How a Black woman turned quilting into a surprisingly radical art form

The New York Times has a fascinating new article about the life and work of Rosie Lee Tompkins, whose stunning quilting art is currently the subject of a retrospective exhibit (online, and in person) at the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.

I certainly hadn't heard of Tompkins before this. Nor had I given much thought to quilting as a modern art form, let alone a radical one. Sure, I'd seen centuries-old craftwork on display in museums. But, as I learned from the Times article, Tompkins work was a uniquely American expression — a predecessor in a way to the remix culture that would later lead to the development of hip-hop. Sometimes, you have to use whatever materials are available to you, and transform them in ways that can (hopefully) fulfill both practical and artistic purposes. And that's exactly what Tompkins did:

Tompkins was an inventive colorist whose generous use of black added to the gravity of her efforts. She worked in several styles and all kinds of fabrics, using velvets — printed, panne, crushed — to gorgeous effect, in ways that rivaled oil paint. But she was also adept with denim, faux furs, distressed T-shirts and fabrics printed with the faces of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Magic Johnson.

A typical Tompkins quilt had an original, irresistible aliveness. One of her narrative works was 14 feet across, the size of small billboard. It appropriated whole dish towels printed with folkloric scenes, parts of a feed sack, and, most prominently, bright bold chunks of the American flag.

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Here’s your Father’s Day Gift you better choose wisely

Father’s Day is June 21st, otherwise known as the roughest shopping day of the year. Don’t get us wrong, Dad deserves an awesome gift for all the great things he gave you. But let’s be honest — buying for your father is often a chore. 

Your gift has to take into account what he already has, what he wants, what he’ll use, and what will actually elicit a smile. And if it also sends the message that he was a pretty great Dad and you feel lucky to have him...well, that’s bonus points.

To help streamline the process, we’ve assembled 40 cool Father’s Day ideas into this handy gift guide. And on top of that, you can also get an additional 15 percent off when you use the code GIFTFORDAD15 during checkout. On top of the fun gift, he’ll also give you props for being smart.

And a hint to all you dads out there — send this link to your kids with a couple of helpful suggestions. They’ll appreciate your usual well-reasoned guidance. As always.

For the well-groomed Dad Popeye Shaving Gift Set - $42.49 after discount; originally $61.99


It’s a collection worthy of The Sailor Man himself, a three-step shave regimen of pre-shave oil, shave cream, and a post-shave lotion that’ll clean up the scruffiest of sea dogs. Well, blow me down!

Brutus Beard Company 3-Piece Gift Set - $33.99 after discount; originally $50.99

The beard deserves all the treatment Dad gives the hair on his head, so this all-natural, chemical-free assortment featuring a 3-in-1 beard wash cleaner, a beard balm conditioner and some beard oil to maintain a manly mane that holds, feels soft and looks well-groomed. Read the rest

The Snapback Glove may look like a mitten on a string, but it can protect you from harmful germs

Even though life is emerging following our COVID-19 lockdown, it’s not exactly time to celebrate defeating the insidious virus just yet. CDC officials warn that once a resurgence of the virus hits this winter, it could prove even more disastrous for the U.S. healthcare system than the opening salvo. That would follow the pattern suffered by America during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, which infected 500 million people worldwide; or one-third of the world’s population.

Whether it’s coronavirus or another harmful disease, germs and infection possibilities are a fact of life now. With everyone trying to take precautions to better protect themselves and their families, items like the Snapback Glove make a solid first line of defense from harmful disease.

And the concept behind the Snapback Glove is unmistakably simple. This glove easily clips to your belt or pants and, just like an oven mitt removing hot food from the stove, it’s conveniently ready whenever you need to pick up an object, press buttons, sign a receipt or open a door.

The Snapback Glove is made using proprietary WaveStopper fabric with 70 percent SilverFlex fibers to be entirely antiviral and antimicrobial. Quickly slip in on from its perch at your belt whenever you have to deal with any potentially infectious situation, then whip it off as the retractable reels automatically snap the glove back into place. Positioned correctly, you’ll never even have to touch the glove itself, even when you put it on.

While nothing can be 100 percent effective against the spread of germs, using something like the Snapback Glove can cut exposure threats exponentially during trips to the grocery store, gas station or any other public location or when you’re using public transportation.   Read the rest

Complete genome of SARS-CoV-2

Here is the complete genome of SARS-CoV-2, specifically the Wuhan-Hi-1 isolate (there are many to pick from). So little information, so much trouble!

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Are you "medium busy" with various sundry computer-related tasks?

This humorous scene presents a beautiful fractal of American office life. The soup of politeness, defensiveness, misaligned expectations and incentives, barely-suppressed self-loathing and rage, and bullshit? Surely recognizable to anyone who ever sank into the trance of Medium Busy—or the the ludic loop for which it is a euphemism. Read the rest

The CleanKey cuts your exposure to infected surfaces by opening doors and pressing buttons for you

We all know it’s a different world out there now than the one where we made New Year’s resolutions and waited for the end of winter just a few months ago. If you weren’t a germaphobe then, it’s likely the onset of COVID-19 has at least made you much more conscious of the spread of dangerous germs and other bacterial contaminants that live in the world around us every day.

And if we’re all being’s probably got you a little freaked out.

The only way to combat the spread of harmful germs is to limit exposure, which is why the CleanKey Antimicrobial Brass Hand Tool was invented.

The virus that causes COVID-19 can live on common surfaces for several hours or even several days, so the CleanKey helps limit the number of times you have to touch or potentially be infected by a contagious countertop, door handle or push button.

The CleanKey barely measures over 3.5 inches long. Yet, by using the CleanKey to press buttons, open doors and pull levels, you reduce your point of contact area with potentially contaminated surfaces.

Its ergonomic design slips into your hand comfortably and with the retractable carabiner, it hooks easily to your house keys, purse or other items.

The CleanKey also works with touchscreens, allowing you to push buttons or even sign your name safely and without causing any damage to the screen.

These days, every little bit of precaution helps — and it could save you from a body-wrecking illness or worse. Read the rest

What it's like to experience the dreaded COVID-19 "cytokine storm"

If you needed another reason to be scared straight into practicing impeccable sterile technique in an effort to reduce your risk of COVID-19, read on. For those of us who are immunocompromised (raises hand) or over sixty (reluctantly raises hand again) this is sobering stuff. I think I'll go wash my hands again.

Of all the possible compounding effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the cytokine storm is one of the most feared. An immune system overreaction in which the body is flooded with the eponymous signaling molecules, those who suffer a cytokine storm are at risk of dying at the hand of their own immune system, as an indirect effect of the virus they are fighting.

My lab work was stunningly bad. A normal white count might be between 4.5 and 10. My white cell count was at 2,000. My lymphocytes — which are the cells that fight in a virus, normally fall somewhere between 1000 and 1,500 — they were under 200. I don't know if you know the term but the early cells that fight infection are called "bands," and you don't have [them] normally — I had 20% bands. My platelet count was around 100,000, which is low, and I knew I was in trouble.

In the current context, we believe we have a biomarker of this condition, a serum level of a non-specific but is an acute phase reactant called serum ferritin. It looks like it may be to be one of the more reliable biomarkers of cytokine dysregulation.

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5 bidets on sale that are going to completely change your bathroom experience

Why don't more American homes have a bidet? Sure, it may seem odd at first, but travel around the rest of the world, from Europe to Asia and beyond, and those happy little spritzers are standard issue in practically every home. Considering what a clean-freak, germ-phobic society America has become, it's truly puzzling that this ultra-sanitary process hasn't broken through in the States. And don't even get us started on the green impact of phasing out all that toilet paper.

Well, it's time for you to be the change. No, seriously. It's time to step up, be counted and push the United States into the pristinely clean, uber-washed land it was always meant to be. And that crusade starts right on your very own home throne.

Check out this batch of bidet options, which should include at least one that fits your situation. C' know you want to.

SlimGlow: The World's First Bidet Attachment Featuring a Night Light - $49.99; Originally $79

If you just want to check out what the bidet life could be like, this starter option could give you a hint of the pleasures. The SlimGlow gets the job done with a comfort grip pressure control knob and dual nozzle cleansing action. It even features an incline that matches your natural body position and a soft blue light so you'll always be able to find your way in the middle of the night.

Alpha One V2 Bidet Seat - $72.99; Originally $199

The Alpha One V2 attaches easily to your current bowl and features a pair of retractable, self-cleaning dual nozzles. Read the rest

This ultra-portable charger gives you up to 3 extra hours of battery life when you need it most

Nobody wants to be caught with a dead phone. Usually, your poor planning is no more than a matter of momentary inconvenience. But what if your phone is dead at the wrong time?

And we mean a very wrong time. Like if you’re in desperate need of emergency help. Or when you absolutely have to connect with someone immediately. In just a handful of moments, the seemingly minor act of failing to charge up can have some very real and lasting consequences.

The AtomXS 3+ Hour Emergency Keychain Charger is engineered to be the ultimate failsafe when you fail to handle your charging duties.

At less than 2.5 inches across and weighing only a few ounces, the ergonomic AtomXS slips unobtrusively into your pocket or can connect easily to a keychain or bag so it can always be with you for the right occasion.

If your phone is running out of power, the 1,300mAh of power stuffed conveniently into this tiny high-density battery cell can be a real lifesaver. Just pop out the retractable Lightning, USB or Micro USB connector, plug it directly into your phone and you’ll immediately have an extra three hours of battery life to assure you never lose touch.

The unit springs to life with a touch of the sensor and even powers off after 40 seconds of inactivity. The AtomXS holds a charge for up to three months so as long as you can remember to keep this trusty little e-charger powered up every once in a while, you’ll never find yourself with a dead device again. Read the rest

Pee-wee's Big Adventure isn't the only movie with a Rube Goldberg breakfast machine

I was **this** many years old when I learned that Pee-wee Herman isn't the only on-screen character with a breakfast-making contraption. My sweetie Andy just re-watched the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and told me it also has a Rube Goldberg machine that makes breakfast! I didn't know about that one, so I looked it up. And there it was. Then I wondered if there were more... and there are!

First, let's start with Pee-wee's, which might be the best known one in pop culture (it even gets ripped off in an episode of Family Guy). To get his machine moving, he lights a candle (which in turn burns through a string). Just don't expect him to eat more than two bites of his elaborately made brekkie:

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Same year. Doc Brown had a neglected one that burnt toast and served up Einstein's dog food in Back to the Future:

Back to the Future (1985)

Doc had a much better version for the third Back to the Future:

Back to the Future III (1990)

Casper the CGI ghost morphs his fist into an egg-scrambler and then a spatula as this film's mini breakfast machine is doing its thing:

Casper (1995)

Then there's this one. Robin Williams, playing Professor Philip Brainard in the late '90s flick Flubber, kicks his off by slamming a giant button found on his bedside table:

Flubber (1997)

Ok, now to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Dick Van Dyke plays Caractacus Potts, an inventor, widower, and father of two. Read the rest

3D teapot where each vertex is a 3D teapot

Game developer Jospeh Whittington took the classic 3D teapot to its fractal conclusion: it's made of 3D teapots. Read the rest

Your toilet is your friend, these cool items can help you treat it like one

We all have at least one in our homes. We spend an inordinate amount of time with it. And we’d be lost without it. Yet the less we think about it, the better.

Yes, we’re talking about your toilet. And while you’d rather just ignore it, give it a moment of your time right now. And maybe even throw a dollar or two it's way. Because seriously...your throne needs some love.

Below, you’ll find 10 different items designed to make your time in the WC a little more pleasant. Just consider it for a second. It’s the least you can do for the porcelain god that does so much for you.

GlowBowl Motion Activated Toilet Nightlight: 2-Pack - $23.99 (Originally $32.50)

The GlowBowl helps you avoid the shock of turning on bathroom lights in the middle of the night. In addition to a rainbow of color options, this motion-activated LED light that hooks just inside your bowl also has 5 different dimmer settings, so you’ll never end up blinded by your 2 a.m. bathroom excursions. And since most houses have at least two bathrooms, this 2-pack means you’re set.

Original IllumiBowl Toilet Night Light - $10.99 (Originally $15)

If dimmer settings don’t matter, but size does, the illumniBowl might be your toilet nightlight of choice. As seen on Shark Tank, this bowl light clocks in about half the size of the GlowBowl has eight different light colors and an improved motion sensor.

Motion-Activated LED Toilet Light - $10.99 (Originally $19.99)

Here’s a toilet light with a true higher calling. Read the rest

ICANN needs to ask more questions about the sale of .ORG

[The selloff of the .ORG domain name registry to a private equity fund is fractally terrible, but it's in danger, thanks to public outcry. My EFF colleague Mitch Stoltz lays out the grotesque contours of the deal and its many deficiencies in this comprehensive overview. -Cory]

Over 21,000 people, 660 organizations, and now six Members of Congress have asked ICANN, the organization that regulates the Internet’s domain name system, to halt the $1.135 billion deal that would hand control over PIR, the .ORG domain registry, to private equity. There are crucial reasons this sale is facing significant backlash from the nonprofit and NGO communities who make the .ORG domain their online home, and perhaps none of them are more concerning than the speed of the deal and the dangerous lack of transparency that’s accompanied it.  Read the rest

Retractable Apple certified Lightning-to-USB cable also comes with good advice

Always pull both ends at the same time.

I absolutely hate it when my Amazon Basics retractable Lightning-to-USB cable disappears from my travel bag. These gadgets are small enough and neat enough they can just get jammed into a dark corner of your bag and will be there when you need a charging cable.

I would have enjoyed using mine today, but I was recently traveling with my daughter and find I must order another.

Watch what and how you pull.

AmazonBasics Apple Certified Retractable Lightning to USB Cable - 2 Feet (0.6 Meters) - White Read the rest

Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy to become TV series

According to the nerd media website, Bleeding Cool, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's crazed, over-the-top, post-modern sci-fi satire, the Illuminatus! trilogy is slated to become a TV series. No details are given about where it might land, but given Hivemind's association with Amazon Prime and Netflix, one of these outlets is a likely bet.

Illuminatus! as the show will be called, will be executive produced by Dinesh Shamdasani and Hunter Gorinson for Hivemind, and Iris McPherson and Kirstin Winkler for Kallisti. Taylor will serve as executive producer and showrunner.

“The series’ staggering influence has only continued to grow with each passing year not just because it explores and indulges the most compelling depths of America’s conspiratorial imagination, but because it also gives us the tools and knowledge to understand it. If there was ever a series primed for 21st century television, it’s Illuminatus!” said fellow former Valiant Comics employee, Hunter Gorinson, Hivemind’s VP of Brand & Content Strategy.

Illuminatus! joins Hivemind’s roster including Amazon’s science-fiction series, The Expanse, Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher and the Sony movie Bloodshot, based on the Valiant comic.

[Image: My Illuminatus! trilogy from when I was 18 years old.]


Full press release below:

LOS ANGELES, CA– December 11, 2019 – Hivemind today announced that it has partnered with writer/director Brian Taylor (HAPPY!, CRANK) and European production company Kallisti for a new television series based on THE ILLUMINATUS! TRILOGY – the hugely influential science-fiction franchise created by authors Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea that first introduced the concept of "the Illuminati" into the popular consciousness, while simultaneously fueling, deconstructing, and skewering America's modern-day obsession with conspiracy theories. Read the rest

Learning to See the Commons

[[Generations of propaganda about the instability of "the commons" and the desirability of assigning property rights in everything has led the human race into a very dark place: now, two scholars, David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, have published Free, Fair and Alive, which offers a critique of the "Tragedy," case studies of working commons, and a path to a better world based on shared resources and commons-based production. -Cory]]

Could we please, finally, lay to rest the tendentious "tragedy of the commons" fairy tale that has poisoned the minds of at least two generations? The accurate story about the commons deals with its ability to address the intractable problems of our time -- wasteful economic growth, predatory markets, the climate emergency, savage inequality. The commons offers practical ways to develop non-capitalist social systems that meet needs while helping rebuild our ecosystems and create a sense of belonging.

This was a key reason why we wrote Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons. At some point, Big Deceptions such as the "tragedy" fable become so deeply rooted they need to be confronted and debunked. One way to do this is to recognize the social realities and political potential of actual commons.

A persuasive argument for taking down the Mona Lisa

According to the Louvre museum, 80 percent of 10 million people who visit the famed Paris art museum come to see the Mona Lisa. "[A]nd most of them leave unhappy," writes Jason Farago, art critic for The New York Times. He recently went to the Louvre and described the dreadful experience:

[Y]ou must line up in a hideous, T.S.A.-style snake of retractable barriers that ends about 12 feet from the Leonardo — which, for a painting that’s just two and a half feet tall, is too far for looking and way too far for a good selfie.

Apparently the painting is beneath some nifty new nonreflective glass, but at this distance how could I tell? My fellow visitors and I could hardly see the thing, and we were shunted off in less than a minute. All this for a painting that (as the Louvre’s current show confirms) is hardly Leonardo’s most interesting, and that has drowned out the Venetian masterpieces in the Salle des États, such as Titian’s “Woman With a Mirror,” or Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana,” which Beyoncé was smart enough not to neglect. The museum is admitting as much with the pathetic new signs in the Salle des États: “The Mona Lisa is surrounded by other masterpieces — take a look around the room.”

Image: by Victor Grigas - Own work, , CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Read the rest

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