On Reddit, OmerRAnderson explains how to remove people from a photo. The idea is to put a camera on tripod and take several pictures every ten seconds or so over the course of a few minutes or more. Then open Photoshop and go to File Scripts Statistics, and select "median." This operation will remove the things that don't appear in every photo, leaving only the things that didn't move. Read the rest
Fox News invited bullshitting fraudster Wayne Simmons to appear on its "news" programs over 100 times posing as a CIA operative. Based on his hawkish proclamations, the Pentagon hired Simmons as a shill analyst to propagandize for them. Now that Simmons has been exposed, arrested, and charged with with multiple counts of fraud, he will never appear on Fox News again, but the lies he told on the network will forever be regarded as gospel truth by fear-addicted Fox TV viewers.
From Rolling Stone:
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Simmons claimed to have spent 27 years with the CIA, but Paul Nathanson, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, said in a court filing that Simmons "never had any association whatsoever with the CIA." (The CIA declined to comment – as a rule, it never confirms or denies agents – but said it is "working closely with the Justice Department on this matter.") Instead, prosecutors say Simmons spent those 27 years doing just about everything else: He ran a limousine service, a gambling operation and an AIDS-testing clinic; worked for a hot-tub business, a carpeting company and a nightclub; and briefly played defensive back for the New Orleans Saints. Along the way, he accrued criminal convictions, including multiple DUIs, plus charges for weapons possession and assault, and an arrest for attacking a cabdriver in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2007. "Fuck you, you can't do shit to me – do you know who I am?" Simmons told a cop, according to a police report, before insisting that he was CIA, and that the cabbie, who was Pakistani, had a bomb.
Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen and a Conservative member of the House of Lords, reflects on Richard Dawkins' groundbreaking book about evolution, The Selfish Gene, which was published 30 years ago.
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The origin of The Selfish Gene is intriguing. Dawkins revealed in the first volume of his memoirs, An Appetite for Wonder, that the idea of selfish genes was born ten years before the book was published. In 1966, the Dutch biologist Niko Tinbergen asked Dawkins, then a research assistant with a new doctorate in animal behaviour, to give some lectures in his stead. Inspired by Hamilton, Dawkins wrote in his notes (reproduced in An Appetite for Wonder): “Genes are in a sense immortal. They pass through the generations, reshuffling themselves each time they pass from parent to offspring ... Natural selection will favour those genes which build themselves a body which is most likely to succeed in handing down safely to the next generation a large number of replicas of those genes ... our basic expectation on the basis of the orthodox, neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is that Genes will be 'selfish'.”
Dawkins began writing the book in 1973, and resumed it in 1975 while on sabbatical. At the suggestion of Desmond Morris, the zoologist and author of The Naked Ape (Jonathan Cape, 1967), Dawkins showed some draft chapters to Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape, who strongly urged that the title be changed to "The Immortal Gene." Today, Dawkins regrets not taking the advice.
Josh Jones of Open Culture says, "Of all the archives I’ve surveyed, used in my own research, and presented to Open Culture readers, none has seemed to me vaster than Europeana Collections, a portal of '48,796,394 artworks, artefacts, books, videos and sounds from across Europe,' sourced from well over 100 institutions such as The European Library, Europhoto, the National Library of Finland, University College Dublin, Museo Galileo, and many, many more, including contributions from the public at large."
Image: Museu Nacional D'Art De Catalunya CC BY-NC-ND Read the rest
Mr. Homegrown shows how to make a cat scratching post from some rope and lumber. He writes, 'I’m so satisfied with the results that I’m thinking about creating a integrated cat scratcher/USB charging station/cat perch using a twisty tree branch. I know, that sounds like a bad idea, but as Marshall McLuhan once said, “If you don’t like that idea I’ve got others.'" Read the rest
Four production assistants are suing Paramount because they say the studio did not pay them minimum wage, forced them to work "round-the-clock," and didn't provide a toilet during the shooting of big budget movies like Wolf of Wall Street, so they had to use bottles instead.
From Los Angeles Times:
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The workers acted as parking production assistants to keep filming sites clear of pedestrians and cars, and to protect the production vehicles and equipment on set, according to the suit.
Paramount and the other defendants paid the workers $140 to $160 for each 12-hour shift, the suit says. However, the plaintiffs routinely worked 60 to 100 hours a week without receiving overtime compensation, according to the complaint.
If you're a cop in Oregon, I guess the way to get promoted is to rear end your unmarked patrol car into a motorcycle and then violently kick the nonresistant rider with enough force to break his collarbone. It'll cost taxpayers $180,000 to settle the lawsuit against you, but that not your problem! Read the rest
The trend of making schools "safe places" to protect students from feeling uncomfortable is a bad idea, says Teller, the silent member of the magic comedy duo Penn and Teller, and a former schoolteacher. Here's a snip from an essay in The Atlantic:
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And if Shakespeare (or Catullus or Vergil) makes students uncomfortable? That’s a good thing, Teller said. Learning, like magic, should make people uncomfortable, because neither are passive acts. Elaborating on the analogy, he continued, “Magic doesn’t wash over you like a gentle, reassuring lullaby. In magic, what you see comes into conflict with what you know, and that discomfort creates a kind of energy and a spark that is extremely exciting. That level of participation that magic brings from you by making you uncomfortable is a very good thing.”
As we were on the subject of discomfort I asked Teller what he thinks of schools’ efforts to protect students from discomfort as they learn through censoring teachers’ content and requirements for trigger warnings. For the first time in our conversation, Teller illustrated the power of his trademark silence, and the line went quiet.
Just as I’d begun to think we’d been disconnected, he replied,
“When I go outside at night and look up at the stars, the feeling that I get is not comfort. The feeling that I get is a kind of delicious discomfort at knowing that there is so much out there that I do not understand and the joy in recognizing that there is enormous mystery, which is not a comfortable thing.
Nightflight has a great article about the weird and wonderful cult exploitation 70s movie, Pretty Maids All in a Row, with a screenplay by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry!
I also like the opening song by the Osmand Brothers, called "Chilly Winds." Read the rest
Pretty Maids would end up being Roddenberry’s first — and only — feature film writing credit during his impressive and long career. He transformed the problematic first draft of Pollini’s original story completely, deepening the dark comedy (it’s pretty black, actually) and softcore semi-misogynistic erotica of the original story — about a high school guidance counselor and football coach who sleeps with a lot of his foxy female students and then murders some of them (the ones who fall in love with him, and ask him to leave his wife, and daughter) — and turning the story into a whodunit that one writer later described as “an episode of ‘Kojak’ written by the staff of Penthouse Forum.“
John Edgar Park picked up some great stuff at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago, and took photos. He gave me one of the pencils!
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The Eagle #314 “Chemi-Sealed” DRAUGHTING pencils are excellent, highly coveted pencils among illustrators. This style was made from 1950-1980. More info here.
Drew Magary's The Postmortal, a dystopian novel about what happens to the world when someone discovers the cure for aging and almost everyone takes it, was one of my favorite books of 2011 and I still think about it. Here's my review, and here's my podcast interview with Magary.
Magary has a new novel coming out called The Hike. The publisher gave us an exclusive on the cover reveal, and it's a beaut. The illustration is by Will Sweeney, and design and art direction is by Paul Buckley
The Hike is coming out in August.
I asked Drew to share a few words about the book and here's what he said:
Here's the publisher's description:
Okay, here’s the deal: It’s been five years since the publication of my first novel, The Postmortal. I started a couple of other novels only to have them stall in the middle, which is deeply annoying. And then, about a year ago, I went to give this speech in East Stroudsburg, PA, in the Poconos. I decided to go out for a hike before the speech, and that little hike, along with my affinity for old King’s Quest PC games and folk tale collections from Ruth Manning-Sanders is what ended up inspiring this novel and the bitchin’ cover you see here. I can’t tell you any more than that right now, or it’ll kill me.
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When Ben, a suburban family man, takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania, he decides to spend the afternoon before his dinner meeting on a short hike.
"In 1988, high school senior Ted Cruz reflected on his life's ambitions while attending Second Baptist School in Houston, TX. Now, he is a Republican Senator running for the office of the President of the United States of America."
He's on his way to getting everything he asked for!