Colbert on Alex Jones: "This is why you don’t mix steroids with peyote"

Stephen Colbert had fun impersonating dumbass Alex Jones on last night's Late Show, offering lots of examples of Jones' idiocy. Read the rest

Close-up video of sweat drops emerging from fingertip

This looks like a drip irrigation system on a pink farm.

There are a lot of tiny lines on fingertips and palm called epidermal ridges. The ducts of sweat glands is open on tops of the ridges causing prints that are left on a surface.

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Live burros by mail

pREAL LIVE MEXICAN BURROS

The Gift of a Lifetime for Any Youngster

From South of the Border comes this soft-eyed gentle little pet of all Mexican children, and the hard-working friend of their parents... to make Christmas this year unforgettable for your youngster! You'll be the talk of the town! Everyone will want to pet your burro.

What years of pleasure this real, live Mexican burro will bring you and your children, Lovable, huggable, long-earred, extra tame, extremely intelligent. Friendly to other animals. Easily hitched to small cart. Economical to raise. Eats anything -- straw, hay, alfalfa, corn, oats, grass, bread, etc. Hardy, select specimens -- sound, well-fed, clean.

When fully grown at about 2 years, they stand about 43" high (size of a large dog) and weigh about 200 lbs. Live up to 25 years. Thrive in any climate.

Send check or money order for amount of Burro now. Burro will arrive about 5 weeks from time we receive your order, unless otherwise specified. Comes uncrated, with food and water for the journey, by Railway Express, collet, F.O.B. Laredo, Texas. You pay express charge of $20 to $40 on arrival. Mexican and U.S. duties already paid. Sorry, no exchanges or refunds. Dipped and U.S. Gov't inspected before shipping. Guaranteed live delivery in their natural born colors.

Baby -- For children up to 5 years (3 mos. old -- 38" high -- 50lbs) Female: $95 Male $85

Youngster -- For children up to 10 years (7 mos. to 1 yr. Read the rest

Crushing adamantium with a hydraulic press

Somehow, the guy who runs YouTube's Hydraulic Press Channel got hold of some adamantium, the fictional metal alloy fund in Wolverine's skeleton and claws. Read the rest

Longtime Trump associate behind Trump-Russia "peace" plan is a violent felon

Felix Sater has longstanding ties to the Trump Organization. In 2010 Sater carried a business card identifying him as a senior advisor to Trump. He's quite a colorful fellow. From today's article in The Daily Beast:

Felix Sater is an immigrant who did prison time for stabbing a man in the face with the broken stem of a margarita glass, and he would surely qualify for the label “bad hombre” were he from Mexico instead of Russia.

It was only by becoming a federal informant that Sater avoided an otherwise 20-year mandatory term for a $40 million fraud in which most of the victims were elderly, a number of them Holocaust survivors.

The Russian-born Sater has popped up in the news again recently when the New York Times reported that Sater was involved in hand-delivering a sealed proposal to Michael T. Flynn (who has not yet resigned as national security adviser) "outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia."

From the Daily Beast:

The plan is said by the Times to involve Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine and a referendum on the fate of occupied Crimea: namely, whether or not the peninsula, which Russian forces seized almost bloodlessly in 2014, would be “leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years” Artemenko reportedly insists that their peace proposal has met with approval among senior aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Sater did not respond to a request for an interview with The Daily Beast. He was quoted elsewhere denying that he had been engaged in actual diplomacy.

Read the rest

White House plans to crack down on legal recreational pot

Today in a press conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the Department of Justice will "take action" against states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Those states are Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. That's 63 million Americans (one in five) who live states where adults can legally use marijuana for fun.

Meanwhile, a "Quinnipiac poll released earlier today found 71% of U.S. voters — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups — are opposed to the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use," reports the Marijuana Policy Project.

When Trump was campaigning for president, he said he would not interfere with the way that states dealt with the legality of pot. But then he appointed marijuana foe Jeff Sessions as attorney general. (When Sessions was a U.S. Attorney in Alabama, he said he thought the Ku Klux Klan "were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions also said last year that “good people don't smoke marijuana.”) It looks likes Sessions is calling the shots now.

Ironically, in the same press conference, Spicer told reporters “We are a states’ rights party." But he was talking about the trashing of federal guidance on transgender students' right to pee, not letting states decide what to do about pot prohibition.

From Time:

Spicer repeatedly linked the use of marijuana to the nationwide opioid abuse epidemic, suggesting without offering proof that marijuana is a gateway drug to more serious substances.

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New Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote is a big improvement over the previous model

We have Apple TV, Roku, and TiVo but I haven't used them in months. We use our Fire TV Stick for everything, because it just seems to work more smoothly (the Apple TV is the worst of the bunch), also we are Amazon Prime subscribers, so we get a lot of free shows (like the excellent Z, about Zelda Fitzgerald, starring Christina Ricci).

Recently Amazon introduced the new Fire TV Stick, which is better in many ways than the old version. It has Alexa voice control built into the remote, so you can just ask it to play or search for a show. The new processor makes it run faster that the old version. It also has better WiFi.

I'm going to bring the old one with me when I travel. Read the rest

Isaac Asimov: How to never run out of ideas again

Wikipedia says Isaac Asimov wrote 506 published books. Where did he get his ideas? Charles Chu says Asimov used a number of tactics:

1. Never Stop Learning

“All this incredibly miscellaneous reading, the result of lack of guidance, left its indelible mark. My interest was aroused in twenty different directions and all those interests remained. I have written books on mythology, on the Bible, on Shakespeare, on history, on science, and so on.”

2. Don’t Fight the Stuck

"I don’t stare at blank sheets of paper. I don’t spend days and nights cudgeling a head that is empty of ideas. Instead, I simply leave the novel and go on to any of the dozen other projects that are on tap. I write an editorial, or an essay, or a short story, or work on one of my nonfiction books. By the time I’ve grown tired of these things, my mind has been able to do its proper work and fill up again. I return to my novel and find myself able to write easily once more."

3. Beware the Resistance

4. Lower Your Standards

5. Make MORE Stuff

6. “By thinking and thinking and thinking till I’m ready to kill myself."

Image: Wikipedia Read the rest

Google's new product identifies whether a comment could be perceived as “toxic" to a discussion

Google's Perspective is an API that aims to keep micturitors from fouling community swimming pools.

Perspective is an API that makes it easier to host better conversations. The API uses machine learning models to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation. Developers and publishers can use this score to give realtime feedback to commenters or help moderators do their job, or allow readers to more easily find relevant information, as illustrated in two experiments below. We’ll be releasing more machine learning models later in the year, but our first model identifies whether a comment could be perceived as “toxic" to a discussion.

Check out the slider bar example and the writing example here. It seems to work pretty well!

Wikipedia, The NY Times, The Economist, and The Guardian experimenting with the technology to help them approve/disapprove of comments more quickly. Read the rest

Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent

On Wednesday the Arizona Senate passed SB 1142. The bill would allow the state to seize the assets of demonstrators who attend protests that turn violent.

From Arizona Capitol Times:

But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said that chilling effect is aimed at a very specific group of protesters. “You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder," he said. “A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists," Kavanagh continued. “But this stuff is all planned."

What's to stop the state or someone else from hiring agents provocateurs to damage property, thereby giving the state an excuse to strip peaceful protestors of their homes and assets?

Image: David Mulder/Flickr Read the rest

Ken Norton: "How I read 61 books last year"

Ken Norton is a partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures). In the post, he explains how he increased the number of books he read per year from 5 or 6 to 61. One smart thing he did was quickly abandon books that bored him.

I had an almost masochist need to finish any book I started, even if I got bored five pages in, found it repetitive, or decided the author was annoying. That meant a single book could take months to grind through, a page or two at a time. This probably slowed my book reading pace more than anything else. Now if I’m not enjoying a book, I quit and move on to the next one. No big deal. I find that’s another advantage of reading e-books (see below). An abandoned paper book just sits on my nightstand, a sad monument to my failed experiment. When I ditch an e-book, it just scrolls off the list into the void.

He also writes down what he learned from each book:

Remembering that I’ve read a book isn’t sufficient if I don’t also keep track of what I’ve learned. I use Kindle’s highlights and notes features to mark interesting or representative passages as I go. I don’t tend to write lengthy book reviews, so I’ve started a note file to record three things I learned from each book. Within a few days of finishing a book, I review the Kindle highlights and then take five minutes to record my thoughts (I use the Bear app, but anything will do the trick).

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Look at the cool visual toys people make with one line of javascript

Dwitter has a bunch of javascript one-liners (must be 140 characters or less) that display pretty animated graphics. The cool thing is that you can edit the code and see the changes immediately. Read the rest

Do robots deserve rights? What if machines become conscious?

Inspired by Westworld, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell created this video to explore the questions: "What shall we do once machines become conscious? Do we need to grant them rights?" Read the rest

Free Kindle edition programming guides

Amazon is giving away three different programming guides (regularly $5 each): HTML & CSS For Beginners, Python Programming, and Java Programming. They are all highly rated. Read the rest

A brilliantly executed, extremely NSFW reversed music video

Russian band Leningrad's "Kolshik" is a reversed video of multiple disasters in and around a circus.

Someone reversed the reverse:

[via] Read the rest

It's very pleasing to watch Mitch McConnell get chewed out by a constituent

It must be hard for Senator McConnell pretend he cares about the little people. Read the rest

The Equals perform "Police On My Back"

The Clash recorded "Police On My Back" for Sandinista! in 1980, but The Equals (fronted by Eddie Grant) did it on 1967. Here's the Richard-Lester-meets-the-Keystone-Kops video.

Here's The Clash's cover:

Both are great. I like the Clash's version better.

The Clash also covered Toots & The Maytals "Pressure Drop."

Both are great. I like Toots & The Maytals' version better.

[via] Read the rest

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