Not sure about this Thomas the Tank Engine reboot

Y NAKAJIMA posted this fully functional "Assault Type Thomas" to YouTube. Check out more photos at Badland Models. I dig the postapocalyptic Chp 'n' Dale.

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Every time you play this audio, it will seem to end on a higher pitch

Defacto Sound posted this short loop of audio, the sound of a tape being sped up then stopped abruptly. Each time you play it, they say, it will sound like it's getting higher in pitch. Did it do it for you? It worked for me about three times, then the effect – whatever it is – wore off. Some people report that it didn't work at all for them; others that it works every time and they feel they're going mad listening to it. Read the rest

Tools to replace swear words with grawlixes: symbols suggesting anger and obscenity

A headline earlier today benefited from some creative obfuscation of the word "motherfucker", and there's no better method than grawlixes: a set of now-traditional characters used to suggest anger, confusion, obscenity, resentment and other likely emotions behind the language. Merriam Webster:

What the #@*% Is a ‘Grawlix'? Sometimes the symbols used for a grawlix might be selected specifically for the word it's meant to represent. In the title $#*! My Dad Says, for example, the resemblance of the dollar sign and octothorpe to the first two letters of the word (you know the one) is probably not coincidental. The grawlix: it's some good $#*!.

Tinwatchman created an open-source library that "makes the web swear like a cartoon" if you want full service, but software developer Sampo Juustila simply collected the best unicode characters and emojis in a nice, easily copied-from page. Advanced grawlixen might want to roll their own from the unicode miscellaneous symbols block.

There's now an emoji called serious face with symbols on mouth - 🤬 - that fits a three-character grawlix into a single characer, but it's so tiny you can barely see the grawlix at standard type sizes.

Blambot offers Potty Mouth, a free-of-charge font of perfectly-drawn grawlixes for use by artists and designers. (Its exemplar is the image on this post!)

The grawlix originates in American comics, and was defined by Mort Walker in a 1964 article that was later collected in the 1980 book The Lexicon of Comicana [Amazon].

Wikipedia collects a few other examples:

Agitrons: wiggly lines around a shaking object or character Blurgits, swalloops: curved lines preceding or trailing after a character's moving limbs Briffits: clouds of dust that hang in the wake of a swiftly departing character or object (💨) Dites: diagonal, straight lines drawn across flat, clear and reflective surfaces, such as windows and mirrors Emanata: lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise Grawlixes: typographical symbols standing in for profanities (🤬), appearing in dialogue balloons in place of actual dialogue.[2] Hites: horizontal straight lines trailing after something moving with great speed (🌠); or, drawn on something indicating reflectivity (puddle, glass, mirror) Indotherm: wavy, rising lines used to represent steam or heat (♨️, ☕) Lucaflect: a shiny spot on a surface of something, depicted as a four-paned window shape Plewds: flying sweat droplets that appear around a character's head when working hard, stressed, etc.

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Man investigates motherf🗲⚠☠er who drove into row of parked motherf⚠☠🗲ers

Ed Lawson describes the scene of an accident in no uncertain words.

"I don't know where the fuck that came from!

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Houston cop shoots black man trying to wash his car window, claims it was "terrorist threat"

An undercover cop in Houston shot a man who he claims approached his car, made terroristic threats, then reached for a gun. The man, Keith Martin, 45, says he was simply offering to clean his car. Martin survived his injuries, but is stuck in jail.

Martin, 45, survived the shooting and has since been charged with misdemeanor terroristic threat. His backpack did not contain a gun, but rather his car detailing equipment and cellphone, said his lawyer Andre Evans. Martin runs his own mobile car detailing service, Evans said.

In the statement, Evans said the shooting was “unjustified” and that the officer’s actions displayed racial bias. Martin, who is black, remains in Harris County Jail in lieu of a $2,000 bond.

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Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020

Christopher Tolkien, custodian and mastermind of his father's literary estate, is dead at 95. Tor.com's Andrew Liptak:

In 2017, Tolkien stepped down as the director of the Tolkien Estate and Tolkien Trust, saying at the time that Beren and Lúthien would likely be his final book. Tolkien was a staunch critic of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of his father’s trilogy, telling Le Monde in 2012 that “They gutted the book, making it an action movie for 15-25 year-olds, and it looks like The Hobbit will be the same.” His death comes at a time when his father’s books are more popular than ever, and as Amazon works to create a massive TV series based on the works that he himself helped bring to the public.

While Tolkien was the author behind the world of Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien was the one responsible for ensuring that his father’s stories remained in the public view by continuing to publish develop the backstory of the world that has influenced and inspired fans around the world.

Christopher drew the original map of Middle-Earth, excerpted above, with annotations from J.R.R. He was no mere editor; his Complete History of Middle Earth [Amazon] is a twelve-volume encylopedia-cum-biography that's both penetrating and impenetrable. Read the rest

Woman paints bugs around unpatched potholes

A British woman has defiantly rejected criticism from Lincolnshire County Council, which has asked her to stop spraying paint bugs around potholes that it has failed to patch. Locals have nicknamed her "Bugsy" in honor of the crude but colorful roadway creations.

Lincolnshire County Council said repair of the hole would be delayed due to the paint having to be removed.

"On Friday night I was going along and hit a pothole which burst my tyre," Ms Holland said. "I took it to the tyre place on Saturday and £53 later I decided I'd had enough. I went and bought some spray paint and I made it into a bug. If I can save people from getting a bill like I did then it's worth it."

Sounds to me like Ms. Holland should be equipped with some sidewalk spray chalk [Amazon]: highlights the danger and puts a fire under the council, but washes away with water.

Photos: Karan Holland. Read the rest

Celebreedy uses AI to combine faces of stars

Celebreedy breeds new celebrities from other celebrities, using a generative adversarial network. It's the work of Eric Drass, who has a website.

Eric holds a degree in Philosophy and Psychology (Oxford) and an unfinished PhD in Cognitive Psycholinguistics (also Oxford). He is co-author on a number of patents dealing with PRISM-type surveillance technologies (long before PRISM became public), and a number of academic papers relating to neural network models of language acquisition and heritability.

He also used to be a singer in an experimental hardcore band, an unsuccessful male model, and once took at dotcom 1.0 company from a bedroom project to 14 countries and back, spending $50m on the way. Twenty years ago he was a TV star in America, but he doesn’t like to talk about it.

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Christian school expels student over rainbow birthday cake

For Kayla Kenney's 15th birthday party at a Texas Roadhouse, her mother asked for a cake with colors that 'pop'. A rainbow cake was provided and Kimberly Alford posted this charming photo of the youngster about to tuck in. Someone at her school, Whitefield Academy in Louisville, spotted the photo on social media, and Kenney was expelled for the "posture of morality and cultural acceptance" the cake represented.

Alford alleges the seemingly innocuous photo caused Kayla to be expelled from Whitefield Academy, a private Christian school in Louisville, where her daughter was a freshman. In an email to the family on Jan. 6, the academy’s head of school, Bruce Jacobson, wrote that Kayla’s enrollment was terminated, effective immediately, because of a social media post.

Alford said an image of her Facebook post was included as an attachment to the email.

“The WA Administration has been made aware of a recent picture, posted on social media, which demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs,” Jacobson wrote. “We made it clear that any further promotion, celebration or any other action and attitudes counter to Whitefield’s philosophy will not be tolerated.”

Alford says neither the cake nor Kenney's jumper were a statement on sexuality. The school didn't respond to the Washington Post's inquiries, but told a local news channel Kenney had committed other "lifesyle violations" in the past, without elaborating. According to her mother, that infraction was for vape pods found in a bag search. Read the rest

Bowie footage released from 1990s "hologram" project

Footage of a 1990s-era David Bowie performing repeating poses against a plain blue set was used to create a holographic album insert, reports the BBC, but it turns out there's 30 minutes of video to enjoy.

... the film remained in storage at Leicester's De Montfort University. "He... started to do this set of amazing iconic movements that he was famous for and all his fans would recognise", Prof [Martin] Richardson said.

The footage was played to 300 lucky fans Monday.

Prof Richardson, who first met the star in 1994, recalled: "Bowie said to me, 'When you've done your bloody hologram it will be up and down the width and breadth of the country. I am going to make you famous.'

"He got back on the sound stage and said, 'Right, what do you want me to do?' and I thought, 'I am going to direct David Bowie, the super rock star I idolised as a boy."

The hologram was then reproduced for 500,000 copies of the album.

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Akai's MPC One is a backpack beatmaker

Akai's MPC One is a beat-making box that fits in a backpack (unlike the MPC X) and costs less than a grand (unlike the MPC Live), has a 7-inch touchscreen display, and offers a full bank of pads, knobs and dials for standalone action, and outputs and ports for hooking it up to other audio gear, synths and computers.

Dani Deahl:

For those unaware of the history of Akai’s MPC, the Japanese electronics company’s signature item first debuted over 30 years ago and changed music-making forever with its intuitive interface and all-in-one approach. It’s been a staple tool for tons of artists like Dr. Dre and Om’Mas Keith (Frank Ocean’s producer), and there’s even one in the Smithsonian. ... Akai says it packed a “remarkably comprehensive feature set” into the MPC One. Along with the standard 16 pads, it sports a seven-inch multitouch display and four touch-sensitive rotaries for manipulating sounds. On the back is a single set of MIDI I/O ports, four CV / Gate jacks (for controlling connected gear), and eight outputs total. There are 2GB of RAM, and USB flash and SD card storage can expand the unit’s 4GB capacity (which could easily top out since it’s preloaded with 2GB of drum samples and loops). The MPC One also ships with several soft synths and Air FX plug-ins for mixing and mastering. Akai tells The Verge that it focused on smaller size, added CV functionality, and a cheaper price to make the MPC One “the center of a ‘DAW-less jam’ style studio.”

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Steven Seagal deepfaked as The Witcher

Surprisingly convincing in the role.

DISCLAIMER: as the title suggests, this footage is fake, and has been AI generated with the help of computer programs. The actors therein did not participate in the making of this video. The lines were (poorly) voiced by me and they are not the actual lines from the show.

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Apple Rac: rack-mounted Mac Pros now on offer

The rack-mounted version of the expensive and handsome new Mac Pro is now available, starting at $6499. You can configure yourself a model up to $54,547.98, rack not included. Read the rest

Twitter CEO says "no" to an edit button

Too bad, Twitterers! Jack Dorsey said Tuesday that they'll likely never let people edit their tweets. "Live with your mistakes," adds James Vincent, "which include joining Twitter"

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey uses the power of his own website (Twitter) to answer frequently asked questions about one of the world's most popular social media platforms, Twitter! Is the Twitter bird's name really Larry? How can you identify a Twitter bot? Why does Twitter have a character limit? How do you get verified on Twitter? Jack answers ALL these Twitter-centric questions and much, much more!

Screengrab: Wired Read the rest

Homeowners association forces teenage orphan out of grandmother's home

A teenager who had to move in with his grandmother after his parents died will have to move out: she's in a seniors' community where minors are banned and the homeowners' associated is doing everything it can to get rid of him.

The family of Collin Clabaugh, 15, tells ABC15 that their grandson came to live with them after both his parents died two weeks apart.

“It’s amazing how one rule is more important than one person’s life,” said Melodie Passmore, grandmother of Clabaugh.

Passmore said she received an HOA letter from her community in Prescott that gives them a deadline of June to find other accommodations for Clabaugh.

I love her response to the board — “I’ve stepped in things I find nicer than you people” — and hope the publicity means someone will help her find a rule to rub their face in it.

It's a stark reminder that senior-only communities are inappropriate for people with grandchildren, but the underlying problem is HOAs. Avoid them unless you're willing to shackle your family's wellbeing to your worst neighbors' investments.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misplaced the community in Florida. It is in Arizona. Read the rest

Contemporary Dublin on 16mm film

The Upland Film Co. took a walk around Dublin with an old-timey cine camera loaded with Kodak film: "Shot a few rolls of 16mm in Dublin on the trusty ol' Bolex." The results are comforting yet uncanny, the new and the old in harmony and tension. Read the rest

Thailand termite spray commercial

This 2½ minute commercial for termite spray is amusing, not least in how it explains why you shouldn't panic if the bugs don't immediately die. I feel more satisfied having watched it than most recent movies. Read the rest

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