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Woman who fell off cruise ship treaded water for 10 hours before being rescued

Kay Longstaff said she sang songs to stay awake while floating and treading water 60 miles off the coast of Croatia. The 46-year-old British woman says she fell from the deck of Norwegian Star cruise ship on Saturday night. She was rescued 10 hours later by the Croatian coast guard. On Facebook, a Norwegian crew member wrote that Longstaff had "jumped" and had been "arguing with her fella the whole time."

Image: Pjotr Mahhonin/Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported) Read the rest

Fantastic thematic wall displays for your gaming miniatures

On Game Terrain Engineering, Jim Kelly posted this great tutorial on building a wall-mounted display for your lovingly-painted fantasy miniatures collection. The display, while looking quite elaborate and substantial, is little more than a cheap wooden picture frame, some foam board, and lots of time and hot glue. The Archdevil Moloch statue in the middle was 3D printed. That is, of course, optional.

Months ago, well-known dungeon crafter, DM Scotty, posted some similar wall displays on Facebook that used a printed image on their back walls (relevant to the theme of the minis on display) and simpler shelving. Scotty's might be an overall better solution for displaying your minis in a less busy but still thematic way. Jim admits that the lighting/viewability of some of the miniatures on his dungeon-themed display is not the best. He’s considering adding LED lighting.

I am definitely going to build some of these displays. With all of the time I’m putting into painting minis these days, I don’t want to hide my hard work away in cases when it could be enjoyed by others. I think this is a really fun way to do it. I can’t wait to plan out and create thematic frame-displays for my Frostgrave, Gaslands, Blood Bowl, and All Quiet on the Martian Front minis. For displaying years of collected Warhammer 40,000 armies? We’re going to need a bigger boat.

BTW: The latest D&D game book, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, includes the exiled Archdevil Moloch in its bestiary, with great artwork, background, and stat block. Read the rest

HUD accuses Facebook of Fair Housing Act violations

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a complaint [PDF] against Facebook on Friday. HUD accuses the social media company of violating the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in print and online advertisements on the basis of race, religion, physical ability, gender, and other attributes. Read the rest

Feds ask court to force Facebook to break Messenger's end-to-end voice encryption for MS-13 gang probe

In secret court proceedings, the U.S. government is trying to force Facebook to help wiretap Messenger. Facebook has declined, so the Justice Department is asking a judge for an order of contempt. Read the rest

Satanic Temple statue unveiled at Arkansas State Capitol

Members of the Satanic Temple held a "Rally for the First Amendment” yesterday at the Arkansas State Capitol, where they unveiled an 8.5-foot bronze statue of Baphomet with two adoring children at his side to the Arkansas State Capitol. The Satanic Temple is suing the Federal Government for the right to permanently install the statue on the Capitol grounds, arguing that since the Capitol has a Ten Commandments monument, other religions must be allowed to display their symbols there, too.

A group of Christians also attended the rally, and those interviewed by KATV were articulate and respectful of the Satanists and their statue. "God loves them, and we love them," said one. "These people are here in support of their beliefs, and I'm here in support of mine," said another. "Fortunately we live in a country that allows freedom of speech, freedom of religion. I may not necessarily agree with their faith, but I respect it."

The only person who came off as a nutcase was Senator Jason Rapert (R), the lawmaker who successfully led the unconstitutional campaign to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds. He said in a Facebook statement, "No matter what these extremists may claim, it will be a very cold day in hell before an offensive statue will be forced upon us to be permanently erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol."

Read the rest

Talking surveillance, elections, monopolies, and Facebook on the Bots and Ballots podcast

Grant Burningham interviewed me for his Bots and Ballots podcast (MP3), covering a bunch of extremely timely tech-politics issues: Facebook and the impact of commercial surveillance on democratic elections; Alex Jones, censorship and market concentration; and monopolism and the future of the internet. Read the rest

Alex Jones tries to use Vimeo to host his videos, but Vimeo dumps him

Now that Facebook and YouTube have dumped Infowars for its hate campaign against the parents of children murdered in the Sandy Hook mass shooting, Infowars Alex Jones is looking for other places to host his sickening videos. One of those other places was Vimeo, but it wants nothing to do with the self-aggrandizing sicko.

From Daily Beast:

Infowars didn’t have much of a presence on Vimeo before last week but posted over 50 new videos on Thursday and Friday. The videos were manually removed by Vimeo’s Trust and Safety Team because they “violated our Terms of Service prohibitions on discriminatory and hateful content,” a spokesperson told Business Insider, adding that the company didn’t want to profit from Infowars content.

Read the rest

Facebook news chief to media: ‘Work with Facebook or die’

The Australian reports that Facebook media relations chief Campbell Brown privately disclosed that Mark Zuckerberg is indifferent to publishers and offers the news media a simple choice: "Work with Facebook or die."

A senior Facebook executive has privately admitted Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care” about publishers and warned that if they did not work with the social media giant, “I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a ­hospice”.

That's a strange thought, isn't it? Right down to how an attempt at intimidation is undermined its own awkward spitefulness.

Still, she (invoking he), is effectively threatening to destroy news publishers unless they comply with Facebook's vision for their future. So everyone has work to do.

Brown was hired last year after to help Facebook "smooth over its strained ties to the news media."

But Facebook executives said they were hiring Ms. Brown for her understanding of the news industry as a onetime White House correspondent, co-anchor of “Weekend Today” and primary substitute anchor of “Nightly News” at NBC News, and prime-time anchor on CNN, which she left in 2010.

Some commentators noted Ms. Brown’s ties to the Republican donor Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Education. Ms. DeVos’s family foundation funds The 74, an education-focused journalism site co-founded and led by Ms. Brown.

Hiring a DeVos crony to deal with fake news and media relations quickly became the Facebook Executives Puzzled By Human Emotion trainwreck it promised to be: Brown was last in the news threatening to sue The Guardian for breaking the Cambridge Analytica story. Read the rest

I'm joining the campaign to deactivate my Twitter account on August 17

I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago and am not sorry I did. For the last couple of months, I've been thinking about deleting my Twitter account, too. It has become a creepy, toxic place. I'm stunned that Twitter has no problem with people who want to inflict additional misery on the parents of murdered children. It's not about the first Amendment. Twitter is a company -- it can choose whomever it wants to be on its platform.

As my friend Sean Bonner posted, Twitter "didn’t start as an open forum for free speech, it started as a way for people to see what their friends were doing. Enforcing the same rules for everyone to promote civil discourse isn’t censorship. Bots spewing hate and attacking people isn’t fun."

He's right. I'm joining Sean and others on August 17 by deactivating my Twitter account. The hashtag for this action is #DeactiDay. If Twitter doesn't fix its hate enabler problem in 30 days, I won't reactivate my account, after which it will be permanently deleted. It's very likely it will be deleted, because Twitter has demonstrated that it badly wants Alex Jones and his ilk on its platform. When CNN reported that Jones violated at least a dozen of Twitter's rules after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Jones hadn't and therefore couldn't be kicked off, Twitter didn't do a thing about it. Then Twitter admitted that Jones had indeed violated rules that had resulted in bans for other people, but said it wouldn't ban Jones. Read the rest

Man charged $50 for two espressos and two bottles of water at a Venice cafe stirs up online mob

Juan Carlos Bustamente, 62, is a Chilean political consultant living in Rome. On a recent trip to Venice he sat down at Caffe Lavena in the popular tourist area called St. Mark's Square and ordered two bottles of water and two espressos. The bill was €43 (about $50). He thought it was ridiculous and he posted the receipt to Facebook.

Other people commented about being overcharged at Caffe Lavena. Then they headed over to TripAdvisor and left a lot of 1-star reviews, like this one from Jacob U of Orinda, CAe:

18 for a budweiser beer, 12 for a bottle of water!! And then the waiter tried to tell me that even though is not a spot for a tip in the credit card slip he wants to know how much would I like to leave him and stares me down and does not leave my table. when I say gratuity is already included in Italy he told that is not true and demanded a tip. I ended up leaving with my wife and kids after spending $83 on drinks because I did not pay attention to the price with him giving my family a dirty stare!!!!!!!!

A spokesman for Caffe Lavena issued a caveat emptor statement, expressing no shame in their prices:

“People get annoyed when the bill arrives because they do not listen when we hand them the menu even though it states clearly enough that prices are higher to sit outside. They just wave us away and if we insist they get irritated.

Read the rest

Good news: Facebook's web traffic has dropped by almost half in the last two years

A new study revealed that monthly page visits to the user-hostile social media site Facebook have dropped from 8.5 billion to 4.7 billion since 2016.

From CNBC:

"Although Facebook's app traffic has grown, it is not enough to make up for that loss, the study said. Facebook took a market tumble last month when it reported that the number of daily active users remained flat in North America in the second quarter, and declined in Europe."

Meanwhile, traffic growth on YouTube is booming and will overtake Facebook as the second most popular website. The top spot is held by Google, which also owns YouTube.

Image: Brian Solis/Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Read the rest

Rare fire tornado from a factory blaze is caught on video

A fire that broke out at a plastic tray factory in Derbyshire, England caused a spectacular fire tornado to form. Also known as a fire whirl or firenado, the rare spectacle could be seen from 25 miles away and took 12 hours to put out. No one was injured.

Via The Independent:

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, which helped the Derbyshire and Staffordshire services tackle the blaze, shared the video on Facebook, saying: “Whilst we were firefighting at Occupation Lane we witnessed a firenado or a fire whirl.

“It’s created as cool air enters the top of the hot air causing a swirl similar to how a tornado is formed.”

Read the rest

Facebook throws an extra $10m at Zuck's personal security

Zuckerberg -- who says privacy isn't a value that's important to most people any more -- owns the four houses on either side of his Silicon Valley house so that no one can use them as a perch to spy on him; he bought 100 acres around his Hawai'ain beach house, suing native Hawai'ians to force them to sell to him, so that he could have a buffer between him and the world. Read the rest

Inside the triumphant Alex Jones banned everywhere story is a worrying nuance about free speech and platform dominance

When we worry about free speech, we mostly worry about governments suppressing speech, not private actors. It's one thing to say that the US government shouldn't have the ability to arbitrarily censor some speech, but it's another altogether to say, that, for example, Boing Boing shouldn't be able to kick jerks off its message boards -- that has as much to do with "compelled publication" as it does with "free speech." Read the rest

Leaked Facebook memo reveals "psychological trick" developed to entice high-school students to sign on

In October 2017, Facebook bought the startup TBH, whose product was an enormously successful polling app aimed at high-school students; as part of TBH's integration into the company, they circulated memos detailing the "psychological trick" they developed to maximize their penetration into high-schools and suggested ways this could be adapted for use by Facebook itself. Read the rest

Russian asbestos firm loves Trump

Know who loves Trump? Folks in Russia who make asbestos.

Nearly a thing of the past, asbestos causes lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. The Trump Administration is eager to bring asbestos back, because sanity had almost eliminated it. New EPA regulations are opening up opportunities for Russians to sell asbestos in the US.

Via EWG.org:

One of the world’s biggest producers of asbestos, a Russian company with ties to Vladimir Putin, is praising President Trump for allowing asbestos to remain legal in the U.S.

The company’s applause for Trump comes as Russia is poised to become the leading importer to the U.S. of asbestos, which causes diseases that kill an estimated 15,000 Americans a year. A recent study led by Jukka Takala, president of the International Commission on Occupational Health, found the death toll from asbestos exposure may be much higher, at nearly 40,000 Americans a year and more than 255,000 a year worldwide.

On June 25, the asbestos producer Uralasbest posted photos on its Facebook page of pallets of its signature product, chrysotile asbestos, wrapped in plastic adorned with Trump’s image. Trump’s picture is at the center of a large red seal declaring: “APPROVED BY DONALD TRUMP, 45th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”

Read the rest

Talking copyright, internet freedom, artistic business models, and antitrust with Steal This Show

I'm on the latest episode of Torrentfreak's Steal This Show podcast (MP3), where I talk with host Jamie King about "Whether file-sharing & P2P communities have lost the battle to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, and why the ‘copyfight’ is still important; how the European Copyright Directive eats at the fabric of the Web, making it even harder to compete with content giants; and why breaking up companies like Google and Facebook might be the only way to restore an internet — and a society — we can all live with." Read the rest

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