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  • Diablo III for Nintendo Switch? Yes Please!

    I lost my spring break to the original Diablo back in the mid-1990s. I spent the whole damn week in my underwear, wrapped in a blanket, playing it from dusk until dawn, surviving on pizza and Pepsi. It wasn’t my proudest moment. When Diablo II came along, I was a little older and much wiser. I knew what to expect. I promised myself that I’d play responsibly: No more losing sleep in the pursuit of better gear. I’d wear clothes. I’d force myself out into the daylight on a regular basis. I would break every one of these promises as the game held me in thrall. By the time that Diablo III rolled around, I was mature enough to know that playing too many games meant not making enough money. I was able to boot it up on my laptop and then, after a reasonable amount of time, turn it off so that I could get some work done. I bought it for my PS3, so that I could play it with my friends. When I upgraded to a PS4, I repurchased the game so I could play it there too. This fall, Diablo III is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Junkie that I am, I will exchange money for a copy of it to play on my handheld. I will do so, giddily. When the title comes to the Switch, it’ll include the Reaper of Souls expansion and the Rise of the Necromancer. I never got to play either before surrendering my PlayStation during a cash crunch, a few years back. There’ll be a whack of content that’s exclusive to Nintendo, too. That I can play it with four other people is icing on the cake. Living in the middle of nowhere and traveling constantly as I do can be isolating. It’ll be nice to goof off with some far-flung friends. The game’s already up for pre-order online. But I’m not into pre-ordering digital goods. It feels goofy to me. It’s not like they’re going to run out of downloads. But maybe you feel different than I do about it. If so, here’s a link to get you going. I’m absolutely loving the Switch for its new games and ports of old school titles I never got enough of back in the day. Here’s hoping devs will continue to feel that the system’s worth their while. Artwork via Nintendo and Blizzard
  • Facebook kills 652 more political disinformation accounts, Russia and Iran blamed

    Facebook announced today they are taking down 652 pages, groups and fake accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behavior." (more…)
  • Smartphones enlisted in the war against tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis was a disease that Doc Holliday died from; in old-timey novels, it’s often called consumption: a disease that sees those afflicted with it coughing delicately into hankies and later dying peacefully in bed. The truth is, the disease doesn’t afford a peaceful death, nor is it a relic of centuries past.

    In 2016, 1.6 million people died after contracting tuberculosis – a disease that causes the cells of an infected individual to burst. It can take hold of multiple sites in your body, but most often it affects the lungs. As the cells in an infected individual's lungs burst, the walls of the lungs destabilize, replacing the space where air’s supposed to go. As the victim’s lungs slowly collapse, the body believes itself to be drowning, because it is. As a result, the infected individual hacks and coughs, trying to clear the obstruction and, in the process, coughing up wee bits of flesh, blood and particles small enough to go airborne in a sneeze or cough. When someone else breathes those airborne particles in? They get infected. It’s scary shit, but it’s also treatable shit. To handle the symptoms that come with a case of tuberculosis, it’s necessary to take medication on a daily basis. Doing so isn’t just necessary for someone infected with tuberculosis to live a relatively normal life: given how infectious the disease is, it’s also vital for keeping everyone around them safe from contracting the illness themselves. Because of this, those undergoing treatment for TB are closely monitored by healthcare professionals, to ensure that they’re taking their pills as required. Patients are typically required to take their meds in the presence of a healthcare worker, to ensure that the dosage was actually ingested. This works well in a clinical situation, but not everyone lives near a clinic. Additionally, transient individuals may not be able to check into the same clinic on a daily basis, making treatment of their tuberculosis difficult. Happily, researchers from Johns Hopkins and the University of California, San Diego have come up with the means to monitor patients as they take their daily doses, even when they’re far from a clinical setting. As with so many other things, these days, it involves a smartphone. In this case, those being treated for TB are asked to take their medication in front of their smartphone camera, using an app called SureAdhere. From Stat News:

    “It gives patients a lot more autonomy,” said Richard Garfein, founder of San-Diego-based SureAdhere and a pioneer in the use of mobile-phone technology to monitor TB patients. “It has made their lives a lot easier and illuminated some of the barriers they face.” Garfein’s work to develop the monitoring product showcases both the potential of modern technology to improve treatment of serious diseases, as well as the challenge of tailoring even relatively simple digital solutions for use on sick patients. His team had to conduct studies of the tool’s impact on medication adherence, train health workers and patients to use the technology, and carefully monitor patients to ensure they used it properly.
    According to Stat News, the app may prove to be invaluable in the developing world, where the resources needed to treat and monitor tuberculosis patients are sparse, despite the fact that the infection rates of the disease are significantly higher than what we see in North America. It’s an approach that the CDC and WHO are on board with. Both recently published guidebooks that push the use of video monitoring to ensure or at least improve the odds that individuals infected with virulent diseases will take their medication, as it was prescribed. Image via Pxhere
  • If Trump tries to pardon his way out of trouble, it will make things worse for him

    There's a rumor that Trump will pardon Paul Manafort tonight at one of his sweaty rallies. If he does, it could come back to haunt him. Vox interviewed 10 legal experts who are largely in agreement that pardoning Manafort would actually help prosecutors nail him to the wall that much faster.

    A few highlights from the article:

    "If the president issues a pardon in order to influence a witness and impede the investigation, that would also be a further act of obstruction." -- Lisa Kern Griffin, law professor, Duke University

    “If the president pardons anyone involved in the Russian investigation, it may prove to be one of the stupidest things he has yet done.” —Julie O’Sullivan, Georgetown University

    “The threat of state prosecution is enough to force Kushner, Flynn, Manafort, etc. to become cooperating witnesses, regardless of whether Trump secretly promises to pardon them.” —Jed Shugerman, Fordham University

    If President Trump pardons subjects of Mueller's investigation, they will be unable to claim their Fifth Amendment rights if they are asked to testify under oath. -- Asha Rangappa, associate dean, Yale Law School

    With each abnormal, unbecoming, or dishonorable act, President Trump makes it harder for his appointees to defend him, harder for traditional Republicans to maintain their uneasy power alliance with him, and easier for Democrats to take the moral high ground and secure political advantage. President Trump is in danger of snuffing out his candle in the first year of his presidency. -- Andy Wright, law professor, Savannah Law School

    Image: Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock

  • Verizon to fire department: you're exceeding your bandwidth while you fight wildfires, so we're throttling you

    The Santa Clara County Fire Department had its Verizon wireless access throttled to 0.5% of normal, in the midst of its fight against the California wildfires; Verizon said that the firefighters had been using too much bandwidth while they risked their lives racing to save the county from being engulfed in flames. (more…)

  • GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter indicted on wire fraud & campaign finance crimes, incl. $1,500+ of Steam games

    Actually, it's about ethics in purchasing videogames with campaign funds. (more…)
  • Trump adviser Larry Kudlow hosted a white supremacist publisher at his home

    Top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow hosted at his home the publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white supremacy and anti-immigrant hate. (more…)
  • Music video made from David Bowie's beautiful TV commercials for Japanese booze

    In 1980, David Bowie did a series of Japanese TV commercials for Crystal Jun Rock, a Japanese liquor. See below. “The money is a useful thing,” Bowie later said about doing the ads.

    The soundtrack was the gorgeous track "Crystal Japan" that Bowie released first on a couple 7-inch singles and then as a bonus track on the CD reissue of "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)." Bowie fan Nacho Video recut the three TV commercials into the lovely music video above for "Crystal Japan."

    (via /r/ObscureMedia)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VkVowfxU1U

  • Watch the Rolling Stones age with their music

    Angel Nene created this montage showing how the Rolling Stones' faces and music evolved over the years. I got sad about one minute in (1969) when Brian Jones died.

    Below, my favorite of Nene's morphing animations of aging rock stars, "The Beatles Aging Together (1960-2017):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ewWzlx_bV8

    (via Laughing Squid)

  • European lawmaker writes post warning about dangers of automatic copyright filters, which is taken down by an automatic copyright filter

    Julia Reda is the Member of the European Parliament who has led the fight against Article 13, a proposal to force all online services to create automatic filters that block anything claimed as a copyrighted work. (more…)

  • The peculiar hazards of megaprojects

    Oxford Business School researcher Bent Flyvbjerg's 2014 paper on "megaprojects" is a minor classic of the project-management genre (but I hadn't heard of it until this morning, and, having read it, I can see why). (more…)

  • Making an LED you blow out like a candle, without any additional sensors

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD6A_tvbKT0

    LEDs are diodes (that's what the D stands for) and diodes are sensitive to voltage drops: when you blow on an LED, you make it ever so slightly cooler, and that causes an infinitesimal, but detectable voltage drop. (more…)

  • The Clown Egg Register: photos of the painstakingly painted eggs that English clowns stake their faces on

    Since 1946, the Clown Egg Register has collected blown eggshells that clowns hand-paint with their distinctive makeup, in order to claim that particular makeup as belonging to them; by custom, clowns do not copy each others' faces. (more…)

  • Michael Cohen admits violating campaign finance laws re: Stormy Daniels at Trump's direction

    President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen surrendered to the FBI today, and admitted to violating campaign finance laws in relation to payments made to porn performer Stormy Daniels on Donald Trump's orders. (more…)
  • Paul Manafort GUILTY on 8 counts, judge declares mistrial on 10 other counts

    In the trial of U.S. vs. Paul Manafort, a jury has found Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty on 8 counts. He faces a maximum of 80 years in prison. Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 counts for which the jury couldn't reach consensus. (more…)
  • Live-blogging Trump's mental breakdown

    As the Cohen and Manafort news blows up, we've got Jackhammer Jill watching the Orange Menace's twitter feed like a hawk. When the blowhard begins to melt down, we'll post tweets and analysis here.

    Earlier this afternoon, Michael Cohen, in a courtroom in New York, under oath, declared that President Donald Trump “directed” him to commit a federal crime. Within an hour, Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 felony charges. When Donald Trump landed in West Virginia, he told press as he exited AF1 that he felt sorry for Paul Manafort, and believed the (partly) guilty verdict Manafort received was “sad.” It's sad things have to “end this way,” said Trump, referring to Manafort's life and career. One imagines Manafort wouldn't appreciate hearing this as much as he'd appreciate a presidential pardon. Trump waxed on about Manafort: “He worked for Bob Dole, he worked for many people, it had nothing to do with Russian collusion, they continue the witch hunt.” He said nothing about Michael Cohen. But we're pretty sure a storm is a'coming!

    https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/1032018753196830722
  • Back to school time: 8oz vacuum insulated soup containers only $12

    These 8oz insulated thermos-like bottles will be going to school with my daughter.

    (more…)
  • European measles outbreak infects 41,000 people, killing 27 of them (so far)

    Anti-vaccine shenanigans have lowered Europe's average vaccination rate below the threshold to adequately provide for herd immunity. Following the decade's lowest year of measles cases in 2016, the rate of measles cases in Europe in 2018 is already headed for the stars. (more…)

  • How much would universal health care really cost?

    The Koch-backed Mercatus Institute was humiliated last month when it published a scare story claiming that American couldn't afford the $32.6 trillion cost of universal health care for the next decade, a number that seems huge until you realize that the cost of privatized US health care over the same period will be $2 trillion higher. (more…)

  • This deck of cards will spark small, IRL experiences

    The fabulous Lea Redmond of Leafcutter Designs (previously) has launched a brand new project. It's called Lively Matter and it's a 52-card activity deck to create grand adventures and experiences out of the ordinary.

    She writes:

    Each card in the Lively Matter deck gives instructions for a tangible, mini adventure that you can do by yourself or with friends. The activities are delightful, thoughtful, and repeatable. For example: get a gum ball at a vending machine, then pay special attention to that color for the rest of the day... The activities don't take a lot of time, but they do encourage creativity, observation, and poetic engagement with the everyday world.

    The deck itself is $15. For $40, you get the deck plus that cool silkscreened "Will Return At" pouch shown in the photo. To take a "digital detox" break, you just zip your phone inside of the pouch and mark what time you want to get it back.

    Lea put Lively Matter on Kickstarter this past weekend and, as of this writing, it's already completely funded (!).

    (RED)

  • Join me and the Electronic Frontier Foundation today for a Reddit AMA about how copyright law can censor security research

    Have you ever wanted to talk with the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the risks of talking in public about security issues, especially in connected Internet of Things devices? Today, you'll get your chance.

    (more…)
  • A gun, a bottle and a human head: what could go wrong?

    It takes a certain amount of alcohol, nihilism and trust in the steady nature of your buddy's hand to make having a bottle shot off your head feel OK.

    Don't ask me how I know this.

  • PETA frees animal crackers from their cages

    For more than 100 years, the animals on the Barnum's Animal Crackers' packaging were depicted in a circus cage. Now, thanks to a request from PETA, that has all changed.

    The animal rights organization asked Mondelez, Nabisco's parent company, to remove the bars in a letter sent in 2016, according to AP:

    “Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public’s swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats,” PETA said in its letter. Mondelez agreed and started working on a redesign. In the meantime, the crackers’ namesake circus — Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey — folded for good. The 146-year-old circus, which had removed elephants from its shows in 2016 because of pressure from PETA and others, closed down in May 2017 due to slow ticket sales. The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages — implying that they’re traveling in boxcars for the circus — the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance.

    The box before:

    Thanks, Tracy!

    photo by Trent Musho via PETA

  • 22 states jointly petition the Federal Circuit appeals court to reinstate Net Neutrality

    The Attorneys General of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia have filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, asking it to reinstate the Network Neutrality rules killed by Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. (more…)

  • N-word returns to British television

    The abandoned Karl Lagerfeld Realdoll prototype known as Rodrigo Alves used the N-word on a British reality TV show and the broadcaster didn't even take him off the air. Here's the BBC on the alarming but very highly-rated return of a classic.

    Ofcom said it has received 1,048 complaints about the incident, which was shown on the second day of the reality TV show.

    Rodrigo used the word when describing what kind of partner he preferred.

    Ofcom is currently deciding whether action will be taken against Channel 5 for its handling of the incident.

    "We will assess these against the broadcasting code before deciding whether to take it forward for investigation," it said in a statement.

    Alves, known for both the number and the incompetence of his plastic surgeons, has attained a level of celebrity in the UK media that damns both him and them in ways suddenly more obvious. Celebrity Big Brother was reportedly so desperate to keep him on the show that he boasted of the special demands he was making before, finally, making clear to them who is in charge.

  • Good deal on small travel umbrella $11.54

    I've been keeping one of these mini umbrellas in my suitcase for years. It's so small and leight I don't notice that it is there until I need it. It weighs 7-ounces. It's under 7-inches long when closed. It opens to 34-inches in diameter. Amazon has it on sale today for $11.54.

  • Amazon's cloud business leads American companies in shifting its electric cost to taxpayers

    Whether it's paying for burying dedicated power-lines for data-centers, winning below-cost sweetheart deals on electricity rates, or securing tax-breaks and incentives to set up shop, Amazon Web Services has proven time and again that it is the nation's best cost-shifter, enjoying billions in tax-funded gifts for operating data centers that employ almost no one and whose profits go straight to distant shareholders. (more…)

  • Excellent one hour interview with Stephen Colbert

    The New York Times interviewed Stephen Colbert on stage. Among other things, he describes his typical working day, and what goes into producing The Late Show. I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but what I've seen so far is really good.

    I had the privilege of being on the Colbert Report twice. Each time, Colbert came into the green room and spent about 20 minutes chatting with me. He was really nice. I also noticed that the crew adored him and had a great relationship with him.

  • Touring the haunting ruins of abandoned Second Life university campuses

    Second Life is many things, but among them is an attempt to build a virtual world that works more like the web (where anyone can add a site or a page) than a finished product that can only be modified by the corporation that manufactured it. (more…)

  • Uber in the 1980s

    Squirrel Monkey makes excellent videos that imagine what popular online sites and services would have looked like if they'd been around in the 1980s or 1990s. Squirrel Monkey uses actual vintage computer equipment in the videos, which look like 5th generation VHS cassette duplicates. Even though the videos are funny, they are also spot on. In this one, Squirrel Monkey shows us Uber in the 1980s. The final step involves printing a voucher on a very slow dot matrix printer.