed requirements that make up a great memo. Nevertheless, I find that much of the time, readers react to great memos very similarly. They know it when they see it. The standard is there, and it is real, even if it’s not easily describable.

Here’s what we’ve figured out. Often, when a memo isn’t great, it’s not the writer’s inability to recognize the high standard, but instead a wrong expectation on scope: they mistakenly believe a high-standards, six-page memo can be written in one or two days or even a few hours, when really it might take a week or more! They’re trying to perfect a handstand in just two weeks, and we’re not coaching them right. The great memos are written and re-written, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind. They simply can’t be done in a day or two. The key point here is that you can improve results through the simple act of teaching scope – that a great memo probably should take a week or more.

"A group of sea-dwelling people in Southeast Asia have evolved into better divers"

"The Bajau had spleens about 50 percent bigger on average than those of the Saluan."

This is an excellent podcast on a related topic:

In DEEP: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells us about Ourselves James Nestor follows extreme athletes, adventurers, and scientists as they plumb the limits of the ocean's depths and uncover startling discoveries that, in many cases, redefine our understanding of the ocean and ourselves.

Freedivers dive without scuba gear, holding their breath longer than had been thought humanly possible, and thus confirming the legendary feats of Japanese pearl divers. Nestor explains that the human body actually adapts in real time as it reaches depths where we’d expect it to be crushed. For experienced freedivers a “master switch” flips and they are able to handle the pressure and their body automatically ration oxygen to safely extend their time below.

But free diving is only the beginning. Nestor explains how citizen scientist freedivers interact with sperm whales and other sea life in ways that are not possible using other technologies. They can swim within feet of these giant mammals. And the whales amazingly reorient themselves as if to start a conversation. In fact they send clicks (recordings of which Nestor plays onstage) which are used for communication, not geolocation. When you realize how developed the brains of these creatures are, it’s not surprising that they would have something to say. And considering the possibilities of communicating with dolphins and whales is something that Nestor feels strongly about (as he mentioned in an Ignite Talk he gave for us in 02016).

There’s even more in this talk including evidence of how some humans use extra-sensory capabilities that are employed by sharks and whales: magnetic sensitivity and echolocation. In languages that feature cardinal directions rather than relative ones, native speakers always orient themselves correctly in numerous studies--no compass needed. Humans can teach themselves echolocation, and in fact he introduces us to a group of young blind man who uses clicks to enable him to ride a bike through the city and tell one object from another.

"Writer in Residence Position – Romance Fiction North York [Toronto] Central Library"

"Applications must be received at the address below by Friday, May 11, 2018"

"In good weather, men typically drop out of [the Boston Marathon] at lower rates than women do, but this year, women fared better. Why"?


The winning times for both men and women were the slowest since the 1970s, and the midrace dropout rate was up 50 percent overall from last year.

But finishing rates varied significantly by gender. For men, the dropout rate was up almost 80 percent from 2017; for women, it was up only about 12 percent. Overall, 5 percent of men dropped out, versus just 3.8 percent of women. The trend was true at the elite level, too.


But at the same race in 2012, on an unusually hot 86-degree day, women also finished at higher rates than men, the only other occasion between 2012 and 2018 when they did.

Spring football one-handed catches

"The CIA Says Mike Pompeo Didn't Fight in the Gulf War"


In the frenzied game of musical chairs that is the Trump administration, CIA Director Mike Pompeo is set to become the next Secretary of State. It’s an ideal time, then, to clarify details of his biography, including a rather major one: did Pompeo, as numerous profiles have stated, fight in the Gulf War? We asked the CIA, who confirmed that he absolutely did not.


the claim that Pompeo was deployed or fought in the Gulf War has been repeated by, among others, 51 members of Congress, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy, voicing their support for his appointment as Secretary of State
Boston Globe Columnist Suspended During Investigation Of Marathon Bombing Stories That Don't Add Up
Famed sculptor Jeff Koons and the superdealer Larry Gagosian are pulling a Ponzi scheme on the world’s richest art collectors, according to a scathing new lawsuit by multimillionaire investor Steven Tananbaum.

"Facebook Didn’t Seem To Care I Was Being Sexually Harassed Until I Decided To Write About It"


He sent me a screenshot of a photo posted in the private Facebook group “Emperor Trumps Dank Meme Stash,” which had more than 72,000 members at the time.


Whereas trolls used to work under the cover of relative anonymity on sites like 4chan and Reddit, many of the Facebook users who commented on my photo and sent me grotesque messages, astonishingly, felt comfortable enough to do so using their real profiles ― with their real names, photos, locations and even places of employment listed.

"Terrifying Tumbleweeds Take Over California City, Trapping Residents Inside Homes"


Victorville, located about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, has been invaded by the wind-blown objects. Footage shows the weeds tumbling down the streets and stacking up against homes, forming two-story mounds that blocked some residents inside. Many had to call 911 for help.

"Fortnite Camp and Unreal Engine Level Design"

"This summer, don't just play Fortnite—unleash the power of the game development tool used to create it. With Unreal Engine by Epic Games, you'll design your own Fortnite-inspired levels while discovering gameplay strategies, game mechanics, team-building, streaming, and level-design analysis in Fortnite."

"Flickr has been snapped up by Silicon Valley photo-sharing and storage company SmugMug"

"Founded in 2002, SmugMug has been around even longer than Flickr"

All Systems Red audiobook is $1.95 right now

at Amazon. (Haven't listened to it, but the book is great, and the sequel is even better.)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Neptune Falcon exercise, "half of our nation’s entire B-2 fleet … airborne at once!"

"King Mswati III of Swaziland announced on Wednesday that he was renaming the country "the Kingdom of eSwatini""

"The monarch announced the official change in a stadium during celebrations for . . . the king's 50th birthday"

Star Wars roundup

(Chewbacca available at at ebay.)

Did Meghan Markle post and then delete a photo of Prince Harry wearing a sweatshirt that said "Dorothy on the streets, Blanche in the sheets"?

Buzzfeed investigates.  (Available at Amazon.)

"A stinking trainload of human waste from New York City is stranded in a tiny Alabama town, spreading a stench like a giant backed-up toilet"


the sludge-hauling train cars have sat idle near the little league ball fields for more than two months


The poop train's cargo is bound for the Big Sky landfill, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of Parrish. The landfill has been accepting the New York sewage sludge since early 2017. Previously, it was transferred from trains to trucks in nearby West Jefferson, but officials there obtained an injunction to keep the sludge out of their town.
It just may be the most expensive bridge in the country.


For commuters like Marcel Vantuyn, the tolls add up quickly, even with E-ZPass discounts. He pays $88.85 every week in combined tolls for the Verrazano and Goethals bridges just to shuttle back and forth between his home in Brooklyn and his job in Elizabeth, N.J.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The opening anecdote from last night's episode of Legion was based on a true story

Nightmare fuel.

Bonus screenshots:

Alien 4 Ripley figurine (with basketball)

Available for preorder. Alien 4 Ron Perlman, and Aliens 3 Yutani commando, too.

"Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law"


If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller.

Episode 2 of Killing Eve is streaming

"Intel Plans to Shut Down Smart Glasses Group"

Today: "Intel’s long-failing foray into wearables and augmented reality is officially dead."


Exclusive first look at Vaunt, which uses retinal projection to put a display in your eyeball


The prototypes I wore in December also felt virtually indistinguishable from regular glasses. They come in several styles, work with prescriptions, and can be worn comfortably all day. Apart from a tiny red glimmer that’s occasionally visible on the right lens, people around you might not even know you’re wearing smart glasses.

Like Google Glass did five years ago, Vaunt will launch an “early access program” for developers later this year. But Intel’s goals are different than Google’s. Instead of trying to convince us we could change our lives for a head-worn display, Intel is trying to change the head-worn display to fit our lives.


So, yeah: lasers in your eye. Don’t worry, though, says Eastwood. “It is a class one laser. It’s such low power that we don’t [need it certified],”

"Fans of the British royals have been awash in glittering titillation over the upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle"

Says Reuters.

Gimlet posted new podcast seasons today (first episodes of both are good)

Profile of Lakers GM (and former player) Rob Pelinka


On weekends, his dad drove him to the South Side so he could taste real competition. After graduating from Lake Forest in ’88, he earned a coveted spot in the Schlitz League.

Pelinka and Maurice Cheeks formed the backcourt for Luster Premium Hair Products. Mark Aguirre and Kendall Gill played for Seville Motel, Tim Hardaway and Nick Anderson for First Chicago Bank, Ken Norman for Johnnie Walker Red, Kevin Duckworth for Seduction By Rodney. But they were all fodder for the powerhouse from Playboy, fronted by Michael Jordan, Doc Rivers and Terry Cummings.


Doubleheaders unfolded every Sunday and Monday night from mid-July to mid-August at Illinois Institute of Technology. Admission was free. Once, a gunman strode onto the floor, and Pelinka was so stunned by the ringing shots he forgot to hit the deck. A teammate had to tackle him.


During Pelinka’s hourlong commute in his self-driving Tesla, he watched college clips on Synergy Sports

JK Rowling today

Question and response:

Which led to a discussion of Tolkien:

Meanwhile, Clickhole:

"Publishing giant Pearson recently conducted an experiment involving more than 9,000 unwitting students at 165 different U.S. colleges and universities"


Without seeking prior consent from participating institutions or individuals, the company embedded "growth-mindset" and other psychological messaging into some versions of one of its commercial learning software programs. The company then randomly assigned different colleges to use different versions of that software, tracking whether students who received the messages attempted and completed more problems than their counterparts at other institutions.
A few years after the Second World War, Muzafer Sherif conducted possibly the most complex field studies ever attempted in social psychology. Sited in summer camps around the United States, they focused on conflict and cooperation within and between two groups of about a dozen 11- and 12-year-old boys. The children were never informed that they were taking part in research. In each study, Sherif and his fellow researchers spent up to three weeks disguised as counsellors and caretakers, manipulating features of the camp set-up — in particular, the structure of team competitions and challenges — to examine their impact on group relations.

In The Lost Boys, Gina Perry puts these extraordinary experiments under the microscope.

Art roundup

Marvel One:12 Collective Blade available for preorder

At the BBTS.

"PopSugar Stole Influencers’ Instagrams — Along With Their Profits"


On Sunday evening, Maren Jensen, who runs the blog Midwest in Style, logged on to a Facebook group where she swaps advice and support with about 2,000 other members who work with the affiliate platform RewardStyle and its Instagram product The top post was a screenshot another member had taken from the lifestyle website PopSugar: it looked almost like the blogger’s own Instagram — with her handle, profile picture, and feed of several hundred photos — but every post linked to a shopping page where visitors could purchase the items.

In place of the usual RewardStyle affiliate links — which drove commissions on $1 billion in sales in 2017 and are a significant source of many bloggers’ incomes — there were PopSugar’s own affiliate links, meaning any revenues generated would go to the site, not the influencer.


On Tuesday evening, PopSugar co-founder and CEO Brian Sugar tweeted an explanation: The tool was developed during a hackathon in summer 2017, “to analyze fashion and beauty bloggers and the products they featured,” and the URLs, which were intended for internal use only, were mistakenly left open, albeit hidden from search engine indexing and social media.

Ten funny tweets

Season one of The Handmaid's Tale is $14.99

at Amazon. And season one of The Young Pope is $9.99.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Art roundup

A post shared by Joelle Jones (@joelle_jones) on

"In Germany, outrage builds after rap album with alleged anti-Semitic lyrics wins top award"


Germany's answer to the Grammys


It included the song "0815," which contain lyrics some found to be anti-Semitic: "Bodies are more defined than an Auschwitz prisoner" and "I'm doing another Holocaust, coming with a Molotov cocktail."

Kollegah, whose real name is Felix Blume, and Bang denied they are anti-Semitic and said their lyrics are being misinterpreted.

How the One Laptop Per Child "all went wrong"


The $100 laptop would have all the features of an ordinary computer but require so little electricity that a child could power it with a hand crank. It would be rugged enough for children to use anywhere, instead of being limited to schools. Mesh networking would let one laptop extend a single internet connection to many others. A Linux-based operating system would give kids total access to the computer — OLPC had reportedly turned down an offer of free Mac OS X licenses from Steve Jobs. And as its name suggested, the laptop would cost only $100, at a time when its competitors cost $1,000 or more.
That article is from April 16, 2018. Some links from the Super Punch archives:

9/4/07: "Coming Very Soon: One Laptop Per Child"

3/31/08: WSJ writer's kids "prefer our five-year-old PC"

3/19/08: "Designer Yves BΓ©har won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year award at a ceremony at the Design Museum in London last night, for the One Laptop Per Child project."

7/3/12: "Yet five years in, there are serious doubts about whether the largest single deployment in the One Laptop Per Child initiative inspired by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte was worth the more than $200 million that Peru’s government spent."

New statues: The Batman Who Laughs and a shockingly expensive Joker bust

Both available for preorder. The Joker bust:

From Academy Award-winning special effects makeup artist Rick Baker comes this haunting take on Batman's most twisted foe, The Joker. With a history of creating some of film's most iconic villains, Baker perfectly captures the Clown Prince of Crime's psychotic demeanor in breathtaking detail.

This life-sized 1:1 bust has been designed, sculpted and painted by Baker himself. Measuring approximately 22.5" tall, this poly-resin bust is the ultimate eerie statement piece from DC Gallery.

Limited Edition of 50 numbered pieces pulled straight from Rick Baker's own molds. The bust will also feature original deco as painted by Rick Baker. Includes Certificate of Authenticity (COA) signed by Rick Baker!

"A Japanese minister apologised Tuesday over the escape of a 'model' inmate who fled an open prison more than a week ago, as the number of police hunting him passed 6,000"


The case is making headline news in Japan with TV channels picking over the manhunt in minute detail.


Slowing the search is the fact that there are about 1,000 vacant houses on the island, but police need permission from owners each time they search inside, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

"Boko Haram huntress"


Aisha Bakari Gombi has reached real-life superhero status for her battlefield bravery in her fight against Boko Haram.


Boko Haram's camps are in the forests and mountains where Aisha went hunting with her father as a child.


When Aisha is not fighting Boko Haram, she conforms to the norms of the village where she lives with her husband. Northern Nigeria is a place where a woman's domain is mainly confined to the home and raising children.

"The two-man police department in this rural community outside Flint has amassed a massive amount of surplus military equipment over the last decade"


The township supervisor and a trustee said the police have stymied their attempts to find out what equipment they have, where it’s located and why some of it has been given away


Meanwhile, police supporters have launched a recall campaign . . . . One of the organizers . . . , who has 21 pieces of equipment on his property, including a motorized cart, tractor, forklift, two trailers and three all-terrain vehicles, according to the inventory.

90's X-Men

"Army secretary discusses possible locations, talent acquisition for Futures Command"


Spoehr mentioned the national buzz over the possible location of Amazon's second headquarters, and wondered if the Army was generating similar interest over the unannounced Futures Command location.

The list of potential locations is being narrowed down, the secretary said. The main criteria is to find an unbeatable center of innovation, where the Army can gather top talent from academia and industry.

"Old-guard environmentalists believe a housing bill could induce disaster. A newer guard touts it as a savior. On the front lines of a generational civil war"


Kathryn Phillips did not mince words when she visited the Sacramento office of San Francisco state senator Scott Wiener one day this winter. The director of Sierra Club California and a decades-long combatant in the state’s environmental battles, Phillips wanted Wiener to know that her group would vehemently oppose his Senate Bill 827—which both its supporters and its opponents believe could introduce the most radical changes to California’s land-use policy in a generation. “I gave him a warning,” she says later. There would be no suggested amendments from her organization. No negotiation. No compromise. “The thing we oppose is the heart of the bill.”


SB 827, however, forces these environmentalists to say no to a different question concerning technology. To oppose the bill on environmental grounds is to reject the broadly accepted scientific conclusion that a primary cause of climate change is the car commutes of people who live far away from their jobs. “Climate change splits the movement,” says bill supporter Ethan Elkind, the director of the climate program at UC Berkeley School of Law, because “the most important way to address it, unless we deindustrialize, is to build things. The environmental movement was started to stop building things.”


Although Phillips says she supports infill development around mass transit, it’s hard for her to locate an actual place in California where she supports new buildings. This is also true of the Bay Area chapter, which in recent years has opposed the 8 Washington condo tower near the Embarcadero, the redevelopment of Treasure Island and the Hunters Point Shipyard, the expansion of Park Merced, and the new Golden State Warriors stadium. Recently, the chapter opposed a 66-unit development in the Western Addition because it would replace an auto repair shop it deemed historic.

With regard to upzoning near transit, Phillips rules out Sacramento, where some neighborhoods, she thinks, would use upzoning as an excuse to block new transit, concealing what she calls “racist” reasons under a civilized veneer. Nor does she think it’s appropriate in more outlying areas like Folsom, where a transit stop under the bill would lead to an upzoning too near wilderness areas. She doesn’t think it’s a good idea in San Diego, where taller buildings would block views of the ocean, nor does she support it in major cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, where “people who live in rent-controlled buildings worry about bigger and bigger buildings coming toward them.”