• Jared Leto to star as Karl Lagerfeld in biopic

    With the blessing of the legendary fashion designer's estate, Jared Leto is to star in a self-produced biopic of Karl Lagerfeld. The ability of Leto to land prestigious roles despite being so widley disliked is a marvelous thing, but I can't imagine a more perfect actor to play Lagerfeld. The only problem is the official imprimatur suggests it will end up a bland hagiography, when for once I want Leto to be giving 110%.

    Leto told WWD that the movie will likely explore the designer's "multitude of relationships." "Karl had a career that spanned 50-plus years so both personally and professionally he was close to a number of people. I can say we are going to home in on key relationships that convey different parts of his life," Leto said. "Karl has always been an inspiration to me," Leto said in a statement. The actor described Lagerfeld as a "true polymath, an artist, an innovator, a leader and, most importantly, a kind man."

  • American tourist demands to see Pope, then smashes two ancient statues in the Vatican

    An American tourist smashed one 2000-year-old statue in anger and then another while trying to escape officials pursuing him in The Vatican on Wednesday, where he had demanded to see the Pope and been told he could not. The man was captured and is being held by Vatican police.

    The episode took place in the Museo Chiaramonti, part of the Vatican Museums, around lunchtime. The space holds around 1,000 works of ancient statuary, and describes itself as "one of the finest collections of Roman portraits" in the world. Two of those portraits are now facing an uncertain future after the tourist knocked over one in anger, then toppled another as he fled the scene.

    A source told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero that the works, in the "Galleria Chiaramonte" corridor, are "secondary" and not famous. They are being assessed for restoration in the Vatican's in-house workshop, and the damage is reportedly not too bad: "One lost part of a nose and an ear, the head of the other came off the pedestal."

    At least he wasn't in a Maserati.

    UPDATE: The Vatican has a very nice virtual tour of the museum where the incident took place. Lots of statues to smash!

  • Nothing contradictory about retreating from region you just annexed, says Russia

    To the classic totalitarian formulations of "War is Peace", "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength", add "Defeat is Victory." Russia:

    Asked if there was a contradiction between Putin's rhetoric and the reality of retreat on the ground, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "There is no contradiction whatsoever. They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned." The wording of the laws is unclear about what exact borders Russia is claiming for the annexed territories and Peskov declined to give clear guidance.

    Contrarians in August (brusquely, haughtily): "Russia will eventually mobilize and defeat Ukraine, so it should compromise and we should stop helping it."

    Contrarians in October (anxiously, earnestly): "Russia will eventually mobilize and defeat Ukraine, so it should compromise and we should stop helping it."

    Maybe they're right. Let's check in at Christmas!

  • Woman Herschel Walker paid to have abortion is also mother of his child

    Another day, another bombshell about the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia. The woman who claimed to have had an abortion at Herschel Walker's behest—which he denies and claims to have no idea who she might be—is the mother of one of his children. The Daily Beast, kneeing this lying dimwit in the balls over and over and over:

    The woman, a registered Democrat whose years-long relationship with Walker continued after the abortion, told The Daily Beast that her chief concern with revealing her name was because she is the mother of one of Walker's own children and she wanted to protect her family's privacy as best she could while also coming forward with the truth. (Walker has publicly acknowledged the child as his own, and the woman proved she is the child's mother and provided credible evidence of a long-term relationship with Walker.)

  • An exhibition of $4.99 assets in the Unity game development store

    v r $4.99, by Pippin Barr et al, is a virtual safari of selected assets from the Unity store, each shelved there at the price of $4.99. There is an astounding range of quality, style, genre and completeness; we might be known by this. I recommend not consulting the Visitor Guide before embarking, so that each bizarrely out-of-place artifact is a surprise. It runs on Mac and Windows, does not require VR, and is free of charge. ("trust me, I thought about charging $4.99")

    What does $4.99 get you these days?! One crowbar?! Two swordfish?! Three airliners?! Four Sci-Fi doors?! A super store?! The Taj Mahal?! The Sahara desert?! A seagull?! Come and see! v r $4.99 is an exhibition of 3D assets purchased on the Unity Asset Store for US$4.99. The asset store has 46 unique categories of 3D assets, from the baseline 3D category, through to humanoids, dungeon environments, and vegetation. v r $4.99 contains two examples of each categories, positioned in the Sahara desert (yes, that's an asset that costs $4.99 as well), as an eclectic Noah's Ark of the kinds of things we can see in videogames. You're invited to take a walk around and consider the items on show, maybe ask some questions. Why is an "old mattress" the same price as a complete office interior? Do you prefer realism or low poly? What kind of game would you make with that UFO? What about those "horror trees"? Come one, come all!

    v r $4.99 [Pippinbarr.com]

  • Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit over Halyna Hutchins' on-set death

    Alec Baldwin has reached a settlement with the husband of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer he unintentionally shot dead on the set of the western Rust. Filming may now resume, with her husband named as an executive producer.

    All parties believe Ms Hutchins' death was an accident, her husband said.

    The settlement avoids a civil trial and courtroom scrutiny of the accident—or of Baldwin's questionable claim that he never pulled the trigger. Hopefully Baldwin's inability to stop talking about the incident in the most narcissistic terms imaginable meant more zeroes for Hutchins' survivors, but we'll likely never know.

    Correction: Alec, not Adam.

  • Teenage chess grandmaster cheated often, says chess.com

    Hans Moke Niemann, the teenage chess grandmaster who world champion Magnus Carlsen accused of cheating at the board, admitted doing so only twice while playing online. But chess.com, a popular venue for top players, today accused Niemann of cheating many times at the site. The Wall Street Journal:

    The report, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, alleges that Niemann likely received illegal assistance in more than 100 online games, as recently as 2020. Those matches included contests in which prize money was on the line. The site uses a variety of cheating-detection tools, including analytics that compare moves to those recommended by chess engines, which are capable of beating even the greatest human players every time.  

    The report states that Niemann privately confessed to the allegations, and that he was subsequently banned from the site for a period of time. 

    The 72-page report also flagged what it described as irregularities in Niemann's rise through the elite ranks of competitive, in-person chess. It highlights "many remarkable signals and unusual patterns in Hans' path as a player."

    And on Hacker News, an account registered under the name chesscom adds:

    There is so much more to our report than what was focused on in the WSJ article. The full report will be shared shortly…

    (UPDATE: The full report is up.)

    Chess.com has some clever analytical tools beyond simply checking moves against chess engines (which today play far better than any human can, even in blitz games). For example, chess.com reports that Niemann played "stronger moves after the browser window loses focus", i.e. his play improves when he switches to another browser window or application before making moves.

    Though the online play being analysed here does not implicate the real-life tournament play that matters to international rankings (or his online play since 2020) Niemann has explaining to do.

  • EU passes law mandating USB-C

    The European Union today voted to make USB-C the mandatory standard for charging ports in consumer devices, in hopes of reducing electronic waste and pleasing consumers tired of having to have special chargers for each one. Most popular models have already switched in recent versions, with one prominent exception: Apple's iPhone, still using the company's proprietary Lightning connector. The law, passed 602 to 13, anticipates future upgrades and legislation about wireless charging, while exempting small devices such as watches and fitness trackers.

    Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.

    I still like Lightning, especially how compact it is. And while basic power delivery is always covered, you still can't tell what a USB-C cable or port can handle just by looking at it. "Engineers in charge" is unambiguously a mistake, but is "supranational bureacrats in charge" going to be better, in the long run, than just buying another cable for your €549-and-up iPhone? That having been asked, the fury of some Apple guys at all this is oddly deflating. It reads more like some kind of parasocial consumerism than a rational objection to overzealous standardization.


  • The Onion's Supreme Court brief supporting a man arrested for parody of the police

    Enjoy The Onion's hilarious brief in support of a man arrested for mocking local cops with a Facebook parody site.

    The man at the center of the case, Anthony Novak, was arrested in 2016 after he launched the Facebook page that mirrored the Parma Ohio Police Department's official Facebook page. Police accused Novak of posting derogatory and inflammatory information under the guise of real officials from the police department, complete with fake job postings accompanied by notifications that the department discouraged minorities from applying.

    Novak was charged with one felony count of disrupting public services, but was later acquitted at trial.

    Though the man was acquitted, it was a long and expensive battle against an obvious effort by government officials to punish and silence him for mocking them—and they were granted immunity by lower courts so they could get away with it.

    The Onion knows it (among many others) is in deep trouble if that stands.

    "The Sixth Circuit's ruling imperils an ancient form of discourse. The court's decision suggests that parodists are in the clear only if they pop the balloon in advance by warning their audience that their parody is not true. … The Sixth Circuit's decision in this case would condition the First Amendment's protection for parody upon a requirement that parodists explicitly say, up-front, that their work is nothing more than an elaborate fiction."


  • Study claims Neti pot use reduces Covid 19 hospitalization rates among high-risk patients

    Irrigating twice a day with a Neti pot vastly decreases the chances that Covid 19 patients will end up hospitalized or dead, concludes a study of 79 high-risk patients at the Medical College of Georgia.

    COVID-19 symptoms resulted in one ED visit and no hospitalizations in 42 irrigating with alkalinization, one hospitalization of 37 in the povidone-iodine group, (1.27%) and no deaths. Of nearly three million CDC cases, 9.47% were known to be hospitalized, with an additional 1.5% mortality in those without hospitalization data … SARS-CoV-2+ participants initiating nasal irrigation were over 8 times less likely to be hospitalized than the national rate.

  • GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker paid for girlfriend's abortion

    Herschel Walker, a retired footballer and "pro-life" Republican running for U.S. Senate in Georgia, wants to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape victims, children or to save the life of the mother. Walker, however, paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion, reports The Daily Beast. Ever a gentleman, he sent her a "get well soon" card.

    The woman said Walker, who was not married at the time, told her it would be more convenient to terminate the pregnancy, saying it was "not the right time" for him to have a child. It was a feeling she shared, but what she didn't know was that Walker had an out-of-wedlock child with another woman earlier that same year.

    Asked if Walker ever expressed regret for the decision, the woman said Walker never had. Asked why she came forward, the woman pointed to Walker's hardline anti-abortion position.

    "I just can't with the hypocrisy anymore," she said. "We all deserve better."

    Walker's response: "I'm not taking this anymore. I planning to sue the Daily Beast for this defamatory lie. It will be filed tomorrow morning."

    Alas, conservatives in the know haven't gotten the memo:

    His son is "done" with him.

  • The strip club was closed, so three Indiana judges went to White Castle instead and got into a fight. Here's the footage.

    Years after three circuit court judges got into a fight outside an Indianapolis White Castle after failing to get into a nearby strip club, footage of the brawl has finally been released.

    A Marion County judge has released the full video of a brawl in which two Southern Indiana judges were wounded in a shooting outside a Downtown White Castle restaurant in 2019. The video was evidence in a grand jury and had been under seal for three years. The seal lifted because the last defendant facing criminal charges associated with the fight was found guilty last week. The video shows Clark County Circuit judges Brad Jacobs and Andrew Adams fighting with two other men in the fast food restaurant's parking lot about 3:30 a.m. May 1, 2019.

    According to the earlier reports, the third judge, Sabrina Bell, had raised her middle finger to two men "yelling from a passing SUV" who then stopped their vehicle and got into it with the shitfaced jurists. The confrontation ended when Brandon Kaiser—the man found guilty last week—pulled a gun and shot two of the judges.

    One interesting thing about the footage is that it shows that one of the judges was the first physical aggressor, and that the man who shot him was on the ground and had just been kicked in the face by him. For this, Justice Fighty received a suspended sentence for aggravated battery.

    There's several minutes of fisticuffs before the handgun comes out, and no audio to show what might have been said, and one presumes an uphill struggle in court when your victims are judges, even if they were belligerent drunks.

    Jacobs, a Republican, is the only one of the trio still on the Clark County bench. Adams, a Democrat, is no longer a judge, and Bell, a Republican, lost her primary and has other bigger things to worry about now.

  • Elon complains of "bot attack" as his pro-Russian Twitter poll heads Ukraine's way

    The superficially magnanimous tone of Elon Musk's Twitter poll makes Russia's annexation of Ukraine's east seem almost reasonable. But users of the site are so far "voting" for Ukraine to retain its territory, dealing the billionaire a trivial public defeat that's interesting only for how mad he seems to be about it:

    Ukraine's ambassador to Germany (Update: former ambassador, as of three days ago), among many others, told him where to get off:

    Musk has 22 hours to turn his "poll numbers" around. His latest suggestion, that it's "highly likely" the Russians would keep the annexed regions anyway and that lots of people will die, doesn't seem to be doing the trick.

  • "Taste the Biscuit" in retrospect

    Taste the Biscuit is an authentic legend in outsider music, enjoying surges of viral interest at the exact point each new social media platform is ready for it. After a decade, it has aged so well that Rolling Stone saw fit to publish a retrospective about the song, the creators, the video and the latest wave of magically deranged mashups and remixes.

    "It's just a sexy food song, probably written under the influence of eating KFC back in 2009," Gargiulo tells me in an Instagram DM. Piper, whose voice you hear on the track, says that "Vincent wrote Seventies genre songs in several of the styles prevalent then, making them catchy as hell, but just off enough that you see why this fictional duo only had one album and one hit." She remembers that "Taste the Biscuit" achieved standalone meme status after the online success of Chickens in the Shadows, and "was picked up by all kinds of fans who did their own versions or duets on YouTube: hip-hop kids, kids from the Midwest and, for some reason, Phish fans."  

  • Ringo Starr, 82, cancels concert after falling ill

    The bad news is that Ringo Starr is unwell. The good news is that whatever it is, it just affects his voice and the concern will be rescheduled. The Manchester Evening News:

    Mystic Lake Casino tweeted: "Ringo is sick and was hoping to be able to perform, hence the late notice, but it has affected his voice," Mystic said on its website. "He and the band send peace and love to all the fans who were planning to come out and see the show. A rescheduled date will be announced in the future."

  • PlayStation 5 jailbroken

    Sony's PlayStation 5 game console has been jailbroken, meaning that users may soon be running their own software on it. Marco Cocomello:

    The most exciting part of the PS5 jailbreak comes at the end of the video where the hacker installs the infamous Silent Hills P.T Demo which was officially delisted from the PlayStation Store a few years ago. The hacker doesn't show the game launching but the fact that it can be installed is a huge step towards installing and playing games which are not officially licensed for the PS5. This PS5 jailbreak marks quite a big step towards enabling homebrew on the console too. Both the PS3 and PS4 are currently jailbroken and can be used to install custom themes, games, emulators and even unofficial game patches including the Bloodborne 60FPS patch. The patch is something you can't install on your PS4 unless you have it jailbroken and hacked.

    Modern game console hardware is little different to that of basic gaming PCs. But they're sold cheaply to get Gamers hooked on the platform, thereby giving manufacturers plenty of reasons to lock them out of the system.

  • Sacheen Littlefeather, actress who declined Oscar on Marlon Brando's behalf, dead at 75

    Weeks after receiving an apology from the Oscars for the rude and threatening treatment she received at the 1973 awards show, Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather is dead at 75. Littlefeather was sent by actor Marlon Brando to decline his Best Actor award and to deliver a speech on Native Americans' poor treatment by the motion picture industry.

    She was subjected to jeers and racist abuse by the audience. Producer Howard W. Koch threatened to have her arrested. Roger Moore, who presented the award, had to escort her off-stage to prevent her being physically attacked by avowed white supremacist John Wayne.

    She was also blacklisted, reports the BBC:

    "I went up there, like a proud Indian woman with dignity, with courage, with grace, and with humility," she remembered at the recent event. "I knew that I had to speak the truth. Some people may accept it. And some people may not."

    Screen Actors Guild member Littlefeather struggled to get work in the industry afterwards but said it was "never too late for an apology… it's never too late for forgiveness." … Littlefeather featured in films like The Trial of Billy Jack, Johnny Firecloud and Counselor at Crime, but said she returned to San Francisco after being blacklisted by the industry, to continue her activism and work in health care and the theatre.