Charity roast trainwreck: Donald Trump booed at Catholic dinner


At the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation white-tie event in New York last night, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sat within groping distance of one another—and delivered speeches for a largely-Catholic audience. A traditional and restrained roasting of oneself and one's opponent, the dinner speeches mark the final public event where the two will tangle before election day. And, as you may already have predicted, Donald Trump managed to get himself booed at a charity dinner.

Here's the Washington Post's cut of the best moments:

He joked about the size of his hands and the size of his rival Hillary Clinton's rally crowds, then compared himself to Jesus. ...

“Hillary is so corrupt, she got kicked off the Watergate Commission,” Trump said, citing a false Internet rumor as the crowd turned on him and started to boo, something that simply doesn't happen at lavish charity dinners at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The face of one the guests sitting on the stage behind him was suddenly struck with horror.

“Hillary believes that it's vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private,” Trump said, as the booing intensified.

Trump would go on to accuse Clinton of “pretending not to hate Catholics” and mock the Clinton Foundation's work in Haiti. At one point, he wondered aloud if the crowd was booing him or Clinton, to which someone in the crowd answered: “You!”

He screwed it up because he could not restrain his spite toward his opponent, had little for himself, and wasn't very funny. Read the rest

Nintendo announces new hybrid portable game console


Nintendo's Switch is a touchscreen tablet with removable physical controls that turn it into a traditional handheld game console. It comes with a chunky dock to hook it up to a TV set for high-definition couch action; also announced is a traditional wireless gamepad to match the squared-off dark gray design: it's what disassembles to become the tablet's own controls.

Introducing Nintendo Switch! In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.

Switches use cartridges instead of discs: suggestively retro, especially in the promise of instant-on gaming, but also reflective of the general decline of optical media in favor of flash and high-bandwidth internet connections.

The promo video depicts intriguing social game cultures that don't yet exist—think kids toting their no-nonsense, easy-to-use Switches around to the pub and competitive event alike. For me it lit up dormant arcade-era neurons that Sony and Microsoft (and Apple, for that matter) never get close to.

It's out in March. Read the rest

The tiniest touchscreen "phone" of them all


VPhone is a wee "phone", surely the most wee of them all. It has a 1.54-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, FM radio, pedometer, 128MB (megabytes!) of storage, a heart rate monitor, some social network-monitoring apps, and a choice of "simple and stylish" black or silver trim. The radio's quad-band GSM, so if you can get your hands on one it should work on T-Mobile and ATT in the US.

Yes, there's also a 3.5mm phone jack. The Verge's Ashley Carman:

Some of you might read these stats and think they’re sad. I kind of agree, but I just really love how little this phone is, so it cancels out depressing spec reality. ... The S8 appears to only be available in China, so we, once again, will have to keep dreaming. I’m trying, everyone! I think if we dream hard enough we can force these cool phones to appear in front of us. Will it.

Agreed! It's a curious device that seems more a chunky call-enabled smartwatch than a fully-featured mobile--and the English is a bit ropey on the product page, so it's not really clear if it can make voice calls without a BT connection to another device. Carman points to this 2.45"-screened crapgadget as the smallest bona-fide smartphone on offer; the ancient Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, despite its age, is probably a better bet in the 2.5"-ish range. Read the rest

Explore the galaxy in 3D with data from the Gaia satellite


Gaia is an interactive 3D map of the galaxy, coded by Charley Hoey and sourced from the eponymous mapping satellite's data: click, drag and scroll/pinch to change the viewpoint. It took a long time to load even on my desktop PC, but the results speak overwhelmingly for themselves.

The Gaia satellite by the European Space Agency is currently orbiting 1.5 million kilometers beyond the moon, twirling through the heavens and dutifully marking down the positions of every point of light it sees. I've processed the program's first batch of data to determine the 3D position of about 2 million stars. Click and drag to orbit, or scroll/pinch to zoom in and out, zoom all the way in to see our sun, just one star among millions. WebVR enabled!

Hoey explains in "torrenting the galaxy" what it took to model two million stars in the browser. Here's an official ESA image made from the same dataset; as beautiful as it is, the enormity of the data it represents seems absent.

Read the rest

Dog sounds like a Tie Fighter


Beagle mix Geraldine visits the vet. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any information about this wonderful dog or her career as a foley artist at ILM. Read the rest

Mario theme performed with trumpet and handgun


Charlie Cook performs cover versions of songs with a gunslinging twist. Read the rest

The King of the Hill intro reanimated as pixel art

pixel art hank hill

Mauri Helme made a pixel art "cover version" of the King of the Hill intro, and it's incredible: perfectly faithful to the original, yet completely translated to a different medium.

Here's the original, by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels: Read the rest

Magic use in Harry Potter novels charted


Skyler Johnson created an interactive infographic that charts the use of magic in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. The spells are organized by count or time, with instances color-coded by the book they appear in. Hover over each use and you even get the quote, for context! [via Tor and Metafilter]

Emily Asher-Perrin writes:

Perhaps not surprisingly, the spells that we see used most often are commonly used by Harry and his friends as means of non-violent resistance; Expecto Patronum; Expelliarmus; Stupefy. The Killing Curse appears sixth down on the list, which is fascinating–it is technically speaking the “most evil” of all the dark magic spells, and it is the most often used.
Read the rest

Smalltown mayor resigns after bigoted Facebook posts


Charles Wasko, as mayor of West York, PA, had a bad Facebook habit, issuing a string of racist and sexist postings that finally cost him his job. He regrets nothing, reports the BBC: "The racist stuff, yeah. I'll admit I did that, and I don't care what people label me as." Read the rest

There's already a "Nasty Woman" t-shirt you can buy


At the third presidential debate last night, Donald Trump indicated he will refuse to accept the election results, ranted about ninth-month abortions, and generally went full conspiracy-theorist. But the punchline to his freakshow performance was muttering "she's such a nasty woman" as Clinton talked of raising taxes on the richest Americans. Read the rest

Will Clinton "Finish Him" at third debate?


Millionaire Republican Donald Trump isn't just on the ropes: he's practically upside-down and tangled up in them, trailing his opponent by huge margins and seemingly finished in the race to become the next president of the United States of America. But Hillary Clinton is an infamously weak closer, leading to amusements like this New Yorker cartoon... ... which reminds us that the older Millennials are nearing 40 and have New Yorker subscriptions.

All the "what to expect from the third debate" articles--which I had intended to aggregate here--are surprisingly bland, given the sheer insanity of the campaign and its increasingly deranged closing weeks. I guess this is because everyone acknowledges that there is such a huge difference in expectations between the two candidates that it's not really a "debate" at all. If Trump manages to get through it without sniffing or frotting his chair, he's done OK. If Hillary umms and ahhs too much, she's missed an opportunity to crush the bug. No-one--not pundits, not journalists, not viewers--expects anything of substance to be said. It is all about the performance, about the hope that one of them will lose it and do something entertaining.

Trump's invited president Barack Obama's half-brother as his guest, a choice so inexplicable it suggests a return to Birtherism amid rumors Trump's been ditched by advisor Roger Ailes and simply has no idea what to do. Hillary's invited the least awful billionaire she can think of, just to remind Trump that he isn't one.

All that said, it's going to be the most-watched third debate ever. Read the rest

Apple: more than 90% of "official" accessories on Amazon are fake (UPDATE: Amazon response)


In a trademark infringement case filed against Mobile Star LLC, which it claims is a prolific counterfeiter, Apple says that more than 90% of the "official" gadgets sold in its name at Amazon are fake. [via]

Moreover, they're mostly garbage, and potentially dangerous.

Consumers, relying on's reputation, have no reason to suspect the power products they purchased from are anything but genuine. This is particularly true where, as here, the products are sold directly "by" as genuine Apple products using Apple's own product marketing images. Consumers are likewise unaware that the counterfeit Apple products that sourced from Mobile Star have not been safety certified or properly constructed, lack adequate insulation and/or have inadequate spacing between low voltage and high voltage circuits, and pose a significant risk of overheating, fire, and electrical shock. Indeed, consumer reviews of counterfeit Apple power adapters purchased from and from the above ASIN report that the counterfeit products overheat, smolder, and in some cases catch fire:

Amazon seems to have gone well shady lately—something's got to give. Lukewarm take: the vast majority of users will think the fakes are genuine even with the media fuss over it, Apple's reputation is what gets quietly burned at the weekend barbecues of America, and Amazon is monolithically indifferent to counterfeiting. Apple might then consider the unquantifiable value of not charging $29 for Lightning cables.

UPDATE: Amazon spokesperson Aaron Toso responds:

“Amazon has zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeits on our site.
Read the rest

Skittles trick turns plate into a rainbow


Simple DIY rainbow magic with Skittles candies. Form a circle with Skittles on a plate (colours should be in repeated order, preferably according to colours of the rainbow e.g. purple, green, yellow, orange, red), then pour hot water over them. Wait for the magic to unfold right in front of your eyes

Also funny are the various YouTubers attempting to replicate the effect only to end up with a brownish mix of melted candy slime on their plate. Read the rest

Trump's chances of winning sink to 8% amid Republican fears Clinton may take Texas


The New York Times' presidential forecast has millionaire Republican Donald Trump at his lowest ebb of the campaign, with only an 8 percent chance of winning the Nov. 8 general election.

A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible: Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 31-yard field goal.

The analysis corresponds closely with that of FiveThirtyEight, though it gives Trump a little more space with a 12 percent chance (as of Wednesday Oct. 19)

The situation is so dire, with only three weeks to go, that polls are finding the candidates within the margin of in Texas, a Republican stronghold where a Clinton victory would represent a spectacular obliteration of the party's ticket. seems utterly unlikely that Clinton could actually win Texas. Though the state's large Latino population, combined with where Trump has led the GOP with his rhetoric about Mexicans and policy on immigration, could soon make winning Texas a real possibility for Democrats.

There are other reliable Republican states where the Clinton campaign is investing more seriously, which is a sign of where the race stands. Clinton is positioned to win the White House if she gets just the battleground states that are already leaning to the Democrats. Her campaign says it's putting the "lion's share" of resources in traditional battleground states like Ohio and North Carolina, which remain toss-ups. But they also have the luxury of being able to invest in some states that traditionally go to Republicans.

Read the rest

Watch a guy clear an 11' bar on a pogo stick

pogo sticl

According to Biff Hutchison's description, this 11'½" breaks the Guinness World Record of 10'6". Rolling Stone has more.

Not happy with sharing the title with [friend and rival Dalton] Smith – who we can only imagine Hutchison considers his greatest rival in the world, the Bird to his Magic in the world of pogoing – Hutchison saw a shot at not just being the lone jumper standing atop Pogo Mountain (as problematic as being on top of a mountain on a pogo stick sounds), but absolutely crushing the old record.

Here's some more extreme pogo: Read the rest

Ship returns hail


Honk honk! Read the rest

This version of Queen's We Will Rock You is best


Here's a version of We Will Rock You that actually rocks instead of sounding like a stadium full of drunk teenagers. It's from a 1970s BBC session, according to the liner notes. Right on! Read the rest

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