If you’ve ever looked at the replies on any newsworthy amateur video posted to Twitter, you’ll see an inevitable chorus of news organizations and broadcast journalists in the replies, usually asking two questions:
Did you shoot this video?
Can we use it on all our platforms, affiliates, etc with credit?
I’ve returned regularly since Corey launched it and, as expected, it’s a powerful way of tracking a particular type of breaking news: visual stories with footage captured by normal people at the right place and right time.
Much of it is of interest only to local news channels: traffic accidents, subway mishaps, a wild animal on the loose, the occasional building fire.
But frequently, Bbbreaking News shows the impact of gun violence and climate change: a near-constant stream of active shooter scenarios, interspersed with massive brush fires, catastrophic flooding, and extreme weather events.
It’s a fascinating way to see the stories that broadcast media is currently tracking and viewing their sources before they can even report on it, captured by the people stuck in the middle.
I recommend checking it out. Thanks to Corey for running with the idea and saving me the effort of building it myself!
This, my friends, is the trailer for Wonder Woman 1984. Ok, let’s see what we have here. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the only DC Comics movie superhero worth a damn since Nolan’s Batmans. 1984, one of the best years ever for movies and pop culture. A remix of Blue Monday by New Order, still the best-selling 12” single of all time. Patty Jenkins is directing and came up with the story this time (instead of having to deal with Zack Snyder’s nonsense). YES PLEASE.
This is The Deep Sea, a website 'made with ♥ by Neal Agarwal.' What is that, a cheap diamond? "It's a heart, GW -- like love." Now don't you get all mushy on me. I know how this goes: one minute you're getting all mushy on me and the next we're raising three kids in my parents' basement. "Say what now?" This is Deep Sea, a website made with cubic zirconiums by Neal Agrwal that allows a visitor to scroll to the bottom of the ocean learning facts and figures about various depths and the animals that live there along the way. "What did you learn, GW?" I learned I saw a f***ing polar bear at 24 meters and decided to not risk scrolling any further. "Why am I not surprised?" Tell me if you spot Atlantis.
Thanks to Jessica C, who agrees there's no way there isn't already a plastic CVS bag at the very bottom of the ocean.
Yesterday, an artist on Twitter named Nana ran an experiment to test a theory.
Their suspicion was that bots were actively looking on Twitter for phrases like “I want this on a shirt” or “This needs to be a t-shirt,” automatically scraping the quoted images, and instantly selling them without permission as print-on-demand t-shirts.
Dozens of Nana’s followers replied, and a few hours later, a Twitter bot replied with a link to the newly-created t-shirt listing on Moteefe, a print-on-demand t-shirt service.
Spinning up a print-on-demand stores is dead simple with platforms like GearBubble, Printly, Printful, GearLaunch (who power Toucan Style), and many more — creating a storefront with thousands of theoretical product listings, but with merchandise only manufactured on demand through third-party printers who handles shipping and fulfillment with no inventory.
Many of them integrate with other providers, allowing these non-existent products to immediately appear on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and other stores, but only manufactured when someone actually buys them.
The ease of listing products without manufacturing them is how we end up with bizarre algorithmic t-shirts and entire stock photo libraries on phone cases. Even if they only generate one sale daily per 1,000 listings, that can still be a profitable business if you’re listing hundreds of thousands of items.
But whoever’s running these art theft bots found a much more profitable way of generating leads: by scanning Twitter for people specifically telling artists they’d buy a shirt with an illustration on it. The t-shirt scammers don’t have the rights to sell other people’s artwork, but they clearly don’t care.
Once Nana proved that this was the methodology these t-shirt sellers were using, others jumped in to subvert them.
Of course, it worked. Bots will be bots.
For me, this all raises two questions:
Who’s responsible for this infringement?
What responsibility do print-on-demand providers have to prevent infringement on their platforms?
The first question is the hardest: we don’t know. These scammers are happy to continue printing shirts because their identities are well-protected, shielded by the platforms they’re working with.
I reached out to Moteefe, who seems to be the worst offender for this particular strain of art theft. Countless Twitter bots are continually spamming users with newly-created Moteefe listings, as you can see in this search.
Unlike most print-on-demand platforms like RedBubble, Moteefe doesn’t reveal any information about the user who created the shirt listings. They’re a well-funded startup in London, and have an obligation not to allow their platform to be exploited in this way. I’ll update if I hear back from them.
Until then, be careful telling artists that you want to see their work on a shirt, unless you want dozens of scammers to use it without permission.
Or feel free to use this image, courtesy of Nakanoart.
So since these art-stealing bots are tracking your text and not reply images, I made this for you guys!
If you want something from ANY creative made into a shirt, you can use this image to tell the artist you want to buy it. So you don’t need to type it out pic.twitter.com/E9Mn2GILcb
This is a photo of several ice crystal halos around the Sun taken by Michael Schneider in the Swiss Alps with an iPhone 11 Pro. It. Is. Absolutely. Stunning. I can barely write more than a few words here without stealing another peek at it. According to Schneider’s post (translated from German by Google), this display developed gradually as he waited for a friend as some icy fog and/or clouds were dissipating at the top of a Swiss ski resort and he was happy to capture it on his new phone.
Ice halos happen when tiny crystals of ice are suspended in the sky. The crystals can be high up in cirrus clouds, or closer to the ground as diamond dust or ice fog. Like raindrops scatter light into rainbows, the crystals of ice can reflect and refract light, acting as mirrors or prisms depending on the shape of the crystal and the incident angle of the light. While the lower down ice only happens in cold climates, circus clouds are so high they’re freezing cold any time, anywhere in the world, so even people in the tropics mid-summer have a chance of seeing some of these phenomena.
Explaining the optics of these phenomena involves a lot of discussing angular distances.
As detailed in this Scientific American article by Erik Olsen, engineer and oceanographer Derya Akkaynak has devised an algorithm that “removes the water from underwater images” so that photos taken underwater have the color and clarity of photos taken in air. She calls the algorithm “Sea-thru”.
Sea-thru’s image analysis factors in the physics of light absorption and scattering in the atmosphere, compared with that in the ocean, where the particles that light interacts with are much larger. Then the program effectively reverses image distortion from water pixel by pixel, restoring lost colors.
One caveat is that the process requires distance information to work. Akkaynak takes numerous photographs of the same scene from various angles, which Sea-thru uses to estimate the distance between the camera and objects in the scene — and, in turn, the water’s light-attenuating impact. Luckily, many scientists already capture distance information in image data sets by using a process called photogrammetry, and Akkaynak says the program will readily work on those photographs.
The paper says the process “recovers color” and in the video above, Akkaynak notes that “it’s a physically accurate correction rather that a visually pleasing modification” that would be done manually in a program like Photoshop.
Almost two hundred years since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, this is the announcement trailer for the March 2020 debut of Half-Life: Alyx, an around 20-hour virtual reality-only gaming experience that's sure to piss gamers off when there isn't a follow up released for another millennia.
Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli mount an early resistance to the Combine's brutal occupation of Earth.
The loss of the Seven-Hour War is still fresh. In the shadow of a rising Combine fortress known as the Citadel, residents of City 17 learn to live under the rule of their invaders. But among this scattered population are two of Earth's most resourceful scientists: Dr. Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx, the founders of a fledgling resistance.
Based on the trailer, it looks promising. Of course based on my dating profile I also look promising until we finally meet in real life and you mistake literally every other person walking into the cafe for me because I'm actually a chair and you're sitting on me ouch please I think my rear legs are gonna break.
Keep going for the trailer.
The latest video from Kurzgesagt is a short primer on neutron stars, the densest large objects in the universe.
The mind-boggling density of neutron stars is their most well-known attribute: the mass of all living humans would fit into a volume the size of a sugar cube at the same density. But I learned about a couple of new things that I’d like to highlight. The first is nuclear pasta, which might be the strongest material in the universe.
Astrophysicists have theorized that as a neutron star settles into its new configuration, densely packed neutrons are pushed and pulled in different ways, resulting in formation of various shapes below the surface. Many of the theorized shapes take on the names of pasta, because of the similarities. Some have been named gnocchi, for example, others spaghetti or lasagna.
Simulations have demonstrated that nuclear pasta might be some 10 billion times stronger than steel.
The second thing deals with neutron star mergers. When two neutron stars merge, they explode in a shower of matter that’s flung across space. Recent research suggests that many of the heavy elements present in the universe could be formed in these mergers.
But how elements heavier than iron, such as gold and uranium, were created has long been uncertain. Previous research suggested a key clue: For atoms to grow to massive sizes, they needed to quickly absorb neutrons. Such rapid neutron capture, known as the “r-process” for short, only happens in nature in extreme environments where atoms are bombarded by large numbers of neutrons.
If this pans out, it means that the Earth’s platinum, uranium, lead, and tin may have originated in exploding neutron stars. Neat!
The other day I posted the news that the low railroad bridge that’s famous for ripping off the tops of trucks is finally going to be raised by eight inches, bringing an end to the internet’s viral fun. A reader alerted me to this interesting short documentary about the bridge:
The film features interviews with the man who has been recording all the bridge collisions since 2008, a state engineer who worked on a solution to the problem (a sensor to detect tall vehicles and trigger a stoplight and an “OVERHEIGHT MUST TURN” LED sign), and researchers at a behavioral research lab about how drivers plow into the bridge despite several layers of warning signs and (presumably) the knowledge of the height of their vehicle. (via @ShawnWildermuth)
Sleep is one of those things we still don’t completely understand and new discoveries are still being made. This research is quite interesting, as it brings some insights into how sleep cleans toxins from the brain.
“First you would see this electrical wave where all the neurons would go quiet,” says Lewis. Because the neurons had all momentarily stopped firing, they didn’t need as much oxygen. That meant less blood would flow to the brain. But Lewis’s team also observed that cerebrospinal fluid would then rush in, filling in the space left behind.
The brain’s electrical activity is moving fluid in the brain, clearing out byproducts like beta amyloid, which can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
So brain blood levels don’t drop enough to allow substantial waves of cerebrospinal fluid to circulate around the brain and clear out all the metabolic byproducts that accumulate, like beta amyloid.
Independent of the science, you have to wonder how people manage to sleep in an MRI machine!
In their recent study, Dr. Edgell and his colleagues successfully used a Crispr-associated enzyme called Cas9 to eliminate a species of Salmonella. By programming the Cas9 to view the bacterium itself as the enemy, Dr. Edgell and his colleagues were able to force Salmonella to make lethal cuts to its own genome.
As we discover more of the benefits of our microbiota, it would also be interesting to have a solution to bacterial infections which doesn’t create problems for our “good bacteria.”
Conventional antibiotics do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria, eradicating everything indiscriminately and occasionally creating problems for people with weakened immune systems.
There’s still a long way to go though.
Now researchers face the challenge of demonstrating that Crispr antibacterial and antiviral drugs are effective in living animals and in humans, not just in the lab, and that they will be cheaper than conventional therapies, Dr. Barrangou said.
This is a worthwhile video of impressionist Jim Meskimen reading 'Pity The Poor Impressionist' (a poem he wrote about what it's like being an impressionist) in twenty different celebrity voices as his face transform from one celebrity's to the next thanks to the terrifying power of deepfake technology. If I didn't know any better I'd swear he really did transform into all those people. "Do you know better, GW?" THIS MAN IS A CHAMELEON.
Keep going for the video.
Legendary skater Tony Hawk breaks down 21 increasingly complex skateboarding tricks, from a standard ollie to a kickflip to a McTwist to a 1080 to a couple of tricks that have never been done. As someone who has always been in awe of what skaters can do but hasn’t logged much on-board time myself, I learned a lot from this.
(Note: This post contains images of simulated crime scenes.) Frances Glessner Lee is known as “the mother of forensic science” for her role in revolutionizing how crimes were investigated. Starting in the 40s and using her skills in making miniature models that she learned as a young girl, Lee built detailed and intricate crime scene dioramas to help train homicide investigators to properly investigate and canvas a crime scene. From a Smithsonian exhibition of Lee’s work:
At the time, there was very little training for investigators, meaning that they often overlooked or mishandled key evidence, or irrevocably tampered with crime scenes. Few had any medical training that would allow them to determine cause of death. As Lee and her colleagues at Harvard worked to change this, tools were needed to help trainees scientifically approach their search for truth. Lee was a talented artist as well as criminologist, and used the craft of miniature-making that she had learned as a young girl to solve this problem. She constructed the Nutshells beginning in the 1940s to teach investigators to properly canvass a crime scene to effectively uncover and understand evidence. The equivalent to “virtual reality” in their time, her masterfully crafted dioramas feature handmade objects to render scenes with exacting accuracy and meticulous detail.
Every element of the dioramas — from the angle of minuscule bullet holes, the placement of latches on widows, the patterns of blood splatters, and the discoloration of painstakingly painted miniature corpses — challenges trainees’ powers of observation and deduction. The Nutshells are so effective that they are still used in training seminars today at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.
Here are some images of Lee’s surviving dioramas (found here):
In a video about the Smithsonian exhibition, curator Nora Atkinson explains that it shows how Lee “co-opted traditionally feminine crafts to advance the male-dominated field of police investigation”:
See also this Vox video about Lee’s work, which goes into detail about the evidence at a couple of the crime scenes:
YouTuber Lord Vinheteiro recently played the same pair of tunes on six different pianos, ranging from a $499 used upright to a $112,000 Steinway to a $2.5 million Steinway grand piano that’s tacky af. Which one sounds the best?
I’m not sure that you get the full effect and nuance of the super luxe pianos after the audio has passed through YouTube’s audio compression and whatever phone or computer speaker or headphones you’ve got going, but the more expensive pianos sound better than the lower-end ones for sure. I would have appreciated a medley at the end that repeatedly cycled through all six of the recordings to better hear the differences.
[Update: Bethesda now says it has resolved an issue preventing previous purchasers from re-downloading the Xbox 360 versions of Doom and Doom II on the Xbox One. New customers on the console will still have to buy the new Xbox One native version, however.]
Now, I’d like you to imagine you’re chatting with your conversation partner. But instead of speaking and hearing the words alone, each syllable they utter has a note, sometimes more than one. They speak in tunes and I can sing back their melody. Once I know them a little bit, I can play along to their words as they speak them, accompanying them on the piano as if they’re singing an operatic recitative. They drop a glass on the floor, it plays a particular melody as it hits the tiles. I’ll play that melody back — on a piano, on anything. I can accompany that melody with harmony, chords — or perhaps compose a variation on that melody - develop it into a stupendous symphony filled with strings, or play it back in the style of Chopin, Debussy or Bob Marley. That car horn beeps an F major chord, this kettle’s in A flat, some bedside lights get thrown out because they are out of tune with other appliances. I can play along to every song on the radio whether or not I’ve heard it before, the chord progressions as open to me as if I had the sheet music in front of me. I can play other songs with the same chords and fit them with the song being played. Those bath taps squeak in E, this person sneezes in E flat. That printer’s in D mostly. The microwave is in the same key as the washing machine.
I have a friend with perfect pitch and one of the first times we hung out together, the horn on a tugboat sounded and she said, “C sharp”. I looked puzzled so she explained, and then I peppered her with questions about all the other sounds around us. It was like watching a superhero do their thing.
LJ said she had been a “weird prodigy kid.” For her, perfect pitch had been a nightmare. The whole world seemed out of tune. But then teachers introduced her to Indian ragas, Gamelan music and compositions with quarter tones, unfamiliar modes and atonal structures. As her musical horizons expanded, her anxiety dissipated. (She remains exceedingly sensitive to pitch, though. Her refrigerator, for example, hums in A flat. Working from home, I hear my fridge running 12 hours a day. Blindfolded, I’m not sure I could pick the thing out of a lineup of three other refrigerators.)
Meet Vincent LeVine. He’s the subject of “My Dad, the Facebook Addict”, a short documentary by his son Dylan. He started off using Facebook normally, keeping up with the news and chatting with friends, but evolved into a fierce meme warrior stocked with a “nuclear arsenal” of memes at the ready to destroy anyone who wants to come at him.
I can have a meme war with anybody and destroy them. And I’ve done it! People actually bail at the end and go, “Who is this guy? He’s got like every meme ever produced on the internet! He can knock us out with his memes!” And I do, I have tons of memes, I just keep memeing them to death until they just surrender because they just can’t do it anymore. They don’t have the memes that I have.
Part of why both kids and parents love The Very Hungry Caterpillar is because it’s an educational book that doesn’t feel like a capital-E Educational book. Traditionally, children’s literature is a didactic genre: “It teaches something,” Martin says, “but the best children’s books teach without kids knowing that they’re learning something.” In The Very Hungry Caterpillar, she adds, “you learn the days of the week. You learn colors. You learn the fruits. You learn junk-food names. In the end, you learn a little bit about nutrition, too: If you eat a whole bunch of junk food, you’re not going to feel that great.” Yet, crucially, none of the valuable information being presented ever feels “in your face,” Martin says.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was certainly one of my favorite books as a kid — along with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town & Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, and the Frog & Toad books — and it was one of the first books we read to our kids. I remember very clearly loving the partial pages and the holes. Holes! In a book! Right in the middle of the page! It felt transgressive. Like, what else is possible in this world if you can do such a thing? (Also, “caterpillar” is such a satisfying word to say, both correctly and, er, less so… I still default to my childhood “callarpitter” sometimes).
Roald Dahl’s oldest daughter Olivia died from the measles when she was seven years old. She died because there wasn’t a reliable measles vaccine then, and in this heartfelt letter he wrote years later, Dahl wants everyone to know that there is such a vaccine now.
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her.
‘I feel all sleepy,’ she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
I feel so tired when I think about parents not vaccinating their children against easily preventable fatal diseases. It’s child abuse and the kids know better! Here’s a tweet from Erin Faulk sharing some screenshots of teens asking how they can get vaccinated over their parents’ objections.
Anyone who owns a high-definition TV has likely experienced the nagging sensation of something being not quite right when watching films. It's not all in your head. The effect is called video interpolation, or motion smoothing, and last night, Tom Cruise and writer/director Chris McQuarrie dropped a surprise PSA on Twitter (apparently filmed on the set of Mission Impossible: Fallout) to warn us about this evil.
Okay, so motion smoothing isn't actually evil. It's more of a double-edged sword. The feature is great for watching sports, but it makes movies look like "they were shot on high-speed video rather than film," says Cruise. In other words, your Hollywood blockbuster movie will look like a 1970s BBC TV series. That's why it's commonly called "the soap opera effect."
Why does this happen? Essentially, the feature uses image processing algorithms to insert (interpolate) "extra" frames between the actual frames. The TV will process one frame, then another, and then the algorithms will try to guess what a new frame inserted between those two frames should look like. This increases the frame rate to 120fps, to match the HDTV's 120Hz refresh rate. It will smooth out the image and make fast-paced events easier to follow, like basketball games or NASCAR races—or even the nightly news, which isn't meant to look cinematic. But it won't have that "film" feeling anymore: it feels "unnatural," or rather, a bit too real, ruining the illusion.