Psychedelic 'Mirror Maze' is a hidden gem deep within popular San Francisco tourist trap

My friend Mark Krawczuk recently discovered an under-appreciated attraction at San Francisco's Pier 39, Magowan's Infinite Mirror Maze.

In his latest newsletter (which is a delightful find itself), he describes it:

There’s something about the atmosphere at Pier 39 that set me and my friend Julie on edge. Something about the ingenuous tourist trap consumer culture that they’ve been able to refine to its purest form. We nearly turned back before we got to this marvel. I’m so glad we pushed through.

It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been to before: it evokes joy, awe, glee, fascination and terror at the same time. It’s premise seems so simple, but it truly blew my mind. I truly enjoyed my time there, but I have to admit I was glad when we solved the way out. I highly recommend it! And a bargain at $5.

A clever way around high school reunion small talk

So, you've learned you've got a high school reunion coming up. Well, if you've decided to go and want to stave off awkward conversations, take some inspiration from my author friend Benjamin Wachs. Last year, he went to his reunion in upstate New York and brought stacks of laminated flip books he made in advance. His "Benjamin Wachs Small Talk Experience" answered the basic questions about his life since high school and then prompted some more thoughtful ones. It made me smile.

Take a look (click on each image to see it bigger):

Mittens to run for Utah senate seat

Mitt Romney, former Republican presidential candidate and Trump "critic", is to run for the Utah senate seat vacated by Orrin Hatch's retirement.

Romney's run has already faced some resistance: the head of the state's Republican Party criticized him for not having deep enough ties to the state. Jenny Wilson, a Democratic candidate running for Senate in Utah, said this week that "Utah families deserve another Utahn as their senator, not a Massachusetts governor who thinks of our state as his vacation home." If elected, the former governor would bring strong name recognition and influence as a first-term senator. While former aides expect Romney to push for conservative policies in the Senate, they also believe he will rebuke the president when necessary and potentially clash with him on some policies.

What ... what if he only votes with Trump 85% of time, like GOP rebel Jeff Flake? This could be revolutionary.

How Arch Hosting helps you bypass steep web hosting fees

For many startups and fledgling businesses, web hosting — and the fees associated with it — can take a sizeable chunk out of the company budget and limit growth down the road. But, that's not to say there aren't hosts out there who can get your site online while staying within your budget. Arch Hosting is a performance-oriented host that lets you utilize multi-core processors, a lightning fast network, and powerful hardware, and it's offering lifetime subscriptions plus a one-year domain starting at $24.99.

With Arch Hosting, you'll receive 2GB of SSD storage space and 500GB of bandwidth for one domain, plus free SSL certificates for all other domains and subdomains. What's more, Arch Hosting boasts a host of intuitive features, like a drag-and-drop website builder and a Softaculous Script Installer, which allows you to deploy your WordPress, forum, or e-commerce application with a single click. It even keeps your site secure with automated backups.

A lifetime subscription to Arch Hosting and a one-year domain is available today for $24.99. Additionally, Arch Hosting's business plan nets you 10GB of SSD storage space and 1TB of bandwidth for three domains, all for $44.99.

'The Greatest American Hero' reboot will have a female lead

I have fond memories of watching ABC's early-1980s comedy The Greatest American Hero and was only mildly surprised to hear they are bringing it back (as a pilot, for now). What was surprising is that the "hero" will be a "heroine" in the reboot.

Deadline reports:

...Hannah Simone has been tapped for the title role in ABC’s single-camera comedy pilot The Greatest American Hero, from the Fresh Off the Boat duo of Rachna Fruchbom and Nahnatchka Khan. In the reimagining with a gender switch of Steven J. Cannell’s 1981 cult classic, the unlikely (super)hero at the center, played by William Katt in the original, is being reconceived as an Indian-American woman.

Written by Fruchbom, The Greatest American Hero centers around Meera (Simone), a 30-year-old woman who loves tequila and karaoke and has spent her life searching and failing to find meaning, much to the chagrin of her traditional Indian-American family. An inexplicable event occurs that will change the course of Meera’s life forever: she is entrusted with a super suit to protect the planet. Meera may have finally found purpose, but the world has never been in more unreliable hands.

Google images removes "view image" button from search results

Google removed the "view image" button from image search results last night.

The change is essentially meant to frustrate users. Google has long been under fire from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures, and the removal of the view image button is one of many changes being made in response.

There's something old-school stupid about it, like javascript snippets that "block" people from right-clicking on images. It doesn't accomplish what it hopes for, because the image is already downloaded, and there are a half-dozen other ways to get at it conveniently--not least simply dragging and dropping it.

The measure is about satisfying people who have no idea at all how web browsers work and who are mad at an offensive button. Google suggests in a tweet that this was done to make Getty Images' lawyers happy. Their clients will presumably be pleased by its disappearance, then alarmed to find that nothing has changed, because the people who rip off photo agencies aren't sat there clicking the "view image" button.

Meanwhile, Google Images still allows sites to change the images that the cached thumbnails link to. Odd!

Illustration by SpaceFoxy; via Google Images.

What happens to nearby streams and rivers when a tanker passes too quickly

Though hardly rekt compilation material, this footage of a feeder river turning into a roiling mess, due to a tanker going through St Lawrence seaway too fast, was good enough to get a captain in trouble and get authorities to enforce the speed limit.

This video was part of a series of videos studied and analyzed by the USCG to determine that the upriver vessels were traveling anywhere from 3 knots to 5 knots over the allowed 8 knot (land relative) upriver limit (10.4 knot water-relative limit) during the shipping season. Speed limits have now been re-enforced throughout the St Lawrence seaway, and the issues shown in this video have since subsided.

Treasure-hunting diver finds a phone and returns it to its owner

Arizona-based scuba diver Dallas, the guy behind the YouTube channel Man + River, has a fun hobby. He dives with his buddies at local creeks, rivers, and lakes looking for lost treasures, recording these underwater scavenger hunts on his GoPro. He's found all kinds of things, including sunglasses, pocket knives, coins, jewelry, cameras, lots of phones, and even a gun.

In this video from late last year, watch as Dallas unearths an iPhone 6 buried eight inches deep using an underwater metal detector and a metal sand scoop.

The phone was found dry inside an inexpensive waterproof case, so Dallas brought it home and started charging it.

Long story shorter: The phone works, he contacts its owner and returns it to him. Watch!

(Likecool)

Married veterans, John (100) and Jerry (72) share their love story

This is the sweet story of married military veterans, John Banvard (100) and Jerry Nadeau (72). John served in World War II and Jerry served in Vietnam. What makes their May-December love story extra special is that when they met in 1993, neither had ever been in a serious relationship with a man (as Jerry says, they were "sort of in the closet"). At that time, John -- a widower of 10 years -- was 75 and Jerry was 47.

At first, the two seemed worlds apart. John was a lover of art and theater, while Jerry was an outdoorsman. But they hit it off and soon became inseparable.

It's never too late, folks.

Plagiarism software finds Shakespeare plundered cool words from a little-known book

Shakespeare was a creative-commons powerhouse – he borrowed tons of plots for his plays, happily plundering from the writings of Plutarch, contemporary Italian authors, and more.

Now there's evidence of a new source: A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels, a book written in the late 1500s by Elizabeth court figure George North. It looks like Shakespeare read it and found some of the language so shiny that he reused it, often quite directly, in his own plays.

Even more fun is how the discovery was made: With plagiarism-detection software!

Dennis McCarthy – a writer, college dropout, and self-taught scholarly historian of English – had heard of the North book via an auction-catalog listing. The listing suggested it'd be interesting to compare it to Shakespeare's work. McCarthy and English prof June Schlueter digitized the text of North's book, then compared it against Shakespeare's plays by using WCopyfind, open-source software used by profs to check if students are ripping off other words.

Bingo. As the New York Times reports:

In the dedication to his manuscript, for example, North urges those who might see themselves as ugly to strive to be inwardly beautiful, to defy nature. He uses a succession of words to make the argument, including “proportion,” “glass,” “feature,” “fair,” “deformed,” “world,” “shadow” and “nature.” In the opening soliloquy of Richard III (“Now is the winter of our discontent …”) the hunchbacked tyrant uses the same words in virtually the same order to come to the opposite conclusion: that since he is outwardly ugly, he will act the villain he appears to be.

“People don’t realize how rare these words actually are,” Mr. McCarthy said. “And he keeps hitting word after word. It’s like a lottery ticket. It’s easy to get one number out of six, but not to get every number.” [snip]

The book contends that Shakespeare not only uses the same words as North, but often uses them in scenes about similar themes, and even the same historical characters. In another passage, North uses six terms for dogs, from the noble mastiff to the lowly cur and “trundle-tail,” to argue that just as dogs exist in a natural hierarchy, so do humans. Shakespeare uses essentially the same list of dogs to make similar points in “King Lear” and “Macbeth.”

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Canadian healthcare isn't as free as you think

I love you, America! Between living in your country as a digital nomad for part of the year and attending events as part of my job, I've spent a lot of time in the United States. One of the biggest misconceptions that I've run into when talking to my American pals is that they believe we receive free healthcare.

This is mostly incorrect.

Most Canadians, with the exception of Alberta, where I live for half of the year, either pay for our hospital and doctor visits as part of our taxes or are billed monthly by the province we live in. Having been born and raised in Canada, I've taken for granted being able to see doctors or receiving emergency medical care whenever I need it – right up to the point where I no longer could. I needed to visit the hospital, shortly after moving from one province to another. I'd registered as a resident there, but my paperwork had somehow been lost. A month after seeing a doctor, I received an $800 bill in the mail. So, that sucked. Even when things work the way that they're meant to, not everything is covered. Things like dentistry, massage therapy or counseling only happen on a pay-per-use basis, or if you're lucky enough to have a job that affords you a health plan. I fall into this latter group, thanks to my partner. 

And then there's the cost of drugs.

As The Guardian recently pointed out, Canada has the second highest drug prices of any industrialized country in the world. We're also the only country in the world with a universal health plan that doesn't cover the cost of drugs. If you're a Canadian with a chronic illness, like my father before he passed in 2008, affording the drugs required to ease your pain or keep you alive can leave a family in poverty. Hell, thanks to some interesting/poor choices in my past, I've been left with PTSD. Without my partner's health plan, paying for the drugs that help me to feel safe and grounded while I work my shit out in therapy and on the streets every day might be too expensive for me to afford. I have to imagine that a lot of Americans worry about similar things happening to them.

Anyway, I'll be writing for Boing Boing for at least the next month or so. Are there any other questions about Canada that I can try to answer for you? Hit the comments and let me know.

Image courtesy of pxhere.

Placing other people's poop in your person is a piss-poor plan

I can't believe I have to write this, but maybe jamming other people's shit up your ass isn't a great idea.

When done by medical professions, under very specific circumstances, a fecal transplant can mean the difference between life and death: implanting feces containing healthy gut microbiome into a patient's body has been used by doctors as a way to help fight antibiotic-resistant super bugs, like Clostridium difficile.  A lot of folks online have been blathering away about how research shows that the same sort of treatment could also act as a cure for obesity. As reported by The Guardian, on hearing this news, people are now shoveling other people's crap into their bodies without a doctor's supervision.

What's the problem, you say? Well, before the treatment is administered in a clinical setting, the fecal matter used is screened for disease and other nasties in an effort to make the transplant as safe as possible. Without proper screening, the risk of transferring diseases like Hepititus or HIV from one poo owner to another is pretty high. Additionally, a DIY fecal transplant conducted in the name of losing weight could have the opposite effect. A case study from a few years back illustrated that a woman who underwent a fecal transplant to deal with a drug resistant super bug ended up becoming obese as a result. Oops.

So, if you're feel that you could stand to lose a few pounds, take a look at your eating habits, exercise more or visit a doctor for help in losing weight before reaching for a bag of liquefied shit.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

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