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Updated 2017-03-29 05:21
My favorite garlic crusher
I use this rocker garlic crusher several times a week. To use it, you just put a peeled clove of garlic under the crusher and rock the crusher over it a few times. It will smash the garlic through the holes, which you can then add to your food or skillet. When you are done, you can rub the stainless steel rocker underwater and "wash" your hands to remove the garlic smell from your skin. I like using this a lot more than a traditional garlic press, which seems to "juice" garlic more than mince it, as this rocker does. It's $15 on Amazon and will last forever. Here's a cheaper version (which I have not tried):
Explore this 3D model of Dunder Mifflin from The Office
Archilogic made this interactive 3D model of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin from The Office. You can scan over the entire space under "floor plan view," starting off with Pam’s desk and the office of Michael Scott. Then head past the galley kitchen and men’s and women’s bathrooms.You can zoom in and get up close into all the nooks and crannies. It’s so accurate even the pictures on the walls are the same. And notice how everything is so perfectly placed, like the scattered coffee mugs and boxes of printers stacked on top of the storage cabinets. If you’re a true fan, you’ll recognize the model is based off the show’s final season (hint: the Cornell flag).
Little girl mistakes discarded water heater for a robot
"I wuv you, wobot."
Farmers in Canada are also reduced to secretly fixing their tractors, thanks to DRM
In 2011, the Canadian Conservative government rammed through Bill C-11, Canada's answer to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in which the property rights of Canadians were gutted in order to ensure that corporations could use DRM to control how they used their property -- like its US cousin, the Canadian law banned breaking DRM, even for legitimate purposes, like effecting repairs or using third party parts. (more…)
A mother filmed the very invasive TSA pat-down of her teenage son
Every time you think that this TSA guy has finished rubbing every square inch of a boy's body, he comes back for another rubbing. It seems likes he's trying to discover a bobby pin the boy might have hidden in the seam of his clothing. The boy's justifiably upset mom taped the rubdown, which occurred at the Dallas Fort-Worth airport over the weekend. The TSA told Fusion it's all good:TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger, and in this case, all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.The video shows a male TSA officer explaining the procedure to the passenger, who fully cooperates. Afterward, the TSA officer was instructed by his supervisor, who was observing, to complete the final step of the screening process.In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes, and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to mitigate the concerns of the mother.The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 35 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection[via]
Woman wears heavy bomb suit, can't get up
Like being on a planet with 3X Earth's gravity.
Twin Peaks theme song gets the Seinfeld treatment
[via]
Google tries to define a valid family. Predictable awfulness ensues.
Ten years ago, a group of engineers and media executives sat down to decide what was, and was not, a real family. The results were predictably terrible. (more…)
This mountain inspired a prison break in 1943
Stuck in an East African prison camp in 1943, Italian POW Felice Benuzzi needed a challenge to regain his sense of purpose. He made a plan that seemed crazy -- to break out of the camp, climb Mount Kenya, and break back in. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Benuzzi and two companions as they try to climb the second-highest mountain in Africa using homemade equipment.We'll also consider whether mirages may have doomed the Titanic and puzzle over an ineffective oath.Show notesPlease support us on Patreon!
Photos from the Body Farm
Texas State University's Body Farm (AKA Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University or FACTS) is a 45-year-old facility where the corpses of medical body donors are left to decompose so that researchers can observe the rate at which human remains are consumed by the elements, scavengers and microbes, allowing them to accurately date the bodies of murder victims and those who died accidentally. (more…)
Game theory: pedestrians versus autonomous vehicles
Any well-designed self-driving car will be at pains to avoid killing people, if only to prevent paperwork delays when they mow someone down. (more…)
Connecticut's undertaxed super-rich hedgies get "tax bills" from anti-cuts protesters
Connecticut, home to the richest hedge-fund managers in America, is going broke, cutting services and gutting pension plans to try and fill its $1.8B budget hole -- a hole it plans on filling by taking away $1.5B from the state's workers. (more…)
"Unskilled group" is responsible for multiple, crappy ransomware attacks
Software can be thought of as a system for encapsulating the expertise of skilled practitioners; translate the hard-won expertise of a machinist or a dental technician or a bookkeeper into code, and people with little expertise in those fields can recreate many of the feats of the greatest virtuosos, just by hitting Enter. (more…)
Restoration revealed 1920s roulette table was rigged
Enjoy this simple and surprising tale from The Games Room Company, who were tasked with restoring a roulette table operated in Chicago throughout the 1930s: "we found that it had been completely rigged to defraud people and increase the odds of the house during play."A button disguised as decorative screw, accessible to the croupier, would cause a tiny pins to emerge from the ball track's surface, deflecting balls toward house-friendly ball pockets. Powered by batteries hidden in the legs (and dated by the newspaper used as dampers) the mechanism and its results would be undetectable at speed.
Meet a googly-eyed cuttlefish
The operators of the ocean-floor exploring vehicle E/V Nautilus chanced across this absolutely adorable googly-eyed purple cuttlefish, so what they they do? They spent the next five minutes making fun of it! [via Reddit]The team spotted this Stubby Squid off the coast of California at a depth of 900 meters (2,950 feet). The stubby squid (Rossia pacifica) looks like a cross between an octopus and squid, but is more closely related to cuttlefish. This species spends life on the seafloor, activating a sticky mucus jacket and burrowing into the sediment to camouflage, leaving their eyes poking out to spot prey like shrimp and small fish. Rossia pacifica is found in the Northern Pacific from Japan to Southern California, most commonly seen up to 300m deep, but specimens have been collected at 1000m depth.E/V Nautilus is exploring the ocean studying biology, geology, archeology, and more. Watch http://www.nautiluslive.org for live video from the ocean floor. For live dive updates follow along on social media at http://www.facebook.com/nautiluslive and http://www.twitter.com/evnautilus on Twitter. For more photos from our dives, check out our Instagram @nautiluslive.Someone should remix this so that when the scientists are mocking it ("it looks like a child's toy!") the camera lurches up to see a giant purple Cthulhu looking in the murk above them. Cthulhu booms: "don't talk to me or my son ever again."
Oh, look! A fidget tool
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a sentence in the conference room can be hellishly dull, you can zen it out by keeping your hands busy under the table (not that kind of busy, gross). This Stress Spinner helps you refocus on what matters most—that weird mole on Dave’s neck. Ahem, productively getting through the meeting, that is. With a smooth ceramic center bearing, you can spin it silently to help ease your wandering mind and hone back in on the waves of corporate synergy.After enough practice, you’ll be able to pull it out of your pocket already spinning without missing a beat. Pick up this Stress Spinner for 66% off, just $19.99.Explore other Best-Sellers in our store:Coding + DevelopmentLearn to Code 2017 Bundle (Pay What You Want)Accessories Twisty Glass BluntD-I-Y CourseRaspberry Pi 3 Course
Ian McDonald returns to the harshest mistress in Luna: New Wolf
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Louis Grabher's personalized auto license plate deemed too offensive to renew
Mr. Grabher's personalized plate, GRABHER, has never been a problem until this year's renewal. The BBC reports that the Nova Scotian motorist was refused permission to plate up his own name—of fine German vintage—by the local transport department. He blames Trump."I've never once had anybody come up to me and say they were offended," Mr Grabher told CBC News."They would look at it and say, 'Am I reading this right?' And I would go, 'Yes.'"And they would go, 'Is this your last name?' And I would go, 'Yes.' And they would always just give a little chuckle."Mr Grabher said he thinks he's being punished for Donald Trump's obscene language.
Miele's networked disinfecting hospital dishwasher has a gaping security flaw
The Miele PG 8528 is a "washer-disinfector" intended for hospitals and other locations with potentially dangerous pathogens on their dirty dishes; it's networked and smart. And dumb. (more…)
Gaff card deck has 40 magic tricks
http://amzn.to/2mKmut5Gaff cards are playing cards that have been doctored ion one way or another so you can do magic tricks that would be very difficult or impossible to do with an ordinary deck. I got The Blue Gaff Deck a few months ago and I love it. There are some amazing tricks you can do with it, and because they have the familiar Bicycle backs, no one will know that you are using gaff cards (as long as you don't flub).You can do 40 different tricks with the deck (and it comes with a DVD so you can learn them all). My favorite is the B-Wave, which is worth the price of the deck:https://youtu.be/39IcQIjuSzc
Tokyo travel tips, day 2: Yoyogi park
Carla and I took a one-week trip to Tokyo. It was my sixth visit to Japan's capital, and it was my favorite so far. For the next few days, I'll be writing about recommended things to do there. See them all here.[caption id="attachment_516200" align="alignnone" width="680"] Image: Wikipedia/Pawel Loj[/caption]I don't think you're supposed to fry onigiri, at least not the triangle-shaped ones that you buy at convenience stores in Japan. But that's what I did when I made breakfast in our Airbnb on our first morning in Tokyo. The onigiri weren't wrapped in seaweed, and they didn't have a filling. Instead, they were mixed with "mountain vegetables" and pressed into triangles. I heated them up in a skillet with butter, and the outside got crispy brown. They went well with the scrambled eggs I made. (I ended up buying this rice mold on Amazon so I can make them at home.) One thing about Japanese eggs - the yolks are a deep orange color. I don't know why, but they were delicious.[caption id="attachment_516202" align="alignnone" width="680"] Torii gate at Yoyogi Park[/caption]After breakfast we walked to Yoyogi Park in Shibuya. This 40-foot torii gate was just a few minute's walk from our Airbnb. As soon as we passed under it, we felt like we were far away from the hubbub of Tokyo and had entered a quiet forest. As it was early in the morning (the time difference between LA and Tokyo made it easy to wake up at 5am) there were few people in the park. We walked along a wide, tree-lined path until we reached the huge Meiji shrine. This Shinto shrine was built in 1921, destroyed in WWII air raids, and rebuilt in 1958. Visitors are invited to write prayers on small wooden placards and hang them on hooks in the courtyard We also visited the Meiji Jingu Inner Garden, which is in the park. It costs about $6 to enter, and is well worth the price. It's been around since the early Edo period (1603-1867) and was the garden of various lords and the Imperial Family. Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) liked the garden so much he wrote a poem about it:Deep in the woodland of Yoyogi, the quietude creates the illusion of seclusion from the city.I couldn't have said it better myself.There's also a pond, a teahouse (closed), and a well that was made by Katō Kiyomasa (1561 – 1611), a famous samurai and a playable character in Pokémon Conquest.After that, we walked to Harajuku and strolled through the narrow winding streets. I'll write about that tomorrow!
Crowdfunding a subscription to Ms. for every state official in Wyoming, home of America's worst wage-gap
Rudy Rucker writes, "Isabel Rucker and friends are promoting a GoFundMe project to give an Ms. subscription to each of the elected officials in Wyoming. Why? To raise awareness of women's issues. Wyoming has the largest gender pay gap in the country, has the smallest percentage of women in its state legislature, is among the costliest for childcare, and faces continuing cuts in publicly funded family planning and in women's health services." (more…)
Star Wars Rebels season three finale
This weekend saw Star Wars Rebels season three draw to a close. This was an exciting episode, but very little resolved. (more…)
Orson Welles interviews Andy Kaufman (1982)
https://youtu.be/xrGlWAFy1LUI was expecting this to be a train wreck, but Orson Welles (in an unusually ungrumpy mood) did a terrific job of interviewing Andy Kaufman, who was always a tough nut to crack. Welles basically took over and did most of the talking and was very funny.
Shaun Cassidy sings "Rebel Rebel" (1980)
Today, Shaun Cassidy is a successful TV producer. In the 1970s he was better know as the little brother of David Cassidy. In 1979 Shaun hired Todd Rundgren to produce his album Wasp. I don't think the album did well, but is has some great tracks on it, including a cover of David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel," "So Sad About Us' (Pete Townshend), "The Book I Read" (Talking Heads) ,"Once Bitten Twice Shy" (Ian Hunter), "It's My Life" ( Animals) and "Shake Me Wake Me" (Four Tops).It was his last album.Here's the whole album:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vmy5yorlrI
"I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here's why I left"
Megan Phelps-Roper was born into the Westboro Baptist Church. In this TED Talk, she explains what ut was like in the church and why she left.What's it like to grow up within a group of people who exult in demonizing ... everyone else? Megan Phelps-Roper shares details of life inside America's most controversial church and describes how conversations on Twitter were key to her decision to leave it. In this extraordinary talk, she shares her personal experience of extreme polarization, along with some sharp ways we can learn to successfully engage across ideological lines.
Russian cat won't let go of bread bag
YouTube description translated from the Russian: "Cat Boris lives in a shelter. He and the other tails looking for a home! Dear friends, we are a haven for cats. We are located in St. Petersburg."[via]
An inflatable pillow to make flying in coach tolerable
This simple, inflatable pillow provides the lower back support I wish a coach airplane seat would. (more…)
Trip out on Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" concert screen projections
When Pink Floyd took the stage on their mid-1970s "Dark Side of the Moon" tour, they performed in front of a stunning video cut-up created by British animator Ian Emes. Above are screen projections from the 1974 French tour. Below, a reel from the 1975 North American tour. (The album audio was added by someone else later.) From Wikipedia:Emes' first major work, 'French Windows', was started while he was subsequently a student at Birmingham College of Art and finished while he was unemployed. It was set to the Pink Floyd recording "One of These Days". After it was shown at Birmingham's Ikon Gallery, it was screened on the television programme The Old Grey Whistle Test, and thereby came to the attention of Pink Floyd. The band invited Emes to give them a private screening, and afterwards to make films to be projected during performances of The Dark Side of the Moon. His animation for their song "Time" is on Pink Floyd's Pulse DVD. He subsequently worked with Roger Waters, making live action film for his performance of The Wall – Live in Berlin.As a result of his work for Pink Floyd, Linda McCartney asked Emes to animate Wings' "Oriental Nightfish". He has also made animations for concerts by Mike Oldfield, and directed The Chauffeur for Duran Duran.(via r/ObscureMedia)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3npoz5A4yU
Excellent beer bottle blowing cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It"
The Bottle Boys blow like nobody's business. (via Laughing Squid)
Site turns any image into an animated waving flag
Flag Waver accepts uploaded images or URLs and turns them into an on-screen waving flag. There are advanced options for wind and hoisting! Sadly, you cannot export or save animations.
Store manager vs alleged shoplifter
KodyXO's video has everything going for it, from landscape-oriented 60fps footage to elderly ladies refereeing a wrestling match in a grocery store between a store manager and an alleged shoplifter. There's even an annoying photobomber!EMPLOYEE: "You're shoplifting, you can't shoplift here!"THE ACCUSED: "Yeah? Why not?"EMPLOYEE: (momentarily baffled) "Wh.. Why not?"The arrestee was reportedly charged with third-degree robbery.Big retailers might let you walk off if the cops don't arrive in time, but stores can and do detain shoplifters. Rite-Aid's got its staffer's back, but one imagines there may be a chain-wide round of "why we just let them go" retraining days quite soon.It's interesting to see how different media cast the events of the video. The local Hillsborough Tribune sticks to the facts, as it sees them...The two fight over the purse, with the woman pulling, yanking and twisting in order to pry it from his grip. At one point the woman tries to punch the employee, and kicks him. He tells her that she is not allowed to shoplift in the store. Eventally the man wrestles her to the floor as she attempts to strike him."Ma'am, you need to chill out," a voice is heard on the video as the woman is on the ground. "You need to chill."The woman screams "Let me go!" several times, but eventually relinquishes the purse to the employee as Washington County Sheriff's deputies arrive and arrest her. ... "You can use reasonable force to detain someone," Reimann said. "But that's a subjective thing. He's trying to hold onto her, and she gets violent, so he takes her to the ground. Those are hard situations to call."... Whereas Britain's seething tabloids do what they do. The Daily Mail:'I'm gonna take you down for that': Shocking moment Rite Aid employee bodyslams female 'shoplifter' as she tries to punch himThe best line: "She continues to writhe under his grasp!"
"I didn't know there was this much green in the whole galaxy"
Anyone familiar with Star Wars or even the modern art of movie-making will know what's coming as soon as Rey says it, but it's a brilliantly effective joke.
Watch some free diving beneath ice for your daily dose of NOPE
Johanna Nordblad holds the world record for free diving under ice. This gorgeous film captures the beauty and danger. She can stay under for more than 6.5 minutes with no gear of any kind. (more…)
JOHN WILCOCK: Andy Warhol's First Meeting with The Velvet Underground (and other events of 1965)
A book of John Wilcock comics is now available
Watch this cool transparent deep sea creature whose eyes take up its whole head
Cystisoma is an amphipod, a creature with two kinds of legs, and they are almost entirely translucent. One major exception is their pale orange retinas, which each take up about half of its head. (more…)
Gorgeous collection of public domain illustrations of space
Over a decade ago, we tipped readers to the astronomy illustrations of Trouvelot. now the New York Public Library has a large collection of his work available online. (more…)
Cast of Twin Peaks revival talk about how their characters have changed in revival series
https://youtu.be/3VwbkAMfFlUThe first mind-blowing episode of Twin Peaks aired in 1990. On May 21 this year, Showtime will debut a two-hour episode of the revival series, produced by creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, and starring the original crew. In this video, Kyle MacLachlan, Sherilyn Fenn, Peggy Lipton, Everett McGill, and Wendy Robie talk about what it's like to play characters for the first time in 25 years.
Excellent USB microscope on sale for $30
I wrote about the terrific Plugable USB Handheld Digital Microscope in 2015. It's on sale for $29.70 right now.I had the earlier version of the Plugable USB Handheld Digital Microscope and liked it a lot. The second version just came out and I love it. Smaller than a prescription pill bottle, the microscope has a USB cord that can be plugged into any computer. Download the software here and start looking up close at money, leaves, circuit boards, bugs, skin, hair, and anything else.The scope has a built-in, adjustable-brightness LED for illumination. The brightest setting is not always the best - try different levels of illumination and let the software auto-adjust the contrast. I also learned that in order to see things at the maximum 250X magnification you need to follow the instructions in the FAQ.The scope comes with a suction-cup gooseneck mount that is very stable, and a plastic board with a grid pattern, which helps you align and locate the thing you are looking at. You can also simply hold the scope against things. The software takes still photos and movies, and hasn't crashed on me yet (the earlier version was buggy).At this price, the microscope is an amazingly entertaining device and I find myself grabbing it to check out all sorts of things, including splinters, skin cuts, bugs, and playing card designs.Top row (left to right): One black whisker and many white whiskers on my chin, strawberry seed, George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill at 250XMiddle row: Snap blade knife at 250X, pixels on an iPhone 6 Plus display, seal from $1Bottom row: Nickel, George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill at 50X, Snap blade knife at 50X,
Old Paul Ryan gaffe goes viral: "We're not going to give up on destroying the health care system"
This brainfart from the Republican speaker of the house dates to 2013, not the aftermath of his failure to pass 2017's universally-loathed Obamacare replacement plan. Snopes:WHAT'S TRUEHouse Speaker Ryan said he would not give up on destroying the United States' health care system.WHAT'S FALSEThe statement was a gaffe that was taken out of context, not an actual admission of intent. ...Although Ryan did say “we’re not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system for the American people,” this was merely a gaffe, not a statement of intent. Ryan was referring to the Affordable Care Act and his efforts to not let that law destroy the health care system.This is fair context, but "merely a gaffe" handwaves what makes gaffes interesting. Lack of intent is not intrinsic to gaffes. Indeed, the fact gaffes tend to reveal intent is embodied by a term a journalists use for political ones to distinguish them from lesser varieties: the Kinsley Gaffe.The first appearance in print of “Kinsley’s Law of Gaffes” may have been on January 17, 2008, when Hendrik Hertzberg wrote in a post about a Democratic candidates’ debate in his New Yorker blog:No article or blog post of this kind can be complete without a reference to (Michael) Kinsley’s Law of Gaffes, which states that a gaffe occurs when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Perhaps this should be supplemented by the notion of a Deductive Slip, meaning something a politician says, however inadvertently, that can be shoehorned into a pre-existing “narrative.”Kinsley himself points out that in political cases, the supposed gaffe is never animated by surprise. Just as everyone knew, for example, that Rush Limbaugh had a low opinion of women before revealing it in a "gaffe," everyone already knows Paul Ryan didn't need Obamacare to become an Ayn Randian laissez-faire dork. What he is has already been established; the gaffe is haggling over the price.
With the collapse of Trumpcare, Sanders wants Medicare-For-All
The humiliating inability of Republicans to legislate even when they control the Presidency, House and Senate has emboldened the left wing of the Democratic party, led by Bernie Sanders, to push to replace Obamacare (designed by the Heritage Foundation and first trialled by Mitt Romney) with "Medicare-For-All," a state run, universal healthcare system that will end the out-of-control transfer of tax funds to insurance companies and the bonanza for Big Pharma. (more…)
You should be flossing with water
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand of nylon between your pearly yellows is tedious at best, and painful at worst. There has to be a better way.Fortunately, this water flosser will transform you from Steve Buscemi-lookalike to a paragon of dental hygiene. The battery-powered flosser shoots thin jets of water in the crevices of your gums like a gentler power washer to hose off the most stubborn bits of plaque. Plus, it’s been clinically shown to clean your mouth faster and more comfortably than normal floss.This kit includes a full set of dental cleaning tools and four color-coded tips to let multiple members of your household use it without gross cross-contamination. Lowered from $149.99, get the Aqua Flosser Water Flosser here for just $38.99.Explore other Best-Sellers in our store:Coding + DevelopmentLearn to Code 2017 Bundle (Pay What You Want)Accessories Twisty Glass BluntD-I-Y CourseRaspberry Pi 3 Course
Primitive Technology: Turn on the closed captions!
https://youtu.be/uZGFTmK6Yk4It's no secret that Boing Boing (along with over 4 million other netizens) loves the Primitive Technology channel on YouTube. We've covered this channel numerous times (about a guy making primitive tech in the wilds of Far North Queensland, Australia with nothing but the gym shorts on his ass). I anxiously await each episode and am like a kid at Christmas when I get the alert that a new one is up.But this month, thanks to one of the reader comments, I made a cool discovery. The videos are without narration. The un-named survivalist, who some have dubbed "Prim," is really good at showing you what he's doing so that you can understand it without explanation, and he writes up decent notes that are published along with the videos. But then I saw the comment: "[Turns on captions] That clever bastard has been talking to us the entire time!!" Whoa.The captions and the notes are pretty similar, but you do get extra content in the captions and you get to see them in situ. I've been using closed captioning on my TV recently and have been delighted to see how much additional information you actually get: background conversations you would never hear, song titles and lyrics, and wonderful sound descriptions like "sexual gasping." So, it's great to discover another instance of CC being useful.
Man costumed as The Joker arrested and charged with "wearing a mask in public"
The AP reports that Jeremy Putnam, 31, was arrested in Winchester, Virginia, and charged with "wearing a mask in public," a felony in that state.He was armed with a "sword" in public, which apparently alarmed residents. But they haven't charged him with that; they've charged him with this, a fascinatingly terrible law:§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer......with specific exceptions for "traditional holiday costumes," protective or medical masks, or ones for a "bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball." Putnam is being held at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.
Tabloid roundup: Obama's real birth certificate, a spy in the White House, murder charges for an aging star, and more!
Barack Obama’s real Kenyan birth certificate has been discovered, President Trump has caught “Russia’s White House spy,” and actor Robert Wagner has been hit by “grand jury murder charges” - if you believe this week’s tabloids.Alas, it’s another basketful of wishful thinking, fact-challenged alternate realities.“Proof Obama was born in Kenya!” screams the ‘Globe’ front cover, declaring his Hawaiian birth certificate a forgery, and publishing “the real deal” issued by the Coast Province General Hospital in Mombasa, the Republic of Kenya, on August 4, 1961. The “damning hospital birth certificate” was revealed by Obama’s own “brother” - actually, his half-brother, Malik Obama.It ’s a great scoop, except for a few minor details: This is the same Kenyan birth certificate we first saw eight years ago; in the early 1960s the term “Coast Province” was not used, as provinces were still referred to as “regions;” the nation was then called the Dominion of Kenya, not the Republic; Mombasa was part of Zanzibar until 1963; and the attending physician named on the certificate worked in Nairobi, not Mombasa. The alleged certificate also uses American-style date notations - month, day, year - rather than the British-style then used in Kenya: day, month, year. And the certificate looks nothing like any Kenyan birth certificate of its time.Apart from that, it’s a good story.Robert Wagner has finally been brought to justice for killing his wife, Natalie Wood, the ‘Globe’ claims on its cover. Except when you read the story inside, it turns out to be more wishful thinking. “Robert Wagner MUST be indicted,” pleads the opening sentence. “New grand jury MUST target Robert Wagner,” screams a headline. Why is that, you wonder? “Damning new forensic evidence and chilling photos ‘implicating’ the actor . . . have finally surfaced.”Except they haven’t. It’s just an unnamed “source close to the cold-case probe” citing unnamed “investigators” who claim that “marks found on her body prove she was choked into unconsciousness and ‘rolled off’ her yacht.” But Natalie Wood, who spent hours in the ocean before her body was recovered in 1981, was covered in bruises when found. The coroner believed she had fallen off the yacht, and it’s clearly difficult to distinguish between bruises from falling off a yacht and being 'rolled off’ it. Old bruises hardly constitute new proof. But wait! The ‘Globe’ reveals that “a secret witness is ready to step forward - and doom Wagner for good!” It's deus ex machina journalism at its best. I bet the butler did it.The ‘National Enquirer’ cover proudly tells us that “Trump Catches Russia’s White House Spy!” and “Now he’s spilling Putin’s secrets.” Who is this nefarious operative trapped by spy-catcher-in-chief Trump? It’s “White House mole Michael Flynn!” crows the ‘Enquirer.’ Excuse me? It’s true that Trump ousted National Security Advisor Flynn in February after it was revealed that he had met with Russian officials and discussed sanctions, and had then lied about it. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer made clear that Flynn had been axed “not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue” after “trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded . . . “ It was only after investigations by the FBI, the U.S. Army, and multiple media outlets, that Flynn resigned. But he was hardly “caught” by Trump. And though Flynn seems to have had more ties to Russia than he let on, calling him a “spy” may be a stretch.But the ‘Enquirer story then mysteriously focuses on “KGB spymaster-turned-U.S.-defector Jack Barsky.” Born Albrecht Dittrich, Barsky was sent by the KGB to spy on America in 1978, and was identified to the FBI as a spy in 1992. But Barsky was never charged, having apparently given up espionage by then, and later even wrote a book about life as a KGB spy in America. He’s made no secret of his past, yet the ‘Enquirer’ headline screams that Barsky is “Hiding in Atlanta Lair.” But Barsky, outed as a spy 25 years ago, can hardly be said to have been caught by Trump, any more than Flynn was caught by Trump. It’s all just anti-Russia scare-mongering nonsense.The ‘Enquirer’ also brings us a center-spread proclaiming: “Janet Jackson Love Child Shocker!” The headline continues: “Secret DNA test brings 31-year mystery to a jaw-dropping conclusion!” It’s the antique story alleging that Janet Jackson gave up a baby at birth three decades ago, and then-boyfriend James DeBarge volunteered his DNA sample to prove that Tiffany Whyte of Philadelphia is their love child. And the “jaw-dropping” conclusion? “The life-shattering scientific report determined there is literally ZERO chance of paternity between James and Tiffany,” reports the ‘Enquirer’ - in the 14th paragraph of the non-story. Well, there’s a surprise.At least there’s fun and games to be had with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. “Jen & Ben Are Having Twins!” claims the ‘Globe,’ reporting that the couple are visiting a fertility doctor. But wait: The ‘Enquirer’ reports that they are still split, and “She’ll take him back only if he can dry out and get in shape" after a stint in rehab. Hang on though - ‘Us’ magazine reports that Affleck and Garner are “putting the children first,” dropping their children off at school and taking them to church - but still living apart, though sharing the same three-acre Pacific Palisades property - Ben in the guesthouse, and Jen in the main mansion. “They are not a couple by any means,” says an “insider.” They must also be exhausted reading so many conflicting tabloid and celebrity mags each week.Fortunately we have ‘Us’ magazine’s crack team of investigative reporters to tell us that Julie Bowen wore it best, singer Vanessa Carlton carries dried sage and matches in her Clare V fanny pack (to purify hotel rooms - though one suspects she burns this in “no smoking” rooms), and that the stars are just like us: they eat take-out, play softball, and spread jam on scones (because that’s how celebrities roll.)‘People’ magazine devotes its cover to the mystery behind one-time “fitness guru” Richard Simmons’ supposed disappearance, not seen in public in nearly three years. The mag promises “the real story,” but offers only speculation and denials. Simmons’ publicist insists that the 68-year-old is fine. Simmons’ brother Lenny agrees: “My brother is fine” and is just tired of the limelight. And then ‘People’ recites all the old concerns: a 911 call last summer after Simmons exhibited “bizarre” behavior, knee surgery, the death of his beloved Dalmatian,and shying away from friends. It’s a litany of old accusations, but “the real story” it’s not.Onwards and downwards . . .
Watch subway cars align as train goes around a bend
This Inception-like moment as all the doorways form a straight line is both satisfying and mesmerizing. (more…)
Watch how to build a working 3D printed tabletop arcade console
Christopher Tan created Retrocade, a delightful 3D printed arcade machine project that lets users play classic games. He's even releasing the files and instructions. (more…)
Raspberry Pi 3 can do crazy things - learn some of them here
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, the Raspberry Pi is an exceptional tool for Internet of Things construction, programming robots, hacking, and a whole slew of other cool stuff thanks to accessible, general-purpose inputs and outputs, and an open-source operating system.If you are planning on ordering one of these single-board wonders (or impulsively bought one without any idea of what to do with it), this Raspberry Pi 3 training bundle will give you a nice taste of what you can do with it. Here’s some of what you'll learn:Cybersecurity fundamentals with a Raspberry Pi equipped with Kali, the Linux distribution focused around network penetration testingHow to link several Raspberry Pi boards together to perform complex parallel computationsAdvanced networking and web development techniques that use the Raspberry Pi as a file and web serverRaspberry Pi-powered roboticsThe foundations of IoT devicesWith over 20 hours of instructional material spread across six targeted courses, you’ll get more than a taste of what this delicious platform is capable of. Get the Complete Raspberry Pi 3 Training Bundle for 91% off—just $19.Explore other Best-Sellers in our store:Coding + DevelopmentLearn to Code 2017 Bundle (Pay What You Want)Accessories Twisty Glass BluntD-I-Y CourseRaspberry Pi 3 Course
Tokyo travel tips, day 1: Airbnb in Shinjuku and an adorable curry restaurant
Carla and I just returned from a one-week trip to Tokyo. It was my sixth visit to Japan's capital, and it was my favorite. For the next few days, I'll be writing about recommended things to do there. See them all here.We arrived at Narita airport about 1:30pm Tokyo time. At the airport, I noticed a lot of vending machines selling SIM cards with high-speed data. You can get a week's worth of unlimited data for less than $10 a day. If your phone is locked, you can rent a wi-fi hot spot for about the same amount. I used a wi-fi hotspot to consult Google Maps many times every day to navigate around the city. Google Maps will also tell you which trains to use to get from one place to another. We also used Yelp to find restaurants and learn when they open and close.There are several ways to get from Narita to Tokyo (about 50 miles). A taxi or Uber costs almost $300 and you will have to deal with traffic. There are also luxury buses, which can take you right to your hotel (provided you are staying in one of the major ones). My favorite way to get to Tokyo from the airport is by train. Both the Narita Express ($28) and the Skyliner ($22) have terminals inside the airport. They are convenient and fast. The Skyliner is faster and cheaper, but stops only at the Ueno and Nippori stations. The Narita Express stops at more places, including Shibuya and Shinjuku. We took the Narita Express because we were staying near the Shinjuku Station.At Shinjuku station we took a taxi to our Airbnb. I've taken a lot of taxi rides in Japan, and in 100% of the cases the following five things were true:1. The driver didn't understand a word of English. (Hand your phone to him with the address displayed on the screen. He'll enter the address in his navigation system.)2. The car was immaculate inside and out.3. The driver was a man.4. The driver got confused if I tried to tip him.5. The driver automatically opened and closed my door for me. Do not try to open and close the yourself because it will strain the mechanism and annoy the heck out of the driver. Cars drive on the left side of the road in Japan, by the way.We took a very short ride to our Airbnb (right next to Yoyogi Park, home to the famous Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine) and took the elevator to the 9th floor. Here's what the place looked like, along with views from the balcony:At $225 a night, (here's a referral code you can use to get a $40 Airbnb credit. I'll get $20 in credit if you use it) it's much cheaper than many hotels in the area. It has a kitchen, a loft with two futons, a bedroom with two large beds, a dining area, a Japanese style tub, and a washer/dryer. It also includes a wi-fi hotspot that you can take with you as you travel around Tokyo. By the time we got settled in and took a shower after 16 hours of travel, we were hungry and sleepy. I looked on Yelp and found a place called Vegetable Curry Camp just a few minutes walk from our place. It was a cute tiny restaurant in the basement. They had boxes of fresh vegetables next to the front door, and the decor was "1960 American campground." We got sizzling skillets of fresh vegetable curry and plates of rice. The bill for both of us was less than $20. (In fact, many of the restaurants we went to were a lot cheaper than places in Los Angeles).On the way back, we stopped at one of the ubiquitous konbini (コンビニ, short for convenience store) to buy eggs and onigiri (rice filled with fish or other fillings) for breakfast the next morning. We slept like logs.Stayed tuned for day 2, to find out about Meiji Jingu and the interesting little stores in Harajuku.
Upright guitar stand for under $9
I have a Fender Telecaster but no case or stand. It usually sits on a couch. I finally broke down and bought the ChromaCast CC-MINIGS Universal Folding Guitar Stand with Secure Lock for $8.96 on Amazon. It's got a 4.5-star rating on Amazon with over 1,200 reviews.
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