• Teacher jailed for 12 years after secretly filming kids

    A Wisconsin teacher was sentenced to 12 year in federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of attempting to produce child pornography, reports NBC News. David Krutchen, 39, hid cameras in air fresheners on a field trip. He was discovered when when a girl attempted to spray one of the fresheners only for the contraption to fall open. More suspicious air fresheners were seen in photos taken by the teens. Krutchen claims his voyeurism was not about getting footage of the youngsters naked, but admitted that was the outcome.

    In an eight-page handwritten letter filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court, Kruchten wrote that he started spying on family "to deal with stress and fulfill a need for adrenaline" and to find out what they said about him when he wasn't around, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. That led to planting hidden cameras to capture pets, family, friends, babysitters and even his parents and grandparents, before he began spying on his students, Kruchten wrote in the letter to U.S. District Judge James Peterson.

    Not mentioned in the sentencing coverage: claims that the school district made investigating what he did more difficult than it should have been.

    A Madison teacher charged with trying to create child pornography was allowed to travel home from an out-of-state trip with students who found hidden cameras in their hotel bathrooms and the victims' parents haven't been told why. Madison School District officials won't say whether they knew about the discovery of the cameras before David Kruchten, the accused teacher, and the students boarded a bus to travel back to Madison from Minneapolis for a Dec. 6-8 business club trip.

  • The most vaccinated place in America is Puerto Rico

    The Caribbean U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has outpaced wealthy New England states to become the most vaccinated place in America: 73% of its 3.3 million residents are fully protected.

    The island has the highest rate of total vaccine doses administered, with 154,563 per 100,000 people. It had administered 4.9 million doses as of Friday, according to the CDC. On the mainland, Vermont leads with 70.8% of the population fully vaccinated, followed by Connecticut at 70.2% and Maine at 70%, according to the CDC, which added that just over 57% of the total US population was fully vaccinated as of Friday.Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, wrote on Twitter that Puerto Rico's "fabulous" vaccination efforts have "gotten way too little attention."

  • Follow the Music is a BIG book on the history of the music biz

    The 1960's was a heady time for the music biz and Follow the Music: The Life And High Times Of Elektra Records In The Great Years Of American Pop Culture is a huge 441-page book—and a fantastic history of industry pioneer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jac Holzman. Sure, I loved the endless details on the famous artists on Elektra, like The Doors, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, and Jackson Browne, but just as interesting was the story of the business side of the early days record business.

    Jac Holzman started recording folk music when he was just 19 and time and again his instincts served him well as a clever record producer and businessman. I was reminded of the many Elektra LPs I have owned, from less famous folk music to the recordings of stereo sound effects and environments, which as Holzman explains, was a thrifty way to make royalty-free records. He also came up with the concept of producing sampler LPs with an assortment of Elektra artists on one LP—great promotion and low cost!

    Rather than a continuous narrative, the book is collection of interview snippets, edited and sequenced in chronological order to create a talking time line of various memories and points of view. I like how Jac Holzman's usually gets the last word.

  • Save over $50 on this ultra-comfortable, high-tech sofa that massages your body

    The pandemic has forced all of us to live with our decisions, which includes the type of furniture we're trapped indoors with. But if your furniture isn't helping you relax, do you truly own furniture, or is it just for show? If you're hunting for plush furniture that you can actually relax on after a long day, look no further. This modern electric massage recliner by Costway can make its way into your home this season.

    Tired of fighting trolls online? Unhappy with the news? Unsure of where your life is going? Use the retractable footrest and push-back backrest to leave the world behind and satisfy your body. This chair has 90 to 160 degrees of motion in 3 fixed positions. Whether you're sitting or ready to lay back and snooze, this chair gives you control.

    Single? This chair is more comforting than a lover. Taken? This chair is still more comforting than a lover. In fact, there are two vibrating nodes, three adjustable vibration levels, and eight modes of massages. Combined with a soft padded cushion and a backrest, this chair is the ultimate tool for relaxation

    Most families own two to five remotes. The pocket on the side of the Electric Modern Massage Recliner Sofa Chair Lounge is perfect for storing remotes and a sleeping mask. What would you put in the side pouch? No one will judge you if you said "a snack."

    Perfect for both apartments and houses, this chair can withstand up to 330 pounds, is water-proof, and has a hesitant leather surface. Easy to clean up and comfortable? No. It's not too good to be true. It's the chair of the future. Save over $50 off the Costway Electric Modern Massage Recliner Sofa Chair Lounge, bringing the price down to $249.99.

    Prices subject to change.

  • Project to recreate entirety of planet Earth in Minecraft

    Build the Earth is a project with a simple yet rather grandiose aim: to recreate all of planet Earth in Minecraft.

    Our mission is to fully recreate the entire Earth in Minecraft at a 1:1 scale. One block in Minecraft equates to roughly one meter in the real world, meaning that this project will fully recreate the size of our planet. Anyone is able to join us and contribute to the largest and most expansive build project to ever have been attempted in Minecraft. Every language, nationality, and regional difference is accepted and regarded as our greatest attribute as we continue our journey to unite all of Humanity's greatest achievements into a single Minecraft world.

    Recent additions include Peles Castle in Romania and Kansas City, Missouri.

    It brings to mind Borges' On Exactitude in Science:

  • Listen to the weirdest Munsters musical album from 1964

    Thanks to the ever-delightful Bizarre Albums podcast, I learned that The Munsters release not one but two different albums in 1964. The first one is just some generically delightful 60s music inspired by the show. But the second one, At Home With The Munsters, is where it gets good — a bizarre audio tour of the Munster family home, with songs sung by each of the cast members.

    I'm not surprised this is so hard to find, with no official releases still available, as far as I can tell. Although it looks like Rough Trade Records might be doing a limited edition release on Black Friday?

  • Bugs Bunny's Official D&D Character Sheet Is A 15th-level Illusionist

    Dragon Magazine #41 was published in April 1981. And it was in the pages of this official Dungeons & Dragons tome that the immortal deity known as Bugs Bunny was finally given its due as a playable character in the game, along with several other cartoon characters — or rather, "Saturday morning monsters."

    One year later, Donald Duck, Marvin the Martian, and the Tasmanian Devil would be added to the game with Dragon #60:

    Thanks to Robert McNees, associate professor in the Department of Physics at Loyola University Chicago, for sharing this on Twitter!

    Image: Pub

  • Marbits for cats?

    Why should people have all the freeze-dried fun? Our two cats go CRAZY for these PureBites cat snacks made of chicken. No, I haven't tried them myself, but they have the same feel and crunchy texture as the little freeze dried marshmallows (called "marbits") in Lucky Charms cereal. I like that they have just ONE ingredient: chicken. So do our cats.

  • Ghost and goblin actors demand better labor rights from the Haunted Houses

    Have you heard that there's a labor shortage? Yeah that's bullshit; there's a shortage in businesses who are willing to offer reasonable pay and protections to their workers. And according to The Boston Globe, even the Haunted House industry is suffering:

    Like restaurants, retailers, and hotels, the nation's seasonal fright merchants are bedeviled by a shortage of workers. "Haunts," as they are called in industry parlance, are struggling to hire and retain actors while also trying to rebound from last year's pandemic-driven losses. Many haunts were forced to close last Halloween, while others opened to a limited number of visitors with scare actors performing behind plexiglass barriers.

    And customers are noticing. Online reviews for some popular New England attractions are riddled with complaints about "hardly any characters" or "not enough people to scare you." For haunt owners and operators this Halloween season, there is nothing more terrifying than too few ghouls.

    […]

    For most scare actors, the gig is part time and seasonal, and pays little more than minimum wage. The job is also physically demanding. Actors throw out their backs, lose their voices, or come down with the "haunt plague," a nasty cold that can keep them out of costume at the height of the season. And this was before the pandemic. Now the actors face new hazards: unmasked patrons and the threat of COVID-19.

    Capitalism is scary, ain't it?

    The Actors' Equity Association has been changing some of the ways they approach the industry for actors; maybe it's time for a ghosts and ghouls and goblins union, too?

    Like every industry, automation is somewhat of a threat. But, as the Globe notes, not really:

    Other haunts increasingly rely on animatronic puppetsand special effects props, said Larry Kirchner, publisher of Hauntworld magazine and president of Blacklight Attractions in St. Louis. At each of his haunted houses, Kirchner has added more than a dozen air canons so visitors are bombarded with sudden explosions of noise.

    But haunted house purists argue there is no replacement for live bodies and the creepy cast of characters they embody. The unsettling music, flickering lights, lingering fog, cobwebbed sets, "bloodstained" floors — these are "anxiety inducing," said Coltan Scrivner, a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago and expert on "morbid curiosity." But they don't provoke the sheer terror of an axe-wielding clown springing unexpectedly from a pitch-black corner.

    In other words: the robots aren't really coming for your zombie job. Yay?

    The labor shortage is spooking a new victim: haunted houses [Deanna Pan / The Boston Globe]

    Image: US Air Force Photo by Tech Sgt. Joe Springfield (Public Domain)

  • Old Jewish Men want cheap lox and more public restrooms— and they want them now!

    Elderly social media stars kvetch about lox prices and the lack of public toilets in New York City. In one video, they chant: "2, 4, 6, 8, we just want to urinate!" Their antics have earned the account almost 50,000 followers and a feature in the NY Post.

    The group makes merchandise, too, which has been mentioned in the Cut and Vogue. Some items include "Ralph Lifshitz" Ralph Lauren spoof apparel, "OJM solar" sunglasses, and logo-adorned bucket hats.

    The person behind the accounts isn't an old Jewish man— yet. His name is Noah Rinsky, and he's a millennial filmmaker whose fascination with old Jewish men began with his father and family friends. Now, he's working on a show about OJM. In an interview, he explains the appeal of his subject.

    "I think when I started the account, that in a lot of ways, what I was going for is trying to create a world that appreciated the irreverence of the old Jewish man. The way they act and dress completely ignores the rest of the world. They just exist as if nothing else around them is there. I think that's what people respond to a lot of with Bernie Sanders and Larry David, I mean, the reason why that Bernie Sanders image of him at the inauguration is so compelling is that there is no one even looking at him, he's just sitting there as if he's not being broadcasted to 50 million people or whatever, he just exists in his own atmosphere, and I think that's what's so great about being an OJM."

    Forward
  • Advanced tie-dyeing: adding Sally from "Nightmare Before Christmas"

    Somehow this past year, I fell down the rabbit hole of "tie-dye making videos." There are some really wildly technical ones out there, esp. by this guy, This one is a little different because its maker, Riahs Tie Dye, experimented with adding Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas before the unfurling the spiraled reveal.

    This the 58th shirt in a series of spiral tie-dye t-shirt experiments to see what kinds of patterns we can create with actually making a specific design on the spiraled up shirt. They have been pretty unique and definitely interesting so far. So for this shirt I first demonstrate how to spiral and rubber band the t-shirt. Next I draw on the Sally design with a washable marker, and then paint over it with a paint brush and liquid procion dye. After the design is on the shirt, I then move on to applying the liquid procion dyes onto the front and back of the shirt. To finish up I let the shirt sit undisturbed for 24 hours, give it a good rinse, and then jump right into the reveal of our new tie-dye Sally (Nightmare Before Christmas) t-shirt.

    screenshot: Riahs Tie Dye/YouTube

  • Learn how to reach customers the right way with this $15 Google Ads marketing bootcamp

    You can spend hours and hours creating blogs, promotional content, and fancy landing pages for your business. But if you're not reaching the right clientele, all this hard work can fall on deaf ears, or blind eyes, digitally speaking. But if you can't gain more customers, how do you expect your business to grow? 

    Even if you don't know the first thing about marketing, The Google Ads Marketing Bootcamp Bundle is designed to help you understand just how today's world of digital advertising works, teaching you how to use it to your advantage and expand your business' potential. Whether you're selling handmade soaps or legal services, any type of business can benefit from Google Ads — as long as you know how to use it. 

    The BootCamp bundle's first course lets you explore the benefits of Google Ads, familiarizing you with its many tools and features so that you can use them to target the right clientele. You'll even get access to a profit calculator to help you understand direct sale and funnel sale strategies. Then, once you've mastered the basics, you'll move onto to create your own marketing objective and campaign structure, creating a custom audience of users who search for various goods and services on Google. 

    Each of the bundle's premium courses is led by digital marketing trainer, Facebook Ads pro, and entrepreneur, Faisal Ahmed Siddiqui. Toting an impressive instructor rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars, Siddiqui uses an objective-oriented approach to marketing, using his experience working with more than 50 multinationals, brands, and companies to show you exactly how to take your business to new heights through Google Ads.

    Through these courses, you'll have the marketing background necessary to use Google Ads to help you meet your business goals, a skill you'll be able to use over time as your business grows.

    Get The Google Ads Marketing Bootcamp Bundle for the deeply discounted price of just $15.

  • Glide through the city with $400 off this electric skateboard

    Bicycling through a crowded city and avoiding infuriating traffic is a blessing, that is until you realize just how cumbersome toting around and storing a bike can be. Alternatively, skateboards are an ideal size for zipping through side streets and hauling around, but they just don't have the "oomph" you need to get you around long distances. 

    An electric skateboard offers the best of both worlds if you're looking for a happy medium. Whether you want to take lighthearted rides around the block or efficient transport to and from work, the LOU 3.0 Electric Skateboard is a worthwhile consideration, especially at $400 off.

    With a max speed of 22 miles per hour, the LOU certainly lets you travel faster than a metal box stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic. Plus, this skateboard can travel up to 12 miles at a time on a single charge. If you ever run out of juice mid-travel, you can always complete the final legs of your trip with good ol' foot power. Walking is simply out of the question, the LOU's battery is easily swappable.

    Speaking of which, the board's motorized wheels are easy to change out, allowing you to lengthen the LOU's lifetime and maintain quality for ride after ride. You can even swap out the deck plate when the old one gets worn out. This electric skateboard is not only portable, but lightweight, too — can come with you in a bag, in your car, or even on an airplane. 

    Featured on Yahoo! and FOX News, you can link the LOU to a companion smartphone app that lets you set your preferred speed, check your battery life, and adjust your brake. Your ride can be optimized before your coffee is done brewing every morning. As for trying to drink said coffee while on the LOU, well, that's probably not the best idea.

    This electric skateboard delivers reliable transportation with a modern touch. Ditch your car, bicycle, or daily train ride and give the LOU a try for $599, or 40% off.

    Prices subject to change.

  • Researchers find a link between trauma and Tetris

    Maybe now is finally the time for the Tetris-only operating system. Swedish researchers have evidence to show that Tetris prevents the psychological effects of trauma. In a study, the group that played 20 minutes of Tetris had 62 percent fewer intrusive memories in the first week after a car accident than the control group.

     Emily Holmes, a psychology professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and lead author of the study, has performed variations in which Tetris proves to be both effective and ineffective at preventing intrusive thoughts, giving her more insight into what exactly is happening in the brains of traumatized Tetris players.

    Holmes feels that playing Tetris shortly after an accident can interfere with memory consolidation, or the gradual conversion of short-term memories into more permanent ones. Evidence suggests that there is a window following a trauma in which a bad memory can be disrupted or avoided — and in which memories can be uncoupled from the brain's emotional centers.

    She admits that the findings are probably not unique to Tetris. Traumatic memories are often highly sensory: Sights and sounds of a trauma can flash back in horrifying detail. Holmes believes that any highly visual activity that stimulates the brain's sensory centers might prevent graphic recollections from forming in the first place. 

    NPR

  • Watch a horrifying Halloween Safety PSA from 1977

    From the Internet Archive:

    This 11-minute, color film is designed to acquaint primary through intermediate students with Halloween safety. The film presents a little girl who has an unsafe costume. In a flashback, the changes that can be made to make her Halloween safer are detailed. These include reflective tape, removing pointed objects, a clearer field of vision, and others. Suggestions also include waiting to sample treats until they have been checked, observing reasonable hours, traveling with groups, observing pedestrian rules, trick-or-treating at familiar homes only, checking treats for inbedded objects, and safe tricks. 

    According to the Scar Stuff blog, Herk Harvey, who was the principal director Centron Educational Films (the company that produced this PSA) also directed the cult horror movie Carnival of Souls.