Peak Pokémon Go has already passed

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A new report from Axiom Capital Management suggests that Pokémon Go is on a downward trend in daily active users and engagement of those users. The data comes from Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia.

Additionally, "The Google Trends data is already showing declining interest in augmented reality, whereas interest in virtual reality remains high," says senior analyst Victor Anthony.

(Bloomberg Markets)

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Watch things happen in reverse

MarkHacks says, "Things going backwards looks cool." !eerga I

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Watch a hamster clear a Super Mario Bros. level

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Like an 8-bit Habitrail. Read the rest

Good Belly PlusShot drink package looks like it's barfing probiotics

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UPSO says, "I enjoy puking it into my fruit smoothy every day. I like the strawberry flavor the best."

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In prison, "punitive frugality" causes ramen to beat cigarettes as currency

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According to a new University of Arizona study, instant ramen is the most valuable currency at one US prison. For example, a two .59 packets of ramen could be traded for one $10 sweatshirt while one ramen packet was worth "five tailor-made cigarettes." Why did the noodles overtake cigarettes as the most valuable currency? Because the cafeteria food is terrible and it's getting worse. Sociologist Michael Gibson-Light calls it "punitive frugality." From The Guardian:

The study paints a bleak picture of the state of food available at the prison. Gibson-Light found that black-market food became more valuable after control over food preparation switched from one private firm to another in the early 2000s.

“That change was part of a cost-cutting measure,” Gibson-Light said. “With that change that resulted in a reduction in the quantity of the food the inmates were receiving.”

Inmates at the prison Gibson-Light studied went from receiving three hot meals a day to two hot meals and one cold lunch during the week, and only two meals for the whole day on the weekend...

“[Money] doesn’t change unless there’s some drastic change to the value in people using it,” he said. The shift from tobacco to ramen highlights how dire the nutritional standards at prisons has become, he added.

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George Orwell's letter from his former French teacher, Aldous Huxley, about Nineteen Eighty-Four

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Shortly after George Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, he received a letter from his onetime high school French teacher, Aldous Huxley, who had published Brave New Work 17 years earlier. Here are Huxley's comments, via Letters of Note:

Wrightwood. Cal. 21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals --- the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution --- the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology --- are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful.

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Watch all of the classic 1980s episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater free on YouTube

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The Ray Bradbury Theater was a far out 1980s television series with each episode written by Bradbury himself. With 65 suspenseful (and sometimes terrifying) episodes of dark science fiction/fantasy, The Ray Bradbury Theater shined the freaky flame of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits down the shadowy path of The X-Files and Stranger Things. And now you can watch all the episodes free on YouTube! Below are two to get you started: Marionettes, Inc. and The Playground:

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Dig the Beastie Boys soundtrack for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If only.

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Video of mysterious humanoid creature strolling in Portuguese desert

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This recently-posted video of a freaky cryptid was reportedly shot in a Portuguese "desert." Is it a sad transatlantic chupacabras? An exhausted yeti who wandered (very) far from home? A vacationing bigfoot on a bender? Or something else entirely...

(Mysterious Universe)

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Ominous music in shark videos makes people more negative about the fish

A new study suggests that the ominous background music often heard in shark documentaries correlates with viewers' fearful and negative opinions of sharks. (For the source of this musical cliche, see the 1975 trailer for Jaws above.) From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers paper in the scientific journal PLOS One:

Using three experiments, we show that participants rated sharks more negatively and less positively after viewing a 60-second video clip of swimming sharks set to ominous background music, compared to participants who watched the same video clip set to uplifting background music, or silence. This finding was not an artifact of soundtrack alone because attitudes toward sharks did not differ among participants assigned to audio-only control treatments. This is the first study to demonstrate empirically that the connotative attributes of background music accompanying shark footage affect viewers’ attitudes toward sharks. Given that nature documentaries are often regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information, it is critical that documentary filmmakers and viewers are aware of how the soundtrack can affect the interpretation of the educational content.

"The Effect of Background Music in Shark Documentaries on Viewers' Perceptions of Sharks" (PLOS One via Dangerous Minds)

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Startup aims to sell a brain implant to improve memory

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For more than a decade, University of Southern California neuro-engineer Theodore Berger has been working on an artificial hippocampus, an electronic aid for the part of the brain that scientists believe encodes experiences as long-term memories. Now Berger and a new startup called Kernel are confident that the device is ready for prime time.

"We’re testing it in humans now, and getting good initial results,” Berger told IEEE Spectrum. “We’re going to go forward with the goal of commercializing this prosthesis.”

In Berger’s approach, electrodes in the hippocampus first record electrical signals from certain neurons as they learn something new and encode the memory. These electrical signals are the result of neurons “firing” in specific patterns. Berger studied how electrical signals associated with learning are translated into signals associated with storing that information in long-term memory. Then his lab built mathematical models that take any input (learning) signal, and produce the proper output (memory) signal.

An implant could help someone whose hippocampus doesn't properly turn information into memories. An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory.

For people who have difficulty forming lasting memories on their own, the prosthetic would provide a boost. “We take these memory codes, enhance them, and put them back into the brain,” Berger says. “If we can do that consistently, then we’ll be ready to go.”

"New Startup Aims to Commercialize a Brain Prosthetic to Improve Memory" (IEEE Spectrum) Read the rest

What did Lochte say after his teammates told the police what really happened?

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What did Lochte say after his teammates told the police what really happened?

"...and I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you medaling kids!"

(bbfan23 via r/jokes)

US swimmer Lochte, Brazil police differ on robbery story (CNN) Read the rest

Naughty BMX rider schooled by skate park security guard

"Don't bmx in the middle of skateboarding runs or estonian security guards will show you how it's done!" writes Einius Žiūkas.

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Jaelyn the Alien definitely does not want to see your penis

Jaelyn the Alien, aka Baby J, says:

"So this music video was inspired by a numerous amount of recent events that include random people on the internet (meaning instagram,twitter and SNAPCHAT users) sending me pictures/nudes of their penises. Whether that is them jacking off or just the classic penis picture. This video is my response to the people who send me their revealing photographs.

(ItsBabyj1, thanks UPSO!)

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"Clickbait"-esque titles work for academic papers too

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A psycholinguist reports that some of the factors that make headlines more clicky also apply to the titles of academic journal papers. Researcher Gwilym Lockwood of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics analyzed the titles of 2,000 papers published in the journal "Frontiers in Psychology" and their Altmetric Attention Score that measures social sharing, mentions in the news, and other metrics of attention. From Phys.org:

(The titles of the 2,000 papers were) coded for positive framing (e.g. using "smoking causes cancer", rather than "the link between smoking and cancer") and phrasing arousal (e.g. referring to "gambling" rather than "mathematical decision making").

It turned out that articles with positive framing and phrasing arousal in their titles received higher Altmetric scores, meaning that they were shared more widely online. In contrast, having wordplay in the titles actually lead to lower Altmetric Attention Scores, while having a question in the title made no difference. This is independent of the length of the title or how interesting the topic was.

"This suggests that the same factors that affect how widely non-scholarly content is shared extend to academia, which has implications for how academics can make their work more likely to have more impact," Lockwood writes in her own paper.

Do you think she applied what she learned to her paper's title, "Academic clickbait: articles with positively-framed titles, interesting phrasing, and no wordplay get more attention online"? Read the rest

The story behind Stranger Things' excellent title sequence

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Saturday in San Francisco: free 20th Street Block Party with killer live music!

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This Saturday (8/20), our friends at Noise Pop and their co-conspirators are throwing their big annual music and food festival in San Francisco's Mission District! The 20th Street Block Party will feature an eclectic mix of musical performances across three stages include Miami Horror, Chicano Batman, Boulevards, Nico Yaryan, Hazel English, Spooky Mansion, Mandeline Kenney, La Gente, Dos Four, and DJ Krazy. Also making the scene will be Rocket Dog Adoption Zoo, the San Francisco Lowrider Council, and Community Music Center's Instrument Petting Zoo. Alabama Street becomes Art Row and ArtSpan and Workshop SF are offering workshops, crafts, and community art projects for all ages. Plus, of course, plenty of food and drinks (artisanal and otherwise).

My whole family looks forward to the 20th Street Block Party every year! The whole shebang is free with a suggested donation of $5-$10 to benefit the Mission Language & Vocational School. Or you can drop $95 for a VIP "Headliner Experience" ticket including green room.

20th Street Block Party Read the rest

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