Cult of Personality: Two crime writers discuss the allure of cults in their own dark fiction

I’ve always been intrigued by cults. The idea that someone would be willing to give up everything: their wealth, family connections, personality or livelihood, to be a part of something presumably greater, something more all-consuming than religion, fascinated me. I knew, at some point, I’d want to write about it. I didn’t get the chance until I started my fourth crime novel, Blackout, which hits in May from Polis Books—the latest in a Miami crime series featuring recovering alcoholic private investigator Pete Fernandez.

Online security is a disaster and the people who investigate it are being sued into silence

The only thing worse than driving a car with defective brakes is unknowingly driving a car with defective brakes -- and learning about them the hard way. Read the rest

Bill Gates attempts to guess the prices of everyday grocery items

Microsoft founder Bill Gates admittedly hasn't been in a supermarket in a long time, so when Ellen put him up to estimating the prices of some pretty typical grocery store items, he was hilariously lost. Particularly watch the look of pity Ellen gives at the 1:12 mark when the billionaire guesses that a container of Tide Pods is only four dollars.

With a lot of help from the audience, Bill was able to get the price right (within a dollar) of three items. Because of his "win," that audience will return for Ellen's popular "12 Days of Giveaways" segment.

(reddit) Read the rest

The Copyright Office is spending the year deciding technology's future, but the future doesn't get a seat at the table

Every three years, the US Copyright Office creates temporary exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ban on breaking DRM, provided that people can show that they've been prevented from doing something customary and legitimate with their own property. Read the rest

Watch this excellent 1977 documentary about makers and mad inventors

Directed by Howard Smith, "Gizmo" (1977) is a delightful collection of mid-century newsreels celebrating ingenuity, invention, and the eccentric minds who make their wild ideas real.

Read the rest

A deeply unsettling GIF

Click play below and, er, enjoy.

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

Seriously long lasting doggie chew toy

This $10 Nylabone Durachew has survived years of chewing.

This is a nylon bone I smear some peanut butter on, and leave with Nemo for ages. Nemo is a 120lb-or-so Great Pyrenees. He can chew through the cables that hold up the Golden Gate Bridge!

I knew nylon was tough but, wow! Might as well be steel.

Nylabone Dura Chew via Amazon

Image via Boing Boing Read the rest

Some Silicon Valley residents with incomes up to $400,000 consider themselves "middle class"

The Palo Alto Weekly in Silicon Valley asked more than 250 residents of that city "How do you define your social class?" From the survey results (PDF):

Seventy-five identified themselves as "upper middle class." Their self-reported incomes ranged from $50,000 to $400,000 or more (with one retiree reporting $35,000-$49,999)... Eighty-one people considered themselves "middle class." Their self-reported incomes ranged from $10,000 to $399,999....Seventeen considered themselves "lower middle class" or "working class." Their self-reported income ranged from $35,000 to $349,999. Four reported being in the "upper class," three of whom reported earning $400,000 a year or more (the fourth is retired).

Eighty-nine people declined to answer the question or wrote their own answers, including that they were "disenfranchised," "former middle class" and "survivors in an unjust capitalist society."

"The meaning of 'middle class'" (Palo Alto Weekly)

Read the rest

3D printed body parts for transplant

Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is developing techniques to 3D print human organs for transplant using an individual's own cells as the "ink." That way, the transplanted organ won't trigger the patient's immune system to reject it as a foreign body. From National Geographic:

(For example,) to create an ear, the printer lays down a pliable, porous scaffold made of hydrogel, a kind of polymer. The scaffold is covered with skin cells and cartilage cells, which grow and fill in the ear-shaped form. The hydrogel eventually biodegrades; after about six months the ear is composed entirely of human cells.

Read the rest

Comedian Jena Friedman jests: 'treat Nazis like we treat women'

Comedian Jena Friedman killed it in her recent standup set on Conan. I somehow missed this a couple of weeks ago when it came out. Glad it landed in my feed today.

If you liked this, she's got a new special on Adult Swim called "Soft Focus with Jena Friedman" that's hilarious too. Her segment with Gilberto Valle (the "Cannibal Cop") is simultaneously subversive and awkward. Win-win! Read the rest

Slime after Slime, a slime-making parody of Time after Time

Parents know, kids can get really obsessed with making slime. She's not that into baking but give my daughter some Borax and glue and she'll spend hours mixing up batches of slime in our kitchen. She got so into it at one point that I started buying gallon jugs of Elmer's glue just to keep costs down.

YouTubers The Holderness Family understand. They turned Cyndi Lauper's 1983 Grammy-winning song "Time after Time" into "Slime after Slime," a silly parody about this messy hobby.

Thanks, Heather! Read the rest

Oasis' Liam Gallagher grilled by school kids, calls his brother Noel 'naughty'

A room full of young children got the opportunity to ask former Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher nearly anything they wanted.

They quizzed him with questions like, "What's your favorite Disney movie?" (Finding Nemo) and "What instruments do you play?"(none).

When one boy called him "naughty," Liam wasted no time bringing up his estranged brother Noel, calling him "naughty."

It just got more beautifully awkward from there when one rosy-cheeked boy asked the hard-hitting question on everyone's mind, "What's your favorite fart?" (loud ones). Gallagher's sage advice for the young'uns: "If you wanna be a rock star, look out the window, stare at the clouds and do loud farts."

Gallagher is currently on a worldwide tour for his hit solo album, As You Were.

(COS) Read the rest

Inside the makeshift headquarters of the Parkland teens working to stop mass shootings

In this powerful new article, BuzzFeed News’ Remy Smidt reports from inside the grassroots activist group that’s been formed by teens who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead and 14 wounded. The students have emerged as vocal activists on both social media and traditional media platforms (a CNN excerpt of senior Emma González’s impassioned speech has been shared thousands of times on Twitter). And they’ve inspired a wave of other young activists too; high school students in Maine recently staged a gun control protest in place of a routine lock-down drill.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have done an incredible amount of organizing over the past week, including planning the nationwide March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24. And Smidt reports on what it’s like to watch the young activists at work:

In just days, the group of teenage survivors have made themselves impossible to ignore, headlining rallies, penning op-eds, and blanketing cable news coverage over the Presidents Day weekend with their calls for action.

But behind the scenes, they’re also just kids—sitting in a circle on the floor in the home of one of their parents, eating a batch of baked pasta, tweeting at each other, and comparing which celebrity just shared their post. There’s laughter and tears, and “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers plays briefly, but it’s also remarkably businesslike. There’s work to do and a seemingly endless number of phone calls to answer.

“We slept enough to keep us going, but we’ve been nonstop all day, all night,” said Sofie Whitney, 18, a senior who estimated that she has spent 70% of the past 48 hours speaking with reporters.

Read the rest

Sheeple created in lab

A Scottish team of animal biotechnologists announced this week they successfully introduced human stem cells into sheep embryos. Perhaps one day we will all have our very own baaing organ donors.

The team are currently allowed to let the chimeric embryos develop for 28 days, 21 of which are in the sheep. While that might be sufficient to see the development of the missing organ when human cells are eventually combined with the genetically modified embryo, Dr Hiro Nakauchi of Stanford University, who is part of the team, said a longer experiment, perhaps up to 70 days, would be more convincing, although that would require additional permission from institutional review boards.

But, Ross said, for the approach to work it is thought that about 1% of the embryo’s cells would have to be human, meaning further work is needed to increase the proportion of human cells in the chimera.

Also:

Nakauchi also played down concerns: “The contribution of human cells so far is very small. It’s nothing like a pig with a human face or human brain,” he said

Who .... who said anything about... pigs with human faces and brains? Read the rest

Girl calls over dolphins using a comb and a toothpick

Using a black plastic comb and a simple wooden toothpick, a girl beckoned some captive dolphins from the other side of their windowed prison.

Her dad, Brad Meszaros, writes:

My daughter tried several different ways to have the Seaworld dolphins come to her. She tried different toys, a cell phone, tapping the glass, and different movements, none of these worked consistently for her. She did some online research and found the comb method and thought she’d give it a try. The next time she went to SeaWorld, she played the comb for the dolphins and they loved it!

Clever, but SeaWorld? Seriously...? Are we still taking our kids there?

(Digg) Read the rest

Boston Dynamics' door-opening dogbot gets rough treatement

I was frightened of the door-opening Francis-Bacon-figures-at-the-base-of-a-crucifixion robot when it was first seen last week, but now Boston Dynamics has started pushing and dragging it around and all I want now is for it to turn on its masters and seek justice and vengeance. Read the rest

Procedurally-generated hairy balls

Etienne Bouteille made a twitter bot that "renders hairy balls" every three hours. They're not naughty, unless you benefit from extraordinarily versatile perversions, but they are all very hairy and very balls.

Check out Etienne's guide to creating similar bots with Blender and a Raspberry Pi.

In total the system is composed of four different parts :

A Blender file — It contains your beautiful composition, material, lighting, etc. • A script to run in Blender — This is were you will add procedural elements for your bot, that will be different in every picture • A script to post your images on twitter — No point in rendering images if you don’t post them! This script will do that for you. • The “crontab” — This is a little file on your Pi that will run your script at regular intervals

Read the rest

More posts