01
Aug
13

Roundup – LASER MASTER

Line O’ the Day:

I can picture you two engineering the whole scheme from Patriots headquarters:

JOSH MCDANIELS: Tebow is a special player, boss! He GETS it. He fits right in with the PATRIOT WAY of doing business. I’m still a genius for drafting him—it’s just that no one realizes it yet!

YOU: GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRUMBLE I’LL MAKE HIM USEFUL AND THEN I’LL BANG HIS MOM GRUMBLE GRUMBLE.

JIM NANTZ: (busts through the door) Hello, friends. Would either of you care for a civilized, dignified handjob?

– Big Daddy Drew, “Fuck You, Bill Belichick” [Deadspin]

Best of the Best:

Happy 27th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller: A Few Words About Ferris in the Internet Age [Vince Mancini on FilmDrunk]

I get nostalgic about Ferris Bueller because I miss that ideal of cool, when coolness wasn’t wrapped up in a label, and it could happen to you if you were just a clever smooth talker who was nice to people. (Before I go any further, I should probably acknowledge that I’ve opened the door to a rebuttal article here about how Ferris could only have been Ferris because of white privilege. There’s definitely some truth to that, so point conceded, it just doesn’t seem that constructive or interesting). Everything seems to have broken off into warring factions now, and Ferris Bueller harkens back to a time when a hero could be neither “bro” nor “nerd” (though I’m sure both groups would try to claim him).

Behind the ‘Internet of Things’ Is Android—and It’s Everywhere [Ashlee Vance on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Philip DesAutels, the vice president for technology at Xively, a just-launched cloud computing service that simplifies the work needed to get a device to transmit data, has studied the Internet of things for years. He says there are five times as many downloads of Xively’s Android-specific software as there are of its software made for Apple’s iOS. His favorite product: an Android-based agricultural irrigation system where a network of tiny, waterproof computers in the field regulates water valves. “With Android, you get something that is power-efficient, it’s easy for developers to do the user interface and touch controls, and it’s easy to get data in and out,” DesAutels says. “There’s just a bigger community behind it than with anything else.” Android’s rise is bad for Microsoft, which has been releasing a no-frills operating system of its own since 1996. Windows Embedded, as it’s known these days, is in Ford cars, NCR cash registers, and other products. But just as it did with smartphones and tablets, Microsoft seems to have mistimed and miscalculated its approach. “We have zero requests for Microsoft,” DesAutels says. He adds that he’s hearing from plenty of companies that want to make smart pedometers, Net-connected LED lighting, and other devices that work with iPhones and iPads. Chances are those peripherals will run on Android or something even simpler, DesAutels says, because Apple seems uninterested in letting iOS run non-Apple products. Apple declined to comment.

Pain & Gain [Pete Collins on The Miami Herald, December 1999]

Miami businessman Marc Schiller disappeared from his Schlotzsky’s Deli franchise in mid-November 1994. A month later, recovering from massive injuries at Jackson Memorial Hospital, he called private investigator Ed Du Bois. For weeks, he said, he’d been chained to a wall and tortured in unspeakable ways. He’d been forced to sign away his house, his investments, his bank accounts, his life insurance. In the end the kidnappers tried to kill him, and they nearly succeeded. Although blindfolded during the ordeal, he recognized one of his captors: a former business partner, a protégé. Help me, he begged Du Bois. He wanted his house back; he needed his money. But most important, he had to make sure they wouldn’t find him and finish the job.

How Do You Say Shaolin in Sign Language? Meet the interpreter who has signed for the Wu-Tang Clan, Killer Mike, and the Beastie Boys. [Amy K. Nelson on Slate]

Kat Murphy is a 30-year-old Memphis native who is hearing-impaired; she can hear beats but not words. Along with her boyfriend, Melvin, who is “profoundly deaf,” Murphy was at Bonnaroo and attended both the Wu-Tang and Killer Mike shows. She witnessed Maniatty’s interactions with both rappers. “It was amazing,” she said. “She didn’t skip a beat or allow it to sidetrack her” when Method Man came calling. Unfamiliar with Killer Mike before the show, she left thinking he “was the most deaf-friendly artist and he really incorporated the interpreters into his performance. We are his new fans.” Until Bonnaroo, it never occurred to Killer Mike that he had deaf fans; he left the show “honored” to have someone like Maniatty interpreting him. “You wonder how they can even keep up,” he says. “That’s an art form; that’s more than just a technical skill.”

Writer’s Room: Scenes We Never Want to See Again [Robopanda via Filmdrunk]

Here’s the scene: someone from a city is in a rural area. Suddenly, a rural person is out to get them. Why? I don’t know. He Who Walks Behind The Rows demanded it? A city person bankrupted the plaid shirt factory? Madness caused by too much fresh air and affordable rents? There was a sale on creepy masks and butcher knives? I grew up with a cornfield in my backyard, and I’m still wondering when the urge to kill randos from the coasts is going to kick in. Starting to think He Who Walks Behind The Rows may just be a fat guy named Roger who’s still making payments on his combine. Do you really want to know what us “flyover state” folks think about people from the coasts? Nothing. Which is why there’s no term as popular or as spiteful as “flyover states” that rural people are slanging about city people.

The Fraud of the Prince of Poyais [Dr. Bryan Taylor, Chief Economist of Global Financial Data via The Big Picture]

As amazing as it may seem, the Legation of Poyais chartered two boats to take settlers to Poyais. Why they would take this risk, knowing that the settlers would discover the truth about Poyais once they arrived, staggers the imagination, but perhaps the fraudster had started to believe his own fraud. On September 10, 1822, the Honduras Packet departed from London with 70 settlers including doctors, lawyers and a banker. On January 22, 1823, the Kennersley Castle left Leith Harbour in Scotland with almost 200 settlers. When they arrived in Poyais, the settlers, some of whom had risked their life savings, found an uninhabitable jungle that had more tropical diseases than silver and gold. Of the original 240 settlers who reached Poyais, only 60 survived. The rest died.

Why Are Hollywood Movies So Long? [Alex Mayyasi on Priceonomics]

It seems that the potential savings from reducing the length of a movie are large enough to stoke interest but meager enough to be ceded to the lure of the Oscars and salving directors’ egos and artistic desires. We can understand why directors would choose to make long films from our own reluctance to cut down on our own articles that go on for thousands of words. And although succinct stories are often better than bloated ones, the perception of a bias in favor of long movies at the Oscars strikes us as sound – similar to the bias people hold by thinking that heavier products are of better quality.

Information wants to be expensive [Felix Salmon on Reuters]

Or to put it another way: back when it was founded, in the 1930s, it made sense for the SEC to try to enforce a “fair” market where all men could trade on a level playing field. But those days are over now, and they’re never coming back. Everybody knows that hedge funds and institutional investors have access to massive amounts of information, on top of high-level access to executives; everybody knows that high-frequency traders can move much more quickly than any individual. If you want to go up against these people in the trading arena, all power to you — but don’t expect the SEC to be able to ensure that it’s a fair fight. Instead, individual investors should play to their strengths, which include the ability to take a long view and not feel any need to mark to market, or to worry about quarterly performance returns. They can make long-term investments without worrying about short-term performance, and — thanks in large part to the rise of high-frequency trading — they can get truly spectacular execution at NBBO at any time they want it. Sometimes, data will cause stocks to move — all individual investors know that, and if they have their priorities straight, they won’t particularly care when that move takes place. But from a public-policy perspective, the market in data is a good thing, which should be encouraged: the more data there is, and the higher the quality of that data, the better that the economy is served by the market. The institutions providing this data are performing an important public service, and being paid for it from private-sector funds. Let’s celebrate that, rather than demonizing them.

Snowden Backlash: US Media Get Personal [Marc Pitzke on Der Spiegel]

In his broadside against Snowden and Snowden’s press contacts, Pincus was going along with both the government and the zeitgeist. A growing number of mainstream media outlets have been focusing their criticism on the leakers — Snowden in Moscow, Greenwald in Rio — instead of the content of their leaks. American headlines aren’t being dominated by the latest details of the seemingly endless scandal, but by the men who brought them to light. This began at the Post when Snowden, before contacting Greenwald, offered his secrets to security reporter Barton Gellman. Gellman quickly discredited Snowden as “capable of melodrama,” partly because of his uncompromising terms. Since then Snowden hasn’t provided any more revelations to the paper.

Zimmerman’s lawyer calls prosecutors ‘disgrace’ to profession [Chris Francescani on Reuters]

[Special prosecutor Angela Corey’s] office confirmed last week that it had fired its information technology director, Ben Kruidbos, who had testified in a pre-trial hearing that files he created with text messages and images he retrieved from Martin’s phone were not handed to the defense. Kruidbos testified last month that he found embarrassing photos on Martin’s phone that included pictures of a clump of jewelry on a bed, underage nude females, marijuana plants and a hand holding a semi-automatic pistol.

The Decline in Male Fertility: Scientists Puzzle Over Declining Sperm Counts; a ‘Crisis’ or Not Enough Data? [Shirley S. Wang on The Wall Street Journal]

Are today’s young men less fertile than their fathers were? It’s a controversy in the fertility field, with some experts raising the alarm over what some are calling a “sperm crisis” because they believe men’s sperm counts have been decreasing for a decade or more. Experts here for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual conference last week debated the issue for an entire day. One recent analysis found that in France, the sperm concentration of men decreased by nearly one-third between 1989 and 2005. Most but not all studies from several European nations with large databases and the ability to track health records have found that over the past 15 years or so, the counts of healthy men ages 18 to 25 have significantly decreased. This comes after a prominent study from the 1990s suggested that sperm count has decreased by half over the last half-century. Many experts questioned the validity of those findings. There are huge variations in results by country and region. Certain areas, especially in the developing world, haven’t been studied at all. In the U.S., some historical data suggest a decrease in sperm count among American men, but no published recent data exist.

Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD And Streaming: An Awkward Sexual Adventure With G.I. Joe [Morton Salt via FilmDrunk]

This 2011 film isn’t just a relatively recent Kate Bosworth film you haven’t seen, it’s a Ellen Barkin/Ezra Miller/Ellen Burstyn/Demi Moore/Thomas Haden Church film you haven’t seen, and it’s written and directed by Barry Levinson’s son if that spices up the sauce for you.  I kind of want to see this, if only to see Ellen Barkin and Ellen Burstyn on screen together.  The only thing better would be if there were a movie in which Bill Paxton and Dermot Mulroney played buddy cops trying to catch partners-in-crime Bill Pullman and Dylan McDermott. Also, because f*ck it, I’ve gone off topic a bit, throw in our pal Kate Bosworth as the woman in the middle.  Like she’s Paxton’s daughter and Mulroney’s wife, but she’s also cheating with Pullman while McDermott watches from the foot of the bed, because that seems like something his character would do.

Curiously Strong Remains:

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