Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sea otter bones sometimes turn purple from eating sea urchins

Today's funny posts

The making of "Operation Odessa" is as absurdly improbable as the story detailed in the movie

The movie is on Netflix and is about three hustlers, including a Jewish mobster that calls himself "Tarzan," procuring increasingly more powerful Russian military vehicles for the Colombian drug cartel. (Every single word seems like a lie, but then they show you photographs...)

CBS interviewed director Tiller Russell:

"I jumped on a plane to Panama with $10,000 taped to my legs knowing I'd have to peel off bribes to get into this prison," explains Russell. "I went out to the prison -- La Joya on the outskirts of Panama City -- where Tarzan was locked up and I paid the guard $1,000 to smuggle me in."

Russell says he had to sprint across a yard full of convicts in order to get to Tarzan's cell.

"It sounded like the worst plan, but I'd come all this way," he says. "I crossed the yard and pushed the door and there was a gregarious, larger-than-life, charismatic lunatic."

Russell calls his few days in the prison "like it was out of 'Mad Max.'"


But in spite of all of his efforts, Russell says soon, Fainberg "clammed up" after Russian mobsters got wind that he was talking to a filmmaker.

"I said, 'I smuggled myself into a f**king Panamanian prison. What do you mean?' He told me to go to hell and we left on kind of bitter terms, but we stayed in touch over the years," says Russell. Russell adds that Fainberg would send him videos of prison riots or new convicts coming in with texts like, "Merry Christmas from Tarzan."

Years later, Russell says he got an email with the subject line "Jailbreak."

"When I opened it, it said, 'I busted out of prison in Panama, crossed into Costa Rica, caught a boat to Cuba, repatriated to Moscow. Let's make a movie,'" he says.

Model of electricity consumption made using 300 cards; How about a Twitter style-verified badge for your home; Lenticular Putin

Mummy in Sarcophagus paper toy; Gideon and Harrow fan art; 28 years of drawing Rogue

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Inauguration Bernie Sanders modded into Battlefront 2, Resident Evil, and more games

Chilling story about a woman that uses anonymous blogs and complaint sites like Ripoff Report to destroy the reputations of people

Kashmir Hill's latest, a story about one prolific woman, and the internet giants that encourage the behavior. Also, it features the phrase, "waterfall of maggots."

Last chance to take advantage of Last Exit to Nowhere's 20% off sale

20% off everything, ends January 31.

"100 Years of the Best American Short Stories" is $1.99 today

at Amazon:

For the centennial celebration of this annual series, The Best American Short Stories, master of the form Lorrie Moore selects forty stories from the more than two thousand that were published in previous editions. Series editor Heidi Pitlor recounts behind-the-scenes anecdotes and examines, decade by decade, the trends captured over a hundred years. Together, the stories and commentary offer an extraordinary guided tour through a century of literature with what Moore calls “all its wildnesses of character and voice.”

These forty stories represent their eras but also stand the test of time. 

Today's funny posts

This week's best Warhammer 40k miniatures (and other hobby creations)

Friday, January 29, 2021

Portraits of U.S. Presidents, modernized

From a longer thread:

Watch an ambush-style COVID19 lockdown unfold in Hong Kong

Hong Kong fourth wave: how to tell if your neighbourhood is next in line for an ‘ambush-style’ coronavirus lockdown

While the government has not issued formal guidelines for imposing such lockdowns, its messaging in the lead-up to the last two offers insight into its approach

At present, the most likely candidates for future lockdowns are parts of Jordan, Mong Kok, Hung Hom and Sham Shui Po

Today's funny posts

Adversarial fashion

"The patterns on the goods in this shop are designed to trigger Automated License Plate Readers, injecting junk data in to the systems"

From a 2019 article about the line and similar efforts:

Elsewhere at the convention, Droogie, a hacker, described a rather less successful way of testing the cybersecurity of license plates: registering a custom license plate with the California department of motor vehicles that read “NULL”, the code used in a number of common database systems used to represent an empty entry.

Unfortunately, rather than giving him the power of administrative invisibility, Droogie experienced almost exactly the opposite outcome, receiving more than $12,000 in driving tickets. Every single speeding ticket for which no valid license plate could be found was assigned to his car. The Los Angeles police department eventually scrapped the tickets but advised the hacker to change his plates, or the same problem would continue to hit him.

Forg cake; Sculpting with sticks and stones; SCP Foundation pendant

Thursday, January 28, 2021

New Star Wars Black 6" figures based on the original Kenner designs

Obi-Wan, Greedo, and Jawa available for preorder as Amazon exclusives:

Watch an ally of Navalny play the piano as the police inform her they are about to search her flat


Police in Moscow went to the flat of Anastasia Vasilyeva, head of the Russia’s Doctors Alliance trade union and a close ally of Navalny, late on Wednesday.

In a show of quiet defiance, footage of the moment shows Vasilyeva playing Beethoven on a white piano as police inform her they are about to search her flat.


In a video she made on Wednesday before being arrested, she called on people to not be afraid and take to the streets on Sunday

The photo is "a celluloid talisman against the vampire of lesbian erasure"

A few excerpts from a much longer thread:

"Upcrash. A gain so fast and rapid, that it might previously have been thought to be impossible"

A roundup from today's Gamestop news:

NatGeo describes a brand new possible explanation for the Dyatlov Pass Incident

If you're not familiar with the mystery:

the team made camp [in 1959], pitching a large tent on the snowy slopes of Kholat Saykhl, whose name can be interpreted as “Dead Mountain” in the language of the region’s Indigenous Mansi people.


 When a search team arrived at Kholat Saykhl a few weeks later, the expedition tent was found just barely sticking out of the snow, and it appeared cut open from the inside. The next day, the first of the bodies was found near a cedar tree. Over the next few months, as the snow thawed, search teams gradually uncovered more spine-chilling sights: All nine of the team members’ bodies were scattered around the mountain’s slope, some in a baffling state of undress; some of their skulls and chests had been smashed open; others had eyes missing, and one lacked a tongue.


A criminal investigation at the time blamed their deaths on an “unknown natural force,” and the Soviet bureaucracy kept the case quiet. 

As NatGeo explains, a team of scientists worked out an explanation for the deaths (and guesses for the more ghastly details):

The scientific investigation came with an added benefit from Puzrin’s wife, who is Russian. “When I told her that I was working on the Dyatlov mystery, for the first time she looked at me with real respect,” he says.


To answer that question, the scientists relied on some unorthodox sources of inspiration and information. Gaume explained how, a few years back, he was struck by how well the movement of snow was depicted in the 2013 Disney movie Frozen—so impressed, in fact, that he decided to ask its animators how they pulled it off.


Code in hand, the pair then needed realistic values for the forces and pressures the human body could experience in an avalanche. This time, their information came from the automotive industry.

“We discovered that, in the 70s, General Motors (GM) took 100 cadavers and broke their ribs,” says Puzrin, “hitting them with different weights at different velocities” to see what would happen during a car crash.

Click through for their findings. Of course...

Custom masks from Danielle Baskin's Maskalike are available to order now

 $30, can upload a photo of your own face, or get creative (click through for a discount):

Today's funny posts

3D print a Martian Tripod based on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Mollusc Martian Tripod by Mel Miniatures available for purchase:

Filming Samus cosplay; Cursed claw game; Were you one of the 2.4 million people that watched the reveal of this streamer's personalized Fortnite skin?

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Southern California city council member agreed to plead guilty to taking bribes in exchange for voting to ratify a police union’s contract


In court files unsealed Tuesday, [he] admitted that he took $37,900 in bribes from a Baldwin Park police officer in 2018. [He] was serving as the city’s mayor pro tem at the time, and the officer was working undercover for the FBI.

In return for the bribes, [he] voted in March 2018 in favor of a three-year labor contract for the Baldwin Park Police Assn. that was approved by the council and required the city to pay officers $4.4 million, the court papers say.


[He] agreed to forfeit $83,145 in cash seized by the FBI, including $62,900 that he had buried in his backyard 


He has long been a controversial figure in Baldwin Park. 

Good podcast about "The Rise of Ukraine's Azov Battalion"

A recent episode of Popular Front

We speak to journalist Michael Colborne about the rise of the Azov Battalion, a neo-fascist militia in Ukraine that now has a column of tanks and is a member of the National Guard.

Meanwhile, in Australia:

Thirty-eight members of the [a] far right [group] burnt a western Victoria on Sunday evening. Tourists and locals heard the group chanting “white power” and Nazi slogans.

From 2001, a Michael Lewis profile of the first minor ever to face SEC proceedings for stock-market fraud

From a long article by Michael Lewis for the NYT:
On Sept. 20, 2000, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled its case against a 15-year-old high-school student named Jonathan Lebed. The S.E.C.'s news release explained that Jonathan -- the first minor ever to face proceedings for stock-market fraud -- had used the Internet to promote stocks from his bedroom in the northern New Jersey suburb of Cedar Grove. Armed only with accounts at A.O.L. and E*Trade, the kid had bought stock and then, ''using multiple fictitious names,'' posted hundreds of messages on Yahoo Finance message boards recommending that stock to others. He had done this 11 times between September 1999 and February 2000, the S.E.C. said, each time triggering chaos in the stock market. 


When I first read the newspaper reports last fall, I didn't understand them. It wasn't just that I didn't understand what the kid had done wrong; I didn't understand what he had done.


Jonathan slouched in. Even that verb does not capture the mixture of sullenness and truculence with which he entered the room. He was long and thin and dressed in the prison costume of the American suburban teenager: pants too big, sneakers gaping, a pirate hoop dangling from one ear. 


he created his own Web site devoted to companies with small market capitalization -- penny stocks. The Web site came to be known as


''People who trade stocks, trade based on what they feel will move and they can trade for profit. Nobody makes investment decisions based on reading financial filings. Whether a company is making millions or losing millions, it has no impact on the price of the stock. Whether it is analysts, brokers, advisors, Internet traders, or the companies, everybody is manipulating the market. If it wasn't for everybody manipulating the market, there wouldn't be a stock market at all. . . .''

As it happens, those last two sentences stand for something like the opposite of the founding principle of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
(Yes, the article has been discussed at r/wallstreetbets.) Anyway: 

Total Recall x Super Mario x Astro Boy vinyl toy

"Super Recall" available for preorder:

Today's funny posts

Wandavision makeup; "Open Water" painting; Control mod

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A detailed discussion of whether the subreddit's manipulation of Gamestop stock is illegal

In today's newsletter, Matt Levine goes into great detail on various possible theories of prosecution. The TLDR:

I guess my answer would be that it might be illegal in all sorts of ways, but it is not obviously illegal, and if the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission were to go after WallStreetBets for this stuff they will be breaking new ground and going beyond their previous cases. I do not want to say “this stuff is all fine,” but I will say I am not all that bothered by it.

He also discusses the new Leon Black/Jeffrey Epstein revelations:

After Epstein was arrested on sex-trafficking charges and died in jail, there was quite a bit of wild speculation about where his money came from, and specifically about why billionaires were so willing to pay him so much money for somewhat vague services. After all that speculation, finding out that Leon Black paid Epstein $150 million for differentiated advice that really saved him $2 billion of taxes is in some ways the most boring possible explanation.

At the same time … what? Why was Epstein, who was not a lawyer or an accountant or a college graduate for that matter, so good at tax? I actually don’t have too much trouble believing this—in my experience, some people are just born with a natural gift for tax structuring, and need surprisingly little formal training to achieve their potential—but it is fascinating. Black would go his lawyers and say “hey my guy found this way to save a billion dollars in taxes, is it legal,” and the fancy lawyers in the Paul Weiss tax department would say “wow, sure is, this is amazing, why didn’t we think of this, this guy is a Michelangelo of tax minimization”? I don’t know, it’s just a weird niche. Also what did Black actually do to save all those taxes?

More on WallStreetBets:

Strange Academy covers

 #7 covers by Adrian Alphona and Humberto Ramos, and #6 by Sara Pichelli:

Today's funny posts

Polygon pants; Moody photo from the town that inspired Mexican Gothic; Bane in a sweater

Monday, January 25, 2021

Dutch pandemic enthusiasts burned down a COVID-19 testing center


Protesters opposed to coronavirus lockdowns in several Dutch cities clashed with police over the weekend after new restrictions went into effect.

Videos of the demonstrations posted online show large crowds of people — many not wearing masks — using bicycles to build barricades along city streets, and hurling rocks at officers and passing police vans. Shops were broken into and looted.


In the city of Urk, northeast of Amsterdam, police reported that protesters torched a COVID-19 testing center.

Today's funny posts

World's smallest park; Tiny rat playing a trumpet; Kaiju island