My latest cartoon for New Scientist
There appears to be a trend of using human names for pets. Alyssa Fowers and Chris Alcantara, for WP’s Department of Data, asked the natural questions that come after: “How human is your dog’s name? How doggy is your name?” Enter your own name or a dog’s name to see where it falls on the dog to human scale.
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January 2nd, 2023: 2023, baby! A NEW YEAR BEGINS. Who knows what it will hold? Hopefully rad things and a minimum of bogus duds. Sorry to speak like an 80s surfer I just love rad things and hate bogus duds!!
Today I have done my yearly little treat that I've done NINETEEN TIMES BEFORE and updated the little year in the bottom-left of the comic. 2023! February 1st will be the TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY of Dinosaur Comics. That is wild, please email me with cool ideas to celebrate??
So handy! I really hate the newsletter trend - I literally never want another email.
I love feeds!
Maybe you’ve heard already, but I love RSS.
I love it so much that I retrofit sites without feeds into it for the convenience of my favourite reader FreshRSS: working around (for example) the lack of feeds in The Far Side (twice), in friends’ blogs, and in my URL shortener. Whether tracking my progress binging webcomic history, subscribing to YouTube channels, or filtering-out sports news, feeds are the centre of my digital life.
There’s been a bit of a resurgence lately of sites whose only subscription option is email, or – worse yet – who provide certain “exclusive” content only to email subscribers.
I don’t want to go giving an actual email address to every damn service, because:
- It’s not great for privacy, even when (as usual) I use a unique alias for each sender.
- It’s usually harder to unsubscribe than I’d like, and rarely consistent: you need to find a recent message, click a link, sometimes that’s enough or sometimes you need to uncheck a box or click a button, or sometimes you’ll get another email with something to click in it…
- I rarely want to be notified the very second a new issue is published; email is necessarily more “pushy” than I like a subscription to be.
- I don’t want to use my email Inbox to keep track of which articles I’ve read/am still going to read: that’s what a feed reader is for! (It also provides tagging, bookmarking, filtering, standardised and bulk unsubscribing tools, etc.)
So what do I do? Well…
I already operate an OpenTrashMail instance for one-shot throwaway email addresses (which I highly recommend). And OpenTrashMail provides a rich RSS feed. Sooo…
How I subscribe to newsletters (in my feed reader)
If I want to subscribe to your newsletter, here’s what I do:
- Put an email address (I usually just bash the keyboard to make a random one, then put @-a-domain-I-control on the end, where that domain is handled by OpenTrashMail) in to subscribe.
https://my-opentrashmail-server/rss/the-email-address-I-gave-you/rss.xmlinto my feed reader.
- That’s all. There is no step 3.
Now I get your newsletter alongside all my other subscriptions. If I want to unsubscribe I just tell my feed reader to stop polling the RSS feed (You don’t even get to find out that I’ve unsubscribed; you’re now just dropping emails into an unmonitored box, but of course I can resubscribe and pick up from where I left off if I ever want to).
Obviously this approach isn’t suitable for personalised content or sites for which your email address is used for authentication, because anybody who can guess the random email address can get the feed! But it’s ideal for those companies who’ll ocassionally provide vouchers in exchange for being able to send you other stuff to your Inbox, because you can simply pipe their content to your feed reader, then add a filter to drop anything that doesn’t contain the magic keyword: regular vouchers, none of the spam. Or for blogs that provide bonus content to email subscribers, you can get the bonus content in the same way as the regular content, right there in a folder of your reader. It’s pretty awesome.
If you don’t already have and wouldn’t benefit from running OpenTrashMail (or another trashmail system with feed support) it’s probably not worth setting one up just for this purpose. But otherwise, I can certainly recommend it.
Overview Year in Review 2022
In July, we received the first full-color images from NASA’s James Webb Telescope. This image, called the “Cosmic Cliffs,” shows a bright curtain of dust and gas at the edge of the Carina Nebula, approximately 8,500 light years from Earth. The James Webb Telescope has given us the deepest look into the cosmos to date, revealing previously invisible areas of star birth.
Follow along as we continue to recap key events from 2022 from the Overview perspective.
Source imagery: NASA
I sort of want this, which I understand to be nuts
From the website:
Time Since Launch is a single-use, long-scale launch clock.
Pull the pin to begin counting for 2,738 years.
Use this very long-scale timepiece to mark the beginning of your epoch.
It could begin when you get married, have a baby, quit smoking, launch a rocket, or on an ordinary Tuesday morning.
Your epoch is safeguarded within this unique timepiece designed and over-engineered to outlive you.
Suspended in a durable borosilicate glass tube and sealed with gasketed aluminum end-caps, two LCDs show days, hours, minutes, and seconds since launch.
This timepiece is built to count for 2,738 years.
Elevate an otherwise arbitrary moment to super awesome status.
What's your moment zero?
my fav ship dynamics
(context: this was up by far my most faved tweet I’ve ever gotten. Up to 120k)
Un-problemtic shipping discourse.
Focus on the black dot in the middle and wait. The second image has no color at all, the more you try to find it, the more it disappears.
*2frames gif. Seconds Per Frame.
“When considering whether to buy yet another book, you might well ask yourself when you’ll get around to reading it. But perhaps there are other, even more important considerations, such as the intellectual value of the book in its still-unread state.”
The Virtue of Owning Books You Haven’t Read: Why Umberto Eco Kept an “Antilibrary”
Now, if I only had a can opener.
watching a video about this cargo ship that blew up in texas in the 40’s and it’s like . i know that with a lot of incidents especially older ones like this the reason that the safety standards were so shitty was because they literally did not know that these kinds of disasters COULD happen (and in many cases these disasters are what MADE the safety standards better) but sometimes you just learn about this shit and you think. how could all these people be so stupid
- cargo of the ship consisted of twine (flammable) peanuts (flammable, oily) and cotton (FLAMMABLE) from houston and POST WAR AMMUNITION (OH MY GOD) FROM CUBA
- additional cargo they were picking up in texas city was LOOSE BAGS OF AMMONIUM NITRATE that the dock workers described as being ANOMALOUSLY WARM UPON BEING LOADED INTO THE SHIP ??????
- small fire breaks out in cargo hold, instead of putting it out with water that could damage the cargo the captain decides to close all the hatches to try to make the cargo hold airtight and smother the fire (stupid but you can kind of understand how they got there)
- the heat of the trapped smoke in the cargo hold instead causes the aforementioned LOOSE BAGS OF AMMONIUM NITRATE to undergo a chemical reaction and turn into nitrous oxide, massively increasing the pressure inside of the airtight hold
- one of the hatch covers fails
- mfw all the pressure in the cargo hold is released at once causing an explosion that fucking levels everything in the port within 2000 feet
- mfw the shockwave shatters windows up to a hundred miles away
- mfw on-fire twine and peanuts and fucking grenades are raining down over texas city
- mfw some of the pieces of the ship got launched into the sky faster than the speed of sound
- mfw they found the ship’s anchor inside of a ten foot wide crater over a mile and a half away
- mfw this was one of the largest and most devastating non-nuclear explosions in world history
- mfw this could have been avoided if they’d just taken the L and put the fire out with water
also worth a mention: the SECOND boat that exploded in a very similar manner the next day which was an even more violent explosion, but less devastating because most of the port was. you know. already leveled and evacuated
someone running rescue and recovery after the FIRST boat exploded noticed that the second boat’s cargo was on fire and reported it….and this just went. ignored. for several hours. until someone was like “oh shit better get this under control” and tried to move the boat to no avail and they just gave up and evacuated
next day it started raining glowing-hot metal boat chunks all over the city. AGAIN.
Today’s problematic ships are the Grandcamp (first explosion) and High Flyer (second explosion).
Late, but not too late!
The ghost duet is here, Halloween has officially begun :D
There was a government-run lottery in the Philippines with a $4 million jackpot, and two improbable things happened. First, the numbers selected were all multiples of nine: 9, 45, 36, 27, 18, and 54. Second, 433 people won. The natural reaction from the public was that something sketchy happened, especially since the government has a history of sketchiness.
However, as statisticians and mathematicians do when rare and improbable events occur, they setup hypotheses and calculate probabilities. Terence Tao calculated the odds and noted that the lottery outcome was a highly improbable event under certain assumptions. But:
So this clearly demands some sort of explanation. But in actuality, many purchasers of lottery tickets do not select their numbers completely randomly; they often have some “lucky” numbers (e.g., based on birthdays or other personally significant dates) that they prefer to use, or choose numbers according to a simple pattern rather than go to the trouble of trying to make them truly random.
Nine happens to be a lucky number in some cultures. Also, as Tao notes, the multiples of nine form a diagonal line on the physical lottery ticket, which could lend to more people just going with simple geometry.
The chances of each winning number being a multiple of nine is improbable, but any other individual number selection is equally improbable.
So if you assume one improbable event, the winning lottery numbers, paired with a less improbable event, the players’ selection of their own numbers, it doesn’t seem that unbelievable, statistically speaking.
The first full-color images from the James Webb Telescope were just released and we are in awe! This image shows a bright curtain of dust and gas at the edge of the Carina Nebula, approximately 8,500 light years from Earth. This view of the “Cosmic Cliffs” offers the deepest look into the cosmos to date, revealing previously invisible areas of star birth.
Source imagery: NASA
You’ve probably heard of the trolley problem, a thought experiment that imagines a trolley approaching a fork in the tracks. There are five people stuck on one path and one person stuck on the other. If the trolly continues on its current path, five people will die, but if you consciously switch the tracks, you could save them and only one person dies. Do you switch or let the trolley continue?
Neal Agarwal, who continues to gift the internet with fun projects, reframes the trolley problem with increasingly more absurd choices. You also get to see how others answered, so you can compare your own choices against the moral compass of the internet.
A recent cartoon for New Scientist.
This worked perfectly. Design!
This whole piece is heartbreaking
Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer, for NYT Opinion, approached the one-million mark for Covid deaths with text messages. The piece starts on February 29, 2020, when the first person died because of Covid. The count to 1 million begins, and a recurring ticker reminds you of the increase over time. Thirteen text message threads between someone who died and a person who cared remind you that the numbers are real.