Did "The Phantom Menace" actually predict the rise of Jeff Bezos and Amazon?

Well, no, probably not. Also the dialogue remains objectively terrible. But tumblr user swan2swan makes a fairly convincing argument that the actual plot of Star Wars Episode 1 is eerily reminiscent of our present predicament:

https://swan2swan.tumblr.com/post/171120920177/the-phantom-menace-is-the-best-movie-ever-because

 

The Phantom Menace is the best movie ever because the entire premise is essentially “Amazon has obtained its own private army and now two future samurai have to stop it from forcing Natalie Portman’s planet to use its services by cutting through Jeff Bezos’s army of robots and attempting to convince Congress to do something about it SPOILER WARNING Congress doesn’t do jack so Natalie Portman has to take matters into her own hands also the day is saved by a redneck kid the samurai picked up when the car broke down”.

And I thought it was bad enough just thinking about how Trump could use Palpatine's tactics to cancel Election Day 2020.

Image via Hannford/Flickr and DoD/Flickr Read the rest

The mysterious correlation between avocado and Bitcoin prices

For a while, I blamed myself. I had that noticed my paltry Bitcoin investment was doing well, so I threw some extra cash in, just to say what it would do. That was just this past July. Days later, the value tanked. By September, I was down nearly 25 percent. Things have started to settle, but it's seemed so unpredictable that I've been hesitant to celebrate.

Now I know the truth. It wasn't my fault. It was the avocados—those same god damn avocados that ruined everything for millennials like me. But at least I got to enjoy them for cheaper while I stuffed my face to escape the pain of my crashing investment.

This isn't the first time someone has noticed the correlation, either. Back in April, the price of both jumped 35 percent. The avocados made sense—at the time, Trump had threatened to completely close the US-Mexico border, which would have seriously diminished our access to those delicious Aztesticles. Of course, we can always grow more avocados, whereas there will only ever be a finite 21 million theoretical Bitcoins in the world.

Clearly, there's a deeper meaning here. Correlation is not necessarily causation, it's true. But it's hard to deny the synchronicity, so weighted as it is with meaning. Perhaps the answer lies in the last untried home investment for millennials: Bitcoin Toast.

Think about it. Read the rest

Vincent Price and Boris Karloff both used some weird ingredients in their homemade guacamole recipes

Boris Karloff and Vincent Price are perhaps the two most well-known horror movie actors in history. But that's not all they had in common—they were, apparently, both fans of homemade guacamole.

Karloff's recipe was originally published in a newspaper (I couldn't track the original source, but the earliest date the image appears online is from November 2013). I personally prefer a squeeze of lime, rather than lemon juice, in my guacamole, but otherwise this is pretty straight-forward—except for that little touch of sherry. I've never tried that myself, but I bet it's worth a shot.

(The newspaper article also refers to this as a "sauce," which is…not how I tend to think of my guac?)

• 2 avocados • 1 med. tomato, chopped fine • 1 small onion, minced • 1 tbsp. chopped canned green chiles • 1 tbsp. lemon juice • 1 tsp sherry • Dash cayenne, optional • Salt, pepper

Peel and mash avocados. Add onion, tomato and chiles, then stir in lemon juice, sherry and seasonings to taste, blending well. Serve as a dip for tortilla pieces or corn chips or as a canape spread. Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings.Peel and mash avocados. Add onion, tomato and chiles, then stir in lemon juice, sherry and seasonings to taste, blending well. Serve as a dip for tortilla pieces or corn chips or as a canape spread. Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings.

It was much easier to trace the source for Vincent Price's recipe, which was published in a cookbook that he and his wife put out in 1965. Read the rest

Some genius mashed up the Ghostbusters theme with Nine Inch Nails' "Closer"

I ain't afraid of no fuckin' like an animal.

If this wasn't on your Halloween playlist, then what were you even doing?

Image via Pat Loika/Flickr Read the rest

Most "black market" guns in America are purchased legally across state lines

States' rights are one of the greatest impediments to reducing gun violence in the United States.

This was something I noticed when I chronicled the journey of getting my gun license in Boston. It's also all-but-confirmed by the recent release of the ATF's gun tracking data. From The Trace:

According to the most recent ATF statistics, released in August, the bureau traced 332,101 guns in 2018. The average time-to-crime of those weapons was 8.8 years. That’s why a particularly short time-to-crime raises red flags for law enforcement, since it often suggests the weapon was acquired for criminal purposes.

[…]

In California, for example, 12 percent of the guns recovered in the state had a time-to-crime of less than one year. When you isolate only those guns that originated in Nevada and were recovered in California, the figure jumps to 23 percent — almost one in four. (Nationally, 10 percent of all guns had a time-to-crime of less than one year.)

For the pro-gun NRA crowd, this essentially proves that gun regulation doesn't work; that's a reason they love to talk about Chicago so much, even though most of the illegal guns there come from Indiana. But I don't actually buy that at all. The issue is and always been about ease of access. Most people aren't going to go out of their way to navigate the black market, trading Bitcoin over Silk Road just to get a gun. If you live in California, and have a cousin in Nevada (or even just know a guy who knows a guy), it becomes less of a "black market" trade, and more of a favor. Read the rest

How America's hatred of poor people ties back to Puritan work ethic

Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowship-winning philosopher Elizabeth Anderson recently spoke with Joe Humphreys at the Irish Times about America's toxic obsession with by-your-bootstraps individualism, and specifically how it relates to poverty.

There are plenty of impactful quotes throughout the interview, but the parts that stuck out the most to me—as an agnostic born into an Irish Catholic family, whose mother worked for the church for a long time—were her observations about America's puritanical roots, and, later, the impacts of World War II. Anderson essentially proposes the idea that early America Puritans like the Pilgrims were determined to distance themselves from the institutional power of the Catholic church—which, for all its faults, has at least had a longstanding commitment to helping and empathizing with those suffering from poverty. In addition to Manifest Destiny, these Puritans believed that hard work was the only promise of salvation, which eventually evolved into the whole "rugged individualism" idea that consumes so many American conservatives and Evangelicals. While Anderson acknowledges that this ethic is rooted in a very pro-worker mindset, it's clearly been secularized over time into a highly partisan hatred of the poor, with a nod towards its religious roots:

There is a profound suspicion of anyone who is poor, and a consequent raising to the highest priority imposing incredibly humiliating, harsh conditions on access to welfare benefits on the assumption you’re some kind of grifter, or you’re trying to cheat the system. There is no appreciation for the existence of structural poverty, poverty that is not the fault of your own but because the economy maybe is in recession or, in a notorious Irish case, the potato crop fails.

Read the rest

Florida man tries to have sex with Olaf from "Frozen" and a stuffed unicorn in a Target

"Do you want to fuck snowman? It doesn't have to be a snowman…"

Apparently—if you're 20-year-old Cody Meadar of St. Petersburg, Florida—it could also be a stuffed toy unicorn.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

A St. Petersburg man was arrested Tuesday after police said he “dry humped" multiple stuffed animals at the Park Place Target, including Olaf, the snowman from the wildly successful Disney film Frozen.

The other victim was a large stuffed unicorn.

Police said Cody Meader, 20, of St. Petersburg, entered the store around 2 p.m. Tuesday. He walked up to a display of merchandise from Frozen, picked a large Olaf stuffed animal, placed it on the floor and proceeded to rub himself against it until he ejaculated.

Then he put it back on the display.

The fact that he put it back on display might be the most egregious detail here. At least show that stuffed animal a modicum of respect by bringing home after you non-consensually violate it.

There could have been a totally-tasteless joke in here about cooling down in the warm climate of Florida. Unfortunately, it was a whopping 53 degrees Fahrenheit in St. Petersburg on the day in question. So while there's generally no excusing for ejaculating on a stuffed snowman in the middle of big box store, this guy definitely has no excuse—except for the fact that he lives in Florida.

Image via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest

Kentucky lawmaker freaks over Day of the Dead zombies

Henderson, Kentucky is a town of about 30,000 people in the western part of the state. It's not far from Evansville, Indiana, and it's one of the top three corn and soybean producers in the state. Read the rest

This-City's-Makin'-A-Comeback Bingo Card

Like a lot of people, I belong to a number of neighborhood-centric Facebook groups. While the general Jamaica Plain group is broadly fine, there's also a private, invite-only group for complaining about the general day-to-day absurdity of living in newly desirable neighborhood of any increasingly-expensive city.

And that's where I discovered this glorious work of art (which, as far as I can tell after a Tin Eye search, originated from the fittingly-named Humans of Late Capitalism Facebook page):

According to these standards, my beloved home in JP is actually in pretty good shape. Though we are the home of the original Sam Adams Brewery, we only have one other brewpub (so far). We're also (so far) safe from the axe-throwing bar trend, and at least Boston Logan is a pretty good airport. In lieu of cows, we have an albino squirrel and those god damn Brookline turkeys. But otherwise…well, shit. I'm pretty sure I am "Guy with stories about band/artist who made it."

Image via Matt Brown/Flickr Read the rest

The CIA is offering…privacy advice? For trick-or-treaters? WTF?

I don't think I ever related to the White Guy Blinking Meme as much as I did after this tweet crossed my timeline.

I did in fact click through to their "CIA Kids Guide: 5 Ways To Stay Covert This Halloween" and I…I don't even know where to begin.

I kind of love this as a piece of propaganda because the first tip and the last three are at least useful (if completely fucking obvious for anyone who's ever watched a spy movie). But then there's #2, "Think Simple," which … I know this is meant for the CIA's kids' outreach section, but come on. You're not even pretending that you're not indoctrinating kids to make it easier to surveil them!

I guess it'd be too much to hope for that the CIA might offer helpful advice on VPNs and anti-surveillance attire—but even then, I probably wouldn't trust it.

Image via Katerha/Flickr Read the rest

Which of these Halloween baguettes is the scariest?

Finally, someone's asking the important questions.

61 percent of respondents picked the #3, the "baguette skeleton," with the Spider Bread (#4) coming in second at 29 percent.

But clearly 90 percent of people are wrong, because nothing compares to the horror of my imagination as it speculates at what might lay beneath the ghostly sheet of Halloween Baguette #2. The possibilities in my mind are endless, and they are all fucking terrifying. Read the rest

What's cooler than being cool? Hundreds of musicians protesting ICE and Amazon

Stop, collaborate, and listen: Amazon's complicit in ICE's extraditions (plus other abuses of human rights enabled by that agency's authoritarian agenda)

That's why hundreds of musicians—nearly 500, at the time of this writing, though it was just over 100 when news broke Thursday morning—have signed onto an open letter pledging to boycott Amazon festivals, events, and other exclusive deals until the tech giant stops enabling the systematic abuses of Immigration Customs Enforcement. The list of signatories includes Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, as well as Ted Leo, Immortal Technique, Downtown Boys, Thursday, WHY?, Jeff Rosenstock, the Mowglis, War on Women, Diet Cig, Tim Kasher (of Cursive/The Good Life), and many more.

These are the demands for Amazon, directly from that open letter:

Terminate existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses

Stop providing Cloud services & tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the US government's deportation machine

End projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon's facial recognition product

Reject future engagements w/ aforementioned bad actors.

I signed my own band onto the list earlier this week, after catching wind of the movement on Twitter. (I tried to pull our songs from all Amazon-affiliated services, but our distro service makes that difficult to do.) My friends in the Kominas mentioned something about it, and then I noticed Deerhoof interacting with Sadie Dupois of Speedy Ortiz and Sad13, following up on the recent op-ed by Tom Morello and Evan Greer of Fight For The Future (both musicians and activists in their own rights). Read the rest

Breaking down the political alignments every character in Mario Kart

Toadette is definitely black bloc Antifa, straight-up. Read the rest

Examining the generational loss of ancient Halloween traditions

Halloween, like many modern American holidays, is a kind of mashup of different cultural traditional traditions rooted in the autumnal harvest, and some kind of celebration or connection with the spirit world. You see it in Mexico with Dia de los Muertos; and in pre-Christian Ireland, it was Oíche Shamhna ("Shamna" being the genitive form of "Samhain," which is pronounced kind of like "SOW-un," and actually just means "November").

An episode of The Irish Passport podcast takes a close look at the roots of those Gaelic traditions, and the kind of generation loss that happened when it was exported to the United States, and then re-imported back to Ireland. The result is kind of fun-house-mirror reflection of itself—modern Irish imitating a mutated American imitation of older Irish traditions. You'll also get to learn a bit about how the faeryfolk in Ireland, the Aos Sídhe, still play an active role in modern real estate development in the Republic (yes really).

Just below the surface of modern Ireland, a parallel world exists with its roots in pre-Christian belief. Irish fairies aren’t like Tinkerbell—they’re more like a supernatural mafia. So be careful what you say, because as the story goes, they’re probably listening. Tim talks to one of Ireland’s last seanchaí or story-teller historians, who once managed to get a highway diverted to prevent the felling of a fairy bush. We also hear about modern traditions from the streets of Galway as the Celtic New Year Samhain festival is underway.

You can download the mp3, or find the episode on iTunes/Stitcher/Google Play/Spotify/etc. Read the rest

I didn't know chipmunks could attend Space Mission Bible Camp!

Re-edit courtesy of Everything is Terrible, although I also found the original VHS source on Amazon which includes this delightful plot summary:

Chadder Chipmunk wants to be the first chipmunk in space. So Space Mission Bible Camp sounded like the perfect place to launch his career. But no sooner did Chadder pull on his jumpsuit than he was spotted by The Exterminator … a rodent-thumping commando who can't wait to catch Chadder!

Featuring footage shot at Kennedy Space Center, here's fast-paces, out-of-this-world adventure your kids will turn to again and again. And each time they'll be reminded that the best launch of all is to be launched on a mission of God's love!

And yes of course the villainous Exterminator is Russian. Who else would want to ruin Space Mission Bible Camp for chipmunks? Read the rest

Get 35 free audio books from Tor's new horror imprint

Renowned sci-fi and fantasy publisher Tor just launched a new book imprint called Nightfire, focusing on new horror fiction. And to celebrate, they're giving away 35 free short horror stories as audiobooks. The list includes stories by Alyssa Wong, Chuck Wendig, China Miéville, Carmen Maria Machado, and more.

The only catch is that the stories are only available through the GooglePlay Store, or through Google Assistant commands. This is only really a minor inconvenience if you (like me) are not an Android user—but also if you're like me, it's totally worth it.

Come Join Us By The Fire: 35 Short Horror Tales From Nightfire Books Read the rest

Boston cops clocked 9,000 hours of overtime at the "Straight Pride" parade — and none of it with body cams

The "Straight Pride" Parade that was held in Boston in the end of August was just another example of thinly-veiled alt-right trolling. Unfortunately, it also worked. A hateful parade of a hundred-or-so people managed to divert hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars into overtime police coverage and shutdown streets during the busiest weekend in the city (Labor Day + college move-ins = hell).

Thanks to WBUR, we now know that that cost included 9,000 hours of overtime work for local police officers—the equivalent of 4 years of full-time policing service. And none of it was officially caught on film, despite the police aggressions caught on social media and the 3 dozen counter-protestors who were arrested during the parade.

(Coincidentally, the Massachusetts State Police Union was also embroiled in an overtime scandal in the months leading up to this parade.)

There are plenty of pros and cons to debate around the use of body cameras for police officers. In this case, it means that the public only has access to choppy, not-necessarily-reliable videos that arguably paint a picture of excessive police aggression against protestors. Read the rest

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