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30 Jul 13:19

birdandmoon: I redrew an old comic, and Topatoco made it into a...

firehose

via Matthew Koch

30 Jul 08:04

Timbaland reckons Missy Elliott’s new single is a “game-changer”

by Brad O'Mance
firehose

via Matthew Connor
MISSY~

missy_elliott_horse-1

According to Timbaland, ’9th Inning’ hitmaker Missy Elliott’s new single, which is produced by one Timothy Z Mosley, is a “game-changer”.

“It’s coming,” he confirmed to Rolling Stone when asked about the single’s whereabouts. ”It’s on her. She got the first single, it’s just a matter of when she wants to do it. We got the hollow-tip bullet in the gun. We have the game-changer right there.”

Asked to describe it in more detail, he added: ”It’s something you ain’t never heard Missy do. It sounds today, but the future.”

Banjo and a donk then.

30 Jul 01:33

Why don't OKCupid's experiments bother us like Facebook's did?

by Tim Carmody
firehose

'Facebook is the safe baby internet, with our real friends and family sending us real messages. OKC is more internet than the internet, with creeps and jerks and catfishers with phony avatars. So Facebook messing with us feels like a bigger betrayal.'

'Facebook feels "mandatory" in a way that OKCupid doesn't. It's a bigger company with a bigger reach that plays a bigger part in more people's lives. As Sam Biddle wrote on Twitter, "Facebook is almost a utility at this point. It's like ConEd fucking with us." '

popular shared this story from kottke.org.

Hi, everybody! Tim Carmody here, guest-hosting for Jason this week.

OK Cupid's Christian Rudder has responded to the outcry over Facebook's experiments with user emotions by... publishinga list of experiments that the dating site has run on its users, along with their results.

And it's not little stuff either! To test its matching algorithms, OKC has selectively hidden users' profile images, their profile text, and even told pairs of users they were a good match when the algo said they weren't, and vice versa.

In short, Facebook may have hid stuff from you, but OK Cupid might have actually lied to you.

But... nobody's really upset about this. Or if they are, they're mostly just upset (or dryly observing, it's hard to tell) that other people aren't upset.

Why? I have some theories:

  1. It's early yet. It took the Facebook story some time to steep before it really picked up steam.
  2. OKC users are less likely to be troubled by this sort of thing than Facebook users are. And people get more upset when they feel like they personally might have been messed with. Hilary Parker pointed out that non-online daters are less likely to get upset on online daters' behalf: even if you don't actively look down on OKC users (and many do), you might be more likely to think they got what they deserved. OK Cupid has a history of disclosing these kinds of numbers, and there's a laissez-faire attitude towards users gaming accounts for their own purposes.
  3. We trust Facebook in a way we don't trust OKC. Facebook is the safe baby internet, with our real friends and family sending us real messages. OKC is more internet than the internet, with creeps and jerks and catfishers with phony avatars. So Facebook messing with us feels like a bigger betrayal.
  4. OKC's matching algorithm may be at least as opaque as Facebook's news feed, but it's clearer to users that site matches and views are generated using about being an algorithm. Reportedly, 62 percent of Facebook users weren't aware that Facebook's news feed was filtered by an algorithm at all. (That study has a small sample size, but still, we can infer that lots of Facebook users have no idea.)
  5. The results of OKC's experiments are less troubling. Facebook's study showed that our posting behavior (and maybe our feelings) were pretty susceptible to manipulation without a whole lot of effort. OKC's results seemed more complimentary. Sure, lots of people on dating sites are shallow, and sometimes you may have ended end up in longer conversations than you might like with incompatible people, but good matches seem to find a way to connect no matter what OKC tells us! So... the algorithm works and I guess we can trust what they tell us? My head hurts. (Jess Zimmerman adds that part of the Facebook intervention was deliberately designed to cause harm, by making people unhappy, at least as mediated through their posts. The difference here depends on whether you think trying to match you up with someone incompatible might be causing them harm.
  6. The tone of the OKC post is just so darned charming. Rudder is casual, self-deprecating. It's a blog post! Meanwhile, Facebook's "emotional contagion" scholarly paper was chillingly matter-of-fact. In short, the scientism of the thing just creeped us the fuck out.
  7. This is related to the tone issue, but OKC seems to be fairly straightforward about why it performed the experiment: they didn't understand whether or how their matching algorithm was working, and they were trying to figure that out to make it better. Facebook seemed to be testing user's emotional expressions partly to solve a scholarly dispute and partly just to see if they could. And most of the practical justifications folks came up with for the Facebook study were pretty sinister: tricky folks into posting more often, into clicking on ads, into buying stuff. (Really, both experiments are probably a mix of product testing and shooting frogs for kicks, but the perception seems to be different.)
  8. The Facebook study had an added wrinkle in that academics were involved in designing the study and writing it up. This raised all sorts of factual and ethical issues about university institutional review boards and the responsibility of the journal's editors and publishers that don't seem to be relevant here. I mean, maybe SOMEbody should be veryifying that experiments done on human subjects are ethical, whether it's in a university, medical, or government context or not, but it's not like someone may have been asleep at the switch. Here, there is no switch.
  9. Maybe we're all just worn out. Between Facebook, this, Uber ratings, and god knows what, even if you're bothered by this kind of experimentation, it's more difficult to stay angry at any one company. So some people are jaded, some people would rather call attention to broader issues and themes of power, and some people are just tired. There's only so many times you can say "see? THIS! THIS is what I've been telling you about!" or "I can't believe you're surprised by this" before you're just like, ¯\_(?)_/¯.

I don't agree with all of these explanations, and all of them feel a little thin. But maybe for most of us, those little scraps of difference are enough.

Update: Here's a tenth reason that I thought of and then forgot until people brought up variations of it on Twitter: Facebook feels "mandatory" in a way that OKCupid doesn't. It's a bigger company with a bigger reach that plays a bigger part in more people's lives. As Sam Biddle wrote on Twitter, "Facebook is almost a utility at this point. It's like ConEd fucking with us."

Tags: FacebookOKCupid
29 Jul 23:14

35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

by Soulskill
New submitter meeotch writes: According to a new study by the Urban Institute, 35% of U.S. adults with a credit history (91% of the adult population of the U.S.) have debt "in collections" — a status generally not acquired until payments are at least 180 days past due. Debt problems seem to be worse in the South, with states hovering in the 40%+ range, while the Northeast has it better, at less than 30%. The study's authors claim their findings actually underrepresent low-income consumers, because "adults without a credit file are more likely to be financially disadvantaged." Oddly, only 5% of adults have debt 30-180 days past due. This latter fact is partially accounted for by the fact that a broader range of debt can enter "in collections" status than "past due" status (e.g. parking tickets)... But also perhaps demonstrates that as one falls far enough along the debt spiral, escape becomes impossible. Particularly in the case of high-interest debt such as credit cards — the issuers of which cluster in states such as South Dakota, following a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that found that states' usury laws did not apply to banks headquartered in other states. Even taking into account the folks who lost a parking ticket under their passenger seat, 35% is a pretty shocking number. Anyone have other theories why this number is so much higher than the 5% of people who are just "late"? How about some napkin math on the debt spiral?

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30 Jul 16:17

Blink and You’ll Miss Kacy Catanzaro’s Assassin’s Creed Unity Comic-Con Obstacle Course Run - Ezio who?

by Victoria McNally
firehose

'Worth noting?: the best time on the course before Kacy ran it? It was by Gamespot’s Anna Prosser. But yeah, women make terrible assassins. Boo us!'

Time challenges will forever be the worst part of any Assassin’s Creed game—unless we were able to move as fast as American Ninja Warrior Kacy Catanzaro does in this new real-time SDCC footage from Gamespot, of course. Maybe that’s why Unity didn’t want to include playable female assassins in AC: Unity; they’re too hard to animate because they’re so much better at running around than the male characters are and the game would be over too quickly.

Worth noting?: the best time on the course before Kacy ran it? It was by Gamespot’s Anna Prosser. But yeah, women make terrible assassins. Boo us!

Previously in Mighty Kacy

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30 Jul 16:27

Peter Capaldi Put His Foot Down on Flirting and Costumes, Is Apparently in Charge of Doctor Who - All aboard the Capaldi train. Choo f***ity choo!

by Dan Van Winkle
firehose

I hope this means Capaldi is taking over as showrunner next season. or in 2019 or whenever moffat's contract with corg/bbc runs out

 

doctor-who-capaldi

As the series 8 premiere in August rapidly approaches, more details keep dropping about how Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will change Doctor Who, especially if you’ve been looking at the recent leaks. If not, let Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Steven Moffat tell you what the show will be like under Capaldi’s iron fist—and, of course, more talk of Peter Jackson directing an episode.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Capaldi said he laid down the law on his Doctor’s romantic behavior. He said, “There’ll be no flirting, that’s for sure. It’s not what this Doctor’s concerned with. It’s quite a fun relationship, but no, I did call and say, ‘I want no [flirty] moments’. I think there was a bit of tension with that at first, but I was absolutely adamant.” (Expletives and Moffat’s cowering-in-fear deleted, I imagine.)

We’ve been promised in the past that things would be different for the Doctor in a coming season with nothing really coming of it, but it’s encouraging to hear that Capaldi put his foot down on how he’d like to portray the character. It sounds like they picked the right actor for the job if things are really going to change this time around.

Indeed, it really does sound like we’re finally going to get a different tone for the character, as Jenna Coleman added in an Empire magazine interview, “With Matt’s Doctor [Clara] felt quite safe, really. She knew she’d be caught if she was in danger, but this guy is a lot less human-friendly and a lot less patient. He’s more removed and inaccessible.” And Capaldi sounds like he intends to keep it that way—even down to his uninviting look.

Moffat talked to SFX about the “grey-haired stick insect,” saying,

[Capaldi] wanted to be quite stark. Stark and skinny. A stick-insect sort of thing. Clara actually calls him a grey-haired stick-insect at one point. We had some hilarious pictures of Peter just dressing up. It was all coming from him because he’s really into his clothes. I didn’t feel qualified to go and chat too much about it. Certainly the costume didn’t go anywhere until I shut up. The thing I’ve learned about showrunning is you need to know the bits you’re bad at!

In other words, Capaldi is basically in charge of Doctor Who now. Get on board or get out of the way.

Then, of course, there’s more news that Peter Jackson will probably get to direct an episode of Doctor Who eventually. At this point, it sounds like a done deal and just a matter of scheduling, so maybe he just can’t find the time to stretch that one episode into three? Jackson himself said that he finally feels ready to work within TV’s “impossibly tiny” schedules, but Moffat told SFX,

He’s still incredibly busy on The Hobbit. I’ve spoken to him face to face, and he would like to do one. He accepts that there’s no money and that there’s no time, and it would have to be when he’s available—and I don’t think he’s even been available enough to answer our emails of late!

So a Peter Jackson-directed episode is pretty much going to happen—it’s just a matter of when. Although, it’s starting to sound like the answer might be, “Whenever Capaldi damn well tells us it’s OK.”

(via Daily Dot, io9, Digital Spy)

Previously in time and space

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30 Jul 16:28

"Twin Peaks" Stars Reflect on Catching Lightning in a Bottle

With the release of "Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery" on Blu-ray, some key players remember the David Lynch series that flamed brightly and burned out quickly.
30 Jul 13:38

from *DC Super Heroes Which Way Book #1: Superman The Man of Steel* | YOU CHOSE WRONG

by djempirical
firehose

superman, you scott summersed it!

(from DC Super Heroes Which Way Book #1: Superman The Man of Steel - written by Andrew Helfer, illustrated by Jose Delbo,1983)
Submitted by the Magnificent Mike Sterling!

(from DC Super Heroes Which Way Book #1: Superman The Man of Steel - written by Andrew Helfer, illustrated by Jose Delbo,1983)

Original Source

29 Jul 23:58

Old Apache Code At Root of Android FakeID Mess

by Soulskill
chicksdaddy writes: A four-year-old vulnerability in an open source component that is a critical part of Android leaves hundreds of millions of mobile devices susceptible to silent malware infections. The vulnerability affects devices running Android versions 2.1 to 4.4 ("KitKat"), according to a statement released by Bluebox. The vulnerability was found in a package installer in affected versions of Android. The installer doesn't attempt to determine the authenticity of certificate chains that are used to vouch for new digital identity certificates. In short, Bluebox writes, "an identity can claim to be issued by another identity, and the Android cryptographic code will not verify the claim." The security implications of this are vast. Malicious actors could create a malicious mobile application with a digital identity certificate that claims to be issued by Adobe Systems. Once installed, vulnerable versions of Android will treat the application as if it was actually signed by Adobe and give it access to local resources, like the special webview plugin privilege, that can be used to sidestep security controls and virtual 'sandbox' environments that keep malicious programs from accessing sensitive data and other applications running on the Android device. The flaw appears to have been introduced to Android through an open source component, Apache Harmony. Google turned to Harmony as an alternative means of supporting Java in the absence of a deal with Oracle to license Java directly. Work on Harmony was discontinued in November, 2011. However, Google has continued using native Android libraries that are based on Harmony code. The vulnerability concerning certificate validation in the package installer module persisted even as the two codebases diverged.

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30 Jul 00:15

AT&T might fix Netflix problems for its customers before Verizon does

by Jon Brodkin
firehose

all carriers suck forever

Netflix has agreed to pay AT&T for a direct connection to the Internet service provider's network, a move that will improve streaming video quality.

The deal is no surprise—it was widely expected after Netflix reached similar agreements with Comcast and Verizon. What is surprising is that AT&T customers might see their Netflix quality problems resolved before Verizon customers.

"We reached an interconnect agreement with AT&T in May and since then have been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience of our mutual subscribers," a Netflix spokesperson told Ars. "We're now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days."

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

30 Jul 04:04

Hackers Plundered Israeli Defense Firms That Built 'Iron Dome' Missile Defense

by Soulskill
An anonymous reader writes: Brian Krebs reports on information from Columbia, Md.-based threat intelligence firm Cyber Engineering Services Inc. that attackers thought to be operating out of China hacked into the corporate networks of three top Israeli defense technology companies. The attackers were seeking technical documents related to Iron Dome, Israel's air defense system. "IAI was initially breached on April 16, 2012 by a series of specially crafted email phishing attacks. ... Once inside the IAI’s network, [the attackers] spent the next four months in 2012 using their access to install various tools and trojan horse programs on systems throughout company’s network and expanding their access to sensitive files, CyberESI said. The actors compromised privileged credentials, dumped password hashes, and gathered system, file, and network information for several systems. The actors also successfully used tools to dump Active Directory data from domain controllers on at least two different domains on the IAI’s network. All told, CyberESI was able to identify and acquire more than 700 files — totaling 762 MB total size — that were exfiltrated from IAI’s network during the compromise. The security firm said most of the data acquired was intellectual property and likely represented only a small portion of the entire data loss by IAI." Most of the stolen material pertained to Arrow III missiles, UAVs, and ballistic rockets.

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30 Jul 04:00

http://backcomic.com/10

firehose

garfone

30 Jul 04:00

honk, v.2

firehose

#farts

30 Jul 03:06

chroniclesofachemist: Those are fucking PHOTOS of molecules I...



chroniclesofachemist:

Those are fucking PHOTOS of molecules I dont fucking know how to react when I was in school they told me this shit is impossible look at this beauty you even see the doublebonding oh my fucking god tahts so fucking beautiful.

mfw microscopes are getting this good

image

SOURCE

30 Jul 03:22

piesexualdean: turtwink: does medusa have pubes and if so are they snakes too

piesexualdean:

turtwink:

does medusa have pubes and if so are they snakes too

image

30 Jul 03:38

bluemoonrush: pleatedjeans: via Same

30 Jul 03:54

aaeds: yungvenuz: sixpenceee: Mayflys are a winged insect...

firehose

#nevergo













aaeds:

yungvenuz:

sixpenceee:

Mayflys are a winged insect that have a short lifespan. They mate in such a way that all of them mature in the exact same time. The will die out soon, but for the time being Wisconsin looks like something straight out of a horror movie. 

SOURCE

nnnnnnuh

That’s…not too far south of where I live. 

30 Jul 04:11

Photo



30 Jul 04:27

lexiconmegatherium: O is for Owlbear. The Secret Origin!





lexiconmegatherium:

O is for Owlbear.

The Secret Origin!

29 Jul 18:00

Amazon’s 3D Nuclear Option Launches

by General Fabb
firehose

via Jakkyn
lol @ makerbot, whorps~

amazon in 3D.png

Things just got mainstream: Amazon announced a dedicated 3D print service. 

The online retail giant stepped deeply into the world of 3D printing by launching a new “Main Product Category” called “3D Designs & Print on Demand”. It’s very much like Shapeways or Sculpteo: great designs may be browsed, searched, selected, printed and then shipped to your door. 

At present the service boasts over 200 products, some of which are customizable. Shapeways has teamed with Mixee labs to provide twenty 3D model generators with which customers can quickly design personalized objects of various kinds. Generators include various rings, pendants, figurines and items of jewelry. They’re easy to use and prices are reasonable, at least for 3D printing. 

Amazon’s tagline says: “Introducing Amazon’s 3D Printing Store; Shop the Future”. They’re not kidding - this is how the future may very well turn out. Browsing and designing objects that show up at your door tomorrow. 

While this functionality has been available for some time from Shapeways and other similar services, Amazon takes it to a whole new level. Shapeways might be the biggest 3D print service, but they certainly do not have Amazon’s 250M client base. In fact, Amazon likely adds more new clients every week than exist at most 3D print services today. And these clients could purchase 3D printed items in a way they’re already very familiar with. Some of the 3D printed items even qualify for Amazon Prime, the company’s flat-rate shipping service. 

Amazon also offers a way for designers to apply to their service if they wish to include their designs in the Amazon 3D Print Store. At this point, Amazon’s 200 items are far less than Shapeways catalog, but with Amazon’s massive size, that could change very quickly. What designer wouldn’t want their designs shown to a quarter of a BILLION possible clients? 

But how is Amazon producing the 3D prints? Did they just buy a pile of EOS machines? Perhaps some Stratasys? No, it appears from their press release they’ve partnered with Sculpteo, one of the largest 3D print services. Sculpteo’s CEO, Clément Moreau, says: 

Amazon’s deep understanding of customers coupled with Sculpteo’s fast, high-quality manufacturing process offers an unprecedented level of product possibilities for customers.

There’s no mention of Shapeways, so we presume they’re not part of the deal behind the scenes. However, it's possible Amazon is in fact using Shapeways or other 3D print services behind the scenes in addition to Sculpteo and hasn't made that known. 

So what happens now? We can think of several implications of this blockbuster announcement. 

Shapeways may face a steep challenge. Assuming Shapeways isn't part of the deal, Shapeways at the moment may have the edge on 3D content due to their long existence and relationships with many designers, but Amazon’s depth of client base may shift that over the next few years. It may be that Shapeways will have to partner with another retailer in a similar deal if they haven't done one with Amazon. 

Sculpteo could be a huge winner in this deal. The Amazon shoppers will drive significant business towards Sculpteo’s 3D print factories, which will use economies of scale to grow rapidly. 

MakerBot and Cubify / 3D Systems might not be pleased with this development, as it means some potential 3D printer buyers might instead use Amazon to satisfy their 3D printing urges. Both companies have been pursuing a content strategy around customized model generators, which Amazon now provides, too. 

On the other hand, the announcement could mean this: A huge number of people will now be exposed to 3D printing through Amazon. This could very significantly grow interest in the technology, causing growth in all participants. More water floats all boats, so to speak. 

Amazon’s 3D printing venture seems very serious - and permanent. It’s a bold statement to their retail competitors, who will surely try to keep up with Amazon with their own 3D printing operations. 

Via Amazon

29 Jul 21:40

YELLING WE ALL BECOME the YELL.  Wear a BLACK clothing!  Has...

firehose

via Rosalind



YELLING

WE ALL BECOME the YELL.  Wear a BLACK clothing!  Has this brib crows finall a discover ROCK N ROLL COMCERPT?

29 Jul 07:01

Cat Doctor

by Doug
firehose

via Tadeu

Cat Doctor

Dedicated to Joanna W. – happy birthday, Joanna!

Here’s more Doctor Who!

30 Jul 15:24

Photo

by villeashell
firehose

via otters



30 Jul 06:06

button, button

by kris
firehose

via Tadeu

20140730-buttonbutton

this was an ’80s twilight zone episode based on a richard matheson short story

tune in tomorrow for more topical references

23 Jul 02:39

My GF's 9 year old daughter: "I invented this so I don't have to stop playing videogames to drink my water". I've dubbed it the "Pwning Pouch"

firehose

via Osiasjota ("minha nova heróia")

saucie, do you need one of these for skyrim

29 Jul 20:54

Scott Walker and Sunn O))) reveal details of collaboration album, Soused | Music | theguardian.com

by djempirical
A0a02302f19b1d9e2056d92667220f53
djempirical

The album will be called Soused and will include five tracks, with heavy titles like Fetish, Brando and Herod 2014.

that gives me no idea what the titles are “like”.

Scott Walker and Sunn O))) have confirmed details of their surprise, genre-busting collaboration. The British singer and the American drone metal band have teamed up for a complete, 50-minute album, due out with 4AD on 22 September.

The album will be called Soused and will include five tracks, with heavy titles like Fetish, Brando and Herod 2014. Walker produced the album himself, with long-time collaborator Peter Walsh. As on his 2012 LP Bish Bosch, there are orchestrations by musical director Mark Warman.

According to a press release, Sunn O))) first approached Walker about five years ago, during the making of 2013's Monoliths & Dimensions. Walker didn't want to guest on Sunn O)))'s LP but in 2013, after a long silence, he got back in touch to say that he had written material specifically with Sunn O))) in mind. They met in studio earlier this year.

While Sunn O))) haven't recorded their own studio album since Monoliths & Dimensions, they have released collaborations with Boris, Nurse With Wound and Ulver. Walker, meanwhile, seems more prolific than he has been in decades. Prior to Soused, he had released only five albums in four decades; this will be the 71-year-old's second LP in less than three years.

Original Source

29 Jul 19:51

Rebranding Amtrak | Jacobin

by hodad

Amtrak doesn’t need a writer’s residency program. It needs to deliver affordable, reliable public transportation.

10227415885_bc9a47e70a_z

Last month, Amtrak notified 115 writers that they’d been selected as semi-finalists for a residency on one of the company’s fifteen long-distance routes, complete with meals and a “private sleeping roomette equipped with a desk, a bed, and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration.”

Part of an ongoing PR effort to rebrand itself as a classic, more cultured form of travel, the residency has generated enthusiastic praise from writers across social media as well as in high-profile publications like the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Paris Review.

In the latter, Jessica Gross, a New York-based freelancer who received a trial residency earlier this year on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited route, extols the virtues of writing by train, describing Amtrak’s sleepers as “cozily small, like a carrel in a college library.”  Likewise, Adam Kirsch waxes romantic in the New Republic on the affinities between writing and rail travel, contending that “to ride the train …  is analogous to choosing to write a book when you could tweet or text. It means refusing the ‘best’ option our technology has to offer, in the name of an ideal other than speed and efficiency.”

The residency has also, however, attracted its share of criticism. Challenging Kirsch’s romantic idealism, Boris Kachka describes the residency in New York Magazine as “one ancillary, antiquated business teaming up with another full of people so needful of acknowledgment … that they’d consider a week in a four-by-seven sleeper room a ‘residency.’”

Kachka’s rebuke is part of a second-wave critical reaction to the project, coming on the heels of writers’ initial enthusiasm for the residency and criticizing it, in part, as a hastily conceived social media stunt. In n+1, Evan Kindley writes that “there is something disturbing about … so many writers and intellectuals banding together to help launch a viral promotional campaign.” And the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog points out that the residency’s official terms gives Amtrak irrevocable worldwide rights to writers’ work.

Indeed, it’s difficult to see the Amtrak residency as little more than a barely disguised advertising gimmick, the latest in a series of recent viral campaigns — Levi’s “Go Forth,” Apple’s “Your Verse” — appropriating writers and their cultural cachet for commercial gain.

Amtrak’s threadbare claim that the residency is “designed to allow creative professionals …  to work on their craft” is belied by the fact that the 115 semi-finalists were chosen in part based on “the extensiveness of their social community and ability to reach online audiences with content.”

Even Amtrak’s admission that “we are not in the business of publishing” but rather providing “the inspirational environment in which these works are created” evinces a woefully antiquated understanding of how — and about what — writers write. One could be forgiven for thinking, given Amtrak’s description, that writers today are just as interested as Wordsworth and Keats were in the “countryside” as it “rolls by.”

Amtrak’s conception of writers’ work, that is, remains just as romanticized as the ideal of rail travel it’s attempting to promote. Its routine delays, high costs, and aging infrastructure are part of its nostalgic charm, the company would have us believe, not symptoms of a profound crisis in rail travel.

While Amtrak may be a pleasurably quaint mode of transportation for writers like Gross and Kirsch, it remains embarrassingly nonviable for lower-income Americans forced to rely on rail travel as, say, a cheaper alternative to flying or because Amtrak provides access to rural areas underserved by other modes of transportation.

A one-way ticket from Chicago to Washington, D.C. on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited route, to cite one example, costs $94, while airfare for the same trip averages $180. The Capitol Limited, moreover, makes numerous stops throughout the so-called “flyover” states, including in Elkhart, Indiana; Alliance, Ohio; and Martinsburg, West Virginia — none of which is located within an hour of a major airport.

Yet despite Amtrak’s appeal for lower-income Americans and those who live in rural communities, the company consistently fails them in its actual operations.  The Capitol Limited arrived on time for only 19 percent of its runs in May 2014 — this despite the fact that “on time” for Amtrak means arriving within half an hour of the scheduled arrival. The California Zephyr, running from Chicago to Oakland, was “on time” only 18 percent of the time during that same period, and the Downeaster, from Brunswick, Maine to Boston, arrived on schedule for a mere 8 percent of its runs.

As with healthcare and education, the broad mass of people would benefit enormously from a publicly run rail system that delivered an efficient, affordable alternative to travel by plane or car. This is not an unreasonable demand — many of our cities’ buses and subway systems provide such service already. And set against, say, high-speed rail in China or Europe, the antediluvian shortcomings of Amtrak are even starker.

That writers would clamor so enthusiastically for a residency intended, at its core, to brush aside such appalling public transportation statistics should concern us. The residency is as a representative case study of the increasingly comfortable relationship between artists and corporate elites, a relationship which includes, notably, the Southern Pacific railroad’s offer, in the late 19th century, of the very first rail residency. Offering a private car to Oscar Wilde if he would visit Los Angeles, the company hoped to marshal the writer’s cultural capital in support of southern California’s then-nascent real-estate and tourism industries, in which the company had a direct stake.

Wilde declined, but the offer presaged today’s corporate vision of the arts as marketing firm, with not only Amtrak but dozens of other companies co-opting the arts to obscure beneath a patina of creativity the social and economic damage those companies cause. One might recall, for example, Chrysler’s jingoistic “Halftime in America” Super Bowl commercial, written by acclaimed poet Matthew Dickman, or, once again, Gross’ piece for the Paris Review.

“I’m only here for the journey,” Gross writes. “Soon after I get to Chicago, I’ll board a train and come right back to New York: thirty-nine hours in transit — forty-four with delays.  And I’m here to write.”  The implications of such a statement are significant. For the problem here is not that Gross, with her specially-arranged residency, can enjoy the Amtrak experience without having to deal with the real-world effects of Amtrak’s egregiously substandard performance, but that we all should be able to.

A more socially responsible residency, rather than supplying as Gross and Kirsch do the rhetorical veneer by which Amtrak masks its failures, would document for the American public the company’s numerous and extensive shortcomings as a mode of public transportation. In so doing, it would serve also as a powerful corrective to the already-cozy relationship between artists and capitalists that risks vitiating this country’s once-vibrant and oppositional forms of artistic production.

We have yet to see this kind of writing in the wake of Amtrak’s announcement of its 115 semi-finalists, but with several months until the final twenty-four “residents” are chosen — and with twenty-four round-trip, long-distance train rides soon after — we may still. Amtrak’s customers, saddled with the company’s second-rate performance, at least deserve better from the writers who will become their fellow travelers.

Original Source

28 Jul 20:48

The Ohio State marching band loved singing about 'fags' - Outsports

by hodad

<img src="http://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/36029044/20121018_ter_aw3_203.0_standard_730.0.jpg" alt=""/>
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Band director fired after investigation into a culture of hazing, sexism, sexual harassment and homophobia.

The Ohio State University has fired band director Jonathan Waters "after an internal investigation that uncovered a deep culture of sexual harassment among students that reportedly has existed for years." Among the reports findings were lyrics band members have made over the years to songs that included multiple gay slurs, such as "fags" and "homos" and references to "cock-sucking."

The two-month investigation , triggered by the complaint of a parent, revealed a cascade of evidence that students routinely harassed one another -- often directed at new band members by older students -- and that director Jonathan Waters knew about it or should have known.

Waters, 38, was ousted from his post effective today, OSU President Michael V. Drake said. Details of the investigation are laid out in a 23-page report obtained by The Columbus Dispatch. ...

Several witnesses said that students performed a "flying 69" on tour buses, in which band members hung from the luggage racks and posed in a sexual position. Waters was on the bus when that happened as recently as last fall, according to a band staff member who quit last year.

The report is pretty jaw-dropping in the instances of sexual harassment, hazing, innuendo and nicknames given to band members, including members acting out sexual acts. You can read the whole report here. These band members over the years are really obsessed with cocks.

It was the homophobia that struck me, since I would have assumed band would be welcoming place. I have been amazed by comments I have seen where some readers say this is all good, clean fun. Sorry, anytime people sing about "fags" is never fun or acceptable.

Here are some samples of lyrics band members have come up with for popular songs and the fight songs of other schools. I love the initial warning intro, which basically says that if these lyrics offend you, tough.

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29 Jul 22:13

D&D Website updates, lots of new art

by WalcottTwins
So the website itself has some pretty spiffy graphic design.

But also, we can see a bunch of art, some of which is pretty cool.

Forgotten Realms: Some pretty cool landscapes-- so far I've been impressed with the location art in general.
Classes: The ranger is a bit underdressed. I suppose one of them had to be eventually. Otherwise... cool. The iconic wizard reminds me of Vitruvius from the Lego Movie.
Races: Guys. GUYS. The iconic human is a black woman. That's awesome. The iconic halfling is a bit goofy, even for a bard.
Heroes: Heading it up with my two least favorite people, but we get some names and personalities for a couple of the iconics, which is good.
Monsters: Mostly cool. I'm not impressed with the orc picture, though, and something about the mind flayer looks a little goofy. The kobold's dog nose is a little weird, but it's cool how it sort of looks like a blend between the modern caiman-headed look with the hairless chihuahua-people of old. Everything else I dig with no qualifications necessary, except to notice that they're showing off a lot of the "We basically are the inventors/trope codifiers of this monster" monsters.
29 Jul 21:03

Lawsuit: "Happy Birthday" is not in copyright, and Warner owes the world hundreds of millions for improperly collected royalties - Boing Boing

by djempirical
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djempirical

sorry about the Doctorow share

Copyright scholars have long been pretty certain that "Happy Birthday to You" is in the public domain, despite the fact that Warner/Chappell claims copyright on it and charges impressive licensing fees to use it in public performances. Those fees, however, are much lower than a copyright lawsuit would be, so everyone shrugs and pays them. Until now.

A documentary film company working on a movie about "Happy Birthday" has assembled a huge body of evidence showing that the song has been in the public domain since the 1920s, and is suing Warner to get them to return the hundreds of millions they've improperly charged in licensing since. This is gonna be great.

The full lawsuit, embedded below, goes through a detailed history of the song and any possible copyright claims around it. It covers the basic history of "Good Morning to You," but also notes that the "happy birthday" lyrics appeared by 1901 at the latest, citing a January 1901 edition of Inland Educator and Indiana School Journal which describes children singing a song called "happy birthday to you." They also point to a 1907 book that uses a similar structure for a song called "good-bye to you" which also notes that you can sing "happy birthday to you" using the same music. In 1911, the full "lyrics" to Happy Birthday to You were published, with a notation that it's "sung to the same tune as 'Good Morning.'" There's much more in the history basically showing that the eventual copyright that Warner/Chappell holds is almost entirely unrelated to the song Happy Birthday to You.

The detail in the filing is impressive, and I can't wait to see how Warner/Chappell replies. As the filing notes, there are a variety of copyright claims around the song, but all are invalid or expired, and the very, very narrow copyright that Warner/Chappell might hold is not on the song itself. In other words, Warner/Chappell is almost certainly guilty of massive copyfraud -- perhaps the most massive in history -- in claiming a copyright it clearly has no right to.

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