Even Mrs. Gump used the back door to get her boy into school

    There's buying school buildings, making million-dollar "donations," photoshopping your kid's head onto a real athlete's body, hiring a grown man to take your child's SAT test, and then there's an admissions tactic that hasn't yet come up in the college admissions scandal – screwing the head of the school. Here's a hilarious clip from Forrest Gump to show us how it's done.

    Via Reddit

    Self-insurer Walmart flies its sick employees to out-of-state specialists to avoid local price-gougers

    Walmart self-insures its workforce, rather than relying on an outside insurer like Cigna or Blue Cross; this means that it gets to make judgment calls that other firms cannot, and that has led the retail giant to a pretty weird place: for certain procedures that it believes to be overused by local hospitals, it flies its employees (even front-line, low-waged employees) to see the nation's top specialists in out-of-state facilities where they receive "concierge, white-glove care that was reserved at other companies only for highly paid executives." (more…)

    "Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase," a wonderful claymation from 1992

    Joan C Gratz's animated short "Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase" is a lovely and trippy 2D claymation of iconic artworks transforming one into another. After spending a decade on the piece, Gratz won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Gratz called her animation technique "clay painting." From Educational Media Reviews Online:

    “Clay-painting” is a unique process that blends film and painting, and an innovation that garnered Joan Gratz’s Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase a 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In this true landmark of animation, numerous famous and iconic paintings from 20th century art are “reproduced as exactly as possible but the transitions between these paintings [are] used to communicate the relationship of artistic movements” as Gratz has stated. “In the clay painting technique, which I began developing in 1966, I work by painting directly before the camera, making changes to a single painting, shooting a frame, repainting and shooting, etc. In the end there is one painting with the process recorded on film, the product is the process.”

    Big Chemical says higher pollution levels are safe in West Virginia because residents don't drink water, and are so fat that poisons are diluted in their bodies

    West Virginia Manufacturers Association (whose major member is Dow Chemical) wants to do something about the frequent "boil water" advisories in the state: specifically, they want to relax the criteria that results in water being declared unsafe to drink, on the ground that West Virginians are so overweight that they can absorb more dangerous substances before reaching unhealthy concentrations of them; and besides, West Virginians don't drink much water, anyway. (more…)

    This is Birdpunk, the intersection of DIY, environmentalism, and birdwatching

    Birdpunk is the quite natural intersection of two subcultures, punk and birding. From a feature article by Steve Neumann in Audobon:

    The overlap between birding and punk might seem strange to outsiders, but for birdpunks like Croasdale, the Do-It-Youself (DIY) values that shape punk living feed perfectly into low-frills activities such as birding. The DIY aesthetic and mentality is a core philosophy for punks, who thrive on independence and individualism. Their music bucks the profiteering industry of labels and promoters and travels over a homegrown network of venues and websites. The ethic also spills over to visual media, politics, economics, and social philosophy. Hospitality, trust, and authenticity are key traits in the community.

    When you consider these principles, it’s clear why many punkers are drawn to birding and its rustic qualities. Or vice versa: why their early love of birds steers them straight into the throes of punk. It’s a two-way street that draws out the best of both worlds, forming a distinctive subculture that’s holistic, aware, and expressive...

    Raquel Reyes, who lives in San Francisco... (had) always been interested in biology, but she credits her volunteer work at a wildlife hospital with making the discipline more personal. Similar to the others, Reyes discovered punk in her teens; she found self-esteem in a community where being a “weirdo” was a badge of honor.

    “Mainstream views about punk culture characterize it as self-absorbed and nihilistic,” Reyes says, “but there are many sub-categories immersed in ecological concerns.” The rejection of capitalism and mainstream consumerism spurs the need for self-sufficiency and self-discovery, through sewing, carpentry, gardening, and, of course, birding.

    "Welcome to Birdpunk: A Subculture of a Subculture" (Audobon via Kottke)

    Gunman kills 49 in New Zealand mosque shootings

    A white man in his 20s was taken into custody after killing 49 and wounding dozens more at two Christchurch mosques, reports the BBC. Authorities described him as an "extremist right-wing terrorist"; he live-streamed one of the attacks on the internet.

    The attack, which came around the time people were attending the mosques for Friday prayers, was the deadliest in the nation's history.

    A gunman live-streamed footage of his rampage to Facebook, filmed with a head-mounted camera. The footage showed him firing indiscriminately at men, women and children from close range inside the Al-Noor mosque.

    Police called on the public not to share the "extremely distressing" footage online. Facebook said it had removed the gunman's Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage.

    He's been named by some media as Brent or Brenton Tarrant. A 74-page anti-immigration manifesto posted online and attributed to the killer rants about "white genocide".

    The 74-page document, called The Great Replacement, consists of a rant about white genocide and lists various aims, including the creation of “an atmosphere of fear” against Muslims.

    The document, which suggests an obsession with violent uprisings against Islam, claims that the suspect had “brief contact” with the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik and that Breivik gave a “blessing” for the attack. ... In a question-and-answer section of the manifesto, the author claims he was not seeking fame and was actually a “private and mostly introverted person”.

    He describes himself as an ethnonationalist and a fascist.

    The document (a tangle of rage and "ironic" Nazi "humor" in the internet-trolling mode) praised Trump, Anders Breivik, right-wing grifter Candace Owens among others as inspiration. On the livestream, he recommended following YouTuber PewDiePie.

    A video that was apparently livestreamed by the shooter shows the attack in horrifying detail. The gunman spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with bullets again and again, sometimes re-firing at people he has already cut down.

    He then walks outside to the street, where he shoots at people on the sidewalk. Children’s screams can be heard in the distance as he returns to his car to get another rifle.

    The gunman then walks back into the mosque, where there are at least two dozen people lying on the ground. After walking back outside and shooting a woman there, he gets back in his car, where the song “Fire” by English rock band “The Crazy World of Arthur Brown” can be heard blasting from the speakers. The singer bellows, “I am the god of hellfire!” and the gunman drives away. The video then cuts out.

    New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly asserted the attack was an act of terrorism. One Australian Senator, Fraser Anning, publicly blamed Muslims for the attack.

    Correction: Anning is a politician in Australia, not New Zealand.

    Cool project: "I used pi to compose a song that lasts for 999,999 hours"

    Canton Becker, an electronic music composer and programmer, composed a procedurally generated song that uses the first billion digits of pi as its input.

    I haven't listened to all 114 years of the song yet, but I like what I have heard so far.

    From his statement:

    Becker programmed — or composed — an algorithm to generate music using the first one billion digits of pi (π). These digits supply the "turn signals" used to determine every musical expression in the song. Each digit (3.1415...) is responsible for orchestrating approximately four seconds of music. The electronic instruments and sound samples were prepared by Becker in advance.

    Because the numbers in pi never repeat, each one of the million hours in "Shepard's Pi” is in fact unique. Listeners who fast forward to some distant moment in the song are virtually guaranteed to find themselves listening to something that nobody else – including the composer himself – has ever heard before.

    Becker told me "here’s one of my favorite 20 minutes so far, from around hour 10,470."

    UK parliament votes to delay Brexit

    Britain's parliament voted Thursday to delay Brexit, giving the government breathing room after its repeated failure to gain approval for an exit deal with the European Union. The EU must also agree to the delay, but it will likely do so quickly to help Britain avoid crashing out of the bloc on March 29. However, all states must agree to the extension, and it isn't a done deal.

    Mrs May says Brexit could be delayed by three months, to 30 June, if MPs back her withdrawal deal in a vote next week.

    If they reject her deal again then she says she will seek a longer extension - but any delay has to be agreed by the 27 other EU member states.

    A spokesman for the European Commission said extending Article 50, the mechanism taking the UK out of the EU on 29 March, would need the "unanimous agreement" of all states.

    Parliament voted Wednesday against leaving the EU without a deal, after rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May's deal on Tuesday.

    Walt Disney's Frozen Head: a science fiction movie secretly shot at Walt Disney World

    Filmmaker Benjamin Lancaster spent four years secretly shooting a science fiction movie called "The Further Adventures of Walt's Frozen Head," working with actors Daniel Cooksley and Ron Schneider to make a movie about a WDW cast-member who discovers the (urban)-legendary frozen head of Walt Disney, kicking off a series of adventures around the park. The movie premieres online later today. This is (at least) the second time someone has secretly shot a movie at Walt Disney World. (Thanks, Hugh!)

    Polish newspaper offers anti-semitic tirade "proving" Poland never did anything anti-semitic

    The headline How to Spot a Jew graced Poland's right-wing national weekly newspaper Tylko Polska. Said headline was an angry response to a panel discussion of Poland's complicit citizenry during the Holocaust at a recent Paris conference.

    Newsweek:

    The anti-Semitic headline ran alongside the front page article complaining that speakers at last month’s Holocaust studies meeting in Paris had been attacking Poland. It was printed with a photo of Jan Gross, a Polish Jew who teaches at Princeton University.

    Gross has regularly said that Poles collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping Adolf Hitler’s regime murder millions of their Jewish countrymen. He has become a favored target for Polish nationalists, who rail against any suggestion of Polish complicity in the genocide.

    Gross was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1996. However, in 2016, the nationalist Law and Justice government was reportedly considering stripping the scholar of the honor for what it considers his anti-Polish work.

    The government has been accused of trying to rewrite history by banning any suggestion of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. Use of the phrase “Polish death camps” to refer to Nazi-run concentration camps like Auschwitz, for example, is now punishable by up to three years in prison.

    USC says it will deny all students linked to admissions scandal (and has denied six already)

    The University of Southern California, one of the schools heavily involved in the college bribery scandal, said yesterday that they will deny any current applicant who is involved with the scam. In fact, they've already identified and denied six such applicants, according to Buzzfeed.

    USC is also in the process of investigating the students linked to the scandal who are currently attending USC, including Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose Giannulli, daughters of actress Lori Laughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli.

    "If UCLA discovers that any prospective, admitted or enrolled student has misrepresented any aspect of his/her application, or that information about the applicant has been withheld, UCLA may take a number of disciplinary actions, up to and including cancellation of admission," a university spokesperson told Buzzfeed.

    Via Buzzfeed:

    About half of the 32 parents who allegedly paid the California life coach to fix their children's applications wanted their kids to get into USC...

    Now, USC officials say they're going to conduct a thorough, "case-by-case review of current students and graduates that may be connected to the scheme alleged by the government..."

    USC said Wednesday that it will deny admission any applicants "who are connected to the scheme."

    It's easy to deny current applicants who have lied on their application or cheated in some way to make themselves someone they aren't. But let's see how USC handles the students who are currently enrolled at the university who cheated to get in. The fact that 19-year-old Olivia Jade (who allegedly pretended to be on her high school crew team even though she'd never participated in crew) was on a yacht owned by the Chairman of USC's Board of Trustees the day the story broke, makes this an especially interesting corner of the story to watch.

    Image: by Bobak Ha'Eri - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

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