[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Marc Abrahams

Dr. Nakamats, the world’s most prolific (more than 3500 patents) inventor, and winner of the 2005 Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition, had just obtained yet another patent. His Extra-functional eyeglasses function as traditional eyeglasses do, and also perform extra services for the person wearing them. The invention exists in several different flavors:


  • Night-walking glasses, which provide light when the surroundings are dark changing-eye-color glasses, for the person who wishes to appear to have a new eye color
  • Silent-communication glasses, for the person who is too shy to speak words but would not mind having the glasses display printed words and thoughts
  • Hiding-eye-wrinkles-glasses, for the person who wishes to hide eye wrinkles
  • Conference-glasses, for the person who is tired, and wishes to sleep unnoticed during a meeting

Here are some technical drawings from the patent document:



Here is the inventor modeling his Silent-communication glasses:


And here is the inventor, modeling his Night-walking glasses:


VIDEO: Dr. Nakamats sent us action video of him modeling the various forms of the invention. We shall endeavor to post that video on the Improbable Research Facebook page.

Ps. Dr. Nakamats informs us that he is “still not dead”. [For background on that see the report called “Dr. Nakamats, Continued!“]

Why are the Lib Dems partying like it’s 1993?

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 03:07 am
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by David Herdson

They’re another party that has returned to comfort-zone politics

They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. So Talleyrand said of the Bourbons and so much the same might be said of the Lib Dems today. If there’s one thing that we should take from the Witney by-election campaigns, it was the extent to which 2010-15 are now for the Lib Dems non-years.

With the disagreeable business of actually holding power and being able to do something with it now behind them, the Lib Dems are now clearly back to what they enjoy most: fighting by-elections. It’s something they believe they’re good at and going by local results this year, they have a point, with far more gains than anyone else and with Con and Lab both in reverse – though it should be noted that their results at the May elections were a good deal worse, recouping fewer than one in seven of the seats they lost in the same election round in 2012.

On the other hand, it’s now more than a decade since the Lib Dems last gained a seat at a Westminster by-election, and more than 16 years since they gained one from the Conservatives. Despite some overly optimistic assertions before the event, they never came close in Witney.

Nor was it ever likely they would. They’d have needed one of the biggest swings in history and to have come from fourth which would have been an almost unprecedented achievement. Perhaps, were the Conservatives unpopular, it might just have been on. Against a party polling in the mid-40s nationally, and with the Lib Dems starting fourth locally – more than 55% behind the Tories – it never was, no matter how intensively Farron’s followers campaigned and the apparently large number of bets staked to that end.

That shouldn’t diminish what was in many ways a good result. To climb back to second and to gain a near-20% swing were undoubtedly impressive achievements, if well short of those needed to win. Indeed, Labour ought to be asking themselves questions about how they let their challenger position slip, having finished second in Witney not only last time but in four of the last six general elections.

But in remembering all the techniques from the glory days of the 1980s and 1990s – the bar-charts, the two-horse races, the tactical ‘lent’ votes, and so on – they have failed to learn anything from their time in power about a wider truth: that elections are means to an end; to the exercise of power, not an end in themselves.

Perhaps this is one reason why the larger parties struggle to be as motivated as the Lib Dems for by-elections: by-elections simply provide neither the consequence nor the sport for them that they do for the Yellow Team.

Because while the tactical game is all very well in one-off elections, it’s only possible to maintain at general elections while two conditions are met: firstly, fights need to be kept local as much as possible, so that they can appeal to Tories in one place to keep Labour out, to Labour supporters elsewhere to keep the Tories out, and to both in others to keep the SNP out. And secondly, the party needs to be transfer-friendly at a national level. As soon as a party whose election machine is built on tactical voting comes into contact with the responsibility and accountability of power, both conditions break down and you end up going from holding fifty-odd seats to eight. So much there for tactical votes, personal votes or a superior ground game. And eventually, a centrist party with a reasonable number of seats will be faced with a situation where they cannot avoid choosing which of two larger parties will form a government (or whether to force fresh elections).

Yet Farron seems to have learned nothing from that devastating lesson. Perhaps the experience is still too raw or perhaps Farron, who never went near power himself during the Coalition, understands it only in the negative and isn’t yet willing to act on its implications. Once again, the short-term highs of by-election success (or, as in Witney, commendable advance), is allowed to trump longer-term positioning or the Lib Dems’ ability to influence policy.

Those who fail to learn from history will be condemned to repeat it. Talleyrand was on hand to see the natural consequences of his observation for the House of Bourbon as they were ejected from power a second time in 1830. Unless Farron can move his party on from trying to endlessly relive Newbury and Christchurch and instead build up a support base formed on positive support for the Lib Dems’ policies and values, they too will set themselves on the road of an inevitable future downfall.

David Herdson

[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Sam Machkovech

Facebook's guidelines visually sum up "offensive things" with this blue text balloon. Meaning, it doesn't resemble a "fully exposed buttock."

Facebook's guidelines visually sum up "offensive things" with this blue text balloon. Meaning, it doesn't resemble a "fully exposed buttock."

Images and posts of cultural importance sometimes fly in the face of conventional standards of offense, a fact that online services haven't always fully parsed. As a social-media gatekeeper, Facebook acknowledged some of its failures in this regard on Friday by announcing that it had begun easing up on banning images and posts that violate the site's guidelines—while simultaneously contending with allegations that it had previously bent those rules in favor of Donald Trump.

The guideline-related announcement follows an early September dust-up over the site banning and removing a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken during the Vietnam War. The photo shows a crowd of crying, screaming children, including a fully nude 9-year-old girl, running away from a napalm strike. At the time, Facebook had summarily banned all posts of the image, even by those protesting its removal from the site. In some cases, Facebook issued temporary site bans to users who'd uploaded the image. The social media giant eventually relented and allowed those original posts to reappear as they had originally been posted.

Facebook says that it will not update the site's current guidelines, which currently prohibit images that include "genitals, "fully exposed buttocks," and "some images of female breasts if they expose the nipple." (Those rules were updated in 2015 to permit images of breastfeeding, years after users complained about that restriction.) Instead, the site will "begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest—even if they might otherwise violate our standards," according to the pair of Facebook VPs who co-signed the letter.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Posted by Joe Mullin

Enlarge (credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

After a few years shaking down Internet users over piracy claims, the lawyers behind the Prenda law copyright-trolling operation were repeatedly sanctioned by federal judges. Now, their careers are in shambles—Paul Hansmeier had his law license suspended, John Steele is facing a bar complaint, and both may be facing an FBI investigation. (A third lawyer who was involved, Paul Duffy, passed away last year.)

Even as their scheme collapses, they continue to be hit with sanctions. This week, Hansmeier and Steele got hit with a big one. US District Judge John Darrah oversaw litigation related to one of Prenda's most audacious moves—their defamation lawsuit against their critics. They sued Steele's former housekeeper, Alan Cooper, and his lawyer, Paul Godfread, for accusing Steele of identity theft. For good measure, they also sued anonymous blog commenters who called Prenda attorneys "brain-dead" and "assclowns."

The defamation lawsuit resulted in a $12,000 sanction, but Godfread and Cooper also pushed an anti-SLAPP case against Hansmeier and Steele. Now that has resulted in Prenda's largest sanction yet—a sanction order for more than $600,000.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Posted by Cyrus Farivar

Enlarge (credit: Ulrich Baumgarten / Getty Images News)

The federal public defenders for Harold Martin, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing a large amount of highly classified data and documents, asked the judge to release their client on bail in a late Thursday evening court filing.

Earlier on Thursday, prosecutors told US Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner that Martin is a flight risk and should be kept in custody. In their own filing, the government argued that Martin, who held top-secret clearance while he was a contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, is a flight risk. The feds noted that they would be seeking to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. (Martin was fired from his job and was stripped of his clearance once his criminal prosecution surfaced.)

In the three-page response, Martin’s lawyers, James Wyda and Deborah Boardman, argued that Martin “does not pose a serious risk of flight.” They note that in a slew of similar cases, including those that involved Gen. David Petraeus and former high-level NSA official Thomas Drake, the accused was not detained pending trial.

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[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Keisha Hatchett


A Wrinkle in Time already gave you reason to watch when it was announced that Ava DuVernay had signed on to direct. Then, it was announced that Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling would be joining the cast as Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who, respectively. Now, it looks like Beyond the Lights and Belle star Gugu Mbatha-Raw has hopped on board, making it that much more imperative that you see this film in theaters.

She is set to play Dr. Murray, scientist and mother of four children, including 13-year-old protagonist, Meg (to be played by Storm Reid). According to Deadline, Chris Pine will also star as her husband, Mr. Murray, another scientist.

The story follows outcast and math whiz Meg, as she embarks on a journey to find her father, who has gone missing after working on a mysterious project called the tesseract. The script was written by Jennifer Lee, who also co-wrote Frozen, and production is slated to begin this fall.

After hearing that DuVernay actively hired women to work behind the scenes and seeing this cast come together, I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. Do you share the same sentiments?

(via Deadline, image via screencap)

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Posted by Maddy Myers

Aziz Ansari recorded a video for The Other 98% encouraging folks to get out there and vote in the U.S. presidential election, but he’s not happy that he had to do it. I mean, come on. Do you really need Aziz to tell you to vote? You know how important this is, right? RIGHT??? Sheesh. (image via David Shankbone on Flickr)

  • Hamilton’s America, a documentary about the making of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s mega-hit Broadway musical, will be live-streaming for all to enjoy on the Great Performances Facebook page tomorrow night, as well as on PBS, at 9 PM! (via Broadway World)
  • Speaking of Broadway, 13 Going on 30 is getting adapted into a musical.
  • This latest Pokemon Sun and Moon advertisement isn’t aimed at the youth of today, but rather, at lapsed Pokemon fans who grew up with the ol’ Gameboy games. So, probably, it’s made for viewers like you. (via Eurogamer)
  • If you liked the new music for Netflix’s latest season of Black Mirror, you can now stream the soundtrack. Oh, by the way, there’s new Black Mirror eps out today!
  • Geek.com has a comprehensive history of Princess Leia’s iconic gold bikini, how Carrie Fisher felt about having to wear it, and all the inappropriate behavior she endured from leering crew members on set. Barf.
  • Ready Player One actress Letitia Wright has joined the star-studded Black Panther cast! (via Variety)
  • Netflix is adapting a new Anne of Green Gables series, and they’ve just cast their Anne Shirley: 14-year-old Irish-Canadian actress Amybeth McNulty. (via Den of Geek)

That’s about it for us, today! Whew. What’d you all see?

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

GeekGirlCon is by far my favorite pop culture convention experience in the country (#SorryNotSorry SDCC!). While still small when compared to cons like SDCC and NYCC, in the past few years it’s gone from about 2,500 attendees to over 11,000, which goes to show that this Seattle convention has become increasingly worth our time and attention. Another organization that has grown immensely in the past few years? Feminist Frequency, which has gone from being a labor of love started by Anita Sarkeesian on her own in her apartment to fully-fledged non-profit with a staff and several video projects in the works.

Feminist Frequency’s presence at GeekGirlCon reflected that growth, this being the first year they had a table in the exhibitor’s hall. I had the chance to sit down and talk to Sarkeesian in an interview that you can check out in the video above! We discuss how far Feminist Frequency has come, the importance of safe geek spaces like GeekGirlCon and GaymerX, and why we both love Bob’s Burgers so much. Enjoy!

(image via screencap)

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[syndicated profile] liberal_england_feed

Don't take my word for it: read Stephen Bush in the New Statesman:
One thing is clear: the "Liberal Democrat fightback" is not just a hashtag. The party has been doing particularly well in affluent Conservative areas that voted to stay in the European Union. (It's worth noting that one seat that very much fits that profile is Theresa May's own stomping ground of Maidenhead.) 
It means that if, as looks likely, Zac Goldsmith triggers a by-election over Heathrow, the Liberal Democrats will consider themselves favourites if they can find a top-tier candidate with decent local connections. 
They also start with their by-election machine having done very well indeed out of what you might call its “open beta” in Witney. The county council elections next year, too, should be low hanging fruit for [them].
[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Jessica Lachenal

Do you hear that high-pitched noise far off in the distance? That’s all of us on The Mary Sue staff screaming in utter excitement.

Lucasfilm just announced via the Star Wars official website that Donald Glover will be playing Lando Calrissian in the forthcoming Han Solo Star Wars Story movie. He’ll be joining Alden Ehrenreich, who was announced as taking on the smuggler role earlier this year. The search continues as well for a woman of color to take on the female lead role in the movie, which we’re guessing will be Sana Starros (total speculation, of course).

We wrote about Glover’s knowledge of the rumors surrounding his casting, to which he gave a somewhat coy response. All he could say was that the rumors did indeed exist (uh-huh), and now we know that they’ve been proven to be true.

In all honesty, Glover is going to make a fantastic Lando. He’s got great depth when it comes to his acting ability, and more than that, his geek cred certainly stands out. If anybody’s got the most extra insight into this role, it’s got to be Glover.

Anyway, here’s what happened in our Slack when we found out the news:

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-2-16-45-pm screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-2-17-03-pm screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-2-17-18-pm

*ahem* Yeah we’re excited.

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Friday's Unscientific Poll: Basket or boat?

Friday, October 21st, 2016 10:27 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila

I call this a laundry basket. Keiki and Humuhumu claim they are in a boat.

Poll #17709 Basket or boat?
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 16

They are sitting in a

View Answers

2 (25.0%)

6 (75.0%)

That oblong of white plastic contains multitudes. Do not constraint its identity as above.

View Answers

14 (100.0%)

Master bullshit analyst graduates, heads off to Yale

Friday, October 21st, 2016 08:03 pm
[syndicated profile] improbable_research_feed

Posted by Marc Abrahams

The University of Waterloo celebrated the graduation of Gordon Pennycook, who last month, together with his colleagues, was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize. The university writes:


Psych scholar whose research gained global attention graduates
Gordon Pennycook published research on everything from BS to how smartphone use is linked to lazy thinking. Now he’s on a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University

…Pennycook, who graduates this week with a doctorate in psychology from Waterloo, is currently at Yale University on a prestigious Banting postdoctoral fellowship. He will receive the Alumni Gold Medal for outstanding academic achievement at Waterloo’s 113th convocation ceremonies taking place on Friday October 21 and Saturday October 22.

The numerous studies he led and co-authored while a graduate student explore topics such as religious belief, moral judgments and values, creativity, smartphone use, health beliefs, science communication, and bullshit receptivity. The last of these studies, titled “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,” won a 2016 Ig Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Pennycook and his co-authors just last month at Harvard University.

“We are not nearly as good at detecting bullshit as we think,” wrote Pennycook in a non-academic online publication.

The BS paper attracted plenty of media coverage and interviews, most recently on the current US election….

[syndicated profile] liberal_england_feed

So said Alec Shelbrooke, a Tory MP who has hitherto flown beneath the radar of this blog, of Gary Lineker.

But he can be both. There are plenty of precedents.

The great John Arlott fought Epping for the Liberal Party at the 1955 and 1959 general elections.

Not only that: he was a regular panelist on Any Questions? which made him about the best known Liberal in the country before the party's revival under Jo Grimond.

A second member of the Test Match Special team, Alan Gibson, was a supporter of the Liberals. He fought Falmouth and Camborne in 1959.

And, as Andrew Hickey remined me on Twitter today, David Icke was one of the Green Party's principal spokespeople when  he still worked for BBC Sport.

If Shelbrooke would prefer a right-wing example, he need look no further that Denis Compton.

While a member of the BBC's television commentary team for test matches he fronted the organisation Freedom in Sport, which sought to re-establish fixtures with Apartheid-era South Africa.

So Gary Lineker could certainly be a political activist and a BBC sports journalist if he chose. So far, of course, he has done no more than offer an opinion.
[syndicated profile] the_mary_sue_feed

Posted by Keisha Hatchett

This week, comedian Jena Friedman debuted her first hour-long special American Cunt on Seeso and it’s sure to offer up a refreshing take on today’s political circus. I know this because I saw a preview of her show in which she likened Bernie Sanders to a diva cup because he’s “better for the environment,” Hillary Clinton to a tampon and Donald Trump to, well, a douche bag.

Just before she took the stage, I got to speak to her about what it’s like to be a woman in the comedy world, and if falling into “white feminism” was ever a concern for her.


Comedians often put their personal lives out there. Is there anything off limits for you?

At the moment, it’s my personal life. I wanted the show that I’m doing [right now] to just be outward and political. So I don’t really talk about my personal life on stage but I don’t think anything is off limits.

Is there a reason for that?

I just wanted to do a show that was a little more outward. I do think as a comedian, especially a female comedian, you can talk about anything you want as long as you find your own point of view but I do also think personally, as a comic coming up in my 20s, I was encouraged to talk about sex and boyfriends because that’s kinda how guys listen. Like if a female comic gets on stage…I feel like we’re conditioned to talk about those kinds of things. I remember doing a show in London when I was 25 and they announced my name and the whole front row disappeared to get beers. You know, everybody wants to be a fly on the wall of a 20-something girl’s social life. So with this show, I tried to be more political and outward and not personal. But I also don’t wanna discourage anybody from being personal.

Right now, we’re hearing a lot about representation in regard to TV and film. Do you feel like comedians get left out of the conversation?

I actually think we talk about it a lot and I don’t think we should stop. I’m not tired of that conversation because I think we kinda always have to have gender and racial equality on the forefront of our minds.

There’s Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham, who are outspoken feminists, but who also raise concern about “white feminism.” Is that at concern for you as well?

I think being inclusive is important. I think when you take a stand on any issue, you open yourself up to a lot more analysis from the left. It’s hard to be a feminist and check all the boxes. It’s hard to be any sort of activist and check all the boxes. And also, how does that relate to being funny? So I think it is really challenging. But yeah, I think it’s important not to be colorblind. And I do try, there’s like a feminist meetup, trying to make sure that [there’s] representation of all types of women, you know, trans women as well.

What are some things that make you geek out?

Infectious diseases. Seriously. It’s astounding to me. I was really interested in, terrified of Ebola, Zika, different influenzas. I get really in the weeds and try to understand those diseases. If I weren’t a comedian, I maybe would have been an epidemiologist.

What else are you working on?

I have a pilot we just shot for TruTV and I’m developing a show in the UK. Then a film that I’m trying to get off the ground that I wrote and am directing.


You can catch Friedman in action with her American Cunt special, available now on Seeso and Amazon.

(image via screencap)

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Posted by Addison Peacock


The psychological horror film Hush, co-written by and starring Kate Siegel, has earned a coveted 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and high praise from Stephen King. The film has been praised on sites dedicated to horror, feminism and film alike, including The Line-Up, Dread Central, and xoJane.

Siegel appears in Ouija: Origin of Evil, out this weekend and directed by Hush director/co-writer Mike Flanagan. I reached out to Siegel to ask about Ouija, Hush, and the importance of women in horror. What I got was a conversation with the sort of artist that we all can admire. When Siegel acknowledges her mistakes, it is deeply thoughtful and contrite. She has a refreshing voice that horror needs right now, and is just the sort of heroine that she writes about: clever, resilient, innovative, and certain to survive.

Addison Peacock (TMS): I wanted to get started talking specifically about Ouija: Origin of Evil because it comes out on Friday. What should fans of your other work look forward to about the movie?

Kate Siegel: Well, the first thing I want to be clear about with Ouija is that my role is more like a cameo than a major role. I would not be like “hey fans of Kate Siegel, you’ll see lots of Kate Siegel in this movie.” But it is an awesome film; it is really terrific and scary and creepy, and very feminist. I think people will love that it’s about family, that it’s a period piece. It’s a thriller and a horror genre staple in the making.


You mentioned that Ouija: Origin of Evil is a feminist film; could you clarify that?

The heart of this movie is a single mother and her two daughters, which is something we almost never find in the genre. It’s a really fun movie to watch, you don’t find yourself pulled out of the film by gratuitous nudity, gratuitous sex, and gratuitous hot young teenagers running around. It’s a movie about a family that doesn’t have a father, and a single mom struggling to figure out how to raise two girls in the 60s.

Box office numbers have shown that many more women are going to see horror movies now than men. As a woman who enjoys horror as a viewer, and also creates it as an actor and writer, why do you think that is? What draws women in particular to the genre?

I think that women often are asked to minimize or negate our emotional experiences, but we feel things very deeply. Horror gives us the opportunity to experience extreme situations in a very safe way. We can have an outlet for feeling overwhelmed, for feeling afraid. There is a uniquely female experience of walking in the dark and feeling like something’s behind you. When you see it onscreen, I think we identify so clearly with these extreme terror moments. In real life people will often tell us we’re overreacting, or taking it too seriously, “it was just a joke”. It’s fun to be able to explore those emotional states through film knowing that the lights will come up and nobody will actually be dead. I think that there’s something that speaks to the divinely feminine in horror.


There are a lot of films in recent years like Hush, The Babadook, and others that seem to show a recent uptick in well-received horror films with female writers, directors and protagonists. What do you think is contributing to this?

The genre is unique because, if a movie is scary enough, it doesn’t need tons of money or a big name. Generally, the movies that fly under the radar can take more risks. And, for some reason, they see woman writers or female leads over the age of 22 as being a risk. But I do think that is changing! There is a desire for female voices and heroines of color, and hopefully that trend will continue. Horror will lead the way in that, because cream will really rise to the top. It’s one of the last places where story’s allowed to be king.

There’s been a lot of discussion of Hush’s deaf heroine. Did you feel a sense of pressure undertaking the task of writing and portraying someone whose experience is so different from your own?

For all of its positive feedback, there was a bit of backlash from the deaf community for not casting a deaf actress. When I wrote the script, I wasn’t aware of my exclusion of that community. As we began promoting, I began to learn that the community is fiercely independent, very capable, and takes it extremely personally when someone tries to portray a deaf character who is not deaf. I learned that I was being offensive, and that was very difficult for me. By the time the ball was rolling, it wasn’t possible to stop it. I thought “there’s a couple of options here: one is to try and be the perfect portrayal of a deaf person, which I can’t do because I’m not,” so I thought: I will be the most authentic version of Maddie Young that I can be, hopefully that will somehow ease some of this offense. I hope that it did. Something that people liked about Hush was that her weakness became her strength. I learned a lot about hearing privilege, white privilege, and about the assumptions I made before I wrote the script. I’m grateful for the knowledge I got about it; I learned a lot about my privilege as a hearing actress.

It’s important for storytellers trying to address stories that are not their own to be willing to apologize when you’re wrong?

Absolutely. I have a stepson who’s six years old, and we talk a lot about making mistakes. That’s how you learn. Not repetition, not memorizing, you make a mistake and you learn. You listen. You don’t know you’re doing it until someone points it out to you, and it is so embarrassing when they do. You’re thinking: I’m not that person, I don’t want to be perceived as that person. That’s the wrong point of view. You shouldn’t think about yourself when someone points out your privilege; you need to think about the person who is talking, you need to listen to them, and then, yes, you must apologize. Everyone wants to be heard. Hush is a metaphor for a time in my life when I didn’t feel heard at all. I felt like I was screaming, nobody was listening to me, and I couldn’t affect change in the world around me. That’s what’s so painful about feeling that I’ve insulted a community. It didn’t occur to me that, in writing this metaphor, I was making a whole community feel unheard.

How can we make horror (and film) a better place for women to work and create art that we can be proud of?

I think that the drought of opportunities has created competitiveness between women that doesn’t help us. Thee answer is: help the women get jobs. Find the women you love, go out there and write women, work with women, choose women to be in the writer’s room with you. Help pull up those beneath you, those people reach their hands down and pull up those beneath them, we do it like a ladder. The lack of opportunities has made us so competitive with each other that as writers and directors you get hesitant to include other women, then women of color and women with disabilities get even fewer opportunities. There’s so much infighting, we all need to stop this rhetoric that women don’t like women. I think women are the best! We have to invest in each other, over and over again.

I wanted to talk about your identity as a writer vs. an actor. What is your preferred way of storytelling? What makes you feel heard?

I love to get on my feminist soapbox and write. You can be a feminist actress, but you’re still hired to do a job. It’s like being a “feminist plumber.” You still have to fix the pipes. The feminism sits in the writing in stuff I’m working on, that lives in Maddie’s world where a woman that we normally wouldn’t see is the heroine. There’s one that’s been floating around my head about a postpartum mother who just gave birth. We never see those women, because we’re not going to be showering as much. I am not going to putting on a string bikini and running away from Michael Myers when I give birth. With acting, what I do is try not to take scripts that I wouldn’t want to show my daughter someday.

Hush images via Netflix; Ouija poster via Universal Pictures

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Addison Peacock was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Northern Virginia. She is in the process of earning her BFA in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory, where she trains as an actor, singer, and dancer. You can find Addison watching and debating the worst movies on Rotten Tomatoes on her comedy podcast Zero to Zero, and voice acting on The Nosleep Podcast.

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

Benoist Supergirl 2

This morning, we saw the most adorable photos of a little kid dressed up as Wonder Woman, made all the more awesome by her photographer father’s rad photo skills. Now, we’ve got the most adorable school photo I know I’ve ever seen (sorry everyone else). For school picture day, Kaylieann Steinbach wanted to dress up as one of her favorite heroes: Supergirl. Thanks to some totally down parents and a really nice school photographer, she got her wish.

Kaylieann’s father, Austin Steinbach, described the moment when she had to get dressed for school to ABC News. He said, “On picture day at school she was given the choice of outfits, none of which were Supergirl. She walked up, looked over each of her choices, turned and said, ‘POOTERGIRL!’ And well, I couldn’t argue with that answer.” The little girl knows what she wants, and that’s totally rad.

Steinbach went on to explain how Kaylieann’s had to overcome some significant obstacles already, just like Supergirl. “She has always loved ‘pooterman/pootergirl’ as she has profound hearing loss in both ears and cannot hear ‘S’s,” said Steinbach. “But during September we went to the San Francisco Comic Con and she went as Supergirl to that and refused to take off her costume since. Eventually it was replaced with a Spider-Man one so I could wash the Supergirl.”

More power to you, Supergirl, and your parents. Stay awesome!

(via Yahoo!, featured image via The CW)

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Posted by Teresa Jusino


*UPDATED 5:52PM – a reader informed me that Lynda Carter is part Latina, which I looked up and confirmed! I had no idea that she was part Mexican, and I was thrilled to hear it. I’ve altered my text below to reflect this fact. As a Latina myself, this means so much to me, and I’m sorry to have gone this long not knowing this! – Teresa*

Earlier today, in a ceremony at the United Nations, Wonder Woman was named an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, in conjunction with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #5 which, according to a press release, “focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a critical component of a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.” However, there are those at the UN who were not thrilled with this particular choice of ambassador.

As reported in the New York Times, over 600 members of the UN staff have signed an online petition calling for the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to reconsider using Wonder Woman in this way, preferring instead that a flesh-and-blood woman with a proven track record of activism, rather than a fictional character, be bestowed with this honor. Part of the petition reads:

Wonder Woman was created 75 years ago. Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent “warrior” woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a “pin-up” girl. This is the character that the United Nations has decided to represent a globally important issue – that of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. It appears that this character will be promoted as the face of sustainable development goal 5 for the United Nations at large.

The online petition was followed up by an IRL protest during the ceremony itself. According to Revelist, several dozen protesters held up their fists with their backs turned on the proceedings in silent protest of the decision.


As a woman of color who loves comics and empowering women, I have mixed feelings about this whole thing.

On the one hand, I understand the hesitation on this. Had anyone asked me (PS, no one did), I would’ve suggested that they have Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador and an actual, real-life human woman as a goodwill ambassador, or vice versa. This is especially sensitive, considering the fact that the United Nations has never had a female Secretary General. This month, the UN apparently rejected seven female candidates for the position in a year when everyone was certain it was going to be a woman’s turn, only to name António Guterres of Argentina as the next Secretary General.

THAT sucks. In fact, that’s unconscionable. How are you going to claim a Sustainable Development Goal like “empowering women” while not empowering women in your own organization? THAT, quite frankly, is some bullshit, and THAT needs to be called out, for sure.

But it also has nothing to do with Wonder Woman being chosen as a symbol of female empowerment, and the petition, while understandable, also reeks of ignorance about the character and a lack of self-awareness as far as what the UN has always done, rightfully so, as far as creating these symbolic positions to raise awareness.

Let’s talk character first:

  • “Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent “warrior” woman with a feminist message” – she was never just a warrior. Wonder Woman has always been about love and peace first, war as a very last resort, and only defensively.
  • “the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a “pin-up” girl.” – So much to unpack here: 1) of which “current iteration” are they speaking? Do they know she has several titles with several different creative teams, each doing very different takes?, 2) her appearance changes with every artist, as does the size of her breasts and how pronounced the “American flag motif” is, 3) what’s wrong with large breasts and knee-high boots? Women who have or wear these can’t be good examples or role models?

A fourth point deserves its own space. The fact that Wonder Woman is a “white woman” and that she wears an “American flag motif.” Of all the reasons why Wondy would be “inappropriate” for a global organization, these are the two I understand the most. And yet, I think whoever created this petition doesn’t really know or understand the character and is making assumptions based on that ignorance.

Like, for example, calling her “white.” Now, “white” means something very specific here in the States, and it can mean something else entirely depending on where you are in the world. However, something to keep in mind is that Diana of Themyscira grew up worshiping both Greek and Egyptian goddesses, and depending on what version of her story you read, Themyscira (or Paradise Island) is located somewhere in the Mediterranean. Wonder Woman herself — again, depending on the telling — could be Greek, or Turkish, or even Middle Eastern. But rather than approaching the character with any sort of complexity, or alternately, using this as an opportunity to find the international layers within the character, they’ve made a blanket assumption on sight, or else, based on the TV show in which an American actress portrayed the character and for which the words “Red, white, and blue” are sung in the very theme song! (NOTE: even this is misleading, considering that Carter herself is part Latina, her mother being of Mexican, Spanish, and French descent!)

And speaking of Wonder Woman’s “Americanness,” again that depends on what version of her you’re talking about. In Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, for example, Wonder Woman is clearly not all about America. We first meet her fighting alongside female rebels in China when Superman comes to rein her in, and she’s all “NOPE.” Even when she’s fighting on the side of America in certain stories, it’s never (or rarely) “because ‘MURICUH!” She’s always fighting in the interest of global peace and women everywhere.

And now we have Gal Gadot, an Israeli citizen, playing her in the upcoming film, and one of the things I love about her casting is that her accent immediately makes her Not American, and so she can become more of a symbol to women everywhere, because she’s not the standard American Hollywood Bombshell. She’s not particularly “large breasted” either, for those at the UN keeping track of these things for some reason.

Point being, people who work for an international organization like the United Nations should understand and be paying attention to these ethnic and geographical complexities, and when coming at something like this, they should know better.

(from L to R) DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson; Lynda Carter, Gal Gadot,, UN Under Secretary-General Cristina Gallach; and Patty Jenkins

(from L to R) DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson; Lynda Carter, Gal Gadot,, UN Under Secretary-General Cristina Gallach; and Patty Jenkins

Now that we’ve gotten character stuff out of the way, I have to bring up the fact that she is an HONORARY ambassador. The role is a symbolic one. What more appropriate thing to do than to have an actual symbol in that role? In a separate New York Times piece, writer Somini Sengupta refers to Wonder Woman as a “mascot” when deriding the choice in an op-ed, and my first thought was, “Well…yes.”

That’s pretty much the point of something like this. “Honorary ambassadorships” are entirely designed to be mascots, symbols to raise awareness. It should be more troubling when actual people are put into those roles, but it isn’t, because the people understand what function they serve. It’s their job to be the “face” of a cause, to draw worldwide attention to an effort of global importance.

In response to the Wonder Woman ceremony, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric expressed his disappointment by saying, ““We work and engage with amazing women around the world every day and have many strong, real-life women who advocate on behalf of the UN for rights of women,” and proceeds to name Alaa Murabit, a Canadian Muslim physician and advocate originally from Libya; Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist from Liberia; the Brazillian soccer (futbol!) player Marta; and Angelina Jolie, whom I’m sure you all know.

Here’s the thing: how is choosing Wonder Woman as a symbol to raise awareness any different than choosing a celebrity like Angelina Jolie, or Marta, or Emma Watson? All of these women have done amazing, real humanitarian work before they were selected, but if the UN expects us to believe that these women in particular weren’t also selected for their celebrity cache, I’d find that hilarious! And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why we have celebrity spokespeople for anything. We’re all more likely to pay attention when someone with whom we’re familiar points something out. That’s just the way it is, and it’s not a bad thing.

And yes, the argument can be made that “real woman” should always trump “fictional characters” in a case like this. But to me, it’s more important to let real women go about doing their real work, not necessarily spending time going to ribbon-cutting ceremonies or endless speaking engagements. What’s more, this petition severely underestimates the power of media and pop culture, as well as the impact that Wonder Woman continues to have — yes, even after 75 years — on women and girls worldwide.

Wonder Woman isn’t just American in scope. She has an international audience. Whether people enjoy her in comics form, in video games, in animated series and TV shows, or soon on film, Wonder Woman is already a symbol that transcends borders. Using her in this way works, and will make people look up and care about the UN’s efforts regarding women, much in the same way that Emma Watson has made so many people look up and care about the HeForShe campaign. It doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both.

Meanwhile, the very real problem of a woman never having held the highest office at the UN needs to be dealt with. Perhaps this petition could have been about that instead.

(images via DC Entertainment)

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Posted by Maddy Myers


The new Logan trailer has shown that the next Wolverine movie will be introducing a whole lot of unfamiliar audiences to the character X-23, or at the very least, to the idea of a young girl who shares Wolverine’s powers. Although X-23, a.k.a. Laura Kinney, hasn’t been explicitly named in the trailer or in any of the promotions for Logan, the inspiration for this character is very clear to anyone familiar with her source material.

But what is that source material, exactly? If you’re brand-new to all things X-23, you might be asking yourself, who is she? Which comic books should I read so that I can find her first appearance?

Well, first off, you don’t need to read any comic books if you want to find her first appearance. Just like the DC Animated Universe introduced Harley Quinn to comic book canon, so too did X-23 start out in the animated universe. Laura first appeared on X-Men: Evolution, an animated show that doesn’t necessarily have the cult-hit staying power of other X-Men cartoons, but nonetheless existed and still has its own small fanbase. That said, the show doesn’t hold up that well, particularly in terms of the narrative and the portrayal of its many teen girl characters, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend diving in and watching it all. It has a very, uh, early 2000s approach to feminism and to teen girl empowerment, which could stand to use some updating by 2016 standards! That said, it did introduce us to X-23.

X-Men: Evolution first came out in the year 2000, and its overall aesthetic vibes with that time period. It’s clear that the character designs, particularly for edgier goth characters like Rogue and X-23, were inspired by the grungy look of the 90s. Even Shadowcat’s hairstyle reminds me of middle school, and Rogue’s purple lipstick is definitely a staple of late 90s and early 2000s fashion looks. X-23 wears that style proudly, too, even in her later comic book versions, long after wearing knee-high boots was as popular as it once was. Since that’s the generation that I grew up in–the year 2000 was the year I started my freshman year of high school–this entire vibe speaks to my former gothy, outcast self. (I mean, I’m still wearing knee-high black boots covered in buckles, because I haven’t moved on, and neither has X-23’s fashion sense over the years.)

Resonating with teen girls was the whole intention behind X-23: she was a version of Wolverine designed for the youths. Her creator, Craig Kyle, specifically said he introduced X-23 to X-Men: Evolution in the hopes that she would “connect more to the younger kids,” compared to Wolverine, who was “one of the old, grizzled guys” from a former era of X-Men gone by. All of X-Men: Evolution‘s young characters were clearly meant to evoke the style of the youth of the late 90s and early 2000s.

That’s the same thing that the modern-day X-Men movies are still trying to do, so it makes sense that Laura is popping up in the 20th Century Fox movies. Rebooting the core cast of X-Men with teenagers in X-Men: Apocalypse was a risky move—one that the movie didn’t seem entirely willing to commit to making, since most of that movie revolved around Xavier and Magneto, rather than the new teenage cast. Time will tell as to whether the next round of X-Men movies will actually commit to highlighting its new young characters, as opposed to continue to focus on the “old, grizzled guys” that we’ve already seen in many movies before now (lookin’ at you, Hugh)!

My point is, X-23 isn’t just a female clone of Wolverine—she’s a product of her time, created to appeal to a specific demographic. She’s a knee-high boot-wearing, post-grunge girl with a defy-authority attitude. Hate to say it, but she probably listens to screamo.

Like Kick-Ass‘s Hit Girl (another alt-grunge girl of the mid-to-late 2000s), X-23 has a “girl killing machine” backstory… but X-23’s storyline is much, much sadder. She was trained from birth to be a brainwashed child assassin who works for the baddies. Unlike Wolverine, she was born in an experimental laboratory that had stolen intel from Weapon X in order to create her. Villainy is all she knows, at least at first, and she has a long ways to wander before she gets to finally join the X-Men and have a “normal” life (well, “normal” by mutant teenager standards). She does eventually join the X-Men, obviously. Spoilers? You must have guessed that her grim childhood would result in a happy ending, though. Bad girl gone good is, like, a comic book staple!

As for which X-23 comic books you need to read in order to get the whole update, you would have to start with her very first comic appearances in a series called NYX. However, her first appearance revolves around a storyline that is pretty disturbing, even by “child assassin” standards. X-23 is still underage during this series, but after escaping her “killing machine” employers, she ends up pursuing sex work as a profession. She self-harms a lot, as well, and because she’s got a healing factor, she’s able to recover physically from anything that happens to her–but, she’s still struggling psychologically.

This early storyline has been controversial even among fans for years now, with some saying it seems in-character given her lack of options at the time, but others saying it would have made more sense for X-23 to find a different line of work. Since she’s an underage homeless girl on the run from shadowy corporations, though, it’s hard to imagine what else she could really do, so you could argue that this storyline is realistic. I could go either way on it, personally; I think the storyline was probably included for shock value at the time, and X-23 is certainly not the first “bad girl” character type to have a history of sex work (Catwoman springs to mind). I’m not opposed to the storyline existing, but it’s worth noting that it’s barely ever mentioned in any other X-23 storylines after NYX. It seems as though Marvel would rather we all forget it happened.

If you want to skip NYX, which is totally do-able since it’s not referenced much afterwards, go on ahead and start with the first X-23 mini-series from the late 2000s. Between the brainwashed killing machine backstory, the homelessness, the propensity for self-harm, and the sometimes-mentioned-sometimes-ignored underage sex work, X-23 clearly has quite a depressing backstory– so it’s lucky that many smart writers have had the chance to give her storylines about overcoming trauma since then. If you want to fast-track your way through the whole X-23 mini-series, I highly recommend Marojie Liu’s The Killing Dream volumes. These books will hit the ground running on the assumption that you already know all of X-23’s backstory, but since I just told you most of it, you should be good to go.

Here are a couple more gaps that I can fill in first, though. After she leaves behind sex work and joins the X-Men, she finds the new gig to be a difficult one, since Scott Summers (who’s leading the X-Men at this point) expects Laura to be able to fight in battle and kill people… even though she’s still a child and still suffering from PTSD. She has trouble adjusting to these expectations, and also, Scott Summers pushes her way too hard without realizing that she’s a child. She’s so “mature,” after all, that it’s easy for the adults around her to forget what she’s been through. The Killing Dream is all about Laura figuring out how she feels about her situation, and determining that the adults in her life don’t always know what’s best for her. She also ends up connecting more with Storm, as opposed to Scott, and regaining her trust in Logan, who has become a sort of reluctant father-figure for Laura over the years … although not a great one, because it’s Logan. X-23 is also longtime friends with Gambit, another mopey Marvel character with his own internal demons; the two of them hang out a bunch.

To backpedal ever so slightly, if you’re completely unfamiliar with X-Men entirely and you need a good place to hop on board, while still getting to meet X-23, I would recommend starting with her appearances in the Messiah War and Messiah Complex volumes. These are both big X-Men volumes, but they’ll also introduce you to other characters who have ended up becoming favorites of mine (like Cable and Deadpool, for example). These storylines show X-23 becoming tentative friends with some of the X-Men who are closer to her own age. X-23 ends up becoming a roommate with Pixie, who is another teen girl who is the polar opposite of X-23 in terms of attitude; I loved reading their dynamic, since it’s great to have a goth character balanced out by a spritely dose of positivity (sort of like Wolverine and Jubilee’s dynamic).

After you’ve gotten caught up on reading all of those bits and pieces of X-23’s backstory from the mid-2000s and late 2000s, it’s time for you to enter the new world of 2015 and 2016 by picking up all of the new issues of All-New Wolverine— the brand new series in which Laura takes up the mantle of Wolverine. Logan’s healing factor has been compromised, which is a storyline that’s been ongoing in Marvel for the past few years; basically, Wolverine has retired (the details aren’t super important, unless you want to circle back and read all of Old Man Logan).

The All-New Wolverine issues have done a great job of catching everybody up on Laura’s backstory, introducing new audiences to the other experimental clones who have shared in her struggle (Laura’s “sisters”), and giving them all a proper coming-of-age story that is quite a bit more light-hearted and fun to read than some of the other storylines that X-23 has suffered through over the years. It’s been great to see her grow up and come into her own as a hero on her own terms–different from Logan, but still able to nurture a good relationship with him, even though they’ve both got the “inner demons” thing going on. (Although, really, Laura’s past is a lot more fraught than Logan’s. Not that it’s a contest. But, just saying.)

Once you’ve read all of that, you’ll understand why I’m so excited to finally see X-23 make it to the silver screen. You’ll also understand my hesitation about the bizarre timeline problems with the X-Men movies, and my concerns that X-23 will never escape her tragic backstory and make it all the way to the solid ground that she currently has in the comic books.

The reason why X-23’s story is compelling to me is not because she’s a grim-dark teen killing machine, although that did speak to me when I was a depressed teenage girl. These days, her story resonates with me because it ends in self-acceptance and self-actualization. She gets to work with X-Men of various ages, decide which parental and authority figures are worth her trust, make new friends her own age, build a new family of her own with Logan and her “sister” clones, and – the cherry on top – she becomes the Wolverine! It’s a triumphant story that has been going on for about a decade, and it would be amazing to bring it to more audiences who aren’t as familiar with it.

I have no idea if future X-Men or Wolverine movies are going to do right by X-23’s character. Obviously, I hope that will happen. But since we have no idea at this point, you may as well go back and check out her pre-existing storylines that we already know are great.

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Posted by Charline Jao


When it comes to equal representation in merchandise, the absence of Daisy Ridley’s Rey in Star Wars toys is a last year is a notable example of how geeky merch oftentimes excludes female characters in favor of male ones. Our own Keisha spoke to the Star Wars Hasbro team about #WheresRey, and they explained that their efforts to avoid spoilers meant there was an unfortunate lack of female representation in their toys–something that they’re now aware of and hope to amend in the future.

Considering that Rey merchandise sold well and the abundance of Rogue One’s Jyn merchandise, it seems like things are gradually getting better, though Jessica broke down that it’s important to point out we should have more representation not only because boys can play with girl figurines, but also because girls play with Star Wars toys as well. In an interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Ridley mentions she recently attended a meeting about merchandise and describes her reaction when #WheresRey began.

I think when it really became a big thing is when J.J. [Abrams] talked about Monopoly. There had been conversations long before that that I was having with people because I didn’t really understand what was going on. And John Boyega in fact told me that he had written to someone and I was like, ‘huh’ because he is more of a toy person than I am. Moving forward I think what they’re planning—I’ve been told what the plan is for next year and it’s really cool, really exciting.”

Can we just pause appreciate how supportive this team is with Abrams speaking up and Boyega writing what was no doubt a strongly worded letter? (Boyega, is indeed a “toy person” and you should watch this clip of him making a toy store stop on his birthday to make sure it has enough Finn figures.) Ridley, of course, is referencing the Star Wars Monopoly set that excluded Rey which Abrams called “preposterous and wrong.” Hasbro eventually amended this and included her in the game.

Ridley also adds that “how the public reacted to it was amazing, because it was a testament to the character and to what J.J. did with the casting.” Most touching, however, was the actresses’ statement about encountering young girls who love Rey. Ridley says that more than money, these interactions serve as motivation:

But for me it’s more about parents coming up to me and saying, ‘My little girl…’ –In fact, who was I talking to? Someone at Pixar actually, really nice guy, he said he was in the cinema with his daughter and something happened and his daughter went, ‘Wow’ And when he told me honestly I almost cried, because for me that is far more important, and when little girls kind of dressed up like Rey, that’s…Yeah.”

Ridley recognizes the significance of her role and how much it’ll influence young girls. It’s moving to see her also get a bit teared up, which is also our go-to reaction when we see images of Ridley with mini-Reys. You can read the full interview over at Collider.

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle


Having trouble using Twitter or watching Netflix? You’re not alone. Large portions of Internet users in the U.S. and in Europe are struggling to access several popular websites and services due to a massive DDoS attack. Isn’t technology fun?

The DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack is targeting DNS hosting company Dyn. What does that mean exactly? Well, in simple terms, Dyn’s servers accept your computer’s request to get an actual address to go along with whatever URL you type into your browser, and that address allows information to be routed back and forth between your computer and the servers a website actually lives on.

However, a DDoS attack floods a server like Dyn’s with a ton of useless requests, until the server can’t handle it anymore, and it crashes. DDoS attacks can be used to take out specific sites and services, but attacking a major DNS host like Dyn can result in what the Internet is seeing today, which is many Internet users having trouble connecting to a wide array of sites, because they can’t access the directory that tells their Internet traffic how to get where it’s going.

Attacks like these are difficult to fight, and “Internet of things” devices provide a huge harbor for malware used to amplify these attacks, so we could be looking at a problem that’s going to get worse before it gets better. This morning, the east coast of the United States was primarily affected, and after Dyn got that problem under control, another attack began in the afternoon, primarily affecting the U.S. west coast and Europe. (Gizmodo has a pretty handy list of sites and services that readers told them have been affected.)

Here’s a tweet displaying a map of the outage in the U.S., which you very well may not be able to see depending on where you are (spoiler: there are giant red patches over large portions of the east and west coast):

(image via NBC, featured image via Shutterstock/Dean Drobot)

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Trouble ahead on the Midland main line

Friday, October 21st, 2016 07:04 pm
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The delay in the electrification of the Midland main line from St Pancras is going to cause problems.

In the summer of 2015 the government announced a pause in the project. It was soon restarted, but that good news was accompanied by the news that it will take four years longer than originally planned.

The electrification will reach now Kettering and Corby by 2019, and be extended to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield (and, indeed, Market Harborough) by 2023.

This will cause problems. East Midlands Trains, which runs the service on this line, is due to phase out its High Speed Trains by 2020.

A press release from Leicestershire County Council calls on the government to order new 125mph bi-mode trains that can use diesel or electric power, so they can still be used when the line is electrified.

In a spirit of bipartisanship, it also quotes Sir Peter Soulsby, the elected Mayor of Leicester:
“Replacing high speed trains with slower, second-hand stock is simply unacceptable. The government needs to offer an assurance that that the high speed trains due to be withdrawn in 2020 will be replaced with stock of equivalent or better specification."
But I doubt we will see those new trains. With money being poured into HS2, corners will have to be cut elsewhere.

If you add to that the fact that the opening of HS2 will lead to fewer trains on the Midland main line, there is clearly trouble ahead.
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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

You can hear more about the whys and wherefores of Pokémon Sun and Moon‘s Mimikyu with this brand new song that was uploaded to the official Japanese Pokémon YouTube account. Translated by fan Tobias, it shakes out to be a rap from the little Pokémon, backed by a sentimental acoustic strumming guitar. The lyrics alone are enough to really get you right in the feels, doubly so if you’re the type of sucker to get drawn in to sad, lonely Pokémon stories (i.e., me).

The heartrending lyrics to “Song of Mimikyu,” copied from the subtitled video in full:

Yo Yo. Please listen to a rap of mine…

I’m not Pikachu. I’m Mimikyu
I get lonely easily
The Sun, the Sun. I’m kind-of afraid
But I love dark places!

I wanted to be on good terms with everyone…
that’s why I’m imitating Pikachu
This costume resembles Pikachu, right?
I’ve hand-crafted it. Pretty cool huh.

To remove it~ Absolutely not.
I guess you’ll probably be cursed if you saw.

I’m not Pikachu. I’m Mimikyu.
I’m not a spook! I’m Mimikyu.

With a big claw I can protect you
With a thundervolt [sic] I can be useful in many ways
I’m a Pokémon that can be relied upon
Therefore please let me be your friend!

I’m not Pikachu. I’m Mimikyu.
Can we be friends? I’m Mimikyu.
I’m not Pikachu. I’m Mimikyu.
I get lonely easily. I’m Mimikyu.

I’m not Pikachu. I’m Mimikyu.
I’m not a spook! I’m Mimikyu.
I’m not Pikachu. I’m Mimikyu.
Can we be friends? I’m Mimikyu.

Aww. Mimikyu, I’ll be your pal! I’ll give you plenty of hugs and you can be whoever or whatever you want to be, little buddy. Let’s be friends, okay?

For those unaware, Mimikyu is a brand new Pokémon being introduced in the new iteration of the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Sun and Moon. Wearing nothing but an imitation of a Pikachu costume (read: Pikachu’s face drawn on a sheet), Mimikyu is as mysterious as it is adorable. The story goes that it wears the costume because it wants to be as widely loved as Pikachu is, but doesn’t believe that anybody would love it unless it looked cute.

As the song references, nobody knows just who or what is under the sheet, and it absolutely refuses to let anybody take it away. It even goes as far as threatening a curse upon whoever might try, though a small part of me wonders if that’s just a bit of chest-puffing boldness to get people to not even try. Just don’t hurt the Mimikyu, okay? Let it be what it wants to be!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hug a few of my stuffed animals because I can’t stand how sadly cute this all is.

(via Kotaku)

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Posted by Charline Jao


Brie Larson’s currently prepping for her Captain Marvel role, which Kevin Feige says will be a combination of immense power and real humanity.

While we won’t see Captain Marvel until 2019, the team isn’t wasting that time. In an interview with Vulture, Feige reveals that he plans to have a director by the end of 2016. While Feige originally planned to have a director by the end of summer, the delay seems to be a sign that they’re being choosy to find the perfect director. While Feige has been meeting a number of directors, he says he wants to someone who matches and builds on Marvels vision, citing Taika Waititi and Scott Derrickson as examples. The Marvel Studios head explains that the potential in Captain Marvel and how her origin fits into both “the cosmic side of our universe” and “what we’re doing with the next Avengers movies”  gives them a lot work to do.

Feige also emphasizes “It’s very important to us that all of our heroes do not become silhouette-perfect cutout icons.”

“All of the Marvel characters have flaws to them, all of them have a deep humanity to them. With Captain Marvel, she is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had. It’s important, then, to counterbalance that with someone who feels real. She needs to have a humanity to tap into, and Brie can do that.”

2019 can’t come soon enough, and maybe since Feige’s recent comment on how MCU/Netflix crossovers “depends on timing” we can hope for some exciting team-ups?

(via Vulture, Image via StudioCanal UK)

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Posted by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Tim Boyle)

AT&T and Time Warner Inc. have recently met "to discuss various business strategies including a possible merger," Bloomberg reported yesterday.

Discussions are still in early stages, according to Bloomberg's anonymous sources. "The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private," Bloomberg wrote. "Neither side has yet hired a financial adviser, the people said."

Negotiations might actually be further along than Bloomberg's sources suggested, though. The Wall Street Journal reported today that AT&T is "in advanced talks to acquire Time Warner" and that a deal "could happen as early as this weekend."

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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