Day: June 9, 2016

Uber launched their schedule-ahead service today


Today Uber rolled out their new Scheduled Rides option, allowing you to schedule a ride 30 minutes to 30 days in advance. This could be especially handy for people needing an early morning lift to the airport. One hitch is that for now, it’s only in Seattle, although it’ll be “followed by other top business travel cities.”

Here’s how it works, according to Uber:

Select uberX and tap “Schedule a Ride.”

Set your pickup date, time, location, and destination.

Confirm the details of your upcoming trip and tap “Schedule uberX.” You can cancel at anytime before your ride is on the way.

We’ll send you reminders both 24 hours and 30 minutes in advance of your pickup.
You’ll be notified after your ride is on the way, as well as whether surge pricing applies.

Just make sure you’re on time for your scheduled ride – otherwise you’ll be fined. And if you’re not in Seattle, you can still sign up to be the first in your city to try it. For more details on Uber’s Scheduled Rides click here.

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Guess what caused a fire in a house on High Street


A house caught fire in a home on High Street in Walworth, New York. After extinguishing the fire that was contained in a single locked room, investigators found 40 to 50 marijuana plants under grow lights inside.

According to the AP, the fire is thought to have been caused by an electrical problem. One of the home’s residents was charged with a misdemeanor for illegally growing weed.

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Prospective jurors refuse to serve under rapist-friendly judge Aaron Persky


The East Bay Times reports that “at least 10 prospective jurors” refused to participate in Judge Aaron Persky’s next trial in protest at the cozy 6-month sentence (out in 12 weeks) he gave Stanford rapist Brock Turner.

“I can’t be here, I’m so upset,” one juror told the judge while the lawyers were picking the jury in the misdemeanor receiving stolen property case, according to multiple sources.

Another prospective juror stood up and said, “I can’t believe what you did,” referring to the six-month county jail sentence Persky handed to Turner, who was convicted for sexually assaulting an unconscious intoxicated woman last year outside a Stanford University frat party.

In each case, the judge said, “I understand,” thanked the prospective juror and excused her or him from duty.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden wrote an open letter to Turner’s victim today, praising her willingness to speak out about her treatment by her attacker and by the legal system.

And I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.

It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.

You are a warrior — with a solid steel spine.

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Interview with Brian Brushwood of Scam School


Brian Brushwood is is the creator and host of over 400 episodes of Discovery’s Scam School, with over one million subscribers on YouTube. In 2015, his first full season of Hacking the System debuted on the National Geographic Channel (now available on Netflix). Brian has performed thousands of live stage shows (appearing in every state in the continental US), headlined 3 years at Universal Orlando, and recorded two Billboard #1 comedy albums with his “Night Attack” co-host, Justin Robert Young.


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Suspect arrested after Target bathroom explosion

Image: Reuters

A “small” bomb exploded in a women’s bathroom at the Target store in Evanston, Illinois Wednesday, and police said they thought the attack was related to the company’s pro-transgender policies. They changed their mind, however, after taking a 44-year-old woman into custody, reports the Chicago Tribune.

“The detectives are not currently looking for any known additional suspects, and (at) this point there is no indication that the incident is related to any policies that the Target store has in place,” the release reads.

Evanston police requested the help of the Cook County bomb squad late Wednesday afternoon after an explosion in a Target store restroom

WGNtv’s Patrick Elwood reported that no-one was in the bathroom when the device exploded and that it caused minor damage. The bomb
was housed in a plastic bottle and contained no shrapnel.

Target upset conservatives recently by announcing that transgender customers would be permitted to use the bathrooms that they are most comfortable using, and police at first suspected a connection.

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Hard times for judge who sued dry-cleaner for $65M over missing pants


When DC administrative judge Roy Pearson sued his local dry-cleaner for $65,000,000 over a pair of lost pants, it was a gift to newswriters everywhere, and especially Kevin Underhill of Lowering the Bar, who followed the case with headlines like: Judge Drops Pants; Suit Still On, Judge Who Lost Pants Loses Case, Judge Who Lost Pants Forced to Rely on Briefs, and more.

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Watch this very funny parody of a TED Talk, any TED talk

“Now that doesn’t sound important, and it’s not, but if I repeat it three times I’m making you believe that is important.”

“Let’s look at a picture of the planet for no reason. It’s nice isn’t it. That’s where we live. What happens if I put some words over it? How about a number? What if I pose a question? By doing this, I’ve now made you think that I know what I’m talking about.”

(via DIGG)

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Ingenious idea for a Thor toolbox


If you were a Norse god/superhero who moonlighted as a carpenter, this Thor Hammer Tool Kit would hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately right now it’s just a concept design from Dave’s Geeky Ideas!

When not being carried around for Asgardian cosplay, this hammer opens up to reveal all the tools stored inside. The handle is shared with an actual hammer, which is fastened into a removable tray. Beneath the tray is a reservoir for loose tools and nuts/bolts.



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10,000 hours to become an expert? Sorry, that number is off.


In the 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory that it took 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. If you wanted to be the best violinist, painter, tennis player, or anything else that took talent, 10,000 was the magic number. But now the authors of the original 1993 study say that Gladwell’s simple assertion just isn’t accurate.

One of the authors of the study, Anders Ericsson, just co-authored a new book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (with co-author Robert Pool) to clarify what the study actually meant. According to

Problem 1: The number 10,000 was chosen arbitrarily

First, there is nothing special or magical about ten thousand hours. Gladwell could just as easily have mentioned the average amount of time the best violin students had practiced by the time they were eighteen (approximately seventy-four hundred hours) but he chose to refer to the total practice time they had accumulated by the time they were twenty, because it was a nice round number.

And, either way, at eighteen or twenty, these students were nowhere near masters of the violin. They were very good, promising students who were likely headed to the top of their field, but they still had a long way to go when at the time of the study. Pianists who win international piano competitions tend to do so when they’re around thirty years old, and thus they’ve probably put in about 20,000 to 25,000 hours of practice by then; ten thousand hours is only halfway down that path.

The other two problems were: 1) 10,000 hours was only the average, and 2) Practice itself isn’t enough.

The bottom line is, practice as much as you love doing something. If you love it enough, you just might become an expert. If you practice for hours’ sake, you still might end up being average – and frustrated to boot. For the full details, read it on

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The Book of Gossage – If you want to work in advertising, you need to read this book


The Book of Gossage

by Howard Luck Gossage and Jeff Goodby

Copy Workshop

2006, 308 pages, 8 x 10 x 1 inches (softcover)

$42-$50 Buy a copy on Amazon

Just down the street from San Francisco’s North Beach strip clubs and Beat Museum, I had the privilege of interning for an ad agency located in one of the city’s original firehouses. When I started, I had no idea that the building once belonged to Howard Luck Gossage, an advertising legend. After taking a spin down the firepole I was given a copy of The Book of Gossage and told that if I wanted to work in advertising I needed to read this book. It opened my eyes to how amazing advertising can be, and introduced me to an icon that too few people know about.

The book is dense, as it’s part textbook, part history lesson, and is filled with some incredibly witty and thought-provoking ads. The book collects a bulk of Gossage’s writings where he tackles the big issue: Is Advertising Worth Saving? He also covers topics like: How To Be Creative, The Shape of an Idea, and Our Fictitious Freedom Of The Press.

His ads filled tires with pink air, started the international paper airplane competition, and prevented the Grand Canyon from being flooded. While his creative insights alone would be worth the price of this book, there is also a lot of historic context that’s provided by colleagues, and people who were influenced by his work. Hearing about his charm and love of parties makes you understand why people like Tom Wolfe, John Steinbeck, and Stan Freberg would just hang out at his agency.

As Gossage said himself, “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” If you’re curious about advertising, pursuing a creative career, or just want to learn about a very interesting man, then this book will interest you.

– JP LeRoux

Note: The first edition contains some colored photos of Gossage’s work, while the second edition (linked above) includes a CD-rom with a collection of his work – either is worth picking up.

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Cabybaras break out of Toronto zoo, on the lam for 3 weeks

Image: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism / Flickr

Capybaras are not only the world’s greatest rodents, they are also the world’s greatest animals bar none. And now two of them, appropriately named Bonnie and Clyde, are on the lam after busting out of Toronto’s High Park Zoo on May 24. The search for the brobdingnagian guinea pigs has been going on for 3 weeks.

From NatGeo:

Canadian city’s residents have taken to the streets (and social media) in an attempt to help officials find the giant rodents and lure them back into captivity.

Easier said than done. It’s been more than three weeks since the pair, now nicknamed Bonnie and Clyde, made a break for it while being transferred to a new enclosure. And so far, attempts to recapture the rodents of interest have come up empty handed.

By the way, capybaras aren’t guinea pigs, but they are related. Here’s a video of a baby capybara getting to know a guinea pig:

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Singer terrorized on prank TV show by fake terrorists


Singer and actress Heba Magdi doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself on this good-natured prank TV show, in which she was “kidnapped” by fake ISIS terrorists and forced to put on a suicide vest. C’mon Heba, lighten up!

From YouTube:

Is this the world’s cruellest TV prank ever? Actress is tricked into thinking she has been kidnapped by ISIS in Egypt and is made to beg for her life on video.

The video shows Heba Magdi surrounded by men dressed as ISIS fanatics.

She is then ordered ‘at gun point’ to pose for pictures infront of an ISIS flag.

Repeatedly begs for her life as TV crew set off fake gunfire and explosions.

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Vinyl goes digital with the Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable - now 32% off

Digital music may be the standard today, but America’s got an eternal soft spot for vinyl. The experience of spinning records on turntables is unique – and music fans don’t want the march of technology to consign the turntable to history’s dustbin.

Thankfully, the folks at 1byone are mashing modern and old school together in one package with their Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable, now $114.99 – 32% off – in the Boing Boing Store.

With its traditional appearance and dust cover, it looks and plays like a traditional turntable…but under the hood, it’s strictly 2016. In addition to playing 33, 45 and 78 RPM records, you can connect the turntable to any portable device via Bluetooth and stream digital music through its stereo speakers.

You also can listen to your records anywhere with vinyl-to-MP3 recording, digitizing your stacks of wax into MP3 format for playback on your mobile devices.

Get the best of both audio worlds with the Belt Driven Bluetooth Turntable with Built-In Speaker at a substantial 32% discount while this deal lasts.

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Banks confront negative interest rates with plans to store titanic bundles of money on-site


The world’s central banks, freaked out about huge leverage by financial institutions and borrowers and unwilling to engage in economic stimulus themselves, have been moving interest rates lower and lower, until now, many banks are offering negative interest rates, meaning that buying $100 worth of treasury bills today will return $99 in cash tomorrow — hoping that this will incentivize banks to issue enough loans to make up for politically impossible governmental fiscal stimulus.

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Restaurant that killed customer with nut allergy sends apology email advertising new desserts

Illustration depicting mast cell activation and anaphylaxis: staff. Blausen gallery 2014.  Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. - Own work

Mohammed Zaman, founder of Easingwold Jaipur Spice restaurant in the UK, was sentenced to six years in prison for serving a nut-powder curry to a man with a nut allergy. The victim, who asked Zaman not to give him food with nuts, died from anaphylactic shock immediately after eating it.

After the sentencing, the restaurant issued a fauxpology that concluded with an advertisement for new desserts:

[We] sincerely apologise to all our loyal customers for the recent heavy press surrounding the Easingwold branch and the somewhat disappointing decision for our founding father Mr Zaman. Mistakes have been made and this is no excuse but now is a time to move on as Mr Zaman so wishes.

We are now in the process of launching a new dessert menu and have hired an exclusive pastry chef from London to design this. Our philosophy, started by our founder, [Mohammed] Khalique Zaman, was and still is to create real quality Indian cuisine of the highest standard.

With exhilarating flavours and subtle aromas…Jaipur Spice will transform your perception of Indian food…You’ll spot the difference the moment the food arrives!!”

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As GWB was a gift to late-night comedy shows, so Trump brings out the best in Congressional firebrands


I remember John Stewart’s first nights on The Daily Show, when the radioactive, manifest awfulness of GW Bush and his nakedly opportunistic response to 9/11 seemed to reach deep into the comedian’s psyche and conjure forth an heroic, blazing best self whose invective and wit skewered, enraged, and succored all of us who were living through those years.

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Why psychiatrists aren't supposed to say Trump is a narcissist


Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. President in November’s general election, is not only comically narcissistic, but his tongue ticks off diagnostic criteria for pathological arseholedom with every demented sentence. But pyschiatrists can’t say so, because we’ve been here once before.

Both psychiatrists and psychologists operate under ethical rules that prevent them from offering professional diagnostic opinions about the mental health of public figures they have not personally examined. The American Psychiatric Association’s version of this is known as the Goldwater Rule — named for another polarizing Republican presidential candidate.

The rule has its roots in the September/October 1964 issue of a magazine called Fact, which was entirely devoted to parsing the results of a survey the editors had sent to more than 12,000 psychiatrists. The survey only had one question: “Do you believe Barry Goldwater is psychologically fit to serve as president of the United States?”

There were lawsuits, and Goldwater won them. Hence:

On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

Shrinks will dance up to the rules and tip-toe on the thorns, though. Check out The Atlantic’s not-a-diagnosis of Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder.

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Internet greybeards and upstarts gather to redecentralize the Internet


This week, the Internet Archive is hosting a three-day event (which finishes today) called The Decentralized Web Summit, whose goal is to figure out how to build a new Internet that is “locked open,” an idea that emerged from Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle’s 2015 series of talks and articles about how technologists can build networks and protocols that are resistant to attempt to capture, monopolize and control them.

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Minecraft schools edition in beta testing


An educational edition of hit game/toy/epic/religion Minecraft is in beta testing, reports The Verge, and teachers are invited to get their hands on it early.

Minecraft: Education Edition is almost identical to standard Minecraft, but it includes a handful of features designed for the classroom. A couple smaller features were announced in January — like an in-game camera for taking screenshots — and some more substantial ones are being announced today. That includes adding in-game chalkboards that can display large blocks of text and letting teachers place characters that’ll say things when a student walks up to them.

The biggest new feature won’t come until September, when the game launches. It’s called Classroom Mode, and it’s essentially a control panel for teachers. Teachers will be able to use the interface to grant resources to students, view where everyone is on a map, send chat messages, and teleport people to specific places, which will be useful should students run off or get lost.

Classroom mode alone looks great for improving multiplayer in general:


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Iranian soccer star suspended for wearing SpongeBob pants

Mr. Squarepants

Sosha Makani, 29, was goalkeeper of Tehran’s Persepolis soccer club. But not any more, after Iranian morality police saw him photographed in a pair of SpongeBob Squarepants pants.

pants“Sosha suspended for six months because of yellow trousers,” read the headline of Varzesh3, an Iranian sports news agency. “SpongeBob [trousers] cause six-month suspension for Sosha,” said the online news agency Asriran. … Last month, Iranian news agencies reported that Makani, who played for Iran’s national football team at the 2014 World Cup, was being scrutinised by the authorities over his trousers.

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China plans undersea lab, 3km down


Bloomberg News reports that the Chinese Science Ministry plans to build a laboratory on the sea floor at a depth of 3 kilometers. It’s the latest salvo in its expansionist effort to take control of the South China Sea.

So far there are few public details, including a specific time line, any blueprints or a cost estimate — or where in the waterway it might be located. Still, China under President Xi Jinping has asserted itself more strenuously in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters and the creation of artificial islands covering 3,200 acres have inflamed tensions with nations including Vietnam and the Philippines…

“The deep sea contains treasures that remain undiscovered and undeveloped, and in order to obtain these treasures we have to control key technologies in getting into the deep sea, discovering the deep sea, and developing the deep sea,” Xi said last month at a national science conference.

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How to tell a victim of demonic possession apart from someone with a mental disorder


It used to be said that photos never lie, back in those simpler, innocent days before Photoshop and Facetune made liars of us all. But as this week’s tabloids show, photos can lie even when they are the unvarnished genuine article.

Richard Simmons, the fitness ‘guru’ whose celebrity seems to continue only in the minds of tabloid editors, is pictured on the National Enquirer’s cover clad in fur-trimmed lingerie and black leggings, while wearing a long black wig, above a headline screaming: “He’s now a woman!”

“Yes, this photo shoot is real!” adds an accompanying caption – a notation that is necessary because veteran Enquirer readers will know how many of its photos are doctored fakes.

Quoting an unnamed “pal,” the Enquirer claims that Simmons has been out of the public eye for the past two years while he transitioned into a woman, having a “secret boob job” and researching “castration surgery.”

Leaving aside for a moment the appalling intrusion into the private life of anyone going through the emotional rollercoaster of gender realignment, just as the Enquirer had previously brutally forced the outing of a transitioning Caitlyn Jenner, Simmons’ photo was clearly taken in jest, just as the flamboyant self-publicist Simmons has dressed in women’s attire many, many times before for the camera and on TV.

The fact that Simmons was photographed a week ago wearing a beard should be the first clue that there may be less to this story than appears. Add the fact that in March the New York Daily News reported that Simmons had been kidnapped by his maid, prompting Simmons to emerge from seclusion to assure the world he was fine, and you realize that the ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies’ star is the subject of frequently wild speculation.

If he wants to transition to a woman, that’s great – but this unsubstantiated story and misleading photo don’t suggest that’s the case.
There’s also less than appears in the Globe’s “world exclusive’ cover story “Patrick Swayze died a battered husband,” accompanied by a photo of the ‘Dirty Dancing’ star with shocking black eye and bruised lip, allegedly beaten in his final months by his wife, Lisa. The supposed “tragic truth,” exposed by an unnamed “friend,” is brought to harrowing life by the image of a gaunt and beaten Swayze – if only it were real. Harder to find than Waldo, hidden away at the foot of the page in the smallest of print are the tell-tale words: “Photo dramatization.”

There’s no such caption on the Enquirer’s photo of Hillary Clinton, however, showing the Democrat’s presidential hopeful wearing an orange prison tunic and pants, her wrists shackled by a chain around her waist. “She should be jailed for compromising top U.S. secrets,” says the fair and balanced Enquirer, which notes the result of its readers’ general election poll, showing that 60 per cent support Donald Trump. You’d expect the other 40 per cent to support aliens or tabloid favorite Bat Boy, but no – they opt …read more

Stanford rapist Brock Turner: “I've been shattered by the party culture”


Convicted rapist and former Stanford University student Brock Allan Turner blames the sexual assault he committed on Jan. 17, 2015, on a campus culture of excessive alcohol consumption, peer pressure, and “sexual promiscuity.”

Because, like, there’s no way that Brock Allan Turner–oh by the way, did you see his swimming times?–could have raped a woman because he’s a rapist.


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Watch: Fascinating panel on legal and privacy concerns for Big Data and the Internet of Things


In “It’s a brave new world: Avoiding legal, privacy, and security snafus with big data and the IoT” — a panel from last week’s Strata+Hadoop World conference in San Jose, Alysa Z. Hutnik, a lawyer who specializes in consumer protection in privacy, data security, and advertising and Kristi Wolff, whose legal practice is on liability in food, dietary supplements, medical devices, and emerging health/wearable technology and privacy issues, present an extremely digestable and fascinating look into the lay of the regulatory land for data-collection and user privacy.

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