Day: October 26, 2016

Scientists find first of its kind two-headed shark

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University of Malaga scientists were studying the cardiovascular systems of Atlantic sawmill catsharks (catshark (Galeus atlanticus) when they found one with two heads. This is the first time that dicephaly (two-headedness) has been seen in an egg-laying shark. From National Geographic:

The causes of dicephaly aren’t known, but the researchers—led by Valentín Sans-Coma of the University of Malaga—suspect that genetics are the most likely culprit (rather than some environmental factor, à la Blinky, the three-eyed fish, from The Simpsons)…

“We see two-headed sharks occasionally,” says George Burgess, director of the Florida program for shark research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “It’s an anomaly, caused by a genetic misfire. There are lots of different kinds of genetic misfires, and most don’t make it out of the womb.”

“There’s a reason you don’t see a lot of sharks with two heads swimming around: they stand out like a sore thumb, so they get eaten,” adds Burgess. “They would have trouble swimming and probably digesting food.”

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Philip Roth donating his personal book collection to Newark Public Library

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The Newark Public Library is the scene of Philip Roth’s novella Goodbye, Columbus. Now, Roth is donating his personal book collection to that same library. From the New York Times:

Mr. Roth’s library, some 4,000 volumes, is now stored mostly at his house in northwest Connecticut, where it has more or less taken over the premises. A room at the back of the house has been given over to nonfiction. It has library shelves, library lighting — everything except a librarian, Mr. Roth said recently on the phone from his New York apartment. Fiction starts in the living room, takes up all the walls in a front study, and has also colonized a guest bedroom upstairs. Copies of Mr. Roth’s own books and their many translations are stuffed in closets and piled in the attic. The books that were helpful to Mr. Roth in his research for his novel “The Plot Against America” are all grouped together, as are those he consulted for “Operation Shylock….”

The books will be shelved in Newark exactly as they are in Connecticut — not a window into Mr. Roth’s mind exactly, but physical evidence of the eclectic writers who helped shape it: Salinger, Bellow, Malamud, Kafka, Bruno Schulz. Many of the volumes are heavily underlined and annotated…

“I’m 83, and I don’t have any heirs,” Mr. Roth said, explaining why he decided to give the library away. “If I had children it might be a different story. It’s not a huge library, but it’s special to me, and I wanted it preserved as it was, if only for historical interest: What was an American writer reading in the second half of the 20th century.”

A Scene Right Out of Philip Roth: His Books Come Home to Newark’s Library(New York Times)

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This highly rated and affordable smartwatch also looks kind of like a real watch

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I’ve never really felt the need to purchase a smartwatch because a lot of them aren’t very functional, but at just shy of $30, the Martian Notifier Smartwatch was worth checking out. For that low of a price, it actually does feature an impressive amount of functionality, and comes in handy when you don’t want to be carrying around your phone.

When checking the watch out, two things really stood out to me. First there’s a little tab on the menu that lets you find your phone when you’ve misplaced it just by tapping a button. It can even ping you when you forget your phone. Second is that you can snap pictures from your phone remotely which is pretty handy if you’re shy about asking someone else to take a picture of you.

The Martian Notifier also has four out of five stars on Amazon (out of over 740 total reviews).

So I suggest checking out this watch even if you’ve never thought yourself the smartwatch type. It’s currently 76% off retail, at just $29.99 for the white, red, or black color options.

Also explore the Best-Sellers on our network right now:

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Marvelous 360 degree ring of Pringles

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Jane Espenson is not only a talented TV writer who has worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, and Once Upon A Time, she is also quite adept at constructing impressive Pringles structures.

“I did it!” she tweeted. “I did it! I built a Pringles ringle! No glue, just physics.”

Most impressive to me is how Espenson managed to complete the ring before eating them all, as I most certainly would have done.

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WATCH: Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star destroyed

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Dominic Patten reports that Donald Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star was destroyed early Wednesday morning by a man dressed as a city construction worker.

The vandal smashed it up with a sledgehammer and pickaxe—and was filmed doing so. Police didn’t arrive in time to save it or arrest the culprit. [h/t Gina Loukareas]

The man, who told Deadline his name was Jamie Otis, said he was trying to extract the star to auction it off and raise funds for the women who have come forward to accuse Trump of sexually assaulting them over the decades. … The incident occurred around 5:45 AM with a few bystanders stopping to watch. An LAPD police cruiser showed up around 6:15, but Otis already had left the scene.

The aftermath:

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Haunting an X-rated movie screening... for science!

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In 1960, parapsychologist Anthony Donald Cornell donned a bed sheet and attempted to scare an audience watching an X-rated film in a movie theater. Why? Cornell, a believer in ghosts himself, wanted to understand how people reacted during “apparitional experiences.” Today at the BBC, University of Oxford experimental psychologist Matthew Tompkins explores Cornell’s strange experiments and considers how his methods may have contributed to the study of “inattentional blindness.” Indeed, the ghost in the movie theater experiment is not unlike Daniel Simons and Christopher Chablis’s classic “Selective Attention Test” from 1999. If you’re not aware of that experiment, the video below is a must-see. From the BBC:

For Cornell, the experiment was another failure. None of the audience reported anything remotely paranormal. Many saw nothing unusual at all: 46% of the respondents had failed to notice the Experimental Apparition when Cornell first passed in front of the screen, and 32% remained completely unaware of it. Even the projectionist, whose job was to watch for anything unusual, reported that he had completely failed to notice the apparition. Those that did see ‘something’ were not particularly accurate in their descriptions….

For me, these failures to see are by far the most exciting part of the experimental series. The pleasure of reading Cornell’s original reports, which were published in 1959 and 1960 in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, is that he writes in matter-of-fact academic prose. He dutifully reports numbers and exact quotes from participants, and walks the reader through the details of his experimental designs without a glimmer of apparent irony. To him, the cinema audience and the X-rated film simply represented an elegant solution to a methodological problem….

Even though inattentional blindness is now an established phenomenon with the scientific community, in general, everyday people are not necessarily aware of it. Contemporary surveys have shown that most people firmly believe that they would notice unexpected objects and events, even if they were paying attention to something else.

The strange tale of an X-rated haunting(BBC)

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The incredible and dying art of Japanese candy sculpture

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Shinri Tezuka, 27, sculpts candy into beautiful, creepy, and very sweet creatures like goldfish and octopuses. The centuries-old practice is called amezaiku, but according to Great Big Story, “today there are only two artists left in Tokyo. Tezuka hopes his elaborate goldfish, frog and octopus designs will inspire the next generation of candy crafters to keep the tradition alive.”

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Fun book about toys of the '50s, '60s and '70s

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There are lots of books about baby boomer toys, but this fun collection is presented from the viewpoint of the kids who played with the toys and includes lots of personal memories and photographs. Sure, there are many interesting facts and histories about well-known toys and their creators. Classic toys and games that are still made today like Tonka trucks, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Twister and Mousetrap are featured in loving color photographs and vintage ads. Their stories are well-known, too. For example, writer and artist Johnny Gruelle patented his rag doll design in 1915, the same year his daughter Marcella died after a controversial smallpox vaccination. The Rageddy Ann and Andy dolls and books helped Gruelle keep his memories of his daughter alive.

Famous fads include the ’50s Davy Crocket Coonskin Hats, the ’60s Troll dolls, and the ’70s Pet Rock. Toys always reflect the times they’re from and this book provides plenty of cultural and historical background. Only after the heady 1960s and ’70s with women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, and Black Power movement would there be an anatomically correct African American baby boy doll, Mattel’s Baby Tender Love, molded in life-like vinyl skin called Dublon.

Other less well-known toys are long gone from the toy store shelves but live on in the very personal memories (and actual childhood photographs!) featured throughout the book. Home health training specialist Lisa Crawford (b 1963) appropriately recalls the insanely dangerous metal-tipped lawn Jarts. I was delighted to find Make editor and fellow WINK contributor Gareth Branwyn’s (b 1958) recollection of using his own Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit to get an A+ on a school project (and to keep tabs on any hometown polluters!). Learn the mysteries of Ike-A-Doos, create a Cootie, and check out Schwinn’s Lil’ Chik for-girls-only line of bikes.

I was charmed by these personal toy stories. I was also lucky enough to see this show of toys at Seattle Museum of History and Industry. Even if you weren’t able to see this traveling Minnesota Historical Society-curated show, which ended last month, you can explore these memorable toys with the book.

Toys of the ‘50s, ’60s and ’70s

by Kate Roberts and Adam Scher

Minnesota Historical Society Press

2014, 208 pages, 8 x 10 x 0.7 inches (softcover)

$23 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

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The 13 best Japanese horror movies

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Japanese culture website Tofugu has a rundown of the best Japanese horror movies of all time. Number 6 on the list is Hausu, a cartoonishly gory flick from 1977.

This is what makes Hausu great. It’s an absolutely childish horror movie. So much so that the characters are one-dimensional (their names even indicate their behavior). But it all plays into the experience. Watching Hausu as an adult means you’re forced to think like a child and find scary the things children find scary. This makes for gory fun when the piano starts dismembering people, blood gushing out its sides.

Sometimes Hausu’s blend of silliness and gore is perfect. Other times not so much. But despite the film’s imperfection, it works because it’s authentic. Though people in 2010 praised Hausu for its “wackiness,” I think affection for the film comes from its authenticity. Hausu knows exactly what it wants to be and goes for it full force. Combine that with a childlike perspective and you’ve got a film worth falling in love with.

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Loverro: U.S. government needs to rethink how it works with private space ventures

The U.S. government should overhaul regulations for space operations in order to attract more investment from the private sector, a panel of experts said Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (L to R) Todd Harrison, CSIS senior fellow; Doug Loverro, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy; Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University; Dawn Harms, vice president, Boeing Satellite Systems International; Marcy Steinke, vice president, Digital Globe; and Richard Leshner, vice president, Planet Labs. Credit: C-SPAN

WASHINGTON — The next big change in space operations could be the paperwork.

The U.S. government needs to reform and rethink its policies about working with private companies, in order to make the opportunities more agile and enticing for businesses, a panel of military and civilian experts said Monday.

“How will we make sure regulation doesn’t disadvantage either our companies or our activities?” said Doug Loverro, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy. “I think that’s a key question. I don’t believe anybody knows the answer to that question.”

The panel on military-commercial relations in space was hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a kick-off to the think tank’s new Aerospace Security Project to study air and space issues more closely.

The regulatory framework of the nation’s space business has lagged behind rapid developments in the field, Loverro said. Some areas, like remote sensing, are stuck with outdated rules that require “regulatory reform, regulatory relaxation,” while other activities such as space traffic management “don’t have any regulation to date.”

Richard Leshner, vice president at Planet, a satellite-imaging company, said the commercial space industry is now “a partner leg” in space operations “in a way that’s more than just being the industrial contractor base.”

“Industry’s doing things differently and quickly,” he said. “Government, military, civil, needs to find a way to do rapid demonstrations and get data and information about what capabilities can bring.”

The government needs to “find ways to engage with industry through demonstrations, experiments, data buys, and figuring it out in real time, and then integrating that into the planning now so that your future architectures are integrated as well,” Leshner said.

Planet holds a $20 million contract with the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to supply imagery from the constellation of small satellites the company is deploying.

While there’s been an effort to make regulations less cumbersome to businesses, some of the rules are still being enforced as if the U.S. government is the only operator in orbit, said Marcy Steinke, vice president at Digital Globe, a satellite-imaging company that received roughly half of its first quarter revenue from a long-standing NGA contract.

“Some of the things they’re looking at is the regulatory oversight, which probably — when it was set up 20-plus years ago — made sense when every satellite was a classified government satellite,” she said. “But now that the world is different, we need to look at what do they really need to oversee and what can we let go. I hope that 2017 is the year where the answer comes; there’s a lot that can be let go.”

Steinke said her company has heard from several clients who have described the U.S. licensing and regulatory process as “restrictive.”

“The concern with the slowness of it is that that slow and cumbersome process just pushes customers to international competitors,” she said.

The current constrained fiscal environment might force the government and military to take a second-look at partnerships with commercial space vendors, said Scott Pace, the director of George Washington University’s Space …read more

Clinton's camp feared Joe Biden run, worked hard to kill it

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign team “scrambled” after coming to believe Joe Biden would oppose her for the Democratic presidential nomination, reports Fox News. Some delicious, if insidery machinations turned up in campaign chief Joe Podesta’s hacked email, as published by Wikileaks:

just three days later, the Biden threat appeared vanquished. Ron Klain, a former Biden chief of staff who is now an operative for the Clinton campaign, emailed Podesta with a cryptic note of thanks.

“It’s been a little hard for me to play such a role in the Biden demise – and I am definitely dead to them — but I’m glad to be on Team HRC, and glad that she had a great debate last night,” Klain wrote.

Six days later, on Oct. 21, Biden, with Obama by his side, gave a news conference from the White House declaring he wouldn’t run.

Biden would have sailed away from Trump much earlier and faster than Hillary Clinton did. But beyond the easy victory she’s likely to win anyway all told, he doesn’t have much to recommend him over her, and lacks many of her — yes, I know! — her scruples.

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Do not complain about bodega cats on Yelp

Image: Flickr/Seth Werkheiser

Keeping a cat in a NYC bodega is technically against the rules, but everybody loves bodega cats. Everybody but a certain Yelp review, who is now getting a lot of flak for complaining about a bodega cat at SK Deli in the East Village.

You gotta be a miserable gentrifying ass bitch to yelp about the bodega cat pic.twitter.com/rinaytDanY

— سنكامي (@SynKami) October 24, 2016

From Brokelyn:

The reviewer has been getting roasted by fellow Yelpers with comments like: “No one likes you. This deli has pretty much anything you might want out of a deli. Owner is a hard ass but the cat is awesome,” which is about the perfect description for most bodegas in New York.

From Gothamist:

Deli and bodega owners face fines of up to $3,000 for having a cat or cats in their establishments, but they also face fines of $300 for the discovery of rodent fecal matter. Lost inventory is another cost, as rats and mice like to chew through containers and eat the food that is left overnight on shelves like a rodent buffet.

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How a poorly explained mistake continues to threaten the political career of Hillary Clinton

Image: Doc/Flickr

Ken Crossland has a good explainer piece on the Hillary Clinton email issue that conservatives have used to bludgeon her campaign for months.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a technophile. She viewed her set-up as a means to an end. Was it working? Great. Did she care how it worked? No. It’s likely as simple as that.

I’m pretty convinced, viewing the evidence, that Hillary Clinton believes she’s in the right with her email server, that it helped her do her job well, and that it kept America safe. What irks the public is that we know that she knows that we know that Clinton doesn’t actually care that she used a private server, and the only thing she laments is that it blew up in her face.

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History of Mechanical Keyboards

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Andrew Lekashman offers a brief pictorial a history of mechanical keyboards, from adding machines to dumb terminals to Symbolics monstrosities to modern blank-key hacker totems. There was a lot of ingenious tech left by the wayside on the way to finding the perfect click.

Pictured above is one not included in the roundup, a particularly beautiful Raytheon(!) model that can be bought on eBay for $300, then sent to me.

Lekashman’s tastes are grittier:

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Ultrasonic I Plus

This keyboard is acoustic and operates entirely by vibration. This makes it more like a musical instrument than a workplace device. This is something that hasn’t been replicated in the keyboard market since 1982. The specific principle that allows it to work is called Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA). This is like a form of echo-location to measure which key hits the acoustic transfer bar. Whenever a switch is pressed, a metal “slapper” strikes the bar, and transducers measure the sound wave produced, which differs based on the distance of the slapper from the transducer. Typing on the keyboard is delightfully clicky and pleasantly tactile.

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Trump brand "loses luster" amid campaign

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Trump hotels are slashing their rates to try and maintain occupancy, and similar stories are emerging from other corners of the Trump brand-licensing empire held to be the source of The Donald’s wealth. The simple answer is that he’s just ruining his brand, but it may be truer to say that his political base is becoming his clientele.

The Republican nominee for president is in danger of losing not just the election, but something dear to a man who claims the marketing value of his name alone is worth $3 billion: the many customers, mostly wealthy, who have stayed at his hotels, played a round at his golf courses or held galas at his oceanside resorts.

Experts say the Trump brand is tarnished and at a tricky crossroads as his appeal shifts from the well-heeled, high-income people he has long courted to a more middle-class base, including the fervent fans he cultivated during the campaign.

There is speculation that he could start a Trump media network as a right-wing alternative to major news outlets, drawing money from advertisers to make up for any weakness in his empire elsewhere. But he may have to pivot fast.

“The current trajectory is very harmful to his businesses,” said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University. “Right now his brands cater to the affluent, who are disproportionately turned off by his activities.”

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How Lucky Ducky Gets His Loopholes!

FOLLOW @RubenBolling on the Twitters and a Face Book.

JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug’s subscription club, the Proud & Mighty INNER HIVE, for exclusive early access to comics, extra comics, and oh, so much more.

GET Ruben Bolling’s new hit book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. (”A book for the curious and adventurous!” -Cory Doctorow) Book One here. Book Two here.

More Tom the Dancing Bug comics on Boing Boing!
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Leaked Kremlin memos reveal plan to destabilize Ukraine

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The Kiberkhunta hacker group has dumped 2,000 messages from Putin aide Vladislav Surkov’s email, including two documents related to the Kremlin’s plans to consolidate their annexation of Ukraine: “Priority Action Plan to Destabilize the Social-Political Situation in Ukraine,” and “Concrete Action Plan on the Promotion of the Federal Status of Zakarpattia Oblast.”
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When the FCC asked about unlocking set-top boxes, the Copyright Office ran to the MPAA

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It’s been more than 20 years since Congress told the FCC that it should do something about the cable and satellite companies’ monopolies over set-top boxes (American households spend more than $200/year to rent these cheap, power-hungry, insecure, badly designed, trailing edge, feature-starved boxes), but it wasn’t until this year that the FCC announced its Unlock the Box order and asked for comments.
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Pussy Riot's "Straight Outta Vagina": sacrelicious Russian feminist pop anthem

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Pussy Riot’s video for “Straight Outta Vagina” frames the poppy, danceable song with visuals calculated to enrage the Kremlin, with LA’s Ace Hotel standing in for church where various genderbent dancers receive communion while singing the praises of vaginas. Given that the last iteration of this theme landed the musicians in a hard labor gulag where they were subjected to routine sexual assaults, it’s a pretty big fuck you to the Russian establishment. (via Bruce Sterling)

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Warner Bros angry that someone other than the MPAA is running an illegal internal movie server

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Warner Bros has sued talent agency Innovative Artists for running an internal-use Google Drive folder that let its clients and staff review movies in the course of their duties. They say the company ripped “screeners” (DVDs sent for review purposes) and put them on the server, whence they leaked onto torrent sites.
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AT&T developed a "product" for spying on all its customers and made millions selling it to warrantless cops

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AT&T’s secret “Hemisphere” product is a database of calls and call-records on all its customers, tracking their location, movements, and interactions — this data was then sold in secret to American police forces for investigating crimes big and small (even Medicare fraud), on the condition that they never reveal the program’s existence.
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Donald Trump accepts Joe Biden fisticuffs challenge

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The election’s basically over now and everyone’s just having “fun”. Millionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump has accepted Vice President Joe Biden’s challenge to a fistfight.

“I’d love that. I’d love that. Mr. Tough Guy. You know, he’s Mr. Tough Guy. You know when he’s Mr. Tough Guy? When he’s standing behind a microphone by himself,” Trump said.

“Some things in life you could really love doing,” Trump added.

Trump’s response to the vice president came after Biden said last week he wished he could “take him behind the gym” during a stump speech Friday as he slammed

Trump’s 2005 comments that resurfaced earlier this month in which Trump bragged about being able to grope and kiss women without their consent, which Biden called “the textbook definition of sexual assault.”

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