THE HEAVENS—Noting that the deceased billionaire wasted no time after entering into Heaven’s gates, angelic sources confirmed Friday that David Koch immediately launched a far-reaching, fully funded campaign to secure Antonin Scalia a seat in the Holy Trinity. “It’s been far too long since a true conservative like Antonin Scalia ascended to the highest ranks of Heaven and held the title of Divine Person,” said Koch, who, after arriving in the afterlife, reportedly began lobbying prominent Holy Angels and poured cash into conservative Heaven-wide advertising initiatives in order to secure a spot for the former Supreme Court justice to replace the Holy Spirit. “Over the years, Antonin has proved himself to have a strict originalist approach to scripture and God’s commandments, and he is the only logical choice to get Heaven back on track. This is the first step of many to ensure that one day, the Holy Trinity has a conservative majority.” At press time, sources had reported that David Koch had joined a coalition of prominent conservative Saints to begin grooming Neil Gorsuch for a position as a hypostasis when he dies.
Massive human-caused fires in the Amazon are burning the rainforest at a record rate, stoking global concerns about its potential impact on climate change and shrouding Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro in controversy. The Onion looks at the most significant consequences of the massive fires in the Amazon rainforest.
Lowers CO2 emissions given off by indigenous people breathing.
Rare plant containing compound essential to curing cancer burned to extinction within five minutes of fires starting.
Constitutes a direct challenge to American wildfire exceptionalism.
Shitload of dead capybaras.
Jair Bolsonaro somehow leverages role in this unmitigated catastrophe to secure second term.
Dozens of misinformed Americans setting their lawns on fire in solidarity with Brazil.
Finally replaces 55 million years of evolution with God’s most perfect animal: cows.
Increased bragging rights for surviving this long for uncontacted peoples in Papua New Guinea.
Salesman trying to screw you out of extra $100 on that Brazilian mahogany armoire.
Nothing a worldwide climate holocaust followed by 5 million years of ecological healing won’t fix.
What wholesome game is Ruthie playing? (That I got shot…just like in the video game ba boom) Ricky let her play at school! You kill mofos! Ba Boom rules. Annie prohibits Ba Boom.
Mary hit Matt with a basketball. K. Eric’s home from a tournament! (There was this kid who was so) No, please finish that sentence.
Simon’s new girlfriend Deena’s distraught. Her ex Johnny’s crazy! He’s coming after Simon! Simon gives Johnny his most threatening howdy and says Deena’s taken. Johnny’s pissed.
Ruthie accidentally broke Ricky’s Ba-Boom. Ba-Boom possessed her! She had to have it! She’s sent home to dream about that sweet game all day. Simon’s late. Eric’s on it.
They were hiding. Just not long enough. (look stay out or I’ll take you out…take me out? Get it…) Johnny vows to shoot Simon with a 38 special when he least suspects it. Which technically would’ve been any time before saying that.
Eric asks what’s wrong. Nothing! Not fooling Eric.
Someone’s playing on Eric’s phone. Perhaps related to SIMON’S SECRET. Simon snitches his tiny heart out. (Deena’s old boyfriend said he’s going to shootme). Eric’s shocked. Blasting kids in the face is his thing.
Matt visits Shauna. Her brother George likes Mary. Seems nice. But is he? George violently wrestles Mary’s number out of Shauna. So he’s NOT nice. Got it.
Annie and Eric agree not tell the kids that a thug with more puka shell jewelry than pubes put a hit on Simon.
Eric ran a tattle telethon. (left messages…cafeteria) Then blames video games and movies for corrupting kids. Enter Ruthie yelling Ba-Boom! Annie forbids her from using her imagination to play that game.
Eric’s on the horn with the assistant principal. His hands are tied until he talks to Johnny’s parents. Gotta go by the book on school shooting threats five months before Columbine. Simon and Deena will stay home until then.
Not good enough. Eric’s going to Johnny’s. (do you think…I got him doing research) He runs this town like a twenty cent puppet show.
George asks Mary out! Don’t tell Matt. Matt “by the way” warns George seems dangerous. Not realizing “danger” is horny teen cheat codes..
Eric rats to Johnny’s dad. Johnny denies knowing Simon. Anyone would. (DO you own a gun? Oh I thought so). What tipped you off? You’re in America?
Gone With The Wind gave Lucy the urge to slap her man. Violence. It’s everywhere, folks.
Ruthie begs Simon for help securing a Ba-Boom. Simon, per usual, is worthless. Ruthie outsmarts him with an unlocked sliding door.
Sargent Fresh Fade got intel. Johnny has a record and his dad owns a 38 special. How is it legal to share all this?
They tell Papa John his increasingly violent kid has a one way ticket on the fuckup express.
They searched his locker. No gun, buuut (an alter to violence…pictures torturing animals;…gun ads…cds…comic books) So a mix of good and bad.
Eric’s had it. Simon’s life is at stake! What’s worse, someone who matters could get hurt. Deputy Supercuts drops some fun gun stats. (guns don’t kill people…people with guns!) Keep talking, think you’ll see eye to eye any second.
Johnny’s moving to private school. They will not be harassed about their killer kid or kid killer. Johnny gives Eric them crazy white boy shooter eyes.
Mary needs Lucy to cover for her date. She refuses. (if you awnt to slap me it’s not that big of a deal) She wants to slap him mid-argument after a kiss just like that old movie. This chick’s certifiably nuts. Mary covers for Lucy’s assault. Forcing Lucy’s to now cover for her. This fucking family.
Matt spies Shauna’s bruises. Their mom smacked George now he smacks her. Also I’m sure Pac- Man and M.C. Hammer played a part somehow.
Simon and Deena place their life in the paws of Happy the guard dog.
Matt instantly smells Lucy’s lies. She spills her guts under no pressure.
Eric hits his Christ Cubicle. Oh FUCK. Here’s Johnny. Eric says go easy. Ba boom. Seemed easy enough for Johnny.
Mary’s date with George got physical over a game of pinball. She whoops him then they tag team call him a sicko who needs help. Step one? Stop playing on the devil’s jukebox.
Annie can’t believe her holy man just got one hole holier. Ruthie now sees video games are bad because her dad got capped.
After showing no remorse for attempted murder, Johnny’s locked up until 25. Eric says he’s going to help George with his anger issues. But we never see George ever again. Probably fucking killed himself.
So what did we learn today?
Violence is all around us. In fictional video games and movies from the 1930’s and pickup basketball games with Jessica Biel. Don’t listen to the siren song of brutality, because you’ll shoot a reverend over a 12 year old girl. See you next time on A Very Special Episode.
Actor/ Writer/ Editor: Dashiell Driscoll
VFX: Bryan Wieder
Post Supervisor: Kia Reghabi
A dog-owner has been left feeling “overwhelmed” by the generosity of a kind stranger.
Lauren Salmon, a carer from Orpington in London, claims a kind stranger has purchased a £400 wheelchair for her 10-week-old labrador puppy, Roo.
In a surprising twist, Roo was born with not four legs, but six, and while she isn’t in any pain, she often struggles to maneuver around.
The pup, who was named after a Kangaroo, has to hop around on her back legs when she walks, as she often gets tangled up with her extra front ones.
But now she’ll be able to live a much more normal life, thanks to the stranger’s touching gesture.
Lauren, 33, purchased Roo from breeders in Essex at the end of July, after her teenage son Luke, spotted the sweet dog online.
The pair have quickly become the best of friends and the puppy has helped the 15-year-old, who suffers with psoriasis, by boosting his confidence.
His mum says she was “shocked” by the amount of attention and generosity their little pooch has received, but is so grateful for it – as it has helped Roo immensely.
According to Lauren, the stranger who donated the wheelchair had recently lost their own dog, so wanted to do “something good” in memory of her lost pet.
The mum-of-four added: “Her attitude was that in her dog’s memory she wanted to do something good.
“We will meet her halfway in the wheels and she can have a cuddle with Roo which she can’t wait for.
“I’m overwhelmed that she donated a wheelchair to let Roo have a normal life.”
Roo already has her wheelchair and is getting used to moving around in it. Lauren says she’ll be taking her out for walks with the wheels as soon as she’s built up a bit more strength.
ANAHEIM, CA––Assuring the crowd of onlookers that the beloved cartoon character was merely enjoying a little rest from all the fun he was having in the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland employee Mark Scovell hastily improvised a story Friday about how much Goofy loves napping on the pavement. “Oh, jeepers, it looks like somebody has been playing a little too hard!” said Scovell, explaining to the large group of tourists that the friendly anthropomorphic dog was simply “having a bit of a snooze” so that he might have plenty of energy for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade later that afternoon. “Why, the poor fella must be just pooped from going on so many rides with all his little friends all day. Thirsty, too—careful you don’t step on all the little empty Goof Juice bottles! Golly, he’s not waking up. He must have been plumb tuckered out. What a silly old dog!” Scovell excitedly pointed out that Goofy’s police friends were coming to take him for a little ride in their car so he could help them solve the mystery of how certain beloved Disney characters were being magically transported to slumberland.
When getting ready to hit the club with your closest gal pals, you’re likely to spritz yourself in your favourite perfume before you dash out the door.
But one woman has a slightly different ritual she follows when prepping for a big night out.
Shan Boodram has claimed that she uses her “vaginal fluids” as her signature scent when she goes out on the town and it acts like a “love potion” causing those attracted to women to “flock” towards her.
In the excerpt, she explains why she covers herself in her own bodily fluids.
She explains: “Vaginal fluids, especially around ovulation, but really any time you want to feel an extra boost of confidence, can serve as a love potion.
“Here’s why: I’m often asked to confirm or deny the myth that eating an excessive amount of pineapple will make someone taste better during oral sex. My response is, if you think it makes you taste better then it absolutely works.
“Similarly, regardless of if vaginal pheromones truly make a person irresistible or not, the fact that you think it does, will cause you to act in a bolder, more confident manner.”
She goes on to teach people how – and where – to apply their own natural scent to themselves.
The first step is to wash your hands and then move your finger around in your vaginal opening.
The goal she says, is “to get a new sample from the Bartholin’s glands, which are the size of a pea but play a large role in vaginal lubrication”.
She continues to say that once you’ve got a good amount of wetness, you can go ahead and rub it on your neck, collarbone and wrists.
Apparently this will make you smell pretty good to potential partners – unless you’ve got bacterial vaginosis, in which case you won’t be smelling so hot.
Boodram claims that she’s used the technique “countless times” over the past ten years and gets mixed results each time.
“Sometimes people are flocking to me, sometimes I don’t notice a difference,” she confesses.
But despite being unsure of its impact on potential dates, she knows it has a big impact on her.
“I am certain that every single time I employ it, it makes me feel like an enchanted goddess with a delicious secret,” she says.
SOUDERTON, PA—Expressing frustration that he has not actually earned his position, Little League sources told reporters Friday that Rory Peters was only the team’s starting pitcher because he’s the son of Coach P, gets daily one-on-one training, and goes to an intensive pitching camp for six weeks every summer. “It’s total bullshit that Rory starts every game just because his dad forces him to practice two hours a night,” said an anonymous source close to the team, dismissing Peters’ standing on the ball club as the product of nepotism and an unbroken focus that has been imposed on him by his father since the age of five. “It’s discouraging to the rest of us to know that we would be up there if we were the coach’s kid and had all his knowledge and effort poured into us. I mean, Peters has a decent fastball, but he’s really not that special. Why not give a chance to someone who isn’t your kid and isn’t half as good as him?” At press time, teammates were taunting Peters for being a little suck up and staying after practice to work on his mechanics.
We’re deep in the heart of mini fridge season at the moment, and if you still haven’t picked one up for your back-to-school needs, this $99 model is one of the coolest we’ve seen.
The 3.2 cubic foot fridge from Frigidaire includes storage space for drink cans, a small freezer compartment, a retro style handle, and best of all, a front face that acts as a dry erase board. Now you can warn your roommate not to eat your frozen taquitos right there on the fridge.
UAE media recently reported the almost-unfathomable case of a woman who decided to divorce her husband after a year of marriage, because he loved her too much and never once argued with her.
If this funny news story is anything to go by, too much of a good thing can indeed be harmful in the long run. A UAE woman recently sought to divorce her husband at the Shariah court in Fujairah, because she felt chocked by his love and affection. To make matters “worse”, the husband allegedly never argued with her during their one-year marriage and even helped her with house chores like cleaning, which she described as “hell”.
“He never yelled at me or turned me down,” the poor woman reportedly told the court. “I was choked by extreme love and affection. He even helped me clean the house.”
“I long for one day of dispute, but this seems impossible with my romantic husband who always forgave me and showered me with gifts,” she added. “I need a real discussion, even an argument, not this hassle-free life of obedience.”
Present in court during a preliminary hearing, the husband told stunned judges that he felt he had done nothing wrong, and that his sole goal was to “be a perfect and kind husband”. Unfortunately, it seems like it was his excessive desire to please his wife that made her want to ask for a divorce.
The husband admitted that he went to great lengths to please his wife, telling judges that one time, when she complained about his weight, he went on a diet and started exercising. He even suffered a leg fracture as a result of his efforts. Still he asked the court to advise his wife to reconsider.
“It’s not fair to judge a marriage from the first year, and everybody learns from their mistakes,” the man said, according to the Khaleej Times. Luckily for him, the court adjourned the case to give the two parties a chance to reconcile.
MISSOULA, MT—Observing that she seems to “go a bit overboard” with her enthusiasm for the season, sources confirmed Friday that local woman Linda Gillespie is so obsessed with Christmas that she worships Jesus Christ throughout the entire year. “Even in summer, Linda will be brimming with the holiday spirit and praising the Lord Jesus as her savior,” said neighbor Daniel Bonn, explaining that Gillespie goes so far as to attend a Christ-themed service every Sunday of the year as if it were Christmas morning. “I like Christmas as much as the next guy, but considering it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, don’t you think it’s a little odd that the inside of her home is decorated with a bunch of depictions of Christ? She’s also apparently joined some kind of weird choir that sing songs about Jesus year-round.” At press time, sources confirmed Gillespie had finally let go of the Christmas spirit after a severe crisis of faith caused her to stop believing in God altogether.
With just under five years between them, it’s not always easy to see the close resemblance between Princes George and Louis .
Add in to the mix the fact that the youngest Cambridge has been largely kept out of the public eye, and we don’t get many opportunities to compare them.
Because we love to try and detect who babies take after, popular theory suggests that Little Louis takes after the Duchess of Cambridge’s dad, Mike.
But when you see the two brothers up close and side-by-side, the similarities are uncanny.
Now, a royal family super fan has given us the opportunity to see how much they resemble each other.
The picture shows Prince Louis at a few months old, and Prince George at a year old and they have near-identical expressions and features.
It’s not just their physical resemblance which bonds the Cambridge kids together , they’re also said to be very close.
Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine, told People magazine : “The Cambridge kids are really lively. Clearly the kids are having fun.
A source told People magazine that George and Charlotte have grown especially close, because play dates with outsiders can sometimes be ‘tricky.’
It’s believed that playing with ther kids comes with security issues, and a natural suspicion of letting new people in.
We learn in email 101 that hyperlinks from unfamiliar senders are breeding grounds for scams. Microsoft has warned against clicking on foreign links for decades. The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly cautioned Americans to be wary of malware and phishing expeditions. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission alerted consumers to a new cyber threat it dubbed “smishing”—targeting consumers with deceptive text or SMS messages—and urged consumers to “never click links, reply to text messages or call numbers you don’t recognize.”
David Vladeck was director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection from 2009 to 2012 and is currently the A. B. Chettle, Jr., Chair in Civil Procedure at Georgetown Law School. He sits on the board of directors of the National Consumer Law Center.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau apparently skipped these lessons. Despite many warnings, the CFPB has proposed a rule that could require consumers to click on hyperlinks in unfamiliar emails. The proposal allows debt collectors to deliver important information about a debt and a consumer’s rights via links in text messages and emails—without first obtaining consent to electronic communications, as is normally required under federal law.
Debt collectors are required to send a “validation notice” that tells a consumer when a debt has been placed in collection and that the consumer has the right to get information to be able to verify or dispute it. When Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in 1977, it considered the validation notice critical to minimizing mistaken identity and errors on the amount or existence of a debt.
The risk of collectors going after the wrong person or wrong amount is much greater today. Since 1977, a new industry has bloomed: debt buying. As director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, I initiated a 2013 study that found nine of the largest debt buyers alone collectively held a debt of $143 billion from more than 90 million consumers. (As of 2017, two of the largest debt buyers, Encore Capital Group and Portfolio Recovery Associates, held a combined debt of $17.6 billion, about the GDP of Iceland.) Debt buyers sell and resell debts for years on end, typically without account records verifying that the debts are accurate, making the validation notice even more essential. Without one, a consumer won’t be told how to dispute a debt, and they may be harassed for a debt they do not owe. According to an analysis of the CFPB’s complaint database, 44 percent of complaints against debt collectors concern attempts to collect a debt that the complainant does not owe. Worse yet, the collector could report the debt to credit reporting agencies, damaging the person’s credit, or even bring suit.
Today, debt collectors are obligated to send validation notices by mail unless the consumer consents to electronic communications. Giving consumers a choice makes sense. But the CFPB’s proposal would permit debt collectors, in some cases, to email or text a validation notice through a hyperlink that a consumer would have to click on to see without first getting consent. That is a terrible idea. Consumers are unlikely to recognize the debt collector’s name or feel comfortable clicking on a hyperlink when an unfamiliar email or text arrives. That’s true even if the creditor had already sent the consumer a fine-print notice with the debt collector’s name and the right to opt out of hyperlinks, as the CFPB proposes.
Encouraging use of hyperlinks by unknown parties undermines government warnings about the risks of doing so and exposes consumers to criminal exploitation. Scammers pushing links with viruses, malware, and identity theft scams are almost certain to impersonate debt collectors. Consumers will face a catch-22: Click and risk a virus or a scam, or don’t click and miss potentially legitimate information about why a debt collector is going after you and how to dispute the debt. Work computers could also be infected.
That’s still not the worst of the CFPB’s proposal. It also encourages emails and texts from collectors with no set limits. People could opt out, but the proposal does not specify how, and collectors might require an inconvenient method. Consumers should have a right to simply reply “Stop.”
The National Consumer Law Center has highlighted a number of other problems—including for employers and businesses. The CFPB would allow collectors to ring you repeatedly, protect collection attorneys who make false statements in court submissions, permit privacy violations, and encourage collectors to pursue debts after the deadline for a lawsuit, even though the FTC has long taken the position that doing so often deceives consumers and can violate the law.
Members of the public have a chance to tell the CFPB what they think about the proposal until September 18. Debt collectors have long been at the top of the complaints received by both the FTC and the CFPB. The CFPB has a chance to change that trend by enacting a rule that protects consumers, not abusive debt collectors. Tell them to get it right.
WIRED Opinion publishes articles by outside contributors representing a wide range of viewpoints. Read more opinions here. Submit an op-ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Welcome to Replay, where we endeavor to recap all the most important videogame news of the week in just a couple of minutes! This week was Gamescom, one of the year’s biggest videogame conferences—which means, naturally, a ton of news dropped. Here, let’s cut through the news and take a look at what really matters.
Sony Buys Long-Time Collaborator Insomniac Games
On Monday, Kotaku reported that Sony had bought Insomniac Games, a development studio with a history of working on Sony’s platforms on franchises like Ratchet & Clank and the recent, extremely successful (and quite good) Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4.
This big buy continues a trend of hardware manufacturers consolidating their brands by purchasing studios to add to their stable of first-party creators. In the past couple of years, Microsoft has bought a not-insignificant number of studios, including Obsidian Entertainment and Psychonauts developer Double Fine. In these turbulent times, it seems like a move to shore up the success of future console projects by keeping most of the costs and profits in-house, though one has to wonder what the overall effect on product diversity and output is going to be.
GameStop Continues Its Downward Descent With Massive Layoffs
I probably don’t need to explain to you that GameStop, once the foremost videogame retailer in the United States, has had a rough time in the age of digital distribution. In a niche that is mostly dead, the company continues to soldier on—and not without costs. This week, as Kotaku reports (they’re good at this, OK?), GameStop laid off a lot of people, including over a hundred from its corporate branches and roughly half of the staff of Game Informer, a popular print videogame publication—one of the last—which GameStop owns.
It’s a pretty serious blow to fans of brick-and-mortar and to fans of good videogame journalism alike, as GameStop’s stock continues to drop and its future looks increasingly dim. The company clearly hopes the layoffs will help it streamline itself, but it’s hard not to see them as another in a long line of warning signs.
Steam Is Working With Local Partners to Produce a China-Specific Steam Service
Finally, as explained by Rock Paper Shotgun, Valve is working to launch a version of its Steam service specifically tailored to China. The region has specific rules and regulations about videogames that don’t play in other regions, making Steam’s global service—which is available, though through questionable means, and always at risk of being banned—a poor fit. Now, Valve is working with Perfect World, their publisher in China, to launch Steam Platform, a basic form of the platform with a curated set of approved games to launch wide in the Chinese market. No release date is planned as of yet, but we already know some of the 40 games planned for the release. They include Dota 2, Dota Underworlds and indie darlings FTL, Raft, and Subnautica.
Recommendation of the Week: Stardew Valley, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Sometimes, you just need to relax. The world’s hard. Everything’s scary. Why not start a farm? Stardew Valley is an escapist getaway, a nice farm simulation game set in a tiny adorable little town where you get to shape a plot of land, learn how to make it work for you, and create your own little paradise. Also, the world is infused with strange magic, deep mines, and you get to take down a fictional Walmart conglomerate if you want to. It’s a great place.
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The German city of Bielefeld, in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, has announced that it is offering a €1 million prize to anyone who can prove that it doesn’t exist.
To have any hope of understanding this bizarre offer, you have to go back to 1993 when the famous “Bielefeld? There’s No Such Thing!” conspiracy theory appeared on the internet. Formulated by a computer student named Achim Held, it basically claimed that Bielefeld – a city of around 330,000 inhabitants, which has historically been around for around 800 years – didn’t actually exist, because, unlike other German cities, it wasn’t really known for anything in particular. The hilarious conspiracy theory spread online and gained a life of its own, with many proponents postulated that a group called “SIE,” or “THEY” in German, created an imaginary illusion of the city, or that it had a secret city center where “dead” celebrities like Elvis Presley and Kurt Cobain had been taken away to.
Photo: Bielefeld Marketing
The so-called Bielefeld Conspiracy became ingrained in German popular culture, with even personalities like Angela Merkel joking about in on a visit to the city, telling people that she hadn’t been sure it existed.
“So it does exist,” Merkel said during her 2012 visit. “I had the impression that I was there… I hope I may go there again.”
But now local authorities seem to have had enough of jokes on the behalf of their beloved home and are offering a prize of one million euros to anyone who can prove that Bielefeld doesn’t really exist. They say they are “99.99% certain that we can refute any evidence”, but in the unlikely event that anyone proves the non-existence of the German City taxpayers can rest assured that the prize will be paid by Bielefeld Marketing’s sponsors.
Anyone willing to take part in this unusual competition must submit their theory about the non-existence of Bielefeld by September 4. Entries can come in various forms – pictures, videos or text – but the submitted “pearls of wisdom must be incontrovertible”.
There was also the drawstring bikini, which saw women pulling their straps tight, leaving very little to the imagination.
But this bizarre look has just been given an update by Playboy model Cassandra Sienega who took the style to new extremes while celebrating her birthday.
In a snap on Instagram Cassandra, who posts under the username cjsparxx, showed off a pink bikini that barely covered anything and has been branded “the world’s tiniest” by one fan in the comments.
The unusual swimming costume is made from three very small scraps of pink fabric, which are just held onto her body by see-through strings.
The bikini is so small, that if you saw her from the back, you’d be excused for thinking she was totally naked.
Obviously many people approved of her choice of swim wear, telling her how great they thought she looked.
But there were some who couldn’t resist poking fun at the whole thing.
One person compared the bikini to bandaids (plasters).
They said: “Should have just used bandaids.”
Another wrote: “And setting the record for worlds tiniest bikini.”
A sarcastic user commented: “Soo much material on that bikini! What are the washing instructions?”
While another posted: “You’re too covered up in this photo.”
Others said she looked “mind blowing” and “amazing”.
Cassandra’s post, which shows her leaning against a glass wall by a pool has now accumulated more than 39,000 likes.
She captioned the photo, saying: “Celebrated my 34th birthday in style at @thesapphirepool with friends. Hands down the best birthday EVER! I’ll definitely be back!!!”
Anker Portable Power Strip | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ANKER192
Need some extra outlets on your desk, by your nightstand, or at the airport? Anker’s newest and smallest power strip includes two AC outlets and two USB charging ports, and it’s just $20 with promo code ANKER192.
One nice touch: The AC plug is flat, so you can easily stick this behind a couch or desk where a regular power strip’s plug might not easily fit.
Plastic is everywhere. No, really, it is everywhere. Tiny bits of plastic waste, called microplastic, have come to permeate nearly every part of the planet. We drink it in our water. We breathe it in the air. It is inescapable. On this episode of the Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED science writer Matt Simon joins Mike, Lauren, and Arielle to talk about where microplastic comes from, how it gets into our bodies, and what, if anything, we can do about it.
Also in the news: Reddit gets into the livestreaming game, the latest version of Android’s operating system gets a healthy name change, and reviews are in on Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 10+. The consensus is that it’s pretty darn cool.
Matt Simon’s story on microplastics is here. Read Arielle’s story about Reddit’s livestreaming experiment here. Read Lauren’s review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ here. Read Boone Ashworth’s story about Android’s new naming conventions here.
Matt recommends a series of books about wildfires by Stephen Pyne. Lauren recommends an episode of the Bill Simmons Podcast featuring journalist Kara Swisher. Arielle recommends the podcast Carrier. Mike recommends the book How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan.
How to Listen
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Every episode also gets posted to wired.com as soon as it’s released. If you still can’t figure it out, or there’s another platform you use that we’re not on, let us know.
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If you’ve called yourself a gamer in the past 30 years, then you know the name, Hideo Kojima. As the mastermind writer, director, and designer behind the mind-boggling Metal Gear series and the upcoming PS4 exclusive Death Stranding, Kojima is a force to be reckoned with in the video game world, known for his elusive storylines and sprawling mythos. Hot on the heels of the latest six-minute trailer for his new game, we sat down for an interview with the legendary gaming auteur after we chained him to a radiator in a dank basement, locked the door, and refused to let him leave until he admitted one thing: He has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, he’s just making shit up as he goes along, and he’s essentially a professional fraud.
Onion Gamers Network: Kojima-san, thank you so much for joining us. It’s an honor.
Kojima: Oh God, oh God, oh God. Why won’t you let me leave? Why won’t you let me sleep? What do you want? [Weeping]
OGN: Let’s start by discussing your hotly anticipated work on Death Stranding. Let us just ask you point-blank: Can you give us a straightforward explanation of what this game’s story is?
K: What? Is that all? Well, if you really want to know, I guess…so, Death Stranding is supposed to be a commentary on the ravages of climate change and the way our fragmented society can be destroyed by invisible forces. The protagonist, Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus), uses a fetus-like BB-unit to build connections between—
Unfortunately, at this point, we had to slap Kojima-san across the face to make him focus. After his nose stopped bleeding, we resumed the interview.
OGN: You understand the deal here, right? We’re asking you to provide the simple narrative arc for your game. Or you can just state, for the record, that you made a fun package-delivery video game and then filled it with incoherent references, such as the cetacean stranding, Dirac equations, or climate change, to make it seem more important than it actually was.
K: I worry it would ruin the gaming experience for my fans to elaborate too much on my creative process, but—What is that? Why are you showing me a photograph of my family? Please leave them alone.
OGN: Just answer this: Is there any reason whatsoever that one of the game’s trailers seems to show Bridges time-traveling back to a World War I trench filled with black goo? Or the Schwarzchild radius? Or did it just sound cool to you and, as always, that was enough of an explanation to include it in an 80-hour video game even if it didn’t cohere in any logical way?
K: Well, there’s actually an interesting facet of the mythos that explains why Sam Bridges would be sent back into a trench warfare scenario. As a member of the Corpses Disposal Unit of BRIDGES, he has a part in the “homo ludens” movement. Let me expand on that…
After a few more minutes of this, we had an OGN editorial assistant streamline the interview by cutting off the tip of Kojima’s pinky with pruning shears.
OGN: We can keep playing this game all day, sir.
K: [Weeping] What do you want from me?
OGN: Just admit you don’t know what any of this means! Admit that the Strand and the BB-Unit or whatever the fuck—all your vague conspiracy bullshit—is a bunch of lazy storytelling. Admit that you’re just some game designer who watched James Bond back in the ’80s and decided to cobble together a spy video game called Metal Gear, and now you’re in way, way over your head because of your constant narrative horseshit.
K: [He vomits on himself]
OGN: Who are the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo?
K: [Loud heaving]
OGN: Who are they? Don’t make us ask again.
K: I don’t know, okay? I don’t know! I have no idea what I’m talking about! Everyone in video games just assumes any reference above a third-grade level means that you’re making art. So, once journalists started calling me a visionary, I kept adding more and more of them to Metal Gear—calling the characters Ishmael and Ahab just because it’s from Moby Dick—stuff like that. And now here I am, forced to explain another video game that I don’t even remotely understand.
OGN: Would you say there’s any theme whatsoever to your games?
K: At best, you could say that the theme of my entire lifetime of game-making is that “war is bad” and the “environment is good.” Everything else is nonsense. I suppose another theme would be that it’s cool when government agents are cyborg ninjas or wear golden masks. Also, I like it when your character can urinate on command. There. I admitted it. Are you happy now?
OGN: Not quite. Before we let you go, we’d love to chat with you about the game’s fetus or whatever it is. But we, unfortunately, need to take a break for the next few days. Until then, we left you a tin bucket in the corner for your bathroom needs.
K: Oh God, don’t leave me here. Does anyone hear me? Help me! Help me!
Tune in next week for our follow-up interview where Hideo Kojima talks about the character design in Death Stranding after we blare heavy metal and flash floodlights at him for 36-hours straight to keep him from falling asleep.
The 2008 Georgian war was perhaps the first real hybrid war in which conventional military and hacker forces were combined. But given Georgia’s low rate of internet adoption—about 7 percent of Georgians used the internet at the time—and Russia’s relatively simplistic cyberattacks, which merely tore down and defaced websites, it stands as more of a historic harbinger of cyberwar than the real thing.
The world’s conception of cyberwar changed forever in 2010. It started when VirusBlokAda, a security firm in Belarus, found a mysterious piece of malware that crashed the computers running its antivirus software. By September of that year, the security research community had come to the shocking conclusion that the specimen of malware, dubbed Stuxnet, was in fact the most sophisticated piece of code ever engineered for a cyberattack, and that it was specifically designed to destroy the centrifuges used in Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. (That detective work is best captured in Kim Zetter’s definitive book Countdown to Zero Day.) It would be nearly two more years before The New York Times confirmed that Stuxnet was a creation of the NSA and Israeli intelligence, intended to hamstring Iran’s attempts to build a nuclear bomb.
Over the course of 2009 and 2010, Stuxnet had destroyed more than a thousand of the six-and-a-half-foot-tall aluminum centrifuges installed in Iran’s underground nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, throwing the facility into confusion and chaos. After spreading through the Iranians’ network, it had injected commands into the so-called programmable logic controllers, or PLCs, that governed the centrifuges, speeding them up or manipulating the pressure inside them until they tore themselves apart. Stuxnet would come to be recognized as the first cyberattack ever designed to directly damage physical equipment, and an act of cyberwar that has yet to be replicated in its virtuosic destructive effects. It would also serve as the starting pistol shot for the global cyber arms race that followed.
Iran soon entered that arms race, this time as aggressor rather than target. In August of 2012, the Saudi Arabian firm Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest oil producers, was hit with a piece of malware known as Shamoon that wiped 35,000 of the company’s computers—about three-quarters of them—leaving its operations essentially paralyzed. On the screens of the crippled machines, the malware left an image of a burning American flag. A group calling itself “Cutting Sword of Justice” claimed credit for the attack as an activist statement, but cybersecurity analysts quickly suspected that Iran was ultimately responsible, and had used the Saudis as a proxy target in retaliation for Stuxnet.
The next month, Iranian hackers calling themselves Operation Ababil hit every major US bank, knocking their websites offline with sustained volleys of DDoS attacks, a far more focused version of the takedown technique Russians had used against sites in Estonia and Georgia. Again, cybersecurity analysts detected the hand of Iran’s government in the attack’s sophistication despite the “hacktivist” front, perhaps a more direct message from Iran’s state-sponsored hackers that any future US cyberattacks wouldn’t go unanswered. A little over a year later, in February 2014, Iranian hackers launched another, more targeted attack on American soil: Following public comments from Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson suggesting the US use a nuclear weapon on Iran, sophisticated hackers hit Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casino, using destructive malware to wipe thousands of computers, just as in the Saudi Aramco case.
By 2014, Iran was no longer the only rogue nation exploiting the potential for cyberattacks to reach across the globe and inflict pain against civilian targets. North Korea, too, was flexing its cyberwar muscles. After years of staging punishing DDoS attacks on its favorite adversary, South Korea, North Korean hackers launched a more daring operation: In December 2014, hackers revealed they had deeply penetrated the network of Sony Pictures ahead of its release of The Interview, a low-brow comedy movie about an assassination plot against North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The hackers, calling themselves the Guardians of Peace, stole and leaked reams of emails along with several unreleased films. They capped off their raid by wiping thousands of computers. (Though the leaks might be called a mere influence operation, the disruptive data deletion pushes the incident across the cyberwar line.) The hackers left a menacing image on wiped computers of a skeleton, along with an extortion message; they demanded both money and that the release of The Interview be canceled. Despite that cybercriminal ruse, the FBI publicly named the North Korean government as the perpetrator of the attack, based in part on a slip-up that revealed a Chinese IP address known to be used by North Korean hackers. The roster of global powers entering the fray of cyberwar was growing.
Even as North Korean and Iranian hackers wreaked havoc in attacks like the ones against Las Vegas Sands and Sony Pictures, cyberwar circa 2014 was limited to isolated incidents and periodic acts of disruption. Around the same time, however, Ukraine was undergoing a revolution—one that would trigger a Russian invasion and lay the groundwork for the world’s first full-blown, real cyberwar.
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When Fraser Harvey declared himself Sensory Lab’s Customer of the Week, there was no way he could have foreseen what would unfold as a result of his actions.
Fraser, from Melbourne, regular frequents the coffee shop and, because there’s no loyalty card scheme, he took matters into his own hands and put up a poster announcing himself as Customer of the Week.
The next time he popped in for a coffee, however, he noticed he had an adversary – and she’d gone and trumped him by putting up a FRAMED photo of herself as Customer of the Week.
This meant war.
Not to be outdone, Fraser then hit back and created an actual certificate .
Seriously, who has this much time on their hands?
But his foe was not one to back down easily, and the next time Fraser went in, he saw this, which is an elegant masterclass in trolling .
It seemed as if the battle was won – but Fraser managed to pull off a stunning coup with loyalty cards and staff uniforms.
This seems to have done the trick, as his nemesis has not made an attempt to counter this.
“I think that I can speak on behalf of the staff too when I say that I am certainly No 1 now,” he said. “The establishment of the Fraser Harvey Memorial Coffee Loyalty Programme only further solidifies the status.”
He added: “A lot of people are asking me why it’s a memorial programme when I’m still alive. It’s gravitas. Really commands the respect of the other customers.”
The drama has been lapped up by customers and staff alike, but Harvey said he still knew nothing about his rival. “We have never met, but I’m sure it would be incredibly thrilling for her to meet Sensory Lab’s No 1 customer,” he told The Guardian .
A kitten in Texas is quacking everyone up.
Wee Melvin hasn’t quite mastered the meow, and what emerges sounds a lot like a quack, as the video above shows.
“We heard a very unique meow when we entered the room and followed it to this surprising source,” Sarah, a volunteer at the Palm Valley Animal Center in Edinburg, Texas, told Newsflare.
The quack might’ve helped Melvin stand out at the shelter: He was adopted this week, according to a post on the center’s Instagram page.
Here’s a visitor you probably won’t want to welcome into your house.
Homeowner Andi Stuart-Bishop of Fredericksburg, Virginia, said she received a movement notification from her doorbell camera and assumed it would be a package delivery or maybe a friend.
It was a snake, which Stuart-Bishop estimated to be about 7 to 8 feet long, looking right into the camera and then slithering on the door and doorknob, possibly returning from an attempt to reach a bird’s nest behind the second-floor shutters.
“I screamed,” she told local CBS station WTKR.
Stuart-Bishop said she installed the camera for security reasons, but seems to be feeling less secure now.
“I make sure to look around and keep my tiny dog on a leash when we go out,” she told the station. “I still can’t go out the front door.”
It could’ve been worse: Earlier this year, a doorbell camera captured a snake biting a man in the face.
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Entering its fifth weekend at the box office, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood has to date garnered worldwide box office totals exceeding $180 million. That puts the film well on pace to be the director’s highest domestic grosser ever.
Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, Once depicts events that led up to the deaths of actress Sharon Tate and four others at the hands of Manson Family members Tex Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel.
An openly wistful love letter to 1960s Los Angeles, Once also seems to be a valentine to Tate, played by Margot Robbie.
“The whole movie is about saving Sharon,” Tarantino said Sunday, speaking before an industry-only crowd at the Directors Guild of America. “But the minute you do that, you immediately know she’s not saved. Part of the [impact of] the film, as you’re watching it, is that you know she’s going to die.”
“That was the tricky part,” Tarantino said. “Most of the audience members are familiar with the details of Sharon’s murder. So that can act as a dramatic motor. You know this horrible shoe will drop, and every scene in the movie is taking you closer to that shoe.”
In a unique departure for Tarantino, Once goes a step beyond historical fiction to what might be called “historical fantasy” — creating a cinematic narrative combining actual historical figures Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski, Charles Manson and others alongside fictional characters of a distinctly Tarantino variety.
“When I was writing it, the first thing I had was the Cliff Booth character — the stuntman character, played by Brad [Pitt],” Tarantino said. “And I knew he would be working as a stunt double for a 1950s or early ’60s Western star actor, played by Leo [DiCaprio].
“So I had those two dudes, and I knew I was going to put them in a house right next door to Sharon Tate. Then, at that point, I knew I had my ending.”
The director said his approach in crafting Once was inspired by a teenage fascination with E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime.
“I remember when I was 13, I got the hardback copy of Ragtime,” Tarantino told UPI. “I remember reading it, and I remember thinking that I liked [Doctorow’s] idea of picking a period and taking some real characters from that period, along with fictional characters, and then mixing them up. And I even remember thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll do that someday.'”
That “someday,” Tarantino said, came around 2008, following the release of his fifth film, Death Proof.
“I started writing it, little by little, sometime after Death Proof,” he said. “So I’ve been working on it ever since. I began the process by writing the first few chapters in novel form. I normally like to write my scripts as if they’re novels, but that was especially true of this one, because I was working on it for years and just kept putting it away.”
By the time he completed the script, Tarantino said, he considered himself an expert on late ’60s Hollywood, giving him unique command of the era’s cultural minutiae.
“That knowledge allowed me to play it fast and loose,” he said. “I would decide that certain details of the story had to be absolutely, positively, 100 percent the way they actually occurred on the day of the murders. And on some of the other stuff, I just said, ‘I’m going to do what I want.’
“As far as viewers are concerned, they would probably feel that my choices as to which things I was precious about, and which things I was fast and loose about, were totally arbitrary. But to me, it was anything but arbitrary. It was completely personal.”
Calling the film’s ending “melancholy and sweet” — adjectives rarely associated with Tarantino’s work – the director said he considers Once to be “an intensely emotional experience” for viewers.
“The thing that’s been so gratifying,” Tarantino said, “is that I tried not to turn Sharon into a Quentin Tarantino character. I wanted her to be the person she was. She’s just supposed to represent normalcy. She doesn’t have any plot to advance.
“We’re just sort of watching her live her life. Because that was what was robbed from her. The fact is that she’s a person consigned to history to be defined, for the most part, by her tragic death.
“Now, as a result of people having watched Margot play Sharon, they can see that she was more than that. And I actually think people will think about her differently. In the end, I think this movie is about saving Sharon from her tombstone.
“To a small degree — but to a significant degree — I think this movie has actually done that.”