Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk star in Star Trek deepfake

Amusing yet unsettling and increasingly smooth, the deepfakes keep coming. Here's Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk's faces superimposed onto Star Trek's original 1965 pilot episode, with Bezos as the Talosian magistrate and Musk as Christopher Pike. It's by TheFakening, one of YouTube's deepfake masters.

In the not too distant future Elon Musk will save us from the captivity of Jeff Bezos' Amazon illusion.

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WATCH: Pot shop clerk fights off robbers with bear spray

In this security footage, three masked and armed robbers raid a pot shop in Everett, Washington, only to be confronted by an unexpected challenge: a blast of bear spray right to the face.

The operator, Chris Vincent, told reporters that he was shutting up shop when the men ran in: "He was ordering me to open the register, but I couldn't. I noticed the guy was a little bit away from me so I grabbed the bear spray, I came after the second guy. They were so confused they couldn't even get the doors open."

Vincent said it's the first time he's blasted someone with bear spray, which was apparently bought because pepper spray hadn't stopped the shop being knocked off in the past. It had been only eight days since the last robbery there, according to KCPQ News.

The brand of spray he used was Frontiersman Bear Attack Deterrent [Amazon link], offered in 8oz canisters. Read the rest

Coronavirus means a boom in private jet inquiries

The rich plan to ride out the plague in private jets, but there's a problem: there's not enough of them, and crews are leery of flying to China.

The wealthy ones are turning to private jet operators to ask them to arrange flights, despite the huge costs.

But the companies are having to turn them away due to travel bans and a lack of available planes and crews.

Australia-based Darin Voyles, of Paramount Business Jets, said the firm had seen a ''considerable uptick'' in requests, but the majority can't be filled as they can't get the crew or planes.

They resolved to leave means neither of ingress nor egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The jet was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think. The CEO had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was SARS-CoV-2. Read the rest

The Financial Times' 404 page

The Financial Times, which is like The Wall Street Journal but with a three-digit IQ, has an amusing 404 Not Found page.

Why wasn't this page found?

We asked some leading economists.

Stagflation The cost of pages rose drastically, while the page production rate slowed down.

General economics There was no market for it. Liquidity traps We injected some extra money into the technology team but there was little or no interest so they simply kept it, thus failing to stimulate the page economy. Pareto inefficiency There exists another page that will make everyone better off without making anyone worse off.

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Trump commutes sentence of corrupt governor Rod Blagojevich, pardons Giuliani crony Bernard Kerik

President Trump today announced that he is commuting the prison sentence of Rod Blagojevich, a former Illinois governer jailed for corruption, and pardoning Bernard Kerik, the former New York Police Commissioner jailed for tax fraud.

Blagojevich attempted to sell Barack Obama's senate seat; Kerik was found to have accepted a $250,000 bribe from a billionaire while a member of the interim administration of Iraq following the second Gulf war.

By commuting the sentence, the president would free Mr. Blagojevich from prison without wiping out the conviction. Republicans have advised the president against it, arguing that Mr. Blagojevich’s crime epitomizes the corruption that Mr. Trump had said he wanted to tackle as president.

The president’s decision came the same day that he pardoned Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt and eventually surrendered control of his team.

Also pardoned was Michael R. Milken, an investment banker convicted of securities fraud. Read the rest

AI writes song lyrics at least as well as humans can

These Lyrics Do Not Exist differs from similar projects involving human faces, cats, etc., in that the AI-created results are no more uncanny than the real thing. You give it a topic, and select a mood – very sad, sad, neutral, happy, very happy – and a genre – country, metal, rock, pop, rap, EDM – and tell it to get cracking.

Here is the chart-busting hit, "Boing Boing", exactly as generated by the AI:

Verse 1 You came along you showed me My many seasons of different Boing, autumn, winter, boing You touch my boing

Pre-Chorus And oh, the rain it falls on me Soft boing rain on my skin

Chorus So beautiful with you, oh All of boing I look at you, wonder It was the boing of a boing

Verse 2 Take a walk on my heart Far away from all this Take a walk on my mind Fall in the boing of my life

Pre-Chorus So I am autumn, winter and boing And every month brings a new love

Chorus So beautiful with you, oh All of boing I look at you, wonder It was the boing of a boing

Bridge Gotta have a boing in my step, a dawn in my eye Gotta have genuine devotion

Chorus So beautiful with you, oh All of boing I look at you, wonder It was the boing of a boing Read the rest

Open-source rotary cellphone

Justine Haupt made this handsome and completely functional rotary cellphone. Her design is open-source and you can even buy a case kit from her company, Sky's Edge Robotics. You have to find and carefully modify your own rotary dial, though -- they're apparently no longer made -- as well as a few other components.

Why a rotary cellphone? Because in a finicky, annoying, touchscreen world of hyperconnected people using phones they have no control over or understanding of, I wanted something that would be entirely mine, personal, and absolutely tactile, while also giving me an excuse for not texting.

The point isn't to be anachronistic. It's to show that it's possible to have a perfectly usable phone that goes as far from having a touchscreen as I can imagine, and which in some ways may actually be more functional.

I feel this is what crowdfunding was made for! [via JWZ]

Previously: Rotary Cellphone Read the rest

Disputed Rembrandt is real, say experts

This 1632 portrait of a young woman was painted by the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, says Allentown Art Museum, contrary to the judgement of the Rembrandt Research Project, which long-ago determined the painting was by an assistant or student.

Earlier X-ray analyses had led some historians to question the authenticity of the brushwork on the subject's face. The apparent lack of clarity in her clothing further fueled doubts, while additional concerns were raised over the artist's signature, which is painted differently from those found in many of his other works. But after embarking on conservation efforts in 2018, experts noticed signs that it may be an original Rembrandt. According to Shan Kuang, a conservator at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts who worked on the project, thick layers of varnish from a previous restoration had darkened over time, obscuring the brushstrokes and hiding the depth of appearance the artist was celebrated for.

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Shan Kuang–Old Master painting conservator at @nyuifa–shares the science behind restoring the Allentown Art Museum’s "Portrait of a Young Woman," recently reattributed to Rembrandt. The painting will return for viewing in the Museum’s Kress Gallery. • #atownartmuseum #artgallery #artwork #artlovers #artofvisuals #artstagram #artcollector #artlife #artmuseum #artmuseums #allentown #allentownpa #lehighvalley #liftyourspiritsdlv #discoverlehighvalley #downtownallentown #rembrandt #rembrandtartexperience #rembrandts #restoreart #restoringart #artrestoration #artrestorer #artrestoring #artrestorationandconservation

A post shared by Allentown Art Museum (@atownartmuseum) on Jan 17, 2020 at 8:11am PST

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Academic published erotic fiction about own students

A Cambridge University don wrote and published erotic fiction about his own students under a pseudonym, reports the BBC. Dr Peter Hutchinson was accused of sexual harassment in 2015 and forced out of his teaching post, but the novel, titled First Time: Ooo-la-la! was published under the name of Barry Able and has only recently been connected to the disgraced professor.

The books tells the story of an "innocent" first year student called Peter at a fictitious Oxford college who is found guilty of alleged sexual impropriety after a "series of erotic adventures".

Most of the women students in the book are members of a college sex club called "The Virgins" and must sleep with a man - or senior academic - each week to remain in the group. In the opening of the text, a female student is called a "brazen hussy" and others are described as being "well endowed" in lingerie, suspenders and garter-belts. ... The front-cover features an image of a woman's leg in stockings, which Dr Hutchinson confirmed belonged to a former Trinity Hall student. Dr Hutchinson said that he did not "see a problem using an unidentifiable photo" of a student, adding he was not present when it was taken.

Dr Hutchinson describes his book as taking a "progressive view" of "totally liberated" women. He was accused of sexual assault by another student in 2006, and his victim in that case spoke to the BBC:

Ellie Pyemont, now 38, who brought the case, told the BBC she "recognised" herself in the pages.

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Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy protection over sex abuse lawsuits

Facing "mounting legal costs" over lawsuits filed by victims of sexual abuse, the Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection. NBC News reports that the move pushes the lawsuits to federal bankruptcy court, and that the organization intends to establish a trust to compensate victims.

Michael Pfau, whose Seattle-based law firm, Pfau, Cochran, Veretis and Amala, represents close to 300 people who say they were abused as Scouts in 30-plus states, called the filing historic.

"It will be far larger in terms of the numbers of victims and far more complicated than any of the bankruptcies we've seen so far involving the Catholic Church," Pfau said. Those bankruptcies involved individual dioceses or archdioceses, Pfau said, while "this involves victims from all 50 states and several U.S. territories ... You're looking at thousands of abuse survivors making claims ...This is much bigger than the bankruptcy filings involving the Catholic Church."

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Sonic the Hedgehog "porn parody" clearly ignorant of prior Sonic fandom

"Sonic the Hedgehog gets bluer!" announces the press release for a porn parody of the hit movie based on the classic Sega character.

The parody film is titled "Sonic the Vadgehog" and appears to have been conceived, filmed and marketed in total ignorance of all existing Sonic fandom on the internet, furiously horny and curiously religious as it is.

WoodRocket mixes porn, comedy, pop culture, and redefines adult entertainment. Creating popular & high-quality content like Ask A Porn Star, Porn Stars Reading Hate Mail, and porn parodies like Ten Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles, Strokémon, and Laygo, WoodRocket is the future of porn. WoodRocket’s content has been featured in Buzzfeed, Uproxx, Gizmodo, Maxim, Complex, AV Club, Spin, Rolling Stone, The Howard Stern Show, GQ, Vice, Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, @Midnight, Bon Appetit, and many, many, many more wonderful places.

Here's the trailer, which is quite safe for work.

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Respirator masks with your face printed on it

Face ID Masks plans to offer a service that prints your face onto respirator masks, so you can unlock your phones without exposing yourself to the plague. But there's a shortage of face masks, says creator Danielle Baskin, so for now it's just a dystopian joke.

After uploading your face, we use computational mapping to convert your facial features into an image printed onto the surface of N95 surgical masks without distortion.

Our printer uses inks made of natural dyes. It's non-toxic and doesn't affect breathability.

You can use your mask for everyday life as a barrier for airborne particle droplets.

Why?

If you're sick, wearing a mask makes it hard to use your biometric data to access your phone.

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"Glass" on Samsung's foldable phone no more scratch-resistant than plastic

Samsung claims to have developed an "Ultra Thin Glass" for its new Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone, signalling scratch resistance and durability beyond that of similar products. But tests conducted by Zack Nelson using a Mohs Hardness Testkit [Amazon] -- a set of styluses made of different materials -- show that it is no more resistant to scuffs than plastic. In fact, he didn't even need the kit: his fingernail was sharp enough to leave marks. The "glass" scores 2-3 on the Mohs scale, compared to 6-7 for Gorilla Glass: "I don't know what material this is, but Samsung should definitely not be calling it glass."

Samsung has pitched this phone as a folding glass phone that ‘bends the laws of physics’ But… is folding glass actually possible? The only way to find out is with a scratch test. Overall I’m impressed with the Galaxy Z Flip. If they change the name of their screen material to something besides glass I would give it a 10/10 as far as folding phones go. The only physical characteristic this screen material shares with actual glass is the clarity. And I dont think thats fair to consumers. At all.

The Verge's Chris Welch got Samsung on the record to say there'll be a glass replacement service.

We asked Samsung if it planned to offer a screen replacement service for the Z Flip as it did with the Galaxy Fold. It will. Z Flip buyers can get a one-time screen replacement for $119, Samsung says.

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Artisanal plastic crates

Congratulations, shoppers! You can order plastic crates in beautiful pastel colors at significantly inflated prices. Available in large, medium or small. [Goodhoodstore via dieworkwear]

These look very similar indeed to similarly pricey pastel crates on Amazon, being sold under randomly-generated brand names like SHINEME and MUYOZZ. At the New York Times, John Hermann recently wrote about this bizarre new branding trend: All Your Favorite Brands, From BSTOEM to ZGGCD. Read the rest

Documentary about martial arts fraudsters and fakes

Count Dante (previously at Boing Boing) was the greatest, but he was far from the only one. Dante and others feature in Super Eyepatch Wolf's compendium of kung-fu crooks, bullshit black-belts and the mysticism-tinged genre of no-touch knock-outs.

I think there's a good case to be made that much of this is a form of theater. As with debunking western psychics and televangelists and whatnot, there's the necessary exposure of people using it as a vehicle for fraud or to trap people in a cult -- and then there's skeptics ranting about end-of-the-pier fortune tellers. Or enjoying watching old men get punched in the face for their sins (previously). Read the rest

Groundhog day for a black man

By living a rough day over and over again, a black motorist learns that the cops will find their reasons: "I'm stopping everyone with broad noses. See if you match the description."

Writer/Director: Cynthia Kao Cast (in order of appearance)t: Eric: Burl Moseley Officer 1: Ryan Stanger Female Officer: Celia Finkelstein Officer 2: Matt Cordova Officer 3: Marshall Givens

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Kkwabaegi donut preparation in Korea

This video shows the preparation of kkwabaegi (twisted donuts) at a small bakery in Korea. There are things both similar and different to the experiences of bakers here in the west (let alone large-scale production). It's one of those "relaxing" or "satisfying" videos too, at least for the viewer, until one imagines doing it forty hours or more a week. Did you know we used to call donuts "oily cakes" until the marketers came along? Read the rest

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