Monday, March 25, 2019

"Hackers Hijacked ASUS Software Updates to Install Backdoors on Thousands of Computers"


ASUS, a multi-billion dollar computer hardware company based in Taiwan that manufactures desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, smart home systems, and other electronics, was pushing the backdoor to customers for at least five months last year before it was discovered, according to new research from the Moscow-based security firm.

The researchers estimate half a million Windows machines received the malicious backdoor through the ASUS update server, although the attackers appear to have been targeting only about 600 of those systems.


ASUS denied to Kaspersky that its server was compromised and that the malware came from its network when the researchers contacted the company in January.


But the US-based security firm Symantec confirmed the Kaspersky findings on Friday after being asked by Motherboard to see if any of its customers also received the malicious download. The company is still investigating the matter but said in a phone call that at least 13,000 computers belonging to Symantec customers were infected with the malicious software update from ASUS last year.

"Great visceral chugs"

Per Wikipedia, "Gill suffered from severe dyslexia and consequently dictated all of his writing"

Spidey Animation; Into the Spider-Verse commentary track

Also, Into the Spider-Verse Animator Commentary Track available for free download:
The animation team behind the Academy Award winning, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, have re-assembled (after some well earned time off) to reminisce and share insight into the animation process.

Want to know who animated your favourite shots? Curious what could have been or how your favourite character was developed? Now you can watch along with Animation Supervisor, Joshua Beveridge, Lead Animators, Philip Rudolph, Humberto Rosa, David Blais, Julie Bernier Gosselin, and Jeff Panko, and Associate Production Manager, Sam Marks as they dive into the nitty gritty of bringing all your favourite characters to life.
*Previously: SP//dr cosplay.

MAFEX Jim Lee-style Cyclops available for preorder

Multiple laser blasts, alternate sunglasses etc. (The Gwenpool from the same line is terrific.)

The Photo Ark

*Photo Ark books and TV episodes available at Amazon.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A funny story about Gary Shandling

The Cobra organization in GI Joe started as a pyramid scheme

Cobra Commander abandoned his wife, taking Billy with him. Living on the road and earning a living by increasingly illicit scams and con jobs, the soon-to-be Commander blamed all his problems on the American social system, and traveled in search of people who shared his desire to topple big business and the government, using money earned from pyramid schemes to attract followers. It was during these early meetings that he first began wearing a blue hood to mask his civilian identity.

He then moved operations to Springfield, an average small American town which had suffered economic collapse. Through his criminal skills he revived Springfield's' fortunes, and used cash and charisma to win converts to his cause. Eventually he seized control of the entire town and used it as a base to grow his organization into the paramilitary group "Cobra." This corrupting rise to power distanced Cobra Commander from his son, enough that Billy eventually joined the underground anti-Cobra resistance.
The first episode of The Dream podcast is all about pyramid schemes in the 80's.

"All ISIS Has Left Is Money. Lots of It"


[The broker]—is part of the hawala system, which is often used to transfer cash between places where the banking system has broken down or is too expensive for some to access. If he agrees to do business, you’ll set a password and he will take your cash, then provide you with the contact information of a hawala broker in the city where your money is headed. Anyone who offers that specific password to that particular broker will get the funds. Thus, cash can travel across borders without any inquiry into who is sending or receiving it, or its purpose.


Even as U.S.-backed forces wrest back the Islamic State’s last strip of territory in Syria, the United States and its allies are nowhere close to bringing down the terrorist organization’s economic empire. The group remains a financial powerhouse: It still has access to hundreds of millions of dollars, according to experts’ estimates


The Islamic State’s financial strength offers a window into the broader challenge facing the United States and other governments. In its effort to squeeze the group financially, Washington has been forced to rely on a fundamentally different strategy than it employed in its military campaign: The main weapons at its disposal are not air strikes and artillery barrages, but subtler tools, such as sanctioning Islamic State–linked businesses, denying them access to the international financial system, and quietly cooperating with governments across the globe.

Underwater refinery diorama

"28" is a free 144-page zine dedicated to Games Workshop miniatures

Short fiction, conversion guides, interviews, and lots and lots of photos of heavily-converted miniatures.

Ten funny tweets

*More funny tweets.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold trailer

Ten nightmares

Cards Against Humanity hired town criers

*More stunts by Cards Against Humanity.

A high school performed Alien as a play

Bird looks like a dancing black hole

A post shared by Tim Laman (@timlaman) on

Video game roundup

Wargaming miniatures roundup

*See more miniatures.

SP//dr cosplay (Into the Spider-Verse)

"Whenever a kid would take a photo with our group, if they stood near my robot, they would gently hold onto one of the fingers of the claws. During these photos, I would stand very still to avoid bumping into the child, so I had no idea this was even happening."

Recent Star Trek Discovery highlights

Ten funny tweets

*More funny tweets.

Friday, March 22, 2019

History repeats for England


UK's top toilet roll supplier stockpiling in case of no-deal Brexit


The company has also built six weeks’ supplies of the cardboard core used inside the rolls, as this cannot be sourced from the UK in sufficient quantities and is imported from EU countries in eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
After the Romans left:
The material evidence she presents is clear and depressing. Levels of trade in second-century Britain, then firmly under Roman imperial rule, were not reached again for 1500 years.


There were villas in every city and many small towns, some of them enormous and luxurious, like the one at Woodchester near Stroud, with its 8500 square-foot principal room. Some were no doubt occupied by Roman officials, but the majority must have been owned by Romanised Britain’s native aristocracy


The hobnailed boots which Romano-British peasants had worn – and often been buried in – disappeared. No nails for boots, or for coffins, and so ‘the British slipped in the mud and buried the people they loved directly in the cold, hard ground.’ As pottery disappeared, teeth got worse with people chewing grit picked up from open hearths. In the fifth century the inhabitants of Cadbury in Somerset were scavenging cremation urns from 200-year-old cemeteries to cook with.

Rocky figures by Super 7 available for preorder

Including Drago, Apollo Creed, and Sico the Robot.

The latest Eaglemoss miniatures too, including the Star Trek Planet Killer.

Optical illusion playing cards

Illusion d’Optique deck available here.

"In South Korea, the expression 'black-haired' is commonly used in nationalistic insults against South Koreans working for foreign companies who are said to be disloyal to the country"


International journalists’ organizations are criticizing the status of press freedom in South Korea after the country’s ruling party singled out a Bloomberg reporter with South Korean nationality over what it claimed was a “borderline traitorous” article insulting President Moon Jae-in, resulting in threats to the reporter’s safety.

The voice




Werewolves were popular in the 1300s

There was a series of Columbo novels based on real life cases including Manson, JFK, and Hoffa

These are available at Amazon. For example, Columbo: The Helter Skelter Murders:

The wife of a wealthy Los Angeles businessman is found murdered in her bed with her lover, with the words Helter Skelter painted in blood on the walls. Columbo, America's favorite TV detective, must ask himself whether the horror of the Manson himself is ordering a fresh new round of atrocities from his San Quentin prison cell?

To solve this case Columbo will have to face evil incarnate: the madman known simply as "Charlie."
And The Grassy Knoll:
After the murder of controversial talk-show host Paul Drury, Lieutenant Columbo must unravel the thirty-year-old mystery of the assassination of President Kennedy, a crime whose perpetrator Drury had been about to expose on his final show

"Author Who Once Faked Being British, Nominated for British Book Award"


If you’ll recall, [the author] was outed as a pathological liar in an investigation published by The New Yorker earlier this year. There’s some delicious irony in his being nominated for a British Book Award: One of his many fabrications was a British accent, which he adopted for a period of time despite being born and raised in the U.S. One colleague explained this bizarre tick to The New Yorker as “a grown man walking around with a fake accent that everyone knows is fake,” adding that the “habit lasted for years.” But it’s a rather trivial sin alongside his other lies, which were about having cancer and the deaths of various family members.

"WeChat influencer reveals culinary secrets hidden in plain sight from English-speaking Toronto"


Ask any Chinese person in the [Greater Toronto Area] where to find out about new local Chinese restaurants and they’ll open WeChat


Joanna Luo, 29, is one of the few Toronto-based WeChat influencers. Her Toronto Diary lifestyle page has more than 110,000 followers. She knows what her predominately Chinese audience wants when it comes to food and writes from that point of view. In fact when it comes to Chinese fare in Toronto, Luo finds that what’s new in Western food publications is already old news for her.


“Chinese people have a high purchasing power,” she says. “A lot of international students here have more money because their parents support them so can go out to eat a lot.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Wicked + The Divine #45 cover by Olivia Jaimes

Article comparing the USA's overseas military bases to Bond villain lairs

"Power Is Sovereignty, Mr. Bond"

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, knew something about islands. During the Second World War, he’d served as the assistant to Britain’s director of naval intelligence. In 1943, he traveled to Kingston, Jamaica for a high-level intelligence conference with the United States. The Caribbean was then in dire straits, tormented by German submarines that evaded the Allied navies. Rumors floated that the boats were finding safe berth at a secret harbor built by Dr. Axel Wenner-Gren, a mysterious Swedish multimillionaire with Nazi ties who had established himself on an island in the Bahamas.

The accusations that Wenner-Gren was using his island as a secret Nazi base proved false. But Fleming nevertheless found it all irresistible. He bought an estate in Jamaica (named Goldeneye, after one of the intelligence operations he’d help run) and began writing his Bond novels from there.


What, specifically, could the United States do with a base? A fine example is the Swan Islands, a small cluster of three islands in an isolated part of the Caribbean, not far from the fictional location of Doctor No’s island. In the 1950s, the CIA secretly built a landing strip and a fifty-thousand-watt radio transmitter on Great Swan. That single transmitter could reach South America, allowing the United States to cover with its radio beams territory inaccessible by ground.

Soon after the CIA built that radio station, a delegation of Honduran students carrying arms came to Great Swan to “liberate” the islands and claim them for Honduras. They had no idea of the CIA’s presence, and the agency was determined to keep them in the dark. give them plenty of beer and protect the family jewels read the frantic cable from Washington (i.e., don’t let them discover the broadcasting equipment). Marines sped to the island to repel the invasion.

What happened next can be best appreciated by reading the cable traffic from Swan to Washington:
*Previously: "Is the United States about to lose control of its secretive Diego Garcia military base?"