• Virginia Gov. Youngkin's new snitch-line makes for great prankster fun

    Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has set up an email snitchline, where parents can report "divisive practices" taking place at their child's school, such as teaching the facts about racism in the US, or daring to ask students to wear a mask (of course Youngkin sends one of his own kids to a private school that enforces masks).

    As dystopian as it is, at least pranksters have found a new playground in Youngkin's budding Oceania, where they can flood the hotline with comical complaints of "unpleasant facts" for the governor to enjoy.

    For example:

    "Albus Dumbeldor was teaching that full blooded wizards discriminated against mudbloods!" one Harry Potter-inspired prankster claims to have written.

    "Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me!" another said, referencing the Simpsons.

    "My teenage son came home from school and told me my teachers are attempting to teach him! I'm outraged and find this completely unacceptable…" another began. "Who do these teachers think they are? …"

    Human rights lawyer and Sirius XM host Qasim Rashid collected some of the fun "tips" people say they emailed to Youngkin, pasting them into his tweet (below).

    "You guys. I explicitly said to NOT send fake racism tips to helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov and in response you all send this, pictured below," Rashid sarcastically said in his post.

    "So I repeat — do not use the below as a guide on how to send fake racism tips directly to the VA GOP Governor's Office. Thank you."

    That's right. Do NOT use the guide below — unless you want to have some fun.

    Via HuffPost

  • Custom sneakers based on VHS tapes

    I'm pretty basic when it comes to my sneakers. I tend to like the low-cut skate-style shoes, and I buy one pair that can pass as Business Casual and wear them til they're worn out. So I've never really understood the whole expensive fancy custom sneaker trend —

    — until I saw these Retrowave VHS Sneakers, which are dope as hell.

    Look familiar?

    New Retro sells a few different VHS-style shoes — including some Converse-like models that I may have to indulge in.

    New Retro 1988 VHS Retrowave Sneakers

  • Woman tricked by TikTok video drags family to a North Carolina town thinking it'll look like the Swiss Alps

    After seeing majestic snow-capped mountains in a TikTok video labeled "Gastonia, North Carolina," a Florida woman convinced her family to take a detour on their NC road trip, driving an hour out of their way to see the splendor for themselves. She said the video looked "like a little town out of Disney movie."

    But when they got there, all they saw was a flat town of gas stations and winter-bare trees. It turned out the video was just a joke, its footage actually showing a scenic town in Switzerland.

    Posting fake location videos is what TikToker Zachary Keesee does, so when a viewer suggested he troll Gastonia, he posted this:

    @realzacharykeesee

    Reply to @johnzimmerschied Gastonia, North Carolina. A TRUE gem 💎 #gastonia #northcarolina #switzerland #nc

    ♬ original sound – bradenjstanley

    But Olivia Garcia was new to Keesee's line of humor, and took the video seriously.

    "Once we started kind of going out of the mountains, I was a little suspicious," she told WSOC, explaining how they had just left the mountainous NC town of Boone. "I'm like, 'When are the mountains going to start back up again? We were 20 minutes out of the way then, and I was like, 'This doesn't seem right,' and once we got there, I was like, 'Oh God, this isn't it.'"

    Fortunately she had a sense of humor about it, and posted this TikTok video poking fun at the situation:

    Once the videos went viral, Gastonia's mayor, Walker E. Reid III, chimed in with an upbeat reaction: "Apparently we are the talk of the town! And while Gastonia is certainly not Switzerland, we're glad people are learning more about our great city."

    He then invited both TikTokers to give Gastonia another go, according to UPI.

    "We're glad to see so many people having fun with Zachary Keesee's post and hopefully Ms. Garcia will come back to see all the great things our city has to offer," he said. "In fact, if they want to contact me, I'd love to give them a personal tour and show them what makes our city tick."

  • In 1962, Chubby Checker's sold-out Twist Party was quite the show

    Sixty years ago this week, the Cow Palace in South San Francisco saw its first major concert when Chubby Checker headlined for his "Twist Party." At that time, "The Twist" was in the number one spot again, having first charted as number one in 1960. Two San Francisco deejays were crucial in the event's sell-out success which also paved the way for other well-known acts.

    The story is so interesting!

    The DJs, Tom Donahue and Bobby Mitchell, are on the powerhouse station KYA-AM, so they have no trouble lining up big names for the show, including Checker, Jan & Dean, Bobby Day and Gene Chandler. They sell out the venue, packing in 17,000 mostly teenage fans for the show – a testament to the power of "The Twist." Bobby Freeman of "Do You Want To Dance" fame, low on the bill, sparks a new dance craze when he is brought back on stage for an encore. Instead of singing, he makes up some dances, including one called "The Swim," where he acts like he's swimming on dry land. Eighteen-year-old Sly Stone is working the show, and takes note of The Swim. Two years later, when he finds himself working for Donahue and Mitchell's label, Autumn Records, he and Donahue write a song based on Freeman's dance called "C'mon And Swim," which Freeman records. Released in 1964, it makes a big splash, going to #5 in the US and unleashing The Swim dance craze nationwide. A few years later, Sly Stone becomes a superstar at the helm of his groundbreaking group Sly & the Family Stone.

    Chubby Checker doing "The Twist" on American Bandstand (1961)

    SFGate covered the story on its 40th anniversary:

    "There were fights outside," said Chubby Checker. "People couldn't get in."

    Home of the Grand National Livestock Exposition, Horse Show and Rodeo, the Cow Palace didn't host a lot of concerts in those days. Frank Sinatra had appeared at the cavernous hall five years earlier and drawn fewer than 3,000 customers.

    …At the Cow Palace, Donahue and Mitchell made out like bandits, taking home more than $23,000 on gross box office receipts of $46,000. Not having to pay performers undoubtedly helped the bottom line. They produced a subsequent series of Cow Palace concerts — Limbo PartySurf Party — including two appearances by the Beatles.

    When Chubby Checker, working for another promoter, returned to the Bay Area just 10 weeks after the first "Twist Party," his two scheduled shows at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium were canceled after only 800 of 16,000 tickets were sold.

    Happy to report that Chubby, now 80, is still doing his thing, which includes selling his eponymous beef jerky.

    image via Tom Joad's Ghost/Flickr

  • The weird way we discovered longitude Longitude Image

    Whenever I hop on a plane, I try to remember how lucky I am to be alive. I don't mean that in some "counting my blessings for surviving the trip" way either. By a roll of fate's dice, I could've been born in an era without planes. Instead of conveniently rocketing across the country in a matter of hours, I could've been braving the snow-swept expanse of America's midsection on a five-month journey to California that ends prematurely due to a fatal case of diarrhea.

    As my plane cleaves through clouds, my mind drifts beyond concerns of passengers from the past to the pilots and navigators of antiquity. Lodging on a giant boat for months couldn't have been fun for travelers, but navigating the ship had to be even worse. How did the past navigators develop the longitude and latitude systems necessary to traverse the oceans accurately?

    In the video linked above, the YouTube channel Sci-Show breaks down how clocks led to the discovery of longitude.

  • How to reduce your chance of dying from Covid by 99%? Get vaxxed and boosted

    Author and physician Eric Topol made a chart using data from the CDC COVID-19 Response Epidemiology Task Force that shows how much more you are likely to die from Covd if you don't get vaccinated. @OurWorldinData redrew the chart to make it look prettier:

  • Shark attacks up more than 30%!!!!

    Shark attacks are up by more than 30%, according to reports. Do you think it's because of a resumption of human activity that dipped during the pandemic, or because of the George Floyd protests?

    Last year, there were 73 unprovoked incidents between sharks and humans, up from just 52 confirmed bites in 2020. It was the first year the number ticked up after three years of declines.

    "Shark bites dropped drastically in 2020 due to the pandemic," ISAF manager Tyler Bowling said in a statement. "This past year was much more typical, with average bite numbers from an assortment of species and fatalities from white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks."

    (Spoiler: they're just back up to normal)

    I joke, but there's plenty of weaseling in the headlines today (e.g. NBC News: "Shark attacks rise after 3 years of decline") to help the story register as "attack of the sharks" rather than "pandemic statistical rebound". Shark news is trivial, but that's the same device that media often use to give the impression that crime is exploding, and that isn't trivial at all.

  • Disney responds to Dinklage's Snow White criticism: we "have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community"

    On Monday, Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage was a guest on Marc Maron's podcast, where he expressed his feelings about Disney's live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. "[Y]ou're still making that fucking backward story of seven dwarves living in the cave. What the fuck are you doing, man?" he said to Disney execs by way of Maron's show.

    Disney was listening. Yesterday afternoon a Disney spokesperson told Deadline, "To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period."

    Deadline also reports that the remake is "still years away from release. The feature has been in development for three years and the reimagining of the dwarf characters is something Disney has been working on since the project's earliest stages."

  • Playing Doom on the teeniest-tiniest gaming machine

    Our pals over at Adafruit have been working on super-small, super-sharp and readable DOOM gaming device (it does more than DOOM, but hey … DOOM!). Phil Torrone writes:

    DOOM is often the "hello world" for what's possible on hardware, particularly when there's a screen and some button inputs.

    We ported Retro-Go https://github.com/ducalex/retro-go over to work on our QT Py ESP32 Pico board and since Retro-Go has a port of PrBoom for the ESP32, it pretty much just worked loading up the shareware DOOM1.WAD file off of a microSD card. Amazing how capable retro-go is once the hardware layout is defined.

    The specs on the Adafruit QT Py DOOM playing device (codename PINKY):

    ESP32 Pico v3 02, dual Tensilica 240 MHz core w/2MB PSRAM, 8 MB Flash

    240×240 1.3″ TFT IPS

    microSD card

    AW9523 GPIO expander for 10 buttons, const current backlight, headphone amp mute, card detect.

    You can keep up with what's happening with the PINKY project here.

    [Full Disclosure: I also blog for Adafruit.]

    Image: Screengrab

  • Missouri Highway Patrol "accidentally" sends out APB on the Joker

    From AP News:

    The Missouri State Highway Patrol alert sent cellphones blaring statewide: Authorities in Gotham City, Missouri, were searching for a purple and green 1978 Dodge 3700GT.

    But there is no Gotham City, Missouri, and the car referenced was the one used by the Joker in the 1989 "Batman" movie. Soon after the Tuesday evening alert, the patrol sent another saying to disregard it.

    As of Press Time, the Jokermobile is presumably still on the loose, because a certain masked vigilante refuses to just kill off the vehicle's owner once and for all.

    Missouri Highway Patrol mistakenly sends Batman-themed alert [AP News]

  • 'Snow Fighters' doc shows how Montreal dealt with winter storms in the late fifties

    Described as a "close-up of a snow-bound city, and the men, money and machinery it takes to dig it out,," this 10-minute time capsule looks at how Montreal cleaned up its streets after winter storms in the late fifties. What a production! I'd love to see an updated version of this. If it cost $4M to clear the 60B cubic feet of snow back then, what does it cost now? Also, this was directed by Leslie McFarlane, a Canadian author who wrote 19 of the first 25 Hardy Boys books (a "nuisance," according to his son). You can find the other short documentaries McFarlane directed at the National Film Board of Canada site.

    (Nag on the Lake)

    screengrab via NFB

    Bob Dobbs, is that you?

  • Armaculture is a free indie game in which you survive the war any way you can

    When I think of war-based video games, I picture machine guns and tanks; how could I not? When I first learned about the indie video game Armaculture that takes place three years into a brutal war, I thought I'd know what to expect and that it would just be another game I've seen 100 times before.

    But I instantly learned I was wrong. Armaculture focuses on a side of war that is not as often highlighted in popular media, especially games.

    "You assume the role of Alexander Volkov, the calculating son of a former Lieutenant who is determined to survive in any way he can." Instead of fighting in the war and winning for your country, you play as a farmer. Could you have guessed that?

    Running a farm in a country at war isn't easy. Armaculture could be categorized as a factory-builder RPG. The main mechanics of this game are automating, optimizing, and upkeeping your farm to keep from going broke. You'll spend your short days placing down machines and deducing which plants you should grow depending on newspaper reports. Would it be better to go into town today and lose a few hours buying much-needed resources, or should you stay at the farm and try your best to get enough money to last through the night? Armaculture is a strategy game that will demand difficult decisions.

    It's very tricky, and you almost definitely will lose on your first run! But that's where the game becomes very fun. It takes a while to get used to the mechanics (the play-along tutorial is essential before taking a real crack at the game), and wrapping your head around the best methods takes even longer. As I died in each of my early playthroughs, I became aware of my mistakes and made plans for my next run. As I honed my skills and set up better farms, I felt the same spiteful pride that Alexander held as he survived the war. No matter how hard it is, you are surviving your own way, and you cannot be stopped.

    Armaculture has more to offer, though! As I mentioned, it's a factory-builder RPG. I explained the factory-builder part of the game, now it's time to talk about the RPG elements. Every evening after working on your farm, you engage in dialogue with various people who come by your farm. Some are friends, many are enemies. The best course of action isn't always clear at a first glance, but it is important. Deciding how you will interact with these passersby will seal your fate. There are three routes and endings to this game, and tons of story to uncover. It is impossible to see the whole story on just one playthrough of the game. Through details like overhead planes and propaganda in the mail every morning, the world of the game feels full and alive. With handcrafted cutscenes and meaningful interactions, the story of Armaculture is bold and captivating.

    Armaculture was made entirely by one developer, RageForDragons, who released it when he was 18 (he did most of the programming at age 17). He did everything, aside from a single song that his friend contributed. This means that the art, the programming, the story, and almost the entire soundtrack was done by one person, amazingly. One of my favorite game developers, Toby Fox (Undertale, Deltarune), says that "the special thing about Indies is because our teams are small, the player can feel the heart of each person who made the game." With a game made by just one person, this is incredibly evident. The passion put into this game is clear from the moment that the first cutscene starts.

    Every part of this game is so unique and comes together so well that I'd expect it to be at least $10-$15. Instead, you can download it completely for free on Steam! You can support the game developer by buying the soundtrack for the game for $1, but otherwise, he just wants to put his game out there. Releasing an incredibly full and fun game for free is super admirable, and I can't help but respect it a ton. You can also support him without money by sharing the game or following him on Twitter at @armaculture

    So really, I recommend that you go play! Tell your friends to play! It's a difficult game, but every moment feels worth it for me.

  • IT hopefuls are digging these online cybersecurity courses

    We thank our sponsor for making this content possible; it is not written by the editorial staff nor does it necessarily reflect its views.

    There's only so much side-hustling you can do in one lifetime — perhaps it's about time you chose a career that has great earning potential you can really enjoy, like cybersecurity. Given that companies and organizations all over the world need IT professionals to keep things safe and afloat online these days, the need for cybersecurity workers is high, and there are tons of opportunities out there.

    While working in cybersecurity doesn't necessarily require a degree, you might need important certifications to advance. But before you drop a pretty penny on some overpriced training program, do yourself a favor and enroll in the courses offered in The 2022 Ultimate Advanced CyberSec Professional Certification Bundle, deeply discounted to just $69 with unlimited access. 

    Offering five dynamic courses, you'll have access to nearly 150 hours of advanced prep content to help you earn the most in-demand cybersecurity certifications in today's industry, including the Certified Information Security Manager, otherwise known as CISM, The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification, and more. And the best part? You can earn them all from home, never having to step foot in a classroom.

    Developed by iCollege, one of the most trusted educational marketplaces in e-learning, each course contains top materials and lesson plans that are painfully relevant to today's industry. That's why the company is trusted by some of the world's most powerful tech hubs, including Silicon Valley, helping IT hopefuls to land jobs that can really take them places.

    Each course is designed for students of all levels, allowing you to go back and forth at your own pace to really absorb all the incredible insight you'll have access to. And given that each course is taught by top cybersecurity experts, with ratings higher than 4.4 out of 5 stars, you can rest assured you'll learn everything you need to know to earn these important certifications. 

    Get all five courses in The 2022 Ultimate Advanced CyberSec Professional Certification Bundle for the deeply discounted price of $69.

    Prices subject to change.

  • Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was a rapist

    Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine and the associated Playboy Mansion cult, is accused of "coercing and drugging women into sex" with him, reports the BBC, part of decades of systematic abuse and exploitation playing out in plain sight.

    Former girlfriends describe the iconic publisher as "like a vampire" who "sucked the life" out of young girls.

    The company is pledging to "actively listen and learn" from the women.

    "Today's Playboy is not Hugh Hefner's Playboy," read an open letter published over the weekend.

    "We trust and validate these women and their stories and we strongly support those individuals who have come forward to share their experiences."

    To call Playboy a shadow of its former self is an insult to shadows, all the same: it hasn't published since the pandemic began and its own statement was posted at Medium—a good idea, as that helps Playboy avoid association with its own sleazy, NFT-strewn website. Hopefully the victims can wring some measure of justice out of it beyond these platitudes.

    The "revelations" come as part of a 10-part A&E miniseries about Hefner and the Playboy empire.

  • Watch (and listen): Weather reporter breaks wind himself on air

    While a Louisville, Kentucky weather reporter on WDRB was talking about the cold air in the midwest, he seemed to be experiencing a bit of wind right there in the studio. And it's not like he was trying to cover it up. He actually paused, dramatically turned to the camera, apparently let it rip, and even enjoyed a bounce in the process. This is live TV at its finest.

    Via HuffPost

  • This online protection may as well be the next big digital superhero

    We thank our sponsor for making this content possible; it is not written by the editorial staff nor does it necessarily reflect its views.

    When you were a kid, your parents used to tell you to be wary of pickpockets and stranger danger lurking around every corner. While these things may still be around today, you have even more dangers to face on the daily, except they're harder to see coming and they're all hiding in the digital sphere.

    From sensitive work materials to personal data, protecting yourself online is incredibly important, and being armed with Surfshark One is one of the best ways you can stay safe out there. From antivirus protection to a stellar VPN and data leak alerts, this blanket security service acts as a digital safeguard, covering you while you complete all your online tasks. And at just over $47, that's quite the bang for your buck.

    For one, Surfshark One provides you with four crucial protective services, including a VPN that secures your identity online with complete anonymity, never limiting what you can do by way of geo-restrictions or government censorship. The program also gives you real-time protection from viruses, immediately notifying you if any are detected and running scheduled scans to ensure none are ever on the horizon. Additionally, you'll also receive alerts regarding any data breaches, stopping identity thieves, protecting your credit cards, bank information, and so much more. 

    Surfshark One also allows you to surf the net without being traceable at all. You'll also experience an ad-free browsing experience, never dealing with pop-ups again. Additionally, Surfshark One gives you access to fantastic key features that make your online experience smoother and more enjoyable than ever, with 10 Gbps VPN servers, selective VPN bypassing, a strict no-logging policy, private DNS and leak protection, and so much more. It's no wonder the program has received tons of praise online, earning it 4.5 out of 5 stars on TechRadar and the title of "Editor's Choice" on PCMag with a 4- out of 5-star rating.

    Stay protected with Surfshark One, on sale for $47.76 down from $173.

    Prices subject to change.