– the platform committee endorsed constructing a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, just like Trump wants
– the committee changed “illegal immigrants” to “illegal aliens” in the text
– the committee refused an amendment that would have pushed for a restriction of magazine capacity in firearms
– they approved an amendment that would make it legal for parents to force their LGBT children to go through conversion therapy
– Children raised in “traditional” homes are “healthier.” “Children raised in a traditional two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime, or become pregnant outside of marriage,” the platform reads.
– Education includes “a good understanding of the Bible.”
– Coal is a “clean” form of energy
You don’t like Clinton (I don’t particularly care for the Clinton regime, either). You think Sanders was robbed. Ignore both Hillary Clinton and your grievances about the DNC: if you don’t vote to make sure that odious collection of lies and destructiveness isn’t put right at the top of our nation, you’re not helping.
Even with my top choice not making it on the ballot, this is the goddamned easiest election decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.
I’ve been harassed online by a demented Canadian for over 20 years. He’s still at it, but at a much lower rate, fortunately, but years ago I printed out a couple of months worth of his threats and hatred — it was a stack of hundreds of pages — and plunked it down at my local police station, and told them about the problem. They had no idea what to do.
At the height of the Catholic annoyance with my desecration of a cracker, I was getting death threats every day. I reported them to the police a few times. They shrugged.
I’ve had people send me email with specific, credible threats: they’re going to come to town on such-and-such a day. They have this weapon. They have my home address. They are going to show up at my university office.
The response? Nothing. I’ve given them names and email addresses and IP numbers. No action of any kind is taken, not even sending a warning.
I still get routine threats of maiming and abuse and murder. I’ve given up completely. I know from years of experience that the police will do nothing. I’ve heard every explanation: “It’s just social media,” they say. “Grow a thicker skin.” “We can’t do anything until they actually act.” “It’s free speech.”
I know women who experience far worse, far more often. By comparison to the police, Twitter is a model of friendly, fast-acting responsiveness to abuse and harassment, and if you know anything of Twitter, it’s a scum-sucking friend to every asshole on the internet.
But apparently, I’ve just been doing it wrong. I should have just joined the police.
Four men in Detroit were arrested over the past week for posts on social media that the police chief called threatening. One tweet that led to an arrest said that Micah Johnson, the man who shot police officers in Dallas last week, was a hero. None of the men have been named, nor have they been charged.
“I know this is a new issue, but I want these people charged with crimes,” said Detroit Police Chief James Craig. “I’ve directed my officers to prepare warrants for these four individuals, and we’ll see which venue is the best to pursue charges,” he said.
The self-serving hypocrisy is breath-taking to anyone who has had to deal with ongoing harassment on social media. For decades I’ve been told that nothing can ever be done about written threats. Suddenly that has changed now that the police are getting the same treatment.
An Illinois woman, Jenesis Reynolds, was arrested for writing in a Facebook post that she would shoot an officer who would pull her over. “I have no problem shooting a cop for simple traffic stop cuz they’d have no problem doing it to me,” she wrote, according to the police investigation. She was charged with disorderly conduct.
In New Jersey, Rolando Medina was arrested and charged with cyber harassment. He allegedly posted on an unidentified form of social media that he would destroy local police headquarters. In Louisiana, Kemonte Gilmore was arrested for an online video where he allegedly threatened a police officer. He was charged with public intimidation.
“Disorderly conduct”? “Public intimidation”? But I’ve been repeatedly told that there is no applicable charge to be made against, for example, someone who has declared that he’s going to shoot me in the head and rape my wife! This is news to me.
This is not to say I think the police should be arresting people who say rude things to me — there are serious civil liberties issues here. The article makes the point that there is legal precedent that sets a very high standard for taking action, which is fine with me.
The policing of online threats is hardly a new issue. The Supreme Court set a precedent last year when it ruled that prosecutors pursuing a charge of communicating threats need to prove both that reasonable people would view the statement as a threat and that the intent was to threaten. Elonis v. United States dealt with a man who had posted violent rap lyrics about his estranged wife; the court reversed his conviction.
The problem, though, is that the police apparently have one standard for action against people who are rude to them, and a very different standard when it comes to the people they are supposed to protect and serve. You can’t say “I have no problem shooting a cop” without being charged with a crime, but you can say “I’m going to murder PZ Myers” with no risk of even a warning.
So fuck the police. They’re worse than useless when it comes to harassment — they’re enablers of every bad behavior, except when it affects their delicate sensitivities.
Announced just last month and out on August 1st, The Brothers Brick is pleased to bring you a full review of the new 10252 Volkswagen Beetle, thanks to a special delivery from LEGO headquarters in Denmark. This new Beetle in stunning dark azure joins the dark green 10242 Mini Cooper and classic 10220 Volkswagen Camper Van in what I’m hoping is a permanent fixture in LEGO Creator sets. The set includes 1,167 pieces, and will retail for $99.99.
We’ve come to expect some solid techniques and clever tricks in the “Expert” LEGO Creator series sets, many of which are very obviously designed by the numerous builders who have disappeared from the face of the Internet only to turn up in Billund. And that’s the case here — the set was designed by the very talented Mike Psiaki, whose LEGO creations we’ve featured many, many times here on The Brothers Brick over the years — most notably one of the best LEGO X-wings ever made.
Mike’s Beetle doesn’t disappoint. The 211 steps span an instruction booklet 124 pages thick. I recently also built the new LEGO Ghostbusters (2016) Ecto 1, and it had far more complicated techniques than this larger vehicle does, but the Beetle is still full of half-stud-offset, SNOT, complex headlight and bracket geometry, and other techniques you’ll rarely if ever see in a LEGO City set.
The set comes in three batches of numbered bags, though each set of bags includes a lot more parts than your average, highly modular LEGO Star Wars set. The first set of polybags take you through step 67 as you build the chassis and some of the rear body, the second bags get you to step 119 and the front fenders.
The stickers are noteworthy for several reasons. First, they’re only placed on “common” parts (none of the dark azure pieces). Second, there’s a complete extra set of bumper stickers on the decal sheet — something I’ve never seen in a LEGO set before. Finally, the set includes spare license plates — stickers on different-colored tiles — for Germany, the US, the UK, and presumably Denmark (I have no idea).
I placed the stickers on the window at a jaunty angle, because I’m a rebel.
Oh, the azure! My God, it’s full of azure! I don’t even know where to start, so how about this brand new piece in dark azure?
While this 6x6x2 round brick appears to be the only totally new part (in other words, from a brand new mold), there are more parts in dark azure for the first time than I can list here. For example, the set includes 4 1×2 brackets in dark azure, plus 2 more of the “inverted” versions, typically only available in boring “internal” colors like light gray. Similarly, there are a whopping 30 1×2 tiles, 33 1×2 plates, 16 double-wide cheese slopes, and so on. The designers have even used the rare color in places where the bricks aren’t visible in the finished car (as long as the same bricks are also used elsewhere).
Also noteworthy is that several key pieces are printed. The VW logo on both the hood and gas cap under the hood is printed on a 1×1 round tile, and since they’re built from separate bags, you end up with two extra tiles. The top of the beer can in the red cooler (hey, it’s an “Expert” set geared toward nostalgic adults, right?) is also printed, and you end up with an extra of that tile as well.
For over a thousand parts at a hundred bucks, including hundreds of rare dark azure pieces in a huge range of shapes, you can’t go wrong here.
The set depicts a 1960’s Beetle kitted out for a day of fun in the sun at the beach. Like the charming little extras that came with the Mini Cooper, this set includes a surfboard, cooler, and even a striped beach towel. LEGO Scala Man is perfect for this set, complete with turtleneck and cargo pants.
(Note: Slightly out-of-scale LEGO Scala Man not actually included. If you want your own LEGO Scala Man — his name is “Chris” — you can pick him up new for about $5, which is just over half of what he retailed for in 2000. Not all LEGO appreciates like gold. See also, Galidor.)
All of the gear fits on a cool roof rack, with some rubber bumpers to hold everything in place.
The roof itself comes off so you can check out the mostly tan interior.
The Beetle has a surprising amount of functionality, including seats that fold forward so people relegated to the back seat can clamber in.
While the wheel doesn’t do anything (a lost opportunity for working steering, as Ralph pointed out in his review of the Mini Cooper), the Beetle includes a parking brake and manual gearshift so you can exert total control over that high-performance 40 horsepower engine.
Speaking of the engine, the 1200 cc, 4-cylinder engine appears in the same place as the Porsche 911 GT3 RS — in the back.
The hood opens to reveal the spare tire and gas tank (useful as a crumple zone in front collisions), whose cap has another printed VW logo.
Finally, it’s worth comparing this Beetle with some of its LEGO forebears. Here it is with the Camper Van, proving how wonderfully they go together.
This new Beetle is substantially smaller than 10187 Volkswagen Beetle from 2008, and has about 500 fewer parts. I know many LEGO collectors loved this older set, but I much prefer the smooth shaping and curves of the new version. Plus, DARK AZURE!!!
You can also see a few more photos in our album on Flickr.
Even though this set doesn’t include a LEGO Scala Man named Chris wearing a turtleneck and cargo pants, it’s still a pretty groovy set. For $100, you get over 1,100 pieces, including a massive amount of dark azure. In addition to great parts, a fun build, and cool play features, this is a stellar display set.
As you can probably tell already from my writeup so far, this was a joyous build that had me grinning often as I built the set. I rarely recommend buying two of a set, but I’m doing so here — buy one for the parts (I expect to see plenty of azure spaceships at BrickCon in three months), and buy one to display proudly in your LEGO room or at work — mine is going on a shelf in my office next to my Mini Cooper.
LEGO sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set to review. Providing TBB with products for review does not guarantee coverage or a positive review.
Ayrlego has been working on some medieval creations and has united them to come up with a larger diorama. The crowded display mainly depicts a market place, but a tavern and a royal building delicately occupy the background. The masonry and roof tiling on the buildings are quite elaborate. A band of pikemen, a small pen for pigs, an eastern caravan, a monument and a nice collection of flags add more detail to the scenery. And a cobblestone pavement perfectly matches the entrance of the angled royal building. Take a closer look and enjoy the special brew of fine apple cider that Ainesford is famous for!
Amazon is making tons of money by allowing cheap, counterfeit Chinese goods to be sold directly to their customers. There’s no quality control, and the scammers are doing a very good job masking the terrible quality and origin of the garbage they are selling.
Amazon should block these sellers, and protect its customers.
And now, John's Handy Reaction Gifs.
(You might want to give this post a moment to load)
When I see a date like this on a cake:
When I see bakers trying to write text speak:
When I can't tell if the cake is supposed to be dirty or not:
When someone sends in a picture of a "good" cupcake cake (patoiee!) to try and prove they're not all bad:
And finally, when Jen tries to post a cake she really shouldn't post and I have to stop her:
Thanks to Rich H., Cindi L., Candice B., Haylie E., & Amber J., who I hope appreciate the irony of my posting a cake I've been telling Jen she can't post for at least 6 years now.
A good solid door. On any space station, it’s the only thing standing between you and the dark, dangerous, cold of hard vacuum. Sad Brick‘s latest model focuses in on this essential part of any space facility — and this door certainly looks like it can take the pressure.
The vehicle and the little droid are cool, and I like the details and texture on the walls. But the door itself is the undoubted star of this show, with huge hinges and the use of slope bricks suggesting an appropriate heft. This is clearly a serious portal — not for casual opening.
This white woman’s shocking account of police brutality reveals the importance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement
Molly Suzanna shared a story on Facebook that she had never told before: when she was 19, she ran a red light while crying, then was pulled over and forcefully removed and beaten by a police officer. She explains in the letter that she believes her situation would have been even worse had she been black — and she ends the letter with an important call to action.
It’s terrible that police officers were murdered in Dallas — that was an unforgivable act of inexcusable violence. But now the police are lashing out, and it’s going to make everything worse. DeRay McKesson was arrested in Baton Rouge: he was “flagged” as a troublemaker for his role as a spokesperson and as someone who was photographing events, and tackled and thrown into jail.
Police, I beg you: stop. You are doing yourselves no favors by denying the legitimacy of the protests, and any sympathy for the genuine difficulty of doing your job is going to evaporate if you continue to confirm a reputation for brutality.
Also, the visuals are going to simply demolish the case for a valuable service that “protects and serves”. You cannot win against this.
I have to ask, who arrived dressed for violence and rioting? Who stands both fearless and with dignity?
If you’re one of those people who argues that it’s the criminality of the citizenry that provokes police violence, that if only black people would stop committing crimes, they wouldn’t get shot, you might want to look at the data: there is no correlation between community violence and the violence of police responses.
While some have blamed violent crime for being responsible for police violence in some communities, data shows that high levels of violent crime in cities did not appear to make it any more or less likely for police departments to kill people.
Over the past several years, police departments in high-crime cities such as Detroit and Newark have consistently killed fewer people per population than police departments in cities with much lower crime rates such as Austin, Bakersfield, and Long Beach.
Rather than being determined by crime rates, police violence reflects a lack of accountability in the culture, policies, and practices of the institutions of policing, as investigations into some of the most violent police departments in America have shown. Campaign Zero, among other initiatives, seeks to directly address the policies and practices that contribute to police violence.
Here’s another report from a black policeman that explains a lot of what is going on.
On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.
The Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland and dominates the skyline of the Polish capital, Warsaw. Łukasz Libuszewski has not only recreated the building in LEGO but has also managed to capture his creation in a beautifully atmospheric photograph.
The building’s art deco style is achieved with clean lines, grille tiles for the tall windows and some lovely detailing using texture bricks. I particularly like the seemingly simple parts used by the builder to represent the decorative masonry atop the walls, the original architect purposefully copied this from Renaissance houses and palaces of Kraków and Zamośćthat – a tile with clip and technic gear rack.
The full sets of photographs and views of the Palace of Culture and Science can be seen on Flickr.
This is kind of awesome: cephalopods only have one kind of photoreceptor, so it was thought that they would be only able to see the world in shades of gray. Those amazingly clever camouflage tricks they pull? That was just matching intensities and textures, fooling our eyes. But now someone has figured out a way they could see color, and special bonus, it also explains those funky weird pupil shapes, like you see in the cuttlefish eye to the right.
They use chromatic aberration! We think of chromatic aberration as an imaging problem — it’s caused by the fact that the degree refraction of light is partly dependent on wavelength, so the blue light in an image focuses closer to the lens than the red light. When you focus optimally on the green wavelengths, for instance, that means that the red and blue colors form an out of focus, blurry image on top of the sharp greens, producing a pattern of color fringes around objects. They jump out clearly to me when I use the cheap student microscopes here, and are why I spent a lot of extra money getting planapochromat lenses for my microscope. They have lots of corrective glass to tweak the different wavelengths into the same focal plane.
But where I see an annoyance, cephalopods evolved an opportunity. Where an object comes into sharpest focus on the eye can actually tell you what wavelengths are — so by focusing backwards and forwards on something, they can extract a rough idea of its color.
And that leads into the next nifty explanation. Where I want to minimize chromatic aberration, cephalopods want to increase it…and as it turns out, having weird off-axis apertures causes more disparity in the focal plane of different wavelengths of light, which makes it easier to discriminate color using this mechanism.
Chromatic blur and pupil geometry. The (A) full and (C) annular aperture pupils produce more chromatic blurring (CB) than (B) the small on-axis pupil, because they transmit rays with a larger ray height h. Vertical lines show best focus positions for blue, green, and red light.
It’s settled then. Cephalopods are cleverer than we are. Or maybe it’s evolution that is smarter than we are. One of those two.
Stubbs AL, Stubbs CW (2016) Spectral discrimination in color blind animals via chromatic aberration and pupil shape. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jul 5. pii: 201524578. [Epub ahead of print]
ZCerberus will make Benny The Spaceman very happy with this huge star-base built in Classic Space colors. The model was created for Brickworld to play host to the builder’s spaceship display.
The base is very smart, with nice landing pad details and good rockwork. But take a closer look at some of the spaceships themselves…
The little Blue Jacket fighter craft is eminently swooshable, but my favourite of the collection has to be this bad boy — the Firemoth. Check out the gray-greebly-awesomeness of its wings — amazing.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, the display looks pretty cool in the dark too…
My roommate received this email from a Microsoft recruiter today. pic.twitter.com/90Qwr78eGO
— Patrick Burtchaell (@pburtchaell) July 6, 2016
It's always horrible when olds try to emulate the style of the kids, which makes this attempt by Microsoft to attract interns particularly toe-curling. Twitter user Patrick Burtchaell says that his roommate received the youth lingo-infused e-mail from a Microsoft recruiter, and it brings to mind that scene from 30 Rock.
How do you do, fellow kids?
Translation was needed for some of the more senior (in age rather than tenure) members of the Ars Staff: "bae" is a term of endearment equivalent in meaning to "babe," "hella noms" means "lots of food," and "getting lit" means "getting drunk or high."
The best, by which I mean worst, part of the e-mail is that it gets the lingo wrong. "Drank" does not mean "drink." "Drank" means "cough syrup;" specifically, cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine that is consumed recreationally. Opioids like codeine are routinely abused to get high, and, when combined with the antihistamine promethazine, can produce feelings of euphoria.
There’s some lovely color blocking and striping on display here, but it’s the jagged recessed area filled with dark gray greebles which steals the show. Nice work on the tiny trans-yellow windows up front too — done with regular 1×2 plates “split” with some gray tape.
As well as the great build itself, Michał has deployed some good photo-editing skills to launch the ship up into space where it belongs…
This is not a radical proposal — it’s actually simple common sense.
This week, Alton Sterling was shot by the police — his “crime” was either having a gun (which, as the NRA frequently tells us, is perfectly legal) or selling CDs, which may have been illegal, but did not to be dealt with with violence. It’s telling that no one can even say what he did wrong to justify his execution.
Yesterday, Philando Castile was killed for having a broken brake light, right here in my state, in Roseville.
Both murders were caught on video. I expect none of the police officers will face any serious penalties for murdering black men.
But I have a serious question about these incidents. Why are the police armed? Do you need a gun to issue traffic citations? I remember when the police would send a representative to my public school — that “Officer Friendly” crap — and they always had a great big scary handgun strapped to their hip. Why? Were they concerned that a firefight might break out in the fifth grade?
All those policemen patrolling the streets, looking for parking infractions or speeders or jaywalkers…they don’t need guns to do their job. Given that many of them are turning out to be bullying cowards, having a gun is even a detriment to their role of defending the law and the public peace.
So disarm them. Keep a few weapons back in the police station that can be issued to deal with specific situations in which they are necessary, but for the most part, guns are totally inappropriate for the job at hand. This would have a number of beneficial effects. For one, the swaggering assholes who need their firearm to be tough would quit, and good riddance to them. For another, the police would actually have to take non-violent approaches to confrontations seriously. Maybe they’d live up to the title of “peace officer”.
I know what the arguments against this proposal will be: but then civilians will be more heavily armed than the police! After all, Philando Castile had a handgun — which he openly declared, and had a permit for — so what is the policeman to do?
That’s easy. If he were scared, the appropriate response would have been to run away, and call for assistance. But in this case, there was no sign that the man in the car was a threat. All escalation was caused by the armed policeman. Except for the fact that the policeman drew a gun and shot the man, this whole incident should have ended with a warning or ticket given to the driver, and everyone would have gone on their way.
You know what else tells me that the police don’t deserve to be armed? What they did with the murdered man’s girlfriend. They had just shot the man, she was weeping and worried about her daughter, and they handcuffed her and took her to the police station, when they should have been helping her get to her boyfriend’s side at the hospital. That made no sense. She was not a threat. She had done nothing wrong, other than maybe having a car with a broken taillight. Yet they treated her like the criminal, after murdering her boyfriend in front of her.
I’m white, and I don’t trust the police. They’re out of control everywhere. It’s time to change.
Chris McVeigh is on target with his latest build of NASA’s space probe Juno. Just as the actual space probe enters Jubiter’s orbit this week after a five-year cruise, Chris releases his own version of the famous space probe built from LEGO. This LEGO version is a great representation of Juno, with accurate shaping and colouring although a much smaller price tag.
In a lovely twist, Juno has carried three aluminium LEGO minifigures with her on the journey to Jupiter. Our original post about the launch of Juno and her minifigure passengers was back in 2011 so it’s great to hear of the successful mission.
Everyone knows Paul Hetherington is no stranger to phenomenal Batman-themed dioramas. Even so, I was completely blown away by Paul’s latest Batman build. This thing is brimming with clean lines, super-sharp details, and even moving parts! The 1950s Batman logo looks like a sticker rather than LEGO brick and the dual-distanced skyline is simply inspired. The Art Deco theater gives me chills it’s so good. Even the lamp posts look like tiny pieces of art. Seriously, look at a closeup photo and tell me you’re not going to start redecorating your living room in brown, black, and gold today. I know I am!
Paul explained that he modeled his Gotham theater off of the Marbro Theater which used to stand in Chicago. He also posted a terrific video showing all of the amazing power functions. Check it out here:
Check out more photos of this amazingly-detailed build on Flickr.
Hmmm….this doesn’t seem to be working so well. I clearly need a bigger blanket.