This is why I love DS9.  Kai Winn is one of the worst people on the show, unsympathetic, conniving, and evil, and yet the show still takes time to give her nuance and complexity.

most people aren’t as bad or as good as you’d like them to be. most people aren’t bad enough or good enough to make things easy for you.



It’s something most students learn in elementary school — the United States is made up of 50 states and the District of Columbia. But Channel 9’s Justin Gray found out it’s a lesson that an Orlando agent with the Transportation Safety Administration seems to have missed.

Gray, who lives in Washington, D.C., was flying out of Orlando International Airport when a TSA agent said Gray’s District of Columbia driver’s license wasn’t a valid form of identification. Gray said his license is legal and up-to-date, but the TSA agent didn’t seem to know what the District of Columbia was when Gray arrived at the security checkpoint over the weekend.

When Gray handed the man his driver’s license the agent demanded to see Gray’s passport.

Gray told the agent he wasn’t carrying his passport and asked why he needed it. 

The agent said he didn’t recognize the license.

Gray said he asked the agent if he knew what the District of Columbia is, and after a brief conversation Gray realized the man did not know. 

Gray was able to get through security and then stopped to complain to a TSA supervisor.


3d printed armor for Barbie. The files are available for $1 on Kickstarter.

EDIT: Whoops, the Kickstarter has ended, but the STL files are now available for $29.99.


“What is [death]? It’s a fact that human beings—no matter who they are, no matter how healthy or strong or beautiful they are—are going to age and become weak and ugly by a certain standard, and die. And I think that’s a terrifying idea for people to get their minds around. […]
I think people try to make the most of their time on earth and also to fix their time on earth. They try to fix external verities, things that are true for all time, ideas that are true for all time: Rome will last forever! America will last forever! Beauty, as defined by the fashion industry, is one of those things—this is beautiful. This will always be beautiful—and hold it in a way that has some sense of permanence about it, and absoluteness. And yet it’s not.”


The New Yorker:

Ever since “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” everyone is either disrupting or being disrupted. There are disruption consultants, disruption conferences, and disruption seminars. This fall, the University of Southern California is opening a new program: “The degree is in disruption,” the university announced. “Disrupt or be disrupted,” the venture capitalist Josh Linkner warns in a new book, “The Road to Reinvention,” in which he argues that “fickle consumer trends, friction-free markets, and political unrest,” along with “dizzying speed, exponential complexity, and mind-numbing technology advances,” mean that the time has come to panic as you’ve never panicked before. Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, who blog for Forbes, insist that we have entered a new and even scarier stage: “big bang disruption.” “This isn’t disruptive innovation,” they warn. “It’s devastating innovation.”

Things you own or use that are now considered to be the product of disruptive innovation include your smartphone and many of its apps, which have disrupted businesses from travel agencies and record stores to mapmaking and taxi dispatch. Much more disruption, we are told, lies ahead. Christensen has co-written books urging disruptive innovation in higher education (“The Innovative University”), public schools (“Disrupting Class”), and health care (“The Innovator’s Prescription”). His acolytes and imitators, including no small number of hucksters, have called for the disruption of more or less everything else. If the company you work for has a chief innovation officer, it’s because of the long arm of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” If your city’s public-school district has adopted an Innovation Agenda, which has disrupted the education of every kid in the city, you live in the shadow of “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” If you saw the episode of the HBO sitcom “Silicon Valley” in which the characters attend a conference called TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 (which is a real thing), and a guy from the stage, a Paul Rudd look-alike, shouts, “Let me hear it, disss-ruppttt!,” you have heard the voice of Clay Christensen, echoing across the valley.

A pack of attacking startups sounds something like a pack of ravenous hyenas, but, generally, the rhetoric of disruption—a language of panic, fear, asymmetry, and disorder—calls on the rhetoric of another kind of conflict, in which an upstart refuses to play by the established rules of engagement, and blows things up. Don’t think of Toyota taking on Detroit. Startups are ruthless and leaderless and unrestrained, and they seem so tiny and powerless, until you realize, but only after it’s too late, that they’re devastatingly dangerous: Bang! Ka-boom! Think of it this way: the Times is a nation-state; BuzzFeed is stateless. Disruptive innovation is competitive strategy for an age seized by terror.


Disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. It’s not more than that. It doesn’t explain change. It’s not a law of nature. It’s an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it’s the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. Transfixed by change, it’s blind to continuity. It makes a very poor prophet.

The upstarts who work at startups don’t often stay at any one place for very long. (Three out of four startups fail. More than nine out of ten never earn a return.) They work a year here, a few months there—zany hours everywhere. They wear jeans and sneakers and ride scooters and share offices and sprawl on couches like Great Danes. Their coffee machines look like dollhouse-size factories.

They are told that they should be reckless and ruthless. Their investors, if they’re like Josh Linkner, tell them that the world is a terrifying place, moving at a devastating pace. “Today I run a venture capital firm and back the next generation of innovators who are, as I was throughout my earlier career, dead-focused on eating your lunch,” Linkner writes. His job appears to be to convince a generation of people who want to do good and do well to learn, instead, remorselessness. Forget rules, obligations, your conscience, loyalty, a sense of the commonweal. If you start a business and it succeeds, Linkner advises, sell it and take the cash. Don’t look back. Never pause. Disrupt or be disrupted.

But they do pause and they do look back, and they wonder. Meanwhile, they tweet, they post, they tumble in and out of love, they ponder. They send one another sly messages, touching the screens of sleek, soundless machines with a worshipful tenderness. They swap novels: David Foster Wallace, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith. “Steppenwolf” is still available in print, five dollars cheaper as an e-book. He’s a wolf, he’s a man. The rest is unreadable. So, as ever, is the future.



On his death in 1727, pioneering physicist Isaac Newton left behind a trove of manuscripts that he had shared with almost no one during his lifetime. The long-unpublished papers—containing some 10m words, or the equivalent of roughly a hundred novels—have tantalised scholars ever since. Newton famously left little published evidence of how he made his scientific discoveries. Could these private writings hold the key to understanding his genius?


The papers were in such a jumble that the whole lot—scientific and non-scientific—was sent to Cambridge where a committee was set up to catalogue and sort them. Headed by the co-discoverer of the planet Neptune, John Couch Adams, and Newton’s successor as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, George Gabriel Stokes, that committee failed spectacularly to engage with the key feature of Newton’s great archive: its alchemical and theological dimension.

This was not for lack of time, or through simple ignorance. The committee took 16 years to complete its task, during which time both Stokes and Adams in their own ways grappled with the papers. Stokes was famously prolix, disorganised and dilatory. The result was that he very nearly lost the precious Newton manuscripts amid the chaos of his study, which he’d crammed with as many tables as he could “with narrow passages between, through which to squeeze if you could.” The tables were piled with papers more than a foot high (Stokes’s wife sometimes removed “clothes-baskets full of unnecessary material” when he was out of the house). Little wonder that Stokes kept the Newton material for “so long that there was some anxiety as to whether they had been overlooked.”

Adams, meanwhile, had his own weaknesses as an editor. Famously averse to writing (he did his most important calculations in his head), Adams was a perfectionist. The Newton material with which he grappled was scientific, not religious or alchemical, and Adams gave it the full measure of his attention. The process took years, as he managed to unravel the “enigmas” that the great man had scattered across “stray papers, without any clue to the source from which they derived,” as Adams’s friend recounted. For any other man, such a feat would have been impossible, but Adams’s “mind bore naturally a great resemblance to Newton’s in many marked respects.”

In the 1870s, Isaac Newton’s private papers were turned over to a committee of Cambridge professors and chaos ensued.


Futility Closet:

In 1944, as the Allies were preparing to invade France, British Intelligence sought a way to confuse the Germans as to their plans. They hired Meyrick Clifton James (right), an Australian-born lieutenant in the Army Pay Corps who bore a striking resemblance to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who would be commanding the Allied ground troops during the invasion. David Niven, then a colonel in the Army Film Unit, invited James to London under cover as a journalist, and James set about studying the general’s speech patterns and mannerisms. Then he was conspicuously dispatched, as Monty, to Gibraltar and then to Algiers, watched by avid German spies.

It seemed to work. The plot went through “from start to finish without a hitch,” MI5 reported, “and we knew that the main feature of its story had reached the Germans.” The real Monty led the successful landings at Normandy while James recovered from the ordeal in a safe house in Cairo. “He was under terrible pressure and strain,” reported the wife of an intelligence officer detailed to look after him. “Coming out of that part was very difficult for him.” But he had some consolation: Under army rules, he would receive the equivalent of a general’s pay for every day he had impersonated Monty.


This is a blog post that’s incredibly confusing and painful for me to write.

Yesterday morning, Josh forwarded me a tweet that said:

TIL: Max Temkin, co-creator of Cards Against Humanity, raped a friend of my friend while attending Goucher College. I don’t support CAH.

We assumed this was someone making a tasteless joke, and I replied to tell him that it wasn’t funny. But after some more digging, I found a Facebook post from a girl I knew in college accusing me of sexually assaulting her, and urging people to boycott Cards Against Humanity.

This is totally, patently false. I have never sexually assaulted anyone, or previously been accused of any kind of assault.

I had a really brief relationship with this girl in college; her dorm room was next to mine, and after a few evenings staying up talking all night, we made out. We spent a few nights in each others’ rooms, but we never had sex and neither of us pressured the other into doing anything we weren’t comfortable with. After a few nights, I broke things off in the cowardly way that 19-year-old guys do, and I just stopped returning her calls and texts. I can imagine she was hurt by this, I know that I would be hurt if someone broke up with me that way.

I haven’t spoken to this girl in nearly ten years. If she felt I did something wrong in our relationship, she never confronted me about it or brought the issue to the school.

But yesterday, as near as I can tell, she saw a newspaper article about me in the Baltimore Sun, and made a Facebook post attacking me and Cards Against Humanity:

Several people that I went to school with have posted a Baltimore Sun article from 2012 about the success of Cards Against Humanity, a popular indie party game created by a Goucher alum.
That is my rapist.
Having his face pop up on my news feed unexpectedly in any context has the capacity to ruin my day. Seeing him praised in the press is giving me a panic attack.
He should not be held as a good example of the excellence that Goucher grads have, can and will continue to achieve.

Her more recent posts have called for a boycott of my work, and she (or her friends) started a Twitter account to tweet at celebrities and organizations that I work with calling me a rapist.

Part of rape culture that hurts everyone is that it makes it difficult to talk about what is and is not consent, and makes it incredibly scary for people to speak up when their boundaries are crossed. It is entirely possible she read something completely different than I did into an awkward college hookup. If any part of that was traumatic for her, I am sincerely sorry, and I wish we would have had a chance to address it privately. I’ve sent her an email and a Facebook message and given her my contact information, but so far I haven’t heard back (but she did edit her post to remove my name).

I spoke with my lawyer, and she thinks I have a clear case to sue this woman for libel and get a restraining order, but I have no desire to bully or harm her. Additionally, I’m not wild about the precedent that sets for other women to come forward in cases of actual sexual assault.

I have made a career on the incredible power of social media, and the radical new ability that we all have to say whatever we want to a mass audience. Today I can’t help but feel hurt by those same tools that I love.

There is no evidence for this story. I will never have a chance to defend myself. The structure of the modern internet is such that these things never reach resolution and never go away. This is just baseless gossip that will now haunt me for the rest of my life.

Here’s what’s going to happen moving forward:



The person who runs the bellasbooty Instagram account is sad.

bellasbooty, if you’re not following it, is exactly what it sounds like: an Instagram account devoted to Bella Thorne’s booty. (Bella, if you don’t follow the Disney starlet universe, is a 16-year-old actress/model/dancer, most famous for the show Shake It Up and for being the current Candie’s spokesmodel.)

The bellasbooty IG features pictures of the actress from behind—sometimes paparazzi photos, sometimes regrams from Bella’s official Instagram (bellathorne), sometimes carefully frozen vidcaps. 

There are a lot of fan-run Bella Thorne IG accounts; the key differentiator of the bellasbooty account is that it isn’t JUST pictures of Bella’s booty, it’s written from the perspective of Bella’s booty. Most of the photo descriptions are written in the 1st person, and many posts make reference to “us”, as though Bella and her booty are distinct entities, working together to entertain the public.

Late in 2013 bellasbooty was followed by Bella’s official IG, which lent the bellasbooty account a sort of legitimacy and, one imagines, encouraged the person behind the account in their first-person narrative role-play as bellasbooty. 

(Interestingly, all the pictures posted prior to Bella following the account have since been deleted. Maybe they weren’t written in the booty persona, and thus non-canon?)

Well, so. Late last month Bella unfollowed bellasbooty. Bella was presumable no longer interested in receiving updates from her talking booty. Maybe she thought: You know what, my IG tl is getting crowded and I see my own butt every day anyway. Or maybe she thought: Maybe this isn’t the type of person you encourage on social media. 

In any case, the person who runs bellasbooty is distraught. Since then they have only posted blank black images, with impassioned text imploring Bella to refollow. There is no booty now, only nothingness. 

There are a lot of interesting things happening in and around this, if you can lift the rock: objectification as a legitimized form of brand marketing; consensual and non-consensual forms of evangelism; fair use as it applies not only to photographs but also body parts; the arrival (or decline?) of fan fiction as just another marketing channel; the utter irrelevance of copyright (remember copyright?) on Instagram; under-age women as property (and/or: celebrities as digital commons); the difference between brand ambassador and potential threat. 

Anyway. We’ve all idolized a celebrity at some point. Many of us have created tributes to those celebrities. Very few of us have actually been recognized by the celebrity for doing so. But then! To be shunned, cast out, to have our creation dismissed. To be unfollowed. That’s where things get dark.


sdcoiner76 asked: “Was wondering in any of your talks with female members of the games industry if the subject of early childhood pressures came up. I have noticed with my kids' friends & family members there seems to be a stigma with girls wanting to do "boy stuff". The sad thing is that it comes mostly from other girls not the guys. Girls will be "nerdy" around the boys and family but the minute they are with their friends they are suddenly ashamed of it. I know 30yr olds that still act like that. Makes me sad.”

Bacon wasn’t considered a breakfast food until an advertising executive named Edward Bernays marketed it that way in the 1920s.


Social norms stay with us for a very long time. Just like any other habit, it’s hard to break, and we might not even realize what’s actually happened along the way. Tracey Lien reported a terrific piece for Polygon last year about the impact of gendered marketing. I’d recommend giving it a read.

Take this crazy factoid:

President of the marketing firm A Squared Group Amy Cotteleer says that marketing is so powerful that it can shape our values and beliefs, and we’re often not even aware that it’s happening. Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns in the 1920s are the reason why the modern-day image of Santa Claus is a jovial, plump man in a Coca-Cola Red suit. Prior to Coca-Cola, there was no consistent image of Santa. He was often represented as a skinny man who sometimes wore green and sometimes wore brown. So if Coca-Cola could sell us the modern-day Santa, the game industry would not have had much trouble selling the idea that video games are for males.

Until the 1920s most Americans had a relatively light breakfast, usually coffee, a roll and orange juice. In 1925 the Beech-Nut Packing Company hired Edward Bernays to increase bacon sales.

Instead of simply telling people to eat more bacon he commissioned a “scientific study” in which 5,000 physicians were asked if a “hearty breakfast was better than a light breakfast to replace the energy lost by the body at night. As expected, most doctors said a “hearty” breakfast was better. These “results” were reported back to doctors throughout the country, and in the print and broadcast media, along with advertising for Beech-Nut’s bacon. Bacon and eggs were presented as the “hearty” breakfast to boost energy and vitality.

This was an extremely successful marketing campaign that used “scientific” information, a trusted authority figure, word of mouth and our subconscious desires for more energy and vitality which would now forever be associated with bacon. Beech-Nut’s profits soared and the “all-American breakfast of bacon and eggs” was born.

Today, 70 percent of bacon eaten in the US is eaten at breakfast.


The Washington Post:

A Manassas City teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said. A Prince William County judge allowed the 17-year-old to leave the area without the warrant being served or the pictures being taken — yet.

The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration until he’s 21, but inclusion on the state sex offender data base for, possibly, the rest of his life. David Culver of NBC Washington first reported the story and interviewed the teen’s guardian, his aunt, who was shocked at the lengths Prince William authorities were willing to go to make a sexting case in juvenile court.

“The prosecutor’s job is to seek justice,” said the teen’s defense lawyer, Jessica Harbeson Foster. “What is just about this? How does this advance the interest of the Commonwealth? This is a 17-year-old who goes to school every day, plays football, has never been in trouble with the law before. Now he’s saddled with two felonies and the implication that he’s a sexual predator. I don’t mind trying the case. My goal is to stop the search warrant. I don’t want him to go through that. Taking him down to the hospital so he can get an erection in front of all those cops, that’s traumatizing.”


Carlos Flores Laboy, appointed the teen’s guardian ad litem in the case, said he thought it was just as illegal for the Manassas City police to create their own child pornography as to investigate the teen for it. “They’re using a statute that was designed to protect children from being exploited in a sexual manner,” Flores Laboy said, “to take a picture of this young man in a sexually explicit manner. The irony is incredible.” The guardian added, “As a parent myself, I was floored. It’s child abuse. We’re wasting thousands of dollars and resources and man hours on a sexting case. That’s what we’re doing.”

Foster said Detective Abbott told her that after obtaining photos of the teen’s erect penis he would “use special software to compare pictures of this penis to this penis. Who does this? It’s just crazy.”

Great law enforcement.


Midnight radio on WGN.


The Onion:

Highlighting increasingly dangerous conditions within the city, a new study published Monday by Northwestern University’s Department of Environmental Studies revealed that approximately 75 percent of the air in Chicago is now composed of bullets. “Far exceeding the levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and even oxygen, bullets now constitute three-fourths of Chicago’s air supply,” said atmospheric scientist and study coauthor John Molina, stressing that the dense and widespread deposits of jacketed lead and copper in the air pose severe and potentially fatal health risks to all Chicago residents. “According to our measurements, the proportion of bullets in Chicago’s overall air composition is significantly higher than that of other cities with comparable sizes and population densities. Frankly, if this trend continues—and there is unfortunately little evidence suggesting otherwise—living safely within the confines of Chicago will be almost impossible.” Molina went on to suggest that Chicago’s 2.7 million residents stay indoors whenever possible in order to minimize their exposure.


LA Times:

Like many peasants from the outskirts of Yanan, China, Ren Shouhua was born in a cave and lived there until he got a job in the city and moved into a concrete-block house.

His progression made sense as he strove to improve his life. But there’s a twist: The 46-year-old Ren plans to move back to a cave when he retires.

"It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s quiet and safe," said Ren, a ruddy-faced man with salt-and-pepper hair who moved to the Shaanxi provincial capital, Xian, in his 20s. "When I get old, I’d like to go back to my roots."

More than 30 million Chinese people live in caves, many of them in Shaanxi province where the Loess plateau, with its distinctive cliffs of yellow, porous soil, makes digging easy and cave dwelling a reasonable option.

Each of the province’s caves, yaodong, in Chinese, typically has a long vaulted room dug into the side of a mountain with a semicircular entrance covered with rice paper or colorful quilts. People hang decorations on the walls, often a portrait of Mao Tse-tung or a photograph of a movie star torn out of a glossy magazine.

The better caves protrude from the mountain and are reinforced with brick masonry. Some are connected laterally so a family can have several chambers. Electricity and even running water can be brought in.

"Most aren’t so fancy, but I’ve seen some really beautiful caves: high ceilings and spacious with a nice yard out front where you can exercise and sit in the sun," said Ren, who works as a driver and is the son of a wheat and millet farmer.

In China, 30 million people live in caves. In the stone age, there were only 5 million people alive. So there are more cavemen alive now than in the stone age.