Making arrowheads, knives, and stone tools out of slate

I found this video absolutely mesmerizing. It in, a primitive tech enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest fashions some beautiful and lethal- and effective-looking arrowheads, knives, and tools using ground and polished slate.

As he points out in the lengthy video description, he doesn't have access to the more superior, knappable flint in his area, so he learned the technique for grinding and polishing slate which has been used by indigenous people in that area and around the world for ages. It is astounding what you can make with a piece of slate, water and grinding sand, and a world of patience and time.

Trigger warning: A skinned chicken was shot through with arrows and cut up with slate knives in the making of this video.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Let it out: Send your scream to a speaker in Iceland

When you're ready to take a break from doomscrolling, stop and send your scream to Iceland. It will be blasted from a real speaker that has been placed in one of the country's regions. "Scream therapy."

You’ve been through a lot this year and it looks like you need the perfect place to let your frustrations out. Somewhere big, vast and untouched. It looks like you need Iceland. Record your scream and we’ll release it in Iceland’s beautiful, wide-open spaces. And when you’re ready, come let it out for real. You’ll feel better, we promise.

Thanks, Flint! Read the rest

Suit up for the ultimate summer camping trip with these essential items

With just days until the official start of summer, your seasonal plans are likely much like everything else these days — unfocused, scattershot, and incredibly situational.

Well, it might be time to put some structure into the next few months, which could potentially start with getting reacquainted with the great outdoors. You remember that place, right? It’s the one you’ve been staring at from your bedroom window for months.

We think it’s time to correct that, so we’ve pulled together 19 great deals on some items that’ll help outfit you for an awesome summer camping trip — or at least have you ready if any emergencies pop up. 

Bare necessities Dave Jr. Duffel Bag - $125.99; originally $139

A smaller version of the iconic Dave Duffel, this 18-ounce waterproof tarpaulin bodied-bag with an armor-plated SuperFabric bottom is crafted for a lifetime of reliability and usefulness. The tactical, military-grade metal hardware, burly zippers, a full lining, and internal bound seams will likely outlast even you.

Tentsile UNA 1-Person Tree Tent - $199; originally $250

Every outdoorsman needs a place to stay — and after 10 minutes of setup, this solo tree tent takes versatility, comfort, and connection with the outdoors to new heights. Featuring a patented 3-point anchor system, waterproof rainfly, and insect mesh, hikers, and backpackers to set up camp almost anywhere and leave virtually no footprint behind.

Boy scout essentials Off-Grid Survival Knife - $24.99; originally $34.99

A trusty knife is an absolute essential almost anywhere — and this partially serrated, 420 stainless steel knife stands ready to assist. Read the rest

41,000+ year old string may have been made by Neanderthals

A recent piece in the journal Scientific Reports claims that remnants of twisted fiber found on a flint tool are between 42,000 - 52,000 years old and may have been made by Neanderthals. The tool and string were found in a cave in Southern France that was inhabited by Neanderthals.

NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce writes of the discovery:

The discovery adds to growing evidence that our closest extinct human relative wasn't as dumb as scientists had long assumed.

"They are this sort of ultimate 'other,' this creature that is very similar to us yet somehow is supposed to be too stupid to live," said Bruce Hardy, a paleoanthropologist at Kenyon College in Ohio. He points out that Neanderthals were smart enough to have persisted for hundreds of thousands of years before eventually disappearing around 40,000 years ago.

This is the oldest string found so far by a wide margin. The earliest string recovered before this was "only" 19,000 years old.

Read the NPR piece. Read the Scientific Reports paper.

Image: Salmen Bejaoui on Unsplash Read the rest

Elf-shooting is a disease from which cows suffer.

From a 1938 school book transcribed by the Dúchas Project, the digital archives of the National Folklore Project at UC Dublin:

Elf-shooting is a disease from which cows suffer. They are supposed to have been hit by a piece of flint thrown by a fairy.

The cow lies down moaning. Her eyes get swollen and water runs from her mouth.

A person who has the cure for "Elf shooting" is sent for. He proceeds to make the cure. He first measure her from the tail to between the horns using his arm from the elbow to tips of his fingers as a measure. He then cuts the tops of her horns and pieces from her cleats. He takes a sod from the roof of the byre, he lights it and when burning well it is passed three times round the cow's body. Then the pieces of horns and cleats with some hair from the cow are burned under her head the smoke going round her head. Soon she begins to get lively and in a short time is able to take a drink. Then she is all-right.

Seems legitimate. Gotta watch out for those flying faery flints.

Elf-Shooting [Urbal Scoil / Dúchas Project]

Image: Public Domain via Pexels Read the rest

The wonderful 3D diorama art of old View-Master reels

A delightful website called View-Master World features photos from View-Master reels across the decades. My favorite View-Master art has always been the 3D stuff from the 1960s. These 21 samples from a Flintstone’s reel are a high water mark of the genre. Read the rest

Female komodo dragons don't need no man to make more dragons

Back in August 2019, a female komodo dragon named Charlie gave birth to three little dragons at the Chattanooga Zoo. The zookeepers had previously tried to hook her up with a sweet dragon fella named Kadal, but the two never really seemed to hit it off — not that the staff could observe, anyway. And now that they've tested the DNA of young Onyx, Jasper, and Flint, it's finally confirmed: Charlie and Kadal did not hit it off at all, so Charlie took it upon herself to bring the kids into the world. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The DNA results showed the babies were the result of parthenogenesis, which is a type of reproduction where the female produces offspring without male fertilization. […] Female Komodo dragons carry WZ sex chromosomes, while males carry the ZZ type. When parthenogenesis happens, the mother can only create WW or ZZ eggs. Since eggs with the sex chromosomes of WW aren't viable, only ZZ eggs are left to produce all male hatchlings. Parthenogenesis is considered very rare, with the first case of a successful parthenogenesis reproduction in Komodo dragons recorded in 2006.

I was personally fascinated to learn that there are so many different categorizations of asexual reproduction, and that it can indeed occur spontaneously in vertebrates without any fertilization. In 2007, there was apparently a bit of a scandal involving a lab-grown human embryo that was allegedly cloned, but turned it to be a productive parthenogenesis. There are also living human beings with some unique chimeric complications in which they were both fertilized by a male, but also underwent some kind of parthenogenesis at the same time, resulting in a male offspring with Y-chromosomes in his skin, but not in his blood. Read the rest

Get your toddler on the road earlier with the world's lightest balance bike

Learning to ride a bike is one of those quintessential childhood experiences that's as rewarding as it is scary. Prep your precious babe for success by starting them early with the world's lightest balance bike, the Brilrider FLIGHT.

For the uninitiated, balance bikes are no-pedal bicycles that propel forward by pushing off the ground with the feet, a la the Flintstones. Stopping, too, is accomplished by foot, which kids tend to do naturally anyway. (Hands up if you're stopping like that to this day... *raises hand*)

They're way easier for a toddler to learn than a traditional bike + training wheels setup, thanks to their uncomplicated design that eliminates intimidation while helping little ones gain confidence and independence as they focus on simply balancing. Most babies can balance by the age of 2, so once they get their road-legs they'll be set for a faster transition to a standard bike, no training wheels required.

The incredibly lightweight frame of the Brilrider FLIGHT was designed with children as young as 12 months in mind; made with airplane-grade aluminum, it's tough, durable, and insanely easy to maneuver. That's a bonus for parents, too, since you'll likely be the one hauling it around. Also a bonus? Tool-free assembly and quick-release adjustments of the handlebars and seat.

Speaking of the seat, kids benefit from its 11" starting position. This means not only is the Brilrider sized better for learners—allowing for full control and walking of the bike—but even if they were to fall, there's a much shorter distance to the ground. Read the rest

Google resists giving up emails, texts, & docs sought in state anticompetitive digital ad probe — reports

Reporting at the WSJ today says Alphabet/Google hasn't met the demands of state investigators to surrender emails, texts, and other documents in an ongoing anticompetitive digital-ad practices investigation. Read the rest

I'm the Author Guest of Honor at Baycon 2020, May 22-25!

Baycon is a large, regional science fiction convention that's been serving the Bay Area for 38 years; I attended several times when I lived in San Francisco and this year I was tickled to be invited to attend as Author Guest of Honor. The event is May 22-25 (Memorial Day Weekend) at the San Mateo Airport San Francisco Marriott (at Hwy 92 & 101 in San Mateo, CA). The convention is one of the best regional cons I've ever attended, with an outstanding mix of fannish activities (boffer swords! flint-knapping! multiple warring Klingon clades!), literary panels, and panels on tech, politics and other subjects salient to the Bay Area. I'm so pleased to be invited and I'm looking forward to seeing you there! Read the rest

Seaweed-fed sheep belch less methane

North Ronaldsay, a remote island in the Orkney archipelago off Scotland's northern shore, long ago built a flint wall to keep sheep close to the shore and away from the cows' grazing land. Since then, the sheep have adapted so well to beach life they only eat seaweed, and scientists have found they belch less methane as a result.

In a year, a cow produces about the same greenhouse effect as a car that burns 1,000 litres of petrol, so it's fairly evident how beneficial it would be to reduce livestock's carbon hoof-print simply by altering their diet. Experiments have shown that carbon dioxide as well as methane emissions are lowered when seaweed is introduced into feed. And if he succeeds in creating a nutritious seaweed blend that's palatable to ordinary livestock there would be other environmental benefits too, including being able to source more animal feed locally and sustainably.

The seaweed business was once big on North Ronaldsay and elsewhere in Scotland, so its use as food could be a commercial boon to islanders. Read the rest

Spark a conversation with these retro kerosene lighters

We'll say this about smoking: The act of asking somebody for a light is a minor bonding ritual all its own — and a great chance to make a first impression.

And if it takes you a while to find a bon mot, don't sweat it: That's why they made these eye-catching throwback lighters.

They're made by the guys at TSHOMX, and there is clearly a lot of work put into each one. We'd classify them as retro, but even old favorites like the flip-top Zippo didn't have this much swagger or attention to detail. They're each made from brass, hand-forged with a variety of distinctive covers and accents.

Each one normally sells at retail for $99, but they are all nearly 25% off right now. Not only that, you can take an extra 15% off that final price by using the holiday coupon code MERRYSAVE15. Take your pick, and enjoy the attention. (Bear in mind that lighter fuel for these is sold separately.)

Handcrafted Brass Carved Lift Arm Kerosene Lighter

The cowhide cover on this one is classy, but we love the centerpiece. The intricate gearwork makes it the perfect accessory to your outfit at the steampunk cotillion.

Classic Lighter with Eagle Coin Sleeve

For something a little more understated, try this model in basic black. The centerpiece is an eagle coin, rustic but polished.

Brass Carved Flint Wheel Kerosene Lighter

Here's the same gearwork accent and cowhide cover with a different lighting mechanism. The striker is a flint wheel operation, perhaps more familiar to the Zippo crowd. Read the rest

Insanely brutal fight scene from animated series Primal

Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Dexter's Lab) has a new cartoon on Adult Swim called Primal. I guess it takes place on the same planet the Flintstones live on because humans and dinosaurs coexist. The animation is superb. Here's a fight scene to give you an idea of how violent it is.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

10 essential pocket-sized tech items you'll use everyday

Your phone doesn't have to be the only smart piece of tech in your pocket. We regularly take pens, lighters, and wallets for granted, but here are 10 portable items that improve on those everyday bits of gear and others just like them.

TEC Accessories The Orbiter™ Pinstripe Magnetic Fidget Device

Tired of that same old fidget spinner? This two-piece sensory device involves a magnetic ball that rotates a grade 5 titanium hub, providing continuous, hypnotic movement that you can control and enjoy. And with a nano-composite microlayer, you can be sure it's more durable than typical spinners. TEC Accessories' The Orbiter™ Pinstripe Magnetic Fidget Device is now $29.99, a full 55% off the list price.

Geekey Multi-Tool

Open and closed wrench, a screwdriver, bit driver, wire bender and even a smokeable pipe are just a few of the uses of this multi-tool. It's TSA-compliant, and it's roughly the size and shape of a regular key, so it goes with you wherever your keychain does. The Geekey Multi-Tool is now $22.99, down 58% from the original cost.

EverRatchet Ratcheting Keychain Multi-Tool

The emergency fire flint kit makes this pint-sized multi-tool especially useful for the outdoors, but the wire stripper and 7(!) wrenches make it a lifesaver around the house as well. Get the EverRatchet Ratcheting Keychain Multi-Tool for $24.99, a 10% break off the MSRP.

Pry.Me Bottle Openers

It may be billed as the world's tiniest bottle opener, but this grade 5 titanium tool can hold 164,000 times its own weight. Read the rest

Watch this dazzling fire at a fireworks store

A fire outside Davey Jones Fireworks and the House of Fireworks in Fort Mills, South Carolina resulted in a massive and unexpected fireworks show. From WCNC:

According to Capt. Jeff Nash with Flint Hill Fire Department the fire began at around 5:45 a.m. and started in the Connex Storage containers. Nash said those containers had dozens of cardboard boxes holding fireworks.

Deputies confirmed the storage units where the fire started belonged to Davey Jones Fireworks. The cause of the fire was under investigation, and no injuries were reported.

Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Williamson told NBC Charlotte that they believe the fire was intentionally set.

According to officials, because of all of the explosives, it took crews about 45 minutes to put out the fire.

Read the rest

The internet has become a "low-trust society"

Writing in Wired, Zeynep Tufekci (previously) discusses how the internet has become a "low-trust society," where fake reviews, fraud, conspiracies and disinformation campaigns have burdened us all with the need to investigate every claim and doubt every promise, at enormous costs to time and opportunity. Read the rest

The Flintstones meet the Roman Empire, starring Dom DeLuise

This is the title sequence for The Roman Holidays, a Hanna-Barbera Productions cartoon that lasted for 13 episodes in 1972. It was quite similar to The Flintstones which itself was inspired by The Honeymooners. From Toonopedia:

The show's title came from the setting (ancient Rome) and the protagonists' family name (Holiday, which was just ever so typical a family name back then). Dad's first name was Gus and Mom's was Laurie. They had a teenage daughter named Groovia, an in-house son-in-law named Happius (usually called Happy) and a younger daughter named Precocia. Their pet cat, Brutus (no relation), was actually a lion. Like modern nuclear family heads, Gus went to work every day, where his boss was Mr. Tycoonus, and came home each night to the Venus de Milo Arms, where his landlord was Mr. Evictus (Dom DeLuise! -ed.).

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

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