Monday, 16 July

14:00 EDT

Microsoft's Panos Panay Says Company is Exploring Several New Form Factors in Surface Category, But a Phone Isn't One of Them [Slashdot]

Speaking on the sidelines of the Surface Go launch, Microsoft's Panos Panay, who heads the Surface division, once again very much reiterated that the company has moved past its smartphone ambitions. From a report: In an interview with Wired, Microsoft's Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that the company is working on new form factors. When questioned about whether this would include a new Surface Phone, Panay stated that the Surface Phone was not one that they are thinking about at this time. "I wouldn't say that it includes a Surface Phone," Panos answered in the interview. "I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you're thinking about your product road-map," he replied. "Of course, we're always inventing, of course, we're thinking about new form factors," Panos added. "The way people will communicate in the future will change. The form factors will wrap around that. And so when you say the phone form factor changes, I would flip it a little bit and say that communication changes."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

An elegant plan to use peer-pressure to fight Alex Jones on Facebook [Boing Boing]

Alex Jones accused the grieving parents of the dead children of Sandy Hook of being "crisis actors" and kicked off a campaign of brutal harassment by his idiotic followers -- 900,000 of them on Facebook alone. (more…)

She-Ra reboot looks great [Boing Boing]

Coming to Netflix soon. It's enraged the online nazis for the usual reasons, but this time it's particularly delicious because they can't even pretend it was ever for them. When they say she looks like a boy, all you have to do is take that thought seriously, just for a second, to understand how completely they're losing that particular aspect of the culture wars.

As with Nicaragua, so too America [Boing Boing]

On April 18th, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, announced that changes would be made to the country’s social security system: workers would be forced to pay more but would receive fewer benefits, despite their increased contributions. Understandably, people were pissed. They staged peaceful demonstrations. Then came the not so peaceful ones: the outrage the nation’s citizens felt over the changes to a system they had paid into the whole of their working lives, spilled over into resentment for the Nicaraguan government as a whole. Since then, 300 civilians have died. On July 14th, Nicaraguan police and pro-government paramilitary types trapped a group of student protestors inside of a church and commenced firing on those inside with military-grade arms. The whole, bloody, terrifying show was captured on video and in Twitter posts from inside of the church. One young man named Gerald, was from the city of Masaya. He was in Managua, Nicaraguas capital, attending university. Gerald was shot in the head—dead at 20 years old. His last rights delivered by a priest who was trapped in the church with him. Those trapped in the church have since been allowed to go free. Its said that there is at least one other dead and several wounded as a result of the incident. Daniel Ortega’s been in office as the President of Nicaragua for 11 years. To get there, he ran for the position from 1990 until 2007. It was with a promise to improve the lives of the poor, to end the rampant corruption that infected Nicaragua’s political elite. Ortega came from a poor family, that was well known for being unable to pay the rent on the flats where they lived. The Ortegas moved from place to place, pushed out for not paying their way until there was no where in the area that they lived in where anyone would take them in. In 1967, Ortega was sent to prison for bank robbery. Unlike the leaders of the current American administration, he grew up in poverty. He understands what it’s like to be poor. It apparently doesn’t matter. Just like someone else you may know, Ortega’s initial presidential win was called into question, due to the fact that he was ragingly unpopular with the people of his nation: he won 37% of the total vote, with the remaining votes eaten up by other political factions too much in love with the smell of their own stink to get their shit together and do something just for their country. Ortega’s government is the very model of cronyism. His wife plans on running to become Vice President of Nicaragua to Ortega’s position of head honcho in the country’s upcoming presidential elections, despite the fact that her doing so, as the sitting President’s wife, is against the nation’s constitution. It’s said that Ortega has accumulated a massive fortune through tax evasion, bribes and kickbacks since coming into office. If this doesn’t smack of something familiar yet, maybe this will bring it home. From the Pan Am Post:
In order to eliminate any dissent against President Daniel Ortega’s quest for his third term, the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council recently dismissed 28 opposition legislators (16 members and 12 alternate members) from Congress. The Congressmen belong to the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) and its ally, the Sandinista Renovation Movement. They were dismissed for refusing to comply with the Supreme Court’s appointment of Pedro Reyes, one of President Ortega’s “unconditional” politicians, as the new PLI president. With this arrangement, and Ortega’s immediate announcement of Rosario Murillo as his running mate, all the formalities and pillars of representative democracy in the Central American nation have been weakened.
Family members serving as members of government. The poor being openly preyed upon to serve the needs of the rich. Violence in the name of the status quo. Paramilitaries, supported by official agencies in the name of maintaining a stranglehold on power. This is how a dictatorship rolls. It’s happening in Nicaragua right now. While the cadence of events may be different, it’s beginning to happen here, too.

Trump-Putin in Helsinki: Transcript and Video [Boing Boing]

Here are transcripts and videos of the press conference with US President Donald Trump & Russian President Vladimir Putin, following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

(more…)

3D printed guns just cleared a major legal hurdle [Boing Boing]

Last week, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson won a major ruling in his quest to distribute gun-printing software. The video above from February outlines the background of the case. (more…)

13:00 EDT

Elon Musk could face lawsuit for calling cave rescuer a “pedo guy” [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks onstage at SXSW on March 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (credit: Getty Images | Diego Donamaria )

A diver who helped rescue boys trapped in a Thailand cave may sue Elon Musk after the tech billionaire called the rescuer a "pedo guy."

Diver Vernon Unsworth was instrumental in the rescue, and he said that Musk's attempt to build a small submarine for the rescue effort was a "PR stunt" that had no chance of working. Musk soon promised to prove Unsworth wrong—and lobbed a baseless charge of pedophilia at the rescuer.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Musk initially challenged Unsworth to "show [the] final rescue video" before writing, "You know what, don't bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it."

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Aisha Tyler — How to Use Pain, Comedy, and Practice for Creativity (#327) [The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss]


“You can’t own results. You can only own initiative.” – Aisha Tyler

Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler on Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo) is an award-winning director, actor, comedian, bestselling author, podcaster, and activist. She’s amazing. If you enjoyed my episodes with Brandon Stanton, Debbie Millman, or Adam Robinson, among others, you will love this one.

Whether you do any type of creative work, want to be too complex to categorize, or want to overcome rejection and beat the odds, this one has something for you.

Aisha voices superspy Lana Kane on F/X’s Emmy award-winning animated comedy series Archer, which won four back-to-back Television Critics’ Choice Awards. She is a regular on the hit CBS show Criminal Minds, now in its 13th season, for which she has also directed. Aisha continues to host the CW’s hit improv show, Whose Line Is It Anyway, and she is launching a line of bottled cocktails she created, Courage + Stone, in Summer of 2018.

Aisha was a co-host for seven seasons of CBS’s Emmy-winning daytime show The Talk, which she departed in September 2017 to focus more on acting and directing. She is also well-remembered for her character arc on Friends, and she was the first African-American to have a long-standing role on the show. Her feature film debut, the thriller AXIS, premiered 2017, and the won the Outstanding Achievement in Feature Filmmaking award at the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival, then had a theatrical run at Arclight Hollywood, Landmark NYC and Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, Texas. A San Francisco native, Aisha graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Government and Environmental Policy. An avid gamer and passionate advocate (and occasional adversary) of the gaming community, Aisha’s voice can be heard in the video games Halo: Reach, Gears of War 3, and Watch Dogs. Aisha is a bourbon and hard rock fan, a snowboarder, and a sci-fi obsessive.

Enjoy!

#327: Aisha Tyler — How to Use Pain, Comedy, and Practice for Creativity
Download

Want to hear another podcast with an artist who tells stories in a unique way? — Listen to my conversation with Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind Humans of New York. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

Brandon Stanton – The Story of Humans of New York and 25M+ Fans
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Aisha Tyler:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Vimeo

SHOW NOTES

  • How is Aisha partly to blame for the existence of The Tim Ferriss Show? [07:42]
  • The trademark question Aisha would ask of all her podcast guests. [09:15]
  • Aisha tells us about her somewhat unorthodox childhood and family relationships. [10:52]
  • How did Aisha answer the questions “Whose day is it?” and “What are you going to do?” every morning? [12:04]
  • From where does Aisha get her general sense of optimism? [16:05]
  • Has Aisha been good at following her father’s earlier advice? How does she feel about regret? [18:15]
  • Contrasting Mr. Tyler’s free-range parenting style with the modern model that tends toward overprotection. [20:29]
  • Having a bad day? You’re not special! [26:22]
  • What did the young and scholarly Aisha want to be when she grew up? [27:38]
  • Why was Aisha miserable at what she thought was her dream job? [30:06]
  • Why did Aisha pick standup comedy to break into show business? [31:00]
  • What it was like to keep a day job and do standup comedy as a hobby. [33:09]
  • If San Francisco was known as a comedy town, why would Aisha commute hours away to do standup when she was getting started? [35:11]
  • What made the comedy club bubble of the ’80s burst? [37:40]
  • How did Aisha practice to get better at standup? [41:32]
  • A memorable set Aisha bombed and the gift it gave her. [43:29]
  • Dealing with hecklers Bill Burr and Kenny Moore style. [47:06]
  • Aisha shares some of her own heckler stories. [54:18]
  • Aisha’s academic approach to the math of comedy. [59:03]
  • What’s the Rule of Threes? [1:01:37]
  • Aisha may not have the discipline of Garry Shandling, but she has her own ways of gauging her evolution as a comic. [1:02:47]
  • How comedians are like musicians, writers, and other artists. [1:04:53]
  • The changing metrics of success and a common trap modern-day creatives can fall into if they’re not careful (or scrupulous). [1:05:30]
  • What happens when you operate from a place of fear and want to please the nebulous majority more than you want to please yourself. [1:09:06]
  • If one likes big butts, one cannot lie — even if it might tick someone off. Especially if it might tick someone off. [1:12:00]
  • Sometimes constructive feedback does make me change my mind. [1:14:52]
  • No matter how you present your art to the world, there are always going to be people who don’t get what you do. Aisha strives to do meaningful work that’s authentic to her experience. [1:15:18]
  • Why being funny isn’t actually the most important part of comedy. [1:17:32]
  • When you’re beginning in the creative game, expect that most things are not going to work out. [1:18:28]
  • Why it doesn’t pay to emulate a master of a craft in their own field. [1:19:02]
  • After wearing so many different career hats, how did Aisha decide to get started in filmmaking? [1:21:17]
  • Aisha believes in personal aggression. [1:24:38]
  • How Aisha piggybacked on resources being used for her Comedy Central special to make her first music video. [1:25:34]
  • Aisha made music videos for her friends’ bands and other short-format films to learn more about the craft. [1:26:39]
  • What lessons did Aisha learn from these projects? [1:28:22]
  • Aisha talks about visiting the sets of Penny Dreadful and Vikings in Ireland and how it led to making AXIS. [1:29:42]
  • How did Aisha get the time off and the financial resources to sustain herself on this trip? [1:31:42]
  • What did the email Aisha sent to get permission to visit the set of Vikings look like? [1:33:33]
  • Why you don’t have to be Aisha Tyler or even have a verified social media account for your kind words expressing appreciation for a show to be seen by the people who make that show. [1:34:27]
  • How the Budweiser “Whassup” campaign came about — and a director’s career was launched — because of a catchy short film that was seen by the right people. [1:35:53]
  • Why Aisha made AXIS. [1:37:45]
  • Resources for people who are interested in screenplays or early stage tech investing but don’t have a foot in the door of the establishment. [1:39:00]
  • What is AXIS, and did anyone try to talk Aisha out of making it? [1:40:14]
  • How would Aisha describe her experience of being involved with AXIS? Why did she crowdfund its financial resources and shoot it in seven days? Would she make a movie this way again? [1:42:31]
  • The magic, intensity, and clarity of operating on an aggressive deadline. [1:47:03]
  • If everything we want is on the other side of fear, what is Aisha afraid of now or hoping to get on the other side of in the next year or so? [1:48:30]
  • What is one of Aisha’s current struggles? [1:50:27]
  • “If art imitates life, in order to create art, you have to have a life.” [1:51:40]
  • As a workaholic, how does Aisha manage to live a life that influences her art? [1:53:03]
  • How would Aisha’s life be different if she didn’t have exercise as an element? [1:56:03]
  • What equipment does Aisha use to work out? [1:58:07]
  • What does a prototypical workout look like for Aisha? [1:59:00]
  • How does Aisha take her glutathione, and what does it help with? [2:00:00]
  • Does Aisha exercise before or after breakfast? What time does she wake up, and what do her first 60 to 90 minutes look like? [2:02:28]
  • Aisha works out at home to save transit time. What does she watch when she rows? [2:04:32]
  • Does Aisha make New Year’s resolutions? [2:05:56]
  • Aisha likens her first (unwatchable and destroyed) short film to the standup set she bombed. [2:08:27]
  • When has Aisha been extremely proud of herself? [2:12:17]
  • How the confidence developed in exploring areas outside of the box can transfer to future projects. [2:15:28]
  • To grow from failure, you have to be aggressive. [2:17:45]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:18:28]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Instapaper is Going Independent [Slashdot]

Popular bookmarking and read-it-later app, Instapaper made the following announcement in a blog post: Today, we're announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who've been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information. We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who've been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lights Slowly Come On for Puerto Ricans in Rural Areas [Slashdot]

Almost a year after two hurricanes ravaged the US territory, repair crews are working to energize the more than 950 homes and businesses that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Puerto Ricans remain fearful that their newly returned normality could be short lived. An anonymous reader shares a report: Lights are slowly coming on for the more than 950 homes and businesses across Puerto Rico that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Repair crews sometimes have to dig holes by hand and scale down steep mountainsides to reach damaged light posts. Electrical poles have to be ferried in one-by-one via helicopter. It is slow work, and it has stretched nearly two months past the date when officials had promised that everyone in Puerto Rico would be energized. And even as TVs glow into the night and people like delivery man Steven Vilella once again savor favorite foods like shrimp and Rocky Road ice cream, many fear their newly returned normality could be short-lived. Turmoil at the island's power company and recent winds and rains that knocked out electricity to tens of thousands of people at the start of the new hurricane season have them worried.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Stranger Things teaser: Hawkins gets a new mall! [Boing Boing]

I hope Dustin gets a job at Spencer Gifts.

Modern-day samurai fools Penn & Teller with "impossible" coin trick [Boing Boing]

According to his website, Ryan Hayashi is the "world's most famous samurai entertainer." He's also a helluva magician, as evidenced by this video. In it, he performs a mind-blowing coin trick act (at times one handed!) that leaves both Penn and Teller left wondering what they just watched. The best part of the video might be when Hayashi, a fan of the magic duo since he was a boy, is given the big F.U. award at the end. I don't think he can believe that his childhood heroes have just acknowledged his skill.

(reddit)

Nigerian artist, age 11, creates incredible hyperreal portraits [Boing Boing]

Kareem Waris Olamilekan is a Nigerian artist who paints astounding hyperreal portraits. He's 11. From his Instagram @waspa_art:

I am waspa the bitty artist
Art is my calling
It's in me
I draw, paint and design.

All Africa interview: "My Legs Shook As I Drew the Portrait of French President"

(Thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

Watch how this gorgeous handmade cricket lure got made [Boing Boing]

From first sketches to first bass caught, watch Nate Marling create a fishing lure that looks and moves like a cricket. (more…)

Architect Unveils Design For Mother Emanuel AME Church Memorial [News : NPR]

An architectural rendering shows the proposed design for a memorial on the Emanuel AME Church grounds, showing the fellowship benches and names fountain as seen from Calhoun Street in Charleston, S.C.

The memorial honors the nine worshippers murdered by a white supremacist at the church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015. It is designed by the architect behind the Sept. 11 memorial in New York City.

(Image credit: Image Courtesy Dbox for The Mother Emanuel Nine Memorial / Handel Architects)

James Bridle on why technology is creating a new dark age [The Verge - All Posts]

In 2005, Stanford University researcher John Ioannidis published an essay with the explosive title “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” Ioannidis alleged that many researchers were not running meaningful experiments; they were simply sifting through huge amounts of data to find any publishable results, using a technique known as p-hacking or data dredging. Technology made gathering information easier than ever, but the result here was not a deeper understanding of our world — it was greater confusion about it.

The p-hacking problem is one of many high-tech parables in James Bridle’s book New Dark Age, which will be released in the US tomorrow. Bridle is already well-known for his creative critiques of modern technology,...

Continue reading…

MoviePass is using you to ruin the movies [The Verge - All Posts]

Last year, MoviePass announced that it was repricing its movie theater subscription plan to $9.95 a month. It seemed too good to be true — and, as it turned out, it was. In the months since, the service has bled cash, and the stock price of its parent company has tumbled. Subscribers are the ones taking the hit, with elements of their subscriptions swapped, changed, or revoked outright. On top of that, many theater owners aren’t happy because the company’s business model prevents them from competing for customers on things like pricing and presentation. But while MoviePass isn’t the movie industry’s savior, it may have illuminated a path forward for theaters to control their own destiny. Watch the video above for our complete breakdown.

Continue reading…

12:00 EDT

Dealmaster: The best non-Amazon deals if Prime Day doesn’t matter to you [Ars Technica]

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today, as you may have heard, Amazon Prime Day begins—it's the annual sales event/advertisement/sunk cost celebration in which Amazon discounts thousands of items for members of its Prime subscription service.

While more than 100 million people now subscribe to Prime, the event still leaves a big chunk of would-be bargain hunters out in the cold, and the recent price hikes to the service don't make it any more welcoming. Naturally, this has left the door open for competing stores to swoop in and try to capitalize on the Prime Day buzz with alternative deals of their own.

Below we've rounded up a preliminary list of tech deals from non-Amazon retailers that have surfaced alongside Prime Day. The list includes discounts on Google devices, laptops, game consoles, the Apple Watch, and more. We'll update this post throughout the next couple of days as more planned sales from other retailers go live, so be sure to check back regularly.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: All the best Amazon Prime Day deals happening right now [Ars Technica]

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. And not just any deals—Prime Day deals.

Yes, today is the big one. The one the Dealmaster has been stretching and preparing and running up steps Rocky II-style for. From now through Tuesday, it's Amazon's Prime Day 2018 event, in which the online shopping giant discounts an absolute truckload of things for members of its Prime subscription service. If you don't pay for Prime, you'll have to sit this one out, but remember that new signups can still get a 30-day trial for free.

Now, is Amazon going to pass off a whole lot of junk as "deals" over the next two days? You betcha. Is the whole event a giant ad for an already massive company? Pretty much! Does that mean there won't be any legitimate discounts on good tech? Absolutely not. The Dealmaster will be curating and updating the deals list below throughout Prime Day 2018, so feel free to check back and see what worthwhile discounts have popped up.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

To make Curiosity (et al) more curious, NASA and ESA smarten up AI in space [Ars Technica]

Block Island, the largest meteorite yet found on Mars and one of several identified by the Mars Exploration Rovers. (credit: NASA)

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has done many great things in its decade-plus of service—but initially, it rolled 600 feet past one of the initiative’s biggest discoveries: the Block Island meteorite. Measuring about 67 centimeters across, the meteorite was a telltale sign that Mars' atmosphere had once been much thicker, thick enough to slow down the rock flying at a staggering 2km/s so that it did not disintegrate on impact. A thicker atmosphere could mean a more gentle climate, possibly capable of supporting liquid water on the surface, maybe even life.

Yet, we only know about the Block Island meteorite because someone on the Opportunity science team manually spotted an unusual shape in low-resolution thumbnails of the images and decided it was worth backtracking for several days to examine it further. Instead of this machine purposefully heading toward the rock right from the get-go, the team barely saw perhaps its biggest triumph in the rear view mirror. "It was almost a miss," says Mark Woods, head of autonomy and robotics at SciSys, a company specializing in IT solutions for space exploration that works for the European Space Agency (ESA), among others.

Opportunity, of course, made this near-miss maneuver all the way back in July 2009. If NASA were to attempt a similar initiative in a far-flung corner of the galaxy today—as the space organization plans to in 2020 with the Mars 2020 rover (the ESA has similar ambitions with its ExoMars rover that year)—modern scientists have one particularly noteworthy advantage that has developed since.

Read 39 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A Student Was Rejected By A College Because Of China's 'Social Credit System' [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares a report: A prestigious college in Beijing that reportedly tried to bar a student because his father was on a government blacklist is causing huge controversy in China. According to state media reports, a high school student with the surname Rao in the eastern city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, was accepted on the back of his score in China's fiendishly difficult and incredibly competitive national college entrance exam. But before his family could enjoy Rao's accomplishments, the college notified them he may not be able to attend because of his father's poor credit standing -- the father owed 200,000 RMB (about $30,000) to a local bank, and had been put on a blacklist dubbed the "lost trust list" for individuals with bad social standing, state media reported. Blacklists are a key feature of China's controversial "social credit system" -- a set of government programs that sets up both incentives and disincentives to encourage people to behave in socially desirable ways. Social credit in today's China involves government programs that collect and analyze data from different parts of people's lives, including their education history, compliance with traffic rules, criminal history and debt. It has raised serious concerns over individual privacy rights.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Nap lounge opens in New York City [Boing Boing]

Mattress company Casper opened The Dreamery in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. For $25, you get a 45 minute session in one of the nap pods. You can even borrow a pair of pajamas for your snooze. And of course after you pay for this demo of Casper mattresses, you can buy your very own at their shop just around the corner! From The Dreamery:

Uniquely designed for rest, each Nook is a perfectly private, quiet pod with the most comfortable bed imaginable (a Casper mattress, of course). All bedding is freshly laundered for each new dreamer.

The Nook also features:

• Auto-fading lights
• A pendant light for reading
• Sound absorbing back wall
• Ventilation for airflow
• A bedside shelf with outlets

(via Uncrate)

The secret history of Marxist alien hunters [Boing Boing]

From the early days of the Russian Revolution through the space race and Cold War, a small but dedicated collection of communist UFOlogists believed in and sought out signs of extraterrestrial life, believing that discovery aligned with their goals of raising up the worker. (more…)

The magical book art of fore-edge painting [Boing Boing]

For centuries, many fine books have held a magical secret not within their pages but on the edges. Stunning fore-edge paintings are only visible when the book's pages are slightly fanned. Great Big Story introduces us to Martin Frost, one of the world's last fore-edge painters.

Check out this massive fabric tree installed in the middle of a train station [Boing Boing]

Zurich's Main Station is currently home to an enormous public artwork: GaiaMotherTree, a huge knotted fabric tree with intimate space underneath where visitors can gather. (more…)

I don’t think I understand baseball anymore [Pharyngula]

I detest David Bentley Hart, everything he writes makes my lip curl in disgust, and his recent op-ed in the NY Times is no exception (although, given the downward trajectory in the quality of their opinion pages, that’s no surprise). It’s a hate piece, and the hyperbole is practically Lovecraftian in its florid descriptions of the target of his hatred. That target is…the New York Yankees. Jeez. I know that opinions of the Yankees tend to be passionate, but would you believe this is a description of a baseball game?

Not that the horror is easy to recall clearly. The trauma is too violent. Memory cringes, whines, tries to slink away. One recollects only a kaleidoscopic flux of gruesomely fragmentary impressions, too outlandish to be perfectly accurate, too vivid to be entirely false: nightmarish revenants from the dim haunts of the collective unconscious … monstrous, abortive shapes emerging from the abysmal murk of evolutionary history … things pre-hominid, even pre-mammalian … forms never quite resolving into discrete organisms, spilling over and into one another, making it uncertain where one ends and another begins. … It really is awful: ghastly glistening flesh … tentacles coiling and uncoiling, stretching and contracting … lidless orbicular eyes eerily waving on slender stalks … squamous hides, barbed quills, the unguinous sheen of cutaneous toxins … serrated tails, craggy horns, sallow fangs, gleaming talons … fragrances fungal and poisonous … sickly iridescences undulating across pallid, gelatinous underbellies or shimmering along slick, filmy scales. …

And what raucous yawps of elation they emit, like sea lions crying out in erotic transport. How languidly and grossly they intertwine with one another — how clumsily, lewdly, indiscriminately — like lascivious cephalopods merged in seething tangles of prehensile carnality. And somehow, without having to see, one knows things about them: that the categories “parent,” “sibling” and “mate” are only hazily delineated in their minds; that they suck nourishment from cellulose, heavy metals and cactus spines; that, should they grow hungry on the journey home from the game, they may pull over to the side of the road to devour their young. One simply knows. …

I take back the “almost” in “almost Lovecraftian”. Ol’ HP would be telling Hart to dial it back a notch if he were editing that bit. Also, if baseball was anything like that, I’d be at the stadium every weekend.

But there is one good paragraph — only one! — in the whole overwrought piece. This one.

America — with its decaying infrastructure, its third-world public transit, its shrinking labor market, its evaporating middle class, its expanding gulf between rich and poor, its heartless health insurance system, its mindless indifference to a dying ecology, its predatory credit agencies, its looming Social Security collapse, its interminable war, its metastasizing national debt and all the social pathologies that gave it a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist as its president — remains the only developed economy in the world that believes it wrong to use civic wealth for civic goods. Its absurdly engorged military budget diverts hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public weal to those who profit from the military-industrial complex. Its plutocratic policies and libertarian ethos are immune to all appeals of human solidarity. It towers over the world, but promises secure shelter only to the fortunate few.

Hart’s point, of course, is that America has become almost as evil as the New York Yankees. Almost.

I wonder if I can move to Scotland? [Pharyngula]

It seems to be one English-speaking* place that still has some sense.

*More or less, but that’s OK, because Scottish accents are a marvel.

With the right lens, I can reinterpret the world [Pharyngula]

I just stumbled across Making fists with your toes: Towards a feminist analysis of Die Hard. I am amused.

It gives me life when a certain sector of thin-skinned Nazis get sad about films I like. From Fury Road to Star Wars, their tears bring me joy. Since, like many other people, my favourite Christmas film is Die Hard, it is my intention to highlight how this film is in fact a celebration of femininity, and perhaps one could even call it feminist, for a rather Eighties value of feminism. Am I trolling? I don’t even know any more.

I don’t care if she is trolling. It’s an entertaining exercise to take a classic 1980s macho action movie, flip it over on its belly to get a completely different perspective, and then make penetrating reinterpretations of of its tropes, over and over again, until John McClane squeals and confesses to his inner femininity. I think it strains too hard and is a bit forced in places, but realistically, you’re not going to get Bruce Willis to surrender by being gentle with him.

Now I need a similar analysis of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. That stuff is fraught, and Bay has … issues.

How AT&T’s plan to become the new Facebook could be a privacy nightmare [The Verge - All Posts]

For years, AT&T and its primary competitor Verizon have looked green-eyed at the ballooning advertising revenues of Silicon Valley. Combined, Facebook and Google control more than half of the $88 billion digital advertising market in the US, and both account for around 90 percent of its growth. Digital advertising now surpasses TV advertising as the largest sector of the market.

Telecoms don’t just see those companies’ domination of digital media, social networking, and search as an existential threat. Facebook and Google have dabbled in becoming internet service providers, and they both control global, distributed communications networks. Entities like AT&T also see digital advertising as a lucrative and untapped market it can uniquely...

Continue reading…

This adorable robot wants to make air travel less stressful [The Verge - All Posts]

Finding your way through an airport can be an infuriating task. With cancellations, delays, and gate switches, you could find yourself running in circles forever before you board. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines wants to help make that jaunt from security to your gate a little less hectic with a little blue robot.

The robot, Care-E, will meet you at the security checkpoint and take you wherever you need to go with your carry-on luggage on its back. To start your trip with the robot, it will prompt you to scan your boarding pass through nonverbal sounds and cues on its screen. KLM will launch the device at New York’s JFK and San Francisco’s International airports before the company decides if it will provide the service elsewhere.

Care-E moves...

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Emporio Armani’s latest generation of Android smartwatches are available for preorder [The Verge - All Posts]

Emporio Armani makes Android-based smartwatches, which are all priced around the Apple Watch’s range. While Armani smartwatches lack a touchscreen and a variety of apps, they function like luxury Fitbits, connecting back to a health and exercise Armani app on iOS and Android.

Now, Armani is coming out with a new generation of Connected watches with touchscreens, the company announced today. Each of the watches will have a 1.19-inch AMOLED display and will be powered by the dated Snapdragon 2100 chip that’s been around since 2016. Even though they look somewhat analog with stainless steel bands, they have several smart features like Google Assistant and Google Pay capabilities, heart rate tracking, water resistance, and a built-in GPS...

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Skype’s desktop app is getting a new mobile-like design today [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft is once again redesigning its Skype app for Windows today. While the software giant released a universal app for Windows 10 users previously, the Skype classic desktop app is getting updated today with a new design that’s similar to the mobile version of Skype. Microsoft has been testing the new design over the past year, and it’s now planning to force all Skype classic desktop users to upgrade to the 8.0 version by September 1st.

The new classic desktop app for Skype includes many of the features from the Windows 10 or mobile versions. Microsoft has tweaked group chats to make it easier to share photos or screen sharing during calls. The new @ mentions, message reactions, notification panel features are also included, and...

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Skype is getting a call recording feature nearly 15 years after it launched [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft is finally adding call recording to Skype. Later this month, Skype will be updated to include built-in call recording. The new feature will be cloud-based, allowing you to access Skype call recordings across devices including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and even Linux. “Call recording is completely cloud-based, and as soon as you start recording, everyone in the call is notified that the call is being recorded,” explains Microsoft’s Skype team. “Call recordings combine everyone’s video as well as any screens shared during the call.”

The new call recording feature is the first time Skype has had built-in call recording since its original release nearly 15 years ago. Skype users have had to rely on a number of third-party apps to...

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Amazon might bring its Fire TV Edition smart TVs to the UK [The Verge - All Posts]

Amazon may bring its Fire TV Edition smart TVs to the UK, according to a report from The Telegraph. The publication claims that a set is currently being tested by the DTG (Digital TV Group), which sets the technical standards for digital terrestrial broadcasts in the UK.

Amazon currently offers its Fire TV Sticks in the UK, but the TV (if it actually comes to market) would mark the first time that the company would offer a full smart TV experience in the UK. Currently, Amazon only offers sets from Element, Insignia, and Toshiba with the Fire TV software preinstalled in the US. According to The Telegraph’s report, the new set for the UK is being developed by “a group of Chinese manufacturers including Huawei,” which would seem to indicate...

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11:00 EDT

The EU Would Very Much Like Airbnb To Know That the Rules Are Different in Europe [Slashdot]

Airbnb is facing fresh regulatory pressure in Europe. But this time it's not about the short-term home rental platform's core business model -- it's about its terms and conditions, and the way the company presents pricing to consumers. From a report: On Monday, the European Commission and a number of EU consumer watchdogs accused Airbnb of breaking consumer law. If the company does not change the way it operates by the end of August, then it could face legal action. Specifically, the regulators said Airbnb must show people total prices up-front that include all charges and fees, and it must clearly tell customers whether a property is being offered by a private host or a professional. The American company's terms and conditions are illegal under EU law for a variety of reasons, the regulators added. For example, the company tells people in the EU that they cannot sue a host in cases of personal harm or other damages, and it claims it can unilaterally change its terms and conditions without giving customers a warning and the option of cancelling their contracts. These sorts of terms might fly in the U.S., but they're banned in Europe.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Admits Prime Day Deals Not Necessarily the Cheapest [Slashdot]

Shoppers taking part in internet giant Amazon's Prime Day are being told that the deals on offer may not be the cheapest available. From a report: Amazon said it has never claimed that Prime Day is necessarily the cheapest time to shop on its site. It comes after consumer group Which? warned customers that apparent bargains are not always as good as they seem. It said some goods can actually be cheaper at other times of the year, and advised shoppers to do their research. The 36 hour sale -- aimed at subscribers to the Prime shopping service -- offers discounts on a range of goods. The deals are time-limited, with shoppers being told that some items are only available while stocks last.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Game review: Battletech [Boing Boing]

As a teenager in the early 1990s, I never really had friends, so much as close acquaintances. I’d see people at school. We’d laugh, maybe skip class from time to time. But I’d never see them on the weekends or in the evening. No one wanted anything to do with me. I was a spooky kid much as I’m now a spooky adult. It was unfortunate, then, that I had a love of tabletop gaming. Battletech was an obsession. Giant robots doing battle with one another on alien worlds? Tanks on legs! What’s not to like? I bought the wee lead miniatures for the game. I painted them up in my mercenary company’s colors. I read the tech manuals for them and the game’s rule books, constantly. Then, as I had no one to play with, I did nothing, with any of it. In 1998, I peed a little when a game called MechCommander was released. It let you kit out and command a lance of battlemechs and fight! But it was a real-time strategy—the experience I wanted was that of a table top game. Turns in table top games take time. Rules have to be double checked, movement is counted out in squares or hexes. Nerd country. 20 years later, Harebrained Schemes has finally given me the gaming experience I’ve always wanted with Battletech. It’s a turn-based combat game set in the Battletech universe. There are tanks on legs, there is tech jargon. You can ‘paint’ your ‘mechs in whatever colors you please. Best of all, I don’t need a single person to play the damn thing with. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsIMfOo_VO0[/embed] In the game, which offers enough of a storyline to give the skirmishes you fight in a sense of meaning, you play as the commander of a mercenary company operating in a backwater section of the galaxy. Signing on to assist a former patron retake her rightful place at the head of a sizable interplanetary government, you and your team of mechwarriors will grow in skill and, with luck, come to pilot heavier, more menacing battlemechs as the game progresses. Manage your company’s money, personnel and hardware right, and you’ll succeed. Misstep on any of these and you’re done. It’s a thing of beauty. Provided you find slow, methodical resource management and combat pretty. I know I do: I love how the game rewards players for understanding how to leverage the landscape and climate of a given combat zone. That the environment can change how efficiently your mechs operate during combat is a source of sadistic pleasure to me. The game’s UI is full of information—perhaps too much, at times—of what parts of your battlemechs have been damaged, where you’ve damaged the enemy, remaining ammunition, heat buildup in your war machines, whether your pilots have been injured and which weapons can be effectively fired at range. Line of site, indirect fire, blowback or instability caused by enduring a physical attacks—it’s all stuff that needs to be considered during a battle to see who comes out on top. If you do get through a mission with most of your assets intact, you’ll be paid well, be it in salvage of equipment from the field or in currency. Hopefully, it’s enough to keep your mercenary company going for another month. Overall, I really enjoyed playing BattleTech, with one caveat: my computer is, so far as gaming goes, a piece of crap. On a 2015 MacBook Pro, even while running Windows 10 on Bootcamp, load times and the spaces between turns felt like eras passing me by. That’s not the fault of the game: but I’m mentioning it as a warning to you: Just because your computer can run this game, it doesn’t mean it’ll run it well. That, despite having to turn the graphics all way down, I still stuck with it through its painfully slow gameplay, says a lot about Battletech. If you’re a fan of the Battletech universe, love turn-based combat or need a break from MMOs or shooters, I recommend it.

Help save artist Kal Spelletich's robots and the future of tech-art [Boing Boing]

For 25 years, my friend Kal Spelletich of Seemen and Survival Research Labs has lived and worked in a San Francisco warehouse studio where he's built myriad robots, fire machines, and sculptures, hosted music, art, and political action events, and provided support for more than 100 other artists, activists, and fringe characters. Guess what. Kal's been evicted. This is yet another gut punch for the Bay Area's creative community that inspired so many technologists but is now being eviscerated by today's big money tech bubble. Kal has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him push through: Save Kal's Robots

Rented way back in 1995, my space is was one of the last remaining raw warehouse art spaces and I made it into a home for experimental, non commercial art. I hosted jaw-dropping, fire spewing, ear shattering robot performances, music, noise and art events with the likes of Chris Johanson, Johanna Jackson, Marie Lornez and her epic boat, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Matt Heckert.

I did all this without grants or outside support.

No trust funds, patrons or high paying side jobs here. I passed along the cheap rent.

I provided housing and studios for countless artists, freaks, traveling activists and radical journalists like Trevor Paglen, AC Thompson, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, worked on Survival Research Laboratories shows, and countless others.

My life and warehouse were the inspiration for Rudy Rucker’s sci-fi novel Realware. Another book that wouldn't have happened without my warehouse is Streetopia.

I ran my studio as an experimental art/live space that housed and supported over 100 other artists and activists. All with NO grants, no outside support, no gallery sales and no renting to tech businesses. In 1995 when I moved in the street was dirt and littered with abandoned cars and homeless everywhere, prostitution rings and the truly disturbed and disadvantaged lurking to rob you.

It was the project that should have never worked: an artist supporting artists by sharing below market rent.

Yet the 25 year run of people, events, exhibits are a testament to art over commerce. Now, like virtually all other artists in San Francisco, I'm getting evicted.

I will keep making art. I will keep supporting others who make art and are active for change. Sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart for any support you can offer.

It has been a gift to share my space with so many amazing people. I’m looking ahead to how I can keep doing this for the next 25 years.

Save Kal's Robots

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRQYQRbJGHg

How to get started painting RPG miniatures without going broke [Boing Boing]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUJik07piGo

I love the Super Punch roundups of gorgeously painted role-playing game miniatures ganked from social media; they fill me with joy and envy, as I've always been an enthusiastic, if not very talented, miniature painter. (more…)

Carmaker claims these weird-looking glasses eliminate motion sickness [Boing Boing]

I get horrible motion sickness sometimes, so I'd LOVE to believe that these glasses actually do what they claim.

Gizmodo:

The engineers at Citroën have apparently thrown almost 100 years of French design refinement out the window with a new product you don’t drive, but will improve your motoring experience. The carmaker’s new Seetroën glasses won’t win you any style points, but Citroën claims the glasses will eliminate any motion sickness you’re feeling after wearing them for just 10 minutes.

...So how are these goofy glasses supposed to alleviate the problem? The frames feature something called Boarding Ring technology, developed by a company of the same name, which is marketing-talk for ‘they’re filled with liquids that are free to slosh around’. The Seetroën glasses have four liquid-filled rings that, thanks to gravity, simulate the angle and movements of the horizon so that the motions of the blue-dyed liquids seen by the wearer’s eyes match what their inner ear is detecting.

The best part? After about 10-12 minutes you DON'T have to wear them anymore. You'll have adjusted to the motion and can go about your day looking less nerdy.

A pair will sell for about $115 when they come available.

(bookofjoe)

Record numbers of Americans believe climate change is real, and a majority understand that humans are to blame [Boing Boing]

Amidst a global heatwave, some good news from the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment: a record-setting 73% of Americans believe that climate change is real and 60% believe humans are "at least partially responsible" for this fact. It's the peak indifference moment, when the fight shifts from convincing people that there is a problem to convincing them that it's not too late to do something about it.

Translucent backlit fruit slices as fine art [Boing Boing]

Dennis Wojtkeiwicz paints large-format works of thinly sliced fruit for his Rosettes series, revealing the elegant beauty and symmetry of nature. (more…)

10:00 EDT

Britain joins the microlaunch space race with a new rocket and spaceport [Ars Technica]

Orbex/Anders Bøggild

The United Kingdom has entered the race to develop low-cost, high-volume rockets for small satellites. Orbex, a British-based company with subsidiaries and production facilities in Denmark and Germany, announced Monday that it has raised $40 million from public and private sources to develop what it is calling the "Prime" launch vehicle.

The company intends to launch Prime from a new spaceport—also just announced—that will be located in Northern Scotland. This facility would be the first commercial vertical launch site in the United Kingdom and represents a significant investment in rocket infrastructure by the British government after decades of dormancy.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Roku wants to grab audiophiles with its new wireless speakers for Roku TVs [Ars Technica]

Roku

Roku focuses heavily on its licensing programs, which allow OEMs to make TVs, soundbars, and other devices that use Roku software and work seamlessly with Roku devices. But now, Roku's getting into the audio business with an in-house product: the company announced the Roku TV Wireless Speakers today, a set of two HomePod-esque speakers designed to work exclusively with Roku TVs. It also developed the new Roku Touch tabletop voice remote that some users may find more useful and less intrusive than Amazon's Alexa.

While the tech specs of the speakers haven't been released yet, we know how they'll connect to and work with Roku TVs. The speaker set pairs wirelessly with Roku TVs via Roku Connect, and, thanks to built-in software that works with Roku OS, the speakers will sync up with whatever you're watching on the smart TV. Roku told Ars in a briefing that the speakers will play optimized audio from anything connected to the paired Roku TV, including cable boxes, antennas, and even Bluetooth devices like your smartphone.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Motivated Reasoning vs Lazy Thinking [NeuroLogica Blog]

A new study takes another look at partisan motivated reasoning, with surprising (sort of) results. The study shows that as interested critical thinkers, we need to keep up with the psychological research about critical thinking.

First some background – motivated reasoning refers to the tendency to rationalize a defense of a position that we hold with some emotional investment, and reject counter-evidence. If a certain belief is part of our tribal identity, or has emotional significance, we react differently to relevant facts than when a belief is emotionally neutral. For neutral beliefs, we happily update what we believe when new credible information is presented to us. I don’t really care if Thomas Edison invented the light bulb or stole part of the design from Joseph Swan (he did, but he made important improvements also) – whatever the historical data says, I will happily believe. But if someone claimed that George Washington really wanted to be made king of America but was forced to accept a lesser role (he didn’t, I just made that up), I might be motivated to push back just out of patriotism.

Psychologists have been studying this phenomenon for years, and are discovering that it is a real thing, but it’s complicated (that should be no surprise). There is a general challenge with psychological studies that human behavior is complex and opaque, and they resort to using constructs and markers to reveal specific phenomena. How do you test motivated reasoning? First you have to separate people into groups based on some feature that should impact their motivation, such as ideology, religion, or political affiliation. Then challenge their beliefs and see how they respond.

Many studies have shown that when you do this, ideology matters. There is even a possible backlash effect, where motivated believers dig in their heels, but this effect is controversial and may be very small.

We have gone beyond such constructs, and we can see that brains react differently to claims in line with our politics than those opposed to them. More of the brain is engaged, including the emotional centers, when motivated reasoning is triggered.

So far, so good – but, there is still the problem that psychological markers are subject to confounding factors. Remember the marshmallow test. For years psychologists used a child’s ability to defer eating a marshmallow when promised even more marshmallows if they could wait, as a measure of self-control. More recent studies, however, suggest the behavior may also have to do with trust (will those adults really come back with two marshmallows?). Learned behavior (manners) may also play a role.

Are there any confounding factors with motivated reasoning research? It would be foolish to assume there weren’t.

This all brings us to the current research – psychologists used fake news headlines to test subjects’ motivated reasoning. They tested subject to tell fake vs real news headlines, and the headlines were either in line with their political ideology or against it. But they added a new element, they also tested the subjects’ cognitive style. This adds yet another construct, and therefore another layer of possible confounding factors, but they used a fairly well-established test of “cognitive reflection.”

In cognitive reflection tests (CRTs) subjects are given problems that have an immediate gut answer that is wrong, but a more thorough and analytical approach should reveal the real answer. Here is a classic test: “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” The immediate intuitive answer is $0.10, but this is wrong. The ball costs $0.05, which means the bat costs $1.05 ($1.00 more), for a total of $1.10.

The researchers used similar CRTs to measure subject’s intuitive (which they called “lazy” thinking in their title) vs analytical thinking. Their question was – how does their score on CRTs predict their ability to sniff out fake headlines, vs how much does alleged motivated reasoning affect their ability? Here are the results:

We find that CRT performance is negatively correlated with the perceived accuracy of fake news, and positively correlated with the ability to discern fake news from real news – even for headlines that align with individuals’ political ideology. Moreover, overall discernment was actually better for ideologically aligned headlines than for misaligned headlines. Finally, a headline-level analysis finds that CRT is negatively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively implausible (primarily fake) headlines, and positively correlated with perceived accuracy of relatively plausible (primarily real) headlines. In contrast, the correlation between CRT and perceived accuracy is unrelated to how closely the headline aligns with the participant’s ideology.

So in this construct, “lazy” thinking was a better predictor of identifying fake news than biased partisan thinking. That is pretty surprising given all the prior research showing that partisan thinking is a strong predictor.

More research is needed to confirm these results and resolve conflicts with other constructs looking at the same phenomena. It’s possible that when people are challenged, they are more on the defensive, and may in fact be more alert if they are being told something that is in line with their ideology, because that is exactly how someone would try to fool them. No one will try to fool me by telling me something I don’t believe or want to believe anyway. They will fool me by telling me something they think I want to hear.

The precise details of how the study was conducted, how alert the subjects were to the real purpose of the study, and how clever the fake headlines were all matter. Therefore I don’t think we can generalize from this one study, and independent replication is critical. Researches also have to think carefully about the construct, and try to break it by identifying confounding factors.

However this turns out, the story of motivated reasoning is a fascinating and important one. Hopefully it will continue to receive attention from researchers.

 

 

What Steve Jobs thought about consulting [Boing Boing]

Jobs liked people who stuck around to be responsible for their decisions.

Old brushes repurposed as felted animal sculptures [Boing Boing]

Northumbrian needle felt artist Simon Brown turns old worn out brushes and other household items into bases for his charming creatures. (more…)

On the haute couture runway: Ankle smartphone holsters [Boing Boing]

Maison Margiela, the fashion house who made those let's-make-this-awkward camel-toe pumps, debuted ankle iPhone holsters recently on the Couture Fashion Week runway. Maybe they were going for the modern version of these? https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk-e3E0nxRz/?taken-by=maisonmargiela https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk0Eg4-nZPG/?utm_source=ig_embed

(Geekologie)

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