• The passenger in this car is a real dummy

    We've posted about drivers putting mannequins in the passenger seat to drive in the HOV lane without getting nabbed by the fuzz. This latest example, seen on the California Highway Patrol, Baldwin Park's Instagram, gave me a chuckle though. Maybe it's the period appropriate surgical mask. Even the CHP said that it's "By far, one of the best dummies we have ever seen." Pandemic attire aside though, that dummy's got nothing on my favorite carpool mannequin of all time, the artisanal model seen below:

    More at: 15 Hilariously Awful Dummies Used by Busted Carpool Lane Cheaters as Fake Passengers

  • Massachusetts school administrator resigns after calling colleague a "kike" on live TV and referring to himself as "an Archie Bunker"

    In Lowell, Massachusetts on Wednesday, Robert Hoey, Jr., an elected member of the city's School Committee, was hosting his live cable access talk show "City Life" when he referred to a former public school board employee as a "kike."

    "We lost the kike, I mean the Jewish guy. I hate to say it but that's what people used to say behind his back – Gary Frisch … He was the guy in charge of our budget," Hoey said.

    From the Boston Globe:

    About eight minutes later, Hoey attempted to offer an explanation, saying, "I said a bad name," and "I shouldn't say those nasty names about people."

    "I'm an Archie Bunker, OK?" Hoey said, referencing the conservative, working-class character in the 1970s sitcom "All in the Family" who was driven to distraction by the anti-war youth culture of the time.

    "So, I do say some crazy stuff," he said later. "I love when they say, "Black lives matter.' I like to say, 'How about Puerto Ricans? How about white guys? Do we matter?'"

    Many people called for Hoey's resignation and the Jewish Journal reports that he finally obliged this morning in a Facebook video. From the Jewish Journal:

    This is not Hoey's first public comment that has riled Jews. In 2018, the Lowell Sun reported that Hoey had called a Lowell radio talk show that was discussing North Middlesex Registry of Deeds Richard Howe Jr. On the show, Hoey said that Howe managed the registry like "Hitler."

  • Enjoy a 3D-printed "steak analog" that "chews like sirloin" and "pulls like pork"

    Barcelona-based Novameat used a 3D printer to extrude a mix of lab-grown animal and plant cells into the largest ever cut of "meat analog." Founder and CEO Giuseppe Scionti is no stranger to in vitro proteins: He was previously a Polytechnic University of Catalonia research professor focused on tissue engineering for biomedical applications. From IEEE Spectrum:

    Novameat's microextrusion technology, which produces 100–500 micrometer-wide fibers from different ingredients and combines them in precise ratios and organized microstructures, is key to mimicking the mouthfeel, taste, appearance, and nutritional properties of animal meat, says senior food engineer Joan Solomando Martí. The three-year old startup has been using vegetable fat and non-soy plant proteins to make realistic 3D-printed steaks.

    The latest 3D-printed whole-cut prototype was made with the company's new hybrid meat analog, which they make by adding mammalian fat cells to a biocompatible plant-based scaffold. The cells are grown separately using traditional cell culturing techniques, and then added to the scaffolds, where they produce fatty acids or proteins. "This allows us to create beef muscle cuts, pork muscle cuts, and we are now also exploring fish and seafood."

  • Alien skull seen in new Mars Rover image and other fun anomalies spotted on the Red Planet this week

    The above extraterrestrial skull was spotted in the high-resolution 360-degree panorama image captured this week by NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. Cosmic Log presents a fun gallery of anomalies and curiosities folks have found in Perseverance's postcards from the Red Planet.

    "Rover spots 'alien skull' and other Mars oddities" (Cosmic Log)

  • Sticky note printer

    Amazon recently launched Day1 Editions where they present new product ideas and only make the ones with significant pre-orders. Of the three products they're starting with, only their Smart Sticky Note Printer, a small Alexa-connected thermal printer, has hit the order threshold to go into production. The "special price" for pre-orders is $89.99. At least it won't ever need ink refills.

    And if you're keen on an Alexa-connected Smart Cuckoo Clock or Smart Nutrition Scale, those are both about halfway to their "pre-order goal" with a few weeks to go.

  • Artists outfitted robot dog Spot with a paintball gun in commentary on futuristic killer robots, just as NYDP deploys the same robot

    On Tuesday, the New York Police Department reportedly unleashed Spot, the state-of-the-art robotic dog from Boston Dynamics, to do reconnaissance at a home invasion crime scene in the Bronx. Then yesterday (coincidentally?), art collective MSCHF launched their "Spot's Rampage" installation in which the robot dog was outfitted with a paintball gun that the public could control via this Web interface. Visitors to the Website used their mobile phones to control Spot and fire paintballs at statues and other targets within the white wall gallery.

    From MSCHF:

    Spot is an empathy missile, shaped like man's best friend and targeted straight at our fight or flight instinct. When killer robots come to America they will be wrapped in fur, carrying a ball[…]

    Everyone in this world takes one look at cute little Spot and knows: this thing will definitely be used by police and the military to murder people. 

    Unsurprisingly, Boston Dynamics wasn't pleased:

    "Provocative art can help push useful dialogue about the role of technology in our daily lives," the company wrote in a statement. "This art, however, fundamentally misrepresents Spot and how it is being used to benefit our daily lives."

    All of this reminds me of machine performance group Survival Research Laboratory's pioneering 1995 experiment in which a lethal robotic projectile launcher in San Francisco was remotely controlled via the Web by operators in a Japan office building. The target? A massive photo of yours truly.

    (via The Art Newspaper, thanks Ken Goldberg!)

  • Trippy new experiments in "Magic Eye"-style autostereograms

    "Magic Eye" autostereograms were all the rage in the 1990s. You'd stare at the strange pattern, cross your eyes slightly, and a 3D image was meant to appear. Sometimes it worked for me, other times not. But in the moment when an image did emerge, I'd feel a strange meditative calm come over my mind and body, as if another universe had been revealed to me. Then I'd get a headache. In photographer/writer David Friedman's Ironic Sans newsletter, he reveals his undying appreciation for autostereograms beginning with a 1991 article in the great Omni magazine. Friedman introduces us to Scott Pakin, a computer scientist who creates fascinating and fantastic stereogram experiments. About the image above, Pakin writes:

    Do you see pictures of faces or vases? (Look particularly at the top and bottom rows.) Here, I wanted to see if I could incorporate a Rubin vase—with my own shaggy profile— into an autostereogram. An SVG version of Faces and Vases is also available.

    From Ironic Sans:

    [Pakin] has around 75 of them, and they all stem from different ideas he wanted to try, like:

    • Can you make a stereogram that includes lighting effects?
    • Could you take a photo that's a stereogram?
    • Could you make a stereogram that's also a valid QR code?
    • What about a stereogram that's also an optical illusion?

    Here's another fun one:

    Pakin: "Observe how the colors in this image vanish when viewed as a stereogram. Pretty neat, huh? I aligned complementary colors in such a way that they cancel each other out when overlapped, and that seems to have worked exactly as intended."

    images: Scott Pakin (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

  • Crazy photo: Wild sheep with insanely overgrown wool sheared of its 78 pound sweater

    This is Baarack, a merino ram found wandering around regional Australia. Normally, sheep—which do not shed—must get an annual haircut. Fortunately, a nonprofit animal sanctuary called Edgar's Mission came to the rescue. See the "after photo" below along with a video of the shearing.

    From The Guardian:

    The hirsute ovine was found near Lancefield in Victoria, and rescuers said he had "eked out an existence" eating small shoots of grass.

    "He had at one time been ear-tagged, however these appear to have been torn out by the thick, matted fleece around his face," Behrend said. "He was in a bit of a bad way. He was underweight and, due to all of the wool around his face, he could barely see."

    (Thanks, Tim Daly!)

    images: Edgar's Mission

  • Driving techniques for escape and evasion

    If you find yourself behind the wheel in a situation where you're being pursued, I hope you've familiarized yourself with the lessons in this fine 1983 booklet Getaway from anarcho-libertarian publishers Loompanics, now available for free reading at the Internet Archive. Inside, "veteran dirt track racer and survivor of several demolition derbies" Ronald George Eriksen 2 explains the finer points of the Bootlegger's Turn, ramming, cornering, and even how to make smoke screen with a plant sprayer and castor oil. Oh yeah, don't try any of this.

    From the preface:

    Many people have become concerned with the dramatic rise in assassinations and kidnappings in recent years. A great number of these attacks have occurred while the victim was in his automobile. The purpose of this book is to instruct the reader in the proper handling of his vehicle in the event of such an attack.

    The skills of a grand prix driver are not necessary to learn these maneuvers. A few days of practice is all that is required. The time spent practicing is trivial when you consider what might happen if you are not prepared.


    From Getaway: "The moonshiner's turn is another slick maneuver pioneered by the mountain people of the Southern United States. Looking like a bootlegger turn in reverse, the moonshiner's turn allows you to change your direction 180 degrees within the confines of a two lane road, while going backwards. The proper procedure for this maneuver is as follows (see Figure 7): (1) Accelerate in reverse to 20-30 mph. (2) Get off the gas and crank the steering wheel all the way to the left as fast as you can. (3) When the car is at 90 degrees, shift into low gear, hit the gas, and straighten out the steering wheel. (4) Get out of the area fast."
    From Getaway: "To practice ramming, go to your local auto junkyard and buy three running wrecks. Move all three to an unused parking lot or abandoned airfield and practice per the directions in this chapter. For safety's sake, wear a helmet and a seat belt. You might also want to remove all the glass from the vehicles. Make arrangements to have the cars towed away when you are done, as you are going to have three non-running wrecks on your hands. Property owners tend to have bad feelings towards those who litter their land with junk vehicles."

    (via Weird Universe)

  • Buy this ranch and Area 51 will be your next-door neighbor

    Around 140 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada, there's a cattle ranch for sale with a noteworthy next-door neighbor. For $4.5 million, you can own the 80 acre ranch abutting Area 51, the classified military base where new aerospace technology is tested and extraterrestrials chill on ice as their crashed craft are reverse engineered.

    Among amenities like 750 heads of cattle, two homes, a barn, a shop, and feedlot pens, the ranch includes the iconic Black Mailbox (seen below) that the Los Angeles Times called "the most photographed mailbox in the world." According to that article, Steve and Glenda Meldin bought the ranch in 1973 when "there was no talk of aliens, and no home mail delivery.""

    "For some reason, Tuesday nights was when they thought the aliens came out. Then it was Wednesdays," Glenda Medlin told the Times. 

    Here is the ranch listing.

    (via Fox10)

  • "Baby Shark" is real and here's a photo to prove it

    On Saturday, Abdullah Nuren, 48, accidentally caught a pregnant shark off Pepela, Indonesia. When he gutted the shark, he found three pups inside, including the real Baby Shark. Sad.

    "My home has been crowded with people who want to see the shark," Nuren reportedly said. "Many people want to buy it, but I will preserve it instead. I think it will bring me good luck."

    (VIVA.co.id via New York Post)