Build your own bagpipes out of a trash bag and record and learn to play in quarantine

Instructables.com has some new instructions on how to build your own bagpipes, and all you need is:

1 Garbage Bag or large plastic bag 2 Recorders (or 2 PVC Recorders:https://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Recorder/) 2 Pens (You can also use a decent sized straw or a piece of hose) Scissors Tape

It sounds a little ridiculous, but when you break it down, bagpipes are basically just a recorder with a drone with an attached airbag. As long as you're social distancing, you can imagine yourself standing atop the grassy peaks of the Highlands, where your DIY Garbage Bagpipes can be heard all across the land, undoubtedly pleasing your neighbors to no end.

I know what I'm doing this weekend.

How to Make Bagpipes Out of a Garbage Bag and Recorders [Instructables.com]

Image: Public Domain via PxFuel Read the rest

A webcomic explainer on how the census deals with digital privacy

Journalist's Resource published this great comic by Josh Neufeld, explaining the basic concepts behind differential privacy, the data collection method used to prevent bad actors from de-anonymizing the information gleaned from the 2020 Census.

The original source includes some other great resources on differential privacy, but since the comic itself is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, we've re-posted it here in full.

 

A brief introduction to differential privacy: A data protection plan for the 2020 census [Josh Neufeld / Journalist's Resource] Read the rest

There will be no new comic books in any stores "until further notice," thanks to coronavirus.

Diamond Comics is the exclusive shipping and distribution source for all weekly comic books. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! — they all send their single-issues to comic book stores through Diamond.

Due to coronavirus concerns, however, the company has halted all shipments for the foreseeable future.

Comic book stores can still sell other merchandise, as well as some graphic novels, trade paperbacks, collected editions, and other bound book-style publications. Single-issues will also continue to be available digitally through Comixology, as most publishers have already announced their solicitations for new comics through at least June.

But what this means for the future of the comic book industry remains to be seen. While graphic novels and trade paperbacks of single issues have continued to increase in popularity, those single weekly issues remain the backbone of the industry, just as they've been for the last 50+ years. The entire serialized structure of the medium depends on it. Even if you prefer to pick up the collected editions of SAGA (also known as "waiting for the trade"), the comic still benefits from the 6 months of promotion that it gets every time a new single issue is released. Each single issue sells around 40,000 copies, compared to 1-2,000 copies per graphic novel (although the first trade paperback continues to sell more than 1,000 copies per month on average, based on a quick glance through Diamond's sales charts). Self-contained graphic novels — those that are created and released as a single, cohesive entity, instead of as a collection of single issues — rarely sell as well as collected trade paperbacks. Read the rest

Official NYC Health Guidelines advise against rimjobs during coronavirus outbreak

An official memo from the New York City Department of Health offers guidance for sexual intercourse during social distancing. Among other things, it warns:

We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex.

COVID-19 has been found in feces of people who are infected with the virus. COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid. We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex.

And provides a very important reminder that:

You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.

But above all, you need to know that:

Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth.

So now you know: if you're in New York City, DiBlasiDon't Go Ass-To-Mouth.

Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [NYC Health]

Image via I am R. / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

Bernie Sanders drops truths on the Senate floor about the Coronavirus Stimulus Package

It was initially reported that the $2 trillion Economic Aid package would include $1,200 per person making under $75,000 (less than a month's rent is many cities) and extend unemployment benefits by four months. But people like Sen. Rick Scott complained that a few lucky poor people might get a teeny bit more than they deserve. And the GOP can't have that. Oh no.

So Senator Sanders took to the floor and made a rousing speech about the GOP's constant and compulsive need to punish and humiliate the poor at all costs.

He's right. If a trillionaire suddenly decided to give $100,000 of their own money to every American, the GOP would stop them for fear that it might benefit one or two poor people who (they believe) is lazy and mooching and thus morally undeserving of the cash. Punishment takes priority over progress, every time. It's why an actual, functional Universal Basic Income package would never pass in this country — even if it was fiscally responsible, and ultimately reduced the National Debt, the GOP simply couldn't sleep if there was one single poor person who used it as an opportunity to sit back and relax. Read the rest

NASA fixed a Mars probe by hitting it with a shovel

The Mars InSight Lander has a ton of tools for exploring the Red Planet next door, including a 15-inch digging probe (also known as "the mole") meant to burrow into the Martian soil and take measurements.

Unfortunately, the mole got stuck. From Popular Science:

A rock could be in the way, but the more likely culprit appears to be the Martian soil. Previous observations had led the German Aerospace Center engineers who designed the probe to expect that it would be digging through loose sand. They built the mole to bounce up and down like a jackhammer, sinking with each stroke and threading its way around any modestly sized rocks it encountered. But the probe has found soil that seems more dirt-like than sand-like; It sticks together and doesn’t collapse around the mole to give it enough friction to dig. What the mole needs is a little nudge.

So what did they do to get the mole unstuck? They used the shovel-like scoop at the end of one of the InSight Lander's robot arms to pin down the mole. "The move is risky," Popular Science explained, "because a delicate tether that provides power and communications from the lander attaches to the back part of the mole, and a hard whack could damage it."

Fortunately, it worked.

Who knew that the "Why are you hitting yourself?" game would be such a useful tool for space exploration?

At long last, NASA’s probe finally digs in on Mars [Charlie Wood / Popular Science]

NASA fixes Mars lander by telling it to hit itself with a shovel [Dan Robitzski / Futurism]

Mars InSight Lander to push on top of mole [NASA]

Image: Public Domain via NASA/JPL-Caltech Read the rest

Stop flushing shit besides TP and shit down your toilet

A good toilet paper is hard to find these days, thanks to everyone's totally irrational coronavirus panic buying. But that's not the biggest problem for our butts.

No, worse is that alt-TPs are messing with our septic systems, which makes an even bigger mess for everyone.

My colleague Doug Mahoney has a great new blog post over at Wirecutter that explains why you shouldn't flush anything but toilet paper down your porcelain throne, and also recommends some handy alternatives (and disposal methods) in case you do have a problem finding those cherished rolls of soft white butt scoopers.

 Toilet paper is very fragile and is designed to self-destruct in water with very little agitation. Tissues, on the other hand, are made to stand firm against a 100 mph sneeze discharging from your nose. Although the two products might have the same general look and feel, this video shows the difference in their durability. It takes less than 30 seconds of agitation for the toilet paper to be almost completely broken down. The tissue, however, remains fully intact. In plumbing, the bits of toilet paper can speed down the waste lines, but tissues remain big enough to catch on something, contributing to a clog.

Out of Toilet Paper? You Have Other Options. Just Don’t Flush Them! [Doug Mahoney / Wirecutter]

Image: Public Domain via PxHere Read the rest

Britney Spears calls for wealth distribution and a general strike amidst coronavirus shutdown

Oops the proletariat did it again.

View this post on Instagram

Communion goes beyond walls 🌹🌹🌹

A post shared by Britney Spears (@britneyspears) on Mar 23, 2020 at 12:42pm PDT

Britney's bluntly communistic instagram post is not her own original material; rather, it's a quote and image she stole from writer/artist Mimi Zhu, creator of the write 2 heal newsletter. It's surprising to see a pop star of her calibre suddenly sharing red roses, but in hindsight, "Toxic" was very clearly about the ills of capitalism, and we just didn't realize it at the time.

Workers, bitch.

Image: Peter Cruise / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

How to look cute on your webcam that the government is definitely spying on

View this post on Instagram

sorry for posting my face twice in a row but here’s an old one that seems relevant rn 💅

A post shared by Aiden :) (@aidenarata) on Mar 24, 2020 at 4:49pm PDT

Image via EFF / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

Do you have what it takes to be this guy's "Awesome Republican Goddess?" Take the quiz!

Reverend William is looking for love.

I have no idea what he's a Reverend of, or if he's even ordained at all. In fact, as you progress through his "Republican Goddess" quiz, he doesn't seem to be a Christian of any kind, but more of a New Age Spiritualist Right Wing Conspiracy Theorist. I'm not sure what that ordination ceremony entails (but then, I am ordained in the Church of Latter-Day Dudes).

But either way: "Reverend William" has grown tired of those lonely LA nights, and has set up a website to help him find true happiness.

I'm a healthy 68. I'm looking for a woman born in any year from 1950–1995, who takes excellent care of herself.

I am a natural-born U.S. citizen residing in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. I will consider relocating within the United States but am unwilling to move to another country. If the woman I'm looking for lives outside the United States, she must be willing and legally able to move to the United States to marry me and to live with me here.

As you read through this website, you will notice that I'm an intense, complex man who thinks waaay "outside the box." If my intensity/complexity is too much for you, or if I think too far "outside the box" for you, well then, we are not a match. I seek a woman who is likewise intense and complex (not a mild or simple woman; nor a woman who thinks I wrote way too much here).

Read the rest

Tim the Security Guard at the National Cowboy Museum is the wholesome content you need right now

This is Tim. He's the head of security at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. While everyone else is social distancing, Tim stands vigilant, protecting things like John Wayne's boots. So as long as he was there, the museum's social media team asked him to tweet for them.

Thanks, Tim.

Tim does not understand how hashtags work. But gosh darnnit, he tried it.

Or really how the Internet works.

Oh cool there are John Wayne's boots! Thanks, Tim.

I hope he's done his grandson proud. Read the rest

Right-wing websites are weighing the pros and cons of letting people die from coronavirus to help the economy

It's already been reported that Trump is getting antsy about all the social-distancing quarantines intended to flatten the curve of coronavirus deaths, and that he's eager to return things to business-as-normal. Who cares about a million deaths as long as the economy is moving, amirite?

I'm sure his decision has nothing to do with the fact that his own hotels are hurting from the shutdown. Again, what's a few million lives compared to the President's personal profits?

Unfortunately, Trump is not alone in his mass-murdering sentiment. Republicans have been parroting a new refrain this week, that, "The cure cannot be worse than the disease." But this implies that a few billionaires losing some money is objectively worse than a million dead. And that's just absurd.

Jonathan Ashbach took to The Federalist to complain about the ways that coronavirus impedes on that uniquely American value of "freedom."

It seems harsh to ask whether the nation might be better off letting a few hundred thousand people die. Probably for that reason, few have been willing to do so publicly thus far. Yet honestly facing reality is not callous, and refusing even to consider whether the present response constitutes an even greater evil than the one it intends to mitigate would be cowardly.

First, consider the massive sacrifice of life Americans are making in their social distancing campaign. True, nearly all are not literally dying, but they are giving up a good deal of what makes life worth living — work, classes, travel, hugs, time with friends, conferences, quiet nights out, and so forth.

Read the rest

This groovy tune will help you pick your work-from-home outfits while in quarantine

John J. King is a playwright and all-around awesome and clever dude; we were playwriting fellows together at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, and I also contributed some music to his Hamlet/James Bond mashup From Denmark With Love.

Now John has decided to share his work-from-home tips, in the form of a fun, dance-y music video (clothing optional). Enjoy! Read the rest

An American artist illustrates a webcomic love letter to her hometown of Wuhan

Laura Gao was born in Wuhan before moving to the US at the age of 3. An experienced graphic designer who now works for Twitter, Gao has been — understandably — frustrated with the virulant racism that's accompanied the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and Trump's continued insistence on blaming China for the virus.

But Wuhan isn't as well-known as other cities in China, even though it has a larger population than London or New York. So instead of letting her hometown continue to be associated with a pandemic, Gao wrote and illustrated a new webcomic to help people get to know the city where she was born, beyond those gross racist implications.

It's a short read, but it will remind you that Wuhan is indeed a place of humans, culture, and history, all of which deserve appreciation and respect.

The Wuhan I Know [Laura Gao]

Image: Creativity City in Wuhan by Majorantarktis / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0) Read the rest

Get pumped up with this brutal deathcore song about coronavirus

Vermicide Violence is one of several bands that essentially function as musical sub-genre standup routines for comedian Jarrod Alonge. Their newest "single" (for lack of a better word) is simultaneously a parody and love letter to deathcore that offers helpful advice for coronavirus and COVID-19.

Honestly, the lyrics are more intelligible than anything the President has said about the virus so far. Read the rest

Quarantine survival advice from Buzz Aldrin and other astronauts

I had the privilege of interviewing Buzz Aldrin a few years ago. The second man to step foot on the moon (and first to pee on it) had just released a new book, and won his first ever March Madness bracket, and the first thing he told me over the phone was how he'd spent his 80th birthday scuba diving in the Galapagos with his son, but got in trouble when he broke away from the group and grabbed a whale shark by the dorsal fin just so he could ride it.

Buzz Aldrin is a god damn national treasure and a real American badass. (I'd also love to see the look on that scuba instructor's face if/when they realized that the old man they were scolding was in fact Buzz Aldrin.)

Now, Aldrin is 90 years old, which puts him at particularly high risk for infection by the novel coronavirus. But this national treasure has a solid plan to stay safe, as detailed to Eric Berger at Ars Technica: "Lying on my ass and locking the door."

Aldrin is a survivor — of outer space, of shitty jobs, and of alcoholism and depression — so I tend to trust his advice. But if you're looking for something more substantial, Forbes spoke with several other astronauts about their time in isolation, including NASA’s Human Research Program Director Bill Paloski, Ph.D.; John Grunsfeld PhD, a retired NASA astronaut and Hubble Space Telescope repairman who spent over 59 days in space; and Dr. Read the rest

"Metropolis Kid" will make you dance like Superboy

Metropolis Kid by Model Decoy

I've known Doron Monk Flake and Ari Sadowitz since high school, and it's been an honor to watch their musical prowess grow and grow and grow. Their current project, Model Decoy, pumps out Prince-like post-punk jams, full of sick rock riffs and soaring jazzy vocals that bring gravitas to clever lyrics that are mostly about their favorite nerdy comic books and movies.

Their newest single, "Metropolis Kid," is a perfect example of this. It makes you want to tap your feet as you croon along with Superboy (being young Kon-El, the misfit clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, not that cranky bastard Superboy-Prime

You can find the band's back catalog on Spotify, but they just released "Metropolis Kid" and two other new songs exclusively on Bandcamp, which is waiving their fee today (March 20) so that struggling bands can get 100% of the proceeds of their music during this quarantine.

(If you're feeling generous, you can buy some tunes from my own band, the Roland High Life, too — we're not as funky as Model Decoy, but we do have some good banger about Spider-Man and, uhh, conspiracy theorists.)

Model Decoy on Bandcamp

Image: Pat Loika / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

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