The Mad Max cars look just as fantastic before the dirt

Photographer John Platt took these astonishing shots of the picture cars from Mad Max: Fury Road. Even out of their dusty element, they look absolutely menacing. Read the rest

The 3 Rules of Living Animation

Why does Who Framed Roger Rabbit seem so much more integrated with live action and animation than anything before it? "Bumping the lamp," slang that YouTuber kaptainkristian says originated from the film for animators who go above and beyond expectations. Read the rest

UK Parliament to hold inquiry into algorithmic transparency

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee put out a public call for suggestions on subjects it should investigate and one of the three winning pitches came from Stephanie Mathisen, campaigns and policy officer at Sense about Science, who suggested an inquiry into transparency in algorithmic decision-making. Read the rest

The US Patent Office just (in 2017!) awarded IBM a patent over out-of-office email

On January 17, 2017 -- yes, 2017 -- the USPTO granted Patent 9,547,842 to IBM: "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system." Read the rest

Watch a little appetizer for the upcoming Alien: Covenant

If you're excited about the upcoming Alien: Covenant, perhaps this little tidbit will tide you over till the main course: Prologue: Last Supper. Read the rest

70% of the benefits of Trump's childcare credits will go to households earning $100K and up

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has run the numbers on Trump's childcare credit proposals and concluded that it is a massive gift to the richest American households, with little-to-no benefit for the poorest Americans who struggle most with childcare costs. Read the rest

Trump tells America's attorneys general that Jews might be desecrating their own cemeteries to make him look bad

After a wave of anti-semitic attacks swept America, Donald Trump convened a meeting of state Attorneys General, and repeated a conspiracy theory posted hours before to a neo-Nazi website that suggested that Jews had perpetrated the attacks as a false-flag operation to make the Trump administration look bad. Read the rest

US border guards can't believe Nigerian man is a software engineer, google "questions to ask a software engineer" and give him a pop quiz

Celestine Omin is a Nigerian software engineer who works for Andela, a technology company backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded to give talented African coders an entree into the leading American tech firms; this week, he flew to the USA on a B1/B2 visa to meet with the company, but he found himself detained at the border. Read the rest

Snap is developing drone for users to share overhead videos and photos: NYT report

One of the products that Snapchat owner Snap Inc. is developing as “a modern-day camera company” is a drone, reports the New York Times today.

Sources for this bold claim are “three people briefed on the project who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.”

The drone would help users take videos and photographs from overhead, then share that visual data with Snap, and presumably, other users of the service.

Snap is scheduled to go public later this week in a long-anticipated IPO. Read the rest

Uber CEO snaps at driver complaining of pay rates, later vows to 'grow up,' get 'leadership help'

After Bloomberg News published a video of Travis Kalanick being a total dick to an Uber driver who complained about how poorly Uber drivers are paid, the Uber CEO and co-founder issued a sorry-ish, apology-ish public statement.

Read the rest

Trump threatens to publicly release private data of immigrants and foreign visitors, ACLU responds

President Trump wants to dox all the brown people.

Read the rest

Xenomorph tiki mugs

Mondo Tees has announced a line of Aliens xenomorph tiki mugs, ("in space, no one can hear you drink"), available for pre-order now with ship dates this summer (some glazes only available at Alamo Drafthouses). Read the rest

Update: The Future of HOME

Here's a brief audio update on the immediate future of HOME: Stories From L.A. The TL;DR version is, I'm slowing down the production schedule to make the project more sustainable over the long term. Give a listen for a little more background on the hows and whys of it all. The show returns this spring for Season 5, and in the meantime, the archive is a great way to load up your podcatcher. (Oh, also: I'm looking for a social media/publicity ninja; if that's you, drop me a line.)

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If you're already a subscriber, many thanks. And if you have a minute to leave the show a short review at the iTunes Store it'd be much appreciated.  Read the rest

New secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross has ties to illicit Russian finance

Billionaire Wilbur Ross, 79, was sworn in today as secretary of commerce. According to DC Report, Ross' "role as Vice Chair and a leading investor in the Bank of Cyprus, the largest bank in Cyprus, one of the key offshore havens for illicit Russian finance," makes him a poor choice for this position. But the Senate voted 72-27 to confirm him anyway.

Ross’ involvement in the Bank of Cyprus raises many questions about his judgment, but also about the Trump Administration’s seemingly endless direct and indirect connections with friends and associates of Vladimir Putin, who all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies say conspired to interfere in the November 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Donald Trump.

Whether or not these connections involve any criminality, these are the kind of relationships that most American business people would not tolerate for 30 seconds.

After all, as discussed below, since the 1990s Cyprus has served as one the top three offshore destinations for Russian and former Soviet Union flight capital, most of it motivated by tax dodging, kleptocracy, and money laundering. As of 2013, just before the banking crisis, Russian deposits accounted for at least a third of all bank deposits in Cyprus. As one leading newspaper put it, “Russian money is in fact at the heart of the island’s economy.”

The Bank of Cyprus caters to the island nation’s large Russian population. Nor is Ross’ Bank of Cyprus in particular – now probably at least half owned by Russians, as we‘ll see -- any stranger to money laundering, tax dodging, or odious finance.

Read the rest

Best boxer briefs: Calvin Klein

My wife started giving me Calvin Klein boxer briefs for gifts a while ago, and now they are my favorite. No weird tags or seams to irritate my tender skin, and the elastic doesn't wear out and create the droopy drawers effect. Amazon has a sale on a 2-pack for $17. Read the rest

Inside the Cup Noodles museum

In Yokohama, Japan, there is a museum dedicated to Cup Noodles (カップヌードル), the iconic brand of instant ramen created in 1971 by Momofuku Ando. Just looking at photos of the place jacked up my sodium levels. From Sam Graham's trip report in Juxtapoz:

In Japan, there is a museum for everything: parasites, toto toilets and... ramen. We chose the latter and visited the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama to explore the art and history behind this cheap and convenient meal. This included a life-sized silver sculpture of Nissin founder Momofuku Ando, numerous artistic interpretations on the Cup Noodles theme, and of course the historic wall of ramen through the years.

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Live: Spewing eruption of Mount Etna in Italy

Here's a live video of fiery Mount Etna, on the east coast of Sicily, Italy. The tallest and most active volcano in Europe erupted Monday night, and its pulsing, spewing flames are stunning - and hypnotic. Who needs a lava lamp when you've got the real thing? Read the rest

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