Archive of old Japanese fireworks catalogs

These old Japanese fireworks catalog scans from the Yokohama City Library are a treat for design lovers.

[via Present and Correct] Read the rest

Florida man arrested in mailbomb investigation

Turn on your sets, civilians. Breaking news via TPM:

Federal authorities have arrested and detained a man in Florida in connection to the 12 potential explosive devices sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump this week, according to CNN and NBC reporting. The man is reportedly now in FBI custody for questioning. Per NBC, the suspect is possibly in his 50s.

The BBC reports that it has confirmation of the arrest from U.S. officials, but no further details.

Previously: Official: Explosive devices sent to Trump critics are consistent with online bomb-making designs. Read the rest

You can buy used voting machines on eBay, complete with election data

$100 or so a pop. Here's a nice up-to-date Diebold machine. And here's a stack of the voter access cards that go with them. Brian Varner reports on how much can be learned from such items.

The hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.

Even current models are shot through with comically obvious vulnerabilities--exposed USB ports, insecure smart card readers, operating systems that haven't been updated in 5 years--that aren't present in, say, ATMs made by the same companies. Sadly, the circles in the venn diagram marked "people with the power to fix this" and "people who want to fix this" do not overlap. Read the rest

This mossy plant may be 'more medically effective than cannabis'

Something interesting from the world of science: Liverwort contains a psychoactive substance ("perrottetinene" or "PET") that has similar molecular structures to THC. Researchers think might be superior to THC for dampening pain signals and reducing inflammation. It just doesn't produce the same kind of high.

ScienceDaily:

Until now, it was thought that cannabis was the only plant that produces THC. However, as early as 1994, Japanese phytochemist Yoshinori Asakawa had discovered a substance in the liverwort plant Radula perrottetii which was related to THC and had named this natural substance "perrottetinene." In this natural product, the individual atoms are linked together in a manner similar to that of THC, however they differ in their three-dimensional structure and further exhibit an additional benzyl group.

A few year ago, Jürg Gertsch from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bern discovered that liverworts were being advertised as so-called "legal highs" on the internet. At the time, nothing was known about the pharmacological effects of this substance. Together with chemists from Erick Carreira's team from the Department of Chemistry at the ETH Zürich, Gertsch's research team in Bern biochemically and pharmacologically compared THC and perrottetinene.

Using animal models, they were able to demonstrate that perrottetinene reaches the brain very easily and that, once there, it specifically activates cannabinoid receptors. It even demonstrates a stronger anti-inflammatory effect in the brain than THC, something which makes perrottetinene particularly interesting when you consider its potential medical application "It's astonishing that only two species of plants, separated by 300 million years of evolution, produce psychoactive cannabinoids," says Gertsch.

Read the rest

Trump may ban migrants entering U.S. from Mexico, in stunt to win GOP fear vote

U.S. President Donald Trump is considering issuing an executive order to close the U.S.-Mexico border, as the depleted and ragtag #MigrantCaravan of poor people seeking asylum ambles north from Central America. Read the rest

Former CIA Chief of Disguise shares how spies use disguises

Jonna Mendez is a real master of disguise. In this fascinating Wired video, the now-retired CIA Chief of Disguise talks about how and why spies are masked so their cover isn't blown.

"You want to be the person who gets on the elevator... and nobody even remembers that you were really there. That is a design goal at disguise labs at CIA."

Fascinating stuff! Read the rest

Perfectly rectangular iceberg

NASA photographed a rectangular iceberg puttering around off the coast of Antarctica.

Kelly Brunt, a glaciologist with Nasa and the University of Maryland, said the process of formation was a bit like a fingernail growing too long and cracking off at the end.

They were often geometrically-shaped as a result, she said.

"What makes this one a bit unusual is that it looks almost like a square," she added.

The point of the postmodern notion of hyperreality is not that reality is a simulation. It's that you can't tell if it is or it isn't, even when it's totally fucking with you.

Previously: Extremely mundane places in Minecraft Read the rest

A database of instructions for making different paper airplanes

Fold N Fly is a visual database of paper airplane designs, sortable by aerodynamic properties (distance, airtime, etc), and difficulty of folding. Some pretty exotic designs, too! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

The Saudis had a Khashoggi body double conspicuously leave the embassy after murder, but he wore the wrong shoes

One of the most remarkable things about the Saudis' torture and execution of dissident Jamal Khashoggi and their attempted cover-up is the end-to-end full-spectrum incompetence of every aspect of it. They had a body double on hand to be seen on security camera leaving the embassy in Khashoggi's clothes, but he forgot the shoes, thereby making any footage useless.

For weeks, the Saudi government had denied that it killed Khashoggi and said he walked out of the consulate after his Oct. 2 visit. The body double appeared to be an attempt to substantiate that denial, but the cover story fell apart, according to a diplomat familiar with the deliberations, because the video footage clearly reveals the body double’s flaws, mainly that he is wearing different shoes than Khashoggi wore when he entered the consulate.

Note the layers of ineptitude: they apparently held off releasing footage because of the clothing discrepancies, according to Turkish sources, but they would have been caught anyway had they got the shoes right, because the guy doesn't look much like Jamal Khashoggi.

A member of the 15-man team suspected in the death of Jamal Khashoggi dressed up in his clothes and was captured on surveillance cameras around Istanbul on the day the journalist was killed, a senior Turkish official has told CNN. CNN has obtained exclusive law enforcement surveillance footage, part of the Turkish government's investigation, that appears to show the man leaving the Saudi consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses.

Read the rest

In this video, the beeps make you see something that isn't there

In this video, Caltech demonstrates the Rabbit Illusion, a "time-traveling illusion trick." It tricked me.

Caltech researchers have developed these two new illusions that reveal how the senses can influence each other—in particular, how sound can give rise to visual illusions. These illusions occur so quickly that they illustrate a phenomenon called postdiction (as opposed to prediction) in which a stimulus that occurs later can retroactively affect our perceptions of an earlier event.

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This illusion supposedly tricks your brain into time travel

Science Alert claims this illusions mimics time travel in the brain. I think the illusion works, but I saw no dinosaurs. Read the rest

Teacher who said Trump aide Stephen Miller was a "strange dude" who ate glue is suspended

Trump aide Stephen Miller "was a strange dude" and a "loner" who ate glue as a child, according to his third grade teacher Nikki Fiske.

The 72-year-old teacher, who taught Miller in 1993, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and, among other things, had this to say about Miller:

"I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue — we didn't have glue sticks in those days — and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.

"I remember being concerned about him — not academically. He was OK with that, though I could never read his handwriting. But he had such strange personal habits. He was a loner and isolated and off by himself all the time."

Fiske, who teaches in Southern California, has been suspended for her remarks. "The district says it's concerned about the public release of student information," according to NBC News.

Image: DonkeyHotey/Flickr Read the rest

Apple investigated by CBC news for overpriced repair charges

Canada's CBC News went into Apple Stores with hidden cameras and discovered that the Geniuses there were especially smart when it came to ripping off customers who brought their equipment in for repair. In some cases the Geniuses told customers that they should buy a new computer, phone, or iPad rather than fix their broken one, even though the repair was a lot cheaper. In this video, we see an Apple Genius tell a reporter that a repair would $1100 and $100 in labor. The reporter took the computer to an independent repair technician, who removed the case and fixed the computer by straightening a bent pin. Read the rest

Man creates exact replica of Disney's Fantasyland in his basement

Meet Travis and take a tour of Larzland, his magical basement, which is an incredibly detailed recreation of Disneyland's Fantasyland – without the actual rides. He explains how he went to Disneyland by himself and took thousands of pictures so that he could get every little detail right, including cracks, chipped paint and all. Larzland looks like the happiest basement on earth!

To see some of his Larzland how-to videos, check out his YouTube channel here.

Read the rest

Get whiter teeth after just one of these charcoal treatments

Drop by just about any health store and you'll hear raves about charcoal's curious and newfound properties as a sponge for the body's toxins. Turns out its beauty benefits are just as miraculous. The NUOVAWHITE Charcoal Teeth Whitening System uses charcoal as the active ingredient for a treatment that will visibly make your pearlies pearlier after just one go.

NUOVAWHITE works with Blue LED Light technology and specially treated whitening charcoal to brighten your smile. And it doesn't just improve the looks: The treatments actually bolster and restore your existing tooth enamel in the process. It's the safest treatment around - FDA compliant, cruelty-free and even completely kosher.

If all this sounds good enough to double up, then grab the NUOVAWHITE Charcoal Teeth Whitening System: 2-Pack for $27.99 Read the rest

Interactive chart compares how many times Kavanaugh dodged questions compared to Ford

Vox created a color coded transcript of last week's Senate testimony of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman he is accused of sexually assaulting. Blue indicates a question was answered, red indicates a question was dodged. Ford's testimony has only blue highlights. Kavanaugh's has what appears to be dozens of red highlights.

Beyond the style of their testimonies, there was a striking difference in the content of their words. Both Ford and Kavanaugh fielded questions from senators and the prosecutor hired by Republicans, Rachel Mitchell.

But only Ford made an effort to answer every single question.

Kavanaugh actively dodged questions. He often repeated the same non-answer over and over. Other times, he insisted on answering a question with “context” — which inevitably was a long story about his childhood — but never actually answered the question.

Read the rest

Amazon to pay all workers at least $15 an hour

Amazon, including subsidiaries such as Whole Foods and temp work programs, will pay $15 an hour or more to all its U.S. workers.

This comes as Amazon is facing increasing scrutiny over how its workers are treated and paid. Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, recently introduced legislation to end what he calls “corporate welfare” — and it’s pretty clear who he had in mind, since the bill was titled Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS).

Now unionize. Read the rest

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