In this powerful new article, BuzzFeed News’ Remy Smidt reports from inside the grassroots activist group that’s been formed by teens who survived the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead and 14 wounded. The students have emerged as vocal activists on both social media and traditional media platforms (a CNN excerpt of senior Emma González’s impassioned speech has been shared thousands of times on Twitter). And they’ve inspired a wave of other young activists too; high school students in Maine recently staged a gun control protest in place of a routine lock-down drill.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have done an incredible amount of organizing over the past week, including planning the nationwide March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24. And Smidt reports on what it’s like to watch the young activists at work:
In just days, the group of teenage survivors have made themselves impossible to ignore, headlining rallies, penning op-eds, and blanketing cable news coverage over the Presidents Day weekend with their calls for action.
But behind the scenes, they’re also just kids—sitting in a circle on the floor in the home of one of their parents, eating a batch of baked pasta, tweeting at each other, and comparing which celebrity just shared their post. There’s laughter and tears, and “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers plays briefly, but it’s also remarkably businesslike. There’s work to do and a seemingly endless number of phone calls to answer.
“We slept enough to keep us going, but we’ve been nonstop all day, all night,” said Sofie Whitney, 18, a senior who estimated that she has spent 70% of the past 48 hours speaking with reporters. “This isn’t easy for us, but it’s something I need to do.”
You can read the full article on BuzzFeed News.
A Scottish team of animal biotechnologists announced this week they successfully introduced human stem cells into sheep embryos. Perhaps one day we will all have our very own baaing organ donors.
The team are currently allowed to let the chimeric embryos develop for 28 days, 21 of which are in the sheep. While that might be sufficient to see the development of the missing organ when human cells are eventually combined with the genetically modified embryo, Dr Hiro Nakauchi of Stanford University, who is part of the team, said a longer experiment, perhaps up to 70 days, would be more convincing, although that would require additional permission from institutional review boards.
But, Ross said, for the approach to work it is thought that about 1% of the embryo’s cells would have to be human, meaning further work is needed to increase the proportion of human cells in the chimera.
Nakauchi also played down concerns: “The contribution of human cells so far is very small. It’s nothing like a pig with a human face or human brain,” he said
Who .... who said anything about... pigs with human faces and brains?
Using a black plastic comb and a simple wooden toothpick, a girl beckoned some captive dolphins from the other side of their windowed prison.
Her dad, Brad Meszaros, writes:
My daughter tried several different ways to have the Seaworld dolphins come to her. She tried different toys, a cell phone, tapping the glass, and different movements, none of these worked consistently for her. She did some online research and found the comb method and thought she’d give it a try. The next time she went to SeaWorld, she played the comb for the dolphins and they loved it!
Clever, but SeaWorld? Seriously...? Are we still taking our kids there?
I was frightened of the door-opening Francis-Bacon-figures-at-the-base-of-a-crucifixion robot when it was first seen last week, but now Boston Dynamics has started pushing and dragging it around and all I want now is for it to turn on its masters and seek justice and vengeance.
Etienne Bouteille made a twitter bot that "renders hairy balls" every three hours. They're not naughty, unless you benefit from extraordinarily versatile perversions, but they are all very hairy and very balls.
Check out Etienne's guide to creating similar bots with Blender and a Raspberry Pi.
In total the system is composed of four different parts :
A Blender file — It contains your beautiful composition, material, lighting, etc.
• A script to run in Blender — This is were you will add procedural elements for your bot, that will be different in every picture
• A script to post your images on twitter — No point in rendering images if you don’t post them! This script will do that for you.
• The “crontab” — This is a little file on your Pi that will run your script at regular intervals
One benefit of starring in a show about time travel is that you get to try out looks from a whole bunch of different eras. And while decked out in their 1970s best for the recent third season episode “Here I Go Again,” Legends Of Tomorrow stars Caity Lotz, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Brandon Routh, and Nick Zano decided to put their outfits to good use in a disco-inspired music video set to the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive.” Lotz uploaded the hilarious and perfectly choreographed disco tribute on her Instagram:
[Photo: DC's Legends Of Tomorrow; Robert Falconer/The CW]
YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen sat down with Bill Gates to play “How much does the world suck?” and discuss some surprisingly optimistic facts about humanity. The video is a tie-in with Bill and Melinda Gates’ recently released 10th Annual Letter, which this year centers on optimism. You can read the full letter on Gates’ website, but here’s an excerpt of its opening paragraphs:
We are outspoken about our optimism. These days, though, optimism seems to be in short supply.
The headlines are filled with awful news. Every day brings a different story of political division, violence, or natural disaster.
Despite the headlines, we see a world that’s getting better.
Compare today to the way things were a decade or a century ago. The world is healthier and safer than ever. The number of children who die every year has been cut in half since 1990 and keeps going down. The number of mothers who die has also dropped dramatically. So has extreme poverty—declining by nearly half in just 20 years. More children are attending school. The list goes on and on.
But being an optimist isn’t about knowing that life used to be worse. It’s about knowing how life can get better. And that’s what really fuels our optimism. Although we see a lot of disease and poverty in our work—and many other big problems that need to be solved—we also see the best of humanity. We spend our time learning from scientists who are inventing cutting-edge tools to cure disease. We talk to dedicated government leaders who are being creative about prioritizing the health and well-being of people around the world. And we meet brave and brilliant individuals all over the world who are imagining new ways to transform their communities.
Read the full letter on Gates Notes.
Based in Barcelona, DJ and music producer Eclectic Method has pulled in the Star Wars universe once again for his newest remix, "Han Solo Song."
With the Han Solo movie on the horizon and The Last Jedi in the rear view mirror I thought it was time to remix everyone's favorite space rogue pirate smuggler war hero. Han Solo Song is a rhyming remix through the 4 movies of Han so far. Rhymed mostly by Han himself with a Han Solo solo on laser blaster. This is my 10th Star Wars Remix.
You can check out all 10 of those remixes here.
The folks at Priceonomics crunched some data and found that one-star product reviews online are more likely to have incorrect spelling and grammar than five-star ones. As they note:
According to our data, negative reviews have a higher rate of misspelled words and a higher rate of incorrectly used apostrophes. They tend to be longer and have more details as well. Five-star reviews typically are shorter and often don’t include punctuation. Across the board, reviewers make a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes – only 61% of reviews passed all our quality checks.
From our findings, we can say that when people are writing negative reviews, they create longer and more error-filled prose than those who are sharing positive reviews.
One could, of course, shake one's head and conclude that trolls who like to tear things down are more incoherent than people who are trying to praise something. And that's probably not entirely wrong, given the bimodal review-wars online. But the data here are actually kind of intriguing, because it turns out that the reviews with the highest incidence of spelling errors are actually the three-star reviews ...
... and when it comes to using apostrophes, it's the four-star reviews that have the most errors, followed by three-star; here, the one-star reviews are quite good, quite close to the precision-rate of the five-star reviews:
So it looks as though the less-well-appointed grammar is coming out the middle of the review-pack, not the bimodal head and tail.
But! As the Priceonomics folks point out, spelling and grammar aren't necessarily always the best index of coherence. Artful writers -- and idiomatic ones -- violate the rules of spelling and grammar all the time, for aesthetic reasons. As Ben Crair pointed out a while ago, people have begun leaving out periods at the end of sentences so frequently (specifically to create an air of casual breeziness) that ending a sentence with a period can seem aggressive. And Gretchen McCulloch, my favorite Internet-age linguist, has tons of fun essays musing on the way language is morphing in our intertubal age.
(CC-licensed image above from Pixabay)
After a stellar first season (and an appearance in the so-so Defenders crossover series), Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones is set to return for a second season on March 8th. The show’s brand new trailer digs into Jessica’s traumatic past while offering a glimpse into her anger-fueled future.
In 1835, settlers in Australia discovered a European man dressed in kangaroo skins -- a convict who had escaped an earlier settlement and spent 32 years living among the natives of southern Victoria. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the extraordinary life of William Buckley, the so-called "wild white man" of colonial Australia.
We'll also try to fend off scurvy and puzzle over some colorful letters.
Please support us on Patreon!
Without changing anything else in their daily routines, three people set out to discover how much they could strengthen their bodies just by doing 100 squats every day for 30 days. For those inspired to start their own 30-day challenge after watching this video, here’s the proper way to do a squat:
Going back to school isn't necessarily an option for everyone. Between the time commitments and steep tuition rates, there are obstacles aplenty as far as furthering education is concerned. However, that's not to say it's impossible to learn new skills. Excel with Business lets users access thousands of hours of online learning in Microsoft, business, technology, finance, and even personal wellbeing to get ahead, and one-year subscriptions are on sale for $99 in the Boing Boing Store.
With a one-year plan, you'll get unlimited access to more than 50 courses as well as members-only classes and Q&As. Plus, you can earn CPD UK Accredited Certificates of Attainment for each course you complete, validating your training. What's more, you can continue to boost your skills with access to all future courses added during your subscription.
A One-Year All Course Access subscription to Excel with Business normally retails for $348, but it's available today for $99.
Josh Comeau, a software developer at the Khan Academy, has created a superb interactive tutorial showing how sound-waves work.
It's really, really good. I've used synthesizers for years, but never fully understood the soundwave mechanics behind "subtractive" and "addictive" synthesis -- and while I generally understood the idea of noise-cancelling headphones, I couldn't entirely visualize the physics of what was going on.
This tutorial walks you through the grit of how the sound waves are interacting with each other in each case, presenting you with interactive gewgaws to tweak so that you build up a sensual, intuitive appreciation for what's going on. It's really worth 10 minutes of your time -- check it out!
Before he contributed his writing talents to Animal House and Caddyshack, National Lampoon's co-founder Doug Kenney spoke at UCLA in March 1972. He talked, in a sort of stream of consciousness, about the popular publication and his half-finished comic novel, Teenage Commies from Outer Space.
Kenney had taken a year off from the magazine to write that manuscript and, as the story goes, threw it in the waste basket when his Lampoon partner Henry Beard indicated that it sucked. Beard clarified, "What he was trying to do was capture this global inanity of the American experience... What it turned into was the high school yearbook parody. It was just a question of finding the right format."
I came across this nearly-hour long interview last night after watching Netflix's new biopic on Kenney, A Futile and Stupid Gesture, and wanting to learn more about him.
Kenney was found dead at the age of 32 in August 1980 at the bottom of Hawaii's Hanapepe Lookout. It was deemed an accidental death by the police but as Harold Ramis once quipped, "He probably fell while he was looking for a place to jump."
Kathryn of What’s Up Moms offers five tips to help you save some money on your next Target run.
On November 24, 1982, Depeche Mode, touring Europe for their second album "A Broken Frame," performed on the Swedish television show Casablanca. (via r/ObscureMedia)
Inspired by the $6,000 Alexa-controlled toilet at CES, Jonathan Gleich hacked together his own one-tenth the cost. The base of this smart throne is the Brondell Swash 1400 Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat, available for $650 from Amazon. The other components are a $46 auto flusher, $23 infrared link, and $17 Adafruit Feather HUZZAH microcontroller.
Gleich posted directions to make your own over at Instructables: "Alexa Controlled Toilet"
Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? -- a new post on EFF's Deeplinks blog -- I describe the bizarre, unfair and increasingly salient US Copyright Office DMCA exemptions process, which is underway right now.
Astronaut Scott D. Tingle tweeted this postcard from the International Space Station a few days ago. Now that's a room with a view. From NASA's Instagram account:
He posted the moment to social media with the modest caption, “Sunrise over the South Pacific.” The International Space Station and its crew orbit Earth from an altitude of 250 miles, traveling at a speed of approximately 17,500 miles per hour. Because the station completes each trip around the globe in about 92 minutes, the crew experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets each day!
Six humans are currently living and working on the International Space Station conducting important science and research that will not only benefit life here on Earth, but will help us venture deeper into space than ever before. As of last week, the latest crew members had completed more than 100 hours of science, breaking the record for hours of research conducted.