• Olivia Newton-John, RIP (1948-2022)

    Olivia Newton-John, universally beloved pop singer and star of the musical movies Grease and Xanadu, died today at the age of 73. The English-Australian singer and actor had seven Top 10 hits on Billboard's Country chart and four Grammy awards.

    She had an interesting childhood and ancestors — her grandfather was Max Born, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist! From Wikipedia:

    Newton-John was born on 26 September 1948 in Cambridge, United Kingdom, to Welshman Brinley "Bryn" Newton-John (1914–1992) and Irene Helene (née Born; 1914–2003). Her Jewish maternal grandfather, the Nobel Prize–winning physicist Max Born, fled with his wife and children to Britain from Germany before World War II to escape the Nazi regime. Newton-John's maternal grandmother was of paternal Jewish ancestry as well; through her, she was a third cousin of comedian Ben Elton. Her maternal great-grandfather was the jurist Victor Ehrenberg and her matrilineal great-grandmother's father was the jurist Rudolf von Jhering.

    Newton-John's father was an MI5 officer on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park who took Rudolf Hess into custody during World War II.

  • Elon Musk challenges Twitter CEO to a debate, Twitter says no thanks, we will proceed with lawsuit

    Elon Musk, the poor little rich boy who thinks his weak Twitter posts are sick burns because his large following of incels and sociopaths hit the like button, wants to debate Twitter's CEO about the bots on the platform.

    "I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage," tweeted the prideful troll "Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!"

    Twitter ignored the stunt and will move ahead with suing Musk for failing to live up to his promise to buy the company.

    From Ars Technica:

    Musk may be worried the trial won't focus enough on his claims that Twitter's spam numbers are accurate. "That's not what this case is about," Twitter attorney William Savitt said at the hearing on the trial date, calling Musk's spam complaint a "manufactured issue."

    Twitter wrote in a court filing last week that Musk has no right to exit the merger based on the number of spam accounts, saying the agreement contained no references to false or spam accounts. "When Musk offered to buy Twitter, he did not ask for—and Twitter did not make—any representations regarding the number of false or spam accounts," Twitter wrote, adding that "Musk forwent all due diligence—giving Twitter twenty-four hours to accept his take-it-or-leave-it offer before he would present it directly to Twitter's stockholders."

  • London police strip-search hundreds of 10-17 year-olds every year

    Euronews reports police in London strip-searched 650 children aged 10 to 17 between 2018 and 2020. Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children's Commissioner for England, said many of the strip searches were unwarranted and conducted on children who were innocent. "In a strip search, your most intimate parts are searched," she said. "For any child, that's going to be traumatic and concerning." Most of the searches were done on Black children.

    The commissioner launched her investigation following widespread outrage over the case of Child Q, a 15-year-old black schoolgirl who was strip-searched at her school in east London. 

    She was wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis.

    The strip search prompted days of protests in Hackney after it emerged the schoolgirl was searched without another adult present and with the knowledge that she was menstruating. Her parents were not contacted.

    The London Police responded to the outcry by saying it was "progressing at pace" to "ensure children subject to intrusive searches are dealt with respectfully."

  • Pro-Trump T-shirt company fined for switching "Made in China" labels with "Made in U.S." labels

    There is no greater blessing, in the eyes of a MAGA cult member, than to be hoodwinked by anyone even remotely connected to their carrot-colored god-emperor. Trump is the master of the sloppy scam, the cheap swindle, the barefaced betrayal. His devotees compete with each other to see who gets fleeced the most by him, or by his two grifting boys Uday and Qusay Trump, or by anyone aligned with the corrupt authoritarian.

    Today there is much rejoicing in christofascistland on the news that a pro-Trump apparel company, Lions Not Sheep, was caught removing "Made in China" tags from T-shirts and caps and swapping them with "Made in the U.S." Suckers who bought the ersatz shirts are delighted to have been duped and continue to wear the sacred garments with pride. Examples of the messages on the shirts include "Give violence a chance," "Let's go, Brandon," and a photo with Trump as the Terminator saying, "I'll be back."

    Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission, a deep state institution headed by George Soros, announced it was fining Lions Not Sheep $211,335 for switching the labels, a small price to pay for owning the libs.

    From Mediaite:

    The prevalent color scheme on many of Lion Not Sheep's products are a patriotic red-white-and-blue, and they've been shipping a free copy of the U.S. Constitution with every order.

    But the "Made in the USA" labels were a fraud, the FTC found, finalizing an order against Lions Not Sheep and owner Whalen for "falsely claiming that its imported apparel is Made in USA," when it was actually made in China and other countries. In a press release, the FTC announced the $211,335 fine imposed on Whalen and his company, and summarized the order's other requirements to "stop making bogus Made in USA claims" and "come clean about foreign production":

    Under the order, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep must stop claiming that products are made in the United States unless they can show that the product's final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place here and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced here.

    Also under the order, any qualified Made in USA claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients or components, or processing. Finally, to claim that a product is assembled in the United States, Whalen and Lions Not Sheep must ensure that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and U.S. assembly operations are substantial.

  • Famous French physicist's photo of Proxima Centauri was a slice of pork sausage

    French scientist Étienne Klein Tweeted a photo of a slice of chorizo against a black background, commenting, "Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us. It was taken by the JWST [James Webb Space Telescope]. This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day."

    Many people believed Klein because he is the director of research at the Atomic Energy Commission. Klien soon cleared up the confusion.

    From HuffPost France (machine translated);

    According to contemporary cosmology, no object relating to Spanish charcuterie exists elsewhere than on Earth," he wrote before adding: "I feel obliged to specify that this tweet showing an alleged snapshot of Proxima du Centaur was a form of amusement. Let us learn to distrust arguments from authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images…"

    Contacted by The HuffPost, Etienne Klein explains that his tweets had above all an educational aim. "This is the first time I've made a joke when I'm more on this network as a figure of scientific authority. The good news is that some immediately understood the deception but it also took two tweets to clarify. It also illustrates the fact that on this type of social network, fake news is always more successful than real news. I also think that if I hadn't said it was a photo of James Webb, it wouldn't have been so successful," he explains.

  • American who spent nearly 3 years in Russian prison describes his experience

    Trevor Reed, an American citizen and Marine veteran, who spent nearly three years in a Russian prison told CNN what Olympic medalist Brittney Griner can expect after being sentenced to nine years in prison for cannabis possession. Reed said Griner could end up in a forced labor camp, like he did. Reed described the food there as being "terrible; sometimes it would be just fish bones or broth of fish bones, or potato soup — it's mostly water.

    "Solitary confinement there consists of a concrete room with a hole in the floor for a toilet." He also said people in a Russian prison camp are always facing malnutrition, and that there is little to no medical attention. "Tuberculosis runs rampant in Russian prisons."

    CNN reported that Russia told the United States it is willing to discuss a prisoner swap deal that would allow Griner to return home.

  • Shirtless Australian gentleman fights car with boomerang

    If you happen to be driving through the lovely port city of Geelong in southeastern Australia, keep a sharp eye out for a shirtless man brandishing a boomerang. As you can see in this video, he lacks manners and blames others for the consequences of his poor impulse control.

    The video was recorded by the front-seat passenger of a car that the shirtless boomerang-bearer (SBB) was standing next to. SBB tries to rip off the car's side-view mirror, then leans down to stare into it. Not liking what he sees apparently, SBB head-butts the mirror before turning his attention to the driver's side window. SBB whacks the window with his boomerang, which snaps in two. He looks at the stub he still holds in his hand and screams at the driver, "You broke my fucking boomerang!"

    SBB hits the window and side view mirror a couple of times with the stub, before miraculously producing another boomering (much like Donald Duck pulling a flute from his sleeve in the 1935 Disney short "The Band Concert"), which he uses to resume beating the car.

    SBB manages to destroy the mirror with his trusty boomerang, but when the window proves to be too tough for the wooden weapon, he punches and slaps the window until it shatters. He sticks his head in the window and launches into a rant about vaccines, after which he walks back to his bright red car, which no doubt he is fond of.

    Yahoo News has an article that offers almost nothing in the way of information, much like this post.

  • What is your favorite color of noise: white, pink, brown, blue, violet, gray, or black?

    You're probably familiar with white noise generators, which insomniacs often find useful as a sleep aid. White noise is a blend of random frequencies with a flat spectrum — any frequency band has the same amount of power as any other. I find white noise to be sharp and harsh.

    Here's an example of white noise (warning — it's loud!)

    Most white noise generators don't actually play white noise — they play a "colored noise" that's more soothing. Colored noises have a blend of random frequencies, but some frequencies play at a higher volume than other frequencies. This gives the noise a "color" or distinctive tone. Here are samples of some common colored sounds:

    • Pink noise differs from white noise — every octave contains the same amount of energy, rather than every frequency band like in white noise. It's not as sharp as white noise. It's richer, deeper. It sounds like a rushing river.
    • Brown noise's power drops as the frequency increases. It sounds like pink noise off in the distance. It's lush and chocolately. I find it to be the most pleasant of all colored noises.
    • Blue noise's signal power increases with higher frequencies. It sounds like air escaping from an inflated tire. It's startling rather than soothing.
    • Violet noise is like blue noise but the power increases more sharply as the frequency increases. It sounds like a thinner version of blue noise.
    • Grey noise is designed to fit a psychoacoustic equal loudness curve "giving the listener the perception that it is equally loud at all frequencies." I could probably fall asleep to grey noise, but it's not as velvety as brown noise.
    • Black noise is silence. Here's 10 hours of it.

    Wikipedia has a good article about the colors of noise with examples for each one. 

    This originally appeared in my newsletter, The Magnet.

  • This world map shows the most notable person in every town from 3500BC-2018AD

    The Notable People world map uses data from a cross-verified database of notable people, 3500BC-2018AD to display the birthplaces of the most "notable people" around the world. The site says, "Data has been processed to show only one person for each unique geographic location with the highest notability rank."

    According to this map, David Fincher is the most notable person born in my hometown of Denver, Colorado. I think it should have been Russell Scott, who played Blinky the Clown on Blinky's Fun Club for more than 10,000 episodes beginning in 1958, "giving him the longest career of any children's TV personality in the U.S. and second longest in the entire world." [Wikipedia ]

  • This guy made a diabolical form to send spammers to password purgatory

    Troy Hunt, creator of the useful Have I Been Pwned site, wanted to exact revenge on spammers who waste his time, so he created a form that wastes their time. When a spammer emails him, he replies by saying:

    This is exciting and might empower a cutting-edge partnership! I'd like to invite you to leave your information on my special registration form, it will only take a moment.

    We look forward to exploiting the cross-platform mindshare together

    Regards,
    Troy Hunt

    "By following the link, the spammer ends up here," explains Hunt, who adds, "you're welcome to follow that link and have a play with it.

    Once the spammer gets to the form, they are asked to create an account with their email and password. But when they enter a password, they are told they must modify the password (e.g., "Password must contain at least 1 number"). But no matter how many different passwords they use, they are told they must do something else to make the password conform (e.g., "Password must contain a United States zip code," "Password must end with dog").

    Hunt receives automatic reports when a spammer falls for his trap:

    Read more about Password Purgatory here.

  • The Rolling Stones just released a 4K remaster of their 1968 song "Jumpin' Jack Flash"

    The Rolling Stones have performed "Jumpin' Jack Flash" over 1,100 times in concert. I've probably listened to it as many times, and still feel a thrill every time I do.

    This video (known as the "makeup version") was produced in 1968.

    The song was released as a non-album single in May 1968, with the excellent "Child of the Moon" on the flipside.

    Who was Jumpin' Jack? Wikipedia has the answer:

    Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards' country house, when they were awoken one morning by the clumping footsteps of his gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. Surprised, Jagger asked what it was, and Richards responded: "Oh, that's Jack – that's jumpin' Jack." 

  • In court Alex Jones testified he didn't broadcast a photo of the judge on fire, then lawyer shows jurors Jones' photo of judge on fire

    At his damages trial, Alex Jones is doing a splendid job of showing the world that he's a pathological liar. Here he can be seen being questioned by the plaintiff's lawyer about the way he hasn't been taking the trial seriously:

    LAWYER: "You've been broadcasting a picture of our judge on fire, correct?"

    ALEX JONES: "No."

    The lawyer then shows the photo of the judge on fire that Jones broadcast.

  • Video shows how MAGA politicians and Tucker Carlson are totally in line with KKK and David Duke talking points

    There was a time when white supremacists were shunned and ostracized from national politics. Today, the KKK's messaging is part of the mainstream GOP. Look at this video of KKK members of the 1970s saying things that Trump, Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Boebert, and Tucker Carlson are repeating nearly word-for-word.

  • Google has an app called Meet, and it decided to change the name of Duo to Meet. So now it has two products called Meet. Neat!

    Google's constellation of online products has long confused me. There is/was Hangouts, Hangouts on Air, Hangouts Chat, Google Chat, Google Workspace, Google Spaces, Google Talk, Google Allo, Google Currents, and probably other products I've forgotten. Now, to make things more confusing, Google is rebranding Duo and Meet, even though it already has a product called Meet.

    The Verge says it's less confusing as it seems, but I feel as confused as ever:

    If you already have Duo installed, you won't have to do anything. Last month, Google pushed a Duo update that adds the features from Meet, and today, Google's rolling out an update on iOS and Android that will change the Duo logo to the Meet icon. By September, anyone who downloads the Google Meet app will receive the new Meet / Duo combo. Google notes that duo.google.com will redirect to meet.google.com/calling over the next few months.

    Now, if you're a Meet user, you don't have to do anything right now if you just want to keep using it as it has always existed without any additional perks from Duo. Google may eventually end support for the original Meet, so just keep that in mind if you wish to continue using the app as-is. Google says it will inform original Meet users when they "should migrate to the new app experience" but doesn't specify when that will happen.

  • Video about Robert Zemeckis' "uncanny valley" CGI Films

    Robert Zemeckis is best known for directing Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, and Castaway. But his real interest was in making movies using famous movie stars as motion-capture actors for CGI puppets. Unfortunately, his ambitions were ahead of the technology of the time, so his efforts like Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, and Beowolf had characters that looked like animated corpses.

    Nerdstalgic's video about Zemeckis' uncanny valley oeuvre looks at how the director got "stuck in a digital world that never stuck with audiences."

    What Nerdstalgic said about Polar Express:

    The key element that Zemeckis overlooked was that the almost real animation style was too close to being lifelike for the general public to accept. If it had been more stylized, it would have been easier to understand and emotionally embraced. However, the film's aesthetic leaves everyone with weird plastic faces, dead eyes, bizarrely fitting clothes, and disturbingly flat mouth movements.

  • Watch this video that imagines a blockchain-governed future dystopia

    Let's assume Juan O. Savin is successful in his plan to install QAnon election officials in key states, effectively putting an end to free and fair elections. That would be unfortunate. But you can find comfort in the old saying, "Nothing is so bad that it can't get worse."

    This video, created by Wizardhead, is a scenario of one way things could get worse. It's an incoming transmission from Kleue 8chwab of the Worlo Economio Tonom.

    I'm nervous about being rerouted to Central Review Hub for biological reduction just for posting this.

    Transcript:

    Incoming transmission from Kleue 8chwab // Worlo Economio Tonom

    "Acknowledged inhabitants of the Galaktikon, this is an immediate implementation. All Tier-1 sapient grants will transact under strict social credit parameterization. Global Consent Network to process all smart contracts for officially designated essentials on genetic quantization schedule. Mandatory blackout is in effect for out-of-band and non-essential transactions. To ensure equitable enforcement, evaluator nodes are being deployed to provide oversight on all exchanges. Violators will be rerouted to central review hub for biological reduction. Transmission receipt has been recorded and compliance ledger affirms your commitment."

  • Sandy Hook mom takes the stand to try to convince Alex Jones that she and her murdered 6-year-old aren't fake

    Alex Jones, whose extraordinary disregard for human life has made him a multi-millionaire, shook his head in doubt, denial, and disagreement as one of the parents of a child murdered in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre tried to make him understand that she isn't a crisis actor and that her young son was once a living person.

    "My son existed," Scarlett Lewis said from the witness stand, looking straight into Alex Jone's eyes. "Jesse was real. I am a real mom… I know you know that. That's the problem. And you keep saying it. Why? Why? For money? Because you made a lot of money while you said it."

    Financial records show that Jones has made $165 million in the last three years selling supplements and prepper gear. He has already been found guilty of defamation; the current trial is for damages.

    "I know you believe me," Lewis continued, "and yet you're going to leave this courthouse, and you're going to say it again on your show."

    Jones continued to shake his head, no doubt wishing he could leap from his chair and scream at Lewis, but barred by the judge from doing so.

    True to form, Jones went on his show and asked bizarre questions about Scarlett Lewis and her ex-husband, Neil. Jones said Neil was being "manipulated by some very bad people… He's slow, and his ex-wife is not."

  • Mehmet Oz attacks John Fetterman for seeking to end decades of racist imprisonment policies

    Snake oil grifter Mehmet Oz, a Turkish citizen living in New Jersey who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania, is attempting to scare people away from voting for Democratic candidate John Fetterman because Fetterman advocates for releasing prisoners, particularly people of color, who pose no threat to public safety. Black people are imprisoned at a much higher rate than white people. Reasons include police planting drugs in people, giving false testimony, filling up prisons with drug addicts to make money, and simply arresting people for being black. The fact that Fetterman seeks to correct this systematic injustice greatly offends Oz.

    In a tweet, Oz linked to a pearl-clutching Daily Caller article that falsely claimed that Fetterman "sought To empty prisons while in power."

    "John Fetterman's criminals-first progressive policies have made our streets less safe," tweeted the wealthy nostrum peddler. "We need change."

    The Daily Caller's evidence of Fetterman seeking to "empty prisons" is as weak as the fake medicines Dr. Oz endorses on his daytime television program. It linked to one tweet in which Fetterman said, "PA's Correction Secretary has said: We could reduce our prison population by 1/3 and not make anyone less safe.' 2/3 of those condemned to die in PA's prison are African American. We have the power to rectify this now + we absolutely must," and another that said, "Thank you, @PATreasury. Our Corrections Secretary has said we could relaxes [sic] 1/3 of our inmates and not make anyone less safe. What if we directed those savings into our state schools?"

    If this is all Oz can muster up in way of a smear, he must be really desperate. Oz is the classic charlatan, promoting bogus "medicines" like green coffee beans and apple cider vinegar, and also endorsing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid. He has no business running for anything, let alone the Senate.