This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Rachel from Card Services has a sister now

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Technology Updated: December 11, 2013 - 12:14 PM

If you believe that telemarketers should be roasted in the depths of the Slor for a thousand ears just to soften them up for an eternity of hobnailed stick-beating, then the latest innovation will make you consider even worse methods of permanent damnation. Rachel is gone, as you might know; the FTC finally shut them down. And fined them! Took away their boats! MSN notes:

The company and individuals associated with it were charged with misleading consumers, collecting up-front fees illegally, making illegal robo-calls and calling people whose numbers were in the national Do Not Call Registry.

The government won a judgment of $9.2 million against the defendants. The judgment, however, will be suspended after the defendants forfeit all assets with the exception of $25,000.

Among the items being turned over to the government include a 2007 Mercedes Benz CL, a  boat worth about $45,000 and another boat valued at about $17,000.

But just as one telemarketer gets slapped down, a dozen more rise. Meet Samantha, the Robot Who Almost Sounds Like She’s Having a Conversation.

Time ferrets out more here.

SCIENCE! This is your brain. This is your brain on Instagram. Any questions? From Atlantic:

Henkel, a researcher at Fairfield University, concocted a series of experiments leading undergraduate students on guided tours through the university's Bellarmine Museum of Art. They looked at paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and mosaics. The students were given digital cameras to photograph some of the objects and were told to simply observe the others. The next day, they were given a series of recall tests, trying to detect which objects they remembered best in name and detail.

As it turned out, people remembered fewer of the photographed objects, and fewer of the details about them, relative to the pieces of art they'd actively observed with their own eyes.

This suggests what Henkel calls a "photo-taking-impairment effect:”

I wonder if it’s generational. I didn’t grow up with the ability to take pictures of anything anytime anywhere; you had to chose those 24 shots in your Instamatic carefully. On vacations I take hundreds of pictures, but I have vivid memories of the streets and shops and cafes where we went. It’s not the tool, it’s the user.

MOVIES Good news, sort of: the Tintin sequel is still on track. Peter Jackson is slated to direct, though, which means the movie will be nine hours long, split into three parts, and begin with an hour-long sequence where Tintin has breakfast with Captain Haddock, who’s getting falling-down-drunk and singing every shanty he knows. Well, no. It’ll be a two-parter, and if it does okay, “Destination Moon” will be next.

In related news, inasmuch as it’s the same medium, we have a poster for the latest Godzilla movie.

Rather than attacking the beast with bunker-busting ordnance or a tactical nuke, they’re sending in skydivers, perhaps to tickle him.

VotD No doubt the fellow had things on his mind as he strolled along the wintry street. You think what the day will hold, what you have to do, what details remain to be cleaned up from the previous day. Probably you don’t think about this:

Feeling as though the day could only get better, he went to work to firm up the town square’s gala Christmas tree.

NO NO NO It’s cold, but no. No:

You can get your Knitte Alien Facehugger here. If you must. Must you? You must? Too late; already sold. But you can probably commission another. (Via Dangerous Minds.)

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