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watch this large carp escape death by fisherman

not today, fisherman, not today.


reasons to switch to firefox

i'm keep saying i'm going to de-google my digital life, quitting services such as gmail and software such as chrome. so joel lee's recent article, 9 reasons to switch from chrome to firefox, lights a bit of a fire under my feet. in précis: everything bad about firefox from a few years back is fixed, and now it is chrome that is bad.

1. firefox is better for battery life
2. firefox is better for tab-heavy users
3. firefox knows it’s just a browser
4. firefox embraces the open source mindset
5. firefox actually cares about privacy
6. firefox allows more customization
7. firefox supports chrome extensions
8. firefox boasts unique extensions
9. firefox can do what chrome can (mostly)

to which i add 10: fuck amp.

the guide also points out where chrome remains superior: the web inspector's better, it's more polished, complex web apps tend to work better in it because they're targeted at it, and of course it integrates well with google's other services.

this 10mm battery terminal ratchet makes my eternal screwing up less painful

my cars and bikes have the batteries in hard to reach places. this 10mm battery terminal rachet helps out!

in prepping the vanagon westy for a long roadtrip, i found i've killed my house battery. i ordered up a replacement but dreaded getting into the battery box. in a vanagon, volkswagen hides the batteries underneath the passenger and drivers seats. getting at these battery terminals is a comedy of errors and blood. i'd go so far as to say the blood was compulsatory until i got this handy rachet at harbor freight.

it is small. it fits where i need it to. it is a rachet, and as such i am not constantly trying to re-seat the fucker while zapping myself against a grounded battery box in a thoughtlessly engineered tight space. at least vw put a cover on the battery box, albiet a conductive metal one. my '78 audi 5000, the model with occasional self-determination, had a passenger bench burnt with splashed battery acid from another vw/audi underseat battery adventure.

10mm side-terminal battery reversible ratchet wrench chrome-plated via amazon

michael bond, creator of paddington bear, dies at 91

michael bond, 91, died after a short illness at his home in britain, reports his publisher harper collins. he was the creator of peruvian immigrant paddington bear, beloved the world over in books, television and movies. bond was described as "kindly, dignified and charming" by friend and fan stephen fry, traits to be found in abundance throughout an artistic life detailed in the bbc's obituary:

the seeds of the idea had taken root during the war when bond saw newsreels of children being sent out from british cities to avoid german bombing. "i had memories of children being evacuated from london with a label around their necks and all their possessions in a suitcase, and this became part of paddington as well," he said. "paddington bear was a refugee with a label - 'please look after this bear. thank you', and he had a little suitcase."

watch this large carp escape death by fisherman

not today, fisherman, not today.

(via digg)

travel tip: don't throw coins into your plane's engine "for blessings"

a china southern airlines flight from shanghai to guangzhou was delayed for five hours while maintenance workers fished nine coins out of the engine, whence they had been flung "for blessings" by an "elderly passenger" from the boarding ramp, as she was brought onto the plane by her husband, daughter and son-in-law. (more…)

public road built on top of 5-story building in china

what to do in a highly populated city when you've got too many cars and not enough streets? build a two-lane public road on top of a 5-story building, of course.


contraption to shoot mosquitos with laser beams

in development for several years, the photonic fence is an anti-mosquito laser weapon that's apparently now being tested in a real world situation. i hope when it hits the market it still looks like a crazy contraption from a 1960s science fiction film! from the company site:

one potential use of the photonic fence is to create a virtual fence that detects insects as they cross its plane. when an invading insect is detected, our software is able to estimate the insect’s size and measure its wing beat frequency. using this method, not only can the system distinguish between mosquitoes, butterflies, and bumblebees, but it can even determine whether a mosquito is male or female. this is important to know because only female mosquitos bite humans. once the software establishes that the insect is a valid target, it tracks the mosquito in flight, runs a safety check to ensure no innocent bystanders are in view, and then activates a laser to zap the mosquito. the photonic fence could be set along the perimeter of clinics or other strategic areas to control mosquitoes without endangering humans or other animals.

from wired uk:

when intellectual ventures co-founder and former microsoft chief technology officer nathan myhrvold came up with the idea of a bug-killing fence in 2010, the intention was to use it to improve public health in sub-saharan africa. now, however, the photonic fence has become a commercial project with a particular target: the asian citrus psyllid. this insect invader has reduced citrus production in florida by at least 70 per cent over the last 15 years. the device has been installed on a us department of agriculture site in the state for its first real-world test. if all goes to plan, intellectual ventures aims to market the photonic fence to farmers protecting crops from a multitude of other pests.

that epa push to ban a pesticide that harms babies' brains? dropped after trump epa chief pruitt met with dow ceo

scott pruitt, the trump administration’s top environmental official, privately met with the ceo of dow chemical just before reversing the epa's efforts to ban a widely used dow pesticide. multiple scientific studies showed chlorpyrifos can damage the brains of children.

today's associated press story is a clear case for why the environmental protection agency and its appointed leader matter to american lives.

environmental protection agency administrator scott pruitt’s schedule shows he met with dow ceo andrew liveris on march 9 for about a half hour at a houston hotel. both men were featured speakers at an energy industry conference. twenty days later pruitt announced his decision to deny a petition to ban dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide from being sprayed on food, despite a review by his agency’s scientists that concluded ingesting even minuscule amounts of the chemical can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.

epa spokeswoman liz bowman said tuesday that pruitt was “briefly introduced” to liveris at the conference.

“they did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” bowman said. “during the same trip he also met with the canadian minister of natural resources, and ceos and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

epa released a copy of pruitt’s march meeting schedule earlier this month following several freedom of information act requests. though his schedule for the intervening months has not yet been released, bowman said pruitt has had no other meetings with the dow ceo. there was a larger group meeting that pruitt attended which also included two other dow executives, but she said that didn’t involve chlorpyrifos.

dow, which spent more than $13.6 million on lobbying in 2016, has long wielded substantial political power in the nation’s capital.

when president donald trump signed an executive order in february mandating the creation of task forces at federal agencies to roll back government regulations, he handed the pen to dow’s chief executive, who was standing at his side. liveris heads a white house manufacturing working group. his company also wrote a $1 million check to help underwrite trump’s inaugural festivities.

in december, before he was even inaugurated, then president-elect trump appointed dow ceo liveris to his presidential manufacturing council. the two have close ties, it would appear.

in a letter to pruitt on tuesday, the american academy of pediatrics urged the epa chief to ban chlorpyrifos.

the group representing more than 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons said it is “deeply alarmed” by pruitt’s decision to allow the pesticide’s continued use.

“there is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women,” the academy said in a letter to pruitt. “the risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.”

the ap reported in april that dow is also lobbying the trump administration to “set aside” the findings of federal scientists that organophosphate pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, are harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.

read the full associated press report here.


photo: u.s. president-elect donald trump greets andrew nicholas liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of the dow chemical company to the stage at a ''thank you usa'' tour rally in grand rapids, michigan, u.s. december 9, 2016. reuters/mike segar

how to "fix" a canon printer with a giant hand-made hammer

i like john heisz' way of getting things done:

the u052 canon printer error can be fixed in the following way:

"to try and resolve the u052 error, please remove and then reseat all of the ink tanks and print head in the unit. next, please turn off the printer, unplug the power cord from the back and leave it out for at least 10 minutes, then plug it back in and turn it back on."

or, when that doesn't work, there's always the stake maul fix.

[via core 77]

disney world's hall of presidents trumpbot will speak after all

disney has denied rumors that the trumpbot in disney world's hall of the presidents would not have a speaking role due to a combination of the president's toxic reputation, disney employees' animus for him, and trump's own unwillingness to schedule a recording session. (more…)

dave rosser, afghan whigs guitarist, rip

dave rosser, an incredibly talented musician, exemplary human being, and pillar of the new orleans music community, died last night surrounded by love in new orleans.


texas congresscritter wants to gag small investors who object to large ceo paychecks

rep jeb hensarling [r-tx/+1 202 225-3484/@rephensarling] is the sponsor of hr 10, the financial choice act of 2017, which will ban investors from putting petitions to the shareholders and board of publicly traded companies, except when investors own more than 1% of the company for at least three years. (more…)

god is disappointed in you

i recently started to re-read god is disappointed in you, which i read for the first time a couple of years ago. it's an amazing piece of work. here's my original review:

i’m not religious, and i have not read the old testament or the new testament (i did read r. crumb’s graphic novel of the book of genesis and enjoyed it). i’ve tried to read the king james version a few times, but i got bored and stopped very early on. recently, top shelf sent me a copy of god is disappointed in you, a new version of the bible written in contemporary, casual language. it’s bound in textured fake leather like a regular bible, with gold edged pages and a ribbon bookmark. it has illustrations by new yorker and too much coffee man cartoonist shannon wheeler, which piqued my interest. as soon as i started reading it, i was hooked. the author, mark russell, was able to make the stories come alive by telling them as if they happened today, using language that a smart, funny, middle-school student might use to recount the story of an epic playground fight.

i don’t know if people who take the bible seriously will be offended by this book, but i suspect many of them will not. it is not a sarcastic put down of the bible, but a fresh interpretation. i compared some of the stories in god is disappointed in you with the stories in other traditional bibles and russell is not exaggerating or misrepresenting the content of the earlier versions. i asked my friend, a pastor and author who is a serious bible scholar, what he thought of god is disappointed in you, and said it was fantastic.

the bible is an incredibly weird book, and i thank mark russell for rewriting it in a way that made it understandable and interesting to me.

celebrity cosmetic surgery, secret hookups, and a baby black market, all in this week’s tabloids

did tom cruise buy babies on the black market? did ben affleck and jennifer garner have a secret bahamas getaway? has queen elizabeth refused to bless prince harry’s wedding?

when have the tabloids ever been wrong?

it's yet another week of fact-challenged stories in the dubious tabloids and celebrity magazines.

barbra streisand has allegedly undergone $360,000-worth of cosmetic surgery to rebuild her face and “save her crumbling marriage” so that she is now “totally unrecognizable,” reports the ‘globe.’ the mag unhelpfully includes a photo of the new-look streisand who is unmistakably recognizable as the famed diva.

also allegedly rebuilding her face is “plastic surgery junkie” melanie griffith, who in a “desperate bid to live to 100” has returned to the acqua klinik in germany to receive stem cell treatments, reports the ’national enquirer.' but even if the treatments succeed in making the actress look younger, they aren’t intended to prolong life - that’s pure tabloid fantasy - they’re supposed to make her appear younger.

‘us’ magazine devotes its cover and four inside pages to affleck and garner’s “secret bahamas reunion!” so secret was their rendezvous that it’s also pictured extensively in the ‘enquirer’ (“ben & jen’s hookup in paradise!”), which touts the story as an ‘enquirer exclusive.’ from the photos it’s plain that they’re not hiding from the paparazzi. no secrets to hide here.

did tom cruise, john travolta and other celebrities adopt babies in “scientology’s baby black market’ as the ‘enquirer’ claims? its breaking news about events 20 years ago claims that the stars adopted children through an unlicensed broker - but buried deep within the “ten-month investigation” report is an admission that the adoptions were ultimately handled by an attorney “to be done correctly” - completely undercutting the story. no black market, and nothing illegal.

has the queen refused to give her blessing to prince harry’s wedding to american actress meghan markle, as the ‘globe’ claims? it seems unlikely, since the couple are not even engaged yet. the ‘globe’ explains that "the divorced tv actress ‘isn’t a good fit’ with the royal family." but since prince charles divorced and remarried divorcée camilla parker bowles, surely markle’s status as a divorcée is hardly an impediment?

fortunately we have the crack investigative team at ‘us’ mag to tell us that victoria justice wore it best (do you really “wear” a clutch purse - and can one really be judged for carrying it best? did lauren cohan really carry her clutch bag the worst? sad), that la la anthony totally hates mustard, former bachelorette contestant ashley iaconetti (really scraping the bottom of the celebrity barrel here) carries almonds, mascara and a sewing kit in her forever 21 tote, and that the stars are just like us: they ride bikes, make phone calls, and use umbrellas when it rains. wow. i always thought celebrities walked everywhere, sent telegrams, and got wet when it rained.

bringing us truly important news we can use, ‘us’ mag also brings us “hollywood’s hottest hunks!” while ‘people’ magazine offers “gorgeous celebrity weddings” and devotes its cover to john f kennedy’s jr’s wife carolyn bessette kennedy: “her untold story.” it’s a tale that might have been more interesting when she died, rather than 18 years later when it just feels dated.

proving that rap stars are people too, sean combs, at home with his six children, tells ‘people’: “i’m the luckiest man alive,” and the mag explains why kim kardashian and kanye west have hired a surrogate to have their third child: “kim was told she couldn’t carry another baby - that it would be too dangerous,” says an unnamed source. maybe she keeps dropping them? maybe she can’t even carry a clutch bag? enquiring minds want to know.

in other up-to-the-minute news, the ‘national examiner’ bring us the ‘bizarre secrets of ‘men in black,’” which will be great if they ever invent a time machine and take us back to 1997 when this article will appear more like breaking news. failing to find any evidence of aliens, bigfoot, yeti or the loch ness monster this week, the ‘examiner’ tells us that the “mystical crane will bring you luck, love, prosperity and vitality.” but you don’t have to catch your own bird to have all that luck and the sort of long life that sends melanie griffith scurrying to mysterious german kliniks - you simply have to “clip & save” the photo of an origami paper crane that the ‘examiner’ has helpfully included in its article. “for a boost in prosperity, place the crane image just inside your front door,” advises the mag. or put the image in your wallet to attract love, in a sunny window for healing energy, or in a bowl of fruit “to smooth family discord.” that’s news you can use.

onwards and downwards . . .

researchers demonstrate attack for pwning entire wind-farms

university of tulsa security researchers jason staggs and his colleagues will present adventures in attacking wind farm control networks at this year's black hat conference, detailing the work they did penetration-testing windfarms. (more…)

how one lego reseller built an artificial intelligence to sort bricks

jacques mattheij hoped to make some cash buying cheap boxes of used, unsorted lego that he'd organize into more valuable assortments for resale. after acquiring two metric tons of bricks, he was motivated to build a technological solution for sorting. he outfitted a conveyor belt with a cheap magnifying usb camera and employed air nozzles to blow the bricks into various bins. the bigger challenge though was how to get the pc to identify the bricks. from ieee spectrum:

after a few other failed approaches, and six months in, i decided to try out a neural network. i settled on using tensorflow, an immense library produced by the google brain team. tensorflow can run on a cpu, but for a huge speed increase i tapped the parallel computing power of the graphics processing unit in my us $700 gtx1080 ti nvidia video card....

...i managed to label a starter set of about 500 assorted scanned pieces. using those parts to train the net, the next day the machine sorted 2,000 more parts. about half of those were wrongly labeled, which i corrected. the resulting 2,500 parts were the basis for the next round of training. another 4,000 parts went through the machine, 90 percent of which were labeled correctly! so, i had to correct only some 400 parts. by the end of two weeks i had a training data set of 20,000 correctly labeled images...

once the software is able to reliably classify across the entire range of parts in my garage, i’ll be pushing through the remainder of those two tons of bricks. and then i can finally start selling off the results!

"how i built an ai to sort 2 tons of lego pieces" (ieee spectrum)

eff will defend mcmansion hell from zillow's copyfraudulent bullying

mcmansion hell is a hilarious blog where johns hopkins peabody institute graduate student kate wagner posts scorching critiques of the architecture of mcmansions -- but this week, wagner announced that she had shut down her blog after spurious legal threats from zillow, which admits that it doesn't even hold the copyrights to the images it wants wagner to stop using. (more…)

kickstarting a new girl genius collection

phil foglio (previously) writes, "studio foglio is kickstarting a new girl genius collection! the incorruptible library covers the adventures of agatha heterodyne and her friends as they journey beneath the streets of paris. there they encounter hidden subterranean civilizations, forgotten labyrinths filled with secrets, and a healthy dollop of adventure, romance, and mad science!" (more…)

gentleman jumps from balcony with parachute he bought online as wife and kid cry

this fellow had the good sense to buy a parachute before inviting his family to watch him jump from the balcony.