I never get tired of the Bad Lip Reading videos. This one, made for the first Republican Debate, might be the best one I've seen.Read the rest
I never get tired of the Bad Lip Reading videos. This one, made for the first Republican Debate, might be the best one I've seen.Read the rest
New research suggests that traffic noise (apart from pollution and general hectic motion) degrades the natural habitat of songbirds, and perhaps other animals. Boise State University biologists created a "phantom road" using speakers to create traffic noise in a natural, roadless songbird habitat. Read the rest
Researchers calculate that as many as 9 out of 10 seabirds have plastic garbage in their intestines. So sad. Read the rest
As you probably know, "gerrymandering" is the practice of redrawing the borders of a voting district for a specific purpose, usually if not always to make sure it has more of your supporters than opponents in it. This is nothing new, of course, but few gerrymanderers can have failed more spectacularly than those who crafted the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District in Columbia, Missouri.
The city council established the district in April for the purpose of improving the area of town shown above. According to the Columbia Tribune (also the image source), state law permits the voters in a CID to impose taxes or assessments within the district in order to fund improvement projects. A majority of registered voters living in the district must approve, but if there aren't any registered voters in the district, then only the property owners get to vote. (You see where this is going.)
After the district was established, the property owners voted for a property assessment (basically taxing each other) that is expected to bring in about $50,000 a year. But that's not enough for the projects they have planned, so they also intended to enact a half-cent sales tax to raise another $220,000. Even though this tax would be paid by other people, most likely those who live nearby, under the CID law it could be imposed by the property owners acting alone because there are no registered voters living in the district. And after all, that's why the district looks sort of like the Battlestar Galactica instead of some respectable polygon. As the Tribune put it, many nearby homes "were not included in the district when it was drawn because district organizers wanted a district free of residents."
And they almost got it.
The note "Henderson's residence" on the map indicates the home of University of Missouri student Jen Henderson, who, it turns out, is the only registered voter living within the Business Loop 70 CID. But because there is in fact at least one registered voter there, the law says the property owners don't get to vote. As a result, Jen Henderson, and Jen Henderson alone, will decide whether the sales tax passes.
Henderson has been registered since February, before the CID was created. It's not clear from the report how they missed her when creating the district, let alone when they held the vote in April to impose the property assessment. Since the property owners were taxing themselves with that one, they might have assumed (accurately) that nobody would really care. But in May, when planning for the sales-tax vote, they did contact the county clerk, who gave them the bad news that they had missed one registered voter.
According to Henderson, the CID's director then contacted her to ask if she would consider "unregistering" so the property owners could make the decision they have already decided to make. Unfortunately, they had the bad luck to overlook one of the relatively few voters who actually cares.
Henderson said she would consider the request, but the more she researched it, the proposal "just didn't seem to be as good as they were saying to me at first." While she has not made a decision, she says, "her concerns include vague project outlines, [the director's] pay, Business Loop improvements she said will help businesses but not nearby residents and how an additional sales tax would affect low-income people purchasing groceries and other necessities." Boy, I bet they would really like to make one small change to the map right about now.
1881 H. C. Lodge in J. Winsor Mem. Hist. Boston III. 212: "In 1812, while [Elbridge] Gerry was governor [of Massachusetts], the Democratic Legislature, in order to secure an increased representation of their party in the State Senate, districted the State in such a way that the shapes of the towns, forming such a district in Essex [County], brought out a territory of singular outline. This was indicated on a map which Russell, the editor of the Centinel, hung in his office. Stuart, the painter, observing it, added a head, wings, and claws, and exclaimed, ‘That will do for a salamander!’ ‘Gerrymander!’ said Russell, and the word became a proverb."
—Oxford English Dictionary
The group is not required to hold the election, of course, and they are apparently considering whether or not to go forward. The director—who it sounds like should not be in charge of voter outreach, if they do go forward—told the Tribune that they have "two options: hold the election or not." There is a third option, of course: modify the plan in a way that might persuade the voters voter to support it. That doesn't seem to be on the table here, but it might actually be easier than trying to gerrymander your way to victory. Just a thought.
Update: According to a new Tribune piece today (thanks, Glenn), the CID board has decided not to decide whether to hold the election. Since it made this (non)decision after a meeting this morning that Henderson attended, it sounds like they still haven't convinced her. The article says that board members "suggested ways to draw Henderson out of the district"—which I'm sure was much less sinister than it sounds—and also "discussed lobbying for a law to exclude groceries from the sales tax to alleviate her concerns" about poor people. (I guess they don't have the power to tinker with the tax, just to pass it. Although they don't have the power to do that now either.) No decision was reached, however.
This report says that they drew the district lines last November, which was after Henderson had moved into the district but before she registered to vote. I guess the lesson is that you need to go door-to-door to be sure you've got your election rigged correctly.
Things From The Flood
Pro tip: Bragging about your Mensa card as an actual adult signals that while you may be "smart," you almost certainly are not wise.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) August 31, 2015
In the various recent kerfuffles surrounding science fiction and its awards, there have been a couple of people (and their spouses, declaiming about their beloved) who have been slapping down Mensa cards as proof that they (or their spouse) are smart. Let me just say this about that:
Oh, my sweet summer children. Just don’t.
If you want to be in Mensa, that’s fine. Everyone needs hobbies and associations, and if this is the direction you want to go with yours, then you do you. Not my flavor, but then, lots of hobbies and associations aren’t my flavor.
1. Literally no one outside of Mensa gives a shit about your Mensa card. No one is impressed that you belong to an organization that has among its membership people who believe that because they can ace a test, they are therefore broadly intellectually superior to everyone else.
2. Your Mensa membership does not imply or suggest that you are the smartest person in the room. Leaving aside the point that the intelligence that Mensa values is a narrow and specialized sort, a large number of people who can join Mensa, don’t, for various reasons, including the idea that belonging to a group that glories in its supposed intellectual superiority is more than vaguely obnoxious.
3. Your need to bring up the fact you have a Mensa card suggests nothing other than it’s really really really important to you for people to know you’re smart, and that you believe external accreditation of this supposed top-tier intelligence is more persuasive than, say, the establishment of your intelligence through your actions, demeanor, or personality. Which is to say: It shows you’re insecure.
4. Your Mensa card does not mean you know how to argue. Your Mensa card does not mean you do not make errors or lapses in judgment. Your Mensa card is not a “get out of jail free” card when someone pokes holes in your thesis. Your Mensa card does not mean that you can’t be racist or sexist or otherwise bigoted. You may not say “I have a Mensa card, therefore my logic is irrefutable.” Your Mensa card will not save you from Dunning-Kruger syndrome, and if you think it will, then you are exactly who the Dunning-Kruger syndrome was meant to describe. You Mensa card will not keep you from being called out for acting stupidly, or doing stupid things.
5. Your Mensa card does not immunize you from being a complete, raging asshole.
In short, it’s not actually smart to flash your Mensa card, and if you were smart, you’d know not to do it. If you have to resort to waving your Mensa card around to establish your intelligence, you’re signaling that you have no other way to do it. And you don’t have to be a genius to know what that actually means about you.
According to Danila Tkachenko: “The project “Restricted Areas” is about utopian strive of humans for technological progress. Humans are always trying to own ever more than they have – this is the source of technical progress, which was the means to create various commodities, standards, as well as the tools of violence in order to keep the power over others.”
Photo above: The world’s largest diesel submarine.
“Better, higher, stronger – these ideals often express the main ideology of the governments, for these goals they are ready to sacrifice almost everything. While the individual is supposed to become a tool for reaching the set goals, and receive in exchange the higher level of comfort.”
Photo above: Test bench for missiles.
“I travel in search of places which used to have great importance for the technical progress – and which are now deserted. Those places lost their significance together with the utopian ideology which is now obsolete. Secret cities that cannot be found on maps, forgotten scientific triumphs, abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity. The perfect technocratic future that never came.”
Photo above: Airplane – amphibia with vertical take-off VVA14. The USSR built only two of them in 1976, one of which has crashed during transportation.
“Any progress comes to its end earlier or later, it can happen due to different reasons – nuclear war, economic crisis or natural disaster.. For me it’s interesting to witness what is left after.”
Photo above: Secret city Chelyabinsk-40, which was not marked on the maps until 1994. The first Soviet nuclear bomb was created there. In 1964 there was the first nuclear catastrophe, one of the largest in history and equal in scale to Chernobyl. It stayed secret thanks to the fact that wind was blowing east. It is still impossible to enter the city unless one has special permission or relatives living there.
Former residential buildings in a deserted polar scientific town specialised on biological research.
Former mining town which has been closed and made a bombing trial field. The building on the photo shows the cultural center, one of the objects for bombing.
Sarcophagus over a closed shaft which is 4 km deep – was one of the deepest scientific shafts in the world at the time.
Scientific storage at far North.
Antenna built for interplanetary connection. The Soviet Union was planning to build bases on other planets, and prepared facilities for connection which were never used and are deserted now.
Tropospheric antenna in the north of Russia – the type of connection which has become obsolete. There were many of them built in far North, all of them deserted at the moment.
City where rocket engines were being produced in Soviet times. Was a closed city until 1992.
Water contamination test at the lake around the previously closed scientific city Chelyabinsk-40. In 1964 there was the first nuclear catastrophe, one of the largest in history and equal in scale to Chernobyl, but it stayed secret. The city is surrounded by the lakes which are until now contaminated with radiation.
Pumpjacks on a spent oil field.
Monument to the Conquerors of Space. The rocket on top was made according to the design of German V-2 missile.
The copyright industry has consistently used the word “content” for anything creative.
Just like most other things the copyright industry does, there’s a thought behind the choice of wording – a choice they hope that other people will copy, because it reinforces their view of the world, or rather, what they would like the world to look like.
When we use certain words for metaphors, the words we use convey meaning of their own. This is why you see the pro-choice vs pro-life camps on opposite sides of the abortion debate: both camps want to portray the other camp as anti-choice and anti-life, respectively.
In the liberties debate and the culture debate, there’s nothing of the sort. The copyright industry has been allowed to establish the language completely on its own, and therefore, we’re using terms today that reinforce the idea and the notion that the copyright industry is good and that people who share are bad.
Stop doing that.
Stop doing that right now.
You’re on the other side of the pro-life camp and you’re willingly calling yourself “anti-life”. How are you expecting to win anything from that position?
One thing you can stop saying immediately is “copyright”. Call it “the copyright monopoly”, for it is a monopoly, and that should be reinforced every time the abomination is mentioned. Also, use the term “the copyright industry” – as in manufacturing copyright monopolies and profiting off them – as often as possible. Never ever talk about “Intellectual Property”, except when describing why it’s bad to do so, as using that term reinforces the idea that ideas can not just be contained, but owned – something that’s blatantly false.
If you have to use the IP term, let it stand for Industrial Protectionism instead. That’s a much more correct description. Never ever ever use the word “property” when you’re referring to a monopoly. Doing so is so factually incorrect that courts have actually banned the copyright industry from using terms like “property” and “theft” – and yet, they keep doing so. Playing along with that game is stupid, dumb, and self-defeating.
Today, I’ll focus on the word “content”.
You’ll notice that the copyright industry uses this word consistently for everything. There’s a reason for that: If you have content, you must also have a container.
Do you need a container for a bedtime story? Do you need a container for a campfire song? Do you need a container for a train of thought? Do you need a container for cool cosplay ideas?
Of course you don’t. They’re ideas shared, songs sung, stories told. The idea that they must have a container – because they’re “content” – is so somebody can lock up those stories told and those songs sung, and so we can buy the container with the “content” we desire, instead of just singing the songs and telling the stories unfettered.
Compare the mental imagery evoked by these two sentences:
“We need to fill this website with content.”
“We need to fill this website with the stories of people in the area.”
One is locked up, controlled, locked down, devalued. The other is shared, cultural, told.
The word “content” means that there must also be a “container”, and that container is the copyright industry.
Don’t ever use the word “content”. It’s as improductive as describing yourself as “anti-life”. Talk about songs, articles, stories, and ideas. Doing so brings new life to the stories you tell.
Above all, be aware of terms that have been established by the adversary to the Internet, to liberty, and to culture – and refuse using them. The copyright industry is not your friend.
About The Author
Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.
Book Falkvinge as speaker?
Between this and the McAfee saga, I'm starting to think that being a name brand in the anti-virus business has a bad effect on people, or it's a business uniquely suited to psychopaths from the outset. Either way, I'm cancelling that dinner party invitation to Peter Norton.
Spoiler: Native Americans.
Quick recap: John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular is a parody of an ebook by an obnoxious bigot who is obsessed with me, and I said (full details here) that if people raised $2,500 for Con or Bust, which funds science fiction convention memberships for people of color, I’d create an audiobook version of it. That happened. Then I said if we hit a stretch goal of $10,000, I’d also commission a song about me not being very popular. And that just happened! Whoo-hoo!
It will take me a bit to organize the song (update, 9/1/15: The song is commissioned! It’ll be a few weeks before it’s ready! Patience! It’ll be worth it!), but because you lovely people got us to an amazing $10,000 for Con or Bust in under 48 hours, I decided not to make you wait any longer for the audiobook. Here it is, with my love and appreciation.
First, the complete book, in one 40 minute chunk!
And now, the individual chapters:
Chapter 1: How it Begins
Chapter 2: John Scalzi’s Blog is Not That Interesting and No One Reads It
Chapter 3: John Scalzi Does Not Understand Satire as Well as I Understand Satire
(Note: This chapter contains reference to a piece I wrote about rape, and despite its humorous nature as parody, may be triggery for some folks.)
Chapter 5: John Scalzi Did Not Get Me Thrown out of the SFWA
Chapter 5: John Scalzi’s Deal With Tor is Not a Very Good Deal
Chapter 5: John Scalzi is Not a Very Popular Author
(Update, 9:09pm: Kate Nepveu of Con or Bust has created an Audible-like audiobook file of the complete book, which you may find here.)
And if you did enjoy this, and have not already done so, may I suggest you donate to Con or Bust, and help people of color attend science fiction conventions? That would be awesome. Thank you! And song to come!
Right now, pretty much the only thing we know about the plot of the next Bourne movie is that it’ll be about Bourne. Matt Damon reprises his role as the amnesiac spy for the first time since 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, after sitting out 2012’s The Bourne Legacy.
But with shooting scheduled to begin next week, Damon has finally confirmed some concrete details about where the story will go next, as well as some more general information on the real-world issues Jason Bourne will have to face. Get the latest Bourne 5 details after the jump.
As Damon told Buzzfeed, he and Bourne 5 (and Bourne Supremacy, and Bourne Ultimatum) director Paul Greengrass continually revisited the idea of a new Bourne film during that eight-year gap since Ultimatum. “We always looked at those movies as really about the Bush presidency, and so we kind of had to wait for the world to change,” he said.
What finally clicked things into place for them were the reveals by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. While Damon wouldn’t get too into detail about the plot of the new film, he did offer a sense of the film’s themes:
Without giving too much of it away, it’s Bourne through an austerity-riddled Europe and in a post-Snowden world. It seems like enough has changed, you know? There are all these kinds of arguments about spying and civil liberties and the nature of democracy.
He also got more specific about those austerity-riddled European locations:
We’re starting in Greece, you know, the beginning of democracy. And the movie ends in Las Vegas, the most grotesque incarnation of…”
(Damon declined to finish that sentence, so fill in the blank with whatever you think Las Vegas represents.)
Besides Damon, Bourne 5 brings Julia Stiles back to the fold as Nicky Parsons. Tommy Lee Jones joins the cast as a high-ranking CIA officer, and Alicia Vikander has also signed on in an unspecified role. Jeremy Renner, who played new series lead Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy, will not return.
Greengrass is directing from a script he wrote with Christopher Rouse, and will additionally direct with Damon, Frank Marshall, Greg Goodman, and Ben Smith. Rouse and Henry Morrison serve as executive producers.
Bourne 5 opens July 29, 2016.
The post Matt Damon Spills ‘Bourne 5′ Details; Shooting Begins Next Week appeared first on /Film.
Better, cheaper and easier than solar windows, this newly-patented flexible coating can be applied to existing glass and plastic surfaces, turning any aperture into a source of electricity. With this technology on all of its surfaces, buildings can generate up to 50 times more solar energy per structure.
Developed by SolarWindow Technologies, this inexpensive approach has a payback time of as little as one year (far less than the 5 to 10 years of traditional solar approaches. As the technology evolves and expands, it is only a matter of time until every window draws energy from light.
By adding it to the inside surface of a window, the process protects the tech from exterior sources of damage and simplifies application. The solution is also lightweight and adaptable, making it easier to retrofit existing architecture without cost-intensive shipping or labor-intensive installation processes.
These sensitive photovoltaics can draw power from lunar energy and artificial lights in addition to the sun’s rays. Their relatively low price per unit reinforces the sensibility of simply putting them on all sides of a structure, including those with less natural light.
Effectively invisible wires draw electricity from the exposed surfaces while a uniform and architecturally-neutral color tinting process allows for a variety of of looks and degrees of transparency.
This new substance can be deployed as a sticky film on a surface or potentially even painted on as a liquid. The organic (but secretive) constituent source materials of the core polymer include common elements such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.
Jacob’s Well - Wimberley, Texas
hey kids let’s all go jump into the pits of hell
This is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.
People have actually died in Jacob’s Well, but not just from jumping, you’re too buoyant to really go down far.
But Jacob’s Well draws a lot of scuba divers, and some of them have gotten lost and run out of air. Some of the bodies have never even been found, because the underground river that feeds Jacob’s Well is so complex. I find that terrifying.
I’ve been there. You have to be careful because coming back up from too far and you get stuck under rocks trying to find the surface.
Wow look at that giant hole of NOPE.
I always thought I had “a good ear” for music. I guess I was wrong. The Toned Ear site’s ear training practices can test your musical hearing and also help you improve that skill.
An all-male council in India has ordered that two sisters, ages 15 and 23, be raped and paraded in public with blackened faces because their brother eloped with a married woman.Read the rest
Start a fire with a water bottle. Use glycerine to make a bottle disappear. Create weird dancing blobs with cornstarch and water. Marvel at water droplets sizzling in a hot pan. Poke pencils through a water-filled ziplock bag without the water leaking. This video has a total of ten cool things you can try at home. It's also one of the rare YouTube videos that doesn't require skipping ahead 20% to get to the interesting part.
Not sure if it's the scary-looking lasso or the ass-kicking red boots, but a school on Mainstreet, USA banned this dangerous Wonder Woman lunchbox from campus.Read the rest
I endorse this article: 5 Ways That Science Supports Feminism – Not Gender Essentialism. It’s making the point that when you actually study the relevant sciences, you discover that they fundamentally support a more complex view of sexuality than the usual boy/girl dichotomy. Here, in brief, are the five points it makes:
1. There Are More Than Two Sexes, Not to Mention a Vast Range of Gender Identities
2. The Environment Impacts Human Development from the Very Beginning at the Cellular Level
3. Socialization Is a Powerful Force
4. When Studies Do Find Gender Differences, They Are Often Too Weak to Serve as the Basis for Generalizations
5. Gender Means Different Things in Different Cultures
One other factor that leads people to adopt gender essentialism is a kind of innumeracy — I swear, I think the only statistical measure most people understand is the mean. But statistics was developed to describe variation, in addition to taking data sets and crunching them down to a single number.
There is also deficiency of logic. If you take any diverse set, divide it in two, and calculate the mean of any given parameter for both, you’ll get…two numbers. This does not validate your initial division as appropriate. It does not mean your artificial dichotomy reveals an absolute truth about the world. It does not mean you have encapsulated the essence of your two groups in a single simple metric. In particular, it’s possible to have a mean that does not describe a single individual in your group accurately.
Here's what happens when the safety features on a pressure cooker fail. It also shows why pressure cookers are used by bad people to make bombs.
Lately, I’ve been getting a fair amount of email from people who’ve been browsing the stolen Ashley Madison subscriber list, telling me what famous or semi-famous person had an account there. I haven’t been impressed. A lot of it seems to be men who were looking for dates, and the thing is…I really doubt that any of them found anything approximating love or sex there. It’s peculiar to accuse people of cheating on their spouses through Ashley Madison, when it’s highly unlikely that any man was making contact with any women there.
What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.
Those millions of Ashley Madison men were paying to hook up with women who appeared to have created profiles and then simply disappeared. Were they cobbled together by bots and bored admins, or just user debris? Whatever the answer, the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile. Actually, scratch that. As I’ll explain below, there’s a good chance that about 12,000 of the profiles out of millions belonged to actual, real women who were active users of Ashley Madison.
31 million men begging 12,000 women for dates. That’s just pathetic. And it gets worse.
The first field, called mail_last_time, contained a timestamp indicating the last time a member checked the messages in their Ashley Madison inbox. If a person never checked their inbox, the field was blank. But even if they’d checked their messages only once, the field contained a date and time. About two-thirds of the men, or 20.2 million of them, had checked the messages in their accounts at least once. But only 1492 women had ever checked their messages. It was a serious anomaly.
The pattern was reflected in another data field, too. This one, called chat_last_time contained the timestamp for the last time a member had struck up a conversation using the Ashley Madison chat system. Roughly 11 million men had engaged in chat, but only 2400 women had.
The hackers of the Impact Team who broke into the database were right about one thing, for sure: Ashley Madison was a colossal scam that took advantage of men. But then releasing all that membership data was simply another strike against the victims of the scam. Some of them may have been salacious hypocrites (see Josh Duggar), but that’s not a crime…and many of those victims might have just been lonely single people, fumbling futilely on the internet.