• Margaret Atwood says the Supreme Court is making The Handmaid's Tale a reality in the U.S.

    In the leaked Supreme Court draft that reverses Roe v. Wade, Justice Alito defends the majority opinion by saying the Constitution does not mention abortion. But the constitution doesn't mention women at all. When it was written, women were considered the property of white male landowners, the only people who counted in America at the time. That means the Supreme Court can make any ruling it wants to take away women's rights, says Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale.

    In her essay in The Atlantic, she says the ruling is dragging America in the direction of Gilead, the fictional post-America society run by theocratic authoritarians in her novel.

    The Alito opinion purports to be based on America's Constitution. But it relies on English jurisprudence from the 17th century, a time when a belief in witchcraft caused the death of many innocent people. The Salem witchcraft trials were trials—they had judges and juries—but they accepted "spectral evidence," in the belief that a witch could send her double, or specter, out into the world to do mischief. Thus, if you were sound asleep in bed, with many witnesses, but someone reported you supposedly doing sinister things to a cow several miles away, you were guilty of witchcraft. You had no way of proving otherwise.

    Similarly, it will be very difficult to disprove a false accusation of abortion. The mere fact of a miscarriage, or a claim by a disgruntled former partner, will easily brand you a murderer. Revenge and spite charges will proliferate, as did arraignments for witchcraft 500 years ago.

  • This little desk is great for working in bed or on a couch

    I bought a small desk so I could work in bed and on the couch. It came pre-assembled and is sturdy. I can adjust the height and angle, and it has rubber stops along the bottom edge to keep my computer from sliding off. It's much more comfortable than resting my laptop on my thighs.

    Put it on a regular desk and now you have a standing desk.

    My wife and I also use it to watch movies in bed. Interestingly, my typing accuracy is better with this desk than it is when I'm at my regular desk.

  • Twitch streamer panics during kitchen fire

    Twitch streamer Kjanecaron was in the middle of doing a cooking demonstration when something greasy in the skillet caught fire. She tried to extinguish the skillet in the sink, but it only spread the flames. She starts saying things like "oh fuck," "I don't know what to do," and "help!" and then runs off-camera.

    If you think she should get a fire extinguisher you're in good company. About 1 million commenters have told her to get one.

  • Is "Hourly Pornhubbed Heathcliff" the best bot on Twitter?

    Supreme killjoy Elon Musk says he doesn't like Twitter bots. If he gets rid of Hourly Pornhubbed Heathcliff I'll be sore at him. It's the greatest détournement since Dysfunctional Family Circus.

    Here's how the bot works:

    • take a comic
    • load random pornhub video
    • grab random comment
    • mix & tweet

    Relatively SFW samples:

  • 2022 is a good year for this Sunday's "Super Flower Blood Moon"

    Big news for the Moon this Sunday and Monday — it has a lot to look forward to! First, it will be full, which is always an occasion for joy. It will be a "supermoon" because it will be close to the Earth, making it especially big and bright. If that's not enough, it will also be in the shadow of the Earth, giving it a momentary break from the harsh rays of the Sun and giving Earth's fauna (at least those on the United States' East Coast) the opportunity to marvel at a total lunar eclipse. And during the eclipse, it will glow with an eerie blood-like color, "caused by all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth shining on the Moon at the same time," according to NASA.

    We are grateful to you, Moon. You were a child of the Earth, set loose by your father, Theia. You have faithfully remained in orbit around your mother for 4.425 billion years, providing our oceans with a lively gravitational tug and our evenings with a fantastic cool luminescence. You are a muse to our bards, a shield against meteorites, and a compass for countless creatures. Thank you for your beauty, your mystery, and your service to our planet. Life on Earth would be dreary without you. Enjoy your Super Flower Blood Moon moment. We are proud of you, Moon! And we will be watching you closely on Sunday and Monday, courtesy of NASA's live video feed.

  • The Phantom Queen is an awesome optical illusion

    Watch this video but get ready to hit pause at the 11-second mark, so the secret isn't revealed before you savor the apparent magic of a chessboard queen that appears only in a mirror reflection of a chessboard. What's more, the queen seems to move of its own volition. How is it done? Press play, and the secret is revealed. The way it's done is clever, but I was disappointed sorcery wasn't involved.

  • Espresso consumption linked to increased cholesterol

    As a 4-espresso-shots-per-day person, I don't take kindly to the results of a study from Norway that found "consumption of 3–5 cups of espresso daily was significantly associated with increased serum total cholesterol.

    From the Neo.Life newsletter:

    A population-based study of 21,083 male and female coffee drinkers in Northern Norway, all 40 years old or older, has found an association between espresso consumption and serum total cholesterol. Taken from self-assessments collected in the Tromsø Study in Northern Norway, the study compared espresso drinkers to people who drank coffee made in plunger carafes versus filtered pour-over machines versus people who drink instant coffee. The most important finding, according to researchers at the Arctic University of Norway who conducted the study, was that espresso consumption was significantly associated with increased serum total cholesterol—though they write that further research on the association between espresso and serum cholesterol is needed to inform actual recommendations regarding coffee consumption.

  • Google Maps is turning the world into one huge SimCity model

    Coming soon to Google Maps — a new way to navigate cities in the form of highly detailed digital models that look like 3D movies. Here's how "Immersive View" is described on the Google Blog:

    Thanks to advances in computer vision and AI that allow us to fuse together billions of Street View and aerial images to create a rich, digital model of the world — we're introducing a whole new way to explore with Maps. With our new immersive view, you'll be able to experience what a neighborhood, landmark, restaurant or popular venue is like — and even feel like you're right there before you ever set foot inside. So whether you're traveling somewhere new or scoping out hidden local gems, immersive view will help you make the most informed decisions before you go.

    The first cities to get the SimCity treatment will be Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

  • After you die, your eyes continue to see for up to five hours

    Scientists have succeeded in bringing dead eyes back to life, proving that "photosensitive neuron cells in the retina can still respond to light and communicate with each other up to five hours after death, sending signals 'resembling those recorded from living subjects,'" reports The Telegraph. While it sounds like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe tale, the finding suggests that brain death might be reversible, which also sounds like a Poe tale.

    Lead author Dr Fatima Abbas, of the Moran Eye Centre at the University of Utah, said: "We were able to wake up photoreceptor cells in the human macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for our central vision and our ability to see fine detail and colour.

    "In eyes obtained up to five hours after an organ donor's death, these cells responded to bright light, coloured lights and even very dim flashes of light."

    Another scientist at the Universtity of Utah, Dr. Frans Vinberg, said, "Retina is part of our central nervous system so we think similar things might be seen also in the other parts of the brain.""

  • Concussions can cause changes in gut bacteria

    Researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have discovered that brain injuries, such as concussions, can change your gut bacteria.

    From New Atlas:

    The Houston Methodist team investigated this further by tracking 33 college football players over the course of a season, collecting blood, stool and saliva samples at three intervals along the way to build a picture of their gut microbiomes.

    Following instances of concussion, the team found a decrease in levels of two bacterial species that are normally abundant in healthy individuals. They also found correlations between proteins linked to traumatic brain injuries in the blood and bacteria linked to brain injuries in the stool. These may be the result of inflammation, caused by the concussion, that alters the proteins and molecules circulating through the body, breaching the intestinal barrier and reshaping gut bacteria and metabolism.

    Study author Sonia Villapol says, "Until your gut microbiome has returned to normal, you haven't recovered. This is why studying the gut is so useful. It doesn't lie. And that is why there is so much interest in using it for diagnostic purposes."

  • Video: Nightmarish clip of a house being washed to sea in North Carolina

    This North Carolina house is so disgusted with NC congressman Madison Cawthorn that it decided to break free of its stilts and drift somewhere far away from the young fascist lawmaker.

    From WCNC:

    The Cape Hatteras National Seashore said an unoccupied house collapsed at 24235 Ocean Drive in Rodanthe, prompting officials to close that segment of the beach to protect people from the large debris. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore said more homes could collapse this week as the Carolina coast is impacted by the storm

  • Poster ads for Adidas sports bras banned in the UK for showing breasts

    After receiving 24 complaints about Adidas' sports bra ad with a "boob grid," UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the advertisement. This is probably what Adidas was going after when they created the ad.

    Harriet Williams of Yahoo News says the ban is stupid:

    I think they're missing the point. Adidas' sports bra ad is daring in the very best sense of the word. It's inclusive and diverse and shows how different our breasts can be. I'm fed up with seeing sports bras modelled exclusively by thin, toned – usually white – women with small breasts. If I'm looking for a high impact, supportive sports bra, I want to know that the brand has people with boobs outside of the compact, high-set ideal in mind.

    The Adidas ad feels joyful to me. It feels like a tiny step in the right direction. I don't believe it sexualises women – the ad is honest, rather than styled or posed for the purpose of titillation. I've seen far raunchier posters on the side of buses for lingerie from high street retailers, even those aimed at older women. As for reducing women to body parts: granted the chest of each model is the only area displayed – but I don't buy a sports bra to wear on my face.

  • Elon Musk thinks people should work in factories 24 hours a day

    Unctuous mergers-and-acquisitions tycoon Elon Musk thinks poorly of Americans. Unlike Chinese workers, he says, Americans don't want to work in factories until 3 am for subsistence wages to enrich the owners.

    "They won't just be burning the midnight oil, they will be burning the 3 am oil, they won't even leave the factory type of thing, whereas in America people are trying to avoid going to work at all," Musk said at an FT Live event.

    Some might say this is a gross misrepresentation of American workers, the vast majority of whom work hard every day to support themselves and their families. But Musk is the world's richest person, so he can't be wrong.

    And of course, what Musk doesn't mention is that the Chinese workers he's lauding are often forced to work in horrible conditions, with long hours and little rest, and that they're not given the same protections as workers in developed countries. But as long as they're making Musk richer, that's all that matters.

    [via Yahoo Finance]

  • The Qanon Queen of Canada said not to pay utility bills. Her followers were shocked when their service was cut

    Qanon folks in Canada are perplexed as to why their utilities stopped working after the queen of their nation, a very stable genius named Romana Didulo told them they didn't need to pay their bills.

    From Vice:

    "Dear (Queen Romana), when will the service companies stop shutting off our services for nonpayment?" one follower asked Didulo recently. "I just had my water supply shut off today in Stratford, Ontario."

    Didulo, a Victoria, B.C.–based woman in her 50s or 60s, had little to no public profile until about two years ago. The short, soft-spoken Filipino immigrant has since rocketed to popularity over the last two years—thanks to other QAnon (a big-tent conspiracy movement that revolves around a secret war against a cabal of pedophilic elites) personalities giving her far-fetched claims of essentially running Canada from the shadows a giant boost. Since being "confirmed" by other QAnon influencers, her reach has grown to include over 70,000 followers on Telegram, many of whom follow her in real life. 

    Queen Romana explained to her subjects that "those sending the bills are robots," which I'm sure was of tremendous comfort to people who no longer have service. Thank you, Queen Ramona, for your leadership and your dedication to your subjects!

  • iPod, RIP (2001 – 2022)

    It's the end of an era. After 20 years of producing iPods, Apple has announced it will discontinue the $199 iPod Touch after the current inventory sells out. The iPod was Apple's first major success in consumer electronics.

    Before the iPod, music fans carried portable CD players or low-capacity portable MP3 players. The first generation iPod was released in 2001, and it was a revelation. It held 1,000 songs, and it was small enough to fit in your pocket. Throughout the years, Apple released several different iPod models. The iPod Nano was a cute smaller version of the iPod. Display-free iPod Shuffles clipped to your clothes and were the smallest and cheapest iPods. The iPod Touch was a portable music player and a semi-smart phone that didn't have phone service. All of them are gone, moldering in drawers or being sold on eBay as dubious collectors' items.

    The iPod changed the way we listen to music and led to the rise of digital music. It was a game-changer, but it won't be missed because it has been replaced by the smartphone.

  • Another day, another weird death for a Russian oligarch — this time it's from toad venom to cure a hangover

    Russian oligarchs keep dying under mysterious circumstances and no one knows why. Many of held high positions in the energy sector. Some were poisoned, some were defenestrated, some were shot or hanged, and others have simply vanished. It's almost as if someone wanted them dead, but who?

    The latest oligarch to say dasvidaniya to this vale of tears is oil tycoon Alexander Subbotin. He was found dead in his shaman's basement in the industrial city of Mytishchi near Moscow. According to The Independent, Subbotin went to receive a dose of toad venom to cure a nasty hangover.

    Subbotin visited the shaman, Magua, and his wife at their home, the Telegram channel Mash claims, to treat a hangover using toad venom.

    "They made an incision on the skin, dripped toad poison there – and after vomiting the patient allegedly got better," the channel said.

    Mash also claims that Subbotin knew the couple for a long time and had regularly used their services.

    But then things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, according to Newsweek:

    The billionaire allegedly went to the shaman's home "in a state of severe alcoholic and drug intoxication the day before" his death, a source told TASS. His body was discovered in a room of the basement reportedly used for "Jamaican voodoo rituals."

    Local news outlets reported that Subbotin went to the shaman in search of a hangover cure, which allegedly involved toad poison. However, these claims have not been confirmed by law enforcement, and other details of what happened to cause his death remained unknown as of Monday afternoon.

    While the cause of Subbotin's death remains unclear, one thing is certain: if you have been considering becoming a Russian oligarch in the energy sectorr, you might want to rethink your career choice.

  • Side-by-side videos reveal Ted Cruz's unfortunate mental deterioration

    I have sad news to report. Senator Ted Cruz is exhibiting the same signs of chronic, severe memory loss that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has suffered as of late.

    The video below shows side-by-side clips of Senator Cruz talking about the January 6 attempt to overthrow the United States government, taken 16 months apart.

    On May 9, 2022, Cruz said:

    On January 6 of 2021. You had tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting and yet, the corporate media and Democrats slander them with the made-up term "insurrectionist."

    But in January 2021, Cruz said quite the opposite:

    As we see terrorists assaulting police officers, tragically murdering a police officer. We see a violent assault on the Capitol, we see terrorists breaking onto the floor of the Senate chamber and the floor of the house. And all of us are horrified. We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. And it is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol. And yet, in this instance, they are not willing to call off their goons even now even now as this has the potential to escalate.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Senator Cruz and his family during this difficult time. We can only hope that he and Congresswomen Greene will be able to receive the help they so desperately need.

  • Flatland is one of my favorite Math(ish) books

    I love books about math, especially ones that aren't textbooks but rather about the history, philosophy, and wonder of mathematics. In the most recent issue of my newsletter, The Magnet, I wrote about three of my favorite math(ish) books. Here's one of them:

    Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions

    A. Square's view of the one-dimensional world of Lineland

    Flatland, A Romance of Many Dimensions is a delightful little illustrated novella from 1884 by Edwin Abbott. It's told from the perspective of a two-dimensional being, A. Square (he's square-shaped), who travels to a one-dimensional world (Lineland) and a three-dimensional world (Spaceland). A being from Spaceland introduces him to the concept of an additional dimension, but at first, A. Square cannot grasp it. Eventually, he comes to understand that there are worlds of not only three dimensions but of four and beyond.

    The book centers around the idea that our perceptions and ability to understand the world are determined by our senses and our brains' ability to process information. Our brains have evolved to make us good at understanding the world in the ways that help us survive. But the reality of the world is not limited by our perceptions.

    The writing is very accessible, given the fact that it was written 138 years ago. Here are the book's first two paragraphs:

    I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.

    Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows — only hard and with luminous edges and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe": but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.

    The world of Flatland itself is fascinating, with its complex social interactions among shapes, biological functioning of flat creatures, and architectural innovations.