This startup promises to preserve your brain for uploading, after they kill you

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“What if we told you we could back up your mind?” asks start-up Netcome. According to MIT grad and co-founder Robert McIntyre, he has state-of-the-art technology to preserve your brain in a near-perfect state for scanning in the future once that technology is invented. Thing is, they have to start the preservation process while you’re still alive. They’re pitching the company at Y-Combinator’s “demo daysnext week. Already 25 people have signed up on the waiting list. From Antonio Regalado’s feature in Technology Review:

The brain storage business is not new. In Arizona, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation holds more than 150 bodies and heads in liquid nitrogen, including those of baseball great Ted Williams. But there’s dispute over whether such cryonic techniques damage the brain, perhaps beyond repair.

So starting several years ago, McIntyre, then working with cryobiologist Greg Fahy at a company named 21st Century Medicine, developed a different method, which combines embalming with cryonics. It proved effective at preserving an entire brain to the nanometer level, including the connectome—the web of synapses that connect neurons.

A connectome map could be the basis for re-creating a particular person’s consciousness, believes Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist who is president of the Brain Preservation Foundation—the organization that, on March 13, recognized McIntyre and Fahy’s work with the prize for preserving the pig brain.

There’s no expectation here that the preserved tissue can be actually brought back to life, as is the hope with Alcor-style cryonics. Instead, the idea is to retrieve information that’s present in the brain’s anatomical layout and molecular details.

“If the brain is dead, it’s like your computer is off, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t there,” says Hayworth.

A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal”(Tech Review)

No Man’s Sky as a Commodore Amiga slideshow

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No Man’s Sky is a beautiful game of interstellar exploration: something about its epic psychedelic wonder stays with you even after you’ve internalized its procedural patterns. Blake Patterson wanted to see how well a classic Amiga 1000 would render some of its scenery. Granted, an Amiga isn’t going to counting frames by the second, but it was the first machine to offer thousands of colors on-screen at once and its peculiar pallete trickery gives NMS an even weirder look.

Investigating a reasonable way to convert the images, I discovered a fairly amazing Java-based application known, colorfully, as “ham_converter” which uses extremely optimized algorithms to get the most out of the Amiga’s bizarre HAM mode. The results, rendered in a 320×400 pixel interlace (and a 4:3 aspect ratio), are well beyond the quality that I recall seeing my Amiga 2000 generate with early, basic HAM converter programs, rendering MCGA images to the screen in HAM mode back in the early ’90s. In fact, they are so good that their shockingly high quality takes a bit of the “retro” out of this post; the images look a little too good! And, just to let you know this wasn’t just a click-and-drag process, the systems involved in the conversion were: a gaming PC [specs] able to run the Java app, an iMac [specs] not able to run the Java app (apparently) but also running an FTP server, an accelerated Amiga 2000 [specs] with a LAN connection and a floppy drive (and an FTP client), and the Amiga 1000 [specs] with a floppy drive, SCSI hard drives, and no LAN connection. Getting data to and fro was … involved.

In the future, all viewscreens on starships visiting other worlds should be limited to what Hold-And-Modify screen mode could render in 1985.

Review: Lynx Sonoma smoker makes the perfect turkey

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Every year we invite a bunch of friends over for Christmas dinner. We always have oven roasted turkey. But for 2017, I was given a loaner unit of the Lynx Sonoma Propane Gas Smoker, so I decided to smoke the turkey this time. The smoker sells for about $3200. It arrived on a truck. It’s made of stainless steel and looks beautiful. It weighs 250 pounds, and wasn’t easy to roll across the lawn because gophers have turned it into Swiss cheese. After I got the metal beast settled on the back porch, I opened the instruction manual.

The first step (after buying a tank of propane) was to download an app for my smartphone and connect it to the wifi radio in the smoker. This took a long time. The app needed the smoker’s serial number. I couldn’t find it. I had to call Lynx to find out where the PIN code on the smoker was. It turns out it’s under a little drawer that contains the control panel. I had to get on my hands and knees and crane my neck to see the tiny numbers printed on a sticker, which doesn’t peel off. I took a photo of the sticker and zoomed to see the numbers (note to Lynx – please move the sticker, or better yet, let people use the app without requiring a serial number). It also took several attempts to connect to the smoker, but once I got it, the app worked fine. The main purpose of the app is to let you see a temperature graph on your phone. I love this feature, because it takes a long time to smoke meat, and it let me do other things in the house and check on the progress remotely.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I practiced with chickens. The Sonoma has a tray to fill with wood chips, which get heated by the propane heater to produce smoke. The chickens were smoked to perfection, giving me confidence that the 25 pound turkey I was going to smoke wouldn’t be a half-charred/half-frozen disaster. I told Cory about my plans, and he suggested I tell the butcher to spatchcock the turkey. Spatchcock is a fun word for cutting the turkey’s backbone and butterflying it. When a bird is prepared this way, it cooks more evenly, because it increases the surface-area-to-volume ratio.

Carla picked up our turkey at Whole Foods a couple of days before Christmas. When she asked the butcher to spatchcock it, he looked at her as if she’d asked him to do something obscene to the turkey. Another customer overheard and told the butcher what spatchcocking was. The butcher found a co-worker who knew how to perform the operation, and he did it, albeit reluctantly, since there were a lot of customers clamoring for their turkeys.

Prep was easy. I just used the app to select the “smoked turkey” recipe and it heated the smoker and alerted me when it was time to put the turkey in. There was plenty of room in the gigantic smoker. I went inside and set up my iPad to monitor the temperature. It took a long time to smoke a big turkey – about 5 hours.

Cory snapped this photo of the turkey when it was ready. Fortunately, he’d brought along some out-of-town guests, one of whom was a professional chef, and she sliced the turkey masterfully (thanks, Pheobe!).

If I had $3000 to spare, this is something I would consider buying, because it does a great job, and smoking is a fun way to make delicious food. For now, I’m thinking about making the “Nellie Bly Smoker” that Bill Gurstelle wrote about in MAKE.

Captain Kirk, Spock, and Uhura want you to stay off hard drugs

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In 1973, the National Association Of Progressive Radio Announcers released “Get Off,” a 1973 vinyl record featuring dozens of musicians delivering anti-hard drug warnings. Along with personal warnings from Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper, the Doobie Bros., BB King, Ravi Shankar, the Staple Singers, and Frank Zappa, the crew of the starship Enterprise visits a planet ravaged by hard drugs. Just say know.

Podcast: The Man Who Sold the Moon, Part 06

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Here’s part six of my reading (MP3) (part five, part four, part three, part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015’s Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It’s my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.


Watch how this woman wins contest after she devours entire cotton candy in 3 seconds

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Eating an entire swab of cotton candy in three seconds flat is a fascinating thing to watch, and this woman does it like a champ. Actually, she is a champ. This GIF, by @DelightDestiny, shows how the woman swiftly and meticulously beats her opponent on a Chinese TV show after he challenges her to a cotton candy eating contest:

On the subject of the woman’s cotton candy speed-eating technique, Daily Dot puts it best:

The woman swallows the clump of spun sugar whole in three seconds flat before looking directly at the camera with a satisfied smirk. It’s a GIF that requires many repeat viewings to understand and appreciate her technique. Her first move is getting rid of the stick. Then she uses both hands to push the cotton candy mound into her mouth as fast as possible. Her co-presenter, meanwhile, eats the cotton candy at a normal pace while still holding onto the stick. He looks like an amateur next to her.

Video: How the Red Arrow Aerobatic Team does their thing

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I used to go to a lot of air shows when I was a kid growing up in Canada. I used to love seeing the American, British and French air forces show off their aircraft. It was always a thrill to see Canada’s Snowbird aerobatic team show up to strut their stuff. Now, thanks to this video, I have a little insight into how they and other elite flying teams do what they do.

These 3 courses will prepare you for Lean Six Sigma certification exams

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As more companies aim to reel in costs and boost productivity, project managers are becoming an essential part of many operations, and they’re paid handsomely for their expertise. But, while demand is high, you’ll have a hard time getting your foot in the door if you’re not toting the right certifications. The Official Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification Bundle will prepare you to ace three of the leading project management certification exams, and it’s on sale for $49.99 in the Boing Boing Store.

Lean Six Sigma is a business management methodology that combines Lean and Six Sigma, two methodologies intended to improve performance by systematically removing waste. This collection is designed to familiarize you with all three levels of Lean Six Sigma’s certification exams: yellow belt, green belt, and black belt. Make your way through the entire training, and you’ll gain the knowledge necessary to certify your skills and break into the field as a project manager.

The Official Lean Six Sigma Training and Certification Bundle is on sale for $49.99 in the Boing Boing Store today.

A Texas brewery made a purple, glittery ale with Peeps

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Easter is on April Fools Day this year but what I’m about to share is not a joke.

A brewery in Texas, The Collective Brewing Project in Fort Worth, has crafted a Peeps-filled ale that will be ready for the holiday. It’s a collaboration with local bar Lone Star Taps and Caps, according to Dallas Morning News’ Guide Live:

Called Peep This Collab, the beer is a sour ale brewed with Peeps, vanilla and butterfly pea flower, which will turn the beverage purple. Brewers added more than 30 boxes of the marshmallow candy, says Steven Roman, general manager of Taps and Caps. And once the beer has fermented, they’ll add edible glitter to really make it shine.

Collective’s head brewer and co-founder Ryan Deyo says, “Several of us were just sitting around the brewery talking about how beer has become this super serious thing. I’ve been on a kick to assert beer should be a fun thing… We make a beer with ramen noodles, so Peeps isn’t really a stretch.”

96-year-old style icon Iris Apfel gets her own Barbie

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So, Mattel recently caught some slack after announcing a Frida Kahlo Barbie. Kahlo’s estate is saying that the toy manufacturer didn’t get permission from them to use her image and likeness. Mattel disputes the claim.

They did, however, get the blessing of “geriatric starlet” Iris Apfel to make a single Barbie doll in her likeness. Yes, just one.

The Cut reports:

Unfortunately, Iris Apfel Barbie is one of a kind. (Same as Iris Apfel herself.) But if you’d like to dress your regular degular Barbie just like her, that will soon be an option. This fall, Barbie will release a “Styled By” Barbie, complete with glasses and necklaces from Apfel’s own Rara Avis collection. In a photo taken “at the Carlyle Hotel” (one of Apfel’s haunts), Barbie even sports a new, short bob haircut to fit the profile.

Note that the emerald green Gucci suit the nonagenerian’s Barbie is donning is styled after the one she wore on the cover of her new book, Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon.


Dopey, a podcast on the ‘dark comedy of drug addiction’

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A few years back I wrote about Dave, one of the hosts of Dopey podcast. It was before Dopey though. Back then, he was working on another project that caught my fancy. It was good but can’t tell you about it because he’s gone anonymous for this one.

I can tell you about Dopey though, in Dave’s words:

The show is about all things addiction related; using, crazy stories, consequences, and of course recovery. The format is basically a hang out between me, and my podcasting partner Chris. Between the two of us we’ve been to a million detoxes, rehabs and jail as well as used every substance under the sun besides angel dust. Our show is the first ever media platform to deal with addiction in a new way, a funny way, a way that doesn’t shame addicts for destroying their lives. Instead, Dopey celebrates the absurd life of an addict, the horrible mistakes, and the crushing defeats. We also champion recovery and sobriety without pandering or ever being overly sanctimonious.

Since they started just two years ago, they’ve gained a dedicated audience (known as “Dopey Nation”) who downloads their show 40K times a month.

Dave writes, “Many of our listeners who have gotten clean have offered some gratitude to Dopey, saying it helped point them in the right direction. Others have said if two idiots like you guys could get clean, then anyone can.”

Dr. Drew Pinsky will be a guest on their show this Saturday to talk about the opioid epidemic “raging through our country.”

How to tell good meat from the mediocre

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Epicurious challenged meat expert Eli Cairo to guess which one of two deli meats was more expensive. Cairo breaks down cuts of salami, ham, bologna, mortadella, hot dogs, sausages, prosciutto, . For each round of deli meats, Cairo visually scans, smells, and taste tests each meat before guessing which deli meat costs more. Once the prices were revealed, Cairo explains why a specific deli meat costs more and dives into specifics on what to look for in a deli meat.

Surgical resident judges the accuracy of medical scenes from film and TV

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In this Wired video, Columbia University general surgery resident Annie Onishi watches ER and operating room scenes from some film and TV scenes, including Uma Thurman’s adrenaline-to-the-heart one in Pulp Fiction, and gives her professional opinion on their accuracy. Although it’s 20 minutes long, it’s entertaining, so give it a watch… STAT.

Wired notes:

Correction: We misidentified the type of worm in the Grey’s Anatomy episode at 5:23! It was actually Ascaris lumbricoides,not Strongyloides

Previously: Doctors diagnose the bad guys’ injuries in ‘Home Alone’

How to use an eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher

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For those who want to know how to use their eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher properly, here is a tutorial that explains it in simple steps.

And for the rest of you who just want to know what the heck an eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher is, it literally means “eggshell predetermined breaking point causer.” According to Wiktionary, it’s “a device used to create breaking points in egg shells in order to allow one to easily remove the top part of an egg using a knife without causing the shell to splinter; used for the humorous effect of its overly-formal construction.”

And yes, they do sell them on Amazon.

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