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25 Aug 16:00

The alt right is old racism for the tech-savvy generation | Giles Fraser | Loose canon

by Giles Fraser

Porn and video games are replacing Christianity as the common language of American conservatives

These are good: Vladimir Putin. White identity politics. Star Wars. Austrian free market economics. Donald Trump. LOLs. Bitcoin. Darwinism. Silicon Valley. Science and technology. Transhumanism. Pepe the Frog.

These are bad: Islam. Feminism. Democracy. Black Lives Matter. The new Ghostbusters movie. Egalitarianism. Political correctness. God. Immigration. Hillary Clinton. Newspapers. Government. Academia. Liberalism.

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24 Aug 11:00

Increase in Yellowstone visitors raises park's concerns over wildlife and safety

by Erin FitzGerald

Not mentioned in here though is that the animals themselves are also getting used to people. When I was there, a female elk came terrifyingly close to us while we were walking on a path.

Park rangers reassess how to manage tourist violations, staff burnout and ‘animal jam’ as number of national park guests peaked to four million last year

Yellowstone national park is finding new ways to manage tourism after visits jumped by almost 600,000 between 2014 and 2015. After 15 years of steady growth, last year’s 4m visits was a tipping point, says park ranger Charissa Reid.

The park expects the number to rise in 2016. July is likely to be the first million-visit month in the park’s 144-year history.

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25 Aug 03:16

Hail progress: Singapore launches world's first 'self-driving' taxi service

by Staff and agencies

Trial allows selected passengers to hail a computer-controlled car on their smartphones, with a backup human driver and co-pilot riding shotgun

The world’s first “self-driving” taxi service has been launched in Singapore – albeit with a human backup driver and co-pilot on board for the time being.

Members of the public selected to take part in the trial would be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones, said nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup.

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25 Aug 10:30

Cocks Not Glocks: Texas students carry dildos on campus to protest gun law

by Tom Dart in Austin

Hundreds protested ‘campus carry’ law that permits licensed gun owners aged 21 and older to carry concealed handguns in most places at public colleges

It was a typical scene at the start of the new school year – student groups setting out tables and trying to sign up recruits for sororities, clubs and religious organisations. Until the end of the row, that is, where hundreds of people had gathered to pick up free dildos.

Wednesday’s Cocks Not Glocks protest against Texas’s “campus carry” law was held on the first day of classes at the University of Texas at Austin, which has spearheaded resistance to the new rule from students and faculty members at colleges in the state.

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09 May 23:05

Tagging Tokyo's streets with no name

by Michael Fitzpatrick
The famously baffling metropolis is home to an experiment in ubiquitous computing that could transform the city

If you have ever enjoyed frustration-free, satnav assisted drives or the hissing serenade that preceded an important fax, then you can thank the city with no street names - Tokyo.

A capital city without road names is a huge handicap. Collectively, the Japanese (especially trainee post workers) and bewildered visitors have spent decades lost in Tokyo's labyrinthine arteries - most, literally, without a name.

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24 Aug 13:53

Someone Probably Just Revealed Colonel Sanders’s Top-Secret KFC Recipe

by Clint Rainey

The Chicago Tribune may have just stumbled upon a food-industry scoop for the ages. It sent a reporter to visit the Harland Sanders Café and Museum in Kentucky for what started out as a standard travel piece, but ended with a fried-chicken recipe containing “11 spices” and utter...More »

22 Aug 08:48

Harley Quinn Shouldn’t Be Defined As A Domestic Abuse Victim

by Cameron Glover

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an unabashed comics fangirl. I’ve bought and devoured original comic book material, created cosplay around some of my favorite characters, attended conventions where I could meet and interact with other fans, and otherwise steeped myself in the magical world of comics make-believe.

In the ‘90s, animated adaptations of popular comics served as my entry point into this fandom, entrancing me with their stories of heroes and villains in fantastical worlds. In particular, I was drawn to Batman: The Animated Series. I loved the titular hero’s endless arsenal of gadgets, his double life, and of course, the Rogue’s Gallery of classic villains who are still central to comics culture today.

But what really drew me to Batman was the way that darkness played a key role in the story. This bleakness not only helped me deal with the rejection and violence that existed in my own life, but also provided cathartic escapism by revealing a world in which—in just 30 minutes—justice and righteousness could triumph.

But my ardor for Batman really intensified when I first met Harley Quinn.


Unlike the rest of the popular characters within the Batman series, Harley was created specifically for the television show, and wasn’t present in the original comics (she wouldn’t appear in the books until 1993, in The Batman Adventures #12). Her first appearance was in the episode “Joker’s Favor,” in which she causes mayhem across Gotham in order to show her love and devotion to the Joker. I can still remember watching her for the first time, immediately wanting to know more about who this strong, villainous woman was.  

Initially, the creators made it difficult to see beyond Harley’s character-defining relationship with a certain mayhem-loving villain. In this Complex article chronicling the origins and oral history of her character, co-creator Paul Dini says:

“When I was coming up with an idea for the Joker’s gang of hench people, I thought, I’d like to put a female character in there. I was going back and forth in my head about what kind of character she should be. ‘What if she’s funny? What if there is a little bit of a throwback to the henchmen from Batman in the ’60s? What if she gets laughs from the henchmen sometimes when the Joker doesn’t?’ He would get angry at her. She could be a little sprite around him. I’d never seen the Joker really in that dynamic.”

mad loveThis depiction established Harley early on as a character of somewhat limited depth or agency—a secondary “henchman” to the real star of the show, designed to provide levity in a darkly patriarchal and toxically masculine world.

This narrative was further cemented in the 1994 spin-off comic, Batman Adventures: Mad Love, which revealed Harley’s full backstory: Once known as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, she worked as a psychiatrist who wanted to study the Joker; during their sessions together, he manipulated her to fall in love with him, leading her to abandon her life as a psychiatrist and become his partner in chaotic crime. 

If this portrayal of Harley—as lover and foil to a powerful villain—is the one you know, that’s understandable; to this day, it’s how many see the character. Promotional materials surrounding Harley in Suicide Squad have alternatively described her as the Joker’s “sidekick,” “love,” and “girlfriend,” and even a recent LA Times article ostensibly devoted to exploring her character in more depth described her as “[more than] the average henchman” and a “great device to lighten things up.”

More complex still is the fact that the relationship Harley has become defined by is indisputably a problematic one, with episodes of physical and emotional abuse. At times, this has raised valid questions about her character; in the lead-up to the release of Suicide Squad, an MTV News article quoted Dr. Wind Goodfriend, principal researcher for the Institute for the Prevention of Relationship Violence at Buena Vista University, who said:

“If she’s going to be portrayed as a victim of abuse who continues to embrace that abuse and continues to go back to that abusive perpetrator, I think that viewers who are currently or former victims themselves could be re-traumatized by that because they are going to personally respond to the abuse that they see on the screen.”

But while concerns like these are very valid, there can also be a tendency to forget that there’s more to Harley than her status as a victim of domestic violence. Reducing her to a “symbol of domestic abuse,” as she’s been called, is indicative of how victims are often treated . . . as a tragic trope rather than a complex, autonomous individual.

“Harley Quinn is often seen as nothing more than lover and foil to the Joker.”

These conceptualizations are all the more frustrating when you consider how nuanced the character of Harley actually is, especially in more recent depictions. From that first moment I saw her on TV to now, Harley has evolved into one of the most interesting and important comic-book characters this fangirl has ever come to love; a woman who, like all abuse victims, is so much more than that one descriptor. 


After Harley’s success on the small screen, she began appearing in her own comic books—and in more recent years, depictions of her character have changed in dramatic ways. In newer comics, she’s become more independent from the Joker, establishing relationships with other villains and eventually forming the Gang of Harleys, a crew she recruited to help clean up Brooklyn. She also took on new hobbies, like roller derby, and became a therapist again, serving a role somewhere between villain and hero.

She has also been depicted as one of the few openly polyamorous and queer women in the DC universe, engaging in a relationship with the Joker that was re-cast as lesbian, and flirting with fellow Gotham princess Poison Ivy, culminating in a kiss earlier this year. (AfterEllen has an excellent piece exploring more of Harley’s “crypto-queer history.”) 

Gang of Harleys

Gang of Harleys

In light of this more nuanced characterization, it was in some ways disheartening to watch the depiction of Harley in Suicide Squad. The film relied heavily on romanticizing her relationship with the Joker, even going so far as trying to make him sympathetic (there are moments when the film pushes an agenda of making you think “he just really cares about her”), while simultaneously erasing most of her backstory pre-Joker.

But there are also flashes of the qualities that made fans like me fall for her in the first place—like her loyalty to her friends, the complex moral code that dictates her penchant for chaos, and her fully owned sexuality. Moreover, in some ways the film helped to challenge damaging stereotypes about victims; as Mic put it, “Quinn is not weak, malleable or oblivious, per most stereotypes of domestic abuse victims—she’s the opposite. She’s goofy, playful, athletic, confident in her sex appeal and highly skilled in all kinds of combat.”

“Harley Quinn has been depicted as one of the few openly queer women in the DC universe.”

The Suicide Squad depiction of Harley was by no means perfect, but it reinvigorated the need to familiarize ourselves with this powerful character. She can’t be solely defined by her relationship with the Joker. Nor can she be defined solely as a domestic violence victim—no one can, or should.

At her core, Harley Quinn continues to grow and adapt into a woman who cannot be easily defined, be it through her past life as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, her new relationship with Poison Ivy, or anything else—and that’s okay, perhaps even far more than okay. She works on her own terms, straddling the line between villain and anti-hero, all the while maintaining the freedom of self-expression. In this way, she encourages others to do the same—either on the fictional pages of a comic book with her, or in the real world.

“Harley Quinn continues to grow and adapt into a woman who cannot be easily defined.”

We owe it to ourselves and the Harley Quinns of the world to push past the limitations of her character. We owe it to ourselves to challenge our collective expectations of women who have experienced violence or hardship or marginalization.

Most importantly, we owe it to ourselves to crave to be defined by something more.


Lead image: deviantart/nightangel5431

The post Harley Quinn Shouldn’t Be Defined As A Domestic Abuse Victim appeared first on The Establishment.

23 Aug 18:27

Watch a Young Helen Mirren Stand Up to Grotesquely Sexist Interviewer in 1975

In 1975, Helen Mirren was already an accomplished stage actress in the U.K.—a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company who was beginning to branch out into occasional television roles and was gearing up to play Lady Macbeth. As such, she was invited to appear on Michael Parkinson's long-running talk show Parkinson to chat about her on-the-rise career. Rather, that is what she probably thought she was being invited to discuss. Instead, the host welcomed Mirren to the stage after introducing her as "a sex queen" and quoting a theater critic, who wrote in one review, "She is especially telling in projecting sluttish eroticism."

If you thought that welcoming a young actress onstage by essentially telling her she is very convincing as a whore was as bad as it gets, guess again! While Mirren, soft-spoken and visibly nervous, did her best to brush off this insult, Parkinson continued, saying, "You are, in quotes, a serious actress." (Yes, Parkinson made air quote fingers while not noticing that his foot was now lodged calf-deep in his throat.)

"In quotes?" asked Mirren, trying to protest in the most graceful way possible. "What do you mean in quotes? How dare you."

"Serious actress," Parkinson explained, "as opposed to an unserious actress."

Mirren visibly winced, but kept listening.

"Do you find it to be fact that, what could be best described as your equipment," Parkinson continued, "hinders you in that pursuit [of being considered a serious actress]?"

Unable to let him off the hook, Mirren said, "I'd like you to explain what you mean by my equipment in greater detail."

"Your physical attributes," Parkinson said.

"You mean my fingers?" countered Mirren.

Once Parkinson finally spat out the word "figure," Mirren asked him, "Because serious actresses can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?"

"I think it might detract from the performance," Parkinson hedged, "If you know what I mean."

"I can't say that would necessarily be true. I mean what a crummy performance if people are obsessed with the size of your bosom over anything else. I would hope that the performance and the play and the living relationship between all the people on the stage and all the people in the audience would overcome such . . . boring questions, really."

Although Parkinson said he would switch subjects, he later asked her about a comment she made stating that she was attracted to men with greasy hair and leather jackets. Laughing, she replied with another deserved dig. "It's not so much that I like men who look like that . . . but I strongly dislike men who look in another way," she said, glancing down at his jacket. "Like men who wear very nicely cut suits."

A few minutes later, Parkinson asked if she felt comfortable taking her clothes off for a film. Mirren replied, "There are lots of reasons for feeling uncomfortable about taking your clothes off in a movie. And one of them is that basically whatever the director says, basically it's being done for commercial reasons. It's a male chauvinist . . . "

With a glint in her eye, she interrupted herself to say, "You know that phrase, I'm sure." She added, "I do think that if girls have to take their clothes off on film sets then everyone should do it."

Decades later, the interview still understandably rankled Mirren. When it surfaced on YouTube, the Oscar- and Tony-winning actress watched it herself.

"That's the first talk show I'd ever done," she later told The Telegraph. “I was terrified. I watched it and I actually thought, bloody hell! I did really well. I was so young and inexperienced. And he was such a fucking sexist old fart. He was. He denies it to this day that it was sexist, but of course he was."

She told Bust that Parkinson was "an extremely creepy interviewer." And in 2006, Helen got the chance to tell Parkinson as much to his face. During an interview about her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II — is nothing sacred — Parkinson, again, brought up her breasts.

"I'm glad you mentioned that Michael," Mirren interjected. "Because you can't resist can you . . . This was the problem the first time we ever met." Briefing the audience, she said, "He had to talk about my breasts. Here we are full circle."

"Now to be fair to me, they were hanging out," Parkinson said. Outraged, Mirren corrected him, "No they weren't! Excuse me. I want to see a bit of that film. I swear they weren’t and anyway, breasts don't 'hang' out. That's a rude way to put it."

Although Parkinson tried to downplay the first interview, calling them both "a lot sillier" in their youth, Mirren would not let up in her correct memory of the confrontation. "I hated you," Mirren announced. "I thought you were a sexist person for mentioning my breasts."

Watch Mirren's exclusive MAKERS story in the video player above.

More From Vanity Fair:
• Helen Mirren Reveals the Movie That Made Her Regret Not Having Children
• Helen Mirren Gave Susan Sarandon This Career Advice
• Helen Mirren Has One Good Thing to Say About “Madame” Kim Kardashian
• Helen Mirren Boards Fast and Furious 8, Fulfilling Her Life’s “Great Ambition”

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Gary Cameron

23 Aug 11:00

The political crusades targeting national parks for drilling and exploitation

by Oliver Milman

Hailed as ‘America’s best idea’, the parks are hugely popular with the public but face political efforts to lift federal protection and allow private development

“It’s easy to feel besieged here,” said Wendy Ross, superintendent of the Theodore Roosevelt national park. Ross’s park, named after the “conservationist president” who helped to keep America’s natural treasures unspoiled, is surrounded by oil and gas drilling that has transformed the landscape.

Related: 100 years of America’s national parks – in pictures

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23 Aug 17:08

A Deep Dive Into the Harassment Allegations Against Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly—and Scott Brown

by Mark Joseph Stern

Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit in New York state court on Monday alleging that she suffered frequent and outrageous sexual harassment during her time at the network. The suit implicates former chief executive Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly—few surprises there based on recent and past history. But perhaps more damningly, the suit also claims that Bill Shine, one of the men who replaced Ailes as co-president of Fox News, enabled Tantaros’ mistreatment—and accuses former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown of harassment. Here’s a deep dive into the biggest allegations in the suit.

As my Slate colleague Nora Caplan-Bricker noted, Tantaros’ complaint begins by declaring that “Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” It goes on to back up each of these claims, especially with regard to Ailes, whom former Fox star Gretchen Carlson sued for harassment this summer. Since then, at least 20 other women have accused Ailes of harassment; most have requested anonymity.

Among other transgressions Tantaros details in her complaint, Ailes allegedly:

  • Told Tantaros to “come over here so I can give you a hug” asked her to “turn around so I can get a good look at you” (twice), and said, “I bet you look good in a bikini.”
  • Asked Tantaros whether Greg Gutfeld and Dana Perino are each gay, then (puzzlingly) asked whether they were “sleeping together.”
  • Called various female Fox contributors “easy,” “nuts,” “fat,” and “a stalker.”
  • Said Dana Perino “is uptight. You get the feeling that she never lets her hair down, but if she did, she’d be a good time.”
  • Said Kimberly Guilfoyle is a “Puerto Rican whore” and a “Puerto Rican streetfighter.”
  • Asserted that Harris Faulkner “has the tendency to look like the angry black woman.”

Tantaros eventually confronted Ailes, criticizing his “upsetting” and “unprofessional conduct.” In response, Irena Briganti, head of the network’s media relations, allegedly retaliated. The lawsuit claims that Briganti blocked Tantaros from prime-time shows, and booked her for an interview that dwelt on her physical attributes, including her breasts. Briganti also purportedly created fake social media accounts to harass Tantaros online. Eventually, Tantaros asked Shine whether Ailes and Briganti were targeting her. According to the complaint, Shine:

told Tantaros that Briganti “is like a rabid dog on a chain that we can’t control. Sometimes that dog gets off the chain.” He then pointed to a magazine cover which had a picture of Ailes on the cover, and said: “You see him? He’s a very powerful man. This powerful man has faith in Irena Briganti.” He then told Tantaros that she should not “fight this” and that she “needed to let this one go.”

Briganti is still head of corporation communications at Fox.

In spite of this harassment, Tantaros believed she had a strong relationship with Bill O’Reilly, whom she viewed as a friend and a mentor. But in February of 2016, O’Reilly also allegedly “started sexually harassing” Tantaros by:

(a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.”

When rumors of O’Reilly’s advances spread, the network informed Tantaros that she would no longer appear on his show.

The lawsuit also suggests that the network allowed guests to harass Tantaros with impunity. Here’s its description of Scott Brown’s advances toward Tantaros on-set at her show, Outnumbered:

On or about August 18, 2015, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown appeared on Outnumbered. Brown made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set, including, and in a suggestive manner, that Tantaros “would be fun to go to a nightclub with.” After the show was over, Brown snuck up behind Tantaros while she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist. She immediately pulled back, telling Brown to “stop.” Tantaros then immediately met with Shine to complain, asking him to ensure that Brown would never be booked on the show again. Shine said that he would talk to Scott. Thereafter, Shine and Scott ignored Tantaros’s complaint, and continued to book Brown on Outnumbered.

On Tuesday, Brown described this account as “completely and totally false.”

When Tantaros complained about the pattern of harassment at Fox, the network allegedly retaliated with vigor and celerity. Tantaros claims that Fox launched a “media assault” against her, excluding her from popular programs, vilifying her in the press, and barring her from promoting her book on air—a right guaranteed by her contract.

In May, Fox commenced arbitration proceedings, offering Tantaros a settlement that would prevent her from speaking publicly about “her experiences with Fox … from now until forever.” But Fox allegedly leaked information about the arbitration to the press, a violation of the proposed settlement’s terms. Tantaros now argues that because Fox itself breached the terms of arbitration, she may proceed with a lawsuit in court. She is suing for sexual harassment, as well as retaliation for reporting that harassment, in violation of New York City and state employment discrimination law.

Ailes, Shine, Briganti, and two other executives are named defendants in the suit, as well as the Fox News network itself. O’Reilly and Brown are not named. Tantaros is requesting millions of dollars in damages for lost income and mental anguish, as well as punitive damages against her alleged harassers.

22 Aug 16:30

Otakon 2016: General Impressions

by reversethieves

narutaki_icon_4040_round When we did our pre-Otakon podcast, we felt like the Otakon staff were not dialing it in as was a concern for a number of people. There were guests both from Japan and from the U.S., premieres, concerts, autographs, and all the other things we’ve come to expect. Though most admitted to feeling like the con was missing a central, tentpole event, there was still a lot to look forward to.

Otakon 2016 was my busiest yet, in phenomenal ways, and yet I can’t pick out a singular favorite moment from the weekend. At least not one that was specific to the convention itself (amazing friends, amazing food don’t count). I’m proud of the interviews we did, but was personally less impressed with the overall presentation of the con as a whole. It was no one thing that contributed to the feeling either.

Something about this year just felt a little off. Maybe it was the impending move; that sense of change in the air, that seemed to pervade my mood over the weekend.

hisui_icon_4040_round You’re leaving your significant other due to moving half way across the world for a great new job. It was a no-brainer to accept the position. The new career pays more and is far more rewarding. You debated the move for such a long time but when push came to shove it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.  Your relationship with your partner was hardly perfect. You had your issues but none of them were toxic. They were all things that could have been worked through if you had the time. It was mostly just the fact your need to advance your career and your life with this new job was more than what you had invested in this relationship.

Just before the move you and your partner have one last meal together. It is not exactly a date or a celebration. It almost feels like a dinner after a wake. It is a ceremony to help deal with the upcoming feelings of loss more than anything else. The meal is pleasant. Nothing harsh is really said. There are even some wonderful moments that remind you why you and your partner were together in the first place. It is far from a miserable affair but it is still slightly awkward despite the best efforts on everyone’s part. You leave the restaurant with a mixture of sadness and fear tinged with some hope that the upcoming new beginning will make this all worthwhile.

I think it is fairly obvious all of this is a metaphor for the last Otakon in Baltimore. Kate’s conflicted feelings about the event summed up everyone’s feelings. Otakon 2016 has a so many clashing emotions and ideas that need to be unpacked to fully understand this convention. If you don’t mind too much we are going to try to work through our experiences in this post while we give a con report as a by-product.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Once the weekend got into full swing, it started to feel like Otakon was already leaving Baltimore behind. Before anyone had really touched down in the Inner Harbor we saw guest cancellations, completely out of the conventions control, kick things off. Some of the hottest and most humid weather ever wrapped the area in a haze the days and nights. Technical difficulties plagued panelist newbies and veterans alike. The overall quality of fan panels, which is one of Otakon’s strongest points, even seemed to have dipped a little.

Otakon’s 2016 attendance numbers made a comeback though from a stumble in 2015. It almost felt like last year, Otakon was saying, “Don’t worry about the D.C. move we are still putting on a great con!” But people didn’t come. Then, when everyone seemed to be over the shock of a move in the future, Otakon became the one under-delivering.

hisui_icon_4040_round I love Tamamo-no-Mae as a Fate Universe Servant and therefore being buried in the ample bosom of an aspect of the sun goddess Amaterasu is normally something that you would pray for. Sadly, in this case, it was merely torturing as the day-star poured down nothing but heat and humidity. It was supposed to rain but it never did. Theoretically, it could have taken some of the edges of the oppressive atmosphere but it also meant that we were never caught unexpectedly in the middle of a downpour as well. It definitely made it so you wanted to spend as little time outside as you could. Anyone hoping for a mild Otakon was going to be greatly disappointed.

It was also fairly obvious that the attendance numbers were more than 2015 but less than 2014. It was a rare occurrence to hit a major traffic jam at the critical choke points last year. The sky bridges occasionally were a little backed up last year but those instances were few and far between. The horrific traffic jams in 2013 and 2014 were infamous and often made crossing the convention center an ordeal. This year was clearly in between those two extremes. While it was not the sometimes oddly lightly traveled hallways of last year it was also not the crazy crowding of Otakon at its height.

It is also worth noting that mailing out badges made everything run like clockwork on Thursday. It was easy to miss mostly because not that many people commented on it. The thing was there was no army of fans who could not get their badges on Thursday, people angrily tweeting as they wait outside on Friday, or anyone loudly mentioning how they missed half of the day despite getting to the BCC early. In fact, no one was loudly proclaiming that this must be a convention for Naver’s application or for infinity long geometric objects. (OK, No one actually makes jokes like that. They just shout, “WELCOME TO LINE CON” and then just wait for a dozen other people to repeat the same stale shout meme but I would ask that you afford me a bit of artistic license.) It was a miracle.

It was also important to note that I also did not notice some insane uptick in the number of people at the convention with counterfeit badges like a reverse New York Comic Con. One of the major reasons (but not the only reason) Otakon has always been hesitant to mail badges has been that they were worried about a flood of counterfeit badges. While there might have been some amount of forgeries I never felt a flood of people at any time incongruous with the estimated attendance numbers.  I have a feeling while a certain amount of badge fraud is probably inevitable the only conventions that usually have a problem with it are conventions that sell out. It is scarcity more than cheapness that pushes attendees to buy fakes.

Random note: Does anyone know how much those tickets contained in the Omakase Box deal affected this year’s attendance?

narutaki_icon_4040_round The convention was packed, but it wasn’t crazy overwhelming. There seemed to be only one major incident of overcrowding. On Saturday in the middle of the day the skybridge between the BCC and the Hilton was shut down for a period of time forcing attendees out into the horrific heat. And one minor complaint, by Saturday evening it seemed nearly every down escalator in the BCC had been turned off and stayed off. Otherwise the venues seemed to be reasonably staffed to keep the people moving.

Because of my sort of weird schedule, I realize now that I never waited in a line at all during the weekend. I tended away from autographs, concerts, and premieres which all draw the biggest crowds. The one exception was the very end of the con attempting to get into closing ceremonies which I never knew were that popular! I was actually turned away from it.

hisui_icon_4040_round I was a little surprising that there was not a dominate cosplay this year. You saw One Punch Man, The Melodious Ladybug (Yes, I am continuing the running gag that I never remember the adjective with an M in the title), Harley Quinn and Steven Universe. The thing was while it was nearly impossible not to see one of those at least once an hour you never felt like you were lost in a sea of any of those characters as well. I am very curious if this is because in an increase of media choices prevent anyone from flooding the landscape or it merely because no franchise really has been dominating nerdom recently.

I really expected to see more Overwatch cosplay. I keep reading articles about how much there is at other conventions but overall it was no more represented than anything else that was popular. Actually, D.Va cosplay was fairly ubiquitous with a decent amount of Tracer but any other character from the series was actually sort of rare. Considering how every other table at artist alley had something Overwatch related I was a little surprised that it was not out in full force.

Also, you would think that there would be a little more Star vs. the Forces of Evil cosplay. It seems like something that would be everywhere at an anime convention given the magical girl aspects of the show. I can’t say I am shocked I did not see more of it. I’m more curious why I was completely correct in assuming it would not be prevalent.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Otakon 2016 wasn’t the best Otakon there ever has been, not every year can always be the most memorable, it will rank squarely in the middle of the road category. But many of us are probably feeling disappointment more acutely because the 2016 convention was the end of an era. This was Otakon’s last year (maybe forever) at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The Inner Harbor had come to really embrace the con over the years.

Luckily, this isn’t the last Otakon though. Not by a long shot as the end of the convention was marked with an announcement that the con will be making its home in Washington D.C. through 2024.

Some have said they will not be going with Otakon as it moves, but for me Otakon long ago proved itself to be a stellar moment of the year for anime fans, even when it isn’t having its best year. So I will follow wherever it goes.

hisui_icon_4040_round I am already looking to see how all of this effects 2017. Otakon is recovering from its drop last year. It is doing better than last year but it still a little anemic especially when you compare it the robust growth of Anime Expo (which people are going to do). When AnimeNEXT moved to Atlantic City I hear it had an expected slight reduction in attendance.  Nothing drastic but it killed their growth for a year with the promise that it would eventually lead to far greater growth later on. One has to wonder if the same thing will happen to Otakon.

As it stands I see next year either dropping back down to 2016 numbers or only having minimal growth. As it stands after the convention ended there were a whole bunch of people who went to social media to announce that they were not making the move to DC. Theoretically, there could be an eve greater vein of fans that will attend a DC convention as opposed to Baltimore convention but I am more likely to believe such a wellspring will only be effectively tapped a few years after the move. If nothing major changes I could see Otakon taking a year or two to really get back on track as the East Coast rival for Expo.

But there are a few major changes that could turn the tide. If Otakon was able to pull out a guest lineup like it had in 2013 it would do a lot to reinvigorate the convention. Oh, provided that they actually tell anyone they have that lineup more than a week before the convention. I’m not saying they have to announce guests as far in advance of something like SDCC but a little advanced notice would be helpful to draw in some people who might have otherwise been on the fence.

All of that aside I can’t see why we would not attend Otakon 2017. While this year was not our favorite year it was still extremely solid. There was a full and diverse panel selection, a healthy selection of creative and interesting guests, and a rewarding experience overall.

I won’t even hold the fact that they announced Vic Mignogna (noted fire alarm prankster) as their first guest. If they really want to make me happy they will get Kenjiro Hata and/or Takashi Takeuchi. Yes, I will cap off all of my con reports with that until I see both of them.

Filed under: Conventions, Events, Otakon Tagged: Otakon
22 Aug 20:35

Facebook's new app for teens is 'always public and viewable by everyone'

by Olivia Solon in San Francisco


The Lifestage app invites Generation Z to create a series of selfie videos, but gives its young users no tools for controlling privacy and who sees the content

Facebook has launched a video selfie sharing app for teenagers which has no privacy settings. What could possibly go wrong?

Lifestage, which launched in the US on Friday, is restricted to users under the age of 21. It’s designed to make it “easy and fun to share a visual profile of who you are with your school network”.

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21 Aug 06:00

If US national parks are to continue to thrive they must reflect the diversity of our population

by James Edward Mills

As the National Park Service turns 100, a new campaign aims to make the country’s natural spaces more appealing to all Americans, regardless of race, over the next century. It’s vital they succeed

In the sweltering heat of a summer day, I walked along the visitor trails of Yosemite national park. I had just made the five-hour drive from my childhood home in Los Angeles to glimpse a vision of the future. There in the valley surrounded by high towers of stone, I watched as thousands of tourists from all over the world marvelled at the sheer granite walls of El Capitan, Washington Column and Half Dome. Like ancient cathedrals of divine architecture, these magnificent features stand as monuments to the notion that the natural heritage of our nation must be preserved for all time.

Throughout my life I have enjoyed spending time in the outdoors. Despite having grown up in the urban heart of LA, I frequently ventured into the wild places of California, from the slopes of the San Gabriel mountains to the summit of Mount Whitney. Though I was blessed, thanks to sacrifices of my parents, with a lifetime learning and playing in nature, on this occasion, as with many visits to the valley, I noticed that I was among the very few people of colour there. And though I felt no less welcome to enjoy the splendour of this magnificent place, I wondered how it might be possible to encourage tourism to Yosemite – and other national parks – that reflects the diverse population of the US as a whole.

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22 Aug 17:50

Caster Semenya Is Exceptional, Just Like Other Elite Athletes

by Ijeoma Oluo

As expected, the phenomenal Caster Semenya won a gold medal for South Africa in the 800 meters last week. Also as expected, there was hardly a mention of her victory without far more time given to the controversy that follows her whenever she competes.

From her first World Championship win in 2009 at the young age of 18 until now, her gender has been debated in the court of public opinion. Her body, her womanhood, and her identity have been brutally picked apart, and she has been subjected to constant violation and humiliation. All because she wants to run, all because she is faster than other runners, all because she is strong, all because she does not fit western stereotypes of female beauty.

And yes, the suspicion of Semenya that led to testosterone testing and the horrifically unethical release of her test results showing “higher than average” testosterone levels is racist and sexist in nature. Semenya was singled out because her physical strength was deemed “too manly,” because her speed was “too fast,” because her features were “too strong.” That a black, queer woman would find herself subjected to such treatment is no accident. Female champions—even those who dominate their fields, like Katie Ledecky—are never subjected to this same degradation when their physical presentation matches western stereotypes of femininity.

“That a black, queer woman would find herself subjected to such treatment is no accident.”

But all of the talk about Semenya’s testosterone levels and whether her presence is “fair” to sport misses a fundamental point: Yes, Caster Semenya is exceptional. She is supposed to be. She is an elite athlete.

I know that we like to believe in underdog stories. We like to see champions who started out as Plain Janes or Everyday Joes and somehow worked themselves up to legendary status and think, “That could be me.”

But it can’t be you.

Think you can be Michael Phelps one day? What is your wingspan?

Think you can be Simone Biles? Are you 4’8”?

Want to stand next to Brittney Griner on the U.S. basketball team? Better grow to 6’8”.

These athletes all have exceptional traits, and while these traits may indeed give them an edge over other athletes, we do not give these traits sole credit for their wins. We do not assume that every short woman will become a gymnastics champion or that every man with long arms will bring home swimming gold medals. We also do not demand that our Olympic swimmers have “average” wingspans or that our basketball players all have “average” height. We celebrate our elite athletes as champions, knowing that they took these advantages, added 80 billion hours of grueling training, and pushed themselves to the full and amazing limits of their potential.

“Yes, Caster Semenya is exceptional. She is supposed to be. She is an elite athlete.”

Semenya may be exceptional in her testosterone level—although what advantage this actually gives runners has not been proven, and we don’t have calculations for how uncommon high testosterone levels are in elite female athletes.

But do you know how else she is exceptional?

Semenya is exceptional for waking up at 3:30 every morning for years to train. Semenya is exceptional for being able to channel her heartbreak at being forced out of soccer because she’s a woman into an amazing running career. Semenya is exceptional because even under intense scrutiny, after horrific abuse by media and other athletes, even after being banned from her sport and forced to undergo gender testing, even after being forced to artificially lower her testosterone levels via harmful drugs—she continued to train and run and come back to win gold in Rio.

Caster Semenya is exceptional—in the best ways possible. And we should be celebrating her strength, dedication, and courage. We should marvel at the beauty with which she runs, knowing that it is the result of years of training and triumph through adversity. Yes, Caster Semenya is stronger and faster than other athletes, but the real advantage is that she is braver.

“Semenya is stronger and faster than other athletes, but the real advantage is that she is braver.”


Lead image: flickr/Jon Connell

The post Caster Semenya Is Exceptional, Just Like Other Elite Athletes appeared first on The Establishment.

22 Aug 14:08

Self-driving cars don't care about your moral dilemmas

by Alex Hern

Would it be better to hit a granny or swerve to hit a toddler? It seems like a dilemma, but the designers of self-driving cars say otherwise

As self-driving cars move from fiction to reality, a philosophical problem has become the focus of fierce debate among technologists across the world. But to the people actually making self driving cars, it’s kind of boring.

The “trolley problem” is the name for a philosophical thought experiment created as an introduction to the moral distinction between action and inaction. The classic example is a runaway mine cart, hurtling down tracks towards a group of five oblivious people. With no time to warn them, your only option is to pull a switch and divert the cart on to a different track, which only has one person standing on it. You will save five lives, but at the cost of actively killing one person. What do you do?

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22 Aug 10:00

Bounty hunters are legally hacking Apple and the Pentagon – for big money

by Nicky Woolf in San Francisco

A growing roster of ‘white hat’ hackers earn thousands finding chinks in the digital armor of the US government and companies such as Apple and Google

Nathaniel Wakelam became a bounty hunter when he was 18.

Now 21, it is his full time job. This month so far he has earned $21,150, in installments: he counted them out over the phone – “400, plus 400, plus 300, plus 100, plus 1,000, plus 3,000, plus 4,000…”

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19 Aug 04:00

Fox News and the Repercussions of Sexual Harassment

by Margaret Talbot

One of the surprising things about the Fox News sexual-harassment story is that the women who have come forward with allegations include several of the network’s better-known anchors and reporters. You might think that professional power could stave off the kind of spin-around-and-let-me-see-your-ass leering and straight-up demands for sex that Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, and others say they endured from former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and other male supervisors. (Ailes and his lawyer, Susan Estrich, continue to deny the allegations.) But that does not seem to have been the case.

See the rest of the story at

Roger Ailes, the Clintons, and the Scandals of the Scandalmongers
What Are Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, and Steve Bannon Really Up To?
The Cracked Integrity of Donald Trump
19 Aug 07:19

Parent says school blamed female students for explicit images posted online by others

by Melissa Davey and agencies

This is why . . . EVERYTHING.

Police shut down site that encouraged schoolboys to upload naked pictures of female students from about 70 schools

A parent of a student at Kambrya College, a state school in Melbourne’s south-east, says she was “mortified” by the way the school responded to victims of a website that carried sexually explicit images of underage female school students.

The college was one of 70 schools whose students were reportedly involved in uploading the images to the website, which was believed to be hosted overseas until Australian federal police said it had been shut down on Friday.

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18 Aug 20:45

Mars' Fuyumi Soryo Launches Marie Antoinette Series With Palace of Versailles' Supervision

Manga tells life story of Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI
17 Aug 03:57

Gundam Build Fighters Try Island Wars to Stream With English Subtitles on August 21

The portal site announced on Monday that the site will begin streaming Gundam Build Fighters Try Island Wars, the television anime special...
17 Aug 06:31

California wildfire: 80,000 evacuated amid ferocious blaze and fire tornadoes

by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles

The Blue Cut fire east of Los Angeles has spread with a speed and ferocity that triggered chaotic scenes as residents scrambled to flee

An explosive wildfire fanned by a heatwave and strong winds has ripped through rural communities outside Los Angeles, unleashing fire tornadoes and triggering evacuation orders for more than 80,000 people.

Related: Share your photos and experiences of the California wildfires

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17 Aug 19:49

Louisiana floodwaters begin to recede but thousands remain in shelters

by Matthew Teague Southern correspondent

Massive recovery operation begins as Red Cross reports flood that left 11 dead and damaged 40,000 homes is worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012

Floodwaters in Louisiana have begun to recede, but the horror of the disaster continues to mount: on Wednesday afternoon more than 30,000 people had been rescued from the flood, 40,000 homes were affected and 6,000 people remained in shelters. At least 11 people have died.

Related: Louisiana floods: state begins recovery from devastating storm – in pictures

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18 Aug 10:18

Self-driving buses take to roads alongside commuter traffic in Helsinki

by Samuel Gibbs

Automated mini-buses will carry people on open public roads in southern district of Finnish capital during month-long trial

Two self-driving buses have rolled out on to the public roads of Helsinki, Finland, alongside traffic and commuters, in one of the first trials of its kind.

The Easymile EZ-10 electric mini-buses, capable of carrying up to 12 people, will roam the open roads of Helsinki’s southernly Hernesaari district in a month-long trial, negotiating traffic for the first time.

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08 Aug 10:00

ILCA Animates Sengoku Chōjū Giga Original TV Anime Series Premiering in October

Series depicts Sengoku-era warlords as animals with sumi-e motif
02 Aug 12:39

Animations by Sergio Martins for “Poet Anderson …Of...

Animations by Sergio Martins for “Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares

09 Aug 09:30

How it feels to be at the centre of an internet kidnapping conspiracy

by Elena Cresci

Amateur sleuthing by YT commenters? I'm SHOCKED things went wrong.

When Marina Joyce uploaded a YouTube video advertising some dresses, the last thing she expected was that it would put her at the centre of a conspiracy

What do you do when the internet decides you’ve been kidnapped?

It sounds like a strange question, and it is. Yet that’s what happened to the 19-year-old Marina Joyce. Somehow, a video about some dresses turned into a huge conspiracy theory involving her friends, family and even the police. Then people online turned on Marina herself, accusing her of planning the entire thing. How did it happen?

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08 Aug 22:09

“Farewell to the Falls: A Gravity Falls Art Show”...

“Farewell to the Falls: A Gravity Falls Art Show” exhibition.
Now @ Gallery Nucleus

09 Aug 14:42

This Mother's Method of Getting Her Kids to Do Their Chores Is Absolutely Brilliant

Let's be honest — telling your children to do their chores and actually getting them to do them are two very different things. The first is far easier than the latter.

But one mother, whose excellent parenting technique is going viral, does not give her Internet-obsessed kids any other option but to do what they're asked. Unless, of course, they want to stay away from the cyber world all day — which they don't.

How on Earth does she do it though? If she's not home, she certainly can't guarantee that their bedrooms will get tidied or the laundry will be folded, right? Wrong.

This mother's clever trick will have you thinking 'why didn't I think of this sooner?' See below for the very reason this brilliant mother has a perfectly clean kitchen today.

clever motherhood

NEXT: Watch Michelle Obama Talk About Being Mom-in-Chief »

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Photo Credit: Aatrox94/Imgur

08 Aug 21:08

Your New Favorite Cooking-Show Hosts Will Be Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart

by Chris Crowley

Not since Matthew McConaughey showed up on Guy Fieri’s show has there been such an exciting alignment of star power in food television. VH1 has ordered an unscripted series starring — no joke...More »

09 Aug 04:00

How Florida and Colorado are trying to build smart cities from the ground up

by Matthew Wheeland

Ambitious new cities Songdo and Masdar may not have lived up to their promise, but smaller projects in the US aim to be laboratories for sustainable city planning

Masdar, on the edges of Abu Dhabi, was billed as the world’s first sustainable city when it was conceived in 2006. It was intended to be a zero-carbon, zero-waste city, with smart technology embedded across all the city’s functions. A decade on and ambitions have cooled. The completion date has moved from 2016 to 2030 and city authorities have said it won’t achieve the original aim of being a net zero-emissions city.

Related: Masdar's zero-carbon dream could become world’s first green ghost town

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