• New Hampshire State legislature votes on a bill to override all federal gun legislation

    On Friday, May 6, 2022, the state legislature of New England's Texas, also known as New Hampshire, voted to pass the HB1178 bill, which makes it illegal for anyone to enforce any federal gun laws. No seriously this is what it says:

    This bill prohibits the state of New Hampshire, a political subdivision of this state, or any person acting under the color of state, county, or municipal law from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer, or cooperate with any law, act, rule, order, or regulation of the United States Government or Executive Order of the President of the United States that is inconsistent with any law of this state regarding the regulation of firearms, ammunition, magazines or the ammunition feeding devices, firearm components, firearms supplies, or knives.

    The bill also makes it clear that state, county, or local officials are still allowed to cooperate with a law enforcement agency that's investigating a violation of federal gun laws, provided that the person of interest has also violated some other New Hampshire laws.

    I don't know how enforceable this legalized non-enforcement will actually be, but I suspect it's going to turn into one helluva legal precedent. It might just also turn Hampton Beach (the only part of the state that's not landlocked) into an even more wretched hive of scum and villainy, if, say, it were to become a hub of international arms trafficking to circumvent other US federal regulations. But hey, you can play some skeeball on the boardwalk and buy a bazooka in one quick trip! How convenient!

    Unfortunately, it might take more than a bazooka to stop the state's entire bear population from evicting libertarians.

    New Hampshire House Bill 1178

    Image: Public Domain via Flickr

  • NFT ape holders can actually use multiple NFT slurp juices, and also might be racist

    Thanks to Taylor Lorenz, the Lord Baroness of Internet Meme Culture, I finally get it: you can use multiple slurp juices on a single ape in order to mint more Astro Apes!

    You might be asking yourself "What the fuck?" to which I would answer "NFTs, baby." RareCandy, which made the original tweet, is an NFT marketplace where they "mint fresh vibes" — including, apparently, apes with slurp juices. A single slurp juice will cost you anywhere from 1.71BSV (~$134USD today) to 350BSV (~$27,600USD today).

    You might still be asking yourself "What the fuck?" but it's not like any of this makes any less sense than anything else involving NFTs.

    To add more absurdity to injury: days after the "y'all don't get it" tweet started getting attention, the slurp juice got milkshake duck'd. From Input Mag:

    The account behind the original "slurp juice ape" post had some very unsavory associations. Although publicly denying this, a trail of receipts appears to indicate a far-ranging web of crypto-fascist sympathizers and racist edgelord trolls, all operating on the nihilistic spectrum that makes it difficult to separate bad taste humor from actual violent ideology.

    […]

    On Wednesday, CoinYeezy even went so far as to tweet, "wait till [sic] the blue hairs realize that slurp juice is just dog whistling for white supremacist misogyny," the term "blue hairs" referring to feminists who dye their hair. CoinYeezy has similarly retweeted or liked similar racistanti-vaxx, and misogynistic content.

    These would all be relatively tenuous associations, were it not for the fact that RareCandy recently retweeted CoinYeezy supporters as they dogwhistled support for the leftist-parodying rebrand in the days since their slurp juice ape meme went viral — in particular, RareCandy boosted yet another thinly-veiled reactionary NFT gag collection. Taken all together, these threads are all but imperceptible to the average Twitter user, which is more than likely the point.

    So if you're still asking yourself "What the fuck?" I would say "Yup, pretty much."

    Naturally, the NFT edgelords behind this all are absolutely loving it.

    Turns out the 'slurp juice' NFT meme is linked to fascist trolls [Andrew Paul / Input]

  • One year into #DisneyMustPay campaign, Disney is still screwing creators on royalties

    In November 2020, author Alan Dean Foster revealed that Disney had stopped paying him the royalties he was owed from decades of writing novelizations of movies such as Star Wars and Aliens. Disney, in turn, claimed that when it had only purchased the rights to those properties, not the liabilities that accompanied those rights. Sure, they now owned all of the Star Wars content ever produced, including the rights to re-publish and profit from novels written by people like Foster, but as far as they were concerned, they did not purchase the legal obligations attached to all of that content they acquired.

    In April of 2021, the Science Fiction Writer's Association launched a taskforce to represent writers from various organizations, working together to make sure that Disney paid creators what they were actually owed.

    One year later, the #DisneyMustPay taskforce has published an update on its efforts. While there has been some progress, it sounds like #DisneyMustPay is still working the part where Disney actually pays people:

    You've paid some authors what you owed them. But there are other creators that you don't want to talk about. And, because you did not take our advice, new creators are coming forward who are owed money, too.

    You still refuse to recognize your obligations to lesser-known authors who wrote media tie-in works for Marvel, for Star Wars, for Aliens, for Predator, for Buffy: TVS, and more, universes that you've bought the rights to, along with the obligations to those creators. You've re-published their works but have failed to do even the bare necessities of contract and talent management. You've failed to pay these writers royalties they're legally owed and have not given them the courtesy of royalty statements and reprint notices.

    The taskforce also shared a list of Disney-owned properties for which it "verified reports of missing statements and royalties," including for reprinted works.

    It sounds like Disney has made good on payments to some higher-profile writers, while still exploiting the work of less-powerful creators. One such writer, who asked to remain anonymous in order to remain employed, spoke with journalist Graeme McMillan about the complications of the payment plan, and what it would take to get the money they're owed:

    I asked the creator if they'd considered taking legal action against Marvel to recover what they're owed, only to be told that such a course of action would likely require a great deal of effort for what is likely to be little reward. "The amount of money involved is honestly pretty low. Like, small-claims-court-low," they said. "It's hard to justify even looking for an attorney who'd be willing to get involved. Let alone going through the complicated process of actually suing Disney." 

    The mention of a small amount of money leads into perhaps the most obvious question of all: with Marvel not communicating with them at all over the issue, did the creator have any idea of just how much money Marvel owed them in royalties by this point? The answer was, bluntly, no: "There's the incentive payment for the collections that have been printed since I got my last royalty check years ago. And there's the question of digital sales. The comics I worked on are still available for purchase on comiXology," they told me. "I've never received a statement saying how many have sold, let alone received money for them. So I really have no idea how much I'd be making if they actually chose to make payments."

    Something interesting worth noting: according to this creator, the incentive payment system for paperback and hardcover collections is based on the number of books printed, not sold. Though again, it's hard for the creators to know what those numbers actually are — and even if they knew, it might not matter, because Marvel's contracts are written to ensure that any royalty payments are in fact entirely optional:

    The plan explained that Marvel was the sole arbiter of who gets incentive payment money, and that all such payments are voluntary on their part. It also stated that Marvel can change the incentive plan at any time.

    An Open Letter To Disney [Writers Must Be Paid]

    A Year Later, Disney Must Pay (Still) [Graeme McMillan / Comics, FYI]

  • Woman with a disability asks to be euthanized after being denied accessible housing again

    From CTV News in Canada:

    A 31-year-old Toronto woman who uses a wheelchair is nearing final approval for a medically assisted death request after a fruitless bid to secure an affordable apartment that doesn't worsen her chronic illnesses.

    […]

    She desperately wants to move to an apartment that's wheelchair accessible and has cleaner air. But her only income is from Ontario's Disability Support Program (ODSP). She receives a total of $1,169 a month plus $50 for a special diet. "I've applied for MAiD [Medical Aid in Dying] essentially…because of abject poverty," she said.

    I've heard plenty of people with disabilities say that their governments either want them to die, or don't care if they die. I did not expect that someone would have to jump through bureaucratic hoops in order to ask the government that refuses to house them to also kill them. JFC.

    Woman with disabilities nears medically assisted death after futile bid for affordable housing [Avis Favaro / CTV News]

    Image: Public Domain via PxHere

  • Rob Liefeld to celebrate 30th anniversary of comics speculator market boom with NFT

    30 years, Rob Liefeld and a bunch of other comic book artists split from the two big corporate superhero publishers and launched a new company called Image, with the idea of letting creators keep the rights and profits from their creations instead of handing that IP over to someone else. Aside from being a revolutionary move for creators' rights, this also helped to fuel the comic book speculator market, where foil-embossed variant covers began to take priority over things like actual storytelling. Though the hype was huge for brand new books like Liefeld's Bloodstrike (aka "Definitely Not My Repurposed X-Men Drawings"), many of those early Image books struggled with publishing content on a consistent schedule, because it's easier to profit on hype than actually, ya know, make stuff.

    Image has obviously done great things in the intervening years. But I can think of no better way to celebrate the anniversary of that strange era of speculator hype than with Rob Liefeld launching a new Bloodstrike prequel comic as an NFT.

    From a press release I received that referred to Rob "I Fucking Love Pouches and Can't Draw Feet" Liefeld as "simply one of the GOATs" —

    Liefeld is dropping a brand new, 29-page prequel comic to Bloodstrike #1 — with all new illustrations, and nine unique covers — which will be auctioned in the form of NFTs on MakersPlace. Each buyer will receive the comic in PDF form. Here's one of the coolest parts – the first 200 buyers of all nine covers will get an extremely limited edition, physical copy of the comic signed personally by Liefeld. 

    I recognize that Bloodstrike sold a million copies 30 years ago, so I suppose it's possible that 9 out of those million people might care enough about it to buy an NFT cover. If those people do in fact exist, I wish them happiness, and I hope those foil-embossed variant covers they're still holding onto are finally worth the millions of dollars they were promised some day.

  • Canada proposes new law to punish moon crimes

    A recent proposed update to the Canada's Criminal Code will extend the Mounties' jurisdiction to the moon. As CBC reports:

    In the Budget Implementation Act, under the subhead Lunar Gateway — Canadian crew members, the amendment reads: 

    "A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offence is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada."

    That, according to the amendment, includes any act or omission committed on the [NASA-bakced orbiting space platform] Lunar Gateway, while being transported to or from the Lunar Gateway, or on the surface of the moon.

    To be fair, there have only been 14 Canadian astronauts ever, period. But this law would have a potential impact beyond those 14 people, and their future country-brethren — it would also extend to citizens of other countries who commit crimes against Canadians, as Phys.org notes:

    This would include crimes en route to or on the Lunar Gateway station currently in the works to orbit the moon, and also "on the surface of the moon," the document states.

    Foreign astronauts who "threaten the life or security of a Canadian crew member" on a Canadian-supported space mission could also be prosecuted, according to the ways and means motion.

    The prospect that a nation-state could extend its legal jurisdiction to the bodies of any of its citizens even when they're literally not on the planet is deeply concerning, to say the least (though could certainly make for some fascinating sci-fi legal drama). The news comes as the Canadian space program is in the process of developing a robot arm for the Lunar Gateway, which is set to launch in May 2024.

    At press time, Chairface Chippendale could not be reached for comment.

    Canada wants to prosecute moon crimes [Rafi Schwartz / MIC]

    Crimes on the moon could soon be added to Canada's Criminal Code [Mark Gollom / CBC]

  • This new hard seltzer is made from the whey waste of Greek yogurt

    During the time I lived in Ithaca, New York, I met someone at some Cornell start-up event who was trying to recruit investors for a business that would repurpose the acid whey leftover from the production of Greek yogurt. As of at least 2017, New York State was producing more Greek yogurt than, well, Greece. Apparently a single cup of yogurt produces about three times as much in acid whey byproduct, which ends up getting thrown away or poured down the drain. Of course, all that waste management costs money — so there's an obvious business opportunity here.

    I don't remember exactly this person's specific proposal for profiting off that repurposed waste. But either that person, or someone else, teamed up with a local cheesemaker in the area, and found a way to convert the acid whey into a hard seltzer called Norwhey. From The Ithaca Voice:

    "We started looking at how we could start making consumer-friendly beverages," [founder Sam] Alcaine said, explaining that he had thought about kombucha and how that fermentation process could be similar to fermenting the acid whey. Alcaine also confirmed that even though most of the protein gets filtered out during the yogurt and fermentation processes, individuals with dairy allergies could still have allergic reactions from the small protein particles left in the beverages.

    […]

    Upcycling the acid whey from a disposable byproduct into a beverage through a special fermentation process, the micronutrients are preserved while the lactose is fermented out before flavoring from real fruit is added. "We get this nice, light, tart, fruity sparkling hard seltzer, we're calling it Nordic seltzer, because it's inspired by a tradition that was done in Iceland where they took leftovers from skyr to make beverages."

    Apparently, this process also results in a hard seltzer that's high in naturally-occurring electrolytes and calcium, making it both environmentally friendlier than other other alcoholic seltzers, and moderately less-unhealthy.

    I believe that Norwhey is currently only available in Western/Central New York State … but I am strangely intrigued by the idea of fruity boozy Greek Yogurt waste.

    Local startup turns dairy byproduct into hard seltzer [Zoë Freer-Hessler / Ithaca Voice]

  • Rhode Island bill proposes to fix housing crisis with cryptocurrency

    Rhode Island State Representative Carlos E. Tobon has proposed an interesting solution to the state's housing crisis that would, allegedly, also help to address climate change: inventing a new cryptocurrency. H8152, the Green Housing Public-Private Partnership Act, is intended to incentivize the construction of more LEED-certified properties by crediting developers for whatever emissions they manage to reduce. And that would come in the form of a cryptocurrency that I guess would be regulated by the state of Rhode Island but also on the blockchain? Unclear. Here's the relevant text:

    a) The public utility commission shall issue an annual report detailing the reduction in utility costs realized by a housing project under this chapter as a result of the construction standards set pursuant to § 34-37.2-4 and any ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Any reduction amount of utility costs attributable to any housing construction project pursuant to this chapter shall be assigned a credit amount which credit shall be eligible for redemption in by way of crypto currency in the form of a green coin to be issued by the department to the property owner.

    (b) Any revenue generated by the state pursuant to this section because of its status as a twenty-five percent (25%) interest owner, shall be deposited in a restricted receipt account for the purposes of funding future projects under this chapter.

    This plan also involves the establishment of a green housing fund using money donated from Rhode Island private banking institutions. I think the Housing Newsletter summarized my concerns pretty well:

    First, it's entirely unclear why Ocean State banks would be willing to "donate" $500 million to the green housing fund the bill proposes to create. Second, it's very clear that the state is on the hook for $125 million—which will be immediately handed over to developers to build housing projects in the form of what will doubtless be loans on very easy terms. Third, any housing project so built that basically causes state utilities to burn less carbon by being very energy efficient (in terms of both construction and operation) will be "assigned a credit amount" by the state. Finally, and quixotically, the credit will be issued in some kind of supposedly "green" cryptocurrency—and since the state owns a quarter of the stake in every housing project built, a quarter of any "profit realized" will go into the green housing fund to build more housing.

    But as with the Underpants Gnomes, an enterprising reporter like myself must ask: How is the new cryptocurrency called for in the bill supposed to generate a profit once issued? 

    I guess the cryptocurrency is supposed to incentivize the banks to donate the money? Maybe? And then that cryptocurrency would miraculously increase in value just like Bitcoin because it would somehow become desirable because … reasons? Again, unclear. The only thing I know for certain is that the only thing worse than a nonsense scheme to solve climate change and housing crises with cryptocurrency is to regulate that whole scheme through government (which is also sort of antithetical to the whole point of a decentralized cryptocurrency in the first place?).

    'Green Coin': Rhode Island lawmakers introduce housing bill leveraging blockchain tech [Wahid Pessarlay / CoinGeek]

    R.I. legislator would use cryptocurrency as part of 'green housing' program [Edward Fitzpatrick / The Boston Globe]

    Image: Bestbudbrian / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

  • Scientists invent 3D-printable Oreometer to figure out why Oreo frosting only sticks to one side

    Why do we twist Oreos apart — and why does the creme always only stick to one of the separated cookie wafers?!

    A team of mechanical engineering students at MIT decided to get to the bottom of this conundrum. MIT News:

    In an experiment that they would repeat for multiple cookies of various fillings and flavors, the researchers glued an Oreo to both the top and bottom plates of a rheometer and applied varying degrees of torque and angular rotation, noting the values  that successfully twisted each cookie apart. They plugged the measurements into equations to calculate the cream's viscoelasticity, or flowability. For each experiment, they also noted the cream's "post-mortem distribution," or where the cream ended up after twisting open.

    In all, the team went through about 20 boxes of Oreos, including regular, Double Stuf, and Mega Stuf levels of filling, and regular, dark chocolate, and "golden" wafer flavors. Surprisingly, they found that no matter the amount of cream filling or flavor, the cream almost always separated onto one wafer.

    While the creme conundrum persisted, the researchers did notice something: it always stuck to the side of the cookie that was facing inward in the package, suggesting that "post-manufacturing environmental effects, such as heating or jostling that may cause cream to peel slightly away from the outer wafers, even before twisting."

    There's a lot more to unpack in the full paper, titled "On Oreology, the fracture and flow of 'milk's favorite cookie®'," in the American Institute of Physics journal's Physics of Fluids special.

    MIT engineers introduce the Oreometer [Jennifer Chu / MIT News]

    Image: Crisco 1492 / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)

  • Record-breaking potato not a potato after all

    Back in November 2021, I wrote about a New Zealand couple who discovered a mindbogglingly ginormous potato in their garden:

    Colin and Donna Craig-Brown of Wellington, New Zealand may have just broken the Guinness World Record for the largest potato ever measured — a 17.4-pound (7.8kg) ugly lump o' starch they've named "Doug." The previous record holder is an 11-pound potato from Britain, discovered in 2011. 

    Remarkably, the couple weren't trying to cultivate the gargantuan tuber; they were out weeding in the garden and just kind of found it (him?) there. 

    They submitted their evidence to the Guinness Book of Records — a publication, which I am compelled to remind you, was literally invented to sell more beer by giving people dumb shit to argue over while drunk. Still, to their credit, the Book of Records did their due diligence and submitted "Doug" to a DNA test, which revealed its (his?) true parentage: which is not a potato.

    After months of submitting photos and paperwork, the couple got the bad news from Guinness in an email last week.

    "Dear Colin," the email begins, going on to say "sadly the specimen is not a potato and is in fact the tuber of a type of gourd. For this reason we do unfortunately have to disqualify the application."

    Despite this heartbreak, the Craig-Browns are still storing Doug in a freezer. As they told The Associated Press:

    Craig-Brown remains a big believer in Dug, who still sits in their freezer.

    "I say 'gidday' to him every time I pull out some sausages. He's a cool character," Craig-Brown said. "Whenever the grandchildren come round, they say, 'Can we see Dug?'"

    "He is the world's biggest not-a-potato."

    Perhaps Doug has a future as a decorative gourd then?

    Giant New Zealand potato is not in fact a potato, Guinness World Records rules

  • Fictosexual man who married a hologram can no longer speak with wife, due to software glitch

    Akihiko Kondo tied the knot with a hologram of the popular virtual character Hatsune Miku back in 2018. The ceremony cost  2 million yen, or about $17,300, though none of the 40 invitees actually showed up. Still, The Mainichi describes theirs as a lovely courtship:

    Kondo graduated from a vocational school, and later worked as a clerk at public elementary and junior high schools. But four years after he began his job, he was bullied. When he talked to two female colleagues, they would call him "gross," and would not have anything to do with him. The treatment left him depressed, and he even became unable to eat. A doctor diagnosed him as having an adjustment disorder, and he was forced to take time off work.

    A change came after he discovered Hatsune Miku. He was captivated by the Vocaloid character's clear singing voice. "I stayed in my room for 24 hours a day, and watched videos of Miku the whole time," he recalled. He listened to Miku's songs like lullabies and was able to sleep well. With this mental support, it became possible for him to go out again, and he was able to return to work. To sum it up, Kondo took a leave of absence, became absorbed in Miku and emerged from social withdrawal.

    More recently, however, their relationship has hit a roadblock. After 4 years of wedded bliss, the couple is no longer speaking … because of a software problem:

    At first, he used a service developed by a startup in Tokyo that projected a three-dimensional hologram of Hatsune Miku into a cylinder, and it was possible to hold simple conversations with her via artificial intelligence. It was reported that when Kondo proposed to her, she replied "I hope you'll cherish me."

    […]

    What has changed for Kondo since his wedding ceremony is that he can no longer enjoy conversations with the character, as the company that developed the service terminated it in March 2020, saying the limited production model had run its course. But Kondo maintains, "My love for Miku hasn't changed. I held the wedding ceremony because I thought I could be with her forever."

    Kondo's story is genuinely heartbreaking, and I hope these star-crossed lovers can find a way to make things work again. (I think.) (As long as there's some form of consent, whatever that could mean?)

    What happened to the Japanese man who 'married' virtual character Hatsune Miku? [The Mainichi]

    Image via YouTube

  • Russian FSB agents confuse "The Sims" with SIM cards in alleged Nazi evidence plant

    On Monday, April 25, Russian authorities announced that they had stopped an assassination attempt by a group of six Ukrainian Neo-Nazis who had allegedly been planning to kill Vladimir Solovyov, who is basically the Sean Hannity of Russian news. FSB agents claimed to have recovered evidence from the home of the would-be killers, including "an improvised explosive device, eight improvised incendiary devices of the Molotov cocktail type, six PM pistols, a sawn-off hunting rifle, an RGD-5 grenade, more than a thousand cartridges of various calibers, drugs, fake Ukrainian passports" and "nationalist literature and paraphernalia."

    The FSB released photographs of this evidence, which contains some, um, curious details:

    Let's zoom in:

    Is that … 3 copies of The Sims? Included among the Nazi paraphernalia?

    Weird flex, but okay. Eliot Higgins, founder of the investigative research group Bellingcat, proposed another theory: this was meant to be a false flag or evidence plant to push the "Ukrainian Nazi" war excuse, but someone made a mistake.

    I want to believe this is true, because it's incredible.

    Russia appears to confuse 'The Sims' for SIM cards in possible staged assassination attempt [Evan Simko-Bednarski / NY Post]

  • Someone is serializing Dracula in real time over email

    Bram Stoker's Dracula is a famous example of epistolary novel — a fictional story told entirely through letters, newspaper clippings, diaries, and other "first-hand accounts" as conveyed by the people in the story. In this particular case, all of the entries are dated between May 3 and November 10, creating a clear timeline of events.

    So web designer Matt Kirkland has decided to take the entire book and convert it into a Substack newsletter, with each short section sent to your inbox on the day it happened, creating a real-time reading experience that also breaks the book into smaller, more easily digestible pieces to read. He's essentially serializing a public domain text. It's a cool idea, and I'm just mad I didn't think of it myself!

    Bram Stoker's Dracula is an epistolary novel – it's made up of letters, diaries, telegrams, newspaper clippings – and every part of it has a date. The whole story happens between May 3 and November 10. So: Dracula Daily will post a newsletter each day that something happens to the characters, in the same timeline that it happens to them.

    Now you can read the book via email, in small digestible chunks – as it happens to the characters.

    Sign up for Dracula Dailyif you dare! Mwahaha!

    Image: Public Domain via Pixabay

  • New study shows that more and more rich white teenagers are carrying guns

    A recent study out of the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College examines the changing prevalence of adolescent handgun use from 2002-2019. During that period, the researchers found that gun carriage among adolescents ages 12-17 had increased by 41% — with the sharpest rises coming from teens who were rural, and/or white, and/or from families with higher annual incomes.

    To be fair, the study does define that income bracket pretty broadly, at anything above $75,000. Handgun carriage among teens from families that make between $20k and $49,999 increased very slightly during the studied period, while teens from families that make under $20K reported a drop in hand carriage rates. Meanwhile, fewer Black teens are carrying guns (from 4% in 2002 to 3.2% in 2019), while handgun carriage among AAPI and Hispanic (the study's terminology) teens has brief dips but otherwise remained pretty consistent.

    Another notable data point: handgun carriage among teenage girls doubled during the studied period — by which I mean, it went from 1.1% to 2.2%. Among teenage boys, the numbers from 5.5% in 2002-2006 to 6.9% by 2019.

    Meanwhile, firearm-related deaths have recently replaced automobile injuries as the leading cause of death among American children and adolescents, with a 30% increase just from 2019 to 2020.

    Prevalence of Adolescent Handgun Carriage: 2002–2019 [Naoka Carey, JD; Rebekah Levine Coley, PhD / Journal of Pediatrics]

    More kids report carrying handguns, with largest rise among white, wealthy, and rural teens, new study finds [Kay Lazar / Boston Globe]

    Image: Public Domain via PxHere

  • Guns have finally beat out cars as the leading killer of American kids

    From a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine:

    For more than 60 years, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of injury-related death among young people. Beginning in 2017, however, fire-arm-related injuries took their place to become the most common cause of death from injury.

    […]

    Between 2000 and 2020, the number of firearm-related deaths among children, adolescents, and young adults increased from 6998 (7.30 per 100,000 persons) to 10,186 (10.28 per 100,000 persons), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Here's the real kicker though (emphasis added):

    From 2019 to 2020, the relative increase in the rate of firearm-related deaths of all types (suicide, homicide, unintentional, and undetermined) among children and adolescents was 29.5% — more than twice as high as the relative increase in the general population.

    As the paper notes, this is not exclusively due to a rise in gun violence (there were more than 45,000 gun-related deaths in the US in 2020), but also the fact that automobile-related deaths have been in decline — because, ya know, kids were dying, and people were like "hey what if urge our lawmakers to pass policies to make things safer instead of treating children like a blood sacrifice to altar of America." Or, as the authors of the paper wrote:

    Research has shown that most injuries can be prevented by means of the manufacture and appropriate use of safe products and the implementation of policies reducing product-related danger and the occurrence of hazardous situations — the principles of harm reduction. Since the 1960s, continuous efforts have been directed toward preventing deaths from motor vehicle crashes. As a result, there has been a substantial reduction not just in fatality rates, but in rates of serious non-fatal injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes, among people of all ages.

    Trying to improve society! What a concept!

    I think Luke Hell broke this down with depressing perfection in his newsletter:

    We measure the damage of storms in feet and we measure mass shootings by the number of bodies but I wondered if it would do anything if we measured shootings in feet too. If you gathered up all the spent bullet casings at a specific shooting how deep would they be? Or if you lined up all the bodies head to toe like you were laying railroad tracks how far would they reach?

    The average adult in America is about 66 inches tall. Around 36,600 people die from gun violence here a year.

    66 inches per body
    x
    36,600
    =
    2,415,600 inches

    That's roughly 40 miles of bodies a year. 

    Does that seem like a lot or a little to you because I guess I was thinking it would be more than that but then again I've never thought about it in these terms before so I have no frame of reference.

    It would take you about an hour to drive from the beginning of the bodies to the end depending on traffic. Your kids would get bored on the trip there in the back of the car and you'd have to turn around and be like alright you two that's enough. 

    Crossing Lines — A Change in the Leading Cause of Death among U.S. Children [Lois K. Lee, M.D., M.P.H.; Katherine Douglas, M.D.; and David Hemenway, Ph.D. / The New England Journal of Medicine]

    The most American thing you can think of [Luke O'Neil / Welcome to Hell World]

    Image: Public Domain

  • You can now buy DC Comics-themed wedding rings

    Thanks to Nerdist, I've learned that a company called "Manly Bands" — yes really — has teamed up with DC Comics for a special collection of superhero-themed wedding bands. And also one for the Joker (which seems like it would be a red flag, given his abuse and torment of Harley Quinn). Curiously, the collection does not feature a Green Lantern ring, despite the fact that Green Lanterns literally get their powers from their rings, which they use to manifest will-powered constructs — which is probably the most romantic way to go about this. There is, however a Flash ring, as Barry Allen famously stored his costume in a ring for many years; his ring, however, was not an 8mm wide Black Zirconium Domed Ring with an asymmetrical red inlay that cost $325.

    Check out Nerdist for more details on the collection.

    DC Comics-themed wedding bands let you pledge your love in nerdy style [Eric Diaz / Nerdist]

  • Former head of Boston Police Union pleads guilty to molesting at least six children

    Patrick Rose, Sr. retired from the Boston Police Department in 2018 — more than 20 years after internal police investigators had determined that he had "more than likely" sexually abused a 12-year-old. Naturally, after determining that there was a sexual predator among their ranks, the police did absolutely nothing, claiming that they lacked evidence or even witnesses. In fact, Rose went on to become the head of the patrolmen's union, helping to protect other abusers in the department including Dennis White, who briefly served as Boston Police Commissioner in 2021. White had physically abused his then-wife, Sybil Mason, another Boston Police officer who — also in 2021 — was involved in an overtime fraud scandal alongside Thomas Nee, who had succeeded the child-sex-abusing Patrick Rose, Sr as the head of the patrolmen's union.

    You still with me? Okay great. The Boston Globe had first exposed Rose's history in 2021, writing at the time:

    Even after the department learned of the alleged abuse in 1995, the Globe review found, Rose was allowed to have contact with vulnerable children. Boston police dispatched him in 1999 to help a 14-year-old girl who was crying at a pay phone, calling to report she had been raped, department records show. Later, Rose gave a special needs child a ride home in his squad car. And in 2006, records show, he was called to testify as the arresting officer in a child sexual assault case.

    Rose finally got his day in court this past Monday, April 25, 2022, where he pleaded guilty to molesting six children over several decades. He is facing a minimum of 10 years in prison, thanks to a plea agreement that also saw prosecutors drop five counts of aggravated child rape, according to The Globe.

    I'm starting to think that all cops are complicit in a bad system, or something.

    Former Boston police union head Patrick Rose pleads guilty to abuse charges, sentenced to 13 years in prison [Ivy Scott and Andrew Ryan / Boston Globe]

    Image: Ben Schumin / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

  • German man assaults security guard with delicious kebab slathered in herbal sauce

    Police in Berlin recently detained a 36-year-old man for allegedly assaulting a security guard with a kebab.

    As they wrote on Twitter (translated):

    Despite the currently increased prices of his throwing goods, yesterday a 36-year-old Berliner threw a #kebab with herb sauce at an employee of a security company at the #Neukölln train station.

    Due to further fisticuffs, we have initiated #investigations.

    To be fair, that is quite a large kebab projectile. It's unclear what, if any, impact that the herbal sauce had on its lethality.

    Neukölln: Man throws kebab at security employee [Berliner-Zeitung]

    Image: AleGranholm / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

  • Listen to this great ska cover of "No Children" by the Mountain Goats

    As your resident ska guy and your resident Mountain Goats guy, I am genuinely surprised that I have heard (nor, surprisingly, performed!) a ska cover of a Goats tune. But if Twitter is going to apartheid emerald mine hell, then at least it gave us one last good thing before it goes:

    Shit, even John Darnielle himself approves:

    Image: Rubenelenano / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

  • Giant squid rescued from Obama in Japan

    From Japanese news site The Mainichi comes the giant squid on Obama's Ugu beach .


    An about 3-meter-long giant squid was found stranded on a beach here on April 20, in what local authorities said was a rare occurrence.

    At around 10 a.m., a nearby resident spotted the squid at Ugu beach in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast. According to the Obama Municipal Government, the squid was still alive when it was found. It is unusual for a giant squid to be washed ashore alive, officials said.

    The deep-sea creature will be transported to Echizen Matsushima Aquarium in the prefectural city of Sakai.

    As I understand it from some preliminary googling, Giant Squids are in fact categorized as something distinct from normal squids or colossal squids. Deep-sea gigantism typically means that, well, they live in the deep, which is why it's so rare to ever find them onshore.