IT Professional. Data nerd. Photography enthusiast. Wife and mother. Weight Watcher. Atheist. Owner of many flowerbeds.
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The Food Size Cycle

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There's data suggesting that this model may apply to deep-dish/thin-crust pizza. I've designed a thorough multi-year study to investigate this personally, but funding organizations keep denying my grant requests.
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4 public comments
jcherfas
5 days ago
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Candies too.
expatpaul
5 days ago
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If I recall correctly, the film Super Size Me made the point that burger chains' (obviously -- he was talking about McDonalds) products are all so similar that quantity is really the only thing they can compete on.
Belgium
Covarr
5 days ago
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McDonald's understood the appeal of having multiple sizes of Big Mac, leading to the inception of the Grand Mac and the Mac Jr. Then they got rid of them because they were popular and McDonald's is trying to flatline their business.
Moses Lake, WA
benzado
4 days ago
Is "flatline" mean something about simplifying a product line or supply chain, or are you just saying they are trying to shoot themselves in the foot?
Covarr
4 days ago
The latter. It was meant to be sarcasm; I don't literally think they are making bad decisions on purpose, but they've been losing marketshare for years now and ruining perfectly solid comeback opportunities like that.
benzado
4 days ago
Gotcha. I just thought there was a chance you might be dropping cool new (to me) terminology. :-)
alt_text_bot
5 days ago
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There's data suggesting that this model may apply to deep-dish/thin-crust pizza. I've designed a thorough multi-year study to investigate this personally, but funding organizations keep denying my grant requests.

2018

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We should really start calculating it earlier, but until the end of December we're always too busy trying to figure out which day Christmas will fall on.
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sirshannon
17 days ago
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leap year is the year of the US president election... until some future date when we fuck that up.
pavel_lishin
17 days ago
2100 AD won't be a leap year, but might have a US Presidential election.
digdoug
15 days ago
I wouldn't put money on the US existing in 2100.
alt_text_bot
17 days ago
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We should really start calculating it earlier, but until the end of December we're always too busy trying to figure out which day Christmas will fall on.

Free to Use and Reuse: Selections from the National Film Registry

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“Duck and Cover” is a 1951 U.S. Office of Civil Defense film for schoolchildren highlighting what to do in the event of an attack by atomic or other weapons.

The Library of Congress is offering film lovers a special gift during the holiday season: Sixty-four motion pictures, named to the Library’s National Film Registry, are now available online. The collection, “Selections from the National Film Registry,” is also available on YouTube.

These films are among hundreds of titles that have been tapped for preservation because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic significance—each year, the National Film Registry selects 25 films showcasing the range and diversity of America’s film heritage.

Legendary sailors Popeye and Sinbad battle in the 1936 film “Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor.”

All of the streaming films in the new online collection are in the public domain. They are also available as freely downloadable files with the exception of two titles. Additional films will be added periodically to the website.

“We are especially pleased to make high-resolution ProRes 422 .mov files freely available for download for practically every title in this digital collection,” said curator Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image Section. “We think these films will be of particular educational and scholarly benefit as well as for reuse by the creative community.”

Highlights from “Selections from the National Film Registry” include

  • Memphis Belle” (1944)—William Wyler’s remarkable World War II documentary about the crew of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber
  • The Hitch-Hiker” (1953)—a gritty film noir directed by actress Ida Lupino
  • Trance and Dance in Bali” (1936–39)—Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson’s groundbreaking ethnographic documentary
  • Modesta” (1956)—a Spanish-language film produced by Puerto Rico’s Division of Community Education
  • Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor” (1936)—a two-reel Technicolor cartoon
  • The House I Live In” (1945)— a plea for religious tolerance starring Frank Sinatra that won an honorary Academy Award
  • Master Hands” (1936)—a dazzling “mechanical ballet” shot on a General Motors automotive assembly line
  • Duck and Cover” (1951)— a Cold War curio that features Bert the Turtle explaining to schoolchildren how best to survive a nuclear attack

Enjoy!

The final mission of the B-17 bomber, Memphis Belle, is the subject of the 1944 documentary “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.”

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acdha
33 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Old Man’s War in Development at Netflix

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For those who don’t know, yes, that’s the original of the Old Man’s War cover art. It’s on my office wall. And yes, that’s my hand.

So here’s some lively holiday news: An Old Man’s War movie is currently in development at Netflix. Surprise! Here are the details over at Deadline.com. I’m pretty happy about this.

And now, your questions:

Are you excited?

Hell, yes. One, because I would love to see an OMW movie. But also, two, Netflix is a place where a lot of fantastic entertainment is happening these days. It’s trying a lot of things and taking a lot of chances, and most people I know who are working with Netflix are thrilled about being there right now. It really seems like it could be a great place for the OMW universe.

So is this a movie or TV series?

It’s a movie. On your television!

(Or computer or phone or monitor or wherever you choose to watch Netflix, I don’t judge.)

But can a two to three hour movie truly hold the vastness and complexity of Old Man’s War?

I mean, yeah. It’s a pretty speedy story in that first book. And as to the rest of the universe of the series, if the first OMW movie works and people watch it and like it (hint, hint), we can have sequels. There are six books! We have lots to work with.

Who is going to be in the film? You should get [insert favorite filmmaker/actor here]!

Whoa, there. This is the development announcement, where we announce the studio (Netflix) and the producers (Jon Shestack Productions and Madhouse Entertainment). Now that we’re all on board with making the movie, we’ll start putting all the puzzle pieces together. Don’t worry; when we pick folks, we’ll probably do follow-up announcements.

Hey, wasn’t Old Man’s War in development as a movie, and a TV series, before?

Indeed it was. It was in development at Paramount for a while as a movie, and then at Syfy as a TV series.

What happened?

It just didn’t work out. Both times, really smart folks did a really excellent job and tried to make it happen, but the entertainment industry is what it is, and the stars didn’t align.

But this time will be different!

Well, yes, I hope so. It would be nice. I think we have the studio and producers to make it happen.

How long has this been percolating?

I got the rights to OMW back in the summer. We fielded pitches and offers and then in October, while I was out in California, I had a meeting with the producers. After that it was just waiting on contracts.

Man, lawyers, am I right?

In this case, I’m a big fan of lawyers. Mine (Matt Sugarman) has done very well by me. As has my film/TV agent, Joel Gotler, and my book agent Ethan Ellenberg has been part of this particular brain trust, too. It takes a village to make a good deal.

How involved will you be in the production?

As the article linked above notes, I’m an executive producer on the movie, so I’m pretty substantially involved. Which is nice! I have opinions, you know. I’m going to share them.

So can I have a job?

You’ll have to go through official channels.

You’re an executive producer! You’re an official channel!

Yes, but not that official channel.

Okay, well, can I give you this script of something entirely unrelated?

No.

Hollywood’s changed you, man.

It always does.

So, this is great, but what I really want is a film/TV version of [insert another book/story I wrote here].

I have a number of things in various stages of development, only one other of which (The Collapsing Empire) is currently public knowledge. When/if those other projects get to public knowledge stage, trust me, I’ll be talking about them. Just like this, in fact.

I will say that it’s an exciting time to be me, and that with the projects currently in play, I’m lucky to be working with some incredible people. I feel very fortunate that this gets to be my life. And today, I feel particularly fortunate that we’re working to get this Old Man’s War movie to you.

Arrrrgh I can’t wait HELP ME.

Well, there are the books. And Old Man’s War itself is just newly released in a delightful pocket-sized hardcover edition! Which, by the way, if you order from Jay and Mary’s Book Center through this Sunday, I will happily sign and personalize for you (along with any other book of mine you buy).

I see how you dropped an ad for yourself in there, Scalzi.

Yes, well. I’ve got bills, folks.

I have other questions or comments!

That’s what the comment thread is for. Note I’m on deadline (uuuhh, an actual deadline, not just the entertainment news site), so responses might not be immediate. But I’ll get in there.


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acdha
39 days ago
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Oooooh…
Washington, DC
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hansolosays
39 days ago
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I really liked that book... hopefully they can do it justice
Norfolk, Virginia
Ferret
39 days ago
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Woooo!

Everybody Lies: FBI Edition

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You, dear readers, know my advice about talking to the FBI: don't. If the FBI — or any law enforcement agency — asks to talk to you, say "No, I want to talk to my lawyer, I don't want to talk to you," and repeat as necessary. Do not talk to them "just to see what they want." Do not try to "set the facts straight." Do not try to outwit them. Do not explain that you have "nothing to hide."

Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up.

This advice is on my mind of late what with two former Trump folks — George Popadopouluos and Michael Flynn — pleading guilty to the federal crime of lying to the FBI.

Plenty of people agree with me. Sometimes, though, I hear different advice. Sometimes I hear this:

No. Or more accurately: no, unless you have first prepared exhaustively with an attorney.

This is not a casual conversation about who took a bite out of the roll of cookie dough in the fridge. This is serious complicated stuff, and your whole life hangs in the balance. Platitudes aside, going into a law enforcement interview armed only with the attitude "I'll just tell the truth" is poor strategy.

Here's why.

No offense, but you may be a sociopath. If the FBI wants to interview you, it's possible you're some kind of Big Deal — a politician or a general or a mover and shaker of some description. If you're kind of a big deal, there's a significant possibility you're a sociopath. You really don't know how to tell the truth, except by coincidence. You understand what people mean when they say "tell the truth" but to you it's like someone saying you should smile during the interview. Really? Well, I'll try, I guess, if I remember. You've gotten to be a big deal by doing whatever is necessary and rather routinely lying. It may be difficult for you to focus and remember when you are lying because lying feels the same as telling the truth. If someone shoved me onto a stage and said to me, "look, just hit the high C cleanly during the solo," I could take a real sincere shot at it, but I wouldn't really know what I was doing. If you think you can go into an FBI interview and "just tell the truth," when it's not something you're used to doing, you're deluding yourself. You're not going to learn how in the next five minutes.

You're almost certainly human. There's a commandment about not bearing false witness. But rules don't become commandments because they're really easy to follow. They become commandments because we — we bunch of broken hooting apes — are prone to break them. Everybody lies. Humans lie more under pressure. FBI agents are trained in two dozen ways to ratchet up the pressure on you without getting out of their chair — verbal, nonverbal, tone, expression, pacing, subject changing, every trick that any cop ever used in the box. You're only human. Unprepared, you will likely lie. Smart people, dumb people, ditchdiggers and neurosurgeons, lawyers and accountants, the good and the bad, they all lie. Usually they lie about really stupid things that are easily disproved. I'm not making a normative judgment here; surely it would be nice if we didn't lie. I'm making a descriptive statement: humans lie. Saying "I'll just go in and tell the truth" is like saying "I'll just start being a good person." Well, good luck. Look, you admit to being fallible in other respects, right? You admit sometimes you're unkind when you're tired, or sometimes you drink or eat more than you know you should, or sometimes you procrastinate, or sometimes you have lust in your heart? What makes you think you're infallible about telling the truth?

Dumbass, you don't even know if you're lying or not. When an FBI agent is interviewing you, assume that that agent is exquisitely prepared. They probably already have proof about the answer of half the questions they're going to ask you. They have the receipts. They've listened to the tapes. They've read the emails. Recently. You, on the other hand, haven't thought about Oh Yeah That Thing for months or years, and you routinely forget birthdays and names and whether you had a doctor's appointment today and so forth. So, if you go in with "I'll just tell the truth," you're going to start answering questions based on your cold-memory unrefreshed holistic general concept of the subject, like an impressionistic painting by a dim third-grader. Will you say "I really don't remember" or "I would have to look at the emails" or "I'm not sure"? That would be smart. But we've established you're not smart, because you've set out to tell the truth to the FBI. You're dumb. So you're going to answer questions incorrectly, through bad memory. Sometimes you're going to go off on long detours and frolics based on entirely incorrect memories. You're going to be incorrect about things you wouldn't lie about if you remembered them. If you realize you got something wrong or that you may not be remembering right, you're going to get flustered, because it's the FBI, and remember even worse. But the FBI would never prosecute you for a false statement that was the result of a failed memory, right? Oh, my sweet country mouse. If you had talked to a lawyer first, that lawyer would have grilled you mercilessly for hours, helped you search for every potentially relevant document, reviewed every communication, inquired into every scenario, and dragged reliable memory kicking and screaming out the quicksand of your psyche.

You have no idea what you're telling the truth about. Look, you think that you can prepare to tell the truth. But at best you can prepare to tell the truth about something you know about and expect and understand. So let's say I know I'm going to be asked about whether I'm an ass on Twitter. I'm ready to come clean. I am definitely an ass on Twitter. But I get in there and the agent is all, "Mr. White, isn't it true that in October 1989 you accidentally hit on a major news anchor when you saw her from behind at the copy machine and thought she was another intern at CBS and so you sidled up for a full-on 'how YOU doin" and then she turned around and you saw who it was and you stammered something and spent several hours in the stairwell?" See, I was not mentally and emotionally prepared to tell the truth1 about that. So we're off to the races. I went in with the best of intentions, I got sandbagged with something completely unexpected, I panicked like the grubby little human that I am, and I lied.

You can't even talk properly. If you're an attorney and you need to prepare someone for testimony, you know: we're a bunch of vague, meandering, imprecise assholes. We talk like a water balloon fight, sort of splashing the general vicinity of the answer. We don't correct questions with inaccurate premises that don't matter, we generalize and oversimplify and summarize and excerpt and use shorthand that only exists in our heads, and we do this all day every day in casual conversation. A huge amount of conversation goes on between the words and by implication. If I'm walking past your office and ask "did you eat?" I don't need to vocalize that I mean did you eat lunch and if not would you like to go to lunch. You can respond "I have a meeting" and I will understand that you mean you understand and acknowledge that I'm asking you to lunch but you are unable to go. Huge parts of our conversations are like that. Usually it doesn't matter. But if you can get charged with a federal crime if something you say is, taken literally, not true, it matters like crazy. It takes training and an act of will to testify — to listen to the question, to ask ourselves if we know what the question means, to ask ourselves if we know the answer to that question and not some other question it makes us think of, and to give a precise answer that directly answers the question. So not only do you have to go into that FBI interview and tell the truth — you have to be prepared for a level of precision and focus that you almost never use in your day-to-day communications.

You don't know if you're in trouble. You say "I'll just go and tell the truth." Well, if you mean "I'll just go confess to anything I've done wrong and take the consequences," that's one thing. But if you mean "I'll just tell the truth because I've done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide," you're full of shit. You don't know if you've done something wrong yet. Do you know every federal criminal law? Have you applied every federal criminal law to every communication and meeting and enterprise you've engaged in for the last five years? "But . . . but . . . the FBI said they just wanted to talk about that meeting and there was nothing wrong with that meeting." Dumbass, you've got incomplete information. Not only do you not know if there was anything wrong about that meeting, you don't know if that's what they'll ask about. If you're saying "I'll talk to them because I have nothing to hide," you are not making an informed choice.

Everybody lies. Especially the FBI. Look, mate: the FBI gets to lie to you in interviews. They can lie to you about what other people said about you. The can lie to you about what they've seen in your emails. They can lie to you about what they can prove. They can lie to you about what they know. Authority figures barking lies at you can be confusing and upsetting and stressful. Our brain says "I didn't do that thing but they say they have emails so maybe did I do that thing or sort of that thing?" Many people react by blurting out more or less random shit or by panicking and lying. Do you have what it takes not to do that? Better be sure.

Remember: the FBI wins nearly any way. Confess to a crime? They got your confession. Lie? They almost certainly know you lied, and already have proof that your statement is a lie, and now they've used the investigation to create the crime.

The answer is to shut up and lawyer up. A qualified lawyer will grill you mercilessly and help you make an informed rational choice about whether to talk. Then, if you decide to talk, the lawyer will prepare you exhaustively for the interview so you can spot the pressure tactics and interrogation-room tricks, and so you will have refreshed your memory about what the truth is.

Your best intentions to tell the truth are a thin shield.

Copyright 2017 by the named Popehat author.
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acdha
41 days ago
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Washington, DC
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Court to Police: Nope, Sometimes “Fleeing” Is Just Jogging

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In July 2010, two police officers were patrolling Golden Gate Park here in San Francisco when they noticed someone standing in a place known as “Hippie Hill.”

It strikes me that I could probably just stop there.

And yet, I continue. This is not just a local nickname, or at least not anymore. “Hippie Hill” is the official name of the place. Having said that, it may not surprise you to learn that, apparently, the area is said to be known to law enforcement as one in which drug-related activity occurs. Indeed, our two heroes had made “numerous narcotics arrests there,” according to the opinion, although because the legal term “narcotics” ridiculously includes marijuana, make of that what you will. What? You located someone buying a joint near Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco? Excellent work, Sergeant—or should I say, Detective?

So, they see this guy on the hill. It’s about 8 a.m. He is wearing gray pants, and a fleece jacket. He is also wearing running shoes. The officers notice the man has a “clean-cut look,” and is “by himself, not talking to anyone, [has] nothing in his hands, and [is] not doing anything specific to arouse suspicion.” But the officers later testified that they thought he looked “worried,” and so they “decided to initiate a consensual encounter” with this citizen.

This is something that police are free to do, just like anyone else can. It may seem (and certainly sounds) a little ominous, even if it’s not Roy Moore doing it. But the Fourth Amendment isn’t implicated unless someone’s actually being “detained.” It is not always clear, of course, that you are free to walk away, so sometimes it depends. But you are, in fact, free to walk away from a “consensual encounter” with police. You are also free to run away from it, although that really may not be a good idea.

But that’s what happened here. Twice. On the hill, the man “looked back briefly in their direction and then began running. With their suspicions aroused,” the officers decided to pursue. They called for backup. They set up a “perimeter.” They saw the now-suspect individual take off his jacket, which they interpreted as an attempt to change his appearance and evade them. They followed him down what they described as a “dark trail” that had a “cave-like appearance.” One of them drew his gun, “not because of any specific threat, but because of ‘fear of the unknown.'” Eventually, they encountered the suspect, now walking. One shouted at him to stop, and said “I will shoot you!” He ran.

The opinion doesn’t say, but I’m going to speculate that the suspect was white, because he is not dead.

The man later testified that he was just out running when he paused for a rest on the hill, and then continued his run without any inkling the police were now in hot pursuit. He took off his jacket because he’d been running for an hour and was hot, not because he was trying to escape. (A fleece jacket in July!? July in San Francisco, genius—it was 62 degrees, and at 8 a.m. in GGP almost certainly foggy.) Did he run when he heard somebody yell “I will shoot you”? He sure did. But he surrendered peacefully when he encountered another officer on the “perimeter.” They found no contraband on him, in his jacket, or in his car, which was parked in the area. They did, however, find a gun in the car.

He had a gun because he was a police trainee.

In one of the more humorous judicial footnotes I’ve seen recently, the court noted that although one of the officers testified the man’s “clean-cut look” was “consistent with someone who was a recent parolee,” on cross-examination he “admitted [the man]’s appearance was also consistent with that of a recent graduate of the police academy.”

Anyway, notwithstanding the complete lack of evidence and the fact they had just detained a police officer (trainee), they arrested him. A blood sample showed no trace of “narcotics.” But, after six hours in custody, he was cited for “resisting or delaying an officer” (!) and then released. Two days later, he was fired for “misconduct,” thus “ending his career as a San Francisco police officer and effectively disqualifying him” from any other law-enforcement position anywhere.

Lawsuit? Oh yes. Trial? Yes. Verdict? For the plaintiff. Judgment? $575,000, plus $2 million in attorney’s fees (awarded under a state civil-rights statute). Appeal? Sure, why not.

But the Ninth Circuit had little trouble finding that the officers had no “reasonable suspicion” to detain the guy in the first place and no probable cause for an arrest. While some of the facts were disputed, and there were a couple of oddities about those facts, it seems about as clear as it ever gets that there was no probable cause here. That’s what the jury found, after all. (As the court put it, the jury believed the officers were “embellishing.” I personally enjoyed the “cave-like appearance” of an outdoor trail in Golden Gate Park during the daytime.)

And even if he knew the police were there, the court pointed out, he was entitled to walk away, or even to run, because “not every effort to avoid an encounter with police warrants detention.” (Or death, the court happily did not need to add here.) The court summed it up pretty well by saying that “Officer Brandt chased down and trained a weapon on a running man about whom he knew virtually nothing except that this was someone who had the temerity to try to elude capture.” Now the city is $2.575 million poorer. (I guess I have to help pay that now, but fine.)

In short, the guy shouldn’t have run, but running ain’t probable cause. Sometimes, it’s just jogging.

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acdha
46 days ago
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“the court noted that although one of the officers testified the man’s “clean-cut look” was “consistent with someone who was a recent parolee,” on cross-examination he “admitted [the man]’s appearance was also consistent with that of a recent graduate of the police academy.””
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