Here at VICE’s shopping team, we’re a jack of all trades: -latte-art making, sidewalk-running, and finding Herman Miller dupes, to name just a few. We do it for love of the add-to-cart game, and with Valentine’s Day coming up, we’re showing our love for you, dear reader, by wrangling all the flaming hot bargains so you could get a head start on not getting dumped for the sixth time. (Pro tip: buy a dang gift early!)
That’s right—it’s time for our weekly roundup of the hottest deals and sales. Last week, we became at-home juice-bar baristas with Breville’s big sale, started getting our steps in while working with an under desk walking pad, and even re-upped our winter-to-spring wardrobe with deals from Abercrombie. This week, we’re heading outdoors to hit the slopes with deals on top-tier outdoor gear; tuning up our living room with a new couch and TV deals to score pre-Super Bowl Sunday; and hunkering down in the kitchen (aka: making obscene amounts of soup) in a new Le Creuset pot. Say bon appétit to these deals.The best deals on Amazon this week
Actually eat your vegetables with this 13-in-one chopper, slicer, dicer, and cutter for 35% off.
Add just a touch of *fancy* with this laptop stand for 38% off.
And these retro keyboards are just super fun for 28% off.The best tech deals this week
B&H has tons of specials for the upcoming Super Bowl on TVs, projectors, speakers, and streaming media players.
Le Creuset (aka the king of French cookware) is in the midst of its Winter Savings Event with its iconic Dutch ovens for up to 50% off.
Tushy is offering its Ace Electric Bidet Seat for $200 off.
Dame has bundles for up to 30% off for a *sexy night* in.
The North Face has items for up to 50% off for all your outdoor endeavors.
Catch ya next week.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.
What’s better than a donut on Valentine’s Day? Eight donuts that spell out “I love you,” placed on a Swarovski-studded platter and served to your boo after she’s scarfed down a tomahawk steak with the words “MARRY ME, BRENDA??” engraved into the side. Customization has come a long way since the Gutenberg Bible, baby, and there’s no better time to take advantage of humanity’s inanso ability to individualize absolutely everything than with personalized Valentine’s Day gifts.
The best personalized Valentine’s Day gifts run the gamut from custom board games and classy photo albums (never not in style), to jewelry that is sweet—but not tacky—and cookware that comes with a personal touch. We’ve found personalized sex toys for spicing things up on those black silk sheets, custom-painted leather jackets, Carhartt tool bags, and so many other ways of saying I <3 YOU.Photo albums will always slap
Nothing shows how much you’ve been clocking the important moments with your Valentine quite like a beautiful, tangible collection of curated pictures in a linen-covered photo album with up to 50 pages for your cherished memories.Say “I love you” with steak
You can’t beat this meat, baby. Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors are third-generation meat slingers from New Jersey, and they’ve got a 40-ounce tomahawk steak with your lover’s name on it.They’re the Homer to your Marge
A personalized four-across game to commemorate whatever anniversary is dearest to your heart, from the first time you kissed to that time your partner fought a swole kangaroo at that open air animal park.A personalized notebook
Is your SO an aspiring poet? A writer of limericks, sketch artist, or a hard-to-shop-for Virgo who’s obsessed with making lists? If so, they’ll appreciate a personalized journal and cool planner for keeping their flashes of genius—or at least their grocery list—organized.They’re kind of a tool bag, but they’re your tool bag
Embroider this Carhartt tool bag with any two-line personalization you want, so everyone else on the job site will know that they’re DADDI’S KINKEE BB.‘Til plug do us part
What better way to pop the question than with a personalized sex toy? This silver anal plug comes as a cute ring, and in a very accessible size for butt stuff beginners and seasoned players alike.They’re your ride-or-die
“See? I love you more than my Camel Crushes, baby. It says so on this jacket.”The best personalized gift for chefs
Whether they’re a legit chef or just someone who likes to garnish everything with Maldon salt and a sprig of something green, your food-loving boo will appreciate a personalized cast iron skillet from Smithey Ironware, who make some of the best cast iron skillets out there.Sock it to them
Yes, it really is as easy as uploading a picture of your face onto socks. You’ll be that much closer to their feet, which is always your goal as their sole discerning lover.A cardboard cutout of your face
Your love will arrive home after an exhausting day at work, and from the corner of their eye they see your shining face—somehow, even though you live 400 miles away—in the form of a cutout peering out from behind the bed. Romance ain’t dead, even if Ben Affleck did act TRÈS rude to that lifesize cutout of Ana de Armas.Of course personalized underwear
There’s nothing remotely more romantic than having your face on your partner’s junk.You can’t go wrong
When all else fails, you can just take the classic route with flowers. But, these have the potential to last at least a year (!).A personalized necklace for your hot stallion
Commemorate the date you and your boo got together with an engraved necklace. They’ll be so thrilled you can surely expect sexy time afterwards.
Wishing you and yours a tasty, romantic, pleather-filled V-Day.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.
Hey, Dry January folks—there are only five short days until you can imbibe—and we’ve got two big drinking holidays coming up in February: Valentine's Day (yes, many of us need booze to get through it) and Super Bowl Sunday [crushes beer can on head]. Until then, this week’s coolest drops should quench your thirst (both literally and metaphorically) with new collabs and offerings from many of our favorite brands.
Last week, we spiced things up with Fly by Jing’s Sichuan Gold chile oil; let out our inner rebel, rebel with limited-edition Bowie Polaroid film; and geared up for spring with Dickies’ new line of classic jawns in lavender and chocolate brown. This week, we’re getting decked out in Fenty’s new Game Day collection to watch the Rihanna concert big game, turning up the romance with Umamicart’s Valentine’s Day gift sets, and finishing out dry January strong with a sparkly N/A beverage party pack—plus dishing out a ton of other truly titillating drops to finish the first month of the year out strong. Let’s get it.Umamicart launches new Valentine’s Day box sets
Whether your romance is extra spicy, or super-saccharine sweet, our favorite female-founded online Asian grocer Umamicart has put together a slew of extra special gift sets for the significant other whose love language is food. We’re drooling over the sweet and spicy gift box, which contains our two favorite chile crisps from Momofuku and Fly by Jing, as well as Fossa lychee rose dark milk chocolate and Deux Cranes dark chocolate with strawberry bars that are sure to please your boo or yourself.Fenty’s big game day collection
We’re taking bets on who our girl RiRi is gonna bring out during halftime—Jay-Z? Britney Spears? Kendrick? Regardless, we’ll be fully frothing, mouths agape, wearing a head-to-toe Savage X Fenty look in honor of the occasion. Number one on the list is this incredible tee that flips up to reveal the face of our lord and savior herself fully kitted in a football jersey that you can flash anytime you don’t know what's happening in the game. For the dudes, there are limited-edition LVII sweats just in case none of your teams made it to the big game, but you still wanna show your game-day spirit.Tracy’s Dog launches the OG Flow
Dry January? Never heard of her…with the newest launch from one of our fave sex toy brands, Tracy’s Dog it's sure to be a sopping wet February. Its newest pleasure provider is the OG Flow, a 2-in-1 clit-sucking vibrator that can be bent into a bunch of different positions for all sorts of play (and plenty of big O’s, naturally). It’s also completely waterproof and has 10 levels of intensity to fit every need.Ninja launches a new 12-in-1 countertop double oven
Babe, are the wings, fries, jalapeño poppers, and mozz sticks ready yet? With Ninja’s new 12-in-1 countertop oven, you can cook a whole meal (or a smorgasbord of apps) in two separate ovens with varying temperatures, and with different cooking functions—think: air fry in one, while roasting in the other. The options are pretty much endless, and perfect for entertaining a large group of hangry football fans.Crocs’ NBA All-Star collection
The Crocs gods have smiled down upon us this week, with a fuego collaboration just in time for NBA All-Star weekend. The holey clog company has outfitted the two hottest styles (Echo and Mega Crush) with logos from all the top NBA teams, and come with two limited-edition Jibbitz that feature a metallic “NBA Logoman” charm and a 2023 NBA All-Star charm, plus plenty of other team-specific Jibbitz to show your pride.A sparkly N/A party pack
With all of the dank non-alcoholic options currently on the market, more and more peeps are choosing to forgo drinking in favor of a hangover-free tomorrow. If you’re someone who’s thinking about turning Dry January into a year-long thing, De Soi’s latest party pack is perfect for ringing in the rest of the year, designed to have all the fun of Champagne cocktails without any of the alcohol. This glittery kit comes with a bottle of its Golden Hour sparkling aperitif, a four-pack of Purple Lune (a more full-bodied, fruit-forward sparkling aperitif), and a carton of 10 Fancy Sprinkles edible glitter packets that turn your bevs into shimmering little lava lamps.Fishwife launches anchovies
Woot woot woot! Tinned-fish lovers rejoice—our beloved Fishwife, one of the brands responsible for bringing canned seafood back into the spotlight, just launched Cantabrian Anchovies, packed in extra virgin olive oil, and we couldn’t be more delighted. If you haven’t yet delved into the world of delightfully smoked and preserved tinned fish, these anchovies are the perfect way to get your feet wet.Flower by Edie Parker launches Ice pipes
In the words of Gucci Mane: “Brrrr.” The newest and coolest launch from Flower by Edie Parker is the Ice Pipe, which also comes in an (ice, ice) baby size. This super cold glass smoking device comes in three chilly colors, and two sizes for the ideal winter-sesh.
Stay chill, pals.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.
We’re setting boundaries as the moon in Aries connects with Saturn in Aquarius at 10:13 AM, and could be challenging the status quo as the moon squares off with Pluto in Capricorn at 4:01 PM! Our determination is strong as the moon enters Taurus at 6:42 PM, and the moon in Taurus connects with Venus in Pisces at 8:56 PM, inspiring collaboration.
All times ET.
Stay in the cosmic loop with the VICE horoscopes newsletter. Get horoscopes straight to your inbox when you sign up here!Aries: March 20, 2023 - April 20, 2023
Your focus may turn to finances, security, and comfort as the moon enters earth sign Taurus. The moon mingles with Venus in Pisces, inspiring you to find a way to make your biggest fantasies come true!Taurus: April 20, 2023 - May 21, 2023
The moon enters your zodiac sign today, Taurus, encouraging you to get in touch with your feelings and take care of your emotional needs. The moon connects with your ruling planet Venus, now in Pisces, which can find you making valuable social connections.Gemini: May 21, 2023 - June 21, 2023
The moon enters Taurus, encouraging you to slow down and rest. The fruits of your labor may be very sweet indeed as the moon mingles with Venus in Pisces! Attention for your hard work may come your way.Cancer: June 21, 2023 - July 22, 2023
Your attention can turn to your social life as the moon enters Taurus, and you could feel quite popular as the moon connects with Venus in Pisces. An inspiring, meaningful conversation takes place.Leo: July 22, 2023 - August 23, 2023
You and a partner may be reaching an important agreement as the moon in Aries connects with Saturn in Aquarius. Your focus can turn to your career or your life in the public eye as the moon enters Taurus.Virgo: August 23, 2023 - September 23, 2023
The moon in Aries squares off with Pluto in Capricorn, inspiring a dynamic, passionate atmosphere. The moon enters Taurus, which can find you exploring a new opportunity. The moon connects with Venus in Pisces, boding well for communication in your relationships.Libra: September 23, 2023 - October 23, 2023
You and your partners may discuss financial matters as the moon enters Taurus. The moon connects with your ruling planet Venus in Pisces, inspiring a collaborative atmosphere. You could be settling a debt or releasing the past in some significant way.Scorpio: October 23, 2023 - November 22, 2023
An intense discussion or big change in your routine may take place as the moon in Aries squares off with your ruling planet Pluto in Capricorn. The moon enters Taurus, lighting up the relationship sector of your chart, and the moon connects with Venus in Pisces, inspiring romance!Sagittarius: November 22, 2023 - December 21, 2023
The moon in Aries connects with Saturn in Aquarius, inspiring a productive atmosphere for communication, and you might be reorganizing your schedule as the moon enters Taurus. The moon connects with Venus in Pisces, perhaps finding you busy redecorating your space.Capricorn: December 21, 2023 - January 20, 2024
The moon in Aries squares off with Pluto in your sign, Capricorn, which can find you confronting an important issue in your personal life. But you’re ready to have fun as the moon enters Taurus, and sweet messages may arrive as the moon mingles with Venus in Pisces.Aquarius: January 20, 2023 - February 18, 2023
The moon in Aries connects with your ruling planet Saturn in your sign, Aquarius, which can inspire productive discussions about the future. The moon enters Taurus, too, bringing your attention to your home and family life. A lovely gift may arrive as the moon mingles with Venus in Pisces.Pisces: February 18, 2023 - March 20, 2023
The moon enters Taurus today, illuminating the communication sector of your chart. A kind, inspiring, or romantic message may be shared as the moon mingles with Venus in your zodiac sign, Pisces!
Dudes, if you’re sans a leather jacket in your repertoire, then you are seriously missing out on easy opportunities to put together a top-tier fit without even thinking. No clean laundry? Leather jacket. Not sure how fancy the evening’s dinner attire should be? Leather jacket. It’s the fool-proof way to always look hot, cool, and pulled together with minimal effort, regardless of the season. The Onion was right: Owning a cool leather jacket is more rewarding than raising children, no doubt about it.
You don’t even have to just take our word for it—close your eyes and imagine your number one style-inspo man-crush. Is it Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Tyler Durden, James Dean? Now, what do they all have in common? You don’t have to think too hard to imagine an iconic image of them in—you guessed it—a leather jacket that enhances their personal style and ups their cool factor.
We’ve found the best leather jackets in every category, from badass motorcycle jackets to 70s himbo-esque leather blazers, so you can find the style that best works with your existing wardrobe. Whether you’re looking to make a big statement and school all those posers in Dimes Square, or you’re trying to impress some bougie soon-to-be-inlaws, these jackets offer an instant je ne sais quoi. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your lives, studs.The best leather motorcycle jackets (worthy of Steve McQueen)
Biker or moto jackets are the OG, and what most people think of when they think of a leather jacket is without a doubt a motorcycle silhouette. They’re easily identified by their sturdy construction, statement collar, and multitude of zippered pockets, so you can crank your hog (or run for the train) without worrying about losing your AirPods or paperback copy of The Stranger.
If you were to take a poll of where all the handsome, mysterious men in New York wearing leather moto jackets procured their wares, their answers will likely come from iconic NYC leather jacket label Schott or (for a more fashion-focused fella) Acne Studios or AllSaints—the uniform of downtown cool kids and Brooklyn bartenders alike.
That said, if you’re on a budget, Blank makes an excellent moto style for less than $250.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, we highly recommend going with Schott’s perfectly worn-in brown leather, or Cult of Individuality’s tribute to the Sex Pistols.The best aviator jackets (á la Leo as Howard Hughes )
Maybe you don’t identify with the rock n’ roll aesthetic—you’re a classicist. You like jazz, “you’re very important, have many leather-bound books and [your] apartment smells of rich mahogany.” You need a supple leather bomber (perhaps with shearling details) that screams, “I just flew in from the Cape.” An aviator jacket is also excellent for colder weather as they tend to be fully lined and insulated (pilot’s license not required).The best leather blazers (for a disco homage to Saturday Night Fever)
Burn baby burn, disco inferno. We can’t deny that the 70s are having a big comeback—in terms of hot himbo-style, interior design-trends, and heavenly porn-staches that make all the girls (and gays) swoon. Think leather blazers, snakeskin, and cognac-colored jackets.The best suede jackets (for giving Paul Newman vibes)
You’re a guy's guy. You drink whiskey neat, and you hang your own drywall. That said, even tough guys get dressed up and hit the town every now and then. If you want to look like Butch Cassidy on his way to a fine steak dinner, you can't go wrong with a nubby suede jacket or overshirt, perfect for layering.The best vegan leather jackets (because Morissey is daddy)
You don’t have to sacrifice your beliefs (or the life of an animal) to look fully swagged out in a leather look. There are plenty of vegan leather options in every price range. Hands down, the GOAT of vegan leather is Nanushka—its pieces are nearly indiscernible from natural leather, and the quality can’t be beat. On the whole, even if you’re not doing it for personal or environmental reasons, vegan leather in general is a great option if you are looking to expand your wardrobe and already have a big investment piece in your closet.
Zip-up that sex-appeal to 1,000, my guys.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals?Sign up for our newsletter.
In the old days, we were at the mercy of our televisions. Before we entered the home technology upshift of DVDs and Blu-rays and the current Golden Age of Streaming™, we had to simply watch “whatever was on.” After school, we couldn’t just zone out to our favorite TV show; and at night, there was no binging (unless there was a Star Trek marathon or something). Now that I’ve outed myself as a 90s-raised millennial, I have enough cred to declare that we now live in awesome times. You might hate being alive right now, and I’m sorry to hear it, but with an impending new season of Succession coming on HBOMax sometime this spring, I not only love life, but must continue living it!
Through some kind of unbelievable wizardry, we can watch whatever garbage our hearts desire for as long as we want, and at any time of day. That, in and of itself, is pretty wild; but what’s even more amazing is the fact that there are so many streaming services, and all of them offer something different. Into old foreign films? Live NBA games? 00s-era serial TV? Whatever Rick and Morty is? (No, seriously, I’ve never seen it—what is it?) Whatever you are into, there’s a great streaming service that can make all your dreams come true.
Let’s be real: You probably already have at least a couple streaming services (or at least steal them from your friends and family). But with most of them being fairly inexpensive these days, it’s time to access a whole new world of entertainment by gifting yourself a fresh service. So turn on your beloved TV, crank that killer sound bar, and get that email address and strong password ready. Here’s our official ranking of the 10 best streaming services.10. Disney+
I mean, you already know what it is: Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, and a whole library of stuff from your childhood. New Disney+ shows like The Mandalorian and Andor are excellent, and the streaming channel made the smart choice of taking over the fantastic Daredevil from Netflix, who very stupidly canceled it (sorry, Netflix). Original films are here, like Peter Jackson’s Beatles doc Get Back and, frankly, a bunch of stuff for children that I haven’t seen. On that note, I definitely get a nostalgia watch (I just finished rewatching all the Star Wars prequels, which absolutely rule, don’t @-me), but if you’re an adult, committing to rewatching Boy Meets World, Hannah Montana, Kim Possible, and Even Stevens seems a little hardcore; The Simpsons, however, you should queue up immediately.
Worth it if: you stan Marvel and Star Wars, you are one of those adult Disney freaks, you want to watch every season of The Simpsons (a noble undertaking), or you have kids.
Subscribe to Disney+ for $7.99/month with ads or $10.99/month with no ads here.9. Sling
Like its predecessor, “Whatever Was On,” Sling is all about live TV: You can get packages that come with CNN, ESPN, Bravo, AMC, VICE (!), TNT, and more, meaning that you can watch all your fave cable stuff and new episodes in real time. Rec Room’s resident sports freak (and senior strategist) Kate Spencer, loves Sling—for sports heads, channels like MLB Network, Tennis Channel, NBA TV, NHL Network, Golf Channel, and more are available.
Worth it if: you only watch things with balls or pucks in them, you remember “flipping channels,” or you love watching new shows as they air.
Subscribe to Sling starting at $20/month here.8. Peacock
Peacock feels like the wholesome family that lives next door: You might not be into the same stuff as them or live the same way, but it’s hard to dislike them. In addition to having Yellowstone (your dad’s favorite show), you can watch old 2000s and 2010s comedy classics like The Office and Parks and Recreation, or amazing films like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (underrated, one of Nicolas Cage’s very best), Nope, Uncut Gems, The Godfather, and Step Brothers. It also has every Saturday Night Live episode as well as a bunch of the big Bravo stuff, so if you’re into Top Chef or Real Housewives, this is going to be your haven (if you’re very into whatever falls under the NBC Universal corporate umbrella). Overall, the Must See TV vibe is strong here.
Worth it if: you love classic NBC shows or if you’re obsessed with the Bravo Cinematic Universe (Real Housewives, Project Runway, Vanderpump Rules, Below Deck, et cetera).
Subscribe to Peacock Premium for $4.99/month, Premium Plus for $9.99/month, or for $29.99/year with the code NEWYEAR23 here.7. Netflix
Netflix was one of the first in the game, and we have to respect that. I remember subscribing to the DVDs-in-the-mail service almost 20 years ago, and it was amazing. This year, however, Netflix is experiencing some growing pains; every new show and film look the same, and seem to have the same filters, cinematography, and general style. That said, the platform created and has acquired some top-tier shows, like Stranger Things, Cobra Kai, I Think You Should Leave, Bojack Horseman, and Dark. But they’ve also canceled plenty of great things (Daredevil, The OA, Glow, Mindhunter), making me less likely to trust the brand and get invested in its series.
Worth it if: you are still attached to Breaking Bad, like watching classic mainstream films (Netflix has a great library of movies), or just have FOMO at the water cooler (read: on Twitter) when you haven’t seen the coolest new show.
Subscribe to Netflix starting at $6.99/month here.6. Paramount+
Paramount is synonymous with movies, and there’s plenty, new and old, to check out here. Some bangers are: Interstellar, The Wolf of Wall Street, Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible films, Minority Report, and Top Gun: Maverick. (Wow, maybe let’s just call it the Tom Cruise channel!) It’s also the home of the Star Trek and Godfather franchises, all the CSI spinoffs, and TV originals like Halo, Star Trek: Picard, Mayor of Kingstown, and Tulsa King. (I heard some older dudes talking about Tulsa King on the Amtrak the other day, and I’m pretty close to clicking that trial button.) Because of the Paramount and Viacom merger, Paramount+ also features a ton of legacy content from MTV, VH1, BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon (including Jersey Shore, early seasons of the Real World, Beavis and Butt-Head, and much, much more.)
Worth it if: you love BIG MOVIES, you hang out with your dad a lot, or you need to see the next season of Yellowstone when it drops.
Subscribe to Paramount+ Essential for $4.99/month or Premium for $9.99/month here.5. Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime is like that old hometown friend you have that you still hit up every time you pass through, and while you know you’ll be great friends for the rest of your life, it’s not quite as exciting as it used to be. For me, Prime is best for renting films (they have everything, new and old, and many films can be rented for, like, three bucks) and scoping out the occasional new show. The Boys, Jack Ryan, Reacher, and The Rings of Power are definitely worth keeping up with, and Fleabag (aka one of the greatest TV shows of all time in any genre) is also a notable exclusive. You can also rent/buy new and old shows from other channels, which includes basically all legacy TV shows; some of the ones included with Prime free of charge are Downton Abbey, House, Ally McBeal, The Bernie Mac Show, Mr. Robot (another all-timer IMO), and Billions.
Worth it if: you want access to renting almost any movie, haven’t seen Mr. Robot, Fleabag, and Downton Abbey, or don’t mind paying $1.99 an episode to keep up with new shows.
Subscribe to Amazon Prime for $14.99/month here.4. Apple TV+
Apple’s TV shows are absolute fire. If you haven’t seen Ted Lasso or Severance yet, I strongly urge you to smash that subscribe button right now. There’s so much here that it’s hard to keep up with—I’ve still got Black Bird, Servant, and Mr. Corman to get through, and I’m eagerly awaiting the new season of The Morning Show, which is one of my favorite shows currently on TV. With Apple TV+, you can also rent new films and shows, meaning it’s pretty much a one stop shop for new media (the tradeoff is that it doesn’t have the huge back-catalog of Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix). Apple also produces some pretty cool original films, like Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, the Joel Coen/Denzel Washington reading of The Tragedy of Macbeth, and 2022 Oscar winner CODA. Overall, an awesome streaming service.
Worth it if: Ted Lasso exists.
Subscribe to Apple TV+ for $6.99/month here.3. Hulu
Hulu is the second-most utilized streaming service in my household, and by a huge margin. The film selection is fine, but the TV shows are extensive, especially if you’re into reality TV (Bachelor nation rise up), cooking shows, cool new stuff (Atlanta, Dave, What We Do In The Shadows), old bangers (Homeland, The OC, Friday Night Lights), a wide array of true crime and original documentaries, and big funnies (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Letterkenny, Schitt’s Creek, 30 Rock). Hulu is an oasis of goodness, where you can always find something dope. Hulu also has Frasier, which should seal the deal (it definitely did for Rec Room senior writer Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp).
Worth it if: you keep up with The Bachelor(ette), haven’t seen The Handmaid’s Tale yet (guilty!), need to watch new cable TV episodes the day after they drop, or want access to all 43 seasons of Survivor.
Subscribe to Hulu with ads for $7.99/month or without ads for $14.99/month here.2. The Criterion Channel
If you love art films, classic Hollywood movies, under-the-radar masterpieces, and foreign films, The Criterion Channel is going to be your new best friend. Not only will you constantly be presented with curated collections and sets that will expose you to awesome new and old movies, but you’ll basically have access to most of the Criterion Collection library. I’m talkin’ films by Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, Varda, Fellini, Akerman, Chaplin, Hitchcock, Bresson, Godard, Lynch, Kiarostami… the list goes on and on. Not much TV on Criterion, but watching through Fassbinder’s 15-hour epic Berlin Alexanderplatz could bring a similar experience.
Worth it if: the thought of experiencing a bunch of modern civilization’s greatest artistic achievements is exciting to you.
Subscribe to The Criterion Channel for $10.99/month here.1. HBOMax
What can I say about HBO that you don’t already know? From The Sopranos, The Wire, and Sex and the City to Succession, The White Lotus, Game of Thrones, and Euphoria, the cable channel formerly known as “Home Box Office” has become one of the biggest forces in culture of the past 25 years. Hell, there’s literally only two episodes of The Last of Us out so far, and I already know it’s going to be some legacy shit. And the limited series are incredible: We Are Who We Are, Angels in America, I May Destroy You, Band of Brothers, The Night Of… the list continues. Oh, and HBO gets a ton of great (or at least hyped) new films (right now: The Banshees of Inisherin, The Menu, Elvis, The Batman, Don’t Worry Darling) within days of their theatrical release. And it has Degrassi: The Next Generation and Gossip Girl, so there’s that.
Worth it if you still rewatch The Sopranos regularly [raises hand], need to know what all the White Lotus memes are about, want to peep the Lord of the Rings extended editions, or haven’t seen Elvis yet (a masterpiece).
Subscribe to HBOMax with ads for $9.99/month or with no ads for $15.99/month here.
Whether you want to mainline the 5-hour version of Fanny and Alexander, peep the Super Bowl live, or re-watch DuckTales (even though you’re 36 years old), there’s something here for you, and it’ll probably cost just a few bucks a month. For less than the price of almost any meal, why not treat yourself? And feel free to HMU for recs, though I’m currently watching the new seasons of Jack Ryan, Hell’s Kitchen, and The Bachelor and rewatching Friday Night Lights and Curb Your Enthusiasm, so it might take me a minute to reply.
You've probably seen him recently, on your new and chaotic "For You" page on Twitter, whether you wanted to or not. He's the "menswear guy," or @dieworkwear if you want to refer to his handle, but you can call him Derek Guy, and his sudden viral fame after posting steadily for years about how men can dress themselves better hasn't been entirely smooth sailing.
"In the beginning I got annoyed," Guy told Motherboard over the phone, explaining that "the default mood on Twitter is just anger, so it doesn't feel good." He's posted about talking to his therapist about an imagined rabble of Twitter users who hate him. But what did he do? Guy's posts are humorous, and helpful, and are largely focused on advice like how larger dudes can wear clothes that fit and look great. Really, he's just algorithmically ubiquitous.
Twitter has gone through several sudden evolutions since Elon Musk took ownership of the site last year in bids to make the site more attractive even as advertisers fled. There was the added metric of "views" in addition to likes and retweets, and the aforementioned "For You" page—a transparent take on TikTok's own algorithmically-curated recommendations page. Musk has made several allusions to changing up Twitter's recommendation algorithm. Guy, through no fault of his own, appears to have been caught up in these shifts—making a few viral tweet threads roasting Jordan Peterson's fashion choices might have had a hand in that, although who's to say?—and as a result has been pushed into the feeds of untold numbers of Twitter users. Similar to the infamous airdropping of a free U2 album on to everyone's iPhone, not everybody is stoked about that.
After seeing him every time I opened up my Twitter app (which is every several minutes), I decided to reach out to him to see how he's handling all this attention.
Who are you?
I’m just a guy that likes clothes and has written about clothes for a while. I guess I’ve gone viral on Twitter.
Are you aware that you're all over everyone's For You Page? You've been all over mine. I saw you tweeting about how much a shirt costs and why it should cost that much. Honestly, I like your tweets.
I literally learned about it yesterday. I noticed something was weird, I want to say a week or two ago, because I would get—I tweet about men’s clothing essentially. I went into Nov. 2022 with 50,000 followers. It grew really quickly because of a series of events from November thru January. Then starting in January I would get replies to my tweets from people who were clearly not interested in men’s clothing. I was, for a while, getting a bunch of people who were replying to me and they weren’t following me. It seemed they had no interest in men’s clothing, they were angry and hostile. I just thought it was weird. I don’t know, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience often.
Then yesterday someone tagged me and I clicked through and it was this thread that was like 'Why is Twitter trying to get me to follow this menswear guy.' A bunch of people replied and said I was all over their For You Page and I thought, 'Whoa, I must be in people’s FYP because of an algorithm.' I went to get lunch with a friend and he was like, 'You’re like every third tweet.' I obviously don’t want to annoy people.
You haven't like, paid to have your tweets promoted or anything?
I’ve never given twitter a dime. I’ve never paid for a promoted tweet, never paid for Twitter blue. I’ve been a free user forever.
How are you dealing with the newfound attention?
In the beginning I got annoyed. I would think, 'Why are you replying to me if you’re not interested in clothes?' As my account has grown exponentially, I don’t notice comments anymore because my replies are too much. But, I’ve seen people speculate about whether I have nazi politics, which bums me out because I don’t. Then sometimes people will hop into my mentions being really aggressive. I think the default mood on Twitter is just anger, so it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t make Twitter very fun.
But, I think the overall response has been good. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong. So, overall it’s been a positive response. One thing I notice is I’m a little bit more self conscious in how I engage with people. If you have a smaller account, people will retweet me and say something not pleasant. In the past, I would reply to clarify my point. Now I’m really self-conscious about doing that. If I reply to that person, it shows up on everyone’s timeline. One, I feel bad because I feel like I’m pushing myself into people’s timelines. Then people are saying things that are wildly bad about me and I don’t want to attract attention. I am more self conscious about the types of jokes I’ve made on Twitter. Like, I used to make fun of people who wear Untuckit and Allbirds. Now I don’t want to make jokes about Allbirds.
Tech bros wear Untuckit and Allbirds though—maybe some people from Twitter would see it?
That’s the thing - I used to have a niche audience of people who obsess over menswear. I wouldn’t want to make that joke and have people think 'Are people making fun of my shoes?'
You said a lot of people have said not nice things about you. What are people mad about? Are they beefing with the content or with the fact that you're showing up everywhere?
Sometimes it’s the content. I said in the tweet I don’t think the wastefulness of fashion is purely about capitalism, it’s about other issues. I tweeted a couple threads about, like, fast fashion is bad, maybe you should buy thrifted clothing instead. I’ve been making different threads like, here’s how you can buy something large and alter it and get it to shrink down. You can find a big sweater for $10 and bring it home and shrink it to make it fit.
Some people were hostile in the sweater thread. They say 'You’re taking clothes away from people who have larger sizes.' I interpreted it as being hostile. Then I tweeted 'I learned today altering clothes is problematic' and I’ve been so exhausted with people saying you can’t criticize fast fashion or criticize all these things. Then someone reasonably stepped into that thread and said 'This is a convo that’s been happening in womenswear for a long time' and explained it to me, and I left that with a better understanding. Since I’ve been tweeting, a bunch of women have followed me and I’m not normally privy to that world. It's a discussion that has already been fleshed out, but not in the menswear world. I think it’s fine generally for men to buy big sweaters - if you’re a large dude you have less of a hard time finding things that fit. But if you’re a woman reading my thread, you’re taking that information and it applies in a different way.
Have you noticed a difference in Twitter since Elon took over?
I’ve noticed a couple things - when I report tweets that I think break rules, I’ve noticed action taken quicker. If I see a slur and I report it — in the past you’d get a response days later and it’d be like that’s fine, you can use the slur. Now, I’ve reported two tweets and action happened almost immediately which I thought was surprising. I think he just adds - it adds to the toxicity of the environment so even if you’re not saying a slur, I think it’s just like, with Trump - he adds to the general rancor and anger on the site. I think that’s bad. I think he feeds into a lot of these accounts that are anger farming if you will. The third thing I’ve noticed is the For You page.
My Twitter interactions are mostly limited to animals, so I like a bunch of animal related tweets and some progressive tweets, like related to gun violence or gay rights things, so I will like certain tweets. I will never like or reply to political tweets, so, my For You page has been somewhat wholesome experience. I just get photos of cats because those are the tweets I like.
Are you OK being the "Menswear Guy" on Twitter?
I mean, I don’t know. As long as people don’t think—it bums me out that people think I have Neo Nazi politics. Just because I write about suits doesn’t mean I’m a white supremacist. I’m not even white. It bums me out. The biggest block I received was Brian Stelter [formerly of] CNN.
Do you know why he blocked you?
He said it on Twitter. He said 'I don’t want to see any more of this guy’s tweets, no offense to him.' That’s fine, that’s great. It’d bum me out if you saw I was following you and you block me, because I enjoy your tweets. I wish you'd just mute me. If you do not want to see me at all, if the mute doesn’t work, you can block me. I would rather that happen than you be angry in my replies. The angry responses are a bummer.
If you could snap your fingers and get off the For You page, would you?
I overall enjoy it because I am getting a lot of people saying they are taking interest in their wardrobe. That makes me feel good. I feel good when people say I’ve been thinking more about how I buy my wardrobe and what I should be buying. Those positive responses have been rewarding. If I can convert someone to get into this hobby to find joy and confidence in their clothes, it sounds corny, but it does mean something to me.
After this conversation, I walked into my living room where my girlfriend, who had overheard the conversation, said "Was that the menswear guy? I had to unfollow him."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Hey fellas, you know when you’re at the bar with your buddies knocking back a few cold ones and someone mentions how they’re in dire need of some male libido enhancers? No? (Maybe you need new friends.) Well, it’s a thing that happens—trust us—but before you send them to the gas station or smoke shop for some questionable dollar store Viagra substitutes, take advantage of humanity’s incredible scientific achievements in the “get your dick hard” space and opt for a quality, clinically tested product instead.
Let me cut to the chase: I was offered samples of ASYSTEM’s new Male Libido Gummies, and, always the curious type, I didn't say no. Developed in collaboration with the sexual wellness pioneers at Maude, the gummies are described by the brand as an “all-natural, daily solution to enhance sexual arousal and function,” according to the product description.
Now, I exercise regularly, and while I’m known to have a few pints from time to time, I’m a generally healthy, happy guy in my mid-20s—so why would I ever need to take male libido gummies? Well, dear readers, ASYSTEM has the answer, along with a few use cases. Under the convenient “Why You Need This” tab, the brand lists depression, traumatic events, and anxiety as causes that have contributed to decreasing sex drive in both men and women in recent years. ASYSTEM also reminds guys everywhere that starting at age 30 [panics; opens calendar app] men start seeing a “nominal drop in testosterone” every year. So, while I’m not 30, depressed, anxious, or traumatized [my psychologist enters the chat], I said, meh, what the hell, and gave them a shot. I got a 32-count starter pack and set off on my journey.
Self-dubbed “the most advanced natural libido enhancer on the market,” Maude x ASYSTEM Male Libido gummies target “common, male physiological roadblocks to desire” by claiming to increase blood flow, naturally boost testosterone, and alleviate stress. The active ingredients are an adaptogenic, natural test-boosting soup, including S7, tribulus terrestris, pine pollen, zinc citrate, magnesium citrate, Maude x ASYSTEM Libido Complex, and something called an ”ocean mineral blend.” On top of that, the gummies appear to be carbon negative, since the brand partnered with Sea Trees to “regenerate coastal ecosystems that remove more CO2 than the product emits.”
The instructions say to “Chew one gummy to enhance arousal, continue taking daily for best results,” so I did. But, as with some brands of gummy vitamins, they tasted a little too good to just eat one. Made with real passionfruit, the low-sugar, gluten-free, vegan gummies were dangerously delicious, and I had to hold myself back from snacking on more than one per day. In fact, I failed to do so, and thought that I might be rendered a sex maniac as a result.
Perhaps thankfully due to my lack of self control in consuming the gummies, after polishing off my month’s supply, the results were… a bit underwhelming. While I literally felt nothing and noticed no difference in any aspect of my life, I would like to reiterate that they tasted great. Like, really great.
My TL;DR is thus: I’m definitely not the target demographic for these bad boys—but if you are, I’d definitely give them a shot. The science-backed list of ingredients (specifially S7, which is clinically shown to increase nitric oxide by 230% and plays a crucial role in sexual arousal by relaxing gentle muscle tissue allowing them to fill with blood) inspires confidence and looks a whole lot more legit than the last pack of Samurai-X pills you bought in college on a “dare.”
Libido gummies can be purchased at ASYSTEM.
We might not have a great train system or pink cocaine yet here in America, but you know what we do have? Lots of sex toys. I’ve tried some bangers for VICE, from rabbits that give you biofeedback on your orgasms to a #verymetal vibrating steel dildo. We’re in an aesthetic toy renaissance, and it’s led by sexual wellness brands that want to purge our lives of cheapo PVC cum rods, and fill our [redacted] with beautiful, body-safe sex toys backed by celebs with bougie Architectural Digest home tours; think, Dame, Unbound Babes, Maude—even Diesel collaborated with the luxury Swedish sex toy brand LELO on a batch of vibrators.
Now, Playboy is throwing its hat into the C-ring. When the horny empire announced it would be dipping its bunny tail into sex toy creation with Lovers, I was 1) stoked and 2) curious about whether or not its vibes could hold their own in an increasingly saturated masturbation market; there’s a legion of over 58,500 Amazon reviewers for the Satisfyer Pro 2 alone, jabroni. But I digress.
Playboy has more historical sex cachet than anyone else in the game. When you’ve been steadily edging the public for 70 years, the people are going to expect some powerful players, and the line of toys—known as Playboy Pleasure—includes a broad range of both introductory staples and flex items, from lubes and a classic wand vibrator to a “three-way cock ring” that looks like it speaks several languages.Photo by the Author
I charged up five of the line’s stand-out toys for a test run, from headbanging anal toys to a rabbit vibe that deserves its own kaiju movie, and wrote down my honest notes on what rocked, what didn’t, and what was truly game-changing.
Let’s meet the gang.Rapid Rabbit vibrator
The packaging for all of the Playboy toys is just *chef’s kiss* chic. They all come in a slick white box with the brand logo, and include clear instructions for storage, cleaning, and use—although, nothing prepared me for the power of this monster jam rumbler, which is almost 11 inches long and has not one but three vibrating components that harmonize together to stimulate your clit and G-spot like a rumbling, roaring Rube Goldberg machine. Big main character energy.Spinning Tail Teaser butt plug
At first, I thought the “Spinning Tail Teaser” earned its name from the soft serve swirl texture of its plug, but this vibrating backdoor buddy will also bend and roll its head around like Sia in your anus, making sure you have a well-rounded sensory experience. At three insertable inches, it’s the kind of butt plug you can grow with; start out slow and gradually work your way up its seven vibrations and rhythms.Petal vibrator
Lovers is also the guardian of one of the best rose clitoral vibrators, so it comes as no surprise that it chose to innovate the TikTok viral vibrator with Playboy by giving the horny flower a handy stem/handle and long, direct clitoral contact “tongue.” The fluttering nub at the heart of the rose will not quit on your clit (or perineum, if that’s your vibe), and feels like you’re getting really good head from a lover (if your lover’s tongue had nine speeds and vibration patterns).Palm clitoral vibrator
I was VERY intrigued by this garlic clove clitoral palm vibrator, and it gets high marks for 1) how easy it is to hold and 2) how Chef’s Table-core it is in design. That being said, the little nub at the center of its hole (which goes on your hole/clit) was a little too small for my taste; the effect was less like the slutty tongue-lapping of the Petal vibe, and more like someone poking you in line at Target. Feels great on your nips, though!Hop To It rabbit vibrator
Krakatoa lives on in this thrusting rabbit vibrator, whose shaft has the ribbed texture of a Pringles snake prank, and whose clitoral attachment is equipped with two wide-set, jutting bunny ears to slide up and down your clit for extra stimulation. It’s a rumbler, which I dig, and it closed the case for me on what Playboy was going for with its sex toy drop as a whole: powerful toys with a whole lot of bells and whistles.TL; DR
Playboy and Lovers’ first sex toy drop gave us versatile vibes with major horsepower. If you love a rumbly vibrator, reach for the line’s textured thrusters and dildos; if you want a toy dedicated to direct clitoral stimulation, you’ll have your pick of toys that will give you broader and more targeted stimulation. It’s hard to set yourself apart amongst all the posh sex toy brands these days, but the overwhelming themes of the line were definitely 1) POWER, and 2) multi-tasking abilities, and it’s fair to say that Playboy has reminded everyone that it’s the GOAT of getting it on.
The movement to stop the construction of a controversial police training facility in Atlanta gained international attention this past week, after sweeps of forest protest encampments resulted in dozens of arrests, terrorism charges, and the police killing of an activist.
Members of Atlanta’s burgeoning “Stop Cop City” movement were rattled after Georgia state police shot and killed Manuel “Tortuguita” Teran, a 26-year-old queer environmental activist who had joined the protest encampment in Atlanta’s South River Forest. But the activists—some of whom were arrested and are now facing domestic terrorism charges and excessively high bail amounts—are showing no signs of backing down.
Local organizations like Community Movement Builders, a Black-led nonprofit and mutual aid group which has mobilized with Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest activists, have described the police’s actions as blatant attempts to derail the movement.
“The high bail amounts and charges are a way to make an example of people so that others see themselves out of the movement,” Jasmine, an organizer with Community Movement Builders, told Motherboard. “Those things are a strategic choice to dissuade people from participating, [and] also to try to bleed resources from the movement. They’re trying to bleed the movement dry.”
Since the summer of 2021, Atlanta’s forest defenders have held camp as part of a widespread local resistance to halt construction of a new state-of-the-art $90 million police training facility, which locals call “Cop City.” The project would raze 85 acres of dense woodland forest to build a massive mock city designed to train police in urban warfare. The plan has been widely opposed by local residents and environmental experts, who say it would cause extreme flooding in areas populated primarily by Black and brown residents.
The shooting occurred last week after Georgia State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies entered the South River Forest to conduct a SWAT operation to clear forest encampments, part of the police’s escalating tactics to stifle the growing movement. Police say Teran refused to exit a tent and shot at the state troopers first—a claim that has been fiercely contested by protesters who knew Teran and were present during the sweep.Forest Defenders march through the streets of Atlanta following a police raid on Dec. 13, 2022. Photo by Jesse Pratt Lopez
That night, community members gathered in Atlanta to mourn and protest Teran’s killing, which has been described by organizers as a tragic culmination of events in Atlanta police repression. In the following days, activists around the globe, from Los Angeles to Lützerath, Germany, have joined Stop Cop City activists in their demands to save the forest, abolish the police, and vindicate Teran’s death, transforming Stop Cop City from a local movement to an international one almost overnight.
Six people were arrested during the forest raid the morning Teran was killed. Fifteen others were arrested late that night during the evening’s protest of solidarity and mourning. Last weekend, four others were arrested during a protest in downtown Atlanta which resulted in property damage of a few businesses and a police car. This resulted in the second wave of domestic terrorism charges mounted against protesters and forest defenders, with five others arrested and charged in December 2022.
In total, the state of Georgia is now planning to prosecute 18 people for domestic terrorism, all of whom are connected to the movement against the police training facility. The activists will also be among the first to be charged under the state’s weighty 2017 domestic terrorism statute, which carries a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
Local activists and legal experts have condemned the charges, and called for an independent investigation into the killing of Teran, which includes demands for the release of body cam footage. Atlanta Solidarity Fund, an organization that provides financial and legal resources to those arrested during protest, released a statement calling the domestic terrorism charges a “dangerous precedent, designed to stifle public opposition and scare anyone concerned about police militarization and climate change away from protesting.”
The tactics on display are all-too-familiar, according to Lauren Regan, director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, a nonprofit legal movement organization that is offering legal representation to Atlanta protesters.
“In my 25 years of experience defending activists, it is unfortunately a recurrent type of state repression when a campaign like this one gains momentum and broad public support,” Regan told Motherboard. “We’ve seen this time and time again. Domestic terrorism statutes, false arrests, high bonds, escalated charges—all of these along with police brutality are things on the state repression menu. And you’re seeing all of them in Atlanta right now.”
Local authorities have also made numerous claims that Atlanta’s forest defense movement, commonly known as Defend the Atlanta Forest, has been named by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as “domestic violent extremists.” However, Regan told Motherboard those claims are false.
“We have heard authorities in Atlanta regularly make statements along the line that the [DHS] has classified the forest defense as a terrorist organization or a violent extremist organization,” says Regan. “That’s not true. We have called and DHS does not classify individual groups. We keep seeing lies being made by government officials in order to attempt to justify this outrageous use of rhetoric against not-uncommon property crimes.”
During a bail hearing for those arrested on Jan. 18, bail was denied for four arrestees while two others were granted bond at the unprecedented cost of $355,000 each, along with bail conditions including ankle monitors and curfews, according to members of Atlanta Solidarity Fund who were present for the hearing. On Jan. 25, DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston recused herself from the investigation that would uncover more details about Teran’s death. Body cam footage has still not been released, with officials saying they did not have badge cams during the raid. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is now taking the lead in the domestic terrorism cases.
While activity in the forest has waned since Teran’s killing, organizers have been pivoting to other means of resistance along with redoubling efforts taking place outside of encampments. Activists are demanding that prosecutors drop all charges against protesters and authorize an independent investigation of Teran’s murder, and that city officials cancel the lease for Cop City with the Atlanta Police Foundation, and that corporations involved in Cop City divest from the project. They are also calling for continued national and international support, urging people outside of Atlanta to spread awareness and host events in their own communities to prevent what would be the largest police training facility in the U.S.
Mariah Parker, a local organizer and hip-hop artist, says that the Stop Cop City movement brings together multiple spheres of collective struggles being fought around the world.
“There can be no guessing that with this facility, they will be bringing in folks from police departments from across the country, other armed groups, and state agents around the world,” Parker told Motherboard, detailing how Stop Cop City is no longer just an Atlanta issue. “The money and support coming in [for Cop City] is coming from outside of Georgia. The offense is coming from all over the country. The city and police foundation had been mobilizing national forces, and so are we now, because we have to.”
A notorious Canadian neo-Nazi was found guilty of promoting hatred toward Jews for an article on an online hate site that promised "non-stop Nazism everywhere.
Gabriel Sohier Chaput, better known online as “Charles Zeiger,” was found guilty in a Montreal court on Monday. Sohier Chaput, 35, under the Zeiger pseudonym published and edited multiple books that have proven to be disturbingly popular among the current wave of neo-Nazis. In addition, under his online pseudonym, Sohier Chaput wrote hundreds of racist screeds on the online neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer. He was one of the first influential figures in the far-right to embrace the neo-Nazi terror cell Atomwaffen, a group that has been connected to a series of murders.
The particular article at the heart of Sohier Chaput’s trial was penned in 2017 under an offensive headline. The short article celebrated a church being postered with stickers that reference a neo-Nazi forum that Zeiger was connected to and warned that “2017 will be the year of action."
The Daily Stormer is a cesspool of articles similar to the one focused upon in the Montreal courtroom. The site has long been considered one of the worst neo-Nazi websites online and has a history of directing harassment toward perceived enemies. At the time his identity became public in 2018, Sohier Chaput as “Charles Zeiger” was the site's second most prolific author.
If you have any information regarding neo-Nazi organizing, the Wolves of Vinland, or Active Clubs we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to Mack Lamoureux via email at email@example.com or DM on Twitter at @macklamoureux for Signal or Wire details.
Sohier Chaput was first outed by reporters at the Montreal Gazette. When the warrant for Sohier Chaput’s arrest was initially issued in 2018, he was described to VICE News as “one of the worst of the worst hate propagandists internationally” by Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
Chaput never disputed that he wrote the article but he and his lawyer argued that he was being satirical to make a point about freedom of speech. At times his own lawyer described Sohier Chaput as “repugnant” but argued that his writings are protected as free speech. The judge did not agree with this argument.GABRIEL SOHIER CHAPUT SEEN IN 2017. PHOTO VIA THE SPLC.
“In the final analysis, the court does not retain the hodgepodge of explanations provided by Gabriel Sohier Chaput about his writings,” Quebec Court Judge Manlio Del Negro wrote in his decision, according to the Montreal Gazette. “… (Sohier Chaput) intentionally promoted hatred, through the Daily Stormer platform, against people of the Jewish faith.”
“The evidence in this regard is overwhelming. In closing, allow (myself) to make the following observation: the victims (Jews and other groups) of the Holocaust and also the victims of other genocides perpetrated throughout history, as well as their families deserve to be left in peace. The suffering they have been put through is inexpressible and defies the meaning of humanity.”
Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, the Jewish organisation that filed the complaints to the police which led to Sohier Chaput’s eventual charges, celebrated the decision.
“Sohier Chaput is a coward who behind the veil of the internet thought he could rile up other haters to his disgusting cause,” said Mostyn. “Today’s decision shows that Canadians and our legal system will not accept such harmful, dangerous and genocidal drivel, all of which aim to resurrect the most vile ideology in world history.”
Sohier Chaput has yet to be sentenced. He faces up to two years in prison.
Have you ever had foreplay that was more like threeplay? Twoplay? Oneplay? Maybe you’re getting zero play, so you can’t comment. Maybe you’re worried about how good your own foreplay is. Well, do I have the article for you. As you may have guessed from the title or my hilarious puns, this piece is all about tips, tricks and how to shag before the actual shagging bit – or as it’s known more formally, foreplay.What is foreplay?
Foreplay is exactly what it says on the tin: the stuff you do be-FORE the PLAY. But don’t think everything you do before you hit the sheets counts as foreplay. Having a dump doesn’t count. Eating a cheese sandwich doesn’t count. Unless, of course, that’s the stuff that gets you off. In which case, it is incredible foreplay.
To get down to the nitty gritty, foreplay is the sensual and sexual actions before full-blown sex that gets you and your partner (or partners) in the mood. Think snogs, caresses, spanks and teases. It’s the warm-up before the big event; getting each other hot and bothered so the big bang doesn’t come too quickly. This hinges, primarily, on you and your partner(s) being good at foreplay. Enter: this guide.Tip 1: Use your imagination
I swear this isn’t a redpilled take, so listen up. There is a great case to be made that foreplay – when foreplay refers to everything but sticking it into a hole – is pretty heteronormative. The idea that sex only begins when penetration occurs and that anything prior (blowies, fingering, rimjobs) is “only” foreplay is a toxic way of making those only participating in non-penetrative sex feel lesser. It also heavily implies that the only “right” sex is that of cis willies entering cis fannies.
You can decide what you want foreplay to be. If you want that to include upside-down blowjobs, go right ahead. (This is my friend Beth’s fave foreplay technique, because you can take a dick further down your throat, plus bonus points for pretending to be Spider-Man.) It also means if you have any specific turn-ons, kinks or fetishes, you can class these as foreplay, too. If you find out what you personally find sexy, foreplay can be anything that gets you hot under the collar.Tip 2: Have fun with it
Just like shagging, a huge mistake in foreplay is taking it too seriously. Use this time to work out what’s fun for you or even, what’s a little torturous for you – if you like being teased, that is. Dan, a 26-year-old researcher, tells me about meeting up with a fuckbuddy to exchange long, lingering erotic massages, only fucking when one of them finally “cracked”. By honing in on the “play” element in foreplay, you’re more likely to have a good time. (Like every foreplay expert in this piece, Dan’s speaking anonymously to spill the beans on his sex life.)
Misha, a 31-year-old artist, also emphasises the importance of taking your time to make the most out of the pre-shagging situation. By rushing into the sex, you can miss out on the finer enjoyments of your intimate moments. “Sometimes dressing up is more exciting than stripping down,” they explain. “Wearing sexy things and feeling the clothes and costumes and all that is vastly more erotic than just being naked and getting straight to it.”Tip 3: Mix it up
While having set ways for getting off makes sense, don’t let your traditional methods of spicing it up hold you back. Getting creative means you and your partner might get more flustered than ever before!
Stuck for ideas? Marketing consultant Nat, 32, detailed the following options for making foreplay funner: “I like applying – really friendly, non-intimidating – sensory deprivation things, like eye masks, headphones, etc,” she says. “These can be a nice way to mix things up, prolong a session, or just focus in on one person.”
You might have your own ideas already brewing when it comes to ideas, but if you’re finding it hard to communicate the foreplay you want to try, psychologist and coach Zoe Mallett recommends making the conversation part of the build-up. “Depending on your style of communication you can write down the things you want to try and swap it with your partner/partners,” she suggests. “You can read them in the same room or when you're apart, but this will give the other people involved a starting idea of what you like and what can be a part of your foreplay.”What happens if I just don’t like foreplay?
Interior designer India tells me that foreplay just isn’t her thing, so bear in mind that taking your time before fucking just might not be your cup of tea – and that’s totally valid, too.
“We never do foreplay! My partner just takes his cock out and shows it to me and we get at it… Or if I want to start the sex, I give him a certain look and go to another room, then he quickly follows,” she explains. “I think it will keep evolving, but I love how sincere and honest getting right to it is. I don’t miss foreplay, but I can always ask if I want it and I’ll get it.”
This is, Mallett confirms, completely natural. “If you don’t like foreplay and are happy to not partake in it, that’s fine. It’s your body; you can decide how you want to pleasure it.” Just like India, however, remember to communicate with whoever you’re getting into bed with – don’t just assume they feel the way that you do.Okay, so how can I find out what kind of foreplay I like?
That said, this is a guide about how to do foreplay and not how to get out of it. If you aren’t into it but want to be, Mallett advises relaxing and taking time to assess what you like and don’t like. This doesn’t have to involve hours of meditation and self-reflection. Personally, I recommend checking out different types of (ethical, please) porn to see what turns you on and what doesn’t, and test it out next time you’re getting it on with someone else.
Unsurprisingly, what you want to do in foreplay is just as personal as what you want to do in sex, so this guide can only take you so far. The best advice a gal can give is get out there and give it a bloody go, otherwise you’re never going to know.
Ben Crump, famed for being Black America’s lawyer, is ready to take legal action over the Florida Education Department’s decision to block a college-level high school Black history course.
Crump, who’s represented countless Black families in civil suits against government entities, announced his intentions Wednesday during a press conference in Tallahassee. And he says that if this lawsuit moves forward, he won’t be alone in taking the state to court; he’ll be joined by three students who are also frustrated by the state’s decision.
“We are here to give notice to Gov. [Ron] DeSantis that if he does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American studies to be taught in the classrooms across the state of Florida, these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs in a historic lawsuit,” Attorney Ben Crump said during a press conference in Tallahassee Wednesday.
The announcement comes five days after the state’s education department, which is under the leadership of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’, rejected the College Board’s curriculum for African American studies for allegedly being historically inaccurate and violating the state’s laws on what can be taught in classrooms.
DeSantis and the state Department of Education say their decision to reject the curriculum is due to the state’s recent controversial ban on critical race theory, the rightwing boogeyman which includes teaching historical accountability for systemic racism, and LGBTQ history.
“As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda that leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow,” the department stated in a letter about its decision last week. “As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination.”
While the state is calling the course a form of indoctrination, critics like Crump are calling it DeSantis’ latest effort to stamp out factual accounts of Black history from its schools.
“We remember what Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black history, said:,” Crump said. “If a race has no history, if a race has no worthwhile traditions that are respected and taught to the youth, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world,” Crump said. .”
“Are we going to let Gov. DeSantis, or anybody, exterminate Black History from the classrooms of Florida?”
Since taking office in 2019, DeSantis has had a significant impact on what is taught in Florida’s schools. Both of his major education bills, the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill and the Individual Freedom Act, (which was first widely known as the ‘Stop W.O.K.E.’ Act), passed with support from conservatives in the state legislature last year.
The College Board, a non-profit body that controls the Advanced Placement program across all states, has since announced that it will go back to the drawing board with the program. The Board tempered concerns over the state’s rejection of their African American studies course, saying in a statement last week that “piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new AP course, and frameworks often change significantly as a result.”
They are set to present their new take on the curriculum on February 1, the first day of Black History Month.
If former President Donald Trump decides to use his newly reinstated Facebook and Instagram accounts he will be free to post election conspiracy theories and QAnon content without the likelihood of his account being banned again.
Meta announced on Wednesday its controversial decision to allow Trump back onto the company’s platforms, where his various accounts have tens of millions of followers. Meta banned Trump over two years ago for posting a video to his account during the attack on the Capitol where he boosted wild conspiracy theories, praised violent insurrectionists. The video “contribute[d] to rather than diminish[ing] the risk of ongoing violence,” the company said at the time.
In a blog post, Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg said that Trump’s accounts will be reactivated in the coming weeks, but warned that they would come with “with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”
But those guardrails won’t be very restrictive.
Trump will be allowed to continue to share the same baseless claims he has been making about the 2020 election being stolen from him for the last two years, the company told CNN.
When it comes to other controversial topics, like casting doubt on the integrity of the 2024 election or sharing QAnon content, Meta says that it will take some action, but it won’t remove the offending posts or restrict Trump’s ability to post new updates.
Instead it “may” limit who can see the posts or share them, and it “may” prevent Trump from using the company’s advertising products to boost those posts—but only if Trump repeatedly breaches these “guardrails.”
The watered-down restrictions Meta has put in place around Trump’s return has angered many activists who point to his track record in the last two years of sharing dangerous disinformation in TV interviews and on his own Truth Social platform.
“This is a man who used Facebook to incite a deadly insurrection against the United States—and whose behavior has only gotten more dangerous in the years since,” Nicole Gill, co-founder of activist group Accountable Tech, told VICE News in an emailed statement.
“Trump has repeatedly used Truth Social to fuel violence, spread election lies, and promote domestic terrorist organizations like QAnon. Free speech doesn’t guarantee the privilege of a Facebook log-in—especially for someone who tried to overthrow the government.” The FBI designated QAnon as a domestic terror organization in 2019.
Trump has promoted QAnon content hundreds of times on Truth Social since he began posting there last summer, and in the week after the 2022 midterm elections, nearly half of his posts on the platform amplified QAnon-promoting accounts or pushed election misinformation, according to analysis by media watchdog group Media Matters.
“Trump has built a tinderbox of civil unrest. Today, Mark Zuckerberg handed him back the match,” Gill said.
Facebook first banned QAnon back in October 2020 after repeated calls from researchers who track the movement. At the time the company labeled QAnon a “militarized social movement.”
Meta told VICE News that its policy on QAnon means that it “removes pages, groups and Instagram accounts that represent QAnon when we identify them and disable the profiles who admin them,” meaning that simply posting QAnon content is not enough to for a regular user to violate the company’s Community Standards.
The company also claimed that its updated protocols for public figures whose accounts have been reinstated, like Trump, mean they face harsher restrictions on QAnon content, though the company will not go so far as removing the offending content.
While Trump has professed his desire to remain on Truth Social, there is little doubt that he will return to Facebook and Instagram as he begins his campaign for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination in earnest; he has just 5 million followers on Truth Social, compared to a combined 57 million followers on Facebook and Instagram.
Trump has also recently had his Twitter account reinstated but he has yet to post a message to his 87 million followers.
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An asteroid about the size of a moving truck is about to pass within 2,200 miles of the Earth’s surface, making it one of the closest approaches of a space rock to our planet ever recorded, according to NASA.
Asteroid 2023 BU, which is estimated to be anywhere from 11.5 to 28 feet long, will swoop over the southern tip of Chile at 7:27 pm EST on Thursday at an altitude that is well below the orbits of many satellites. The asteroid poses no threat to life on Earth; even if it were on a collision course with our planet—which it is not—it would break apart in the atmosphere, leaving only small meteorites to fall to the surface.
Small asteroids skim within several thousand miles of Earth fairly frequently, and they occasionally do impact and leave scattered remains on our planet. These close encounters affect the asteroids far more than the asteroids affect Earth, as our planet’s gravity tends to fling small rocks into new orbits. After its pass later today, asteroid 2023 BU is expected to be catapulted from its roughly circular orbit of 359 days into a new elongated orbit that will extend its year to 425 days.
Though the asteroid is not hazardous, its discovery and rapid characterization is an example of the sophisticated detection network that scientists have developed to defend Earth from dangerous space objects.
Asteroid 2023 BU was spotted on January 21 by Gennadiy Borisov, an amateur astronomer based in Nauchnyi, Crimea who previously achieved widespread recognition when he discovered the first known interstellar comet in 2019, which now bears his name.
In the days following Borisov’s discovery, several observations of the asteroid were reported to Minor Planet Center, a branch of the International Astronomical Union that monitors small space objects, which confirmed the detection. NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) determined that the asteroid would not hit Earth using its “Scout” computer program, which assesses the risk of impacts.
“Scout quickly ruled out 2023 BU as an impactor, but despite the very few observations, it was nonetheless able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach with Earth,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”
The pardon application for federal simple possession cannabis convictions is still “not yet available” on the Department of Justice’s website, more than three months after President Joe Biden announced the pardons as part of one of the most significant shifts in federal cannabis policy in decades.
Biden said in an October 6 proclamation that he would issue the pardons, and encouraged state governors to follow suit. Department of Justice spokesperson Anthony Coley said at the time that the DOJ would “expeditiously administer the President’s proclamation.”
But 112 days later, the pardon application still hasn’t been posted on the department’s website. “We cannot accept applications or issue certificates of pardon until our official procedures have been announced,” the Department of Justice’s FAQ on Biden’s order says. “We will update this page as soon as we have additional information to provide.”
The White House said in October that “thousands” of people who had been convicted of simple weed possession offenses could be “denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result.” No one is currently in federal prison for such offenses.
The cannabis legalization advocacy group NORML issued a statement Wednesday saying that while the organization is “grateful that President Biden recognizes the failure of marijuana prohibition” and for what the administration had done thus far to change weed policy, the lack of an application is still having real world impacts on people who would otherwise be eligible for a pardon.
“While the White House rightfully cites these pardons as a major accomplishment, those who could benefit from them continue to face undue difficulties obtaining employment, housing, education, and other vital services while these pardon certificates remain unavailable,” NORML political director Morgan Fox said in a statement to VICE News. “Many of the people who are eligible for these pardons have been waiting years for relief. They shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”
Neither the Department of Justice nor the White House responded to a request for comment from VICE News asking why the pardon application had been delayed or when it would be published.
Federal simple cannabis possession convictions have been steadily falling for years, after a massive spike during the Obama administration—from 240 in 2008 to 2,172 in 2014, and back down to 145 in 2021, according to a United States Sentencing Commision report published this month.
But the enforcement of cannabis prohibition has long been known to be racially disproportionate. Black people make up 20 percent of Virginia’s population, but made up nearly 60 percent of defendants in cannabis-related cases between July 2021 and June 2022, after a law legalizing possession of up to an ounce went into effect, the Washington Post found in October. The majority of the Virginia cases are for possession by a person under the age of 21 and distribution, according to the Post. Despite legalizing recreational use, Virginia still has not passed a law to regulate the sale of weed.
As part of the October announcement, Biden also said he’d asked Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to “initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.” Becerra said in December that his department “would not be the ones who would be proposing [decriminalization], but we certainly would weigh in on any issue involving decriminalization of any controlled substance,” according to Marijuana Moment.
The House passed a bill last year to legalize recreational weed and another to loosen restrictions on banking for the cannabis industry, but the Senate failed to pass either. There is a glimmer of hope for the banking bill, however. House passage of the banking bill last year had the support of a majority of the Republican caucus at the time—including new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had long opposed the liberalization of cannabis laws.
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“Somehow, Dead Space returned.”
The thing is, unlike that space dude, everyone has been waiting for Electronic Arts to realize Dead Space never stopped being a viable playground for unsettling stories and novel gameplay. Revisiting the original game 15 years after its original release—a game that truly does feel 15 years old when you actually go back and watch footage from it—is the safest possible play for testing the waters on Dead Space, but that’s fine. Dead Space still rocks.
Look, The Callisto Protocol was well-meaning. Under the right circumstances, such as late in the evening with a beer, it was even good. But The Callisto Protocol tried really hard to be a modern spin on Dead Space, and what it mostly revealed was how good Dead Space still was. EA Motive has applied what amounts to a light touch to updating Dead Space since it came out more than a decade ago, but it looks like Dead Space (now, with much better lighting) and plays like Dead Space (now, with a better map and transit system to use).
You’ll get to hear Rob and I unpack our thoughts on this updated cosmic horror on Waypoint Radio this week, but in the meantime, after playing the finished game for a few hours, we went back and forth over what we make of the formally silent Isaac Clarke speaking in this one, how haunting the atmosphere of barely-audible whispers feels, and why it remains sick as hell to walk around with a floating fan that you’re prepared to launch at an alien’s feet.
Rob: Now this is more like it, don’t you think?
I didn’t play the original Dead Space until 2016, and then it was on a PC port that was so bad that even the tolerance for half-assed PC controls that I built up throughout the late 2000s was tested. Even then, however, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed a game that I remembered getting respectful but not adoring reviews upon its release. The “CUT OFF THEIR LIMBS” combat that created a mechanical justification for an extreme gore-fest was surprisingly fun and the Ishimura was a rotting industrial hell that had aged well as a setting despite being so clearly a product of its era.
You could look at Dead Space and see a game that was shaped by the technical limitations of the time and was also on the cutting edge of the “dark, brown and gray” aesthetic that signaled games were not just for kids anymore, and you certainly weren’t a kid because you loved bleak murkiness now and not the colorful cartoon worlds of Nintendo.
But Dead Space also came by its look honestly and cleverly: as Isaac Clarke, you were an industrial engineer being sent to work aboard the USG Ishimura, a “planet-cracker” mining ship designed to perform strip mining tasks on a cosmic scale. By the time you get there, the crew is mostly dead and turned into blade-armed zombies called necromorphs, and you try and figure out what happened while battling them in the gloom of the now almost-derelict vessel.
The Ishimura had the power and purpose of the Death Star but the look of a rusting industrial heap. Everything about it was slightly colossal in scale and also impersonal, a far cry from the comparatively dazzling, dense interiors of the Van Buren in System Shock 2. It didn’t feel quite so forced and obvious when you stepped into rooms designed for sprawling combat encounters, with plenty of room for Isaac and his hulking adversaries to lumber around one another. Of course things felt sparse and crude aboard the Ishimura.
Times and graphical capabilities have changed, though. This week, we receive a current generation remake of Dead Space and I both love it and keep having moments where I feel like I need to go back to the original game to see if this is an even more revisionist remake than I can recall. For instance… did the soundtrack always sound like such a terrific riff on Goldsmith’s work on Alien? As I play this game, Alien: Isolation is popping into my head more than Callisto Protocol, which is not really a comparison I remember drawing before and I know it seems absurd because this is game where you are blowing monsters apart in rooms that are festooned with entrails and blood spatters in a way that the chillier, eerier Isolation rarely permits.
Yet in this playthrough everything feels so much more haunted. Was I hearing this many voices before, pitched just on the cusp of becoming comprehensible language? We know from early audio logs that members of the crew were, for weeks, being troubled by profound senses of guilt, traumatic flashbacks, and strange voices from their past. But did we know from the start of the original game that Isaac’s family was destroyed by the Scientology-like church that was pursuing its own agenda aboard the Ishimura, dead in a murder-suicide following multiple failed interventions? Did it feel, before, like Isaac might be battling the projected demons that haunted the crew before their deaths?
There is an early moment where you hear this unholy, gong-like pounding echoing down a hallway and this time it nearly made my heart stop the first time I heard it. I trudged around the corner and came into view of a lost medical patient, eerily framed at the end of the hall by blazing cold floodlights, just mindlessly smashing their head into a wall so hard the Ishimura itself seemed to be ringing. And you know, it completely got to me. I stared at this poor bastard, frozen in horror, for a good ten or fifteen seconds. It’s just good horror game haunted house stuff but was it always this good?
Patrick: Brother, it feels so good to spend half my time walking around, slowly and clumsily, with a razor-sharp fan floating in the air again. This place might be cursed, but Rob, I’m home. This is where I’m supposed to be. (Am I a Unitologist now?) Apologies to the crew that has to deal with all the vents I’ve busted up, but this place is doomed anyway, right?
You’re right to look at this take on Dead Space with confused eyes. We both played The Last of Us update from last year, but that was a game from 2013, and the sequel was only a few years ago. Naughty Dog’s coat of polish looks incredible, but they kept the game mostly alone, and instead pulled the magic trick of making the game match your memories. Dead Space…I haven’t touched the original game since it came out in 2008. (Did Dead Space 3 really come out the same here as The Last of Us? They were only a few months apart!)
Like you, I cannot tell where the original Dead Space ends and this new one begins, which is both a function of distance from the original and a compliment to how slick this one feels. I want to be specific about what I mean by slick, too. I’m not suggesting they’ve cleaned up this dirty, dinged-up ship designed to extract resources—if anything, they’ve yucked it up—but to gesture at how much they’ve successfully evoked all the familiar beats, while making the kinds of tweaks (like a better map) that one would hope from a loving update.
A note: my washer and dryer are near my office. Dead Space is a game frequently dishing out unsettling noises, be it the murmurs of a necromorph crawling around the vents or the Ishimura’s busted equipment coming slowly undone. At one point, I couldn’t tell if Dead Space was making a steady drumbeat of industrial noises that were getting under my nerves, or if I was conflating it with a pair of shoes tumbling in the dryer. During one of the game’s brief quiet moments, I told myself that I “needed a glass of water,” which was merely an excuse to take a break from the game, see if anything was in the dryer (there wasn’t), double check all the doors were locked, and “accidentally” leaving a light on in the room next door, while simultaneously “accidentally” leaving my office door open, letting the light leak in.
In other words, Dead Space is accomplishing a difficult task: it’s scaring me all over again, even though I already know what’s going to happen. Movies don’t do that to me. Except, like you said, I’m not sure I do know what’s going to happen. The encounters feel different, but they might not be? The set pieces feel familiar, but they might be a tad different? Does this version of Dead SpaceI have less goofy environmental graffiti, acknowledging how tacky it feels in 2023, but realizing you can’t get rid of it entirely because it’s part of Dead Space? Or is everything the same and I don’t care?
Intentionally or not, it’s playing with memory and nostalgia in a way that I’m finding thrilling.
But you touch on an important note, one that I’m not yet settled on, albeit I’m only a few chapters into the game. (As of this writing, I’m trying to flip the engines back on, to avoid crashing into the nearby planet.) One of the major decisions made for this remake is to give Isaac Clarke a voice. Visceral Games did give Isaac a voice in Dead Space 2—in fact, it’s the same voice actor continuing the role here—but he’s dead silent in the original game. It’s part of the flavor of Dead Space, and I’m not clear the writing justifies the change here yet.
To be clear, the logic is sound. It feels weird to have Isaac, a silent protagonist who also has a clear emotional motivation for survival, to not speak. My problem, instead, is what he’s saying. I don’t remember how much we knew about Isaac’s history with Unitology in 2008, but man, Issac (and the extended crew) sure are handling how badly things are going on this otherwise routine check-up on the Ishimura pretty well. There’s blood all over the walls and the crew have been turned into monsters? Shrug. Your wife has been spending her free time cracking open the guts of these creatures and trying to understand why everyone onboard is going insane? Eh.
In every instance, Isaac is cool as a cucumber—too cool, imo. The only time my man starts losing it is when his oxygen is almost gone. That worked in the original because the character was portrayed as a brick house. I mean, look at how the man stomps boxes! Does the character, as written, feel like the same person? It’s not taking me out of the story, but there’s a disconnect here I can’t square. I almost feel like they should have ripped the bandaid off entirely and re-cast Isaac; they’re missing some…gravitas?
P.S. Is this where I selfishly admit that while I know the thing to say is that the games industry is crass and cynical about cashing in on things like remakes, the deft touch taken to Dead Space and The Last of Us has me wishing more games were given this treatment?
Rob: Oh boy, Talking Isaac… I think the issue is they have kept a lot of the overall content of these conversations roughly the same, except now there are little spaces where Isaac interjects and people make a point of responding before assigning the next mission. Plus, yes, all of this gets weirder the minute Isaac is talking and responding to stuff. Think about the opening. So both versions open with a really disturbing message from Isaac’s girlfriend Nicole, basically on the verge of tears and sounding like she is thinking about hurling herself out the nearest airlock rather than face what’s happening around her. Originally you cut from that to the tech nerd, Daniels, vaguely talking about the message and then ignoring you as she engages in sparring with the mission commander. Now, Daniels and Isaac strikes up a friendly conversation over the message and your relationship.
But the minute the characters interact with each other about that message, it gets really weird that nobody says something like, “So… does it sound like maybe things are a totally fucked up here?” In fact I would say the message in this new version, which is less garbled and more intact, is even more alarming about the state of affairs aboard the Ishimura!
That sense of disconnection never quite goes away here, like Isaac and his team lead Hammon are on a troubleshooting tech support call in between zombie attacks, and I think more than a performance issue it is just a byproduct of the compromise struck between keeping the story and characterizations broadly intact while also giving Isaac the speaking part he had for the rest of the series.
Still, you know what? In looking this up for the purposes of comparison it hit me that this Dead Space remake looks a lot like how I remember the original game… and the original game looked and sounded nothing like I remembered it. It used what it had to great effect, I certainly remember lots of oppressive, stark shadows and flickering lights, but in old gameplay videos it is really rationing a lot of these effects. The game was more flatly lit than I remember, nowhere near as dripping with atmosphere as I would have said.
This new Dead Space? It’s a really special update of the original. It does not feel like quite as complete a revision as Resident Evil 2, but neither does it hew so closely to the original that is risks becoming underwhelming. I hate to sound like a back of the box quote but it earns it: every single compartment and corridor aboard the Ishimura is so dense with detail and menace that every new area becomes a memorable event in itself.
It does all this without, in my experience, compromising performance. I have played this in the quality mode on PS5 and have not regretted that decision one iota. Movement and aiming are smooth, highlighting how good the combat design is in this game. On the other hand, coming from that PC port I have never had it so good, so my bar is on the floor. I know you tend to be a performance mode guy, so I am curious how you find the controls and combat?
Patrick: I know these new consoles have only been out a few years—and it’s only recently that luck and overpaying stopped factoring into acquiring one—but my kingdom for DLSS on these things! I’m playing in performance mode…and it’s fine. I’m being a snob. The Callisto Protocol was super dark and didn’t emphasize lighting the same way Dead Space does, so I did not really notice the change in resolution. Here, there are so many instances where Isaac is close to the screen, and it’s had me wondering if I could stomach the drop in frame rate.
(I suspect I will stick it out, though. The frame rate bug has gotten me good this gen.)
You’ve nailed it when it comes to the Isaac stuff, though. I, too, recoiled when Isaac’s wife left this distraught message on approach to the Ishimura, and Isaac’s response was wishing they spoke more often than every six months. Poor Isaac, how he must long for the gentle whisper of his traumatized wife sharing sweet nothings about a weaponized space religion!
I’m sure it’s a distressing prospect to revisit a modern classic like Dead Space, especially the way the developers went about it, which was to involve the community from day one and be a relatively open book about their process. But I’m not precious about the past, and having played a decent chunk of the game now, I wish they’d taken some bigger swings when it came to the characterization and dialogue. It’s hard to blame the voice actor in this case, so I take that back.
But this is a lot of talk about the story in a game where, most of the time, you’re running in the dark from screaming monstrosities. Lemme tell you a story about an otherwise normal encounter where I goofed picking up a series of objects to throw, and instead of looking cool and blowing up a bunch of necromorphs, I got skewered and died with an animation that, I must admit, is not nearly as cool and ridiculous as anything in The Callisto Protocol. Upon reloading, I prepped for the encounter by aiming my gun where the first enemy came out the last time—and they didn’t appear. Instead, some fucker dropped from the ceiling and started getting me from behind.
Apparently, Dead Space has a reactive “AI director” of sorts that is tracking players, and it’s able to generate different kinds of enemy encounters. It puts an interesting wrinkle into how I typically play these games, where if I grossly misuse resources in combat, I might purposely die and streamline my process the next go around. Here, though, I can’t count on any of that, because the enemy layout, including the loot drops, aren’t static. This friggin’ rules, because it pushes back on the survival horror strategy of optimized survival. I’m only playing on normal, but I’ve been forced to use a lot more health than I normally would in a game like this, because there’s no guarantee that trying a room again will net a better outcome for me.
What does is keep an element of surprise in the familiar. That’s hard.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is my inability to spend upgrade points on anything that isn’t the basic plasma cutter. I’m trying, I really am, and the game is giving me enough ammo that I don’t feel guilty goofing around with the other weapons I’ve come across (the ripper + pulse rifle), butbutbut I can see the heat damage bonus for the plasma cutter is only a few spaces away, and maybe I’ll be able to shake this dedication once I’ve hopped over there.
Dead Space kicked ass in 2018, and this version kicks ass in 2023. It’s spooky, and it feels good to tear apart ugly dudes. What else is there to say? I hope the same team gets a chance to apply this same treatment for Dead Space 2, though perhaps with the confidence to put more of their own bloody stamp on it. And if that’s a problem, screw it—just let them make their own Dead Space, pull some elements from the sequels, and chart a new path.
So long as we don’t forget about the blood moons. We can’t get rid of the blood moons. Surely you’ve read about the blood moons, Rob? Hey, why are you walking away from me? Brother Rob, have you heard the good word about the blood moons!
School's back in session and the hottest topic is ChatGPT. New York University professors are prohibiting the use of the AI tool in the “academic integrity” sections of their syllabuses, and many students were given an explicit warning from professors on the first day of class not to use the bot to cheat on assignments.
The popular chatbot created by OpenAI, which can be used to generate everything from academic essays to news articles, has led many professors and teachers to be alert when it comes to the possibility that an essay has been plagiarized by a bot.
Jenni Quilter, the Executive Director of the Expository Writing Program and the Assistant Vice Dean of General Education in the College of Arts and Sciences at NYU, told Motherboard that professors are worried about their students using ChatGPT to cheat. Quilter said that both individual school departments and the central university have already provided guidelines to professors on how to handle a situation in which ChatGPT is used without permission.
“The situation has already come up—we had instances of students using ChatGPT in December,” Quilter said. “The repercussions for using ChatGPT without acknowledgment are the same as they would be for any case of academic plagiarism, and range from redoing the assignment to grade deductions and a report lodged with the Dean of that student's college.”
David Levene, who is a professor of Classics and the Chair of the Department of Classics at NYU, told Motherboard that he is keeping a close watch for any ChatGPT-related plagiarism.
“I've included an alert that it is banned unless used with my express permission as part of an assignment, and any use of it counts as plagiarism,” Levene said. “I also told [my students] (which is true) that I ran various essay-prompts through ChatGPT, and the essays it came up with were at best B- standard, and at worst a clear F. So (I told them) if they are hoping to get better than B- for the course, they should avoid it like the plague!”
In a class at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the professor plainly wrote on the syllabus, “Q: Is using ChatGPT or other AI tools that generate text or content considered plagiarism? A: Yes.”
ChatGPT warnings have not just been limited to essay-based classes either. One macroeconomics syllabus that Motherboard saw said, “The time constraint is purposely tight so you will not have enough time to consult your books, ChatGPT, or other sources, and still complete all the questions on the Quiz. …Students may not communicate with anyone (including ChatGPT) during the 24 hours a Quiz is available.” Using ChatGPT to solve math problems may actually backfire as the app has already been proven to fail at even 6th-grade level math.
The NYU professors’ concerns are not completely unfounded. According to a poll conducted by The Stanford Daily, 17 percent of Stanford students used ChatGPT to assist with their fall quarter assignments and exams.
Since the release of the most recent version of ChatGPT in December, school districts and universities across the country have started to transform academic policies and teaching formats to prevent their students from cheating with the tool.
New York City’s education department was one of the first districts to ban student access to ChatGPT on school networks and devices in early January. The New York Times reported that professors are making changes such as requiring handwritten assignments rather than typed ones, and others are trying to incorporate ChatGPT into lessons, such as by evaluating its responses.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman addressed concerns about cheating and plagiarism in an interview with StrictlyVC, saying that teachers should modify their classrooms around new technology. “We're going to try and do some things in the short term. There may be ways we can help teachers be a little more likely to detect output of a GPT-like system. But honestly, a determined person will get around them," he said. “Generative text is something we all need to adapt to.”
People are already developing methods to quickly spot whether something is AI-generated or not. For example, a computer science student at Princeton built GPTZero, an app that attempts to detect whether or not a body of text was human-written or AI-written.
Turnitin, a plagiarism detection service through which students can submit writing assignments, announced that starting in 2023, it would begin incorporating a new tool that can detect AI-assisted and ChatGPT-generated writing. “It is important to recognize that the presence of AI writing capabilities does not signal the end of original thought or expression if educators set the right parameters and expectations for its use,” the company wrote in a press release. “We encourage you to have these discussions at your institution now and set achievable standards and expectations for your students around the acceptable use of AI-assisted writing tools.”
“Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased, perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” — Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
SEASON: A letter to the future begins with a ritual. Estelle awakes to the smell of her mother’s cooking, for the last time. Her mother waits in the kitchen, beside a large burner on the table. It will be used to create a “memory pendant,” an object designed to protect Estelle from the very real “diseases of the mind” that fill her world: memory excess, time misperception disorder, daytime visions, and so many more. In SEASON, the weight of memory sinks into the ground itself before calcifying into glowing, purple crystals that scream the past into the present, and into the fragile minds of anyone who wanders too close.
To make a pendant, one must burn their memories: turning them into a form that is touchable and raw. This process destroys the memory, and Estelle’s mother makes the sacrifice in her daughter’s place. This is not just an act of motherly love, but a reflection of Estelle’s role in her dying world: Estelle is an archivist, the first person to leave her small village of Caro in decades. She must record the end of the season, a pseudo-apocalypse which describes the end of a historical era, using just a camera, a tape recorder, a journal, and most importantly, her (and your) judgment..
SEASON: A letter to the future is a game about fixing memory in place, and choosing what is lost. Along the way is also a bittersweet, unexpectedly funny meditation on memory versus history, and the reconciling the end of the world with the knowledge that life will, somehow, go on.Screenshot by Waypoint.
The majority of SEASON takes place on the final day of the Tieng Valley—a secluded valley which, in more stable seasons, was a common tourist destination, known for its “three reliable gods.” It is Estelle’s first, and only, day in the valley. The record that she, an outsider, creates will be the only trace left of it after the season changes.
The valley, like every other part of SEASON is as dense and beautiful as it is fleeting. The game has a masterful command of architecture and space. The skeletal remains of an impossibly large highway loom over a small cow farm. Bits of rubble form stunning, accidental arches above a refugee camp. A forest filled with dim, electric light hums in the northeast, sunlight punching through the trees and accentuating the half-light of the bulbs. This stellar area design makes the act of photographing the dying valley a melancholy joy.
SEASON has no interest in abstracting the valley, either. That would make things easier, and SEASON has no interest in making things easy. To ride your bike to each of the major landmarks in the Tieng Valley takes thirteen minutes and twenty-nine seconds. To walk from the entrance of the valley, to Assembly Point, where the valley really begins, takes fifteen minutes and forty-seven seconds, during which you will take around one thousand nine hundred and forty four steps over four thousand four hundred and eighty three feet. The particular texture of light in the Tieng Valley changes seven times.
In addition to the photos she takes and the sounds she records, Estelle has a handful of opportunities to talk to the other inhabitants of her dying world. These conversations are as brief and as naturalistic as they are literary. Characters speak in memories and aphorisms. They tell Estelle so much, despite having just met her. However, unlike many games where this immediate intimacy feels unnatural, if expected, the presence of Estelle’s tape recorder reframes these short dialogues. These are not just conversations between strangers, instead, they are people’s last chance to give testament to the lives they lived—of course they’d be a little grandiose.Screenshot by Scavengers Studio.
Most importantly to the game’s themes, conversations in SEASON only ever move forward. There are no looping dialogue trees. Time is limited, and to ask a question is to omit any other. Like everything else in SEASON, you make your choices and then you live with them.
It is these moments when the tension between recording fact, and feeling, and personal history, is at its highest.
At one point, your character is given the opportunity to talk about her father’s death with another grieving child, Kochi, whose father died while researching harpik, the memory-filled crystals which dot the valley’s landscape. You are given the option of recording the conversation, or not. I sat on that decision for minutes, imagining Estelle sliding the volume button up and down, idly, as she made her choice—the half dozen hard plastic grooves beneath her thumb. If you choose not to record it, the game cuts to black. The moment, then, is for Estelle, and not the player.
That is an especially loaded personal choice, but the hardest part of SEASON is actually choosing what to prioritize, and in doing so, constructing an idea of what history should be. This is further complicated by Estelle as a character, and the particular decisions you’ve made about her past. Would a woman who "used to see souls in everything,” “shepherds delicate things into the future,” and who was “raised in the glow of her parents' love,” choose to omit the hand-made tools of Kochi’s dead father? What about the young woman who has been alone in a dying world for months, and clings to every trace of connection she can find?
SEASON never explicitly asks you to answer these questions, it just presents a blank page and demands you fill it with something. Journaling is the game’s primary verb. By the end of the season, the journal you produce will be wholly yours. Your photos, your slightly botched recordings, and all the other things you’ve chosen to care about.Screenshot by Waypoint.
At one point, you’re tasked with recording the actions of a nascent political movement known as the Grey Hands. The organization has come to the Tieng Valley to evacuate its people to the newly built Radiant City, in preparation for the coming season. The actual members seem to have their hearts in the right place, even if their methodology feels a bit…programmatic at times. A sort of bureaucratic anarchism. All well kept documents and interpersonal kindness.
You investigate their supply depots, their dig sites, the materials they leave behind. At the same time, you uncover fragments of The War—its sleeping soldiers' last waking moments literally echo through the valley.
I found a memo from the Grey Hands describing the season as “haunted.” Haunted by The War, The Golden Season, the “three reliable gods” of the Valley, and so much more. It is for this reason that they are so intent on building a new season, free from the weight of history.
I’ve always had a particular theory about hauntings, one that SEASON seems to share: that what we call ghosts are the result of emotion soaking into the built environment. In SEASON, memory can calcify into glowing purple crystals and flowers. During your journey through the Tieng Valley, you’ll find places like this, where you can pull out your tape recorder and listen to the past. Sometimes it is a conversation, like the final moments of those soldiers, other times it is a song.
If you use your camera near those crystals or flowers, any picture you take will be muddled by the purple haze of memory. In one photo, taken in a cemetery, the text of a headstone is barely legible through the sheer density of feeling in the air: “She forgot who she was. She forgot how to breathe.”Screenshot by Scavengers Studio.
The only Grey Hand you meet in person is older than Estelle. He must’ve been a child of The War. With this in mind, the Grey Hand’s mission to build a new world free from the weight of history makes sense. They want to forget the war that made them—-to move on from the burden of trauma. So, they pray to Void, the god of forgetting. They hope to wipe the slate clean, and build the new season with an intentionality that other seasons have lacked. And the gods of the Tieng Valley have real power. The Grey Hands’ plan will work.
The political leaflets you find suggest that the Grey Hands are, at their core, a political organization that believes the only way to build a better world is to try something new. They have built their organization around the skillsets of the people who join. Its members range from postal workers, to doctors, to wedding officiants. The Grey Hands imagine a world of praxis, excised from context. A real utopia, but one that must be built from scratch, and requires the obliteration of everything that came before it. They require that, to move to the Radiant City, the people of the Tieng Valley must leave everything behind, without the knowledge that the coming season may take their memories, too.
Estelle, unlike many of the people she meets, was not born in an older season. She was not a product of the Golden Season, or even The War. She has spent the entirety of her life in this haunted season—she was shaped by it. It is her duty (and her right) to remember it.Screenshot by Waypoint.
In SEASON’s final area, Estelle meets a fellow archivist from a very far off place. The place that her childhood storybooks warned her about. She never found those people frightening, though. And I had Estelle burn that book. She keeps its ashes around her throat.
They do not speak each other’s languages particularly well. Instead, they communicate through their respective journals. The man’s journal is filled with sketches. Estelle’s journal, with sketches, photos, and recordings. The two give testimony to their respective journeys through these journals, with few words. The work of an archivist, then, is an act of translation. Estelle, despite the language barrier, conveys her journey from Caro to Tieng Valley through the voices and images of their past. Her telling is, of course, incomplete, but effective.
In Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities, in which Marco Polo describes 55 cities to the emperor Kublai Khan. Polo and the Khan do not, at first, speak the same language. Their relationship begins with a more complex form of communication: objects. Polo arranges things he has found throughout his travels, the Khan interprets them. Eventually, they progress to language. After a long time, they return to objects and silent contemplation. But throughout the novel, Polo is evasive about one place: his home city of Venice.Screenshot by Waypoint.
When the Khan finally demands Polo tell him about Venice, Polo says, “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.” The entirety of Invisible Cities, all 55 cities (both real and imagined), are a translation of Venice. To express the place in full, is impossible. Instead, Polo and the Khan build the city together. Memory, then, when fixed in words and objects, is not truly erased, but instead, like all translations, it is transformed by the context of its telling. For moments, Venice becomes Diomira, or Isidora, or Zaira, or Zora, the cities of memory. But, in the end, it is always Venice.
I am, like Polo was of Venice, terrified of losing SEASON. I will, without a doubt, recommend it to dozens more people, but I cannot shake the sense of possessiveness I have over the game. It feels too personal for anyone else to understand. They did not lose their grandmother, a poet, like I did. She was, like Estelle’s father, a regional poet. Already, her poetry is becoming inaccessible online—hidden in dead websites and the kinds of books that no one bothers to archive.
And yet, SEASON reminds you, time and time again, that the historical and the personal are inseparable from one another—that this feeling of deep connection is, in fact, universal. It is a product of translation.
Eventually, the town I was born in will die. My grandmother’s house will fall to ruin, too. SEASON itself may one day become unplayable. In the end, this, too, is an act of translation.
Scientists have spotted a mysterious uptick in the appearance of unexplained patches of white water in the shallow waters off the coast of the Bahamas, reports a new study based on satellite observations.
For almost a century, people have observed these so-called “whiting” events, which typically cover an area equivalent to a few hundred football fields, but nobody knows the exact cause of this phenomenon. Samples show that the discoloration is caused by fine-grained calcium carbonate that floats over the Bahama Banks, which are carbonate structures that surround the archipelago, but it’s not clear why the grain clouds sporadically appear in the ocean.
To shed light on this enigma, researchers from the University of South Florida compiled the longest and most detailed space-down view of the Bahama Bank whiting events using observations captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite between 2003 and 2020.
The team also trained a machine learning tool to analyze the images, an approach that revealed a “mysterious increase” in whiting events over the past decade, which peaked in 2015, as well as seasonal patterns in these discolorations, according to a recent study in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.
“In a changing climate with decreased pH (i.e., ocean acidification) and increased temperature, one would expect slow, continuous change in whiting events,” said Chuanmin Hu, an oceanographer at the University of South Florida who co-authored the study, in an email to Motherboard.
“The former would lead to decreased events while the latter would lead to increased events, at least according to theory,” he added. “However, what we observed was truly a surprise with a 10-year episode of increased whiting events.”
In addition to spotting these long-term patterns, the team found a large range of sizes and timeframes for the whiting events. Some patches vanished after a few days, while others stuck around for as long as three months. And while the smallest events cover a mere fraction of a square mile, the white discoloration regularly extended across more than 150 square miles from 2014 to 2015, an area roughly equivalent to the city of Detroit, Michigan.
Those huge white patches represented the zenith of an overall increase in the total area of the whiting events that occurred from 2003 to 2015. After 2015, the occurrence of such large patches gradually tapered off, reaching an average size of about 10 square miles by 2020.
The seasonal and decadal patterns revealed by the study are certainly tantalizing, but they haven’t yet unlocked the origin of the events. Though scientists have speculated that the phenomenon could be related to sporadic flourishing of microorganisms in the ocean, or to currents that drag calcium carbonate particles to the surface, these milky splashes in the Bahamas are still an unsolved riddle, at least for now.
“More field work is required to continuously monitor the ocean properties and processes as well as whiting events in order to have a better understanding,” Hu concluded.