Syndicate content
Brain candy for Happy Mutants
Updated: 33 min 59 sec ago

Trump's stupid #FakeNewsAwards site crashes right after President Herp Derp tweets about it

Wed, 2018-01-17 20:56

Nope, definitely not a sign from the angry gods.


Categories: Crunknet

If Aubrey de Gray is right, you could live forever

Wed, 2018-01-17 20:45

I first met Aubrey de Grey over ten years ago, when he presented at a conference I attended. And his core message blew my mind. It was -- and remains -- that it should soon lie within technology’s reach to eliminate the scourge of human aging. Not merely to arrest it -- but even to reverse it. We discuss all of this and more right here:

People have been making these sorts of claims from time immemorial. But they usually have a service, some goop, or a religion to sell, and Aubrey’s peddling none of the above. The charlatans also typically lack Aubrey’s professional validation -- which include a Cambridge Ph.D, any number of academic publications, and dozens of scientists pursuing his agenda with full or partial funding from the organization that he founded and runs.

Aubrey is charmingly indignant about the lack of urgency most of humanity has about ending aging. He attributes this to a mindset he calls the “Pro-aging Trance,” which we discuss in detail at the start of our interview. Its roots include the instinctive conviction most of us have that death and mortality are immutable realities. To which Aubrey would reply that many instinctive convictions -- such as belief in an Earth-centered universe, or the impossibility of human flight -- have gone the way of the dodo bird. And he would of course add that there’s no reason for us to go that way ourselves.

Aubrey maintains that while life itself is -- for now -- unfathomably complex, as are most disease states, virtually everything that causes us to age and die stems from seven discrete categories of damage, which steadily accrue throughout our lives. And vitally, we don’t need to fully understand this damage in order to fix it. So by all means, he argues, let’s start fixing! He lists seven major repair vectors, which he believes can collectively end aging. We discuss two in detail in our interview, and I survey the other five in my concluding remarks.

One final note: when you hear about a research program like Aubrey’s, it is not unreasonable to ask, is this guy nuts? Personally, I like Aubrey, I loved his book (which we also discuss), and I sure hope he’s right about everything, because I quite enjoy being alive! But I categorically lack the background necessary to assess his claims scientifically. In light of that, as well as the pro-Aubrey biases I just confessed to, I was careful to vet him as a guest with multiple scientists who are familiar with his work -- most of whom also specialize in aging and its attendant diseases.

The strong consensus from this informal advisory group is that Aubrey is the real deal. He’s viewed as being extremely smart, entirely serious, and not even slightly bonkers. Now, that doesn’t mean a majority or even a large minority of scientists agree that defeating aging during the next few decades is largely a matter of adequate funding. That’s still a rather fringe viewpoint. But it’s a viewpoint a scientist can now espouse and retain the respect of his peers - which I doubt was the case until quite recently. No doubt Aubrey’s own work has had something to do with that.

Image of Aubrey de Grey by SENS Foundation/Flickr, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Categories: Crunknet

Drunk droning is now against the law in New Jersey

Wed, 2018-01-17 18:00

As of Monday, there is a new kind of "DUI" in New Jersey: Droning Under the Influence. On his final day of being New Jersey's (incredibly unpopular) governor, Chris Christie signed a law making it illegal to fly an unmanned drone aircraft drunk or under the influence of drugs.

Reuters reports: The law prohibits flying a drone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, the same as for driving a vehicle, or while drugged. Violators face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. The measure, which passed the Democratic-controlled state legislature earlier this month, also bars flying a drone near a prison or in pursuit of wildlife. The drone measure was among 109 bills that Christie signed into law on his last full day in office, spokesman Brian Murray said by email. Christie’s successor, Democrat Phil Murphy, is to be sworn in on Tuesday.

photo by Andrew Turner

Categories: Crunknet

Watch: speedboat driver rams into small boat with three passengers

Wed, 2018-01-17 17:44

Three salmon fishers had to leap out of their small craft to avoid being rammed by a speedboat that nearly killed them. The speedboat driver, Marlin Lee Larsen (75), said he couldn't see the little boat because he was sitting down and the front of his boat was blocking his view. One of the fisherman is suing the speedboat driver for over $350,000.

From SF Gate:

Larsen's son-in-law, who also was on the boat, told investigators that he had warned his father-in-law to pay attention, that he sometimes sees his father-in-law using his cell phone while driving the boat and that his father-in-law had been off-and-on his cell phone the morning of the crash, according to the sheriff's report.

Although Oregon law heavily restricts cell phone use while driving, there are no such specific laws governing boating. But it is against the law to operate a boat without due care.

Life imitates art:

Categories: Crunknet

Bruce Lee, now with lightsabers

Wed, 2018-01-17 17:00

Inspired by this artwork depicting Bruce Lee with lightsaber nunchucks, artist Patrick Nan of San Jose, California decided to add some light-weapons to the karate master's 1972 Fist of Fury. It's a cool effect!

(The Awesomer)

Categories: Crunknet

The war over apostrophes in Kazakhstan's new alphabet

Wed, 2018-01-17 16:37

There's a fascinating linguistic fight brewing in Kazakhstan, due to the president's decision to adopt a new alphabet for writing their language, Kazakh.

The problem? It's got too many apostrophes!

For decades, Kazakhs have used the Cyrillic alphabet, which was imposed on them by the USSR back in the 30s. Now that Kazakhstan has started moving away from Russia -- including making Kazakh more central in education and public life -- the president decided he wanted to adopt a new alphabet, too. He wanted it based on the Latin one.

But! Kazakh has many unique sounds that can't be easily denoted using a Latin-style alphabet.

Kazakhstan's neighbors solved that problem by following the example of Turkey, where they use umlauts and phonetic symbols. But Kazkhstan's president didn't want that -- and instead has pushed for the use of tons of apostrophes instead.

Kazakhstan's linguists intellectuals think this is nuts, as the New York Times reports: The Republic of Kazakhstan, for example, will be written in Kazakh as Qazaqstan Respy’bli’kasy. Others complained the use of apostrophes will make it impossible to do Google searches for many Kazakh words or to create hashtags on Twitter. “Nobody knows where he got this terrible idea from,” said Timur Kocaoglu, a professor of international relations and Turkish studies at Michigan State, who visited Kazakhstan last year. “Kazakh intellectuals are all laughing and asking: How can you read anything written like this?” The proposed script, he said, “makes your eyes hurt.” [snip] Under this new system, the Kazakh word for cherry will be written as s’i’i’e, and pronounced she-ee-ye. “When scholars first learned about this, we were all in shock,” Mr. Kazhybek said.

What's particularly interesting are the technological and geopolitical reasons behind the president's embrace of apostrophes. He claims it's about making the language easy to type on computers; no need to have a keyboard equipped with umlauts and other special characters. But critics say it's about something else -- the president's desire to not alienate Russia, which doesn't like the idea of the various former Soviet satellites adopting Turkic styles ... The only reason publicly cited by Mr. Nazarbayev to explain why he did not want Turkish-style phonetic markers is that “there should not be any hooks or superfluous dots that cannot be put straight into a computer,” he said in September. He also complained that using digraphs to transcribe special Kazakh sounds would cause confusion when people try to read English, when the same combination of letters designates entirely different sounds. But others saw another possible motivation: Mr. Nazarbayev may be eager to avoid any suggestion that Kazakhstan is turning its back on Russia and embracing pan-Turkic unity, a bugbear for Russian officials in both czarist and Soviet times. Oh, and a director shot a video parodying the apostrophe-ridden words the president's new language would produce. The image above is from it.

It's a great story, with fascinating nuance into Kazakhstan's politics; go read it in full! A very good reminder of how deeply political language is, was, and probably always will be.

(There's a cool video embedded where you can learn Kazakh phrases, too.)

Categories: Crunknet

Retro wall clock for $8

Wed, 2018-01-17 16:32

This cheerful battery powered wall clock is 9.5 inches in diameter. I got one for our kitchen. It's only $8 on Amazon.

Categories: Crunknet

Watch 'The Lyft Rapper' co-create music with his passengers

Wed, 2018-01-17 16:15

Shakespeare wrote that "All the world's a stage." But for Oakland, California-based Ashel Eldridge, he's made his car his stage. Dubbed "The Lyft Rapper," he invites his passengers to choose a topic and style of song and he'll make up a song about it on the spot.

KQED Arts writes: Elridge, who also goes by the emcee name Seasunz, says his mission is to elevate the consciousness of his community by helping people understand the forces that may be manipulating them.

His passengers say they’re startled at first when their Lyft driver begins rapping to them. But after the song, they admit the Lyft Rapper has turned a typically mundane trip into an unforgettable experience.

Here's his most recent video:

Yes, he has his passengers sign releases. And no, I don't believe he's sponsored in any way by Lyft.

Categories: Crunknet

The place of gin in Orwell's 1984

Wed, 2018-01-17 15:59

One of the few permitted vices in Nineteen Eighty-Four is Victory Gin, which oils the outer party and offers suggestions of Englishness and party power: it's always served with clove bitters, implying that Oceania's boots are on the ground in Asia. Chemistry professor Shirley Lin wrote an interesting post about gin's place in Orwell's dystopia. In the last paragraph of the book, Winston’s tears at the end of the book are also “gin-scented” (page 297). While I was unable to find any studies examining the presence of alcohol in human tears, ethanol in the sweat of continuous drinkers has been detected and quantified.

I always figured that Victory Gin is just watered-down random-grain alcohol and that the "saccharine flavoured with cloves, the speciality of the cafe," is turps. Bottoms up!

Categories: Crunknet

This is how you rescue a dog who is trapped in a frozen river

Wed, 2018-01-17 15:05

Bravo to the skilled rescuer who freed this dog who was stuck in a frozen river.


Categories: Crunknet

Google's former design ethicist says to change your phone screen to grayscale

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:58

Tristan Harris a former "design ethicist" at Google, says today's candy colored interfaces are addictive. One way to make your phone less appealing, it to make the display grayscale.


Categories: Crunknet

LA sheriff deputy sad that his drug-dealing side business was spoiled by FBI bust

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:49

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Kenneth Collins was arrested by the FBI this week for allegedly supplying security for drug dealers.

From KTLA 5: Kenneth Collins, a 15-year veteran of the department, and three other men were arrested by undercover FBI agents after they arrived in Pasadena to provide security for the transport of dozens of pounds of drugs — nearly 45 pounds of cocaine and more than 13 pounds of methamphetamine, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

From Reason:

The allegations against Collins illustrate a fundamental flaw in government prohibition: Where sufficient demand exists for a prohibited good or service, there will be incentives to elude law enforcement—and law enforcement officers are not themselves exempt from such incentives. For them, in fact, the incentives can be more powerful, given the ways police work is shielded from accountability. Civil service protections and union contract provisions have ensured that many departments are unable to discipline unscrupulous officers appropriately.

In 2016, the most recent year available on the OpenGovUS project, Collins' salary was reported as $130,145, plus $54,000 worth of benefits. The salary includes a base of $102,226, plus nearly $20,000 in overtime, $5,000 in "other earnings," including shift pay, allowances, and bonuses, and $3,000 in "leave time payouts." His earnings were more than three times the median salary in Los Angeles County.

From Pasadena Star News:

According to Tuesday’s indictment, Collins spoke at length during recorded conversations about his extensive drug trafficking network, his past criminal conduct and his willingness to accept bribes in exchange for using his badge to help criminals. He said he had teams of people, including other law enforcement officers, who provide security for illegal marijuana grow houses and drug transports.

He allegedly told the agent, who was posing as a wealthy investor in grow houses, that his team is willing to beat people for cash.

The indictment states Collins showed the agent his badge and a gun tucked in his waistband during their first meeting in August 2017.

“I fix problems,” Collins said, according to the indictment. “I make a lot of things go away.”

Categories: Crunknet

Facebook harmed America and is ‘living, breathing crime scene’ over 2016 U.S. election, insiders say

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:45

“Making you angry, making you afraid, is really good for Facebook's business. It is not good for America.”


Categories: Crunknet

Clintons confess, Obama to blame, and Trump triumphs in this week’s tabloids

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:42

The White House Press Office in Exile, otherwise known as the tabloids, is in full Trump-boosting, Clinton-bashing, Obama-blaming mode this week.

The president, who has previously lamented the injustice of the National Enquirer being deprived of the Pulitzer Prize it so richly deserves, should be pleased with the rag’s immolation of Michael Wolff’s political bestseller Fire and Fury, with a cover headline branding it a “Book of Lies!”

“Staffers think prez is dumb. FALSE!” screams the Enquirer's front page. “His ego is out of control. FALSE! He’s hated by his own family. FALSE!”

Not satisfied with demolishing Wolff’s reporting, the Enquirer claims that the book is part of an attack on Trump “orchestrated by Puppet Master-in-Chief Barack Obama!” Wolff is “part of the Obama hit team” chosen by America's last president to undermine Trump, claims the magazine. And to prove its point, the Enquirer sent audio and video tapes of Wolff for stress analysis, and concluded “Michael Wolff is lying throughout.” Well, you can’t argue with science.

Sister publication the Globe dances like it’s 2016 all over again, with its cover story about Bill and Hillary Clinton's alleged "$365 million bribery scandal” at the Clinton Foundation under the headline: "We’re Guilty!" Inside, the story reveals: “Crooked Clintons Confess!"

But it’s not just Bill & Hill freely admitting their life of lies – “Trump nails Clinton confession,” the Globe crows. Did Trump grill the Clintons in interrogation rooms under bright lights? Hardly.

As the FBI mounts a new probe into possible pay-to-play politics by the Clintons and their Foundation, the Globe claims that the Clintons sought a plea deal to make the whole ugly business go away – and that Trump ordered the Justice Department to make no sweetheart deals, “making good on his promise to lock up the crooked Clintons.”

Two quick points: (1) discussing a plea deal is far from a confession, and (2) since the probe is only days old it’s unlikely that the Clintons would consider a plea deal before knowing whether the investigation has even dug up any incriminating evidence. The report sounds more like wishful thinking by the Globe team of psychic reporters.

The fantasies continue in the Globe with “Camilla’s Deathbed Revenge!” claiming that Princes Charles’ wife is “secretly negotiating a mega-bucks deal to tell all in a blockbuster TV interview!” Her aim? “. . . to bring down the royals before she’s killed by liver cancer.” Another couple of quick thoughts: (1) You’re not on your “deathbed” if you’re seen walking around quite happily at the Royal Family’s Christmas Day church service, and announcing plans to visit a brewery in Wales later this month; and (2) as I’ve noted before, Camilla’s diagnosis of liver cancer appears to have been missed by the combined ranks of Britain’s Royal press corps, clearly lacking the psychic skills of the Globe paranormal reporting team.

The tabloids are back to their usual prognosticatory feats with their latest death watch stories. TV’s Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who recently underwent surgery to remove blood clots from his brain, has just “9 weeks to live!” claims the Globe. Start the countdown. Let’s not forget Nick Nolte, given just six months to live 18 months ago.

Meanwhile the Enquirer claims that Val Kilmer – given just months to live more than two years ago – now has less than 12 months to live as “cancer spreads to his brain – docs fear.” Docs fear? That’s sloppy, even for the Enquirer. They usually claim that “friends fear” a celebrity is ill, which they can get away with because “friends" aren’t medical experts. But doctors? They know if cancer has spread to the brain or not.

Michael Douglas “knows he could pass away at any time,” an unnamed source tells the Enquirer. Shocking. Couldn’t we all?

Meghan Markle’s “Wedding Dilemmas” dominate the cover of Us magazine, which details “the bride’s 11 agonizing decisions.” These make first world problems seem trivial: “What tiara will she wear? Will her dad walk her down the aisle? Who will design her dress?” The one question they don’t address: Who cares?

People magazine devotes its cover to TV’s former Today show host Ann Curry, who “breaks her silence” and “opens up about the pain of leading the Today show.” Okay, how much did it hurt? “It hurt like hell . . but I’m stronger now.” Good to know.

Fortunately we have the crack investigative team at Us magazine to tell us that Alessandra Ambrosio wore it best, that actress Elsa Pataky’s “worst habit is eating doughnuts,” that Xscape singer Kandi Burruss carries lipstick, perfume and deodorant in her tote, and that the stars are just like us: they pump gas, buy toilet paper, and eat lunch. Enlightening, as always.

The National Examiner once again brings us the week’s best headline: “E.T. Stole My Virginity!” in which David Huggins, aged 74, of New Jersey, “reveals a VERY close encounter he had as a teen.” Huggins claims in a new documentary that he not only lost his virginity to an alien, but that he fathered dozens of alien hybrid children. “She had a very nice body,” says Huggins of his extra-terrestrial lover. Sounds about as plausible as everything else in this week’s tabloids.

Onwards and downwards . . .

Categories: Crunknet

Why the siren of the Starbucks logo is slightly asymmetrical

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:13

The designers of the Starbucks logo decided that making the siren's face slightly asymmetrical gave her the right mix of mystery and allure.

From Co. Design:

“As a team we were like, ‘There’s something not working here, what is it?'” recounts global creative director Connie Birdsall. “It was like, ‘Oh, we need to step back and put some of that humanity back in. The imperfection was important to making her really successful as a mark.”

Specifically, Lippincott realized that to look human, the Siren couldn’t be symmetrical, despite the fact that symmetry is the well-studied definition of human beauty. She had to be asymmetrical. Can you see it now that you know? Look closely at her eyes. Do you notice how her nose dips lower on the right than the left? That was the fix of just a few pixels that made the Siren work.

“In the end, just for the face part of the drawing, there’s a slight asymmetry to it. It has a bit more shadow on the right side of the face,” says design partner Bogdan Geana. “It felt a bit more human, and felt less like a perfectly cut mask.”

[Photo: courtesy Lippincott]

Categories: Crunknet

Luke did not need a god damn beard trimmer

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:10

The force prefers nearly trimmed facial hair, according to this Norelco line of Star Wars shavers.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi shared my perfect idea of a Jedi: Luke living on a windswept cliff over the sea, wearing comfortable robes and to hell with beautycare. Cranky old failed Jedi have bushy beards. R2D2 never had a beard trimmer attachment.

Now that Finn is out of the storm trooper helmet and has paid a visit to Maz' funky club, maybe'll give us some great 70s action hero hair! If this trimmer is anything like a Storm trooper, it'll miss all the hair anyways.

Who is the person who really wants a Snokes-personal-guard-themed beard trimmer? What is wrong with them? Kylo can't even grow one!

Is there an Ewok sculpting attachment?

Poe Dameron is a war criminal. Dameron did more to kill the Rebellion/Resistance than Palpatine and Vader combined.

Am I the only person who remembers General Jan Dodanna's awesome hair?

Obi-Wan Kenobi had the best beard in all of Star Wars.

Categories: Crunknet

Jeff Flake slams Trump: "An American president who can't take charting a very dangerous path"

Wed, 2018-01-17 14:09

Wow, Sen. Jeff Flake had some powerful words to say against Donald Trump and his disregard for the truth today on the Senate floor. Some of the highlights:

"An American president who cannot take criticism – who must constantly deflect and distort and distract – who must find someone else to blame – is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to the danger."

"2017 was a year which saw the truth, objective empirical evidence-based truth more battered and abused than at any time in the history of our country at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the white house enshrine 'alternative facts' into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be called old fashioned falsehoods.

"Mr President, it is a testament to our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies," Flake said. "It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase 'enemy of the people,' that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of 'annihilating such individuals' who disagreed with the supreme leader."

"For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, Mr. President, our democracy will not last."

Flake will not be running for re-election in 2018, which gives him, a Republican, the freedom to speak out against Trump's bullshit. Too bad those seeking re-election can't do the same.


Categories: Crunknet

Semi truck fails to climb icy hill, then slides backwards and knocks over stop light

Wed, 2018-01-17 13:59

A woman in Texas provides exciting color commentary as cars and trucks struggle to make it over the crest of an icy incline in Texas. One semi makes a valiant effort, but it loses traction and slides back down the hill, bashing into a stop light.

Categories: Crunknet

Watch: KFC shows us how to make a Gravy Mary cocktail

Wed, 2018-01-17 13:19

I love gravy on chicken and potatoes, but in my cocktail? Not so sure, but I guess I'd try it. KFC's new marketing ploy is all about the gravy – and how it fits in behind the bar, offering us a few gravy cocktail recipes. This video shows us how to mix up a mean Gravy Mary. Yum?

Categories: Crunknet

A TLR inspired pencil sharpener

Wed, 2018-01-17 12:33

Finally a pencil sharpener I want on my desk. I rarely leave home without my Rolleiflex. This TLR shaped pencil sharpener is pretty damn cool.

Here is a short tribute to my Rollei.

Retro Camera Manual Pencil Sharpener Hand-Cranking via Amazon

Categories: Crunknet