Monday, 24 April

13:00 EDT

How to make a mallet from milk jugs [Boing Boing]

Peter Brown made a serviceable mallet from melted down plastic wood jugs.

HDPE is the plastic used in many household containers including gallon sized milk jugs. I melt down about 7 milk jugs and 3 powdered lemonade containers to get enough HDPE to make my mallet head.

The handle of the mallet is made from a cherry board and adds a nice warm contrast to the plastic! This mallet packs a punch and is quite heavy given it smaller size!

Watch: nature documentaries are phony [Boing Boing]

Nature documentaries: the sound is fake, the scenes are concocted, some of the animals are computer animations, and the music is emotionally manipulative. But that's the only way we will sit through them, says Simon Cade, host and creator of this explainer video.

Why magicians should never snap their fingers as part of a trick [Boing Boing]

Andy from The Jerx (previously) continues to develop the theory of "audience-centered magic" with an excellent post on the deficiencies of snapping one's fingers to mark the moment at which some magic effect is meant to be happening. (more…)

Muji is selling a hut [Boing Boing]

Every time I go to a Muji store I load up on these fat little newsprint notepads:

They cost just $1.25. I bought 10 when I was at JFK a couple of weeks ago. I've also bought a bunch of other Muji items, because they are high quality and reasonably priced. Now Muji has announced that it is going to sell a Muji Hut. It'll cost $28,000 (which includes costs of materials needed for construction, and operating costs of the construction contractor.) and will be sold in Japan only.

Japan secretly funneled hundreds of millions to the NSA, breaking its own laws [Boing Boing]

The Intercept publishes a previously-unseen set of Snowden docs detailing more than $500,000,000 worth of secret payments by the Japanese government to the NSA, in exchange for access to the NSA's specialized surveillance capabilities, in likely contravention of Japanese privacy law (the secrecy of the program means that the legality was never debated, so no one is sure whether it broke the law). (more…)

Intel's Optane Memory Makes Cheap Hard Drives as Fast as Expensive SSDs [Lifehacker]

It isn’t only the junk processor that makes a really cheap computer slow. Or the memory or the video card (or lack of video card). The primary reason your cheap laptop loudly chugs along at glacial speeds is because of the hard drive. Cheap laptops use cheap hard disk drives, which are much slower than the solid state…

Read more...

Unroll.me, the Email Unsubscription Service, Has Been Collecting and Selling Your Data [Lifehacker]

Yesterday, The New York Times went deep into some of Uber’s shady business practices. In the article, one small section revealed that one service we’ve talked about extensively over the years, Unroll.me, has been mining and selling off your email data, and Uber used that data to gain intelligence on Lyft.

Read more...

Think of Your Job Interview as a Performance and Rehearse It [Lifehacker]

You can have the tightest resume and the most impressive work history, but if you come across as awkward or unpleasant in a job interview, you’ll hurt your chances. For this reason, it might help to think of it as a performance.

Read more...

Here's the First Discount of the Year On Pizzacraft's 700° Outdoor Pizza Oven [Lifehacker]

The propane-powered Pizzacraft Pizzeria Pronto pizza oven is ideal for backyard barbecues and tailgates, and Amazon’s taking a whopping $94 off today.

Read more...

Why FOMO Is Actually Social Anxiety and What You Should Do About It [Lifehacker]

You’re probably rolling your eyes at this point when you hear the term FOMO (fear of missing out), but bear with me because it turns out that FOMO isn’t about fear of missing information. It’s about feeling anxious that you’re missing out on bonding time with your social group. Here’s what to do about that anxiety.

Read more...

Some of the Biggest Economies Aren't a Big User Of Social Media [Slashdot]

From a report: Only 37 percent of Germans use social media, according to a new Pew survey, a surprising figure given the fact that Germany is the world's fourth-largest economy by GDP, according to the World Economic Forum. Similar patterns follow for Japan, France and Italy, ranked 3rd, 6th and 8th in largest economy by GDP.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

No Longer a Dream: Silicon Valley Takes On the Flying Car [Slashdot]

Last year, Bloomberg reported that Google co-founder Larry Page had put money in two "flying car" companies. One of those companies, Kitty Hawk, has published the first video of its prototype aircraft. From a report on The Verge: The company describes the Kitty Hawk Flyer as an "all-electric aircraft" that is designed to operate over water and doesn't require a pilot's license to fly. Kitty Hawk promises people will be able to learn to fly the Flyer "in minutes." A consumer version will be available by the end of this year, the company says. The video is part commercial and part test footage, starting with a lakeside conversation between friends about using the Flyer to meet up before switching to what The New York Times says are shots of an aerospace engineer operating the craft in Northern California.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Evidence for the History of Jesus [NeuroLogica Blog]

Papyrus-Bodmer-VIIIDid a man named Jesus from Nazareth exist in Judea around 2000 years ago proclaiming to be some kind of prophet? Of course this is a controversial question because of the massive implications for one of the world’s major religions.

I do find it interesting to explore a basic factual question that is embedded in an intense ideological issue. It is a good way to explore what I think are the more interesting questions – the power of motivated reasoning, and how do we know anything historical.

I will also state that, even though this is not an atheist blog, I make no secret of the fact that I am an agnostic/atheist. I don’t think the historicity question has significant implications for atheism because it is entirely possible that the person Jesus existed but that Christian mythology is still just that, mythology. There were many prophets walking around the Middle East at that time. That one of them spawned a following that survives to this day is not surprising.

Two recent popular articles take opposite sides in this debate. The first is written by Dr Simon Gathercole in The Guardian, arguing that there is compelling evidence for Jesus. The second is written by Valerie Tarico in Raw Story and takes the position that the evidence for Jesus is weak. There has obviously been a lot written about this topic by many people, but these recent articles are decent summaries.

Which side has the stronger case?

Gathercole offers several lines of evidence, starting with Biblical writing:

The value of this evidence is that it is both early and detailed. The first Christian writings to talk about Jesus are the epistles of St Paul, and scholars agree that the earliest of these letters were written within 25 years of Jesus’s death at the very latest, while the detailed biographical accounts of Jesus in the New Testament gospels date from around 40 years after he died. These all appeared within the lifetimes of numerous eyewitnesses, and provide descriptions that comport with the culture and geography of first-century Palestine.

He adds that there are non-biblical mentions of Jesus from Josephus, Pliny and Tacitus. Further, there was no discussion in the ancient world after Christianity became a thing about whether or not Jesus existed. It was taken for granted that he did. He concludes:

These abundant historical references leave us with little reasonable doubt that Jesus lived and died. The more interesting question – which goes beyond history and objective fact – is whether Jesus died and lived.

I acknowledge, those are solid points. Internal consistency with the historical record is an important criterion. The lack of contemporary doubt is also interesting.

Taken as a whole, however, I think that this evidence is extremely thin. Tarico goes into more detail about what the evidence actually shows:

The more scholars study Jesus, the more confused and uncertain our knowledge has become. Currently, we have a plethora of contradictory versions of Jesus—an itinerant preacher, a zealot, an apocalyptic prophet, an Essene heretic, a Roman sympathizer, and many more —each with a different scholar to confidently tout theirs as the only real one. Instead of a convergent view of early Christianity and its founder, we are faced instead with a cacophony of conflicting opinions. This is precisely what happens when people faced with ambiguous and contradictory information cannot bring themselves to say, we don’t know.

It is important to know that there were more than four gospels. There were many gospels, with extremely conflicting claims. Centuries after Jesus allegedly existed the early Christian church decided on which books were “canon,” eventually settling upon the 27 books of the New Testament including the four “synoptic” gospels. Tarico writes:

None of the four gospels claims to be written by eyewitnesses, and all were originally anonymous. Only later were they attributed to men named in the stories themselves.

While the four gospels were traditionally held to be four independent accounts, textual analysis suggests that they all actually are adaptations of the earliest gospel, Mark. Each has been edited and expanded upon, repeatedly, by unknown editors. It is worth noting that Mark features the most fallible, human, no-frills Jesus—and, more importantly, may be an allegory.

All of the gospels contain anachronisms and errors that show they were written long after the events they describe, and most likely far from the setting of their stories. Even more troubling, they don’t just have minor nitpicky contradictions; they have basic, even crucial, contradictions.

When we look at all the historical documents relating to Jesus and early Christianity what we have is a mess – conflicting accounts, clear forgeries, and multiple edits by anonymous individuals. Even the scant historical references were just referencing early Christian beliefs, not independent evidence.

Further we now know how easy it is for stories to quickly evolve out of nothing but culture and belief. Think of the mythology surrounding the Roswell incident – the crash of what was likely just a balloon with a reflector dish has turned into a crashed spaceship, alien autopsy, and a massive government cover up. This is in a world with photographs, video, and newspapers. Imagine how easy it would have been for myths to spread in a culture that was pre-scientific, where most people were not literate, and where accurate recording of information were scarce.

Another compelling argument that Tarico touches upon but others have more fully developed is that Christian mythology did not emerge from nowhere. The basic elements of the myth all existed for centuries in that part of the world. As I discussed previously, prior myths differed in exact details, but the main themes were all present. Horus and Mithras, for example, were also miraculously conceived or born, were half god- half man, and were saviors who had to make an extreme sacrifice. l

In the end we are left with, I think, two main conclusions. The first is that we simply do not know if Jesus was an actual person who existed. The evidence for a historical Jesus is thin, but there is no specific evidence refuting his existence.

The second conclusion, however, is that it doesn’t really matter. Even if a prophet named Jesus lived at that time and some of Christian mythology is based on his life, the core of Christian mythology is not. As Tarico argues, any actual history is muddled by mythology.

It’s possible that details from multiple individuals were merged into the Jesus myth. This is also a common phenomenon, and it would be amazing if this didn’t happen. Stories tend to attach themselves to more famous people. Quotes, for example, are credited to Mark Twain that were actually said by less well-known people.

So once a dominant savior mythology emerged, actual incidents from the lives of other prophets would have attached themselves to this myth. More significantly, the standard savior myth that already existed in the culture would have merged with any stories based in reality. In the end the story of Jesus is almost entirely myth, and any tendril of reality is both minor and impossible to prove.

I think that the Santa Claus myth is a good analogy. There may have been historical characters whose lives inspired elements of Santa Claus, but the modern Santa Claus canon is entirely fiction. The only difference here is that there is no Santa Claus religion.

Another way to look at the Jesus question is this – did the story of Jesus evolve like a work of history or a work of fiction? I would argue it greatly resembles a work of fiction, with a multitude of conflicting details surrounding the core of a story which follows an already popular mythology.  Eventually an official canon evolves, but this canon is largely arbitrary – just those in authority deciding on what elements of the story they will say are official, and discarding the rest.

Another analogy might be the Arthurian legend. King Arthur probably did not exist, and the level of evidence for him is about the same as for the historical Jesus. Again, the main difference being that the main canon of the King Arthur legend was presented as fiction, not as a gospel of faith.

One final thought is that there is a lot of hindsight bias when thinking about current beliefs and religions. There were countless myths and religions throughout history, and most of them faded away. Those that survived to become major religions today might, in hindsight, seem to have been inevitable. In all likelihood, however, they were just lucky. Out of a confusing mess of religious beliefs, some emerged as dominant mostly by chance. Even within those religions, differing sects and competing canons also existed with those surviving getting to write (and purge) the history.

It is entirely possible that early Christians could have chosen a different canon, and today the faithful might think that the Gospel of Judas is the word of God.

 

 

Link [tinywords]

backlit by the morning star blackbird song

 

 

On Our Radar—Feminist News Roundup [Latest Articles]

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Bill O’Reilly was taken down by a New York Times reporter he threatened in 2015. [Mic]

The Handmaid’s Tale is a warning to conservative women. [The New Republic]

• The art collective CultureStrike is showing the Latino side of Coachella Valley that most people never see. [Remezcla]

• How books helped US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during a tough childhood. [Quartz]

• The newly-formed Student Outreach Team on the March for Science. [Teen Vogue]

• News for Fox News is getting worse! The newly-filed racial discrimination lawsuit against them will allege that Black women employees were forced to arm wrestle for the amusement of white bosses. [The Cut]

• Bernie, please listen: There will be no revolution without reproductive rights. [Rewire]

• Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and ask Trump to release his tax returns.

• This BitchTape is a mix of songs related to sexy, sexy, sex times. And a couple of wild cards. [Katie Presley]

Bodies and minds will always be rooted in a sociopolitical context, and it is that context that privileges one type of body and one type of mind over all others. [Charlotte Loftus]

From the archives: Happy National Parks Week! [Victoria Goff]

You're reading a post from the Bitch Media HQ Crew!

12:00 EDT

In 1982, Mattel fielded a teen-pregnancy Barbie toy [Boing Boing]

Midge is a semi-disavowed character in the Barbieverse, created in 1963 to counter claims that Barbie was oversexualized; weirdly, in 1982, Mattel made the decision to release a version of the doll, who appeared to be a young teen, as a pregnant lady, with a detachable bump containing an articulated foetus. (more…)

On the "fakeness" of nature documentaries [Boing Boing]

Few are scandalized by the BBC adding sound effects to documentary footage, as it's somewhat obvious and the intent is to bring the viewer to a truth that might otherwise be obscured. A lot of other storytelling magic is at hand, though, not all of it so ostentatious. Simon Cade illustrates some of the techniques, among which editing is among the most powerful.

New museum all about failure to open in Sweden [Boing Boing]

What do "Bic for Her" pens, electric facial rejuvenation mask, and Trump: The Game have in common? They were all bizarre and ridiculous commercial products that tanked in the marketplace. This summer, the Museum of Failure will open in Helsingborg, Sweden to celebrate such bumbles and fumbles, along with other products that were bested by competition or simply too ahead of the times for their own good. The curator is Samuel West, a psychologist who studies the science of creativity. From Smithsonian:

"I got tired of all of this glorifying of success, especially within the domain of innovation where 80 to 90 percent of all projects fail," he tells Smithsonian.com. Perhaps as a way to counter the trumpets of success, he started collecting products that represented failure. He says he had no purpose at first, but thought that it was a fun hobby...

Technological gadgets that failed are a big category at the museum. "I could open a whole museum with only smartphones," West says. But other industries are good at making duds as well. Colgate tried to sell beef lasagna. Harley Davidson marketed a perfume.

Why are so many cartoon characters yellow? [Boing Boing]

The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, Minions, Pikachu are yellow. So are many, many other popular cartoon characters. Why? The answer lies at the intersection of psychology, color theory, and, of course, aesthetics. (ChannelFrederator)

30% keyboard is tiny, adorable, weird, and "very cramped" [Boing Boing]

Attention mechanical keyboard aficionados! If 40% mechanical keyboards are just too bulky for you, try a 30% one such as the Gherkin, which includes the characters of the alphabet and four arrow keys, which are chorded in various ways to reach capital letters, numbers, function keys and so forth. If 30% mechanical keyboards are just too bulky for you, try a Gherkin with the switches as close together as they will go.

Typing on this is weird. It feels very cramped, it may be different with a different style keycap. I will try a set of cut down DSA keycaps which has more space between the keys. It is much better than the microswitches on the Flanck.

I like the idea of small, just-get-writing mechanical keyboards, but can't get to grips with these minuscule grid-layout ones. Here is the layout I'd like to use, which I call the "Cormac" because you don't get to quote anyone and you sure as hell don't get to ask questions of the place where you stand and see for a brief moment the absolute truth of the cold relentless implacable darkness.

Cooler climates linked to rapid evolution [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Early Man had a sweet mullet. (Photo By DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/De Agostini/Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images / DEA Picture Library)

While natural selection is a big part of evolution, the theory now embraces much more than that. One of the big concepts that explains a lot of the pattern of evolution throughout history is called "adaptive radiation." Adaptive radiation is a process in which environmental changes create new resources, challenges, and environmental niches, enabling rapid diversification of organisms from a single ancestral species.

Adaptive radiation provides a sound explanation that captures the effects of the interactions among organisms on species diversification. However, non-biological effects—the details of how environmental changes interact with species—are not easy to incorporate into this model and have not been extensively explored.

In a recent investigation published in PNAS, a team of scientists developed a method to test how non-biological variables influence the rates of trait evolution within a group of related species. This method was based on a framework that compares evolutionary trajectories, which the scientists validated through intensive simulations.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

President Trump quips about sending humans to Mars in his first term [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Flanked by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, left, and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, right, President Donald Trump called the International Space Station on Monday. (credit: NASA TV)

Early on Monday morning, NASA's veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson set a US record for cumulative time in space, surpassing Jeff Williams' record of 534 days. To honor her achievement, President Donald Trump called Whitson from the Oval Office, flanked by his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and another NASA astronaut, Kate Rubins.

The conversation was cordial, and President Trump was gracious in congratulating Whitson and asking about her science activities on the space station. After Whitson explained various engineering efforts, including the recycling of urine into water to make for a closed-loop environmental system, Trump replied, "Well that's good, I'm glad to hear that. Better you than me."

During the call, the president also asked about NASA's Journey to Mars and whether any of the astronauts, including Whitson, Rubins, and Jack Fischer, wanted to go to Mars. They all did. "Tell me, for Mars, what do you see a timing for actually sending people to Mars. Is there a schedule, and when do you see that happening?" he then asked.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

To keep EpiPen sales up, Mylan threatened states, sued making bogus claims [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Mylan Inc. CEO Heather Bresch testifies during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee September 21, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Alex Wong)

Pharmaceutical company Mylan sued West Virginia in 2015 to keep its EpiPens on the state’s “preferred drug list,” which, if successful, would mean that the state’s Medicaid programs would have to automatically pay for the pricey epinephrine auto-injectors.

The bold and unusual move by Mylan—which ultimately failed—is yet another example of the aggressive marketing and legal tactics the company used to boost profits from EpiPens, which halt life-threatening allergic reactions. Since Mylan acquired rights to EpiPen in 2007, the company raised its price by more than 400 percent. Mylan also allegedly made illegal deals with schools to undercut competitors and allegedly scammed federal and state regulators out of millions in rebates by knowingly misclassifying the device.

Last year, EpiPen’s sales and expanded markets brought in more than $1 billion in revenue for Mylan. The company’s CEO, Heather Bresch, is one of the highest-paid CEOs in the industry, earning nearly $19 million annually.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Samsung Galaxy S8 to get software patch for “red tint” issue [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Two Korean Galaxy S8s with the red tint issue. (credit: Daum)

Samsung's newest Android flagship, the Galaxy S8, launched last week. As the device trickled out to users, some customers complained about a "red tint" to the screen. It was most noticeable on a white screen, but basically, the whole color balance of the display was off. Now, just a weekend later, Samsung says it will issue a software patch to fix the red-tint complaints.

The red tint isn't a universal issue (Ars' review unit is fine, though it was probably hand-picked), but judging from side-by-side pictures online, it does seem like some Galaxy S8 screens are redder than others. The advice for any day-one defect like this is usually "return it," but Samsung says it will be able to fix the problem via software. The Galaxy S8 already has a "Color Balance" setting that lets you adjust the red, green, and blue values of the display, and in a statement e-mailed to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung said the update would add "a further enhanced ability to adjust the color setting to their preference."

As far as recent Samsung defects go, this is a small one. The Galaxy S8 is Samsung's first flagship phone since the launch of the Galaxy Note 7, which will probably go down in history as one of the biggest product launch catastrophes ever. The Galaxy Note 7 shipped with a defective battery that could explode or catch fire, and after two recalls, Samsung ended up pulling the phone off the market. After dealing with that situation for six months, a small patch to fix the screen color balance is nothing.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Netflix slaps additional $1 billion on the price tag of producing more original content [Ars Technica]

YouTube, Netflix

Netflix's ambitious plans to release more original movies and TV shows are well-known, but we now have a clearer picture of the price. Netflix announced that it would raise an additional €1 billion, or about $1.08 billion, from "non-US persons" to fund new original programming efforts.

While the company stated the money would be used for "general corporate purposes," Netflix has been open about the fact that most of its funding going forward would be used for content acquisitions and production.

At the end of last year, Netflix announced it would increase its amount of original programming to 1,000 hours in 2017, including 20 new original series and 30 movies. The first season of the competition show Ultimate Beastmaster already launched with its first 10-episode season, as has the sci-fi movie The Discovery, starring Rooney Mara and Robert Redford. The movie War Machine, starring Brad Pitt, is due out next month.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Billionaire Jack Ma Says CEOs Could Be Robots in 30 Years, Warns of Decades of 'Pain' From AI [Slashdot]

Self-made billionaire, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma warned on Monday that society could see decades of pain thanks to disruption caused by the internet and new technologies to different areas of the economy. From a report: In a speech at a China Entrepreneur Club event, the billionaire urged governments to bring in education reform and outlined how humans need to work with machines. "In the coming 30 years, the world's pain will be much more than happiness, because there are many more problems that we have come across," Ma said in Chinese, speaking about potential job disruptions caused by technology. [...] Ma also spoke about the rise of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and said that this technology will be needed to process the large amount of data being generated today, something that a human brain can't do. But machines shouldn't replace what humans can do, Ma said, but instead the technology community needs to look at making machines do what humans cannot. This would make the machine a "human partner" rather than an opponent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Arkansas Prepares For First Double Execution In U.S. Since 2000 [News : NPR]

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson prepares for an interview at the Governor

The state planned to kill eight death row inmates in 11 days. After a flurry of legal challenges, three executions were stayed and one was carried out. The next two deaths are scheduled for Monday.

(Image credit: Kelly P. Kissel/AP)

Road Warrior, Not So Fast: 12-Year-Old Australian Drives 800 Miles Solo [News : NPR]

The 12-year-old boy who Australian police say drove some 800 miles solo likely traveled down roads like this one near the remote town of Broken Hill in New South Wales.

Police say the boy was on a cross-country trip, from his home in Kendall on the east coast to Perth on the opposite coast. He got about a third of the way before he was pulled over.

(Image credit: Rob Griffith/AP)

Spotify is working on its own music hardware [The Verge - All Posts]

Spotify is starting to dabble in hardware, and it has some pretty huge aspirations.

A job listing on the company’s website says that Spotify wants to build “a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles” that will “affect the way the world experiences music and talk content.” The listing was first spotted by Zatz Not Funny.

Beyond Spotify’s lofty goals, there aren’t a lot of details here about what it has in mind. The listing says the device will be internet connected and come “directly from Spotify,” which at the very least clarifies that this isn’t going to be a simple integration with some other company’s device.

Zatz also points to a separate job description...

Continue reading…

Unroll.me’s CEO is ‘heartbroken’ that users are upset their data was sold to Uber [The Verge - All Posts]

In the latest in a string of negative press for Uber, this past weekend a massive New York Times report revealed that email decluttering service Unroll.me had been selling user data to Uber to help the company gain insight on when customers were switching between its service and its competitor, Lyft. According to the Times, Unroll.me did so by collecting Lyft receipts from its users’ inboxes and passing that information along to Uber for an undisclosed fee.

Naturally, users were upset to find out. Unroll.me CEO Jojo Hedaya attempted damage control by posting an apology to the company blog on Sunday, stating that “it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.” Hedaya claims...

Continue reading…

These three Windows apps recreate my favorite macOS features [The Verge - All Posts]

Avid Verge readers will know of my frustration with Apple's unsatisfying MacBook Pro update late last year. It was an anticlimactic end to a prolonged wait for users of MacBook Pro and Air laptops alike, and it led many of us to grow curious about how far the Windows alternatives had evolved in that time. The design, displays, and versatility of Windows laptops have all improved in major ways, but one of the final hurdles that kept many like myself attached to their macOS habit was the abundance of great utility apps. Well, I followed The Verge's own advice and used a set of apps to recreate my MacBook experience on a Windows laptop, and you know what, I'm kind of loving this new world I'm living in.

Wox

My MVA (Most Valuable App) on the...

Continue reading…

This is the first footage of Larry Page’s ‘flying car’ [The Verge - All Posts]

Kitty Hawk, one of the two “flying car” companies being backed by Google founder Larry Page, has published the first video of its prototype aircraft. The company describes the Kitty Hawk Flyer as an “all-electric aircraft” that is designed to operate over water and doesn’t require a pilot’s license to fly. Kitty Hawk promises people will be able to learn to fly the Flyer “in minutes.” A consumer version will be available by the end of this year, the company says.

The video is part commercial and part test footage, starting with a lakeside conversation between friends about using the Flyer to meet up before switching to what The New York Times says are shots of an aerospace engineer operating the craft in Northern California.

Continue reading…

Scanner Sombre is a short and scary game from the creators of Prison Architect [The Verge - All Posts]

Scanner Sombre, the newest game from Prison Architect developer Introversion Software, takes place in a world you can’t see. The game drops you into a dark cavern where you can only glimpse the world around you by using a scanner that produces a colorful outline of your surroundings. It’s a dark, claustrophobic feeling — one that only heightens as you explore further and the game takes on more of a horror vibe.

Introversion first showed off Scanner Sombre as a prototype last year, and today the studio is announcing that not only is the idea being turned into a full-fledged game, it’s also launching very soon. Scanner Sombre will be launching on PC this Wednesday.

According to lead designer Chris Delay, the idea for Scanner Sombre...

Continue reading…

The iPhone 8 may be very hard to get until 2018 [The Verge - All Posts]

It’s sounding more and more like the iPhone 8 won’t arrive until nearly the end of 2017, a couple months after Apple usually introduces new iPhones.

The latest sign comes from Ming-Chi Kuo, the reliable KGI Securities analyst, who says mass production of the iPhone 8 may not start until October or November, according to 9to5Mac.

There are almost always reports ahead of every iPhone launch saying that Apple is going to have limited supplies of its new phone, but the situation this year seems to be quite a bit different. Apple typically starts mass production of new iPhones several months before they’re announced and still faces supply constraints. If Apple isn’t beginning mass production on the iPhone 8 until October or November, they’ll...

Continue reading…

11:00 EDT

Creepy, sketchy stalkerware vendor get hacked, announced bug-bounty program [Boing Boing]

Flexispy (previously) is the creepy, sketchy stalkerware company that makes tools that allow jealous, abusive spouses track their partners, and then hides their profits in offshore money-laundries. (more…)

"Creepy" Sean Hannity invited show guest to hotel room [Boing Boing]

Sean Hannity, a pomaded wig perched atop a melting styrofoam head perched atop a pile of butter-soaked thrift store polo shirts, stands accused of making a "creepy" advance toward a guest on his show.

During a Friday interview with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based radio host Pat Campbell, former Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel accused Hannity of inviting her to his hotel room before and after a debate with a pro-Palestinian guest in Detroit. Schlussel said she rejected Hannity’s alleged advances and that she was never invited on his show again.

Schlussel and Hannity were scheduled to speak together at the Detroit show, Schlussel said. But before the show, Hannity allegedly invited her to an event at a nearby bookstore. The Daily Beast was not able to confirm whether the pair ever spoke at such a show.

“He had some event at a bookstore where he signed his book for people standing in line. He asked me to come meet him at this book signing,” Schlussel said on Campbell’s show. “So I met him there and it was very awkward. He had me up there with him while he signed books and I felt very weird. These people don’t know me and they didn’t come for me to sign their books. Then I left to get ready for the show, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?’ and I said no, I have to get ready for the show.”

Hannity says she's lying and threatened her with legal action. Schlussel made clear in a subsequent interview that she was not accusing him of sexual harassment, as reported in headlines covering her earlier remarks.

Fantastic Commodore 64 glitch-music-art demo in just 256 bytes [Boing Boing]

Lunus Sakesson's 256 byte Commodore 64 demo "A Mind Is Born" took first place at the Oldskool 4K Intro compo at the Revision 2017 digital art festival. From his program notes:

The demo is driven by its soundtrack, so in order to understand what the program needs to do, it helps to have a schematic overview of the various parts of the song.

The three voices of the SID chip are used as follows: Voice 1 is responsible for the kick drum and bass, Voice 2 plays the melody and Voice 3 plays a drone that ducks on all beats, mimicking the genre-typical side-chain compression effect.

All in all, the song contains 64 bars in 4/4 time. It is played back at 112.5 bpm by means of a 60 Hz timer interrupt. The interrupt handler is primarily responsible for music playback, while the visuals are mostly generated in main context.

"A Mind Is Born" by Linus Akesson

Steve Bannon digs the occult [Boing Boing]

When occult historian Mitch Horowitz's excellent 2009 book Occult America was published, he received a phone call from an admiring fan: Stephen K. Bannon. Over at Salon, Mitch writes about the right wing's weird connection to New Age mysticism:

(Bannon) professed deep interest in the book’s themes, and encouraged me in my next work, “One Simple Idea,” an exploration of positive-mind metaphysics in American life....

Although the media have characterized Bannon as the Disraeli of the dark side following his rise to power in the Trump administration, I knew him, and still do, as a deeply read and erudite observer of the American religious scene, with a keen appetite for mystical thought.

Ronald Reagan, a hero of his, was not dissimilar. As I’ve written in the Washington Post and elsewhere, Reagan, from the start of his political career in the 1950s up through the first term of his presidency, adopted phrasing and ideas from the writings of a Los Angeles-based occult scholar named Manly P. Hall (1901-1990), whose 1928 encyclopedia arcana “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” is among the most influential underground books in American culture.

President Trump himself has admiringly recalled his lessons in the mystic art of “positive thinking” from the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, the Trump family’s longtime pastor, who popularized metaphysical mind-power themes in his 1952 mega-seller “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

What in the cosmos is going on? New Age and alternative spirituality are supposed to be the domain of patchouli-scented aisles of health food stores and bookshops that sell candles and pendulums, right? Well, not exactly.

There is a long-standing intersection between mysticism and conservatism in America. This marriage extends back to the late 19th century when globetrotting occultist and Russian noblewoman Madame H.P. Blavatsky depicted America as the catalyst for a revolution in human potential in her 1888 opus “The Secret Doctrine.” “It is in America that the transformation will take place,” Blavatsky wrote, “and has already silently commenced.”

"Steve Bannon and the occult: The right wing’s long, strange love affair with New Age mysticism" (Salon)

Goddamn police [Pharyngula]

Fire these cops.

Five twelve-year-old kids walking home from a basketball game; a policeman pulls up, opens his car door, and immediately pulls a gun on them and tells them to get on the ground. Nobody gets shot this time, fortunately, but it’s hard to watch — those poor kids are initially confused, and then terrified, and you get to hear them crying and wailing in fear as the brave police officer calmly and politely threatens them with death.

The kids were in the “wrong place at the wrong time”. They tell a distraught parent afterwards “you have to understand our position as well”. Yeah, I understand your position very well, you cowardly motherfucker: you are confident that you have the right to use deadly force against unarmed children, if you even have the slightest suspicion that they might be “bad guys”. They were “just doing their job”. They completely fail to understand the perspective of others. One mother summarizes the situation perfectly: “Y’all didn’t see a gun but y’all pulled a gun on my kids”. The earnest certainty of the police officers is galling — they absolutely think they are in the right, but they threatened children with a gun.

Treat these cops the same way they would be treated if they pulled this shit on white kids in a white suburban neighborhood — you know they’d be off the force in a flash, and the chief of police would be getting savaged in the press for incompetent management.

This is unacceptable.

Don’t call me libertarian [Pharyngula]

I took one of those tests of political orientation on the interweb, and it came back with the results and called me a Libertarian Socialist. I am so insulted.

I know, I know, they mean well, but “libertarian” is one of those words that has been poisoned by the dumbasses who apply it to themselves.

Amazon Launches Marketplace For Digital Subscriptions [Slashdot]

Amazon said on Monday it is launching a platform for companies with subscription services -- from newspapers, magazines to TV streaming. The "Subscribe with Amazon" marketplace allows consumers to buy subscriptions to products like SlingTV streaming, Headspace meditation, Dropbox Plus, as well as workout videos, online classes, meal plans and even matchmakers. The marketplace also features more traditional subscriptions, similar to those that have become popular on Amazon's Kindle tablets, including the Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Wall Street Journal and New Yorker.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Unroll.me 'Heartbroken' After Being Caught Selling User Data To Uber [Slashdot]

The chief executive of email unsubscription service Unroll.me has said he is "heartbroken" that users felt betrayed by the fact that his company monetises the contents of their inbox by selling their data to companies such as Uber. Over the weekend, The New York Times published a profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, in which, among other things, it reported that following an acquisition by shopping app Slice in 2014, Unroll.me developed a side-business: selling aggregated data about users to the very apps they were unsubscribing from. Uber was one of Slice's big data arm Slice Intelligence's customers. CNET adds: While Unroll.me did not specifically admit to selling data to Uber, it has apologised for not being "explicit enough" in explaining how its free service worked. "It was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service," CEO Jojo Hedaya said on the Unroll.me blog. While reiterating that "all data is completely anonymous and related to purchases only," Hedaya admitted, "we need to do better for our users" by offering clearer information on its website.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

10:00 EDT

The work of the world's leading nutrition researchers appears to be riddled with statistical errors [Boing Boing]

Brian Wansink is one of the most-cited nutrition researchers in the world; 30,000 US schools use his advice to design their lunch programs, drawing on studies he's done that show that kids eat more carrots when they're called "X-ray vision carrots" and that putting out fruit bowls improves eating habits, and that smaller plates reduce portion sizes. (more…)

Thanks to the magic of the internet I'm both an ordained minister and a certified project manager! [Boing Boing]

"Gets stuff done," is a good way to be described by anybody. Especially by coworkers or bosses. Because whether you're in finance or a children's librarian, stuff needs to get done

But how do you make sure stuff gets done? You definitely can’t do all the stuff yourself, unless your company/organization/government office consists entirely of you. And if that’s the case, you better have a pretty damn good plan for how you're going to get all of that stuff done by yourself. Thankfully, smarter people (or at least more organized) than you have developed methodologies that can help you manage projects better. Incidentally, they're called project management methodologies, and you can start working towards becoming a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) with this training course offered in the Boing Boing Store.

PMP is one of the most globally recognized project management certifications. Getting certified isn’t a corporate trophy—Project Management Professionals are critical to making sure deliverables are delivered, teams are working together, and ensuring money/time/resources aren’t wasted in the process. Basically, they make stuff get done, and they get a nice little bonus on their paychecks for doing so. This course will give you a fancy online certification, yes, but it also follows a curriculum that's approved by the Project Management Institute®, which means you'll be plenty ready to ace the big time certification exams as well.

If you want to take on more complex responsibilities at work and refine your team leadership skills, pick up the Project Management Professional Certification Training in the Boing Boing Store for $49.99.

Decrypted: The Expanse “It’s part of the equation now” [Ars Technica]

Enlarge / Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper

It's been a fun 13 weeks, but the second season of The Expanse has finally drawn to a close. Did it feel like a satisfying conclusion to you? Readers of the books will note we're still not quite at the end of Caliban's War, so there's plenty more to come from the protomolecule and the crew of the Rocinante.

We got neither the cliffhanger nor the reveal of what the protomolecule has been doing, both of which will presumably show up in season three. While I got over my canon shock about the differences between the books and the TV version some time ago, I think the different pacing of the stories between mediums continues to trip me up. At times it feels like we're rushing through the chain of events at a gallop, and yet we're still not at the end of book two yet.

The show remains compelling, so I'm not complaining on those grounds, but I do hope the powers that be at Syfy will stick with it long enough for us to get us as far as Babylon's Ashes or Persepolis Rising. That was a topic of conversation when Tech Culture Editor Annalee Newitz joined me on the podcast this week. And apologies that it's a little late.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

UK has first coal-free power day since the Industrial Revolution [Ars Technica]

Enlarge (credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

In 1882, the world's first coal-fired public-use power station opened in London at 57 Holborn Viaduct—today a fairly nondescript location in the centre of London close to Blackfriars. On Friday, some 135 years, a few monarchs, and an entire Industrial Revolution later, the UK power grid had its first ever day without coal energy.

The National Grid control room announced on April 21 that from 11pm on Thursday to 11pm on Friday the UK's electricity demand was supplied without firing up some coal power plants. The UK's power mix for the day was: 50.3% natural gas, 21.2% nuclear, 12.2% wind, 8.3% imported from France, the Netherlands, and Ireland, 6.7% biomass, and 3.6% solar. (That appears to come to 102.3%... better to supply too much power than not enough, perhaps?)

As you can see from the graph above, coal-free Friday was more of an eventual inevitability than a surprise. The UK has been rapidly scaling back its coal use—it accounted for 23 percent of our power use in 2015, then 9 percent in 2016—and the government says it wants to close down all remaining coal power plants by 2025.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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