Gendered verbs charted over 100,000 stories

Data scientist David Robinson tracked the proximity of verbs to gender across 100,000 stories. She screams, cries and rejects. He kidnaps, rescues and beats.

I think this paints a somewhat dark picture of gender roles within typical story plots. Women are more likely to be in the role of victims- “she screams”, “she cries”, or “she pleads.” Men tend to be the aggressor: “he kidnaps” or “he beats”. Not all male-oriented terms are negative- many, like “he saves”/”he rescues” are distinctly positive- but almost all are active rather than receptive.

The chart on which types of violence are associated with men and women is predictable stuff: poison from the ladies, beatings from the gentlemen.

It follows on from Julia Silge's look at gender roles and text mining. See also an attempt to do likewise with plot arcs. Read the rest

Translator upset after unintended KKK reference removed from English version of Japanese game

Making English versions of foreign-language games is a complex process requiring cultural sensitivity and originality. In contrast to literary translation, it involves audio, visual arts, and careful technical edits as well as the words. When a localizer working on Japanese title Akiba Beat was displeased by one edit, he cried foul and demanded to be removed from the project's credits.

The "egregious change," as Tom Lipschultz called it...

...had to do with a parody of the Japanese light switch company NKK Switches. A sign in the original Japanese version of the game read “KKK witches,” a play on the phrase. He wrote on XSEED’s forum, “I personally felt ‘KKK witches’ was pretty funny for its shock value, but when I mentioned it to my coworkers, they... were not as amused.” ... he says his priority is retaining as much of Akiba’s Beat’s original meaning as possible.

When informed what "KKK" means to Americans, though, the Japanese creators were mortified and “immediately responded that they had no idea the sign could be taken that way in English,” and asked that it not be included in the English release. Lipschultz, however, doesn't think it's right to make the change.

Lipschultz knows that the removal of “KKK witches” from Akiba’s Beat is “insignificant,” and truly, one might wonder whether this is really the place to take such a stand. But, he says, his dramatic gesture was inspired by the well-trod Evelyn Beatrice Hall quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Lipschultz thinks it's censorship, in other words, and is "taking a stand." But maybe, just maybe, the game's original creators had never meant for racial-themed shitposting to be in their game. Read the rest

EU court rules against seller of "preconfigured for piracy" media boxes

An EU court ruled against a seller of customized set-top boxes this week, with the judge saying that his preinstallation of certain Kodi Add-Ons makes the boxes illegal to offer.

Mr Wullems sells, over the internet, various models of a multimedia player under the name ‘filmspeler’. That device acts as a medium between a source of audiovisual data and a television screen. On that player, Mr Wullems installed an open source software that enabled files to be played through a user-friendly interface, via structured menus. In addition, integrated into the player were add-ons available on the internet whose function is to retrieve the desired content from streaming websites and make it start playing, on a simple click, on the multimedia player connected to a television. Some of those internet sites give access to digital content with the consent of the right holders, whilst others give access without their consent. According to the advertising, the multimedia player made it possible, in particular, to watch on a television screen, easily and for free, audiovisual material available on the internet without the consent of the copyright holders

It might seem a 'technical' outcome: it's still fine to sell boxes with open streaming software, the end-user just has to set up arrmatey.plugin their own damned selves. But "Who, whom?" is always important. Read the rest

Few sad as About.com closure announced

When long-lived websites close down, they often give little notice, sending archivists scrambling to rescue its work for posterity. About.com, the venerable topic-mining hive abruptly put to death, seems to be a counter-example: a faceless mountain of bland, undifferentiated, half-plagiarized content that no-one seems sad to see vanish. Its own CEO—who once spoke contemptuously of it before being convinced to take the job—has a plan to make something new and interesting out of the remains.

"I got a phone call from Joey Levin, who is the CEO of IAC. He asked, 'What do you think of About.com?'" Vogel said during a recent interview with Business Insider. "My answer — in perfect arrogance — was 'I don't.' Who thinks of About.com? Nobody."

Levin persuaded him to come in for a job interview anyway, and Vogel walked out convinced he could help turn the company around. Now he is CEO of About.com, and to save it he's trying something that sounds crazy.

He’s shutting down the entire website in early May. In its place, he's launching a half-dozen new sites.

"This is either going to work and be a great success or we're going to crash the plane as we're flying it and this is going to be a horrible failure," Vogel says he told IAC.

About.com was one of the earliest big web successes to cash out: to Prime Media in 2000 for $690m, then to the New York Times in 2005 for $410m, IAC in 2012 for $300m, and now to the deep void—but also the hope that the staff and infrastructure can be used to make something better. Read the rest

84-year-old sharpshooting grandma

Chandro Tomar, 84, lives in Uttar Pradesh. After picking up a gun in her sixties, Tomar became of India's best shots, winning many competitions and teaching countless women to shoot straight. Read the rest

Three terrible tech trends

Freddy deBoer writes that he's been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley's only product, which might be universalized as "At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!" But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will now occupy their interest.

First is infecting everything with DRM so it's controlled by the manufacturer and limited to their ecosystem. Second is charging rent for being in it and using algorithms to maximize it. Third is marketing workaholic poverty to the young as a way of life.

We Love Doers So Much We Want to Give Them a Hellish Existence of Endless Precarity

The basic idea here is that 40 years of stagnant wages, the decline of unions, the death of middle class blue collar jobs, the demise of pensions, and a general slide of the American working world into a PTSD-inducing horror show of limitless vulnerability has been too easy on workers. I’m sorry, Doers, or whatever the fuck. The true beauty of these ads is that they are all predicated on mythologizing the very workers who their service is intended to immisserate. Sorry about your medical debt; here’s a photo of a model who we paid in “exposure” over ad copy written by an intern who we paid in college credit that cost $3,000 a credit hour. Enjoy. The purpose of these companies is to take whatever tiny sense of social responsibility businesses might still feel to give people stable jobs and destroy it, replacing whatever remains of the permanent, salaried, benefit-enjoying workforce with an army of desperate freelancers who will never go to bed feeling secure in their financial future for their entire lives.

Read the rest

Review / Smurfs: The Lost Village

Smurfs: The Lost Village is wonderfully animated, the first good transposition of Peyo's 20th-century cartooning to 21st-century moviemaking. Moreover, it directly tackles the worst things about Smurfs—their creator's banal misogyny—in an effort to make of them a vehicle for progressive values rather than product placement. It has everything going for it.

Sadly, it's not much good. Read the rest

Firefighter rescues suicidal woman

Wait for it. Read the rest

Imagine you work by paying $425 for artificially mud-stained jeans

Nordstrom's is selling artificially mud-stained jeans that look like they've just gotten in from a few hours' laboring in the yard. The $425 mud isn't mud: it's paint.

Details & Care

Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that's seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you're not afraid to get down and dirty.

Previously: Clear plastic jeans Read the rest

Internet-of-things water bottle will inform you of your drinking habits

AquaGenie is "the world's smartest water bottle," a $70 internet-of-things device that "knows your water goals" and will connect to the Internet to inform you if you have met them.

AquaGenie is your daily companion that keeps you on track and fully hydrated, helping you achieve all your health, wellness, fitness and weight loss goals! Attractive, durable, easy to wash and easy to use, your AquaGenie tracks your consumption, reports it to most fitness apps, and goes with you everywhere.

The AquaGenie bottle knows your daily water goal and how much you've had to drink. To keep you on track, when it sees you're behind, a glowing ring at the base of the bottle lights up to remind you to take a sip. It's that simple!

To recharge, just place it on its stand for an hour and you’re good to go for a week! No wires, no batteries to change, no need to set it still to take a measurement.

Unlike your current water bottle, it's wireless! Ah, but I snark. And in the wake of the Juicero "$500 bag-squeezing machine" fiasco, that's too easy. Beyond the naked consumerism, there's something deeply weird about the idea of smart gadgets. They tell us what we experience. Here, for example, is a machine that reminds you when and when not to be thirsty. You pick it up and ask it: am I thirsty?

Somewhere behind the gadget is a less human machine that doesn't know us but needs us to do things for it, and which has a lot of stories to tell to help us on our way. Read the rest

Night sky time lapses, but with the ground spinning instead of the stars

If you vomit, do be considerate and try not to let it land on the moon. [via Metafilter] Read the rest

Key to surviving movie gunfight is to not be in a movie

In Would You Survive a Movie Gunfight?, Shea Serrano offers a thorough look at the form and function of movie gunfights and what it takes to get through one alive.

The Best Times to Movie-Shoot Someone • When it’s a revenge thing. • When you’re a law-enforcement officer and they’re a bad guy. • When you’re a bad guy and they’re a law-enforcement officer. • When it’s the Wild West and someone is riding toward you on horseback. (This one is great because they always roll off the back of the horse, or, if you’re lucky, they get their foot trapped in one of the stirrups and then the horse drags ’em a good ways.) • When they’re standing on top of a building and you shoot them and they fall off very dramatically. (They have to crash through an awning.)

I have so many problems with Serrano's top list of movie gunfights, but I'm busy finishing up a nice piece about the shortcomings of Smurfs 3: The Lost Village as revolutionary praxis. Read the rest

Video of a lamb fetus in an artificial womb

Fetal lambs survived for weeks in an experimental artificial womb, and scientists hope that the breakthrough could lead to new treatments for premature babies and perhaps the dreamed-of machine utopia where humans are kept mindlessly writhing in translucent plastic sheaths filled with psuedoamniotic liquid.

Physicians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia placed fetal lambs into the transparent bags and connected their umbilical cords to a machine that oxygenated their blood. The lambs own hearts provided the pumping power.

Eight lambs survived for as long as four weeks inside the devices. The gestational age of the animals was equivalent to a human fetus of 22 or 23 weeks, about the earliest a human baby can be born and expected to survive outside the womb. A full-term baby is born at 40 weeks.

Read the rest

Clear plastic jeans

UK retailer TopShop is selling clear plastic jeans. They're $100 and come waist sizes from 24 to 34.

Think outside the box with these out-of-the-ordinary clear plastic jeans – guaranteed to get people talking. In a straight leg cut, they feature classic pockets detailing and are cropped at the ankle bone. Ideal as a statement piece for a festival or costume party, take the look to the extreme with a bikini and sequin jacket or dress down, layered under an oversized jumper or asymmetric hem dress. 100% Polyurethane. Machine wash.

Read the rest

What the Terminator says instead of "Hasta La Vista, baby" in the Spanish version of Terminator 2

In the Japanese version, he says "Cheerio then, love." Read the rest

On the "fakeness" of nature documentaries

Few are scandalized by the BBC adding sound effects to documentary footage, as it's somewhat obvious and the intent is to bring the viewer to a truth that might otherwise be obscured. A lot of other storytelling magic is at hand, though, not all of it so ostentatious. Simon Cade illustrates some of the techniques, among which editing is among the most powerful. Read the rest

30% keyboard is tiny, adorable, weird, and "very cramped"

Attention mechanical keyboard aficionados! If 40% mechanical keyboards are just too bulky for you, try a 30% one such as the Gherkin, which includes the characters of the alphabet and four arrow keys, which are chorded in various ways to reach capital letters, numbers, function keys and so forth. If 30% mechanical keyboards are just too bulky for you, try a Gherkin with the switches as close together as they will go.

Typing on this is weird. It feels very cramped, it may be different with a different style keycap. I will try a set of cut down DSA keycaps which has more space between the keys. It is much better than the microswitches on the Flanck.

I like the idea of small, just-get-writing mechanical keyboards, but can't get to grips with these minuscule grid-layout ones. Here is the layout I'd like to use, which I call the "Cormac" because you don't get to quote anyone and you sure as hell don't get to ask questions of the place where you stand and see for a brief moment the absolute truth of the cold relentless implacable darkness.

Read the rest

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