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Super-size soda to be banned in New York under obesity plan

At the NYT, Michael M. Grynbaum reports on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to abolish sales of large bottles or cups of soda outside of grocery stores.

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

Presumably, refills and the purchase of multiple smaller sodas will also be banned, in order to demonstrate that this isn't empty hot air that just happens to increase the price- and profitability-by-volume of soda.

Clarion Write-a-Thon: the home-game edition of the Clarion writing workshop

The Clarion Foundation has announced its annual write-a-thon, which is a sort of "home-game" edition of the famous Clarion science fiction and fantasy writing workshop, a boot-camp for budding writers held annually at the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego:

What is a write-a-thon, anyway? It's just like a walk-a-thon. But instead of walking, we're writing, and instead of making pledges per mile, we're making pledges per word, chapter, or story. Writers get support, encouragement and motivation, and the option of joining a team with a writing mentor! Those who care about the writers in their life get a way to show their support. And money is raised for a literally fantastic cause -- the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop. All donations are made through The Clarion Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, EIN #20-3114945.

Everybody wins!

Writing begins officially on June 24, and ends on August 4, same dates as the 2012 Clarion Workshop. Just by signing up, you'll get the bonus of providing moral support for this summer's Clarion Workshop students.

Clarion Write-a-Thon

(Disclosure: I am pleased to volunteer on the board of directors of the Clarion Foundation, which is a 501(c)3 charitable organization)

Lightning rainbow

A rainbow during storms in Haikou, the capital of China's Hainan province. Photo: China Daily/Reuters

Sun god appeased in Manhattan

To this marvelous photo of something odd going on in Manhattan, Jane-Claire Quigley appends an explanation (of sorts). [Animal NY]

Hypercard at 25

Matthew Lasar at Ars: "Where does HyperCard fit in the narrative of innovation? It's always tempting to go the condescending route and compare the program to, say, the optical telegraph, which was the magnetic telegraph's largely forgotten predecessor; or to John Logie Baird's mechanical television set, a forerunner to electronic TV; or to the cable/satellite music download experiments of Bill Von Meister, all of which tanked but eventually inspired America Online. But these were all flops. In its two decade life span, HyperCard was enormously successful, and it succeeded all over the world."

P.S. Spot anything interesting about his choice of screenshot?

SpaceX Dragon takes fiery ride from ISS back to Earth today

Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at livestream.com

UPDATE: The SpaceX Dragon successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 1042AM ET. History made, with the first commercially-built and operated space flight to the International Space Station now successfully completed.


Six days after it berthed with the International Space Station on an historic mission to prove that it could, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle left the ISS today and is now headed back toward our planet. SpaceFlightNow has live streaming video coverage:

The resupply craft was released from the robotic arm at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT) and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is scheduled for 11:44 a.m. EDT (1544 GMT).

NASA has a HD video feed here, if you prefer.

Artist’s rendition of Dragon spacecraft returning to Earth like a burning meteor. (SpaceX)

Space journalist Miles O'Brien spoke with CNN earlier this morning about the day's significance. On his blog, Miles writes:

With the shuttle fleet pickled, chocked and either in – or on their way to museums, Dragon is the only vehicle designed to haul cargo back to Earth in tact. Freighters from Russian, Europe and Japan are more like trash incinerators – as they do not have heat shields and parachutes designed to insure a safe landing.

Dragon is carrying just shy of 1400 pounds of cargo. More than it hauled up.

On board, about 300 pounds of crew preference items (lots of mementoes for friends and family), 200 pounds worth of scientific experiments, and nearly 800 pounds of station gear including a pump for the station urine recycling system (yes, they drink their own pee up there…).

Dragon will re-enter the atmosphere like a streaking meteor – as its ablative heat shield burns away - protecting the spacecraft from the searing heat.

Read the rest

Canadian border guards demand inbound journalist's mobile phone contacts, prohibit writing while in-country

Henry sez, "Jacobin editor and In These Times correspondent Bhaskar Sunkara got a going over from Canadian border cops who accused him of being 'political' for knowing about health insurance, and of being a 'bigtime journalist embedded in the student movement,' then demanded his phone and details of his contacts."

The other agent, now done examining my roll of dental floss, flipped through the copy of In These Times, and saw my name on the masthead. So you’re a big time journalist? You must be embedded in the student movement, right?

This was the surprise and, to be honest, it was kind of refreshing. For the first few years of my adult life, I’ve dealt with extra screenings at airports and crossings, mostly outside the United States, particularly in the European countries I’ve visited. It was due to my race. My first hour in Canada was like that. Now I was being harassed because I was a leftist going to possibly talk to people in a country terrified of a militant left-wing movement. And I was a “known journalist.” I couldn’t wait to brag to my friends.

They asked me if I had two identities. No, of course not. How come you have all these medical cards that say “Swamy Sunkara” on them? I tried to explain the United States’ employer-based health care system and how young people under a certain age were under their parent’s coverage. You know a lot about this, are you political?

The irony was striking. The system I was explaining was a stark reminder of America’s weak social safety net. It was foreign to the Canadian border officials, who were admittedly not too bright, but it was one of the reasons why so many were marching in the streets of Montreal – to halt the neoliberal offensive. The border officials didn’t want me to join the protesters, but they also didn’t want my health care.

Reading Lolita in Montreal: Canada Doesn’t Want More Journalists (Thanks, Henry!)

New York City mapped by rappers' origins

Click through to A Very Small Array for full size. You may also enjoy The Rap Map.

Click watches look like light-switches


Click's latest watches are the "Wall Switches." As the name implies, they look like wide, flat, blank wall-switches, but have a hidden illuminated time-display that lights up when the switch is flicked.

Click Wall Switch Watches

Toronto cop who arrested drunk-driving off-duty officer harassed by co-workers

A Toronto internal police disciplinary ruling found that Constable Andrew Vanderburgh was "harassed and berated" by other cops because he insisted on booking an off-duty cop whom he'd caught driving drunk. Vanderburgh, a rookie, brought in Breton Berthiaume based on a phoned-in tip about an erratic highway driver. Berthiaume, an off-duty cop, failed a breathalyzer. When Vanderburgh went ahead and booked the other officer, his fellow cops objected, and began a campaign of harassment and intimidation. The Toronto Star's Betsy Powell reports:

“Constable Khawaja is purported to have stated on more than one occasion that evening to different informants that he wanted nothing to do with the arrest of a fellow police officer,” Reinhardt wrote.

Vanderburgh, meanwhile, continued to pay a price.

After Berthiaume was released, Vanderburgh drove a marked police vehicle back to his division and was followed by a 22 Division cruiser driven by Const. James Little.

Little pulled him over and gave him a ticket for allegedly disobeying a red light, which was later dismissed. Last year, Little pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Little chose “to disregard his professional obligations and embark on a course of retaliatory action against a colleague performing his sworn, lawful duty,” Supt. Robin Breen wrote in his ruling.

Rookie cop takes heat for arresting off-duty officer (via Reddit)

Cats with flowers on their heads, in baskets, resting in a tree (video)

Video link (shironekoshiro)

Gay porn actor in Canada wanted for killing friend, publishing dismembering videos, mailing body parts

Authorities in Canada are searching for 29-year-old Luka Rocco Magnotta, an adult film actor who appears on various websites featuring hardcore gay male porn. Magnotta is beleived to be the man responsible for killing a friend, videotaping and then publishing online video of the man's dismemberment, then mailing body parts to various addresses in Ottawa, including the ruling Conservative party's headquarters.

A human torso recently discovered in Montreal, and a human hand and foot mailed from Montreal to Ottawa, are all presumed to be connected to the killing.

In 2009, Magnotta (or someone using his name) published a blog post on "how to disappear completely and never be found."

Read the rest

First-person horror game from a two-year-old's PoV

Krillbrite Studio offers a preview of "Among the Sleep," a first-person horror game viewed from the point of view of a toddling two-year-old:

Among The Sleep invites you into the mind and body of a two year old child. After being put to bed one evening, mysterious things start to happen.

Being played in first person, the game let its players immerse themselves in a child's limitless imagination. This is a perspective we all have a distant familiarity with, but few can clearly remember what it felt like.

In the borderland between dream and reality, surreal creatures and diverse environments will present you with both physical and mental obstacles that challenge your creativity.

Among the Sleep (via Super Punch)

In Tibet, a mother of 3 burns herself alive in protest of Chinese rule

A woman identified as Rikyo, said to be 33 years old and the mother of three young children, burned herself to death today in what is believed to have been another desperate act of protest against China’s repressive policies in Tibet. According to the Tibetan pro-sovereignty website Phayul, she set herself on fire near the Jonang Zamthang Gonchen monastery in Zamthang county, in Ngaba region, the epicenter of a continuing wave of Tibetan self-immolations.

Rikyo’s body is currently being kept at the Jonang Monastery, although Chinese security personnel have reportedly demanded the body to be removed. Rikyo is survived by her husband and three children, the eldest, a 9-year old son and two daughters aged 7 and 5.

Just three days ago, two ethnic Tibetan men self-immolated in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, at what is considered to be the ancient city's most important temple. Chinese police and firefighters arrived at Jokhang, extinguished flames, and removed the men. Their whereabouts and conditions are unknown.

Read the rest

SpaceX Dragon scheduled to return to Earth Thu. May 31, 11:44 AM ET

The SpaceX Dragon, having successfully berthed with the International Space Station, is on its way back home. Last week the space vehicle became the first privately-built and operated spacecraft to reach the ISS. Dragon is targeted to land in the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles west-southwest of Los Angeles, at approximately 8:44 AM PT/11:44 AM ET tomorrow. The vehicle's return voyage, from ISS departure to splashdown, will be webcast on NASA TV starting at 3:30AM ET/12:30 AM PT.

From a NASA update:

Read the rest