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Finland unveils its new Tom of Finland emoji character
01:31 pm



Last year Finland became the first country to produce its own set of national emojis; last week the country enxpanded its collection from 49 to 56, and one of the new additions represents legendary gay icon Tom of Finland.

Keeping in the spirit of emojis, Finland’s full collection of emojis is quite whimsical. There are icons dedicated to “Headbanger,” “Fashionista Finns,” and “Four seasons of BBQ,” for instance.

The images of Touko Laaksonen, published from the 1950s to the 1980s under the catchy pseudonym Tom of Finland, consisted largely of fantastically muscular sailors, bulging cops, and lascivious leather enthusiasts, and rapidly became a key part of the gay aesthetic of the 20th century and beyond.

An article on This is Finland’s website states:

[Laaksonen’s artworks] made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to the way sexual minorities perceive themselves. Laaksonen is often considered Finland’s most famous artist internationally. His work has adorned postage stamps–the most popular stamp set in the history of the Finnish Postal Service–and now it has also become an emoji. The emoji recognises the impact and importance of Tom of Finland’s art, and appears just before same-sex marriage officially becomes legal in Finland (as of March 1, 2017).

Here’s what the emoji looks like:

It’s clear that whatever discrimination and abuse Laaksonen may have experienced in his lifetime, Finland has recently made a concerted effort to embrace its country’s most famous artist. As mentioned, three years ago the country released a line of Tom of Finland postage stamps, sparking international headlines. Now you can find an emoji of his likeness on the country’s main website.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hacker forces 150,000 printers to print images of robots
12:59 pm



Over the course of the past week, over 150,000 printers suddenly became active without their owners’ knowledge and began printing strange messages (among them “YOUR PRINTER HAS BEEN PWND’D”) as well as images of robots.

The stunt was instigated by a hacker going by the name “stackoverflowin.” The purpose of the mass hack was benign, a way of telling under-informed users that their printers are vulnerable to attack and that it might be time to take steps to prevent that. The vulnerability takes the form of leaving port 9100 open to external connections.

Some of the messages referenced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s much-publicized hacks on U.S. political figures during the 2016 election. Among them were the following:

stackoverflowin has returned to his glory, your printer is part of a botnet, the god has returned, everyone likes a meme, fix your bullsh*t.


stackoverflowin the hacker god has returned, your printer is part of a flaming botnet, operating on putin’s forehead utilising BTI’s (break the internet) complete infrastructure.


stackoverflowin/stack the almighty, hacker god has returned to his throne, as the greatest memegod. Your printer is part of a flaming botnet.

As stated in the messages, stackoverflowin used a “flaming botnet,” meaning a form of hack that forces a computer to forward transmissions to another computer without the owner’s knowledge.

Last week Jens Müller, Juraj Somorovsky, and Vladislav Mladenov went public with an advisory message about printers’ vulnerability to hacks, listing the many models that were affected. It seems that virtually all well-known printer brands are vulnerable, including HP, Epson, Canon, Afico, Konica Minolta, Brother, Samsung, and Oki.

More after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Take a chilling look inside the Glore Psychiatric Museum
01:28 pm

The wrong side of history


A mannequin peering out of a ‘Lunatic Box’ on display at the Glore Psychiatric Museum in Saint Joseph, Missouri.
In 1874 the state of Missouri opened the “State Hospital for the Insane #2” more commonly referred to as the “Lunatic Asylum #2.” The asylum prided itself as the kind of institution that took on the “noble work” of “reviving hope in the human heart and dispelling the portentous clouds that penetrate the intellects of minds diseased.” While this claim does sound noble, the methods that were used to “penetrate” the minds of the patients who found themselves in one of the institution’s 25 beds were often medieval at best. At their worst the treatments administered by the staff were variations of what would be considered torture and were often experimental in nature—usually causing more harm than good.

The asylum would fill all of its available beds. In 1899 the institution changed its name to the far more friendly sounding St. Joseph State Hospital. Five decades later over 3,000 patients had passed through the hospital including dangerous criminals who had long taken leave of their mental faculties. These criminally insane people walked the halls alongside of residents who were struggling with depression. The hospital would continue to operate for 127 years. In 1967 a long-time employee of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, George Glore opened a museum in one of St. Joseph’s many wards. Glore’s on-site museum housed various mental health related artifacts that had been used over the centuries to treat patients with mental health problems, such as the horrific sounding “Lunatic Box” which was routinely used to treat patients that could not be easily controlled and were prone to act out, perhaps violently. The box, which strongly resembled a fucking coffin of all things, would house the patient in complete darkness in a standing position for hours. Patients were not even allowed to leave the box to go to the bathroom, leaving them to do their business in the box until a member of the staff felt that they had reached the appropriate level of zen.

In 1997 what is now known as the Glore Psychiatric Museum moved to a large, three-story building in order to provide enough room for its vast array of oddities. Below you’ll find many images from exhibits on display at the Glore including some haunting artwork done by patients who resided at St. Joseph’s during its century-plus existence. If you’re planning on visiting Saint Joseph, Missouri anytime soon the museum is open Monday to Sunday and kids get in FREE. Yikes.

A long shot of the ‘Lunatic Box’ which was used during the 18th and 19th century.

A display containing 110,000 cigarette boxes that were collected by a resident of the St. Joseph State Hospital.
More from the Glore after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Honey, The Smartphone Ate the Kids: Comic yet chilling illustrations of our social media world
09:25 am



Well, we knew this was going to happen. We were warned often enough but did we listen? Did we heed the warning given out in episodes of The Outer Limits, Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, innumerable B-movies and books from H. G. Wells to Stephen King? No, we thought we knew better. We were having way too much fun to even think about what we may be mortgaging for getting all those likes on Facebook and all those followers on Instagram and Twitter. We were only in it for the LOLz.

Then one day, our life’s all used up and we’re part of the machine. It’s no fun anymore but still we can’t help checking our feed, tweeting our food and liking every fucking picture of a grumpy-looking cat. WE are the pod people sci-fi warned us about! Like OMG!

Artist Kristian Jones produces neat illustrations of children and families whose lives have been taken over by the technology they use. His figures look like the characters once found in children’s stories who are now transported to a strange, surreal science-fiction land where technology snoops and insidiously steals away their very life force.

Jones is a self-taught artist based in Birmingham, England. His work which has been featured in galleries, magazines, posters and a clothing range “depicts our relationship with the modern world”: a surreal and twisted form to highlight the problems with modern day living, preying on the innocence of childhood imagination, surreal worlds and fictional creatures.

Jones’ illustrations are funny and chilling. We recognize his point but know the same was once said about television and radio, or cinema and leisure time—where the Devil was always making work for idle hands. Technology is neither good nor bad—it’s all about us and how we use it. Jones is wise to this too and has in one picture Old Nick leading a group of idle carefree kids on a merry dance to Hell, while in another a boy peers into his tablet just like Narcissus who was smitten with his own reflection.

He is also part of the Brothers of the Stripe collective of illustrators and graphic designers. More of Kristian Jones’ work can be seen and purchased here.
More of Kristian Jones’ work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The sexy ladies of Yugoslavian computer magazines
09:19 am



“Ignore the sex slave tumbling out of my monitor, it is a standard feature with this brand of personal computer…..”

The Serbian word računari means “computers”; thus Računari was the natural name for a long-running periodical in the Balkans catering to software and hardware enthusiasts in the burgeoning age of the “personal computer.”

It’s hard to remember now, but while Apple was getting all the critical plaudits, most workplaces considered their devices too esoteric and expensive for scaled use—back then it was Windows and IBM clones that got all the love and money, and most of the programmers designed their offerings for the MS-DOS market. Nearly forgotten today, names like WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Visual Basic once constituted core components of the consumer computing landscape, and they all were featured prominently in Računari. That’s why you won’t see much attention paid to Apple products in these images—they had to weather the tough decade of the 1990s before resurfacing with the iMac and beyond.

It’s often been observed that Sarajevo went from being a proud and prosperous Olympic host city to one of the most hellish places on earth in the short span of time between 1984 and 1994. The end of the Cold War around 1990 brought unimaginable horrors to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia, and it’s worth noting that Računari, which started in 1984, never went out of print during all of that tumult, persisting through to the late 1990s. So it is that these otherwise mirthful images have a darker story to tell, of consumers seeking out computing products during a bloody civil war and the advertisers and retailers wishing to serve them. 

The editors of Računari surely were well aware that their product sector was a little on the dry side, so they spiced up most every cover with a sexy lady draped over this or that piece of mechanized future landfill. As you’ll see, some of the images get a little bizarre, but hey, all the better to get those copies moving off of the newsstand and into your living room, right?

“I am the Windows 3.1 go-go girl…..”

“We hope this bizarre bondage scene incentivizes you to purchase WordPerfect for Windows.”
More fun with Balkan computer cheesecake after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
New human organ discovered by scientists
02:23 pm



Leonardo da Vinci described it, but it took until a few years ago for scientists to begin to take seriously the possibility of an organ in the abdomen that had not previously been classified as one—just a couple months ago, two biologists have declared it to be an organ according to the prevailing standards of anatomy, and it looks like their claim will likely stick.

The new organ is called the mesentery, which is Latin for “in the middle of the intestines”; unsurprisingly, it can be found in the middle of our intestines. Until around 2012 it was thought to be a series of separate structures keeping the intestines attached to the abdominal wall, rather like a series of support girders.

In the November 2016 issue of The Lancet, Calvin Coffey and Peter O’Leary from the University of Limerick published “The Mesentery: Structure, Function, and Role in Disease,” which purported to examine “distinctive anatomical and functional features” that “justify designation of the mesentery as an organ.”

The classical anatomical description of the mesocolon is credited to British surgeon Sir Frederick Treves, surgeon to Queen Victoria, in 1885, three years before he became the first man to perform an appendectomy in England. If that name is familiar to you, it might be because he was featured as a character in Bernard Pomerance’s 1977 play The Elephant Man as well as the 1980 movie directed by David Lynch (Anthony Hopkins played Treves in the movie).

Coffey and O’Leary used complex microscopy work to confirm that the relevant structures of the mesocolon are in fact interconnected, in other words part of a single overall structure. The mesentery has now been added to the famous Gray’s Anatomy textbook and described in this new paper.

In a statement, Coffey asserted that “in the paper, which has been peer reviewed and assessed, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date.”

A decade ago or so, laypersons the world over became outraged at the subtraction of Pluto from our solar system on the grounds that it was too small to be counted as a planet. One hopes that those same people will take solace in the addition of an organ to our bodily systems.

via IFL Science!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Get ready for Amazon’s creepy and marvelous floating warehouses of the sky
09:18 am



As we churn into the bracing new era of Trump and Brexit, one of the big themes to look out for is automated process replacing jobs that used to be done by humans. This has already begun, of course, but it looks like the next few years are going to be pivotal ones in the coming of a future leisure-oriented paradise or our inevitable domination under the control of Skynet, depending on how you look at it.

It is also becoming clear that Amazon is going to be a major driver of these processes. Amazon is known to be aggressive about narrowing the time gap between product order and product delivery, including mechanisms such as drones delivering products directly to Amazon Prime users’ doors.

In line with that, Amazon has been awarded a patent for warehouses that float in the sky (as “dirigibles”) and dispense unmanned drones carrying items directly to users. This is simultaneously a great development for Amazon’s many users, who will soon be able to expect instant gratification of its materialistic desires, and an ominous portent of a world without employment for many of its human beings.

As Arjun Kharpal of CNBC phrased it, the patent is for “a giant flying warehouse that acts as a launchpad for drones to deliver items within minutes.” The warehouses could potentially hover at an altitude of 42,000 feet (this is similar to the altitude that planes usually fly), although they could also be positioned much lower, under certain circumstances.

The patent filing was awarded in April of this year but only circulated recently. Just a couple of weeks ago Amazon successfully completed its first delivery by drone to a paying customer in the U.K.

U.S. Patent 9,305,280 bears the title “Airborne Fulfillment Center Utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Item Delivery.” In it a process is described of floating warehouses in the sky, called “aerial fulfillment centers” or AFCs, dispensing potentially many thousands of delivery drones, or “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs), to its users. That Amazon’s depiction of this system involves blimps, zeppelins, or dirigibles, however you wish to call them, may bring to mind certain texts or utterances of Jules Verne or C. Montgomery Burns.

Amazon’s patent aggressively imagines a world in which “items may be delivered within minutes of placing an order,” thus providing (in a phrase Amazon uses un-ironically that is also pretty much the bumper-sticker summation of capitalism writ large) “near instant gratification.” The ability to have warehouses floating around in the sky would also expand Amazon’s ability to deliver “perishable items or even prepared meals.” In other words, Amazon is positioning itself to be in direct competition with Domino’s and Uber Eats.

The background section of the patent describes our current system of retail delivery, using the soon-to-be-archaic method of a “human controlled truck, bicycle, cart, etc.” delivering items from a “ground-based building,” culminating in a familiar scene in which “a human may hand the item to a recipient, place the item on the user’s porch, store the item in a post office box, etc.” It is rather chilling and (almost?) hilarious how easy it is to make our everyday lives sound like a bizarre scene out of sci-fi novel.

“An unmanned aerial vehicle delivery process that utilizes an airborne fulfillment center”
Later on, the patent continues: “An airship, or dirigible, is a type of aerostat or lighter-than-air aircraft which can navigate through the air under its own power. ... An AFC may be positioned at an altitude above a metropolitan area and be designed to maintain an inventory of items that may be purchased by a user and delivered to the user by a UAV that is deployed from the AFC.”

A few paragraphs later, the patent gets positively feverish about the many benefits the system of airborne warehouses will provide:

The use of an AFC and shuttles ... provides [a] benefit in that the AFC can remain airborne for extended periods of time. In addition, because the AFC is airborne, it is not limited to a fixed location like a traditional ground based materials handling facility. In contrast, it can navigate to different areas depending on a variety of factors, such as weather, expected demand, and/or actual demand.

An AFC may navigate to an area based on various positioning factors. For example, a temporal event (e.g., a football game) may be expected to produce a demand for certain types of items (e.g., sporting paraphernalia, food products, etc.). In advance of the event, the items may be delivered to the AFC in a quantity sufficient to satisfy the expected demand and the AFC may navigate to a position such that the UAVs deployed from the AFC can safely navigate to the location of the event and deliver the items, thereby satisfying the demand. In some implementations, the AFC may navigate to a lower altitude and provide advertising for the temporal event or for other occasions (e.g., product announcements, product releases, sales).

It was widely reported earlier this year that the advent of automated trucking (obviously, a related industry) could easily result in the disappearance of millions of U.S. jobs in a relatively short time. (Truck driver is the #1 occupation in all 50 states.) As a society we are still happy to demonize government “handouts” to the jobless, and we just are not prepared for this shit. It seems inevitable that some form of universal basic income will be necessary sooner than anyone is expecting.
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Website plays William S Burroughs reading random snippets from ‘Naked Lunch’ every time you refresh
08:44 pm



It’s axiomatic that William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch is one of the landmark accomplishments of 20th-century American literature. All the more striking its author’s commitment to stochasticity: He insisted that its 25 chapters could be read in any order. (A later Burroughs novel Dead Fingers Talk from 1963 took random bits from Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded and combined them into a new work with a semi-coherent plot.)

Possibly related was Burroughs’ disavowal of any fixed memory of composing the work. In his 1960 preface to the book, titled “Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness,” Burroughs wrote that “I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch.”

In a most Burroughs-ian gesture, this year a “single-serving” website calling itself 23Skidoo came into being, with the promise of supplying readers with “23 random paragraphs from Naked Lunch” every time the refresh button is activated. The reader is invited to take in the newly forged juxtapositions while the inimitably phlegmatic voice of Burroughs reads from the work.

Curiously, in keeping with the general air of experimental mindfuckery, the Burroughs audio never matches the passages reproduced on the page, at least as far as I could discern. I believe that there does not exist any recording of the full novel read aloud in Burroughs’ voice—sometime during the 1990s, Hal Willner and James Grauerholz persuaded Burroughs to record portions of the book. So that might explain the discrepancy—the visual texts draw from the entire novel, but there are limitations as to how much of the book can be presented in Burroughs’ voice, so no attempt was made to match them up.

At the top of the page one sees the instruction “the ticket explodes again each time you load the page.”

At any rate, a fun, bracing project, perfect for distracting oneself from the holiday bullshit, or indeed any form of bullshit. Enjoy.

via {feuilleton}

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
I was a 15-year-old Billy Corgan impersonator
02:53 pm



Before the “World Wide Web” became a thing and only AOL and CompuServe existed for games and chat rooms, Sierra On-line (the software company responsible for such classic adventure games as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry) developed a highly imaginative and groundbreaking environment known as The ImagiNation Network. Initially launched on May 6th, 1991 as “The Sierra Network,” this friendly, graphics-heavy interface was so simple, advertising promised that even your grandmother would find it easy to “play games, make friends and have fun.” As a teenage computer geek I was instantly hooked after being introduced by my friend Brad Warner and spent hundreds of hours using the service: running up my parents credit card bill, holding up my families landline for several hours at a time, and experimenting with fake profiles when the internet was so new that you could effortlessly fool just about anybody.
Before entering ImagiNation you’d use the FaceMaker to create your appearance choosing your skin color, facial features, glasses, clothes, and hairstyle. There were enough variables built in to create over 84 million unique personas. Then you’d walk through the virtual gates and let the fun begin: Red Baron, Mini Golf, Paintball, or Boogers in SierraLand. Gambling at the casino and exchanging lewd late night talk in LarryLand (for adults only), or slaying dragons with strangers in MedievaLand. Before anybody had heard of an email address there was a post office where you could purchase “Sierra Stamps” and send messages to other users.

Through a alternative music chatroom, I befriended a cool 13-year-old Korean girl from Houston named Judy Suh who had purple hair and owned an electric guitar. We both had tickets to see the Smashing Pumpkins headline Lollapalooza ‘94 in our respective cities that summer and agreed to share our photos from the concert. Technology had yet to find a way to share photos on the internet so we made photocopies at Kinko’s and snail mailed them to each other.

In 1995 Judy suddenly disappeared from the ImagiNation Network without a trace, a few weeks later I found out that her parents banned her from using the service after running up their credit card bill. At that time the pricing structure was incredibly expensive: $9.95 per month for only 4 hours plus $3.50 for each additional hour, or $120 a month for unlimited time. Shortly after that my parents also banned me from the service because I was using their dial-up modem and holding up our six person household landline. Friends and family members complained that they received a busy signal over and over for hours and were furious when they couldn’t get through.
Heartbroken, and not yet ready to give up my addiction I took to desperate measures to get back on-line. I went over to Brad Warner’s house with a floppy disc, found the directory where his password file was stored and successfully copied it into the same directory on my computer enabling me to sign onto ImagiNation with Brad’s account. This illegal and back-stabbing act gave me so much confidence that soon I wanted to know what else I could get away with. I began secretly signing on late at night after my parents went to bed. Using the FaceMaker to create a new persona, I started posing as Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan. I had read every Alternative Press, SPIN, and Melody Maker interview that had been published up until that point and felt strongly that I knew enough about Billy Corgan that I could convince people that I was him. The April 1994 Rolling Stone cover story I purchased at Sam Goody proved to be a particularly detailed profile and helped me understand Billy’s troubled childhood and upbringing in a time before background information on celebrities was easily accessible on websites like Wikipedia. I was successful in fooling dozens of fans: answering questions from growing up in Glendale Heights, Illinois, to D’arcy Wretzky’s sisters photography on Smashing Pumpkins single covers, to dispelling rumors that I played the little brother on the TV show Small Wonder. After about a week I was called out for falsely claiming that the Mike Mills who played piano on the song “Soma” off the album Siamese Dream was not the same guy as the bassist from R.E.M. My cover was blown.

Soon after I was outed as an imposter by the ImagiNation community I received a call from Brad who wanted to know why there was a message from Chris Williams in his virtual Post Office box. I had forgotten that I reached out to Sierra On-Line founders Ken & Roberta Williams’ son Chris (also 15-years-old) on the network, totally not expecting him to reply. I confessed to Brad that I had stolen his password and I had been signing on under his account. That was the end of our friendship and the last time I ever used the service. In 1996 ImagiNation was purchased and then ultimately shut down forever by America Online. In 2007 there was a brief attempt to revive ImagiNation through reverse engineering and use of DOSBox, but there wasn’t enough interest in the emulator for it to take off. One fan on the “Return of Talking Time” message board, however, fondly remembered his experience on ImagiNation over 20 years later:

“I had a ridiculous experience with ImagiNation Network when I was 14. I was spending the night at my friend’s house, and I brought the free ImagiNation install disk with me. After his parents went to bed, we got his mom’s credit card from her purse and used it to create an account. (IIRC, you were given a certain number of free hours to try it out, but you had to provide credit card info to get started). We tooled around for a bit, and eventually ended up in one of the chat areas. Somehow or another we started chatting with a guy who had us 100% convinced that he was Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Seriously. We weren’t dumb kids, but holy crap does that sound profoundly moronic in hindsight. Anyhow, we stayed up all night talking to Billy C, and ended up surpassing our free trial. When the credit card bill came later that month, my friend had to fess up to his mom. She wasn’t buying the Billy Corgan story, and I was never allowed to spend the night at his house again.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Fake Nintendo movie tie-in games that would be super fun to play
02:08 pm



Video games in the late 1980s and early 1990s were dominated by the Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as NES. In addition to Donkey Kong, which morphed into the iconic and incredibly addictive Super Mario Bros. franchise, NES also had its share of satisfying movie tie-ins, including Batman, Back to the Future, Total Recall, The Karate Kid, and Home Alone. For a slightly later generation of gamers, the best reason to remember the James Bond movie GoldenEye from the Pierce Brosnan era was the top-notch Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Conan is best not mentioned at all, though…..

A few years back, the outstanding vintage video games blog VG Junk dedicated three posts to meticulously crafted and completely fictional “wouldn’t it have been great” NES title screens for movie and TV tie-in games that I for one would love to have played.

It’s amusing to contemplate NES games that are juuuust a bit too adult (or possibly WAY too adult) like A Clockwork Orange and Jacob’s Ladder and Videodrome, but I also dig the games where the only conceivable gameplay would consist of talking, à la making sarcastic remarks about Blueshammer in Ghost World or defending the virtues of “propane and propane accessories” in King of the Hill.

Some of the movies mentioned here actually did have console game tie-ins. For example VG Junk doesn’t think very much of the 1997 video game for the PC that Westwood Studios made for Blade Runner. In any case, these are super detailed and witty.

Feast your eyes below—and keep a careful eye on that They Live title screen….


More great title screens after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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