Donald Rumsfeld, Game Developer 

Monday, January 25th, 2016

The Wall Street Journal has reported the former non-consecutive Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is now an iOS game dev. Special plaudits are due to Julian Barnes for his “known knowns” opening.

Walmart’s Dirty Deal 

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

In Washington D.C., Walmart has really shafted two poor communities.

To get approval to build three stores in wealthier parts of the city, Walmart promised to build two in underserved neighborhoods. So they built the three they wanted. Then, last week, Walmart told city officials that it had made “fresh assumptions” about the profitability of stores slated for black working-class neighborhoods and decided not to build them.

The Washington Post notes that this was a promise, rather than a legally-binding deal. Officials ought to be smart enough to get something in writing before they tear down a neighborhood.

Ease Into That

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Recently, Boston unveiled a tool to display key metrics related to the city. They called the system CityScore, and they designed it to resemble the famous manually operated scoreboard seen at Fenway Park. That’s all just fine (although the legend is not terribly helpful in understanding exactly what’s being shown). However, the scoreboard sorts from best performance to worst. When the scoreboard was unveiled, the city was doing very well in a couple of unfortunate categories.

Stats for January 15th, 2016

Stabbings and shootings? You have to ease into that! Start with your pothole repair numbers, build to EMS incidents, then get to the violent crimes!

Virtual Reality Options 

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

I recently had a chance to try a very cool virtual reality flight simulator called Birdly, where you become a bird soaring through New York City. In addition to goggles, the full-body machine tilted me up and down and blew a fan in my face at varying speeds, in reaction my various flight maneuvers. It wasn’t perfect, but it was both immersive and impressive.

Meanwhile at CES in Las Vegas, Raymond Wong tried VR porn and things got really weird.

John Scott, 2016 All-Star 

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

All-Star games in professional sports have become rather ridiculous in the past decade or three. When players earn millions of dollars each year, there’s a great deal of concern about the possibility of injury in a game that doesn’t even count. Players opt out, rules are changed for safety, and whole thing becomes rather silly. Nevertheless, the games draw attention and earn money, so they persist. But this year, one player who wants to be at the NHL All-Star Game, and should be, won’t be seen in Nashville.

[The NHL] took a surprisingly heartwarming moment and story for the sport and obliterated it out of pettiness and pride for a fake hockey game, causing real-life consequences for a low-paid player and his growing family.

Fan voting in the age of the Internet is a terrible system, one that’s bound to be abused. If you’re going to use it, however, you damned sure ought to deal with the consequences. The NHL did not. Instead, when it came to John Scott, they blew it.

Update (February 1st, 2016): John Scott ultimately did get to compete at All-Star Weekend, and he damn sure made the most of it.

Nickelback Is Your Secret Boyfriend 

Monday, January 18th, 2016

I only know a few Nickelback songs, and they’ve always seemed like decent-enough grungy rock. And yet, according to the Internet, “everybody” hates Nickelback. The Wall Street Journal explored what’s going on here.

The Missing 11th 

Friday, January 15th, 2016

This XKCD comic shows a full year’s worth of dates, with each day sized according to how often it’s mentioned. Ignoring September, the 11th in every month is poorly represented, and has been for a long time. David Hagen dove into why that is, and the answer is rather surprising (and odd).

JT’s Avatar

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Speaking of lousy mugshots, I’d now like to focus briefly on a terrible picture of a friend of mine. Last month, I wrote about the “Trumang Tweet”, written by JT Dobbs. JT’s account also features what is perhaps my favorite avatar on all of Twitter. You can see it below:

The word tsunami is not in my phone's T9 dictionary, so if you ever get a text from me that says Trumang!, get the fuck off the beach.

Save for the occasional addition of minor holiday decorations, this avatar has been unchanged for years and years. At the standard small size seen above, it hints of mystery and begs to be clicked. And yet, enlarging it provides no real answers.

A blurry mess of a snap with a ludicrously thick border
Full-sized Avatar

The face is a blurry mess and the background is indecipherable. That is indeed JT, but beyond that, at best we can guess that this photo was taken in a city. Is it Times Square in New York City? Beale Street in JT’s native Memphis? Was this photograph taken with a potato? We may never know.

Don’t fail to note the wonderful hat atop JT’s dome. We can’t really see it, but whatever it is, it’s really something. And where is JT looking? What’s happening to the camera’s left? Finally, realize that I didn’t add that monstrous double border you see. That’s part of the image, baked right in! The whole thing is a glorious masterpiece, and I hope it never changes.

Smooth Criminal 

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

What do you do when the mug shot police are showing is unflattering? If you’re Ohio criminal Donald A. Chip Pugh, you use the power of modern technology to send them a more flattering photo.

Donald Pugh's original bad shot

Frankly I think the original, pictured above, had a certain indefinable charm.

Questionable Cross-Promotion 

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Much like “Avatar” was six years ago, “Star Wars” is everywhere right now. Wired has a collection of rather odd marketing tie-ins for the new film. A lot of them don’t make much sense at all.

Admittedly, the design on these is actually pretty great.