Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Creator Of ‘Minecraft’ Reveals That His Game Occupies A Genderless World

via Business Insider:

Markus Persson, aka “Notch”—the legendary creator of “Minecraft”—has revealed in a recent blog post that all characters in his game occupy a genderless space.


Persson writes that despite the main character being named “Steve,” “the Human model is intended to represent a Human Being. Not a male Human Being or a female Human Being, but simply a Human Being.”

A short, yet eloquent and insightful post, Persson concludes with, “also, as a fun side fact, it means every character and animal in Minecraft is homosexual because there’s only one gender to choose from.”

Read Persson’s full post below.



Screenshot / The Word of Notch

46% Will Be Voting For Lesser of Two Evils This Presidential Election

via Rasmussen Reports: 


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The 2012 presidential race has grown more contentious over the past few months, but voters’ opinions on the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney haven’t changed.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters shows that 45% say the choice between Obama and Romney is one they are excited about. Just as many (46%) say they will simply be voting for the lesser of two evils this November. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Drunken gang of girls in subway stab attack: cops

via NYPost:


CUFFED: Police detain some of the women allegedly involved in an attack on a straphanger.


A wolf pack of drunken young women “acting stupid” on a downtown No. 6 train in Manhattan stabbed a 63-year-old man early today — for having had the nerve to ask them to pipe down, police said.

The man was on his way to work at about 6:15 a.m. when he was attacked as the train entered the East 23rd Street station, a law-enforcement source told The Post.

“The eight females were acting stupid. He just told them, ‘Relax. Calm down,’ ” another source said.

Instead, one stabbed him in the left shoulder. He was treated at Bellevue Hospital.

The women were arrested as they exited the 23rd Street subway station near Gramer¬cy Park. Seven of them, ages 17 to 20, were charged with gang assault, disorderly conduct, riot¬ing, criminal possession of a weapon, menacing, and felony assault. A 15-year-old girl was not charged. Cops added that they recovered a knife.

A city bus driver who witnessed their arrest said the women, beers in hand, were yelling, “We didn’t do anything!” as they were being cuffed.

The suspects were dentified as Shanice Brown, 20, Starmeik Driggins, 19, Kimberly Molina, 20 and Sheyla Figueroa, 18, all from Brooklyn; Michelle Rodriguez, 19, from the Bronx; and Martha Bermudez, 17, and Sha-fteva Burdos, 17, from Queens.


Arcade Owner Confirms On Reddit: Yes, Claw Machines ARE Rigged

via Business Insider: 

Yesterday on Reddit IAMA (“I am a”) an arcade owner from Central California answered a Q&A session on Reddit. Going by the username of “TheDJTec,” he explained that he owned over 150 machines in his arcade.


Inevitably, the first question he received was the question that has been on everyone’s minds ever since they were first duped as a small child: “Are those claw machines rigged?”

“Yes, indeed they are,” TheDJTEc admitted. In fact, the machines are rigged so that players only hit the jackpot (ie., get their stuffed animal) as often as the law requires.

TheDJTec gave this explanation: “Under California law my claws are set to 1/12, which means 1/12 players will have a chance to win. The example I used before is a ‘toy’ requires 10 PSI to lift. My claw during 11/12 tries will apply 4-6 PSI, or just enough to shuffle it or barely pick it up. During the 1/12 tries the claw will apply 9-11 PSI, sometimes picking it up and dropping, some successful.”

So while it’s not too surprising, it does feel good to finally hear someone on the other side admit that you’re never going to win that plush toy, no matter how perfectly you lined the claw up.



Screenshot / Reddit

Read the full thread here.

Read more:


Westboro Baptist Church Military Protest Countered By Zombie Demonstrators

via Huffington Post: 


A Westboro Baptist Church protest was overshadowed Friday when demonstrators dressed as zombies gathered at a DuPont, Wash. military base to counter the radical group’s efforts.

Westboro Baptist Church

After members of the controversial Kansas-based church announced plans to picket Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base south of Seattle, 27-year-old Melissa Neace decided to organize a counter-protest, launching a Facebook group titled “Zombie’ing Westboro Baptist Church AWAY from Fort Lewis!”

“We wanted to turn something negative around, into something people could laugh at and poke fun at,” Neace told the News Tribune. “It was the easiest way to divert attention from something so hateful.”

About 300 counter-protesters showed up in varying degrees of zombie garb, far outnumbering the picketers from Westboro. According to KIRO in Seattle, just eight protesters from the controversial group showed up.

“I think that their message is very hateful, and Jesus was not a hateful person. He loved everybody,” one of the counter-protesters told KIRO.

While it is unclear why Westboro Baptist Church targeted the DuPont military base for its latest effort, the group frequently pickets military funerals. The group believes that deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God’s punishment for the United States’ tolerance of homosexuality. Last year, the group announced it would “quadruple” protest efforts after the Supreme Court ruled that such demonstrations are protected by the First Amendment.

However, counter-protests like the zombie effort in DuPont are becoming increasingly popular. Earlier this month, thousands of people in red shirts formed a human wallaround a fallen soldier’s funeral to block the anti-gay protesters. At a similar protest atTexas A&M University, students dressed in maroon formed a circle around a funeral and seemingly discouraged Westboro protesters from ever showing up.

James Mapes may not be charged for bringing openly displayed gun into movie theater

via Denver News


Update below: Moments ago, we reached James Mapes, the man who was arrested late last night for visibly wearing a weapon into a Thornton movie theater. Mapes has a concealed-carry permit and says he wasn’t attempting to garner attention for Second Amendment-related subjects by wearing a gun in plain sight. He blames the concern that he generated, and his subsequent arrest, on “that jackass in Aurora.”


“It wasn’t really a political statement,” Mapes says. “I just went to see a movie. But it’s a political statement that one madman out of four-and-a-half-million people shouldn’t be dictating to the rest of us that we should stay in our houses.”

According to Mapes, he’s a regular patron of Cinebarre, which he’s been visiting since it opened several years ago, as well as a movie fan in general; he goes to shows every week or two, he estimates. Moreover, he frequently carries a gun with him when he does so. In most cases, the weapon is covered, but not always, depending on the time of year and the amount of clothing he’s wearing due to the weather, and he says he’s never before had a problem or caused concerns.

Because last night was warm when he got home from work, he showered and donned shorts and a T-shirt. He declines to provide the full slogan on the shirt, which starts with the word “LIBERALISM,” but insists that his attire wasn’t politically calculated, either. The shirt was handy, so he threw it on without giving it much thought, never believing that it’d imply he’d set out to be arrested, and headed to the theater to catch The Watch, a new comedy about neighborhood watch volunteers confronting aliens that stars Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill.

By the way, Mapes notes that he saw The Dark Knight Rises, the film that was screening during the Aurora theater shooting, on opening night at the same Thornton theater where he came into contact with cops last night. He was viewing it during the attack across town, and says he was carrying a gun then, too.

The gun was visible last night, Mapes acknowledges. “The only thing I could have done is untuck my T-shirt,” he says. “But it’s the size of a brick, so obviously you’re going to see it. But then somebody calls the police because they’re all paranoid about what happened.”

Judging by his tone of voice, Mapes is frustrated by being charged with a municipal violation for doing something that he’s done countless times before without the slightest trouble. Still, he doesn’t express regret for bringing a gun with him — although he concedes that “if I’d been thinking about it, I probably would have worn a different shirt.”

By the way, the allegation against Mapes concerns carrying a weapon into a venue that serves alcohol. We didn’t get the chance to ask if he’d thought he was breaking the law during his previous visits to the theater when he ended the call.

Update, 12:24 p.m. July 30: A short time ago, we spoke to Officer Matt Barnes, spokesman for the Thornton Police Department, about the arrest of James Mapes for investigation of possessing a dangerous weapon in a liquor and beer establishment. Barnes says the city attorney is currently looking at the case to determine if any charges will be filed — and there’s every possibility that the entire matter could be dropped despite the turmoil it caused at the Cinebarre theater last night.

Barnes says a Thornton ordinance targets individuals who display a dangerous weapon (the list even includes air guns and slingshots) “in a manner calculated to alarm another person.” And there’s no question that Mapes’s presence at the theater wearing a gun in plain sight did just that. According to Barnes, seventeen officers responded to the call “in light of recent events,” evacuating nine theaters and dealing with a number of panicky patrons — some of whom returned to the venue after police took Mapes into custody.

However, Barnes adds that Colorado “is an open-carry state,” and the city attorney could determine that this status supersedes the local ordinance, particularly given that Thornton doesn’t have an open-carry rule, as does Denver. Instead, Thornton businesses can post information informing customers that weapons are off-limits — but since Cinebarre didn’t do so, that couldn’t impact any case against Mapes. And because the element of the potential charge regarding liquor and beer is what Barnes terms “a sentence-enhancer,” it wouldn’t apply if the dangerous weapons charge is found to be a non-starter.

A determination about charges could come later today or shortly thereafter. And if the city attorney feels Mapes’s actions were lawful, even if they were ill-timed, no charges will be pressed and, Barnes says, “we’ll just look at everything else that happened as unfortunate.”

Look below to see our earlier coverage.

Original post, 7:34 a.m. July 30: Last week, we told you about an arrest at a Los Angeles movie house in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, prompted by fears that the man in question had a gun (he didn’t). But there doesn’t appear to be any doubt that James Mapes was armed. Mapes’s weapon is said to have been in plain sight when he was busted late last night at Thornton’s Cinebarre — and he may have been trying to make a political statement.

According to a news release sent out by the Thornton Police Department just after 1 a.m. this morning, officers were dispatched to Cinebarre, 10001 North Grant Street, at about 10:15 in reference to a ticket buyer with a handgun strapped to his waist line, in what the department refers to as the “open-carry position, visible to others.”

In response, officers quickly evacuated several theaters as a precautionary measure even as they searched for the 48-year-old Mapes. He was subsequently taken into custody regarding possession of a dangerous weapon in a liquor and beer establishment and released on a municipal summons.

A number of questions are left unanswered by the information made public to date. For instance, does Mapes have a concealed-carry permit? And if so, did he violate that permit because the weapon was in the open-carry position? Did he buy, or try to buy, a ticket forThe Dark Knight Rises, the film that was screening during the massacre at the Aurora Century 16? And then there’s the matter of what slogan adorned the T-shirt he wore at the time of his arrest. As you can see by the full-size photo below, the word “LIBERALISM” stretched across his chest:


james mapes mug shot.jpg

Common T-shirt designs that start with the word “liberalism” include “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” “Liberalism is a Disease” and “Liberalism Destroyed America.”


Note also Mapes’s Facebook page, which features plenty of images like this one:


james mapes welcome to america.jpg

There’s also a specific reference to the Aurora theater shooting, shared about eleven hours ago at this writing. The post reads, “Hey, I got an idea! We can get James Holmes a bath with these guys. If he’s crazy, he’d do it — if he refuses we know he’s sane and can get on with the hanging. Either way, we get rid of him.” Here’s the photo:



james mapes james holmes reference.jpg

We’ve requested more information from the Thornton Police Department. When and if a representative gets back to us, we’ll update this post.


Update: Still haven’t heard back from the Thorton Police Department on the arrest late last night of James Mapes for wearing a gun on his waistline at a movie theater. However, we did manage to track down a Denver Post letter to the editor he wrote in March, which argues passionately in favor of carrying concealed weapons and maintains that doing so could prevent mass shootings. Here’s the letter:

Your editorial falls short of the mark for common sense. The courts upheld the law — surprisingly not, in this case, electing to legislate from the bench. The facts around concealed-carry permit holders show that those who obtained permits are not irresponsibly committing crimes. Just one concealed-weapon holder in a classroom where a random criminal attempts to shoot the occupants could and would reduce the casualties, as they would either take out the offender or at least distract them while others managed to get distance from the shooter.Jim Mapes, Northglenn

State police watching for dirty tags

via WWL 


Louisiana state police and local law enforcement agencies are telling motorists to clean off their dirty license plates.

State police say in a news release the motorists caught with their license plates obscured in any way, including by dirt, mud or frames that cover part of the plate, could be ticketed.

Louisiana law requires vehicle license plates be clearly displayed, as well as illuminated at night by license plate lights.

Col. Michael Edmonson, state police superintendent, says clean license plates can help citizens more easily report reckless or impaired drivers, as well as vehicles involved in criminal acts.


Man gripped by Olympic fever tries to swim to America… and fails

via Gap Year: 


Olympics epic fail Featured Image

After a pulsating and pounding opening ceremony on Friday night, and world record’s being broken left, right and centre on the days that followed, it seems as if Olympic fever has gripped us all. There’s no doubt about it, people’s interest in sport has shot through the roof, and so have people’s expectations.

For one man, it inspired him to try and swim to America from Biarritz, southern France, without any training or equipment. In short, he had gone out of his mind on the Olympics.

Despite his insistence that he was up to the challenge, he was rescued by coastguards just off the coast who convinced him that it probably wasn’t a good idea to continue, in what will no doubt be one of many epic fails at the Olympics.

It’s thought that the 34-year-old holidaymaker was visiting Biarritz with friends. He told them that he was planning to swim to New York, 3,594 miles away, to carry the Olympic spirit across the Atlantic.

They let him go because they thought he was joking and knew that he was a strong swimmer.

At 3.30pm, lifeguards watched as he swam past the buoys 300 yards out to sea, which mark the legal limit for swimmers. He then continued to swim until he was out of sight.

At this point, lifeguards called out a helicopter and a diver dropped into the sea and explained to the man that it was a good idea to turn back.

At the same time, lifeguards arrived in a rescue dinghy. The man then realised that he might have made a mistake, so lifeguards threw him a line and towed him back to the beach.

Laurent Saintespes, senior officer at Biarritz airbase told Agence France Presse: “He was a bit naive. But at a time when the Olympics are taking place in London you have to see the funny side of things.”

Have you seen any epic fails at the Olympics yet? What’s been your best bit?

Distracted pedestrians stumble into danger

via WTOP

WASHINGTON (AP) – A young man talking on a cellphone meanders along the edge of a lonely train platform at night. Suddenly he stumbles, loses his balance and pitches over the side, landing head first on the tracks.

Fortunately there were no trains approaching the Philadelphia-area station at that moment, because it took the man several minutes to recover enough to climb out of danger. But the incident, captured last year by a security camera and provided to The Associated Press, underscores the risks of what government officials and safety experts say is a growing problem: distracted walking.

On city streets, in suburban parking lots and in shopping centers, there is usually someone strolling while talking on a phone, texting with his head down, listening to music, or playing a video game. The problem isn’t as widely discussed as distracted driving, but the danger is real.

Reports of injuries to distracted walkers treated at hospital emergency rooms have more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported. There has been a spike in pedestrians killed and injured in traffic accidents, but there is no reliable data on how many were distracted by electronics.

“We are where we were with cellphone use in cars 10 years or so ago. We knew it was a problem, but we didn’t have the data,” said Jonathan Akins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices.

State and local officials are struggling to figure out how to respond, and in some cases asking how far government should go in trying to protect people from themselves.

In Delaware, highway safety officials opted for a public education campaign, placing decals on crosswalks and sidewalks at busy intersections urging pedestrians to “Look up. Drivers aren’t always looking out for you.”

Philadelphia officials are drafting a safety campaign that will be aimed in part at pedestrians who are looking at their devices instead of where they’re going. “One of the messages will certainly be `pick your head up’ _ I want to say `nitwit,’ but I probably shouldn’t call them names,” said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities.

As an April Fool’s Day joke with a serious message, Philadelphia officials taped off an “e-lane” for distracted pedestrians on a sidewalk outside downtown office buildings.

Some didn’t get that it was a joke.

“The sad part is we had people who, once they realized we were going to take the e-lane away, got mad because they thought it was really helpful to not have people get in their way while they were walking and texting,” Cutler said.

When the Utah Transit Authority adopted an ordinance barring pedestrians from using cellphones, headphones or other distracting electronic devices while crossing the tracks of its light rail system on the streets of Salt Lake City, subject to a $50 fine, the Legislature refused to make it a statewide law.

“Look, I get distracted all the time,” bristled Utah State Rep. Craig Frank, a Republican who opposed the proposal. “I have a smartphone, too. Walking on sidewalks, in stores and malls, and maybe in a crosswalk sometimes I’m using my cellphone. But I try to stay connected to my environment. I never thought the government needed to cite me for using my cellphone in a reasonable manner.”

Distracted walking bills in the Arkansas, Illinois and New York legislatures also went nowhere.

“It sounds very ridiculous,” said Tia Little, a pedestrian in downtown Washington. “I mean, it’s our phone. We should be able to use it and walk and talk if we choose to, walk and text or whatever.”

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which provided the video of the man who fell onto the train tracks, has received reports from bus drivers and train engineers who say they nearly hit pedestrians who didn’t appear to hear them sound their horns because they were distracted by their electronic devices, said Jim Fox, the agency’s director of system safety and risk management.

He said there have been several cases of people hit and killed by the authority’s trains in which it appears they were wearing headphones or using cellphones while trespassing on tracks.

A University of Maryland study found 116 cases over six years in which pedestrians were killed or seriously injured while wearing headphones. In two-thirds of the cases the victims were men under age 30. Half the cases involved trains. In a third of the incidents, a warning horn was sounded just before the accident.

“With the smartphone technology these days and everything at your fingertips, it’s almost getting to be an obsession or a compulsion with people,” Fox said. “You see it in airports or train stations or malls _ if there’s any kind of downtime, they’re jumping right to that phone.”

About 1,152 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. last year for injuries suffered while walking and using a cellphone or some other electronic device, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which receives annual data from 100 emergency rooms and extrapolates the information into a national estimate. But that’s likely an underestimate because patients may not mention they were using a cellphone or other device at the time at the time they were injured, or the doctor or nurse may neglect to include the information in their report, said Tom Schroeder, director of the commission’s data systems.

The cases include a 24-year-old woman who walked into a telephone pole while texting; a 28-year-old man who was walking along a road when he fell into a ditch while talking on a cellphone; a 12-year-old boy who was looking at a video game when he was clipped by a pickup truck as he crossed the street; and a 53-year-old woman who fell off a curb while texting and lacerated her face.

One 67-year-old man walking along the side of a road was hit a by a bicyclist who was talking on a cellphone as he rode. The pedestrian injured a knee.

Though overall traffic deaths were lower in 2010 than the year before, pedestrian fatalities rose by 4.2 percent and injuries by 19 percent, according to the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s not clear how many of the pedestrian deaths and injuries involved cellphones and other electronics because police often don’t collect that information.

Even without better data, the Internet yields a wealth of anecdotal evidence of the power of electronics to distract pedestrians.

A woman texting while she walked through in a suburban Philadelphia shopping mall this year tumbled into a large fountain directly in front of her. Security camera video of the incident went viral, generating millions of hits.

A man texting a message to his boss nearly strolled into the path of a black bear that had wandered into a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood. He was only a few feet away when he looked up, saw the bear, and ran. A KTLA news helicopter tracking the bear recorded the April incident.

Researchers say they’re not surprised that multi-tasking pedestrians run into trouble.

Psychological studies that show most people can’t focus on two things at once. Rather, their attention shifts rapidly back and forth between tasks, and performance suffers. But like a lot of drivers who use cellphones behind the wheel, pedestrians often think they’re in control and that it’s all the other fools on their phones who aren’t watching what they’re doing.

“I see students as soon as they break from a class, they have their cellphones out and they’re texting to one another. They’re walking through the door and bumping into one another,” said Jack Nasar, an Ohio State University professor and expert on environmental psychology. “People think they can do it, that they are somehow better.”

A study Nasar conducted at intersections on campus found that people talking on cellphones were significantly more likely to walk in front of cars than pedestrians not using phones.

A study by researchers at Stony Brook University in New York compared the performance of people asked to walk across a room to a target _ a piece of paper taped to the floor _ without distractions and then again next day while talking on a cellphone or texting. The group that talked on the cellphone walked slightly slower and veered off course a bit more than previously, but the texting group walked slower, veered off course 61 percent more and overshot the target 13 percent more.

“People really need to be aware that they are impacting their safety by texting or talking on the cellphone” while walking, Eric Lamberg, an associate physical therapy professor who conducted the study, said. “I think the risk is there.”