Authorities say a pre-dawn search at an Acapulco prison led to the discovery of two peacocks, 100 fighting cocks, two big bags of pot and 19 prostitutes within the prison. Oh, and dozens of recent-model plasma televisions, several bottles of alcohol (LOL: "several"), and lots and lots of knives. A government spokesperson would not say how the sex workers, birds and contraband got into the prison. He referred to the peacocks as "pets". — Xeni
The Archon Genomics X-Prize is offering $10 million to the first research team to sequence the genomes of 100 people who are age 100 or older. The goal: Get a clear view, for the first time, of what makes centenarians different on a genetic level.
That's pretty cool. And will probably be a lost more useful than the usual answer to, "How did you live so long?," which seems to usually involve something about piss, vinegar, and ironically unhealthy lifestyle choices.
But, before the fun can start, the Prize needs to find 100 centenarians willing to donate samples of their DNA to science. That's where you come in. Do you have a friend, grandparent, or great-grandparent who'd be interested in participating in the project? If so, you should nominate them to be one of the "100 Over 100."
Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina criminal justice professor who's an expert in police decision-making and use of force, said the video left him "astonished, amazed and embarrassed."
"Unless there's something we don't know, that's one of the most outrageous uses of a firearm that I've ever seen," he said. "Unless there's a threat that you can't see in the video, that just looks like absolute punishment, which is the worst type of excessive force."
"The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views," reports the Guardian. The tech project was seeded by the Kochs 18 months ago with $2.5 million, and is being developed by a secretive team of advisors. The database will be called Themis, after the Greek goddess who imposes divine order on human affairs. — Xeni
Last year, I found myself in New Orleans for a rather epic birthday party. One place I knew I wanted to visit was Preservation Hall, (which I'd written about here), a legendary unamplified jazz club. It was everything I'd heard and more.
I bought the whole run of Preservation Hall CDs, and they've been in heavy rotation here. Of the bunch, my favorite is "Songs of New Orleans," and I always know it's going to be a good day when the random number generator smiles on me and shuffles a track from the double CD into my music player, especially if that track is Go to the Mardi Gras, which played about ten minutes ago and put a smile on my face that's certain to last the day through.
I've just noticed that there's a new(ish) Preservation Hall Jazz Band CD, American Legacies, which, alas, I can't say anything about, because the Amazon MP3 store won't sell it to me (I'm in Germany and my credit card is registered in the UK, so they shut me out).
The Chevy Volt is getting a lot of attention these days, and if you drive a Volt, you are, too! Volt drivers say they’re constantly getting stopped at grocery stores and cornered in parking lots by curious onlookers wanting to know how the Volt works. Surely, you can relate. What is your Volt story?
Maybe it’s about what it’s like to charge regularly and fill up rarely, the furthest you’ve driven on an electric charge, or perhaps how the Volt has made you competitive with maximizing your efficiency. Now it’s your turn to share how you have achieved these amazing feats and how the Volt has changed your life.
Ars Technica has an in-depth review of Glitch, the whimsical, free-to-play game from Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield (we've written about Glitch here before) and his new company, Tiny Speck. Glitch uses whimsical, cooperative tasks to produce fun and delight, rather than combat:
Tuning the quests and interactions to provide the right level of difficulty and reward was complicated. In beta testing, the development team found that while singing to butterflies was repetitive and boring, people would still sing to butterflies obsessively—because it provided small but guaranteed amounts of experience. The devs tried to balance this by making singing to animals cost energy, but then players simply farmed huge numbers of girly drinks (which made animals interactions cost no energy) and continued to grind the same thing again and again. The girly drinks were then nerfed, and people immediately complained.
"We realized that if we incentivized things that were inherently boring," Butterfield told me, "people would do them again and again—it showed up in the logs—but that they would secretly hate us."
Player housing is implemented, with an apartment-style design that lets anyone have their own home without cluttering up the landscape. You can decorate your home and grow things in your own garden on the patio. Unlike many games, in Glitch it does not take long to save up enough cash for a place of your own, though making it look less than spartan will take considerable effort.
Funny little touches to the game litter the game. For example, getting the right papers to let you purchase an apartment requires multiple trips to the Department of Administrative Affairs (Ministry of Departments) where you spend much time in a waiting area while bureaucratic lizard men play Farmville on tiny computers.
At the Atlantic, science historian Suzanne Fischer has a really interesting post up about the development of pointe shoes. In the early 20th century, at a time when all sorts of technologies were remaking the way people lived, worked, and played, pointe shoes were doing the same thing for ballerinas.
In particular, Fischer writes, pointe shoes were almost the dance equivalent of Henry Ford's assembly line—they standardized bodies and turned dancers into a sleek, modern commodity.
... the new shoes forced dancers' bodies to move in new ways. Dancers on this pointe regimen developed characteristically long, lean leg muscles. Balanchine also encouraged dancers to let the shoes remake their bodies, including developing bunions that gave the foot just the right line. And as their bodies were remade, dancers became "like IBM machines," modern and indistinguishable. This had consequences for labor, too. For one, stars became a less central feature of dance companies as dancers became more interchangeable, and second, dancers came to spend hours working on their shoes -- altering, gluing, and caring for them. In fact, in 1980 dancers threatened to strike -- not over hours or pay, but for better pointe shoes, and better management of them.