Nullary Sources

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Back in January of this year, John Koblin wrote for Deadspin about the genesis of the NFL on Fox theme, composed by Scott Schreer with Reed Hays and Phil Garrod:

They banged out something pretty quickly, and then Schreer brought in a band to play it. He paid for this on his own dime. “On spec,” he says. “I felt really good about my relationship with George.” Within a day, he had a 48-person orchestra—48 people!—playing the demo. How in the world did he get 48 people to show up on such impossibly short notice?

"In New York," he says, "if you want Chinese food at 3 in the morning, no problem." Apparently that applies to French hornists, too.

I was thinking about quoting the totally ridiculous part where Schreer thinks the theme works because DEATH IS DARK and IT HAS A WARRIOR VIBE (these are actual quotes), but somehow he decided to get even more ridiculous than that and compare session musicians to Chinese takeout.

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2014 is first year ever with zero platinum-certified records

Joel Freimark writing for Death and Taxes:

2014 will mark the first year since its inception in 1976 that no artist’s album will be certified as platinum from sales. The award is given by the RIAA to mark one million units sold, and with only a few weeks remaining in the year, no album is even remotely close to making the threshold.

The two records nearest the magic number are Beyonce’s self-titled album and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine,” but neither have even crossed the 800,000 mark, with sales of both having tapered off months ago. There is one caveat, and that is the fact that the soundtrack to the animated film Frozen has moved well over three million units; but it being a soundtrack and not a single-artist release places it into a slightly different category.

I’m really enjoying that the top-selling album in 2014 in the United States is a film soundtrack, although apparently this happens more often than I realized (thanks Wikipedia).

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The Supreme Court won't interrupt Texas voter ID law

I linked a story about Texas’s voter ID law earlier this month, so here’s a follow-up by Lyle Denniston for SCOTUSblog:

In a stinging defeat for the Obama administration and a number of civil rights groups in a major test case on voters’ rights, a divided Supreme Court told the state of Texas early Saturday morning that it may enforce its strict voter ID law for this year’s general election, with early voting starting next Monday. Three Justices dissented from the ruling, which was released a few minutes after 5 a.m. folllowing a seemingly lengthy study.

This apparently was the first time since 1982 that the Court has allowed a law restricting voters’ rights to be enforced after a federal court had ruled it to be unconstitutional because it intentionally discriminated against minorities. A U.S. District Court judge in Corpus Christi struck down the ID law last week after a nine-day trial, but it now awaits review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which temporarily blocked the trial judge’s ruling.

The Justice Department has indicated that the case is likely to return to the Supreme Court after the appeals court rules. Neither the Fifth Circuit’s action so far nor the Supreme Court’s Saturday order dealt with the issue of the law’s constitutionality.

Not excellent.

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Sphinx unearthed from 1923 Cecil B. DeMille movie set

Hailey Branson-Potts for the Los Angeles Times:

In 1923, legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille built an epic Egyptian dreamscape on California’s Central Coast for the silent black-and-white movie “The Ten Commandments.”

Twenty-one giant sphinxes lined a path to an 800-foot-wide temple. Legend has it that after the filming was done, the set was too expensive to move and too valuable to leave for rival filmmakers to poach — so DeMille had it pushed into a trench and buried.

I love that I get to use the archaeology tag for something that happened less than a hundred years ago.

This is pretty neat by the way, I hope they get the cash for preservation.

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FedEx Ground Says Its Drivers Aren't Employees. The Courts Will Decide

Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg Businessweek:

FedEx Ground didn’t pay overtime or contribute to Scalercio’s Social Security benefits. That’s because since acquiring RPS and introducing its ground service, the FedEx unit has treated drivers as independent contractors, not employees. “The saying around the building was, ‘It’s their sandbox. We only get to play in it,’ ” says Scalercio, who no longer drives for FedEx Ground but is one of hundreds of current and former drivers suing the FedEx subsidiary, seeking back pay for overtime worked and for paycheck deductions.

Beth Ross, who represents plaintiffs in California, says the potential damages FedEx Ground faces in all the class actions are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The same week as the Kansas ruling, the National Labor Relations Board rejected FedEx Ground’s claims that its drivers are independent contractors, finding that they were in fact employees and that FedEx had violated the law by not bargaining with a group of them. “As FedEx’s counsel acknowledged at oral argument,” the Kansas Court said in its decision, “the company carefully structured its drivers’ operating agreements so that it could label the drivers as independent contractors to gain a competitive advantage, i.e., to avoid the additional costs associated with employees.”

You guys

You guys

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Menacing mopper arrested for allegedly harassing hotel employee

Rob Polansky reporting for Connecticut’s WFSB 3:

A hotel employee pressed charges against a man for what police called “aggressive mopping.”

Police said Thornton became unruly at the hotel and grabbed a mop from a 27-year-old female employee.

They said he then began to mop the floor, but became more aggressive and mopped over the employee’s shoes several times.

Who will put an end to this epidemic of mopping that’s plaguing our fair country?

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Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay

Kevin Poulsen with a nice long piece for Wired:

At 12:34 pm, the Game King lit up with its seventh jackpot in an hour and a half, a $10,400 payout. Now Williams knew something was wrong: The cards dealt on the screen were the exact same four deuces and four of clubs that yielded Kane’s previous jackpot. The odds against that were astronomical. Williams called over the executive in charge of the Silverton’s slots, and they reviewed the surveillance tape together.

The evidence was mounting that Kane had found something unthinkable: the kind of thing gamblers dream of, casinos dread, and Nevada regulators have an entire auditing regime to prevent. He’d found a bug in the most popular video slot in Las Vegas.

Programming is tricky.

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Here’s trio JOMELA—Aaron Boudreaux on drums, Ed Coussan on bass, and Erick Coleman on piano—covering Hirokazu Ando’s “Character Select” from the N64 game Super Smash Bros.

Colin: This is so amazing.

'Ili: Songs you never realized needed a jam until now

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Why the White House Is Using Emoji

Polly Mosendz, The Atlantic:

On Wednesday, the White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report about the status of Millennials across the nation, touching on education, debt, and healthcare rates.

The report is modeled after a listicle typical of Buzzfeed or BoredPanda—”15 Economic Facts About Millennials"—and it comes with an accompanying infographic full of … emoji.

It’s official: emoji are over.

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It’s once again time for National Geographic's annual photo contest, so here’s a selection of submissions chosen by In Focus. The one accompanying this post is by Hiroki Kondo:

I took this picture at Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. The flowers are nemophila and the number of them in the park is 4.5 million. I wish to go into the blue universe again next year to photograph.

Me too.

It’s once again time for National Geographic's annual photo contest, so here’s a selection of submissions chosen by In Focus. The one accompanying this post is by Hiroki Kondo:

I took this picture at Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. The flowers are nemophila and the number of them in the park is 4.5 million. I wish to go into the blue universe again next year to photograph.

Me too.