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Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com  

J.K. Rowling delivers fabulous smackdown to Westboro Baptist Church

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After the Irish voted in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage, the Harry Potter author gleefully posted a "Dumbledore/Gandalf" slash meme with the text "now they can get married in Ireland!", replete with rainbow and clover emojis galore. The funeral-picketing proprietors of GodHatesFags.com took exception to this, promising to turn up to any such thing and ruin it.

J.K. had fast replies: both for the church…

… and for the ever-present criers of "don't feed the trolls."

Brief history of the wristwatch

2305FF_watch01_PR[7][1] The ladies' fashion novelty became popular among British soldiers during the Boer War, recounts Uri Friedmen, a practice that spread during World War I.

Duck lanes painted on canal paths

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The Canal & River Trust painted the markings on towpaths in London, and other large cities, to remind us we share the space with nature: "It just wouldn’t be possible to paint lanes on the towpath for all our different visitors," an organizer told Quartz, "so we thought the ducks could have one instead."

Read the rest

SkyMall rises from grave

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Recently put to brand-pasture by bankruptcy, legendary airline retailer SkyMall is already back in action.

The Atlantic reports on the rapid resurrection.

It turns out, though, that we shouldn't have skipped over the “denial” part of things so quickly. Because SkyMall was not dead—not then, and, fortunately for consumers, not now. SkyMall would not go gently. #BringBackSkyMall, the brand's Twitter feed hashtagged its tweets—a stream of which have been steadily flowing, news of the bankruptcy notwithstanding, since January.

Last night, its triumphal return was sealed in a tweet marketing something described as "#hipster dog bed"

The brand necrophilia comes courtesy of "C&A Marketing, a New Jersey-based distributor and retailer that specializes in brand revamps" which paid $1.9m a few weeks ago for the company's remains. If you've bought something from the undead brands "Polaroid" or "Ritz Camera" lately, well, same folks.

A quick litmus test, of how good these guys are at marketing, fails hilariously:

polaroid

Update: C&A Marketing writes in:

HI Rob

I read your article about SkyMall, and I just wanted to correct one thing that you have wrong toward the bottom. The image you show is actually Fuji cameras, not Polaroid cameras and has nothing to do with C&A Marketing. They are manufactured and sold by Fuji. Many people get them confused with Polaroid cameras.

Yes, indeed they do.

Baltimore's police brutality is just the beginning

Matt Taibbi writes that the recent blow-up is about much more than the killing of Freddie Gray. Beyond that murder, there is a complex legal infrastructure that encourages — and covers up — police violence.
Most Americans have never experienced this kind of policing. They haven't had to stare down the barrel of a service revolver drawn for no reason at a routine stop. They haven't had their wife and kids put on an ice-cold sidewalk curb while cops ran their license plate. They haven't ever been told to get the fuck back in their car right now, been accused of having too prominent a "bulge," had their dog shot and their kids handcuffed near its body during a wrong-door raid, watched their seven-year-old dragged to jail for sitting on a dirt bike, or dealt with any of a thousand other positively crazy things nonwhite America has come to expect from an interaction with law enforcement. "It's everywhere," says Christen Brown, who as a 24-year-old city parks employee was allegedly roughed up and arrested just for filming police in a parking lot. "You can be somewhere minding your business and they will find their best way to fuck with you, point blank. It's blatant disrespect."

Photo: A demonstrator raises his arms as he faces law enforcement officers near Baltimore Police Department Western District during a protest against the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, in Baltimore April 25, 2015. Thousands of people marched peacefully through downtown Baltimore on Saturday to protest the unexplained death of the 25-year-old black man in police custody but pockets of violence erupted when a small group smashed windows and threw bottles at officers. REUTERS/Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Donald Trump's hair may be worth $1000. Or $0, maybe.

trump Hopes and Fears summoned experts from across the globe to evaluate the mysterious champagne thatch perched atop the real estate and bullshit mogul's eminent pate.

"His best-selling books at auction recently went unsold," said Tim Luke, Master personal property appraiser for Treasure Quest Group, Inc. "I would think his hair would do a little better."

His appraisal was for "<$1000." The other experts polled suggested $100, and $0, despite (or perhaps because) "a lock plucked from a full head of hair [is] magical and priceless."

Trump has explained that the hair is not an elaborate toupée.

Do I comb it forward? No, I don't comb it forward." He pushes the leading edge of the flying wing of his hair back, to show where the hairline is. "I actually don't have a bad hairline. When you think about it, it's not bad. I mean, I get a lot of credit for comb-overs. But it's not really a comb-over. It's sort of a little bit forward and back. I've combed it the same way for years. Same thing, every time.

Next: Donald Trump: the poor little rich boy

Seal slept in driveway, car wash

A seal has taken to wandering a New Zealand suburb, then crashing just wherever. Today it was found sleeping at a local car wash by employees turning up for the morning shift—and it wasn't the creature's first unusual stop-off point.

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Laura Walters and Paul Eastern report that the seal was, for the second day, herded into a cage and released on a nearby beach. 1432620815844

It woke up around midday, and waved a flipper at the crowd of about 50 people who were watching. The increased activity prompted Doc staff to move people further away from the lost mammal.Uwash owner Kirit Makan said the seal was the most unusual customer he had encountered at his carwash. … DOC ranger Stefan Sebregts said the seal was the same male that was found wandering on a Papakura street on Monday.

It was likely he came ashore because he was sick of the stormy weather and needed a rest, Sebregts said.

Yesterday, the Papakura seal's first adventure ended in a the occupation of a local's driveway, after a day spent alarming and enchanting passers-by. The New Zealand Herald's Anna Leask reports on efforts to herd the seal back to safety.

When Danny Yong woke up this morning and found his house surrounded by police and firefighters - he naturally panicked.

"I thought I'd got myself into trouble somehow. Then my flatmates went outside and saw a seal in the driveway," he said.

Unbeknown to Mr Yong, the now-named Papakura Seal had settled into his Coles Cres driveway and was in no hurry to move.

Animal experts constructed a special enclosure to manage the seal, then coaxed it into the nearby estuary.

Here's a photo taken by Katrina Ward of the seal totally just hanging out at the park.

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In this anonymously-posted photo, the seal is seen surprising motorists. seal_620x311

@KiwiSlytherin spotted the seal taking a nap on a riverbank near a local college.

There is already a twitter parody account, naturally.

"Hopefully will just jump back in and swim home," one emergency services source told reporters.

Recode joins Vox Media

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Recode, the tech news site founded last year by former WSJ journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, is being sold to Vox Media in an all-stock deal.

This is the next big step in our mission to bring you quality tech journalism, because our work will now be amplified and enhanced by Vox Media’s deep and broad skill set. … Re/code will benefit from joining Vox Media by integrating Vox Media’s various capabilities — including marketing, communications, audience development, sales and production. We will also eventually migrate to Vox Media’s beautiful, powerful and flexible proprietary publishing platform, which will give us new ways to present our stories to you.

Growth is the watchword, but it's startling that access to a different content management system is worthy of mention. WordPress just isn't working for publishers, it seems. The Verge, Vox's sprawling gadgets/tech/entertainment hub, will tighten its focus to make way.

Verge Editor Nilay Patel:

…along the way, we made a big decision: The Verge is not a business site. The Verge is for people interested in understanding the exciting and bewildering everyday changes of the future. It's for all of us trying to figure out how we should live and act and behave in this enchanting new world of screens. It's for people wondering what to spend their money on — and for people thinking about how spending that money affects everyone else around them. It's for knowing about trends and ideas across technology and culture first. It's about art and science coming together to spark one of the fastest eras of change in history. The Verge is for understanding life on the cutting edge.

I like The Verge and I like Recode and think it'll work out nicely.

The Beschissen Curve

beschizzen-beschizza With respect to the finding that cheap wine is as good as expensive wine, I respectfully submit that free wine is better than any other wine.

Cheap wine rated as good as expensive wine

Vox demonstrates that expensive wine isn't preferred by drinkers until they are "trained" to like it. The distribution of gold medals in competitions is not only close to random, but one study found that professional judges often can't tell what they're drinking. Moreover, they tend to favor expensive-tagged tipples, even when intentionally spiked to taste worse. [via Digg]

On the other hand, the narrator's quip about 5x as expensive not being 5x as good— hilarious, every time!—vaguely reflects a desire that matters of taste can still be measured in some objective way.

In that vein, see the legendary and fully objective "Beschissen Curve" which explains, scientifically, how good the wine is, and which I totally didn't just make up.

UK cop jailed for beating activist

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Andrew Ott's job was to record evidence that student protestors in Parliament Square were violent, but his clever plan—physically attacking them!—has earned him 8 months in prison.

Read the rest

Game of Thrones' creepy cult was inspired by Catholic reformers, says G.R.R. Martin

highsparrow

The current season of Game of Thrones saw the rise of a powerful sect in King's Landing, led by a down-to-Earth but ruthless leader bent on imposing religious law on Westeros's corrupt aristocracy.

Read the rest

Charter to buy Time Warner Cable

asdfasgs Charter Communications plans to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $78.7bn deal. The acquisition follows an earlier attempt by Comcast to buy TWC, a plan foiled by regulators worried about lack of competition in the market for high-speed internet.

The combined company will be the second-largest U.S. cable operator and the largest in Southern California. It will be the third-largest pay TV company in the U.S. behind Comcast and the planned AT&T-DirecTV. It would be the biggest player in such major markets as New York and L.A. Overall, the combined cable company would have 23.9 million total subscribers in 41 markets, compared with Comcast’s roughly 27 million customer relations as of the end of the first quarter.

Tl;dr together they will account for 34 percent of the US cable market, and still not be as big as that beast, Comcast, with 42 percent.

Bloomberg "to announce" it has more traffic than the Wall Street Journal—but BI is thrashing everyone

traffic-yahooBut on the business news beat, they're all behind Business Insider, Forbes, and Yahoo Finance, "as defined by comScore". Yahoo is sinking, though (As is AOL Money)—it lost nearly a third of its traffic in a year, "as defined by comScore." Another winner, though, seems to be CNNMoney, ignored in the report.

Brits and Turks happiest Europeans, according to map on Internet

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According to a map doing the rounds, two regions stand out where more than half the locals consider themselves happy: a broad swathe across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England, and the central uplands of Turkey.

Smaller outposts of joy also show up the low countries, Sweden, Switzerland and western Turkey.

The map, whose provenance and sourcing is unclear (in a thread at Reddit, one poster suggests the World Values Survey), sees happiness drain as one heads into heavily urbanized areas and the east. London and Paris stand out as slightly less happy than the surrounding arcadian western countryside. Russia is an empire of misery.

Lithuanians and Hungarians report the grimmest lives of all, with less than 5 percent happy.

The map's data ends at 2008, though—before the great recession—and more recent polls suggest that Lithuanians are now at least happier than folk in other baltic states, and that the Swiss are at least as pleased with life as Brits and Turks.

Man blames park wank on cannabis

belfastwank

A man arrested after masturbating in a public park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, told the court that he had gotten the idea after smoking marijuana.

Vojtech Kralik, 23, of the Czech Republic, was in court facing magistrates on a charge of indecent behavior. According to the police who collared him, he admitted what he had done during interviews, the Belfast Telegraph reports: "He stated that he had smoked cannabis earlier and simply acted on the idea when it came into his head," said one officer.

After his lawyer confirmed that he was not contesting the allegation, Kralik was released on bail pending a pre-sentencing report.