How legroom on major airlines compare to one another

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This would be a good time to share your stories about flying Spirit.

How legroom on major airlines compare to one another
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Mother and child viewing images on tablet

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Mother and child viewing images on a tablet
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How Cuba's greatest cartoonist fled from Castro and created 'Spy vs. Spy'

From Spy vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook (Watson-Guptill, 2001/Spy vs Spy © E.C. Publications Inc.)

As a kid, my two favorite things in Mad magazine were the Fold-In and Spy vs Spy (which I pronounced "spyvisspy"). It was a wordless one-page comic about two oddly pointy faced spies, one dressed in black and the other dressed in white. Other than their different colored outfits, they behaved identically. They hated each other and created elaborate Rube Goldberg type machines to try to kill each other. Sometimes their machines worked, often, they’d backfire. They were tricky but usually too clever for their own good.

Atlas Obscura has an excellent article about Antonio Prohías, the creator of Spy vs Spy.

In New York, Prohías took work in a factory during the day, while working up his illustration portfolio at night. Taking inspiration from his supposed spy status, Prohías altered the look of El Hombre Siniestro, and gave him a counterpart, creating what we now know as Spy vs. Spy. In 1960, just months after moving to the city, Prohías, along with his daughter Marta who acted as an interpreter, walked unannounced into the offices of MAD Magazine. The editors were skeptical of the artist, but his silly spy gags won them over, and he had sold three of the strips to the magazine before leaving that day.

Spy Vs Spy: An Explosive Celebration, by Antonio Prohías and Peter Kuper, is an excellent book about Spy Vs Spy, with lots of sample strips. Read the rest

Six cool picks from the Recomendo newsletter

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Every week Kevin Kelly, Claudia Lamar and I send out a newsletter of six things we personally recommend. Want to get the next Recomendo newsletter a week early in your inbox? Sign up for the Sunday newsletter here

HACK: I hacked up a death countdown clock to show me how many days I have left to live. I went to the actuarial tables for life expectancy to determine how old a typical person my age will live to, and then input that date into the Date Countdown website. It shows me that I have an estimated 6,300 days to live. Each day that small sum really focuses me. (BTW, your longevity increases over time because of science, so every few years you need to adjust your due date.) — KK

CONSUMABLES: Powder City sells bulk powder nutrients for a fraction of the cost of pills. I buy L-Theanine, which I take when I drink tea and coffee to keep me from feeling jittery. I have also tried Phenibut HCL, a tranquilizer developed by Russia in the 1960s for their astronaut program. It works for insomnia, but I stopped because I don’t want to get addicted. They also sell lots of nootropics (aka “smart drugs”), which I have not tried. To use these powders, you’ll need a sensitive scale, like this one. — MF

APP: I needed to make a cartoon thumbnail portrait of myself so I used a free app for iOS and Android to render my photo into artwork. Read the rest

Woman wins suit against New Jersey to use 8THEIST license plate

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Two years ago Shannon Morgan of New Jersey ordered a vanity license plate that read 8THEIST. State officials denied her order, explaining that it might be considered offensive. She sued and won. The state Motor Vehicle Commission will also have to pay Morgan $75,000 to resolve her claim. They don't give a damn, because it's taxpayer money that they'll use to pay for their foolishness. Everyone in the chain of command who rejected the license plate request should be fired and barred from working for the government ever again, and forced to wear a colander on their head for the term of their natural lives, if you ask me.

Bonus: as a result of the lawsuit, the DMV must also issue the following vanity plates or "combinations that are substantially similar": SECULAR, RATIONL, HUMANST, ATHEISM, GODLESS, HEATHEN, HERETIC, SKEPTIC, BLASFMR, REASON, EVOLVE, TRANS, LGBTR.TS, LGBTQ, PRIDE, QUEER, GAYPOWR, LGBTALY, FEMINISM, FEMINST, EQUALITY and 4WOMEN.

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Here's the banned video of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack

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The publication ban has been lifted on beloved conservative hero and former mayor of Toronto Rob Ford smoking crack and babbling incoherently. He seems familiar with the use of a crack pipe.

From The Toronto Star:

Nothing apart from that illness — not documented substance abuse, or allegations of drunk driving, racism, homophobia or a lack of political control over council — kept Ford from mounting a real challenge to return to the mayor’s chair in 2014.

He was never charged. He never testified. Those on the periphery of the whirling saga, like Lisi, who still declare loyalty to the late Ford, faced criminal charges. Ford’s former staff and friends were interviewed by police and compelled to tell their version of the story under oath.

When news of the video’s existence was first published by the Star and Gawker in May 2013, it soon reached nightly international talk show levels.

It’s a video the late Ford tried to deny was real, facing an onslaught of questions as mayor of Canada’s largest city. At first, Ford said he could not comment on a video “that I have never seen or does not exist.”

Months later, Ford would admit to smoking crack (once, in one of his “drunken stupors”).

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Apple USB-to-lighting cable with built-in battery

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This looks like it could come in handy - the Jackery Jewel is a MFU-certified Lightning-to-USB charging cable with a built-in 450 mAh battery. It's $16 on Amazon with promo code JERJEWEL. I just ordered one. Read the rest

“A honeypot for assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-year failure to stop harassment

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Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed has written a long piece about Twitter's apparently inability to prevent neo-Nazis, rape apologists, death threats, and racism from flourishing on the platform.

In 2013, Caroline Criado-Perez launched a campaign to put Jane Austen on UK currency and quickly became the target of more than 50 rape threats per hour — which forced Twitter to roll out a “report abuse” feature for individual tweets. The feature came roughly six years into the company’s history and more than five years after [Ariel] Waldman’s ordeal. “It feels like, not only did they have opportunities early on to tackle this, but they had the ability to step up and be a leader in this space — to be proactive instead of reactive,” Waldman said. “That they haven’t done that is beyond me and it’s reckless.”

Around that time, high-profile harassment cases became a weekly, if not daily, occurrence, especially in the UK. Sinéad O’Connor was driven off the service in 2011; she later told the Daily Mail she was “getting too much abuse.” Downton Abbey actor Lily James quit after she became the target of hundreds of hateful tweets about her appearance. Actor Matt Lucas had to shut down his account after trolls wouldn’t stop harassing him after the death of his partner. In the US, stories of Twitter harassment of women, people of color, and religious minorities appeared with increasing frequency, coming to a head in August 2014, when Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda was forced to quit Twitter after trolls flooded her mentions with photoshopped images of her recently deceased father.

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Audible illusion - this tone seems to rise in pitch forever

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BTW: The folks at DeepMiningCorpAssoc sound like assholes.

From YouTube:

The shepard tone is an audio illusion which seems to get forever higher but never really does.

Whoever DeepMiningCorpAssoc is, STOP TRYING TO COPYRIGHT THIS! It doesn't have a single bit of your music in it!

Source of sound graph.

All sounds and images in this video are in the public domain and not copyrighted, feel free to use it!

Shepard tone sound was downloaded from Soundcloud (sound not copyrighted), (Thanks to a guy in the comments.)

From Wikipedia:

A Shepard tone, named after Roger Shepard, is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upward or downward, it is referred to as the Shepard scale. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower. It has been described as a "sonic barber's pole".

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World's greatest seafood display

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A person who goes by the moniker usedcatsalesman227 on Reddit took this photo at a Whole Foods in Brooklyn, remarking, "We think the merchandiser hated their job and decided to quit with this stunt as a final send off."

Taken at the Whole Foods in Brooklyn -- We think the merchandiser hated their job and decided to quit with this stunt as a final send off.
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Driver caught steering with feet while texting with both hands

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A driver on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recorded another driver steering her car with her feet while texting with both hands.

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Thief unwittingly steals 16 bottles of oil extracted from weasels' anal glands

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A New Zealand thief spotted box of chemicals in a parked car. Probably thinking the chemicals were drugs of some kind, the thief smashed the window and took the box. The box contained 16 small bottles of pungent oil extracted from the anal glands of stoats, which was intended for experimental lures.

From NZ Herald:

The thieves could get more than they bargained for: just a few drops of scent glands in their car or home would stink for weeks.

"We popped a gland in our lab a couple of years ago during research.

"We had fans running and windows open in the middle of a Wellington winter, and it still took weeks to go. Some staff chose to work from home for a couple of days."

The oil was so potent it was in the process of being moved off-site for storage.

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Handy Pokemon Go tips

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Here's a good collection of tips for playing Pokemon Go. I didn't know any of them.

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Website asks you to think like a self-driving car and decide who should die

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The Moral Machine is a website from MIT that present 13 traffic scenarios in which a self-driving car has no choice but to kill one set of people or another. Your job is to tell the car what to do. Think carefully before making your choices, because one of the goals of the website is to crowd source the behavioral rules for self driving cars in the future. By participating, you could affect the outcome of who lives and who dies.

From self-driving cars on public roads to self-piloting reusable rockets landing on self-sailing ships, machine intelligence is supporting or entirely taking over ever more complex human activities at an ever increasing pace. The greater autonomy given machine intelligence in these roles can result in situations where they have to make autonomous choices involving human life and limb. This calls for not just a clearer understanding of how humans make such choices, but also a clearer understanding of how humans perceive machine intelligence making such choices.

Recent scientific studies on machine ethics have raised awareness about the topic in the media and public discourse. This website aims to take the discussion further, by providing a platform for 1) building a crowd-sourced picture of human opinion on how machines should make decisions when faced with moral dilemmas, and 2) crowd-sourcing assembly and discussion of potential scenarios of moral consequence.

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Generate your own random fantasy maps

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Martin O'Leary not only made a cool fantasy map generator, he's giving away the source code and has described the process at a high enough level for an idiot like me to partly understand how it works.

I wanted to make maps that look like something you'd find at the back of one of the cheap paperback fantasy novels of my youth. I always had a fascination with these imagined worlds, which were often much more interesting than whatever luke-warm sub-Tolkien tale they were attached to.

At the same time, I wanted to play with terrain generation with a physical basis. There are loads of articles on the internet which describe terrain generation, and they almost all use some variation on a fractal noise approach, either directly (by adding layers of noise functions), or indirectly (e.g. through midpoint displacement). These methods produce lots of fine detail, but the large-scale structure always looks a bit off. Features are attached in random ways, with no thought to the processes which form landscapes. I wanted to try something a little bit different.

It's an odd feeling to look at these instantly-generated, detailed maps and realize that they represent nothing. I feel like I'm being wasteful pressing the "Generate high resolution map." The Uncharted Atlas is a twitterbot that posts a new map every hour. Read the rest

Rite-Aid dares you to steal this candy bar

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A person who goes by the moniker The Herb Puffer on Reddit snapped this photo of a Hershey Chocolate Bar bearing Riteaid's latest shoplifting deterrent technology - an RFID sticker with a printed warning.

Calm down Rite Aid

The website Explain That Stuff explains how that stuff works:

If you walk through the doorway without paying for something, the radio waves from the transmitter (hidden in on one of the door gates) are picked up by the coiled metal antenna in the label. This generates a tiny electrical current that makes the label transmit a new radio signal of its own at a very specific frequency. The receiver (hidden in the other door gate) picks up the radio signal that the tag transmits and sounds the alarm. Why doesn't the alarm sound when you pay for something? You may have noticed that the checkout assistant passes your item over or through a deactivating device (sometimes it's incorporated into the ordinary barcode scanning mechanism, and sometimes it's completely separate). This destroys or deactivates the electronic components in the RF label so they no longer pick up or transmit a signal when you walk through the gates—and the alarm does not sound.

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Interview with creator of Stranger Things title sequence

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Carla and I just started watching the Netflix science fiction show, Stranger Things, which stars Winona Ryder and is set in 1983. We like it! We also like the title sequence at the beginning, which has a 1980s vibe. Art of the Title is a website about the art of TV show and movie titles, and they recently interviewed Michelle Dougherty, the Creative Director of Imaginary Forces, which produced the title sequence for Stranger Things.

The first meeting was set up by Shawn Levy, one of the executive producers and a director on the show. He told us we’d be working with these amazing creators, the Duffer Brothers, and got us on the phone. After talking with them I could see what he was talking about. They had this incredible vision!

The initial call was them talking to us about some of the film titles that they liked. They referenced Richard Greenberg and all the greats that he’d created — The Goonies, Altered States, Alien, The Untouchables, The Dead Zone, just to name a few. That was great to hear because we understood where they were coming from. That was really refreshing — and pretty surprising — that these creators knew so much about title design.

After that call they sent over some book covers that they liked, from books that they’d either read or seen as children. Most of them were by Stephen King, so we knew they were looking for something that felt ’80s and tapped into this nostalgia by using that typography.

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