Category: Politics

Camouflage sweaters knitted by the artist Nina Dodd

Hand-knit sweater camouflage. This is big: NASA discovers there’s a lot of easy-to-access ice on Mars. A computer language where you code in Filipino. A twitterbot that tweets whenever the New York Times uses a word for the first time. An analog split-flap display that I want sooooo bad. Why UV-sensing tech might encourage us to get more sun, not less. A superb thread on Trump’s “s**thole” comment, and its deep historical context. How to make an anonymous, collaborative Google spreadsheet. How to fold a circle into an ellipse. A flower that never blooms. And … my latest Boing Boing posts: i) The secret physics behind the ultrablack feathers of “birds of paradise”; ii) Frankenstein considered as a novel about climate catastrophe; iii) a study finds that ocean waves can hurl ashore boulders 2.5X the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

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A photo from the book "Things Organized Neatly", of dozens of locks laid out in a rough grid

A book of photos of things organized neatly. Yet another weird signal from space, which quite certainly isn’t aliens even though wow yeah isn’t that precisely what the heat-signature of an interstellar spacecraft would look like? How Leibniz tried to create a 17th-century machine that would calculate pure reason. A set of robot hands that listen to your speech, autotranscribe it, then type it out on a manual typewriter. I’m gonna build this Arduino-powered stompbox and program it to deliver a different random effect every time you step on it. What’s it like to be a bee? Being curious about science may make you more open to changing your mind politically. Meditation glasses.

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A illustration of NASA's proposed Dragonfly quadracopter exploring Titan, Saturn's moon

A new NASA project would land a quadracopter on Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon. A fidget spinner turned into a brushless motor. “Enjoy screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.” “Fifteen Minutes of Unwanted Fame”, an analysis of doxing. An acoustic analysis finds that Botswana appears to have the most unique music in the world. What it’s like adopting an electric bike as your main mode of transport. A study finds that people who know more about how journalism is produced are less likely to believe in conspiracy theories. A piece in praise of American infrastructure. “Hidden camera captures rare pig thought extinct” is a pretty great headline. D’Arcy Thompson’s Victorian quest to answer the question, “are all fish the same shape if you stretch them?”

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A chart at Digiconomist showing the power usage of Bitcoin compared to that of several countries
Bitcoin uses so much electricity it is equal to 45% of the energy used in the Czech Republic, and about 6% of that used in Canada. NASA just commanded Voyager 1 to fire up its thrusters for the first time in 37 years; they worked perfectly. “Appeals to Passion, Venom, Sensationalism, Attacks on Honest Officials, Strife, Distorted News, Personal Grievance, [and] Misrepresentation”: The shoddy journalism of 1910. A philosopher makes the case the virtues of never being born. A study finds most Redditors vote on a link without reading the article. A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, though they’re not as sure what the alternate should be; intriguing and subtle stuff here. Ten years of Kindle design. I am going to make this lovely angled origami box.

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A dog with a high-tech speedometer wrapped around its torso

A speedometer for dogs. A sudoku solver, using machine-learning, that works in AR. A brilliant web game based on the “AI paperclip problem” posed by Nick Bostrum. (The Reddit thread of gamers playing the game is pretty epic, too.) 30,000 bees, hidden in the walls of a house. An interactive map showing how hot your corner of the US will get by 2100. Why Canada should annex America’s blue states. The annotations on Genius for Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Criticism”. The first x-rays were super unsettling to observers. “Eyes and teeth are sort of a hundred times more scary than other objects.” A reboot of the Commodore 64! Access to USB devices via Javascript: Yeeeeiiiiikes. The decline and fall of high-school debating.

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What Cassini will look like plunging to its death in Saturn. (Start at 2:50 for the fun stuff!) Malaysia has banned “Faith Fighter”, a game where gods from Jesus to Odin duke it out. “The Eighteenth Century Custard Recipe That Enraged Trump Supporters.” The Voynich Manuscript might be a tightly-compressed compendium of guides to women’s health. A 2.5-year-long study finds that “predictive policing” is a crapshow of hunches mathwashed into apparent objectivity. A good Twitter thread on how AI is being used by states for enforcement. Henry Fielding’s 1732 play “The Lottery” is a slashing attack on the idiocy of lottos, and the gullibility upon which they play. Car telemetry can figure out whether you’re texting while driving. The $70 PocketChip considered as a burner laptop for hacker conferences. Why dolphins love hurricanes.

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Painting of an eclipse, originally published in the New York Times

How to paint an eclipse. (Pro tip: Work quickly!) How the military changed food science, with the MRE. Audio recordings from the 1930s and 40s of former slaves, reflecting on their lives during and post-slavery. A short anthropological history of human sleep arrangements. A short history of communist bookstores. Border collies can “fast-map” (infer the name of a new, unfamiliar object) with the acumen of a three-year-old human. A graveyard of software. Datacrunch of the lexical complexity and affective metrics of YA fiction. The problems of, in the digital age, having the last name “Null.

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Photo of text of a joke about Windows

Coder humor. The number of cyclists in NYC who commute to work by bike has exploded, with over 46,000 now, almost 3X the total of ten years ago. German media ponders how to cover the inevitable slew of politically-motivated hacks/leaks in their upcoming election. Ethereum miners are leasing 747s to rush bulk purchases of GPUs to their mines. The rise and fall of Soundcloud. (A well-reported piece, but check out the hilarious correction appended at the end.) A bot that tweets a few random patent filings every day. Calculating the longest possible game of chess. (tl;dr: It’s 5,951 moves.)

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People taking smartphone pictures of van gogh's "Starry Night"

A study finds that snapping pictures of art in a gallery slightly improves your recall of it. (Previous work has found precisely the opposite.) An overturned truck spilled 7,500 pounds of “slime eels” onto a highway. Facebook’s “Mom problem”: If she’s the first one ‘like’ a post, the algorithms assume it’s family-related. A study of 147 cases where praying mantises slaughtered birds. (Yi, the photos are creepy.) “Our young moon’s supersonic winds made waves in its magma ocean.” The joy of typing. A cool new Javascript library for writing bots: Botui.org. If you read only one paper about the asymmetric metaphoric mapping of polysemous words, make it this one. A Kickstarter campaign for Sonnet, long-range-radio hotspots that connect mobile phones off the grid (and mesh!) You’ve heard of the “last mile” problem; here’s the “middle mile” problem. How to keep the romantic flame alive? View your partner’s face amidst a stream of pictures of puppies and bunnies.

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Picture of Mcdonald's Pikachu McFlurry

“Would You Eat A Pokemon McFlurry That Looks Like Pikachu’s Swirled Corpse?” Why we need to reboot the web culture of “view source”: My latest Wired column. (And here’s Sam Arbesman reflecting on the same thing from the Commodore-64 80s — including some lovely BASIC programs his father wrote for him.) How to attach a camera to a humpback whale. The EFF ranks online services by how well they protect your privacy. If you spent tons of time on social media, you’re exposed to an ideological wider array of news sources. The advent of easily-faked video. I am a sucker for all scientific research that suggests you should DRINK MOAR COFFEE

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