It seems like yesterday, but Trololo — the internet-fueled renaissance of a perfectly demented Soviet echo of midcentury western light-entertainment bullshit — is almost a decade old. And the savant behind it, Eduard Khil, was born this day in 1934 and died a little more than five (!) years ago, after too-briefly enjoying his sudden international fame. Google made an animated doodle in his honor:
I can't decide what was the last gasp of the web's aughts-era wonder: Trololo or Rammstein feat. Cookie Monster.
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In the Internet of Shit, Grosseries Department, a colleague and friend of this reporter who requested anonymity for themselves and their client relayed a story of a Samsung fridge that had a distinct odor about it — not of rotten food, but of a subverted Internet-connected Family Hub.
Samsung envisioned this $3,200 refrigerator as a kind of dashboard for families — even though every individual might have their own devices — that could share information, calendars, notes, and drawings, and surf the Web. This is part of the practice of turning a family into a kind of little corporation.
What Samsung may not have thought of is how to advise people setting up the Family Hub in a shared area. In which many unrelated people pass through. At different times of the day. Without anyone else being there.
My friend, who dealt with the clean-up, says that it might have been construction workers or other folks who were responsible, but somebody — somebody! — drew dicks all over virtual sticky notes across all the swipe-through screens. This was discovered when the organization’s head toured a visitor through the office, and wanted to show off a streaming feature on the Samsung fridge. My friend writes:
The head finally gets past the dicks, brings up the browser, and it starts streaming high-definition porn from a Web site.
My colleague didn’t see the dicks, which were deleted by the time they arrived, but they did see the porn history. Read the rest
People who suffer from chronic itching say it's more unbearable than pain. I'll never forget a 2008 story called The Itch in The New Yorker. It's about a woman whose scalped itched so much that "She had scratched through her skull during the night—and all the way into her brain."
Chemical and Engineering News reports that a compound in the popular psychedelic plant Salvia divinorum was found to contain a compound that is found to provide itch relief to mice.
Salvinorin A, a hallucinogen produced by the Mexican plant Salvia divinorum, holds promise for treating itch and pain because it activates the κ-opioid receptor while avoiding the μ-opioid receptor, a sister receptor that’s been associated with opioid abuse. Chemists have tried to synthesize salvinorin A so that they could alter the structure to sidestep the compound’s psychoactive effects while preserving its analgesic properties. But salvinorin A’s scaffold has been challenging to recreate.
Now, a team of scientists at the California and Florida branches of Scripps Research Institute, as well as at the University of Southern California, report a 10-step total synthesis of 20-norsalvinorin A (ChemRxiv 2017, DOI: 10.26434/chemrxiv.5318188). The compound differs from salvinorin A by a single methyl group and binds to the κ -opioid receptor with an affinity similar to that of the natural product. When given to mice, it also provides itch relief. Read the rest
Movie composer Mark Korven (The Cube and The Witch) wanted a musical instrument that made terrifying sounds so he asked his luthier friend, Tony Duggan-Smith, to make something that fit the bill. Behold the "Apprehension Engine."
From YouTube description:
What happens when a horror movie composer and a guitar maker join forces? They create the world’s most disturbing musical instrument. Affectionately known as "The Apprehension Engine," this one-of-a-kind instrument was commissioned by movie composer Mark Korven. Korven wanted to create spooky noises in a more acoustic and original way—but the right instrument didn't exist. So his friend, guitar maker Tony Duggan-Smith, went deep into his workshop and assembled what has to be the spookiest instrument on Earth.
[via 3 Quarks Daily] Read the rest
This has got to be the funniest get-the-wild-animal-out-of-the-house videos ever. You couldn't write fiction better than this. Even the panicked man who I supposed is the dad thinks it's funny. The dad is holding a towel, running around the kitchen screaming "Catch him!" and "Fuck it!" He jumps up on chair at one point, but it does him no good. Then we see a woman's face pressed against the glass panel of a door, which would look pretty scary if this were a horror flick. She's too scared to come into the kitchen. Even the dog gets in on the action, peeing on the floor during the commotion. Towards the finale there is a goofy scream that is priceless. Nobody is actually doing anything constructive to lead the bat out to its natural habitat. The whole thing had me laughing out loud. Fortunately the bat, unharmed, does make it outside, eventually. Read the rest
In my latest Locus column, "Demon-Haunted World," I propose that the Internet of Cheating Things -- gadgets that try to trick us into arranging our affairs to the benefit of corporate shareholders, to our own detriment -- is bringing us back to the Dark Ages, when alchemists believed that the universe rearranged itself to prevent them from knowing the divine secrets of its workings.
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Micki Myers paints very realistic vegetables and fruit. Just one item in each case, floating in a pure existential realm of nutritious plant life. Pictured above is an apple. Here's a pickle:
Also, an obligatory banana. Read the rest
Yesterday, I left the Black Rock Desert after Burning Man and my phone came to life and informed me that my novel Walkaway had been awarded DragonCon's Dragon Award for Best Apocalyptic Novel!
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In June, China started vigorously enforcing its ban on VPNs, ordering mobile app stores to end access to VPN services that hadn't left a set of man-in-the-middle keys with the Chinese police.
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Here's a weatherman who has no problem letting the wind fly on live TV. Watch how he takes a preparatory step back, bends forward for maximum muzzle velocity, and then shoots the cannon. Or breaks wind, as it were. The people watching and taping this weather report have such a good laugh, they have to rewind it and play it again. Read the rest
Here's a great collection of 1950s and 1960s Eastern European matchbook covers, many with a space exploration theme. Read the rest
According to the product description at Amazon, these fluorescent unicorn stickers will apply to any flat surface, can be removed and replaced, and "need to absorb light in daytime" if they are to glow in darkness. So be warned: just as fans left on at night slowly remove all the oxygen from the air, throttling the life from young and old alike, too many unicorns may result in Dyatlov-like irradiated corpses strewn around the bedroom.
Each unicorn is 7cm x 10cm and you get 10 for $6.15.
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Club Jäger was a popular Minneapolis night spot until Citypages revealed that its owner, Julius Jaeger De Roma, donated $500 to the senatorial campaign of David Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard and ardent Donald Trump supporter.
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Enjoy this local Chicago TV profile of toy inventor Marvin Glass--if you can.
His toy development company created many famous toys and games (Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Operation, etc.) which brought joy and mirth to millions of kids, but Marvin Glass himself had a dark side and was often depressed. He was famously profiled in The Saturday Evening Post as the “Troubled King of Toys.”
In this 1972 interview Glass comes off as defensive and negative, like Dan Akroyd's SNL Mainway Toy Company President or Martin Short's sweaty attorney Nathan Thurm.
For more info on Marvin Glass and the famous toys he helped create, check out the Maker Media book Make: FUN! Create Your Own Toys, Games, and Amusements.
[The amazing interview starts here. Glass could have been a character in a Mamet movie -- Mark] Read the rest
I hope he is doing this to entertain himself and not to, y'know, get rid of the puddle.
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Pablo writes, "In Houston, half-a-million undocumented immigrants, many of them victims of Hurricane Harvey, fear seeking help from state and federal relief efforts."
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I used to pretend to cry, whenever I was down, just so my dog Lucy would run up and comfort me. This worked well for a little over 16 years.
I have lived my entire life with dogs. I have been lucky enough to know several really special ones. Lucy Patterson was, from the very first day we got her, up until the minute she left, a dog that opened up every heart around her -- and then stole their food.
Lucy was a glutton. She once ate an entire 3lb bag of "Bit o' Honey" off my kitchen table. Lu proceeded to crap corn syrup and wax paper for days. I doubt she regretted it.
Lucy took a point blank shot in the face from a skunk, and in her suffering somehow decided to run back into the house and roll around in the clean laundry to try and get the stink off. She, and the house smelled for months.
Lu chewed the gear shift lever in every car she could.
When Lucy was 12 her cardiologist told us she had 3 to 6 months to live. Lucy did not hear this.
Mad at a member of our family, Lucy once took a dump at their spot on the dinner table.
Lucy would sleep on my feet, and I'd call her 'LuLu Shoes' -- when she'd sleep on my head it was known as a 'PatsPats Hat.'
Lucy trained Calliope to be a near perfect dog, but Zuul really became her mini-me. Read the rest