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Updated 2018-10-19 11:22
Instagram's bullying, stalking, and harassment crisis
Twitter gets well-deserved attention for online harassment, but know who else has a huge problem there? Instagram. Big time.“Instagram Has a Massive Harassment Problem,’ as Taylor Lorenz reports for the Atlantic. “The social network cast itself as the internet’s kindest place. But users argue harassment is rampant, and employees say efforts to stem it aren’t funded well or prioritized.”Says one unfortunate and prominent young IG personality, “Instagram is the No. 1 platform that I experience hate on.” The piece goes into the numbers, it's a big thing that affects a lot of young people. One gets the impression that harassment wasn't something Instagram's designers considered, or hired professionals qualified to help them consider. And that design oversight is biting them and all their users in the butt.Excerpt:Last week, Instagram announced a set of new features to limit bullying and “spread kindness,” including comment filters on live videos, a “kindness camera effect to spread positivity,” and the deployment of machine-learning technology to better detect bullying in photos.When approached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson referred me to Instagram’s communications team. Instagram declined to speak on the record about many of the particulars of its anti-harassment efforts.“We want people to come to Instagram and have a positive experience—to make friends, find interests, and do all the things that make Instagram such a positive place,” Newton wrote in an October statement to The Atlantic. “Bullying and harassment are completely counter to the experience we work to create. Read the rest
Watch: Gentleman pees on production line while working at world's largest pork company
A worker at Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork company, didn't waste any time on the production line to take a potty break. While working at a conveyor belt loaded with pork, the adroit gentleman swiftly takes off his gloves, leans over, relieves himself, and then puts his gloves back on, all without missing much more than a beat or so. The company, which had to shut down the plant to sanitize the equipment and toss out 50,000 pounds of meat, did not appreciate the employee's time-saving skills. He's been suspended for now.Here's the story on WAVY TV 10:Via Business Insider Read the rest
Child goes through X-ray baggage scanner
A child reportedly rode through an X-ray baggage scanner last week at the Xiaolan Railway Station in South China. According to the state-owned China Global Television Network, the young'n snuck away from his father and hopped onto the conveyor belt. Apparently he is fine. As you'll recall, earlier this year a woman in Dongguan, China rode through an X-ray machine to keep an eye on her handbag. Read the rest
Helm: A home network email server appliance to redecentralize the web
Helm is a startup making a $500 home gadget that replaces Gmail and Google Calendar, letting you control your own email and coordination; its founders have deep information security backgrounds, and plan to make money by charging an annual $100 management fee.The company's roadmap includes networked storage, comparable to dropbox or Google Drive, VPNs, password managers, and other services that currently live in the cloud.The company has a centralized point-of-failure in the form of a gateway, though the data is end-to-end encrypted. One of the company's co-founders says the code to maintain service will be open and free "for people to be able to run their own gateways with their own AWS account in the event Helm has to shut down."That said, parts of the system seem to be proprietary and not open to inspection by third parties. What's more, users will have to rely on the largesse of their ISPs, who have celebrated the death of Net Neutrality by engaging in all manner of fuckery that might endanger schemes like this. The proprietary software is a dealbreaker for me (I live in email and my whole email server stack is open), but I'm nevertheless hopeful and glad to see Helm entering the market, selling on the basis of taking control over your data. Building up constituencies who experience daily benefits from decentralization and a neutral internet is a good thing, both for the health of the net, and for the future of network policy. People who rely on decentralization and neutrality will be less tolerant of monopolies and network discrimination, making it easier to demand better policy from our governments. Read the rest
Book of brutalist archictecture postcards from the Soviet era
Brutal Block Postcards is a new book that, er, celebrates the concrete landscape of the Soviet era. Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix flips through the pages:Many of these postcards, published by governments of the U.S.S.R. between the 1960s and 1980s, depict the bland, 1960s five-story concrete-paneled apartments known as “khrushchyovka” as if to say, “Look at the modern wonder of collective worker housing!” To Westerners, the boxy buildings telegraph the bleak authority of so-called poured-concrete “Brutalist” architecture, which was somehow popular with both democratic and totalitarian governments during the postwar years.However, in Brutal Bloc Postcards, the images of stern rectilinear apartments, government offices, and hotels stand in stark contrast to the dramatic public monuments. These Cold War-era monuments are epic in scale, towering over the Soviet landscape; their angular, avant-garde forms convey movement, as if hurtling toward brighter future through Communism."Postcards From Big Brother" (Collectors Weekly)Brutal Blog Postcards: Soviet Era Postcards from the Eastern Bloc (Amazon) Read the rest
Wild Thing podcast is like Serial but about Bigfoot
Several years ago, radio journalist Laura Krantz read an article about anthropology professor and pioneering Bigfoot researcher Grover Krantz who died in 2002. Laura was surprised to find out that Grover was her grandfather's cousin. Her interest sparked, she began her own cryptozoological quest. The result is Wild Thing, a fantastic podcast about Bigfoot researchers, Sasquatch and science, legend and myth, pop culture, and other fascinating threads. From the Los Angeles Times:Krantz, a self-identified skeptic, says she approached the story from a scientific standpoint like Grover would. For instance, she opted not to talk to people who thought Bigfoot was brought to Earth by aliens or had the ability to move through different dimensions of space and time. Instead, she delves into topics such as evolution, e.g. where Bigfoot would fit on the tree of life. Ultimately, it was the steady stream of wildlife biologists and seasoned outdoorsmen recounting their own Bigfoot sightings that moved the believability needle for Krantz...The nine central story episodes of “Wild Thing” will be supplemented with intermittent bonus installments, which include in-depth conversations with writer Virginia Wade, who — at her peak — made about $20,000 a month writing Bigfoot erotica, says Krantz. She also talks with William Dear, writer and director of feel-good family flick, “Harry and the Hendersons.” Krantz traveled to Northern California for the 50th anniversary of the quintessential Patterson-Gimlin film, in which grainy imagery captures an up-close Bigfoot sighting that’s long been the source of debate. She also headed back to Los Angeles to speak with experts about the psychology of belief and the “business of Bigfoot” — like why companies use its name and imagery for branding. Read the rest
Brad Pitt tells all, Prince Charles divorces, and JonBenet Ramsey’s murder solved, in this week’s fact-challenged tabloids
It would be an exaggeration to say that every story in this week’s tawdry tabloids is a fabrication. It just feels that way. And "exaggeration" would be the polite way to describe many of this week’s tabloid offerings.Murdered infant pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey’s brother “Burke Solves JonBenet Case!” screams the National Enquirer cover. No, he doesn’t. He simply says, for the umpteenth time, that it wasn’t him.“Camilla Divorces Charles on his 70th Birthday!” proclaims the Globe front page. No, she hasn’t. Charles’ wife reportedly screamed that she will “never forgive” the Royal heir for “throwing her in psycho ward.” Since she was never put in a psych ward in the first place, perhaps her inability to forgive is understandable.Brad Pitt’s “Divorce Tell-All!” under the front page headline “Exclusive Interview” might be more plausible if they even pretended to have spoken with Pitt. Can you have a “tell-all” when you don’t speak to the man in question? Instead, the Enquirer claims to have interviewed a “family friend” who offers unsubstantiated speculation that Pitt would have been happier staying with first wife Jennifer Aniston because she was “normal” and “cute.” Normal like any other actress earning $1 million a week when they wed? Can’t argue with that.The Globe adds to Pitt’s pity party by reporting: “Brad Dumps Jen Again!” Only one minor quibble: Pitt and Aniston have not been dating again, so dumping her again is just a tabloid dream.Royal mom-to-be Meghan Markle AKA the Duchess of Sussex dominates the covers of both People and Us magazines, with predictably gushing over-excitement at her pregnancy announcement. Read the rest
Right-wing group camped out on rooftop with stockpile of weapons at Portland rally, and police kept quiet
On August 4th, during a major gun rights demonstration in Portland, OR, a right-wing group with a stockpile of weapons was stationed on the rooftop of a garage, overlooking the rally. The individuals, whose arsenal included long guns, were affiliated with the far right group Patriot Prayer. The Portland police discovered the armed group and took their weapons, but did not arrest them. They later gave the guns back to the group. The officers withheld this information from everyone outside the police department, including the mayor. It was only on Monday, over two months later, that this news finally came out.According to The Oregonian:That shocking revelation came Monday as Portland officials scrambled to find a way to end the repeated violent clashes between dueling political factions downtown...Asked why the public was not told of the incident sooner, Chief Danielle Outlaw said, "Hindsight is always perfect." Outlaw said the Police Bureau warns the public that protesters may be armed. Both right- and left-wing demonstrators have come to Portland protests armed, she said.Image: by U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol/Public Domain Read the rest
A dating website for Trump supporters leaked its customers' data ON DAY ONE
Donalddaters.com is an app for people who want to have sex with white supremacists; it launched today and promptly leaked all 1600 of its users' data: "users' names, profile pictures, device type, their private messages — and access tokens, which can be used to take over accounts."The data was accessible from a public and exposed Firebase data repository, which was hardcoded in the app. Shortly after TechCrunch contacted the app maker, the data was pulled offline.Donald Daters, a dating app for Trump supporters, leaked its users’ data [Zack Whittaker/Techcrunch] Read the rest
DNA test shows Elizabeth Warren has Native American ancestry
Trump always gets a laugh from his very fine deplorables when he calls Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.” A recent DNA test revealed that Warren has Native American ancestry. "The analysis of Warren’s DNA was reportedly done by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor, and shows that she had a Native American in her family tree dating back six to 10 generations," reports the Daily Beast.While it won't make a speck of difference to Trump and his tribe, everyone else on the planet will see these people for who they are - unapologetic racists.Image: Shutterstock Read the rest
Trump supporter berates black Lyft driver with racial slurs and calls cops because he wouldn't put the radio on
A great night for a Trump supporter in Brooklyn: hail a Lyft, demand the radio be put on, then harass the driver with the N-word while calling the police.Lyft driver Shawn Pepas Lettman of Brooklyn, N.Y., calmly filmed the 16-minute tirade by passenger Robert Ortiz and his two friends, who called the New York City police after Lettman refused to turn on the radio. “I feel racially profiled … because I’m not black,” Ortiz tells the 911 operator. He later adds, “If this guy does anything to threaten my life, I have to defend myself. … I’m a little fearful.”It's very much a thing of the moment: blithely calling the police to threaten the black dude you're slinging racial slurs at, all the while slathering everything with free-ranging sociopathic drivel talk that pinballs between giggling insincerity, "wait till the police get here" rage, and constant amateur-lawyer bullshit. Driver Shaun Pepas: When my mother died she taught me a very important lesson, which was always useful but more now than ever. She taught patience, humble and calm will get you through anything. As a father of 2 my single means of providing for my wife and children is driving a rideshare, accommodating people from all walks of life, All of which i treat with the utmost respect, after all I must provide for my family.There's something about his expression here that I'll remember for a long time. Read the rest
Japan has made instant ramen that tastes like Pringles
Here's something nobody asked for: Pringles-flavored instant ramen noodles**. Geekologie:To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pringles and the 30th anniversary of Super Cup, the two are combining their brands Voltron-style to release two new flavors of Super Cup ramen noodles (Sour Cream and Onion and Jalapeno and Onion) and two new flavors of Pringles chips (Chicken Bone Soy Sauce and Squid Fried Noodles). A 10-pack of this special ramen costs $24, just a bit more than ordinary instant noodle cups (shipping is $28 though). Available for preorder now through Japan Trend Shop.**Now, this is not to be confused with ramen-flavored Pringles. That's a whole different junk food beast.(Foodiggity) Read the rest
Trump aide Stephen Miller was a creepy glue-eating kid in 3rd grade, says former teacher
“I can still picture him sitting in my classroom.”Stephen Miller's former teacher, who told reporters how President Donald Trump's senior aide once ate glue as a third-grader, may be losing her job.Nikki Fiske has been placed on “home assignment” by the The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, while her bosses decide whether her disclosure of details about li'l Stephen Miller as a creepy kid merit her termination.In 1993, Donald Trump's senior political adviser attended Santa  Monica's Franklin  Elementary, where he was "off by himself all the time." Miller, now 33, was a student in Fiske's classroom.“Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8,” Fiske told a reporter, in an article posted Wednesday by Hollywood Reporter. “I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there.”Stephen Miller had a thing with glue, she explained.“He would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it,” she said. “He was a strange dude.”Excerpt:I remember being concerned about him — not academically. He was OK with that, though I could never read his handwriting. But he had such strange personal habits. He was a loner and isolated and off by himself all the time.At the end of the year, I wrote all my concerns — and I had a lot of them — in his school record. Read the rest
Arnold Schwarzenegger admits mistreating women: "I stepped over the line several times"
Actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger was long ago accused of groping and humiliating women, but he always denied it. He now admits that he "stepped over the line". "I feel bad about it, and I apologize. When I became governor, I wanted to make sure that no one, including me, ever makes this mistake," he recently told Men's Health. "That's why we took sexual-harassment courses, to have a clear understanding, from a legal point of view and also from a regular behavior point of view, of what is accepted and what is not."Perhaps the point is to demonstrate that unforced confessions won't actually harm any of the men who offer them. Read the rest
EFF to Texas AG: Epson is screwing Texans
You remember when HP tricked its users into downgrading their printers by sending them a fake "security update" that actually made the printers refuse third-party and refilled ink cartridges?Well, now it's Epson's turn. The company's fake software update screwed over owners of many printer models, deceptively reconfiguring their printers so that they could no longer use third-party ink.This violates all kinds of state laws, including the laws of Texas, where an Electronic Frontier Foundation supporter lives; when he tipped us off about the Epson scam, we complained to the Texas Attorney General on his behalf.If you got shafted by Epson and you're in the USA, we want to hear from you, too.With these shenanigans, Epson and HP aren't just engaged in a garden-variety ripoff. Teaching Internet users to mistrust software updates is a dangerous business. In recent years, some of the Internet's most important services have been brought to their knees by malicious software running on compromised home devices. Compromises to your home devices don't just endanger the public Internet, either: once your printer is infected, it can be turned against you, used to steal data from the documents you print, to probe the devices on your local network, and to attack those devices and send the data stolen from them to a criminal's computer.It's bad enough that Epson and HP have pursued their profits through these deceptive and illegitimate means, but what's even worse is that in so doing, they have actively poisoned the cybersecurity well. Read the rest
Aw, shit: New York's McNally Jackson Books is closing its Nolita store
New York City's amazing McNally Jackson Books is closing its flagship bookstore on Prince Street in Nolita; the store is a neighborhood fixture and a hub of literary events (I've appeared there); they also sport a cafe and a book-printing machine.I visit McNally Jackson every time I'm in New York. It's one of my favorite bookstores in the world. When I needed to print and bike-messenger a copy of my novel Walkaway and get it to Ben Wizner at the ACLU in time for him to hand-deliver it to Edward Snowden on a trip to Moscow, it was McNally Jackson that printed the book and handed it off to a bike messenger.20% of New York City's retail space is empty: greedy landlords have kicked off a retail death-spiral that has left one of the world's great cities in tatters, with storefronts occupied by popups, Duane Reeds, Citibanks, or nothing. McNally Jackson still has another location in Williamsburg. I wish them all the best with it and most sincere condolences on the loss of one of New York City's last great independent bookstores.A tipster alerted us to the Winick leasing banners that were affixed to the facade of 50 Prince Street (at Mulberry) yesterday evening. Following the trail online, the brokerage is now pitching the 5,700 square-foot space for July 2019 possession (sub-divisions considered). No word just yet on the monthly rent, an increase of which is reportedly what forced McNally Jackson from the neighborhood.McNally Jackson Bookstore is Leaving Prince Street After 14 Years [Bowery Boogie](via Kottke) Read the rest
New York's luxury real-estate market is crashing
New York is a great city that has been hollowed out by real-estate speculation, where the conversion of housing to safe-deposit boxes in the sky has pushed out the city's people and the city's businesses, who can't compete with financiers and oligarchs who value property as an investment, rather than as part of the fabric of a city.But there's a paradox here: New York real estate is valuable because of the people who want to live there because of the vibrancy of the city -- but as the city is choked off from real activity, the value of the real-estate begins to fall. And once the fall starts, it accelerates: as with all bubbles, a crisis of faith in the market precipitates a panicked sell-off, which deepens the crisis.That dynamic is playing out in New York today: September 2018 sales volume is down 39% from September 2017, with prices dropping by 9%; for every ten $10m+ home on the market, one sells (the ration is actually probably worse -- developers are keeping "ghost inventory" off the books to make the figures look better). There is a ton of super-lux property about to enter the market: 9 skyscrapers this year, and 20 more by 2020.Garrett Derderian of Stribling thinks the real number is more like 1:15, since, he claims, developers have been lowballing their supply numbers, mindful that a full picture will send prices falling further. “They are holding back homes that they would otherwise be actively marketing, and which would therefore show up in inventory figures,” he says. Read the rest
NASA-inspired artist Tom Sachs' new Mars Yard sneaker for Nike
Sculptor/filmmaker/installation artist Tom Sachs, perhaps best known for his incredible recreations/reimaginations of NASA missions in gallery spaces, has revealed his next sneaker designed in collaboration with Nike. According to Hypebeast, "the Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard Overshoe is slated to release at DSM London on Oct. 11 and roll out with a global release in the future, at a retail price of £390 (around $511 USD)." From an interview in Vogue:As an artist and collaborator of many other artists and companies, what appeals to you about collaborating with Nike?There’s a huge community with Nike, and I think probably the biggest thing that inspires me is that we have these shared ideals of: work first. It’s not just about winning the marathon, it’s about training for it. It’s not about finishing the sculpture, it’s the act of making things. For me, the advantage of being in the studio is I can make something one at a time, 19th-century-style. Nike doesn’t have that advantage, but has the ability to build thousands of products. As a result you have to make different kinds of decisions, and that process is very inspiring and challenging for me. I only do things that are interesting and keep me on my toes . . . . It’s a really major achievement, the shoe. I’m very, very proud of it. It’s something that I started working on in 2007 and just came to life this year. It’s something I didn’t know for sure if it was ever going really happen. Read the rest
Super Mario Bros accompanied by a live big band!
The 8-Bit Big Band is a jazz/pops orchestra that performs video game music. In this video, they're accompanying "Be More Chill" actor George Salazar as he plays through first two worlds of Super Mario Bros. "All sound FX performed live on drum pads!" Read the rest
Woman kicked off plane for bringing her emotional support squirrel
Frontier Airlines thought the idea of an emotional support squirrel was nutty, so they asked the woman who'd brought a bright eyed and bushy tailed companion on board a flight bound for Cleveland to vacate. She refused, so Frontier made all the other passengers deplane so police could escort human and rodent off the plane. The crowd of deplaned passengers jeered and clapped as she was escorted out of the boarding area.From the Daily Beast:As the woman was taken away in a wheelchair, she gave the middle finger to jeering passengers, footage posted on Twitter shows. The flight eventually took off without the woman and her squirrel, but with a two-hour delay. Frontier—which, notably, has at least one plane with a squirrel on its tail—currently forbids “unusual or exotic animals including but not limited to rodents, reptiles, insects, hedgehogs, rabbits, sugar gliders, non-household birds or improperly cleaned and/or animals with foul odor,” and will only allow cats and dogs after a policy change on Nov. 1. It is unclear if the woman will face charges. i just want everyone to know that all passengers had to deplane my flight to cleveland because a woman brought a SQUIRREL ON THE PLANE pic.twitter.com/TAdzUuKRWe— Julia Papesch (@julia_papesch) October 10, 2018pic.twitter.com/Z7S69Z7TrK— Julia Papesch (@julia_papesch) October 10, 2018Image: Twitter Read the rest
Fun science video: experimenting with a Tesla coil
Is wireless power possible, and did Nikolai Tesla make a tower that could transmit a useful amount of electrical power wirelessly? In this video, the Action Lab Man conducts demonstrations with a Tesla Coil to answer these questions.Image: Action Lab Read the rest
How to cook and eat a gourmet meal in Antarctica
Very quickly. Before it, and you, freeze.On Cyprien Verseux's Twitter account, wonderful snapshots of fun with food on the bleak, frozen ice sheets of Antarctica.Cyprien Verseux is an astrobiologist, and currently the head of Concordia station in Antarctica. When he decides to have lunch outdoors, it's not like you or me having lunch outdoors. Where he is, it's -94ºF / -70ºC. Swiss raclette, spaghetti, nutella, you name it. He pulls it off. Everything is possible with hunger, determination, and the right fuel.Below, some of the fun photos from his adventures.[via] Read the rest
Man under suspicion for babysitting while black
A black man babysitting two white children was followed by a white woman for nearly an hour. She called the police to report the man for being black while babysitting. The police stopped the man, questioned the kids, then called the kids' parents, who told the police officer that the black man was indeed babysitting their kids.From CBC 46:The officer questioned the 10-year-old and the 6-year-old before calling their parents.[Parents] David Parker and Dana Mango were in disbelief.“I said are you saying that because there’s an African American male driving my two white kids, that he was stopped and pulled over and questioned and he said, 'I’m sorry ma’am that’s exactly what I’m saying,'” Dana Mango told CBS46.The East Cobb couple arranged for Lewis to babysit their children weeks ago.Image: CBS 46 Read the rest
French spy used darknet to sell access to national mass-surveillance databases
A cop working for the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (the French national domestic surveillance agency) used the darknet marketplace Black Hand to sell access to France's prodigious national surveillance apparatus to criminals: give him a phone number and he'd track its location; give him a name and he'd tell you whether that person was under police investigation and disclose the contents of the associated files; he'd also sell you everything you needed to forge papers and other official documents (he took payment in Bitcoin).The cop, who used the online handle Haurus, was caught when Black Hand was raided and seized last June. He was arrested on September 28 and faces a seven year prison sentence and fines up to €100,000.The amazing thing about this is how predictable it was. Think of how easy it is to believe in the detective novel character who jots down a license plate and says, "I'll get a friend on the force to run this for me later." Beat cops, officers, and feds are just as flawed as anyone else, and the history of police corruption tells us that the first line of defense against this kind of leak is not to collect the data in the first place.Of course, the situation in the USA is even worse.French authorities also say the officer advertised a service to track the location of mobile devices based on a supplied phone number. He advertised the system as a way to track spouses or members of competing criminal gangs. Read the rest
RIP, Google+: long ailing and finished off by a security bug
There was a time when you could get the smartest people at Google to do the stupidest things you could imagine by getting Yahoo to do them first; thankfully that era ended -- only to be replaced by an era in which every stupid thing Facebook did became a bucket-list item for Google management.The peak of this was when Google set out to create a social network and tasked every googler with making it a success. The company decided to call this network Google+, and decided that the longstanding, widely used plus-sign (which historically was used in search queries to mean "must have" as in +cory +doctorow) would be unilaterally repurposed for use in its social network.Googlers' bonuses were tied to their ability to integrate Google+ into every product Google offered, creating an ever-tightening noose around Google users who had no interest in using G+.To make matters worse, Google decided to ape Facebook's privacy-invading, nonsensical "real names" policy, insisting that every user use their legal name and putting Google in the unenviable position of deciding (for example) when a trans person could stop using their deadname, or when an indigenous person's name was "real" enough for use, or when people fleeing domestic violence could use an alias.By the time Google+ rolled out, there was already nascent discontent with Facebook. Google+ offered all the downsides of Facebook, but with fewer of the people you wanted to connect with.Years later, G+ is a sad also-ran. What's more, the company just discovered an extremely grave bug in the system - -- that would have allowed for serious privacy violations. Read the rest
Officials probe mysterious origin of Nazi symbol on fired cop's flashlight
SS runes were found carved on the service flashlight of a cop fired after repeatedly punching a handcuffed black man, and everyone is scrambling to solve the mystery of how it got there.After Leroy Hair was fired, a police-issued flashlight carved with a racist Nazi symbol and the words “The Wig Splitter” was found in his car, but he denies owning it.Hair eventually was arrested and accused of using excessive force against the man in 2016, but a judge acquitted him at a trial that bore no mention of the flashlight. He was never accused of using the flashlight, though another officer had used one to hit the unruly man earlier in the confrontation.Hair is suing his former employers, claiming that the beating of James Terry was a group effort and the flashlight was a device used to blame him exclusively. Magistrate Amy Mikell's acquitting him shows it, his lawyers claim. Terry won a $250,000 settlement over the injuries he received.The city has not determined who was responsible for the Nazi insignia, she said. A police spokesman declined to comment, referring questions to attorneys. “We didn’t try to hide it,” Cleveland said of the flashlight. “We don’t condone it."Good to hear that the city of North Charleston doesn't expressly condone beating handcuffed black men with metal flashlights inscribed with Nazi runes. Read the rest
Facebook to offer wide-angle videocall camera that tracks you as you move around your home
To celebrate the leaking of 50 million user accounts last week, Facebook is today launching two "video call machines" that "automatically zoom in on users and follow them as they move." You'll be putting them in your homes, so you can watch Facebook while Facebook watches you. The BBC's Leo Kelion:The Portal products automatically zoom in on users and follow them as they move, to offer a superior experience to existing smartphone and tablet apps. The devices rely on Facebook Messenger to make and receive calls and also feature Amazon's Alexa smart assistant. ...Both of the Portals are designed to be used from a distance of between 5ft to 10ft (1.5m to 3m) - further than video calls are typically made from using smartphones and other computers.They use a 140-degree 12 megapixel camera to capture a relatively wide field-of-view, providing scope for on-device software to zoom in and track the users' movements.The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes:The first hardware products marketed under the Facebook brand, the Portals can be used to call other Portal users, or anyone who has Facebook or Facebook Messenger. The Portals can play music through Spotify and Pandora, or stream video from Facebook Watch, but these are intentionally limited devices. For better and for worse, you can’t even browse Facebook.It's funny that thay launched it despite the ongoing fallout from the privacy breach, but they don't need to worry about it. The target audience for this product doesn't understand privacy issues or doesn't care about them. Read the rest
Voyager 2 spaceprobe may be on the verge of interstellar space
NASA's Voyager 2 space probe, launched in 1977 on a grand tour of the solar system, may be nearing interstellar space. Carrying a message for extraterrestrials, the iconic Golden Record, the Voyager 2 is now about 11 billion miles (about 17.7 billion kilometers) from Earth and still sends data back daily from its various sensors. Most recently, it has detected an increase in higher-energy cosmic rays that originate outside our solar system. This increase in the rate of cosmic rays indicates that the Voyager 2 may soon break through the heliosphere, the "bubble" of charged particles generated by our sun, and cross into interstellar space. Voyager 1 entered interstellar space in 2012. From the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:The fact that Voyager 2 may be approaching the heliopause six years after Voyager 1 is also relevant, because the heliopause moves inward and outward during the Sun's 11-year activity cycle. Solar activity refers to emissions from the Sun, including solar flares and eruptions of material called coronal mass ejections. During the 11-year solar cycle, the Sun reaches both a maximum and a minimum level of activity."We're seeing a change in the environment around Voyager 2, there's no doubt about that," said Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone, based at Caltech in Pasadena. "We're going to learn a lot in the coming months, but we still don't know when we'll reach the heliopause. We're not there yet -- that's one thing I can say with confidence."In a decade or so, Voyager 1 and 2 will run out of power and go silent. Read the rest
Another article about the revolting condition of San Francisco's streets
The New York Times marvels at the absolute squalor on San Francisco's streets near fabulously prosperous tech companies in the Tenderloin. “It’s like the land of the living dead,” said Adam Leising, a resident of Hyde Street.We met Mr. Leising late one evening after he had finished a shift as a server at a restaurant. As we toured the neighborhood, past a man crumpled on the ground next to empty beer bottles and trash, Mr. Leising told us that the daily glimpses of desperation brought him to the brink of depression.“We are the most advanced country in the world,” Mr. Leising said. “And that’s what people are having to live with here.”It's not that San Franciscans want to play hopscotch with human poop, it's just that the thing that would get rid of it—the homeless infrastructure you get in east-coast cities—is such a fundamental challenge to the local mythology that you may as well ask them to lick it off the pavement. They have 4,400 homepess people, but adding just 1000 shelter beds to the 2000 currently available is talked about in this vaguely negative way that becomes more nebulous the more you try and make sense of it. So instead there are portapotties and cleaning crews: things that are almost as expensive, but which obviously don't work.Photo: cropped from Jim Wilson/The New York Times Read the rest
How to get all your stuff out of Facebook before deleting it
Ronald Langeveld has had enough, but realized you have to do more than simply quit: you gotta get years of your stuff out, too. He posted instructions on exfiltrating all your photos, comments and posts before ridding yourself of Facebook.1) Log into Facebook. Don't look at any of the cancerous content on your feed and go directly into settings.2) Click on "Your Facebook Information"3) Click on "download your information".4) Now you've got a whole lot of optionsIt's heartening to see people scrambling out of the dopamine trough, but the truth is we mostly fall back in. Drug-addiction metaphors are strained; gambling seems the better analogy. Read the rest
Got designs on a design career? Learn the ropes quick.
Whether you're designing for print or digital, a modern career in graphic design requires more than just an eye for a decent font. Professionals in this fast-growing, artistic field need to be just as nimble with the latest software as any tech worker. If you want to learn graphic design, The Complete Learn To Design Bundle teaches all the relevant tools in one comprehensive series.In this eight-course bundle, you'll tackle and master all the essential Adobe programs — inDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator CC — and move on to apply those layouts with tutorials in the essentials of web design and development. You'll be able to create innovative user interfaces with Sketch, SVG web animations and build websites top-down with Bootstrap 4. In short, it'll check all the boxes on a complete designer's resume.That's more than 60 hours of training for $39. Pick up The Complete Learn To Design Bundle and get creating. Read the rest
How cable TV news reports on viral videos
I hope that Gus Johnson's deconstruction of how cable TV news covers viral videos will itself be reported upon in this style by cable TV news.Take any excuse to watch Charlie Brooker's deconsctruction of a similar TV news segment formula from the UK:Have you ever wondered Why Do Reporters Talk Like That? It's the modern version of the classic unplaceable elite accent. The superficial qualities change with time and locale, but the underlying focus on structural clarity, cadence and diction are timeless and international. Read the rest
Young Brett Kavanaugh: The Supreme Court Years
Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH 53-year-old good boy Brett Kavanaugh finds out that his past drinkin' and assaultin' might unfairly keep him from getting exactly what he wants.
Astrohaus' Freewrite Traveler might not be ideal for every writer, but maybe you'll dig it
Our Jason Weisberger isn't a huge fan of the Freewrite that he bought a few years back. Others feel differently about the pricey mechanical keyboard and E Ink display-equipped focused writing slab. From the looks of things, enough people dig it that the device's parent company, Astrohaus, felt that it was time to release a more portable version. Enter the Freewrite Traveler.Weighing in at just under 30 ounces, the Freewrite Traveler is a lightweight E Ink writing machine with a folding display, which'll take up a whole lot less room in a Scrivener's bag than Astrohaus' original typing slab did.From The Verge:The Traveler weighs 1.8 pounds compared the original’s four pounds, which can partially be attributed to a change in keyboards. The Freewrite features a full-size mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown keyswitches. The Traveler includes a thinner scissor-switch keyboard, which might be less enticing to some die-hard mechanical keyboard users, but it also had to be swapped out to make the Traveler lighter and thinner. The new device keeps the original 6-inch E Ink display, and it still charges over USB-C. Astrohaus says the Traveler battery should last for around 30 hours. It’ll cost $269 with early bird discounts on Indiegogo, and it will eventually retail for around $599. It comes in one colorway: a white interior and black exterior.Unfortunately, while the hardware might be a great step forward from a portability standpoint, the Freewrite Traveler still suffers from some of the same needless bullshit that users of its older sibling have been forced to suffer. Read the rest
Disco cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" from 1979
In 1979, jazz flautist Herbie Mann's album Yellow Fever featured this disco cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side." As Lou once advised, "Pervert your sense of decorum."(via Weird Universe) Read the rest
Jeff Flake: Kavanaugh's tone was "sharp and partisan," and "we can't have this on the Court. We simply can't."
Senator Jeff Flake doesn't look like he's convinced yet on whether or not Brett Kavanaugh is fit for the Supreme Court. At the The Atlantic festival in Washington D.C. today, he said he was "very troubled by the tone of the remarks" made by Kavanaugh last week during his hearing. “I hope I would sound that indignant if I was unjustly maligned,” he said, “but then it went on. And the interaction with the members was sharp and partisan and that concerns me,” Flake said. "And I tell myself you give a little leeway because of what he's been through. But, on the other hand, we can't have this on the Court. We simply can't." Via Daily Beast Read the rest
Pastor claims that you are robbing God if you are not donating 10%, even if you are in debt
This religious gentleman wants you to hand over 10% of everything you make, even if you are in debt. If you don't pay up, you are "robbing God," which is implied to be a bad thing, I guess.His name is Charles Stanley and he is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Read the rest
Interactive chart compares how many times Kavanaugh dodged questions compared to Ford
Vox created a color coded transcript of last week's Senate testimony of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman he is accused of sexually assaulting. Blue indicates a question was answered, red indicates a question was dodged. Ford's testimony has only blue highlights. Kavanaugh's has what appears to be dozens of red highlights.Beyond the style of their testimonies, there was a striking difference in the content of their words. Both Ford and Kavanaugh fielded questions from senators and the prosecutor hired by Republicans, Rachel Mitchell.But only Ford made an effort to answer every single question.Kavanaugh actively dodged questions. He often repeated the same non-answer over and over. Other times, he insisted on answering a question with “context” — which inevitably was a long story about his childhood — but never actually answered the question. Read the rest
Affinity Photo is an awesome low cost Photoshop alternative
I pay for a monthly subscription to Adobe's suite of photo editing apps. They streamline my workflow on my Mac, iPad and iPhone. What's more, they allow me to make my mediocre photos almost look like they were taken by someone who knows what they're doing. I'll be the first to admit, however, that subscription-based software is bullshit. Yes, you'll always have access to the latest updates that the application developers have to offer, but for all of the money you're paying over the course of months, or even years, you never end up with a product that you can say you own. Stop paying that monthly fee and you're left with bupkis. I don't much care for how that feels. I'm also not crazy about how much horsepower Adobe's software needs to perform well. Photoshop and Lightroom work great on my 2015 MacBook Pro. The same goes for Adobe's mobile apps on my iOS devices and Android smartphones. Unfortunately, the pixels flow like mud if I attempt to do any image editing in Lightroom on my Microsoft Surface Go. It's just not powerful enough. Happily, I discovered Affinty Photo a few years ago. It's a low cost Photoshop alternative for iOS, Mac OS and Windows that, for many image editing tasks, is just powerful enough to get shit done.On my low-powered Surface Go, Affinty loads in half the time that Photoshop does, allowing me to get in and out of working on a photo quickly before uploading it to go along with a story. Read the rest
$100 bills outnumber $1s, and they're stuffed in our mattresses
For the first time, the most common US bill in circulation is the $100: these benjamins aren't being used to transact our daily business -- they're the preferred form of savings after a long spell of low inflation and nonexistent interest rates, when there are so many obvious reasons to distrust the banks. (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest
UK Tories created a secret anti-Corbyn Twitter army, which promptly attacked Theresa May
Messages leaked to Buzzfeed reveal the bizarre story of the "Tory First Battalion," a secret Twitter group formed to capitalise on the smear that the Labour party was anti-Semitic by coordinating and amplifying anti-Corbyn messages.It turns out that assembling all of the Conservative Party's most rabid supporters into a single, coordinated body was double-edged sword: after all the Tories have been riven by internal leadership disputes for most of a decade, going so far as to break the country off from the EU in a failed bid to settle these internal rifts.So when Theresa May revealed her "Chequers Plan" for Brexit -- a move that trampled over the positions of the rival factions in the party -- the Tory First Battalion wheeled on her, using its coordination tools to systematically attack the party leader and her signature policy position.The Battalion contains several high-ranking members of the Conservative Campaign Headquarters, whose participation in coordinating a backstab against their own leader will doubtless increase internal divisions. And of course, there's the fact that someone leaked the group's internal Twitter messages to Buzzfeed -- backstabbing the backstabbers.Tory MPs often complain that their social media operation is nowhere near as effective of that of Labour or Momentum, the pro-Corbyn grassroots network that supports it. One of the first things Brandon Lewis promised to do when he became Tory chairman in January was to “take the fight to Labour” online.CCHQ’s official press office account left the 1st Battalion last week about 15 minutes after it was contacted by BuzzFeed News for comment. Read the rest
Fyre Festival founder blames everything but himself
Attorneys for Billy McFarland, organizer of the fantastically failed "Fyre Festival," are blaming a host of untreated mental health issues, alcoholism and attention deficit disorders for the amazing flop, and asking a judge to be lenient.Via Vulture:Last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival went up in smoke because its organizer has an untreated mental illness — or at least that’s the argument his lawyers are using in court. As Billy McFarland awaits sentencing for fraud, his attorneys are asking that the judge be lenient, citing a psychological evaluation that found the Fyre Festival organizer suffers from untreated bipolar-related disorder, “severe alcohol abuse,” and ADHD, which led him to dupe investors and thousands of attendees into his luxury destination festival. These factors caused McFarland to alter his behavior and experience “delusional beliefs of having special and unique talents that will lead to fame and fortune,” according to the report filed in court last Friday. “Nothing in this case speaks to any malicious intent on his part, just a sea of bad judgment, poor decisions, and the type of core instability that can only be explained by mental illness,” his attorney, Randall Jackson, wrote the judge. McFarland pleaded guilty to fraud charges in March, then later pleaded guilty to even more charges that he ran an elaborate ticketing scam while out on bail. He faces up to 14 years in prison and will be sentenced in Manhattan on October 11. Read the rest
Want to spend 30 hours in a coffin? Six Flags is looking for you
Wanna win $300? Are you not claustrophobic in any way, shape, or form?Six Flags St. Louis is looking for you.As part of their 30th Fright Fest anniversary celebration, they're searching for six "coffin dwellers" to (attempt to) spend 30 hours in a "slightly used" 2'X7' coffin (minus hourly six-minute bathroom breaks). Their "30-Hour Coffin Challenge" has a prize package that includes $300, two Gold season passes, a prize package, and... wait for it... the coffin you laid in for 30 hours and never want to see again. Now everyone who makes it to the bitter end of the challenge will get all the prizes listed above EXCEPT for the 300 bucks. For that, a drawing will be held. If you're interested**, sign up before October 3rd. The contest will be held October 13-14 at the Missouri park. Meals and phone charging stations are provided by Six Flags.photo by Tabbycatz_68**Psst... don't do this. Read the rest
New Weezer video for "Africa" with special guest star Weird Al
Weezer pushes the "Africa" cover gimmick ever onward with a new music video for the Toto classic. The clip stars Weird Al Yankovic as Rivers Cuomo in a parody of Weezer's own "Sweater Song" music video.Background here. Read the rest
Free ebook! Charlie Jane Anders' award winning debut novel "All the Birds in the Sky"
Charlie Jane Anders' Nebula-award-winning 2016 debut novel All the Birds in the Sky is the next Tor.com Ebook Club selection: that means you can get a free ebook, and then participate in a group discussion with Tor.com's most excellent and perspicacious readers. (more…)
Snapshot from the heroic era of mobile computing
MJ Carlson calls this photo from a 1980s computer science textbook "the most glorious stock photo of all time." She is correct.
Review: Wasteland 2 for Nintendo Switch
I played Wasteland 2 when it made its debut, four years ago. Despite my Love for Brian Fargo's work on Fallout 1 and 2, I never did manage to finish it. There's something about working in front of a computer, seven days a week, that keeps me from wanting to sit in front of my laptop during my downtime. However, in the weeks since I was given a review copy of it for the Nintendo Switch, I've been enjoying the holy hell out of it. If you're not familiar with the franchise, its premise is pretty simple. You and your squad mates are new recruits to the Desert Rangers: the only real peacekeeping force in post-apocalyptic Arizona. It's your job to range out and aid the folks under your protection. You'll kill bandits, attempt to negotiate peace between warring factions and uncover insidious threats. The game lets you choose whether you want to start with a squad of four pre-made rangers, each with different skills and strengths, or role your own. This time around, I chose the latter. As I accidentally created a pretty strong team, it's worked out pretty well so far. That's all I'll say about the game, plot-wise. Wasteland 2 might not be new to many of us, but there are some first-timers that might be reading this. I don't want to blow the story for them.I will however, talk about game play.All of the interactions you'll have with NPCs are text-based. Given the small size of the Switch's display, the game's development team could have blown it by making the text too small for older eyes, like mine, to read. But nope: everything is legible. Your choices and any questions you may have to ask during the course of the game are committed with the push of a button. So too is Wasteland 2's turn-based combat. There are explosions, silly animations of bodies being torn in two when a critical shot is made. You will upgrade your gear, endlessly. I remember being frustrated by how the game played using a trackpad. I'm pretty pleased with how the Switch's controls have performed with the game, though. Despite it being a port, it feels like it was made for mobile. I can't say the same for similar titles that I've played on the iPad. Planescape: Torment, for example, was a pain in the ass. I loved it, back in the day, but I could barely stand playing it with a touch interface. Some games demand physical controls. Given what a great experience playing Wasteland 2 has been, I've got a lot of hope for similar ports that'll be popping in the near future: Pillars of Eternity 2 and Diablo 3. Fingers crossed.
iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max: A Closer First Look [PHOTOS]
At the big Apple Event in Cupertino today, the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max were touted as 'the best and biggest displays' yet for iPhone. (more…)
Jerk in truck refuses to let driver pass on freeway
The driver of a large truck put many people's lives in jeopardy when he swerved multiple times to keep the driver of a pickup truck from passing him on a multi-lane freeway. The pickup driver is also a jerk for not backing off.It's hard to tell what happens at the end of the video but it looks like the large truck runs the pickup truck off the road.Click To Expand
Good news: California ends cash bail! Bad news: It's been replaced with a black-box algorithm.
Cash bail has turned American jails into debtors' prisons, where the wealthy can go about their business while awaiting trial, and the poor can languish for months or even years in jail because they can't make bail (in practice, they generally plead guilty, regardless of their innocence). (more…)
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