Unseen Magic: tricks that make you want to perform

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Patrick Kun's Unseen Magic videos compile 5-10 second clips of beautifully executed magic tricks that combine manual dexterity with fabulous showmanship. Read the rest

Unanimous decisions are less reliable

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From the YouTube description of this TedEd video:

Imagine a police lineup where ten witnesses are asked to identify a bank robber they glimpsed fleeing the scene. If six of them pick the same person, there’s a good chance that’s the culprit. And if all ten do, you might think the case is rock solid. But sometimes, the closer you start to get to total agreement, the less reliable the result becomes. Derek Abbott explains the paradox of unanimity.

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Watch Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' without the music

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"Hee hee hee..."

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Watch these bulldozers battle over turf, for real

In China's Hebei Province, bulldozers from competing construction companies battled it reportedly over a business opportunity. According to ABC News, police finally put a stop to the insanity and two drivers were injured. Perhaps the operators have been watching too many Survival Research Labs performance videos.

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Samantha Bee interviews Bernie Sanders supporters, and it's pretty hilarious

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Samantha Bee hilariously interviewed a panel of folks feeling the Bern. Read the rest

The magical future of virtual reality

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In Wired, BB pal Kevin Kelly wrote a definitive feature about the current (and future?) state of virtual reality, technology that many of us first tried in the late 1980s but took nearly thirty years to be ready for prime time.

I first put my head into virtual reality in 1989. Before even the web existed, I visited an office in Northern California whose walls were covered with neoprene surfing suits embroidered with wires, large gloves festooned with electronic components, and rows of modified swimming goggles. My host, Jaron Lanier, sporting shoulder-length blond dreadlocks, handed me a black glove and placed a set of homemade goggles secured by a web of straps onto my head. The next moment I was in an entirely different place. It was an airy, cartoony block world, not unlike the Minecraft universe. There was another avatar sharing this small world (the size of a large room) with me—Lanier.

We explored this magical artificial landscape together, which Lanier had created just hours before. Our gloved hands could pick up and move virtual objects. It was Lanier who named this new experience “virtual reality.” It felt unbelievably real. In that short visit I knew I had seen the future. The following year I organized the first public hands-on exhibit (called Cyberthon), which premiered two dozen experimental VR systems from the US military, universities, and Silicon Valley. For 24 hours in 1990, anyone who bought a ticket could try virtual reality. The quality of the VR experience at that time was primitive but still pretty good.

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Competing construction companies stage a bulldozer fight in a busy street

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In this video, we see a rare bulldozer duel between construction rivals in Xingtang county, Hebei province. Read the rest

To do in San Francisco: 2016's first Ignite event, 4/26

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Brady Forrest writes, "Ignite SF's first event of 2016 is on 4/26. We've got lots of great speakers. Eva Galperin (EFF) is going to talk about the FBI, Apple & your iPhone. Renee Diresta is going to dive into conspiracy theories and how algorithms influence policy." Read the rest

Trump solemnly recalls the 7-11 attacks

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The New York Times reports on a gaffe that's part tragedy, part comedy, all Trump.

“I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down,” Mr. Trump said on Monday evening. “And I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.”

Mr. Trump did not seem to realize that he had invoked a chain of convenience stores, and the crowd did not seem to mind.

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Infinite Trump

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And I made an actually-infinite perfect-looping Trump GIF for you: Read the rest

Watch: Slow-motion explosions of skateboarding and paint

I haven't enjoyed the effects of dry pigments this much since Blue Man Group! (Kuma Films)

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Understand the blockchain in two minutes

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You’ve heard of bitcoin. It’s a form of digital cash you can send to anyone, even a complete stranger. You may not have heard about bitcoin's digital ledger, called the blockchain, tracks and validates bitcoin transactions. Blockchain technology has enormous potential beyond bitcoin to automate every type of online transaction that requires a degree of trust. In this short video, produced by Institute for the Future (where I am a research director), Olivia Olson (the voice of Marceline the Vampire Queen in Adventure Time) explains how blockchain technology can be used to launch companies that are entirely run by algorithms, make self-driving cars safer, help people manage and protect their online identities, and track the billions of devices on the Internet of Things. Read the rest

Chicken salt, with and without chicken

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A friend, who purports to be a famous chef in the Seattle area, introduced me to Chicken Salt. After discussing his great love of transglutaminase, and MSG, he told me about Chicken Salt. This Australian seasoned salt was, in his opinion, where I had to adventure next.

He sent me this recipe on Lucky Peach. It involves the roasting and toasting of chicken breast skin in a manner to maintain chicken-y flavor and not create carbon dust. You then grind that chicken skin into dust, in a mortar and pestle, and mix it with seasoned salt. Adding baked down chicken fat as if it were nitrous to the muscle car of flavor, salt.

This seemed like a lot of work for me, at the time, so I thought I'd just buy some online. When it arrived at home, I tried it on some homemade potato chips, fried in rendered duck fat. I suggest lightly salting the chips on their way in and out. It totally added a delicious chicken-y, and salty flavor!

Then I looked at the can, and there was no chicken in there. It says VEGAN right on the label. I was confused. So, I asked a friend, who claims to have been born and raised in Australia, if Chicken Salt needed chicken to be authentic. She laughed and laughed. Evidently the Lucky Peach recipe is a bit more lower eastside than down under. She assures me the OTC stuff is authentic, and suggests the next time I want an Australian seasoning, I not ask a Seattle Chef for a recipe from New York. Read the rest

John Oliver and the cast of Sesame Street on lead poisoning

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In light of Flint lead catastrophe, John Oliver gets the cast of Sesame Street to update their 20-year-old segment warning kids to steer clear of lead paint, making it over into an economic parable about moral hazard and aligning incentives. (via Rolling Stone) Read the rest

Kickstarting Bloc by Bloc: a game about radical insurrection

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Rocket Lee writes, "In Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game, players struggle together to overthrow a repressive government and liberate a randomized city that changes with each game. To win, players must build barricades, loot shopping centers, occupy strategic locations, clash with riot cops and defend liberated zones before time runs out and the military arrives. Each player is also dealt an individual faction agenda and those with Vanguardist or Nihilist agendas are secretly playing to win the game alone." Read the rest

It's time to stop the Powerpuff Girls

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Johnny Scuz ShadeX combined two awful things: the new PowerPuff Girls cartoon and the "it's time to stop" meme. If you want a picture of the future, Winston, imagine beloved things being drowned in irony, lame topicality and imitation of things young people don't even do anymore, forever. Read the rest

Watch Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's creepy recorded apology to Australia

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The room is bland and off-white. Could be anywhere. Daylight seeps through curtains that could have been manufactured at any time since the Second World War. The convicts look down at a camera. They're disheveled and maybe afraid. The camera is a cheap one, probably a cellphone. They aren't political prisoners in North Korea, though; it's Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Australia. In the recording, made for an Australian court after the two snuck their pet dogs into the country, however, they do confess their crimes – and render a eulogy to biodiversity.

In the video apology released by the Australian government, a stony-faced Heard sits alongside Depp to state she is "truly sorry that Pistol and Boo were not declared. Protecting Australia is important."

"Australia is a wonderful island with a treasure trove of unique plants, animals and people," the actress said.

"Australia is free of many pests and diseases that are commonplace around the world. That is why Australia has to have such strong biosecurity laws." Depp added: "Australians are just as unique, both warm and direct. When you disrespect Australian law, they will tell your firmly. "

When the Australian government found out Depp and Heard had brought two Yorkies Pistol and Boo to Australia with them in their private jet, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to have the dogs killed. Depp and Heard left the country immediately, according to CNN, but were later charged. Read the rest

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