• NTSB determines dive boat operator to blame for horrific fire and deaths

    My friends and I spent a lot of time diving with Truth Aquatics. More often we dove the Vision, but I spent many weeks on the Conception as well.


    The National Transportation Safety Board has placed the blame for the dive boat fire that killed 34 people on the vessel's owners.

    The five-member board ruled unanimously on Tuesday that it was a lack of oversight by the owners, Truth Aquatics Inc., that led to the 2019 fire — one of California's deadliest maritime disasters.

    Investigators said that the burning and sinking of the Conception had made it impossible to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire. But they noted that the blaze started near the back of the deck in the boat's salon, where divers had plugged in smartphones and other devices containing lithium-ion batteries.

    A sister vessel of the Conception, the Vision, had earlier experienced a fire caused by cellphone chargers, The Washington Post reports – but that fire was detected early and quickly put out.

    I used to look forward to sleeping in those tiny bunks below deck and found them to be strangely comfortable — tucked in a small box being gently rocked as I listened to music on headphones. I really longed for that week or two.

  • Brilliant satirist Tom Lehrer's catalog now in the public domain

    Tom Lehrer has released all his works into the public domain. We have til 2024 to download them, however, when it appears his website will go down.

    I, Tom Lehrer, and the Tom Lehrer Trust 2000, hereby grant the following permission:
    All the lyrics on this website, whether published or unpublished, copyrighted or uncopyrighted, may be downloaded and used in any manner whatsoever, without requiring any further permission from me or any payment to me or to anyone else.
    Some lyrics written by Tom Lehrer to copyrighted music by others are included herein, but of course such music may not be used without permission of the copyright owners. (The translated songs may be found in their original languages on YouTube.)
    In other words, all the lyrics herein should be treated as though they were in the public domain.
    In particular, permission is hereby granted to anyone to set any of these lyrics to their own music and publish or perform their versions without fear of legal action.
    This permission applies only to the lyrics on this website. Most of the music written by Tom Lehrer will be added gradually later with further disclaimers.
    Note: This website will be shut down on December 31, 2024, so if you want to download anything, don't wait too long.

  • I'm very happy with this IPX7 waterproof, battery-powered portable soundbar

    I wanted to listen to music or the news outside without wiring anything up. The Soundcore Motion+ is perfect for both my yards and camping trips.

    I have two yards that are mildly cluttered. If things go as they usually do, I probably won't know where I want all the BBQs, tables, chairs, hammocks and swings for a few years. I might keep moving them around forever. Wiring speakers in place without knowing where I am going to be sitting has left me dissatisfied in the past.

    The Soundcore Motion+ sounds great for an outdoor speaker. This 30w battery powered BT speaker sounds about on par with the 100w KLH outdoor speakers and amp I don't want to wire in place.

    I have not tried it paired with another — but evidently you can set two Motion+ to work as stereo soundbars, which would put out more than enough sound for any party I will ever throw.

    There is speakerphone functionality when paired to your phone, but thus far all that has provided me is annoying keyclicks as I message while paired and the occasionaly "How do I get this call on my headset?" moment. A friend tells me they successfully use it, but I am doing the Mr.Magoo-trying to-program-the-vcr thing when I play with it.

    At the price I am super happy with the sound, portability and build.

    Soundcore Motion+ Bluetooth Speaker with Hi-Res 30W Audio, BassUp, Wireless Speaker, App, Custom EQ, 12H Playtime, Waterproof, USB-C, For Home Office via Amazon

  • Jetpack maker doubts reports of jetpack flyer near LAX because no one told him they were going to illegally fly one there

    Airline pilots have reported seeing what they think is someone in a jetpack flying around the skies near Los Angeles International Airport. NBC News spoke with a gentleman who makes jetpacks.

    Details of the sightings so far are scant — on Aug. 30, pilots from two different airlines saw what one American Airlines employee described as a "guy in a jetpack." This week's sighting was apparently seen by a crew on a China Airlines flight.

    Federal authorities are investigating the sightings, but David Mayman, chief executive of the Los Angeles-based Jetpack Aviation, said Thursday that he doesn't believe what the pilots and crew members are seeing are indeed jetpacks.

    "There are only a handful of companies working on this type of technology, and none of us have heard about anybody doing something like this," he said.

    "The question is," he added, "why the heck would you go fly around LAX? You need to have your head read. That's a catastrophic accident waiting to happen."

    Mayman's company, which was established in 2016, has produced five jetpacks, he said, noting that all of them are under "lock and key." Only two people have those keys — Mayman and his chief engineer — and none of the packs have been sold, he said.

    I guess airline pilots should have their vision checked.

  • Blue Corn: An Iowa House Truman Fund / Field Team 6 Fundraiser 10/18/20, 8pm ET, 7pm CT, 5pm PT

    This Sunday Boing Boing favorites Puddles Pity Party and 2 Headed Dog join Field Team 6 and the Iowa House Truman Fund to raise funds to turn Iowa blue.

    Blue Corn: A joint Iowa House Truman Fund / Field Team 6 Fundraiser 10/18/20, 8pm ET, 7pm CT, 5pm PT

    The hilarious Greg Proops hosts "auditions" for the big State Fair talent show.

    Featuring: Puddles Pity Party, Tom Arnold, Senator Bob Kerrey, Duck's Breath Mystery Theater, Lissie, Terry O'Quinn & Kate, Nicole Atkins, Kashena Sampson, Tom Arnold, Toby Huss, Randee of the Redwoods, Annalibera, 2 Headed Dog, Wayne Wilderson, Steven Banks, Mark Fite, Jefferson White, Michael & Maebel Rayner, Track IX, Jane Edith Wilson, The Amazing Marawa & Majorettes, Humanity Studios, MarKaus and more…

    This is a joint fundraiser with the Iowa House Truman Fund and Field Team 6.

    The Iowa House Truman Fund is the political arm of Iowa House Democrats. We are the only state-wide organization which directly supports Democrats running for the Iowa House. Your support is critical to our ability to recruit, train, and fund essential Iowa House races.

    It also appears that the immortal Duck's Breath Mystery Theater will be performing.

  • Trump's 'miracles coming down from God' rely on fetal tissue from abortions

    The hypocrisy knows no bounds, but this is what we expect from Trump.

    Technology Review:

    This week, President Donald Trump extolled the cutting-edge coronavirus treatments he received as "miracles coming down from God." If that's true, then God employs cell lines derived from human fetal tissue.

    The emergency antibody that Trump received last week was developed with the use of a cell line originally derived from abortion tissue, according to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed the experimental drug.

    image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr / (CC BY-SA 2.0)

  • Review: Star Wars Squadrons with a VR headset and full HOTAS is a thing of dreams

    Star Wars Squadrons, the latest Star Wars space combat flight simulator is here and almost everything I have ever wanted in a video game or a career.

    Months ago, early in the pandemic, one of my BFFs convinced me to buy an Oculus Quest. She and her community of friends had been building some interesting environments in VRChat, getting drunk and dancing around. I tried it, then played some Beat Saber and then thought, "I hope they come up with a game I like!"

    …and then Star Wars Squadrons was announced with full VR and HOTAS support.

    I pre-ordered the game. While I wasn't excited to put on a hot, heavy set of goggles to wiggle around in a Cthulhu skin and dance with my friend, I was instantly ready to don said headset and blast mother fucking Imperial TIE Fighters out of my sky.

    Aside from perhaps flying one GunStar against the entire armada, a desperate battle against incredible odds, I can not imagine a thing I'd rather do than fly for the New Republic.

    Minus 20-30 minutes of dickery with getting the order right on when you boot up the headset and enabling 'the Rift S Link' to work, Squadrons delivers an incredible experience.

    The Oculus Quest is merely an OK headset, there is some screen tearing and FPS issues that can be headachy — but overall, I am immersed. With a throttle, stick and rudder pedals my entire body is engaged in flying whatever ship I am in.

    I needed to do a little customizing of controls to get the rudder integrated. I still am moving a few things around on the HOTAS. The Thrustmaster T.Flight X kit I found has a lot of buttons and it does take a bit of time to figure out what does what. Learning is a bit problematic when wearing the VR headset as you can not see the numbers on the buttons to during the tutorials. It might make sense to run them on your monitor and then again with the VR on.

    The story is wonderful and serves as good training for multiplayer. Multiplayer is pretty amazing, however EA still has yet to come up with a really good, seamless and intuitive friend finding, partying up and matchmaking system. I have played with a friend, I think I now know how to make it happen in under 10 minutes.

    The game play is wonderful.

    The X-Wing and TIE Fighter are fun, but the A-Wing is just the best thing ever. The slower moving, heavier fighters get you used to the action and then the A-Wing just tears it up. Flying in and around wrecked Imperial destroyers, through debris fields and around giant asteroids — all with a Star Wars soundtrack, sound effects and dialogue running.

    Star Wars Squadrons is a pretty wonderful way to lose yourself in some fun right now.

    p.s. the Quest 2 will be better but this is certainly good enough.