Super PAC to end all super PACs hits its $5 million funding goal

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A crowdfunded super PAC designed to end all super PACs has achieved its funding goal. The Mayday PAC raised $5 million from over 50,000 small contributions over the past couple of months. Added to the $5 million matching contribution it’s expecting and the $2 million it pulled in this past May, the political action committee should have the $12 million founder Lawrence Lessig said it’d need to wield influence in five key House races this year.

Lessig, a Harvard professor outspoken against the state of campaign finance in the US, said in a blog post that “this may be this movement’s most incredible moment so far.” He added, “We’ve got lots of ideas about how to make this work. We’ll be testing them and improving them and building lots…

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The Weekender: regarding EDM, exorcisms, and Independence Day

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Welcome back to The Weekender. Every Saturday morning, The Verge will give you something to do. This is where you’ll get the best of what we’ve written this week, but also a reason to get up and actually do something with your life — even if that something is dreaming of the far off places you might go.

Here’s a collection of some of our favorite pieces that you may have missed, along with a snapshot of the things you should be doing with your days off. Take some time this Fourth of July…

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This is the car you’d drive to explore national parks on Mars

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Brazilian designer Eduardo Galvani has put together renderings for a concept car he’s dubbed the “Nimbus.” It’s a bulbous, van-like hybrid that evokes the nostalgia we feel for the classic VW Microbus, but lives in a future world where car design is free to be whimsical — if not a little weird.

Galvani also imagined the features and the details of how the van would operate: a rear engine paired with an electric motor, big knobby semi-cross tires, a tablet-based center panel display, and of…

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Alaska’s bear cams are the best live show on the internet

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For the third consecuritve year, Katmai national park in Alaska will have several live webcams set up to broadcast video of the local brown bears. The bears, and the cameras that track them, have steadily grown in popularity since 2012, when the Annenberg Foundations’s Explore.org group first helped to set them up. As detailed by The Awl, much of that popularity came because nature lovers were able to do more than just watch giant mammals hunt fish — they were able to create a narrative about what was happening.

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Humans prefer an electric shock to being left alone with their thoughts

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The experiment was simple. All the participants had to do was enter an empty room, sit down, and think for six to 15 minutes. But without a cellphone, a book, or a television screen to stare at, the assignment quickly became too much to handle. In fact, even when individuals were given time to “prepare” for being alone — meaning that they were able to plan what they would think about during their moments of solitude — the participants still “found it hard,” Timothy Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and lead author of the study, told The Washington Post. “People didn’t like it much.”

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Siri joins Cortana in World Cup predictions

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Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant has successfully predicted eight World Cup results with 100 percent accuracy so far, but just as the games are getting more difficult to pick, she has fresh competition from Apple’s Siri. While Microsoft added its World Cup predictions to Cortana last weekend, Siri didn’t appear to offer its own estimates on the games in our own testing until later this week. If you now ask Siri variations of who will win a particular game, she offers up some noncommittal responses. “It’s a tossup (if you’ve got a coin, heads says France win, tails says Germany),” is Siri’s France vs. Germany “prediction,” while “I don’t have the line on this one, but Colombia has a better record than Brazil” is the estimate for…

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Amateur Transformers film is more fun than Michael Bay’s

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Michael Bay might have the multi-million dollar budget, but Harris Loureiro has the ’80s touch. Using toy Transformers, a handful of special effects, and Stan Bush’s iconic power ballad “The Touch,” the YouTube user crafts a surprisingly slick fight scene between Optimus Prime and a fleet of Constructicons. It took Loureiro more than a month to edit the five-minute-long short, after completing filming in September last year. The entire production positively drips nostalgia, which is unsurprising given that the stop-motion animation is dedicated to the series’ old-school fans.

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A 23-foot-tall home-made Transformer is the world’s most intimidating lawn ornament

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In Wisconsin, an Oldsmobile Alero is more than meets the eye: he’s a 23-foot-tall red robot, and his name is Hardwire.

The Transformer’s creator, George Edgren, says he wasn’t particularly involved with the franchise. “I liked them, but I wasn’t a huge massive fan or anything. It’s not like an ‘I needed to be there on opening night’ kind of deal,” he tells The Verge. But when a friend suggested that he make one of his own, he ultimately took up the challenge. Over the course of a month, he bolted together the giant robot that now stands in his driveway. A longtime metalworker, he was already building and selling lawn art, but this was his biggest hobby project ever. While it’s clearly a Transformer, it’s not trying to fit any kind of…

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When the Terminators come, only Google’s co-founders will be safe

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If our world should ever be overrun by Terminators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin may end up surviving humanity’s annihilation. The killing machines haven’t yet arrived, but Google is already taking precautions. It’s uploaded a killer-robots.txt file to its servers that instructs T-800 and T-1000 Terminators to spare the company’s co-founders — or “disallow” their deaths, to be more specific.

The Easter egg’s appearance on Google’s website coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Robots.txt file, a tool created in 1994 that instructs search engines and other automated bots to avoid crawling certain pages or directories of a website. The industry has done a remarkable job staying true to the simple text file in the two decades since;…

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Here’s what’s most likely to kill the free internet by 2025

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First, the good news: a new Pew Research Center report on the future of the internet is mostly optimistic. The research agency canvassed 1,400 technology experts for its 2014 Future of the Internet report, and a majority believed the internet wouldn’t be significantly worse off by 2025 — although there were some strong dissenting opinions.

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New York State’s governor puts weight behind HIV prevention pill

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New York State governor Andrew Cuomo did something unexpected last Sunday: he announced that he was backing Truvada — the controversial HIV prevention pill — in an effort to drastically cut the rate of new infections in the state. The pill was officially endorsed by the CDC in May for use by any HIV negative person who may be at risk for infection (not just gay men who might be having sex with HIV positive partners) but this is the first time that a high-level elected official has recommended its use, reports The New York TImes.

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Netflix still offers more top movies than rivals, and Hulu Plus still wins on recent TV

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Netflix offers more top movies than any of its subscription streaming rivals, according to new analysis from Piper Jaffray. Variety highlights that the company’s lineup includes 10 of 2013’s 50 best box office performers. For comparison, Amazon Prime Instant Video has just three. “Netflix is still leading by a wide margin,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson. But it’s not all bad news for Amazon; the company offers customers a decent selection of top movies that are at least two years old. So if you don’t need the latest and greatest blockbusters, Prime Instant Video isn’t a bad way to go — but it still trails Netflix, which offers acclaimed original programming like Orange is the New Black in addition to its rotating catalog of…

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Pixel art games aren’t retro, they’re the future

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About half a year ago, Sony and Microsoft started trying to convince people to spend several hundred dollars on powerful new consoles. Generational shifts don’t happen that often in the video games industry, so when they do, it’s natural for people to wonder about the potential of the hardware or how eye-popping the graphics will be.

But things are a little different these days. The best game on the Xbox One right now is the frantic, blocky side-scroller Super Time Force (above), and you…

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Facebook Messenger comes to iPad

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Facebook Messenger is now fit for your iPad. An update rolling out to the App Store today adds a much-requested iPad interface to the popular messaging app, which was redesigned last fall but didn’t get a big-screen treatment. The new Messenger app is exactly what you’d expect, but super-sized. You can call, text, send stickers, videos, and start group chats. Facebook wouldn’t say if or when a version of the app built for Android tablets would become available.

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Technology has changed art, and this is what it looks like

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This summer, London’s Barbican Centre plays host to Digital Revolution, a major new exhibition that explores the impact of technology on art over the past four decades. It’s a show high on visuals and low on exposition, aiming to entertain children more than enlighten adults.

The exhibition begins with a gallery called “Digital Archaeology” that highlights key moments in the UK’s technological awakening. It features row upon row of ancient machines such as the Magnavox Odyssey, the Speak &…

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Inside the early days of Google Street View

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It’s almost hard to remember now, but once upon a time, before its invasion of everything from World Cup stadiums to the Galapagos Islands, Google Street View was just a van with a goofy camera rolling around San Francisco. Iain McClatchie, who was hired on to the Street View team in early 2006, has a new blog post up recounting the project’s early days: the government-funded research project that was a forerunner to Street View, the first turret-like cameras, and the launch of country-wide maps for Australia (traffic for which broke the site on release). There were misfires — one generation of camera wasn’t approved for outdoor use — but the project’s success ultimately led to near ever-growing coverage of the world and clever solutions…

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Google dumps porn from its ads

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In March, Google announced that it would ban pornographic ads from its AdWords network, which supplies the sponsored results in Google searches. Monday, Google sent an email to relevant advertisers informing them that the changes are imminent: in the coming weeks, all ads that “promote graphic depictions of sexual acts” will be done away with, according to CNBC.

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US denies petition to reconsider TWA Flight 800 conspiracies

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12 minutes after taking off from New York’s JFK airport on July 17th, 1996, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded, killing all 230 people on board. Now, almost 18 years after the Boeing 747 crashed, the National Transportation Safety Board has denied a petition that would see it reconsidering its findings, drawn up by people who believe the plane was the target of terrorism, missiles, or even a secret microwave weapon.

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