Boing Boing

Boing Boing

Description

Brain candy for Happy Mutants

Link: boingboing.net

Episodes

Enhance your on-the-go photography with these iPhone accessories

Jan 19, 2020

Description:

The latest iPhone cameras are undeniably impressive, but they’re still no match for a professional camera when it comes to taking clear, wide-angle shots. These six accessories will transform your iPhone into a pro-level camera in seconds, thanks to powerful and easy-to-attach lenses.

1. Lemuro 18MM iPhone Wide Lens

MSRP: $100 | Sale Price: $80 (20% off)

Take truly majestic photos with this pocket-sized attachment lens that boasts an 18mm focal length along with a 110-degree field of view. In layman's terms, it helps you shoot better landscapes, portraits, and more.

2. Lemuro 60MM Tele Portrait Lens for iPhone

MSRP: $104 | Sale Price: $84 (20% off)

Ideal for capturing flawless portrait shots, this lens features a 60mm focal length, 2x optical zoom, and cutting-edge optical technology that delivers unparalleled clarity, so your portraits will be worthy of posting to the 'gram.

3. Lemuro 8MM iPhone Fisheye Lens

MSRP: $99 | Sale Price: $80 (20% off)

You'll be happy to have this lens the next time you're standing before a stunning sunset or panorama. With an 8mm focal length and a 238-degree ultra-wide-angle lens, this fisheye attachment allows you to take shots that are 5x wider than what your iPhone can do on its own.

4. Lemuro 25MM iPhone Macro Lens

MSRP: $95 | Sale Price: $76 (20% off)

Transform your iPhone into a pocket-sized digital microscope with this incredibly powerful and portable lens that delivers a 22mm focal length and 10x magnification ratio in any environment.

5. Lemuro iPhone Photo Case

MSRP: $44 | Sale Price: $35 (20% off)

Designed for seamless compatibility with Lemuro lenses, this aluminum case will also protect your iPhone from drops and bumps, and it even supports wireless charging. Read the rest

Brazilian authoritarian Bolsonaro fires his culture minister for giving a speech plagiarized from Joseph Goebbels

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

Last week, Roberto Alvim, gave a speech in his capacity as Brazil's culture minister: backed by a Wagner aria, Alvim gave a speech about reforming Brazilian art that literally plagiarized the words of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda.

After a week of intense pressure, Jair Bolsonaro, the military strongman authoritarian who rules Brazil and has advocated for extrajudicial torture and murder, fired Alvim.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, offers some context for Alvim, who was once a respected theater director but became a far-right religious fanatic.

Greenwald points out that it's not a coincidence that a literal Nazi ended up in Bolsonaro's cabinet -- nor is Alvim the only Nazi to be found there.

On social media, he has declared himself fighting a “cultural war” in favor of “conservative artists”; denounced one of Brazil’s most beloved actresses, the 90-year-old Fernanda Montenegro, as a “dirty liar” for whom he harbors “contempt”; and attacked the Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa, whose documentary “Edge of Democracy” was just nominated for an Academy Award, as a leftist propagandist disseminating lies.

Notably, Alvim was fired only after the embassies of Germany and, far more importantly to Bolsonaro, Israel issued condemnations containing harsh language rare for diplomatic communications. The Israeli Confederation of Brazil said: “Such a person cannot command the culture of our country and must be removed from office immediately.” The German Embassy in Brazil said: “The period of National Socialism is the darkest chapter in German history, bringing infinite suffering to humanity….We oppose any attempt to trivialize or even glorify the era of National Socialism.”

Read the rest

Forget the gym membership. Stay fit in 2020 with this portable home gym

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

Few things in life are more universally dreaded than going to the gym, which is unfortunate since a new year usually means making new resolutions to get in shape.

Thankfully, this BodyBoss 2.0: Portable Home Gym has everything you need to burn fat and build muscle in the comfort of your own home.

With just a small collection of resistance bands and gear, you’ll be able to do hundreds to go-to gym exercises in virtually any environment. The BodyBoss 2.0 is designed to simulate thousands of dollars worth of gym equipment, so you can tone and sculpt all in the same space and without having to jump from machine to machine.

And since the entire fitness package weighs less than 11 pounds, it's easy to take it with you wherever you go.

Hit your New Years' fitness goals without dragging yourself to the gym with this BodyBoss 2.0: Portable Home Gym for just $155—45% off its usual price.

Prices are subject to change.

You can't beat free! Get $70+ worth of premium Mac apps for free today! Read the rest

The easy-to-make Twitter egg sandwich is easy to make

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

I wanted an egg sando. It was very, very easy.

Been doing my egg sandwiches all wrong 🍳 🥪🤷🏻‍♂️😁✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/iUeHCUIwGp

— 🦗🍂🍃The Smokin Grasshopper🍃🍂🦗 (@Grasshopper2049) January 15, 2020

Read the rest

Excellent review of Jack Vance's "Tales of the Dying Earth"

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

I read and greatly enjoyed Jack Vance's 4-book series, Tales of the Dying Earth last year. Today I wanted to tell my daughter about one of the spells in the book (the Spell of Forlorn Encystment), so I looked it up online. One of the top results Alison Flood's 2011 review of the series in The Guardian. She likes the books for the same reasons I do, describing the stories as "strange, and disturbing, and glowing."

"Glowing" is an especially good way to describe Vance's writing. His use of language in enchanting, and it really does feel like his sentences and words are manifesting some kind of spell.

From Flood's review:

All is recounted in Vance's wonderful, unique prose. Is it possible to be both deadpan and flowery at the same time? I think he pulls this off, to hilarious effect. "These girls seem not to relish the garland of pulchritude," says Guyal of a collection of unattractive women. Cugel, after ditching a former princess into the hands of a brigand (it was his own hopelessness which led to her losing her kingdom), justifies himself angrily. "'The woman is a monomaniac!' he told himself. 'She lacks clarity and perceptiveness; how could I have done else, for her welfare and my own? I am rationality personified; it is unthinking to suggest otherwise.'"

There are remnants of ancient civilisations: floating roads and air-cars. There are horrific images galore: a pyramid of screaming flesh half a thousand feet high. And so, so much of these stories can be seen in the work of later authors.

Read the rest

Portuguese President pre-empts Trump's aggressive handshake

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

Portuguese President makes sure Trump doesn't try that power handshake bullshit on him.😂😂😂pic.twitter.com/KzPC1QUvTu

— Bill Maxwell 🌊 #CountryOverParty (@Bill_Maxwell_) January 18, 2020

Be careful! That doughy arm might pop right out of its socket. Read the rest

Watch this fantastic coffee ad

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

EVERYONE SHUT UP AND LOOK AT THIS COFFEE ADVERTISEMENT pic.twitter.com/oqpNvBAcXa

— dante (@sapphicticated) January 17, 2020

How did Dad rescue those glasses? Read the rest

Manhattan: a city of empty luxury condos and overflowing homeless shelters

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

New York's luxury real-estate market has been in freefall for years, and now the city's super-luxe buildings are sitting empty -- even as property prices in the city remain stubbornly high, prompting 300 New Yorkers to move out of the city every day, and filling the homeless shelters to capacity and beyond.

New York -- like most overpriced cities -- has failed to build enough low- and middle-income housing of the sort that people use to live in, and has grossly oversupplied itself with the kinds of safe deposit boxes in the sky that oligarchs use as a form of medium-term asset class, possibly without ever occupying it.

The luxurification of cities isn't an accident. When Michael Bloomberg was mayor of New York, he explicitly encouraged "bluelining" -- designating whole regions as luxury-only, aimed at the global super-rich -- saying that he wanted New York City itself to be viewed as a luxury good.

The problem with this plan -- apart from it being an inhumane form of ethnic cleansing that chases working people out of our cities -- is that it only works if there are enough global oligarchs chasing these super-luxe condos to keep the market inflated and liquid (oligarchs have viewed luxury property in big cities as being nearly as liquid as cash, because for a time, you could flip them on just a few days' notice).

But three of the most important centers of oligarchic capital have dried up: China instituted strict currency controls and its economy is slowing, and Saudi and Russian oligarchs are much less flush than they were when oil prices were at their peaks. Read the rest

Brawny Disneyland guest removes park's sword in the stone

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

Using sheer brute force, a Disneyland guest successfully removed Excalibur, the "sword in the stone," from its anvil in front of the King Arthur Carrousel. It was first reported that the sword was removed as part of a planned refurbishment but then a guest stepped up to share what really happened.

WDW News Today:

The sword is not removed for refurbishment. My friend Sam broke it last week on the 8th when we went to Disneyland. He literally ripped it out. The staff said that it was really old and that’s why he was able to do so. It was his first time at Disney and he’s a pretty buff dude, I told him if he pulled it out he’d win a prize and he just used brute force I guess lol. It was broken and jagged. The staff said they taped it off so no one would stick their fingers in and cut it on the broken piece left inside.

Unfortunately, the poor fellow didn't become King, as legend dictates. And a brand new sword has already been placed in its (freshly polished) anvil in its central Fantasyland spot. See photos of it at WDW News Today.

screengrab via Disney's Sword in the Stone Read the rest

Learn a new language in 2020 with these best-selling apps

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to travel more, you owe it to yourself to learn the language of the place you're visiting. If you're not sure where to start, give these resources a look. From mobile apps to online courses, these products can get you conversant in a new language before you set foot on foreign soil. Read on for details:

1. Language Zen–Spanish Language Learning Program: Lifetime Subscription

MSRP: $500 | Sale Price: $79 (84% off)

Learn Spanish twice as effectively with this personal language tutoring platform that adapts to your unique learning habits.

2. The Complete Learn French in 30 Days Bundle

MSRP: $2000 | Sale Price: $19 (99% off)

This 10-course bundle will help you learn French language and grammar the easy way, thanks to simple, bite-sized lessons that can be completed in as little as a few minutes.

3. The Fast-Track French Language Learning Bundle

MSRP: $796 | Sale Price: $20 (97% off)

Fancy a trip to the City of Lights? With 13 hours of content spread over four in-depth courses, this bundle will teach you how to speak and read one of the world’s most beloved languages.

4. HelloTalk VIP: Lifetime Subscription

MSRP: $230 | Sale Price: $29 (87% off)

This best-selling platform lets you learn a new language by speaking directly with native speakers from around the world.

5. Babbel Language Learning: Lifetime Subscription

MSRP: $399 | Sale Price: $159 (60% off)

Learn up to 14 new languages with a lifetime subscription to Babbel, which comes with access to over 10,000 hours of high-quality educational content. Read the rest

Healthcare choice in America is a scam, according to the people who came up with it

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

One of the most frustratingly incredible things about Corporate PR Con Artistry is that even when the chaos magicians behind it reveal their tricks, there are still people who will continue to insist that somehow, this makes the lie even more real. We've seen it before with climate change, and the bullshit connection between vaccines and autism.

And now, in a new op-ed from The New York Times, we can see this phenomenon happening in real-time with healthcare. Most rational-thinking people understand that the private healthcare system in America offers no more "choice" than the socialized, single-payer, or other government-subsidized systems in other developed nations. Yet that idea of "choice" — and the fantastical fear-mongering about wait times in Canada — has become a popular talking point with those opposed to healthcare reform. Which is precisely what it was designed to do, by people like Wendell Potter, a former vice president for corporate communications at Cigna. As he writes in the Times:

To my everlasting regret, I played a hand in devising this deceptive talking point about choice when I worked in various communications roles for a leading health insurer between 1993 and 2008, ultimately serving as vice president for corporate communications.

[…]

Those of us who held senior positions for the big insurers knew that one of the huge vulnerabilities of the system is its lack of choice. In the current system, Americans cannot, in fact, pick their own doctors, specialists or hospitals — at least, not without incurring huge “out of network” bills.

Read the rest

3 racks perfect for transporting bikes, skis, & more on the road

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

Anyone who loves biking, skiing, or snowboarding in the great outdoors knows just how difficult it can be to safely transport your gear—especially during extended trips. These three accessories make it easier than ever to securely attach your gear to your car. So if you're planning to embark on a outdoor adventure soon, you'd be wise to check out these options:

1. STAG Ski, Bike & Base Unit Bundle

MSRP: $549 | Sale Price: $494 (10% off)

This streamlined rack allows you to attach and carry two bikes along with your ski gear (up to four snowboards or five pairs of skis), thanks to a premium vacuum roof system that offers unparalleled grip strength for all of your equipment.

2. STAG Ski & Base Unit Bundle

MSRP: $379 | Sale Price: $341 (10% off)

If you tend to travel a bit lighter when you hit your favorite adventure spots, this simplified rack system has you covered—thanks to premium vacuum cup technology that allows you to securely carry either four snowboards or five pairs of skis.

3. STAG Bike & Base Unit Bundle

MSRP: $379 | Sale Price: $341 (10% off)

Ideal for cycling enthusiasts, this premium roof rack can carry up to two bikes with either a 15mm thru axle or a 9mm skewer, and it’s easy to attach the rack to glass, metal, or fiberglass surfaces. Read the rest

ICANN needs to ask more questions about the sale of .ORG

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

[The selloff of the .ORG domain name registry to a private equity fund is fractally terrible, but it's in danger, thanks to public outcry. My EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz lays out the grotesque contours of the deal and its many deficiencies in this comprehensive overview. -Cory]

Over 21,000 people, 660 organizations, and now six Members of Congress have asked ICANN, the organization that regulates the Internet’s domain name system, to halt the $1.135 billion deal that would hand control over PIR, the .ORG domain registry, to private equity. There are crucial reasons this sale is facing significant backlash from the nonprofit and NGO communities who make the .ORG domain their online home, and perhaps none of them are more concerning than the speed of the deal and the dangerous lack of transparency that’s accompanied it. 

Less than three months have passed from the announcement of the sale—which took the nonprofit community by surprise—to the final weeks in which ICANN is expected to make its decision, giving those affected almost no chance to have a voice, much less stop it. The process so far, including information that the buyer, Ethos Capital, provided to ICANN in late December, raises more questions than it answers. U.S. lawmakers are correct that “the Ethos Capital takeover of the .ORG domain fails the public interest test in numerous ways.”

Before any change in who operates the .ORG registry can take place, ICANN, which oversees the domain name system, needs to answer important questions about the deal from those who use .ORG Read the rest

Angelenos! I'm speaking in Culver City tomorrow about the sale of .ORG to private equity

Jan 18, 2020

Description:

Late last year, the nonprofit Internet Society abruptly announced a deal to sell control over the Public Interest Registry (which manages all .ORG domain registrations) to Ethos, a newly created private equity fund capitalized by three politically connected families of Republican billionaires. Under the deal, ISOC would get $1.135B to spend on various projects, and PIR would have to return a profit to their private equity investors.

The deal was incredibly fishy. For one thing, Ethos turned out to be staffed with former execs and staffers from ICANN, the body that has the power to bless or halt the sale of PIR -- and these people had come to Ethos after overseeing a highly irregular change in policy that would let PIR hit .ORG domain holders with unlimited price-hikes.

Since then, we've learned that the deal to buy PIR will be financed by hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of debt, which PIR will have to make payments on just to keep the lights on -- money it will have to make by somehow radically increasing PIR's revenues.

It's not clear how they'll do this, or why it needed doing. .ORG is home to the world's best-established human rights groups and nonprofits, and depending on how Ethos manages PIR, those organizations could see their online presence censored to appease the dictatorial governments they watchdog, or have every visitor to every .ORG tracked and the information sold to the highest bidder.

Tomorrow (January 18), I'll be speaking at LA's Crash Space in Culver City, as part of a meeting to organize a mass protest at ICANN headquarters on Friday, January 24th. Read the rest

Break into the field of AI and Machine Learning with the help of this training

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

It seems like AI is everywhere these days, from the voice recognition software in our personal assistants to the ads that pop up seemingly at just the right time. But believe it or not, the field is still in its infancy.

That means there's no better time to get in on the ground floor. The Essential AI & Machine Learning Certification Training Bundle is a one-course package that can give you a broad overview of AI's many uses in the modern marketplace and how to implement them.

The best place to dive into this four-course master class is with the Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) Foundation Course. This walkthrough gives you all the terms and concepts that underpin the entire science of AI.

Later courses let you get your hands dirty with some coding, as in the data visualization class that focuses on the role of Python in the interpretive side of data analytics. There are also separate courses on computer vision (the programming that lets machines "see" their surroundings) and natural language processing (the science of getting computers to understand speech).

The entire package is now available for Boing Boing readers at 93% off the MSRP. Read the rest

Here's a 1968 episode of The Dick Cavett show discussing the assassination of Robert Kennedy

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

It's fascinating to see this round table discussion on The Dick Cavett Show about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. People had the same concerns about gun violence 50 years ago, but the way people talked about it on TV in 1968 is inconceivable today. The panelists were allowed to speak for more that 15 seconds without being interrupted, and the other panelist appeared to be listening to what the others were saying. The panel consisted of actor Robert "Man From U.N.C.L.E." Vaughn (a politically active friend of the Kennedys), NAACP executive director Roy Wilkins, psychiatrist David Abrahamsen (author of "A Study of Lee Harvey Oswald: Psychological Capability of Murder"), and broadcast journalist David Schoenbrun. Read the rest

The Picard sweater

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

Chicago's Volante (previously) bills itself as "streetwear for superheroes," and I love their clothes. They've just released an addition to their existing canon of Star Trek-themed, cosplay-adjacent clothes: the Picard Sweater, a stretchy knit tribute to Jean-Luc himself, the perfect thing to wear while you're watching Wil Wheaton host "The Ready Room," which airs after every episode.

Read the rest

Man at airport gets more video game space by plugging PS4 into public map display

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

A guy who was waiting for his flight at the airport in Portland wanted more screen display space for his Playstation video game session, so he plugged his PS4 into a public computer screen that was displaying a map of the airport.

Airport staff were not amused.

Port of Portland spokesperson Kara Simonds told Portland KXL-AM radio that staff at Portland International Airport staff asked the man to stop gaming on the public map display.

The man asked if he could finish his game.

They said no.

The situation resolved peacefully.

From the Associated Press:

“Apparently it was a very polite and cordial interaction,” Simonds said, calling it “a good reminder of what not to do at the airport.”

No word on whether or not the passenger made it to the next level.

Read the rest

Australia fires: Air-dropping veggies to feed wallabies [NEW VIDEO]

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

The massive scale and force of the ongoing bushfires in Australia is hard to comprehend.

The number of living creatures killed by flame, smoke, and habitat destruction fires is already staggering, and incomplete.

Here is a new video from Reuters with more on a story we've covered here at Boing Boing previously -- NWS workers are dropping vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes from aircraft, to feed displaced wallabies who can't find anything to eat because everything has burned.

Video: Reuters

PREVIOUSLY on Boing Boing: • Australia fires: Carrots and sweet potatoes dropped from the air to feed starving animals Read the rest

'El Chapo' beer launched by murderous druglord's daughter

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

“El Chapo” ran a global narcotics crime ring and escaped two maximum security prisons before being captured, extradited to the United States in 2017, found guilty in 2019, and sentenced to life in prison.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman's daughter Alejandrina Guzman just launched a beer branded with her dad's name, because nothing matters.

Excerpt from Reuters:

The beer is part of the “El Chapo 701” brand, which has already launched a clothing line, and gets its name from when Forbes named him the 701st richest person in the world in 2009. Forbes estimated his net worth at $1 billion at the time.

“This is an artisanal beer, with 4% alcohol. This prototype is a lager, and it’s made up of malt, rice and honey so it’s good,” said Adriana Ituarte, a salesperson for the brand. “And the idea is for it to be sold at bars that stock craft beer.”

A 355 ml bottle is due to be priced at 70.10 pesos ($3.73).

Read more: Drink like a Mexican kingpin: 'El Chapo' beer launched by daughter [reuters.com, Jose Luis Osorio, 1-17-2020, image courtesy El chapo beer] Read the rest

Greta Thunberg: 'You have not seen anything yet,' climate activist says as Davos nears

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

“To the world leaders and those in power, I would like to say that you have not seen anything yet. You have not seen the last of us, we can assure you that. And that is the message that we will bring to the World Economic Forum in Davos next week.”

In the Swiss city of Lausanne on Friday, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and was joined by an estimated 10,000 others for a protest march, before many of them travel to Davos for next week's annual gathering of political and business elites. Their goal: Draw attention to the urgent need for world leaders to fight our worsening climate crisis.

Thunberg is 17 years old, and founded the #FridaysforFuture climate crisis awareness campaign.

From Reuters:

“So, we are now in a new year and we have entered a new decade and so far, during this decade, we have seen no sign whatsoever that real climate action is coming and that has to change,” Thunberg said in a speech in Lausanne.

“To the world leaders and those in power, I would like to say that you have not seen anything yet. You have not seen the last of us, we can assure you that. And that is the message that we will bring to the World Economic Forum in Davos next week.”

Protestors held signs including “Wake up and Smell the Bushfires” and “It is late but it is not too late”.

Hundreds of campaigners will take trains over the weekend and then march to Klosters near Davos, which Thunberg is attending for the second year in a row and will take part in two panel events.

Read the rest

Illicit THC dealers are raking in the bucks on Instagram: Report

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

Not so dank, dudes. NBC News reports that “countless purveyors of illicit THC products” are selling illegal cannabis or fake cannabis products in plain sight on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

“They are facilitating a public health crisis,” said Timothy Mackey, a professor at the University of California San Diego. His team has done extensive research on how social media platforms are used to sell various illicit products.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says “Dank Vapes” THC cartridges were the source of several illness outbreaks -- but until fairly recently, you could still search #dankvapesofficial on IG and get 49,000 tagged posts in return.

Excerpt from the new NBC News investigative report:

Shopping for illicit vape cartridges on Instagram is astonishingly simple. Open the app, plug in a hashtag such as #vapecartsforsale and — voilà — multiple posts appear with pictures of THC cartridges. In the comments or caption section, sellers advertise their products and post phone numbers for would-be buyers.

“Shop here everything is good,” one seller wrote above a phone number.

“Everything must go,” another wrote in a separate post.

The CDC has identified a bootleg brand of THC cartridges called Dank Vapes as the source of several vape-related illnesses. NBC News has previously reported that the bogus brand’s cartridges contain contaminants such as hydrogen cyanide and vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent identified by the CDC as one of the likely culprits in the outbreak.

But until recently, you could type #dankvapesofficial into Instagram, and more than 49,000 posts would pop up.

Read the rest

Biden says Section 230 tech liability shield should end for Facebook, Zuckerberg should be subject to civil liability

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

Former Vice President and current 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden says U.S. Section 230 should be immediately revoked for Facebook and other social media platforms, and that Mark Zuckerberg should be submitted to civil liability.

He made the comments in a question-and-answer sessions with the New York Times.

Here's a long excerpt but a relevant one from the New York Times Q&A session with Biden, which is worth a read in entirety:

Charlie Warzel: Sure. Mr. Vice President, in October, your campaign sent a letter to Facebook regarding an ad that falsely claimed that you blackmailed Ukrainian officials to not investigate your son. I’m curious, did that experience, dealing with Facebook and their power, did that change the way that you see the power of tech platforms right now?

No, I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I’ve never been a big Zuckerberg fan. I think he’s a real problem. I think ——

CW: Can you elaborate?

No, I can. He knows better. And you know, from my perspective, I’ve been in the view that not only should we be worrying about the concentration of power, we should be worried about the lack of privacy and them being exempt, which you’re not exempt. [The Times] can’t write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued. But he can. The idea that it’s a tech company is that Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms.

Read the rest

Imagining a "smart city" that treats you as a sensor, not a thing to be sensed

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

The editors of Guardian Cities (previously) saw my Toronto Life blurb about how a "smart city" could be focused on enabling its residents, rather than tracking and manipulating them, and asked me to write a longer piece on the theme: The case for ... cities where you're the sensor, not the thing being sensed is the result.

In it, I revisit my 2015 Locus column on the idea of an Internet of Things that treats people "as sensors, not things to be sensed" -- a world where your devices never share your data with anyone else to get recommendations or advice, but rather, where all the inanimate objects stream data about how busy they are and whether they're in good repair, and your device taps into those streams and makes private recommendations, without relaying anything about you or your choices to anyone else.

As I've often written, the most important thing about technology isn't what it does, but who it does it to, and who it does it for. The sizzle-reels for "smart cities" always feature a control room where wise technocrats monitor the city and everyone in it -- all I'm asking is that we all get a seat in that control room.

My editor tells me that this is the last piece that will be commissioned for Guardian Cities, and I'm sincerely honored to get to close out an outstanding, longrunning project on urban reporting and theory.

It’s a safe bet that the people who make those videos imagine themselves as one of the controllers watching the monitors – not as one of the plebs whose movements are being fed to the cameras that feed the monitors.

Read the rest

Why AG Barr's use of Pensacola shooter case to rebuke Apple is so suspicious

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

FBI needs to be able to hack into your iphone, Trump's sham AG William Barr says

I have an Arduino and Intro to Making class on Skillshare and here's a great deal on a subscription

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

I've been a paying member of Skillshare for a few years. It's $10 a month and I'm able to watch unlimited instructional videos on a wide range of topics - programming, data science, Photoshop, photography, and tons of others.

The Adobe After Effects instructional classes were very helpful in teaching me how to make my first animated video (about blockchain technology). I'm not only a Skillshare student -- I also created two popular video courses on Skillshare. One is an introduction to the Arduino electronic prototyping platform and the other is a course on how to design and make things.

Skillshare asked me to share this link that will get you 3 months of full access to Skillshare for 99 cents. This is a great deal and a good way for you to sample everything they have to offer. Read the rest

Ars Technica's dunk on Gwyneth Paltrow's Netflix series is the best dunk of all

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

Ars Technica health reporter Beth Mole (previously) is a national treasure, and nowhere is her background in biology and science communications on better display than when she is puncturing the potentially lethal bullshit (vaginal jade egg -toxic shock -RIP) that Gwyneth Paltrow peddles through her Goop magazine and store (Mole was very good on Paltrow's advice to squirt coffee up your asshole).

Now, Mole has watched all six episodes of "Goop Lab," Paltrow's abysmal new Netflix show, and has lived to tell the tale. Of course, Mole doesn't merely critique the incoherent, bumbling storytelling of the series -- she also digs into the scientific chaos of Paltrow's fully on-brand bad advice on subjects as varied as the therapeutic uses of psychedelics to energy healing to immersing yourself in ice-water under the supervision of a charlatan who claims he can cure cancer and whose "therapy" has killed some of his "patients."

The thing that struck me about Mole's review is that some of Paltrow's guest-experts clearly made some kind of tradeoff where they agreed to tacitly endorse Paltrow's woo-profiteering in exchange for access to her audience, in the hopes of passing on some real, useful, scientific information -- and how Paltrow managed to neutralize most of the benefit that these legitimate experts might have had to offer to her viewers by bookending their advice with stupid stunts or foolish commentary.

In fact, earlier in that same episode, we learn that the 47-year-old actor didn't even know what a vagina is.

Read the rest

Yosemite sickens guests

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

Approximately 170 people who recently visited Yosemite are suffering stomach pain, nausea and diaherria.

CNN:

About 170 people who've gone to Yosemite National Park this month are suffering from gastrointestinal illness, including visitors and employees.

Two of the cases are confirmed as norovirus, and the majority of the others are consistent with the virus, the park said in a statement Thursday. Most of the incidents occurred around the first week of January, and there has been a decline of new cases in the past several days, it said.

The park is investigating the circumstances surrounding the illness and is interviewing affected people. It has also enhanced sanitation protocols to prevent further spread of the disease.

Read the rest

Lost horse takes city bus ride back home

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

Last night, a lost horse was trotting around the busy A48 road in Cardiff, Wales. Police and passers-by weren't quite sure what to do but a kind Cardiff Bus driver stopped and offered to take the horse to meet its owners at a safe location. From BBC:

"The police arrived and we were all a bit flummoxed of what to do because we couldn't get a horse box there in time," (said Harley Stephens, a citizen who assisted in the rescue).

She said the Cardiff Bus driver suggested putting it on a bus, so they put the disabled ramp down and "it went on quite happily".

Accompanied by Ms Stephens the horse was then taken to the hospital Park and Ride stop, with one other passenger sitting close by.

"He was quite chill about it," she said.

Inc 900A loose horse on the 'mane' A48 Eastern Ave decided it wanted to 'stirrup' a little trouble but in doing so it risked falling 'foal' of the law.It then decided to alight an @Cardiffbus which was on it's way to the Heath Hostable!Road now re open.#team1east pic.twitter.com/z7YyMWO1x3

— South Wales Police Roads Policing Unit (@SWP_Roads) January 16, 2020

Read the rest

Learn full stack web development with this $13 Javascript course

Jan 17, 2020

Description:

If you're looking to build a career in web development, it starts with Javascript. This programming language was there at the golden age of the internet, and it's still the basis for millions of web pages and apps worldwide.

Suffice to say, if you're a coder who doesn't know JS yet, you're not a coder. But short of an internship with a master in the language, the Complete Full-Stack JavaScript Course is the quickest way to get familiar with it.

The online course encompasses 87 lectures, but they're far from static recitations of terms. The core of the curriculum will have you designing a calculator app, chat app and a weblog - all from scratch.

Along the way, you'll use essential JavaScript tools like ReactJS, NodeJS, Redux and many more. Even if you don't use this course to land a high-paying web developer job (and they are out there), you'll be fully able to make your own apps and pull back the curtain on your favorite websites.

All told, you get more than 20 hours of content in the Complete Full-Stack JavaScript Course, which is now available for 93% off the MSRP. Read the rest

Smuggler busted carrying fake child stuffed with illegal cosmetics

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

The Uganda Revenue Authority recently nabbed a smuggler attempting to bring banned cosmetics into the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cosmetics were stuffed inside footie pajamas to resemble a child. The cosmetics are illegal because they apparently contain hydroquinone and mercury. Police caught the smuggler on a bus at the Mpondwe border crossing.

(UPI)

Smugglers will do anything. This is a concealment of contraband cosmetics containing hydroquinone & mercury from DRC. The dummy baby with a human mum aboard a bus with dangerous cosmetics intercepted at Mpondwe Kasese border. Prosecution of offender next#TeamNoSleep @URAuganda pic.twitter.com/9FMwWjtKSh

— Ian Rumanyika (@irumanyika) January 8, 2020 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Read the rest

After a 2-hour wait in emergency room, a 25-year-old woman leaves to find help elsewhere and dies

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Tashonna Ward (25) was a day care teacher from Milwaukee. She went to the emergency room at Froedtert Hospital with chest pains and tightness of breath, reports USA Today. More than two hours later no one at the hospital had helped her so she left to seek help somewhere else. But she soon collapsed and died.

From USA Today:

Ward's family says she was kept in the waiting room and was not under any monitoring when she decided to leave.

A spokesperson for Froedtert Hospital provided a statement: "The family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy. We cannot comment further at this time." Officials did not answer questions from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the death or general emergency department procedures.

Image: Fort Belvoir Community Hospital Emergency Room (U.S. Army photo by Reese Brown)

[via Fark] Read the rest

Review of an ultra-tiny but usable Bluetooth gamepad controller -- the 8Bitdo Zero 2

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Sam Makovech of Ars Technica reviews the 8Bitdo Zero 2 ( on Amazon), an adorable gamepad controller you can use with a Switch, PC, or Mac. His overall impression of the meant-for-travel gamepad is favorable.

From Ars Technica:

To my pleasant surprise, 8BitDo starts this gamepad off with a crucial emphasis on its D-pad. At roughly the size of an American dime, this small D-pad is comparable to some of Nintendo's smallest takes, like you'd find on a GameCube controller or a Nintendo 3DS console. But unlike those offerings, 8BitDo allows its Zero 2's D-pad to protrude ever so slightly farther from its body. Pressing down on any edge of the D-pad offers a full 2mm of action, and this has a satisfying sense of travel when a thumb is in its depressed, rounded center—built for the sake of neatly rocking from left to right or up to down.

The D-pad's quality was borne out by my own feverish Tetris testing, which worked whether I rapidly tap-tap-tapped in one direction or pivoted to a crucial "up to fast-drop" maneuver in newer Tetris games. When I imagine various times that I might rely on the Zero 2 as a controlling option, I think about how a good D-pad is the primary differentiator from other on-the-go options, whether that's a spare Joy-Con turned sideways, a weak laptop's keyboard, or a phone's on-screen buttons. I'd rather play Tetris or Super Mario Bros. with my thumb on this D-pad than relying on those other options.

Read the rest

Top tech grads are increasingly unwilling to work for Big Tech, viewing it as a new, unethical Wall Street

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

About five years ago, I was trying to get a bunch of Big Tech companies to take the right side of an urgent online civil rights fight, and I called an old friend who was very senior at one of the biggest tech companies in the world; they told me that it wasn't going to work, in part because the kinds of people who were coming to tech were there because they wanted to get as rich as possible, no matter what they had to do. My friend contrasted this with earlier eras -- even the dotcom bubble -- when the financial motive was blended with a genuine excitement for the transformative potential of tech to make a fairer, more equitable world. Now, my friend said, the kind of kid who would have gotten an MBA was instead getting an electrical engineering or computer science degree -- not out of any innate love for the subject, but because that was a path to untold riches.

But things are changing. Not only are young people far more skeptical of capitalism and concerned that it will annihilate the human race, but the tech companies' masks have slipped, revealing their willingness to supply ICE and the Chinese government alike, to help the oil industry torch the planet, and to divert their fortunes to supporting white nationalist causes. Companies that tout their ethical center have harbored and even rewarded serial sexual predators and busted nascent union movements.

The tech worker uprisings of recent years have caught the attention of the best and brightest grads of America's elite universities. Read the rest

The H2 Belt Light lets you use your peripheral vision in pitch darkness

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

There's a reason why most people do their jogging in the morning. Even though it might be muggy, foggy or warmer, there's a certain amount of safety that comes with daylight. I mean, it's not like you can just take a flashlight on your run.

Or can you? With a simple but innovative design tweak, the H2 Belt Light might have just changed the game for night runners, hikers or anyone who needs to move around in the dark.

After seeing it once, you kind of wonder why miners weren't wearing these instead of helmet lamps decades ago. Instead of a single, thin beam, the H2 casts a broad spectrum of light in front of you, right where you need it most: A 180-degree halo that lets you use your peripheral vision, even on the run.

The belt and lamp are light, with an IPX7 waterproof rating that keeps it safe even in heavy rain. There's high and low-intensity brightness modes or even a flash mode for extra safety. Even on the highest setting, you'll get three hours of life from the rechargeable battery.

Get your H2 Belt Light now from the Boing Boing shop for a full 25% off the retail price. Read the rest

The bubbles in VR, cryptocurrency and machine learning are all part of the parallel computing bubble

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Yesterday's column by John Naughton in the Observer revisited Nathan Myhrvold's 1997 prediction that when Moore's Law runs out -- that is, when processors stop doubling in speed every 18 months through an unbroken string of fundamental breakthroughs -- that programmers would have to return to the old disciplines of writing incredibly efficient code whose main consideration was the limits of the computer that runs on it.

I'd encountered this idea several times over the years, whenever it seemed that Moore's Law was petering out, and it reminded me of a prediction I'd made 15 years ago: that as computers ceased to get faster, they would continue to get wider -- that is, that the price of existing processors would continue to drop, even if the speed gains petered out -- and that this would lead programmers towards an instinctual preference for solving the kinds of problems that could be solved in parallel (where the computing could be done on several processors at once, because each phase of the solution was independent of the others) and an instinctual aversion for problems that had to be solved in serial (where each phase of the solution too the output of the previous phase as its input, meaning all the steps had to be solved in order).

That's because making existing processors more cheaply only requires minor, incremental improvements in manufacturing techniques, while designing new processors that are significantly faster requires major breakthroughs in material science, chip design, etc. These breakthroughs aren't just unpredictable in terms of when they'll arrive, they're also unpredictable in terms of how they will play out. Read the rest

Good Twitter thread for book recommendations

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Over the weekend my friend Bonnie Burton (a writer who was a recent guest on my Cool Tools podcast) asked on Twitter, "What is your favorite book that you're currently reading? I'm always curious what folks like to read!"

What is your favorite book that you're currently reading? I'm always curious what folks like to read! pic.twitter.com/d7Z8GgIMen

— Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) January 12, 2020

She got tons of responses, and I think Boing Boing readers would be interested.

(My contribution to the thread is Let It Come Down, by Paul Bowles) Read the rest

Winds blowing waterfalls upwards in the Faroe Islands

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Enjoy this footage of hurricane force winds blasting waterfalls skyward in the Faroe Islands. It was recorded Sept 14th, 2019, by Marko Korosec.

A powerful North Atlantic windstorm that delivers violent hurricane-force winds and major waves, smashing the huge cliffs on the Faroe Islands. Winds are so intense, waterfall and going in the opposite direction - upwards!

The vertical waterfalls are seen from 1:20 in. Read the rest

Magnificent steel toilet flushes forty golf balls with ease

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Do you blow several kilograms of rock-hard spherical poop at a time? Have you ever found yourself extruding five pounds of thick gelatinous candy from your rectum? Does your ass blast hundreds of acorns? Metcraft's High Abuse Stainless Steel Toilet is for you.

This is the greatest hits video of a High Abuse Metcraft Stainless Steel Toilet, HET Model using 1.28 gallons of water.

Still considering whether the slow, menacing on-screen crawl of the text "12 Inch Chocolate Longjohn Doughnut from Lamar's" qualifies this post for the "Star Wars" tag. Read the rest

Listen to this strange and compelling mix of field recordings, cut-ups, and sound art

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Composer Janek Schaefer drew from the work of John Cage, DJ Shadow, The Orb, Marina Abramović, Steve Reich, Chris Watson, and so many other greats to create this powerfully evocative and weird 90 minute mix. A former architect, Scahefer has masterfully designed a haunting, expansive environment of found sound. This is the way, step inside...

Schaefer also prepared a complementary essay and annotated tracklist for the mix. From The Vinyl Factory:

I loved how sound creates images that you cannot see, capturing an impression of spaces and places that can only be revealed again thought playback over time...

This C-90 style mixtape, entitled ‘New Dimensions In Time, Space and Place’, is a meander through my physical collection of works that have inspired me over the last 36 years, and I still enjoy. The loosely connecting themes explore found sound, ready-mades, collage, samples, sound design, sculpture, performance, field recordings, sonic art, appropriation, alteration, and accidents. The context of these sounds brings meaning to the works, and our understanding of that context brings the work to life when listening to it.

Read the rest

Interview with the man arrested for possession of donut glaze

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

In this Vice video we meet Daniel Rushing, the Florida man who was arrested in 2016 on felony charges when police thought crumbs of donut glaze found in his car were methamphetamine. Daniel says he does not take drugs, does not drink, and does not smoke, but eats one Krispy Kreme donut every other week, and admits that they are as "addictive as cocaine." He received $37,500 from the City of Orlando because the police officer had never been trained in using a field drug test, but his arrest record still hasn't been cleared. Read the rest

Conservatives angry at Burger King over ad where someone says "Damn that's good"

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

In today's era of genteel moderation and respectful political leadership, foul language has become a shocking outrage on those rare occasions it shows up in our broader culture. Now Burger King has ruined everything by using the phrase "Damn that's good" in a burger ad, unleashing the forces of incivility, blasphemy and obscenity. A conservative group is duly up in arms.

a big deal just became a bigger deal. the Impossible Whopper is available nationwide starting 8/8. pic.twitter.com/TpFQenSLFQ

— Burger King (@BurgerKing) August 1, 2019

"One Million Moms finds this highly inappropriate. When responding to the taste test, he didn't have to curse. Or if, in fact, it was a real and unscripted interview in which the man was not an actor, then Burger King could have simply chosen to edit the profanity out of the commercial," the group said in a press release.

"Burger King's Impossible Whopper ad is irresponsible and tasteless. It is extremely destructive and damaging to impressionable children viewing the commercial. We all know children repeat what they hear."

The group's true size obviously falls far short of its ambitious name, and may even be the effort of a single person operating under the broader aegis of the American Family Association. But it has a gift for putting the fear of God into corporate bowers and scrapers. One recent success was convincing The Hallmark Channel to ban an advertisement featuring a lesbian couple; Hallmark reinstated the ad shortly thereafter.

A less successful campaign was its effort to boycott Barnes and Noble for selling If You Give A Pig A White House, a book that disrespects our noble and decent President Donald Trump. Read the rest

Re-key every lock in your home

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Matt Haughey moved into a new home with a lot of deadbolts. Rather than carry around a jangling morning star of keys, he decided to re-key everything. It took less than a day.

I researched getting a locksmith to come out, but it would run hundreds of dollars in their time plus you can only re-key locks to a key made by the same manufacturer, and by my count we had at least three different brands of locks spread among all the doors. I could save money by bringing the locks to a locksmith’s store, replacing off brands with a single brand and re-installing myself, or I could teach myself how to rekey locks using a ~$100 set from amazon that takes a few hours of practice to master.

He replaced three of the locks so all could use the Kwikset Smart Key [Amazon] system, the hero of the piece -- about $100 all in. Read the rest

Texas cop fired for giving excrement sandwich to homeless man wins appeal

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Matthew Luckhurst, the San Antonio police officer fired after giving a homeless man a shit sandwich, has won his appeal. KSAT reports that he won the appeal because of a government rule that "prevents law enforcement from disciplining an officer for conduct that occurred more than 180 days before they are disciplined."

The arbitrator's report (which you can read online) says the firing was reasonable whether Luckhurst's actions were "intentionally or grossly inappropriate" – Luckhurst claims he was was helping homeless people clean up their camp and handed the man the bread-and-shit to be disposed of, not eaten – but didn't come soon enough.

Luckhurst was subsequently notified of his dismissal on Oct. 28, 2016 -- within the 180-day window if the incident occurred May 6, 2016, as initially thought.

Arbitration documents state that later, Luckhurst reviewed his medical records and found that the incident could not have occurred on May 6, 2016, because he had injured himself during a martial arts class and was on light duty from April 6, 2016, to June 14, 2016, preventing him from riding a bike, as his peers had testified.

The paperwork states that after interviewing witnesses and others who had heard about the incident -- all of whom gave varying dates -- it was determined that the incident may have occurred outside the 180-day window to discipline Luckhurst, effectively voiding his dismissal.

Luckhurst isn't back on the beat, though, as he was also fired over another incident and an arbitration hearing on that is yet to be held. Read the rest

Expensive underground "sleeping pods" proposed to house San Franciscans

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

A housing development project hopes to put people underground in the cavernous depths of San Francisco's Mission neighborhood.

SFGate reports:

Developer Chris Elsey of Elsey Partners in Manhattan, Kansas, has plans to build two apartment buildings in San Francisco's Mission District that would each include two basement-level floors with 88 so-called "sleeping pods," measuring about 50 square feet each, just a little bigger than a king-size bed...

"The contentious part is these below-grade sleeping pods," said Elsey... "When you’re building something, the plans have to be approved by the Planning Department and the Building Department. These below-grade sleeping pods meet the building codes, but there’s this perception from the Planning Department that it’s not something any human being should be exposed to or allowed to do."

...With close living quarters, the underground spaces would likely have "house rules" that residents would need to obey.

"Obviously people don’t like it when people come home drunk and belligerent," he said. "And no pod sex. I think anyone who has been in college or a dormitory, you’ve had experiences where you prefer that people do those things in private."

The project has not yet been approved by the city and it could take years for that to happen. But, if it gets the go-ahead, it's estimated that the individual, windowless sleeping pods would rent for $1,000 to $1,375 each.

Head to SFGate for images of the proposed apartment building, including plans for the sleeping pods.

screenshot via The Mole People/YouTube Read the rest

A 10-film trip through the "acid western"

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

BFI, the British film organization, has posted a list of ten "acid westerns."

The term ‘acid western’ is an elusive one. First coined by Pauline Kael in her New Yorker review of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo (1970), it wasn’t until 2000 and the publication of his monograph on Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995) for the BFI Modern Classics series that critic Jonathan Rosenbaum would expand upon the terminology more specifically.

“What I partly mean by acid westerns,” wrote Rosenbaum, “are revisionist westerns in which American history is reinterpreted to make room for peyote visions and related hallucinogenic experiences, LSD trips in particular.” He distinguishes these from the “less radical… upheaval of generic norms” that colour “the influence of marijuana on the drifting, nonlinear aspects of the style of McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971),” setting the ‘acid western’ apart from what he calls the ‘pot western'.

I guess it's really a "you know it when you see it" kind of deal. Read the rest

TV's Robin had to take pills to shrink his genitals while Batman stuffed his underwear

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Burt Ward, who played Robin on the 1960s Batman TV series, claims that the ABC television network insisted he take pills to shrink his genitals so they wouldn't be so noticeable in his green underwear. However with Adam "Batman" West, he says, "they put Turkish towels in his undershorts." From a Page Six interview with Ward who last week scored a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

The Caped Crusaders costumes were bright and tight-fitting to say the least, so snug that Ward incurred the wrath of the Catholic League of Decency...

The problem grew so tumescent that the studio had Ward see a doctor who prescribed medication “to shrink me up.”

Thankfully Ward quit taking the pills almost immediately.

“I took them for three days and then I decided that they can probably keep me from having children,” he said. “I stopped doing that and I just used my cape to cover it.”

Read the rest

Florida man catches 350 pound grouper with a hook and line

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

This 350 pound Warsaw grouper was caught with a hook and line off the coast of southwest Florida a couple weeks back. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the fish was caught in about 600 feet of water. From CNN:

"Biologists from (the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute) Age & Growth Lab estimated the age of this fish at 50 years old, making this the oldest sample collected for our ageing program," the FWC said. "Acquiring the otolith from this fish was extremely valuable as samples from larger and older fish are rare."

Otoliths are the hard structures located behind the brain of bony fishes, according to the FWC. They help fish hear, maintain balance and orient themselves. Scientists use the growth structure of otoliths to estimate a fish's age.

Warsaw groupers can grow to a length of 7.5 feet and weight of 580 pounds. The record for the largest one caught in Florida is nearly 440 pounds...

The FWC said it "does not encourage the targeting of Warsaw grouper," as the species' population in the Gulf of Mexico isn't known.

Read the rest

Australia fires: Carrots and sweet potatoes dropped from the air to feed starving animals

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

The New South Wales Government is dropping thousands of pounds of carrots and sweet potato from helicopters to feed the endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies that are starving as a result of the massive bushfires across Australia. From the NSW Government:

(According to Environment Minister Matt Kean,) "Initial fire assessments indicate the habitat of several important Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby populations was burnt in the recent bushfires. The wallabies typically survive the fire itself, but are then left stranded with limited natural food as the fire takes out the vegetation around their rocky habitat.

"The wallabies were already under stress from the ongoing drought, making survival challenging for the wallabies without assistance."

In the last week almost 1000 kilograms of sweet potato and carrot have been sent to 6 different colonies in the Capertee and Wolgan valleys; 1000 kilograms across 5 sites in Yengo National Park; almost 100 kilograms of food and water in the Kangaroo Valley, with similar drops having also taken place in Jenolan, Oxley Wild Rivers and Curracubundi national parks.

Mr Kean said this is the most widespread food drop we have ever done for Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies and will help maintain these colonies and allow them to recover.

"At this stage, we expect to continue providing supplementary food to rock-wallaby populations until sufficient natural food resources and water become available again in the landscape, during post-fire recovery."

image: "Brush-tailed rock-wallabies (Petrogale penicillata)"/NPWS/DPIE

Read the rest

Harvesting eyeballs from discarded doll heads for a stop-motion film

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

"I got all these doll heads from a scrap market in Cairo," says artist Dinaa Amin, "collected by sellers who collect them from garbage bins." She took out the eyes to make a stop motion movie.

[via Make:] Read the rest

The Mavic 2 Pro is the newest flagship drone from DJI

Jan 13, 2020

Description:

Drones are fairly ubiquitous these days. It doesn't take much to get a piece of plastic off the ground — and, as our smartphones have proven, decent cameras don't have to take up space. Attach one, and voila! You've got some fun, if shaky, footage.

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone is a whole other ballgame. This piece of technology shows that the line between consumer tech and professional-grade movie-making equipment is growing thinner every day.

If you ever wanted to know what's available at the high end of the drone market, the Mavic 2 hits all the marks. Where to start?

First and foremost, there's the camera. It's Hasselblad L12-20c with an adjustable-aperture lens, capable of taking 20 MP photos. The range is impressive, thanks to the 10-bit Dlog-M color profile that begs to be used for sweeping, panoramic vistas. But even on foggy nights or in low light, the CMOS sensor compensates to deliver crisp images back to the viewer.

Those viewing options are just as impressive. You can watch the footage from your smartphone or fly along virtually in DJI goggles. With low latency transmission, it'll be just like you're in the very tiny cockpit.

Speaking of portability, the unit is 8.4" H x 3.6" L x 3.3" W when fully deployed, but it folds up to a fraction of that when dormant. The low-noise propellers make it fly like a whisper, and sensors on all sides of the drone can actively scan for obstacles and compensate in flight for remarkable maneuverability. Read the rest

Gin yogurt criticized

Jan 12, 2020

Description:

A doctor in Britain leveled a complaint against food company Müller over its latest product, yoghurt flavored to taste like gin cocktails and containing a small amount of alcohol.

The yoghurts, which were launched last year, contain 0.5% gin.

A spokesperson for the yoghurt maker said the product was fat-free, high in protein and contained no added sugar.

Dr Wells, who practises in North Yorkshire, said: "Given the problems we have with alcohol as a society - which is very visible in our GP practices and A&E departments - the creation of alcohol inspired yoghurts seems unnecessary and counterproductive to public health.

Brexit Gin Yogurt is my new punk band name. Read the rest

Mildly interesting old sign found in basement

Jan 12, 2020

Description:

I removed the last of the ancient wooden boards attached randomly to joists and walls in our basement and piled it all in the yard ready for disposal. A heap of split, splintered rusty-nailed junk caked in decades of paint and grime. So it stayed almost for a week, before Heather noticed some writing on one beneath the filth.

Naturally, it had to be saved: pulled from the pile, denailed, two lengthwise cracks woodglued, cut down to the interesting part, cleaned with detergent and oxalic acid, sealed and lacquered. Very proud of myself! I bet I could get $5 for it on Etsy.

The Delco Light company was well-known for electrifying farms back in the day and ended up a GM subsidiary, living on to this day as two syllables of an auto parts brand.

Our find was probably the side of a wooden box that the house's original 1920s-era electrics were delivered in.

Read the rest

Glossary: Chinese futurist military jargon

Jan 12, 2020

Description:

Via Bruce Sterling, the Chinese characters for "specific ethnic genetic attacks," "combat brain," "winning without fighting" and more.

“biological dominance” (制生权)

biological interdisciplinary (生物交叉)

brain control (脑控)

“brain-machine fusion” (脑机融合)

Cognitive Science Basic Research Team (认知科学基础研究团队)

“combat brain” (作战大脑)

domain of consciousness (意识域)

frontier/cutting-edge interdisciplinary (前沿交叉)

“hybrid intelligence” (混合智能)

human-machine coordination (人机协同)

“human performance enhancement technologies” (人效能增强技术)

“informatization” (信息化). information operations (信息作战)

“intelligence dominance” (制智权). intelligent autonomy (智能自主)

“intelligentized” (智能化)

“keep pace with the times” (与时俱进)

key points of struggle (制权争夺点)

“mental/cognitive dominance” (制脑权)

military cognitive capabilities (军事认知能力)

multi-domain integration (多域一体)

National Innovation Institute for Defense Technology (国防科技创新研究院)

“specific ethnic genetic attacks” (特定种族基因攻击)

“strategic commanding heights” (制高点)

War for Biological Dominance (制生权战争)

“winning without fighting” (不战而屈人之兵)

(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY, modified) Read the rest

Save over 50% on the expanded edition of Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Jan 12, 2020

Description:

There's no shortage of turn-based strategy games on the market. But few of them have the scope of Sid Meier's Civilization, whose title says it all. Your goal is nothing less than the shepherding of an entire nation from its first village to global dominance — and beyond.

The Civ series is now on its sixth iteration, and the latest is a literal world-beater. It's also one of the most expandable, and all those expansions have finally been collected in Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Platinum Edition.

If you're looking for a late Christmas gift for a sim fan, this one is hard to beat. The pack includes the core game Sid Meier's Civilization VI, with new tweaks that include a branching cultural improvement path and enhanced AI for computer opponents — a definite improvement over previous editions.

It also comes with six DLC packs that introduce new scenarios and allows you to play as entirely new civilizations. As the cherry on top, you get the major expansions "Rise and Fall" and "Gathering Storm" which introduce game-changing Global Eras and devastating natural disasters.

The entire set is now available for 58% off the original retail price. Read the rest

William Gibson talks about scrapping and rewriting a novel after the 2016 Trump election

Jan 11, 2020

Description:

Agency is the sequel to William Gibson's tour-de-force 2014 novel "The Peripheral"; as previously discussed, Gibson had to scrap large sections of the novel and rewrite it after Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential election. Agency is out later this month (I have a review pending for publication date) and Gibson has conducted a long interview with Sam Leith about the process by which the book came to be -- and almost wasn't.

Gibson's had quite a year, being named a grandmaster by the Science Fiction Writers of America and winning EFF's Pioneer Award. The upcoming, long delayed publication of Agency has also prompted some outstanding, intimate profiles of his life and work (it's been more than 20 years since I profiled him for The Globe and Mail).

The Leith interview is a great warm-up for Agency, which is a remarkable book.

The lazy shorthand with which he’s sometimes described is as a prophet. How does he feel about that? An albatross around the neck, an encouraging compliment – or just part of the job? “It’s actually ... It seems to be a thing. But I’ve been discounting it actively throughout my entire career. I don’t think you could find a single interview with me in which I don’t make the point that I’ve got it wrong easily as often as I’ve got it sort of right.”

He certainly gets it right in one respect in Agency: the flashpoint crisis in the book’s contemporary timeline concerns a Turkish invasion of northern Syria, complicated by Russian interference, after the US pulls out.

Read the rest

Wireheading: when machine learning systems jolt their reward centers by cheating

Jan 11, 2020

Description:

Machine learning systems are notorious for cheating, and there's a whole menagerie of ways that these systems achieve their notional goals while subverting their own purpose, with names like "model stealing, rewarding hacking and poisoning attacks."

AI researcher Stuart Armstrong (author of 2014's Smarter Than Us: The Rise of Machine Intelligence) takes a stab at defining a specific kind of ML cheating, "wireheading" -- a term borrowed from Larry Niven's novels, where it refers to junkies who get "tasps" -- wires inserted directly into their brains' "pleasure centers" that drip feed them electrified ecstasy until they starve to death (these also appear in Spider Robinson's Hugo-winning book Mindkiller).

A rather dry definition of wireheading is this one: "a divergence between a true utility and a substitute utility (calculated with respect to a model of reality)." More accessibly, it's that "there is some property of the world that we want to optimise, and that there is some measuring system that estimates that property. If the AI doesn't optimise the property, but instead takes control of the measuring system, that's wireheading (bonus points if the measurements the AI manipulates go down an actual wire).

Suppose we have a weather-controlling AI whose task is to increase air pressure; it gets a reward for so doing.

What if the AI directly rewrites its internal reward counter? Clearly wireheading.

What if the AI modifies the input wire for that reward counter? Clearly wireheading.

What if the AI threatens the humans that decide on what to put on that wire?

Read the rest

Departing Kotaku writers post a farewell message to their private equity asshole boss: "Sup dude. Suck it."

Jan 11, 2020

Description:

Jim Spanfeller (previously) is the private equity monster whose mismanagement of various former Gizmodo sites (notably Gawker, Splinter and Deadspin) has generated endless bad press from his own employees, who have doggedly reported on every single demand that they shut up and suck it up, has now been publicly condemned in the pages of yet another of his publications -- this time, it's the gaming site Kotaku.

Joshua Rivera and Gita Jackson have both resigned from Kotaku. In a farewell post, the journalists interview one another about their careers at the site, with special disapprobation for Spanfeller, Great Hill Partners and G/O Media.

Gita: His outward and obvious hostility towards the writers here, his treatment of the Deadspin writers, his firing of Barry, the way that he talks about Deadspin and the way that he won’t take responsibility for its closure even though it comes from his really awful management decisions, have just made my faith in the ability of him being able to keep this company solvent, just completely obliterated. And it’s all him. It’s all his choices.

Josh: There’s no way I feel supported as a writer. I know Stephen Totilo, bless up, will go to the ends of the earth for us.

Gita: Hell yeah. He would fight an army. He cares so much about his writers.

Josh: It’s a shame that we don’t have owners that care for a fraction as much. You know, they don’t, they don’t shout out our work.

Read the rest

America's most popular governor: the lavishly corrupt Larry Hogan [R-MD]

Jan 11, 2020

Description:

Maryland's Larry Hogan -- a Republican who governs a blue state -- is the most popular governor in America, with a 73% approval among state Democrats. He is also a flagrant crook.

Hogan has booked $2.4m in personal income during his three years in office, most of it thanks to his cancellation of a desperately needed public transit expansion in Baltimore, the funds from which were diverted to building roads in the middle of nowhere that just happened to serve the suburban property developments his company owned. That company was nominally put in his brother's hands when Hogan took office, but as the Washington Monthly's Eric Cortellessa reports, that was a fiction, and Hogan has continued to oversee his company even as he made public policy that made his governorship the most profitable in Maryland history.

None of this is a secret: Hogan has bragged about it and his office has issued maps boasting about where his new roads were going in. Hogan claims to be "the Republican who believes in climate change," even as he's overseen a radical expansion in automobile use that was paid for by destroying an ambitious public transit scheme, which will benefit the state's suburban whites at the expense of the large Black population of Baltimore, who have been shat upon by their state for generations.

It's all probably legal, too, because Maryland has some of the weakest anti-corruption rules in America.

In the New Republic, Alex Pareene describes Hogan as the kind of "normal" Republican that centrist Democrats yearn to work with -- ordinarily corrupt and rapacious, with plausibly deniable policies of white supremacy, uncomplicated by explicit white nationalist rhetoric. Read the rest

This low-cost contour gauge is very useful

Jan 11, 2020

Description:

This 10" contour gauge makes measuring for detailed or difficult cuts easier.

Having seen ads for these all over Instagram and other websites I was intrigued. For less than $15 I had to give a contour gauge a try. They are as handy, and easy to use, as the videos suggest.

This Avide gauge is cheap and it works. The pins are held into the frame with enough pressure that a very moderate amount of force will shape the gauge, but the pins will not slide or move once you draw it away and go to work.

I am also interested in the 5" version as there are some tight spaces around a few pipes this one may not fit. We shall see.

10 Inch Contour Gauge Irregular Profile Gauge Duplicator Tiling Laminate Tiles Edge Shaping Wood Measure Ruler Plastic Woodworking Tools Profile Jig Guide via Amazon Read the rest

Turning a Sega MegaDrive into a cool, retro synthesizer

Jan 8, 2020

Description:

Sam Battle of Look Mum No Computer, the mad sonic scientist who brought us the Furby Organ, has done it again. This time, he turned a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive into an awesomely retro-sounding synthesizer.

The Sega Mega Drive included a Yamaha YM2612 six-channel FM synthesizer chip under the hood. Sam broke that out to create his synth which so epically invokes that iconic, often cringe-worthy, 80s synth sound.

On his second YouTube channel, Look Mum No Computer But More Serious-ish, he goes into more detail about the YM2612, the Sega Drive, and putting together the synth. Read the rest

Become an in-demand digital marketer in 2020 with the help of this training

Jan 8, 2020

Description:

Digital marketing in the coming decade will be a battle fought on multiple fronts. Companies are finding their customers on more web outlets than ever, and they're not getting any less fickle.

It can all be pretty confusing for anyone looking to make their brand breakthrough, but the 2020 Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle is one of the best resources for anyone looking to cut through the noise.

The package has 12 courses that serve as instructions for all the best tools in the marketer's belt. No "rah-rah" pep talks here, just raw info about how you can use today's biggest platforms to elevate your brand.

There are specific looks at what draws face time on YouTube, Google Ads and Facebook. You'll learn how to use Google Analytics to track and act upon shifts in incoming traffic. And of course, you'll get expert, up to date advice on how to use SEO effectively across the board.

The bundle is already over 90% off the cost of the individual courses. Read the rest

Cute fruit bats featured on new 2020 quarter

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

I'm no coin collector but I'm certainly hoping to get this great new quarter, which depicts the fruit bats of the National Park in American Samoa, as change sometime this year.

CoinNews.net:

Designer: Richard Masters Sculptor-Engraver: Phebe Hemphill

Mr. Masters’ design depicts a Samoan Fruit Bat mother hanging in a tree with her pup evoking the remarkable care and energy that this species puts into their offspring. The design is intended to promote awareness of the species’ threatened status due to habitat loss and commercial hunting. The National Park of American Samoa is the only park in the United States that is home to the Samoan Fruit Bat. Inscriptions are "NATIONAL PARK," "AMERICAN SAMOA," "2020," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."

This coin, part of the America the Beautiful collection, has a release date of February 3.

Thanks, Kasey!

image via CoinWeek Read the rest

Bloomberg and Trump to buy competing $10 million Super Bowl ads

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Yes, it has come to this. Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and acting U.S. president and warmongering dumbass Donald Trump are both buying duelling $10 million dollar campaign ads to run against each other during the Super Bowl.

Where's that giant flaming meteor, 2020. Bring it on.

“The biggest point is getting under Trump’s skin,” Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the Bloomberg campaign, told the New York Times.

Citing sources with the campaigns, CNN reports that both Trump and former New York Mayor Bloomberg's presidential campaigns plan to each spend $10 million on 60-second TV spots to run during the much-watched football game.

Trump's ad, according to a campaign aide, is expected to run early in the game. The campaign reserved the ad time in December and the spot has already been paid for, the aide added. Bloomberg, after Trump's plans to run an ad during the Super Bowl were reported on last year, decided that he would also air a spot during the February 2 game, a spokesperson for the former New York Mayor told CNN.

Neither campaign said exactly how much they paid for their ad, but Fox executives have said that they hope a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl would cost more than $5 million, meaning a 60-second spot could cost each campaign upwards of $10 million. The Bloomberg spokesperson said that the presidential campaign would pay "market rate" for the coveted ad time.

Trump, Bloomberg campaigns set to spend millions to air ads during Super Bowl [Dan Merica, Kaitlan Collins and Betsy Klein, CNN, 5:24 PM ET, Tue January 7, 2020]

IMAGES courtesy miasbliv.com Read the rest

Pizza-making robot startup lays off 80% of staff

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Softbank-funded unicorn Zume ran out of dough

Starbucks adds oat milk to vegan non-dairy options

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

If you can't or won't or just don't drink cow milk, Starbucks has a new option for you.

On Tuesday, the global coffee chain began offering oat milk along with other plant-based milks in beverages, at certain US locations, with plans to expand.

Starbucks had previously begun offering new beverages made with coconut and almond milk in the United States and Canada. Soy is a longtime option offered at Starbucks, worldwide. Oat is pretty recent, and I happen to like it.

More plant options seem like they'll be a good thing for the planet, because animal agriculture is linked to climate change, not to mention animal suffering.

From Reuters:

Sweden-based Oatly, which supplies oat milk to Starbucks in the Midwest, started production in the United States about three years ago and has partnered with several cafes in the country, including New York-based bubble tea café Boba Guys and Chicago-based Intelligentsia.

The trend mirrors the popularity of plant-based meat substitutes, with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods adding their vegan patties and sausages to menus at fast-food and fine-dining restaurants.

Starbucks has sold lattes and coffees with oat milk in Europe since 2018 and at a few of its upscale Reserve locations in the United States since last year.

Starbucks launches oat milk drink as vegan movement grows [reuters.com] Read the rest

Canada legalized pot. Beer consumption there dropped.

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

“Volume decline accelerated in 2019, down 3% through November.”

The new availability of a wide array of legal marijuana products has is beginning to take a bite out of beer consumption in Canada, reports Bloomberg News.

That's a big deal for a nation that prides itself in beer. What will Bob and Doug MacKenzie say?

Beer volumes fell by 3% through November, data from Beer Canada show.

“This is far worse than the trends seen between 2014-2018, where beer industry volumes fell an average 0.3%,” and appears to be related to Canada’s legalization of pot in late 2018, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer told Bloomberg News:

Domestic beer volumes slid 3.9% through November, while imported beer volumes grew 1.4%. Cannabis consumers appear to prefer mainstream beer “as they pursue better ‘buzz for your buck,”’ Azer said in a note published Tuesday.

There’s some debate about how much impact marijuana legalization has on alcohol consumption, although surveys of pot users indicate that they tend to drink less when they’re high. Declining sales have led to several alcohol-cannabis partnerships, including Constellation Brands Inc.’s investment in Canopy Growth Corp., Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s joint venture with Tilray Inc. and Molson Coors Brewing Co.’s partnership with Hexo Corp.

To be sure, the Canadian cannabis market is still tiny. Annual sales based on the most recent monthly data would be C$1.5 billion versus C$9.2 billion for beer and C$23 billion for alcohol.

Legal Pot Takes a Bite out of Beer Consumption in Canada [.bloomberg.com]

Read the rest

Kentucky man who wished to go to jail to support jailed girlfriend gets wish

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Be careful what you wish for. In Kentucky, authorities have arrested a man they say expressed a desire to go to jail to support his jailed girlfriend.

Raymond Pace, 47, is charged with offenses that include possession of methamphetamine, heroin and drug paraphernalia, Kentucky news outlets reported.

From the Garrard County Police Department's Facebook Page:

True Love.....

On January 4, 2020 at around 7:04 pm, Mr. Raymond Pace called dispatch wanting to report a stolen laptop computer.

When Officer Steven Debord arrived to take the report, an intoxicated Mr. Pace stated that he wanted to go to jail and needed to be locked up for 5 months, and asked if assault on a police officer would get him 5 months. Officer Debord advised Mr. Pace that he didn't want to do that, and instead suggested that they talk about whatever issues he was having. Mr. Pace agreed and invited Officer Debord into his home.

Once inside, Mr. Pace told Officer Debord that he needed to go to jail for 5 months because his girlfriend was in jail for for 5 months and he wanted to be there with her so she wouldn't be stressing out. Pace again asked if if assault would get him 5 months and shoved Officer Debord's shoulder. Officer Debord advised Pace not to do that again, and suggested that Pace go to bed and sleep off whatever alcohol he had consumed.

Pace continued to insist on going to jail, reaching under the couch and pulling out a box containing a baggie filled with suspected methamphetamine, several items of drug paraphernalia, including what Pace claimed was meth residue on a spoon.

Read the rest

Florida woman flings poo at landlord, covers herself in it, charged with battery

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

She has been charged with battery of a person over 65.

Squirrel wrecks couple's home while away on holiday and insurance won't pay

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

In Atlanta, a couple say they returned from their holidays to find their home had been completely wrecked by a squirrel. Their insurance company, Mercury, says nope-- squirrel damage is not covered. The couple has launched a GoFundMe. No word on the squirrel.

TODAY AT 5: A local family came home from vacation to find wood damage throughout...caused by a squirrel! Why their insurance carrier won’t cover the damage. pic.twitter.com/gh576P7HAY

— Mike Petchenik (@MPetchenikWSB) January 6, 2020

Kari and Dustin Drees purchased the home, their first, just in December in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

Weeks later, off they went to visit family for the holidays.

While they were away, their home alarm system went off, signaling a possible intruder.

“We had a friend come check it out and our doors and windows were intact, so we just thought it was a software issue,” Ms. Drees said.

No windows or doors breached.

And yet.

They returned to a home with scratched up floors, chewed up baseboards -- even the kitchen sink was left running, Kari Drees told reporters.

Who did it?

A furry little asshole with a long tail.

From the Associated Press:

A squirrel had fallen down their chimney and was trapped in the house, defecating and scratching at everything to get out. Eventually it made a nest in the couple’s couch. “We’re stressed at first, but we were like, ‘This is why you have homeowner’s insurance. It’s in situations like this.’ ... and so we weren’t too stressed,” Kari Drees said.

Read the rest

This 2TB USB 3.0 portable Seagate drive is perfect for backups

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

I am backing up to this Seagate 2TB portable disk.

I last backed up my laptop a little over 8 months ago. I thought I would get back to my usual storage device, a Drobo 5N2, however, I have not visited my brother in a few months. I left the Drobo to serve as his Plex media server until I have a living room again.

Living la vida #vanlife!

As I frequently work from the road I was suddenly overcome with a need to backup my laptop. The Seagate is fast and fairly quiet. The drive is small and light enough to be a nearly unnoticeable addition to my bag.

Seagate Portable 2TB External Hard Drive Portable HDD – USB 3.0 for PC Laptop and Mac (STGX2000400) via Amazon

Read the rest

NASA's TESS mission finds Earth-sized world in habitable zone

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

I'm already packing.

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star's habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet's potential environments to help inform future observations.

TOI 700 is a small, cool M dwarf star located just over 100 light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado. It's roughly 40 of the Sun's mass and size and about half its surface temperature. The star appears in 11 of the 13 sectors TESS observed during the mission's first year, and scientists caught multiple transits by its three planets.

The innermost planet, called TOI 700 b, is almost exactly Earth-size, is probably rocky and completes an orbit every 10 days.

Read the rest

Andrew McCarthy's astronomical photography

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Andrew McCarthy, posting on Instagram as Cosmic Background, takes amazing astronomical photographs. Pictured above a breathtakingly detailed shot of the moon constructed from 100,000 individual photographs. You can buy prints of this and other works of his at his online store.

My first lunar image of 2020 is also one of my most detailed. This is a blend of around 100k photos, which allowed me to sharpen the image and overcome some of the fuzzing caused by our turbulent atmosphere. The colors you see are real, caused by variations in the composition of the regolith. This first quarter moon also is one of the best for showing crater detail, as the long shadows long the terminator really make the details pop.

Below is a rather menacing photo of the sun looming behing Mercury.

View this post on Instagram

Behold, the transit of Mercury! This is little guy at around 9:45am Pacific this morning. I captured hundreds of thousands of frames of the event so I could build an animation, but didn't want to wait so long before sharing something. Mercury is about the size of our moon, so seeing it like this really puts the scale of the sun in perspective. #mercurytransit2019 #astrophotography #space #astronomy #opteam #optcorp #meadeinstruments #mercury

A post shared by Andrew McCarthy (@cosmic_background) on Nov 11, 2019 at 11:17am PST

View this post on Instagram

After I posted a picture of some star trails taken from my backyard I had a lot of positive feedback and requests for prints, but frankly I knew I could do better.

Read the rest

Capybara is excited

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

This capybara is excited, unlike all the other capybaras here. Read the rest

Gorilla, 3, gets treated for cataract (VIDEO)

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

At UC San Diego, a group of experts came together to try and preserve the eyesight of 3-year-old gorilla who lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A UCSD medical team assisted in surgery to remove a worsening cataract that had been caused by trauma.

Leslie was the patient's name, and her caretakers had noticed that her left eye was becoming cloudier.

From the UCSD announcement:

Animal care specialists at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park were concerned when they noticed cloudiness in the left eye of Leslie, a 3-year-old female western lowland gorilla. Closer inspection confirmed the lens had changed and the left eye was shifting haphazardly, prompting Leslie to favor use of her right eye.

Given Leslie’s young age and developmental stage, Safari Park veterinarians organized a team of internal and external experts, including ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists at UC San Diego Health, to perform the Park’s first-ever cataract surgery on a gorilla.

The operation took place at the Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center at the San Diego Zoo.

Cataract surgeon Chris Heichel led the team of surgeons. He said he has performed thousands of operations, but that this was his first on a gorilla.

“Fortunately, the similarities between the anatomy of human and gorilla eyes are great enough to allow us to safely navigate the procedure without complication,” Heichel said in a press release from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

“The remainder of the eye appeared to be in excellent health, indicating exceptional vision potential for the rest of Leslie’s life.” Read the rest

Students build pyramid from 27,434 toilet paper rolls (VIDEO)

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

A group of high school students in Michigan made good use of their holiday break: they built a toilet paper pyramid.

The students belong to a 20-member robotics team, and they plan to sell the (unused) toilet paper now to raise money for their technology studies.

“There was a lot of excitement when we got to the last few layers, but the final roll at the top was actually pretty anti-climactic,” teen robotics enthusiast Maxton Herst told MLive.com. “Every single roll you place, you want it to be in the correct spot. It was just kind of mind-numbing work.”

The kids got the idea from seeing a similar pyramid in a YouTube video a few years ago.

From Associated Press:

The students built the pyramid during holiday break. The robotics team began to dismantle the pyramid Monday, the first day of classes after the holidays. Rolls of the two-ply toilet paper were placed into 96-count boxes for purchase.

IMAGE: BLITZCREEK ROBOTICS.

Read the rest

"I Stayed At The Cheapest Airbnb In NYC," just $30/night

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Ryan Scribner and Jake Carlini stayed at the cheapest Airbnb in New York City. It was $30/night. Above is Ryan's video and below is Jake's documentation of the experience. The verdict: "It wasn't too bad!"

Read the rest

Zippy Stardust

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

I loved this image, posted today to promote a B3TA newsletter but originally from its photoshop thread challenging readers to create album covers for old (largely UK) TV shows. It's by christhebarker.

If you're American and Zippy Stardust is a baffling, inexplicable horror to you, be assured the same is also true of Britons. Read the rest

Visiting what may be the most remote and expensive supermarket in America

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Barrow (aka Utqiaġvik), Alaska is the northernmost city in the United States. It's so far from most civilization that the grocery prices are astronomical. For example, a bag of frozen french fries is $17, cucumbers are $4.50 each, and a carton of orange juice is $12. Read the rest

Watch an Australian firefighter save a baby kangaroo

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Millions of animals have been hurt or killed in Australia's devastating months-long fire season, but firefighter Sam Mcglone is able to save at least one of them – a baby kangaroo hiding under a log.

He wraps the nervous creature in a towel and later takes it to a vet. Read the rest

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, RIP

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the iconic Generation X memoir "Prozac Nation" (1994), died today of metastatic breast cancer. She was 52. Wurtzel was also the author of Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women (1999) and More, Now, Again (2002), about her stimulant addiction. Several years ago, she wrote in the New York Times about the BRCA genetic mutation that can result in breast cancer and her own treatment for the disease. From today's New York Times obituary:

Writing about her final illness was a natural choice for Ms. Wurtzel, who had for a quarter-century scrutinized her life in relentless detail, becoming a hero to some, especially to many women of her generation and younger, but also drawing scorn. “Prozac Nation,” her first book, published when she was 27, was unvarnished in its accounts of her student days at Harvard, her drug use, her extensive sex life and more...

The book became a cultural reference point and part of a new wave of confessional writing.

“Lizzie’s literary genius rests not just in her acres of quotable one-liners,” (Wurtzel's lifelong friend, author David) Samuels said by email, “but in her invention of what was really a new form, which has more or less replaced literary fiction — the memoir by a young person no one has ever heard of before. It was a form that Lizzie fashioned in her own image, because she always needed to be both the character and the author.”

photo: detail of Prozac Nation book cover Read the rest

Great price on a set of precision screwdrivers

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

If you like to repair your own electronics, this set of screwdrivers probably has what you need. It comes with the following drivers: Phillips (PH000, PH00, PH0, PH1), Torx (T5, T6, T7), Torx Security (T8H, T9H, T10H), Pentalobe (P2, P5, P6), Triwing 3.0, and Slot 2.5. It also comes with a number of other useful tools: spudgers, tweezers, and scissors. It comes with a pouch and Amazon is selling it for Read the rest

Interactive online tour of Antarctica's microworld from science hacker Ariel Waldman

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

BB contributor and DIY science hacker Ariel Waldman recently went on a research expedition to Antarctica to study microscopic extremophiles under the ice. She made a great video series about it and has now created a wonderful interactive tour of this hidden world called "Life Under the Ice." It's damn cool. (Get it? Get it?!) From Ariel's project description:

Typically when we think about Antarctica, we think of a place that's barren and lifeless... except for a few penguins. But Antarctica should instead be known as a polar oasis of life, host to countless creatures that are utterly fascinating. They’ve just been invisible to us – until now. Life Under the Ice enables anyone to delve into the microscopic world of Antarctica as an explorer; as if you had been shrunk down and were wading through one large petri dish of curiosities...

The collected Antarctic microbes were found living within glaciers, under the sea ice, next to frozen lakes, and in subglacial ponds. Microbes from under the sea ice were discovered in the Southern Ocean’s McMurdo Sound near McMurdo Station and the Erebus Glacier Tongue. Microbes from glaciers and frozen lakes were discovered in the McMurdo Dry Valleys at Lake Bonney and Lake Hoare.

Life Under the Ice Read the rest

Review: Aeropress Go, the best travel coffee you'll ever brew

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

I've been writing about the Aeropress coffee maker for years, an ingenious, compact, low-cost way of brewing outstanding coffee with vastly less fuss and variation than any other method. For a decade, I've kept an Aeropress in my travel bag, even adding a collapsible silicone kettle for those hotel rooms lacking even a standard coffee-maker to heat water with.

Man tries to remove Trump sign from front yard, receives electric shock

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Someone electrified a Trump/Pence sign and placed it in their yard. This video shows what happened when someone else tried to remove it.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Tesla driver who failed to close gullwing door makes a costly mistake

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

It seems like Tesla should have some kind of warning system that forces you to press an override icon if you really want to drive with the door open.

Model X oopsie from r/IdiotsInCars

Image: Reddit video screenshot Read the rest

Excellent 1990 electrical safety video for kids starring VOLTON and hallucinatory CGI

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Edison Electric Institute created this fantastic public safety video in 1990 with CGI that's been aged to perfection for today's vaporwave music videos.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Rep. Paul Gosar defends use of fake photo depicting Obama shaking hands with Iranian president

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, the GOP congressman who became famous when his six brothers and sisters appeared in campaign ads warning people not to vote for him, Tweeted a fake photo that showed Obama shaking hands with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani with the caption, "The world is a better place without these guys in power."

The world is a better place without these guys in power. pic.twitter.com/gDoXQu9vO5

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) January 6, 2020

People pointed out that the photo was a fake based on a 2011 photo of Obama and India's prime minister:

U.S. congressman sharing a fake photo. This photoshopped from Obama meeting India's prime minister. https://t.co/7UMjyPwFDQ pic.twitter.com/ckRZx3ktok

— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) January 6, 2020

Gosar pretended he knew that all along, calling everyone who called him out "dim witted":

2. The point remains to all but the dimmest: Obama coddled, appeased, nurtured and protected the worlds No. 1 sponsor of terror. The world is better without Obama as president. The world will be better off without Rouhani.

— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) January 6, 2020

People responded with their own fakes, like these:

That is photoshopped. Just like this one. pic.twitter.com/g6O2KUW0Ml

— Mo Latno Bill Phelan (@MoBill) January 6, 2020

pic.twitter.com/hdJBLDDt4p

— Gargolito (@gargolito) January 7, 2020

And real photos, like this:

https://twitter.com/ReelDancing/status/121429982542172979

My favorite Gosar fake is the one at the top, created by our own @beschizza. Read the rest

Every instrument in Billie Jean replaced with a springy door stop

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

"just thought i would SPRING into action haha do you get it?" writes Beeble. Read the rest

Airbnb has software that searches social media to identify creeps and psychopaths

Jan 7, 2020

Description:

Airbnb has a patent on software that analyzes social media accounts of potential guests and hosts and can supposedly flag people who show signs of “neuroticism and involvement in crimes," "narcissism, Machiavellianism, or psychopathy" or "are perceived as untrustworthy."

From Evening Standard:

It uses artificial intelligence to mark down those found to be “associated” with fake social network profiles, or those who have given any false details. The patent also suggests users are scored poorly if keywords, images or video associated with them are involved with drugs or alcohol, hate websites or organisations, or sex work.

It adds that people “involved in pornography” or who have “authored online content with negative language” will be marked down.

An Airbnb spokesperson told Business Insider that it is not using all the screening features listed in the patent.

Photo by BROTE studio from Pexels Read the rest

Genius billboard advertising the new Dracula TV series

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

In this brilliant billboard for the new Dracula TV series, the 3D stakes create an ominous shadow. (And yes, there's an electric light in case the sun doesn't cooperate.)

A fun find on the Dracula Art Department WhatsApp group. Bravo, marketing team..! 🦇 pic.twitter.com/sHUSJDodVI

— Richard🦇Wells (@Slippery_Jack) December 29, 2019 Read the rest

Penis fish, Simon Cowell’s missing boobs, and Hillary Clinton’s gay flings, in this week’s dubious tabloids

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

The new decade has brought some remarkable changes to the enlightened, kinder and gentler tabloids.

Jazz great Jack Sheldon, the voice of Schoolhouse Rock!, RIP

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, singer of the Schoolhouse Rock! classics "I'm Just a Bill" and "Conjunction Junction," has died at age 88. With roots in the 1950s West Coast and bebop jazz scene, Sheldon became the longtime musical director of the Merv Griffin Show. In 1973, he became an ongoing contributor to Schoolhouse Rock!, voicing many of the series' most popular tunes.

(CNN)

image: "Jack Sheldon at Palo Alto CA Jazz Festival September 26, 1987" by Brian McMillen (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

AI generates old-fashioned zoological illustrations of beetles

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

These beetles do not exist: Confusing Coleopterists is an AI trained on illustrations from zoological textbooks. The extreme formality of this art genre, and its placement within the public domain, makes it uniquely apt to the medium of generative adversarial networks: "Results were interesting and mesmerising."

I set up a machine at PaperSpace with 1 GPU (According to NVIDIA’s repository, running StyleGan on 256px images takes over 14 days with 1 Tesla GPU) 😅

I trained it with 128px images and ran it for 3 days, costing €125.

Results were nice! but tiny. ... I loaded the beetle dataset and trained it at full 1024px, [on top of the FlickrHD model] and after 3000 steps the results were very nice.

No-one below Ph.D. level should ever trust an illustration of a beetle again! Read the rest

This one cable can power your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch simultaneously

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

If you've got more than one Apple device, chances are your nightstand is a cluttered mess of charging cables; and if you take them out with you on the daily, your bag probably also has a tangled mass of chargers for your iPhone, AirPods, Apple Watch and so on.

It's time to de-clutter your charging setup, and this 3-in-1 Apple Watch, AirPods & iPhone Charger is here to help.

Find a plug or USB and you've got everything covered with this one. It's easily portable and splits the signal from one charging source into three Lightning cables. Voila! Instant juice.

Even better, it's got short circuit protection and regulates the signal so that your gadgets don't get overheated or overpowered.

The 3-in-1 Apple Watch, AirPods & iPhone Charger is now priced at more than 55% off the MSRP. Read the rest

Watch all six Star Wars films simultaneously

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Never tell me the odds of avoiding a DMCA takedown. Read the rest

Own this massive Millennium Falcon bouncy house, or not

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Nearly ten grand. That's what it will cost to get the STAR WARS Millennium Falcon Hyperspace Jump Experience bouncy house into your life. Magic Jump, the company behind this 1,100 pound officially-licensed monstrosity, also offers financing for $237.38/month. Or you can find an entertainment company with one in their inflatable jumper repertoire to bring you this:

Passengers will encounter a Chewbacca inflatable as they enter and an R2D2 inflatable replica and C-3PO graphic as they jump their way around the ship. Passengers will feel the rush as they imagine piloting the Millennium Falcon like Han Solo and Chewbacca as they explore the cockpit area; pretend to operate the cockpit's master control panel with its gears, switches, and buttons; and eject themselves down a small slide. In the main cabin, they'll come across inflatable pop-up obstacles such as a bunk, storage container, and holo-map where they can see a holographic-like rendering of the Death Star. Passengers can step up to the laser cannon turret where they can pretend to defend against Imperial forces, and they can also pretend to play dejarik at the hologame table. The pièce de ré·sis·tance is the climber/slide in the center of the ship with ceiling hatch graphic showing explosive battle with a Star Destroyer and TIE fighters.

(Geekologie)

images via Magic Jump Read the rest

What is the best name to ask Siri to call you?

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

If you were hoping that 2020 would mean less superficially amusing yet disquieting videos from me, I'm afraid you're on the wrong timeline. Happy New Year! Read the rest

Supercut of Barbara Walters saying, "This is 2020"

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

For over 20 years, Barbara Walters anchored ABC's newsmagazine 20/20. So, there was PLENTY of material to make this supercut of her saying, "This is 20/20." Or, as the folks behind the New Year's Eve countdown site, www.thisis2020.com, want you to think, "This is 2020."

This all led to this... Anderson Cooper losing it on air at the Times Square ball drop:

Happy New Year, Happy Mutants!

View this post on Instagram

The most shareable moment of 2019 happened in the 90s #thisis2020 #BarbaraWalters #barbarawalters2020 #2020

A post shared by This Is 2020 (@thisistwennytwenny) on Nov 19, 2019 at 9:30am PST

screenshot via This is 2020 Read the rest

Anne Dagg, pioneering giraffe biologist and feminist critic of "evolutionary psychology" receives the Order of Canada

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Anne Innis Dagg was the first female biologist to study giraffes; while all the men who preceded her had observed firsthand that male giraffes are super queer (their primary form of play is a game dubbed "penis fencing," which is exactly what it sounds like), only Dagg was willing to write it down and publish it.

Dagg's work on giraffes -- several of the seminal books on the animals -- was initially mocked or ignored, partly because of her pioneering approach of living among the animals (as opposed to observing them at a distance) offended the establishment; partly because of her gender.

Though Dagg earned a PhD and taught for decades, she was denied tenure. She continued to produce challenging, brave, brilliant work at the intersection of biology and gender politics, ranging over both scholarly and popular works. In particular, she specialized in pointing out the lack of rigor in her male colleagues' work when discussing sex and gender among animals, and how that spilled over into the way the field was organized, and gender bias within research institutions and in research publishing.

Her 2004 book, Love of Shopping is Not a Gene, is an absolute must-read book on the subject, addressing the total absence of rigor and falsifiability in hypotheses from male biologists to explain human gender and power roles with reference to animal behavior and/or the imaginary lives of early hominids -- howlers like "Rape is genetic" or "Black people are genetically destined to have lower IQ scores than white people." Read the rest

Beautiful NASA satellite image of the mysterious giant man of South Australia

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

NASA Earth Observatory's Lauren Dauphin captured this lovely portrait of the Marree Man, a 2.2 mile (3.5 kilometer) tall illustration of a person etched into a South Australian plateau, southeast of Lake Eyre. A pilot first spotted Marree Man in 1998 but to this day nobody knows for sure who created the geoglyph.

While an Alice Springs artist reportedly confessed on his deathbed that he is the artist behind the geoglyph, there are other clues suggesting an American origin. Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith has offered a $5000 reward to anyone who can definitively solve the mystery of the Marree Man.

From NASA:

In August 2016, local business owners, concerned about the loss of what had become a tourist draw, decided to restore the fading geoglyph. With accurate GPS coordinates for the original in hand, they used a construction grader to redraw Marree Man over a period of five days.

The restoration team thinks the updated geoglyph will last longer than the original because they created wind grooves, designed to trap water and encourage the growth of vegetation. Over time, they hope vegetation will turn the lines green. The OLI acquired this image of the feature on June 22, 2019.

Read the rest

Mystery drone squadrons flying over Colorado and Nebraska

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

For the last couple weeks, residents of Colorado and Nebraska have reported squadrons of large drones flying overhead. The drones are large, with a reported 6-foot wingspan, and their operators and purpose remain a mystery. The Federal Aviation Administration has now opened an investigation into the matter. From the New York Times:

Some have suggested they might be part of a simple mapping operation, or a land survey conducted by an oil and gas company — but why would such flights run at night?...

The drone sightings started in northeast Colorado around mid-December and have only grown more widespread since then. Almost all the sightings have occurred between sunset and about 10 p.m., though (Palisade, Nebraska resident Missy) Blackman said she had seen them out later one night in Nebraska and, for the first time on Wednesday, during daylight hours. She said she had looked at them through binoculars and did not see any markings, just plain silver and white coloring.

Across the state line in Colorado, Captain Yowell tried to photograph the drones on Tuesday night with the camera he uses to document crime scenes, but came away without a clear image. He estimated that up to 30 drones were flying each night, though not all in the same place...

Sheriff Todd Combs of Yuma County, Colo., said in a Facebook post Tuesday that the drones appeared to be staying at least 150 feet from buildings or people, based on the footage he has seen.

“There are many theories about what is going on, but at this point, that’s all they are,” he said.

Read the rest

Public Domain Game Jam: what games can you design with the bounty of 1924?

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Randy Lubin (previously) writes, "New work is entering the public domain and Mike Masnick and I are hosting a game jam to celebrate. Designers have all of January to design analog and digital games about, inspired by, or remixing works from 1924. We have amazing judges, great prizes, and are excited to see what you make!"

This jam is open to both digital and analog games – choose the medium that excites you!

For digital games, we’ll only be judging games that are playable in the browser. This includes interactive fiction using frameworks like Twine. You can submit desktop or mobile games but we won’t consider them for prizes.

For analog games, we’re looking for tabletop RPGs, larps, board games, and everything in between. We encourage you to design something short and quickly playable. Our judges are only committed to reading the first four pages of your submission. Golden Cobra and Game Chef contain great examples of brief, compelling games.

Don’t worry about making a highly polished game! We’re more interested in your ideas and how you use the public domain.

Gaming Like It's 1924 [Randy Lubun/Itch.io] Read the rest

Outwit applicant trackers with this smart résumé creator

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Brush up on those interview skills all you like, but all the charm in the world won't help you past the primary obstacle for modern job seekers: Applicant tracking systems. These bots comb online applications before a human ever sees them, searching for keywords that would indicate particular titles or skills.

That's where Rezi Résumé Software comes in handy.

It's a fine line: You don't want your resume to read like an SEO checklist, but you do want it to be flagged by the right companies. Rezi allows you to do this by providing simple forms for your job experience, skills, education and other essentials. It then organizes them in a way that puts your best traits front and center, letting you customize it at every step so you can still maintain your unique voice. The results will bump up your score on ATS algorithms while still providing a compelling "best foot forward" once that manager gets their first look.

A lifetime subscription to Rezi is now available for a full 94% off the retail price. Read the rest

Man keeps bones of his amputated arm on display

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

As a teenager, Mark Holmgren of Edmonton, Canada lost all use of his arm after a motorcycle accident. Last year, he decided to have the nonfunctional arm amputated. But he also had a curious request of his physicians: Holmgren wanted to keep the lost limb.

“I carried it out of the hospital in a garbage bag,” Holmgren told CTV News Edmonton. “I actually kept it in my freezer for about a month.”

Apparently it wasn't easy to find a taxidermist willing to remove the flesh and prepare the bones for display.

“A couple of them told me no, like right away. There was no way that they were going to touch human body parts.”

Eventually, he found a taxidermy shop willing to do the job.

“I’m just going to keep it probably behind the sink in the kitchen," Holmgren says. "I’m happy I did it. It’s just not for everybody.”

More: "This Edmonton man had his arm amputated. Then he kept the bones." (CTV News Edmonton)

Read the rest

Pope delivers a literal slap on the wrist, and he's sorry

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Pope Francis apologized for slapping the hand of a woman who wouldn't let go of the pontiff's paw outside the Vatican's Nativity scene last night.

“Many times we lose our patience,” the Pope said. “I do, too, and I’m sorry for yesterday’s bad example.”

(New York Times) Read the rest

Elementary school apologizes after children of color were asked by peers to role-play as slaves for lesson

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

The principal of Lafayette Elementary School in Washington DC has apologized after a fifth grade lesson on the Civil War and Reconstruction had some children of color role-playing "a person of color drinking from a segregated water fountain and an enslaved person." From CNN:

During classroom circles and small group discussions, (principal Carrie) Broquard said, some students said they were uncomfortable with the roles their peers had asked them to play. Others, she said, had been unsure how to respond or stand up for their peers who were uncomfortable.

"We deeply regret that we did not foresee this as a potential challenge in role playing so we could set appropriate parameters to protect students," the fifth grade team said...

Broquard outlined a number of steps the school is taking in response to the lesson.

In her letter, she said students who were directly affected have been meeting with the school's social emotional learning team and members of the administration to "process and talk through" the incident. The social emotional learning team and a racial equity committee at the school will work to ensure all assignments are "culturally sensitive and appropriate," she wrote.

The staff will participate in a full day of training on equity and race in January, and the school plans to create a diversity and inclusion committee, the letter stated.

Read the rest

Woody Guthrie's 1943 New Year's Resolutions are a powerful reminder to "Keep the hope machine running."

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

I'd seen this before, but I was reminded of it when I saw Billy Bragg share a webcomic version of it on Facebook. But here are Woody Guthrie's New Year's resolutions from 1943. While they were written in the throes of World War II, I think we'd all do well by following their example every day and every year, but especially right now.

1. Work more and better 2. Work by a schedule 3. Wash teeth if any 4. Shave 5. Take bath 6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk 7. Drink very scant if any 8. Write a song a day 9. Wear clean clothes — look good 10. Shine shoes 11. Change socks 12. Change bed cloths often 13. Read lots good books 14. Listen to radio a lot 15. Learn people better 16. Keep rancho clean 17. Dont get lonesome 18. Stay glad 19. Keep hoping machine running 20. Dream good 21. Bank all extra money 22. Save dough 23. Have company but dont waste time 24. Send Mary and kids money 25. Play and sing good 26. Dance better 27. Help win war — beat fascism 28. Love mama 29. Love papa 30. Love Pete 31. Love everybody 32. Make up your mind 33. Wake up and fight

Dance better. Beat fascism. Keep the hope machine running. I think that pretty much covers everything.

Woody Guthrie’s Doodle-Filled List of 33 New Year’s Resolutions From 1943 Read the rest

Plastic cup enables you to drink without obstructing your vision

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

Creative agency Wieden+Kennedy NY developed this wide-mouth cup that enables NASCAR fans to take a sip without taking their eyes off the racetrack. I'd say that The Cup -- a 2009 promotional item for NASCAR and ESPN -- was quite an improvement over beer guzzler helmets worn by dedicated sports fans in prior decades.

(Jalopnik)

The Cup. In 2009 the creatives at @wknyc produced this wonderful at track giveaway for client @espn. Designed with the fans in mind, this drinking apparatus allowed you to enjoy any tasty beverage without missing the action on the track. #nascar pic.twitter.com/64sb2heoWp

— I Want to Believe Nascar (@IWTBNASCAR) December 29, 2019 Read the rest

Watch this truck fall through an icy lake and completely vanish

Jan 2, 2020

Description:

A gentleman attempted to drive his pickup truck across the iced over Big Shag Lake in Marquette County, Michigan. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. From the Mining Journal:

Crossroads Truck Repair and the (Michigan Department of Natural Resources) assessed the scene and advised the driver that they have 72 hours from when the incident occurred to pay to have their vehicle removed from the lake...

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will evaluate the lake after the vehicle’s removal for any fluid cleanup.

Read the rest

Antiques Roadshow pro accidentally tastes urine dating back to the 1840s

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Thinking it was a really old bottle of alcohol, Antiques Roadshow expert Andy McConnell took a tiny drink of some brown mystery liquid in a 2016 episode. Repulsed by the taste, the glass expert said, "I think it's port - port or red wine... or it's full of rusty old nails and that's rust." In a new episode, the show's host, Fiona Bruce, has now revealed that he was partially right. There was rust, as well as urine, a single human hair, and a couple other things.

Independent:

"Inside were these brass pins, all of these dating from the late 1840s, and the liquid – urine, a tiny pit of alcohol and one human hair," explained Bruce.

"And a mysterious little creature called an ostracod, which is like a little cockle. So [this] was not a bottle of port or wine, but a witches bottle.

"So buried in the threshold of the house as a talisman against witchcraft, against curses, against misfortune coming into the home."

McConnell replied: "Yummy. Such good news."

screenshot via News 247 Live Read the rest

Using Stylegan to age everyone in 1985's hit video "Cry"

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Shardcore (previously) writes, "I took Godley & Creme's seminal 1985 video and sent it through a StyleGAN network."

Every time I see a GAN face morph, it makes me think of the Godley & Creme video, so I decided to see what would happen if the two met.

I split the Cry video into its constituent frames and asked the network to try and produce a portrait of each one.

I then asked it to produce a slightly older version of the same face. Often this seems to involve adding a pair of glasses.

Each frame of the video is a portrait ‘painted’ by the network. The output influenced by all that it has experienced before.

Cry, but everyone’s a bit older [Shardcore] Read the rest

Thousands of Zapatista women gather in the mountains of Mexico

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

There was an inspiring sight for indigenous and women's rights in the mountains of Chiapas this week, as more than 3,200 women from 49 countries reportedly gathered together for the second annual International Gathering of Women Who Struggle.

Words from the #Zapatista Women at the Opening of the Second International Gathering of Women Who Struggle - #ezln #Chiapas #feminism #antireport - Read here: https://t.co/9MYftJy78K pic.twitter.com/6v7YyLUT89

— Enough 14 (@enough14) December 31, 2019

From the opening statement at the event:

As the Zapatistas that we are, we know that they will give us many examples of women who have advanced, triumphed, won prizes and high salaries—who have been successful, as they put it. We respond by talking about the women whom have been raped, disappeared, murdered. We point out that the rights they talk about above are won by a precious few women above. And we respond, we explain, we shout that what is lacking is the most basic and most important of rights for all women: the right to live. We’ve said it many times, compañera and sister, but we’ll repeat it again now:

Nobody is going to grant us our right to live and all the other rights we need and deserve. No man—good, bad, normal, or whatever—is going to grant these to us.

The capitalist system is not going to give them to us, regardless of the laws it passes and the promises it makes.

We will have to win our right to live, as well as all our other rights, always and everywhere.

Read the rest

God-Man Scorned!

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH Billy Billings learns that his pal God-Man is a jealous God-Man.

Costco-themed pajamas

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Cartoonist Mimi Pond recently discovered that her local Costco sells Costco-themed pajamas for women!

Look closely at the pattern. It depicts, using cute illustrations, their famous sample food carts, and customers hauling oversized products like a pizza slice, bottle of wine, jar of peanut butter pretzels, steak, and more. Plus, tires and big-screen TVs! I don't even have a Costco membership but I want a pair of these.

Available online at Costco for $23 (includes matching socks). Read the rest

A bunch of rookie cops have recently been fired for doing bad things. Let's think about that for a moment.

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Tales of piss-headed police officers dominated the news in the week before New Years (at least, in my social circles, if we discount everything related to Star Wars). In West Virginia, the governor has finally recommended the firing of the full Hitler Heil-ing cadet class. In Kansas, another cop was (allegedly) terminated after writing "Fucking Pig" on his own McDonald's coffee cup and trying to blame it on the hard-working, underpaid workers whom he should be theoretically serving and protecting. (Some cops in Alabama also made a mocking "homeless quilt" that the department later apologized for, though the officers weren't actually reprimanded as far as I can tell.)

On the surface, this is largely a good thing. Although these are somewhat-minor acts in the grand scheme of police behaviors, the fact that there are actually repercussions for police misconduct already represents a sea change from the way things have been. Police departments across the country have kept secret lists of criminal crops who remain in their employ; typically, when cops are caught lying about things (even as dumb and small as a McDonald's coffee cup), the rest of their testimony is still given weight. Hell, the National Center for Women and Policing found that at least 40% of police officers self-reported domestic violence in the home … and still keep their jobs.

But these guys in West Virginia and Kansas? They might actually lose their jobs over a couple of pictures.

The public outrage towards unfair and overly aggressive policing has noticeably swelled alongside the raise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and particularly in the aftermath of that obscene military occupation in Ferguson. Read the rest

VICTORY! New Free File rules ban tax-prep firms from hiding their offerings, allow IRS to compete with them (a love-letter to Propublica)

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Six months ago, Propublica began beating the drum about "Free File," a bizarre, corrupt arrangement between the IRS and the country's largest tax-prep firms that ended up costing the poorest people in America millions and millions of dollars, every single year.

The scam is one of those baroque, ultimately boring and complex stories that generally dies in the public imagination despite its urgency, because "boring and urgent" is the place where the worst people can do the worst things with the least consequences.

With that warning, here's a short summary: in most wealthy countries, the tax authority fills out your tax return for you, using the information your employer already has to file every time it pays your wages. If all the numbers look right to you, you just sign the bottom of the form and send it back, without paying a tax preparer. If, on the other hand, you want to claim extra deductions, or if something complicated is going on with your finances, you can throw away that free tax return and fill in a form from scratch, either on your own or with the help of a professional.

When Americans asked to have the same courtesy extended to them -- a move that would save the vast majority of Americans millions and millions of dollars they were currently paying to the likes of HR Block and Intuit/Turbotax, every single year of their entire working lives -- the tax-prep industry mobilized to kill the proposal. The industry (which is highly concentrated and dominated by a small handful of firms whose top execs have mostly done time in all their competitors' board rooms, making them into essentially one giant company whose different divisions have different shareholders) lobbied the IRS very hard, and won a resounding victory. Read the rest

ProjectDue handles your business' busywork so you can get more done

Jan 1, 2020

Description:

Details are the bane of any manager. It's tough to innovate when you've got invoices to approve, gripes to address and countless fires to put out on any number of projects.

Here is where technology can actually help you, because businesses run better when they integrate all their procedures, inflow and outflow under one system. ProjectDue.co aims to be just that system, and it's got the functionality to do it.

This business suite has all the nuts-and-bolts essentials that let you keep track of employees and clients, but it also integrates that info in a way that allows you to work dynamically. You can track progress with any lead on the fly and communicate their needs to the right people on you team.

Invoices are approved with the click of a button, inventory gets tracked at a glance, and projects can be managed much more efficiently with all the relevant info at your fingertips.

A lifetime subscription to ProjectDue.co is already more than 95% off, but you can take an extra 20% off that final cost with the discount code 20SAVE20. Read the rest

Hack your cooking in 2020 with an air fryer. These 6 are on sale today

Dec 31, 2019

Description:

You may have heard of air fryers, but they're a lot more versatile than the name implies. Healthier (and quicker!) french fries are just the tip of the iceberg with these innovative cookers, and here are six of our favorites. As if they needed any additional highlighting, you can save an extra 20% off the final price on any of them by using the coupon code 20SAVE20.

GoWISE USA® 12.7QT Electric Air Fryer Toaster Oven

This premiere unit in the GoWISE line lets you take full advantage of the Rapid Air Circulation tech that cooks food fast with minimal amounts of oil. With a 12.7 quart capacity, you can roast and fry everything up to a full chicken while the 15 presets make it easy to make a variety of meals on the fly.

MSRP: $159.99

Sale Price: $149.99

Price after 20SAVE20 coupon: $119.99

GoWISE USA® 11-in-1 Programmable 12.7QT Electric Air Fryer Toaster Oven

Here's another high-capacity model from GoWISE USA that's designed to save space. There are three removable racks that allow you to make multiple dishes at the same time, and a recipe book that shows you how to refine them.

MSRP: $180.00

Sale Price: $159.00

Price after 20SAVE20 coupon: $127.20

GoWISE USA® 8-in-1 Programmable 4.6QT Stainless Electric Air Fryer

This smaller air fryer lets you cook a wide array of meals (even desserts) in a PFOA-free stainless steel pan. There's even a crisper tray that allows for more efficient toasting, frying or warming up.

MSRP: $149.00

Sale Price: $89.99 Read the rest

Wanda Diaz Merced is a blind astronomer who hears the science of the stars

Dec 31, 2019

Description:

Wanda Diaz Merced is an astronomer at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Office for Astronomy Outreach in Mitaka, Japan. Diaz Merced is blind and uses a technique to transform data from astronomical surveys into sounds for analysis. Over at Nature, Elizabeth Gibney interviewed Merced about how "converting astronomical data into sound could bring discoveries that conventional techniques miss." From Nature:

How did you begin your work with sonification?

Sonification has been around for a long time. In 1933, for example, US physicist Karl Jansky reported detecting the first radio waves from space, as an audible hiss in his antenna. But at some point, visualization came to dominate the way we interpret astrophysical data. When I was an intern at NASA in 2005, my mentor, Robert Candey, wanted me to create a prototype data analysis tool that would familiarize blind people with space-physics data. So we developed software that could map astronomical data into sound — its pitch, rhythm and volume. Then, in my 2013 PhD dissertation at the University of Glasgow, UK, I proved that it is useful....

Can you describe a real-world example?

There are many. Sonification can help us to study the habitability of an exoplanet, by understanding how much high-energy cosmic and solar rays interact with its magnetic field or atmosphere. Such interactions cause fluctuations of electromagnetic emission from that star system that vary in a way that relates to frequency . BBut because astronomers usually separate out different frequency components into many graphs, this is easy to miss.

Read the rest

This durable cork-handled umbrella has style to spare

Dec 28, 2019

Description:

Sooner or later, everybody needs an umbrella. It's kind of the great equalizer that way.

That does not, however, mean they all have to look the same. It's pretty rare to find one that matches any outfit without looking bland, much less does its job well, but Certain Standard's line of umbrellas are definitely ones you'll want to keep.

Their Gramercy model is named for the effortlessly chic New York City 'hood, and it's easy to see why. The cork handle is as easy to grip as it is elegant, and the classic black hue and white accent let you play it cool in any weather.

And we mean that literally: its 41" diameter canopy offers ample protection on stormy days, but it's also treated with 40 UPF UV protection for when there's too much sun around. The fiberglass composite frame is fitted onto an anodized aluminum steel shaft that can stand up to plenty of surprise gusts.

The Certain Standard Gramercy Umbrella is now on sale for 10% off the original retail price of $65. Read the rest

North Carolina couple call cops on midnight intruder that turns out to be their robot vacuum

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

[The moral of this story is buy a Roomba, they last longer and have better software.]

A man and a woman in Forsyth County, North Carolina, called for help just after midnight when they awoke to loud noises and crashing downstairs, and hid in their closet to dial 911.

Deputies searched the home and found... a Eufy robotic vacuum running amok. As robot vacuums sometimes do, it “had somehow turned itself on, got stuck and began banging on a wall.”

The couple says they're embarrassed about what happened but also thankful it wasn't a real intruder.

"It definitely is better safe than sorry because having heard what we did, I still would have called the police and because you just never know," said Thomas Milam, the homeowner.

The couple just bought the Eufy robotic vacuum three days ago and even named it Harry.

Forsyth County couple mistakes robotic vacuum for home intruder [myfox8.com via AP] Read the rest

Get on the fast track to an IT career in 2020 with the help of this training

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Having an IT career means dealing with constant change. There are updates, new security threats and, on occasion, entirely new web platforms to deal with as companies adapt to new demands.

That's why the best asset on an IT resume is diversity, and that's why the Complete 2020 IT Certification Exam Prep Mega Bundle covers a wide range of cloud platforms.

The bundle combines nine courses on four different systems, all taught by some of the most experienced minds in the field. There's four classes alone on Microsoft Azure, allowing you to set up a cloud storage solution for any company, keep it up to date and deal with any structural changes that need to be made along the way.

The courses on Cisco cover everything from simple networking fixes to the protocols you'll need to know for their new CCNA R/S 200-125 exam. A tutorial on CompTIA teaches their security structure back to front. And of course, you'll train in AWS as a Certified Solutions Architect.

The entire bundle is now 97% off the cost of the individual courses at $39. Read the rest

Rest in Power, Allee Willis — Queen of Kitsch

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Allee Willis with psychedelic Fluffernutters

It's never fun to report that someone in our tribe has passed. That's especially true when that person is also someone you know and love.

Allee Willis, Happy Mutant Extraordinaire, died just after 6 p.m. on December 24 of cardiac arrest. She was 72.

My friend Heather was in tears when she phoned me to tell me the news. It was 10:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve. She had just read about Allee's sudden and unexpected death in Variety. We were both shocked and deeply saddened. We pondered together on the call, "How is it possible that she's gone?"

I first met Allee back in the February of 2011. Friends of mine here in Alameda, Jessica and Mel, introduced me to her. "You HAVE to meet her!" they insisted. At that time, a TV show called Clean House was filming the decluttering and redecorating of their home. Their excess stuff was soon to be sold in a televised public sale. Since they are well known for their massive collection of pop culture kitsch and, being the Queen of Kitsch, Allee was compelled to drive up for the sale. And because their house was out of commission for the show's filming, I offered up mine to host a party in Allee's honor, not entirely sure what I was getting myself into or, honestly, grasping the full understanding of who she was. But I was game. I invited a group of local friends, all self-proclaimed kitsch lovers. Read the rest

Dave Riley, bassist for Big Black, RIP

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Dave Riley, bassist for the influential 1980s Chicago noise-punk band Big Black, has died. He was 59. According to his partner Rachel Brown, he had throat cancer. What a fucking great player, he was. And what a fucking great band. From Rolling Stone:

“Dave was a fantastic musician and a critical part of the Chicago music scene,” (Big Black guitarist Steve) Albini tells Rolling Stone. “He bridged the gap between raw enthusiasm and outstanding musicianship better than anybody else in our peer group and I always admired him for it...”

“When I think about Dave, I think of him onstage, sweating, rolling on his heels, his bass making a rhythmic shrapnel cloud, the densest object in a very heavy construction," Albini wrote in his statement. “Then I think of him after the show, still sweaty but relaxed, easy with his humor and in possession of an impeccably sharp wit, comfortable with himself, comfortable being the hinge-pin of the evening. I miss playing with Dave, and I miss hanging out with him. He was a handful, but like most people we describe that way, he was worth it. Rest easy.”

Below, Big Black (Riley on right):

Read the rest

Patent for a toy turtle operated by houseflies

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

In 1926, Oscar Williams of San Diego, California was granted a patent on a toy turtle operated by houseflies buzzing around inside. From patent number US1591905A, "Artificial Animal":

My invention relates to artificial animals with movable limbs and members operated by natural animals or insects and the objects of my invention are: First, to provide an animal of this class which in appearance resembles a natural animal and in which the limbs or members are movable substantially as those of the natural animal; second, to provide an animal of this class in which the limbs and members are pivotally, reliably and reciprocally mounted in the body thereof to obtain a variety of motion of said limbs and members; third, to provide an animal of this class in which the interior of the body portion or the parts containing movable members are made hollow so as to provide ample space for the movement and operation of the natural animals or insects placed within said hollow portion; fourth, to provide an animal of this class in which means are provided to keep the natural animal or insect in the interior thereof in motion and thus provide continuous movement of the said limbs or members; fifth, to provide an animal of this class with a convenient and novel means of entrance and exit of said natural animals or insects; sixth, to provide an animal of this class which is .novelly constructed and seventh, to provide an animal of this class which is very simple and economical of construction, durable, and which will not readily deteriorate or get out of order.

Read the rest

Evidence that a car isn't a pedestrian and probably shouldn't use the pedestrian lane

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Yesterday in New York, police spent hours attempting to remove this Honda from the pedestrian lane of the Pulaski Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Queens. Apparently, it was a stolen car and the driver likely escaped through a window.

(ABC7NY) Read the rest

Love, loss, and Carrie Fisher’s lamp

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

I can only imagine what the hospice nurse must have been thinking.



It was an early October evening in 2017, and I was camped in the gigantic, overstuffed leather recliner that I had delivered the previous week.

One of the problems with buying furniture online is you don't truly get a sense of the dimensions in relation to your space. I don't know what made me think ordering a piece of furniture this way was a good idea.


So there I was, in the gigantic chair that had only fit in the room because we had replaced my mother's king-size bed with a hospital bed that weekend. I had my laptop and iPad balanced precariously on my lap and frantically refreshed both, waiting for Lot Number 1004 at the Profiles in History auction in Carlsbad, California, to open for bidding.

The item I was targeting was described as follows:

1004. Fruit basket lamp. Vintage table lamp consisting of metal basket with tinted glass plums and grape bunches. Measures 11 x 15 x 10 in. Internal lighting element tested and working. In vintage very good condition. $100 - $200



My mother watched me as the nurse worked to change her clothes and get her into a nightgown. In 2013, my mother had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme – the deadliest form of brain cancer. At the time of her diagnosis, she had been given 14 months to live. Linda, however, had other plans. Thanks to a genetic marker in her tumor that responded well to chemotherapy, along with sheer stubbornness, she turned that 14 months into almost 48. Read the rest

Fantastic Homer Simpson embroidery

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Embroidery master Rayna created this exquisite hand embroidery of Homer Simpson disappearing into the bushes. This follows on her Lisa Simpson "true crime" embroidery and other fine Simpsons stitchery available at her Etsy shop HermitGirlCreations.

(via Kottke) Read the rest

Watch the new Star Wars film "Kenobi"

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Jason Satterlund directed this short film, "Kenobi." Not canon.

Read the rest

One of the world's largest private equity firms just bought one of the world's largest library ebook companies

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

KKR is one of the largest private equity funds in the world. Overdrive is one of the largest e-lending suppliers to the world's libraries, supplying 43,000 libraries in 75 countries.

Now, KKR owns Overdrive, having purchased it for an undisclosed sum. Private equity firms' business model is to buy profitable, productive companies, load them up with debt (paying themselves out of the money that was borrowed), cut costs by slashing wages and degrading the quality of their products and services, then allowing the company to go bust, stiffing the creditors, workers, and suppliers (that is, libraries, publishers and writers).

Gary Price notes, "Worth noting. In 2018, KKR acquired RBMedia/RBDigital and Audiobooks.com providers of audiobooks and other materials to libraries and consumers."

Report: Global Investment Firm KKR to Acquire Overdrive For an Undisclosed Amount [Gary Price/Infodocket] Read the rest

Enjoy 101 different versions of "Fairytale of New York"

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

"Fairytale of New York" is, unequivocally, the best Christmas song. Because it's actually a bleak story about the false veneer of holiday spirit as a metaphor for the soul-crushing deceptions of the so-called "American Dream" that leads people to hatred, drug abuse, and worse … and still returns for one more rousing chorus.

In short, it's perfect. So perfect that you may just want to listen to it over and over and over again. Which is why I put together this Spotify playlist consisting of 99 covers of the song, plus the original version by the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl.

And then — just because 100 wasn't round enough for me — I recorded this quick cover of the song myself, using an Irish Gaelic translation by Fred McCluskey and Ger Maher (which cleverly skirts around that bit of ugly language in the third verse, which makes sense in the context of the fictional story but absolutely shatters any Christmas delusions).

Just, um, don't bother looking up Shane MacGowan's recent birthday performance of the song from the Late Late Show, 'cause it's pretty painful to watch, and not just because of him. Oof.

Image by peelandstick/Flickr Read the rest

Youtube declares John Lennon's classic "Happy Xmas" to be "offensive content"

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Robbo sez, "As is my wont, I post on social media at this time of year John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) official YouTube video. It is an anthem for peace and the end of war. This year it has been labelled as "inappropriate content" and requires viewers to sign in to confirm they are 18 years or older. Yes, there are images of war and suffering within the video - but for cryin' out fuckin' loud, YouTube, it's something that deserves and should be seen and heard by everyone, all the damned time - such dumb ass fuckery is going to be the end of our so-called civilization." Read the rest

Here's a cozy (and functional) home for all your Apple gear

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Apple is making it tough not to stock up on new smartphones and peripherals lately, but all that extra gear can lead to something we like to call "iSprawl." All that stuff is useful, but only if you don't have to hunt for your AirPods, phone, chargers and Apple Watch in four different places before every trip outside.

The BentoStack has been solving that problem in elegant fashion for a while now with a storage bin that packs each component neatly into a Bento-inspired case, complete with international wall plug converters builtin.

They've just recently introduced an upgrade to the case that takes the logical next step in efficiency. The BentoStack Charge has a top cover that serves as a 5,000 mAh power bank and wireless charger for Qi-enabled devices.

Both versions stack neatly together with a silicone band to secure the whole thing. Whether you're hitting the road long-term or just going to a short work session, it's the solution that ensures your devices stay protected and easy to access.

Both cases are on deep discount now: The original BentoStack at 14% off and the BentoStack Charge at 19% off the retail price. Read the rest

Royal brawl in palace, Brad & Jen’s reunion, and 2020 predictions in this week’s dubious tabloids

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

T’is the season when the tabloids look into the future to forecast what lies ahead for a scandal-filled 2020 - and when are they ever wrong?

Baylor University used puppets to announce its newly signed football players

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

National signing day is when high school athletes sign letters of intent to play for specific university. It's a big enough deal for college football fans that ESPN was updating it class rankings every hour. (Apparently Clemson did well, and USC did poorly.)

Each school wants to get as much attention as possible. This year, Baylor announced each player with two tweets, one a traditional highlight reel, and another featuring puppets:

Shut-down corner ❌@DAETHEREAPER#20Below pic.twitter.com/VD0ZE8Kogk

— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) December 18, 2019

Nimble and athletically gifted. @Gavinb_89#20Below pic.twitter.com/pRu8uBreYh

— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) December 18, 2019

All-purpose back 🐻@TayeMcwilliams#20Below pic.twitter.com/TgicexOsyQ

— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) December 18, 2019

Read the rest

Building a movement? NationBuilder has all the right tools for you

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

Whether you're managing a political campaign or building a client base, there comes a time when you stop seeing people and start seeing numbers.

This doesn't happen suddenly. You shake hands, make calls, and build relationships. And then those relationships disappear into a database of donors or customers as your organization grows. People get brought in to manage those databases, and those databases fragment off into countless little spreadsheets.

That's how the people that were once your supporters end up with faceless emails, impersonal calls, and tedious forms that ask for information you already have. And that's how they stop becoming your supporters.

That's why services like the one that NationBuilder is providing are more crucial than ever. They allow you to manage your contacts in integrated databases that actually foster communication and allow for on the-fly-customization based on their interests and prior interactions.

In other words, it allows you to treat "your people" like people.

All of this is done on a website that you can build from the ground up in minutes with NationBuilder's ready-made templates. Plus, NationBuilder sets you up with tools to help you inspire, capture, and seamlessly track actions across your page.

NationBuilder also empowers you to maintain real, meaningful connections with your supporters by way of personalized email and text to supporters based on their interests and history with you.

They're currently doing a 14-day free trial of NationBuilder, but Boing Boing readers can get a free month after that trial ends. If you're doing any kind of community engagement, it's definitely worth a look. Read the rest

Man robs bank and tosses cash into the air shouting "Merry Christmas"

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

On Tuesday, Colorado Springs police arrested David Wayne Oliver, 65, at a Starbucks for allegedly robbing a nearby bank. After departing the bank with the loot, Oliver apparently started tossing the cash into the air while yelling "Merry Christmas." From Reuters:

(Witness Dion) Pascale said bystanders retrieved some of the money and returned it to the bank as Oliver walked to the Starbucks, sat down and appeared to be waiting for police to arrest him, KKTV reported.

The Denver Post quoted police as saying “thousands of dollars” remained unaccounted for, adding there was no indication Oliver used a weapon in the heist.

Read the rest

What did we get stuck in our rectums in 2019?

Dec 27, 2019

Description:

In 1994, Cynsa, a member of the pioneering online community The WELL, thrilled us with her Rectal Foreign Bodies page all about the weird things people have put in their butts as reported by medical professionals tasked with removing the items. Barry Petchesky has continued this important online endeavor with his series of posts "chronicling our country's cavity misadventures." He posted his latest list, drawing from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database of emergency room visits, over at VICE in a delightful article titled "What Did We Get Stuck in Our Rectums Last Year?." Here is a sample:

• “PATIENT STATES HE STATES SLIPPED IN THE SHOWER AND LANDED ON A METAL AIR FRESHENER CAN AND IT WENT INTO RECTUM” • FOLDING KNIFE • PLASTIC TOY, “ABOUT 6 INCHES LONG” • TOOTHPICK • MATTRESS FOAM • TWO RAZOR BLADES • COAT HANGER, “PATIENT UNSURE HOW IT GOT THERE” • COINS • LIGHT BULB APPLE SAUCE CAN • “ACCIDENTALLY GOT A DILDO LODGED IN RECTUM & CUT THE END OF THE DILDO OFF” • CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT

Still curious? Try this book by three medical doctors: "Stuck Up!: 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be" Read the rest

The Omega AXL Inkless Pen never needs refilling and writes with actual metal

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

Cities have done a lot to eliminate straws and other forms of plastic waste in recent years. Now isn't it time we start talking about all those pens and pencils we throw away?

Actually, it looks like private enterprise might solve the problem for us if the Omega AXL Inkless Pen catches on.

As the name indicates, the pen is actually inkless. In fact, there's no reservoir for a writing liquid of any kind. The entire business end of the Omega AXL is made from a special metal alloy. As you drag the pen across paper, it leaves trace amounts of the metal behind, leaving a distinct grey line.

The amount of metal is so small, the manufacturers tout that the pen will effectively never need to be replaced. That's obviously good news for the environment moving forward.

As a bonus, the whole thing is sheathed in an anodized aluminum casing, making it physically cool as well as aesthetically.

Right now, the Omega AXL Inkless Pen is a full 25% off the retail price. Read the rest

Marvel at this autonomous, drifting DeLorean

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

MARTY is the name of this 1981 DeLorean that researchers from Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab customized into a self-driving electric car. Now, Jon Goh and Tushar Goel have augmented MARTY so it's capable of drifting through a complicated driving course with incredible precision. From Stanford:

Conducting research in high-speed, complicated driving conditions like this is a bread-and-butter approach of the Dynamic Design Lab, where mechanical engineer Chris Gerdes and his students steer autonomous cars into challenging driving situations that only the top human drivers can reliably handle. On-board computers measure the car’s response over dozens of runs, and the engineers translate those vehicle dynamics into software that could one day help your car quickly dodge a pedestrian that darts into the road.

Most automated vehicles on the road have been designed to handle simpler cases of driving, such as staying in a lane or maintaining the right distance from other cars.

“We’re trying to develop automated vehicles that can handle emergency maneuvers or slippery surfaces like ice or snow,” Gerdes said. “We’d like to develop automated vehicles that can use all of the friction between the tire and the road to get the car out of harm’s way. We want the car to be able to avoid any accident that’s avoidable within the laws of physics.”

Read the rest

Watch crane collapse onto boat, causing a terrible oil spill in the Galapagos Islands

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

In the Galapagos Islands, a shoreside crane toppled over while loading a shipping container onto a barge, capsizing the boat and causing a terrible oil spill of hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. It was Charles Darwin's 1835 studies of the Galapagos Islands's biodiversity that sparked his theory of evolution by natural selection. From ABC News:

(The site of the spill,) San Cristobal Island is one of more than a dozen in the Galapagos, which is home to rare wildlife species and one of the world's most protected natural destinations. The remote islands are roughly 600 miles away from Ecuador, the country that owns them.

Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno said he declared the state of emergency when the collision first occurred but said the situation was under control as of early Monday.

"Thanks to the timely intervention of several institutions, we have it under control. I am in permanent contact with @normanwray and the COE is activated to watch over the galapagueños," Moreno said in a tweet translated from Spanish. The COE is Ecuador's Emergency Operations Committee .

Read the rest

Museum of Hangovers opens in Croatia

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

College student Rino Dubokovic has opened a Museum of Hangovers in Zagreb, Croatia. From CNN:

Exhibits include displays of objects people found inexplicably the morning after a boozy night, a room where visitors can test their reflexes after putting on "beer goggles," and an interactive section where they can share their own best and worst hangover experiences.

The gift shop is also tongue-in-cheek, selling a "drunkopoly" board game and bar activities, like darts. Dubokovic, who is from the island of Hvar and studying computer science, tells CNN Travel that the point of the museum isn't to glorify overindulgence. Rather, it's a physical representation of the kinds of chats he had with his friends, where everyone is sharing stories and bonding about things they did in the past.

The city is also home to the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Read the rest

Multitask your meals better with this automatic pot stirrer

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

You know those cooking shows where you see chefs furiously stirring their broth or risotto? That's the only time stirring has ever looked cool.

For the rest of us, it's an unbearable time-sink and a quick way to get sore arms -  especially if you're preparing thick foods like mashed potatoes. For that reason, we heartily recommend you let technology take over in the form of the StirMATE® Smart Pot Stirrer.

This device is far more than just a spoon attached to a rotor. There are actually two paddles attached to a high-torque rotator that clamps onto the side of the pot. The upper paddle does the heavy work of actually mixing up your food in the middle layers while the lower paddle rests at the bottom, gently wiping the pot surface clean and making sure there's no nasty caked-on residue to deal with.

It's adjustable to pots and pans of various diameters, up to 9 inches deep. The StirMATE is now on sale for 16% off retail, and you can take an additional 15% off that final price by entering the coupon code HAPPYHOLIDAYS. Read the rest

Crazy sky dancer menorah

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

Friends of mine in Palm Springs are up to some real Hanukkah hijinx. Kudos to Mel, Jessica, and Sasha (the tall one in yellow) for making the world's first crazy sky dancer menorah. Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate! Read the rest

Microtransactions overwhelmed the Disney cinematic universe

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

Writing for the Washington Post, Gene Park argues that Star Wars has been at its best in recent years the closer the product has been to a video game. He praises the narrative in the game Fallen Order, and the game-like structure in the show The Mandalorian. Rise of Skywalker fails, he says, partly because it mostly takes the bad aspects of video games:

The Macguffin chasing/fetch quests aren’t the only problem associated with bad gaming practices. There are also the “microtransactions” and DLC-like elements required to fully appreciate the main property. The modern day Star Wars moviegoer is now required to read the comic books and watch the old “Clone Wars” cartoon (now available on Disney+!) to fully appreciate the import of items and characters making sudden appearances in this universe.

...

Sure, the experience of investing this much time and money can be satisfying and sometimes pays off. But it isn’t enough to have seen all eight movies before seeing this one. “The Rise of Skywalker” is overstuffed with references to the past, and also to future potential franchises and brand opportunities. It’s glaringly more obvious that these new films are not meant to be definitive, tell-all works, but rather a jumping-off point for other properties.

You can read his entire review here.

On the same topic, the opening crawl itself refers to something that happened in last weekend's Fortnite/Star Wars tie-in:

Disney is an investor in Epic Games. Read the rest

A world record for the most ghost peppers eaten? It's been an honor serving with you

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

I'd call this madness if it weren't for the fact that the event was used to raise awareness about world hunger. Read the rest

Get the best pour out of any wine bottle with this electric aerator

Dec 26, 2019

Description:

Wine is great, but wine poured with an aerator is even better.

It's true that a jolt of oxygen does wonders for the flavor of a wine just before it's poured. This Electric Wine Aerator & Dispenser makes sure that every pour gets its fair share of air, delivering oxygen over a wide surface area. Not only that, but the design makes sure every glass is free from sediment, which stays in the dispenser.

When you're not pouring, it stays airtight, which is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the taste. Push a button and it cleans easily, flushing itself out after each bottle.

The aerator comes with a travel bag, and they're both already 25% off the retail price. You can take an additional 15% off that by using the holiday discount code HAPPYHOLIDAYS. Read the rest

Give your glasses a deep clean with this ultrasonic case

Dec 25, 2019

Description:

How many times a day do you wipe your glasses clean? If you actually care about your specs, you're using a microfiber cloth and not your shirt. In which case, good for you. But even so, you're just removing the surface dust on those lenses - not the grime and oil that accumulates on a daily basis, which in turn attracts more dust.

There's a better way, and not only does it not involve any additional elbow grease, but it can also save you some time: The Smartclean Vision.7.

Not only does this innovative cleaning casework wonders on your glasses, but it can also be used on most small jewelry items. It works by way of tiny ultrasonic waves. Simply fill it up with water, immerse your glasses, and the ultrasonics turn the bubbles into tiny shockwaves. They won't scratch your lenses in any way, but they will do a deep clean on your glasses by removing built-up oil and stubborn stains - all without you lifting a finger.

The Smartclean Vision.7 is already 20% off retail, but you can take an additional 15% off by using the holiday coupon code HAPPYHOLIDAYS. Read the rest

Arts & Crafts: Build your own personal steam engine.

Dec 25, 2019

Description:

I just discovered Pavel Chilin's YouTube channel. There's only five videos there so far but, my friends, they are glorious.

As near as I can tell, Pavel's love of trains has translated into his building a rat-rod-as-all-get-out  steam engine just big enough to conduct himself and a pal around a good length of track, which again, I'm guessing that he built himself (but please correct me if I'm wrong.) I'd love to see how much work it took to put all of this together if, for nothing else, it might lead to other folks to do it as well. Read the rest

JBL's Go 2 pocket bluetooth speaker is the perfect last-minute stocking stuffer

Dec 22, 2019

Description:

Though I keep buying the damned things, I've never liked any of the portable bluetooth (or airplay) speakers I've gotten: they're all too large, too daft, too boofy or too tinny, too fancy, too hinky. So when I was handed the JBL Go 2, my mind immediately turned to regifting it. I'm glad I didn't, though, because it's perfect. It's the right size, it's cheap, it works, it's waterproof, it can survive a drop, it doesn't look stupid, and it sounds good.

That something with such basic and useful function hits all these notes makes it a perfect last-minute stocking stuffer. It's straightforward enough for technophobes, but even hard-to-shop-for gadget lovers will dig it as a no-nonsense EDC sidearm. If you order it today, it'll arrive before Christmas, at least on Amazon Prime. They're at Best Buy too, but only in black.

The power switch, volume and pairing controls are embossed on the metallic rubbery finish, while the the non-waterproof AUX and USB ports are hidden under a flap. I got about 5 hours of playback on a charge. The box is about three inches square and an inch deep. It fits in my jean pockets but packed a good, bassy punch.

The only thing I don't like is the big white JBL logo painted all over it. Annoyingly, while it comes in white, the logo is then dark gray.

JBL Go 2 [Amazon]

JBL Go 2 [Best Buy] Read the rest

Create high-quality recordings with this digital stereo condenser microphone from Shure

Dec 22, 2019

Description:

"Anybody can be a creator."

"All you need is something to say."

Those are great platitudes when you're building up the confidence to start your YouTube channel or vlog, but let's be honest: If you want to be heard, you need to look and sound presentable first. And we're not just talking about your diction and wardrobe.

Luckily, you don't need to shell out thousands for a professional movie camera. The guys behind the world's foremost microphone makers have introduced the Shure MV88+ Video Kit, which can turn any smartphone into a versatile shooting rig.

It includes a Shure microphone, phone clamp, and mini-tripod that configures into modes that are ideal for selfies, field shooting, interviews or nearly any situation you want to capture. The mic pairs up with your smartphone by Lightning cable or USB — just set the gain levels and you're ready to go. Presets can help you quickly deal with crowd sounds, acoustic music or any kind of ambient noise.

The entire rig is now available for almost 20% off the retail price. Pick it up and start creating content that's actually going to turn heads. Read the rest

The 1994 Denise Richards movie where Paul Walker's brain is inserted into a T-Rex has a new gorier version

Dec 22, 2019

Description:

Tammy and the T-Rex features Denise Richards (Tammy) and Paul Walker (Michael) as young loverbirds. After Michael is badly wounded by Tammy's ex-boyfriend, a mad scientist seizes his brain and inserts it into a robotic T-Rex.

The movie was filmed with an R rating in mind, but the violence was removed for its initial release. That missing footage has now been reinserted to form the "gore cut." Birth Movies Death explains:

While the body count in the kids’ version is (and I suspect I’m recalling correctly here) zero, the “Gore Cut” sees nearly ten minutes of additional footage added to the film, dotting the running time with deaths but mostly contributing two absolutely wonderful added/extended sequences. The best is a sublime bit of surgical slapstick in which Michael’s brain is profoundly mishandled on its way to its dinosaur housing, creating a surprising amount of chaos in a surprisingly small operating theatre. The other comes mid-film, as Michael’s Rexed-out rage increases and he rampages through a high school kids’ party. High schoolers get stomped on, chomped, and killed in more inventive ways I won't spoil, with a surprising quantity of blood spilled and laughter released. It’s amazing this material was cut, given how expensive it must have been, but on the other hand, it’s amazing the movie was even produced in the first place.

The gore cut will be streaming on Shudder in January. Read the rest

A stolen lobster truck crashed into another lobster truck, because Boston

Dec 22, 2019

Description:

A recent Boston Police report has revealed the probable plot to Ben Affleck's next crime movie:

A 29-year-old male from South Boston, had stolen a box truck loaded with at least $10,000 worth of lobsters from a local lobster company located in Charlestown. Employees of the company were in the process of loading the truck at the dock when the suspect jumped into the cabin of the truck and sped off. Several employees of the lobster company gave chase in a second box truck and caught up with the suspect on Medford Street near Main Street. The suspect refused to stop but instead deliberately crashed the stolen truck into the second box truck. The employees of the lobster company were able to detain the suspect until police arrived on scene.

To recap: someone left a truck running with $10,000 of lobster in it. And another guy just … got into the truck and drove away. So the employees hopped into another lobster truck and chased after him. The thief ultimately crashed into the truck that was chasing him, and the employees held him there until Boston's Finest showed up.

The company in question turned out to be Buy New England Lobsters. Boston Magazine spoke with Peter Lagorio, the company's sales and marketing manager, who said, “It’s probably the most Boston thing that’s ever happened.”

The fahkin Boston Fish Guys could not be reached fuh comment.

Foiled Lobster Truck Heist in Charlestown “Was a Very Boston Experience for Everyone Involved” [Spencer Buell / Boston Magazine]

Image via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest

8 prints that prove you can afford quality wall art

Dec 22, 2019

Description:

Want to class up your walls? There comes a time when we all must move out of the dorm room and its comfortable movie posters. A time when we might even consider purchasing actual art by actual living artists.

Believe it or not, there's tons of great art out there — and you might not even have to drop a month's rent to get it. Here are eight prints by artists with a distinctive voice, all priced way down for the holidays.

Giant Art "In Trouble She Will" by Agnes Cecile

This hypnotic figure is the work of Silvia Pelissero, better known in her native Italy by her nom de art Agnes Cecile. The massive 54" square print comes with stretchers and hardware to mount it appropriately in any room that needs a strong focus.

MSRP: $552.00

Sale Price: $441.99

"Daughter" by Jenny Liz Rome (Framed Print White)

This piece by Canadian artist Jenny Liz Rome was inspired by her experiences as a mother. It's a great fit for bedrooms, living spaces or anywhere that needs a touch of warmth.

MSRP: $129.00

Sale Price: $103.20

Giant Art "Casual Fridays" by Hidden Moves

Here's a curious visitor from Rhys Owens' "Hidden Moves" series of paintings, ready to hang out in your living room and spread a little whimsy. At 72" by 48", it may be casual, but it won't go unnoticed.

MSRP: $552.00

Sale Price: $441.99

Giant Art "Space Cadet" by Hidden Moves

Welsh artist Rhys Owens captures quiet cool with this large-scale print. Read the rest

Party Discipline, a Walkaway story (Part 4 -- the final part!)

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

In my latest podcast (MP3), I conclude my serial reading of my novella Party Discipline, which I wrote while on a 35-city, 45-day tour for my novel Walkaway in 2017; Party Discipline is a story set in the world of Walkaway, about two high-school seniors who conspire to throw a "Communist Party" at a sheet metal factory whose owners are shutting down and stealing their workers' final paychecks. These parties are both literally parties -- music, dancing, intoxicants -- and "Communist" in that the partygoers take over the means of production and start them up, giving away the products they create to the attendees. Walkaway opens with a Communist Party and I wanted to dig into what might go into pulling one of those off.

Here's part 1 of the reading, here's part 2, and here's part 3.

We rode back to Burbank with Shirelle on my lap and one of my butt-cheeks squeezed between the edge of the passenger seat and the door. The truck squeaked on its suspension as we went over the potholes, riding low with a huge load of shopping carts under tarps in its bed. The carts were pretty amazing: strong as hell but light enough for me to lift one over my head, using crazy math to create a tensegrity structure that would hold up to serious abuse. They were rustproof, super-steerable and could be reconfigured into different compartment-sizes or shelves with grills that clipped to the sides. And light as they were, you put enough of them into a truck and they’d weigh a ton.

Read the rest

The 2010s were the decade of Citizens United

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

Slate has dubbed the 2010s as the decade of Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that paved the way for unlimited, anonymous corporate election spending. In 2010, the year of Citizens United, the largest political donors were Robert and Doylene Perry ($7.5m for Republicans); in 2019, it was Sheldon and Miriam Adelson ($122m).

In the intervening years, we've seen dark money groups and Super PACs -- nominally independent of political candidates -- effectively run campaigns. Often these are helmed by former staffers or close family members of the candidate, making a mockery of the idea of independence. Despite this, courts have been reluctant to intervene, even when there's blatant coordination.

Of course, the majority of dark money and Super PAC funds go to right wing candidates (mostly Republicans, but also finance/pharma/coal/oil-friendly Democrats). The right wing project is intrinsically elitist, grounded in the idea that some people were born to rule and that politics (monarchy, markets, theocracy, or other mechanisms) exist to elevate those people to a position of authority over the rest of us. This is a foundationally undemocratic idea, based on the subjugation of majorities by minorities, and the only way to effect it within a democracy is to convince the turkeys to vote for Christmas, by feeding them scare-stories about socialism, big government, taxation, freeloaders, abortion, white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. Citizens United unleashed a torrent of unlimited money used to fill every media channel, from Fox to Facebook, with disinformation campaigns aimed at getting low-information voters to cast ballots for candidates who will ruin their lives. Read the rest

Kentucky's former GOP governor pardoned a bunch of rapists and murderers on his way out of office, including a child rapist

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

Former Republican Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin pardoned 28 prisoners on his way out of office, including Micah Schoettle, convicted of repeatedly raping a nine year old girl over a two year period, often while her sister was present. Bevin told a conservative talk-show host that he believed Schoettle had been falsely accused and convicted, citing his understanding that child rape survivor's hymen was intact (a peer-reviewed study of girls who survive rape found that only 2.1% of them had visible damage to their hymens; Bevin told an interviewer "This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me, if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically").

The rape survivors and their families now live in fear of their attacker, who, because of his pardon, will not have to register as a sex-offender.

It's not clear why Bevin pardoned as many criminals as he did, or how he chose them, but at least some of them are related to GOP donors who hosted fundraisers to pay off his campaign debts. A partisan group of Kentucky lawmakers have called for an investigation into Bevin's pardons.

Bevin was a trumpian official who often trafficked in conspiracy theories and disinformation while campaigning and in office. He served a single term before being narrowly defeated by Andy Beshear, a Democrat whose father was Steve Beshear, who served as Kentucky's governor for 8 years before Bevin took office. Read the rest

Become a master of Google & SEO with the help of this certification training

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

So you're building a brand. Ideally, you've got a website, but that's only half the battle. As any online marketer can tell you, the real work comes in getting that site to come up in internet searches, and come up prominently.

That requires a lot of groundwork and more than a little technical know-how - both of which are laid out in the Pro Google SEO & SERP Certification Bundle.

This 10-course package is a boot camp for any aspiring digital-age marketer, but it's also a road map to the top of Google's SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). There are courses that give a broad overview of marketing strategy before others dive into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how it's used in a variety of ways.

You'll get strategies on how to build effective backlinks and navigate Google's Shopping and Merchant Center, to name just a few. You'll even learn how to gear your SEO toward emerging technology like voice search.

The entire bundle is now on sale for 98% off the cost of the individual courses - and you'll get lifetime access to all 10. Read the rest

The Fruity Pebbles Christmas commercial that implies Fred poisoned Barney

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

This commercial packs a lot of narrative into 29 seconds. Fred feeds Santa, Barney burglarizes Fred's home to steal food, and Santa convinces Fred to forgive Barney. Well, Fred seems to forgive Barney, but watch him only pretend to eat a mouthful of cereal at the end:

Spotted by Michael Blaiklock, who has correctly been haunted by the implications of the commercial for years:

Does anyone else remember this Fruity Pebbles Christmas commercial where, at the end, Fred Flintstone just starts chewing without ever putting the cereal in his mouth?? I‘ve thought about this for years. pic.twitter.com/Uk4FS2esoE

— Michael Blaiklock (@LILmookieB) December 19, 2019

Read the rest

The best sports gifs of the decade

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

i have at least 75 answers to this question, this is one of them https://t.co/1zGgRRVjTv pic.twitter.com/mHxuUOjE5i

— Jon Bois (@jon_bois) December 13, 2019

SB Nation asked for recommendations for the best sports gifs of the decade, and boy they got some terrific responses.

Elite skill:

The exact opposite:

Extreme effort:

Irrepressible exuberance:

Unwarranted confidence:

Live broadcast moments both goofy:

and mysterious:

Enjoy many more responses here. Read the rest

And now, eight hours of vintage department store holiday music

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

Consider your every waking moment to be haunted, from this point on.

 

Image via Pexels Read the rest

Spark a conversation with these retro kerosene lighters

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

We'll say this about smoking: The act of asking somebody for a light is a minor bonding ritual all its own — and a great chance to make a first impression.

And if it takes you a while to find a bon mot, don't sweat it: That's why they made these eye-catching throwback lighters.

They're made by the guys at TSHOMX, and there is clearly a lot of work put into each one. We'd classify them as retro, but even old favorites like the flip-top Zippo didn't have this much swagger or attention to detail. They're each made from brass, hand-forged with a variety of distinctive covers and accents.

Each one normally sells at retail for $99, but they are all nearly 25% off right now. Not only that, you can take an extra 15% off that final price by using the holiday coupon code MERRYSAVE15. Take your pick, and enjoy the attention. (Bear in mind that lighter fuel for these is sold separately.)

Handcrafted Brass Carved Lift Arm Kerosene Lighter

The cowhide cover on this one is classy, but we love the centerpiece. The intricate gearwork makes it the perfect accessory to your outfit at the steampunk cotillion.

Classic Lighter with Eagle Coin Sleeve

For something a little more understated, try this model in basic black. The centerpiece is an eagle coin, rustic but polished.

Brass Carved Flint Wheel Kerosene Lighter

Here's the same gearwork accent and cowhide cover with a different lighting mechanism. The striker is a flint wheel operation, perhaps more familiar to the Zippo crowd. Read the rest

How to gain in-demand skills in IT, development, and more with Whizlabs

Dec 21, 2019

Description:

Whether you're an industry professional, IT worker or a budding entrepreneur, your worth boils down to one main thing: expertise. What you don't know can hurt you, and what you do know can only help your resume - and your bottom line.

Granted, it can be hard to keep your skillset up to date in today's changing economy. That's where services like Whizlabs become invaluable.

What's Whizlabs? Think of it as an on-demand vo-tech university, only a lot more expansive, accessible - and affordable. A subscription to the service gets you access to not just training, but certification in fields that are vital to today's workplace.

That includes courses in cloud computing, cybersecurity, project management, marketing, and data analysis. They're all designed to allow you to operate on a range of platforms, and since the service is updated regularly, you know you're ready for the next big thing.

A lifetime membership to Whizlabs Online Certifications is now over 90% off the MSRP. Read the rest

Doctors who take pharma industry freebies prescribe more of their benefactors' drugs

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

Doctors who accept pharma industry gifts (which can range from free coffees to lavish dinners to six-figure speaking fees) claim that they're not influenced by these bribes/gifts, which is possibly why doctors are taking more pharma bribes than ever.

Now, an empirical study by Propublica draws on mandatory disclosure data on pharma gifts as well as prescribing data to show that "Doctors who receive money from drugmakers related to a specific drug prescribe that drug more heavily than doctors without such financial ties."

The sample size is large. The effect size is large. The effects are consistent across multiple drugs. The size of the gift needed to change prescribing behavior is bewilderingly small.

It's not the first such study, but it's an important, empirical addition to our understanding of the problems with this practice. Obviously, the pharma industry wouldn't spend all that money if they didn't think it made a good return on their investment, but industries often spend lavishly on useless things for long periods (for example, think of all the firms that entrust hedge funds with large sums of money, despite the fact that hedge funds generally underperform relative to a simple index-tracker). It's nice to have some outside validation.

For some drugs that are household names, it was more common for prescribers to receive a payment than not to. More than half of doctors who prescribed Breo, an expensive asthma drug, to Medicare patients received payments involving the drug in 2016. This was also true for Invokana and Victoza, both of which are diabetes medications.

Read the rest

New York Times analyzes a leaked set of location data from a private broker, sounds the alarm

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

In 2017, a string of reports revealed that data-brokers were acquiring and linking titanic sets of location data from apps and mobile carriers and mining that data (and sometimes selling it outright). The carriers promised they'd end the practice, but they were lying. A year later, fresh reports surfaced of both app- and carrier-derived location data being sold, often by companies whose lack of elementary security meant that the data was effectively available to anyone. Then we learned that carriers were supplying fine-grained, realtime location data that was ending up in the hands of bounty hunters, skip tracers, and crooks and stalkers (naturally Ajit Pai's FCC had helped them get away with it0.

Now, the New York Times has obtained a file of app-derived location data of the sort amassed by brokers, composed of 50b location "pings" from 50m Americans' devices.

In an extraordinary piece of journalism, the Times shows just how easy it is to positively identify people in the data-set and then follow them: whether that's senior political officials, celebrities, protesters, cops, or the families and friends of all of the above. The writers describe how they were able to identify overnight visitors to the Playboy mansion, follow journalists as they talked with sources, and watch who came and went from massage parlors, methadone clinics, the White House, and more. They followed a tech exec as he left his employer's campus and interviewed for a job at its major rival, and tracked the children of police officers as they went to school and to friends' houses. Read the rest

Meet Jackie Fielder, the recently homeless indigenous woman who's primarying a San Francisco Democrat in a state senate race

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

Until recently, Jackie Fielder was living in her van. At 25, the Stanford sociology grad couldn't afford rent in San Francisco.

Now Fielder -- who is of Hidatsa, Lakota and Mandan heritage -- is primarying an establishment Democrat to represent District 11 in the California Senate. District 11 is a very safe seat, so winning the primary nomination is effectively the same thing as winning the seat.

Fielder is running as a Democratic Socialist. Her opponent, Scott Weiner, has offered a string of solidly progressive initiatives while in office but whose record is marred by his support of pro-gentrification policies.

Fielder backs transformative, left-wing policies, especially the creation of a public bank (previously) and with it, divestiture of public finance from institutions complicit in crimes against humanity, notably Wells Fargo, a major funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Fielder volunteered as a water protector at Standing Rock, and is also a #BlackLivesMatter activist. I donated to her campaign. I am a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

In February 2017, just as the last water protectors were forced from the camps at Standing Rock, Remle and the Seattle Defund DAPL movement succeeded in convincing the city of Seattle to divest $3 billion of the city’s funds from Wells Fargo due to their funding of the pipeline.

The victory was short lived, however, when a little over a year later the city renewed its contract with Wells Fargo. It could find no other large bank willing to take on the high volume of depository services required by the city.

Read the rest

Armed robber who face-planted into Pizza Hut door left DNA, cops say

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, police say they collected DNA from the spot where a suspect face-planted into a door while trying to escape.

Police swabbed the door for possible DNA evidence, collected it, sent it to the New Mexico forensic laboratory in Santa Fe, where DNA was confirmed.

That DNA profile was entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) where it matched a known sample belonging to one Markell Deshaun Barnes, 19.

The young man is now identified as the suspect responsible for two New Mexico armed robberies committed on the same day in June.

Markell Deshaun Barnes, 19, of the 1800 block of Ash Avenue, is charged with one third-degree felony count of attempted armed robbery and one fourth-degree felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Both charges are for the attempted armed robbery June 25, 2019, at the Pizza Hut at 2205 Missouri Ave.

Barnes is also the prime suspect in another armed robbery earlier that day.

The first robbery, police say, was about 12:15 a.m. at the Giant gas station, 1865 University Ave. The second robbery was reported that evening, about 10:30 p.m., at the Pizza Hut restaurant. No injuries were reported in either case.

In the Pizza Hut case, police reviewed surveillance images and noticed the suspect tried running out a door that had already been locked for the evening. The suspect face-planted into the door, police say, before reversing direction and running out another exit.

More on CODIS — the Combined DNA Index System: FBI.gov Read the rest

Thief busted for stealing car with a guy sleeping inside

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

In New Mexico, Joseph Allen, 40, is facing charges after authorities say he stole a car without realizing that another guy was still sleeping inside the vehicle at the time.

Joseph Allen of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was arrested and charged with stealing the running car in Vado, New Mexico, on Wednesday, reports the Las Cruces Sun-News.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office says the sleeping guy, Ignacio Baca of Las Cruces NM, said it all started after he fell asleep in the back seat of his girlfriend’s 2006 Toyota Corolla, as one does.

Mr. Baca said he'd dropped off his lady friend for her shift working at a truck stop, and decided to park the car and fell asleep instead of venturing further home.

From AP:

Baca told Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Detective Ileana Adame that he’d left the vehicle running while he was sleeping, and later woke up and realized the car was traveling east on Interstate 10. Baca said he asked the man who the was, and proceeded to punch and choke the stranger.

Court documents allege Allen regained control of the vehicle and pulled over.

Allen then pulled out a knife and slashed Baca on the left side of his rib, and upper right arm, deputies said.

Baca eventually took the triple-edged knife from Allen, who then fled.

More: Deputies: Man stole car while another man slept inside [apnews.com] Read the rest

Child, 3, shot dad in the butt with family gun

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

A 3-year-old boy shot his father in his rear end with a gun the toddler found in their Erie, Pennsylvania home, say police. The father survived.

Erie police say the shooting took place at 6:30 PM Thursday.

The boy encountered a loaded, small-caliber handgun, and fired it at his father, who was 26 years old. Neither name has been released.

The dad is expected to survive, and is being treated at a hospital for wounds not considered life-threatening.

More: Police: 3-year-old boy shoots sleeping father in buttocks [apnews.com] Read the rest

Goat snuck onto UPS truck

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

UPS driver Bruce Slette found a goat in the back of his UPS delivery truck, and the images he snapped and sent to his daughter have now gone very viral.

They're really quite funny.

My dad is a UPS driver in rural North Dakota & today he sent me these photos with no context pic.twitter.com/DkwwHM0vpG

— Maria Helen (@maria_helen13) December 19, 2019

“My dad is a UPS driver in rural North Dakota & today he sent me these photos with no context,” wrote Maria Helen.

Oh yes there's video.

But wait there’s more pic.twitter.com/jaeTXDm8jj

— Maria Helen (@maria_helen13) December 20, 2019

Business Insider has some funny related content about animals sneaking on to delivery vehicles:

A goat snuck onto a UPS truck in North Dakota, and photos of the encounter are going viral as delivery workers share their own hilarious animal sightings

[Twitter/@maria_helen13 ] Read the rest

'No joke, we just found a live owl roosting in our Christmas tree'

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

One Georgia family's viral owl Christmas saga started began on December 12, with this Facebook post: “No joke, we just found a live owl roosting in our Christmas tree.”

In the photo, an owl tucked in to the tree branches among lights and ornaments.

The local paper identified the critter as an Eastern screech owl, and the family says the bird was discovered when Katie McBride Newman's daughter was trimming the tree with owl ornaments. The girl “was both terrified and delighted,” the newspaper wrote.

From the Associated Press:

Katie McBride Newman said Friday that she and her daughter spotted the bird on Dec. 12. They had bought the 10-foot (3-meter) tall tree from a Home Depot, brought it back to their Atlanta area home and decorated it with lights and, coincidentally, owl ornaments.

“It was surreal, but we weren’t really freaked out about it,” McBride Newman said. “We’re really outdoorsy people. We love the wilderness.”

The family opened windows and doors near the tree hoping the owl would fly away, but it didn’t.

“The owl seemed to be pretty comfortable, and I thought, ‘Hey buddy, it’s not going to go well if you just stay here. There’s no food, I’m sorry,’” said McBride Newman’s husband, Billy Newman. So the family called a nonprofit nature center for help. The Chattahoochee Nature Center caught the bird and helped the family release it.

More: Family finds live owl while decorating indoor Christmas tree with owl ornaments in GA [star-telegram.com] Read the rest

American Airlines now offers 'U' and 'X' gender markers for nonbinary flyers

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

“We are glad to be able to better accommodate the gender preferences of our travelers and team members.” - AA

Americans should definitely be worried about the EU's new copyright rules

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

The passage -- through MEPs erroneously pushing the wrong buttons! -- of the new EU Copyright Directive last March means that online platforms operating in the EU will have to implement filters that allow anyone, anywhere, to claim anything as their copyright, whereupon the platforms will have to detect any attempt by anyone else to upload those claimed works and block them.

Julia Reda (previously) was an MEP during the passage of the Copyright Directive and she led the charge to reform it to remove its most odious and absurd passage. Thanks to her and other organizers, 200,000 Europeans marched in 50+ cities, and 5,000,000 Europeans signed the largest petition in continental history, opposing the inclusion of the filter mandate in the Directive. Despite this unprecedented public opposition and the near-unanimous verdict of security experts, economists, technologists, and scholars that this would not work, MEPs voted in favor of this proposal (notwithstanding that 10 of them got confused and pressed the wrong buttons, and that the proposal only passed by five votes) (no, really).

Writing for Harvard's Berkman Klein Center, Reda explains why Americans should be alarmed at this turn of events: it will cement the dominance of both large platforms and large entertainment conglomerates, at the expense of upstart competitors, like EU-based online platforms that differentiate themselves through promises of better privacy or better moderation; and like small, independent labels and publishers that offer more equitable deals to creators.

Moreover, the filters will perform in ways that are familiar to anyone who pays attention to Google's Content ID (for Youtube) or the filters used on Facebook and other platforms: they will both overblock legitimate creative or critical media, and underblock material that actually infringes copyright. Read the rest

Facebook & Twitter ban pro-Trump network that reached 55 million accounts with AI-generated faces, Epoch Media Group and Falun Gong links identified

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

They had 'American' faces, but these pro-Trump social media accounts all had algorithmically generated faces that only appeared 'American.'

Facebook and Twitter have banned a pro-Trump network that reached 55 million accounts and is said to be linked to a US-based media company called The BL which has ties to Epoch Media Group and the Chinese Falun Gong cult.

I know, that's a lot to digest.

Facebook says it nixed 610 accounts, 89 Facebook pages, 156 groups, and 72 accounts on Instagram, all of which were linked to BL and Epoch Media Group.

“The BL is now banned from Facebook,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said Friday in a statement. “We are continuing to investigate all linked networks, and will take action as appropriate if we determine they are engaged in deceptive behavior.”

Roughly 55 million accounts followed one of the network's Facebook pages, and 92,000 followed one or more of its Instagram accounts, Facebook says, adding that the organization spent about $9.5 million on Facebook ads.

By the way, if you removed all the foreign influence operation income, what does Facebook's income look like?

From reporting today by Makena Kelly at The Verge:

On Friday, Facebook and Twitter shut down a network of fake accounts that pushed pro-Trump messages all while “masquerading” as Americans with AI-generated faces as profile photos.

In a blog post, Facebook connected the accounts to a US-based media company called The BL that has ties to Epoch Media Group. In August, NBC News first reported that Epoch Media Group was pushing messages in support of President Donald Trump across social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Read the rest

The Heir is everything a waterpipe should be

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

If you smoke, you know there's nothing like the hit you get from a waterpipe. You also know that smooth hit gets balanced out a little by the refilling you have to do - not to mention the cleaning.

Finally, somebody's taken the basic design of the old reliable water smoker and added some much-needed tweaks. Enter the Heir Waterpipe.

Nothing has really changed in the mechanics of the thing, which is hard to improve on. Each hit still travels through a reservoir of water, which cools off the smoke before it enters your lungs.

The difference is in the details with the Heir. The glass water chamber removes with a simple screw, taking a lot of the work out of the act of getting it ready. Just pour and pack.

The bowl also has a wide, saucer-like rim to catch all the stray bits you might sprinkle in when loading up your smokeables. The smoking chamber is elongated, allowing the smoke to travel longer and therefore cooling it down even more than usual. Finally, the tilted design ensures that you won't need to bend your neck while taking a hit.

Know somebody who could use a good smoke this year? The Heir Waterpipe is over 20% off the MSRP, and you can take an extra 15% off that final price by using the holiday discount code MERRYSAVE15.

  Read the rest

Radicalized is one of the LA Public Library's books of the year!

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

It's not just the CBC and the Wall Street Journal -- I was delighted to see this morning that Radicalized, my 2019 book of four science fiction novellas made the LA Public Library's list of the top books of 2019! "As always his writing is sharp and clear, covering the absurdities that surround and infiltrate our lives, and predicts new ones waiting for us just around the corner. A compelling, thought provoking, macabre funny read." Read the rest

Illinois schools don't just lock special ed kids in solitary, they also restrain them

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

Last month, Propublica published a characteristically blockbuster piece on the use of "quiet rooms" in Illinois schools, especially in special ed programs: these are a euphemism for solitary confinement, and their use is so cruel and grotesque that Propublica's reporting prompted state level action to ban quiet rooms in schools and reform the policy on their use.

It's predictable, I suppose, that schools that would subject young children to this kind of cruelty wouldn't stop there.

Illinois teachers and other educational personnel are trained in "restraint" -- that is pinning them down, putting them in painful compliance holds, etc. Teachers are only supposed to use this techniques to address urgent safety issues, but Propublica found that a quarter of the time, students are restrained for no documented safety reason.

Students in restraint aren't just tackled -- they might be held, pinned to the ground, for half an hour or longer until they stop trying to move. In at least two dozen incidents, this resulted in injuries to children that were so severe that an ambulance was summoned. (Propublica only audited records related to a subset of schools, so these problems might be more widespread than is documented -- these incidents are not closely tracked by the state or individual school districts).

The students who were put in restraint without a safety reason were instead punished for infractions like running in the hallway, doing headstands. Students who had medical conditions that made it unsafe to restrain them were nevertheless subjected to restraint. Read the rest

Codifying "Boomerspeak" and debating the ethics of poking fun at it

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

Gretchen McCulloch is the internet's favorite linguist, whose outstanding 2019 book Because Internet explores how statistical methods can, for the first time, be applied to large amounts of informal communications, because for the first time, a huge volume of those communications are a) written and b) digital.

In a new op-ed for Wired, McCulloch discusses the 2019 man-bites-dog phenomenon of young people making fun of how old people talk (normally, the quirks of younger peoples' speech are relentlessly mocked, stereotyped and weaponized by their elders -- this is especially true of the speech of young women, see also: vocal fry, nasal talking, and upspeak).

A central tenet of McCulloch's work is that your written discourse is largely determined by when you got on the internet (and this is strongly correlated with how old you are), and there are several characteristic (or, possibly, stereotypical) elements of "Boomerspeak" that form the basis of several online communities in which young people mock their elders.

The three most obvious Boomerspeak markers are "the dot dot dot, repeated commas, and the period at the end of a text message," which are joined by "random mid-sentence capitalization, typing in all caps, double-spacing after a period, signing your name at the end of a text message, and confusion between the face with tears of joy emoji and the loudly crying emoji." I'm a Gen Xer, but I sometimes sign my text messages, but only because I frequently end up texting with near-strangers (I fucking hate texting, so when I do, it's because there's someone I need to communicate with who prefers it, and those people are generally not in my age cohort), so I don't assume I'm in their address book. Read the rest

Medicare for All would cut most Americans' taxes, creating the biggest American take-home pay raise in a generation

Dec 20, 2019

Description:

When Americans get their paycheck every month, there are a ton of deductions from it -- some represent money taken by state governments, some by the feds, but one of the largest line-items is the amount taken to pay a private insurance company for some of the most expensive, least comprehensive medical insurance offered in any country on the planet.

The fact that this isn't a government-levied fee means that formally, it's not a "tax" -- but it is money that gets creamed off of your pay, and you don't really have a choice in the matter. Buying "cheap insurance" isn't an option, because there isn't "cheap health care" to step in when you have a heart attack.

Other rich countries pay half as much per-capita on healthcare (10% of GDP rather than 20%), making America's health system the least efficient in the world. The good news is that this means that are tons of savings to be realized by eliminating the useless intermediaries -- health insurers -- and the useless work they create (administrators) and the worse-than-useless asshole profiteers (the private-equity backed medical services and pharma companies) that gouge the sick and injured.

As economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (previously) explains in The Guardian, replacing America's failing, expensive, lethal boondoggle with a publicly administered system would result in nearly all Americans having more money at the end of the month, not less -- and in addition, we'd halt medical bankruptcies and ensure that every American would have access to world-quality care.

As one illustration, it’s possible to see how the tax plans of the leading Democratic primary candidates would affect tax rates for each group of the population.

Read the rest

This adjustable travel pillow lets you sleep your way on the go

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

If you fly coach, you know that even a short jaunt can seem like an eternity, especially if it's during the wee hours. Cramped quarters and awkward, upright chairs can make sleep almost impossible no matter how many jackets and mini-pillows you stuff under your neck.

If you fly even a couple of times a year, it's well worth investing in a decent travel pillow. And the CORI Travel Pillow is one of the best of the bunch.

Why you might ask? It all comes down to design.

A travel pillow should be more than just a bit of fluff in a tiny case. The CORI is actually three pillows in one: There's a pair of mini-pillows (one long, one short) made of soft-responsive memory foam. Then there's a plush fabric strap that an accommodate both pillows lengthwise - or in any configuration you need. That means you can stack them to fit your shoulders, neck or back at pretty much any angle.

The strap also makes it incredibly portable. You can even wear the thing as a mini-scarf if you like.

The CORI Travel Pillow is now more than 20% off the retail price for the holidays. Read the rest

Rudy Giuliani on Yovanovitch: I didn’t need her out of the way, I forced her out because she’s corrupt

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

"I forced her out because she's corrupt," said Rudy Giuliani, a private citizen who was once Donald Trump's personal lawyer, about America's former ambassador to Ukraine.

In this bananas TV segment with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, Rudy then goes on to say of Marie Louise "Masha" Yovanovitch:

"She should've been fired if the State Department weren't part of the deep state."

Even from Giuliani this is some crazy ass shit.

Rudy Giuliani on Yovanovitch: I didn’t need her out of the way, I forced her out because she’s corrupt pic.twitter.com/eLV4onbFkY

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) December 17, 2019

Let’s again look at how the SDNY has described the the removal of Yovanovitch. Also, why was a Giuliani associate working to have her removed as alleged in an indictment where the US Gov’t says it was being done “at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.” https://t.co/xDzJ4Iaa3Q

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) December 17, 2019

Read the rest

New York City bans most flavored e-cigarettes in war on vaping

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

New NYC law to cub vaping takes effect next July, aims to protect teens' health

Russia calls Trump its ‘agent’ on state TV

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

Well, this is rather bold, isn't it.

Today, as Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was returning to Moscow from last week's visit with Donald Trump in the White House, Russian state media aired a segment with this title: “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—- How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.”

Julia Davis at The Daily Beast reports on this rather blunt segment aired today on Russian TV channel Rossiya 1:

Vesti Nedeli, a Sunday news show on the same network, pointed out that it was Trump, personally, who asked Lavrov to pose standing near as Trump sat at his desk. It’s almost the literal image of a power behind the throne.

More: Yahoo News Read the rest

Whistleblower reports Mormon Church has amassed a $100 billion tax-free fund

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has amassed $100 billion in tax-free funds that should have gone to charitable causes, according to a whistleblower who alerted the IRS, reports The Washington Post.

The confidential document, received by the IRS on Nov. 21, accuses church leaders of misleading members — and possibly breaching federal tax rules — by stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses.

...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/mormon-church-has-misled-members-on-100-billion-tax-exempt-investment-fund-whistleblower-alleges/2019/12/16/e3619bd2-2004-11ea-86f3-3b5019d451db_story.html

Image: CC0 Public Domain Read the rest

An oral history of the 2009 Folgers Incest Ad

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

Gabriella Paiella of GQ presents this excellent oral history of what has come to be known as the Folgers Incest Commercial of 2009.

Folgers should remake the commercial and hire the actors who played Cersei and Jaime Lannister.

When I first saw the ad, I thought: wait, are they fucking? (Then, every time after that: okay, they’re definitely fucking.) As I would come to learn, I was hardly alone. The reaction to the ad was an example of the internet at its most fun—the phenomenon of collectively realizing that the specific thing that you believed you’ve singularly noticed is actually a widely-held opinion. Memes, articles, and parody videos abounded. It even inspired a genre of vividly-rendered fan fiction known as “Folgerscest.”

Read the rest

Hallmark channel flips, then flops on hate group's pressure over lesbian kiss commercial

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

One Million Moms is an anti-LGBTQ division of the American Family Association, listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to its website One Million Moms is "fed up with the filth many segments of our society, especially the entertainment media, are throwing at our children." What does One Million Moms consider filth? Certainly not our pussy-grabbing, thrice-married, cheating-on-his-wife-with-a-porn-star president. They love him to pieces.  Here's what they consider filth: a television commercial showing two women celebrating their wedding by kissing. One Million Moms threatened to boycott the Hallmark Channel for airing the commercial, and the poltroons at the network actually pulled the commercial. It didn't take them long to realize the utter stupidity of capitulating to the Sisters of Gilead. In short order Hallmark decided that they liked running the kissing ladies commercials after all and started re-airing them. Now everyone thinks the people over at Hallmark are idiots.

Titles Featuring Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It’s Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love

🎥 Let It Snow📺 Merry Happy Whatever pic.twitter.com/LTwnHogkoJ

— Netflix US (@netflix) December 15, 2019

Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials. pic.twitter.com/p17nJpnjEB

— Hallmark (@Hallmark) December 16, 2019

Because when people get married, they kiss. I knew that at 3.

— The Rise of Bruce Wright (@heybrucewright) December 16, 2019

While the ad should never have been pulled in the first place, #Hallmark has done the right thing by apologizing, reinstating the ad, and vowing to do better by working with ⁦@glaad⁩ to become more inclusive of the #LGBTQ community.

Read the rest

Podcast: Party Discipline, a Walkaway story (Part 3)

Dec 17, 2019

Description:

In my latest podcast (MP3), I continue my serial reading of my novella Party Discipline, which I wrote while on a 35-city, 45-day tour for my novel Walkaway in 2017; Party Discipline is a story set in the world of Walkaway, about two high-school seniors who conspire to throw a "Communist Party" at a sheet metal factory whose owners are shutting down and stealing their workers' final paychecks. These parties are both literally parties -- music, dancing, intoxicants -- and "Communist" in that the partygoers take over the means of production and start them up, giving away the products they create to the attendees. Walkaway opens with a Communist Party and I wanted to dig into what might go into pulling one of those off.

Here's part 1 of the reading and here's part 2.

We told them they could go home if they didn’t want to risk coming to the Communist party, but we told them that after we told them that they were the only kids in the whole school we trusted enough to invite to it, and made sure they all knew that if they backed out, there’d be no hard feelings—and no chance to change their mind later tonight when they were at a corny party with a bunch of kids instead of making glorious revolution.

Every one of them said they’d come.

I’d found an all-ages show in Encino that night, two miles from Steelbridge, Antoine’s old job. We got piled into Ubers heading for the club, chatting about inconsequentialities for the in-car cameras and mics, and every one of us paid cover for the club, making sure to use traceable payment systems that would alibi us as having gone in for the night.

Read the rest

Man makes improved glitter/stink bomb package to delight porch pirate

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Mark Robler made a new version of his glitter/stink bomb to give package thieves a joyous surprise. This one's full of interesting bells and whistles, like an audio recording that makes it seem like the police are coming to get them. Read the rest

Lock down a career in cloud security with the help of this training

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

To millions of end-users, the cloud means convenience. But one major security breach and that convenience isn't worth a thing. That makes cybersecurity professionals one of the most crucial positions in any IT team. Don't believe us? Just look at what the incomes are for those positions with major firms.

Needless to say, there's a lot of training involved to qualify for those positions. But the Essential Cloud Security Certification Bundle can get you started with a series of courses that are easy to digest.

The information in the package will allow you to build security systems on a range of platforms from the ground up, able to deal with threats both internal and external. By the end of it, you'll be fully ready for the exams that will qualify you in three major cybersecurity certifications: CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional) and AWS Sysop Administrator.

In all, the bundle contains over 60 hours of lectures and exercises. Access to the material is only $49 today. Read the rest

3D printed "model kits" as Christmas cards

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

McChristian says, "Rather than send/give out Holiday Cards this year, I decided to make punch and assemble Holiday 'kits.' The sleigh and reindeer were models found on Thingiverse, and I designed/printed the evergreen tree and the label." Read the rest

Beaming mugshot of politician's wife booked into jail after pouring drink on journalist

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Abbey Winters, the wife of Chattooga County, Georgia's sole county commissioner, was arrested Friday and charged with battery after pouring a drink on a reporter. The reporter had apparently asked her husband, Jason Winters, a difficult question about a trip to France. The drink was named as "soda", but the brand and flavor were not disclosed.

The wife of Chattooga County's sole commissioner poured a soda on a reporter's head this morning. The Summerville PD is charging Abbey Winters with simple battery and disorderly conduct. The reporter is Casie Bryant of All On Georgia. Photos courtesy of the Summerville News pic.twitter.com/V3pz6UbWY8

— Patrick Filbin (@PatrickFilbin) December 13, 2019

Below is embedded video of the public-meeting mayhem, posted by AllOnGeorgia. The victim, AllOnGeorgia reporter Casie Bryant, is out of shot, as is Abbey Winters, but you get the NSFW dialog and the hapless excuses about how she had it coming.

"I'm sick of it." "She brought it on herself." "She brought it on herself." "Nobody brings that on themself." "By saying he went to France?" "Oh, yes, bitch"

MUGSHOT RELEASED: NewChannel 9 was provided the mugshot of Abbey Winters. Winters is a Chattooga County Commissioners wife accused of spilling a drink on a reporters head during a budget meeting.MORE HERE: https://t.co/mr1VG1sHsQ pic.twitter.com/0EVQsavmbF

— WTVC NewsChannel 9 (@newschannelnine) December 14, 2019

Read the rest

McKinsey is lying about its role in building ICE's gulags, and paying to own the top search result for "McKinsey ICE"

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Propublica's meticulously researched and reported story about McKinsey's roles in designing ICE's detention centers, advising ICE to skimp on supervision, food and medical care, is as unimpeachable as all of Propublica's work.

Nevertheless, McKinsey released an 800-word statement falsely claiming that Propublica had "mislead readers" with an article that "ignores many of the factual points that we presented." The rebuttal contains many verifiable falsehoods (for example, it repeatedly accuses Propublica of publishing things it did not publish), and several misleading claims.

McKinsey is paying to make this article the top Google result for "McKinsey ICE," ensuring that its misleading and false spin is above the factual reporting on its conduct.

Propublica has published a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal to McKinsey's spin.

Claim:

“We did not recommend a reduction in the quality of food or healthcare for detainees.”

Response:

ProPublica did not report that McKinsey recommended a reduction in the quality of food and medical care. The article reported that McKinsey recommended reducing the amount of money spent on food and medical care. (As noted, the text of the story used the phrase “proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care.”)

McKinsey did not dispute that prior to publication and does not dispute it now. Neither did Cox, the ICE spokesman.

McKinsey Called Our Story About Its ICE Contract False. It’s Not. [Ian McDougall/Propublica] Read the rest

The EST Torch L1 is an ultra-durable, ultra-versatile flashlight

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Boing Boing proudly welcomes EST as a sponsor.

The Torch L1 by EST Gear is the world’s most versatile flashlight. It features a unique L-shaped design so you can use it hands free as a headlamp or stand-it up with it’s ultra-handy, flat, magnetic bottom. Stick it, clip it, carry it or wear it. This super-bright, waterproof, rechargeable flashlight is capable enough for every adventure and small enough for everyday use.

Learn more! Read the rest

Boston city council election decided by a single vote

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

The final spot on Boston's city council race for at-large councillors went to Julia Mejia, who edged out her opponent Alejandra St. Guillen by a single vote (22,491 to 22,492). Both were in the running to be the first Latina elected to council.

The re-count took three days, and is described as "brutal" by WGBH's Isaiah Thompson.

Through the grueling three-day recount, Mejia and St. Guillen were cordial, complimenting each other's campaigns.

After St. Guillen conceded the race, it was her campaign Mejia first singled out for praise when she celebrated the victory, at last, in front of City Hall.

“I want to thank Alejandra St. Guillen for the hard race that she and her campaign team led,” Mejia told reporters.

In an election that will be remembered for a long time, both the winner and loser will have fought a clean fight.

Five Takeaways From What Might Have Been The Closest Election In Boston History [Isaiah Thompson/WGBH]

(Thanks, Kathy Padilla!)

(Image: About Labels) Read the rest

Bunnie Huang's classic "Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen" is now free online

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Bunnie Huang (previously) is a legendary hardware hacker, and one of his claims to fame are his annual trips to Shenzhen -- China's electronics manufacturing hub -- with groups of MIT students to show them how electronic production actually works in the field, both so they can design projects with that reality in mind, and so that they can get an appreciation of what's happening behind the scenes when they order parts, tool up a line, or otherwise interact with the factories -- tiny and massive -- of the Pearl River Delta.

Huang's "Essential Guide to Shenzhen" grew out of that project: it's a soup-to-nuts, practical electronics hacker's guide to navigating Shenzhen, with point-to-translate guides to components, tools and tooling, bargaining, and transport. It's got chapters on spotting counterfeits, tipping, dress codes, local sights, haggling, and "technical Chinese" language notes. There's also a section on travel, visas, border-crossings and Chinese customs.

The book is all-but-out-of-print (Huang notes that "the last few physical copies of the book available for purchase are at MJ Maker’s stall on the 2nd floor of the SEG Plaza in Huaqiangbei. His stall number is 2A08; I think he has maybe 10 copies left as of this post. If you do stop by MJ’s booth, say hi for me"), and as the maps are out of date, he doesn't want to bother reprinting it.

Instead, he's put the whole book online as a free download (it's Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike), "so that others can swap out the map pages with something more up-to-date and have a swing at making their own derivative works."

As my friend Gavin Zhao once quipped, Chinese is a wonderful language for poetry, but difficult for precise technical communications.

Read the rest

Private equity firms should be abolished

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

In his latest BIG newsletter, Matt Stoller (previously) relates the key moments in the history of private equity, from its roots in the notorious "leveraged buyouts" of the 1980s, and explains exactly how the PE con works: successful, productive business are acquired through debt financing, drained of their cash and assets, and then killed, leaving workers unemployed and with their pension funds looted, and with the business's creditors out in the cold.

Private equity's story begins with William Simon, "a mean, nasty, tough bond trader who took no BS from anyone" whose idea of child-rearing was the douse his children with buckets of ice-water to rouse them from bed on weekend mornings. Simon was given senior Treasury appointments under Nixon/Ford, then became America's energy czar during the oil crisis. He was pro-austerity and blocked the bailout of NYC in 1975.

Once out of government service, Simon set about to create a Republican "counter-intelligentsia" to swing the party to the right. He ran the influential far-right think-tank the Olin Foundation, and dispersed money to fund law and economics scholars who were devoted to discrediting the New Deal and the idea of any limits on corporate power, all cloaked in "scientific" rhetoric.

The darlings of this movement -- Henry Manne, Milton Friedman, Michael Jenson -- promoted the idea of "shareholder capitalism" and the notion that managers have a single duty: to put as much money in the pockets of investors, even at the expense of the business's sustainability or the well-being of its workers. Read the rest

ICANN hits pause on the sale of .ORG to Republican billionaires' private equity fund

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Here's what's happened: first, ICANN (the legendarily opaque US corporation that runs the internet's Domain Name System) approved a change in pricing for .ORG domains, run by the nonprofit Internet Society (ISOC) through its Public Interest Registry (PIR), allowing the registry to raise prices. The change was done entirely by staff, without board approval.

Next, several of the people involved in that decision migrate from ICANN to ISOC or to a brand-new private equity fund called Ethos Capital, whose major investors are three families of Republican billionaires: the Romneys, the Perots and the Johnsons.

Ethos then buys the Public Interest Registry from ISOC for a little over a billion dollars -- about a billion dollars less than it's likely worth -- and makes a nonbinding pledge to limit its price increases to 10%, compounded annually (!!) and starts a PR campaign to argue that this is very reasonable (however, none of the defenders of this practice are willing to refinance their mortgages on these "reasonable" terms, nor to offer bonds for sale at that rate). They buy the top Google Adwords for search terms related to the sale, and hire one of the most expensive PR firms in the business to run interference for them.

But despite this charm offensive, the opposition continues to mount. EFF and a bunch of other nonprofits point out that selling .ORG to private equity looters will put these shadowy power-brokers in a position to censor some of the world's leading human rights and nonprofit organizations by taking away their domain names (domain names have become a central nexus of censorship efforts). Read the rest

Travel Tunes: Tinariwen—Kel Tinawen

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

The RV might be winterized and staying put until the spring thaw, but we're not. Now that I have the all clear from my cardiologist, my wife and are are planning a 20-day trip to Morocco. It'll be the first time that either of us has set foot on the African continent: With its French colonial influence and their King's tourist-friendly policies, it seems like a great place to dip our toes in the continent's waters.

Plus, it's cities, country side deserts and mountains are absolutely stunning. With out tickets purchased, we're now in the throes of planning our itinerary (which we always tend to keep a bit loosey-goosey.) I'm brushing up on my mediocre French. My partner is taking Darija lessons. I'm taking a HEAT course to polish up my already existing skill set, given that Morocco's neighbors have been a little rambunctious of late.

Perhaps most important out of all of our preparations, is the fact that my travel playlist is slowly coming together. I find that having the right music while moving into and out of an adventure helps to set the mood for the whole thing.

Tinariwen is a band that's been around for decades. Maybe you've heard of them. They only showed up as a ping on my radar within the last year.  originally hails from Mali,

From Wikipedia:

Tinariwen is a group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. The band was formed in 1979[2] in Tamanrasset, Algeria, but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s.

Read the rest

This teenager is not just a big mouth but the world's BIGGEST mouth

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Isaac Johnson, 14, of Bloomington, Minnesota, has the world's largest mouth gape. Johnson's 3.67 inch pie hole was recently confirmed to be .21 inches large larger than the gape of the previous record holder, a German fellow named Bernd Schmidt.

According to Guinness World Records, Johnson "can fit objects like a baseball and the bottom of a 20 oz soda bottle into his gape."

Read the rest

Supreme Court affirms homeless peoples' right to be on public property

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to let Boise ban people from sleeping rough.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Boise would be violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishments by enforcing criminal penalties under its anti-camping ordinance when its three homeless shelters are full.

“The state may not criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless -- namely sitting, lying, or sleeping on the streets,” the 9th Circuit said.

State abuse of the homeless is one of the nastier trends in 21st century governance—the end is usually accomplished by more subtle means (pictured) than criminalization. Read the rest

How tech rotted out

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Here's The New York Times's verdict on the 2010s: "The Decade Tech Lost Its Way." The individual stories--Deepfakes, self-driving cars, social media, fake news -- aren't laden with opinion, and many simply chart the development and success of particular gadgets, platforms and policies. But it all adds up, in a way that seems implicitly subtracted from everything else.

News breaks of a video circulating on the internet that shows the “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot having sex with her stepbrother. The video is not real; someone had used artificial intelligence to superimpose Ms. Gadot’s face on the body of a pornographic actress.

Phillip Isola, one of the A.I. researchers who pioneered the techniques used to create deepfakes: In 2011, 2012, deep learning started taking off. The big event was, deep nets could recognize animals in photos.

It took a few years until people started to make systems that could do the opposite: not take an image and recognize that it was a cat, but take the label “cat” and synthesize an image that looks like a cat — the inverse problem. You could make photos of really low-resolution faces.

Very rapidly after that, people were able to use these things for face-swapping and deepfakes and all of that.

The technology advanced so quickly right around those years. It went from “O.K., this is a really interesting academic problem, but you can’t possibly use this to make fake news. It’s just going to produce a little blurry object” to “Oh, you can actually make photo-realistic faces.”

Read the rest

Input, a new tech news site

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Joshua Topolsky's new techology news site, Input, just launched. The aim, in a crowded pack? To focus on the things that are neither speculative nor mass-market but which will shape lives in the immediate future.

We see technology as not just an intrinsic part of your life and ours, but a shaper of that life in a way that can be seen but is often missed. We see technology not just as a thing to be covered but a core part of the way we need to tell the story. This isn’t just about phone reviews or detailing the next Twitter meltdown (we’ll do some of that too). It’s about finding the ways technology and a life lived inside technology changes us, connects us, and moves us — and then telling you why you should care with as much honesty as possible. And hopefully, telling you in ways that make you question, think, and act.

Articles include Twitter's plans to label candidates in 2020, Facebook's disinclination to cooperate with California's new privacy laws, and Nike's effort to create sneakers for people with disabilities. But there are reviews, too: the new 16-inch MacBook, the new Moto smartwatch, Boosted Beams. Read the rest

Merry Christmas, someone stole Jesus's foreskin

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

The Catholic church has plenty of weird relics stored in ornate boxes around the world. Tourists flock to these churches to get a glimpse of the vessels that allegedly contain the original Crown of Thorns, or some of Christ's dried blood that turns to liquid every now and then.

And then there's Jesus's foreskin—the last (allegedly) surviving piece of flesh from God-made-flesh, chopped from the tip of his penis on New Year's Day, according to the official Roman calendar.

The fact that Jesus's foreskin still allegedly exists in the world somewhere is pretty weird, but its existence alone is not the weirdest part. No, the weirdest part is that Jesus's foreskin has been missing for more than 30 years—and that in true Dan Brown style, it may have been stolen by covert agents of the Catholic church.

According to "records," Charlemagne received the foreskin from an angel, and gifted it to Pope Leo II on Jesus' 800th birthday. It moved around a bit before being stolen during the Sack of Rome, then eventually turned up in a small village north of Rome called Calcata, where it remained until 1983, when it was stolen under mysterious circumstances. Calcata had become a sort of pilgrimage destination thanks to that little slice of petrified baby foreskin.

The Catholic Church started to downplay the foreskin in the early 20th century, even threatening to excommunicate those who mentioned it. Meanwhile, Calcata went through some changes on its own. The whole town was condemned in the 1930s, deemed unsafe by the local government due to the crumbling volcanic cliffs nearby. Read the rest

Listen to Brian Eno's beautiful cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

In 1990, Brian Eno and John Cale made a wonderful experimental pop/art rock record called Wrong Way Up, released by Warner Bros. Records. At the time, the label would send out 7" records to alt.rock/college radio stations to promote their new releases. The promo series, called Soil Samples, featured different artists on each side of the record performing songs that weren't included on their new albums.

Above is Brian Eno's contribution to Soil Samples #3, a sublime cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," originally written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore.

Read the rest

Gershon Kingsley, 1922-2019

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

Synth pioneer Gershon Kingsley is dead at 97.

Kingsley was most famous for his 1969 song “Popcorn,” which was one of the first electronic singles to hit the airwaves. The song became a hit for the group Hot Butter in 1972, and Crazy Frog revived it again in 2005. (Aphex Twin and Muse have covered it, too). Kingsley also co-wrote “Baroque Hoedown,” which was used as the theme song to Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade, with fellow synth pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey. His song “Rebirth” has been sampled in multiple hip-hop songs, including Freddie Gibbs’ and Madlib’s “Soul Right.”

Kingsley joins musical partner Jean-Jacques Perrey, who died in 2016.

Read the rest

Baby Yoda's just fiddling with the radio (meme alert)

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

There's a scene in the fourth episode of The Mandalorian where the unnamed child (aka Baby Yoda) is literally pushing Mando's buttons, well, the buttons on his ship anyway. Since it aired, the internet has been doing its thing — imagining Baby Yoda is playing with the ship's radio.

The meme started a couple of weeks ago, so there a TON of them out there. I picked out a few of my favs:

And, OF COURSE...

(Geekologie) Read the rest

The Final Trailer for Netflix's The Witcher is here

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

I haven't had the chance to play any of the Witcher games (although Witcher 3 for Nintendo Switch is on my list of titles to buy, just as soon as I finish Divinity: Original Sin 2.) However, I loved the books back in the day and have high hopes for the Netflix series. The final trailer for The Witcher dropped earlier this week and it's looking good. That said, I've been disapointed by streaming service series in the past. Fingers crossed. Read the rest

Why is the FBI protecting Superman's civilian identity?

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

In last week's Superman #18, the eponymous hero held a press conference to reveal his identity to the public. Comic book continuity is ever-shifting, of course, and the connection between Superman and Clark Kent has been known or exposed by other people before, just as the genie will someday be placed back in the bottle once again. In this particular context, Superman was inspired to come clean after learning about the lies and deceptions of his birth father, Jor-El (who also used to be dead, but now is not, because comics). This revelation also comes on the heels of an epic crossover that shattered the acronym-happy intelligence community of the DC Universe with some other truths and justices.

This curiously came on the heels of the Inspector General's report on the origins of the FBI investigation into the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. The results of this investigation were as much of a political Rorschach test as anything is these days. But one thing it did reinforce was the FBI's overconfidence in its own self-righteous status quo enforcement, for better and for worse.

While there was (unsurprisingly, IMHO) no political bias found in the FBI's motives, the IG report did note a handful of oversights and omissions that had been along the way—a detail that the President's stalwart defenders have eagerly jumped on. For anyone who's ever paid attention to anything the FBI has ever done, however, this all came across as the same standard over-zealous stuff the organization's also done—again, for better, and for worse. Read the rest

Things that have been mildly vandalized

Dec 16, 2019

Description:

"Vandalism must be mild!" declares the pinned post at r/MildlyVandalised, my new favorite subreddit. It's dedicated to amusing examples of relatively insignificant destruction and decay, such as missing letters in signs, wikipedia "vandalism" and fake instructional stickers added to public appliances and the like.

Read the rest

Please tell me where this conveyor belt sushi bar is so I can make sure to never go

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Each plate of sushi at this joint has been blessed with the clammy hand of a toddler, at no extra charge.

Hands-off parenting at a conveyor belt sushi bar from r/trashy

Image: Reddit Read the rest

Emergency team rescues girl whose fingers got stuck in a shopping cart

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

This is something that would happen to me. Now I know to wear mittens around shopping carts. Read the rest

Runner who slapped journalist on butt is Tommy Callaway, a youth minister and boy scout leader in Statesboro, Georgia

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Check out this jerk smacking a @WSAV reporter's ass live on air. And sorry, that's my kiddo making horribly timed weird noises in the background. pic.twitter.com/6tzi6P1Jbo

— Tonya (@GrrrlZilla) December 7, 2019

The runner who slapped WSAV-TV reporter Alex Bozarjian's butt on TV has been identified as Tommy Callaway (43) of Statesboro, Georgia. Callaway, a youth minister and boy scout leader, did not come forward until his identity was revealed by social media users who used his numbered race bib to figure out who he is. Callaway has locked his social media accounts and is communicating through his attorney, who issued the following statement:

“While we regret the situation, Mr. Callaway did not act with any criminal intentions. Tommy is a loving husband and father who is very active in his community. We have been in touch with WSAV and representatives for Ms. Alex Bozarjian, as well as members of Savannah law enforcement. We do not expect any criminal charges to arise from this incident, and we are working with those involved to correct the situation.”

From The New York Post:

Speaking on CBS TV’s “This Morning” on Tuesday, Bozarjian confirmed that Callaway “did try to make contact ” with her to say that “his intentions were not to hurt me, he didn’t intend to do it.

“I’m not going to really debate that — because he did hurt me,” she insisted of the slap that she said had a “heavy impact.”

“He separates himself from the runners, and he kind of winds up.

Read the rest

The Merriam-Webster dictionary's word of the year is...

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

The Merriam-Webster dictionary's word of the year is... "They." According to Merriam-Webster, online dictionary look-ups for the word "they" increased by 313% this year. Others top look-ups include "quid pro quo," "impeach," and "egregious. Makes sense. And it's great that more people are learning that the word "they" is sometimes "used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition. From Merriam-Webster:

English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.

More recently, though, they has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers.

Read the rest

Italian food from Trader Joe's Disappoints Italians, as you'd expect

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

When you're eating "Italian" food from Trader Joe's, wishing it was a nosh from Commerciante Giuseppe's... Read the rest

School bus evacuated due to overwhelming stench of Axe body spray

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

On Monday, Manatee County, Florida students were evacuated from a school bus after someone sprayed too much Axe body spray. WFTS reports that "according to school officials, the bus carrying Buffalo Creek Middle School students had to remove students off the bus because of the strong odor."

And from the Parrish Fire District's Facebook page:

Early this evening our District along with MCEMS responded to a reported hazardous materials incident on board a Manatee County School Bus. Crews arrived on scene to find fifteen students with mild respiratory irritation. All students were triaged and prioritized according to their initial complaint. It was a unified command decision to call out secondary bus to be dispatched to pick up the stranded students and remotely transport to the local High School for a limited access lot to provide security and accountability for parents to pick up students. Manatee Co. School Board reps along with the Sheriffs Office set up a coordinated pick up area.

At this time, the incident is being ruled a prank, as a deodorant / aerosol body spray was discharged on the bus. This is still a active on-going Investigaion in which bus cameras will be reviewed and further interviews conducted.

All 30 students on the bus were accounted for and treated and released with refusals to be be transported by EMS.

(Thanks to Florida bureau chief Charles Pescovitz!)

image: "Large collection of Axe products" by Dannycas (public domain) Read the rest

Twitter wants to develop an open, decentralized, federated social media standard...and then join it

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Twitter is advertising for "a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media" with the goal of becoming "a client of that standard."

It's a pretty seismic move, albeit one that's short on details and binding promises. Twitter was originally designed to be part of a federated network, but over the years, the company has tightened controls over its APIs and other elements in such a way as to make it progressively harder to create federated or third-party tools to interact with Twitter users. Sometimes, this was undertaken in the name of privacy or security (and indeed, there were some privacy and security gains through those moves) and sometimes it was just presented as a fait accompli, and either way, it's transformed Twitter into another centralized platform -- albeit one that is more generous about linking and embedding that its primary rival, the walled gardens of Facebook and its subsidiaries, whose goal is to enclose and snuff out the open internet.

Twitter CEO @Jack explains:

First, we’re facing entirely new challenges centralized solutions are struggling to meet. For instance, centralized enforcement of global policy to address abuse and misleading information is unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much burden on people.

Second, the value of social media is shifting away from content hosting and removal, and towards recommendation algorithms directing one’s attention. Unfortunately, these algorithms are typically proprietary, and one can’t choose or build alternatives.

Read the rest

The true nature of creativity: pilfering and recombining the work of your forebears (who, in turn, pilfered and recombined)

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Alex from Copy Me (previously) writes, "Copying is one of the most essential steps to creativity. And if we don’t understand how it works, copyright can easily become detrimental to the very creativity we want to protect. Copy-Me's got a new video about how even the great geniuses copied others and how this practice goes waaaay back to the most famous artists and inventions. With loads of examples and quotes from experts. We tried to reach the emotion behind the beliefs we all carry with us because facts alone don’t change anyone’s mind, especially when those beliefs are so woven into every aspect of our society. It’s called, appropriately, 'Geniuses Steal', the 3rd part in a miniseries about how minds really work and how the romantic notions about creation hinder our own ability to create.

We know geniuses are not real and minds don’t have Eureka moments. But we still cling to the idea of an original artist. That romantic notion of someone who creates something out of nothing, with their mind alone.

But the truth is every single piece of art and technology ever created is a remix. Shakespeare copied. Mozart copied. Picasso copied. Morse copied. Tarkovsky copied too. They’re all based in the work of others before them. The obsession with originality is quite a new phenomenon in the history of our species. And maybe it’s time to reconsider how art and inventions come about before our laws destroy the very creativity we want to protect.

Read the rest

Bee simulator games compared

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Paolo Pedercini compares every bee-themed game with an eye to their scientific accuracy.

Bees, particularly honeybees, are often incorrectly characterized in videogames – as well as in other media. Sometimes that’s due to their similarity with with the more aggressive wasps (which make for better enemies), sometimes that is due to the alien-like complexity of their social behavior, sometimes the creators are interested in bees only beecause they allow a multitude of puns around on the letter B. Hilarious.

At the inaccurate end of things, Flappy Bee (bees do not flap) loses to a title that features bees eating pizza and operating mechas. The winners are Drunk Bee, Monarchies, and Bee Hunting Simulator 2016; the issue is salient due to the recent high-profile commercial release Bee Simulator, which scores a respectable 4/5 on Paolo's list. Read the rest

South Carolina's feudal magistrate system may take a modest step toward modernization

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Propublica's blockbuster report on the magistrate judges in South Carolina revealed a system of patronage, cronies, and gross miscarriages of justice, with judges appointed on the say-so of a single state senator, without regard to whether they had any legal experience (some judges took the bench after working construction, or as pharmacists, or as underwear distributors), and without any vetting of their ethical lapses (some judges were disgraced lawyers who stole from clients, or retired lawmakers notorious for their racism).

Earlier attempts to reform the magistrate system had foundered in South Carolina's senate, whose members jealously guard their power to hand over these patronage appointments to connected party insiders and outgoing lawmakers.

But Propublica's story may yet shame South Carolina's lawmakers into taking some halting, tiny steps toward reform: state senator Thom Davis [R-Beaufort] has proposed legislation that would require the House as well as the Senate to confirm prospective magistrates, which would end the practice of appointing judges on the say-so of a single senator. Davis would also end the practice of allowing judges to serve after their terms end as "holdovers" (a practice designed to allow judges to serve briefly between their term expiry and their reappointments while paperwork is processed, but which has allowed some SC magistrates to serve for decades without being reconfirmed). Under the proposal, magistrates would receive additional legal training.

The proposal also prohibits nepotism, barring lawmakers from nominating their family members, and would bar ex-lawmakers from serving as magistrates for two years after their terms expire. Read the rest

It's not just you — social security scam phone calls are 23 times more common this year

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

I think we can all agree that the endless plague of robo-calls has spiraled out of control. But the folks at the public data directory  BeenVerified wanted to quantify exactly how much worse this onslaught has gotten. They collected data from more than 200,000 spam call reports from across the country, and crunched the numbers to see what they could find.

And while the results aren't really surprising, per se, they're certainly harrowing.

The frequency of Social Security spam calls has multiplied 23 times, from 0.4% of all spam calls in 2018, to 9.5% in 2019.

BeenVerified does acknowledge that their data does not necessarily reflect a complete picture. They actually suspect that things might be worse. "The Spam Complaint Monitor is a canary in the coal mine showing broad spam and robocall topic trends," said spokesperson Justin Lavelle. "As the data is self-reported, the total numbers of complaints related to each of these spam call topics are almost certainly higher."

They add:

The results from the BeenVerified Spam Call Complaint Monitor mirror broader trends, as more than 76,000 Social Security scam calls were reported to the Federal Trade Commission in the 12-month period ending in March 2019, with losses totaling $19 million. Losses related to IRS scams peaked at $17 million for the 12 months ending in September 2016, the FTC reports.

Less than 3.5% of Social Security scam complaints to the FTC resulted in lost cash, but when victims take the bait, the losses are comparatively high. The median reported loss was $1,500 in 2018, more than four times higher than losses from all other frauds, the FTC reports.

Read the rest

"America's Funniest Home Videos" podcast looks at its history

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Before YouTube, it was a TV show that brought us crazy home movie clips. That show, of course, is America's Funniest Home Videos (or "AFV" for short). On the air since 1989, AFV has seen several hosts and has somehow survived the Internet. Now there's a limited-run podcast that looks at its 30-year history from behind the scenes.

I just learned that my friend Brittany High (previously on BB) has spent the greater part of her year working on this five-part podcast series. For America, This Is You, she's interviewed the show's creator Vin Di Bona, the writers, producers, and all of the hosts, including Bob Saget. She wrote, "Yes, he sassed me. More than once. I loved every minute of it!!!!!"

She's even voiced its promo video:

I'm excited for her and to listen in!

America, This Is You is available now on:

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/america-this-is-you/id1488369919 Pandora: https://www.pandora.com/podcast/afv-america-this-is-you/PC:27414 Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/siriusxm/afv-america-this-is-you Overcast: https://overcast.fm/itunes1488369919/afv-america-this-is-you

Read the rest

Climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the Year

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

In barely months, a 16 year-old Swedish activist has changed the record on climate change, drawing the attention of the world to a problem as it becomes critical--and the contemptuous wrath of politicians and pundits who think she'll go away if they just call her a stupid little brat again. Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the Year for 2019.

We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says, tugging on the sleeve of her blue sweatshirt. “That is all we are saying.”

It’s a simple truth, delivered by a teenage girl in a fateful moment. The sailboat, La Vagabonde, will shepherd Thunberg to the Port of Lisbon, and from there she will travel to Madrid, where the United Nations is hosting this year’s climate conference. It is the last such summit before nations commit to new plans to meet a major deadline set by the Paris Agreement. Unless they agree on transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution will hit the 1.5°C mark—an eventuality that scientists warn will expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.

Read the rest

Mariah Christmas song mashups: Marilyn Manson, Radiohead, and Queen

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

The Mariah Carey mashups are coming out of the woodwork this holiday season.

There's this one that combines her chipper hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You" with Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People." Its creator, YouTuber Bill McClintock, calls it "All I Want For Christmas is the Beautiful People":

Then there's YouTuber William Maranci's Radiohead/Mariah mashup. It takes Carey's same Christmas hit and combines it with "Creep," making for "Creep But It's All I Want For Christmas Is You." One commenter describes it aptly, "this feels exactly like dissociating in a jcpenny in December":

Wait! There's one more, called "Don't Stop Christmas Now," and it brings in Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now." It came out last year, but I'm going to include it anyway.

Read the rest

This cool-hitting glass pipe will change the way you light up

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

You might know someone who can make a pipe out of any conceivable household object. But if they're doing it every time they smoke, it might be time to get them a little Christmas present. And we've got just the thing: The Twisty™️ Glass Original Combo Pack, priced way, way down for December.

If you've never used a Twisty before, this is the pipe that has changed the game in recent years for serious smokers. The spiral structure means that smoke has to travel up through five chambers before it reaches your lungs, cooling down each hit by more than 30% over traditional pipes. (And significantly more, when compared to your college buddy's "beer can with some holes poked out" version.)

It also holds 2 grams of smokeables, is easy to fill and stays lit longer thanks to the "infini-cherry" design.

The combo pack contains the Original Twisty Glass, a zipper case, microfiber bag, cleaning brush, replacement caps and tubes and much more. It's already more than 40% off retail, but you can take an extra 15% off that final price by using the coupon code MERRYSAVE15. Read the rest

The Trump Historical Players present: The Drafting of the U.S. Constitution

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH the Donald J. Trump Historical Players present the True Story of the Drafting of the U.S. Constitution!

My music distribution service is now offering automated memes

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

I release music sometimes, under my own name, or with my rock band, the Roland High Life. And in order to get our songs onto all the major music services, I pay an annual fee to DistroKid. They're an affordable company, with an easy-to-use interface that handles all the licensing stuff and makes sure we're getting paid that one-one-bazillionth of a cent every time someone plays our songs on Spotify or YouTube or hell, even Tik-Tok, whatever that is.

And now, for some inexplicable reason, they've added a new feature: automated memes. Like this:

We use @distrokid for music distribution and I have no idea WHY they decided to add this automated option for our songs, but I'm damn sure glad they did: pic.twitter.com/hjNnWWacKt

— The Fantalorian (@thomdunn) December 9, 2019

And this:

I'm not sure I watched enough Seinfeld to totally get this, but anyway here's Elaine grooving to a tune about conspiracy theories pic.twitter.com/kSFIZNxx4h

— The Fantalorian (@thomdunn) December 10, 2019

And of course, this:

Anyway here's Baby Yoda grooving to a song I wrote about Spider-Man (you're welcome) pic.twitter.com/luAgaAKSlE

— The Fantalorian (@thomdunn) December 9, 2019

On one hand: why? Who really needs this feature? Will the commodification of memes push us that much further towards the brink of some disastrous culture climax?

On the other hand: this is stupidly delightful and I'm having too much with it so I really don't care. Read the rest

The DNA in his semen was completely replaced with another man's DNA

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Writing for the New York Times, Heather Murphy has a fascinating story about the unexpected results of a bone marrow transplant.

When a patient receives a bone marrow transplant, the patient's own cells are destroyed and replaced with cells from a donor. Thereafter, the patient is a "chimera," with two sets of DNA. It's believed that other than helping the recipient's immune system, the donor DNA has little impact on the recipient:

“Their brain and their personality should remain the same"

However, the duplicate DNA can cause confusion in criminal investigations.

Murphy's article recounts a multi-year experiment carried out by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department when an employee received a bone marrow transplant. Realizing the opportunity to further scientific knowledge, they swabbed "the heck" out of the patient before and following the procedure. Four years later, they found surprising results:

Swabs of his lips and cheeks contained his DNA — but also that of his donor. Even more surprising to Mr. Long and other colleagues at the crime lab, all of the DNA in his semen belonged to his donor. “I thought that it was pretty incredible that I can disappear and someone else can appear,” he said.

Read the rest of the article here, including a discussion of whether the change to the recipient's DNA will have an impact on future offspring. And if you're interested in forensic uses of DNA, check out this story about "rapid DNA testing."

(Image via Wikipedia.) Read the rest

PSA: The Air Force isn't partial to cocaine

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Many folks have to submit themselves to a drug test, on a routine basis in order to stay gainfully employed. There's greasy ways around these tests of course: bringing someone else's urine into the lab to have tested in place of yours, increasing your intake and output pot fluids to dilute the amount of fun in your urine, or adding an adulterant to your sample to name a few.

There are, of course, bolder actions that can be taken.

Captain Joshua Bird (dig that name for pilot) of the United States Air Force's 99th Reconnaissance Squadron loves his cocaine. Apparently, in order to avoid testing positive when his mandatory drug test came around, Bird shaved his entire body—hair, eyebrows, tricky bit, you name it—to foil a follicle-based drug test. This of course, is the sort of brilliant, decisive plan that one thinks of when full to the gunsels with marching powder.

Needless to say, things didn't go as well for Bird as Bird had planned. As a matter of fact they went considerably worse than he could have imagined once other the Air Force learned of his other dabblings in drugs.

From Task & Purpose:

Bird was convicted at a general court-martial in October for using cocaine, distributing dextroamphetamine sulfate (also called "go-gel," a form of the medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD) to others for recreational use, and, most notably, for obstructing justice by "shaving his entire body to avoid a drug test," according to the notice.

Read the rest

Tabletop gamer's gift guide for 2019

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Looking for gifts for tabletop gamers? Here are some of my suggestions, based on games I've enjoyed this year... and games I would love to see under my Tannenbaum.

What were some of your favorite games this year? Let us know in the comments.

Dune

It's back! One of the most beloved and highly-regarded board games of all time, long out of print, has a new publisher (Gale Force Nine) and a new edition. This version has new art (based on the fan-created 2011 print and play edition) and some rules streamlining and clarifications, but is otherwise very close to the classic Avalon Hill edition.

BUY

Horrified

I reviewed this wonderful, medium-weight board game of classic monster mayhem in my Halloween gaming article. Easy to pick up, fun, cooperative play with a decent amount of replayability. Work together to get the hapless villagers to safety while fending off Dracula, the Frankenstein monster and his bride, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, and the Invisible Man.

BUY

Black Angel

Here's one that's on my holiday list. I love the premise of this game. An ark ship, sent from a dying Earth, contains humanity's DNA and the genetic heritage of the entire planet. This precious cargo is all watched over by machines of loving grace. Actually, it's watched over by a committee of competing AIs. The global conflicts that destroyed the world meant that the nations of the Earth couldn't agree on a single AI to mother such an invaluable cargo. Read the rest

Watch Iranian artist Ali Akbar Beigi apply finishing touches to a hyper-realistic oil painting

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Watch Tehran-born artist Ali Akbar Beigi work on this gorgeous hyperrealistic portrait.

This amazing video is identified as “Oil on Canvas by Aliakbar Beigi,” from the Instagram account of the Beigi Academy Of Art.

View this post on Instagram

#oiloncanvas by Aliakbar Beigi #newyorkart #newyorkartist #unitedstates #unitedkingdom #californiaartists #californiaarts #spainart #russiaart #russiaartist #artuniversity #artistsuniversity #artvideo #videoarte #eyepainting #artrenewalcenter #academyofartuniversity

A post shared by Beigi Academy Of Art (@alibeigiart) on Nov 13, 2019 at 3:34am PST

About the artist, from artrenewal.org:

Ali Akbar Beigi was born on July 25, 1982 in an art-loving family in Tehran, Iran. He loved painting since childhood and he spent most of his time on learning this art with well-known art teachers. He developed an interest and a taste for art, when he was 14 years old. Beigi’s professional career as painter started after successfully achieved association degree in art. He established his own gallery and training institute called ‘’Beigi Academy” in 2001 and soon after opened his second branch as a result of high demand and students’ interests. Beigi’s Academy is one of the most prestigious and eminent art classes in Tehran, which is authorized by Ministry of culture in Iran. During the past years, Ali Akbar Beigi has attended 15 collective exhibitions and held 4 successful solo exhibitions in terms of high quality of exhibited artworks and high volume of visitors. He is currently studying Bachelor of fine art in Iran. In addition to that, he attended several workshops and academic courses such as Imperial Academy of Art classes in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Read the rest

These innovative stud finders take the hassles out of hanging

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

With all the revolutionary tech that's out there, it's pretty sad that finding a simple stud in your wall can feel like dowsing for water. This can be equally true whether you're using a magnetic finder and it's reliance on "feel," or an electronic unit that can give fuzzy readings (especially when the batteries are low).

Sometimes a simple tweak is all that an old-school solution needs. That's the hook of the StudPop, a simple stud finder that vastly improves on the traditional magnetic model.

Just move the tiny gadget along the wall, and the magnet on the back gets a pull from the metal in the studs. The difference here is the indicator, a small bubble that pops out and stands straight when the magnet connects. From there, just mark the position and drill away.

The manufacturers sell the unit solo, but they also incorporate two of them into their On the LEVEL device - a real time saver when you're hanging large cabinets or paintings.

Both of them are on sale for well over 20% off the retail price, but you can take an additional 15% off by using the discount code MERRYSAVE15. Read the rest

Here's what a nuclear reactor starting up looks like

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Super neat video here that is identified as “Nuclear reactor starting up (TRIGA).”

Fairly sure there is science involved in this here stuff.

The blue light is from electrons moving through the water causing Cherenkov radiation.

Video: [Triga, Pulse operation, Nuclear reactor 240 MW, 7.12.2012]

“The reactor is brought to criticality and then the transient control rod is forced out. This causes a power pulse of about 500-1000 MW.”

Read the rest

A song about the Tories, for anyone confused about this Thursday's election

Dec 11, 2019

Description:

Andy Moore writes, "My friend the marvelous Ms. Truelove Waits made a song containing election advice for anyone in the UK confused about who to vote for this Thursday." (I am a member of the Labour Party and a donor to the 2019 campaign). Read the rest

Youtube copyright trolls Adrev claim to own a homemade MIDI rendition of 1899's Flight of the Bumblebee

Dec 10, 2019

Description:

Chris Knight recorded a video of the bees in his backyard and wanted to accompany it with a rendition of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's 1899 composition "The Flight of the Bumblebee."

Mindful of the copyright problems that plague Youtube creators who use professionally performed renditions of classical music, Knight made his own version, by feeding the sheet music to a MIDI synthesizer, noting that he'd done so on the page description: "The musical accompaniment is a computer generated audio track created from a MIDI file transcribed from the original score. As the score itself is long out of copyright, and this is not a human performance, you would be blatantly abusing the Youtube copyright system if you attempt to file a claim against this video."

You will never absolutely guess what happened next.

A company called "Adrev" filed an automated claim against Knight's video, through which they were able to force the video to have ads whose revenues were diverted to Adrev's coffers.

There are plenty of weird things about Adrev's act of copyfraud. First, they only claimed copyright on a three-minute chunk of the music (the entire composition is repeated 60 times in the video). Knight hypothesizes that this is a tactic that lets them file a new claim against him if he disputes this one.

Knight's well-versed on the obscure subject of Youtube copyright claims, so he was willing to dispute this one, despite Youtube's dire warning that if he did so and was found to have infringed copyright, he would face a strike against his account, which could lead to its permanent deletion. Read the rest

Genetic genealogy company Gedmatch acquired by company with ties to FBI & law enforcement—why you should be worried

Dec 10, 2019

Description:

[If you thought your relatives' gift of a "smart speaker" was the worst way that a family member could compromise your privacy, think again: home genetic tests can opt your whole bloodline into mass-scale state genetic surveillance, and while there has been some progress into bringing the rule of law into the stuff of life, it's been halting -- and that's bad news, especially as companies that do genetics for spies and cops merge with consumer genomics companies, something that's just happened, as my EFF colleague Jennifer Lynch discusses below, in this crosspost from EFF's Deeplinks blog -Cory]

This week, GEDmatch, a genetic genealogy company that gained notoriety for giving law enforcement access to its customers’ DNA data, quietly informed its users it is now operated by Verogen, Inc., a company expressly formed two years ago to market “next-generation [DNA] sequencing” technology to crime labs.  

What this means for GEDmatch’s 1.3 million users—and for the 60% of white Americans who share DNA with those users—remains to be seen. 

GEDmatch allows users to upload an electronic file containing their raw genotyped DNA data so that they can compare it to other users’ data to find biological family relationships. It estimates how close or distant those relationships may be (e.g., a direct connection, like a parent, or a distant connection, like a third cousin), and it enables users to determine where, along each chromosome, their DNA may be similar to another user. It also predicts characteristics like ethnicity. 

An estimated 30 million people have used genetic genealogy databases like GEDmatch to identify biological relatives and build a family tree, and law enforcement officers have been capitalizing on all that freely available data in criminal investigations. Read the rest

To do in LA, Jan 18: a special screening of Charlie Chaplain's "The Gold Rush" with live, improvised piano accompaniment

Dec 10, 2019

Description:

Heather sends us a notice of "a screening of Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece The Gold Rush, with live musical accompaniment at Hollywood's stunning new venue: The American Legion Theater on Highland Avenue."

For this one-of-a-kind screening, the Chaplin Office has waived their usual requirement that the film be accompanied by recorded music, and has given Retroformat Silent Films' resident Musical Director Cliff Retallick permission to improvise a live, grand piano score! The screening will be introduced by world renowned independent filmmaker and Retroformat Silent Films board member Allison Anders, whose films include Gas Food Lodging, Mi Vida Loca and Grace of My Heart.

In The Gold Rush, Chaplin's immortal Tramp is a lone prospector in the Alaskan Gold Rush, where he meets the beautiful dance hall girl Georgia Hale and becomes trapped in a snowbound cabin, hilariously boiling, carving and eating his own shoe and performing the famous dance-of-the-dinner-rolls, in two of the greatest scenes in movie history.

The Gold Rush was originally released by United Artists in 1925, but in 1942, Chaplin recut and re-released the film, adding a score that he recorded and composed himself, dubbing it the "official version." In 1993, internationally renowned film restorationists, historians and documentarians Kevin Brownlow and David Gill restored the original 1925 version, and it is this restoration that will screen in the beautiful Legion Theater. This event will kick off a series of tributes to the founders of United Artists by Retroformat Silent Films, with subsequent screenings of films by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Mary Pickford and D.W.

Read the rest

These Millennium Falcon ice cubes will melt your Star Wars fanboy heart

Dec 10, 2019

Description:

Do you have any Star Wars fans on your list? Given the reach and output of its new corporate masters these days, it might be easier to ask if there's anyone out there who isn't a Star Wars fan. So let's narrow it down further: Do you know a Star Wars fan who likes to drink?

Still a pretty broad category? Okay, fine. You might want to get several of these Millennium Falcon Ice Molds, then.

Fill these molds with ice, pop them in the freezer, then make that Carbonite "fwoosh" sound as it renders a tiny frozen replica of Han Solo's legendary ride. You can even see the little radar dish.

The possibilities are endless here. Freeze some furry bugs into it and pretend they're Chewbacca! Give it a new paint job by using fruit punch! Or we suppose you could just put them in a glass and use them to keep your drink as cold as Hoth on Christmas.

The Millennium Falcon Ice Molds are already more than 30% off retail, but you can take an extra 15% off the final price by using the discount code MERRYSAVE15. Read the rest

Minor Problem: a punk anthem about Donald Trump's mockery of Greta Thunberg

Dec 10, 2019

Description:

Balazs Sarkadi from the Hungarian band Bankrupt ("a refreshingly energetic blend of 90s indie, hip hop and punk rock") writes, "President Trump mocked Greta Thunberg in a recent tweet, which sparkled the idea of a song in which he elaborates his point of view on climate change in a Twitter rant addressed to Greta. The mash-up music video of Minor Problem by Bankrupt is a funny and at the same time cringey compilation of Trump's most awkward moments and loosely associated footage. Read the rest

NYC paid McKinsey $27.5m to reduce violence at Riker's, producing useless recommendations backed by junk evidence

Dec 10, 2019

Description:

Consulting giant McKinsey -- notorious price-gougers and architects of ICE's gulags -- took on a contract to help reduce violence at Riker's Island, and, $27.5m later, produced nothing but a set of trite and pointless recommendations that were largely ignored, backed by "research" that both McKinsey personnel and Riker's guards helped to falsify.

Though McKinsey and city officials deny any falsification, Propublica's public records requests, interviews with sources with first-hand knowledge, and former corrections commissioner Joseph Ponte's sworn deposition all show that the program's overseers and designers "were cherry-picking docile inmates" to make it seem that the program was working.

The program was called Restart, and it was formulated without any input from inmates or clinic staff "or others with direct insights into drivers of violence." Instead, the McKinsey team observed and communicated with the guards, whose mindset their adopted, attracting censure from a higher-up who warned them off a burgeoning obsession with tasers, shotguns and "aggressive dogs."

McKinsey also produced a high-priced data analytics package for Rikers, which was never put into use -- the $5.5m program crashed the jail's antiquated computers, and relied on technologically unskilled guards and supervisors to correctly input large amounts of data and interpret the analysis the system produced.

Ultimately, McKinsey produced a 14-point plan based on spectacular results from the Restart pilot programs, even as consultants and guards both scrambled to exclude violence-prone prisoners from those test populations, revising their exclusion list whenever there were flare-ups of violence in the test units.

The 14-point plan was pretty anodyne, with things like "improved educational opportunities" and "more guard training." Ultimately, it proved no more useful than the data analytics package. Read the rest

We need to save .ORG from arbitrary censorship by halting the private equity buy-out

Dec 6, 2019

Description:

[The sale of the .ORG top-level domain to a private equity fund run by a bunch of Republican billionaires is a corrupt, revolting perversion. Here, my EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz does an excellent job of explaining what's at stake and how you can take action. -Cory]

The .ORG top-level domain and all of the nonprofit organizations that depend on it are at risk if a private equity firm is allowed to buy control of it. EFF has joined with over 250 respected nonprofits to oppose the sale of Public Interest Registry, the (currently) nonprofit entity that operates the .ORG domain, to Ethos Capital. Internet pioneers including Esther Dyson and Tim Berners-Lee have spoken out against this secretive deal. And 12,000 Internet users and counting have added their voices to the opposition.

What’s the harm in this $1.135 billion deal? In short, it would give Ethos Capital the power to censor the speech of nonprofit organizations (NGOs) to advance commercial interests, and to extract ever-growing monopoly rents from those same nonprofits. Ethos Capital has a financial incentive to engage in censorship—and, of course, in price increases. And the contracts that .ORG operates under don’t create enough accountability or limits on Ethos’s conduct.

Take Action

 SIGN THE PETITION TO DEFEND DOT ORGS

Domain Registries Have Censorship Power

Registries like PIR manage the Internet’s top-level domains under policies set out by ICANN, the governing body for the Internet’s domain name system. Registries have the power to suspend domain names, or even transfer them to other Internet users, subject to their contracts with ICANN. Read the rest

Listen to the sound of one screw falling into a turbine engine

Dec 6, 2019

Description:

This is super neat.

It was originally uploaded in 2010, but became newly viral again this week and the source is so much better than the crapped-out clip that went meme.

Enjoy, unmute, turn up the volume.

From the original video description by AgentJayZ on YouTube:

Rare opportunity to demonstrate a sound that no turbine tech wants to hear... ever!

... because it means you have to get that thing you dropped in there back out. Jet engines are heavy and sensitive, so it's a big deal to lift one up and turn it over, just to hopefully drop out a small piece that some dumbass dropped in there. If that does not work, the engine must be disassembled to the point where the item can be retrieved. This will be an expensive process. ... that's why it's a bad sound.

Index of all videos: http://members.iinet.net.au/~tgard/

[via] Read the rest

Uber says 3,045 sexual assaults involving drivers and passengers reported in U.S. rides last year

Dec 6, 2019

Description:

Women and girls, Uber at your own risk.

In its first safety report released tonight, Uber disclosed the number of sexual assaults, murders and fatal crashes that happened through its ride-sharing platform.

Uber says 3,045 sexual assaults involving Uber drivers and passengers were reported in U.S. rides just last year.

Here's the official report in the Uber newsroom, which came out a few hours ago:

Uber Delivers U.S. Safety Report Written byTony West, Chief Legal Officer

Doing the right thing means counting, confronting, and taking action to end sexual assault. My heart is with every survivor of this all-too-pervasive crime. Our work will never be done, but we take an important step forward today. https://t.co/i8W1fpiU97 (1/3)

— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) December 5, 2019

Today @Uber does what no other tech company has done: voluntarily publish a Safety Report detailing our greatest challenges and how we’re addressing them. Avoiding tough topics like sexual assault is common but we believe it’s time for a new approach.https://t.co/qFqKAlwcY5

— Tony West (@tonywest) December 5, 2019

Thanks for reaching out about the US Safety Report, @MitchGayns. Our Uber Support team isn’t able to answer questions directly, but you can learn more here: https://t.co/aVfEGlNZmV. If you’re interested in Uber’s overall approach to safety, see more at https://t.co/ckryXGfD7m.

— Uber Support (@Uber_Support) December 6, 2019

“The numbers are jarring and hard to digest,” Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview with the New York Times' Kate Conger. “What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.”

Excerpt from the NYT:

The report covered the safety of both riders and drivers.

Read the rest

Radicalized is one of the CBC's best books of 2019!

Dec 6, 2019

Description:

Well this is pretty great! Radicalized, my book of four novellas, is one of the CBC's picks for best Canadian fiction of 2019. It's in pretty outstanding company, too, including Margaret Atwood's The Testaments. Read the rest

Every tech brand should be using a .tech domain

Dec 6, 2019

Description:

In the early days of the web, everyone wanted a .com domain for their site. As a result, all the good ones got snapped up. But .com no longer has the cachet it once did. In fact, many new businesses and individuals are opting for other top-level domain extensions. One of the most memorable is the .tech extension. It's short, it's memorable, and most importantly, it resonates very well with the field of technology. For example, a website on .tech clearly calls out that the website is about technology There are tons of great names on .tech available now, and you owe it to your company to at least check for your dream brand. Right now, you can save on your next domain for your next big idea with $7.99 for 1 year (down from $49.99), $24.99 for 3 years (down from $149.97) and $39.99 for 5 years (down from $249.95).

Start searching for the perfect domain extension here and get your .tech site online today.

  Read the rest

German researchers with ties to for-profit "neuromarketing" company want to use AI to guess peoples' "intelligence" from their writing

Dec 6, 2019

Description:

The annual Germeval natural language processing event solicits German-language "shared tasks"; one of this year's proposed tasks from the University of Hamburg is Prediction of Intellectual Ability and Personality Traits from Text, which proposes to mine test subjects' essays as a predictor of IQ.

The University of Washington computational linguist Emily M Bender does a good job explaining how this is all kinds of wrong, from supporting the racially biased junk science of IQ testing to the ethical implications of mining subjects' text to predict "intelligence."

Bender also points out that one of the people before the shared task, David Scheffer, owns a "neuromarketing" consultancy that offers "automated personality analysis" and "automated personnel selection."

A reply in the thread invokes Frank Pasquale's "Second Wave of Algorithmic Accountability," and Pasquale weighs in: "so much depends on where the corpora come from, what was people's intent when they wrote/spoke, what contestable cultural assumptions are built into assessments of complexity from text."

The proposers of the shared task have posted a reply that is broadly dismissive of the ethical critique of their work, implicitly refusing to contemplate the possibility that it is unethical to undertake the kind of analysis they're doing for the purposes they're interested in, and instead are pleading with their critics for "dialog" about how it could be made ethical. This puts is pretty squarely in Pasquale's "Second Wave" discourse: asking whether something should be done, not how.

During an aptitude test, participants are asked to write freely associated texts to provided questions and images.

Read the rest

UK's oldest ISP blames DoS attack on attempt to suppress human rights report about West Papua (read it now!)

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Greennet (previously) is the oldest ISP in the UK, tracing its origins back to Fidonet, where it was a hub for radical progressive political movements, which has attracted retaliations (in the form of DDoS attacks by repressive states) and surveillance (Greennet was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against GCHQ over surveillance activities that ended with the spy agency "admitting clandestine hacking activities").

Last month, Greennet was taken offline by a massive denial of service attack that it believes was aimed at suppressing this report from Papuans Behind Bars, which documents Indonesian political repression in West Papua, aimed at suppressing an independence movement.

Greennet is calling on the wider internet to spread the word of this report so that the cowardly attempt to silence political reporting through denial of service is not successful.

Numerous political arrests have taken place in 2018 and 2019 as the Indonesian authorities attempt to suppress political protests in West Papua and Indonesia. In particular, treason charges have been used to an unprecedented extent to arrest political activists during August and September this year, in response to an apparent increase in support across Indonesia for the West Papuan self-determination struggle. Foreign as well as local human rights advocates are being subjected to similar scrutiny.

Papuans Behind Bars (PBB) documents and identifies Papuan political prisoners/ detainees in order to bring to light their cases, and also monitors for fair and free trials. The people involved in gathering the data are lawyers from non-profit, independent legal aid institutions in West Papua who also provide legal assistance to political prisoners, human rights advocates and activists.

Read the rest

Cattle guard doesn't work

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Cattle guards are designed to keep cows from crossing them. They don't work if the cow is as smart as this one.

When it's not your first cattle guard

Image: Imgur Read the rest

"Dr. Penis" explains different types of penis enlargement procedures

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

In this Vice video, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Rowe (aka "Dr. Penis") talks about the different ways people unsatisfied with the size of their penis can make them bigger.

Photo by Charles on Unsplash Read the rest

McKinsey bills the US government $3m a year for anodyne advice from 23-year-old college grads

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

McKinsey made more than $20m helping ICE design its gulags, advising them to skimp on medical care, food and supervision in a cost-savings measure. But if Uncle Sugar really wants to save some money, it should fire McKinsey, which is by far the most expensive consultancy with a US government contract.

Ordinary beltway bandits like the Boston Consulting Group charge $33,063.75/week for consulting from just-hired, recent college grads. But McKinsey bills out the same kind of consulting at $56,707/week ($2,948,764/year).

As Matt Stoller (previously) writes, the one thing McKinsey is really good at is figuring out how to bill its government clients at rates that vastly exceed the caps set by law and policy, which is how they've grossed $956.2m in US government contracts from 2006 until now, a figure so high that the General Services Administration’s Inspector General recommended that all McKinsey contracts with the US government should be canceled (they weren't) (yet).

Stoller explains how McKinsey used its insider contacts to overrule GSA managers who refused McKinsey's requests for a 10-14% hike on its IT services, finding a GSA Division Director who would lie to the inspector general, "manipulate pricing data, break rules on sole source contracting, and pitch various other government agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to buy McKinsey services" (that director was quoted as saying, "My only interest is helping out my contractor").

The reason that federal officials are happy to see McKinsey gouge all of us is that their departmental budgets are partly set through the Industrial Funding Fee, a Clinton initiative that was supposed to encourage "entrepreneurship" in federal contracting by awarding the GSA 75% of the funds it spent on contractors as a bonus to its budget (this has led to widespread collusion between GSA officials and contractors to raise prices). Read the rest

Kickstarting a new edition of Steve Jackson Games's Car Wars

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

I grew up on RPGs, not tabletop strategy games, but the one exception was Car Wars, a dystopian science fiction game where you kit out vehicles with weapons and then fight them in giant duelling pits or in freeway battles. I loved Car Wars and played it like crazy.

Now, Steve Jackson Games (previously) is kickstarting a sixth edition of Car Wars, set in a fallen USA in 2069, dominated by "wilderness lawlessness, banditry, regional dictators, and of the men and women who combat them." The sixth edition includes rules, detailed miniature plastic model cars, player dashboards, and card-decks for internal damage. Stretch goals include custom six sided dice (a set of 20!), extra tokens, a new collision system and a 36"x36" playspace -- at higher levels, they're going to add more minis and extra rules.

$75 gets you the game, $140 gets you the game plus various expansion elements, $400 gets you the current game as well as reissues of the original pocket-box sets. It's Steve Jackson Games, so I'm totally sanguine about their ability to fulfill this, though of course crowdfunders are never guaranteed.

After six years of design, development, playtesting, and constant refinement and improvement, we've completed the core of the new Car Wars Sixth Edition game and we're now ready for your support.

The new core game includes:

* 24-page rulebook, covering everything from building your car to movement and combat. All of the rules you need to start playing the game within moments of opening the box!

Read the rest

Good deal on Kindle Unlimited

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

The Kindle Unlimited program is $10 a month, and it gives you access to over a million books and comics on Amazon. Amazon is currently offering a deal: 3 months for 99 cents a month. The program includes a lot of popular books: the Harry Potter series, The Handmaid's Tale, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and even comics, like Kelly Sue DeConnick's Captain Marvel and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Read the rest

Visualization of the world's richest people has a surprise ending

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

I was sure Bezos would have the number one spot in this animated comparison of billionaires' net worth. But $131 billion doesn't cut it.

(I recommend watching the video at double speed.  To do that, hover over the YouTube player window, click the gear, then click Playback speed and choose 2X.) Read the rest

Mint: late-stage adversarial interoperability demonstrates what we had (and what we lost)

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

In 2006, Aaron Patzer founded Mint. Patzer had grown up in the city of Evansville, Indiana—a place he described as "small, without much economic opportunity"—but had created a successful business building websites. He kept up the business through college and grad school and invested his profits in stocks and other assets, leading to a minor obsession with personal finance that saw him devoting hours every Saturday morning to manually tracking every penny he'd spent that week, transcribing his receipts into Microsoft Money and Quicken.

Patzer was frustrated with the amount of manual work it took to track his finances with these tools, which at the time weren't smart enough to automatically categorize "Chevron" under fuel or "Safeway" under groceries. So he conceived on an ingenious hack: he wrote a program that would automatically look up every business name he entered into the online version of the Yellow Pages—constraining the search using the area code in the business's phone number so it would only consider local merchants—and use the Yellow Pages' own categories to populate the "category" field in his financial tracking tools.

It occurred to Patzer that he could do even better, which is where Mint came in. Patzer's idea was to create a service that would take all your logins and passwords for all your bank, credit union, credit card, and brokerage accounts, and use these logins and passwords to automatically scrape your financial records, and categorize them to help you manage your personal finances. Read the rest

Feline scientist investigates refraction

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Cue "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." We've found Moonwatcher of the feline world.

Cat Scientist from r/likeus

Read the rest

Buy the cheap orange foundation Trump uses

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Xeni just posted a link to the Washington Post's story about Trump's undocumented personal servants, who spilled the beans on his personal oddities. It revealed the brand of makeup he uses as Bronx Color, a premium-mediocre Swiss brand with a perfect "Alaska Fried Chicken"-esque name to evoke American panache for eurotrash customers.

Here's a link to what I suspect is what's slathered on the presidential chops: the Nutmeg WPF06 Waterproof foundation [bronxcolors.com]. It's about 14 euros and heaven knows if they'll ship it to the States. It's occasionally found at Amazon but currently sold out.

Bronx Color is already milking the mention, but to push a product that is too orange, even by Trumpian standards, to be the one he uses all over.

Read the rest

Incredible: Watch a woman nonchalantly step aside as out-of-control car barrels toward her

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Never let them see you sweat. Read the rest

Owners of Tron: Evolution game can't play it because of DRM fuckery

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Tron: Evolution is a Disney video-game that comes with the notorious Securerom DRM (previously). Thanks to unspecified DRM issues, anyone who bought the game but didn't activate it can no longer do so, a situation that has been known since at least October. Disney says they're working on a patch but won't commit to a release date. Of course, people who didn't pay for the game and downloaded a cracked version instead aren't having any problems. (Image: Disney) (via /.) Read the rest

Perhaps folks are getting a bit over invested in Baby Yoda

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

I am a big fan of seeing what happens when a super-powerful force user is raised by a mass murderer. Read the rest

Apple's extension of "Activation Locks" to laptops will turn refurbishable electronics into e-waste

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

"Activation Lock" is a tool that uses Apple's trusted computing hardware to render systems inoperable if you don't have a login/password; nominally, this is used for theft-deterrence, but when Apple product owners fail to disable Activation Lock when they dispose of their equipment, it becomes effectively impossible to refurbish or repair, dooming it to become e-waste.

This is exacerbated by Apple's own poor documentation and UI for Activation Lock, which is most prominently documented in a brief mention at the bottom of this support page. Many users are unaware of Activation Lock, and it's easy to overlook disabling it when wiping and disposing of a device.

Activation Lock has been an Iphone-only feature, but as of this fall, Mac laptops equipped with the T2 security chip and running Apple's "Catalina" OS will have Activation Lock on by default, which means that a ton of Apple computers are about to join Apple's phones on the scrapheap.

Activation Lock goes beyond the firmware lock that some Apple laptops have used to date -- repairers have been able to bypass firmware locks with a complicated procedure (using special tools similar to those that Apple has previously characterized as illegal under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans bypassing DRM), but that won't work for Activation Lock.

Peter Schindler of the repair advocacy group The Wireless Alliance suggests that Apple could fix this by giving certified refurbishers unlock codes for the T2 chip (Apple is able to unlock T2/Activation Lock lockups in its own repair centers). Read the rest

Norway gifts Britain amusingly sparse Christmas tree

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Every year, Norway sends Britain an enormous Christmas tree in thanks for kicking out the Nazis, but this year they sent a hilariously sparse, shabby one.

"Britain's most famous Christmas tree" has been branded a turkey over its "sparse" foliage and "anaemic" appearance. ... The British Ambassador to Norway, Richard Wood said: "This is what 90-year-old, 25m trees in the wild look like.

"It is important to consider the symbolism of the tree rather than simply how many branches it has."

Symbolism indeed. Norway isn't even in the EU but it's leading the way for next year's Brexit-themed go fuck yourself gestures from the continent.

Read the rest

Los Angeles: Dr. Zaius hosts 'Christmas with a Z'

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Supporting Swing Left-Los Feliz and Field Team 6, Dana Gould will be hosting a fantastic night of entertainment as the loveable ape Dr. Zaius!

Come see Christmas with a Z!

From the release:

EMMY AWARD-WINNER DANA GOULD

AS “DR. ZAIUS” HOSTS

“CHRISTMAS WITH A Z!”

AN EVENING OF HOLIDAY MUSIC, COMEDY AND COCKTAILS

TO BENEFIT FIELD TEAM 6

WITH SPECIAL GUESTS

NATASHA LEGGERO PUDDLES PITY PARTY KATE WILLETT

THE POUBELLE TWINS 2 HEADED DOG TOM KENNY TRACK IX

ANDY PALEY ORCHESTRA SEÑOR AMOR THE BACH STREET BOYS

ONE NIGHT ONLY!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2019

AT THE SATELLITE IN SILVER LAKE

PRESENTED BY SWING LEFT-LOS FELIZ AND STAND UP 4 AMERICA

Read the rest

Six-year-old brought a loaded gun to school for show-and-tell

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

In Roswell, New Mexico, a six-year-old elementary school student carried a loaded revolver to class. According to police, the student had "no malicious intent" but rather brought in the gun for show-and-tell. According to KOB4, the police confiscated the weapon, notified the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, and "escorted the parent and student to their home for further follow up and investigation."

You'd think it goes without saying, but apparently not: If you have children in your house and insist on keeping firearms around, lock them the fuck up. Read the rest

Tiktok took less than a day to settle parents' lawsuit over spying on their kids

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Yesterday Bytedance, the company that acquired the tween-centric app Musica.ly and relaunched it as Tiktok, was been sued by a parents' group for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by gathering, storing, and selling private information about their children. Today, they settled the case on terms that have not been disclosed.

Bytedance/Tiktok/Musica.ly was fined $5.7m by the FTC last February for COPPA violations, and went on to obliterate its youngest users' hard work in a massive fuck-you to both the regulator and its users.

The company has been suborned by the Chinese government as a propaganda tool, and recently launched a PR campaign aimed at reassuring foreigners that they have nothing to fear from the company, which was promptly undermined by the company's global takedown of a teen's viral Tiktok video about Uyghur ethnic cleansing in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Tiktok has actually been an important tool for monitoring Chinese human rights abuses, though the Chinese state has imposed new censorship rules on the service that will make it much harder to share information about these abuses.

Yesterday, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published a deep technical analysis of Tiktok's surveillance activities, revealing that the company collects an enormous amount of information on its users, and illegally shares that information with multiple entities all over the world, in violation of Europe's General Privacy Data Regulation (GDPR).

ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, which it later rebranded as the enormously popular social video app TikTok. According to the December 3rd complaint, ByteDance has collected data from Musical.ly users under the age of 13 without their parents’ explicit consent “since at least 2014” and sold the data to third-party advertisers.

Read the rest

Watch police try to catch runaway pig

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

A resident of Erie County, Ohio called police on Tuesday when she spotted a large pig outside her back door. The police attempted to capture the suspect but as body cam footage (below) shows, it was no easy task. Eventually, the sheriffs used apples to lure the pig into a barn and located the animal's owner.

"We try and avoid pigs," said Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth.

Read the rest

Woman whose vulva was probed by Burbank TSA "officers" who ignored her refusal sues

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Last September, Jessica Lundquist passed through a body-scanner at Burbank airport and was told by a TSA screener that they wanted to conduct a "groin search" on her.

Lundquist refused to allow the screener to touch her vulva, whereupon the screener summoned two colleagues. The "officers" (the TSA styles its employees as "officers" even though they do not have any law-enforcement powers) told Lundquist that if she did not allow them to touch her genitals, they would use physical force to perform the search, and also told her she was not allowed to leave. They also refused to allow her to make a video-record of the search.

All of this conduct was illegal. The TSA is not allowed to detain travelers who wish to abandon their trips. The TSA is required to allow passengers to record their searches. The TSA is absolutely not allowed to use physical force to effect searches when passengers object to them.

Lundquist has filed suit against the TSA, through her attorney Jon Corbett (previously), an activist-turned-lawyer who first came to fame when he demonstrated how easy it was to undetectably smuggle dangerous weapons through TSA full-body scanners, and went on to sue the TSA on behalf of a grandmother who was involuntarily strip-searched by the Tulsa TSA on Mother's Day, 2018.

I live in Burbank and fly in and out of the Burbank airport regularly. This is incredibly disturbing on its own, but doubly so that the TSA staffers involved could be my screeners next week. Read the rest

Boing Boing's 28 favorite books in 2019

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

Here's 28 of our favorites from the last year – not all of them published in the last year, mind you – from fairy-tales to furious politics and everything in between, including the furious fairy-tale politics getting between everything. The links here include Amazon Affiliate codes; this helps us make ends meet at Boing Boing, the world's greatest neurozine.

1: Arcade Game Typography

Toshi Omagari and Leo Field's book offers a definitive view in print of the clean, colorful pixelated fonts of arcade games from the 1970s to the 1990s. It's full of gorgeous-looking full-color spreads (with grids!) -- both a beautiful item and a formal tour of a distinctive artform. Hit games (such as Super Sprint, Pac-Man, After Burner, Marble Madness and Shinobi) are represented, but the best part is the technology of pixel type, whose colorful details make sure this is unlike any other typography book. — Rob

Arcade Game Typography [Read Only Memory]

Arcade Game Typography [Amazon]

2: The Testaments

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. "A story of hope, resistance, complicity and rage, it's been worth the wait." — Cory

The Testaments [Amazon]

3: Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms

John Hodgman's book-length memoir of his dwindling privilege after his TV career petered out is both hilarious and deadly serious, as much an indictment of elitism as it is a frank hymn to the pleasures of it — Cory

Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms [Amazon]

4: The Comic Book Story of Video Games goes deep

an entertaining full-color book about the roots of video games. Read the rest

This week Trump said he didn't know Prince Andrew. In 2000 Trump said "he's a lot of fun to be with."

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

On Tuesday Trump told reporters "I don't know Prince Andrew, but it's a tough story. It's a very tough story."

In 2000 he told People Prince Andrew is “not pretentious. He’s a lot of fun to be with.”

From Business Insider: "Despite the president's claim not to know Andrew, there are numerous photos showing the two men attending functions and chatting together effusively in February 2000 and June 2018."

See also: Here are photos of Trump with Prince Andrew, who he says he does not know Read the rest

Advice column question: "A Now-Famous Comedian Terrorized Me After I Rejected His Advances 20 Years Ago"

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

In Slate's latest Dear Prudence advice column, a woman writes in to ask if she should tell her husband that a famous comedian he admires (and for whose show he bought tickets for his wife and him to attend) treated her viciously 20 years ago:

“Jake” fell in love with me and reacted very angrily when I told him I’d like to remain friends. He’d lash out if he learned I’d done anything with another friend, and he’d turn vicious if that friend was male. I was always scared of upsetting him, because he had a really awful temper, which our mutual friends always downplayed. I eventually broke off contact after I was nearly raped and Jake told me I deserved it.

She says "'Jake' has become a much beloved public figure in the entertainment industry. He’s 'woke,' challenges people like Louis C.K., and is, as he always was, very funny."

Prudence's advice: "I think you need to tell your husband the truth of your 'friendship' with Jake, and ask that he tell your closest friends whichever version of this story you are comfortable is both true and also protective of your own privacy and emotional well-being."

Image by andresilva5 from Pixabay Read the rest

List of popular books people started reading and then abandoned

Dec 5, 2019

Description:

When I was younger, I would feel so badly about abandoning a book that didn't grab me, I'd force myself to slog through it until the bitter end. Then I realized that there are only so many books I'll have time to read in my lifetime so it's better to make each one count. If I'm not consistently pulled into the pages, I drop the book and crack another one. Of course there are exceptions, but it mostly means that I've enjoyed nearly all the books I've finished reading in recent years. Related, here is Goodreads' list of the most popular books users of the service have abandoned.

(via Kottke) Read the rest

This Device Turns Your iPhone Into a High-Quality Audio Recorder

Nov 30, 2019

Description:

Normally speaking, recording audio with your phone is a last resort. The built-in mic simply wasn’t designed for picking up guitar riffs and powerful vocals. However, the Shure MV88 Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone adds the necessary hardware for high-quality audio recordings. Made for iOS devices, this accessory is a must-have for any musician — and it's currently 19% off for Black Friday, priced at $149.

With matched cardioid and bi-directional 0.4" (1cm) cartridges, the MV88 can capture speech and song with remarkable clarity. The all-metal mic plugs into the Lightning port of your iPhone or iPad, with a hinge that allows you to find the perfect recording angle.

The MV88 is suitable for recording speech, singing, acoustic instruments, and many other sounds. The mic automatically optimizes EQ, compression, and limiting, and there are five different presets to choose from. 

The free ShurePlus MOTIV app offers fine control over these settings, along with 24-bit/48 kHz .wav (uncompressed) recording.

The Shure MV88 is perfect for musicians, podcasters, and anyone who needs high-quality audio. It retails for $186, but you can get it now for $149 over Black Friday. Read the rest

Learn a new language in 2020 with Babbel and save extra for Black Friday

Nov 30, 2019

Description:

As one year draws to a close and a new year is about to begin, it's common to assess what you've accomplished and start to set new goals. And whether you have the resolution to travel more, gain international work opportunities or strike up a conversation with your grandparents in their native tongue, there are many benefits to picking up a new language. Most people hit a point in learning a new language where progress comes to a screeching halt because it's difficult to maintain the consistency of practice — but Babbel was developed by expert linguists with a focus on making learning a new language both intuitive and accessible.

Babbel is the top-grossing language learning app in the world because it not only gives users 24/7 access to learn, develop and practice speaking and reading skills at any time, but it also breaks the lessons down into digestible chunks. You can practice in 10-15 minute-long increments that can fit into the busiest schedule and keep your pronunciation on point with speech recognition technology.

Go from a beginner to an advanced understanding of your pick of 14 languages ranging from Spanish and French, to Italian and German — and take your time learning, since this subscription gives you lifetime access to try your hand at all of them if you want to. The lessons cover a wide range of useful real-life topics that you can use to chat up locals, from travel to family, business to food and more.

Reinforce your learning with personalized review sessions and the freedom to study wherever and whenever you want: Babbel synchronizes your progress across your devices and even lets you access courses offline. Read the rest

15 eLearning bundles on sale for 60% off for Black Friday

Nov 30, 2019

Description:

Between presents for your family and dedicating your free time to your friends, the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is a reinvestment towards what fuels and nourishes you. We couldn't think of anything better than learning new skills or developing new hobbies for the new year, so we rounded up 15 eLearning bundles that not only offer a wide range of compelling content, they're on sale for an extra 60% off using coupon code BFSAVE60.

Read more below.

The Complete Python Certification Bootcamp Bundle

Learning to code can offer you impressive opportunities for career advancement, and the Complete Python Certification Bootcamp Bundle is an enormous resource that covers all things Python in 85 hours. You'll learn to manipulate data, derive business insights from raw data and more.

MSRP: $2030 Sale Price: $34.99 Price with BFSAVE60: $14

The Complete Tableau 10 Data Science Bundle

Tableau 10 is a tool widely used by companies to inform their decision-making, and this Complete Tableau 10 Data Science Bundle shows you how to use the platform to break down raw information into clear, actionable insights. Visualize data with dashboards, create charts, set up advanced calculations and more.

MSRP: $623.96 Sale Price: $19 Price with BFSAVE60: $7.60

The Complete Digital Marketing Super Bundle

Market yourself (or your company) like an expert with the Complete Digital Marketing Super Bundle: it covers everything from how to send effective email blasts with MailChimp to breaking down how to use Google AdWords to give your products and services more visibility. Read the rest

Cards Against Humanity's Thanksgiving livestream pits a machine learning model against human joke writers

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Cards Against Humanity asked Spencer Kelly to teach a computer to write mean, funny joke-cards for a new, AI-based expansion pack to the game; Kelly trained the popular GPT-2 generative language model (previously) on existing cards, and now the company is livestreaming a 16-hour competition between its AI and its human joke-writers, with a voting system to up/downvote the resulting jokes (at the end of the day, these votes will be "tallied up and thrown in the garbage"). You can choose to buy the resulting packs, and if the human team outsells the robots, it will receive a $5,000 bonus. If they fail, they will all be fired.

Presumably, the last part is a joke (the CAH folks are extremely good eggs and they pull weird pranky stunts every Black Friday).

CAH has also opened a board-game cafe in Chicago with two escape rooms, a full bar, and high-quality kitchen, which is pretty danged exciting.

Cards Against Humanity's Black Friday A.I. Challenge Read the rest

Short documentary about famous live concert bootlegger

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Today is Black Friday Record Store Day and The National released a three-cassette box set titled The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24-25, 2018. But this isn't a typical soundboard recording. The National commissioned archivist Erik Flannigan to record their shows using techniques developed by famed bootlegger Mike "The Mic" Millard who died in 1994. Millard's recordings of concerts by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones -- which he never sold himself, although they were sometimes resold by others -- are considered some of the greatest concert bootlegs of all time. Above, a short documentary by Flannigan and filmmaker David DuBois about Mallard's life's work and The National's release. The illustrations are by my pal Jess Rotter, animated by Eben McCue. In the liner notes, Flannigan wrote:

Millard’s legend is built in part on the cunning and subterfuge he used to get his nearly 15-pound cassette deck and microphones into venues like the The Forum, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and The Roxy.

For years I have pondered what made Millard’s recordings so good, and eventually I had an idea: What if you recorded a concert today with the same equipment Millard used in 1977? Would it sound like his tapes? Would it tap into his Midas touch?

The National was kind enough to let us test the Millard Method for two concerts at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California last September. These live recordings were made with vintage AKG 451E microphones and a restored Nakamichi 550 cassette deck which are identical to those used by Millard circa 1975-81.

Read the rest

Good deal on these teeth whitening strips

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

With all the tea and coffee I drink, I use teeth whitening strips once a year or so. They work really well for me. I can see a noticeable difference after using them just once. Amazon has a good deal on the Crest 3D White Whitestrips Vivid Plus Teeth Whitening Kit, which has 12 treatments. Read the rest

Eye exams in the United States are a scam

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

In many countries you can buy inexpensive eyeglasses and contact lenses without a prescription. That's not the case in the United States. In 2016 the American Optometric Association (AOA) spent $1.8 million lobbying and another $1.4 million in campaign contributions to ensure corrective lenses are expensive for Americans, and therefore highly profitable. Yascha Mounk, a contributing writer at The Atlantic, writes in her article, "The Great American Eye-Exam Scam:"

When I last went to an eye exam at a storefront optician in the United States, for example, the staff gave me the hard sell on glasses that would have cost hundreds of dollars, as well as on contact lenses that were much more expensive than identical ones sold by online retailers. Thankfully, I knew that two laws, one passed in 1997 and the other in 2003—which had, incidentally, been loudly opposed by the AOA—gave me the right to demand a copy of my prescription. I stood firm, and later went online to order perfectly fine glasses and contact lenses at a fraction of the price. But how many customers give in to heavy-handed sales tactics?

After reading this article, I ordered one of these vision checkers for $35, so I can test my vision and order eyeglasses online for a fraction of what it costs at a brick and mortar store.

Photo by nrd on Unsplash Read the rest

Wealthy people are the most likely to give "spiteful gifts"

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Finder reports that Americans waste $13 billion every year buying gifts that the recipients don't want. The most interesting part of the report was the section about "spiteful gifts," that is gifts that the giver knows the recipient will dislike:

Interestingly, we found that 15% of Americans — roughly 38 million people — have deliberately bought a present knowing their recipient wouldn’t like it. Men are about four times more likely than women to intentionally gift a bad present, with 25% of men surveyed saying they’d done it in the past, versus about 6% of women.

Of the generations, Gen Xers are most likely to knowingly give bad gifts, with 22% admitting they’ve done so. That’s only slightly higher than the rate for Gen Y (18%) but 11 times higher than the rate for boomers (2%).

Those with money to burn — people earning $100,000 to $150,000 — are most likely to buy spiteful presents, with 28% saying they’d done so. That’s almost three times higher than those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 (11%) and almost five times higher than those earning between $25,000 and $50,000 (6%).

Read the rest

The incredible optical illusion muralist of Odeith

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Odeith is an artist in Portugal who paints ultra realistic murals. His portfolio has many examples of his work.

His Instagram account also has lots of photos of his paintings.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ODEITH (@odeith) on Oct 14, 2019 at 9:36am PDT

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ODEITH (@odeith) on Jun 12, 2019 at 10:06am PDT

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ODEITH (@odeith) on Apr 15, 2019 at 9:28am PDT

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Maps of the lost streetcar and subway systems of North America

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Jake Berman writes, "I've drawn a series of maps showing the lost streetcar and subway systems of North America." He's selling them as prints.

Read the rest

Italian cops raid neo-Nazis, find rifles, swords and Nazi literature

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

An Italian police raid of 19 homes of members of the Italian National Socialist Workers' Party uncovered troves of weapons, Nazi literature, and books about Hitler and Mussolini. "The self-styled party aimed to form a pan-European alliance with other xenophobic and anti-Semitic groups, police said, without revealing how many people had joined it. Tne suspect allegedly had links with the 'Ndrangheta criminal network while another, a 50-year-old woman, called herself Hitler's sergeant-major." (Thanks, Kathy Padilla!) Read the rest

Writer asks for an exclusive trademark on the use of the word "dark" in "Series of fiction works, namely, novels and books"

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Christine Feehan is the author of several bestselling series, including one simply called "Dark" -- in her trademark application with the USPTO, she has applied for the exclusive right to use the word "Dark" (in "standard characters without claim to any particular font style, size, or color") in "Series of fiction works, namely, novels and books."

Literally thousands of books have the word "dark" in their titles, including several series such as Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials and Stephen King's Dark Tower books.

In 2018, the independent author Faleena Hopkins created a stir when she trademarked the term "cocky" in connection with book titles, and then used the trademark to attack fellow authors who, it turned out, were part of a group of Amazon Kindle Unlimited writers who had colluded to boost sales by gaming the keyword system (Hopkins later lost her trademark).

Hopkins isn't alone: the Austin-based erotic fantasy author Michael-Scott Earle sought a trademark on "Dragon Slayer" in book titles, and then a trademark on any book cover featuring a person holding a weapon. (In both cases he was denied his mark).

Feehan's application has not yet been assigned to an examiner. It was filed on her behalf by Greg Mavronicolas, a New York based attorney from the Mavronicolas Law Group PLLC.

USPTO application 88699997

This person is trying to trademark the word "dark" so only they can use it in titles.https://t.co/FWtf5e8azeMeanwhile, on Amazon: 1-16 of over 40,000 results for Books : "dark"

— Cat Rambo (@Catrambo) November 28, 2019 Read the rest

You can pick up a Steam Controller for five bucks now

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

When I was a younger, much less experienced man, I bought a Steam controller. It cost me close to $100 in Canadian funds, but I thought it'd be well worth it. A controller that's great, according to the propaganda, for playing everything from point-and-click adventure games to the latest shooters? Who the hell wouldn't want that?

As it turns out, I did not want that.

I used it a few times before breaking down and buying an Xbox wireless controller to use instead. I dug that the Steam Controller allowed you to pretty much map PC game to it to allow for some epic couch gaming sessions. I loathed how cheap it felt and that, even when it was properly mapped to my PC games, It's poor accuracy made for a shitty gaming experience.

From Engadget:

Four years after Valve released its oddball Steam Controller, it's not making any more. The controller is on sale today for $5 -- that's 90 percent off its list price of $49.99 -- and a note in the Steam Store warns that there's a limited quantity remaining. Once those controllers are gone, Valve doesn't plan to make more, The Verge reports.

While most reviewers originally wrote the Steam Controller off as too weird, Valve sold over 500,000 in the first six months. It became one of the most configurable gaming devices -- you could play Street Fighter V strictly with motion controls or Serious Rocket League with the grips programmed for acceleration/brake and drift/boost.

Read the rest

Defense contractors gleefully report record earnings in divisions that bid on "classified" projects, the fastest-growing part of the Pentagon's budget

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Classified Pentagon spending is the fastest-growing part of the US military budget, rising to 11% of the total $716b proposed for 2020; this spending is not subject to oversight and House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith [D-WA] says it leads to waste.

Unsurprisingly, these black budgets are solid gold for defense contractors and other beltway bandits, whose shareholder disclosures include chortling celebrations of the record profits they're receiving for classified projects, with classified divisions growing than any other part of their businesses.

Raytheon boasts of "record classified bookings of nearly $7 billion" (up 46% in one year!). Northrup Grumman says its extra $1b in profit this year is largely due to its contributions to secret weapons programs.

But Lockheed is doing best of all, with its $600b "hypersonic weapon technology" contract mushrooming to $1b next year, and more in the pipeline.

For example, an uptick in classified deals have Lockheed Martin’s missiles and Skunk Works Advanced Development Programs divisions “growing faster than the corporation,” CFO Ken Possenriede said on a Tuesday conference call with Wall Street analysts.

This year, Lockheed received about $600 million for secret work to develop hypersonic weapon technology and prototypes. Next year, that’s expected to grow to “about $1 billion,” Possenriede said. And that’s just for weapons under development and not yet in serial production.

Possenriede also touted the potential for counter-hypersonic weapon work.

As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in [Marcus Weisgerber/Defenseone]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Tracy O, CC BY-SA, modified) Read the rest

Meet the Krazy Klown Kavalcade of racists, homophobes, islamophobes and transphobes serving as appointed South Carolina magistrates

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

South Carolina's system of appointed magistrates allows the state senate to appoint "judges" with no legal training, some of whom cannot pass a basic competency test on the first try, to hear over 800,000 cases a year; the magistrates are appointed and re-appointed without a background check (there's also a loophole that let some judges escape even that reappointment hearing, serving for 20 years without undergoing the process), allowing them to serve even after grave judicial misconduct.

The Post and Courier's Joseph Cranney has rounded up the dismal record of some of the state's magistrates, with particular emphasis on former state rep and retired cop Mike Pitts, whose public statements in the state house and on social media include saying that Cory Booker "alway [sic] looks like he just hit crack real hard"; complaining about seeing "people from the middle east in Walmart...after being subject to this incident I now support shutting down all immigration until we stop the demise of our culture"; "[transgender people] aren’t sure what the hell they are."

In office, Pitts tried to block the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse after the 2015 mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston; he proposed legislation to force journalists to register with the state; and he co-sponsored a 2018 bill "requiring South Carolina lawmakers to consider seceding from the Union if the federal government 'confiscates legally purchased firearms.'"

When Pitts retired from political life, he complained that he was having trouble finding a job, and made an unsuccessful bid for a patronage appointment as head of the South Carolina land conservation agency -- but found the background check too onerous (he called it an "aggressive inquisition" and blamed it for his failure to recover from a heart attack, saying that thanks to the background checks, "I tired quickly and realized that my cognitive skills have been affected."). Read the rest

Elisabeth Moss gets driven crazy in The Invisible Man

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Universal's attempts to make their shared Dark Universe full of updated iterations of classic movie monsters, has so far, been kind of a failure. Sure The Mummy was flashy and filled with big names. but its script was lacking in the substance that made the original film so great. And while it wasn't a Dark Universe film, Universal's The Wolfman suffered from the same problem.  From the looks of things, Universal's intellectual property losing streak may well change with The Invisible Man.

If the trailer is anything to go by,iIt looks to be full of suspense and possesses a plot that might put bums in seats once the reviews come in. That Elisabeth Moss, versatile actor that she is, has been cast as the lead gives me hope that maybe this will be a Universal monster movie worth the price of admission. Read the rest

Sale on the Voyager Golden Record LP and CD sets and The Family Acid: California photobook!

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

After producing the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, my buddy Tim Daly and I launched a record/publishing label, Ozma Records, to publish creative works at the intersection of science, art, music, and consciousness. Today through Monday, we're having a special holiday sale on all of our releases! This is a rare opportunity to save 15% on the Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Box Set, the Voyager Golden Record 2xCD-Book edition, and our new limited photobook The Family Acid: California!

Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Box Set

In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. Experience the Voyager Record the way it was meant to be played.

• Three translucent gold 140 gram vinyl LPs, containing all of the original Voyager Record audio, in poly-lined paper sleeves • Three heavyweight jackets, gold ink on black • Full-color 96-page softcover book containing all images included on the original Voyager Interstellar Record, gallery of images transmitted back from the Voyager probes, and a new essay by Timothy Ferris, producer of the original golden record • Gold foil print of Voyager Golden Record cover diagram, archival paper, 12" x 12" • Voyager trajectories turntable slipmat, gold ink on black felt • Full-color plastic digital download card for all audio of the Voyager Golden Record (MP3 or FLAC formats) • Housed in a deluxe record box with pull-ribbon, gold ink on black • Includes free Voyager Golden Record diagram pin! Read the rest

Someone has finally broken the Guinness World Record for long-distance throwing of a hot dog sausage in a bun

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

It's kind of remarkable that the Guinness Book of Records has managed to secure such a prominent place in our culture, considering it was literally invented to encourage people to argue over inane shit at the pub (particularly when drinking Guinness).

But here I am, in the Year of Our Lord Blade Runner, tearfully cheering on Amber VanHemel as she finally achieves her year-long dream of breaking the World Record for throwing a hot dog sausage over the longest distance while still nestled snugly in its bun.

Hot dog! Another world record SHATTERED at #MIT! Phoebe Li & Amber VanHemel broke the world record for "longest throw & catch of a hot dog/sausage into a bun." Previous record = 32.106 meters. Phoebe and Amber threw for 36.9 meters! #thisismit #guinnessrecord #worldrecord pic.twitter.com/LbCoBcupTj

— MIT CEE (@MIT_CEE) November 25, 2019

I'm not sure why Guinness felt the need to specify hot dog sausage, though perhaps it's to differentiate from a hot dog sandwich, the existence of which continues to reign as the greatest controversy of the modern era. Guinness has tracked plenty of other hot dog-related records without this same linguistic clarification—in fact, this particular feat of Olympian athleticism is the only Guinness record accompanied by that sausage qualifier. Along with this specificity, Guinness also included a size requirement—the hot dog sausage must measure between 5.5 and 7 inches in length, and be fully cooked when thrown.

According to the Boston Globe, VanHemel is currently a graduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, where also pitched softball as an undergrad. Read the rest

Woman calls cops on black UPS driver because "walking around with a bunch of packages" makes her "nervous"

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

In this video posted to instagram, a woman calls the cops on a UPS driver because "I don't understand why you're walking around with a bunch of packages".

This woman legit called the cops on a Black UPS driver for working while Black.

No seriously😳

She said he “looked suspicious,” & then finally seemed to back off when a white UPS driver told her she’s wrong.

She looms up on him, variously keeps her hands in her pockets or waves them around in his face, rolls up her sleeves, grins, tells him where she lives, and says: you're making me nervous. The excuse that police use to justify killing people, cued up by a belligerent bigot who, when she realizes he's not going to react negatively to her provocations, calls the police.

Also, now you know why your packages are late.

This woman legit called the cops on a Black UPS driver for working while Black.

No seriously😳

She said he “looked suspicious,” & then finally seemed to back off when a white UPS driver told her she’s wrong. 🤦🏽‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/7jaPiA5sWu

— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) November 27, 2019

Read the rest

That time Charlton Comics published a trans sci-fi story in 1953

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Back in September, a rare print edition of Space Adventures #7—originally published by the new-defunct Charlton Comics in 1953—sold for $1,800.

The comic book speculator market isn't normally the kind of cash cow that the 90s thought it was going to be. Unless you've got one of those very rare early superhero origin comics—or you happen to sell something random like Avengers #257 at the exact right time for a convenient movie tie-in—you're typically lucky to make even a dollar on an old comic.

Space Adventures #7 has nothing to do with superheroes, or non-superhero movie adaptations. But it's still coveted, probably because it contains a pre-Comics Code story called "Transformation" that was illustrated by Dick Giordano, who went on to become the Executive Editor at DC Comics, and written by a curiously uncredited author.

What's more interesting about the comic, however, is that it deals unexpectedly with transgender issues.

Here's a basic synopsis of the 8-page story from Comic Book Plus:

Anticipating nuclear war that would leave Earth barren of life, Lars Kranston convinces his colleagues to go to Mars. His paramour Betty Stone insists that she go as well. The ship crashes on Mars. Everyone but Lars and Betty are killed, but Lars thinks she died too. Betty wakes up suffering total amnesia. Lars decides to use the supplies that survived the wreck. He manages a complete sex change. The tumultuous situation on Earth dies down. The predicted war never occurs. Betty remembers the journey.

Read the rest

The Secret World newsletter

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

The excellent first edition of Matthew Braga's new Secret World newsletter looks at exactly who you're calling when you use a satellite phone or Garmin emergency beacon to call for help:

It turns out that, anytime someone calls 911 on a satellite phone, or presses the SOS button on a dedicated GPS tracker — anywhere in the world — those messages typically go to one place: The International Emergency Response Coordination Center, or IERCC, about an hour outside of Houston, Texas. The center has coordinated more than 10,000 rescues in 169 countries, and responds to anywhere from 30 to 60 requests each day. Whether you’re a hermit in the Scottish highlands in medical distress, or a kayaker in eastern Tajikistan with altitude sickness (true stories) the IERCC is your point of first contact. Every hour, every day of the year, a rotating team of six watchstanders determine the closest available search and rescue team and coordinate the response.

The IERCC headquarters includes what sounds like a real-life vault from Fallout:

The entrances were hidden within a pair of massive pagodas, with gunports for the armed guards to shoot at whoever who came near.

Read the rest of the newsletter here, including a description of drone warfare involving tractor beams. Read the rest

How to clean a flat top grill, restaurant-style

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

This vaguely comports to the methods I saw and knew in 1990s London. The proper way was to start with oil and use a grill brick [Amazon], but the reality is you will still need lots of environmentally unsound liquids. The mystery degreaser is Swisher but Ecolab is exactly the same stuff and widely available. Wear gloves. Never eat out. Read the rest

Baby Yoda amigurimi, a crocheted cutie by Allison Hoffman

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Artist Allison Hoffman, aka Crafty is Cool, is an absolute master of pop culture amigurimi ("a portmanteau of the Japanese words ami, meaning 'crocheted or knitted,' and nuigurumi, meaning 'stuffed doll'"). She can crochet like nobody's business and each of her pieces are a work of art (previously). Now, she's taken to creating the real star of The Mandalorian, the new Star Wars series on Disney+, big-eyed Baby Yoda!

But, she's only made one and you can't just buy it outright. If you want it, you'll have to bid on it on eBay. Allison writes, "I’ve gotten so many requests for the finished baby that this is really the only way I could fairly sell him! Thank you all! I have to make another for my husband so that he doesn’t buy this one..."

As of this writing, the bidding is already up to $305. If that's too rich for your blood, well, hope you can crochet, because she's made its pattern available ($7) in her Etsy shop.

We must protect the asset! Who even is he? Or she? Or what? Who cares? Its adorable. This pattern instructs you how to make a life-size stuffed baby inspired by Baby Yoda/Yiddle with easy to find supplies and simple techniques. Everything is photographed and explained in easy to follow step by step instructions. You should know basic crochet skills, but now is a good time to learn.

The Baby is 14" tall and weighs 2 lbs. He's got a little removable robe.

Read the rest

"Start Wearing Purple" as sung by Sesame Street's Count

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

This. is. amazing. Purple Count singing Gogol Bordello's "Start Wearing Purple" — the entire song! Someone spent a long time making this mashup video but we don't know who exactly. Their YouTube account is anonymous, simply named Purple Count. Mystery mashup master, I bow to you. Read the rest

Watch the kabuki version of The Last Jedi

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers adapts to kabuki the story of Kylo Ren from the end of The Force Awakens through the end of The Last Jedi. It opens with the destruction of Starkiller Base:

The confrontation between Kylo Ren and Snoke occurs around 27 minutes in. During the lengthy fight sequence, Rey serves only as someone to be rescued:

After the victory over Snoke, the two fleets are badly damaged, and the action moves to the salt fields:

There, Kylo Ren faces Luke, and we see a glimpse of young Ben Skywalker:

You can watch the entire performance here:

Read the rest

Score an extra 20% off these gadgets with this Black Friday sale

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Whether you are looking for an upgrade or searching for a gift, Black Friday is always a good time to go shopping for new tech. Finding the best discounts can be a challenge, so we decided to do the hard work for you. Here are 15 of the best gadget deals you will find anywhere, now with an extra 20% off when you use the Black Friday coupon code BFSAVE20.

iPM 3-in-1 Apple Watch, iPhone & AirPods Wireless Charging Dock 

Perfect for Apple fans, this classy charging dock has space for an iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods. It has a small enough footprint to live on your nightstand, and the upright design means you can check your phone easily throughout the night.

MSRP: $119.99

Sale Price: $44.99

Price with BFSAVE20 code: $35.99

3-in-1 Apple Watch, AirPods & iPhone Charger

This nifty cable can also charge an iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods at the same time. The 3.9-foot cable plugs into any USB power source and splits into three, providing two Lightning connectors and a wireless charger. 

MSRP: $34.99

Sale Price: $14.99

Price with BFSAVE20 code: $11.99

10-Ft. MFi-Certified Braided Lightning Cable Packs

These Apple-approved Lightning cables provide better reach while your iPhone is charging. The braided outer shell is much more durable than Apple’s plastic sheath and much less prone to becoming tangled. In this three-pack, each cable is just $4.

MSRP: $89.99

Sale Price: $15

Price with BFSAVE20 code: $12

TREBLAB Z2 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

With neodymium-backed 40mm drivers and T-Quiet noise cancellation, the TREBLAB Z2 headphones provide a great listening experience. Read the rest

This portable duster blows traditional canned air devices away

Nov 29, 2019

Description:

Canned air is a big help in dusting tight spaces, particularly keyboards, shelves or servers. But the first thing you should know about canned air is that it's not air at all. More likely, what's blowing out of that bottle is fluorocarbons or other mildly toxic substances.

Luckily, there's an easy alternative: The X3 Hurricane Variable Speed Canless Air Duster.

Like canned air, this system is compact enough to tackle all your tight workspaces. And it's just as quiet, with a trigger that lets you control the power level - ideal for busy offices where you don't want your cleaning routine to disturb your workmates.

The big difference is that its motor uses the ambient air instead of some "canned" substitute, blowing it efficiently at up to 260 mph or more. Best of all, it's rechargeable and reusable, which a big advantage over canned air both environmentally and economically.

Speaking of economical, the X3 Hurricane Variable Speed Canless Air Duster is now on sale for almost 25% off the MSRP. And now, you can take an extra 20% off that final price by using the Black Friday discount code BFSAVE20.

Don't wait for Black Friday—you can get these top-sellers at deep discounts today! Read the rest

Get Black Friday pricing on these next-gen totally wireless earbuds

Nov 28, 2019

Description:

Whether we're on a long commute or marathon workout, the right soundtrack makes all the difference. And with all the thought we put into our playlists, the kind of earbuds we play it on is worth at least as much consideration. When it comes to sound, wearability, and durability, there are few models that hit all the marks like these HYPHEN Wireless Earbuds.

The design is extremely ergonomic, with a selection of eartip sizes to fit nearly anyone. But the controls are a particular highlight here, with intuitive one-touch commands to answer calls, increase the volume, switch tracks and more.

All that tech is well protected behind an IPX5 water-resistant case, so you won't have an issue from sweat or rain. Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity lets the earbuds pick up a signal from up to 15 meters away. Wireless charging? It's got that too and can pick up a full charge in 30 minutes.

These HYPHEN Wireless Earbuds are sale-priced at more than 20% off retail, but you can knock an extra 20% off by using the Black Friday discount code BFSAVE20.

Don't wait for Black Friday—you can get these top-sellers at deep discounts today! Read the rest

Save over 90% on 5TB of cloud storage with this Black Friday deal

Nov 28, 2019

Description:

Many of us rely on a single hard drive to store precious files. This strategy is risky, but many alternative backup solutions are pretty expensive. Polar Cloud Backup breaks the mold, providing secure storage at a price that anyone can afford. The service runs on reliable Amazon architecture and gives users total control over their data.

Available to download on PC and Mac, Polar Backup allows users to choose which files and folders to upload. All file types are supported, including videos, images, audio, documents, and more. The apps also have a scheduling feature, which ensures that the backup won’t disrupt your Netflix movie.

Polar Backup provides enough space for thousands of files, and the storage is both secure and private. The data is protected by military-grade AES-256 encryption, while the servers meet with GDPR regulations.

Along with files on your PC or Mac, Polar Backup covers any connected external drives. Even if you delete files locally, they won’t be removed from cloud storage.

Ahead of Black Friday, the Polar Backup lifetime 5TB plan is just $69.99. You will struggle to find a cloud storage provider that offers more for this price.

Don't wait for Black Friday—you can get these top-sellers at deep discounts today! Read the rest

Three women independently accuse Gordon Sondland of repeated acts of highly similar sexual misconduct

Nov 28, 2019

Description:

Three separate, named women have independently accused Trump's EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland of repeated acts of sexual misconduct while he was in a position of physical, financial and professional power over them. Sondland denies the accusations.

The three women's stories were jointly reported by Propublica and Portland Monthly, and one of the accusers is Portland Monthly cofounder Nicole Vogel (her story was reported by Propublica). Third parties confirmed that all three women told them about Sondland's attacks on them at the time.

The women feared speaking publicly about Sondland's attacks because, they say, he wields enormous political and commercial influence over Portland, Oregon, where the women reside and where Sondland built his hotel empire, whose profits allowed him to donate $1,000,000 to the Trump inauguration.

The stories the women tell share common elements. Sondland's lawyers accused Propublica of "witness tampering" in the Trump impeachment inquiry, and implied that the women had fabricated accounts of Sondland's sexual attacks -- groping, exposing himself, attempting to kiss them -- because he had turned down their bids to have him support them financially.

According to Vogel, Sondland had presented himself as a potential investor in her magazine, but after she repeatedly rebuffed his sexual advances, he effectively pulled out of the deal. Sondland's lawyers accused Vogel of being an associate of Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer and implied that her accusation had been motivated as part of a supposed vendetta by Blumenauer against Sondland. Vogel denies any connection to Blumenauer.

Jana Solis was a safety engineer who was pitching Sondland's hotel chain on behalf of her firm. Read the rest

Puppos struttin' to the Bee Gees on an airport treadmill

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

Try not to die of cuteness from watching these four fluffy puppos strutting to "Stayin' Alive" on an airport autowalk. I don't know the full story here but this is quality content that needs to be shared far and wide. Read the rest

A poor, Trump-voting Florida town opened a government grocery store to end its food desert, but it's "not socialism"

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

68% of the 1600 residents of of Baldwin, Florida -- where the median income is $44k/year -- voted for Trump in 2016, and in the years since, they've lost their only grocery store, which has been a particular hardship for the large number of seniors who live there, many of whom are no longer able to drive.

So the town did the logical thing: it opened a city-run grocery store that operates on a break-even basis, with the clerks, stockers, butcher and other staff all drawing a paycheck from city hall. This is unquestionably a socialist enterprise, but the town's residents don't see it that way. As Mayor Sean Lynch, a retired Navy vet, told The Washington Post: "We take the water out of the ground, and we pump it to your house and charge you. So what’s the difference with a grocery store?"

Not a thing, Mayor Lynch, not a single, solitary thing. Indeed, America's most important institutions -- power, water, roads, libraries, schools, even the Navy -- are socialist in nature.

White Americans vote against welfare benefits and publicly provided healthcare because the Republican Party and Reagan's "welfare queen" campaign convinced them that "welfare" is "undeserving Black people, Native Americans and immigrants" being helped out by the state. Of course, the majority of public spending in America goes to white people, so racism is used to harm racists themselves -- as well as the racialized people at the margins who are also punished by cuts.

The good news is that things like Baldwin Groceries are an opportunity to de-brainwash reactionaries and racists, showing them that the "socialism" they're been terorrized with all their lives is actually the stuff they love best about America: the letter-carrier they see every day, the VA that takes care of them, the library and the high school and the roads. Read the rest

Peak billionaire: a billionaire tries to purchase a party nomination to outflank anti-billionaires so he can run against another billionaire

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

The past two years have seen a tremendous shift in the public perception of capitalism and socialism, the character of philanthropy as reputation-laundry rather than generosity, and the nature of wealth as an indicator of sociopathy, not virtue or cleverness.

The "Overton Window" -- the slate of policies that politicians are willing to discuss and propose in public -- has shifted quickly and profoundly to the left, with the likes of Bernie Sanders anchoring a new outer bound as to what can be said in polite society, reinforced by other Democratic Socialists like AOC -- opening the political space for the likes of Elizabeth Warren to sounds like a relative moderate when she insists that capitalism is good, but needs extensive reform.

How did Overton Window come to shift? Writing in Time, Anand Giridharadas (previously) persuasively argues that capitalism discredited itself, starting with the 2008 crisis. More recently, it was Trump insisting that he was capitalism's flagbearer and explicitly linking capitalism to corruption, ignorance, belligerence, greed, cruelty, xenophobia, racism, sexism and homophobia; Jeff Bezos pulling out of his plan to build a second HQ in NYC because "in a city where a significant number of people struggle to keep up with rising costs and stagnant pay, many weren’t excited by the idea of the state and city giving his company a few billion dollars in tax breaks that wouldn’t be available to a regular Joe starting a business."

Then there was the college bribery scandal in which the inventor of "impact investing" (using capitalism to make the world a better place) stands accused of bribing college officials to get his mediocre loin-fruit into an elite university at the expense of the kind of person whom "impact investing" was supposed to benefit. Read the rest

Download and build Death Stranding paper toys

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

Alex Gwynne has paper toys available via Patreon and has also made several paper toys available for free download. Currently available toys include characters from Death Stranding, Ape Out, and Attack on Titan:

Check out the dozens of free toys, become a patron, or commission your own paper toy here. Read the rest

Get double discounts on these Black Friday gift ideas

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

Don't wait for Black Friday — you can get amazing holiday deals right now without leaving your couch! Avoid the holiday madness and save yourself the headache (and a few dollars too) by checking out these awesome finds instead:

DudeRobe: Luxury Men's Hooded Bathrobe

This Kickstarter-approved robe is made for maximum comfort, with a few extra tweaks to suit the guys. They include extra-deep pockets for phones, remotes or other essentials, plus a belt that's ingeniously attached to the lining.

MSRP: $95.00

Sale Price: $76.00

Price with BFSAVE15 code: $64.60

B10 Wired Glass Touch Keyboard

This tempered glass keyboard may turn heads, but its beauty serves a very real purpose. Not only is the profile slim, but the surface makes it safe from spills and crumbs.

MSRP: $299.00

Sale Price: $239.00

Price with BFSAVE15 code: $203.15

Retro Phonograph Bluetooth Speaker & Radio

The look of this speaker is straight out of the ragtime era, but the Bluetooth connectivity lets it play your choice of tunes from a device up to 50 feet away. It's even equipped with a radio function if you want to go full retro.

MSRP: $69.00

Sale Price: $51.75

Price with BFSAVE15 code: $43.99

Spark Headphones

Keep the beat going all night with these distinctive headphones. The sound is enhanced by noise-canceling tech and wires that can be set to glow consistently or in a pulse to the rhythm of the beat.

MSRP: $99.00

Sale Price: $49.50

Price with BFSAVE15 code: $42.08

Genius Pipe

The magic of this super-compact pipe is all in the design. Read the rest

"Bechdelgrams" are beautiful illustrations of whether a movie passes the Bechdel test

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

Does your favorite movie feature two women discussing something other than a man? Bechdelgrams are a beautiful and useful way to illustrate the conversations in a movie:

A Bechdelgram is a graph where the vertices are named characters and the edges are conversations between them. Here is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) pic.twitter.com/78ghO1lvpz

— qntm (@qntm) March 16, 2019

Time for another Bechdelgram, this one's Blade Runner (1982). Specifically the Final Cut although I don't think it makes a difference pic.twitter.com/HUmERkWBlp

— qntm (@qntm) November 21, 2019

Another Bechdelgram, this is for The Hunt For Red October (1990). Couple of notes on this one follow... pic.twitter.com/7hJ5Y03P9T

— qntm (@qntm) March 17, 2019

The Bechdelgrams are by Qntm, who has written a terrific series of short stories about a team of agents fighting a variety of memory-killing monsters. Start with this story. Read the rest

"Obscure" podcasts worth checking out

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

On Facebook, my friend Joseph Pred asked his pals to recommend their favorite "obscure" podcasts, "Feel free to share even if it’s on a niche topic or something weird. I like weird." He got some great responses, so I asked everyone if it was cool to share with you all. Here's some of what they offered up:

Joseph himself recommends: Damn Interesting "...Besides having fascinating stories has fantastic sound design."

Todd E. recommends several: Blank Check with Griffin & David "A podcast about auteur directors who are given a blank check for their movies. Sometimes great art is made and sometimes the check 'bounces.' They tend to do a director's entire filmography, one episode per movie."

WEDWay Radio "A great historical Disneyland podcast. The format has recently changed but the back catalogue of episodes are fantastic."

American Hysteria "A fantastic new podcast about public panics."

The Sweep Spot "another Disney-themed podcast done by two former custodial cast members. They have a slightly unpolished 'aw shucks' vibe that I like and talk in-depth about the behind-the-scenes cast member culture."

CTP (who is a magician) recommends: "Obscure? Two friends of mine do one called Shezam" and the co-hosts "get way better at it as they go."

Co-hosts and professional magicians, Carisa Hendrix and Kayla Drescher attempted to finally answer the question… “What is it like to be a woman in magic?” But since the answer is too long, and too important, they made a podcast! Shezam is not only a podcast, but a full resource for the magic community to empower women to empower themselves.

Read the rest

Just look at this bananamobile that a cop pulled over because he wanted to give the driver $20.

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

Just look at it. (Thanks, Jack Buffington!) Read the rest

Code and control your own battle rover with this STEM bot from DJI

Nov 24, 2019

Description:

Just over a decade ago, kids might learn robotics - if they got introduced to it at all - by painstakingly programming a robot arm to pick up a cup.

These, however, are great times to be alive. Get a load of the DJI RoboMaster S1 STEM Education Robot, a kit that's sure to kick off a whole new generation of makers.

It's inspired by DJI's annual RobotMasters competition, so you know this is no simple RC toy. And while it is fairly simple to build in the basic configuration, the 46 customizable components give kids plenty of room to tweak and learn.

The OS supports Scratch and Python languages, which can be used to program any number of custom moves into this tiny tank. It can be controlled on a smartphone by way of the RobotMaster app, and the omnidirectional wheels are capable of some fancy floorwork.

Put it into the arena with another S1, and you open up a whole new world of robot combat via the infrared beams, bead launcher, and hit detectors. You can even communicate remotely with the onboard FPV cameras and intercom feature.

Right now, you can take an early Black Friday discount of 15% off the DJI RoboMaster S1 by using the online code BFSAVE15, bringing the price down to $466.65.

Don't wait for Black Friday—you can get these top-sellers at deep discounts today! Read the rest

A single, mysterious server exposed 1.2 billion user records

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

No one knows who owns the Google Cloud drive that exposed 1.2 billion user records, seemingly merged from data-brokers like People Data Labs and Oxydata, who may have simply sold the data to a customer that performed the merge operation and then stuck the resulting files on an unprotected server, which was discovered in October by researcher Vinny Troia using Binaryedge and Shodan.

The data merges home and cell numbers, social media profiles, work histories and email addresses; as Troia says, "This is the first time I've seen all these social media profiles collected and merged with user profile information into a single database on this scale. From the perspective of an attacker, if the goal is to impersonate people or hijack their accounts, you have names, phone numbers, and associated account URLs. That's a lot of information in one place to get you started."

The brokers don't think they were breached. PDL founder Sean Thorne hypothesized that some of the data his company nonconsensually gathered on 1.5 billion people was sold to a normal customer who mishandled it and that is "their responsibility."

Oxydata exec Martynas Simanauskas said that while his company sells its nonconsensual dossiers on terms that require its customers to manage the data conservatively, "there is no way for us to enforce all of our clients to follow the best data protection practices and guidelines."

They're totally right about one thing: once you gather and sell this data, you can't control it -- it's pluripotent, omnitoxic, and immortal. Read the rest

Apple doesn't want to hear what you think about their stuff anymore

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Until very recently, having bought something from Apple's online store, you could leave a comment describing how you felt about it. Here are some examples:

I paid a metric ass-ton of money for this aluminum laptop. I will not be able to buy groceries for a month, becasue of the financial hit I took. However, the laptop is extremely well-made and will last me many years. What the fuck do you mean I'm holding it the wrong way? My iPad still does iPad stuff, but I'm happy I bought this new ipad, all the same. Does the keyboard still suck?

These are all worthy notes that could help an intrepid online shopper to make an informed buying decision. Apparently, Apple doesn't care for this sort of thing anymore.

From AppleInsider:

On November 17, Apple removed the "Ratings & Reviews" section from all product pages on the Apple website. It is currently unclear what has prompted this decision, nor when Apple will bring back the option to read the opinions of other customers at the time of purchase.

The reviews were pulled over the weekend, though it's not clear as to why this has happened. Apple had been known for leaving up even especially negative reviews, which demonstrated both transparency and integrity to their customers.

Transparency and integrity, who's got time for that sort of thing?

As I do most of my shopping in-store when I need a new Apple widget or the repair of an old one, I'm curious to find out whether the company's practice of sending a post-purchase 'how did we do' email will still be something that they do, given the new direction that they're taking. Read the rest

A deep dive into the bloody mines of the Healing Crystal industry

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

New Age spirituality has never been my thing. If you're into it, hey, that's cool; it's just not for me. I don't really stay up nights worrying about it, and I certainly haven't given much thought to healing crystals. I've never considered what they do, or where they come from.

But someone has thought about this (besides the people profiting off of it). In May 2018, the New Republic published an article tracing the sources of these supposedly-powerful stones. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it's shadier than one might expect:

I tried to track down the sources of crystals sold on popular websites. I found that some were mined in countries with notoriously lax labor and environmental regulations, and some came from large-scale U.S. mines that have contaminated ecosystems and drinking water. The impacts of extracting crystals are admittedly low compared to those of industrial gold, copper, granite, or rare earth mining, but crystals have gone from a new-age fad to a multi-billion dollar industry. And given that crystals can be used to “make a promise to mama earth,” it would seem important to know how they were extracted from mama earth.

While healing crystals are still a ways away from Blood Diamond levels of volatility, it turns out that many of them do come from ethically questionable mines, often in places like Myanmar or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even more fascinating is what author Emily Atkin finds about supply lines, distributor relationships, and regulatory standards (or a lack thereof) for those little gems of spirituality. Read the rest

This accessory turns a laptop into a dual-monitor workhorse

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

If you've ever worked with two monitors, you know how much time they save. When you're dealing with big jobs that involve lots of data, there's nothing like being able to see all your charts and spreadsheets at a single glance. Once you're used to it, there's no reason you'd ever go back other than the obvious one: There's just not enough space for two laptops in the average coffeeshop or coworking space.

The Mobile Pixels DUEX Pro Portable Dual Monitor is a solution to that dilemma, and it's one so simple we're surprised it isn't more widespread.

The DUEX Pro is a 12.5 inch, 1080p monitor that attaches easily to the back of any laptop. Its dual-sided sliding mount makes it easy to pop out and use whenever you need it, and the versatility doesn't stop there. Once it's pulled out, it can swivel up to 270 degrees to accommodate any workspace.

It can even be folded around 180 degrees to display on the back of the laptop—perfect for on-the-fly presentations or team projects.

Right now, the Mobile Pixels DUEX Pro Portable Dual Monitor is 15% off the retail price, but you can take an additional 15% off by using the online code BFSAVE15, lowering the price to $179.35.

Don't wait for Black Friday—you can get these top-sellers at deep discounts today! Read the rest

Spirit of The West's John Mann dead at 57 years old

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

The music of Spirit of The West has been a part of my life since my early teens. The band's lead singer and oft-time song writer, John Mann, was a joyful beast on stage. I saw SOTW live on a number of occasions over the years. They were great, every time. John's energetic rapport with the audience made sure of that. But my favorite time seeing John perform was when he was touring his solo album, Mister Mann. The show was intimate, quiet and lovely. It's a happy memory for me.

John Mann passed away today at the age of 57 due to complications from early onset Alzheimer disease.

From Spirit of the West's homepage:

With deep sadness we announce that John Fraser Mann (OBC) has passed away peacefully in Vancouver, the inevitable result of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease with which he was diagnosed several years ago.

Surrounded by friends and loving family until the end, all were reminded of John’s rich legacy. He was a potent force in music, acting — onstage, in movies and on television, and was world renowned as a songwriter. As well, he was a foresightful activist and charitable figure for several worthwhile organizations. His work will resound long after his untimely passing.

His career spanned nearly 40 years and included multiple film roles, numerous star turns in theatre, and fame as lead singer and spell-binding front-person of Canadian musical group ‘Spirit of the West’.

John was a man of uncommon courage, was a loyal and beloved friend, a gentleman of great social conscience, and a soul brimming with creativity and enthusiasm.

Read the rest

Drunk yoga classes exist

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

I knew about stoned yoga but I'm just learning about drunk yoga. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that there are exercise classes where you can also get your drink on (specifically, wine):

The classes are intended for beginners, [founder Eli] Walker said, and encompass a 45-minute vinyasa-style session based on gentle moves set to a 1990s hip-hop playlist. Expect some mild drinking games as well. (Nonalcoholic beverages are also available.) There is time before and after to socialize.

These Drunk Yoga classes are currently only available in Los Angeles and New York City. But don't let that stop you. Pour yourself a glass and get to it. Nobody's the boss of you.

image via Drunk Yoga/Facebook Read the rest

About Face: EFF's new campaign to end government use of face surveillance

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched About Face, a new national campaign to end governmental use of facial recognition technology for surveillance at all levels -- city, state and federal.

As the project says, the real problem with facial surveillance isn't that facial recognition is worse at recognizing Black faces than it is at recognizing white faces. Even if this was fixed, it would still put people at risk from state surveillance, overpolicing, and other traditional civil liberties concerns.

There's a sign up form that will connect you with other people in your area working to stop facial surveillance, an organizers' toolkit with literature, media guides, and model legislation; and a list of bans, bills and moratoria already in place across America.

Law enforcement use of face recognition technology poses a profound threat to personal privacy, political and religious expression, and the fundamental freedom to go about our lives without having our movements and associations covertly monitored and analyzed.

This technology can be used for identifying or verifying the identity of an individual using photos or videos, and law enforcement and other government agencies can use it to conduct dragnet surveillance of entire neighborhoods. Face surveillance technology is also prone to error, implicating people for crimes they haven’t committed.

About Face [EFF] Read the rest

Tokyo Disneyland's new vinyl LP is AMAZING

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Tokyo Disneyland is a curious beast: it's owned by a Japanese company (the "Oriental Land Company") but the company is contractually obligated to use Disney as its sole supplier of rides and designs; historically, TDL has expanded by ordering the very best, most popular rides and shows from other Disney parks, and then paying to have them built to the very highest possible specification -- it's a kind of global best-of Disney park, gold plated and buffed to a high finish.

In light of that, it's not entirely surprising that the park's latest musical souvenir, a vinyl LP called Official Album of Tokyo Disneyland that comes with a lavishly illustrated booklet.

Over on Passport to Dreams Old and New (previously), Foxxfur burnishes her credentials as the most thoughtful and engaging writer about Disney parks and their designs and history with an in-depth review of the Official Album, contrasting it favorably with the 1980 Official Soundtrack of Disneyland/Walt Disney World and The Official Album of EPCOT Center, which were "just lousy products - thin-sounding, with cheap packaging."

The extra space allows the Disney sound engineers to do some interesting things. Background and incidental music is featured, something that would never happen on Western releases until the 21st century. The version of Mickey Mouse Revue finishes with a cut-down version of the attraction's theater entrance music, ending with funky guitar riffs which nearly scream 1971. Elsewhere, attraction underscore is presented for Peter Pan's Flight and It's A Small World.

Read the rest

Without right to repair, the military can't fix its own battlefield equipment

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Captain Elle Ekman is a US Marine Corps logistics officer; in a New York Times op-ed, she describes how the onerous conditions imposed by manufacturers on the US armed forces mean that overseas troops are not permitted to fix their own mission-critical gear, leaving them stranded and disadvantaged.

Instead of fixing their equipment as armies have done since the time of the Caesars, US armed forces personnel ship their faulty gear back to the USA for warranty repair, waiting months to get it back into service. She describes maintenance bays full of broken equipment and idle 3D printers, water-jets cutters, and lathes that were once used to effect field repairs. Now, the gear just waits to be shipped stateside.

She traces this to monopoly power among manufacturers, which has allowed them to erode the historic right to repair, and to impose onerous conditions on their customers -- even the Department of Defense.

Last year, a coalition of large manufacturers led by Apple killed 20 different state level right-to-repair bills. Apple and ag companies like John Deere are currently lobbying the federal government hard to head off any federal right-to-repair bill, promising that allowing independent repair would open up a floodgate of counterfeits, unsafe equipment, and cybersecurity problems.

With every engine sent back, Marines lost the opportunity to practice the skills they might need one day on the battlefield, where contractor support is inordinately expensive, unreliable or nonexistent.

I also recalled how Marines have the ability to manufacture parts using water-jets, lathes and milling machines (as well as newer 3-D printers), but that these tools often sit idle in maintenance bays alongside broken-down military equipment.

Read the rest

Civil society groups protest the sale of .ORG to a private equity fund and a collection of Republican billionaires

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Earlier this month, management of the .org top-level domain underwent a radical shift: first, ICANN dropped price-caps on .org domains, and then the Internet Societ (ISOC) flogged the registry off to Ethos Capital, a private equity fund, and a consortium of three families of Republican billionaires: the Perots, the Romneys, and the Johnsons.

This doesn't just mean that nonprofits -- for whom the .org top-level domain was created -- will pay higher prices to maintain their domains, and it doesn't just mean that private equity funds -- rather than a transparent, nonprofit NGO -- will be able to censor what gets posted to .org domains, by kicking out any domain that it doesn't like (remember when everyone was cheering because Nazi websites were being stripped of their domain names by registrars? This cuts both ways: if registrars have the power and duty to respond to speech they object to by taking away organizations' domains, then that duty and power also applies to billionaires and private equity-appointed administrators).

A massive coalition of nonprofits and civil society organizations has signed an open letter to ISOC president Andrew Sullivan. Everyone from the Girl Scouts and the YMCA to EFF and Creative Commons (and many others) have signed it, and so can you.

The 2019 .ORG Registry Agreement represents a significant departure from .ORG’s 34-year history. It gives the registry the power to make several policy decisions that would be detrimental to the .ORG community:

* The power to raise .ORG registration fees without the approval of ICANN or the .ORG community.

Read the rest

Legendary music producer Tony Visconti breaks down Bowie's iconic "Space Oddity"

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

In this video, basically an ad for the upcoming Sony 360 Reality Audio, brilliant record producer and criminally underappreciated bassist, Tony Visconti, listens to the original 1969 mono demo, the '69 studio mix, and his 2019 remastering of David Bowie's breakout track, "Space Oddity." At the end, he listens to the remixed Sony 360 Reality Audio version and talks about how it especially serves the idea behind the song (traveling through space) and that David would've loved this new audio technology.

Tony talks about how incredibly modern and ahead of its time "Space Oddity" was, and how in his 2019 remastering, he remixed it to be fuller, wider, and so that you could hear elements you may not have heard in the original recording. Bringing the kick drum up in the mix, for instance, you realize what a funky track it was, Tony comments. The most interesting moment in the video is when he talks about David, many years later, explaining to him what the song was really about:

David said it was actually a song about isolation and he used the astronaut in space as the metaphor...The song was written in that spirit, being isolated in this little capsule, but seeing the Universe from your window. This is what I'm trying to get across in the mix. You are going to be traveling through this mix. Things will go by you, around you, behind you, in front, come towards you.

Here is the result of Tony's efforts, the 2019 remastering of "Space Oddity" (not the 360 RA mix). Read the rest

Trump pledged that Amazon would be forced to pay its taxes; thanks to his #taxscam, their profits went up and their taxes stayed $0.00

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Amazon's tax bill in 2017 was $0. Trump was very vocal in his disgust at this situation and pledged he would make them pay their fair share. It's been a year, and Amazon's profits are way up ($11.2 billion!) but their tax bill remains precisely $0.00. Thank the #taxscam.

"Amazon pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

Amazon will pay $0 in taxes on $11,200,000,000 in profit for 2018 [Kristin Myers/Yahoo Finance]

(via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Indiana University Provost: The First Amendment says we can't fire our notorious bigot professor, so here's what we're doing instead

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

Eric Rasmusen is a tenured business school professor at Indiana University Bloomington; for many years, he's posted a stream of "racist, sexist, and homophobic views" to his personal social media, including the idea that women do not belong in the workplace (he often refers to women by slurs like "slut" when discussing this and other subjects); that gay men should not be allowed in academia because of their insatiable sexual appetites and propensity for abusing students; that Black students are academically inferior to white students and do not belong at elite academic institutions.

Indiana U is a state college and bound by the First Amendment's prohibition on discrimination on the basis of speech and Rasmusen has confined his odious speech acts to his personal social media, apparently refraining from voicing these views on campus while acting in a professional capacity. As a result, it's the view of the university provost that he cannot be fired, despite her characterization of Rasmusen's views as "vile and stupid" and "stunningly ignorant." Provost Lauren Robel has also said that her own respect for the First Amendment is such that she would not fire Rasmusen for his personal views, even if she could.

However, Robel and the university acknowledge that Rasmusen's views call into question his impartiality and also expose students to a reasonable belief that they could not be fairly graded or assessed by Rasmusen. Accordingly the university has undertaken a pari of extraordinary measures to protect students without trampling the First Amendment.

1. All classes that Rasmusen teaches will also be offered by another instructor so that any student can chose to take the class without coming into contact with Rasmusen. Read the rest

This travel app helps you take advantage of flash airfare deals

Nov 23, 2019

Description:

When you're planning a vacation, think about things from the airline's point of view. Jet fuel is expensive. Airplane maintenance is expensive. Ergo, empty seats equal a lot of lost revenue.

There are a few travel sites out there that can turn someone else's canceled flight into your gain, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that does it better than Matt's Flights.

If you're flexible on your travel plans, a subscription to Matt's Flights can really pay off. Just enter your location and your ideal destination, and let the algorithms go to work. As soon as they find discounted rates, either through airline mishaps or last-minute deals, they'll pass them on to you.

Once your deal is locked in, subscribers get personal support to flesh out the whole trip. You can expect to get three or more deals sent your way every week, so when the time is right, you can get your ideal vacation for a fraction of the price.

Take your pick of subscription plans to Matt's Flights, all of which are on deep discount. Grab a one-year plan for $25, three years for $79, or a lifetime for $199. And you can take an extra 15% off the final price of any plan by entering the early Black Friday code BFSAVE15 at checkout, lowering the final prices to $21.25, $67.15, and $169.15 respectively.

Don't wait for Black Friday—you can get these top-sellers at deep discounts today! Read the rest

California's housing bubble is spilling over into poor and exurban neighborhoods, creating waves of crises

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

California has such a huge undersupply of housing -- and oversupply of housing speculators -- that affluent homebuyers have effectively rendered the state's major cities unaffordable for all but the very wealthy, even pushing into neighborhoods that were historically undesirable due to poverty, poor housing stock and crime.

As a result, everyday working people are being pushed out of cities, and they're clustering in suburbs and exurbs around the cities' peripheries, creating both a traffic crisis (California's roads are already massively overcongested) and a housing crisis for those communities, with rents going up and up as new tenants arrive, having been pushed out of the cities.

Many working California families are now on a "financial knife edge," one minor blip away from homelessness -- a tiny rent increase or a medical emergency or an unexpected car repair can spell eviction.

The state has enacted sweeping rent controls that go into effect Jan 1, but these will not adequately address the state's housing crisis: California needs a lot of high-density housing clustered around high-speed transit lines. There is pending legislation that would allow the state to force cities to permit this kind of construction, but it's being heavily lobbied against.

Home sale prices have risen sharply, and middle-class buyers are snapping up homes in neighborhoods they avoided in the past.

This has pushed many longtime residents — particularly renters — out of black and Latino neighborhoods, even as those who were able to purchase homes decades ago have seen their property values rise.

Read the rest

Donotpay adds tool to automatically analyze lengthy, terrible terms of service

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

Do Not Pay, the "robot lawyer" that can help you do everything from beat a traffic ticket to getting access to services for poor and homeless people, has rolled out a new service: "Do Not Sign," a tool to analyze terms of service agreements.

While its true that these services are virtually always terrible, they're not all the same. Do Not Sign will flag things like obscure clauses that let you opt out of data collection and binding arbitration.

Do Not Sign also flags the everyday terrors of these "agreements," such as the right to change them later without notice, the right to stop providing a service without notice, and the fact that you assume all risk when using a service.

Do Not Sign uses machine learning to flag "warnings" and "loopholes" in these "agreements."

“I got into this gym membership with this US company called Planet Fitness, and I didn’t realize when I was signing up that it’s basically impossible to cancel,” Browder told The Verge in an interview. “I think it just goes to show that even someone like me wouldn’t read the fine print. I don’t think regular people know what they’re agreeing to.” In the case of Planet Fitness, Browder says he eventually found a clause buried in its terms of service that allowed him to cancel the contract if he moved out of the area. In the end, he canceled his membership by telling the gym he’d moved to the UK.

This is what Do Not Sign means by “loopholes.” I found one such example when I fed the system Apple’s terms of service: it informed me that I can request my personal data from the company and ask Apple to delete it.

Read the rest

The Challenge Vault: a locksport training tool and mechanical puzzle that teaches you to be a safecracker

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

Every year around this time, our friends at Sparrow Lockpicks (previously) come out with a incredibly clever, giftable addition to your locksport arsenal; I always buy a few of these for Christmas gifts (often for younger people on my list) and they're universally well received.

This year, Sparrow's seasonal offering is the Challenge Vault, a safecracking practice box that is both a gorgeous artifact in its own right and a superb mechanical puzzle that can be made progressively harder by adding wheels that you access by opening the safe, which arrives set to the easiest setting.

The box is also useful as a safe! That is, to the extent that any safe is useful -- and as with all locksport items, this doesn't just confer a better, deeper understanding of the mechanical principles behind locks (nor merely an improvement in fine motor skills and spatial reasoning): it also armors your intuition about whether the security measures you take in your own life are worthwhile, and thus whether the companies that make them are honest about the efficacy of their products.

I played with a Challenge Vault prototype at the Atlseccon conference in Halifax last spring, and my thoughts have returned to it often since. It's a fiendishly clever little gadget, well-made and well thought-through, and I know I'll be buying some for the future lockpickers in my life this year.

This is more than a puzzle box … this is safe cracking.

Get ready to learn a new skill with this challenge.

Read the rest

Former CIA officer Jerry Lee sentenced to 19 years for handing U.S. info to China

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

Today, a federal judge sentenced former CIA officer Jerry Lee to 19 years in prison. He was convicted of gathering United States defense information and other sensitive information, and handing it over to agents for the government of China.

BREAKING: A federal judge has sentenced former CIA agent Jerry Lee to 19 years in prison for gathering defense information and sensitive information and handing it over to China. @PeteWilliamsNBC reports.

— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) November 22, 2019

Ex-CIA officer Jerry Lee about to be sentenced. Government says it's "all but certain" he gave classified info to Chinese for $800K; he maintains he never did https://t.co/4lSLY04w8N

— Rachel Weiner (@rachelweinerwp) November 22, 2019

And from the backstory by Washington Post reporter Rachel Weiner:

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 55, was trying to return to the CIA even as he was gathering information requested by Chinese spies and being paid more than $840,000 from unexplained sources. According to prosecutors, he eventually admitted getting at least 21 tasks from Chinese operatives, including requests to provide CIA names, methods and locations.

What he told the Chinese in response is still unclear. Lee insists that he never handed over the secrets he collected for his Chinese handlers, and prosecutors were unable to prove otherwise. But they say in a sentencing memorandum it is “all but certain” that some classified information was disclosed, although “we can never be sure of exactly how much.”

Read the rest

This travel daypack zips up into a tennis ball sized bundle

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

On my last trip to Tokyo, I brought along the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack ( on Amazon). It weighs 2.4 oz (my iPhone 6 Plus weighs 6.2 ounces) and zips up into a bundle smaller than my fist. But it holds 20 liters of stuff, and I used it every day to carry water, snacks, sweaters, an iPhone charger, a portable wifi, groceries, and things Carla and I bought while walking around. The material feels indestructible. Read the rest

T-Mobile says recent 'criminal hack' got personal data of some prepaid wireless customers

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

T-Mobile today admitted that a recent "criminal hack" accessed personal data of some prepaid wireless customers' accounts.

From USA Today's Mike Snider:

The wireless provider's cybersecurity team discovered the breach recently and "shut down malicious, unauthorized access" to some prepaid accounts, T-Mobile said in a security notice posted on company's website.

T-Mobile says it notified law enforcement about the breach, which led to some exposure of personal information, including names and billing addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, and wireless plan information.

Now, they're telling customers this:

Dear Customer,

We want to let you know about an incident that we recently identified and quickly corrected that impacted some of your personal information.

Our Cybersecurity team discovered and shut down malicious, unauthorized access to some information related to your T-Mobile prepaid wireless account. We promptly reported this to authorities. None of your financial data (including credit card information) or social security numbers was involved, and no passwords were compromised.

The data accessed was information associated with your prepaid service account, including name and billing address (if you provided one when you established your account), phone number, account number, rate plan and features, such as whether you added an international calling feature. Rate plan and features of your voice calling service are “customer proprietary network information” (“CPNI”) under FCC rules, which require we provide you notice of this incident.

We take the security of your information very seriously and have a number of safeguards in place to protect your personal information from unauthorized access.

Read the rest

My new favorite subreddit is r/boomershumor

Nov 22, 2019

Description:

My 16-year-old introduced me to r/boomershumor, a subreddit dedicated the the kinds of cartoons boomers enjoy sending as attachments in emails (usually address to dozens of people because they don't know about the bcc: field). The jokes are usually about fear of technology, getting drunk on wine, decrepitude, creepy sex humor, “I hate my wife” jokes, and tiresome misogyny/homophobia/transphobia (the last two categories were identified by DonatellaNobody). Read the rest

Sidewalk Labs' quiet plan for Canada's banks to manage a national digital ID for health care and housing

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

[I'm delighted to welcome Lilian Radovac back for another excellent piece on the digital surveillance shenanigans in Canada, which aren't always as showy as their stateside counterparts, but are every bit as worrying. In this piece, Radovac reveals the buried plan for a finance-sector managed, all-surveilling National ID card buried in the latest massive wedge of largely unread documents from Google spin-out Sidewalk Labs (previously) that is building a controversial, privatised city-within-a-city in Toronto -Cory]

In Sidewalk Toronto news, Sidewalk Labs has finally released its Master Innovation and Development Plan Digital Innovation Appendix. As with the 1,524 page MIDP before it, there's a lot to read in the DIA but a few excerpts already stand out.

Beyond antitrust: the anti-monopoly movement and what it stands for

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

During a lunch break at the “New Future for Antitrust” conference at the University of Utah, Lina Khan (previously), Marshall Steinbaum (previously), and Tim Wu (previously) drafted "https://onezero.medium.com/the-utah-statement-reviving-antimonopoly-traditions-for-the-era-of-big-tech-e6be198012d7"The Utah Statement, setting out a program for fighting monopolies beyond the mere revival and exercise of antitrust law, premised on the notion "that concentrated private power has become a menace, a barrier to widespread prosperity."

The Statement sets out four credos, ten calls for reform, and thirteen principles. Despite its 27 clauses (!), the Utah Statement is an excellent articulation of how we got here, why it matters, and what we should do next.

I see this as a harbringer of the "peak indifference" moment for monopolism, which hurts everyone from eyeglass wearers to pro wrestling fans (and beyond), a unifying vision for states' relationship to concentrated industries of all kinds and their corrupting influence on regulation.

However, "anti-monopoly" is a terrible name for this movement, since it tells you what it stands against, but not what it stands for. I like "Pluralism" as an alternative, because using "pluralistic" as a modifier to other values ("pluralistic prosperity," "pluralistic self-determination," "pluralistic marketplaces of ideas") make it clear that you're not talking about a "freedom" that ends with one small slice of people dominating everyone else, but rather, about freedoms that end up with everyone having as much choice in how their lives unfold as is possible.

We believe that:

(1) Subjecting concentrated private power to democratic checks is a matter of constitutional importance;

(2) The protection of fair competition is a means to a thriving and democratic society and an instrument for both the creation of opportunity and the distribution of wealth and power;

(3) Excessive concentration of private economic power breeds antidemocratic political pressures and undermines liberties; and

(4) While antitrust is not an answer to every economic distress, it is a democratically enacted and necessary element in achieving these aims.

Read the rest

This is the best pot scrubber

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

After trying out a lot of different scrub brushes, I think the OXO Good Grips scrub brush is the best. I prefer this palm-style brush to brushes with a handle because I can really bear down on the pots and pans. It's comfortable to hold and the bristles hold up well to rough treatment. I wish the brush was available via Subscribe and Save, because I'd get a new one every three months. Read the rest

Antikondo: Orderliness is not the same as efficiency

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Often, if you ask a human to optimize something, they'll make it orderly: straight lines, simple layouts and clean divisions, but when nature (or evolutionary algorithms) optimizes things, it produces redundancy, gradients, tangles, and complexity -- ironically, robots produce systems that look like nature designed them, while humans produce systems that look like robots designed them.

In an essay called The Efficiency-Destroying Magic of Tidying Up, Uber product manager Florent Crivello lays out a thesis about the value of complexity, a subject that will be familiar to readers who enjoyed Tim Harford's 2016 book "Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Lives."

Crivello suggests a three-part test that "messy" systems should be subjected to before anyone attempts to tidy them:

1. How much information is contained in the system’s current state? What constraints are expressing themselves through it?

2. How old is the system? How malleable is it? How strong are the forces put on it?

3. Finally: who is complaining about the chaos?

Finally: who is complaining about the chaos? If outsiders complain, but people living inside the system seem happy with it, it probably means that the chaos is serving them right, and that it’s just foreign eyes who are unable to perceive its underlying order.

This is a special case of Chesterton’s Fence, which states you should never take down a fence before knowing why it was put up. Here, I propose Scott’s Law: never put order in a system before you understand the structure underneath its chaos.

Read the rest

In Russia, power pole runs into you

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Whoever installed this power pole support in the middle of a road in Vladimir, Russia decided it would be a waste of money to erect the support in such a way that a driver wouldn't hit it and die.

<em>Image: YouTube</em> Read the rest

Howto: Extend your wrists' duty-cycle

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

People make fun of me when I talk about extending my wrists' duty cycle, but I earn the vast majority of my living with the parts of my body north of my chin and south of my elbows, and those are all pretty fragile, easily-damaged parts of your body.

Ergnomic Trends' list of "8 Best Hand and Wrist Exercises for Computer Users" were largely familiar to me, but I'm seriously loving "thumb touches."

Thumb touches help to increase coordination in the thumb and forefingers, and also help to reintroduce blood flow back to the area:

1. Hold your hands outwards with your palms facing the ceiling

2. With your right hand, slowly bring your thumb to touch the tip of every finger

3. Repeat on the other hand

4. Return to the starting position

5. Repeat five times with both hands

Preventing Injury: 8 Best Hand and Wrist Exercises for Computer Users [Ergonomic Trends]

(via Four Short Links) Read the rest

Netflix has a documentary about extremely creepy founder of Bikram Yoga

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

If you want to quickly find out about what kind of person Bikram Choudhury is, watch this interview, in which the yoga teacher and alleged serial rapist claims that women are begging to pay him $1,000,000 for a single drop of his sperm and that four women committed suicide because he denied them sex.

If you want to know more about Choudhury, you can watch an upcoming Netflix documentary about him, called Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, premiering November 20, 2019.

Daily Beast has a review:

[A]t closed-off, multi-week classes held at hotels around the country, Bikram was constantly supplied Bikram with fresh new females who wanted nothing more than to earn his favor. Sexual assault—quite a lot of it, by many accounts—followed, although out of fear of being kicked out of the profession they loved, most refused to publicly speak out. Sarah Baughn changed all that, filing suit against Bikram in March 2013 for allegedly trapping her in his hotel room and forcibly trying to initiate sex. Though she was condemned and ostracized by those in Bikram’s camp, other ugly stories soon emerged, including from Larissa Anderson, who says she was raped by Bikram in his home, and from Jafa-Bodden, who sued Bikram for unlawful termination after she refused to continue being party to his predatory behavior.

Doing the guru no favors are deposition videos in which he pleads the fifth and, when speaking, curses Jafa-Bodden’s attorney Carla Minnard and admits that the four things he doesn’t like are “cold weather, cold food, cold hearts and cold pussy.”

Facing multiple lawsuits and sexual harassment allegations, Choudhury fled the United States for India in 2016, where he is operating yoga studios. Read the rest

Inside Alan Moore's Head

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

With The Watchmen now on teevee, I hope that many more people will dive into the magickal brilliance of Alan Moore who co-created the original comic in 1987 along with other seminal works like V for Vendetta and Batman: The Killing Joke. Over at the Daily Grail, Greg points us to a fantastic web video series of 5-minute mind grenades with Moore. Below are two of my favorite segments in the 8-part series, titled "Inside Alan Moore's Head." You can also view them on YouTube.

image: Fimb (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

Massive leak of Chinese government documents reveal the "no mercy" plan for Muslims in Xinjiang

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

The New York Times has received a 403-page leak of internal Chinese state documents related to the ethnic cleansing effort in Xinjiang province, which has seen the creation of more than 500 concentration camps where Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities have been subjected to torture, rape and medical experimentation.

Though it's not clear where the leaks originate from, the Times speculates that they were released by Chinese officials who are upset with the authoritarian measures and attendant human-rights abuses.

The contents of the leaks support this theory, as much of the material deals with the microeconomics of the regional Chinese officials who implemented the ethnic cleansing program. The story begins with a wave of terrorist attacks in the region in 2014, most notably a train-station stabbing attack with more than 150 victims.

This prompted an internal hard-line speech from president-for-life Xi Xinping, who argued that a virus-like contagion of Islamic extremism had infected people from the region. Xi argued that China should learn from the American hard line on terrorism and use the "organs of dictatorship" to root out Islamism, showing "absolutely no mercy."

Xi compared the political currents in the region to the independence movements in the outlying regions of the USSR in its last days, when "ideological laxity" and "spineless leadership" allowed the Soviet empire to be shattered.

In 2016, Xi's vision was supercharged by a change in regional government, when Chen Quanguo was put in charge of Xinjiang; Chen had previously been the hard-line official in charge of Tibet, and had been responsible for the systematic human rights abuses there. Read the rest

How to crack a $300 fingerprint gun safe in a few seconds

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

The LockPickingLawyer has a new video, in which he defeats a fancy biometric biometric fingerprint gun safe in a few seconds using a "jiggler" key.

<em>Image: YouTube</em> Read the rest

No one believes Prince Andrew's explanation about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

In a BBC interview, noted playboy Prince Andrew said he regrets visiting the home of of his friend Jeffrey Epstein after Epstein had been convicted for sex crimes against minors. But the reason he went to Epstein's house for four days, explains the Prince, is because he wanted to end their friendship in person. Everyone thinks this excuse, and almost everything else he says in his well-rehearsed answers, is a load of codswallop. Read the rest

Supreme Court blocks House Democrats' subpoena for Trump's tax returns, for now

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

The Supreme Court today issued an administrative stay that blocks a subpoena from House Democrats for Donald Trump's tax returns.

The block is in effect until both sides can file the necessary legal papers.

More at Axios. Read the rest

Chick-fil-A slightly less homophobic now

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

The popular fried chicken sandwich fast food chain Chick-fil-A has long been targeted by pro-human-rights groups for aligning with hate and homophobia.

They say they will now focus giving on “education, homelessness & hunger.”

“Years after splitting from actively anti-LGBTQ orgs, Chick-fil-A will stop funding two huge charities that have also opposed same-sex marriage: The Salvation Army & Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” reports Ethan Kraft at CNBC.

Excerpt from CNBC's report:

The fast-food chain’s foundation has donated millions of dollars to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Both organizations have a history of opposing same-sex marriage.

Chick-fil-A said it no longer funds the organizations.

“We made multi-year commitments to both organisations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding the company would focus its giving on “education, homelessness and hunger.”

The Atlanta-based company has faced criticism in the past for its charitable donations and CEO Dan Cathy’s public comments opposing gay marriage.

Chick-fil-A no longer donates to controversial Christian charities after LGBTQ protests [cnbc.com] Read the rest

Supreme Court temporarily halts court order that demands Trump turn over his tax returns

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

CNBC reports that the Supreme Court has temporarily halted a lower court order requiring accountants to turn over President Donald Trump's tax returns to congress.

Steven Portnoy: "The DC Circuit Court's mandate is stayed pending a response due at 3pm Thursday afternoon." Read the rest

Martin Shkreli's appeal denied

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Martin Shkreli, trollish ex-CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who became infamous in 2015 when he jacked up the price of an HIV medication 5,000%, received some unpleasant news today, reports CNBC. The Supreme Court rejected his request for an appeal of his securities fraud conviction. That means he's going to have to serve the rest of his 7-year sentence and forfeit his $6.4 million fine.

While his fraud case was pending, Shkreli won the hearts of Trumpsters when he put a bounty on a strand of hair from Hillary Clinton's head. His tweet did not get his desired result, though. Instead, the judge revoked his bail and locked him behind bars for the remainder of the trial.

Image: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/developments-in-the-prescription-drug-market-oversight/, Public Domain, Link Read the rest

Young woman invents ingenious bioplastic made from fish scales and red algae

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, if current trends in single-use plastic continue, "there could be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050." Having spent countless family vacations at the beach since she was a child, product design student Lucy Hughes, now 24, was distraught by the amount of single-use plastic she saw littering the shore and water. So she invented a bioplastic made from fish scales and skin collected at a fish processing plant. The scales and skin are bound together with red algae. For her product, called MarinaTex, Hughes just won a James Dyson Award recognizing ingenious design. From Smithsonian:

The resulting product is strong, flexible and translucent, with a feel similar to plastic sheeting. It biodegrades on its own in four to six weeks, which gives it a major sustainability advantage over traditional bioplastics, most of which require industrial composters to break down. In addition to utilizing materials that would otherwise be thrown away, the production process itself uses little energy, since it doesn’t require hot temperatures. One single Atlantic cod fish produces enough waste for 1,400 MarinaTex bags.

Read the rest

Huawei to get 3 more months before US ban is enacted

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

“Yet another delay” in the Trump administration's threatened U.S. ban on China's Huawei technologies, Colin Lecher reports at The Verge.

Commerce Department documents filed today show that the Trump administration’s ban on Huawei products will not go into effect for another three months, meaning the holiday shopping season profits will be far less affected.

From The Verge:

Earlier this year, citing concerns of electronic espionage, the United States moved to restrict the purchase of equipment from “foreign adversaries.” The decision took aim directly at Huawei, as officials expressed concern that the Chinese government could exploit the China-based company to spy on Americans. (The company has denied any wrongdoing.)

But after the initial announcement, Huawei and its subsidiaries were quickly granted licenses to continue work in the US. And after one 90-day delay ended in August, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross granted another, giving rural wireless carriers that rely on Huawei products time to change their equipment.

The delay was again set to end this week, but according to the documents, the US will grant another extension. Barring yet another change, the ban is now set to take effect after February 16th, 2020.

Huawei is getting three more months before US ban takes effect [theverge.com] Read the rest

900 pages of leaked Iranian spy cables reveal how America's failures after invasions allowed Iran to seize control of Iraqi politics

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

An anonymous source claiming to be an Iraqi patriot sent The Intercept leaks of 900 pages' worth of spy-agency cables and memos sent by Iranian spies in Iraq; James Risen (previously) reported them out in a joint project with the New York Times that reveals how the US's post-invasion nation-building failures created a political vacuum that Iran filled, allowing it to dominate the political and tactical landscape in Iraq.

The leaks include a lot of juicy spy stuff -- skullduggery, spycraft and thrilling escapes -- but the main thrust of them is to show just how deeply embedded Iranian partisans are within the Iraqi state at the highest levels (and throughout the government at all levels), and how Iranian spy agencies have turned CIA informants into double agents, gaining the upper hand in the region (though that's changing somewhat as protests in southern Iraq have targeted political parties and institutions that are friendly to Iran).

The leaks also reveal how the US's chaotic failures in their post-invasion "nation building" exercises created the conditions for Iranian dominance over Iraqi politics. From "de-Baathification" that saw anyone who held any role in the Saddam Hussein stripped of their jobs (but not their guns!) after the invasion -- a purge that included even the most petty of "officials" such as schoolteachers -- to the string of grifty Beltway Bandits who were contracted with to deliver key initiatives but instead disappeared, leaving nothing behind but inflated cost-plus invoices.

In addition to shedding light on the way that other major powers reacted to the US failures in post-invasion Iraq, the leaks also provide a rare insight into the ultra-secretive Iranian intelligence apparatus, which has not suffered major breaches of this sort. Read the rest

Vegans sue Burger King over meat contamination of Impossible Burger Whopper

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Some vegans have filed a lawsuit against Burger King because they cook the Impossible Burger Whoppers on the same grill as their meat burgers. According to the suit, the Impossible Whopper is not a vegan option and the restaurant doesn't disclose the meat contamination on their menu. Of course, vegans and vegetarians have been quite vocal about this issue since the Impossible Whopper's introduction.

According to TMZ, plaintiff Philip Williams "not only wants damages ... he wants the judge to order Burger King to stop cooking Impossible Burgers and the OG burgers on the same grill. Read the rest

Don't blink or you'll miss this record-setting 1.82 second Formula 1 pit stop

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

This is the third time this season that Red Bull Racing broke the pit stop record, this time with a 1.82 second servicing of Max Verstappen's car during yesterday's Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix. I hope robots never take their jobs.

Read the rest

Dog drives car

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Via LAD Bible

Read the rest

Review: Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

"I have had it with these motherfucking Sith on this motherfucking train!" --GPS1138, Video Game Enthusiast

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order is the best Star Wars game I've played since Knights of the Old Republic, which is one of the best video games of all time.

I did not want to buy Fallen Order. I figured that much like all the other bullshit EA opportunities to rake in cash from Star Wars fans, this game would probably suck. The trailers tempted me but the game's protagonist was yet another whiny appearing young white male with resting Sith face.

Day one and two reviews were so strong I found myself watching others play on Twitch and quickly realized I wanted to play through this adventure myself. I bought the game.

Meet Cal Kestis, a young man who was formerly a Jedi Padawan. Having survived Order 66, Cal starts the game with all the cringe-inducing drama and angst of a Star Wars Jedi trainee. Cal is trying to keep his force powers hidden but must use them to save a pal, thus ensuring the Inquisitors immediately arrive and he must run.

BD-1 rapidly becomes Cal's droid pal and is the most useful and fun droid in a Star Wars game yet. I feel obligated to say BD BD BD often. Cere, Greez and number of other characters aid you on your mission to do what most every single non-Skywalker Star Wars story has seemed to invovle for ages: Jedi babies.

THERE WAS A LASAT JEDI MASTER! Read the rest

Prankster puts fake AirPod stickers on city streets

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Pablo Rochat tweeted: "I made life-size AirPod stickers and stuck them on the ground, all over the city 🤡"

pic.twitter.com/d6CncPEPlI

— Pablo Rochat (@PabloRochat) November 17, 2019

Read the rest

How a couple of guys shut down a scam call center in Delhi

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Jim Browning runs a YouTube channel dedicated to busting fake PC support scam centers. In this episode Browning shows how he and a partner managed to bring down a call center in Dehli. Read the rest

Chicago bar installs 70 singing Big Mouth Billy Bass

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Way to go, Chicago! When you want something, make it happen! Read the rest

Two chemistry professors, neither named Walter White, busted for allegedly brewing meth

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

In Arkansas, Henderson State University chemistry professors Terry D. Bateman, 45, and Bradley A. Rowland, 40, were charged on Friday with making methamphetamine. They had been put on administrative leave on October 11. From the New York Times:

(Tina V. Hall, a university associate vice president of marketing and communications) said the school’s Reynolds Science Center had been closed on Oct. 8 because of “a report of an undetermined chemical odor.” Testing revealed an elevated presence of benzyl chloride in a lab, she said...

Stephen J. Madison, who is on the chemistry faculty at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., said that benzyl chloride could be used to help make methamphetamine...

It was not clear whether the chemical smell in the school building had prompted the investigation by law enforcement.

Read the rest

Joe Biden, failing to support legalized marijuana, still thinks it may be a gateway drug

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Joe Biden, claiming to represent whichever generation claims him as their own, says that we STILL need to determine if marijuana is a gateway drug.

Washington Post:

But the 76-year-old Democrat is in tune with at least one demographic: his peers in the silent generation, who, at 35 percent, have what may be one of the lowest percentages of support for marijuana legalization, according to the Pew data released Nov. 14.

This disparity on the topic came into full view at a town hall in Las Vegas over the weekend, when Biden drew some groans from the crowd by saying he wants to see more research on marijuana and suggesting that it may be a “gateway drug” that can lead users to harsher substances.

“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” Biden said. “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”

Read the rest

How to add the Google Play Store to your 2019 Amazon Fire 10 HD tablet

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

The very first thing I did with my new Amazon Fire HD 10 was to install the Google Play Store.

I love Amazon's bargain tablets, they are a cheap Android device with heavy integration into Amazon. I ignore the shopping and love the Prime Video. Installing Google Play store gives me access to all the stuff Amazon doesn't provide: Gmail, Chrome and thousands of Android apps.

The process is very simple and only requires you download and permit four .apks to install (all files come from APK Mirror):

You will have to permit the files to be installed as Amazon doesn't love Google as a source.

First: Google Account Manager 7.1.2 (Android 6.0+) Second: Google Services Framework 9 (Android 9.0+) Third: Google Play services 19.6.29 (100300-278422107) (100300) Fourth: Google Play Store 17.5.18-all [0] [PR] 280467566 (nodpi) (Android 4.1+)

This is my fourth such Amazon tablet and I have never had an issue with Amazon trying to block this activity.

The new Amazon Fire HD 10 has some decent CPU and memory upgrades. I am trying it out this week and will review soon. Thus far, its the same as the old one but faster and with a slightly better screen.

All-New Fire HD 10 Tablet (10.1" 1080p full HD display, 32 GB) via Amazon Read the rest

Why airport gates are so damn far apart

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

I mean, it’s fascinating, but it doesn’t make me loath sprinting to make my connecting flight any less.

 

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

Gummi Tetris

Nov 18, 2019

Description:

Shown here is the sixteenth version of "Softbody Tetris" (also an entire genre) by C4D4U, a depiction of falling blocks made of gummi candy. It's necessary to use a powerful computer to simulate this because otherwise the tetronimoes would be eaten before settling into place.

It makes me happy to create such stuff. It makes a lot of fun. ASMR for my eyes ;) I love the original Tetris game. And I love Jelly 😋

Read the rest

There is finally an approved vaccine for Ebola

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

The European Medicines Agency approved a vaccine for the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. The vaccine has already been administered to hundreds of thousands of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, saving countless lives during an ongoing epidemic there. From Nature:

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to allow US pharmaceutical company Merck to market its vaccine means that the product can now be stockpiled and, potentially, distributed more widely, in particular in Africa. In 2015, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — a global health partnership that funds vaccine supplies in low-income countries — told Ebola-vaccine manufacturers that it would commit to purchasing vaccines once they had been approved by a “stringent health authority” such as the EMA...

“This is a vaccine with huge potential,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi in Geneva, Switzerland, in a press release after the EMA decision. “It has already been used to protect more than 250,000 people in the DRC and could well make major Ebola outbreaks a thing of the past.”

Image: "Ebola virus virion" by CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith (Public Domain) Read the rest

Ergonomic JoyCon replacements for the Nintendo Switch make older hands happier

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

I really like these 'ergonomic' JoyCon replacements.

The tiny JoyCons are a pain to hold. These replacements make holding the Switch while you play a lot easier for my carpal tunnel suffering hands.

Everything works like the stock JoyCon, except there is something substantial to hold on to.

Wireless Controller for Switch, BestOff Neon Red Neon Blue Controllers Compatible for Nintendo Switch Console via Amazon Read the rest

God of Death deployed to enforce railway laws in India

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

In Mumbai, India, the Western Railway deployed a police officer dressed as Yamarāja, a Hindu god of death, to educate commuters about railway safety and enforce the laws. From Zee News:

Railway Ministry's handle warned the people in Hindi, "Do not cross the track in an unauthorised manner, it can be fatal."

"If you cross the track in an unauthorized way, then Yamraj will be standing in front of you," Railway Ministry added.

In 2018, as many as seven people on an average lost their lives on a daily basis due to carelessness in crossing railway tracks illegitimately. At least 1,476 people had lost their lives while crossing the railway tracks while over 650 people died after falling off the trains.

Read the rest

[UPDATED] No one on Twitter knows what to make of this video

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

This is one of the more WTF videos I've seen in a while. It starts with a jack-in-the-box getting tossed off a school(?) bus in New York(?) and ends with one of the greatest reveals since Nicolas Roeg's 1973 psychological thriller, Don't Look Now.

It may very well be staged because it's just too good.

OMG I don't even know what to do with this! pic.twitter.com/Yl7MDwHNs8

— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 12, 2019

Image: Twitter

[Updated 11/12/19 4:03pm PT] Indeed, it's a skit by Daniel Jean:

Read the rest

Simulation of a sub implosion

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

The Argentine sub San Juan vanished in 2017 and its wreckage was found only months later, but from the search mission's outset rescuers suspected what had happened. The sound of an implosion—"a singular, anomalous, violent, non-nuclear event"—was picked up hours after the vessel's last transmission. If you are horrified by the idea of a huge metal can being suddenly crushed by water pressure, this computer simulation of the San Juan's demise may well rationalize and deepen your conviction never to set foot on a sub. Read the rest

Trump says daughter Ivanka has created "created 14 million jobs"

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Trump spoke at the Economic Club of New York today and surprised attendees with the good news that his daughter Ivanka has created "created 14 million jobs" in the United States. That's almost 10% of the US workforce. Thanks, Ivanka!

From The Intelligencer:

At a speech to the Economic Club of New York today, President Trump declared that his daughter, Ivanka, has personally created 14 million new jobs. The president announced this figure — so astonishingly ludicrous it would embarrass a Stalin-era pronouncement — and then repeated it twice more as the crowd applauded politely.

The entire U.S. economy has created fewer than 6 million new jobs since Trump took office. So Trump is crediting his daughter with having personally created more than 200 percent of all new jobs in the United States. This is like supply-side economics but for authoritarian nepotism.

Image: Mark Frauenfelder. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

Sycophant and former ambassador Nikki Haley struggles on the Today Show

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

This is perhaps not the best week for sycophants.

Nikki Haley picked the wrong month to release a book. She's getting roasted by *everyone*. I wonder if she thought this was going to be a softball interview. Because it was *not*. #tuesdaymorning #todayshowpic.twitter.com/s596nOU5CQ

— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 12, 2019

Read the rest

Dog tries to eat $250,000 Porsche

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

The Google Translation of this Instagram post: "And you wake up in the morning to discover that Firulais entertains himself by biting your $250,000.00 Porsche in this house."

View this post on Instagram

Y te levantas en la mañana a descubrir que Firulais se entretiene mordiendo tu Porsche de $250,000.00 en esta casa hoy se come perro caliente 🌭 #malinois #facebook #chrispuls Que harían ustedes con Firulais luego de semejante muestra de afecto?

A post shared by DON OMAR (@donomar) on Nov 7, 2019 at 3:31am PST

[via Core77] Read the rest

China has 500+ Uighur camps and prisons and is holding far more than one million, activists say

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

On Tuesday, advocates for human rights for China's Uighur minority said they have documented 500 camps and prisons in China run by the government to detain people identified as belonging to that targeted ethnic group.

The activists say that when you add up the number of detention facilities they've identified, it means China must be holding a total number of Uighur people that far exceeds the commonly cited figure of one million people.

From AFP via Yahoo News:

The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, a Washington-based group that seeks independence for the mostly Muslim region known to China as Xinjiang, said it assessed images from Google Earth and found 182 suspected "concentration camps" which it listed by coordinates.

The group, which said it matched its findings with on-the-ground information, said it also spotted 209 suspected prisons and 74 suspected labor camps which it would share later.

"In large part these have not been previously identified, so we could be talking about far greater numbers" of people detained, said Kyle Olbert, the director of operations for the movement.

"If anything, we are concerned that there may be more facilities that we have not been able to identify," he told a news conference in suburban Washington.

Anders Corr, an analyst who formerly worked in US intelligence and who advised the group, said that around 40 percent of the sites had not been previously reported.

China uses torture and sexual abuse to “forcibly integrate Uighurs into the Han majority, including pressuring Muslims to give up tenets of their faith such as praying and abstaining from pork and alcohol,” the report continues. Read the rest

Cheap safe looks like a book

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

If you have a lot of books at home, a cheap book safe like this is a good way to hide small things. The inside storage area is 2" x 5.625" x 9" and the book looks like a dictionary. (Crooks already know to scan bookshelves for The New English Dictionary, so you should put a jacket from another book on it.)

It has a lock and two keys to discourage snooping if someone pulls the book off the shelf. Read the rest

PHOTO: Rudy Giuliani with Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, third 'unnamed associate'

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

One for the ages. Almost looks like one of those garage sale black velvet paintings with the dogs playing poker.

THIS is an absolutely incredible new photo of former Donald Trump's personal lawyer and current investigation target Rudy Giuliani, along with his distinguished Russian gentlemen friends Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and a third 'unnamed associate.'

Wow. Here's the full image.

Read the ProPublica report, which is even more insane than the photo (and true): Giuliani Was Close to a Podcast Deal With the News Outlet That Spread His Ukraine Conspiracies

To begin with, I'm not ruling out that the handbag is actually a European Men's Accessory

— Tom Gara (@tomgara) November 12, 2019

Read the rest

Trump policies result in 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over past year

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

We're number one. In the racist, eugenicist, genocidal theft of infants, toddlers, and tender-age children from undocumented and mostly indigenous migrants who are fleeing violence in Guatemala and other Central American failed states.

An Associated Press investigation found that America held a record number of kids in 2019. An estimated 69,550 migrant children were held in U.S. government custody over the past year, which is enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium.

From the AP report:

This month, new government data shows the little girl is one of an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.

Some of these migrant children who were in government custody this year have already been deported. Some have reunited with family in the U.S., where they’re trying to go to school and piece their lives back together. About 4,000 are still in government custody, some in large, impersonal shelters. And more arrive every week.

The video in this post is the trailer for KIDS CAUGHT IN THE CRACKDOWN, a new documentary series coming from this AP investigative reporting team and PBS FRONTLINE:

This story is part of an ongoing joint investigation between The Associated Press and the PBS series FRONTLINE on the treatment of migrant children, which includes the film “Kids Caught in the Crackdown” premiering on PBS and online Nov.

Read the rest

Venice is flooded right now and it looks miserable

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Rising tides and rain in Venice are flooding the city, and hotels are giving guests knee-high rubber boots so they can slosh their way from one tourist attraction to another.

From Yahoo News:

The high water, known locally as “acqua alta”, was amusing for tourists and a nuisance for residents going about their business, but levels were far lower than the 1.94 meters (6ft 4in) in the devastating November 1966 flood.

But even lower levels of the salty high water over the years take their toll on the city, eroding foundations of homes, businesses and city buildings.

Bad weather is continuing to dog Italy, with no real let-up forecast for several days.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

David Arquette and Zabrecky seek out "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

David Arquette is my new fashion hero.

After you watch every episode of Other Side with Zabrecky, you will want to read his book. Read the rest

VIDEO: Hurricane destruction, one century in one minute

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

This video visualizes a century of tropical storm destruction in one minute.

Amazing work by Aslak Grinstead.

Damages are framed in terms of an equivalent Area of Total Destruction. How large an land area do you have to completely destroy to account for the reported economic damages for each event.

I made it using matplotlib for the visuals, and mido plus my favourite daw (@reasonstudios) for the audio.

— Aslak Grinsted (@AGrinsted) November 12, 2019

[watch the video here, via] Read the rest

Workers sue McDonald's over McSexual Harassment

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

On Tuesday, McDonald’s Corporation was sued by a group of workers in the state of Michigan who say the global fast-food chain allows pervasive sexual harassment to run rampant at its restaurant locations.

The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in a Michigan state court, and charges McDonald’s with failing to have policies in place to address sexual harassment, failing to train managers to prevent abuse, and punishing workers who report abuse.

The lawsuit claims McDonald’s “creates and permits a toxic work culture from the very top,” and cites the firing just last week of McDonalds CEO Steve Easterbrook, who is reported to have had an improper sexual relationship with a subordinate employee.

Easterbrook has not been accused of sexual harassment, and says he made a mistake.

From Reuters:

McDonald’s said in a statement it is implementing safe-workplace training at its corporate-owned restaurants, and encouraging franchisees to do the same.

“There is a deeply important conversation around safe and respectful workplaces in communities throughout the U.S. and around the world,” McDonald’s said, echoing comments made in August by its new chief executive, Chris Kempczinski.

Roughly 95% of McDonald’s U.S. restaurants are franchised, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers said the Chicago-based company does not push hard enough to improve training at the franchised restaurants.

Read more: McDonald's workers sue over sexual harassment, 'toxic' work culture [Reuters, Daniel Wiessner, Jonathan Stempel] Read the rest

Supercar maker Vector has the world's best website

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Vector made bizarre high-performance supercars that still command six-figure price tags decades after manufacture. Check out its amazing website. Note:

1. The wonder. The design. The impeccable taste. 2. The whole website is a single unclickable image, including the menu buttons. I just uploaded Vector's whole actual website as this post's "Featured Image."

In other words, Vector's website is exactly what it should be: a technically impractical concept design that looks cool but turns out to be an incomplete prototype.

Check out the Vector V8's dashboard/cockpit, replete with amber electroluminescent display.

Read the rest

At Roger Stone trial, Rick Gates says Trump knew of WikiLeaks plans

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Trump likely lied to Mueller about 2016 WikiLeaks email plans, if this is true.

Nice people catch a baby bear falling from a tree

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

This little bear got stuck in a tree and was about to fall. Fortunately, three men with a blanket just happened to be there to break its fall.

To catch a falling bear

Image: Imgur Read the rest

Mouse deer, thought to be extinct spotted for first time in 30 years

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

A species of mouse deer called the silver-backed chevrotain was thought to be lost to science after 30 years of no sightings, but a video camera in a Vietnam forest captured one as it foraged for food.

From The Guardian:

The pictures of the rabbit-sized animal, also known as the silver-backed chevrotain, are the first to be taken in the wild and come nearly 30 years after the last confirmed sighting.

“We had no idea what to expect, so I was surprised and overjoyed when we checked the camera traps and saw photographs of a chevrotain with silver flanks,” said An Nguyen, a scientist and expedition team leader at Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC).

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Facial recognition tools shared by 'Massive, secretive network of police departments'

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

At Medium's OneZero [@ozm], new reporting based on “thousands of pages of previously undisclosed emails” confirms “the existence of a massive, secretive network of police departments working together to share controversial facial recognition tools.”

That's not good.

And here's what's worse.

"Officers on the listserv are encouraged to adopt a Fight Club-style directive that precludes group members from discussing the existence of the list publicly," writes Michael Hayes [@michaelhayes].

Excerpt:

The emails, which date back to at least 2016, also indicate that these departments explicitly tried to keep this cross-department partnership secret from the public. These emails were shared with OneZero from a source who obtained the documents through an open records request.

Many of these cross-department requests in Washington state were made through a previously undisclosed email listserv known as FITlist. FITlist — with FIT standing for “Fraud and Identity Theft” — includes officers from at least a dozen police departments, from large organizations like the Seattle police and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to smaller ones like the Richland and Marysville police. Officers on the listserv are encouraged to adopt a Fight Club-style directive that precludes group members from discussing the existence of the list publicly. One document explicitly says: “Do not mention FITlist in your reports or search warrant affidavits.”

Shankar Narayan, Director of the Technology and Liberty Project for ACLU of Washington, says that the use of a listserv to make backroom requests “with no opportunity for the public to know and to understand” what information is being shared is concerning.

Read the rest

The Dude's Pendleton sweater will keep me warm this winter

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

The Pendleton Westerly shawl collar sweater is super cool, but keeps me warm.

All my winter stuff is in storage and I have no access to it. I expected to be out of storage before the winter came, but now I am cold and without my favorite sweaters: cable knit shawl collar sweaters ala Steve McQueen. Deal is this: I have enough shawl collar sweaters in multiple colors that I do not need duplicates. When I am finally able to get all my stuff out of storage I will be very happy, but I have too much stuff.

Another sweater made famous by media that I love, and super comfortable too boot, is the Pendleton Westerly. This ultra-comfortable 3GG sweater immediately lets people know that you are a chill slacker who doesn't care much about anything, while also keeping you warm.

Vintage models are available on ebay and etsy, but Pendleton has been making an exact-ish replica of the Dude's sweater for a few years now.

Pendleton Original Westerly Sweater via Amazon Read the rest

Owner of taco chain also meth lord, say cops

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Adolfo “Flaco” Mitchell, 34, owns a chain of taco restaurants in coastal Georgia. He's also been indicted for drug trafficking and conspiracy.

Police say Mitchell, who owns multiple Flacos House restaurants, was having methamphetamine shipped to him to distribute throughout the Savannah area. They say Mitchell was also directing others to transport methamphetamine to other states, including Virginia.

Mitchell remains jailed Monday. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.

Read the rest

Announcing the winners of Sense About Science's 2019 Maddox Prize

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

The UK charity Sense About Science (previously) has announced the winners of its 2019 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science:forest fire expert Bambang Hero Saharjo and pharmacist Olivier Bernard.

Saharjo, "the foremost expert on illegal and destructive forest and land fires in Indonesia," has faced threats, harassment, intimidation and lawsuits for his reporting on peatland forest fires, through which palm oil companies illegally clear land at a devastating environmental and public health cost.

Bernard is a Quebecois pharmacist who campaigned against junk-science pushers who wanted the public health system to reimburse cancer patients who opted for expensive, ineffective high-dose vitamin C "therapy." Like Saharjo, Bernard faced retaliation in the form of attacks on his professional work, calls for his employer to sack him, death threats -- even attempts to get his wife's books boycotted.

Bambang Hero Saharjo: “I still do not believe that I am receiving the prestigious John Maddox Prize. Only last year I was criminalised for presenting evidence and being forced to pay nearly rp.510 billion by the palm oil companies, who had been found guilty of preparing to plant palms by burning 1000 hectares of peatland. Finally the lawsuit was rejected and I am free. Using fire for land preparation is so destructive to the environment and it is destroying the health of local people. This is what the evidence shows. The prize will give me more power to say it and to fight the misrepresentation by companies who continue use of fire.

Read the rest

New 5G vulnerabilities could put phone users at risk

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Security researchers at Purdue and U. of Iowa confirm what many security experts have long feared: there are serious security weaknesses in 5G that undermine the promised security and privacy protections.

About a dozen vulnerabilities have been identified by the researchers, who report that the bugs can allow a bad guy to track your actual real-time location, send large numbers of people fake emergency alerts to trigger public panic or disconnect a 5G-connected phone from the network altogether.

5G was promised to be a more secure standard than 4G, able even to keep your data and voice safe from “stingrays” that present themselves as cell towers and spy on you.

But, nope. Also researchers say some of the attacks they've newly identified can also be exploited on existing 4G networks.

Worst of all, it's pretty cheap and easy to pull off the new exploits.

“All of the new attacks can be exploited by anyone with practical knowledge of 4G and 5G networks and a low-cost software-defined radio,” reports Zack Whittaker [@zackwhittaker] of TechCrunch:

The researchers expanded on their previous findings to build a new tool, dubbed 5GReasoner, which was used to find 11 new 5G vulnerabilities. By creating a malicious radio base station, an attacker can carry out several attacks against a target’s connected phone used for both surveillance and disruption.

In one attack, the researchers said they were able to obtain both old and new temporary network identifiers of a victim’s phone, allowing them to discover the paging occasion, which can be used to track the phone’s location — or even hijack the paging channel to broadcast fake emergency alerts.

Read the rest

This White House appointee has an extremely creative resume

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Following in Melania's footsteps, while vetted by the White house, Mina Chang apparently embellished her resume to the point even Congress caught it.

Much like Orange Julius, she also proudly displayed a fake Time cover.

NBC:

Time magazine spokesperson Kristin Matzen said the cover is "not authentic."

A fake Time magazine cover with Mina Chang. Chang's biography says she was part of a panel on drones in humanitarian relief efforts convened by the U.N. But there's no record backing up her claim and a source with knowledge of the matter said she was not part of the "panel," which was a single public roundtable.

Chang says in her official biography that she is as an "alumna" of Harvard Business School. But according to the university, Chang attended a seven-week course in 2016, and does not hold a degree from the institution.

Her biography on the State Department website says she is a "graduate" of a program at the Army War College. But the program she attended was a four-day seminar on national security, according to the college.

Chang does not cite any undergraduate degree in her biography, but her LinkedIn account mentions the University of the Nations, an unaccredited Christian school with volunteer teachers that says it has 600 locations "on all continents."

Read the rest

Why is Facebook's iOS app accessing my camera while I do unrelated things, users ask

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

Facebook says, oops, it's 'likely' a bug.

Goodbye Libra, hello Facebook Pay

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

A new proprietary online payment system for WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook launches today, exactly two weeks after all the payment companies dropped out of Libra.

The evil bastards at Facebook, to whom we're now supposed to refer as FACEBOOK, today unveiled Facebook Pay, which is not all caps, and which will work on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, to let users shop, donate to causes, and pay friends.

Here's the official announcement at newsroom.fb.com.

“The service will be separate from Facebook’s new Calibra wallet and the Libra network, and it’s 'built on existing financial infrastructure and partnerships,'” reports Tom Warren [@tomwarren] at The Verge:

Facebook is planning to start rolling out Facebook Pay on Messenger and Facebook in the US this week. It will initially be available for fundraisers, person-to-person payments, event tickets, in-game purchases, and some purchases from pages and businesses that operate on Facebook’s Marketplace. “Over time, we plan to bring Facebook Pay to more people and places, including for use across Instagram and WhatsApp,” explains Deborah Liu, Facebook’s vice president of marketplace and commerce.

Facebook Pay will be available in the settings section of the Facebook or Messenger apps, and it will support most debit and credit cards and PayPal. Facebook is using Stripe, PayPal, and others to process these payments.

Facebook isn’t revealing exactly when this payment system will be available across all of its apps, nor when it will launch internationally. Facebook Pay comes just weeks after a large number of payment companies dropped out of Facebook’s Libra project.

Read the rest

Stephen Miller's seriously racist emails

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

The Southern Poverty Law Center's HATEWATCH shares a number of leaked emails written by Trump Administration lackey Stephen Miller. Unsurprisingly, Miller expresses many racist ideas.

Sadly, many have become administration policy.

SPLC:

In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch.

The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds the policies he has helped create as an architect of Donald Trump’s presidency. These policies include reportedly setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order effectively banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries and a policy of family separation at refugee resettlement facilities that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said is causing “intense trauma” in children.

Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails via SPLC Read the rest

Cute "mouse-deer," long lost to science, has been photographed again

Nov 12, 2019

Description:

This is a silver-backed chevrotain, aka "mouse-deer," from Vietnam. Until this and other camera trap photographs were taken in the last two years, no scientific evidence of the rabbit-sized animal had been collected in three decades. From Nature:

The animal was first described in 1910 from four specimens, but since then only one verifiable record exists, from the early 1990s. The Red List of Threatened Species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the silver-backed chevrotain (Tragulus versicolor) as ‘data deficient’.

Indigenous people living in the Nha Trang forest suggested where the scientists should place their camera traps to get the animals on film.

“To these local people our camera-trap evidence that the silver-backed chevrotain survives in Vietnam is not new,” says (Global Wildlife Conservation scientist Andrew) Tilker. “But to the wider scientific community, we are comfortable saying that our findings constitute a rediscovery.” Read the rest

Trump pushed AG Barr to hold press briefing to say POTUS broke no laws in Ukraine phone call

Nov 7, 2019

Description:

Even Bill Barr knew it was dumb

DOJ charges former Twitter staff with spying for Saudi Arabia, digging into MBS critics' accounts

Nov 7, 2019

Description:

Twitter has some very serious security explaining to do.

The Department of Justice is charging former Twitter employees with espionage on allegations of improperly accessing the accounts of people who were critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including specifically Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

One of the suspects has been arrested.

The charges were unveiled Wednesday. You can read the U.S. charges here.

MBS and the KSA are believed to have murdered Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi by cutting off his head and dismembering him alive.

“One of those implicated in the scheme, according to court papers, is an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA has concluded likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year.” Greg Bensinger and Ellen Nakashima for the Washington Post report:

The charges, unveiled Wednesday in San Francisco, came a day after the arrest of one of the former Twitter employees, Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen who is alleged to have spied on the accounts of three users — including one whose posts discussed the inner workings of the Saudi leadership — on behalf of the government in Riyadh.

Abouammo is also charged with falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation.

The second former Twitter employee — Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen — was accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi Arabia. One of those accounts belonged to a prominent dissident, Omar Abdulaziz, who later became close to Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who advocated for free expression in the Arab world.

Read the rest

Enter this giveaway for your chance to win a $1K credit to the airline of your choice

Nov 7, 2019

Description:

Being home for the holidays is great, but it's nice to know you've got a vacation waiting just around the corner. Impossible with all those gift expenses? Not so. Right now, you can enter for a chance to win a $1000 gift certificate to the airline of your choice. Entry is free, so you've got nothing to lose.

And hey, now that we've got you excited about impending travel plans, here are a few other deals that are the next best thing to free: Deep discounts on some innovative and essential vacation gear, from carry-on bags to support pillows.

Twist Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Got neck or back problems that keep you from sleeping on flights or buses? This pillow can target them no matter where they are. The memory foam cushion bends into whatever shape you need to support your head, spine or shoulders.

Sale Price: $19.99

MSRP: $24.99

ALPAKA Shift Pack

Whether you're an urban commuter or mountaineer, the ALPAKA aims to be your go-to bag. It's got dedicated compartments for smartphones and laptops, plus quick-access pockets for cash or cards built into the straps. And with a waterproof, rolltop configuration, they'll all be well protected even on the longest hikes.

Sale Price: $189.00

MSRP:$249.00

Dr. Save Vacuum Travel Kit

This kit includes an air pump and four bags that will do more than just save you space. Pop in your clothes or other soft goods and the vacuum seal will reduce their volume by as much as 70%, allowing you to even take that bulky comforter on your next trip. Read the rest

Robert Crumb's iconic "Stoned Agin!" original art up for auction

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Heritage Auctions is selling one of the most recognizable pages in the history of underground comics:

The original art for an instantly recognizable image by legendary underground comics artist Robert Crumb is coming to auction for the first time ever in Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction Nov. 21-24 in Dallas, Texas.

Robert Crumb's “Stoned Agin!” Your Hytone Comix Inside Back Cover Original Art (Apex Novelties, 1971) is considered a “Holy Grail” among serious collectors of artwork by the iconic Crumb, and is being offered for the first time ever, in part because of the artist’s love of music.

For years, the whereabouts of the artwork (estimate: $250,000+) were unknown and the subject of considerable speculation.

“The consignor received the artwork directly from Robert Crumb,” Heritage Auctions Senior Vice President Todd Hignite said. “After moving to Northern California in 1970 and getting to know Crumb through friendships with other underground cartoonists, a trade was arranged with the artist, swapping some rare old blues 78 records for the artwork. The original has remained in our consignor’s personal collection ever since, buried away and securely stored for more than four decades, which has only added to the appeal and demand among collectors. This art is not only the great “lost” Crumb, but an incredibly key image for 1960s and 1970s counter-cultural history. Such powerful images that have been seared into the imaginations of so many very infrequently come up at auction.”

The art is in ink on Bristol board, with an image size of approximately 12 by 8 inches on paper measuring 13-7/8 by 10-7/8 inches.

Read the rest

How to get rid of hideous pantry moths

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Pantry moths are experts at finding their way into any open container of rice, flour, cereal, chips, nuts, etc. Then they breed in the boxes and bags. I hate it when I open a cabinet and a couple of moths fly out. It's even worse when I look at a bag of rice, and it is alive with motion.

We've been putting our food into wide-mouth mason jars with these convenient one-piece plastic lids. That has reduced the problem. We also started using pantry moth traps. These traps fold into little A-frame houses. The interior is coated with a sticky material that traps the flies. The traps also come with a postage stamp size pheromone lure to fool the pests into thinking a sexy moth is inside waiting for them. These things work well. After using them for a few weeks the only moths I see now are the dead ones stuck to the inside of the traps. Read the rest

Jump Around starring dogs and one special guest cat

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

I so enjoyed the poodle in a box that Xeni posted that I decided to add some more dog gifs, and also a cat, for a full minute of House of Pain's Jump Around. Read the rest

"Bigfoot Watcher Chasing Chemtrails Records a UFO"

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

At Mysterious Universe, Paul Seaburn writes:

In what can be considered an unusual convergence of conspiracy theories, a man who runs a Bigfoot videos YouTube channel was chasing chemtrails when he claimed to have recorded a UFO chasing them as well. If you’re playing Conspiracy Scrabble, ‘Chemtrail’, ‘Bigfoot’ and ‘UFO’ is a triple-word score.

According to his commentary during the video, Marc Abell –the CEO of Colorado Bigfoot, a provider of Bigfoot videos – was recording a plane making a contrail over a snow-covered terrain in Vail, Colorado, and believed the color and shape changes in the contrail were signs that the plane was actually spraying something rather than just trailing the usual water vapor and jet exhaust.

That's when Abell spotted the UFO.

Read the rest

Krispy Kreme has worked out a deal with the donut reseller

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

On Monday I posted a story about how Krispy Kreme told a 21-year-old college student that he couldn't buy its donuts at full retail price from a store in Iowa and resell them 250 miles away in Minnesota, where there are no Krispy Kreme stores.

Well, it looks like the corporate bigwigs at Krispy Kreme have changed their mind. Not only are they giving Jayson Gonzalez the OK to resell its donuts at a handsome profit, they are going to help him with his business and college education.

From CNN:

The company tells CNN that it was concerned that the doughnuts were not meeting its quality standards due to the long drive from Iowa to Minnesota.

However, after an outpouring of support, the company is now working on a deal with Gonzalez to allow him to become an independent operator.

"Today, we reached out to Jayson to express our appreciation for his love of Krispy Kreme and admiration for his entrepreneurial spirit," a spokeswoman for Krispy Kreme tells CNN. "We are going to help him achieve his goals, which include being debt-free when he graduates in 2021, in part by selling Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

"We wish Jayson great success and we're thrilled to help him achieve it by donating 500 dozen doughnuts when he re-starts his business."

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash Read the rest

Where is the 5th pig?

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

This is an anti-fascist puzzle made in occupied Netherlands circa 1940. Can you find the 5th pig? (Hint: Al Jaffee would have no problem finding it.)

Solution

[via r/interestingasfuck] Read the rest

Company's goal is to build orbiting space hotel by 2025

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

The Gateway Foundation is a private company that claims they could build the first orbital space hotel by 2025. According to their site, the Von Braun Rotating Space Station is designed "to accommodate both national space agencies conducting low gravity research and space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a nice hotel" large enough for 450 visitors. From Space.com:

Gateway Foundation officials acknowledge that the station might not be entirely finished by 2025, but the group aims to develop the station's main structure and basic functions by then. "We expect the operation to begin in 2025, the full station will be built out and completed by 2027. … Once the station's fully operational, our hope, our goal and our objective is to have the station available for the average person," (lead architect Timothy) Alatorre said. "So, a family or an individual could save up reasonably … and be able to have enough money to visit space and have that experience. … It would be something that would be within reach...

Alatorre said that the Gateway Foundation feels that such a project is now possible because the growing success of commercial aerospace companies like SpaceX has made launch options more affordable.

He added that the company admits that it's possible its timeline is pushing it somewhat. "We completely understand that delays are almost inevitable with aerospace, but based on our internal projections and the fact that we're already dealing with existing technology, we're not inventing anything new.

Read the rest

Liquid Wrench's dry lube for doors and hinges lubes doors and hinges well

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

I have been very happy Liquid Wrench Lock and Hinge Lube.

The back lid on my Volkswagen Vanagon started sticking a few years ago. A responsible person who does things right would likely take the panels off, clean everything up and lubricate it with whatever factory stuff was used. I have just taken to spraying some of this dry lube in the locks and other mechanisms once every year or so.

Doors and locks that were sticking or squeaky around the house have also been cured with one or two squirts of this 'ceflon' lubricant.

The spray straw is billed as some kind of special design. It is a very useful straw for directing lube where you want it, like on every other can of spray lube I've seen since the 80s or 90s?

Got sticky locks or squeaky hinges? This stuff is good.

Liquid Wrench LHL04/6 Lock and Hinge Lube - 4.5 oz. via Amazon Read the rest

RIP, Bozo the Clown [Updated]

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Frank Avruch, the first man to play Bozo the Clown, died [in 2018] in Boston at the age of 89, reports Syracuse.com. He played the role of happy red-haired merrymaker from 1959 to 1970, and starred in the nationally-syndicated television show in the 1960s.

Check out Avruch's wild Bozo hair and outfit in the video above. Pennywise would grovel before this Bozo's feet! Read the rest

Horse rescued from Virginia swimming pool

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Rixeyville, Virginia's Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team saved a horse who fell or jumped into a family's swimming pool overnight. When the team arrived, the fire department had already begun draining the pool and a firefighter had jumped in to keep the animal calm. After a vet sedated the horse, the Rescue Team used a sling attached to a tractor and lifted the horse out of the pool. From Fredericksburg.com:

The area had experienced high winds and a line of storms the night prior, Halloween night, and “Annie” a Haflinger had escaped from her field and went exploring, according to a Facebook post from Little Fork Volunteer Technical Large Animal Rescue Team.

The horse was probably thirsty and saw some water and “just like that” found herself in the swimming pool, the post stated.

Shortly after the rescue, Annie had recovered and was happily eating breakfast. Read the rest

Thief uses explosives to rob cash machine

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Using Jaws of Life to rob an ATM is just so fussy. Around 3:30am this morning, a thief blew up a cash machine outside a Premier convenience store in Nottinghamshire, England. According to one witness, after the huge explosion "there was cash everywhere."

The BBC News quotes another witness who said the perp "'stuffed around half of the cash into his hoodie' and quickly drove off when he noticed people were watching." Read the rest

James Dean returns to screen for movie about Vietnam War

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

James Dean died in a car crash in 1955, but that isn't stopping the actor from starring in an upcoming Vietnam War era movie called Finding Jack.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean," said [the film's director, Anton] Ernst ... "We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact. The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down."

While Finding Jack will be live action, The Hollywood Reporter understands that Dean’s performance will be constructed via "full body" CGI using actual footage and photos. Another actor will voice him.

Image: By In-house publicity still - Warner Bros. publicity still for for the film Rebel Without a Cause, Public Domain, Link Read the rest

Make a Game Boy inspired pendant with a miniature display of animated Mario clouds

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Adafruit has a tutorial on how to make a pendant that looks like a tiny Game Boy and has a display with endlessly scrolling Mario style clouds.

Read the rest

James Dean, dead for 65 years, will star in a new movie

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

James Dean, who died in 1955, will star in directors Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh's new action-drama flick Finding Jack. Apparently Dean will be entirely CGI with someone else lending the character's voice. From the Hollywood Reporter:

Adapted by Maria Sova from Gareth Crocker’s novel, Finding Jack is based on the existence and abandonment of more than 10,000 military dogs at the end of the Vietnam War. Dean will play a character called Rogan, considered a secondary lead role.

"We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean," said Ernst, who also produces with Golykh for Magic City Films alongside Donald A. Barton of Artistry Media Group.

"We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact. The family views this as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make. We do not intend to let his fans down."

Read the rest

Horrors await poor Sophie Foster in 'Keeper of the Lost Cities: Legacy'

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

The latest in Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Legacy is now available.

No one hates her protagonist as much as Shannon Messenger. I have enjoyed every moment of this series, watching Messenger find new ways to make poor Sophie Foster's life an absolute living hell.

While ostensibly these novels are about a group of teenaged Elves learning their magical elf powers and saving the world for elves, humans, trolls, gnomes and munchkins alike, the underlying and distinct themes be all kinds of weird.

I know parents let their kids read these books, I think they are better read as an adult dark comedy.

Early books in this series focus on subjecting Sophie to all sorts of ridiculous torture. She is abducted from her human family by 'elves' and informed her entire life was a lie, she is an elf hidden amongst humans for unknown nefarious purpose! Her human family must be killed to prevent anyone from discovering this fact. Thrown into a very catty school for gifted and talented 'elves' life only gets worse. Her foster family are an emotional wreck and worsen her situation. She is drugged, tortured and abandoned mid-way thru and adoption process. Sophie is also subject to casual sexual advances and innuendo from nearly all of her male friends; all apparently trying to manipulate her into various forms of codependent romantic relationships.

As you progress through the series Messenger starts showing the fairly disturbing pasts and present of Sophie's contemporaries, and making their lives tortuous. Read the rest

House Democrats schedule first open hearings in Trump impeachment inquiry

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

House Democrats have scheduled the first open hearings in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. The publicly televised hearings will begin next week with William Taylor, top US diplomat for Ukraine, and the State Department official George Kent.

The House Intelligence Committee will hold its first open hearings next week in the impeachment inquiry, chairman Adam Schiff [D-CA] announced this morning.

Next week, the House Intelligence Committee will hold its first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry.

On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, we will hear from William Taylor and George Kent.

On Friday, November 15, 2019, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch.

More to come.

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 6, 2019

From Bloomberg News:

William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state in the European and Eurasian bureau, will appear on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is scheduled for Nov. 15.

Taylor gave an account to House impeachment panels of efforts directed by Trump to tie U.S. military aid for Ukraine to his effort to get that country to promise an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election.

Taylor’s first-hand testimony has already been described as a smoking gun by Democrats on the House committees as they piece together a potential impeachment case against Trump.

[via]

Busy day coming again https://t.co/Rrkzb25FpM

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) November 6, 2019

Read the rest

Watch 2 cats watch a cat run across football field mid-game

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Recursive Kittens Are Recursive

Rudy Giuliani almost starred in ‘Fraud Guarantee’ cable TV infomercials

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Oh, imagine the internet content glory we almost had.

Lev Parnas and his associate David Correia were planning to produce a series of ‘Fraud Guarantee’ TV infomercials starring Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

We almost had to put up with even MORE of Rudy on cable news, report Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast:

The company was called Fraud Guarantee, and it was run by Lev Parnas and David Correia, who were both arrested last month and charged with criminal violations of campaign-finance law—charges to which both have pleaded not guilty. Parnas and Correia had used Fraud Guarantee to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Giuliani, with whom they worked closely as he sought to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine and advance their own business interests in the country.

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Parnas and Correia had plans to expand Giuliani’s role with the company. As of early this year, they were looking to make him into Fraud Guarantee’s spokesman and public face.

Both sources described a key part of the plan: a television infomercial featuring Giuliani extolling the virtues of Fraud Guarantee and its services. Parnas and Correia wanted the ad campaign to start airing on U.S. cable-news channels shortly after Giuliani was finished representing Trump in matters pertaining to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation. The probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election concluded earlier this year.

Giuliani knew of the plan, reports The Daily Beast, and “had multiple discussions with the two men about possibly signing on as their national pitchman,” but sources say “it’s not clear whether any footage of those planned Fraud Guarantee infomercials was ever shot, or if any deal was ultimately officially inked.”

Also completely not clear what the point was on any of this, since they had no known customers. Read the rest

Check out these clear products from Theodore Gray's new book, How Things Work

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Theodore Gray, the co-creator of Mathematica, has written a number of beautifully photographed books that I love: The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything, and Reactions: An Illustrated Exploration of Elements, Molecules, and Change in the Universe. I give all of them my highest recommendation.

Gray has a new book out called How Things Work: The Inner Life of Everyday Machines and it's another masterpiece. The publisher gave me permission to run a few sample pages from the chapter on "Clear Things," products that are transparent (often because they were made for prisoners and the prisons don't want prisoners hiding things inside opaque cases.

From the intro:

When I was young I saw for the first time a picture of a telephone with a transparent case. You could look inside and see all the electronic components that made it work! My first thought was “wow, that is so cool,” followed by “I want one.” But then I got worried.

A clear telephone seemed obviously superior to every other possible telephone, so why weren’t all telephones made with clear cases? Who could possibly want a phone that hid all the good stuff inside a pointlessly opaque case? I knew it couldn’t cost more to use clear plastic rather than colored plastic. Did the people who made telephones just not realize that they could use clear plastic? Could people smart enough to make a whole telephone really be that dumb?

Read the rest

Free deaths offered

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

A company in South Korea will give you a funeral for free, but you have to be alive while it happens.

Hyowon Healing Center opened in 2012 and promises visitors improved lives through simulated deaths.

Over 25,000 people have participated in mass “living funeral” services, the business claims.

From Reuters:

“Once you become conscious of death, and experience it, you undertake a new approach to life,” said 75-year-old Cho Jae-hee, who participated in a recent living funeral as part of a “dying well” program offered by her senior welfare center.

Dozens took part in the event, from teenagers to retirees, donning shrouds, taking funeral portraits, penning their last testaments, and lying in a closed coffin for around 10 minutes.

University student Choi Jin-kyu said his time in the coffin helped him realize that too often, he viewed others as competitors.

“When I was in the coffin, I wondered what use that is,” said the 28-year-old, adding that he plans to start his own business after graduation rather than attempting to enter a highly-competitive job market.

Dying for a better life: South Koreans fake their funerals for life lessons [reuters.com]

There have been previous rounds of coverage of the “death healing” operation, including this biomedical review and New York Times piece from years back -- and there are lots of interesting videos to watch.

[photo: Michell Trommler via pixabay] Read the rest

Exclusive samples from Charles Burns' new book, Free Shit

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Charles Burns is one of my all-time favorite cartoonists. I had no idea that since 2000 he has been self-publishing a zine that he sends to a small circle of friends, called Free Shit. I'm deeply hurt not to be included on his mailing list, but I can find a morsel of solace in this anthology of drawings from the pages of Free Shit.  The book is called Free Shit, and is published by Fantagraphics, who kindly gave me permission to run a selection of the drawings that appear in the book.

 

Read the rest

Phone call leads police to $800,000 in stolen art by an artist who believed Jesus was a space alien

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

Police in Los Angeles said on Tuesday they have recovered some $800,000 worth of stolen prints by the Scottish abstract expressionist and esotericist Benjamin Creme. The LAPD was led to this mysterious stolen art discovery by a phone call, and they ended up finding nearly 1,300 prints in a San Fernando valley home.

That caller, not identified, told LAPD the art work was found in a relative’s possessions after she died, and later the family realized the prints were listed in a database of stolen artwork.

“The family took the stuff and had it stored in their house for several years when they finally started going through it and discovered the art was stolen,” Detective Steven Franssen told the Associated Press. “They immediately packed it up and took it to the police station.”

From the AP:

The prints, each signed and numbered, include “Flame-Coloured Deva,” “Shakti II” and other colorful works by Creme, who in later years became better known for his belief in UFOs and predictions of a second coming of Christ and other messiahs. He died in London in 2016 at age 93.

Franssen said police returned the prints earlier this week to their incredulous owner, lithographer Michael Flaum, who made them. “He was extremely shocked when we called,” the detective said, chuckling. “He didn’t even believe it was the police department at first.”

Flaum said he discovered the theft one day in 2012 when he went to a locker where he had 2,300 prints stored. He would sell some from time to time to raise money for the artist, who in his later years was spending more time with metaphysical pursuits.

Read the rest

Kevin Kelly went to Myanmar and took these incredible photos

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

When my friend and Cool Tools partner Kevin Kelly showed me these photos he recently took in Myanmar, I told him that it seems like he has a time machine. And he said, " I do call it a time machine."

Read the rest

San Francisco e-cigarette sale ban prevails, Juul loses the vote it spent nearly $19 million on

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

In the San Francisco elections last night, it looks like there was a big loss for Juul.

According to the early vote count from the SF Chronicle and others, San Francisco voters have overwhelmingly defeated Proposition C in Tuesday's election. This means a citywide ban on the sale of electronic cigarette products will go into effect next year, if the numerous legal challenges don't get in the way.

Juul is reported to have spent close to $19 million dollars to pass Proposition C, which would have killed the plan to ban e-cig sales in San Francisco.

Juul lost big last night, along with Prop C.

BUT: Tobacco cigarettes, which are proven to cause cancer, are still available for sale.

a big loss for Juul, which poured nearly $19 million into this race. https://t.co/mzRllZBa4t

— Stephanie M. Lee (@stephaniemlee) November 6, 2019

JUUL put itself on the ballot with Proposition C and San Francisco voters overwhelmingly rejected it, forcing JUUL to drop its own campaign. This should embolden other cities and states to take action to protect children's health. https://t.co/AB8WD0Fmgf

— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) November 6, 2019

San Francisco also votes down Proposition C around vaping products, which was once backed by Juul, with 80.2% right now overwhelmingly saying "no", according to @sfchronicle https://t.co/cGTRcayhzs

— Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung) November 6, 2019

Early election results for Proposition C, which would overturn San Francisco’s ban on e-cigarettes and vaping products, show 78% voting no on the measure. Live results: https://t.co/uA0WcaRySK pic.twitter.com/MZVfm14gzg

— KRON4 News (@kron4news) November 6, 2019

[PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-4.0] Read the rest

Artist Drew Friedman has an exhibit at Ohio State University

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

A while back we ran some pages from Drew Friedman's new book All the Presidents, which has a portrait of every U.S. President, drawn by Drew. If you happen to be anywhere near Ohio State University, do yourself a favor and see Drew's "Drawn to Presidents” exhibit at the Billy Ireland Library & Museum.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum presents Drawn to Presidents: Portraits and Satiric Drawings by Drew Friedman November 2, 2019 through February 9, 2020.

Pennsylvania-based illustrator Drew Friedman has employed his intensely realistic, warts-and-all style of caricature to satirize celebrity and authority for four decades. In his latest book from Fantagraphics Books, All the Presidents, Friedman points his pen at the exclusive club of the United States presidents.

This exhibit features the original artwork created for All the Presidents, as well as presidential-themed original art created for, among others, SPY, MAD, TIME, Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Observer, and TOPPS “Wacky Packs.”

Building on a centuries-old tradition of cartoonists satirizing those in power, Friedman’s influences include Edward Sorel, Robert Grossman, Mort Drucker, David Levine, and more.

Read the rest

The FBI encouraged a white supremacist to bomb a synagogue

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

On Friday, November 1, 2019, the FBI arrested a self-proclaimed white supremacist named Richard Holzer, who was allegedly planning to bomb Temple Emanuel in Pueblo, Colorado—the second-oldest synagogue in the state.

Southern Colorado Man Charged With Federal Hate Crime For Plotting To Blow Up Synagogue

Press release: https://t.co/8bFPqO1bct

Pictured: U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, FBI SAC Dean Phillips & Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport addressing members of the media pic.twitter.com/nyJOy1he9z

— Colorado U.S. Attorney (@DCOnews) November 4, 2019

This is, largely, a good thing. After sleeping on the white supremacist infiltration of police departments all across the country, it's nice to see the FBI is actually taking action against this hugely dangerous epidemic. And there's absolutely no question that Richard Holzer was a white supremacist with violent intentions. As the Justice Department explained in a press release:

Holzer, who self-identifies as a skinhead and a white supremacist, told undercover FBI agents that he wanted to do something that would tell Jewish people in the community that they are not welcome in Pueblo, and they should leave or they will die. The affidavit states that during a meeting with the undercover agents, Holzer repeatedly expressed his hatred of Jewish people and his support for RAHOWA, shorthand for a racial holy war.

Holzer also told the undercover FBI agents that he had already hired a "witch doctor" to "hex and poison" the water at the Temple, paying a Mexican cook to add arsenic into the pipes. It's unclear if this actually happened, or if it actually accomplished anything—but clearly, this guy was trouble. Read the rest

Dream House Raffle people never awarded anyone a house, CBS News reports

Nov 6, 2019

Description:

No-one ever seems to live in a dream house won in a raffle, so CBS News began to wonder if there was ever really a dream house at all. It turns out that the San Francisco 'Dream House' raffle has "never awarded its top prize" of a dream house.

The fine print: there was a winner in two of the ten years tracked, but the fees associated with accepting the $10m prizes are so ominous (eating at least half the value of the prize from the outset, with taxes to come) that the winners will always plump for alternative cash prizes instead. Read the rest

In the mood for a different kind of horror movie tonight? Go see Parasite

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

If you’re in the mood for an intelligent, unconventional thriller of sorts, get out on the town and treat yourself to Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. Come for the promise of nail biting class tension, struggle and all-out war, but stay for the interpersonal relationships, architectural allegories and shocking scares that emerge over the course of Bong Joon Ho’s latest film.

The film is essentially about class relationships, yes, but unlike some recent (American) films that try to tackle the subject, the dynamic between the rich and poor isn’t cut-and-dried black and white. Parasite doesn’t just look at the poor as hopelessly depressed and the rich as cruel and greedy. The well-to-do in this film are moderately benevolent, living their own lives and oblivious to the destitute conditions of their hired help. Though we might cheer on the impoverished Kim family, they seem borderline sociopathic at times (most likely exacerbated by economic circumstances outside their control). We see the Kims pitted against a worse-off family and tensions escalate.

That the Kims don’t register that they have common interests with the other family isn’t a flaw on their part. And that the Parks don’t understand their role in maintaining the cycle of poverty isn’t a damnable offense either. Parasite doesn’t proclaim individuals to be the root cause of inequality. Instead, Bong focuses on the individual members of the families as a metaphor for the larger, systemic problems that heighten economic disparity and keep the working class pitted against itself in a continual cycle of poverty. Read the rest

New rare book catalog features book with Martian flora from 1903

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

One of most most memorable Cool Tools podcast episodes was with rare book expert Rebecca Romney. She recently started a new rare book firm in Washington D.C. called Type Punch Matrix and she sent me a catalog (PDF here).

A first edition of Food of the Gods (1904) by H.G. Wells, inscribed by him to his mother-in-law (who lived with him during the composition of War of the Worlds and his other major scientific romances)

A first edition of Journeys to the Planet Mars (1904) by Sara Weiss, a Spiritualist who used remote viewing to visit Mars. The book includes original illustrations of Martian flora, and a Martian glossary!

There's also a first American edition of Frankenstein next to an 1818 review of the true first edition (spoiler: it was not positive). The idea of the project was to pair books together in ways that created a dialogue.

See more page samples from Journeys to the Planet Mars or Our Mission to Ento here. Read the rest

One of these energy bars has as much caffeine as a shot of espresso

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

There are times when you don't have access to coffee or tea, but you still need a caffeine buzz. Or many you just don't like the taste of coffee or tea. That's what Verb Energy bars are for.

Each 90-calorie bar contains core ingredients like almond butter and agave. They come in flavors like Coconut Chai, Maple Blueberry, Simply Cocoa, and Salted Peanut Butter. They are all gluten-free and vegan. Best of all, they contain green tea caffeine, which has L-theanine in it.  Some studies have shown that L-theanine reduces anxiety.

Want to try some? Good timing. Verb Energy is offering a trial pack of four bars for free - all you pay for is the $3.95 in shipping. Read the rest

Memory Palace episode about Bobby "Boris" Pickett, the guy who sang "Monster Mash

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This episode of Nate DiMeo's excellent Memory Palace podcast is about one-hit wonder Bobby "Boris" Pickett, who wrote and performed the Halloween favorite, "Monster Mash" in 1962.

"If you want to really dig in," says Nate, "you should read, Monster Mash: Half Dead in Hollywood, his autobiography. If you have $1,500 you can buy a copy on Amazon.

Read the rest

The Life Cycle podcast dives into the simulation hypothesis rabbit hole

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

In Episode 3, John and Eva go down the rabbit hole and question what is reality itself and whether or not we are in fact, as Nick Bostrom first theorized and Elon Musk and many others believe, in a large scale simulation. Possibly one made by aliens. Or indeed our future descendants. We are such stuff as dreams are made on - who is to say we aren’t? Featuring Joshua Tan, Ph.D. in Computer Science, Oxford, And Professor Stefan Sorgner, Professor of Philosophy at John Cabot University, Rome. (Listen to Episode 1 here, and Episode 2 here.)

The Life Cycle is a production of Klang Games, creator of Seed, the planet colonization MMO -- watch the new trailer here.  Subscribe to The Life Cycle on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. Follow The Life Cycle on Twitter and Instagram. Read the rest

Televangelist and 'prosperity gospel' pastor Paula White joins Trump administration

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This is scary, but has nothing to do with Halloween, despite the date.

The New York Times reports this evening that noted televangelist and “prosperity gospel” pastor Paula White has officially joined the Trump administration.

Ms. White is a televangelist based in Florida who has served for some time as a “personal pastor” to Trump. They've been acquainted since 2002. She joins the administration in an official capacity starting today.

Grifters love grifters.

From the Times:

Ms. White will work in the Office of Public Liaison, the official said, which is the division of the White House overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of the president’s base. Her role will be to advise the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which Mr. Trump established last year by executive order and which aims to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs devoted to issues like defending religious liberty and fighting poverty.

As Mr. Trump campaigns for a second term, he cannot afford to lose support from the religious conservatives who voted for him in 2016 in significant numbers. Without their backing, his path to re-election would be significantly narrower.

He has taken repeated steps to ensure they turn out for him again — by issuing executive orders, making cabinet appointments and nominating federal judges that pass muster with the religious right. On a range of issues from abortion rights to tax exemptions for churches, Mr. Trump has tried to grant Christian conservatives their policy wish lists whenever legally and politically feasible.

Read the rest

This guy sacrificed 4 years of beard growth for an epic costume

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

He was growing this beard out for four years.

Wait 'til you see what he transformed into for Halloween.

But first, he had to cut that beard off.

IMGURian @teekal “sacrificed four years of beard growth for Halloween 2019,” and all I can say is -- worth it. Well done, Super Mario, sir.

Sacrificed Four years of Beard Growth for Halloween 2k19... No regrets.

[via IMGUR] Read the rest

Costumes of Greatness: 'Blue Screen of Death'

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This is a genius Halloween costume idea.

The Microsoft Windows 'Blue Screen of Death,' as the MS-DOS crash display has long been affectionately known.

IMGURian @gnocchithesphynxcat really nailed it.

“Yes, I take public transit to work, and yes, I wore my costume.”

Today's Halloween costume at work: the Blue Screen of Death!

[via IMGUR] Read the rest

Jump Around (poodle in a box)

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Unmute, sound up.

Jump Around.

Jump Around.

Jump Up

Jump Up

And Get Down.

Jump Around.

Jump Around

Here's the original music video, for those of you who weren't around.

The song is “Jump Around,” by House of Pain. It was a major nineties party anthem. For humans AND small dogs.

Read the rest

Amazing! 7-months-pregnant lady cosplays 'Fat Thor' from 'Avengers: Endgame' (Chris Hemsworth)

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This is the most amazing expecting mom costume idea ever.

Marvel did a weird thing in Avengers: Endgame by making Thor (Chris Hemsworth) get fat.

This pregnant woman did an amazing thing by cosplaying as the big-belly Marvel superhero for Halloween.

Pure genius.

She won the office Halloween costume party, and the internet, too.

Almost 7 months pregnant, had to take advantage of a big belly and be Fat Thor for Halloween.

IMGUR: Almost 7 months pregnant, had to take advantage of a big belly and be Fat Thor for Halloween.

Read the rest

TSA confiscated this toilet paper roller shaped like a gun

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

What was the traveler who carried this gun-shaped toilet paper roller thinking? On every level, seriously, what were they thinking.

This photo from the Transportation Security Administration shows a gun-shaped toilet paper holder confiscated at Newark Liberty International Airport TSA checkpoint on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019.

TSA agents thought it was a gun when they put it through the X-ray machine. A closer look showed it was a toilet paper roller, inexplicably shaped like a gun.

Replica firearms are prohibited, just like real ones are, at security checkpoints for carry-on luggage.

From the Associated Press:

TSA says it gave the man the option to place it in a checked bag, hand it off to a companion or surrender it. He decided to give it to TSA.

Read the rest

Challenge: Eat 'biggest burger' in Bangkok, a 10,000-calorie monstrosity

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Would you eat this gigantic burger?

In Thailand's capital city Bangkok, a hamburger joint has become internet-famous for a nearly 13 pound burger patty with fried onion rings, bacon and mayonnaise. YouTube personalities started challenging one another to try and finish it.

Among the poor fellows who managed to do it -- but not within the time limit -- was one guy who said, “I will eat a burger at some point (in the future), but not any time soon.”

Reuters:

Chris Steaks and Burgers is offering a 10,000 baht ($330) prize for anyone who can finish the mammoth snack in nine minutes - one baht for every calorie.

Owner Komdech Kongsuwan, who says it is the country’s biggest burger, dreamed up the contest after three customers managed the feat. New challengers are coming through the door every day.

Read the rest

I've tried a lot of different kitchen knife sharpeners, and this cheap one is my favorite

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This Kitchen IQ Edge Grip 2-Stage Knife Sharpener costs just on Amazon. I've been using one for years and it's my favorite knife sharpener.  I like it because of the way you hold it with one hand along the edge of a kitchen counter and with the other hand you draw the knife through the slots. It's a safe way to sharpen a knife and I don't see how someone could make a mistake and hurt themselves. One slot is "coarse" and the other is "fine." I typically use the fine slot every week or so to restore the edge on a knife. I rarely use coarse because it removes quite a bit of steel from a knife, but sometimes that's just what's needed to sharpen a dull knife. Over 11 thousand people have reviewed this sharpener on Amazon, and has an average star rating of 4.3. Read the rest

Non-marring nylon spudgers for prying open electronics

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This set of nylon spudgers is excellent.

My Amazon Kindle Voyage is one of my most treasured pieces of electronica. The battery, after 5 years, started to give up the ghost. It is dying in a rapid and dramatic fashion. I really did not want a different model Kindle and the Voyage is discontinued.

I was worried I could not open the Voyage without destroying it. Amazon famously glues things in place and I tend to break plastic bits.

Instead of using a small eye-glass repair sized flathead screw driver, I decided I would try the right tool for the job. This set of spudgers matched with slow and steady movement did the trick. Amazon used double-sided sticky tape to make shit annoying. I was easily able to open the case.

3 Non-Mar Nylon Spudger Pry Bar tools to Open and Repair iPhone, Smartphones, Laptop, and Electronic Plastic Cases via Amazon Read the rest

Marijuana pulled from man's nasal cavity 18 years after he snuck it into prison

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Physicians removed a balloon packed with marijuana from a fellow's nasal cavity 18 years after he smuggled it into prison. The 48-year-old man is now just fine. Physicians from Westmead Hospital in New South Wales, Australia, reported on the unusual case in the British Medical Journal. Apparently the man's girlfriend handed him the package that he shoved up his nose for safekeeping. The package made its way into his nasal cavity where he lost track of it. From CNN:

"A 48-year-old man was referred to the Westmead ENT Department after a CT of the brain, originally performed for headaches, demonstrated an incidental 19x11mm calcified lesion in the right nasal cavity," the report states.

"On questioning, the patient confirmed a long history of unilateral right nasal obstruction and recurrent sinonasal infections."

The rhinolith was removed from the man's nose under general anesthetic, and a subsequent study revealed that it contained a "rubber capsule containing degenerate vegetable/plant matter."

"On follow-up and specific questioning, the patient was able to recall an incident that occurred 18 years prior, while he was incarcerated," the report states. "He remained unaware of the package's presence until presented with the unusual histopathology report."

"A nose out of joint: first reported case of prison-acquired marijuana-based rhinolith" (British Medical Journal)

image: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator (CC BY 2.5) Read the rest

What's inside the AirPods Pro? Here's a teardown

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Our friends at iFixIt took apart the new AirPods Pro to see what's inside. An awful lot is stuffed into a very small package. Unfortunately, IFIxIt deems the AirPods Pro to be non-user-repairable: "While theoretically semi-serviceable, the non-modular, glued-together design and lack of replacement parts makes repair both impractical and uneconomical."

Image: IFixIt Read the rest

The Family Acid book release and party in Los Angeles!

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

The Family Acid: California is the new book of photographs by Roger Steffens that I published with Timothy Daly, my Ozma Records partner and co-producer of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Limited to just 1,500 clothbound copies, it's a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family.

We hope you can come meet the whole Family Acid (and us) in Los Angeles next Thursday, November 7, at The Standard Hollywood for a photo show and reception from 7-11pm! And if you can't make it, we have some copies available directly from our site, Ozma Records, along with a limited-edition Family Acid photo print on perforated LSD blotter paper (undipped) signed by Roger himself!

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. Since then, with his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he has sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it finds him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other. Steffens took the spectacular snapshots in this new collection between 1968 and 2015 during his family's freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home.

A full-color, 192-page hardcover with foil stamping and tipped-on cover photo, The Family Acid: California contains hundreds of stunning images curated by Kate Steffens along with detailed captions and original essays by Roger Steffens and Tim Page. Read the rest

10,000 people are calling for Congress to investigate Amazon Ring

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Amazon Ring's surveillance doorbell partnerships with police are spreading like a virus. There are already more than 500 of them across the country. We can fight them at the local level, but at this scale we need Congress to intervene. Amazon is refusing to be transparent about its own policies and relationships with law enforcement. That's why more than 10,000 people have already called on Congress to investigate and demand answers about the impact these partnerships have on our privacy and civil liberties. If you're concerned, you can add your voice here." Read the rest

Ska punk cover version of a song from Undertale

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

My daughter finally got me to start playing Undertale (I'm playing on my Switch). The game has great music, which was all written and composed by Toby Fox, who created the game. In this video, Pickitup of the Ska Tune Network does a fantastic cover of one of the songs from the game, "Megalovania." Read the rest

Cops who blew up innocent man's house don't have to pay, says appeals court

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Leo Lech's home was destroyed by Greenwood Village, Colorado cops in 2015 when they used explosives to blow off the walls and drove an armored truck through the front door to arrest a shoplifter who had barricaded himself in Lech's home. Lech has been trying to get the city to pay him so he can repair his home, but a court and an appeals court have told him that police are allowed to destroy innocent people's homes without having to pay for the damage they cause.

From NPR:

"Under no circumstances in this country should the government be able to blow up your house and render a family homeless," Leo Lech, the house's owner, told NPR. "This family was thrown out into the street without any recourse."

Lawyers for Lech argued that the police's destruction of his home was a violation of the Constitution's Takings Clause, which says private property cannot be taken for public use without "just compensation." But the problem with that argument, the appeals court ruled, is that courts have long held that police cannot be on the hook for property damage caused in the process of trying to make an arrest.

Image: CBS Denver/YouTube Read the rest

Loot: a kids-only comic "store" in Brooklyn that incubates young comics fans and creators

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Loot is a Brooklyn comics "store" (463 Court St, Floor 2, 11231) that is oriented around encouraging local kids to become comics creators. Adults are only admitted if they're with kids, and the store sells $30/month memberships that entitle kids to use copious art supplies and meet with artist-mentors, as well as to borrow comics from the store's library.

The library came from the personal collection of the store's founder, Joseph Einhorn, and has been supplemented by community donations of both comics and cash. Activities in the space include making costumes and 3D comics settings out of salvaged cardboard and fun junk, electronics experimentation, and, of course, making comics.

Loot is located above a beloved local pizzeria, Franks.

The Brooklyn business is geared toward young and middle school readers and has a monthly subscription model that allows its clientele to binge on comics and take daily classes in writing and drawing their own stories. Think of Loot as less of a store and more of a book club and artistic retreat.

The space is the brainchild of Joseph Einhorn, a father of three and the founder of Fancy, a shopping and scrapbooking site. He had two goals: to get young readers interested in comics and to get them away from their screens.

“I felt that if we didn’t do this, there would be a whole generation of young people that would miss this medium completely,” Mr. Einhorn said. But he’s not anti-tech. His sons, he said, were into Fortnite, and he wanted to bring some of its comic-style art and social networking into the analog world.

Read the rest

How the British left should seize this moment to strip finance of its political clout

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

In 1977, Nicholas Ridley, a Tory MP in Margaret Thatcher's government, wrote The Ridley Plan, a kind of shock doctrine manual that the Thatcher government followed in its program of mass-privatisations, attacks on trade unions, and the "stealth" privatisation of the NHS.

The Ridley Plan counselled a staged and escalating set of attacks that would start with soft targets and work its way up to the deployment of "a large, mobile squad of police" to put down strikes that the escalations would eventually provoke.

Writing in Opendemocracy, Christine Berry says that the left is on the brink of a similar opportunity to the one seized by Thatcher in 1977: if the coming elections put Labour in power this December, they will be assuming power in the midst of a crisis that is simply too good to waste, brought on by a decade of Tory austerity, oligarchic policies, and the Brexit debacle.

Berry lays out a programme for taking on the UK's powerful finance sector, as a key stage in larger reforms that would otherwise be endangered by the lobbying might of the City of London. As she points out, the right time to do this was after the 2008 crisis, but the neoliberal wing of Labour refused to use that moment, instead handing out billions to finance without any kerbs or democratic oversight of the industry that had just blown up the world's economy. Ten years later, we are still waiting for Labour to do its job.

When the next financial crisis arrives, Labour must demand bank breakups, stricter (and streamlined) capital reserves requirements, an end to financial secrecy, and a hard rule that any bank that takes a government bailout will have to subject itself to voluntary nationalisation. Read the rest

Watch Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Tom Selleck was Steven Spielberg's pick to play Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, Selleck was under contract with CBS and they refused to release him to take the role. Fortunately for us. See what could have been in the deepfake above.

Below, Selleck recounts his experience as almost being Indy:

Read the rest

Listen: "Bela Lugosi's Dead" vs Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

In 2004, Howard Hallis celebrated the devilishly wonderful crossover of Disney and Goth culture with the now-classic "Haunted Bela," a mash-up of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead" with the spooky narration heard in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion dark ride. Listen above! Howard also created the enchanting artwork, titled "Goth Princesses." Read the rest

Let's celebrate with Ministry's "(Every Day Is) Halloween," plus a bonus acoustic live version!

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

From the days when Al Jourgensen cultivated an English accent, Ministry's underground club hit "(Everyday Is) Halloween" (1984). Above, a fan video cut up from horror films. And below, a bonus acoustic performance of the song from last year, the first time Ministry played it live in decades, with special guest guitarist Dave Navarro.

Read the rest

Scariest Halloween decoration ever: measles viruses

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

Toronto's Andrea Addario lives next to one of the world's greatest Halloween haunters. As she tweeted, he exhibits "extreme genius" every year, and this year is no exception: he's studded his tree with giant measles viruses made out of pumpkins and carrots, along with a coffin-shaped sign reading "VACCINATE YOUR KIDS." (Thanks, Allen!)

The Halloween decorations of my neighbour. Puts us all to shame, every year, with his extreme genius. pic.twitter.com/XFlxXZcuoX

— Andrea Addario (@addarioandrea) October 30, 2019 Read the rest

Here's TED-Ed's explainer about the llluminati

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

The Illuminati was a real secret society in the 18th century, but it was short lived, even though contemporary bullshit theorists pretend otherwise. Thus TED-Ed video is a great 5-minute history of the original Illuminati and its enduring influence. Read the rest

After suing NSO Group for hacking Whatsapp, Facebook kicks NSO employees off its services

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

This week, Facebook filed suit against the NSO Group, a cyber-arms dealer that supplies some of the world's most oppressive regimes with spying tools used to attack dissidents, journalists, human rights activists, and democratic opposition figures; Facebook alleges that NSO Group was behind more than 1,400 attacks on Whatsapp users.

After filing the suit, Facebook has reportedly terminated the accounts of NSO Group employees on Instagram and possibly its other services, including Facebook itself and Whatsapp. The termination notices accuse the NSO employees of violating Facebook's terms of service, which prohibit tampering with or exploiting its services.

Though the notices sent to NSO Group employees told them the account terminations were permanent, a Facebook representative subsequently told Ars Technica that NSO employees could appeal the notices.

A message board popular in Israel indicated that the deletion was widespread. "I had just personally verified it (I have friends working there)," one person wrote. "Ninety-eight percent of the company employees were blocked."

Another person who claimed to work at NSO responded to say he or she hadn't been blocked. Another person claiming to be an NSO employee complained bitterly on LinkedIn. An Israel-based security researcher who spoke to an NSO employee said the deletions affected a much smaller percentage of the company's employees and didn't involve WhatsApp accounts.

Facebook deletes the accounts of NSO Group workers [Dan Goodin/Ars Technica] Read the rest

Video of kidnapping attempt badly backfiring on perpetrators

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

I'm not sure where this video was shot but many commenters in Reddit say it took place in South America and was likely a kidnapping attempt. The video was taken by a security camera on a narrow residential street.

We see a car going into a garage. As the garage starts closing another car drives up and four professional looking thugs jump and out slide under the door before it fully closes. A few seconds later, the car in the garage bursts out, running over one of the thugs in the process. Then the car rams the kindnappers' car. The rest of the video shows the kidnappers in a panic as they try to flee.

Read the rest

Best price I've seen on the LEGO Saturn V rocket

Oct 31, 2019

Description:

The 1969 piece LEGO Apollo Saturn V rocket may be my favorite BIG set of all time.

Build the entire three-stage rocket, the command module and the lunar lander! Amazon has a it for 25% off, get your holiday shopping done early!

LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309 Outer Space Model Rocket for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit (1900 pieces) via Amazon

I checked and I have seen the set for $1 less. Read the rest

Got stress? These CBD oils bring relief by the drop

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

There's no shortage of stories about the benefits of cannabidiol, that benign (and non-psychoactive) cousin of THC. Some have been using it for years to deal with pain, stress, and sleeplessness. And the more people use it, the more discussion there is about how to use it.

While there's no shortage of quality edibles on the market, oils and tinctures are emerging as a quicker way to get the effects, and an easier way to manage the dosage. Here are three of our favorites, but remember: Check your local laws before you buy. And as with any medicinal product, consult your doctor to find out if it's right for you.

Medix CBD Oil 100MG (15ML)

Made with a blend of hemp seed oil and 99.9% pure CBD isolate, this remedy is fully vegan and gluten-free. While you can take a drop under the tongue, this one is especially ideal for mixing in your favorite foods or drinks. It won't affect the taste and delivers the same salvation from insomnia or stress. Get this 15ml bottle of Medix CBD Oil 100MG for $21.99, down 18% from the retail price.

Sunday Scaries 500mg CBD Tincture

 

Sunday Scaries products have been around since the dawn of the CBD explosion, and for good reason. Their tincture is fortified with full-spectrum CBD, plus vitamins B12 and B3 for an extra boost to the immune system. The whole cocktail is carried along in a coconut oil solution for a bit of an energy kick, and there are no GMOs in any of the ingredients. Read the rest

Get AC power from your car with this power inverter

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Earlier this year a tree fell on a power line in our neighborhood and we lost power. Fortunately I had one of these 12V to 110V AC Car Inverters to power our computers and charge our phones. It has two USB ports and two standard AC outlets. We have a plug-in hybrid so we didn't have to keep the car's gas engine running all the time, but even if you do have a gas-powered car, you can use this inverter for a short while to power appliances on an as-needed basis. It's on sale right now on Amazon. Read the rest

Watch these incredible and utterly dangerous moves banned from figure skating competitions

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Enjoy these demonstrations of figure skating elements and moves that the International Skating Union ISU) has apparently banned from competition. Examples include a one-foot backflip, spinning your partner by their ankles, and even lying down on the ice. Here are the ISU's official rule books.

Read the rest

Watch David Crosby's hair-raising impression of a John Coltrane solo

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

David Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name" (1971) is one of my favorite records of all time. I'm excited to watch Cameron Crow's documentary about him, "Remember My Name," especially after seeing this delightful clip of Croz recounting the time he was so high while at a jazz club during a John Coltrane gig that he had to hide in the bathroom. And then -- surprise -- Coltrane himself burst into the bathroom playing his horn. In the video above, Crosby beautifully expresses what it sounded like.

(Spin) Read the rest

This 3-bedroom apartment in Russia is for sale for $940, the price of an iPhone

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Vorkuta, Russia is the fourth largest city north of the Arctic Circle. This coal-mining town has a population of 70,000 (it's been declining every year since the late 1980s). If you wish to live there, you can buy this 3-bedroom apartment for the price of an iPhone. The plush lion toy may not be included in the price.

It looks like an interesting place!

Image: by f-Lars, CC BY 3.0, Link

The palm trees are a nice touch:

Top Image: Avito

[via Peter from Texas] Read the rest

How accurately can you draw these famous logos from memory

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

A promotional company asked people to draw famous logos from memory and arranged the results on a graph, from least accurate to most accurate. I would do terrible at most of these. Some people were able to draw logos that looked exactly like the official ones.

[via Core 77]

See also: Drawing Mickey Mouse from memory Read the rest

Minnesota county museum's impressive collection of creepy antique dolls

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Olmsted County, Minnesota's History Center are sharing portraits of the creepiest dolls in their antiques collection. Folks can vote online for their favorite and the winner will be on display next week for Halloween. From MPR News:

"The doll I disdain handling is the one with human hair,” said curator Dan Nowakowski as he holds up a doll from the 1800s with an impressive braid and a dead-eye stare...

One creepshow contender was made with cloth for the head and limbs. "And then it was painted with a facial tone color, but the paint has chipped away,” Nowakowski said. “And now, unfortunately with the paint chipping, it looks like a mummy."

Nowakowski said that for a lot of the collection's dolls, the unsettling freakiness is all in the eyes.

Read the rest

America needs a national standard for voting and voter rolls

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Frank Wu writes, "Brianna Wu (US Congressional candidate in MA-8 and cybersecurity expert) has a brand new article in The Boston Globe about election security. People think electronic voting machines are the biggest problem. They're wrong. The electronic VOTER ROLLS are the largest attack surface for hackers. 2% of all ballots cast (enough to sway many elections) are provisional and that number is growing."

So, how are our voter rolls compromised? The movies might have you believe that it’s shadowy hackers writing custom malware to target high-level officials, but the truth is often a lot simpler. It’s the same way everything else is hacked: phishing schemes, recycled passwords, and unsuspecting election workers clicking on attachments that end up being malware. These concerns are far from theoretical. In 2016, election workers in San Mateo fell for spear-phishing attacks and had their email systems, as well as the website publishing voter eligibility and poll locations, compromised.

With the 2002 Help America Vote Act, congress allocated $3.8 billion to strengthen our election systems. While this might sound like a generous amount of funding, consider that we spent over $100 billion preparing for Y2K, a far less complex technical problem. According to a 2019 report commissioned by Homeland Security, this funding “was not enough to have a significant impact.” In September, Congress allocated a mere $250 million dollars for election security.

All of this is a strong argument for federal investment in a national electronic voter registration system. We can’t feasibly secure every machine in every office for 56 separate systems across our country, but we can build a world-class database with top-of-the-line security.

Read the rest

No one is sure if this "baby artist" video is real or fake

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Snopes looked into this viral video of a very young kid (some people are saying she is 10 months old) drawing excellent cat cartoons. Snopes found several "small oddities" suggesting subterfuge: "For instance, the child turns its head around the 7-second mark after apparently hearing a noise, but the baby’s hands continue to draw on the paper. And at the end of the video, the tail on the third character simply appears on the paper out-of-sync with the child’s hand movements."

Snopes found other videos of the same child demonstrating remarkable talent:

Snopes concludes:

If we presume that the Peppa Pig backpack in the background of the viral video belongs to this child (in other clips the child can be seen drawing Peppa Pig and wearing clothes featuring the cartoon character), it may be reasoned that this child was at least old enough to attend school and likely 4-5 years old. If that’s the case, while this child’s artistic abilities were impressive, such skills would be plausible.

The child in this video seems much younger that 4-5 years old. I'd say 2 years old is more likely. Read the rest

Family at viewing for dead relative sees wrong person in the casket

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

A family visited the Bragg Funeral Home in Paterson, New Jersey for a private viewing of their deceased relative Doris Chapman. When they opened the casket though, it wasn't Champman inside but someone else wearing Chapman's clothing. And the funeral home employees didn't believe them. The family plans to sue. From KCBD:

The family says that no matter how many times they told the workers that the body was not Chapman’s, they were told otherwise.

"They kept on insisting that was my grandmother, that things do happen, the body does change…we couldn’t believe it, but we had no choice but to believe it for the moment,” (Geralyn) McNeal says.

“We thought that the funeral home knew best. They were telling us that she was not ready, ‘She won't look like this when we're done,’” says Chapman’s niece Valencia Coney.

The family says that Chapman’s body was in the casket the next day for the service. They say that at least one funeral home employee admitted to the mistake.

Read the rest

Zuck claims he chows down with politicos from "across the spectrum" but they all seem to be far-right creeps

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Congress this week, she asked him about his "ongoing dinner parties with far-right figures" -- that is to say, the meals where he listens to Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, Hugh Hewitt and other Nazi- and Nazi-adjacent figures whine about "leftist social media bias."

The criticism wounded the beleaguered billionaire, who used his own Facebook account to complain about it and to clarify that he eats with these would-be ethnic cleaners because he throws dinners where he can hear from "lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time."

Facebook's spokespeople could not name anyone from any part of "the spectrum" who wasn't to the right of Fox News, however, so The Intercept's Jon Schwarz canvassed the editors of The Nation, Mother Jones, Black Agenda Report, Jacobin, Current Affairs, FAIR, Democracy Now, and other members of the sweeping left-wing media cabal, and, surprisingly enough, not one of them has ever been invited to one of Zuck's dinners.

Look, we all know why Zuck is masticating the far-right's most prominent grifter thinkfluencers: it's because he's fallen for the right's most tiresome rhetorical gimmick, in which they claim that because the press refuses to pretend that (say) climate change isn't real, or that (say) tax breaks for the rich create jobs, or that (say) Sandy Hook was a false-flag masterminded by gun-grabbers, that there is "bias" in the system.

And they're right: it's totally true that reality has a well-known leftist bias, which is why any moderation effort that prohibited literal Nazis would block "mainstream Conservatives" in the bargain. Read the rest

Hunter was likely killed by a deer he shot

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

In Yelville, Arkansas, a 66-year-old experienced hunter died after he was gored by a buck he shot. From CNN:

When his nephew found him, the hunter was alert and talking, and was even able to call his wife. But he stopped breathing by the time paramedics could get him to the hospital, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said. Officials are not certain that the antler wounds are the official cause of his death, the commission said in a statement. He may have died from other medical issues such as a heart attack, the statement said, but there will be no autopsy.

Injuries resulting from wounded deer are not uncommon, said Joe Dale Purdom from the Game and Fish Commission.

Read the rest

At least 3 women were kicked out of a bar for confronting Harvey Weinstein

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Earlier this week alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein attended a event called Actors Hour at Downtime Bar in New York city. Weinstein and his entourage were seated at a prime table, which was allegedly reserved for him by Actors Hour producer Alexandra Laliberte. When several women complained about Weinstein being there, they were scolded and removed from the bar.

One woman in attendance, Amber Rollo, posted a thread about it on Twitter. She said she approached Weinstein's table and "called him a fucking monster and told him he should disappear. His friend/body guard/goon/family member called me a cunt and I really really wanted to lunge over the table and strangle him."

Keep getting new followers today is it because my tweets are so fire? lol fuck Weinstein and thanks @ambercrollo ILY #mysecondtweet pic.twitter.com/hLjWn5VM8Y

— Kelly Bachman (@bellykachman) October 24, 2019

Kelly Bachman, one of the performers at the event, talked in stage about being in the same room as "Freddy Krueger" and remarked "I didn't know we had to bring our own mace and rape whistles to Actors Hour." One or two men loudly booed and told her to "shut up."

Another woman, actor Zoe Stuckless, approached Weinstein's table and expressed outrage that he was at the bar:

Hey all, I know I’m late to the conversation here. I don’t usually use twitter but it seems like that’s where a lot of this conversation is happening. Last night I confronted Harvey Weinstein in a bar along with a number of other artists.

Read the rest

OH YEAH! Kool-Aid Man is a Funko Pop

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

I miss living in that world where a giant pitcher of Kool-Aid could have reasonably come busting through a wall at any moment. Things are a lot worse now.

OH YEAH!

Funko knows. This is the Koolest.

Funko Pop! AD Icons: Kool-Aid - Kool-Aid Man via Amazon Read the rest

How to hide a coin

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

For those times when you are short a nickle, it's nice to know you have one stashed away.

The replies to the tweet are amusing, because more than a few people seem to think this is a joke and not a valuable life hack.

at no point in this video did i know what was coming next pic.twitter.com/XXaIlfc4bk

— ً₂₄ (@ELMXRIACHI) October 24, 2019

Image: Twitter Read the rest

Meet the deep-pocketed Biden Bros: lobbyists for arms dealers, for-profit health-care, Azerbaijani oligarchs, Comcast

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

As Joe Biden cruises towards his latest (and final?) humiliating defeat in a Democratic primary, The Senator from MNBA is talking a big game about how he will reverse his decades-long dependence on massive cash infusions from America's richest, worst people to sustain his political career.

And it true that his (anemic, underfunded) campaign isn't directly taking money from big corporations. But since Citizens United, campaigns no longer have to climb into bed with the ultra-wealthy and their terrible corporations in order to become beholden to them: thanks to PACs and Super PACs, a literally unlimited amount of money can get behind a candidate like Tailgunner Joe in a bid to propel a corporate-friendly "centrist" to the presidency.

Enter Larry Rasky, a key figure in the creation of the Biden Super PAC, and also founder of Rasky Partners, lobbyists for Raytheon, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and the Republic of Azerbaijan (as well as former clients like the Education Finance Council). Rasky is joined by fellow lobbyist Steve Schale, whose clients include the Florida Hospital Association, JetBlue Airways, State Farm Insurance, Walt Disney Parks, AT&T, and the Associated Industries of Florida.

The Biden campaign has been in bed with America's most notorious lobbyists literally since day one, when the campaign launched at a private party held at the stately mansion of Comcast's chief lobbyist.

Biden has articulated the problem with big-money donations in the past, noting that privately financed elections allow those donors greater access to politicians than ordinary Americans.

Read the rest

Feds blew the door off a safe in Giuliani associate raids

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Agents of the U.S. government have issued multiple subpoenas and conducted searches of various properties in the course of investigating Rudy Giuliani's “Fraud Guarantee” associates, and in one instance feds literally blew the door off a safe to access its contents, reports CNN.

From CNN:

The subpoena to Steven Fruman is the latest indication of prosecutors' actions since the rushed arrest two weeks ago of his brother, Igor Fruman, and another defendant, Lev Parnas, at a Washington-area airport. Since then, investigators have doled out multiple subpoenas and conducted several property searches, in one case blowing the door off a safe to access the contents, sources tell CNN.

Federal prosecutors told a judge this week that they are sifting through data from more than 50 bank accounts. In addition, they've put a filter team in place as they examine communications obtained via search warrant and subpoena, sensitive to material that could be subject to attorney-client privilege because Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, counted Parnas as a client. A filter team is a separate set of prosecutors who are assigned to examine evidence and set aside material that is privileged.

Since the October 9 arrests, federal agents visited the New York home of Steven Fruman and served him with a subpoena from Manhattan federal prosecutors, the people familiar with the matter said.

Attorneys for Steven and Igor Fruman declined to comment, as did the Manhattan US Attorney's office.

Feds blow door off safe, issue subpoenas as probe into Giuliani associates escalates [Erica Orden and Evan Perez, CNN] Read the rest

Trump administration ends program to monitor animal diseases that could spread to humans (like Ebola)

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

The bizarre move worries public health experts

How an usher at (and would-be star of) Hamilton organizes the women's bathrooms during intermission

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

The women who pay as much as $400 to see Hamilton at Philadelphia's Forrest Theatre have only 15 minutes to pee and get back to their seats during intermission, but the upper bathroom only has three stalls and the house seats over 1,700 people.

Tanya Heath is a classically trained musician who plays five instruments and sings soprano; she's auditioned for Hamilton three times but has not yet been made part of the cast. Presently, she works as an usher at the Forrest.

After observing the women's bathroom chaos for the first two weeks of the show's run, Heath appointed herself the marshall of the women's bathrooms, and now she does an incredible, athletic job of organizing orderly queues and managing expectations for the women in attendance.

She stands on piano benches and other furniture and in a commanding voice, helps the women in line understand their remaining time, directs them as to how to queue efficiently so that they minimize confusion, and reassures them about the house warnings (flickering lights, etc) so that they remain calm.

Ellie Silverman's profile of Heath's performance is as vivid a theater review as you could ask for, and Health's virtuosity, kindness, humor and resourcefulness shine through.

“You are working your ass off,” Julie Caramanico, 34, of Newtown Square says from the back of the line to Heath. “I love it so much.”

“This is minute eight,” Heath announces. “We are good. We are good.”

“Is there enough time?” someone asks from the crowd. Others also look concerned.

Read the rest

"Man's neck breaks during arrest," reports newspaper

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Cops in Warrnambool, Australia, broke Chris Karadaglis' neck when they arrested him. But The Age reports this as "man's neck breaks during arrest" because they're afraid of identifying the breakers, even in an article that's supposedly about their failings.

Barrett told The Age that while he can’t talk about the specifics of the ongoing investigation into Chris’s arrest, he immediately concedes what in the past may have been shrouded in police speak: no innocent Victorian should be so seriously injured after an interaction with police.

Barrett describes Chris’s interaction with the three uniformed officers as a ‘‘life-changing experience, devastating for the family of that individual.’’

"Precisely what police did to cause his injury that November day two years ago has been blurred in a sea of pain and terror," write Nick McKenzie and Grace Tobin, whose story remedies this lack of clarity by suggesting Karadaglis' neck broke itself.

It's interesting they mention "police speak" because that's what the headline is. I covered cops for a while as a young reporter and this is the language of arrest and incident reports. Cops are trained not to describe themselves in the active voice, which makes them appear responsible for their actions. Instead they are mere observers, there when things did happen. The gun did fire. The bullet did enter the suspect's body. The suspect did die at that time.

This example is particularly grim because The Age's story is supposed to be a heartfelt investigation into the victim's plight and police misconduct—one subverted from the outset with that mangled, servile headline. Read the rest

Apparently Facebook did approve ads saying Republicans support the Green New Deal

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

The Really Online Lefty League has a wonderful ad running on Facebook. Using archival footage of Republican leaders speaking up for the environment, to prove AOC's point about Facebook being untrustworthy and duplicitous, the ad shows Lindsay Graham backing the Green New Deal.

Facebook approves Green New Deal ad featuring endorsement by Sen. Lindsey Graham pic.twitter.com/3GHOvK5akQ

— Adriel Hampton 🦇 (@adrielhampton) October 25, 2019

Video Link Read the rest

Rep. Cummings' pallbearer refuses to shake 'Moscow Mitch' McConnell's hand

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

It is unsurprising that anyone in America would snub Mitch McConnell, however, the look on Chuck Schumer's face is priceless.

The look between McConnell and Schumer when the brother doesn’t shake Mitch’s hand 💀💀💀👀 pic.twitter.com/UbRXLhtW36

— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) October 24, 2019

Read the rest

Incredible optical illusions

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

The brilliant optical illusions of stop motion animator Kevin Parry. Read the rest

Do you recognize the infamous birds this artist is drawing for Inktober?

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

For Inktober, Sabtastic has been drawing birds that have earned notoriety for their criminal behavior.

Are you online enough to recognize these crooked birds?

Day 14 of #inktober involves pigeon ESPIONAGE! More #birdcrimes!

This little bird was arrested in Pakistan for spying when a message was found stamped onto its wing feathers!

Source below! 👇👀 pic.twitter.com/cIYy4dohfn

— Sabtastic @ Halcon 520 (@Sabtastique) October 15, 2019

Telegraph:

A suspected Pakistani 'spy pigeon' seized just inside India's border faces X-ray by security officials to ensure the bird is not carrying hidden messages, or spy gadgets.

Made it to #inktober Day 23!

This Arabian Green Parrot was arrested for helping its drug dealer owners. When police came near the house for a drug raid, it screamed "MOM! The POLICE!" 🚔 #birdcrimes pic.twitter.com/GHEmx9Zhjf

— Sabtastic @ Halcon 520 (@Sabtastique) October 24, 2019

Guardian:

A parrot has been taken into custody in northern Brazil following a police raid targeting crack dealers.

According to reports in the Brazilian press, the bird had been taught to alert criminals to police operations in Vila Irmã Dulce, a low-income community in the sun-scorched capital of Piauí state, by shouting: “Mum, the police!”

My favourite #birdcrimes story of all time features Canuck the Crow! 🍁🔪 This little troublemaker got his infamous reputation for stealing a KNIFE from an active CRIME SCENE!

This also marks day 20 of #inktober! pic.twitter.com/6qVBZjZeAV

— Sabtastic @ Halcon 520 (@Sabtastique) October 22, 2019

CBC:

Canuck became a media celebrity in 2016 after he stole a knife from a Vancouver crime scene.

Read the rest

What the London Underground used to be like

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

From the Kino Library comes this set of film clips shot on the London Underground in the 1960s and 1970s.

View at end of tube platform looking up at crowded platform and tube train, Victoria, pulling in. Men and women passengers board train, pushing on. POV from front of train through tunnel and past passengers waiting on platform as it comes to a halt. Shot on board tube carriage, sun streams through windows as it rides through London suburbs. Men in bowler hats reading newspapers. One woman in 1960s outfit sits in FG. Commuters. Passengers bounce around as train moves. Scene gets darker as train goes through tunnel. INT dark tube carriage. Men and women sit reading, quiet. INT tube station great shot at base of escalator, people coming down. Lots of miniskirts. Late 1960s fashions. 1960s passengers out of tube and up stairs, poster just seen ‘Heals Sale Now On’. People walking up stairs. People coming down escalator.

I lived in London in the late 1970s, when it was as depicted here but more run down, and the late 1990s, when it was all being renovated into a clean new sci-fi set. Different worlds! (Except for the Northern Line, which for some reason was not being upgraded and I guess is still exactly like this video.) Read the rest

Disney docuseries offers "backstage pass" to the world of Imagineering

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Disney is making it very tempting to join Disney+, their new entertainment streaming service, by offering a docuseries that puts a spotlight on its Imagineers.

Entertainment Weekly:

The Imagineering Story, a docuseries from The Pixar Story filmmaker Leslie Iwerks, pulls back the curtain on the work of the brilliant artist-engineers who have made real-life magic at the Disney Parks for decades. Narrated by Angela Bassett, the six-hour series chronicles the history of the Imagineers, beginning with the inception of Disneyland and tracing the development of all the of the Disney parks and all of the fantastical lands within them (yes, including Galaxy’s Edge) to the present day.

The trailer for it promises a look behind the scenes of the Matterhorn and other restricted areas of Disney parks:

The Imagineering Story will premiere November 12, the same day the new service launches. To be clear: the series will only be available on Disney+, which is $6.99/month or $69.99/year. I'm personally thinking it might be worth checking out.

image via EW Read the rest

Puddles covers Lizzo's "Juice" in a sultry way

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

"Heard you say I'm not the saddest clown, you lied"

You haven't heard Lizzo's "Juice" until you've heard a sad 6'8"-tall clown sing it. Puddles does this one "Quiet Storm Style."

Our friend, Rebekah Del Rio, asked me how I would feel about doing Lizzo's song. I said I'd give it a go. I like saying yes first. This is how it turned out. I don't understand some of the references in it but I love me some Lizzo. Jonathan Burns helped me transcribe the lyrics. I especially like the David Copperfield lyric. And yes, that's really my voice. I didn't know I could do that before.

Read the rest

I didn't know chipmunks could attend Space Mission Bible Camp!

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Re-edit courtesy of Everything is Terrible, although I also found the original VHS source on Amazon which includes this delightful plot summary:

Chadder Chipmunk wants to be the first chipmunk in space. So Space Mission Bible Camp sounded like the perfect place to launch his career. But no sooner did Chadder pull on his jumpsuit than he was spotted by The Exterminator … a rodent-thumping commando who can't wait to catch Chadder!

Featuring footage shot at Kennedy Space Center, here's fast-paces, out-of-this-world adventure your kids will turn to again and again. And each time they'll be reminded that the best launch of all is to be launched on a mission of God's love!

And yes of course the villainous Exterminator is Russian. Who else would want to ruin Space Mission Bible Camp for chipmunks? Read the rest

Save 25% on this AR SmartGlobe and become a virtual globetrotter

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

It can be tough to convey to kids just how big and amazing the world really is, even with the internet. One of the great things about augmented reality is how it can combine education with tactile experience, making the facts really hit home.

That's just one great feature of this SmartGlobe 3-in-1 Illuminated Globe, a toy that will do a lot more than just sit idle in your curious kid's room.

By day it's a globe, with all the countries, capitals and oceans of the world rendered in rich detail. Flip a switch, and the terrestrial map fades to reveal an illuminating guide to the constellations - a fantastic night light or inspiration for any budding stargazer.

Download the SmartGlobe AR app, and that's when the functionality really opens up. Use your tablet to scan the globe and "Patrick the World Traveller" will reveal a ton of info on every corner of the world. You can use him to reveal tidbits about important landmarks or activate animated tutorials about different climates. Wildlife-loving kids will get a kick out of his tour of indigenous dino species and local animals. There's even a host of puzzles and games to play, building on all the newfound geography knowledge.

Right now, you can pick up the SmartGlobe 3-in-1 Illuminated Globe with Built-In Augmented Reality for 25% off the retail price. Read the rest

Non-Chinese politicians in Canada give themselves Chinese language names for campaigning

Oct 25, 2019

Description:

Niko Bell took a detailed look at the practice of non-Chinese Canadian politicians choosing Chinese names for campaigning:

This election, unlike the provincial election in 2017, showed some clear differences between parties when it came to Chinese names. In the twelve central Lower Mainland ridings I searched, the Liberal party led the way with seven non-Chinese candidates displaying Chinese names on their campaign signs or literature. The Conservatives, on the other hand, by far led in actual candidates of Chinese origin (seven, to the Liberal and NDP’s one each) but only fielded one non-Chinese candidate who used a Chinese name in her own campaign.

The process of translating a Western-style name into Chinese is difficult:

While many East Asian names, for example Korean or Japanese names, can be translated directly into Chinese characters, Western names present a problem. As a character-based language, Chinese has no bite-sized phonetic components with which to build foreign sounds, and no dedicated script for writing foreign words as in Japanese. The only way forward is to use Chinese characters, preferably ones with innocuous or pleasant meanings, to sound out foreign names.

That lengthy group of symbols posted above is basically gibberish at first glance:

If you read this series of characters semantically (as I did when I first discovered them in a newspaper), you are confronted with the nonsensical phrase “hope pull inside eyeliner peace net ethical nanny conquer forest mound.” An experienced reader of Chinese, however, instantly recognizes the phrase as nonsensical and instead reads it phonetically, rendering, of course, “Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.”

Trying to find an elegant solution requires tradeoffs:

Each of these methods has its benefits and drawbacks.

Read the rest

Lemonade is breaking the mold for home and renters insurance

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

Whether you own or rent your place, insurance on that home is a necessary hassle - but a new tech-driven company called Lemonade is starting to show that while it might indeed be a necessity, it doesn't have to be a hassle.

Here's the way insurance typically works: You pay premiums and hope an accident never happens. If it does, you enter the purgatory of red tape, trying to pry restitution from a company that has little motivation or ability to pay out your claim.

Lemonade doesn't work that way. Instead, it utilizes a well-built technology platform and intuitive AI to make signup a breeze. If anything, the process of paying out claims is even easier: You answer a few questions, outline your lost or damaged property through video chat, and get satisfaction almost instantly. Lemonade takes a flat fee from your premiums, so there's no motivation for them to stonewall you when it comes time to file a claim. At the end of each year, they'll even turn a portion of the unclaimed money from those premiums to the charity of your choice.

Another great thing about their flat fees? They're super cheap, thanks to Lemonade's low overhead. Fees start at $25 for homeowners' insurance and $5 for renters. Get a quick quote and sign up today. Read the rest

HALLOWEEN: Most terrifying pumpkin ever

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

Boo!

What a work of art.

There are scary jack-o-lanterns and there are HORRIFYINGLY AWFULLY TERRIFYING ONES.

This is one of those, from PyroDragon.

As the title says, this is a continuation from my original post of this Funkin, since it's now completed.I've decided to call him "SPITHOPS ™", which is short for "Spookiest Pumpkin In The History Of Pumpkin Spooks ™"

This is carved out of one of those newfangled foam pumpkins. It makes it a h*ck of a lot easier and WAY less messy. The animals won't eat it, and you can reuse the same pumpkin design every year!

Pencil: For layout of design Razor Knife: For cutting through foam. Special Pumpkin Groove Carving Tool: For grooves that aren't going through the wall entirely Drill and Bits: For holes in design and in the back for power

Go see the whole making of.

Scariest Pumpkin Carving EVER [Part 2]

Read the rest

Sandy Hook dad to get $450,000 from conspiracy theorist

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

Retired professor James Fetzer co-authored the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." He was found guilty in June of defaming Leonard Pozner. Now, a jury says he must pay nearly half a million dollars in damages.

From NBC News:

A Wisconsin jury Tuesday ordered a conspiracy theorist who claimed the grieving father of a victim of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre had fabricated his son's death certificate to pay the father $450,000.

A judge had ruled in June that James Fetzer, co-author of the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook," had defamed Leonard Pozner, father of Noah, 6, the youngest victim of the December 2012 mass shooting, by falsely claiming that Pozner had fabricated copies of his son's death certificate.

Sandy Hook father to receive $450,000 from conspiracy theorist, jury says [nbcnews.com] Read the rest

Malware hackers using steganography in WAV audio files to hide malicious code

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

Beware the rogue .wav file. Two reports published in the last few months indicate that authors of malware programs are using an interesting technique in their attacks.

Researchers report the bad guys are applying steganography techniques to hide malicious code inside .WAV audio files.

“The novelty in the two recently-published reports is the use of WAV audio files, not seen abused in malware operations until this year, Catalin Cimpanu at ZDNet reports:

The first of these two new malware campaigns abusing WAV files was reported back in June. Symantec security researchers said they spotted a Russian cyber-espionage group known as Waterbug (or Turla) using WAV files to hide and transfer malicious code from their server to already-infected victims.

The second malware campaign was spotted this month by BlackBerry Cylance. In a report published today and shared with ZDNet last week, Cylance said it saw something similar to what Symantec saw a few months before.

But while the Symantec report described a nation-state cyber-espionage operation, Cylance said they saw the WAV steganography technique being abused in a run-of-the-mill crypto-mining malware operation.

Cylance said this particular threat actor was hiding DLLs inside WAV audio files. Malware already-present on the infected host would download and read the WAV file, extract the DLL bit by bit, and then run it, installing a cryptocurrency miner application named XMRrig.

Josh Lemos, VP of Research and Intelligence at BlackBerry Cylance, told ZDNet in an email yesterday that this malware strain using WAV steganography was spotted on both Windows desktop and server instances.

Read the rest

How much more black can Barry's Gold Blend be?

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

Barry's Gold Blend is my favorite everyday black tea.

A few weeks ago I was drinking PG Tips 'Extra Strong' as my beloved Barry's is not available at any local markets. Today I was organizing my VW Vanagon's kitchen storage and came across a box of Barry's I had forgotten in July.

Halleluyah!

It is like how much more black could Barry's Gold Blend be? The answer is none. None more black.

Barry's Gold Blend gets better the longer you leave the tea bag in. Eventually, the liquid becomes a sludge-like slurry of existential dread and water. You can drink it, however, it is not pure evil.

This tea leaves lines and stains in every mug I drink it from, unless the mug is already black or at the very least a dark blue. You may want to buy some baking soda to scrub your mugs out as well.

I was fine drinking the PG Tips, but I am just happy as can be to have Barry's back. I will return to keeping a spare box on hand.

Barry's Tea Gold Blend 80 Count 2-Pack via Amazon

More about Barry's Tea on Boing Boing. Read the rest

Burbank! Come to an emergency City Hall meeting on 10/29 to deal with the city's eviction crisis!

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

On Jan 1, 2020, AB1482 comes into effect, capping rents at their rates as of March 15, 2019 plus an above-inflation; in response, the state's greediest landlords are evicting their tenants, either by raising their rents to levels they can't afford to pay between now and Jan 1, forcing them out, or by staging "no cause" evictions in cities that permit them. If those tenants are gone on Jan 1, the landlords can set a new rent floor that ignores the rates as of last March.

California's largest landlords are private equity firms that took advantage of the foreclosure epidemic after the 2008 crisis to acquire thousands and thousands of homes, where they have slashed maintenance and jacked up rents, creating a new epidemic of homelessness.

The other large cohort of California landlords are Real Estate Investment Trusts that are the primary vehicle for offshore oligarchs who want to launder their money.

Burbank -- where I live -- has lax and difficult-to-invoke protections for tenants, permitting landlords to stage "no-cause evictions" for tenants regardless of whether they pay their rent on time and look after their homes. At a City Hall meeting on the issue that I attended last week, I ran into one of my daughter's babysitters and her neighbors: their apartment building had changed hands and the next day, the new landlord -- an anonymous LLC -- had served every single tenant with eviction notices, including families with small children (one mother showed me an envelope addressed to her young son that had personally notified him that he was being evicted). Read the rest

Catalan independence movement declares a general strike in Barcelona

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

The cause of Catalan independence surged in October 2017, when voters defied Madrid and voted in a banned independence referendum despite indiscriminate violence and rubber-bullet fire from police, who had earlier seized the ballot boxes (the independence movement had wisely procured a backup set of boxes just in case. The referendum led to a declaration of independence, and the central government responded by imposing direct rule and arresting the movement's leaders (the ruling coalition was trounced at the polls a few months later).

Now, Catalan independence is surging again, on the news that the movement's leaders are to serve long prison sentences for "sedition": more than 500,000 people marching in Barcelona to inaugurate a general strike that has paralyzed the city. The protests were largely peaceful, though a few protesters were arrested for property damage, and earlier protests were characterized by police as "riots."

Speaking in Brussels, acting Spanish Prime Minster Pedro Sánchez warned that those who caused disturbances would face justice.

"There is no space for impunity in relation to the serious acts of violence we have witnessed over recent days in different cities in Catalonia," he said.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Spain's acting interior minister, said there had been nearly 130 arrests since trouble broke out across Catalonia five days ago. He warned that rioters faced up to six years in prison. What is the latest?

Masked protesters confronted officers near the national police headquarters in Barcelona late on Friday, throwing stones and cans at lines of officers in riot gear.

Read the rest

AOC to endorse Bernie Sanders today

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

Following on Ilhan Omar's endorsement of Bernie Sanders earlier this week, Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is expected to make her own endorsement for Sanders's candidacy today.

Persistent rumors have Tlaib ready to endorse Sanders as well, though she has lately said that she is not ready to make any public endorsements (she and Sanders are due to visit her district in Detroit this month).

AOC's endorsement is not surprising, given that she campaigned for Sanders in 2016. The remaining "Squad" member, Ayanna Pressley [D-MA], has not endorsed anyone; her district is in Elizabeth Warren's home state.

Writing in Vice, Leila Ettachfini presents the case for feminists supporting Sanders over Warren: "But to act as if Warren is inarguably the evolved form of the Vermont senator is simplistic at best. Sanders’ policy proposals on many issues that affect women could be considered more progressive than Warren’s—specifically when it comes to addressing low-income women of color. While Warren wants to reduce rents for Americans by 10 percent, Sanders supports national rent control. While Warren only recently changed her previously unwaivering pro-Israel views, Sanders has condemned the Israeli occupation of Palestine since the 1980s. And while Warren’s newfound support of Medicare for All has left some questioning her commitment to the issue, Sanders has supported single-payer healthcare for decades."

I am a donor to both Sanders' and Warren's campaigns. In anticipation of AOC's endorsement, I have made another donation to the Sanders campaign. I was also a donor to AOC's campaign.

It remains unclear whether Sanders’s campaign can fully rebound following the candidate’s heart attack, which required not only a hospital stay but also the insertion of two stents in an artery and drew renewed attention to his age.

Read the rest

These travel accessories will help you pack like a pro for your next trip

Oct 19, 2019

Description:

People tend to keep luggage around for a long time. And why not? New suitcases are pricey, and no matter how banged up or patched up that old bag gets, it still holds your clothes. Right?

Maybe not. Here are 15 travel bags and accessories that make a strong case for upgrading your gear. They've got innovations that will let you pack more, improve your organization and be prepared for any emergency.

Suitcases

Tanka Engine Hard-Side 3-Piece Spinner Luggage

Made of scratch-free ABS material and equipped with three dial-side combination locks, this baggage set presents a tough exterior. But when it comes time for packing, the flexible interior expands by up to 2.5", giving you a surprising amount of space. A set of 3 bags is on sale now for 10% off.

J World Tanka Zuni 4-Pc Hard-Side Spinner Luggage Set

Tanka's Zuni line sports the same expandable packing space and adds plenty of organizational perks. There's an X panel for keeping things separate and multiple mesh pockets for smaller gear. The 4-pack set includes a large and mid-size suitcase, carry-on bag and beauty case, all priced at 10% off the MSRP.

J World DIA Polycarbonate Luggage Set

Feather-light double spinners let these bags travel smoothly and quickly across the terminal, and the polycarbonate shell is durable yet pliable. Corner protection and interior dividers show attention to detail in this well-made set. Pick up the set of three for a 10% discount.

Genius Pack 30" Spinner Upright Suitcase

True to its name, the Genius Pack is loaded with features. Read the rest

Pay what you want for these 9 Mac apps & get the most out of your MacBook

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Do you own a Mac? Unless you're using it for a paperweight, you almost can't afford not to get the Magnificent Mac Bundle. It's a roundup of some truly essential security and file management apps, bundled up with great photo and video enhancers.

The best part is that all nine apps are potentially available for pennies. There's a "pay what you want deal" for the bundle that allows you to name your price. No matter what that number is, you'll at least get something. But before we get into the deal itself, here's a breakdown of the apps:

UltData Mac Data Recovery - A lifesaver for busy workers with wayward files, this one protects your data from accidental deletion, formatting snafus, virus infections or a host of other calamities. MovieSherlock Pro Video Downloader - Get any video from anywhere in its native format. The downloader also converts to MP3 or MP4 and can handle multiple files simultaneously. Dropzone 3 - This drag-and-drop file manager makes everything you do easier, from installing apps to shortening URLs. Wallpaper Wizard 2 - Tired of the same stock photos on your screen? Choose from 25,000 images in 4K HD, customizable for display on multiple devices. AnyTrans for iOS -If you spend time bouncing between devices, AnyTrans makes sure you can access all your files without confusion and manage your data, contacts and media from anywhere. Camera Guard 3 Pro - That webcam of yours can be an open window for hackers or malware. This service locks it (and your microphone) down with state-of-the-art app blockers and access PINs. Read the rest

If you are in LA, come to Nicoletta Ceccoli's art opening at Corey Helford Gallery

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles will be showing the work of painter Nicoletta Ceccoli from November 2 to December 7. Here are a few of the paintings in the show:

Read the rest

The 6-legged walker of CMU (1982)

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Pittsburgh is now a hotbed of robotics and machine intelligence, and very likely the place the AIs will eventually sigh and commence the annihilation of humankind. 40 years ago it was just getting started. CMU Robotics:

"From the Robotics Institute Archives in Honor of our 40th Anniversary, we've uploaded Ivan Sutherland talking about his 6 Legged Walking Machine. A wonderful piece of our early history."

Read the rest

Fantastic wireless thermometer for the BBQ or grill

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Digital thermometers are a great tool when slow cooking meat.

It is pretty easy to under or overcook meat on the grill. Monitoring the internal temperature of your food, as you cook it, is a really good way to be sure that food is as done as you want it and no more. This affordable ThermoPen set-up does the trick for me.

I like to use one probe at the grate and one inside the item I am cooking. That way I know what is going on!

ThermoPro TP-08S Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer Dual Probe for Grilling Smoker BBQ Food Thermometer - Monitors Food from 300 Feet Away via Amazon Read the rest

This rubber bristles brush is like a cat hair magnet

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

This rubber bristled brush does a great job of removing our three cats' fur from carpets, bedspreads, and furniture. We had it for years and it has held up well. It's only on Amazon. Read the rest

Jim Meskimen impersonates 20 celebs in 2 minutes in remarkable deepfake video

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

The deepfake technology in this video is far from flawless, but Jim Meskimen's voices and mannerisms more than make up for it. Watch him recite a poem of his own composition as John Malkovich, Colin Firth, Robert Deniro, Tommy Lee Jones, Nick Offerman, George Clooney, Christopher Walken, Anthony Hopkins, Dr. Phil, Nicholas Cage, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Morgan Freeman, Bryan Cranston, Christoph Waltz, Joe Pesci, Jack Nicholson, George W. Bush, Ian McKellen, Ron Howard, and Robin Williams.

[via Twisted Sifter] Read the rest

Short documentary about people living in tunnels under Las Vegas

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

According to this short documentary, there are hundreds of miles of service, storm, and sewer tunnels beneath the glitz and neon of Las Vegas, and these tunnels are home to many people. The video has interviews with some of the residents, who say they rely on each other for food, money, and support.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Video demonstration of new "invisibility cloak"

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Canadian camouflage developer HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp released a series of videos demonstrating their new "patent-pending" "Quantum Stealth Light Bending Material (Invisibility Cloak)." Here is HyperStealth's technical video about the technology and their press release. Read the rest

This gentleman's pleasure in revving his motorcycle is interrupted when it catches on fire

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

A young man was having a fine time making a loud noise with his motorcycle for all the neighbors to enjoy. His fun was cut short when the engine caught on fire. The laugh at the end of the video has potential to become the Wilhelm Scream of laughs.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

New Apple AirPods Pro with noise-cancelling functionality

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

MacRumors, which is usually correct, reports on China Economic Daily's news of the imminent launch of Apple AirPods Pro with noise-cancelling functionality and a $260 price. The new AirPods Pro won't look anything like the image above, although it'd be cool if they did. From MacRumors:

According to China Economic Daily, Apple's third-generation ‌AirPods‌ will adopt a new in-ear design to support the new noise-canceling feature and enhance the listening experience. The paper claims the "Pro" suffix, which Apple recently adopted for its most expensive iPhone 11 models, will help to differentiate the new wireless earbuds from Apple's existing ‌AirPods‌ and underscores the marketing rationale justifying the higher $260 price tag.

According to a separate report on Friday from the same Chinese-language financial media outlet, the ‌AirPods‌ Pro will also feature a new metal design that increases heat dissipation. Apple ‌AirPods‌ supplier Inventec is said to be cooperating with Chinese manufacturer Lixun to undertake the new orders...

According to industry sources previously cited by DigiTimes, Apple's suppliers are gearing up to assemble the next-generation ‌AirPods‌ as early as October, suggesting an updated version of the earphones could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.

Read the rest

NYC Ferry department lies about reason for not letting Muslim families aboard

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Three Muslim families were unlawfully forbidden to board an NYC ferry, according to a complaint filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The women in the families were wearing traditional Muslim garbs -- "hijabs, religious headcover, and long dresses covering their legs and arms for religious purposes." The families were about to board but were stopped by an NYC Ferry employee who told them they would not be allowed on the ferry do to a security issue. They were escorted to a security officer, who said he didn't know why they had been prevented from boarding the ferry. When they returned to the boarding area, a ferry employee told them they had been denied boarding because their children had been observed standing on seats, a claim that another ferry employee contradicted.

From NBC News:

NYC Ferry offered to reimburse the families for their fares, calling the incident a "misunderstanding." CAIR said it is seeking payment of compensatory damages for "humiliation, embarrassment, and severe emotional distress" and punitive damages.

New York City's Economic Development Corporation, which runs NYC Ferry, told NBC News that it was aware of the complaint and is investigating the incident.

Everyone deserves equal and fair service free of discrimination, especially when using public transportation like the NYC Ferry. These families were humiliated and traumatized in public view because they happen to be Muslim.https://t.co/iE2CT0yN3b pic.twitter.com/mp0jg1MizY

— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) October 16, 2019

Image: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr. Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) Read the rest

Researchers print electronic tattoos directly onto the skin

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

While researchers have demonstrated electronic "tattoos" that can be applied to the skin, Duke University electrical engineers have shown that electronic components can be printed directly onto the body. Typically, printable electronics need post-processing to function but the Duke researchers used an aerosol jet printer to print silver nanowire ink at near room temperature and the circuits worked immediately. On the first try, the traces connected a battery to an LED that glowed. The skin circuits wash right off with soap and water. From IEEE Spectrum:

Flexible electronics are having a moment. The sheer range of devices developed recently demonstrates the scope and speed of the field, including patches to communicate with robots, wearables to reverse baldness or detect heartbeats, and solar cells that can be sewn into clothing....

In two recent papers, Franklin, Williams and colleagues at Duke demonstrate a low-temperature technique for printing electrical components—including leads and transistors—onto delicate surfaces such as apples, human skin and paper, with no post-processing required.

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s paper or plastic or what-not, you want to be able to put your surface in, add printed, functional electronics to that surface, and away you go,” says (electrical engineer Aaron) Franklin. The new technique enables researchers to print electronic components onto a wide range of materials and reduces overall production complexity and time, he says...

“We don’t want to just print conductive traces onto human skin,” says Franklin. “We want to actually show we can do a full printing on any surface with useful, functional biosensing devices.”

Read the rest

Ali Wong's guide on how to tell a good Asian restaurant from a bad one

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Comedian/actor Ali Wong has a new book out called Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life and it includes her guide for how to tell the difference between good and bad Asian restaurants. Vulture has an excerpt. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt:

Image: Netflix Read the rest

Exquisitely engineered coin contains a mechanical beating heart

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Russian artist Roman Booteen modifies coins with incredible engravings and feats of mechanical engineering. This coin features a beating heart. Other exquisite examples of his work are below. He also customizes Zippo lighters.

(via Kottke)

View this post on Instagram

#hobonickel #goldinlay #morgandollar #engraved #engravedcoin #hobonickel #hobonickels

A post shared by Roman Booteen (@romanbooteen) on Aug 7, 2017 at 8:02am PDT

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Roman Booteen (@romanbooteen) on Nov 17, 2017 at 12:50am PST

Read the rest

Florida GOP finally admits that maybe they shouldn't have banned the phrase "climate change" after all

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Climate change is real. The state of Florida is particularly susceptible to its effects, being a largely coastal landmass. Hurricanes and floods strike with increasing frequency, damaging or outright destroying homes, businesses, and public infrastructure. As a result, maintenance and repair costs are rising, too. And that doesn't even touch on the human impact—the elderly residents killed by extreme temperatures, and the food- and mosquito-borne diseases that mutate and spread through the swampy heat. The latest studies predict a two-foot rise in sea level over the next forty years.

But you wouldn't know any of that from a visit to the Florida Statehouse at any point during the reign of Republican Governor Rick Scott, however. That's because Scott had implemented an unofficial policy banning the use of "climate change" and "global warming" in all official government communications ("unofficial" only in that Scott was a conniving politician who understood that you can't legally ban words in the United States, but you can use your authority to bully people out of using them anyway). It's the same tactic that the Trump Administration has used to steamroll federal scientists. From the Miami Herald:

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting.

Read the rest

Kids today would not enjoy 'Howdy Doody'

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

My nephew will have nothing to do with a cowboy marionette that can not shoot fire out its rear like a Pokemon. Clarabel is literally the stuff nightmares were made of back then!

I did not know the first Clarabel was Bob Keeshan. Keeshan gave up the stellar role of Clarabel to become Captain Kangaroo. This show was far more a feel-good acid trip for the children. Tho I doubt The Captain'd be a hit here-and-now either. Read the rest

Check out this 480 million-year-old conga line of arthropods

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

When I was little, my big brother would take me fossil-hunting on a quest for trilobites, marine arthropods that have been extinct for around 250 million years. Occasionally we'd find lone specimens but never a bunch of them in a conga line as seen above. Paleontologists at France's Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 studied lines of nearly two dozen trilobytes from Moroccan fossil beds to gain insight into the origins of collective social behavior. From the New York Times:

These trilobites lived during the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, a period defined by a dramatic increase in the variety and complexity of marine life. It was the evolutionary sequel to the first major diversification event, the so-called Cambrian explosion, which established most animal groups in the fossil record some 541 million years ago.

Before the Cambrian, there is “no evidence for group behavior” in animals, (paleontologist Jean) Vannier said, because Precambrian life-forms lacked sophisticated nervous systems.

Ampyx trilobites, in contrast, had an anatomy that could have enabled chemical communication and sensory stimulation. Though they were visually blind, the trilobites had long spikes protruding from their rear ends. These appendages clearly overlap and link individuals in the fossilized chains, and perhaps allowed tactile or pheromone signals to be exchanged.

Read the rest

Crowdfunding a symposium on a green, postcapitalist economics in Brussels, Nov 11

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

On November 11, the Edgeryders nonprofit assocation is bringing me to Brussels for a day-long event called The Science Fiction Economics Lab, where I'll be jointly keynoting with Edgeryders economist Alberto Cottica, a lifelong science fiction fan, about radical futuristic economic ideas for a more cooperative, sustainable future.

It's a stage-setting exercise that then leads into an Extinction Rebellion workshop called "Reclaiming Utopia," and the next day, November 12, will be a full-day workshop designing "fictional economies...t do not exist in fully realized form, but are nevertheless internally coherent and could, in principle, come to pass, and are radically different from the economy we do have." It all wraps with a giant party on Nov 15 ("Because if we can’t dance, we don’t want your alt-economy").

The event is running a crowdfunder to help defray costs, with copies of my novel Walkaway and other premiums for backers.

The maiden voyage of the Sci-Fi Economics Lab consists of four parts: November 11th: A double keynote lecture by science fiction author Cory Doctorow and economist Alberto Cottica, moderated by Kirsten Dunlop. The lecture focuses on the experience of living in a different economy would be like (Doctorow, drawing on his and others’ work, in particular Walkaway); a professional economist’s point of view on the viability of such a fictional economy (Cottica), and a discussion of the path to get from here to there (all three).

On November 11th, Reclaiming Utopia, a workshop where we learn how to mobilize ourselves for the more humane, fairer, greener economy we want.

Read the rest

Donotpay adds a feature that waits on hold for you, and now I'm ready to subscribe

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Donotpay started as a project to help people automatically fight parking tickets, before its then-teenaged creator, the UK-born Stanford computer science undergrad Joshua Browder expanded it to help homeless people apply for benefits, then to help you sue Equifax for doxing you, then to apply for rebates if your plane tickets' prices went down after you applied for them, then to easily file small claims suits against companies that ripped you off, then to apply for airline compensation for late flights, lost bags, overbookings and cancellations, then to auto-cancel your "free trial offers" by letting you create burner credit-card numbers that would simply not accept future bills when they arrived.

Browder eventually took investor capital and promised to return it by creating premium subscription services that users could pay for in order to get even more automated anti-fuckery services. I was a little skeptical at the time, but now Browder has released a feature that has convinced me to sign up for his $3/month premium plan -- as soon as the Android version launches (it's Ios only).

That feature is a hold-queue-beating bot for merchants' customer service numbers. Donotpay has assembled a massive database of the secret, direct, speak-to-an-operator numbers and when you need to get in touch with a company, it will call them for you, wait on hold for you until an operator picks up, then call your phone and connect you, after reading the operator a warning that you're recording the conversation so that you can resolve any future disputes about what you were promised. Read the rest

Brooklyn gentleman filmed destroying halloween pumpkins

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Police in New York City are hunting a pumpkin smasher who seems bent on ruining halloween for locals.

Does anyone recognize this tough guy pumpkin smasher. This happened on 81st Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue #Brooklyn. If so please call 718-439-4220.‬

The hat alone calls for a custodial sentence.

Read the rest

Strangers celebrate birthday of girl with autism after friends fail to show

Oct 18, 2019

Description:

Only two children showed up to the birthday party of Remi, 5, a young girl with autism. So strangers filled the seats to make it a date to remember.

"It all looked like it was going to go pear-shaped," said [dad] PJ, 40.

"When she asked her mum where all her friends were, it was heartbreaking. "Remi's autism means you need to prepare her for things. So when her party didn't match what she had in her mind, she was so forlorn. We were sat there on the verge of tears but we thought, no, this is wrong. So out of desperation we sent out that message."

28 kids and parents soon showed up, reports the BBC. The family was contacted by the parents of other children with autism—parents familiar with the challenges of organizing play-dates and group activities.

Facebook is good for something, now and again! Read the rest

TIL Disneyland will permit adult cosplay of trash cans

Oct 6, 2019

Description:

Disneyland rules typically forbid costumes and masks worn by guests 14 years of age or older. But the rules clearly do NOT prevent adults from dressing in stylish trash can cosplay:

Why yes we are Disneyland trash pic.twitter.com/ftfLrX4BOK

— Damfino ⍟⃝ (@LadyDamfino) October 3, 2019

Really, Lady Damfino's feed is full of stylish, permissible cosplay ideas such as agent of the First Order or aspiring Egyptologist:

The FIRST ORDER here is fashion, okay. pic.twitter.com/YmSt3p0fyB

— Damfino ⍟⃝ (@LadyDamfino) September 9, 2019

Hello, I’m here to look for a late 90’s Brendan Fraser pic.twitter.com/JCUXKyDAnZ

— Damfino ⍟⃝ (@LadyDamfino) July 25, 2019

Read the rest

This $39 training bundle is your ticket to mastering the Adobe Creative Cloud

Oct 6, 2019

Description:

There are three baseline requirements for any graphic designer: Imagination, fluency with the Adobe Creative Cloud, and the ability to draw a straight line. As a matter of fact, the programs in Adobe CC are so intuitive these days that the last one is probably negotiable.

Which is why if you're looking to land a job in graphic design, web design, or any artistic career, the Ultimate Adobe CC Training Bundle is a really good place to start.

This 12-course online boot camp covers all the essential platforms in the Adobe CC suite. Most of the courses are well suited to beginners, but even veterans in the field might learn a thing or two from the up-to-date tutorials. And with lifetime access, you'll have plenty of time to unlock the full potential of this powerful graphics software.

There's plenty of training on Photoshop, the flagship software of Adobe's fleet. You'll get separate courses on Essentials and Advanced training, as well as a market-driven lesson that teaches you the crucial skill of how to keep your visual messaging consistent across platforms.

A pair of courses take the same approach to teaching Illustrator, allowing anyone to create seamless charts and presentations by way of hands-on projects.

Web designers will want to dive into the classes on Adobe XD. The exercises in these modules will have you building actual websites and mobile apps and learning how to streamline your workflow as you go.

Want to see your work move? There's plenty of training on both Adobe After Effects and Animate, geared toward animating and polishing everything from web banners to infographics. Read the rest

Hi-rez, open-licensed recreation of the 1968 Disneyland souvenir map

Oct 6, 2019

Description:

Boing Boing reader Pink Frankenstein is behind this stunning, high-resolution recreation of the 1968 Disneyland souvenir map, which he's generously licensed CC 0 (there's also a 700 DPI, 3.5GB Photoshop master file). Pink Frankenstein adds, "Any idea who the original artist is?" Read the rest

Princess Diana’s killer found (yet again) and Epstein scandal blackmail, in this week’s dubious tabloids.

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

“Shocking charge blows lid off 22-year cover-up” screams the cover of this week’s National Enquirer. “Diana’s Killer Found!”

Writer David Moldawer's favorite tools

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

My guest this week on the Cool Tools show is David Moldawer. David is a Brooklyn-based writer and book collaborator who spent more than a decade as an acquiring editor in New York City publishing. He was an editor on a number of books I've written. He also writes a weekly newsletter for nonfiction authors and experts who aspire to be authors called The Maven Game.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Raw transcript excerpts:

Focusmate Focusmate has been transformative for me over the last few months. It’s very simple. It pairs you with a random person via webcam and you work together for 50 minutes at a time. So it’s like having a virtual coworking partner. So what happens is you have a calendar and you pick a slot. Let’s say I want to work at 9:00 AM — it’ll say “You’re working with John or Bill or Melinda at 9:00 AM,” and at that time I click start and it brings up a typical webcam, video-chat-kind-of window, and the other person’s there sitting at a desk and I’ll say “Hi, what are you working on?” They’ll say, “Oh I’m grading something because I’m a teacher.” And I’ll say, “Okay great. I’m doing some editing because I’m a book collaborator,” and that’s it. And then we’ll just sit there and work with the webcam going. Nobody really watches each other. Read the rest

Drew Friedman's fantastic book with his portraits of every U.S. President

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

The great Drew Friedman took time to draw a portrait of every U.S. President. His work always blows me away (as you might guess, given the number of times I've posted about him). Below, a few samples from the book, which is called All the Presidents. It's published by Fantagraphics.

Some of these portraits will be on display at a Drew Friedman exhibition being held at Friends of the Libraries Gallery, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, in Columbus Ohio, from November 2, 2019 - February 9, 2020.

Read the rest

The King of Cool's super cool watch

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Steve McQueen, the King of Cool, famously wore a Tag Heuer Monaco in his epic 1971 racing film Le Mans.

There are lots of debates about McQueen fashion items. The King of Cool is also frequently pictured wearing a Rolex Submariner. Let us not get into Belstaff vs Barbour. Read the rest

How to survive "The Big One"

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

"Hear that Elizabeth? I'm coming to join you, honey!"

Truly one of the most entertaining shows ever on television, Sanford and Son sports the TV theme song that taught me to appreciate theme songs!

The incredible Redd Foxx played the wild and excitable Fred Sanford, while Demond Wilson played his more neutral son Lamont. The theme was by Quincy Jones.

Redd Foxx was the stage name of John Elroy Sanford. Read the rest

Fan-made "rideable" Haunted Mansion poster

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Cartoonist Vince "Untold Tales of Bigfoot" Dorse (previously) continues to make astoundingly cool Haunted Mansion fan media: his latest is a "ride through" illustration of the Mansion and its many set-pieces, which imagines a coherent geometry for the ride.

It's an underappreciated fact that the Haunted Mansion is basically a giant black show-building filled with effectively floating rooms that don't join up in any internally consistent fashion (contrast with rides built around the same time, like Pirates of the Caribbean, in which each show room leads in a coherent way to the next, and whose individual set-pieces actually follow an internal logic).

This wasn't by design -- rather, it's an artefact of the strange collaboration between background painter Claude Coats and character designer Marc Davis (the subject of an absolutely incredible recent book), which was then overlaid by successive generations of Imagineers, creating a kind of inadvertent, eldritch unworldiness to the space that gives it the character of a dream in which rooms and corridors lead back to themselves or to places that have no business being connected to them.

Dorse's print illustrates just how strange that implied geometry is, and how fascinating it is to imagine it all laid out as a real building.

He's got a limited number of 18" x 24" prints for sale at an unstated price, and asks that prospective buyers DM him for purchase information.

This was gonna be a b/w one-off. Ink a ghost a day, end up with a whole #HauntedMansion.

Read the rest

Interview with founder of Sahel Sounds, a West African music label

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Sahel Sounds is a record label, a recording project and artist collective focused on the culture in the West African Sahel. While based in Portland, Oregon, founder Christopher Kirkley frequently travels to West Africa to locate, record and work with musicians in that area. 

Sahel Sounds publishes a unique array of artists and genres including Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar, electronic synth composer Hama who plays modal, quarter tone “Arabic scales” on a Yamaha electronic keyboard, the sinuous singing and lilting melodies of Les Filles de Illighadad and a handful of other compelling artists.

Kirkley also writes extensively on the artists, how he met and recorded them as well as illuminating what makes their musical approach so distinctive. Also, the record label’s YouTube Channel features over 450 videos of the Sahel Sounds artists. 

Founder Christopher Kirkley took time to speak with Boing Boing to share his insights on the Sahel Sounds project. 

How and when did you start the label?

It was originally a blog that was kicked off in January of 2009. Simultaneously, I started the blog while I was traveling around West Africa to do this project of field recordings. But it was my own project and wasn’t financed by any external sources. 

What was the initial interest in this region of West Africa?

I heard some music from that part of the world and was really fascinated by it. However, I couldn’t find out enough information on that particular West African music online. I felt like I really need to go there myself and find out about it.  Read the rest

Glenlivet's marketing stunt: whiskey in lozenge form

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Glenlivet capsules are edible, seaweed-derived pods filled with whiskey that you bite into.

It's pretty stupid.

First of all, you can't add a drop of water to bring the volatiles to the surface of the liquor.

Second of all, you can't sip it.

Third of all, whatever portability benefits can allegedly be derived from consuming whiskey in capsule form ("No glass needed," as Glenlivet has it) are wiped out by the need to keep these capsules in some kind of rigid container to keep them from being burst in your bag or pocket.

Glenlivet is a division of the booze monopolist Pernod Ricard, a faceless multinational conglomerate that also owns Chivas, Wiser's, Lamb's, Hiram Walker, Absolut, Dubonnet, Fuel, Ballantine's, Kahlua, Beefeater, Malibu, Tia Maria, Jacob's Creek, Jameson, Stolichnaya, Mumm, Pernod, Redbreast, Bushmills, and many others.

No ice. No stirrer. No glass. We're redefining how whisky can be enjoyed. Introducing The Glenlivet Capsule Collection #noglassrequired pic.twitter.com/F4MGErsfZM

— The Glenlivet (@TheGlenlivet) October 2, 2019

(via CNN) Read the rest

Just look at this Emshwiller galactic 1961 F&SF banana

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Just look at it.

(Thanks Robbo!)

Read the rest

CBP officer refuses to allow American journalist into the country until he admits he writes "propaganda"

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Ben Watson is a reporter for Defenseone, a news site that covers "US defense and National Security" who formerly served in the US Army as a public affairs officer; last week, Watson returned to the USA after an assignment in Denmark, entering the country at Dulles Airport.

When Watson was interviewed by a CBP officer, the officer asked him what his profession was, and when Watson answered "Journalism," the officer said, "So you write propaganda, right?"

Watson denied that he wrote propaganda, and the CBP officer grew belligerent, refusing to allow Watson to pass the checkpoint until he repeatedly stated that being a journalist was the same thing as "writing propaganda."

A CBP spokesperson told Defenseone that they are investigating the officer's conduct.

The CBP have been at the forefront of several scandals related to unethical, xenophobic and lawless behavior since Trump took office, from the agency's role in the unlawful detention and killings of migrant children to participation in a racist and violent Facebook group to unlawful searches of devices at the border to raping their fellow officers in a "hazing ritual" to raping migrants seeking entry to the USA.

The agency is the largest law-enforcement force in America, and attracts more complaints per officer than any other force. The top figures in the Agency are implicated in its scandals, and its poor reputation has starved it of recruits, leaving it scraping the bottom of an unhinged, sadistic, violent, racist and sexist barrel.

The rot goes all the way to the top, with the Agency's top lawyers involved in deeply unethical, secret guidelines that make a mockery of the Constitution. Read the rest

US prosecutors say the "bankrupt" Sacklers still have billions hidden away

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

The Sackler family (previously) made more money than the Rockefellers when their family business, Purdue Pharma, misled the public about the addictiveness of its flagship opioid, Oxycontin, and induced doctors to overprescribe it, kicking off an epidemic that has killed more Americans than the Vietnam war, with the body count at 400,000 and still climbing.

Until recently, the Sacklers were best known as "philanthropists," having perfected the reputation-washing playbook that corrupt oligarchs have used to rehabilitate their name since the gilded age robber-barons like Carnegie invented it.

But the Sacklers have since been embroiled in a series of federal and state criminal proceedings, as well as numerous civil cases, and these have revealed the family's complicity in the death toll, which recently prompted to family to agree to bankrupt Purdue and hand control of it, as well as $3b in cash, to settle the suits against them.

The family claimed that their total take from Purdue had amounted to $4b, and that the settlement would strip them of the gains from their illegal and unethical activities, but prosecutors have long argued that the Sacklers used shadowy money-laundering techniques to hide billions offshore, funnelling one billion dollars through a single bank.

Now, 24 States' Attorneys General have objected to the settlement, joining forces with lawyers representing 500 cities, counties and tribal governments. They deposed a company advisor who put the figure at $12b, not $4b, and the attorneys argue that settling outstanding lawsuits for $3b would allow the Sacklers to retain the bulk of the profits they received from their company's participation in mass overdoses and immiseration. Read the rest

"Troll Factory" games teaches you how fake news is spread - and why

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Troll Factory is an entertaining online edugame that shows you how disinformation merchants infiltrate social media and spread their corrosive anti-democracy propaganda.

Yle's Troll Factory game asks you to imagine you are a professional troll who tries to amass influence in social media by spreading fear, bias and suspicion using botnets, paid marketing and internet memes. The game combines authentic social media content with game-like simulation that's personalised based on the user's choices.

Fake news, hate speech and conspiracy theories spread in Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. The big internet behemoths can't stop this from happening. So it's becoming increasingly hard for people to notice when they share, comment or like something inaccurate online -- even unintentionally.

"We decided to turn the whole fake news problem upside down. What if you became an actual troll to understand the motives and intentions behind today's information wars?" says Jarno M. Koponen who's leading the project for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle's News Lab in Helsinki.

Read the rest

Thanks to you, the Trump They Live billboard is up in Times Square!

Oct 5, 2019

Description:

Mitch "the World's Best Arti