• Cats with human jobs

    This BBC article about cats successfully holding down jobs, from mousers to mayors, is a couple of years old. But it's titled "Bureacats" and is timeless material.

    Another wartime hero was Crimean Tom, also known as Sevastopol Tom, who saved British and French troops from starvation during the Crimean War in 1854. The regiments were occupying the port of Sevastopol and could not find food. Tom could. He led them to hidden caches of supplies stored by Russian soldiers and civilians. Tom, who was taken back to England when the war was over, died in 1856, whereupon he was stuffed. He is now a permanent part of the National Army Museum in London.

  • The Endless Acid Banger generates infinitely-evolving EDM for your pleasure

    The Endless Acid Banger is an algorithmic music generator whose tight focus on acid house, with its minimal bloops and looping progressions, results in an unusually canny experience. It's extremely danceable, a third summer of love.

    The music you hear is generated in your browser by a randomised algorithm, below you can see the notes and parameters that are currently in use. You can also interact with various parameters and buttons manually. The green autopilot switches change how automatic playback is. Leave them on for a lean-back experience. Buttons labelled ⟳ will generate new patterns. Source Code is on GitHub

    The Endless Acid Banger was created by Vitling. If you want to support my work, please consider buying my music or sponsoring my GitHub.

  • New operating system only runs Tetris

    Tetris-OS is an operating system that has just one job: to run Tetris, Alexei Pajitnov's classic puzzle game, and run it well. The creator, jdh, specifies…

    ° It's Tetris.
    ° 32-bit (x86)
    ° Fully custom bootloader
    ° Soundblaster 16 driver
    ° Custom music track runner
    ° Fully hardcoded tetris theme
    ° Double-buffered 60 FPS graphics at 320×200 pixels with custom 8-bit RGB palette

    Here's a video explaining the development of this epic computer science milestone:

  • Innocent man billed $4,000 for jail stay

    David Jones was arrested in October 13 2013 and held in jail for 14 months before the charges against him were dismissed. He was promptly billed $4,000 for his incarceration, and the state of Kentucky argues his innocence is no defense.

    His attorney, Gregory Belzley, argued this violates his constitutional rights saying Jones was not guilty of a crime.

    "You recognize the distinction in this case raised by the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence. Defendants argue to you that this is punitive. This is punitive because he's innocent," Belzley said.

    The attorney for Clark County, Jeffrey Mando, said the jail doesn't decide who is booked or who is guilty, but it needs money to continue housing inmates.

    One weird trick to punish and profit from people you know you can't convict: keep them in jail as long as possible, racking up the bill. Who knows: it may even convince them to make a plea deal!

    This practice rhymes with civil forfeiture, whereby police confiscate property and money without charging anyone with a crime. This creates an incentive to profit from unsupportable allegations of criminal activity, knowing that recovering the assets in court would be so expensive for the victim that it's cheaper to let the cops take it. In this respect, police take more money and property from Americans than burglars do.

  • Italian man skipped work while collecting paycheck for 15 years

    A man working at the hospital in Catanzaro, Italy, skipped work for 15 years, collecting his paycheck all the while. He pocketed the equivalent of $650,000 over the period and is among numerous people collared during an investigation into public sector fraud and absenteeism. The man apparently threatened those who learned of his inactivities over the years, so he's been charged with that as well as the scam.

    The police have also accused him of threatening his manager to stop her from filing a disciplinary report against him. That manager later retired, police added, and his ongoing absence was never noticed by her successor or human resources.

  • Replica walkman that you put your phone inside

    Pl8ty is a walkman-styled Bluetooth speaker recently crowdfunded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo: you slide your phone inside, as if it were a cassette tape, for a more uncannily pseudoauthentic retro e-perience. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB, working control buttons, and doubles as a 3200mAh powerbank. It accepts phones up to 153mm × 77mm × 8.6mm and comes in red, black or blue.

    pl8ty is a portable speaker with a design inspired by the iconic cassette players of the 80's, combined with the latest technological advancements found in modern day audio devices, which makes it a must-have for anyone who grew up in the 80's, or music-lovers who want to make a bold fashion statement.

  • Department of Justice to investigate Minneapolis police department

    A day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder for killing George Floyd, the Department of Justice has announced a probe of the force there. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday that the criminal trial "does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis" and that the proble would search for a "pattern or practice" of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.

    It will examine the use of force by police officers, including force used during protests, and whether the department engages in discriminatory practices. It will also look into the department's handling of misconduct allegations and its treatment of people with behavioral health issues and will assess the department's current systems of accountability, Garland said.

  • 28m Covid shots in two weeks means a quarter of Americans now fully vaccinated

    In the U.S., more than 3m jabs have been given daily for two weeks, on a seven-day rolling average, with 40 percent of adults having gotten one shot and 25% now fully vaccinated.

    [A] slight dip in the daily pace may be due in part to the ongoing investigation into Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month advised states to suspend the use of J&J's shot "out of an abundance of caution" after six women developed a rare blood clotting disorder.

  • Apple's trying to block rude emoji combos from AirTag engravings, but it's not hard to fool

    Apple is trying to limit what buyers of its new Tile-like AirTags can engrave on them—there's space for only a few characters—with limited results. As Ian Carlos Campbell found, "your Apple AirTag can't say horseshit but it can say shithorse".

    Despite being a horn away from being exactly the same emoji, "unicorn shit" works fine. As do emoji representations I tried for "snake shit," "monkey shit," "chicken shit," and even "shit bird." Similar limitations apply to actual offensive words as well. Apple gives you just enough letters for some creative diction, but catches some of the obvious offenders. "SUCK," "NSFW," and "BUTT" are still on the table though.

  • Daily Mail sues Google over Piers Morgan's weak search results

    The owner of UK tabloid The Daily Mail is suing Google, claiming that it is penalizing the Mail's search engine placement for using non-Google ad tech.

    Daily Mail editor emeritus Peter Wright told the BBC's Today programme that the search engine's alleged actions were "anti-competitive".

    He suggested that the Daily Mail's search visibility dropped after using online advertising techniques "which were allowing us to divert advertising traffic away from Google to other ad exchanges, which paid better prices – and this was their punishment".

    It being The Daily Mail will turn a lot of us off, especially since it's whining about the poor performance of Piers Morgan content—a hilarious tell that suggests the world's largest media website still doesn't quite realize the horrible truth about the internet.

    it claims that British users searching for broadcaster Piers Morgan's comments on the Duchess of Sussex following an interview with Oprah Winfrey were more likely to see articles about Morgan produced by smaller, regional outlets. That is despite the Daily Mail writing multiple stories a day about his comments around that time and employing him as a columnist.

    Emphasis mine.

    That said, Google is already widely charged with abusing monopoly power to squash competition. The Daily Mail is, essentially, joining a bandwagon already packed with dozens of government agencies, tech companies and other media outlets. And it's bringing deep pockets to the fight.

    It'd be nice to see Google in discovery and made to explain the anticompetitive ad/search shenanigans being alleged. Google insists it keeps its ad and search arms independent (and it's even held that adding Google ad tech to your site can harm Google search result placements) but where there's a blackened smoking rend in the earth where healthy competition used to be, there's fire.

  • Chauvin conviction: watch Tucker Carlson melt down and laugh like The Joker

    Bowtied racist Tucker Carlson was enraged by today's murder conviction of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis cop who killed black local George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes. Videos of Carlson prissily declaring the end of American civilization are doing the rounds on social media, but none are so bizarre as this one. Ed Gavin, a former corrections officer appearing on Carlson's show on Fox News, makes the critical error of conceding that Chauvin used unnecessary force. Carlson nods oddly, rambles incoherently about "police inaction", then laughs like The Joker and ejects Gavin off the show.

    GAVIN: I just think that it was excessive and it shouldn't have—

    CARLSON: The guy who did it looks like he's doing to spend the rest of his life in prison. I'm kind of more worried about the rest of the country, thanks to police inaction, which if you haven't noticed is boarded up. HA HA HA HA HAH AH HAAAAAAGH! So that's more my concern.

    GAVIN: Uh. Look…

    CARLSON: Nope. You're done

  • Colorful M1 iMacs and M1 iPad Pro announced

    Apple today announced a redesigned range of inch-thick iMacs based upon its own M1 processors, offered in a range of bright colors (with matching TouchID keyboards, mice and trackpads) and sporting a 24", 4.5K retina display. Execs promised an 85% improvement on the last Intel-based iMacs' CPU performance, 2x faster graphics—games and video editing figured strongly in the presentation—and 3x machine learning performance. There are 4 USB ports, two running Thunderbolt 4, and an external power brick, to which the ethernet port is offloaded.

    The M1 platform itself appears unchanged from November's last fall's well-received models, with an 8 core CPU and GPU.

    Also announced Tuesday:

    • A new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip, touting "blazing performance" directly comparable to Apple's laptop and desktop models. New models will include a Thunderbolt connector, 5G internet and an ultrawide camera. The 12.9" model has a 1600 nit mini-LED display, too, designed to match the brightness and color fidelity of Apple's high-end 6K Pro XDR monitor.

    • A purple iPhone.

    • AirTags, little trackable coinlike objects similar to Tile.

    • A new 4K generation of the AppleTV.

    The new iMacs and iPads are available in late May, starting (respectively) at $1299 and $799.

  • Yes, bring back netbooks

    The netbook reminiscing of late had me checking out what's offered in the world of small but typeable laptops, and I'm sad to say that there's not a lot to pick from. Most of the easily available options are either too large (like the 11" Asus L210 or various 11.6" chromebooks available on Amazon), too small (like the 7" GPD Pocket), too expensive (like the otherwise bill-fitting 10" One Mix 4 or 9" GPD Max), or blatant parts-bucket junk like the Goldengulf 10" Android Laptop. The Lenovo Tablet 10 was on the ball recently enough, but is discontinued, hard to find, and easily confused for similarly-named and similar-looking devices that don't come with reasonable keyboards or a desktop OS.

    If anything, it seems like the shortcomings of the netbooks that once were have left a nasty smell at the place (cheap, low-end, 9"-10") we might otherwise head, discouraging users and manufacturers alike. The most obvious way to get a useful, fun-to-use "laptop" in this range is to put an iPad in a Brydge keyboard case [brydge.com] or put up with the Surface Go 2's flimsy keyboard flap—and perhaps that is, for most of us, the right answer.

    But a lot of us want (need! for work!) more fully-featured operating systems such as Microsoft's popular "Windows 10" and a real keyboard. In an age of power-sipping ARM CPUs, bezel-less displays and well-tailored operating systems I hereby demand the return of the classic netbook form factor.

    Pictured above is the One Mix 4, next to an old Asus EeePC, as posted by Liliputing's Brad Linder, who gives the Mix a good review. Someone make that—just not with the $1300 spec sheet!

  • Ted Nugent last year: Covid is a scam! Ted Nugent this year: OK so I have Covid

    In his Christmas message last year, American singer songwriter Ted Nugent said that Covid was a scam, that there was no real pandemic, and that people who wear masks to prevent its transmission are "sheep". Last night, however, Nugent admitted that he had caught the disease and spent 10 days believing he was dying: "it was a clusterfuck." In the message on Facebook Live, Nugent declares that "I got the Chinese shit", pivoting elegantly from denialism to racism.

    Describing his symptoms including a "stuffed-up head" and "body-aches", Nugent continued: "My god, what a pain in the a**. I literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days… So I was officially tested positive for Covid-19 today."

    Nugent, 72, said in his Facebook Live posting that he was told not to admit he had the disease, presumably by the same people who encouraged him to publicly wonder why we didn't shut down for the first 18 Covids.

  • U.S. policing budgets would rank as the world's third-highest military expenditure

    $118bn was spent funding police forces in the U.S. in 2018, according to the Security Policy Reform Institute. It collectively makes American police forces the world's third-most expensive military organization, after the U.S.'s official armed forces and China's.

    The chart is somewhat misleading, though, in that the same is basically true of other wealthy countries: per-capita spending on police in Europe is also very high, but the countries are less populous. Police forces in the UK enjoy some $25bn in funding, for example, a spend proportionate to the US total that nonethless places it outside the top ten on the that military spending chart.

    But there's one thing that's plainly different: US police are militarized by policy, trained to treat the public as a threat, and kill people in far greater numbers than their foreign counterparts. The declared enemy of American police forces is the American people, and their war on us claims about 1000 lives a year.