Woman fights to keep her three emotional support monkeys

Texanne McBride-Teahan of the St. Louis suburb Creve Coeur, is fighting in court to keep her emotional support animals: a black-capped capuchin monkey named Paula, a patas monkey named Zoey, and a bonnet macaque named Kalie Anna. Shortly after McBride-Teahan moved in to her home, neighbors apparently complained. From CNN:

Monkeys are considered an "inherently dangerous animal" along with alligators, lions and pythons and are thus prohibited in residential areas, according to the City of Creve Coeur...

McBride-Teahan considers the monkeys emotional support animals and has a doctor's letter and registration cards for them, she told CNN through Facebook. The animals help her cope with post-traumatic stress disorder related to an incident when she was a teenager, McBride-Teahan added...

"Monkeys are little. Less than 9 pounds. Pictures show they aren't dangerous. To me they are life savers for my PTSD. We just want to live in peace," McBride-Teahan told CNN.

After all this, the monkeys may need emotional support humans.

Prankster gets the obituary he probably deserves

Recently-deceased Joseph A. Heller, Jr., an 82-year-old dad from Connecticut, was known for being a prankster. So it makes sense that his family would take the opportunity to send him off with an obituary worthy of his twisted sense of humor.

Some highlights:

Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, “generally well-lived and with few regrets.” When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that “your father is a very sick man,” in unison they replied, “you have no idea.”...

Being born during the depression shaped Joe’s formative years and resulted in a lifetime of frugality, hoarding and cheap mischief, often at the expense of others. Being the eldest was a dubious task but he was up for the challenge and led and tortured his siblings through a childhood of obnoxious pranks, with his brother, Bob, generally serving as his wingman. Pat, Dick and Kathy were often on the receiving end of such lessons as “Ding Dong, Dogsh*t” and thwarting lunch thieves with laxative-laced chocolate cake and excrement meatloaf sandwiches. His mother was not immune to his pranks as he named his first dog, “Fart,” so she would have to scream his name to come home if he wandered off...

There he met the love of his life, Irene, who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum. Boy, was she ever wrong. Joe embarrassed her daily with his mouth and choice of clothing. To this day we do not understand how he convinced our mother, an exceedingly proper woman and a pillar in her church, to sew and create the colorful costumes and props which he used for his antics...

Joe was a frequent shopper at the Essex Dump and he left his family with a house full of crap, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with. If there was ever a treasure that he snatched out from under you among the mounds of junk, please wait the appropriate amount of time to contact the family to claim your loot. We’re available tomorrow.

Read this entire work of literary art here.


screenshot via RWW Funeral Home

The existential endtime pleasures of watching silent restoration videos

It is perhaps in the spirit of our anxious, rickety age that antique tool, machinery, and toy restoration videos are becoming increasingly popular. There is something oddly comforting and therapeutic about seeing the old, the forgotten, the previously reliable (now seized with rust and neglect) being lovingly restored to life.

These videos are simple, quiet (usually with no spoken narrative), and most of the restoration process is carefully shown, from disassembly to cleaning, sanding, repainting to re-assembly and testing. This is a world in which time, Evapo-Rust, a wire wheel, and some rattle-cans of enamel paint can repair the past to near show room luster.

I can't get enough. And for makers, there are lots of great repair and restoration tips embedded in these videos. Here are a few of my favorite channels.

Furries deplatform Milo

Provocateur Milo Yiannopolous was once the new darling of right-wing media. But after his equivocal opinions on pedophilia were publicized—and then the extent of his interactions with white supremacists—he saw his platforms disappear one by one. A week after excoriating the marginal social networks he's still on for not providing enough reach, the furries are supposedly casting him out too.

[Milo] registered for Midwest FurFest, a convention “to celebrate the furry fandom” hosted in the suburbs on Chicago this December. “Furries,” as they’re often called, are groups of people who have interest in animal personas with human characteristics; people who participate in the subculture often present themselves as non-human characters via art and costumes. Yiannopoulos also claimed on Telegram that he had submitted a form to suggest he host a panel called “The Politics of Fur.” He asked his followers who plan to attend Midwest FurFest to message him to arrange “dinner, drinks, photos or anything else.”

After numerous complaints online, Midwest FurFest put out a statement on Twitter: “We have received a number of mentions and support tickets today – we assure all attendees that your safety is of the utmost importance and is not being ignored. We are investigating all concerns being relayed to us.”

Among furs is a surprisingly large far-right contingent: virtually unsocialized men taking advantage of a social milieu that's vulnerable to exploitation and trolling. Furry fandom is a freebase microcosm of all that the internet dissolves and binds, and so here comes Milo, tearing for a last redoubt.

UPDATE: It's official. No fur fun for Milo.

I binge watched the BH90210 reboot and it is wonderful

The Beverly Hills 90210 reboot is everything a fan could hope for.

I avoided watching BH90210 for about as long as I could. I have been disappointed too many times by things like Gremlins 2, Ghostbusters 2, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and AfterMASH. I do not count on entertainers being able to reliably recreate their magic (Star Wars prequels.)

The Wild Wild West movie adaptation????

These days even the most popular shows can't get to the end of their series.

I watched Beverly Hills 90210 through my teens and 20s.

In high school, I remember my sister torturing me because I had a crush on Shannen Doherty.

My very first night with my terrible bad back was spent on flexoril, wine and watching Kelly and Matt irresponsibly snort coke.

During my start-up days, during the boom of dotcom, folks marveled at how my Tivo was nothing but 90210 and The Wild Wild West.

I keep the series on my media RAID array and often rewatch seasons. The College years are likely my favorite.

I used to drive a 1955 Speedster.

I had the fear and didn't want to watch this new reboot. I was scared it'd ruin the old show. Then I heard about the wacky reality tv-esque thing they were attempting and I was really reluctant to watch.

BH90210 is a scripted 'reality' view of the cast coming back together to try and reboot the show. Each actor plays a dramatized version of themself. Based loosely on their actual lives but embued with the essence of their character: each actor is now a caricature.

I could not imagine this show working.

This show works really, really well!

The series does a great job of setting up and introducing the idea, gathering the actors for a cast reunion at a pop culture convention. I do not think the dress they stole was the actual dress from the 'Donna get drunk' episode.

It takes two episodes for all of the actors to really find their groove and for the 'this is supposed to be Jason Priestly and not Brandon, but it is mostly Brandon' dissonance to settle in... but Wow! This is wonderful.

The old gang is together, and the problems are just as manufactured!

In addition to much of the core early cast, the show brings back a few guests you'll be thrilled to see. The cast drunkenly singing 'How Do You Talk To An Angel' with Jamie Walters is god damn brilliant and Carol Potter's therapy practice hilarious (she's actually a family therapist.)

It is a pleasure seeing the entire cast but Brian Austin Green really stands out. I especially enjoy some of the fan service jokes he makes. I hope he teaches a whole new generation to "Squash It".

Clearly, the cast is having a great time. If you enjoyed the OG series I think'll you have fun too.

Woman who had dramatic dream of swallowing her engagement ring actually did it

Jenna Evans had a dream that she and her fiancé were on a train when bad guys appeared. To protect her new 2.4 carat engagement ring, she swallowed it. In the dream. And in reality.

"I popped that sucker off, put it in my mouth and swallowed it with a glass of water," she wrote on Facebook.

From NBC:

"When I woke up in the morning, there was no ring on my finger," Evans told "Today." "I couldn't help but laugh at it, and then I had to wake my fiance up and tell him that I had swallowed my engagement ring."

Evans went to an urgent care clinic where doctors decided against letting the ring pass naturally through the 29-year-old's system, and instead referred her to a gastroenterologist...

Doctors found the engagement ring in Evans' intestines, just beyond her stomach. Evans said her fiancé returned the ring to her on Thursday.

3D Ken Burns effect from a single photo

Simon Niklaus et al devised a method to convincingly add a 3D Ken Burns zoom effect to 2D photographs. Their code works as well as a professional graphic designer: better than simple cut-outs slapped into an After Effects stage, thought I still get that slightly uncanny "2.5D" Viewmaster effect.

The Ken Burns effect allows animating still images with a virtual camera scan and zoom. Adding parallax, which results in the 3D Ken Burns effect, enables significantly more compelling results. Creating such effects manually is time-consuming and demands sophisticated editing skills. Existing automatic methods, however, require multiple input images from varying viewpoints. In this paper, we introduce a framework that synthesizes the 3D Ken Burns effect from a single image, supporting both a fully automatic mode and an interactive mode with the user controlling the camera. Our framework first leverages a depth prediction pipeline, which estimates scene depth that is suitable for view synthesis tasks. To address the limitations of existing depth estimation methods such as geometric distortions, semantic distortions, and inaccurate depth boundaries, we develop a semantic-aware neural network for depth prediction, couple its estimate with a segmentation-based depth adjustment process, and employ a refinement neural network that facilitates accurate depth predictions at object boundaries. According to this depth estimate, our framework then maps the input image to a point cloud and synthesizes the resulting video frames by rendering the point cloud from the corresponding camera positions. To address disocclusions while maintaining geometrically and temporally coherent synthesis results, we utilize context-aware color- and depth-inpainting to fill in the missing information in the extreme views of the camera path, thus extending the scene geometry of the point cloud. Experiments with a wide variety of image content show that our method enables realistic synthesis results. Our study demonstrates that our system allows users to achieve better results while requiring little effort compared to existing solutions for the 3D Ken Burns effect creation.

Why chess wrecks the bodies of grandmasters

Photo of Magnus Carlsen at a chess tournament

TIL that the physical rigors of competitive chess are so hard that grandmasters have begun to train like soccer players.

The exertions of chess are intense. The mental effort burns ferocious amounts of calories; the rigors of sitting for hours wreak havoc on the body. The upshot is that grandmasters can be a total wreck after a tournament, as this fascinating story in ESPN documents:

In 2004, winner Rustam Kasimdzhanov walked away from the six-game world championship having lost 17 pounds. In October 2018, Polar, a U.S.-based company that tracks heart rates, monitored chess players during a tournament and found that 21-year-old Russian grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had burned 560 calories in two hours of sitting and playing chess -- or roughly what Roger Federer would burn in an hour of singles tennis.

Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters' stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.

"Grandmasters sustain elevated blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners," Sapolsky says.

It all combines to produce an average weight loss of 2 pounds a day, or about 10-12 pounds over the course of a 10-day tournament in which each grandmaster might play five or six times. The effect can be off-putting to the players themselves, even if it's expected. Caruana, whose base weight is 135 pounds, drops to 120 to 125 pounds. "Sometimes I've weighed myself after tournaments and I've seen the scale drop below 120," he says, "and that's when I get mildly scared."

(CC-2.0-licensed photo of Magnus Carlsen at a chess tournament courtesy the Flickr stream of Federació d'Escacs Valls d'Andorra)

(Thanks to Damien Joyce for pointing this one out!)

Game champion threatens to sue records website that disallowed his precious Donkey Kong score

Billy Mitchell long held the high-score record for the arcade classic Donkey Kong, but his reputation suffered after his best times were shown to have been made using emulators rather than arcade hardware. Now he's threatening to sue one of the top scorekeeping websites, which struck his scores from the record, and the publishers of The Guinness Book of Records, which cites it as a source.

Owen S. Good:

This week, lawyers for Mitchell sent a letter to Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records demanding that both “retract their claims against Billy Mitchell” and restore the scores to their world record leaderboards, where Mitchell had been a fixture since the early 1980s. Attorneys made the same demand of Guinness World Records, which uses Twin Galaxies as its source for the video game high score records it recognizes.

At issue is the April 12, 2018 finding by Twin Galaxies, after a three-month investigation and deliberative process, that the gameplay in two million-point scores Mitchell claimed for Donkey Kong were not produced by original, unmodified arcade hardware. The implication in that finding is that Mitchell used an emulator running the game to produce the scores, and emulators allow different control schemes, display setups, and even the means to cheat or manipulate a score or performance.

Here's the letter. An excerpt:

its investigation did not provide Billy Mitchell fair opportunity to
provide evidence to prove his innocence. Throughout the investigation, Twin Galaxies had a
double standard. Specific evidence against Mitchell was accepted, while evidence of equal
stature was rejected. Further, Twin Galaxies selected a biased third party investigator with close ties to Donkey Kong Forum, another group defaming Billy Mitchell. This investigator was
openly inflammatory throughout the investigation, and expressed his support of score removal on
the very first day of the dispute; there was nothing unbiased about him. This, along with other
examples, displays a substantial level of constitutional malice.

This letter demands that both Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records retract their
claims against Billy Mitchell, and immediately restore his achievements and good name.
Attached to this letter via link is the full evidence package, which proves that the claims of Twin
Galaxies and Guinness World Records are false.4 This evidence includes witness affidavits,
historical documentation, scientific evidence, gameplay analysis, expert witnesses, and Walter
Day's letter with sworn affidavit. Due to the overwhelming evidence, neither Twin Galaxies nor
Guinness World Records can possibly

Constitutional Malice is my new chip-punk band name.

The misadventures of Corn Pop and Joe

In 1962, a 19-year old Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., in an effort to get to know more about the minorities who occupied the mean streets of Wilmington, Delaware took a job as a lifeguard at a local public pool. It was at that very pool when Joe ran afoul of a member of the Romans gang by the name of Corn Pop. Soon, straight razors, chain, and Esther Williams became involved.

Here's Joe, back at the scene of the crime in 2017 when the pool was renamed in his honor. I'll let him tell you the story.

Joe and Corn Pop's misadventures are getting renewed attention after The Root's Michael Harriot called bullshit on Twitter.

You can read the rest of the 19-tweet thread here.

So, because it's silly season, I'm sure someone will be offering a reward for information on Corn Pop's whereabouts. Only 141 more days until the Iowa caucuses. Stay strong.

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP)

"Missing" woman joins in search party looking for ... herself

Photo of a newspaper story about a woman involved in a search party for herself

Aren't we all, really, involved in a search party that's desperately hunting to locate ourselves?

I've seen this one making the rounds on Twitter, but The Poke transcribed the news story, in case it's hard to read in the photo above:

Missing woman mystery solved

A group of tourists spent hours Saturday night looking for a missing woman near Iceland’s Eldgja canyon, only to find her among the search party.

The group was travelling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near a volcanic canyon.

Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman, who had changed clothes, didn’t recognise the description of herself and joined in the search.

But the search was called off at about 3am when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself.

Extremely epic video shows how pencils are made

Faber-Castell's been making pencils since 1761 and wants to show-not-tell you about them. Wordless cinematography and a epic soundtrack right out of Hollywood.

Producing 2.3 billion pencils a year and being in the business for over 257 years, Faber-Castell has a sound know-how of how quality pencils are made. Have a look behind the scenes of our manufacturing.

The beauty of this video is the tension between two advertising concepts: "make the industrial process look artisanal" vs "glorify the scale of the industrial process." So you end up with intimately-recorded pencil-scatching noises played comically loud, fighting for attention against Logic Pro's orchestal sample library.


Epic glove ad explains benefits of gloves
Epic chains ad explains benefits of chains

Have you seen the entire Mr. Creosote sketch from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life?

The Mr. Creosote sketch from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life went viral this weekend after director Quentin Tarantino was alleged to have said it's the only scene in film he was ever disturbed by. Watching it, it struck me that I'd never actually seen the whole thing, and that you might not have, either.

I read somewhere, perhaps Michael Palin's autobiography, that under the hot studio lights and the long, technical takes, the food matter on the set began to reek and one of the extras vomited for real.

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