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Allen Varney
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Lives in Ithaca, New York
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Allen Varney

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"Popular victories like today's are so unusual that three Congressional committees are investigating how this happened." (Huffington Post):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/26/net-neutrality-fcc-vote_n_6761702.html
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to approve strong net neutrality rules in a stunning decision that defies vocal, months-long opposition by telecom and cable companies and Republicans on Capitol Hill. Democratic C...
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The lobbyist want there money back
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Allen Varney

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If Disney princesses were depicted with historical accuracy. (Buzzfeed):

http://www.buzzfeed.com/eugeneyang/if-disney-princesses-were-historically-accurate
What would your favorite Disney princesses have actually looked like IRL?
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Allen Varney

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I should never be surprised when Wikipedia covers, in authoritative detail, some trifling pop-culture sketch from decades past.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ti_Kwan_Leep

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boot_to_the_Head
Ti Kwan Leep is a sketch comedy recording by the Canadian comedy troupe The Frantics. It appears on their 1987 album Boot to the Head. In the skit, an Eastern martial arts master starts off his class by explaining the basic philosophy of a fictional martial art called "Ti Kwan Leep" (take one ...
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I loved the Four on the Floor TV show but only listened to the radio show a few times.
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"Never let it be said that Sony lacks the courage of its convictions. The company that introduced the $1,200 Walkman at CES last month is now preparing to release its perfect companion: a 64GB microSD card engineered for better sound quality. It's difficult to fathom how the transfer of digital information could ever be made more silent, but Sony's internal measurements have shown its audiophile-friendly memory card producing less electrical noise when reading data.

"Costing a cool ¥18,500 (roughly US$155), the SR-64HXA is a Class 10 microSDXC card, the likes of which Sony already sells for a more reasonable $90 in Japan. If you are willing to go with Samsung, that price falls to $50, and if you're buying from the US, you could get the same amount and speed of storage for just over $30. Of course, only Sony's new card is emblazoned with the golden-lettered 'for Premium Sound' tagline." (The Verge):

http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/19/8068465/sony-memory-card-premium-sound-sr-64hxa
Never let it be said that Sony lacks the courage of its convictions. The company that introduced the $1,200 Walkman at CES last month is now preparing to release its perfect companion: a 64GB...
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Tim, that's half of it. The other is those standalone CD recorders (remember those?) required them. http://www.cdrfaq.org/faq05.html#S5-12

Pretty pointless in a computer.
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"While ‘assigned’ to the US military base at Guantánamo Bay, longtime Chicago detective and US Naval reservist Richard Zuley led one of the most brutal interrogations ever conducted at the prison. 'I've never seen anyone stoop to these levels,' a former Marine Corps prosecutor said. [...] Several of those techniques – prolonged shackling, threats about family, pressure to confess – used by Zuley bear similarities to those he enacted when he took over the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi at Guantánamo, described in official government reports and a best-selling memoir serialised last month by the Guardian as one of the most brutal in the history of the notorious US wartime prison. After Zuley took over in July 2003, Slahi was subjected to even more extreme interrogation tactics: multiple death threats, extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation and a terrifying nighttime boat ride in which he was made to believe that worse was in store. [...]

"Mark Fallon, the former deputy commander of Guantánamo’s now-shuttered investigative task force for the military commissions, said Zuley’s interrogation of Slahi 'was illegal, it was immoral, it was ineffective and it was unconstitutional.' When Zuley took over the Slahi interrogation in 2003 -- his name has gone widely unreported -- he designed a plan so brutal it received personal sign-off from then-US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld." (Guardian):

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/18/guantanamo-torture-chicago-police-brutality
Exclusive: Long-time detective Richard Zuley’s tactics exported from Chicago to Guantánamo Bay as minority Americans allege abuse and coercion
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"The chances of a 35-year or longer 'megadrought' striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists from NASA, Columbia University, and Cornell University report in a study published Thursday in the new open-access journal Science Advances. If countries reduce their emissions to current 'middle of the road' targets, the chances of a megadrought hitting the Great Plains drop to between 60 and 70 percent. But they remain nearly 80 percent for the Southwest. [...]

"In their study, Cook's team used 17 computer models of droughts and three models of soil moisture to predict the likelihood of dryness over the next century. After they found a high degree of agreement among the models, they applied them to data gathered from tree rings going back to about the year 1000. They found that the megadrought that struck the region in the 1100s and 1200s -- which has been tied to the decline of the ancient Pueblo peoples, or Anasazi, of the Colorado Plateau -- was likely not as severe as the one expected in the near future. 'Even when selecting for the worst megadrought-dominated period, the 21st-Century projections make the megadroughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden.''" (National Geographic):

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-megadrought-southwest-water-climate-environment/
A severe drought likely to hit the U.S. Southwest and Great Plains by the end of the century will be worse than even the historic droughts of the Middle Ages.
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In Australia the warmer climate has already seriously altered the polar vortices, with the result that all the rain that used to fall on the fertile SW tip of Western Australia is now falling on Antarctica.   They've emptied all the aquifers (literally - there are photos of scientists walking in them), and continued inhabitation of the area at current levels is in doubt without serious engineering mega-projects to divert water from the north coast or massive desalination projects.
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Have him in circles
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Allen Varney

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More from The Awl writer Alex Balk's ongoing serialized suicide note. "Consider this: Christmas was two months ago. How many horrible lives have you lived in the nine weeks since Christmas? And yet what have you done with all that time? If you had planned something as simple as spending an evening in to read a magazine, no sooner would you have turned the first couple of pages over to find that it was somehow nearly midnight and the lids of your eyes were growing heavy and insistent you draw down the shades on the day. But at eight you had gotten yourself all settled in on your couch, fully prepared to devote all your attention to the issue at hand. What happened? How did you get distracted? Asked to account for your time in a court of law or before some other organ of judgment, the best you could do would be to mutter under your breath about keeping up with the cultural conversation, but you yourself would not even know nor could you accurately account for those hours. This relentless onslaught has reversed our very experience of life’s passing, in that we now live in a world where the days go by so quickly but the years take forever. It’s why I have to laugh when well-intentioned people tell me that life is short and I should savor every minute of it. Really? In what world? May is two months from now, and we will all die a thousand deaths between now and then and it probably won’t even get all that much warmer. Brevity is as illusory as the idea that there might ever be some respite from the chronic cacophony that floods through every crack and crevice of our existence. It’s always on and it is never quiet and it never lets you forget just how terrible everything is and how much worse it is all getting." (The Awl):

http://www.theawl.com/2015/02/getting-ahead-of-ourselves-hahaha-get-it-ugh-sorry
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Allen Varney

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show of Bollywood. Wonder if the audience throws toilet paper at the screen. "A Mumbai cinema has reversed its decision to stop screening an iconic Bollywood movie after a 20-year run following an outcry from fans. The cinema, Maratha Mandir, will now continue to show the film just days after it stopped showing it, saying it was no longer commercially viable. The cinema said it received hundreds of calls from broken hearted fans within hours of deciding to end the run.

"Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, a romantic drama, was first shown in October 1995. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge translates as 'The Brave-Hearted Will Take The Bride' and is popularly known as DDLJ. It follows two Indians living in Britain and the obstacles they face as they fall in love. Featuring Indian stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, the movie is one of the most popular in Bollywood history. [...] The two expats featured in the story fall in love on a trip to mainland Europe, despite the betrothal of the female lead to a man in India. But eventually they manage to convince their families to allow the union to go ahead.

"With its uninterrupted 1,009-week run, DDLJ trounced all other Bollywood records for long-running films. It is so well known that US President Barack Obama quoted one of its lines during a speech in India last month." (BBC):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-31583782
A Mumbai cinema will continue to show the iconic Bollywood movie, DDLJ, just days after it stopped screenings saying it was no longer commercially viable.
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Such a great, silly movie!
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Allen Varney

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"The proposed Tusayan and Escalade developments are unprecedented, says Dave Uberuaga, superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park: 'These two projects constitute the greatest threat to the Grand Canyon in the 96-year history of the park.'" (Smithsonian):

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/who-can-save-the-grand-canyon-180954329/
A holy war is being fought over a proposal to build a $500 million commercial development, on the rim of America's natural treasure
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The Superfish man-in-the-middle adware that Lenovo secretly installed on all its laptops (through this past January) is ridiculously insecure. This security blogger cracked the certificate and found the password ("komodia") stored in plaintext in the file itself. "komodia," all lowercase letters, no numbers, no punctuation -- the name of the company that provided the spyware.
 
I extracted the certificate from the SuperFish adware and cracked the password ("komodia") that encrypted it. I discuss how down below. The consequence is that I can intercept the encrypted communications of SuperFish's victi...
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Here's a site that checks whether your browser is infected with Superfish:  https://filippo.io/Badfish/
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"Gene Colan was no stranger to drawing pretty perfect panels, but he honestly could not have nailed this one better. I mean, between Larry’s sad-sack face that still has those good cheekbones, and Amy in a pose that could not be more obviously indicative of wanting this dude to get the hell out of her office so she can go back to dishing out advice to actual paying customers, there is so much to love here. Just look at the tension in her hand! She could not hate him and his stupid beautiful face any more than she already does!" (Comics Alliance):

http://comicsalliance.com/love-hurts-the-listening-heart-thinks-your-feelings-are-stupid-1965/
In honor of Valentine's Day, ComicsAlliance puts a spotlight on terrible advice columnist Amy Ames and DC Comics' Secret Hearts #105.
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At age 18, while working as a song plugger in Tin Pan Alley, George Gershwin published his first instrumental composition, the piano rag "Rialto Ripples" (1916). Though Gershwin was not quite a wunderkind on the scale of Mendelssohn or Mozart -- his first big hit, "Swanee," was still two years away -- "Rialto Ripples" already shows touches of genius in the bluesy harmonies and the impish discords in the second bridge section (starting at 3:43). Maybe you won't see much in this bouncy trifle; then again, maybe after not thinking about it for 20+ years, you'll hear "Rialto Ripples" running through your awakening mind on two consecutive mornings. Trust me, it happens.

Gershwin's own piano roll recording of "Rialto Ripples" is a bit sloppy; he always did like to improvise. This recording by William Bolcom is suitably strident yet precise. This link goes to the tune itself, third of three cuts from Bolcom's Piano Music of George Gershwin (Nonesuch, 1973). Jump back to the start to hear Gershwin's spectacular virtuosic arrangement of "I Got Rhythm" from George Gershwin's Song Book (1932).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cTkuyhuAVE#t=144
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Writer and game designer based for many years in Austin, Texas; currently in Ithaca, New York.
Introduction
I've designed three published board games, the PARANOIA roleplaying game (2004 edition), and two dozen tabletop RPG supplements, and have written eight books. I co-wrote (with Warren Spector and Alex Duran) the original 300-page design document for the Nintendo Wii videogame Epic Mickey. Many major companies have commissioned Enspire Learning to run my business leadership simulation Executive Challenge. I wrote and packaged official PARANOIA novels under my own imprint, Ultraviolet Books. Currently I run a small bundle site, the Bundle of Holding.
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Survived as a freelance writer for over 20 years, a nontrivial challenge.
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Currently
Ithaca, New York
Previously
Austin, Texas - Topeka, Kansas - Cupertino, California - Reno, Nevada - Renton, Washington - Stone Town, Zanzibar - Cape Town, South Africa - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
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