Following today's astonishing chase in Arizona in which two llamas led the entire city on an extended merry (and hilarious) chase, the Portland Mercury is pleased to announce our next big city-wide event...
THE PORTLAND MERCURY DOWNTOWN LLAMA DRAMA
Basically, it goes like this: We're renting 50 llamas. Each one will be fitted with a saddlebag emblazoned with our logo, and filled with cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Then we let them loose downtown, and you chase them, trying to get the beer. Meanwhile the llamas run around like crazy, making everyone chasing them look like assholes. THE MOTHERFUCKING END.
Naturally we have no intention of applying for a permit, however, we hope that the Portland Police Department will enter into the spirit of our event by cordoning off a large section of downtown so the llamas don't escape into the West Hills or (god forbid) make it across the bridges.
It is also important to note at this point that this plan is perfect, and what could possibly go wrong? (Feel free to answer that question in the comments.)
P.S. In less important news: Net neutrality.
There's some hope amid the latest grim report:
Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.
In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.
“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report.
We could not afford to lose the last decade, either. Or the one before that. Americans, on the whole, have been unconcerned about climate change since at least 1989, and show no real signs of getting more concerned. But, if political will is indeed "rising around the world," that is good.
Just over one-third of Americans worry "a great deal" about climate change, down one percent from 1989. That despite nearly every other climate change metric—temperatures, sea levels, carbon dioxide concentration, and major storms—continuing to steadily increase.
I'm not sure what would account for this, but concern about climate change did spike among Americans in April of 2000 and March of 2007. Then it returned to 25-years-ago levels. Theories?
The LA Times is one of the media organizatins leading the pack when it comes to making their own employees superfluous—because now they're using robots to write their breaking news stories. From the BBC:
The Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper to publish a story about an earthquake on Monday - thanks to a robot writer.
Journalist and programmer Ken Schwencke created an algorithm that automatically generates a short article when an earthquake occurs.
Mr Schwencke told Slate magazine that it took around three minutes for the story to appear online.
"Robo-journalism" is increasingly being used in newsrooms worldwide.
According to the story, the algorithm pulls the stats needed for the story from "trusted sources" (this time the US Geological Survey), plugs them into some pre-written text, and VOILA! They're first off the blocks with breaking news.
Does this make me nervous? HELL TO THE NO! Right after lunch I'm gonna walk down to the mall, and buy me one of these "robo-porters" (probably at the T-Mobile store?), stick it in my seat, and take the rest of my life OFF. Sayonara, suckers! (Hat tips to Blogtown consulting detective Graham.)
P.S. I'm happy to set up some "robo-commenters," too—then we could vacation together!
By 2029, computers will be able to understand our language, learn from experience and outsmart even the most intelligent humans, according to Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.
He also calls this idea "not radical anymore."
David Lieberman at Deadline points out one of the most noteworthy parts of Facebook's earnings call:
...CFO David Ebersam said the company had seen a drop in use among young teens. “Our best analysis on youth engagement in the U.S. reveals that usage of Facebook among U.S. teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users, specially among younger teens.”
Every stock analyst in the country is looking for concrete proof that teenagers are dropping Facebook in droves. That's generally been the quietly agreed-upon point at which Facebook loses its amorphous sense of "cool," and that's when the barrage of "Is Facebook Dying?" articles will start being published around the world. Lieberman says the above information has already done some small damage to Facebook's stock price, but I don't think this is enough to hurt Facebook in the long term. It is, however, a tiny taste of things to come.
In other news, it looks like almost half the site's daily users are accessing Facebook on mobile devices. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that deleting the Facebook app from your phone is a really simple, satisfying way to feel better about your life. Seriously, you don't need Facebook on your phone. I know quite a few people who've deleted the Facebook app from their phone (or even just removed it from their home screens) and they all say it's made their days better in tiny, significant ways.
Okay, so I just watched this video? And my PTSD from growing up in tornado alley Alabama just jumped into overdrive. This completely engrossing video was shot by a guy who witnessed the birth of the tornado that ravaged Oklahoma and took dozens of lives. At :50 you see it coming out of the sky, by 2:00 you're crapping your pants and by 3:00 your crap is crapping itself. Say what you will about the man who stuck around to shoot this, but you can't say he isn't brave. The man's son introduced this on Reddit thusly:
He was out that way for work today and just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He was worried it was going to come back at him and was searching for a way to scoot out it's way once he was able to gauge how insanely close it was to him. He hung in there, though. Unbelievable.
Unbelievable is an understatement.
In the wake of writing yet another earthquake story, I find myself once again more than a little annoyed by the surrender-to-the-fates, let-go-and-go-with-god attitude some readers seem to take toward preparing for the big earthquake expected to wreck the Northwest sometime in the next 50 to 100 years.
Here's my short answer to all this whiny nonsense: “Bitch, please. Grow the fuck up!”
My longer answer is hopefully more thoughtful.
Like the post’s title suggests, I’d like to share my flagrantly editorialized final thoughts before we’re all lulled into a false sense of security by the passage of time, and the general frenetic nature of our modern world, a world that has us constantly turning our heads this way and that as we try to take in the day’s barrage of distractions and novelties. And I'm pretty sure none of you will actually bother to take even basic steps toward preparing for a COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE AND LARGELY PREVENTABLE disaster. But as I hope my last story illustrated, the problem is only partially about what you as individuals do to prepare. It's way more about whether government officials and companies step up and start taking your well-being seriously. And let's face it, for that to happen, regular people like you will probably need to do the one thing that gets shit done in a democracy: get really loud and really angry and do it en masse.
When I write “preventable disaster,” I mean it. No, we can’t prevent our subduction zone from rupturing. But that’s not the point. The worst part about the earthquake won’t be the first four minutes of shaking it’s going to be everything that follows afterward.
Did you know I once applied for the Secret Service? (I was rejected for OH, so many obvious reasons.) HOWEVER! Now I don't feel so bad because I know who I was up against: SHAPE-SHIFTING ALIENS. According to this hilariously (totally serious, guys!) report, a "reptilian shape-shifting humanoid alien" was spotted working on President Obama's secret service detail during his 2012 APIAC speech. And he would've gotten away with it, too... if he hadn't accidentally shape-shifted during the speech! WHOOPSIE-DAISY! (Obama's gonna have his shape-shifting head for this!)
Obviously this is just another example of the Illuminati helping an alien race pull the strings of world power Jews 9/11 was an inside job. Also... FLUORIDE.
First of all, people need to stop "paloozaing" things. However! I will make an allowance in this one case for the upcoming film Rapturepalooza (due out in May), which stars my hopefully one day girlfriend Anna Kendrick, John Francis Daly, Craig Robinson and my hopefully one day boyfriend Rob Corddry. The world is coming to an end, which is like, such a super bummer for a group of teens, who are really put out by the whole thing. Bloody rain? AND a girlfriend-stealing, horny antichrist? Oh, c'mon!
From Yahoo News:
An asteroid half the size of a football field buzzed Earth in a historic flyby today (Feb. 15), barely missing our planet just hours after a much smaller object exploded above Russia, injuring perhaps 1,000 people.
The 150-foot-wide (45 meters) near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 cruised within 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) of Earth at 2:24 p.m. EST (1924 GMT) today, coming closer than many communications satellites circling our planet.
Okay, so I guess our plans for tonight are back on. Soooo... what do you want to do? I hear A Good Day to Die Hard is good.
As Denis mentioned in Good Morning News, Russia had some little visitors yesterday—meteorites that exploded over the Urals in Russia, damaging 300 buildings and injuring 900 people (mostly via broken glass). Here's an awesome news report from Russia Today in which the (fairly flippant) Brit host and his not-exactly-a-scientist-but-she's-cute "expert" reporter describe what happened and—here's the important part—show TONS of sweet video. And while I realize these meteorites were definitely trying to kill us, they're still kind of... beautiful? WATCH.
Maybe you're no longer worried about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse—but it could still happen! And if it does, you're gonna want to run straight to the Ace Hardware. And not just any Ace Hardware but the one featured in this 10 minute, award-winning documentary short that is currently a Sundance fave, "When the Zombies Come."
Actual, bored Ace Hardware employees dream up a incredibly intricate plan to ward off a zombie invasion and the results are pretty goddamn HILARIOUS. (Plus this mini-movie really pissed off the Ace Hardware executives who are trying to get the film eradicated from the universe. Good luck, jerks!) WATCH IT!
OKAY. You've had more than enough time to think about this... and now it's time to answer this question once and for all.
UPDATE: Apparently 2012 didn't want to be voted on, because my poll broke. We'll try again tomorrow! Eff YOU, 2012!
Like we all knew would happen, the Portland City Council yesterday officially moved up a referendum on putting fluoride in the water to May 2013—a full year earlier than fluoride foes had been hoping for when they went out gathering tens of thousands of signatures in hopes of summarily ending the whole affair.
It was a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Dan Saltzman out on an excused absence and Commissioner Amanda Fritz, concerned about low turnout and a rushed campaign, voting a full-throated NO. The vote also marked an official send-off for Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard, both of whom are stepping down in 10 days. And, like every other fluoride hearing to date, it didn't disappoint. In fact, it was pretty much just like every fluoride hearing to date, because everyone pretty much said pretty much the same things they said every other time.
I was live-tweeting it all yesterday. I got punchy. Enjoy some highlights.
Whoopsy! Okay then, folks! I guess that's all that's left of planet earth—so let's go live to various corners of the globe to see the Mayan Apocalypse currently in action! (And check out the soundtrack! BEST APOCALYPSE EVER!!)
Happy Mayan Apocalypse Day, everybody! Before we sign off forever, it's time for all of us... in particular, me... to make amends and apologize for all the crappy things we've done while on this planet.
I got nothing.
HOWEVER! A bunch of reality TV stars got together under the baton of The Soup's Joel McHale to sing this stirring apology ballad entitled, "We Ruined the World" because... well, they kinda did. (How many of these reality stars can you recognize?)
Just a friendly reminder that the world is ending tomorrow, Friday, Dec 21, and it might be a good idea to get your affairs in order. That's what we're doing today at the Mercury—right after our holiday white elephant gift exchange. (Does anybody have the exact time the world ends tomorrow? I'd like to get in a quick workout beforehand.)
Anyway, if the end of the world slipped your mind, no worries. You can quickly read this week's Mercury Guide to the Mayan Apocalypse, which is specifically designed for all you last minute apocalypsers. Such as...
The End of Times: Cheers and Jeers
Here Are Some Things I've Been Wanting to Tell You
A Non-Survivor's Guide to the Apocalypse (this one is specifically directed at YOU)
A Last Minute Bucket List
And of course...
The Mercury's Word Search of Eternal Strife and Never Ending Frustration to Celebrate the Upcoming Banal Everyday Armageddon that Will be Our Undoing
I hope these articles will be of some help and solace... but if they're not? It's not like you're gonna be able to complain about it. See ya when I see ya.
I happened across PBEM's media roll-out yesterday while haunting city hall for council coverage; they'd set up outside the city council chambers ahead of a vote that cements Oregon Public Broadcasting as the city's official outlet for emergency broadcasts. And I came away intrigued enough, after looking over the shiny and serious-looking sample station, that I went to the bureau's website and used a form to enter both my home and work addresses to figure out the closest BEECN to each one. (St. Johns Park and the Fields park, respectively.)
It's an ad, I know, but it's also a pretty good look at what the hell just happened:
To the great
interest boredom of many, I've written at length about my complicated feelings regarding M. Night Shyamalan*. I finally jumped off the let's-defend-Shyamalan train around the time of The Happening, vowing to never be tricked again, and yet: After Earth, the Will Smith/Jaden Smith sci-fi flick that Shyamalan's directing, but not writing? Um... well aside from the fact I'm pretty sure it's actually set before humanity and not after it, as it implies, I think it looks kind of... I'm not going to say it. But this is worth a watch.
YES YES I KNOW FOOL ME ONCE, ETC. But I don't know. Animals and spaceships and Karate Kids and stuff! Those things are neat. So I don't know. Part of me wants nothing more than see Shaymalan make a genuinely awesome movie again. The rest of me knows that even entertaining that hope is what made me watch The Last Airbender and then hate myself for doing so, so there you go.
I did get a mean-spirited kick out of the fact that they don't mention Shyamalan's name at all anywhere on the trailer, though. I think they learned their lesson from the Devil trailer—an otherwise effective preview that made every audience that saw it start laughing when Shyamalan's name came up.
*Short version! He's got a remarkable ability to create stunning images and set a genuinely haunting tone—a fact that usually gets pushed aside so people can talk about how they always see his twists coming** and how deplorable Lady in the Water, The Happening, and The Last Airbender are***.
**No you don't, liar.
***And yes, those are genuinely terrible. But Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are great, and Signs is underrated, and even The Village has some great stuff.
Amusing, perhaps. But also terrifying. We are relying on robots to harvest our food and thereby giving them the tools to destroy us. When the robots turn evil we'll have no leverage to negotiate with them. We can't unplug them or we'll starve.
Even scarier is a quote from near the end of the story: "If your leg looks too much like a pot, it might try to move your leg." This is my biggest fear with all robots. What happens when (WHEN!) they think I look like something that needs to be harvested? If my leg looks too much like a cherry tree, will the robot shake me until my cherries come out? Because that'll be a lot of shaking.
Here's a video of the boring man claiming to be the robot's master explaining the "harmless" technology he's peddling.
Note how the people working in the robot office ignore their impending doom as it whirls around its playpen happily moving plants with its cute grasping arm that could be so easily reprogrammed to choke humans.
Like with all robotic inventions, it's not the amazingly cool way they work today. It's the slippery slope they're sliding down (or building up, I'm not sure how the slope metaphor works for robots). I don't know how anybody could watch them work and not see the obvious links between this and the end of the world.
World War Z: good book, troubled film production. Max Brooks' oral history of a worldwide zombie plague is clever and fun—and at this point, it's the one exception that proves the rule that zombies, as monsters and characters/metaphors/whatever, are totally exhausted.
Brad Pitt's adaptation of World War Z, which appears to trade intimacy for spectacle, looks absolutely nothing like the book—io9 nails when they say it looks "like 2012 with zombies." Which is probably to be expected: a faithful adaptation of World War Z would be a Ken Burns-style mockumentary, and that shit doesn't make money!
But here's the thing: Yeah, it's a bummer that the book is gonna get shafted, but I'm kinda digging what the World War Z movie appears to be doing. The first 45 seconds of that trailer are great—and even if from there on out it feels like an episode of Michael Bay's The Walking Dead, it still looks like something I'd watch. It's impossible to judge a movie by its trailer (the previews for Life of Pi—another film based on a good book, and another film with one or two problems—have been fucking atrocious, but the movie's really solid), and who knows, maybe World War Z will turn out to be as smart as the book. But even if it's just a dumbed-down disaster flick with waves of lemming-like zombies crushing everything in their path? Hell, it'll still be a disaster flick with waves of lemming-like zombies crushing everything in their path.
For those of you who think Michael Bay doesn't give a shit what people on the internet say, you are 100 percent correct! But sometimes he hears what people on the internet say. So when nerds started guessing that Mark Wahlberg might be in Transformers 4, Michael Bay was all, "Pfft! Please. That is ridonkulous, on the serious." But then Michael Bay was all, "Hmmm! That gives me an idea... what if I put Mark Wahlberg in Transformers 4?" AND NOW MARKY MARK IS STARRING IN OPTIMUS PRIME AND THE FUNKY BUNCH, AND IT WILL MAKE 14 TRILLION DOLLARS.
Be careful what you say on the internet, nerds. You never know who will be listening.
Via the Onion, which has yet again proven to be the best place to go for eerily accurate post-election analysis.
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