Day: July 5, 2016

Tesla: The Life and Times of an Electric Messiah


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Tesla: The Life and Times of an Electric Messiah

Tesla: The Life and Times of an Electric Messiah

by Nigel Cawthorne

Chartwell Books

2014, 192 pages, 7.2 x 10.5 x 0.8 inches

$9 Buy a copy on Amazon

Mad scientist. Inventor. Philosopher. Visionary. Eccentric. A man who was terrible at business, but great with pigeons. A mythic figure, Nicola Tesla was all these things and more. Examining his life and career, Tesla: The Life And Times Of An Electric Messiah is a lengthy, oversized book filled with illustrations, photos, diagrams of his many inventions, and brief, informative vignettes about his friends, colleagues, business associates, and rivals.

Tesla’s own words are pulled from writings and correspondence, and help flesh out a turn-of-the-century futurist, although they can be somewhat dry and academic. His eccentricities liven things up considerably. For instance, did you know he once fell into a vat of boiling milk, and lived on a diet of bread, warm milk, and something mysteriously known as ‘Factor Actus’? Did you know he had a strange aversion to women’s earrings, and would become feverish at the sight of a peach? Tidbits like these keep the book moving at a nice pace, as the man became more reclusive and odd toward the end of his life.

His War Of The Currents with Thomas Edison is detailed, as well as his battle of radio with Guglielmo Marconi. His experiments with wireless transmission of energy, X-Rays, flying machines, remote control, and artificial intelligence are also described, as well as the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his papers concerning his invention of a death ray by the US government. Beautifully illustrated on parchment-tinted paper, Tesla: The Life And Times Of An Electric Messiah is a handsome, encyclopedic book about a startlingly prescient early 20th-century pioneer.

– S. Deathrage

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast resumes ASOIAF book club

Samwell Tarly

Now that the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has ended, Boars, Gore, and Swords returns to the book club format to finish off the last few chapters of A Storm of Swords. In this week’s “Songs for the Deaf Dick,” Ivan and Red cover chapters Samwell IV and Jon XI, skip the previously covered Tyrion XI, and go on to Samwell V and Jon XII. Catch up on previous book club episodes, then join the boys next week as they start on A Feast for Crows.

To catch up on previous television seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon.

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White House contends with AI's big social challenges, July 7/NYC

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Meredith from Simply Secure writes, “Artificial Intelligence is already with us, and the White House and New York University’s Information Law Institute are hosting a major public symposium to face what the social and economic impacts might be. AI Now, happening July 7th in New York City, will address the real world impacts of AI systems in the next next 5-10 years.”

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1ft Apple MFi Certified Short Lightning to USB Cable


I feel like you can’t go wrong with Anker charging cables. I have found them to be more durable than Apple’s own cables, which tend to tear over time. I wanted a short cable to charge my phone from a portable charger, so I bought a 1-foot Anker PowerLine for $9 on Amazon. The housing around the connectors is very sturdy, and has a 4.8 out of 5 star rating on Amazon.

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Say Bye Bye to BlackBerry Smartphone


After just two years of their Classic smartphone launch, BlackBerry announced today that are no longer in the business of making cellphones. According to AP:

BlackBerry has faced calls to stop making cellphones in favor of focusing on its burgeoning software business, but CEO John Chen recently reaffirmed his commitment to stay in the hardware market.

In its most recent quarter of its 2017 financial year, the company sold roughly 500,000 smartphones, about 100,000 smartphones fewer than the previous quarter.

Ralph Pini, the company’s chief operation officer, puts a positive spin on BlackBerry’s future. “We are ready for change so we can give our customers something better.” And the company will continue to offer software updates for its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

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FINALLY! A working Nintendo Gameboy Advance inside Minecraft


A master minecrafter has given us the recursive video gaming experience we didn’t know we needed! Amazingly he has made a working GBA emulator, inside Minecraft! The Gameboy works well enough to play “Pokemon Fire Red.”

Via TechTimes:

Nevertheless, it is still very much surprising when gamers continue to find ways to push the limits of Minecraft, and the latest achievement even gives a nod to another popular video game franchise that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

A YouTuber who goes by the name Reqaug has built a fully functional Gameboy Advance within Minecraft, with the virtual mobile gaming console also capable of playing Pokémon Fire Red.

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Peruvian officials seize eight million dried seahorses


Evidently dried seahorse is super popular in China. Fishing for seahorses is illegal in Peru, where eight million of them were seized last June.

Via National Geographic:

Four years ago Peruvian authorities seized 16,000 dried seahorses abandoned on a street near an airport in Lima, the nation’s capital. If you think that sounds like a whole lot of fish, think again. This time they confiscated eight million of the little creatures at the Port of Callao in Lima—the nation’s largest seahorse haul.

Discovered on June 7, the seahorses were on a Chinese-flagged ship bound for Asia, according to China NewsAsia, which cited a government statement. Authorities arrested the captain in connection with smuggling the goods, worth nearly $4 million on the black market.

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Thief robs GPS tracking manufacturer, gets caught


I doubt this thief knew he was robbing Noa Technologies, the manufacturer of tiny GPS trackers intended to be stashed on public bikeshares. Turns out near everything he stole had a tracker on-board! I bet the San Francisco police officers responding to this call were pretty entertained.

Via the San Francisco Chronicle:

A local thief must have figured he’d made a clean getaway last month. He broke into a house in Noe Valley in the middle of the night and began collecting loot. He grabbed three bicycles and a laptop, then apparently found car keys. He jumped into a 2015 Ford Explorer and roared out of the garage.

And ran smack into the future.

What he didn’t know was that he’d ripped off the work/live space of a company called Noa Technologies, which markets GPS tracking devices. Almost everything the suspect took was outfitted with a tracker. On the scale of bad ideas, this was right up there with attempting a strong-arm robbery of a martial arts academy.

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Headfonia reviews the classic Sennheiser HD650s


Sennheiser’s HD650 headphones are legendary. It should be no surprise Headfonia has offered a new review of the old classics.

I finally held them in my hand. I shook with anticipation. As I set up my system, I did notice that the build quality, although certainly a step up from the HD202, wasn’t quite at the level of the K550. It felt slightly more flimsy. As a paranoid measure, I gave the HD650 its own bed of feathers on which it still spends its nights.

As always with Sennheiser, the first time I put these headphones on, the death grip was in full effect, but after a few hours, the clamping force lightened up, and I found them to be very comfortable. My set-up here consisted of a HP laptop running jRiver media Center, a Dacport LX (which I had gotten as a Christmas gift) and a JDSlabs cMoy. I immediately recognized an upgraded HD202 sound signature. The sound has the same dark tonality, but with much more detail (I’ll take it), a more three dimensional sound (I love it), and a much stronger bass impact (YES!!!).

I bought a pair of HD650s worried my HD580s (a similarly revered, earlier version) might some day wear out. I still listen with both, regularly. I’ve had the HD580s since the 1990s, and have replaced the cable once, and the headband padding, once. The HD650s have never needed a thing. I pair them with a Schiit Lyr/BiFrost set, or a Peachtree Audio Nova. Rock, classical, jazz, blues, funk, every style of music sounds great on these open ear wonders.


You can still buy Sennheiser HD650s via Amazon.

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Hamburger joint run by robots will open in San Francisco


A robotics start-up, Momentum Machines, announced that it is going to open a restaurant in San Francisco that uses robots to make hamburgers.

From PopMech:

Every aspect of the burger is customizable, from thickness and cook time to condiments. The machine will take up about 24 square feet and the tech blog Xconomy predicted it could save a restaurant $90,000 a year in training and salaries.

Many people worry that the use of work-saving robotic technology like this machine will put vast numbers of people out of work. They might be right–one study from last year predicted that there’s a 96.3% chance of restaurant cooks being put out of work by automation.

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Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, the sequel I missed


Cut together from three different animated series, and re-written for a US audience Robotech was thrilling! Airplanes that turned into giant robot battle armor?

One of the first televised anime series I can remember, as a kid I hoped and hoped for the story to continue! Evidently, so did the show producer Harmony Gold, who tried to make several new Robotech properties, but couldn’t quite get one to go.

It seems, in 2006, they quietly snuck Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles in on us! I had no idea.

The Shadow Chronicles runs concurrently with the last episode or two of Robotech, and then continues the story. Decades after a mysterious alien ship crashes to Earth, gifting us with wonderful Robotechnology, and uniting humanity in preparation for an impending alien attack, humanity is screwed! Galaxy wide religious wars are still being fought over energy! The only remaining sources of “porto-culture” are either on Earth, or onboard Admiral Rick Hunter’s long missing Super Dimensional Fortress-3, extracted from of the wreckage of the original alien ship! Everybody wants that protoculture!

I’m not a huge fan of mid-2000’s CGI, but the story is pretty much pure Robotech. Be prepared to take some huge leaps of faith with the characters, and for cliff hanger after cliff hanger to extend the tension from episode to episode, even when edited into movie form. Evidently this was released both as a series, and a single movie.

I enjoyed this new installment, but felt they left us waiting for the next chapter, again.

The movie is on Youtube, and Amazon Prime. The entire original Robotech series is on Amazon Prime as well, and is still a ton of fun to watch!

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Tiny Pac-Man game uses real single cell organisms


Researchers in Norway built a 1mm wide Pac-Man board and populated it with single cell organisms.

From PopSci

You can’t control them, but it’s fascinating (and a bit creepy) to watch Euglena, ciliates, and rotifers wander around the oh-so familiar maze. While the video might give you a creepy-crawly tingle, worry not: there are probably far more microscopic creatures on an old arcade joystick from the original Pac-Man than you could possibly fit in this mini maze.

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Take the Pew Future of the Internet Survey

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The Pew Research Center is soliciting answers for a “Future of the Internet” survey that asks a bunch of thought-provoking questions about the security of the Internet of Things; social cohesion in a social media-dominated public sphere; education and innovation; automation and robots taking our jobs; machine learning and justice; and the tone of the online public sphere in the next 10 years.

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UK Tories use Brexit as an excuse to slash corporate taxes to the lowest of any major economy

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Nearly 2 weeks ago, 17 million Britons (mostly poor) voted to leave the EU in what amounted to a plebiscite on austerity, finance capitalism, and the widening gap between the increasingly wealthy and the increasingly poor. In response, the Conservative government says it will tempt corporations to come to the UK by making the rich get even richer and the poor even poorer.

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The Great Sulphur Pyramids of Alberta


Sulfur, useful as it is, is produced in such vast quantities as a byproduct of energy production that it is of little value. There’s so much of it that Canadian oil company Syncrude’s storage site is slowly turning into an enormous pyramid of sulfur.

Google Maps reveals that there are in fact three of them, a Gizeh of The North!

Here’s a photo by Jason Woodhead, released under the Creative Commons.


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If they keep going, it’ll eventually be far larger than the Great Pyramid in Egypt.


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Evangelicals "rationalizing" their support of Trump

Illo: Rob Beschizza

At The New York Times, Peter Wehner is angry at evangelical leaders who rationalize their support of Donald Trump, a faithless huckster who talks of “Two Corinthians” and mocks the disabled.

This fulsome embrace of Mr. Trump is rather problematic, since he embodies a worldview that is incompatible with Christianity. If you trace that worldview to its source, Christ would not be anywhere in the vicinity.

Time and again Mr. Trump has shown contempt for those he perceives as weak and vulnerable — “losers,” in his vernacular. They include P.O.W.s, people with disabilities, those he deems physically unattractive and those he considers politically powerless. He bullies and threatens people he believes are obstacles to his ambitions. He disdains compassion and empathy, to the point where his instinctive response to the largest mass shooting in American history was to congratulate himself: “Appreciate the congrats for being right.”

What Mr. Trump admires is strength. For him, a person’s intrinsic worth is tied to worldly success and above all to power.

But that is evangelical Christianity in practice, isn’t it? Dobson and Falwell and co., stripping naked at the slightest promise of money or political influence, is what they always do.

Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I’m guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one. … It celebrates the “Übermensch,” or Superman, who rejects Christian morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad. So, too, for Donald Trump.

Attributing Trump to Nietzsche? Good Lord. If Christianity is shriveling on the right, is there any question why? Even their pigeonholes are rotten.

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Bluetooth Aluminum Earbuds that will stay in your ears for 57% Off


There are few things as irrationally infuriating as knocking your earbuds out of your ear while you’re running. Thankfully, Acesori is here to curb your rage! These sleek A.Buds Bluetooth earbuds are explicitly designed for exercise, magnetically connecting to one another and resting safely away from your pumping limbs. Exercise in peace. Please.

Connect the earbuds behind or in front of your neck and control volume, answer or refuse calls, and change tracks right on the earbuds. For only $29.99 you can run, lift, dance – whatever! Your earbuds will finally stay in your ears.

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