Hubble Space Telescope finds smallest known galaxy with supermassive black hole

Fascinating news, and this stunning image, from astronomers using data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope: "a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known." Read the rest

4,000 more DRM-free comics now available on Comixology

Following on the Amazon division's July announcement that publishers could sell their work without DRM on its platform, a huge collection of publishers have signed up to participate: IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devil’s Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media. Read the rest

Game controller silicone molds for chocolate, candy & ice

Thinkgeek's silicone game controller molds are $10, and feature six controllers per food-/dishwasher-safe tray (Playstation, NES and Sega) -- perfect for candy, chocolate or icemaking. Read the rest

Futility Closet 26: A Practical Joke on a Grand Scale

In 1810 someone told hundreds of London merchants that Mrs. Tottenham at 54 Berners Street had requested their services. She hadn't. For a full day the street was packed with crowds of deliverymen struggling to reach a single door -- and the practical joker was never caught.

In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll hear descriptions of the chaos in Berners Street and meet Theodore Hook, the man who probably planned the whole thing. We'll also revisit the mysterious corpse found on an Australian beach in 1948 and puzzle over an octopus stuck in a tree.

Show notes Read the rest

Zen and the art of fighting crime

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist, nor a follower of any organized religion.

Mr. Stevenson, a resident of Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood, purchased a 2-foot Buddha and installed it on a median strip in his neighborhood, near 11th Avenue and 19th Street. Stevenson hoped his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime--dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

After he installed the statue, local residents began leaving gifts and flowers, and chanting prayers. When police checked crime statistics for the block radius around the statue, here's what they found: Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none. Read the rest

California drought photos: Before and OMG WTF

Overlapping images of the drought in California, with an adjustable before-and-after slider. Read the rest

S&L Podcast - #189 - Literary Virginity, Literally

We dig into the first four stories from Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others, and boy do we learn a lot about ourselves and others. Plus you'll want to take your vitamins since Margaret Atwood's latest novel won't be available to read for 100 years and we explore the idea of regaining your literary virginity.

Show notes for this episode Read the rest

Deadpool leggings

The Deadpool leggings ($35) are the perfect accessory to bring out your inner wisecracking immortal mercenary (the maker, Tohnik, also does leggings featuring Princess Monanoke Guardians of the Forest and Miyazaki minions). Read the rest

Rob Ford diagnosed with rare cancer affecting fat cells

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with Liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer that grows in fat cells in deep soft tissue. Read the rest

Animated GIF illustrations, Mattis Dovier

The artist's Tumblr. [via] Read the rest

Most feminist moments in sci-fi history

[S]ci-fi history actually has featured ahead-of-its-time, female-identifying authors and creators who have challenged conventional notions of race, gender, and sexuality head-on for centuries. Their contributions are so essential (some are by far the most out-there in the canon) that without them, the genre could not possibly have grown into the blockbuster behemoth it is today.

From Devon Maloney's story in NYMag Read the rest

No evidence Snowden leaks inspired jihadists to up their crypto game

A new analysis of jihadi groups' online communications reveals no evidence that Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA spying "inspired Islamic terror groups to hide their electronic communications behind more sophisticated encryption software." Read the rest

LA school police get free grenade launchers, rifles, armored MRAP vehicle from DoD. They'll return grenade launchers.

Los Angeles school police have acquired a number of military weapons through a Department of Defense program that provides local law enforcement with surplus war gear, free of charge (other than shipping costs). Read the rest

Texas to execute 9th person this year, a female convict

This will be the state’s ninth execution in 2014--more than any other state--and the 30th execution in the United States this year.

Florida schools open their doors to Satan

To ensure Florida's stupid laws allowing religion to be taught in public schools do not expose kids to just one idea the Satanic Temple is stepping up to provide alternate reading materials.

The Satanic Temple’s spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, explains, “We would never seek to establish a precedent of disseminating our religious materials in public schools because we believe our constitutional values are better served by respecting a strong separation of Church and State. However, if a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full Bibles to be distributed to students -- as is the case in Orange County, Florida -- we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth.”

I always love it when Satan turns out to be the good guy. Read the rest

Anker's 2nd gen 'Astro E4' 13000 mAh external battery

Anker's 2nd gen Astro E4 is fantastic as a short road trip battery. I love its size and shape for packing on a motorcycle. Read the rest

The undying web site of Heaven's Gate

The website of Heaven's Gate, the cult whose members killed themselves in hopes of riding Hale-Bopp to the eschaton, remains live 17 years later. Web developer and writer Jason Kottke remembers the day: "It was the first time an internet meme was a major aspect of a national news story." Read the rest

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