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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hmm. Could be interesting.

Obvious-Backed Branch Comes Out Of Public Beta To Foster Conversations Online | TechCrunch

(via Instapaper)

Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old

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Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old

Indian photo

This photo of John Smith (Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence), a Chippewa Indian from Cass Lake, Minnesota, was taken when he was supposedly at 129 years old. Sold on eBay for $29.95.

Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old

Cheap-looking bug-bite zapper actually works

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Cheap-looking bug-bite zapper actually works

Gizmodo's Brent Rose reviews the TheraPik, a $13, ugly, plasticky bug-bite zapper that actually works really well. It heats up your mosquito (and other critter) bites until the venom's proteins break down, and the itching and swelling disappear.

Using It

You put the tip of the Therapik onto your bug bite, then you press and hold down the button. The tip uses light to heat the bite up. You hold it there for as long as you can take it, up to a minute. The burning sensation gets pretty intense after 30 seconds or so.

The Best Part

It actually works! Mosquito bites (the only thing we tested it with) stopped itching within a few seconds of taking it off, and in most cases they never itched again. We are officially stunned.

Therapik Bug Bite Relieving Gadget Review: We Can't Believe This Actually Works

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gotye's YouTube orchestra remix of "Somebody That I Used to Know"

[That's pretty goddamn awesome -egg]
Gotye's YouTube orchestra remix of "Somebody That I Used to Know":

Gotye created the ultimate remix of his ubiquitous "Somebody That I Used to Know" track strictly from covers and parodies of the song that he found on YouTube. Gotye says he was directly inspired by Kutiman's classic "Thru-you" from 2009. "Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra" (

Moelcular Synth: snap-together electronic music instrument "bricks"

Moelcular Synth: snap-together electronic music instrument "bricks":

My 6-year-old and I love playing with our Stylophone, half-broken Casio keyboards, cheap-o effects pedals, and other tools for creating weird music. My young'n also goes deep into beginner DIY electronics with Snap Circuits, sets of modular components that can be combined in various ways to make neat noisemakers, games, water sensors, etc. Travis Feldman's Molecule Synth looks like terrific mix of all that! It's a collection of core synthesizer components that can be arranged and rearranged in different combinations to yield new sounds and new interfaces. It even has MIDI. Feldman already hit his Kickstarter goal with three weeks left to go on the fundraising. I can't wait for my son and I to get our hands on a set! Molecule Synth (Thanks, Mark Dery!)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

HOWTO bake a cake inside the skin of an orange

[Nom. Nom, I say. -egg]
HOWTO bake a cake inside the skin of an orange:

Here's a cute idea from CHOW and Chris Rochelle for baking chocolate cakes in campfire coals, using scooped-out orange peels as molds:

Cut the tops off about 10 oranges and scoop out the pulp. Fill the oranges three-quarters of the way with chocolate cake batter (cake mix works fine), then put the orange tops back on and wrap each orange in aluminum foil. Place directly onto the smoldering coals of the campfire, avoiding any intense flames, and cook for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice.
I've had sorbet served in an orange and pate served in an orange (AKA "meat fruit). Both were delicious. You could probably do a whole meal inside of citrus peels.

Step Up the S'more: 7 Ideas for Campfire Treats by Chris Rochelle

(via Neatorama)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"The Internet is for Porn": Blackmail in 2033

[Charlie Stross:]
"The Internet is for Porn": Blackmail in 2033:
A comment on the Spies! discussion brought me up short by asking an interesting question:
I foresee the range of blackmail material to narrow considerably, already for celebrities sex videos are more of an oops than anything really damaging and I expect this probably to extend to politicians gradually.
Is this actually true?

The world wide web turns 21 this year. In that time we've travelled a long way towards the normalization of cultural, artistic, and one-handed material that, 21 years before 1991, would have been considered extreme. To some extent it's a side-effect of the web having disintermediated production and consumption of all media, including porn; stuff that, in 1970, you would have had to search out from specialist retail distributors (who were perpetually at risk of being raided by cops aiming to raise their number of arrests) is today ubiquitous and available at the click of a mouse button. But it's also a side-effect of the web making it easy to construct social networks among people with minority interests; suddenly all sorts of stuff that was hidden back when it was just one person per 10,000 population town emerges as a 30,000-strong continental community. The 0.01% are no longer hidden, can no longer be marginalized. Never mind the 1% or the LGBT 10%.

A side-effect of exposure is familiarization (what anti-porn crusaders would call desensitization): we, the general public, know a lot more about niche fetishes and alternative sexualities than our counterparts 42 years ago. Familiarity frequently breeds tolerance (at least, when the subject matter is consensual and, within its own framework, non-transgressive): and so, stuff that would formerly have been considered blackmail material is now simply a collection of home videos posted on YouTube. Compare and contrast, for example, the strategic leaking of sex videos by stars for career-enhancing purposes ("look at me! I'm sexy!") with an earlier age's Hollywood marriage. The level of titillation required for a viral social marketing campaign has become extreme.

Now I want to think about politics, and the future in, say, 21 years' time.

The typical breakout age for a politician in the UK or USA (and many other democratic polities) is around 40 years, plus or minus a decade. Which means the candidates for high level office circa 2033 will have been born between 1980 and 2000. The probability that they have an extensive social networking footprint going back to childhood is high — even the fifty-somethings in 2033 will have been on the internet since their late teens or early twenties. And since about 2000, they will have been the users of (and targets of) ubiquitous cheap digital cameras.

The probability that they've been photo-tagged at parties, sporting events, classes, and workplaces is high. Some of these events will be potentially damaging (see, for example, Prince Harry's Nazi fancy dress oops). Some may be actually damaging, career-ending or worse: given the prevalence of sexting we can anticipate that a double-digit percentage of them could technically be charged (under current laws) with child pornography offenses. (I suspect that sexting will be redefined as non-criminal behaviour or as a minor offense, within the next couple of decades, simply because the alternative is to eventually criminalize a very large chunk of the population.)

Furthermore, given that the current business model for the largest social networking system (Facebook—monetizing your relationships by selling ads) relies on inducing users to reveal information about themselves in public, it's hard to see most of these potentially compromising pictures remaining inaccessible.

Going further: the probability that they've been using some sort of lifelogging device is high. The ubiquitous sensors I was blogging about earlier this month will also have records of their comings and goings, to the extent that privacy law and bit rot provide for. And there will be a bunch of other aspects of public identity and data monitoring that I haven't thought of.

So, here's my question:

What is public shame going to look like in 2033? And what are the implications for the psychological profile of the kind of people who will be campaigning for high level office? Are we going to see candidates for the highest posts raised from toddler-dom in hermetically sealed media bubbles by their dynastic political parents, with lives so carefully curated that there's nothing for their rivals to get a handle on during a dirty campaign? Or are we going to see a public who increasingly expect politicians to behave like jaded celebrities (or their own peers) and who won't blink at revelations of anything short of murder?

What is the future of blackmail in the 21st century?