Kern County got a $200,000+ grant and started using closed-source software to perform a new kind of DNA testing for criminal forensics. Now, the principle at stake in California v. Johnson (California's 5th district court of appeals): does due process require that the defendant be able to examine the evidence used to convict them, which includes auditing forensics software to check for bugs? The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others, have filed amicus curiae briefs. [more inside]
"Today, the W3C bequeaths an legally unauditable attack-surface to browsers used by billions of people. They give media companies the power to sue or intimidate away those who might re-purpose video for people with disabilities. They side against the archivists who are scrambling to preserve the public record of our era. The W3C process has been abused by companies that made their fortunes by upsetting the established order, and now, thanks to EME, they’ll be able to ensure no one ever subjects them to the same innovative pressures." [more inside]
Casey Johnston, writer and Swole Woman, writes about disordered eating, dealing with a friend's thoughtless comments, and the pernicious idea that "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." [more inside]
The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has released their first annual report, called "Goalkeepers," focused on 18 indicators of global health drawn from the Millennium Development and Sustainable Development goals set by the UN. Through measurements, projections, and case studies, the report showcases many recent advances and ingenuity while contrasting them with signs of donor fatigue and risk of regression. The report is timed for the UN General Assembly meeting this month, as Mr. Gates fears the world is losing its focus on global health. [more inside]
Getting to the Bottom of Tracer's Derrière By Laura Kate Dale [Kotaku] “It feels like a hell of a lot longer, but it was only a little over a year ago that Tracer from Overwatch became the most newsworthy butt in gaming. [#buttgate] Her posterior, which was undeniably shapely, made a stir when developer Blizzard changed one of her in-game poses to reduce the emphasis placed on her buttocks. The replacement pose still showed her butt, and said butt was still perky and visible, but the new pose was intended to fit better with the character's backstory as a pilot, as well as echoing traditional pin up images from the previous century. What was not, however, covered at this point was something more fundamental. Why is Tracer's butt so pronounced no matter the pose it's hanging off? Even after an alteration of poses, the butt remains eye-catching.”
Wind energy used to mine cryptocurrency to fund climate research Taking the form of a 2m wind turbine with environmental sensors, weatherproof computer and 4G uplink, HARVEST ‘feeds’ from two primary symptoms of our changing climate: wind gusts and storms. It does this by transforming wind energy into the electricity required to meet the demanding task of mining cryptocurrency (here Zcash), a decentralised process where computers are financially rewarded for their work maintaining and verifying a public transaction ledger known as the blockchain. Rather than filling the digital wallet of the artist, all rewards earned by the HARVEST mining machine are paid out as donations to non-profit climate change research organisations such that they can better study this planetary-scale challenge.
The self-proclaimed biggest toy store there is (gee whiz!) could file for bankruptcy as soon as this week. [more inside]
"There are lots of reasons why a person might decide to wear a chest binder; chiefly, I think, you should try it if the idea of wearing a chest binder, even once, appeals to you. I fear this may sound more facile than gently encouraging, which is not my intention." - Product Review: When Every Bra Size is Wrong by Mallory Ortberg
The coalition government ruling Iceland has collapsed over restoring legal status to convicted rapists. New elections for the Alþingi (Icelandic Parliment) have been set for the end of October. Warning: Some articles describe sexual abuse of minors. [more inside]
Spomenik Database: An exploration of Yugoslavia's historic and enigmatic endeavor into abstract anti-fascist WWII monument building from 1960 to 1980. During the zenith of communist Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito, over a thousand monuments, or spomeniks, were commissioned to not only honor the many who died in the fight against fascism in World War II, but to help forge a new national identity that transcended ethnic and religious divisions, while also rejecting Soviet-inspired socialist realism in favor of abstract postmodernism. The endeavor did not survive long past Tito's death in 1980, and many spomeniks were abandoned or destroyed after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, though others have been either maintained or repurposed. [more inside]
In search of Les Rallizes Dénudés: A writer's search for more information on the enigmatic Japanese psychedelic noise-rock collective, who released no official studio recordings (going into semi-seclusion in the 1970s after their bassist hijacked a plane to North Korea and emerging to play the occasional secret gig, years apart) and are known mostly from a variety of live bootlegs with liner notes of varying reliability.
An interview with backpacking guide Marjorie "Slim" Woodruff on the costs of egocentrism in the backcountry:
Education only works if people are open to change. I think hikers have to undergo a personal epiphany which changes their paradigm. Dog owners are so emotionally caught up in their animal, it is difficult to convince them to change.
Bobby "the Brain" Heenan, widely considered to be both the greatest manager in professional wrestling history and the greatest colour commentator in professional wrestling history, has died following multiple battles with cancer. He was 73. [more inside]
You remember the 1950s atomic era of midcentury design. Most people think of George Nelson when they see the Marshmallow Sofa or the Ball & Sunburst Clocks, and of course Herman Miller Company. Hardly anybody knows about Irving Harper, who actually created these designs in collaboration with Nelson sometimes, and sometimes solo but Nelson was head of the design firm (though not a designer himself) and so he got all the credit. A few years ago, however, Harper was rediscovered. And to the delight of all, he was also discovered as the creator of charming and delightful paper sculptures. A book came out in 2013, and a video by the Herman Miller Co. has given credit to Harper's iconic designs.
Hal Holbrook is still alive, but has decided to end his 63-year run as Mark Twain in a one-man show Holbrook created and has toured around the world. Mark Twain Tonight! won Holbrook a Tony in 1966 and an Emmy nomination in 1967. Holbrook was scheduled to tour the show again this fall until he abruptly announced its end, cancelling the remaining performances. [more inside]
Susan Sarandon posted on instagram the first photo from the shooting of "Going Places". Going Places is an upcoming crime comedy written, directed by, and starring John Turturro, acting as both a remake of the 1974 French film of the same name by Bertrand Blier, and a spin-off to the 1998 cult film The Big Lebowski, from which Turturro reprises his role as Jesus Quintana.
The East German secret police went to extraordinary lengths to track down people who wrote letters to the BBC during the Cold War. Those found were often arrested and jailed, like Karl-Heinz Borchardt, who wrote the following: I have only just started listening to your programme, 'Letters without signatures', but I like it a lot, since it airs opinions you don't find in our media. I am 16 years old. I will write to you regularly, mainly about young people and their views on world affairs. In my view, the west did not intervene strongly enough in Czechoslovakia. Does a country which fought so hard for its freedom have to carry on marching to the tune of the Soviets? Warm regards from a schoolboy
In Jervis Bay, off Eastern Australia, researchers recently spotted 15 gloomy octopuses congregating, communicating, dwelling together, and even evicting each other from dens at a site the scientists named “Octlantis.”
My name is Miles (hence the name of the blog), and I'm obsessed with the MBTA. One man's four and a half year epic quest to ride and review every single bus route serviced by Boston's MBTA.
The Mega Builder of Garry's Mod by Craig Pearson ““How did they do that?” isn’t something you often ask yourself when looking at a Garry’s Mod screenshot. It’s generally obvious how it's done when you can see the joins. But I asked myself that when I came across Vioxtar’s [DeviantArt] work, because he doesn't build typical Garry's Mod contraptions. He builds worlds. Asking myself wouldn't get me any answers, so I took an extra step and asked him. His answers are as detailed and impressive as the work he produces, and gave me a whole new perspective on what it takes to turn Garry's Mod into art. He's broke the game more times than you can imagine, lost sleep, and worked for months on a single scene trying to bring the sandbox to life. I hope you enjoy his story.”
The Detroit Free Press' John Carlisle rides along on the Salvation Army's Bed and Bread program food truck. Here are the stories of some of the people he met. [more inside]
Moon Phases 2017 [5 relatively soothing minutes] This 4K visualization shows the moon's phase and libration at hourly intervals throughout 2017, as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. Each frame represents one hour. In addition, this visualization shows the moon's orbit position, sub-Earth and subsolar points, distance from the Earth at true scale, and labels of craters near the terminator. Production music provided by Killer Tracks.
A dam fusegate is a non-mechanical method for automatically triggering water release when a reservoir fills to capacity. Basically a very large pivoting metal or concrete bucket that is tripped by inlet flow at high water, it’s like an electrical fuse, only for water, and can be bigger. Much, much, bigger, as the can be seen at the Terminus Dam Spillway of Lake Kahweah in California. [more inside]
My Father, the Werewolf
When I was a kid, my Dad taught me all about werewolves. Little did I know he was preparing me to understand his depression.
When I was a kid, my Dad taught me all about werewolves. Little did I know he was preparing me to understand his depression.
A new short film has been released by Kenzo, created by first time director Natasha Lyonne. The short stars Maya Rudolph as Chastity with Fred Armisen, Greta Lee, James Ransone, Matt Lucas, Macaulay Culkin, Waris Ahluwalia and Leslie Odom Jr. also making appearances. The 13 minute short pays homage to the eponymous characters played by Giulietta Masina in Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria and Shirley MacLaine in Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity, his take on Fellini's film. [more inside]
A neural network learns to create better D&D spells. After an unsuccessful (previously) attempt to get a computer to make new D&D spell names by feeding it 365 spells, computer researcher Janelle Shane fed it a database of all 1300+ spells from 4th edition, with much better results. Things have gone from Glasp to Song of the doom goom.
This one time? At Irish camp? Students in the Irish language immersion summer school Colaiste Lurgan have become YouTube stars for their Irish-language covers of pop hits. Here, as Gaeilge, for your viewing and listening pleasure: An Laisc Is Mó (Blurred Lines); Ar Mo Thaobh (Stay With Me); An tÁdh 'Nocht (Get Lucky); Africa (le Toto); Func Anseo (Uptown Funk); Síoraí Spraoi (Cheerleader); Na Cuimhní (Somebody That I Used To Know); and of course, this summer's blockbuster, Despacito. [more inside]
After years of work, a group of dedicated enthusiasts will finally apply to have the first Dark Sky Reserve in the US. The International Dark-Sky Association has certified only 11 other reserves across the globe, and only one other in the Americas, at Mont-Mégantic national park in Québec. Each Reserve covers at least 700 square kilometers, and light pollution is so imperceptible that it is possible to see the interstellar dust clouds of the Milky Way. As one of the mayors involved said: "It's nice to look up and see something greater than ourselves."
One of the original five elements of hip-hop culture, breaking (also known as breakdancing) never quite attained the ubiquity of rap, but it quietly remains an international phenomenon. If you're curious about the modern state of this art/sport hybrid, you could do worse than to start by watching the winning team showcase at last year's Battle of the Year, the biggest breaking crew tournament in the world. Or, for something a little less traditional, 2015's winner is a beautiful fusion of Spanish and hip-hop culture. Or perhaps you're one for the classics: Ichigeki's winning show from 2005 is often cited as the best showcase in the tournament's history. But if you restrict yourself to watching showcases, you'll be missing most of what makes breaking great. True breaking takes the form of improvisational dance-offs between opponents, each responding to, and one-upping, the other's moves. Last but not least, while breaking is an overwhelmingly male art form, there are also some seriously talented bgirls to keep an eye on. [more inside]
Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione (1837 – 1899) was an Italian aristocrat, a secret agent/courtesan sent to plead the cause of Italian unity with Emperor Napoleon III, and a photographic artist whose association with French photographer Pierre-Louise Pierson from 1856 to 1895 resulted in about 700 portraits of herself (Metropolitan Museum, Réunion des Musées Nationaux), many of them extravagant, excentric, and truly fascinating, such as the famous Game of madness (Scherzo di follia). Those in a hurry can click on Buzzfeed's top 25 Castiglione pictures. Others pictures and explanations can be found below the fold. [more inside]
On August 30th seven current and former faculty members of the University of Rochester's Brain and Cognitive Sciences department, as well as one graduate student, filed an 111-page complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the university for "failing to act appropriately against a faculty member who has engaged in sexual harassment and has created a hostile environment for graduate students, and for retaliating against those of us who filed and pursued a complaint through university procedures." [more inside]
Ross Macdonald is now being published by the The Library of America, an accolade. The main link has an very nice article about him and his Lew Archer novels. And I fully agree that he's a fine writer. However, I want to present some reminiscences about Ross Thomas, equally as good as Macdonald but sadly overlooked. The first link from the LA Review of Books is Are the Fools in Town Still on Our Side?, which is the title of one of his best books about politics and crime and corruption and sleaziness and chicanery with wonderful dialogue and sarcastic humor. [more inside]
Kinji at Cheetah Experience likes meerkats but they don't like him back. However, he gets good scritches anyway. Another meerkat makes a brief appearance (as does a serval and an African wild cat) in this cheetah video from VolunteerSA. [h/t Miss Cellania]
The Secret History of Dune - Islamic theology, mysticism, and the history of the Arab world clearly influenced Dune, but part of Herbert’s genius lay in his willingness to reach for more idiosyncratic sources of inspiration. [more inside]
The Week My Husband Left And My House Was Burgled I Secured A Grant To Begin The Project That Became BRCA1
Actress Amber Tamblyn: I'm Done With Not Being Believed (SLNYT)
Cuphead Reignites the “Game Journalists Should Be Good at Games” Debate by Paul Tamburro [Game Revolution] “A video uploaded by the tech website VentureBeat shows one of its employees struggling to do just that [YouTube] ['Dean's Shameful 26 Minutes Of Gameplay']. Taken from Cuphead's Gamescom 2017 demo, the video sees GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi struggling with just about everything the game throws at him: he experiences difficulty in attempting to jump onto a high platform in the opening tutorial; he routinely bumps into enemies running towards him; he falls down a hole to his death. The resulting footage is hilarious, playing out like a 26-minute slapstick comedy sketch in which poor Cuphead is forced to meet his demise over and over again. But rather than being viewed as a funny half-hour struggle experienced by one writer, the video has instead been used to undermine games journalism as a whole.” [more inside]
Reviews of Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Moby-Dick, Huckleberry Finn, and Dracula show the sometimes surprising reactions of 19th C. readers to 19th C. literature in English. In a letter from 1888, Nietzsche points toward the sometimes surprising coverage of another source, suggesting that The Main Developments in Literature during the Nineteenth Century by the Danish critic Georg Brandes "is still today the best Kulturbuch in German on this big subject": v. 1; v. 2; v. 3; v. 4; v. 5; v. 6. [more inside]
The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?
Top Boffins looking at whether cats are liquid or solid, why old men have big ears, and the effects of playing the didgeridoo have on sleep apnea were among the laureates at the 2017 Ig Nobel Prizes. (Previously) [more inside]
McDonald's Store is a family business in the town of Hot Coffee, Mississippi. They sell shoes and brooms and ice cream and PVC fittings and hoop cheese and souse. They've been open since 1967. They just repainted.
Harry Dean Stanton died peacefully Friday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in L.A. The legendary actor's career spanned more than 6 decades. His credits also include "Repo Man," "Cool Hand Luke," "Paris, Texas," "Alien," "Wild at Heart" and "Twin Peaks."