Legendary singer/songwriter, John Prine, has died from COVID-19

We are sad to report that, according to John Prine's family, he has finally succumbed to the COVID-19 virus that he'd been battling for the past nine days. Rolling Stone writes of Prine's career:

As a songwriter, Prine was admired by Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, and others, known for his ability to mine seemingly ordinary experiences — he wrote many of his classics as a mailman in Maywood, Illinois — for revelatory songs that covered the full spectrum of the human experience. There’s “Hello in There,” about the devastating loneliness of an elderly couple; “Sam Stone,” a portrait of a drug-addicted Vietnam soldier suffering from PTSD; and “Paradise,” an ode to his parents’ strip-mined hometown of Paradise, Kentucky, which became an environmental anthem. Prine tackled these subjects with empathy and humor, with an eye for “the in-between spaces,” the moments people don’t talk about, he told Rolling Stone in 2017. “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” Dylan said in 2009. “Midwestern mind-trips to the nth degree.”

We say goodbye to this great American songwriter with this performance of "Angel from Montgomery," recorded for Austin City Limits, in 2018.

Fly, Mr. Prine. Fly.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

The Kitchen Cube might just bring you back to cooking again

While all the downsides of stay-at-home orders and social distancing are evident, there are at least a few small silver linings to come out of all this. For many, this time spent indoors has meant a happy reintroduction to your very own kitchen.

You know your kitchen. It’s usually the place that holds all your leftovers. And it’s where the oven lives, the appliance that handles all your one-step frozen dinner heat-ups.

Of course, that’s not really cooking, is it? But for as long as we’re sticking close to home, it’s a great opportunity to try some culinary explorations we may never have attempted overwise. Cooking for real means ingredients and measurements and likely a cascade of spoons and measuring cups to get it right.

However, reinvigorated cooks can now ditch all of those extra utensils and containers for simplified ease of The Kitchen Cube All-in-One Measuring Device.

At first glance, it almost looks like a basic toddler toy, just a 3.5-inch plastic block. But this single instrument is actually an all-purpose gadget to handle up to 19 different US and metric measurements in seconds. From cups to tablespoons to milliliters of virtually all cooking sizes, the Kitchen Cube’s got you covered.

Just flip the cube to your preferred measurement, pour in your ingredient to the fill point, and dump. It’s stunningly simple, yet this basic cube just eliminated the need for all those other measuring spoons and cups that clutter your drawers and countertops and seem to end up everywhere while you’re trying to cook. Read the rest

What do we hear when we dream?

While people talk a lot about what they see in their dreams, and the visual language of dreams is well-studied by psychologists, what we hear when dreaming is rarely discussed or scientifically explored. Recently though, researchers at Norway's Vestre Viken Hospital Trust and the University of Bergen conducted a small study to quantify the auditory experience of dreamers. Why? Because they wanted to "assess the relevance of dreaming as a model for psychosis." Throughout history, they write, psychologists have considered dreamstates to be a model for psychosis, yet people experiencing psychosis usually suffer from auditory hallucinations far more than visual ones. Basically, what the researchers determined is that the reason so little is known about auditory sensations while dreaming is because, well, nobody asks what people's dreams sound like. From their scientific paper in PLOS ONE:

The participants reported auditory impressions in 93.9% of their dreams on average. The most prevalent auditory type was other people speaking (83.9% of participants’ dreams), followed by the dreamer speaking (60.0%), and other types of sounds (e.g. music, 33.1%). Of altogether 407 instances of auditory impressions in the 130 dreams, auditory quality was judged comparable to waking in 46.4%, indeterminate in 50.6%, and absent or only thought-like in 2.9%....

The internal generation of auditory sensations, most notably of speech, may be a typical, integrated characteristic of dreaming. The findings on auditory impressions in dreams contribute to making clear the comparative phenomenology that models of common underlying mechanisms in dreaming and psychosis must account for.

Read the rest

Gentleman punishes recalcitrant bicycle

I’m glad this silly bike took what it deserved from r/IdiotsFightingThings

This grim fellow has no patience for machines that aim to make sport of him. As a bonus, he almost removes a pedestrian's ear with the trusty machete he keeps in a sheath to inflict well-deserved punishment on his disobedient velocipede. Read the rest

DC Comics offers free virtual backgrounds for Zoom conferencing

DC has made images of a number of iconic comic book locations available for use as virtual backgrounds for Zoom and other video conferencing services.

"Whether it's for work, school or just keeping in touch with your friends, you've likely found yourself video chatting with a lot of people over the past couple of weeks. After all, it's a great way to stay connected in this time of social distancing," the DC press release reads. "But why take video calls from your living room or bedroom when you could take them from the Batcave, the Fortress of Solitude, Themyscira, or the Hall of Justice?"

Read the rest on Bleeding Cool.

[H/t Bruce Dykes]

Image: Fortress of Solitude virtual backdrop from DC Comics Read the rest

Jimmy DiResta builds a stool with steel finger joints

Jimmy DiResta was sitting on a plane, looking at his clasped hands, when he wondered if he could possibly create a joint that worked on a similar principle of interleaving fingers clasping two pieces of material together. The result of that inspiration is this steel stool connected together by CNC-cut finger joints.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

With EraseCOVID, artists and designers have created cool Public Safety Art

EraseCOVID is what happens when creative folks work together for the greater good. A fantastic gang of artists and designers (including Ruben Bolling) have joined forces to create some really terrific "Public Safety Art," which is all available to purchase as posters, greeting cards, and more! Proceeds benefit chosen charity MusiCares, the artists, and the ongoing work of EraseCOVID.

The art is aces — I've already spent $50 there today. One awesome thing to note: If you buy a "single poster set" ($30), you actually get TEN posters! They encourage you to share.

Thanks, Tweedlebop! Read the rest

Watch: Social psychology for kids

I've been enjoying this new YouTube series that Dan Shapiro (Glowforge founder) and Ari Shapiro (NPR) have created to help kids learn at home. In this episode, we hear from Dr. Philip Costanzo, Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, who teaches Dan's twins "about social psychology, peer pressure, how kids' attitudes develop, and psychology experiments you'd never believe." Read the rest

Tonight is a supermoon, the largest full Moon this year

Tonight's full Moon is a "Pink Moon" aka "Passover Moon" aka "Paschal Moon" aka "Hanuman Jayanti" aka supermoon, the largest full moon of 2020. From NASA:

The term "supermoon" was coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and refers to either a new or full Moon that occurs within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. Under this definition, in a typical year there can be 3 or 4 full Supermoons in a row and (about half a year apart) 3 or 4 new Supermoons in a row. In practice, what catches the public's attention are the full Moons that appear biggest and brightest each year. For 2020, the four full Moons from February to May meet this 90% threshold, with the full Moons in March and April nearly tied in size and brightness. This full Moon will be slightly closer to the Earth (about 0.1%) than the March full Moon was, so this will be the "most super" of the full supermoons this year.

image: NASA/Bill Dunford Read the rest

More reporting links Clearview AI to Trump-aligned racists, neo-Nazis, and alt-right trolls

“Big Brother, it turned out, was wearing a MAGA cap”

Federal judge rejects R. Kelly’s coronavirus get out of jail request

A federal judge in New York on Tuesday denied a request that accused serial sexual abuser R. Kelly be released from jail, rejecting claims by his lawyers that he is at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Read the rest

Boris Johnson stays in Intensive Care for night 2, UK PM hospitalized for coronavirus

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, will be staying in a London hospital's intensive care unit for the second night in a row, officials tell various news reporters late Tuesday U.S. time. Read the rest

Trump lies that Ivanka 'created over 15 million jobs'

She did not.

Wyoming the last U.S. state with no Covid-19 deaths yet reported

According to the latest figures from NBC News, Wyoming is the only U.S. state or territory not to have marked a single death from Covid-19.

... the White House’s best-picture scenario of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths ... predicts the U.S. will hit a peak death rate of more than 2,000 deaths per day in mid-April. President Donald Trump warned that this week in particular would be the "toughest."

Finland has a number of deaths, but had an even better day than Wyoming yesterday, tallying "-1" deaths. "Es beginnt", writes Marina Weisband

Read the rest

Get all the Photoshop and Lightroom training you need to create glorious images

Have you ever had more time to hone in on fine details than right now? Sure, at first glance, this might not seem like the time to get tripped up on the nitty-gritty of minutia. But how often are you ever going to have this much time to really stop and think about hows and whys and make a truly informed, truly considered decision about anything?

Like which Adobe photo editing app do you need, Photoshop or Lightroom?

The debate has raged for years — but since they’re both hugely popular with their own idiosyncratic skill sets, now’s the time to be a real imaging expert in both with the training in The Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for Beginner Designers Bundle.

The collection spans nine courses over 27 hours of instruction, all coming from one trusted authority you can count on to explain these elite apps. In fact, Marcin Mikus has legions of former students endorsing his curriculum, notching a 4.3-out-of-5 star rating for over 250,000 reviewers.

While both Adobe programs get plenty of attention here, the lion’s share of your training will naturally fall on learning Photoshop, the undisputed king of image editing software. Mikus’ beginner-friendly coursework will get you familiar with all the app’s basic controls, then get you started working on a batch of projects to hone your skills, including retouching landscapes and adjusting portraits.

Once you’re up and running with Photoshop, various courses focus in on more specific, yet highly useful training practice, helping students work with layers, curves and masks as well as LUT color fixes. Read the rest

Hear E.E. Cummings Read "anyone lived in a pretty how town" and Paul Krassner Recalls: "The Day I Met Lenny Bruce!"


Spoken Word with Electronics is an audio series delivering to you a two side recording of unusual stories paired with vintage modular electronic sounds



Episode #4: "To Forget to Remember"

Welcome back to Spoken Word with Electronics. I hope this week has gone well for you, all things considered. Here's some audio theater:

This week we lead off with an uncommon recording of E.E.Cummings. One of my favorite poems of his is anyone lived in a pretty how town. It was first published in 1940 and has some interesting resonance today. He has a beautiful speaking voice, which surprised me, a blend of Oscar Wilde with Truman Capote, just with no capital letters. (E.E.'s name was often capitalized, unlike his poems)

Here's the track:

Side A: E.E. Cummings Reads 'anyone lived in a pretty how town' — with a Yamaha Loop and a Metasonix R55 VCO

Music for this track is a blend of a few things, but primarily a loop from a Yamaha Reface CP (GREAT FUN) along with other yamaha-based loops recorded over the last few years, and a Metasonix Voltage Controlled Oscillator, specifically the R55. The R55 (and its current version, the RK7) is based on a very unpredictable thyratron tube and is a wonderfully unpredictable source of noise and completely unique. It's not unlike a tesla coil with sound. You can hear it floating through this isolated track at a gentle dissipating scrape about halfway through. Plugging an LFO into its VCA can produce a wonderful snoring sound; this is audible in the ending third of the track. Read the rest

Astonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life

I came across Astonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life when I took my kids to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in 2009 and found it in the gift store. It was written by philosopher Roger-Pol Droit, a researcher at the Centre de Recherche Scientifique and, as the title indicates, contains 101 mental and perceptual exercises you can perform on yourself.

In his introduction, Droit says the purpose of the experiments is to "provoke tiny moments of awareness," and to "shake a certainty we had taken for granted: our own identity, say, or the stability of the outside world, or even the meanings of words." Most of the experiments require about 20 minutes or less to complete, and often involve nothing more than merely thinking about something.

Some of the experiments you'll probably want to try when you are alone at home (like calling your name repeatedly for 20 minutes, or repeating some other word to drain it of its meaning), but others can be performed anywhere (like imagining that the world was "created from nothing, just an instant ago" and will vanish "like a light going out" in 20 minutes).

Some of the experiments you can't really plan in advance; they'll happen by accident, like when you wake up without knowing where you are -- a magical experience I love having, but Droit explains how to make the best use of this five-second-long "delicious lightness of a mystery without menace" the next time it happens: "What you do not know, for a tiny interval of time, is what the place is called, where it is, and you you are doing there. Read the rest

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