• This is the Cadillac of cat litter scoops

    I bought a Durascoop cat litter scoop about five years ago because the little plastic scoop I'd been using for a couple of years had gotten flimsy from use and would often buckle at the handle.

    The Durascoop is made from cast aluminum and will never bend. It easily shaves off hardened clumps of litter from that litter box that would cause a plastic scoop to fold in half. It's actually a beautiful looking tool, too. If Raymond Loewy designed a scoop, it would look like this (except maybe the handle wouldn't be covered with textured plastic).

  • Study reveals that cat brains are smaller than they used to be

    Domestication has caused cat brains to shrink.

    "Our data indicates that domestic cats indeed, have smaller cranial volumes (implying smaller brains) relative to both European wildcats (Felis silvestris) and the wild ancestors of domestic cats, the African wildcats (Felis lybica), verifying older results," state the authors of a new paper published in the January 2022 issue of Royal Society Open Science.

    From Science Alert:

    Cat brain size is something that researchers have been looking into since the 1960s and 1970s, and this trend of smaller brains appearing in domesticated animals has also been observed in sheep, dogs, and rabbits. It certainly seems that something significant is going on here.

    The researchers put forward an existing idea that natural selection for tameness in domestication leads to the production of fewer neural crest cells in the animals (linked to excitability and fear). That in turn could feasibly lead to changes in stress response, brain size, and overall body morphology.

    African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris lybica), Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahri desert, South Africa. (Gaston Piccinetti/Shutterstock.com)
  • San Jose, California becomes first U.S. city to require gun owner insurance

    An ordinance requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance and pay an annual fee passed the San Jose city council Tuesday night by a vote of 8-3. It will go into effect in August. The measure is the first of its kind in the country.

    From The Week:

    There are 55,000 homes in San Jose that have at least one registered gun, CBS News reports. The liability insurance would cover losses or damages stemming from the accidental use of a gun, including death or injury. The annual fee, which would likely be $25, would go to "harm-reduction" programs for domestic violence, mental health, and suicide prevention services, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

    A number of gun rights groups have vowed to sue to block the new law.

  • Here's an easy way to cheat in Wordle

    If you would want to "beat" competitive friends and family members at Wordle but have no desire to play the game, use this bookmarklet designed by Review Geek to provide the answer on the first try.

    The writers at Review Geek like to win a game of Wordle without any tricks. At least, that's what we thought when we still had our daily win streaks. This last week of Wordle has kicked our collective butts, so naturally, we developed a handy tool that gives us each day's Wordleanswer in a single tap or click.

    Our Wordle cheat tool works in both desktop and mobile browsers, and it only reveals answers when you're ready to cheat. Plus, it's a simple bookmarklet, not a browser extension, so it doesn't run in the background or need any updates.

    If you don't want to cheat, Review Geek recommends using a good starting word. They say the best one is roate (definition: learning by repetition).

  • Check out this clever design for a toddler seat at a Japanese food court

    This is a toddler seat at Terrace Mall Matsudo in the Chiba prefecture. As you can see, there's no danger of the kid tipping over in a high chair, and the kid's parents can face the kid, making it easy to provide the youngster with food-court victuals.

    From SoraNews24:

    As these photos from Terrace Mall show, there are six high chairs in total, positioned at different angles that are all handy for feeding, and there are a total of 750 seats in the food court, which cater to a wide range of customers.

  • Spotify chooses Joe Rogan over Neil Young

    Earlier this week Neil Young wrote an open letter to Spotify instructing them to either kick Joe Rogan off the platform or stop streaming his songs. "I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them," wrote Young. "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both."

    Spotify chose to keep Rogan. No surprise there. While Young's music is incredibly popular, Spotify has a $100 million contract with Rogan, who regularly disseminates Covid misinformation to 11 million listeners on his Spotify podcast.

    A Spotify spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter:

    We want all the world's music and audio content to be available to Spotify users. With that comes great responsibility in balancing both safety for listeners and freedom for creators. We have detailed content policies in place and we've removed over 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID since the start of the pandemic. We regret Neil's decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon.

    In a statement on his website, Young said 60% of his streaming revenue had come from Spotify:

    Before I told my friends at Warner Bros about my desire to leave the SPOTIFY platform, I was reminded by my own legal forces that contractually I did not have the control of my music to do that. I announced I was leaving anyway, because I knew I was. I was prepared to do all I could and more just to make sure that happened.

    I want to thank my truly great and supportive record company Warner Brothers – Reprise Records, for standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify. Thank You!

    Spotify represents 60% of the streaming of my music to listeners around the world, almost every record I have ever released is available – my life's music – a huge loss for my record company to absorb. Yet my friends at WARNER BROTHERS REPRISE stood with me, recognizing the threat the COVID misinformation on SPOTIFY posed to the world – particularly for our young people who think everything they hear on SPOTIFY is true. Unfortunately it is not. 

    Thank you WARNER BROTHERS for standing with me and taking the hit – losing 60% of my world wide streaming income in the name of Truth.

  • Charlie Brown's voice actor, Peter Robbins, died from suicide

    Peter Robbins, who was the voice of Charlie Brown in Peanuts cartoon TV specials in the 1960s, died last week from suicide. He was 65. Robbins began voicing Charlie Brown in 1963 and was such a fan of Peanuts that he had a tattoo of Charlie Brown and Snoopy hugging each other.

    Robbins was bi-polar, and spent four years in prison for stalking his ex-girlfriend and making criminal threats against several people, including the sheriff of San Diego County. He also spent time in a state mental hospital and a sober living home.

    In 2019 the actor told Fox 5 in San Diego about life in prison:

    During part of his stay at George Bailey Detention Center in Otay Mesa in 2015, Robbins said he was welcomed by inmates in an unforgettable way.

    "They pull you out of bed at 4 a.m.," Robbins said. "They throw a blanket over your head and beat you for 20 seconds."

    Later, at Chino Men's Prison, he encountered a shirtless inmate with a swastika tattooed from his upper chest to his waist.

    "I said, 'Listen moron, when you're in the yard, put a shirt on. I know what that symbol means and my grandfather died at the hands of the Nazis.'"

    The former child actor, who also appeared in TV series including "Get Smart" and "The Munsters," said his lowest point came in solitary confinement.

    "These people were screaming all throughout the night," Robbins said. "Plus, the guards knocked on your door every 20 minutes to make sure you're still alive."

  • Belligerent man arrested after throwing a fit because bacon was not cooked to his liking

    Is Martin Jose Alvarez (28) the next Gordon Ramsay? The 28-year-old gentleman was arrested for threatening the staff at a Florida Waffle House because their culinary skills weren't up to snuff. "You better cook the fucking bacon right!" instructed the shirtless food critic. He also shouted racial slurs at the staff to encourage them to do better.

    Police arrived and could not subdue Alavarez until they warned him that he would be tasered if he didn't comply.

    Alvarez was charged with four offenses, including disorderly intoxication, resisting an officer, and simple assault. Hopefully, the bacon is tasty in jail, which where he will reside until a hearing on February 4th.

  • Slush ejected from snowplow damages at least 40 vehicles, injures 12 in Ohio

    A snowplow driver barreling down an Ohio freeway sent a plume of slush onto the road that caused at least 12 people to suffer injuries. As the devil-may-care operator made his merry way down the turnpike, at least forty cars were damaged. The driver was temporarily relieved of his snow-removal duties pending the results of a test for drugs and alcohol.

    From WTKR:

    Because the truck was traveling at such a high speed, the snow was thrown to the other side of the highway, landing on cars driving in the opposite direction. 

    "A lot of them didn't even know what to do, they just they kind of tried to stay in their own lane and hope to weather it," Lemon said. 

    As the snow hit the cars, they lost control of their vehicles, with one car driving off the side of the road. That car, Lemon said, had a hole the size of a beach ball in the front windshield.

    Lemon said he pulled over and talked to victims of the crash, some who had arm and shoulder injuries, others who had "blood all over their faces."

    In the videos below you can see a car swerve off the road into a field and a semi-truck jackknife.

  • How to reduce your chance of dying from Covid by 99%? Get vaxxed and boosted

    Author and physician Eric Topol made a chart using data from the CDC COVID-19 Response Epidemiology Task Force that shows how much more you are likely to die from Covd if you don't get vaccinated. @OurWorldinData redrew the chart to make it look prettier:

  • Disney responds to Dinklage's Snow White criticism: we "have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community"

    On Monday, Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage was a guest on Marc Maron's podcast, where he expressed his feelings about Disney's live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. "[Y]ou're still making that fucking backward story of seven dwarves living in the cave. What the fuck are you doing, man?" he said to Disney execs by way of Maron's show.

    Disney was listening. Yesterday afternoon a Disney spokesperson told Deadline, "To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period."

    Deadline also reports that the remake is "still years away from release. The feature has been in development for three years and the reimagining of the dwarf characters is something Disney has been working on since the project's earliest stages."

  • Peter Dinklage says Disney's remaking of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is "fucking backwards"

    Actor Peter Dinklage said he would have been "all in" had Disney put a "cool, progressive spin" on its live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but instead, the studio went with a "fucking backwards" adaptation, reports The Guardian.

    Dinklage made his remarks on Marc Maron's podcast:

    I was a little taken aback by [the fact] they were very proud to cast a Latina actress as Snow White, but you're still telling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. You're progressive in one way but you're still making that fucking backward story of seven dwarves living in the cave. What the fuck are you doing, man? Have I done nothing to advance the cause from my soapbox? I guess I'm not loud enough. They were so proud of that, and all love and respect to the actress and the people who thought they were doing the right thing but I'm just like, 'What are you doing?'

  • Trumpcoin raises ire of Trump family

    "Legal action will be taken" should be the motto for the Trump family, who frequently file flimsy lawsuits as a matter of habit. This time the sue-happy clan of grifters, bumblers, and loudmouths are threatening legal action against the minters of Trumpcoin, a memecoin with a market cap of about $1.5 million.

    In a tweet last night, Eric Trump wrote: "Fraud Alert: It has come to our attention that someone is promoting a crypto currency called 'TrumpCoin' (Symbol  'TRUMP.') This has NOTHING to do with our family, we do not authorize the use and we are in no way affiliated with this group. Legal action will be taken."

    In response, the people behind Trumpcoin Tweeted their FAQ, which discloses the coin is not affiliated with Donald Trump or his perpetually mewling progeny:

    Is there anything more fun than a fight between the Trumps and their worshippers?

  • Read Lou Reed's savage criticisms of other musicians

    Lou Reed was never shy about sharing his opinions about other musicians. Take a look at what he had to say about The Beatles, Bowie, Zappa, Alice Cooper, and other contemporaries.

    "He's probably the single most untalented person I've heard in my life. He's two-bit, pretentious, academic, and he can't play his way out of anything. He can't play rock'n'roll, because he's a loser. And that's why he dresses up funny. He's not happy with himself and I think he's right."

    "God, do you really want my opinion on THEM? They are the worst, most disgusting aspect of rock music."

    Apparently, the page is from this book:

    And here's Lou Reed giving Zappa high praise at his posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. It's nice to see that Reed was willing to change his mind:

  • Neil Young tells Spotify to pull his music if they don't drop Joe Rogan

    "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both," said Neil Young in a letter posted to his website. The musician objects to Rogan's frequent spreading Covid-19 vaccine misinformation on his Spotify podcast.

    Young said, "I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule."

    Young's statement comes on the heels of a letter to Spotify signed by 270 medical professionals last month warning that Rogan's Covid misinformation was harmful to society.

    In 2020, Spotify gave Rogan a $100 million deal for exclusive rights to distribute his podcast. Rogan's show has 11 million listeners, so there is zero chance Spotify will drop him. At most Spotify's CEO will timidly offer the bloviator a word of kindly advice to "present both sides of the issue," and Rogan will tell him to fuck off.

    More interestingly, Young's statement was deleted from his website and his music is still available on Spotify. Did he have a change of heart? According to Rolling Stone, Young has threatened to pull his music from Spotify before.

  • This travel daypack zips up into a tennis ball sized bundle

    Whenever I travel, I bring along the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack. It weighs 2.4 oz (my iPhone 6 Plus weighs 6.2 ounces) and zips up into a bundle smaller than my fist. But it holds 20 liters of stuff, and I used it every day to carry water, snacks, sweaters, an iPhone charger, a portable wifi, groceries, and things Carla and I bought while walking around. The material feels indestructible.

    I also found out that Sea to Summit makes an even smaller lighter daypack called the Nano, an 18-liter capacity day pack that weighs 1.1-ounces and "compresses to the size of an egg."

  • Six things Wordle's creator got right

    When he created the free game Wordle, Josh Wardle got six things right, writes Clive Thompson in his Medium column. These six things can be described as design principles for just about any creative endeavor:

    1) You don't need to reinvent the wheel

    2) Making something as a gift is a powerful motivation

    3) Make things for an audience of one

    4) Observe what your fans are doing

    5) Forget the app store: Make stuff on the open web

    6) Engineer for occasional use, not for addiction

    From Clive's column:

    Brooklyn-based software developer Josh Wardle created it last year as a gift for his partner, who was obsessed with word games like the New York Times' "Spelling Bee". Wardle put the game up for free online in October, and it quickly went all hockey-stick. There were 90 people people playing it in November, 300,000 by early January, and only a few weeks later, about 2 million a week. One survey estimates that 14% of American adults are playing Wordle.

    What's the allure? Some of it is just that Wordle is superbly designed: You have six attempts to guess a five-letter word, and you get Mastermind-like clues as to what you got right (and wrong) with each guess. It's social; because everyone is hunting for the same word each day, you can race against friends and commiserate (or crow). After you solve it, you can humblebrag-share an image of your solution on TikTok or Twitter or any socialtube. And because it's a word game, it prompts tons of fun strategy sharing online — including intellectually nifty essays explaining "sonotactics" and the "sonority sequencing principle." Did I mention? It's free.

  • While browsing through her spam folder, woman finds email about $3 million prize

    Spam folders are minefields of malware, phishing attempts, and scams. But a few days ago a woman in Michigan was going through her spam folder to look for a certain email and came across an unexpected email informing her that she'd won $3 million in the state lottery. She checked on the lottery website and she learned that she was indeed a winner.

    From Michigan Lottery Connect:

    Laura Spears, 55, matched the five white balls – 02-05-30-46-61 – in the Dec. 31, 2021, drawing to win a $1 million prize. Thanks to the Megaplier, the prize was multiplied to $3 million. She bought her winning ticket online at MichiganLottery.com.

    "I saw an ad on Facebook that the Mega Millions jackpot was getting pretty high, so I got on my account and bought a ticket," said Spears. "A few days later, I was looking for a missing email from someone, so I checked the spam folder in my email account.

    "That's when I saw an email from the Lottery saying I had won a prize. I couldn't believe what I was reading, so I logged in to my Lottery account to confirm the message in the email. It's all still so shocking to me that I really won $3 million!"

    I just looked in my spam folder and found a bunch of emails congratulating me for winning cash prizes. I can't wait for the money to start rolling in!