Free pulp sci-fi, mystery, crime and fantasy magazines? Yes please!

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

Peter Egan talks about his 1976 BMW R90 S and some other bike

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.

Octopi are not from space, but disappointment is real

The pretty far reaching study we blogged last week, about Octopi coming from outer space, is really most likely, probably, near certainly not true.

Via Space.com

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.

How Wim Hof, "The Iceman," withstands such extreme temperatures

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)

Two sitting Senators were among the people whose identities were stolen in FCC comments from anti-Net Neutrality bots

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). (more…)

Giuliani helped to keep Oxycontin in the hands of addicts

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

There's going to be scratch-and-sniff postage stamps this summer

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.

Tibetan man gets five years in prison for speaking about his native language

For the crime of talking to a western media outlet about his native tongue, Tashi Wangchuk has been sentenced to prison.

Back in 2015, Mr. Tashi spoke to the New York Times about his concerns that Tibetans were in danger of losing their native language. It was a problem that had been brewing for a while. Tibet declared independence from the much larger nation in 1913. They had their culture, their Dalai Lama and their territory. Things were good… for around 36 years. In 1949, Mao Zedong got China all hot and horny for Communism. Looking to regain the lands that they felt belonged to them, for political and defensive reasons, The People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet in 1950, invaded Tibet, scourging the nation’s culture, language and beliefs in an effort to bring it into line with China’s political doctrine.

China’s never relented its stranglehold on Tibet’s politics but, over time, it did come to allow a certain amount of levity for ethnic minorities, not just in Tibet, but in other Chinese territories (both traditionally recognized or taken by force). Diversity in custom and language were begrudgingly tolerated. In 1984, China went so far as to protect the right to the preservation of language and culture, so long as it didn’t get in the way of their political agenda, under the law. So, when Mr. Tashi chatted with The Grey Lady, he assumed that he and the Chinese government would be cool.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

The most recent iteration of the Central People’s Government holds a more assimilationist approach to governance: One people, one language, yadda yadda. The law that should have protected Mr. Tashi was ignored by the Chinese government in favor of arresting him for "inciting separatism." That he was found guilty was a given: the Chinese Communist Party court that Mr. Tashi stood before generally gets its way. In this case, its way is that Tashi be sentenced to five years in prison. Including the time that he’d already served while waiting for his trial, he won’t be able to call himself a free man until 2021.

From The New York Times:

At his trial in January, Mr. Tashi, speaking in Chinese, rejected the idea that his efforts to rejuvenate the Tibetan language were a crime. He has said that he does not advocate independence for Tibet, but wants the rights for ethnic minorities that are promised by Chinese law, including the right to use their own language.

After Mr. Tashi’s trial, six experts advising the United Nations on rights said, “We condemn the continued detention of Mr. Wangchuk and the criminalization of his freedom of expression.”

They added: “Free exchange of views about state policies, including criticism against policies and actions that appear to have a negative impact on the lives of people, need to be protected.”

Mr. Tashi’s legal team is appealing the sentence, but with kangaroo courts being what they are, the likelihood of his getting out early is pretty slim.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of tiffany terry

The military sysadmins in charge of Trump's cellphones can't get him to give up wildly insecure practices

The White House Communications Agency, staffed with military information security experts, is in charge of making sure that the President's cellular phone isn't getting hacked by adversaries who might otherwise be able to listen in on his calls, capture his messages, intercept his search history, and remotely operate his camera and microphone. Donald Trump routinely ignores their advice. (more…)

Couple suing overgrown 30-year-old son for not moving out of their house

A couple in Syracuse, New York have a 30-year-old son, Michael Rotondo, who is an unwanted guest in their house. He doesn't pay rent or any house expenses, he doesn't help out with the house chores, and he won't respond to five written requests from his parents to please move the fuck out already. They've even offered to help him out as he gets his new start, but he won't budge. So, at their wits' end, the parents are suing the boy.

According to Mashable:

The Rotondo parents say they've given their son Michael five notices over the past few months telling him to leave. They also told him that they'll help him if he does vacate.

However, the son is saying he legally wasn't given enough notice.

The neighbors in the area are siding with the parents. News 8 says resident Lashea Wright stated, "It's time. He's 30. And not paying rent. You need to be independent."

They will all go to court later this month, about seven weeks before Mikey's 31st birthday.

Image: Martin Taras. - DVD "Super Clásicos Infantiles"., Public Domain, Link

Correction: In an earlier version of this story I quoted Michael as saying, "Under this legal reasoning, my parents probably should have sued me when I was a kid." It was not Michael who said that, but Mashable in a bit of humor that I missed.

ADL identifies 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets from 3 million accounts last year

The ADL has sorted, sifted and studied a mass of English-language anti-Semitic tweets from last year. They dropped any that might be just ironic or meant in jest, not actually hating on us Jews, and came up with a mere 4.2 million statements of hate! The study and the collection of angry tweets will be made available to tech companies in hopes of improving automated systems for identifying hate speech online.

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