Japan's "Weird Hotel," staffed by robots, in a Japanese theme-park

The Henn Na Hotel ("weird hotel") is staffed by robots: the Japanese-speaking check-in clerk is a vicious robot dinosaur, while the English-speaking one is humanoid; a robot arm stores and retrieves personal items from the guest lockers, and a chatbot serves as concierge. Read the rest

What's the difference between a CEO and a president?

Christopher Brown is a gonzo cyberpunk writer who delves into the real-world story of Saddam Hussein's Frank Frazetta collection, but by day he's a high-powered lawyer who's worked in government and the private sector (it's the intersection of these two Browns that penned his outstanding, forthcoming debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, which you should pre-order right now). Read the rest

In defense of left-wing space utopias

Brianna Rennix wants to know why the major current in "space utopianism" is right wing -- Elon Musk floating a "creepy private colony on Mars for ultra-rich survivalists who can shell out $200,000 for their spot" and punched Nazi Richard Spencer bloviating, "We weren’t put on this earth to be nice to minorities, or to be a multiculti fun nation. Why are we not exploring Jupiter at this moment? Why are we trying to equalize black and white test scores? I think our destiny is in the stars. Why aren’t we trying for the stars?" Read the rest

Uber uses its in-app podcasts to broadcast anti-union messages to drivers

The City of Seattle says it will let Uber drivers form a union, and Uber has retaliated by producing a series of anti-union audio programs that it is pushing to Uber drivers' apps, where the programs light up a non-dismissable alert asking the drivers to listen to the program. Read the rest

San Franciscans: see Peter S. Beagle & Effie Seiberg at this Saturday's SF in SF

Coming to the American Bookbinders Museum this Saturday: Last Unicorn author Peter S Beagle and up-and-coming prolific short story writer Effie Seiberg, in conversation with Terry Bisson: tickets are $10, bring cash for the bar and the bookseller! Read the rest

Historically accurate leggings based on medieval armor

Lorica is a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign that started with the promise of making leggings inspired by medieval armor, with rigorous and accurate depictions -- now that the campaign has reached its stretch goals, it has grown to incorporate a range of armor-inspired clothes. Read the rest

Games and other online communities are societies, owed a duty of care by their owners

Raph Koster is one of the world's most celebrated game designers, responsible for the design of Ultima Online, CCO of Sony during the Star Wars Galaxies era, and author of the classic Theory of Fun. Ever year, Raph gives a barn-raising/barn-burning speech at the Game Developer's Conference, one of the don't-miss moments of the conference. This year's speech is no exception. Read the rest

Mormon church uses bogus copyright claims in attempt to censor Mormonleaks

Mormonleaks is a whistleblower site dedicated to revealing corruption and hypocrisy in the Church of Latter Day Saints; over four months, it has published many documents that did just that, but when it published a leaked Powerpoint revealing the Church's view on "the roots of apostasy, such as pornography, campaigns to ordain women, challenges to church history and general 'lack of righteousness,'" the Church turned to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a bogus claim of copyright infringement to get the document taken down. Read the rest

Before filing cabinets, we had the coolest desks

The "rotary desk" went out of style with the advent of filing cabinets, but in their heyday, they were marvels of rotating cabinetry, tiny clever drawers and cubbies, and roll-down secretary tops. Read the rest

The exploration and expansion of gender: the 2016 Tiptree Awards for fantasy and science fiction

The 2016 winners of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award have been announced, top honors went to When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, with further honors going to some of my favorite books of 2016: Seanan McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway, Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning, and Charlie Jane Anders' All the Birds in the Sky. Read the rest

Soviet Vocal-Instrumental Ensembles: the lost, terrible pop of the USSR

In order to fight the incursion of decadent western pop, the Kremlin encouraged the creation of Vocal-Instrumental Ensembles (VIAs) that performed some genuinely, delightfully awful music, stuff that puts the trololo guy to shame. Read the rest

Washington Post and Jigsaw launch a collaborative pop-up dictionary of security jargon

Information security's biggest obstacle isn't the mere insecurity of so many of our tools and services: it's the widespread lack of general knowledge about fundamental security concepts, which allows scammers to trick people into turning off or ignoring security red flags. Read the rest

Punched Nazi loses tax-exempt status

The National Policy Institute is Richard Spencer's white nationalist group, registered with the IRS as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which can receive tax-free contributions from donors. Read the rest

Decoding trumpism: "Who are you going to believe: me, or your lying ears?"

More satire that is indistinguishable from reality: Paul Bibeau, writing as Trump, says, "Making a phony Donald Trump say or do things that might embarrass our movement and stop us from making America great again… That wouldn’t be hard at all." Read the rest

Fearing border harassment, Girl Guides of Canada cancel all trips to Trump's America

The Girl Guides of Canada -- Canada's largest organisation for girls and women -- have a long tradition of visiting other scouts in the USA, to the benefit of both American and Canadian scouts, but that's come to an end, because Canada's Girl Guides are worried that Muslim girls, brown girls, and girls whose families come from countries singled out for discrimination by the Trump regime will face discrimination at the border. Read the rest

As usual, Vi Hart's annual Pi Day video is the best way to ring in 3/14

Vi Hart (previously) is the fast-talking, doodling, hyper-charming mathematical vlogger whose Pi Day videos are consistently the best of the season, even when she's pooping on Pi, she always manages to fascinate and delight. Read the rest

Stumped by Trump: the Onion struggles to lampoon a buffoon

Trump has been an unwelcome godsend to some political parodists, but for The Onion, Trump's self-parodying nature is more hurdle than boon. Read the rest

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