Archive for Entirely Too Cool

Old weird heraldry

Okay, maybe not so old. Peter Grant has the story:

An e-mail from a list of which I’m a member alerted me to the coat of arms of Sir Christopher Frayling, British writer on popular culture, who’s particularly well known for his study of the so-called “spaghetti westerns” of Sergio Leone, and similar movies. That led to an interesting discussion with the College of Arms, as Wikipedia reports: “In 2001, he was awarded a knighthood for “Services to Art and Design Education” and chose as his motto “PERGE SCELUS MIHI DIEM PERFICIAS.”

Just like this:

Coat of arms of Sir Christopher Frayling

Translation of that Latinate stuff: “Proceed, varlet, and let the day be rendered perfect for my benefit.”

Shorter version: “Go ahead, punk. Make my day.”


Drones before they were drones

Either way, the operative word is “drones”:

Like an episode out of Black Mirror, Walmart has filed a patent [pdf] for autonomous robotic bees, technically called pollination drones, that could potentially pollinate crops just like real bees.

The drones would carry pollen from one plant to another, using sensors and cameras to detect the locations of the crops.

First spotted by CB Insights, the robot bee patent appears along five other patents for farming drones, including one that would identify pests and another that would monitor crop health.

I wonder what it would be like to have a robotic bee. Or half a bee.

While Walmart’s exact goal for these patents is unclear, they may signal that the company hopes to venture into agriculture and gain more control over its food supply chain.

And if there’s one thing important to major corporations, it’s gaining more control.

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Good morning, Mr. Likely

The cell phone rings — not so common an occurrence on a Sunday, as was the case with this particular call — and the Caller ID crawl reads: “Scam Likely 1-215-399-9855.” This number apparently belongs to a sketchy carpet cleaner near Philadelphia which would clearly have no reason to call me here. Apparently this is T-Mobile’s way of telling me these guys are indeed sketchy:

With Scam ID you’ll instantly see when calls come in from known scammers. Only T-Mobile has built this protection right into the network, and it will work automatically on all phones with Caller ID. There’s nothing to install and Scam ID is included in all postpaid plans at no additional charge.

Now if only the landline providers could be persuaded to do the same. (The same weasels later dialed in on my landline, identified as “Private Call.”)

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Sue Storm orders a snack

I have to figure that the Invisible Woman would be delighted by this Transparent Taco:

Intense, indeed.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity, hard to see in their own right.)

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What’s mined is yours

While a city in New York state contemplates restricting the mining of cryptocurrencies to save on electricity, a startup in France is going its own way, so to speak:

French startup Qarnot unveiled a new computing heater specifically made for cryptocurrency mining. You’ve read that right, the QC1 is a heater for your home that features a passive computer inside. And this computer is optimized for mining.

While most people use laptops, back in the golden days of computer towers, you could heat a room with a couple of desktop computers. And heat is still one of the biggest challenges when you’re building a data center. You have to cool thousands of computers that run 24/7.

My office is unheated; the A/C runs 24/7 to keep the server tower unsweaty. So I comprehend this dynamic quite well.

The QC1 features two AMD GPUs (Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX580 with 8GB of VRAM) and is designed to mine Ethers by default.

You can set it up in a few minutes by plugging an Ethernet cable and putting your Ethereum wallet address in the mobile app. You’ll then gradually receive ethers on this address — Qarnot doesn’t receive any coin, you keep 100 percent of your cryptocurrencies.

At the current price for Ethereum — you may mine other currencies if you’d prefer — the QC1 will give you about $120 a month, which may not seem like a lot from a $3600 machine, but if the price goes up … well, yeah, it’s a crapshoot, but it would be a crapshoot even if you didn’t have a dedicated mining box.

(Via Fark.)

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Tear ducts at 1.5 yards

If you thought you were disappointed, imagine the anguish of these sisters on the way home from the animal shelter:

Jada, in pink, is going to be a first-class manipulator someday. Like a week from Tuesday.

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Cromulence achieved

And high time, too:

Some of the new adds are here.

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It helps to be small

I figure the desire to save $75 is probably pretty strong with most of us.

This vehicle is a 2013 Nissan Juke; what works best in this car may not work for yours.


Spring having sprung

Legendary toy demonstrated to have squirrel-repelling properties:

At some point, furry-boy will be cussing up a storm: “Aw, nuts!”

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Fark blurb of the week

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Those bloodsuckers must be around here somewhere

The story begins here:

In July of 2017, 13-year-old Olivia Goodreau was on vacation in Missouri with her family. While outside Olivia noticed a tick on her dog, Mo (short for Missouri). Olivia & her mom watched the tick start to burrow into Mo’s leg. They quickly found needle nose tweezers to properly remove the tick from Mo. As Olivia was removing the tick she asked her mom, “”s there an app that can show what ticks are around us?” That night Olivia looked online and found that currently there was no app to help track, report, and educate people about ticks. This gave Olivia the idea to create the TickTracker app to help keep everyone safe.

TickTracker development teamI understood. Forty-five (!) years before that, I was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where, according to the popular jape of the times, the state flower is the rock and the state bird is the tick. God knows I saw plenty of both over the two seasons I spent there.

The LivLyme Foundation was set up to develop the app and aggregate user data. TickTracker is offered at no charge. And if you ask me, they ought to be selling some of these spiffy black caps worn by the development team.

(Dear Brad Paisley: would you be interested in lending your name to a Good Cause?)

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Progress by inches

Fortunately for me, we have had a total of 0.1 inch of snow this winter. (I’m not really in shape to deal with more than that, and I don’t happen to have a four-year-old girl handy.)

About three seconds into the song, I muttered: “That ain’t 2Pac.” And it ain’t.

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Sit still, Starving Eagle

Not a Native name; this eagle was literally starving:

There’s a lot to be said for showing up at the right time.

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I want to look good for the aliens

Glamping in space? Well, why not?

Annemarie Dooling explained this at Racked:

NASA engineers kept the process of customizing standardized kits based on preference, with a list of pre-approved items. While some people weren’t interested in applying blush on a mission, others, like Rhea Seddon, were concerned about looking tired or blending into the background.

“I spoke up for the minority. If there would be pictures taken of me from space, I didn’t want to fade into the background, so I requested some basic items,” Seddon explains on her website. “It was interesting to me that that I wasn’t the sole space traveler whose in-flight pictures showed a bit of lipstick and blush.” Seddon wasn’t looking for an entire kit of going-out face, but as an astronaut with pale skin who would undoubtedly be photographed often, she didn’t want to look washed out. She asked for a pretty basic kit to help her keep fresh-faced. Included in the kit in the Smithsonian’s archive? Eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, makeup remover, blusher, and lip gloss.

There were, of course, other “female problems” that had to be dealt with — the simplistic vision of Donovan was no longer applicable — and NASA duly did deal with them. (This is why God gave us the phrase “Read the whole thing.”)

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Land of a zillion dances

Not much land up there, technically, but there is a disco ball in space:

As with all things disco, it has a limited lifespan.

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Perhaps not super geniuses

Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, is one of the wealthiest counties in all of Texas. Not that a high income is going to protect your property from four-footed varmints:

Coyote warning from the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office

You have been warned.

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Room for one more

In Kazakhstan, a dog is about to be washed away down a canal. But wait…

And they all lived happily ever after. We hope.

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Et tu, maybe three, myself

Twenty locations within the Philippine province of Cebu, the first of which opened in 1980.

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Science at home

Just in case you’ve heard one too many iterations of “Yeah, but you’ll never use that in Real Life”:

Point made.

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Waltz of the marbles

Marbles? And magnets? How do they work?

Like a well-oiled machine:

Serious balls, there.

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The latest thing in jump-starting

Hyundai Canada has come up with a plan to rescue owners of their Ioniq electric hatchback who drove just a little too far:

With its first electric model now plying the country’s roadways, the automaker figured the best way to help stranded Ioniq Electric drivers was with other Ioniq Electrics.

The service, which starts in the EV-heavy Montreal area this spring, sees Ioniqs come to the aid of overly optimistic drivers sidelined by their car’s modest 124-mile range. The savior Ioniq drains 7 kWh of juice from its own battery to the recipient car, resurrecting it with about 25 miles of range — enough to make it home or to a public charging station.

The hookup lasts about 20 minutes. A trunk-mounted converter and two Level 3 charging cables allow the donor car to reverse the normal flow of electrons — out from the car’s charge port to the convertor, and then on to the dead vehicle.

Hyundai will be offering this service gratis for five years after the purchase of a new Ioniq.

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Covered with Furler

Rob O’Hara has one of these because of course he does:

Star Wars Chewbacca Bandolier Strap


Kenner marketed the Chewbacca Bandolier Strap as both a carrying case and a play toy for kids, and at only $4.91 it was probably a good deal, but it never really resonated with me. It held fewer figures than any other carrying case released and didn’t protect your figures at all. And as far as play toys go … no offense to Wookies, but I can’t imagine a lot of kids clamoring to be Chewbacca.

Me, I suspect Chewie’s appeal was a bit more, um, adult:

But then, what do I know?

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A dedicated monarchist

Romy McCloskey designs costumes. She also takes care of monarch butterflies. This is where the two jobs meet:

McCloskey apparently started raising monarch butterflies and releasing them into the wild, a while ago. Recently, she noticed that one of the insects was born with a broken left wing, as a result of an injury sustained while pupating, and could not fly. Monarchs can live from 2 weeks to about 5 months, but without the ability to fly, this little guy wasn’t going to live very long. So Romy, who describes herself as a “master hand embroiderer,” decided to use her skills to help him.

Suffice it to say that she did come up with a solution.

(Via Nag on the Lake.)

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You’re so square

Baby, I don’t care — or, “What are we gonna do with all these damn petrodollars?”

If you’re Venezuela, you put down a deposit on a roll of toilet paper. If you’re Dubai, you do something like this:

The Frame opened on the first of January. An admission ticket for 50 AED — “dirham” is etymologically related to the Greek “drachma” — is a bit less than $15 US.


Tracking Putin

Wait, what?

Not that kind of Putin?

Whoops. Sorry.

Scientists often hope to break ground with their research. But a group of Australian researchers would likely be happy with breaking wind.

The team developed an ingestible electronic capsule to monitor gas levels in the human gut. When it’s paired with a pocket-sized receiver and a mobile phone app, the pill reports tail-wind conditions in real time as it passes from the stomach to the colon. The researchers, led by Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh of RMIT University and Peter Gibson of Monash University, reported their invention Monday in Nature Electronics.

The authors are optimistic that the capsule’s gas readings can help clear the air over the inner workings of our intricate innards and the multitudes of microbes they contain. Such fume data could clarify the conditions of each section of the gut, what microbes are up to, and which foods may cause problems in the system. Until now, collecting such data has been a challenge. Methods to bottle it involved cumbersome and invasive tubing and inconvenient whole-body calorimetry. Popping the electronic pill is a breeze in comparison. And early human trials have already hinted that the pill can provide new information about intestinal wind patterns and gaseous turbulence from different foods.

Oh. Turbulence. With a B. My bad.


That’s about the size of it

Kids grow fast. Wouldn’t it be nice if their shoes did too?

Perhaps not the most handsome shoes, but it’s hard to beat ’em for functionality, especially at a mere $15 a pair.

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And a glass of Tang

Greatness has its imperatives:

(Via Rand Simberg.)

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New heights in cosplay

The basics of My Hero Academia:

The story follows Izuku Midoriya, a boy born without superpowers in a world where they are the norm, but who still dreams of becoming a superhero himself, and is scouted by the world’s greatest hero who shares his powers with Izuku after recognizing his value and enrolls him in a high school for heroes in training.

I’d be tempted to fall back on the shtick from The Incredibles: “If everyone has superpowers, then nobody has superpowers.” But the high school in question does house an interesting variety of “quirks,” as they’re called, and unsurprisingly with a hit manga/anime/whatever, there is cosplay among us civilians.

And most remarkably, there is cosplay of the ever-cheerful (I think) Toru Hagakure:

Cosplay of Toru Hagakure by Aicosu

This shows the importance of getting the details right.


One shot, so to speak

Two shots, if you’re doing both sides:

A transformative genetic treatment for a rare, inherited form of blindness will come with a price tag of of $425,000 per eye, or $850,000 for both, said Spark Therapeutics Inc., the tiny biotechnology company that is bringing the therapy to market.

Since Spark’s Luxturna was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month, speculation over the price has grown as it became clear the therapy would be one of the first in a wave of medicines that yield remarkable results after a single treatment — and would carry a commensurate cost.

No quantity discounts, apparently.

Luxturna (Voretigene neparvovec) is one of those few pharmaceuticals for which the trade name and the generic name have roughly equal plausibility as a name for a minor Star Trek character.

There are admittedly not many patients for whom this stuff is indicated:

Leber’s congenital amaurosis, or biallelic RPE65-mediated inherited retinal disease, is an inherited disorder causing progressive blindness. Voretigene is the first treatment available for this condition. The gene therapy is not a cure for the condition, but substantially improves vision in those treated. It is given as a subretinal injection.

Now: is it worth $850,000 to not be blind anymore?

In an agreement with the Boston-area insurer Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Spark will get the full price of treatment up front. If patients don’t get an immediate benefit — measured at 30 days, or a long term one — measured at 30 months, Spark will have to give some of the money back in a rebate.

There’s a new wrinkle.

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Monitoring the hailing frequency

And, ultimately, not giving a damn:

I mention in passing that Mr Simon offers wallpapers derived from his bird photography.

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