John Danaher: Will robots replace prostitutes?
If so, would that be a victory for oppressed women, or another loss of honest work to automation?
I vote for for latter.
First the Bavarians gave the world great beer. Now this:
Munich has legalized public nudity and has also declared 6 “urban naked zones”.
The urban naked areas allow naturists to strip off and show their bums and other bits without risking arrest, the Mirror reported.
However, these nudist spots are not fenced off or hidden away.
Say what you want, but Oktoberfest just got a lot more interesting.
Germany calls its outdoor pedestrian shopping areas Fußgängerzone — literally, foot-goer-zone. Makes you wonder what they’ll call their nudity areas.
Avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky tried in the mid-’70s to make a movie version of Frank Herbert’s Dune starring Salvador Dali and Orson Welles, with concept art by HR Giger and Jean Giraud, and special effects by Dan O’Bannon who went on to write Alien.
Jodorowsky’s goal was to “fabricate” on film the effects of LSD, and I’m not sure he couldn’t have done just that.
I’m a big fan of Giger’s work, having been allowed to see Alien on the big screen at far too young and impressionable an age, but this Dune would have been a million time better or a million time worse — or maybe both. The whole thing fell apart because, really, what studio would have touched it with a ten-foot maker hook?
For sure it would have made David Lynch’s 1984 version look like a Shirley Temple feature.
Full story, video interviews, and tons more concept art at The Verge.
Brilliant move by Parker Bros:
There’s the official Monopoly rules, and then there’s the way you play the game — and everyone does it just a little bit different. Now Hasbro is hoping to tap into that rich world of user-created rules with an upcoming “house rules” edition of the board game. And in order to crowdsource those ideas, it’s turning to Facebook.
For each of the next 10 days, the Monopoply Facebook page will feature a different house rule, and fans can vote for whether or not it should be included in the game. These include things like freezing your assets so that you don’t earn rent money while in jail, or forcing players to go around the board once before they can actually start buying property. In addition to the upcoming special edition, the new rules will also be featured in the main Monopoly game guide starting next year, though of course they’ll be entirely optional. “The official Monopoly rules will not change,” the company says.
I’d never heard of the asset-freeze rule, but I’m going to incorporate it into the Casa Verde Edition. A player in a strong position who finds himself in jail is often happy to stay there for the maximum three turns, collecting his rents without risking having to pay any else’s rents. I say, let ‘em rot!
Greg Beato looks at the future of the 3d printed economy:
Imagine what will happen when millions of people start using the tools that produced The Liberator to make, copy, swap, barter, buy, and sell all the quotidian stuff with which they furnish their lives. Rest in peace, Bed, Bath & Beyond. Thanks for all the stuff, Foxconn, but we get our gadgets from Pirate Bay and MEGA now.
Once the retail and manufacturing carnage starts to scale, the government carnage will soon follow. How can it not, when only old people pay sales tax, fewer citizens obtain their incomes from traditional easy-to-tax jobs, and large corporate taxpayers start folding like daily newspapers? Without big business, big government can’t function.
It was called “starving the beast” when Ronald Reagan did it with tax cuts. What should we call it when big manufacturing becomes a cottage industry performed on the same scale as knitting a sweater for your cat?
Tey’re calling it “the chicken from hell” — in the Dakotas:
The 11-foot-long (3-meter-long), 500-pound (225-kilogram) Anzu wyliei is an oviraptorosaur—a family of two-legged, birdlike dinosaurs found in Central Asia and North America. These dinosaurs ranged in size from a few pounds to over a metric ton, according to a study published March 19 in the journal PLOS ONE.
With its toothless beak, long legs, huge feet, and claw-tipped arms, A. wyliei looked like a devilish version of the modern cassowary, a large ground bird found in Australia.
It was “as close as you can get to a bird without being a bird,” said study leader Matt Lamanna, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
This is why I never order the chicken.
A property developer paid 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) for the one-year-old golden-haired mastiff at a “luxury pet” fair Tuesday in the eastern province of Zhejiang, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.
“They have lion’s blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs,” the dog’s breeder Zhang Gengyun was quoted as telling the paper, adding that another red-haired canine had sold for 6 million yuan.
Enormous and sometimes ferocious, with round manes lending them a passing resemblance to lions, Tibetan mastiffs have become a prized status symbol among China’s wealthy, sending prices skyrocketing.
Gorgeous animals to be sure, although maybe we shouldn’t take the bit about lion’s blood at face value.
Our recently-adopted rescue mutt cost somewhat less, but she’s a digger and an escape artist, so we might eventually make up the difference in fence repairs.
Randall Beck and James Harter for Harvard Business Review:
Gallup has found that one of the most important decisions companies make is simply whom they name manager. Yet our analysis suggests that they usually get it wrong. In fact, Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.
Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and having too many of them can bring down a company. The only defense against this massive problem is a good offense, because when companies get these decisions wrong, nothing fixes it. Businesses that get it right, however, and hire managers based on talent will thrive and gain a significant competitive advantage.
Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units, Gallup estimates. This variation is in turn responsible for severely low worldwide employee engagement. Gallup reported in two large-scale studies in 2012 that only 30% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, and a staggeringly low 13% worldwide are engaged.
I remember years ago Dad trying to tell me that economic growth proved that the Peter Principle was BS. That was in the ’80s. Today I’m pretty sure that the Peter Principle was overly optimistic — at least in government.
If private industry can manage to pick the right manager only 18% of the time, how often does the right person get picked in a federal bureaucracy? And business die, to be replaced by smarter and more nimble competitors — who in turn pick bad managers who kill off the new company.
The Federal Leviathan lumbers on, getting stupider and more badly managed year after year.
Barack and Michelle are all of our parents now http://t.co/304nAa14MG
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) March 17, 2014
Barack and Michelle Obama are fine parents, they really are. They have two gorgeous and well-behaved daughters, and the Obamas have kept them mercifully free of the spotlight. I can’t say any more about them than that, because I don’t know any more than that — which is exactly how it should be.
But the Obamas aren’t my parents, and they aren’t your parents. But ThinkProgress represents the repressive and reactionary mode of thought that we are wards of the Great Men who rule over us.
We are not their children. Our politicians, left and right, serve us at our pleasure — and it’s high time we reminded them of it.
Let’s get metaphysical with Jay Sekulow:
Does “ObamaCare” truly exist? Are we actually living with the law that was passed with so much fanfare four years ago?
Gallup says the number of uninsured dropped very slightly from 17.1% of Americans to 15.9% — a result so insignificant that it’s close to the poll’s 1% margin of error and still 1.5% higher than the number of uninsured when President Obama took office.
Did you catch that? Almost four years after ObamaCare was signed into law – rammed through Congress via procedural trickery and against the will of the majority of Americans – a higher percentage of Americans are uninsured than before the law was passed.
How could this happen?
♡bamaCare!!! neither exists nor doesn’t exist. The law is neither known nor settled, as its strictures blip in and out of reality by the exigencies of the moment. Mandates are taxes, penalties are fees, mandates are suggestions, deadlines contain no discernible dates.
It is Schrödinger’s Law, existing in a permanent state of undeterminable impermanence.
So if you ever wanted to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with kids these days, now you know.
It’s all-but-official that the fabled A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka Warthog) is dead:
The five-year scheme retires all of the roughly 340 A-10 Warthog attack jets in the active Air Force, Air Force Reserve and state-controlled Air National Guard. The Warthogs account for the majority of the planned warplane cuts.
The twin-jet, gun-armed A-10s disappear from their main active-duty strongholds in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and South Korea in 2015 and 2016. Reserve and Guard squadrons in Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Maryland surrender their A-10s more gradually between 2015 and 2019.
Cutting the low- and slow-flying Warthogs leaves a big gap in the Air Force’s ability to support ground troops and destroy enemy tanks.
We’ll be replacing the low-cost/high-survivability/highly-effective A-10 with high-cost/lower-survivability/less-effective F-16s in the ground-strike role. Then the F-16s will be replaced by the stupid-cost/lower-survivability/unknown-effectiveness F-35.
In Washington this is called “progress” and “budget cutting.”
The guys with mud on their boots call it a “SNAFU” courtesy of “REMFs.”
Japan has decided, for the first time ever, to establish a force of marines similar to the U.S. Marine Corps. Apparently American marines will help train the new Japanese force, currently planned as a brigade of some 3,000 troops. American marines have been teaching Japanese infantry how to undertake amphibious operations for some time but these army troops were not considered marines. The new plan is to establish an elite force of Japanese marines to deal with Chinese threats to Japanese territory. Japan is aware that neighboring South Korea created a Marine Corps in the 1950s, mainly because American marines were involved in protecting South Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) and the Koreans were impressed by the American marines. The South Korean marines turned out to be very good and the Japanese will have to hustle to be competitive.
I’m sure the Japanese will do just that — and the Chinese have nobody to blame but themselves for this development.
Radio Shack will close “underperforming” stores — and lots of them:
The struggling consumer electronics retailer announced Tuesday that it plans to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores in the U.S., or about 26% of its current company-owned stores.
“Over the past few months, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our portfolio from many angles — location, area demographics, lease life and financial performance — in order to consolidate our store base into fewer locations while maintaining a strong presence in each market,” RadioShack CEO Joseph Magnacca said in a statement. “The result of that review is our plan to close up to 1,100 underperforming stores. We will continue to have a strong, unmatched presence across the U.S. with over 4,000 stores including over 900 dealer franchise locations.”
There is (was?) (soon won’t be?) a Radio Shack in here my tiny bedroom town of Monument, CO. The last time I was in there was about three years ago, when I absolutely had to buy an overpriced audio cable right the heck then. And I didn’t recognize the place as anything like the Radio Shack I used to know. Or as Jim Dalrymple said, “the RadioShack I grew up with lost its soul.”
I was reminded of what happened to The Sharper Image. What was once a place to geek out on really cool, hard-to-find nerd toys became a purveyor of gimmicky plastic crap.
Such a shame.
image via appleinsider.com
You know you’re not supposed to do that — right, Jesse?
Welcome to the Laser Navy:
The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years.
For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out.
“It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt. Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said.
The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats.” Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Persian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed.
All that power in the hands of a single sailor. It’s not just a high-tech weapon, but fully deployed lasers and EM guns would reduce the Navy’s logistical needs by… well, by a lot.
Amazing stuff, but I won’t really be happy until Special Forces troops are issued lightsabers.
Several dogs, actually:
Who picked the dogs up? Well, that would be American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy.
The freshly crowned silver-medal slopestyler from Telluride, Colo., picked up four puppies and their mother on the streets of Rosa Khutor and he’s making arrangements to have them sent home to the United States.
“I’ve been around animals all my life,” Kenworthy said of the hundreds of dogs roaming the streets in Sochi and the mountains above the Olympic city. “It’s hard to watch.”
Kenworthy tweeted a picture of himself cuddling four of the dogs. “Puppy love is real to puppies,” he wrote.
If you have the space and the inclination, get yourself a rescue dog. You’ll never regret it.
Cross-posted from Vodkapundit
Xie Shuipeng, a trim 48-year-old with a broad smile, has a dream that one day Mike Tyson will punch him.
After ten years working the nightclub circuit, Mr Xie has won fame as China’s number one human punchbag, able to withstand a blow of any strength.
He advertises his services to anyone frustrated with life. “If you are upset by your boss or your wife, don’t blame them! Vent your anger on me! Let society be harmonious,” his flier states.
On neon-lit stages, Mr Xie offers free drinks to anyone who can hit him so hard he steps backwards across a yellow line on the ground.
“I tell them only to punch me in the belly, but sometimes they insist on punching me in the chest or even hitting me over the head with a glass bottle,” he said.
You know you’re not supposed to do… aw, hell — he makes a good living at it.
Dear Stage Parents,
I’m watching Justin Beiber’s public meltdown, but only because the headlines are so big. It’s a sure thing I’ve never actually listened to one of his songs, or at least not one all the way through. But I wonder if there might be a way for you to avoid having to watch your kids go through something similar.
What I came up with isn’t much. It might be enough though.
If you’re lucky enough to watch your kid have some success, take those earnings and put them in a blind trust. Let them have a generous allowance — enough to keep them comfortable, pay for tutors and college and all the rest. Just don’t let them have enough money to think they’re invincible and can load up the Ferrari with drugs and booze and yell obscenities at cops.
Because your kids aren’t invincible; they’re kids. Given that kind of power — and let’s remember that money is power — kids will almost always hurt themselves. We’ve seen it time and time again.
So put the bulk of that money in trust, where they can’t blow it all on booze and cars and whatnot. And keep it there until they turn 25. Or maybe even 30. Give them the opportunity to either transition gracefully and responsibly into adult stardom. Or should they fail that, give them the opportunity to learn to be responsible human beings before they come into a sudden fortune.
It’s the very rare child who can handle sudden wealth. It’s an even rarer child who ever becomes a real adult after acquiring it. And it’s rarer still for these grown child-adults to keep their fortunes.
I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of watching talented, beautiful kids grow up to become ugly adult addicts — if they live long enough to do even that.
-Your Friendly Neighborhood VodkaPundit
image via CBC News
It’s sad to watch my once-proud state descend into California-level insanity, but here’s yet another example of just that:
A proposed ballot initiative in Colorado would require couples to undergo 10 hours of pre-wedding marriage education before they can legally tie the knot.
The measure, proposed by the California-based group Kids Against Divorce, would then require people who are marrying for a second time to clock 20 hours of counseling, 30 hours for a third marriage and so on, the Denver Post reported.
Kids Against Divorce? The name of this phony-balony group might as well be “For the Children!™”
I’m reminded of anti-drunk driving laws. A laudable effort, to be sure, but an entire quasi-private industry has grown up around the laws. Instead of paying your fines and doing your community service, offenders also have to endure hours of “support” lessons. It’s a state-mandated industry for otherwise unemployable lefties.
If this thing becomes a part of the state constitution, we’ll have another quasi-private industry for pre-marriage counseling.
And I’d honestly rather live in sin than pay any money to these charlatans.
image via shutterstock / Anton Gvozdikov
David Harsanyi thinks the American electorate might becoming more libertarian, rather than more progressive. Here’s why:
A cultural shift is not always an ideological one. Or, at least, not always the one you imagine. Our norms are always evolving. Immigration, pot legalization, same-sex marriage and “big business” are the issues that Rosenthal’s claims portend progressivism’s triumph. Yet, most of these are only incidentally progressive. Marijuana legalization or support for same-sex marriage is far more likely caused by a growing ‘live and let live’ mindset than any burst of leftist idealism. And if the ‘live and let live’ mindset starts bleeding into other area of American life — say education, health care or religious freedom– the left is in trouble.
In the end, the progressive agenda demands that you trust the state to control economic outcomes; an idea that is yet to be proven especially popular among Americans. Will it be? Who knows? But right now what does seem to be growing is skepticism towards government. Especially among the young. When Gallup asks, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” it doesn’t bode well for the left that a plurality– Independents, Republicans and Democrats – say its government. Fifty-three percent of Americans claim to believe government does “too many things.” (Forty percent think its powers should be expanded.) Add to this the fact that, according to Gallup, a record number of Americans (42 percent) are rejecting partisan labels and identifying as political independents. Sounds like there’s a growing number of voters with a libertarian disposition– though most would never articulate it that way.
This certainly fits in with what I’ve been trying to tell Republicans, who could stand to benefit the most from this shift towards skepticism. If they’d take their heads out, that is. Big government on social issues combined with me-tooism on the economy isn’t a winning ticket, as we keep learning the hard way.
If you want a glimpse of a successful future for the GOP, it might look something like this.
— BuzzFeed Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 22, 2014
I remain pro-choice myself, if only moderately so, but the country as a whole has been moving the other direction — even as it becomes more accommodating (socially and legally) of gays.
Anyway, Harsanyi has written a good piece — read the whole thing.
Charles Lane thinks the Games have outlived their usefulness, if they ever had any:
have just one question: How many more such embarrassments must we endure before ending this corrupt quadrennial exercise?
The modern Olympics were founded by a French aristocrat, Pierre de Coubertin, who believed in promoting international peace and understanding by reviving the ancient Greek custom of periodic truces for athletic competition.
Whatever might be said for that idea in theory, it hasn’t panned out in practice. The ostensibly apolitical Games have been marred by several boycotts — of Montreal in 1976 (by African nations protesting apartheid), of Moscow in 1980 (by the United States and other Western countries protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) and of Los Angeles in 1984 (by communist countries retaliating for 1980).
The Games also have created a target for extremists, from the Palestinian terrorists who killed 11 Israeli athletes at Munich in 1972 to ultra-rightest Eric Rudolph, who placed a deadly bomb at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Consequently, these celebrations of international conviviality proceed under heavy military guard.
That last bit is certainly true, although it says more about the nature of terrorists than it does about the Games themselves.
The problem with Lane here isn’t that he’s necessarily wrong, it’s that he doesn’t provide any solution better than “end it, don’t mend it.” If we want the Olympics to be what they could be and should have been, then we’ve got to get governments out of it — and professional athletes, too.
The Olympics were supposed to be about amateurs competing for pure sport, and that got lost in a sea of Cold War rivalries and NBA stars.
Amateur, or bust. The same goes for government funding.
My interest in the Games has waned, the further they’ve moved from their roots. But I’d happily tun back in every four years if they’d get back to them.
Oh, and one other thing: NBC and Bob Costas have got to go.
Nintendo Co. (7974) President Satoru Iwata said the maker of video-game machines is considering a new business model after forecasting a surprise 25 billion-yen ($240 million) annual loss because of tepid demand for the Wii U.
“We are thinking about a new business structure,” Iwata said at a press conference yesterday in Osaka, Japan. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”
Iwata has to stop thinking about a new business structure, and get moving on one before it’s too late.
Nintendo proved with the original Wii that it has the ability to conceive and execute on new ways of playing games, of interacting with beloved characters. The failed Wii-U (you can no longer claim it’s “merely struggling”) was the sad result of Nintendo pursuing a spaghetti-against-the-wall tactic against Sony and Microsoft’s technological advantages. And Wii, for all its strengths, never moved enough games off of store shelves to generate the cash Nintendo needed if it was to ever catch up in the specs race.
But Nintendo can (I think) still execute on software and they have a stable of franchises which is the envy of the gaming world. All they need to do is to produce engaging games for the platforms people actually still buy. Yes, I know the DS handheld is still doing OK, but handhelds will turn out to be another hardware race Nintendo will lose, this time to phones produced by Apple and Samsung.
Nintendo had an amazing heyday as a hardware developer, but that day is done.
And I hate to say I told you so, but I did — way back in October of 2011, before the Wii U had even been released.