Monday, October 26, 2020

New 3.75 Moff Gideon with Black Saber (and other figures) available for preorder

New 3.75" modern and retro style figures available for preorder, including Moff Gideon, Greef Karga, The Armorer, and The Child.

New Humble Bundle is Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG books, including Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom for $1

 10+ books for $1.

Today's funny posts

*More funny posts.

Two year old takes his skeleton everywhere; The Void Face mask; Glam Reaper

(This is not a cute Tiktok.)

*More Halloween magic.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Special forces stormed an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight to prevent it from being hijacked by stowaways

The Guardian has the overall summary.  But Island Echo, "the Isle of Wight’s only truly independent 24-hour news source" has the play by play:

UPDATE @ 14:24 – Hampshire Constabulary have positioned an officer on observation duty at the top of Cowleaze, monitoring the vessel from afar.


The situation remains largely unchanged since the alarm was raised at around 10:30.

"NYPD officer suspended for saying 'Trump 2020' over patrol vehicle speaker"


The 34-year-old said that the energy in the neighborhood and surrounding Prospect Park shifted after the George Floyd protests over the summer and that it wasn't the first time he's witnessed police officers using their bullhorn to taunt passers by.

Meanwhile, a new flag replaces the old:

"As many as half a million" barrels of toxic waste might have been dumped off the coast of California, punctured so they'd sink better


As many as half a million of these barrels could still be underwater right now, according to interviews and a Times review of historical records, manifests and undigitized research. From 1947 to 1982, the nation’s largest manufacturer of DDT — a pesticide so powerful that it poisoned birds and fish — was based in Los Angeles.


Shipping logs show that every month in the years after World War II, thousands of barrels of acid sludge laced with this synthetic chemical were boated out to a site near Catalina and dumped into the deep ocean — so vast that, according to common wisdom at the time, it would dilute even the most dangerous poisons.

Regulators reported in the 1980s that the men in charge of getting rid of the DDT waste sometimes took shortcuts and just dumped it closer to shore. And when the barrels were too buoyant to sink on their own, one report said, the crews simply punctured them.


 In 1972, the U.S. finally banned the use of DDT.

Demand was still strong in other countries, however, so the chemical plant in Los Angeles kept churning out more.

He was supposed to be the Jacksonville Jaguars starting running back, but he's been hospitalized twice for Covid19


[He] is not expected to play again this season because of symptoms that he has suffered while battling COVID-19, league sources told ESPN.

[He] has been hospitalized twice and has suffered from a variety of complications connected to the virus, including significant respiratory issues, and has been hit harder than some expected.

Today's funny posts

*More funny posts.

Gamer AOC fan art; Blaseball personas; Developers try to protect the inclusive community of Caves of Qud

Techno-organic Warhammer 40K army

*See more miniatures.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Incredible story about wealthy parents creating entire sports leagues to try to get their kids into top colleges

Ruth S. Barrett has an eye-popping article at the Atlantic about the wild extremes wealthy parents go to get their kids into top colleges by making them appealing athletes.

The stats that explain the obsession:

Ivy League schools are top-heavy with athletic recruits. Of Princeton’s 5,300 undergraduates, approximately 930—or 17.5 percent—are recruited players; by comparison, 650—or less than 2 percent—of the University of Alabama’s 33,000 students fall into that category.

Parents pick exotic sports like squash and fencing under the theory money can be a decisive edge in those sports. One problem is too many parents had the same idea:   

Within the past decade, the number of high-school participants in U.S. Squash–accredited tournaments more than tripled, while the spots available on college teams barely budged. ... In water polo, high-school participation has risen from 36,000 to 45,000 kids over the past five years. During that same time, 21 men’s college spots were added

That problem can also be attacked with money. Convince more schools that adding the sport will be profitable:

Pre-pandemic, he was barnstorming the country, setting up meetings with the athletic directors of small, midwestern Division II and III schools. He came armed with sheaves of data on the elevated socioeconomic status of the typical high-school water-polo player, along with a rebranding campaign and a catchy new slogan: “Just add water polo.”

“I got a few bites,” Sharadin said. “They can see that these families will pay full freight. For tuition-driven schools, adding water polo can actually be a revenue increase. What’s great is that water-polo athletes tend to graduate at a much higher rate than the average college student.” 

Some schools might not be interested in supporting a sport where teams will only be filled out by wealthy students. That problem can also be attacked with money. Create an entire league for poor kids to play in:

The squash establishment is trying to fix this. The first so-called urban-squash program, SquashBusters, was founded 25 years ago in Boston, with the aim of connecting “two seemingly different worlds.” Since then, the sport has been brought to more than 20 inner-city enclaves, including New York City, Baltimore, Oakland, and Detroit—hooking up 2,500-plus public-school kids with tutoring, training, camps, travel subsidies, and scholarships. The $20 million annual budget for these programs sluices in mostly through private donations

The exotic youth sports world is so insular that parents identify the specific kids vying with their own children for limited college spots. Solution? Opposition research:

Morehouse knows of a situation in which a fencer received a “likely” letter from an Ivy. Shortly thereafter, the university’s admissions department began to get letters saying that the athlete was a bad person and had faked competition results. 

Read the article here. It's packed with wild anecdotes about parents flying their kids with world class coaches on private jets to high-priced tournaments.

A bookstore for people that like to shop in the dark; A bookstore with seemingly endless towers of books

Wuguan Books in Taiwan:
Most first-time visitors to our bookstore would come to a full stop when they first pull back the store curtain and see what is waiting for them: surprise, amazement, or perhaps confusion. With an extremely low lighting, all visitors could see are the books on the shelves.


Our carefully-designed lighting only illuminates the books and creates an illusion that they are floating in the air. A yakisugi (shou sugi ban) table can be found in the bookstore that offers ample lighting to visitors who prefer to spend more time reading their book in detail. Our floor is covered with carpets, which can absorb echoes as well as sound of footsteps. With lighting concentrating on books and other objects, visitors won’t notice the presence of other people in the store. With less person-to-person interference, visitors can choose whatever book they like to read without worrying about other people looking at them as well as focusing on reading without disruption.

Dujiangyan Zhongshuge in Chengdu, which uses a mirrored ceiling and images to make it seem the towers of books stretch to the ceiling:

View this post on Instagram

๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅSwipe left to see more So excited to introduce you our new project, zhongshuge bookstore located in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province. It's a city with more than two thousand years history. Surrounded by rivers, the city has developed water projects since ancient times. So the inspiration came from the magnificent Dujiangyan dam, you can tell that by the shape of the bookshelves, they are just like a super city wall built with historical culture. By creating end scenery and using the technique of architecture, we move the magnificent spirit of mountains and rivers into the indoor space, presents readers with elegant and powerful artistic landscape, and also expresses the awe to nature. #xlivingart #interiordesigns #bookstores Location: Sichuan, China Completion time: 2020.9 Project area: 973㎡ Photographer: Shao Feng

A post shared by Li Xiang | X+LIVING (@xlivingart) on

View this post on Instagram

Just find this video made by my colleague very interesting. She said many people associated the space with the magical world. I didn't check every comment in various platforms(there are literally too many) but here are some responses to a few questions that I noticed frequently raised by people. The magic feeling of the space comes from the structure of the bookshelf and the reflection of the mirror ceiling. The books on top of bookshelf are actually decoration, but all the books within the reach of readers are readable. The whole store has a collection of more than 80 thousand books in more than 20 thousand categories, which can fully meet the operation and storage needs of the bookstore.#xlivingart #bookstores #interiordesigns

A post shared by Li Xiang | X+LIVING (@xlivingart) on

Psychotherapy clinic in Finland was hacked, and the blackmailers have been posting patient names, addresses, and content of the therapy sessions


The privately-run psychotherapy centre Vastamo announced that sensitive information about its clients was leaked after its database was recently hacked, according to a company release issued on Wednesday.

... [The company's chairman] did not reveal the amount of personal data that was leaked, nor when the centre's database was hacked.


Tabloid paper Ilta-Sanomat was first to report on the matter. The publication said it had seen what it described as personal information about patients posted online, including sensitive data including their names.

"As a company that provides psychotherapy services, the confidentiality of customer information is extremely important to us


Extortionists demanded around 450,000 euros (in bitcoins) in exchange for not publishing the clinical and mental health data of thousands of people.

The criminals started to publish the data of 100 people every day in the encrypted web Tor two days ago.


The information published could not be more sensitive: it included the patient's name, personal identification number, telephone number, email address and residence address, together with the content of the therapy sessions.


It seemed like the nightmare was over, but it was just a mirage. The website of the extortionists who have kidnapped and published the personal and mental health data of hundreds of customers of the Vastaamo psychotherapy center has reappeared on the encrypted Tor network.

In the morning, the website disappeared from Tor for a few hours. That sparked rumors about a possible payment by the company of the 450,000 euro ransom (in bitcoins) demanded by criminals to stop their activity.

However, the website reappeared in the afternoon.

Snake-Eyes by Threezero and S.H.Figuarts Gamora available for preorder

Five grenades, two swords, one knife, and an Uzi.

Also, the S.H.Figuarts Gamora just went up for preorder, Comes with Star Lord's blaster, twisted by Thanos, to fire bubbles:

A UAE police chief is reportedly a frontrunner to be head of Interpol

Middle East Eye:

The sad fact is that Interpol has never been as agreeable an organisation as its public image sometimes suggests. From the late 1930s to 1945, it fell under the control of Adolf Hitler, and for many decades thereafter it reportedly refused to help track down Nazi war criminals on the grounds that it did not get involved in “political” crimes. 


Its former president, Jackie Selebi, was found guilty of taking bribes from a drug trafficker in 2010.

Another former president, Meng Hongwei, vanished in September 2018 before reappearing in his native China, where he was eventually sentenced to 13 years for accepting bribes. Critics say the charges against Hongwei are politically motivated.

Most worrying, however, is the mounting evidence that Interpol’s channels are happy to assist some of the world’s most vicious regimes as they target internal dissidents. This is often carried out using what is called a red notice, which allows member states to request the arrest of alleged criminals who have fled abroad.

There are many harrowing examples of misuse of the red notice system. Last year, I wrote in MEE about the terrible case of three former members of the Egyptian opposition who had been subject to red notices after fleeing Egypt in the wake of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s military coup. 

Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was detained on the basis of a red notice in Thailand last year, despite having been granted refugee status by Australia.

Today's funny posts

*More funny posts.

Reigning national champion LSU self-imposed some penalties after a booster embezzled from a children's hospital

The school is hoping the mild self-inflicted sanctions will satisfy the NCAA. Violations that have been revealed include an LSU booster that embezzled from a children's hospital and used the money to pay a player's father; an alumni that handed cash to players on camera in a manner so cartoonishly blatant that the school initially said the bills were not real money; and a coach that's been accused of arranging payments to 11 different players

Thor vs. Aliens is cool but depressing; A Nightmare on Elm Street manga adaptation; The Dark Art of Pricing artwork