Tiny flush-fit dual USB adapter for cars

I've been using Aukey's Flush Fit Dual Port USB adapter since early 2016. Once you push it into the car's "cigarette lighter" hole, it's close to a flush fit. It could be a chore to pull it out, but I've never had a reason to. It's regularly $9 but if you use the Amazon code AUKECAR7 it costs $7. Read the rest

Lord of the Rings, paperback cover study art (1965)

Some people don't like Barbara Remington's cover illustrations for J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. I'm not one of those people. Her study is estimated at $20,000 - $30,000 at Heritage's upcoming auction.

This landmark illustration was used for a trio of Ballantine Book covers for J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. The covers were designed so that laid side-by-side they create a panoramic scene. This 1965 edition was the first authorized U. S. paperback edition, and the books were issued in a slipcase, which also featured the same artwork as a wrap-around image. A hugely popular poster titled "Wilderness" has also been produced using this iconic image.

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Magnetic air vent cell phone car mount, 2 for $6

After trying lots of different phone mounts for cars, the type I've settled on attaches to an air vent and has a magnet on it. You have to stick a thin metal plate on the back of your phone, but it's unobtrusive. Your phone won't slide off. This mount is by far the most convenient kind. Amazon has a sale on air vent magnetic phone mounts. This 2-pack costs $6.39 with free one-day shipping. Read the rest

75-year-old woman detained for 2 hours in urine-soaked pants for trying to sell moon rock shard

A sad and infuriating lead sentence from the LA Times: "A 75-year-old woman who tried to sell a paperweight containing a speck of moon rock may try to hold a federal agent liable for detaining her for two hours in a public parking lot in urine-soaked pants, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Thursday." The good news is that she is going to sue NASA for the humiliating treatment.

She decided to try to sell the paperweights and contacted auction houses without success. She finally emailed NASA for help in finding a buyer for what she called “rare Apollo 11 space artifacts.” She explained how her late husband had received them.

Norman Conley, a special agent and criminal investigator for NASA’s Office of Inspector General, was assigned to investigate whether Davis really possessed a moon rock.

He had someone pose as a broker and call Davis. During several conversations, all but one recorded, Davis explained how she obtained the moon rock and insisted she wanted to do everything legally. She also mentioned that she hoped to sell her late husband’s firearms.

At no point was she informed that all lunar material is the property of the federal government and that possession was a crime, the court said.

If the account in this appeal is accurate, the special agent Norman Conley is a jerk. Read the rest

In custody battle, Alex Jones is claiming to be a "performance artist"

Kelly Jones, ex-wife of Infowars lunatic Alex Jones, is in a custody battle over their three children. She says Alex is "not a stable person."

"He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin's neck," says Kelly Jones. "He wants J-Lo to get raped. I'm concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress … He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast."

Calm down, said Randall Wilhite, Alex Jones' attorney at a pretrial hearing. "He's playing a character. He is a performance artist."

From The Week:

The Jones' children have lived with Alex Jones since the couple divorced in 2015. In a July 2015 broadcast, Jones brought his then 12-year-old son onto the show: "He is undoubtedly cut out for this, and I intend for him to eclipse what I've done," Jones said at the time. "He's a way greater person than I was at 12. I love you so much, and I didn't mean to get you up here, sweetheart, and tell people how much I love you, but you're so handsome, and you're a good little knight who's going to grow up, I know, to be a great fighter against the enemy."

Image: Flickr/Sean P. Anderson Read the rest

United employees will start bumping paid passengers before they take a seat

United Airlines employees are no longer allowed to forcibly remove seated passengers to swipe their seat. Instead, they must swipe seats before paying passengers board. "The airline has also raised the amount of money that supervisors can offer to compensate displaced passengers, from $1,350 to $10,000," says NYMag, "and announced that it will no longer ask law-enforcement officials to remove passengers from its planes unless they pose a security threat." Read the rest

BBC documentary on LSD microdosing

BBC News has a 15 minute documentary about people who take regular tiny doses of psychedelics drugs to deal with mental health issues, improve productivity, or just better appreciate what life has to offer.

From YouTube description:

Microdosing is when you take a tiny amount of psychedelic drugs - LSD or magic mushrooms usually - as part of your ordinary day. The drugs are illegal, and there is no medical evidence to say what the benefits or harms of it may be. But a small community of people in the UK are doing it anyway, and say it’s improving their lives. Some say it aids creativity and concentration and others argue it helps with their mental health problems. BBC Reporter Catrin Nye has been meeting the people that do it.

Here's my interview with Ayelet Waldman, who microdosed for a month and wrote a book about it called A Really Good Day. Read the rest

Bar builds maze to get around zoning laws

The supreme court in India rule that all bars, pubs and liquor shops must be at least 500 meters away from state and national highways. One bar in Kerala which is only 270 meters from a freeway, has built a 250 meter fenced maze in front of the bar. "Now it is 520 metres from the highway," says the bar's manager. Read the rest

Watch: woman makes pottery from scratch

Artist Kelly Magleby, went into “the backcountry of Southern Utah with a knife and a buckskin for 10 days to try to learn about Anasazi pottery by doing it the way the Anasazi did it.” Filmmaker Steve Olpin made a short documentary called Earth and Fire, that shows how Magleby started a fire, made dyes, and baked clay pottery in hot coals.

[via] Read the rest

MIT Media Lab director has a good idea for "partial attention" meetings

Joi Ito, the MIT Media Lab director, has an interesting proposal for managing his "partial attention problem during meetings." Joi spends between 2-3 hours on email in the morning, and another 2-3 hours at night. In addition to that, he "must diligently triage email during the day." He also has a lot of meetings, and some of those meetings do not require his full attention. He needs to attend only to answer occasional questions or make decisions. So he proposes two kinds of meetings: "full attention" and "partial attention," which can be scheduled as such.

When someone signed up for a meeting, we would ask if they needed full attention and if so, they would end up in the "full attention slot" queue or get booked a month or so out when my next "full attention slot" was available. On the other hand, if all they wanted was for me to be available to provide opinions or make decisions as part of a broader meeting or if the person didn't mind my partial attention during meetings, we could book the meeting in a "partial attention" slot which could be scheduled sooner. I would use un-booked partial attention slots to catch up on email if no one wanted such a slot.

This feels a bit too clever by half and maybe difficult to communicate to a person not familiar with my problem.

The other idea that I had was just to ask at the beginning of a meeting, "do you want this to be a laptops closed meeting or do you mind if I keep my eye on urgent email and triage?" I'm not sure if everyone would ask for my full attention or if I'd have a selection bias where only people confident enough would ask for my full attention and that those people who really needed my attention but were too polite would end up with my partial attention.

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Good deal on my current favorite tea: Darjeeling

I just had my morning cup of this flavorful, aromatic organic ​darjeeling​ black tea. Vahdam says to use 2 grams for an 8-ounce cup, but I use 5.5 grams in 10-ounces if water. Amazon has a lightning sale on the tea right now $15 for a one-pound bag. I paid $28 on the last bag I bought in February. I just ordered another! Read the rest

Stubborn tree stump exacts revenge on would-be uprooter

I thought maybe the trailer hitch was going to break off, but the tree had a sneakier form of payback in mind. Read the rest

Blue horseshoe crab blood sells for up to $14,000 per quart

Unfortunately for horseshoe crabs, their blue blood is so good at detecting harmful bacteria that the hapless critters are being scooped up by the hundreds to be attached to industrial horseshoe crab blood milking stations. Now the International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorized the American horseshoe crab is "vulnerable" to extinction. From Popular Mechanics:

Their distinctive blue blood is used to detect dangerous Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli in injectable drugs such as insulin, implantable medical devices such as knee replacements, and hospital instruments such as scalpels and IVs. Components of this crab blood have a unique and invaluable talent for finding infection, and that has driven up an insatiable demand. Every year the medical testing industry catches a half-million horseshoe crabs to sample their blood. But that demand cannot climb forever. There's a growing concern among scientists that the biomedical industry's bleeding of these crabs may be endangering a creature that's been around since dinosaur days. There are currently no quotas on how many crabs one can bleed because biomedical laboratories drain only a third of the crab's blood, then put them back into the water, alive. But no one really knows what happens to the crabs once they're slipped back into the sea. Do they survive? Are they ever the same?
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Recording and playing back speech many times results in eerie music

Wikipedia on composer Alvin Lucier's I am sitting in a room (1969):

I am sitting in a room (1969) is one of composer Alvin Lucier's best known sound art works.

The piece features Lucier recording himself narrating a text, and then playing the tape recording back into the room, re-recording it. The new recording is then played back and re-recorded, and this process is repeated. Since all rooms have characteristic resonance or formant frequencies (e.g. different between a large hall and a small room), the effect is that certain frequencies are emphasized as they resonate in the room, until eventually the words become unintelligible, replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself.[1]

In his book on the origins of minimalism, Edward Strickland wrote that "In its repetition and limited means, I am sitting in a room ranks with the finest achievements of Minimal tape music. Furthermore, in its ambient conversion of speech modules into drone frequencies, it unites the two principal structural components of Minimal music in general."

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United Airlines CEO lied - David Dao was calm and polite, not "belligerent"

United CEO Oscar Munoz said that passenger David Dao was "disruptive and belligerent" when he was told that he was going to be kicked off the plane after he bought a ticket and too his seat. But this newly released video shows Dao to be quite calm and reasonable given the circumstances. In the end, Dao was beaten senseless, his nose was broken, teeth were knocked out, and he suffered a concussion. United filled the empty seat with one of its employees.

From Teen Vogue:

A post shared by People Magazine (@people) on Apr 12, 2017 at 1:40pm PDT

On Monday, a video clip surfaced of Chicago Department of Aviation security officials brutally dragging Dao down the aisle of the plane on Sunday night for refusing to involuntarily give up his seat on a United flight went viral on social media. Shortly after the incident, United CEO Oscar Munoz told employees in an email that Dao had acted “disruptive and belligerent," which, in his words, left officers with no choice. However, passenger Joya Cummings uploaded new footage to Facebook showing the moments leading up to the officers' assault on Dao, and it shows a very different story.

“I’m a physician. I have to work tomorrow at 8 o’clock,” he told officers calmly in the video. "No, I am not going. I am not going."

Soon after, officers threatened to "drag [him]" off the plane if he didn't comply. “Then drag me down,” Dao told them. “I am staying right there.”

Also, it looks like United didn't have the legal right to ask police to remove Dao. Read the rest

Disney princess lingerie sets introduced

Yandy introduced a new line of Disney princess-inspired lingerie sets. The company doesn't name the sets after the princesses, but it's pretty obvious who's who. Will Disney let this stand?

Redbook asked four women to wear the lingerie to bed and report their experience:

Usually, getting ready for bed means a bulky sweatshirt and pajama shorts, so he was absolutely thrilled and got right down to business.

"He had zero clue that Disney princesses were involved in any way, even when I gently asked him if the lingerie reminded him of anything. His answer: "Sexy things." I prodded a little more, asking if it seemed like a character. "Is it Disney?" I was so excited and said, "Yes! It's a princess – can you guess which one?" I should point out that I look nothing like Snow White, so I was pretty impressed that he guessed Snow White right off the bat. "The colors made it obvious," he said.

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Our puny human brains are terrible at thinking about the future (and what to do about it)

Your brain does something weird when you imagine yourself in the future. FMRI scans reveal that your brain "stops acting as if you’re thinking about yourself," writes Jane McGonigal in Slate. "Instead, it starts acting as if you’re thinking about a completely different person... your brain acts as if your future self is someone you don’t know very well and, frankly, someone you don’t care about."

Jane is my friend and colleague at Institute for the Future (IFTF), where we encourage people to think deeply, broadly, and creatively about their future selves. IFTF recently conducted the first major survey of future thinking in the United States, and the findings were surprising:

The survey found 53 percent of Americans say they rarely or never think about the “far future,” or something that might happen 30 years from today. Twenty-one percent report imagining this future less than once a year, while the largest group of respondents, 32 percent, say it never crosses their mind at all.

Likewise, 36 percent of Americans say they rarely or never think about something they might personally do 10 years from now. The largest group of respondents, 19 percent, think about this 10-year future less than once a year, while another 17 percent say they never think about it at all.

If you'd like to get better at thinking about the future (so you can make better decisions today on how to shape it), Jane has tip:

Make a list of things that you’re interested in — things like food, travel, cars, the city you live in, shoes, dogs, music, real estate.

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