Friday, July 14, 2017

Life is a Stage

..... and we are merely players, performers and portrayers, each another's audience, outside the gilded cage.....

"MindTrek, a Woburn arena, aims to step up the VR game" by Hiawatha Bray Globe Staff  July 14, 2017

MindTrek VR, a gaming arena in Woburn where multiple players can suit up like Navy SEAL team members and explore fantasy landscapes or shoot zombies.

After being rolled out to great hype, VR systems such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have logged mediocre sales in the past year, possibly because they’re clumsy and costly. These systems tether the player to massive desktop computers, and when used at home, they leave players with almost no room to maneuver.

They can easily cost more than $2,000, and only one person can play them at a time.

For MindTrek, David O’Connor spent about $1 million to create a more dynamic experience, he said. The games employ technology created by an Australian company called Zero Latency, which uses cameras to track the movements of multiple players inside a large, open space. The data are relayed to all players in the game, so they can “see” digital images of each other as they play, allowing them to compete or collaborate with one another.

In addition, each player wears a backpack holding a high-powered computer built by Alienware, a gaming computer brand owned by Dell Inc. This mobile computer is connected to the VR headset and stereo headphones. Because there are no tethers, a player can move through the virtual world simply by walking around inside the arena.

“You can see each other, you can interact with each other,” O’Connor said. “It goes from being an isolation experience to being a social experience.” 

Yeah, but could you please talk of the helmet while I talk to you?

How nuts is this, huh? 

You take an act that is inherently isolationist and claim it's social.

When you decide to come back to the real world, let me know (how does the virtual food taste anyway?).

The arena itself is a one-time warehouse in an industrial park, a big rectangular building with gray floors and walls. But when the VR headset comes to life, players see only the digital “avatars” of their fellow gamers and the three-dimensional images generated by the game.

MindTrek bills itself as “America’s first warehouse-scale multi-player virtual reality gaming arena,” but that might be a matter of interpretation. A company called the Void operates multiplayer VR gaming centers in its home state of Utah, New York City, Toronto, and Dubai.

MindTrek isn’t cheap. Each player pays $49 for a 45-minute session that includes 30 minutes of game time, and the rest an immersive journey through virtual nature.

Games include “Zombie Survival,” a 15-minute session that’s pretty much what it sounds like. Using a bulky plastic game controller shaped like a futuristic rifle, players can blast wave after wave of the undead as they lurch and stagger across an immersive post-apocalyptic cityscape. Freed from tethers, the players scramble across the arena, taking up positions to fend off the next onslaught. They watch each others’ backs, but compete for the highest zombie-killing score. 

Talk about a culture $teeped in violence. Training the oppressors, I suppose.

Meanwhile, at the same time we have the same people wringing their hands over real gun violence.

Next comes 15 minutes of “Engineerium,” a relaxing but mind-bending experience that’s not actually a game. Instead, the players stroll through a watery world inhabited by aquatic life and massive stone blocks arrayed in constantly shifting patterns.

Reading this has been. 

MindTrek delivers plenty of fun for first-time players. O’Connor is so confident of the concept that he plans to open a second location in Marlborough later this year.

But will MindTrek keep people coming back for more?

Lewis Ward, a video game analyst at IDC Corp. in Framingham, has his doubts.

“I could see this working for a few years,” Ward said. But he added that, as with the video arcades of the 1980s, the concept will fade out as more people get VR systems for their homes.

“In the long run, I’m skeptical that this is a sustainable business model,” he said.

Especially when Facebook is to unveil cheaper virtual reality headset.

O’Connor plans to keep players coming back to MindTrek by expanding its library of games and VR experiences. It will be like a movie theater, where people keep coming back to see the newest releases. And in this theater, the audience will be a part of the show, interacting with the games and with each other in ways they could never do at home. “You’re all in the movie now,” O’Connor said.....

Cue cheers for Rush!



Time to merge:

DraftKings, FanDuel drop merger plans

Walmart is pushing convenience for the back-to-school shopping season as it tries to compete better with Amazon.

"Tiffany is taking another shot at reviving its luster, and regaining its cool, naming a former executive at Diesel as its top executive. The company ran out of patience in February only two years after hiring Frederic Cumenal to do the same thing. Taking over for interim CEO Michael Kowalski is Alessandro Bogliolo, who had been lured to Diesel SpA to revitalize sales there. Bogliolo is expected to take over the CEO post at Tiffany by Oct. 2. He will also become a board member. The 52-year-old executive spent 16 years at Bulgari SpA before taking the job at Diesel. Tiffany & Co., based in New York, has wrestled with weak sales as millennials spend money elsewhere and competition intensifies from online players like Amazon and Blue Nile."

Vanguard CEO to step down at indexing giant

John Hancock parent said to consider IPO for Boston company

Beth Israel and Lahey Health sign final agreement to merge

Tufts Medical CEO stands tough, says union hurting Tufts

Globe says they are hurting patients.

‘We want to work’: Nurses locked out at Tufts Medical Center

So it isn't even a strike.

In 1999, race-based school busing in Boston came to an end after 25 years.

"Boston has experienced rapid growth in recent years, but disparities across racial lines persist...."

Time for a yard sale.


"Education official apologizes anew, this time to victims" by Laurie Kellman and Carole Feldman Associated Press  July 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Education Department’s top civil rights official’s ‘‘flippant’’ remarks are raising questions about the government’s commitment to fighting campus sexual violence, even as she issued her second apology in as many days for attributing 90 percent of sexual assault claims to both parties being drunk.

Candice Jackson, assistant secretary for civil rights, told victims of sexual assault meeting with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday that she was sorry for her remarks.

‘‘As much as I appreciate apologies, which are difficult, unfortunately, there’s no way to take it back. It’s out there,’’ said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, who attended the meeting and relayed Jackson’s apology Thursday. ‘‘What’s extremely important now is that they do the hard work to counter those sorts of rape myths. They need to explicitly reject them.’’

DeVos also met Thursday with people who say they were falsely accused and disciplined and representatives of colleges and universities to talk about the impact of stepped-up efforts by the Obama administration to enforce the law known as Title IX as it relates to sexual assault.

The lawyer for a college football player who says he was falsely accused of sexual assault says DeVos sees federal rules on enforcement as unfair and in need of change.

Kerry Sutton was in the room with DeVos on Thursday when six people told ‘‘gut-wrenching’’ stories about being falsely accused of sexual violence on campus. She said they stressed ‘‘that the system has to be fair.’’

Sutton represents University of North Carolina football player Allen Artis, who was charged last year with misdemeanor sexual battery and assault on a female. He was suspended from football but has since been reinstated. He has said the encounter was consensual.

Like it or not, that is an issue. 

Back to the print version:

DeVos’s ‘‘listening sessions’’ came the day after Jackson was quoted in The New York Times as saying federal rules have resulted in many false accusations. In most investigations, she told the newspaper, there’s ‘‘not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.’’

‘‘Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of, ‘We were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’ ’’ Jackson is quoted as saying in an interview.

I must be insensitive because I fail to see the faux pas. She is, unfortunately, speaking the truth. A lot of the incidents are in the fog of booze.

In her apology Wednesday night, Jackson said, ‘‘What I said was flippant, and I am sorry.’’ 

Political correctness run amok, and forget reality or individual cases, just believe the official dogma and censor your speech. That's the lesson I'm learning.

She sought to issue reassurances that both she and the department believe ‘‘all sexual harassment and sexual assault must be taken seriously.’’ 

I'm not saying they shouldn't be; however, knee-jerk political correctness has tilted it the other way. Now guilty until proven innocent.

Advocates for assault survivors who have spent years trying to get schools to take victims and a ‘‘rape culture’’ seriously worry that DeVos’s series of round-table meetings are really a preview for changing former president Barack Obama’s guidance. 

Comes from the mixed message ma$$ media and its using of sex to sell.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called Jackson’s statements unsubstantiated and said it minimizes the serious problem of sexual violence on campuses.

‘‘For months, DeVos’s Education Department has sent a chilling message to students and survivors by openly questioning Obama-era rules to protect students,’’ Weingarten said. ‘‘DeVos’s meetings today with so-called men’s rights groups, and other fringe groups that want to silence sexual assault survivors’ voices, legitimatize those efforts.’’ 

Yes, you can't question the guy who has been God in the schools the last eight years. What a rude awakening for them!

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the Senate committee overseeing the Education Department, said in a letter to DeVos that Jackson’s remark ‘‘suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of campus sexual assault and suggests that [Jackson’s office] is not prepared to take accounts from survivors seriously.’’ 

I don't think so.

But groups representing those who say they have been falsely accused suggest the Obama-era guidance weighted campus justice systems in favor of those alleging sexual violence. Jackson said in the Times interview that investigations have not been ‘‘fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student.’’

Many of those who want Obama’s guidance reversed have said they want assault cases referred to law enforcement.

As of Wednesday, there were 344 open sexual violence investigations at 242 postsecondary schools, according to a Title IX report provided by the Education Department.

Several schools had multiple cases pending, including Kansas State University and Indiana University Bloomington with five each, the department list shows.

Baylor University in Texas had a single open case. The school has been embroiled in controversy over its handling of sexual assault allegations, and several women have sued. Art Briles was fired as football coach and Ken Starr was demoted from president and later resigned after a law firm reported in May 2016 that an investigation had found that the school had ‘‘created barriers’’ discouraging the reporting of sexual assaults.

Had a top ten ranked football team at the time.


For the record, I'm not minimizing campus sexual violence at all; Obama didn't look in the right place is all:

"Criminal investigation to be launched into St. Paul’s School" by Danny McDonald Globe Staff  July 13, 2017

Following new reports of sexual misconduct at St. Paul’s School, authorities in New Hampshire Thursday announced a criminal investigation into the elite boarding school.

New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald’s office, Concord police, and New Hampshire State Police will conduct the investigation, authorities said in a statement released Thursday night.

The investigation will initially focus on whether the school engaged in conduct that endangered the welfare of a child, the attorney general’s office said in the statement. That office will also investigate whether the school violated a law that prohibits obstructing criminal investigations.

The “games of sexual conquest rituals” where winners were crowned continued even after Owen Labrie was scapegoated “to shine a light on the darkness that continues to surround the school.”


Yeah, turns out the elite schools turning out future leaders and bureaucrats are the worst offenders of all.

No wonder these kids are frigid:

"These teens found out something about TD Garden no one realized for 24 years" by Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  July 13, 2017

Twenty-four years ago, the owner of the Boston Garden wanted a new arena, and local lawmakers wanted a stream of funding to help build and maintain the city’s recreational facilities, such as hockey rinks.

So they reached a deal: As part of winning state approval for a new $160 million facility, home to the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins, the owner of the Garden would host three fund-raisers a year to benefit the agency that oversees the city’s recreational facilities.

And then the fund-raising deal was forgotten. It was not until this past spring, when a group of teenagers from Hyde Square — eager to find funding for a new hockey rink in their neighborhood — began researching the old agreement that anyone realized the truth: The Garden had not held even one of those promised fund-raisers.

The discovery was the result of a painstaking search that involved a civics lesson in legislative sausage-making, the close eye of a neighborhood activist, and a bit of detective work by several determined teenagers.

Now, Garden executives, state officials, and the teenagers themselves are trying to answer one final question: What happens now as a result of their find?

No offense, but who cares? 


That is worthy of a page A1 story?


"Disappearance of 4 Philadelphia-area men takes grisly turn" by Maryclaire Dale and Anthony Izaguirre Associated Press  July 13, 2017

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — A jailed man who has been the focus of an investigation into the disappearances of four men admitted on Thursday that he killed them and agreed to plead guilty to four murder counts, his attorney said in a surprise development.

Cosmo DiNardo, 20, confessed to the commission or participation in four murders, attorney Paul Lan said outside court, where DiNardo had met with investigators. DiNardo also told investigators where the bodies are.

‘‘I’m sorry,’’ a shackled DiNardo said as he left the courthouse.

In exchange for the cooperation, Lang said, prosecutors were taking the death penalty off the table.

The mystery of the four men’s disappearances has transfixed the Philadelphia area over the past week, taking a grisly turn when human remains were discovered in a 12½-foot-deep grave on a farm. But what sort of evil befell them, and why, had remained shrouded in secrecy.

Why does the word Satanism suddenly spring to mind? The coded newspeak is hinting at!

The prosecutor, who has held twice-daily briefings, made it clear Thursday he knew a lot more than he was saying, citing the need to protect the investigation. That only added to the speculation and rumors before DiNardo’s confession.

‘‘It’s been very unnerving. It’s very spooky,’’ said Laura Hefty, who lives a few miles from the gravesite in Solebury Township, where farms bump up against new residential developments.

Many people, she said, were trying to convince themselves this is nothing that could ever happen to their kids.

Wasn't it Shakespeare that said there are more things than Heaven and Earth?

The four men, all residents of Bucks County, disappeared last week. At least three knew each other. The remains of only one, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro, have been identified, though authorities said other remains were found in the hole as well.

DiNardo, the son of the farm property’s owners, was being held on $5 million cash bail before his confession, accused of trying to sell one of the victims’ cars.

District Attorney Matthew Weintraub parried one question after another by saying he couldn’t — or wouldn’t — answer.

Pre$$ as mad at him as they are Trump?

Police were back at the farm Thursday, digging away in the dust and the 90-degree-plus heat and using plywood to shore up the deep, tent-covered trench that they excavated at the spot where Weintraub said dogs managed to ‘‘smell these poor boys 12½ feet below the ground.’’

For days, TV news helicopters trained their cameras on the excavation, creating an unsettling racket but allowing the public to follow the forensic work from their office computers. On one day, viewers could watch investigators haul up buckets of dirt and sift it through hand-held screens in what looked like an archaeological dig.

That's a bit morbid, isn't it?

Susan Coleman told news outlets that she and her husband were in their backyard last Saturday afternoon when they heard several rounds of what they believed was shotgun fire coming from the direction of the DiNardo farm.

‘‘This person was going bananas,’’ she told


Eric Beitz, who said he had hung out with DiNardo in recent weeks, told that DiNardo routinely sold guns and on multiple occasions had talked ‘‘about weird things like killing people and having people killed.’’

DiNardo, whose parents own construction and concrete businesses in the Philadelphia area, has had a few brushes with the law over the past year.

He was arrested on Monday on an unrelated gun charge dating from February, accused of illegally possessing a shotgun and ammunition after being involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

His father bailed him out, but he was jailed again later in the week on the stolen-car charges, and bail was set much higher, after a prosecutor said he was a danger to the community because he had been diagnosed as schizophrenic.....

That covers it, I guess.



"Human remains appeared to have been recovered from a residential property here late Thursday after a search to find evidence of a missing mob associate wanted by the FBI for allegedly murdering a Pennsylvania police chief in 1980....."

Also see:

In 1966, the city of Chicago awoke to the shocking news that eight student nurses had been brutally slain during the night in a South Side dormitory. Drifter Richard Speck was convicted of the mass killing and condemned to death but had his sentence reduced to life in prison, where he died in 1991.

Man trapped in ATM slips notes to customers begging for help

A Texas worker became stuck behind the ATM and slipped the notes to customers via the receipt slot pleading for them to help him escape.

Man trapped inside Texas ATM for 3 hours is rescued by police

"A man captured in Texas last month will return on Friday to Boston, where he will become the second person charged with murdering a 16-year-old boy whose body was found in the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation in East Boston in December. Jorge Melgar Fuentes, 19, was arrested in Houston last month and has been in custody since then, awaiting his return to Massachusetts and an arraignment on a charge of murder in East Boston Municipal Court. The arraignment is set for Monday. Fuentes is the second person charged with participating in the stabbing of Carlos Villatoro-Nunez, who had been living in Boston for just six months when he was killed and his body left in the East Boston reservation, where it lay unnoticed for about month. The teenager’s body was found Dec.9, 2016, and State Police detectives used witness statements, cell phone records, and physical evidence to link Villatoro-Nunez to gang violence that beset East Boston and Chelsea last year. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office, which is prosecuting the case, does not consider the teenager’s death to be a random crime. “Police and prosecutors worked patiently, methodically, and professionally over many months to reach this point,” Conley said in a statement. “But this is not the end of the case. That day will come only when we speak for a 16-year-old murder victim in a Suffolk County courtroom.” Moris Javier Landaverde, 21, of East Boston is also charged with murdering the teenager. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bail while awaiting trial."

"A spree of car vandalism was reported in the neighboring towns of Whitman, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, and Hanson after residents noticed the windows of their vehicles had been shot at and shattered by BB guns. Whitman Deputy Police Chief Tim Hanlon said his town has seen 15 such incidents since the first one was reported on June 27 at 10:47 a.m. The most recent incident occurred on Monday around 4 p.m. The damage to vehicles has been similar in all cases, and Whitman police found a BB pellet at the scene of one of the incidents, according to Hanlon. “If one was hit by a BB, most likely they all have been,” Hanlon said. While the majority of the vandalism involved car windows, two businesses in Whitman, Route 27 Car Care Center and ABC Specialtees, reported finding their store windows shattered. East Bridgewater police also received several reports of windows being shot out with BB guns, according to a statement posted to their Facebook page July 9. One witness reported the shots might have come from someone in a pick-up truck, according to the statement. In West Bridgewater, police received a report July 2 at 12:38 p.m. that all four windows of a car had been shot. West Bridgewater Police Chief Victor Flaherty said the person or persons are most likely firing the shots from a vehicle and that the incidents are random and not targeted. Hanson police also responded to “a few cases of this vandalism,” primarily around the area of West Washington Street, according to a statement posted to their Facebook page Wednesday morning. Police are investigating the vandalism, Hanlon said, but have received no information about possible suspects from witnesses. The majority of people reported waking up in the morning to find their vehicles damaged, leading police to believe the vandalism is occurring early in the morning or late at night, according to Hanlon. “These people are obviously being as careful as they can to not be discovered,” Hanlon said."


"Grandmother left at wrong gate at Logan" by Kiana Cole Globe Staff  July 13, 2017

Denise Chase was expecting her mother to land at the Fort Myers airport Tuesday around 2:30 p.m.

Instead, her 74-year-old mother, who suffers from early onset dementia, was left behind at Logan International Airport after a gate change for her flight, Chase said, even though wheelchair assistance had been requested from the airline, JetBlue.

“Why didn’t they check on her? Why didn’t they find out where the heck she was? You’ve got somebody that’s assigned to a wheelchair, why wouldn’t you be checking?” Chase said in a phone interview with the Globe. “It’s apathy, it’s plain, blatant apathy.”

JetBlue officials said in a statement that they regret Carmen Courchesne’s experience and are conducting a review of the events.....

Been a bad year for the airlines.


They say they will fly you to the moon (as if we ever went), and there is no way the Jupiter photos could be bogus.

Bald eagle makes flight to freedom in Winthrop

Calm lobsterman swims to safety after boat sinks off Marblehead

New England Aquarium mourns colleague killed while freeing whale

Aquarium welcomes Ron the sea lion pup

Climate change could curb crop yields by 2050, MIT study says


If it's warmer and hotter, that means longer growing seasons. Go read a damn history book!

“Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough (right) and Mika Brzezinski are interviewed by financier David Rubenstein during a Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics event in DC. The couple then jetted off to spend the July Fourth holiday on Nantucket....."

Carbon footprint on that was.... ?

Time to end credits:

"Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one of a bunch of billionaire corporate kahunas in Sun Valley for the annual Allen & Co. conference. Kraft was photographed greeting Lachlan Murdoch, the son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and the executive co-chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox. Others there include President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, embattled Trump adviser Jared Kushner; Viacom vice chairman Shari Redstone; News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson; IAC/InterActiveCorp CEO Joey Levin; Home Depot cofounder Ken Langone; Publicis Groupe SA Chairman Maurice Levy; and Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi."

Tom Brady is also a member, so watch out for the blitz.

An hour with Roger Stone Jr., Trump’s favorite ‘dirty trickster’

He's quite a character.