Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
Tattoo artist Lee Rowlett uses green screen tattoos that let you play videos on your skin. Look out for them on every celebrity and footballer who wants to secure a new branding deal…
It’s 30 years since Seinfeld first aired. The show branded ‘too New York, too Jewish’ defied the critics and thrived. And it spawned this, Stay Tooned!, a 1996 computer game developed by Funnybone Interactive.
Wikipedia has more:
The player takes the place of an ordinary patron living in an apartment. The player starts off simply channel-surfing with a TV remote and watching short cartoons and commercials that parody real-life shows (such as Seinfeld, which is parodied as Whinefeld). One channel even has the game’s chief programmer providing hints on how to play the upcoming game. Several cartoon characters either forbid or encourage the player to push the red button on their remote as the player surfs the channels. When the player pushes the button, the cartoons break out of the television set, steal the remote, and cause the entire apartment complex to go into animated form. The player must recover the television remote, which is the only thing that can zap the escaped toons and send them back to TV Land, the fictional toon world found within the depths of the television.
The latest up-to-date research says smart phones and other electronic devices are not making us ill. Kurzgesagt (sources) have produced a video to prove the fact:
Electrosmog is one of those things that is a bit vague and hard to grasp. When personal health is involved, feelings clash extra hard with scientific facts and there is a lot of misinformation and exaggeration out there. On the other hand, some people are really worried and distressed by the electricity that surrounds them. And just to wave this off is not kind or helpful.
While there is still a lot of researching being done on the dangers of constant weak electromagnetic radiation, it is important to stress that so far, we have no reason to believe that our devices harm us. Other than… well… spending too much time with them.
Of course, not too long ago the experts told us cigarettes were good for us.
Previously we were told electronic “smog”, created by the electricity that powers our civilisation, is “giving children cancer, causing miscarriages and suicides and making some people allergic to modern life”.
Try to enjoy your day as you await the next big public health scare.
Tumblr is dead. The social media network owned by Verizon bans everything and anything. It offers users a right to “appeal” its ridiculous decisions. Why bother? It’s not worth the effort. Here are some images Tumblr has banned from my page for Flashbak. The offence for each image is the same:
Thee are just some of the images that are for adults only. Yeah , as if the cool kids us Tumblr – dream on:
Tumblr is dead. What odds large chunks of the corporatised web follow?
If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. Of course, the rules can change at any time and what is ok now might not be ok in the future. Customers of FamilyTreeDNA are helping crimefighters by having their DNA data shared with the FBI. The home DNA test company reportedly shares customers’ genetic information with US federal law enforcement.
FamilyTreeDNA have updated their rules, announcing: “Users now have the ability to opt out of matching with DNA relatives whose accounts are flagged as being created to identify the remains of a deceased individual or a perpetrator of a homicide or sexual assault.”
But a new campaign called “Families Want Answers” rises eyebrows. A soon-to-aired advert features Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart, the child kidnapped in 2002 and held captive for nine months:
In the ad, Ed Smart makes a plea for people to share their DNA so they can help families who have lost a child. “When a loved one is a victim of a violent crime families want answers,” he says as the ad shows footage of a child’s shoe on a playground, crime scene tape, and parents embracing. “There is more DNA available at crime scenes than any other evidence. If you are one of the millions of people who have taken a DNA test your help can provide the missing link.”
Gizmodo has more, alerting readers to a statement from FamilyTreeDNA’s president and founder, Bennett Greenspan. As specified in FamilyTreeDNA’s Terms of Service, law enforcement can only receive information not already accessible to the standard user by providing FamilyTreeDNA with valid legal process such as a subpoena or a search warrant. But get a load of this:
“The genealogy community has the ability to crowd-source crime solving. With the evolution of the family matching database, which FamilyTreeDNA first created nearly two decades ago, we can do the greatest good for the greatest number of people in our society… If FamilyTreeDNA can help prevent violent crimes, save lives, or bring closure to families, then we feel the company has a moral responsibility to do so.”
Do you have a moral responsibility to present all your ancestors and loved ones as suspects?
The EU plans to introduce technology to limit the speed of vehicles sold in Europe from 2022. “Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads,” says EU Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska. “The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error. With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when safety belts were first introduced.” UK charity Brake says speed is a contributory factor in about a quarter of all fatal crashes. There were 26,610 people killed or seriously injured on British roads in the year ending June 2018.
No word yet on whether limiters will be fitted to police cars and other emergency vehicles. But the Daily Express cites the move as evidence that EU chiefs are “STILL meddling in British affairs”. The Mirror hails it as “the end of speeding”.
The other way to end speeding is to end speed limits, like on sections of Germany’s autobahns. Recent proposed speed limit enforcements over there were slammed as going “against all common sense” by Minister of Transportation Andrews Scheuer. The EU versus Germany – discuss.
The upshot of this legislation is to hasten moves towards driverless trucks, vans and cars. When people are not in control of their vehicles, we can do away with driver insurance. As Adrian Wooldridge noted:
When people are no longer in control of their cars they will not need driver insurance—so goodbye to motor insurers and brokers. Traffic accidents now cause about 2m hospital visits a year in America alone, so autonomous vehicles will mean much less work for emergency rooms and orthopaedic wards. Roads will need fewer signs, signals, guard rails and other features designed for the human driver; their makers will lose business too. When commuters can work, rest or play while the car steers itself, longer commutes will become more bearable, the suburbs will spread even farther and house prices in the sticks will rise. When self-driving cars can ferry children to and from school, more mothers may be freed to re-enter the workforce. The popularity of the country pub, which has been undermined by strict drink-driving laws, may be revived. And so on.
Why buy a car when you can take out a subscription to one? But will your vehicle be able to pass the Turing Test – you want to hear your taxi driver’s opinions on Brexit, don’t you? Or is humanity obsolete?
“People are lashing out justifiably,” said Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist at City University of New York and author of the book “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus.” He likened driverless cars to robotic incarnations of scabs — workers who refuse to join strikes or who take the place of those on strike.
“There’s a growing sense that the giant corporations honing driverless technologies do not have our best interests at heart,” Mr. Rushkoff said. “Just think about the humans inside these vehicles, who are essentially training the artificial intelligence that will replace them.”
You’re hermetically sealed inside a box and you’ve given Google the keys. They don’t just know where you’ve been on the web – they know every physical move you’ve made, too. The freedom of the open road is a thing of the past. So, dude, where’s my flying car..?
Forty-nine people are known to have been murdered as they prayed in a New Zealand mosque. The killer live-streamed the massacre on Facebook. On LBC Radio, Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson used his hosted show to call Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook, “wicked”. Watson said he “dreams of the day” when he no longer has to use social media.
Watson sounds like the intro to 1970s TV show Why Don’t You?, which advised British children tuning in to turn the telly off and get a life – but only after they’d finished watching this show, which was more pure than all the other shows. So by all means use Twitter and Facebook, but only listen to people who advocate “decency”, like Tom Watson.
The Daily Telegraph calls the slaughter the first social media terror attack. The Sun calls the killer the ‘FACEBOOK TERRORIST”. The Mail says it’s the “MASSACRE SHAME ON FACEBOOK”. The mood is clear: more censorship is required to prevent a repeat of this. But is that how you stop a disease from spreading? And who gets to decide what we, the impressionable masses, get to see?
You can argue about what kind of person seeks out a video of people being murdered, and why anyone not involved in psychopathic studies would want to spend a muon of their time reading the killer’s long manifesto. But should things be banned?
Maybe context is key? In France, the odious Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally, is being investigated for her tweets. Her response to suggestions that the Far-Right has much in common with jihadism was to tweet the pointer “This is Daesh” and a series of gruesome photos. She thought it useful to show her followers images of a man being burned alive in a cage and decapitated US journalist James Foley. Le Pen has been charged with “circulating violent pictures liable to be seen by children”. “Sharing is caring,” says the blurb beneath social media icons. Not always it isn’t.
So, who else be blamed?
“New Zealand Police alerted us to a video on Facebook shortly after the livestream commenced and we quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and the video,” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. Facebook is “removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Garlick added.
A caller to Watson’s show said words heard in any video can be transcribed by machine learning. If the broadcast features a word on the banned list, then the video is flagged. So, for instance, a video of Tom Watson talking about “porn” and “white supremacy” would be flagged and blocked at the gate. The problem with that approach is clear. No platforming words and ideas diminishes us all.
What to do? Well, a word from Waleed Aly is worth listening to:
Donald Trump capped a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook by referring him as “Tim Apple”. And nobody in the room – not one person – laughed.
Nobody in the room ever laughs. Why is that?
Is this why he named his company Trump, so he could remember what the hell it was called? That question to you Ivanka Trump, daughter of Ivana Trump.
You can buy a robot to draw Chinese characters. One Chinese child bought one. One Chines mother of a Chinese student destroyed it.T
In China, students are often burdened with the task of writing complex characters over and over in order to learn them. It appears that the girl digitized her handwriting and had the robot complete her work for her. Predictably, the girl finished her homework in record time. All seemed to go well for the girl. That is, until her mom found the machine while cleaning her room and promptly destroyed it.
The exact model of the robot is unnamed, but known robots that can “write” look like a square box with a black arm that holds a pen or pencil. For example, there’s a U.S. company called Bond that uses robots that can write in what looks like human handwriting. Some of these machines come with handwriting that’s already loaded onto the hardware, while others allow you to customize the handwriting.
No more writing lines, being beaten by nuns for holding the pencil in your left hand and having to earn a ‘pen licence’. Machines can do it all. And maybe – just maybe – they can also give you an Oriental tattoo that doesn’t make you look like a wally.
To the attic! An unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. original 1985 game has sold at auction for $100,150.
From the auction house:
“Beyond the artistic and historical significance of this game is its supreme state of preservation,” says Kenneth Thrower, co-founder and chief grader of Wata Games.
Due to its popularity, Nintendo reprinted Super Mario Bros. from 1985 to 1994 numerous times, resulting in 11 different box variations (according to this visual guide). The first two variations are “sticker sealed” copies that were only available in the New York and L.A. test market launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 and 1986. Of all the sealed copies of Super Mario Bros., this is the only known “sticker sealed” copy and was certified by Wata Games with a Near Mint grade of 9.4 and a “Seal Rating” of A++.
“Not only are all of NES sticker sealed games extremely rare, but by their nature of not being sealed in shrink wrap they usually exhibit significant wear after more than 30 years,” Thrower said. “This game may be the condition census of all sticker sealed NES games known to exist.”
A group of collectors joined forces Feb. 6 to purchase the game, including some of the biggest names in video games and collectibles as a whole. The buyers include Jim Halperin, Founder and Co-Chairman of Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas; Zac Gieg, owner of Just Press Play Video Games in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Rich Lecce, renowned coin dealer, pioneering video game collector, and owner of Robert B. Lecce Numismatist Inc of Boca Raton, Florida.
“Super Mario Bros. is not only the most recognizable game of all time, it saved the video game industry in 1985,” said Wata Games President, Deniz Kahn. “In terms of rarity, popularity, and relevance to collectors, this game has it all. Mario is the most recognized fictional or non-fictional character in the world, more so than even Mickey Mouse. Super Mario Bros. launched the world’s largest game franchise and this copy is the only known sealed example from Nintendo’s test market release…
“Gieg called this example the equivalent of the valuable comic book, Action Comics #1. “This is first appearance of Superman of video games,” he said. “We all knew how hard it is to find an open copy of this version in nice condition, but to find one still sealed is truly something I thought I would never see, even after selling vintage video games for over 20 years”
Spotter: Heritage Auctions
You know you’re in Bangkok, Thailand, because you can see the air moving. But worry not. The Thais are defeating the smoggy pea-soupers with water cannon.
Global News has more:
Thai authorities used water cannons on Monday in an effort to combat Bangkok’s air pollution. Masks were also provided after hazardous dust particles reportedly reached an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 180.
Any level above 150 is considered unhealthy and Bangkok ranked in the top 10 of polluted cities worldwide on Monday.
The particles, known as PM 2.5, are a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles that can include dust, soot and smoke.
Diesel fumes contributed up to 60 per cent of the pollution while burning rubbish and crops attributed about 35 per cent.
The Straits Times says the “PM2.5 air-quality index (AQI) in Bangkok on [last] Sunday reached a peak of 195, an unhealthy level, while some areas such as Bang Khen district were at hazardous levels, with PM2.5 AQI at 394 on Sunday morning”. That’s way over the target of 50.
Stagnant weather conditions mean it is unlikely to clear quickly own its own. But the government is set to deploy rainmaking planes to seed clouds by dispersing chemicals into the air to aid condensation.
The weather modification technique should in theory result in rain, which would help to clear the skies.
‘The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation… expects the rainmaking to be done tomorrow but it depends on wind and humidity levels,’ Pralong Dumrongthai, director-general of Thailand’s Pollution Control Department, told reporters.
Thai media reported that in a desperate attempt to bring down critical air pollution levels in Bangkok, local authorities started experimenting with sweetened water, instead of regular one. The idea behind the bizarre pollution-fighting strategy is that by increasing the viscosity of the water using sugar will allow it to trap more dangerous particles when sprayed into the air. However, some experts believe that the unconventional approach could do more harm than good.
Dr. Weerachai Putthawong, a professor of organic chemistry at Kasetsart University, told Workingpoint News that he has serious doubts that the sweetened water will yield better results than regular water. He claims that the increased viscosity of the liquid won’t make much of a difference, because the equipment used to spray it isn’t powerful enough to pulverize it into small enough droplets to catch dust and particulate matter as small as 2.5 microns in size. The current machines used to spray the water can only catch particles down to 10 microns.
To make matters worse, the added sugar could cause the surfaces the mixture lands on to develop dangerous mold, as the organic additive would allow bacteria and fungi to develop.
Back in the UK, London just sold its convoy of three water canon. “Although London’s air often appears clear to the naked eye, the city has suffered from illegal levels of air pollution since 2010,” says the FT. Recall the canon. Fire at will!
Do we trust others too much? Are we confident that the government is able to accomplish what it set out to accomplish, whatever that is (insert guess here and post it to Westminster). What about robots, do we trust them?In 2014, researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison investigated what makes a humanoid robot seem more “alive.” They found that a firm, steady gaze was unsettling. Bots programmed to occasionally glance away and look around appeared more thoughtful and thus more trustworthy.
Sathnam Sanghera writes in the Times onheart surgeon Samer Nashef:
People have an instinctive inclination to venerate medical professionals, literally handing over their lives to them without question, when these people are as capable of error as anyone else. As Nashef explains at length in his excellent book The Naked Surgeon, patients operated on the day before a surgeon goes on holiday are twice as likely to die as those operated on the first day the surgeon returns from holiday; one surgeon can appear, statistically, to be a better surgeon than another although they have killed more patients, owing to a strange phenomenon called “category shift”; and choosing a surgeon with the lowest patient mortality rate could be a mistake because they could just be taking on fewer risky patients.
Nashef writes how a heart surgeon “day after day walks into an operating theatre, nonchalantly cracks open the chest, puts the patient on an artificial heart-lung machine, stops the heart, opens it, fixes it, starts it again, disconnects the patient from the heart-lung machine and expects that the heart will handle supporting life again”. We trust them.
You don’t need to study medicine for years or work in high finance to gain trust. You can cheat. You can rouge your cheeks and sit beneath a hot light:
The Dutch psychologist Corine Dijk gave volunteers a series of photos of people, some blushing and some not, accompanied by tales of their recent mishaps, ranging from appearing overdressed at a party to farting in a lift. The blushers were judged more favorably, despite their indiscretion.
Other research has found that if you blush people are more likely to forgive you, and it can even avert a conflict. When you’re trying to work out who to trust, it makes sense to choose the people who would feel guilty if they did anything wrong. The ideal person is someone who would blush and give themselves away.
Image: Gerard van Honthorst’s Smiling Girl, a Courtesan, Holding an Obscene Image, 1625.
Old spies never die- but they do pass interesting stools. Atlas Obscura shows us the emergency spy kit CIA operatives in the Cold War stored in their rectums:
This CIA-issued tool kit was issued to CIA officers during the height of the Cold War. It was a way for spies to get themselves out of sticky situations: to pick a lock, carve a tunnel, etc. Watch the video above to learn more about the tool kit from historian and curator of the International Spy Museum, Dr. Vince Houghton.
Anyone else miss the Cold War?
Spotter: Boing Boing
How can you prevent spooks and pervs from spying on you? Nicole Kobie has a tip for reader to Teen Vogue: stick a plaster over your Webcam.
However, there are others who could be watching through your webcam, and the stories of compromised cameras are genuinely terrifying: hackers taunting people and spying on women at home, blackmailing teens into sharing nude photos, and schools even keeping watch on their students. “This is a pretty invasive, targeted form of malware, but the consequences can be super embarrassing,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Such attacks require your computer to be tunneled into by hackers, creating a backdoor called a Remote Access Tool (RAT) — sort of like if someone added an unlocked window to your house that you didn’t know was there. There are also cases that allege computer repair staff taking control of cameras when you get a device serviced.
Don’t panic; this type of attack remains rare, notes Wheeler. “One or two instances of RATs and teenagers being hacked for video through their webcams creates a lot of media clicks and hysteria, but the truth is that you should be much more concerned about your personal data than your webcam or your phone’s front-facing camera (which no one covers with a sticker).”Nicole Kobie
Now take a look at that Alexa box sat in the corner of your room listening to everything, and the Facebook Page that when it remains open can see all other sites you link to and maybe listen to your phone calls. And wonder what it is about adults that makes them so keen to eavesdrop on you? What did they hear? What did you do?
“With the right tools, in other words, almost anyone—from foreign governments to the creepy teenager down the street—could be recording you while you sit at your computer. All of this raises the question: Why don’t we just cover our webcams whenever they aren’t in use?”– Slate
Felix Krause explains what happens when you allow an app access to your camera and microphone. The app could obtain:
Criminals beware! This video shows how a film makers set up his phone and waited for it to be stolen. He then spied on the thief. But if you’re doing nothing wrong, then there’s nothing to worry about, right? Or maybe Big Government and Big Corp. are just gathering data for ads and marketing. However, should any rules change and you become a person of interest, they’ll be in touch. In the meanwhile, get a sticking plaster. It’s not a total solution – but it’s an easy fix.
Australian Fortnite player Luke Munday apparently streamed himself on Twitch rowing with his wife off-screen. Noises were heard. We did not see what occurred. He was arrested, charged with assault and banned from the Amazon-owned service. But after 14 days in gaming purgatory (a, er, fortnight), Twitch thought Munday had suffered enough and restored his account.
Twitch and Munday and Munday’s attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
Munday, who goes by “MrDeadMoth” on Twitch, was a small-time streamer until the night of Dec. 9. That’s when his pregnant girlfriend, unhappy that he had missed dinner with his family, asked him to stop playing Fortnite and chatting with his Twitch fans.
Angered, Munday went off-screen, but kept the camera running. After Munday left the stream, a slapping sound could be heard on the video, while his girlfriend cried and their two children, both toddlers, were heard screaming.
All a bit weird, no? A grown man with children calling himself MrDeadMoth. The assumption that a corporation should police its users – does it vet all users for criminal records and nastiness? And where does privacy kick in? It’s worth noting that Mr Munday hasn’t been tried in any court of law. His innocent must be presumed. Kotaku notes:
After being apprehended on December 9, Munday was charged with common assault. He was then given a four-week court date adjournment to seek legal advice. On December 30, Munday apparently decided to use some of that time to resume his streaming career, announcing a return stream with the words “let’s be positive.”
Innocent til proven otherwise, right? But gamers are unimpressed:
“The man who beat his wife on stream (MrDeadMoth) is currently live streaming from your platform,” said Hazz, a member of popular gaming organization Faze clan, on Twitter. “How have you allowed this to happen bruh @Twitch? 30 day ban for saying prohibited WORDS on stream. 14 day ban for literally BEATING your wife on stream.”
“What’s there even to say about this MrDeadMoth guy?” said popular streamer Ellohime. “Dude abused his wife in front of his kids live on stream and is back streaming, but what do I say? Don’t abuse your wife? Don’t let him back? How is this not the MOST common of sense? What am I even typing? This is so absurd.”
“It’s so great as a survivor of domestic abuse & content creator to see a streamer that beat the shit out of his wife while streaming still alive and well on Twitch with 7000+ follows & affiliation,” said streamer Saucy837, who moved from Twitch to Mixer. “Way to send the right message.”
On top of all that, Munday’s return to Twitch netted him a healthy viewer boost, with some presumably there to gawk and others even expressing sympathy. All of the new viewers helped line his pockets, as well as Twitch’s.
Yesterday the Verge added:
Today, the Australian Fortnite streamer MrDeadMoth — otherwise known as Luke Munday, 26 — was banned again from Twitch for an indeterminate period of time, after an outcry from the gaming community.
What if he’s found not guilty? Will Twitch law trump social justice?
We love cheating, referee errors, good goals disallowed and bad goals that were. A Manchester United player was just offside for their first goal against Arsenal last week. The officials missed it. Arsenal’s first goal crossed the United goal line by the width of a cigarette paper. Again the referee missed it. But the robots didn’t. Goal given. Last night West Bromwich Albion cheated in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “Jay Rodriguez just threw himself at the cross,” Baggies head coach Darren Moore told BBC Sport. “He admits that it did hit his arm but he didn’t know much about it. And you’ve got to admire his honesty.”
How can you not admire the footballer who scores with his hand? Not the part about his being honest. That’s guff. Cheating is cheating. We should admire Rodriguez because he pushed the rules to the limit, found them wanting and in so doing created emotion and a story from a small moment in a distracting leisure activity. Isn’t football great.
Well, enjoy it while it lasts. VAR is an abomination. Football is fast. Mistakes happen. Fans and players feel feted or hard done by. The joy surges. The antagonism builds.
At another recent Arsenal match, this time against Spurs, the Tottenham striker Son dived to win a penalty. No VAR was used. Arsenal felt aggrieved. The home fans seethed. The visitors taunted. The stadium throbbed like Terry Waite’s bladder. It was great. What a show. This was the theatre of football. It’s not an insurance seminar on risk reduction.
So congratulations to Rodriguez, Son and all the players and refs who keep the game human. Don’t let the robots in. They’ll kill it.
PS: If football is to become an extension of the classroom, will that stop cheating? Nope. James M. Lang argues that place and time can trigger cheating:
[C]heating levels are fairly high, but they have always been so. The better question to ask is why. Duke University researcher Dan Ariely and his colleagues have conducted dozens of experiments designed to see what makes people willing to engage in acts of cheating and dishonesty in their everyday lives. Their findings have been remarkably consistent: most people, under the right circumstances, are willing to engage in small acts of dishonesty. This seems to be a part of our human nature. With enough incentives in front of us, most of will cheat at least a little bit.
Cheating is natural. The temptation to cheat is human:
As it turns out, almost anyone will cheat when given even minor, consciously imperceptible behavioral cues. For instance, in a series of three experiments, a group of psychologists found that lighting could affect cheating. In one study, participants in a dimly-lit room cheated more often than those in a lighter one. While both groups performed equally well on a set of math problems, students in the darker room self-reported that they correctly solved, on average, four more problems than the other group—earning $1.85 more as a result, since they were being paid for each correct answer. The authors suggested that the darkness created an “illusory anonymity”: even though you aren’t actually more anonymous in the dark than in the light, you feel as though you are, making you more likely to engage in behaviors you otherwise wouldn’t. Similar effects have been observed with a variety of situational factors that don’t seem directly related to cheating. We cheat more, for instance, when we’re in a messy environment—one that has more signs of socially deviant behavior, like litter, graffiti, and other rubble.
And then – and then – you think of the spirit and what happens next. What reputation do you want? Matthew Syed cites a sporting great:
In the World Cup semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka at St George’s Park in 2003, the Aussies were on 34 after five overs when Aravinda de Silva was brought on to bowl. On his second delivery, Adam Gilchrist stepped forward to sweep, edged the ball on to his front pad, and watched it sail into the hands of Kumar Sangakkara, the wicketkeeper. The Sri Lankans made a sustained appeal. Rudi Koertzen, the umpire, shook his head. “Not out,” he said.
In True Colours, his wonderful autobiography, Gilchrist would later recall that he felt “strange” at that moment, perhaps a little confused. “So much discontent about umpiring, video decisions, and trust between players had been bubbling away,” he said. He then heard an emphatic voice in his head. “Go,” the voice said. “Walk”. As he made his way towards the pavilion, something odd happened. The Port Elizabeth crowd started cheering. They knew that he had made a gesture more important than mere winning and losing.
We love the cheats. And we love the heroes. The best bit is that in the rough and tumble of sport, in the complexity and contradiction of what it is to be human, you can be both. And there’s always the drugs…
Dreaming up news to market the band is hard graft. But Manchester United are very good at it. The Brand are selling a replica kit that does not exist in the real world. The kit is a “digital concept” within the world of FIFA 19. The “Adidas x EA Sports Manchester United” kit has been designated as the club’s fourth kit. But it only exits in the the computer game. The horror show continues as Adidas announce that only “limited quantities” of the hideous neon leopard skin shirt will be produced and put on sale. So if you want to dress like a video game avatar pretending to an actual footballer, get in there fast. Yours for €90.
Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid are also prepping to flog digital kits to the slack-jawed masses.
Tired women, adolescents and theatre-goers rejoice (and beware), the clap-off bra is upon us. Michael M. Ahmadshahi Ph.D., Esq. has invented and patented Signal-Activated Lingerie:
“Lingerie, such as bras which are worn by females, have a fastening mechanism, such as a hook-type fastener, which is difficult to open, especially for the male counterpart. A bra according to the present invention could be made using a signal-activated fastener such that the female’s boyfriend or husband could clap his hand and the bra would automatically open.”
The voice-activated bra, thought-activate bra and leering-activate bra all remain at the planning stages.
Spotter: New Shelton
‘First Man’ reveals interesting facts about Neil Armstrong
A small step for a man a giant leap for humanity that is how Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon was described back then. An authorized biography of Neil Armstrong was published in 2005 which goes by the name ‘First Man’. Recently a movie of the same name was also released. When Sinatra sang “Fly me to the moon”, he’d never have thought that it might become a possibility. That’s exactly what Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme is trying to do, start commercial trips to the moon for billionaire passengers. This has been the biggest development since the moon landing. Moon is the closest object to us in the space and thus the idea of buying land on the moon is not inconceivable anymore.
But all that is in the distant future. Let us talk about the moon landing and the facts that the recently released movie has not documented.
Neil Armstrong never believed space travel would be possible
He believed that he had born in the wrong generation. He was a naval pilot during the Second World War and thought that the limits of aeronautical greatness were already reached. He once said that “all the flights that have set records such as across the oceans, over the poles and to the remotest places on earth have all been accomplished.
Who’d step on the moon first
In March of 1969 just months before the date of landing the NASA had not come to the decision as to who’d be the first man to land on the moon. But then four big shots in the NASA met and decided that it had to be Neil Armstrong who had a calm, quiet and composed personality. He was said to be of the ‘Lindbergh type’ – the first man to complete the trans-Atlantic voyage non-stop.
He was quiet but had a sense of humour
The movie depicts Armstrong as an introvert. And that was more or less true in real life too. The people close to him have said that he was a man who believed that a man’s actions define him more than his words do. His wife Janet also agreed that silence is her husband’s answer to most things.
However the film fails to capture Armstrong’s humour. After the Apollo XI mission he revealed about a geology prank that he had thought of. He said that he was planning to sneak a piece of limestone on Apollo XI and tell it to be a rock from the moon on returning. He didn’t follow through on it though but what a story that could have been!
Another moment highlights his easy going nature. Just before entering the spaceship he gave a card to Guenter Wendt, the launch pad leader, which read “Space Taxi – good between any two planets”.
The first moon landing was a remarkable achievement for mankind. And there is a lesson to take there. When we are together as one there is nothing mankind can’t achieve.
Ireland’s reputation as a haven for little green men has reached far into the cosmos. UFOS have been spotted over the Emerald Isle. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is investigating the strange flying objects.
The BBC takes up the story:
(A British Airways) pilot, flying from the Canadian city of Montreal to Heathrow, said there was a “very bright light” and the object had come up along the left side of the aircraft before it “rapidly veered to the north…”(Another Virgin pilot said) there were “multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory” and that they were very bright.
A shooting star, perhaps?
The pilot said he saw “two bright lights” over to the right which climbed away at speed. One pilot said the speed was “astronomical, it was like Mach 2” – which is twice the speed of sound.
The IAA says things will be “investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process”. In the meanwhile, round up the usual suspects and tell RyanAir some new competition has arrived…
There aren’t that many of us who don’t know who Mario is. You know, the plumber in the video games for those whose memories are fading? Yes, that’s the one, on the Nintendo. The thing is, he’s now dead.
Well, no, not the character, but the character the electronic one is named after. Hey, we’ll all take whatever immortality and fame is on offer, right?
So, the background is that Nintendo was trying to break into the US market and they had an office in Seattle. Their character already existed but he was called “Jumpman.” Obviously, if they were renting an office then they were renting it from someone, and when they needed a better name for the character then why not the name of the guy they were renting from, the one who always gave them such a hard time about being late with the rent?
The story goes that in the early 1980s, Nintendo was setting up their U.S. headquarters just outside of Seattle. The owner of the office they rented was Mario Segale, whose name they used as the main character for their signature series. He made quite the impression on them when he came in demanding overdue rent payment, and the rest is history.
Up to that point, Nintendo’s character had been known as “Jumpman,” so we have to say “Mario” was quite the improvement.
Well, quite so, why the hell not?
As told by his family in the obituary, Segale was the only child of Italian immigrant farmers. He started his own construction business soon after graduating from high school in 1952, and later began focusing on real estate and property development, establishing the Segale Business Park in the 1970s.
It was then that Segale leased warehouse space to the still young U.S. wing of Nintendo. He reportedly made such an impression on the video game company that the company decided to use his name for its hero, NPR reported.
Quite the joy of this is that Mario Segale did indeed do construction and did pretty much everything in construction, from digging through to owning the business park at times. Except, except, the one thing he never did do was plumbing…
Predpol is, according to it website, “the market leader in predictive policing”. Predpol collects data and uses it to show police where future offences will take place. Crime is contagious, the thinking goes – the same offenders target the same people in the same area. Pump in the bald facts for ostensibly objective analysis and an efficient police service. “PredPol is currently being used to help protect one out of every 33 people in the United States,” says the company. Really? The facts are unclear. But predictive policing is here in the UK.
Predictive police has many fans. Jeff Brantingham, an anthropology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who helped to develop the Predpol algorithm, says: “If you are victimized today the risk that you’ll be a victim again goes way up.” Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, a law teacher at the University of the District of Columbia, warns that “under current Fourth Amendment doctrine predictive policing will have a significant effect on reasonable suspicion analysis”. Lindsey Barrett agrees: “These algorithms have the potential to increase accuracy and efficiency, but they also threaten to dilute the reasonable suspicion standard and increase unintentional discrimination in a way that existing law is ill-equipped to prevent.” It’s not the coppers who are racist; it’s the robot.
If past data is the barometer of future crime, how trusty is that data? For instance, if police spend more time in, say, black neighbourhoods nicking people for weed possession will they just repeat past patterns and mistakes? Can Predpol tell us where most white collar crime takes place and prevent it?
…civil liberties groups and racial justice organizations are wary. They argue that predictive policing perpetuates racial prejudice in a dangerous new way, by shrouding it in the legitimacy accorded by science. Crime prediction models rely on flawed statistics that reflect the inherent bias in the criminal justice system, they contend—the same type of bias that makes black men more likely to get shot dead by the police than white men. Privacy is another key concern. In Chicago, Illinois, one scientist has helped the police department generate a list of individuals deemed likely to perpetrate or be victims of violent crime in the near future; those people are then told they’re considered at risk, even if they have done nothing wrong.
Corey Doctorow took a look:
An anonymous security researcher recently contacted me with what may be a list of Predpol’s customers. This researcher had seen that Predpol assigns easy-to-guess subdomains to each Predpol customer, in the form of CITYNAME.predpol.com, for example, baltimore.predpol.com.
This researcher wrote a script that combined the name of every US city and town with “.predpol.com” and checked to see whether this domain existed. The full list of cities that had Predpol domains is both short and confusing:
Predpol itself was tight-lipped in the extreme: they initially ignored all press requests, then sent a terse “neither confirm nor deny” response to my questions about this list. They wouldn’t even confirm whether the login forms at these domains were secure, despite repeated warnings from me that I would be making them public, requesting that they ensure that these forms require strong logins and passwords to avoid exposing sensitive policing data.
Robocop’s watching you. What can go wrong?
In response to the massacre of 11 Jews and police officers at the Pittsburgh synagogue, PayPal will no longer be processing payment to Gab. It’s a social network a bit like Twitter. The main suspect in the synagogue shooting, Robert Bowers, operated a Gab account where he displayed the neo-Nazi code-phrase 1488. He told other Gab users that refugees being helped by a Jewish organization were “invaders”, and that he was “going in”. Gab has been called a “hate-filled echo chamber of racism and conspiracy theories” (The Guardian), and a “safe haven for banned Twitter trolls, Gamergaters, Pizzagaters and high-profile white nationalists” (Mic).
PayPal told Gizmodo: “PayPal has canceled the Gab.Ai account. The company is diligent in performing reviews and taking account actions. When a site is explicitly allowing the perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory intolerance, we take immediate and decisive action.”
So long, Gab? The outfit made a statement on Medium:
Gab.com’s policy on terrorism and violence have always been very clear: we have zero tolerance for it. Gab unequivocally disavows and condemns all acts of terrorism and violence. This has always been our policy. We are saddened and disgusted by the news of violence in Pittsburgh and are keeping the families and friends of all victims in our thoughts and prayers.
Gab’s lament is no longer on Medium. Gab is no longer available – the site tweeted a message saying it web hosting provider, Joyent, has told it to get thee hence. “We have been systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers and several payment processors,” says Gab. Private companies can take money from who they like. That’s free speech.
“Gab’s mission is very simple: to defend free expression and individual liberty online for all people. Social media often brings out the best and the worst of humanity. Free speech is crucial for the prevention of violence. If people cannot express themselves through words, they will do so through violence.”
People remain free to talk. Radicals will lampoon ideals and gods. Nothing will be beyond criticism, open debate or public ridicule. Gab just needs to find a partner willing to host it. In the meanwhile, the internet, an online version of life you can turn off and on, will continue…
Image: Gab’s now retired logo.
The death of bingo halls
If bingo were a sport, it would be the 6th most popular sport in the country. Over 1.9 million people regularly play bingo each month in this country compared to 1.7 million who play tennis.
Online bingo is the main driver in popularity for bingo, with weekly bingo hall figures dropping by more than 14% in the past year alone. The death of the bingo hall, while sad, is completely and entirely expected – given the comfort and convenience with which they can play their favourite game, and the high-quality, engaging nature of the graphics you can get for free online. That’s why you can’t blame many players heading to sites such as Wink Bingo which are infinitely more appealing than their local bingo hall.
But bingo halls leave behind a rather amusing legacy. Let’s look back at some of the funniest bingo stories from the annals of time.
Bingo traditionally brings out the worst in people, particularly those of an older generation who may on the outside seem genteel, calm and placid. When a regular winner calls ‘bingo!’ there are whispered insults from around the room, questioning what sort of Faustian pact the winner must have struck to keep garnering such bingo success.
Sometimes bingo players even throw their cards at each other, assault one another with purses, dabbers and walking sticks. However on occasion it gets serious, especially when the new generation of players meet the old.
In 2016 a full scale brawl broke out at a bingo hall in Derby when a group of millennials fell afoul of the elderly regulars. According to onlookers an elderly regular was heard describing the youngsters as ‘lacking in respect’.
The millennials made so much noise during the bingo that people were complaining they couldn’t hear the balls being called. One patron decided enough was enough and hurled her handbag in her enemies’ direction, which sparked the brawl.
A crowd of millennials pounced on their aged counterparts and punches were thrown with police arriving on the scene in a matter of minutes to apprehend the offenders. Wendy Lee, 50, from Chaddesden, said she had “never seen anything like it” in her 20 years of playing bingo.
Another witness, Jim Hamer, 66, from Darley said, “It was just a few stuffy old sorts getting their knickers in a twist.”
So forget Connor McGregor’s next fight, head down to your local bingo hall to see some of the most frantic fighting action in the world.
Bingo rhyming slang
In Victorian times many Londoners communicated by Cockney rhyming-slang, using phrases such as:
This rhyming slang made its way into bingo halls all around the country just after the end of the Second World War. Here is a mixture of classic, bizarre and downright strange bingo calls.
5 and 7, Heinz Varieties – Baked Beans were traditionally made with 57 unique ingredients, hence this bean style reference.
1 and 0, Theresa’s Den – UK Prime Minister Theresa May lives at number 10 Downing Street, otherwise known as her den.
3 and 0, dirty Gertie – This one definitely shows the main demographic of bingo halls, with it being a reference to a Second World War song of the same name about a dirty woman called Gertrude.
Number 9, Doctor’s orders – Another war reference, signifying the ‘number 9 pill’ that was given to troops with a non-specific illness. The pill was a laxative and was intended to ‘clear out’ the troops.
8 and 8, two fat ladies – This refers to the shape of the numbers, with an 8 looking like a slightly rotund woman.
5 and 6, was she worth it? – Another incredibly dated reference, this time to the price of a marriage license in the 1950’s, 5 shillings and sixpence. Normally women around the country shout back, “every penny” when the caller reads out 56.
There’s no more classic a sight than a man in a trench coat walking around a bingo hall, opening up his coat to reveal a plethora of stolen goods, all available for a pound. Instead of going down to the local pub – where the police would often be – thieves chose the bingo hall instead to flog their hauls.
As a child there was a time when I thought that the bingo was actually a butchers because of all the meat my Grandma brought back with her. There’d also be Nicky trainers, Roy Ban sunglasses and Leroy’s jeans circulating around.
Ashley Graham Holland from Manchester took it way too far in 2017 when he stole £15,000 worth of goods from his employer John Lewis and flogged his ill-gotten gains on eBay and in his local bingo hall. Fortunately a Good Samaritan spotted him selling electronic goods one day and tipped off police.
Peter Kay satirises the bingo hall
Before Peter Kay made it big with his hilarious comedy Phoenix Nights, he had to prove to TV producers that he had what it took to be a writer, director and actor. The project that highlighted his talents was That Peter Kay Thing, a six-part series that featured completely individual fly on the wall style mockumentaries.
The second episode in that series was Eyes Down which centred on the goings on of Bolton’s premier bingo establishment – Apollo Bingo!
Eyes Down was loosely based on Kay’s own experiences of working in a bingo hall when he was a teenager and the popularity of the episode was hugely detrimental to the reputation of bingo. Here’s what Kay pokes fun at:
The callers: In Eyes Down Peter Kay plays (among others) the role of Scouse bingo caller Tom, who sees himself as somewhat of a celebrity. His interviews to camera are centred on his famous connections and he tells stories to big himself up, like when he had to turn down an appearance from Shirley Bassey because she wasn’t prepared to get changed in a disabled bathroom. Tom also indulges in the ridiculously crass jokes that epitomise small town bingo callers.
The intensity: In the opening scenes Peter Kay’s main protagonist is telling the camera about why he hates his job working at the bingo hall. He says it’s the worst job he’s had, and that’s doubly bad considering he once worked in a Harvester. One of the reasons he hates the job is because of the intensity that the players play with. He regales us with a story about a man who called for help for his wife, she was having a stroke but he couldn’t help as he had to carry on filling out her card. That might sound a bit far-fetched, but it’s undoubtedly happened at a bingo hall in the UK at some point, which is why it’s funny.
The bingo hall is dead. Yes, it remains the unique haunt of an elderly generation that still enjoy Second World War references from their bingo caller, but as that generation slowly shuffle off this mortal coil, the new home for bingo is online.
In all seriousness, if you were interested in playing bingo now you’d just download an app and play from the comfort of your own home. You can also play on mobile, meaning you can have a flutter while you’re on the move. No dabbers needed, no annoying bingo callers, no pain in the backside competitors – just bingo and chill.
See ya, Nick Clegg. The man who wants a second EU referendum in the hope the great unwashed will vote for the status quo has opted to leave for the US, where he’ll work for Facebook. The former Deputy Prime Minister is now Facebook’s head of global affairs and communications.
On Facebook, natch., Clegg told us: “Having spoken at length to Mark and Sheryl [Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg] over the last few months, I have been struck by their recognition that the company is on a journey which brings new responsibilities not only to the users of Facebook’s apps but to society at large.”
A journey…to Luxembourg to pay less taxes? Clegg continues his travels into X Factor speak:
“I hope I will be able to play a role in helping to navigate that journey. Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Oculus and Instagram are at the heart of so many people’s everyday lives – but also at the heart of some of the most complex and difficult questions we face as a society: the privacy of the individual, the integrity of our democratic process, the tensions between local cultures and the global internet, the balance between free speech and prohibited content, the power and concerns around artificial intelligence, and the wellbeing of our children.”
Maybe. Or you could just, you know, disable the app? Life will go on. But Clegg’s already at work, it seems, assuring us that Facebook is life itself. It’s not a company geared to make money from a leisure activity; it’s part of who we are.
He adds: “I believe that Facebook must continue to play a role in finding answers to those questions – not by acting alone in Silicon Valley, but by working with people, organisations, governments and regulators around the world to ensure that technology is a force for good.”
Or as he put it in a 2017 column: “Other critics of Silicon Valley are just plain disingenuous: traditional newspaper groups vilify social media companies for scooping up the lion’s share of advertising revenue. What do they expect? Social media companies – notwithstanding their occasionally pious New Age slogans – are profit-making companies, not charities.”
Good job he’s gone for the betterment of humankind and not the money.