Review: bug-zapping lightbulbs are worthless

I got one of those bug-zapping LED lightbulbs, in hopes of murdering the flies drifting into my office during the increasingly warm and muggy Pennsylvania summer. I got mine from Home Depot, but the bulbs at Lowes, Wal-Mart and Amazon are all obviously identical. There are two lights in each bulb: an ultraviolet one inside an electrified bug-zapping cage, and a standard 60W-equivalent LED element to light the room. You can have one or both lit simply by turning the light off and on repeatedly within a second: it sounds clunky, but in practice is an ingenious way to cycle the options without adding interface elements.

But it doesn't matter, because they're useless.

I installed my bulb in three locations, moving it every couple of days until a week had passed. As a control, I moved one of those traditional gooey fly strips likewise.

Subjectively, neither did much to stop the flies, a job clearly best accomplished by closing the damn windows.

Objectively, the death tolls were as follows:

Traditional fly strip: 9 bugs, 3 large.

Bug-zapping lightbulb: 4 bugs, all tiny. (The bulb is pictured here, without cleaning)

VERDICT: Don't be tempted: they're not half as good as fly strips and are many times the price. The only advantage they have is not being quite so gross when you throw them in the trash. Read the rest

The White House banned cameras from press briefings, so CNN sent in a courtroom sketch artist

Bravo, CNN artist Bill Hennessy.

CNN equated the briefing to a Supreme Court argument -- an on-the-record event at which cameras are banned.

Hennessy has been a Washington-based courtroom sketch artist for decades. He has covered a wide range of cases, including the Clinton impeachment proceedings, terror suspect trials, and Guantanamo Bay detainee hearings. He worked for CNN at the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Hennessy's presence highlighted the significant change in White House access that has taken place recently. Press secretaries for Democratic and Republican presidents have held on-camera briefings on a regular basis for the past quarter century. But the Trump White House has been cutting back on the frequency and the length of on-camera briefings.

What's amazing is how angry conservatives are about CNN doing this. I'd call them snowflakes, but they've already melted into salty little puddles. Read the rest

Nazi cache hidden behind a bookcase

A secret passageway led to an trove of smuggled Nazi artifacts, say investigators in Argentina, and their collector is in trouble with the law.

They were put on display at the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations in Buenos Aires on Monday. Many Nazi higher-ups fled to Argentina in the waning days of the war, and investigators believe that officials close to Adolf Hitler brought the artifacts with them. Many items were accompanied by photographs, some with Hitler holding them.

"This is a way to commercialize them, showing that they were used by the horror, by the Fuhrer. There are photos of him with the objects," Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told The Associated Press.

The objects include a device used to measure heads. Nazis believed that one could distinguish a Jew from someone belonging to the supposed Aryan race by head measurements.

[Thanks, Matthew!]

Previously: found a locked safe hidden at the back of a closet in my new house Read the rest

Machine vision framework wants you to put down your weapon

This is doing the viral rounds described as a Google technology, but it's actually Apple's VisionCore in action. It runs offline on the local device, requiring no number-crunching help from the cloud. Here's a breakdown of how it identifies things through code.

You will need the beta version of xCode and a device running the iOS 11 beta (make sure you only install the beta software on a test device!).

I liked watching it contemplate whether a metal ruler was a meat cleaver or a "chopper." Whispers of the ACLU lawsuits of tomorrow: I think you'd better do what he says, Mr. Kinney. Read the rest

ACLU releases video of brutal beating of motorist by enraged cop

In dashcam video posted by the ACLU, police officer Joe Joswiak pulls over Anthony Promvongsa, driving a dark SUV. Joswiak immediately approaches the vehicle screaming "get out of the car motherfucker!", with his gun drawn and posed sideways. Then he starts pounding and kicking at Promvongsa through the open car door — before Promvongsa seems to have a chance to do anything.

Read the rest

Road rage nightmare crash footage

A motorist was left with a "gash to the head" after crashing on a California highway, reports the BBC. In the video, posted courtesy of Chris Traber, a motorcyclist veers close to a car and kicks it. The car then swerves, though it's not clear if the driver was retaliating or panicking. Then the car strikes the center divide and all hell breaks loose.

Read the rest

Deleted Wikipedia articles with freaky titles

Deleted Wikipedia articles with freaky titles is the best article on Wikipedia. From "Ç‹¬ç‰¹è§Â解" to Zombucks, with many oddities along the way (such as "☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼"), all that remains are the tantalizing names given to what were surely excellent, well-researched and not at all fannishly promotional entries for geeky obsessions.

Here is the section for articles that began with "R".

Radioactive Pedophile on the Loose! Random boner syndrome Raptor jesus Rat smacker Raving white octopus Reasons Why Many People Study in China Recombinant Human Dragon Rectal Anarchy Reducing your weight in a ver... References to polycephaly in popular culture Republic of Illinois Retard squad Richard's macaroni and cheese Rihno man super kidoonfire Rin-Din-Dinner Ross hutchison anal explosion Run 2 were u want run 2 were u want! im gonna catch u catch

Digestif: Wikipedia: Silly Things Read the rest

Bank robbery goes awry

In this security footage from a bank in Chapalita, Mexico, three masked men approach the doors with the clear intent to rob the place. A fleet-footed member of staff locks the glass doors. The masked men stand on the other side a little while, looking in at him. Then they walk off. Read the rest

The concepts Frank Lloyd Wright never built

Fallingwater, an hour out of Pittsburgh, is described as the world's most beautiful modern house. But fully half of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's fully-conceived masterpieces never left the drawing board.

Wright designed 532 buildings that were made, and about the same number again that never were. His career spanned seven decades. His personal life was beset by chaos. He left his first wife Kittie, then in 1914 his partner Mamah Cheney was murdered alongside six other people by a domestic worker named Julian Carlton. His second wife, Miriam Noel, was a hopeless morphine addict. His third marriage, to Olgivanna, seems to have been all right. Wright famously said that, “not only do I fully intend to be the greatest architect who has yet lived, but fully intend to be the greatest architect who will ever live.” Walking around this show, a beautiful edifice built of the flotsam and jetsam of a long career, one realizes that even a man like that didn’t always get his way.

My favorite FLW fantasy is The Illinois, a mile-high skyscraper that makes the Burj look like a Burger King. Read the rest

Blogger killed by exploding gadget

A popular French blogger was killed after a pressurized whipped cream dispenser exploded and struck her in the chest.

French media reported she had died of cardiac arrest after the incident, despite medical attention.

The popular fitness and travel figure was well-known in France, with some 55,000 Facebook fans and 154,000 followers on Instagram.

One of Ms Burger's family members took to Instagram, warning readers not to use the dispenser, saying that tens of thousands of "defective devices" remain in circulation.

Read the rest

YMCA to promote self with famous disco song it once reviled

After 40 years of trademark threats and general grousing, the Y.M.C.A. (or at least one international branch of it) is embracing the eponymous Village People song, Y.M.C.A.: it's commissioned a cover version from singer and D.J. Boy George to promote the organization.

The decision to embrace the song – along with queerness and marriage equality – came from speaking to young people. “It was a challenging conversation for us as leaders – the baby boomers and Gen X,” Crole says. “We have to let go – it wasn’t about what we thought. It was about the young people.”

Crole says she didn’t consult with Christian organisations who oppose marriage equality. “Research shows an overwhelming link between marriage equality and mental health – we are prepared to stand up for that,” she says. The organisation itself, while based on Christian values, is not associated with any one church group.

Note how even at the point of acceptance, the proverbial "baby boomers and Gen X" still have to tell themselves ever-so-slightly delusional stories about the abstract meanings of things. At least they got there! Read the rest

CEO Travis Kalanick forced out at Uber

What was last week posed as an indefinite leave of absence is now for good: Travis Kalanick, CEO of scandal-wracked rideshare company Uber, announced that he is leaving the company.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement...

Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details were confidential.

Earlier on Tuesday, five of Uber’s major investors demanded that the chief executive resign immediately. The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board. The investors made their demand for Mr. Kalanick to step down in a letter delivered to the chief executive while he was in Chicago, said the people with knowledge of the situation.

Uber is not only a terrible company operated by sociopathic criminals, it's a sham desperately searching for a real business model to profit from. Read the rest

Dashcam video shows killing of Philando Castile

Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted Friday after killing Philando Castile last July. Castile, unarmed, had disclosed to Yanez that he was a legal owner of a concealed-carry firearm as he reached for his driver's license, as Yanez had requested. Yanez shot him seven times in front of his wife and child, later claiming that the smell of marijuana, and his inability to see what Castile was reaching for, justified the killing. Viewers watched the aftermath on Facebook Live, broadcast by Castile's distraught wife. The Star-Tribune synchronized and superimposed the two videos — only the dashcam footage is embedded above.

Tyrone Terrill, president of the African-American Leadership Council, said the video could further widen the gap in community-police relations.

"No, no, no," Terrill said minutes after viewing the video. "You don't have to remain calm on this one. You have a right to be outraged. You have a right to be angry. And I would be disappointed if you weren't outraged, if you weren't angry. It raises the question — how will you ever get a guilty verdict?"

He said he tried to point the gun away from the little girl in the back seat. He heard her screaming. "I acknowledged the little girl first because I wanted her to be safe."

Yanez attended a training course that teaches cops to think like "bulletproof warriors", to shoot without a second thought, and that the rush of killing people leads to "the best sex of their lives"

In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives.

Read the rest

Sean Spicer expected to leave post

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, first held an off-camera briefing that had one reporter describe him as "just kind of useless", then was ridiculed by colleague and top Trump crony Steve Bannon as getting fatter, thereby explaining his unwillingness to be seen, and is now reported to be "searching for his own replacement." With luck it will be Laura Ingraham.

Read the rest

Nailing Trump on a technicality will not fix America

One subtext of the investigation into President Trump (especially its political dimensions) is the winking suggestion that the Russia stuff is small potatoes and the meat is in getting to prove everything else the man surely got up to: payola and piss tapes, oh my. But be wary of the expansive power of government to entrap, to trick, to effectively "produce new crimes" on their way to nailing a target. If they can do it to Trump, however satisfying and deserved it is, it's only a reminder how often they do it to the weakest and poorest among us. Here's Ken "Popehat" White, at the National Review:

Investigators and prosecutors will tell you that this is a good thing — that their power to convict targets for lying or obstruction helps catch criminals who would otherwise go free because of problems of proof. But people who hold vast power rarely think they ought not. In fact, the most petty and weak human reactions can lead to federal felony convictions during an investigation. To be a federal crime, a false statement to the federal government must be material — that is, meaningful. But federal courts have defined materiality in a way that criminalizes trifles. Under current law, a statement is material if it is the sort of statement that could influence the federal government, whether or not it actually did. Hence, federal agents interrogating people always ask some questions as to which they already have irrefutable proof, hoping that the target will lie and hand the feds an easy conviction.

Read the rest

North Korea wakes its citizens with creepy dystopian music

Somewhere between "hard to believe" and "of course they do" lurks the music, played over massive PA systems in Pyongyang, by the North Korean regime. Here are two important points of comparison: the unsettling Lavender Town locale in Pokemon, which matches North Korea's oddly melodic eeriness...

... and Chicago's tornado siren, for sheer nightmare terror quotient. (via)

Read the rest

Kushner, unaccustomed as he is to public speaking...

Described by the BBC as "notoriously" reticent to be heard in public, Jared Kushner — President Trump's son-in-law and de facto factotum of his shambolic administration — was finally obliged to impress his voice upon others in a recorded setting at the MAGA Summer Palace in Washington, D.C. The subject was technology; the result was a better understanding of the fact Ivanka didn't marry him for his diction.

Just take a look at the absolute savaging he's getting from the press.

Even The Daily Mail, bastion of international Trumpkinism, merrily deployed the snarky headline "Sounds like he's giving an 8th grade valedictory."

Kushner sounded like the smartest guy in the room - if the room was in middle school.

'It's probably not fair to observe that finally hearing Kushner's voice is a major let-down. Sounds like he's giving an 8th grade valedictory, wrote Darcy Jae.

At least one person thought that Kushner's voice lost out to the hunky Canadian Prime Minister. 'After hearing Jared Kushner's voice, I understand why Ivanka was staring at Justin Trudeau with those hungry eyes,' sniped Daniel Dresden.

Head left and it goes from insult to injury. The Onion's A.V. Club:

It’s a wheedling, blandly competent voice, which is, all things considered, a fine change of aesthetic pace from Donald Trump’s freewheeling, real-time portrait of senility.

If you think someone with a naturally high-pitched or soft voice cannot project power, or convince, or impress, you never sat in front of Steve Jobs. Read the rest

More posts