All Is True could make for a great superhero movie detox

If you can't stand the thought of sitting through another superhero movie, All Is True looks like a fabulous alternative option.

With a stellar cast that includes Dame Judy Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Kenneth Branagh (who also directs the flick), All Is True is a story about the life of William Shakespeare, his family and hangers-on, after he steps back from his life as a writer. Read the rest

Forcing a bread and water diet on Navy personnel is now illegal

Good news everybody! If you're in the Navy or Marines, it's now illegal to throw you in the brig and feed you nothing but bread and water as a punishment.

Yes, The American military is still into this sort of bullshit.

From Task & Purpose:

As Navy Times’ Geoff Ziezulewicz reports, the Obama-era Military Justice Act of 2016 and subsequent Trump administration amendment in March 2018 will outlaw the archaic punishment after Jan. 1, 2019.

The military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice previously allowed Navy commanders to confine personnel in the grade of E-3 and below who were attached or embarked upon a vessel to receive only bread and water for up to three consecutive days.

“Rations furnished a person undergoing such confinement shall consist solely of bread and water. The rations will be served three times daily at the normal time of meals, and the amount of bread and water shall not be restricted,” the order reads.

In order to offset the lack of nutrients, personnel that were subjected to the all-you-can-eat penal buffet (get your minds out of the gutter) were, as part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice's deal, to be excluded from any sort of duties or physical exercise. So that's nice.

From what I understand, the punishment was a rare one--but not that rare. According to The Navy Times, the Commanding Officer of the USS Shiloh submitted the cruiser's sailors to it so often that the Shiloh's crew, the base it sailed out of, and even taxi drivers plying their trade in and around the base knew the ship as the "USS Bread & Water."

That the punishment is coming to an end has got to be a good thing: convicted civilian criminals get Nutraloaf when they're locked down for misbehaving. Read the rest

Cops are using GPS and doorbell cameras to catch package thieves

People who steal other people's packages off porches are the frigging worst. They've no idea of what's in the box they're swiping: they don't care what they get, so long as they get something. It's burgling a house blindfolded. It's the laziest form of break and enter. It's one of the lowest forms of causal criminality going. Also, it's wicked hard to stop. With the holidays coming on like a freight train, more packages than usual are showing up on front porches, ripe for the picking. This year, in at least one city, the cops are ready to put a stop to the package poaching nonsense.

From The Associated Press:

Police in Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York, are teaming up with Amazon to install doorbell cameras and plant dummy boxes with GPS tracking devices at homes around the city.

They didn’t have to wait long Tuesday for someone to take the bait.

“We had a box out on the street for three minutes before it was taken,” said police Capt. James Crecco, who is overseeing the mission. “We thought it was a mistake at first.”

The suspect was caught, Crecco added.

Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly told The Associated Press that locations for cameras and boxes were selected using the city’s own crime statistics and mapping of theft locations provided by Amazon.

“Most of the package thefts we’ve made arrests on revolve around (closed-circuit TV) or private surveillance cameras that give us a still image,” Kelly said.

Read the rest

Lyft offers grocery ride discount to people living in 'food deserts'

If you live in an area where grocery stores are easily accessible, count yourself lucky. There are large areas of the United States where food choices are limited to what can be found at fast food joints or the highly processed, canned and frozen "foods" available in corner shops. These areas are called food deserts and they suck. Read the rest

LG to unveil home brewing hardware at CES 2019

Being able to dance and dodge my way out of attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas every January is one of the most important acts of self-care I commit to all year long. While it's always nice to catch up with colleagues at CES, the crush of human misery, drunk assclowns looking to cheat on their partner while they're off the leash in Vegas, and the multiple viruses that make the rounds each year at the event are a few of my least favorite things. This year, however, I almost regret turning down the opportunity to eat at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill every day for a week in between appointments and trips to the Las Vegas Convention Center: LG Electronics is said to be unveiling a fancy new home beer-brewing kit.

From Tom's Guide:

Similar to other home brewing systems, the HomeBrew uses capsules that contain everything you need—malt, yeast, hops, and flavoring—which you insert into the machine, add water, and press a button.The machine then sets the correct brewing temperature and time, and in about two weeks, will produce up to 10.5 pints (1.3 gallons) of beer.At launch, five packets will be available: American IPA, American Pale Ale, English Stout, a Belgian Witbier and a Czech Pilsner. The HomeBrew also has a self-sanitizing process, to ensure that your batch of beer isn't skunked. An app will also let you monitor the progress of the brew. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of making beer at home.

Read the rest

This live action Super Smash Brothers video is the best thing you'll see all day

There are few things finer in 2018 than being able to hunker down with a few friends, in person or online, and beat the living crap out of each other over the course of an hour playing Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. For those without a Nintendo Switch, this live action video featuring professional stunt actors beating each other down Super Smash style is the next best thing. Read the rest

Whitey Bulger's family, lacking a sense of irony, file lawsuit over his 2018 murder

Trafficking guns and explosives to the Irish Republican Army, running a massive criminal enterprise for years in Boston, extorting drug dealers so that they could do business on his turf, acting as an FBI informant and oh, so many murders: James “Whitey” Bulger's life was both colorful and poisonous, to say the least.

His long career as a professional criminal came to an end in 2011. After over a decade on the FBI's Most Wanted Fugitives list, Bulger was located and charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, narcotics distribution and money-laundering. He was convicted and thrown in the clink in 2012. This past October, Bugler, 89 years old and confined to a wheelchair, was stabbed and beaten to death by his fellow inmates at the United States Penitentiary, Hazelton, in West Virginia.

While it might be difficult for a lot of folks to have sympathy for a man responsible for so much pain, Bulger's family wants to know what happened inside of the penitentiary: why was Bulger sent to the cell block he was killed in? Why wasn't the murder, involving multiple inmates, stopped? They've filed a lawsuit to find out.

From The Boston Globe:

“It’s important for the family and the public to know why the prisons decided to wheel an 89-year-old man with a history of heart attacks into one of the most dangerous prisons in the country,” Hank Brennan, Bulger’s attorney of seven years, told the Journal.

The Globe reported in late November that Bulger had wished for a “peaceful death” in a series of letters written over the past several years to a former convict.

Read the rest

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 coming to the Nintendo Switch

I've always had a soft spot for Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. They were met with middling enthusiasm from critics, but they served up a whole lot of what I wanted: the ability to build my own team of Marvel heroes to open cans of whoop ass on the forces of evil. Long before Diablo 3, the Ultimate Alliance games allowed me to scratch my "quest for gear" itch, without having to log on to World of Warcraft and deal with other people. Providing me with juuuust the right combination of mindless button mashing, light tactics and story to keep me coming back, they used to be among my favorite games to turn to when I needed to switch my brain off for an hour or two.

Soon, there'll be a new addition to the franchise for me to play.

From The Verge: Nintendo has announced Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order exclusively for the Switch. The game was announced through a trailer shown off at The Game Awards, which are currently in progress; it’ll be out in 2019. Team Ninja, the studio behind Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, and Nioh, is on board as developer, marking its first Nintendo collaboration since Metroid: Other M.

I'm curious about how it'll work for the Switch. The PSP version of the first installment in the series was playable, but often felt cramped on the portable console's tiny display. I guess I'll have the opportunity to find out in 2019. Read the rest

Godzilla: King of the Monsters looks just silly enough to be fabulous

I don't ask for much from a Godzilla movie other than it be ridiculous. Big explosions, Kaiju and doomed citizens running to and fro before being crushed underfoot or by a building are mandatory. In the latest trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, there's plenty of that. That it also offers up CCH Pounder, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown is icing on the cake.

We'll have to wait until the end of May before we can see how goofy this glorious-looking flick gets. Read the rest

Traditional industrial-scale rope-making is all kinds of neat

When it comes to making rope, there's no school like the old school. I love that, despite the advances made in the areas of fabrication and industrial automation, there are still products made using methods that haven't changed in a century. Some things, as this video from How it's Made illustrates, are better off without updates. Read the rest

Nobody is happy in the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame

Having 50% of the universe's population turned into ash by a lunatic seems to have brought everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe down. That said, after the emotional thrashing that Marvel fans took from watching Avengers: Infinity War, anything will likely feel light and airy. Read the rest

"Complete Idiot" resigns from Toronto Police Service

Hey, remember those cops who ate a cannabis-infused chocolate bar that was supposed have been taken as evidence during a raid? Do you recall that they snarfed down their stolen snack while on duty and then proceeded to trip balls? Maybe the fact that they freaked out and called for police assistance--the sort of thing that the police normally do when they're in a life threatening situation--might ring a bell? OK, how about this: when their fellow officers responded, one slipped on the ice and was pretty badly injured as he tried to get to his distressed comrades. No? This link will jog your memory. Good to go? OK, buckle in: there's an update on their story.

This past November, Constable Vittorio Dominelli pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice and wants everyone to know that he's very, very sorry.

From The CBC:

Justice Mary Misener says Dominelli is a "complete idiot" for tampering with evidence.

Crown attorney Philip Perlmutter, who read out an agreed statement of facts in court, says Dominelli took three hazelnut chocolate bars infused with cannabis oil from the raid.

Perlmutter says Dominelli and another officer later ate one chocolate bar and became intoxicated in about 20 minutes, and eventually radioed for help.

Const. Jamie Young and Dominelli allegedly assisted in the execution of a search warrant at Community Cannabis Clinic, a marijuana dispensary in the city's west end, in the early evening of Jan. 27.

As a result of their poor judgement and inopportune snacking, Dominelli and Young both wound up facing multiple misconduct charges under the Police Services Act. Read the rest

reMarkable tablet: A software update makes this forgotten gadget incredibly useful

A couple of years ago, I was asked if I'd like to review the reMarkable tablet. If you're unfamiliar with it, the reMarkable is an E Ink slate and pen solution that provides a digital note taking and sketching solution that feels eerily close to writing on paper. I was excited to take it for a spin: despite the fact that I type for a living, my note taking and a good chunk of my writing is decidedly old school.

So far, I've had no luck in finding any hardware solution that serves me better than a piece of paper and a fountain pen can. Unfortunately, at its release, the reMarkable wasn't all that remarkable. While the latency of the tablet's E Ink display and pen were close to non-existent, the rest of its software felt under baked. The UI was far from intuitive. It functioned as an e-reader, but only barely. While you could export what you'd written to a smartphone or computer, there was no way to edit the text once it was there. It felt like a slog to use. I asked a colleague in Canada if he'd like to give it a try. I mailed it out to him and, a few weeks later, it came back to me, marked not "deliverable." I didn't have time to ship it out again as I was preparing to spend several months on the road. I threw it into the back of my workspace's storage cupboard. It lurked there until today. Read the rest

Witnessing the construction of a traditional Finnish log house is strangely soothing

Maybe it's because I'm not doing any of the work myself, or perhaps how serene all of the craftsmen involved in the project seem to be, but this 25-minute video of a traditional Finnish log house being built, from soup to nuts, is one of the most relaxing bits of video that I've watched in weeks. Read the rest

A Krampus Carol to remind you of why rotten kids should be wary this season

Anthony Bourdain left us earlier this year, but the joy he found in the world's many cultures and traditions will always be around for us to savor.

In this quick holiday story, written by Bourdain, North America is given a brief, dark, humorous peek into the mythos surrounding Krampus, a goat-demon who comes during the Christmas holidays to punish children who misbehaved over the last year. A good pal of Santa Claus, Krampus, and the dread he has instilled in rotten kids for generations, most likely pre-dates Christianity.

From Wikipedia:

There seems to be little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches so well preserved. The birch – apart from its phallic significance – may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death. The chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to 'bind the Devil' but again they could be a remnant of pagan initiation rites.

Merry Krampusnacht! Read the rest

New York City taxi and rideshare drivers to receive a living wage

We've talked before about how hard it is for folks driving for Lyft and Uber to break even. Things aren't so hot for cab drivers, either: as ridesharing becomes more prevalent by the day, those who own their own taxi or drive for someone else are finding it harder to make a living. The drop in revenue going into the pockets of New York City Taxi medallion owners has been so extreme that drivers have been forced to work 100-hour weeks just to stay out of the red. Others, feeling that their lives were ruined by mounting debt, out of desperation committed suicide. Today, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission decided that they'd do something about it.

From Gizmodo:

Today, New York’s City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved measures to enact minimum pay requirements for app-based for-hire vehicles (FHV) like Uber, Lyft, and Juno. The new pay structure is set to take effect early in the new year.

The $26.51 per hour gross pay floor (estimated to amount to $17.22 per hour, less expenses) comes after “growing evidence of declining driver pay” was confirmed by a labor study, commissioned by the TLC, which concluded that 85 percent of drivers in NYC were earning less than the local minimum wage of $15 an hour. The new requirements will increase the average driver’s take-home pay by an estimated $9,600 per year.

Advocacy groups like the Independent Driver’s Guild and Amalgamated Transit Union have celebrated the change. “All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” Conigliaro, Jr., founder of IDG, wrote in a press statement.

Read the rest

Huawei board member arrested in Canada for Iran sanctions violation

For the past couple of years, the United States has been investigating allegations that Huawei shipped American-made products to Iran. The why of the matter is that having Iran get their mitts on US goods is a violation of the trade sanctions that the United States government imposed on the middle eastern nation.

The Justice Department Investigation into Huawei was kept quiet until The Wall Street Journal broke the news on it this past April. From the looks of things, investigators must have come up with some pretty solid dirt as Canadian law enforcement officials arrested one of Huawei's highest ranking officers, earlier this week:

From The Globe and Mail:

Canada has arrested the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies who is facing extradition to the United States on suspicion she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.

Wanzhou Meng, who is also the deputy chair of Huawei’s board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities.

“Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1. She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” Justice department Ian McLeod said in a statement to The Globe and Mail. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.

Ms. Meng, a rising star at Shenzhen-based Huawei, now the world’s second-largest maker of telecommunications equipment. Reuters reported in 2013 that Ms.

Read the rest

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