NYC (and beyond) Peeps: The No Pants Subway Ride is happening again

Hosted by the New York City comedy collective Improv Everywhere, the No Pants Subway Ride is an annual New York City tradition where folks go pantless --together-- on the subway. Now in its 17th year, the group has just announced that the 2018 event will happen on Sunday, January 7th. If you're interested in joining in on the fun, be sure to sign up for their mailing list. They'll be sharing more information there closer to the event's date.

The event happens outside of New York City too, but Improv Everywhere doesn't specifically run it. People like you do. They write:

Once again we are encouraging folks in other cities around the world to stage their own No Pants Subway Rides on the same day. Regional organizers must fill out this registration form to have their event included (that form is for organizers only.) The week before the event we will publish a list of all participating cities along with links to Facebook events. Groups have staged the event on trolleys, light rails, and buses in the past, so don’t let a lack of subway system stop you! 60 cities participated last year. Check the list on this page to see if one happened in your city last year as preference will go to the prior year’s organizers...

Here's a look at last year's event:

Full details can be found on Improv Everywhere's site.

(If you go, I want to see pix!)

photo by Katie Sokoler, via Improv Everywhere Read the rest

Watch 'The Force,' Melodysheep's 'superchill' tribute to Princess Leia

John D. Boswell, aka melodysheep, is using the force for good in The Force, his musical tribute to Princess Leia.

He writes:

A superchill tribute to Carrie Fisher, the galaxy's favorite princess. Rest in Peace.

Previously: Remix master Melodysheep's latest visits the Wizard of Oz Read the rest

Hamster Princess: charming, funny, subversive middle-grades illustrated fantasy about a totally ass-kicking hamster princess

When Princess Harriet Hamsterbone was born, her royal parents naturally didn't invite the evil fairy, and so of course the evil fairy cursed her to prick herself on a hamster wheel on her twelfth birthday and die; and of course the three good fairies softened the curse -- and that's where things get really funny in Ursula Vernon's 2015 middle-grades fantasy Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible, the first in a wildly successful series.

A free sf anthology about space travel, inequality, equity and public policy: Kim Stanley Robinson, Madeline Ashby, Eileen Gun, Ramez Naam, Steven Barnes, Karl Schroeder and more!

Joey from ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination sez, "Today, we published Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities, a free digital collection of fiction and nonfiction about the near future of space exploration, with special attention to issues of public policy, equity, and economics/financing. The book was supported by a grant from NASA, and it features stories from Madeline Ashby, Steven Barnes, Eileen Gunn, Ramez Naam, Carter Scholz, Karl Schroeder, and Vandana Singh, plus an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson." Read the rest

Make a plan to attend one of these nationwide Net Neutrality protests tomorrow!

Tomorrow, people across America will stand in front of Verizon stores, calling on the FCC -- whose chairman, the Neutracidal Maniac Ajit Pai, is a recovering Verizon lawyer -- is determined to rollback the Net Neutrality rules Americans cherish. Find a protest near you. Read the rest

How much energy does Bitcoin consume, and can it improve?

After Digiconomist's analysis of the total energy consumption of the Bitcoin transactions on the blockchain went viral, Timothy Lee at Ars Technica provides a much-needed reality check in the form of some technical detail and nuance about what that energy consumption means, and where it might go. Read the rest

Hanging out with Bernie Sanders: it turns out that standing FOR something is a lot more politically important than merely standing AGAINST Trump

Vice reporter Eve Peyser spent a weekend on the road with Bernie Sanders, and writes vividly and charmingly about the personal habits and behind-the-scenes homeliness of the famously non-materialistic, idealistic senator. Read the rest

A guy tricked Tripadvisor into making his garden shed the top-rated restaurant in London

Oobah Butler once had a job writing fake Tripadvisor restaurant reviews for £10/each, paid by restauranteurs; having learned how powerful these reviews were, he decided to turn his south London shed into the best-regarded restaurant in all of London. Read the rest

To build the future, we must escape the present, or, "The bullet hole misconception"

Air force pilots in WWII got shot like crazy and suffered farcical levels of fatalities; in an effort to save airmen, the Allies used statistical analysis to determine where the planes that limped home had taken flak and armored up those sections -- which totally failed to work. That's because the planes that made it home had suffered non-critical damage, so shoring up the sections where they'd been hit had virtually no effect on the rate at which flak to critical sections of the aircraft caused it to be shot out of the sky. In other words, by looking at survivors rather than the dead, they were protecting the least important parts of the planes. Read the rest

How Momentum UK learned from the Sanders Campaign to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime-Minister-in-Waiting

Back in the days of the Howard Dean campaign, it seemed that the political left had a near-monopoly on brilliant, technologically sophisticated "netroots" activists, a situation that carried over to the Obama campaigns. But by 2016, the Pepe-slinging alt-right showed that earlier right-wing cybermilitias weren't just warmed over jokes with an unhealthy appreciation for Conservapedia -- they, too, could fight effectively by forming decentralized open source insurgencies that allowed autonomous activists and groups to change the political landscape. Read the rest

Israeli firm Cyberbit illegally spied on behalf of Ethiopia's despots, then stored all their stolen data on an unencrypted, world-readable website

Researchers from the University of Toronto's amazing Citizen Lab (previously) have published a new report detailing the latest tactics from the autocratic government of Ethiopia, "the world's first turnkey surveillance state" whose human rights abuses have been entirely enabled with software and expertise purchased on the open market, largely from companies in western countries like Finfisher and Hacking Team. Read the rest

(Virtually) No one should ever own an Echo or any other "voice assistant" product

If you buy one of those intrinsically insecure, always-on "smart speakers" from Google, Amazon, Apple or other players, you're installing a constantly listening presence in your home that by design listens to every word you say, and which is very likely to suffer at least one catastrophic breach that allows hackers (possibly low-level dum-dums like the ransomware creeps who took whole hospitals hostage this year, then asked for a mere $300 to give them back because they were such penny-ante grifters) to gain access to millions of these gadgets, along with machine-learning-trained models that will help them pluck blackmail material, credit card numbers, and humiliating disclosures out of the stream of speech they're capturing. Read the rest

Treasure Islands: EU publishes a blacklist of 17 tax-havens and a long-list of runner-up tax avoidance jurisdictions

The EU's new blacklist of 17 money-laundering financial secrecy states includes South Korea, Mongolia, Namibia, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and also includes a long-list of places like Guam, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Read the rest

A grumpy cat crashes an outdoor nativity scene, making for a really funny photo

No doubt you've heard the stories about cats smothering babies where they sleep. Well, there's a tabby cat in New York City that has perpetuated that rumor in a whole new and hilarious way when it decided to sleep where baby Jesus is supposed to lie.

According to The Dodo, photographer Brooke Goldman wanted to sleep in last Sunday but instead walked her boyfriend to the train station as she had promised.

“I was pretty out of it... I was trying to get home as fast as possible to go back to sleep and wasn’t ready for the day at all.”

But then she spotted this cat quietly perched in this outdoor nativity scene's "manger" and snapped this funny shot.

Let's get a closer look at our new "lord and savior"'s face, shall we?

"Bah humbug!"

photo by Brooke Goldman

Previously: Behold the Hipster Nativity Set Read the rest

The sound of good champagne

Acoustics researchers suggest that it's possible to hear the quality of champagne just by listening to the bubbles form. According to the University of Texas scientists, "There is a well-known notion that the quality of a sparkling wine is correlated to the size of its bubbles, and we are investigating whether the bubble size distribution of a sparkling wine can be obtained from simple acoustical measurements." Many people believe that smaller bubbles mean a better taste. From Smithsonian:

To measure the sounds of wine, researchers used small hydrophones—microphones which can record underwater sounds. They poured California Brut and Moët & Chandon Imperial champagne into flutes and listened in as the bubbles formed. The results suggest that they could indeed hear the fine champagne, discerning that bubbles of this drink are slightly smaller in size, more evenly sized and have more activity than the lower-quality sparkling wine.

More here: "Pop the bubbly and hear the quality" (EurekaAlert!) Read the rest

Woman makes earring to store her two-factor authentication device

Etsy engineer Samantha Goldstein made a small wooden earring to hold her YubiKey 4 Nano, a tiny USB two-factor authentication device.

From Motherboard:

She laser cut wood and acrylic for the base, and then used sterling silver for the posts. The key slides into the base portion for safe keeping. Goldstein plans to put up a small batch for sale later this week on her Etsy store. “Between my work badge and my phone (and sometimes my computer) I’m lugging around a lot of accessories all the time,” Goldstein told me in a Twitter direct message. “I wanted a way to carry around a Yubikey but not burden myself with one more thing to carry in my hands.”

Read the rest

Sphinx head discovered in California desert

Archaeologists digging in the sand dunes of Santa Barbara County, California discovered a 300-pound sphinx head. Notably, the artifact does not date back to ancient times but is only 95-years-old. The sphinx is actually a prop from pioneering filmmaker Cecile DeMille's 1923 movie The Ten Commandments. It was part of the so-called "Lost City of DeMille," a massive Egyptian set made for the movie. From the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center:

Legend has it that after filming, it was too expensive to move and too valuable to leave for rival filmmakers to poach—so DeMille had it buried.

In the 1980s, director Peter Brosnan and a group of young filmmakers set out to find the ruins. Over 30 years later, excavations began, and have since turned up a trove of historical artifacts including an entire sphinx broken into pieces. Everyday relics—prohibition liquor bottles, makeup, and tobacco tins—have also been found, shedding light on what life was like for the cast and crew in 1923.

There's also a recent documentary on the subject, titled "The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille." (Hollywood Reporter)

Read the rest

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