Angry Robot

Nasa’s ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano

Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.

Yup! (thanks y)

Stephen Bannon Out at the White House After Turbulent Run

‘I don’t like to bother people,’ says man who drove himself to the ER with a nail in his heart

This guy is my hero

Apple readies $1B war chest for Hollywood programming

Trump’s Council of C.E.O.s in Disarray Following Remarks on Protest

Was just spouting off to y about how I expected all of his CEOs on advisory councils to have resigned by now, and at least that is in motion.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 80 million times, I need to seriously consider what the fuck is wrong with me.

Warning: disturbing (thanks, y)

Eastwatch

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 5

There was a lot going on in “Eastwatch”, it just wasn’t what I expected at all. The title seemed to point to a big battle at the eponymous Wall fort, which did not happen. Rather, we got a combination of intrigue and setup as the show lines up the final two episodes of the season.

The first big confounded expectation is that Jaime and Bronn were not captured after the cliffhanger (watersinker?) ending of last week’s episode, but washed downstream to safety. Jaime returns to King’s Landing to tell Cersei, “this isn’t a war we can win”, and to pass on the message that Oleanna killed Joffrey and not Tyrion.

Dany makes an offer to her remaining prisoners: serve her or die. Randyll and Dickon Tarly choose death, and are torched by Drogon, which upsets Tyrion, who was also visibly upset by the ashy horror of the post-conflict battlefield. Later, he commiserates with Varys over a… flagon of wine. Dany’s actions are either sadistic and mad kingish or perfectly understandable, or a bit of both.

Up in the Winterfell godswood, Bran wargs some ravens and spies upon the Army of the Dead, which is marching toward Eastwatch. He dispatches ravens to Dragonstone and Oldtown, where Sam overhears the Archmaesters’ waffling on the issue and urges them to somehow support the effort to fight the Night King. When their response is further waffling, he rage quits the Citadel, after raiding the library for some “forbidden” tomes, and narrowly missing a huge revelation: that Rhaegar annulled his marriage to Elia Martell before marrying Lyanna Stark, making Jon the true Targaryen heir.

When Jon gets Bran’s message, he wants to head north and fight. Dany won’t help because she can’t be sure Cersei won’t attack if she leaves. The Dragonstone war council (feat. Davos, Tyrion, Varys) arrives at an odd plan: if they can grab a wight and show Cersei that the threat in the north is real, perhaps they can cease hostilities for a spell and focus on the northern front.

To further this wacky scheme, Davos smuggles Tyrion into King’s Landing, where Davos recruits long lost rowing champ Gendry, and Bronn tricks Jaime into meeting his father-killing brother. Jaime brings the plan to Cersei, who seems surprisingly amenable. Also: she’s pregnant! So she says, anyway.

In Winterfell, it seems Littlefinger has found a Stark he can trick. Arya snoops on his apparently treacherous antics, culminating in her breaking into his room and stealing a scroll he had requested. But we see Littlefinger look on, stopping just short of twirling his moustache. The scroll contains the message Sansa sent ages ago, to brother Robb on Cersei’s behest claiming Ned betrayed Joffrey, and urging Robb to bend the knee. So Littlefinger’s plan is to turn Arya against Sansa, which is handy because Arya has already of her own accord accused Sansa of trying to usurp control of the north from Jon.

Phew!

The final scenes of the episode see Team Wight Extraction (Jon, Davos, Jorah, and Gendry) travel to Eastwatch, explain the plan to Tormund, and meet up with his new prisoners Beric, Thoros, and the Hound. They all have various reasons to hate each other, but they decide they’re all on the same side because, as Jon says, “we’re all breathing.” So Strike Team Wight adds four members, and all but Davos head through the gate into the snowy hell beyond the wall.

This episode strained credulity in some ways. The way the previous episode ended, it didn’t seem possible that Jaime would escape capture. Furthermore the plan to steal a wight and bring it to Cersei is outlandish at best. After all, is Cersei really in a position to attack Dany, with her army having been just destroyed? Thrones does this from time to time, though, and I’ve learned to just grin and bear it, as what is really happening is the show is moving so quickly it’s not spending the time to lay plot infrastructure, as that can eat up screen time with less interesting scenes. We could have had more scenes of Jaime and Bronn evading the dothraki, stripping off armour, etc, until But they chose to skip ahead, possibly for good reasons? Who knows, yet.

Initiate random point-form note mode!

  • Is Cersei really pregnant? Or perhaps just worried Jaime will switch allegiance from her to Tyrion. Having an heir certainly helps her cause seem, oh, 20% less lost.
  • the Jon & Drogon scene. Seems he has some dragonriding in his future. Ghost will be jealous – although Ghost’s been absent all season, getting a passing mention from Sansa that he’s still patiently waiting for Jon.
  • Despite the bizarre objectives, you have got to love Strike Team Wight. Some of the shows baddest asses are all about to fight together. Unfortunately, some of them are going to die. And “die” almost certainly means “come back as an ice zombie”. Start placing your bets, I guess.

Trump’s Business of Corruption – The New Yorker

North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say

Russia!

GTA5 and the problem of privilege

My high school is experimenting with games and education by having its (rich white male)students play Grand Theft Auto 5

Cycling to work: major new study suggests health benefits are staggering

We found that cycling to work was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying overall compared to commuting by car or public transport. Cycle commuters had a 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer at all.

To appease male fans, Doctor Who announces every Dalek will have visible penis

Beaverton

CBC Comedy is the worst crime against humour this country has ever committed

I’m a woman in computer science. Let me ladysplain the Google memo to you.

Manafort’s son-in-law met with federal investigators, sources say

This is a thing that can happen now…?! (thanks y)

How the CIA Came to Doubt the Official Story of JFK’s Murder 

A bunch of JFK files have been recently declassified and they paint a strange picture; not what you’d expect. However, many more are still secret and intelligence agencies are lobbying Trump to keep them so. (thanks y!)

L.A. — the city of traffic jams — finds a way to get people out of their cars

Spoiler: it’s LRT

The Spoils of War

Game of Thrones   Season 7   Episode 4

The literal spoils of war in this episode are the treasure and food supplies that Jaime is bringing from the just-defeated Highgarden to King’s Landing. But the episode spends much more time on things spoiled by war, like the Stark children and perhaps even Danaerys Targaryen’s soul. It ends with the biggest battle of the season so far: a Team Targ rout of the Lannisters so violent and furious that no character seemed safe.

The episode opens to some stage-setting: Jaime, Bronn and the Tarlys are supervising the transfer of Tyrell wealth from Highgarden to King’s Landing. Cersei has promised the Iron Bank payment in full of the Lannister debt with these spoils, and Iron Banker Tycho Nestoris is basically salivating at the prospect. He offers help, which may take the form of mercenary army The Golden Company. (Will they be deployed to the North?)

We decamp to Winterfell for a series of portentous scenes. Littlefinger offers his help, and a certain dagger, to Bran. By quoting Petyr’s signature line “chaos is a ladder” back to him, Bran puts Littlefinger on high alert. Arya returns, and outmaneuvers some Winterfell guards of below average intelligence and peripheral vision. She and Sansa have a rather morose reunion in the crypts, where both reflect on how their lives have been… Spoiled by War™. Arya meets Bran, who gives her the dagger. Sansa realizes that Arya’s “list” of people to kill is in fact real, which dismays her. And in a fabulous training scene between Arya and Brienne, Arya displays to the observing Littlefinger and Sansa that she’s now one of the deadliest people in Westeros. And she has an awesome cocky smirk the whole time.

Back on Dragonstone, Jon shows Danaerys the obsidian mines, in which children of the forest have carved a little pictorial about how the Children and First Men banded together to fight the White Walkers. This gives Jon – who like an earnest undergrad who’s Really Into The Environment Now, can’t stop going on about The Real Threat – an opportunity to go on about The Real Threat. Dany will help him, if he bends the knee; he doesn’t think northerners will accept a southern ruler. Dany asks: if he wants to save them, is his pride such a high price? (Guys, I have a solution to this problem that involves some knee bending and teaming up without any loss of face: ask me about Marriage!)

When Dany gets the bad news about how the war is going, she gets pissed at Tyrion and wants action. Jon gives lyrical advice about how the dragons are an inspiring symbol, of how she makes impossible things happen, but if she uses them to incinerate cities she’s just more of the same cruel rulers the people have always known. Offscreen, we can conclude, Dany arrives at a sort of compromise solution: inspire people by incinerating Lannister soldiers!

The episode closes with a 13 minute battle scene of epic scale. We learn from Randyll “Exposition” Tarly that the gold has made it through to King’s Landing but the army and the grain wagons are stretched thin. After a little scene about Dickon Tarly’s first impressions of war (back-stabby and stinky), a strange rumbling sound is sensed… the Dothraki horde. We get the build-up, the terrified anticipation, and then the horrifically violent clash. Dany and Drogon turn lines of soldiers to ash and obliterate the sitting duck supply train; the Dothraki whoop, leap and slash their way to a bloody victory. Bronn manages to get to the “scorpion” ballista and land a shot on Drogon, but it only wounds him. When Danaerys tries to take the bolt out, Jaime charges at her, but survives only when Bronn tackles him and the two plunge into the depths of the Blackwater.

It’s exciting, and it’s hard to know who to cheer for, and I thought first Bronn, then Drogon was for sure a goner – but perhaps most importantly the scene drives home the point of the episode. We had been seeing the damage war does in dialogue; now we see it in flame, ash and blood, seen through the eyes of Jaime, perhaps recalling the flame games of the Mad King he served; Bronn, running for his life yet more or less in his element, and Tyrion, watching from a safe distance but looking like he may regret the decision to turn on his family. Meanwhile Danaerys seems enraptured by fiery rage. Not a good look for her.

  • Bran. I said last time he went full wizard – perhaps it’s more like “on the spectrum”? I guess the idea is that Bran took over the Three Eyed Raven’s position and powers too early. It gave him theoretical omniscience, but also may have fried his brain a touch so that he says he’s not Bran, not anymore, fails to give the departing Meera an adequate goodbye, and fails to tell Arya to stab the scheming Littlefinger with the dagger he gives her.
  • Speaking of that dagger. When Bran asks Littlefinger if he knew whose it was, one possible answer could be Anton Checkov. I sense great things for you, little dagger, even if I don’t know what they are. Killing Littlefinger? Killing the Night King…?
  • Speaking of Littlefinger. He’s been trying to manipulate the Stark children, and failing. He hasn’t tried with Arya yet, but the look he gives her after seeing her fight means he surely will, and he may have more success.
  • After that royal torching, can we assume that all the Reach grain stores are now destroyed? What does that mean plot-wise? Certainly we would expect King’s Landing to be much less capable of withstanding a siege now. But will it have repercussions elsewhere? After seemingly-throwaway lines about food supply from Sansa (x2) and even Danaerys, my foreshadowing sense is tingling. Guess who had the foresight in the books (or rather, sample chapters) to buy up grain supply? Littlefinger.
  • I’m sure no one’s convinced by the cliffhanger ending that Jaime’s done for. But perhaps he will wind up a captive. It seems like a good opportunity for a Jaime/Tyrion scene.
  • Tealeaf-reading: next episode is titled “Eastwatch”. So the Army of the Dead will breach, or more likely bypass, the Wall next week. Dress warm!
  • Even more convoluted tealeaf-reading: from the preview for Eastwatch, Jon is back at Dragonstone. Yet recall that the second season 7 trailer, had scenes of Jon fighting White Walkers this season. So if he’s not fighting them at Eastwatch, my money’s on Winterfell at the end of the season, only three episodes away at this point. The only dramatic outcome of such a battle would be Winterfell… falling.

Apple Plans to Release a Cellular-Capable Watch

And all-new form factor. Making the watch an independent device would be a very good thing.

iPhone Pro? iPhone 8? iPhone Edition? iPhone UniBrow?

Whatever the new expensive iPhone is going to be called, because of Apple’s (surely accidental?) release of HomePod firmware, we now know 1. the rumoured edge-to-edge-with-unibrow screen is real, 2. its resolution, 3. it has some crazy infrared face-detector thing.

This has spawned some speculation about the UI on such a thing. Since the chinless design means it’s almost certain the bottom strip of the display will include space for a virtual home button, it would make sense if the navigation bar wound up there too. This would also be easier for big-phone users to reach.

Another issue is: does Apple embrace the notch or hide it? The leaked device icon implies that they will embrace the notch (have the status bar match the colour of the screen rather than the black of the notch). I dunno. It is rumoured to be an OLED screen like that in the Apple Watch and some Android phones, and in OLED screens black pixels are actually off, so they can match the bezel exactly.

The other thing is the crazy 3D face-reading camera. Presumably that means TouchID is out. But taken alongside Apple’s new and potentially yuuuuuuge ARKit, 3D sensing cameras could mean some amped-up AR jazz up in this piece. Sadly, as close as these long dreamed-of technologies get to reality, it just makes my brain skip ahead to Apple Glasses and how close those might be. Can never stop dreaming those dreamin’ dreams!

Canada’s jailhouse secret: Legally innocent prisoners are dying

Why in the hell do we, as a relatively progressive nation, have such shit jails? Also, why is this:

Prisoners awaiting trial accounted for 59 percent of the total number of inmates in provincial jails in 2015, up from 27 percent in 1995.