My kids-and-grownups project book, Maker Dad, on sale for Kindle

    My DIY project book, Maker Dad is very cheap as a Kindle right now. Read the rest

    CES unrevokes robotics prize to women's sex toy

    Earlier this year, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) gave an award to a sex toy for women called the Osé. Then, in a spectacular PR blunder, it rescinded the award, pointing to a section in the terms and conditions that stated: "entries deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA's image will be disqualified."

    After the award was grabbed back, the maker of the Osé issued a statement that read, in part:

    Putting aside for a moment the implication that women's sexual wellness products are somehow immoral or obscene — if we didn't fit their policy, how in the world did our application even get past the first round of vetting by CTA staff, let alone receive high marks across the board from their expert judges?

    It's also important to note that a literal sex doll for men launched on the floor at CES in 2018 and a VR porn company exhibits there every year, allowing men to watch pornography in public as consumers walk by. Clearly CTA has no issue allowing explicit male sexuality and pleasure to be ostentatiously on display. Other sex toys have exhibited at CES and some have even won awards, but apparently there is something different, something threatening about Osé, a product created by women to empower women.

    Today, four months after rescinding the award, CTA is giving it back. From Engadget:

    In a press release announcing the re-allocation of the award, CTA's senior vice president of marketing and communications Jean Foster commented: "CTA did not handle this award properly.

    Read the rest

    1960s innovation - punch cards for phone numbers

    Over at Root Simple, Mr. Homegrown takes a look at a technology that never took off: punch cards for phone numbers.

    What caught my eye with this oddball piece of transitional phone technology is the punch card, invented in the early 19th century to control looms. I’m tackling Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow this spring after one failed attempt to read it in the 1990s. The book is full of loom metaphors such as this one, “While the great Loom of God works in darkness above,/And our trials here below are but threads of His Love.”

    The loom represents for Pynchon a way to evoke the sinister command and control of the punch card operated looms of the industrial revolution and, ultimately, the semi-autonomous V2 rockets of the Nazis. As novelist and (superb) podcaster Michael S. Judge has pointed out, Pynchon’s book is eerily prescient, seeming to foresee an era when we’re all monitored and controlled by a enormous electronic loom in the form of the interwebs.

    Read the rest

    Why you should never return a robocall - it could cost you a small fortune

    You know when your phone rings once, then stops? Don't call back, unless you are willing to risk a very costly international call to Mauritania, even though the called ID shows it as a local call.

    From Lifehacker:

    If you get a call from a familiar area code, you might feel tempted to return it, but the Federal Communications Commission is now warning consumers not to call any unknown numbers back. If you do, you risk paying huge fees in toll number charges.

    According to a recent statement by the FCC, this “Wangiri” (Japanese for “one ring”) robocall scheme is targeting numbers in short bursts, often during the middle of the night, using a “222" country code (located in Mauritania in West Africa). But scammers can mask their area code by “spoofing” or changing their caller ID information to reflect a local area code, according to Alex Quilici, founder of YouMail, a robocall-blocking voicemail app.

    Image: g-stockstudio/Shutterstock Read the rest

    Woman faces two years in Poland prison for art showing Jesus and Mary with rainbow halos

    El?bieta Podlesna could spend up to two years in prison for "offending religious feelings" after putting up posters in Poland showing the Mary and Jesus with LGBT rainbow halos.

    From CNN

    Police claim that Podlesna, 51, put up the posters in the small city of P?ock, Poland. And they say they found even more posters when they searched her car and home.

    Podlesna was detained by authorities as she returned from an Amnesty International advocacy tour.

    As a result of the searches, prosecutors are charging her with offending religious feelings. And those charges mean Podlesna faces up to two years in prison if found guilty.

    Image: Amnesty International Read the rest

    Restoring a 1990s Super Soaker water gun (stop motion video)

    This is a fun video! A guy restores an old, broken Super Soaker and makes a stop motion video of the process so it looks like the Super Soaker is restoring itself.

    He wrote:

    This video took me around 50 hours to make and just over 4000 photos. I have been wanting to get to this item for a while now. It's a 1990 Super Soaker made by Larami Corp. This was the video I wanted to release on April 1st, but I ran out of time. This thing is almost entirely plastic and most parts are permanently glued together. Those features make it very hard to actually restore, but slightly easier to repair. I had to break off the orange plastic caps at the back of the Super Soaker in order to get it apart. Once apart, it was a simple glue up to fix the broken pieces. The HDPE plastic water containers cannot be revived to their original colour, so I just had to repaint them. I am "pumped" this works again as pressurized versions are not for sale anymore.

    Read the rest

    Great deal on Blake Crouch's Dark Matter

    I loved Blake Crouch's Wayward Pines trilogy. I'm about 200 pages into his later novel, Dark Matter, and I'm liking it just as much. It reminds me a bit of Wayward Pines in that the main character gets thrown into a bizarre world that is keeping me guessing. It also reminds me of one of my favorite science fiction novels of the past, What Mad Universe, by Fredric Brown.

    Right now, Amazon has the Kindle version of Dark Matter at a steep discount. The Wayward Pines series is on sale, too. Read the rest

    Man with "I Eat A**" bumper sticker charged with possession of obscene material

    Dillon Shane Webb (23) of Florida was driving his truck on Sunday when a deputy pulled him over. The deputy informed Webb that the sticker in his rear window, which read, "I Eat Ass," was obscene and ordered Webb to remove one of the letters from the word "ass." According to the police report, the officer asked Webb how “a parent of a small child would explain the meaning of the words.” Webb told the deputy that he was exercising his first amendment rights and refused to remove the sticker. The deputy arrested Webb and was charged with "obscene writing on vehicles and resisting an officer without violence."

    [via Lake City Reporter] Read the rest

    This website allows you to control the level of Mark Zuckerberg's smile

    Facebook shares are down 2.75% percent from yesterday, which means you should probably adjust Zuckerberg's smile from 0.4 to 0.3. Read the rest

    Company uses AI to generate whole-body images of people who don't exist

    Datagrid says, "We have succeeded in generating high-resolution (1024×1024) images of whole-body who don't exist using Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). We use these images as virtual models for advertising and fashion." Read the rest

    Why no one is going to build a bridge between Alaska and Russia

    The Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska is only about 50 miles. It would be very expensive to build a bridge across the Bering Strait, even thought there are a couple of islands in the middle (the Doimedes), which would take the price of construction down to about $105 billion (5 times the price of the English Channel tunnel). If such a bridge were built, you could drive from Los Angeles to Paris (or even Miami to Capetown). But this video gives all the reasons why this bridge will probably never be built. Read the rest

    Exclusive excerpt of Rudy Rucker's new novel: Million Mile Road Trip

    Rudy Rucker's 23rd novel is out today! It's called Million Mile Road Trip. Rudy is one of my all-time favorite authors and he has kindly given me permission to run an excerpt here. Read the rest

    Must-have travel gear - inexpensive zipper bags

    Ever since I started using these nylon mesh zipper bags, my travel experience has improved. I have one bag for paper stuff and pens, one for medicine and first aid, one for tools and gear, one for cords and portable power, and one for snacks. When I get home I leave the bags in my suitcase, making packing much easier the next time I take a trip. The bags are see-through and very durable.

    I recently bought yet another set of these bags to hold components for Raspberry Pi projects. I think I have a total of 36 of these bags now. Read the rest

    Joe Biden is no longer sniffing women's hair on the campaign trail

    Democratic hopeful Joe Biden is not burying his face in women's hair anymore, as was his wont, reports Politico:

    But after nearly a week on the campaign trail, including nearly a half-dozen events in Pittsburgh, Iowa and South Carolina, it appears Biden got the message. Gone are the episodes of canoodling with voters, replaced by a less tactile brand of retail politicking marked by selfies and more physical reserve than Biden is accustomed to.

    Where once Biden was famously photographed in an Ohio diner burying his face in the back of a woman biker’s head, rubbing her shoulders and sitting so close that it initially appeared she was sitting on his lap, the former vice president is now showing signs of deliberately holding back in one-on-one encounters.

    Image: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock Read the rest

    My Lovely Wife is a dark, twisted psychological thriller

    It’s hard to say much about My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing, without spoiling the twists. The story is told by the husband (we never learn his name). He and his wife (Millicent) do bad things to spice up their marriage, but they also appear normal to the people who know them. They've been married for 15 years, have two children and respectable jobs (he’s a tennis pro at a country club, she’s a real estate agent). They have friends and go to parties and dinners. Even though they know that they are bad people, they also have deceived themselves into believing they are good parents, good employees, good friends, and good spouses. And they are OK with that. But as we learn more about the husband and Millicent, we find out that not only are they lying to themselves, they are lying to each other about a number of things. Even though they are dislikable, I was interested in finding out if one of the spouses would end up destroying the other.

    I’m not a fast reader, but I plowed through all 370 pages in a few evenings. It’s one of those books that takes very little effort to read (compared to another book I just finished — Neil Postman’s Technopoly, which was dense enough that I had to read quite a few of the sentences two or three times before I understood them). In other words, My Lovely Wife is tasty snack reading — an enjoyable, low-nutrition treat. Read the rest

    Michael Cohen checks into one of "America's 10 Cushiest Prisons"

    Michael Cohen is reporting to prison today to serve a three-year sentence for lying to Congress and assorted crimes involving money. He's staying at a camp for nonviolent offenders at?Otisville Federal Correctional Institution, about 70 miles from Manhattan. His fellow inmates include Fyre Festival con man Billy Shire and Jersey Shore star Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino.? The Otisville camp is one of "America's 10 Cushiest Prisons" as reported in Forbes.

    From CBS News:

    Inmates have lockers to store personal belongings, they can do their own laundry in washers and dryers and use microwaves to heat up food. They also have access to ice machines. It also has tennis courts, horseshoes and cardio equipment, leading the Associated Press to observe that it's "the closest thing the federal prison system has to sleepaway camp."

    Also from CBS News:

    About 115 inmates sleep in bunks lined up in barrack-style halls, instead of individual or two-man cells like in higher-security facilities. There are lockers to store personal belongings, washers and dryers for laundry, microwaves to heat up food and ice machines to keep cool... Otisville is also known as a favorite among prison-bound Jews for its Kosher meals and Shabbat services.

    Image: JStone/Shutterstock Read the rest

    Guess why the Sultan of Brunei changed his mind about his gay death penalty

    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei announced that he has changed his mind about executing people for having gay sex. Read the rest

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