Stephen Bannon fooled Trump into signing executive order that gave him national security role

Here's an interesting suspicion: Trump is only marginally literate, and hates reading so much he deals with even complex correspondence by talking it out and trusting that whatever is put in from of him at the conclusion is an accurate reflection of the discussion. This strategy has come into contact with one Stephen K. Bannon, and Bannon has already done well by it.

President Trump was reportedly not fully briefed on the executive order he signed that allowed his chief strategist Steve Bannon a seat at the meetings of the country’s top national security efforts. ...Trump was frustrated over the executive order and reportedly demanded to be looped in on the executive orders earlier in the drafting process. According to the Times, Trump demanded that his chief of staff Reince Priebus to come up with a fundamental approach to executive orders.

This came from the New York Times, which inexplicably buried the news deep inside a rambling story about White House messaging strategy.

... But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.

Which is to say that two weeks into the administration, there is already a striking instance of Bannon exercising power over Trump, implying serious questions about whether the latter has the intelligence and focus to resist being exploited by him and anyone else who can put something under his nose. Read the rest

10 hours of ambient noise from an "icebreaker in the frozen arctic"

Imagine the horror of being trapped in a hostile landscape surrounded by snowflakes that were once objects of amusement but now form a blizzard of menacing proportions. Then smile because you're not a fascist, and are merely stuck on a polar icebreaking vessel for 10 hours.

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Mad Max Trilogy soundtrack on vinyl

With track titles such as "Max Decides On Vengeance" and "Max Enters the Compound," the first two Mad Max soundtracks embody the movies' stark and ironic dystopia. Disc 3, of course, has "We Don't Need Another Hero." I have embedded the instrumental version here as a taster of the forthcoming vinyl set, with Brian May, Maurice Jarre and Tina together at last.

For the first time ever, the original Mad Max trilogy of soundtracks have been combined into a stellar deluxe package designed by Marvel comic artist Tim Bradstreet (The Punisher, Blade). The outside three panels consist of all new original artwork while the inner panels display minis of the original jackets and the tracklisting. The color of the vinyl is Gray, Sand and Black respectively in keeping with the central colors of the new art panels. No more than 2000 units will be made and the trilogy will not be duplicated in another package.

It's up for preorders at $70 and will ship in April. I wonder: why doesn't it include Mad Max 4?

Mad Max Trilogy [3 LP] Soundtrack [Amazon] Read the rest

British railway guard kicks racist off train

Alexander MacKinnon thought it would be "my word against hers" after he directed racial abuse at Sanaa Shahid on a train out of London—the sneering solicitor said she shouldn't be in the country, let alone first class. Unfortunately for him, he was overheard.

The train guard then approached MacKinnon and told him: "It's not just your word against hers, it's mine as well because I heard it all."

The guard added: "We're not going to accept it. You're drunk and racist and you need to get off the train."

Writing on her Twitter page, Mrs Shahid said she could not speak highly enough of the train manager who helped her and her son.

She added: "Sat with us until the guy was taken off by [British Transport Police]".

He was fined £1,154, plus £50 compensation to Shahif.

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Boston Dynamics introduces "nightmare-inducing" robot

Today in Onionesque quotes, that's one from presenter Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics. [via MeFi]

Here's another:

"It's still a little slower than a human. but we're working on getting it to go faster and faster. And better."

Work at a warehouse or dock? Not for much longer. Read the rest

Ikea Börder Wåll

Der Postillon reports that Ikea now offers an affordable flatpack solution for any wannabe autocrats looking to shave a few dollars off their $25bn whitey elephants.

The simple, Scandinavian designed border wall (with a 5 year guarantee) is primarily made of pressboard with a birch effect and can be assembled with the help of a hex key. A 12,000 page instruction manual with easy-to-understand pictures makes construction child’s play – as long as there is not a single screw missing.

“However, assembly requires two people: one person can hold the wall while the second screws it together”, it states in IKEA’s offer.

The problem is, of course, that it looks great when you put it together the first time, but one move and it turns into a a pile of rickety MDF. Previously. Read the rest

Sir, I'm afraid you've had enough

Enjoy this vertical video of a dog insisting that its master not have another glass of wine. Read the rest

Behold the horrors of Future CNN

On Twitter, @FutureCNN provides glimpses into the grim future of Trump's america, as depicted as inane CNN roundtables and wry chyron operators.

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Neil Gorsuch, Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, was founder of "Fascism Forever Club" at his prep school

Who among us can say they didn't found Fascism Forever clubs in an age when totalitarian autocracy was an impossible dream? It's a joke, see, about what's needed to resist a world ruined by liberals. Laugh already, would you!

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Trump mocks Arnold Schwarzenegger's TV ratings; Arnold suggests they swap jobs

A normal morning in Trump's America: the President of the United States turns the National Prayer Breakfast into a platform for one of his inane grudges against another celebrity, then gets owned by that celebrity on Twitter.

“Hey Donald, I have a great idea: Why don’t we switch jobs?” Schwarzenegger suggested in a video posted to Twitter. “You take over TV because you’re such an expert in ratings, and I take over your job, so then people can finally sleep comfortably again.”

Schwarzenegger’s message was in response to Trump saying that when he ran for president “they hired a big, big movie star” to take his place on “The Apprentice.”

Here's Trump's remark:

Here's Arnie's response:

Funny to think that this is orchestrated if not scripted, another siren calling sleepwalkers to the water, that the screen you're looking at right now is the sea of glass that John the Apostle saw in his nightmares, an immortal parody of human empathy to embrace until the missiles fly and the final gasping panic sets in and here's a compilation video of kittens getting brain-freeze after eating ice cream.

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AP: In call with Mexican president, Trump threatened invasion. White House says it didn't happen.

The Associated Press reports that Donald Trump "threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop 'bad hombres down there' unless the Mexican military does more to control them itself."

The excerpt of the call did not make clear who exactly Trump considered "bad hombres," — drug cartels, immigrants, or both — or the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's response.

... "You have a bunch of bad hombres down there," Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt seen by the AP. "You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it."

A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided an excerpt to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.

Andrew Beatty reports that the White House denies it.

Every day is another alarm joining the cacophony, with no way to tell which is real and which is just noise.

Update: CNN reports that it has been provided with a transcript that differs with the "readout" provided to the AP, which "wrongly suggested Trump was contemplating sending troops to the border in a hostile way."

According to an excerpt of the transcript of the call with Peña Nieto provided to CNN, Trump said, "You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with.

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Florida man shot cat that "looked at him like he owned the place"

Orlando News 6 reports that a Florida man shot a cat that shat in his yard, telling officers it "looked at him like he owned the place". The cat was paralyzed and had to be killed, reports Loren Korn.

"It was just a poor judgment call," the man, who declined to share his name, said of his decision to shoot. He said he didn't know it was someone's pet but admitted to shooting at cats before, never hitting one.

"It was not my intention to hurt that cat. All I wanted to do was get it out in front of my walkway, stop pooping. For the flies and the smell is just horrendous," he said

The man said he has several health issues and is on disability. He hopes to be only punished with a fine instead of a felony, fearing he might lose his income if charged.

"I'll be homeless. Might be a death sentence for accidentally shooting some cat," he said.

Isn't "fantasizing about being the real victim" the center square on Florida Man Bingo? Read the rest

Arrival's Denis Villeneuve to direct Dune remake

Hot off filming Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life to great acclaim and Blade Runner II, Denis Villeneuve is tackling the great white whale of screen science-fiction: Dune. Brian Herbert, son of author Frank Herbert, tweeted the news last night.

Bleeding Cool News:

Back in late November, we’d reported on Legendary having secured the rights to the Dune series of novels from the Frank Herbert estate. The deal gives Legendary the option for both film and television rights worldwide. Brian’s tweet implies that Villeneuve will be attached to the film project, and we’ll keep an eye out for any news on around the TV front. It seems that studios are looking to go wider than a single format lately, with Lionsgate developing the Kingkiller Chronicles simultaneously for both TV and Film.

Dune was filmed twice, once as a stunning but mangled David Lynch epic and later as a low-budget TV miniseries. Fans have been eager for years to see the 1965 classic in theaters again, but various projects over the years have failed to enter production.

The story's complexity sank the 1982 version, but its incredible production design made it a cult favorite. Star Kyle McLachlan explains the plot succinctly in a tweet:

For once I insist this single novel be turned into a screen trilogy. Read the rest

Civilization ported to 8-bit Commodore 64

Civilization was one of the classic games of the 16-bit age, when computers with speedy processors and hundreds of kilobytes of RAM made it possible to model and memorize complex, culture-bound simulations of human history. Twenty years on, though, it's been ported back to a humble 8-bit system that predated it by years. The genius behind the conversion is Fabian Hertel, and it's not just a mockup: a fully playable demo is available to enjoy. 8-bit Civ runs on Commodore 64 and, while reduced in scope, features cities, units, AI opponents, scientific advances and wonders of the world.

8 Bit Civilizations (working title) has understandably been reduced in scope from the original PC and Amiga versions. For example you can play against a maximum of 3 AI opponents (or 2 if barbarians are enabled), and the world map is not as large. However even in its current state, the game is every bit as fun as the original, and even includes some innovative new features. Such as you may chose the gender of your nation's leader, so if you choose to play the English nation, you be Henry VIII as well as Elizabeth I.

The game board is played from an isometric perspective, a feature which wasn't added in the original line of games until Civilization II (1996).

It clearly doesn't shy much from the game's complexity. Check out the traditionally numbing endgame going on in the screenshot below! Read the rest

Three-legged white fox escapes petting zoo, is found

Thor, a three-legged fox, escaped from Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom in England and was free for some time before being tracked down.

"He was tracked down to a wood yesterday and last night he was caught in a trap left out for him," writes Andy Giddings of BBC Shropshire. "The wildlife centre says he 'seems very relieved to be back home'."

Four-year-old Thor went wandering after a branch fell on his enclosure. Thor managed to stay hidden long enough to generate deep concern among staff.

"He must have jumped about 8ft on to the branch, which was pretty floppy. So that is still a hell of a jump," he said.

There have been three sightings of Thor, an Arctic-silver fox cross, but staff are still searching for him.

"I am surprised there have not been more sightings of a three-legged fox who must be looking for food," Mr Dorrell said.

The Shropshire Star reported that he traveled five miles from Hoo Farm, near Telford.

Edward Dorrell, partner at Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom, said: "It's true we've located him, we haven't caught him yet but.

"He's very happy and very well and we hand-fed him this morning.

"We've got a house holder who's being very cooperative.

"It's a rural area and there's only one small road nearby, but there's woodland so as soon as he's had enough he might wander off into the woodland.

They recaptured him shortly thereafter.

Photo: Tracy Elliot via BBC.

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Mad hamster performs backflips

"Crazy Back Flipping Hamster keeps backflipping for no reason while the other hamsters just watch," reads the description on the YouTube video. If anything, though, the other hamsters appear to me to remain completely indifferent to their co-hamster's acrobatics. Read the rest

Draw your own nebula

Jonas Wagner's Neon Flames is a dead-simple web tool to create beautiful nebulae on-screen. There are eight colorful gases to choose from, and the longer you click, the larger your celestial flame. Be sure to check out Wagner's other experiments, such as Javascript filmstock emulation and 1-bit image dithering that puts Photoshop and even old Macs to shame.

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