Company's dystopian promotional video for drone armed with machine gun

What a time to be alive.

Duke Robotics brings a fully robotic weaponry system to an airborne platform. TIKAD, which is a proprietary development of Duke, uses the delivery of a unique suppression firing and stabilization solution. TIKAD allows governments to utilize completely new capabilities against terrorist groups and reduce the number of deployed ground troops, and therefore, the number of casualties.

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Fox and other conservative sites hastily nuke posts urging vehicular murder of left-wing protesters

Last January, the alt-right website Daily Caller ran a post called "Here's A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road," in which drivers endangered the lives of protesters while Ludacris's "Move Bitch" played in the background: the post was syndicated to a Fox websites and many other outposts of the right-wing media. Read the rest

Racist soap dispenser

Chukwuemeka Afigbo‏ of Lagos demonstrates a public toilet soap dispenser that only serves light-skinned people.

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Pantone announces new color honoring Prince

The Pantone Color Institute announced "Love Symbol #2," a shade of purple honoring Prince. A collaboration with Prince's estate, the hue, actually labeled with Prince's logo, is now the official color of his brand. From CNN:

Pantone has long been the authority on color trends and design. Since 2000, the corporation has released a "Color of the Year" that influences design and marketing. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a statement that it was an honor to help develop Prince's hue.

"A musical icon known for his artistic brilliance, Love Symbol #2 is emblematic of Prince's distinctive style," she said. "Long associated with the purple family, Love Symbol #2 enables Prince's unique purple shade to be consistently replicated and maintain the same iconic status as the man himself."

I only wanted to see you bathing in the Love Symbol #2 rain.

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Canadian woman banned from US for life after border agent searches phone, finds email to doctor about drug use

A 28-year-old woman from British Columbia was banned for life from entering the United States after a US Customs and Border Protection agent searched her phone for two hours and found an email she'd written to her doctor about an accidental drug overdose. Chelsea had gone to a strip club in 2016 for a friend's birthday and one of the women in the party offered her some "cocaine" that turned out to be fentanyl. Her friend died and she was taken to the emergency room and saved after being injected with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.

When border officials learned about the incident by taking Chelsea's phone and reading her email to her doctor, they informed her that she was being issued a lifetime ban from entering the US.

From Vice:

Canadians have also reported being banned from the US for admitting to smoking weed before. Since Trump has taken office, he's promised to crack down on border security, including the controversial "Muslim ban."

Waivers that temporarily allow entrance to the US like the one Chelsea is currently trying to obtain only last one to five years, so she'll need to get a new one every so often if she plans to keep visiting the States. Waivers cost $585 to apply for and take about six months to be issued.

Chelsea wants to warn others about how deeply they'll search smartphones at the US border. Even in the context of North America's current opioid crisis, which is killing thousands annually in the US and Canada, no extra compassion was given to someone who accidentally ingested fentanyl and nearly died from it.

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Dogs in Navi Mumbai are turning blue

A number of very unusual-looking blue dogs have been spotted in Navi Mumbai, India. Sadly, the cause is industrial waste in the Kasadi river where stray dogs often wade. From the Hindustan Times:

A water quality test at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation found the waste treatment was inadequate. The levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) — the concentration of oxygen required to sustain aquatic life — was 80 milligram a litre (mg/L). Levels of chloride, which is toxic, harms vegetation, aquatic life and wildlife, were also high....

“It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan, resident of Navi Mumbai, who runs the (Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell). “We have spotted almost five such dogs here and have asked the pollution control board to act against such industries.”

MPCB officials said they had taken cognisance of the complaint. “Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” said Anil Mohekar, regional officer, MPCB, Navi Mumbai. “We have directed our sub-regional officer to investigate,” he added.

Animal rights activists have, however, wondered whether the move comes too late. “We have only spotted blue dogs so far. We do not know if birds, reptiles and other creatures are affected or if they have even died owing to the dye discharged into the air,” said Chauhan.

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This is, er, golf cart body-surfing beer-drinking

I bet their parents are very proud.

Occurred on August 9, 2017 / Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada

A few buddies and I were golfing at one of the local courses, the group ahead of us were moving very slow so while we were waiting on them I came up with the idea. We took a few practice laps down the fairway then got out the beers and camera and made this masterpiece.

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Tiny robots in a mouse's stomach help heal an ulcer

Tiny micromotors about the width of a human hair traveled through a mouse's stomach delivering antibiotics to treat a stomach ulcer. The motors are powered by bubbles. According to the researchers from the University of California San Diego, the microrobot-based treatment proved more effective than regular doses of the medicine. From New Scientist:

The tiny vehicles consist of a spherical magnesium core coated with several different layers that offer protection, treatment, and the ability to stick to stomach walls. After they are swallowed, the magnesium cores react with gastric acid to produce a stream of hydrogen bubbles that propel the motors around. This process briefly reduces acidity in the stomach. The antibiotic layer of the micromotor is sensitive to the surrounding acidity, and when this is lowered, the antibiotics are released...

The next steps are to look at a larger animal study, followed by eventual trials in humans. “There is still a long way to go, but we are on a fantastic voyage,” says (researcher Joseph) Wang.

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Kids who attend online charters perform like traditional students who miss the whole year

Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes released this study in 2015, comparing the outcomes for students enrolled in online charter schools with comparable students (controlled for grade level, gender, race/ethnicity, free lunch eligibility, English language status, special ed status and historical state achievement test scores) in brick-and-mortar classrooms. Read the rest

Run a pixel art sword shop

Ben Stewart's Sword Shop is a minimalist buy-and-sell game. Every day, people come into your sword shop wanting to sell your their old gear. And, hopefully, more will come it to buy it.

Everyday you will be offered swords at different conditions and rarities, your goal is to make a profit. This is accomplished by buying swords for low prices and selling them at higher ones. Every sword you buy has a certain chance to sell at night, and if it does, you will see if you have made a profit.

You can plow profits into upgrading the store, or buying fancier swords. It's like running a pawn store, but with gorgeous pixel art stabbers.

It's fun figuring out the basic value ranges for each kind of sword and the materials, and I love its aesthetic and how it puts the exclusive focus on one tiny yet key mechanism of computer role-playing games (cf. my own Character creation is the whole game). However, the mechanism selected is the loot grind.

You quickly realize that you're on that particular treadmill and that the treadmill is randomness within a range: if there is any narrative support for the grind, or interesting "handmade" loot to cherish, I didn't get there before hopping off. Go play it and tell me if I missed something cool. Read the rest

The mistaken identity of Adolf Beck, "one of the strangest true stories in British legal history"

In 1896, Adolf Beck found himself caught up in a senseless legal nightmare: Twelve women from around London insisted that he'd deceived them and stolen their cash and jewelry. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Beck's incredible ordeal, which ignited a scandal and inspired historic reforms in the English justice system.

We'll also covet some noble socks and puzzle over a numerical sacking.

Show notes

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Weird Al composes 'The North Korea Polka' upon John Oliver's request

To appeal to the people of North Korea, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver enlisted the help of "Weird Al" Yankovic to write an accordion-based song about how Americans are not that bad (because North Koreans supposedly love accordion music). The brilliant ditty is called "The North Korea Polka" and the chorus is aptly, "Please don't nuke us, North Korea!"

image via Al Yankovic Read the rest

5 things to consider when choosing a VPN

Whether you’re someone who often works remotely from cafes, airports, or hotel lobbies, or are just concerned with the alarming frequency and specificity of targeted ads in your timeline, you should consider investing in a VPN. But with the myriad of commercial options available, it can be tough to find one with the right balance of features, scale, and price. Here’s what you should expect from a quality VPN, and how much you should be willing to shell out for a subscription:

1. Actual privacy protection

When subscribing to a VPN service, you’re paying for privacy, not a neat way to consolidate your browsing data for advertisers. Sadly, the increased interest in online privacy has given rise to scores of phony mobile VPNs — many of which would love to take over the exclusive rights to your browser traffic from your ISP. If your chosen provider doesn’t mention a no-log guarantee, there’s a good chance they have a side hustle of selling your search history to advertisers or law enforcement.

Additionally, a VPN should ensure that the tunnel they are providing is actually secure. This means offering strong encryption over a variety of data transfer protocols like PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec to maintain compatibility with the most platforms. Just because your bleeding-edge desktop OS supports a certain secure communication method doesn’t mean your 2-year-old smartphone will.

2. Ease of use

There’s no silver bullet for internet security. It’s all about making the right compromise between convenience and strength, and having the world’s most impenetrable data shield doesn’t matter if it’s a pain to use every day. Read the rest