Strangers From Hell, Fungal Acne, MacBook Pro, and Magic Leap: Best Gizmodo Stories of the Week

Graphic: Gizmodo. Screenshots: Various

July 2018 is nearly out the door, and it’s certainly been a long one, ladies and gentlemen. In this era of the 24-hour news cycle, here are some things you may not have remembered happened just weeks ago:

Gizmodo’s IRL Week. Scandal boy and EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigned. They found that Thai soccer team trapped in a cave, Elon Musk went to the cave, people who were not Musk rescued the soccer team, then Musk called one of those other people a pedophile for some reason. Mysterious hums. The beginning of California’s increasingly never-ending wildfire season. And, let’s not forget, the president maybe sending an Elton John CD to North Korea.


Let’s be real, your brain may well be too fried to catch up on all this old stuff (it’s basically history now!). Fortunately, we have you covered with all this crazy good new stuff. Shall we begin? Rhetorical question, it’s mandatory:

When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life

Illustration: Angelica Alzona (Gizmodo)

Monika Glennon has lived in Huntsville, Alabama, for the last 12 years. Other than a strong Polish accent, she fits a certain stereotype of the All-American life. She’s blonde. Her husband is a veteran Marine. Her two children, a boy and a girl, joined the military as adults. She sells houses—she’s a real estate agent at Re/Max—helping others realize their own American dream.

But in September 2015, she was suddenly plunged into an American nightmare. She got a call at 6 a.m. one morning from a colleague at Re/Max telling her something terrible had been posted about her on the Re/Max Facebook page. Glennon thought at first she meant that a client had left her a bad review, but it turned out to be much worse than that.


The New Apple MacBook Pro Is So Good the Price Is Almost Worth It

Photo: Alex Cranz ( Gizmodo)

The newly updated MacBook Pro is good. The battery life is exceptional, the speed is exceptional, the keyboard works, and thanks to Apple embracing the external graphics card concept those 4 USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports are finally good for something. This is an Apple laptop built for work, and it’s about damn time.

Google and Facebook’s Security Guards Are Fighting to Earn a Living Wage

Illustration: Sam Woolley ( Gizmodo)

The effort began at an Applebee’s in Redwood City, a link in a chain of towns that dot that peninsula that connects San Francisco to Silicon Valley. Robert Taitt, a security officer who works on Facebook’s campus, signed his union card there. He was one of the first of more than 3,000 Silicon Valley security officers who guard the campuses of Facebook, Google, and other major tech companies to do so.

Twitter May Be Demoting Controversial Accounts in Search Results

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Photo: Teresa Kroeger ( Getty)

In what appears to be new ranking behavior, Gizmodo has identified several prominent far-right accounts now buried by Twitter’s search feature.

The accounts—which belong to figures like Unite The Right organizer Jason Kessler and white nationalist Richard Spencer—no longer appear in the social platform’s dropdown results, when searching either for their display names or @ handles.


What Is Fungal Acne and Why Do So Many People Suddenly Think They Have It?

Illustration: Angelica Alzona ( Gizmodo)

Have you ever had a breakout that wouldn’t go away for weeks, maybe even months, no matter which products you threw at it? Did it consist of a lot of small bumps? Was it a little itchy?

What you had might not have been real acne at all, but a condition known as pityrosporum folliculitis. Though it looks nearly identical to bacterial acne, this breakout is caused by the fungus pityrosporum, also called malassezia—that’s why many have nicknamed it fungal acne.


“People call it fungal acne because it does look like acne,” Adam Friedman, a dermatologist at the George Washington University School of Medicine, told Gizmodo. “It can even confuse the well-trained eye of a dermatologist sometimes.”

Humans Influenced the Horrific Greek Fires in More Ways Than One

Photo: AP

Greece is the latest corner of our planet to be stricken by wildfires. Powerful winds whipped up flames on Monday, killing at least 60 people as of Tuesday.

A number of factors came together to spark the devastation, many tied to how humans are changing the climate and how we choose to live. Ignoring that context means ignoring a big part of the story and the overwhelming challenges we face as the climate continues to trend hotter and drier.


Hear the Aztec ‘Death Whistle’ That Mystified Scientists

In the 1990s, archeologists in Mexico City unearthed a 500-year-old skeleton near an ancient Aztec temple—a victim of human sacrifice. A grisly discovery, yes, but perhaps even more chilling was what the beheaded skeleton was holding: two small whistles, one in the shape of a skull. When a researcher blew into one of the tiny instruments, the horrifying sounds that emerged immediately captivated imaginations. One scholar described the noise as “a shriek of death.”


Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Rumors: Everything We’ve Heard So Far

Image: Samsung

Even though we’re still in the middle of summer, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 launch is less than two weeks away. With the launch scheduled to take place on August 9th—two to three weeks earlier than previous Note launches in years past—the Note 9 looks like it’s trying real hard to get out in front of Apple and Google before they release their devices later this fall.

Magic Leap Gives Us a Peek at Its Interface, and It’s Not So Bad

Magic Leap’s homescreen.
Image: Magic Leap

Magic Leap has promised it’ll start shipping its mixed-reality headset by the end of the summer, and it’s going to need developers to get cranking on content. New additions to developer guide show us what its operating system will look like. The verdict: It looks pretty nice.

The Biggest Winners and Losers of San Diego Comic-Con 2018


Comic-Con 2018 has come to a close, and whether io9 staff were seeing it up close and personal in San Diego or watching from afar back home, we experienced a lot. There was good and bad this year, as always, but we have to admit this time around we were pleasantly surprised by just how great the convention was.

Google Wants You to Use Physical Security Keys So Bad It’s Willing to Sell You One

Image: Google

Google really, really wants you to use physical security keys to protect yourself from hackers. After announcing that its 85,000 employees have managed to go more than a year without getting phished because of mandated security devices, Google now has its own physical security key to sell you.

On Wednesday, the company announced its new Titan security key, a device that protects your accounts by restricting two-factor authentication to the physical world. It’s available as a USB stick and in a Bluetooth variation, and like similar products by Yubico and Feitian, it utilizes the protocol approved by the FIDO alliance. That means it’ll be compatible with pretty much any service that enables users to turn on Universal 2nd Factor Authentication (U2F).


The Expanse Showrunner Talks About the Move to Amazon and What’s Coming in Season 4

Amos (Wes Chatham) and Alex (Cas Anvar) having some Real Talk.
Photo: Rafy ( Syfy)

There was a grim moment this spring when Syfy announced that The Expanse’s third season would be its last on the network—and the future of the beloved sci-fi series was in serious doubt. But with Amazon stepping in, The Expanse will be back, and last week at San Diego Comic-Con, we got a chance to talk to showrunner Naren Shankar about what’s to come.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies Is Basically a PG, Animated Deadpool

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is a hell of a lot of fun.
Photo: Warner Bros.

As someone who’d never watched any of the various Teen Titans animated series, I had no idea what to expect sitting down for Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. Was this going to be a film made only for kids? Would it warrant its cinematic release? How funny or clever could it really be? The answers were both quick and gratifying.

Ajit Pai Gives Congress New, Less Convincing Reason for Evading ‘DDoS’ Questions

Photo: AP

The FCC’s chronic refusal to answer a few simple questions about an alleged security incident that supposedly wrecked its comment system has reached its final form. Despite being pressed for a straightforward response by a half-dozen lawmakers over the past year, the agency’s Republican chairman, like a malingering chicken, always finds a way to dodge the questions and shirk accountability. The latest example only happens to be the most laughable so far.

A Short, Uncomplicated Guide to Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s Long, Complicated Love Life

Peter has a dream of a life together with MJ again in Amazing Spider-Man #1.
Image: Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, Laura Martin, and Joe Caramagna ( Marvel Comics)

Few couples in comic book history come close to the stature of Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker. Even though they haven’t actually been a couple in the comics for over a decade—something that could be about to change—Pete and MJ’s relationship has been one of the most dramatic and beloved in comics. Given that their complicated history might be about to resume once more, here’s a brief rundown of their shared past.

This Latest Straw Ban Also Comes With a Ban on Toxic Food Packaging

Warning: Food packaging may contain PFAS.
Photo: yum9me (yum9me )

From Disney World to Seattle, plastic straw bans have become, well, trendy. So it’s perhaps no surprise that San Francisco became the latest city to move toward banning the drink accessory, as well as unrequested napkins and utensils for deliveries and take out, earlier this week (it still requires a second vote to be finalized).

But what’s unique is that the California city is targeting more than just plastics. It plans to eliminate single-use food containers that contain fluorinated substances, also known as PFAS. That would put the city among the first places in the country to ban them.


I Can’t Wait to Break Samsung’s First ‘Unbreakable’ Display

Image: Samsung

Samsung proudly announced today that its “unbreakable smartphone panel” has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This means this ultra durable display is much closer to very profitable things like military and automotive contracts. But let’s be serious. Somebody’s gonna find a way to break this thing, and I hope it’s me.

Will Climate Change Actually Increase Suicide Rates?

A new study pins the blame on heat.
Photo: AP

Climate change is a public health crisis from its impacts on air quality to wiping out the healthcare systems we need to stave off sickness. Even the air conditioning we’ll need to beat the heat is likely to make things worse.

A new study published Monday in Nature Climate Change adds to the growing list of climate-related health threats, concluding that rising temperatures are likely to cause more suicides. The study showed that the increased heat could lead to as many as 40,000 additional suicides in the U.S. and Mexico by 2050 if global carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory.


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Tom McKay

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