Quote of the Day

Dec. 22nd, 2014 02:30 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Torture.]

"Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments. Because of the Senate's report, we now know the distance officials in the executive branch went to rationalize, and conceal, the crimes they wanted to commit. The question is whether the nation will stand by and allow the perpetrators of torture to have perpetual immunity for their actions."—The New York Times editors, in an editorial headlined, simply and bluntly, "Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses."
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Posted by Boing Boing

The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is a sparkly remastered new version of the long-out-of-print coffee table book that first came out ahead of its time in 2003, before all the beautiful Chip Kidd-designed superhero books, before many do-gooders depicted in these pages – Captain America, The Flash, Thor, Green Lantern, The Avengers, Dr.

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Posted by Cory Doctorow


Sterling Crispin uses evolutionary algorithms to produce masks that satisfy facial recognition algorithms: "my goal is to show the machine what it’s looking for, to hold a mirror up to the all-seeing eye of the digital-panopticon we live in and let it stare back into its own mind." Read the rest

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Posted by Eric Ravenscraft

Check the Chromecast App Regularly to Find Free Stuff

Regular readers may remember that we've featured Chromecast deals before . If you're not checking your app every so often, though, you may want to start. The deals refresh periodically and you could score some sweet stuff.

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Posted by Shane Roberts, Commerce Team

The 14 Most Popular Products of 2014, as Purchased By You

Another year in Deals, great products, user-voted Co-Ops, and gift guides has come to an end. Last year we had such a great time putting together a list of 2013's most popular products, that we've decided to make it an annual feature.

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Script Notes on The Birth of Jesus

Dec. 22nd, 2014 08:18 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Dear Matt and Luke:

We just read through your story treatment of The Birth of Jesus. We love it. Love it. Seriously, “love” is not nearly the right word for what we feel about what will almost certainly become a perennial seasonal classic. I hope the two of you have made space for awards on your mantelpieces; I think it’s about to get very crowded up there!

We’ve shared this important piece of work around, including with the marketing folks and our intern, Chad. While everyone agrees that your vision for this story is critical and elemental, we do have a few notes that we feel will help this film reach the audiences who so desperately need to hear its message, while at the same time staying true to this timeless tale. You’ll find them below.

1. We’re a little worried about the title. The Birth of Jesus has a vintage feel to it; we need something a little more four-quadrant, which will bring in audiences of all ages. How do you feel about Christ: Origins? It’s punchy and gives us a template for sequels, if we go that route (Christ: Dead Sea Rising and Christ: The Final Chapter are two titles Chad suggested). Let us know.

2. Mary and Joseph are central characters and we love that they are clearly there for each other and involved with each other, no matter what. That’s a real Notebook-like vibe that date night audiences really go for. But you don’t give them a lot of dialogue that grounds their characters into their relationship. Can you punch up their scenes, give them some banter, and maybe inject some humor into it? A pregnancy and birth offer up a lot of opportunities for zany slapstick scenarios. Chad noted that Juno rode that basic idea to a screenplay Oscar, and he has a point. Think about it.

3. On that note: Channing Tatum as Joseph?

4. We were worried about the logistics of having a birth scene near a manger — it’s a little downmarket for our audiences — until marketing pointed out this gives us an opportunity to create a line of stuffed animals timed to the film release. That really helps us with the 10-and-under audience.

With that in mind, please give thought to how we can incorporate into the birth scene a group of wisecracking, animatronic livestock, who comment on the action. Also think about how we can make the livestock extensible beyond plush toys. We’re talking spin-off animated series and theme park characters here.

5. Chad’s idea here: Ariana Grande as a baby lamb who is Jesus’ first pal. Or even better: Sidekick! Then we can also get her to sing the movie theme song. We’ve got Charli XCX writing that. It’s gonna be huge.

6. The angel announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds is a powerful scene, one that’s really going to justify the CGI and 3D conversion. The thing we were wondering is why an angel — a supremely powerful creature — announces the birth of the single most important person in the world to… shepherds. We’re just not seeing the utility there, and the shepherds don’t really do much with the information.

Then Chad had a suggestion: What if the angel is secretly a fallen angel, and the shepherds aren’t really shepherds at all, but a secret order of demon worshippers disguised as shepherds, who have been waiting for centuries, at the ready, to kidnap the savior foretold by prophecy at the moment of his birth, and the fallen angel is telling them so they can put their dark plan into action? Now, that makes sense! Even better, we can have the sheep they guard act as spies for the forces of good — the lamb played by Ariana Grande can race to the inn to tell the other livestock, who will then form a woolly shield around Jesus. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

7. Video game idea — Christ: Race to the Manger. Let’s talk to Electronic Arts about that.

8. This takes us to the Three Wise Men. Frankly, we were all a little confused by these characters. They sort of come out of nowhere and their reasons for offering up very expensive gifts are sketchy at best. So marketing and Chad spitballed it and came up with a couple of things we think you’re going to love. One, the three wise men are not from The East — they’re from The Future (which they call “The East” as future slang). Two, they’ve come from the future not just to give gifts, but to act as bodyguards for the baby Jesus against the demon-worshipping hordes. They are future ninjas for Christ.

Three, their gifts have changed slightly. One of them (who we see played by Idris Elba) brings a robot, who will teach Jesus about humanity and martial arts. The second one (Sarah Jessica Parker) will be bringing the traditional fragrances, only now they’re from Chanel — marketing will work out the deal. The third (Jack Black) brings gold, because gold. The battle scene between the Awesome Jesus Ninja Triad (it’s a zippier description, much better for action figure sales) and the demon worshipping hordes is going to be spectacular; we’re already negotiating with Yuen Woo-ping for the wire-fu scenes.

9. Also, to secure Chinese financing, we’ll have to move the location of the birth from Bethlehem to Shanghai. I’m sure we can find a way to make this canonically sound.

10. The only problem with the demon worshippers vs Future Ninjas subplot is that by necessity it pushes Joseph and Mary out of the narrative frame a little more than we would like. The good news is once again our intern Chad has come up with an ingenious solution — what if Joseph isn’t really the humble carpenter he’s been portrayed as, but has also traveled even further back in time than the Awesome Jesus Ninja Triad, because he knows they were defeated by the demon-worshipping hordes, and that he is Mary and Jesus’ only hope of survival? So the visit to Bethlehem, the trip to the inn, the birth in the manger are all set-up the real story of the film: The final confrontation between Joseph, Warrior of the 37th Century, and Asphalbelub, the fallen angel — who is also revealed to be secretly from the future, not to mention a Venusian/Murderbot hybrid.

(This is important because suddenly this story, previously magical — and let’s face it, maybe a little far-fetched — is now grounded in actual science! Because time-traveling warriors and murderbot hybrids are plausible in a physical universe. This is like how George Lucas explained the Force with Midi-chlorians — and boy, that cleared up a lot of questions for me.)

Naturally, we need to work on the details, but according to Chad, it all ends up with Joseph defeating Asphalbelub, putting Mary and Jesus on his timechopper (cleverly disguised as the manger this whole time!) and returning to the 37th Century, where Jesus learns fighting skills and matter manipulation from his robot guru before coming back down the time stream to take on the Romans, all of which leads up to the ultimate, final confrontation between him and Mecha-Caesar.

I think you’ll agree these new elements really work to strengthen the story of Jesus’ birth.

Also, we’ve made Chad a producer on the film.

Let us know what you think — after the new year, of course. We understand there are a few holidays to get through between now and then.

Yours,

Peter Stone, VP of Story Development


Chains falling off, etc

Dec. 22nd, 2014 08:28 pm
oursin: hedgehog in santa hat saying bah humbug (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Took tomorrow off, so I am off work until the Monday after New Year. I would have taken today off, but I had two public desk slots scheduled and was highly sceptical that I would be able to find swaps, given how many people had taken today off.

But, anyway, I was able to tidy up some outstanding things, like finishing off a small cataloguing job and if not entirely moving on to the next stage of a project, getting it, I hope, to the point where I can move it forward more or less on my return to duty.

Also got off to appropriate quarters a report on a fellowship application, and a referee report on a conference paper submission -

- Is this a thing now? getting an external peer review on an abstract (even if it was a fairly long abstract) of a conference proposal??? Maybe it's a disciplinary thing. Because never in my puff have I encountered this, and it was for a conference of subdiscipline of general field that I really haven't had much to do with.

I don't feel quite as over-burdened with Things To Do over the break as usual - I've got a chapter to revise with some fairly substantive suggestions, a couple of minor things for other chapters, and possibly I should start thinking about the paper I am giving in February, but compared to some years this is lying around eating bonbons.

(While doing my Sekkrit Projekt #ifitoldyouidhavetokillyou reading...)

ETA: but, growl, that piece that I was being extensively badgered about with a deadline the week before last? due to editorial circs this online publication is not going to happen until 2nd week of New Year (with prospect that this may not actually mean, all done now).

Holiday Blogging 2014

Dec. 22nd, 2014 03:26 pm
[syndicated profile] pipeline_feed

As of today, posting will be irregular around here until New Year's. I'm not going to disappear entirely (I still have some topics backed up to write about), but the holiday season will slow things down. And I promise, as has been the practice here, to post a recipe or two, since cooking is the next thing to chemistry.

Poem: "Chance Met"

Dec. 22nd, 2014 02:17 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the April 1, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] finch. It also fills the "celebratory kiss" square in my 1-2-14 card for the [community profile] trope_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

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Posted by Whitson Gordon

The Student's Guide to Acquiring Free Food (and Networking)

Are you a student? Have you had a free meal yet today? If not, you're missing out. On just about any college campus, there's free food all over the place ripe for the picking. Reader Theteapotparty put together a guide on how to find and devour this free food, while squeezing in a bit of networking at the same time.

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Mall of America Protest

Dec. 22nd, 2014 01:38 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Mall of America oppressed protesters recently.  My thoughts ...

* Yes, protests can be inconvenient and troublesome, but they are necessary  to a healthy society.  Protests happen when purely rational methods of conflict resolution have failed.  If peaceful protests are suppressed, then violent ones are the next step, and so on down the line until the problem is solved or society comes apart at the seams.  And oh, the irony of Mall of America  oppressing protesters, when freedom of assembly and petition are among the things that the founding fathers went to war to secure.

* If you are a protester targeting a commercial installation, you get the most bang for your buck from hitting them on a day they can't recover from, such as Black Friday or right before Christmas.

* If you're caught up as a bystander in a situation like this, one safe and legal option is to put down whatever you intended to purchase, and leave.  If the establishment is a luxury stop like a mall, refuse to go back.  If it's necessary like a grocery store, you can still deny them your willing support by instead supporting petitions and other actions against them.  Tell the store why they've lost your business.  In this particular case, you might want to spend your money at a black-owned business instead.  Since the only thing some people care about is money, hit them where they live by diverting your funds from them to the people you support.

* This moves Mall of America from my list of places it would be fun to visit, to my list of places I actively disrecommend.

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Posted by Tori Reid

Seek Out a Support System Before Making Difficult Life Changes

Sometimes life throws big changes our way by surprise, and other times we can plan for them. Either way those changes are tough to handle alone. If you can, make sure you have a group of family and friends to support you along the way.

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Posted by Annalee Newitz

The CIA Explains How to Avoid a Secondary Search in Airports

Worried you'll be singled out for the hassle and humiliation of a secondary screening at the airport when traveling to another country? Wikileaks has published a leaked document from the CIA that explains what makes agents give travelers a hard time — and how you can prevent it.

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