Surprise: making your own coins is a dangerous pain in the ass

After talking about how it takes a whack of skilled experts to make the stuff most of us take for granted, Andy from How to Make Everything comes to the conclusion that minting your own currency is a dangerous resource-intense pain in the ass. Read the rest

12 year olds write a book on making afterschool mischief

Storyboard Pandemonium writes, "I am twelve years old. Me and a friend who I met at an afterschool program wrote this book to help people deal with unfair rules, beat boredom, protest in a respectful way, and make the best out of afterschool." Read the rest

Procedurally generated maps of medieval cities, suitable for RPGs

The Medieval Fantasy City Generator; fill in a few options and press go, and voila! I have no idea how plausible these are, but they're MUCH better than anything I ever came up with as a Dungeon Master. Read the rest

Thanks to a Chinese and Korean fad, California's wild succulents are being poached and smuggled to Asia

Succulents are key to stabilizing the fragile coastal ecosystems of California; they're also extremely popular in China and South Korea, thanks to a fad that's sweeping Asia. Read the rest

The sheriffs who cheered Trump's attack on the press have long histories of shady dealings, revealed by the press

Last week, Trump invited a collection to sheriffs to the White House for a rousing speech about the evils of the free press, exactly the kind of thing the leader of a democracy does all the time, and the sheriffs gave him a standing ovation, because that's exactly the kind of thing you'd want fairminded law-enforcement agents to do in a democracy. Read the rest

Good news: California ends cash bail! Bad news: It's been replaced with a black-box algorithm.

Cash bail has turned American jails into debtors' prisons, where the wealthy can go about their business while awaiting trial, and the poor can languish for months or even years in jail because they can't make bail (in practice, they generally plead guilty, regardless of their innocence). Read the rest

Bruce Sterling's VR, Objective Reality, lets you live life as an inert, resentful appliance

Objective Reality is a new VR installation from automato.farm, written by Bruce Sterling, in which you "play" one of a variety of inanimate objects: a rotating fan, a roaming Roomba, the electricity sparking from one outlet to the next; each object has an associated VR helmet that makes you look like your head is a giant appliance. Read the rest

Trump wants to kill the International Criminal Court to protect US war criminals from prosecution for Afghan crimes

Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton on how the administration views the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes are prosecuted: "We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us." Bolton's goal? Ensuring "that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans" who are accused of war crimes in Afghanistan. (Image: OSeveno, CC-BY-SA) (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Big Tech is losing the public's trust in just the same way that Big Finance has

Writing in the New York Times, Nathaniel Popper notes a new current running through our discourse: the idea that Big Tech is not to be trusted, and should be broken up. Read the rest

Movies to watch: "The Last Movie Star" starring Burt Reynolds

R.I.P. Burt Reynolds. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching his film The Last Movie Star, directed by Adam Rifkin. In this film, Reynolds portrays an aging movie star who is the guest of honor at a film festival where his successes, failures and personal demons are ever present and a reminder of the way he has lived his life. Read the rest

Migrant parents are refusing to be reunited with their kids, citing safety concerns

According to the ACLU, the nightmare perpetuated against immigrants and refugees attempting to find safe harbor in the United States has taken a new, unexpected turn for the worse: the parents, separated from their children as part of the Trump administration's drive to make migration into the United States as miserable as possible, are refusing to be reunited with their children. The reason is absolutely heartbreaking:

From Reuters:

Immigrant parents separated from their children by the Trump administration and returned to their homes are refusing to be reunited with their children because their countries are so dangerous, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told a court on Friday.

Gelernt said parents who refused to be reunited tended to have older children who could be recruited by violent gangs if they returned home. In addition, some children have relatives in the United States and are unlikely to end up in foster care.

The ACLU contacted parents in Central America of 162 children and said 109 refused reunification, according to a court filing.

According to Reuters, Gelernt recently spent time in Guatamala attempting to help parents separated from their kids by U.S. Immigration officials to reunite their families. Of the 300 parents that Gelernt spoke to, roughly two-thirds preferred to let their kids take their chances in the United States where they'd have a greater expectation of safety and prosperity.

I'm not a parent, so I can't even begin to imagine the sort of painful parental devotion it would take to leave a child behind, in the name of keeping them safe, in a country that despises me enough to have torn my family apart rather than providing them with refuge from harm. Read the rest

Rudy Rucker's latest steampunk novel: "Return to the Hollow Earth," a voyage starring Santa Cruz hippies and Edgar Allan Poe

Rudy Rucker writes, "'Return to the Hollow Earth' is my new steampunk novel of the Hollow Earth." Read the rest

That time Outdoor Channel, Maria Butina, & NRA tried to launch a 'non-political' Vladimir Putin TV show

“Putin’s Russia,” as ABC News reports today, would have featured the Russian President hunting, fishing, and generally being a very macho man outdoors. Read the rest

Samsung 128GB MicroSD for $29

Samsung's 128 GB MicroSD is on sale now for $29 (Amazon). It's a convenient way to backup/transfer important files like your music, video, and photo libraries. Or, you can use it as the hard drive for your Raspberry Pi computer. Read the rest

Newly completed Ramones song, S.L.U.G., released ahead of Road to Ruin reissue

I was so thrilled to discover this last night. Ahead of the forthcoming release of the remastered, expanded edition of the Ramones' iconic 1978 album, Road to Ruin, KEXP premiered a "fully-realized" version of S.L.U.G., a rare Ramones track that previous only appeared in demo and bootleg form.

Rhino Records is preparing to release a new deluxe edition of the Queens, New York outfit’s landmark fourth album Road To Ruin on Sept. 21, featuring a remastered version of the original album, a new stereo mix, and a disc of newly unearthed recordings – primarily outtakes and alternate versions of the classic tracklist. Fans will be particularly excited about two two previously unreleased tracks “S.L.U.G.” and “I Walk Out.” Fans can now stream the former below ahead of the deluxe edition release.

Savvy Ramones die-hards will be quick to point out that a demo of “S.L.U.G.” previously appeared on a 2001 expanded edition of Rocket to Russia as well as the Weird Tales of the Ramones compilation (and some bootlegs), but the version we’re hearing today is the first time we’re hearing a fully-realized version of the long lost track.

[H/t Ryan Zellman] Read the rest

Two more planes full of sick people land in the United States bringing the zombie apocalypse one step closer

You may have heard that an Emirates flight EK 203 was quarantined by the Center for Disease Control at John F. Kennedy Airport immediately after landing earlier this week. At first, it was crazy town: ABC news reported that 100 people on the flight were sick with fevers and uncontrollable coughing. Vanilla Ice was on board! But as the CDC and the NYPD began to get a handle on what was going on, things felt a little less scary. Only 10 people in total--maybe--were sick. Only 11 of the 100 sick individuals were taken to the hospital. More than half of the passengers were found to be healthy. Those who were healthy enough to forgo medical attention were released to go about their lives, provided they reported any worsening systems to the CDC. Also, Vanilla Ice is just fine. According to the CDC, all signs point to the illness being a flu.

Knowing this doesn't make me feel any better about the fact that two more planes landing in the United States were placed under heavy scrutiny by health officials.

From The Verge:

Both of today’s flights were on American Airlines: one from Munich and another from Paris. They landed at Philadelphia International Airport with about a dozen people in total on board who felt sick, according to a statement from the airport. That in itself is not that unusual because of the dry air and the prevalence of cat dander on planes, Allen Parmet, an aerospace medicine expert, told The Verge in an interview yesterday: “It’s actually pretty common to have somebody coughing in a plane.”

But to be safe, “all passengers on the two flights — totaling about 250 plus crew — were held for a medical review and the CDC was notified,” the Philadelphia International Airport said in a statement.

Read the rest

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina will remain in jail, U.S. judge rules

A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the accused Russian military operative Maria Butina must remain in jail, saying she poses a “very real risk of flight,” and also granted the government prosecutors' request for a gag order in the high-stakes case. Read the rest

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