• Anderson Cooper tears MyPillow CEO open like a bag of chips

    Mike Lindell is the CEO of MyPillow. It's a pillow company! So, when he claims that oleandrin is an incredible breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19, you know you can trust him. But hey, if the medical opinion of a pillow company manager isn't enough for you, you can rest assured that supplement has been vetted by the FDA!

    Except, no. To all of this.

    Oleandrin is a poisonous plant that could maybe do something good for someone, somewhere, for something. Thus far, however, there's no peer-reviewed study of it being useful, in any capacity, in the fight against COVID-19. Then there's this thing where the Food and Drug Administration isn't responsible for reviewing supplements. Did I mention that Lindell was successfully dinged for one-million dollars for making bullshit medical claims about his company's pillows, back in 2016?

    All of this is cool, though, as Lindell has consulted with a medical professional on the matter. Dr. Ben Carson said that using Oleandrin was totally awesome for dealing with a disease that's killed over 173,000 Americans, not to mention the scores COVID-19 of deaths, worldwide. Yes, Dr. Ben Carson: the Oreos guy.

    Anyway, here's Anderson Cooper casually eviscerating Lindell and his bullshit over the course of an 11-minute interview. Enjoy.

    Image via Flickr, courtesy of Gage Skidmore

  • LEGO piece spends two years inside of a child's skull

    When I was a kid, something inspired me to jam so much Cheese Whiz up my nose that, even after a trip to the hospital, there's still very likely some hanging around in my sinus cavities, 35 years later.

    Anyway here's a story from The Guardian about a young fella that had a piece of LEGO stuck in his face for two years.

    From The Guardian:

    Seven-year-old Sameer Anwar of Dunedin, in the south of New Zealand, inserted a tiny piece of Lego up his nose in 2018. Sameer's father, Mudassir, and his wife became alarmed when their son told them he had lost a piece of Lego up his nose, and couldn't find it.

    The concerned parents took their son to the GP, who was also unable to find, or remove it. The doctor advised them the piece would move through their son's digestive tract, if it had even been there in the first place.

    However, the LEGO was not pooped out as predicted.

    It stayed in Sameer's skull, largely forgotten about, until, two years later. As Sameer inhaled to take a big hit off the bouquet produced by a plate of cupcakes, his nose began to hurt. Concerned that her child might have inhaled a bit too much cupcake, his mother encouraged the boy to blow his nose.

    Boom: LEGO.

    The piece that Sameer had hitchhiking inside of his head during the ordeal appeared to be, according to The Guardian, a part of a LEGO figure's arm.

    Image via Wikipedia Commons

  • The Queen of England frigging loves Flash Gordon

    Say what you will about the British Royal Family, but Queen Elizabeth II has excellent taste in movies.

    In a recent article published by The Guardian, Brian Blessed, actor and goddamn international treasure, is said to have stated that The Queen's favorite movie is the 1980 sci-fi touchstone, Flash Gordon. In the film, in Blessed played the pivitol role of Prince Vultan.

    From The Guardian:

    "Everywhere I go, they all want me to say 'Gordon's alive!'," said Blessed. "The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, horses and queens, and prime ministers, they all want me to say 'Gordon's alive!', it's their favourite film."

    He continued: "The Queen, it's her favourite film, she watches it with her grandchildren every Christmas."

    The actor then assumed the Queen's accent, quoting her as saying: "You know, we watch Flash Gordon all the time, me and the grandchildren. And if you don't mind, I've got the grandchildren here, would you mind saying 'Gordon's alive'?"

    I don't know about you, but I like the idea of someone who puts on a stern, steady face for the public, wasting a few hours with an exceptional B-movie whilst digging into a packet of Jacob's Mini Cheddars with her grandkids.

    Image via Wikipedia Commons

  • Shut-in Sounds: Mike Plume Band—Promise Me You'll Never Tell

    Sometimes, being trapped inside and distanced from the world, with all of the other worries you may have on your plate, leads you to wander back to darker times.

    I first heard this song back in 2001.

    I'd left the east coast in the early days of the year, to move back to Ontario. My mind and body were broken. I couldn't write anymore. I was numb, to most things. When I wasn't doing shift work, I occupied myself with non-prescription sleeping pills and pint glasses of Jameson in a prayer for dreamless sleep. I was nowhere near close to being ready to address the trauma in my life or the damage I'd done to others over the past few years. I was trying to build a life and move on, but everything showed to the outside world was what I thought I should be, instead of who I was.

    I recall walking through a near-empty mall, perhaps a week after September 11th. There was a pair of televisions in the middle of its atrium: an unmanned kiosk, advertising cable packages. Footage of the tragedy in New York City played repeatedly, in silence, as CNN chyrons raced to the edge of the TV displays. A nervous-looking Sikh father ushered his wife and young children through the mall. I didn't feel a single emotion over any of it. I remember being disturbed by this.

    As I walked home, my shopping done, the song came on the radio, filling my ears. Its sentiment gnawed at what little was left of my soul, but I couldn't stop listening. I shifted between bawling and hyperventilation as I worked my way back to home. I finished the last of a bottle in one pull.

    I can listen to the song now, without losing my shit. But the memory of the pain I felt at its introduction into my life tugs at my coat every time I hear it.

  • I miss The Traveling Wilburys

    When you're talking garage bands, you'd have to work very hard indeed to find one as playful, tight and superstar-packed as The Traveling Wilburys. I first heard them when I was 12. My mom's a Beatles fan and pulled the trigger on their first album because of George Harrison's involvement. I feel in love with their sound. When their second record was released, The Traveling Wilburys Volume 3, I lost my shit thinking that I'd somehow missed a whole album of theirs. It took me two years before I discovered it was a joke.

    Man, I miss these guys.

     

    Image via Flickr user badgreeb RECORDS

  • Report: wireless phone charging is an ecological disaster waiting to happen

    If you've bought a premium smartphone handset over the past few years,  it's a safe bet that it came equipped with wireless charging technology baked into it. Wireless charging is wicked cool! In the Long, Long Ago, we had to carry one of the many USB cables most of us had kicking around our home if we wanted to charge our phone. Said cable needed to be plugged into a USB port and damn, they were really hard to find.  Such a nightmare. Today, praise the gods, we have the privilege of having to rely on a wireless charging pad plugged into a wall at home. Or the office—they're not terribly portable and you pretty much can only use them on a flat surface like a desk or the top of a casket. And, unlike the horror of using your phone while it's connected to a USB cable, your phone will stop charging as soon as you remove it from it's charging pad. But hey, wireless!

    I kid, I kid. Wireless charging's actually pretty great becau—oh shit.

    From OneZero:

    On paper, wireless charging sounds appealing. Just drop a phone down on a charger and it will start charging. There's no wear and tear on charging ports, and chargers can even be built into furniture. Not all of the energy that comes out of a wall outlet, however, ends up in a phone's battery. Some of it gets lost in the process as heat.

    While this is true of all forms of charging to a certain extent, wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get even less efficient when the coils in the phone aren't aligned properly with the coils in the charging pad, a surprisingly common problem.

    To get a sense of how much extra power is lost when using wireless charging versus wired charging in the real world, I tested a Pixel 4 using multiple wireless chargers, as well as the standard charging cable that comes with the phone. I used a high-precision power meter that sits between the charging block and the power outlet to measure power consumption.

    In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable.

    As OneZero's Eric Ravencraft points out, the power being used to charge your smartphone, compared to the juice that the rest of your home consumes, is like a fart in a hurricane: hardly even noticeable. That 47% loss? even more so. Think about how many times a year you charge your phone. That you're losing close to half of the power that should be going into your handset makes that fart robust enough that you might get a quick whiff of it as the hurricane continues to whips around. Now, consider all of the other people wasting electricity to charge their phones. The stink of all of that lost power becomes strong enough that you'd swear you were standing in a bathroom at the Cracker Barrel.

    As part of Ravencraft's investigation, he spoke with the good people at iFixit. They estimated, assuming that the estimated 3.5 billion smartphones were all being charged at 47% efficiency, you'd need 147 coal power plants running for 24 hours, just to charge all of those handsets, just once.

    Given how fucked our environment is already, you might want to consider kicking it old school with a USB cable the next time you charge your smartphone.

    Image via PxHere

  • Toshiba's laptop business shuffles off this mortal coil

    In from the min-1990s, right through into the early years of the new millennium, Toshiba churned out some pretty solid laptop hardware. I've used a number of their lappy's in the past, across various industries. No matter what I threw at them, be it text, Photoshop, or a bit of gaming when the boss wasn't looking, Toshiba's hardware always proved capable of standing its ground.

    In recent years, Toshiba's taken a number of quiet steps away from their laptop business. This week, however, they dropped everything and ran like like hell from it: In a less-than-well-publicized press release, Toshiba announced that what little they had left to do with making laptops has been handed over to other, more interested companies.

    From Toshiba:

    TOKYO—Toshiba Corporation (TOKYO: 6502) hereby announces that it has transferred the 19.9% of the outstanding shares in Dynabook Inc. that it held to Sharp Corporation. As a result of this transfer, Dynabook has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sharp.

    Under the terms of a June 2018 share purchase agreement between Toshiba and Sharp, Toshiba transferred to Sharp 80.1% of the outstanding shares of Toshiba Client Solutions Co., Ltd (hereinafter TCS), then Toshiba's wholly-owned subsidiary in the personal computer business. That transfer closed in October 2018, and TCS changed its name to Dynabook in January 2019. On June 30, 2020, under the terms of the share purchase agreement, Sharp exercised a call option for the remaining outstanding shares of Dynabook held by Toshiba, and Toshiba has completed procedures for their transfer.

    So, That's that: a little less selection in an already underwhelming number of companies aspiring to meet our computing needs.

    Image via Flickr, courtesy of Cheon Fong Liew

  • $300 million in aid pledge to help the survivors of massive Beirut explosion

    Lebanon has a long, complicated history of pain, suffering, and mismanagement at the hands of oft-times self-serving oligarch government, their neighbors, and violent internal political movements.

    The country has been going through a financial meltdown over the past several years. This past July, the Lebanese pound was reported to have lost 80% of its worth.  Double-digit unemployment rates are making things worse. The nation's infrastructure, wholly inadequate for serving its people, routinely fails. Nightly blackouts, medical institutions included, are not uncommon. Last week's explosion one hell of a haymaker to sustain on top of all of these debilitating body blows. The city of Beirut, and its people, are shattered. Violent protests against the government have broken out with calls for the country's leaders to step down. Given all that's occurred, fair enough. In short, Lebanon's seven million citizens, need help.

    According to the BBC, despite the social and economic chaos that COVID-19 has caused in the rest of the world, a small handful of nations are stepping up to lend a hand in the form of close to $300 million in aid.

    From The BBC:

    Fifteen government leaders at the donor summit, spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, promised "major resources", according to a statement.

    "Assistance should be timely, sufficient and consistent with the needs of the Lebanese people," it said, adding that help must be "directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency".

    The donors were prepared to help Lebanon's longer-term recovery if the government listened to the changes demanded by the country's citizens, the communique said.

    President Macron's office said France had received pledges worth €252.7m ($297m, £227m) from the summit.

    $300 million sounds like a lot of cheddar. However, given that it's estimated that the explosion in Beirut caused $15 billion in damage to the city, it's a fart in a mist. As The BBC points out, there are "…58 people dead, 6,000 injured and 300,000 homeless," thanks to the detonation of a massive amount of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored in a warehouse located at the blast site, for six years. No doubt, more aid will be announced in the coming months and days. However, every little bit helps. If you're in a position to donate, The Lebanese Red Cross, the United Nations World Food Program, the International Medical Core, and Impact Lebanon Are all worth your consideration.

     

    Image via Wikipedia Commons

  • Department of State says travel is cool now… if you can find somewhere to go

    Good news everybody! After close to five months, the U.S. Department of State has rescinded its "Do Not Travel Advisory". The Level four travel warning, which was pushed out last March, warned Americans to stay the hell within their borders because the rest of the world was waaaaaaay too full of COVID-19 for anyone to risk travelling abroad. Now, it's totally cool with them for folks to leave the United States, if they want to.

    From the U.S. Department of State:

    On August 6, in close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of State lifted the Global Level 4 Health Advisory.  The Global Advisory, initially put in place on March 19, 2020, advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.

    With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions.  This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country.  We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic.

    Awesome… provided where you want to wander is on the list of nations interested in seeing Americans within their borders. Right now, the said list is pretty limited. However, many of the locales willing to allow U.S. citizens to meander their lands are absolutely lovely.

    As a Canadian, there are currently a ton of options of where I can travel to (not gloating here, it is what it is). Given that a new wave of COVID-19 (or more of the same damn wave, depending on how you look at it) is expected to hit un this fall, despite being a full-time nomad, I'll be staying home, this year. For me, there are too many unanswered questions about whether the health insurance I purchase when I'm travelling overseas will be enough to provide me with the care I need, were I to get sick. There's also the medical capabilities of the nations you're visiting to consider—are there enough beds and ventilators for the country's citizens, let alone foreign travellers? Finally, how in the hell would I get home if the part of the globe I was paying a visit to decided to go back into lockdown?

    Even though most of us are itching for a change of scenery, it's likely not the time to wander too far afield, just yet.

    Image via Wallpaperflare

     

  • Which PS4 games should I know about?

    As the next generation of game consoles get ready to roll out, a good friend has opted to give me the long-term use of his PS4.

    I am so totally stoked.

    During a rough financial patch, a few years back, I had to sell mine in order to keep the heat on and put food on our table. I've missed it, ever since. Over the past couple of weeks, I got to finally finish Fallout 4 (with all of the DLC!) as well as Batman: Arkham Knight. But there's still like, almost five years of games out there, that I've never had the opportunity to play. I'm betting scads of them are less expensive to purchase now, as well—Once we're out of our sublet and back into the RV, storage will be at a premium, so I'll likely go digital downloads only. As we'll be living in seclusion on Vancouver Island, this fall and winter, having the console to help keep me from going insane (or at least building on the level of insanity that I've already achieved), is going to be such a welcome comfort.

    I've got a copy of Red Dead Redemption III to noodle with. Any advice on what titles I should pick up? I like story-driven RPGs and open-world games. Straight ahead shooters and online games aren't my thing.

  • Canada has a long history with systemic racism

    As a young child, I was by told my mother that skin color didn't matter—everyone's the same. Almost all of the faces I encountered on a daily basis, were white. Two of my mother's friends from her job at the local university were from southeast Asia. They came to our lower-middle-class home, on occasion, for dinner, or a bit of coffee. My memory is terrible. However, I recall them being lovely individuals. It wasn't until I was in grade three that I someone my own age whose skin was a different shade than mine. She was from China. She was in my class. She played flute and, looking back, seemed so nervous of her English, that her voice cracked with emotion every time she spoke. I didn't always understand what she was saying, entirely, but I liked her a lot. Most kids my own age thought I was a little spooky and stayed the hell away from me. She didn't have any shits to give. We remained friends for years before losing touch. I never noticed that most of the other kids didn't want to bother with her, either.

    When I entered grade seven, I saw a Black kid for the first time. She was tall, friendly, and a little churchy. Despite my being a troublemaking little shit, we always had a smile for one another and worked on class projects together frequently. Everyone seemed to like her. However, it wasn't uncommon to see her cry in our school's hallways or outside at recess. At an awkward, hormone-filled age, I couldn't find the bravery required to ask a girl, who I very likely had a crush on, why she was upset.

    Entering public high school meant entering a wider world. The school had an English as a Second Language program. There were a few kids in the program that hailed from joints like India and Korea, and places in Africa that I couldn't yet find on a map. Most of the program's participants, however, were from eastern Europe. In between periods, the majority of these kids, who, with their parents, had escaped ugly situations in authoritarian states. They kept to themselves, for the most part. They smoked, joked and talked in their home languages, occasionally breaking out an English word. They had their own little world out back of the school. I liked to listen to them talk. It made me feel a little less lonely. I never considered why they didn't hang out and smoke with everyone else on the opposite side of the high school.

    It wasn't until went to university that I started to see a wider spectrum of ethnicities, cultures and quietly smoldering racism. I was not what you'd call a 'woke' kid. I didn't hate anyone, except for myself. But, I wasn't tuned into what was going on around me. My compatriots had made the effort to understand more of the world. There were anti-racism groups on campus. Associations that protested in the square outside of city hall, downtown. White people talking about the treatment of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

    I should have heard more. I should have listened. I was, however, too wrapped up in making terrible fucking decisions that haunt me to this day.

    The privilege of being white, coming from a predominately white community, and having the time and headspace to be fucked up by what I now know to be trauma suffered in my childhood, sheltered me from the pain and suffering of so many people around me.

    It's only been a handful of years, thanks to my involvement in the Jewish community and my wife's unblinking view of the wrongs in our nation, that I've come to understand how fucking racist Canada has been and continues to be. We've built on stolen land, worked hard to rob its Indigenous people of their language, culture and lives. Blacks were subjected to violence and slander up here, the same as they have been in the United States. Today, thanks to lies spread about COVID-19, racially motivated assaults against Asians are a thing here—having an excuse has made cowards willing to other folks who have done nothing to them, out of fear, brave. Police violence against minorities? We might not have invented the concept, but we have it going on.

    I try to be a good ally now. As I work from home and see so few people on a daily basis, I do not have many opportunities to try very hard. I could do better. I have not.

    I can, however, now see my country for what it is: Canada is racist, in its own special way. It is quiet and denying. It often hides in the clothes of the greater good. It has been veiled in Christian Values.

    I wish it were not the case. But such wishes change nothing.

  • An adjustable cutlery tray is going to sort out one of my biggest RV kitchen beefs

    For the five years that my wife and I have traveled around North America in our 40' motorhome, I've been throwing all of our cutlery, unorganized, into a single drawer, like some kind of animal.

    It's not that I don't want to find a fork when I need one. The drawers you'll find in most motorhomes and trailers are small. The sorts of cutlery trays y'all use at home typically won't fit into them. In the past, I've considered building an organizer into the drawer we use for cutlery. It didn't happen in the end: Just because you want to keep your knives and absinthe spoon in a drawer now, doesn't mean the storage space won't be used for something else down the road, later.

    After years of looking for a solution, I finally came across this adjustable cutlery tray on Amazon. Problem soved.

  • Video: How long can food stay frozen once the power's out?

    As my refrigerator and freezer are both designed to run off of 12v, 120v (supplied by a diesel generator, if needs be) or propane, Having my food spoil during a power outage isn't at the top of my list of worries. However, having rented whole lotta apartments before moving into my current digs, I understand the stress that can come from fretting over having hundreds of dollars worth of food ruined, thanks to a blackout.

    Growing up in a tornado-prone region of Canada, I was taught that, once the lights go out, the fridge and freezer stayed closed: every time you open either of them when there's no juice to run the refrigerator's or chest freezer's compressors, you're allowing heat in, making it more probable that your food will be borked before power's restored. Of course, no one ever knew when the lights would be coming back on, in the aftermath of a storm. Nor did they have any idea of how long the food being chilled could stay cold once the fridge or freezer were no longer being powered.

    For his work on sorting out an estimate of how long your frozen shit will stay frozen, the gentleman in this video deserves a medal. Depending on what type of refrigerator or freezer you own, your chilly mileage may vary. But the data-driven estimate that this video provides is the best resource on the topic that I've encountered.