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A directory of mostly wonderful things

In the 03/27/2020 edition:

British Prime Minister tests positive for Coronavirus

By Rob Beschizza on Mar 27, 2020 07:45 am

Boris Johnson, Prime Mininister of the United Kingdom, today tested positive for Covid-19, the novel coronavirus that's so far infected 500,000 people and killed 25,000 of them.

In a tweet, Mr Johnson said: "Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus.

"Together we will beat this."

Embedded below is a video Boris from a few days ago, boasting that "I shook hands with everybody" to show the virus who's in charge.

Read the rest

A webcomic explainer on how the census deals with digital privacy

By Thom Dunn on Mar 27, 2020 07:38 am

Journalist's Resource published this great comic by Josh Neufeld, explaining the basic concepts behind differential privacy, the data collection method used to prevent bad actors from de-anonymizing the information gleaned from the 2020 Census.

The original source includes some other great resources on differential privacy, but since the comic itself is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, we've re-posted it here in full.


A brief introduction to differential privacy: A data protection plan for the 2020 census [Josh Neufeld / Journalist's Resource] Read the rest

This tech-powered renter's and home insurance cuts through red tape fast

By Boing Boing's Shop on Mar 26, 2020 10:00 pm

You probably have a lot of items in your home that you'd hate to lose to theft or damage. While certainly no one ever hopes to fall victim to a natural disaster or home invasion, you need to be prepared just in case it does happen. When it comes to choosing a reliable renters insurance, it might be worth looking outside the more traditional options. Like Lemonade, for example. This trending technology-driven insurance company has a primary goal of making the lives of both renters and homeowners easier (and headache-free).

How Lemonade is different

If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of submitting a typical insurance claim, you understand the frustration the process strikes up: endless back and forth between agents, a lot of fine print to decipher, and of course — the endless wait for the much-needed funds from your claim to process (if you even actually end up winning it). Lemonade wants to put an end to all that financial and emotional toil: its state-of-the-art service is intuitive, the customer service is impeccable, and best of all, your claims are processed in as little as three seconds.

Here's how Lemonade works: powered by AI technology, you can get set up with a customized insurance plan tailored to your individual needs. Just answer a few questions, and you'll be able to review a plan that you can further adjust — and you pay immediately for it (no paperwork or call wait times to deal with). Lemonade also works by a flat fee, with rental insurance starting as low as $5 a month and homeowners insurance available for $25 a month. Read the rest

U.S. now has most coronavirus cases in the world

By Rob Beschizza on Mar 26, 2020 07:31 pm

Congratulations! The United States of America now has more coronavirus cases than any other country, at least as far as test results go. With 83,507 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Doom Board, we're leaving China (81,782) and Italy (80,589) in our wake. Read the rest

Skate legend Jay Adams was still going strong in 2013

By Jason Weisberger on Mar 26, 2020 06:52 pm

Sadly, Adams passed away in 2014 of a heart attack while on vacation. Read the rest

Dystopian masterpieces: The Strugatski brothers' "Snail On The Slope"

By Jason Weisberger on Mar 26, 2020 06:42 pm

An appropriate book for this time, Soviet-era dystopian fiction grandmasters Boris and Arkady Strugatski considered Snail On The Slope "the most perfect and the most valuable of their works."

Snail on The Slope is comprised of two separate storylines, taking place in and on the edge of The Forest. Together they paint a vivid picture of how modern society is not prepared for the future it is driving towards.

The Bureaucracy has established The Administration on the edge of The Forest. Peretz, a visiting philosopher enthralled with the idea of The Forest but unable to gain clearance to actually see it just wants to leave. Every day he is promised a ride back to civilization, but it never comes. Evicted from the hotel and with his visa revoked, Peretz is suddenly outside a system that doesn't even work when you are ensconced within.

Candide is a survivor of a crashed Administration helicopter in The Forest. Initially, he encounters villagers who appear to be current-ish era humans losing their technology, science, and civilization in a future where physics and biology are evolving faster than they are. Exploring The Forest even slightly more introduces him to new cultures he and the remnants of his humanity could not have predicted or prepared for.

I highly recommend Snail on the Slope.

The Snail on the Slope (Rediscovered Classics) Kindle Editionby Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Olena Bormashenko (Author, Translator) via Amazon Read the rest

Here are the 5 kinds of pandemic villains who are making things worse for the rest of us

By Mark Frauenfelder on Mar 26, 2020 06:31 pm

Does anyone ever read the introductory paragraph preceding a listicle like this? I sure don't. I always skip straight to the numbered list. So without further ado, here are the 5 types of villains making the pandemic worse for everyone else:


People who are hostile to science, evangelical Christians, sociopaths, members of Trump's loyalty cult, social media toilet lickers, and those whose investment portfolios are under threat.

Credo: "Coronavirus is George Soros / Bill Gates / libtard-concocted fake news designed to hurt God Emperor Trump."


Bloviator / racist hatemonger Rush Limbaugh: "The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” Disgraced failed senate candidate Roy Moore: "Businesses are closed, our economy is destroyed and churches are closed by tyrants who pander fear in the place of faith in God and our U S Constitution" Unfairly photo-shopped Jerry Falwell Jr: “Shame on the media for trying to fan [coronavirus] up and destroy the American economy. They’re willing to destroy the economy just to hurt Trump.” Former Ms. Nevada State 2019 Katie Williams: "I just went to a crowded Red Robin and I'm 30. It was delicious, and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I'll do what I want." Attorney Scott A. McMillan: "The fundamental problem is whether we are going to tank the entire economy to save 2.5% of the population which is (1) generally expensive to maintain, and (2) not productive."


People who buy up vast amounts of toilet paper, particle masks, disinfectant wipes, and food, either out of fear or to seize an opportunity to profit through price gouging. Read the rest

The Harlem Globetrotters' Fred "Curly" Neal, RIP

By David Pescovitz on Mar 26, 2020 04:42 pm

The legendary Fred "Curly" Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters died this morning. He was 77. I remember the first time I saw the Globetrotters as a kid in the late 1970s. I was disappointed when the team was introduced and Curly was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly, one of the players tore off another's afro wig and we realized it was Curly in disguise! From ESPN:

"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions."

Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, talk shows, television shows and even cartoons that included the team's own animated series [first episode below].

Read the rest

'Thank you all in emergency for saving my wife's life,' man tells coronavirus-fighting nurses

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 04:41 pm

“All the feels,” said the New Jersey nurse who snapped this photograph. “I love my job!”

Nurse Allison Swendsen said this man knew he was not allowed to enter the emergency room at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

But he still wanted to show his gratitude to the medical workers who were saving his wife from coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

Nurse Allie works for a hospital owned by Atlantic Health, and they desperately need donations of masks and gloves (PPE). Here's how to help.

Read the rest

Grocery store throws away $35K of food after woman purposefully coughs on it

By Mark Frauenfelder on Mar 26, 2020 04:16 pm

A woman thought it would be good fun to enter a Pennsylvania grocery store and cough on produce, meat, and other fresh food. As a result, the store threw all the food (worth $35,000) she came in contact with away.

From NBC News:

[Gerrity's supermarket co-owner Joe] Fasula said his staff "did the best they could to get the woman out of the store as fast as possible" and get police on the scene. He added that the local district attorney's office said it will pursue charges against the woman.

The Hanover Township Police Department confirmed in a statement that it is investigating the incident and that charges would be filed against the suspect, who underwent a mental health evaluation.

Image: Facebook Read the rest

Mexicans want crackdown on coronavirus-carrying American border crossers

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 04:16 pm

My, how the tables have turned.

Many Americans are relocating from their homes to far-flung places to escape the coronavirus outbreak.

This, public health officials tell us, only worsens the outbreak -- they can carry the virus without any symptoms.

A growing number of people in Mexico want their government to crack down on the reportedly growing number of American citizens who are fleeing south to escape Trump's colossal mismanagement of the worsening U.S. outbreak.

From BBC News:

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday. They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to "stay at home".Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the US over 65,000.

The border is supposed to be closed to all except "essential" business, but protesters said there has been little enforcement and no testing by authorities.

The blockade was led by members of a Sonora-based group, Health and Life, who called for medical testing to be done on anyone who crosses from the US into Mexico.

Jose Luis Hernandez, a group member, told the Arizona Republic: "There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic.

Read the rest

In coronavirus shutdown, Britain will pay self-employed people 80% of average monthly profit

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 04:03 pm

Wouldn't it be amazing if the United States did this?

Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday all self-employed citizens will receive a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly profits as part of the government’s coronavirus response plan.

From Reuters:

“The government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years up to 2,500 pounds per month,” Sunak said at the government’s daily news conference.

“It will be open to anyone with trading profits up to 50,000 pounds,” he added.

Read the rest

Lytepop Electrolyte Infused Popcorn is an organic, low-calorie, gluten-free and tasty trea

By Boing Boing's Shop on Mar 26, 2020 04:00 pm

Stuck at home? Us too. And all anyone can think about is food.

Stuffing your face for hours on end is definitely not a good way to stay healthy right now, but if you're going to do it anyway (let's be real—your original stash is already gone), why not improve what you're snacking on?

No, we're not saying to munch on baby carrots and call yourself satisfied. Instead, drop the guilt but none of the enjoyment and snack on this electrolyte-infused popcorn.

An organic, low-calorie, gluten-free and tasty treat, lytepop has more fiber and fewer calories (just 70!) per 14g serving than Smartfood popcorn, these portion-controlled bags are the key to balancing your nutrition routine while you're spending a heck of a lot of time doing a heck of a lot of not much.

Popcorn, in general, is a great snack. Because it's a whole-grain food, it's naturally high in several important nutrients and helps boost heart health. And because of its fiber content, you get digestive health benefits along with the bonus of feeling fuller, which is super helpful for bridging the hunger gap between meals and for keeping you from way overdoing it on snack calories.

This lytepop version is made with a superior kernel variety that produces larger, fluffier pops with exceptional taste, so you'll still get that same snacking joy. The added electrolytes provide the body essential minerals that aid in hydrating to help prevent fatigue and muscle cramping, which will you do some good whether you're conference calling from your couch or you're still committed to your fitness routine (high five to you, btw). Read the rest

Canada not okay with Trump sending ~1,000 troops to Canada border

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 04:00 pm

Canada is not super cool with plans by impeached U.S. president Donald Trump to send a thousand (maybe fewer) U.S. troops to the U.S.-Canada border. Trump says militarizing the border is good because he's worried things will become so desperate in the U.S. with the pandemic, Americans will flee north to escape the oncoming coronavirus hellscape.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump's plan is unnecessary because it makes no sense as a response to the coronavirus outbreak, and that it would damage relations between the two countries.

From Reuters:

Trump is expected to send fewer than 1,000 troops to the Canadian border, two U.S. government officials told Reuters. They would help enforce the ban on non-essential crossings due to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the officials said.

It would be “an entirely unnecessary step that we would view as damaging to our relationship,” Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at a news conference. She said she had first heard about plans to deploy troops “a couple of days ago”, and said Canada had made its position clear to various members of the U.S. administration.

Earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also discouraged militarizing the border. “Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Trudeau said. “We have been in discussions with the United States on this,” he told a news conference, without giving details.

Read more: Canada calls Trump plan to deploy troops at border unnecessary and damaging

Read the rest

Harvard Business Review talks to David Kessler about "anticipatory grief" in the face of a global pandemic

By Gareth Branwyn on Mar 26, 2020 03:45 pm

In an interview on Harvard Business Review, Scott Berinato talks with David Kessler, the "world's foremost authority on grief," and author of Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. Kessler has also worked in a three-hospital system in LA for three years and served on their biohazards team.

You said we’re feeling more than one kind of grief?

Yes, we’re also feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level.

What can individuals do to manage all this grief?

Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world.

Read the rest

Trump to rank coronavirus risk of U.S. counties, tells governors they can decide to relax COVID-19 restrictions

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 03:40 pm
White House plans to label counties across America as "high-risk, medium-risk, or low-risk"

Cirque du Soleil launches online portal for viewing shows, explores bankruptcy in coronavirus shutdown: Reuters

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 03:30 pm

Cirque du Soleil just launched 'CirqueConnect,' where you can view shows -- it's especially great for kids stuck indoors during the pandemic shutdown.

All of the company's live shows are canceled due to the coronavirus crisis, and they are exploring financial options that include bankruptcy, reports Reuters.

Las Vegas casinos and resorts, including the one that hosts Cirque's shows, are all shut down.

So many people are out of work in America. It's so awful.

From Reuters:

The famed Montreal-based circus company, largely known for its regular shows in Las Vegas venues, had to temporarily lay off most of its staff after social distancing measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus nixed its performances.

Cirque du Soleil is working with restructuring advisers to address a cash crunch and its roughly $900 million in debt, the sources said on Thursday.

Creditors are also in talks with advisers as they prepare for possible negotiations with the company, the sources said.


Cirque just launched a new digital content hub called CirqueConnect that lets you watch a stream of past performances.

The first stream will premier on Friday, March 27, at noon PST, featuring a 60-minute special of the shows "KURIOS - Cabinet of Curiosities," "O" and "LUZIA."

Read the rest

Two Tesla employees test positive for coronavirus, and are recovering from home: Reports

By Xeni Jardin on Mar 26, 2020 03:08 pm
Elon Musk previously mocked 'coronavirus panic' as 'dumb.'

Informative and thorough video on how to best sterilize your groceries

By Gareth Branwyn on Mar 26, 2020 03:07 pm

One of the contamination vectors that I think many people may be overlooking is shopping and safely dealing with groceries after bringing them home. In this video, the best I've seen to date, a Michigan doctor, Jeffrey VanWingen, goes through, step-by-step, how to process your groceries when you get them home to give you your best chance of not bringing COVID-19 into your house.

I like his analogy using glitter. Imagine that your groceries are covered in glitter. You need to get your groceries into the house and processed so that you end up with no glitter on your groceries, your kitchen, or on you. Disinfectant dissolves glitter (in this analogy).

[H/t Laurie Fox]

Image: YouTube Read the rest

You can use ANY image for your Zoom background

By Rusty Blazenhoff on Mar 26, 2020 03:06 pm

Don't be boring! If you still have to go to work meetings via Zoom's video calls, switch up the background to something interesting. Using the "virtual background" feature (once you're logged into the meeting), you can insert ANY image you want behind you. Share your flair with the people you work with!

May I suggest a few to get started?

Dune, complete with sandworm:

One of the many Scooby Doo backdrops:


or not:

Pee-wee suggests taking that meeting in his Playhouse:

(Pee-wee Herman)


-- the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise

-- Planet Tatooine from Star Wars

What you got?

Zoom image/YouTube, Dune image via Google Search, Scooby Doo image via Dread Central, Playhouse image via Pee-wee Herman Read the rest

Queen's Brian May teaches his famous guitar licks on Instagram and advises: “keep calm and create”

By Gareth Branwyn on Mar 26, 2020 03:06 pm

Brian May, "your friendly neighbourhood rock star" (as he described himself in a post) is doing a series of "MicroConcertos" on his Instagram account. On them, he shows fans and fellow guitarists how he achieves some of his famous Queen licks.

Brian is also using his account to try and keep fans' spirits up and to encourage them to take self-isolation very seriously, observe sterile technique, and to make the most out of the time. "Keep calm and create" he summarizes.

View this post on Instagram

This spontaneously turned into a ‘Star Licks’ type tutorial ... as an experiment, really. I don’t think I’ll Ever try to do it this way again, though - because it was ridiculously time-consuming trying to put it all up on IG ‘Stories’. Here’s a very rough potted version for posterity. Tell me how useful (or not!) it was. OK ? Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on Mar 21, 2020 at 5:10am PDT

Image: Screengrab Read the rest

There will be no new comic books in any stores "until further notice," thanks to coronavirus.

By Thom Dunn on Mar 26, 2020 03:05 pm

Diamond Comics is the exclusive shipping and distribution source for all weekly comic books. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! — they all send their single-issues to comic book stores through Diamond.

Due to coronavirus concerns, however, the company has halted all shipments for the foreseeable future.

Comic book stores can still sell other merchandise, as well as some graphic novels, trade paperbacks, collected editions, and other bound book-style publications. Single-issues will also continue to be available digitally through Comixology, as most publishers have already announced their solicitations for new comics through at least June.

But what this means for the future of the comic book industry remains to be seen. While graphic novels and trade paperbacks of single issues have continued to increase in popularity, those single weekly issues remain the backbone of the industry, just as they've been for the last 50+ years. The entire serialized structure of the medium depends on it. Even if you prefer to pick up the collected editions of SAGA (also known as "waiting for the trade"), the comic still benefits from the 6 months of promotion that it gets every time a new single issue is released. Each single issue sells around 40,000 copies, compared to 1-2,000 copies per graphic novel (although the first trade paperback continues to sell more than 1,000 copies per month on average, based on a quick glance through Diamond's sales charts). Self-contained graphic novels — those that are created and released as a single, cohesive entity, instead of as a collection of single issues — rarely sell as well as collected trade paperbacks. Read the rest

Official NYC Health Guidelines advise against rimjobs during coronavirus outbreak

By Thom Dunn on Mar 26, 2020 03:05 pm

An official memo from the New York City Department of Health offers guidance for sexual intercourse during social distancing. Among other things, it warns:

We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex.

COVID-19 has been found in feces of people who are infected with the virus. COVID-19 has not yet been found in semen or vaginal fluid. We know that other coronaviruses do not efficiently transmit through sex.

And provides a very important reminder that:

You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.

But above all, you need to know that:

Rimming (mouth on anus) might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter your mouth.

So now you know: if you're in New York City, DiBlasiDon't Go Ass-To-Mouth.

Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) [NYC Health]

Image via I am R. / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

How To Train Your Robot, a free kids book by an engineer and his 10-year-old daughter

By David Pescovitz on Mar 26, 2020 02:52 pm

My buddy Ken Goldberg, a UC Berkeley professor of robotics, his 10-year-old daughter Blooma, and science communicator Ashley Chase wrote a delightful children's book called How to Train Your Robot! Illustrated by Dave Clegg, the story, about a fourth grade robotics club, is a fun and understandable introduction to how deep learning can help robots gain new skills in the messy, unstructured human world.

Thanks to support from the National Science Foundation and UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, How to Train Your Robot is available as a free PDF online and student groups can request free hardcopies!

Read the rest

Enjoy this rather weird social distancing flipbook animation

By David Pescovitz on Mar 26, 2020 02:12 pm

The Flippist presents "Social Distancing... A Flipbook," inspired by Kirsten Lepore's wonderful "Hi Stranger" (2017) and Juan Delcan's "Safety Match" (2020). Read the rest

Watch: Gentleman obnoxiously sprays and sprays his coffee cup at drive-thru window

By Carla Sinclair on Mar 26, 2020 01:45 pm

There are those who don't take coronavirus seriously enough, and then there is this gentleman. Could he not have taken the cup with a gloved hand, and then drenched it in whatever solution he's using once the cup was in his car? Instead, he showers the cup with his spray, which also squirts into the drive-thru window. As if he isn't rude enough, he then tosses the lid into the window as well before driving off. Read the rest

John Lennon called this song "one of the greatest strange records"

By David Pescovitz on Mar 26, 2020 01:29 pm

Rosie and the Originals' "Angel Baby" (1960) is a classic doo wop ballad, beloved (and covered) by John Lennon. Lennon was a fan of the flipside of that record too, "Give Me Love," but only because it's wonderfully awful. From Jonathan Cott's book Days That I Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon & Yoko Ono:

"This is really one of the greatest strange records,” [Lennon] remarked. “It's all just out of beat, and everyone misses it. The A side was the hit, 'Angel Baby'— which is one of my favorite songs — and they knocked off the B side in ten minutes. I'm always talking Yoko's ear off, telling her about these songs, saying, 'Look, this is this! This is this... and this... and this!'"

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

"Old gas blob from Uranus found in vintage Voyager 2 data"

By David Pescovitz on Mar 26, 2020 01:06 pm

Yes, that is actually's brilliant headline on this story about a new discovery from data collected in 1986 by NASA's intrepid spacecraft. When the probe neared Uranus (heh heh), it measured the planet's surrounding magnetic field. Recently, NASA scientists Gina DiBraccio and Daniel Gershman analyzing Voyager's old data found a "wobble" in Uranus's magnetosphere indicating a plasmoid, a bubble of plasma traveling away from the planet. From

Scientists have studied these structures at Earth and nearby planets, but never at Uranus or its neighbor Neptune, since Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to date ever to visit those planets.

Scientists want to know about plasmoids because these structures can pull charged particles out of a planet's atmosphere and fling them into space. And if you change a planet's atmosphere, you change the planet itself.

And from the "plain language summary" of their scientific paper published in Geophysical Research Letters:

Uranus possesses an intrinsic magnetic field that encircles the planet and influences the local space environment. The solar wind plasma, made up of charged particles, flows away from the Sun and interacts with Uranus' magnetic field to form what is called a “planetary magnetosphere.” By understanding dynamics of the magnetosphere, we are able to learn how changes in the Sun can impact the planet's space environment but also how magnetic fields and plasma are circulated throughout the system. In this work, we analyze data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft during the Uranus flyby in 1986. The data revealed a helical bundle of magnetic flux containing planetary plasma, known as a “plasmoid,” in the tail of the magnetosphere.

Read the rest

Boris and the Bomb: a fast paced and funny indie flick that is now on Amazon Prime

By Jason Weisberger on Mar 26, 2020 12:41 pm

Boris and the Bomb was a fantastic way to spend a night not thinking about the coronavirus.

Boris is my kind of hero. He mostly just wants to be left the fuck alone.

Boris and the Bomb is an absurd action-adventure, directed by David Kronmiller and focused on a reluctant former KGB agent who just happens to have been hiding the nuke he stole on his way out the service for 30 years.

J. Anthony McCarthy plays Boris, a lumbering Russian bear of a man who has evidently spent the last 30+ years hiding the fact that he has a nuke. For some reason, now is the time Boris needs to get rid of the bomb and so he hops in a rideshare and the adventure begins.

The film is part slapstick, part absurdist comedy. Boris and the Bomb's non-stop action reminded me of the recent DC Harley Quinn movie and the humor reminds me of the legendary Hudson Hawk. The action rolls, giant gaping plot holes, and unexplained god knows what occurs... but you do not care at all because the pace just keeps screaming along!

I understand that only about $3000 of the $10k raised to make this film was able to be used on actual production (permits and food are evidently a thing.) Color me impressed!

The film is available gratis if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Boris and the Bomb via Amazon Read the rest

Here are three ways the pandemic could play out

By Mark Frauenfelder on Mar 26, 2020 12:33 pm

Ed Yong's article in The Atlantic, "How the Pandemic Will End," is the best piece I've read about why we were so unprepared for the covid-19 pandemic, how it will end, and what life after the pandemic will be like for everyone, including the newly-coined Generation C cohort (people born after February 2020).

Yong writes that there are three endgame possibilities: "one that’s very unlikely, one that’s very dangerous, and one that’s very long."

The first is that every nation manages to simultaneously bring the virus to heel, as with the original SARS in 2003. Given how widespread the coronavirus pandemic is, and how badly many countries are faring, the odds of worldwide synchronous control seem vanishingly small.

The second is that the virus does what past flu pandemics have done: It burns through the world and leaves behind enough immune survivors that it eventually struggles to find viable hosts. This “herd immunity” scenario would be quick, and thus tempting. But it would also come at a terrible cost: SARS-CoV-2 is more transmissible and fatal than the flu, and it would likely leave behind many millions of corpses and a trail of devastated health systems. The United Kingdom initially seemed to consider this herd-immunity strategy, before backtracking when models revealed the dire consequences. The U.S. now seems to be considering it too.

The third scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced.

Read the rest

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