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Racist border policies mean Toronto school board will no longer allow trips to Trump’s USA

Toronto high-school students have been visiting the USA since their inception; I remember my own high-school trips to Buffalo’s Albright Knox gallery warmly. But they are a relic of the past, because the Toronto District School Board will not risk harassment and worse of its students at the US border, where people born to Arab or Muslim families, or in majority-Muslim families, report widespread discrimination.
(more…)

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Senate votes to allow ISPs to collect and sell personal data without permission

In a party-line split, the U.S. Senate today voted to allow internet service providers to retain personal data without permission and sell it to whomever might pay for it.

The Senate voted 50:48 in favor of S.J. 34, which would remove the rules and, under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, prevent similar rules from being enacted. It now heads to the House for approval.

“If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy framework, and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny in a joint statement.

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Anti-theft toilet paper dispenser with facial recognition technology


The public bathroom at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park now has a toilet paper dispenser outfitted with a camera and facial recognition technology to prevent toilet paper theft. From the New York Times:

Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a machine dispenses a sheet of toilet paper, precisely two feet in length. If visitors require more, they are out of luck. The machine will not dispense a second roll to the same person for nine minutes.


At the Temple of Heaven Park, one of Beijing’s busiest tourist sites, many people said on Monday they were pleased by the new machines.


“The people who steal toilet paper are greedy,” said He Zhiqiang, 19, a customer service worker from the northwestern region of Ningxia. “Toilet paper is a public resource. We need to prevent waste…”


I agree with park visitor Wang Jianquan, 63: “The sheets are too short.”


China’s High-Tech Tool to Fight Toilet Paper Bandits(NYT)

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Amazing body paint illusion of a woman cut in half


Israeli makeup magician Ilana Kolihanov created this wonderfully creepy optical illusion. See more of her incredible work on her Instagram feed.



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Roku’s Streaming Stick helps make travel not as horrible

I hate to travel, but Roku’s Streaming Stick lets me take my home TV viewing experience with me.

While we’ve tried AppleTV, Xbox One, and a Google Chromecast stick, my daughter and I both prefer Roku. We’ve got all the apps we like loaded, and our profile’s and linked devices keep everything current.

The stick is just too handy. I plug it into the back of my hotel room’s TV and magically all my media appears.


Roku Streaming Stick (3600R) (2016 Model) via Amazon

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Conservative trolls pretending to be black on Twitter “sad” and “obvious”

A sharp increase in right-winger pretending to be black on Twitter as they troll people has been noted.

“I’m used to trolling, and it doesn’t bother me, but the idea of a black woman selling her sons out to police with everything we know now was so sad to me that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. And the idea that anyone — let alone a black person — could say Emmett Till deserved to die is just so beyond the pale,” he said.

Over the past few months, Black Twitter has noticed an increase in the number of white trolls creating fake Twitter accounts. Newkirk says he first noticed this around election time last year, when people began posting directions on how to create these fake accounts on websites and forums.

This sounds like a play-for-play repeat of a strategy defined during the gamergate imbroglio: a generic female name, a googled cutesy avatar and a comically idealized personality that supposedly will bring the enemy to their knees but which convinces no-one but fellow believers. “All very cartoonish,” as Newkirk describes.

…one of the common mistakes trolls make is misusing or overusing African-American Vernacular English. “It’s not just that they get the rules of AAVE wrong — both the spoken and written conventions — they also don’t code switch the way black people do. Not a lot of effort goes into these accounts, in my honest opinion,” Rosenbaum says.

Likewise, the gamergate-era trolls would mix up various strata of queer theory and feminism in precisely the same uncannily comical way. It’s baffling until you realize they’re doing it to impress one another, not to overcome the adversary. It would all be good fodder for a masters’-level sociology thesis about text.

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Star Wars Rebels season three draws to an end

Season three of Star Wars Rebels has been fantastic! This week promises an epic showdown.

This season we’ve seen Mon Mothma bring the rebel fleet together, the Mandalorians begin to throw off the yoke of the Empire, and Obi-Wan dispatched an old evil in pure Kenobi style. Now, Grand Admiral Thrawn is set to spring his trap, destroy Phoenix Squadron and cripple the Rebellion.

We may know how this works out in the end, but watching them get there is a lot of fun.

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An art adventure in a magicians’ lair with Olivia De Berardinis & Thomas Kuntz

Amazing sculptor and automata creator Thomas Kuntz, legendary pin-up artist Olivia De Berardinis, and master event creator Bob Self, have teamed up to create an occult cabaret and bohemian art salon where practitioners and connoisseurs of the darker things in life can meet, mingle, and create!

They call it Spirit Drawing, and you can join them on June 3rd, 2017 in Los Angeles.

From the Spirit Drawing kickstarter:


Wait… What? Drawing Ghosts Is A Thing?

It is now!

Calling all fans of classic horror movies, haunted houses, Victorian spiritualism, and Grand Guignol theater! With your support, the inaugural “Spirit Drawing” get-together will take place in Los Angeles one night only when darkness falls on Saturday, June 3, 2017.

Seriously… A Haunted Art Happening?

Bob Self (Publisher of Baby Tattoo Books), Thomas Kuntz (Sculptor & Master Automaton Builder), and Olivia De Berardinis (Legendary Pinup Artist) had an idea… to gather a group of artists and magicians for an evening of creative inspiration and spooky entertainment.

“Spirit Drawing” will be a first-of-its-kind occult cabaret and bohemian art salon where practitioners and connoisseurs of the darker things in life can meet, mingle, and create.

You don’t have to be an artist or a magician to attend. In fact, there are only two prerequisites for ticket holders. You must be 18 or older and you must have an appreciation for things that go bump in the night.

If you are a curious and adventuresome person • If you love art and/or magic • If you enjoy the thrill of new experiences – You will fit right in with the ghosts and ghouls at our event. Artists are encouraged to bring art supplies. Conjurors are urged to bring the unexpected! Casual observers are cautioned to leave assumptions about reality behind.

What Will Happen When I Walk In The Door?

Event attendees will have an unprecedented opportunity to examine legendary artifacts from the seldom-seen “Carnival of Art & Magic” archives, including the actual disembodied head used by the infamous Mistress of the Phantasmagoric Skull during the height of her popularity as a spirit medium in the 1800s. The skull will be presented by fetish supermodel Ulorin Vex, attired in a manner reminiscent of the original Mistress who tended to perform séances scantily clad or in the nude.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding… Fetish Models? Disembodied Heads?

We are not kidding! Join us on June 3, 2017 if you dare! We promise the experience will be rewarding.

You may reserve your space through Kickstarter.

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San Francisco: ODC’s stunning new season of contemporary dance

Tonight (Thursday, 3/23), San Francisco’s magnificent contemporary dance company ODC launches their 2017 season that includes two world-premiere dances, live music, and reprises of Brenda Way’s Walk Back the Cat and Kate Weare’s Giant. Every year, ODC astounds me with creativity, freshness, and compelling narratives told through sublime motion.


Tickets available here.


More: “ODC show examines what we hold on to, through dance(SFGATE)









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Flexible, printable circuits inspired by goldbug beetle

Poking a golden tortoise beetle (“goldbug”) triggers the insect’s color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News:

“In nature, networks of sensors and interconnects are called sensorimotor pathways,” says Subramanian Sundaram, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), who led the project. “We were trying to see whether we could replicate sensorimotor pathways inside a 3-D-printed object. So we considered the simplest organism we could find….”


The MIT researchers’ new device is approximately T-shaped, but with a wide, squat base and an elongated crossbar. The crossbar is made from an elastic plastic, with a strip of silver running its length; in the researchers’ experiments, electrodes were connected to the crossbar’s ends. The base of the T is made from a more rigid plastic. It includes two printed transistors and what the researchers call a “pixel,” a circle of semiconducting polymer whose color changes when the crossbars stretch, modifying the electrical resistance of the silver strip.


In fact, the transistors and the pixel are made from the same material; the transistors also change color slightly when the crossbars stretch. The effect is more dramatic in the pixel, however, because the transistors amplify the electrical signal from the crossbar. Demonstrating working transistors was essential, Sundaram says, because large, dense sensor arrays require some capacity for onboard signal processing.

To build the device, the researchers used the MultiFab, a custom 3-D printer developed by (professor Wojciech) Matusik group. The MultiFab already included two different “print heads,” one for emitting hot materials and one for cool, and an array of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes. Using ultraviolet radiation to “cure” fluids deposited by the print heads produces the device’s substrate.



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The Commodore 64’s “secret colours”

Commodore’s C64 had a famously decisive, if drab set of 16 colors to choose from, a note of artistic intent amid the unthinking mathematical extremities of other 8-bit color palettes. But did you know there were secret colors? Aaron Bell writes up a discovery that blew his mind many years ago and which, 26 years later, he’s finally figured out.

If you swap two colours rapidly enough – say at 50 or 60 frames per second – you can fool the eye into seeing something that isn’t there. On a machine with sixteen colours, just one or two extra can add a lot to a scene. Since today we all live in the future and you are reading a fully programmable document on a supercomputer, let’s try it.

The sad part is that the trick doesn’t work for most pairings due to the obvious strobing/flickering effect it generates. But now wily coders can add a whole host of new grays to their vivid Commodore palettes. (“The tartan for the clan McPuke” is definitely the best description of the C64 palette I’ve ever read. I doubt it’ll be topped.)

I read somewhere this is more or less what’s done on cheap monitors, at 144hz, to make you think you’re getting 24-bit color.

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