Soon it appears there’ll be only one Mattress Firm again in the Westmont Shopping Center at Montrose Blvd. and Westheimer: The one on the right at 1005 Westheimer is set to close while the one on the left at 1003 Westheimer is sticking around — for now, at least; more closures are on the way according to the plan Mattress Firm announced in its bankruptcy filing last week to, among other things, thin out areas it thinks are too crowded with its own stores by closing 700 of them after an initial group of more than 200 get axed “within the next few days.” In a court filing, the chain said no liquidation sales are planned at any of its ill-fated stores. But signage outside the former Mattress-Pro–turned-Mattress-Firm Final Markdown this morning indicates otherwise: Other clearance tactics could include moving products to other stores (that’ll be easy) and to warehouses. In some cases, the chain might also “decide to abandon” certain items, according to court documents. Previously on Swamplot: Mattress Firm Has Filed for Bankruptcy; How It Came To Be That 2 Separate Mattress Stores with the Same Name Are Now Open Side by Side on Westheimer; Now It’s 2 Mattress Stores Moving in Right Next To Each Other at the Corner of Westheimer and Montrose; What’s Arriving Now at the Sleepy Corner of Westheimer and Montrose … Read More
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I accidentally drew that car in the last panel wayyyyy too high, which has the delightful side-effect of suggesting she's riding in a monster truck.
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Thanks to my patreon geeks for correcting an earlier version of this comic!
Today’s selection of articles from Kotaku’s reader-run community: Warped Pipes: Where Does Donkey Ko
Today’s selection of articles from Kotaku’s reader-run community: Warped Pipes: Where Does Donkey Kong Jr. Fit Into The Mario Timeline? • My Time With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild • SnackTAYku Review: Generic Fortune Cookies • Dev Diary: Day 39 & Day 40 • TAY Retro: Atari 2600: Jungle Hunt [TV Commercial]
The A.V. Club Tupac is alive and living in Malaysia, according to Suge Knight’s son | Deadspin Today I Declare To You That The Following Wideouts Are Dogshit | The Root ‘People’ Aren’t Divided on Kavanaugh’s Confirmation. White People Are. | The Muse ‘Seems Like It Needs Flavor’: 3 Jezebel Queer Eye Experts…
The Library of Congress has published its latest digital strategy, laying out a bold plan to "exponentially grow" its collections through digital acquisitions; "maximize the use of content" by providing machine-readable rights data and using interoperable formats and better search; to support data-driven research with giant bulk-downloadable corpuses of materials and metadata; to improve its website; to syndicate Library assets to other websites; to crowdsource the acquisition of new materials; to experiment with new tools and techniques; and to preserve digital assets with the same assiduousness that the Library has shown with its physical collection for centuries.
The LoC has a curiously outsized role in the digital era: because it contains the Copyright Office -- and because the Copyright Office is patient zero in the epidemic of terrible internet law that reaches into every corner of our lives -- the Library has become a political football, with Congress vying to put it under Congressional oversight (and in reach of heavily lobbied Committee chairs) and/or to tear out the Copyright Office.
The new Librarian of Congress is the most freedom-friendly, internet-friendly, access-friendly leader in the Library's history, replacing unfit leaders who were brought down in grotesque corruption scandals. But her leadership has fallen short: the Copyright Office is still a creature of Big Content, and it has direct oversight over your ability to modify, repair, sell, and use all of your digital property.
So this digital strategy is a very bright light, but it shines in a dark and menacing cave. I love the Library -- I love its work, its collections, its diligent and thoughtful staff, its magnificent building. But for all that, the Library has become a locus of terrible policy that runs directly counter to its mission. The contradiction between the Library's mission and its real role in policy has never been more clear than it is in this wonderful document.
The Library of Congress's mission is to engage, inspire, and inform the Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity. To accomplish that mission, the Library is adopting a digital-forward strategy that harnesses technology to bridge geographical divides, expand our reach, and enhance our services. This document describes how we will secure the Library's position in an increasingly digital world as we realize our vision that all Americans are connected to the Library of Congress.
The Digital Strategy complements the Library's 2019-2023 strategic plan, Enriching the User Experience, which enumerates four high-level goals: expand access, enhance services, optimize resources, and measure results. The Digital Strategy describes what the Library plans to accomplish, in terms of digital transformation, over the next five years to achieve these goals. The transformation we describe below applies to all of the Library's programs, including our collections, researcher services, the United States Copyright Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Digital technology enables us to sustain and expand services to all users, bridging gaps and strengthening connections. The Digital Strategy describes how we will use each interaction as an opportunity to move users along a path from awareness, to discovery, to use, and finally to a connection with the Library through three main goals: throwing open the treasure chest, connecting, and investing in our future.
Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress [Library of Congress]
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If there really were Goblin dungeons, I'm pretty sure this is how the 19th Century would've gone for them.
Donald Trump's first 'Presidential Alert,' an unblockable wireless alert warning to cellphones in the United States, was deployed Wednesday at 11:18 a.m. PT/2:18 p.m. ET. No emergency, just testing. A group of New Yorkers are suing the President and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stop the new practice, which many fear Trump will abuse.
Three New York residents last week filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court of New York against President Donald Trump and William Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The residents want to halt FEMA's new Presidential Alert messaging system, which enables Trump to deploy alerts of national emergencies.
"Plaintiffs are American citizens who do not wish to receive text messages, or messages of any kind, on any topic or subject, from defendant Trump," the lawsuit (posted below) reads. "[Trump's] rise to power was facilitated by weaponized disinformation that he broadcast into the public information sphere via Twitter in addition to traditional mass media."
The White House, FEMA, and plaintiffs didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
(..) The plaintiffs' main complaint is that Presidential Alerts are compulsory -- there's no way to opt-out of receiving them. They argue that under civil rights law, government cannot use cellular devices to compel listening, "trespass into and hijack" devices without a warrant or individual consent.
The plaintiffs are also concerned Trump might use the alerts to spread disinformation because IPAWS doesn't regulate the content of the messages. That means Trump may be free to define "act of terrorism" and "threat to public safety," and may broadcast "arbitrary, biased, irrational" messages to "hundreds of millions of people," the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit.
3007 Reba Dr. [HAR] … Read More
All that foreplay over the sex doll brothel planned inside the 2 story building pictured above on Richmond Ave just east of Chimney Rock ended up going nowhere Wednesday when city council blocked its opening by amending an ordinance that regulates adult businesses within city limits. Following the council’s unanimous vote, having sex with what the amendment calls “anthropomorphic devices” inside stores that offer them is now illegal in Houston. However, selling the dolls for take-home use remains no problem — provided that the retailer is more than 1,500 ft. from all nearby schools, churches, daycare centers, areas with 75% residential density, and public parks City-owned Anderson Park is just about catty-corner to the brothel’s planned location at 5615 Richmond — meaning the property is now off-limits to any kind of R-rated establishment. (Existing PG tenants include Kaan Cafe, Omni Salsa Dance Studio, and a handful of clothing shops.) If KinkySDolls — the Canadian company that hoped to do business there — ends up scrapping its rent-before-you-buy model and opening up a takeout-only shop somewhere else, it’s still got a few new ground-rules to follow. According to the amendments, interior lighting must be “of sufficient intensity” to illuminate everywhere customers have access and managers must maintain “an unobstructed view of every area” inside the store. City Council amends SOB ordinance to block sex doll rental shop [Houston Chronicle] 5615 Richmond [LoopNet] Photos of 5615 Richmond Ave: LoopNet … Read More
The nationwide chain filed for Chapter 11 this morning in order to deal with its debt — $3.2 billion by Paul Takahashi’s accounting — as well as what the company calls “certain economically inefficient store locations.” 700 stores nationwide are goners, 200 of which will be closing “in the next few days,” according to the company. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo of shuttered Mattress Firm at 208 Westheimer Rd.: Swamplox inbox … Read More
Health department officials ousted all food trucks from the open-air structure pictured adjacent to outdoor seating in August — reports Samantha Morris over at Houston Food Finder — nearly 4 months after the Lamar St. bar opened. Their justification: City code bans food trucks from parking within 100 ft. of dining areas and from parking underneath “any canopy, awning or other covering,” that isn’t attached to the truck itself. (If the covering’s already there for another purpose, and the truck just happens to park under it, the city lets it slide.) As a partial fix, “We’re going to take the roof off,” Truck Yard’s general manager tells Morris. Until the city okays plans for that change, cheesesteaks from the bar’s in-house kitchen will be the only food source available. [Houston Food Finder; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Truck Yard Houston … Read More
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The hard question is whether he's more evil or less evil with that beard.
Telltale Games wasn't just a hit developer, producing the hugely popular The Walking Dead game series. It reinvented the adventure game, producing quality interactive narratives while escaping the genre's retro conventions. Despite its apparent success, the company suddenly imploded last month, laying off most of its staff. Megan Farokhmanesh reports on the tragic end of Telltale Games.
The woes of Telltale Games have deep roots. Earlier this year, The Verge published a report detailing years of nonstop crunch culture, toxic management, and frustration from developers who believed the company’s refusal to diversify gameplay had led to creative stagnation. ...
These sources, who were granted anonymity in order to speak freely and without fear of retribution, paint a consistent picture of a company desperately struggling to keep its head above water. Despite what they see as the best of intentions on behalf of those running Telltale, hundreds still tumbled into unemployment with no safety net from their company.
The "cinematic adventure games for top franchises" business was more marginal than it looked at the scale Telltale grew to, dedicated workers were constantly exploited by crunch-development cycles, management was blindly optimistic, and potential new partners figured out all of the above and put away their checkbooks.
Google sister company Sidewalk Labs is building a creepy, heavily surveilled "smart city" in the midst of Toronto.
Critics have pointed out that letting a foreign corporation gather continuous surveillance data on residents of a city as they go about their daily round is a bit, you know, dystopian.
Sidewalk Labs says it's not creepy, and to prove it, they've recruited an independent advisory board to keep them honest.
A key member of that board just resigned: Saadia Muzaffar is an entrepreneur and tech activist. In her scathing resignation letter, she describes an unholy confluence of Sidewalk Labs's greed for data-collection and the City of Toronto's indifference, expressed by the lackadaisical approach taken by Waterfront Toronto.
Advisor to Google's Smart City in Toronto Resigns Over Data Concerns [Jordan Pearson/Motherboard]
In her resignation letter, Muzaffar—who founded the nonprofit group TechGirls Canada—also criticized a lack of transparency on Waterfront Toronto’s part in communicating the plan to the public. Even more importantly, she drew attention to the risk of entrenching ill-considered surveillance technology in city infrastructure.
“Broad licensing that does not prioritize digital rights of the public can mean that surveillance infrastructure and valuable public data can lay latent for long periods of time, and avoid scrutiny easily, tucked in a foreign-owned company’s proprietary vault,” she wrote.
Mormon (LDS) church backs Utah medical marijuana legalization deal, even if November ballot initiative fails
The Mormon Church (AKA The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS) is joining lawmakers and the governor of the state of Utah to support a deal to legalize medical marijuana, even if a legalization initiative that's on this November's ballot ends up failing.
This is the first time to my knowledge the Mormon Church has made a statement supporting medical marijuana if prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacy.
I'm a Utah resident and a cancer survivor, and I'm writing this from my home in Utah.
I found real medical benefit from cannabis during my treatment for breast cancer. The deal described in today's news (I haven't seen the text yet) is great progress for all Utahns, especially for those with cancer and other serious illnesses. The LDS previously shunned any and all cannabis use. This deal isn't enough, IMO, because marijuana smoking would still be illegal. Whole flower combustion has its benefits, and it is a valid method of ingesting cannabis for medical purposes.
The ballot proposal only allows edibles, topical lotions, or vaping (electronic cigarettes or ecigs or vapes). No smoking.
But this is huge progress. It's a start.
From the Associated Press:
The compromise comes as people prepare to vote in November on an insurgent medical marijuana ballot initiative that held its ground despite opposition from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll call lawmakers into a special session after the midterm election to pass the compromise into law regardless of how the initiative fares. If it passes, it will be revised under the terms of the deal. It if fails, the Legislature would consider a law under the new framework.
The agreement in such a conservative state underscores the nation’s changing attitude toward marijuana. Medical use now is legal in more than 30 states and also is on the November ballot in Missouri. So-called recreational marijuana goes before voters in Michigan and North Dakota. If passed, it will be a first for a Midwestern state.
The Utah-based faith had opposed the ballot proposal over fears it could lead to more broad use, but ranking global leader Jack Gerard said they’re “thrilled” to be a part of the effort to “alleviate human pain and suffering.”
Though it still must go to a vote, the deal has the key backing of both the church and leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature, who said the regulations in the hard-won agreement have their seal of approval. Unlike the ballot initiative, the compromise won’t allow people to grow their own marijuana if they live too far from a dispensary. It also doesn’t allow certain types of edible marijuana that could appeal to children, like cookies and brownies.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure this compromise passes in the special session,” said Utah Senate president Wayne Niederhauser.
Medical marijuana advocates are backing the deal to avoid wrangling and uncertainty that could continue if the ballot initiative passes.
“There will be medical cannabis here in our day in Utah,” said advocate DJ Schanz. The two sides agreed to scale back media campaigns supporting and opposing the ballot measure known as Proposition 2.
New Macbooks and Imacs will brick themselves if they think they're being repaired by an independent technician
Last year, Apple outraged independent technicians when they updated the Iphone design to prevent third party repair, adding a "feature" that allowed handsets to detect when their screens had been swapped (even when they'd been swapped for an original, Apple-manufactured screen) and refuse to function until they got an official Apple unlock code.
Now, this system has come to the MacBook Pros and Imac Pros, thanks to the "T2 security chip" which will render systems nonfunctional after replacing the keyboard, screen, case, or other components, until the a proprietary Apple "configuration tool" is used to unlock the system.
Apple does not tell its customers that the computers it sells are designed to punish them for opting to get their property repaired by independent technicians; the details of the T2 came from a leaked service manual.
“There’s two possible explanations: This is a continued campaign of obsolescence and they want to control the ecosystem and bring all repair into the network they control,” Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit, told me on the phone. “Another is security, but I don’t see a security model that doesn’t trust the owner of the device making much sense.”
Apple's New Proprietary Software Locks Kill Independent Repair on New MacBook Pros [Jason Koebler/Motherboard]
If you seee a brand on Amazon and you've never heard of it, there's a chance that it's just Amazon. The company operates a growing number of labels with names like "Arabella", "Lark & Ro" amd "NuPro" to market its own products—and they'll soon be augmented by a more brands "exclusive to Amazon, but not owned by it", absorbed into its Private Brand program. Quartz reports:
Amazon’s push into private labels could threaten the third-party sellers who do business on its website, and are important to the company’s own bottom line. Amazon generated $9.7 billion in revenue from commissions and services it provided to third-party sellers (e.g., fulfillment and shipping fees) in the latest quarter, ended July 26. Earlier this week, eBay sent Amazon a cease-and-desist accusing it of a shady, multiyear campaign to lure eBay sellers over to the Amazon marketplace.
It's posed here as a solution to problems caused by Amazon's current third-party seller platform, which it won't adequately police but also understands is rotting customers' trust in the site. Savvy shoppers already know not to buy certain types of product from Amazon because of couterfeits. As CNBC reports, though, Amazon is unable to avoid the temptation of promoting its own products in competitors' first-party listings too.
Another problem: what Amazon is doing here closely resembles the marketing habits of Chinese exporters who have flooded Amazon with legitimate but low-quality gear. If you search for headphones there, for example, you get some name brands, but most of the first page of results is for brands like "Mpow", "Alihen", "Redess", "Arrela." Which of these are real? How will Amazon distinguish its own brands from disposable fly-by-night ones? Or is this, more or less, the game Amazon is getting into?
Three months after a group of freewheeling bike advocates marked off a portion of McGowen St. for cycling-only use, their work has vanished — effectively ceding the road back over to car traffic. The smaller photo above shows members of Bike Houston as well as other volunteers laying down boundary lines, directional arrows, and rubber barriers along the south side of the road at its junction with the Columbia Tap Trail between Burkett and Nettleton streets. At top is what that stretch looks like now from the opposite side of McGowen. The block-long lane Bike Houston installed is just one portion of a longer retrofit on McGowen between the Columbia Tap Trail and Hutchins St. that the city endorsed when it passed the Houston Bike Plan last year. You can see that full segment on the map below, which shows all the bikeways the plan puts forward for the Third Ward in blue: Other Third Ward plans include a lane along Hutchins itself and an expansion of the existing lane (shown in purple) on Gray St. There’s also a more ambitious “Phase 2” plan which runs even wilder with ideas for the neighborhood, thought the city acknowledges they’d take a good deal longer to implement. Third Ward [Houston Bike Plan] Previously on Swamplot: Trailblazing a New McGowen St. Miniature Bike Lane Perpendicular to the Columbia Tap Trail Photos: BikeHouston (bike lane); Swamplox inbox (current conditions). Map: City of Houston … Read More
1106 Aster St. [HAR] … Read More