Tobias Strebel, who underwent plastic surgery to look like Justin Bieber, found dead

Tobias Strebel, 35, who famously spent $100,000 on cosmetic surgery to look like Justin Bieber, was found dead in a Motel 6 in Los Angeles County. Read the rest

R.I.P. Randy Stickrod, great friend of Wired and Boing Boing

I just learned that Randy Stickrod died in late July, and I'm in shock. He was 71. Randy was one of the kindest and most generous people I've ever met, and he was a great friend to many people in the early 1990s San Francisco publishing world.

Randy had an enormous open room on the ground floor at 544 Second Street in South Park, San Francisco and he gave nearly rent-free office space and free publishing advice to a bunch of small publishers. Wired started in Randy's giant room. When Wired moved upstairs, bOING bOING (the zine) moved into the corner that Wired occupied. In the corner next to us was Dave Egger's Might magazine. There was also Just Go! (a travel magazine), and Hum (a magazine for young South Asians), and a bunch of other magazines I can't remember any more. Randy also shared his expertise in publishing to Mondo 2000.

Randy was gentle, calm, and one of the healthiest-looking 50-year-olds I'd ever met (he's 66 in this photo - learn about his workout and diet here).

He was an inspiration to me and I'm sad he's gone.

Randy's wife Catherine LaCroix and his friend Kathleen Maher wrote a remembrance of this fantastic person, who was loved by everyone who came into his circle. Read the rest

Magician Neil Henry proposes to his girlfriend with alphabetty spaghetti trick

Worth staying until the end of the video. Read the rest

Podcast: Effective Altriusm interview with the author of "Doing Good Better"

Rick Kleffel talks to William MacAskill, the core of Effective Altruism, discussing EA and his book about it. It's much more pragmatic and entirely reasonable, not about extreme statistics and speculations." Read the rest

EFF announces the 2015 Pioneer Award winners

Caspar Bowden, Citizen Lab, Anriette Esterhuysen and the Association for Progressive Communications, and Kathy Sierra will be awarded the EFF's prestigious prize recognizing the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier. Read the rest

Cat Hospital: A feline YouTube telenovela

Sex, intrigue, and catnip, in this cat-themed soap opera YouTubed by Mark Douglas. Read the rest

China: police detain financial reporter for “spreading false information” about stock market

A respected journalist in China who reported an important story about that nation's stock market fluctuations was held by police, who say he was “spreading false information.”

Superman Drone

“I duct-taped a Superman figure to my Phantom 3 and flew it over Victoria Park. Glorious!” Read the rest

Ashley Madison looks like it was always a big sad scam

Annalee Newitz reports that very few of the female profiles at the hacked site appear to represent real people.

The world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.

Her examination of the dataset (generally described as representing about 37m accounts) is that there were perhaps 12,000 paying women users. Which means, of course, that very few of the paying male users were actually having affairs. Of that total, only 1,492 female-profile users ever checked their messages, compared to 20m men.

One thousand, four-hundred and ninety-two.

Ashley Madison employees did a pretty decent job making their millions of women’s accounts look alive. They left the data in these inactive accounts visible to men, showing nicknames, pictures, sexy comments. But when it came to data that was only visible on to company admins, they got sloppy. The women’s personal email addresses and IP addresses showed marked signs of fakery. And as for the women’s user activity, the fundamental sign of life online? Ashley Madison employees didn’t even bother faking that at all.

Here's what Ashley Madison is: a swizz. You pay up to "have an affair", you get strung along for a while, you realize the site is garbage, then you pay the "fee" to have your data deleted. Read the rest

North Dakota cops can now use lobbyist-approved taser/pepper-spray drones

Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer's Association introduced an amendment to ND HB 1328 that allows cops to shoot at citizens with drone-borne rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, tasers and sound cannon. Read the rest

Use this shocking gadget for mosquito bite relief

This little gadget, called the Zap-It ($(removed) on Amazon), delivers a small electrical shock to a mosquito bite, making the itch stop. It uses a piezoelectric crystal to create the spark, so no batteries are needed. According to the UK's National Physical Laboratory, the shock (which in my experience is less painful than a static electricity zap) "acts on the skin of an insect bite victim to reduce excess production of histamine, and the associated redness and itching. Results from a clinical trial conducted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded that more than 90% of test subjects were itch-free within five minutes of using the Zap-It! product."

My family has been using a similar piezoelectric zapper for years to make mosquito bites stop itching. My daughters have also learned that you can zap your wrist to make your fingers twitch, so the gadget doubles as a toy.

They manufacturer recommends starting with five clicks on a mosquito bite, but we zap ourselves 20 times or more. As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs says, "'Too much' is always better than not enough." Read the rest

Wacky dudes in Russia open 1940s war ration can and eat it because Russia

According to the uploader's description, these jolly Russian gentlemen here are opening what is identified as a 70-year-old package of Soviet fighter pilot war chow. Read the rest

Illinois mayor appoints failed censor to town library board

Peter writes, "Is a public library's board of trustees any place for a would-be book censor? The town of Downers Grove, Illinois is about to find out." Read the rest

Baby meets her family cat for the first time, completely flips out with happiness

If you can manage to avoid smiling while you watch this video, you must be made of far stronger stuff than I am. Read the rest

Music: "I'm Not Waiting," The Downbeat 5 (2006)

"Sir, please lower the volume of your punk rock music when in the (elementary school) car line." -- Pesco Read the rest

Level cities with your strange squid song

Imagine that one day a giant squid materialized in the sky over a city, singing the song that will end the world. Imagine that you are that squid.

Weekend of Wonder: The incredible animatronic sculptures of Thomas Kuntz

Artist Thomas Kuntz constructs fantastic animatronic mechanisms that recreate scenes from the best nightmares you've ever had.

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