• Hum that song stuck in your head and Google will identify it

    You no longer have to rely on piece of recorded music to figure out the name of a song. Now you can hum, whistle, or sing a melody and a new Google feature will name that tune.

    CNET reports that the tech behind it isn't new, "The technology to match tones to a database of identified songs through singing, humming and whistling — instead of from lyrics alone — has existed for more than a decade, and was a staple in the music app SoundHound as far back as 2009."

    No explanation on why it's taken so long to be available. (Jerks!)

    I sang a little "Do you know the way to San Jose" into my phone and Google picked up on it right away. Try it for yourself:

    On your mobile device, open the latest version of the Google app or find your Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say "what's this song?" or click the "Search a song" button. Then start humming for 10-15 seconds. On Google Assistant, it's just as simple. Say "Hey Google, what's this song?" and then hum the tune. This feature is currently available in English on iOS, and in more than 20 languages on Android. And we hope to expand this to more languages in the future.

    After you're finished humming, our machine learning algorithm helps identify potential song matches. And don't worry, you don't need perfect pitch to use this feature. We'll show you the most likely options based on the tune. Then you can select the best match and explore information on the song and artist, view any accompanying music videos or listen to the song on your favorite music app, find the lyrics, read analysis and even check out other recordings of the song when available. 

    screengrabs via Google

  • If you want your boost your memory, try this course

    Your brain is a wondrous creation. Even when you're destroying it with Cheetos and hour after hour of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it's still the most powerful computer you will ever own. 

    According to Northwestern University psychology professor Paul Reber, each human brain has the capacity to store up to 2.5 petabytes of data. You'd need about 4,000 of the max capacity  256GB iPhones to store as much information as you could hold in your brain right now.

    Unfortunately, our brain's recall process doesn't always live up to our built-in storage possibilities. In fact, your short-term memory can only hold about five to nine items at once, and then for only about 20 to 30 seconds. If they don't get filed into your long-term memory, they're ultimately gone.

    However, there are methods for fine-tuning your brain and training yourself to remember more and remember it quickly. The steps in the Learn How to Learn 10X Faster and Boost Your Memory course can help bring that inner supercomputer out in all of us.

    The course is led by respected instructor and memory coach Eralp Sendan, who's spent over 10 years developing an understanding of creative thinking and watching how the brain works.

    In this course, Sendan will train you how to retrain your mind, including a variety of basic proven memory techniques that will absolutely help you learn information faster and keep it locked up inside your memory for as long as you need it. You may have heard of techniques like memory association, visual chain, the memory palace and more, but after this course, you'll understand what they are and how to use them to keep your brain in overdrive when you need it most.

    The course also includes techniques for remembering very specific information that is part of your day to day life. Want to know how to remember important dates like a birthday or an anniversary? Or ways to remember faces and names? Or even how to deliver a speech without notes? The training here will offer a pathway to get you on top of all those memory puzzles, so you can be the one who remembers everything.

     This memory training is a $200 course, but right now, it's on sale for $24.99, a price that should make this deal hard to forget.

    Prices are subject to change.

    Do you have your stay-at-home essentials? Here are some you may have missed.

  • A year after coup, Evo Morales' party returns to power in Bolivia elections

    In 2019, Bolivia's president Evo Morales was deposed in a coup after a disputed election. Yesterday, Morales' party returned to power in the first elections since. Morales was banned from running, but "handpicked" his own successor, Luis Arce.

    Interim President Jeanine Áñez — an archrival of Morales — recognized that the socialist movement looked set to return to power in what looked to be a major jolt to South America's beleaguered left.

    "I congratulate the winners and I ask them to govern thinking in Bolivia and in our democracy," Áñez said on Twitter.

    (more…)
  • Adam Savage looks at folding rulers

    I love Adam Savage's "Favorite Tools" and "One Day Build" videos. In this video, he shows off some of his antique folding rulers and looks at a modern model just released from Makers Cabinet (creators of the Iris drawing compass).

    One great tip he points out for collectors of antique tools: Find a local antiques mall. These are large spaces where stalls are rented out to individual antiques dealers. He says he goes to them all over the country when he's on the road.

  • PartyLine lets you voice-chat with a stranger with differing political views

    Danielle Baskin has launched a tasty new project called PartyLine. She's devised a way to put people — outside of their own political and social bubbles — together to… talk.

    PartyLine pairs you in a voice-chat with someone in any state to have a conversation about political topics. Your match is determined by questions you answer. (We pair you with someone who agrees with you on something, but disagrees on something else.)

    You could match with someone in a city you've never been to before, someone with a completely different background than yours, or someone with a story that teaches you something new. We're opening channels to spark meaningful conversations between people who might not be like-minded.

    Don't let the photo of two phones fool you. This is a voice-chat that takes place "over WiFi through your browser on your desktop or mobile device." 

    image via PartyLine

  • Meet the woman crafting monster schlongs for GWAR Margaret Rolicki and bat-tle axes

    Artist Margaret Rolicki is the Cynthia Plaster Caster of the prop fabrication world and the spiritual heir to Milicent Patrick's (Creature from the Black Lagoon) legacy. When not making her own art (like this fantastic bat mask tribute to Margaret Brundage's Weird Tales cover art), Rolicki is deep in the bowels of the Slave Pit, creating dick udders, molding monster brains underneath removable skullcaps, and whipping up a fresh batch of spew (fake blood and alien bile) for an upcoming live show of Richmond, Virginia's fabled thrash metal band, GWAR, best known for their elaborately gross stage show filled with beheadings, spewing foam penises, and alien abortions.

    I don't know that I could name a single song by GWAR, but I can tell you that showing up at high school with your skin stained red with fake blood the morning after one of their shows was a badge of honor.

    Check out Margaret's art on her Instagram page, her website, and see her operating the spew cannon live in action at GWAR's Scumdogs of the Universe anniversary show on Oct. 30th.

    Margaret Rolicki and bat prop
    Margaret Rolicki and Bat (commissioned costume)
    Margaret Rolicki sculpts a demon head
    Blothar's dick udders by Margaret Rolicki
    GWAR's Blothar model's Margaret's creation
    Margaret Rolicki with GWAR
    Headdress commission based on Boris Vallejo's Midnight Angel illustration 
    Oderus mask with scalp rip, made for a fan.
  • Libertarians exit, pursued by bears

    Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling has a new non-fiction book out called A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) that tells the story of a small New Hampshire that gets overrun by a roving band of wild Libertarians, whose steadfast commitment to anti-Statism ends up leading to another take over by a roving band of wild black bears.

    I haven't read the book yet, but I did read Patrick Blanchfield's delightful feature-length review at New Republic, which is a wonderful read in its own right. But even his descriptions of Hongoltz-Hetling book make me crave the full experience:

    Hongoltz-Hetling profiles many newcomers, all of them larger-than-life, yet quite real. The people who joined the Free Town Project in its first five years were, as he describes, "free radicals"—men with "either too much money or not enough," with either capital to burn or nothing to lose. There's John Connell of Massachusetts, who arrived on a mission from God, liquidated his savings, and bought the historic Grafton Center Meetinghouse, transforming it into the "Peaceful Assembly Church," an endeavor that mixed garish folk art, strange rants from its new pastor (Connell himself), and a quixotic quest to secure tax exemption while refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the IRS to grant it. There's Adam Franz, a self-described anti-capitalist who set up a tent city to serve as "a planned community of survivalists," even though no one who joined it had any real bushcraft skills. There's Richard Angell, an anti-circumcision activist known as "Dick Angel." And so on. As Hongoltz-Hetling makes clear, libertarianism can indeed have a certain big-tent character, especially when the scene is a new landscape of freedom-lovers making "homes out of yurts and RVs, trailers and tents, geodesic domes and shipping containers."

    and

    What was the deal with Grafton's bears? Hongoltz-Hetling investigates the question at length, probing numerous hypotheses for why the creatures have become so uncharacteristically aggressive, indifferent, intelligent, and unafraid. Is it the lack of zoning, the resulting incursion into bear habitats, and the reluctance of Graftonites to pay for, let alone mandate, bear-proof garbage bins? Might the bears be deranged somehow, perhaps even disinhibited and emboldened by toxoplasmosis infections, picked up from eating trash and pet waste from said unsecured bins? There can be no definitive answer to these questions, but one thing is clear: The libertarian social experiment underway in Grafton was uniquely incapable of dealing with the problem. "Free Towners were finding that the situations that had been so easy to problem-solve in the abstract medium of message boards were difficult to resolve in person."

    Blanchfield also goes in-depth into bear conservation, and the unique problems and solutions that government wildlife officials in places like New Hampshire must content with. Of course, from the perspective of the Free Town Libertarians, the existence of government wildlife officials is the greatest problem of all. But the bears disagree.

    A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) (Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling)

    The Town That Went Feral (Patrick Blanchfield)

  • New York Post's own reporters denounce its Hunter Biden story

    Last week, The New York Post posted an expose of what it claimed were contents of Hunter Biden's laptop, supposedly abandoned at a Delaware repair shop. It "revealed" access-trading to his father, Joe Biden—with more sensational October surprises to come. But the "hard drive" came courtesy of Steve Bannon, recently bailed on fraud charges, and Rudy Giuliani, the personal lawyer of Donald Trump. Suspicions about its provenance and authenticity were overwhelming from the outset. On Sunday, The New York Times revealed that the story is so shaky that its own author refused to let the Post add his byline to it—and that Giuliani says he only shopped the story there because he knew it wouldn't verify it before publication.

    Mr. Giuliani said he chose The Post because "either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out." …

    As deadline approached, editors pressed staff members to add their bylines to the story — and at least one aside from Mr. Golding refused, two Post journalists said. A Post spokeswoman had no comment on how the article was written or edited. …

    Ms. Fonrouge had little to do with the reporting or writing of the article, said three people with knowledge of how it was prepared. She learned that her byline was on the story only after it was published, the people said.

    Today, the Post's own reporters are openly (but anonymously) criticizing the story, telling New York Magazine's Peter Sterne that it is "very flimsy" and "should never have been published."

    "I think it was very flimsy," one Post reporter told Intelligencer.

    Another journalist at the paper was even more blunt.

    "It's not something that meets my journalistic standards," they said, adding that the piece "should not have been published." …

    It seems at this point that the story (and any others that come from this extremely dubious "hard drive") is a real dud. But the ass-covering from Post staffers themselves started after GOP Senator Ron Johnson insinuated that there was child porn on the "hard drive".

    Given that this "hard drive" is possibly a fraudulent body of material and that the claimed source of it verges on absurdity, Johnson's insinuation would mean that everyone involved in the story has been sitting on a pile of child porn for weeks or even months, waiting to use it to smear Joe Biden. I'm not a laywer, but that seems bad.

  • Man urinates on other passenger on red-eye flight

    When you're a pastor from North Carolina taking a late night flight leaving Las Vegas, consider urinating in the airplane bathroom and not on your fellow passenger while she sleeps. Alicia Beverly of Detroit woke up to a warm liquid splashing on her leg.

    "I jump up and I seen his private area out and I screamed and that woke everybody up," she told Fox 2 Detroit. "By that time I actually looked at him and I see him shake himself off and I'm like this man just peed on me! I looked and there was a puddle of pee in the seats!"

    The pastor's camp claimed he had an adverse reaction to a sleep aid, but he was taken into custody and charges are pending.

  • No malarkey: I visited Biden HQ in Animal Crossing and it went like this

    The Biden/Harris team is going after those Gen Z votes with a visitable campaign headquarters, in the form of an Animal Crossing: New Horizons island (you might remember they also offer in-game digital yard signs). I'm not Gen Z but I play the game and was curious to what I was going to find on Biden's island. So, I played tourist by using its Dream Code DA-7286-5710-7478. Well, I'm glad I did. The attention to details is impressive. There are poll booths, a White House, merch, and, well, let me show you. Selfie opps were a-plenty:

    Off I go…
    I ran into virtual Joe Biden soon after landing. Getting him in a shot was difficult, as he was being pretty elusive.
    I did manage to get a moment with the digital candidate and he exclaimed "No malarkey!" (I didn't get the reference.)
    Strolling around the island, I found a rose garden styled to look like the U.S. flag. Neat.
    I also found the "White House" with its own rose garden. ACNH players will note that it's cleverly constructed with panels and the Museum. And, you can't actually get over there. It's gated off.
    I then went to the building that houses Biden's HQ.
    As I mentioned, the attention to detail is impressive. I've built a lot of spaces in ACNH and I know this took some real effort to create.
    See how surprised I am?
    — Text "AC" to 30330 for a something fun —
    The upstairs room was divided in two: one side for Biden and the other for Kamala (note her sneaker collection).
    One room had a DJ stand and digital Biden/Harris merch (which is available out HQ and online).
    I picked up a Kamala Hoodie.
    There was another surprise downstairs. That's where they placed "Joe's Train Town." (I didn't get that reference either.)
    Before heading back to my isle of Wishbone, I stopped by for a balloon-selfie at the polling place. IWillVote.com
  • A federal judge wants to determine once and for all if Trump's tweets are legally binding

    On October 6, 2020, Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted all documents related to the various Russia investigations and everything Hillary Clinton has ever done to be total declassified, "No redactions!"

    This is a pretty bold demand. Even if Trump is correct about the elaborately nonsensical conspiracy against him, there are sometimes valid reasons for documents to be classified, and exposing all of these documents — which is undoubtedly a lot! — could inadvertently reveal some other information that the government might not want out there (including some personal details for various people that probably shouldn't be out there, for purposes of safety).

    Still, the Authoritarian-In-Chief demanded it. So Buzzfeed News submitted a FOIA request for all of the documents, since they're fair game. And when they were denied those documents, they took the case to court, where White House lawyers argued that the President's tweets are not meant to be taken literally except for when they are, which is sometimes. (They're essentially arguing that the official capacity of Trump's tweets follow the same you-know-it-when-you-see-it criteria as pornography, which is, erm, kind of odd.)

    Here's what happened on Friday, October 16:

    During an extraordinary 30-minute hearing Friday morning, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton rejected a government attorney's assertion that Trump's Oct. 6 tweets were "ambiguous" and should not be interpreted as orders to declassify anything specific.

    Matt Topic, an attorney representing BuzzFeed News, disagreed. He told Walton there can't be anything more clear than Trump's tweet that called for the release of every document from the Russia probe without any redactions.

    Walton also disagreed with the government's stance. He said Trump's tweets in which the president stated he has "fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining" to the Russia investigation are "unambiguous" and clearly indicated what his intent was.

    "I don't think anything more is required," Walton said.

    The Judge has given the White House lawyers and Department of Justice until Wednesday, October 21 to determine whether or not Trump's unambiguous tweets were, in fact, as unambiguous as they were.

    A Federal Judge Wants To Know If Trump Means What He Tweets [Jason Leopold / Buzzfeed News]

    Image: Public Domain via NeedPix

  • Virtual shipbuilding time-lapse shows the making of the Obra Dinn

    Lucas Pope's The Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the most interesting and unique games of the last few years. The vessel washes up in England in 1807, an abandoned ghost ship, and you're the insurance adjuster sent in to figure out what became of its cargo, crew and passengers. Armed with an eldritch pocketwatch that offers a psychic glimpse of each person's moment of death, you solve the mystery through logic and observation, all the while enjoying a pixelated 1-bit aesthetic that captures the spirit of nautical woodcut prints. Pope just released a time-lapse recording of him creating the game's star, the Obra Dinn, a work of many months.

    This is a linear playback of all my edits in Maya and was generated using a set of custom tools to capture the data, process it, and replay it in a marginally coherent way. If you haven't played the game, this video will be confusing and boring. If you have played the game, same problem.

    There are big spoilers lurking in the otherwise very placid 49-minute video. I say placid, but I did Homer-scream, again, when the s█████ of the s██ turned up, again.



  • Work remotely from this Japnese theme park

    I'm not sure if this is a genius plan for keeping the lights on at an otherwise vacant theme park during this time of plague or a fresh low point in the long timeline of work ruining damn near everything.

    Yomiuriland, located just outside of Tokyo, has opened its doors, in a very limited capacity, to a very specific class of clientele: remote workers. for just under $20 bucks, you can have the joy sucked out of your life by bickering with your boss on Slack while you ride around on the park's Ferris wheel. I dunno, maybe you might get a chance to enjoy the view between emails and the fourth unnecessary Zoom meeting of the day?

    Once you've had the opportunity to not admire the sites from far above the near-empty amusement park, you'll have the opportunity to remember what enjoying yourself in a sea of relatively happy, mask-free people used to feel like, by continuing your workday in a lounge chair, located next to one of the park's water attractions.

    In late fall.

    As the weather changes for the worse.

    Image via Flickr, courtesy of ykanazawa1999