I should just not read BoingBoing Shop ads

BoingBoing was at one time the most popular blog in the world.  It still has some appeal even though Cory Doctorow has left — except for its ads, which oftentimes sound like parodies of ad-speak.

Case in point: the Gravita floating lamp.  Why should you buy this product?
❶  To induce people to say, "Dude, your lamp is broken," so you can then reply "No, dude, it is not."
❷  "it doesn't look like it should work at all … unquestioned uniqueness … might spend as much time drawing stares as it does lighting your space."
❸  "couldn't get more minimalist if it tried."
❹  "generated nearly 20 times its original financial goal during its phenomenally popular Kickstarter campaign."
❺  Magnets for levitation, induction for power transfer.
❻  "the shock, shatter, dust, and water-resistant LED bulb is made from tempered salinite"
❼  "distinctive Edison-style bulb"
❽  "built-in Bluetooth speakers"
❾  "also serves as a wireless charging pad"
❿  "USB-A and USB-C charging ports"
⓫  "expect to survive up to 20 years and shine for more than 50,000 hours."
⓬  "Usually $134, it's now on sale for just $89.99."

Compare this with the regular-strength bullshit that the Gravita’s own manufacturer uses (Regularly $500!  On sale for only $134.99!)

So what’s not to like?  This ad copy is a reflection of who BoingBoing thinks their readers are:
❶ = is a male who pretends to be a dude bro and wants to give people a reason to say the word dude to him;
❷ = likes cat-toys;
❸ = has nouveau-riche artistic pretensions and doesn’t parse sentences carefully (of course this thing is trying to be minimalist!)
❹ = is very proud of his little startup company that no one has heard of;
❺ = wishes he knew how science really worked;
❻ = has no idea that salinite isn’t a real word;
❼ = Has vaguely heard of "Edison", which is the traditional lightbulb shape, and thus completely non-distinctive;
❽ = likes impractical but seemingly-cool toys;
❾ = has an iPhone;
❿ = maybe the help might have an Android that needs charging;
⓫ = is impressed by warranties that are unlikely to be honoured;
⓬ = has no idea how much anything is really worth, being nouveau riche and all.

Really, Cory’s new blog is too much of a screed against Late-Stage Capitalist Robber Barons, while the remaining Boingers are too microfocused on the microdosing San Jose microculture, so I should just unsubscribe from the two of them.


Links of a day

Some 𝕌𝕟𝕚𝕔𝕠𝕕𝕖 icons I might want to use: 📹 Video.  📷 Photo.  🖼 Artwork.  📜 Official document.  📰 Newsmedia.  💬 People talking.
Medicine.  More and more useful facts are being discovered every day!  The thymus gland turns out to be essential for pregnancy, because it creates a T cell that the placenta needs; without her thymus, the mom would get gestational diabetes.  And you thought the thymus just shrank to nothing at puberty, didn't you?

Art.  Well, you gotta give this person points for originality.  It's Spongebob Squarepants, drawn in the style of Medieval Japan.  Or maybe it's just an excuse to use my new "Art" tag 🖼.  Do you see a little Mona Lisa in the tag?

Libertarian trainwreck.  The music is good, but the claimed connections to Modern Monetary Theory and US Elections are farcical (although I suppose the caricatures of the Fed and FOMO have some validity).  Three minutes you'll never get back.  Hey, isn't it cute how the text wraps around the 📹 icon and then wraps around the "two guys sitting" image?  It doesn't?  Try making your window narrower or increasing text zoom.

Food.  Americans prefer lighter yolk colours, so their factory chickens are fed corn.  A "normal" egg from a small-scale farm (where chickens eat bugs) is shown for comparison.

Vaccine:  Israel has already vaccinated 15% of its population.  (Ontario has so far vaccinated 0.5%.)  How did they do it?  They paid double the going rate to get lots of vaccine quickly.

Sorry, no uses of the "Official Documents" or "People Talking" tags today.  That Unicode blue colour they chose is ridiculously bright.

Blog year in review: 2020

My Blog Year 2020 began on April 14ᵗʰ, when I heeded the call from LiveJournal to please generate content for all those bored people stuck at home due to the Pandemic.  The year ended, just a tad late, on January 2ⁿᵈ, with the completion of my week of “random links of the day” posts.

How would a normal person review their year in blogging?
  • 30 posts written in 9 months.
  • 10,402 words accompanied by 62 images (14 of which I had altered)
  • 43 comments received from 9 people.
  • 41 comments given to (a different set of) 9 people.
Well, that doesn’t quite seem to take the biscuit.  How about some nerdier stats?
HTML tags used: <a>, <abbr>, <b>, <big>, <br>, <div>, <font>, <hr>, <i>, <img>, <li>, <lj>, <lj-cut> <p>, <small>, <span>, <sub>, <sup>, <table>, <td>, <th>, <tr>, <tt>, <u>, <ul>.
CSS properties used: background-color, border-top, border, color, cursor, float, font-family, font-size, font-weight, height, letter-spacing, margin-bottom, margin-left, margin-right, margin-top, object-fit, object-position, padding, text-align, vertical-align, width.
Man, what a stick-in-the-mud I am!  None of the HTML tags I used this year were even invented in the 21ˢᵗ century!  Of the CSS properties used, only object-fit and object-position are at all new and they didn’t even work properly due to differences between LiveJournal and DreamWidth.  We need to go nerdier…

882 uses of 116 different non-ASCII Unicode characters!

Well, okay then!  Can we get a list of all those non-English characters I used?  To make the table shorter, we’ll combine characters with similar names. Those shown with a green background are mundane characters often used by Normies, while those with pink backgrounds work only on my laptop, not on my smartphone, so probably shouldn’t be generally used.

Collapse )

And there you have it!


Random Links of the Ⅶᵗʰ Day

Australian cattle dogs:  It’s cute how one parent has her(?) paw around the puppy.  Some commenters think these are “blue heelers”, which is an ambiguous term describing either the Australian Cattle Dog or the Australian stumpy tail cattle dog, which is smaller, does not have tan spots, and is born tailless.  In this photo, there seems to be a tail between the parent dogs.
      The blue colour comes from “ticking” of black hairs throughout a basically white coat.  In dogs of this breed where the ticking is brown hairs, the animal’s overall look is “red”.

Dog on hoverboard.  8-second video with added Fleetwood Mac.  From Reddit, where the commenters have many good jokes, such as
‣ Walkies of the future
‣ They see me rollin, they hatin
‣ How does he get off?  Couple glasses of wine and some Barry White tracks.

Cat:  In recent years, this posture has become known in English as the “mlem”, a word that in Armenian would be the 1st person singular future subjunctive form of the verb that means “to shove”.

Peanuts are a tasty food.  In this Science News review article, they found three pieces of good news in health for 2020: ⓵ there is now an approved treatment for curbing peanut allergies; ⓶ there is now an approved treatment for Ebolavirus (in addition to the vaccine already approved); and ⓷ some people’s immune systems have been observed to eventually obliterate an HIV infection all on their own.  Great!
Science News is a publication of the nonprofit Society for Science & the Public, one of whose major donors is Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which is the manufacturer of that Ebola drug that was approved.  The Society wishes for you to be aware of this potential conflict of interest.  The price of Regeneron’s stock has fallen 17% since this good-news report was issued back in October.

Hyperlapse river travel:  It took about 25 hours for this tugboat to ferry this cargo from Rotterdam to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.  There was a camera mounted on the cargo, 30 metres up.  Click to see a 10-minute video; you can use the YouTube ⚙ gear icon to increase the playback speed to ‘2’ and finish the ride in only five minutes!  It’s like watching a roller-coaster video but without the up-and-down parts.  🆞 🆫 2160p!

Weather:  So how often do we have White Christmases around here in Waterloo Region?  On this chart, the black line is how much precip we got last month, while the red lines indicate the most extreme values seen.  Note how both red lines jump suddenly upward on December 24ᵗʰ.  Apparently we get Christmas Eve storms quite often.
      This is the first time I have ever tried using the object-position property in CSS.  You are supposed to see a chart that begins with the word “Precipitation”.  If instead you see a chart beginning with the word “Temperature”, something has gone wrong.

Friday the Random-Links-of-the-Day Slept Late

(Title is a riff on this novel from 1964.)

Nothing new under the sun:  If you’re mining ancient literature for ideas to use in your new novel, it is likely that your work will end up having many tropes in common with every other novelist who’s doing the same thing.  This is especially true if the trope-matching is loose (the phrase “big hairy friend” unfairly minimizes the many differences between Chewbacca and Hagrid).
      John Atkinson is a famous cartoonist.  You’ve never heard of him, have you?  The world is full of semi-famous people who are known by many others but not you.  This paragraph is just filler because the comic is so tall.

Military Secrets:  It is officially unknown whether the MARAUDER plasma gun still exists, or to what extent it ever worked as a weapon.  No pictures of it were ever released; no papers published on it since 1995.
      This photo is of the Shiva Star, whose capacitor banks were reused for MARAUDER.  It was built in 1971 and was still being used for fusion research as late as 2007.  Supposedly it got its name because it originally had four arms, like depictions of Shiva, rather than because that Hindu god is also called “The Destroyer”.

Schrödinger's Douchebag:  There is no particular reason for this crook to be mentioned today.  I was trying to determine whether DPYDIT is a standardized Internet abbreviation for “don’t put your dick in that” (it isn’t) when I came across Urban Dictionary’s Word of the Day for December 27ᵗʰ.  Their choice was Schrödinger's Douchebag, defined as “A guy who says offensive things and decides whether he was joking based on the reaction of people around him.”  Naturally I like this joke because of the umlaut in its name — accent marks are so 💠cute💠!  💝  So it seemed to me that I could use this in my week-long “Links of the Day” series, perhaps attached to a photo of Martin Shkreli, the pharma bro douchebag.  He has such a punchable face!  But it turns out, the problem with this is, it’s just not very funny.  Not every joke-idea actually works; some of them need to be cut from the show.  So how could you be reading this?

Thursday’s Links have Far to Go

(This post’s title was adapted from a nursery rhyme.)
Dog.  A four-second video of a dog having some difficulties while licking milk out of a bowl that’s set too high for him/her.
      I have dining-room chairs that look like those!  From a now-bankrupt company founded in 1887 called “Pennsylvania House”.  But my kids are too old now for those plastic outlet-covers in the background.  And my house has a forced-hot-air heating system that apparently dates from the 1950’s — the baseboard heaters shown here are much newer.

Cat:  If you look up “Electrostatics” in Wikipedia, it shows you this picture.  You also get this picture if you look up triboelectric effect and static cling and 36 other articles; it’s a very popular image!  From Reddit.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine:  Derek Lowe is a research chemist who has been in demand this year as someone who knows enough to talk meaningfully about the fight against COVID while not being actively involved in it himself.  Unfortunately for my purposes, he does not decorate his blog posts with pictures, so here’s his icon-photo.
      Dr. Lowe devotes most of this article to the Ox/AZ vaccine, which has just been approved for use in the UK (only), as a one-dose usage for what had always been intended to be a two-dose vaccine.  He apparently believes that this is an act of extreme desperation on the part of the Johnson government.  His text about the Gamaleya vaccine makes it seem like that one could end up being used as the second dose for the Brits.
      The director of the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow has said that their vaccine is only effective for 3‒4 months if given as one dose; if Ox/AZ is similar then this should give the UK Conservatives some breathing room to plan their next move.

Bumblebee butts: here is a gallery of 22 photos.  For your Pandemic Lockdown boredom!  (Insert Furry joke here. ᴮᵘᵗᵗˢ)

Random Links of the Day for Wōdnesdæg

Weather.  The lowest low in the recorded history of meteorological lows is currently in the Bering Sea.  This is expected to produce unseasonably-warm weather for me throughout January, by sequestering all the cold out West.

Racism:  In Boston they have now taken down a statue of a Black man kneeling before a Republican.  The original statue in Washington DC had been paid for in 1876 by freed Blacks, but this Boston copy from 1879 was funded by a “circus showman” who had white skin — the colouring of the money-donors’ skins is supposed to explain why the two statues are being treated differently.

Incompetance?  These numbers do not add up.  Only 87% of the people expressed one of the three opinions about how financial institutions have been responding to the pandemic, yet somehow this chart-row extends all the way across and is labelled “100%” at the bottom right.  All the charts in the linked article are like this, but Fig. 1 is where it’s most egregious.
      I think they should either include an outlined white box in each row for the “no opinion” people or just rescale each row to be 100% of something: “Of the people who expressed an opinion, 29% approve of how financial institutions have been handling the pandemic”.
      This chart is from Probit, Inc., which is part of EKOS Research Associates.  These people present themselves as a professional polling company.  They seem to be implying in this article that they were paid for this work by the Government of Canada using tax dollars.  I expect clearer, less obviously-wrong charts from suppliers to Her Majesty’s Government, monarch in right of Canada (Head of the Commonwealth, Fidei defensatrix).

Insanity?  In the news: Anthony Quinn Warner’s ex-lawyer tried to warn cops over a year ago that Warner was building a bomb in his RV.  Being a lawyer, he now claims that the story should be about Warner’s ex-girlfriend, whom he apparently was representing at the time when he told the cops that he (still) represented Warner.  But the girlfriend seemed suicidal so there wasn’t much the cops could do with the wild story about her ex-boyfriend.
      Pic unrelated, because I couldn’t find any usable pictures of Attorney Raymond Throckmorton of Nashville TN.

Tuesday's random Links of the Day

In a sign of the End Times, microplastics have been detected in human placentas.  These plastic particles are small enough to have travelled through the mother’s bloodstream.
      One of the particles they found was coloured with copper phthalocyanine, the most-manufactured pigment in the world, which is used in blue finger paints — suitable for children!

Dog.  Oil painting on wood.  His name is Virgil.
      The subject of this portrait probably has microplastics in his body.  The paint itself will become such when it flakes off.

This llama (named Cormac) has produced nanobodies that are very effective against COVID-19.  Llamas and other camelids have immune systems that produce single-domain antibodies, which are much smaller than regular antibodies, easier to manufacture, and can be given by inhalation.  This could someday become a vaccine or a test reagent, but “we have a lot more work ahead of us”.
      That grass he’s eating could be studded with microplastics, just falling out of the air like any other dust.

The US government at work.  (This photo from the article depicts a scene which almost certainly contains some bits of microplastic.)  This time, they are refusing to accept scientific recommendations that: ⟮𝟙⟯ men aren’t that different from women and both should aim for one alcoholic drink per day; and ⟮𝟚⟯ Obama’s “10% of your calories from sugar” is too lenient and the standard should be tightened to 6%.
      Money quote: “most people do not follow the government’s advice”.

Novavax, Inc. is a company that has been making vaccines for 30 years, but has never managed to gain regulatory approval for any of them.  They are now finally ready to *start* phase Ⅲ testing of their latest candidate, which consists of fat globules with SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins sticking out of them.  (The trials were delayed by some production problems, which might perhaps have involved microplastics.)

Europe is doing a massive “Trust the Science!” ad campaign to get people to take one of the COVID-19 vaccines.  I have a smallpox scar; my kids don’t.  While smallpox was a nasty disease in days of old, there were fewer problems with microplastics back then.

Just one word: 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘴.


Random Links of the Day: Monday

(These are hot-links to images hosted by others and will likely rot eventually.  Tap or click to visit related article; to embiggen a photo, either pinch-zoom or right-click to select “View Image”)

Top-heavy robot has difficulty with escalator.

In 2008, tusks from elephants killed almost 500 years ago were discovered in a shipwreck.  They were well-preserved, so their mitochondrial DNA could be analysed to determine which matriarchy they came from.  Results finally published this year indicate that the tusks came from 17 different female-led elephant groups, only 4 of which still exist today.

People tend to assume that current trends will continue indefinitely.  There’s such a thing as reversion to the mean, you know.  2021 probably won’t be that bad, since bad years are often followed by average ones, because most years are followed by average ones and the year itself doesn’t know how the previous year went.

Sexism is rampant in America.  How dare the Boy Scouts respond to their boy-rape problem by trying to recruit girls!

Americans love to imagine that their political issue-of-the-day is so important that it justifies killing people in their sleep on Christmas Day, but it usually doesn’t.  Remember the Maine!  (To this day, Cuba claims that the attack on the USS Maine was a false-flag operation by the USA, during which innocent American sailors were killed in their sleep by their own side.)

Ah yes, the murder hornets.  Where did they come from?  “The combination of half-listening and overdramatization of the facts by the media creates an anxiety-driven stew.”

This cat puts tremendous effort into pushing a bottle off a ledge.

A collection of silly one-sentence summaries of popular movies.

Unicode has 🅂 🅀 🅄 🅰 🅁 🄴 🅂 and Ⓒ ⓘ 🅡 ⓒ 🅛    e⃟    🄪.

Random Links of the Day

(These are hot-links to images hosted by others and will likely rot eventually.  Click to embiggen or visit related article.)

A hot-drinks centre, dug out from the ashes of ancient Pompeii.  Nice artwork!  More info.

Well, that's sort of obvious, now that it's pointed out.

This was Uptown Waterloo ON, on Boxing Day.  Retail stores are closed due to the Pandemic, so there were many parking spaces available!

The Nashville bomber was a lone nut who spent a long time constructing that van/bomb in his back yard.  Thanks to [personal profile] rain_gryphon for the link!  Still no word yet on whether AT&T was really his target.

Here is a frequently-appearing YouTube commercial that I always skip over as soon as the “Skip Ad” button appears.  But I gave it a moment and — they’ve put so much work into this!  There is so much more to it than just those five five seconds they make you watch.  And their theme of “our LEGO™ toys power your kid's imagination and Grandma’s too!” is unob­jec­tion­able.  Disney's name appears in very small print at the end, but it seems their fingerprints are all over this one.

Plaintive Medieval chant in English by the London City Voices, starring Annie Lennox.  Nice use of chroma to show you which Zoom pictures of singers are currently singing.

This one is called, “I tried to fit as much Australia as possible into one canvas! Can you see the Opera house?”.  Yes, I think I can.  From Reddit.

Some people try way too hard with their Christmas lights…