ISSUE 1.29

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Sanity on the Weird Timeline

How do you keep sane in an insane world? #c0ffee, horrifying neural network images, human frailty, gene editing, and more.

[ribbonfarm.com]

Sanity on the Weird Timeline

A friend and I were joking about Trump and I asked him, "Have you seen that Comey testimony?" And he thought I said "Kobe", and he was like, "Kobe testified against Trump?" I repeated myself more clearly, but we both agreed that really, that wouldn't be all that unexpected at this point. Anyway, this article is about how you stay sane in a world that gets weirder, faster than we can keep up by the illustrious Sonya Mann of Exolymph.
[aeon.co]

End-times for humanity

The ultimate tragedy of mankind is that we only want to change when the end is in sight--or hindsight. Even now, I have some money budgeted for disaster gear but part of me is like, "Nah, it's OK. I can figure that stuff out later," when the entire point of my disaster fund is so that I can buy (and have) things that will prepare me for a disaster. But it's so easy--everything is so normal. My job is right here. Yet, this hyperreality makes us feel more exposed, more utilitarian, more paralyzed, and it's comforting to fall back into routine, convenience, luxury (because if you're reading this newsletter, you have luxury), all the while there's this impending sense of vulnerability, of dread. The more information I pour onto the internet the more I realize what I would lose by pulling the plug. I have, as of this moment, exactly 1,956 notes in Evernote, years of life experiences in Facebook, photos and videos (both personal and whimsical) scattered across devices, and only a few important documents in one single, flimsy, plastic file container. I own no physical photo albums.

Meanwhile, this article talks about that sense of fragility, its paradoxical force as we affirm our invulnerability, and the idea's role in history.

[theverge.com]

Pix2Pix is another good web tool for making horrifying autofill images

I know I don't really need to comment here. We eat this shit up. Check out these crazy, fucked up pictures!
[c0ffee.surge.sh]

#c0ffee is the color

Neat little site full of English words that translate into hex code colors like #COEDIT, #SIFTED, #FACADE, etc. (the T's and S's and whatnot are done via 1337sp34k)
[draper.com]

DragonflEye Has Liftoff

So... they put a backpack on a dragonfly. The backpack has electronics, sensors, and a solar cell. So they can use dragonflies to track... stuff? I guess? I don't know, but it's cool. Short little video inside. It cracks me up that there's some guy commenting on the Vimeo video, "Progress can not be stopped." Progress of ... dragonfly-mounted drones? (I see the applications. I'm just being snarky.)
[newatlas.com]

CRISPR gene-editing tool causes unintended genetic mutations

Researchers using CRISPR frequently analyze for side effects by targeting sections of the genome that have a high probability of unintentional mutations, but when they don't analyze the whole genome, they can be missing potentially important mutations. In mice, for example, they found "more than 100 large gene deletions or insertions". However, they couldn't find any side effects... yet. Boy, it'd suck to have your eye color changed in a routine aesthetic gene mod operation and then have a family, and a kid, and that kid is born with a tail. Who could have seen that coming?
[bleepingcomputer.com]

Russian State Hackers Use Britney Spears Instagram Posts to Control Malware

Compromised sites prompt the user to download a very sounds-like-I-need-it "HTML5 Encoding 0.3.7" Firefox extension which then reports user information back to a command and control server. But wait! There's more! In order to resolve the C&C server domain, the malware checks out the comments section of a Britney Spears instagram photo and finds a comment which resolves to a certain hash value (a hash is an output created by an algorithm that can be applied to arbitrary bits of text - therefore, the malware "test" the comments by "hashing" all of them until it finds the one that matches). There's a more technical explanation here if you're interested in this sort of stuff. (Thanks, Damianne. ily)
[fox8.com]

Angry man denied assistance releases around 100 bed bugs in city office

C'mon, man. I'm pissed, too, but... I don't know. Part of me is annoyed at this guy, part of me sympathizes, part of me is grossed out, and part of me despairs at the facts of the situation in general.