Boing Boing

Boing Boing


Brain candy for Happy Mutants



Wisconsin Supreme Court rules governor can't postpone Tuesday presidential primary

Apr 6, 2020


Coronavirus outbreak fears are not sufficient reason for the governor of Wisconsin to postpone the state's Tuesday primary election, a state supreme court ruled late Monday.

Further court challenges are likely.

Good luck and stay safe, Wisconsin voters.

JUST IN: Wisconsin's presidential primary election will proceed Tuesday under an order from the state Supreme Court that came just hours after Gov. Tony Evers tried to postpone voting as part of a last-ditch effort amid growing fears over the coronavirus.

— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) April 6, 2020

BREAKING: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks Gov. Evers’ executive order suspending all in-person voting for Tuesday's primary.

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 6, 2020

NEW: Wisconsin's Supreme Court has ordered the state's primary on Tuesday to proceed, overruling the governor's order to postpone the election. Further court challenges are likely.

— NPR (@NPR) April 6, 2020

As the @POTUS boasts of the value of mitigation, the Rs in Wisconsin, supported by the @GOP-dominated supporter state Supreme Court, are pressing ahead with Tuesday’s primary, overruling the governor’s emergency public health order.

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 6, 2020

BREAKING: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks Gov. Evers’ executive order suspending all in-person voting for Tuesday's primary.

— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) April 6, 2020

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signs an executive order suspending in-person voting for tomorrow’s primary election: “... I cannot in good conscience stand by and do nothing. The bottom line is that I have an obligation to keep people safe.”

— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) April 6, 2020


Read the rest

"Light at the end of the tunnel," says Trump

Apr 6, 2020


President Trump says that there is "light at the end of the tunnel" in the coronavirus pandemic.

Optimism from Dr Birx and Mr Trump contrasted with other leading US experts, including top advisor Dr Anthony Fauci, who earlier said the short-term outlook was "really bad". The US surgeon general, meanwhile, warned that this will be "the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives".

Read the rest

A return to 'Pre-coronavirus,' says Fauci, 'might not ever happen'

Apr 6, 2020


"Over a period of time we will get a good vaccine," says Dr. Anthony Fauci

Canadian firefighters offering drive-by birthday greetings

Apr 6, 2020


The world is full of sad, maddening horseshit, right now. So, it's important that we latch on to any rays of light that can be found.

In Calgary, Canada, firefighters are doing what they can to ensure that kids and elderly folks who are forced to celebrate their birthdays in a time of turmoil, have something to brighten what would otherwise be a shelter at home, friends-at-a-distance affair.

From The CBC:

Fire Chief Steve Dongworth says firefighters have already been delivering some birthday greetings outside homes with sirens and lights blaring.

But he says the fire department has now formalized the practice through a new program called Drive-By Birthdays.

The program is open to children between the ages of four and 12 or anyone 75 and older who has a birthday... Drive-By Birthdays can be booked online until the end of May.

Of course, if an emergency call is received while the firefighters are serenading you outside of your home, you shouldn't be surprised to see them take off faster than shit through a goose. Officials speaking on behalf of the Calgary Fire Department mentioned that if social distancing measures were still in effect beyond the end of May, they'd be cool with extending the program.

It's a small gesture, but times being what they are, small gestures are really all that most of us have to offer.

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

What it's like to experience the dreaded COVID-19 "cytokine storm"

Apr 6, 2020


If you needed another reason to be scared straight into practicing impeccable sterile technique in an effort to reduce your risk of COVID-19, read on. For those of us who are immunocompromised (raises hand) or over sixty (reluctantly raises hand again) this is sobering stuff. I think I'll go wash my hands again.

Of all the possible compounding effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the cytokine storm is one of the most feared. An immune system overreaction in which the body is flooded with the eponymous signaling molecules, those who suffer a cytokine storm are at risk of dying at the hand of their own immune system, as an indirect effect of the virus they are fighting.

My lab work was stunningly bad. A normal white count might be between 4.5 and 10. My white cell count was at 2,000. My lymphocytes — which are the cells that fight in a virus, normally fall somewhere between 1000 and 1,500 — they were under 200. I don't know if you know the term but the early cells that fight infection are called "bands," and you don't have [them] normally — I had 20% bands. My platelet count was around 100,000, which is low, and I knew I was in trouble.

In the current context, we believe we have a biomarker of this condition, a serum level of a non-specific but is an acute phase reactant called serum ferritin. It looks like it may be to be one of the more reliable biomarkers of cytokine dysregulation.

Read the rest

Amazon Web Services and Azure control half the cloud market. This training can help you handle both.

Apr 6, 2020


The workers aren’t inside their physical business space anymore. So why should business technology still be under that roof either?

In fact, more and more businesses have been making this migration for a while now, moving all their digital infrastructure to the world’s two largest cloud services platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure.

In addition to the convenience of moving all that hardware off-site, an overwhelming 87 of companies have seen a major side benefit, reporting their businesses have accelerated after adapting to the cloud services model.

Being the person who knows exactly how a company, its staff, and their entire communication and service infrastructure can work in the cloud is a valuable talent right now -- and with The Beginner Cloud Architect Professional Training Bundle ft. Azure and AWS training, you can be well on your way to being one of those valued IT pros.

Across seven courses with more than 30 hours of in-depth instruction, you’ll get a full introduction to how AWS and Azure work and what it takes to migrate, manage, secure and grow a company’s entire digital system in those cloud-based environments.

After getting a feel for the basics with the Getting Started with Cloud Computing course, the remaining six courses focus on the two rival platforms.

With AWS Cloud Essentials, you get the Amazon-approved best practices for using and understanding everything, from AWS terminology and concepts, tips for navigating the AWS Management Console, key security measures, and how to use all of AWS’ primary foundational, database and management services. Read the rest

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in intensive care

Apr 6, 2020


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care this afternoon after his condition deteriorated Monday. Johnson, who announced he was infected with the coronavirus 10 days ago, continued working in isolation until Sunday, when he was taken to hospital after symptoms failed to abate.

It is understood Johnson was moved to the intensive care unit just short of an hour and a half ago.

The decision was made by his medical team after his condition worsened over the course of Monday. The prime minister is understood to be conscious and to have been moved as a precaution in case he needs ventilation.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Johnson's designated successor, is chairing government meetings until the Prime Minister recovers or dies.

Terrible, terrible news. Know NHS will be doing everything possible, sending every best wishes to his family and ⁦@carriesymonds⁩ at this awful time

— Liz Kendall (@leicesterliz) April 6, 2020

Praying for the Prime Minister’s swift recovery tonight. @GSTTNHS has some of the finest medical staff in the world, and he couldn't be in safer hands.

— Mayor of London ( (@MayorofLondon) April 6, 2020

Terribly sad news. All the country’s thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time.

— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 6, 2020

Our thoughts and prayers are with our Prime Minister @BorisJohnson and his family at this time.

— Robert Buckland #StayHomeSaveLives (@RobertBuckland) April 6, 2020

Awful news. Thoughts with family & hoping for his full recovery.

Read the rest

Excellent way to make a simple bandana DIY mask without cutting or sewing

Apr 6, 2020


As usual, TikTok is a bit ahead of the curve. I.e., this is how the younger people in your house are likely self-educating right now. (This vid is 14hrs old, w/6.7M views and 740K likes.)

— David Hobby (@strobist) April 3, 2020

While I have nothing against the classic cowboy robber bandana mask, this technique, while it does require two hair rubber bands, is genius.

"How to Fold a No-Sew Bandana Face Mask" (Make:) Read the rest

Get this 9-course training bundle on music production, Abletion, Logic Pro X, and more for just $50

Apr 1, 2020


If you’ve ever had any musical aspirations -- or even if your talent extends no further than turning on the radio -- you’ve probably dreamed the “impossible” dream. You dream that maybe you could record some of your songs at home, post them online, build an armada of fan support, attract major label attention and ultimately become a global music powerhouse all in one fell swoop.

Look, it’s an unlikely dream, but it isn’t impossible. That’s the career arc that now 17-year-old Billie Eilish just rode to pop megastardom last year. And what program did she (and her brother-slash-producer Finneas O’Connell) use to capture and edit Billie’s now chart-topping tracks? Logic Pro X.

The Mac-based app is just one of the programs that has taken music production from opulent, expensive studios right to anyone’s bedroom. And since you’ve got a bit more home time on your hands recently, The 2020 Music Production with Ableton Live 10 and Logic Pro X Bundle can be just the ticket to the big time you’re looking for.

These nine courses are a 56-hour master class in breaking into the music industry, including everything from songwriting and producing to recording to back-end production and distribution that can compete with the big boys of the recording game.

The training centers on how to use Logic Pro X or its equally lauded competitor Ableton Live 10 to do all the digital sequencing, recording and editing needed to produce your tracks. This training doesn’t come with the software, but it’ll show you how to use it to create all the auditory scope and wonder you experience from today’s top artists. Read the rest

Throw away any Zantac you have around

Apr 1, 2020


You've probably received spam emails inviting you to join class action lawsuits against the makers of over-the-counter heartburn medicine Zantac (ranitidine) as it contains a likely carcinogen. Today, the US Food and Drug Administration requested that all ranitidine products be pulled from store shelves and that consumers properly dispose of any they've already purchased. You should expect even more Zantac class action spam. From CNN:

The FDA noted that an ongoing investigation has determined that levels of a contaminant in the heartburn medications increase over time and when stored at higher-than-normal temperatures, poses a risk to public health.

The contaminant, N-nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA, is a probable human carcinogen and the FDA has been investigating levels of it in ranitidine since the summer of 2019.

"We didn't observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested," Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in Wednesday's announcement.

"However, since we don't know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured," Woodcock said in part.

More: "FDA Requests Removal of All Ranitidine Products (Zantac) from the Market" (FDA)

image: "Ball-and-stick model of the ranitidine molecule" from A. Hempel, N. Camerman, D. Mastropaolo and A. Camerman (2000).(public domain) Read the rest

Video: Behind the scenes of the Astro Boy anime (1963)

Apr 1, 2020


Osamu Tezuka's iconic Astro Boy TV series premiered on New Year's Day, 1963. (First episode below.) By some accounts, the cartoon was watched at its most popular point by 40% of Japanese people with a TV. I love watching cartoonists draw familiar characters and the above behind-the-scenes footage from the Astro Boy production is a real delight.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

Read the rest

Voice of SpongeBob asked to improvise voices of 5 new characters

Apr 1, 2020


It's always great to see a master craftsperson at work. From Vanity Fair: "Watch as Tom Kenny seamlessly improvises the voices to 5 random cartoon characters that he has never seen before. Using his skills from decades as the voice of SpongeBob, The Ice King (Adventure Time), The Mayor (Powerpuff Girls), Heffer (Rocko's Modern Life) and many others, Tom is able to create amazing characters in the blink of an eye."

Image: YouTube

[via Dooby Brain] Read the rest

Apple buys excellent Dark Sky weather app, kills it for Android users

Apr 1, 2020


My favorite smartphone weather app is Dark Sky because it has a graph that shows you when it is going to rain, for how hard, and how long. Apple just bought Dark Sky and the first thing they did was pull the app from Android phones. Android users who subscribed to Dark Sky were informed that they will continue to receive service until July 1, 2020, after which they will be forced to throw their Android phone in the trash and buy an iPhone.

Former Dark Sky fans expressed their sentiments on Twitter:

So, @apple has bought my favourite forecast provider, #darksky. Now they will: * Leave the iOS app * Remove the Android app * Eliminate forecast and maps from the website in July * close the API at the end of 2021

No explanation provided.

Fuck you all.

— insomniac (@insomniacslk) April 1, 2020

My email to the #DarkSky team after the announced that they will be "Apple Exclusive"

I think it's wrong that they have done this.

— Matthew Wright (@MatthewW191) March 31, 2020

Just gutted that #darksky have sold out to Apple and are killing BOTH the Android app (of which I am a multi year subscriber) and their API. This is a huge blow to open technology. All at should hang their heads in shame.

— thebaldgeek (@thebaldgeek) March 31, 2020

Apple buying Dark Sky is a good test for my general "acquisitions are bad" instinct: iOS having a great weather app is a good market solution, as people won't download any of the extremely shady third-party weather apps that sell location data.

Read the rest

Jazz funerals in the time of do-not-gather

Apr 1, 2020


The Brass-A-Holics offer this fantastic rendition of "I'll Fly Away" to help comfort those who can not give their loved ones a proper jazz funeral.

I have been in love with jazz funerals since I was a teen. I only recently learned there are also jazz weddings. Should I ever remarry this will make things interesting. Read the rest

'Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S,' tweets Trump

Apr 1, 2020


Another day, another round of Trump anxiety-tweets.

“Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S.,” the impeached president and noted serial liar tweeted today.

Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!

Okie doke. Read the rest

Good tip for drawstring sweatpants

Apr 1, 2020


Good tip

— Engineering (@engineeringvids) March 30, 2020

This looks like a good way to keep drawstrings from disappearing, as is their wont. Read the rest

"I Wanna Wash My Hands" and "Don't Come Together" by The Bits

Apr 1, 2020


Who is the best Hungarian Beatles tribute band? This is a question musicologists have argued about for years, but more than a few agree that The Bits are worthy contendors for the title. Above, a pandemic inspired "I Wanna Wash My Hands." Below, a social distanced version of "Come Together," retitled "Don't Come Together."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

This 3D animation shows you what's inside Seattle's famous Space Needle

Apr 1, 2020


Ever wonder how the Space Needle's rotating glass floor works? CGI animator extraordinaire Jared Owen gives us an inside look at Seattle's most iconic structure.

The Space Needle is located in Seattle Washington. It was built in 1962 just in time for the World's Fair. The top looks like a Flying Saucer and is meant to inspire people to look towards the future. The Space Needle is icon to Seattle just as Eiffel Tower is to Paris, France. Around the Space Needle there plenty to see and do as well. The bottom of the building has a large spiral ramp that tourists get to climb on their way towards the elevators. The top of tower has the observation level with an outdoor deck, a service level, and The Loupe which features a revolving glass floor. The center of the tower has supports for the 3 elevators and the stairs which are mostly used for emergencies. The Skyline level is for private events at the Space Needle.

Read the rest

Despite CDC recommendations to the contrary, hate group intends to hold rally

Apr 1, 2020


Haters gotta hate right?


Michael Hill has no intention of letting a global pandemic cancel plans for the League of the South’s annual conference.

The 68-year-old Hill, president of the League, posted the following to the group’s website March 18.

“At present, we are doing more than simply ‘monitoring’ the situation. We are actively making plans and raising funds to help our members who are in financial straits, and we are moving ahead with our plans for upcoming events, including our 2020 national conference in late June.”

Hill’s decision goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations against gatherings of more than 10 people. Older adults in particular are likely at higher risk for the disease, the CDC notes. The average age of the League’s state chairmen and national staff is roughly 57.

Read the rest

San Francisco drinks its way thru the pandemic

Apr 1, 2020


San Francisco is jamming on the wine deliveries. Unsurprisingly alcohol isn't the greatest thing for your immune system.


You’d be forgiven for blacking out around sundown and not having even noticed yet that liquor stores across San Francisco are being forced to close at 8 p.m. every night now, according to KRON 4. Mayor Breed issued that order Friday, another of the expanded shelter in place orders now in effect until at least May 1. Any cursory scrolling of social media you’ve done in the last two weeks — and yes, it has only been 14 days since this started — will show you that drinking alcohol has become a preferred pastime in the age of COVID-19. We now have the data to back this “No sh*t, Sherlock” observation; on the heels of Eater National's report that alcohol sales are skyrocketing (“Three-liter boxed wine is up 53 percent”), the Chronicle follows up with a report that is seeing a 400 percent increase in spirits sales, from which Eater highlights the conclusion that Bay Area residents are drinking 42 percent more alcohol whilst stuck home.

Casablanca is one of the greatest drinking and smoking movies of all time. Read the rest

Social security for all — for now

Apr 1, 2020


America has no fire drill for economic uncertainty. What is going to happen today, April 1st, in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, when everyone's rent, mortgages, and bills are due?

There is no single and immediate template for how to survive a financial crisis in general. People do not know how to act. People are panicking, hoarding, fearful. With good reason. We know what to do during a tornado warning: go to the lowest floor, stay away from windows. Sadly, a new generation knows what to do during a school shooting. There are best practices in place. But not for this.

With no existing and immediate safety net in a nation largely shut down, the reality of the financial brutality of American life for millions is revealing itself. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated Sunday that Americans could live on $17 per day. He estimates the one-time $1200 stimulus check will be disbursed “within the next three weeks.”

As someone who currently lives on $1200 per month due to disability, I can tell you that even the seasoned and resourceful poor, like myself, can barely make that work and then only because my landlord is a friend who charges me just $500 per month for an entire house. My employed friends and family with $1500+ rents and mortgages are not going to be OK on $17 per day without losing their homes or their minds. It is all too little, too late.

Meanwhile new applicants for unemployment are finding crashed application portals, confusing qualifiers and exceptions, and even if they are able to apply successfully, it takes about three weeks for cash benefits to arrive. Read the rest

A prototype toy line for the X-rated epic film disaster Caligula (1979)... April Fool's!

Apr 1, 2020


(Yes, this is an April Fool's joke.)

In 1979, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione produced a big budget feature film about the Roman emperor Caligula starring Maclolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, and John Gielgud. Scripted by Gore Vidal and filled with graphic sex and violence, it was a critical and box office disaster but has garnered cult acclaim over the years. (Original trailer below.) Now, archivist Thomas Negovan and Shadow of the Vampire director E. Elias Merhig have located all of the original footage and are recutting the film into a 40th anniversary edition titled Caligula MMXX. Over the course of their research, they found this bizarre TV commercial produced for a line of Caligula action figures that, of course, never made it into production. Negovan tells Dangerous Minds:

A company named Cinco Toys pitched Guccione, who never met a deal he didn’t like, on them getting a license to do a line of action figures. Star Wars action figures were making millions and apparently they pitched him pretty hard for this. Caligula‘s budget was twice that of Star Wars. They made a handful of prototypes for action figures. They even went so far as to make a spec TV commercial to woo Guccione to let them do this, which is extra insane. They made it like he (Guccione) would be (star) in the commercial himself and had someone do a VO as if they were Bob. And there it was on the shelf with the various drafts of the script.

Read the rest

The Trump administration won't re-open enrollment for and the Affordable Care Act

Apr 1, 2020


From Politico:

President Donald Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law's marketplace. However, a White House official on Tuesday evening told POLITICO the administration will not reopen the site for a special enrollment period, and that the administration is "exploring other options."

The annual enrollment period for closed months ago, and a special enrollment period for the coronavirus could have extended the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to newly seek out coverage. Still, the law already allows a special enrollment for people who have lost their workplace health plans, so the health care law may still serve as a safety net after a record surge in unemployment stemming from the pandemic.


Trump confirmed last week he was seriously considering a special enrollment period, but he also doubled down on his support of a lawsuit by Republican states that could destroy the entire Affordable Care Act, along with coverage for the 20 million people insured through the law. is of course a product of the Affordable Care Act, which is also commonly referred to as Obamacare, a branding that has inspired a decade's worth of spite from Republican politicians determined to destroy the legacy of the first black president at all costs.

There are honestly few things in this world that baffle me as much as the vitriol that some conservatives feel about Obama's "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" quote. Read the rest

Undersea telescope seeks out dark matter

Apr 1, 2020


More than 125 of these curious soccer ball-sized glass spheres hang near the floor of the Mediterranean Sea. Even though they're deep underwater, they're keeping a constant vigil for neutrinos, particles that may be evidence of dark matter, supernovae, and neutron stars far off in intergalactic space. Eventually, the Cubic Kilometer Neutrino Telescope (KM3NeT) will consist of 6,000 spheres suspended across one cubic kilometer of seawater. Often, neutrino detectors are located deep underground because the Earth itself helps isolate the instrument from background radiation and cosmic rays so the neutrinos are more easily spotted. From Scientific American:

“Perhaps one or two neutrinos in a million will interact with quarks inside the nucleus of either hydrogen or oxygen” in the water, says the project's physics and software manager, Paschal Coyle of the Marseille Particle Physics Center. “Because the cosmic neutrinos possess very high energy, the result of such interactions is the release of a charged particle that travels very fast.”

In fact, it travels through the water faster than light can, producing an effect Coyle likens to an optical equivalent of the Concorde jet's sonic boom. Researchers can determine the original neutrinos' energy and direction using the faint light released—so-called Cherenkov radiation—picked up by the undersea sensors.

Read the rest

This animated short about a horse is adorable, existential, and relatable

Apr 1, 2020


This is exactly how I've felt while cooped in my house these last few weeks and yes I mean "exactly."

The 2-minute film was created by AJ Jeffries, a 3D illustrator and animator based in Norwich in the UK. The only description or explanation given for it is this: "A horse struggles to exist." That feels like it's vague or underselling, after watching this mesmerizing cartoon several times over, I think it's actually perfect.

Horse [AJ Jeffries / Vimeo] Read the rest

Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read a Shakespeare sonnet every day

Apr 1, 2020


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:06pm PDT

"Having spent so much of my life with Shakespeare’s world, passions and ideas in my head and in my mouth, he feels like a friend—someone who just went out of the room to get another bottle of wine," Patrick Stewart once said.

On Instagram, he's now delivering a daily fix of the Bard. See them all at @sirpatstew on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

It has led me to undertake what follows. When I was a child in the 1940s, my mother would cut up slices of fruit for me (there wasn't much) and as she put it in front of me she would say: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." How about, “A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away”? we go: Sonnet 1.

A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 22, 2020 at 4:28pm PDT

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 28, 2020 at 12:35pm PDT

Read the rest

Every movie, starring Godzilla

Apr 1, 2020


Sean Kaen, @oddnmacabre on Twitter, posed the challenge 'let’s make some Godzilla movies!" and the results are unusually amusing due to the one rule: replace 1 word in any movie title with "Godzilla".

Godzilla, Actually.

— lawprofblawg (@lawprofblawg) March 28, 2020

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Godzilla

Actually that sounds awesome!

On one side you have an aged, grumpy, ill-tempered, feared being who likes to smash things...

And on the other side a giant lizard.

— Robert Ropars (@robertropars) March 27, 2020

A Godzilla Runs Through It

— Alexander Occasionally-Cortical (@Trolletariat2) March 28, 2020

Four Weddings and a Godzilla

— Peter de Sève (@peterdeseve) March 29, 2020

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Godzilla

— E.Z. Hart (@hartez) March 28, 2020

Heather offers "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Godzilla."

I know I'll never get to watch "Remains of the Godzilla", but there'll always be the whale on Florence beach. And then I can found the Dead Godzillas Society. Read the rest

'You've literally got to eat mummy's cooking now.'

Apr 1, 2020


Joanna Charlton shared this video of her daughter crying over closed restaurants and delivery food. This 4-year-old girl speaks for all of us.

Layla-Rae Charlton was told by her mom that she could no longer go to KFC, Pizza Hut, and other favorite restaurants, and that for the foreseeable future, would have to eat mom's cooking.

Layla-Rae's response has us in stitches.

[Layla-Rae YouTube] Read the rest

Car crash footage with one of the vehicles digitally removed

Apr 1, 2020


This is a compilation of security- and dash-cam footage of auto accidents with one of the vehicles digitally removed, thereby becoming "invisible". It is remarkably creepy and unsettling, like one of those science fiction blockbusters that starts with an ingenious and terrifying disaster/invasion/escape scene but then becomes normal and boring for the rest of the movie. Read the rest

Samuel L Jackson reads "Stay the F at home"

Apr 1, 2020


You know what you're gonna get and the master delivers. The recital begins at 6:08.

While Jimmy is in quarantine, he checks in with the great Samuel L. Jackson at his home. Sam talks about canceling his trip to Italy with Magic Johnson, Jimmy wanting to be a part of their annual vacation, watching “Tiger King” with his daughter, the go-to meal he likes to cook himself.

Read the rest

New York prisoners offered $6 an hour to dig mass graves

Apr 1, 2020


New York City has offered prisoners personal protective equipment and $6 an hour to dig mass graves, reports Ryan Grim for The Intercept. The best-case scenario suggests 100,000-240,000 dead in the next few weeks from coronavirus infections, according to NBC News, and New York City is the hardest-hit metro area in the country. So someone's got to do it.

They're considering Hart Island for the grave sites, but are concerned there won't be enough space.

The offer is only being made to those with convictions, not those jailed before trial, as is generally the case. A memo sent to prisoners, according to a source who reviewed it, does not specify what the work on Hart Island will be, but the reference to PPE leaves little doubt. The offer comes as New York City continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with 38,000 people infected and more than 914 dead so far. New York City owns and operates a public cemetery on Hart Island, which has long been maintained by prison labor. The island was identified as a potential resting place for a surge of bodies in the event of a pandemic by a 2008 report put together by the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

Pay them minimum wage: $15 an hour in New York City. Read the rest

Microsoft Excel is still the lifeblood of data analysis and this training bundle breaks it all down

Apr 1, 2020


If you’re charting the fortunes of a business, one glance at the right columns can instantly detail that company’s health. If you want to see their current roster of customers, a spreadsheet can bring those clients into sharp focus.

Make no mistake -- the world of business is still dominated by the all-powerful spreadsheet. It’s still a defining business tool, one users can get to know inside and out with training like The 2020 Ultimate Microsoft Excel Certification Training Bundle.

The package collecting 10 courses jammed full with more than 40 hours of training unlocks everything a new Microsoft Excel user needs to start exploring, managing and analyzing data in this business industry staple.

First, a trio of courses guide first-timers through three levels of Excel knowledge, starting with basic terms and ideas before moving to templates, databases, and ranges, then the most advanced Excel tools like macros and creating your own Excel operations with VBA programming.

Meanwhile, another three courses dig into some of Excel’s most valuable functions, including productivity tools like keyboard shortcuts and data validation; data visualizations to create data-driven maps, templates, forms and other dynamic visuals; and pivot tables for grouping and displaying your data in every conceivable way.

Additional training covers powerful data modeling and business tools like Power Query and Data Analysis Expressions, how to use formulas and functions at all levels, and advanced tips for handling critical data processes like password protection and tracking changes.

From Excel newbies to hardcore veterans, there are tips and strategies here to help users of any level extract even more meaning from all their Excel explorations. Read the rest

Using colored paper, help a neighbor with "Isolation Communication"

Apr 1, 2020


Nova Scotia resident Glynis Mullen shared a simple, but brilliant, way that we can all employ to look out for our neighbors in real life, "Our neighbour is older and lives alone so I gave her three colour pieces of paper for her window which face our kitchen window. Green is for I’m OK, yellow (is) for need(ing) help with an errand, and red for emergency. I call it isolation communication."

Surrey Now-Leader:

She and her neighbour often communicate through her kitchen window and said the tri-colour paper system is a “really good visual comfort that everything is okay. When it’s yellow, I know I should call and we can arrange something.”

screengrab via Glynis Mullen/Facebook Read the rest

Mountain Goats have taken over a small Welsh town while humans are in quarantine

Apr 1, 2020


Not to be confused with the band the Mountain Goats (who should also take over more small Welsh towns), these hoofed mammals stormed the streets of Llandudno. While the 20,000 people in this seaside town stayed indoors to avoid the coronavirus, the goats saw an opportunity to reclaim the land as their own — to which I say, frolic, you glorious beasts, and may you continue to reign long after this is over.

Mountain goats of Great Orme hit Llandudno – in pictures [Peter Byrne / The Guardian] Read the rest

Take a virtual visit to Napa - with very real sips of wine

Apr 1, 2020


For wine lovers around the world, it's all about discovery. Once they get a taste for the grape, oenophiles are rarely satisfied with even the most carefully curated, go-to vintages. There's always a hunt for the next great pairing, the thrill of uncorking a bold new Tempranillo or sublime Moscato.

That feeling is a jones that winemakers in general - and wine clubs in particular - are happy to feed. But while online wine-of-the-month clubs have made discovering new wines a lot easier, many feel there's been something lost in terms of the personal touch; that sense of place and adventure that began many wine lovers' journey in the first place.

Enter Wine Access, a growing portal to the wine world that offers not just convenience but a more curated approach. At a time when a trip to Napa is out of the question, and wineries sit closed for the foreseeable future, why not bring the experience to your home?

The online wine shop is based in the heart of downtown Napa, and even within that insular wine hub, the founders have some deep connections. (Their Head of Wine, Vanessa Conlin, came to the job after heading up sales and marketing for several high-profile estates including Arietta Wines.) Wine Access leverages those connections to get their members access to some rare and award-winning picks like Estate Argyros' Assyrtiko Santorini, a Grecian white that elevates any shellfish meal to a life-changing experience.

But Wine Access doesn't randomly push these wines onto its subscribers, however, well-selected they may be. Read the rest

Cory Doctorow reads the author's note from his third Little Brother book, Attack Surface

Mar 31, 2020


From Cory's awesome Pluralistic website, a post about the latest episode of his podcast, in which he reads the author's note from Attack Surface, his third Little Brother book.

My latest podcast is a reading of the author's note from "Attack Surface" — the third Little Brother book, which comes out on Oct 12.

I recorded this for the audiobook edition of Attack Suface, which I've been recording all last week with Amber Benson and the Cassandra de Cuir from Skyboat Media.

If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the book — it's a scary time to have a book in the production pipeline!

Here's the MP3:

And here's the podcast feed:

Read the rest

Annalee Newitz looks at the Great Plague of London and 17th century social distancing

Mar 31, 2020


Annalee Newitz has a piece in The New York Times about the "Great Plague" of London (1665-1666)--the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England--which ended up taking the lives of almost a quarter of the city's population.

A lot of English people believed 1666 would be the year of the apocalypse. You can’t really blame them. In late spring 1665, bubonic plague began to eat away at London’s population. By fall, roughly 7,000 people were dying every week in the city. The plague lasted through most of 1666, ultimately killing about 100,000 people in London alone — and possibly as many as three-quarters of a million in England as a whole.


It felt like Armageddon. And yet it was also the beginning of a scientific renaissance in England, when doctors experimented with quarantines, sterilization and social distancing. For those of us living through these stay-at-home days of Covid-19, it’s useful to look back and see how much has changed — and how much hasn’t. Humanity has been guarding against plagues and surviving them for thousands of years, and we have managed to learn a lot along the way.


It was most likely thanks to his [King Charles II] interest in science that government representatives and doctors quickly used social distancing methods for containing the spread of bubonic plague. Charles II issued a formal order in 1666 that ordered a halt to all public gatherings, including funerals. Already, theaters had been shut down in London, and licensing curtailed for new pubs.

Read the rest

A virtual fireside chat with Erik Davis, Dennis McKenna, and the premiere of a never-released Terence McKenna lecture at Esalen Institute, 1989

Mar 31, 2020


Boing Boing pal Erik Davis will be joining Dennis McKenna (Terence's brother) on April 3rd for an online screening and virtual chat centered on a previously unseen lecture that Terence McKenna delivered at Esalen Institute in 1989.

From Erik's monthly newsletter.

This Friday, at 5:30 PST, I will be participating in a TRIBUTE TO TERENCE MCKENNA hosted by Dennis McKenna and our mutual friends at Psychedelic Seminars. Terence died twenty years ago, and over the next few weekends, Dennis will be hanging out with some of T’s wonderful friends, like Eduardo Luna, Bruce Damer, and Rupert Sheldrake.

On Friday we will be streaming a recently discovered hour-long film of Terence shot at Esalen in 1989. After the showing, Dennis and I will have a chat—the first in-depth conversation we have had since the publication of High Weirdness.

You can sign-up for the screening and chat here. You can find more info on the whole series here.

And if you're looking for something provocative and mind-bending to read while you're cowering in your invisible zombie apocalypse hidey hole, check out Erik's wonderful new tome, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

[H/t Laurie Fox]

Image: Promotional art Read the rest

Bob Dylan releases his first original song in eight years

Mar 27, 2020


Yesterday Bob Dylan released his first original song in 8 years. "Murder Most Foul" is a 17-minute song about the assassination of President John Kennedy. Read the rest

Biden ad highlights Trump's disastrous mismanagement of coronavirus epidemic

Mar 27, 2020


holy shit this @JoeBiden ad is good.

— Florida Chris (@chrislongview) March 26, 2020

This Biden campaign ad needs no narration. Trump sinks himself. Read the rest

Coyotes on the streets of San Francisco

Mar 27, 2020


La espectacular imagen de un coyote sobre el puente Golden Gate, en San Francisco. La llegada de animales salvajes a las ciudades desiertas es un hecho #COVID2019 #QuedateEnTuCasa #COVID19 #LugaresyMás

— Lugares y Más (@_LugaresyMas) March 25, 2020

While coyotes are occasionally spotted in San Francisco's parks, the shelter-in-place mandate has seemingly made the beautiful animals more comfortable wandering around the mostly empty city. From SFGATE:

There has been an increase in coyotes in the city over recent years. In February KQED reported that they were thought to be recolonizing the places they used to inhabit abundantly after being nearly wiped out through poisoning and hunting from the '40s onwards. After years of zero sightings in San Francisco, a coyote was seen in the Presidio in 2002, thought to have been brought over from a trapper in the North Bay or possibly even making its way alone over the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then numbers have continued to rise.

Coyote on the streets of San Francisco during the coronavirus shelter in place order #mindblowing #wow

— manishkumar (@manishkumar457) March 23, 2020 Read the rest

Transworld Skate's 2003 documentary on street skating monster Natas Kaupas

Mar 27, 2020


Natas Kaupas is my favorite skater to watch. I never get tired of his just running the streets.

His wallie is also mind blowing.

I frequently check the Santa Monica Airlines site to see if they have any new, or retro, deck designs of his for sale. Read the rest

Russian gearheads make the quietest car exhaust using 9 mufflers

Mar 27, 2020


The Russian gearheads of Garage 54 outfitted a car with nine mufflers to almost entirely dampen the exhaust system. While you may not hear this Max Max mobile coming, it's still hard to miss.

Read the rest

Kubrick/Kraftwerk t-shirt

Mar 27, 2020


Years ago, Philip Anderson, founder of the great Cinefile Video store in Los Angeles, and designer Bob Bianchini created a genius line of t-shirts that combined the names of auteur directors with the iconic logos of excellent bands: Herzog/Danzig, Bunuel/Bahaus, etc. Today I just noticed this fantastic Stanley Kubrick shirt that references Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity album!

See them all at Cinemetal T-Shirts. Read the rest

Mayor: First U.S. teenager to die of Coronavirus was denied treatment because he didn't have health insurance

Mar 27, 2020


Matt Novak reports that the first teenager to die in the U.S. from Covid-19 coronavirus infection was uninsured and denied treatment at the urgent care clinic he tried to check into. They told him to go to another hospital; he went into cardiac arrest on the way.

A 17-year-old boy in Los Angeles County who became the first teen believed to have died from complications with covid-19 in the U.S. was denied treatment at an urgent care clinic because he didn’t have health insurance. ... “He didn’t have insurance, so they did not treat him,” [R. Rex] Parris said in a video posted to YouTube. The staff at the urgent care facility told the teen to try the emergency room at Antelope Valley (AV) Hospital, a public hospital in the area, according to the mayor.

Parris is the mayor of Lancaster, California. From the transcript of his remarks:

"The Friday before he died he was healthy. He was he was socializing with his friends. By Wednesday he was dead. He had gone to an urgent care for an HMO he didn't have insurance so they did not treat him and sent him to AV (Antelope Valley) hospital. En route to hospital he went into cardiac arrest. When he got to AV hospital they were able to revive him and keep him alive for about six hours but by the time he got there it was too late"

Read the rest

Build your own bagpipes out of a trash bag and record and learn to play in quarantine

Mar 27, 2020

Description: has some new instructions on how to build your own bagpipes, and all you need is:

1 Garbage Bag or large plastic bag 2 Recorders (or 2 PVC Recorders: 2 Pens (You can also use a decent sized straw or a piece of hose) Scissors Tape

It sounds a little ridiculous, but when you break it down, bagpipes are basically just a recorder with a drone with an attached airbag. As long as you're social distancing, you can imagine yourself standing atop the grassy peaks of the Highlands, where your DIY Garbage Bagpipes can be heard all across the land, undoubtedly pleasing your neighbors to no end.

I know what I'm doing this weekend.

How to Make Bagpipes Out of a Garbage Bag and Recorders []

Image: Public Domain via PxFuel Read the rest

These 20 headphone offers should help bring peace and quiet to the home office

Mar 27, 2020


Odds are, you picked your home as the best location to hang up your business outfits so you could relax and enjoy your off-hours in peace and comfort. Unfortunately, worlds are now colliding. In many cases, your home is now also your place of business. And trying to finish reports or make calls doesn’t always mesh with screaming kids, barking dogs, your neighbor’s leaf blower and the other sounds of suburbia.

If you can’t get away from the distractions, you might at least be able to pretend the distractions don’t exist with a solid pair of over-the-ear headphones to block out the outside world when you’re trying to focus.

From big-name brands like Sony and Sennheiser to boutique brands, we’ve assembled 20 headphone models geared for every type of shopper.

For the bargain hunter: Under $40

Sometimes, you just need a solid pair of headphones that work great on a limited budget. Thankfully, Sony is offering deals on open box items, which are usually just excess store inventory, all verified as still in new condition.

You’ll almost never find over-ear Sony headphones for under $20, but at almost half off, the Sony ZX110AP Extra Bass Headphones (Open Box) ($16.99; originally $29.99) are a steal. They sync to any smartphone to handle all listening or call making needs with punchy 1.38-inch dome drivers powering the music.

If you’re chasing a  deep, powerful bass experience, the Sony MDR-XB450AP Extra Bass Headphones (Open Box) ($29.99; originally $79.99) deliver with Bass Booster, which can focus your listening on thumping bass lines and put them front and center in your music. Read the rest

Plan to buy ventilators suspended because the Trump administration thinks it's a waste of money

Mar 27, 2020


The White House cut a deal with General Motors to manufacture 80,000 ventilators to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The New York Times reports that the Trump administration put off the announcement because it didn't like the price tag.

The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.

It's a war, we're told. With all our other wars, there's no limit to how much money is blasted into space, or burned making fighter jets that can't fly in the rain. But as congress passed a $2tn bailout, much of it for private corporations, another $1bn on life-saving medical equipment was sudden cause to worry about costs. Read the rest

Doc Pop is creating t-shirts with social distance/self-isolation messaging in black metal band logos

Mar 27, 2020


Our pal Doc Pop writes:

I've been working with artists on Fiverr to convert health advice messages into extreme metal band logos. I'm sharing the results on this Twitter thread.

I'm releasing some of my favorites on Threadless as shirts and sweaters. All the proceeds from the sales are being donated to workers at Mission bars and restaurants (via gofundme, online tip jars, or sending it directly to workers through venmo).

Read the rest

Mick Rock, titan of rock photography, explains some of his most iconic images on Instagram

Mar 27, 2020


More shut-in fun as legendary lensman, Mick Rock, goes through a collection of some of his most famous photographs and tells stories about them.

This incredible Bowie image, taken at Haddon Hall: “It was the light. It was unbelievable.”

View this post on Instagram

“It was the light. It was unbelievable.”

A post shared by Mick Rock (@therealmickrock) on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:00am PDT

Mötley Crüe: Dirty little buggers. So much fucking cocaine.

View this post on Instagram

Mick Rock at Home EP 1 : Motley Crue "Bubble Bath” - 1986 . Dirty little buggars. Where they needed to be! In a f💥ckin’ Mick Rock bubble bath. Hallelujah! #mickrockathome @motleycrue @thevinceneil @nikkisixxpixx @mr.mickmars @tommylee #thedirt #mickrockfilm #shot

A post shared by Mick Rock (@therealmickrock) on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:02am PDT

Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody cover): It's very hard to get away from this particular picture.

View this post on Instagram

If you missed my @morrisonhotelgallery live stream chat last week, here you go! I'll be posting never before seen photos and stories plus rare footage on my Instagram TV in the coming weeks, so be sure to check it out. xM

A post shared by Mick Rock (@therealmickrock) on Mar 22, 2020 at 12:12pm PDT

Image: Screengrab Read the rest

British Prime Minister tests positive for Coronavirus

Mar 27, 2020


Boris Johnson, Prime Mininister of the United Kingdom, today tested positive for Covid-19, the novel coronavirus that's so far infected 500,000 people and killed 25,000 of them.

In a tweet, Mr Johnson said: "Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus.

"Together we will beat this."

Embedded below is a video Boris from a few days ago, boasting that "I shook hands with everybody" to show the virus who's in charge.

Aged so well

— James Felton (@JimMFelton) March 27, 2020

Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.

I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.

Together we will beat this. #StayHomeSaveLives

— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020

Read the rest

A webcomic explainer on how the census deals with digital privacy

Mar 27, 2020


Journalist's Resource published this great comic by Josh Neufeld, explaining the basic concepts behind differential privacy, the data collection method used to prevent bad actors from de-anonymizing the information gleaned from the 2020 Census.

The original source includes some other great resources on differential privacy, but since the comic itself is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, we've re-posted it here in full.


A brief introduction to differential privacy: A data protection plan for the 2020 census [Josh Neufeld / Journalist's Resource] Read the rest

This tech-powered renter's and home insurance cuts through red tape fast

Mar 27, 2020


You probably have a lot of items in your home that you'd hate to lose to theft or damage. While certainly no one ever hopes to fall victim to a natural disaster or home invasion, you need to be prepared just in case it does happen. When it comes to choosing a reliable renters insurance, it might be worth looking outside the more traditional options. Like Lemonade, for example. This trending technology-driven insurance company has a primary goal of making the lives of both renters and homeowners easier (and headache-free).

How Lemonade is different

If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of submitting a typical insurance claim, you understand the frustration the process strikes up: endless back and forth between agents, a lot of fine print to decipher, and of course — the endless wait for the much-needed funds from your claim to process (if you even actually end up winning it). Lemonade wants to put an end to all that financial and emotional toil: its state-of-the-art service is intuitive, the customer service is impeccable, and best of all, your claims are processed in as little as three seconds.

Here's how Lemonade works: powered by AI technology, you can get set up with a customized insurance plan tailored to your individual needs. Just answer a few questions, and you'll be able to review a plan that you can further adjust — and you pay immediately for it (no paperwork or call wait times to deal with). Lemonade also works by a flat fee, with rental insurance starting as low as $5 a month and homeowners insurance available for $25 a month. Read the rest

U.S. now has most coronavirus cases in the world

Mar 26, 2020


Congratulations! The United States of America now has more coronavirus cases than any other country, at least as far as test results go. With 83,507 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Doom Board, we're leaving China (81,782) and Italy (80,589) in our wake. Read the rest

Skate legend Jay Adams was still going strong in 2013

Mar 26, 2020


Sadly, Adams passed away in 2014 of a heart attack while on vacation. Read the rest

Dystopian masterpieces: The Strugatski brothers' "Snail On The Slope"

Mar 26, 2020


An appropriate book for this time, Soviet-era dystopian fiction grandmasters Boris and Arkady Strugatski considered Snail On The Slope "the most perfect and the most valuable of their works."

Snail on The Slope is comprised of two separate storylines, taking place in and on the edge of The Forest. Together they paint a vivid picture of how modern society is not prepared for the future it is driving towards.

The Bureaucracy has established The Administration on the edge of The Forest. Peretz, a visiting philosopher enthralled with the idea of The Forest but unable to gain clearance to actually see it just wants to leave. Every day he is promised a ride back to civilization, but it never comes. Evicted from the hotel and with his visa revoked, Peretz is suddenly outside a system that doesn't even work when you are ensconced within.

Candide is a survivor of a crashed Administration helicopter in The Forest. Initially, he encounters villagers who appear to be current-ish era humans losing their technology, science, and civilization in a future where physics and biology are evolving faster than they are. Exploring The Forest even slightly more introduces him to new cultures he and the remnants of his humanity could not have predicted or prepared for.

I highly recommend Snail on the Slope.

The Snail on the Slope (Rediscovered Classics) Kindle Editionby Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Olena Bormashenko (Author, Translator) via Amazon Read the rest

Here are the 5 kinds of pandemic villains who are making things worse for the rest of us

Mar 26, 2020


Does anyone ever read the introductory paragraph preceding a listicle like this? I sure don't. I always skip straight to the numbered list. So without further ado, here are the 5 types of villains making the pandemic worse for everyone else:


People who are hostile to science, evangelical Christians, sociopaths, members of Trump's loyalty cult, social media toilet lickers, and those whose investment portfolios are under threat.

Credo: "Coronavirus is George Soros / Bill Gates / libtard-concocted fake news designed to hurt God Emperor Trump."


Bloviator / racist hatemonger Rush Limbaugh: "The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” Disgraced failed senate candidate Roy Moore: "Businesses are closed, our economy is destroyed and churches are closed by tyrants who pander fear in the place of faith in God and our U S Constitution" Unfairly photo-shopped Jerry Falwell Jr: “Shame on the media for trying to fan [coronavirus] up and destroy the American economy. They’re willing to destroy the economy just to hurt Trump.” Former Ms. Nevada State 2019 Katie Williams: "I just went to a crowded Red Robin and I'm 30. It was delicious, and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I'll do what I want." Attorney Scott A. McMillan: "The fundamental problem is whether we are going to tank the entire economy to save 2.5% of the population which is (1) generally expensive to maintain, and (2) not productive."


People who buy up vast amounts of toilet paper, particle masks, disinfectant wipes, and food, either out of fear or to seize an opportunity to profit through price gouging. Read the rest

The Harlem Globetrotters' Fred "Curly" Neal, RIP

Mar 26, 2020


The legendary Fred "Curly" Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters died this morning. He was 77. I remember the first time I saw the Globetrotters as a kid in the late 1970s. I was disappointed when the team was introduced and Curly was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly, one of the players tore off another's afro wig and we realized it was Curly in disguise! From ESPN:

"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions."

Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, talk shows, television shows and even cartoons that included the team's own animated series [first episode below].

Fred “Curly” Neal – the Harlem Globetrotters icon known worldwide for his trademark shaved head and charismatic smile – passed away this morning in his home outside of Houston at the age of 77.

— Harlem Globetrotters (@Globies) March 26, 2020

Read the rest

'Thank you all in emergency for saving my wife's life,' man tells coronavirus-fighting nurses

Mar 26, 2020


“All the feels,” said the New Jersey nurse who snapped this photograph. “I love my job!”

Nurse Allison Swendsen said this man knew he was not allowed to enter the emergency room at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

But he still wanted to show his gratitude to the medical workers who were saving his wife from coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Nurse Allie works for a hospital owned by Atlantic Health, and they desperately need donations of masks and gloves (PPE). Here's how to help.

This photo deserves a Pulitzer. Ty @allie211 & @AtlanticHealth & every health provider around the world! @NBCNewYork #coronavirus #COVID19

— Brian Thompson (@brian4NY) March 26, 2020

All the feels... I love my job! @TheEllenShow

— Allison S. (@allie211) March 26, 2020

I did- I cried with him through the window

— Allison S. (@allie211) March 26, 2020

Nurse Allison Swendsen said this man knew he couldn't come inside the ER at Morristown Medical Center but he still wanted to show gratitude to the staff for saving his wife's life.

— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) March 26, 2020

Had to share... taken at Morristown Medical Center near my hometown in New Jersey. There is still so much love and strength out there. This gratitude is BIG Jersey energy. 😭😍💛 @NJGov @GovMurphy

— Carolyn Blackburne (@cblackburne) March 25, 2020

Personal Protective Equipment (#PPE) needed. There is a great demand for: N95 Masks and Similar, Eye Protectors, Sterile Gowns, Surgical Gloves, Regular Masks.

Read the rest

Grocery store throws away $35K of food after woman purposefully coughs on it

Mar 26, 2020


A woman thought it would be good fun to enter a Pennsylvania grocery store and cough on produce, meat, and other fresh food. As a result, the store threw all the food (worth $35,000) she came in contact with away.

From NBC News:

[Gerrity's supermarket co-owner Joe] Fasula said his staff "did the best they could to get the woman out of the store as fast as possible" and get police on the scene. He added that the local district attorney's office said it will pursue charges against the woman.

The Hanover Township Police Department confirmed in a statement that it is investigating the incident and that charges would be filed against the suspect, who underwent a mental health evaluation.

Image: Facebook Read the rest

Mexicans want crackdown on coronavirus-carrying American border crossers

Mar 26, 2020


My, how the tables have turned.

Many Americans are relocating from their homes to far-flung places to escape the coronavirus outbreak.

This, public health officials tell us, only worsens the outbreak -- they can carry the virus without any symptoms.

A growing number of people in Mexico want their government to crack down on the reportedly growing number of American citizens who are fleeing south to escape Trump's colossal mismanagement of the worsening U.S. outbreak.

Customs and Border Protection quietly requested 1,540 military personnel to assist with border enforcement, citing migrants' "potential to spread infectious disease" per DHS memo leaked to me.

1,000 troops would go to the Canadian border:

— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) March 26, 2020

From BBC News:

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday. They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to "stay at home".Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000.

The border is supposed to be closed to all except "essential" business, but protesters said there has been little enforcement and no testing by authorities.

The blockade was led by members of a Sonora-based group, Health and Life, who called for medical testing to be done on anyone who crosses from the US into Mexico.

Jose Luis Hernandez, a group member, told the Arizona Republic: "There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic.

Read the rest

In coronavirus shutdown, Britain will pay self-employed people 80% of average monthly profit

Mar 26, 2020


Wouldn't it be amazing if the United States did this?

Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday all self-employed citizens will receive a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits as part of the government’s coronavirus response plan.

From Reuters:

“The government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years up to 2,500 pounds per month,” Sunak said at the government’s daily news conference.

“It will be open to anyone with trading profits up to 50,000 pounds,” he added.

Read the rest

Lytepop Electrolyte Infused Popcorn is an organic, low-calorie, gluten-free and tasty trea

Mar 26, 2020


Stuck at home? Us too. And all anyone can think about is food.

Stuffing your face for hours on end is definitely not a good way to stay healthy right now, but if you're going to do it anyway (let's be real—your original stash is already gone), why not improve what you're snacking on?

No, we're not saying to munch on baby carrots and call yourself satisfied. Instead, drop the guilt but none of the enjoyment and snack on this electrolyte-infused popcorn.

An organic, low-calorie, gluten-free and tasty treat, lytepop has more fiber and fewer calories (just 70!) per 14g serving than Smartfood popcorn, these portion-controlled bags are the key to balancing your nutrition routine while you're spending a heck of a lot of time doing a heck of a lot of not much.

Popcorn, in general, is a great snack. Because it's a whole-grain food, it's naturally high in several important nutrients and helps boost heart health. And because of its fiber content, you get digestive health benefits along with the bonus of feeling fuller, which is super helpful for bridging the hunger gap between meals and for keeping you from way overdoing it on snack calories.

This lytepop version is made with a superior kernel variety that produces larger, fluffier pops with exceptional taste, so you'll still get that same snacking joy. The added electrolytes provide the body essential minerals that aid in hydrating to help prevent fatigue and muscle cramping, which will you do some good whether you're conference calling from your couch or you're still committed to your fitness routine (high five to you, btw). Read the rest

Canada not okay with Trump sending ~1,000 troops to Canada border

Mar 26, 2020


Canada is not super cool with plans by impeached U.S. president Donald Trump to send a thousand (maybe fewer) U.S. troops to the U.S.-Canada border. Trump says militarizing the border is good because he's worried things will become so desperate in the U.S. with the pandemic, Americans will flee north to escape the oncoming coronavirus hellscape.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump's plan is unnecessary because it makes no sense as a response to the coronavirus outbreak, and that it would damage relations between the two countries.

From Reuters:

Trump is expected to send fewer than 1,000 troops to the Canadian border, two U.S. government officials told Reuters. They would help enforce the ban on non-essential crossings due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the officials said.

It would be “an entirely unnecessary step that we would view as damaging to our relationship,” Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at a news conference. She said she had first heard about plans to deploy troops “a couple of days ago”, and said Canada had made its position clear to various members of the U.S. administration.

Earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also discouraged militarizing the border. “Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Trudeau said. “We have been in discussions with the United States on this,” he told a news conference, without giving details.

Read more: Canada calls Trump plan to deploy troops at border unnecessary and damaging

Canada says it is strongly opposed to the US putting troops on the border

Read the rest

Harvard Business Review talks to David Kessler about "anticipatory grief" in the face of a global pandemic

Mar 26, 2020


In an interview on Harvard Business Review, Scott Berinato talks with David Kessler, the "world's foremost authority on grief," and author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. Kessler has also worked in a three-hospital system in LA for three years and served on their biohazards team.

You said we’re feeling more than one kind of grief?

Yes, we’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.

What can individuals do to manage all this grief?

Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world.

Read the rest

Trump to rank coronavirus risk of U.S. counties, tells governors they can decide to relax COVID-19 restrictions

Mar 26, 2020


White House plans to label counties across America as "high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk"

Cirque du Soleil launches online portal for viewing shows, explores bankruptcy in coronavirus shutdown: Reuters

Mar 26, 2020


Cirque du Soleil just launched 'CirqueConnect,' where you can view shows -- it's especially great for kids stuck indoors during the pandemic shutdown.

All of the company's live shows are canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, and they are exploring financial options that include bankruptcy, reports Reuters.

Las Vegas casinos and resorts, including the one that hosts Cirque's shows, are all shut down.

So many people are out of work in America. It's so awful.

From Reuters:

The famed Montreal-based circus company, largely known for its regular shows in Las Vegas venues, had to temporarily lay off most of its staff after social distancing measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus nixed its performances.

Cirque du Soleil is working with restructuring advisers to address a cash crunch and its roughly $900 million in debt, the sources said on Thursday.

Creditors are also in talks with advisers as they prepare for possible negotiations with the company, the sources said.


Cirque just launched a new digital content hub called CirqueConnect that lets you watch a stream of past performances.

The first stream will premier on Friday, March 27, at noon PST, featuring a 60-minute special of the shows "KURIOS - Cabinet of Curiosities," "O" and "LUZIA."

Our Cirque du Soleil shows offer an escape from everyday life through delight and whimsy. Announcing #CirqueConnect, your home for Cirque du Soleil content: exercise the #CirqueWay, learn new makeup techniques, dive into VR, or entertain your kids.

Read the rest

Two Tesla employees test positive for coronavirus, and are recovering from home: Reports

Mar 26, 2020


Elon Musk previously mocked 'coronavirus panic' as 'dumb.'

Hackers say they breached Russian contractor, got details on IoT hacking project for Russia spy agency

Mar 21, 2020


• 'Fronton' is the FSB's IoT botnet project

Coronavirus: UK will pay 80% of lost wages for those laid off due to COVID-19 outbreak

Mar 21, 2020


'For the first time in our history, the government is going to step in and help pay people's wages,' Rishi Sunak announces

The UK government will pay up to 80% of wages for workers who are at risk of being laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic, the chancellor has announced.

The United States is not doing anything like this, or discussing anything like this.

Why isn't the purportedly richest and most powerful and most awesomest country in the world, ours, doing the same -- or something close -- for the millions of suddenly jobless workers? Oh yeah, a corporate tax cut instead. And a single thousand-dollar check, or something. Thanks, GOP Senate.

From the UK Independent:

Any employer in the country will be able to apply to HMRC for payments of up to £2,500 per worker per month - just above the median UK income - Rishi Sunak said on Friday. The unprecedented move means the government will guarantee a proportion of the salaries of millions of workers, if employers keep them on their payrolls rather than laying them off.

The scheme will be open for three months initially but will be extended if required, the chancellor said, before laying out a raft of additional measures designed to support businesses and jobs. Grants will be available for "as many jobs as necessary" he said before also announcing £1bn of support for renters, tax relief for the self-employed and increases in universal credit payments.

It came as pubs, bars, restaurants and leisure centres shut down in the latest intensification of social distancing measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Read the rest

Hank Hill will not be kicking anyone's ass today

Mar 21, 2020


— Mike Judge (@MikeJudge) March 20, 2020

Mike Judge, creator of the show, posted this reminder of the need for social distancing to limit the speed of the spread of coronavirus.


Read the rest

Britain's sewers blocked by toilet paper alternatives

Mar 21, 2020


Britain's ancient, fatberg-infested sewers are already choked to the grates thanks to irresponsible flushings during the coronavirus crisis. People running out of (or hoarding) toilet paper are instead using paper towels, kitchen napkins, wet wipes, newsprint and other materials that won't break down. Northumbrian Water posted this handsome image of the random trash locals are shoving into the system, and told them to cut it out.

The company said it understood people were "only improvising" but the consequences could be "devastating" to homes and the environment.

Head of wastewater networks Simon Cyhanko said they should use the bin.

"We understand some people affected by the limited toilet roll availability may have no choice but to use alternative products," he said.

The company also posted the following photo, which I presume is of the cleanest toilet in Berwick and the ideal that Northumbrian Water hopes all its customers maintain forthwith.

Read the rest

Twitter gives Elon Musk a pass on coronavirus disinformation tweets

Mar 21, 2020


Elon Musk is a huge asshole. COVID-19 has made him more so.

Four US senators write Jeff Bezos to ask how Amazon protects workers from COVID-19

Mar 21, 2020


Four senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, have written a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask what measures are being taken to protect warehouse workers from COVID-19. The coronavirus outbreak that causes this deadly disease has now infected more than 20,000 people throughout America.

“The senators sent the letter two days after the first US-based Amazon warehouse worker tested positive for COVID-19,” reports Jay Peters at The Verge:

The group of senators is led by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and includes Sanders and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Any failure of Amazon to keep its workers safe does not just put their employees at risk, it puts the entire country at risk,” the group said in the letter. The senators are also asking Amazon to provide paid sick leave and time-and-a-half hazard pay, among other financial and health protections.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel,” the letter says. “That means that Americans who are taking every precaution, staying home and practicing social distancing, might risk getting infected with COVID-19 because of Amazon’s decision to prioritize efficiency and profits over the safety and well-being of its workforce.”

The letter also discussed reports of troubling conditions at Amazon warehouses, such as how Amazon warehouse managers have held regular stand-up meetings with staff, which likely put employees closer than the CDC-recommended six feet of distance away from one another, and a lack of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

Read the rest

Save over 20% on Living DNA one of the most advanced DNA test kits around

Mar 21, 2020


For many, the results of a basic DNA test done by one of the major genealogy companies will satisfy their curiosity. Those findings give users the chance to see where they’re from, maybe discover basic health markers they should know and possibly learn about a 4th or 5th cousin or two.  And that’s usually as far as many users need to go.

However, some users are looking for even more precise reading of their genes for an ultra-detailed picture of their family’s origins. When finding out about your genealogical ethnic percentages just isn’t enough, you may want to step up to a more comprehensive DNA analysis from a company like Living DNA.

Devised through a collaboration of more than 100 scientists, researchers and genetic experts, Living DNA touts their tests as the “most advanced DNA test” around -- and when a company promises to trace your roots back 80,000 years, that’s a tough claim to refute.

With one of their specialist ancestry tests, Living DNA zeroes in on you, spanning over 150 regions across the globe to trace your most likely lineage from your ancestors’ migration from Africa thousands of years ago right up to the present time.

And by the present time, we mean the past 500 years, which includes sub-regional breakdowns to present all the extra detail on you available.

Delivered through an intuitive interactive online platform, you can go deep on every aspect of your history. The 3-in-1 test not only allows you to trace your own direct ancestry back at least 10 generations but also get a complete look at full bloodlines dating back centuries on both maternal and paternal sides of your family. Read the rest

While you’re stuck at home, here are a few ways to remain a rock star on the job

Mar 21, 2020


If you've recently faced a major shift in where you work — as in, from an actual office to your home — you're probably in need of a little assistance to help you navigate that transition more smoothly. Or, maybe you’ve always worked from home, and now the rest of the world is catching up to how you normally live.

No matter which camp you’re in, we’re all in this together. You’re home now — so better make the best of it. The business world may have slowed down, but it never stops entirely, which means you’ve got to stay on top of your work obligations.

You’re a pro. You’ll get it done. But to help, we pulled together 15 apps and other digital helpers that can keep you focused even when you aren’t in front of your office keyboard. And to further incentivize, you can take an extra 15 percent off your already discounted total by adding SPRINGSAVE15 at checkout. Hunker down and dig in.

Computer aids

Everything starts with a clean, tidy desktop, so with WorkspacePro Multiple App Launcher for Mac ($6.79 after discount; originally $9.99), you’ll have every needed app and file just a click away. Workspace Pro lets you regroup app, customize their position, and even launch or close a whole collection of macOS apps all with a single button press for a streamlined, efficient desktop.

If your problem is your browser, with bookmarks saved in different places on different devices, a Qlearly Premium lifetime subscription ($16.99 Read the rest

Prusa Research develops 3D-printable face shield in three days

Mar 21, 2020


Last week, I reported on Czech 3D printer company, Prusa Research, converting over some of their manufacturing capability to producing hand sanitizer. Now, the company has, within three days of prototyping, created a 3D printable face shield.

Josef Prusa writes:

We were notified on Facebook that doctors are in great need of face shields and that there is already a great face shield design available online. We took it as a starting point and decided that we would adjust it for easier and faster 3D printing – e.g. there shouldn’t be any supports required and we should fit as many of them onto a single print sheet as possible. So we started working on it immediately. After all, it is very important to keep the guys, who will take care of us in the darkest times, as healthy as possible. These shields will help protect their eyes and face from coughing and sneezing of their patients.

In three days, we were able to go through dozens of prototypes, two verifications with the Czech Ministry of Health and we even met our minister of health Adam Vojtech. Today we are excited to share with you that we have started prototype production and the first units just went to the hospital for field testing and verification. I want to thank Martin Havrda from the University Hospital Vinohrady in Prague for taking the time to meet us. And also, when we have this design verified, we will move to design protective goggles.

Read the rest

High schoolers planning virtual proms

Mar 21, 2020


With schools closed during this COVID-19 situation, and with no real end in sight, some high school students are planning to take their prom celebrations online.


And while schools in Los Angeles are only shut down for two weeks so far, students at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) are looking to technology for social distancing-friendly ways to celebrate the end of the school year with their friends.

LACES seniors Zack Monterosso and Colin Wire and junior Wakie Haque tell TIME that they’re currently planning to host a virtual party on the video conferencing service Zoom, dubbed a “Zoom rager,” as a test run for virtual prom... Struthers, Ohio, Jessica Ludovici, a senior at Struthers High School, tells TIME that she’s planning to host prom in her living room while FaceTiming her friends.

“We’re all going to do a huge group FaceTime. I’ll put on music and we’ll go in the expensive dresses and tuxes that we already bought to get ready for prom,” she says. “I tweeted and was just like, ‘This is what’s going to happen. It’s going to be in my living room, you guys can send me a song for the playlist and that will be your ticket. You can invite whoever, I don’t really care because we’re all just going to be on a group FaceTime.'”

photo by hundrednorth/Flickr Read the rest

Who needs super powers when you have Kid Congo Powers?

Mar 20, 2020


Through the DC arts and music scene, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Kid Congo Powers, legendary guitarist for The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and his own Pink Monkey Birds. Kid is as kind, generous, and down-to-earth, as he is ridiculously talented.

Given his talent and artistic pedigree, it's a shame that he doesn't get the level of respect and exposure that he deserves. So, it's always heartening to see when he does get a little love. Here is a wonderful KC Powers tribute and set from XRAY FM in Portland, OR. The set nicely covers the arc of Kid's career and includes tracks from his various guitar stints and solo work.

Kid Congo also stars in I AM RAY, a special episode of the currently-running HORSE HEAD: SEASON ZERO. Horse Head is a unique and strange web-based film project by award-winning DC filmmaker, Rob Parrish. The series mixes science fiction, dreamy, Lynchian high-weirdness, and queer aesthetics.

Rob writes:

The special film is called “I AM RAY: Fair Warning Motion Picture #1 (A Horse Head Short Film).” In the film, Horse Head (a body/gender-fluid, super-intelligent, extra-dimensional alien-super-being) is captured and imprisoned by Ray, a super-being with personal space issues. Ray puts Horse Head inside of a stuffed Elf as a form of torture. After a decade of torment, Ray gives Horse Head a mental breather by allowing for the creation of a simulation of charismatic rock star Kid Congo Powers.

Read the rest

Fraudster Jim Bakker is hawking "medicinal seeds"

Mar 20, 2020


Jim Bakker is now selling "medicinal seed" bundles from which you can grow plants to "make your own medicine."

— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 19, 2020

I have very little sympathy for anyone who believes anything convicted fraudster* Jim Bakker says on his infomercials. A couple of weeks ago the New York DA sent Bakker a cease-and-desists to force to him to stop selling colloidal silver as a coronavirus cure. Now Bakker is selling "medicinal seed" bundles to grow plants so you can "make your own medicine." And it cost $99!

*From Wikipedia: "Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina, a jury found him guilty on all 24 counts. Judge Robert Daniel Potter sentenced Bakker to 45 years in federal prison and imposed a $500,000 fine."

  Read the rest

Spoken Word with Electronics: "Paul Krassner Recalls the Day JFK Died" and "Earth, Take Four"

Mar 20, 2020


Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds


Welcome, fellow occupant of Quarantonia! A few months back I posted the first installment of Spoken Word with Electronics, an audio history series. The first episode was a tribute to David Berman of the Silver Jews/Purple Mountains. Since then I've been finishing up a lot of the separate selections from interviews and other recorded vocals.

Here's Spoken Word with Electronics Issue #2, with a lot more to come.

Think of each installment as a two-sided record, a Side A and a Side B.

SIDE A: Paul Krassner recalls the day JFK was shot. Audio comes from a comprehensive interview I did with Paul in 2017, mixed in with a lot of electronic accompaniment. The printed piece ended up in The American Bystander, Issue #4. There was a huge amount of information recorded that couldn't fit in the printed piece, though, and these audio pieces will provide a much denser portrait of P.K. - Often going into territory he rarely discussed.

Future installments will have five or six other focused memories of Paul's on a variety of wonderful topics. Stay tuned for some fun stuff.

SIDE B: Our flip-side track of the album is an apocalyptic carnival ride called "Earth, Take Four" — I'd completed this a few months back but it feels timely. Watch out for the volcanoes!

The wind in "Earth, Take Four" is a combination of different colors of noise. Read the rest

FDA gives go-ahead to Maryland bio-firm to accept orders on their COVID-19 Rapid Antibody Test Kit

Mar 20, 2020


From BioSpace via Alberto Gaitán:

ROCKVILLE, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- 20/20 BioResponse, a business unit of 20/20 GeneSystems, Inc. announced today that it will begin taking orders for its CoronaCheck  COVID-19 Rapid Antibody Test Kit. (The test is intended to identify persons having an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.) The company’s action follows discussions with officials from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) this week after the agency’s March 16 Guidance issued to “expand the number and variety of diagnostic tests” as the “severity and scope of the current COVID-19 situation around the globe necessitates greater testing capacity than is currently available.”

Alberto comments:

"Low cost" 15-minute COVID-19 antibody test has been cleared for use in the USA by the FDA. "Rapid Antibody Test Generates Results in under 15 minutes from Blood Drop without Laboratory Equipment or Personnel"

Standard error is ±10%, which is kinda high (i.e., you're positive but get a negative result and think you're okay so you do stuff you shouldn't, and the opposite case is also problematic).

Read the rest on BioSpace.

[Thanks, Alberto!]

Image: Photo by CDC on Unsplash Read the rest

"Metropolis Kid" will make you dance like Superboy

Mar 20, 2020


Metropolis Kid by Model Decoy

I've known Doron Monk Flake and Ari Sadowitz since high school, and it's been an honor to watch their musical prowess grow and grow and grow. Their current project, Model Decoy, pumps out Prince-like post-punk jams, full of sick rock riffs and soaring jazzy vocals that bring gravitas to clever lyrics that are mostly about their favorite nerdy comic books and movies.

Their newest single, "Metropolis Kid," is a perfect example of this. It makes you want to tap your feet as you croon along with Superboy (being young Kon-El, the misfit clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, not that cranky bastard Superboy-Prime

You can find the band's back catalog on Spotify, but they just released "Metropolis Kid" and two other new songs exclusively on Bandcamp, which is waiving their fee today (March 20) so that struggling bands can get 100% of the proceeds of their music during this quarantine.

(If you're feeling generous, you can buy some tunes from my own band, the Roland High Life, too — we're not as funky as Model Decoy, but we do have some good banger about Spider-Man and, uhh, conspiracy theorists.)

Model Decoy on Bandcamp

Image: Pat Loika / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

NY now has ~8,000 cases of Coronavirus, about half of all cases in the US

Mar 20, 2020


The number of coronavirus cases in New York sharply increased to nearly 8,000 cases on Friday, a result of increased testing and the continuing uncontrolled spread of the virus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19.

This is 10 times higher than what was reported earlier in the week.

New York now has half of all coronavirus cases in the US.

In a startlingly quick ascent, New York was closing in on 8,000 positive tests, about 1/2 the cases in the country. The # was 10x higher than what was reported earlier in the week. The sharp increase is thrusting the medical system toward a crisis point.

— Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) March 20, 2020

“The healthcare system is already getting overrun. Hospitals are running out of ventilators. Doctors are reusing masks,” says the New York Times' Brian Rosenthal.


The sharp increase is thrusting the medical system toward a crisis point, officials said.

In the Bronx, doctors at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center say they have only a few remaining ventilators for patients who need them to breathe. In Brooklyn, doctors at Kings County Hospital Center say they are so low on supplies that they are reusing masks for up to a week, slathering them with hand sanitizer between shifts.

Some of the jump in New York’s cases can be traced to significantly increased testing, which the state began this week. But the escalation, and the response, could offer other states a glimpse of what might be in store if the virus continues to spread.

Read the rest

The subreddit r/coronavirus is a pretty great COVID-19 news source with 1.2M+ members

Mar 20, 2020


About a million of the people who are members of the Reddit discussion group r/coronavirus joined in just the past week. The subreddit is getting some recognition now as a pretty reliably good source of community-moderated news and information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Probably helps that the subreddit's team of volunteer content moderators include people like Emerson Boggs, 25, a Ph.D. student and virologist at the University of Pittsburgh.

Other members of that volunteer mod group include “researchers of infectious diseases, virologists, computer scientists, doctors and nurses, spending hours policing the more than 50,000 daily comments posted by the community for misinformation, trolls and off-topic political discussions,” report Olivia Solon and April Glaser for NBC News:

The coronavirus community is now the third-most active subreddit, according to Redditlist, a website that tracks Reddit, and one of the fastest growing subreddits ever.

Every day, Boggs and the other moderators work through a queue of thousands of comments and posts that have been flagged for review. They coordinate via the messaging platform Discord to ensure they aren't duplicating work or to settle any disagreements. Some spend time developing tools to automate or improve their workflow, inviting high-profile scientists and doctors to participate in "Ask Me Anything" Q&A sessions and recruiting more moderators. NBC News' medical correspondent, Dr. John Torres recently participated in one.

The moderators play to their strengths. In Boggs' case, that's making sure posts submitted by users are scientifically accurate. This involves checking the sources of information and deleting posts if they rely on flimsy or poorly interpreted evidence and adding labels to posts linking to scientific papers that aren't peer reviewed.

Read the rest

Talking Adventure Games with Mark Yohalem

Mar 20, 2020


As a game design hobbyist, Mark Yohalem has worked both on his own projects and as an offsite senior or lead writer for BioWare, inXile Entertainment, TimeGate Studios, S2 Games, Nikitova Games, and Affinix Software. As co-founder of Wormwood Studios with two friends (artist Victor Pflug and programmer James Spanos) in 2010, he developed Primordia, a classical point-and-click adventure game that has sold about a quarter million copies and was, for years, the highest-rated adventure game on Steam. The same trio is currently working on Strangeland, another adventure game. Mark is also developing Fallen Gods, a role-playing game inspired by the Icelandic sagas and folklore, the board game Barbarian Prince, and game books like Lone Wolf. By profession, Mark is an attorney. In 2018, he was recognized in the Daily Journal as one of the top 40 lawyers under the age of 40 in California.

This interview features conversation about the aesthetics of point-and-click adventure games, classic and modern adventure games, game writing and design, and ways in which stories connect with both learning and play.

Jeffery Klaehn: [Imagine] you’re addressing an audience comprised primarily of non-gamers, and your talk is entitled, “The aesthetics of classic point-and-click adventure games.”  You begin …

Mark Yohalem: The wonder of the classics is that they don’t just let us hear the voice of the past, they also allow us to listen with the ears of the past. We commune not only with those who created the art but also those who consumed it -- not just Beethoven but Beethoven’s audience. Read the rest

Netflix launches $100 million coronavirus relief fund to help jobless cast and crew

Mar 20, 2020


Additional $15M will go to third parties and nonprofits

Cat enjoys playing Super Mario

Mar 20, 2020


This cat sure appears to be having a fun time.

“I swear he can read,” says the cat's human, IMGURian @morelike.

Make sure to unmute!

I swear he can read... (with sound)

[via] Read the rest

'Resign!' 2 GOP senators should lose jobs for coronavirus stock jump, say critics

Mar 20, 2020


They told the public everything would be okay with the virus outbreak. Then they privately dumped stocks.

Over the past 24 hours, news has spread that various U.S. lawmakers received advance private briefings about the severity of an oncoming coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic -- then, they sold stocks before the public knew how bad it would get, and how the economy would suffer. Two of those lawmakers, both GOP senators, are now facing calls to resign, Reuters reports.

Richard Burr is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr sold up to $1.7 million worth of stock on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions after he told the public Trump's team would take care of the virus.

Fellow GOP senator Kelly Loeffler also sold millions of dollars in shares in the weeks after lawmakers were first briefed on the virus, according to public filings reported by ProPublica.

Read the original ProPublica reports:

Senator Dumped Up to $1.7 Million of Stock After Reassuring Public About Coronavirus Preparedness

The Senator Who Dumped His Stocks Before the Coronavirus Crash Has Asked Ethics Officials for a “Complete Review”

From Reuters today:

Media reports about Burr and Loeffler, who have denied wrongdoing, prompted calls for them to leave office if they were found to have broken the law from people as disparate as a progressive Democratic lawmaker and a conservative commentator.

As Intelligence Committee chairman, Burr has been receiving regular classified updates on the outbreak.

Burr made public comments in line with Republican President Donald Trump’s early assurances that the country could easily handle the situation.

Read the rest

Drew Friedman's amazing portrait of Jared Kushner for Netflix's "Dirty Money"

Mar 20, 2020


Drew Friedman says:

The Netflix documentary series Dirty Money, season two, debuted with a profile of Jared Kushner (titled “Slumlord Millionaire”) directed by Morgan Pehme and Dan DiMauro (who also made the Roger Stone documentary).

The filmmakers filmed me for the episode, sent cameras up to my my home studio to interview me about Kushner, (who I did 50 covers for back when he published the NY Observer), and also filmed me over a course of three days creating an illustration of Jared channeling Dorian Gray, with the exposed picture being his father-in-law).

A bit more on the genesis of the drawing: I had thought that Jared looked like the young, handsome, and emotionless actor, Hurd Hatfield, who played Dorian Gray in the 1946 MGM film version, and I was toying for awhile with the idea of drawing Jared Kushner posed as Dorian but couldn’t figure out a twist. One of the filmmakers suggested that Trump himself be the horrible visage seen in the aging painting hidden away in Dorian’s attic, perhaps an analogy to what his soul might someday evolve into. That clicked with me, thus the drawing.

Read the rest

Dow drops 900+ points in worst week since 2008. Thanks, COVID-19 and Trump!

Mar 20, 2020


Growing fear coronavirus will plunge U.S. and other economies into deep recessions

I interviewed Cory Doctorow for the Cool Tools Podcast

Mar 20, 2020


Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Cory for our Cool Tools podcast. He talked about his four favorite tools as well as his latest writing projects and various other topics. Find out more in the show notes. Read the rest

Become a master of Python programming with the help of this training bundle

Mar 20, 2020


You won’t find many Python programming fans who aren’t vocal Python programming fans. And after years of steadily rising up the list of the web’s most popular programming disciplines, the user-friendly language notched a major milestone earlier this year, tying with Java as the second-most-used language among coders.

So why the steady rise toward the deepest part of programmers’ hearts? It all comes back to the utility of Python and the key role that versatility has played in shaping some of the fastest expanding new fields in IT, particularly machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Obviously, rankings like this aren’t etched in stone, but it’s just another indicator that if Python coding isn’t already in your IT skill set, it should be. Right now, you can leap into the Python fray with an intensive crash course into it all with The Absolute Python Programming Certification Bundle.

This three-course collection is a sound introduction for anyone who’s never dealt with Python before, explaining all the basics before delving into more advanced areas that flesh out why it’s become such a coding heavyweight.

Introduction to Python Training starts by building that familiarity, explaining why the all-purpose language has become such a favorite in web and app development This beginner-centric training outlines how to get started with Python, its most popular uses and some of the language’s most central tools.

After understanding some of the math, flow controls, and file processing abilities of Python, the Python Data Analysis with NumPy and Pandas course expands that knowledge to see how significant Python libraries expand Python’s usefulness. Read the rest

Japanese spacecraft fired cannonball into asteroid

Mar 20, 2020


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft fired a copper cannonball into Ryugu, an 850 meter-wide near-Earth asteroid. The 2 kilogram "Small Carry-on Impactor," a bit larger than a tennis ball, hit the asteroid at approximately 7,200 kilometers/hour and blew out a 14.5 meter wide crater with a depth of .6 meters. After a year of analysis, scientists have reported their analysis of the plume created by the impact and properties of the crater. From

The number and size of craters that pockmark asteroids such as Ryugu can help scientists estimate the age and properties of asteroid surfaces. These analyses are based on models of how such craters form, and data from artificial impacts like that on Ryugu can help test those models...

Features of the artificial crater and the plume suggested that the growth of a crater was limited mostly by the asteroid's gravity and not by the strength of the space rock's surface. This, in turn, suggested that Ryugu has a relatively weak surface, one only about as strong as loose sand, which is consistent with recent findings that Ryugu is made of porous, fragile material.

These new findings suggest that Ryugu's surface is about 8.9 million years old, while other models suggested that the asteroid's surface might be up to about 158 million years old. All in all, while Ryugu is made of materials up to 4.6 billion years old, the asteroid might have coalesced from the remains of other broken-apart asteroids only about 10 million years ago, Arakawa said.

Read the rest

Cool magic trick: The Perpetual Puzzle

Mar 20, 2020


Tenyo is a Japanese magic trick company that's been around since 1960. They are well known for making clever props. (My friend Richard Kaufman, who often writes for Boing Boing, wrote a 1,400-page two-volume set about the company, called Tenyoism)

Here's a Tenyo puzzle trick called The Perpetual Puzzle (It's available on Amazon). You start by showing a rectangle made from 5 pieces. The rectangle fits snugly in a black plastic frame. Next, you show a sixth piece and combine it to the other five to make a larger rectangle. This rectangle also fits perfectly inside the frame. Finally, you show an even larger seventh piece, add it to the other six to form a rectangle. It, too, fits into the frame. How is it done? (If you know, please don't reveal the secret in the comments.) Read the rest

These are the first words ever heard in a feature film

Mar 20, 2020


“Wait a minute... Wait a minute... you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”

In 1927, Al Jolson spoke those words in The Jazz Singer, marking the end of the silent film age. (Of course, that film also featured Jolson in blackface which unfortunately was common at the time.) From The Guardian:

Just a year before (The Jazz Singer), Warners had made Don Juan, starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor, which didn’t exactly set the Hudson river on fire, despite sound effects like the clash of swords or chairs being thrown – all to the accompaniment of the New York Philharmonic.

The reason Sam Warner, the technical genius of the brothers, thought that adding a human voice would make all the difference was a series of shorts brought in as a late addition to the Don Juan programme. Giovanni Martinelli, principal tenor at the Metropolitan Opera, sang Pagliacci. The leader of the Philharmonic played his violin and Al Jolson sang When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along).

They were a secret success. The New York press hardly noticed, but audiences did – and loved them. What would be known as “the talkies” were coming out of the fairground.

It was Sam Warner’s idea to team up with the Western Electric company to buy its Vitaphone synchronising system. He had the faith that few others possessed, but sadly died of a mastoid infection of the brain the day before the hugely successful premiere of The Jazz Singer.

(via r/TodayILearned) Read the rest

This robot plays the marimba and writes and sings its own songs

Mar 20, 2020


Shimon, the robotic maestro from Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology, is releasing an album and going on tour. To write lyrics, the robot employs deep learning combined with semantic knowledge and rhyme and rhythm. Shimon has also had a complete facelift giving it a much more expressive mug for singing. In IEEE Spectrum, Evan Ackerman interviewed Shimon's creators, professor Gil Weinberg and PhD student Richard Savery:

IEEE Spectrum: What makes Shimon’s music fundamentally different from music that could have been written by a human?

Richard Savery: Shimon’s musical knowledge is drawn from training on huge datasets of lyrics, around 20,000 prog rock songs and another 20,000 jazz songs. With this level of data Shimon is able to draw on far more sources of inspiration than than a human would ever be able to. At a fundamental level Shimon is able to take in huge amounts of new material very rapidly, so within a day it can change from focusing on jazz lyrics, to hip hop to prog rock, or a hybrid combination of them all.

How much human adjustment is involved in developing coherent melodies and lyrics with Shimon?

Savery: Just like working with a human collaborator, there’s many different ways Shimon can interact. Shimon can perform a range of musical tasks from composing a full song by itself or just playing a part composed by a human. For the new album we focused on human-robot collaboration so every song has some elements that were created by a human and some by Shimon.

Read the rest

Good nonfiction: "Cowhand - The Story of a Working Cowboy" (1953)

Mar 20, 2020


I bought this used paperback copy of Cowhand: The Story of a Working Cowboy, by Fred Gipson, many years ago at a used bookstore. I finally got around to reading it. Here is my book report.

The author was born in 1908 on a farm in Texas. He went to the University of Texas at Austin and became a journalist. Gipson's best known for his novel Ole Yeller (1956) which won a Newbery prize and was adapted to a Disney movie of the same name. A few years before Ole Yeller, he wrote Cowhand - The Story of a Working Cowboy and it focuses on the life of his friend Ed "Fat" Alford, born in 1901 to rent-farming parents in Oklahoma. Here's how Gipson describes his friend Fat:

By Hollywood standards, Fat is a far cry from being a typical cowhand. He never shot a man in his life. He never chased a rustler across the Rio Grande. He never rescued a beautiful girl from ruthless bandits and rode off into the sunset with his arm about her waist. He never carved a cattle empire out of a "howling wilderness."

The truth is, he doesn't even look like a cowboy. He's too squat and heavy; he's too short-legged and bullnecked. He's so potbellied and yet so hipless that some consider it a minor miracle that his pants aren't forever slipping down to hang around his hocks. It is very doubtful that he could hire on as a Hollywood extra in the quickest of quickie Westerns.

Read the rest

These earplugs are engineered to save your hearing without messing with your music

Mar 17, 2020


There are few experiences that match the sheer raw power of being front and center for a huge rock concert. It can be exhilarating. But without sounding too much like your mom, it can also be far more dangerous than you realize.

Hearing damage often happens from exposure to prolonged loud noises over 85 decibels (dB). Rock concerts can hit 115 dB, depending on where you’re standing. And if you’ve ever come away from a show with that muffled ringing sound in your ears for a few hours or maybe even a few days after, that’s tinnitus. While it’s often temporary, it’s also auditory Russian roulette — because the effect can become permanent. And while we’re on the subject, exactly how high do you crank the music on those earbuds?

The World Health Organization estimates 1.1 billion 12 to 35-year-olds face irreversible hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud noise. You can avoid becoming a statistic with some foresight and protection like the Eartune Live U Universal Ear Plugs.

Eartunes are engineered to retain all the clarity of your music, just at levels about 20 decibels lower than the unfiltered sound. Their proprietary acoustic filters reduce the volume of the world around you, yet modulate the sound waves, maintaining the sound in the medium frequency spectrum while expertly filtering out high and low range noise and distortion that can damage the fine hairs of the ear.

In the event that fashion moves you more than preventing hearing loss, the Eartunes are actually so small and unobtrusive that others can hardly tell you’re wearing them. Read the rest

Attention shut-in chaos cultists: Chaosium releases "Call of Cthulhu The Coloring Book" as a free download

Mar 17, 2020


In an effort to stave off boredom during the great quarantine of 2020, our pals over at Chaosium have made their award-winning Call of Cthulhu The Coloring Book available as a free download.

They've also announced a Call of Cthulhu The Coloring Book coloring competition. Share your colored handiwork on social media with the hashtag #homewithchaosium and they'll reshare and will be giving away prizes to their favorite entries.

Images: Chaosium, Inc. Read the rest

Mister Jalopy offers a unique approach to local retailers staying open while maintaining social distance

Mar 16, 2020


Maker icon and Boing Boing friend, Mister Jalopy, is one of my all-time favorite outside-the-box thinkers. David Letterman used to be fond of saying: "He (or she) ain't hooked up right." He always meant it as a compliment -- someone who marched to their own drummer, someone unvarnished, someone who didn't succumb to habituated thinking. Mister Jalopy ain't hooked up right.

In this Instagram video, he announces that his store, Coco's Variety, LA's most idiosyncratic bike shop, will remain open where so many other stores are closing. They are going old-timey and setting up a counter in the entrance to the store. Customers will approach the counter, request what they want, and the staff will bring purchases to them. They will also still work on your bike (if you're willing to have it washed in disinfectant first).

It will be interesting to see what other retailers do creatively to remain open. This is an inspiring start.


View this post on Instagram


Coco’s is trying to keep the doors open to keep the wheels turning. Unprecedented times in which cycling becomes more important, not less so.

A post shared by Coco's Variety (@cocosvariety) on Mar 16, 2020 at 12:51pm PDT

Image: Screengrab Read the rest

The enduring beauty of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" and one of the greatest musical couplets ever written

Mar 16, 2020


Lithub has a wonderful piece on the classic Jimmy Webb composition, "Wichita Lineman," one of the most enduring pop songs ever written. Made famous by the late Glen Campbell, the author of piece describes the song as one that "defies the injustice of repetition."

And then, there's that amazing "I need you more than want you" couplet.

There is little ambiguity about the greatest couplet ever written. The punchline—the sucker punch—of “Wichita Lineman,” the line in the song that resonates so much, the line that contains one of the most exquisite romantic couplets in the history of song—“And I need you more than want you / and I want you for all time”—could be many people’s perfect summation of love, although some, including writer Michael Hann, think it’s something sadder and perhaps more profound. “It is need, more than want, that defines the narrator’s relationship; if they need their lover more than wanting them, then naturally they will want them for all time. The couplet encompasses the fear that those who have been in relationships do sometimes struggle with: good God, what happens to me if I am left alone?” Hann is certainly right when he says that it’s a heart-stopping line, and no matter how many hundreds of times you hear it, no matter what it means to you, it never loses its ability to shock and confound.

Read the rest here.

Here is Glen Campbell singing the track on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour in the late 60s. Read the rest

This 2013 movie about a viral pandemic is trending

Mar 16, 2020


The Flu (2013) is available as an Amazon Prime streaming movie.

From the YouTube description:

The Flu is the first ever South Korean disaster film about a viral pandemic. It has been garnering much attention after being voted first place in "Most Anticipated Film" survey conducted by Nate for August with a whopping 47%. The highly anticipated disaster film tells the story of panic, despair, and desperate struggle for survival of a hopeless city that has been quarantined and essentially left for dead after the outbreak of a deadly virus. With its realistic portrayal of the horror and chaos that follows a national scale disaster, "The Flu" may just be the film that will make history in the South Korean disaster film genre.

Read the rest

Police: Don't call 911 when you run out of toilet paper

Mar 16, 2020


In Oregon, the Newport Police Department posted a message on Facebook (pasted below) urging citizens not to dial 911 when they run out of toilet paper. The reason they posted this is because, yes, people have been they expect stupid people will be calling 911 after running out of toilet paper. (Here's their update that spurred the correction.)

image: GorillaSushi (CC BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

Launch a kid’s STEM career with a game console they can build themselves

Mar 16, 2020


As a parent, you likely start feeling a little guilty whenever you let your kid play video games for too long. Gaming is fun and most kids get completely enraptured, but you inevitably start thinking about all the more enriching and educational ways they could fill those hours spent rampaging through digital worlds and blasting enemies.

So how about a compromise? You’ll let them dig deep into cool games on a fun gaming console...but they have to build the whole thing first. And we don’t just mean plugging in controllers and making sure the AC cable is working.

The MAKERbuino Educational DIY Game Console is the perfect project for getting game-obsessed kids actually delving deeper into electronics and thinking about exactly how their games actually work. In fact, you may never find a more kid-friendly introduction to a STEM career than giving them the freedom to literally build their own gaming system.

Based on Arduino UNO electronics boards, this kit includes all the components and detailed instructions to help inquisitive youngsters or even curious oldsters assemble their very own working handheld gaming device with more than 30 preloaded games.

It does require some basic soldering and at least five hours to put together, so it’s best for kids who are tweens or older, but no kid will feel more rewarded than after they’ve actually constructed a gaming device all on their own.

Compatible with Arduino expansion modules and programmed in open-source Arduino IDE, the most popular programming environment for makers, the MAKERbuino is ultra-customizable. Read the rest

Trump signed his name to DOW chart when it artificially blipped up. Now look at it

Mar 16, 2020


The folks in Trump's loyalty cult were crowing with I-told-you-so glee when the stock market experienced a relatively puny uptick on Friday. Trump even added his signature to a misleadingly cropped chart of the short-lived rally and sent it to his most embarrassingly spittle-licking sycophants, like Fox News' Lou Dobbs, who could barely contain his excitement over the temporary blip.


At the end of Monday's trading day, the Dow had dropped nearly 3,000 points, making Trump's autographed rally look like statistical noise. Read the rest

Choir! Choir! Choir! to host online "Social Distan-Sing-Along!"

Mar 16, 2020


Get ready to sing. With thousands of other people. Alone at home. That's the idea behind the upcoming Choir! Choir! Choir! Facebook Live event, "Choir!ntine: EPIC Social Distan-Sing-Along!"

The experts have spoken and we’re seriously taking their advice that sticking close to home, and limiting exposure to other people will help reduce the spread of the corona virus. At the same time, it’s been sad to have to postpone gigs in Toronto and around the world. But just because we're now in a time of “social distancing”, doesn’t mean we can’t hang out, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do this Tuesday!

Presenting: "Choir!ntine" - An EPIC Social Distan-Sing-Along!

Starting at 8pm EST, DaBu will broadcast from their living room and everyone is invited to log on and sing with us. And just like our shows, we’ll hang out, share some laughs and hold our C!ommunity close. Whether you've ever come out to Choir! or not, you are invited to join us online.

Want to be part of it?

First, download the lyrics. You'll be belting out familiar songs like "Lean on Me," Bowie's "Space Oddity." and the Golden Girls' theme, "You've Got a Friend."

Second, head to the Choir! Choir! Choir! Facebook page on Tuesday, March 17 (8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific).

Third, SING YOUR LITTLE HEART OUT. (Again, home alone.)

This Tuesday from 8-9:30pm EST, you are invited to CHOIR!NTINE: AN EPIC SOCIAL DISTANCING SING-A-LONG


Download lyrics here:

Then join our Livestream Tuesday at 8pm!

Read the rest

WWE Smackdown without an audience is a like Beckett-esque absurdist theatre

Mar 16, 2020


Don't get me wrong — it's fun to be in the audience during a big, zany wrestling match, cheering on the drama both despite and to embrace the kayfabe. But this gloriously bizarre performance art satisfies a very different part of my brain.

  Read the rest

Tag yourself on this social distancing D&D alignment chart

Mar 16, 2020


My favorite thing about joke D&D alignment charts is that I am always, always Chaotic Good. I just can't avoid my nature, and everybody knows it.

View this post on Instagram

some friendly dos/donts

A post shared by Aiden :) (@aidenarata) on Mar 15, 2020 at 8:53pm PDT

Lawful Good: washing your hands, social distancing, and forwarding your mom's pandemic advice emails to your friends

Neutral Good: taking loong moody walks by yourself at weird hours of the day

Chaotic Good: having a facetime tinder hookup and venmoing your service industry friends what you would have spent at the bar

Lawful Neutral: writing a series of poems/personal essays on what "distance" means to you

True Neutral: putting aside your manuscript to watch all 543 episodes of chopped

Chaotic Neutral: adopting a lizard

Lawful Evil: hoarding hand sanitizer and toilet paper

Neutral Evil: exacerbating panic and yelling at people on the internet

Chaotic Evil: having the privilege and resources to be able to self-isolate and choosing not to because this is America and you feel fine

via Aiden Arata on Instagram

Top  image via Wikimedia Commons / CC 4.0 Read the rest

Professional sports bettors are desperate to capitalize on coronavirus, too

Mar 16, 2020


"Vegas Dave" Oancea is a bit of a celebrity bookie for sports betting; or at least, that's how he's been described by my friends who care about such things. But with so many leagues canceling or postponing games in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis — and in the wake of his own recent legal problems — Vegas Dave is particularly desperate to keep the cash flowing.

And that's why he's now offering serious bets on things like curling. Badminton. Cricket? Checkers. Even UNO! (Yes, really) If you're lucky, there could be some bets on spelling bees and hula-hooping, too.


— Dave Oancea (@itsvegasdave) March 13, 2020

Let’s f–king go. Forget about March Madness, forget about the NBA, forget about baseball being delayed for a couple of weeks. I’ve got the curling whale play of the day. I’ve been studying curling all fucking day. Also the $99 badminton package, $99 cricket package.


— Dave Oancea (@itsvegasdave) March 13, 2020

How the fuck do I do it? Curling whale winner. Badminton package cashes three parlays and the fucking cricket package? Perfect 3-0 clean sweep. Tomorrow, we got archery, checkers, and an UNO tournament. We’re also trying to get into the spelling bee contest, the over/under of every other sport in the world that’s still going on.

Read the rest

Korg and Moog have made their software synth apps free

Mar 16, 2020


With many people playing their part to flatten the COVID-19 case curve by staying home, Korg and Moog are doing their part to keep them occupied by giving away free versions of their synthesizer apps.

For a limited time Moog’s Minimoog Model D iOS app and Korg’s iKaossilator app for iOS and Android are free to download. I got them both and they are a lot of fun.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Stag beetle throws girlfriend out of tree

Mar 16, 2020


The BBC reports that a stag beetle threw his girlfriend from the top of a 25-meter tree. He is alleged to have assaulted number of other a male stag beetles earlier in the day before throwing his partner out of the tree. It's not clear whether or not the female survived the fall. Read the rest

Watch a Looney Tunes cartoon with Bugs and Daffy as drug addicts (1975)

Mar 16, 2020


Please enjoy the underground classic "Rabbit Habit" by Steve Peck, who writes:

This is an animated cartoon I produced myself in 1975 to show what Bugs, Daffy and Elmer would be doing in Central Park 12 years after WB stopped making Looney Tunes.....I showed it to Tex Avery in 1975 when he was 80 and he loved it and said "I wish I had a job to give you." Showed it to Chuck Jones. He was very conservative and did not like what I had done to his characters and did not offer me a job.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

First human trial for coronavirus vaccine begins

Mar 16, 2020


U.S. health officials confirmed on Monday the first human trial testing a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Read about the coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the NIH website.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, has been fast-tracking work with biotech company Moderna to develop a vaccine using the current strain of the new coronavirus, reports CNBC:

The trial is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, where COVID-19 cases have surged and authorities have banned mass gatherings. The early-stage, or phase 1, trial will test the vaccine on 45 males and non-pregnant females between the ages of 18 and 55, according to trial details on NIH’s website.

As I understand it, this first phase is about determining whether the drug causes harm to humans. Testing the safety of any new drug comes first.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, last week said that even in the best case scenario, a vaccine isn't likely for at least 12 to 18 months.

More from CNBC:

He said the potential vaccine by Moderna contains genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, that was produced in a lab. The mRNA is a genetic code that tells cells how to make a protein and was found in the outer coat of the new coronavirus, according to researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

Read the rest

Airlines want $50 Billion federal bailout for coronavirus

Mar 16, 2020


Major U.S. passenger and cargo airlines say they need more than $50 billion in federal bailout money as the coronavirus pandemic closes businesses and dramatically slows down air travel.

A lobbying group that represents 10 U.S. passenger and cargo airlines said Monday that in a worst-case scenario, the airlines will “run out of money completely sometime between June 30 and the end of the year.”

More from CNBC:

The aid, if received, would be the industry’s first broad bailout since the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It is also the clearest sign yet of the financial damage coronavirus and the draconian measures governments are taking to stop it are having on American businesses.

Airlines for America, which represents carriers including Delta, United, American, and Southwest, recommended passenger carriers immediately receive up to $25 billion in grants to compensate for reduced liquidity and in the medium-term $25 billion in low- or zero-interest loans.

More: US airlines seek more than $50 billion in government assistance as coronavirus roils business Read the rest

Greenland and Antarctica melting 6x faster than in 1990s: NASA

Mar 16, 2020


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena today reports new evidence of accelerating glacier melt in Antarctica.

“Observations from 11 satellite missions monitoring the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have revealed that the regions are losing ice six times faster than they were in the 1990s,” reads the NASA JPL announcement.

“If the current melting trend continues, the regions will be on track to match the "worst-case" scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of an extra 6.7 inches (17 centimeters) of sea level rise by 2100.”

The two regions have lost 6.4 trillion tons of ice in three decades; unabated, this rate of melting could cause flooding that affects hundreds of millions of people by 2100.

More from the news announcement:

The findings, published online March 12 in the journal Nature from an international team of 89 polar scientists from 50 organizations, are the most comprehensive assessment to date of the changing ice sheets. The Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise team combined 26 surveys to calculate changes in the mass of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets between 1992 and 2018.

The assessment was supported by NASA and the European Space Agency. The surveys used measurements from satellites including NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite and the joint NASA-German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. Andrew Shepherd at the University of Leeds in England and Erik Ivins at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California led the study.

The team calculated that the two ice sheets together lost 81 billion tons per year in the 1990s, compared with 475 billion tons of ice per year in the 2010's - a sixfold increase.

Read the rest

Trump to states: 'Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves'

Mar 16, 2020


The complete abandonment of any leadership whatsoever. That's what we are witnessing in Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic that is now killing Americans at an exponentially increasing rate.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Donald Trump told state governors on an emergency pandemic conference call.

Yes. He said that.

From the NYT's live coverage:

President Trump told a group of governors Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to help people diagnosed with coronavirus.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.

“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

The suggestion surprised some of the governors, who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak and are increasingly looking to the federal government for help with equipment, personnel and financial aid.

Mr. Trump used much of the call to repeat the same upbeat rhetoric he has offered in public, assuring the governors: “We’re going to get it remedied and hopefully very quickly.”

I mean, wow.

Wow. Read the rest

WHO on Coronavirus: 'Test, test, test. Test every suspected case'

Mar 16, 2020


“We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test. Test every suspected case.”

“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don't know who is infected,” The World Health Organization's Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a coronavirus briefing on Monday, as the pandemic continues to shut down cities around the world.

Here is the full briefing at the W.H.O's website.

"We have seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and cancelling events and other gatherings,” said Tedros, “But we haven't seen enough escalation in testing, isolation, and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the COVID-19 response.”

“The most effective way to prevent infections & save lives is breaking the chains of COVID-19 transmission. To do that, you must test and isolate.”


WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 16 March 2020

16 March 2020

Good afternoon everyone.

In the past week, we have seen a rapid escalation of cases of COVID-19.

More cases and deaths have now been reported in the rest of the world than in China.

We have also seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and cancelling sporting events and other gatherings.

But we have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing – which is the backbone of the response.

Social distancing measures can help to reduce transmission and enable health systems to cope.

Handwashing and coughing into your elbow can reduce the risk for yourself and others.

Read the rest

Physicist Freeman Dyson's alien megastructure legacy

Mar 16, 2020


In 1960 during the early days of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, who died last month, wrote an article titled "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation" for the journal Science. He posited that "if extraterrestrial intelligent beings exist and have reached a high level of technical development, one by-product of their energy metabolism is likely to be the large-scale conversion of starlight into far-infrared radiation." One way to achieve that, he suggested, was by building an "artificial biosphere surrounding one star." And with that seed, the science fiction (science fact?) idea of an alien megastructure has grown, even making its way onto an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From Elizabeth Howell's article in

One of Dyson's daughters sent the physicist a videotape of a 1987 episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" called "Relics," Dyson said. The plot follows a distress call heard by the famous USS Enterprise starship; fans of the series may recall this as a crossover episode with "Star Trek: The Original Series" star Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (played by James Doohan).

The crew warps in space to the source of the call and discovers an immense Dyson sphere — which is indeed portrayed as a solid spherical object — surrounding a star. If we were to place this sphere in our own solar system, it would be so large that it would extend almost as far as the orbit of Venus, according to "Star Trek" fan site Memory Alpha.

Read the rest

A neuroscientist's take on synthetic telepathy, electrified ESP, and mind control

Mar 16, 2020


Telepathy. ESP. The ability to communicate thoughts, feelings, or experiences without using our known sensory channels is a timeless superpower. Soon, advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and computer science will make some kinds of synthetic telepathy possible. Meanwhile though, methods to treat brain disorders through magnetic stimulation of brain circuits could enable crude (or eventually not-so-crude) mind control. National Institutes of Health neuroscientist R. Douglas Fields -- author of Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better -- wrote a brief essay for Scientific American surveying the present, past, and possible future of this strange field. From Scientific American:

Neuroscientist Marcel Just and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University are using fMRI brain imaging to decipher what a person is thinking. By using machine learning to analyze complex patterns of activity in a person’s brain when they think of a specific number or object, read a sentence, experience a particular emotion or learn a new type of information, the researchers can read minds and know the person’s specific thoughts and emotions. “Nothing is more private than a thought,” Just says, but that privacy is no longer sacrosanct....

...The prospect of “mind control” frightens many, and brain stimulation to modify behavior and treat mental illness has a sordid history. In the 1970s neuropsychologist Robert Heath at Tulane University inserted electrodes into a homosexual man’s brain to “cure” him of his homosexual nature by stimulating his brain’s pleasure center.

Read the rest

Louis Vuitton converting perfume production lines to hand sanitizer manufacturing

Mar 16, 2020


French conglomerate LVMH -- owner of Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Christian Dior, and other luxury brands -- is converting its perfume production lines to crank out hand sanitizer. And no, they won't be selling high ticket hand sanitizer bottles in their boutiques.

"These gels will be delivered free of charge to the health authorities," the company announced. "LVMH will continue to honour this commitment for as long as necessary, in connection with the French health authorities."


image: Louis Vuitton 200ML Travel Case Read the rest

Horse blows bubbles

Mar 16, 2020


In this charming video, a hoss enjoys dipping its head beneath the surface of a pond and blowing bubbles like a kid with a milkshake.

If you would like to enjoy another clip like this, turn to page G5P_oZFjrb. If you would like this clip ruined for you, turn to page lHytjEj7B9g. Read the rest

Nighthawks in quarantine

Mar 16, 2020


In 2014, reddit user u/damburglar posted this abandoned recreation of Edward Hopper's 1942 painting Nighthawks. That it's a plainly-rendered 3D model seems to make it even creepier. [via]

Here's one from Maxim Leyzerovich:

— Maxim Leyzerovich (@round) March 16, 2020

Read the rest

Half-marathon goes ahead in Britain despite coronavirus pandemic

Mar 16, 2020


Thousands of runners participated in a half-marathon in Bath, England this weekend despite warnings from public health experts that it could expose runners to the novel coronavirus. Organizers of the event, which usually attracts crowds of more than 10,000, refused to cancel it despite hundreds of cases in the U.K. and a growing tally of the dead.

Bath's MP Wera Hobhouse was among thousands condemning the decision to go ahead.

She called for the event to be cancelled saying protecting "the most vulnerable in our city from a further spread of the infection must be the priority". On the Bath half marathon's Facebook page some 1,800 people left comments, with a large number against the decision to go ahead.

The newspapers over in the UK are presenting the pandemic as if it were The Blitz, an opportunity to show Wartime Spirit and to enact War Measures and indulge the immortal British boomer fantasy that life there was never better than when the Germans were making the rubble bounce.

So we end up with 10,000 people in a slow-moving crowd spending hours grinding their bodies to gasping exhaustion during a viral pandemic, all to show 2019-nCoV What For. Read the rest

Become a master of Raspberry Pi and Arduino with the help of this training

Mar 16, 2020


When it comes to DIY electronics, there are few brand names that carry more weight these days than Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. Over the past 15 years, Arduino has grown from a tool to teach electronics to the uninitiated into an environment of startling innovation where creative minds fashion their own Arduino slow-drip coffee makers, fully functioning LEGO Wall-Es and even a $100, open-source VR headset to serve as your own budget Oculus Rift.

Meanwhile, the single-board microcomputer known as the Raspberry Pi has been a creative hotbed of its own, prompting its devotees to use the Pi as the brain behind a home weather station, your own knockoff Gameboy, or your own version of Tony Stark’s JARVIS personal assistant.

With The 2020 Complete Raspberry Pi and Arduino A-Z Hero Maker Bundle, even users who have never dabbled in homespun electronics before can learn how to harness these two sneaky powerful tools to start crafting cool stuff you only dreamed about before.

And there’s plenty to catch up on here, including nine courses, two ebooks and almost 100 hours of instruction that’ll have you unleashing the mad inventor inside all of us.

Over six courses, you’ll unlock all the secrets of Arduino as you start building a whole mess of fun, mind-expanding projects. After two introductory courses give you a firm understanding of what a simple Arduino Uno circuit board can do from simple buttons to LEDs to environmental sensors, training dives in on how to create some truly amazing Arduino projects. Read the rest

Frightened fliers rejoice! Sacralize your seating with faux stained glass windows

Mar 16, 2020


Artist and entrepreneurial prankster Danielle Baskin is at it again. This time, Danielle has created a line of cling-on faux stained glass windows that you can slap up on any commercial plane window for inflight prayer and reflection. "Now, isn't that special?," sayeth the Church Lady.

She writes on Facebook:

Made faux stained glass for plane windows so you can pray during your domestic flights.

This is a flexible film that clings to glass. There’s no adhesive, so you can easily take this on and off your window to improve your in-flight prayer experience.

It also protects against any germs that might be on windows! It's infinitely washable with soap and water or can be sprayed with disinfectant.

Rolls up easily for travel.

The windows are available in five sizes (to fit your aircraft of choice) at her Magic Store .

See more coverage of Danielle's work on Boing Boing.

Images used with permission of the artist Read the rest

New Blackmouth record, featuring Jarboe (formerly of Swans)

Mar 16, 2020


Multi-talented musician, artist, and graphic designer, John Bergin, has just released a new Blackmouth recording. Blackmouth is John, his long-time collaborator, Brett Smith, and Jarboe (formerly of Swans).

The trio's first album was released in 1999. The current record is a deluxe edition featuring 26 tracks and includes the 1999 recording. Here is the first video from the album.

Previous coverage of John Bergin on Boing Boing:

John Bergin goes pop-art post-apocalypse in new Wednesday comic Moving Paintings From Inside

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Enjoy this marble race

Mar 16, 2020


I ended up supporting a particular marble, emotionally investing in its success, then being sickeningly disappointed upon its inevitable defeat, by a different marble. They call this "Marbula One" racing, with a marble rally series to go with it. Read the rest

Learn how to master Final Cut Pro X for just $15

Mar 12, 2020


The Social Network. X-Men Origins: Wolverine. 300. No Country for Old Men.

Other than the fact that these were all giant movies with either massive critical or box office appeal, these films don’t appear to have a lot in common on the surface.

But once you scratch that surface, you’ll find that all four, as well as hundreds of other major motion pictures, were entirely cut and edited using Final Cut Pro. In fact, two of those films actually received Academy Awards for their editing work (we’ll let you try to figure out which ones).

Final Cut Pro has been and remains a Hollywood staple for everyone from students to award-winning professionals. Now, we don’t expect you to win an Oscar for your work, but The Complete Final Cut Pro X Course - Beginner to Intermediate can give even first-time editors the experience needed to use this vastly power software to its ultimate potential.

The training starts from the absolute beginning as new editors get familiar with importing footage, timelines, hotkeys, and all the basics to start assembling a video. However, it won’t take long before new users are skilled enough to start adding transitions, basic visual effects, music and a host of other artistic touches to start making your film look and feel like a professional production.

From there, learners can begin to really elevate their game, using some of the same advanced Final Cut Pro X functions that those multi-million dollar blockbusters use. Training in color grading, exposures, masks and even how to build your own key-frame animation can help you replicate virtually any tone you want to create for your video. Read the rest

U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning in hospital recovering from suicide attempt

Mar 12, 2020


Whistleblower Chelsea Manning attempted suicide while in jail today, say her lawyers. She is recovering in a hospital

From Axios:

Manning is still scheduled to appear on Friday for a previously calendared hearing, her lawyers said. "Judge Anthony Trenga will rule on a motion to terminate the civil contempt sanctions stemming from her May 2019 refusal to give testimony before a grand jury investigating the publication of her 2010 disclosures," [the statement] added. "In spite of those sanctions — which have so far included over a year of so-called 'coercive' incarceration and nearly half a million dollars in threatened fines — she remains unwavering in her refusal to participate in a secret grand jury process that she sees as highly susceptible to abuse. ... Ms. Manning has previously indicated that she will not betray her principles, even at risk of grave harm to herself."

After serving seven years in prison for providing documents to Wikileaks, Manning was released in 2017 by then President Obama. In May she was jailed again for refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena. Read the rest

Enjoy this ASMR video "Testing You For Coronavirus"

Mar 12, 2020


Frissons and solid information about coronavirus at the same time. What more could you ask for? Read the rest

An attempt was made to fix a bent steering wheel on an ATV

Mar 12, 2020


The fellers who posted this video wrote: "The 4 wheeler was rolled over the day previous and the steering shaft had bent. In the video, we were trying to straighten the steering shaft by pulling it straight with the tree. The throttle ended up sticking and the steering shaft bent a little too far..."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Church of Cypress says it is impossible for sacramental wine and bread to transmit diseases

Mar 12, 2020


If you think it is possible for consecrated bread or wine to give you an infectious disease, you are a blasphemer, according to the Church of Cyprus, which issued the following announcement:

"Regarding the offering of the Holy Communion, the position of the Church is known. The Holy Communion does not symbolize but it is the Body and Blood of Christ. It would be blasphemous to think that Christ’s Body and Blood could transmit any disease or virus."

That settles the matter!

[via Orthodox Times] Read the rest

Owner of a 7-Eleven arrested for selling homemade hand sanitizer that burned kids' skin

Mar 11, 2020


Manisha Bharade (47) of New Jersey was arrested this week on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and deceptive business practices. Bharade, owner of a 7-Eleven, is accused of selling a homemade spray sanitizer  from her convenience store that caused skin burns on four children who used her product.

From RLS Media:

The ensuing investigation revealed that Bharade had mixed commercially available foaming sanitizer, which was not meant for resale, with water and packaged it in aftermarket bottles to be sold at the 7-Eleven on Rivervale Road.

An apparent chemical reaction from the mixture caused the burns. Fourteen bottles in total were sold at the 7- 11.Police say five bottles were turned over to the River Vale Police Department and nine bottles are unaccounted for at this time.

Further analysis will be performed to determine the exact make-up of the chemical mixture.

Read the rest

Spotify ran ads for evil clown film "It" on childrens' lullaby playlist

Mar 11, 2020


Spotify and Warner Bros are in trouble over ads for It: Chapter Two that played between songs on a childrens' lullaby playlist curated by the streaming audio company.

The advert for the film It: Chapter Two featured the voice of killer clown Pennywise talking and giggling over scary music. ... "For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you. Oh, I missed you," he says, before a siren, drums and other discordant sound effects are played.

The regulator said that it believed this was likely to distress young audiences.

The BBC reports that Spotify claimed that the playlist wasn't for children, despite including "Children's Music", music "For Children" and "English Nursery Tunes". Read the rest

Get over 100 hours of expert cybersecurity training for just $50

Mar 11, 2020


Another day, another data breach affecting thousands, another giant international company apologizing and wondering publicly about what went wrong with their cybersecurity.

The latest victim: Virgin Media, who saw someone illegally access user information for about 900,000 Virgin customers. There was no evidence of hacking or compromised financial information here, but every company fears to leave vital customer data vulnerable to theft.

Cybersecurity experts make six-figure salaries for a reason. They are the front line and best defense against the ultimate betrayal of customer loyalty and they’re paid handsomely for their talents. You can start constructing your own career in IT protection with The Cybersecurity Expert Certification Training Bundle. 

This collection of four prep courses is training with a purpose. Across almost four dozen lectures, this training in all aspects of cybersecurity and web-connected systems is geared toward earning you five prime IT security certifications. Those qualifications can be a major resume item to help get you employed as a well-paid cyber defense expert.

Your certification training starts with the responsibilities of a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), entrusted with monitoring and guiding enterprise IT and doing effective security audits to guarantee a well-protected network.

Meanwhile, Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) training elevates those skills as you dig deeper into the management, design, and oversight of an entire interconnected IT system. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification covers all areas of IT security, while the PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) training hones in on identifying and eliminating project risk. Read the rest

This tiny skull trapped in amber belongs to the smallest dinosaur ever discovered

Mar 11, 2020


The tiny skull, about the size of a thumbnail, trapped in amber may belong to the smallest dinosaur scientists have ever discovered. Paleontologist Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences spotted the skull in a 99-million-year-old chunk of amber from northern Myanmar. From the New York Times:

[Xing, Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor, and their colleagues] called the bird Oculudentavis khaungraae — a name that comes from the Latin words for eye, teeth and bird. The dinosaur’s skull is only 14.25 millimeters, or a little more than half an inch, from its beak to the end of its skull. The animal had bulbous eyes that looked out from the sides of its head, rather than straight ahead like the eyes of an owl or a human.

“We were able to show that this skull is even smaller than that of a bee hummingbird, which is the smallest dinosaur of all time — also the smallest bird,” O’Connor said. “This is a tiny skull, and it’s just preserved absolutely pristinely"....

Most scientists now believe that birds are theropods, dinosaurs of a group that included tyrannosaurus and spinosaurus, but that birds were on their own evolutionary branch from a common ancestor. Paleontologists have long assumed that as birds evolved away from other dinosaurs, having teeth was a trait that was in the process of disappearing altogether. “But this specimen strongly shows that evolution’s really going in all different directions,” Dr. O’Connor said.

More at Nature: "Tiny bird fossil might be the world’s smallest dinosaur"

image: Lida Xing Read the rest

How to start a fire with your bare hands

Mar 11, 2020


Washington College anthropologist Bill Schindler who specializes in "primitive technologies":

"Even though you may never find yourself in a survival situation, I firmly believe that learning and practicing these primitive skills are an essential part of connecting to your past, your environment, and everything it means to be human."

(Wired) Read the rest

Delirium is real and a huge risk for aging patients

Mar 11, 2020


With unfortunate frequency, elderly patients go to the hospital for a surgery or other treatment and quickly become confused, bewildered, and sometimes agitated or totally disoriented. This is called delirium and while it apparently affects between 10 and 50 percent of patients over 65, it's only recently been studied in depth. Sharon K. Inouye, director of Harvard's Aging Brain Center, is leading the charge to understand delirium, its impact on patients' longterm cognitive faculties, and how to prevent it. From Scientific American:

[Delirium] is the phenomenon, sadly familiar to many families, of Grandpa never being quite the same after an operation...

The consequences of delirium, if it lasts more than a few days and especially if it is followed by cognitive decline, are enormous. “It’s a house of cards,” Inouye says. “Patients start getting treated with medications for agitation or disruptive behavior, and those medications lead to complications. Or they are very sedated, and that leads to complications.” Delirious patients may choke on their food or pills and die of aspiration pneumonia. They may wind up in bed for long periods and suffer fatal blood clots. Once up, they are prone to falling. It’s a downward spiral and a costly one. Delirium adds more than $183 billion a year to U.S. health care costs, outstripping congestive heart failure.

Fortunately, basic steps can be taken to prevent delirium or shorten its course, such as making sure the patient is well hydrated, has access to eyeglasses and hearing aids if he or she uses them, gets out of bed and walks as soon as possible, has adequate sleep, and is socially engaged by hospital staff and loved ones.

Read the rest

Watch Mel Brooks' wonderfully funny and very short animated film "The Critic" (1963)

Mar 11, 2020


In 1962, Mel Brooks attended a screening of an abstract animation by Norman McLaren. He overheard an older fellow chattering and complaining through the whole thing. Inspired, Brooks and director Ernest Pintoff created this wonderful short film, "The Critic." Amazingly, Brooks improvised the narration while watching the animation. The film won a 1964 Academy Award in the category of Short Subjects (Cartoon). Read the rest

Watch a suspected thief instantly discouraged by a fun DIY crime deterrent

Mar 11, 2020


Katie and Josh Camarena of Portervilla, California came up an excellent theft deterrent during a rash of crime in their neighborhood. From LADbible:

In a post on Facebook, she explained: "We have been having issues with people coming into our neighborhood to try and steal tools out of vehicles (And anything else they can get their hands on).

"Our flood light didn't seem to scare them off, so we decided to have a little fun with a motion activated sprinkler that has an impressive amount of pressure." Read the rest

New Mexico woman stole car for joyride and claimed she was Beyoncé, police say

Mar 11, 2020


A woman New Mexico faces criminal charges after police say she stole a car and then attempted to pass herself off as Beyoncé Knowles.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Surena Henry was arrested last Saturday in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when a police officer noticed her vehicle resembled one that recently had been reported stolen.

Cops say she also told them she didn’t stop driving when she saw the emergency lights because she didn’t feel like it. Relatable.

From Las Cruces local TV news station KTSM:

According to court documents obtained by KTSM, the victim contacted LCPD around 7 a.m. reporting his gold 2000 Saturn 4-door car was missing from his apartment complex. About two hours later, an officer spotted the car being driven by a woman and tried to pull her over.

The driver of the Saturn refused to stop and was eventually found by a different LCPD officer in the 1400 block of Alamo Street.

When the officer asked the woman to identify herself, and she said her name was Beyoncé Knowles. Unfortunately for Henry, the arresting officer previously interacted with Henry and knew her true identity.

Henry eventually admitted to finding the keys inside the Saturn and taking it on a joyride, according to court documents.

Via the Associated Press. Read the rest

Keep coronavirus info classified, Trump White House told federal health agency

Mar 11, 2020


COVID19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has killed ~30 people in the U.S. and infected over 1,000

'Wanted: Unknown Cow.' Florida cow on the loose sought by authorities

Mar 11, 2020


The Pembroke Pines Police Department tweeted:

“Wanted: Unknown Cow.”

“Description: Female cow. Brown with a white head. Faster than it looks. Talented fence jumper. Enjoys pools.”

They weren't joking. A mysterious brown cow is now the loose in South Florida. She is neither armed nor dangerous, but police have been trying to corral her for weeks. She's all, DON'T FENCE ME IN.

The roaming mooster has been seen near I-75 in southern Broward County, and has somehow managed not to be captured since late January.

Excerpt from AP:

Police also say the cow is guilty of “MOOving violations, uddering false checks, and fleeing and eluding police.” These are direct quotes.

Moore at The Associated Press. Read the rest

Coronavirus outbreak is a pandemic, WHO says

Mar 11, 2020


"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death"-@DrTedros

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

The shift to “pandemic” means that slowing coronavirus spread is the goal, not stopping it-- we are beyond any hope of containment, despite Donald Trump's lies.

From today's WHO briefing with Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, video embedded below:

Media briefing on #COVID19 with @DrTedros. #coronavirus

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020

"In the past two weeks, the number of cases of #COVID19 outside 🇨🇳 has increased 13-fold & the number of affected countries has tripled.

There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, & 4,291 people have lost their lives"-@DrTedros #coronavirus

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020

"Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals.

In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of #COVID19 cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher"-@DrTedros #coronavirus

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020

"WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction"-@DrTedros #COVID19

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020


"We have therefore made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic"-@DrTedros #coronavirus

Read the rest

Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault

Mar 11, 2020


Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was today sentenced to 23 years in prison after he was found guilty of committing a criminal sex act in the first degree involving one woman victim, and rape in the third degree involving another.

About Weinstein's sentence, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said, "We thank the court for imposing a sentence that puts sexual predators and abusive partners in all segments of society on notice."

The silence breakers on Weinstein's 23-year sentence: "Harvey Weinstein's legacy will always be that he's a convicted rapist. He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused."

Weinstein's lawyer, who previously said she was never sexually assaulted “because I would never put myself in that position,” calls her client's 23-year prison sentence "obnoxious" and "obscene."

Harvey Weinstein's lawyer Donna Rotunno says the sentence handed down to him in New York is "obscene" and "obnoxious"

— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) March 11, 2020

Breaking News: Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for sex crimes, a stunning downfall for a Hollywood mogul whose abuse of women ignited #MeToo

— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 11, 2020

BREAKING: Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for his February conviction of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.

The following is a statement from 24 #silencebreakers in response:

— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) March 11, 2020

Attorney Arthur Aidala said Harvey Weinstein will likely spend his time at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York, which he said has a hospital

Read the rest

How the United States re-branded as "America"

Mar 11, 2020


NPR's Throughline had a great recent episode about what's essentially the branding of the American Empire. Host Rund Abdelfatah speaks with Daniel Immerwahr, a history professor at Northwestern University, who the changing ways that America has identified itself over the years.

I always found it kind of strange to say "America" (even though I do it), as it also refers to two entire continents. And I've similarly found it interesting when I hear Europeans refer to the country as "the States." But Immerwahr took things a step further, and traced the history of self-reference through American presidential speeches. Prior to 1898 — the time of our rarely-mentioned war with Spain, which saw American expansionism grow beyond the continental borders and into the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and so on — it was rare to hear a President refer to the country as "America." It could be the Republic, or the Union, or the United States, sometimes even Columbia or Freedonia (like "land of the free people," yes that was apparently a real thing at one time).

Immerwahr smartly connects this to curiosity to the country's intrinsic relationship (and subsequent, neverending identity crises) with imperialism. We were founded on conquered land, and though we aspired to be a union of independent nation-states with open borders and shared currency, that never actually happened. The "free" people of the United States distinguished themselves from the black slaves who tilled their fields, and the various Native American nations with whom they sometimes shared the land. Read the rest

Iggy Pop on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1979

Mar 11, 2020


Every so often I have to return to this wonderful performance of the Chairman of the Bored on the 4/24/1979 episode of Old Grey Whistle Test. The band (Iggy, Scott Thurston, Glen Matlock, Jackie Clark, Klaus Kruger) played four tracks that night: The Fortune Teller, New Values, I'm Bored, and I Wanna Be Your Dog.

An iconic Iggy moment with an amazing band line-up from the New Values period.

Bonus track: Here's Iggy last week, doing a tribute duet to Serge Gainsbourg with Jane Birkin (Gainsbourg's former collaborator and partner) on The Tonight Show. What can we say, the Iguana has serious staying power and range.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Putin just demonstrated how a leader can constitutionally lock himself into power forever

Mar 11, 2020


Donald Trump loves to test the waters about abolishing Presidential term limits. As much as he might fantasize about becoming dictator-in-chief, it would take a lot to actually make it happen, so I wouldn't hold my breath worrying about it.

That being said, Vladimir Putin just found a sneaky way to lock himself into power until at least 2036: tacking a rider onto another, humongous bill, just hours before the Parliament votes on it.

In the past, Mr. Putin proceeded cautiously, seeking to preserve a veneer of legitimacy. Confronting term limits in 2008, Mr. Putin opted for a four-year hiatus as prime minister while his protégé, Dmitri A. Medvedev, became the caretaker president.

In January he proposed some nebulous constitutional changes that analysts said pointed to his intention to stay beyond the end of his current term.

But with his proposal on Tuesday, Mr. Putin seemed to prefer something bolder, saying he supported the legislation for the good of the country. The president is the guarantor “of the security of our state, of its internal stability — its internal, evolutionary stability,” Mr. Putin said. “And I mean evolutionary. We’ve had enough revolutions.”


“No one is saying” Mr. Putin will run again in 2024, one lawmaker, Aleksandr Khinshtein, said in a televised interview. “But the possibility of doing so must exist for the head of state in order to maintain stability in society.”

I guess bad faith arguments for implausible deniability are totally fine when your country is run for decades by a famously guileful spymaster. Read the rest

Puppies in a bucket

Mar 11, 2020


In this video, posted by Kentfield Kennels Labrador Retrievers, a number of puppies are observed to coalesce within a single medium-sized bucket.

Though it appears the puppies are becoming more organized over time, the outcome in fact reflects the lowest energy state for the puppies. If too much energy (flops, boops, snoots, mlems) were introduced to the local system, the puppies would continue to bounce around randomly. Their coming to rest in parallel and orthogonal repose within the bucket, though apparently a complex and ordered result, in fact represents increased entropy within the available thermodynamic envelope and its approach to a maximum value at equilibrium.

PREVIOUSLY: How to organize nails. Read the rest

U.S. counties with a life expectancy of 80 years or more

Mar 11, 2020


Not for much longer, sure, but here's a map of American counties whose residents enjoy a life expectancy of more than eighty years. It was drafted by Spooderman89 on Reddit using

I believe the only states with not a single long-lived county are Mississippi and Delaware. Read the rest

Ozzy Osbourne releases touching autobiographical video for his recent single, "Ordinary Man" (featuring Elton John)

Mar 11, 2020


As part of the content for "Ordinary Man," Ozzy Obsourne's most recent record (released January 21, 2020), last night saw the release of this video for the title track. It features Osbourne sitting in a home theater watching a biographical video of his life flashing before him. And we watch Ozzy reacting.

The video is unflinching, showing the good, the bad, and the ugly of Osbourne's life and career. We see images of his Birmingham boyhood, lots of Sabbath and solo career stage and publicity shots, moments of sadness (The Osbournes reality TV lows), tragedy and death (band members' plane crash), and out-of-control drinking and drugging. Throughout, Ozzy watches. And smiles, grimaces, smirks, and cries.

It's hard not to listen to this song, and watch this video, and not think of Bowie's "Where Are We Now?" from The Next Day and Johnny Cash's "Hurt" video. "Ordinary Man" (the song and video) definitely has that life-arc swan song quality to it. As one YouTube viewer commented, this video is us watching Ozzy reacting to something that might be played at his own funeral. Some might find this morose. I found it moving and sweet. YMMV.

The track "Ordinary Man" features Elton John on piano and vocals and Slash on guitar. Guns & Roses bassist, Duff McKagan, plays throughout the record and co-wrote many of its songs.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

These LG and Vizio TVs will change your viewing experience without breaking the bank

Mar 11, 2020


HD. 4K. LED. Smart sets. It really is a new age for those in the market for a new TV. I mean, could you even have imagined you could affordably bring home a screen over seven feet across even just a few years ago? No, you were probably too busy trying to eke a few more years out of that 24-incher with the rabbit ears.

Well then, it’s well past time to step up your game. And the good news is with all the competition in the TV market, you can buy some truly stellar TV models loaded with cool features at a lot less than you’d probably think. On top of that, we’ve also pulled together five TVs with discounts from $40 to $850.

LG 86" 4K HDR Smart LED UHD TV with AI ThinQ - $2,149.99; originally $2,999.99

Clear off the entire living room wall, because this behemoth is truly massive. Despite this 86-inch monster screen offering a movie theater-esque experience in your home, it’s actually less than 4 inches thick. With 4K ultra-high-definition (UHD) and HDR support, you’ll get epic picture quality here. It’s also sporting LG’s own AI ThinQ system with built-in Google Assistant, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa features, so you can also use your voice to control compatible smart home devices.

Pick the VIZIO that’s right for you

Meanwhile, VIZIO has four models on sale, all sized to fit your space with each offering full HD and 4K resolution.

First, both the 75-inch and 60-inch VIZIO SmartCast E-Series Ultra HDR Home Theater Display come equipped with VIZIO’s SmartCast system, which allows you to browse and launch top apps like Netflix and Hulu right off your big screen so you’ll never be at a loss for something to watch. Read the rest

A fascinating computer analysis of the linguistic context around the 2nd Amendment

Mar 11, 2020


The Second Amendment is perhaps the most controversial part of the U.S. Bill of Rights. But that's not just because of our grander cultural debate around gun rights and gun violence — it's 'cause the damn thing is such a grammatical clusterfuck.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

27 words in 4 dependent clauses with no clear anything to link them. It's not clear if the thing that shall not be infringed is the well-regulated militia, or the right of the people to keep and bear arms, or if it's all dependent upon what is or is not necessary to the security of a free State. And anyone can make any one of those arguments, and have evidence to back it up that can't be definitively refuted, either.

Over at The Atlantic, James C. Phillips, a Fellow with the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University, and Josh Blackman, a Constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, discuss a novel approach to figuring out what, exactly, the Founding Fathers were actually trying to say: by creating and scanning through a massive database full of more than a billion words culled from formal American and British texts from 1475 to 1800. They specifically searched for instances where phrases such as "bear arms" and "keep arms" were used, and noted the context, the context, and adjacent language that accompanied the phrases to better understand how these terms were actually being used in their historical context. Read the rest

Photos of planet Earth

Mar 11, 2020


Pictures of Earth by Planetary Spacecraft is, as you have perhaps already surmised, a collection of photos of our homeworld not taken by human beings.

The image above comes from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Earth is the little dot to the top left of Saturn, shining through the rings. Read the rest

Fats Waller told me your feet's too big

Mar 11, 2020


Talking smack about bits of your anatomy that you've got no control over. Delighting generations with his clever arrangements and often hilarious, heartfelt lyrics. Showing modern musicians what a showman looks like. These are but a few of the services that Fat Waller has provided to humanity over the years.

Image via Wikipedia Commons Read the rest

Russia's airborne dicketry comes close to America's shores

Mar 11, 2020


The world's busy shitting its pants over an impending pandemic, oil production slap-fights and the arse dropping out of the stock market right into the lap of a recession that's just a-waiting in the wings. So, Russia, being Russia, does what Russia does best: fucks with people.

Earlier today, I received an emailed statement from your pals and mine at NORAD:

NORAD intercepts Russian aircraft entering Air Defense Identification Zone

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22s, CF-18s, supported by KC-135 Stratotanker and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, intercepted two Russian Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on Monday, March 9th.

The Russian aircraft entered the ADIZ north of Alaska and remained within it for approximately 4 hours. NORAD fighter aircraft escorted the TU-142s for the duration of their time in the ADIZ. The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace over the Beaufort Sea, and came as close as 50 nautical miles to the Alaskan coast. The Russian aircraft did not enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace.

If you're like me, or NORAD, you probably don't dig on unexpected company. So that pair of TU-142s can go ahead and jog on.

It's pretty common for Russia to mess with the warships of other countries in international waters, send submarines to scope out undersea communication cables and buzz NATO-aligned nations. They're jerks like that. However, given the freshly rehashed bickering over sovereignty in the Arctic, thanks to global warming's opening up of once frozen shipping lanes and potential oil windfalls, having a pair of their aircraft bop by to say hi feels a little bit pushier than usual. Read the rest

Coronavirus conference canceled due to coronavirus

Mar 11, 2020


An event titled "Doing Business under Coronavirus" was scheduled, but it turns out that coronavirus has other plans: the conference day has beencanceled due to the spread of the illness. Bloomberg News reports that The Council on Foreign Relations has also nixed the rest of its roundtable agenda for the immediate future.

Across the U.S., the spread of the novel virus has so far scuttled more than 50 major corporate events with an estimated attendance of almost 1 million people, according to data collected by Bloomberg News.

Read the rest

Nice laptop sleeve case with handle

Mar 6, 2020


I bought this Inateck Laptop Sleeve Case for my 13-inch MacBook Pro. I wanted something well-padded, with a handle and a separate pouch to store the charger. This one fit the bill. It's not much bigger than than the laptop, so it doesn't take up a lot of room in a suitcase. Read the rest

This researcher learned how "triangulation fraud" works when she bought a used Nespresso machine

Mar 6, 2020


Nina Kollars is a professor at the Naval War College inside the Strategic and Operational Research Department. Here she is at DEF CON 27 explaining how she learned about triangulation fraud when she started buying Nespresso pods on eBay at a discount. Not only did she get the pods, she also received a new Nespresso machine worth $280. It sounds like a good deal, right? As you'll learn as Kollars tells her fascinating story, it wasn't a great deal -- it was a scam.

[via Dooby Brain] Read the rest

A truck crashed into one of the Easter Island head statues and destroyed it

Mar 6, 2020


A pickup truck crashed into one of Easter Island's iconic moai statues, carved by the Rapa Nui people circa 1400 to 1650 AD. Police arrested a Chilean inhabitant whose truck apparently caused "incalculable" damage to the head. Since 2012, the Polynesian island's population has increased from 8,000 to 12,000 and tourism has skyrocketed. From The Guardian:

Camilo Rapu, the president of the Ma’u Henua community, which looks after the moai, said the crash may have been deliberate.

“As people know, the moai are sacred structures that possess a religious value for the people of Rapa Nui,” he said. “Something like this isn’t just dreadful, it’s an offence against a living culture that has spent the last few years fighting to regain its historic and archaeological heritage.”

The island’s mayor, Pedro Edmunds Paoa, told El Mercurio the collision appeared to have been the result of brake failure. He said the incident demonstrated the need for stricter traffic controls.

He previously told the paper: “Everyone decided against establishing traffic rules when it came to vehicles on sacred sites – but we, as a council, were talking about the dangers and knew very well what the rise in tourist and resident numbers could mean.”

image credit: Ian Sewell (CC BY 2.5) Read the rest

Amber Mac is my guest this week on the Cool Tools podcast

Mar 6, 2020


My guest this week on the Cool Tools podcast is Amber Mac. Amber is the co-host of the award-winning podcast series, The AI Effect, the author of two bestselling business books. She's also the President of AmberMac Media, and a former host on G4TechTV and TWiT.

See the show notes here.

  Read the rest

Neural network makes 3D images from still pictures

Mar 6, 2020


Simon Niklaus, Long Mai, Jimei Yang, and Feng Liu developed software that gives a 3D Ken Burns effect to still images.

From their paper:

Experiments with a wide variety of image content show that our method enables realistic synthesis results. Our study demonstrates that our system allows users to achieve better results while requiring little effort compared to existing solutions for the 3D Ken Burns effect creation.

Photo by Pontus Wellgraf on Unsplash

[via Bruce Sterling] Read the rest

"The Fuddy Duddy Walk," is the ‘60s dance craze that never was

Mar 6, 2020


Jack Nitzsche was a legend in his own time; an arranger, producer, songwriter, and Academy Award-winning composer. His disparate discography includes collaborations with Phil Spector, the iconic 1966 Batman theme, titles by The Rolling Stones, Doris Day, Ike & Tina Turner, The Monkees, Glen Campbell, and the Ronettes, as well as several film soundtracks, including Performance, The Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and An Officer and a Gentleman. But one of his earliest known arrangements was for a song so unlistenable it isn’t even named on any of his published discographies.

The title dates from 1963, when a hit song that doubled as a dance craze was the holy grail of the Top 10. But not even the hand of Jack Nitzsche could get this eminently abrasive earworm, "The Fuddy Duddy Walk" by The Entertainers, to join the ranks of "The Twist," "The Mashed Potato," or "The Watusi." "The Fuddy Duddy Walk" is more like proto-punk dance craze anarchy, and it’s not hard to imagine a crowd of pencil-skirted and flat-topped teens covering their ears in buzzkill horror, stampeding from the dance floor and fighting their way to the nearest exit. It’s an aural assault strictly for music masochists, with a nearly unintelligible vocal that codes neither male or female, rock or soul, black or white. Just sweetly painful. Read the rest

If you rotate this photo of a spaceship, it looks like a car in the water

Mar 6, 2020


it's a spaceship until you see the picture upside down.

This is cool - someone took a photo of UFO hovering over the scene of an accident. If you rotate the photo 180 degrees, it almost looks like the UFO is a car in a lake. Read the rest

Dr. Strange director to helm new movie about the Bermuda Triangle mystery

Mar 6, 2020


As a 1970s kid "researching" high weirdness like Bigfoot, ESP, and UFOs at the library, I'd also pick up a bit of background Bermuda Triangle lore. Also known as the "Devil's Triangle," this is roughly the region of the Atlantic ocean between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the tip of Florida where aircraft and ships reportedly have mysteriously vanished or crashed in disproportionate numbers. (For the classic 1970s TV take on this, watch the classic episode above of "In Search Of..." While there have been proposed scientific/natural explanations for the phenomena, ranging from compass errors to methane eruptions sinking ships, the Bermuda Triangle remains a fascinating piece of paranormal history. And it looks like Hollywood is finally preparing to fuel the mystery with a new big budget Hollywood movie, "Bermuda," directed by Scott Derrickson, best known as the director of Dr. Strange, which I found to be wonderfully weird and psychedelic. From Variety:

(Skydance) studio has been working on getting the project off the ground for some time, with Sam Raimi at one point circling the director’s chair. Derrickson will rewrite the script with his writing partner C. Robert Cargill and Derrickson will also exec produce. David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn will produce.

Plot details are being kept under wraps, except for the fact that it will be set in the mysterious patch of the Caribbean where planes and ships have gone missing over the years...

The most recent version of the draft was written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp).

Read the rest

Look at this colossal math blunder on MSNBC

Mar 6, 2020


What is wrong with these people? This would be right here if there were 327 people in the US. And this reflects horribly on the NY Times too. Can someone stop and think for two seconds?

— Michael Salfino (@MichaelSalfino) March 6, 2020

Maybe being on live TV and having to put on a good show short circuits part of your brain. That's the only way I can think of to explain why Brian Williams and his guest didn't stop to think for a second how ludicrous it was to accept a tweet at face value claiming that Michael Bloomberg spent over $1,000,000 per person living in the United States on his presidential bid.

As for the original tweeter? She has been informed of her mistake:

Read the rest

CNBC analyst Rick Santelli wants entire world to be infected with coronavirus to help Wall Street

Mar 6, 2020


This is absolutely horrifying.

Rick Santelli on @CNBC says we should consider giving coronavirus to everybody to just get it over with.

That way it won’t wreak so much havoc on the economy.

This is your brain on

— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) March 5, 2020

Once in a while, our reptilian shadow overloads forget their cover story for a moment. CNBC analyst Rick Santelli accidentally revealed his nictitating membranes when he said on TV yesterday:

"All I know is, I think about how the world would be if you tried to quarantine everybody because of the generic-type flu, Now, I'm not saying this is the generic-type flu—but maybe we'd be just better off if we gave it to everybody. And then in a month, it would be over because the mortality rate of this probably isn't going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture, but the difference is we're wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies."

Political science professor Seth Masket's response on Twitter is on-target:

I sometimes worry after doing TV interviews that I may have gotten a fact wrong, or over-simplified an argument, or advocated for a Darwinian genocide to protect the stock market like this gentleman did.

I sometimes worry after doing TV interviews that I may have gotten a fact wrong, or over-simplified an argument, or advocated for a Darwinian genocide to protect the stock market like this gentleman did.

— Seth Masket (@smotus) March 6, 2020

[via Common Dreams] Read the rest

Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to terminate unlicensed robot clone

Mar 6, 2020


Promobot created an Arnold Schwarzenegger robot -- an animatronic head, really -- and told journos they had permission from the actor and former California governor. They didn't, Schwarzenegger says, and he's suing them.

The actor’s team hit Promobot with a cease-and-desist after CES and was reportedly assured the company would stop touring its Arnold bot. That didn’t happen, though. Promobot showed off the lifelike replica again the following month at the New York Toy Fair. And, to top it all off, this all comes after Promobot was personally shut down by Schwarzenegger in St. Petersburg in 2019. According to TMZ, the company attended a speech he was delivering and asked the actor to pose for a photo with the robot. He flat-out declined.

Read the rest

Watch: Wild hyperreal Hot Wheels and Matchbox car race video complete with announcers

Mar 6, 2020


I prefer this to the real thing. The cartoon fun is infectious and, well, nobody dies.

More thrills at 3Dbotmaker, home to 1:64 Diecast Sports Action Racing!

(Jalopnik) Read the rest

Furries in therapy

Mar 6, 2020


The excellent headline "Fursuit of Happiness" belies the seriousness of the topic: how do furries fare in therapy? Professionals find that it's best to bring along the fursona rather than put it aside on the couch, writes Hussein Kesvani.

According to Sharon Roberts, a sociology professor at the University of Waterloo and one of the few researchers who focuses on identity within furry communities, Max’s therapy experience is pretty common. “There are some psychologists who associate fursonas with dissociative behavior, which by and large isn’t the case,” she explains. “In other cases, because of the aesthetic of furries — that they’re a colorful and quite loud subculture — society generally sees them as more likely to suffer from mental health issues, when the research shows that’s not true either. In a lot of cases, furries are less likely to develop severe mental health conditions because of how strong the bonds are in the community.”

To better spread (and back up) this message, Roberts co-founded the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, a collective of academics dedicated to producing evidence-based research on furry culture and providing insights about it to therapists.

Photo: Rob Beschizza (CC BY 3.0) Read the rest

Trump doesn't know what the US death toll from coronavirus is

Mar 6, 2020


He's just so stupid.

Trump does not know how many people have died in the United States from coronavirus and COVID-19. The answer, for now, is 14.

President Trump doesn't know what the US death roll from coronavirus is (it's actually 14)

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 6, 2020

Also why was a Murdoch in the room when he signed the coronavirus $8.3 billion spending bill?

News Corp exec Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert's son, was in the Oval during Trump's signing of $8 billion coronavirus emergency funding bill.

— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) March 6, 2020

Read the rest

Swiss gruyere named world’s best cheese at global competition

Mar 6, 2020


What's the world's best cheese? A gruyere from Switzerland, selected from a record-breaking number of entries from 26 countries in the 2020 World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

“This is quite a good cheese,” said Stefan Truttmann, who happily accepted the award when a Gruyere from Switzerland was named the 2020 World Champion Cheese Thursday night at the World Championship Cheese Contest at Monona Terrace.

The cheese from Bern, Switzerland, topped the field at the biennial contest and made a two-time winner out of its maker, Michael Spycher of Mountain Dairy Fritzenhaus for Gourmino AG. Spycher’s Gruyere also won in 2008.

Truttmann and Christian Schmutz, who were contest judges, accepted the award on behalf of the Swiss cheese makers’ association and hoisted the 77-pound wheel in victory.

From the Associated Press:

The contest is the largest technical cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the world and started Tuesday in Madison with a record 3,667 entries.

The 55 judges taste, sniff and inspect the 132 classes of dairy products during the biennial contest. The judges include cheese graders, cheese buyers, dairy science professors, and researchers from 19 nations and 14 states.

PREVIOUSLY AT BOING BOING: Largest technical dairy competition in world opens in Wisconsin

Read more: Swiss gruyere named best in world cheese competition []

And from the Wisconsin State Journal: Swiss cheese comes out on top at World Cheese Championship in Madison Read the rest

Here's some high-quality otter footage from the BBC

Mar 6, 2020


"Cute otters," promises Britain's public broadcaster, "Intimately filmed by spy cameras."

Spy Otter quietly films the most intimate views of otters using tools and caring for their young. Animatronic spy creatures go undercover to explore the world of animal intelligence and reveal their use of tools, self-medication, culture and subterfuge.

Read the rest

Trump administration to begin taking DNA samples from migrants crossing border or in detention for federal criminal database

Mar 6, 2020


'Rule will require immigration officers to collect cheek swabs from what could amount to hundreds of thousands of people a year '

US $8.3-billion Coronavirus response funding bill signed into law by Trump

Mar 6, 2020


Impeached and manifestly corrupt U.S. president President Donald John Trump on Friday signed the $8.3-billion Coronavirus response funding bill before leaving the White House for golf or whatever.

The spending bill to combat the outbreak passed the House and Senate nearly unanimously.

In related news, Trump, a noted germophobe, has called off a planned trip to the Atlanta headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Trump said on Friday he called off the CDC trip to Atlanta because of a suspected case of coronavirus there, which ended up coming back negative.

With @SecAzar at his side in the Diplomatic Reception Room, Pres Trump has signed the $8.3-billion Coronavirus response funding bill. Bill passed by near unanimous margins in both Chambers of Congress this week.

— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 6, 2020

Happening today: #Trump preparing to sign $8 billion #Coronavirus aid package this AM.

Coronavirus task force has #WhiteHouse briefing on preparations at 5 PM

— Nancy Ognanovich (@NOgnanovich) March 6, 2020

Also, @realDonaldTrump just tossed @steveholland1 the pen he used to sign the coronavirus spending bill. Steve caught it expertly. Trump says it’s the first time he’s ever done that.

— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) March 6, 2020

Trump shows off the signed coronavirus supplemental spending bill.

— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) March 6, 2020

Trump says he "may be going" to the CDC after all today -- he said the agency thought they may have had a case of coronavirus, suggesting that's why the White House canceled his expected trip.

Read the rest

As Coronavirus infections near 100,000 worldwide, fear of mass deaths for the poor

Mar 6, 2020


The number of people around the world who are infected with the new coronavirus is close to 100,000 as of Friday, according to global health officials.

In the United States, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is now 226 in 19 states, including 12 deaths.

The virus that causes the potentially deadly respiratory illness COVID-19 has now infected people in about 90 countries.

On Friday, the first cases were reported in the Netherlands and Cameroon.

From the Associated Press's roundup of the disease spread on Friday:

The head of the U.N.’s food agency, the World Food Program, warned of the potential of “absolute devastation” as the outbreak’s effects ripple through Africa and the Middle East. (...)

And in the United States, more than 230 cases were stirring anxiety around the country, nowhere more than its northwestern corner in Washington state, where officials are so concerned about having space to care for the sick they were expected to close a $4 million deal Friday to take over a roadside motel.

(...) The 100,000 figure of infections — likely to be passed on Friday — is largely symbolic, but a milestone nonetheless. Other major outbreaks in recent decades, including SARS and MERS, affected far fewer people but had a higher mortality rate.

More at AP. [image of the coronavirus via CDC] Read the rest

Audio deepfake: JFK tells Anakin the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise

Mar 6, 2020


From the Vocal Synthesis channel: "The voice in this video was entirely computer-generated using a text-to-speech model trained on the speech patterns of John F. Kennedy." Read the rest

Investors used Clearview AI app as a personal toy for spying on public

Mar 6, 2020


“Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich.” That's the title of the New York Times piece, and that's the horrifying reality of how artificial intelligence and facial recognition are already being used in ways that violate your expectations of privacy in the world.

Investors and clients of the facial recognition start-up with ties to the extreme right used an early version of the Clearview AI app on dates and at parties — “and to spy on the public.”

At one time, Clearview AI was trying to put together a nationwide repository of mug shots from the last 15 years. One rich guy used it to do a background check on a man his daughter was having dinner with in a restaurant where he was also eating. He also used it to catch people stealing Haagen-Dazs ice cream from his grocery store locations.

The New York Times identified “multiple individuals with active access to Clearview’s technology who are not law enforcement officials.”

From the story:

And for more than a year before the company became the subject of public scrutiny, the app had been freely used in the wild by the company’s investors, clients and friends.

Those with Clearview logins used facial recognition at parties, on dates and at business gatherings, giving demonstrations of its power for fun or using it to identify people whose names they didn’t know or couldn’t recall.

“As part of the ordinary course of due diligence, we provided trial accounts to potential and current investors, and other strategic partners, so they could test the technology,” said Hoan Ton-That, the company’s co-founder.

Read the rest

$1 million stolen in UK coronavirus scams

Mar 6, 2020


• Criminals are tricking people who want to buy protective masks

In the United Kingdom, vulnerable people who are afraid of coronavirus have lost more than 800,000 british pounds ($1 million in US dollars) to coronavirus scams in the last month.

One victim paid 15,000 pounds for anti-coronavirus masks that never arrived.

Britain's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) said on Friday there have been 21 reports of fraud since February 10, mostly mask scams.

More from Reuters:

Britain has so far registered 115 cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which has killed more than 3,300 people globally since it started in China. On Thursday, health officials reported the first death of a patient in Britain who had tested positive for the virus.

Demand for face masks has surged in North America, India, China and Europe since the outbreak of the virus, with Washington considering invoking special powers to boost the production of masks and other protective gear.

Britain’s competition watchdog warned retailers about price hiking on highly sought-after goods during the outbreak as the price of disinfectants and hand sanitizers online soared to as much as 40 times normal rates.

Read more at Reuters: Coronavirus fraud: UK victims lose 800,000 pounds in scams Read the rest

Hand of Glory offers modular, magnetic gaming miniatures

Mar 6, 2020


If you've ever tried to create swapable arms and weapons on gaming miniatures, using rare earth magnets, you know what a hassle it can be. Great idea, not fun to implement.

In 2018, a Kickstarter called Hand of Glory raised $156,000 to create a line of hot-swapable fantasy miniatures. With a collection of figures outfitted with rare earth magnet wrists and a line of weapons and other accessories, you could mix and match to create unique miniatures tailored to your game. Hand of Glory is back with another campaign to add more figures and tons more weapons and accessory options to the line.

The folks at Hand of Glory were kind enough to send me a sample box of minis and weapons. The minis are wonderfully sculpted and the weapons and other components are varied and characterful. Hand of Glory 2 introduces 11 new figures and over 100 new weapons and other items. Among the new additions are chain-based weapons and animal figures on chain leashes.

I have never played a game using magnetized minis, so I can't judge how fussy the process is of changing out parts on the fly, or how often things fall off. The magnets do seem strong, but I did notice that some of the bigger, heavier weapons sometimes pivot on the magnetic wrist as you move the figure and "go limp," not something you ever want your scary, intimidating weapon to do. But this is a minor quibble.

With so many people using miniatures in RPGs these days, and so many cool "miniature agnostic" fantasy skirmish games out there, these sort of modular, design-your-own minis make a lot of sense. Read the rest

MSNBC's Brian Williams is very bad at math

Mar 6, 2020


On Thursday night's The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, Brian and his guest, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay, discussed the vast amount of money Michael Bloomberg spent in the Democratic primary. Maybe they were exhausted. It's been a long week, after all. But this is just BAD.

Granted, Mara Gay was the one who brought it up first. But Williams was so certain, he had his staff prepare a graphic for it. The author of the tweet, writer Mekita Rivas, has since made her Twitter account private.

Somewhere, Andrew Yang is smiling.

(Photo: Tumisu/Needpix) Read the rest

Ecce tympanista

Mar 6, 2020


\_^◉ᴥ◉^_/ Read the rest

Kickstart your digital marketing career with this 100-hour training bundle

Mar 6, 2020


What falls under the heading of digital marketing these days? Well, frankly...a heck of a lot. Once you start factoring in everything from search engines and social media to emails and the vast network of websites out there and before you know it, it’s easy for new digital media creators to get overwhelmed quickly.

But with retail eCommerce expected to amount to $4.5 trillion next year, it’s way too important to ignore. So with that much at stake, it’s vital to know your stuff. The massive block of training available in The 2020 Complete Digital Marketing for Beginners Bundle will go a long way toward helping growing digital professionals understand the landscape and get their arms around everything it entails.

And trust in this...this collection is absolutely comprehensive.  Featuring a whopping 14 courses packed with more than 100 hours of instruction, your digital marketing career will start the right way with full introductions to social media marketing, SEO, email outreach, paid ads, content creation and more.

After courses in the fine art of sales and negotiating as well as digital media basic learning covering blogging and creating the right content around your marketing efforts, the coursework starts to delve into all the most important venues for your messaging.

Since social media is where so many modern shoppers live, you’ll get in-depth guides to reaching audiences on some of the most vital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You’ll even get training in using the exploding viral video environment of TikTok to maximize your reach. Read the rest

Neighbor accused of stealing skeleton in window with middle finger raised offensively

Mar 5, 2020


'The skeleton has not been located.'

Texas ice cream licker gets jail

Mar 5, 2020


In Port Arthur, Texas, a 24-year-old man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for posting a video last August to social media of himself taking ice cream out of a Walmart freezer, licking the ice cream like a complete jerk, then returning the container to the freezer.

From AP:

D’Adrien Anderson, 24, also was sentenced to an additional six-month jail term probated for two years and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $1,565 in restitution to Blue Bell Creameries, which had to replace all of its products in the freezer.

Anderson began serving his jail term immediately after sentencing.

Here is the original story with the gross video. Read the rest

Coronavirus: 12 deaths in US, 200+ cases confirmed by CDC

Mar 5, 2020


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Thursday that more than 200 people are infected with coronavirus in the country, and 12 people have died of the respiratory disease it causes, COVID-19.

Some 70 of those U.S. cases are in Washington state, which has become a hotspot in the global outbreak.

Vice President Mike Pence, whom president Trump named coronavirus czar, today said “we don't have enough test today” to meet imminent coronavirus screening needs.

“The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed and sent to President Donald Trump an $8.3 billion funding bill to help state and local governments combat the spreading coronavirus, as public health experts outlined efforts to rapidly accelerate testing for the disease,” Reuters reports late this afternoon:

By a vote of 96-1, the Senate approved legislation that was overwhelmingly passed on Wednesday by the House of Representatives.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, who objected to spending the money without first reducing federal spending elsewhere, was the lone dissenter.

Trump is expected to sign the bill into law so that the billions of dollars can flow toward developing vaccines against the highly contagious coronavirus and aiding international efforts to control transmission. Trump initially requested $2.5 billion, with much of that coming from previously appropriated funds.

the stories around authorities in the US failing to test for the coronavirus are just astonishing

— Rob Price (@robaeprice) March 5, 2020

Psssst ... @seattletimes ... maybe change this?

— Gabby Deutch (@GSDeutch) March 5, 2020

NEW: Washington state asked the U.S.

Read the rest

Twitter bans posts that 'dehumanize' people for diseases like coronavirus

Mar 5, 2020


No COVID-19 shaming, please.

Twitter announced Thursday it will ban tweets that “dehumanize” people because they have a disease, disability, or because of their age, which happens to correspond to a spike in the number of tweets about the fast-spreading global coronavirus outbreak.

Read the announcement on the company blog: “Updating our rules against hateful conduct” Twitter Safety, Thursday, 5 March 2020


We create our rules to keep people safe on Twitter, and they continuously evolve to reflect the realities of the world we operate within. Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research* shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk. As a result, of months of conversations and feedback from the public and conversations with bothand, external experts and our own teams, in July 2019, we expanded our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion. Today, we are further expanding this rule to include language that dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability or disease.

We will require Tweets like these to be removed from Twitter when they’re reported to us:

If reported, Tweets that break this rule pertaining to age, disease and/or disability, sent before today will need to be deleted, but will not directly result in any account suspensions because they were Tweeted before the rule was in place.

“We couldn’t have predicted that this would happen in terms of the coronavirus,” Jerrel Peterson, Twitter’s head of trust and safety policy, told Reuters. Read the rest

Which coding language should you learn first? How about...all of them?

Mar 1, 2020


There are as many methods for creating on the web as there are creators to build them. But no matter what programming language or venue is a coder’s particular arena of choice, it never hurts to have the cross-disciplinary skills to try other avenues if needed that may better serve your app or web experience.

That’s easier said than done, of course...and requires some extra study hours. To help, we put together 10 current deals on coding packages that can get you up to speed on virtually all the most popular programming languages.

The 2020 Premium Learn To Code Certification Bundle - $39 (Originally $2,300)

Consider this your introductory sampler to the entire coding universe. With over 10 courses, you’ll get a full tour of how many of the most popular disciplines work, including Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby and more. There’s also an exploration of data science and machine learning, two of the most explosive growth sectors in computer programming today.

ReactJS Programming Bootcamp - $39 (Originally $458)

Across eight courses and 44 hours of training, you’ll get up-close and personal with ReactJS, the popular Java library of pre-built elements that make your websites and apps more responsive and appealing to your users. You’ll not only see how ReactJS can be integrated into your builds, but you’ll also explore how some of the biggest tech companies employ its benefits, including Facebook and Instagram.

The Complete Ruby on Rails Super Bundle - $39 (Originally $3,000)

Ask experienced developers which coding language and framework is the best for getting newbies going, and many will tell you Ruby on Rails. Read the rest

Drugs Without the Hot Air: the best book I've ever read on drugs and drug policy, in an expanded new edition

Mar 1, 2020


I first read "Drugs Without the Hot Air," David Nutt's astoundingly good book about drug policy back in 2012; in the eight years since, hardly a month has gone by without my thinking about it. Now, there's a new, updated edition, extensively revised, and it's an absolute must-read.

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola talks about returning to drawing comics and more

Mar 1, 2020


Hellboy creator Mike Mignola talks about his 35-year career, his concept design work on Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and winning an Eisner Award in this interview on Inverse.

Image: Hellboy cover inset Read the rest

Use this language-learning app to speak like a local when you travel

Mar 1, 2020


How many times have you struggled to order street food or get public transportation directions while traveling abroad? Even after vowing you'd learn enough of a language to get through your next trip easily, you pretty much did nothing about it. But there's a recently popular method that will help you learn a language with less difficulty and less time, known as Reading-While-Listening or RwL, and that's what Beelinguapp's platform is based on.

Various studies have shown the benefits of RwL, and Beelinguapp is not afraid to use it. This mobile language-learning app utilizes an audiobook approach combined with karaoke-style animation to provide an immersive experience. Original audio is recorded by a native language speaker to help you hear how the words are pronounced as you read them and see how they're spelled and put together in sentences. It shows the same exact text in two languages, side by side, while it reads out loud to you.

Offering 13+ languages, such as Spanish, English, German, Korean, and French, Beelinguapp lets you choose from fairy tales, news, science papers, and novels to learn from, with new content being added every single week. With 4.7 stars in the Google Play Store and 4.6 in Apple's App Store, Beelinguapp must be doing something right! Give it a try and you just might have your best vacation yet.

A Beelinguapp Language Learning App Lifetime Subscription is available now for $39.99, a savings of 60%. Read the rest

This CRM unifies all of your communications so nothing falls through the cracks

Mar 1, 2020


In today's hyper-competitive business world, generating leads and converting them into a viable business is a vital numbers game that can be the difference between your operation scaling and stagnating. Unfortunately, leads are becoming more and more expensive to generate, meaning any mishandled or dropped leads can have a huge negative impact on your bottom line.

Communication is key. Staying aligned with leads, current clients, former clients, and your entire sales team is exceedingly difficult given how many communication mediums there are these days. Between the phone, email, webchats, and more, it's easier than ever to forget to follow up by simply misplacing where the original conversation took place.

That's where amoCRM shines. By centralizing each customer's communications (be it on Skype, Instagram, email etc.) into their own lead profile on the platform, this customer relationship manager (CRM) helps you keep track of all of your past communications and continue ongoing conversations without switching apps. This way, you can chat with your leads on their platform of choice, and gain quick access to all of your conversations without closing apps or switching platforms.

With the power of unified communications, your sales team is empowered to solve problems, not navigate through them. Retain and convert leads like never before with amoCRM. Right now, you can register for an extended 30 day trial through this link. Read the rest

Check out these 20 CBD-infused products

Feb 29, 2020


Testimonials as to the health and wellness benefits of CBD continue to roll in. Whether it's combating inflammation and pain relief for those battling arthritis, nerve pain, MS, or just general stress and anxiety management, many say that CBD supplements have provided them with a better quality of life.

So far, the FDA and serious medical trials have barely begun in the effort to back up those claims with hard science. However, the anecdotal results have been all the fuel needed to launch a galaxy of CBD-infused products to help with everyday aches and pains as well as deeper physical and psychological conditions.

It’s an exploding field — so check out 20 different CBD products that may help improve your daily life or that of a loved one, all at discounts up to 58 percent off.


CBD oils are extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant — and while they carry none of the hallucinogenic or addictive properties of another major marijuana component THC, they are often acknowledged as the most potent form of CBD, depending on the dosage.

Doses of Medix 100mg CBD Oil ($21.99; originally $26.99) are infused with premium CBD-rich non-flavored hemp oil; while doses of FREEZE 350mg CBD Topical Oil ($31.99; originally $40) utilize menthol-rich plant extracts like peppermint and camphor to provide an intense cooling and soothing sensation for the most irritating aches and pains.


While oils are direct extracts, tinctures combine those properties with vegetable glycerin, cinnamon oils, or even alcohol. While less potent, tinctures are often easier to mix with food and digest than the more bitter oils. Read the rest

The frozen houses of Lake Erie

Feb 29, 2020


The images from this local news report from WGRZ in Hamburg, NY are crazy. Houses completely encased in ice, some of it up to three feet thick.

Cold temperatures, gale-force winds, and 18-foot waves from Lake Erie created an ice spectacle at Hoover Beach in Hamburg.

Homeowners on South shore Drive woke to the ice completely covering their doors and windows. In some cases, their homes were dark because of how thick the ice was.

Ed Mis, resident and homeowner in Hoover Beach, says he's never seen conditions this bad before. The front of his home is completely covered in ice that is likely one to three feet thick.

"I actually had to go out a secondary door and then chisel my way back into the house by breaking the ice," he told 2 On Your Side's Karys Belger.

[H/t Robin Moore]

Ed Mis tells me this is what his house looked like when he woke up this morning. He says some of the ice has completely frozen over the top of his neighbor’s house and he’s worried about what will happen when it all melts. ⁦

— Karys Belger (@KarysBelger) February 28, 2020

Image: Screengrab Read the rest

Save 60% on this certified refurbished Apple Mac Pro with a Xeon E5 processor

Feb 29, 2020


If you love tech gear, it can be difficult to live the green consumer life you want to be living. How can you fuel your desire to upgrade without contributing to the negative environmental impact the endless production of electronics causes? Shop refurbished.

You might think, "Meh, I'll pass on a used, busted up computer." But lots of refurbs today are trustworthy. Take, for instance, this Mac Pro. It's an Apple computer boasting a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon E5 processor with 16GB RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive that costs 60% less than a new one—and it's certified refurbished. That means it was tested, inspected, and certified to look and work like new, including all relevant accessories. It might ship in plain bulk packaging, but that's not a bad tradeoff.

This Mac workstation made for pros in 2013 offers not only a sleek-as-heck design but also the most advanced technologies available around a unified thermal core, making it the most powerful and expandable Mac ever. It's got all sorts of ports for external connection, like Thunderbolt, HDMI, UltraHD, USB 3.0, and dual gigabit Ethernet, keeping it compact and quiet without losing any of its support for power-intensive apps. There's also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and the pre-installed macOS X (10.9.1 Mavericks).

Picking up one of these Mac Pros instead of buying brand new contributes to reducing electronic waste and demand for new devices. Sure, it's not exactly instant gratification, but when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, not much is. Read the rest

Lemonade is breaking the mold for home and renters insurance

Feb 29, 2020


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

Interview with musician and artist Genesis P-Orridge

Feb 29, 2020


Since the 60s Genesis P-Orridge has been one of the masterminds behind artist collective COUM Transmissions and seminal music acts Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. Beyond that, P-Orridge has had an astonishing career in the visual arts, founding an artist collective called Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, as well as helming the infamous pandrogeny project in, which P-Orridge and deceased partner Lady Jaye went through ongoing plastic surgery sessions to resemble each other in an attempt to, as New York's Rubin Museum's catalogue once put it, "break down the limitations of biological sex and express their unconditional love for each other." As of 2017, Genesis has been having an ongoing battle with cancer. Here's our interview with Genesis, conducted earlier this year.

Do you think something happens to our consciousness when we die?

We think about that a lot. But we've also spent much of my life as an existentialist. We had the, is it good or misfortune to have read La Nausée by John Paul Sartre when we were about 12. And needless to say, it totally altered the way I saw all the information I'd been given by the Church of England and the status quo. And it made me basically an existentialist. There's just "we're here, we die, there's nothing," you know? But then we also had these psychic experiences and saw certain things that made me still not 100% sure of that either.

We used to say we were a romantic existentialist because we've always had this strong belief in Big Love. Read the rest

Trash panda wears cute pajamas

Feb 28, 2020


“Say hello to Meeko,” says IMGURian @Lifeisfull12.

“Yeah. He's got jammies...”

“Meeko is my friend's domesticated trash panda. He has raised him from a cub. Meeko is the best.”

Gentle reminder: Wildlife belong in the wild, not at home. Please do not do this at home.

Say hello to Meeko

Read the rest

Coronavirus: Wall Street ends worst week since 2008, Dow closes down 350+ points

Feb 28, 2020


Recession fears are spreading, along with COVID-19. The coronavirus outbreak and unknowns about preparedness caused massive financial losses this week.

The Dow closed down 350+ points.

The S&P 500 dropped for the seventh day in a row, and posted its biggest drop in a single week since the 2008 financial crisis.

More from Reuters:

The S&P 500 fell for the seventh straight day on Friday and the benchmark index suffered its biggest weekly drop since the 2008 global financial crisis on growing fears the fast-spreading coronavirus could lead to a recession, although stocks cut losses at the end of the day’s session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 356.88 points, or 1.39%, to 25,409.76, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 24.7 points, or 0.83%, to 2,954.06 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.89 points, or 0.01%, to 8,567.37.

Read more:S&P 500 drops for seventh day, posts biggest weekly fall since 2008 crisis Read the rest

CoronaCoin: A coronavirus speculative deathwatch cryptocurrency

Feb 28, 2020


“CoronaCoin” exists. Some cryptocurrency developers on 4Chan cooked up a digital coin that allows traders to bet on the global coronavirus outbreak, based on how many people become infected and/or die.

Here's the Reddit post that kicked it off.

"We developed the world's first blockchain that tracks the spread of the virus based on it's [sic] token supply. The token supply started at 7.6 billion and is burned every two days to keep up with official WHO statistics," said Sunny Kemp, an admin for CoronaCoin's Telegram group.

“CoronaCoin” supply diminishes every 2 days based on the rate of new COVID-19 cases, says its website. The price goes higher the more people die, writes Anna Irrera at Reuters:

Total supply for the CoronaCoin is based on the world population, and tokens will be burnt once every 48 hours based on the number of those that have been infected or have died, according to its website.

“Some people speculate a large portion of the supply will be burned due to the spread of the virus, so they invest,” Sunny Kemp, a user who identified himself as one of the developers, said in a chat on messaging app Telegram.

Kemp said the team comprised seven developers with more coming on board. He declined to identify others, but said they were located mostly in Europe.

More at Reuters: CoronaCoin: crypto developers seize on coronavirus for new, morbid token Read the rest

Coronavirus: Amazon limits employee travel, Google bans travel to Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea; Facebook cancels event

Feb 28, 2020


Google employee in Switzerland has confirmed case of coronavirus

Learn how to improve your memory with over 20 hours of training using proven psychology techniques

Feb 28, 2020


Bad news: Your brain reaches its peak performance sometime before you turn 26, and it's all downhill from there. Good news: At any age, training with brain exercises has big-time benefits. Better news? The Ultimate Memory Mastery Bundle hooks you up with 20 hours of proven psychology and neuroscience techniques to boost your brain and improve memory.

Not impressed? Know this: Improving your memory can improve multiple aspects of your life, both right now and into your senior years. Having a good memory will help you...

improve focus, decrease laziness, and free up brainpower pass down information that can only be found inside your head maintain or increase creativity boost meaningful learning network like a champ, thanks to all those names and details you recall gain authority on the topics of your choosing lead presentations at work or give a toast at your BFF's wedding change a tire in the middle of a road with no cell service make your brain more quick and agile

With the Ultimate Memory Mastery Bundle, you'll get 7 courses teaching simple yet powerful techniques to strengthen your memory, effortlessly recall information, and reduce the amount of time it takes to memorize something. You'll find actionable, easy-to-apply concepts and activities that can be used immediately—methods that are tested and used by memory experts, including basic mnemonic systems.

Including 7 hours of content from the psychologist who founded the Brain Academy, you'll learn dual brain theory, brain systems and neurochemicals, the psychology of memory, the history of memory training, and the memory formation process. Read the rest

Stop asking about this extension cord. It's not for sale

Feb 28, 2020


Darwin award starter kit

Why would someone need an extension cord like this?

Image: IMGUR Read the rest

Stop asking about the peanut. It is not for sale

Feb 28, 2020


In balmy Calgary, two Weinermobiles are for sale. It's not clear if the $12,000 asking price is for both hot dog shaped cars, or the price per. One things is certain -- THE PEANUT IS NOT FOR SALE ! STOP ASKING.

Image: Kijiji Read the rest

Google employee diagnosed with coronavirus

Feb 28, 2020


A Google employee who "had been in the Zurich office for a limited time" has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

“We can confirm that one employee from our Zurich office has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. They were in the Zurich office for a limited time, before they had any symptoms. We have taken — and will continue to take — all necessary precautionary measures, following the advice of public health officials, as we prioritize everyone’s health and safety,” a spokesperson for Google told CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa.

According to 9to5Google, Google has already banned employee travel to China, Iran and parts of Italy, and is planning to ban employees from traveling to Japan and South Korea, starting next week. They have also posted signs at their bay area offices "reminding people to wash their hands and cover their mouths."

Google hasn't released the identity of the infected employee.

This was first reported by Business Insider:

A Google employee has tested positive for the coronavirus

— Business Insider (@businessinsider) February 28, 2020

Image: Nicolas Nova / Flickr Read the rest

Jungle Cruise ride at Disney World offers adventure when it sinks with passengers aboard

Feb 28, 2020


Disney World's Jungle Cruise ride isn't so dull after all. Yesterday, passengers got the ride of a lifetime when their boat began to sink. Some people got soaked up to their waists while staff called the park's Reedy Creek Fire Department. Fortunately the adventurers all made it back onto land as park members helped them climb to safety. They don't call it Adventureland for nothing.

Disney World Jungle Cruise Boat Sinks with Passengers on Board

— D-ROC (@DJDROC) February 28, 2020

Jeez! You’d think they hit an iceberg #JungleCruise #Disney

— Char, The Irish Pirate (@Yo_Ho_Yo_HoLife) February 28, 2020

Via NBC Read the rest

Watch Playboy founder Hugh Hefner clash with members of the Women's Liberation Movement

Feb 28, 2020


In this absolutely fascinating segment on a 1970 episode of The Dick Cavett Show, two members of the Women's Liberation Movement, Susan Brownmiller and Sally Kempton, argue with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner about the depiction of women in his magazine. After Brownmiller and Kempton present their argument, Hef says, "I'm more in sympathy then perhaps the girls realize," in one of his many cringeworthy self-owns on the episode.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

How to make homopolar motor with just a few parts

Feb 28, 2020


According to Wikipedia, the first electrical motor was a homopolar motor. "Its operation was demonstrated by Michael Faraday in 1821 at the Royal Institution in London." I have to admit I'm with Insane Clown Posse on how they work, but you can easily make one at home with a few simple parts, as shown in this video by DaveHax. Read the rest

Apple deleted files that I owned without telling me. It was inevitable, but I'm still pissed.

Feb 28, 2020


I've been using iTunes Match since the service launched in 2011, and it's been nothing but great until now. At the time, I had a personal laptop and a work computer, along with an iPhone that maybe held 16 gigs. The fact that I could just upload my extensive music library up to Apple's servers and stream or download any of my songs onto any of those devices at any time was a game changer. I'm one of those people who still likes to buy music whenever possible (maybe it's karmic, and I'm hoping someone buys my music some time, too), so I've continued to use the service, downloading my preferred albums at any given to listen to on-the-go instead of dipping into my data plan.

Honestly, the only quirk I discovered with the service was a blessing in disguise. iTunes Match will upload any of your music, but if matches something that already exists in their library, they'll let you download the corresponding high-resolution audio files. I had a lot of shitty CD-rips from high school that were suddenly returned to their high-quality glory, and freed of those obnoxious data squelches on the high end.

That is, until the other day. When I had a hankering to listen to "I Don't Want To Be An Asshole Anymore" by the Menzingers. 'Cause it's great song!

Except it wasn't there. In fact, the entire album was missing from my library. I own the entire Menzingers discography — purchased music! — and Rented World was now completely gone. Read the rest

Watch: Freestyle rapper turns random words from strangers into incredible performance

Feb 28, 2020


Throw out some random words and Los Angeles-based Harry Mack will instantly spit them out in an amazing rap that is custom-made for each audience. For someone who can't even remember her name under pressure, this kind of improv is mind-blowing. Read the rest

38% of Americans won't buy Corona beer "under any circumstances"

Feb 28, 2020


"Just to be abundantly clear," CNN reassures us, "There is no link between the virus and the beer."

5W Public Relations said that 38% of Americans wouldn't buy Corona "under any circumstances" because of the outbreak, and another 14% said they wouldn't order a Corona in public. The survey encompasses polling from 737 beer drinkers in the United States. In another survey conducted by YouGov, the firm found consumers' intent to purchase Corona fell to its lowest level in two years. The survey also showed that Corona's buzz score, a metric that that measures favorability, has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year.

UPDATE: CNN was bamboozed by a vaguely-worded press release. [h/t Hank Green] The press release was crafted to portray anyone who would never drink Corona as being scared of the virus.

OK, this sounded deeply dubious to me, so I went to the source, which is a PRESS RELEASE that reads like an ad for the PR company:

The survey says 38% of people wouldn't drink Corona...not that they wouldn't drink Corona "because of the virus."

— Hank Green (Going to Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan!) (@hankgreen) February 28, 2020

As of today, 83,577 people are diagnosed as having it, with nearly 3,000 dead. Coronavirus, that is, not Corona. Read the rest

ICE ran facial recognition searches on millions of Maryland drivers' photos without court approval; activists say they're targeting immigrants

Feb 28, 2020


ICE has done facial recognition searches on millions of photos Maryland drivers without court approval. They appear to be targeting immigrants who sought driver’s licenses after 2013.

The access sought by Maryland state officials “goes far beyond what other states allow and that alarms immigration activists in a state that grants special driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants,” report Drew Harwell and Erin Cox at the Washington Post:

More than 275,000 such licenses have been issued statewide since 2013, when the state became the first on the East Coast to defy federal guidelines and allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a license without having to provide proof of legal status. The technology now under scrutiny could let an ICE official run a photograph of an unknown person through the system and see if any potentially undocumented immigrants are returned as a match.

“It’s a betrayal of immigrants’ trust for the [state] to turn around and let ICE run warrantless searches on their faces,” said Harrison Rudolph, a senior associate at Georgetown University Law School’s Center on Privacy and Technology. “It’s a bait-and-switch. … ICE is using biometric information in the shadows, without government notice or public approval, to hunt down the most vulnerable people.”

Read more: ICE has run facial-recognition searches on millions of Maryland drivers[washington post via] Read the rest

One of these trusty multi-tools or pocket knives could be a virtual lifesaver

Feb 28, 2020


Admit it...even having a pocket knife within reach at a moment’s notice makes you feel a little like James Bond, right? Like, if you run up against a locked vault or a sinister superweapon, all you’d need are a couple of hand-held tools to diffuse the whole situation and save the world.

Look, we don’t recommend trying to disable a bomb with any of the 10 cool pocket knives and multi-tool gadgets in this assortment, but they do offer some peace of mind in a jam.

B-2 Dog Tag: Fully Concealed Nano Blade Pocket Knife - $34.99; originally $69

Is there a more badass a feeling than knowing you’ve got a blade hanging around your neck? This Kickstarter-funded survivalist dream is a military-style lightweight dog tag with its own key-sized blade. The 1-inch blade can even be removed and re-inserted to create its own blade and handle set-up for added versatility.

Pocket Samurai Keychain Knife - $17.99; originally $19.99

A pocket knife with a decidedly Japanese feel, the Pocket Samurai folds together the popular higonokami knife style into this portable package. With a razor-sharp tanto style blade, pocket clip and keychain loop, it’s super handy.

TriTac Tactical EDC Penknife - $41.99; originally $69.99

They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but what if you could have both? This stainless steel blade and tungsten carbide window punch can handle all your on-the-spot cutting, all while housed in the body of a pen that can write in any conditions, even on wet paper. Read the rest

A "Live Laugh Love" sign but it's the nuclear waste warning message for future generations

Feb 28, 2020



— Katie Mummah (@nuclearkatie) February 27, 2020

Nuclear semiotics is the discipline of communicating the nature of radioactive waste to people who don't know what it is. How do we tell our distant descendants -- people 10,000 years from now -- to stay away from it? The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico studies the proposals, which include scary earthworks but also a disarming message (below) originally devised by Sandia Labs. These immortal words have been immanentized by Nuclear engineer and PhD student Katie Mummah as a "Live Laugh Love"-style sign.

This place is a message... and part of a system of messages... pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

This place is not a place of honor... no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here... nothing valued is here.

What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.

The danger is in a particular location... it increases towards a center... the center of danger is here... of a particular size and shape, and below us.

The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.

The danger is to the body, and it can kill.

The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.

The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

Read the rest

Trailer for Tales from the Loop

Feb 28, 2020


Simon Stålenhag's (previously at Boing Boing) unnerving blend of social realism, misty landscapes and alien technology is coming to TV in the form of a series based on Tales from the Loop. [via The Verge] Read the rest

Beach towel pulled from hungry snake

Feb 28, 2020


A Sydney veterinarian pulled an entire beach towel from the snake that ate it. The snake, Monty Python, an 18-year-old carpet python, is recovering; no word on the towel.

"A flexible endoscope was placed down Monty's gastrointestinal tract, which allowed us to visualise the end of the towel sitting in her stomach," Small Animal Specialist Hospital posted to Instagram. "With assistance from our internal medicine team, very long forceps were placed through the endoscope and used to grasp the towel." Read the rest

Quadruplet human kids get quadruplet lamb kids for their birthday

Feb 28, 2020


At least some things in the world are still adorable. From RTÉ:

The Kelly's have four boys who are just one day shy of their fifth birthday.

Now they have been gifted an early birthday present of quad lambs.

Quadruplet brothers in Co Offaly have met recent arrivals on their family farm - a set of lamb quads

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 27, 2020

Honestly the whole video is worth it just for the lambs running off at the end.

Quads on the double for Offaly farming family [Teresa Mannion / RTÉ]

Image: Public Domain via PxHere Read the rest

Every tech brand should be using a .tech domain

Feb 25, 2020


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

Serial rapist Harvey Weinstein remanded into custody: "He is no longer a free man"

Feb 25, 2020


[UPDATE: CNN reports "Harvey Weinstein was taken to New York's Bellevue Hospital Monday night after feeling chest pains and having heart palpitations and high blood pressure on his way to Rikers Island, his attorney Donna Rotunno said."]

Serial rapist Harvey Weinstein is behind bars, according to this NBC News report. The rapist did not take his walker with him. The rapist will be sentenced on March 11.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

A new blog post series exploring the history and import of cyberpunk launches on Adafruit

Feb 25, 2020


This morning, I launched a new series of posts that I'm going to be writing on Adafruit on the history of cyberpunk science fiction and how it has evolved, how it has influenced culture and technology, what it got right (and wrong) about the near future in its fictional speculations.

In 1992, I wrote a post on The Well BBS entitled “Is there a cyberpunk movement?” The post was an attempt at summarizing what cyberpunk was, both as a literary genre, and how its depictions of near-future worlds were imploding onto the present of early 90s high-tech nerd culture (hackers, gamers, industrial/electronic music, tech artists, and cyberpunk zine publishers).

Apparently, the post struck a nerve as it quickly spread beyond the confines of The Well, was dubbed a “cyberpunk manifesto,” and ended up in the pages of Mondo 2000 magazine, Rudy Rucker and Mondo 2000’s book The User’s Guide to the New Edge, and as lyrics on Billy Idol’s 1993 record, Cyberpunk (but those are all stories to be told here later in the series).

The text of my post is a little dated, but here’s the gist of what I was trying to encapsulate:

* In a cyberpunk world, global megacorporations are more powerful than governments. * Individual hackers and “high-tech low lifes” can wield disproportionate amounts of power within cyberspace and beyond. * The new “stage” for the human drama has shifted from the “real world” to a virtual one, one inside our networks and our minds. The new frontiers for human society–technology, art, culture, and warfare– have moved into cyberspace.

Read the rest

A rather different way to eat spaghetti

Feb 25, 2020


12,000 years of civilisation and humanity has only just invented the spaghetti bolognese

— James Felton (@JimMFelton) February 21, 2020

While the fellow above has impressive technique, we must recognize the great Buster Keaton who blazed the trail for all of us 100 years ago. From The Cook (1918):

Read the rest

What is "garbage language" and why is it so hard to avoid using?

Feb 24, 2020


Lawyers have their legalese. Academics have their own intra-academialogical post-linguistic theories. And it was only before the MBAs joined the fray with their own self-important syntax. If you've ever been in the sleek office setting of a start-up or some tech-savvy corporation, you've heard it. You may have even picked up on its tics to help you sound smarter, too; after all, that's how it works.

Molly Young has a great new piece at Vulture about this phenomenon, which she has coined "Garbage Language." Her article is full of insight not only into the ways that we do and don't communicate, but also how that reflects the other issues inherent in these kinds of office cultures:

[G]arbage language works because garbage is what we produce mindlessly in the course of our days and because it smells horrible and looks ugly and we don’t think about it except when we’re saying that it’s bad, as I am right now.

But unlike garbage, which we contain in wastebaskets and landfills, the hideous nature of these words — their facility to warp and impede communication — is also their purpose. Garbage language permeates the ways we think of our jobs and shapes our identities as workers. It is obvious that the point is concealment; it is less obvious what so many of us are trying to hide.


When we adopt words that connect us to a larger project — that simultaneously fold us into an institutional organism and insist on that institution’s worthiness — it is easier to pretend that our jobs are more interesting than they seem.

Read the rest

What we talk about when we don't talk about our salaries

Feb 24, 2020


Back in November, I shared a piece about the "Real Media Salaries Spreadsheet" that was started by one of my colleagues and publicized the incomes of more than a thousand people working in media.

Now the New York Times has published a great new piece about this movement, on the breakdown of the taboos around pay transparency:

Open discussions of pay lay bare some of the basic contradictions that govern so many workplaces, which claim to embrace their workers like family while insisting, all the while, on professionalism and discretion. They are communities whose members care about one another and yet also know that their respective right to belong is based on their utility, perceived or actual. To ask a co-worker her salary — especially one who has worked at an institution for years — opens up deeper, unsettling questions. How valued are you in this community? Are you more valued than I am, or beyond what I perceive as your worth? Or have you undervalued yourself, been timid, clueless, exploited?

The article does a fair job of approaching the issue from different differences, including the social and professional comfort involved with even trying to change the expectations around salary secrecy, and the actual data that reveals what happens when money matters are aired out in the open:

[U]sing data from a happiness survey that has been conducted in Norway since 1985 … Perez-Truglia found that the newfound accessibility of other people’s pay led to a significant increase in the happiness gap: Higher-income earners were happier than they were before the information was widely available, and lower-income workers were less happy.

Read the rest

Sing along to this peppy little ditty about the fundamentals of Alchemical processes

Feb 24, 2020


In some weird alternate fantasy universe, this song would to taught to school children so that they could memorize their Hermetic fundamentals.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

The bizarre 1976 Cat Stevens song and video, Banapple Gas

Feb 24, 2020


My friend Mark Casale and I were talking about Captain Beefheart last night (as we are often want to do) and were yucking it up over the surreal late-night TV commercial for the Beef's 1970 record, Lick My Decals Off, Baby (which I posted about last month).

This prompted Mark to ask me if I'd ever seen the bizarre promo video for Cat Steven's 1976 song, Banapple Gas. I'd never even heard of the song. It was a track on Steven's ninth studio record, Numbers. Numbers was composed as a concept album, subtitled "A Pythagorean Theory Tale."

[Numbers] was based on a fictional planet in a far-off galaxy named Polygor. The album included a booklet with excerpts from a planned book of the same name written by Chris Bryant and Allan Scott. The booklet features pen-and-ink illustrations drawn by Stevens.

The concept of the album is a fantastic spiritual musical which is set on the planet Polygor. In the story there is a castle with a number machine. This machine exists to fulfill the sole purpose of the planet – to disperse numbers to the rest of the universe: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 (but notably not 0). The nine inhabitants of Polygor, the Polygons, are Monad, Dupey, Trezlar, Cubis, Qizlo, Hexidor, Septo, Octav, and Novim. As the last lines of the book say, they "followed a life of routine that had existed for as long as any could remember. ... It was, therefore, all the more shocking when on an ordinary day things first started to go wrong."

Read the rest

Trump: 'Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA'

Feb 24, 2020


Well, that's good. We can all rest easy now.

Tweeted impeached and manifestly unfit U.S. President Donald Trump just now:

The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!



Previously today:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummetted more than 1,000 points as news of a spreading coronavirus outbreak suggests wider coming damage to the global economy.

These are literally the people in charge of our government’s response to #COVID19. This is a verified account, not a parody. He is the Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS. #TheBestPeople

— David Hobby (@strobist) February 24, 2020

Dow fell 1,032 points on Monday; worst day in 2 years.

— Dan Berman (@DHBerman) February 24, 2020

Trump eliminated a position called Senior Director of Global Health Security. That person used to work in the NSC to coordinate responses to global health emergencies and potential pandemics.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 24, 2020

FYI: This map from ⁦⁦@JHUSystems⁩ is 100% free to use to track the spread of #NovelCoronavirus #COVIDー19 worldwide. Just in case that comes up...

— Laura Santhanam (@LauraSanthanam) February 24, 2020

For weeks I’ve been saying that WH “happy talk” on #COVIDー19 #Coronarivus would keep up the markets for only so long; happy tweets can’t stop the virus: only a well run and sharp response can

Read the rest

Dow drops 1,000 over Coronavirus

Feb 24, 2020


The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummetted more than 1,000 points as news of a spreading coronavirus outbreak suggests wider coming damage to the global economy.

Today's stock market drop was the worst for the Dow in two years, and wiped out all gains so far in 2020.

From AP:

Nervous investors scrambled for safety, loading up on gold, U.S. government bonds and other safe-harbor assets. The price of oil fell sharply on expectations that demand for energy would tumble. The Dow lost 1,031 points, or 3.6%, to 27,960. The S&P 500 fell 111, or 3.4%, to 3,225. The Nasdaq fell 355, or 3.7%, to 9,221.

(...) Technology companies were among the worst hit by the sell-off. Apple, which depends on China for a lot of business, slid 3.4%. Microsoft dropped 2.6%. Banks were also big losers. JPMorgan Chase fell 2.1% and Bank of America slid 4.4%.

Related Boing Boing posts from earlier today:

How coronavirus impacts climate change and the US housing marketThe stock market is plunging today, but two things are up: the price of gold, and weed use among seniors Read the rest

‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Italy shoot stopped over Coronavirus

Feb 24, 2020


Italy today confirmed over 150 cases of the disease.

Italy coronavirus death toll now 7, WHO says COVID-19 not pandemic yet

Feb 24, 2020


Italy coronavirus deaths now stand at 7, with 220 people infected. Italian villages are now on lockdown in Europe's worst flare-up of COVID-19.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today says word “pandemic” does not yet fit the facts.

“We must focus on containment while preparing for a potential pandemic,” he told reporters in Geneva, and says the world is not yet seeing an uncontained spread or large-scale deaths.

The epidemic in China peaked between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2 and has been declining since, the WHO said.

Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, told reporters it was still possible to contain the virus and that it might appear each year like the flu.

“The virus may settle down into an endemic pattern of transmission, into a seasonal pattern of transmission, or it could accelerate into a full-blown global pandemic,” he said in Geneva on Monday. “And at this point, it is not possible to say which of those realities is going to happen.”

The outbreak has spread beyond China's Hubei province to at least 29 countries or territories, with two dozen confirmed deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Read more: Coronavirus kills seventh person in Italy, pandemic fears grip Wall Street [reuters]

If true, this revelation by Conte ("mismanagement of security 'protocols' in one hospital") can maybe justify the astonishing outbreak and rapid death toll of #Coronavirus in Northern Italy. Hospitals and GPs surgeries are the perfect scenarios for the virus to spread (and kill).

— Antonello Guerrera (@antoguerrera) February 24, 2020

Coronavirus halts 'Mission: Impossible 7' filming in Venice, Italy

Read the rest

This fan looks amazing in your home and could save you hundreds in AC costs later this year

Feb 24, 2020


As you shiver your way through February, you’re probably thinking about paying your heating bill. But in just a few short months, the summer sun is going to come calling — and the fear of pulling that energy bill out of your mailbox will start becoming very, very real.

Air conditioning accounts for about an eighth of a U.S. home’s total household energy costs, which translates to hundreds of dollars a year. Instead, invest now in driving those monthly bills down this summer with a Star Tripod 16-inch Stand Fan, now almost $100 off its regular price.

And no, this isn’t one of those cheap plastic air-swirlers you’d buy at Walmart that sounds like it could rattle apart at any minute.

This Star fan is solid construction, top to bottom. A full-metal, 120-volt, 60-watt fan built from die-cast parts, this is heavy-duty industrial-style equipment made to survive for the long haul.

The 3-speed oscillating head spreads cool air throughout the space with adjustable height and tilt from atop the well-balanced, 3-pronged hardwood legs. Standing up to 58 inches tall, the legs give this model a vintage, classic look that makes it just as style conscious as it is energy conscious.

Available in Matte Black or Satin Nickel finishes, you can get the Star Tripod Stand Fan now for $90 off its retail price, just $359.99. Read the rest

Bear that strolled through CA neighborhood is back in forest where he belongs

Feb 24, 2020


The large black bear in this video was observed ambling around a Monrovia, California neighborhood last Friday morning. The bear walked through residential lawns, driveways and rested in a nearby alley.

The Monrovia Police Department says officers observed the bear's activities, after people phoned in, and called state Department of Fish and Wildlife workers to the neighborhood.

From the Associated Press:

The bear was eventually tranquilized and taken to the nearest suitable forest habitat, said Tim Daly, a Fish and Wildlife spokesman. “One of our guys out on the scene described the bear as huge — about 400 pounds (181 kilograms) — female and older,” Daly said. “In the bear world, she would be described as elderly.”

The bear was otherwise fine, he said.

“It’s a little alarming how close and comfortable people were getting up next to this bear, but there were no incidents, so we’re happy about that,” he added. It was believed to be the same bear seen a day earlier in Monrovia, where it’s not uncommon for animals to wander out of the sprawling Angeles National Forest above the city.

Monrovia sits at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, and when the weather warms up the big mammals tend to come down and look for food each year, according to the Monrovia city bear safety page.

More: Bear takes stroll through California neighborhood (Feb. 21, YouTube) Read the rest

Gentleman drives Jeep off 6-story parking garage roof in Santa Monica

Feb 24, 2020


📷 Santa Monica Fire Department, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020: A vehicle that plunged into the sidewalk in Santa Monica, California.

A man was hospitalized after he drove his Jeep off the the 6th floor of a parking garage in Santa Monica, California.

First responders found the smashed Jeep up against a McDonald's that sits across the street from the public parking structure.

The driver, 20 years old, was conscious and speaking with officers when they arrived.

He was transported in critical condition.

Fire officials say two passengers inside the Jeep were able to jump out before it went off the roof.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

(via AP) Read the rest

I'm pretty sure this British cell phone commercial is actually an invasion of pricks

Feb 24, 2020


I was watching "Love Island" live on ITV2 the other day (don't judge) when this bizarre commercial flashed across the screen.

I live in the States, so I don't usually watch British television as it airs. I have no idea what the usual commercial content looks like. But apparently this Uncanny Valley Of Penis Fingers has been in circulation for about a year and a half. British television has always been less prude than American shows, but I still have to wonder how effective this advertising campaign has been to run for that long, and in such a prime slot. Maybe Vodafone just found the trick to profit off a sea of dicks. Read the rest

Eyeless dolphin-like creature washes ashore in Mexico

Feb 24, 2020


Aparece extraña criatura en playas mexicanas

— Revista Bohemia (@bohemiaonline) February 13, 2020

Vaguely-sourced and the toast of British tabloids, this unfortunate creature reportedly washed ashore on the beach at Destiladeras, Mexico. It has a dolphin-like head, but no eyes and a large eel-like body.

Local media confirmed that no one had been able to identify the strange animal, but there were also no reports in the media suggesting that it was a fake.

I love that they "confirmed" no-one knows anything about it. Read the rest

A visit to the world's oldest surviving video rental store

Feb 24, 2020


Twentieth Century Flicks is the world's oldest surviving video rental store. The offer 20,000 films (yes, many on VHS too) and even have screening rooms. This shop embodies much of what I miss about how I experienced media growing up before the dark times... Before the modern Web.

Be kind, rewind.

Directed by Arthur Cauty.

Previously on Boing Boing:

• "Only one Blockbuster Video Store left standing"

Read the rest

Crossbow killer exposed by car telematics

Feb 24, 2020


Gerald Corrigan, 74, went outside his house at midnight to check his satellite dish after the TV signal failed. It was a trap: he was shot in the dark with a crossbow bolt, which punctured internal organs and led to his death three weeks later from sepsis. His killer was Terence Whall, 39, convicted today of Corrigan's murder.

Police suspected Whall, a local with a crossbow collection, but had no evidence to tie him to the crime. How was he caught? His partner's car was mysteriously torched, which led police to contact its manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, which sent them its backed-up telematics records.

The vehicle was driven to Corrigan's house the day before the killing, then to a nearby beach, then back to Whall's residence. On the day itself, the car was driven to the beach an hour before the attack. It was next started about 12 minutes after it.

The system recorded the trunk being opened and closed twice, before and after Corrigan was shot.

Image: Family photo (handout) / Crown Prosecution Service Read the rest

Olive Oil in 'Mediterranean diet,' not so much red wine, linked to longer lifespan in new study

Feb 24, 2020


Researchers discover a potential new way in which diet influences aging-related diseases.

A great, non-intimidating way to get started in miniature-based Dungeons & Dragons

Feb 24, 2020


A lot of roleplaying gamers who are used to playing in "theater of the mind" mode (with nothing more than pencil, paper, dice, and vivid imaginations) are often intimidated by the idea of switching over to miniatures and terrain-based gaming. The idea of acquiring and painting the minis, building a gaming board, and making a bunch of terrain and props can be an overwhelming prospect. All of this "dungeon crafting" really is a hobby unto itself for many of us [raises hand].

So, I really like these projects on Dungeon Craft. Basically, you build a stone floor on top of a lazy Susan using insulation foam and some simple walls, doors, and other dungeon furnishings (also out of foam). Your main tool is a gel pen that you use to simply draw/carve the stones into the foam.

You don't need to create a complete dungeons and all of the furnishings to do mini-based RPGs. All you need is this little, moveable theater-in-the-round stage that you can change up with each encounter you're looking to represent to your players.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Incredible slo-mo video of raptors flying through bubble clouds... for science

Feb 24, 2020


How does an owl's tail help it fly? To better see the role of the tail in raptor aerodynamics, researchers at the UK's Royal Veterinary College recorded birds of prey flying through clouds of tiny helium bubbles. According to the science journal Nature, analyzing the swirling motion of the bubbles enabled the scientists to discover "a new way in which birds use their tail to provide lift and so reduce drag while gliding... Their findings could provide a new way to improve the efficiency of small gliding aircraft."

More: "High aerodynamic lift from the tail reduces drag in gliding raptors" (Journal of Experimental Biology)

Read the rest

Baby Yoda has finally jumped the s̶h̶a̶r̶k̶ tank, thanks to the U.S. Army

Feb 24, 2020


Baby Yoda brought the internet together, its adorableness somehow overpowering the divisive animosity that has otherwise ruled over this pre-post-apocalyptic era.

And now the Army's branded the Child onto the cannon of an M1 Abrams tank.

You can re-appropriate the Punisher all you'd like, but please leave our sweet Baby Yoda out of it. In the famous words of Baby Yoda's older counterpart, "Wars not make one great."

We salute the Army crew that named their tank 'Baby Yoda' [Jared Keller / Task and Purpose]

Image: U.S. Army by PFC. Daniel Alkana Read the rest

Katherine Johnson, pioneering NASA mathematician portrayed in "Hidden Figures," RIP

Feb 24, 2020


The great Katherine Johnson, one of the legendary African-American mathematicians who were essential to the Apollo 11 moon landing, has died at age 101. You'll recall that Johnson, who worked at NASA’s Flight Research Division for more than three decades, was the central character in the film Hidden Figures. From the New York Times:

Mrs. Johnson was one of several hundred rigorously educated, supremely capable yet largely unheralded women who, well before the modern feminist movement, worked as NASA mathematicians.

But it was not only her sex that kept her long marginalized and long unsung: Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, a West Virginia native who began her scientific career in the age of Jim Crow, was also African-American.

In old age, Mrs. Johnson became the most celebrated of the small cadre of black women — perhaps three dozen — who at midcentury served as mathematicians for the space agency and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, proclaiming, “Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”

In 2017, NASA dedicated a building in her honor, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

More: Katherine Johnson (NASA)

Read the rest

Watch: porch pirate busted in police sting

Feb 24, 2020


In balmy Edmonton, a woman was arrested for liberating a package from a front porch. Watch the exciting police action on YouTube!

Image: YouTube Read the rest

More fun mortuary history with Caitlin Doughty

Feb 24, 2020


Since my post about dead babies wearing other babies' skulls as hats went over so well, I thought I'd share several more videos from my favorite funeral director and "death enthusiast," Caitlin Doughty.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

How coronavirus impacts climate change and the US housing market

Feb 24, 2020


I'm a big fan of Spotify's Daily Drive playlist, which is basically just Algorithmic Radio that delivers a custom mix of news and music based on my listening habits. That's how I ended listening to a podcast briefing from MarketWatch, warning about the negative impact that coronavirus is having on the luxury real estate market in the United States.

Local realtors in big cities like New York and San Francisco depend heavily on foreign investors (20 percent of whom are Chinese nationals) to buy up their inventory of recently-constructed overpriced luxury condos. And then those apartments just … kind of … sit there vacant, increasing the demand for housing and causing property values to rise, forcing out working-class families who can't afford to live in that (again, largely unoccupied) area, which spreads out the range of the greater metro areas, increasing commuter congestion and creating more opportunities for real estate investors to build more luxury condos in more remote areas to accommodate this artificially-inflated demand, which continues to be good for people who work in real estate and for foreign investors but for absolutely nobody else.

Except now, those foreign investors aren’t buying up properties as quickly as they used to, because they can't travel to the States to close the deal. And that's bad. For the economy, I mean. Or at least, for the handful of people who have been fortunate enough to profit while everyone else is slapped with higher rents and longer commutes.

But this information was of course presented with no sympathy for those who are affected by coronavirus, or by the housing crisis. Read the rest

The stock market is plunging today, but two things are up: the price of gold, and weed use among seniors

Feb 24, 2020


As of 12:35pm ET, the Dow Jones index is down nearly 1,000 points, due mainly to uncertainty about how Covid-15 will affect international trade. To balance the decline, here are two things that are going up: Gold, which is at at 7-year high, and seniors, who getting higher than ever.

From CNBC: "Spot gold climbed 2.1% at $1,677.24 per ounce. The session high, $1,688.66, was its highest since January 2013. U.S. gold futures jumped 2.2% to $1,684.30."

From CNN: "The numbers of American seniors over age 65 who now smoke marijuana or use edibles increased two-fold between 2015 and 2018, according to research published Monday in JAMA."


Images: Weed, CC0 Public Domain; Joyful elf, CC0 Public Domain. Read the rest

Imagining dates with all of the presidential candidates

Feb 24, 2020


I found this thread on Twitter pretty funny, where writer Nicole Najafi imagines what dates might be like with all of the Democratic candidates.

I went on a date with every presidential candidate so you don't have to. (thread 1/9)

— Nicole Najafi (@NicoleNajafi) February 22, 2020

— Nicole Najafi (@NicoleNajafi) February 22, 2020

— Nicole Najafi (@NicoleNajafi) February 22, 2020

— Nicole Najafi (@NicoleNajafi) February 22, 2020

Image: Public Domain Read the rest

Images from inside Hyundai's capsized cargo ship of waterlogged cars and trucks

Feb 24, 2020


Back in September, a Hyundai Glovis cargo ship capsized off the coast of Georgia. The 665-foot ship, called the Golden Ray, tipped over in St. Simons Sound, Georgia but fortunately every crew member was rescued. The ship was holding around 4,000 US-made automobiles that are now quite waterlogged. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and other organizations are orchestrating environmental protection measures and disassembling the vessel to remove it in pieces via barge. This week, the St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Company will begin constructing an "environmental protection barrier" that includes "large floating containment barrier to help contain surface pollutants, as well as large netting to contain subsurface debris."

The Unified Command used LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to create 3D images of inaccessible areas inside the vessel.

Follow the situation here: St. Simons Sound Response

image: Georgia Department of Natural Resources (photo release) Read the rest

Google hit with new federal investigation over pregnant employee who claims discrimination

Feb 20, 2020


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has opened an investigation into a former Google employee’s pregnancy discrimination case, CNBC reports.

Chelsey Glasson worked as a former user experience researcher with Alphabet’s Google for five years. She wrote an internal memo that went viral in the summer of 2019 called “I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why.”

This newest investigation adds to a growing pile.

Google is facing a number of federal probes and widespread employee dissent, reports Jennifer Elias for CNBC:

In [“I’m Not Returning to Google After Maternity Leave, and Here is Why”], she alleged her supervisor made discriminatory remarks about pregnant women. She also claimed that the company retaliated against her with poor performance ratings and unfairly denied her a leadership position.

Glasson told CNBC in December that Google’s human resources department did not investigate her complaint until after she hired an attorney, adding that she was never interviewed by HR before Google said it did not find her claims credible. At the time, Google didn’t respond to requests for comment. Glasson filed a complaint with the EEOC late last year with the allegations, which had more detail, including that one of the alleged supervisors was on the Google Cloud team.

The company responded to the EEOC complaint in January, saying it found no evidence of discrimination and that it didn’t make Glasson a manager due to insufficient headcount, according to materials viewed by CNBC.

The agency transferred Glasson’s case to the EEOC’s investigation division Wednesday, where the Seattle field office will take it on.

Read the rest

Google users in UK will soon lose EU data protection: Report

Feb 20, 2020


Post-Brexit, Google plans to move UK user accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, and will place them under U.S. jurisdiction instead, where privacy protections are weaker, reports Joseph Menn at Reuters.


The shift, prompted by Britain’s exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement. The change was described to Reuters by three people familiar with its plans. Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction.

Ireland, where Google and other U.S. tech companies have their European headquarters, is staying in the EU, which has one of the world’s most aggressive data protection rules, the General Data Protection Regulation.

Google has decided to move its British users out of Irish jurisdiction because it is unclear whether Britain will follow GDPR or adopt other rules that could affect the handling of user data, the people said.

Read more: Exclusive: Google users in UK to lose EU data protection - sources

.@google never has to follow any government regulations because they are more powerful than any government.

Good luck, UK.

— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) February 19, 2020

“The shift, prompted by Britain’s exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement.”

— blmohr (@blmohr) February 19, 2020

Sure, we lose data protection but BLUE PASSPORTS!

Read the rest

Federal court rules that Scott Pruitt’s sham EPA can’t ban scientists from its scientific advisory board

Feb 20, 2020


Back in 2017, the new EPA Director Scott Pruitt -- a fantastically pampered shill for corporations whose income is proportional to the noxious effluvia they eject into our air, soil, and water -- passed a policy barring scientists from participating on the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board if they had ever received a grant from the EPA.

This sneaky-clever move was clearly designed to create the illusion that it was “draining the swamp” by preventing any potential conflicts of interest between scientists and money. Except that most academic scientists rely on EPA (and other) grants. Which limited the pot of scientific advisors on the scientific advisory board to scientists who worked for corporations. Who … somehow … didn’t have any conflicts of interest between their money and their science?

It was, as the NRDC put it, a “pernicious scheme to stack the deck in favor of big polluters by trying to shut out the voices of scientists—all to pump more pollution into our lives.” They added:

Pruitt claimed that his 2017 directive reduced bias on the EPA’s nearly two dozen advisory panels, which offer scientific expertise that then guide policy decisions on environmental pollutants, such as industrial chemicals or airborne particles from power plants. But unsurprisingly, Pruitt’s rule was not extended to scientists and consultants with ties to chemical or fossil fuel companies, allowing the agency to soon fill some open seats with industry insiders who disputed the known harm of pollutants, like ozone and PFOA.

Fortunately, Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. Read the rest

Getting to know 2015 TG 387, aka "the Goblin," an unconfirmed dwarf planet lurking in the Ort cloud

Feb 20, 2020


Have you heard of the Goblin? It's a likely dwarf-sized planet named that because it was discovered around Halloween, 2015. The Goblin travels in a 32-thousand-year orbit around our sun. It is currently 7.5 billion miles away, somewhere in the mysterious Oort Cloud area of the solar system. The Goblin is one of the farthest known objects within our solar system.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

MGM Resorts data breach exposes 10.6M+ guests' info, Jack Dorsey included, home addresses and birthdates

Feb 20, 2020


Personal information for more than 10 million former guests of MGM resorts has been posted on a hacking forum. Among the notable data breach victims: Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey. The leaked data includes home addresses, and is said to only affect guests who stayed at the hotel chain's properties before 2018.

MGM Resorts says the security incident took place in the summer of 2019, and that impacted guests were told last year. Catalin Cimpanu reporting for ZDNet:

According to our analysis, the MGM data dump that was shared today contains personal details for 10,683,188 former hotel guests.

Included in the leaked files are personal details such as full names, home addresses, phone numbers, emails, and dates of birth.

ZDNet reached out to past guests and confirmed they stayed at the hotel, along with their timeline, and the accuracy of the data included in the leaked files.

We got confirmation from international business travelers, reporters attending tech conferences, CEOs attending business meetings, and government officials traveling to Las Vegas branches.

MGM told ZDNet:

"Last summer, we discovered unauthorized access to a cloud server that contained a limited amount of information for certain previous guests of MGM Resorts,"

"We are confident that no financial, payment card or password data was involved in this matter."

Read more: Exclusive: Details of 10.6 million of MGM hotel guests posted on a hacking forum

[via, Catalin Cimpanu for Zero Day | February 19, 2020 -- 23:27 GMT] Read the rest

Deadly shooting in Hanau Germany leaves 8+ dead, 5+ wounded

Feb 19, 2020


News organizations in Germany are reporting at this hour that an estimated 8 people are dead and at least 5 more injured following a mass shooting in Hanau, Germany.

At the time of this blog post, reports indicate the gunmen are still at large.

Reports indicate that the shooting(s) took place neat at least one hookah (shisha) bar, and a second location. This is a breaking news story, and will change as more information is confirmed by authorities.

Here is the original report at BILD.

Below, the earliest, possibly original source videos I could find on Twitter, plus early news reports from verified sources.

Schüsse in #Hanau und leider auch Tote. Ob im folgenden Video der Täter gefasst wurde, kann ich nicht sagen. Folgendes Video wurde oft geteilt. Stay safe

— Didar☀️ (@Didar_____) February 19, 2020

part 2

— Didar☀️ (@Didar_____) February 19, 2020

part 3,andere Perspektive. #Hanau. mutmaß. Täter womöglich gefasst. Alles boch Spekulation. Kraft denen, die heut Abend Freunde oder Verwsndte verloren haben.

— Didar☀️ (@Didar_____) February 19, 2020

die mutmaßlichen täter wurden in lamboy festgenommen

ein freund bzw bekannter den ich seit meiner kindheit kenne ist unter den todesopfern

bin erstmal weg. #hanau

(video nicht von mir, quelle unbekannt)

— denerfun (@dnerfunboss) February 19, 2020

Es gab offenbar eine Festnahme nach den Schüssen in #Hanau. Ob dies der Täter war, ist nicht bekannt. (Dieses Video ist wahrscheinlich keine Primärquelle, sondern nur ein Repost)

— Jan-Henrik Wiebe (@jan_wiebe) February 19, 2020

Tatverdächtiger flüchtig - Mehrere Tote nach Schüssen in Hanau!

Read the rest

E. Jean Carroll fired from ELLE magazine after Trump rape allegation, readers call for #NoWayinElle boycott

Feb 19, 2020


E. Jean Carroll, who has written an advice column at ELLE magazine for three decades, and last year accused President Donald Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s, today said she was fired from her longtime editorial position as a direct result of Trump's public debasement of her character.

“Because Trump ridiculed my reputation, laughed at my looks, & dragged me through the mud, after 26 years, ELLE fired me,” Carroll wrote on Twitter. “I don’t blame Elle. It was the great honor of my life writing ‘Ask E. Jean.’”

Trump denies her rape accusation, as he has with all the other countless sexual discrimination, harassment, and abuse allegations, over these many decades.

From NBC News:

Carroll's announcement of her termination from ELLE follows her lawyers' move to block a request from Trump that her suit be delayed.

“Our client filed this lawsuit to prove that Donald Trump lied about sexually assaulting her and to restore her credibility and reputation. From the very beginning, Trump has tried every tactic lawyers can think of to halt this case in its tracks and keep the truth from coming out," wrote Kaplan in a statement. "His latest effort — a motion to stay our client’s case until the New York Court of Appeals decides the Summer Zervos case likely after November 2020 — is yet another obvious delay tactic that is not grounded in the law and, like his previous attempts to stall this case, will be rejected by the court.”

Read the rest

Larry Tesler, the father of cut, copy, paste, has died

Feb 19, 2020


Larry Tesler, the Xerox PARC computer scientist who coined the terms cut, copy, and paste, has died.

Born in 1945 in New York, Tesler went on to study computer science at Stanford University, and after graduation he dabbled in artificial intelligence research (long before it became a deeply concerning tool) and became involved in the anti-war and anti-corporate monopoly movements, with companies like IBM as one of his deserving targets. In 1973 Tesler took a job at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he worked until 1980. Xerox PARC is famously known for developing the mouse-driven graphical user interface we now all take for granted, and during his time at the lab Tesler worked with Tim Mott to create a word processor called Gypsy that is best known for coining the terms “cut,” “copy,” and “paste” when it comes to commands for removing, duplicating, or repositioning chunks of text.

Read the rest of his obit on Gizmodo.

[H/t Jim Leftwich]

Image: Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, California, USA - Larry Tesler Smiles at Whisper, CC BY 2.0, Link Read the rest

Russian soldier proposes with 16 tanks in the shape of a heart on Valentine's Day

Feb 19, 2020


Alexandra Kopytova accepted the proposal at the barrel of a gun. Or 16 guns, technically, which were attached to a fleet of T-72B3 Soviet Battle Tanks that her now-fiance, Lieutenant Denis Kazantsev, brought in as part of an elaborate military maneuvering drill to ask his beloved's hand in marriage. From RT (because of course it's from RT):

Though Valentine’s Day is not really a Russian tradition, the spirit of the day was not lost on Kazantsev’s commanders, who gave the go-ahead for the mission at the Alabino testing grounds, southwest of Moscow. On Thursday morning, 16 tanks rolled onto the range for a maneuvering drill in which they formed two columns and lined up in a heart formation.

The mission’s success, however, hinged on the approval of one person who was neither a major nor a general. With her eyes covered, 19-year-old Alexandra was led into the middle of the formation by Denis, 23. When she opened her eyes, she saw Kazantsev kneeling with a bouquet of red roses.

"I postponed the proposal for about one month to organise all this so it would be unforgettable, once in a lifetime," Kazantsev told the Daily Mail. "It was not easy but with time my commanders agreed to let me do this."

This awkwardly-sweet-in-a-distinctly-Russian-way fairytale gets even weirder when you realize that Koptyova and Kazantsev were … actually already married. He had previously proposed on New Year's Eve 2017, at a time when they were living in separate cities, and got to enjoy a whole two weeks of marriage in St. Read the rest

What it's like inside the CIA during Donald Trump's "Deep State" purge

Feb 19, 2020


One of the strangest contradictory sensations of the Trump era is the man's relationship towards and with the various U.S. intelligence agencies. In many cases, Trump's broad criticisms about the unaccountable and seemingly limitless scope of intelligence gathering are valid. Or would be, anyway, if the man actually cared about those issues for any reason beyond his larger tantrum over the way those agencies have undermined his ego. Or if he wasn't simultaneously trying to use that same wide jurisdiction to target his own political enemies.

In other words, Trump's not necessarily wrong about the potential abuses of secret and/or warrantless surveillance (or "wiretapping" as he puts it). But he's only mad about those things because they can be used to threaten him and his friends, instead of reinforcing his hunches. Otherwise, illegal spying and invasions of privacy are totally fine with him—as long as they target the right people.

There are moments, then, where it becomes a case of "My enemy's enemy is my friend" — except that "friend" is also an enemy of sorts, which further complicates the whole mess. Case in point: this recent Just Security post by Douglas London, a former CIA operative. In it, London talks about the way that the CIA's priorities have been forced to shift from general intelligence gathering to just kind of soothing Trump's ego, and retroactively justifying all of the man's random baseless instincts:

The revealing and most disconcerting aspect of this episode was not that Pompeo presumed the worst from his workforce before getting the full story, nor his vicious dressing down of a dedicated senior official and decorated officer.

Read the rest

New York fashion school apologizes for racist catwalk face mask

Feb 19, 2020


The Fashion Institute of Technology has apologized for a "clearly racist" show where a black model was asked to wear giant red lips and black plastic ears. The model refused, but white colleages were photographed on the catwalk wearing the bizarre prostheses. The college's president is not sure if there was an explicitly racial comment being made, but is looking into it, reports the BBC:

"Currently," its president Joyce F Brown said in a statement, "it does not appear that the original intent of the design, the use of accessories or the creative direction of the show was to make a statement about race.

"However, it is now glaringly obvious that has been the outcome. For that, we apologise - to those who participated in the show, to students, and to anybody who has been offended by what they saw."

Amy Lefevre, the model who declined, talked to the New York Post and shared a test shot (above) taken before the show in which she wore the accessories.

“I stood there almost ready to break down, telling the staff that I felt incredibly uncomfortable with having to wear these pieces and that they were clearly racist,” Amy Lefevre, 25, told The Post.

“I was told that it was fine to feel uncomfortable for only 45 seconds.”

The designer, Junkai Huang, is reportedly "from China" and unaware of the racial connotations of the mask. Richard Thornn, the producer of the show, is reported to have "screamed" at a student who objected before the show and has more explaining to do. Read the rest

This training can help make 2020 the year you get working as a professional copywriter

Feb 19, 2020


For those with a writing flair, the thought of building a career as a professional copywriter should probably have some appeal. Thankfully, it’s also an in-demand job skill with the average copywriter making a healthy $60,000 a year for their efforts.

But even if you have a way with words, you still need the industry training and background to get hired or even to start up your own thing as a freelance copy pro.

Either way you choose, the training found in The 2020 Complete Digital Copywriting Master Class Bundle ($38.99, over 90 percent off) can help you get there, even if you’ve got no previous experience with how the whole business works.

The package features 11 courses that can take the first-time copywriting student and begin building up your skills and knowledge to take on the pros.

It all begins with The Business Writing Course, where 30-year content writer Alan Sharpe shows students the basics of the copywriting game. That training expands into greater depth with the 3-part Copywriting for Beginners courses, as students learn the seven vital questions surrounding any copywriting project, how to use headlines and openers to great effect, and the right buttons to push to persuade all manner of audiences to join your cause.

In addition to training in crafting persuasive and profitable digital sales pages, there are also deep examinations on the 10 most common mistakes made by new copywriters as well as the biggest takeaways that still resonate today from one the “best ad campaign of all time,” the powerful 1960s and 1970s Volkswagen newspaper ads. Read the rest

A good solar powered LED illuminated street address sign

Feb 19, 2020


I bought this solar powered LED illuminated street address sign earlier this month and am really happy with it. The light is is bright and makes it easy for people to find our house. It comes with several sheets of adhesive numbers that you stick onto a white plastic panel. It also comes with mounting screws, but I attached it to the side of a metal mailbox so I used outdoor mounting tape instead. My address has five numbers and I had no problem fitting them on the panel, using the included cardboard placement template.

I paid full price for it, but the seller has a code 5UZYEDUV to let you buy it at a good discount. Read the rest

This electronic ultrasonic bug and rat repellent device has a circuit to light LEDs, but nothing else

Feb 19, 2020


This "ultrasonic" pest repellent just has circuit to control LEDs inside from r/assholedesign

This Adtala ultrasonic bug and rat repellent device is advertised as having an "Upgraded Smart Chip." Reddit user SoggyMonsoon opened the case and found a circuit with 2 LEDS, 2 diodes, and three resistors, but no Upgraded Smart Chip. Does it even emit an ultrasonic tone? A commenter said: "this circuit WOULD emit ultrasonic sound. It looks like it would oscillate between the lights. Of course it would be extremely quiet since there is no amplification circuit here to the point that I highly doubt any living thing would be affected by it, but this circuit would in fact make 2 different pitches based on the light that was currently on / diodes in use. All electric circuits have a frequency. So along those lines any electronic device would be about as effective as this thing."

Below, a video of a test with a Bell and Howell Ultrasonic Rodent Repeller. It didn't work. In fact, rats seem to be attracted to it:

Image: Reddit Read the rest

Powerful Iwo Jima WWII footage shot by marines in combat and never seen publicly

Feb 19, 2020


Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:

From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....

Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.

Read the rest

Armored vehicle almost flattens a bunch of people

Feb 19, 2020


News 24 reports that "No SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members were injured after a Rooikat light armoured vehicle hit a fence during a practice run ahead of the annual Armed Forces Day commemorations in Polokwane on Monday."

Image: News24/YouTube Read the rest

Trump offered Assange pardon in exchange for covering up Russian DNC hack, says lawyer

Feb 19, 2020


Julian Assange's lawyer told a London court that Trump offered to pardon the WikiLeaks founder if he agreed to say Russia was not involved in the Democratic National Committee email hack, reports The Daily Beast.

Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, said Wednesday that a message had been passed on to Assange by former Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Fitzgerald said a statement produced by Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, showed “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange... said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.”

Image by Espen Moe - originally posted to Flickr as IMG_4739, CC BY 2.0, Link Read the rest

Neural network turns 24 fps videos into smooth, clear 60 fps

Feb 19, 2020


The latest episode of Two Minute Papers discusses a new video enhancement method called "Depth-Aware Video Frame Interpolation" to increase the frame rate of choppy videos. The breakthrough here is the way this neural network smoothly handles objects that appear from behind other objects.

Image: YouTube/Two Minute Papers Read the rest

Man performs CPR on gecko floating in his beer

Feb 19, 2020


A fellow named Brett, aka "Slab," was having a beer with his buddies at the the Amble Inn in Corindi Beach, New South Wales, Australia, when he noticed a gecko in his mug. The gecko wasn't moving so Slab sprang into action, as seen in the video above.

Yes, geckos do sometimes play dead as a defense mechanism. But either way, good on ya, Slab!

( Read the rest

Video of a cool old Tokyo neighborhood slated for redevelopment

Feb 19, 2020


One of my favorite YouTube channels is Nippon Wandering TV, in which a guy walks and bikes around Japanese streets with a GoPro camera. In his latest video he bikes around Keisei Tateishi station in northeast Tokyo. and takes a look at an old neighborhood that is going to be plowed to make way for redevelopment. "Tokyo plans to redevelop this neighborhood and the retro street, old hidden bar izakaya will be all gone in the near future," he writes. "I miss these old alleys, but it can’t be avoided."

Image: YouTube/Nippon Wandering TV Read the rest

Gentleman on EasyJet flight began eating his phone, forced landing

Feb 19, 2020


A gentleman on an easyJet flight from Manchester to Iceland apparently began disassembling and chewing up parts of his mobile phone, causing the battery to smoke and alarming passengers. Prior to this snack, Matthew Flaherty, 44, was simply acting like a drunk asshole violently threatening passengers and crew. The pilot diverted the plane to Edinburgh Aiport. Upon Flaherty's arrest, he screamed racist remarks to the police. The incident happened last year and Flaherty was just in court to face the music. From The Scotsman:

Solicitor Richard Souter, defending, said his client was “aghast at his behaviour” on the flight and had little recollection of the events due to mixing alcohol with painkillers he had taken for a trapped nerve.

Mr Souter said the combination of medication and alcohol had “an adverse effect on his behaviour”.

Sheriff Thomas Welsh QC said Flaherty had carried out an “extremely serious offence” and deferred sentence to next month for the preparation of reports.

The sheriff added: “This is an extremely serious case and you should prepare yourself for custody.”

image credit: Adrian Pingstone (public domain) Read the rest

This sleazy Amazon marketplace seller offers $10 gift cards for 5-star reviews

Feb 19, 2020


The LockPickingLawyer, who runs a YouTube Channel about recreational lockpicking, bought a Mofut Key Lock Box. Inside the box was a card offering $10 in the form of a gift card or cash via PayPal, in exchange for a 5-star review, which is a clear violation of Amazon's terms of service for sellers. The card even says, "Please DO NOT talk or post images about this rebate activity in your review content, otherwise it is invalid."

"To be clear," writes the LockPickingLawyer, "I’m not suggesting that Amazon is complicit in this review-buying nonsense. To the contrary, it seems to violate Amazon’s rules. As best as I can tell, this is the product of an unethical third-party seller."

Also, he shows how easy it is to defeat this lockbox with a thin metal shim. It looks like junk. Read the rest

Someone has been dumping bundles of live snakes in pillowcases outside this UK firestation

Feb 19, 2020


Someone has been depositing pillowcases filled with live snakes outside of a fire station in Sunderland, northeast England. Last week, 13 pythons turned up and one has since died. The latest collection included 15 corn snakes and a carpet python. Fortunately, those snakes seem to be in decent health, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). From CNN:

"We were in the midst of Storm Dennis at the weekend when these snakes, who need heat and light in order to survive, were left outside in the cold with just a pillowcase to contain them," said (RSPCA inspector Heidi) Cleaver. "It would have been very stressful for the snakes to be in such close proximity to each other as well..."

The RSPCA has appealed for information about the mystery surrounding the snakes being repeatedly dumped in the area.

images: RSPCA Read the rest

SpaceX and Space Adventures offer tourist trips to orbit

Feb 19, 2020


SpaceX and Space Adventures have partnered to offer space tourists a trip to orbit on the SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule. They expect the first flight to launch in late 2021 or early 2022. Around $50 million will get you a seat. From Spaceflight Now:

The mission would not dock with the space station, but would instead fly into an orbit above the station’s altitude of about 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Earth, according to Space Adventures, the Virginia-based company that arranged flights of seven wealthy space tourists on Russian Soyuz capsules between 2001 and 2009...

Responding to a question on Twitter about a possible price tag of $52 million per seat, (Space Adventures chairman Eric) Anderson tweeted: “Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client specific requests, etc.”

Anderson tweeted that the training regimen for the Crew Dragon flight will be “significantly less than the few months required for previous missions or ISS missions.”

“Dragon in this profile allows up to 5 days,” Anderson tweeted. “3 days is probably ideal, 40-50 orbits or so.”

image: SpaceX Crew Dragon (NASA, public domain) Read the rest

Burger King shows sandwich decaying to moldy slab of meat and bread in new ad

Feb 19, 2020


Burger King's switching to preservative-free ingredients, and chose to market this fact by showing what will now happen to its sandwiches if they are left out uneaten. Welcome to the intersection of advertising and earned media, puke bags are under the seats. Read the rest

Steam’s Google result reads “F☠️ck Epic Games Store”

Feb 19, 2020


The broken ASCII-art "FUCK EPIC GAMES STORE" wasn't placed intentionally by Steam to show up as the store's description in Google search results, but there it is, all the same. Google and its algorithmic gods picked the phrase, a comment left by a user of the site, for reasons known only to itself. [Rock Paper Shotgun]

Read the rest

After Brexit, Britain may finally lose its Marbles — specifically the ones they stole from Greece

Feb 19, 2020


In the early 1800s, agents working for Thomas Bruce of Scotland, the 7th Earl of Elgin, conveniently “removed” about half of the remaining marble statues from the Parthenon, as well as a few other Greek sculptures, and brought them back to Britain in the name of art history cultural preservation colonialism. Bruce claimed to have permission from the Ottoman Empire to borrow these artifacts, but others have insisted that this is total bullshit. This has — understandably! — resulted in some strained tensions between the British Empire and the modern Greek government (post-Ottoman Empire) that’s gone on for about two centuries.

Now that Britain has left the European Union, Greece has renewed their effort to reclaim the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles. From The Times:

A draft negotiating mandate circulated among European governments in Brussels today hardened EU demands in key traditional trade areas, particularly fishing, but also included the unexpected “return and restitution” line.

“The parties should address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their country of origin,” said a newly drafted text that will be signed off by EU governments next week.

The Greek government has said that Brexit will shift the political balance within the EU to force Britain to return the fifth century BC marbles.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the British government is thus far refusing to cooperate. They seem to be under the impression that the marbles were legally acquired. I suppose this makes sense, on the grounds that the British government makes the laws by which the country abides, and thus, according to their own laws, they have acted in accordance with the law (that they made) in their decision to steal cultural artifacts from half the god damn world in the name of Imperialism. Read the rest

This 10-foot cloth Lightning cable won’t break like those fragile Apple cables and is only $15

Feb 19, 2020


While we all love our iPhones and iPads, celebrating the releases of their latest and greatest versions, it’s amusing to consider how much we at the same time HATE the main item that keeps these little tech marvels powered up and working.

No, Lightning cables don’t exactly inspire feelings of awe and wonder. It’s more like...anger and frustration. That’s because we all know that in a matter of weeks, and in many cases, just days, that freaking cable will get kinked, peeled, or frayed to the point of uselessness.

Apple-approved cables are as fragile as eggs and like everything from Cupertino, not exactly cheap. Instead, try out this 10-ft cloth MFi-Certified Lightning cable now at over 60 percent off its regular price, only $14.99.

Crafted from flexible, tangle-resistant cloth fiber, this cable is sturdy enough to survive real-world use while still delivering reliable power to your thirsty devices.

These MFi-certified connectors can handle all the syncing and charging tasks you need to be handled. And thanks to its generous 10-foot reach, you’ll likely always have that extra little bit of cord needed to stay connected to your USB port or outlet even when it’s across the room.

Regularly priced at $39.99, this $25 discount might make this a good time to stock up on a couple for all your various charging locations. Read the rest

Boycycle v. Motaur

Feb 19, 2020


Exhibit A: Boycycle, a music video by Vedran Rupic for Bosnian DJ Salvator Ganacci, who stars as the titular creature.

Exhibits B1 through B3: Progressive Insurance's "Motaur" ad campaign, with a similar if less grossly-rendered motif.

"Legs on the bottom, motorcycle on the top." Read the rest

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk star in Star Trek deepfake

Feb 19, 2020


Amusing yet unsettling and increasingly smooth, the deepfakes keep coming. Here's Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk's faces superimposed onto Star Trek's original 1965 pilot episode, with Bezos as the Talosian magistrate and Musk as Christopher Pike. It's by TheFakening, one of YouTube's deepfake masters.

In the not too distant future Elon Musk will save us from the captivity of Jeff Bezos' Amazon illusion.

Read the rest

For 13 years, this photographer has been building an incredible 3D digital model of Athens

Feb 14, 2020


Starting in 2007, photographer and visual effects artist Dimitris Tsalkanis has been building a digital 3D model of ancient Athens. The result is an immersive historical recreation where everyone online is invited. How did Tsalkanis handle this Herculean (rather, Heraklean) task? He learned as he went. From Sarah Rose Sharp's article about Ancient Athens 3D in Hyperallergic:

“I had no previous experience on 3D and I started experimenting in my spare time,” said Tsalkanis in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “I always liked archaeology and since I am from Athens, I was always interested in its monuments and history. During my research, I realised that up until then no one had attempted a complete 3D reconstruction of ancient Athens..."

Tsalkanis stays up to date with his fantasy city, updating reconstructions constantly for better quality of models and better archaeological and historical accuracy...

Visitors to the site can browse reconstructions that date back as early as 1200 BCE, the Mycenaean period — or Bronze Age — through Classical Athens, featuring the rebuilds made necessary by the Greco-Persian War, and ages of occupation by Romans and Ottomans.

"Explore Ancient Athens Online Through 3D Models, Created by One Animator Over 12 Years" (Hyperallergic, thanks Mark Dery!)

Images below: "Aerial view of the Library of Hadrian" and "Panoramic view of the Acropolis," Dimitris Tsalkanis/Ancient Athens 3D

Read the rest

'My hobby is designing and building unique arcade games from scratch.'

Feb 14, 2020


This is a really cool homebuilt arcade game project.

“My hobby is designing and building unique arcade games from scratch,” says IMGURian @builtbyblatt.

“This is The Blatt Box.”

This is Speed mode. You have 45 seconds to score as many points as possible by stopping two lights in circular motion when they meet at a tangent point. Each time you score the circles and direction are randomly reset. There is a small time penalty for a wrong stop and a small time bonus for a hit. The speed increases each time you score.

Check out the entire gallery, and --“If you want to support a friendly arcade artist, and see other original games, you can find me on Instagram - @BuiltByBlatt.”

My hobby is designing and building unique arcade games from scratch. This is The Blatt Box.

Read the rest

This 'foster mom' bear is raising a cub saved by a dog

Feb 14, 2020


An orphaned black bear cub has been placed with a substitute bear mom this week after the little baby bear was saved by a family dog, and tenderly brought to safety.

The amazing images of the rescued black bear cub in this post are from the Wildlife Center of Virginia, you can donate to them here.

Meet Black Bear cub #20-0084.

From the Wildlife Center of Virginia:

On February 6, an infant male Black Bear cub was admitted to the Wildlife Center. The cub was found the evening before in Washington County when a family dog brought home the tiny cub. The homeowners were unsure where the cub came from, so they called the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). A biologist transported the cub to the Center.

Dr. Claire, the Center’s veterinary intern, examined the cub when he arrived and found that the cub was bright and alert, and vocalizing readily. The cub weighed just 540 g – smaller than cub #20-0064 at admission – and was mildly dehydrated, though otherwise was healthy.

The cub was settled into an incubator, and the rehabilitation staff added him to their ‘round-the-clock bottle feeding schedule

The wildlife rehab staff described Black Bear cub #20-0084 as bright, alert and “vocalizing readily.” They say the cub was placed with a new bear mother who was already nursing three cubs of her own on Wednesday.

From Southwest Virginia Today:

Staff members soon plan to introduce the cub to another cub at the center.

Read the rest

Florida Man is upset he can't bring his large Donald Trump cutout to dialysis

Feb 14, 2020


He wants to know why can't bring his emotional support life-sized cutout of Trump with him to treatments

Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot image is 30 years old today

Feb 14, 2020


Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes' cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was not to be missed. From my liner notes to the Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set:

Astronomer and educator Carl Sagan, a member of the Voyager Imaging Team, had persuaded NASA engineers to turn Voyager 1’s cameras back toward the sun and take the first-ever portrait of our solar system from beyond its outer boundary. Sixty frames, taken on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1990, were combined into a single mosaic, known today as the “Solar System Portrait,” albeit with Mars and Mercury lost in the sun’s glare. Centered in a ray of scattered light in the camera’s optics is a tiny speck, just .12 pixels in size: Earth from 6 billion kilometers away—a “pale blue dot,” as Sagan called it. It’s an iconic image that holds the power to shift our perspective in an instant.

“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world,” Sagan wrote in Pale Blue Dot (1994). “To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Please join us in celebrating Carl Sagan's valentine to humanity:

(image: NASA) Read the rest

American Airlines threatened to arrest me, says woman whose seat was continuously punched by man sitting behind her

Feb 14, 2020


This video has the internet legitimately divided .

Dude is in the last seat on the plane. Seat doesn’t recline.

Hers does. And she reclines.

He’s upset, and is punching her seat incessantly— so she records.

Who is right?!Who is wrong?!

See you at 7p on #FOX5LION@fox5dc

— Marina Marraco (@MarinaMarraco) February 12, 2020

Remember Wendi Williams, the woman who videotaped the man behind her who wouldn't stop punching her seat because she had reclined it?

Well, TMZ has a photo of a "passenger disturbance notice" that a flight attendant handed to Williams, warning her that she could be federally prosecuted for not complying with the flight attendant's order to delete the video she'd taken of the seat puncher. The attendant also threatened to kick Williams off the plane if she didn't delete the video. Williams says she deleted the video, but was able to recover it and post it to Twitter.

According to TMZ, Williams believes she may have suffered damage from the repeated punches, because she says she has had a number of back surgeries in the past as well as titanium implants in her vertebrae. She wants the seat puncher identified and prosecuted.

Williams told TMZ she took the video as a way to stop the man from continuing to violently punching her seat, and that once the man realized he was being taped, he reduced the force of the punches so that they were just an "irritation."

Here's the TMZ video interview with Williams:

Image: Twitter screengrab Read the rest

The scientific secrets inside a single grain of moon dust

Feb 14, 2020


While scientists have studied Moon rocks for 50 years, researchers have for the first time conducted deep analysis on a single grain of lunar dust, atom by atom. Using a common materials science technique called atom probe tomography that's not widely used by geologists, the Chicago Field Museum's Jennika Greer and colleagues probed the grain of soil -- about the width of a human hair -- and were able to learn about the Moon's surface its elemental composition. From the Field Museum:

In that tiny grain, she identified products of space weathering, pure iron, water and helium, that formed through the interactions of the lunar soil with the space environment. Extracting these precious resources from lunar soil could help future astronauts sustain their activities on the Moon...

Once the sample was inside the atom probe at Northwestern University, Greer zapped it with a laser to knock atoms off one by one. As the atoms flew off the sample, they struck a detector plate. Heavier elements, like iron, take longer to reach the detector than lighter elements, like hydrogen. By measuring the time between the laser firing and the atom striking the detector, the instrument is able to determine the type of atom at that position and its charge. Finally, Greer reconstructed the data in three dimensions, using a color-coded point for each atom and molecule to make a nanoscale 3D map of the Moon dust...

Studying soil from the moon's surface gives scientists insight into an important force within our Solar System: space weathering.

Read the rest

Facebook: Bloomberg campaign memes won't be classified as political ads

Feb 14, 2020


We've written here at Boing Boing before about Mike Bloomberg's awful memes, which the 2020 presidential hopeful's campaign machine crapped out on Facebook and Instagram this week with awful accounts like FuckJerry.

Facebook said Friday it will allow 'influencers' like FuckJerry to produce sponsored content for political campaigns, as long as the posts are clearly identified as ads, but sponsored political content will not be placed in Facebook’s political Ad Library, unless they're "boosted" by the influencer as a paid post, the company announced on Friday.

So, they're ads for political campaigns, but they're not political ads. Got it.

One of the other accounts getting paid by Bloomberg's 2020 campaign is @kalesalad, a meme account run by BuzzFeed employee Samir Mezrahi.


Reports Makena Kelly at The Verge:

Before Friday, Facebook didn’t have any guidelines for influencers who create sponsored content for politicians and political campaigns. But after Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign was found to have paid popular Instagram meme pages for posts, Facebook decided to allow these paid political partnerships.

Sponsored political content will not be placed in Facebook’s political Ad Library unless the creator pays to boost their posts, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to The Verge. Facebook does not receive any money for sponsored posts unless they are boosted.

These rules will only apply in the United States for now, Facebook said. “Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it’s important people know when they’re seeing paid content on our platforms,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge.

Read the rest

New trailer for Stranger Things 4... Guess who didn't die.

Feb 14, 2020


"From Russia with love..." Read the rest

Databases leak exposed 900K plastic surgery records with nude photos

Feb 14, 2020


Leaked images, many of them graphic nude photos, were from imaging firm NextMotion in France

Watch Billie Eilish interviewed by an A.I.

Feb 14, 2020


Creative technologist Nicole He modified OpenAI's GPT-2 language model to generate questions for happy mutant pop star Billie Eilish and also write Eilish-esque lyrics. Vogue Magazine published Eilish's answers to the AI's wonderfully odd questions like: "Who consumed so much of your power in one go?" and "Have you ever seen the ending?"

"What I really loved hearing Billie say was that human interviewers often ask the same questions over and over," He tweeted, "and she appreciated that the AI questions don’t have an agenda in the same way, they’re not trying to get anything from her."

Though of course, as with all AI, there was a high level of human intervention—it was trained by me (with GPT-2), and the questions were also hand-picked from the results. I think it’s a good example of how AI can help enhance human creativity." Read the rest

Tesla restored autopilot feature to used car, saying the whole thing was a "miscommunication"

Feb 14, 2020


Last week I posted the sad tale of Alec, a man who bought a used Tesla at auction and was saddened when Tesla later remotely disabled the car's autodrive feature.

Tesla justified the action by telling Alec that autodrive was "not a feature that you had paid for."

The story of Tesla's mean-spiritedness spread quickly, and as you might guess, Tesla jumped into damage control mode. It restored autodrive to the car and told Alec, "if it wasn't for that meddlesome miscommunication, you would never have lost autopilot in the first place!" Let's hope Tesla had a stern word with miscommunication for causing such trouble.

From The Verge:

Tesla has removed features from used cars in the past, but typically does so before the car is sold off to a third-party dealer or a new owner. Since Tesla pulled these features both after it sold the car to the dealer, and after that dealer sold it to Alec, it caused some fear that the company was setting a precedent for yanking features on a whim.

That now seems less likely to be true, although owners and potential customers should always be prepared to deal with changes. Tesla is pushing the boundaries when it comes to adding new features and generally making cars upgradeable via over-the-air software updates, and other automakers are (slowly) following suit. But the easier it gets for automakers to remotely update or change the features of a car, the easier it gets to take those features away, too.

Read the rest

Gentleman arrested for using mice and hamsters to get free hotel rooms

Feb 14, 2020


Utah police say Ryan Sentelle State (37) scored free hotel rooms by releasing mice and hamsters in the room and then demanding a free room to compensate him for the horror of sharing a room with a rodent.

From KUTV:

State would point out feces left by the rodents, a probable cause statement says. Hotels are forced to contact pest control when animals and feces are found in rooms.

Police say State and his gang of rodents caused damage to several hotel rooms.

Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash Read the rest

Telemarket scammer talks to a bot for over 10 minutes

Feb 14, 2020


The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a subscription service that answers phone calls from suspected scammers and connects them to a bot that will happily chat with them for hours, days, or weeks. The idea is to keeps scammers busy talking to bots so they can't scam real people. Here's a recent recording of a scammer trying to talk a bot into signing up for some kind of medicare fraud. Read the rest

Textmode Space Harrier

Feb 14, 2020


What you see before you here is frenetic, graphics-heavy 1985 arcade game Space Harrier as a textmode app. Though represented as chunky extended-ASCII characters, the underlying game is startlingly authentic, with bosses, pylons, tunnel staages and music all running at the Sega classic's freakishly fast clip.

It's not a clever terminal project floating up on Hacker News: it's actually the conversion for the MZ-700, a 1982 Japanese 8-bit, apparently created by Kazuhiro Furuhata in 1988. But this makes me think that Cannonball, the modern implementation of Sega's mid-80s sprite scaling game engine, needs a textmode feature.

(If you liked this, check the same game out on the Sharp X1, a more powerful Japanese 1980s machine: a truly bizarre mix of textmode and sprites, X1 Space Harrier is an arcade-accurate yet glitchy mess pushed as fast as a z80 can muster.) Read the rest

Save over 25% on the LG 86" 4K HDR Smart LED UHD TV in honor of President's Day

Feb 14, 2020


Become the best binge-watcher on the block when you add this sweet smart TV to your living room. Not only is this LG television big—hello, 86"—but it's also packed with cutting-edge tech that will finally justify all those hours you spend watching The Mandalorian. Why not take advantage of Presidents' Day sale pricing and snap one up while it's 28% off?

Boasting an a7 Intelligent Processor for rich colors and details, 4K Ultra HD resolution with 8.3 million pixels, wide color gamut, and Ultra Surround sound with audio from 7 virtual channels (requiring only the built-in speakers), this smart TV will make you feel like you're part of the action. Also inside its sleek and slim 3.7" frame are features like Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, advanced tone mapping for scene-by-scene optimization, in-plane switching to maintain a more consistent contrast ratio even at wide viewing angles, and built-in Channel Plus service that offers free streaming of full-length movies and today's top 130+ popular channels.

Its award-winning OS makes working through the interface super easy, whether you're looking for your favorite app or linking up your compatible smart home devices. Speaking of, AI ThinQ technology allows for voice interaction, so you can tell your TV what to do—at least when it comes to said devices (Alexa, Google Assistant).

So if you missed out on those postseason football TV sales, now's a great time to pull the trigger on a serious upgrade to your home entertainment (you'll save loads of money on going out), because the LG 86" 4K HDR Smart LED UHD TV with AI ThinQ is down to $2149.99. Read the rest

RompHim goes out of business

Feb 14, 2020


RompHim, the rompers-for-men company that achieved viral success a couple of years back, is going out of business. CNN reports that the initial focus on marketing to straight bros limited their appeal from the outset. Remaining stock is 75% off if you want one. Read the rest

Trump admits sending Giuliani to Ukraine, having denied it during impeachment

Feb 14, 2020


Now acquitted by the Senate, the president can glibly admit to what he was accused of. In a chat last night with Geraldo Rivera, Donald Trump says he sent Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to dig for dirt on political opponents, a fact he insisted was not so during his impeachment trial.

"Here's my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy," Trump said, referring to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump explained that he has "a very bad taste" of the US intelligence community, because of the Russia investigation, so he turned to Giuliani.

"So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor," Trump said. "But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers."

Read the rest

Age differences in Disney couples

Feb 14, 2020


One Zachary Bisenio created a handy chart illustrating age differences in Disney couples. There are some interesting surprises, to be sure, but also lots of statutory rape. Read the rest

Wendy's fires staff after sink used as bathtub

Feb 14, 2020


Staff at a Wendy's in Greenville, Michigan, are out of a job after video of someone taking a bath in the kitchen sink there went viral.

A 23-second video shared on Facebook, originally posted to the TikTok social media platform, shows a young man partially submerged in a ware-washing industrial sink system — normally used to wash kitchen items — laughing and joking inside the restaurant with other employees. ... In the video, one employee wearing a Wendy’s uniform jokingly says “wash yourself” to the individual in the sink. That individual responds with, “It feels like, it feels like a hot tub. I’m just enjoying life,” as a third person recorded the video while additional laughing can be heard in the background.

Read the rest

Coronavirus: North Korea executes official who visited public spa in China

Feb 14, 2020


Pyongyang claims that North Korea has no cases of coronavirus, having closed its border with China and suspended all tourism. Experts are skeptical, reports the Daily Mirror, and South Korean media claims that an official returning from China was executed on the spot after it was learned he visited a public spa while there.

The trade official, who had been placed in isolation after traveling to China, was arrested and immediately shot for risking the spread of the deadly disease, the Dong-a Ilbo news outlet in South Korea reported.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to “rule by military law” against anyone who leaves quarantine without permission.

Photo: North Korean media Read the rest

D & D character alignments as Valentine's Day conversation hearts

Feb 14, 2020


The wonderfully talented artist and illustrator, Michelle Rial, posted this D & D character alignment chart to her Twitter feed.

I need a new hobby

— Michelle Rial (@TheRialMichelle) February 14, 2020

Which alignment are you? Would you use different candy hearts?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Image: Used with Permission Read the rest

Watch how a heavy anvil floats in a vat of mercury

Feb 14, 2020


This is so amazing. Watch what happens when a blacksmithing anvil is lowered into a large vat of pure liquid mercury.

Update: One of our readers posted the link to the original video in the comments. I have replaced the animated GIF. Thanks, Crispy75.

[H/t Alberto Gaitán via Bryce Lynch]

Image: Screengrab from GIF Read the rest

China: 116 new coronavirus deaths in Hubei

Feb 14, 2020


China's government health commission in Hubei province reported on Friday that the daily death toll from coronavirus rose by 116.

The Hubei province health commission did not report the total number of deaths from the newly identified virus, which was 1,310 on Thursday.

From Reuters:

Of the new deaths, 88 occurred in the provincial capital of Wuhan, where the flu-like virus is believed to have originated late last year.

A further 4,823 cases had been detected in Hubei, taking the total in the province to 51,986. Over four fifths of the province’s new cases were in Wuhan.

The daily toll rose by a record of more than 240 on Thursday after the commission began counting cases diagnosed through new clinical methods.

More from Twitter, below.

The Hubei health authority has reported that 116 more people died of the coronavirus in Hubei province on Thursday.

This brings the total number of deaths in mainland China to at least 1,483, with a global total of 1,486.

— CNN International (@cnni) February 14, 2020

China's Hubei province reports 116 new coronavirus deaths

— Reuters (@Reuters) February 14, 2020

#Coronavirus latest updates: death rate in China's Hubei slows after spike – live news

— Guardian US (@GuardianUS) February 14, 2020

PHOTO, top: Provided by the Government of China through Xinhua, the official state media outlet.

A doctor wearing goggles is seen at Xianghu Hospital of the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University in Nanchang, east China's Jiangxi Province, Feb. 6, 2020.

Read the rest

First look: Robert Pattinson is... The Batman

Feb 14, 2020


Robert Pattinson is The Batman in director Matt Reeves's take on the dark knight. Pattinson is best known from the Twilight series while Reeves was behind the lens on Cloverfield (2008), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).

The Batman's cinematographer is Greig Fraser with a score by Michael Giacchino. Costume design is by Jacqueline Durran, Glyn Dillon, and David Crossman.

Release date: June 25, 2021. Read the rest

Seven top tips from makers so far this year

Feb 14, 2020


Here are seven of my favorite DIY/maker tips published this year in my weekly newsletter, Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales.

Etching Metal with a 9v Battery Etching is easier than you think. Leah of See Jane Drill demonstrates how easy it is to etch a metal surface using little more than a 9v battery and wires, vinegar, salt, and Q-tips.

Finding the Thickness of a Wire Emory Kimbrough was one of the winners of my Tips book drawing in December. I asked contestants for one great tip. Emory sent me ten. And then, a few days later, he sent me another five – all publication-worthy. I’m excited to share them. Look for more Emory tips in the coming months. Here’s the first one:

If you need to find the thickness of a wire but don’t have a micrometer or calipers, wrap the wire around a dowel many times in a tight helix leaving no gaps between the coils. Now, just measure the width of, say, thirty coils with an ordinary ruler and divide by thirty. The more coils you wind, the more accurate your measurement. And even if you do use top-quality digital calipers, it’s even more accurate if you use this wind-and-divide method than if you measure a single thickness.

Organize Cables in Dollar Store Pencil Cases The column I’m currently working on for HackSpace magazine will cover workshop storage and organizing. As part of my research, I asked for relevant storage ideas on my Facebook page. My friend Jake Hildebrandt shared this idea. Read the rest

An interview with legendary bass player Carol Kaye

Feb 13, 2020


On Legs McNeil's Please Kill Me, Michael Shelly interviews the legendary bass player, Carol Kaye. Unless you're a hardcore music nerd, you may not know who Carol Kaye is. You need to fix that.

Carol Kaye is the bassist on thousands of 20th century recordings, from The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds to Nancy Sinatra's These Boots are Made for Walkin', to Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman. Oh, and she also played on the Mothers of Invention's Freak Out! and the Batman theme song. The list goes on and on and on.

Get this woman into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, stat!

PKM: When producers, like Brian Wilson with “Good Vibrations,” would do a single song in parts over many sessions was that frustrating or fun for you?

Carol Kaye: You know Brian was a nice young kid. We worked for a lot of those young guys back then and Brian had something special about him, and he grew with every date. You saw his talent getting better and better and better. He’d only do one song for a three-hour date and that does get boring after a while, but he would come in and he’d give you this handwritten, kind of funny sheet music with stems on the wrong side of the notes and sharps and flats everywhere. He would sit down at the piano and play the song, to kind of give us a feel for it, and then he’d go in the booth and take charge from there.

Read the rest

Prime Climb is a fun tabletop game that uses math

Feb 13, 2020


Let the co-creator of Prime Climb explain how to play this fast-moving game of quickly changing fortunes. It's on sale today on Amazon. Read the rest

Disabled patients in Iowa state-run home used as “guinea pigs” in sexual arousal experiments, lawsuit charges

Feb 13, 2020


A federal civil rights lawsuit filed this week claims that severely intellectually and physically disabled patients at a state-operated home in Iowa were used as “guinea pigs” in sexual arousal research experiments.

A 38-page complaint was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

In it, former University of Kansas assistant professor and child psychologist, 63-year-old Jerry Rea, is charged with experimenting on the “highly vulnerable” patients at the Glenwood Resource Center.

The Des Moines Register reported that Jerry Rea's affiliation with the University of Kansas ended when Rea moved to Iowa. Rea was fired from Glenwood when the feds started looking into abuse allegations last December.

“The deeply disturbing allegations come after the same Iowa facility found itself in federal law enforcement crosshairs,” reports Olivia Messer at The Daily Beast:

The lawsuit claims that Rea, along with the facility’s other top administrators, used taxpayer money to purchase tools under the auspices of research, including silk sheets, boxer shorts, sexual lubricants, a computer, a software program, and pornographic images. The facility's administrators did not “obtain informed consent” from the patients’ guardians prior to beginning research and later “scramble[d]” to “get consent on behalf of patients that had been experimented on after receiving notice of a new Department of Justice investigation” in 2019, the suit claims.

The plans for Rea’s research allegedly included the use of a portable GPS device for measuring sexual arousal, and the plaintiffs note he and a partner received a federal patent in 1998 for a device designed to detect and monitor the sexual arousal of an individual while they are exposed to “real-life sexual stimuli.”

Read the rest

Voyager 2 is back up and running!

Feb 9, 2020


NASA is reporting on their Voyager Twitter feed that the Voyager 2 spacecraft is once again operational.

Here's the skinny: My twin went to do a roll to calibrate the onboard magnetometer, overdrew power and tripped software designed to automatically protect the spacecraft.

Voyager 2's power state is good and instruments are back on. Resuming science soon.

— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) January 29, 2020

Good vibes! Voyager 2 continues to be stable, and communications between Earth and the spacecraft are fine.

My twin is back to taking science data, and the team at @NASAJPL is evaluating the health of the instruments following their brief shutoff.

— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) February 6, 2020

Kind of astonishing that 70s space tech that is 11.5 billion miles away from home is still talking to us. The Voyager 2 ran into trouble in late January and became unresponsive.

Read more on JPL's website.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Read the rest

Comparing the sizes of fictional buildings from books, movies, TV, and video games

Feb 9, 2020


MetalBallStudios, a YouTube channel that does 3D-rendered, animated size comparisons, has a new video comparing the sizes of buildings and other structures found in science fiction and fantasy media.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Become a videography pro with this 10-course training bundle

Feb 9, 2020


It should come as no surprise that videography professionals and digital marketing gurus are in high-demand these days, thanks to their ability to create content that promotes virtually every product and brand you see online.

If you’re even remotely interested in joining this lucrative field, the Videography Editing & Marketing Certification Bundle will teach you about the latest methods, platforms, and techniques—all for $45.

With 10 courses and over 300 lessons, this in-depth bundle will help you land a high-paying career in videography, regardless of whether you’re interested in working full-time or as a part-time freelancer.

There’s a course that will teach you how to take advantage of iMovie’s most powerful editing tools, a course that walks you through how to use Adobe Spark in order to create presentations and social media content, a course that centers around webcam videography, and a course that teaches you how to professionally edit your content in order to make it pop in any digital medium online.

You’ll also have unlimited access to content that focusses on color gradients and contrast, visual effects, and how to make the most of Facebook advertising campaigns that will help you gain exposure and increase the likelihood that your content goes viral.

Start down the path toward becoming a professional videographer and content-creator with the Videography Editing & Marketing Certification Bundle while it’s available for over 95% off MSRP.

  Read the rest

Man finds "puppies" in a box on his lawn. They were bear cubs

Feb 8, 2020


"It's not uncommon to find black bears in the county. But to find bear cubs in a cardboard box in your property, wrapped up in sweatshirts to keep them warm, yeah, that's pretty strange." That's what North Carolina Sheriff Kevin Jones told CNN after his office got a call about a box of "puppies" from a man who discovered them on his front lawn last month.

From the article:

The North Carolina sheriff's office explained that they had responded to a man's call last month, who told them that someone left the puppies outside his house. The man explained he was gone for just a short amount time and the animals were there when he returned, the sheriff's office said.

Sheriff Jones said the person who dropped off the cubs probably stumbled across them, put them in a box and simply left them at the man's house when they realized they couldn't keep them.

The cubs were taken by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, and will be released back into the wild when they are older.

Image: Camden County Sheriff's Office Read the rest

Why has this photo of Trump gone viral?

Feb 8, 2020


@realDonaldTrump⁩ returns to the White House from Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by William Moon at the South Lawn of the White House on February 7, 2020

— White House Photos (@photowhitehouse) February 7, 2020

This [possibly edited] photo of Trump is trending. But why? Is it his luxuriant swept back hair? His coy over-the-shoulder invitation to join him in a frolicsome adventure? The lush greenery of the White House south lawn? Please submit your best guess in the comments.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash Read the rest

Neural network restores and colorizes old movies

Feb 8, 2020


From the excellent "Two Minute Papers" YouTube channel, a discussion of a paper titled "DeepRemaster: Temporal Source-Reference Attention Networks for Comprehensive Video Enhancement," that demonstrates the results of a neural network that fixes and colorizes aged, blurry, scratchy films. Read the rest

Fancy banana lamp

Feb 8, 2020


Would you just look at the $295 Seletti Banana Lamp [Bergdorf Goodman]. Read the rest

Bill Nye the super fly guy

Feb 8, 2020


Bill Nye struts his stuff for charity.

please tell me what designer had bill nye walking im crying

— big t (@miuyorker) February 7, 2020

Read the rest

Antarctica: Hottest temperature ever recorded, 65º F / 18.3º C

Feb 8, 2020


Antarctica's hottest temperature ever was recorded this past Thursday: 65 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18.3 degrees Celsius.

That is not good.

Not good at all.

#Antártida | Nuevo récord de temperaturas 🌡️

Este mediodía la Base #Esperanza registró un nuevo récord histórico (desde 1961) de temperatura, con 18,3°C. Con este valor se supera el récord anterior de 17,5°C del 24 en marzo de 2015. Y no fue el único récord...

— SMN Argentina (@SMN_Argentina) February 6, 2020

Scientists took the measurement at a remote station on the continent's Northern tip: nearly 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 Celsius) at Argentina's Esperanza research station.

The climate crisis is real, and it affects every living thing on the planet.

The Argentine research base Esperanza, on the northern tip of #Antarctic Peninsula, saw a new record temperature of 18.3°C today (old one 17.5°C on 24 March 2015), per @SMN_Argentina. Details of previous record at

— WMO | OMM (@WMO) February 6, 2020

18.3°C! - new highest temperature recorded for continental #Antarctica, yesterday at Esperanza Base, the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, 63°23′S; previous record was 17.5°C in 2015 also at Esperanza @SMN_Argentina; records began at the station in 1961, pic Nestor Franco

— The Antarctic Report (@AntarcticReport) February 7, 2020

Antarctica recorded its hottest temperature ever on Thursday: 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius)

— Reuters (@Reuters) February 8, 2020

18,3°C in Antarctica.

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 7, 2020

[IMAGE: Left, Adélie penguins in Antarctica photographed by Jason Auch via Wikipedia, CC BY 2.0 Read the rest

First American coronavirus death confirmed

Feb 8, 2020


On Saturday, February 8, the United States Embassy in Beijing confirmed that a 60-year-old American national died of the new coronavirus last Thursday at Jinyintian Hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson says this is the first known American death from Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

The Chinese government today offered condolences for the death of "a Chinese-American."

Also on Saturday, a Japanese national suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus died in Wuhan.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 700 in mainland China, with the death of a 60-year-old American man marking the first confirmed non-Chinese death from the illness

— Reuters (@Reuters) February 8, 2020

More recent Boing Boing posts about the outbreak, which has claimed more than 700 lives, mostly in China:

Coronavirus exposes China's surveillance state

China blocks Apple supplier Foxconn from restarting factories as outbreak spreads PHOTO: From China's Communist government's propaganda outlet, China Daily."Zhang Jixian, a respiratory physician from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese & Western Medicine, wears protective gear before treating novel coronavirus patients at isolation wards, in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Jan 30, 2020." [Photo by Yuan Zheng/China Daily]

China mourns Li Wenliang, the Wuhan whistleblower doctor who warned of coronavirus outbreak Read the rest

Facebook removes Thailand mass shooter account, police say 'at least' 10 killed

Feb 8, 2020


A soldier in northeast Thailand has killed 'at least' 10 people in a mass shooting, Thai authorities say. Police said the suspect is still at large, at the time of this blog post.

Before and during the rampage shooting, it appears the suspected gunman was posting on Facebook.

On Saturday, Facebook says the account of the suspect has been removed, and the social media company says it will remove any content related to the attack that violates its policies.

“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the community affected by this tragedy in Thailand. There is no place on Facebook for people who commit this kind of atrocity, nor do we allow people to praise or support this attack,” a Facebook rep said in a statement sent to news reporters on Saturday, as news of the mass shooting in Thailand spread online.

“We have removed the gunman’s accounts from our services and will work around the clock to remove any violating content related to this attack as soon as we become aware of it.”

[More at Reuters] Read the rest

Coronavirus exposes China's surveillance state

Feb 8, 2020


The so-called Wuhan Coronavirus has killed more than 700 people, mostly in Mainland China, and the outbreak continues to spread with new cases on new continents. In China, Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV is also exposing the surveillance state -- apps show locations of the infected, heat-sensing cameras spot feverish disease suspects, and identify them even with ubiquitous paper face masks on.

From a Reuters story about a man who ignored the quarantine rules and “not only did the police contact him, so did his boss -- He had been spotted near Hangzhou’s West Lake by a camera with facial recognition technology, and the authorities had alerted his company as a warning.”

“I was a bit shocked by the ability and efficiency of the mass surveillance network. They can basically trace our movements with the AI technology and big data at any time and any place,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.

Chinese have long been aware that they are tracked by the world’s most sophisticated system of electronic surveillance. The coronavirus emergency has brought some of that technology out of the shadows, providing the authorities with a justification for sweeping methods of high tech social control.

Artificial intelligence and security camera companies boast that their systems can scan the streets for people with even low-grade fevers, recognize their faces even if they are wearing masks and report them to the authorities. If a coronavirus patient boards a train, the railway’s “real name” system can provide a list of people sitting nearby.

Read the rest

Coronavirus: China blocks Apple supplier Foxconn from restarting factories as outbreak spreads

Feb 8, 2020


Japan's Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday that Chinese authorities have blocked a plan by Apple supplier Foxconn to resume production at China factories on Monday, as Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV continues to spread.

In mainland China, 86 more people died of the virus on Saturday, according to authorities, bringing the official number of dead to 722.

From Reuters:

Public health experts carried out inspections at Foxconn’s factories in the southern city of Shenzhen and told the company that its factories had a “high risk of coronavirus infection”, making them unsuitable for a production restart, the newspaper said, citing four people familiar with the matter without identifying them.

Taiwan’s Foxconn, which makes smartphones for global vendors including Apple, will also not see one of its key iPhone plants based in the central city of Zhengzhou restart work on Monday, the report added.

Foxconn could see a “big” production impact and shipments to customers including Apple face disruption if a Chinese factory halt due to the coronavirus outbreak extends into a second week, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters earlier this week.

“Foxconn did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” the reporters add.

The first American death was reported today, also, and the coronavirus is now in France.

Read more: China blocks Foxconn plan to restart factories over virus worries: Nikkei []

PREVIOUSLY AT BOING BOING: China virus outbreak may impact Apple iPhone if China extends Foxconn factory halt Read the rest

20 cool car gadgets that will change the way you drive

Feb 8, 2020


New car commercials do an excellent job of making you feel like your car is obsolete. And you bought your car in 2013. That may be a little dramatic, but it seems like every year car companies are adding fascinating, convenient new features and gadgets to their models that fully demonstrate that the future has arrived. Of course, you don't have to buy a new car to upgrade your current model. These cool gadgets can make you feel like you're driving a Cyber Truck without breaking the bank.


FenSens Smart Wireless Solar Powered Backup Camera

MSRP: $199

Sale Price: $159 (20% off)

Most new car models have backup cameras built-in to help you parallel park. If you don't have one, this backup camera is the next best thing. It clips on the back of your car and syncs with your smartphone so you can see what's behind you in real-time.


myGEKOgear Orbit 530 1296p W-Fi Dashcam with Sony Night Vision Sensor

MSRP: $149.99

Sale Price: $109.99 (26% off)

You never know when you might need an expert witness, and this dashcam can be a lifeline. With night vision and a 150º wide-angle lens that eliminates many blindspots, this camera records in 1296p HD so you always have a crystal clear recording of what happened in a crash.


myGEKOgear Orbit 110 Full HD Dashcam

MSRP: $99.99

Sale Price: $49.99 (50% off)

This dashcam stays stabilized to record a smooth 1080p HD video on the road with a 120º wide shooting angle. Read the rest

Improve muscle performance and comfort with the PowerDot 2.0

Feb 8, 2020


You don’t need to be a professional athlete in order to understand just how obnoxious sore muscles can be. Whether you spend too much time sitting in a chair at work or your intramural baseball league as finally taken its toll on your shoulders, having sore and overworked muscles can put a serious damper on your mood.

The PowerDot 2.0 Smart Muscle Stimulator will help you recover from uncomfortable muscle pain and improve your overall muscle performance, and it’s on sale for 15% off its usual price.

This kit comes with two pods and over 12 smart electric muscle stimulation programs for maximum recovery and comfort.

Proprietary symmetrical biphasic waveforms deliver powerful yet pain-free muscle contraction, and magnetic snaps allow you to start stimulating your muscles 3x faster than competing brands.

These comfortable pods are also compact and light enough to take with you on the go without worry.

Keep your mind and body happy with a PowerDot 2.0 Smart Muscle Stimulator for just $296—15% off MSRP. Save an additional $17 off with code POWERDOTTWO17 for a limited time only. Read the rest

Interview with photographer Meeno Peluce about his favorite tools

Feb 7, 2020


My guest this week on the Cool Tools Podcast is Meeno Peluce. Meeno grew up as a successful child actor in Hollywood, and his kid sister is Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame. He then moved behind the camera and has spent his life photographing and filming the world around him, from the burning ghats in Varanasi to the luminous landscapes of Tinseltown. He’s a proud Papa and ask him his profession, and he’ll tell you he’s a Meeno, and all that might entail. He gave himself the name when he was two in Nepal. It’s been an adventure of individualism and a constant search for personal experience ever since. You can find him on Instagram @meeno_the_man.

See show notes here Read the rest

UK's Ministry of Defence plans to release 50 years of UFO reports sometime in 2020

Feb 7, 2020


According to a piece in The Telegraph, the UK's Ministry of Defence has announced plans to make available online over 50 years of UFO sightings reported to the RAF.

The RAF discontinued its UFO reporting program in 2009 after claiming that nothing reported during the five decades of the program posed any sort of threat. UFO sightings are now reported to local police.

The reports are said to be scheduled to show up online (on a dedicated web page) sometime during the first part of 2020.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash Read the rest

George Miller reportedly to begin shooting Fury Road sequel this fall

Feb 7, 2020


Geeks Worldwide is reporting that Mad Max director, George Miller, has resolved his legal issues with Warner Bros. which were holding him back from filming the follow-up to Mad Max: Fury Road. The GWW piece claims that Miller will begin filming in Australia in the fall. No word yet on theme or who might already be signed on to the project.

Image: George Miller by Jasin Boland CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Read the rest

Making a mood ring toilet seat using thermochromic liquid crystal ink

Feb 7, 2020


Well-known YouTube makers, Evan and Katelyn, take on their weirdest project yet. They use some thermochromic liquid crystal ink left-over from another project to turn a toilet seat into a butt-sized mood ring.

Image: YouTube screengrab. Read the rest

Florida fisherman catches parachutes and capsule door from SpaceX crew capsule

Feb 7, 2020


Last week, charter fishing boat captain David Stokes was fishing off the Daytona Beach coast when he reeled in a capsule door and two parachutes that were part of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. On January 19, SpaceX conducted a successful in-flight abort test of their Crew Dragon that involved exploding the Falcon 9 rocket and releasing the capsule to carry the crew to safety. From UPI:

Stokes said he has attempted to contact SpaceX and tagged Elon Musk in a tweet about the discovery in the hopes of bringing it to their attention.

"I'd like for SpaceX to come check it out to see what they think about it ... any damage to it," Stokes told WKMG-TV. "It would also be awesome to have Elon Musk autograph it."

Read the rest

Video of incredible planetary system created from paint, oil, and soap

Feb 7, 2020


French video artist Thomas Blanchard created "Mini Planets" by mixing paint, oil, inks, and soap to stunning effect. It reminds me of the psychedelic alternate universes manifested in the 1960s liquid light shows. Blanchard writes:

The visual compositions have been created out of paint, oil, inks and soap. All videos were filmed in 8K with the RED Helium camera with 100 mm L macro lens Canon and MPE 60 mm macro lens Canon. The editing of the video is in 4K.

(via Petapixel)

Read the rest

Florida man arrested for shoplifting, cute puppy accomplice also in custody

Feb 7, 2020


Florida Man strikes again. The dog is okay and is being cared for while his owner is booked into jail.

In Hillsborough County, Florida, the Sheriff’s Office says a gentleman named Logan Wilson admitted to shoplifting $259 worth of items from Bass Pro Shops.

Deputies say he was arrested during a traffic stop after he was seen departing the store with stolen goods.

According to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Facebook post, volunteers there will take care of him until his owner bonds out of jail, but the shelter’s website has the puppy listed as “pre-adoptable.”

PHOTO: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

THE CUTEST ACCOMPLICE: The owner of this small puppy was caught shoplifting at an area Bass Pro Shops with the puppy in hand! 🐾

Our District 5 Street Crimes Unit arrested the person for Petit Theft and possession of meth. #TeamHCSO deputies took great care of the puppy before handing him over to Hillsborough County Animal Services who will care for him until his owner is released from jail.

More: Canine accomplice taken into custody during shoplifting arrest [] Read the rest

‘I’m the sheriff’: Gentleman in phony cop car halted by actual lawman

Feb 7, 2020


A sheriff in suburban Detroit was not fooled by a suspicious gentleman driving what appeared to be a police car.

[NARRATOR: It was not a police car.]

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard told reporters he was driving away from a meeting Thursday, and saw a vehicle with police-style bumpers, various lights on the rear end, and an “emergency response” decal.

Sheriff Bouchard hit the emergency light switch on his car, and stopped the weird vehicle, which also had a fake radar on the dashboard and a 'police' computer.

And he found a loaded .45 glock and a large Bowie knife.

“He looks at me and says, ‘Who are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m the sheriff. Who are you?’” Bouchard told Detroit, Michigan news channel WDIV-TV.

More: ‘I’m the sheriff. Who are you?’: Mike Bouchard pulls over man posing as a cop []

Read more at the Associated Press:‘I’m the sheriff’: Detroit-area lawman stops phony cop car Read the rest

Trump's immigration enforcement agents use cellphone location data to track individuals for detention - WSJ

Feb 7, 2020


A commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones is being used by immigration and border authorities to round up undesirable immigrants for detention and deportation.

The Wall Street Journal [paywall] published a special report on Friday about how federal agencies under impeached president Donald Trump are exploiting cellphone location data to track individuals for enforcement of Trump's racist immigration policies.

“The location data is drawn from ordinary cellphone apps, including those for games, weather and e-commerce, for which the user has granted permission to log the phone’s location,” write te WSJ's Byron Tau and Michelle Hackman: Excerpt:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of DHS, has used the data to help identify immigrants who were later arrested, these people said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, another agency under DHS, uses the information to look for cellphone activity in unusual places, such as remote stretches of desert that straddle the Mexican border, the people said.

The federal government’s use of such data for law enforcement purposes hasn’t previously been reported.

Experts say the information amounts to one of the largest known troves of bulk data being deployed by law enforcement in the U.S.—and that the use appears to be on firm legal footing because the government buys access to it from a commercial vendor, just as a private company could, though its use hasn’t been tested in court.

Read more: Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement [WSJ, reporting by Byron Tau and Michelle Hackman, Feb. Read the rest

Watch the Tesla Cybertruck go... Back to the Future!

Feb 7, 2020


Don't miss the license plate. (Elon McFly) Read the rest

Google and other tech giants want Hong Kong alternative after U.S. blocks undersea cable

Feb 7, 2020


• 'U.S. tech giants are considering alternatives to Hong Kong as a global data hub after national security officials upended plans for a trans-Pacific internet link to the territory, according to people familiar with the matter.' —- WSJ

Alphabet/Google and other U.S. tech giants are reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday to be working together on alternatives to Hong Kong as a global data hub, after Trump administration officials reversed plans to develop a trans-Pacific internet link to HK.

“We have been working through established channels in order to obtain cable landing licenses for various undersea cables, and we will continue to abide by the decisions made by designated agencies in the locations where we operate,” said a Google spokesperson.

Google and Facebook Inc. last week asked U.S. authorities’ permission to start using the internet conduit’s branches to Taiwan and the Philippines while leaving its Chinese portion offline.

Read more at WSJ, paywall: Tech Giants Seek Alternative to Hong Kong After U.S. Blocks Data Cable [Reporting: Drew FitzGerald and Kate O’Keeffe, Feb. 7, 2020 1:35 pm ET]

Read more at Reuters, no paywall: Tech giants seek Hong Kong alternative after U.S. blocks undersea cable - WSJ Read the rest

Advance your career in graphic design with this 8-course Adobe training bundle

Feb 7, 2020


If you want to have an edge in the increasingly lucrative yet competitive world of graphic design, you need to have the right skills on your resume to help you stand out from the crowd. But instead of investing large amounts of time and money in traditional graphic design education, check out the All-in-One Adobe Creative Cloud Suite Certification Bundle, which offers a massive trove of educational material on the world’s most popular design programs for just $34.

This 8-course bundle will help you increase your earning potential by introducing you to the most in-demand Adobe Creative Cloud design skills and tools.

In the Complete 2020 After Effects CC Master Class, you’ll learn how to create professional motion graphics and visual effects for your projects through 96 lectures on the latest trends in motion tracking and composition, while the Adobe Photoshop CC: Advanced Training course will teach you how to take advantage of Photoshop’s more advanced elements.

There’s also the Logo Design Mastery In Adobe Illustrator course, which walks you through working with typography and color pallets; the comprehensive Adobe CC Masterclass, which focusses on Photoshop, Illustrator, and Adobe XD; the Adobe Lightroom Classic CC: Zero to Pro course that will help you professionally edit your images; and much more.

You’ll be able to dive into the content regardless of whether you’re a true novice or a more seasoned pro who wants to add more tools to your creative toolkit, and there are plenty of helpful resources to answer any questions you may have along the way. Read the rest

New York state sues Trump admin for Global Entry ban against NYers

Feb 7, 2020


• NY lawsuit vs. Trump to challenge federal ban on New Yorkers from enrolling in programs that allow travelers to skip ahead at airport security lines

BREAKING NEWS: Don't fuck with New York.

New York is suing the Trump Administration because Trump just blocked state residents from enrolling in the Global Entry.

Trump's Department of Homeland Security toadies announced on Wednesday that DHS was going to start blocking anyone who claims residency in New York from participating in Trusted Traveler Programs, which includes Global Entry.

These programs function as ways to reduce the burden of security theater on individual travelers through screening and enrollment.

Time and time again President Trump has gone out of his way to punish New York and other blue states for refusing to fall in line with their dangerous and divisive agenda.

New York will sue over @DHSGov's decision to ban New Yorkers from the Trusted Traveler Program.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) February 7, 2020

“We’re going to disclose this political intrusion into government, this ham-handed political tactic, that once again hurts New Yorkers to make their political point,” New York's Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo said at a Manhattan news conference on Friday.

From the New York Times:

The decision was a response to a recent New York law that lets undocumented immigrants who live in the state obtain driver’s licenses. The statute, known as the green light law, also prohibits federal immigration officials from gaining access to Department of Motor Vehicles databases without a court order.

Read the rest

China mourns Li Wenliang, the Wuhan whistleblower doctor who warned of coronavirus outbreak

Feb 7, 2020


• Online tributes and expressions of grief for doctor who tried to sound alarm on NCoV

Online in China, where Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV has now killed at least 630 as of today, one death seems to have affected the entire country profoundly.

Li Wenliang was a medical doctor and a whistleblower who was reprimanded by authorities for warning of a fast-escalating and deadly outbreak of a strange new virus.

He died yesterday, of the virus he warned others about.

Hundreds have died, and yet this is the fatality that is shaking China.

— Carlos Tejada (@CRTejada) February 7, 2020

The tributes and memorials are -- wow. Wow. Wow.

This one, below? the person in the snow?

It says “Farewell Li Wenliang.”

Their body forms an exclamation point.

#FoundOnWeChat Shared from Weibo~

— RF Parsley (@sanverde) February 7, 2020

Here are a few more, from China-based photojournalists, reporters, and others.

Can’t confirm, but this is supposed to be the salute given to Li Wenliang tonight in Wuhan. If it’s real, it’s incredible. The physical version of what’s been happening on the Chinese Internet for the past 24 hours.

— Paul Mozur 孟建国 (@paulmozur) February 7, 2020

Latest censored on Weibo:"Tonight, let me blow the whistle for Wuhan."

This is an online call for people in Wuhan, Hubei and the rest of the world to mourn Li Wenliang's death & pay tribute

8:55-9:00 Light off 9:00-9:05 Shine flashlight out the window & blow the whistle

— Nectar Gan (@Nectar_Gan) February 7, 2020

In Hong Kong too, people are paying their respects and mourning the death of Dr Li Wenliang, who tried to alert China to the coronavirus but was reprimanded for it.

Read the rest

Floria Sigismondi spends 72 hours filming legendary outre filmmaker, Kenneth Anger, at the Chateau Marmont

Feb 7, 2020


If your idea of a good time is watching a Gucci glammed up Kenneth Anger lounging around all over the Chateau Marmont hotel, check out this five minute mini-doc done by the fabulous Floria Sigismondi (one of my faves). Sigismondi was commissioned by System magazine to do the shot as part of Fashion Film Festival Milano. The film ended up winning two awards at the 2019 festival, Best Fashion Film and Best Editing.

[H/t Rodney Orpheus]

Image: Screengrab from the film Read the rest

If you’ve got a crazed canine, Relax My Dog may just save your sanity

Feb 4, 2020


For the owner of an anxious dog, coming home to a stray poop or a shredded pillow after a long day at work may be annoying, but that’s actually on the low end of potential problems. Some dogs get so upset by the boredom, loneliness and stress of being on their own that they end up doing some real damage, like demolishing rooms or chomping their way through wooden doors and even drywall as a way of expressing their upset feelings.

These dogs need to chill. Relax My Dog is a streaming service that can lay the mellow all over even the most keyed-up pooches. Right now, a two-year subscription to this doggie pacifier is available for $39.99, over half off the regular price.

Before you laugh, this is not some fly-by-night money grab. Backed by over seven years of research, Relax My Dog has actually proven to help 87 percent of its canine viewers, accounting for more than 10 million dogs in over 100 countries.

Just stream it to your home TV or connected iOS or Android device and the steady unlimited stream of looped content video and music will help put any dog of virtually any breed at ease. Also as with humans, not all music works for all situations, which is why you’ll find playlists tailored to specific canine demographics or incidents, like music for puppies, for grooming time, for combatting loud noises and fireworks, or just music for sleeping and general relaxation.

A Relax My Dog 2-year subscription is usually $84, but with the current deal, it’s available now for just $39.99 Read the rest

Republicans get billions of dollars in public funding to fight climate change by pretending that it isn't real

Feb 3, 2020


The US government provides federal funds to states to help with disaster relief. This much hasn't changed under the Trump administration. In fact, in 2018, Ben Carson's Department of Housing and Urban Development launched a new program rewarding $28 billion dollars in financial support relating to natural disasters.

Curiously, that press release was taken down a few days after the New York Times reported on it — specifically, on its favoritism towards red states that still won't formally admit that climate change exists:

The money is distributed according to a formula benefiting states most affected by disasters in 2015, 2016 and 2017. That formula favors Republican-leaning states along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, which were hit particularly hard during that period.

Texas is in line for more than $4 billion, the most of any state. The next largest sums go to Louisiana ($1.2 billion), Florida ($633 million), North Carolina ($168 million) and South Carolina ($158 million), all of which voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election.

The other states getting funding are West Virginia, Missouri, Georgia and California, the only state getting money that voted Democratic in the presidential race of 2016.

Of course, these states have to submit proposals explaining why they need these funds. According to the Times, the proposal from Texas refers to things like “changing coastal conditions,” while South Carolina says that three major storms in four years have caused “destabilizing effects and unpredictability.” But none of them actually, explicitly mention climate change — except for Louisiana, in an appendix reference on the final page. Read the rest

Garnet Hertz's "Experiments in Surveillance Capitalism: Device for Calling the Department of Homeland Security"

Feb 3, 2020


Artist and scholar on DIY culture and technology, Garnet Hertz, has a new piece opening up at York University, Gales Gallery, Toronto tonight. The piece, entitled "Experiments in Surveillance Capitalism: Device for Calling the Department of Homeland Security" is part of the exhibition "Disruptive Design & Digital Fabrication."

This system uses custom electronics to programmatically speak search terms into a seance-like ring of a dozen Google Home smart speakers. The system searches for controversial search terms that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are reported to monitor. The idea is that these "red flag" keyword Google searches will attract the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, or CSIS. This system plays with the fear that individuals have about privacy with contemporary smart devices. Related to this, in Canada there have been recent concerns about Huawei's ties to the Chinese government in regard to 5G network infrastructure — but it is worth also considering how companies like Google collect, synthesize, and sell our private information.

Here is the concept art for a larger version of the piece. The image above is of the scaled-down version which is part of the Gales Gallery show opening tonight.

Read the rest

Super Mario Valentine's Day Card

Feb 3, 2020


Nothing says "I love you" more than a greeting card featuring a indefatigable, tube-crawling plumber with a shroom-habit. Get this Hallmark Nintendo Super Mario Valentine's Day Card for Significant Other on Amazon for just . Read the rest

Check out these 14 backpacks, slings and travel bags from Incase on sale for up to 74% off

Feb 3, 2020


We’ve all got our hands full. And we’re not talking about tight schedules, full task lists and other assorted day-to-day hassles of life here. No, we’re talking literally. With keys, papers, purses, and wallets, devices like smartphones, cameras, laptops and tablets, not to mention all that hyper-specific stuff each of us needs every day, our hands are absolutely, completely, 100-percent chock full all the time.

Thankfully, Incase probably already has a bag tailored to even your highly individualized utility belt of necessities. We’ve assembled the full roster of Incase bags and backpacks they’ve got on sale now at up to 74 percent off so you can find the one that speaks to your jam-packed life.

Incase Drone & Camera Bags - $49.99 (Originally $199.95)

Did you know there are bags with special compartments made just for drones? Incase’s Drone Collection bag features padded spots for your flying robot, your assorted cameras, and controllers, even a cushioned back panel to store a 15-inch MacBook to keep all your drone gear or photography equipment in one highly mobile place.

Incase Camera Pro Pack - $99.99 (Originally $219.95)

Camera lenses ain’t cheap — and this spacious 21-inch durable 840D abrasion-resistant nylon camera bag has room to keep a full-frame DSLR with an attached lens cozy and protected. Of course, it also features loads of extra pockets for memory cards and all the other attachments a true photog needs.

Incase DSLR Sling Pack (Navy or Anthracite) - $57.95 (Originally $89.95)

Sling packs are perfect for more compact, on-the-go needs. Read the rest

Australia's location corrected

Feb 3, 2020


Australia sits on a fast-moving tectonic plate and is drifting north several inches a year. As its GPS coordinates haven't been updated since 1994, the discrepancy has grown to six feet and has begun causing trouble. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the continent's location is being fixed.

On January 1, the Victorian and NSW governments updated the coordinates of every road, property and geographical feature in their states, essentially moving the south-eastern seaboard 1.8 metres north-east overnight. Official government road maps and property boundaries will now line up perfectly with GPS location data.

“The real importance with data is it all lines up. Roads, people's property boundaries all line up,” says Ms Underwood. It will take some time for companies like Google to pick up and implement the new data. But when they do, you will enjoy slightly more accurate satellite navigation.

Read the rest

Socially conservative mom says racy halftime entertainment drove distraught 13-year-old son to his bedroom

Feb 3, 2020


43-year-old Shakira and 50-year-old Jennifer Lopez at the Super Bowl from r/Celebhub

I learned that an important sportsball event took place in the United States yesterday. Apparently the game was interrupted with a song-and-dance routine that many people found pleasant. However, some people took umbrage at the choice of entertainment, including William Franklin Graham III, the Christian evangelist, missionary and trufan of the pussy-grabber in chief. Graham posted the following statement on Facebook:

In response, a mother of a 13-year-old boy shared Graham's sentiments:


Then another person weighed in:


When Graham's and the others' comments were posted to Twitter, several people commiserated with the mother.


  Read the rest

High school drummer plays Pornhub intro music at school rally, and was allegedly suspended

Feb 3, 2020


Here’s the Context

— ★Lil Chu★ (@LilChuSSB) February 2, 2020

A high schooler who played the intro music for PornHub videos received am immediate raucous response from his fellow students. The person who tweeted the video said the young man was suspended. Read the rest

SatoshiQuest is a game where players compete to find hidden bitcoin treasure in Minecraft

Feb 3, 2020


It costs $1 in bitcoin to receive an in-game life on the SatoshiQuest Minecraft server. From there, you can start looking for bitcoin treasure (equal to 90% of the money collected from all the players) hidden within the blocky simulated world.

From Coindesk:

The first round of SatoshiQuest began on Jan. 26 and the game resets once treasure has been found. The server checks the bitcoin spot price every 15 minutes, automatically updating the participation fee to keep it at $1.

The project is open source, with the code available on GitHub.

Ninety percent of total game fees go towards the treasury address, with the remaining 10 percent going towards developer costs. After finding the treasure, winners receive 85 percent of the balance, while the remaining 5 percent is kept the wallet until the next round. The reward is only paid out if the treasury wallet balance exceeds the transaction fee.

[via Super Punch]

Image by allinonemovie from Pixabay Read the rest

This wood-fired hot tub is $20,000

Feb 3, 2020


This is the Tubmarine, a wood-burning hot tub. According to the company, the tub takes less than two hours to heat up and comfortably seats four adults. It's built from sustainably-sourced Kebony timber, 80% recycled stainless steel, and outfitted with a Kirami wood-fired water heater from Finland. The starting price is £15,450.00 (US$20,070). If you prefer a classic 1970s style tub though, Kirami has those for sale at around $4,000.

Read the rest

Paul Simon explains his song "Mrs. Robinson" to Dick Cavett (1970)

Feb 3, 2020


I'm really loving these old clips from The Dick Cavett Show on YouTube. Here's a 5-minute clip of Paul Simon telling Cavett about his music making process, his involvement in The Graduate, and how he wrote "Mrs. Robinson."

This is as good a time as any to share a theory about The Graduate that my late friend Mike Vodneck told me his high school teacher had about why Mrs. Robinson was willing to destroy her marriage to keep Ben from dating her daughter, Elaine. It's because Ben and Elaine were half-siblings. Try watching the movie with that in mind and see how it holds up. Read the rest

Man lights up marijuana joint in court, judge oddly not amused

Feb 3, 2020


This undated photo provided by the Wilson Country Sheriff’s Office shows Spencer Alan Boston. Authorities in Tennessee say Boston lit a cannabis cigarette in court while expressing his views on marijuana legalization. News outlets report Boston, 20, was arrested Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, and charged with disorderly conduct and simple possession after blazing a fattie in the courtroom. (Wilson Country Sheriff’s Office)

A gentleman in Lebanon, Tennessee man fired up a marijuana cigarette in the courtroom, authorities said, and for some reason, his situation did not improve.


Spencer Alan Boston, 20, was arrested Monday and charged with disorderly conduct and simple possession after sparking up in the courtroom, news outlets reported.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said Boston was in court Monday on a simple drug possession charge. Boston approached the bench to discuss his sentence but instead expressed his views on legalizing marijuana.

Boston reached in his pocket, pulled out a marijuana cigarette, lit it, smoked it and was immediately taken into custody, Bryan said.

No word on whether the dude was smoking just weed, or weed mixed with tobacco, but we can all agree on one thing: poor guy is not smoking with a full pipe, if you catch my drift.

More: Sheriff: Man stirs the pot by lighting joint in court [] Read the rest

20 worshippers trampled to death during Tanzania church service

Feb 3, 2020


At at least 20 worshippers were killed in a stampede at a prosperity gospel church service in Tanzania on Sunday when the pastor told the thousands in attendance to come forward to get anointed with blessed miracle oil that solves all problems, reports The Telegraph. After the deadly incident, the pastor attempted to flee the country but was arrested before he could escape.

Pastor Boniface Mwamposa had been drawing huge crowds by promising prosperity and cures for diseases to worshippers who step in what he calls "blessed oil" during his services.

He was arrested on Sunday in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, as he attempted to flee the country, home affairs minister George Simbachawene said on Sunday.

"Mwamposa tried to flee after this incident, but we arrested him in Dar es Salaam ... he will be held accountable for causing this tragedy," the minister said.

According to the minister, the stampede took place after the pastor instructed worshippers, who numbered some 10,000, to rush to one side of the stadium all at once to get anointed.

Who else thinks that Pastor Mwamposa will say the people died because they lacked faith?

Image: YouTube/Kenya Citizen TV Read the rest

Early spring ‘a certainty’ - Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil

Feb 3, 2020


“Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.”

Punxsutawney Phil said it on Sunday, gotta be true.

From The Associated Press:

At sunrise on Groundhog Day, members of Punxsutawney Phil’s top hat-wearing inner circle revealed the cuddly oracle’s prediction — his 134th, according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office. Awoken by the crowd’s chants of “Phil!” the groundhog was hoisted in the air for the assembly to hail before making his decision. He then grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle announced that spring would come early this year.

The annual event has its origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early. In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That’s about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.

More: Pennsylvania groundhog declares early spring 'a certainty' Read the rest

Hopefully This Cat Does Not Exist

Feb 3, 2020


You've seen This Cat Does Not Exist, now behold Hopefully This Cat Does Not Exist, whereby the failings of generative adversarial networks become their horrifying strengths.

I'm a big fan of the ones where GANs try to write meme captions and ends up with this ... abyssal syllabary. AI text generation naturally focuses on creating readable phrases, but training it on the appearance of text is where the cold magic springs.

Read the rest

China virus outbreak may impact Apple iPhone if China extends Foxconn factory halt

Feb 3, 2020


• Coronavirus, which WHO declared a global health emergency, threatens to disrupt Chinese manufacturing

The deadly virus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China continues to spread and claim lives around the world. At this time, still, the vast majority of infected patients and deaths are in mainland China, Hubei province.

The epidemic is also impacting business, finance, and technology production in China.

Apple's iPhone production relies in part on a Foxconn factory that has been shut down by the Chinese government.

If the halt is extended, Reuters reports today, this could impact iPhone production, availability, and sales.

Foxconn has so far sustained a “fairly small impact” from the outbreak, because the company shifted load to other factories in Vietnam, India and Mexico to fill the gap.


In Eastern China’s Suzhou, one of its largest manufacturing hubs, companies have been told to stay shut until at least Feb. 8 and in Shanghai until Feb. 9. Factories in the southern manufacturing hub of Dongguan in export-oriented Guangdong province have also been told not to open before Feb. 10 (...)

The source said a halt beyond Feb. 10 could disrupt Foxconn’s shipments, highlighting concerns about production hubs in the southern province of Guangdong and the city of Zhengzhou in Henan province where key iPhone plants are located.

“What we are worried about is delays for another week or even another month. The impact would be big,” the source said. “It definitely will have an impact on the Apple production line.”

“The tricky question is whether we will be able to resume production (on Feb.

Read the rest

Take a tour inside Wuhan's new coronavirus hospital, built in just 10 days

Feb 3, 2020


As the novel coronavirus in China was picking up speed in January, its epicenter in Wuhan needed more beds, fast. So they built a hospital with almost 800 beds (two per room) in a mere ten days. Now ready to admit patients (even though, according to this video, some showers still need to be installed and glue is still drying), here is a quick peek inside.

And for the actual build, here's am amazing time lapse video of the construction. Read the rest

Incredible time lapse video of coronavirus hospital that China built in just 10 days

Feb 3, 2020


Where there's a will... It took just 8 days for China to build a large new hospital in Wuhan specifically to care for coronavirus patients. Another one is under construction. From The Guardian:

Construction work started on the Huoshenshan hospital on 23 January and finished eight days later, a day short of breaking their own record time set in 2003... The new hospital has 1,000 beds and is expected to begin admitting patients from Monday

And here is a tour of the interior! Read the rest

China: Why are you making such a big deal out of this virus thing, USA

Feb 3, 2020


Chinese WHO delegate warns of “deliberately creating panic” over Novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Shake: a typeface of letters written by someone with Parkinson's disease

Feb 3, 2020


Designer Morten Halvorsen created Shake, a typeface of letters written by someone with a tremor caused by Parkinson's disease. The handwriting is that of Halvorsen's mother.

"My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's eight years ago," Halvorsen writes. "And her handwriting has changed in the years since. I created this font to preserve her handwriting, and enable her to continue to write with her own letters."

All funds from purchases of Shake go to research on Parkinson's. You can also commission Halvorsen to make a typeface from your own loved one's handwriting.

Shake: The typeface with Parkinson's (, via Kottke) Read the rest

Police ask cafe near London attack to evacuate, cafe wants 30 minutes so people can eat

Feb 3, 2020


During the chaos of London's Streatham attack on Sunday, in which a man went on a stabbing rampage, a police officer bursts into a nearby cafe to tell customers to evacuate. And the cafe responds by asking if they could have 30 minutes for the customers to finish up (and pay the bill, which wasn't said, but...)

"Sorry guys, you're going to have to close, we have got to evacuate, I'm afraid," the officer says. "There's been a terrorist incident down there. We are closing everything down. You guys want to stay safe you will listen to me."

As customers react and start collecting their things, an employee says, "Just give us half an hour, people are just starting to eat."

"Madam, a terrorist has been shot dead just down there," the officer replies. "They've got a possible IED vest on them, which is a bomb. If you want to stay open for half-an-hour and you want to put people's lives in danger, be my guest."

Hmm, run away from a terrorist attack, or polish off my Reuben sandwich?

More details at Business Insider Read the rest

An Apple watch without a crown sounds like a good idea to me

Feb 3, 2020


I love my Apple Watch. I use a Series 3 and I can not understand why I would want to upgrade it as yet. While the digital crown is more annoyance than evocative of the crown on a wind-up watch, I would not buy a new one to avoid it.

The Apple Watch 'digital crown' is a knob that spins. You could wind a digital camera between exposures, but that'd be stupid. Using the crown as screen navigation input is OK but I am willing to believe they can do better.


So, that’s pretty clear. Instead of the Digital Crown, the patent suggests an optical sensor in its place.

A direct replacement, then, because the abstract goes on:

“The input component provides a user experience that simulates user interactions with a crown that is rotatable and/or translatable.”

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure about this change and my hesitation is this: the Digital Crown is part of the essence of the Apple Watch. It is a delightful evocation of the winder found on a traditional watch, it sits in just the right place and works perfectly. Of course, the current version is very different from how it was on the first Apple Watch.

Winding a watch is a tactile pleasure, much like winding a Rolleiflex camera loaded with 120 roll film. It is annoying, however, when my watch stops and I need to set it and wind it every day. Again, we do not wind our digital cameras. Read the rest

This newly discovered cannabis compound is possibly 30 times more powerful than THC

Feb 3, 2020


Researchers identified a phytocannabinoid in Cannabis sativa that they say could be 30 times more powerful than THC, at least in their lab results. The scientists from Italy's University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and their colleagues found that in their in vitro tests, tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) showed an attraction to the nervous system's cannabinoid (CB1) receptor that's more than thirty times higher than good ol' THC. From CNN:

CBD has mostly been the focus of studies on the health benefits of cannabis, but because THCP appears to show stronger binding abilities and potency, the authors think there is potential for health benefits.

The findings could enable the production of cannabis extracts for targeted physical effects; more testing with the study's methods could further the discovery and identification of new compounds, the authors said.

"There are other minor cannabinoids and traces in the plant that can be hard to study, but by isolation we can continue to assess the effects they might offer," (said Jane Ishmael, associate professor in Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, who was not involved in the research.

"Historically, many of our medicines have been derived by or inspired by natural products. By having new compounds that bind with very high affinity, that will give scientists a new probe into biological sciences."

Read the scientific paper: "A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol" (Nature Scientific Reports)

image: Thayne Tuason (CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Montana state rep says US Constitution calls for socialists to be jailed or shot

Feb 3, 2020


State Rep. Rodney Garcia is concerned about the rise of socialists Montana. But he says there's something people can do about them - kill and imprison them.

“So actually in the Constitution of the United States (if) they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot,” Garcia told The Billings Gazette.

From the article:

Garcia said he views what he sees as an influx of socialism in Montana as a “very dangerous” situation and that socialism has destroyed countries like Venezuela.

“They’re teaching that to kids. Thank God my grandkids know it’s wrong because I teach them. And it’s a very dangerous situation," Garcia said.

Garcia added he believes socialism is growing, citing advertising he says is done by socialists on Facebook.

Photo of Billings, Montana by Steve Halama on Unsplash Read the rest

Dean and Sammy were the best part of Cannonball Run

Feb 3, 2020


This is the best part of the movie.

Sammy should have beaten Burt down tho. Read the rest

Woman spots her dog, lost in Idaho, on a Florida brewery's "adoptable dogs" beer can

Feb 3, 2020


Last week, Bradenton, Florida brewery Motorworks Brewing made headlines with their idea to put local animal shelter dogs' photos on their beer cans to help with pet adoption. Monica Mathis saw the story and recognized her dog Day Day who went missing three years ago from her Idaho home. So she called. From WFTS:

(Manatee County Animal Services's Hans) Wohlgefahrt said they checked and Day Day did have a microchip with Monica's first name, but her last name had changed and the information on it was outdated. (She had since moved to Minnesota.)

Mathis was able to provide paperwork to prove to Manatee County Animal Services that Day Day was actually her dog, Hazel.

"Once I got the confirmation I just couldn’t believe that this was actually my dog," said Mathis.

How Hazel got from Iowa to Florida is unknown.

(Thanks to our Florida bureau chief, Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest

KC Chiefs player celebrates win by paying adoption fees for dogs in KC shelter

Feb 3, 2020


Chiefs DT Derrick Nnadi celebrated their superbowl win by paying the adoption fees for all the dogs in a shelter he works with.


Derrick Nnadi is helping homeless dogs find new homes in the wake of his Super Bowl win.

The defensive tackle is paying the adoption fees for all the dogs currently available at KC Pet Project.

Nnadi has been helping out homeless animals all season though the Derrick Nnadi Foundation‘s partnership with KCPP.

You can find out how to adopt the dogs here.

Read the rest

The Bill Murray/Jeep Groundhog day commercial

Feb 3, 2020


There was a football game yesterday and this is the commercial that has everyone talking. Must have been an exciting game.

I also saw a car commercial with Arya Stark in it. It made zero sense. Read the rest

Screen testing in the 1990s

Feb 3, 2020


It's hard to explain this peculiar supercut of actors screen testing a series of lines; a meme from the late 2000s-depths that somehow broke the surface again this weekend. Some appear to be advertising slogans, others are dramatic (lines from plays) or comedic (Simpsons quotes), and some involve as-seen-on-TV-esque physical exaggerations. There's some swearing: very strong Poe's Law energy in this one.

"You Could Stop At Five Or Six Stores" is a scripted line repeatedly uttered by several actors while auditioning for an unknown commercial at the Sarantos Studio of Acting.[6] The quote rose to online notoriety and became a popular subject of parodies after an edited montage reel of the audition, which consists of various actors awkwardly delivering the tagline along with other off-screen commentaries and dramatic poses, was uploaded to YouTube in 2010.

I'm with Ruby Doo, a commenter on YouTube:

Theory: these are all people from Gen Z who learned to time travel.

Read the rest

Meet the Harmonicade, a multi-channel MIDI keyboard that uses arcade push-buttons in a Wicki-Hayden button layout

Feb 3, 2020


On, Jeremy Cook, writes about the Harmonicade, a modular 5.5 (x2) octave, multi-channel MIDI keyboard which uses arcade-style push-buttons arranged in the Wicki-Hayden button layout.

Like Dvorak layouts, this alternate note arrangement is much less common. As seen in the demo video, however, KOOP Instruments has leveraged the Wicki-Hayden setup to create a stunning dual-pad instrument that looks like a lot of fun to play. The dual input pads are entirely modular and plug into a central control unit using DB25 connectors that are wired to the buttons in a matrix.

The central board contains a Teensy 3.6, plus a number of additional buttons and knobs for control over the sound. After being properly translated, digital audio signals are passed along via a MIDI jack.

On the KOOP Instruments site, the have all of the CAD files, project code, and build instructions you need to create your own Harmonicade. Read the rest

Good deal on an excellent cat scratching post

Jan 29, 2020


We have three cats. We bought this large heavy duty scratching post in December 2015 and all three cats used it countless times throughout the day. By February 2018 it was pretty thrashed so we bought a replacement. They never get tired of using it. They also like to jump onto the little platform at the top to survey the room. We bought a second one for the upstairs. Highly recommended. Read the rest

Airline forced woman to take a pregnancy test before flying to US Territory

Jan 29, 2020


A 25-year-old Japanese woman was about to board a flight from Hong Kong to Saipan when a staff member of Hong Kong Express airlines said she would have to take a pregnancy test, reports Oddity Central. The woman had indicated on a check-in questionnaire that she was not pregnant, but the staff member didn't believe her and told her that she couldn't fly without proving she wasn't pregnant. She took the test and was found to be not pregnant.

Saipan is a United States Territory and U.S. officials are concerned about birth tourism. According to U.S. law, babies born in the United States automatically become U.S. citizens.

From Oddity Central:

The island of Saipan has apparently become a popular destination for foreign women to give birth in, since under US law any child born on one of its territories is automatically granted American citizenship. Being admitted into the North Marian Islands commonwealth is much easier than entering the United States, so it’s not very surprising that 2018 saw more tourists giving birth on Saipan than there are residents on the island.

Hong Kong Express Airways specified that Midori Nishida’s pregnancy test was meant “to help ensure US immigration laws were not being undermined”. The airline has since apologized and suspended the practice of forcing women to take pregnancy tests.

Image by Julia Fiedler from Pixabay Read the rest

Watch: Michael Bloomberg greets a dog by shaking his, uh, mouth

Jan 29, 2020


Michael Bloomberg sure has a funny way of greeting a dog. Obviously he hasn't quite mastered this trick. Watch him shake this doggo's mouth before giving him a nice scratch on the head in this tweet by @chrisjollyhale:

I regret to inform you that Mike Bloomberg attempted to shake a dog’s mouth.

— Christopher J. Hale (@chrisjollyhale) January 28, 2020

Read the rest

Sex pheromone named after a character in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" changes mice brains

Jan 29, 2020


Darcin is a pheromone found in the urine of male mice. It's used to mark territory and signal mating availability, and was named after the character Mr. Darcy who appears in Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. In the new issue of Nature, researchers at Columbia University report on how darcin "takes hold in the brains of female mice, giving cells in the brain's emotion center the power to assess the mouse's sexual readiness and help her select a mate."

From the press release:

Pheromones, such as darcin, are processed somewhat differently. They interact with a second, parallel olfactory system, which exists in animals like mice but not in people.

"Unlike people, mice have essentially two functional noses," said Dr. Demir. "The first nose works like ours: processing scents such as the stinky odor particles found in urine. But a second system, called the vomernasal nose, evolved specifically to perceive pheromones like darcin."

For today's study, the research team, which also included Dr. Hurst, Dr. Beynon and co-senior author Adam Kepecs, PhD, of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, first exposed female mice to darcin-scented urine and monitored their behavior. Nearly all of the female mice showed an immediate attraction to darcin. Then, after about 50 minutes, some females began leaving their own urinary scent markings. They also started to sing, at ultrasonic frequencies too high for the human ear to hear. Both of these behaviors are an indicator of increased sexual drive.

Image by Rama - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 Read the rest

Robocalls: Finally, DOJ seeks court enforcement action against telecoms for phone spam

Jan 29, 2020


Automated phone spam is a growing plague for anyone with a telephone, landline or cell.

The U.S. Department of Justice today announced that they're trying to get court approval to take enforcement action against various telecommunications companies for their alleged role in facilitating robocalls.

As far as I can tell, this is the first time DOJ has taken *any* enforcement action against telecoms over robocalls.

About time. Go read the announcement.

The filing accuses certain telecoms of “facilitating robocallls across their networks,” and says the losses to robocall scam victims total up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

DOJ is focusing on a set of companies that includes two groups “originating in India, and operating out of residential addresses in New York and Arizona,” said Jody Hunt, Assistant Attorney General for the department’s civil division.

From CNBC's reporting:

The groups were responsible for hundreds of millions of calls per month, Hunt said. The Justice Department is seeking court approval to stop the organizations from making further calls, he said. The companies include two Arizona-based companies and three Long Island, N.Y.-based companies, all of which were operated out of residential addresses in those states, according to the press conference.

The Arizona defendants are, SIP Retail and their owner-operators, Nicholas Palumbo and Natasha Palumbo of Scottsdale. The New York defendants are Global Voicecom Inc., Global Telecommunication Services Inc., KAT Telecom Inc. and their owner-operator Jon Kahen of Great Neck, N.Y. The defendant companies and individuals could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read the rest

Someone paid US$100,000 for the safety and arming plugs from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

Jan 29, 2020


Last month, Bonhams auctioned off these two parts from "Little Boy," the first atomic bomb that the US dropped on Japan on August 6, 1945. An unidentified buyer paid $100,000 for the red arming and green safety plugs from the bomb. From Bonhams:


This set was given by Weapons Test Officer Jeppson to his superior Edward Doll, the day after the flight. Jeppson's own set was sold in Butterfields Auctions in 2002, now privately owned, and there is a further set in the Naval Museum Washington D.C., a set that belonged to Deak Parsons, who also flew on the Enola Gay as Senior Military Technical Observer. This last set is presumed to have been given to Parsons by Jeppson.

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

United Nations was hacked in July 2019 and kept it quiet, despite its own staff being at risk

Jan 29, 2020


“If there are no consequences for the [UN] agencies for failures like these … there will be more breaches.”

Coming soon to Japan: a 60-ft walking Gundam robot

Jan 29, 2020


Who cares about the Tokyo Olympics, when a 60-foot walking RX-78-2 robot is going to be stomping around nearby Yokohama in October? It will have 24 degrees of motion and will weigh 25 tons, according to New Atlas. It sounds pretty impressive, and the video above makes it seem cool, but Yoshiyuki Tomino, who created Gundam in the late 1970s, has some harsh words for the project: "It's boring. It rubs me the wrong way ... It's just not interesting ... It feels like they're going backwards, trying to reproduce a 40-year-old original."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Q: What caused Stepford senators in GOP? A: Campaign contributions from Trump's lawyers

Jan 29, 2020


I've often wondered what kind of blackmail has got Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, et al running so scared that they now don't even try to hide their mindless, sycophantic kneeling before King Trump. But, according to Salon, the answer is much simpler than blackmail – it's about what it's almost always about: money, or in this case, campaign contributions.

Apparently, Trump's lawyers donated thousands to the GOP senate puppets. For instance, in 2017, Kenneth Starr donated $2,700 to Lindsey Graham and $2,800 to Mitch McConnell in 2019. From Salon:

Starr, who lamented that "we are living in … the age of impeachment" during the trial on Monday and accused Democrats of waging a "domestic war," gave $2,800 to McConnell in July 2019, according to CFPR.

Ray, who wanted to indict Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair but now claims Trump has been vindicated by the transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, contributed the maximum $5,600 to McConnell in September 2019, according to the report.

The contributions came months before McConnell bragged to Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would be in "total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate."

"Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel," he said. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this."

Read more details at Salon.

Image: Liz West / Flickr Read the rest

Watch a tsetse fly birth a shockingly big larva. Gross! Amazing!

Jan 29, 2020


And you thought you felt full. Check out this female tsetse fly push out a larva fat with its momma's milk. From Deep Look:

Mammalian moms aren’t the only ones to deliver babies and feed them milk. Tsetse flies, the insects best known for transmitting sleeping sickness, do it too.

(UC Davis medical entomologist Geoff Attardo) is trying to understand in detail the unusual way in which these flies reproduce in order to find new ways to combat the disease, which has a crippling effect on a huge swath of Africa.

When it’s time to give birth, a female tsetse fly takes less than a minute to push out a squiggly yellowish larva almost as big as itself...

“There’s too much coming out of it to be able to fit inside,” (Attardo) recalled thinking. “The fact that they can do it eight times in their lifetime is kind of amazing to me.”

Read the rest

US Interior bans Chinese drones and UAVs with made-in-China parts over espionage concerns -- with few exceptions

Jan 29, 2020


Order says data collected ‘could be valuable to foreign entities’

The United States Interior Department today introduced a no-fly rule that covers pretty much all Chinese drones, and all unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) made with Chinese parts, with some narrow exceptions. The big fear is espionage.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he decided to issue the order after investigating the potential security risks from drones manufactured in China, or with parts made in China.

“In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said his department will grant exceptions for tracking wildfires by air and for emergencies where human safety or property damage are at risk, such as search-and-rescue operations,” reports Katy Stech Ferek at the Wall Street Journal.

They're making exceptions for training flights and such, also.

The new policy, which will be issued in an order Wednesday, follows the temporary grounding of the department’s drone fleet last year amid rising concerns that the devices could be used for espionage. Interior officials have acknowledged that all of the department’s roughly 800 drones are made in China or with Chinese parts.

(...)The department order doesn’t mention China by name but instead directs department officials to favor domestically made drones out of concerns information collected by aerial drones could be “valuable to foreign entities, organizations and governments.”

Since the temporary ban was imposed last year, some Interior workers have complained that it has weakened their ability to survey erosion, monitor endangered species and inspect dams.

READ MORE: Interior Department Adopts Restrictions Aimed at Chinese Drones [] Read the rest

Putin has no opinion on proposal to be renamed "Supreme Leader"

Jan 29, 2020


The Kremlin says Russian president Putin "has no view" on a proposal to change his title to "Supreme Leader," reports US News and World Report. The title is one of a number being considered by a commission formed after Putin announced his desire to change the Russian constitution. From the article:

"There are... some very curious proposals among those put forward. For instance, they proposed renaming the position of head of state to 'Supreme leader'," Pavel Krasheninnikov, the government commission's co-chair, told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government newspaper.

When asked about the idea on Wednesday, the Kremlin was non-committal, calling it a "new initiative" and one of various proposals that may or may not be implemented.

"Right now all this is at the discussion stage," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "President Putin has no view on this."

Image by, CC BY 4.0, Link Read the rest

Man delivering newspapers notices a restaurant on fire and puts it out himself

Jan 29, 2020


While newspaper delivery driver, Vince Cocoroch, is on his route at 2am in Victoria, BC, Canada, he notices the side of a restaurant on fire. He calls the fire department, but rather than wait for the firetrucks to arrive, he jumps out of his car and puts out the fire himself (3:06), getting a little burned in the process.

According to Times Colonist, the paper he has been delivering since 1997:

Cocoroch phoned 911 to report the fire because the flames were starting to spread from the plastic sign to the structure itself.

“I didn’t know if I would be able to put it out or not. I know they have to call their guys and it takes a little while before they get there,” said Cocoroch.

After making the emergency call, he grabbed a rag and started beating out the flames.

“I got a little burned from it,” he said.

“When I was pounding on the fire, the plastic sign was splattering.”

Video of the fire was captured by the dash cam on Cocoroch’s delivery truck. Appropriately, it's titled Right Place - Right Time.

Read the rest

A fun simple card trick from The Curiosity Show

Jan 29, 2020


I'm glad I subscribed to The Curiosity Show on YouTube. It features segments for 1990s Australian TV for young people, and is full of DIY science demonstrations, brain teasers, tricks, and optical illusions. In this clip, the hosts demonstrate a fun card trick you can make at home.

By the way, if making trick cards interests you, I wrote a book about it a few years ago, called Trick Decks.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

There's a new news aggregator called "Knewz" and I can't believe they actually called it that

Jan 29, 2020


Knewz has a stark spot-color design (I've decided to call it Drudge Custard, but I like it!) and a completely nauseating name. It's a pure aggregator, too -- just links to other people's sites -- even though it's from the News Corp stable.

“Knewz is unique in that readers can, at a single glance, see multiple sources. It is not egregious aggregation but generous aggregation. There are mastheads from across the political and regional spectrum, and premium publishers will not be relegated in the rankings,” said Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp. works by combining cutting edge, proprietary artificial intelligence with experienced editors. The technology constantly scans hundreds of real news sources, and editors curate a selection of headlines that provide a broad perspective on stories of the day.

Aggregation is a fundamentally good thing. I hope it does well and helps revive the web as a good place to go to find out what's in the kn... sorry, the news. Read the rest

Great deal on the Parker Jotter, the best cheap yet superficially classy pen

Jan 29, 2020


Amazon is dumping Parker Jotters for only $8.99 today, less than half the usual price.

It's a basic, good ballpoint pen in a sleek metal casing that will last forever and is something of a cult favorite among EDC types, not least because it's "tactical" without broadcasting itself as a pointy six-inch metal stabber. It's even Bond-approved: GoldenEye saw the superspy issued a weaponized example by Q.

Q-Branch supplies Bond with a Parker Jotter pen that is a C4 grenade: three clicks arms the four-second fuse, another three disarms it. A classic pen, still widely available.

The ones Amazon are selling don't come with plastic explosives.

Parker Jotter [Amazon] Read the rest

FDA warns Purell to back off hand sanitizer germ-killing claims

Jan 29, 2020


The Food and Drug Administration sent an official warning letter to the makers of Purell hand sanitizer, ordering them to stop making unsupported claims about the goo's ability to fend off disease.

In the letter, dated January 17, FDA compliance director Nicholas F. Lyons takes aim at marketing literature which says the product helps "eliminate" MRSA, VRE and other diseases and reduces student absenteeism.

These statements, made in the context of the Frequently Asked Questions section, clearly indicate your suggestion that PURELL® Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizers are intended for reducing or preventing disease from the Ebola virus, norovirus, and influenza. As such, the statements are evidence of your products’ intended uses. However, FDA is currently not aware of any adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating that killing or decreasing the number of bacteria or viruses on the skin by a certain magnitude produces a corresponding clinical reduction in infection or disease caused by such bacteria or virus.

Based on the above claims, PURELL® Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizers are drugs as defined by section 201(g)(1)(B) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1)(B), because they are intended for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and/or under section 201(g)(1)(C) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1)(C), because they are intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.

Therefore, knock it off:

The violations cited in this letter are not intended to be an all-inclusive list of deficiencies regarding your products. Please be aware that you are responsible for investigating and determining the causes of these violations and for preventing their recurrence and the occurrence of other violations.

Read the rest

Crawlspace, an effective four-minute horror short

Jan 29, 2020


Danny Takacs (homepage) wrote and directed this four-minute jumper about a woman who "discovers a sinister secret hiding in her crawlspace".

The buildup's good, you know it's coming, but it gets you all the same. Read the rest

Pug has "strange" bark

Jan 29, 2020


Is this video of a pug, relaxing and barking at literally everything in site, doctored? Because I'm going to be spending the morning learning to perform a perfect impression of its unusual yap for the next time Microsoft Tech Support calls.


So heckin ferocious

Previously, in Australia:

Read the rest

Ace your taxes in 2020 with this CPA-led Quickbooks training

Jan 29, 2020


The dreaded tax season is nearly upon us, and that means it’s time to start the process of gathering all of the expenses that will give you the largest deduction possible.

The Quickbooks Pro Desktop Certification Bonus Bundle will help take the headaches out of this miserable processes by teaching you how to use one of the world’s most popular and powerful pieces of accounting software, and right now it’s available for any price you want to pay.

With 8 courses led by a certified CPA, this bundle will walk you through everything from the fundamentals to the more advanced elements of this award-winning numbers platform.

After an introduction to the basics of the interface, you’ll learn how to manage all of your income and expenses by organizing entries based on category, how to practice sound data-entry and reporting methods, how to plan for your financial future, and more.

There’s also a course dedicated to teaching small business owners how to keep track of every expense, through training that walks you through spreadsheet analysis, cost monitoring, and tax preparation.

Do yourself a financial favor in 2020 and land the Quickbooks Pro Desktop Certification Bonus Bundle for any price you want to pay. Read the rest

McDonaldland commercial from 1970

Jan 29, 2020


I would like to have now whatever they served in McDonaldland in 1970, which clearly involved more than beef, bread and condiments.

Read the rest

Black Magic Craft unboxes a full-color 3D-printed Hero Forge miniature

Jan 29, 2020


Jeremy of Black Magic Craft managed to get his hands on one of the prototype 3D printed full-color(!) miniatures that Hero Forge is currently offering in their Kickstarter campaign for Hero Forge 2.0.

As you can see from the video, the results are pretty impressive, as are the other miniature design and digital painting tools coming in Hero Forge 2.0. Given all of this gamery goodness, it is perhaps no surprise that Hero Forge's Kickstarter campaign has already racked up over $2 million, with 15 days still to go. Read the rest

An update from Chelsea Manning's support team on her ongoing incarceration

Jan 29, 2020


[[Chelsea Manning's support team sends us this update on Chelsea Manning and her courageous fight against Grand Juries, which has seen her imprisoned for months, effectively in solitary, a situation that the UN Rapporteur on Torture has deemed to be a form of torture. Our hearts are with Chelsea. -Cory]]

We wanted to let everyone know about the new website that just went up at, where people can learn more about Chelsea Manning's current situation.

Chelsea has been incarcerated for more than 9 months for her principled refusal to give testimony before a grand jury convened to investigate and prosecute journalists whose work threatens to expose government misdeeds. She is also being fined $1,000 per day for every day she refuses to testify, and has accrued over $200,000 in fines so far.

Chelsea has repeatedly explained her conscientious objection to Grand Jury proceedings, citing their secrecy, their susceptibility to prosecutorial abuse, and the long history of grand jury abuse to target and harass activist communities.

To be clear: Chelsea has not been charged with, let alone convicted of a crime, but she can be imprisoned for up to 18 months, until either the term of the grand jury expires, or she agrees to cooperate with their investigation. While this kind of “coercive confinement” is legal in the United States, Nils Melzer, the UN Rapporteur on Torture, recently condemned Chelsea’s confinement, explaining the ways in which such confinement is a violation of international law, and calling for her immediate release. Read the rest

Anti-Trump Conservative PAC launches a brutal attack ad against Arizona Senator Martha McSally

Jan 29, 2020


The Lincoln Project was announced in a New York Times op-ed in December 2019. Written by George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson, the declared their mission to be:

[D]efeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.

They've already blasted White Evangelical Christians and Senator Susan Collins of Maine. For their next trick, they've turned their attention to Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, who lost her re-election campaign to Krysten Sinema but managed to retain her seat by appointment. More recently, she yelled at a reporter for being a "liberal hack" and then blamed the backlash on her gender.

Lordy, this ad is BRUTAL. 😳

cc: @SenMcSallyAZ

— Matt Rogers 🎙 (@Politidope) January 28, 2020

I wouldn't normally share something with so much mean girl attitude and John McCain hero worship, but it might be the kind of bullying show of weakness that could successfully humiliate her in the eyes of the Trump base (especially since Arizona voters already rejected her). Also, "You'll be remembered as just another Trump hack, if you're remembered at all" is a pretty glorious own.

McSally will be running against Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of former US Representative Gabby Giffords, in November. Read the rest

Do you know the Mushroom Man who lives in Jamaica Plain?

Jan 29, 2020


I'd met Tyler of Mushrooms For My Friends a few times socially. I knew that he made a living as a mushroom forager, working for some guy who allegedly had the market cornered on toadstool distribution in the greater Boston area and beyond. But I didn't really understand anything else about the operation, other than that, well, people pay good money for a prime piece of a fungus.

Thanks to a recent New England Cable News feature, I now know that Tyler works for a man named Ben Maleson, a sextuagenarian who has spent most of his adult life in the mushroom trade. Maleson is every bit as quirky and corny as one would hope an international mushroom dealer would be, delivering up plenty of "fun guy" puns as he tells the story of how he molded this career path for himself. Spoiler: it's pure happenstance and hustle, kind of like how tasty fungus grows.

Also he plays the mushroom trumpet.

Maleson (understandably) plays coy on the subject of magic mushrooms — "they're all special," he says. One would assume he at least knows how to identify the fun ones, though I couldn't tell you if he keeps tabs on where they do or don't grow.

Anyway, it's a short, fun look at a very odd job.

Image via Pexels Read the rest

Save the planet one sip at a time with this reusable straw

Jan 29, 2020


You don’t need to be a climate scientist in order to know that the Earth is in serious trouble, but the good news is that you also don’t need to necessarily make any drastic changes to your lifestyle in order to do your part to help.

This nOcean Wearable Reusable Silicone Straw will help you reduce your plastic usage so you can help save the planet a few sips at a time, and it’s currently available for 20% off its usual price.

This reusable, medical-grade straw reduces single-use plastic pollution and doubles as a stylish bracelet to boot.

Available in three unique color combinations, the nOcean straw is made from sanitary silicone and surgical steel—meaning it's made to last even after extended periods of use without degrading.

Its smooth metal tip makes for a uniquely comfortable and satisfying drinking experience, and when you’re not using it you can simply transform the straw into a sleek bracelet in order to ensure that you have your go-to straw wherever you go.

Do your part for the environment while rocking a stylish bracelet that doubles as an eco-friendly straw. The nOcean Wearable Reusable Silicone Straw is available for just $15.99 today. Read the rest

Remembering the Awhatukee House of the Future, a "shining home of dreams" that became a $3 tourist trap

Jan 29, 2020


In 1979, construction concluded on the Awhatukee House of the Future, a $1.2m model home in the new Phoenix suburb of Ahwatukee Village, co-built with input from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin Associated Architects and equipped with 10 networked Motorola processors that retailed for $30,000.

The Awhatukee house was ambitious in both its architecture and automation, partially buried to adapt to the Phoenix climate, and striking in its exterior (The Haunted Closet says it "looks something like the star-child offspring of a mid-century modern church and an inter-dimensional spacecraft" -- it even had a conversation pit!

The systems were very impressive too, beginning with passive solar water-heating but extending to "Tuke" (short for Awhatukee), the automation system that could actuate windows, doors and blinds, and optimize temperature by analyzing energy use. Terminals in the main rooms allowed access to local messages and recipes, and could fetch banking information from your bank.

Tuke used a voice synth that made it sound like Wargames's WOPR, and could recite jokes and nursery rhymes.

The house was filled with CCTVs and motion sensors and had a keyless entry system controlled by a numeric keypad.

No one bought the house, though. From 1980-1984, it was a $3 tourist attraction, with 250,000 visitors over the years -- it finally sold and became a private residence in 1984.

The Haunted Closet has fantastic photos and backstory on the Awhatukee House, including details of its appearance on the TV show "That's Incredible."

It was conceived as a "shining home of dreams", an "experimental living laboratory and testing ground", a "magnificent prism of Man's dreams" where the ideas of tomorrow are experienced today.

Read the rest

Pranking French Stewart with dolls, which he is afraid of

Jan 29, 2020


Burbank librarian Sarah McKinley Oakes (previously) also nannies for a six year old whose parents are French Stewart -- from Third Rock from the Sun -- and the actor Vanessa Claire Smith. Smith and Oakes have a friendly, normal relationship, but when it comes to French Stewart, things are awesomely weird.

As Oakes describes it, her relationship with French Stewart is defined by "trash talk, sarcasm, and my (probably fake) attempts to steal his money" -- with a healthy dollop of pranking.

Enter Stewart's unwise admission that he is frightened of dolls ("pediophobia"). Oakes seized on this and turned it to her advantage, slowly but surely terrorizing Stewart with a series of horror-doll-themed pranks, each more fiendish than the last, each demonstrating that when it comes to comprehensive, well-planned pranks, you should not fuck with a librarian.

Then I started posting pictures to his Facebook page, almost every day.

I had the doll study a map showing how to get from where I live in Burbank to his house in West Hollywood.

I showed the doll reading a book about haunted dolls (I work at a library, when I’m not a nanny)

This doll has a bloody stump where her hand should be, making it clear that she’s written this note in her own blood, that she got by cutting off her hand.

To establish that there was not just one but several dolls, I had them gather to watch French on an episode of NCIS.

For a week or so, the main doll (I elected her president of the dolls) worked at breaking into his house, eventually succeeding.

Read the rest

I'm the Author Guest of Honor at Baycon 2020, May 22-25!

Jan 28, 2020


Baycon is a large, regional science fiction convention that's been serving the Bay Area for 38 years; I attended several times when I lived in San Francisco and this year I was tickled to be invited to attend as Author Guest of Honor. The event is May 22-25 (Memorial Day Weekend) at the San Mateo Airport San Francisco Marriott (at Hwy 92 & 101 in San Mateo, CA). The convention is one of the best regional cons I've ever attended, with an outstanding mix of fannish activities (boffer swords! flint-knapping! multiple warring Klingon clades!), literary panels, and panels on tech, politics and other subjects salient to the Bay Area. I'm so pleased to be invited and I'm looking forward to seeing you there! Read the rest

College course on "adulting" so popular it's now turning students away

Jan 28, 2020


Now in its second year, a UC Berkeley basic life skills class has become so popular that it's had to turn 200 wannabe adults away. The eight-week pass/no pass course teaches young people how to be more responsible and grown-up, ie. how to "adult." They learn how to budget for food, do taxes, manage relationships, and more.


Other areas include fitness, nutrition and mental health.

"Self-care, self-love and sleep," [instructor Belle] Lau continued.

Many students admit they struggle making the transition to self-reliance in college.

"It's harder to budget when you're not living at home because you have a lot more expenses," said Lauren Frailey, 19, an economics major.

"I'm excited to learn how to manage my time better and that will definitely help me manage my stress as well."

The class was launched by Lau and a fellow biology major Jenny Zhou.

Now juniors, when they arrived at U.C. Berkeley from out-of-state, they felt lost without family nearby to rely on.

"We can only call them on the phone if we need help, but that only goes so far," said Lau.

(Image: Eli Christman , CC-BY, unmodified) Read the rest

Arizona HOA threatens residents with fines for posting critical comments about its board

Jan 24, 2020


The Homeowners' Association in Val Vista Lakes -- a private community in Gilbert, Arizona -- has threatened at least 11 residents with fines of $250 each if they do not delete Facebook posts that are critical of the HOA and its board, thereby demonstrating the case for criticizing the HOA and its board.

The controversial posts relate to a recent, contentious board election, and involve candidates for board seats.

“Compared to what you see on the national level, it was pretty moderate,” said Keith Faber, a former board member who participated in some of the discussion.

He was among residents to receive a letter from the HOA attorney.

“The comments you have posted specifically defame and negatively impact others in the community,” the letter to Faber reads. “The Association demands that you cease posting any disparaging, speculative, or defaming comments that negatively impact specific individuals in the Association or on the Board.”

Gilbert HOA board may fine Val Vista Lakes residents $250 per day over critical social media posts [Alison Steinbach/Arizona Central]

(Thanks, Rick!)

(Image: Val Vista Lakes) Read the rest

This Bluetooth speaker creates a unique listening experience based on where its placed

Jan 24, 2020


Traditional headphones are overrated, especially now that this HumBird Bone-Conducting Speaker allows you to enjoy a rich and completely unique listening experience depending on where you place it.

A must-have item for true audiophiles looking to switch up their usual listening routine, this compact speaker uses cutting-edge bone conduction technology in order to deliver a high-volume sound that’s completely customizable based on your individual preferences.

It delivers your favorite tunes by turning them into mechanic vibrations of different frequencies—leveraging the effects of the different materials you place it near.

You’ll be able to listen to music for up to three hours on a single charge, and it’s easy to take this tiny-yet-mighty speaker with you on the go thanks to its small size and lightweight design.

Ditch the boring speakers and transform your listening experience with a HumBird Bone-Conducting Speaker, currently available for over 35% off at $26.99.

Prices are subject to change.

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

Bipartisan consensus is emerging on reining in Big Tech

Jan 24, 2020


House Antitrust chairman David Cicilline's interview with The Verge's Nilay Patel reveals the exciting shifts in how Congress thinks about Big Tech's monopolies.

Cicilline doesn't think Congress can break up Big Tech, though he moots passing a "Glass-Steagall for tech" that makes tech companies engage in "structural separation" -- for example, platform companies would not be allowed to compete with the companies that use their platforms. And he wants to do a lot more scrutiny of mergers in the future, which is an outstanding idea.

I'm worried, though, that if they start blocking future mergers but don't unwind past mergers, they'll just lock in the monopolies of the companies that did their merging in the past -- for example, if future Google competitors can't buy ad-tech companies but Google gets to keep Doubleclick, it basically guarantees Google's eternal dominance. I'm not saying we should allow future search companies to buy ad-tech companies, rather, advocating for breaking Google up on structural lines.

Also notably absent from the conversation: breakups of other industries, like ISPs, entertainment conglomerates, banks, etc, etc.

But I do think that the other suggestion that Sen. Warren has made is a really interesting one and something I think about a lot: the notion of “You can be either a platform or you can be a manufacturer or a producer of services, but you can’t do both.” Sort of the Glass-Steagall of the internet. It’s kind of an interesting idea because people go to a platform thinking, somehow, when they do a search, there’s some neutral way that evidence is reviewed, and you’re provided with a result from that search.

Read the rest

US insurers, sick of being gouged by Big Pharma, will develop cheap generics

Jan 23, 2020


The US health insurance industry resents being on the receiving end of surprise bills and price-gouging, so Blue Cross/Blue Shield are spending $55m to have the nonprofit Civica Rx tool up to make generics of off-patent drugs whose sole manufacturers are shkreliing the prices into the stratosphere.

Civica already supplies drugs to 1,200 hospitals.

Drugmakers hiked prices 1,000% in massive price-fixing scheme, states allege In an interview with The New York Times, Civica board chairman Dan Liljenquist said that the new venture “will not solve all the problems of the world, but we do know that 90 percent of prescriptions are generic, and there are certain parts of the generic markets that are not functioning like competitive markets should. And we intend to compete in those markets.”

Sick of Big Pharma’s pricing, health insurers pledge $55M for cheap generics [Beth Mole/Ars Technica] Read the rest

Get this 7-piece cutlery set from Schmidt Brothers for 30% off

Jan 23, 2020


You don’t need to be a professional chef in order to enjoy a great set of knives in your kitchen, yet far too many would-be culinary pros settle for subpar blades that lose their edge after a few months.

This Schmidt Brothers® Cutlery Carbon 6 7-Pc Knife Block Set will bring a new level of quality and style to your kitchen, and they’re available for just $181.99.

Crafted with the home chef in mind, these knives are made from 100% German stainless steel that offers incredible strength and durability, and you’ll never have to worry about the edges going dull even after repeated uses.

They feature an ergonomic Schmidt Brothers Curve for a comfortable grip, and the included magnetic knife block makes it easy to stylishly store the knives when you’re not using them.

Embrace your inner chef by ditching the underwhelming knives and landing a Schmidt Brothers® Cutlery Carbon 6 7-Pc Knife Block Set while it’s available for $181.99—30% 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

Russian comedian who dissed Putin flees country

Jan 23, 2020


"I didn't plan to be persecuted simply for joking," he said.

LEGO step-by-step build: Ultimate Millennium Falcon

Jan 23, 2020


Oh this is gloriously satisfying.

IMGURian Phoenix3600 did a step-by-step build gallery of what I am assuming is the very pricey and fancy LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon 75192 Expert Building Kit.

I no longer need to buy it, as I have seen all the assembly photos and foud them to be most pleasing indeed.

I built a thing, grown men can still have these right?

Read the rest

Albert Einstein's funny face is on the world's smallest gold coin

Jan 23, 2020


In Switzerland, the state-owned Swissmint says today that a 2.96-millimeter (0.12-inches) gold coin created with Albert Einstein's face on it is the smallest in the world.

The coin, shown above, weighs 0.063 grams (1/500th of an ounce) and has a nominal value of 1/4 Swiss francs ($0.26).

From the Associated Press:

Swissmint said the coin, of which just 999 have been made, will be sold for 199 francs with a special magnifying glass so owners can see the famous physicist on its face.

IMAGE courtesy Swissmint: A gold coin with the face of Albert Einstein on the image side. (Handout Swissmint/Benjamin Zurbriggen) Read the rest

Scientists recreate sound of Egyptian mummy's voice from 3,000 years ago

Jan 23, 2020


Researchers in Berlin claim to have succeeded in re-creating the sound of the voice of an Egyptian person who died 3,000 years ago, and was entombed as a mummy.

The scientists say they managed to mimic the mummy's voice (well, the voice of the living person the mummy used to be) by recreating portions of the vocal tract using medical scanners, 3D printing and an electronic larynx.


In a paper published Thursday by the journal Scientific Reports, the authors say the technique allowed them to produce a single sound - somewhere between the vowels in ‘bed’ and ‘bad.’

The eerie tone is unlikely to be a precise reflection of the speech of Egyptian priest Nesyamun, whose mummified body the researchers worked with, because the tongue has lost much of its bulk over three millennia.

“We have made a faithful sound for his tract in its current position, but we would not expect an exact speech match given his tongue state,” said co-author David M. Howard of London’s Royal Holloway college.

READ MORE at the Associated Press: Ancient voice: Scientists recreate sound of Egyptian mummy

IMAGE: Crop from the original movie poster for 'The Mummy', 1932 (public domain) Read the rest

Cop investigating burglary stun guns his K9 after dog bites cow

Jan 23, 2020


Everybody hurts. No crime was solved.

In the otherwise normal town of Georgetown, South Carolina, a sheriff’s deputy who was investigating a burglary ended up using a stun gun on his own K9 after the police working dog bit a cow, which then charged at both the property owner and the deputy, reports the sheriff’s office.

Still with me?


In a statement [Link], Georgetown County sheriff’s deputies say they responded to a burglary call in the Pleasant Hill community Wednesday afternoon, when the K9 brought to the scene became “distracted” and bit a cow that belonged to the owners of the property.

The officer responded by stunning the dog to prevent serious injury to the cow, said the statement posted on Facebook.

From the Associated Press:

The dog was taken back to the cruiser, and none of the people or animals involved appeared to be seriously hurt, The Greenville News reported.

At the end of it all — it was determined the original burglary call was unfounded, the statement concluded.

More at the USA Today-owned Greenville News: SC deputy tazes his own K-9 after the dog bit a cow on an unfounded burglary call Read the rest

First 'baked in space' cookies: 2 hours at 325º in zero-g oven

Jan 23, 2020


SPOILER: Nobody got baked. Not that kind of space cookies. Sorry.

“How do they taste? No one knows.”

From the Associated Press:

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano was the master baker in December, radioing down a description as he baked them one by one in the prototype Zero G Oven. The first cookie — in the oven for 25 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) — ended up seriously under-baked. He more than doubled the baking time for the next two, and the results were still so-so. The fourth cookie stayed in the oven for two hours, and finally success.

“So this time, I do see some browning,” Parmitano radioed. “I can’t tell you whether it’s cooked all the way or not, but it certainly doesn’t look like cookie dough any more.”

Parmitano cranked the oven up to its maximum 325 degrees F (163 degrees C) for the fifth cookie and baked it for 130 minutes. He reported more success. Additional testing is required to determine whether the three returned cookies are safe to eat.

First space-baked cookies took 2 hours in experimental oven [, Thu. Jan. 23, 2020]

PHOTO: U.S. astronaut Christina Koch tweeted this image on Dec. 26, 2019. Koch and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano pose for a photo with a cookie baked on the International Space Station. Today, results are in for the first chocolate chip cookie bake-off in space. The tastiest cookies required two hours of baking time last month on the International Space Station. Read the rest

Wuhan virus puts airlines on high alert around the world

Jan 23, 2020


Here’s a good explainer from Reuters on the airline industry’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak so far. If the virus spreads becomes a pandemic, this could impact world financial markets as did SARS in 2003.

SARS killed about 800 people. Since then, people travel by plane even more, and other things have changed in global travel patterns.

“The biggest concern is a sharp drop in travel demand if the virus becomes a pandemic.”


Many airlines, including Korean Air Lines, Singapore Airlines’ budget carrier Scoot, Taiwan’s China Airlines Ltd and Japan’s ANA, announced they were cancelling flights in and out of Wuhan after authorities announced a lockdown.

South Korean budget carrier T’way Air earlier this week postponed the scheduled launch of a new route to the city.

Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed that as of 0600 GMT on Thursday, 184 Wuhan flights, or 60% of the departures listed for the day, had been canceled.

Wuhan’s Tianhe airport serves around 2% of China’s total air traffic and mainly serves domestic routes. Broker Jefferies estimated 88.8% of overall flights are domestic, with China Southern Airlines Co Ltd holding the largest market share at 30%.

Explainer: Global airlines on high alert as virus outbreak spreads [] Read the rest

Bill Clinton’s party on Epstein’s Lolita Express jet, Two Meghans demand millions, and a very Merry Christmas, in this week’s dubious tabloids

Jan 23, 2020


Bait-and-switch headlines dominate this week’s tabloids, with stories failing to live up to their advertised salacious promise.

Spain: Cops free 100s of dogs from illegal puppy farm, 5 people arrested

Jan 23, 2020


Police in Spain raided two puppy mills and rescued 270 small dogs, many of which were sick and stuffed inside cramped cages.

Five people suspected of running the illegal animal breeding and sales operation were arrested outskirts of Madrid on Thursday.

The puppy crime ring is identified as one of the largest distributors of Chihuahuas and Pomeranians in Europe. They marketed the dogs using social media, and cops say they made more than $2.2 million in US dollars in the course of roughly ten years in operation.

Excerpt from Reuters:

Among the group, mostly Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, police found two dead animals whose frozen bodies had been wrapped in newspaper. Police said the breeders had cut some of the dogs’ vocal chords, possibly to prevent them from barking and alerting neighbours.

Two of the five people arrested were veterinarians who helped give the operation a veil of legitimacy by providing stamped certificates and fitting the dogs with identification microchips.

Read more at REUTERS: Spanish police free hundreds of dogs from illegal puppy farms Read the rest

Love Letters to Hitler

Jan 23, 2020


A cult of private fealty to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler grew in the years before World War II, reflecting public fawning by the Reich's city fathers. These love letters – some from prominent Americans – now read as a warning.

Google ads look like search results now, hard to tell difference

Jan 23, 2020


Latest update blurs ads vs. search results line

Citing experience selling marijuana, unemployed Chicagoans seek permits to sell legally

Jan 23, 2020


Sweet home, Chicago!

Chicago Defender:

The men and women, some ex-felons, have turned to Tio “Mr. Ceasefire” Hardiman, executive director of Violence Interrupters, to assist them in their quest to secure permits, just like food vendors, to distribute and sell marijuana legally in their neighborhoods. For those who have felonies from illegal drug sales, they are requesting that Governor J.B. Pritzker clears the road for amnesty as soon as possible.

Hardiman and those seeking permits and amnesty will hold a rally and press conference outside The Herbal Care Center, 1301 S. Western Ave., on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, at 10:30 AM, calling on Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot to assist them in getting permits.

“Everyone is promising to direct profits from the sale of marijuana into the communities that have been most impacted by the sale of illegal drugs,” Hardiman said. “Well, these unemployed men and women are saying they can’t wait until that happens. And to be frank, they don’t believe it will happen. History shows those promises are never kept. The licensed cannabis businesses are already making millions of dollars from sales since January 1, and those citizens with the most experience in the industry are still in the streets unemployed.”

Read the rest

Clearview AI founder linked to Trump world and Far-Right, NYPD denies facial recognition firm's boast that it helped catch terrorist suspect

Jan 23, 2020


• Hoan Ton-That, founder of facial recognition tech firm Clearview AI, previously connected to Trump world figures and online hate extremists, reports Buzzfeed News

• Chuck Johnson, Mike Cernovich, and Rudy Giuliani are among the linked figures named in Buzzfeed report

• NYPD disputes facial recognition firm Clearview AI's claim that it identified a terrorism suspect

Clearview AI is reported to have built a database of billions of photos that it says can reveal pretty much anyone's identity.

Twitter just told them to stop scraping photos, lawmakers are concerned about the implications, and now Buzzfeed News raises troubling questions about the company's past.

From the Buzzfeed report by by Ryan Mac, Caroline Haskins, and Logan McDonald:

Clearview AI, a facial recognition company that says it’s amassed a database of billions of photos, has a fantastic selling point it offers up to police departments nationwide: It cracked a case of alleged terrorism in a New York City subway station last August in a matter of seconds. “How a Terrorism Suspect Was Instantly Identified With Clearview,” read the subject line of a November email sent to law enforcement agencies across all 50 states through a crime alert service, suggesting its technology was integral to the arrest.

It’s a compelling pitch that has helped rocket Clearview to partnerships with police departments across the country. But there’s just one problem: The New York Police Department said that Clearview played no role in the case.

That's the first question. The NYPD says they're full of shit. Read the rest

I love this Logitech gaming mouse and have no idea why it is cheaper than similar models

Jan 23, 2020


I use this Logitech G502 Hero SE. It is wonderful.

I recently switched from controller to Keyboard + Mouse for my video gaming. This mouse is just great.

The shape of the mouse and the button placement just feels right in my hand. The adjustable weight system let me fine-tune the devices gravitas as I wing it around, trying to headshot some 13-year-old before they shoot me.

While the 'Hero' sensor reads upto 16000 dpi, I usually set it way down to 800 in Fortnite. This lets me turn in a more controlled manner and doesn't have the mouse zipping all over the place.

I don't really care much about the ever-changing colors that light the mouse up, but it seems all my PC gaming gear likes to do this rainbow display... and it is kinda pleasing.

I have no idea why this SPECIAL EDITION of the mouse is cheaper than the regular one, but it is and I like it!

I am gonna admit right now that moving back to KB+M over controller may screw my carpal tunnel right to hell, but I'll be super sensitive to it, and try to stop before I feel any pain. I am already playing less, but enjoying the games I play more. Sacrifices we make, right?

Logitech G502 SE Hero High Performance RGB Gaming Mouse with 11 Programmable Buttons via Amazon Read the rest

Unauthorized Charcoal: GE fridges won't dispense ice or water unless your filter authenticates as an official ($55!) component

Jan 23, 2020


@ShaneMorris: "My fridge has an RFID chip in the water filter, which means the generic water filter I ordered for $19 doesn't work. My fridge will literally not dispense ice, or water. I have to pay @generalelectric $55 for a water filter from them."

Sound familiar?

(Image: GE, Cryteria, CC-BY, modified)

Read the rest

Uncovering two lost comedy albums from cult comic Dick Davy, who once championed civil rights and antiracism

Jan 23, 2020


Jason Klamm from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast (previously) writes, "In late 2018, I uncovered the true identity of comic Dick Davy. Since starting his archive, I've come across some real gems, but in August, one find took the cake. His niece, Sharon, mailed me two records that had been sitting in a box, and it turns out these are unreleased acetates of material no one has heard in almost sixty years. I had Firesign Theatre archivist Taylor Jessen transfer and do a quick clean-up of them. This episode discusses their contents and what their future might be." (MP3) Read the rest

Today in history 1983: NBC airs 'The A-Team'

Jan 23, 2020


The Los Angeles underground is absolutely one of my favorite places.

I can not speak highly enough about The A-Team. I adore the entire cast. Mr. T has been and will remain a personal hero. Read his autobiography and be inspired.

While the B.A. in B.A. Barrakus stood for bad attitude it was Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock that I wanted to play, when my friends and I portrayed the team. Dwight Schultz was a delight and I can not watch him in Star Trek without thinking of his time on the A-Team.

Dirk Benedict's 'Starbuck' may have been overshadowed by another, but Templeton 'The Faceman' Peck? Faceman always had the coolest cars, and his backstory was the best on the program.

I liked to think that George Peppard's 'John 'Hannibal' Smith' had been so shattered by Holly Golightly's bullshit that he ended up enlisting in Viet Nam. Only by keeping his tight cadre of good-hearted, All-American soldiers alive could he mask the pain.

I love it when a plan comes together! Read the rest

I'm re-reading The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession

Jan 23, 2020


I'm re-reading The Emperor of Scent, by Chandler Burr. It's a non-fiction book about a guy named Luca Turin who is obsessed with odors, specifically, perfume fragrances.

Turin is a biophysicist who wrote a best-selling book that reviewed hundreds of perfumes, in the same way a wine reviewer would write about wine. He believes that the odor of a substance has to do with the way it vibrates on a molecular level. Our noses, he says, contain the equivalent of a scanning electron microscope. This flies in the face of conventional thought on the subject. The reigning theory is that smell is a function of a molecule’s shape, not the way it vibrates.

Burr makes a great case for Turin’s vibration theory, and the story of how nobody in academia will listen to Turin was a real eye opener. The peer review system for scientific journals is revealed to be totally corrupt. Read the rest

Turkey introduces a get-of-jail-by-marrying-the-child-you-raped law

Jan 23, 2020


Lawmakers in Turkey are hoping to pass a bill that would allow men who have sex with minors to avoid going to prison if they agree to marry their victim, reports The Independent.

From the article:

United Nations agencies warned the bill would generate a landscape of impunity for child abuse and leave victims vulnerable to experiencing additional mistreatment and distress from their assailants.

“Marry-your-rapist” bills have been seen across the world and are pushed in the name of protecting and safeguarding family “honour”.

Image by Salih Altuntaş from Pixabay Read the rest

JOHN WILCOCK: Valerie Solanas Shoots Andy Warhol

Jan 23, 2020


SCUM Manifesto author Valerie Solanas' effort to get her play "Up Your Ass" produced by Andy Warhol leads to deadly confrontations. With cameos from Maurice Girodias, Paul Krassner, and Barney Rosset.

From John Wilcock, New York Years, by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall.

(See all Boing Boing installments)

Read the rest

US releases proposed rule to ban emotional support animals on planes

Jan 23, 2020


The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is seeking to ban emotional support animals from airplane cabins, reports Roll Call. Under the proposed rule, only specially trained dogs that assist disabled people would be permitted on planes.

From Roll Call:

The rule comes amid a spate of high-profile stories of airplane passengers trying to bring support animals, including miniature horses, capuchin monkeys and peacocks, on airplanes. Airlines facing such menageries had little specific guidance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience, and we are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone," said Nicholas E. Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, a trade association.

Cats, rats, capuchin monkeys and any animal other than a dog would not qualify as a service animal under the rule, which would limit the number of service animals a passenger can bring to two.

Read the rest

Microsoft employs a giant plush Clippy whose performer has a large Clippy tattoo

Jan 23, 2020


@radmint tweeted a photo from her Microsoft New Employee orientation in which she is posed with a "celebrity Clippy"; the eagle-eyed Kristen Seversky noted that the forearm of the actor in the Clippy suit is adorned with a seemingly permanent, very prominent Clippy tattoo.

From the Wikipedia entry for "Office Assistant", AKA Clippy: "The default assistant Clippit has been heavily mocked in popular culture, being parodied, appearing in memes, and even being made fun of by Microsoft themselves from 2001 onwards."

Got to meet a celebrity #clippy at New Employee Orientation at @Microsoft #MicrosoftLife #NEO

— Paige ByStorm 🌩️ (@radmint) January 6, 2020

(via Super Punch) Read the rest

Watch this cobbler do a magical restoration of a totally thrashed pair of dress shoes

Jan 23, 2020


In this episode of Trenton & Heath, master cobbler Heath Potter resurrects a totally thrashed pair of Ferragamo loafers. You may think that 26 minutes is a long time to watch someone restore a pair of shoes, but just allow yourself to be enveloped by the artisinality of it all. The time will fly by and perhaps, like me, you will leave the experience deeply regretting having donated that pair of beat-up wingtips in the back of your closet. Read the rest

Video about heroin users who travel from Sweden to Denmark to shoot up

Jan 23, 2020


Vice has an interesting video about what happens when neighboring countries have different drug policies. (Uncensored version here.)

While Sweden rigidly sticks to its zero tolerance laws, liberal Denmark introduced drug consumption rooms (DCRs) in 2012, with special areas surrounding them where you won’t get arrested for drug possession if it’s for personal use. Copenhagen is home to one of the world’s largest government funded drug consumption rooms, H17, where users can safely smoke or inject their drugs with clean needles and medical staff on hand.

This has resulted in the local areas being safer and cleaner, as there are no longer thousands of used needles littering the streets. But Denmark’s liberal policy has had an unexpected consequence: an influx of heroin users from neighboring Sweden. We find out why Swedish heroin users prefer to sleep rough on the streets of Copenhagen rather than stay in Sweden, and which of these policies is most effective at tackling overdoses.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

German proposal to control links to news stories: headlines, 3s of video, 128 pixel thumbnails

Jan 23, 2020


One of the two very controversial proposals in last year's EU Copyright Directive fight was the "link tax," which would require licenses for links to news-sites that contained even a few consecutive words from the article or headline -- links and excerpts that would otherwise be considered fair dealing under EU law.

The rule squeaked into law last March by five votes (and later, ten MEPs said they'd been confused and had pressed the wrong buttons). Now, the EU member-states have to turn the rule into domestic law, and thus far, it's a shitshow.

The latest installment comes from Germany, which was also where the proposal for a ban on linking without permission originated, courtesy of Germany's aristocratic newspaper families, who wield enormous political influence.

The proposed German implementation would limit links to news sites to quoting the headline alone, accompanied by a maximum of 3 seconds of video and/or a 128px x 128px thumbnail. This would apply to memes, mashups, and summaries of the article in directories such as Google News or websites like this one.

This is likely to be enforced by mandatory upload filters, which are required under Article 17 of the Directive, and the German rules are likely to end up being EU-wide, given the complexity of setting up country-by-country filter rules.

You can send comments on this proposal to (the deadline is Jan 31).

The proposal states that the new ancillary copyright does not apply to hyperlinks, or to "private or non-commercial use" of press publishers' materials by a single user.

Read the rest

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

Jan 19, 2020


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


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


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


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

Been doing my egg sandwiches all wrong 🍳 🥪🤷🏻‍♂️😁✌🏼

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

Read the rest

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

Jan 18, 2020


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


Portuguese President makes sure Trump doesn't try that power handshake bullshit on him.😂😂😂

— 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



— 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


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


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


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


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


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


[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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“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 [, 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


“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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

— 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


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


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.


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

— Ian Rumanyika (@irumanyika) January 8, 2020 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


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


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


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


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


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


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!

— 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


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


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


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


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


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.

— 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

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


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 Read the rest

Pizza-making robot startup lays off 80% of staff

Jan 7, 2020


Softbank-funded unicorn Zume ran out of dough

Starbucks adds oat milk to vegan non-dairy options

Jan 7, 2020


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 [] Read the rest

Canada legalized pot. Beer consumption there dropped.

Jan 7, 2020


“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 []

Read the rest

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

Jan 7, 2020


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


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


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.

— 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


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


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


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


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

Gorilla, 3, gets treated for cataract (VIDEO)

Jan 7, 2020


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


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 “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.


Read the rest

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

Jan 7, 2020


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.

— 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.

— 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.

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

— Gargolito (@gargolito) January 7, 2020

And real photos, like this:

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


"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


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


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..! 🦇

— 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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


images via Magic Jump Read the rest

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

Jan 2, 2020


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


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,, 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


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


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


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.

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

Jan 2, 2020


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/] Read the rest

Outwit applicant trackers with this smart résumé creator

Jan 2, 2020