Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Nathan Pryor (HaHaBird) made this fantastic life-sized illuminated Minecraft block for his son's birthday. It's lit with RGB LEDs so the color can be changed via remote control. Read the rest
As the world's governments exercise exciting new gag-order snooping warrants that companies can never, ever talk about, companies are trying out a variety of "Ulysses pacts" that automatically disclose secret spying orders, putting them out of business. Read the rest
Growing wealth disparity has produced a new financial hyper-elite who make eight-figure donations to major universities, who hand that money back over to more finance titans in the form of special commissions that are taxed at a ridiculously low rate (making more zillionaire donors). Read the rest
The company is shotgunning DMCA notices against journalists and others who reproduce even the tiniest fraction of the dump of users who signed up to find partners with whom to cheat on their spouses -- included in the dump are thousands of people who paid $15 to have their data permanently deleted from the service. Read the rest
Michael from Muckrock writes, "The federal government has a pretty good picture of where bees are dying across America, with two federal agencies collaborating on a systematic, scientifically-rigorous, long-term look at the problem, particularly important given the danger that colony collapse disorder presented." Read the rest
the four great abrahamic religions
We should all cast aside these lies that hide from us the ‘real problems’. That will solve everything.
I am told not infrequently by people who apparently think they are doing good that my drugs mask underlying truths that would comprehensively address my problems if I would just LET myself face them.
Usually this comes tied to a bunch of pseudo-pharma-conspiracy shit, and ends with a suggestion for a herbal remedy. It’s all part of the Unsolicited Uninformed Opinion package – available everywhere there’s terrible people!
Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. (more…)
Astronomical artist Björn Jónsson stitched together still images captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it flew past the dwarf planet Pluto last month. Read the rest
Historian Albrecht Classen got so tired of hearing people blithlely assert that chastity belts were ever a thing that he wrote The Medieval Chastity Belt: A Myth-Making Process, explaining how a 15th century hoax that appeared in a manuscript that also feature fart jokes and devices for making people invisible became canon.
From Sarah Laskow: Read the rest
An online petition has begun seeking support to change Woodford County High School's 11-year-old dress code...Last year the students at the school created a 33-minute video about their grievances.
Wednesday was the first day of classes for students. One Facebook post said there was "a group of female students standing in the office" because they were not complying with the dress code.
Another post said, "This is ridiculous! Parents are being called away from important jobs and students are missing important class time because they are showing their collarbones!"...
Among the criteria in the Woodford County High dress code is that students must wear a rounded crewneck shirt or a button-down shirt that may have only the top button open. Shirts must not expose the collarbone. Shorts and skirts must be knee-length or longer.
For once I'm not going to be criticizing the TSA, but that's only because the TSA wasn't involved here in any way. Although it wouldn't surprise me if they have been meeting with their Irish counterparts supposedly to exchange nonsensical "security tips" but really to get free trips to Ireland at taxpayer expense because the $60 billion they've already filched from us doesn't seem like enough, and in the process some of their bad judgment rubbed off on the people at Dublin Airport.
Well, I guess that was kind of critical of the TSA, actually. I tried.
As Paula pointed out, this is a replica of the "Fart Blaster" wielded by the minions in "Despicable Me." So I guess it does have a track record of being used for evil purposes. But in real life it doesn't do anything except make noise and apparently emit an odor that thankfully is said to be banana-scented. Do I want a kid to wield one of these on a plane? No. Does it need to be confiscated by security personnel? No.
And of course they didn't confiscate it because they care that it might annoy other travelers. They confiscated it because—wait for it—it violated the rule against "replica guns." And this was despite the fact that, according to the kid's mother, the security officer admitted that his own child has the very same toy.
"We don't make the rules but we apply the rules consistently," an airport spokesperson said. "Anything that is a replica gun with a trigger mechanism on it is listed as a prohibited item." Well, if it didn't have a "trigger mechanism," it wouldn't be a very good replica, but the larger problem here really seems to be confusion OVER WHAT THE PHRASE "REPLICA" MEANS.
This does suggest some sort of TSA influence, because our resident geniuses have repeatedly invoked this rule—which I had presumed was meant to keep out things that look something like actual weapons—to confiscate things as ridiculous as a ray-gun shaped belt-buckle, a cane shaped like a lightsaber, and a two-inch long revolver strapped to the side of a sock monkey. What is the point, please? Of course, given the state of things over here, I guess we couldn't entirely rule out the chance of a tragic incident stemming from a three-year-old's poor decision to menace a cop with a Fart Blaster, but this happened in Ireland.
The spokesperson noted that the toy was "being kept safe at the airport" so the child can get it back when the family returns, so that's nice. Over here, they'd probably go ahead and blow it up just to be safe. Can't be too careful.
Created by Wuxa, image via BlockWorks
The Minecraft Brutalist Build yielded some rather attractive results as part of RIBA’s Day of Play earlier this month. The Brutalist Build was a partnership between RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) and BlockWorks, a team or artists, architects and designers who specialise in Minecraft projects.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Hovertext: There's a lot of networking to be done on the Dark Side.
Syd Mead retro-futurism
A show conceived to help low-income kids keep up with their affluent peers will now be "paywalled so that rich kids can watch it before poor kids can." Read the rest
Jebus. The stupidity of the media is maddening. Here are two articles now out there: Don’t freak out, but scientists think octopuses ‘might be aliens’ after DNA study and Octopuses ‘are aliens’, scientists decide after DNA study. These reporters are embarrassing.
Not to freak you out or anything, but scientists have just revealed that octopuses are so weird they’re basically aliens.
The first full genome sequence shows of that octopuses (NOT octopi) are totally different from all other animals – and their genome shows a striking level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes identified, more than in a human.
As I said earlier, the study is open access. Read it. If you can’t understand the big words and the details, then you shouldn’t be writing news stories on science.
The study says exactly the opposite. It shows that octopuses use genes shared with vertebrates — the common metazoan toolbox. They have amplified genes used by other earthly animal life in unique ways, but protocadherins are a known earthly family of molecules, and zinc finger genes are a known earthly family of genes. This study reinforces the concept of common ancestry.
Do I need to add that it’s even plainly said in the abstract? Just read the abstract!
The core developmental and neuronal gene repertoire of the octopus is broadly similar to that found across invertebrate bilaterians
I just know this nonsense is going to be propagated by creationists everywhere, and I’m going to have to slam it down repeatedly. The only good thing is that it’s an easy one to rebut, and I’ll have many excuses to wrap my virtual tentacles around their rhetorical throats and squeeze.
Proving that octopuses are creatures that arrived from another planet, possibly from another solar system, may not be revealed any time soon. However, their alien existence upon the Earth is expected to be the focus of significant research in the coming years. It is likely that they will be found to be born of the Earth, but the mysticism that they may be aliens makes the genome discovery quite intriguing.