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Brain candy for Happy Mutants

Last Build Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:37:30 PDT


Cool Johnny Cash guitar trick with a playing card

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:37:30 PDT


In this short video, you'll learn how to achieve Johnny Cash's cool textured, rhythmic strumming sound with a playing card.

Maker Update: giant fake gold bricks and Overwatch animatronics

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:25:56 PDT


This week on Maker Update: a servo robot puppet, Raspbian moves to Stretch, a YouTube Live camera, giant gold bricks, trauma shears, and pouring your own knobs. This week’s Cool Tool is a pair of Fluoride Coated Medical Shears.

During WW II two Americans escaped the Japanese by sailing 3,000 miles in a wooden fishing boat

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:11:06 PDT


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After Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941, two American servicemen hatched a desperate plan to sail 3,000 miles to Allied Australia in a 20-foot wooden fishing boat. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll join Rocky Gause and William Osborne as they struggle to avoid the Japanese and reach safety.

We'll also tell time in Casablanca and puzzle over a towing fatality.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

Legal California weed could lead to public banking

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 07:59:15 PDT


Famously, federally insured banks and credit-unions won't take deposits from the marijuana industry, even in states where marijuana sales have been legalized; this leaves the weed industry dealing all in cash, from safes in the basement to sacks of money delivered to the tax-office by armored car. (more…)

Jury would not convict white militiamen who aimed guns at federal law enforcement officers

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 07:28:43 PDT


Less than a year after Ammon Bundy and his terrorist pals were found not guilty for their takeover of Oregon's Malheur Federal Wildlife Reserve (which included a fatal shootout four terrorist pals of Cliven Bundy have been exonerated by a Nevada jury for their 2014 standoff in which they insisted -- at gunpoint -- on the right to graze their private cattle on public lands. (more…)

Serpstat is the only SEO tool you need

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 07:00:50 PDT


Top-performing content doesn’t come from pure inspiration. So how do you get the maximum number of eyeballs to see your marketing copy? By analyzing the impact of the keywords within. Serpstat does this all for you. It can monitor up to 200 keywords in your projects, across 10 total domains. They keep track of the top 100 international Google search results for every keyword in their database, and provide a single dashboard to perform detailed page audits and backlink analysis.

By collecting this much data, Serpstat offers critical insight about competitors in your niche. It generates detailed reports, and offers an array of data visualization tools to help you better understand where your SEO efforts need work. All of this is to say, Serpstat is a really good, centralized SEO solution, and you can get it here for $34.99.

Local council requires Grenfell survivors to bid against each other for new homes

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 06:57:45 PDT


It's been more than two months since a deadly blaze in Kensington, London -- the richest borough in the UK -- killed at least 80 people when the decorative cladding installed to make the building look nicer to rich people in nearby buildings caused the building to go up like a matchstick. (more…)

The KLF's book signing rules of engagement

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:26:39 PDT


The KLF is back. You will follow the instructions, or you will not get your book signed.

They also welcome volunteers to the Dark Ages.

Do not boil your underwear in hotel kettles

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 18:19:49 PDT


You know those "amazing household tips" where you descale showerheads with vinegar and a sandwich bag, or lift carpet indentations with ice cubes, or whatever? Well, I've just found out that a common one in Australia, allegedly, is "wash your underwear in hotel kettles." I honestly don't know if I believe it, but Gizmodo Australia claims it is a thing and, if it is, could you please not?

I reached out to some experts on the matter to find out if the simple fact the underwear is literally boiling means this actually a safe thing to do, or nah.

Dr Heather Hendrickson is a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences at the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at Massey University in Aukland.

She knows what she's talking about.

"It is super super super super gross," Dr Hendrickson says. "Please tell your friend to knock it off! Boil the water and pour it into the sink for washing items. Don't put your dirty underwear into the kettle!"

Australia! Explain yourself!

Justice Department to downsize scope of warrant for DreamHost's user data on anti-Trump site Disruptj20

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:38:53 PDT


The Justice Department will scale back a very broad request for data connected to an anti-Trump website, after accusations the demand violated the free speech rights of politically engaged citizens.


Trump Afghanistan plan? More air strikes likely, and training Afghan air force

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:19:40 PDT


President Donald Trump's speech on military policy in Afghanistan didn't provide much in the way of specifics about troop numbers or other measures of force commitment or our long-term goals. All that vagueness led to tea-leaf-reading today. Reuters spoke with the top general of the U.S. Air Force, and learned the USAF may intensify air strikes in Afghanistan and expand training of the Afghan air force.


Gook is a movie that explores LA's Korean and black communities in the Rodney King era

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:17:45 PDT


Director Justin Chon’s new award-winning Sundance film Gook is hit theaters nationwide on August 18th. The film takes place during the time of the Rodney King riots in LA and tells the story of how people within the black and Korean communities were affected. Mp>Korean brothers Eli (played by Chon himself) and Daniel struggle to keep their family-owned shoe-store open in an area of town that is unwelcoming to them. An 11 year old black girl named Kamilla forms a friendship with Eli and Daniel who treat her like family despite her older brother’s warnings to stay away from them. Kamilla’s role in the film represents a bridge between the two struggling communities. The relationships between Eli, Daniel, and Kamilla mirror the chaos of South Central Los Angeles as riots break out and tensions rise between black and Korean communities. While the premise of the film may seem daunting, humor and exceptional acting balance the seriousness of the movie and create a very authentic experience.

In a Q and A with Ava DuVernay that followed the screening we attended, Chon explained that his personal life and upbringing directly influenced the plot. Chon felt driven to share this largely untold story because of his personal connection to this devastating time in history. The 25th anniversary of the riots just took place, yet racism and police brutality are still a major problem within our society, which makes the film even more powerful. Chon said “it was now or never” when asked about why he made the film. When asked about his choice of the title - Gook - which means “country” in Korean, but is predominantly used as a racial slur against Asian immigrants, Chon responded by saying that “history cannot be erased.” While viewers may be uncomfortable asking for this ticket at the box office, the point in using such a shocking title is to remind people why it is important to fight against discrimination and racism.

The black and white film was edited using Adobe Creative Cloud. Besides the amazing acting and writing, the cinematography was outstanding; everyone who had a part in making this film is someone to look out for. We were truly blown away by this film and highly recommend it.

Trump enraged that McConnell won't 'protect' him from Russia investigations: NYT

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:15:53 PDT


Buried in the New York Times' extraordinary piece on how Mitch McConnell, Senate GOP leader, privately doubts whether President Donald Trump can salvage his administration? This amazing detail that sure doesn't make Trump look innocent on Russia and corruption.


Large shipment of Trump ecstasy pills seized in Germany

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 14:45:28 PDT


"About 5,000 carrot-coloured ecstasy tablets in the shape of Donald Trump's head have been seized by German police in the north-western city of Osnabruck," reports the BBC.

Police in Germany say the pills and a large amount of cash were found during a search of the vehicle driven by the two suspects and that the drugs have a sales value of nearly $47,000 (€40,000; £37,000). One side of the tablets shows Mr Trump's face and exuberant hairstyle while the president's surname is written on the reverse.



5,000 orange ecstasy tablets shaped like Trump's head seized by German police

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:57:55 PDT


Make America MDMA again.


Own a jar of eclipse soil, "darkened by the moon", for only $1,029

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:29:15 PDT


The totality of 2017's solar eclipse plunged perhaps 200,000 square miles of America into darkness, but don't be fooled! That soil's worth staggering amounts of money! You can even finance your purchase, through eBay.
This is a Jar of soil from the area of greatest duration of the eclipse in Carbondale Illinois. This dirt seen total darkness as the moon traveled in front of the sun (2 minutes and 40 seconds). Plant your special seeds in this dirt and let the magic begin. Ok seriously, it's just dirt, but it is everything I said it is. Hey, if nothing else help a guy out I need new tires for my wife's car ;-) Seriously, I mean it!!!

Please clap: it's how Medium writers are going to be paid

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:57:34 PDT


Medium, the oft-pivoting publisher and platform, recently introduced an alarmingly twee new metric: "claps". If you like an article, you can "clap" for it, or as one might like to say, "give it the clap." And now The Verge reports that they'll be paying writers on the basis of how many claps they get.

A couple weeks ago, Medium replaced its “recommend” feature — a little heart button at the end of each article — with a “clap” button that you can click as many times as you want (much like how Periscope lets you send broadcasters an infinite number of hearts). The site wants people to send authors claps to show how much they enjoy reading each article.

Now, those claps are actually going to mean something. Medium pays authors by dividing up every individual subscriber’s fee between the different articles they’ve read that month. But rather than doing an even division between articles, Medium will weight payments toward whichever articles a subscriber gives the most claps to. It’s not clear exactly how much each individual clap tips the scale, but you can be sure that writers will be asking readers to click that button.

It’s a pretty strange way to implement payments, since it relies on a really arbitrary metric that individual subscribers might use in really different and inconsistent ways.

Medium should introduce a negative counterpart to "clap" called "slap."

Steven Mnuchin's wife makes fun of Instagram followers for not being as rich as she is

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:31:06 PDT


Mind-bogglingly wealthy Louise Linton, a Scottish actress, "perilous journeyer to the heart of Africa," and wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, posted a photo on Instagram of herself and her husband disembarking from a US Gov't jet. Her caption read:

"Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa."

One Instagram commenter said "Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable." Another wrote: "Please don't tag your Hermes scarf. Distasteful."

Linton replied:

cute!😘 Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I'm pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day "trip" than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you'd be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.💪😘 You're adorably out of touch.😍 Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. I know you're mad but deep down you'er really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn't going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity [sic] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It's fab!

Soon after the exchange went viral Ms. Linton set her Instagram account to private.

Total Eclipse of the Pug

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:23:49 PDT


Best solar eclipse 2017 video ever.


Candidate Trump's racism strategy is failing President Trump

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 09:31:14 PDT


When Trump was on the campaign trail, he had a surefire racism strategy: he'd say something horribly racist ("Mexicans are rapists") then refuse to back down (giving comfort to overt racists), then finally back down a little (giving comfort to closet racists), then complain that the press wouldn't accept his apology (reinforcing his point that the media was unfair to him and pleasing his whole base). -

Giant jigsaw puzzle took 9 months to complete - watch a timelapse

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 09:30:58 PDT


Andre F. completes a 33,600 piece jigsaw puzzle called "Wildlife" by Educa. Dimension of the finished puzzle: 224.41 x 61.81 in. He spent a lot of time just turning the pieces right side up!



What’s wrong with startup culture: A video

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 09:11:48 PDT


Dan Lyons, a former tech journalist who wrote a funny blog years ago called "Fake Steve Jobs" and wrote one of the best episodes of HBO's Silicon Valley ("White Hat/Black Hat") gave a funny 20-minute talk about his horrible experience in a start-up.

From YouTube description:

When he lost his job at Newsweek, Lyons - who had long reported on Silicon Valley companies - accepted an offer from HubSpot, a red-hot Boston startup, as a "marketing fellow". Watch the talk to learn what happened next.

The Trump family's holidays and business trips have used up the entire Secret Service budget

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 09:05:30 PDT


By the end of the year, Trump and his family will have spent more of the Secret Service's budget than the Obama administration spent in eight years -- enough to exhaust the Secret Service's entire budget for the year and drive 500 Secret Security agents to quit their jobs in disgust. (more…)

Watch ants shoot acid at a person's hand

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 08:38:29 PDT


Here's an amazing video of ants covering someone's hand, spraying acid up towards the other hand that is hovering over them. The amount of acid shooting up is incredible, coming from such tiny creatures. They are probably defending themselves from what they perceive as a threat.

According to a 2014 article in Daily Mail, "The formic acid is not harmful to humans and has the same odour as vinegar. However, it is enough to scare off larger predators such as woodpeckers and jay birds, who could wreak havoc on an ant nest."

The five stages of margarine grief

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 08:28:32 PDT


[via Crappy Off Brands]

The far right has its own web, but what use is a site no-one will serve?

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 08:19:02 PDT


After Charlottesville and the murder of Heather Heyer, hitherto Nazi-friendly internet companies have found their boots and their banhammers. The angry right has for some time anticipated this eventuality, and colonized or established replicas of key services and platforms. 8chan, Voat and Gab are the most well-known examples, respectively resembling 4chan, Reddit and Twitter. Adi Robertson writes that the internet's plumbing, the world of domain name registrars and load mitigation, will be harder to replicate. Why the alt-right can’t build an alt-internet.

Even if such a registrar could ignore bad PR, activists could still lodge complaints with the registries, which ultimately control access to domains. There are ways to bypass ICANN entirely. A site could use an alternative domain name system like Namecoin, for instance. It could advertise a numerical IP address rather than a link. The Daily Stormer set up shop on the free and decentralized Tor network, operating on the so-called dark web. But at that point, you’re not just independent, you’re effectively walled off from the normal internet. ... Far-right sites and services want to be real alternatives to their mainstream counterparts, not just enclaves for true believers.

Whatever is taken from them may also be taken from you.

Calgary airport regrets converting disabled parking spaces into "Lexus only" parking spaces

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 08:06:01 PDT


The Calgary airport authority has apologised for a botched marketing campaign in which it sold Lexus on the idea of designating some of its parking places as "Lexus only" and then, unbeknownst to the car company, used disabled parking spots for the purpose (presumably, they were luxuriously spacious). (more…)

Ali Alamedy's startlingly detailed dioramas

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 07:53:02 PDT


Enjoy this video of an Iraqi artist's intricate and realistic dioramas, depicting city scenes from around the world, crafted in exile: "When I tried to make a tiny bellows for the old camera, it had to be very very small. Each fold less than a millimeter thick, and I needed about 124 folds."

It's presented by Veena Rao at The New York Times.

Mr. Alamedy was born in Karbala, Iraq, in 1982, during the Iraq-Iran war. At the time, his father was imprisoned under Saddam Hussein for political reasons, and Mr. Alamedy wasn’t able to meet him until he was 9 years old. His mother taught him to read at a young age and reading quickly became his favorite hobby, as well as a way to escape to calmer and more secure places. Mr. Alamedy credits the novels he read as a primary reason he started building miniatures, “to recreate some of those scenes just as I had imagined them to be in my childhood.”

A (flawed) troll-detection tool maps America's most and least toxic places

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 07:50:46 PDT


The Perspective API (previously) is a tool from Google spinoff Jigsaw (previously) that automatically rates comments for their "toxicity" -- a fraught business that catches a lot of dolphins in its tuna net. (more…)

Researchers can take over domestic and industrial robots to spy and maim

Tue, 22 Aug 2017 07:41:49 PDT


This week at Singapore's Hack in the Box conference, researchers Lucas Apa and Cesar Cerrudo from the Argentinian security research company IOActive will present their findings on the defects in humanoid domestic robots from UBTech and Softbank and industrial robot arms from Universal Robots; they're building on research published in March in which they released incomplete findings in order to give vendors a chance to patch the vulnerabilities they discovered. (more…)