garage door 

Updated February 22

 

Jackass Needs Cue Cards to Remind Him to Act Sympathetic

dailymail.co.uk - February 22

President Donald Trump held a cue card between his hands as he met with victims and families of the Florida high school massacre on Wednesday. And while many of the notes are indiscernible, one is clearly visible, a reminder to himself to tell his guests: 'I hear you.' It seems the president had to remind himself to take the time to offer his guests sympathy during the many-hours-long meeting. 

 

I Hear You

Trumpcare

AP - February 21

The Trump administration is proposing to expand the availability of short-term health insurance plans that some deride as "junk insurance", an effort that could give consumers cheaper coverage options but undermine Obamacare's marketplaces and popular protections for pre-existing medical conditions. Proposed rules issued Tuesday morning follow an executive order from President Donald Trump this fall seeking to expand access to more affordable health insurance alternatives to comprehensive, but pricey Obamacare plans. The HHS proposal, released weeks after the Trump administration issued a rule encouraging small businesses to find coverage outside the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, represents the administration's latest effort to unwind the health care law with repeal efforts stalled in Congress.

"We need to be opening up more affordable alternatives," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on a call with reporters Tuesday. "Today's action represents an important promise kept by the president." But many health care experts fear expanding the availability of the health plans, which are exempt from Obamacare's robust consumer protections, could further destabilize the law's wobbly insurance markets. Critics say the plans offer just the illusion of coverage, and enrollees often don't realize how limited their benefits are until it's too late. Short-term plans maintain cheaper prices than traditional insurance by refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions, in some cases, and some medical services. Unlike Obamacare coverage, the short-term plans typically cap payouts, which could leave enrollees with catastrophic illnesses or injuries on the hook for huge medical bills.

 

Trump baby

Jaw-Dropping Numbers for 'Black Panther'

Box Office Guru - February 21

All the stars aligned perfectly for the Marvel super hero smash Black Panther which crushed all expectations shattering box office records in the process. King T'Challa and his team attracted a massive turnout of fans opening to a jaw-dropping $242M over the four-day Presidents Day holiday weekend, according to final numbers. The three-day Friday-to-Sunday portion came in at a colossal $201.8M. It was the biggest debut ever for the holiday frame, the month of February, and the entire pre-summer January-to-April span. Plus it was second best all-time for any comic book movie ever. Overall, Black Panther generated the fifth largest opening weekend of all-time (Friday-to-Sunday) behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248M), Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($220M), Jurassic World ($208.8M), and The Avengers ($207.4M). That is amazing company.

The much anticipated PG-13 super hero film was expected to be huge, but the results actually flew higher once movie fans had the chance to start coming out. The four-day average was a gargantuan $58,458 from 4,020 locations. Reviews were terrific across the board for Panther and audiences felt the same way giving it a perfect A+ grade from CinemaScore. Add in no major competition next week and this hit will smash $300M and $400M in no time. Studio data showed a crowd that was 55% male and 61% over 25. 23% of the gross came from 3D including IMAX and 4DX screens.

Lionsgate opened the new animated film Early Man but found few takers as the four-day bow was only an estimated $4.2M from 2,494 locations for a puny $1,684 average over four days.

 

"Black Panther"

The Caterpillar That Thinks its a Spider

Mother Nature Network - February 21

The monkey slug caterpillar is one oddly shaped creature. Sometimes mistaken for a hairy spider, sometimes for moldy leaf litter, this larvae has six hairy "arms" that curl out from each side of its body. It has extremely shortened legs, and the prolegs are suction cups, which create the appearance of a slug when you look at it belly-side up. Indeed, its miniscule legs and oddly long "arms" make it weirdly mesmirizing to watch, and it could be mistaken for a strange tarantula at first glance. While it looks like a nightmare creature that should be avoided, the monkey slug caterpillar is relatively harmless. Thanks to David L. Wagner, who tested it himself, the hairs of this species of caterpillar don't sting. That said, it may still cause a reaction for some sensitive people, so if you come across a monkey slug, it's best to avoid touching it.

Contrary to the happy metamorphoses made by story-time creatures like ugly ducklings and hungry caterpillars, the monkey slug transforms into ... the hag moth. (Poor thing just has to be content with drawing the short straw for attractiveness no matter its stage of life.) The species is found from Maine and Quebec south to Florida, and west to Nebraska, Arkansas and Mississippi.

 

caterpillar

The 'Gate to Hell' Really Did Kill People

Mother Nature Network - February 21

The truth about the infamous "Gate to Hell" has been uncovered, and it's no less fascinating than the myth. A research team from University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany recently discovered that the fables about human and animal sacrifices at this ancient Roman site are, in fact, true. The "Gate to Hell", discovered near the modern-day city of Pamukkale in Turkey, is the fabled Plutonium, a site where oracles and priests would perform sacrifices to Pluto in the ancient city of Hierapolis. Plutonium is named after Pluto, Roman god of the underworld. The area where the gate would have been centuries ago has significant levels of carbon dioxide (roughly 35 percent) emanating from the ground, especially at night and in the early morning. The gas dissipates during the day. However, the carbon dioxide only reaches lethal amounts 40 centimeters from the ground, which would explain why priests would sacrifice animals there, and sometimes even people, but not die themselves.

"They … knew that the deadly breath of [the mythical hellhound] Kerberos only reached a certain maximum height," biologist Hardy Pfanz told Science Magazine. A deep, narrow opening in the ground emits the carbon dioxide in the form of a mist, right below where Pluto's Gate was constructed and even still today.

Pluto's Gate was discovered in 2011 by a team led by Francesco D'Andria, a professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento in Italy. The researchers were following historic texts that put the location of Plato's Gate in the ancient city of Hierapolis, which was built near the therapeutic hot springs in southwest Turkey beginning in the third century B.C. in an area that would later become Pamukkale.

According to ancient texts, the gate, or "Pamukkale" in Turkish, contained deadly vapors that would kill any animal that entered the cave, yet certain priests could withstand the fumes. "We could see the cave's lethal properties during the excavation," D'Andria told Discovery News. "Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes."

The site was mostly destroyed by earthquakes in the sixth century, but D'Andria says the research team found evidence of the temple that was originally built outside the cave, where Greco-Roman pillars and steps once led down into the toxic entrance to Pamukkale itself. "People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening," D'Andria told Discovery News. "Only the priests could stand in front of the portal." Hierapolis-Pamukkale was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Millions of tourists visit the site each year to see the ruins of Greek baths, temples and monuments.

 

gate to Hell

Upcoming Hosts for the Return of SNL, March 3

Page Six - February 21

Award-winning "This Is Us" star Sterling K. Brown is set to host "Saturday Night Live" in March, it was announced by NBC. Brown, who currently can be seen on the big screen in the Marvel blockbuster "Black Panther" (and who did a most magical duet with Kristin Chenoweth at last year's TCA Awards), will lord over Studio 8H on March 10, with first-time musical guest James Bay. The following Saturday, "SNL" alum Bill Hader (of the upcoming HBO series "Barry") will host the long-running sketch series for a second time, with Arcade Fire serving as musical guest for a fourth time. As previously announced, "SNL" resumes its season on March 3 with host Charles Barkley and musical guest Migos.

 

SNL hosts

Unicorns are Taking Over

Food Beast - February 21

Every time we think the unicorn food fad is done and over with, somebody comes along and revitalizes it with a brand new item. This time, it's Lucky Charms bringing the kaleidoscopic hues back to life with their new unicorn marshmallow. The new unicorn-shaped mallow replaces the hourglass in the Lucky Charms's available shapes. It's got a white background and the ever-familiar blue and purple notes that color the horse's mane and horn. In a press release, the company mentions that they asked kids to help them come up with the new shape. Given that unicorns have basically taken over the Internet, especially in the kid-dominant YouTube and Snapchat spaces, it makes sense that they would go with the popularity of the mythical horse.

Unicorn-themed food has been big on Instagram for years now, but it's been pushed to the point of ridicule with items like unicorn pizza. General Mills, who owns Lucky Charms, is looking to capitalize on that trend at the retail level. They'll be competing with Kellogg's, who already has an official Unicorn Cereal in stores. With that in mind, we have to ask: is this just General Mills trying to get in on a trend, or is the shift to retail cementing the Unicorn's status as a true trend? One thing we know for sure is that the Unicorn will be a permanent addition to Lucky Charm's marshmallows, so you can count on seeing them for at least a while.

 

Lucky Charms

The Never-Ending "Windsor Hum"

Oddity Central - February 21

Residents of Windsor, a Canadian city near Detroit, have been complaining about a mysterious noise interfering with their daily lives for over eight years now, but despite numerous attempts to establish its origin, nobody has been able to figure out what's causing it. Called the 'Windsor Hum', the mysterious noise plaguing the Canadian city of over 210,000 people reportedly varies in intensity and comes and goes at random intervals. Sometimes it can be heard for just a few hours, and other times it lingers for days, causing those who can hear it to suffer from symptoms like severe headaches, sleeplessness, irritability, depression, among others. Some residents have been so affected by the Windsor Hum that they packed up and moved far away just so they could escape it.

"You know how you hear of people who have gone out to secluded places to get away from certain sounds or noises and the like? I've wanted to do that many times in the past year or so because it has gotten so bad," Windsor resident Sabrina Wiese wrote on a closed Facebook group dedicated to finding the source of the hum. "Imagine having to flee all you know and love just to have a chance to hear nothing humming in your head for hours on end." "You can't get away from it. You go outside to work in your garden, you go outside to enjoy the sun, the noise is there," 64-year-old Mike Provost told The Guardian, two years ago. "If you think of thunder, and you take that thunder and constantly repeat it for hours and days, weeks, that's all it is."

Some residents describe the Windsor Hum as the sound made by a subwoofer, others as an idling diesel engine, and some even compare it to the the Star Trek Enterprise preparing to go into warp speed. The one thing that all those who can hear the Windsor Hum agree on is that it is debilitating. Because it's so inconsistent, coming and going at various intervals, and varying in its intensity, it's virtually impossible impossible to get used to. Animals apparently have it even worse, according to Gary Grosse, a Windsor resident who has dedicated thousands of hours to finding the source of the hum and silencing it. "Animals are being medicated for anxiety too. It sounds really freaky, but there are dogs crying all the time because animals are more susceptible. We even have some cats that won't go outside," Grosse said.

Over the years, activists trying to solve the mystery of the Windsor Hum have complained that US Steel has been uncooperative and secretive about its operations on Zug Island. Both the New York Times and The Guardian attempted to contact the company about this issue, but it did not respond to requests for comment. Gary Grosse and several other Windsor residents even pushed the idea that US Steel be given immunity from a lawsuit if its machinery proves to be the cause of the hum, on the condition that the company investigate the noise and take steps to mitigate it if it turns out their machines are causing it. Unfortunately, that proposition was put forward two years ago, but nothing has changed. The Windsor Hum still torments people, and there's virtually nothing they can do but abandon their homes and move somewhere far away.

 

Windsor

Frying Vegetables in Olive Oil is a Good Thing

treehugger.com - February 21

There is no need to compromise flavor for health. A new study out of the University of Granada, Spain, has found that frying vegetables in extra-virgin olive oil can be healthier than boiling. Since olive oil is used so extensively in Mediterranean cuisine, the researchers decided to take a closer look at what really happens when vegetables are cooked. There is a common assumption that less oil is better when cooking, and that vegetables are healthiest when raw (or closest to a raw state). From the press release: "It is often thought that when we cook raw vegetables in certain ways and using certain cooking techniques, their antioxidant properties, such as the phenolic compounds, are to some degree lost or destroyed."

The researchers took four popular vegetables -- eggplant, tomato, potato, and pumpkin, and cooked them three ways. One method was frying in extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), another was boiling in water, and a third was boiling in a mixture of water and olive oil. "The vegetables were also kept in optimum conditions in order to accurately measure their moisture, fat, dry matter, and phenol contents, along with their antioxidant capacity, before and after each cooking method was employed."

What they found was surprising. The fried vegetables had higher level of natural phenols, which are antioxidants that have been linked to the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes and macular degeneration. The reason for this was that the olive oil essentially transferred its phenols to the vegetables, enriching their nutritional value. The authors wrote: "The presence of EVOO in cooking increased the phenolics identified in the raw foods as oleuropein, pinoresinol, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, and the contents of vegetable phenolics such as chlorogenic acid and rutin." Boiling, on the other hand, resulted in the transfer of phenols to the water, which meant nutrients are retained if a person drinks the broth along with the cooked vegetables (in the case of a soup), but lost if not. Overall, the number of phenols was not increased by boiling, as it was with frying.

The tradeoff, of course, is calories. Frying in olive oil results in a much more calorically dense food, but for those people opting for a higher-fat, lower-carb diet, this shouldn't be a concern. Olive oil is considered a 'good fat', filled with monounsaturated fatty acids.

 

frying

U.S. Government - 1 .. AT&T - 0

deadline.com - February 21

A federal judge has refused AT&T's request to compel the U.S. Department of Justice to release its communications with the White House ahead of next month's landmark trial over the telecom giant's acquisition of Time Warner. The heart of the request was AT&T's conviction that politics, specifically President Donald Trump's animus toward CNN, a major Time Warner asset, has prompted the government lawsuit seeking to block the $85B deal. But U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the company had not demonstrated that it had been unfairly treated by regulators. "We are pleased with and respect today's decision, which will permit the parties and court to focus on the case at hand," said DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec in a statement. "This case has always been about protecting consumers from competitive harms, and we look forward to presenting our case at trial."

It is hard to overstate the significance of the trial between the government and AT&T, which is scheduled to begin March 19. A host of deals have been held up due to uncertainty swirling around the case, and even major M&A deals announced since the suit was filed last fall, chiefly Disney's pending deal for most of 21st Century Fox, stand to be affected by the outcome. The government contends that the combination is inherently anti-competitive, and would result in the financial squeeze being put on rival companies as well as consumers. Last week, AT&T offered a preview of its strategy, contending in court filings that it believes the government singled the company out and treated it unfairly. It also said it could call Makan Delrahim, head of the DOJ's antitrust division, as a witness.

 

AT & T

Shatner May Be Heading to the Country Music Charts

Page Six - February 19

Captain Kirk is getting into the country music business. William Shatner signed with Heartland Records Nashville and "is currently working on a very special project that will be released later this year," according to a press release. Few details are known about the 86-year-old "Star Trek" actor's new venture. This isn't the first musical project to come from the actor. He has released eight previous albums, most recently 2013's "Ponder the Mystery." Shatner also has a close relationship with country music star Brad Paisley and has made cameos in several of his music videos, including "Celebrity"

 

Shatner

UFO from 2012 is Popular Once Again

dailymail.co.uk - February 19

An unidentified object has been spotted above the slopes of Mount Everest. The bizarre object, that has a disc-shape, cannot be a drone or helicopter due to the height it's operating at, according to UFO watchers. The eerie image is part of a series of 477 pictures put together by filmmaker David Breashears as part of a two-billion-pixel mosaic intended to highlight climate change. The photo was created in 2012 but has recently resurfaced online. There have been long-standing rumours of an 'Area 51' style base in the area, according to the Mirror. The Ladakh border, the area between India and China, is virtually inaccessible. Declassified files last year revealed that there had been seven sightings of UFOs in the area in 1968. One was a 'blazing object' that was 'flashing intermittently' and 'making a big thunder sound'. There were other reports of a 'huge metallic disc-shaped object with a six-foot base and four feet in height was found in a crater, five miles north east of Pokhara.' 

 

UFO

Black Panther..No. 1 Film and No. 1 Album

Billboard - February 18

Black Panther: The Album debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, launching with 154,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Feb. 15, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 52,000 are in traditional album sales. The set, which features music from and inspired by the blockbuster Marvel Studios film Black Panther, garners the biggest week for a soundtrack, in terms of total units earned, in a year-and-a-half. The last soundtrack to score a larger week was Suicide Squad: The Album, which bowed atop the Aug. 27, 2016-dated list with 182,000 units earned. Black Panther: The Album was released on Feb. 9 through Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Records. The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The Black Panther album includes a number of songs by Kendrick Lamar, who curated and produced the hip-hop-heavy album with Top Dawg Entertainment's founder/CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. The set's tunes also boast contributions from The Weeknd, SZA, Khalid and James Blake, among others.

At No. 2 on the new Billboard 200, Justin Timberlake's Man of the Woods falls a spot in its second week on the list, with 74,000 units (down 75 percent). The Greatest Showman soundtrack holds steady at No. 3 (down 10 percent), while Migos' Culture II slips from No. 2 to No. 4 (down 23 percent).

The soundtrack to Fifty Shades Freed bows at No. 5 with 58,000 units (of which 36,000 are in traditional album sales). It's the third soundtrack in the Fifty Shades film trilogy to reach the top five, following Fifty Shades Darker (No. 1 in 2017) and Fifty Shade of Grey (No. 2 in 2015). Fifty Shades Freed features songs by Liam Payne, Rita Ora, Julia Michaels, Jessie J and Sia. With Black Panther: The Album, The Greatest Showman and Fifty Shades Freed at Nos. 1, 3 and 5, the chart houses a trio of soundtracks in the top five for only the second time in the last 10 years. The only other time three soundtracks have populated the top five in the last 10 years was on the May 30, 2015-dated list, when Pitch Perfect 2 debuted at No. 1, Fifty Shades of Grey moved 6-3 and Furious 7 rose 7-5.

Back on the new Billboard 200, Ed Sheeran's Divide is pushed down 4-6, despite a gain, as it earns 42,000 units (up 5 percent). Bruno Mars' 24K Magic falls 5-7 (down 7 percent), Post Malone's Stoney descends 6-8 (down 4 percent) and Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. dips 7-9 (down 5 percent). Camila Cabello's Camila closes out the top 10, moving 8-10 (down 9 percent).

 

"Black Panther" Soundtrack"Man of the Woods"

X-ray Reveals Picasso Painted Over Another Artist's Work

dailymail.co.uk - February 18

Pablo Picasso painted over the work of another artist to create one of his masterpieces, new x-rays reveal. The discovery, announced on Friday at a conference in Austin, offers unprecedented insight into the esteemed painter's creative process. A team of scientists and curators used state-of-the-art non-invasive imaging techniques to find a landscape in a completely different style to Picasso's lying underneath his 1902 oil painting The Crouching Beggar (La Misereuse Accroupie). They also found the Spanish artist painted over his own first attempt before completing the final piece, a desolate woman crouching on the floor in a green cloak, which now hangs in Toronto, Canada. La Misereuse Accroupie formed part of Picasso's Blue Period, a time when he used blues and greens above all else.  

When the Art Gallery of Ontario received the piece, they noticed unusual textures across the canvas, suggesting a different composition underneath. Studying it, Kenneth Brummel, the AGO's assistant curator of modern art, thought it had the hallmarks of Picasso's famous portrait of his lover Dora Maar, Femme Assise. '[It] became clear to me that the arm hidden under the visible surface of La Misereuse Accroupie is the same as the proper right arm of a crouching woman in a Picasso watercolour recently sold at auction,' he said.

At its base, they found a horizontal landscape by a different (anonymous) Barcelona painter. It seems Picasso tipped the artist's canvas 90 degrees to the right, and used some of the landscape forms to shape the woman's slouching posture. But before reaching the final piece in which her entire body is shrouded by a cloak, he initially painted the woman with an object in her right hand. That arm is what bears a striking resemblance to The Femme Assise, as Brummel had suspected, a watercolor which was sold at auction in New York by Christie's in 2015 for $149,000.

The first version of the woman was also narrower with her head tilted the other way. What's clear, Professor Walton said, is that 'Picasso had no qualms about changing things during the painting process.' 'Our international team, consisting of scientists, a curator and a conservator, has begun to tease apart the complexity of La Misereuse accroupie, uncovering subtle changes made by Picasso as he worked toward his final vision,' he added. The research was jointly conducted by Northwestern University's Art Institute of Chicago Centre for Scientific Studies in the Arts, the AGO, which currently owns the painting, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Sandra Webster-Cook, AGO's senior conservator of paintings, said: 'We now are able to develop a chronology within the painting structure to tell a story about the artist's developing style and possible influences.' The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.

 

Picasso1Picasso 2

A Lighthouse in Oregon Has a Haunted History

Mother Nature Network - February 18

On a scenic basalt rock headland that juts almost a mile into the Pacific Ocean stands a beautiful white lighthouse. At 93 feet tall, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, located in Newport, Oregon, is the state's tallest lighthouse. It's been guiding ships for 145 years. First lit on August 20, 1873, the lighthouse has gained quite the storied history. And that includes two ghost stories.

One tale tells of a construction worker helping to build the tower who fell to his death. His body lodged between the double walls, never to be retrieved. He, and his ghost, have been sealed in ever since. The second story is that in the 1920s, Keeper Smith went into town and left Keeper Higgins in charge. But Higgins fell sick and asked Keeper Story to take over. When Smith saw from Newport that the lighthouse beacon wasn't lit, he rushed back to find Higgins dead and Story drunk. Story, overtaken with guilt, feared the ghost of Higgins and from then on would take his bulldog up the tower with him.

As with most ghost stories, the authenticity of these is highly doubted. The first story is unauthenticated, and the second story is impossible. As Lighthouse Friends clarifies: A great tale, but unfortunately not supported by the facts that Story and Higgins didn't serve at the same time at Yaquina Head and Higgins didn't meet his demise in the tower. Rather, Higgins left the Lighthouse Service before 1920 and returned to live with his mother in Portland. Second Assistant Keeper did die of a heart attack in the watchroom atop the tower in March 1921, but he too served before the arrival of Frank Story.

Fortunately, much more than ghosts can be seen at Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse stands on what is now the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, one of the most spectacular spots on the coast for viewing ocean wildlife such as sea birds and harbor seals at close range, as well as traipsing through tide pools at low tide. An interpretive center highlights information about these wild inhabitants and features exhibits on the historical details of the lighthouse.

 

lighthouse

Trump Wants to Put Amazon Out of Business

fortune.com - February 17

President Donald Trump "feels strongly" that the U.S. should impose a sales tax on purchases made over the Internet, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. Mnuchin, speaking at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, said he has spoken personally with Trump about the issue, and that the president "does feel strongly" that the tax should be applied. The prospect of an online sales tax has been a long-standing point of contention between Internet-based retailers and their brick-and-mortar rivals. Trump has previously gone after Internet giant Amazon.com Inc., saying last year that it does "great damage to tax paying retailers." Amazon began collecting sales taxes on purchases in all states that levy them earlier last year, despite an exemption that allows online retailers to avoid collecting them in places where they don't have a physical presence. But Amazon still avoids charging shoppers sales taxes when they buy from one of its third-party vendors, sales that make up about half the company's volume.

Untaxed third-party sales might provide an advantage over brick-and-mortar retail chains, which have their own robust online operations but have to collect sales tax on all purchases in states where they have physical presences. Many large chains have stores in almost every state. At the federal level, several bipartisan bills have been introduced to allow states to mandate collection of the taxes, with the most recent one re-introduced in 2017 and endorsed by Amazon. A previous bill passed the Senate.

Since a 1992 Supreme Court ruling established the precedent for exempting online retailers from sales taxes, various states have enacted "Amazon laws" to tax online sales the same way that brick-and-mortar sales are taxed. The Supreme Court ruling said states couldn't require out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes from consumers unless those retailers had a physical presence through branches, warehouses or employees, where the consumers were located.

 

Amazon and fuckhead

You Can Close the Book on Barnes & Noble

newyorkupstate.com - February 17

Barnes & Noble is laying off all full-time workers at stores nationwide, citing a new staffing policy, according to a filing by the New York-based company. The bookseller's 8-K report, filed with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday, says the company had adopted "a new labor model for its stores that has resulted in the elimination of certain store positions." Stores will now have the the ability to adjust staff to increase store productivity and streamline operations, the report said. The cuts are expected to be completed by Friday (Feb. 16), the filing said. Barnes & Noble did not provide a number of how many jobs may be cut or at what locations. The move means the company will incur a charge of about $11 million in its fiscal third quarter for severance costs and related expenses, the filing says. The company expects to save $40 million annually due to the new staff policy, the filing said. The bookseller is facing increased competition from Amazon and Walmart, according to a report by CNBC. Workers discovered they didn't have jobs when they reported to work Monday, according to CNBC.

 

Barnes & Noble

Google Made a Change Friday That's Going to Piss Off Everyone

The Verge - February 17

Google made a change to image search Friday that sounds small but will have a big impact: it's removing the "view image" button that appeared when you clicked on a picture, which allowed you to open the image alone. The button was extremely useful for users, since when you're searching for a picture, there's a very good chance that you want to take it and use it for something. Now, you'll have to take additional steps to save an image.

The change is essentially meant to frustrate users. Google has long been under fire from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures, and the removal of the view image button is one of many changes being made in response. A deal to show copyright information and improve attribution of Getty photos was announced last week and included these changes. "Today we're launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the webpages they're on."

The intention seems to be either stopping people from taking an image altogether or driving them through to the website where the image is found, so that the website can serve ads and get revenue and so people are more likely to see any associated copyright information. That's great news for publishers, but it's an annoying additional step for someone trying to find a picture. Now you'll have to wait for a website to load and then scroll through it to find the image. Websites sometimes disable the ability to right click, too, which would make it even harder for someone to grab a photo they're looking for.

 

Google

Apple Employees Are Having Problems with Windows

bloomberg.com - February 17

The centerpiece of Apple Inc.'s new headquarters is a massive, ring-shaped office overflowing with panes of glass, a testament to the company's famed design-obsessed aesthetic. There's been one hiccup since it opened last year: Apple employees keep smacking into the glass. Surrounding the building, located in Cupertino, California, are 45-foot tall curved panels of safety glass. Inside are work spaces, dubbed "pods," also made with a lot of glass. Apple staff are often glued to the iPhones they helped popularize. That's resulted in repeated cases of distracted employees walking into the panes, according to people familiar with the incidents. Some staff started to stick Post-It notes on the glass doors to mark their presence. However, the notes were removed because they detracted from the building's design, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing anything related to Apple. Another person familiar with the situation said there are other markings to identify the glass. 

Apple's latest campus has been lauded as an architectural marvel. The building, crafted by famed architect Norman Foster, immortalized a vision that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had years earlier. In 2011, Jobs reportedly described the building "a little like a spaceship landed." Jobs has been credited for coming up with the glass pods, designed to mix solo office areas with more social spaces. 

The building is designed to house some 13,000 employees. Wired magazine, first to pay a visit at its opening last year, described the structure as a "statement of openness, of free movement," in contrast to Apple's typically insular culture. "While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that's not the achievement," Jony Ive, Apple's design chief, told the magazine in May. "The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk."

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. It's not clear how many incidents there have been. A Silicon Valley-based spokeswoman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration referred questions about Apple's workplace safety record to the government agency's website. A search on the site based on Apple's name in California found no reports of injuries at the company's new campus. 

 

Apple windows

Book About Eleanor Roosevelt's Love Affair, to Hit TV

deadline.com - February 16

Michael Lombardo has optioned bestselling author Amy Bloom's just-published White Houses novel through his Buster Productions to develop for television, with Katie Couric on board to produce with him and Emmy winner Jane Anderson (Olive Kitteridge) attached to direct. White Houses, published by Penguin Random House on February 13, 2018 to strong reviews,incorporates fictional and nonfictional elements to tell the story of the love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok. Bloom will pen the adaptation of her book, envisioned as a multi-hour mini-series/limited series, with Anderson set to direct. Bloom (pictured) has been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She also penned novels Lucky Us (2014), Away (2007) and Love Invents Us (1997).

Lombardo and Anderson previously worked together on the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge while he was the network's president of programming. Anderson has been nominated for seven Primetime Emmys, winning three, two of them for Olive Kitteridge (outstanding writing for a limited series and outstanding limited series). The third was for The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom miniseries.

 

Amy Bloom

Jimmy Kimmel Blasts Trump

deadline.com - February 16

Jimmy Kimmel took careful aim at President Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Marco Rubio and blasted them for their usual non-response to the latest school mass shooting. "Another very sad day in America. Another senseless shooting," Kimmel said at the top of his Thursday late-night show. "This time at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman, a former student, opened fire yesterday," killing 17 and wounding more than a dozen. President Trump weighed in on the tragic events this morning from the White House; Kimmel played a clip:

Teleprompter Trump: "We are all joined together as one American family and your suffering is our burden also. No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school." "Agreed," responded Kimmel.

Teleprompter Trump: "No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning." "Agreed," Kimmel said again.

Kimmel's advice to Trump:  "Tell your buddies in Congress, tell Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, all the family men who care so much about their communities, that what we need are laws. Real laws that do everything possible to keep assault rifles out of the hands of people who are going to shoot our kids." "Go on TV and tell them to do that. That is a perfect example of that common sense you told us you were going to bring to the White House.  It's time to bring it," Kimmel continued. "Tell these Congressmen and lobbyists who infest that swamp you said you were going to drain, force these allegedly Christian men and women who stuff their pockets with money from the NRA, year after year after year, to do something. Now. Not later."

Kimmel warned Trump & Buddies against trotting out their "It's too soon to be talking about it" gag, though Rubio, for instance, already has done so. "Because you guys said that after Las Vegas. You said it after Sandy Hook. You say that after every one of these eight now-fatal school shootings we've had in the United States this year," Kimmel blasted. Worse than doing nothing, "One of your very first acts as President, Mr. Trump, was to actually roll back the regulations that were designed to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill," Kimmel said, continuing to clobber POTUS. "And it is amazing to me that if one illegal immigrant causes a car accident, we've got to build a wall. Why are you looking for solutions to that problem and not this one?" Kimmel asked. Kimmel finally agreed to let Teleprompter Trump finish his thought:

Teleprompter Trump: "To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain." What we need, Kimmel told TT, is for a teenager to not be able to buy an AR-15. "Somewhere along the line, these guys forgot they work for us. Not the NRA - us," Kimmel told his audience, of Trump, Ryan, Rubio, and McConnell. "And this time, we aren't going to allow you to bow your heads in prayer for two weeks until you get an 'all clear' and we move onto the next thing," Kimmel warned, ferociously. "We are going to make sure you do something this time." Urging viewers to visit website everytown.org, Kimmel also wanted them to write their representatives and demand action. And, if they don't listen, "vote them out of office," he suggested. "Whatever you do, do something," Kimmel told his audience. "Because I, for one, am very, very, very, very tired of this."

 

fuckhead

Today's Apple FAIL -- iMessages

Engadget - February 16

Every so often, a Mac or iOS bug works its way into the wild that'll crash your phone or computer with a single character sent via iMessage. The latest iteration of such a bug arrived Wednesday night, affecting iOS, Macs and even the Apple Watch, but fortunately Apple is already working on a fix. As reported by The Verge and confirmed by Apple, a fix for iOS is on the way. It'll arrive sooner than the upcoming iOS 11.3 update. All we know so far is that the bug fix update will be available "soon," whereas iOS 11.3 wasn't expected to arrive until the spring. Unfortunately, there's no word about a corresponding fix for the Mac or Apple Watch yet. iOS 11.3 is expected to be more extensive than most mid-year updates, with new Animoji, battery health monitoring features, Face ID for family account purchases and more. But before that, users should see this bug fix, probably in the next week or so. Going forward, iOS 12 is expected to help iron out the many issues that have cropped up in Apple's mobile software recently. It may come at the loss of some new features, but that'll probably be worth it if Apple can avoid users getting stuck with crashing phones every few months.

 

iMessages

Steve Jobs Breaks Out of His Grave

The Verge - February 15

Apple's HomePod is a great sounding but ideologically flawed speaker, and it turns out there's another major problem with the smart speaker aside from its lack of support for Spotify. Apparently the silicone base of the HomePod can damage wooden furniture, with multiple outlets (including Wirecutter and Pocket Lint) reporting that leaving the speaker on top of wooden surfaces can cause a white ring to form. Apple has confirmed the issue to Wirecutter, stating that "the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface," with the company also recommending that users "try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer's suggested oiling method" if the white rings don't fade. Given that HomePods aren't meant to be put on a soft surface (the tweeters fire down, so putting it on cloth messes with the reflectivity of the sound), it's not the sort of problem you can solve by just putting down a cloth underneath it, either.

Congratulations to everyone on their beautiful HomePods and sorry it secretes a deadly acid that destroys your furniture -- Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) February 14, 2018

Apple has also updated its official support page for the HomePod, explaining that "It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces." According to the support page, the marks are apparently caused by "oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface." In addition to the previous stated advice about hoping the marks go away or cleaning the surface, Apple also said for customers who are concerned about the issue, "We recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface."

 

Home Pod

NPR's 'On Point' Host Fired

deadline.com - February 15

Tom Ashbrook, the longtime host of NPR's syndicated radio show On Point, has been fired by Boston station WBUR-FM. An internal review by Boston University, the station's operator, confirmed claims made late last year that he had created an abusive work environment. Ashbrook, who has hosted the daily two-hour morning news and analysis program for 16 years, had been on leave since the allegations emerged in December.

The university said it had conducted two separate reviews after allegations were made by 11 former staffers claiming Ashbrook "created a work environment that included verbal assaults, intimidating actions, consistent bullying, and unwanted touching." A second probe, conducted by a law firm, determined that the alleged unwelcome conduct was not sexual in nature, and was not sexual harassment under BU's Title IX polices.

"We were struck by the common themes that appeared in both reports," Gary Nicksa, BU senior vice president for operations, told the university's BUToday.com. "On Point employees expressed enormous pride in the program and they recognized that along with everyone else, Mr. Ashbrook was under a great deal of pressure to make sure that the two-hour daily program was perfect. But the employees also described ways in which Mr. Ashbrook consistently overstepped reasonable lines and created a dysfunctional workplace in the process." Ashbrook responded in a statement on WBUR's site, saying he was "deeply disappointed by this decision, which I believe is profoundly unfair both to me and the listeners who are been such a part of On Point." The show has more than 2 million listeners on more than 290 National Public Radio stations nationwide. WBUR said the staff will continue to produce the show with fill-in hosts.

 

Ashbrook

This Bride Mannequin is a Fully-Edible Cake

Oddity Central - February 14

Meet Lulwa, also known as the 'Million Dollar Bride', a 120 kilogram-wedding cake shaped like a life-size Arabian bride. "She" was created by Debbie Wingham, 'the world's most expensive designer', and showcased at the 2018 Dubai Bride Show, in the UAE. Wingham is the creator of some of the most expensive objects of desire in history, including a $16 million shoe, a $4.8 million black diamond dress, and the world's most expensive wedding cake which was valued at a staggering $67 million. With an estimated value of "only" $1 million, the designer's latest work, the Million Dollar Bride cake was one of her most affordable projects yet. But what the cake lacked in financial value, it certainly made up in style and realism.

Lulwa, Arabic for 'pearls', was modelled on a traditional Arabic bride wearing a stylish dress made of fondant. The cake consisted of dozens of layers of sponge, 25 kilograms of chocolate, and around 50 kilograms of fondant. It weighed about 120 kilograms and had to be carried by no less than six people. The edible bride's features were sculpted out of modelling chocolate, and her dress was almost entirely made of lace-textured white fondant. Her impressive gown was decorated with 5,000 hand-cut fondant flowers and 10,000 edible pearls. Even though Wingham described her creation as fully edible, that most certainly does not include the five large diamonds dotting the dress and headgear of the bride. Each priced at $200,000, it was these diamonds that inspired the cake's "Million Dollar Bride" name.

 

Bill Paxton's Family Has Filed a Wrongful Death Suit

Page Six - February 14

Bill Paxton's family has filed a wrongful death suit against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the surgeon who operated on the actor before he passed away last year. According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by Page Six on Tuesday, the family claims Dr. Ali Khoynezhad performed an unnecessary procedure which resulted in the "Apollo 13" star's death 11 days later. "Bill Paxton and his family trusted the physicians and staff at this medical facility but instead Cedars-Sinai betrayed their trust," the family's attorney Bruce Broillet said in a statement. "The surgeon's actions resulted in this tragic and preventable death." Paxton died on Feb. 25, 2017, of complications from surgery for an aortic aneurysm that resulted in a stroke, according to his death certificate. He was 61 years old.

The family claims Khoynezhad and Cedars-Sinai "misrepresented and/or concealed information relating to the risks of surgery and care that would be provided and/or failed to adequately explain the proposed treatment or procedure," and also "failed to disclose that Khoynezhad was going to use a high risk and unconventional surgical approach with which he lacked experience and which was, based upon information and belief, beyond the scope of his privileges." Paxton subsequently suffered complications including excessive bleeding, cardiogenic shock, right ventricular dysfunction and a compromised right coronary artery, according to the lawsuit. According to the Paxton family attorneys, Khoynezhad left his position at Cedars-Sinai shortly after the star's death. His LinkedIn page lists his exit date as June 2017.

 

Bill Paxton

The "Ring of Fire" is Heating Up

dailymail.co.uk - February 14

A flurry of earthquakes has hit Earth's Pacific plate over the past week, renewing fears a massive tremor is on the way after four disasters jolted the region in January. Quakes have hit near Japan, Guam and Taiwan around the planet's so-called 'Ring of Fire', a horseshoe-shaped zone that is a hotbed for tectonic and volcanic activity. Some have suggested the frequency and proximity of the tremors are signs of a bigger earthquake to come. Experts have claimed events around the Ring of Fire are rarely linked and that in most cases adjacent disasters are a coincidence.

After a series of quakes hit the Ring of Fire last month, a 6.4 quake struck Taiwan's east coast on February 6, killing 17 people and injuring at least 180. A series of tremors reaching magnitude 5.7, 5.6, 5.4 and 4.9 shook the US island territory of Guam early on Tuesday. And since February 11, three earthquakes have struck Japan: A 4.8 magnitude quake 103 kilometres from Hachijo, a 4.5 magnitude quake 55 kilometres from Nemuro, and a 4.5 magnitude earthquake 103 kilometres from Tokunoshima. But scientists say such activity is normal for the Ring of Fire, adding that there is no chance of a 'domino effect' triggering a larger quake.

 

"Ring of Fire"

How Many Fingers Does President Obama Have?

dailymail.co.uk - February 14

Twitter users were left scratching their heads after it appeared the artist who painted former President Barack Obama's official portrait had given the former head of state a sixth finger. Kehinde Wiley, 41, was commissioned to paint the portrait that will hang in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. While the painting drew praise for its bright background and Obama's relaxed pose, some eagle-eye viewers drew attention to the former president's left hand. Many Twitter users said that where the pinky finger creased, it looked like it featured an extra finger tucked under his palm. Another critique was that the ex-commander-in-chief's hands seemed way too large, almost as long as his forearms and twice as big as his head. Twitter users quickly flocked to social media to ask others the question puzzling them all. 'What's extra weird: Obama has an extra finger growing beneath his pinky on his left hand,' one user tweeted. 'Serious Question, why does Obama have the appearance of a 6th finger?? Mistake? Or something else??' another one wrote. One user commented: 'Why does Obama have an extra finger tucked behind his others?'

 

Obama

Asteroid Appears and it's Looking for Whales

Mother Nature Network - February 13

The first known asteroid from interstellar space has been observed and measured, and the object is exceptionally weird, according to the European Southern Observatory. The unique rock was first spotted when the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii picked up a faint point of light moving across the night sky. Measurements of the object's trajectory quickly made it obvious that it couldn't possibly be from our solar system; this was an interstellar asteroid, a momentary visitor to our neighborhood that had likely been wandering around alone in space for billions of years.

Not only is this asteroid the first-known interstellar object discovered to pass through our solar system, but its shape and appearance seems to defy all expectations. It's dark reddish in color and appears highly elongated, even cigar-shaped. In fact, its shape harkens back to the movie "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," in which Capt. Kirk and crew head back to Earth only to discover that a nefarious cigar-shaped object has entered the solar system, broadcasting the sounds of humpback whales, and is threatening to destroy the planet. Thankfully, this object isn't quite so talkative and hostile, and already looks to be rapidly departing the solar system. Scientists have named it 'Oumuamua. ("Ou" means "reach out for," and "mua," with the emphasis on the second "mua," means 'first, in advance of', reflecting the nature of the object as a "scout" or "messenger" from the past.)

"We had to act quickly," explained team member Olivier Hainaut from European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, about discovering the object's rapid escape trajectory. "'Oumuamua had already passed its closest point to the Sun and was heading back into interstellar space." Researchers surmised that 'Oumuamua's dark, red color is indicative of a high metal content that has been irradiated from cosmic rays over the course of millions of years. Since the object has probably been wandering the Milky Way unattached to any solar system for so long, its origin is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to pinpoint. (Artist's impression below)

 

asteroid

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Going Straight to Hell

deadline.com - February 13

"I don't think the President supporting due process for any allegation is not tone deaf," an uncomfortable White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday in an arduous briefing before the media that centered almost entirely on accusations of domestic violence against now-former aides and remarks Donald Trump has made in recent days in the latest fallout from the latest bomb to go off in the Trump administration. "I think it is allowing things to be investigated, and a mere allegation not being the determining factor. He's not taking a side one way or the other on a specific issue here," Sanders added in her boss' defense as CNN's Jim Acosta tried to get in a follow-up question. "As I just said, I'm not going to go beyond that, that's where we are right now," Sander repeated in various forms as she was questioned again and again Monday about why Trump has not come out and condemned domestic violence and has seemed supportive of his ex-aides accused of such acts. "I'm his spokesperson and I'm telling you," she also repeated over and over.

Of course, as his main spokesperson was starting to try to pull the White House out of its latest quicksand incident, POTUS himself was on social media reaching out to the base he always turns to in times of trouble: The journey to #MAGA began @CPAC 2011 and the opportunity to reconnect with friends and supporters is something I look forward to every year. See you at #CPAC2018! -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2018. Which means though Trump and his administration wanted to talk about his 2019 budget proposal and infrastructure plans on another Monday reset, it instead was another face-plant into the exorbitant, not so friendly fire his White House it excels at in the worst way. It's a trait made all the more apparent once again in stark contrast to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, who Monday were gracefully back in the public spotlight for the unveiling of their National Portrait Gallery depictions.

In case anyone missed the point of comparison, today's press briefing made crystal that grace is not something the Trumpsters do well, if at all. Besides a congrats to Team USA at the Winter Olympics, a mild sputter of geniality was shown when an obviously sarcastic but deadpan Sanders opened her briefing with, "It's great to be back with you guys, glad I picked a slow time to be gone." Otherwise, it was a mournful and repetitious event.

"We learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening and within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced," Sanders read to the media near the top of the briefing. "We announced a transition was going to happen within hours, it did," she added. "The President and the entire administration take domestic violence very seriously." At one point, trying to revert to the White House's favorite pose of making the media the story, Sanders began attacking the journos for publishing and posting leaked information when questioned about how Porter could have remained in his sensitive position so long amid the FBI's security concerns. "We take every precaution possible to protect classified information and certainly to protect national security, it is the President's No. 1 priority protect the citizens of this country." That tactic didn't have much impact in the White House briefing room. Starting almost half an hour after the reschedule start, Monday's White House press briefing lasted barely 20 minutes before Sanders beat a retreat into the bowels of the Executive Mansion at 4:08 PM ET.

 

Sanders

Country Singer Daryle Singletary Dead at 46

legacy.com - February 13

Country singer Daryle Singletary, who sang songs like "I Let Her Lie" and "Too Much Fun," has died. A publicist says Singletary died at his home in Lebanon, Tennessee on Monday (February 12) at 46. The cause of death is pending. Some of his other songs include "Amen Kind of Love" and "The Note." He sang with George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and more. Singletary was born in Cairo, Georgia and was among a wave of country traditionalists in the late 1990s.

 

Singletary

 

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