Why Evolution Is True introduced me to a profoundly awesome example of mimicry in nature: Uropyia meticulodina, a moth from eastern Asia that looks like a dead leaf.
Real Monstrosities: "It’s not just brown like a dead leaf, it’s brown like a curled up, dead leaf. And it’s not just brown like a curled up, dead leaf, it depicts a leaf catching the light, with shadows in all the right places and you can even see the veins casting tiny shadows along the curled underside. It’s like one of those optical illusions that still work even when you know it’s a trick."
Here's what it looks like "normally", or at least when pinned to a board. (Hsu Hong Lin, CC)
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Dark Reader is a browser plugin, available for Firefox, Safari and Chrome, that gives any website a light-on-dark color scheme. Unlike some other efforts, it can invert images too. You can tweak on a per-site basis, with sliders for grayscaling, contrast, font substitution and such, and it remembers your picks.
See how pretty it makes our gift guide!
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In this chilling video, YouTuber oncologist Chubbyemu tells the story of a woman who colon-cleansed by drinking a liter of soy sauce—which would be about 200g of sodium on top of whatever other crap is in there, five times the lethal dose. The internet has long been a place to go for bad advice, but now more of it is malicious and no-one can tell. Things did not go well for her. Read the rest
The Boing Boing Gift Guide has dozens of great ideas for stocking stuffers, brain-hammers, mind-expanders, terrible toys and badass books.
It comes in four easily-digestible parts, this time around: Books, Gadgets, Toys and Stocking Stuffers.
Happy holidays! Read the rest
Tumblr, the mainstream web's last redoubt for niche smut in general and queer smut in particular, is going to clean house. The social blogging platform is banning all adult material on December 17.
Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breast-feeding and after birth photos.
"Users have a chance to appeal flagged content"
The policy change takes effect on December 17th. From then on, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community.
Even the cold dead embrace of a Yahoo! acquision could not end Tumblr, such was the power of fandom gathered there. But Yahoo never knew what it owned in Tumblr and was indifferent to its continued existence. The management of new Yahoo owner Verizon, however, has a pulse. It knows what Tumblr is and it hates it. It will hack it down until a perfectly clean advertising- and appstore-friendly traffic center remains.
That phrase Tumblr uses, "female-presenting nipples", is rather on the nose. Read the rest
Countries surrounding the North Sea imposed an outsize impact on world affairs. But the sea itself was once land, and might have stayed that way had world temperatures been a degree or two different. Lee Rimmer wonders: What if Doggerland had survived?
The cultural impact of changing the movement of tribal groupings within northwestern Europe would be immediately evident in terms of language. ...The languages spoken in modern Doggerland and its neighbouring states may sound vaguely familiar to us, but we wouldn’t understand them.
...Doggerland’s more sheltered, lower-lying peninsula may have been a more agreeable farming region than the windswept highlands of the British Isles, leaving them with a much lower population distribution. Stonehenge, or something like it, may have been built on the plains of Doggerland rather than Salisbury Plain.
Wild, impossible counterfactuals. My favored parallel-world Doggerland is one that remained as a small island (even now its uplands lie barely feet under the waves). A strange spooky pinewood backwater where the signs are in three languages and the kids speak them all, and where the rain washes the blood leaching from the deep earth.
The (real) Dogger is to serve as the foundations of a vast offshore wind farm, which will provide 4.8GW of sustainable power. Read the rest
Right-wing persona Milo Yiannopoulous was supposed to tour Australia with an ever-shifting lineup of alt-right numpties. But it's all fallen apart, and the tour organizers have taken revenge by dumping his dox as part of an apparently-pending lawsuit. Revealed are staggering debts: unpaid contributors to his website galore, $56k in wedding expenses, $76k owed to the ghostwriter of his (famously bad) book. There's even a $16k debt to a clothing company, suggesting that the number of people who want to walk around with Augusto Pinochet tees was radically overestimated.
The documents show Yiannopoulos demanding money from the promoters for his living expenses, medical bills for himself and his husband, and payment for his employees, on top of sums that the promoters claim they had already transferred to him.
At one point, as he attempts to negotiate the transfer of more funds from the Spillers, Yiannopoulos remarks in a message that “I am less financially secure, more panicked and stressed, and more miserable than when we started”, and then says he returned his wedding ring to Cartier to wipe out the debt he had with them.
The Mercers want $400k back from him! What a hoot.
Americans, especially when in New York, are easily fooled by superficial indicia of wealth, is all I have to say. Read the rest
Cephalopod intelligence is widely known, but scientists struggle to understand why it evolved. The New York Times' Carl Zimmer reports on one of zoology's most fascinating questions.
About 275 million years ago, the ancestor of today’s cephalopods lost the external shell. It’s not clear why, but it must have been liberating. Now the animals could start exploring places that had been off-limits to their shelled ancestors. Octopuses could slip into rocky crevices, for example, to hunt for prey. On the other hand, losing their shells left cephalopods quite vulnerable to hungry predators. This threat may have driven cephalopods to become masters of disguise and escape. They did so by evolving big brains, the ability to solve new problems, and perhaps look into the future — knowing that coconut or clam shells may come in handy, for example.
Yet intelligence is not the perfect solution for cephalopods, Mr. Amodio suggested. Sooner or later, they get eaten. Natural selection has turned them into a paradox: a short-lived, intelligent animal.
They also like MDMA. Read the rest
Thirty years after its mostly-European heydey, the Commodore Amiga remains a cult favorite with a huge library of excellent and often weird games to discover. But what if emulation isn't your idea of fun? This guy went out and bought a real one.
The Amiga still has an active and faithful community, and it's thanks to them that it's possible to pick up an Amiga and get it upgraded and running all these years later. I also think it's a testament to how important the machine was in the UK and around Europe.
If you're looking to learn more about the booming home-brew game scene during 80's Britain then I can highly recommend "From Bedroom to Billions", it's a little low budget but seems to capture the time perfectly.
The follow-up documentary, "From Bedroom to Billions: the Amiga Years" is also a must watch if you have fond memories of the Amiga.
Interesting how buying a later, more powerful model, obliged him to further upgrade it before games were playable. The low-end 512Kb Amigas were invariably put to use as game consoles, booting right into games, the code given bare-metal access. But it seems fancier models more or less obliged users to launch games from the operating system's GUI, Workbench. And there even 2Mb wasn't enough.
If you like Workbench, though, there's a new simulation of it online. Just for fun! "OS 1.3" is the right one for the legendary A500 era. Read the rest
I haven't played Bloody Rally, an old-school top-down racing game echoing Super Sprint and Carmageddon, but I like the look of its procedurally-generated tracks. Read the rest
A Florida judge reversed a DUI driver's guilty verdict because a cop lied, and it's all on video.
After pulling over a woman he claims to have seen drinking beer at the wheel, Sanford, Fla., police officer Michael Wagner filed a citation saying she'd been breathalyzed over the legal alcohol limit, and her license was suspended. At trial, though, Wagner testified that no breath-alcohol test was conducted and that all he did was book her into jail.
This video shows district court judge Fred Schott yelling at the prosecutor over Wagner's shenanigans and throwing the driver's guitly verdict out.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the judge has been asked to only do civil cases for a while. He sticks by his decision but admits he shouldn't have gotten mad at the prosecutor—or granted a nonexistent motion for a new trial after apparently aquitting the driver.
"I was angry," he said. "I probably got more emotional than I should have, but I really feel this woman was treated unfairly." ... Schott accused Wagner of falsifying a sworn document by checking the box that indicated Gonzalez had failed a blood or breath test.
"I want you to take him up for perjury," the judge said. 'He lied. He lied on a sworn citation. … He broke the law.
Even if it was an honest mistake, note that it's incomprehensible to police or the presecutor that they be held responsible for the mistake. Even when the only thing at stake is one iffy DUI case. Read the rest
Amber Guyger, the Dallas cop who killed an unarmed neighbor in his own apartment then claimed she had thought she was in her apartment, was charged today with murder.
Guyger, who was arrested and fired from her job as a Dallas police officer after the September shooting, initially faced a charge of manslaughter. But Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson had said a grand jury could issue a stiffer charge. Botham Jean's family has wanted Guyger to be indicted for murder, their attorney Daryl Washington told CNN. Guyger, who is white, was off-duty when she encountered Jean, an 26-year-old unarmed black man, in his apartment on September 6, police said. Still in her uniform, Guyger parked her car in the complex and walked to what she believed was her apartment, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Local authorities slow-walked both Guyger's original arrest and the investigation into her killing of Botham Shem Jean, giving her days to plan her story and months to prepare her defense. Read the rest
Procedural generation isn't just for video game landscapes and galaxies. The technique for creating vast amounts of realistic but uncannily superficial content goes back a long way. Pfizer used it to generate drug names in 1956, feeding code to an IBM mainframe and getting potential products in return.
James Ryan (@xfoml) posted excerpts from news article from the time (above), and it's fascinating to read how it's described for a mid-1950s lay audience to whom computers and their ways were utterly alien.
Based on the newspaper's description, Hugo (@hugovk) reimplemented the 60-year-old generator, and now you too can generate thousands of realistic but uncannily superficial drug names.
NEW DRUG NAMES
IMPROPER FOR A FAMILY MEDICINE CHEST
From the full output list I like "coughedore" -- like a stevedore, but for unloading mucus.
I wonder how long it took Pfizer to realize that procgen is useless. Read the rest
DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather both pitched deals to their followers, but did not disclose or admit they were paid to do so. Both are being fined as a result of the undisclosed sponsorships, which were, of course, for sleazy cryptocurrencies.
Both took money to promote Centra Tech, an ICO that eventually led to fraud charges for several of its masterminds. The SEC found that Mayweather took $100,000 to promote the Centra token, as well as $200,000 to promote two other ICOs, in posts like an Instagram message where he told his millions of followers "You can call me Floyd Crypto Mayweather from now on." DJ Khaled was paid $50,000 to promote Centra Tech -- facts neither mentioned in their social media posts. While they avoided admitting any wrongdoing, both will have to give up the money they were paid, along with an additional $300,000 penalty for Mayweather to go with a $100,000 fine for DJ Khaled (plus interest).
A phenomenon of the Twitter era is celebrities not really bothering with professional financial and business help beyond accountants. The dumb ones are easier marks than ever.
Here's the SEC press release on the Centra coin shenanigan. It peaked at a $240m market cap but quickly deflated and is now nearly worthless; the founders were arrested in April. Read the rest
Monopoly for Millennials, an edition of the game noted for its surprisingly contemptuous mockery of younger generations, was perfectly-designed to go viral. It's $55 at Amazon, but WalMart had it for just $20 (sold out, I'm afraid). The Bearded Picker went from store to store buying every box and selling them online. All he had to do was iterate the "available" count on his third-party seller listing at Amazon, raking in $2500 for a single (admittedly long and arduous) day's work.
Other sellers report that Amazon prevents them selling these as "New". One explanation is that they're may be setting the price too high, tipping the algorithm off that they're gouging customers. But The Bearded Picker also points out that he's an approved seller of the brand at Amazon:
Certain brands require approval before you can sell them. It helps AZ fight counterfeits or the brand has requested it by entering the brand registry.
Amazon-approved arbitrage! Read the rest
Stayed at a Starwood hotel in the last five years or so? Every one of you and more—as many as 500 million people, says owner Marriott—are implicated in what would be the second-largest hack of all time.
The company said Friday that credit card numbers and expirations dates of some guests may have been taken. For about 327 million people, the information exposed includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date and communication preferences. For some guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address or other information.
Yahoo holds the record, with 3bn accounts breached. The only other breach in the same league as these would be the 412m accounts dumped from Adult Friend Finder. Marriott and Starwood merged two years ago, but open season at Starwood's servers apparently continued until September this year. Read the rest