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.
Michael Doino approached the late hours of October 1, 1999, with a lingering sense of dread. It was finally time, after 11 years, to pull the plug on Prodigy Classic, a commercial online service he had helped shepherd from a plucky upstart into a nationwide giant.
"It was very bittersweet, very sad," recalls Doino, a veteran project manager at the company. "I had been there before the Prodigy service went live."
Some time before midnight, Doino logged into the main Prodigy Classic server and, as instructed, uploaded a file to redirect Prodigy Classic users to the company’s newer Prodigy Internet service. At that moment, the written record of a massive, unique online culture, including millions of messages and tens of thousands of hand-drawn pieces of digital art, seemingly vanished into thin air
Both Colin and I used the old Prodigy service (my user ID was KNCT87D), so reading anything about it is a guaranteed way to get me nostalgic about grade school and dial-up modems and Mac Color Classics.
The piece is mostly concerned with the quest of one man to reverse engineer information from old Prodigy clients and cache files. I’ve mentioned it before here, but I get kind of worked up when I think about things made by people being lost forever, and an internet service and all the data on it certainly qualifies.
What I’m saying is that reading this piece gave me some Feelings.
Lena H. Sun and Brady Dennis, The Washington Post:
Federal government laboratories in Atlanta improperly sent potentially deadly pathogens, including anthrax, botulism bacteria and a virulent bird flu virus, to other laboratories in five separate incidents over the past decade, officials said Friday.
Florida judge ruled the state’s congressional district map invalid Thursday night, saying it violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts and instead favors Republicans.
In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature’s Republican political consultants had “made a mockery” of the redistricting process, tainting it with “partisan intent.”
Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering - that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other.
In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Vieth v. Jubelirer that gerrymandering based on political party is more or less okay. The key to this ruling was those amendments to Florida’s constitution mentioned in the third paragraph.
Police have arrested a 26-year-old high-priced call girl from Georgia who is suspected of injecting heroin into a Santa Cruz tech executive on his yacht and then fleeing when he overdosed
Alix Catherine Tichelman and 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes found each other online and had met a few times before their Nov. 26 encounter on Hayes’ 50-foot yacht, Escape, at the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.
Tichelman provided heroin for Hayes, a Google executive, while they were inside the yacht, police said. A surveillance video from the boat shows that Hayes was “suffering medical complications” and lost consciousness, Clark said. She made no effort to help him, and instead gathered her belongings and even gulped a glass of wine before she drew a window blind and left, the video shows.
Didn’t hear about the death when it happened, nor had I heard of Hayes to begin with. This’d be super messed up no matter who it happened to though.
Goro Miyazaki (Tales from Earthsea, From Up On Poppy Hill) will direct a television anime adaptation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia the Robber’s Daughter (Ronja Rövardotter) children’s fantasy book. The series, titled Sanzoku no Musume Ronia in Japan, will air on NHK and BS Premium this fall. POLYGON PICTURES (Knights of Sidonia, The Sky Crawlers) is animating the 3D CG series in collaboration with Studio Ghibli. The show will mark the first time that Miyazaki is directing a television anime series.
It’s also Ghibli’s first television series at all, so that’s cool.
Giancarlo Valdes interviewed a few game developers on their experiences in working on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games for GamesBeat, which is kind of cool. It’s not terribly deep on technical content, but I thought it had some good moments.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 also changed over the years: Sony and Microsoft continue to update their machines with software patches, and both added optional peripherals that developers could use for their games. Sometimes, these changes brought new hurdles, like when Microsoft released the Kinect motion-tracking camera in 2010.
"That didn’t exist when the 360 first launched. … And then you kind of have to deal with Kinect as a part of getting approved [by Microsoft], even if you weren’t really using Kinect that much," said Urquhart. "You now have to reserve some memory just because the Kinect uses some memory, even if you’re not using it. … During the console generation, as you’re getting more comfortable and know how everything works, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and whoever are still kind of evolving and moving forward and changing how things work. You have to make your game work that way."
Civil rights groups have spent a decade fighting requirements that voters show photo identification, arguing that this discriminates against African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor. This week in a North Carolina courtroom, another group will make its case that such laws are discriminatory: college students.
Joining a challenge to a state law alongside the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department, lawyers for seven college students and three voter-registration advocates are making the novel constitutional argument that the law violates the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. The amendment also declares that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.”
I’m kind of surprised that this hasn’t been challenged until now.
Males with a female avatar also jumped an average of 116 more times than female players. Researchers had a few hypotheses for this interesting finding:
Males with female avatars could be trying to hint at their true gender by jumping more than they would otherwise;
Since males sometimes use female avatars to gain attention or kinder treatment from other players, jumping may be used as a way to attract attention;
Jumping may be a way to use the avatar for entertainment rather than for the more “serious” work of fighting in-game enemies. Frequent jumps may indicate that the gamer wants to play a less serious role in the game.
As a dude who plays video games with jump buttons, I will totally admit to mashing that sucker at every available opportunity. I’m kind of surprised that that turns out to be a gendered behavior.
I do it for personal entertainment 100% of the time.
AP report published in the June 29, 1972, issue of The Victoria Advocate:
[Sen. Mike] McKool, was still surprisingly alert and his voice strong, after holding the Senate floor for 42 hours and 33 minutes, most of it spent walking and talking.
McKool gained the floor Monday to speak for his proposed amendment that would add $17 million to the spending bill to be given to state mental health and mental retardation institutions. When he sat down the amendment was defeated easily, getting only six backers out of the 31-member Senate.
A forty-two and a half filibuster in support of mental health funding sounds okay to me. This was reported as a record in the 1974 Guinness Book of World Records.
From 1 July 2014, the words khuy (cock), pizda (cunt), yebat (to fuck) and blyad (whore) — a smutty quartet known as mat — will be banned from use in the arts in Russia. Violators of the law face fines of between $70 and $1,400 depending on whether they’re an individual, an official or an organisation. This isn’t the first time that the state has intervened in this manner — the Soviets too attempted to dispense with foul language to preserve the beauty of Russian. Add to this law a legislative debate in the Duma on banning foreign, mainly English, loanwords last month, as well as a crackdown on independent media, and you start to sense the presence of a much more pernicious effort to restrict both information and language.
"If they ban mat totally, what else is there left for us to do?” said Sergei Shnurov, frontman of rock band and swearing powerhouse Leningrad. “We’ll just have to fuck on the stage.”
On Jan. 12, 2013, [Aaron] Swartz, a developer of Reddit who had become an Internet folk hero with his commitment to make online content free to the public, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment. He was 26.
Swartz had been embroiled in a two-year legal battle with the federal government, which had brought multiple felony charges against him for allegedly hacking into computer systems.
Just a year after his death, writer Brian Knappenberger (“We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists”) premiered his documentary, “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,” at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. The film opens Friday in theaters and is available on video-on-demand and iTunes.
I had somehow never heard of this film until right now and I feel really, really bad about it.
David D’Angelo blogging about developing the just-released Shovel Knight:
Shovel Knight is a game that embraces the look of NES classics, but has some major differences when examined closely. When setting out to develop the game’s aesthetic and play style, we at Yacht Club Games had a few goals in mind. Instead of emulating the NES exactly, we would create a rose-tinted view of an 8-bit game.
What if development for the NES never stopped? How would an 8-bit game feel and play if developed today? We imagined the gameplay would benefit from modern design lessons, and the tech would receive subtle but substantial upgrades. This was possible to an extent on the NES, where technology was built into the cartridges.
If you didn’t know much about NES hardware restrictions, you will after reading this.
Jon Mooallem on The New York Times's Opinionator section:
One Thursday night in early May, people watching the “EagleCam” run by the Nongame Wildlife Program of the state’s Department of Natural Resources noticed that one of the three eagle chicks in the nest was immobile. It appeared to be suffering. Bald eagle chicks are endearing, but not, in any traditional sense, cute: Their unwieldy, disproportionate wings and legs wind up contorting into all kinds of crazy tangles when they lie around the nest. (Go online and look for yourself, but to my eye, they look like coils of uncooked sausage coated in dryer lint.) The EagleCam audience had grown intensely attached to these young birds, though; after all, many had been following them since their eggs were laid back in February. The Nongame Wildlife Program makes a point of not naming the birds. But on Facebook, fans had taken to calling the chicks “Snap,” “Crackle” and “Pop.” Snap was the one having trouble. The little bird couldn’t get up to eat. Clearly, it wouldn’t survive much longer.
By the next morning, the Nongame Wildlife Program was bombarded by emails, phone calls and notes on social media, pleading with it to step in and get Snap some medical attention. Many people speculated — or at least hoped — that Snap was merely stuck in the muddy floor of the nest, and would need only a little jiggle to get free. (There was a good basis for this theory: Apparently, some EagleCam viewers also watch another bald eagle cam, set up elsewhere in Minnesota, and two years ago a chick there named Harmon had a similar problem.)
The Nongame Wildlife Program, however, had a policy to let nature play out and not intervene; it doesn’t want to compromise the essential eagleness of the eagles on its EagleCam.
Corey G. Johnson writing about some heinous shit for The Center for Investigative Reporting:
The California state auditor today blasted federal and state oversight of sterilization surgeries for female prison inmates, finding numerous illegal surgeries and violations of the state’s informed-consent law.
Of the 144 tubal ligations performed on inmates from fiscal years 2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found, more than a quarter – 39 – were done without lawful consent, according to the report by State Auditor Elaine Howle. The “true number” of illegal procedures might be higher, the audit said, because auditors found seven cases at one hospital for which health records were lost in a routine purging.
The Iskander is one of an unknown number of ships full of nameless fishermen who poach crab valued at more than $700 million from Russia’s waters every year, according to the Russian government. They’re part of the bigger, global industry of pirate fishing, which the conservation group Oceana estimates takes at least $10 billion—and maybe more than double that—of seafood a year from the world’s waters in violation of various national and international laws.
This story has a really weird splash image though.
Scientists and art experts have found a hidden painting beneath one of Pablo Picasso’s first masterpieces, “The Blue Room,” using advances in infrared imagery to reveal a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand.
Conservators long suspected there might be something under the surface of “The Blue Room,” which has been part of The Phillips Collection in Washington since 1927.
Brushstrokes on the piece clearly do not match the composition that depicts a woman bathing in Picasso’s studio. A conservator noted the odd brushstrokes in a 1954 letter, but it was not until the 1990s that an x-ray of the painting first revealed a fuzzy image of something under the picture. It was not clear, though, that it was a portrait.
Neato. We’re making this kind of discovery all the time these days.
Daniel Stone writing for National Geographic's daily news:
In a city where it has known no bounds, love now has a weight limit. Shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, a railing of the Pont des Arts—a pedestrian bridge in Paris that spans the Seine River near the Louvre—buckled under the weight of thousands of padlocks.
The padlocks are, so to speak, a public expression of love. Couples, mainly tourists, buy them from vendors on the bridge, inscribe or write their names (Kevin & Camille ♥ ♥) on them, lock them to the railing, and throw the key into the water.
The recent railing collapse isn’t the first. Last February another railing gave way. Officials evacuated the bridge and removed the damaged section, an architect was rushed to the scene to evaluate the integrity of the bridge, and maintenance crews with bolt cutters removed several hundred locks.
The heart of America’s beleaguered auto industry will soon be home a 32-acre, multimillion-dollar high-tech transportation experiment. The University of Michigan, along with the local government and major automakers, is building a model town to test a system of self-driving “connected” cars.
The mock city’s robocars will navigate the urban environment’s twisty concrete and asphalt roads, and confront all the normal obstacles of a bustling city: traffic signs, roundabouts, stoplights, merge lanes, construction work, streetlights, sidewalks and even “mechanical pedestrians” that dart out into the street in front of traffic.
I had this really silly image of a car hitting one of the robot pedestrians, and a robot cop pulls the driver over and hauls them to robot jail.
Maia Weinstock guest blogging for Scientific American:
Two and a half years ago, the LEGO Corporation made a move that set into motion a chain of events that has led, circuitously but unambiguously, to the following exciting announcement, released yesterday via YouTube: In late summer or early fall of 2014, the company will release to the public an official set of female scientist minifigures – a paleontologist, an astronomer and a chemist.
I’m linking this because it contains more information about the battle for representation in Lego figures than I ever thought I’d read today.
I’m afraid this is going to be a long one, because the debate around Assassin’s Creed Unity not inculding any female avatar options in its co-op mode didn’t half snowball overnight. Ubisoft are now backtracking on their initial defence that this was a workload issue, and instead claim it’s a deliberate narrative-based decision – however, this only opens up more questions.
In the meantime, a former Assassin’s Creed animation lead has called foul on the original claims that animating a female character results in an unbearable workload increase, while elsewhere at E3, a Far Cry 4 dev claimed that excessive animation needs are why there are no playable women in that game.
A pretty good example of how not to handle something like this in the year 2014.
Kay Lazar and Shelley Murphy reporting for The Boston Globe:
US Drug Enforcement Administration investigators have visited the homes and offices of Massachusetts physicians involved with medical marijuana dispensaries and delivered an ultimatum: sever all ties to marijuana companies, or relinquish federal licenses to prescribe certain medications, according to several physicians and their attorneys.
A Salt Lake City police officer has been placed on leave after refusing an assignment to work at a gay pride parade.
The officer was among about 30 officers assigned to provide traffic control and security for the annual Utah Pride Parade on Sunday in Salt Lake City, said department spokeswoman Lara Jones.
"We don’t tolerate bias and bigotry in the department, and assignments are assignments … To allow personal opinion to enter into whether an officer will take a post is not something that can be tolerated in a police department," Jones told KSL.
It’s cool that the department responded so quickly, because the idea of police officers deciding that they just don’t want to protect and serve a group of people gets more horrible the more I think about it.
Judge John Murphy is accused of punching veteran public defender Andrew Weinstock after the two had words during court in which Murphy allegedly pressured Weinstock to get his client to waive his right to a speedy trial.
The judge allegedly asked Weinstock to come to the back hallway, an area where there are no cameras, which is where the fight broke out.
"If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass," Murphy tells Weinstock before the two head out of the courtroom.
It wouldn’t surprise me if that were actually codified legal practice in Florida.
Political columnist Ray Hagar writing for the Reno Gazette-Journal about Chris Dyer’s plan to enter the Republican primary for Nevada’s lieutenant governor race solely to siphon votes away from state Senator Mark Hutchison so that former state Senator Sue Lowden wins:
He still holds a grudge against her from the 2008 state Republican Convention. Lowden was the state party chair that year. And the chaos and abrupt shutdown of the 2008 convention almost cost Dyer his elected spot as a Nevada delegate to the national GOP convention, he said.
Putting Lowden in the general will be Dyer’s ultimate revenge for Lowden’s mishandling of the convention, he said. It will cost her treasure. It will be stressful and ultimately, Lowden will lose, said Dyer, a Ron Paul supporter in 2008.
That’s right: in Nevada, candidates run solely out of spite for other candidates.