• Dig these freaky experimental dancers and robots modulating to Moog music in 1971

    In 1971 when this video was aired on UK's ATV network, the sounds of the Moog synthesizer were still strange and otherworldly to most ears. This was the era of Wendy Carlos's "Switched-On Bach," Jean-Jacques Perrey's "Moog Indigo," and Gershon Kingsley's "Music to Moog By." I dig these experimental dancers modulating their bodies to a wide spectrum of Moog grooves. Don't miss the industrial robots! Far fucking out.

  • This is Pantone's color of the year as "created" by Midjourney's AI

    Pantone's color of the year for 2023 is a bright red dubbed "Viva Magenta." At least it's not called MAGA Magenta. From the New York Times:

    The shade was selected by human trend prognosticators who survey fashion and design, then interpreted by the A.I. tool Midjourney to create what Pantone described as an "endless new ecosystem to be explored, called 'the Magentaverse.'" In a news release, the company called Viva Magenta, a.k.a. Pantone 18-1750, "an unconventional shade for an unconventional time."

    Here is what Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, had to say about the new hue:

    In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real. PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known. Rooted in the primordial, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta reconnects us to original matter. Invoking the forces of nature, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength.

  • This man took 25 hits of Molly (MDMA) every day for four years

    A gentleman referred to in a scientific study as "Mr A" took 40,000 pills of MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy) in nine years. At his, er, peak, he was gobbling an average of 25 tablets per day. Guess what? It messed him up. In 2006, psychiatrist Christos Kouimtsidis published a case report in the journal Psychosomatics. From The Face:

    Mr A didn't just use MDMA, he had a history of polydrug use ("solvents, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, LSD, cocaine and heroin") and was still smoking weed when he got help. Can we be sure that the pills alone caused this? ​"It's very difficult to establish a cause in medicine," Dr Kouimtsidis says. ​"You cannot say 100 per cent, but we can safely attribute the memory difficulties that he had experienced when I'd seen him to the heavy use of ecstasy for a prolonged period of time."

    When the researchers did memory tests with Mr A, they concluded that he was suffering from ​"disorientation to time, poor concentration and short-term memory difficulties". He had to repeat activities several times and ​"his concentration and attention were so impaired that he was unable to follow the sequence of the tasks required". When he toned the weed down it ​"led to both the disappearance of his paranoid ideas and hallucinations and a reduction of his panic attacks". But the other symptoms remained[…]

    What happened to Mr A in the end? ​"We were trying to get him into a residential unit for people with memory problems," Dr Kouimtsidis recalls. ​"And then he left that unit and disengaged from the services. That was 20 years ago."

  • Here's the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie featuring a digitally de-aged Harrison Ford

    Here's the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth in the Indy series slated for release on June 30, 2023. The film—set during the 1960s Space Race—features a digitally de-aged Harrison Ford, as seen in the trailer. Also keep your eyes peeled for what can only be a Millennium Falcon easter egg.

    "I don't believe in magic, but a few times in my life I've seen things… things I can't explain," Indy says. "I've come to believe it's not so much what you believe, but how hard you believe it."

    (Thanks, Emmett Kaufman!)

    image: screenshot/Indiana Jones trailer
  • Help wanted: "Bloodthirsty" Director of Rodent Mitigation to deal with New York City's rat problem

    The New York City Office of the Mayor is seeking a Director of Rodent Mitigation to deal with the city's brutal rat problem. Sounds like serious business even though the job posting mentions some comedic (?) qualifications:

    Do you have what it takes to do the impossible? A virulent vehemence for vermin? A background in
    urban planning, project management, or government? And most importantly, the drive, determination
    and killer instinct needed to fight the real enemy – New York City's relentless rat population?

    If so, your dream job awaits: New York's Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation.

    The Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation is a high-visibility, high-impact leadership role with one of
    the most important tasks in city government – keeping the city's rats in check and on notice. Despite
    their successful public engagement strategy and cheeky social media presence, rats are not our friends –
    they are enemies that must be vanquished by the combined forces of our city government. Rodents
    spread disease, damage homes and wiring, and even attempt to control the movements of kitchen
    staffers in an effort to take over human jobs. Cunning, voracious, and prolific, New York City's rats are
    legendary for their survival skills, but they don't run this city – we do.

    Reporting to the Deputy Mayor for Operations and in the Mayor's Office at City Hall, the Citywide
    Director of Rat Mitigation is a 24/7 job requiring stamina and stagecraft. The ideal candidate is highly
    motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty, determined to look at all solutions from various angles, including
    improving operational efficiency, data collection, technology innovation, trash management, and
    wholesale slaughter.

    Qualifications also include "proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint."

    (PIX11)

  • Here's the horrifying trailer for Cocaine Bear and the true story that inspired the film

    In 1985, a 175-pound black bear died of a cocaine overdose. The animal found a stash that was dropped from a drug smuggler's airplane. That story is the inspiration for Cocaine Bear, a new movie about a blow-addicted bear that goes on a rampage. Directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., and the late Ray Liotta, hits screens February 24. From the New York Times:

    Today, the very same bear is said to be on display in Lexington, Ky., at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall. The mall said in an August 2015 blog post that workers there wanted to know what happened to the bear and found out it had been stuffed. The blog post says the stuffed bear was at one point owned by the country singer Waylon Jennings, who kept it in his home in Las Vegas, before it was delivered to the store. (The New York Times could not independently confirm this account.)

    What happened to the bear in its final days, or hours, after the cocaine binge is a mystery, but the origins of the cocaine are not.

    Mr. Thorton was a known drug smuggler and a former police officer. He was found dead the morning of Sept. 11, 1985, in the backyard of a house in Knoxville, Tenn., wearing a parachute and Gucci loafers. He also had several weapons and a bag containing about 35 kilograms of cocaine, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

  • Elementary school evacuated due to active shooter that turned out to be loud science experiment

    Granger Elementary in West Valley City, Utah was evacuated on Monday after loud noises prompted the school to execute their active shooter protocol. A teacher heard what sounded like gunshots and dialed 911. Turned out, the sounds were coming from a science classroom where the teacher was demonstrating model volcanoes. More than 20 police cars and a helicopter arrived on scene and worried parents rushed to the school. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

    According to district policy, teachers are supposed to let others in a school know when lessons could include loud, planned noise like that. But that didn't happen Monday, [district spokesperson Ben] Horsley said.

    "I want to be clear: If somebody sees something or they hear something that makes them feel uncomfortable, they absolutely should report it," Horsley said Monday afternoon. "In this particular case, it would've been helpful also for the reporting teacher to also notify the front office. The front office and nobody else was aware of any potential circumstance prior to police showing up in droves."

  • William Gibson's Neuromancer coming to Apple TV+

    Jack in. William Gibson's profoundly-influential 1984 cyberpunk novel Neuromancer is coming to Apple TV+ and Miles Teller (Fantastic Four, Top Gun: Maverick) is apparently the studio's first choice to play protagonist Case. According to The Illuminerdi, Gibson is an executive producer and Graham Roland (Lost, Jack Ryan) is a writer, producer, and showrunner. Production is slated to begin in summer 2023. From The Illuminerdi:

    Neuromancer is additionally currently casting the female lead, Molly. They are looking for an actress in her 30's or 40's, who is physically fit. Molly is a mercenary, who was recruited by the same person as Case. The character is supposed to resemble Trinity from the Matrix films. It is intended that Molly will carry over as the lead for a potential Season 2 and 3.

    Lastly, Neuromancer is casting Linda Lee, Case's love interest. They are looking for an actress in her 20s or 30s for a recurring role.

  • Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, RIP

    The great Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac songwriter and keyboardist, died today at age 79. I'm a lifelong fan of Fleetwood Mac's California cocaine trilogy of Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, and Tusk LPs that included greatest hits written by McVie like "Say You Love Me," "Over My Head," "Don't Stop," "You Make Loving Fun," "Songbird," and "Think About Me." From the New York Times:

    In just half an hour, she wrote one of the band's most beloved songs, "Songbird," a sensitive ballad that for years served as the band's closing encore in concert. In 2019, the band's leader, Mick Fleetwood, told New Musical Express that "Songbird" is the piece he wanted played at his funeral, "to send me off fluttering."

    Ms. McVie's lyrics often captured the more intoxicating aspects of romance. "I'm definitely not a pessimist," she told Bob Brunning, the author of the 2004 book "The Fleetwood Mac Story: Rumours and Lies." "I'm basically a love song writer."

    At the same time, her words accounted for the yearning and disappointments that can lurk below an exciting surface. "I'm good at pathos," she told Mojo magazine in 2017. "I write about romantic despair a lot, but with a positive spin."

    Ms. McVie's vocals communicated just as nuanced a range of feeling. Her soulful contralto could sound by turns maternally wise and sexually alive. Her tawny tone had the heady effect of a bourbon with a rich bouquet and a smooth finish. It found a graceful place in harmony with the voices of Ms. Nicks and Mr. Buckingham, together forming a signature Fleetwood Mac sound.

    "It was that chemistry," she told Mojo. "The two of them just chirped into the perfect three-way harmony. I just remember thinking, 'This is it!'"

    image (cropped): Fleetwood Mac publicity photo
  • French baguette, Chinese tea, and Arabic coffee now have UNESCO protection

    The French baguette is now under UNESCO safeguarding as an item of "intangible cultural heritage." The bread is joined by a number of other global foods, traditions, and crafts. From this year's additions to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list:

  • Spectacular selfie of NASA's Orion spacecraft, the Earth, and the Moon

    NASA's Orion spacecraft captured his spectacular selfie from a distance of 268,563 miles from Earth, the farthest a spaceship built for humans has ever gone. The first mission in the Artemis program—which in 2025 (at the soonest) will return humans to the Moon for the first time since 1972—Orion traveled approximately more than 40,000 miles beyond the Moon and will return to the Earth on December 11. The image above was taken by a camera mounted on one of Orion's solar arrays.

    You can track the Artemis I mission in real time here.

  • Woman on plane bit fellow passenger and attempted to open the exit door mid-flight because Jesus told her to

    On Saturday, a woman on a Southwest flight from Houston, Texas to Columbus, Ohio attempted to open an exit door mid-flight. The 34-year-old shoved a flight attendant as she lunged for the exit door and attempted to open it. After the flight attendants restrained her, she requested a window seat but was denied the privilege. Further enraged, she again tried to open the door but was tackled by another passenger who she then bit on the thigh.

    According to an FBI complaint, she had informed he other passenger that "Jesus told her to open the plane door."

    The pilot made an emergency landing in Arkansas where the woman was arrested and the bitten passenger received a hepatitis shot and antibiotics.

    "The woman faces two federal charges: assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction and interference with flight crew members and attendants," reports Yahoo! News.

  • Pong is now 50 years old. Here's the story of its invention.
    gif: pong74ls/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)

    Fifty years ago this week, Atari installed the first Pong machine in a Silicon Valley bar called Andy Capp's. The world was never the same. Back in 1999, I wrote a feature for Salon about Pong co-creator Nolan Bushnell and how porting table tennis to the television launched a revolution in hand-eye coordination and on-screen entertainment. From my article, titled "The adventures of King Pong":

    While studying engineering at the University of Utah, Bushnell divided his moonlight hours between a job working at an amusement park and playing Spacewar, an early computer game popular among pointy-head types with late-night access to massive university mainframes. That's when the first light bulb popped in Bushnell's Spacewar-inspired brain: incorporate a computer component into the analog amusement park's midway. A good idea, but …

    "When you divide 25 cents into an $8 million computer, there ain't no way," he realized before graduating in 1967 and relocating to California to work for an electronics company.

    All the late nights Bushnell spent in an ad hoc research facility, formerly his daughter's bedroom, led to Computer Space, a Spacewar-esque stand-alone video game produced by a small arcade-game manufacturer called Nutting Associates. The game bombed — the learning curve was too steep and the payoff too minimal to entice partyers in the bar environments Computer Space was designed for. Still not discouraged, Bushnell hired a young engineer named Al Alcorn and, as on-the-job training, asked him to build what would become a blockbuster.

    "We were going to build a driving game," Bushnell said in a 1983 Playboy interview. "But I thought it was too big a step for him to go from not knowing what a video game was to that. So I defined the simplest game I could think of, which was a tennis game, and told him how to build it. I thought it was going to be a throwaway, but when he got it up and running, it turned out to be a hell of a lot of fun."

    Nutting passed on the product, as did other game manufacturers, so Bushnell decided to go it alone. The name of his new company? Atari, a term from the Japanese game Go that loosely translates as "check."

    In November 1972, Pong was unleashed in the belly of the high-tech beast, a bar named Andy Capp's in Silicon Valley. The boom was born and the dawn of the digital age was shining brightly on Bushnell. He built a rock-, beer- and pot-fueled corporate culture that attracted the brightest nerds in the valley, including Steve Wozniak, who would later be co-founder of Apple Computer. Atari finished fiscal 1973 with $3.2 million in sales, a sign of appreciation from a couch potato culture finally able to affect the image on a TV screen.

    Other successful games followed and in 1975, the electronic entrepreneur set his sights on the American family. A $99 TV console version of Pong introduced the first joystick generation to "interactive" entertainment at home.

    The secret to winning at Pong? "Avoid missing ball for high score."

  • San Francisco Supervisors vote "yes" on police robots' use of deadly force

    Last night, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted yes on a policy approving police use of robots that can use lethal force. The policy was passed 8 to 3. Authorizing a robot to kill can only come from one of two San Francisco Police Department top officials. From the SF Chronicle:

    "There could be an extraordinary circumstance where, in a virtually unimaginable emergency, they might want to deploy lethal force to render, in some horrific situation, somebody from being able to cause further harm," Supervisor Aaron Peskin said to his colleagues, describing the police's justification for wanting to kill someone with a robot[…]

    While the department said it has no plans to outfit robots with a gun, the robots in its arsenal could be equipped with explosive charges to breach structures containing violent suspects or used to contact or incapacitate violent suspects "who pose a risk of loss of life to law enforcement," Rueca said[…]

    But several supervisors remained deeply skeptical that police need the extraordinary ability to kill someone with a robot. Supervisors Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Shamann Walton voted against the policy.

    "This is a local police force here to protect us. This is not the U.S. military that we are arming," Preston said at the board meeting. "There is serious potential for misuse and abuse of this military-grade technology, and zero showing of necessity."

  • Buddhist temple empty after monks test positive for meth

    A small Buddhist temple in Phetchabun, Thailand is empty after the four monks there, including the abbot, tested positive for methamphetamine. From BBC News:

    The monks were reportedly removed from the temple after police administered urine tests on Monday, which saw all four men fail. Officials did not say what had brought the temple to the attention of police.

    Mr Thintapthai told AFP that the "temple is now empty of monks and nearby villagers are concerned they cannot do any merit-making".

    Merit-making is an important Buddhist practice where worshippers gain a protective force through good deeds – in this case by giving food to monks.

    The tweaking monks probably weren't very hungry anyway.

  • Do cruise ships have morgues?

    People die everywhere, all the time. It should be no surprise that cruise ship operators must sometimes deal with deaths at sea. Apparently an average of 200 people die on cruise ships every year. Where do they put the bodies? As Snopes points out, "Older people spending longer periods of time on cruises means an increased likelihood that some will die of natural causes during their trips." Snopes quotes from a 2015 article in The Telegraph:

    Ocean-going ships are legally required to have both body bags and a morgue (they mostly have space for three or four bodies, but it depends on the size of the ship). The latter must be kept away from the food storage areas. Very occasionally, the morgue might not be big enough – a Columbia News Service report from 2007 quotes Ross A. Klein, a sociologist from Toronto and author of "Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Ship Industry." On one cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon "the morgue was filled, and they had to start finding other places to put the bodies," he said.

    According to one cruise line, some ports insist bodies are off-loaded as soon as possible – this is done discreetly using an exit away from the passenger gangway. A death certificate is then issued and the body repatriated to its home country[…]

    Other ports allow the body to stay on board and return home, which saves a lot of paperwork. It also means the spouse can continue their holiday. And yes, that does happen, according to one cruise line insider.

  • What did Coast to Coast AM's Art Bell really believe?

    For a decade, Art Bell had the ears and minds of late night AM radio with Coast to Coast, his talk show exploring high weirdness of all kinds—from extraterrestrial conspiracies to doomsday scenarios, remote viewing, and Bigfoot. Sometimes, Bell himself became part of the "real life" X-files he addressed on the show. In 2018, a few years after retirement, Bell died at his high desert home (and former studio) in Pahrump, Nevada of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. But who was Bell? What did he actually believe and how much was he humoring his far-out guests? From a profile by Jesse Robertson in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

    In what he termed "the Quickening," a quasi-millenarian interpretive frame for Coast's diverse subjects, Bell observed that in "many areas of our lives the gravity of events seems to be intensifying," leading towards monumental change at the turn of the century. "The world is not the same, not a place to feel safe in."[…]

    What exactly Bell believed was admittedly hard to pin down. He leaned libertarian but was a self-described "political mutt," having supported Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 and independent candidate Ross Perot in 1992, warmed to Bill Clinton, and enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama. Despite engaging with theories of illicit governmental activities at the highest levels, it seemed he could never decide whether governmental reform or abolition was the solution. Speaking to Skeptical Inquirer in 1998, he was adamant that he regarded Coast's subject matter as "absolute entertainment" that was broadcast for one reason: business.

    On air, however, Bell developed sociological and scientific theories and detailed his own UFO sightings. Most importantly, he let people talk. He didn't cut his guests off or interject unnecessarily — except when he interrupted white supremacist Tom Metzger to say, "I am married to a brown-skinned Asian woman. What does that make me?" To which Metzger replied, "A traitor to your race."

    Coast's participatory format allowed for folkloric narrative construction and community formation that transcended Bell's role as its host. The ambiguity and, at times, contradiction between Bell and his programming didn't change what Coast had become for its listeners — in fact, it was so in spite of it.

  • Three migrants stowed away on a ship's rudder for 11-day voyage from Nigeria

    Three migrants from Nigeria stowed away on top of an oil/chemical tanker's rudder for an 11-day voyager from Lagos to the Canary Islands. That's where the Spanish coast guard rescued the men. From The Guardian:

    Perilous crossings to the Canaries from north Africa have increased dramatically since late 2019 after checks on Mediterranean routes were tightened.

    In October 2020, four people stowed away on the rudder of an oil tanker from Lagos, hiding for 10 days before they were discovered by police as the vessel came into Las Palmas.

    Spanish data shows migration by sea to the archipelago jumped 51% in the first five months of the year compared with a year earlier.

    Each year, thousands of people die along the way.

  • Rats ate 400+ pounds of cannabis seized as police evidence

    "Rats are tiny animals and they have no fear of the police," a judge in India's Uttar Pradash state said, referring to multiple cannabis cases where rodents apparently ate the evidence. Police in the region claim that in recent years, rats inside the police stations have devoured hundreds of pounds of cannabis that was seized in drug busts. From the BBC News:

    Judge Sanjay Chaudhary said in an order that when the court asked the police to produce the seized drug as evidence, it was told that 195kg of cannabis had been "destroyed" by rats.

    In another case involving 386kg of the drug, the police filed a report saying "some" of the cannabis was "eaten up by the rats".

    Judge Chaudhary said some 700kg of marijuana seized by the police was lying in police stations in Mathura district and that "all of it was under danger of infestation by rats".

    He said the police had no expertise in dealing with the matter as the rats were "too small". The only way to protect the seized goods from "such fearless mice", he added, was to auction the drugs to research labs and medicine firms, with the proceeds going to the government.