Hateful Kitties, Space Lasers, Spider-Man, and Soundbars: Best Gizmodo Posts of the Week

Graphic: Jim Cooke / Screenshot: PowerfulJRE (YouTube) / Illustration: David Mazzucchelli, Joe Rosen, George Roussos (Marvel Comics) / Photo: NASA

We’re up for a big week in the news, folks. There’s a lot going to happen, from Apple’s big September 12th announcement event to the notably less fun Hurricane Florence, which is currently projected to barrel into the East Coast at a minimum Category 3 status or possibly even worse before the weekend. As the president continues his mad descent into wherever he’s headed, there’s talk of him sucking even more of the U.S. tech industry including his fake friend Tim Cook into his dumb trade war with China. The fight over a net neutrality bill in California is coming to a head. And pretty soon the Air Force is gonna have to figure out what to do about Elon Musk smoking weed.

It’s a lot, and we’re barely scratching the surface. But you can brace yourself for the onslaught with some prep work by reading the best Gizmodo posts of the last week.


How to Use Venmo Without Being a Petty Jerk

Gif: Jim Cooke ( Gizmodo)

Venmo is an app that should be simple and transactional. Instead, it’s thorny and oftentimes awkward to navigate. It’s truly wild that a self-professed “digital wallet” stirs up so much drama.

“A guy I was cheating on my boyfriend with once Venmoed me the morning after we got drinks, when I’d told my boyfriend I was with a different friend,” one friend told me. “This could have been avoided if he made the transaction private, or if all Venmo payments were private. It’s hard for me to understand what the advantage is of having them be public in the first place.”


Does Your Cat Actually Hate You?

Illustration: Chelsea Beck ( GIzmodo)

Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves; cats—or at least some cats, some of the time—can spend years at your side without making it totally clear that they know, or care, who you are. An expression vaguely resembling contentment flits across their face and you think, triumphantly: see! My cat doesn’t despise me.

Which it very well might not. But if it did, wouldn’t you want to know? To make sure you’re not living a lie, for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of cat experts to figure out whether or not your cat really does hate you.


The Painful Poetry of My Favorite Daredevil Comics

A beautiful panel where Daredevil races across the Brooklyn Bridge
Image: David Mazzucchelli, Joe Rosen, George Roussos ( Marvel Comics)

In the 1980s, Marvel Comics editor Denny O’Neil had a problem: superstar writer Frank Miller was leaving Daredevil, the book he turned into a runaway sales hit. O’Neil had to find someone to write the book after Miller’s red-hot run. Ultimately, he started scripting the Man Without Fear’s book himself, turning out my favorite run on Marvel’s blind superhero.

[Ed’s Note: You knew we couldn’t let Evan Narcisse go for good! Welcome to Second Printing, his new comics column on io9. Enjoy. - Jill P.]


Adventure Time’s Finale Was a Bittersweet Goodbye But the Beginning of Something New

The cast of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.
Image: Cartoon Network

The distinct undertones of loss and mourning throughout Adventure Time’s hour-long finale, “Come Along With Me,” feel both appropriate for the special’s focus on the Great Gum War and at odds with the larger show’s generally optimistic worldview.

Come Along With Me” is, in a technical sense, the ending of a show that changed the landscape of animated television. But on another level, the finale is also an expression of the belief that Adventure Time and the impact it’s had on its fans is something that’s never truly going to end.


Marvel’s Spider-Man Understands the Amazing Fantasy of Becoming Peter Parker

Image: Sony/Insomniac Games

Spider-Man has a long history in video games—one that arguably has seen more lows than highs. Even in a world where superheroes are bigger than ever, Spider-Man is still waiting for a groundbreaking gaming experience like the Arkham series was for Batman. He might have finally got it in Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Jack Dorsey Woos Irate Republicans by Calmly Explaining Twitter Is Indeed Fucked Up

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. Lawmakers have sparred over whether a now-reversed change to auto-suggestions on Twitter had unfairly hurt Democrats or Republicans more.
Photo: AP

At hearing before the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addressed politicians’ concerns about harassment and abuse, the impact of propaganda on American elections, and, to a much lesser extent than had been expected, the unfounded allegations that Twitter is silencing conservative voices.

In prepared remarks, Dorsey put to rest claims that Twitter is censoring or discouraging right-wing views—the very controversy responsible for Wednesday’s hearing. Prominent conservatives, including the U.S. president, have charged Twitter with persecution and censorship, an allegation that gained attention in Washington after Vice News claimed Twitter had “shadow banned” Republican legislators.


I Wish Elon Wouldn’t

Screenshot: PowerfulJRE ( YouTube)

I’m tired.

$400,000 Raised for Homeless Man on GoFundMe Is Completely Gone, Lawyer Says

Photo: GoFundMe

Last year, a New Jersey couple raised $400,000 on GoFundMe to help a kind homeless man get his life back together. Now, the man’s attorney says all the money is gone and his client received only a fraction of the donations.

NASA’s New Space Laser Will Track Earth’s Vanishing Ice

Photo: NASA

On September 15, NASA will launch a laser 310 miles above the Earth to scan our planet’s ice sheets like never before, recording changes in the elevation of these frozen landscapes down to the width of a pencil.

The laser, which lives aboard NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), will shower the Earth with subatomic particles of green light called photons—300 trillion per laser pulse, to be exact. The satellite will survey Earth from pole to pole, flying 1,387 unique tracks every 91 days for as long as its fuel supply and hardware systems hold. By the mission’s end, scientists are expecting a slew of new data that will help reveal where ice is retreating fastest as global temperatures rise and what that means for our future.


These Scientists Formed a Fortnite Squad to Teach Players About Climate Change

First Climate Fortnite Squad victory.
Screenshot: YouTube

Amid the 125 million Fortnite players, you’ll find rich and famous folks like Lil Yachty, Drake, and David Price (just not at Fenway). But there’s a new squad in town that’s about more than talking shit and selling albums. Scientists are braving the dangerously popular game to talk about climate change.

It’s a seemingly unlikely avenue for climate communication, but by taking the science out of lecture halls and into the most popular game on the planet and Twitch, the researchers hope to make climate change more accessible.


Bernie Sanders Introduces ‘Stop BEZOS Act’ to End Corporate Welfare to Amazon, Walmart

Screenshot: Bernie Sanders ( YouTube)

Bernie Sanders introduced a bill today that culminates weeks of feuding between the Vermont senator and Amazon, a company he views as indicative of a “rigged economy” that rewards the rich and harms workers.


The bill—titled the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act—would impose a tax on companies with 500 or more employees “equal to the amount of federal benefits received by their low wage workers.” Essentially, this would force large, profitable firms to pay into welfare programs the amount they’re currently getting for free from the federal government.

Alex Jones Permanently Suspended From Twitter

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 5: Alex Jones of InfoWars talks to reporters outside a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations’ use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg faced questions about how foreign operatives use their platforms in attempts to influence and manipulate public opinion.
Photo: Drew Angerer ( Getty)

After weeks of deplatforming efforts by social media companies, Infowars founders Alex Jones has lost his last refuge: Twitter.

Twitter took the unusual step of confirming its ban of both Alex Jones and Infowars via the Twitter Safety account, citing abusive behavior. Jones’s Twitter page had accumulated nearly 900,000 followers before the suspension, while the Infowars page had accrued around 430,000.


According to a Twitter spokesperson speaking with The Daily Beast, the impetus for the suspension stems from an altercation between Jones and CNN reporter Oliver Darcy during yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Video of the altercation was livestreamed on Twitter. Jones had attended the hearing to, in his own words “face my accusers”—ostensibly meaning Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, both of whom testified regarding their failures to contain misinformation, harassment, and propaganda on their platforms.


Jocelyn Bell Burnell Wins $3 Million Breakthrough Prize for Discovering Pulsars

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Photo: Silicon Republic ( Wikimedia Commons)

Accomplished astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell has won a $3 million Special Breakthrough Prize for her discovery of pulsars 50 years ago and continued leadership in science.

Bell Burnell has lived an accomplished life. Though best known for her discovery, she has become a leader in the field, serving in many top positions at well-known scientific organizations. She will use the prize money to begin a fund for students from underrepresented backgrounds.


“Diversity is very important,” Bell Burnell told Nature. “This also recognizes that I did my most important work as a student.”

Jupiter’s ‘Baffling’ Magnetic Field Is Unlike Any Other

A diagram of the magnetic field in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere, showing the Great Blue Spot.
Graphic: Moore et al ( Nature 2018)

Jupiter is strange for a number of reasons. It’s the biggest planet in our Solar System, of course. It harbors perhaps the most intense radiation environments. And, according to a new study, it has a magnetic field unlike that of any other known planet.

NASA’s Juno orbiter, a basketball court-sized spacecraft, is observing the gas giant as it circles the planet at varying distances. Scientists recently mapped Jupiter’s magnetic field at four depths, and noticed a strange hemispheric dichotomy: The northern hemisphere’s magnetic field was nothing like the southern hemisphere’s.


“It’s a baffling puzzle,” the study’s first author, Harvard Ph.D student Kimberly Moore, told Gizmodo. “Why is it so complicated in the northern hemisphere but so simple in the southern hemisphere?”

Study Claims White Noise Can Damage Your Brain, but Don’t Panic

People with tinnitus hear phantom noises, like ringing bells.
Photo: Stocksnap ( Pixabay)

A recent research review suggests that white noise, the soothing, fuzzy soundtrack so many of us rely on to sleep or block out distractions, could actually be dangerous. It argues that exposure to the random, unstructured sounds that make up white noise can alter the brain’s neural connections that help us perceive sound, leaving us at risk of conditions such as tinnitus and even dementia. But there’s reason to be skeptical of some of the authors’ claims.

Why Every TV Needs a Soundbar

Soundbars are a relatively new invention. The 5.1 surround sound setup—one left speaker, one center, one right, and two rear—used to be the most popular way to improve your home theater’s audio, and it tended to be pretty expensive. Then, in 1998, Altec-Lansing released the world’s first soundbar and changed the way living rooms worked. It’s been two decades since, and thanks to a weird consequence of innovation, pretty much all TVs now require a soundbar.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting the 2018 iPhone Event

Screenshot: Apple

In a little less than a week a horde of rabid souls will cram into the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple campus in Cupertino to watch Tim Cook and friends announce... something. As it’s September it’s safe to assume that something will include an iPhone. But what kind of iPhones and what other gadgets might Apple have in store?

The event kicks off Wednesday, September 12 at 1pm EST/10am PST. You’ll be able to watch it live on Apple’s website, and naturally Gizmodo will be on hand, both in the theater and in our liveblog, to report on the proceedings.


Here’s a primer on what we’re expecting to see.

The Super-Private Tor Browser Gets a Huge Update, But Should You Switch From Chrome?

Image: Tor Project

Chrome wasn’t the only browser to get a visual overhaul this week, because the privacy-focused Tor Browser was also given a new lick of paint, as well as a host of under-the-hood upgrades, and refinements to make it easier to use for newcomers. There are now more reasons than ever to make Tor your daily browser of choice.

More specifically, the Tor Browser has been updated to include the features pushed out in Firefox Quantum, which include a refreshed interface called Photon UI, and a speedier page rendering engine. The Tor Browser has always been based on Firefox, but is now right up to date with the modern look and code.


The DJI Mavic 2 Is Our New Favorite Drone


The idea behind the DJI Mavic promises that any adventurer can take professional-grade aerial photography with a compact drone. That’s probably why the company called the original model the Mavic Pro, even though the drone had its shortcomings. With the Mavic 2 series, however, that proposition gets more interesting with the introduction of interchangeable camera systems which define each new model. This, combined with some nuanced but meaningful design upgrades, makes DJI’s new flagship drone live up to old promises.

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Tom McKay

"... An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups online." - Washington Post