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Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:32:23 PDT


Facebook/Cambridge Analytica legal primer: 'Breach' of data? No. Trust? Yes.

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:19:27 PDT


The Cambridge Analytica scandal devouring Facebook may not have been a 'breach' of data, but it was a breach of trust.


Why did Facebook pitch in over $1 million to fight this CA privacy ballot initiative?

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:54:39 PDT


Facebook recently joined Google, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T and contributed over $1 million to a PAC fighting this California ballot initiative that would have let you opt out of data sharing with Cambridge Analytica.


Pornhub confirms Fortnite as their top searched video game

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:15:20 PDT


Fortnite is the most popular game to be searched about in Pornhub's online database of videos. I am not sure what that means, really. While I am enthusiastic about both forms of entertainment-art I find their intersection to be a bit confusing.

There are a lot of great stats and tables about what people are searching for, to answer their Fortnite related pornographic need.

Via PornHub:

The most popular Fortnite related searches include “hentai”, “battle royale”, “animation” and “strip”. Following some viral videos on YouTube, “try not to nut fornite” also became a popular search. “SFM” is a term often combined with game searches (see Overwatch Insights).


Ben Carson now blaming his own wife for the $31,000 dining set

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:17:40 PDT


Nothing like a husband who throws his own wife under the bus. And that's just what "The Honorable Ben Carson" (yes, take a look, his desk placard actually says that!) did when he explained to a House committee hearing today that his wife, Candy, was the one who bought the $31,000 mahogany dining set for his office without his knowledge.

“If it were up to me my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room, but at any rate, I invited my wife to come along and help me," the good doctor says, referring to redecorating his office.

He then says that the old dining set was dangerous, with nails sticking out of it, and needed to be replaced, so he was given a catalog to look at. "The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay, I made it clear that that just didn't seem right to me, and I left it with my wife."

And then it was the wifey who purchased the outrageously priced dining set, which he knew nothing about, because, well, he had so many other more important things to do. Wow, with husbands like that, who needs husbands?

Fantastic $13 set of accessories for using and cleaning your cast iron

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:05:22 PDT


These three tools are invaluable when cleaning up, or cooking with, your cast iron skillet.

This threesome of scraper, chainmail scrubber and a silicone hot-handle-holder is pretty great. I use all three of these tools frequently, and certainly paid more for them individually. The pot-handle and hard plastic scraper are wear items and will eventually be tossed, but the chainmail should outlast you.

Chainmail will not hurt your cast iron.

Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber XL 8x6, Cast-iron Cleaner + Silicone Hot Handle Holder via Amazon

Image via Amazon

New "Cobra Kai" trailer: the Karate Kid is a car salesman and Johnny is still a prick

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:43:41 PDT


Get him a body bag! Yeahhhhh!!!!

Update: There was previously a much longer new trailer but it appears YouTube Red Originals has now removed it.

Weird video of "ghost train" pulling into China railway station

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:18:55 PDT


This unbelievable video was reportedly captured earlier this month by CCTV cameras in Inner Mongolia's Baotou Railway Station. From Mysterious Universe:

Is this a video of a ghost train? The comments run the gamut from definitely ghost train to an image from a parallel universe to a secret military cloaking train to a reflection in a window of a nearby train to a hoax. The Daily Express online says the last scenario is supported by debunker Scott Brando, who claims it’s a merger of two videos and dates back at least to 2012 to a railway station in not the Baotou Railway Station in Inner Mongolia but the Polezhaevskaya station in Moscow.

Marx's birthplace celebrates his bicentennial with Communist traffic-lights

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:15:25 PDT


Karl Marx was born in the German city of Trier 200 years ago and lived there until he was 17; to celebrate his bicentennial, the city has installed a Marx-themed pedestrian signal light designed by Johannes Kolz, with another to come. (more…)

A barista champ's latte art doesn't come any cuter than this

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:07:49 PDT


Latte artist and barista champ Jaewon Choi at OUTRO NYC creates cute latte pop art that looks like it belongs on someone's wall or T-shirt rather than inside their coffee cup. Going beyond your typical coffee foam designs, Choi combines cute with color, as in his green Matcha teddy bear, red velvet Little Red Riding Hood, and purple Taro bunnies. This video was made by Mashable. (image) (image) (image)

Chinese surveillance/tech giant Alibaba joins ALEC, will start co-authoring US legislation

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:07:23 PDT


The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a big-business think-tank that authors "model legislation" at the local, state and national level that benefits corporations at the expense of everyday people; their greatest hits make for scary reading -- you can thank ALEC for ag-gag laws, stand-your-ground laws, private prisons, bans on municipal ISPs, killing Obamacare and jailing pipeline protesters. (more…)

100,000 payphones still haunt the United States

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 11:00:53 PDT


You may not have noticed, what with there being a cellphone in pocket of almost all Americans, but according to CNN, there's still 100,000 payphone in the United States. This is great news for Maroon 5, superheroes looking for a place to change and 1930s detectives calling into to their office to talk to a sassy secretary.

For those of you too young to remember, before cellphones and smartphones were ubiquitous, staying in touch when you were out and about meant having to ask your bartender to use her phone or finding a payphone. Opting for the latter meant walking, maybe, a few blocks to find a bank of payphones or a phone booth. According to CNN, there were still two million payphones as late as 1999. Just under two decades later, that number has shrunk down to 100,000. As payphone became less profitable, the appeal for large telecoms to spend money on their upkeep lost its luster. Nowadays, when you see a payphone in the wild, it's likely owned by a smaller company with lower expectations of what an acceptable margin of profitability looks like.

That anyone is interested in maintaining a network of payphone in operation is a lifeline to those who can't afford to own a mobile phone, who's smartphone ran out of juice at the worst possible time and during disasters. In the wake of an major earthquake or other major regional event, cellphone networks can often lock up from too many people attempting to access the system at the same time. Payphones? They just keep on keeping on.

Image via Wikipedia


Mysterious sea monster photographed on Georgia shore

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:56:52 PDT


Over the weekend, Jeff Warren and his family spotted this mysterious sea monster washed up on the shore of the Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge near Darien, Georgia. It is either:

• Altamaha-ha (aka Alty), a cryptid, said to live near the mouth of the Altamaha river, that reportedly looks very similar to what's in the photo

• A frilled shark, according to a marine science educator at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center

• A basking shark, in the opinion of a Savannah State University marine scientist

• Or a hoax, according to scientists at Georgia Southern University.

Either way, the story ends well.

“My son, who is twelve, thinks it is the child of the legendary Altamaha-ha and has now decided he wants to be a marine biologist,” Warren said.

(Savannah Morning News)

The future legal shenanigans that will shift liability for pedestrian fatalities involving self-driving Ubers

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:52:00 PDT


This week, a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona, the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle; in his analysis of the event, Charlie Stross notes that Arizona's laws treat corporations that kill people with considerably more forbearance than humans who do so, and proposes that in the near future, every self-driving car will be owned by a special-purpose corporation that insulates its owner from liability. (more…)

Alabama Sheriff legally appropriated $750K from prison meal budgets to build himself a beach house, locked up his whistleblowing gardener

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:39:57 PDT


Etowah, Alabama County Sheriff Todd Entrekin took advantage of a Great-Depression-era rule that lets the sheriff pocket any "excess" from the budget for prisoner meals (provided he makes up any shortfall from his own finances) and used $750,000 that had been allocated to feed prisoners to build himself a luxury beach house. When his gardener tipped off a Birmingham News reporter, the gardener was locked up in the Sheriff's jail on mysterious drug charges. (more…)

Watch the new trailer for Mr. Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:14:02 PDT


Today Mr. Rogers would have turned 90, and to celebrate, here's the trailer for the upcoming Mr. Rogers documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor.

Via EW:

From Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom), the documentary explores Rogers’ message of love and compassion. As the trailer reminds us, that includes lessons about death, assassination, divorce, and about caring for and accepting our neighbors. “Children have very deep feelings, just the way everybody does,” Rogers explains in the trailer.

The doc comes to theaters June 8.

1.7 million viewers tuned into Bernie Sanders' Inequality Town Hall webcast

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:10:24 PDT


Back in January, a million people tuned in to Bernie Sanders' town hall on universal health-care; yesterday, 1.7 million people tuned in to watch Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore, and a panel of experts discuss inequality. (more…)

How The Damned wrote and recorded New Rose

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 10:00:45 PDT


The Damned are responsible for a number of ear worms that routinely refuse to leave me alone. Formed the same year as I was born, they were raw, angry and too much fun. New Rose has been on constant rotation in my head, both as part of my internal soundtrack and while playing on my headphones for close to three decades. So, you can imagine my delight to find that The Guardian recently took a deep dive into how The Damned got together, wrote and recorded New Rose.

It's a longer read, but a good one.

Machine-learning-based image classifier can tell when the bus and bike-lanes are illegally obstructed

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:57:46 PDT


New York's cyclists and bus-riders are certain they're being slowed and endangered by an epidemic of illegal lane-obstructions from delivery vehicles, taxis and Ubers, but policymakers have refused to do anything about it, saying that the evidence is all anaecdotal. (more…)

Make your Keurig as messy as a French press and as tasty as motel drip coffee with this reusable plastic k-cup

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:53:37 PDT


After several attempts to get something drinkable out of the Ekobrew Classic Reusable Filter, I figured it out: just grind it finer than the normal stuff in a k-cup and tamp it down a bit. The results were everything I dreamed of and was promised: a k-cup that must be laboriously cleaned after every use, a return to the messy and time-consuming rituals of coffee production that Keurig machines otherwise obviate, and a brew that somehow makes a $20-a-bag Kona blend taste like Maxwell House.

I'd say it's the worst of every world, but the the resulting coffee is still better than a lot of k-cup brews. I suppose the appeal is that I'm not putting k-cups into the trash every day. But that seems a trifling greenwashy thing to begin with that surely has no impact on the general environmental failings associated with coffee consumption. I admit this is a half-brewed thought but in any case I'm going to suggest you just get an Aeropress [Amazon].

BEFORE: I found the worst K-Cup coffee

Billionaire Cartier boss returns from fishing holiday gripped with terror that the poors are going to start building guillotines

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:44:22 PDT


Tobacco heir Johann Rupert is worth $7.5B; he's head of Cartier, Montblanc, Chloe and other luxury goods labels, having returned to the helm of his Richemont holding company after a year-long fly-fishing sabbatical; in a speech to the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco he revealed that he no longer sleeps at night because he is worried that "envy, hatred and social warfare" will destabilize the world. (more…)

Why you can't flick a tick

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:22:27 PDT


Why can't you flick a tick off you or your pet's skin? The answer is in the tick's mouth that's covered with hooks evolved so the tick can hang on for a several day feast of delicious blood. From KQED's Deep Look:

...A tick digs in using two sets of hooks. Each set looks like a hand with three hooked fingers. The hooks dig in and wriggle into the skin. Then these “hands” bend in unison to perform approximately half-a-dozen breaststrokes that pull skin out of the way so the tick can push in a long stubby part called the hypostome.

“It’s almost like swimming into the skin,” said Dania Richter, a biologist at the Technische Universität Braunschweig in Germany, who has studied the mechanism closely. “By bending the hooks it’s engaging the skin. It’s pulling the skin when it retracts.”



Why no one has made a tool to turn off Facebook oversharing

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:15:21 PDT


The debate over whether Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of tens of millions of Facebook profiles was a "breach" turns on the question of whether Cambridge Analytica did anything wrong, by Facebook's own policies. (more…)

FBI on the scene where legendary Civil War treasure of $54 million in gold may be buried

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:14:33 PDT


In June 1863, a Union shipment of 52 bars of gold now worth $54 million was said to be lost near Dents Run, Pennsylvania. Over the years, many treasure hunters have tried to locate the cache but the area is state land and it's illegal to dig without permission. Apparently though, FBI agents and state officials were just seen digging in the area. From CNN:

FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski wouldn't say what the agency was doing there, only that FBI personnel were "carrying out court-authorized law enforcement activity in Elk County." She declined further comment to CNN.

But WJAC says their cameras spotted the owners of Finders Keepers USA, a Pennsylvania-based lost treasure recovery service, last Tuesday at the site some 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Finders Keepers has long been interested in the rumored Dents Run gold. In a post on the Finders Keepers site, founder Dennis Parada says he found a map of the treasure in the 1970s and searched the area unsuccessfully with metal detectors until 2004, when he uncovered a trove of Civil War-era artifacts that they turned over to the state.

"Each time we returned to the site we found more evidence that proved our claim. We found a bullet shell, knifes, animal traps, zinc mason jar lid, tin cans, bones (human or animal), whiskey bottle, camp fire pit, and a lot more ..." Parada wrote. He also claimed his high-powered metal detectors located "a large metal object" 8 to 10 feet underground.

Grill mats are excellent for cooking vegetables on an outdoor grill

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 09:00:43 PDT


I never cease to be amazed when I put one of these flimsy, plastic-feeling mats on my charcoal grill to cook chopped vegetables. Somehow, it withstands the heat of the red hot coals just inches below. They are great for grilling corn, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, etc. I pour a little olive oil on the mat and salt to taste. I bought a 4-pack of mats last year for $8 on Amazon and all four mats are working perfectly after many uses. I now consider them an essential part of my grilling equipment now.

Once-a-day birth control pills for men are one step closer to being a thing

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:03:40 PDT


I'm getting a vasectomy this summer. I'm 42 years old and neither I nor my wife want kids. It's time--at least for me. I know that going under the knife isn't the right choice for a lot of guys. The good news is that, according to Gizmodo, there's been a promising development in the area of male birth control.

It seems that research teams at UCLA and the University of Washington may have come up with a drug that's just as effective as the pills that many women have been popping on a daily basis for years. The drug compound, called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU) could allow men to take responsibility for themselves and their partners beyond what a condom can offer:

Researchers gave DMAU to a hundred healthy adult volunteers from the ages of 18 to 50. Volunteers were given one of three varying doses of DMAU, and in one of two different formulations, in a capsule with either castor oil or powder. Five volunteers from each dosing group were randomized to receive a control placebo as well. The trial lasted for about a month, with each volunteer being told to take a daily pill with food. Eighty-three men finished the entire regimen.

By experiment’s end, the volunteers who took DMAU experienced a drop in their levels of testosterone and two other hormones involved in producing sperm, which was starkest in those who took the highest dose.

Best of all, those involved in the DMAU study suffered no adverse effects--at least in the short-term. Women have done most of the heavy lifting in the area of birth control for years. Should a one-a-day pill be released for dudes to swallow and kill their spunk, there'll be no excuse not to our part.

Image via Wikipiedia


Brothers Homer and Langley Collyer filled their Harlem townhouse with 140 tons of junk

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:02:27 PDT


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In the 1930s, brothers Homer and Langley Collyer withdrew from society and began to fill their Manhattan brownstone with newspapers, furniture, musical instruments, and assorted junk. By 1947, when Homer died, the house was crammed with 140 tons of rubbish, and Langley had gone missing. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the strange, sad story of the Hermits of Harlem.

We'll also buy a bit of Finland and puzzle over a banker's misfortune.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

Parawormal activity

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 07:46:11 PDT


This video, posted by "Ghost Worm," shows a mysterious myriapod suddenly leaping onto a countertop late at night. The spooky infra-red footage gives the whole thing a "paranormal activity"-esque atmosphere, but I'm quite certain someone just set up the camera and threw the worm in front of it. [via]

Just because Cambridge Analytica tells its customers it can sway elections, it doesn't follow that they're any good at it

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 07:38:26 PDT


Unilever founder John Wanamaker famously said, "I know that half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. My only problem is that I don’t know which half." It's an odd testament to the power of advertising, an industry whose executives are incredibly effective at selling their services to other executives, even if they can't prove they're any good at selling their customers' products to the public. (more…)

The last male white rhino in the world has died

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 07:36:32 PDT


The last male white Rhino in the world has died at 45 years of age.

The rhino, named Sudan, had been suffering from age-related ill-health for some time, according to AFP.

During the 1970s and 1980s the white rhino was damn near wiped out in Africa, thanks to the high demand of its horn for use in dagger handles in parts of Yemen and as a medicinal ingredient in China. Sudan's death all but cinches the death of the white rhino sub-species. Early in the new millennium, the species was nearly obliterated in the wild, as the few remaining white rhinos, numbering perhaps 20 to 30, were killed in the crossfire of the First Congo War, among other conflicts, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

With Sudan's passing, you'd think that the fate of the white rhino would be cinched. And you'd be right--theoretically.

While there are no more male specimens of the species, thanks to us, a few females remain. It's hoped that it may still be possible to use Sudan's genetic material to keep the species going:

"Sudan was the last northern white rhino that was born in the wild. His death is a cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him," said Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at the Dvur Kralove Zoo.

"But we should not give up. We must take advantage of the unique situation in which cellular technologies are utilized for conservation of critically endangered species. It may sound unbelievable, but thanks to the newly developed techniques even Sudan could still have an offspring."

Image: Coralie - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

RIP Anna Campbell, a British woman who joined an all-woman Kurdish Protection Unit in Syria

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:55:25 PDT


Anna Campbell, from Lewes, England, has died fighting in the Kurdish Women's Protection Units ("YPJ") in Syria; she was likely killed by a Turkish airstrike. She was 26. (more…)