The editor-in-chief of Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan posted a message to its readers announcing that the magazine will temporarily halt serialization of Rensuke Oshikiri’s Hi Score Girl in light of alleged copyright violations. SNK Playmore had filed a complaint, asserting that the manga features over 100 instances of characters from The King of Fighters, Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown), and other fighting games owned by SNK. Police searched the publisher’s headquarters last Tuesday.
An SNK Playmore representative told ITmedia News that there were “absolutely no” requests or discussions by Square Enix to obtain consent to use SNK characters. The manga also uses characters from CAPCOM’s Street Fighter II, Sega’s Virtua Fighter, Namco’s Genpei Tōma Den, and other games. ITmedia News contacted CAPCOM, Sega, and Bandai Namco Games, and each one said that it gave formal consent for the manga to use its games’ characters.
That they properly licensed the other characters but not SNK’s is probably the most bizarre part of this story.
[Donny] Moore is the “ratings czar” for “Madden NFL,” the man responsible for making sure the popular video game’s virtual avatars accurately reflect their real-life counterparts.
Moore uses all sorts of metrics and measurements to come up with ratings. Then, he tweaks the numbers weekly after watching all the games and pondering feedback from fans and even the players themselves.
Among the guys he underestimated were Washington running back Alfred Morris and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, both of whom started a season with mid-60s ratings and finished in the high 80s. It works the other way, too. Ray Rice started last season at 95 and finished at 82.
I love how apparently there’s just this one guy who makes up every single number in that game.
The story (of the legal dispute, not the television show) begins in 2008, when Stacey Mattocks started a fan page for The Game. Soon thereafter, the show went off the air, but the Facebook page lived on. When BET decided to revive The Game in 2010, the network reached out to Mattocks, offering to give her part-time work maintaining her page as the show’s official fan page. BET wasn’t eager to start from scratch: Mattocks had already gathered about 2 million “likes,” according to court documents.
Mattocks and BET signed a deal giving the company administrative access to the page; each agreed not to lock the other out. BET employees and Mattocks worked together, quickly amassing 4 million additional “likes.” But Mattocks wanted a full-time job, and she decided to play hardball to get it. She revoked BET’s administrative access, saying she’d give it back when they agreed to pay her an acceptable salary. The company responded by starting its own page. It also asked Facebook to shut down Mattocks’s page—it contained copyrighted material—and have all the “likes” transferred to its own page. Facebook obliged and Mattocks sued, arguing that she should have the right to capitalize on the business opportunity she had created by getting a lot of people to approve of her page.
Where was the futurist who predicted mundane shit like this? Flying cars my butt.
For five years now, America’s teen birth rate has plummeted at an unprecedented rate, falling faster and faster. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of babies born to teens annually fell by 38.4 percent, according to research firm Demographic Intelligence. This drop occurred in tandem with steep declines in the abortion rate. That suggests that the drop isn’t the product of more teenagers terminating pregnancies. More simply, fewer girls are getting pregnant.
But there’s something uniquely frustrating about the recent, steep decline in teen birth rates: nobody knows why it’s happened.
She then runs through a number of theories, ranging from somewhat unsatisfying to deeply unsatisfying.
Josh Levin of Slate searches YouTube and Instagram for a whole bunch of videos of people dumping ice water on themselves or other people:
"Where does a phenomenon begin?"
That’s the question ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi seeks to answer in a long SportsCenter feature on the ice bucket challenge, which has reportedly raised more than $50 million for ALS charities in less than a month. Rinaldi says that it began “with one name”: Pete Frates. A former Boston College baseball player, Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. On July 31 of this year, he challenged some friends and celebrities (including NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan) to take the ice bucket challenge to “strike out ALS.” As my Slate colleague Will Oremus pointed out, various outlets have since claimed that Frates invented or inspired the challenge, with the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, and MLB.com joining ESPN in labeling Frates as the stimulus for the chilly, charitable fad.
This origin myth, while heartwarming, just isn’t true. The real story of how the ice bucket challenge came to dominate your Facebook feed takes nothing away from Frates’ inspirational message, or the fact that his personal struggle helped draw celebrities to the cause and drive charitable contributions. But focusing on “one name” obscures another fascinating tale, one that illustrates how movements mutate and evolve as they travel across the Web.
Alissa Walker has written a warm reminiscence of the only typeface with its own tag here on Nullary Sources, Chicago:
Maybe it was because I was so used to it greeting me, guiding me through every decision — chirping up in a dialogue box confirming that I did, indeed, want to shut down. But when I began writing on the computer, ate age eight, Chicago was the typeface I used. I was mostly writing poems about trees during this period, and I’d bring the text into MacPaint where I could illustrate them using Kare’s paintbrush icon, sweeping the page with basket-weave patterns and single-pixel polka dots. Sometimes I’d click over and scroll through the available typefaces — New York, Geneva, Monaco — and reject each one not only on looks, but on principle.
San Francisco’s protest of its loss to Chicago on Tuesday was upheld on Wednesday by Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations. Torre agreed with the Giants’ stance that the flawed deployment of Wrigley Field’s tarp meant that the game should have been suspended instead of awarded to the Cubs, who led, 2-0, when rain halted activity after the regulation 4 1/2 innings had been played.
"Were we surprised? Sure," pitching coach Dave Righetti said. "How many of these have been upheld? Nine? 10?"
The precise number is unknown, but winning such an appeal is definitely rare. It last occurred in 1986, when a protest by Pittsburgh — that a game against St. Louis had been called too soon — was upheld.
Yes it’s the first successful protest lodged in twenty-eight years, and it’s over fuckin’ rain.
Andrew Keh writing for The New York Times about Michele Roberts, who was recently elected executive director of the NBA players’ union, the National Basketball Players Association:
She said she was all too aware that if she was selected, she would represent several hundred male athletes in the N.B.A.; she would deal with league officials and agents who were nearly all men; she would negotiate with team owners who were almost all men; and she would stand before reporters who were predominantly men.
She did not flinch. “My past,” she told the room, “is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.”
Reports of sharks biting the undersea cables that zip our data around the world date to at least 1987. That’s when the New York Times reported that “sharks have shown an inexplicable taste for the new fiber-optic cables that are being strung along the ocean floor linking the United States, Europe, and Japan.”
Now it seems Google is biting back. According to Network World’s Brandon Butler, a Google product manager explained at a recent event that the company has taken to wrapping its trans-Pacific underwater cables in Kevlar to guard against shark bites.
A new law in France will now allow first-trimester abortions without requiring women to prove a justification for needing the procedure.
The new law, proposed by the French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was promulgated last Tuesday. It amends the country’s current law, which allows abortion only if a pregnant women can prove “distress.” The new law also bans any attempt to restrict women from getting information about abortion services.
The French National Assembly voted to approve the new law in January amid heated controversy. At that time, Vallaud-Belkacem defended the change to the current law, saying “Abortion is a right in itself and not something that is simply tolerated depending on the conditions.”
AP report on some food allergies apparently being spread by ticks in the United States:
The bugs harbor a sugar that humans don’t have, called alpha-gal. The sugar is also is found in red meat - beef, pork, venison, rabbit - and even some dairy products. It’s usually fine when people encounter it through food that gets digested.
But a tick bite triggers an immune system response, and in that high-alert state, the body perceives the sugar the tick transmitted to the victim’s bloodstream and skin as a foreign substance, and makes antibodies to it. That sets the stage for an allergic reaction the next time the person eats red meat and encounters the sugar.
Nearly four decades after hundreds of people were led to their deaths in a mass murder-suicide pact in a South American jungle, the cremated remains of nine of those victims have been found in a shuttered funeral home in Delaware.
The eerie find was made after the owner of the site of the former Minus Funeral Home in Dover contacted authorities about 38 small containers left behind on the property, authorities said.
David Gibson writing a guest post on the Library of Congress’s blog The Signal: Digital Preservation:
Several months ago, while performing an inventory of recently acquired video games, I happened upon a DVD-R labeled Duke Nukem: Critical Mass (PSP). My first assumption was that the disc, like so many others we have received, was a DVD-R of gameplay. However, a line of text on the Copyright database record for the item intrigued me. It reads: Authorship: Entire video game; computer code; artwork; and music. I placed the disc into my computer’s DVD drive to discover that the DVD-R did not contain video, but instead a file directory, including every asset used to make up the game in a wide variety of proprietary formats. Upon further research, I discovered that the Playstation Portable version of Duke Nukem: Critical Mass was never actually released commercially and was in fact a very different beast than the Nintendo DS version of the game which did see release. I realized then that in my computer was the source disc used to author the UMD for an unreleased PlayStation Portable game.
I immediately subscribed to this blog after reading this.
It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year.
Flooded by tides of phosphorus washed from fertilized farms, cattle feedlots and leaky septic systems, the most intensely developed of the Great Lakes is increasingly being choked each summer by thick mats of algae, much of it poisonous. What plagues Toledo and, experts say, potentially all 11 million lakeside residents, is increasingly a serious problem across the United States.
When Mayor D. Michael Collins told Toledo residents on Monday that it was again safe to use the city’s water, he was only replaying a scene from years past. Carroll Township, another lakefront Ohio community of 2,000 residents, suspended water use last September amid the second-largest algae bloom ever measured; the largest, which stretched 120 miles from Toledo to Cleveland, was in 2011. Summertime bans on swimming and other recreational activities are so routine that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency maintains a website on harmful algae bloom.
Note to our dear readers: please do not, under any circumstances, move to Toledo, Ohio.
The digital revolution is finally coming to the NFL—sort of. The league’s preseason kicks off Sunday, and the Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants will be the first game in which tablet computers are allowed on the sidelines. Thirteen Microsoft Surface tablets will be present on each sideline, and the coaches in each box will have access to another dozen.
But just as the NFL preseason is football in name only, the devices that the players will be using aren’t tablets in any normal sense of the word. The league reached a $400 million deal with Microsoft last spring to make its Surface tablets the exclusive computer of the NFL sideline, albeit with several conspicuous alterations made to the company’s standard tablets. The NFL’s Surface tablets have had their cameras disabled and can connect only to a private in-stadium wireless network. The devices can only run a single program, which allows people to browse through digital game photographs.
It’s not exactly a groundbreaking moment of innovation in football.
The NFL is comically serious about this sort of thing.
Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that “impossible” microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is definitely going on. Either the results are completely wrong, or Nasa has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion.
"Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma."
This last line implies that the drive may work by pushing against the ghostly cloud of particles and anti-particles that are constantly popping into being and disappearing again in empty space. But the Nasa team has avoided trying to explain its results in favour of simply reporting what it found: “This paper will not address the physics of the quantum vacuum plasma thruster, but instead will describe the test integration, test operations, and the results obtained from the test campaign.”
Nicole Perlman’s interest in space started early — and with the help of real-life rocket scientists. When she was growing up in Boulder, Colo., in what she calls “a very nerdy family,” her father would host a science-fiction book club that counted among its members many employees of the aeronautics companies based in the area. The rocket scientists would come to her house and discuss their favorite books; noticing her interest, her father bought the 15-year-old Perlman copies of physicist Richard Feynman’s two autobiographies.
That fateful gift started Perlman, now 33, on a path that led to her writing Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters Aug. 1. The movie is Marvel’s big leap away from its more established superhero properties into the depths of outer space. It’s also the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a woman as a credited writer — but getting there wasn’t exactly easy.
The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Tuesday that McDonald’s could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators — a decision that, if upheld, would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.
The ESA’s Gaia satellite begins its mission today:
The satellite was launched on 19 December 2013, and is orbiting a virtual location in space 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.
Gaia’s goal is to create the most accurate map yet of the Milky Way. It will make extremely accurate measurements of the positions and motions of about 1% of the total population of roughly 100 billion stars in our home Galaxy to help answer questions about its origin and evolution.
Repeatedly scanning the sky, Gaia will observe each of its billion stars an average of 70 times each over five years. Small apparent motions in the positions of the stars will allow astronomers to determine their distances and movements through the Milky Way.
Salon has an excerpt from Melissa Mohr’s 2013 book Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing:
Maria Edgeworth has her hero exclaim of another man, “Sir Philip writes a bloody bad hand,” in 1801’s “Belinda.” If Miss Edgeworth — who wrote novels about young women finding love and good marriages for a largely female readership, as well as morally improving children’s literature (six volumes of “Moral Tales for Young People”) — had her young hero say “bloody,” it can’t have been that bad a word. Miss Edgeworth gets her “bloody” in at almost the last moment it is possible, however. At around this time, the word starts to get more offensive: It begins to be printed as b——y or b—— and falls out of polite use, where it continues through the Victorian era. When George Bernard Shaw wanted to create a scandal, but not too big a scandal, in his 1914 “Pygmalion,” he had Eliza Doolittle exclaim in her newly perfect posh accent, “Walk! Not bloody likely! I am going in a taxi.” The first night’s audience greeted the word with “a few seconds of stunned disbelieving silence and then hysterical laughter for at least a minute and a quarter,” and there were some protests from various decency leagues, but on the whole a scandal never materialized. Bloody became “the catchword of the season” and pygmalion became a popular oath itself, as in “not pygmalion likely.”
"Pygmalion" might possibly be the most preposterous swear word yet.
Compared with most organisms, slime molds have been on the planet for a very long time—they first evolved at least 600 million years ago and perhaps as long as one billion years ago. At the time, no organisms had yet evolved brains or even simple nervous systems. Yet slime molds do not blindly ooze from one place to another—they carefully explore their environments, seeking the most efficient routes between resources. They do not accept whatever circumstances they find themselves in, but rather choose conditions most amenable to their survival. They remember, anticipate and decide. By doing so much with so little, slime molds represent a successful and admirable alternative to convoluted brain-based intelligence.
Shane Tourtellotte writing for The Hardball Times about the July 22, 1986, baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets:
What did this game have that was so bonkers? All will be revealed in good time, but I can offer a few teasers. It had one of the most serious brawls baseball has seen in the last half-century, one that spelled the beginning of the end of the career of a well-known player … who wasn’t even in it! It had two ejections in two separate incidents even before the brawl. It boasted protests lodged by both managers. And most notably, it had a lineup manipulation so astonishing, it got several paragraphs of analysis in The Book.
This is incredibly long, but it’s also one of the best baseball stories I’ve ever read in my life.
Here are Colin’s live reactions as he was reading it:
From a 2009 episode of All Things Considered, wherein two audio historians re-evaluate a phonautograph recording dated to 1860:
We’ve decided that instead of playing back the voice of a young girl, possibly the daughter of the inventor, that now we’re actually hearing the voice of the inventor himself. We played it back at the wrong speed.
Christie D’Zurilla writing for the Los Angeles Times's Ministry of Gossip blog:
Casey Kasem’s body is no longer at the Washington state funeral home that had been keeping it, a rep for the radio icon’s eldest daughter said Friday.
A judge awarded daughter Kerri Kasem a temporary restraining order Wednesday preventing her dad’s second wife, Jean Kasem, from cremating or removing the remains from the funeral home pending a decision about who could conduct a possible autopsy, the Associated Press reported Friday.
However, Jean Kasem had already filled out a death certificate indicating that the body should be transferred to a funeral home in Montreal, the AP reported, noting that on Friday the Canadian funeral home said the radio host’s body was not there, nor was his name in its system.
Discover magazine’s Seriously, Science? blog has discovered a study from 2013 about, well, uh:
AIM OF THE STUDY: The aim of this study was to describe an individual’s 3-dimensional buttocks response to sitting. Within that exploration, we specifically considered tissue (i.e., fat and muscle) deformations, including tissue displacements that have not been identified by research published to date.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The buttocks anatomy of an able-bodied female during sitting was collected in a FONAR Upright MRI.
Another mystery of the universe solved. Presumably.
Richard Goldstein reporting for The New York Times:
Alice Coachman, who became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal when she captured the high jump for the United States at the 1948 London Games, died on Monday in Albany, Ga. She was 90.
Her daughter, Evelyn Jones, said she had been treated at a nursing home for a stroke in recent months and went into cardiac arrest after being transferred to a hospital on Monday with breathing difficulties.
Wonder if I should make an “I’m sad because I never heard of this person until they died” tag.