FOR THE KIDS IN YOUR LIFE, AND THEIR SUMMER READING: Get Ruben Bolling’s hit book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures.
"The EMU Club inhabits exactly the world I always hoped to live in when I was 12, when the answer to questions like 'Where did I put my toy' led inevitably to alien conspiracies and secret underground tunnels. A book for the curious and adventurous!" -Cory Doctorow, author of "For the Win" and "Little Brother"
"The type of non-stop action and improbably hilarious fun that only a kid could dream up. ... The EMU Club's adventures perfectly capture the intersection of imagination and wonder - the crossroad that's so often found in cardboard boxes, pillow forts and backyards everywhere." -GeekDad
Get Book the First, "Alien Invasion in My Backyard," here.
Get Book the Second, "Ghostly Thief of Time," here.
More Tom the Dancing Bug comics on Boing Boing!
Walter Stabosz writes, "Delaware was the first state to ratify the US constitution, giving it the moniker 'The First State.' It is also the second smallest state, and has only three counties. Tonight in Delaware's most populous county, New Castle County, there will be a vote that may decide the fate of a library built in one of New Castle's most underserved and at-risk communities.
At this year's Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researcher Chen Chen presented a cool project that vastly improves the quality of images captured in low-light conditions.
Via his presentation:
Imaging in low light is challenging due to low photon count and low SNR. Short-exposure images suffer from noise, while long exposure can induce blur and is often impractical. A variety of denoising, deblurring, and enhancement techniques have been proposed, but their effectiveness is limited in extreme conditions, such as video-rate imaging at night. To support the development of learning-based pipelines for low-light image processing, we introduce a dataset of raw short-exposure low-light images, with corresponding long-exposure reference images. Using the presented dataset, we develop a pipeline for processing low-light images, based on end-to-end training of a fully-convolutional network. The network operates directly on raw sensor data and replaces much of the traditional image processing pipeline, which tends to perform poorly on such data. We report promising results on the new dataset, analyze factors that affect performance, and highlight opportunities for future work.
Here's the full project page for more information.
• CVPR 2018: Learning to See in the Dark (YouTube / Chen Chen)
I'm heading to Phoenix Comics Fest tomorrow (going straight to the airport from my daughter's elementary school graduation) (!), and I've got a busy schedule so I thought I'd produce a comprehensive list of the places you can find me in Phoenix:
I've been patiently awaiting this Bad Lip Reading of the Royal Wedding, and, I have to say, it was worth the wait.
"Let's all try to be the best squirrel in the hole."
Previously: Bad Lip Reading videos on BB
I already have a metal plate on the back of my phone case because I use it with my magnetic car mount, so this magnetic desk mount looks like a good way to hold my phone on my desk. If your phone doesn't come with a plate, this mount includes one. It's regularly $15, but if you use code 87HFODR4 at checkout on Amazon, it's $9.
This classic mashup of The Matrix and Office Space holds up, so ICYMI, enjoy this well-edited clip of Neo hiding from Lundbergh while taking a call from Milton. (more…)
I love low-rent pulp magazines from the 1920s right through to the early 1980s. Trashy, flashy and a constant pleasure to read, I used to own a ton of the things in varying conditions. If I saw it and it was still in a condition where I could read it, I’d fork over folding money for the privilege of inhaling the smell of rotting, low quality paper and the sweet sense of abuse one can enjoy at the mercy of ham-handed prose. Unfortunately, I had to unload my collection a few years back: there was just no room for it in the nomadic lifestyle that my wife and I are currently living—paying for a storage space to keep stuff I just don’t need is an entanglement that I’m not OK with.
Thankfully, the good people at Open Culture discovered that a cache of over 11,000 pulp magazines has been digitized and posted online where pulp geeks like me can access them for the low, low price of free.
The Pulp Magazine Archive contains treasures printed on low-quality paper that have publication dates ranging from the late 1800s through to the 1950s. Each magazine in the Archive can be viewed online using the website or downloaded in a number of formats to be read offline, including options for use with tablets, Kindle and Kobo e-readers.
I don’t know about you, but my downtime for the next few years is spoken for.
Image via The Pulp Magazine Archive
Without question the 1976 BMW R90s is the high watermark of motorcycle design and engineering. I absolutely love mine. Listening to Peter Egan, a legendary motorcycle journalist, talk about his and some other bike he compares it to, is a lot of fun.
If Egan had a Daytona Orange model no one would have noticed the other bike. Daytona Orange is not only faster, it handles better.
Or maybe Gary Busey. That's supposed to be Brandi Chastain, recently inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Here's a side-by-side to see who this resembles more: (more…)
Yeast has brought a lot of joy into the world, but its evolutionary origins were unclear until scientists did a worldwide genomic survey of the humble organism. Based on the genetic diversity of strains found in China, they concluded that its origin is almost certainly in that part of the world. (more…)
The pretty far reaching study we blogged last week, about Octopi coming from outer space, is really most likely, probably, near certainly not true.
For evidence of the panspermia hypothesis, the authors wrote in their new paper, skeptics need only look to the octopus.
Octopuses have complex nervous systems, camera-like eyes and a capacity for camouflage that evolved suddenly and without precedent in their family tree, according to the study authors. The genes for these adaptations, the authors wrote, do not seem to have come from octopus ancestors, but "it is plausible then to suggest [these traits] seem to be borrowed from a far distant 'future' in terms of terrestrial evolution, or more realistically from the cosmos at large."
In one theory laid out in the paper, the authors posit that fertilized octopus eggs crashed into the sea aboard an icy comet at the onset of the Cambrian explosion. Another explanation, they propose, could be that an extraterrestrial virus infected a population of early squid, causing them to evolve rapidly into octopuses as we know them today.
Other researchers were not quick to embrace this theory. "There's no question, early biology is fascinating — but I think this, if anything, is counterproductive," Ken Stedman, a virologist and professor of biology at Portland State University, told Live Science. "Many of the claims in this paper are beyond speculative, and not even really looking at the literature."
For example, Stedman said, the octopus genome was mapped in 2015. While it indeed contained many surprises, one relevant finding was that octopus nervous system genes split from the squid's only around 135 million years ago — long after the Cambrian explosion.
Stedman added that, for a virus, such as the RNA-based ones known as retroviruses, to somehow turn a squid into an octopus, that virus would have to evolve on a world where squid were already plentiful.
Modern retroviruses have evolved to be extremely specific about which hosts they infect, Stedman said. But a retrovirus from outer space wouldn't have evolved to be specific for Earth-based creatures, and "certainly not specific enough for something like a squid — unless you have massive amounts of squids on some planet incredibly close to us that is spitting off all of these meteors. But I think that kind of assumption is highly unlikely," Stedman said.
Karin Mölling, a virologist at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Germany, echoed this sentiment in a piece of commentary published alongside the new paper.
While the new study is "very useful" for thinking about the influence of the universe on our planet in new ways, the findings "cannot be taken seriously," Mölling wrote. "There is no evidence for it at all."
Scrabble dictionary says Octopi is just fine.
Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof is known for chilly feats like the world's longest ice bath and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in just a pair of shorts. (Hof is the subject of the recent New York Times bestseller "What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength" by Scott Carney.) Now, researchers from Wayne State University’s School of Medicine recently used an MRI scanner to explore the science behind Hof's dangerous stunts. From Smithsonian:
Hof attributes his success to what he has dubbed the Wim Hof Method, a type of conditioning that involves a series of breathing exercises he says anyone can replicate. Rather than by luck or accident, Hof says he learned his technique by trial and error while going out into nature: “I had to find the interconnection of my brain together with my physiology...."
Musik found that, when exposed to cold, Hof activates a part of the brain that releases opioids and cannabinoids into the body. These components can inhibit the signals responsible for telling your body you are feeling pain or cold, and trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. The result, Musik says, is a kind of euphoric effect on the body that lasts for several minutes.
“Your brain has the power to modify your pain perception,” he says, adding that this mechanism is particularly important for human survival. Pain, and the feeling of cold, are basically your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Since humans instinctively look to remove the source of pain or alleviate any sensation of cold, feeling hurt can help us survive.
"Brain over body”–A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure" (NeuroImage)
Farming is undergoing a quiet but radical transformation as machine learning and automation innovations reduce waste. One especially promising new technology targets individual weeds. (more…)
One of the best songs, and videos, of all time.
Currently on tour again, after a years long hiatus, Eric B. and Rakim have been in my playlist since Paid in Full's debut in 1987.
Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was so determined to ram through a Net Neutrality repeal that he ignored the fact that the FCC's public comment inbox was flooded with fake comments from anti-Net Neutrality bots -- at least a million of them -- who indiscriminately stole identities from the dead and alive alike (Pai said he'd treat these fake comments with the same weight that he gave to comments from humans, refusing to help law enforcement track down the botmasters, so that the Congressional Budget Office had to step in).
If you or someone you care about is addicted to OxyContin, former New York City Mayor and current Worst Frigging Lawyer on the Whole Damn Planet, Rudolph Giuliani, is partially to blame.
300,000 Oxycontin-related deaths? He can have some props for those, too.
According to The Guardian, the United States government managed to slap a criminal charge on Purdue Pharma back in the mid-2000s for the way that Purdue was marketing Oxycontin, a powerful and, oft-times addictive, painkiller. In their advertising for the drug, Purdue buffed up how safe Oxycontin is to use: They claimed that the drug would be slowly released into the patient’s body, providing pain relief while ensuring that the possibility of addiction was kept to a minimum.
Which is why so many people inject and snort Oxycontin for a near-instant high.
Unfortunately, when it was first released back in the 1990s, doctors had no idea that the drug would prove to be as addictive as we now know it to be. It didn’t take long, however, for physicians who were prescribing the Oxycontin to their patients to discover that many became hooked on the painkiller – hard. The American government took exception to Purdue’s bullshit. A US Attorney began the work to take the drug company down. The matter went to trial.
Giuliani, fresh off his stint as Mayor of NYC, was hired by Purdue to help them escape prosecution. This was the same Giuliani, who announced a program to curb illegal drug use back in the late 1990s. That said, this was also the same Giuliani who admitted to buying crack cocaine in the 1980s, allegedly as part of his drug education under the tutelage of the DEA, so I dunno.
From The Guardian:
While Giuliani was not able to prevent the criminal conviction over Purdue’s fraudulent claims for OxyContin’s safety and effectiveness, he was able to reach a deal to avoid a bar on Purdue doing business with the federal government which would have killed a large part of the multibillion dollar market for the drug.
The former New York mayor also secured an agreement that greatly restricted further prosecution of the pharmaceutical company and kept its senior executives out of prison.
Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to advertising and selling OxyContin with “intent to defraud or mislead,” in 2007. It wasn’t a great look for the drug company, but Giuliani pulled a bit of magic for them out of his ass: companies that had criminal convictions against them are typically barred from doing business with the federal government. That’d make it near impossible for Purdue to continue to do business in the United States. Giuliani grossed his way into convincing the US Attorney to charge Purdue Pharma’s parent company, Purdue Fredrick, instead. By doing so, the drug company was left capable of doing business in the United States, paving the way for untold riches and hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Admittedly, this was one hell of an example of legal judo, making it easy to understand why Trump might want to add Giuliani to his legal team. No matter how incompetent the lawyer has sounded during his recent television appearances, he was once competent. At the height of his faculty, he was also capable of brushing off the doing of a great evil against the American people in the process of doing his job. This is who the American President has turned to.
It should be an interesting ride.
Image via Air Force Medical Service courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
A couple of weeks ago, comedian Jim Gaffigan took a stab at writing cartoon captions for The New Yorker. Turns out he's really good at it, almost as good as 9-year-old Alice Kassnove.
Previously: Jim Gaffigan takes over a woman's Tinder, hilarity ensues
YouTuber Nigels Life created a cool proof of concept for a quiz show using YouTube clips as multiple choice answers. He recorded a clip for every possible outcome. (more…)
On June 20, the U.S. Postal Service will roll out Frozen Treats, the first ever scratch-and-sniff stamps. Artist Margaret Berg of Santa Monica, California created the watercolored illustrations of ice pops featured on these special First-Class Mail Forever postage stamps.
The stamps feature illustrations of frosty, colorful, icy pops on a stick. Today, Americans love cool, refreshing ice pops on a hot summer day. The tasty, sweet confections come in a variety of shapes and flavors.
Ice pops are made by large manufacturers, home cooks and artisanal shops. In recent years, frozen treats containing fresh fruit such as kiwi, watermelon, blueberries, oranges and strawberries have become more common. In addition, flavors such as chocolate, root beer and cola are also popular. Some frozen treats even have two sticks, making them perfect for sharing.
The stamps are available for pre-order now.