Monday, July 16, 2018

Mondo's Mr. Freeze with tiny ballerina snowglobe is available for preorder

Removable helmet, multiple faces and hands, ballerina snowglobe, frozen batarang etc.

The Mythos Boba Fett figure is also now available for preorder, although not remotely as cool as the Mythos Obi-Wan Kenobi.

And if you want a much cheaper animated-style figure, the Nightwing is great and $12.79 (49% off).

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Getting started painting miniatures

If you've enjoyed the miniatures I've been posting lately, but have felt too intimidated by the cost or difficulty, it's probably much easier and cheaper than you think.

1. Paints: Watch any painting tutorial and you'll likely see the painter using numerous paints AND still mixing paints to get the colors they need. A single pot of Games Workshop paint is as much as $7.50 and there's also the problem of the pot drying out before you've used much of it. I've been using the Army Painter paint set.  50 paints (including washes and metallics) and a brush for $99 (21% off at Amazon).  I've been happy with the paints, plus they come in droppers instead of pots so they don't dry out as easily and you won't knock one over by accident.

2. Other equipment:

Wargamer Most Wanted Brush Set: Three brushes of various sizes for $13.

Self-Healing Cutting Mat: I use this to paint on. $10.

3. Miniatures: Games Workshop miniatures are expensive, require a lot of assembly, and are difficult to transport. A better choice for beginners is prepainted plastic miniatures. They require no assembly, they're fairly robust, and they might be painted well enough that you can experiment just by repainting parts of them. You can get lots of Heroclix or Wizards of the Coast Star Wars miniatures extremely cheap at ebay.

4. Wet palette: You may find that your paints dry too quickly, especially if you're mixing colors. Making and using a wet palette is incredibly cheap and easy:

5. Painting: There's an endless number of tutorials online. Here's a series I like:

And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker

This is a really good whodunit.

Rock climbing illustrations by Jisoo Kim

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"Madrid’s government [has placed] Hundreds of birdhouses and 'insect hotels' around the city" to increase biodiversity


The flagship project of Madrid’s quest for biodiversity is centered on the Manzanares River, a modest stream that flows across the city, and that has suffered from decades of bad ideas. In the 1950s, urban planners built seven floodgates along the river to raise the water level so it would look more like the prominent rivers of London, Rome, and Paris.

Lofty expectations soon gave way to a 130-foot-wide, 6.5-foot-deep, greenish—sometimes stinky—still-water plate along a four-plus-mile channel.


Now, the Manzanares is no more than about 11 inches deep, but life is booming on the river banks, and the sandy islands of sediment between the natural meanders are covered in bulrushes, reeds, and young willows.
A new community park will open where the Los Angeles River and Caballero Creek meet in Tarzana


The swath of green land is the result of a $750,000 city bond fund, and will be converted from what officials say is a 1.6-acre underused site off of Lindley Avenue, between Victory Boulevard and Erwin Street.


The wetlands will be used by the biology classes and by the larger Tarzana community.

Museum of the Moon at the Water Cube

Official site:
Museum of the Moon is a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface*.

Wargaming Miniatures Roundup

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*Buy painted miniatures at ebay.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

"Inside the church where Nicaraguan paramilitaries laid siege on university students"


“In there” was the vast, jungly campus of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN), which by Friday afternoon had become a battleground. Far from the initial fighting was the Catholic church, a supposedly safe place for triage, and beleaguered and wounded students were arriving from the front lines by pickup truck, by motorbike, and on foot.


These students, and much of Nicaragua, have been in revolt against President Daniel Ortega’s government for the past three months, enraged by how he has consolidated near total power over his four terms as president, undermined democratic institutions, and allowed his security apparatus to employ deadly force against protesters. More than 300 people have been killed since the conflict began in April, the vast majority civilians.

Starting Friday afternoon, a new crisis emerged. Pro-government militias set out to crush the student rebellion at the UNAN, one of the last strongholds of open resistance in the capital. During a 15-hour siege, some 200 university students and others were pinned down by gunfire inside this small Catholic church compound.

Utopia, LOL

A good short story by Jamie Wahls.

"an experienced modder of Gearbox's 2013 bomb Aliens: Colonial Marines discovered a way to significantly improve the game's AI by changing one letter of code"

"they'd discovered a typo in a line of the game's AI code that, when fixed, notably improved the way enemies in the game track and follow targets."


Fan remake of P.T. on PC gets shut down by Konami

Image roundup

Wargaming Miniatures Gallery: Chaos

*Buy painted miniatures at ebay.

Papa John made $20 million this week

Ten funny tweets

Ant-Man was in Infinity War all along

Retro Attack on the Death Star game

Friday, July 13, 2018

"Unmasking one of celebrity real estate's biggest mysteries: Who is behind Yolanda's Little Black Book?"


For years, Yolanda’s Little Black Book has been one of the biggest mysteries in Los Angeles luxury real estate circles.

By gleefully revealing tightly guarded details of the latest multimillion-dollar celebrity housing transactions, the gossipy anonymous blog has wreaked havoc among the city’s elite real estate agents and their wealthy clients. But who is behind the website, whose writer goes by such aliases as Yolanda Yakketyyak, the Real Estate Yenta and Donald Frump?

“Does it bother us as agents? It certainly does,”


Like a trail of internet breadcrumbs, Yolanda left subtle clues:

In December, an email sent from Yolanda’s Gmail address to a Los Angeles Times real estate reporter was signed “James.”
Related, this week in people deleting their social media accounts:

1. "Is he a progressive doctor fighting racism and the Trump administration? Or a Twitter troll who has relentlessly manipulated a woman he dated?"

2. "The woman in the #PlaneBae saga breaks her silence — she says that she's been 'shamed, insulted and harassed' since the story went viral and asks for her privacy"

3. Rebel Force Radio

4. "Vampire: The Masquerade maker responds to accusations it caters to neo-Nazi groups"

5. "Reddit employee saves GamerGate subreddit, KotakuInAction, after founder closes it"

"This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head"


Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.

The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it’s had enough.

Elon Musk-themed party game

There's a Pacific Rim-themed game too:
You want more dice, though, you have to earn them. And the way to do that is go into the Drift. You have to look your co-pilot in the eye and reveal the truth. You want a die, point to your co-pilot and have them ask you a question. A deep, hard-core, painful question about who you are and where you come from. Then you have a choice. You can hide from the answer, lose yourself in the pain and go Drift-crazy. Bad luck for you. Kaiju gets a free shot.

Or you can answer the question and face your pain. And then you find out something about who your character is. And now you get a third die. The third die can be something about you (“Revenging My Fallen Family”) or something we didn’t know about your Jaeger until now (“Sword Arm”) or a new move you just decided to do (“Cook The Sucker On Your Jets”).

Want the fourth die for another upgrade? You have to ask your co-pilot your own question.

The more questions you ask, the more dice you get. One per round maximum, of course. And if it’s not a deep confession of inner pain, it doesn’t count.

Brick orifice

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Mondo's Mr. Freeze

"The feds say Honolulu prosecutor Katherine Kealoha used the alias of 'Alison Lee Wong' to help carry out alleged crimes"

From October 2017:

Who is Alison Lee Wong?

That’s a question that’s been raised by the recent federal indictment of former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine, on felony charges of bank fraud, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Wong is also named in that indictment.

Wong once wrote a recommendation backing Katherine Keahola’s nomination for a top state job. She notarized a mortgage document for Kealoha. And Wong apparently even worked at the YMCA.

But there’s a hitch: Federal investigators say Wong doesn’t exist.
Jesse Ebersole, a Hawaii County firefighter who federal prosecutors say lied about his affair with city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy Thursday as part of an ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigation into corruption within local law enforcement.

According to court documents, Kealoha had spent thousands of dollars on Ebersole — some of it stolen from her grandmother — to help maintain their inter-island relationship.

Kealoha was indicted in October along with her husband, former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha, and several of his officers on a series of charges related to allegations they framed her uncle, Gerard Puana, for the theft of the their mailbox.

"Sponsorships from Chinese companies increasingly fund world soccer’s governing body"


Fans in Paris and Zagreb, long-accustomed to watching the world’s biggest soccer matches in prime time, will instead have to flip on their televisions for a 5 p.m. start. The match begins at 6 p.m. in Moscow and 11 a.m. on the East Coast of the United States because, after decades of prioritizing Western Europe, FIFA’s compass has begun to shift east in recent years.


FIFA isn’t the only soccer governing body setting start times with Asia in mind. La Liga, the Spanish league, is already holding matches in earlier time slots to attract Asian viewers


the Premier League has considered selling a package of early games that would appeal to Asia. Top clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have also opened commercial offices in China.

On the success of SyFy's Wynonna Earp


The relationships among the cast and showrunner and “Wynonna Earp” fans — known as “Earpers” — are so intense, the next year will bring conventions devoted solely to the show in Toronto, Minneapolis, New Orleans and London


“Wynonna Earp,” the tale of a woman and her allies battling monsters, has a value for Syfy beyond balance sheets, according to Chris McCumber, president of Syfy. Viewership among women aged 18-34 was up 44 percent in the show’s second year, and more than half of the audience is women — the highest ratio within the otherwise male-skewing Syfy viewership.


From the start, Ms. Andras and the cast have had unusually tight bonds with the show’s enthusiastic, inclusive fan community.


a friendly, tolerant Earper culture that emphasizes consideration and community-building over factional flame wars or personal attacks. Respectful differences are accommodated; toxic meltdowns, like the ones glimpsed in certain sectors of the “Star Wars” fandom, are not. They don’t even record the video hangouts, a decision that aims to make guests, famous and not, “feel comfortable popping in to have fun,” Mr. Bachelder said. “It’s not going to live forever on the internet — everybody can just be themselves.”

"ECOT, Ohio’s largest online charter school, officially closes"

From January:

The embattled school had claimed an enrollment of more than 15,000 students just two years ago, including more than 1,000 in the Dayton area. But state officials eventually challenged that figure, suggesting there were closer to 6,000


ECOT argued that it merely had to “present” 920 hours of “learning opportunities” for students, while the Ohio Department of Education said students had to be logged on and engaged in school activities. ECOT fought and lost multiple court challenges, and the state began “clawing back” $60 million that it paid the school in 2015-2016 based on the higher enrollment figure.
And April:
Education regulators are reviewing a whistleblower’s claim that Ohio’s then-largest online charter school intentionally inflated attendance figures tied to its state funding using software it purchased after previous allegations of attendance inflation, The Associated Press has learned.
And this month:
ECOT founder William Lager and two companies he owns should be ordered to pay back $62 million that the closed online charter school owes the state and others, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a court filing today.

That amount could triple if DeWine can win a tougher legal argument that Lager's relationship with the school and companies amounts to a pattern of illegal activity

Ten funny tweets

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio . . . and More Admit Sacha Baron Cohen Got Them Too"

I was kind of shocked. But I figured this is Finland and this is a famous comedian.”

Ten funny tweets

3D flower tattoo

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Facebook's "committee to study political bias on its platform . . . will be led by Jon Kyl, a former Republican Senator who currently works as a corporate lobbyist"


While Kyl is leading the effort to investigate “political bias” at Facebook, he will also be fulfilling a critical role in the Trump administration. The White House announced on Monday that Kyl would be the “sherpa” for Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee, seeking to garner support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate.

"Sextortion Scam Uses Recipient’s Hacked Passwords"


The message purports to have been sent from a hacker who’s compromised your computer and used your webcam to record a video of you while you were watching porn. The missive threatens to release the video to all your contacts unless you pay a Bitcoin ransom. The new twist? The email now references a real password previously tied to the recipient’s email address.


It is likely that this improved sextortion attempt is at least semi-automated: My guess is that the perpetrator has created some kind of script that draws directly from the usernames and passwords from a given data breach at a popular Web site that happened more than a decade ago, and that every victim who had their password compromised as part of that breach is getting this same email at the address used to sign up at that hacked Web site.

Image roundup

"Influx of [around 550] refugees from Yemen divides South Korean resort island"


The Yemeni refugees never imagined they would end up on a resort island in South Korea. The asylum seekers described looking at a map of the world to see where they could flee to without applying for a visa. Then in December, the budget airline AirAsia began a direct flight from Malaysia to Jeju, two places with visa-free access for Yemenis.

Amid the influx of asylum seekers, the government in June removed Yemen from the list of countries allowed visa-free access to Jeju. Immigration authorities have barred the refugees from travelling to mainland South Korea, and while they are allowed to work, employment has been restricted to fishing, fish farms and restaurant work. Many remain unemployed.


The refugees are stuck in limbo, unable to leave the island and unsure how long they will be allowed to remain after fleeing a civil war

Mondo's Jurassic Park board game

Mondo's started to reveal its upcoming products. (No news yet on the the Madballs-like toys they revealed in January 2016.)

"Just off the coast of Espírito Santo, an island in the Vanuatu archipelago of the South Western Pacific, there is a massive underwater dump"

Cabinet (2003):

Called Million Dollar Point after the millions of dollars worth of material disposed there, the dump is a popular diving destination, and divers report an amazing quantity of wreckage: jeeps, six-wheel drive trucks, bulldozers, semi-trailers, fork lifts, tractors, bound sheets of corrugated iron, unopened boxes of clothing, and cases of Coca-Cola. The dumped goods were not abandoned by the ni-Vanuatu people, nor by the Franco-British Condominium who ruled Vanuatu (then known as the New Hebrides) from 1906 until 1980, but by personnel of a WWII American military base named Buttons. At the end of the war, sometime between August 1945 and December 1947, the US military interred supplies, equipment, and vehicles under water. The travel writer Thurston Clarke describes the scene:

The Seabees built a ramp running into the sea and every day Americans drove trucks, jeeps, ambulances, bulldozers, and tractors into the channel, locking the wheels and jumping free at the last second. Engine blocks cracked and hissed. Some Seabees wept. Ni-Vanuatu witnessing the destruction of wealth their island would never see again, at least in their lifetimes, thought the Americans had gone mad.


What is clear is that when the military arrived, cargo cult predictions were literally realized. This made fertile ground for wildly successful sects; it also thrust America into the heart of cult dogma. Postwar religious practices were largely based on the activities of the US military. Cultists built loading docks according to the logic that cargo would arrive when docks were built, just as it apparently had during the American occupation. Believers routinely had visions of “Jake Navy,” the corporate logo from an American brand of cigarettes


By their order, American generals publicly declared that they were not gods incarnate.

"Five Picassos went missing from the L.A. Times. What happened to them?"


“The Picasso Room was exclusive — you had to be an officer in the corporation, a high-up editor to go there,”


The artwork had disappeared at some point between 2014 and 2018, a period of great tumult at The Times, as a series of publishers and top editors were shuffled in and out by then-owner Tribune Publishing, which renamed itself Tronc.


Times tour guide Darrell Kunitomi noted their disappearance when he greeted visitors in the community room a few years ago.

“I would raise the AV screen, behind which there were five Picassos. People were impressed to see them,” he said. “One night I raised it, and there was a bare wall. I had no idea as to whether they were taken or stored — they were simply gone.”