Is 2020 over yet?

Climate change, growing inequality, systemic racism, militarized police, rising fascism, Covid-19 pandemic, plagues of locusts. From is2020over.com, a list of 2020's bad news to date.

January More than 20% of Australia's forest is lost to forest fires.[>] World War III is barely averted after US aggression.[>] Africa is plagued by unprecedented locust swarms.[>] February The UK withdraws from the European Union.[>] The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are postponed due to COVID-19.[>] March COVID-19 is declared a global pandemic. Hundreds of thousands die. [>] Schengen borders are closed, halting European travel. Global public air traffic comes to a halt. April Mecca sits eerily empty, despite Ramadan. Pentagon releases UFO footage. White people riot to get haircuts. 1986 sent a "Miss Me?" as a wildfire in the radioactive forests around Chernobyl caused radiation to spike 20-fold. May Eurovision Song Contest is cancelled. Microsoft breaks Windows via update, again. Locusts now sweep India and Pakistan. The murder of George Floyd sparks protests & riots throughout the US. June A new Ebola outbreak was declared in Mbandaka, Congo, where no cases had been found since 2018. Read the rest

Boston Dynamics robot dog herds sheep

The BBC filmed a Boston Dynamics robot dog attemping to herd sheep in New Zealand.

A robot dog designed for search and rescue missions has had a go at herding sheep in New Zealand.

Technology company Rocos is exploring how the Spot robot - made by US-based Boston Dynamics - might be put to work in the agricultural industry.

The BBC's choice of music is uplifting and jolly in an unusually effortful way. I can't help but wonder if this is because footage of a robot dog stalking prey animals is fundamentally alarming.

By way of illustration (below), I swapped the music for the sinister Danny Elfman track used in the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy trailer and replaced the BBC's "isn't this wonderful?" text with some indistinct robot chatter. Read the rest

Ferdinando Buscema and Erik Davis on our pandemic house of cards

Boing Boing pals, magician Ferdinando Buscema and writer Erik Davis (High Weirdness), have created a really lovely and provocative little four-minute “visual meditation” based on the PK Dick essay, How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later

Ferdinando says he put the piece together "to alchemize the anxiety and distill something magical from unhappy times."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

What it's like to buy a $900 electric car from Alibaba

On Jalopnik my friend Jason Torchinsky is writing about his experience ordering a $900 electric car from China using Alibaba. It has been an incredibly long and complicated process, involving lots of red tape. Including extra charges and document filing fees the price of the car is now close to $3500. Nevertheless, it's a really cool looking a little electric car. Read the rest

Trump's personal valet just came down with Covid-19

CNN reported today that one of Trump's personal valets has come down with Covid-19. Valets are in close contact with the president, doing things like them serving food and drinks and traveling with them. Read the rest

Trump administration is drafting plans for corporate moon mining

Moonward Expansion has always been the inevitable future of the map-making Western world. And now that unsustainable extraction of natural resources is closer than ever to reality. As Reuters reports, the Trump administration has begun drafting the Artemis Accords (named after NASA's moon program and definitely not the kind of thing a comic book supervillain would come up with) to strategize internationals drilling and colonization efforts on our lunar neighbor:

The Trump administration and other spacefaring countries see the moon as a key strategic asset in outer space. The moon also has value for long-term scientific research that could enable future missions to Mars - activities that fall under a regime of international space law widely viewed as outdated.

The Artemis Accords, named after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s new Artemis moon programme, propose “safety zones” that would surround future moon bases to prevent damage or interference from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.

The pact also aims to provide a framework under international law for companies to own the resources they mine, the sources said.

Once again, the President Who Builds A Space Force And Has Sex With Porn Stars is fulfilling all my 12-year-old fantasies in all the absolute worst ways possible. Speaking of Space Force, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the creation of that new military department is directly linked to the Artemis Accords, to protect potential future corporate assets once all the oil is sucked out of the Middle East.

I suppose it's worth noting that Reuters' only source for this news is "people familiar with the proposed pact." Read the rest

The AmazonBasics Folding Bike Lock can be easily picked in three seconds

This is the AmazonBasics Folding Bike Lock. It's $28. Don't buy it.

"Because this can be opened so quickly with low-skill attacks, it should go without saying that I see this as a product to avoid," says the LockPickingLawyer. Read the rest

'Murder hornets' arrive in the U.S., beekeepers fear mass honeybee deaths

A species of giant hornets native to Asia, nicknamed “murder hornets,” with mandibles that look like spiky shark fins they use to bite the heads off honeybees. People who've been stung by these hornets say their venom and stingers feel like hot metal driving into skin. Read the rest

Studio Ghibli backgrounds you can use at your next online meeting

Studio Ghibli fans can now conduct their online meetings from Miyazaki land. Choose a still from a variety of films including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, Kiki's Delivery Service and more, and make it your background. (Images offered here for free.) Thanks Studio Ghibli!

Image: Studio Ghibli / Spirited Away Read the rest

Gentleman attempts to sleep and drive a forklift at the same time with disastrous results

This could've been prevented with a single modafinil tablet. Read the rest

Kayaker who spelled out HELP with sticks was rescued by NYPD helicopter

A kayaker was found early this morning after lighting a fire and spelling out the words HELP with sticks and twigs. An no, he wasn't on some speck of an island in the South Pacific, but rather, a remote island in Jamaica Bay, New York. NYPD Aviation rescued the man, in good condition, who had been missing for 12 hours. Here is their video.

Read the rest

Artist reimagines classic horror films as vintage Disney children's books

Swedish artist Daniel Björk is the mad mind behind these wonderfully evil visions of classic horror films reimagined as Disney's Wonderful World of Reading vintage children's books. My wish upon a star is that they were real! See more at Björk's Instagram.

Read the rest

Chill with Henry Rollins in The Cool Quarantine as he shares stories and his record collection

Punk rock bard, Henry Rollins, and KCRW have launched The Cool Quarantine, a new online radio program where Henry goes through his record collection and shares stories. The idea is to recreate that vibe of hanging out with friends, spinning some sides, and talking about music, shows, and whatever else pops to mind.

One of my favorite things about music is that often, there’s a good story about any one album or song. I specifically put tracks into this show so I could tell you the story before we play the song. A couple of examples from this show would include a live Cramps track from 1979 that was recorded by Ian MacKaye and also, the first cassette I ever copied. Another would be a live Led Zeppelin track from the time Ian and I saw them play.

We will be playing different songs from different bands of course but we’ll also be listening to entire albums, EPs, and singles. At four hours, this is lonnnnnnnnng-form programming!

Cool out here.

Image: ceedub13, CC 2.0 Read the rest

Bob Dylan just released a 17 minute song about JFK's assassination

Bob Dylan just released his first new song in eight years. It's a 17-minute murder ballad about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. From the lyrics to Murder Most Foul:

“It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63. The day that will live on in infamy. President Kennedy was a-riding high, good day to be living and good day to die.”

Read the rest

Virgin Komodo dragon had three babies

A female Komodo dragon named Charlie who lives at the Chattanooga Zoo had three hatchlings without ever having mated. Charlie's hatchlings were born last year but the zoo only recently determined via DNA testing that a male named Kadal who shared her habitat wasn't the father. Indeed, there was no father. Komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis, asexual reproduction that's very rare in vertebrates. From CNN:

Komodo dragons have evolved to reproduce both sexually and parthenogenetically because they mainly live isolated in the wild and become violent when approached, according to the zoo.

Parthenogenesis happens when another egg, rather than sperm, fertilizes an egg, according to Scientific American. The biological process of making an egg cell, called oogenesis, typically produces a polar body, which contains a duplicate copy of egg DNA.

"Normally, this polar body shrivels up and disappears. In the case of the Komodos, though, polar bodies evidently acted as sperm and turned ova into embryos," Scientific American said in 2006 when the first cases of parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons were reported.

image: Chattanooga Zoo press release Read the rest

Computer generated JFK gives the 'Darth Plagueis the wise' speech

After having a computer study the speech patterns of an American President famed for his public speaking one naturally has it recite Palpatine?

Alan Watts would be more fun. Read the rest

Look at this colossal math blunder on MSNBC

Maybe being on live TV and having to put on a good show short circuits part of your brain. That's the only way I can think of to explain why Brian Williams and his guest didn't stop to think for a second how ludicrous it was to accept a tweet at face value claiming that Michael Bloomberg spent over $1,000,000 per person living in the United States on his presidential bid.

As for the original tweeter? She has been informed of her mistake:

Read the rest

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