Chinese censors incinerate entire run of a kickstarted Call of Cthulhu RPG sourcebook

Julio writes, "Sons of the Singularity is a small RPG publisher. Last year, they kickstarted The Sassoon Files, a sourcebook for the popular Call of Cthulhu RPG and Trail of Cthulhu RPG. As a lot of publishers, theydid the printing in China. The same day that the print was finished, a Chinese Government decided that it was "problematic", so they burned the entire print run. Targeting foreign publications is a first, specially when it seems there wasn't anything problematic (the supplement was based on Shanghai but was respetful and documented carefully). Will this be a new sign of Beijing tightening its iron grip or just a show of bravado with a small publisher used as an example?"

London developer makes last-minute changes to lock poor kids out of "communal" playground

Henley Homes got permission to build a 149-home development on the site of the Baylis Old School complex on Lollard Street by promising to include some subsidised, below-market-rent units and "a network of courtyards and open spaces ... which will provide attractive areas for informal play. This will emphasise the sense of community within the scheme stressing that the common areas are there for the use of all the residents."

Peak Indifference: are we reaching climate's denial/nihilism tipping point?

I use the idea of peak indifference to describe the moment when activists no longer have to try to convince people that a problem is real (the problem does that itself, by ruining ever-more-people's lives), and then the job switched to convincing people that it's not too late to do something about it (if the day you finally decide to take rhino population declines seriously is the day they announce there's only one rhino left, there's a powerful temptation to shoot that rhino and find out what it tastes like).

Why are creators paying for TikTok’s mistake?

TikTok is an app that makes it easy for people to make short lip-synching videos, which unsurprisingly makes it a goldmine of creativity and memes. TikTok recently got in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission because it failed to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA requires online services that are either “directed at” children under the age of 13 or have knowledge that they have users who are under 13 to arrange for parental permission before they start collecting personal information about those users.

Sarah Sanders invents treason, suggests death penalty for Democratic leadership

Sarah Sanders: "They literally accused the President of the United States of being an agent for a foreign government. That's equivalent to treason. Thats punishable by death in this country."

— The Hill (@thehill) March 25, 2019

Emboldened by her bosses non-exoneration, Sarah Sanders seems to use lies to call for the death of her enemies.

After Mueller report, Trump campaign attacks media. Read the note they're sending to TV producers.

On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office released a long-awaited report about Trump campaign ties to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

The report has not been made public, nor has it been provided in full to Congress.

The quotes in this memo are accurate and the press shouldn't be bullied by nonsense like this. There is significant evidence of collusion. There may not be enough evidence to support bringing a conspiracy case in court, but there is plenty of evidence. We need to see the report.

— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 25, 2019

Over the weekend, Trump's hand-picked attorney general Bill Barr quoted portions of sentences from the report, and stated that the report proved what Trump has been babbling on repeat for weeks: No Collusion.

None of the quotes Barr gave from the Mueller report were even complete sentences.

We don't know what's in the report.

But that didn't stop Trump and his campaign from going on the offensive today.

One of the ways they're going on offense: sending official messages like this one to news producers.

Trump campaign on offense — today they sent this memo to TV producers like me about Mueller coverage:

— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) March 25, 2019

They sent this memo today to TV producers like ABC News's Meredith McGraw about television coverage of Robert Mueller's report.

Good to know.

The Trump campaign is sending this memo to TV producers:

— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) March 25, 2019

Apple launches credit card, gaming service

Made from laser-etched titanium, Apple's new credit card appears to use the company's San Francisco typeface, not Silian Rail.

The Verge:

Daily cash back of 2% on purchases with external vendors; and 3% cash back on purchases from Apple ... APR rates start at 13.24 percent, up to 24.24 percent.

Also announced today was Apple Arcade, the company's new game service. The name's perfectly sweet; it's great that games are getting a place of their own outside the App Store, which is a terrible place to find them. Hopefully the payment incentives will change too to keep it out of the attention casino. All the games, at least at launch, are exclusive, with Apple reportedly investing directly (!) in development costs.

Gentleman spikes co-workers' drinks with LSD because they were "too uptight"

A 19-year-old Enterprise Rent-A-Car employee from Missouri decided to unwittingly dose his c0-workers with LSD because they had "negative energy." The employees were hospitalized and the young man was arrested. He should have Timothy Leary's "Two Commandments for the Molecular Age" from his book The Politics of Ecstasy (1968):

Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow man Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from altering his own consciousness.

Image: Shamanska Kate/Shutterstock

Experiencing awe is linked to decreased inflammation

In the Savvy Pscychologist, clinician Ellen Hendriksen of Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, looks at the profound psychological and physiological impacts of feeling awe, whether it comes from looking up at the expansive night sky or hearing an incredible musical performance. She reflects on scientific evidence that awe makes us "feel small" and humble, nicer, and expands our worldview, all of which seem like fairly obvious effects. But Hendriksen also points to a recent curious study published in the journal Emotion showing that "awe is linked to decreased inflammation." The University of Toronto researchers had examined whether amusement, compassion, contentment, joy, love, pride, and awe resulted in "lower levels of a marker of inflammation called interleukin-6, or IL-6, which has been linked to diseases as diverse as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes." From the Savvy Psychologist:

Why on earth might standing on a mountaintop connect with our levels of inflammation? One hypothesis is that proinflammatory cytokines like IL-6 lead to physical and social withdrawal—curling up in your den and resting speeds recovery from illness or injury more quickly than pushing through. By contrast, awe triggers the opposite: an urge to explore and experience more. It’s unclear whether awe reduces inflammation or reduced inflammation makes us seek out awe, but either way, the two seem to be linked.

"Awe: The Most Incredible Emotion and Its Spectacular Effects"

Here's the scientific study: "Positive affect and markers of inflammation: discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines" (Emotion)

Telegram allows you to "unsend" messages coming from either party, and has no time limit

Although the private message app Telegram already had an "unsend" feature, you were only able to delete messages that you had sent, and only up to 48 hours after you had sent it. But yesterday they announced an expansion of this feature that allows you to unsend messages that stem from either you or the person who sent you the message, and there is no time limit. And there's more.

According to Telegram's blog:

You can also delete any private chat entirely from both your and the other person's device with just two taps.

To make your privacy complete, we’ve also introduced a way to restrict who can forward your messages. When this setting is enabled, your forwarded messages will no longer lead back to your account — they'll just display an unclickable name in the “from” field. This way people you chat with will have no verifiable proof you ever sent them anything.

Look for “Forwarded messages” in Privacy and Security settings. By the way, you can now also restrict who can view your profile photos.

A company that cares about your privacy is almost unheard of nowadays, so it's really refreshing when Telegram says, "We never use your data to target ads. We never disclose your data to third parties. We store only what is absolutely necessary for Telegram to work."

Image: By Telegram Messenger LLP - Javitomad, Public Domain, Link

Tour of an off-grid house in Australia

Paul and Annett built a self-sufficient, off-grid house in New South Wales with air conditioning and electrical appliances. They use just 25% of the solar energy that their rooftop solar voltaic system is capable of generating. The also have solar-heated water for showers, a biogas digester that turns waste food into combustible gas, and a composting toilet. They also have a 10,000 liter water tank, but Australia has been experiencing drought as of late, so they have to be conservative with their water use.

Image: YouTube

Michael Avenatti charged with attempting to extort Nike for $20 million

Details are sketchy at this point, but The New York Times reports federal prosecutors in New York have charged attorney Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, with attempting to force Nike to pay him $20 million by threatening to damage the company's reputation on his social media accounts.

From The New York Times:

In court documents filed Monday, prosecutors in the United States District for the Southern District of New York said that Avenatti and a client, a former A.A.U. basketball coach, said they had evidence that Nike employees had funneled money to recruits in exchange for their commitments to college teams sponsored by Nike and that they would release them in order to damage Nike’s reputation and market capitalization unless Nike paid them at least $22.5 million.

Image: JStone/Shutterstock

Attorney and former Presidential hopeful Michael Avenatti charged with extortion

No longer representing Stormy Daniels or running for President, attorney Michael Avenatti will still be appearing in court.


The Manhattan US Attorney's office said Monday that it is charging attorney Michael Avenatti "for attempting to extract more than $20 million in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met."

High school stages "Alien: The Play"

The drama club at New Jersey's North Bergen High School brought the classic sci-fi/horror story Alien to the stage for Alien: The Play. From Quartz:

A student playing a xenomorph expertly creeped about on stage and in the audience in the style of the titular alien. The student wore a costume made from donated foam, a plastic skeleton from the clearance aisle, and other materials, Entertainment Weekly reported. Other characters were photographed wearing spacesuits. And the sets were reportedly crafted from donated and recycled items, including old egg-carton boxes to create a computer lab.

A Reddit thread started by North Bergen High School student Justin Pierson, 17, who was part of the sound crew, said the play flows almost exactly like the film. But these students put together their production on a relatively shoestring budget.

"A US High School’s Crafty Production of “Alien” Is Going Viral" (Thanks, Mark Dery!)

(images here)

Shazam! is the first DC movie my daughter and I really enjoyed

Last Saturday night both my 11-year old daughter and I really enjoyed DC's new Shazam!

True to my memories of the Shazam/Captain Marvel of my youth, but much, much more fun, Shazam! delivered on the 2 or so hours of entertainment you expect from a movie.

Unlike every other DC movie we've seen.

I liked Wonder Woman, my kid fell asleep. The rest of the DC universe films have been such trash we shut them off after a few minutes. My kid would rather watch YouTube garbage. I would rather watch 1970s tv intros.


Shazam! is a rollicking good time and the kid actors are wonderful. Faithe Herman as Darla, and Jack Dylan Glazer's Freddy were wonderful co-foster kids in the home with Billy Batson. Asher Angel's Billy Batson is significantly more mature than Zachary Levi's Captain Marvel, but they pull it off where it counts.

They never use the name Captain Marvel even tho we all pretty much share a name with someone more well known.

Do you suffer from latchkey incontinence?

In a recent scientific study on overactive urinary bladder syndrome, researchers used the term "latchkey incontinence" to describe "the loss of urine that occurs when one arrives home and puts the key in the lock of one’s front door." From MEL Magazine:

According to Jamin Brahmbhatt, a urologist in Florida, peeing is a much more complex dance between the mind and body than you might think. “The ability to control how you urinate requires a balance between the muscles and your nerves around your bladder and your urethra working in synch,” he explains. “Some of these functions happen automatically, and some require manual control by the muscles that you naturally control. So when urine is filling up inside your bladder, your bladder naturally expands. When you go to the bathroom, your sphincter around your urethra will relax and your bladder will start to squeeze. This process sounds simple, but it does require the muscles around your urethra, which we call your pelvic floor, to all work and synch.”

He continues, “To keep your bladder healthy, I recommend my patients empty their bladder before they start having extreme ‘got-to-go’ feelings. There’s only so much the bladder can tolerate, and this process gets more complicated with the presence of a prostate, which naturally grows as men get older. All these processes can also be affected by diabetes, strokes, infections and many other medical problems.”

Scott Walker, pioneering art rock singer, RIP

Legendary singer Scott Walker, whose journey as a musician took him from blue-eyed soul to baroque pop to heady avant-garde experimentalism, has died at age 76. Walker counted the likes of Radiohead, Pulp, Julian Cope, and Sunn O))) as fans and collaborators. From an obituary released by Walker's record label 4AD:

Noel Scott Engel (later known as Scott Walker) was born in 1943, the son of an Ohio geologist. He began his career as a session bassist, changing his name when he joined The Walker Brothers. The 1960s trio enjoyed a meteoric rise, especially in Britain, where hits like 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore’ attracted a following to rival that of The Beatles.

But the superstar lifestyle and fame was not for Scott. As an only child, he had grown up in the kind of rich, slow solitude in which imagination could flourish, and he retreated from the limelight, returning as a solo artist to release a string of critically acclaimed albums, Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4. He disappeared until the late 1970’s, when The Walker Brothers re-joined for their last album together and then a solo album in the 80’s.

Another long silence and Scott then re-emerged in the 90’s and onwards with lyric-driven works that deconstructed music into elemental soundscapes. Drawing on politics, war, plague, torture, and industrial harshness, Scott’s apocalyptic epics used silence as well as real-world effects and pared-back vocals to articulate the void. Sometimes gothic and eerie, often sweepingly cinematic, always strikingly visual, his works reached for the inexpressible, emerging from space as yearnings in texture and dissonance.

A delightfully bad US Army animation starring a talking floppy disk (1985)

From TMeeks01:

This bit of ancient animation history was programmed in GW-Basic on a Mindset Computer.

The "live" sets included full size props, such as the typewriter and schoolroom desk, and doll house furniture, such as the paintings and the easel.

Overlays were accomplished by partially drawing the figures, rather than chromakeying the live shot, cutting away part of the character around a prop that was to be in the foreground.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

Plane lands safely, at wrong airport, in wrong country

A British Airways flight from London City Airport headed off to Dusseldorf, in Germany. Unfortunately for those aboard, it landed safely in Edinburgh, Scotland due to a "mix up". That's 350 miles in completely the wrong direction.

Officials say the pilot followed the flight plan for Edinburgh, and that air traffic control officials also were following the same flight plan and saw nothing amiss.

They refueled the plane. Then they flew it to Dusseldorf.

Becky Chambers' 'A Closed and Common Orbit' brought me to tears

Chamber's second novel, A Closed and Common Orbit, in her Wayfarer series is so wonderful I cried several times.

A Closed and Common Orbit picks up immediately after Chambers' first story, Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet concludes but is barely an extension of that tale, beyond further expanding on Chambers' wonderful universe. This novel follows a newly created, but ultimately undesired, shipboard AI that is forced to leave its vessel and take up a fugitive residence in a human appearing shell.

Assisted by Pepper, a human who was genetically engineered as a slave, the AI has to find everything from a name to determining a purpose for itself. Completely out of the element for which it was designed, the AI struggles with friendships and body integrity disorder.

I cried several times.

The story alternates between that of the AI and Pepper, her human guardian. Briefly introduced as a very interesting Maz Kanata type in the first book, I wanted to learn more about Pepper. I was not disappointed, as her backstory is equally touching and tear-inducing. Genetically engineered to help sort and recycle junk, Pepper unwittingly escapes her keepers and spends years in a city-sized junkyard restoring a small spaceship.

This wonderful search for meaning and identity in a harsh, harsh world is a must-read.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers via Amazon

Previously on Boing Boing:

I absolutely loved Becky Chambers' 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet'

Key net neutrality vote Tuesday: The whole Internet is watching

Tuesday morning at 10am ET the House Communications and Technology subcommittee will meet and vote on the Save the Internet Act – the best bill we have to restore net neutrality. As soon as the hearing begins you’ll be able to watch the livestream here:


Unfortunately telecom lobbyists are working overtime to convince committee lawmakers to add dangerous amendments that could completely gut the bill and leave gaping loopholes for Internet providers to block, throttle, and charge users new fees for access.

To pass a clean bill with no bad amendments we need everyone to call their members of Congress and make sure they know the whole Internet is watching.

If we get the bill out of committee without any bad amendments, then we have a solid shot of winning the next big vote on the House floor in the week of April 8. But if the bill gets gutted, we’re back to square one.

Call your lawmakers ASAP and demand they vote for a clean bill to restore net neutrality.

Rebooting UUCP to redecentralize the net

UUCP (Unix-to-Unix Copy Protocol) is a venerable, non-hierarchical networking protocol that was used as transport for early email and Usenet message boards; its intrinsic decentralization and its cooperative nature (UUCP hosts store and forward messages for one another) make it a kind of symbol of the early, decentralized robustness that characterized the early net and inspired so much optimism about a fundamentally distributed arrangement of peers rising up to replace the top-down phone companies and other centralized systems.

Asus unwittingly pushed malware to 500k laptops after hack

Kim Zetter reports that Taiwan tech giant Asus unwittingly installed backdoors on half a million of its own customers' computers after hackers compromised its software update servers.

The researchers estimate half a million Windows machines received the malicious backdoor through the ASUS update server, although the attackers appear to have been targeting only about 600 of those systems. The malware searched for targeted systems through their unique MAC addresses. Once on a system, if it found one of these targeted addresses, the malware reached out to a command-and-control server the attackers operated, which then installed additional malware on those machines.

Why hack the consumer when you can hack the manufacturer and get all the consumers for free?

Alt headline: "Republic of Gamers Publicly Owned"

The works of William James Sidis, the "smartest man who ever lived"

Hans Henrik Honnens de Lichtenberg writes, "Here is a fine selection of books by the extraordinary man, William James Sidis. A January morning in 1910 hundreds of students and professors gathered in the great lecture hall at Harvard University. On stage steps up William James Sidis to present his research about the mathematics of the fourth dimension. William was just eleven years old. William James Sidis was a genius and he still has the highest IQ ever recorded, somewhere between 250 and 300."

Frightening footage from inside Viking cruise ship tossed by rough seas

More than a thousand passengers are being evacuated from a Viking cruise ship hit by 26-ft waves between Norway and Britain, with terrifying footage posted to YouTube from inside the lurching vessel. At least 470 people were rescued from the decks by helicopter, hauled one by one to nearby Molde. No-one is reported dead, but one is said to be critically injured.

The maritime rescue service said the Viking Sky, with 1,373 passengers and crew on board, had sent out a mayday signal as it had been drifting toward land in the Norwegian Sea.

The ship was carrying 915 passengers, of which "a large number" were from the United States and Britain, the rescue service said, although it declined to be more specific.

Passengers were hoisted one-by-one from the deck of the vessel and airlifted to a village just north of Molde on Norway.

An investigation was opened into why it even set sail.

We’re waiting for evacuation by helicopter #VikingSky #Mayday

— Alexus Sheppard 🏳️‍🌈 (@alexus309) March 23, 2019

The Oscars' speech for Best Film Editing, edited in the style of winner Bohemian Rhapsody

I haven't seen Best Editing-winner Bohemian Rhapsody, but I have seen a certain viral scene about five times. Is it fair to characterize the whole movie by an insanely jump-cutted scene of some guys being offered a record deal at a relaxing cafe? Here's the Oscar winner's acceptance speech edited in much the same way as the film. [via Reddit]

Ambient Film Tracks:

I just thought that the Oscars weren't edited quite as well as they could have been so I took what I learned from the film editing in Oscar winner Bohemian Rhapsody and attempted to improve this speech.

N-rays: a case of scientific self-deception

In 1903, French physicist Prosper-René Blondlot decided he had discovered a new form of radiation. But the mysterious rays had some exceedingly odd properties, and scientists in other countries had trouble seeing them at all. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of N-rays, a cautionary tale of self-deception.

We'll also recount another appalling marathon and puzzle over a worthless package.

Show notes

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Cartoonist Kayfabe: Wizard Magazine issue 17, January 1993

Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg continue down the 1990s comic book speculation rabbit hole to discuss Wizard 17 from January 1993. In this issue:

• Brutes and Babes: Bart Sears on Cover design including Hip Hop Family Tree, Street Angel, and X-Men: Grand Design • Valiant gets the spotlight • Fabian Nicieza writing and editing a lot of books • Tom Palmer's X-mas recommendationsDave Sim passes the halfway point of Cerebus and reflects on Image, Wizard, self-publishing, the direct market, and Jack Kirby's revolutionary work at the dawn of the Marvel Universe • Roy Thomas adapts Francis Ford Copolla's Bram Stoker's Dracula for Topps and Mike Mignola • Batman is sad • Wizard puts out a call for homemade fanzines!!!

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