• This Twitter bot will colorize your black and white photos

    "I'm a bot that transforms black and white photos into color using artificial intelligence," says @colorize_bot, a cheerful Twitter bot that performs is useful service free of charge.

  • Watch: 25 years of sexual harassment at Fox News

    Fox News is a notorious safe harbor for sex pests and misogynists, so The Daily Show had its work cut out for them when they made a three-and-a-half minute video showcasing the network's most pathetic moments of smug white guys demeaning women, body-shaming them, making sexual comments, and leering at women co-hosts.

  • LA County Sheriff, sworn to uphold the law, vows to violate County vaccine mandate

    Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he will refuse County orders to compel department employees to get vaccinated against Covid.

    Villanueva told viewers on a live Facebook press conference that he won't fire anyone who won't get the shot.

    "No, I am not forcing anyone," he said, "The issue has become so politicized there are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated. I don't want to be in a position to lose 5 to 10% of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate."

  • Woman gets 4-day jail sentence for being too close to Grizzly bear and cubs at Yellowstone

    Samantha Dehring (25) is spending four days in jail for not moving away when a mother grizzly bear and her three cubs walked through a meadow at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

    Dehring pleaded guilty to "willfully remaining, approaching, and photographing wildlife within 100 yards." In addition to the jail sentence, she is banned from the park for a year and must pay $2,000 in fines.

    On the day of the incident, Dehring was taking photos of the bears. As they came close, other park visitors left the area and warned Dehring to leave also, but she stayed until the mother bear charged at her.

    Bob Murray, acting US attorney for the District of Wyoming, said, "Approaching a sow grizzly with cubs is absolutely foolish. Here, pure luck is why Dehring is a criminal defendant and not a mauled tourist. Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are, indeed, wild. The park is not a zoo where animals can be viewed within the safety of a fenced enclosure. They roam freely in their natural habitat and when threatened will react accordingly.""

    Photo by  Angie Birmingham  on  Scopio

  • Would-be kidnappers attack person while filling gas tank. What could go wrong?

    A person is refueling their car at a gas pump when a white van drives up and three people get out. It is obvious they have bad intentions. The would-be victim pulls the nozzle from the tank valve and saturates the attackers with fuel, causing them to jump back into the van and flee. 

    What is the story behind the video and where did it take place? I wish I knew.

  • I unclogged my sinuses using this technique

    Let Alan Mandell show you how to do a couple of weird tricks to drain clogged sinuses. My left nostril was plugged. I tried his technique and am breathing out of both nostrils. I can't believe I was able to drain my sinuses like this.

    I implore you not take my experience as medical advice. Before trying this yourself, obtain a medical degree or book an appointment with your favorite otolaryngologist to get the problem diagnosed and treated properly.

    [via Digg]

  • Snapchat says it will ramp up efforts to detect fentanyl sales on its platform

    In acknowledging that its platform is being used to sell counterfeit drugs laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentatnyl, Snap, the parent company of Snapchat said it's intensifying measures to detect in-app drug deals.

    It said in a statement issued today:

    We have significantly improved our proactive detection capabilities to remove drug dealers from our platform before they are able to harm our community. Our enforcement rates have increased by 112% during the first half of 2021, and we have increased proactive detection rates by 260%. Nearly two-thirds of drug-related content is detected proactively by our artificial intelligence systems, with the balance reported by our community and enforced by our team. We've also worked to improve our in-app reporting tools to make it easier and faster for our community to report drug-related content.

    We will continue to work to strike the right balance between safety and privacy on our platform so that we can empower our community to express themselves without fear of harm. By design, Snapchatters control who can contact them and must opt-in to new conversations with friends. If a member of our community reports inappropriate content, it is escalated to our Trust & Safety team so that we are able to take appropriate action. We are also working on new family safety tools to provide more ways for parents to partner together with their teenagers to stay safe on Snapchat.

    The Centers for Disease Control reported 93,000 drug overdose deaths in in 2020, up 30% from 2019. A recent report from Insider found "at least two dozen fentanyl-related deaths in which the dealer used Snapchat to sell the drug."

  • Experience the thrill of pantry moth eradication!

    We have pantry moths infesting our kitchen cupboards, and they have no qualms about gorging on the food I paid for with my earnings as a professional blogger. I wish I could co-exist in harmony with these energetic creatures, which, like their larger brethren, live only to feast and fornicate. While I applaud their ardent urge to procreate, I am covetous of my food and am determined to protect it by any means necessary.

    The best defense against these dusty gray merry makers is a pantry moth trap. It looks like a little scout tent but the inner walls are coated with a sticky substance and a pheromone to trick the amorous creature into thinking a receptive mate is waiting for them inside. Once a moth enters and touches the adhesive surface, it becomes trapped, giving it time to contemplate its fatal foolish decision to enter such an obvious death trap.

    Once every nine months we replace the trap, which by then is covered with the dried husks of dozens of the pitiful creatures.

    Experience the thrill of pantry moth eradication yourself by purchasing your very own set of traps!

  • AT&T is responsible for 90% of far-right propaganda network One America News' revenue

    One America News (OAN) is a television news channel that embraces the QAnon cult, spread's Mike Lindell's discredited conspiracy theories, and believes Trump won the 2020 election.

    In court filings, OAN CEO Robert Herring Sr. said AT&T paid OAN about $57 million over five years. But AT&T doesn't really want to talk about it.

    From Popular Information:

    A lawyer for OAN, Patrick Nellies, testified in court that if OAN "was to lose or not be renewed on [AT&T's] DirecTV, the company would go out of business tomorrow." 

    In February, Popular Information asked AT&T if it would continue to carry OAN on its platforms. AT&T provided the following response:

    When it comes to the channels we carry for customers, we do not exercise control over their editorial content. We review our contract terms continually and, in the meantime, if customers have questions about a provider's content, they should contact the individual channel provider.

    AT&T did not respond to a request for comment for this article. 

  • How Facebook is cheating advertisers to make up for a day of lost revenue

    Facebook made about $60 billion worldwide last year in the United States and Europe. A rough back of the napkin calculation says the outage last week cost them around $150 million. That's a rounding error for Zuckerberg's new worth, but he and his shareholders aren't going to stand for it.

    To recoup, Zuck and Co has alerted advertisers they "may see accelerated delivery as our services recover from the outage." IndieHackers translates that into plain English: "Accelerated delivery? In simple terms, Facebook will try to spend advertisers' money faster for the day (and possibly the days ahead, depending on your budget settings)."

    What is the effect of placing more ads that usual? They become less effective.

    From IndieHackers:

    I did some additional research and came across this AdWeek article with a first-hand experience from a media buyer who manages multiple ad accounts:

    "One media buyer noted Facebook's delivery numbers have gone up dramatically this morning as the platform pumped up delivery to make up the losses."

    And what happens when you show too many ads too fast? You see a drop in conversions:

    The agency is seeing a drop of at least 50% in conversions compared to what it normally expects, across roughly half a dozen clients. For some clients, it's more than 50%.

    Is there a malicious intent here? Maybe it's the FB algorithm at play, maybe it's someone at Facebook saying "speed things up and try to recover our revenue ASAP?

    If you buy ads on Facebook, IndieHackers recommends pausing your campaign: "It's far better to spread out the money you were meant to spend during the outage than to listen to Facebook and spend it all at once."

    [image: Anthony Quintano from Westminster, United States – Mark Zuckerberg F8 2019 Keynote, CC BY 2.0]

  • You can help The Markup find the sleazy companies that secretly sell your location data

    The Markup is a nonprofit newsroom with a mission to understand and expose powerful entities are using technology in ways that hurt society. It recently investigated the $12 billion market for phone location data. It "identified 47 companies that play one of the many roles in the location data pipeline: providers, buyers, sellers, and aggregators."

    Now The Markup is asking for your help in finding these secretive companies that get rich tracking you and selling your personal data. The next time your phone displays a pop-up asking if you want to allow an app to track you, take a screenshot and send it to The Markup.

    From the site:

    After looking through dozens of companies' websites and privacy policies, we found a lack of transparency about the origin of the data that fuels their businesses. Buried in privacy policies, you will find lots of mentions of "trusted data partners," but one thing was missing in nearly all of the sites we looked at: the names of the mobile apps that actually collect your location and movement data. 

    Some of the companies we looked at told The Markup that they don't publicly disclose what apps they get location data from, in order to keep a competitive advantage, but maintained that their process of obtaining location data was transparent and with clear consent from app users. 

  • Check out Michael Hearst's song: "Ode to Odd Instruments"

    Musician Michael Hearst composed a lovely short song using a bunch of instruments I've never heard of:

    • Space Crickets (made by Dan Steinberg)
    • Aquaphone (made by Dan Steinberg)
    • Peavy Patriot electric bass guitar (purchased for $75 from a Navy dude in Norfolk, VA in 1990.)
    • Electric chord organ (Magnus Organ Corp. Bought on eBay.)
    • Plastic hand clapper (Post – Hovedsponsor for Dansk Cykelsport – found on street.)
    • Hohner Claviola (designed by Ernst Zacharias in the 1960s, built by Hohner in the 1990s.)
    • Yamaha Club Jordan cocktail drum kit (Produced by Steve Jordan. Traded from Jim Thompson.)
    • Knockman "Pororon" (Another Maywa Denki instrument/toy.)
    • Agogô bell (At least I think that's what it's called?)
    • Melodica child's clarinet (Found it on the street. Yes, I cleaned it first.)
    • Hammered Dulcimer (Very kindly given to me by author Jane Smiley.)
    • Bagpipe practice chanter (Found this in a shop in Sibiu, Romania in 2001.)
  • Exclusive excerpt of three new Christmas Ghost Stories by Seth

    Seth, the cartoonist best known for Palookaville, has, once again. beautifully illustrated three Christmas Ghost Stories, published by Biblioasis.

    Take a look at the covers of previous years' editions:

    This year, Seth illustrated Edith Wharton's Mr. Jones, F. Marion Crawford's The Doll's Ghost, and Bernard Cape's An Eddy on the Floor.

    From Biblioasis:

    Everyone, of course, knows about Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, but what is less well-known is that it is only the most famous example of a long-running Victorian Christmas tradition of telling ghost stories during the holidays. Seven years ago Biblioasis partnered with world-renowned cartoonist Seth, who is passionate about this Victorian tradition, to try and bring it back into vogue: over this time it's become a series beloved by booksellers and readers everywhere.

    Who knew there were so many Christmas ghost stories?

    Biblioasis kindly gave us permission to run an excerpt from Edith Wharton's Mr. Jones along with some of Seth's illustrations.

    Synopsis: When Lady Jane Lynke unexpectedly inherits Bells, a beautiful country estate, she declares she'll never leave the peaceful grounds and sets about making the house her home. But she hasn't reckoned on the obstinate Mr Jones, the caretaker she's told dislikes her changes, yet never seems able to be found.

    Lady Jane Lynke was unlike other people: when she heard that she had inherited Bells, the beautiful old place which had belonged to the Lynkes of Thudeney for something like six hundred years, the fancy took her to go and see it unan- nounced. She was staying at a friend's near

    by, in Kent, and the next morning she bor- rowed a motor and slipped away alone to Thudeney-Blazes, the adjacent village. It was a lustrous motionless day. Autumn bloom lay on the Sussex downs, on the heavy trees of the weald, on streams moving indolently, far off across the marshes. Farther still, Dungeness, a fitful streak, floated on an immaterial sky which was perhaps, after all, only sky. In the softness Thudeney-Blazes slept: a few aged houses bowed about a duck- pond, a silvery spire, orchards thick with dew. Did Thudeney-Blazes ever wake? Lady Jane left the motor to the care of the geese on a miniature common, pushed open a white gate into a field (the griffoned portals being padlocked), and struck across the park toward a group of carved chim- ney-stacks. No one seemed aware of her.

    In a dip of the land, the long low house, its ripe brick masonry overhanging a moat deeply sunk about its roots, resem- bled an aged cedar spreading immemorial red branches. Lady Jane held her breath and gazed. A silence distilled from years of soli- tude lay on lawns and gardens. No one had lived at Bells since the last Lord Thudeney, then a penniless younger son, had forsaken it sixty years before to seek his fortune in Canada. And before that, he and his wid- owed mother, distant poor relations, were housed in one of the lodges, and the great place, even in their day, had been as mute and solitary as the family vault. Lady Jane, daughter of another branch, to which an earldom and considerable possessions had accrued, had never seen Bells, hardly heard its name. A succession

    of deaths, and the whim of an old man she had never known, now made her heir to all this beauty; and as she stood and looked she was glad she had come to it from so far, from impressions so remote and different. "It would be dreadful to be used to it–to be thinking already about the state of the roof, or the cost of a heating system." Till this her thirty-fifth year, Lady Jane had led an active, independent and decided life. One of several daughters, moderately but sufficiently provided for, she had gone early from home, lived in London lodg- ings, travelled in tropic lands, spent studious summers in Spain and Italy, and written two or three brisk business-like little books about cities usually dealt with sentimentally. And now, just back from a summer in the south of France, she stood ankle deep in wet bracken, and gazed at Bells lying there under a September sun that looked like moonlight.

    "I shall never leave it!" she ejaculated, her heart swelling as if she had taken the vow to a lover. She ran down the last slope of the park and entered the faded formality of gardens with clipped yews as ornate as architec- ture, and holly hedges as solid as walls. Adjoining the house rose a low deep-but- tressed chapel. Its door was ajar, and she thought this of good augury: her forebears were waiting for her. In the porch she remarked fly-blown notices of services, an umbrella stand, a dishevelled door-mat: no doubt the chapel served as the village church. The thought gave her a sense of warmth and neighbourliness. Across the damp flags of the chancel, monuments and brasses showed through a traceried screen. She examined them curiously. Some hailed her with vocal memories, others whispered out of the remote and the unknown: it was a shame to know so little about her own family. But neither Crofts nor Lynkes had ever greatly distinguished themselves; they had gathered substance simply by holding on to what they had, and slowly accumu- lating privileges and acres. "Mostly by clever marriages," Lady Jane thought with a faint contempt. At that moment her eyes lit on one of the less ornate monuments: a plain sar- cophagus of gray marble niched in the wall and surmounted by the bust of a young man with a fine arrogant head, a Byronic throat and tossed-back curls. "Peregrine Vincent Theobald Lynke, Baron Clouds, fifteenth Viscount Thudeney of Bells, Lord of the Manors of Thudeney, Thudeney-Blazes, Upper Lynke, Lynke-Linnet–" so it ran, with the usual tedious enumeration of honours,

    titles, court and county offices, ending with: "Born on May 1st, 1790, perished of the plague at Aleppo in 1828." And underneath, in small cramped characters, as if crowded as an afterthought into an insufficient space: "Also His Wife." That was all. No name, dates, honours, epithets, for the Viscountess Thudeney. Did she too die of the plague at Aleppo? Or did the "also" imply her actual presence in the sarcophagus which her husband's pride had no doubt prepared for his own last sleep, little guessing that some Syrian drain was to receive him? Lady Jane racked her memory in vain. All she knew was that the death with- out issue of this Lord Thudeney had caused the property to revert to the Croft-Lynkes, and so, in the end, brought her to the chancel step where, shyly, she knelt a moment, vow- ing to the dead to carry on their trust.

    She passed on to the entrance court, and stood at last at the door of her new home, a blunt tweed figure in heavy mud-stained shoes. She felt as intrusive as a tripper, and her hand hesitated on the door-bell. "I ought to have brought someone with me," she thought; an odd admission on the part of a young woman who, when she was doing her books of travel, had prided herself on forcing single-handed the most closely guarded doors. But those other places, as she looked back, seemed easy and accessible compared to Bells. She rang, and a tinkle answered, car- ried on by a flurried echo which seemed to ask what in the world was happening. Lady Jane, through the nearest window, caught the spectral vista of a long room with shrouded furniture. She could not see its farther end, but she had the feeling that

    someone stationed there might very well be seeing her. "Just at first," she thought, "I shall have to invite people here–to take the chill off." She rang again, and the tinkle again prolonged itself; but no one came. At last she reflected that the care-tak- ers probably lived at the back of the house, and pushing open a door in the court-yard wall she worked her way around to what seemed a stable-yard. Against the purple brick sprawled a neglected magnolia, bear- ing one late flower as big as a planet. Lady Jane rang at a door marked "Service." This bell, though also languid, had a wakefuller sound, as if it were more used to being rung, and still knew what was likely to follow; and after a delay during which Lady Jane again had the sense of being peered at– from above, through a lowered blind–a

    bolt shot, and a woman looked out. She was youngish, unhealthy, respectable, and frightened; and she blinked at Lady Jane like someone waking out of sleep. "Oh," said Lady Jane–"do you think I might visit the house?" "The house?" "I'm staying near here–I'm interested in old houses. Mightn't I take a look?" The young woman drew back. "The house isn't shown." "Oh, but not to–not to–" Jane weighed the case. "You see," she explained, "I know some of the family: the Northumberland branch." "You're related, madam?" "Well–distantly, yes." It was exactly what she had not meant to say; but there seemed no other way. The woman twisted her apron-strings in perplexity.

    "Come, you know," Lady Jane urged, producing half-a-crown. The woman turned pale. "I couldn't, madam; not without asking." It was clear that she was sorely tempted. "Well, ask, won't you?" Lady Jane pressed the tip into a hesitating hand. The young woman shut the door and vanished. She was away so long that the visitor con- cluded her half-crown had been pocketed, and there was an end; and she began to be angry with herself, which was more often her habit than to be so with others. "Well, for a fool, Jane, you're a com- plete one," she grumbled. A returning footstep, listless, reluc- tant–the tread of one who was not going to let her in. It began to be rather comic. The door opened, and the young woman said in her dull sing-song: "Mr.

    Jones says that no one is allowed to visit the house." She and Lady Jane looked at each other for a moment, and Lady Jane read the apprehension in the other's eyes. "Mr. Jones? Oh?–Yes; of course, keep it … " She waved away the woman's hand. "Thank you, madam." The door closed again, and Lady Jane stood and gazed up at the inexorable face of her old home.

    "But you didn't get in? You actually came back without so much as a peep?" Her story was received, that evening at dinner, with mingled mirth and incredulity. "But, my dear! You mean to say you asked to see the house, and they wouldn't let you? WHO wouldn't?" Lady Jane's hostess insisted.

    "Mr. Jones." "Mr. Jones?" "He said no one was allowed to visit it." "Who on earth is Mr. Jones?" "The care-taker, I suppose. I didn't see him." "Didn't see him either? But I never heard such nonsense! Why in the world didn't you insist?" "Yes; why didn't you?" they all chor- used; and she could only answer, a little lamely: "I think I was afraid." "Afraid? YOU, darling?" There was fresh hilarity. "Of Mr. Jones?" "I suppose so." She joined in the laugh, yet she knew it was true: she had been afraid. Edward Stramer, the novelist, an old friend of her family, had been listening with an air of abstraction, his eyes on his empty coffee-cup. Suddenly, as the mistress of the house pushed back her chair, he looked

    across the table at Lady Jane. "It's odd: I've just remembered something. Once, when I was a youngster, I tried to see Bells; over thirty years ago it must have been." He glanced at his host. "Your mother drove me over. And we were not let in." There was a certain flatness in this con- clusion, and someone remarked that Bells had always been known as harder to get into than any house thereabouts. "Yes," said Stramer; "but the point is that we were refused in exactly the same words. Mr. Jones said no one was allowed to visit the house." "Ah–he was in possession already? Thirty years ago? Unsociable fellow, Jones. Well, Jane, you've got a good watch-dog." They moved to the drawing-room, and the talk drifted to other topics. But Stramer came and sat down beside Lady Jane. "It is queer, though, that at such a

    distance of time we should have been given exactly the same answer." She glanced up at him curiously. "Yes; and you didn't try to force your way in either?" "Oh no: it was not possible." "So I felt," she agreed. "Well, next week, my dear, I hope we shall see it all, in spite of Mr. Jones," their hostess intervened, catching their last words as she moved toward the piano. "I wonder if we shall see Mr. Jones," said Stramer.

    Seth's Christmas Ghost books are also available at Amazon.

  • This man is going to prison for bizarre "grocery-licking" Covid hoax

    In April 2021 Christopher Charles Perez (40) of San Antonio, Texas posted the following warning to Facebook:

    "PSA!! Yo rt GROCERY STOREMERCADO!! My homeboys cousin has covid19 and has licked every thing for past 2 days case we paid him too," Perez wrote. "YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!! GROCERY STORE on nogalitos next ;)." 

    Perez is going to prison for the stunt. A press release from the United States Attorney's Office said, "Evidence presented during trial revealed that Perez posted two threatening messages on Facebook in which he claimed to have paid someone who was infected with COVID-19 to lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio area to scare people away from visiting the stores."

    They determined the threat was false. "Perez did not pay someone to intentionally spread coronavirus at grocery stores, according to investigators and Perez's own admissions," the release stated.

    He's been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

    [Photo by  Andreas Steidlinger  on  Scopio]

  • This rubber wonder is my favorite shoe

    About ten years ago, Cory Doctorow was staying at our place for a couple of weeks. He had ordered some shoes online, but he discovered they were the wrong size when they arrived. He asked me if I wanted them. The shoes were red and made of rubber. I tried them one. They fit perfectly, and I instantly knew they were my shoe style for life.

    I never went back to my old shoes. These shoes don't require socks; they are super easy to slip on and off at an airport TSA checkpoint; they are comfortable, lightweight, and available in an array of pop art colors. They are beautiful, too.

    My feet stay warm inside them when it is cold; they breathe so my feet don't sweat or smell when it is hot. Because these shoes are so light and breathable, they are perfect for walking around Disneyland in August.
    These shoes have helped me to become the person I am today. My life would be very different if I didn't have these shoes. I'm thankful to Cory for introducing me to these shoes. I'm thankful to the inventor. I'm thankful to the manufacturer. I'm thankful that the United States has laws that allow me to buy these shoes. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I can sit around and talk about how thankful I am to own a pair of rubber shoes.

    Experience the miracle of rubber shoes yourself!

  • Colbert reveals all the juicy Trump details in Stephanie Grisham's book because he doesn't want her to sell any copies

    Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham has a new tell-all book, which supposedly is full of details that reveal Trump to be even more disgusting than we already knew him to be. Colbert spent a good portion of his monologue revealing what's in the book because "I don't want her to sell a single copy of her tell-all about the time she told us nothing."

  • Watch: time-lapse of a student with ADHD watching a math video versus watching Star Wars

    Researchers at University of Central Florida found that people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will fidget more when given cognitively demanding tasks. They came to this conclusion after sitting ADHD students in front of a display playing the pod-race scene from Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, which the students watched with little body movement, and a math instructional video, which made the students swivel in the chair, tap their feet, and fidget.

    From UCF:

    That may not seem surprising. After all, weren't the children absorbed by the sci-fi movie and bored by the math lesson? Not so, [ Mark Rapport, director of the Children's Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida] said.

    "That's just using the outcome to explain the cause," he said. "We have shown that what's really going on is that it depends on the cognitive demands of the task. With the action movie, there's no thinking involved – you're just viewing it, using your senses. You don't have to hold anything in your brain and analyze it. With the math video, they are using their working memory, and in that condition movement helps them to be more focused."

    The takeaway: Parents and teachers of children with ADHD should avoid labeling them as unmotivated slackers when they're working on tasks that require working memory and cognitive processing, researchers said.

    [via Digg]

  • Can Biden issue a trillion-dollar platinum coin to instantly lift the debt ceiling?

    The federal government spent $6.6 trillion in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But it only brought in $3.3 trillion. It had to borrow the other $3.3 trillion. In November 2020, the government was $20.3 trillion in the hole, and if you take a look at this graph that projects the federal deficit as a percentage of the US gross domestic project, the debt will increase. That's why congress has periodic pretend fights over raising the debt ceiling. Eventually, bad deals are made and the government bills can get paid.

    One way to prevent the catastrophe of hitting the debt ceiling (i.e., the US government defaulting on its loans) would be to mint a $1 trillion coin. And it would be legal to do so, thanks to a 23-year-old loophole in the law. The US Mint is allowed to mint coins in denominations of up to $100. If you aren't a coin collector or precious metals investor, you probably haven't seen $100 US coins, but they exist. The Mint makes $100 coins that contain an ounce of pure gold, and they sell for about $2,600. But a law passed in 1997 allowing platinum coins to be minted in any denomination. Nothing is stopping the Mint from minting a few trillion-dollar platinum coins (each of which contains a single ounce of platinum worth about $800) and depositing them in the US Treasury, instantly negating the federal deficit.

    In 2011, House Republicans threatened to force the US to default on its obligations. A commenter on the Pragmatic Capitalism website proposed a $1 trillion platinum coin that would "sidestep the debt ceiling this afternoon."

    What would the downsides be to issuing a $1 trillion coin? Inflation? When economist Paul Krugman wrote about the coin in 2013, he didn't seem to think so: "It would be economically harmless — and would both avoid catastrophic economic developments and help head off government by blackmail."

    While President Obama didn't order the Mint to make the magical debt-vanquishing coin, the idea arises from time to time, most recently in 2020 when Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan introduced the Automatic BOOST to Communities Act (ABC Act), which would "immediately provide a US Debit Card pre-loaded with $2,000 to every person in America. Each card would be recharged with $1,000 monthly until one year after the end of the Coronavirus crisis." To fund the program, the Act calls for the minting of "two $1 trillion platinum coins, under the legal authority provided by 31 U.S.C. § 5112(k)." A website called Mint The Coin has news and resources about the ABC Act.

    [This first appeared in a 2020 issue of my newsletter, The Magnet]