• Goblincore in The Guardian

    Goblincore [r/goblincore] refers to fashion that features natural things supposedly considered ugly: molds, slimy gastropods, muddy ponds, and so forth, with a strong flavor of fairyland's wilder mutations. Mainstream attention brings the usual paradoxical forces of capitalism: the cool thing becomes successful [The Guardian], but popularity subverts it and you end up with blatantly cute mushrooms and butterflies and gnarled trees and hot cosplayers. But that's just David Bowie in The Labyrinth surrounded by muppets. Who is complaining?

    The hashtag has more than 498m views on TikTok and is a rising trend on Pinterest in the UK. On Reddit, the r/goblincore subreddit's 19,000-strong membership has increased its subscribers by 395% year-on-year, with one recent poster hoping for an exchange of their "tiny mice and vole bones in vials" for other goblincore items.

    Goblincore fashion and paraphernalia are selling well. On Etsy, there has been a 652% increase in searches for related items in the last month compared with the same time last year. Individual sellers attest – at the Divine Occult Shop there has been a dramatic increase in sales of elf ear cuffs; while goblincore is the top search term at the Mushroom Babes, which sells body-positive mushroom art.

    An echo of how fantastical romantic art around the Georgian era was sublimated into Victorian fairy painting, but this time around gets to keep its hands dirty. I like it! Also, anyone got those notes on a formal distinction between –core and –punk suffixes?

  • Games Workshop declares war on fan videos

    Games Workshop's latest terms of service expressly forbid animated fan-art and other films. The new policy shuts down a thriving subculture devoted to just this, and has left creative fans of the company's fantastical worlds (i.e. Warhammer) angry and deflated.

    "Individuals must not create fan films or animations based on our settings and characters. These are only to be created under licence from Games Workshop."

    Such policies sometimes reflect business dealings with companies that dislike fandom except as a kind of commercial baseline. Fan works generally make a property less attractive to potential licensees, no matter how obviously it signifies the property's value, because licensees want exclusivity and control and licensors are happy to sell it. The resentment this generates is so bitter because fan creators know that their work may be exploited but they never think they're going to get dumped.

    UPDATE: Here you go:

    These changes coincide with the recent launch of the Warhammer+ subscription service, which launches with two animated series. Games Workshop has also been pushing hard on official Warhammer animations, many of which were sourced from existing fan projects—even outright hiring the creator of those stunning Astartes shorts.

    For fans, it reads as somewhat hypocritical for Games Workshop to shoot down fan animations at the same time it's benefitting from their work, as is the distinction between which kinds of fan works are allowed. We've reached out to Games Workshop for comment.

    Enjoy one of the "In the grim future of Hello Kitty there is only war" mashups, while you can!

  • Playdate pre-orders open

    Playdate, from Panic and Teenage Engineering, is the only handheld console I'll be buying this year. The official store opened today, accepting pre-orders for delivery in 2022.

    Playdate distinguishes itself with a high-res 1-bit display, a hand-crank (for control, not recharging) and a solid collection of launch games (included in the $179 price!) in development from fantastic indie devs.

  • Disney reinstates mask mandate, vaccinated or not

    Going to Orlando? Bring a mask. You're not getting on Disney soil without one. From the company's website, updated guidance restores the mask mandate dropped only six weeks ago, following the summer spike in Covid cases in the state.

    Beginning July 30, face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional for all Guests in outdoor common areas.

    It's widely reported that many Florida cities and businesses are reinstating mask mandates, defying Governor DeSantis's political insistence otherwise.

    Masks will again be required at indoor county facilities in Florida's populous Miami-Dade following new federal guidance recommending that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear facial coverings. And in Orange County, home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, the mayor went a step further and announced all 4,200 nonunion county employees will be required to get their first coronavirus vaccine shot by the end of August, and the second shot by the end of September. Disney World announced on its website Wednesday evening that beginning July 30, face coverings will be required for all guests ages 2 and up while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional in outdoor common areas.

  • Americans are getting the covid vaccine in secret to avoid being ostracized by their families

    CNN's Aya Elamroussi reports on people in Missouri who have gotten the covid vaccine secretly because they fear their friends and families will ostracize them. To get vaccinated against the killer disease is now a mark of shame among conspiracy-obsessed Americans who see the pandemic as a political sham and are openly shunning and excluding people who are vaccinated.

    In a hospital produced video, Frase said one pharmacist at her hospital told her "they've had several people come in to get vaccinated who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say, 'please, please, please don't let anybody know that I got this vaccine.'"

    Frase told CNN if a patient asks for privacy to get vaccinated, the hospital tries to accommodate the request — whether at the drive-thru window or at their cars. "Anything we can do to get people in a place that they're comfortable receiving the vaccine," Frase said.

    Only 41% of Missourans are double-vaccinated against Covid (Alabama is worst, at 34.11%; nowhere has yet cracked 70%) and the state is among those suffeing most from the latest wave of Covid.

    It's popular to point out that many anti-vaxxers and Covid conspiracists are on the crunchy soccer-mom left, but the reality is they are overwhelmingly conservative and it is fundamentally a right-wing phenomenon.

  • Custom device just plays the Monkey Island theme on a PC speaker

    No other music is required, obviously, and the methodology used to recreate the 1990 DOS experience here is incredibly fastidious; code is provided!

    Thanassis Tsiodras:

    TL;DR:
    I modified DOSBox to extract the frequency/delay value pairs of the Monkey Island PC-Speaker songs.
    I then used Huffman compression to squeeze all music inside an ATtiny85 (512 bytes of RAM, 8 KB of flash)
    Once I managed that, I then created a small circuit with a speaker – to play the music…
    …as a gift for my nieces and nephews; whom I'll see next week after more than a year's isolation (COVID)!

    For comparison, here's the original (emulated):

  • After 25 years, animated kids' show Arthur is ending

    Arthur is the longest-running kids' TV show in history, according to NPR, and it's coming to an end after 25 years. It vastly outlasted contemporary series such as Magic School Bus and Hey Arnold, maintaining its 1990s ligne claire art style deep into a new century.

    The news of the show ending was first floated earlier this month in an interview featured in the July 13 episode of the podcast Finding D.W., where Arthur writer Kathy Waugh revealed that the show was no longer in production, and the final episode was completed years ago. "I think Arthur should come back," she said. "I know I'm not alone in thinking they made a mistake."

    Still, this might not be the end of Arthur: The statement from Greenwald adds that "producer GBH and PBS KIDS are continuing to work together on additional Arthur content, sharing the lessons of Arthur and his friends in new ways."

    The Postcards from Buster side-series was noted, among other things, for being furiously denounced by Bush-era education secretary Margaret Spellings after a 2005 episode was scheduled in which Buster meets a rabbit with a "mom and a stepmom." Spellings threatened PBS's funding and the network canned the episode.

    15 years later, Spelling was reduced to defending confederate statues while Arthur enjoys gay weddings.

  • Gawker's back

    Behold the new Gawker, with a new look but a familiar approach. Everyone's talking about it. Editor-in-Chief Leah Finnegan was the features editor there until 2014 (and worked at The New York Times and The Outline in the interim). An introduction:

    …no, it can't be exactly what it once was, but we strive to honor the past and embrace the present. We are here to make you laugh, I hope, and think, and do a spit-take or furrow your brow, or maybe go "huh!" or "wow!" or "damn!" or "what the fuck?" or "I'm glad someone finally said it!" You might notice it all looks a little different, and to that I say "a change of scenery enriches the soul." So, I hope you like it. And if you don't, that's really more of a "you" problem, I think.

    A few for starters: Descriptors used to rate writers, ranked. Tarpley Hitt on suspected sex trafficker and alleged pedo guy Matt Gaetz (R-Fla); Space: The Lamest Frontier is as good a note about the vanity of billionaires as any; Sarah Hago on the overwhelming whiteness of ufology; Claire Carusillo on the unvarying Disney nose sported by celebrity rhinoplastees; and, well, there's a lot of launch content. No word yet from Peter.

  • Ebay official jailed after sending dead pig fetus to critics of company

    Ebay security supervisor Philip Cooke, 56, was jailed for 18 months Wednesday for harassing critics of the company online. Cooke, a former police officer, targeted a Massachusetts couple who published a consumer rights newsletter, sending them a preserved pig fetus and a book about coping with the death of a spouse as part of a "carefully planned" campaign of harassment.

    …in three stages, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ). In the first, disturbing packages were sent to the couple, including live cockroaches and a bloody pig mask. The second phase involved some of the accused sending Twitter messages to the pair, complaining about the newsletter and saying they would visit the couple at home. The DoJ alleged they "planned these messages to become increasingly disturbing, culminating with 'doxing' the victims (ie publishing their home address)".

    eBay said it "cooperated fully and extensively with law enforcement authorities throughout the process", presumably after it cooperated fully and extensively with its own employees, six of whom have either pleaded guilty or are going to trial over the stalking campaign.

  • Liquid bandage ad features a talking wound

    I just saw a new advertisement for New-Skin liquid bandages on TV and though you'd all like to see it too. It features a neat, deep, meat-red cut in someone's hand. The cut is talking. The cut's edges flap like human lips. The things it is saying are unpleasant and related to the inadequacy of traditional sticky bandages. The talking cut is drowned in a blob of New-Skin liquid bandage. It attempts to continue talking but its muffled voice can no longer be understood.

    It turns out there are several of these ads, so I compiled them into a single video for you to clench your teeth at in skincrawling dread. One of them features a talking cut that bisects an extensor tendon in the sufferer's hand.

    Sadly, the agency is not named at the usual places.

  • Martin Shkreli's Wu-Tang Clan album sold off to pay his debts

    Martin Shkreli paid $2m for the sole copy of the Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a curious artifact that ended up in the possession of the government after the "pharma bro" was convicted of fraud. The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it had sold the item to an anonymous buyer.

    The price wasn't disclosed, but the department confirmed that it covered the remainder of Shkreli's $7.4m restitution.

    Proceeds from the sale of the Album will be applied to satisfy the outstanding balance owed on the Forfeiture Money Judgment.  The contract of sale contains a confidentiality provision that protects information relating to the buyer and price.

    Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sale of the Album.

    "Through the diligent and persistent efforts of this Office and its law enforcement partners, Shkreli has been held accountable and paid the price for lying and stealing from investors to enrich himself.  With today's sale of this one-of-a-kind album, his payment of the forfeiture is now complete," stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis.

    So unpleasant that his own lawyer said he wanted to punch him in the face, Shkreli hiked the price of a life-saving medicine, defrauded hedge fund investors, and smirked his way through a Capitol Hill hearing in the disastrous misbelief the public would hate him less than they hated Congress.

  • After three months (and a helpful push from pirates) Capcom finally fixes game broken by DRM

    Capcom finally released an update this week that fixes problems caused by the DRM used in its hit game Resident Evil Village. It's a classic example of DRM hurting only honest buyers, with a pirated version of the game earning widespread media publicity when it became obvious it was the only sure way to play the game on PC without stuttering frame rates.

    I've lined up performance data from the unpatched game, the cracked version and the newly released title update and essentially, the patched rendition of Resident Evil Village now runs identically to the cracked version – Capcom's adjustments to "optimise the anti-piracy technology" do work. However, it's still unclear as to why the issues were never addressed before the DRM fiasco was brought to light. The patch notes confirm that the anti-piracy technology is to blame, but does not explain how the problems made their way into user-facing code when they are so obvious and plain to see. Not only that, even in the face of user feedback and reviews, still nothing was done about it. Those who bought and paid for the game deserve some kind of explanation and apology.

    Pundits can argue all they like about piracy, but when it's the only way to play a broken game with sales numbers in the millions, it's going to happen at scale. Capcom introduced a new generation of kiddies to the culture and infrastructure of game piracy with this farce, and it did it with DRM.

  • Jeanne Calment, world's oldest human being, might not have been 122 after all

    Jeanne Calment died aged 122 in 1997, setting an unsurpassed human longevity record. But there is growing skepticism about her claimed age. The usual problem of poor 19th-century recordkeeping is not in play here: her family was well-off and the birth certificate is not in doubt. But specific problems pop up soon enough. First, details on her daughter's death certificate invite the suspicion the daughter adopted her mother's identity. Second, family photos were destroyed when requested by authorities. Third, in the decades since Calment passed away, a statistical curve of super-centenarian deaths has emerged that tapers cleanly in the 110s. Death at 122 is a conspicuous outlier from an increasingly well-populated distribution.

    At times, Jeanne's inconsistencies could be quite telling. She would sometimes refer to her husband as "my father", or say that her mother's last name "Gilles" comes from her grandmother, although Jeanne did not have a grandmother with such last name. One of the most revealing things Jeanne said was that as a child she was taken to school by their maid, Marthe Fousson. However, according to a 1911 census, Marthe Fousson was 10 years younger than Jeanne, so the only person she could have accompanied to school was Yvonne, with whom she lived according to the same census.

    My favorite "problem" is that her physical condition in the years before her death was consistent with people in their 90s, rather unlike other super-centenarians, implying a potential lifespan of more than 140 years had she not died so young.

    (On the other hand, I don't find the mom-daughter photo stuff particularly convincing at all; but for a few hard details like ear shape comparisons, it reads to me like something from a Reddit comment thread)

  • Lucasfilm hires deepfaker who improved upon its digital Luke

    Digital recreations of young Mark Hamill and old Peter Cushing in recent Star Wars productions were well-received but still somewhat uncanny, and soon outclassed by fan efforts using a new technology: artificial intelligence. The most impressive work was Shamook's, and it's gotten him a job at the legendary special-effects outfit.

    Instead of ordering YouTube to yank the content or sending cease-and-desists, IndieWire now reports Lucasfilm decided to hire Shamook instead to do what they apparently love. "[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona 'Shamook,'" a Lucasfilm representative told IndieWire (viaCNET). "Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it's been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances."

    The improved "Luke" video (above) doesn't quite make a clean escape, but the improved "Tarkin" is about perfect.

    I would hazard that at this point, if you're playing an established Star Wars character, you're likely to get an AI facelift—even if you're literally the original actor. And it might well be Shamook doing the capture and cut.

  • Image search for plants

    Candide offers to identify images of plants. It works just like other image searches: give it a JPG and get a best guess.

    To identify a plant, simply upload or take a picture of the plant, leaves, flowers or fruit, and let our sophisticated machine learning plant model do the rest. Once identified, learn useful plant care tips from our care cards.

    Mind you, I wouldn't trust it for anything being ingested.

  • He-Man fans hate the new series because it has too much Teela in it

    Kevin Smith devised the new He-Man animated series as a direct sequel to Filmation's 1980s original. Unlike the She-Ra reboot, he knew He-Man fans were die-hards who never lost interest in their boyhood fave, and he set out to please them. It has a stellar cast led by Chris Wood and Mark Hamill and got great reviews from critcs.

    But the fans hate it anyway, because the opening "Search for He-Man" plot arc features too much Teela and is too "woke". The show's been review-bombed online. Smith is reduced to denouncing He Man's angry fans in Variety magazine.

    "I see people online go, 'Hey man, they're getting rid of He-Man!'" he said. "Like, you really fucking think Mattel Television, who hired me and paid me money, wants to do a fucking 'Masters of the Universe' show without He-Man? Grow the fuck up, man. Like, that blew my mind, bunch of people being like, 'Oh, I smell it. This is a bait and switch.'"

    The creators hope that the noise is a social media illusion not reflected in the real ratings figures, which Netflix is unlikely to disclose.

    In speaking with Variety about these choices, it's clear that the creators and cast of "Revelation" only ever wanted to please fans of the show by getting to do the things the original never could: real stakes and real consequences, with nuanced characters imbued with genuine pathos and psychological maturity.

    Quoting Smith:

    "But when you go back and compare it to your childhood, it's way better. And that's what we did here."

    This was the misapprehension that doomed the rebooted Thundercats in 2011. They don't want something better than their childhood. They want their childhood.

  • Trailer for Chucky TV series

    Chucky is the reason I cannot simultaneously wear overalls and have my hair back without terrifying Gen Xers, and now he's going to be on television all the time.

    The new show reportedly has the demon doll coming into the possession of a bullied gay orphan and becoming his familiar. Just amazingly bad taste, which is really how it should be. After skipping the recent movie, Brad Dourif returns to the title role.

    "The main character is a 14-year-old gay boy who's bullied and sort of lost after the recent death of his mother," says Mancini. "He's a young artist [making] sculptures with doll parts. He finds Chucky at a yard sale and buys him, but it turns out that he gets much more than he bargained for." Arthur is joined on the show by young actors Teo Briones, Alyvia Alyn Lind, and Björgvin Arnarson. "One of the things I wanted to do was bring [the franchise] back to its Child's Play roots and have the protagonists [be] kids. But since, with the first couple of movies, we'd already delved into having little kids I wanted to explore something different, so this time we're exploring young teenagers."

  • Reporter fired after being caught smearing mud on self to suggest she helped in flood recovery

    A television news reporter in Germany slathered herself in mud and gave viewers the impression she helped in recovery efforts in areas hit by flooding last week. But a bystander quietly recorded her mudding up before the segment, and now she's been fired.

    The RTL report had said, according to the German newspaper Bild: "RTL presenter Susanna Ohlen lends a hand in the clean-up work in Bad Münstereifel and shares shocking recordings online." In her report, the mud-smeared Ms Ohlen – who was holding a spade and wearing a bucket hat, wellington boots, thick industrial gloves and a shirt with her sleeves rolled-up – called on viewers to join the clean-up operations.

    Above, a screengrab of Susanna Ohlen's news clip, shovel in hand. Below, the candid shot of her working mud into her clothes.

    The classic American equivalent of this is reporters who carry teddy bears around with them to pose in car accidents where children die.

    The fraudulent TV reporter is a staple of UK media comedy. Very much in the vein of Ms. Ohlen was Damien Day from Drop the Dead Donkey, often to be found "dunking cormorants" when reporting from oil spills or otherwise making the news go.

    And then there's The Day Today's Peter O'Hanrahahanrahan:

  • U.S. Army Ranger charged with murder after beating security guard to death

    U.S. Army Ranger Patrick Byrne, 26, was humiliated in a bar fight. So he went looking for someone to take it out on. He found Denise Smith, 42, a 5ft tall woman recently hired as a security guard at a Tacoma office building. He beat her for eight minutes, stabbed her with her keychain, and finally choked the life out of her. Her body was not found until the next morning, but he was caught on camera.

    "He repeatedly overpowered her, assaulted her, and threw her around by her hair braid," the court documents state.

    After leaving her severely beaten body, Byrne entered a conference room, smashed a window and began flinging around furniture, court documents say.

    He then jumped or fell about 14 feet from a landing, according to the documents. Another security camera captured him lying on concrete.

    Police said Byrne was taken to the hospital early Sunday, after a 911 call about a bloody man who was yelling for help