• Joss Whedon accused of abusive behavior on-set

    "Joss was the vampire," writes Charisma Carpenter, reporting that the director was an abusive presence on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

    In a lengthy statement the actor posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Carpenter alleges that Whedon's "casually cruel" behavior included threatening to fire her, calling her "fat" when she was four months pregnant, asking her if she was going to "keep" her baby, and firing her after she gave birth.

    A representative for Whedon declined to comment.

    A supportive posting from co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar:

  • Instagram bans RFK Jr over vaccine conspiracy theories

    Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. got banned from Instagram for spreading conspiracy theories, reports The Guardian.

    Facebook confirmed on Wednesday that it had removed the profile of Kennedy Jr, a vaccine skeptic who chairs the Children's Health Defense – a group that baselessly ties chronic childhood conditions to a number of factors including vaccines – as part of the social media platform's efforts to remove vaccine misinformation. Kennedy's Instagram account was actioned "for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines", said a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram.

  • Near-death experiences while hang gliding

    A hang glider was rescued, critically injured, from a beach near San Franscisco this week. There's no footage of what happened, yet, but the footage embedded above appears to show a very similar incident from 2019: something's wrong with the velcro straps and carabiners, which give way (2m 20s). Were it not for the hang glider's strong grip, he'd be in desperate trouble; as it is, he walked away with minor injuries after a crash landing.

    Considering I used this hang loop setup for many flights in the mountains, this location is potentially the most fortunate place for such an incident to occur. I can't imagine having to hold on to the glider for much longer than I did. If this had occurred in the mountains, where the landing zone is much further away from the launch, I doubt that I would have had the strength to hang on for the duration of the flight out to the landing zone.

  • 10 year anniversary remix of Rebecca Black's "Friday"

    Rebecca Black's viral hit "Friday" is 10 years old, and she's celebrating by issuing a remix. In the words of Adam Clark Estes, "it sounds like a panic attack."

    Last year: 'Friday' star Rebecca Black says going viral sucked. 9 years later, she's back.

    At the time, Cory Doctorow linked to Adina Goldman's smart take on the phemonenon:

  • Killer cop Derek Chauvin received whites-only guard detail in jail

    A lawsuit alleges that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin received a whites-only guard detail while he was briefly jailed after killing the unarmed black man George Floyd last year. Jail superintendent Steve Lydon earlier confirmed that he had issued the policy to "limit exposure to employees of color"; the lawsuit brings the details.

    Eight minority correctional officers at a Minnesota county jail have filed a racial discrimination lawsuit alleging only White employees were allowed to guard or interact with Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death, while he was held at the facility last summer.

    Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, the incident leading to nationwide unrest and murder charges for Chauvin and two other officers present at the scene.

  • All the coronaviruses in the world would fit in a coke can

    A mathematician in the UK calculates that if you somehow gathered all of the Covid-causing coronaviruses in the world, there'd not be enough of them to fill a coke can.

    Bath University maths expert Kit Yates worked out there are around two quintillion – or two billion billion – SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in the world at any one time. Detailing the steps in his calculations, Yates said he used the diameter of SARS-CoV-2 – at an average of about 100 nanometers, or 100 billionths of a meter – and then figured out the volume of the spherical virus.

    More than 100m infected and 2.3m dead worldwide, so far.

  • Play Happy Birthday in any genre

    Happy Birthday is now free of the decades-long copyfraud scam that made it downright dangerous to play anywhere near a lawyer's ears. Vole.wtf now hosts a nice collection of it in various musical genres, all by Tom Kinkaid, for your immediate or downloadable enjoyment.

    Audio is released as CC0/public domain (do anything you want with it) and was made by Tom Kincaid. You don't have to credit him or VOLE.wtf, but it's nice if you do.

  • Clockwork Elves, an animated short

    Clockwork Elves is an animated short film by Nick Cross, and a perfect start to any day or evening.

    This film was made singlehandedly by myself over the span of about 7 years. Animated in Toon Boom Animate Pro with post work done in Adobe After Effects. Backgrounds painted in Adobe Photoshop. … This film was made singlehandedly by myself over the span of about 7 years. Animated in Toon Boom Animate Pro with post work done in Adobe After Effects. Backgrounds painted in Adobe Photoshop.

  • Cops playing copyrighted music to stop video of them being posted online

    On several occasions, cops have started playing popular music when they realize they're being filmed. The odd behavior has a point: they hope that copyright-strike algorithms on YouTube, Instagram and other social media sites will prevent the video being posted and shared. The latest example comes courtesy of Sgt. Billy Fair of Beverly Hills P.D, who only succeeded in Streisand Effecting himself with a blast of Sublime's 'Santeria.'

    Instagram's enforcement of their own policy seems to be unpredictable and  inconsistent, and it's hard to tell what the algorithm will catch during a livestream. There have also been plenty of high-profile of incidents of DJs and artists being penalized for playing their own songs (fans of the Verzuz series may remember Swizz Beats warning Beenie Man and Bounty Killer not to perform their own songs for more than 90 seconds). And for prominent activist accounts like Devermont's, the stakes are particularly high: too many violations can risk getting your entire account banned. 

  • Aunt Jemima renamed Pearl Milling Company

    Aunt Jemima, the mammy stereotype used to market syrup for 130 years, was retired after George Floyd's murder, much to the consternation of right-wingers. Here comes the rebranding: the sweet stuff will now be known as Pearl Milling Company syrup.

    Pearl Milling Company was founded in 1888 in St. Joseph, Missouri, and according to a PepsiCo statement, it created the self-rising pancake mix that became known as Aunt Jemima. Quaker Oats purchased the Aunt Jemima brand in 1925. Pearl Milling Company will maintain the red and yellow packaging found on Aunt Jemima boxes and bottles. PepsiCo says its products will continue to be available under the Aunt Jemima name without the character image until June.

    "Pearl Milling Company" kinda sounds like a superfund site.

  • Where Midian is

    Clive Barker's novel Cabal (filmed as Nightbreed) is about a man searching for Midian, a ghost town somewhere in the wilds of Alberta, Canada. There, a refuge for the monstrous and outcast among us may be found.

    The location is mysterious and vague, like its biblical inspiration. You're not supposed to find Midian if you don't belong there, after all, and the refuge is further concealed under an old rural cemetery.

    I remember poring over an atlas as a kid trying to figure out where Midian is supposed to be, prompted by the sparse clues Barker offers. Re-reading the book recently it struck me that thanks to Wikipedia, Google Maps and other services, it's now easier to retrace the literary steps an author thought were well-hidden. So off I went.

    A casual search won't get you far. If you ask google where Midian is, you'll likely find a quote—"north off Peace River, East off Athabasca"—that makes no sense. This is because it's a misquote of the text (both book and screenplay), which entirely contradicts it:

    "Northwest of Athabasca … East of Peace River, near Shere Neck, north of Dwyer"

    Like Midian itself, Shere Neck and Dwyer are literary places that don't exist.

    The book offers the following clues, references to real places.

    •Northwest of Athabasca
    •East of Peace River
    •East of Highway 67 (now Highway 88)
    •Heading northwest on Highway 2 from Athabasca, you've already gone too far if you get to High Prairie.
    •Turning north earlier would save nearly 200 miles compared to going via Peace River.
    •You'd get there by noon setting out from McLennan early in the morning, driving via Peace River
    •Somewhere east of Peace River you can take a wrong turn and then head 40 miles before arriving at a settlement with a gas station. The only place this can be is a community named Atikameg.
    •Finally, you have to turn onto an eastbound road off Highway 67 (88).

    Midian, Shere Neck and Dwyer, all fictional, are described as being within a few miles of one another; Midian a few hours on foot northbound of Dwyer, crossing fields and at least one other road to get there.

    I guess it should be pointed out that Barker describes the landscape as "prairie" and rapeseed, but the wilds of Alberta east of Highway 88 are boreal forest pockmarked with oilfield installations. (The movie was shot around Calgary, way off to the south)

    But let's cut some narrative slack. We're adding a cluster of communities with a population of at least 5k in the middle of the woods. That's a transformative exurban environment that would likely end up surrounded with agriculture and infrastructure, just as nearby towns such as Peace River and Fort William are. This could create something of a smalltown prairie feel.

    Midian must, then, be located between Highway 686, which seems to be the only good road east from 88, and the Wabasca river.

    It could be further north, but we soon end up more than a couple hours' drive from Peace River, and generally disconnected from the reference points given.

    (To save fully 200 miles setting out from Athabasca, per one character's remark, there would have to be another northbound route toward Midian that's further east of 88. But the 150 miles saved by going north on 88 seems good enough.)

    If you want a specific location, I'd conclude Midian was very close to this oil battery.

    Pack your bags, monsters!

    P.S. For the movie, a prop map (below) was made showing Midian in British Columbia. The map moves around real places, is otherwise geographically impossible, and doesn't seem to be actually have been used in the movie.

  • The best AA lithium rechargeables

    Long denied to consumers, rechargeable lithium AA batteries are finally a thing. Which are the best? Project Farm tested several brands, exhaustively, and compares them to standard nickel rechargeables.

    The best brands were Vapcell [Li-Ion Wholesale] and Amptorrent [Amazon]. But they're not really worth it, given the price, compared to NiMH.

    Bear in mind that at least some of these products bear the weirdlish brand names fronted by the unaccountable factories making them. So some picks might not be good for long.

  • Cyberpunk 2077 developer says it was hacked

    CD Projekt Red, the developer of hit game Cyberpunk 2077 (review), reports that it's been hacked and that the hackers are threatening to release confidential documents to "contacts in gaming journalism". CDPR is refusing to give in to the hackers' demands.

    Yesterday we discovered that we have become a victim of a targeted cyber attack, due to which some of our internal systems have been compromised.

    An unidentified actor gained unauthorized access to our internal network, collected certain data belonging to CD PROJEKT capital group, and left a ransom note the content of which we release to the public. Although some devices in our network have been encrypted, our backups remain intact. We have already secured our IT infrastructure and begun restoring the data.

    This is what happens when you put all the important files in DATAMINE_V1.

    Below, the demand letter. It is not quite cyberpunk: EPICALLY pwned?

  • Brexit "considerably worse" than feared, says UK retail boss

    Brexit has turned out to be "considerably worse" than he feared, says the chairman of one of Britain's largest retail chains.

    He said: "I actually think it was not properly thought out. All the spin that was put on it about being free trade and free movement has not been the reality.

    "The new system and red tape just slows down efficiency. The freedom of movement and obstacles are quite difficult at the moment. I don't see that regulatory paperwork easing much in the short term," Mr Cowgill said.

    The number of fancy British businesspeople who believed Brexit would be good for them is a damning charge against British business acumen in general. They got conned completely and with such ease. Even opportunists betting against Brexit seem few on the ground. There's just the vulture of foreign capital wheeling overhead, waiting for the beasts to die.

  • Covid vaccine makes you homosexual, says Iranian cleric

    Iranian Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian offers one more good reason to make sure you've gotten your jab: "Don't go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals."

    Tabrizian has a history of derogatory opinions about Western medicine. Last year, a video showed him burning Harrison's Manual of Medicine and saying that "Islamic medicine" had made such books "irrelevant," according to an article on the website of Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast service.

    Tabrizian is evidently an object of general ridicule in Iran, but has the backing of the state.