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“Breaker Of Chains” explores the many feuds of House Lannister [Recap: season 4, episode 3]

HBO sent out the first three episodes of this season of Game Of Thrones out to critics, and while “Breaker Of Chains” is probably the most uneven of the three, and the one most sorely lacking a big event around which the rest of the scenes can hinge.

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Mystery tool in my backyard

Found this today in a seldom-visited area of our backyard. Looks handmade, with a piece of tire on one end, a tape covered shaft, and a hook on the other end. No idea what it is.

Close up photos

Easter Bunny hates you

I have always loved this. Happy holiday.

Video link

This Day in Blogging History: Warren Buffet v goldbugs; Norwegian pirates buy more music; Dozois leaves Asimov's

One year ago today
Warren Buffet vs goldbugs: “If you put your money into gold or other non-income- producing assets that are dependent on what someone else values that in the future, you’re in speculation,” he said. “You’re not into investing....”

Five years ago today
Norwegian P2P downloaders buy more music: There's a simple explanation for this: if you really love music, you do lots of music-related things. If you're in the 20 percent of fans that buys 80 percent of records, you're probably in the 20 percent of downloaders that download 80 percent of music, the 20 percent of concertgoers that buy 80 percent of the tickets, and so on. The moral is that music superfans love music and structure their lives around it.

Ten years ago today
Gardner Dozois stepping down from Asimov's: Gardner's won the Hugo for best editor 14 times, making him one of the award-winningest editors in the history of the field, and the stories in Asimov's are stunningly well-represented at every year's Nebula and Hugo awards.

Orphan Black S02E01: Nature Under Constraint and Vexed [recap w/spoilers]

It’s good to be back in the Clone Club. The return of Orphan Black quite literally hits the ground running and never lets up in this action-packed, clone-filled premiere. “Nature Under Constraint And Vexed” reintroduces almost every major player from season one, readjusts the show’s antagonistic forces, and ends with a bombshell reveal. I’m not convinced it’s a pace the show can maintain for the entire season, but it’s a hell of a fun way to jump back into the world of Orphan Black.

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Adorable kittens, 9 days old, cry adorably and are available for adoption (video)

Warning: THIS VIDEO MAY CAUSE YOU TO DIE OF CUTENESS.

Happy Caturday. Ah, listen to this 9-day-old kitten's adorable squeals! Boing Boing pal Miles O'Brien was learning how to fly his camera drone with one hand after becoming one-handed. At the drone flying range near Washington, DC, a friend had a few 9-day old kittens hanging out on a blanket.

If you would like to adopt one of them, contact Nikki Driver at ndriver8411@gmail.com. Nikki is a vet, so they're in good hands. She and the kittens are near Charlottesville, VA.

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Zentai: full-body masked spandex subculture from Japan

Zentai (short for "zenshintaitsu," Japanese for "full body suit") is a largely obscure Japanese subculture whose adherents go out wearing full-body patterned spandex suits that cover their faces. In a relatively unsensational article in the Japan Times, Harumi Ozawa talks to a few zentais about their hobby, and learns that for some proponents, being completely covered is a liberating experience. The zentais in the article describe the suit as an anonymizer that frees them from the judging gaze of society, which is a fascinating study in contradictions, since the suits undoubtably attract lots of judgmental looks, but these seem to adhere to the suit without penetrating to the wearer within.

Some zentais wear their suits in superhero fashion, and do good deeds in public, while others wear the suits for sexual kicks. They are often mocked in Japanese pop culture. One academic cited in the article believes that the wearers use the suits to hide their appearance in order to force others to deal with their "true" underlying identity.

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Playing Jenga with heavy earth-moving equipment

In Stack competitions, a bunch of earth-moving equipment plays a monster-scale game of Jenga with 600lb blocks of wood -- pretty amazing skill on the part of the operators!

This is pretty amazing, but don't get too excited about Cat's equipment. Remember, this is the company that bought an Ontario factory, got a huge, multi-year tax break out of the government, then, pretty much the day it ran out, demanded a 50% wage-cut from the union, refused to negotiate, then closed down the factory, fired its workforce just before Christmas, and split town, having waxed fat on corporate welfare. No amount of fun promotional Jenga games can change the fact that if Cat's corporate personhood was literal, the company would be such an obviously dangerous sociopath that it would be permanently institutionalized to protect the rest of society.

Built For It Trials - Stack: Largest Board Game Played with Cat Excavators (via JWZ)

Profile of Aeropress and Aerobie inventor Alan Adler


Alan Adler is a Stanford engineering professor and inventor who's had two remarkable -- and wildly different -- successes: the long-flying Aerobie disc, and the Aeropress, a revolutionary, brilliant, dead-simple $30 coffee maker that makes pretty much the best cup of coffee you've ever tasted. I've given Aeropresses to a dozen friends, I keep one in my travel-bag, and I've got Aeropresses at home and at the office. I use mine to make hot coffee and to filter cold-brew (including hotel-room minibar cold-brew that I brew in breast-milk bags).

Zachary Crockett has a great, long piece on Adler and the process that led to the creation of these two remarkable products. Adler's first success, the Aerobie, was the result of lucking out with the major TV networks and magazines, who provided him with the publicity he needed to get his business off the ground (literally). But with the Aeropress, the defining factor was the Internet, where a combination of coffee-nerd message-boards (where Adler could interact directly with his customers) and an easy means for coffee-shop owners all over the world to order Aeropresses for retail sale made the Aeropress into a global hit.

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Message to NETmundial: protect fundamental Internet freedoms

Jeremie from France's La Quadrature du Net sez, "The farcical illusion of 'multistakeholder' discussions around 'Internet governance' must be denounced! For the last 15 years those sterile discussions led nowhere, with no concrete action ever emerging. In the meantime, technology as a whole has been turned into a terrifying machine for surveillance, control and oppression. The very same 'stakeholders' seen in IGFs and such, by their active collaboration with NSA and its public and private partners, massively violated our trust and our privacy."

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Hobby Lobby, IUDs, and the facts

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year whether a corporation can have religious beliefs. Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the science of birth control, and how it might inform the debate.

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This Day in Blogging History: Free Conan audiobooks; RIP JG Ballard; EFF vs bullshit patents

One year ago today
Great free reading of Robert E Howard's "Conan and the Queen of the Black Coast": This is the Ur-stuff, the sword-and-sorcery material that turned me into a stone Conan freak when I was 12 years old. It's all mighty thews and straining jaws and blood-drenched swords -- and pirates and sinuous dances and so on.

Five years ago today
JG Ballard (1930-2009): "Picturing the psychology of the future is what it's all been about." --JG Ballard

Ten years ago today
EFF waging war on bullshit Internet patents: EFF is going to start actively busting bullshit Internet patents, hunting down prior art and getting the USPTO to revoke the patents.

Kickstarting Maker's Alphabet: an ABC book that celebrates creativity

Melody writes, "We're grad students in the MFA Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. We launched a Kickstarter project called Maker's Alphabet. It's an ABC book that features whimsical illustrations and verses to celebrate creativity of all stripes."

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Scattered: Short film adapted from Ken MacLeod story

Joshua sez, "This atmospheric film is the first ever screen-adaptation of the work of award-winning sci-fi author Ken MacLeod. Scattered examines society's relationship with its past through a son's relationship with his father, and challenges our established ideas of destruction and terrorism through a crime that is as surprising as it is all-consuming. As all great sci-fi should, Scattered offers a vision of the future that illuminates the present."

McCloud's work is brilliant -- have a look at my review of his dystopian masterpiece Intrusion. (Thanks, Joshua!)

UK tax authority caught sneaking in plan to sell Britons' private financial records

Just weeks after a plan to sell "anonymized" sets of British health-records collapsed in the face of massive public criticism, a new plan has emerged to sell the country's tax records to companies and researchers, prompting an even more critical response. One Tory MP called the plan "borderline insane," and tax professionals are in an uproar. The plan was buried as a brief mention in the autumn budget. HMRC's defense rests on the idea that the information in the datasets will be anonymized, something that computer scientists widely believe is effectively impossible.

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