Three months with the cheapest electric kettle that didn’t look like it would kill me

At $11, the Proctor Silex K2070YA 1-Liter Electric Kettle was the cheapest model I could find on Amazon that didn’t look like it would result in electrocution or an explosion of boiling water. I’ve spent three months with it. It’s OK.

In fact, it’s showing no sign at all of problems. It boils water fast. The cord is detachable. It automatically shuts off when it boils, or if you try to boil air. The design makes it possible to refill from a faucet or fridge dispenser without opening the lid. You can see from across the room how full it is, too, thanks to its nice big window.

The little “heating in progress” LED light inside the transparent switch is still working after months of use, and there’s no rubbery seal around the lid slowly failing; two problems that soon became annoyances on the $75 Breville this replaced. The only problem, such as it is? The LEX part of the logo has completely and slightly mysteriously disappeared.

Here’s a photo of the heating element after a thousand or so boils:

If you do want to die, though, the $2.17 Lookatool Pocket Boiler is where it’s at. The Ovente looks quite similar to the Proctor Silex model, comes in several cool colors, and is currently the same price, but has a stupid window. Read the rest

Blacknoise generates irritating ambient sounds

Blacknoise is the opposite of a white noise generator: you leave it running and it produces annoying, aggravating sounds that go right through you. Read the rest

Painting reveals interior of Bruegel's Tower of Babel

Artist and animator Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame, with collage artist Kōsuke Kawamura, painted this view of the inside of the Tower of Babel, a perfectly fascinating pastiche of Bruegel's original, below.

Eric Stimson reports:

... Kawamura, who colored the painting to closely match the original. Kawamura says that he used over 25,000 layers in his editing software, "the most I've ever done in my life." He also had to carefully set the correct perspective for each brick. In the end, he doesn't even recognize his own work.

Otomo visited the original painting in Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen so he could study it carefully in detail. He even stumped the resident curators with his questions. For instance, they weren't sure where the tower's entrance was, but Otomo thinks he found it. He also noticed a river flowing into the tower and in the background, so he included it in his cutaway.

Modeling the Library of Babel in Sketchup. Read the rest

Arc Symphony is a Playstation game that never existed. Or did it?

Arc Symphony is a text-only game about being a fan of an elaborate Japanese Playstation RPG in the 1990s. Designed to evoke an old-timey USENET group and the ancient DOS PC used to connect to it, it's a perfect and mysterious capturing of a long-gone moment. To promote it, the creators commissioned designed jewel cases, complete with glossy booklet (no disk, of course), in perfect imitiation of a PSX game that never existed.

At shows, people spot the clever mockup and say, hey, I remember that game.

People tell them they remember playing it.

People insist they remember. There are fansites.

Arc Symphony works because of Park and Evan’s marketing of it—it becomes easier to pretend to be a fan of the game when they’ve managed to slip a little nostalgia for it into your drink. Both Park and Evans were very surprised by the success of their campaign, and how quickly it got away from them.

“It’s actually really unsettling when it stops just being indie game devs having fun with each other,” Park said, “and starts being, well, rewriting cultural memory…”

Previously: Nomen Ludi, the game you can't quite remember. Read the rest

Dog unwilling to yield large stick

Adorable. An aside: note how this video includes all the features of pre-internet animal video shows, where music and other anthropomorphizing cues bully you into the proper mindset to appreciate the humor. The only thing missing is a voiceover literally telling you that it's funny. It's not ironic, so either (a) someone trained a neural network on the career of Arsenio Hall or (b) the web, instead of dying, is completing its final metamorphosis to a box of VHS tapes at an estate sale. Read the rest

Review: Mainstays $9 portable electric burner

Mainstays Single Burner is a portable electric coil hotplate you can buy for $9 at Walmart (and Amazon). It has a 1m two-prong cord, an adjustable power control (temperatures are not marked) and rubber feet.

I tested it with a steel stock pot with 8 quarts of water.

After turning up the heat I watched it for a while. It got the water to about 160 degrees but it was only slowly rising and I doubt it would have gotten to a boil. Touching the steel to observe the element, I felt a strange tingling, rippling sensation in my arm.

“That’s odd,” I thought, lifting the pot up to look at the element. The sensation left me. Part of the element glowed red but mostly it remained dark. I placed the pot back on the element and the moment it touched it that weird tingle shot up my arm again.

“Oh, I’m being electrified,” I said, “because I bought a $9 electric burner from fucking Walmart.” Read the rest

Only recording of Hitler's normal voice

In movies and television, Hitler's speaking voice is usually depicted as a dialed-back version of his public speaking performances: even in private he's either shrieking or muttering. The reality, captured only once in a secret recording made in Finland, is unnerving. It's deep and commanding, yet with the same maniacal rhythms. You almost forget that he's admitting, in 1942, that he underestimated Soviet productive capability and would have ignored anyone who told him. Read the rest

No-one seriously hurt in crash that sliced car in half

The Press Democrat posted this video, shot by Tom Bond, of a crash on Highway 101 near Cloverdale, California: a car sheared clean in two lengthwise, the stunned driver still seated, unhurt, inches from the tear. The other driver was ejected but only suffered moderate injuries.

According to the CHP, Apol Lansang, 26, of Sonoma, was driving her Malibu south on Highway 101, near Geysers Road when she was struck by the northbound Sequoia being driven by Kevin Fenty, 27, of Huntington Beach, that drifted across the highway into Lansang’s lane.

The impact sliced Lansang’s car down the middle, sending the car’s entire passenger side onto the embankment. Fenty was ejected by the impact. Both drivers were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital — Lansang with minor injuries and Fenty with moderate injuries, according to the CHP.

“The scene was, it was pretty intense,” said Sgt. Jason Bahlman, who has been with the CHP for 16 years. “It was definitely one of the most severely damaged cars I’ve ever seen.”

Read the rest

Trump's a scream in this stack of newspapers

Friday's edition of German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel; this shot was everywhere this weekend, sadly unsourced! Read the rest

Map of American people's attempts to guess where North Korea is

Americans who know where North Korea is are more like to favor diplomacy over war in dealing with its regime. Unfortunately, few Americans know where North Korea is. Read the rest

The wonderful thing about capitalism...

...is the wide range of choice it provides. Read the rest

$12k-a-ticket Fyre Festival tells staff they're not going to be paid

The organizers of the disastrous Fyre Festival— which charged $12,000 a ticket, splurged the proceeds on celebrity endorsements and other bullshit, failed to prepare the site in time for the rich kids flying there, then delayed the event as they went feral at the half-finished event site in the Bahamas, then flew them all home—has informed staff they will not be paid. But if they want to, they can volunteer!

On Friday, Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old founder of the disastrous Fyre Festival, told his shell-shocked employees that their paychecks covering the past two weeks would not be coming. Nor would he be firing them, a prerequisite for unemployment benefits in most states. Instead, McFarland offered to allow his dozen-or-so employees to stay on in unpaid roles, where they could work to grow the business to a place where they might get paid again.

The meeting, audio of which was obtained by VICE News, wrapped up weeks of uncertainty for the employees of Fyre Media, the company behind Fyre Festival, whose primary job had been building a celebrity and talent booking app the festival was intended to promote. Rapper and Fyre Media co-founder Ja Rule was on the grim conference call, but his role was that of a listener.

“I’m on the phone but I can barely hear you all because of this fucking hum,” Ja Rule said.

The organizers are millionaires and can obviously afford to pay their staff, and the reputation immolation of Ja Rule and McFarland is already complete, so the obvious opinion to take is that they're at the fuck all of you stage, where every last penny represents a tiny fragment of their narcissistic egos and will be pinched. Read the rest

Trump threatens Comey on Twitter, suggests he has "tapes" of their conversations

President Donald Trump, having fired FBI Director James Comey in what he admits was an effort to stymie the Bureau's investigation into links between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, is now threatening him on Twitter.

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How to check if a phone is stolen

Buying a phone on Craigslist or eBay or some other shady venue? Get the device's ESN or IMEI number from the seller and post it to the Stolen Phone Checker, a single-serving website set up by industry trade group CTIA. If the seller won't give you the number, assume it's stolen. [via] Read the rest

Gallery of gadgets at the Bang & Olufsen Museum

Vlad Savov went on a tour of the Bang & Olufsen Museum in Struer, Denmark—a wonder closet of cool audio gear.

The very earliest Bang & Olufsen product was actually a component rather than a full-fledged radio. The Eliminator, as it was called, made batteries unnecessary and allowed you to plug your radio directly into the mains. A couple of years after the Eliminator’s introduction, Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen moved their work out of the Olufsen family farm and into a factory in the nearby town of Struer in northwest Denmark. This is where the main B&O manufacturing facilities remain to this day.

In terms of their design inspiration, these first B&O radios were like the original skeuomorphic iPhone OS of their time. They adapted the styling of familiar pieces of home furniture to their technological purposes.

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Complete orbit of the moon from NASA Lunar Orbiter

From @LRO_NASA:

"A huge payoff from the longevity of the LRO mission is the repeat coverage obtained by the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC). The WAC has a very wide field-of-view (FOV), 90° in monochrome mode and 60° in multispectral mode, hence its name. On the one hand, the wide FOV enables orbit-to-orbit stereo, which allowed LROC team members at the DLR to create the unprecedented 100 meter scale near-global (0° to 360° longitude and 80°S to 80°N latitude) topographic map of the Moon."

See also NASA Goddard's Tour of the Moon, especially if your love for it was formed in the last century:

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Caught raiding birdseed, chipmunk yields haul

"Hm. That's kinda gross." [via] Read the rest

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