Trump's stupid #FakeNewsAwards site crashes right after President Herp Derp tweets about it

Nope, definitely not a sign from the angry gods.

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If Aubrey de Grey is right, you could live forever

I first met Aubrey de Grey over ten years ago, when he presented at a conference I attended. And his core message blew my mind. It was -- and remains -- that it should soon lie within technology’s reach to eliminate the scourge of human aging. Not merely to arrest it -- but even to reverse it. We discuss all of this and more right here:

People have been making these sorts of claims from time immemorial. But they usually have a service, some goop, or a religion to sell, and Aubrey’s peddling none of the above. The charlatans also typically lack Aubrey’s professional validation -- which include a Cambridge Ph.D, any number of academic publications, and dozens of scientists pursuing his agenda with full or partial funding from the organization that he founded and runs.

Aubrey is charmingly indignant about the lack of urgency most of humanity has about ending aging. He attributes this to a mindset he calls the “Pro-aging Trance,” which we discuss in detail at the start of our interview. Its roots include the instinctive conviction most of us have that death and mortality are immutable realities. To which Aubrey would reply that many instinctive convictions -- such as belief in an Earth-centered universe, or the impossibility of human flight -- have gone the way of the dodo bird. And he would of course add that there’s no reason for us to go that way ourselves.

Aubrey maintains that while life itself is -- for now -- unfathomably complex, as are most disease states, virtually everything that causes us to age and die stems from seven discrete categories of damage, which steadily accrue throughout our lives. Read the rest

Drunk droning is now against the law in New Jersey

As of Monday, there is a new kind of "DUI" in New Jersey: Droning Under the Influence. On his final day of being New Jersey's (incredibly unpopular) governor, Chris Christie signed a law making it illegal to fly an unmanned drone aircraft drunk or under the influence of drugs.

Reuters reports:

The law prohibits flying a drone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, the same as for driving a vehicle, or while drugged. Violators face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. The measure, which passed the Democratic-controlled state legislature earlier this month, also bars flying a drone near a prison or in pursuit of wildlife. The drone measure was among 109 bills that Christie signed into law on his last full day in office, spokesman Brian Murray said by email. Christie’s successor, Democrat Phil Murphy, is to be sworn in on Tuesday.

photo by Andrew Turner Read the rest

Watch: speedboat driver rams into small boat with three passengers

Three salmon fishers had to leap out of their small craft to avoid being rammed by a speedboat that nearly killed them. The speedboat driver, Marlin Lee Larsen (75), said he couldn't see the little boat because he was sitting down and the front of his boat was blocking his view. One of the fisherman is suing the speedboat driver for over $350,000.

From SF Gate:

Larsen's son-in-law, who also was on the boat, told investigators that he had warned his father-in-law to pay attention, that he sometimes sees his father-in-law using his cell phone while driving the boat and that his father-in-law had been off-and-on his cell phone the morning of the crash, according to the sheriff's report.

Although Oregon law heavily restricts cell phone use while driving, there are no such specific laws governing boating. But it is against the law to operate a boat without due care.

Life imitates art: Read the rest

Bruce Lee, now with lightsabers

Inspired by this artwork depicting Bruce Lee with lightsaber nunchucks, artist Patrick Nan of San Jose, California decided to add some light-weapons to the karate master's 1972 Fist of Fury. It's a cool effect!

(The Awesomer) Read the rest

The war over apostrophes in Kazakhstan's new alphabet

There's a fascinating linguistic fight brewing in Kazakhstan, due to the president's decision to adopt a new alphabet for writing their language, Kazakh.

The problem? It's got too many apostrophes!

For decades, Kazakhs have used the Cyrillic alphabet, which was imposed on them by the USSR back in the 30s. Now that Kazakhstan has started moving away from Russia -- including making Kazakh more central in education and public life -- the president decided he wanted to adopt a new alphabet, too. He wanted it based on the Latin one.

But! Kazakh has many unique sounds that can't be easily denoted using a Latin-style alphabet.

Kazakhstan's neighbors solved that problem by following the example of Turkey, where they use umlauts and phonetic symbols. But Kazkhstan's president didn't want that -- and instead has pushed for the use of tons of apostrophes instead.

Kazakhstan's linguists intellectuals think this is nuts, as the New York Times reports:

The Republic of Kazakhstan, for example, will be written in Kazakh as Qazaqstan Respy’bli’kasy. Others complained the use of apostrophes will make it impossible to do Google searches for many Kazakh words or to create hashtags on Twitter. “Nobody knows where he got this terrible idea from,” said Timur Kocaoglu, a professor of international relations and Turkish studies at Michigan State, who visited Kazakhstan last year. “Kazakh intellectuals are all laughing and asking: How can you read anything written like this?” The proposed script, he said, “makes your eyes hurt.” [snip] Under this new system, the Kazakh word for cherry will be written as s’i’i’e, and pronounced she-ee-ye.
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Retro wall clock for $8

This cheerful battery powered wall clock is 9.5 inches in diameter. I got one for our kitchen. It's only $8 on Amazon. Read the rest

Watch 'The Lyft Rapper' co-create music with his passengers

Shakespeare wrote that "All the world's a stage." But for Oakland, California-based Ashel Eldridge, he's made his car his stage. Dubbed "The Lyft Rapper," he invites his passengers to choose a topic and style of song and he'll make up a song about it on the spot.

KQED Arts writes:

Elridge, who also goes by the emcee name Seasunz, says his mission is to elevate the consciousness of his community by helping people understand the forces that may be manipulating them.

His passengers say they’re startled at first when their Lyft driver begins rapping to them. But after the song, they admit the Lyft Rapper has turned a typically mundane trip into an unforgettable experience.

Here's his most recent video:

Yes, he has his passengers sign releases. And no, I don't believe he's sponsored in any way by Lyft. Read the rest

The place of gin in Orwell's 1984

One of the few permitted vices in Nineteen Eighty-Four is Victory Gin, which oils the outer party and offers suggestions of Englishness and party power: it's always served with clove bitters, implying that Oceania's boots are on the ground in Asia. Chemistry professor Shirley Lin wrote an interesting post about gin's place in Orwell's dystopia.

In the last paragraph of the book, Winston’s tears at the end of the book are also “gin-scented” (page 297). While I was unable to find any studies examining the presence of alcohol in human tears, ethanol in the sweat of continuous drinkers has been detected and quantified.

I always figured that Victory Gin is just watered-down random-grain alcohol and that the "saccharine flavoured with cloves, the speciality of the cafe," is turps. Bottoms up! Read the rest

This is how you rescue a dog who is trapped in a frozen river

Bravo to the skilled rescuer who freed this dog who was stuck in a frozen river.

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Google's former design ethicist says to change your phone screen to grayscale

Tristan Harris a former "design ethicist" at Google, says today's candy colored interfaces are addictive. One way to make your phone less appealing, it to make the display grayscale.

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LA sheriff deputy sad that his drug-dealing side business was spoiled by FBI bust

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Collins was arrested by the FBI this week for allegedly supplying security for drug dealers.

From KTLA 5:

Kenneth Collins, a 15-year veteran of the department, and three other men were arrested by undercover FBI agents after they arrived in Pasadena to provide security for the transport of dozens of pounds of drugs — nearly 45 pounds of cocaine and more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

From Reason:

The allegations against Collins illustrate a fundamental flaw in government prohibition: Where sufficient demand exists for a prohibited good or service, there will be incentives to elude law enforcement—and law enforcement officers are not themselves exempt from such incentives. For them, in fact, the incentives can be more powerful, given the ways police work is shielded from accountability. Civil service protections and union contract provisions have ensured that many departments are unable to discipline unscrupulous officers appropriately.

In 2016, the most recent year available on the OpenGovUS project, Collins' salary was reported as $130,145, plus $54,000 worth of benefits. The salary includes a base of $102,226, plus nearly $20,000 in overtime, $5,000 in "other earnings," including shift pay, allowances, and bonuses, and $3,000 in "leave time payouts." His earnings were more than three times the median salary in Los Angeles County.

From Pasadena Star News:

According to Tuesday’s indictment, Collins spoke at length during recorded conversations about his extensive drug trafficking network, his past criminal conduct and his willingness to accept bribes in exchange for using his badge to help criminals.

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Facebook harmed America and is ‘living, breathing crime scene’ over 2016 U.S. election, insiders say

“Making you angry, making you afraid, is really good for Facebook's business. It is not good for America.”

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Clintons confess, Obama to blame, and Trump triumphs in this week’s tabloids

The White House Press Office in Exile, otherwise known as the tabloids, is in full Trump-boosting, Clinton-bashing, Obama-blaming mode this week.

The president, who has previously lamented the injustice of the National Enquirer being deprived of the Pulitzer Prize it so richly deserves, should be pleased with the rag’s immolation of Michael Wolff’s political bestseller Fire and Fury, with a cover headline branding it a “Book of Lies!”

“Staffers think prez is dumb. FALSE!” screams the Enquirer's front page. “His ego is out of control. FALSE! He’s hated by his own family. FALSE!”

Not satisfied with demolishing Wolff’s reporting, the Enquirer claims that the book is part of an attack on Trump “orchestrated by Puppet Master-in-Chief Barack Obama!” Wolff is “part of the Obama hit team” chosen by America's last president to undermine Trump, claims the magazine. And to prove its point, the Enquirer sent audio and video tapes of Wolff for stress analysis, and concluded “Michael Wolff is lying throughout.” Well, you can’t argue with science.

Sister publication the Globe dances like it’s 2016 all over again, with its cover story about Bill and Hillary Clinton's alleged "$365 million bribery scandal” at the Clinton Foundation under the headline: "We’re Guilty!" Inside, the story reveals: “Crooked Clintons Confess!"

But it’s not just Bill & Hill freely admitting their life of lies – “Trump nails Clinton confession,” the Globe crows. Did Trump grill the Clintons in interrogation rooms under bright lights? Hardly.

As the FBI mounts a new probe into possible pay-to-play politics by the Clintons and their Foundation, the Globe claims that the Clintons sought a plea deal to make the whole ugly business go away – and that Trump ordered the Justice Department to make no sweetheart deals, “making good on his promise to lock up the crooked Clintons.”

Two quick points: (1) discussing a plea deal is far from a confession, and (2) since the probe is only days old it’s unlikely that the Clintons would consider a plea deal before knowing whether the investigation has even dug up any incriminating evidence. Read the rest

Why the siren of the Starbucks logo is slightly asymmetrical

The designers of the Starbucks logo decided that making the siren's face slightly asymmetrical gave her the right mix of mystery and allure.

From Co. Design:

“As a team we were like, ‘There’s something not working here, what is it?'” recounts global creative director Connie Birdsall. “It was like, ‘Oh, we need to step back and put some of that humanity back in. The imperfection was important to making her really successful as a mark.”

Specifically, Lippincott realized that to look human, the Siren couldn’t be symmetrical, despite the fact that symmetry is the well-studied definition of human beauty. She had to be asymmetrical. Can you see it now that you know? Look closely at her eyes. Do you notice how her nose dips lower on the right than the left? That was the fix of just a few pixels that made the Siren work.

“In the end, just for the face part of the drawing, there’s a slight asymmetry to it. It has a bit more shadow on the right side of the face,” says design partner Bogdan Geana. “It felt a bit more human, and felt less like a perfectly cut mask.”

[Photo: courtesy Lippincott] Read the rest

Luke did not need a god damn beard trimmer

The force prefers nearly trimmed facial hair, according to this Norelco line of Star Wars shavers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi shared my perfect idea of a Jedi: Luke living on a windswept cliff over the sea, wearing comfortable robes and to hell with beautycare. Cranky old failed Jedi have bushy beards. R2D2 never had a beard trimmer attachment.

Now that Finn is out of the storm trooper helmet and has paid a visit to Maz' funky club, maybe'll give us some great 70s action hero hair! If this trimmer is anything like a Storm trooper, it'll miss all the hair anyways.

Who is the person who really wants a Snokes-personal-guard-themed beard trimmer? What is wrong with them? Kylo can't even grow one!

Is there an Ewok sculpting attachment?

Poe Dameron is a war criminal. Dameron did more to kill the Rebellion/Resistance than Palpatine and Vader combined.

Am I the only person who remembers General Jan Dodanna's awesome hair?

Obi-Wan Kenobi had the best beard in all of Star Wars. Read the rest

Jeff Flake slams Trump: "An American president who can't take charting a very dangerous path"

Wow, Sen. Jeff Flake had some powerful words to say against Donald Trump and his disregard for the truth today on the Senate floor. Some of the highlights:

"An American president who cannot take criticism – who must constantly deflect and distort and distract – who must find someone else to blame – is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to the danger."

"2017 was a year which saw the truth, objective empirical evidence-based truth more battered and abused than at any time in the history of our country at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the white house enshrine 'alternative facts' into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be called old fashioned falsehoods.

"Mr President, it is a testament to our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies," Flake said. "It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."

"For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, Mr. President, our democracy will not last."

Flake will not be running for re-election in 2018, which gives him, a Republican, the freedom to speak out against Trump's bullshit. Read the rest

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