• Britain running out of booze

    The United Kingdom, where more than half of adults drink alcohol at least weekly, is running out of stuff to drink because of driver shortages.

    The drinks industry associationsaid that it was taking up to five times longer for some of its members to import wine and spirits than a year ago. It also said rising costshave been passed on to importers by freight forwarders having to pay more for scarce drivers.Ed Baker, managing director ofwine distributor Kingsland Drinks,said his company fills around 185 million bottles of wine every year, equal "to about one in every eight bottles" drunk in the United Kingdom.

    The UK government is outright denying that there's a problem, perhaps to avoid panic buying—a thing Britons seem unable to cope with without violence.

  • 2021 conspiracy theory chart

    Abbie Richards updated her well-received conspiracy theory chart to account for the latest goings-on. One may certainly quibble with specific placements or emphases but it all looks pretty solid to me!

  • How to solve the 1x1x1 Rubik's Cube

    It's a tough one, especially for people who aren't "into" the whole cult of Rubik's Cube variants and the formulas and tricks we can use to solve them. But this video from J Perm describes a straightforward method for solving the 1x1x1 cube [Amazon] that almost anyone can put to use.

    Next week I'll be showing you how to solve a 0x0x0 Rubik's cube by combining nildimensional topology and schnapps.

  • Disconcertingly realistic bread lamp

    "Please do not eat it!" implores the product description for East Fork's Bread Lamp. "This is a light, not a snack!" [↬ Audible]

    – These are actual lights made of actual, real, honest-to-goodness bread, coated in resin—the world's a weird and scary place, but this? This is good.
    – Handmade by Yukiko Morita in Kobe, Japan
    – The Croissant requires one AA Battery, not included

    Perfect to go with your disconcertingly realistic bread plushie.

    Update: sold out! Similar bread lights are available on Amazon, but are sadly not croissantform.

  • Watch a JPG decode on a 286 PC from the early 1990s

    The JPG image format debuted in 1992. What happens if you tasked an everyday computer of that era to show one? To quote Carl Sagan, "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." Jump to 19:45 in the video if it doesn't start there.

    I found this amusing yet excruciating video via Ben Cox's post about a JPG decoding which touches on the fact hardware JPG decoders are now baked in to CPUs (surprisingly recently!) because they're computationally expensive to decode.

  • Enormous-text embroidery tips website disappears in update

    At some point the Sewing Canada website was sold or updated, removing from service the world's greatest static HTML page of all time. For those unaware, it was a selection of embroidery troubleshooting tips that used header tags to start each paragraph without closing them, resulting in text that got larger and larger as the page scrolls down. It suggested something wonderful (and now nostalgic) about the accessibility and "graceful failure" of the early web while reminding everyone of their favorite yelling grandma—but the yelling just gets louder and weirder until you're staring at 400-pixel tall Arial telling you to replace the bobbin.

    Fortunately, Frank Chimero reports that the site is still available at archive.org in all its glory.

  • The origins of Yes, Prime Minister's classic joke about UK newspaper readers

    The classic UK political sit-comYes, Prime Minister contains an amazing joke, famously defining the nation by newspapers readerships.

    HACKER: Don't tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers. The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country. The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country. The Times is read by the people who actually do run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country. And The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
    HUMPHREY: Prime Minister, what about people who read The Sun?
    BERNARD: Sun readers don't care who runs the country as long as she's got big tits.

    Startlingly relavant even decades later. John Hoare suspected that the joke must be even older than the show itself and exhaustively researched its origins, finding his way back through letters columns, political speeches and even a column in a California newspaper. Here's David Frost (of Frost v. Nixon fame) bungling the joke in 1983, before Yes, Prime Minister ran.

    But he was far from the first. By the time Hoare is done, we're almost to the 1960s.

    Spoilers: Fascinating that you can take a trade unionist's speech and put it in the mouth of a pseudo-Conservative Prime Minister and it works either way. It seems quite "British" that overtly political content with a seemingly keen edge might turn out to be so weirdly indifferent and neutral. A good and true example of a meme, a thought as a virus.

  • $650k settlement for black man stomped on by South Carolina cop

    When a 58-year-old disabled man didn't instantly drop to the ground on-demand, Orangeburg cop David Lance Dukes knew what to do: stomp on his head.

    But his victim, Clarence Gailyard, could not easily lie down because of injuries he suffered when struck by a car, for which rods and pins were inserted in his leg. And now Orangeburg, S.C., has agreed to pay him $650,000 to avoid further legal action.

    Gailyard was an unarmed black man; someone had mistakenly claimed a stick he carried was a gun and called 911. The bodycam video of the incident is disturbing yet mundane: enraged police officers shrieking angrily at terrified, prone "suspects" and escalating until they remember their cameras are on.

    "When an officer falls short of these expectations and conducts themselves in ways unbecoming to their department and the City, that officer must and will be held accountable," [City Administrator Sidney ]Evering said.

    Dukes, 38, was fired two days after the incident and charged with felony first-degree assault and battery a few days after that. His lawyer has said the former officer is fully cooperating with state police in what he called a difficult and unfortunate situation.

    Gailyard's lawyer said he appreciated how quickly Orangeburg worked to both help Gailyard and change the culture of a police department which had seen three years of increasing use-of-force case where 75% of the 13,000 residents are Black.

    Good to see the cop who did it charged with a serious crime and the police chief gotten rid of.

    Here's David L. Dukes' mugshot:

  • Soup Nasty: woman arrested after throwing spicy menudo in server's face

    A woman who threw hot soup at an employee in a Temple, Texas restaurant was arrested Wednesday and charged with assault. As is now often the case, the abusive behavior might have gone unpunished were it not for viral video of the coup de soup.

    After calling to complain, Martinez "returned to the restaurant and started a verbal altercation," police said. During the altercation, Martinez stated the soup she picked up was hot and that the plastic lid placed on top of it had melted. After calling to complain, Martinez "returned to the restaurant and started a verbal altercation," police said. During the altercation, Martinez stated the soup she picked up was hot and that the plastic lid placed on top of it had melted.

    "She then proceeded to throw the soup at the victim and left before officers arrived," police said.

    Adds local Deputy Police Chief Allen Teston: "If a citizen believes they have received poor service we advise them to remain civil until the problem is resolved."

    The customer, identified as Amanda Nicole Martinez, 31, has also been banned for life by Sol De Jalisco.

    Correction: Temple is in Texas, not Arizona.

  • New digital-hybrid Instax camera saves a file, spits out a print, and even has an advance lever

    Fujifilm's Instax cameras picked up where Polaroid left off, and the latest model sends the image file to your smartphone too. Gimme a soft copy right there. The Verge:

    It has several retro elements including top-mounted dials and a print control that works like a film advance lever. … The Mini Evo also works as an Instax printer, meaning you can print out pictures from your smartphone wirelessly. In the opposite direction, Fujifilm has added a new feature to let you save printed Mini Evo photos to your phone complete with embedded Instax frames, so you can share them as digital Instax snaps.

    Here's the announcement. Note that there's no card slot: you have to use the Instax app if you want digital copies.

  • Black teen stopped and searched by London cops 30 times in two years

    Since he turned 13 two years ago, a black schoolboy living in south London has been stopped and searched by cops 30 times. He has never been charged with a crime and his mother is tired of the harassment he receives from the Metropolitan police.

    "When the police stop me in the street to search me they put me in cuffs and ask me if I'm carrying weapons," the boy said. "I don't carry a knife and I'm not involved with drugs. I've even been stopped by the police when I've gone outside our flat to take the rubbish out for my mum."

    He said that often when he has been stopped by the police they have not given him a written slip explaining the reasons for the stop. On some occasions when he was stopped they have given him a slip. Some of the slips are hard to read, others say he matches the description of people linked to crimes but does not provide detail of the descriptions police believe he matches.

    Interesting that stop-and-frisk, something widely recognized in the U.S. as a key marker of racist policing, is so pervasive in the U.K. You give officers the latitude to do it and a superficially nondiscrimnatory rationale and boom, it's all they ever do.

  • No jail time for rich-kid rapist who assaulted multiple victims

    Christopher Belter, now 20, raped several younger teens and was convicted in 2018. This week Niagara County Judge Matthew Murphy, sympathising with his plight from the bench, told him he would not be going to jail.

    "It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn't appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation."

    The judge issued a lengthy list of probation rules for Belter, who now lives in the City of Lockport. He also had a stern warning about following the rules.

    This despite the judge admitting Belter failed to follow those already placed upon him and presents an "above average risk" to reoffend.

    Judge Murphy said of Belter "we now know from his documented failure to to follow the rules imposed by the Court about abstinence from pornography that this defendant does not hesitate to ignore the rules when they compete with his own carnal appetites."

    Judge Murphy recently went as far as to order local media not to publish Belter's name, despite the fact he is now an adult.

    From this reportage it isn't even clear just how many girls Belter raped. This story in the Buffalo News says four. He plead guilty to two counts of second degree sex abuse, third degree attempted abuse and third degree rape.

    Local news coverage implies local support for Belter, including from his fancy school and his affluent community. This item from 2018 reports the original allegations of booze-on-tap parties thrown at his parents' vast McMansion—and outrage among their rich friends that he (and they) would even be charged.

    The charges against the teenage son and the detailed allegations listed in the criminal complaint against his guardians have rocked the affluent community where they live, as well as Canisius High School, the elite private boys school he attended.

    The now-former student's friends were stunned when news of the charges came out on November 7th , according to a Canisius staff member who spoke to 7 Eyewitness News on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from school officials.

    "No boy knows where the hammer might fall next," the staffer said.

    The blithe admission that rape is business as usual for the rich kids of Lewiston, N.Y. notwithstanding, what hammer? Here's the lawyer of one of Belter's victims:

    Cohen represents one of the victims and is outraged with the sentence. Cohen says there were "zero consequences" for violating his previous probation.

    "He is privileged. He comes from money. He is white. He was sentenced as an adult, appropriately — for an adult to get away with these crimes is unjust," Cohen remarked.

    Cohen noted how difficult it was for his client to hear Belter will not go to jail.

    "I believe she's in the bathroom throwing up, right now"

    Judge Murphy said he "agonized" and prayed over the sentence. So you can consider its leniency God's will.

  • WSJ: Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew about sexual assault allegations and told an employee he would have her killed

    The CEO of Activision knew about sexual misconduct allegations as serious as rape and failed to tell the company's board, reports the WSJ. Moreover, Bobby Kotick—paid $154 million last year as one of the highest-paid executives in the U.S.—also threatened to have a woman at the company killed. Earlier this year, California sued the game publisher, claiming that its "frat boy culture" was a "breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women."

    Activision Blizzard shares closed down more than 6% Tuesday after a report from The Wall Street Journal alleged CEO Bobby Kotick knew about sexual misconduct allegations at the videogame company. According to the report, Kotick failed to inform the board of directors about the allegations on many occasions, including an alleged rape, the Journal reported.

    Kotick's annual compensation package is more than 7 times the annual budget of state agency suing him. If ever there was someone who would ignore it all with a laugh and a sneer, it would surely be this guy.

    Activision cannot easily rid itself of him: his contract stipulates up to $300m in goodbye payments.

  • Proud Boys leader complains that jail conditions are appalling and he is right

    Enrique Tarrio is a leader of the Proud Boys and recently received a jail term for shenanigans typical of the violent far-right street gang. Yesterday he begged a judge to reduce that term to 90 days, citing the appalling, dangerous conditions of his imprisonment.

    He detailed abusive guards, constantly flooded cells, smoke-filled hallways and medical neglect, saying he witnessed a prisoner have a seizure who lay there for a half hour before any help arrived. Tarrio's complaints about jail conditions in Washington mirror those of several prisoners charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Conditions at the D.C. central jail have long been a point of criticism for local activists. The issue has take on a national political dimension in recent months because of the Jan. 6 defendants.

    The defense is, literally, that he isn't being singled out.

    Obviously I don't want special treatment for Tarrio, or for any of the MAGA rioters learning how terrible U.S. jails and prisons are. But no-one should be held in the conditions that prisoners in the U.S are subject to—in his case surrounded by excrement in his cell and constantly afraid of violence facilitated by indifferent authorities. The temptation is to find the unexpected prison travails of these baby brownshirts and enyachted Trumpkins ironic, but it's also an opportunity for the strategic giving of a shit, to help push reform that also benefits those who were there before and will remain after.

  • Sleaze: the British media euphemism for British corruption

    When corruption taints politics in other countries, British media is happy to call it was it is: corruption. But they have a special word for it when it happens in the U.K.—"sleaze." With the current government of the U.K. so baldly mired in slea—sorry, corruption— that it has begun to make international headlines, the very British euphemism itself comes under scrutiny.

    Here's Patrick Gathara, writing it up the way Western media tends to write about the developing world:

    Newspaper editorials are decrying "sleaze" – a catchall phrase for questionable and scandalous conduct – in the oil-rich kingdom where, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the huge conflicts of interest, a third of MPs have pocketed nearly $7m in payments for moonlighting with private firms, including those bidding for contracts related to pandemic measures. Further, the ruling party has also been accused of selling seats in the upper chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, to donors for up to $4m.

    Garatha traces a thread back to the origins of modern corruption in colonial-era Africa.

    To this I would add two things: first, it has the more mundane purpose of simply telling people how they should feel about corruption in the UK: sordid yet trivial, hypocritical but hapless, pathos not worthy of punishment. The term was originally popularized in the 1990s to refer to the constant stream of sex scandals and grifts undermining the Conservative government then, and its imprecise bundling of (legal) sexual and (illegal) financial misconduct is a key feature of the meme.

    Second, corruption is a crime, and England has crude, plaintiff-friendly libel laws that shift the burden of proof to the defendant. The use of vague but implicating euphemisms is simply legal op-sec for media there.

    The result is as intended, then, by London's well-connected media: corruption sublimated into a profitable entertainment genre that no-one takes seriously and into an accusation that presents less legal risk. To even point out that "sleaze" is just plain old corruption means you're not getting the joke.