Day: July 14, 2016

Fresno cops execute unarmed teen

dylan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIdAgftgP5Q

Fresno cops pulled over Dylan Noble, an unarmed 19-year-old, and shot him because he failed to comply with orders to get on the ground. Then they approached him as he was dying, and executed him with a shotgun. The pretext: his continued failure to put his hands where they could see them.

California police were looking for a man in camouflage walking down the street carrying a rifle when they decided to pull over a man in a truck who was not wearing camouflage and not carrying a rifle.

An unarmed man named Dylan Noble whom Fresno police shot and killed anyway.

Today, after viewing body cam footage of the shooting, Noble’s family filed a claim to sue the Fresno Police Department, stating that they had no justifiable reason to shoot the 19-year-old man on June 25.

Fresno’s police chief, Jerry Dyer, was unable to explain to CNN why his officers killed Noble.

“I do not have the answer for that today,” Dyer told reporters in the central California city of 520,000 people.
An internal affairs investigation will look into whether police procedures were followed and whether there were other options. A review by the district attorney will determine whether the two Fresno police officers should be criminally charged.
“We’re shocked and appalled that the city of Fresno would continue to defend the actions of its officers,” said Stuart Chandler, an attorney for Veronica Noble, Dylan’s mother. “Clearly the only appropriate response is to accept responsibility and commit to changing practices of the police department.”

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Help Doctors Without Borders fill in the geodata blanks for vulnerable communities

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Pete from Doctors Without Borders writes, “Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders have today launched MapSwipe, an app that enables anyone with a smartphone to map the most vulnerable communities in the world. Geo-data is vital for aid agencies responding to emergencies such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters and MapSwipe now gives everybody the ability to contribute directly to these responses. So, instead of Angry Birds or Candy Crush, you can now do something meaningful on your commute! (MSF has developed MapSwipe as part of the Missing Maps project, where thousands of volunteers assist NGOs by mapping their areas of operations on OpenStreetMap.)”

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Itty-bitty Nintendo NES with 30 built-in games coming in November

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Today, Nintendo announced the NES Classic Edition, a little console loaded with 30 classic titles, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, and Kirby’s Adventure. It plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and includes one NES gamepad controller. It’s coming November 11 and retails for $60.

Included titles:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts’N Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

[via]

(Thanks, Calvin!)

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Why all of us need to be futurists

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Two weeks ago, pioneering futurist Alvin Toffler died. Over at Medium, my colleague Marina Gorbis, executive director of Institute for the Future, reflects on Toffler’s vision and why it’s more important than ever for futures thinking to be a massively public endeavor. Marina writes:

Disorientation. Irrationality. Malaise. These were the sensations that in 1965 famed futurist Alvin Toffler, who died two weeks ago, suggested would run rampant in the face of the “revolutionary transitions” facing our society. According to Toffler, we would all suffer from a condition not unlike the culture shock experienced by travelers to foreign countries. He called it “future shock.”

“Imagine not merely an individual but an entire society — including its weakest, least intelligent, and most traditional members — suddenly transported into this new world,” Toffler wrote in a Horizon magazine article titled “The Future as a Way of Life.” “The result is mass disorientation, future shock on a grand scale.”

Arguably, we are living Toffler’s future today. Many of us are in a state of shock as social media enables the rise of political figures who we could never imagine as viable presidential candidates, software eats people’s jobs (according to some), massive data leaks allow loosely organized networks of journalists to uncover stories of global crime and corruption, and surveys consistently point to the loss of trust in most institutions across the globe. We are quick to marvel at Toffler’s foresight. I would argue, however, that our “future shock” is highly unevenly distributed….

We need to make futures thinking a way of life for more people outside of the enclaves like Silicon Valley, corporate boardrooms, and academic think tanks. To accomplish that, we must distribute the tools of futures thinking and futures-making more widely. Envisioning and making the future must be a massively public endeavor.

The Future as a Way of Life: Alvin Toffler’s Unfinished Business

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Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer

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It is all about maintaining etiquette and protocol in Scott Meyer’s Master of Formalities! Watch cultures clash as two space empires come together in what feels like Downton Space Abbey.

Dry humor and wry wit fill this story. House Jakabitbus is taking on the scion of its chief rival, the less steeped in fine tradition Hahn Empire, as a ward. Can Wollard, the titular Master of Formalities, hold society together? He’s really not up to it.

I really enjoyed Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series, and found this book a fun change of pace. Both are available via Kindle Unlimited.

Master of Formalities by Scott Meyer via Amazon

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Death is Stupid talks straight to kids about a topic most grown-ups struggle with

dis

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Death is Stupid

by Anastasia Higginbotham

The Feminist Press at CUNY

2016, 64 pages, 8.5 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches

$13 Buy a copy on Amazon

Death is Stupid does what so many grown-ups struggle to do with their kids. It tells them the truth that they already know. In collages of illustrations and dialogue, Anastasia Higginbotham walks readers through the confusion and questions that come when someone dies. Using two concurrent narratives, one that broadly voices and validates the feelings and fears kids have around death, the other focusing on a little boy whose grandmother has died, Higginbotham masterfully draws connections for young audiences and their grown-ups.

The story opens, gracefully straight-forward, “When a loved one dies people can say some stupid things.” The line stretches over the course of three pages in which the boy goes from surprised to sad as he hears, “I know exactly how you feel.” “Don’t cry.” “Just be grateful for the time you had with her.” We follow him through the funeral and days after, through the rituals of grief and remembrance, through the fumbling adult attempts to explain and comfort. Through his experience and the narrator’s staccato interjections (“Dying is not a punishment. But it mostly doesn’t feel fair.”), readers are given the space to explore the well-intentioned answers and advice that grown-ups pat into the palms and shoulders of the kids they love, and the ways in which those hugs and kisses can land like blows.

Just as the boy tries out different ways to stay connected to his grandma while accepting her death, like caring for her garden, readers can explore suggested activities at the back of the book. Higginbotham offers templates for personalized remembering of both pets and people, simple instructions (“Read what they read. Make what they made.”), and the loveliest reflection on the power of speaking someone’s name. I know that when we are inevitably grieving a loved one’s death, I will be grateful to have this book on hand to read with my daughter.

– Marykate Smith Despres

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Death is Stupid talks straight to kids about a topic most grown-ups struggle with

dis

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Death is Stupid

by Anastasia Higginbotham

The Feminist Press at CUNY

2016, 64 pages, 8.5 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches

$13 Buy a copy on Amazon

Death is Stupid does what so many grown-ups struggle to do with their kids. It tells them the truth that they already know. In collages of illustrations and dialogue, Anastasia Higginbotham walks readers through the confusion and questions that come when someone dies. Using two concurrent narratives, one that broadly voices and validates the feelings and fears kids have around death, the other focusing on a little boy whose grandmother has died, Higginbotham masterfully draws connections for young audiences and their grown-ups.

The story opens, gracefully straight-forward, “When a loved one dies people can say some stupid things.” The line stretches over the course of three pages in which the boy goes from surprised to sad as he hears, “I know exactly how you feel.” “Don’t cry.” “Just be grateful for the time you had with her.” We follow him through the funeral and days after, through the rituals of grief and remembrance, through the fumbling adult attempts to explain and comfort. Through his experience and the narrator’s staccato interjections (“Dying is not a punishment. But it mostly doesn’t feel fair.”), readers are given the space to explore the well-intentioned answers and advice that grown-ups pat into the palms and shoulders of the kids they love, and the ways in which those hugs and kisses can land like blows.

Just as the boy tries out different ways to stay connected to his grandma while accepting her death, like caring for her garden, readers can explore suggested activities at the back of the book. Higginbotham offers templates for personalized remembering of both pets and people, simple instructions (“Read what they read. Make what they made.”), and the loveliest reflection on the power of speaking someone’s name. I know that when we are inevitably grieving a loved one’s death, I will be grateful to have this book on hand to read with my daughter.

– Marykate Smith Despres

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The true story of history's only known meteorite victim

AL.com: "A photo of Ann Hodges in 1954 shows the bruise left on her upper thigh after she was struck by a meteorite in Sylacauga, Ala. "(Alabama Museum of Natural History)

One afternoon in 1954 Ann Hodges of Alabama was napping on her couch when a meteorite the size of a software came through the ceiling, bounced off a radio and hit her in the thigh. She escaped with a giant bruise, but the meteorite inflicted much harsher damage in an unexpected way. The Air Force took the meteorite. Hodges and her husband Eugene fought to get it back, but their landlord, Birdie Guy, said the meteorite belonged to her and she sued to get it back. She settled with the Hodges, taking $500 in exchange for the rock.

From National Geographic:

Ann later suffered a nervous breakdown, and in 1964 she and Eugene separated. She died in 1972 at 52 of kidney failure at a Sylacaugan nursing home.

Eugene suspects the meteorite and frenzy that followed had taken its toll on Ann. He said “she never did recover,” according to the museum.

From Slate:

That rock, even at the time, was worth a fortune. To give you an idea, a second piece was found not far away by a farmer on his property. He was able to sell it and buy a new house and a car. And his piece was less than half the mass of the Hodges chunk, with less notoriety as well. Were something like that to happen today, the meteorite would sell for a lot of money.

Hodges’ legal problems were so great that her mental and physical health suffered. She and her husband divorced, and she died of kidney failure in 1972 at the relatively young age of 52. It’s easy to wonder how much the event led to her decline.

The meteorite now resides at the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa.

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Sign a book of congratulations for America's new Librarian of Congress

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John from Everylibrary writes, “Please join EveryLibrary in sending congratulations to Dr. Carla Hayden, our new Librarian of Congress, by signing below with your personal comment or reflection of congratulations along with your name. We will take all the signatures and comments made by midnight on Tuesday, July 20th and create a commemorative book for Dr. Hayden. We’ll send the book, along with a nice bouquet from all of us, to her this week.”

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In the future you will own nothing and have access to everything

kevin

In 1988 Kevin Kelly (my friend and business partner at Cool Tools) edited Signal, a book about “Communications Tools for the Information Age.” With articles about smart phones, artificial life, computer viruses, interactive literature, online databases, teleconferencing, image processing, and the “world information economy,” Signal was years ahead of its time. (In 1993 it served as the prototype for Wired, the magazine Kevin co-founded.) Signal changed the way readers thought about technology – we weren’t in a computer revolution – we were in a communications revolution. Kevin understood that people were co-evolving with technology, transforming the way we received, processed, and transmitted information, both as individuals and a society.

Kevin has never stopped thinking about the implications of the communications revolution. He co-founded the first Hackers Conference in 1984, was a founding board member of the WELL (an early online service launched in 1985) and in 1990 he launched the first virtual reality conference. His first book, Out of Control, about technology’s lifelike patterns and behavior, was called “essential reading for all executives,” by Forbes. His latest book, released in June, is called The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. This clear-eyed guide explains the twelve inevitable, interrelated technological trends (including robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality) that are already disrupting every imaginable human activity, from the way we work, learn, and play, to the way we exist as a species.

In this excerpt from The Inevitable, Kevin imagines a future were people own nothing but have access to everything– Mark

In the coming 30 years the tendency toward the dematerialized, the decentralized, the simultaneous, the platform enabled, and the cloud will continue unabated. As long as the costs of communications and computation drop due to advances in technology, these trends are inevitable. They are the result of networks of communication expanding till they are global and ubiquitous, and as the networks deepen they gradually displace matter with intelligence. This grand shift will be true no matter where in the world (whether the United States, China, or Timbuktu) they take place. The underlying mathematics and physics remain. As we increase dematerialization, decentralization, simultaneity, platforms, and the cloud—as we increase all those at once, access will continue to displace ownership. For most things in daily life, accessing will trump owning.

Yet only in a science fiction world would a person own nothing at all. Most people will own some things while accessing others; the mix will differ by person. Yet the extreme scenario of a person who accesses all without any ownership is worth exploring because it reveals the stark direction technology is headed. Here is how it works.

I live in a complex. Like a lot of my friends, I choose to live in the complex because of the round-the-clock services I can get. The box in my apartment is refreshed four times a day. That means I can leave my refreshables (like clothes) …read more

The trials of living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (SE), Washington DC

1600PennAve2-9

Several years ago, a new apartment building went up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Washington DC. That’s a few miles from the better known 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, aka the White House. A car lot was previously on the apartment building property, then registered as 1550 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, but the developers thought it would be a hoot to petition for the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue SE address. They got it. From WTPO:

Residents say they often get funny looks or disbelief when they have to give their address or hand over their driver’s licenses. Carlos Gutierrez, 39, and other residents said they get asked: “You live at the White House?”

The address has produced headaches for some residents. One early resident of the building, Daniel Perry, 36, said Amazon.com initially wouldn’t take orders to the address, though that’s since been sorted out. Another resident said even now, she sometimes has difficulty ordering online. A recent order for a pair of summer sandals required calling the company, she said.

Residents have to make sure that anyone sending them mail puts the all-important “SE” after the address. The correct zip code — 20003 — is also key. The White House’s ZIP code is 20500.

A goof means the mail might eventually get to the correct recipient, but because the president’s mail gets extra security screening, any resident’s mail with an incomplete address could be significantly delayed.

Mail mix-ups happen the other way, too. Errant letters for the first family arrive at the building every so often and sit unopened by the residents’ mailboxes until the U.S. Postal Service redirects them.

DC’s other 1600 Pennsylvania is source of humor, headaches(WTPO via FARK) …read more

What's the likelihood that you have a doppelgänger?

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Teghan Lucas, a comparative anatomy researcher at the University of Adelaide, was fascinated with the idea of doppelgängers, that every person has a look-alike out there in the world. So Teghan analyzed thousands of photos of people, for example measuring the distance between features, to determine the probability that two people would have matching faces. According to Teghan, there’s only a one in a trillion chance that you share even eight measurements with someone else. Of course, people can still look very similar even if their eyes and ears aren’t separated by precisely the same distance. From the BBC:

“It depends whether we mean ‘lookalike to a human’ or ‘lookalike to facial recognition software’,” says David Aldous, a statistician at U.C. Berkeley…

When you bump into a friend on the street, the brain immediately sets to work recognising their features – such as hairline and skin tone – individually, like recognising Italy by its shape alone. But what if they’ve just had a haircut? Or they’re wearing makeup?

To ensure they can be recognised in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. If you compare it to finding a country on a map, this is like checking it has a border with France and a coast. This holistic ‘sum of the parts’ perception is thought to make recognising friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Crucially, it also fudges the importance of some of the subtler details.

“Most people concentrate on superficial characteristics such as hair-line, hair style, eyebrows,” says Nick Fieller, a statistician involved in The Computer-Aided Facial Recognition Project. Other research has shown we look to the eyes, mouth and nose, in that order.

Then it’s just a matter of working out the probability that someone else will have all the same versions as you. “There are only so many genes in the world which specify the shape of the face and millions of people, so it’s bound to happen,” says Winrich Freiwald, who studies face perception at Rockefeller University. “For somebody with an ‘average’ face it’s comparatively easy to find good matches,” says Fieller.

You are surprisingly likely to have a living doppelgänger

Photo from Francois Brunelle’s fascinating series “I’m Not A Look-Alike!

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The ACLU has a roadmap for defeating President Donald Trump's signature initiatives

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In The Trump Memos, a new 27-page document published by the American Civil Liberties Union, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization lays out its constitutional analysis of Trump’s signature campaign promises, from mass deportations to a religious test for passing America’s borders to torture to mass surveillance to abortion to “opening up libel laws.”
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IllumiBowl toilet night light - let it glow where the sun don't shine

illumibowl

Darkness and drowsiness are a dangerous mix. And for the longest time, navigating your way around in the middle of the night was an inevitable pain.

In the words of Donald Trump, “Let there be really great light in the bathroom!” With the IllumiBowl Toilet Night Light you can add any color of LED light to your toilet bowl and let it glow. That means no more stumbling around when you have to go at night.

Simply snap it onto the rim and let it shine: it will automatically turn on when someone walks into the bathroom. There are eight color possibilities and patterned illuminations, making quite the show for 15% off its original price.

So just like Kevin O’Leary on ABC’s Shark Tank, you’ve got to pee to believe!

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"This Male-Designed Female Character Just Loves To Flaunt Her Sexuality"

sexblade

Point and Clickbait posted an amusing take on the adolescent fantasy that if you give a crudely-objectified female character a sword and sexuality she becomes proof that feminists just hate sex.

Critics of the game have suggested that Sexblade is “astoundingly sexist” and “terrible in every way”, but Farmer argues it’s wrong to suggest that Sexblade is sexist.

“Isn’t it shaming female sexuality to attack Sexblade like this?” he asked. “Sexblade is a fully-fleshed out and real character with strong, believable motivations which drive her to do things like moan orgasmically when she takes damage.”

“It’s the people who want to put a stop to that — they are the real sexists.”

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NYPD captain taped complaining about the lack of black men targeted

A protestor is detained by NYPD officer as people take part in a protest for the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march along Manhattan's streets in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Muñoz

NYPD officer Michael Birch recorded a meeting with a superior officer who complained to him he wasn’t stopping enough black men. Gawker posted the tapes and transcripts, given to them by Birch after a judge dismissed the officer’s complaint against the force.

In January, Birch filed a federal lawsuit against the city and several individual NYPD officials, alleging that he was retaliated against for speaking out about what he calls an illegal quota system. A judge dismissed his complaint, and he filed an appeal with a higher court last month.

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It's official: the Olympics result in the worst budget overruns of any megaproject

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In “The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games,” three researchers from the University of Oxford’s Said Business School examine the cost estimates and actual costs of every Olympic games since 1960, and finds that they are the most likely of all megaprojects to exceed their estimates, and also exceed those estimates by the largest amount of any megaproject.
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Amateur testicle surgeon confesses

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Allan George Matthews is a surgeon. He’s not a proper one, per se. You might call him a gentleman amateur. And a surgery the 56-year-old Australian performed to remove another man’s painful testicle has landed him in court, the BBC reports.

Police became aware of the case in June when the man attended hospital after the wound he suffered during the operation became infected.
Officers raided Matthews’ home and seized medical equipment, firearms and four bottles of what they suspected to be amyl nitrate.
Prosecutors alleged that Matthews was not authorised to perform such a procedure as he was not a qualified or registered medical practitioner.

The victim had been kicked in the bollocks by a horse and could not afford professional care, adds the Syndey Morning Herald.

The charges stem from an incident in a motel room in Port Macquarie on May 16.

Police allege Matthews met a 52-year-old man and surgically removed his left testicle.

It is the crown’s case that Matthews is not qualified or authorised to perform such a procedure, and is not a qualified or registered medical practitioner.

The 52-year-old alleged victim attended the motel room after posting an advertisement online requesting assistance with a medical issue, police claim.

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Straight people identifying as queer runs from ugly appropriation to beautiful idealism

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Jenna Wortham wrote a fascinating article about the pros and cons of straight people identifying as queer. In the wild, this is often nothing more than an ugly appropriation. Ah, but the possibilities…

“Someday, maybe we’ll recognize that queer is actually the norm, and the notion of static sexual identities will be seen as austere and reductive. … To the queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz, queerness was not a label people could claim but a complete reimagining of how people could be. “We may never touch queerness,” he wrote, in his 2009 book, “Cruising Utopia.” “But we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.” The widespread acceptance and even appropriation of the word “queer” seem to move us both closer to and further from such a future. But the horizon is out there, and you can see it if you squint.”

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