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22 Jul 09:52

VICE News: Fake Funerals in South Korea

Despite its booming economy, the people of South Korea have never been more unhappy. With an average of 43 suicides per day, it's the suicide capital of the developed world and Asia's unhappiest nation.

Unsurprisingly, this apparent paradox has provoked much soul-searching within South Korea. A result of this is the "Well Dying" – or "Near Death" – movement, which aims to give people a little taste of death to replenish their appetite for life.

Perhaps the most bizarre manifestation of this movement is the rise of "fake funeral" services, where participants are lectured by a philosophical guru and told to write their own eulogies, before spending 30 minutes meditating inside a coffin.

VICE Japan correspondent Yuka Uchida headed to Seoul to try to experience her own "death" at a fake funeral ceremony.

21 Jul 10:44

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies

by Michael Zhang

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh avatar copy

No, the creepy face above isn’t a still frame of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named taken from one of the Harry Potter films. It’s actually a composite portrait of countless faces found in the 2009 James Cameron science fiction film Avatar.

South Korean artists Shin Seung Back and Kim Yong Hun of the Seoul-based group Shinseungback Kimyonghun had a computer create the image using facial recognition software.

Here’s what they did: after loading up Avatar onto the computer, they collected every 24 frames from the film — roughly one frame for each second in the movie. They then passed the frames through the face detection program to only collect the frames that contain human faces. Finally, they lined up the faces and averaged the pixels, resulting in what you see above.

Here’s a video that shows the averaging in action:

“The composite image reflects the centric figure(s) and the visual mood of the movie,” the artists write.

Here are some of the other composite portraits they’ve created so far using other movies. See if you can determine what movie was used to make each one (answers at the end):

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh amelie copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh black swan copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh kill bill vol 1 copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh mission impossible copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh oldboy copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh taxi driver copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh the bourne identity copy

Averaged Portraits Created Using Faces Found in Popular Movies ssbkyh the matrix copy

Here are the answers in order: Amelie, Black Swan, Kill Bill (Vol 1), Mission Impossible, Oldboy, Taxi Driver, The Bourne Identity, and The Matrix.

“Portrait” by Shinseungback Kimyonghun (via Gizmodo)

Image credits: Images by Shinseungback Kimyonghun and used with permission

20 Jul 15:54

On #FreedomToOffend - Part I

by Maggie S
(Please also see On #FreedomToOffend - Part II)

I have already summarised part of why Twitter-related arrests and sentencing in the UK are problematic from the point of view of inadequate legislation, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology involved on the part of prosecutors and the judiciary.

Two cases in the past month raise a series of questions regarding Twitter arrests. The first case is that of Ben Townsend, 25, of Cheltenham, who tweeted racist abuse at footballers Adebayo Akinfenwa and Clarke Carlisle; the second case is that of  Deyka Ayan Hassan, 21, of Harrow, who tweeted jokingly about the "Help for Heroes" t-shirt worn by drummer Lee Rigby in the Woolwich beheading in May this year. Part I of this discussion (this post) will only address the case of Ben Townsend. Part II will follow with a discussion of Deyka Hassan's case.

Ben Townsend admitted two charges of sending an offensive message by a public communications network, presumably under s127 of the Communications Act 2003[i]. CPS guidelines on communication offences state that under s127 of this act, "if a message sent is grossly offensive, indecent, obscene, menacing or false it is irrelevant whether it was received. The offence is one of sending so it is committed when the sending takes place."

Ben Townsend (@towner1987, whose tweets are now protected) tweeted (published via Twitter) the following:

  • @clarkecarlisle5 stupid coon fuckoff #cunt
  • @daRealAkinfenwa you fat bastard!!!, need to run that fat of u lump #monkeyboy
  • @clarkecarlisle5 fair play your the biggest cunt going, dirty cheating fucking bastard!! call your self part of the pfa... your a joke #cunt

His tweet to Clarke Carlisle received a response in the form of a quote and reply: 

In quoting Townsend's original tweet, Carlisle gave it a greater audience (Clarke Carlisle has over 70,000 followers, compared to Townsend's near 100 at the time of the offence). This increased audience led to a series of further reactions, some of which dismissive ("An amoeba, mate"), and some clearly more aggressive ("have him killed clarke!"), as pictured below. Such extreme reactions are common for the internet and far predate Twitter.

Award-winning @MentalHealthCop Inspector Michael Brown made Townsend aware of the fact that "the outrageous and offensive racism in your tweets is a criminal offence - I am going to report it.": 

The issue was subsequently followed up by Gloucestershire Police (@Glos_Police)[ii], who promised to be "coming a knocking for this individual!":

Townsend was sentenced on July 4: he was ordered to pay each of the footballers £500, and complete 200 hours of unpaid community service (high level community order). 

In this case, despite the clear racial slurs used in the tweets ("coon", and "monkeyboy"), it has not been reported whether Townsend has been found guilty of a racially aggravated offence. Should the offence have allegedly been racially aggravated, then there would be a need to show, as per the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report and CPS prosecution policy, that the incident "was perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person"; however, as mentioned, the offense takes place at the point at which the message is sent. The most important point to note in this is that s127 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to publish a grossly offensive message, thus allowing someone to be penalised for an action that is entirely (culturally, morally, personally) subjective. The case of  Deyka Hassa will further illustrate the impact that this has, and how it should truly shock the reader. 

Additionally, it should be noted that there exist other offences for similar behaviour (engaging in public racist abuse against footballers) such as the offence of engaging in racialist chanting at a football match, whether alone or in a group, as created under Section 3 of the Football Offences Act 1991. This offence can carry a level 3 fine and, in addition to this, incur a ban from any football match. The CPS Racist and Religious Crime guidance suggests that other legislative tools may be more appropriate for similar offences taking place outside major league football stadiums, such as public order offences.

It is reported that Townsend holds a previous conviction for criminal damage, and that he pleaded guilty to the charges. A previous conviction may increase the severity of the penalty, as per the Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guide, and a guilty plea may reduce the severity of the sentence (see Appendix 1). Overall, it seems that the sentence Townsend received is in line with what could be expected if he were, say, to have shouted at the footballers in the street.

This is where I depart from a strictly academic discussion of facts, and consider this from a personal point of view, making several subjective points. The issue with this case is not that penalty is not in line with what one would expect in other contexts, but that in a practical sense it is arbitrary to police Twitter in such a way, and the penalty compared to the act can seem disproportionate. Two adults in a public exchange: one provokes, one responds, and it seems unlikely that with the physical distance it could escalate beyond exchanging unpleasant words. Carlisle responded. Not only did he respond, he also triggered several far more aggressive responses from third parties, including highly eager calls for police involvement (who "came a knocking", which in itself seems to indicate a rather enthusiastic response to this call of duty).

It seems almost to defy belief that a couple of rude comments could carry such a sentence; that being offensive and uncouth in a brief exchange is a crime - what has society gained from this?
And it seems expected that we as adults can have such thin skin and require police involvement, and take such pleasure out of the whole process. I imagine that if settling matters in a civil court for damages it would be a challenge for the footballers (or their legal counsel) to prove loss.

I have highlighted in part why the current system of prosecution and sentencing does not seem to fit with the reality of the Internet, although it by no means covers all possible ground. Even with the new CPS guidelines, these are not laws, and they come into play once a case has been reported rather than deal with the overall regulation of the Internet. They do not provide a framework solid enough to be reliable, to make the enforcement of the law unambiguous and foreseeable.

[i] Although most news articles state that he was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act 1988; for different uses of these statues please refer to the CPS guidelines regarding communications offences
[ii] The white tick in a blue shape by the username indicates that this is an account verified by Twitter as real. In this case, it confirms that Glos_Police actually represents Gloucestershire Police.

Appendix 1: Magistrates' Court Sentencing Guide extracts: - Blog
20 Jul 15:38

Before & After: Bulk Powders

by Diane Lindquist

07 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulkPowders 1

Leading European, online sports supplements company, Bulk Powders has re-launched with a new identity, strap-line, packaging range and website, created by branding specialists Robot Food.

Robot Food won a three-way pitch due to the consultancy’s credentials and hands-on approach to strategic design. The brief was to develop an entirely new brand that would display the company’s values, differentiate Bulk Powders from the competition and appeal to a broader market of gym goers as a lifestyle brand, delivering performance products at great value.



Robot Food Design director, Martin Widdowfield explained,

“The sports supplement market has grown massively over the past decade and has broad appeal, yet design is generally dated and overly masculine, focused towards serious muscle mass, rather than sports, wellbeing and lifestyle. For positioning, we looked at trends within categories which the majority of gym goers are interested in. These included headphones, denim, sportswear and personal care. From this we developed the new ‘performance icon’ in a unique green colour. It symbolises progression and movement, and is neither masculine nor feminine. It’s desirable in a similar way that the icons for brands such as, ‘beats by Dre’, or ‘Nike’ are. The new identity is the mark of a leading online retailer, with a strong own brand feel."

Robot Food has previous experience in sports nutrition, having redesigned the identity and packaging for Myprotein, before it was sold to The Hut Group in 2011 for a reported £58million. The consultancy also developed the brand’s strap-line ‘Fuel your ambition’, which went on to be the focus of a huge TV advertising campaign.

Bulk Powders Managing Director, Elliot Dawes said,

“Our customers totally understand why we have moved so far from where we were and are embracing the new look. We’ve never been busier and sales of our new clothing and shakers are through the roof, which is a clear indication of our increased brand appeal. The driving force behind the rebrand was to create a much stronger, fully responsive, e-commerce platform, that would work seamlessly across a variety of devices. The team at Robot Food have delivered beyond expectation, under pressured timescales, to produce a market leading brand which is totally coherent across all touch points.”

Designed by Robot Food, Leeds, UK



07 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 2



07 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 307 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 407 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 507 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 607 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 707 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 807 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 907 16 13 BeforeandAfter BulPowders 10

19 Jul 15:01

So a frog jumped on my window and I decided to take a picture. No effects but flash. I present Spacefrog.

Margarida S

Wouldn't using flash mean the stars wouldn't appear in the photo?

18 Jul 07:51

Saw this happening while walking through the park yesterday. Made my day.

18 Jul 07:28

Legit is hilarious.

Margarida S

I'm glad I don't have to watch this now that I've seen this image.

16 Jul 16:27

No. Not at all. Not a thing people say.

16 Jul 16:22

Finally someone gets it!

Margarida S

I didn't know this.

16 Jul 06:30

This is a clock at my local theatre

Margarida S


15 Jul 18:47

I'm 23 now.

15 Jul 17:55

Literally laughed out loud.

15 Jul 08:33


This is roughly equivalent to 'number of times I've picked up a seashell at the ocean' / 'number of times I've picked up a seashell', which in my case is pretty close to 1, and gets much closer if we're considering only times I didn't put it to my ear.
15 Jul 08:33




Every. Single. Time.

15 Jul 08:32

July 13, 2013

15 Jul 07:55

Unlikely lines from a cosmetics commercial

12 Jul 17:01

Finally, a fight we can all fight. A struggle we can all join. This man is fighting for true freedom.

11 Jul 17:37

July 09, 2013

Margarida S

Sean, does your feed show the actual comic? I only get the extra panel.

11 Jul 11:00

... I wonder if he's an open sourcerer.

11 Jul 10:59

The rest of a fire hydrant.

10 Jul 22:14

When I grill for my girlfriend's family. She will never know.

10 Jul 09:47

Grilled mac and cheese sandwiches in tomato soup shots!

10 Jul 09:28

I cut open 17 golf balls to prove they are all the same inside.

09 Jul 20:58

Squito: A Throwable Panoramic Camera Ball that Captures 360° Aerial Shots

by Eric Calouro

Squito: A Throwable Panoramic Camera Ball that Captures 360° Aerial Shots Squito Throwable Ball

Boston-based artist and inventor Steve Hollinger has just been granted a second patent here in the United States for his Squito invention, a ball sporting embedded cameras and position sensors that allow for panoramic imagery in reconnaissance and recreational situations.

Squito: A Throwable Panoramic Camera Ball that Captures 360° Aerial Shots Squito Throwable Ball 3

The idea is simple. You throw the ball and the orientation sensors capture and process images of Squito’s flight trajectory. The patent outlines that the unit’s orientation sensors snap photos and then re-orient them so as to create a normal images — panoramic images, in fact. These multiple images can be stabilized to allow the camera to capture frames in sequence. What you get, basically, is a pano-video (totally just made that up, but it works) of the ball’s flight. If that’s not cool, we don’t know what is.

Hollinger’s put together a prototype of ball, and it looks pretty neat, if we may say. Coming in at the size of a tennis ball, Squito uses three cameras, an inertial measurement unit, microcontroller, and image processor. Captured media can be wirelessly transmitted to a user’s computer, tablet, or phone.

Squito: A Throwable Panoramic Camera Ball that Captures 360° Aerial Shots Squito Throwable Ball 21

“Throwable camera innovations are accelerating with advancements in sensor and imaging microelectronics,” says Hollinger. “With the advent of low-cost, high-speed cameras for outdoor recreation, an affordable throwable camera is finally within reach.”

(via Serveball via Engadget)

09 Jul 20:56

I've been doing this for years, decided to pass it on

09 Jul 20:46

Very helpful info

Margarida S

No one craves PMS or overeating.

09 Jul 20:30

The best picture I'll ever take: Stingray Hug

Margarida S

isn't that how Steve Irwin died?

09 Jul 20:25

Biodegradable cigarette filters with flower seeds

Margarida S

cancerous flowers!

09 Jul 19:41

Good Morning!!!

09 Jul 13:29

'Ungoogleable' band names: sticking it to The Man or shooting yourself in the foot?

by Nimrod Kamer and Katie Craik
Margarida S

Just add +band +music etc... Although band names like !!! do make it harder.

There has been a rash of bands choosing SEO-unfriendly band names such as Friends, Childhood, Cousins and Feathers. Are they sticking it to The Man or shooting themselves in the foot?

Imagine calling your new app 'Finder'. Not Fndr or Fdr, just Finder. It would be social media harakiri. Why would you name a new product just like an existing word, especially if you don't have the money to own that word?

Now, one would assume new music talents in the hashbuzzage will go to extra lengths picking unique titles for themselves such as Bat for Lashes (singer), Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly (band) or Spandau Ballet (band). Or any name that one can tell a fan on the street without printing a flyer. Rizzle Kicks (duo) are an example of unquestionably specific verbal-syntax unit.

By: Nimrod Kamer and Katie Craik,

Continue reading...