Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"they’ve also been taught to expect less. For example, almost none of the Bee parents had any expectations that things would go well for their child"

From an interview with the author of Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal About Generation Z’s New Path to Success:
If you look at the pattern of Indian immigration to the U.S. since 1965, it is always highly educated immigrants, with accommodations for other skill levels. Since 1990, however, overwhelming emphasis has been put on those who are highly trained in STEM fields. So you have this concentration of STEM professionals who value education even more intensely than the earlier waves of immigrants had. And they’ve built up this infrastructure for their kids, including this whole minor-league spelling circuit just for South Asian kids.


The levels of spelling performance improved so much over the years that they had to introduce other metrics to eliminate kids. So in 2013 Scripps introduced a vocabulary round, and that increased the difficulty tremendously. Now you can spell right onstage all the way to the finals and you still might not make it because you don’t have a high enough vocab test score to advance to the next round.


They seem like they’re less brittle than their millennial equivalents, partly because of the techniques they have for emotional control.

There’s that, but they’ve also been taught to expect less. For example, almost none of the Bee parents had any expectations that things would go well for their child. They hoped. They were doing everything they could to make it happen. But there’s this overwhelming sense of precarity. Even with the brightest kids,

Super Mario Question Blocks placed IRL; Deus Ex training mission secret room; Sonic redesigned

Y2K Aesthetic

Ten funny tweets

*More funny posts.

Monday, April 29, 2019

"Indonesia is moving its capital city away from Jakarta"

Jakarta, home to over 10 million people, is sinking at one of the fastest rates in the world.


The idea of moving the capital has been floated several times since the country gained independence from the Dutch in 1945.

In 2016, a survey found that the mega-city had the world's worst traffic congestion. Government ministers have to be escorted by police convoys to get to meetings on time.

The planning minister says snarl-ups in Jakarta costs the economy 100 trillion rupiah ($6.8bn, £5.4bn) a year.
*Previously: "Jakarta's violent identity crisis: behind the vilification of Chinese-Indonesians"

Eye of Agamotto amulet, Fury's pager

The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections is a great short story

Available at Tor, by Tina Connolly.

Endgame behind-the-scenes video with Nebula and Gamora stand-ins

*Previously: Skyfall stunt doubles.

Game of Thrones roundup

And Mormont:

Also, the deluxe Joffrey Baratheon figures by Threezero are available for preorder.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Ten funny tweets

*More funny posts.

I try to post articles only after researching them and determining they seem reliable and important. But...

The article has video.

"Did you know that the gauntlet of Thanos is so powerful because it is a replica of the relic of the hand of St. Teresa de Jesus?"

From a visit to the relic:
The nuns of the Nuestra Señora de la Merced in Ronda are keepers of a treasure; one of the most important holy relics in Spain, the hand of Saint Teresa of Avila. Stolen from the convent in 1937, Franco seized possession of the hand and slept with it beside his bedside until his death in 1975. It is now back in its rightful home, housed in a darkened, locked room, set inside a silver glove that’s covered in precious stones.

My friend had assured that if we were to arrive at 5pm, a sister would be waiting for us. I rang the bell and approached the rotating hatch as the sister welcomed us with a customary “Ave Maria”. I panicked and then remembered the response, “sin pecado reconcibido” (without preconceived sin). The hatch swivelled, revealing a key. “Please go through to the door on your right and wait.”
And another:
Antonio first ushered us into the foyer next to where the relic is contained. This convent is for a cloistered order of nuns. Antonio said that he was going to “talk to the wall ” but that what would be more surprising was that “the wall would speak back”.

This is exactly what happened.

Trying out an AI's preferred strategy in real life

"I Love This Game of Thrones Fan Theory About the Battle of Winterfell"

In this strange and sudden conversion, a post from Song of Ice and Fire blogger Steven Attewell served as my own road-to-Damascus moment. On Tuesday, a reader posed Attewell (who is also a professor at CUNY; I feel like I need to gas him up in thanks) a question: What did he think of the theory that the Winterfell crypts are actually a terrible place to put the North’s noncombatants, given that they’re full of corpses, which happen to be the raw material for the Night King’s army? His response was to suggest something I had never considered before:

I don’t think the Starks of ages past, so focused on the coming of winter, buried their dead with iron swords because they were stupid men.

In other words: The dead Starks in the crypts won’t rise up and turn against the living; they’ll rise up and protect them.

Wargaming miniatures roundup

*More miniatures.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

"When [the new head of Sun-Maid] came west, though, he was taken aback by the level of animosity he encountered in the U.S. raisin industry"

Three months into his tenure, which began on Halloween of 2017, Mr. Overly attended a meeting of some raisin industry players in the back room of a restaurant in Fresno, Calif. This introduction left him shaken. “I’m not saying this lightly, because — you can read about this in different spots — people kind of think there’s this raisin mafia out there and that kind of stuff,” Mr. Overly said.

He said that he asked the group how they thought they could work together. “And the answer I got back was nothing short of collusion,” he said. While no one was proposing they take action, the anti-competitive tactics discussed in that back room, he said, were “completely illegal.”

As he tried to make changes in the raisin industry and at his own company, Mr. Overly said he faced intimidation, harassing phone calls and multiple death threats. With his spouse in the last trimester of a pregnancy, Mr. Overly found a note shoved into a crack of his front door that warned: “you can’t run.”

Mr. Overly installed a security system at his house in Fresno. At Sun-Maid headquarters, he and other executives discussed the necessity of active shooter trainings. As rumors about Mr. Overly’s motives swirled among raisin farmers, raisin packers and raisin bureaucrats, he became increasingly concerned about the safety of the raisins themselves. He feared that the current crop, drying from grapes to a wrinkly, shrunken state in bins on the Sun-Maid campus, would be set ablaze. It was their destruction by “fire, specifically,” that worried him, he said.
PepsiCo has offered to settle its lawsuit against four Indian farmers who grew the patented potato variety used in its Lays chips without the company’s permission.


The company offered to drop the lawsuit if the farmers become part of its collaborative potato farming program. The farmers would have to buy seeds and sell the produce back to the company at predetermined prices.

“In case they do not wish to join this program, they can simply sign an agreement and grow other available varieties of potatoes.” PepsiCo said.

More Famicase 2019

A diver describes working on an oil rig

A Redditor:
Used to do saturation diving. I did work on oil rigs. It's pretty spooky down there. No particularly "spooky scary seamonster" stories, but it's not a nice place.

For one, it's dark as a MOTHERFUCKER. Pitch black and your lamp barely goes more than a few yards effectively. The water is filled with particles so it's kind of like shining a light into smoke. It's seriously like being in a void and the only things in this void are you and the rig. I never disconnected from it longer than I had to. It just feels like you can fall forever.

As for spooky scary seamonsters, I never really saw any. Don't get me wrong, you see shit a lot. The mixture you're breathing combined with the pressure can and will fuck with your senses. More than a few times I saw something big and fast moving just beyond my light. Sound doesn't travel well in water but you can hear the rig popping and other shit, always really deep tones.


The rig popping is really ominous because it's like a bass drum that's all around you and the only sound in almost absolute silence. You can see things moving in the dark and when you look at them, your lamp only goes ten yards or so and all it's hitting are the particles in the water. This happens a few times and you're certain you're not alone down there. You feel like you're being hunted. A lot of guys die because they try and rush and that's something you can't do underwater, no matter how much you want to. You kind of got to get it in your head that "well shit I hope it doesn't eat me" and keep working. It can be hard not to panic. They teach you tactical breathing both to conserve and to keep you from losing it.

You start focusing really god damn hard on that tactical breathing when you swear you saw something on the edge of your vision, felt the water move against your back, and heard the shift.


Every diver has heard "the stories" though.

I think my favorite is the oldie of the diver goes down in the bell. He exits with his partner into the complete and utter darkness, slipping silently through the deep. They reach the pipe and begin to work. Eventually, they get down to the last bolt and they realized they forgot one! The partner goes back and the other stays, waiting. He watches his friend's lamp fade into the all-encompassing darkness until it's nothing more than a bulb that soon slips out of view. Minutes pass and then the light comes back, quickly making its way towards the diver... perhaps a little too quick. It seems to sway left and right. The diver, unnerved by the display, flashes his light twice before turning it off, hoping to get a response. Nothing. He sits in the complete and utter darkness, watching the light grow closer and closer. There's a deep moan in the water and all he can do is sit still, watching this light glide through the void.

I...might be a Clippers fan now

"Chernobyl comes back to life in Ukrainian computer game" that uses a detailed scale model and remote control tanks

Newcomers to the game think they have entered a virtual world when in fact they are controlling a real robot, equipped with a camera and computer, which makes its way around a model of the town rendered down to the tiniest detail.

“When playing our game, for the first 5-10 minutes many players don’t understand that it is not fictional,” said the game’s co-founder Sergey Beskrestnov. “They message us saying: ‘You have cool texture, you have good graphics, your designer is good, well done. You have a cool operating system.’


The game’s real-scale model occupies a 180 square metre (1,938 sq. ft) basement of a residential building in the Ukraine city of Brovary, just 150 km (93 miles) from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and 30 km east of Kiev.

Miniature radioactivity warning signs, graffiti on the walls of abandoned buildings and tables and chairs left scattered inside a small cafe all add to the creepy atmosphere of a once lively town.

Sigourney Weaver visiting the cast of the high school production of Alien (and a mini documentary on the making of)

Famicase 2019

Friday, April 26, 2019

Ten funny tweets

Thursday, April 25, 2019

"A secretive group of scientists who advise the U.S. government on everything from spy satellites to nuclear weapons is scrambling to find a sponsor after the Defense Department abruptly ended its contract"

The Jasons group comprises about 60 members. By day, they're normal academics, working at colleges and universities and in private industry. But each summer, they come together to study tough problems for the military, intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.

The group's name, like the group itself, is shrouded in mystery, though it's believed to be a reference to Jason, the Greek mythological prince who leads the Argonauts in looking for the Golden Fleece.


"They just formed themselves, back in 1960," says Ann Finkbeiner, who wrote The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite.

"USC cardiovascular fellowship to be stripped of national accreditation"

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education formally notified USC and Los Angeles County this week that their jointly run fellowship program will lose its accreditation next year, effectively shutting it down.

The panel did not publicly state the reasons for the action. But it comes a year after revelations that a medical resident had accused a fellow in the program of sexual assault and alleged officials didn’t take her case seriously.

The ACGME also took the rare step of imposing immediate probation on Los Angeles County and USC, which together sponsor more than 60 programs with hundreds of medical residents and fellows, including the troubled cardiovascular disease fellowship.
Trying to stop a measles outbreak from spreading, health officials announced Thursday that more than 200 students and staff members at UCLA and Cal State L.A. who have been exposed to measles are being asked to stay home.


L.A. County public health officials ordered Thursday that anyone who could not provide their immunization records stay at home. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, 235 people were still facing quarantine orders, according to county health officials.

Officials said they would lift the quarantine orders as soon as people showed documentation that they had been immunized or had a lab test to verify their immunity.

Nike's new Metcons come with velcro patches

Each pair comes with at least five patches inspired by military nostalgia, but with a Nike twist (like a feisty bee from an old fighter jet reaching for a kettlebell or a tornado lifting weights.)

Attachable by VELCRO® brand fastener, the patches can be applied to the shoe’s tongue and back-half of the upper. Athletes can stand out on the rubber floor or the street by adding patches from their gym, vest or favorite athlete to the mix.


The Nike Metcon 4 XD Patches will be available in Nike Special Field System Collection colors (tan, army green and triple black for men; dusty pink, lavender, and gray for women) May 3 on nike.com and at select retailers. Each colorway has a slightly different mix of patches, and the patches are not sold separately.
*Previously: Metcons with blackboard panels.

"Why Did a YouTube Bot Make an Unwatched Video of Our Blog Post?"

There was no motive behind it; there wasn’t even a mind. We were so far out beyond the realm of copyright infringement, the only logical thing to do was to rip back the whole video of our own copyrighted text and repost it ourselves.


(After we posted our copy of the smokaj0000 video to the Hmm Daily YouTube account, we received a copyright warning that it was being blocked because something called “HEXACORP LTD” had filed a copyright claim on the audio track “cool-mbia.”


Whatever smokaj0000 is doing, it is not producing content for human consumption. It is aggressively, chillingly ahuman, a machine signaling to machines for some algorithmic purpose whose human-centered antecedents are long lost
The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday authorized Alphabet’s Wing Aviation to start delivering goods via drones later this year. Wing will start delivering commercial packages in unmanned aircraft in Blacksburg, Virginia.


The devices can only be operated during the day, and a pilot can operate as many as five drones at a time.
How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity’


The documents also show a deeply automated tracking and termination process. “Amazon’s system tracks the rates of each individual associate’s productivity,” according to the letter, “and automatically generates any warnings or terminations regarding quality or productivity without input from supervisors.” (Amazon says supervisors are able to override the process.)