Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Flying backheel finisher

*Previously: Triple punch.

Invisible statues; How big is too big for dice?; X-Men redesign

"McDonald's has slashed its drive-thru service times"; when The Hamburglar was "The Long Jogger"

In June, the company’s drive-thru service times were 15 seconds shorter on average than they were a year earlier in the U.S., a noticeable reduction the company believes will pay dividends over the long run.


Company executives believe culling precious seconds off those drive-thru service times will be key to get customers coming in more frequently. Traffic is down again this year, despite strong sales, continuing a frustrating, seven-year trend for the Chicago-based burger giant.

“We want to get incremental improvement week-to-week-to-week,” Easterbrook said. “So each time a customer comes back, they will notice a few seconds’ difference.”
Speaking of McDonald's, have you ever seen proto-Hamburglar's early identity as "The Lone Jogger?" Like something out of Syfy's Candle Cove:

*Previously: McDonalds and Heinz split up.

"Inside Instagram’s annual beach party"

By Taylor Lorenz for Atlantic:
The occasion was "Instabeach," an exclusive, invite-only annual party hosted by the photo-sharing platform for 500 hundred top creators along with plus ones, talent representatives, managers, and—for the first time—press. The goal, according to Justin Antony, Instagram's head of creators and emerging talent partnerships, is to help influencers meet each other, mingle, and form friendships. But what started three years ago as a casual beach party for a class of people that was once maligned by the traditional entertainment industry has become a who's who of young Hollywood


Among them: The cooler, older, more well-known influencers, who had mostly come to put in face time with Instagram execs. Then there were the Instagram comedians, who huddled in circles roasting each other and anyone who came by. There were the dancers—spottable by their sneakers and propensity for casual backflips—and the hypebeasts, who arrived clad in Louis Vuitton and obscure streetwear. The self-proclaimed "Brat pack" consisted of about seven boys and a couple girls, all of whom star in shows on Brat
In other news, Gladstones is apparently proving to be immortal.

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

Ten funny tweets

*More funny posts.

"‘Pokémon GO’ Is Having Team Rocket Physically Invade New York City"

Niantic has been posting chronicles of actual, real-life Team Rocket grunts that they’ve photographed running around New York City, vandalizing Pokemon GO signs and billboards, culminating in the landing of a real-life Team Rocket balloon.

And speaking of Pokemon, here's montrous Pikachu:

*Buy Detective Pikachu toys at Amazon.

"Petition seeks end to forcing Tokyo high school students to dye hair black"

With some metropolitan high schools in Tokyo still instructing students to dye their hair black despite it naturally being another color, a group has presented the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education with 19,065 signatures backing a written request to stop the practice.


In western Japan, a woman who was forced to dye her natural brown hair as a third-grade student at an Osaka Prefecture-run high school launched a suit in 2017 for some 2.2 million yen in compensation. The case is pending at the Osaka District Court.
Telegraph (from May):
Some 60 per cent of public schools in Japan require that all pupils submit a document called Natural Hair Certification, which confirms the natural colour and degree of curliness of their hair.

A new survey shows one in 13 schoolchildren had subsequently been “urged” by their school to dye their naturally brown hair black.

The survey of 1,000 children and teachers accompanies a new campaign masterminded by P&G’s Pantene shampoo brand, which also sells hair dye, to challenge the expectation.


The debate was fuelled further last month, with the launch of a new petition offering a high-profile opposition to hair rule restrictions on schoolchildren in Japan.

The petition, which was reportedly inspired by the Pantene campaign, attracted more than 10,000 signatures in the first few weeks, with plans to present it to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
*Previously: Using carefully placed garbage to advertise Kit Kats

"In Australia, one cat seems to have destroyed an entire bird sanctuary"

Sarah Zhang for the Atlantic:
That’s when they decided on the stakeout. On the night of December 1, Greenwell and the five residents took shifts. The white cat came at 7 p.m.; they shooed it away. The cat returned at midnight; they shooed it away again. The cat came back a third time that night, and Greenwall saw it slinking toward the birds. They chased the cat for half a mile before it disappeared in the coastal scrub. The group returned to stake out the area the next night, and then the City of Mandurah hired an overnight security guard for a few days. When the cat was not seen again, they thought the danger had passed.

But it had not.


“There was absolute outrage in the community”
And speaking of wildlife sanctuaries:
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is the sort of book that you’ve either never heard of or have already read for your book club. The bestselling hardcover title of 2019, Crawdads has sold more than 1 million copies—jaw-dropping for any first novel, much less one by an author who just turned 70, living on a remote homestead in northern Idaho. Publishers Weekly has called its success the “feel-good publishing story of the year.” (Spoilers for the novel follow throughout this piece.) If you’re one of the people who’ve read the book, you probably know a little of Owens’ romantic backstory, like the huge boost her debut got when Reese Witherspoon, the Oprah of our time, selected it for her book club. Or the fact that while Crawdads is Owens’ first novel, it’s not her first book. And then there’s the 22 years she spent in Africa with her husband, Mark, living close to the land and working in wildlife conservation. Delia and Mark wrote about those experiences in three memoirs. But what most of Crawdads’ fans don’t know is that Delia and Mark Owens have been advised never to return to one of the African nations where they once lived and worked, Zambia, because they are wanted for questioning in a murder that took place there decades ago.


To be clear, Delia Owens herself is not suspected of involvement in the murder of a poacher filmed by an ABC camera crew in 1995, while the news program Turning Point was producing a segment on the Owenses’ conservation work in Zambia. But her stepson, Christopher, and her husband have been implicated by some witnesses.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pizza-making robot at Costco; Augmented reality book cover; Robot feeds you tomatoes while you run

"I tried to get rich dropshipping cheap crap to Coachella kids"

Experimenting with Shopify:
Since no one I spoke to was interested in telling me what I should stock my store with (as Hilse put it, “Man, if I told you what products to sell, like, publicly, that product would be dead in a couple days.”), I did a Google search for the best items to dropship. According to an article on Cloudways, a web hosting service advertising itself to potential ecommerce entrepreneurs, one of the hottest products for 2019 was the “Child Wrist Leash.” The article noted, “Many women lose their children while shopping in the malls.”


Sensing my brand’s potential as a leader in the music festival culture space, I dubbed the child leash a “Rave Buddy Leash.”


“It’s the impulse” that convinces people to buy stuff from a dropshipper, Hilse told me. “You’re not allowing them time to go and research and go and find cheap prices or anything. It’s all about finding a product that is shocking and viral that they’ve never seen before.” Much like every piece of content on the internet (including this article), dropshippers are in the business of capturing your precious and finite attention and turning it into money, albeit in a much more direct and transactional way than this article could hope to do.

Heart cake

Ten funny tweets

*More funny posts.

Knights of Ren at work; Ending of Rogue One recreated at a convention; How to get a job writing Star Wars books

Monday, July 29, 2019

"Dora seems committed to projecting a pre-sexualized version of youth, while throbbing unacknowledged beneath the surface is something a bit more real, its presence rigorously ignored"

The last paragraph of the Hollywood Reporter's review of "Dora and the Lost City of Gold":
What keeps things alive, up to a point, is the imperturbable attitude of the titular heroine, who is invested with try-and-stop-me spirit by Moner, who's actually 18 and looks it despite preventive measures. The same goes for Wahlberg, who's 19. There's a palpable gap you can't help but notice between the essentially innocent, borderline-pubescent nature of the leading characters and the film itself, and the more confident and mature vibes emanating from the leading actors. The director seems to be trying to keep the hormones at bay, but there are some things you just can't disguise, perhaps human nature first and foremost. Dora seems committed to projecting a pre-sexualized version of youth, while throbbing unacknowledged beneath the surface is something a bit more real, its presence rigorously ignored. To be believed, this story should have been set in 1955.

"The Great Wave: what Hokusai’s masterpiece tells us about museums, copyright and online collections today"

Open Glam:
Today, print impressions of ‘The Great Wave’, each one subtly different in colour and tone, can be found in museum collections around the world


So how do museums holding an impression of Hokusai’s iconic work make it available? To find out, let’s compare fourteen cultural institutions that have digitised and published their ‘Great Wave’ online.


The Art Institute of Chicago’s collections website makes the process incredibly simple: clicking once on the download icon triggers the download of a high-resolution image.


In contrast, undertaking the same process on the British Museum’s website entails mandatory user registration and the submission of personal data.


It’s as if these institutions have unconsciously revived the concept of zôhan (possession of blocks) for the 21st century.
*Previously: "The Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie, Very Litigious Bikini"

Ten funny tweets

*More funny posts.

YouTube vloggers selling a $350 lifelike doll of their two-week old baby

Nowhere in the unofficial YouTuber handbook does it advise you to commission and sell a creepily lifelike version of your youngest child.
And yet.


In a 27-minute vlog, the Ingham Family (whose patriarch has previously faced accusations of creeping on their teenage fans, claims he denies) announced the release of their latest merch: a 19-inch tall, soft-bodied recreation of their youngest son, Jace.

The eerily lifelike doll — called in the doll world a “reborn” — captures Jace Ingham at the age of two weeks. It comes with three outfits, a hat, dummy with clip, nappies, “birth certificate”, gift bag and pen.


Alongside having a realistic representation of the youngest child of your favorite YouTube family, buying a Jace reborn also gives you the chance to meet the Ingham Family at a special tea party, according to the retailer.
*Previously: "This is the 'voodoo doll' in the super-racist voodoo episode of 'Murder, She Wrote'"

"Priests accused of sex abuse turned to under-the-radar group"

Each week inside the warehouse, office workers mailed out appeals to potential donors in envelopes featuring pictures of the pope. The letters inside, as well as postings on the group’s website, included testimonials describing the purported experiences of priests who’d faced desperate crises, including false accusations of sexual abuse.

One testimonial from May 2018, for example, claimed that a “Father David” had been stalked by a mentally unbalanced parishioner who had accused him of sexual misconduct after he turned down her offers of gifts and money.

“Even when a priest has done absolutely nothing wrong,” the testimonial asserted, “the Church will sometimes go to the nth degree, including subjecting some priests to unwarranted psychological trauma, and a very long wait to return to active ministry, all to appease a terribly aggressive accuser.”


Ultimately, Bloomfield oversaw a settlement last December that required Opus Bono to pay $10,000 to cover the costs of the state’s investigation and forced Ferrara and Maher from their jobs at the nonprofit. The group’s entire board of directors was replaced.

Within weeks of the settlement, Bloomfield left his job at the attorney general’s office and took a job with the Catholic Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, as general counsel.

Indian city of 10 million people has to receive water by train

every day, the train sets out on a four-hour, 216-kilometer (134-mile) journey, its 50 tank cars carrying 2.5 million liters (660,000 gallons) of water drawn from a dam on the Cauvery River.


The following morning, at one of the city’s water distribution stations, Ranganathan, a longtime water truck driver in Chennai, pulls his colorfully painted vehicle underneath a big water tap, fills up his rig and begin making neighborhood deliveries. He puts in 16-hour days, with no time even to eat, he said.
*Previously: Pure water cologne from Calvin Klein.

"the [Luxor's] beam has also become a magnet for grasshoppers, which experts say could linger in Las Vegas for weeks"

the head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the Luxor Sky Beam was well known for drawing insects — almost always “a dense column of moths.”

MGM Resorts International, which owns the Luxor, declined to comment.


Mr. Knight said that in his 40 years as an entomologist, he had seen more significant outbreaks.

“We measure grasshoppers per square yard,” he said. “It’s really hard to quantify how many. It’s kind of a unique thing that happens.
*Previously: Laika is sending a food truck to serve bugs at SDCC

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Mosasaurus in resin

"The Los Angeles Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission Tuesday condemned the controversial 'Fort Apache' logo Sheriff Alex Villanueva reinstated"

The panel acted despite a surprise appearance by Villanueva. He said the logo is in places not visible to the public, like the station's back door.


Besides being printed on the station's back door, the logo is portrayed in a tiled mosaic in a central hallway, flies on a flag above the station, and appears on station walls, shirt pins and squad car bumper stickers.
The FBI is investigating a secret society of tattooed deputies in East Los Angeles as well as similar gang-like groups elsewhere within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, multiple people familiar with the inquiry said.
*Previously: Official London Olympics police mascot figurine.

Ten funny tweets

*More funny posts.

Contra figurines; The edge of the world in Red Dead; Mario Maker brings out your inner Jigsaw

"GTA Online players won’t stop killing the casino valet"

Cass Marshall for Polygon:
The Diamond Casino & Resort has been turned into an active war zone, because players are camping out and taking advantage of the influx of new players coming in to check out the new content. These rascals are setting up fields of proximity mines, sniping from a distance, or just going ahead and flying through the driveway on a rocket car that shoots missiles. It’s an absolute blood bath, but no one has it worse than the poor valet.

While players can activate Pacifist Mode to avoid damage from other players and enter the casino unscathed, others have forgotten to switch this on. That means that they’re entering a giant thresher of murder every time they roll up to gamble.


While players can easily opt out of the destruction, the valet can’t enter Pacifist Mode! He’s forced to endure an onslaught of carnage and mayhem non stop.


I’m not innocent, either. I was seduced by the siren song of seeing if he was some kind of special NPC. Was he perhaps amusing to fight in some way? Why were fans taking such joy out of attacking him? The idea that it could be just some joke, a string of cruelty done for the memes, was too much to bear. And so, I punched him. He punched me back, and it was a punch that a weak baby would throw.


Some players have noticed the valet is willing to fight back. He’s getting stronger, faster, less willing to put up with our nonsense.
*Previously: Playing GTA as a horror movie slasher.

These look like witches' towers in real life

And some more magical architecture:

*Previously: Underwater restaurant in Norway.

Wargaming miniatures roundup

*See more miniatures.