Wonder Woman as a symbol of progress

In this new upload, video essayist KaptainKristian explores the history of Wonder Woman as a progressive symbol. Read the rest

A look back at The Hags, a 1980s all-girl skate gang

The Los Angeles punk and skate scenes of the mid-1980s produced a brief, shining moment of total badassery in the form of The Hags, a now-legendary all-girl skateboard gang that prowled Hollywood and West LA. Bust magazine takes a loving look back. Read the rest

Fist-sized Hercules Beetle pupa

HirokA1007's youtube channel is a menagerie of enormous insects such as this Hercules beetle pupa. Below, a larva, also the size of his fist. [via JWZ]

Previously: Read the rest

The genetics of photosensitive sneezing, explained

If you're among the one in four people who sneeze when you move from a dark place into the sunlight, this nifty little explainer from a fellow traveler gives a great overview of causation theories over the millennia. Turns out it is just one transposed letter in the second chromosome that causes the effect. Read the rest

The NSA no longer claims the right to read your email in case you're talking about foreigners

For more than a decade, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been suing the NSA over its extraordinarily broad interpretation of its powers under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act -- a law that the NSA says gives it the power to spy on Americans any time they mention a foreigner. Read the rest

The CIA created a "Snowden Stopper" to catch future whistleblowers

The latest Wikileaks release of leaked CIA cyberweapons includes "Scribbles" -- referred to by the CIA as the "Snowden Stopper" -- a watermarking tool that embeds web-beacon style tracking beacons into secret documents that quietly notify a central server every time the document is opened. Read the rest

US government tells Supremes it could strip citizenship from virtually all naturalized Americans if it wanted to

The Supreme Court heard arguments in Maslenjak v. United States, a case about whether minor omissions or falsehoods in an immigration application can cost a naturalized American their citizenship, decades after the fact. Read the rest

Review: High-Rise (2016)

High-Rise, directed by Ben Wheatley, brings J.G. Ballard's classic novel to the screen after a long wait.

It's set almost entirely in a residential tower, a massive brutalist edifice inhabited by thousands of early-1970s Britons eager for a new life. The ultimate product of mid-century urban planning, the concrete building is designed to take care of all its occupants' needs: there's a supermarket, a swimming pool, even a primary school, all tucked away deep within its forty stories.

Robert Laing, an introverted young doctor, moves in hoping to become an anonymous nobody amid this monument to the bland excellence of modern life. But he commits the critical error of making friends, and is slowly consumed by the building's odd psychic character, its microcosmic reflection of the divisions in society at large.

He notices that the lower levels are first to suffer when the power fails; then that the higher echelons enjoy special amenities of their own. And then, when the lights go out, everything goes to hell.

A little awareness of British life in the 1970s helps contextualise details that might otherwise baffle—in particular, skyscraper-happy Americans should know that residential towers there were always a controversial novelty, that garbage collecters were perpetually on strike, and that in British engineering, corners are always cut. But Ballard's sinister geometry of modernity, hiding an emotional suppression ready to explode into violence, is a language universal to all employed westerners.

It's an intriguing, sophisticated and handsome movie made excellent by Wheatley's skill and its cast: Tom Hiddleston as the skeptical middle-class everyman driven to madness by his environment's awful sanity, Jeremy Irons as the tower's vicious yet uncannily humanist architect, Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid's Tale) as society's hope, and Luke Evans (Bard from The Hobbit) as the agent of chaos. Read the rest

Trump's reign is sad for tech, too

The first 100 days of Trump's presidency were a shambolic festival of incompetence and looming catastrophe. But it's not all about beltway politics, you know! Because the intense (and reasonable) focus is upon on the media-friendly dimensions of his buffoonery, we sometimes miss how it affects specific aspects of American life. The Verge took a look at what's already happening to the technology business, from the threatened end of net neutrality to immigration lockouts. If you had hoped tech might have gotten through unscathed, somehow, perhaps you aren't paying attention to how much his corner of the establishment hates it.

Under Donald Trump, Silicon Valley’s ideal of a global community no longer seems like the foregone conclusion it might have a few years ago, and people are still figuring out how to deal with the barriers Trump is erecting. Mass protests and legal battles have stalled bans on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries, and the president’s love of Twitter isn’t doing him any favors in court. But there's still plenty more on the table that points to a future of isolation, not interconnection.

The change in course has shaken tech titans who are dedicated to getting the whole world online (and on their platforms). Mark Zuckerberg published a defense of "global community" that acknowledged its discontents, hoping to win the public’s affection before either running for president or making reality obsolete. Uber, meanwhile, stayed true to form and turned the protests into a way to make people hate it even more.

Read the rest

Flying Fox enjoys grape

Megabattie posted a video of a female grey-headed flying fox who is "happy to stuff her face" with grapes.

Green grapes, red grapes - any grapes.

This bat is not a pet - she's a wild animal who was rescued, nursed back to health, and released, fatter and healthier, and still pregnant, about 6 weeks after she was rescued, almost dead.

Do not handle bats unless you're vaccinated and trained. Some bats (a very small percentage) may carry deadly viruses.

Call a wildlife group if you find a bat in trouble. If you get bitten or scratched, go to your local hospital and you will be vaccinated free of charge (in Australia).

Bats are nothing to be scared of if you leave them alone.

Read the rest

In 1961 an IBM 7094 was the first computer to sing

I had no idea!

Evidently HAL 9000 sang Daisy Bell as a tribute, it is the first song ever sung by a computer. In 1961 an IBM 7094 was the first to raise its voice in song.

The vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews, but the song was written by Harry Dacre, almost a century earlier, in 1892. Read the rest

Already regretting assigning J.G. Ballard to cover the Fyre Festival

(Note to proofreader: I just received this copy and figure it should just go up verbatim. Next time they do something like this remind me to send William Golding instead. — Rob)

Later, as he sat in his tent eating the doggo, Robin Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place at the Fyre Festival during the previous three hours.

Now that everything had returned to normal, with most of the rich kids cowering in the airport and the ostensible proprietors begging Twitter for forgiveness and mercy, he was surprised that there had been no obvious beginning, no point beyond which lunch had moved into a clearly more sinister dimension. In the middle of the field, a girl in an Afhan Whigs tee shirt screamed about gluten in the rye. Read the rest

The 10 worst jobs in America right now

Not all careers are created equal. Take journalism, for example. High stress, low growth, very low pay. Why would anyone choose this field? (You're asking the wrong person.) According to CareerCast, who ranked the 200 most common jobs in America, journalism is a pretty crummy field to be in this year (as in, last place on the list).

CareerCast used metrics such as "growth outlook, income, environmental conditions and stress" as their basis in creating this list. Here is the methodology they used.

And now (...drumroll...), here are the 10 worst jobs of 2017:

1. Newspaper reporter (Median Salary: $37,820)

2. Broadcaster (Median Salary: $38,870)

3. Logger (Median Salary: $37,590)

4. Enlisted military personnel (Median Salary: $27,936)

5. Pest control worker (Median Salary: $33,040)

6. Disc jockey (Median Salary: $30,830)

7. Advertising salesperson (Median Salary: $50,380)

8. Firefighter (Median Salary: $48,030)

9. Retail salesperson (Median Salary: $22,900)

10. Taxi driver (Median Salary: $24,300)

And in case you're wondering, the very best job these days is that of statistician (Median Salary: $80,110). To see CareerCast's full list of 200 ranked jobs, click here.

Image: Israel Government Press Office Read the rest

100g digital scale with 0.01g divisions for $10

I've had this AWS 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale ($10) digital scale for a couple of years, and I used it twice a day when I'm home to weigh supplement powders (and sometimes loose leaf tea and coffee beans). It's about the size of an iPhone. It measures up to a limit of 100 grams in 0.01 gram increments. Read the rest

Extreme wealth inequality will always devour the societies that produce it

My new novel Walkaway (US tour/UK tour) is set in a world that is being torn apart by out-of-control wealth inequality, but not everyone thinks that inequality is what destabilizes the world -- there's a kind of free-market belief that says the problem is really poverty, not inequality, and that the same forces that make the rich richer also lift poor people out of misery, delivering the sanitation, mass food production, communications tools and other innovations that rescues poor people from privation. Read the rest

NYPD boasts about small-time weed bust, NY says "apologize and give it back"

A pair of New York's finest posed with 100 tiny bags of pot, tweeting, "One less marijuana dealer on our streets thanks to Officers Sardone and Winter." The twittersphere was not impressed.

[via] Read the rest

Musical instruments cunningly disguised as household potteryware

At a pottery fair in Pittsburgh, I ran into Kimberlyn Bloise, who makes handsome musical instruments that are also mugs, vases and pendants. They sound and look wonderful, and have the strange quality of something both charming and haunting, like remnants of a vanished culture. You can order them from her online shop.

I put a lot of testing into my instruments, but none of them plays a full scale, and none are traditionally tuned. The clay changes so much from when I begin to working with it to when I have the finished product. It shrinks and expands, and the pitches change along with it. What I have been able to do is figure out where to place the holes in relation to the size of the resonating chamber (the hollow handle) so that the notes all sound good together on each individual piece. The flute mugs all play parts of a blues scale! Could I figure out traditional tuning on all of them? Probably. But it would take so much planning and effort, and my prices would have to reflect that. I'm sure you've noticed that "real" instruments are quite expensive, and I don't want to make mine that pricey! Plus, I don't intend for anyone to play the flute handle in any professional capacity, so I don't sweat it too much.

Here's a flute hidden in a mug handle:

The large horn vase:

Here is the "complaining husky" horn vase:

And the bouncy udu:

Read the rest

Previous PageNext page