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Brain candy for Happy Mutants

Last Build Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:24:32 PDT


Stuck horn on a tugboat keeps Everett, WA up all night

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:03:16 PDT


My sister couldn't sleep last night. started received messages early this morning about super loud horn or siren that was keeping folks awake on the hottest night of the year. The sound was thought to be coming somewhere from the waterfront.

We checked with the Port of Everett this morning and they issued the following apology…


We apologize for the prolonged horn noise at the Port last night. One of our customers has been doing some finishing work on a new ocean-going tug boat, and the horn malfunctioned. Our customer has assured us they have remedied the issue.

Please accept our sincere apologies on the noise, the time it took to figure out how to turn off the horn and the fact that it happened on the hottest day of the year so far.


Les Reardanz

CEO Port of Everett

So there is your answer. Glad we could help. Were gonna go take a nap now.

Via MyEverettNews

Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki's favorite books for young people

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:57:39 PDT


The following are pioneering animator and Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki's (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, etc.) top ten favorite books for young people:

1. The Borrowers -- Mary Norton

2. The Little Prince -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

3. Children of Noisy Village -- Astrid Lindgren

4. When Marnie Was There -- Joan G. Robinson

5. Swallows and Amazons -- Arthur Ransome

6. The Flying Classroom -- Erich Kästner

7. There Were Five of Us -- Karel Poláček

8. What the Neighbours Did, and Other Stories -- Ann Philippa Pearce

9. Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates -- Mary Mapes Dodge

10. The Secret Garden -- Frances Hodgson Burnett

"Hayao Miyazaki Picks His 50 Favorite Children’s Books" (via Kottke)

Norwegians fundraise to re-erect phallic rock formation

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:41:01 PDT


Concerned citizens are hoping to raise enough money to repair the phallic Trollpikken rock formation in southern Norway after suspected vandals apparently sliced off the head. Police are seeking tips on who chopped the tip. From The Guardian:

By Sunday more than 500 people had donated nearly 90,000 Norwegian kroner (£8,400) to fix the formation which is in Eigersund, south of Stavanger.

Kjetil Bentsen, an activist, told the public broadcaster NRK that he was convinced the Trollpikken would be rebuilt with donated money.

Scientists discover transparent frog

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:32:12 PDT


Scientists discovered this new species of "glass frog" in Ecuador's Amazon lowlands. Hyalinobatrachium yaku's belly is so transparent that you can clearly see its kidneys, bladder, and beating heart. From Science News:

Yaku means “water” in Kichwa, a language spoken in Ecuador and parts of Peru where H. yaku may also live. Glass frogs, like most amphibians, depend on streams. Egg clutches dangle on the underside of leaves, then hatch, and the tadpoles drop into the water below. But the frogs are threatened by pollution and habitat destruction, the researchers write. Oil extraction, which occurs in about 70 percent of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, and expanding mining activities are both concerns.

"A marvelous new glassfrog (Centrolenidae, Hyalinobatrachium) from Amazonian Ecuador" (ZooKeys)

This indistinct blob is supermassive star Betelgeuse

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:05:08 PDT


Imaged by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), this is the most detailed depiction yet of the enormous supergiant Betelgeuse, 600 light-years off in the constellation Orion and 1400 times the size of the sun.

The star is just about eight million years old, but is already on the verge of becoming a supernova. When that happens, the resulting explosion will be visible from Earth, even in broad daylight.

The star has been observed in many other wavelengths, particularly in the visible, infrared, and ultraviolet. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope astronomers discovered a vast plume of gas almost as large as our Solar System. Astronomers have also found a gigantic bubble that boils away on Betelgeuse’s surface. These features help to explain how the star is shedding gas and dust at tremendous rates (eso0927, eso1121). In this picture, ALMA observes the hot gas of the lower chromosphere of Betelgeuse at sub-millimeter wavelengths — where localised increased temperatures explain why it is not symmetric. Scientifically, ALMA can help us to understand the extended atmospheres of these hot, blazing stars.

Nintendo's SNES Classic will cost $80, comes with 21 games

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:00:38 PDT


Coming on September 29, the Super Nintendo Classic. It will cost $80 and include 21 built-in games, including Super Mario World, Earthbound, Final Fantasy III, Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, Donkey Kong Country, and Super Mario Kart.

From Ars Technica:

Unlike the NES Classic, which sold $10 controllers on top of the $60 base package, the SNES Classic comes packaged with two controllers. Even so, only five of the included titles include true simultaneous multiplayer gameplay, with a handful of others allowing for two players to alternate play. The Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro designed for the Wii and Wii U will also work on the SNES Classic Edition, much like its predecessor.

Of the 21 included titles, a full 14 were published by Nintendo itself. Three games from Capcom, two from Konami, and two from Square Enix round out the package.


Enjoy the pogo-ing mandolin player of The Stoneman Family (1960s)

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:49:34 PDT


The Stoneman Family was a lively, talented bluegrass-polka-surf band. "The combination of Donna Stoneman pogo-ing while playing the mandolin, and Ronnie Stoneman's generally dour expression while plucking the banjo, makes for a bizarro mix," says Paul of Weird Universe.

Watch a freak wave launch a body boarder 20 feet into the air

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:44:37 PDT


Jack Baker was bodyboarding at Sydney Australia's Cape Solander when a big backwash wave launched him into the sky. Fortunately, he suffered only from a burst lung and is now recovering.

"I even said to the photographer who was in the water: 'this backwash is going to kill someone.' As this wave came towards me, I took off and as I got in it was real deep, I was already going too fast, I attempted to eject hoping it would send me back through the wave," he told SurferToday.

"Instead of ejecting, I got smashed by the wave, and suddenly I was in the air just falling. I had already got kicked about so hard in the waves so as I came back down I was dizzy and I didn’t know whether I was in the water or up in the air. But when I hit the water that woke me up."


The classic 'Electronic Football' re-issue

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:37:24 PDT


Electronic Football is the only sportsball I've ever liked! This remake is pretty great!

The sounds, controls and rinky-dink electronic screen are back! I am sure I remember there being some kind of passing game in the original, but this running game kept me busy for an hour or so.

Relive the virtual excitement!

Classic Football Electronic Game via Amazon

Joni Mitchell sings “Both Sides Now” on the Mama Cass TV Show (1969)

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:31:37 PDT

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I didn't know Mama Cass Elliot had her own TV show. The first (and last episode) aired in 1969. One of her guests, Joni Mitchell, performed a wonderful version of her song “Both Sides Now.”

From Open Culture:

The Internet was an undreamable little dream in 1969, when the sole episode of The Mama Cass Television Show aired. The former singer of the Mamas and the Papas died five years later, presumably unaware that future generations would have knowledge of, let alone access to, her failed pilot. She may have described her variety show as “low key” to the Fremont, California Argus, but the guest list was padded with high wattage friends, including comedian Buddy Hackett, and singers Mary Travers and John Sebastian. Joni Mitchell, above, delivered an above-reproach performance of “Both Sides Now.”

From the same show, Mama Cass, Mary Travers, and Joni Mitchell sing 'I Shall Be Released': class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='970' height='576' src='' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'>

Killer funky synth-pop and slow burners from Death Cab for Cutie's Dave Depper

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:28:12 PDT


Last time I saw Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Dave Depper, we were at our dear friends' wedding dancing in a huge sweaty group and singing along to 1980s anthems by New Order and Pet Shop Boys. I mention that because Dave just released his stunning first solo album and there's a bit of that vintage synthpop vibe flowing through the record, titled "Emotional Freedom Technique." Not that this is a retro play; it's not. The record is a wholly contemporary affair even as Dave freely allows his influences, from 80s dancefloor jams to Prince's funky rhythms, ebb and flow through his songwriting. Emotional Freedom Technique blends nu-disco ass-shakers with lovely emo mix tape material and afterparty ambience. You'll dig it. Listen below and order here.

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Still my favorite way to smash garlic into little juicy bits

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:18:31 PDT


I've yet to find a hinged garlic press that I love. The ones I've tried are inefficient, fragile (especially the hinge, which inevitably fails), and not that easy to clean. I end up having to peel the unused garlic from the inside of the press, and my fingers stink for days. Everyone has their opinion about crushing garlic - my top choice is Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crusher, Press, and Mincer ($12). I've had it for over two years and I use it almost daily. (more…)

Yep, the SNES Classic is real and it is coming in September

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:56:57 PDT


When Nintendo suddenly canceled the NES Classic, the surprise hit toy of last Christmas, the roar of anguish and outrage matched any the Internet had seen. Insane! Idiocy! There was only one smart take on the matter: the company must have a SNES Classic up its sleeve, playing even more and better classic games. And that was of course the case, as that exact product was today officially announced.

The SNES Classic will hit store shelves in September, Nintendo says, and include 21 games—including the unreleased and legendary Star Fox 2. In Nintendo tradition, it will be sold out in about four minutes and then be available only on eBay from dodgy importers for many times the normal price.

Here's the game list:


What, no Pilotwings? Outrageous!

Twist off your zip ties, don't cut them

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:33:29 PDT


If you cut a zip-tie tail with scissors, it leaves a sharp-edged stub. In this video, you'll learn how to use pliers to twist of the tail, which creates a stub without a sharp tail.

I just tried it (above photo) and it works. On the left is twist method. On the right is the scissors method (cutting as flush to the catch as possible). The tail on the twisted zip tie feels like a smooth, melted lump of plastic. Very cool!

[via Make's Tips of the Week]

Get a better night's sleep on these memory foam pillows

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:19:26 PDT


If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.

Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your shape and provides ample nighttime support. For those with sensitive sinuses, its outer case is made from soft, hypoallergenic bamboo rayon that resists moisture, mold, and pesky dust mites. Each pillow compresses into a packable tube for easy carrying, and may be used comfortably without a pillow case.

These pillows are perfect for travel and home use alike, and this set of two is now $39.99.

Watch: Hangry drivers have standoff and block everyone else in Taco Bell drive-thru

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:00:37 PDT


A couple of bull-headed drivers have blocked each other in a Taco Bell lot, but neither one is willing to back up for the other. One of the stubborn drivers threatens to call the police. The big problem is that they are blocking everyone else from entering the drive-through lane (but at least it's good entertainment). After much yelling and honking, the show ends as the police arrive.

Origami lounge-chairs that flat-pack to the size of a briefcase

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:34:54 PDT


The Flux chair is a $130, 12lb "origami-style" polypropylene lounge chair designed by Douwe Jacobs; it sets up in minutes and is stable and lovely (there's also a $65 kids' version and a whole range of furnishings including a bar, coffee table, countertop, end-table, etc). (via Yanko Design)

Watch: Teenage girl falls out of ride at Six Flags, drops into crowd

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:26:09 PDT


A teenage girl fell out of a slow-moving Great Escape gondola at Six Flags in Lake George, NY over the weekend, and was dangling and screaming for at least 90 seconds, maybe more, before she dropped into a gathering crowd, to lots of cheers and applause.

A man ready to photograph his own family riding in another gondola caught this video. You can hear him shouting, “They’ll catch you! They’ll catch you, honey, go ahead!”

According to The Washington Post:

It was then that the girl plummeted to the ground, hitting a tree branch before being caught by several people below. The video showed onlookers cheering after the girl was caught and then the girl being carried away, limp.

The girl who fell was a 14-year-old park guest visiting from Greenwood, Del., according to a statement from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. She was treated by park emergency medical staff first, then taken to a local hospital and finally flown by helicopter to Albany Medical Center. She remains in stable condition with no serious injuries, police said.

A 47-year-old man visiting the park from Schenectady, N.Y., was also taken to a local hospital for a back injury he suffered as he tried to catch the girl, police said.

Accidents on rides at amusement parks in the United States are rare, with only one in 16 million. And luckily this one had a happy ending.

Australia announces plan to ban working cryptography at home and in the US, UK, New Zealand, and Canada

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:18:33 PDT


The Australian Attorney General and a key Australian minister have published a memo detailing the demand they plan on presenting to the next Five Eyes surveillance alliance meeting, which will be held next week in Ottawa. (more…)

Revealing an old carnival scam called "pricking the garter"

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:17:06 PDT


In this episode of Scam School, Brian Brushwood reveals the secret behind a crooked carnival game called "pricking the garter." In the game, the sucker is asked to place his finger in one of two loops in a rolled up belt. After the belt is unrolled, if the sucker's finger is still inside the loop, he wins. But he never wins because the carny is always in control of the outcome.

Al the inside jokes in Silicon Valley's opening title sequence

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:02:07 PDT


Silicon Valley is a family favorite. It really nails startup culture, and every episode seems to raise the stakes. The opening title sequence is a 10-second animation of the growth and collapse of different software companies in Silicon Valley. It seems to change from episode-to-episode. It's hard to see everything that's going on, but this guy has studied it closely and reported what he found.

Leaked transcript: US soldier and security advisor aghast at Trump's reckless Syrian strike

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:00:11 PDT


In April, Donald Trump ordered a massive strike against Syria to retaliate for an alleged chemical weapons attack against civilians, despite widely circulated US intelligence that said that no chemical weapons had been used. (more…)

How to motorcycle safely, mid-70s version

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:49:47 PDT


Nothing says MOTORCYCLE SAFETY like the Rockford files theme and a British accent.

This guy wrote a program to call scammers' phone lines 28 times a second

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:43:59 PDT


It's likely you've gotten calls from criminals who pose as IRS employees and threaten to imprison you if you don't pay them thousands of dollars. These crooks work in teams based in Indian call centers. They are scumbags of the lowest order, preying on seniors and immigrants through fear and intimidation. Here's a security developer who decided to fight back. He wrote a script that called one of these IRS scammers' phone banks 28 times a second, flooding their phone lines and making it impossible for them to ply their vile trade. It's fun to listen to the scammers curse at the programmer's recorded message. According to Twisted Sifter, he has launched something called Project Mayhem to continue his fight against these unscrupulous scammers." He is seeking Patreon donations to go after IRS scammers, tech support scammers, loan scammers, "you have won" scammers, and "family member in trouble" scammers. Here's a recording of revenge on a tech support scammer:

Republicans are the primary beneficiaries of gerrymandering

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:40:24 PDT


As the Supreme Court makes ready to rule on the blatant gerrymandering in Wisconsin, the AP has conducted a study using "a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage" to analyze "the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year" and report "four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones." (more…)

The $7 vertical ergonomic mouse is not awful

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 08:02:14 PDT

I suffer from mild RSI: a warning to stop, but one that goes away when I do stop. The trigger is using a mouse for extended periods. The alternatives for general everyday computer use aren't great for my work habits, which center on precise pointing and clicking, so I'm in the bad habit of mousing until the ache begins, stopping, then picking it right back up later. I'd never tried a vertical mouse in the past because my malfunction is mild, the ergonomic improvements aren't clear, and they tend to be expensive. But the OJA Wireless Vertical Ergonomic mouse is only $6.99 on Amazon, so I decided to give it an impulse-buy shot. I imagined it would be an absolutely terrible mouse, but expected that I could at least use it long enough to see if the enormous vertical wedge shape of it would be good for my hand. As it happened, this thing is probably good enough to keep, with only a couple of slightly annoying issues holding me back. From the design, it appears to be a knockoff of something by Logitech, with dark gray satin plastic, chrome trim on the mousewheel, and large dimensions all around. It's wireless (a provided USB dongle fits inside the mouse for storage) and charges via USB cable. There two thumb buttons in addition to the usual left, right and wheel buttons. There's a DPI switch and an a power toggle underneath. The photos on the Amazon page depict it with FCC and CE symbols that are not in fact present on the device. It is instead marked with the text "wireless charging the mouse game." It's OK. It's not awful. It's like the half-decent mouse you might find bundled with a cheap desktop computer. It doesn't track quite as nice as even the cheapest Logitech or Microsoft mice, and it doesn't physically glide quite as smoothly, either, but it's half their price and in the large and unusual "vertical" ergonomic format. Frankly, if you've been thinking of trying it, it's perfect in that role, as a stepping stone before committing to something like the $80 Evoluent 4. On the ergonomic front, it's a clear improvement for me, but it doesn't quite fit right in my small, Trumpesque hands: it's as if they formed it by having an average American man gently squeeze a blob of clay, then loaded the model into a 3D app and smoothed out all the nobbly bits. Note that it (and other inexpensive models) are not quite as vertical as the pricey Evoluent model, either, which is presumably patented and more thoroughly scienced. The problems: it takes a second to wake from sleep, and it sometimes just goes hayware. The former is just how things are, and not really a problem, but the latter is hard to figure out. Is it a battery power issue? A wireless interference issue? A USB dongle issue? It's not a killer by any means, but it happens often enough to annoy. It's fixed by plugging it in and using it wired, even for just a moment. If they get to me, I might try Anker's $20 vertical mouse -- a price point that's still cheap, but as with wine, seems to promise something more satisfying and robust. [...]

Millennials, women and college grads are most prolific library users

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 07:40:07 PDT


A Pew survey found that the majority of millennials have visited a public library this year, making them the most prolific library-using generation. An ALA spokesperson attributed this to the libraries' commitment to providing free, fast broadband and the ability to borrow devices such as tablets -- but the survey found that very few patrons use the libraries' apps. (more…)

A non-scientist's guide to reading scientific papers

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 07:28:04 PDT


Jennifer Raff -- a bioanthropologist and geneticist who researches and teaches at U Kansas and U Texas -- provides some excellent advice and context on how to read a scientific paper, from figuring out which papers and journals are worthy of your attention to understanding the paper in its wider context in the relevant field. (more…)

Theresa May and the Holy Grail

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 07:05:22 PDT


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's merciless mashup of the UK's bumbling pound-shop Thatcher with Monty Python's classic work of historical documentary is bound to infuriate the reactionary wing of the Pythons, but it brought a lasting smile to my face. (Thanks, Robbo!)