Coyotes on the streets of San Francisco

While coyotes are occasionally spotted in San Francisco's parks, the shelter-in-place mandate has seemingly made the beautiful animals more comfortable wandering around the mostly empty city. From SFGATE:

There has been an increase in coyotes in the city over recent years. In February KQED reported that they were thought to be recolonizing the places they used to inhabit abundantly after being nearly wiped out through poisoning and hunting from the '40s onwards. After years of zero sightings in San Francisco, a coyote was seen in the Presidio in 2002, thought to have been brought over from a trapper in the North Bay or possibly even making its way alone over the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then numbers have continued to rise.

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Russian gearheads make the quietest car exhaust using 9 mufflers

The Russian gearheads of Garage 54 outfitted a car with nine mufflers to almost entirely dampen the exhaust system. While you may not hear this Max Max mobile coming, it's still hard to miss.

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Kubrick/Kraftwerk t-shirt

Years ago, Philip Anderson, founder of the great Cinefile Video store in Los Angeles, and designer Bob Bianchini created a genius line of t-shirts that combined the names of auteur directors with the iconic logos of excellent bands: Herzog/Danzig, Bunuel/Bahaus, etc. Today I just noticed this fantastic Stanley Kubrick shirt that references Kraftwerk's Radio-Activity album!

See them all at Cinemetal T-Shirts. Read the rest

The Harlem Globetrotters' Fred "Curly" Neal, RIP

The legendary Fred "Curly" Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters died this morning. He was 77. I remember the first time I saw the Globetrotters as a kid in the late 1970s. I was disappointed when the team was introduced and Curly was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly, one of the players tore off another's afro wig and we realized it was Curly in disguise! From ESPN:

"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions."

Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, talk shows, television shows and even cartoons that included the team's own animated series [first episode below].

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How To Train Your Robot, a free kids book by an engineer and his 10-year-old daughter

My buddy Ken Goldberg, a UC Berkeley professor of robotics, his 10-year-old daughter Blooma, and science communicator Ashley Chase wrote a delightful children's book called How to Train Your Robot! Illustrated by Dave Clegg, the story, about a fourth grade robotics club, is a fun and understandable introduction to how deep learning can help robots gain new skills in the messy, unstructured human world.

Thanks to support from the National Science Foundation and UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, How to Train Your Robot is available as a free PDF online and student groups can request free hardcopies!

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Enjoy this rather weird social distancing flipbook animation

The Flippist presents "Social Distancing... A Flipbook," inspired by Kirsten Lepore's wonderful "Hi Stranger" (2017) and Juan Delcan's "Safety Match" (2020). Read the rest

John Lennon called this song "one of the greatest strange records"

Rosie and the Originals' "Angel Baby" (1960) is a classic doo wop ballad, beloved (and covered) by John Lennon. Lennon was a fan of the flipside of that record too, "Give Me Love," but only because it's wonderfully awful. From Jonathan Cott's book Days That I Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon & Yoko Ono:

"This is really one of the greatest strange records,” [Lennon] remarked. “It's all just out of beat, and everyone misses it. The A side was the hit, 'Angel Baby'— which is one of my favorite songs — and they knocked off the B side in ten minutes. I'm always talking Yoko's ear off, telling her about these songs, saying, 'Look, this is this! This is this... and this... and this!'"

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

"Old gas blob from Uranus found in vintage Voyager 2 data"

Yes, that is actually Space.com's brilliant headline on this story about a new discovery from data collected in 1986 by NASA's intrepid spacecraft. When the probe neared Uranus (heh heh), it measured the planet's surrounding magnetic field. Recently, NASA scientists Gina DiBraccio and Daniel Gershman analyzing Voyager's old data found a "wobble" in Uranus's magnetosphere indicating a plasmoid, a bubble of plasma traveling away from the planet. From Space.com:

Scientists have studied these structures at Earth and nearby planets, but never at Uranus or its neighbor Neptune, since Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to date ever to visit those planets.

Scientists want to know about plasmoids because these structures can pull charged particles out of a planet's atmosphere and fling them into space. And if you change a planet's atmosphere, you change the planet itself.

And from the "plain language summary" of their scientific paper published in Geophysical Research Letters:

Uranus possesses an intrinsic magnetic field that encircles the planet and influences the local space environment. The solar wind plasma, made up of charged particles, flows away from the Sun and interacts with Uranus' magnetic field to form what is called a “planetary magnetosphere.” By understanding dynamics of the magnetosphere, we are able to learn how changes in the Sun can impact the planet's space environment but also how magnetic fields and plasma are circulated throughout the system. In this work, we analyze data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft during the Uranus flyby in 1986. The data revealed a helical bundle of magnetic flux containing planetary plasma, known as a “plasmoid,” in the tail of the magnetosphere.

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Vacuum and hand dryer maker Dyson designed a new ventilator for COVID-19 patients

British inventor James Dyson announced that his company has spent the last week designing a new ventilator for COVID-19 patients and will ship 10,000 of them early next month to support the UK's National Health Service. He's also donating 5,000 more of them to international initiatives. From CNN:

Dyson said the company had designed and built an entirely new ventilator, called the "CoVent," since he received a call 10 days ago from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.,P"This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume," Dyson added, saying that the new ventilator has been designed to "address the specific needs" of coronavirus patients....

"The core challenge was how to design and deliver a new, sophisticated medical product in volume and in an extremely short space of time," he added. "The race is now on to get it into production."

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Harsh but funny way to get your neighbors to turn down their music

Love thy neighbor! To a point, anyway. Matt O'Brien suggests that if your neighbors are playing their music too loud for you to handle, you might be able to hijack their Bluetooth speaker with the below song he recorded just for that occasion. It's pretty catchy!

(Thanks, Jeff Cross!) Read the rest

An eerily beautiful drone video of shutdown San Francisco

Dan Denegre (Space Race Studio) used his DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone to shoot this eerie yet beautiful video of San Francisco on pause. The soundtrack is "La Guitarra Triste" by Cast of Characters.

"Thankfully few people are outside (I wasn't even close to a person), but seeing the shops boarded up is tough to see," Denegre writes. "I made sure the drone wasn't a nuisance to anyone while shooting this short documentary of this...very weird time in San Francisco."

(Thanks, Imaginary Foundation!) Read the rest

O'Reilly Media shutters its conference business forever

O'Reilly Media's events, from the old Emerging Tech Conference and OSCON to FOO Camps and Strata, have long been energized and productive gatherings of geeks from around the world. Communities were forged there and emerging ideas were accelerated to action. I have fond memories of those real-world scenes, including the 2005 ETech Conference, one of the very infrequent times Xeni, Mark, Cory, and I were all in the same place. Photo evidence below. Sadly, O'Reilly president Laura Baldwin has announced the shutdown of O'Reilly's in-person events division. That marks the end of an era in computer culture. From O'Reilly:

It has been a rough few weeks as we’ve seen the COVID-19 virus take a toll on our livelihoods, our families and the world economy. People are losing their lives, and businesses are suffering in the shadow of revenue losses and a volatile stock market. The virus has had a material impact on O’Reilly’s in-person Events division as well. We previously made the painful decision to cancel our Strata California and Strata London events. Today, we’re sharing the news that we’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel all future O’Reilly in-person conferences and close down this portion of our business. Without understanding when this global health emergency may come to an end, we can’t plan for or execute on a business that will be forever changed as a result of this crisis. With large technology vendors moving their events completely on-line, we believe the stage is set for a new normal moving forward when it comes to in-person events.

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Turn a plastic bottle into a bidet

CuloClean is a portable gadget that turns a plastic bottle into a bidet. I can't vouch for its efficacy but it seems like a useful alternative to wiping your bum, especially as toilet paper has become a high-value currency. Apparently CuloClean supplies are also running low but it seems like you could make one yourself that would at least approximate this $9 gadget's utility. From CuloClean:

You can easily regulate water intensity by exerting more or less pressure to the bottle. This way you will get perfect results, better than using toilet paper or wipes.

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

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This fellow ran a marathon on his apartment balcony

Elisha Nochomovitz, 32, was disappointed that the Barcelona Marathon was cancelled due to the coronavirus so he ran the distance on his apartment balcony instead. His girlfriend fueled him up with soda and candy along the way. From UPI:

Nochomovitz said it took him 6 hours and 48 minutes to complete the approximately 3,000 laps that it took to run the distance of a marathon.

The runner, who has completed 36 official marathons, said the balcony run was more challenging than his previous runs because the short track made it impossible to build momentum or speed while running.

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NASA: No, that UFO plainly seen in our space observatory footage isn't a UFO

NASA's STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) research platform consists of two orbiting spacecraft that collect stereoscopic data about the sun and the eruptions of magnetized plasma during coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Last month, UFO buffs spotted a strange object in data acquired by STEREO, specifically what appears to be a wheel-shaped UFO. The footage made the rounds online (example above) spurring NASA to explain the anomaly. Turns out, it's... Venus. Bummer. From NASA:

Some people have noticed an odd shape, sort of a cross inside a circle, entering the field-of-view of the HI2 telescope on STEREO Ahead around February 20,2020. Eventually there is a cone shape that appears next to it. You can see the feature in question in this movie moving from right-to-left, just below the trapezoidal occulter on the right side of the image. The answer lies on the exact opposite side of the image. At the same time as this strange-looking feature starts being visible, the very bright planet Venus enters the HI2-A field-of-view from the left. Notice that Venus and the feature stay in step almost exactly opposite each other across the middle of the detector. This is not a coincidence. The strange looking geometrical "object" is actually an internal reflection of the planet Venus within the telescope optics. This effect has been seen many times before. Here's a particularly striking example of internal reflections caused by the planet Earth as seen early in the STEREO mission, taken from our image artifacts pages.

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Check out Money Mark's fantastic daily musical experiments!

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You don’t wanna miss *tomorrow’s post* it’ll be good. But for now this experimental piece inspired by John Cage. Been washing my hands so much in the basin—made me think of Water Music. My classic CR-78 and metal meets water. Our world, our habitat is a giant experiment! In geological time—-we’ve been here for the tiniest fraction. C’mon, let’s make it good. Everybody In. March 17,2020 #isolationjams

A post shared by Money Mark (@moneymarkofficial) on Mar 17, 2020 at 3:45pm PDT

My pal Money Mark, longtime key(board) collaborator with the Beastie Boys, is one of the most creative and inspiring music makers I've ever met. Since California's shelter-in-place order began, he's been sharing daily "Isolation Jams" on Instagram! The truly "experimental" music brings me great joy. See more below and @MoneyMarkOfficial. Here's what Mark told me:

Making Isolation jams is a daily meditation. I call them 'Song Poems’ or ‘Sound Poems,' an exercise I’ve kept for years. Only now, I realize, documenting them and posting the audio/video is helping others. Routine is power like the sun rising and setting.

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Isolation jams number 9. Feedback studies I did in the 90’s spawned over a dozen pieces inspired by #johncage ...@realkidkoala Kid Koala and I toured the world together and I would open the show by walking thru the crowd with a boom box and microphone; taped on the back, a small drum machine and an echo pedal. Jimi Hendrix made it popular and I thought I’d take it to the next level.

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Yale University's hugely popular "Science of Well Being" happiness class is now free online

Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos's course “Psychology and the Good Life" is the most popular class in the history of the university. Now it's available for anyone to take for free remotely through Coursera. The public online version of the class is called the "Science of Well-Being." From the description:

In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

More about the course: "‘The Science of Well Being’: Yale’s most popular class ever available via Coursera" (Yale) Read the rest

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