Westworld Returns, Amazon's Food Stamp Problem, and DOJ Porn: Best Gizmodo Stories of the Week

Image: HBO, HBO, Apple, Photo: Lea Kissner

This world is not what it seems. Lurking beneath the sloppy mess and noise of our interconnected world lies something deeper, something secret—a maze of everlasting mysteries one can only hope to solve in this lifetime. Either that or it’s all just really, really dumb. If only we had a sign...

DOJ’s Amber Alert Website Redirected Visitors to Hardcore Porn

Screenshot: Amberalert.gov (Gizmodo)

A website run by the US Justice Department and used to gather information about missing and abducted children redirected visitors to porn sites with names such as “schoolgirl porn” and “ungrateful huge boobs Indian wife being a slut,” Gizmodo has discovered.

Meet the Woman Who Leads NightWatch, Google’s Internal Privacy Strike Force

Photo: Lea Kissner

Lea Kissner is back at her alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, armed with a crisp gray blazer, a slide deck, and a laptop with a ‘My Other Car Is A Pynchon Novel’ sticker on it. Since graduating in 2002, she’s earned a PhD at Carnegie Mellon in cryptography and worked her way up at Google, where she manages user privacy and tries to keep things from breaking. She’s here to tell a hall of computer science students how she did it—and also how to create privacy-protective systems at a scale that you won’t find outside a handful of massive tech companies.

Our First Look at AMD’s Second-Generation Ryzen CPU Is Proof It’s No One Hit Wonder

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

Last year AMD finally gave us something we desperately needed with the release of Ryzen: A viable rival to Intel in the CPU space. The rivalry has meant faster CPUs for desktops and laptops as each company races to surpass the other, but there’s a potential problem for AMD. It doesn’t have the same track record for improved performance as Intel. In the past it’s stumbled, barely keeping pace with its larger competitor. If competition is going to be sustained—if we’re going to have long term competition that drives down prices and puts faster chips in our computers, than even a minor architecture change from AMD needs to have big and speedy results. The second generation of Ryzen does.

Why in the World Did Ancient Humans Perform Brain Surgery On This Cow?

Photo: Fernando Ramirez Rozzi

Humans have been drilling holes into each others’ heads for thousands of years, and, surprisingly, we’ve actually been pretty good at it, even way back when. A re-analysis of a 5,000-year-old cow’s skull suggests humans were performing cranial surgery on animals as well—but why would they even bother? The answer could yield new insights into ancient human behavior and the origin of practices that still exist to this very day.

Here’s a Crash Course in Westworld Before the Season Two Premiere

Image: John P. Johnson (HBO)

Usually we title these kinds of guides “everything you need to know about XYZ show.” But HBO’s Westworld isn’t easily summed up or explained. A huge part of its appeal is that it’s so enigmatic, dropping clues and teasing out mysteries as its story builds. To fully appreciate season two, it’d be best to watch season one first—preferably twice—but if time is an issue (or if you just need a season one refresher), here’s a crash course.

This Swordsmith Hacks Ancient Weapons to Unlock the Secrets of Viking Metallurgy


Jeff Pringle is an Oakland-based swordsmith, so it’s no surprise he has hundreds of pre-industrial and viking-era swords, axes, knives and other sharp, wonderful artifacts in his collection. But Pringle describes his collection as almost “accidental,” and the way he uses his collection has put the blades he makes himself in high demand among living history fans eager to use a weapon as close to historically accurate as possible.

The First Gaming Phone With RGB Lighting Is So Silly, It’s Awesome

Image: Nubia

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a long time, and I’m actually a little surprised it’s only happening now. But with the launch of the Nubia’s Red Magic, there’s finally a gaming phone with built-in RGB lighting.

What Is HD Vinyl and Is It Legit?

Photo: Getty

Last week a nerdier segment of the music world was abuzz with the news that an Austrian company Rebeat had taken a $4.8 million dollar investment to help bring its “HD vinyl” records to market by mid 2019. Huh? HD vinyl? How does one make the last analog music storage format (that people still care about) high-definition? It screamed pure marketing buzzwordship to us, but we consulted with some experts and surprise, it seems there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic.

A Worrying Number of Amazon’s Warehouse Workers Are Reportedly Living Off Food Stamps

Photo: Getty

Amazon bills itself as a creator of jobs. Look no further than the ludicroussubsidy packages offered by cities in competition to host its second headquarters. But according to public records requests obtained by the Intercept, Amazon can drain public coffers in other ways, with five states listing Bezos’s empire as a top beneficiary of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance dollars.

A Brief History of George R.R. Martin’s Annoyance at Lady Stoneheart’s Exclusion From Game of Thrones

Image: HBO

George R.R. Martin has two strong consistencies in his professional life. One is writing infuriatingly mouthwatering food descriptions. The other is repeatedly reminding the world that he’s still not over Game of Thrones cutting one of his favorite characters from the novels: Lady Stoneheart.

The Quest to Teach AI to Write Pop Songs

Illustration: Elena Scotti (Gizmodo)

David Cope didn’t set out to make anyone mad. In 1980, the composer envisioned a tool to help cure his creative block: a machine that could keep track of all the sounds and loose threads running through his mind, find similarities, and produce an entire piece of music inspired by it. So he built it.

My Journey to the Vape Industry’s Bleeding Edge

Screenshot: Gizmodo

In recent years, vaping has come into its own as a hobbyist community, cigarette-quitting alternative, and industry. There’s a vape or vape product for just about every type of smoker or vaper. From people who want to recreate the tight draw and high nicotine content of a cigarette, to the famed cloud-chasers and “flavor nuts” chasing the wildest new tastebud craze.

I dropped in on VapEvent 2018, a mostly business-to-business trade show, to learn about the hottest new trends. And good news, there was A LOT happening.


Everyone Missed This Amazing Detail in That FKA Twigs Apple Commercial

Screenshot: Apple (Gizmodo)

Last month, Apple released a snazzy new music video commercial directed by Spike Jonze with music by Anderson Paak and starring FKA Twigs. So far it has been viewed roughly 8,725,000 on YouTube. I can’t be the only one that noticed this incredibly dark switcheroo it pulls right in front of your eyes.

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About the author

Andrew Couts

Managing Editor, Gizmodo

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