In the grand scheme of things, eight seconds doesn’t sound like much, especially in the context of a long documentary about a complex issue like gun control. But in the current highly-charged political environment, nothing is as simple as it might seem at first, and former TV news anchor Katie Couric is learning that lesson the hard way.
Couric, who worked at the Today Show and CBS News before becoming the global news anchor at Yahoo in 2013, co-produced the documentary Under the Gun with Stephanie Soechtig, and released it earlier this year. Last week, she and Soechtig came under fire for what critics have called selective editing.
At one point during the documentary, Couric asks representatives of the Virginia Citizens Defense League a question: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The VCDL members say nothing for approximately eight seconds as they look around the room, and then one answers.
This pause creates the impression that the gun-ownership advocates were stumped by Couric’s question and struggled to come up with a reply. But as the Washington Free Beacon pointed out last week, the VCDL insists that it answered her question immediately, and there’s an audio recording to prove it. In a statement, the group said:
The editors merged some ‘b-roll’ of our members sitting quietly between questions, followed by Katie asking the felon question. I have the audio of that entire interview and I know for an absolute fact that our members immediately jumped in to answer the question and did NOT just sit there quietly. To the person watching the video, it gave the intentionally false appearance of no one in our group having an answer.
After initially saying she stood behind the documentary, Couric issued a statement on Monday admitting that the pause was inserted after the fact, in an attempt to create a certain “dramatic effect.” Couric said she asked about the pause during an initial review of the documentary, but admitted she should have pushed harder. “I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously,” she said.
So why does a eight second pause in a documentary matter? In a nutshell, because it has given more ammunition to supporters of Donald Trump who argue that the media is biased against their cause and uses tricks to discredit them. In effect, Couric just provided them with some blockbuster evidence that this is in fact the case.
The point isn’t whether Couric or her partner actually inserted the pause in order to discredit gun-rights groups like the VCDL. It seems entirely likely that Soechtig used it for dramatic effect, just as she and Couric said she did. However, that won’t stop Trump and his supporters from arguing that it proves liberal bias.
As the Washington Post pointed out, Couric has been vocal in the past about how the media need to be harder on Trump, by pushing him on various topics. And yet, the Yahoo host has probably given at least as much help to Trump and his followers as any TV news channel, by providing him with evidence that the media conspiracy he keeps shouting about actually exists.
From 2007 to the end of 2015, the New York Daily News reports, the New York Catholic Conference, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, paid top Albany lobbyists more than $2.1 million to help block legislation, including the Child Victims Act, that would make it easier for victims of child sex abuse to seek justice.
If passed, the bill—a version of which is still pending—would change New York state law to allow a one-year window in which victims older than 23 could bring lawsuits against their abusers. (Such victims are restricted from suing under the current law.)
State records show that the conference, a group representing the bishops of the state’s eight dioceses, retained lobbyists to work on a number of issues associated with “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses.”
In addition to the Church’s own internal lobbyists, the conference retained Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Patricia Lynch & Associates, Hank Sheinkopf, and Mark Behan Communications.
Patricia Lynch’s involvement is of particular note: According to court filings in the corruption case against Sheldon Silver unsealed earlier this year, Lynch and the disgraced speaker carried on a longstanding, mutually beneficial affair.
Her involvement signaled a turning point in the legislation. From 2006 to 2008, the state Assembly passed four different version of the Child Victims Act, the Daily News reports. After PLA was hired in 2009, the measure was never voted on again.
In a letter to the judge in Silver’s case submitted late last year, John Aretakis, a former lawyer and an advocate for child sex abuse victims, specifically criticized the former speaker for obstructing reform as a result of his relationship with Lynch.
Lynch’s firm was paid $7,500 a month, the Daily News reports. The firm’s contract with the Catholic Conference was terminated not long after Lynch was identified as Silver’s mistress. Lynch said that contract ended by “mutual consent.”
The biggest near term threat to the stability of nations might not be climate change, terrorism, or nuclear war. It just might be robots—putting millions of people out of jobs. Where will they all go? There are only a few possibilities.
The widespread automation of jobs—millions and millions of jobs—is not a sci-fi theory, or just another marginal step in the normal evolution of human employment. It is a result of the advancement of computers and technology that could fundamentally throw our labor economy out of whack. Billionaires in Silicon Valley and Mike Bloomberg and labor unions across the world all agree that we need a plan. The problem is that we may see so many jobs being automated out of existence that there is no clear place for all the people whose jobs have been eliminated to go. The fast food workers and bank tellers and truck drivers 60,000 Foxconn workers being replaced with robots and touchscreens and driverless cars will not see equally obtainable employment in sufficient quantity pop up elsewhere. This is not just a cyclical change, which calls for newly unemployed workers to simply retrain and go into another field; it’s possible that automation will just eliminate a huge swath of jobs for good. And that is where the trouble starts.
The thing not to do is: nothing. If we do nothing, we could, in five or ten or fifteen years, be faced with tens of millions of lower and middle class workers who have recently become unemployed and who have no job prospects and for whom traditional job retraining is a farce, because jobs just don’t exist. If you think Americans are angry now, give that shit a try. There are three basic options:
A Universal Basic Income: This idea is catching on around the world, and many of its backers support it precisely as a way to mitigate the coming automation of so many jobs. Send everyone a check each month. Not a luxurious or lavish check, but enough to cover the bare basics of living. This would be expensive, but it might be politically possible and it would certainly be good at heading off social unrest, if we could afford it. It is one of the only plausible social welfare ideas that unites free marketeers (because it is a check rather than a government bureaucracy, and because it can be used to justify cutting other government programs) and socialists (because it is essentially socialism). Such cross-ideological appeal may be needed sooner rather than later.
Government Jobs: This is an idea that should already be happening. Political idiocy is the only reason it is not. Everyone everywhere of all political persuasions agrees that our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling. It needs trillions of dollars of work. Fortunately, such spending is really an investment in America—it will add to our prosperity in the long run to have functioning and well-maintained transportation systems and other infrastructure. Also, in a stroke of luck, it is incredibly cheap to borrow money right now. This is an unusually good time for the government to spend a great deal of money rebuilding our national infrastructure. This could create millions of jobs for people automated out of work, at least for a while. And the money would be well spent. We should do this no matter what. The downside is that at least many of the jobs would be temporary. But at least at their conclusion we would have functional infrastructure.
A Much Stronger Social Safety Net: If we don’t put a universal basic income in place, then we need to drastically strengthen our social safety net. Strong enough, that is, to hold the weight of millions of people who have been automated out of the work force. That means universal health care, stronger unemployment insurance, child care, affordable housing, and other programs that make long term unemployment livable. These can be targeted only at the unemployed, rather than at everyone, to make it more affordable, if necessary. This is also something we should already be working on. Those who say that the victims of technology will just use other technology to work in “the gig economy” need to support a social safety net in order to be intellectually honest. America is not currently equipped for an economy of people with no single stable employer.
Automation is such a powerful economic force because it can save corporations a lot of money, and corporations are essentially just sociopathic machines for making profits. Automation should raise corporate profits around the world. Corporations should prepare to give some of that money back in taxes to help support all the workers they just automated out of jobs.
Maybe our evolving economy will adjust and make space for all of these workers in technology or “the gig economy” or some other field that we haven’t even thought of yet. Or maybe we will just undergo a restructuring of the job market, leaving us with a higher unemployment rate for the long term. At the very least, we need to offer automated-out people a bridge to a better future. At most, we need to start planning for a new society.
All that money corporations are making will need to be shared. It’s the only way. If you think taking care of unemployed people is expensive, think about how much war costs.
At this rate, every Game of Thrones character will be dead by Episode 8. In the first half of this season, we’ve lost over a dozen reasonably important characters, as the showrunners prune George R.R. Martin’s overstuffed plots and cut a swelling budget. For the last two weeks, I’ve said that this will be the episode where major(-ish) characters stop dying, and I have been incredibly wrong. So I will offer no such prediction this time. Characters you love will die, because that is what Game of Thrones is now: A show where beloved characters die every week.
But before we predict who will die next, we must remember the fallen.
Last week’s casualties, in order of how good they were as characters: Summer, Hodor, The Three-Eyed Raven, unnamed Children of the Forest, Leaf, who sucked.
Who will die next, in order of how likely it is that they will die:
1. Lyanna Stark: This is the week of the Tower of Joy.
2. Lady Crane: I’d like to see Essie Davis stick around, so this would be a bummer if it happens. But the Faceless Men have more or less told Arya that she can either kill Crane or be killed herself, which makes this one seem like a no-brainer. Though I could also see Bianca being given to the Many-Faced God.
3. Loras Tyrell: My man was in rough shape the last time out. Yes, killing him would mean that Margaery would be less likely to sacrifice herself and do the whole walk of shame bit, but I could see Benioff and Weiss going all O. Henry with this one.
4. Walder Frey: Walder’s getting his in the next two, maybe three episodes. It’s just a question of who does it. With Brienne heading to the Riverlands, the Blackfish seems like a very good possibility.
5. Lancel Lannister: So help me god, if this twerp doesn’t die soon, I’m going to lose it.
Some stats in life matter. Some don’t. In the kill-or-be-killed world of Team Kirby Clash, the co-op mini-game in the upcoming 3DS side-scroller Kirby Robobot, your stamina, attack, recovery and team meteor stats matter. But the game’s got jokes and/or hidden profundity.
When you level up in the mini-game, the game mentioned upgrades to other stats that it isn’t really tracking. It told me at one point that my “rosiness” stat has increased.
Later, as you can see above, the game told me that my kindness had increased “(not that it matters.).” Technically, Kirby’s kindness doesn’t matter. Kindness doesn’t make him swing his sword more fiercely and recover health more easily.
This makes sense. Really, what good is kindness when you’re in a big battle against monsters?
And think about it: What can kindness get us in the conflicts we engage? What point is there to counting kindness? What reason is there to level it up?
We all know Kirby was cute. We know now that he also might be kind of a jerk. But who knew the pink puffball was so deep?
Claim: A video shows a giant alligator walking across a Florida golf course.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, May 2016]
This article reports what appears to be a gigantic alligator on a golf course in Florida. This being Florida, I can see where it might be true. However, this is one huge freakin’ alligator. If it were some kind of prank, I’d probably sleep better at night. What do you think? Is this real?
Origin:A video purportedly showing a giant alligator walking across a golf course in Florida appeared in May 2016:
Talk about a hazard! A giant alligator took a stroll across the fairway, making his way to the lake beside the third hole at Buffalo Creek Golf Club.
Golfer Charles Helms took the video at the Buffalo Creek Golf Club in Palmetto, Florida. While it has been shared by several credible news sources, such as Timeand The Guardian, many viewers were skeptical about the footage and claimed that it was a “CGI” alligator. However, the footage — like the alligator — is real. Course employee Wendy Schofield said that the enormous reptile frequents the golf course and has become the club’s unofficial mascot:
“People have heard that he is out here and that is all they want to see so they will bring spectators to ride so somebody can get a picture,” pro shop clerk Wendy Schofield told News 3. “He doesn’t bother anybody and they don’t bother him. …””
It is not uncommon to spot alligators roaming the golf courses in Florida. Another huge alligator earned fifteen minutes of social media fame when it strolled across a golf course in Englewood, Florida in March 2015:
The size of the alligator featured in the footage at Buffalo Creek Golf Club is unknown, but Schofield estimated that the animal could be up to sixteen feet long.
The largest alligator ever officially recorded in Florida measured 17 feet, 5 inches.
Every year, high school students and their parents spend much time, effort, and money on the college search. By comparison, they spend very little time focused on how they will spend their undergraduate years while in college. Yet a series of decisions that start the moment they secure their spot in the freshman class—from choosing a major and courses to finding internships—increasingly plays a much larger role in life after graduation than where someone goes to college.
For decades, the college degree had been the strongest signal of job readiness. Today there is a lot of noise interfering with that signal and employers question whether a traditional undergraduate education arms students with the soft skills needed in the workplace—problem solving, critical thinking, communications, and working in teams.
An analysis of millions of job ads by the workforce analytics firm Burning Glass found that those requiring a bachelor’s degree list more soft skills than technical skills among the set of requirements. What’s more, 20% of positions (excluding health care positions) also expect a certificate or a license for a particular technical skill. In other words, the degree might open the door for a job interview, but employers don’t trust it enough to validate that someone can actually do the job.
As a result, young adults no longer have as clear or straightforward a career path as previous generations did. Many end up drifting aimlessly through their third decade of life as I found while interviewing 752 young adults (aged 24-27) across the country for my book, There Is Life After College. According to a survey conducted for the book, twenty-somethings nowadays transition into adulthood in one of three ways: they’re either Sprinters, Wanderers, or Stragglers:
Sprinters (35% of the young adults surveyed) jump right into their career after college or are on a path to a successful launch after completing additional education.
Wanderers (32% of the young adults surveyed) take their time—about half of their twenties—to get their start in a career.
Stragglers (33% of the young adults surveyed) press pause and spend most of their twenties trying to get their start.
While we expect most graduates to find their way in life after college, Sprinters make up only about one-third of today’s graduates. The biggest difference between them and the two-thirds of students who struggle to launch after college is how Sprinters navigated their undergraduate years: 80% had at least one internship, 64% were sure of their major when they began, and 43% had less than $10,000 in student loan debt. (Note that the survey did not take family wealth or income into account, so some of these “Sprinters” could arguably have other advantages.)
You and Your Team Series
My interviews showed that students who drift through college with little direction are likely to become Wanderers afterwards. Half of Wanderers weren’t sure of their major when they entered college, and only 47% had an internship. After graduation, just one in five were employed in their field of study (compared to 97% of Sprinters).
Meanwhile, Stragglers often take off time from college or go part time. By their mid-twenties, 99% of them still haven’t earned a college degree. This shouldn’t be a surprise given that there are 12.5 million twentysomethings with some college credits and no degree, by far the largest share of adults who leave college short of a degree, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
So how can students and their parents, who are about to make one of the largest investments of their life in a college degree, ensure that there is a return on that investment?
For one, slow down the conveyor belt from high school into college. Too many students follow the herd and rush off to college because there is nothing else to do, and they subsequently become the Wanders and Stragglers. More students should consider deferring their college admission for a year to brush up on their academics, explore what truly interests them, and more fully consider their career options. The students I interviewed who took a gap year through a rapidly expanding constellation of providers, including AmeriCorps, BridgeEDU, and Global Citizen Year, reported that they were more comfortable with risk and more resilient.
Second, students shouldn’t mortgage their futures by taking on loans that will limit their career options after graduation. Students with high levels of debt end up taking jobs just to pay the bills. According to Gallup, most entrepreneurs owe less than $10,000 in student loans because any greater debt has a negative impact on the decision to start a business. Students have a wide variety of choices beyond the bachelor’s degree—associate’s degrees, occupational certificates, apprenticeships, industry certifications—that are the gateway to a significant proportion of the jobs of tomorrow that won’t be easily automated by robots. Most of those are “middle-skills jobs,” which demand more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. There are roughly 29 million of these jobs today. Some 11 million of them pay $50,000 or more a year, and 4 million pay $75,000 or more. Even though most people think of these as blue-collar jobs, nearly half of them are in office occupations.
It’s also unfortunate that community colleges are often viewed negatively. Many people who go to a four-year college—and often end up dropping out—would be much better off starting or even finishing at a two-year college. Community colleges offer critical building blocks for the modular degree of the future. Their small first-year classes and low cost allow students to explore careers and majors, all while earning valuable credits. Students and parents who have a wide variety of choices about where to go to college are beginning to take notice—25% of students from households earning $100,000 or more now attend community colleges, up from 12% five years ago.
Community colleges need not be only a building block to a bachelor’s degree—they can be an end in themselves. If you were to consider only the economic return on the credential, associate’s degrees pay off too and, in some cases, more than if students went on to get a bachelor’s degree. In Colorado, for instance, graduates with an associate’s degree in an applied field (think registered nurses and power transmission installers) earn on average around $41,000 a year after graduation, some $8,000 more than those with bachelor’s degrees (the media per capita income in Colorado is about $31,000).
No matter where students choose to go to college, once they’re actually on campus, they should chase after experiences—whether undergraduate research, study abroad, or internships—that will arm them with interpersonal skills. Diving deep into the toughest majors, courses, and activities provides the challenge to work hard and learn from the best professors and peers. Such experiences will provide the most thorough preparation for the challenges, complexity, and ambiguity of the work world after college.
Few corporations in EVE Online will ever have a reputation like Hard Knocks Inc. More than just a group of elite soldiers, they routinely infiltrate alliances, blow up their most prized assets, and steal everything that isn’t bolted down—and that’s just on a Monday. Their ranks are made of brigands, thieves, scammers, and all the other refuse that slowly filters out of the more upstanding corporations of EVE. But instead of falling into chaos, Hard Knocks have become a weaponized nightmare. If EVE Online is a sandbox, these are the players who like kicking down all the sandcastles. And now they’ve just finished building the biggest sandcastle the galaxy of New Eden has ever seen.
Last month, EVE Online released its latest update, Citadel, introducing indomitable new structures that pilots could build to better defend their space. Coming in three different sizes, these citadels are capable of dealing extreme damage against even the most coordinated invading fleet. Since Citadel’s release, Hard Knocks have made EVE Online history three times. First, they built the first Fortizar-class large citadels. Then they celebrated by blowing up someone else’s. And then, two weeks ago, they made history one more time when they announced the arrival of their Keepstar-class extra large citadel—the biggest structure in all of EVE Online at this time.
Welcome to Fort Knocks
Meet the Keepstar citadel (above), the first of its kind anywhere in New Eden. This monstrous fortress is 800,000 meters squared and is the only one in existence in EVE that we know of. It’s so large that titans, the massive supercapital ships of EVE, can safely dock within its bays. Along its outer hull lies eight slots where anti-capital ship weapons are fitted, waiting to gut anything that gets too close. The crown jewel is a devastating weapon of mass destruction, one of EVE Online’s “doomsday” weapons. With just the push of a button, Fort Knocks fires a beam of energy that bounces between ships, obliterating an entire armada in one fell swoop. Fort Knocks isn’t just a weapon, it’s practically an entire city, and it took Hard Knocks trillions of ISK (EVE’s currency) and months of planning to build.
Jerzii Devil is a senior director within Hard Knocks, but he also has a long history of corporate theft under his belt. When I ask him about why Hard Knocks felt like they needed an extra large citadel, he laughs. “We absolutely don’t need one, this is just a penis-waving contest here,” he says. “We just decided to build one because, why not?”
He tells me that Hard Knocks’ road to owning the first Keepstar citadel started all the way back in the spring of 2015 when EVE Online’s developer, CCP Games, first announced it would be adding the new structures. Plans began in earnest in November of 2015 through to January of 2016, when more details on citadels were becoming public. With only months until they would be officially launched and available to the citizens of New Eden, the race to be the first was on.
The road to citadels
“Early on we decided money wouldn’t be the issue. We have all these older members, and they’re all very rich,” Jerzii says. But that didn’t stop the alliance from hesitating to drop the 700 billion ISK required to purchase the blueprint needed to manufacture the Keepstar. For reference, EVE Online’s largest battle, , cost an estimated 11 trillion ISK. For an even better reference, EVE Online’s monthly subscription can be sold in-game as an item for 900 million ISK and costs $20 USD. That implies that the estimated value of the Keepstar is around $15,000.
If money wasn’t a problem, however, manufacturing sure was. Being some of the biggest badasses in EVE Online had its downsides, like not welcoming pacifistic industrialists that many alliances rely on for income and wealth. For the first time in their history, Hard Knocks either needed to become the pilots that they so mercilessly slaughtered or, as Jerzii tells me, they could just find someone to do it for them. “We had to find a builder,” he says. “We had a few possible people who might be able to build it for us, and eventually we got referred to this one guy. It seemed legit at first.”
The arrangement was simple. Hard Knocks would pay this builder to create their Keepstar citadel for them, letting him handle the logistical nightmare of putting together EVE’s equivalent of a Death Star while they stuck to what they were good at. It seemed like a good deal until a defector from the builder’s group turned coat and had some interesting news for Hard Knocks. “The group he belonged to ended up imploding and we gained a few of their members. That’s when we found out that his plan was to basically dick us over and lead us on while he was building his own citadel. That way he could stop us from building ours while he built his first.”
Unwilling to trust anyone else, Jerzii and Hard Knocks knew that if they were going to build EVE Online’s first Keepstar, they were going to need to do it themselves. They bought the Keepstar blueprint and made plans to start building. , Hard Knocks member Noobman detailed the extensive effort required to gather the construction materials necessary: “I had 18 builders with 180-200 [construction jobs] needing [blueprint copies] every 3-4 days. I had 4-5 private [blueprint copy] makers producing constantly for me as well.”
Hard Knocks was becoming an industrial powerhouse.
But now they had a new problem: gathering the staggering amount of resources needed to even begin production. “It was about three months until Citadel launched at this point,” Jerzii says. “We were never going to fill the kind of demand we had to build a citadel before they launch.” He tells me that himself, Noobman, and others placed characters within New Eden’s most popular trade hubs, aggressively buying up all the materials they could. Elsewhere, other Hard Knocks pilots had given up their murderous ways to focus on aiding in other efforts, like manufacturing, hauling resources, and other logistical tasks.
Hard Knocks began stockpiling resources and manufacturing on March 16th and by April 19th they had finally built the entirety of the components necessary for their Keepstar. On April 27th, when the Citadel update went live, Hard Knocks ferried hundreds of components and the blueprint to a station in high-security space, and began to assemble the Keepstar. Twenty days later, it was finished. But Hard Knocks now faced an even greater challenge. How the were they going to get the damn thing back home?
Hard Knocks’ home system is called “Rage.” This star system has no strategic or economic value. Its planets are mostly barren, its moons not abundant in valuable resources. It’s the kind of place that most wouldn’t think twice about revisiting, and Hard Knocks has transformed it into the closest thing EVE Online has to hell—a bastion full of murderous thugs armed to the teeth and ready to tear apart any pilot that might stumble in. And even worse, no one even knows how to find Rage. In most cases, Rage finds them.
In EVE Online, each star system is connected by stargates that lead to neighboring systems, forming a vast tangle of pathways players can use to travel the galaxy of New Eden. They are strategic chokepoints, and it’s not uncommon for stargates to be the center of EVE’s epic battles. But around 4,000 star systems aren’t connected by stargates at all. Instead, unstable wormholes stitch them together with the known universe for brief periods of time before collapsing and reopening with a brand new connection. This is where Hard Knocks calls home.
“Every day it’s a new world,” Jerzii Devil tells me. He describes life for a normal EVE pilot living in a region of space: “It’s the same map, same enemies, same people passing through—it can get pretty stagnant.” In wormhole space, however, every day new connections are made and broken with any of the thousands of star systems of New Eden. And for one unlucky system, each day they wake up to find Rage on their doorstep. But right now, that unpredictable nature of Rage was a curse.
“At one point we talked about building [the Keepstar] directly in Rage,” Jerzii says. “But the directors were like, no way, we’re not risking putting that much money in our system.” So instead they opted to build the Keepstar in the safety of high-security space where space stations couldn’t be destroyed by anyone trying to stop them. Once the Keepstar was in transit, that was a different story. There was little they could do to prevent someone from blowing up one of their freighters if they were determined to do so.
The police force that patrols high-security space regions, called CONCORD, is reactionary at best. Like a real police force, their mission is to bring criminals to justice, not prevent the crimes from happening in the first place. In order to keep their Keepstar safe, Hard Knocks was going to have to plan a clever ruse when it came time to move it.
On May 17th, every pilot was hands on deck for the most important operation in Hard Knocks’ history. Because the alliance had been somewhat public about their intention of building the Keepstar, they had no guarantees that spies hadn’t been carefully watching them for weeks now. Operational security was at its tightest. “We didn’t tell our members what they were doing, where they were going, or how they were getting there,” Jerzii says. “We had to keep everything close to the chest. Only the directors could see the maps we were using.”
The plan was broken down into multiple initiatives that required every pilot to be on their best game. In the system of Paara, where the Keepstar was built, four pilots were chosen to fly freighters. Three would act as decoys to lure off any ambushes while one carried the Keepstar. Between the four freighters, an escort of almost 100 Tornado battlecruisers would accompany each vessel. “If anything comes at [the freighter], it’s pretty much over,” Jerzii says. “So we decided we didn’t want anything to come at it. If we saw anything get near it or anything that even just looks like it might be an issue, we’d just destroy it.”
But that was only one half of the operation. Back in Rage, pilots were ‘rolling wormholes’ like there was no tomorrow. Each wormhole connection in EVE Online degrades slowly over time, but can also be collapsed if enough mass passes through it. Using some hasty math, pilots can fly heavy ships through a wormhole repeatedly forcing it to collapse and automatically generating a new connection to a different part of New Eden. It’s a brute force tactic, but if done enough times Hard Knocks stood a good chance at eventually getting a decent connection close to Paara. Meanwhile, another group of pilots were in covert-ops stealth frigates, using scanning probes to map networks of wormhole connections that might lead to a favorable route that way.
Eventually, a winding connection of wormholes was found that would lead the fleet from Paara, in high-sec, to Rage, in wormhole space. When they managed to clear high-security space without incident and enter into infinitely more dangerous wormhole space, Hard Knocks had their first unpleasant encounter.
The final stretch
Wrong Hole, an alliance of tough-as-nails wormhole dwellers like Hard Knocks were connected to the wormhole system they were passing through. If even one of their pilots caught wind of what Hard Knocks might be up to, the entire operation would end in disaster. Even if Wrong Hole didn’t manage to destroy the freighter outright, Hard Knocks would never be able to safely set the citadel up in their system without worrying that half of the wormhole alliances were secretly waiting to get their revenge.
“We needed to get that connection gone,” Jerzii says. “We had a small group of battleships start rolling the hole while a PVP fleet went to assist them in case they tried anything. We told [Wrong Hole] straight up, we have a huge fleet, just let us roll the hole, and nothing bad will happen. We didn’t tell them what was going on or why, we just told them not to mess with us.”
Wrong Hole took the threat seriously and stood down, but as one Hard Knocks pilot went to roll the hole one last time, it collapsed behind him. In an instant, he was stranded millions of light years from the rest of his fleet in a star system full of embarrassed and angry pilots who were just forced to kowtow to a greater threat. .
Once safely inside of Rage, the Keepstar was “anchored,” a process that took 24 hours and ended with a 15 minute vulnerability window where the citadel could easily be destroyed by a determined force. While much of the fleet took a break to recharge before the 15 minute timer, a second fleet locked down the hole to make sure no one could get in.
The move operation from Paara to Rage took 12 hours of planning and execution. The next day, the Keepstar came online without issue. Hard Knocks sent a tweet to a CCP developer, who soon after to build a Keepstar in EVE Online—a two month process requiring thousands of man hours, a trillion ISK, and one very nerve wracking escort mission.
When I ask Jerzii how stressful the whole situation was, he shrugs. “It went too smoothly,” he complains. “I was kind of hoping for some hiccup or someone to try something.”
Now that Fort Knocks is fully operational, Rage went from being a system most would avoid to one that you’d have to be insane to ever assault. I ask Jerzii why Hard Knocks would ever spend months of their time and a trillion ISK building EVE Online’s most defensible structure in a system no one would ever want to visit in the first place. He laughs at me and explains it was never done to make their home more defensible. “Nobody was invading us anyway,” he says. “Maybe this will make them try harder. People say we’ve painted a huge target on our backs, and that’s exactly what we want.”
Many of the world’s largest Internet companies, like Google and Facebook, rely heavily on advertising to finance their online empires.
But that business model is increasingly coming under threat, with one in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, blocking advertising when browsing the web on cellphones. That represents a 90 percent annual increase, according to a new report from PageFair, a start-up that helps to recoup some of this lost advertising revenue, and Priori Data, a company that tracks smartphone applications.
The use of ad-blocking software has divided the online world. Supporters say it allows people to get better access to content without having to suffer through abrasive ads. Opponents, particularly companies that rely on advertising, say blocking ads violates the implicit contract that people agree to when viewing online material, much of which is paid for by digital advertising.
Mobile ad blockers, though, have become particularly widespread in emerging markets, where people are more reliant on their smartphones to use the Internet.
Already, 36 percent of the smartphone users in the Asia-Pacific region have so-called ad-blocking browsers on their mobile devices, allowing them to remove online ads when they use the Internet. In India and Indonesia — two of the world’s fastest-growing Internet markets — that figure is almost two-thirds of smartphone users, according to the report.
“We found the results surprising because in the West we don’t often consider what’s going on in developing countries,” said Sean Blanchfield, chief executive of PageFair. “It’s only a matter of time until mobile ad blocking comes to the West.”
Patrick Kane, chief executive of Priori Data, said greater use of the software in emerging markets was driven by attempts to minimize spending on mobile data. Ad blockers help conserve data and make websites load faster by not downloading ads on people’s phones.
While mobile ad blocking is mostly an emerging market phenomenon now, it is costing the global advertising industry billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. Roughly 200 million people also have ad-blocking software on their desktop computers, PageFair estimates.
Still, only 4.3 million Americans, or 2.2 percent of smartphone owners, used ad blockers — through browsers or other services — on their smartphones as of March. By comparison, 159 million people in China have installed ad-blocking software on their cellphones, the report said.
But as people in Western markets increasingly rely on smartphones to reach the Internet, the use of mobile ad blocking is expected to rise.
In June, Three UK, a British cellphone provider, will conduct an ad-blocking test across its network, allowing people to opt in to remove ads whenever they use their mobile phones. Digicel, a carrier that operates mostly in the Caribbean, has started offering a similar service.
Analysts say such efforts may breach so-called net neutrality rules, which require all online data, including intrusive ads, to be treated equally. Legal experts, though, say the use of ad blocking has yet to be challenged in courts over whether it meets net neutrality standards.
Despite this legal uncertainty, people’s interest in blocking ads, particularly on their cellphones, is unlikely to wane.
In “The Wearing and Shedding of Enchanted Shoes,” Isabel Cardigos, Director of the Research Centre at the Centro de Estudos Ataíde Oliveira in Portugal, wrote, “Shoes are paradoxical objects in that they constrict feet and yet free them to cover greater distances in space.” Indeed, fictional shoes enable “positive” transformation in women’s lives, but the “happily ever after” is mostly restricted to traditional gender norms and stereotypes.
The quintessential story of a woman using magical shoes to ascend the social ladder on the arm of her man is the tale of Cinderella.
An 1891 engraving of Cinderella in her old brown shoes. Image: PHAS/Getty
One of the most famous Western renditions of the Cinderella story was penned by the Brothers Grimm in the 1850s. In that version, Cinderella immediately has her beautiful clothes stripped away from her, replaced by dowdy apparel and wooden shoes, while suddenly being told to carry out ridiculous tasks for her step-family. But this is not the fate Cinderella is destined for: she’s a princess at heart, if only she could dress for the job she wants.
In Grimm’s version, she’s gifted a gown and a pair of embroidered, silken heels by a magical bird. With this fancy new look, Cinderella is able to attend the prince’s wife-selection fair, where she uses her silken shoes to walk from the dredges of her miserable life to a castle. For Cinderella, a change of footwear changed her life, twice: the first time for worse, and the second time for the absolute best, back to life of luxury and away from her awful family.
Magical shoes have helped other women characters stroll to where they truly belong, but it isn’t always to the life of a royal. In at least one case, it’s back home to a farm in Kansas.
In Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and later the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, the protagonist is Dorothy, a young girl who lives on a farm with her Aunt and Uncle. While Dorothy has the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and her little dog, too, her most valuable companion is most definitely her pair of ruby slippers (at least in the movie, in the book they were silver shoes — but those don’t pop in technicolor).
Upon arriving in Oz by way of a tornado that tore her house from the ground, Dorothy’s plain old black shoes are magically replaced by the ruby slippers, which had been on the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East. The witch was squashed and killed by Dorothy’s rogue flying house, leaving Dorothy with a new pair of pumps.
Dorothy (in her ruby slippers) and her friends meet the Wizard. Image: Silver Screen Collection/Getty
In her crimson, sparkling heels, Dorothy walks along the yellow brick road in search of Oz’s wizard, who can help her get back to Kansas. Through many trials and tribulations, songs and skipping, Dorothy and her slippers finally make it to the wizard, who tells her that the way home had been on her feet the whole time. To be transported back to the farm, all Dorothy had to do was click the heels of the magical ruby slippers three times.
Dorothy’s relationship with her magical shoes is the opposite of Cinderella’s: Dorothy wants to swap her jewel-encrusted slippers for her hideous farm footwear and a life with her beloved family, whereas Cinderella uses her shoes to get the heck out of dodge and into a palace where she can dress in the finest heels as often as she likes. The key is that both ladies get their happily ever after in the end, all thanks to their size 7s.
But shoes are not always such friendly (side)kicks. As anyone who has walked a day in new heels knows very well: some shoes make for a painful experience that can reduce even the toughest among us to tears.
Magical shoes sometimes serve as cruel, patriarchal crucibles, making women perform gruesome tasks in order to atone for perceived sins. As Cristina Bacchilega, Associate Professor of English with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, tells Racked over email that shoes made of iron often signify “both persistence and self-sacrifice,” again, “always a test the heroine must pass in order to access heterosexual bliss with the prince or king.”
Shoes made of iron often signify “both persistence and self-sacrifice.”
In a Bulgarian tale about a “disenchanted husband,” the female protagonist is given away by her father to marry a horse. That evening, in the horse’s stable, the horse transforms into an attractive young man, and the two get busy doing what newlyweds do. But the horse-groom forbids his new wife to reveal to anyone that by night he is a man, and says if she tells a soul she will be forced to wear iron boots and wander the land in search of him. Even if he was half horse, it was clear who wore the (likely four-legged) pants in this relationship.
After only two days, the bride lets the secret slip to her sisters. Her husband forces her to fashion her own iron boots, and then (of course!) flies off to his mother, who is an ogress. The iron-shod wife then walks for ten full years before she finding her winner of a husband. To make matters worse, the horse insists that his wife fill a vase with tears, or his mother will eat her. Sexist tropes — that persist to this day! — abound: women must submit their will to their husbands, and mothers-in-law are horrible beasts who will eat you.
There are instances in which marriage is not involved at all, and female protagonists must suffer in their shoes for reasons related to other stereotypically feminine “sins.” Oh good!
But there are instances in which marriage is not involved at all, and female protagonists must suffer in their shoes for reasons related to other stereotypically feminine “sins.” Oh good! In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes,” a young orphan named Karen receives a fine pair of red shoes from the older woman who took Karen in after her mother passed away. Being quite poor, Karen had never had anything nice before, and became enamored of her new footwear.
After being so distracted in church one Sunday by thoughts of her red shoes, the shoes took on a mind of their own, and Karen began to dance uncontrollably. The dancing became so persistent, that Karen heads to the town’s executioner, and asks him to chop her feet off with the red shoes on them, while she confessed her sins of vanity.
But that wasn’t enough. The now-severed feet and shoes continued to dance outside of the church, where they repeatedly frightened Karen (who was now traipsing about town in wooden feet fashioned by the executioner), compelling her to address her sins further. Making it to church a final time with the help of an angel, Karen becomes so overwhelmed with gratitude that her heart breaks and she dies, all because she cared too much for her red shoes.
A 1948 ballet adaption of “The Red Shoes.” Image: Baron/Getty
Bacchilega also says that women’s shoes operate as symbols of social rank, as they did in part in “The Red Shoes.” Karen is poor, and once her feet are chopped off, the executioner fashions her shoes of wood, returning Karen to her lowly rank. This is also clear in the case of Cinderella, where she moves from wooden shoes made for performing menial housework to the finest shoes a gal could wish for, and with them a life in a castle with a prince. This is also made evident in one of the earlier tellings of “Puss In Boots.”
In the Straparola and Basile telling of this story, Bacchilega says, the cat is female and her “boots are a sign of social standing (like a servant’s livery) as clothes in general are an essential class marker in this tale. The cat (this time a mother figure) uses her wits and boots to make the hero’s fortune and then expects” the hero to take care of her in return. The female cat is the one with the smarts, yet her station in life must remain on par of that of her humble boots: beneath human men.
There is a very modern conception of women’s lives being driven by shoes (thanks, Carrie Bradshaw), but in fairytales, women’s entire lives could come down to her shoes.