Huggable Urn Keepsakes

August 23rd, 2014

I had no idea there was such a thing as a Huggable Urn Keepsake:

We offer an assortment of soft, huggable urn keepsakes. Each animal features a discreet compartment to hold a small amount of ashes and comes with a velvet pouch.

Huggable Urns Family Pack

[Indirectly via this MetaFilter comment]

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Algorithms As The Champions of Workers

August 18th, 2014

Danny Crichton's argument that Algorithms Are Replacing Unions As The Champions of Workers is a doozy:

At the heart of this movement is the right of workers to choose how and when they work. Uber, for instance, doesn't require strict hours for drivers, instead letting them choose schedules that match their needs. If a driver wants to take a two-hour lunch break or pick up their kids after school and only work late mornings and evenings, the system provides them the flexibility to do that. Carefully-tuned algorithms provide incentives through prices to ensure that the market is meeting the demand of customers and workers. The same flexibility holds true for most on-demand startups including TaskRabbit, Postmates, oDesk, Crew, and Guru.

Such convenience used to be the exclusive preserve of elite talent. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, engineers and consultants have had the flexibility in their work to take vacations and use "flex time" policies for many years now. Such policies make it easier to do everything from building a family to improving one's skills through education.

It also helps that all those professional types were earning hourly rates that allowed them to forego a week's work without substantially affecting their ability to make that month's mortgage payment.1 As if that weren't enough, Crichton also has some strange ideas about how a startup-driven labour market might work:

There is a long-tail to labor markets that startups are finally exploiting. Maybe I want to do a mix of cooking, Egyptian hieroglyphic travel blogging, and some regression analysis of health data. In the past, that would mean getting a job in marketing and living a corporate life until such time that one could quit and pursue their interests. Today, it is entirely possible to stitch together a set of opportunities to bring all of those passions together.

Let's just hope that the guy who is paying for the health data analysis doesn't want his report finalised the very same week in which you'd promised to supply one of your patrons with pre-publishing access to a meaty piece you're just getting to grips with about the hieroglyphs at Amenemhet I's pyramid at Lisht.

We can but hope that our multi-talented individual doesn't have a passion for, say, eating regularly, or being able to plan more than a few weeks ahead. Startups and those who make money from the sharing economy ideally want people with no family complications to mess up their schedules, and who will be at the beck and call of the business on what amounts to a zero-hour contract. Also, it'd be nice if as many regulations as possible governing established industries could be swept away/regarded as not applying to those doing exactly the same type of work but as part of the sharing economy. And this is an environment in which trades unions are obsolete?

Shoulda been published in The Onion.

[Via @Pinboard]

  1. Also, I know that attitudes to paid time off are a bit different in the USA, but might these sort of professionals not also be salaried employees and thus allowed some paid leave? Or is that another of those socialistic notions that has dragged down the living standards of citizens of western Europe's various social democratic nations?

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This Makes Me Uncomfortable

July 16th, 2014

This Makes Me Uncomfortable.

No kidding!1

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. Arguably NSFW.

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Clever girl

May 8th, 2014

The octopus is a creature both clever and dextrous.

And I, for one, welcome our new octopod overlords.

[Via kottke.org]

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Disco Is Not Dead

April 7th, 2014

What if the Moon was a Disco Ball?

That looks so downright bizarre that we just have to make it happen some day. Think of the advertising potential.

[Via jwz]

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A classic fairy tale

March 15th, 2014

I'll confess to never having read The Princess Bride, but from what I understand the film is a generally regarded as a reasonably faithful adaptation. Which makes me wonder who thought that this was a suitable cover for the first paperback release of S Morgenstern's William Goldman's book:

The Princess Bride paperback cover

[Via this comment thread at More Words, Deeper Hole]

2 Comments »

DRM on coffee?

March 4th, 2014

Coffee, now with added DRM for extra flavour:

The single coffee cup craze has been rolling now for several years in both the United States and Canada, with Keurig, Tassimo, and Nespresso all battling it out to lock down the market. […] Keurig has faced the "problem" in recent years of third-party pod refills that often retail for 5-25% less than what Keurig charges. As people look to cut costs, there has also been a growing market for reusable pods that generally run anywhere from five to fifteen dollars.

Keurig's solution to this problem? In a lawsuit (pdf) filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What's more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM — so that only Keurig's own coffee pods can be used in it […]

[Via The RISKS Digest, Volume 27, Issue 78 ]

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Tiltor

March 2nd, 2014

Surely this is satire:

Break Up Riots From Within

Tiltor is a novel reward system used by businesses and law enforcement agencies around the world to undermine, diffuse, and disrupt rioting behavior.

A New Kind of Reward

Rewards are good for many types of problems.

But a reward to stop a riot? That doesn't even sound possible! How can you tell what they did? Who gets the reward? Do you have to check EVERYONE'S contribution??

Clearly a traditional reward isn't going to squash a riot. Thankfully, Tiltor has developed a new kind of reward system specifically designed for rioting conditions. [...]

Isn't it?

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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Disturbing

February 11th, 2014

VSE OK. Just go and read it: you won't be disappointed.

[Via Pop Loser]

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Poshest. Things. Ever!

February 7th, 2014

The 28 Poshest Things That Have Ever Happened.

Assuming that it's not a Photoshop job, they left the worst until last:

28. And this velvet-covered Porsche

Velvet-covered Porsche

Why would you do that to a poor, defenceless car? Why?!?

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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The Time Travel Mart

January 15th, 2014

The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park caters for travellers from all eras:

Be careful with that 'fire' stuff...

There's even an online store to cater for the needs of those of us not able to get to LA.1

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

  1. Confused? This Atlas Obscura article explains all.

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Pong on Paper

January 4th, 2014

Paper Pong is a very strange, yet oddly appealing idea – a Choose Your Own Adventure-style implementation, on paper, of a very old video game. It almost seems like cheating to play a version of the book online…

As Sarah Werner observes in her musings on the alleged "death" of the "book":

I spent a lot of time as a kid playing Pong at home, so perhaps that's why I enjoy this book so much. But I love it, too, for its ridiculousness. It's a paper replication of a video game! Why would you do that? Why write lines of code to create a game of Pong that you then remediate in paper form? I don't know that there's a good reason to do that, other than you can. And, actually, that's a decent reason, one that drives more than a few novels.

[Via Snarkmarket]

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I'm a girl! No, no! I'm not a girl. I'm still not ginger. There's something else, there's something important. I'm, I'm, I'm…

December 20th, 2013

Something else…

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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'Exposure and quackery'

December 14th, 2013

An amazing list of actual reasons for admission into the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum from the late 1800s.

"Masturbation for 30 years" and "Suppressed masturbation"? The ideal was to find a happy medium, presumably. Also, to try not to succumb to "Excitement as officer."1

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

  1. Whatever that was…

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Emotion detection in a mobile, wearable system

December 9th, 2013

I could have sworn that today's date wasn't April 1st, but Nicholas Carr seems determined to prove me wrong:

If there's one product category ripe for disruptive innovation, it's lingerie. So it comes as no real surprise that Microsoft researchers have developed a smart bra. The self-quantifying garment is designed, write the researchers, to "perform emotion detection in a mobile, wearable system" as a means of triggering "just-in-time interventions to support behavior modification for emotional eating." [...]

Just wait for the advertising campaign. Perhaps Microsoft will finally surpass this classic ad for Windows XP.1

  1. Potentially NSFW.

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Olivia and her friends weren't wrong when they thought she'd become suddenly famous. Her audience just wasn't human.

November 26th, 2013

Shantal Roddam (@Allieqtzm) was a typical example of one of her new followers. Shantal was a "Friendly beer fan" from Butte. She was following:

@ESPN, the world's leading sports brand;
@MarsPhoenix, a long-dead robot on Mars;
@ReutersScience, the news organization;
@KingJames, Lebron James, the NBA star;
@AlexisMadrigal, your faithful correspondent;
and Olivia, a high school student in San Diego.

By 8:25pm, Olivia could announce, "I have hit 3,000 everyone 3,000 porn stars."

Alexis Madrigal's article trying to answer the question Why Did 9,000 Porny Spambots Descend on This San Diego High Schooler? serves as both an introduction for non-techies to the world of Twitter spambots and a reminder of the extent to which the language and practices of social media would be unintelligible to an average reader from twenty years ago.

It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

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Uphill!

November 11th, 2013

This video of a Piper Super Cub landing on a windy mountain top is marvelous.

Even when you know what's about to happen, you're watching the film and thinking "OK, in a minute he's going to bank sharply and the runway will swing into the camera's field of vision and this'll be relatively straightforward." Then the pilot banks sharply and puts the aeroplane down on a rough piece of land clinging to the side of the mountain. One where he's going uphill!

After which he goes out, takes a few pictures, observes that it's really cold, and takes off with just as little fuss. Great stuff.

[Via kottke.org]

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Poor thing

October 29th, 2013

Poor cat

[Via Schlock Mercenary]

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Second time lucky?

October 23rd, 2013

When I read last year about Australian billionaire Clive Palmer's plans to build a new Titanic, I somehow failed to note the biggest hostage to fortune of all:

The Titanic II will also sail the seas for real, with a spokesman for Palmer's Blue Star Line promising that "It will be the most safe cruise ship in the world when it launches." How can Palmer be sure? "Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it, but it's not going to be designed with a hole in," he's said. "It's going to be designed so it won't sink and it'll be designed as a modern ship with all the latest technology to ensure that that doesn't happen." Period costumes will also be provided to help set the mood for passengers.

[Emphasis added]

The reason this story has resurfaced is that Palmer has announced plans to make a feature film to coincide with the ship's 2016 launch:

"In the third quarter of next year, we'll announce broader details about the new movie – a director, stars," he told the Sunshine Coast Daily. "It will be about Titanic II's first voyage. It will be a bit of a love story, so bring a hankie along. It's going to be bigger than the first Titanic from James Cameron. It's going to bring people together from China, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. It's going to bring about more peaceful co-operation and concentrate on what brings us together rather than what divides us."

How amazing would it be if the director could persuade Kate Winslet to star. At least this time she wouldn't have to spend weeks up to her neck in a giant water tank being shouted at by Jim Cameron.

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… so they'll nuke us from orbit, just to make sure.

October 16th, 2013

Headline of the Week/Month/Year candidate, courtesy of Popular Science:

Space-Born Jellyfish Hate Life On Earth.

[Via jwz]

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