National / International News
The party and its leading 2016 contenders are finding themselves between a rock and hard place on Indiana's and Arkansas' recently amended laws.
Nevada's Chief Justice says the court is facing a funding shortfall of $700,000. He blamed the deficit on police issuing fewer traffic and parking tickets. Many people in Nevada were unaware that the state's highest court relies on lead-footed drivers to keep it fiscally afloat. Critics say tying court funding to the issuance of tickets could create a quota system in which police officers feel compelled to hand out higher numbers of tickets.
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The Easter egg—as in the the hidden message in computer programs or video games—got pretty interesting as the sixth season of the animated series Archer unraveled. The show’s creators plotted an elaborate Easter egg, thanks to lead motion designer Mark Paterson, who hid around 40 clues for an internet journey that superfans slowly but faithfully decrypted.
If you’re wondering how complicated can it really get: the list of clues included a so-called HEX code, which led to a URL, which led to a weird YouTube video and then a craigslist advertisement and it goes on.
This isn’t the first time Archer’s creators tried something like this. They have planted jokes and hidden messages in previous episodes, but they were usually isolated; independent of each other.
“This time I wanted to do something that connected them all together so there was some kind of trail,” said Mark Paterson. “So it would constantly keep it going. They had to go from one to the next and maybe come back to the episode to get the next clue.”
Although he planned most of it ahead of time, he also kept adding to it, deepening the trail and making it more complicated.
“I spent a weekend adding in about 30 to 40 additional steps,” said Paterson.
One of the most complex clues involved a spectrogram, which, Paterson explained, is “a way of encoding or hiding the message within the audio data.”
Basically, it’s something visual that’s in the audio data but you cannot see it in waveform.
“Most audio programs would show you the waveform by default,” said Paterson. “You have to go the extra step to find the spectrogram.”
But who could possibly succeed at this without some help?
“The nice thing about Archer is the fans are ... always looking out for this kind of thing,” said Paterson. “I was banking on them knowing to be looking for stuff. They have previously shown that they have found stuff.”
Bonus: Click below to hear Casey Willis, the show's co-Executive Producer, in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.
That's how many U.S. jobs were added in March, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics's jobs report released on Friday. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent.$64,432
Another bummer from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: average household income dropped for the second year in a row to $64,432. The Washington Post's Wonkblog notes the richest fifth of Americans saw their income rise by 0.9 percent before taxes, while the poorest fifth lost 3.5 percent.$11.5 billion
That's the total costs of deferred maintenance for the National Parks Service. Of that figure, $850 million is attributed to the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Which means monuments like the Jefferson Memorial will have to wait on repairs such as a new ceiling.4 percent
The portion of homes in Cuba with Internet access, one potential hurtle in Airbnb's recent expansion there, Bloomberg reported. There are about 1,000 listings up now, with more surely on the way. Airbnb is one of the first American companies to have a presence in Cuba since the U.S. reestablished diplomatic ties there.1 in 23
The number of wins an arcade claw machine would have to allow to give the owner 50 percent profits. Vox looked into just how rigged those games are, finding that most machines let the owner adjust how often a claw grabs at stuffed animals with their full strength, tightly managing wins and losses.40 clues
That's about how many hidden clues lead motion designer Mark Paterson hid in a single episode of FX's Archer. The Easter egg hunt led viewers on an epic internet journey, which included a so-called HEX code, which led to a URL, which led to a weird YouTube video and then a craigslist advertisement ... the list goes on.
It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?
AMC's award-winning drama Mad Men returns for its final seven episodes Sunday. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says these last few installments explore how little people change, even in tumultuous times.
On Friday, the Labor Department reports on job creation and unemployment for March.
The consensus among economists: The economy added approximately 250,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent. This would represent a modest pull-back from February, when 295,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate fell.
However, several anomalous factors could throw a wrench into March's employment figures, like severe winter weather, a West Coast port strike and the rapidly strengthening U.S. dollar and plummeting oil prices.
Here are four things to look for in the March jobs report (click on each chart for more detailed information):
As the unemployment rate falls, are more people coming back into the labor force to try to find jobs?
Labor-force participation — that is, the percentage of adults working or looking for work — hasn't been this low since the late 1970s. If people are entering the labor market after schooling, or coming back after they got discouraged in the recession, that's a sign of deepening economic strength.
Are average hourly wages rising more than inflation? Are they rising at all?
Wages have been stuck for years, even as the unemployment rate has declined. Lower unemployment should theoretically make employers scramble to hire new workers, and offer more pay to get and keep them.
If employers don't raise wages, it may mean there's more "slack" (more competition for jobs) in the labor market than 5.5 percent unemployment suggests. It could be people waiting in the wings to come back into the labor market and people working part-time who want full-time work.
Are more people who say they can only find part-time work but need more hours to support themselves, finally landing full-time jobs?
This would indicate a tightening labor market.
Is the rate of long-term unemployment, which is still historically high after the Great Recession, gradually coming down?
If so, we may dodge a Europe-like problem of persistent long-term unemployment lasting years.
Washington, D.C.’s famed cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom, and with them they will bring 1.5 million tourists to the narrow path around the Tidal Basin, beside the Jefferson Memorial.
But the National Park Service, which administers the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin as part of its National Mall and Memorial Parks (NMMP) zone, has $11.5 billion on its backlog of deferred maintenance costs. Of that figure, $850 million is slated for the NMMP. So while the Jefferson Memorial may look good from afar, when you get closer you can see that it's falling apart.
“If you look up you can see the portion of the ceiling of the portico has fallen,” said Sean Kenneally, acting deputy superintendent for the National Mall & Memorial Parks. “Fortunately, no one was injured.”
But somebody might have been —a heavy piece of marble falling 50 feet onto a tourist would have generated headlines, and the system is still waiting on a replacement roof. Water, leaking through the 20+ year old roof, runs through the spaces in the monument’s marble, dissolving grout and leaving ugly black stains on the ceiling.
There are plenty of other blackened spots that look like the spot where the marble fell. Until money is appropriated for a new roof however, there’s just a fence and a plan to install a net.
The Lincoln Memorial also needs a new roof, but it’s harder to see the damage—only one of the Alabama marble ceiling panels is missing (There’s a piece of plywood instead). Otherwise, Honest Abe’s house looks pretty good.
Sean Gormley of Rye Neck, N.Y., was visiting Washington and suggested that philanthropic money be used to meet part of the $11.5 billion repair bill. “We already pay enough taxes here, whether it be our federal taxes, real estate taxes, et cetera,” Gormley said. “Things get built up, moths and rust do decay; I tell ya, it’ll crumble one day.”
Craig Obey, the senior vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association, said that the federal neglect of the National Park Service’s funding is a bipartisan problem that has grown more severe in the past 30 years.
“I think the parks have been dealing with less for quite a while, they’ve been asked to do more with less and we are at the point where they’re able to do less with less,” Obey said.
And indeed, the “less” is lessening, Obey said, “because the Park Service gets about between $200 and $300 million less than they need each year just to keep it even, not even to begin reducing it.”
Obey said National Parks aren’t just rock formations that sit in the desert. Most of them are east of the Mississippi and historic, not natural. People go on vacations, drive cars, flush toilets, ask for directions, climb stairs. While it is true that all this takes a toll on the infrastructure of our parks, they also generate economic activity: about $37 billion each and every year.