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Trippy shots of Asian cities with a fractal lens

Steve Roe is a street photographer who specializes in stylized shots of Asian cities at night. He's been experimenting with some crowdfunded fractal lenses that add neat effects. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 10:00 am

Alex Jones threatens Sandy Hook parents with cease and desist orders if they don't stop "assaulting" him

In January 2015 Alex Jones said on a video that "Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors. I mean they even ended up using photos of kids killed in mass shootings here in a fake mass shooting in Turkey -- so yeah, or Pakistan. The sky is now the limit."

In December 2014, Jones claimed that the mass shooting was "a giant hoax."

Today, Alex Jones posted a threat to the parents of Sandy Hook who dare to repeat what Jones has said: "At a certain point," he says, "do cease and desist letters have to go out? With a letter and videos and everything so it's all on record? ... You see, *I'm* the one whose under assault, *I'm* the one whose being misrepresented."

In a video posted on Twitter, Alex Jones threatens Sandy Hook parents with cease and desist letters if they keep talking about his conspiracy theories https://t.co/NWakPz7xMg pic.twitter.com/WlEKBV7wQh

— Media Matters (@mmfa) August 14, 2018

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 9:51 am

Heartbreaking documentary on London's North Korean enclave

Little Pyongyang made the festival rounds and his been picked up by The Guardian. It tells the story of how one soldier made his way to Europe's largest community of North Korean nationals after escaping the brutal regime.

Joong-wha Choi, a former soldier in North Korea, lives today with his wife and children in a sleepy London suburb, home to Europe's biggest North Korean population. Despite enjoying the new found comforts of his British life, and being emancipated from the pressures of the North Korean state, he has a desire to return to the land that betrayed him, and feels like his true home. Joong-wha reflects on both why he left North Korea and the state of his day to day life over the course of several months, in a portrait of loss, longing, and the complexities of healing from trauma.

Here's a nice Q&A with the filmmakers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vdy_nQjO6ZI

Little Pyongyang (YouTube / The Guardian)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 8:00 am

Drunk NYPD cop shouted racial slurs at family after breaking into their home thinking it was his AirBnB

NYPD officer Michael Reynolds is under investigation after allegedly breaking into a Nashville home and drunkenly terrorizing its occupants, threatening youngsters and shouting racial slurs. He thought it was his AirBnB, supposedly.

Surveillance video, obtained by Eyewitness News from ABC affiliate WGRB, captures a man's voice shouting, "Try to shoot me, I'll break every bone in your F****** neck. You F****** N******."

A Nashville police report described the suspect as a white male, with buzzed blond hair and blue eyes.

Witness statements logged in the report further described the suspect as "heavily intoxicated and disoriented."

A mistake anyone could make.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:39 am

Disney (yes, Disney) declares war on "overzealous copyright holders"

Disney is being sued by the Michael Jackson estate for using fair-use clips in a biopic called "The Last Days of Michael Jackson" -- in its brief, the company decries "overzealous copyright holders" whose unwillingness to consider fair use harms "the right of free speech under the First Amendment." (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:38 am

Qanon "codes" are consistent with an English-speaker mashing a QWERTY keyboard

Qanon (previously) is an eye-wateringly stupid far-right conspiracy theory whose proponents spend hours trying to decode alleged ciphertexts created by the cult's leader or leaders. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:12 am

To rescue journalism, journalists must collaborate to defend free expression, not merely condemning Trump

Dan Gillmor (previously) writes that journalism is at a crisis point, as authoritarian politicians (including, but not limited to, Trump) step up their attacks on the free press, even assassinating their sharpest critics. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:04 am

Pizza delivery man plays Beethoven for customers

For dinner, the Varchetti family ordered a pepperoni pizza from Hungry Howie’s.

When the 18 year old delivery man arrived at their home, he gave them the pizza, saw the piano in the foyer, and asked if he could play it.

For the next ninety seconds, he played the third movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata from memory.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:03 am

This colorful homage to classic desktops could occupy you for hours

Mariano Pascual has created a delightful nod to classic desktop layouts for his new site, but it's updated with all kinds of colorful bells, whistles, and Easter eggs. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 7:00 am

Brush pens are fun and on sale today $4 for a pair

Brush pens are fun for drawing and lettering because you can vary the line thickness. And unlike a brush, which requires frequent dipping into an inkwell, a brush pen is always loaded with ink (until the barrel runs out, that it.) This Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen includes one hard tip and one soft tip. I bought them last year for $7 but they are on sale on Amazon right now for just $4 for both pens. My set is still good but at this price I bought another.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:40 am

Leaked FBI memo warns banks of looming "unlimited ATM cashout"

When scammers get inside of the networks of financial institutions, they sometimes stage "cashouts" where they recruit confederates around the world to all hit ATMs at the same time with cards tied to hacked accounts and withdraw the maximum the ATMs will allow; but the wilier criminals first disable the anti-fraud and withdrawal maximum features in the banks' systems, enabling confederates to drain ATMs of all the cash they contain. This is called an "unlimited cashout." (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:32 am

This is the way to sell bananas - a pack with a spectrum of ripeness levels

T.K. of the AskAKorean Twitter account says: "Genius at work. E-mart in Korea is now selling the 'One a Day Banana' pack, containing several bananas of different ripeness so that you can eat them over several days.

Genius at work. E-mart in Korea is now selling the "One a Day Banana" pack, containing several bananas of different ripeness so that you can eat them over several days. https://t.co/VWEkSsE1my pic.twitter.com/V2uLRLKpwL

— T.K. of AAK! (@AskAKorean) August 6, 2018

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:08 am

How politics became our identity

Dinner parties used to be where you avoided politics. Now talking about politics at dinner parties is the norm.

Years ago, we avoided politics because we assumed the people at our table had diverse political identities, and we didn’t want to introduce a topic that might lead to an argument. Today, we assume our guests share a single identity, after all, why else would we have invited them?

Something has changed in the United States, and for many of us, it’s only at Thanksgiving dinner, a gathering where we don’t get to sort ourselves by political tribe, that we must face people who see the world differently than ourselves.

In this episode, we spend time with political scientist Lilliana Mason who discusses this in her new book, Uncivil Agreement, in which she says we actually agree about most things, and strangely, “our conflicts are over who we think we are, rather than reasoned differences of opinion.”

As Mason explains, “Our opinions can be very fluid, so fluid that if we wanted to come to a compromise we could, if there were not these pesky identities in the way. We can’t come to a compromise because our identities are making us want to take positions as far away from the other side as possible. What that means is that we are trying to look like we disagree in order to defend our identity and our sense of difference from other people.”

As an example, Mason says that six months ago 99 percent of Americans would have said that, of course, children should not be separated from their parents. Now that the issue is politicized, people claim to feel differently, but in reality, it’s only tribal signaling at play. If their party were to ask them to express their true feelings, they would. They’ve become trapped by tribe.

“Our actual opinions, our levels of agreement, are different than what we are willing to accept our government to do because we don’t want to feel like our party is losing,” explains Mason in the show.

Lilliana Mason is professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland where she researches partisan identity, partisan bias, social sorting, and American social polarization. She is the author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and National Public Radio.

Her book outlines how we’ve moved away from issue-based polarization and entered a new realm of identity-based polarization. As long as the identity divide is maintained, we will behave more like warring tribes than a unified nation of people who have different values and ideas about what policies should be enacted.

According to Mason, “Right now, we’re telling ourselves a story about a war that’s going on in our country, and it’s only making the war worse.”

Links and Sources

TranscriptDownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

Previous Episodes

Lilliana Mason on Twitter

Papers mentioned:

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Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:00 am

Watch how to make a pixellated avatar using an actual photo

Kensuke Koike demonstrates a cool visual trick involving an evenly-punched hard copy of an image turned into a regognizable avatar. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 6:00 am

Trump campaign going after Omarosa for millions of dollars

Get the popcorn.

The Trump campaign organization has filed for arbitration against Omarosa Manigault-Newman, claiming she violated a 2016 non-disclosure agreement. The former reality show contestant/White House staffer has been blanketing the media with secret recordings she made during the 2016 campaign and while she worked in the Oval Office.

From The Washington Examiner:

In a statement, a campaign official said, “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. has filed an arbitration against Omarosa Manigault-Newman, with the American Arbitration Association in New York City, for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign.”

The official added, “President Trump is well known for giving people opportunities to advance in their careers and lives over the decades, but wrong is wrong, and a direct violation of an agreement must be addressed and the violator must be held accountable,” added the official.

Things have become increasingly nasty between the President and Manigault-Newman, with Trump praising General Kelly, his chief-of-staff for "firing that dog."

Image: CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 5:52 am

Predatory journals aren't just a scam: they're also how quacks and corporate shills sciencewash their bullshit

Inside the Fake Science Factory (German/English subtitles) documents Svea Eckert and team's years of investigation into predatory journals and the criminals behind them. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 5:49 am

Lyft charges man $150 for vomit clean-up, his wife proves it's a fraud

Vomit fraud is when a Lyft or Uber driver fraudulently charges a passenger $100 or more to clean up puke (or other body fluids). Lyft and Uber have a low burden of proof a driver -- they only require a photo of the vomit, which is easily faked with some kind of gloppy food.

WDAY AM radio in North Dakota has a story about a man who was scammed by a vomit fraud Lyft driver and how his wife did some amateur sleuthing to prove the driver was crooked.

Ricky Marquart took a 13-minute Lyft ride home early one morning. The bill was for $9.01, plus $150 for "Lyft Damage." There was no other explanation. Marquart assured his wife, Tiffany, that he didn't cause any damage to the car. She contacted Lyft, which sent her three photos of what the driver claimed was vomit.

She told WDAY: "I looked at the pictures closely and said, 'That looks like nacho cheese sauce on the outside and puff popcorn and something else on the inside,'"Tiffany said. "I asked Ricky again, 'Are you sure you didn't eat anything on the ride home?' He said he didn't."

Tiffany studied the photos and recognized the part of town where the photos were taken. It was a Holiday Stationstore. She called the manager and asked if he could view the security video at 2:50 a.m. Sunday morning, and tell her what he saw. The manager told WDAY what he saw on the video:

"It was easy since she had the time narrowed down. So I started looking and almost immediately I see the vehicle pull up to the store. The driver gets out, comes in and buys nachos, puff popcorn and Mott's applesauce. He goes back out and, it gets tougher to see what he's doing because of the camera angle, but you can see him moving around, making motions. Then flashes go off, like he's taking pictures. He opens the door to the back seat and same thing, some flashes go off. He has an unlimited car wash pass, which he showed when he bought the items. So he gets in the vehicle and goes through the car wash. It's all there on tape."

When Tiffany emailed Lyft to tell them what happened, it did not reply. Tiffany then reached out to WDAY's Mike McFeely, who contacted Lyft. A spokeswoman for Lyft, Kate Margolis, doubled down on its insistence that Ricky threw up in and on the Lyft driver's car:

"Lyft's support team thoroughly investigates damage incidents, and makes a determination based on the available evidence on a case by case basis. Our support team gathers and reviews evidence — which can include statements from all parties, photographs, prior feedback, and more. We make a determination based on the evidence provided."

But shortly after this defiant response, the Marquarts got an email from Lyft that took a different tone:

"This sort of behavior by a driver is a violation of our Terms of Service and is something we absolutely do not tolerate in the Lyft community. I have ensured that you were promptly refunded for the $150 fee. Please know that the concerns brought to our attention have been investigated, and that I followed up with this driver to take the appropriate and necessary actions."

To sum up:

Ricky Marquart: no vomit

Lyft Driver: Vomitous human being

Lyft: Vomitous customer service

Tiffany Marquart: American hero

Image: Fun Inc. Whoops Fake Vomit

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 5:41 am

The platforms control our public discourse, and who they disconnect is arbitrary and capricious

Look, I'm as delighted as you are to see Alex Jones' ability to spread hatred curtailed -- because in a world where all the important speech takes place online, and where online speech is owned by four or five companies, being kicked off of Big Tech's services is likely to be an extinction-level event. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 5:24 am

This guy takes coin carving to the next level

Carving and reshaping coins, often called hobo nickels, is a classic art form that is getting an update by Russian artisan Roman Booteen. Some even have mechanisms added: (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 5:00 am

None of the Above won the 2016 election

Pew's latest very detailed survey of voting patterns in 2016 goes the extra mile, by validating whether recipients actually cast a ballot, thus forming a picture of who voted, who didn't, and what policies nonvoters favored. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:48 am

In his quest to make a camera from scratch, this guy extracted silver from ore

https://youtu.be/W2PMQOk7oDU

Andy from How to Make Everything is on a mission to make a photograph from scratch. What that means is that he is going to make a camera and a photographic plate from raw materials (like wood, minerals, and ore) that he's gathered. In this video, Andy extracts five grams of silver from ore he collected, which can be used as the light-sensitive coating for a photographic plate.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:41 am

Actress Nina Dobrev explains Bulgarian slang

Bulgarian-Canadian actress Nina Dobrev, who was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and moved to Canada at age two, stars in the most recent episode of Vanity Fair's Slang School video series.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:26 am

The Kids in the Hall warned us about Russia but we wouldn't listen

Good God. We should have listened to Dave Foley. He knew the score for YEARS before election tampering and a compromised government were even glints in Vladimir Putin's eye. Aside from the fact that the Russians are no longer Communists? Dead. On. I guess that means we should start preparing for a killer bee attack.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:24 am

English and Welsh local governments use "terrorism" as the excuse to block publication of commercial vacancies

Gavin Chait is an "economist, engineer, data scientist and author" who created a website called Pikhaya where UK entrepreneurs can get lists of vacant commercial properties, their advertised rents, and the history of the businesses that had previously been located in those spaces -- whether they thrived, grew and moved on, or went bust (maybe because they had a terrible location). (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:17 am

11-year-old hacks replica of Florida's state election website in less than ten minutes

Can we please have paper ballots nationwide? Last week at DEFCON 26 in Las Vegas, eleven-year-old Emmett Brewer hacked into a replica of Florida's state election site and changed the voting results. That's scary enough. What's even scarier is that it took him less than ten minutes. An eleven-year-old girl was able to hack into the same site in about fifteen minutes. And more than THIRTY kids were able to hack into replicas of other states' sites in less than half an hour. That is straight up alarming and you'd think the folks in charge of our state and federal elections would be concerned about this and want to take immediate action. That would be the normal reaction. But we're a long way from normal.
In a statement regarding the event, the National Association of Secretaries of State said it is “ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections.” But the organization expressed skepticism over the hackers’ abilities to access the actual state websites. “It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols,” it read. “While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.”’
I'm sure we'll be fine, though. Congress is hard at work to protect the sanctity of our elections to ensure we don't have a repeat of 2016. Oh, wait. No, they're not. An 11-year-old changed election results on a replica Florida state website in under 10 minutes [Michael D. Regan/PBS][Image: Pixabay]

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:15 am

Manafort lawyers rest case without presenting a defense

Why bother? "Breaking: Paul Manafort's team will not present a case nor call any witnesses in his defense. The defense rested at 11:53 am" https://twitter.com/jimsciutto/status/1029396756180750337

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:08 am

Watch this soothing and sumptuous video of brightly-colored substances interacting

Artist and designer Rus Khasanov (previously) has created a bright and highly-detailed montage of colors colliding. What really sets this apart is the beautiful music by Dmitry Evgrafov. (more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 4:00 am

EBGAP: Error Between Google and Privacy

(more…)

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 3:58 am

Tourist families feud over selfie spot at Rome's Trevi Fountain

An American woman (44) and a Dutch woman (19) started fighting over a prime selfie spot at Rome's Trevi Fountain. Their families sooned joined the melee, battering and screaming at one another in outraged indignation. Police intervened but as you can see in this video, were unable to control the louts.

From the KOOT NITI news channel:

Eight people were reportedly charged over violence that involved minor bruising. This came days after officials announced plans to make tourists walk past the monument on a designated pathway to address overcrowding.

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 3:57 am

The story of one man's obsessive search for the lost treasure of Cocos Island

Cocos Island, in the eastern Pacific, was rumored to hold buried treasure worth millions of dollars, but centuries of treasure seekers had failed to find it. That didn’t deter August Gissler, who arrived in 1889 with a borrowed map and an iron determination. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Gissler’s obsessive hunt for the Treasure of Lima. We’ll also marvel at the complexity of names and puzzle over an undead corpse. Show notes Please support us on Patreon!

Posted on 15 August 2018 | 3:51 am