Steam effectively halts approval of saucy visual novels

The game platform Steam has an anything-goes policy toward what it publishes. But the resulting kelp mat of smut has spread enough to lead it to institute moderation by the back door: freezing approvals in certain genres while it develops 'filters.' Targeted most clearly are visual novels, manga and erotica. Fans and developers of erotic manga visual novels are most displeased!

Based on just the developers coming forward, it seems like visual novels with some degree of adult content are in the crosshairs of this approval freeze. One such dev shared their recent conversation with a Valve employee, seemingly from Valve’s developer portal, and noted that their game was being held despite censoring out adult content and images from the Steam edition ahead of time, a step the dev says has worked for their past releases on Steam.

While Valve has yet to comment on the criteria under which it is selecting games to withhold from Steam for the time being, sudden policy enforcement shifts have slighted visual novel developers in the past. At one point a few months back, Valve reached out to several visual novel developers and threatened to delist their games, all of which had been previously approved for Steam release, unless those devs patch out content deemed inappropriate. However, Valve later backed down from those threats.

There are maybe colder facts in play here than the usual freezepeach discourse. More porn means more chargebacks, which means the payment processors taking an interest in what is being sold and turning the screw on Steam. Read the rest

Skater photography gets a well-deserved traveling retrospective

As skate culture has become woven into the fabric of society, exhibitions like Against the Grain: Skate Culture and the Camera (coming to America next year) strive to contextualize its impact on aesthetics. Read the rest

Lesbian elders learn modern-day lesbian slang

In this video by INTO, three lesbian elders -- Belita, Phyllis, and Sabel -- learn some new lesbian slang. They also relate to slang still being used today, like scissoring and uhauling, that they say dates back to the 1970s. Read the rest

How to Draw a Black Lady

Myisha Haynes and Jaz Malone released the second in their fun and interesting series on how cartoonists can draw black people while avoiding imagery fraught with negative connotations. Read the rest

L.A. stories: New podcast looks at the real Los Angeles

Often when people think of Hollywood and Los Angeles, they perceive it to be glitzy and glamorous. The bubble is thick, but what is L.A. life really like?

In KCRW's new podcast Welcome to L.A., host David Weinberg bursts that bubble to examine what's really going on in (native-or-not) Angeleno culture.

He writes:

Since the first boosters marketed Los Angeles as a Paradise by the Sea people have been rolling into town with big dreams. And the city has crushed a lot of those dreams. In this series I explore a few of the many L.A.s that exist between the Pacific and the Mojave. And you’ll meet a lot of fascinating characters along the way.

A judge who throughout her career had been told to just keep her mouth shut. But she refused. And because of that she became a star.

The former voice of Ronald McDonald. He considers himself a sexual healer now. He convinces straight men in the military to have sex with him on camera and then sells those videos online.

A musician who spent his inheritance to put up a giant billboard of his face on Sunset Boulevard which was all part of a long game strategy to completely redesign the city of Los Angeles.

I'm your host David Weinberg and in Welcome to L.A. I take you into the corners of the city that L.A. noir fiction writers know. The seedy motels, the yachts, the broken down RVs and the mansions of the successful.

Read the rest

Just the Tip: Documenting San Francisco's (undeniably phallic) Salesforce Tower

If you've been to San Francisco lately, no doubt that you've seen the 1,070-foot architectural monstrosity known as the Salesforce Tower. The new skyscraper is hard to miss as it's now the tallest building in the city's skyline and because it looks like a big, shiny phallus.

You can't escape it. It can be spotted from nearly everywhere you go in the city. I can even see it from various points in Alameda.

Married couple Nikki and Stone Melet noticed it too. They were so amused by it that they started the site "Just the Tip SF" as a humorous way to document what I have dubbed, the "TechBro Dick."

Nikki told ABC7News, "I was dropping my daughter off at school and I saw the tower. I was driving down the street and I saw the tower. I'm like, this is crazy, you can see the tip from everywhere."

People are encouraged to send in their own photos of "just the tip" from wherever they may see it.

photo by Rusty Blazenhoff, taken from Pier 39 pedestrian bridge Read the rest

Gay elders try to figure out new gay slang

This is adorable. Bill, Robert, and Mick -- three elderly gay gentlemen -- try on young people's gay words and phrases on for size in this video by INTO.

Thanks, Moe! Read the rest

Dressed like mini Bee Gees, three boys cover "Too Much Heaven"

Been wondering what is happening on Filipino television? Wonder no more. They're dressing up pre-pubescent boys to look like The Bee Gees and then having them cover the band's 1979 hit, "Too Much Heaven."

I kid you not. Just look:

This clip is from Your Face Sounds Familiar, a show that features celebrities impersonating singers. When not in disco clothes, the trio of young men -- Francis Concepcion, Mackie Empuerto and Kiefer Sanchez -- are in their own band called the TNT Boys. They recently made an appearance on the UK edition of Little Big Shots.

Incidentally, TNT stands for Tawag ng Tanghalan which is the amateur singing competition show where they were discovered.

Their performance reminded me of this video of Echo, that 7-year-old Filipino boy from a few year's back who sang "More Than a Woman" with his dad. Read the rest

People from 70 countries imitate the sounds cats and dogs make

Not everyone around the world agrees that cats say "meow" and that dogs "woof." Watch in this Conde Nast Traveler video as 70 people from 70 countries share their interpretation of how pets sound. I feel like all these sounds should be incorporated into a song or something.

(Blame it on the Voices) Read the rest

Learn when a word was first used in print with Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler feature

While looking something else up, I came across Merriam-Webster's new online "Time Traveler" feature today. It allows you to browse to see what words were first used in print for a particular year.

For example:

"Idiot box" was first used in 1955, "granola" in 1970, and "cyberpunk" in 1983. "Bloodletting" was used before the 12th century and "bootleg" first appeared in 1634.

It's a lot of fun to play with but, according to Merriam-Webster, there are the factors to keep in mind when using it:

The date may not represent the very oldest sense of the word. Many obsolete, archaic, and uncommon senses have been excluded from this dictionary, and such senses have not been taken into consideration in determining the date.

The date most often does not mark the very first time that the word was used in English. Many words were in spoken use for decades or even longer before they passed into the written language. The date is for the earliest written or printed use that the editors have been able to discover.

The date is subject to change. Many of the dates provided will undoubtedly be updated as evidence of still earlier use emerges.

Read the rest

Students honor teacher at his funeral with a moving haka

When a beloved teacher at Palmerston North Boys' High School in New Zealand passed away in 2015, young men from the school -- both past and present -- performed a rousing haka in his honor. Powerful, literally gave me chills!

A commenter explains:

A little background to this haka I'm apart of the school and new mr tamatea better than most at the school. He was originally one of the creators to this haka and this is our school haka. Only our school and the old boys of the school perform this haka so it is unique to us. Mr tamatea was the head of Maori achievement in our school and he would always try (and successfully so) uphold the Maori traditions not within our school but the entire community. He was involved in one of the leading kapa haka groups in the country i.e the world ( kapa haka group being a group in which perform traditional Maori songs and Hakas) and I believe the Maori culture and maintaining the culture was engrained in his life. So to farewell this awesome teacher we did this haka and the significance of this haka as a farewell and the passion in which the boys performed it with can only be understood by the people who really knew him. But I hope that this helps others around the world understand how fitting that we perform this haka for him.

The teacher, 55-year-old Dawson Tahana Tamatea, was head of Te Reo Maori and Dean of Student Achievement at the school and died in his sleep. Read the rest

Norway increased its whaling quota for no good reason

Whaling isn't as cool as it used to be, and it's far from necessary. Many of the products we used to make from whale carcasses, such as lamp oil or whale bone baleen – which was used to make everything from typewriter springs to shirt collars – have been replaced by modern technologies. So it's puzzling to hear that Norway has announced a 28% increase of its whaling quote this year.

According to The Guardian, the new quota will raise the number of whales that the Norwegian fisheries are allowed to harvest to 1,278 animals. The increase smacks of political bullshit, given the fact that, in recent years, Norway's fishing industry wasn't able to kill enough whales to meet the existing quota. In 2017, Norwegians only killed 432 whales. Two years earlier, their fisheries took out 660 animals. That sounds like an industry in decline to me. But Norway has a different spin on the falling numbers: high fuel prices and too few whale processing plants have kept the nation's fishing industry from fulfilling its quota.

Greenpeace disagrees:

“Greenpeace believes Norway should take the logical consequences of the International Whaling Commission’s ban on commercial whaling, the widespread opposition to whaling, as well as the lack of local market for the products, and close down this unnecessary and outdated industry.”

The increased quota might be a stab at stimulating Norway's fishing industry, creating new jobs and infrastructure spending. If that's the case, it's a shortsighted plan, at best. There's only three countries in the world that still authorize whaling: Norway, Japan and Iceland. Read the rest

Jeff Sessions rolling papers

As you're probably aware, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is against the legalization of cannabis. At a Senate drug hearing in 2016, he even said, "Good people don’t smoke marijuana."

Now some enterprising folks are selling General Jeff's "Old Rebel" Session Papers, $5 packs of rolling papers that feature a cartoon image of Sessions smoking a fat joint. It started out as a joke but now they report they are close to selling out.

They write:

#JeffSesh is a campaign to tell Jeff Sessions:

We’re not criminals, junkies or idiots. Regular Jeffs all over the country—good, responsible, patriotic Americans—have a sesh now and then… and it's OK!

(The World's Best Ever) Read the rest

Wildly-popular UK dance party pays homage to Sir David Attenborough

Legendary naturalist and longtime BBC personality Sir David Attenborough is the inspiration for "Jungle Boogie," an ongoing series of all-night raves planned by two students of the UK's Leeds University.

Producers Louis Jadwat and Will Burbage give each venue a rainforest vibe, hand out cardboard cutouts of the 91-year-old biologist, and hire local DJs to blend Attenborough's distinctive "grandfatherly" voice with vintage house, disco, funk, and soul. Their dance party also features projections of Blue Planet and Planet Earth on the walls.

Jadwat told The Independent:

"We saw the immense popularity of him amongst students in that every Sunday people would love watching Blue Planet and Planet Earth so thought it would be great to pay homage to him."

According to Mixmag, "Jungle Boogie" has already sold out two 600-800 capacity shows. Future dates can be found here. A portion of the proceeds benefit World Land Trust.

photo via DAJBoogie Read the rest

Tikiphiles: Disneyland to add 'The Tropical Hideway' to Adventureland

Adios, Aladdin...

My friend Otto von Stroheim (who, with his wife Baby Doe, host Tiki Oasis, the world's largest tiki festival) shared some cool Disneyland news on Sunday:

Polynesian Pop is alive and healthy and growing and this is another sign of the future of Tiki Style: Disneyland has invested in Tiki and is installing another new Tiki section (after the HUGE success of Trader Sam's bars in Anaheim and Orlando)

The official announcement came Thursday on the Disney Parks Blog:

Calling all adventurers! There will soon be a new area of Adventureland to explore at Disneyland park.

The former Aladdin’s Oasis will soon be transformed to The Tropical Hideaway! This new experience will soon appear along the tropical shores nestled between the Jungle Cruise and “Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.” This one-of-a-kind destination will be a popular rest stop for Adventureland locals and weary explorers alike. Guests will be able to rub elbows with their favorite skippers in an exotic traders’ market, featuring all of the sights, sounds and flavors of the tropics

TimeOut Los Angeles reported on the surprise announcement (calling it "a simple but effective Adventureland bomb") and dug a little deeper into the the history of Polynesian Pop at that location in the Anaheim park:

Sporting a name that's likely a nod to the adjacent Tiki Room’s theme song—“Welcome to our tropical hideaway, you lucky people, you”—the Tropical Hideaway will sit on the former grounds of Disney’s long-running restaurant, Tahitian Terrace, a Polynesian-inspired eatery that stood from 1962 to 1993 before transforming into a theater for a former Aladdin live show.

Read the rest

South African audience celebrates 'Black Panther'

After a Friday night screening of Black Panther, Marvel's new film that celebrates African culture and pride, a group of South African moviegoers ecstatically danced outside of the theater.

That celebratory vibe was felt here in California too.

My daughter and I saw the movie in Alameda at its first showing Thursday evening and the energy in the room was wild! The theater was packed and there was lots of cheering and clapping all throughout the film.

Also here in the Bay Area, the film's director and co-writer Ryan Coogler surprised the audience before Friday night's show at Oakland's Grand Lake Theater (where lines wrapped around the block):

Born and raised in Oakland, Coogler delighted more local fans by making surprise appearances at select movie premieres in San Francisco and Emeryville.

(reddit) Read the rest

Your body has been outsourced

What follows is the most mind-altering first chapter I've read in a long time, from biomechanist Katy Bowman’s latest book Movement Matters: Essays on movement science, movement ecology, and the nature of movement

These items —an electronic car unlocker and a tea bag— are convenient. But what I’ve realized is, when we say or think “convenience,” it’s not as much about saving time as it is about reducing movement. We can grasp sedentary behaviour as it related to exercise because it’s easy to see the difference between exercising one hour a day and not exercising one hour a day. My work, in the past, has been about challenging people to also be able to see the difference between exercising one hour a day and not exercising the other twenty-three. More subtle still—and what I’m asking you to do now—is to see how the choice to move is presented to you every moment of the day, but how most often we select the most sedentary choice without even realizing it. 

Our daily life is composed of a lot of seemingly innocuous ways we’ve outsourced our body’s work. One of the reasons I’ve begun focusing just as much on non-exercisey movements as I do on exercise-type movements is that I feel that the ten thousand outsourcing a day during the 23/24ths of your time hold the most potential for radical change. Be on the lookout for these things. To avoid the movements necessary to walk around to all the car doors, or just to avoid turning your wrist, or to avoid gathering your tea strainer and dumping the leaves and cleaning the strainer (in your dishwasher?), you have accepted a handful of garbage, plastic (future landfill), and a battery.

Read the rest

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