List of popular books people started reading and then abandoned

When I was younger, I would feel so badly about abandoning a book that didn't grab me, I'd force myself to slog through it until the bitter end. Then I realized that there are only so many books I'll have time to read in my lifetime so it's better to make each one count. If I'm not consistently pulled into the pages, I drop the book and crack another one. Of course there are exceptions, but it mostly means that I've enjoyed nearly all the books I've finished reading in recent years. Related, here is Goodreads' list of the most popular books users of the service have abandoned.

(via Kottke)

A former InfoWars employee describes Alex Jones' bizarre and dangerous behavior

In a New York Times story titled "I Worked for Alex Jones. I Regret It," Josh Owens recounts his time working as a video producer for InfoWars. He says was a passenger in Jones' car and that Jones drank vodka from a cup while driving, that Jones would challenge people to punching contests and broke a video editor's ribs, and that Jones once fired an AR-15 in his direction, missing him by 10 feet (Jones "claimed he had intentionally fired the gun as a joke," write Owens.) He also describes the time Jones tried to kill an American Bison with a pistol:

One weekend, a few people from the office went hunting at a game reserve. On the following Monday, I was handed a hard drive full of video files and told to edit them for Jones to air on his show later in the week. “There are clips in here that are pretty bad, things we don’t want to get out, so let me take a look at this before we upload it,” one of my managers said.

The first video I clicked on came from a cellphone. The camera pans across a blood-covered floor in what looked like a garage. Dead animals were scattered about: eyes lifeless, tongues hanging from their mouths, crimson streaks splashed on their fur.

In another video, a bison grazed quietly in the shade of a large tree; it reminded me of a tableau at the American Museum of Natural History. Then the camera panned over to Jones, maybe 20 yards away, holding what looked like a handgun. Jones began firing at the bison, tufts of hair flying with every hit. The animal remained standing as Jones shot round after round. Finally, the hunting guide yelled at Jones to stop and handed him a high-caliber rifle. Jones took a moment to make sure the cameras were still recording and fired a few more rounds as the animal finally collapsed.

Worst of all, writes Owens, is the way Jones insisted his employees make videos that demonized people:

Jones told us to file a story that accused the police of harassment, lending credence to the theory that this community contained dangerous, potential terrorists. I knew this wasn’t the case according to the information we had. We all did. Days before, we spoke to the sheriff and the mayor of Deposit, N.Y., a nearby municipality. They both told us the people in Islamberg were kind, generous neighbors who welcomed the surrounding community into their homes, even celebrating holidays together.

The information did not meet our expectations, so we made it up, preying on the vulnerable and feeding the prejudices and fears of Jones’s audience. We ignored certain facts, fabricated others and took situations out of context to fit our narrative, posting headlines like:

Drone Investigates Islamic Training Center

Shariah Law Zones Confirmed in America

Infowars Reporters Stalked by Terrorism Task Force

Report: Obama’s Terror Cells in the U.S.

The Rumors Are True: Shariah Law Is Here!

Owens said he grew to regret working for Jones and quit on April 7, 2017.

(Image: Sean P. Anderson , CC-BY)

"63 Up": doc series following the lives of Brits every seven years since they were 7, returns

In 1964, director Michael Apted started documenting the lives of a group of 7-year-old British kids. Then, for every seven years since, he's returned to interview them as a way to learn "whether or not our adult lives are pre-determined by our earliest influences and the social class in which we are raised." Well, a new film in the Up Series has been made and the "children" are now 63 years old (Apted himself is now 78). 63 Up is making its way through U.S. based Landmark movie theaters now through March. Definitely worth catching!

7 Up

7 Plus Seven Up (aka 14 Up)

21 Up

28 Up

35 Up
Not available on YouTube

42 Up (trailer only)

49 Up (trailer only)

screenshot via 63 Up

Here are full-ride videos of Disney's Rise of the Resistance ride

Rise of the Resistance officially opens December 5 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but you can see just about the entire ride right now. What flavor of walkthrough would you like?

Just the pre-show:

Seven minutes of highlights featuring enthusiastic and photogenic ride-goers:

First person:

An extended look at the queue:

What do you think--is cloaked Kylo Ren a timeless villain people will care about in a few years? Is it weird to pretend to be a First Order member for work? Are the multiple phases of the ride really a meaningful improvement on Star Tours? Can you think of other rides that hide multiple lines like a turducken of waiting?

This fictional American soccer club is popular enough that Topps is selling jerseys and trading cards

Here's Know Your Meme on Asbury Park Football Club:

In 2013, Ian Perkins, a lifelong soccer fan and New Jersey-based British guitarist for the American rock band The Gaslight Anthem, began asking locals on Twitter about the location of the town's titular park, hoping he may be able to find a pickup game with the Americans. In response, Shawn Francis, then a stranger and social media professional who had run a number of Major League Soccer (MLS) accounts, chimed in by saying that "soccer isn't for playing anymore, but only for consuming." Shortly after this cheeky exchange, the two men decided to entertain the idea of building the joke further into a convincing facade of a professional football club, beginning with a Twitter account launched under the team name Asbury Park on January 7th, 2017.

The club's site is superior to most "real" teams, and has plenty of well-designed merchandise for sale:

And now Topps is selling a set that includes a jersey and a set of 12 trading cards:

While searching through the Topps Vault, unidentified film canisters from 1978 were recently uncovered. When developed just last month we discovered unseen photos of soccer players, but unlike the images used on cards from that era which featured teams and players from England, these featured players from a club much closer to the Topps headquarters in NYC.

It appears that prior to the full scale production of the 1978-79 Topps soccer set, Topps partnered with a legendary local soccer club out New Jersey for a test run. The Asbury Park Football Club (APFC), affectionately known as The Tillies, were making waves along the Atlantic coast, continuing their near-mythical undefeated run. Topps and APFC worked together on these cards in hopes of creating a US-based card set, but these never were printed as the film lost, only to resurface recently.

In celebration of the 40 year old discovery, Topps and APFC have once again joined forces, creating a special commemorative package that includes a reproduction of the iconic Tillies 1978 kit and a set of the 12 player cards from the unreleased test run.

(Via UniWatch.)

The Chinese version of 23andMe purports to tell you what percentage Uighur you are

K. Oanh Ha submitted her DNA samples to 23andMe and 23Mofang, a Chinese company inspired by 23and Me, and wrote about the results for Bloomberg.

Unlike 23andMe, 23Mofang estimated life expectancy and assessed mental illness, indicating in her case, an elevated risk of developing bipolar disorder. The two tests differed fairly dramatically on ancestry:

You might assume that the two companies would offer similar analysis of my ancestry, which I’ve long thought to be three-fourths Vietnamese and one-fourth Chinese (my paternal grandfather migrated from China as a young man). Born in Vietnam and raised in the U.S., I now live in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

23andMe’s analysis mirrored what I knew, but my ancestry according to 23Mofang? 63% Han Chinese, 22% Dai — an ethnic group in southwestern China — and 3% Uighur. (It didn’t pick up my Vietnam ancestry because the analysis only compares my genetics to those of other Chinese, according to the company.)

You can see the rest of her results at Bloomberg, including how some of the information changed each time she checked the companies' online portals. She also acknowledges the very real possibility that the Chinese government could seize results from 23Mofang and use information, such as purported Uighur heritage, to subject individuals to heightened scrutiny.

(Via Chris Anderson.)

A janitor at a detention center saved immigrants' belongings and turned them into art

In 2003, artist Tom Kiefer took a part-time job as a janitor at a Border Patrol facility in Ajo, Arizona. It was just something to subsidize his creative work. But he watched first-hand as things got more crowded, and policies became more cruel. He saw canned food taken away from migrants and donated to a food pantry, then later thrown away entirely, even though it was still good. The same thing happened with water bottles. Then there were the personal possessions deemed "non-essential" — the toothbrushes, rosaries, medication, and toys. Some things — like shoelaces — were thrown away as potential weapons.

So Kiefer began to collect these discarded items and photograph them. He gathered more than 100,000 items over the course of a decade or so, and saved them in his studio to photograph.

He's barely made it through the pile. But now the photographs are on display at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, providing a compassionate insight into migrant lives, and how the things that we discard might matter to some people.

You can learn more in the video, or check out the gallery website below.


El Sueño Americano | The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer at the Skirball Cultural Center

George Zimmerman is suing Trayvon Martin's mother for $100M in order to promote a movie

It takes a special kind of person to randomly assault a black teenager, murder him, and claim it's self-defense, and then continuously find ways to be even more heinous after your acquitted for that crime. But George Zimmerman has a truly remarkable skill for being the grossest kind of grifter when he's not otherwise engaged in domestic violence, road rage, or other acts of aggression that clearly demonstrate an unstable of behavior.

Now, after selling off the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin, he's suing Martin's family as well as the prosecuting attorneys—who, recall, lost the case—for civil damages, alleging defamation, abuse of civil process and conspiracy.

But somehow, it gets worse.

Zimmerman's attorney in this case is Larry Klayman, a right-wing activist who helped found Judicial Watch. And their case is largely based on "new evidence" that has "been exposed" in a new documentary that was conveniently scheduled for a promotional screening in Florida this week, during which Zimmerman and Klayman planned to hold a press conference.

That documentary is called the "The Trayvon Hoax," and it accompanies a book of the same name, both of which were created by noted conspiracy theory grifter and frequent InfoWars guest Joel Gilbert. Like Gilbert's previous documentary film efforts — which include exposés on the "real" Paul McCartney who died in 1966, and Barack Obama's "real" father who was actually a famous American Communist (which even pissed off right-wingers because it undermined their Birther bullshit) — "The Trayvon Hoax" claims to uncover some incredible evidence about Trayvon's phone records, and his girlfriend, who was apparently hired as part of some epic false flag operation to spark a race war in America.

The movie theatre has since cancelled the event.

Suing the family of someone you murdered is shameful enough. But doing it all as a PR effort to get your piece of that right-wing conspiracy theory cash? That's somehow lower than Alex Jones' constant hounding of the Sandy Hook families. At least he didn't pull the trigger himself.

George Zimmerman sues family of Trayvon Martin, publisher, prosecutors for $100 million [Douglas Hanks/Miami Herald]

Image via Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

End of the British monarchy, FBI’s Epstein cover-up, and Mary Poppins’ orgy, in this week’s dubious tabloids

Thanks to the Royals’ inbred insularity, reluctance to comment publicly, and predilection for putting their feet in their mouths whenever possible, speculation passes as fact, and they get what they deserve in this week’s tabloids.
“British Monarchy Is Facing The End!” screams the ‘Globe,' which reports that Prince Andrew’s sex scandal combined with Prince Harry and Meghan’s “high-spending and publicity-seeking” are “the last straw for the British tax-payers” who help financially support the Royals to the tune of $86 million a year.

Critics of the monarchy are indeed questioning the value of taxpayers buoying up the beleaguered palace-dwellers, but that’s hardly new, dating back at least to King John facing his critics at Runnymede in 1215.

The ‘National Enquirer’ views the Royal shenanigans as if an episode of TV’s ‘The Apprentice,’ with its cover story on the Queen’s blunt message to Prince Andrew: “You’re Fired! William named King to save monarchy after Andrew sex scandal.”

Fact-free and ignoring (yet again) the 1701 Act of Settlement that mandates the line of Royal succession, the grammatically-challenged story claims: “Dying Queen passes over Charles & fires scandalous Andrew to save the monarchy.”

Prince Andrew’s ill-judged friendship with disgraced pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is the subject of the ‘Globe’ cover story: “Chilling Cover-Up Exposed! Epstein Murder Files Vanish From FBI Vault!” It’s quaint that the ‘Globe’ imagines that FBI files are kept in a vault, and that it thinks that the FBI doesn’t keep its documents in duplicate or triplicate in varying locations or in traceable computer files.

“Government insiders say the FBI’s 381-page dossier on Epstein was deleted from the agency’s internal computer system,” reports the ‘Globe,’ oblivious to the reality that such a dossier must run into thousands of pages, and that files can be removed from “All Eyes” access without disappearing or being the subject of a cover-up.

An Epstein book author wonders where all the hidden camera videos and evidence seized by the FBI in raids on Epstein’s homes has gone, asking: “Where are those videos? Why is the FBI hiding all this evidence?”

But since when has the FBI shared with the public evidence gathered in an ongoing investigation? The ‘Globe’ failing to know where the FBI keeps its files doesn’t amount to a cover-up either, even though the rag concludes that the “chilling cover-up protects pedophiles’ fat cat friends dragged into nightmare probe."

‘Us’ magazine, aware that the Royals traditionally sell well, devotes its cover story to Prince Andrew’s scandal from the perspective of his ex-wife: “Duchess Fergie - Standing By Her Man. Divorced for 23 years - but still disgraced Prince Andrew’s No.1 supporter. The reason why will shock you!”

No, it won’t. As if ‘Us’ even understands the real reason.

The shocking motivation for her loyalty, according to the rag? “He’s the father of her children - she’ll always carry a torch for him,” says an unnamed insider.

In what universe is that shocking? Or the real inspiration for her standing by her ex-man?

The real reason for Fergie’s dogged loyalty in the face of her ex-husband's unmitigated appalling behavior is, of course, that Prince Andrew is Fergie’s meal ticket. Without Andrew she is simply a disgraced embarrassment to the Royal Family - long ostracized by the Queen for scandals from having her toes sucked by a lover to selling access to Andrew - and would lose what little entrée she has left to respectable society.

“What Does Fergie Know?” begs the ‘Us’ feature headline. The answer: ‘Us has no idea. But they’re willing to gamble: An unnamed “palace source” tells ‘Us’: “If there are any hidden secrets that could haunt the royal family, it’s a fair bet that Andrew would have confided them to Fergie.” Or maybe not. However close the exes remain, is it conceivable that Andrew might have any reason not to disclose the full sordid details of his love life to the mother of his children? It’s a fair bet that he’d keep his mouth shut, rather than gushing to Fergie: “You won’t believe the under-age sex slave I slept with last night!"

‘Us’ goes full-on Royal sycophant mode with its story: “Catherine the Great. Sources say the Duchess of Cambridge will make a mighty queen.” And ‘Us’ sources are never wrong, are they? It’s most likely the prelude to a Hail Mary appeal for an interview with the Duchess. Good luck with that.

It’s hard to resist the ‘Globe’ headline: “Why Mary Poppins Watched an Orgy!” Sadly, the story doesn’t live up to expectations. An extensive study of the collected works of ‘Mary Poppins’ author P.L. Travers’s complete oeuvre finds no mention of Mary Poppins even discussing an orgy, let alone watching one (though a spoonful of sugar might help Mary Poppins go down.)

Instead, the story tells how Mary Poppins actress Julie Andrews attended an orgy. Except it wasn’t an orgy - it was an orgy scene for the Dudley Moore movie ’10’ filmed by Andrews’ husband Blake Edwards in 1980. That’s 39 years ago, which counts as breaking news for the ‘Globe,’

British musician Nick Endacott, aged 51, claims that an DNA search found that he was a “100 per cent match” to be the son of Bee Gees’ late co-star Maurice Gibb, reports the ‘Globe.' Endacott, given up for adoption at birth, insists that he has no desire to pursue the Bee Gee’s fortune, saying: “I’ve never been interested in money. I just wanted to know who my dad is.”

But that doesn’t stop the ‘Enquirer’ from claiming: “Last Bee Gee fears love child cash grab!” Which makes little sense. The last surviving member of the band, Barry Gibb, would have nothing to fear from Endacott making any claims on brother Maurice Gibb’s estate, since Endacott couldn’t possibly go after any of the other Bee Gees’ fortunes.

Interesting to note that stable-mate sister rag the ‘Globe’ reports the same story about Gibb’s alleged love child, but notes that Endacott “insists he’s not ‘interested’ in Gibb’s estate.” Indeed.

Equally dubious is the ‘Enquirer’ story: “Jessica Chastain Suicide Shocker!”

No, the ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Molly’s Game’ actress has not killed herself.

It’s her younger sister who allegedly committed suicide in 2003. It only took the ‘Enquirer’ 16 years to figure that out. Breaking news at its freshest. Lest you think it’s just-unearthed information, it’s worth recalling that Chastain discussed her sister’s suicide numerous times since 2014, and the suicide was publicly revealed by other family members long before then.

The ‘Enquirer’ tells us that country singer Trish Yearwood is “digging own grave - with a knife & fork!” having allegedly gained “a scale-crunching 52 pounds.” Wouldn’t it be easier to dig with a spoon? Just asking.

Songbird Celine Dion initially “didn’t want to record” ‘Titanic’ theme song ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ reports the ‘Globe.’ Which is exactly what she said in May 2017, when she revealed: “I didn’t want to do it.” That sound you hear is news breaking.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative squad at ‘Us’ mag to tell us that Gwyneth Paltrow wore it best, that Elizabeth Perkins still owns “the custom-made dress I wore when I jumped on the trampoline in ‘Big,’” that singer Kesha carries lip balm, healing crystals, a Room 237 keychain and a note from her mom in her Gucci Zumi purse, and that the stars are just like us: they eat hot dogs, buy electronics and play games. Thrilling, as ever.

Old West outlaw Billy The Kid never robbed a bank or held up a train, earning notoriety for at least nine murders but hardly earning a fortune from his primary criminal endeavors as a cattle rustler. It’s ironic then that the ‘Enquirer’ reports that a rare authenticated photo of Billy The Kid playing cards in 1877 is likely to fetch up to $1 million at auction. If only he’d banked a few selfies back in the day he could have retired early, with less loss of life.

It’s more ironic still that the auction ended almost two weeks before the ‘Enquirer’ ran this story, with the photo failing to meet its $600,000 reserve price and being withdrawn from sale.

Apparently even daylight robbery has its limits for Billy The Kid, 138 years after his death.

Onwards and downwards . . .

This SNES-Inspired controller offers an old school upgrade for PC and Switch gamers

When the SNES launched back in the early 1990s, it changed gaming forever. One of the innovations was a gamepad with four action buttons — something that has remained a constant on controllers ever since.

The 8BitDo SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad brings that iconic design up to date, with Bluetooth connectivity and support for multiple platforms. Better still, it provides 18 hours of wireless gameplay on a full charge.

Although the SN30 is a very modern peripheral, it sticks very closely to the original SNES gamepad design. The controller is small enough to fit comfortably in the hand, with rounded corners and a large D-pad. In addition, the four action buttons are well spaced to improve accuracy.

With four different modes to choose from, the SN30 works with Windows, Android, macOS, Steam, Raspberry Pi, and Nintendo Switch titles. It suits a wide range of games, although playing NES and SNES classics on Switch feels great with this controller.

Being lightweight and long-lasting, the 8BitDo SN30 also works nicely when you want to visit your friends for multiplayer sessions. The gamepad normally retails for $29.99, but you can get it now for $20.39 when you use the 15% discount code MerrySave15.

Some idiot painted graffiti on a Russian polar bear and now the animal likely won't survive

In Russia, some idiot spraypainted this polar bear with "T-34," the model of a Soviet tank. The video was shared by World Wildlife Fund employee Sergey Kavry who lives in the remote region of Chutkotka. From CNN:

In the comments (on Facebook where Kavry posted the video, he) said he obtained the video via WhatsApp from indigenous minorities in Chukotka, in Russia's far east, though it is not clear from the video where it was filmed...

Anatoly Kochnev, a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that, while the black paint is likely to wash off, the polar bear might find it difficult in the meantime to use its coat as camouflage while hunting.

It's not known why the animal was painted. Kochnev said it was probably the work of "pranksters."

Anyone Can Prep Delicious Meals With This App-Controlled Sous Vide Cooker That's Over 50% Off

After a long day at work, cooking a meal from scratch can seem like too much trouble. Unfortunately, the alternative is usually something unhealthy.

Enter the Mellow Sous Vide Precision Cooker. This compact water bath uses cutting-edge technology to cook meat and veggies at the perfect temperature for exactly the right amount of time. It takes 30 seconds to set up, and you can control the cooker through your phone.

The sous vide style of cooking involves sealing food inside a plastic pouch which is then placed in a water bath. The technique is used widely in professional kitchens, allowing chefs to produce tender meat and veggies with minimal input. Mellow lets you use the same trick in your home kitchen. 

The device connects wirelessly to your smartphone. You simply tell the app what you are cooking, and what time you want it to be ready. 

Mellow does the rest, weighing the ingredients automatically to work out the right settings. The cooker even has a built-in refrigeration system, which keeps food safe until you are ready to eat. 

Mellow will work well for anyone with a busy schedule who wants to eat better. This innovative cooker retails for $349, but you can currently get it for $169.99 when you use the 15% discount code MerrySave15.

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