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Updated 2017-08-19 01:33
Hidden message in mass resignation letter from President Trump's Committee on Arts and Humanities
Look at the first letter of each paragraph in this letter of resignation from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, signed by 16 of the 17 members. (more…)
Bannon Out of White House as Trump's Chief Strategist
Steve Bannon is out of the White House, a year and one day after he became then candidate Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager. (more…)
Google researchers reveal automated process for removing watermarks from stock images
Businesses like Adobe Stock use large, visible watermarks to deter copyright infringement; a new paper presented by Google Researchers to the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition shows that these watermarks can be reliably detected and undetectably erased by software. (more…)
Artist turns words into the things they describe
Jonathan Harris uses written words as the starting point for drawings of the things the words represent.This guy should do tattoo cover ups
Trump's ghostwriter prediction: Trump is going to resign
Ghostwriter Tony Schwartz, who spent over a year with Trump and was the co-author of the memoir, Art of the Deal, has predicted that Trump will resign, maybe as early as by the end of summer. On Wednesday he tweeted: "The circle is closing at blinding speed. Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and congress leave him no choice."And then a couple of hours later: "Trump's presidency is effectively over. Would be amazed if he survives till end of the year. More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner."According to CNN:"I put lipstick on a pig," he told The New Yorker last year, adding that he feels "a deep sense of remorse" for "presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is." This is not the first time Schwartz has made predictions about Trump's presidency. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper in May, Schwartz also said he believed Trump will resign and then declare victory. "I surely believe that at some point over the next period of time, he's going to have to figure out a way to resign," Schwartz said. "The reason he's going to do that, as opposed to go through what could be an impeachment process or a continuing humiliation, is that he wants to figure out a way, as he has done all his career, to turn a loss into a victory. So he will declare victory when he leaves."Schwartz told Anderson Cooper yesterday on CNN that the "the level of his [Trump's] self-destructiveness is staggering." Watch the interview below.https://youtu.be/TA3NFlOhkx0Image: Steven Depolo
The science behind twitching eyelids
Scientist Steve Mould developed an eye twitch, and in this video, he explains how and why it happens. Some of the causes include fatigue, over-exercise, and too much caffeine.
Romney: Trump caused "the vast heart of America to mourn"
Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate and rich guy, called Trump a fraud, then asked him for a job, and is now outraged by his racism.Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis--who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat--and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flagGood stuff. Alas, he's still stuck on saying what "the president should" do. Hanging on the hope of a better Trump was always foolish. Now it's a kind of political fart that trumpets the Republican establishment's ongoing complicity. In any case, the majority of Republican voters are just fine with Trump's support of white supremacists, so this is really just another epitaph for Mittens.
Is progress inevitable?
In his book on the history of human progress, Our Kind, anthropologist Marvin Harris asked in the final chapter, “Will nature’s experiment with mind and culture end in nuclear war?”The book came out in 1989, in the final years of our Cold War nuclear paranoia, and his telling of how people developed from hunter gatherers all the way to McDonald’s franchise owners, he said, couldn’t honestly end with him gazing optimistically to the horizon because never had the fate of so many been under the control of so few.“What alarms me most,” he wrote, “is the acquiescence of ordinary citizens and their elected officials to the idea that our kind has to learn to deal with the threat of mutual annihilation because it is the best way of reducing the danger that one nuclear power will attack another.”In the final paragraph, Harris wrote that “we must recognize the degree to which we are not yet in control” of our own society. Progress was mostly chance and luck with human agency steering us away from the rocks when it could, but unless we gained some measure of control of where we were going as a species, he said, we’d be rolled over by our worst tendencies, magnified within institutions too complex for any one person to predict or direct.Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud—This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron who sets the highest quality standards for their community of artisanal suppliers, family-run farms, fisheries and ranchers. For less than $10 per meal, Blue Apron delivers the best ingredients along with easy-to-read, full-color recipes with photos and additional information about where your food came from. Check out this week’s menu and get your first three meals free with free shipping by going to www.blueapron.com/YANSSSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details. I know where this feeling came from because I grew up terrified of nuclear war. It seemed like every week there was a TV special assuring me I didn’t have much to look forward to, like The Day After, Countdown to Looking Glass, Testament, and Special Bulletin, and HBO movies like By Dawn’s Early Light as well as a handful of the rebooted The Twilight Zone episodes and remnants of the 1970s like Damnation Alley floating among the cable apocalyptic schlock – all devoted, it seemed, to scaring the shit out of us by revealing what horrors awaited if they ever pressed the button.It was always with us, that fear, that uncertainty, that feeling that progress had brought us the Nintendo Entertainment System but also our doom, and then all at once Star Trek the Next Generation premiered, the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union collapsed. The Cold War ended, and the cast of Seinfeld appeared, worried about raisins and parking spaces and the smell of wet sand but not nuclear bombs or fallout zones. Soon we’d have the internet, and for a time, it was good.I became enamored with science and progress, looking back through time and seeing nothing but so much ignorance and injustice and lack of freedom, things that are today unthinkable were then commonplace. And I got this sense that social change was a force of nature itself, that progress, however you define it, was inevitable, and that we were in control of that progress. We chose to go to the moon, and we would choose to go to the stars as well.If you lean liberal on social issues, there was a palpable sense in the last decade, at least for me, that human social progress was definitely now on the Star Trek timeline, not the Mad Max one. Despite our folly with social media public shaming and weaponized outrage-flavored clickbait, we were sorting things out. Same-sex marriage was legal in Mississippi. Our technology wasn’t just making drones and bipedal robots and self-driving cars, but was exposing every kind of privilege, accelerating social change as much as it had technological change. Hashtags and body cameras, smart phones and protests, each was now, with the power of our modern communication tools, exposing where the work needed to be done, where injustice flourished. I had a sense that with this new pace of change we were hurtling toward a cure for baldness that no one would use because, as Gene Roddenberry famously said, “no one would care,” and then came Brexit and Trump.I’m not saying we are back onto the Mad Max timeline. I’ll never believe that, just that we aren’t in as much control as I had assumed and that most social change is farther away than I imagined. Nuclear bombs are now back in play, and the people in charge of them seem as inept and hawkish as ever. Marvin Harris was right. The moment we believe the struggle is over and that we are fully choosing our destiny is usually the moment before we realize it isn’t and we aren’t. Personally, I believe we will continue to bend the arc of the moral universe, but now I am more aware than ever of how difficult that will be.This episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast is about progress, how we invented it as an idea and then went about pursuing it on-purpose. Our guest is University of Chicago historian Ada Palmer. I wanted to talk to Ada because she wrote this brilliant, fun, illuminating essay earlier this year titled On Progress and Historical Change which felt like had been written specifically to address my exact confusion.Historians, she writes, are careful to avoid a teleological frame of mind they sometimes call “Whig history,” in which we look back at our ignorant pasts and compare it to our amazing present and then assume there is an ultimate goal to all of this activity, an end-state of perfection, a strange attractor pulling us toward the ultimate purpose of all human effort. The truth is that it is a lot more complicated than that.In the essay, she reveals the problems with thinking in this way and asks, “Is progress inevitable? Is it natural? Is it fragile? Is it possible? Is it a problematic concept in the first place?”In the episode, you’ll hear her address all these questions and more, and I promise it will leave you feeling optimistic, but also a bit more realistic.Links and SourcesDownload – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – SoundcloudPrevious EpisodesCookie RecipesAda Palmer’s EssayAda Palmer’s WebsiteAda Palmer’s Twitter
Map of local embroidery techniques in Pakistan
As posted to twitter by Saima Mir, and likely sourced from Generation; but who's the artist?
The "crying white supremacist" was a parking meter officer harasser (Colbert Report 2014)
Before Chris Cantwell became infamous as the angry white supremacist in Vice's Charlottesville: Race and Terror and soon after as the weeping, frightened white supremacist in a viral video, he was an armed harasser of parking meter officers. In fact, in 2014 The Colbert Report profiled Cantwell and two other equally nutty members of his group. They harassed an Iraq veteran who was a meter officer so much that he quit his job. "Very fine" people indeed. Here's the video:From Heavy:The 36-year-old Cantwell, who runs a podcast called Radical Agenda, is heard sharing his anti-Semitic and racist views in the Vice film, even telling reporter Elle Reve that he doesn’t think President Donald Trump is racist enough because he allowed his daughter Ivanka Trump to marry the Jewish Jared Kushner. “I don’t think that you can feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with the beautiful girl,” Cantwell said.
Why tech predictors are so terrible at the job
Enjoy Michael Mullany's review of the Gartner Hype Cycle, with all the things tech predictors got right and all the things they got wrong: "we're terrible at making predictions."Lesson 6: Some technologies keep receding into the futureThere are some notable technologies that recur on the Hype Cycle and every time they appear they seem equally scifi. Although at some point, I'm sure they will not. The most notable are:Quantum Computing: as early as 2000, quantum computing was considered more than a decade away (and likely still is).Brain/Computer Interfaces: (also aliased under Human Augmentation) despite notable progress on neural control of prosthetics, thought controlled computing is still a work in progress with general availability lurking at least a decade away.When I was covering the tech beat, I'd often get annoyed because we'd use these guys as expert sources, but it was plainly obvious that many of them are just retired journos who had gone into investment consulting, with a little insight into the supply chain and none at all into the science.Though he's not one of those types, my favorite was Gene Munster, who seemed to spend at least a decade regularly predicting the imminent arrival of an Apple TV set. He appears to have quit this year, which doubtless means they will announce one soon.
Driving before, during, and after rush hour: city maps of how far you'd get
Location platform Here Technologies calculated how far one hour of driving can take drivers out of major American cities starting on Friday at 4, 7, and 10 pm. (more…)
Listen: Voice recordings of actual black slaves once indentured in the South
This video of the January 12, 1999 broadcast of Nightline is really quite remarkable. It shares clips of voice recordings made in the mid-twentieth century of black people born into U.S. slavery. That's right, it features the voices of real (former) slaves. To get these interviews, folklorists traveled the South in the 1930s and 1940s carrying around 200 lb. "portable" 78 RPM disc recorders.The technology to clean up and digitize the scratchy memory-filled discs only became available in the 1990s. Now the vivid real-life stories of these men and women who lived as slaves are available online through the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center. They truly give a sobering look at life in the United States before abolition:The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond.All known recordings of former slaves in the American Folklife Center are included in this presentation. Some are being made publicly available for the first time and several others already available now include complete transcriptions.One of the interviews highlighted in the Nightline broadcast is with an elderly Baltimore gentleman by the name of Fountain Hughes. The former slave shares, quite plainly, that his grandfather was owned by Thomas Jefferson. He also recollects many details about his own life as a slave. He also shares this:If I thought, had any idea, that I'd ever be a slave again, I'd take a gun and just end it all right away. Because you're nothing but a dog. You're not a thing but a dog.Listen to the full interview (or read the transcript), recorded on June 11, 1949, with Mr. Hughes (and others) at the Library of Congress.A side note: While I was researching this post, I learned that the last ex-slave, Sylvester Magee, passed away in 1971. 1971!(reddit)
Bonnie Tyler is going to sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' during Monday's eclipse
Singer Bonnie Tyler will perform her 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on Royal Caribbean's Total Eclipse Cruise, a cruise ship that will be in the path of the total solar eclipse come Monday. Tyler will take time off her world tour to belt out the power ballad -- just as the moon crosses the sun -- on the ship, Oasis of the Seas. Tyler told TIME, ""The eclipse of the sun lasts 2 minutes and 40 minutes, I’m told. Unlike my song. It had to be chopped about, because it was so long."https://youtu.be/lcOxhH8N3BoBonnie Tyler Will Sing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ During the Actual Eclipse [TIME]
Watch a Fox News presenter cry because her co-hosts won't agree there are good nazis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7iOQKnVsI8As taped by Erick Fernandez: "There is nothing any of us can say right now without being judged."
Dig into hard ice cream with this pointy tip scoop
The old ice cream scoop we had wasn't really an ice cream scoop. It was a disher, and was more suited for scooping mashed potatoes than ice cream. When the trigger mechanism on it finally broke, I happily got rid of it and replaced it with the OXO Good Grips Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($15). This surprisingly heavy scoop is made from a solid chunk of stainless steel with a comfortable rubber grip, and comes with a pointed end that digs right into hard ice cream, especially if you run hot water over it. It's supposedly dishwasher safe but why put it in the dishwasher? Just rinse it and dry it with a towel.
What would a new US civil war be like?
In March, Foreign Policy asked a number of national security experts to estimate the likelihood of a second US civil war in the next 10-15 years. The average estimate was 35%. This was before Charlottesville. Robin Wright of The New Yorker spoke to, Keith Mines, one of the national-security experts that Foreign Policy polled to find out what a new civil war could look like.Today, few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales. Mines’s definition of a civil war is large-scale violence that includes a rejection of traditional political authority and requires the National Guard to deal with it. On Saturday, McAuliffe put the National Guard on alert and declared a state of emergency.Based on his experience in civil wars on three continents, Mines cited five conditions that support his prediction: entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution; increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows; weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary; a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.Image: Roosac/Flickr
Company's dystopian promotional video for drone armed with machine gun
What a time to be alive.Duke Robotics brings a fully robotic weaponry system to an airborne platform. TIKAD, which is a proprietary development of Duke, uses the delivery of a unique suppression firing and stabilization solution. TIKAD allows governments to utilize completely new capabilities against terrorist groups and reduce the number of deployed ground troops, and therefore, the number of casualties.(via Daily Grail)
Fox and other conservative sites hastily nuke posts urging vehicular murder of left-wing protesters
Last January, the alt-right website Daily Caller ran a post called "Here's A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road," in which drivers endangered the lives of protesters while Ludacris's "Move Bitch" played in the background: the post was syndicated to a Fox websites and many other outposts of the right-wing media. (more…)
Racist soap dispenser
Chukwuemeka Afigbo‏ of Lagos demonstrates a public toilet soap dispenser that only serves light-skinned people. If you have ever had a problem grasping the importance of diversity in tech and its impact on society, watch this video pic.twitter.com/ZJ1Je1C4NW— Chukwuemeka Afigbo (@nke_ise) August 16, 2017
Pantone announces new color honoring Prince
The Pantone Color Institute announced "Love Symbol #2," a shade of purple honoring Prince. A collaboration with Prince's estate, the hue, actually labeled with Prince's logo, is now the official color of his brand. From CNN:Pantone has long been the authority on color trends and design. Since 2000, the corporation has released a "Color of the Year" that influences design and marketing. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a statement that it was an honor to help develop Prince's hue."A musical icon known for his artistic brilliance, Love Symbol #2 is emblematic of Prince's distinctive style," she said. "Long associated with the purple family, Love Symbol #2 enables Prince's unique purple shade to be consistently replicated and maintain the same iconic status as the man himself."I only wanted to see you bathing in the Love Symbol #2 rain.(Pantone)
Canadian woman banned from US for life after border agent searches phone, finds email to doctor about drug use
A 28-year-old woman from British Columbia was banned for life from entering the United States after a US Customs and Border Protection agent searched her phone for two hours and found an email she'd written to her doctor about an accidental drug overdose. Chelsea had gone to a strip club in 2016 for a friend's birthday and one of the women in the party offered her some "cocaine" that turned out to be fentanyl. Her friend died and she was taken to the emergency room and saved after being injected with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.When border officials learned about the incident by taking Chelsea's phone and reading her email to her doctor, they informed her that she was being issued a lifetime ban from entering the US.From Vice:Canadians have also reported being banned from the US for admitting to smoking weed before. Since Trump has taken office, he's promised to crack down on border security, including the controversial "Muslim ban."Waivers that temporarily allow entrance to the US like the one Chelsea is currently trying to obtain only last one to five years, so she'll need to get a new one every so often if she plans to keep visiting the States. Waivers cost $585 to apply for and take about six months to be issued.Chelsea wants to warn others about how deeply they'll search smartphones at the US border. Even in the context of North America's current opioid crisis, which is killing thousands annually in the US and Canada, no extra compassion was given to someone who accidentally ingested fentanyl and nearly died from it. Instead, her story was used as potential evidence against her."I understand why they banned me… But it sucks that they used my warning story about doing drugs against me," Chelsea said. "How ironic."Hospital image in collage: Presidencia de la República Mexicana/Wikipedia
Dogs in Navi Mumbai are turning blue
A number of very unusual-looking blue dogs have been spotted in Navi Mumbai, India. Sadly, the cause is industrial waste in the Kasadi river where stray dogs often wade. From the Hindustan Times:A water quality test at Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation found the waste treatment was inadequate. The levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) — the concentration of oxygen required to sustain aquatic life — was 80 milligram a litre (mg/L). Levels of chloride, which is toxic, harms vegetation, aquatic life and wildlife, were also high....“It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan, resident of Navi Mumbai, who runs the (Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell). “We have spotted almost five such dogs here and have asked the pollution control board to act against such industries.”MPCB officials said they had taken cognisance of the complaint. “Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” said Anil Mohekar, regional officer, MPCB, Navi Mumbai. “We have directed our sub-regional officer to investigate,” he added.Animal rights activists have, however, wondered whether the move comes too late. “We have only spotted blue dogs so far. We do not know if birds, reptiles and other creatures are affected or if they have even died owing to the dye discharged into the air,” said Chauhan.
This is, er, golf cart body-surfing beer-drinking
I bet their parents are very proud. Occurred on August 9, 2017 / Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, CanadaA few buddies and I were golfing at one of the local courses, the group ahead of us were moving very slow so while we were waiting on them I came up with the idea. We took a few practice laps down the fairway then got out the beers and camera and made this masterpiece.
5 things to consider when choosing a VPN
Whether you’re someone who often works remotely from cafes, airports, or hotel lobbies, or are just concerned with the alarming frequency and specificity of targeted ads in your timeline, you should consider investing in a VPN. But with the myriad of commercial options available, it can be tough to find one with the right balance of features, scale, and price. Here’s what you should expect from a quality VPN, and how much you should be willing to shell out for a subscription:1. Actual privacy protectionWhen subscribing to a VPN service, you’re paying for privacy, not a neat way to consolidate your browsing data for advertisers. Sadly, the increased interest in online privacy has given rise to scores of phony mobile VPNs — many of which would love to take over the exclusive rights to your browser traffic from your ISP. If your chosen provider doesn’t mention a no-log guarantee, there’s a good chance they have a side hustle of selling your search history to advertisers or law enforcement.Additionally, a VPN should ensure that the tunnel they are providing is actually secure. This means offering strong encryption over a variety of data transfer protocols like PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec to maintain compatibility with the most platforms. Just because your bleeding-edge desktop OS supports a certain secure communication method doesn’t mean your 2-year-old smartphone will.2. Ease of useThere’s no silver bullet for internet security. It’s all about making the right compromise between convenience and strength, and having the world’s most impenetrable data shield doesn’t matter if it’s a pain to use every day. To make sure you’ll actually want to use it, your VPN should be available at the push of a button, preferably with minimal setup. Since you likely spend half of your browsing time on a mobile device, you’ll want something that just works in the background without needing to be monitored.Speaking of mobile, you’ll also want to make sure you get one that actually has an app for the rectangle that lives in your pocket, as well as every other internet-enabled widget you own. And those people that have a device on-hand for everything from bedtime Netflix to online games will definitely want a VPN that allows multiple simultaneous connections.3. A wide reachIt’s possible to have a VPN that only lives on a single server, but that’s usually for home sysadmins who want granular control over how their fleet of machines connect to the internet. To get decent speeds over your secured line while making sure your online activity isn’t completely transparent, you should choose a VPN that has enough nodes to offer a painless browsing experience in more than one location.While the number of servers isn’t as important as how spread out they are, it can be a fairly decent indicator of your VPN’s global sphere of influence. If you are traveling to a country that falls outside of your provider’s range, your VPN connection will be too slow to be useable for even the lightest browsing.4. Control over your virtual locationNot only does a VPN mask your physical whereabouts, as revealed by your device’s IP address, certain providers offer the capability to completely spoof your location to make services think you’re somewhere you aren’t. This is critically important when traveling in a country that has a track record of internet censorship. Even if you don’t care about declaring your support for the freedom of information, getting around state-controlled roadblocks can be necessary to access work resources internationally. Aside from circumventing censors, faking your IP address can give you instant access to region-locked media, so you can watch all the British television you could ever dream of from the comfort of your home.5. A not-outrageous priceWhen it comes to software services, you often get what you pay for. But that doesn’t mean you should pay out the nose for basic online privacy. Free VPNs should be avoided like the plague because there’s no clear incentive for them to guarantee the safety of your personal information. If they are already freely offering a dedicated route for your traffic, there’s nothing stopping them from profiting of your data in any way they see fit. As a rule of thumb, your VPN should never be more expensive than your monthly internet bill.For a VPN that checks all of these boxes without charging an arm and a leg, take a look at Private Internet Access. They offer robust security and anonymous browsing without collecting any user data. You get 5 simultaneous connections, so you can always have it running on your phone, desktop, game console, wireless router, or smart TV. They have over 3200 gateways in 25 different countries to keep latency low no matter where you are. A two-year subscription usually goes for an already-reasonable price of $166, but it’s available for $59.95 from the Boing Boing store.
Last days to catch the Summer Breaks art show in LA
Open until August 18, 2017 at the Joshua Liner Gallery in NYC is Summer Breaks, a group show exploring conventions in Western Art History. The seventeen artists, including David Henry Nobody Jr., Wayne White, and John Gordon Gauld, are limited to working within three of Western Art’s staples - portraiture, landscape, and still-life.Despite being confined to these historical genres, the artists produce works that are seemingly void of convention. There is a thorough review on Juxtapoz that notes: While we know history repeats itself, painting will continue to shift and change and build upon the traditional motifs of the past. Summer Breaks is a vessel for this transition and through multiple perspectives comes an exhibition that nods to the past while simultaneously showcasing some of the best and brightest of the future.Images from Joshua Liner GalleryTop image: Aaron Johnson, Swampy. Acrylic on paper. 2017. 14 x 11 inches
No touchy plz
Do not touch, hooman. (more…)
What to do with Confederate statues?
Could Russia teach us something about how to deal with difficult aspects of our national history?Many places in the South – from New Orleans to Louisville – are in the process of bringing down statues that glorify the Confederacy. That process raises questions about what to do with these remnants of the past. Do we just toss them into the ash bin of history, purging them as if they never existed? As a student of southern politics who recently traveled to Moscow, I wondered if we can look to the Russians and how they have treated their Soviet past. The situations are not perfectly analogous. Many Russian people lived through the Soviet experience. Not so for the Confederacy. That said, in both cases, there is the question of whether – and how – to purge the past.From propaganda to kitschIn Moscow, and in the former Soviet Union in general, there is Soviet detritus all over the place. Hammers and sickles are chiseled into buildings, bridges and other infrastructure. Sculptures of happy, heroic soldiers, workers and farmers sit on the platforms in the Moscow metro. Seven massive “Stalin buildings” dot the city. The Russians have done more than just tolerate these leftovers. All the propaganda that the Soviets used to produce and disseminate – and there was a lot of it – is now kitsch. Kiosks sell Soviet T-shirts next to matryoshka dolls and amber jewelry as genuine Russian souvenirs. As one Russian gentleman said to me, “It’s our past and we embrace it. We lived it. We can’t just wish it away.”It would not be very practical to knock down the buildings Stalin helped to build or hammer out all those hammers and sickles.Statues, however, have no practical purpose and can be taken care of rather easily. Moscow has removed many of them from public space. It was one of the first impulses the Russian people had after the fall of the Soviet Union.What is instructive is what the Muscovites have done with their statues, collecting them in a sculpture garden and giving them historical context. A grove of Lenin statuesThe statues and monuments now reside together in a section of MUSEON Arts Park, a lovely green space next to Gorky Park. MUSEON is also known as the Fallen Monument Park, though “felled monuments” would be the more appropriate name. The park contains more than just felled Soviets. There are hundreds of other pieces sprinkled through the park. But walking through the grove of Lenin statues, sitting in the shade of a monumental Soviet coat of arms, or posing next to a large bust of Leonid Brezhnev or Mikhail Kalinin is the thrill for people like me.Each statue or set of statues is accompanied by a panel that informs the viewer about the work, its composition and the history of its display. Notably, there is little about the leader being portrayed in the text. Each description ends with, “By the decree of the Moscow City Council of People Representatives of Oct. 24, 1991, the monument was dismantled and placed in the MUSEON Arts Park exposition. The work is historically and culturally significant, being the memorial construction of the soviet era, on the themes of politics and ideology.” The point, of course, is that the Moscow city council is careful to state that the display is not intended to glorify the past, but to document it. What is even more powerful is how the statues are displayed. In some ways, the arrangements are reminiscent of a cemetery. White, granite “tombstones” line a path, an appropriate metaphor for the Soviet regime.It is the large statue of Josef Stalin, however, that is most striking. Stalin has lost his nose and is in sad shape. Behind him is a monument to the “Victims to the Totalitarian Regime.” The monument is a wall comprising stone heads cocked at different angles. The heads are held in place by a grid of bars and barbed wire that evoke a prison camp. Hundreds of these victims stare at Stalin. Indeed, because of their placement, one cannot look at him without looking at them. Sakharov. CC BY-SA Moreover, in front of Stalin is a contemporary statue of Russian physicist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, one of the most notable dissidents of the Soviet era. The statue of Sakharov is seated, arms behind his back, legs and feet locked together, and head upturned to the sky. Is he staring at the stars, not an unreasonable thing for a scientist or a disarmament activist to do, or can he just not bear to look at Stalin directly in front of him? And what about those arms stretched behind his back, one of them twisted and unnatural, fist in a ball? Is Sakharov being detained, or tortured? That interpretation is suggested by the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the KGB, who faces Sakharov about 50 yards away. It is quite delicious to see a dog passing by and marking “Iron Felix.” Perhaps Sakharov is just having a good laugh. Why do these scenes, these dead Soviet statues, work so well? I would assert that by locating them together, they can be put into “historical and cultural” context, as the markers suggest. Moreover, through strategic curation, these statues have been put into dialogue with each other and with the contemporary sculptures around them and been given new meaning. The statues in their old lives were meant to honor and glorify the Soviet leaders and their regime. In their new life, they have been turned into art. As pieces of art, their meaning can be changed or supplemented by how the viewer interprets them. This suggests there would be real value to bringing felled Confederate statues together in one place. Putting them into historical context, they can give commentary on the Confederacy, the Civil War, slavery, Jim Crow, massive resistance and even present-day politics. And locating these statues with other monuments offers all kinds of opportunity to tell the whole story of the South.James Glaser, Professor, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, Tufts UniversityThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.Top Image: James Glaser
Eugene Burger, the Magician Philosopher
The whole magic community mourns the passing of Eugene Burger, at age 78. One of the most influential magicians of the 20 century, as well as an exceptional human being, he will be sorely missed by a vast network of loving friends, students and fans all the world over.The impact of Eugene's contribution to the art of magic is preeminent. His massive body of work shifted the consciousness of magicians, opening doors to new exciting realms of theatrical and artistic expressions of magic.Eugene’s life was a perfect blend of the active and contemplative: a master performer, he worked in the most prestigious international venues, receiving the highest accolades from the industry and his peers. His magic was strong, infused with wit and humor, a warm and infectious laugh, and gentle kindness. Just being in his presence produced joy and pure delight. Along with his performing career, he was an esteemed philosopher with a divinity college background at Yale University. A gifted writer, a sharp thinker, an enchanting storyteller, an encouraging and generous teacher who left a deep mark in countless students' lives.The Magician PhilosopherSome of Eugene's most important musings revolved around magic's relevance as an art form, and the role of the magician in present times.Why is it, that society seems to need magicians to enlighten them? Why didn't Steven Spielberg wipe the magician off the face of the planet? Because what he can do on a screen is far more fabulous than what I can do at a table. But it didn't happen. Maybe there is something in us, as human beings, maybe the human heart cries out for magic. Eugene was convinced that magic could still be relevant for a modern, disenchanted, hyper-rational audience. Reframed in intelligent ways, magic could become a tool capable of offering memorable and, in some cases, even transformative experiences. Having a profound interest for the power of symbols and stories as transforming agents in human life, Eugene suggested that:In the deepest sense (...) an experience of magic involves a mental linkage between the magic trick that is being performed and other emotional concepts, experiences, dreams, hopes, ambitions, fears, nightmares, and more. Perhaps the linkage is to archetypes and magical symbols present in the Unconscious, as Jung suggested - these powerful mental images, found especially in our dreams, that are our links to the magical universe of enchantment, symbol and myth. Building on that, "Conjuring at its best functions symbolically to awaken us to another realm of experience: the magical dimension that points us toward the Mystery that lies behind and beyond all experience." That's what Eugene sought to celebrate: the notion that life itself has inherent magical qualities, filled with surprise, wonder and astonishment for those whose hearts and minds are open to receive them.The Magic and Mystery School Legacy In his last years Eugene led a kind of movement to reinvigorate symbolic consciousness into the magic community. Together with Abigail Spinner, Jeff McBride and Larry Hass, he was a driving force behind the Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas, presently the most important school for serious students of magic. Designed as a safe space where magicians can reflect on important questions about the art of magic and their involvement with it, the School has no interest in advocating a particular philosophy. Students are invited to make decisions based on their own experiences and values, thereby taking their own magic in a more individual direction.Interviewed by Erik Davis and Maja D'Aoust, Eugene articulated some thoughts on his personal approach to magic:"I think there are a lot of ways to skinning the cat, as it were... I'm not going to presume that my way is the best way, it's just the way I happen to be in at the moment. I'm not going to say this is the only way to approach magic. If you just approach magic as entertainment, fun, isn't-this-silly-and-goofy, that's a valid response — and for some people that's all they get out of it, or it's that only what they are able to bring to it (...) For myself, I believe that all human behavior is representational and so magic is representational too, and points beyond itself to meanings." I don't feel I'm just part of the entertainment business. I think there's something deeper going on here. That magic is a deep and profound and wonderful art. Into the Big Mystery Eugene embraced the terminal phase of his life with his usual grace, clarity, humor, peace of mind. He was unfettered and ready to meet with the ultimate capital M Mystery of life: “For the end is something that we must all confront. . .when we accept the end, we find that it signals the birth of a new beginning.” It seems appropriate to quote one of Eugene's favorite death-and-resurrection myths (that he often used as the closing of his show): At the end of time, the God Shiva appears and dances the Tandava dance, a weird and terrible dance of fire, in which the entire material universe is destroyed. And the universe is no more. There is only silence, vast cosmic sleep. And out of this cosmic sleep, the God Brahma wakens himself, looks around and seeing nothing, nothing lovely or beautiful, he decides to create the universe once more. And creating it, he retires, pleased with his eternal play.And so, until the day Brahma reawakens and recreates the universe anew, Eugene will sleep the cosmic sleep. But his Spirit will live in the hearts of those who loved him, and in the performances of the magicians he inspired — gleefully pleased with his eternal play. NotesMichael Caplan, A Magical Vision (Montrose Pictures, 2009)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1302191/Eugene Burger, The Experience of Magic (Kaufman and Greenberg, 1989), p. 16https://www.amazon.com/Experience-Magic-Eugene-Burger/dp/B002YW4012Eugene Burger and Robert Neale, Magic & Meaning (Hermetic Press, 1995), p. 24https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Meaning-Eugene-Burger/dp/0945296142Expanding Mind, with Erik Davis and Maja D'Aoust (min. 9:20)http://expandingmind.podbean.com/e/062410-magic-and-meaningMichael Caplan, A Magical Vision (Montrose Pictures, 2009)http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1302191/Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride, Mystery School (The Miracle Factory, 2003), p. 20https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-School-Eugene-Burger-McBride/dp/0971040540Image: Michael Caplan / Montrose Pictures
Trump: 'Alt-left' attacked in Charlottesville, 'both sides' to blame for deadly violence
President Donald Trump, whose father was reported to have marched “berobed“ with the Ku Klux Klan in 1927, once again today bizarrely blamed “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville this past weekend. Alt-right, Nazi, and white supremacist terrorists met to protest the removal of a Confederate statue, and a woman was murdered. (more…)
Billboards target neutracidal congresscreeps
Josh writes, "This morning Fight for the Future launched crowdfunded billboards targeting members of Congress who have publicly supported FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to gut net neutrality." (more…)
Watch: Stunning rare white moose caught on video
A white moose is rare, with only about 100 of them in Sweden. But Hans Nilsson, who has been tracking them for three years, according to Inhabitat, caught this moose on video on August 11 in Varmland, Sweden. The moose is not an albino, but its white fur is a genetic mutation. Or magical, to be more exact.
Watch this car narrowly ecsape from car jackers in South Africa
A car pulls into a driveway. A woman steps out of the front passenger side car to greet her dog. Seconds later, another car drives up behind her and a masked man with a gun jumps out and runs towards her. In the nick of time, she gets back in the car and the car backs up very quickly, away from the car jackers. The dog was uninjured.
Great deal on a 12-pack of Sharpies: $5.39
Sharpie pens are a treat to use. I love the design of the pen itself, not to mention the boldness of the ink. I use them for card magic because nothing else works as well for "signed card" tricks. Right now, Amazon is selling a dozen for $5.39, so I ordered a box.
Russian inequality is worse than imagined; worse than other post-Soviet states
The World Wealth and Inequality project's latest white-paper, co-authored by Thomas "Capital in the 21st Century" Piketty, painstaking pieces together fragmentary data-sources to build up a detailed picture of wealth inequality in Russia in the pre-revolutionary period; during phases of the Soviet era; on the eve of the collapse of the USSR; and ever since. (more…)
CEOs quit Trump: The 1% can't win elections unless the 99% turkeys vote for Christmas
Yesterday, Merck CEO Ken Frazier quit Trump's advisory council and today the CEOs of Intel and Under Armor joined him, which raises the question: why were these guys on the advisory council for an avowed white supremacist who campaigned on a platform of racial discrimination against Mexicans and Muslims? (more…)
The True, Top-Secret Story Behind Trump's North Korea Crisis
FOLLOW @RubenBolling on the Twitters and a Face Book.JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug's subscription club, the Proud & Mighty INNER HIVE, for exclusive, early access to comics, extra comics, and other top-secret stuff. GET Ruben Bolling’s new bestselling book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. (”Filled with wild twists and funny dialogue” -Publishers Weekly) Book One here. Book Two here. More Tom the Dancing Bug comics on Boing Boing! (more…)
A brief history of hand drills
Hand powered drilling tools and machines is a fascinating jaunt through the history of drills, from the dawn of man until the age of electricity. Oddly, it omits Push Drills, which are by far the best type of hand drill for small (less than 1/4") projects in wood and other soft material. Check it out:https://youtu.be/up32TJt-w4w?t=1m28sIf you're just here looking to build houses off the grid or in the zombie apocalypse or after a Trump tweet triggers global nuclear catastrophe, get a decent metal geared drill; the cheap ones are glorified egg whisks.
Amazing floating cube illusion
Jonathan Harris shows you how to draw (and cut) your way to this floating cube illusion. His YouTube channel has many more drawing illusions like it.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAq2X-0FbGMPreviously in floating cube illusions: cool floating cube illusion.
A new edition of Daniel Pinkwater's hapy mutant kids' classic, "Lizard Music"
Back in 2011, The New York Review of Books inducted Daniel Pinkwater's classic Lizard Music into its canon with a handsome little hardcover edition; today they follow that up with a stylish, jazzy paperback, priced to move at $10. (more…)
Sassy Trump: "On Many Sides"
All words are Trump's own. (more…)
Self-described "shaman" dressed as bigfoot mistaken for bigfoot, or not
Self-described "shaman" Gawain MacGregor says that he was the creature that bigfoot investigators claim to have encountered last week in North Carolina's Pisgah National Park. MacGregor, 36, who believes in "the divine nature of sasquatch" was dressed in animal skins as part of a ritual involving his wandering around the woods reciting a "sasquatch prayer.""It feels like it brings me closer to nature," MacGregor told the BBC News.But Bigfoot 911's John Bruner insists that it wasn't MacGregor, or any human, that his team spotted:
Maker Update #46: Make an Rapa Nui 3D printed bobblehead
Paige Russell used the free, easy-to-use 3D modeling program Tinkercad to make a 3D printed bobblehead based on a Rapa Nui moai. That's just one of the tools and projects that Donald Bell presented this week in Maker Update. Show notes here.
It's not hard to think of ways to outsmart Stingray-detector apps
A group of researchers from Oxford and TU Berlin will present their paper, White-Stingray: Evaluating IMSI Catchers Detection Applications at the Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies, demonstrating countermeasures that Stingray vendors could use to beat Stingrays and other "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers). (more…)
GoDaddy kicks white supremacist site in the URLs
After white supremacist site The Daily Stormer published a nasty article about the woman killed by a Nazi in Charlottesville, domain registrar GoDaddy finally decided to boot them from its service. (more…)
Conservative artist says Facebook took down his page to punish him for mocking Zuckerberg, but maybe it was that thing about black apes
The Hollywood Reporter's Paul Bond reports that a controversial street artist's Facebook page was taken down as "Hate Speech" after posting rude pictures mocking Mark Zuckerberg's apparent presidential ambitions. The work of a conservative street artist known for skewering the liberal politics of celebrities and corporations has been deemed "hate speech" by Facebook, which shut his page down on Sunday.The notice comes just days after the artist known as Sabo attacked Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg with posters disparaging his alleged presidential aspirations. "F*ck Zuck 2020" read the posters, the symbol after the "F" being a middle finger. They were hung in the dead of night last week in various California cities.However, there were also 'faux ads, made to look like a genuine movie poster for War for the Planet of the Apes, feature the image of a well-armed ape on horseback with the text: "BLM: Kill Whitey."'Sabo's page is full of garbage, from amusing photoshops of politicans to edgy N-word race war chum and inexplicable Ted Cruz fan posters. Facebook's refusal to explain its actions allows him to highlight the most broadly popular (no-one other than Mark Zuckerberg wants Mark Zuckerberg to be president) as the only hate it actually cares about. And you know what? Sabo's probably right, which is a great reminder of why you don't want Mark Zuckerberg to be president.
Have you seen this ugly clown sweater?
These clowns I know were having a yard sale Sunday, so I swung by. I picked up a sweet plumed marching band hat, a pair of tinted goggles for Burning Man, and a really cool long cloak, also for the desert. While shopping, I spotted this smiling clown face sweater in the rack of multi-colored clothes. I recognized it immediately.Wil Wheaton had once (famously) wore one just like it.That's a friend of mine in the lead picture (who wanted to remain anonymous, for reasons). At the sale, she tried the 100% acrylic monstrosity on with little to no intention of actually buying it. In fact, as she was pulling it over her head, she mumbled a couple times, "I'm no clown. I'm no clown." I took a photo of her not being a clown, because.When I got home, I posted the photo on Facebook and people wanted to know if I had bought it. I hadn't.One friend wondered if anyone we knew was involved in The Clownsweater Project which has many photos of people wearing a clown sweater, just like the one at the yard sale. Another friend, Valerie, piped in, "Me!" and shared this photo of herself. In fact, the sweater that she's wearing is the exact same one that Wil wore:I then started reading up on The Clownsweater Project. I was happy to discover that they've shared its entire history, including Wil Wheaton's part in it on their site: In 2002 at another EFF Fundraiser at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco, Barney (yes, the purple dinosaur) and Wil Wheaton were pitted against each other in a boxing match...This was where the Clownsweater and Wil Wheaton were introduced. Though that magical evening was the only time the two of them ever met, neither can deny the deep, enduring connection that persists to this day.(Cory actually blogged about that match here on Boing Boing.)All this got me wondering, who else has been touched by a clown sweater, identical to this one?How many of these sweaters are there? Do you have one? Where did you find it? How much did you pay for it? What size is it? People asked if the Clownsweater Project's one is the same sweater as the one at the yard sale. It isn't, I checked. That one is a Medium and the one at the yard sale is a Large.Ok, so what happened to this particular sweater, the one I spotted at the yard sale?Well, when I first posted the photo on Facebook, a friend in Ohio commented that she loved it and that she'd "wear the sh*t out of it." So, I did what anyone would do, I drove back to the yard sale and bought it for her for five bucks. She promises to take pictures.P.S. Check out this miniature version. And don't miss the t-shirt version.Lead image by Rusty Blazenhoff, Wil's photo by Loren Cox, Valerie's photo by the Clownsweater Project
Anti-fascist film from 1947: 'Don't Be a Sucker'
"Don't Be a Sucker" is as timely now as it was back in 1947: Don't Be a Sucker! is a short educational film produced by the U.S. War Department in 1943 and re-released in 1947. The film depicts the rise of Nazism in Germany and warns Americans against repeating the mistakes of intolerance made in Nazi Germany. It emphasizes that Americans will lose their country if they let themselves be turned into "suckers" by the forces of fanaticism and hatred. The film was made to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces by simply revealing the connection between prejudice and fascism.This film is not propaganda. To the contrary, it teaches how to recognize and reject propaganda, as was used by the Nazis to promote to bigotry and intimidation. It shows how prejudice can be used to divide the population to gain power. Far more significantly, it then shows how such tactics can be defanged by friendly persuasion; that protection of liberty is a unifying and practical way to live peacefully.(reddit)Previously: Donald Trump will not condemn the terrorist attacks on anti-Nazi protestors
Poop emoji brownies
When life hands you shit, make poop emoji brownies. YouTuber Rosanna Pansino shows you how. First you're going to need one (or more) of her 6-cavity poop swirl treat molds.Then you'll need to follow the recipe, which is here:"Ta-Doo-Doo! Poo never smelled so good!"
The world’s strongest bottle opener is also the smallest
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of bowling balls if you had a hitch small enough. It’s made from Grade 5 titanium — the same type that’s used in countless industrial and aerospace applications. Needless to say, this tiny piece of hardware will easily outlast you.Because of its unique shape and comically high tensile strength, this bottle opener can be so small that you’ll never notice it’s in your pocket. It also includes a heavy-duty key ring to replace the flimsy one that probably came with with your house keys. You can get one of them here for $10.99.
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