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An interesting letter, which may or may not relate to Petraeus (Update: NYT says it's unrelated)

A letter from an anonymous NYT reader to "Ethicist" writer Chuck Klosterman, titled "MY WIFE’S LOVER"—

My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.) I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort. My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be “true to my heart” and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me? NAME WITHHELD

Read the rest. Published: July 13, 2012. (via @blakehounshell)

Update: Not related, says NYT magazine editor Hugo Lindgren.

Petraeus outed by Gmail

As reported earlier today, CIA chief David Petraeus has resigned after an FBI probe into whether someone else was using his email led to the discovery he was having an extramarital affair.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation focused on his Gmail account, and that the traffic they observed "led agents to believe the woman or someone close to her had sought access to his email." The woman in question has now been identified as West Point graduate Paula Broadwell, author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

While Mr. Petraeus was still a general, he had email exchanges with the woman, but there wasn't a physical relationship, the person said. The affair began after Mr. Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and ended months ago, the person said.

Previously: CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants

Lucasfilm confirms: Michael Arndt will write Star Wars: Episode VII

In an update to yesterday's post about Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) writing the next installment of the Star Wars saga, Lucasfilm confirmed on StarWars.com that it's official: Arndt is writing the screenplay for Star Wars: Episode VII, slated for release in 2015. No news yet on a title, but the Oscar-winner has been meeting with George Lucas and new Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for story conferences. The wheels are in motion, ladies and gentlemen -- new Star Wars movies are totally happening. (via Deadline) Jamie

Mail-Order Ninja's Kickstarter revival


Josh from Reading With Pictures sez, "A Kickstarter campaign (now in its final days!) to revive the award-winning graphic novel series and nationally syndicated comic 'Mail Order Ninja!' Originally published by TOKYOPOP and distributed as a strip by Universal Press Syndicate, the series fell into publishing limbo when TOKYOPOP closed its doors. That is... until now! 'Mail Order Ninja' is the certified awesome tale of an ordinary little boy named Timothy J. McAllister living an ordinary little life in the ordinary little town of Cherry Creek, IN. But when Timmy orders his very own ninja from a mail order catalog (Arch-nemesis sold separately.), life in Cherry Creek will never be ordinary again!"

MAIL ORDER NINJA Returns! (Thanks, Josh!)

Navy SEALs in trouble for breaching secrets to Electronic Arts for "Medal of Honor Warfighter" game

Seven members of the US Navy's highly secretive SEAL Team 6, one of whom was part of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, have been punished for disclosing classified information to game maker Electronic Arts. Four other SEALs are under investigation for similar alleged violations. They said to have given classified information to EA, for the game "Medal of Honor: Warfighter."

CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants

David H. Petraeus, the head of America's Central Intelligence Agency, resigned just days after the election after issuing a statement saying he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

"By acknowleding an extramarital affair, Mr. Petraeus, 60, was confronting a sensitive issue for a spy chief," reports the New York Times. "Intelligence agencies are often concerned about the possibility that agents who engage in such behavior could be blackmailed for information."

In an email to Wired's national security blog Danger Room, a former confidant says of the disgraced general, “He feels that he screwed up. He did a dishonorable thing and needed to try to do the honorable thing.” The source says the affair began after Petraeus retired from the military and became CIA director.

Read the rest

Can Sandy victims sue power companies for extended outages?

Short version: yes, but it's not easy. "To win, New York ratepayers have to show that their power company was not just slow or inefficient. Instead, Kreppein said, under a 1985 New York Court of Appeals ruling called Strauss v. Belle Realty, electric company customers must establish that the utility was grossly negligent — that its conduct was way outside the bounds of reasonableness." Alison Frankel at Reuters. Xeni

Cats led feds to suspect in Mitt Romney tax return hacking case

Two grainy photos of cats led federal investigators to a Tennessee man suspected of stealing former presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns to blackmail him for $1 million. "They said they're here to serve a search warrant for Romney's tax returns," Brown told WSMV-TV. "My first reaction was, 'You've got to be kidding me.'" What I want to know is: how lame of a hacker do you have to be to get a hold of Mitt Romney's highly-sought tax returns and *not release them*? (via Peter Feld)


Former Pixar CTO's talking teddy bear raises $16M

ToyTalk, a "family entertainment" startup that makes a "smart," internet-connected, artificially-intelligent teddy bear, has secured a total of $16M million in institutional funding. The company was founded by former Pixar CTO Oren Jacob, and ToyTalk CTO Martin Reddy previously worked at the organization that built virtual personal assistant Siri. (Venturebeat)

[Update/Correction: ToyTalk corrects the original figures reported by Venturebeat, and tells Boing Boing: "ToyTalk is at 16M in total funding to date. The most recent Series A was led by CRV. Previous seed funding was led by Greylock with First Round Capital, True Ventures and a number of angel investors."]

Walking Dead "Green Army Men" zombies


Gentle Giant's accepting pre-orders for Walking Dead "Green Army Men," available in green or tan, in sets of 10 for $14.

It’s a trip down memory lane… but with zombies! No longer constrained to the traditional green vs. tan, now kids and kids-at-heart alike can have their armies take on The Walking Dead! Use your green troops strategically to defend the last outposts of humanity, or take control of a horde of Walkers and decimate everything in your path in your never-ending lust to devour the living! With 10 figures per bag, featuring an assortment of different dynamic sculpts in two nightmarish colors, The Walking Dead Zombie Army Men are ready to rip, tear and chew their way into your toy collection. Purchase as many sets as you like!

The Walking Dead Zombie Army Men

Ronda Rousey becomes the first woman in the UFC!

Well, this is exciting! The UFC, the owner of which said less than two years ago that it would never include women, now does! Ronda Rousey will be taking her vicious armbar to the UFC in 2013. But she won't be left without an opponent -- rival Meisha Tate has also signed on, and possibly Sara McCann and Cris Cyborg.

This is a big deal for a kickass lady. Rousey is not just a Strikeforce champion, she's also an Olympic athlete, having been the youngest judo competitor in the 2004 games. Since that global debut, she has become the tenth ranked female MMA fighter in the world. The world.

Now, my question is this: Now that the UFC includes both genders, when will we get to see bouts in New York?

Photo credit: Ronda Rousey Official Site

Ronda Rousey Reportedly Becomes UFC's First Female Fighter [Bleacher Report]

New York considering taking cues from The Walking Dead, may open up prison to displaced Staten Islanders

As you can imagine, the situation here in New York is dire, what with the still-large amount of people who have yet to even get their power back. But Staten Island (and the Rockaways, and Long Beach, most of the south shore, not to mention Red Hook, parts of New Jersey... you get the idea) was hit particularly hard, with entire houses being destroyed. According to Gothamist, 5,200 residents of the borough have filed for FEMA housing, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering one location specifically designed to provide a large amount of people (about 900) heat, food, and temporary shelter: Arthur Kill Correctional Facility. Yup. A prison. That's been shut down for about a year. Sound familiar? Like the plot of the third season of The Walking Dead? Living in an abandoned prison makes sense, of course -- for all the same reasons it made sense as an option during a fictional zombie apocalypse. Wow, things are that bad? Some of those thousands of displaced residents might say it is. But it's just an idea at the moment. (via Gothamist) Jamie

Fossil hunting on Rockaway Beach

The ocean has not always met the land at the same place it does today. In fact, during Ice Ages, when more of Earth's water was trapped in glaciers, large swaths of what is now the Atlantic Ocean were dry ground. Things died there. In some cases, they fossilized. And when a big storm like Sandy hits, those bits of fossils can get broken out of the stones they're embedded in and washed up on our modern shores.

In this video, paleontologist Carl Mehling wanders Long Island's Rockaway Beach looking for fossils unearthed by Superstorm Sandy. It's a great video — and a handy "how to" as Mehling explains the basics of beach-based fossil hunting and how to tell the really old dead things from the simply dead things.

Via Mindy Weisberger

You, too, can be a guinea pig for pot

Sometimes, it's hard to find people interested in playing the role of guinea pig for the sake of science. And, sometimes, that job is not so hard. Like when what you want the guinea pigs to do is get real high. That's a good example.

Pot-based research isn't all fun and games. Given the interest in medical marijuana for cancer patients and people with AIDS, some of the studies require volunteers to, you know, have cancer or AIDS. Others are interested in the sociology — these scientists want to talk to you about your pot use and collect data about how it may or may not have affected your life.

But the mythical opportunity to "get high for science" really does exist, writes Brian Palmer at Slate.

The National Institutes of Health maintains an online database of clinical trials that are in the recruitment process. As of this writing, there are approximately 100 marijuana studies currently enrolling patients. Each listing contains inclusion criteria (the types of people the researchers are looking for) and exclusion criteria (characteristics that will remove otherwise qualified people from contention).

... there are a few trials that might interest someone looking for a free high. Consider the University of Iowa’s “Effects of Inhaled Cannabis on Driving Performance.” Participants will be dosed with varying amounts of alcohol or vaporized cannabis, then placed into a driving simulator to measure their performance. There are some restrictions. You must be a social drinker and marijuana user already, but you can’t have an addiction. People who are susceptible to motion sickness are out, and you must live near the driving simulator in Iowa. Keep in mind that getting into the study doesn’t guarantee free marijuana—two control groups will get no THC whatsoever. (Previous studies have shown that low doses of marijuana have little to no impact on driving performance.)

Read more at Slate.com

Image: Getting your head above the parapet..., a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from kevenlaw's photostream

Disney Nostalgia: old Disney Parks postcards


Colin sez,

I'm going to Disney next month and (as is my way) have become obsessed with diving back into Disney World nostalgia. My plan for this trip is to buy vintage postcards for attractions that no longer exist and send them to my friends and family either lauding how much I enjoyed them or expressing my confusion for not having been able to find them... I'm still deciding which.

Long story short, it lead me to discover old cards sent years ago that have been scanned and posted online. I've began archiving these moments of happiness on my new blog, The Disney Nostalgia Trip. Many of these cards are the usual vacation banter about weather and sunburns, some offer heartwarming insights into what makes (or made, depending on your opinion) these parks such magical places. My favorite of all is the one that inspired me to start the blog.

The Disney Nostalgia Trip (Thanks, Colin!)