Convention celebrating diversity in fandom abruptly cancelled

Universal FanCon was supposed to fill the Baltimore Convention Center with a celebration of diversity and marginalized folks in fandom, complete with big-name guests and an array of panels. Then it was mysteriously "postponed" without warning, days before it was to commence—a postponement that looks an awful lot like no-refund cancellation.

Attendees, vendors, exhibitors, panelists and speakers had already shelled out thousands of dollars to attend FanCon. People had taken time off of work to attend. I saw several panelists and speakers tweet that they’d actually turned down paid gigs to attend FanCon.

And that’s not even the half of it.

In late 2016, the organizers for Universal FanCon created a KickStarter to raise $25,000 dollars for the convention. It sounds like a very ambitious goal until you learn that they actually raised more than twice that amount.

That KickStarter received $56,498 in donations raised by 1,187 backers.

Grift was suspected by angry attendees, but it looks more like a tower of mistakes falling in on itself at the moment of truth. Raising $100k or so isn't going to pay for a convention center and a bunch of guests. It'll pay for a hotel, and a ballroom in that hotel. They let their ambitions go wild and nothing stopped them until it was too late.

Ah well. They didn't even get a ball pit. Read the rest

Hot competition in the world of replacement jewel cases for Sega games

Sega made nice jewel cases for its video games, providing ample space for manuals and a nice thick spine for shelf display. But they cracked easily, and Sega's departure from the console business meant fans went for many years without an easy replacement source. But then there were two – in competition.

Sega collectors can finally rest easy, knowing that they’ll now be able to get replacements for their shattered cases from multiple sources—whether that’s Limited Run, or VGC Online, or from hypothetical bootleggers in China. It still remains to be seen whether the demand for these replacement parts can sustain multiple businesses.

One of the surprises in the story is the cost of molds required to make jewel cases. The simultaneous emergence of two competitors, each making big capital investments in the same generic product for the same tiny market, puts both in trouble from the outset. But one spent $150k to make perfect molds in the U.S., whereas the other spent only $8k to crank them out in China. Mr. $150k banked, unwisely, on the assumption that he'd have the market to himself and would never have to worry about cheap competition for his high-quality replicas. Mr $8k just wanted to make cheap Sega cases available and didn't care about third shift copies – but the results are apparently pretty rough, so enthusiasts may well opt for the more expensive alternative. Read the rest

Monkey slapping lion

Introducing the worst video thumbnail image in Boing Boing and perhaps world history. [via] Read the rest

The Atlantic fires Kevin Williamson, who said that women who have abortions should be hanged

Once upon a time, The Atlantic hired Kevin Williamson, a conservative columnist who likened a black child to a primate, wrote that transwomen were effigies, and tweeted that women who have abortions should be hanged. The Atlantic said this was OK, because that was just a bad tweet. Then it transpired it wasn't just a bad tweet after all. Then The Atlantic fired Kevin Williamson. And everyone lived... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Atlantic EIC Jeffrey Goldberg:

"The language he used in this podcast—and in my conversations with him in recent days—made it clear that the original tweet did, in fact, represent his carefully considered views."

The real problem was never Williamson. It was the blithe, clueless, disinterested hiring of the first spicy Never-Trump conservative that came along without the slightest serious regard given to what he otherwise wrote, said and believed. In their rush to defend him, countless conservatives exposed a taste for political violence -- which is what hanging women means in a country where no-one has been hanged for decades -- that everyone would do well to remember.

When people tell you who they are, believe them. Read the rest

Raised semi truck container erupts in spectacular bridge strike

Spotting a semi truck with its container raised, a car driver noted its impending doom and began filming. And following it rather too closely.

Read the rest

Colorado Republicans admit they hate poor people and explain why

Today in conservatives hastily adjusting masks:

"Out of self-respect– be Republican," the original post read. "Democrats love poor people because they think that poor people will vote Democrat. Republicans hate poor people because they think the dignity of man is above being poor."

In the apology, the group called the post "inappropriate and offensive."

As of Monday, though, the tweet is still up:

Republicans admitting they hate the poor is going to be an increasingly common slip. The party (and conservatives in general) are accomodating themselves to being more honest about their animus toward certain groups, now they no longer have plans to woo them at the ballot box. But they still need poor folk on-side, so being nasty to them in public will remain a serious faux pas.

Becoming the party of Christian nationalism is hard work when you hate working class white people almost as much as everyone else! Especially when all your young activists are rich kids and seething, smirking trumpkins. Read the rest

There are two Amazon results for the search term "healing crystal dildo"

Exhibit A (above) is the Jovivi Handmade Natural Rose Quartz Gua Sha Scraping Massage Tool Massage Wand For Acupuncture Therapy Stick Point Treatment. It is 10cm long, $14, and comes with a free bag.

Exhibit B is a 99c song titled "The Crystal Healing Dildo (Original Mix)" by an artist named The Real Kim Shady. It has the parental advisory sticker and is on YouTube with 415 views and the description "no copyright intended." There are no comments. I haven't listened to it.

2 results for "healing crystal dildo" [Amazon.com] Read the rest

Britons struggle to walk up icy hill in Swanage

It's a silent video, but for a few chuckles from the camera operator. I recommend Maurice Ravel's Bolero as a soundtrack: Read the rest

Google bans cryptocurrency ads

In a bulletin released today, Google announced that it will soon banish cryptocurrencies from its advertising platform. Also nailed are various other scamtastic financial offerings and presentations.

In June 2018, Google will update the Financial services policy to restrict the advertisement of Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting. In addition, ads for the following will no longer be allowed to serve:

- Binary options and synonymous products - Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)

Ads for aggregators and affiliates for the following will no longer be allowed to serve:

- Contracts for Difference - Rolling spot forex - Financial spread betting - Binary options and synonymous products - Cryptocurrencies and related content.

This is about the apperance of propriety, Google sighing and trudging toward the open gate. The horse bolted long ago and is now on the radio telling your grandparents to cash in their retirement savings for ethereum, or just cold calling them at home. Read the rest

Martin Shkreli weeps as he is sentenced to 7 years in prison

Martin Shkreli, the entrepreneur famous for hiking the price of a life-saving medicine and defrauding hedge fund investors, was sentenced Friday to serve 7 years in prison.

Convicted in August on securities fraud charges, Shkreli was a sneering, smirking presence in interviews, Capitol Hill hearings and on the internet—at least until the judge tired of his antics and threw him in jail to await sentencing.

At Friday's hearing, the Wall Street Journal's Rebecca D. O'Brien wrote that Shkreli's own defense lawyer said "There are times I want to hug him...There are times when I want to punch him in the face."

Added Ben Brafman, the lawyer: "Quite frankly, I've got my begging voice on."

It was all to no avail, even after Shkreli wept and promised that he was a changed man. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said the lengthy sentence had nothing to do with Shkreli's reputation or price-gouging. He faced up to 20 years in prison.

Now 34, Shkreli became well-known after raising the price of Daraprim, a pill used by HIV patients, from from $13.50 to $750. He was arrested on securities fraud charges over an unrelated hedge fund swizz: the prosecution contended he pilfered funds to start another company, while his defense noted he made good on the investments in the long run.

He was banned from Twitter after harassing a woman journalist there; he also fell into the habit of buying internet domains that include the names of journalists who wrote about him, including me. Read the rest

What happens when helicopters land too close to one another

It'll buff right out. Read the rest

Child gets first taste of wasabi

"Wanna try it?"

"No." Read the rest

Motorist charged after running over self

Isaac Bonsu, 30, faces charges of DWI and weed possession after "a police pursuit in which he ended up running over himself."

Fairfax County Police released dashboard video from Tuesday’s incident showing 30-year-old Isaac Bonsu getting out of his car on a residential street in the Alexandria section, a Washington suburb. But Bonsu apparently forgot to put the car in park and the video shows him running in front of the car and being struck.

Bonsu is fine. Guys, remember to engage the parking brake when leaping out of a stolen vehicle in motion. Here is the video.

[Thanks, Akimbo_NOT!] Read the rest

Machine solves Rubik's cube in the blink of an eye

This machine solves Rubik's cube in no more than 0.38 seconds. This is much faster than the previous world record of 0.637 seconds and its creators, Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo, think there's plenty of optimization space left.

That was a Rubik's cube being solved in 0.38 seconds. The time is from the moment the keypress is registered on the computer, to when the last face is flipped. It includes image capture and computation time, as well as actually moving the cube. The motion time is ~335 ms, and the remaining time image acquisition and computation. For reference, the current world record is/was 0.637 seconds.

The machine can definitely go faster, but the tuning process is really time consuming since debugging needs to be done with the high speed camera, and mistakes often break the cube or blow up FETs. Looking at the high-speed video, each 90 degree move takes ~10 ms, but the machine is actually only doing a move every ~15 ms. For the time being, Jared and I have both lost interest in playing the tuning game, but we might come back to it eventually and shave off another 100 ms or so.

This makes me think of movies which depict mankind fighting the machines. A careful fantasy is often constructed, where the machines are superior in speed, durability and capability to humans, but not so much so that ingenuity and cunning cannot overcome them.

The truth is that the gun turret will detect you, turn on you, shoot you and kill you as fast as this robot knocks out the cube. Read the rest

Juicero spotted on slightly dirty thrift shore shelf

Photo: anfael_

Juicero was a fantastically over-engineered $400 juicing machine whose key innovation was DRM fruit slime that you can just squeeze out the bag anyway. The company went out of business six months ago, and Juiceros are now turning up in thrift stores, as observed by anfael_ on Twitter. Even so, there's no point buying one: they're useless without the no-longer-available DRM packets and are too complex to bother hacking.

"oh wow it's finally here," wrote anfael_, "in the goodwill with the busted keyboards and crusty printers"

The genius behind Juicero is now selling "'raw water' packed with all the microbes and amoebas you can stomach". Read the rest

Diver attempting to swim in ash-covered lake

It's like something from an expedition to an alien world: "scuba diver attempts to swim in Argentina's Nahuel Huapi Lake, which has been recently covered in ash after the eruption of the Puyehue Volcano in nearby Chile."

The eruption was in 2011. Here's higher-quality video (with loudly clipping wind noise) of the undulating blanket of ash atop the waves:

Here's a clip of ash and pumice washing ashore:

Here's what Nahuel Huapi normally looks like:

Here's a lake covered in dogs:

Read the rest

People keep walking into the glass walls at the new Apple campus

Apple employees are hurting themselves walking into the glass walls and doors of the new Apple campus, reports Bloomberg. Apple keeps removing the post-it notes they put up so they know where they are.

Surrounding the Cupertino, California-based building are 45-foot tall curved panels of safety glass. Inside are work spaces, dubbed “pods,” also made with a lot of glass. Apple staff are often glued to the iPhones they helped popularize. That’s resulted in repeated cases of distracted employees walking into the panes, according to people familiar with the incidents. Some staff started to stick Post-It notes on the glass doors to mark their presence. However, the notes were removed because they detracted from the building’s design, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing anything related to Apple. Another person familiar with the situation said there are other markings to identify the glass.

I bet the campus overheats if you leave a magazine on top Read the rest

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