• Waiting for the American Khrushchev: Who will deliver the "Cult of Personality" speech to Americans?

    In this powerful personal essay, Institute for the Future executive director Marina Gorbis writes about growing up in a Soviet Union brainwashed by Stalin's Big Lie, and what it took to break the lie.


    A few years after his death, Stalin's Big Lie was revealed to be just that by none other than one of his former enablers — Nikita Khrushchev who delivered the famous "On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences" speech at a closed meeting of the 20th Congress of the Soviet Union in 1956. The speech was quickly leaked outside of the inner party ranks and ushered in a period of reforms, with accounts of purges, killings, and horrific conditions in Soviet gulags gradually becoming public. According to some sources, when Khrushchev revealed the truth about Stalin's reign of terror, some of the ardent Big Lie believers suffered heart attacks, a few committed suicides, and some refused to acknowledge the truth. With Khrushchev initiating widespread rehabilitations of former enemies of the people and many of the exiles returning to their homes from labor camps in Siberia, truth, however, was increasingly difficult to deny. Stalin turned from a hero to a villain in the eyes of most Soviet citizens.

    We need an American Khrushchev to deliver a Cult of Personality speech to break the spell of Trump's Big Lie. Who could do it?

    (I'm on staff at Institute for the Future)

  • Binge-watch 'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet'

    'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet' is what I want from our era of rapidly produced straight-to-streaming comedies that generally fall flat. A fantastic cast takes a fun premise and has a great time making wacky entertainment.

    Gaming is an industry bigger than Hollywood and the personalities behind it are just as toxic, stupid, and prime to make fun of. Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet does just that, with flying colors. I watched it all in one long night sometime between Christmas and New Years'.

    Rob McElhenney, Danny Pudi, and Charlotte Nicdao head up a team of super videogame developers battling egos and embracing eccentricities while nearly destroying the business every episode.

    MQ:RB is available on Apple Tv, I was offered so much free Apple TV I don't know how you might find it otherwise.

  • Fulfilling an ancient prophecy, a raven has left the Tower of London

    There's a British superstition that, "if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it." The six ravens are believed to have come to the tower in the late 1600s, during the reign of Charles II, and possibly in response to the Great Fire of London—although some legends suggest they were in 1536, watching calmly over the execution of Ann Boleyn, and later, of Lady Jane Grey.

    Anyway, the Raven Queen, Merlina, has been missing for months. According to the New York Times, her official status has changed from MIA to AWOL, with the custodians of the Tower saying that, "her continued absence indicates to us that she may have sadly passed away."

    Of course, the descendents of King Arthur know how to deal with fantastical portents. Ravenmaster Skaife—yes, that is his real name—has cleverly kept an extra bird at the ready, to ensure that the number of ravens never dips below the fabled six.

    That this news comes just as the Brexit deal was finalized is surely just coincidence.

    A Raven Queen Vanishes, and Britain Checks a Prophecy [Alan Cowell / New York Times]

    Image: © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Canadian choir performs concerts from their cars

    "Honking is the new applause," ends their video

    During the pandemic, singers in the Luminous Voices chamber choir in Calgary have been rehearsing and performing from the inside of their own cars. Their voices are broadcast through their vehicle's radio.


    This "car choir" solution is one that college music professor David Newman — an accomplished baritone himself in Virginia — came up with so that ensembles could sing and "be" together.

    "I saw on my Facebook feed was friends either bemoaning the fact that we couldn't sing together at all, or saying 'Singing together is too important and we just have to do it no matter what,' " Newman tells NPR. "And I thought, neither of those is a good answer."

    Newman's method uses a few simple tools — microphones, a mixer and an FM transmitter.

    [Continue reading]


    screenshot via Luminous Voices/YouTube

  • Weird quantum Internet could be delivered by drones

    Researchers have used drones to transmit photons that are entangled even when they're far apart. That means their quantum states are linked: Measuring the state of one affects the state of the other. It's weird shit—so weird that Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance." Scientists have explored whether this strange phenomenon could be the basis of a quantum global internet that harnesses the power of entanglement as a communication technology. Now, researchers from China's Nanjing University used drones and base stations to wirelessly relay entangled particles over a kilometer. From Science:

    Eventually, scientists aim to build a global quantum internet that relies on transmitting quantum particles to enable ultrasecure communications by using the particles to create secret codes to encrypt messages. A quantum internet could also allow distant quantum computers to work together, or perform experiments that test the limits of quantum physics.

    "Optical-Relayed Entanglement Distribution Using Drones as Mobile Nodes" (Physical Review Letters)


  • Saudi Arabia announces plans for a zero-carbon city that's 105 miles long

    Saudia Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has revealed plans for The Line, a zero-carbon city that stretches 105 miles with a million residents living in ""carbon-positive urban developments powered by 100% clean energy." It will have no streets or cars, with everything you need just a five-minute walk away. Construction is slated to begin this year. From Reuters:

    The prince later told reporters in the northwestern city of Al Ula that the project was the conclusion of three years of preparation, adding that its infrastructure would cost $100 billion to $200 billion.

    "The backbone of investment in 'The Line' will come from the $500 billion support to NEOM by the Saudi government, PIF and local and global investors over 10 years," he added.

    (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

  • Four different musicians named Paul O'Sullivan formed a band together

    The Paul O'Sullivan band features Paul O'Sullivan on bass, guitar, drums, and vocals. But it's not a one man band. Each member is a different musician with the birth name Paul O'Sullivan, each of whom lives in a different city. They've always jammed remotely. From CBS News:

    "One night, I was kind of just indiscriminately adding Paul O'Sullivans on Facebook and a good amount of them accepted my friend request," O'Sullivan, who has become known as Baltimore Paul, told CBS News. "Eventually, their stuff started showing up in my news feed. And I'm like, 'Wait a minute, we're all musicians.' You know, it kind of felt like the universe was daring me to do something with this serendipitous scenario."

    Baltimore Paul reached out to musical Paul O'Sullivans around the world. Eventually, three Pauls agreed to form a musical group with him, aptly named The Paul O'Sullivan Band. Manchester Paul is on bass, Pennsylvania Paul is on percussion and Baltimore Paul and Rotterdam Paul are on guitar and vocals.

  • I chose the Kurgo Impact safety harness for in-car canine travel

    I used to drive around with my dogs loose in the back of my Vanagon. I then watched a few doggie crash test videos. Horrified, I did a bunch of research.

    I settled on the Kurgo Impact safety harnesses. As a pet owner who regularly drives with his dogs in the car, the videos are very rough to watch.

    There are several other safety harnesses that I believe are as likely to help my dog in a crash. There are also a lot of safety harnesses that will not do ANYTHING for your dog and may make an incident far, far worse. I picked the Kurgo.

    The Kurgo safety harness is crash-tested. In-person it is really solidly built and inspires confidence in an 'this is way more tough than the other one' way. The rubberized form-fitting pads are mated to the webbing in a way that it feels pretty bomb-proof.

    Bomb-proof is what you need too. I do not recommend watching simulated dog car safety crash tests if you regularly drive with your pooch and aren't ready to own a hefty priced harness.

    This video has a short clip of a crash test near the end and is not as gut wrenching as many others. The failure videos are awful.

    I chose the Impact car-only harnesses that are tested up to 130lbs. It is easy enough to swap my pups from the Kurgo into the Easy Walk harnesses they normally wear for street walkin'.

    For short rides, these harnesses are a pain in the ass, but they provide me enough peace of mind to drive the car at normal adult operating speeds on the few longer road trips I take.

    Kurgo Car Safety Dog Harness | Crash Tested Harness for Dogs | Impact Harness via Amazon

  • Report: no touchbar for redesigned 2021 MacBook Pro

    After launching low-end models with decidedly high-flying benchmarks, Apple's transition to its own ARM-based CPUs has users eager to see what the forthcoming high-end models will be like. One change, according to supply-chain watchers: a new design with no more touchbar.

    The new MacBook Pro is said to have squared-off sides like the iPad Pro and the iPhone 12 … Kuo believes the new Pro laptops will backtrack on some of the controversial changes Apple made with the current generation. The OLED Touch Bar, for example, is said to have been replaced altogether by physical function keys. Kuo also says that there'll be a wider range of ports reducing the need for dongles, though he doesn't get specific. And a MagSafe magnetic charging connector is also set to return.

  • 2021 is the year QuickBooks can untangle your business accounting nightmares

    If you've ever started a business, it probably wasn't so you could process invoices and fill out payroll checks. Yet, accounting is the absolute lifeblood of any enterprise – and unless a company is paying thousands to have a certified professional take charge of their finances, it's easy to feel like the entire accounting arena doesn't get the full attention it deserves. 

    That's why almost 6 of every 10 small business owners admit that they don't feel like true masters of their company's complete business affairs.

    For four decades, QuickBooks has been the gold standard for do-it-yourself business bookkeeping, covering nearly 80% of all small businesses using financial software. With the training in The Complete 2021 QuickBooks Bootcamp Bundle, the mysteries of business accounting don't have to feel quite so mysterious.

    With tax season roaring up quickly, this collection of four courses, stuffed with more than 30 hours of premium instruction, can help even the most clueless number-cruncher understand how to untangle, streamline, and report on every financial move a business makes.

    Each of these courses takes a very beginner-friendly approach to accounting, guiding users through the terminology, interface, and basic tabulation principles before wading into the volumes of QuickBook higher functions.

    Whether you use the traditional desktop software or QuickBooks Online, the training here explains it all. Under this tutelage, users will understand how to start properly charting business accounts, from creating invoices and paying bills and purchase orders, to working with sales tax to learning about inventory tracking, reconciling bank statements, and more.

    That foundation can lead to the creation of advanced customized oversight and management of your funds, whether you're using QuickBooks 2020 or the hot-off-the-presses QuickBooks 2021.

    There's even a QuickBooks Pro Canada course, specifically tailored to users in the Great White North and their unique business concerns, like managing Canada's sales tax and reporting standards.

    These four courses are a treasure trove of QuickBooks gems, but, rather than paying nearly $650 for this education, you can get The Complete 2021 QuickBooks Bootcamp Bundle now for over 90% off at just $29.99.

    Prices subject to change.

  • Razer reveals concept for N95 mask with voice projection and mouth illumination

    For the "all digital" CES, Razer was showing off their concept N95 mask, now with Chroma RGB LEDs! You've never looked so "cyberpunk now" battling the invisible corona-hordes and their anti-masker thralls.

    Microphones and amplifiers embedded in the ventilators will project your voice through the mask, so you won't have to worry about sounding muffled. We haven't seen this in action yet or had the chance to try it out ourselves. Razer told us that it's working with THX sound engineers to find a balance in terms of how loud the speakers should be for accessibility purposes.

    Razer asserts that Project Hazel is comfortable despite all of the tech inside. The mask makes a seal around your nose and chin with a silicon guard, and it uses adjustable ear loops so that most people should be able to find the right fit (though it is likely quite a bit heavier than your average mask).

    Of course, this wouldn't be a modern Razer product if it didn't support Chroma RGB LEDs. Each of the respirator-meets-amplifier rings can glow in the color of your choosing. And when it gets dark, a set of LEDs activate automatically to shine light on your mouth so others can still see you talk. It's tough to tell just how effective these LEDs will be in fully illuminating your mouth, but they may be helpful nevertheless.

    [H/t Laurie Fox]

    Image: Razer promotional image

  • Galaxy car made with blackest black paint and a pearlescent topcoat

    The world's blackest paint, Musou Black, absorbs 99.4% of light. We've already seen a room painted with it, and now here's a car that's covered in it. That's a trippy look on its own but YouTuber's DipYourCar didn't stop there. They then sprayed on a Hypershift pearlescent top coat which makes the vehicle look downright galactic. The finished product is revealed around the 7:30 mark.

    (Born in Space)

    screenshot via DipYourCar/YouTube