New York prisoners offered $6 an hour to dig mass graves

New York City has offered prisoners personal protective equipment and $6 an hour to dig mass graves, reports Ryan Grim for The Intercept. The best-case scenario suggests 100,000-240,000 dead in the next few weeks from coronavirus infections, according to NBC News, and New York City is the hardest-hit metro area in the country. So someone's got to do it.

They're considering Hart Island for the grave sites, but are concerned there won't be enough space.

The offer is only being made to those with convictions, not those jailed before trial, as is generally the case. A memo sent to prisoners, according to a source who reviewed it, does not specify what the work on Hart Island will be, but the reference to PPE leaves little doubt. The offer comes as New York City continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with 38,000 people infected and more than 914 dead so far. New York City owns and operates a public cemetery on Hart Island, which has long been maintained by prison labor. The island was identified as a potential resting place for a surge of bodies in the event of a pandemic by a 2008 report put together by the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

Pay them minimum wage: $15 an hour in New York City.

Microsoft Excel is still the lifeblood of data analysis and this training bundle breaks it all down

If you’re charting the fortunes of a business, one glance at the right columns can instantly detail that company’s health. If you want to see their current roster of customers, a spreadsheet can bring those clients into sharp focus.

Make no mistake -- the world of business is still dominated by the all-powerful spreadsheet. It’s still a defining business tool, one users can get to know inside and out with training like The 2020 Ultimate Microsoft Excel Certification Training Bundle.

The package collecting 10 courses jammed full with more than 40 hours of training unlocks everything a new Microsoft Excel user needs to start exploring, managing and analyzing data in this business industry staple.

First, a trio of courses guide first-timers through three levels of Excel knowledge, starting with basic terms and ideas before moving to templates, databases, and ranges, then the most advanced Excel tools like macros and creating your own Excel operations with VBA programming.

Meanwhile, another three courses dig into some of Excel’s most valuable functions, including productivity tools like keyboard shortcuts and data validation; data visualizations to create data-driven maps, templates, forms and other dynamic visuals; and pivot tables for grouping and displaying your data in every conceivable way.

Additional training covers powerful data modeling and business tools like Power Query and Data Analysis Expressions, how to use formulas and functions at all levels, and advanced tips for handling critical data processes like password protection and tracking changes.

From Excel newbies to hardcore veterans, there are tips and strategies here to help users of any level extract even more meaning from all their Excel explorations.

Usually, these 10 courses together would cost over $1,700, but with this limited-time deal, you can have all this Excel training for 94 percent off the sale price, down to just $49.99.

Using colored paper, help a neighbor with "Isolation Communication"

Nova Scotia resident Glynis Mullen shared a simple, but brilliant, way that we can all employ to look out for our neighbors in real life, "Our neighbour is older and lives alone so I gave her three colour pieces of paper for her window which face our kitchen window. Green is for I’m OK, yellow (is) for need(ing) help with an errand, and red for emergency. I call it isolation communication."

Surrey Now-Leader:

She and her neighbour often communicate through her kitchen window and said the tri-colour paper system is a “really good visual comfort that everything is okay. When it’s yellow, I know I should call and we can arrange something.”

screengrab via Glynis Mullen/Facebook

Mountain Goats have taken over a small Welsh town while humans are in quarantine

Not to be confused with the band the Mountain Goats (who should also take over more small Welsh towns), these hoofed mammals stormed the streets of Llandudno. While the 20,000 people in this seaside town stayed indoors to avoid the coronavirus, the goats saw an opportunity to reclaim the land as their own — to which I say, frolic, you glorious beasts, and may you continue to reign long after this is over.

Mountain goats of Great Orme hit Llandudno – in pictures [Peter Byrne / The Guardian]

Take a virtual visit to Napa - with very real sips of wine

For wine lovers around the world, it's all about discovery. Once they get a taste for the grape, oenophiles are rarely satisfied with even the most carefully curated, go-to vintages. There's always a hunt for the next great pairing, the thrill of uncorking a bold new Tempranillo or sublime Moscato.

That feeling is a jones that winemakers in general - and wine clubs in particular - are happy to feed. But while online wine-of-the-month clubs have made discovering new wines a lot easier, many feel there's been something lost in terms of the personal touch; that sense of place and adventure that began many wine lovers' journey in the first place.

Enter Wine Access, a growing portal to the wine world that offers not just convenience but a more curated approach. At a time when a trip to Napa is out of the question, and wineries sit closed for the foreseeable future, why not bring the experience to your home?

The online wine shop is based in the heart of downtown Napa, and even within that insular wine hub, the founders have some deep connections. (Their Head of Wine, Vanessa Conlin, came to the job after heading up sales and marketing for several high-profile estates including Arietta Wines.) Wine Access leverages those connections to get their members access to some rare and award-winning picks like Estate Argyros' Assyrtiko Santorini, a Grecian white that elevates any shellfish meal to a life-changing experience.

But Wine Access doesn't randomly push these wines onto its subscribers, however, well-selected they may be. Members get regular emails that tell the full story behind the wine, from the history of the vineyard to a wider view of the country that surrounds them. The result is a sensory tour that makes you feel like you've followed the grapes all the way from vine to table.

Most importantly, that passion extends to the delivery of the bottle itself. Whether it's one of their selections or a wine of your own chosing from their vast online catalog, Wine Access delivers it in a way that ensures the integrity of the contents, protecting it from undue temperature shifts and excessive exposure to light. The result is a bottle delivered to your doorstep with a story behind it. Nothing gets the mouth-watering like anticipation, and Wine Access has certainly mastered that particular seasoning.

Want a taste for yourself? There's a deal now on $50 off your first purchase of $150 from Wine Access, and members get 10% off further purchases from the site.

Cory Doctorow reads the author's note from his third Little Brother book, Attack Surface

From Cory's awesome Pluralistic website, a post about the latest episode of his podcast, in which he reads the author's note from Attack Surface, his third Little Brother book.

My latest podcast is a reading of the author's note from "Attack Surface" — the third Little Brother book, which comes out on Oct 12.

I recorded this for the audiobook edition of Attack Suface, which I've been recording all last week with Amber Benson and the Cassandra de Cuir from Skyboat Media.

If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the book — it's a scary time to have a book in the production pipeline!

Here's the MP3:

And here's the podcast feed:

Annalee Newitz looks at the Great Plague of London and 17th century social distancing

Annalee Newitz has a piece in The New York Times about the "Great Plague" of London (1665-1666)--the last outbreak of bubonic plague in England--which ended up taking the lives of almost a quarter of the city's population.

A lot of English people believed 1666 would be the year of the apocalypse. You can’t really blame them. In late spring 1665, bubonic plague began to eat away at London’s population. By fall, roughly 7,000 people were dying every week in the city. The plague lasted through most of 1666, ultimately killing about 100,000 people in London alone — and possibly as many as three-quarters of a million in England as a whole.


It felt like Armageddon. And yet it was also the beginning of a scientific renaissance in England, when doctors experimented with quarantines, sterilization and social distancing. For those of us living through these stay-at-home days of Covid-19, it’s useful to look back and see how much has changed — and how much hasn’t. Humanity has been guarding against plagues and surviving them for thousands of years, and we have managed to learn a lot along the way.


It was most likely thanks to his [King Charles II] interest in science that government representatives and doctors quickly used social distancing methods for containing the spread of bubonic plague. Charles II issued a formal order in 1666 that ordered a halt to all public gatherings, including funerals. Already, theaters had been shut down in London, and licensing curtailed for new pubs. Oxford and Cambridge closed.

Isaac Newton was one of the students sent home, and his family was among the wealthy who fled the cities so they could shelter in place at their country homes. He spent the plague year at his family estate, teasing out the foundational ideas for calculus.

Read the entire piece here.

Image: Public Domain

A virtual fireside chat with Erik Davis, Dennis McKenna, and the premiere of a never-released Terence McKenna lecture at Esalen Institute, 1989

Boing Boing pal Erik Davis will be joining Dennis McKenna (Terence's brother) on April 3rd for an online screening and virtual chat centered on a previously unseen lecture that Terence McKenna delivered at Esalen Institute in 1989.

From Erik's monthly newsletter.

This Friday, at 5:30 PST, I will be participating in a TRIBUTE TO TERENCE MCKENNA hosted by Dennis McKenna and our mutual friends at Psychedelic Seminars. Terence died twenty years ago, and over the next few weekends, Dennis will be hanging out with some of T’s wonderful friends, like Eduardo Luna, Bruce Damer, and Rupert Sheldrake.

On Friday we will be streaming a recently discovered hour-long film of Terence shot at Esalen in 1989. After the showing, Dennis and I will have a chat—the first in-depth conversation we have had since the publication of High Weirdness.

You can sign-up for the screening and chat here. You can find more info on the whole series here.

And if you're looking for something provocative and mind-bending to read while you're cowering in your invisible zombie apocalypse hidey hole, check out Erik's wonderful new tome, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

[H/t Laurie Fox]

Image: Promotional art

What Steve Forte can do with a pack of cards borders on the unbelievable

When watching a magician perform some card tricks, it's a legitimate question to ask: "Would you be able to cheat at a card game?" Most performers will smirk and wink, implying they could. Truth is: they probably can't. Sleight-of-hand with cards for conjuring and entertainment purposes is one thing; gambling techniques to cheat at cards is a whole other story. Sometimes these two domains overlap, in that liminal zone of the so called "gambling demonstrations." However, the gamblers' "real work" entails a very different skillset from that of a magician—while true gambling techniques are among the most fascinating and difficult to master.

The gambling expert

In the realm of gambling techniques with cards, one name immediately commands undivided admiration and respect. That name is Steve Forte. It's no hyperbole to say that what Forte can do with a pack of cards borders the unbelievable; his skillful handling is the closest thing to perfection in terms of technique. Here is a taste of his smooth and classy dexterity:

Steve Forte's career spans over 40 years within the gambling industry. After dealing all casino games and serving in all casino executive capacities, he shifted gears to a spectacularly successful career as a professional high-stakes Black Jack and Poker player; shifting gears again, he later became a top consultant in the casino security field. To dig deeper into Forte's adventurous and shapeshifting life, the go-to place is the enduring profile penned by R. Paul Wilson for the October 2005 issue of Genii Magazine.

Although Forte spent his whole professional career in the gambling world, in the early '90s he became widely known in the magic community after releasing his famous Gambling Protection Video Series. These tapes turned him into an almost mythical figure, someone with a uniquely vast repertoire of gambling moves, and the remarkable ability to execute these moves—all of them—flawlessly. These tapes still remain the gold standard for any serious gambling enthusiast. 

In 2009, the Academy of Magical Arts honored Steve Forte with a Special Fellowship Award, in recognition of his outstanding creative contribution.

Forte Years of Research

Steve Forte just released his magnum opus, Gambling Sleight of Hand - Forte Years of Research: the most ambitious compilation of gambling sleight-of-hand and cutting-edge card techniques published to date. Forte offers his encyclopedic research from the privileged perspective of someone who has been around card games for his entire life, gambled professionally, met all kinds of cheaters and hustlers, and been a lifelong fan of magic. Separating the wheat from the chaff with his elegant prose, Forte shares the "real work." This book it's about "the pursuit of technical excellence for magicians and sleight-of-hand hobbyists, a modern starting point for cardmen and cardwomen to continue an exploratory journey where dedicated research, practice, and passion will forge ahead and advance the art."

Gambling Sleight of Hand - Forte Years of Research is already a classic, a must have for collectors and anyone interested in gambling sleight-of-hand.

The man behind the expert

In any art and craft, there are experts, heroes, role models. Sometimes these people are friendly and accessible, other times they are …read the rest

These toys and games can keep the kids busy while you’re all trapped inside

These toys and games can keep the kids busy while you’re all trapped inside.

As rough as all this time cooped up inside the house is on us adults, it’s even worse for kids. All that borderline maniacal energy along with an unquenchable thirst for stimulation and attention make home sequestration like a life sentence for them. Unfortunately, they have no problem taking out all that pent-up disappointment and boredom on you, the unwitting adult who must take the rap for a worldwide pandemic.

These are difficult times and we all have to do what we must to survive. We wouldn’t normally endorse this, but under our current conditions...bribe them. Tell the kids that if they can be good for a day, or just through your workday or heck, even for a few hours, you’ll get ‘em one of the cool toys and games we’ve assembled here.

Everything here is on sale. They won’t care. You will. And peace will still reign in your household. For now. But for today, it’s all we’ve got…

Video games

Every kid loves video games -- and this is a good time to plant some of the old-school retro gaming love you had when you were a kid.

From the folks at 8BitDo, both the Gbros. Wireless Adapter for Nintendo Switch ($14.95; originally $19.99) and the SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad ($23.95; originally $29.99) gives you the retro-style gaming controller that’s compatible with all the latest gaming systems. Whether your kids have a Switch or play games on Windows, Android, macOS or Steam-based platforms, these Bluetooth-connected devices will take you all right back to the 90s and 2000s...even if it's your kids’ first trip.

Sticking with both retro and handheld gaming, the GameBud Portable Gaming Console ($19.95; originally $74.99) sure looks a heck of a lot like another gaming system of old. Boy, I wish I could remember its name. This also brings back the 8-bit days, includes 400 different classic games and the won’t even be draining your phone battery to play.

And if the whole family wants to get in on the action, the Throwback Gaming Console ($34.95; originally $99) hooks right up to your TV with an HDMI cable with a pair of controllers to fire up any of 600 preloaded video game classics. That’s enough games to keep them busy through even the worst of global crises.

For kids who really want to disconnect from the world, the IPM 3D Virtual Reality Glasses ($14.99; originally $69.99) plunge you right into the VR world instead. Drop-in a smartphone and these glasses make any TV or movie a truly immersive experience.

Arcade games

Maybe rather than playing video games on a TV or phone, it’s time to go back to arcade-style gaming -- without the super mammoth cabinets, of course. With both the Street Fighter II: Champion Edition X RepliCade ($99.99; originally $119.99) and the Tempest X Replicade ($99.99; originally $119.99), you get exact fully-functioning replicas of these two …read the rest

Outstanding, free, and far-out music stream from Aquarium Drunkard

Aquarium Drunkard is an incredible audio hub of reviews, podcasts, features, interviews, and sessions sure to please all crate diggers, outré musicologists, fringe culture fanatics, and deep music geeks. Their genre-bending curation spans jazz, folk, garage, psych, experimental, and every other niche of music to present oft-unheard gems from across time. As the creators say, Aquarium Drunkard is "for heads, by heads." In author Erik Davis's own excellent newsletter, he shares word that Aquarium Drunkard has now launched a free online radio stream, Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard. Tune in and turn on. Erik writes:

I have been in love with Aquarium Drunkard’s mailing list, streams, and musical curation chops since I stumbled across a three-part collection of rare 70s Jesus Freak music they posted years ago. Given that millions of us are now stuck at home, addictively trawling newsfeeds while trying to stay sane, the AQ kids just launched Radio Free Aquarium Drunkard, a wonderful 24/7 radio stream of joy, verve, and reflection. Admittedly, I find my own sensibility uncannily mirrored in RFAQ’s mix of scruffy indy, ladyfolk, 90s basement tapes, spiritual jazz, weird country, and deep deep 70s. But I am particularly enjoying the intimacy, wit, and kindness of the selections, segues, and overall vibe. These days we should all be paying close attention to the collective process of meaning-making. This means ignoring the algos and opening up to playlists, personal recommendations, and DJs. Tune in!

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

We've covered Theodore Gray on Boing Boing a lot, and for good reason -- he's amazing. His Mad Science book was filled with spectacularly fun science experiments, he built a Periodic Table table with little compartments to hold samples of elements, and now he has a new coffee table photo book called The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.

Each element is treated to a gorgeous two page spread, with photos and a fascinating short history.

Did you know:

... if you keep your household smoke detector around for a couple of thousand years, most of the americium will have decayed into neptunium (wait another 30 million years or so and it will become thallium, which the CIA can use to make Castro's beard fall out, if he's still alive)

... if you touch tellurium you will smell like rotten garlic for a few weeks?

... arsenic is commonly added to chicken feed (to promote their growth)?

... a chunk of gallium will melt in your hand (you can buy a sample here)?

... a speck of scandium ("the first of the elements you've never heard of") added to aluminum creates a very strong alloy (like the kind used in the Louisville Slugger that was involved in a lawsuit)?

Books that reveal how truly weird our world is are always welcome in my home. This one's a gem.

Max Barry on how science fiction prepares us for the apocalypse

I greatly enjoyed Max Barry's 2013 novel Lexicon (Cory loved it, too -- here's his review). Barry has a new novel that came out today from Putnam, called Providence, which I started reading. It's a space thriller about a four person crew on an AI controlled spaceship programmed to seek and destroy "salamanders" - creatures that kill by spitting mini-black holes. It's terrific so far (I'm 70% finished).

I'm happy that Max wrote this op-ed for Boing Boing, titled "How Science Fiction Prepares Us For the Apocalypse." -- Mark

My favorite theory on why we dream is that we’re practicing for emergencies. Asleep, unguarded, our minds conjure threats and dilemmas so that once we wake, we’ve learned something. Maybe not very much—maybe only what not to do, because it rarely goes well. But we learn more from our failures than our successes, and this is what our minds serve up, night after night: hypothetical dangers and defeats. Whether we’re fleeing a tiger or struggling to persuade a partner who won’t listen, we fail, but we also practice.

I suspect that’s also why we read fiction. We don’t seek escapism—or, at least, not only that. We read to inform our own future behavior. No matter how fanciful the novel, in the back of our minds, something very practical is taking notes.

Popular fiction regularly mirrors the times in which it’s published. Two hundred years ago, society readers were thrilled by dangerous flirtations in Jane Austen novels; a century ago, people living in newly urbanized cities devoured mysteries and detective stories; and the 1930s gave rise to the Golden Age of science fiction, with stories that asked where technology might take us.

All of these types of books entertained, and occasionally stretched the bounds of plausibility, but they also delivered something very pragmatic: a chance for a reader to observe a dangerous new situation and explore ways to get out of it. In this way, every novel is not only a journey but also a guidebook.

This might seem a long bow to draw with science-fiction novels, which have, in their most popular variants, included giant sandworms, interstellar warfare, self-aware spaceships, and Morlocks. But those of us who have always devoured such stories know they are painted cloth pulled over real people. For every alien world, there is a foreign country or another race; for every threat from the stars, there is one from a government, or an evolving society, or a neighbor.

But beyond this, there is also the fact that a lot of these far-fetched stories are coming true. We are already living in the world of Fahrenheit 451—not the part where they burn books, but everything else. “Orwellian” has become useless as a descriptor, because it applies so neatly to so much; it has lost all context, all contrast.

And the post-apocalyptic stories have never seemed more directly relevant. Some are obviously so: There is no shortage of excellent novels featuring a terrible pandemic, or at least the threat of one, including The Stand by Stephen King, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, and Oryx and …read the rest

Kinky medical role play and fetish supplier donates scrubs to hospital

MedFetUK, a UK fetish company that deals in medical supplies and equipment for sex play has donated its supply of scrubs to a National Health Service hospital.

“It was just a few sets, because we don’t carry large stocks, but they were desperate, so we sent them free of charge...” MedFetUK tweeted.

"When we, a tiny company set up to serve a small section of the kink community, find ourselves being sought out as a last-resort supplier to our National Health Service in a time of crisis, something is seriously wrong. In fact, it's scandalous."

When you see someone from the government saying the NHS is getting what it needs, that is a LIE.We have been contacted this week by representatives of NHS procurement all over the country, trying to source basic protective equipment and clothing. [2/5]

— MedFetUK (@MedFet_UK) March 27, 2020

Watch the wonderful Wizard of Oz cartoon that predated the classic film

Directed by Canadian-American filmmaker Ted Eshbaugh, this "Wizard of Oz" cartoon from 1933 predated the classic Hollywood movie by six years. From Wikipedia:

The story is credited to "Col. Frank Baum." Frank Joslyn Baum, a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and eldest son of writer L. Frank Baum, was involved in the film's production, and may have had an involvement in the film's script, which is loosely inspired by the elder Baum's 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It runs approximately eight and a half minutes and is nearly wordless, working mainly with arrangements of classical music created by Carl W. Stalling.[3]

The film was originally made in Technicolor, but because it was made without proper licensing from the Technicolor Corporation (which limited use of its 3-strip process to Disney), it never received a theatrical release.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

In 1889, a dam failure sent a disastrous flood descending on Johnstown, Pennsylvania

In 1889, a dam failed in southwestern Pennsylvania, sending 20 million tons of water down an industrialized valley toward the unsuspecting city of Johnstown. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe some of the dramatic and harrowing personal stories that unfolded on that historic day.

We'll also celebrate Christmas with Snoopy and puzzle over a deadly traffic light.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

Building 15 fun projects and games is truly Python training, the fun way

Python is everywhere. Just look under the hood of virtually every major tech player of the 21st century and you’re likely to find a whole lot of Python-based coding language staring back at you. Case in point: Netflix. You may not know it, but from its security protocols to its much-hyped recommendations, it turns out that Python code is baked into virtually every movie, TV show or another piece of content you watch on the platform.

That’s just one example of the pervasiveness of this versatile, powerful, user-friendly language. Right now, you can both learn Python AND create some cool projects and games with the training in the Python 3 Complete Bootcamp Master Course ($10.99, over 90 percent off).

With access to over 370 lectures and more than 30 hours of content, this course demystifies Python at its most practical level by helping you build 15 different projects and games while you learn.

The course teaches basic Python operations through the creation of some simple games, like a dice roll simulator, a hangman game or simple tic-tac-toe. But as students start working through more advanced Python concepts like machine learning and data analysis, the project ratchets up as well.

Before long, you’re building a matchmaker app, a Tamagotchi-style screen pet and even exploring methods for starting your own databases.

By the time you’re creating your own big data analysis project using more than 60 million data points, you’ll have internalized enough Python knowledge to use Python like a pro or even get hired as a Python expert. Regularly a $500 training package, it’s on sale now for only $10.99.

Pandemic sourdough: baking this loaf of bread made me so happy

Read the first post in our series on making your own sourdough starter and bread.

The third loaf of bread with my new-to-the-pandemic sourdough starter was a pleasure to bake.

Putting this loaf of bread together for its bulk rise was done in a pleasant couple minutes pause while preparing dinner for my parents. I have been pretty aggressively on my One Meal A Day diet and enjoying 20-24 hour fasts during the pandemic and thus tend to prepare dinner for the family most nights.

I decided to bake an all King Arthur bread flour loaf of bread this time, but I continued to go with 2 cup sized loaves instead of 4. The starter is behaving like it is on something like a 4-6 hour cycle, so I fed it around 1:30 pm and mixed up the dough around 6:30 pm.

I time it like this so that a) the yeast should be in a place where there are many fresh, new and hungry cells banging about the starter and b) the 12-ish hour bulk rise I give my bread will not need me to wake up earlier than usual. If the dough looks like it needs more time, I give it more time. 18+ hours were not unusual in my old home. I would forget to change the thermostat and at night my kitchen would get too cold. Here I put the rising dough on the closed lid of an indoor bbq, with a potholder as insulation.

The dough was sticky and needed a bit of flour to let me work it. Even with a sealed top on the bowl, the dough formed a bit of dried skin. I tried to fold it all in and gave the dough a 10-minute rest before putting it in the banneton.

I played with oven temps a bit today. My dad has complained the bread is too crusty and I agree. I pre-heated my dutch oven to 500F but turned the oven down to 495F for the 30-minutes of closed baking. I then removed the dutch oven's lid and lowered the temperature to 450F for 22 minutes.

When bread works out well I feel so happy. I was whistling and dancing about after seeing the results of the first 30min baking. It looks so pretty and tastes wonderful.

One anxiety of mine had been my depleting flour stores. One of my colleagues here at Boing Boing pointed out a mill that will apparently deliver a very large bag of flour here via FedEx. It has been the only thing we've had a hard time finding this pandemic.

I will gladly share their info if the flour arrives and I like it as much as she swears I will. My prior experiences with fancy, heirloom flour were ok but I wasn't jumping for joy.


Pandemic Starter Day 1

Pandemic Starter Day 2

Pandemic Starter Day 3

Pandemic Starter Day 4

Pandemic Starter Day 5: Waffles

Pandemic Starter: First loaf of bread

Pandemic Starter: Second loaf and more pretzels

Astonishingly weird video of AI-generated facial expressions mapped to music

AI artist Mario Klingemann used Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), one of the primary techniques to create deepfake videos, to make this incredible, unsettling, and wonderful video that facial expressions to music. (Song: "Triggernometry" by Kraftamt, 2014). Check out another deepweirdfake from this series below.

One more of those. This one needs a bit of patience. And to be unmuted.Song: "Dropping out of Lightspeed" by Kraftamt, 2013 #StyleGAN2 #realtime #aiart

— Mario Klingemann (@quasimondo) March 31, 2020

(Thanks, Jeff Cross!)

Are you sufficiently wealthy and interesting to stay in this luxy pandemic retreat

This is satire, right?

Harbor is a community of makers, thinkers, and doers that can become your sanctuary. Harbor will give you an opportunity to meet, mingle, and collaborate with some of the brightest, forward-thinking individuals - no facemask required.

The villa is located in Southern California, and the exact location will be provided to the program participants once they are accepted.

Standard bedroom (bathroom shared with one other room) - $3000 per month

Premium bedroom (with full private bathroom) - $4000 per month

Deluxe bedroom (full private bathroom+office) - $6000 per month

Where's my Juul

Full Tac and Lil' Mariko's Where's My Juul is a funny song and video from the before time, going viral again due to its thematic relevance to people slowly going bonkers at home. The tiktok lipsync below by Maile Hammahz is fab; probably best not to watch late at night.


Watch till the end 😳 this took 6 hours ⚠️FLASHING LIGHTS + FAKE BLOOD⚠️ ##hawaii ##foryou ##fyp ##sfx

♬ Where's My Juul?? - Full Tac (feat. Lil Mariko)

The Quaranzine, a collaborative Instagram zine documenting life and thoughts during COVID-19

More wonderful art creation in the face of the fear and fuckery of COVID-19.

View this post on Instagram

March 30 / @louiegilot

A post shared by The Quaranzine (@the_quaranzine) on Mar 30, 2020 at 4:00pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

March 29 / @sarahmirk

A post shared by The Quaranzine (@the_quaranzine) on Mar 29, 2020 at 6:25pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

March 27 / @kirkreedstrom

A post shared by The Quaranzine (@the_quaranzine) on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:57am PDT

View this post on Instagram

March 19 / @srothmullet

A post shared by The Quaranzine (@the_quaranzine) on Mar 19, 2020 at 3:34pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

March 18 / @og.thanks

A post shared by The Quaranzine (@the_quaranzine) on Mar 18, 2020 at 12:42pm PDT

Subscribe to the feed here.

[H/t Rudy Rucker]

Image: Art by @kirkreedstrom, Instagram screengrab

Dolly Parton is going to start reading us bedtime stories starting on April 2nd

Pangalactic goddess of love, mercy, and big hair, Dolly Parton, is going to start reading us all bedtime stories, beginning on April 2nd (7pm EDT).

Weekly, Dolly will be reading selections from her Imagination Library, the collection of kids books that she gives away free to children every month, to the tune of 134 million books to date. Her first reading will be The Little Engine That Could.

Dolly plans to do the readings for ten weeks and sees the effort as a way of offering kids (and all who want to listen) “a welcomed distraction during a time of unrest.”

Dolly will be doing the readings every week from her YouTube page.

Image: YouTube

Everyday objects up close

An relaxing compendium of macro photos of everday objects such as eggs, leaves and donuts, except for the loud reality-TV "zooming in" sound effect that makes you think Gordon is about to start shrieking at them.

Note the unnerving macro-scale resemblance of instant coffee to chicken nuggets.

Florida Pastor arrested after encouraging people to come to church in person during the coronavirus lockdown

To pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, the head of Revival Ministries International, telling people not to infect each other with a potentially deadly virus is a "First Amendment threat" to Christian ministries. "Because the climate change narrative for global governance failed, they are using the World Health Organization to then come in and take over the control of nations and then they are going to bring in vaccines," he previously said about COVID-19.


Unsurprisingly, Howard-Browne continued to hold religious services at his Megachurch in Tampa Bay — despite the warnings of police, or the overwhelming encouragement by the global public to cut down on large social gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus. Howard-Boone did also livestream the services, which is how video got around of congregants packed shoulder-to-shoulder during this past Sunday's Mass. Which is how the police found out about it.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Howard-Browne was arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency, said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister.

“Because of the reckless disregard of public safety and after repeated requests and warnings, I worked with our state attorney, Andrew Warren, to obtain a warrant for unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules, both of which are second degree misdemeanors,” Chronister said. “Our goal here is not to stop anyone from worshiping, but the safety and well-being of our community must always come first."

State Attorney Andrew Warren added:

I’d remind the good pastor of Mark 12:31, which said there’s no more important commandment than to love thy neighbor as thyself. Loving your neighbors is protecting them, not jeopardizing their health by exposing them to this deadly virus.

Jerry Falwell's evangelical Liberty University also encouraged students to return to campus and continue classes this past weekend, a decision which has already resulted in positive coronavirus tests.

Pastor of Tampa church that held two large Sunday services arrested, jailed [Tony Marrero / Tampa Bay Times]

Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too [Elizabeth Williamson / The New York Times]

Image via YouTube

That home office may be your office for a while. These accessories can bring it to life.

There are definite benefits to the whole work from home thing. The commute is a breeze. The dress code is supremely casual. And your boss has to work a lot harder to actually find you.

Despite the joys, there are still some clear downsides to the whole home office thing as well. Job focus can suffer. Boundaries between work life and home life can blur. And sometimes, working from your dining room table just doesn’t put you in the right frame of mind to do the job.

We can help with that one.

Below are a handful of cool accessories that can help turn your home workspace into something a little more official.  From your chair to your wall art to the very air you breathe, each of these items can start changing any room into the office you’ve always wanted.

Breathe right

From the stale recycled air of your real workplace to the leftover odors of last night’s fish fry dinner in your kitchen, the air you breathe sets the stage for your workday.

You can start that day in a zenned-out place with Langria Soy Wax Scented Candles ($14.99; originally $32.99). This set of 6 attractive glass-encased aromatherapy candles with sensual and calming smells like mint, lemon, rose, lavender, and vanilla work great for yoga, meditation..or for dealing with communication or tech frustrations at your remote desk.

For those battling rooms that are too hot, too cold or just too darn drafty, the Twin Energy Saving Door Draft Stopper ($16.99; originally $41.99) is a double-sided insulated draft guard that creates an air-tight seal on your door to help regulate temperature, save money on energy costs and even keep pesky insects at bay.

Of course, nothing clears the air like a solid purifier, so the TechCare Smart Air Purifier with HEPA Filters and Silent Comfort ($109.99; originally $189.95) brings an advanced three-stage filtration system with high-efficiency filters to help swab 99.97 percent of air particulates while knocking down odors, dust, mold or allergens in your air.

Or you can try out the medical-grade filters in the world's smallest commercial particulate sensor, the Wynd Plus: Smart Personal Air Purifier with Air Quality Sensor ($174.99; originally $199.95). Just the size of a water bottle, this portable air station not only kills 99 percent of mucus and other pathogen-carrying particles out of your air using anti-microbial silver, it’s also constantly monitoring your environment and issuing warnings so you can make any needed fixes to stay healthy.

Get comfortable

There may be no bigger factor in your day to day productivity than how you sit as you try to get everything done.

And since comfort is king, the Loungie Micro-Suede 5-Position Adjustable Modern Flip Chair ($159.99; originally $518) is ready with five different tilt positions so you can sit, lean or even fully recline your way. And if a long day should turn into a long night, you can even turn into into a makeshift mat, mattress or a bed to catch a few winks before you …read the rest

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