Sunday, January 31, 2016

"The Stunning Mansion in Ex Machina Is (Mostly) Real, and You Can Spend the Night There"

VF:

After hunting all over Europe, from the Alps to Finland, the team finally noticed a house under construction on the side of a mountain in northern Norway—and, half an hour away, the Juvet Landscape Hotel. Nathan’s mansion had been found, in the form of two separate, modernist buildings.

"How one distillery worker enlisted friends, family, and a few fellow steroid enthusiasts to liberate hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of premium bourbon, one barrel at a time."

The Great Whiskey Heist:

in 1969, bourbon was in the dumps. The postwar gentleman's drink was giving way to booze that went better with cranberry juice and pink umbrellas. By 1976, vodka had become America's most popular liquor. Distilleries throughout Kentucky shut down or were sold.

...

When Julian Van Winkle III took over the company, in 1981, he was selling so little whiskey that he decided to try an experiment. Most bourbon spends between four and eight years inside a barrel. Van Winkle wanted to see what would happen if he let some of his sit in the barrel for, well, he wasn't quite sure how long.

...

the Beverage Testing Institute, which, in 1997, after Van Winkle had finally opened his barrels, handed his 20-year-old whiskey a 99 rating — the highest ever given to a bourbon. The timing of that rating couldn't have been better. The craft beer movement was reviving American tastes for alcohol with flavor, and bourbon presented itself as a sophisticated drink with a sheen of frontier authenticity.

...

the demand still outpaces supply — after all, it takes 23 years to make 23-year-old bourbon. An app and a Twitter feed track Pappy sightings; even empty Pappy bottles can sell for $300. If you want the real thing, your best option just might be to steal some.

Link roundup

1. Wikipedia's List of common misconceptions.

There is no consistent data supporting monosodium glutamate (MSG) as triggering migraine headache exacerbation or other symptoms of so-called Chinese restaurant syndrome. Although there have been reports of an MSG-sensitive subset of the population, this has not been demonstrated in placebo-controlled trials

...

The historical Buddha was not obese. The "chubby Buddha" or "laughing Buddha" is a 10th-century Chinese folk hero by the name of Budai.
2. Drone flies in crevasse.

3. "The mailer sent out by [Ted Cruz's] campaign, however, might end up backfiring."
Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well.

...

The mailer then listed his and Steffany’s name, along with five of their neighbors.
4. "How the Video of Christine Chubbuck’s Suicide Became a Very Macabre ‘Holy Grail’"
the on-air suicide of 29-year-old Florida morning-show host Christine Chubbuck, who shot herself in the head during a live broadcast in 1974.

...

Many people have attempted to track down a video of Chubbuck’s final moments; all of them, it seems, have come up empty-handed. There are those who claim they’ve seen it,

Link roundup

1. "Right now in China, thousands of tigers, more than are alive in the wild, are sitting in cages, waiting for the day that their bones are turned into wine and their skin is turned into rugs."

tiger bone is where the real money's at. The pricey bones are steeped in rice wine to create a purported aphrodisiac that has been said to help ease ailments like arthritis, and is served as a status symbol at dinner parties and events.
2. This is a good Civ 5 playthrough.

3. "Aydin Büyüktas, an Istanbul-based photographer and VFX artist, used a drone to capture aerial images of the city, then digitally manipulated them so they appear wildly curved."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine In 82.5 Hours"

Max Temkin:

Here’s an anecdote that I love, from Next Gen writer (and future DS9 showrunner) Ira Steven Behr:

I created this planet called Risa, which was a pleasure planet. The captain was stressed out and needed a vacation. He went on this vacation and there was a holosuite there — or a holodeck — I guess a holosuite, we called it.

It said, “Face Your Greatest Fear!” and it was like a carnival place. And he thought, “Oh, cool, this is going to put me in a good mood. What I need is to fight some Klingons without thinking about the repercussions of it, or go after some Romulans or whatever it is.

And he goes into this holodeck, and it was all about the captain being promoted to admiral, and losing the Enterprise, and Riker being bumped up to captain of the Enterprise. Basically, though we never really hit it on the head, it’s about growing old. Not to grow old, but your time of life changing and suddenly you’re not going to be the guy going off on adventures, you’re going to be sitting at a desk somewhere, SENDING people on adventures. That’s his greatest fear.

Then it became a whole long story that I’m not going to get into now, but it got SLAMMED dead by Gene [Roddenberry]; it was my big ‘Gene meeting’, where he slammed me down with all kind of pronouncements about what Star Trek is and is not. It was like, “Picard fears nothing. If it’s time for him to grow old, to become an admiral, he becomes an admiral! He would not think about that, AT ALL. Picard is John Wayne!” Well, John Wayne had all kinds of fears and guilt and angers and bitterness in his best movies… “No. John Wayne is a hero, Picard is a hero, we are not doing this episode.” Even though I guess this had happened a lot on the show in the first couple seasons, it hadn’t hit us.

And that’s when Gene sat there, “…but I love the pleasure planet! Get the captain laid!”

Link roundup

1. "An antiquities dealer who inspired tens of thousands to search the Rocky Mountains for $2 million in hidden treasure now leads an increasingly desperate mission to find one of his fans."

Fenn, an eccentric 85-year-old from Santa Fe, has inspired a cult following since his announcement several years ago that he stashed a small bronze chest containing nearly $2 million in gold, jewelry and artifacts somewhere in the Rockies. He dropped clues to its whereabouts in a cryptic poem in his self-published memoir

...

But the search can be risky: Some have forded swollen creeks in Yellowstone and were rescued by rangers. A Texas woman spent a worrisome night in the New Mexico woods after being caught in the dark. Others have been cited for digging on public land, and federal managers have warned treasure hunters not to damage archaeological or biological resources.
2. "New Spider Species Found, Plays Peekaboo to Attract Mates"
In a bizarre ritual, an amorous male hides on the underside of a leaf and thrusts the paddle high enough for a female on the other side of the leaf to see it.
3. "Several hundred Southern Californians who renovated or built their homes with plans created by two men purporting to work for a Rolling Hills Estates civil engineering firm were warned Friday to have their residences checked for structural safety."

Star Trek: The Next Generation viewing guide

"I want to make the case Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) is important and worth your time in 2015, and I want to suggest about 40 hours of Star Trek viewing that will cover all of the great episodes."

Friday, January 29, 2016

Link roundup

1. "Alaska Airlines issued an apology today for using the phrase “Meet our Eskimo” in a high-profile rebranding campaign this week."

2. "Son of maintenance worker gets perfect score on AP Calculus exam -- 1 of 12 in the world to do so"

Cedrick, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, had scored perfectly on his Advanced Placement Calculus exam. Of the 302,531 students to take the notoriously mind-crushing test, he was one of only 12 to earn every single point.
3. "a brick-built LEGO storyline set in the Star Wars universe. With fourteen separate scenes depicting the discovery of a crashed A-wing and its resurrection as a rather beautiful 'ugly' that incorporates an Imperial TIE fighter cockpit and New Republic E-wing engines."

Link roundup

1. "Nespresso sues coffee rival for using George Clooney lookalike"

Clooney is the face of Nespresso.
2. "The process" in Philly:
The Porzingis camp wanted no part of the Sixers' situation at No 3. Miller couldn't stop Philadelphia from drafting Porzingis, but he could limit the information they had to make a decision. And did. No physical. No meeting. No workout.
3. "Chelsea Clinton's fundraising flop: Soul Cycle event to raise money for Hillary a bust as $2,700 seats are offered for just $50 to fill bikes"
Chelsea herself did not participate in the class but did answer questions for guests shortly before they began their stationery ride.

Link roundup

1. Probably a good rule of thumb:

if a friend forwards me an email from a man that is longer than three sentences, it is ALWAYS BANANAS.
2. Nightmare fuel.

3. "Ancient Babylonian astronomers calculated Jupiter’s position."

Harry Potter characters Netflix binge



Part of a series of illustrations by Victoriabas.

Relatedly, a good exchange:





Thursday, January 28, 2016

High-Rise poster

Link roundup

1. Controversial NHL all-star John Scott discusses his career:

In your mind right now, you’re probably thinking: classic. Big goon tries to fight his way all through the AHL to get a chance at The Show.

Well, here’s another thing about me you might not know: by 23, I had never been in a real hockey fight. Sure, I’d wrestled around in PeeWee and Juniors with a cage on, but that’s not real. I didn’t know the first thing about how to fight.

My first couple games in the AHL with the Houston Aeros, I heard this four, five times a game:

“Hey, ya big bastard, y’wanna go?”

“Let’s go. Right now.”

“We’re going.”

I kept saying, “Uh, no. No, I’m good.”

Then it happened. I’ll never forget being in the locker room before a game against Peoria.
2. "Letter to the editor: Local media didn’t whiff on Flint coverage"
Journalists from The Flint Journal have doggedly reported the Flint water story blow by excruciating blow, for more than two years. From the politics to the public health implications to the impact on residents of this hurting city, there has been no development that has gone unreported or unexplained.

...

All of that water crisis coverage, with rising levels of drama, political intrigue and human pathos? It had less total readership over 12 months than the Michigan-Michigan State football game. A routine weather story on our site is read by three times as many people as a Flint water story. And that’s even after national attention was stoked in the past month.
3. "'Monster spider' discovered in Oregon called Cryptomaster Behemoth"

4. Saw this on Twitter and thought it was a joke--Star Wars Hungry Hero Jar Jar 18" Talking Plush.

"We're the Only Animals With Chins, and No One Knows Why"

Atlantic:

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in,” says the big, bad wolf. “No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin,” say the three little pigs. This scene is deeply unrealistic and not just because of the pigs' architectural competence, the wolf's implausible lung capacity, and everyone's ability to talk.

The thing is: Pigs don't have chins. Nor do any animals, except for us.

Zootopia Disney Infinity figures available for preorder



$14 each at Amazon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

From Lev Grossman's Q&A today

At Quora:

The two things that most influenced the way magic works in The Magicians, apart from reading an eff-ton of other novels with magic in them, are these:

One, studying the cello for ten years. The physical rigor and at times discomfort of that, of trying to use your misshapen fallen body to produce transcendent beautiful music, has a lot to do with the way I imagine magic feels.

...

I feel some nostalgia for the days when magic was wilder. Gandalf for example: you never knew what he could or couldn't do, and that was kind of exciting.

...

I've studied [JK Rowling's] books over and over and over again.

"If agent 007 was a woman, what kind of names would the 'Bond boys' have?"

A Reddit thread. Top comment:

How about just Roger Moore

Link roundup

1. Bono says of David Bowie, "he took his daughter to a matinee to see Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and he sent me the reasons he didn't like it."

2. Reluctantly modelling Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze armor.

3. Rebel pilot dress.

Link roundup

1. Moss people.

2. Parkour in a t-rex suit.

3. "NYU Medical School Doesn't Plan To Return Martin Shkreli Donation"

For now, there will still be a Martin Shkreli Professor of Pediatric Nephrology at New York University.

Trailer for Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings




Lana Del Rey's Spectre theme

Link roundup

1. "Pursuing critics, China reaches across borders. And nobody is stopping it."

A string of incidents, including abductions from Thailand and Hong Kong, forced repatriations and the televised “confessions” of two Swedish citizens, has crossed a new red line, according to diplomats in Beijing.
2. "Last year we reported on our blog our sighting of a beautiful leucistic giraffe calf in Tarangire National Park. Her body surface cells are not capable of making pigment, but she is not an albino. We were lucky enough to resight her again this January"

3. Drone racing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Figma Virtua Fighters



Coming soon.

"Trump Temptation: The Billionaire & The Bellboy"

$2 at Amazon:

He was a billionaire, I was a bellboy, can I make it anymore obvious?

It all started one fateful afternoon in summer of 2012. I was working as a bellboy at the Trump Hotel in Hong Kong on an internship program. This was my first time in a big city. It was all I could have ever dreamed of, and more. But little did I know, it was all about to change.
By Elijah Daniel:

Link roundup

1. "Italy covers nudes for Iran president"

2. Leigh Alexander's feed is about being tricked into publishing at Offworld an article by a GG member.

I think we live in a weird world if harassment campaigners are bragging about sneaking an ability-sensitive article onto a feminist website
3. "Not only does [Los Angeles] county have the most cases, it also has some of the highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in California and the nation."

Monday, January 25, 2016

"The bird's hunting technique is simple: Find prey, flush it out, and stamp the living crap out of it"

"Secretary birds can be found striding through the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa":

When you’re filming a bird that specializes at kicking . . . you’d better be careful about your power cables.

Steve Portugal learned that the hard way when studying secretary birds—a long-legged bird of prey with . . . a phenomenal, skull-crushing kick. “Their desire to kick anything that moves

Mondo is bringing back Madballs, and has a license to make Marvel characters



Including Venom.

Link roundup

1. Screensaver Jam recommendations.

2. "Kansas Senate Imposes Strict Dress Code for Women"

Sen. Mitch Holmes’ 11-point code of conduct does not include any restrictions on men, who he said needed no instruction on how to look professional
3. "New U.S. Homes Make Room for Airbnb Crowd"
Designs account for rising housing costs by carving out extra space for extended family or renters

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Link roundup

1. "Reality didn’t always match the menu at Toronto restaurant"

The “organic” granola was boxed Quaker Harvest Crunch and the “homemade” dressing was bought from Renée’s Gourmet. The promised Japanese beef, a rare, well-marbled delicacy that reportedly can fetch around $200 a strip, was really regular skirt steak from a lesser breed of cow.
2. "A major new finding about the impact of having a dad who was drafted to Vietnam"
A decade after their military service, white veterans of the draft were earning about 15 percent less than their peers who didn't serve,
3. "Another major accident reported on steep Beverly Hills road"
The crash happened on the same section of Loma Vista Drive where truck crashes two months apart in 2014 claimed the lives of the two officers.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Link roundup

1. Mindbending photo.

2. "An emotional video of a traditional Maori haka at a New Zealand wedding is being shared widely on social media, attracting millions of views."

3. "Here are 6 Amazon products that are definitely not for cocaine"

Sliders of Ghosttown: Origins (Official Trailer)



"The Sliders Of Ghost Town: Origins, is a Documentary that will journey through the story of how Halloween Haunt began at Knott’s Berry Farm back in 1973. This event has been around for over 40 years and the talent that works the streets has developed a new scare tactic that can now be seen all over the world. We will hear and see stories from those who work there now, as well as some of the original sliders who developed the concept of sliding for a scare, and as a recreational sport that goes on all year round."

"Nudists claim discrimination after being banned from pool in Huntington Beach"

LAT:

Wilson said those activities never were permissible and were allowed to occur only because of the opinions of the former city attorney.

"Our new city attorney has opined differently"

Link roundup

1. "Kia dancing hamster pleads no contest in disability fraud case"

2. "The Daniel Bryan Dilemma"

The match that sold me on his excellence many years ago was a half-hour indie bout where he villainously defied a crowd’s bloodlust by repeatedly wrapping his opponent’s cranium in the least-violent move ever, a headlock. Before long, the crowd was approvingly chanting “head lock!”

...

I am sure that Daniel Bryan, who is possibly the greatest pro wrestler in the world, wants to wrestle this Sunday. If he does—if he competes in WWE’s 30-man Royal Rumble—then I hope that the thousands of Daniel Bryan fans who’ve been rooting for him to make a comeback don’t discover one day that we basically rooted for the man to get brain damage.
3. "Undertale's Steam review section is pretty funny"

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Wonder Woman movie logo looks like it's been tied up



Relatedly, "Wonder Woman Was Created by a Feminist Bondage Fetishist Who Wanted a Matriarchal Utopia"

Link roundup

1. "Israeli parents wondered why school trips to Auschwitz cost so much. The answer may be price-fixing."

2. "Whales must exercise to stay fit, according to a new study"

3. "Film Shows Clinton Aide’s Own Struggle With Anthony Weiner Scandal"

In May 2013, Huma Abedin and Anthony D. Weiner allowed filmmakers full access to his mayoral campaign with the hopes that the result would document a spectacular political comeback, with Mr. Weiner being sworn in as mayor of New York having emerged from a scandal centered on explicit texting that forced him to resign from Congress.

Things did not go quite according to plan.

"France and Scotland clung to the technologically inferior crossbow"

"For over a century the longbow reigned as undisputed king of medieval European missile weapons. Yet only England used the longbow as a mainstay in its military arsenal; France and Scotland clung to the technologically inferior crossbow."

This longbow puzzle has perplexed historians for decades. We resolve it by developing a theory of institutionally constrained technology adoption. Unlike the crossbow, the longbow was cheap and easy to make and required rulers who adopted the weapon to train large numbers of citizens in its use. These features enabled usurping nobles whose rulers adopted the longbow to potentially organize effective rebellions against them. Rulers choosing between missile technologies thus confronted a trade-off with respect to internal and external security. England alone in late medieval Europe was sufficiently politically stable to allow its rulers the first-best technology option. In France and Scotland political instability prevailed, constraining rulers in these nations to the crossbow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"The Illegitimacy of Aragorn’s Claim to the Throne"

Austin Gilkeson:

Aragorn’s claim to Gondor’s throne rests entirely on his being descended — after 3,000 years — from Valandil and Isildur, who were kings of Arnor. The closest real-world parallel to this would be an Italian man claiming descent from Romulus showing up in Ankara and claiming to be King of Turkey, because Romulus was supposedly descended from Prince Aeneas of Troy. Imagine if you found out your ancestor, thirty-seven generations prior, was the brother of an Egyptian pharaoh. Do you know what that would make you, in terms of Egyptian political succession? NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

...

Aragorn, like a many an illegitimate dictator before him, was only able to seize power due to the breakdown of law and society during the great crisis of the War of the Ring.

...

After the War of the Ring and Denethor’s death, Gondor did embrace Aragorn as its new king, partially because he’d arrived at the head of an army of the Dead.

"Former NFL receiver Antwaan Randle El regrets ever playing football"

WP:

“I would play baseball. I got drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round, but I didn’t play baseball because of my parents. They made me go to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love the game of football. But right now, I could still be playing baseball.”

"The [Onion] just agreed to sell a chunk of itself (as well as sister properties including ClickHole and The A.V. Club) to Spanish broadcaster Univision Communications"

Bloomberg:

The reported price tag of about $200 million for a 40 percent stake in the Onion's parent company values the whole enterprise in the range of $500 million.

...

To put that in perspective, it's twice what Jeff Bezos paid for the Washington Post in 2013.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Link roundup

1. "Is Celebrity Photographer Tyler Shields Inspired, Or Copying Other Artists?"

This level of success is surprising, given that a glance at his portfolio by anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of photography would reveal that a high number of his images look an awful lot like those of other photographers. And not obscure photographers, either.
2. From a review of Oxenfree:
It’s very much a game where the play turns out to be in how you handle your relationship with these four other characters. Like, i played through the game, trying to make the right choices, trying to win and ‘be nice’ (you can’t rewind– you can’t load previous saves and you have to make choices quickly), and then at the end it was like “All four characters HATE you.” Or actually it was worse than that– it was like “only 14% of people who played this game had all four characters HATE them.” 14%? Really??
3. "Last July, the Beverly Hills City Council voted to modify the city’s historic preservation ordinance, thereby making it easier to demolish buildings that were at one point deemed 'historic.'"

Link roundup

1. "Watch the long pause and the repeated, slow head shaking from Hillary Clinton when she's asked if the FBI has interviewed her."

2. LEGO Sinking Titanic.

3. Rob Liefeld commenting on the Deadpool movie:

Sorry, these comics are pg-13. There are F bombs galore, frontal nudity and tremendously wonderful gore in the Deadpool film. The comics are not as adult as the film. That's just a fact. Doesn't mean they aren't good, but no way are they adult in the way the film is.
Or as Ken Jennings put it:

Robcop poster by Anthony Petrie



Available at Skuzzles.

Link roundup

1. "it turns out that 'plants growing over old sites of human habitation have a different chemistry from their neighbors, and these differences can reveal the location of buried ruins.'"

2. "the essence of the idea is that people actively bred wolves to become dogs just the way they now breed dogs to be tiny or large, or to herd sheep."

The prevailing scientific opinion now, however, is that this origin story does not pass muster. Wolves are hard to tame, even as puppies, and many researchers find it much more plausible that dogs, in effect, invented themselves.
3. "A teenage singer made headlines in China and on her home island of Taiwan this weekend, but not for the winsome K-pop music that she hoped would attract fans. Instead, a glum, shaken apology after a controversy over a flag landed the singer, Chou Tzu-yu, in the maw of tensions between China and Taiwan"

Analyzing the Oregon militants

Intriguing Twitter feed to follow:











Sunday, January 17, 2016

Link roundup

1. "It’s British lore: on escalators, you stand on the right and walk on the left. So why did the London Underground ask grumpy commuters to stand on both sides?"

It’s all very well keeping one side of the escalator clear for people in a rush, but in stations with long, steep walkways, only a small proportion are likely to be willing to climb. In lots of places, with short escalators or minimal congestion, this doesn’t much matter. But a 2002 study of escalator capacity on the Underground found that on machines such as those at Holborn, with a vertical height of 24 metres, only 40% would even contemplate it. By encouraging their preference, TfL effectively halves the capacity of the escalator in question, and creates significantly more crowding below, slowing everyone down.
2. "Virginia and its Governor’s Opportunity Fund bet $1.4 million on a failed business deal near Lynchburg that exposed the state’s weak control over industrial incentives and the application process for companies seeking grant money"
All those new paychecks, the public was told, were spawned by the activities of Virginia’s governor during a trade mission to Asia the month before. Terry McAuliffe closed a deal with a Chinese business enterprise planning to invest in Appomattox, a town without an interstate or economic hope after furniture and textile industry layoffs.
...
State analysts relied on a company website produced in China featuring misleading information, including the listing of a North Carolina address where the company never was located and production photographs and text lifted from an unaffiliated American company.
...
Officials also relied on a site consultant who vouched for the company but hadn’t asked basic background questions, such as the company’s address in China, until shortly before the deal was closed.
3. "The Panthers sacked Russell Wilson then did the dance from a Future video"
The dance comes from Future's "Where Ya At," and it should be mentioned that Wilson's girlfriend Ciara used to date Future and has a child with him. So yes, the Panthers ABSOLUTELY knew what they were doing. They also used Future's music to play the Seahawks off the field following warmups.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

"The Untold Story of What Happened After ‘Back at It Again at Krispy Kreme,’ the Best Vine of All Time"

"on its two-year anniversary, I set out to find the origins of this incredible Vine — as well as learn its aftermath."

"Wild boar on loose in Hong Kong financial district evades police"

"Technology worker streams four hours of pursuit on Periscope as police armed with riot shields fail to drive boar into net or coax it out with food"

Los Alamos Rolodex: Doing Business with the National Lab 1967-1978

$14 at Amazon:

In 2012 the Center for Land Use Interpretation acquired a set of seven rolodexes from the dispersed collection of former Los Alamos National Laboratory employee Ed Grothus, who operated a salvage company of lab cast-offs, known as The Black Hole.

Now part of the Center’s Radioactive Archive, the rolodexes contain thousands of business cards kept by some unknown office in the lab over the 1960s and 1970s—the peak of the arms race and its technological development. They are a physical record of everything from major military contractors to obscure high- and low-tech software widget suppliers–many of which are no longer extant, or have evolved.

The selection of 150 cards may be viewed as a snapshot of synergies between the business community and America’s atomic might. On the one hand, they are a direct indexical connection from the recent past to the sources of creating the most sophisticated and powerful national defense technologies in the world. On the other hand, they are obsolete information, relics of a former usefulness. As a specific printed historical record—superbly reproduced in full color—they are relevant to a potential understanding of the present; they are evocative evidence of the links that formed the secret technology of our nation.

"a phenomenon known as 'gazumping.'"

NYT:

Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz al-Thani of Qatar thought he’d bought a Picasso masterpiece in November 2014. That was when he agreed, through his agents, to pay $42 million for the spectacular “Bust of a Woman (Marie-Thérèse).” The seller was Picasso’s daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso, who was parting with a much-loved object.

But the sheikh never got his Picasso. After he had made the first two of three payments, his agents received a letter canceling the sale and refunding the money.

Custom-painted Ghostbusters miniatures from the new board game



Dustin Remolde repainted the miniatures from the Ghostbusters board game (available at Amazon).

Friday, January 15, 2016

Link roundup

1. "A former Taco Bell executive who was arrested and fired after a viral dash-cam video showed him attacking an Uber driver is now suing that driver for $5 million — saying the driver illegally recorded the violent incident."

2. "The instant bread in Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn't CGI"

'I’m gonna be famous for Star Wars for nothing else but this bread!'
3. "John Scott Gets Screwed Out Of His [NHL] All-Star Spot"
The inclusion of Scott, who has spent portions of the season in the AHL, was an intentional joke, similar to the attempt at voting in every Kansas City Royal for the MLB All-Star Game. The 33-year-old, whose biggest recent on-ice moment was a beef with Tim Jackman, has one point (an assist) this season. He hasn’t played in an NHL game since Dec. 31.

In December, Puck Daddy pushed the campaign for Scott because the idea of a 6-foot-8 lug with five career goals in the 3-on-3 tournament was amusing. The movement gained steam, and when the NHL announced the full All-Star rosters, sure enough, Scott was a fan-elected captain.

Link roundup

1. "Astronauts piloting Virgin Galactic's commercial space flights will suit-up in these one-piece uniforms by Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas' brand Y-3"

2. Review of the new free to play Star Trek game:

It seems cool, but I’m worried that the game was made more to hook whales than actually deliver a rewarding Star Trek experience.
3. "The incredible tale of irresponsible chocolate milk research at the University of Maryland"

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Link roundup

1. "Sherman Oaks Notre Dame unveils new weight training facility"

$300,000 worth of new equipment
2. "despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed"
Why has the capacity limit not been raised? Because the block chain is controlled by Chinese miners, just two of whom control more than 50% of the hash power.
...
if the Bitcoin network got more popular, they fear taking part would get too difficult and they’d lose their income stream. This gives them a perverse financial incentive to actually try and stop Bitcoin becoming popular.
3. "Japan To Redesign Its Pictograms to Be More Foreigner Friendly" (no more swastikas to mean "temple").

"St. Louis now has no NFL team, but incredibly, the city, county, and state still owe a combined $152 million to pay off the Edward Jones Dome"

Deadspin:

Missouri senator Claire McCaskill says that she is drafting legislation that would require professional sports franchises that skip town prematurely to refund the public

...


To be clear, McCaskill still isn’t on the side of the righteous here. She was in favor of the public plunking down another $400 million to build a stadium to keep the Rams in St. Louis, even though there is a near-consensus in the academic literature that stadiums provide no economic benefit. In fact, her proposed legislation only has any effect at all if the public continued to finance stadiums.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Link roundup

1. Play the LA Times Powerball simulator.

2. "Lessons learned from porting indie games onto arcade cabinets":

"When designing for an arcade machine, the player begins the experience as soon as they see the cabinet,"

...

They need to know at a glance what your game is, and how to play it. A completely unique controller or visual style can also help to set you apart.
3. "The Bizarre Rise of an American Porn Star in Narendra Modi's India":
Bollywood is India's film industry where even kissing on screen is taboo, thanks to a decades-long ban only recently removed. Just this would make Leone's success there kinda bizarre. But what's even more bizarre is that her stock has risen at the same time as the country elected Narendra Modi, arguably India's most prudish prime minister ever, by a landslide. He represents a brand of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism that regards Valentine's Day as Western debauchery and sex education in school as an invitation to licentiousness.

Link roundup

1. "The UK's Alton Towers has announced Galactica, a three-minute virtual reality flight through space at up to 47mph and 3.5-g. Strapped in face-down with headset on, passengers will travel through an assortment of galactic scenes timed to change with the ride's big moments."

2. "Los Angeles Rams' move means Madden's stadium builders must act fast"

Soldier Field, owned by the city of Chicago, was a famous holdout from Madden for years, finally joining the series for Madden NFL 12. The video game Bears had played in a generic stadium before that.
3. "Wells Fargo Mocks Minnesota Vikings’ 'Photo Bomb' Lawsuit"
The Vikings are building a fancy new stadium and have sold the naming rights to U.S. Bank. To preserve the value of those naming rights, the team made deals with all the owners of the neighboring buildings to determine where and how they could put up signage on these properties.

This includes the couple of buildings that Wells Fargo has next to the stadium site. The bank has since put illuminated Wells Fargo logos on those two 17-story towers...these new signs can only be spotted in aerial images.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

How to make Zankou-style creamy garlic sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups neutral oil such as grapeseed or sunflower
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Link roundup

1. "ancient crocodile discovered in the Sahara was the size of a bus"

2. "Buying multiple $2 tickets in the multistate game may seem logical, but it represents a misunderstanding of the towering odds against claiming the biggest prize"

3. Gallery of Chinese lottery winners wearing masks.

Disney's cosplay suggestions for adults participating in the upcoming Star Wars half marathon



Adults can't wear costumes, so Disney suggested these alternatives:

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Daily Telegraph Installs Workplace Monitors On Journalists’ Desks"

Buzzfeed:

The devices can tell whether newspaper staff are at their desk by using heat and motion sensors, BuzzFeed News has learned.

...

Journalists were baffled by the unannounced appearance of the boxes. Staff resorted to googling the brand name and discovered they were wireless motion detectors produced by a company called OccupEye that monitor whether individuals are using their desks.

...

UPDATE: The devices have been removed following this story.

Valentines Day in the world of Harry Potter

WB Studio Tour:

You are invited to attend a bewitching banquet this February for 'Valentine's Dinner in the Great Hall'. You'll be greeted on arrival with welcome drinks and canapés (including a special Love Potion cocktail), before taking your seats on the authentic Great Hall set.
Sitting at individual tables for two decorated with flowers and candles, you and your partner will enjoy a delicious three-course dinner including a starter, main course and assiette of desserts to share. You'll then be given exclusive after-hours access to the Studio Tour with the chance to see sets such as the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore's office, the Weasley kitchen at The Burrow and the Malfoy Manor dining table, before enjoying a drink on Platform 9 3/4.

Following a tankard of Butterbeer in the backlot cafe, you will be able to wander up the wizarding shopping street of Diagon Alley, before arriving at the breathtaking Hogwarts castle model for after-dinner tea, coffee and chocolates. The evening concludes when you return to the Studio Tour lobby to collect your chosen wand.
Tickets are priced at £247.50 each, available to purchase in pairs for £495 from Wednesday 13th January.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Link roundup

1. USA Today in July:

The 36 states that participate in the multi-state lottery are making it harder to win the top prize, but increasing the odds of winning any money.
...
The move is aimed at boosting jackpots as sales have slumped since 2013, the last huge payout.
2. "Despite the efforts of the College Football Playoff committee and some media outlets downplaying the financial hit ESPN took by being forced to televise the two national championship semi-final games on New Year’s Eve, media buyers say the network owes upwards of $20 million in ad makegoods for ratings shortfalls for the two games."

3. Netflix:
Apparently Adam Sandler's low-brow Western The Ridiculous Six racked up more views during its first 30 days of availability than any other movie in Netflix's history, a designation that includes both the service's burgeoning original films and its licensed properties. "The Ridiculous Six, by way of example, in the first 30 days on Netflix it's been the most-watched movie in the history of Netflix," said Sarandos. "It's also enjoyed a spot at #1 in every territory we operate in, and in many of them it's still #1."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Papercraft Warhammer 40k figures and vehicle



Available for download.

Link roundup

1. "Episode 8 is Kylo Ren finding out Vader created C3P0 and going crazy trying to get him for his collection"

2. "Falcons imprison live birds to keep them fresh for a later meal"

USAF Flickr feed



Photo 1:

Pararescue jumpers and combat rescue officers conduct a search and rescue response during Hurricane Katrina-like flood training March 8, 2015, in Perry, Ga. The four-day exercise used HH-60 Pave Hawks and MV-22 Ospreys for simulated scenarios that included earthquake collapsed buildings, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices detonating, and mass casualty responses. The pararescue jumpers and rescue officers are from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan)
Photo 2:
Students of the 364th Training Squadron's electrical systems course practice climbing power poles as part of a familiarization and trust exercise with the safety equipment Feb. 3, 2015, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. They spent an extended period suspended to simulate a lengthy installation or repair as part of the training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Danny Webb)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"This is a story about how the U.S. military built a lavish headquarters in Afghanistan that wasn’t needed, wasn’t wanted and wasn’t ever used—at a cost to American taxpayers of at least $25 million"

"But even under the most optimistic estimates, the project wouldn’t be completed until six months after those troops would start going home."

A Warhammer 40K player describes the time he played against Robin Williams' "bright pink/black 'Gay Eldar' army"

A Redditor:

I don't remember how long I was painting, but I had just finished a GK Terminator when in walked Robin himself with his daughter Zelda.

...

He narrated the entire game, and alternated between a booming, powerful voice for my marines and a very flamboyant lispy voice for his flaming gay Eldar.

Link roundup

1. Excellent review of the first episode of The Magicians (which was redeemed only by the appearance of The Beast).

2. "The Order In Which I Would Have Murdered the 'And Then There Were None' Guests"

3. "A man in Northern California was charged with arson after he allegedly set fire to homes and cars belonging to his groomsmen in revenge for not supporting him after his marriage fell apart"

Temple of the Deceived card game



Available at Amazon:

After a treacherous journey at sea, several of Middle-earth's greatest heroes arrive at a remote island, covered in mountains, jungles, and the ruins of a fallen civilization. Somewhere amid those ruins, a chest has lain locked and half-forgotten for untold ages. Now, with the key to that chest in their possession, your heroes must scour the island to find it, but their every step carries them deeper into the middle of uncharted natural dangers… and closer to the hordes of cursed dead that haunt the isle!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"In his home office overlooking Monterey Bay, Marc Gafni is trying to remake American spirituality"

NY Times:

A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni “a bold visionary.”

...

The new media pioneer Arianna Huffington spoke, via teleconference, at Mr. Gafni’s invitation-only conference last year.

...

But the growing prominence of Mr. Gafni, 55, and his think tank has alarmed many Jewish leaders who know him as a former rabbi who was accused of sexually exploiting a high school freshman and who then moved to Israel to start a mystical community, only to lose it after having affairs with multiple followers.

Link roundup

1. No advertisements on NBA jerseys yet because some teams will make so much more money than others.

2. Mod for Soma that makes enemies harmless:

“…the servants of the WAU quietly patrolling the abandoned halls of Pathos-2 have a chilling poignance to them. Puppets slowly stalk you through hallways instead of madly dashing for you, as if they are confused by your presence and don’t know what to do with an intruder that shares their flesh and blood. Constructs beg you for structure gel, and angrily chastise you for not sharing, but they cannot take it from you, and as you walk by them, a cold chill overtakes you as you realize they will slowly starve in the inky black depths. Playing it is an incredibly surreal experience, and while I personally prefer the vanilla gameplay, I think for those with weaker countenances, this is certainly a worthwhile way to play.”
3. "Lumosity to Pay $2 Million to Settle FTC Deceptive Advertising Charges for Its “Brain Training” Program"
“Lumosity preyed on consumers’ fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But Lumosity simply did not have the science to back up its ads.”

"This collaboration embodies the shared values cherished by both Louis Vuitton and Final Fantasy"





Square:

As iconic as Louis Vuitton’s new campaign star might be, she isn’t an actor, a musician or a supermodel – it’s our very own Lightning, also known as Claire Farron. In 2016, the savior is to become the first video game character to become a high-fashion model in a major fashion house!

Square Enix stated that “This collaboration embodies the shared values cherished by both Louis Vuitton and Final Fantasy; to preserve our traditions while constantly seeking out new and revolutionary ideas in order to deliver products of world-class quality. Under this philosophy we aim to bring a new value and new experiences to the world.”

As the model for the “Series 4,” Lightning will appear on various magazine advertisements starting from the January 2016 issue and will also star in promotional videos for the campaign. In addition, she has become the new face of Louis Vuitton all over the social media.
Nina Freeman:
as a kid who grew up into fashion magazines & video games, the final fantasy x louis vuitton collaboration is my childhood dreams come true

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Link roundup

1. "Twitter Isn’t Raising the Character Limit. It’s Becoming a Walled Garden."

Instead of funneling traffic to blogs, news sites, and other sites around the Web, the “read more” button will keep you playing in Twitter’s own garden.
2. "In Star Wars Episode III, I just noticed that George Lucas picks parts from different takes of actors and morphs them within the same shot. Focus your eyes on Anakin, his face and hair starts to transform."  (This video shows editing of a scene in The Phantom Menace.)

3. "The Celebrity Surgeon Who Used Love, Money, and the Pope to Scam an NBC News Producer"

"Remember that pair of strange recent tweets from Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen suggesting that the two ESPN NFL insiders would be staying in on New Year’s Eve to watch the college football playoff and eat Domino’s Pizza? They were, indeed, part of an ad campaign"

"ESPN says this is all a mistake and that future tweets associated with Domino’s ad buy with the network will be compliant with federal law."

"The Easiest Way to Lose 125 Pounds Is to Gain 175 Pounds"

NFL writer Bill Barnwell talks about food addiction and recent weight loss.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Link roundup

1. "New North Carolina Logo Named Worst of 2015"

2. "Ordos - A Failed Utopia"

Ordos, Inner Mongolia, is well known as the largest Chinese "ghost town". Located in a province rich with natural resources (coal, gas, rare earth metals), the local government decided to invest heavily in the late 90's / early 20's to develop a new city which would become the pride of the country: a futuristic vision of a cultural, economic and political center boasting state-of-the-art infrastructure and real estate. However, following the classic Chinese tradition of building fast and cheap, without any urban planning or long term vision, the city quickly became a spectacular failure. The prices of property being much too high discouraged potential buyers so the only people who actually moved in were local government officials and migrant workers who could earn more here thanks to a special "relocation bonus". As a result the city is now a surreal landscape of empty streets, decaying monuments, abandoned buildings and half-finished housing projects.
3. Punk Leia cosplay.

4. Green tower.

"The mysterious case of the dead North Korean doctors and their wives"

WaPo:

Even by the standards of news about North Korea, this story is bizarre: Two North Korean doctors working in Cambodia died over the weekend, apparently after they got so drunk that their wives, also doctors, injected them with some mystery liquid to counteract the alcohol. Both men then had heart attacks

...

Now, we’re used to stories about strange deaths in North Korea.

...

But this case concerns North Koreans who were almost certainly among the 50,000 or more citizens outside the country earning money for Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Chimera figurine



Available here.

"Win a [Ted] Cruz engraved shotgun"

"One (1) winner will receive the following prize: (a) Remington 11-87 12 Gauge Shotgun with an engraved Ted Cruz Logo on the stock"

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Lego Han and Leia



By Luc Byard.

Alternate Sherlock The Abominable Bride review (spoiler?)

"Here's why every football player is celebrating touchdowns by running in place"

"Dabbing is dead. This is the next celebration that every sports figure will have done two months from now."

The start of all this is the music video for "Ritz Carlton" by Plies, a rapper who REALLY LIKES YELLING and, once upon a time, played wide receiver for Miami (Ohio) under his government name, Algernod Washington.

George Martin on the status of the next Game of Thrones book

"Nor is it likely to be finished tomorrow, or next week. Yes, there's a lot written. Hundreds of pages. Dozens of chapters. (Those 'no pages done' reports were insane, the usual garbage internet journalism that I have learned to despise). But there's also a lot still left to write. I am months away still... and that's if the writing goes well."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Link roundup

1. "Carly Fiorina just took political pandering to a whole new level"

when Carly Fiorina declared Friday afternoon that she was rooting for Iowa in college football's Rose Bowl, despite being from California, that's not even why it was bad.

It was bad because Iowa is playing her alma mater, Stanford University.
2. "Apparent Leader Of Dirt Bike Group Pulling Stunts On SF Streets May Be Marin County Sheriff’s Deputy"

3. "UMBC’s once-mighty chess team fails to qualify for the Final Four"
Besides handing out more than a dozen scholarships, Webster allocates $635,000 a year for coaching salaries, expenses and other enticements — outspending UMBC by 4 to 1

Good podcast: "What was your favorite game of 2015?"

"We asked 22 of the smartest people we know–designers, critics, academics, political journalists, an actor, a playwright–and got 18 different answers."