Day: July 19, 2016

Trump officially nominated as Republican presidential candidate

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In the convention hall, Donald Trump has gotten enough votes from bound delegates to make it official.

And the moment everyone (or at least pro-Trump Republicans) have been waiting for. With Trump children standing in the background, New York state has reported its delegates. Donald J. Trump Jr. was announced and stepped to the microphone. “We are going to put New York into play this time around,” he declared. “It’s not a campaign anymore, it’s a movement. Speaking to real Americans, giving them a voice again. It is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top in the delegate count tonight,” he yelled out. “Congratulations Dad, we love you.”

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Kickstarting Donald of the Dead: a Trump zombie comic

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Dan Taylor sez, “Prepare for the TRUMPOCALYPSE! When there is no more room in HELL, the dead will TRUMP the Earth. An all-new comic book from the creative team that brought you HERO HAPPY HOUR. If you think the idea of Donald Trump as President of the United States is scary, wait until you get a look at him as a zombie overlord amassing an army of undead to rule the world.”
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Marc "Half-Life" Laidlaw's gonzo cyberpunk is back in DRM-free ebooks

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Marc Laidlaw, the cyberpunk pioneer who went on to serve as writer on some of Valve’s greatest video-game titles — the Half-Life series, Portal — has just posted his entire backlist to Amazon as $3, DRM-free ebooks, including his debut novel Dad’s Nuke (think Fallout, but with religious extremist militants who subsist on “Host on a shingle,” this being the cultured recovered foreskin tissue of Jesus Christ on fortified crackers) and Kalifornia, a brilliant and prescient novel about media, cultural disintegration, and celebrity.
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The healing power of ayahuasca

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Michael Costuros is an “executive coach” in California’s Marin County (birthplace of the hot tub) who every year takes a group of entrepreneurs to South America on a trip within a trip. Each spends $10,000 to hopefully leverage “the healing power of ayahuasca,” Costuros says. From Chris Colin’s feature in California Sunday:

Chris Hunter, co-founder of the company behind the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, signed on in hopes that it would help him navigate some sticky professional relationships. Jesse Krieger, publisher of Lifestyle Entre­preneurs Press, wished for insight into growth strategies. Other participants included the founder of a financial technology company, the scion of a footwear empire, and a firearms executive looking for a pivot. Under the guidance of Costuros and a local shaman, they would participate in a San Pedro ceremony — San Pedro is another powerful plant-based psychedelic — followed by two separate ayahuasca ceremonies….

The participants — all men this year — spent their first day traveling to the retreat center, getting situated, and enjoying massages. At 8 a.m. the next day, they assembled in a small, open-air structure. Following an initial cleansing ceremony, they drank their first batch of medicine (fermented wheatgrass and dirt is how Krieger described the taste) and lay down on thin mats under a thatched roof. There they’d remain for ten hours.

The first 60 minutes of the ayahuasca ceremony felt like two weeks for (AirHelp CEO Henrik) Zillmer. Uncontrollable vomiting and feverish shivering aside, he was unable to move and watched helplessly as his mind departed his body and descended into a vast black hole. A witness to his own death, he stepped into something that wasn’t life at all. He felt both nowhere and everywhere on a strange grid connecting all plants, animals, stars, and human beings.

“There were visions,” said Hunter, the Four Loko guy. “I literally saw the world through other people’s eyes — my wife, my dad, my mom — and that crossed over into business aspects. At one point, I felt myself step into a leadership role that had almost been waiting there for me.”

Visionaries(California Sunday)

illustration by Brian Rea; animation by Pablo Delcan

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US Navy's sonar use violates Marine Mammal Protection Act

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The Navy have been blasting the sea with louder than rock concert sounds, hunting for Red October. Apparently the U.S. Navy hasn’t done enough to ensure its sonar technology isn’t hurting whales tho. Regardless this decision being overturned, the Navy had already planned to phase out much of the harmful sound.

Via Vocativ:

“The Court of Appeals understood that the Navy can do more to reduce the risk of its powerful long-range sonar, especially in the vast reaches of the ocean where too little is known,” Michael Jasny of the National Resource Defense Council, one of several organizations behind suit, said in a statement. “Ignorance is no excuse for inaction where commonsense safeguards recommended by the government’s own scientists can prevent avoidable harm.”

The court’s ruling will send both parties back to a district court for further consideration. But time may well run out on the NMFS’s decision anyway; it expires in 2017. The Navy has already agreed to limit its use of sonar in certain locations starting in 2018. Soon, the only waves in the ocean will be the natural ones made of water, not man-made ones that come from sound.

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GOP platform: repeal campaign finance laws, allow unlimited dark/offshore money in US politics

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The newly adopted campaign finance reform section of the GOP platform for the 2016 election calls for “raising or repealing contribution limits” for private individuals and demands an end to “requiring private organizations to publicly disclose their donors to the government,” which means that the identity of PAC financiers will be completely secret, opening up offshore financing of US political candidates; finally, the platform condemns “forced funding of political candidates,” meaning public election financing.

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Why are scientists drawing eyes on cows' asses?

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In Botswana, conservation scientists from the University of New South Wales are painting eyes on the rear ends of cattle in an effort to deter lions from eating them. As the lions’ protected habitats shrink, they move closer to human settlements. In Botswana, the lions attack the livestock that the subsistence farmers count on. That leads the farmers to kill the African lions, further endangering the species.

(UNSW conservation biologist Neil Jordan’s idea of painting eyes onto cattle rumps came about after two lionesses were killed near the village in Botswana where he was based. While watching a lion hunt an impala, he noticed something interesting: “Lions are ambush hunters, so they creep up on their prey, get close and jump on them unseen. But in this case, the impala noticed the lion. And when the lion realised it had been spotted, it gave up on the hunt,” he says.

In nature, being ‘seen’ can deter predation. For example, patterns resembling eyes on butterfly wings are known to deter birds. In India, woodcutters in the forest have long worn masks on the back of their heads to ward-off man-eating tigers.

Jordan’s idea was to “hijack this mechanism” of psychological trickery. Last year, he collaborated with the BPCT and a local farmer to trial the innovative strategy, which he’s dubbed “iCow”.

Eye-opening conservation strategy could save African lions(UNSW)

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As sewbots threaten Asia's sweatshops, we need to decide who will benefit from automation

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A new International Labour Organization report called ASEAN in transformation: How technology is changing jobs and enterprises predicts that “sewbots” — sewing robots that can piece together garments with little or no human intervention — will replace up to 90% of garment and footwear workers in Cambodia and Vietnam in the years to come.
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Snake Plissken escapes from Florida

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Snake Plissken is back in these epic Escape from New York comics!

I loved the comic book continuation of Big Trouble in Little China and these Escape from New York books are more of the same. Excellent art and story telling pick up right where the film ended, the ass-kicking continues. Our hero Snake decides he needs a little vacation and heads south to Florida. Naturally, nothing works out as easily as he plans, and Plissken finds himself stuck putting down a new southern rebellion.

Escape From New York Vol. 1 via Amazon

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Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta

Cucumber Mint Feta Salad

When the hot weather hits, nothing is more cooling than a cucumber salad!

I especially love the thin-skinned varieties of cucumbers—Persian, Armenian, English.

Their peels are thin and delicate, not bitter like regular cucumbers, so they don’t require peeling. They’re also not usually as seedy as their thick-skinned cousins.

Continue reading “Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta” »

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"Earthquake" off Daytona Beach, Florida was really military test

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On a Saturday, a 3.7 magnitude “earthquake” was detected about 168 miles off Florida’s Daytona Beach Shores. It now appears that the quake was actually a “shock trial,” an explosive test conducted by the US Navy to test the fortitude of the USS Jackson, a new combat ship. From the Daytona Beach News-Journal:

Asked about the reported earthquake on Monday, Dale Eng, a public information officer for the Navy’s Sea Systems Command in Washington, said the Navy is working on a statement it expects to release this week.

Seismographs as far away as Minnesota, Texas and Oklahoma, as well as along the coast of Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, registered the event on Saturday, said Bruce Presgrave, a geophysicist and shift supervisor at the Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in California.

(After being shown the above photo of a shock trial conducted last month) Presgrave said, “That’s a smoking gun, isn’t it?”

Presgrave planned to contact the Navy to learn more about the charges used in the shock trials as part of the agency’s ongoing investigation.

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Explainer: how anaedotal evidence about alternative medicine can lead you astray

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Jonathan Jarry’s short video on the problems with anaecdotal evidence for “alternative medicine” is a powerful, easy-to-digest primer on the ways that confounding variables, survivor bias and regression to the mean can make stuff like reiki seem like it works, and how double-blind tests can uncover these problems and help us figure out what works and what doesn’t — especially important is the idea that “dead men tell no tales”; that is, no one who died because alternative medicine failed to help them will ever tell you how great it worked. (via Motherboard)

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Master machine learning in just 10 courses

From self-driving cars to financial software to the recommendations you get on Amazon and Netflix, machine learning is at the core of modern technology—and its implications for future technology are staggering.

And now, you can dive into the field of machine learning yourself with The Complete Machine Learning Bundle. This package of 10 courses includes 406 lessons that will teach you everything from the basics to practical applications of machine learning (like how to apply machine learning to stock trading).

So put on that thinking cap and snap up this bundle while it’s available—it’s currently a steal for just $39.99 (94% off the regular price of $780).

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Humanitarian organization warns Pokemon Go players to stay out of Bosnian minefields

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Posavina bez mina, a humanitarian organization that works to defuse landmines in the former Yugoslavia, has posted a warning to its Facebook page saying that they’ve been told that Pokemon Go players are venturing into active minefields to catch virtual critters, and warning people not to go into minefields to catch Pokemon, which is very good advice.
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Shot in the '70s, North African Villages shows medieval villages unchanged by modernity

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

North African Villages: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia

by Norman F. Carver

Documan Pr Ltd

1989, 200 pages, 9 x 10.5 x 0.5 inches (softcover)

$24 Buy a copy on Amazon

In the 1970s an architectural student drove a VW van around Italy, the Iberian peninsula, and northern Africa, recording the intact medieval villages still operating in their mountain areas. The hill towns at that time in Italy, Spain, Morocco and Tunisia kept a traditional way of building without architects, using indigenous materials, without straight streets, producing towns of uncommon attractiveness. The architect, Norman Carver, later self published a series of photo books documenting these remote villages which had not yet been interrupted with modernity. They looked, for most purposes, like they looked 1,000 years ago. All of Carter’s books are worthwhile, but my favorite is North African Villages. Here you get a portrait of not just the timeless architecture, but also a small glimpse of the lives that yielded that harmony of the built upon the born. It’s an ideal of organic design, that is, design that is accumulated over time.

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US congressman Steve King thinks white people are the most awesome "subgroup"

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Iowa congressman Steve King Steve King of Iowa loves his “sub-group” of people. Here’s what he said on a televised panel on MSNBC:

“This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” Mr. Hayes asked.

Mr. King responded: “Than Western civilization itself that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

Even if King’s proudly ignorant statement was true, which it most assuredly is not, the fact remains that King himself hasn’t invented anything, other than fabulist history. To be proud of someone else’s invention because you have the same color skin as them is just about the stupidest thing a human being could think. It’s unfortunate that this nincompoop has enough admirers to vote him into office.

Quartz put together a list of things not invented by white people. I wonder if Rep King sullies his hands by touching any of them?

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Charges dismissed for cop who paralyzed innocent grandfather on a stroll

Image: GoFundMe

Charges were dismissed for the Madison, Alabama police officer who body slammed a 58-year-old man from India walking on the sidewalk last year. Sureshbhai Patel, who does not understand English, was seriously injured and needed an operation to fuse two vertebrae.

From NBC News:

Hank Sherrod, Patel’s attorney, told NBC News in an email that the state’s decision to drop the assault charge is deeply troubling, though not entirely surprising.

“This decision illustrates how difficult it is to hold law enforcement officers accountable under the criminal laws for brutal acts that would send an ordinary citizen to jail,” he said.

[Former Madison, Ala. police officer Eric Sloan] Parker, 27, still faces a civil lawsuit in connection with the incident. Parker encountered Patel last Feb. 6 while responding to a call of a suspicious black man looking at garages and walking near houses. Patel, in from India to visit his son and grandson, testified that he did not understand English or the officers who confronted him while he was out for a walk.

Nice people around the world gave $209,000 to Mr. Patel’s GoFundMe account.

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Call for speakers: Copycamp Poland, on the future of European copyright

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Marta sez, “The Modern Poland Foundation is calling for speakers at the 5th International CopyCamp Conference (Warsaw 27-28th October 2016) to discuss the Future of Copyright in Europe. If you’d like to join the debate on the impact copyright has and will have on education, politics, culture and society, send us your proposal and meet with other speakers from all over the world: lawyers, artists, politicians, academics, representatives of NGOS and the media.”

It’s the fifth time CopyCamp gives floor to all interested parties to talk about copyright in the friendly space of the popular movie theatre in the heart of Warsaw.

Thematic tracks of CopyCamp 2016:

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Copyright and Art

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Remuneration Models

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Copyright, Education and Science

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Technologies, Innovation and Copyright

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Copyright and Human Rights

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Copyright Enforcement

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Copyright Debate

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Copyright Lawmaking

Find more information here. If you are interested in presenting your viewpoint during a 10-minute talk, please send us an abstract of not more than 1800 characters by 31 July.


The International CopyCamp Conference 2016
Future of Copyright in Europe

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Melania Trump's convention speech plagiarized from Michelle Obama

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The internet is aflame with mirth and wrath: Melania Trump’s speech on the first night of the Republican convention in Cleveland contained several lines lifted from a speech delivered by Michelle Obama. Just at the point where her husband, Donald, secures his grasp on the party, they find that the apparent level his campaign operates at is just another false bottom and there is always worse to come.

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This pocket synthesizer will break your heart

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You saw the thumbnail and you came to the post, so here’s the cold truth: it’s just a rendering. Zont Sound’s beautiful little pocket synth will have an AMOLED display, softly-backlit matte-touch controls, wireless and USB-C connections, and 3.5mm out. There’s a dock that adds MIDI, writes Sean O’Kane, and at least a year of dreaming ahead of us. [h/t daneel]

Unfortunately, it seems that it will be a long time before anyone gets a chance to play with the Zont synth: the official website says it won’t be available until the fall of 2017. And while the designer behind the project, Pavel Golovkin, claims to have industrial design experience at Nooka (a company known for its wild wristwatches), this appears to be his first attempt at making his own hardware. That’s not always a promising proposition, though Teenage Engineering pulled it off with their own (admittedly low-budget) pocket synthesizers. (In fact, Zont’s already drawing comparisons to Teenage Engineering’s synth.) Golovkin will start up a crowdfunding campaign for the Zont synth later this year. Here’s hoping he befriends some audio engineers in the meantime.

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Men's rights meltdown at McDonalds

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A fellow hoping to dine at an Ottawa McDonalds was informed by the woman serving him that they had run out of Junior Chicken sandwiches for the night. So he called her a bitch, argued for several minutes about the relevance and appropriateness of the term, raised other issues of interest to Men’s Rights, and suggested she get on her knees to “service” him—all at steadily increasing volume and pitch. [via]

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