Shared posts

27 Sep 09:08

Comic for 2022.09.26 - Police Car

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
27 Sep 09:04

Military Morality

by Corey Mohler

PERSON: "A philosopher? What is that? Some kind of explosives expert?"

PERSON: "No he well help us be better at-"

PERSON: "No it's-"

PERSON: "Also what is “moral”, some kind of bomb?"

PERSON: "Got it. Alpha, roger, send in the eagle."

PERSON: "Alright, job done, targets destroyed."

PERSON: "No, you don't get it, the point was to save as many lives as possible."

PERSON: "Save? no...i'm pretty sure you have that backwards."

PERSON: "Anyway, don't worry about ethics, we used Smart Bombs. They are connected to our database of known terrorists, and have facial recognition technology to instantly identify tragets."

PERSON: "So if the people aren't known terrorists the bomb doesn't explode?"
26 Sep 12:56

Fall’s first real cold front will push into Houston today, and it will stay around for awhile

by Eric Berger

My friends it has been a long—so very long —summer. We have seen record warmth in June and July, and plenty of high temperatures in the upper 90s during the last week. A total of 131 days have come and gone since Houston’s high temperature first hit 95 degrees this year, on May 18. Fortunately, I’m pretty confident that today is the last day of summer 2022.

Oh, we’re still going to see some 90-degree days. There will still be some humidity, of course. But our first real front pushes in today, bringing with it a nice surge of drier air tonight. By Tuesday morning it’s going to feel quite a bit different outside. No, the days won’t be chilly, but the nights will feel like fall. And the dry air is going to feel pretty amazing. Additionally, unlike a lot of early fall fronts, this one will have sticking power. The dry air should last into the weekend. So enjoy what’s coming, because you earned it.

Meanwhile, there’s likely to be a major hurricane coming to Florida this week. We’ll discuss that below as well.


There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that today is going to be hot again. Expect highs to generally reach the low-90s across the region, with sunny skies. Light winds will turn to come from the northeast later today as the front pushes into the area. We don’t expect much (if any) precipitation with this front, and the bulk of the dry air will lag its passage, moving in tonight. Low temperatures tonight should drop into the mid-60s in Houston, with cooler conditions inland.

A dewpoint analysis on Monday morning shows a cold front on Houston’s doorstep. (Weather Bell)


You’ll be able to feel the drier air when you step outside on Tuesday morning. The lower humidity, combined with sunny skies, should allow highs to push into the upper 80s to 90 degrees, but temperatures will start falling fairly quickly after the sun goes down. Look for overnight lows in the mid-60s again in Houston, with cooler weather further inland.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

If anything, the flow of drier air should become more pronounced during the second half of the week as Hurricane Ian moves into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This should allow for warm, sunny days in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s (inland) and lower 60s for Houston. Mornings and evenings will be spectacular, y’all.

Friday morning could be the coolest of the week for Houston. (Weather Bell)

Saturday, Sunday, and beyond

By Saturday or Sunday, the onshore flow will probably start to reestablish itself. But at this point I still think we’re going to see sunny days in the upper 80s with at least somewhat drier air. Nighttime temperatures will start to warm, but should remain in the 60s. Highs next week probably climb back to around 90 degrees. I know we could really use some rainfall, but there appears to be precious little of that in the cards for the next 10 days or so.

Hurricane Ian

Ian continues to organize this morning, and has become a hurricane. This is the Atlantic season’s fourth hurricane and confidence is high that it will cross Cuba tomorrow and move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. By Wednesday it should be approaching the Tampa area on the West coast of Florida, where it could bring historic wind and storm surge damage. However after Wednesday there is considerable uncertainty about whether Ian will plow into Tampa Bay, move more or less due north up the West coast of Florida, or remain 50 or 100 miles offshore while turning north for the Big Bend region of Florida.

Monday morning track forecast for Hurricane Ian. (NOAA)

I’ve been tracking the potential impacts on NASA’s Artemis I mission closely. The large Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, on the east coast of the state. At least minor impacts are likely, and Ian’s effects could become more direct. As of this morning, the probability of tropical storm force winds at the space center are 60 percent, with an 8 percent chance of hurricane-force winds. They could arrive as early as Wednesday. NASA officials are meeting at 11am CT today to decide whether to roll the Artemis I mission back inside the Vehicle Assembly Building to protect the vehicle.

26 Sep 12:47

Comic for 2022.09.25 - Sheriff

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
26 Sep 12:45

Lands of two wheels

by Scandinavia and the World
Lands of two wheels

Lands of two wheels

View Comic!

26 Sep 12:43

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - I, Candy


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

And yet somehow people who study economics seem to become less humble.

Today's News:


26 Sep 12:40

England Exits Somber Mourning Period To Resume Joyless Normalcy

LONDON—Following Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and her people’s farewell to their longest-serving monarch, sources confirmed Monday that England had begun exiting its somber mourning period in order to resume its regular joyless normalcy. When Elizabeth passed on Sept. 8, English citizens reportedly paused their…


26 Sep 12:39

Insomnia Experts Unanimously Recommend Giving Up And Scrolling ‘The Onion’ Until Daybreak

CHICAGO—Evaluating a number of available treatment options for chronic insomnia, sleep experts at Rush University released a report Monday touting a unanimous recommendation to just give up and scroll The Onion’s website until daybreak. “After extensively reviewing studies on the best ways to alleviate insomnia, or…


25 Sep 21:07

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Never


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

In fact, after some number theory, you'll think numbers are real and real life is a shadow!

Today's News:
24 Sep 12:34

Comic for 2022.09.24 - Problematic

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
24 Sep 12:33

Historical Dates

Evidence suggests the 1899 transactions occurred as part of a global event centered around a deity associated with the lotus flower.
24 Sep 12:24

The Daily Stream: Alicia Silverstone Delivered A Star-Turning Performance In The Sleazy, Erotic Thriller, The Crush

by BJ Colangelo

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "The Crush"

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu and Peacock

The Pitch: Two years before Alicia Silverstone would become teen queen royalty for her performance as Cher Horowitz in "Clueless," she made her feature film debut opposite Cary Elwes in the evocative "Lolita" thriller, "The Crush." 

The 1990s were a golden era for erotic thrillers, but few were willing to tackle the taboo nature of a sexually-forward teenage girl and a grown man who certainly knew better. Elwes plays a writer named Nick Eliot who moves to a new city for a magazine job, and rents the back house of Cliff (Kurtwood Smith) and Liv Forrester (Gwynyth Walsh), whose 14-year-old daughter, Adrian (Alicia Silverstone) becomes enamored with him. Nick stupidly kisses Adrian at a party, but upon realizing the error of his ways, attempts to set a boundary with her. Adrian, however, does not take kindly to his rejection, and her obsession only grows. Feeling rejected and angry that he's pursuing a woman his own age (Jennifer Rubin), Adrian begins to destroy Nick's property, ruin his friendships, and do whatever she can to try and get back in the good graces with the object of her affection.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Let's make one thing clear: Nick is in the wrong from the very beginning and the fact that "The Crush" tries to place the blame on a teenage girl is laughable and inexcusable. Writer and director Alan Shapiro wrote the film based on a situation from his own life, even going so far as to name the character "Darian," the real name of the woman he based the character off of. She successfully sued him for doing so, which is why the film was re-edited with the name Adrian. 

Truly bananas to think that just under 30 years ago, grown men were able to write films where they admit they were inappropriate with a 14-year-old and somehow make it out to be their fault. WILD! Adrian is clearly presented as mentally unstable, but this does not negate the fact that DUDE KISSED A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL. Anyway.

With this acknowledgment out of the way, it's hard to imagine a feature film debut from a teen actor with the ferocity and star power of Alicia Silverstone. The character of Adrian is essentially an All-American teen girl's take on Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," and Silverstone is an undeniable powerhouse. Nick tries to brush off Adrian's affections as nothing more than a schoolgirl crush, but Adrian shows her dangerous hand from the very beginning. 

Even without saying a word, Silverstone delivers a snarl or a raised eyebrow from behind a pair of sunglasses that screams, "I'm going to destroy you" with the volume of a bomb going off. The material is so intense and mature, and yet Silverstone wasn't even old enough to vote when she delivered one of the greatest villainous performances by a woman, ever.

A Cult Favorite Thriller

Due to its pulpy nature, "The Crush" was not received favorably by critics but has since developed a cult following. The film inspired a number of thriller and suspense movies throughout the 1990s and 2000s, but Silverstone's devilish performance remains unmatched. Adrian is presented as capital "E" Evil, and yet Silverstone is so undeniably charismatic you can't help but hope she tears Nick's life to pieces. 

In recent years, the subgenre of "Good For Her" horror films has grown in popularity, with characters like Jennifer Check in "Jennifer's Body," Grace in "Ready or Not," Dani in "Midsommar," and the titular "Pearl" turning into aspirational idols. Alicia Silverstone's Adrian deserves to be a member of this esteemed club, as she was already destroying the lives of men who deserved it decades ago. The "evil temptress" is a trope as old as cinema, but few have ever delivered quite like her.

We all know while watching "The Crush" that the story is exploitative and sleazy, but if you give yourself over to the absolute ridiculousness of the plot, you'll find yourself dazzled by sheer camp greatness. Elwes plays a pathetic worm with perfection as he tries to defend himself as something other than a dude who absolutely got seduced by a teenager, but is no match for the ruthlessness of Silverstone's unhinged femme fatale. "The Crush" is what happens when the trashy crime stories usually reserved for Lifetime movies (this is a compliment) are given a studio budget, and a cinematographer that frames Silverstone in as many close-ups as humanly possible, letting a facial acting artist craft a masterpiece.

Read this next: Horror Roles That Changed Actors Forever

The post The Daily Stream: Alicia Silverstone Delivered a Star-Turning Performance in the Sleazy, Erotic Thriller, The Crush appeared first on /Film.

23 Sep 20:54

Gov. Greg Abbott asked donors to help pay for busing migrants. The response isn’t covering the bills

by Stella Chavez, KERA
Total contributions to the so-called "Border Transportation Funding" fall well short of the more than $12 million price tag to transport migrants to other states.
23 Sep 20:53

Comic for 2022.09.23 - Gotta Go

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
23 Sep 19:27

Famous Chess Matches, If Some of the Players Were Cheating Using Vibrating Anal Beads, a Thing That Is Allegedly Happening in the Chess World and Is Not Something Random That I Made Up

by Alexandra Petri

“An American teenager’s victory against the world champion has sent chess into an uproar… Allegations of cheating—including wild speculation involving vibrating anal beads—have rocked chess to its core.” – The Guardian

- - -

The Queen’s Gambit

Beth Harmon walks into a chess tournament. It is the 1960s. She sits down opposite her opponent.

BETH: I can’t help but notice that there’s a long power cord coming out of your pants.

OPPONENT: (shrugs) No reason.

- - -


Before making his first move, Magneto hesitates, as though sensing something metal nearby.

MAGNETO: Is there anything you want to tell me, Charles?

PROFESSOR X: Absolutely nothing.

- - -

The Seventh Seal

DEATH: Hello, I am Death.

ANTONIUS BLOCK: Death! Let’s play chess.

DEATH: Excellent. You may live as long as the chess game continues. It will be a metaphor for a life well lived and the struggle of faith and despair.

ANTONIUS BLOCK: Great. Just, uh, hold on a second.


ANTONIUS BLOCK: I have to do something first. Something that will help my game.

DEATH: What?

ANTONIUS BLOCK: Don’t worry about it.

- - -

The Wire

D’ANGELO: If the pawn makes it all the way down to the other dude’s side, he gets to be queen.

BODIE: So if I make it to the other end, I win.

D’ANGELO: If you catch the other dude’s king and trap it, then you win. Unless.

BODIE: Unless?

D’ANGELO: Unless the other dude is cheating. Using vibrating anal beads.

- - -

From Russia with Love

Grandmaster Kronsteen and Macadams sit playing chess. A waiter brings water to both players. Suddenly, Kronsteen’s chair begins to vibrate aggressively. Water spills everywhere.

KRONSTEEN: I must go. SPECTRE calls.

- - -

Gary Kasparov vs. Deep Blue


DEEP BLUE: (moans audibly)

23 Sep 18:54

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Job


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

What do you want? Student loans and you are a man or student loans paid off and you are the bad end of a horse?

Today's News:
23 Sep 13:30

Our first full day of autumn will feel more like August

by Matt Lanza

Autumn. August. Both are basically the same, right? We hit 98 degrees officially in Houston yesterday, our hottest late September day since 2005. We have a shot at meeting or exceeding that level again today and maybe again on Monday before we can hopefully be done with this level of ridiculous heat.

Meanwhile, Invest 98L became Tropical Depression 9 in the Caribbean overnight. It should not impact Texas, but it will likely be an issue for Florida or the eastern Gulf. More on that below.


More of the same. Highs likely just shy of 100 with sunshine. Watch for poor air quality (high ozone), in addition to high levels of <ah choo!> ragweed.

Ragweed is a scourge, and it may be making your life miserable right now. Thursday’s pollen count from the City of Houston was unpleasant. Today’s will be similar. (City of Houston)


Temperatures may crawl back a couple degrees this weekend, but that’s because humidity levels may increase just a bit. All else equal, it will continue to feel more like summer than fall: Mid-90s by day, mid-70s by night. A shower can’t be entirely ruled out, especially Sunday, but you’d be lucky if you saw one.


This may be the trickiest day of the forecast. We are expecting a cold front to descend on southeast Texas on Monday. Air masses tend to be at their hottest immediately before a front passes through. In addition, this front will come with little moisture and minimal rain chances. With humidity likely falling through the day on Monday, we will have a much easier time heating up, assuming sunshine. I would not be shocked to see some places blow past 98 or 99 degrees Monday afternoon.

Monday’s forecast high temperatures remain in the mid-90s, but I would say there’s at least some chance for upper-90s again, especially south of I-10. (Pivotal Weather)

Current forecast highs are hot, but I think there’s some chance we end up beating some of these numbers.

Tuesday & beyond

The rest of next week looks nice by September standards in Houston. We should see low humidity, allowing nighttime lows to drop into the mid or lower 60s away from the Gulf and bays. Inland locations even have a shot at 50s!

In addition to the color table on the map above, Thursday morning’s actual forecast low temperatures are screaming pumpkin spice everything. (Pivotal Weather)

Daytimes will remain fairly hot, but not nearly to the levels we’ve seen lately and with much more tolerable humidity. In other words, the shade and a breeze should offer to provide sweet relief from heat. Look for upper-80s to 90 or so each day. Rain chances seem close to zero all of next week.


So now we’ll discuss the tropics. Again, we do not expect that Tropical Depression 9 will impact Houston or Texas at all. So what will it do?

This morning, TD9 is located just off the coast of Venezuela. It finally pushed away from land and more out into the water yesterday, which has allowed it to organize.

Tropical Depression 9 is organizing off the coast of Venezuela, though it is still experiencing the effects of wind shear, which will keep initial development slow. (

Granted, it doesn’t look great on the satellite image above. There is still a lot of wind shear in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, which is impacting TD9’s growth. It will initially be slow. As TD9 works west, it should emerge from that shear into a more stable environment, and that’s when we may see it intensify more rapidly.

TD9 is expected to work just north of west over the next couple days, but it will eventually likely feel the impacts of our cold front and resultant trough over the Eastern U.S. by early next week. This will allow the storm to turn northwest and eventually north and probably northeast as well in time. Thus, the track forecast for Nine shows it threatening Florida in time.

Tropical Depression 9 will develop into a tropical storm this weekend and probably turn north once it gets past Jamaica. Exactly where that turn occurs and how much land interaction is experienced by TD9 will help determine how strong it gets when it arrives near Florida. (NOAA)

Given the geography of Florida and the Caribbean and the turn expected from TD9, there are many, many questions on intensity and impacts. If the turn happens earlier than forecast, that could lead to more land interaction with Jamaica and Cuba’s eastern mountains, which could keep the system a bit disheveled and also allow it to track east of Florida. If the turn is slower, this could give TD9 more time over the Caribbean rocket fuel (mostly normal for this time of year), allow it to strengthen more, and produce less hostile land interaction. Thus it would be a bigger threat to the Florida Peninsula. If the turn is much slower than forecast, then odds increase for the Panhandle or Mississippi/Alabama coasts. All options are reasonable right now, but consensus favors something near the current NHC track.

Given the general interest in this system, as well as the potential impacts to the planned Artemis I launch in Florida next week, Eric and I will keep you updated on this storm through the weekend.

One last note. We’re obviously watching TD9 closely, but Fiona is still out there, and it is about to absolutely hammer Atlantic Canada. Much of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland are under hurricane warnings. Tropical storm conditions are even expected as far north as Labrador. This will likely be a generational storm for Nova Scotia. This area often experiences large storms, but this will be at another level and perhaps worse than Juan in 2003.

Fiona’s final chapter will include serious impacts on Atlantic Canada, where hurricane warnings are in effect. (NOAA)

Thoughts with our Canadian friends through a pretty trying event.

23 Sep 04:48

Montrose-area Starbucks becomes first Houston location to unionize

by Lucio Vasquez, Jack Williams
In an 11-3 vote, workers at the Starbucks on South Shepherd near West Alabama voted to form a union on Thursday.
22 Sep 23:13

Tropics update: Invest 98L reaches Caribbean Sea, but it’s difficult to see a path to Texas

by Eric Berger

Good afternoon, all. I just wanted to jump in with an update because we’re continuing to receive a lot of questions about the tropical system that’s forming in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. I’ll put the bottom line right up top: While there remains a lot of uncertainty about this tropical system and its eventual fate, in very few of those circumstances does the storm wind up directly impacting Texas. So while we need to be watchful, we certainly should not be worried. After all, we’re planning a Fall Day celebration on Sunday, October 2, and we feel good about that despite this tropical mischief.

A tropical system has moved into the Southeastern Caribbean Sea, but it remains disorganized as of Thursday afternoon. (NOAA)

As of this afternoon, despite being afflicted by wind shear in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, the area of investigation, or Invest 98L, is moving toward more favorable conditions. A tropical depression or storm is likely to form in the next day or two, and then by late Sunday or Monday it should reach the northern or northwestern Caribbean Sea. All well and good until then, but after that is when the uncertainty kicks in. This uncertainty should diminish during the next couple of days, with the formation of a center, and hurricane hunter data. So bear with us for a little while until the forecast comes into better focus.

Three scenarios

With that said we are starting to seem some trends and I think there are three major outcomes. The most likely scenario is that Invest 98L gets pulled to the north, into the eastern Gulf of Mexico or across the Florida peninsula during the Tuesday or Wednesday time frame of next week. It could be a fairly strong hurricane at this point, or interactions with Cuba could hamper its organization. The European model is fully on board with this idea:

The European model ensembles are sympatico with the first scenario, bringing a storm to the vicinity of Florida. (

If the storm misses this opportunity to turn northward, into a trough along the US East Coast, it could continue tracking northwest into the central Gulf of Mexico. At that point it probably would move northward, toward the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or the Florida Panhandle. This is probably the second-most likely scenario.

Finally, a third possibility is that the system remains fairly weak and continues tracking west, into the Yucatan Peninsula, across the Bay of Campeche, and into the Mexico mainland. In this scenario the storm would probably remain south of Texas.

The GFS model ensembles reflect the potential for other scenarios to unfold. (

There are some freak scenarios in which Invest 98L could find its way to Texas as a hurricane, but at this point they are unlikely, and again, probably not worth losing too much sleep about. Regardless, we’re going to remain on top of the situation and Matt will have a comprehensive update on 98L, and our forthcoming front, on Friday morning. I’m starting to get excited about the dry air on the way to Houston.

22 Sep 23:12

Comic for 2022.09.21 - Discovery

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
22 Sep 21:57

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Overhead


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

The most realistic part here is me forgetting to also give the children sweaters.

Today's News:
22 Sep 19:07

Where the Colorado River crisis is hitting home

by Kirk Siegler
Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the nation, has shrunk so low there

A reckoning has come for cities and farms in the desert Southwest that were built to rely on the Colorado River.

(Image credit: Kirk Siegler/NPR)

22 Sep 18:58

what does self-care look like at work?

by Ask a Manager

This post, what does self-care look like at work? , was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’ve been working through some significant program transitions and expansion as a manager at a basic needs nonprofit. The need, as you certainly know, continues to grow, and we’re feeling it exponentially. My boss asked me what my strategies for caring for myself at work were, and I realized that I don’t even really know what that entails!

I understand how to care for myself in my personal life, etc., but that kind of thing in a work setting doesn’t feel intuitive. I’m wondering if you might be able to talk more about what self-care and recuperation can look like in the office.

The big ones are boundaries and time off. It’s stuff like:

•  Disconnecting from work on a regular basis, and not checking email and messages once you leave for the night or over the weekend. If you have a job that requires you to do some of that, you should be very disciplined about not doing it whenever you don’t absolutely have to. When you have a job that requires long hours, it can be easy to get into the habit of checking/responding to email even when you don’t need to … but it’s hugely important to give yourself large chunks of time when you’re not thinking about work, even if you think you don’t mind. You should mind, because over time that cumulative “always on” feeling will take a toll.

•  Taking real time off, preferably in big blocks like a full week or a full two weeks and not just a day here and a day there. For a lot of people, it takes a few days to fully disconnect mentally, and then your vacation is over as soon as you’ve managed to do that. And make sure it’s clear you shouldn’t be contacted while you’re away.

•  When you have a full workload, being assertive about saying no to projects unless something else comes off your plate or gets pushed back.

•  Carving out time at work where you can just think. If every minute of your work day is allocated to specific tasks, you’re much less likely to come up with new ideas and better approaches, more likely to miss things like “project X isn’t paying the same same dividends it used to,” and more likely to feel drained and exhausted all the time. Ensure your weeks (or at least your months) contain some space to just think.

Beyond that, the answer depends on what you personally find valuable. It might be stuff like making time to take a walk outside every day, or ensuring you eat a healthy lunch away from your computer, or being more deliberate about recognizing your own progress and accomplishments. But very few of those smaller tactics will be enough if you don’t tackle the big ones above.

22 Sep 11:06


by (JerryMaguire)
22 Sep 01:25

Pilot Priority List

CELEBRATE: Serve passengers tiered cakes shaped like the airspace class diagram
22 Sep 00:20


by Holly

McDonaldland coverMcDonaldland Specification Manual
McDonald’s Corporation

Submitter: There are many wonderful gems in our vertical file collection that really make no sense on why we collected them. This is one of them. It’s a 1975 booklet on the McDonalds characters. I love this quote “Ronald McDonald is a CLOWN. The fact that he is a corporate spokesman should not overshadow his ‘clownness.’ He is all the good things that come to mind when thinking of clowns.” I see that this booklet has been digitized in a few places and they will allow us to let this one go.

Holly: Nostalgia at its finest! I had a birthday party at McDonalds when I was about eight. I was a cool kid for that one day. Best. Day. Ever. But yeah – why is this still in a library collection? And I’m genuinely curious – who still has a vertical file? We do, but it’s mostly local history.


Mayor McCheese

Ronald McDonald Dimensions




Character heights

Ronald McDonald is a Clown

The post McDonaldland appeared first on Awful Library Books.

22 Sep 00:18

New Hobby

by Reza
22 Sep 00:17

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Kant


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I had this joke idea about how Kantianism is nihilism because no maxims actually universalize, but apparently that's a centuries-old joke in philosophy.

Today's News:
21 Sep 22:03

Janet Jackson had the power to crash laptop computers, follow-up

by Raymond Chen

My colleague Dave Plummer checked with Kai, my source for the story of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation crashing certain old laptops. and tried to reproduce the problem. Kai pointed out privately to Dave and me that Dave used a full-sized hard drive for his test, but the laptops that experienced problems were using small form factor hard drives. This is significant because the extra mass not only changes the natural resonant frequency, but it also acts as a damper.

The traditional solution for mitigating resonant frequency problems is to change the mass of the device, say, by adding some ballast mass, thereby dampening the effect as well as shifting the frequency, hopefully to somewhere less likely to be encountered. However, since these were small form factor laptop hard drives, adding mass was not an attractive solution, because one of the main features of these hard drives was their small size and weight. Adding ballast would make them bigger (no longer fitting in the laptop chassis) and heavier (not what you want in a laptop).

Even if another solution could be found, say, by securing the drive in a different way to the chassis, that would require changes to the manufacturing process, and those changes tend to be very expensive. You have to design a new chassis and go through a new round of testing: Maybe the new chassis design mitigates the resonant frequency problem, but it now fails a vibration test, or the shift in weight causes it to fail balance tests, or moving components around causes the electronics to exceed safety limits,¹ or radio frequency interference now leaks in a way that causes it to exceed government regulations.

It is much less expensive to fix the problem in software.

Note that the software approach is a mitigation, not a solution. The hard drive could still crash if some nearby system were playing Rhythm Nation loud enough. But at least it prevented the system from crashing itself.

Adam Neely undertook a deeper analysis of the problem, both from a musical standpoint and a physics standpoint. What is musically unique about Rhythm Nation that singles it out as the source of the troublesome frequency? And what is physically significant about that frequency?

I encourage you to go check it out. If you’re impatient, there are spoilers after the bonus chatter.

Bonus chatter: Note that the disruption from the natural resonant frequency does not crash the hard drive, as a number of outlets erroneously reported. It merely disrupts the hard drive’s proper operation long enough for it to result in the operating system crashing. For example, if it causes a kernel page-in I/O operation to fail, that would be considered a fatal system error. The damage is probably not permanent. The sustained disruption was enough to cause a critical I/O to fail, but removing the audio source removes the disruption, and the drive recovers normal operation.

Bonus bonus chatter: Yes, I know which “major computer manufacturer” it is, and no, I’m not telling. This is consistent with longstanding blog policy that companies are not identified in stories, because the point of the story to teach something, not to call out companies for derision.

Bonus bonus bonus chatter: Other mysteries:


The Rhythm Nation music video is performed at a nonstandard tuning. Instead of using the standard A=440, it uses A=450, which shifts its notes into less-commonly-used frequencies.

Neely also found a paper that studied the natural resonant frequency of 2.5 inch laptop hard drives and matched it up with the frequency of a low E in the nonstandard tuning used by Rhythm Nation.

¹ An example of this was demonstrated live on stage at the //build 2011 conference: The rearranged components put the touch sensor too close to an HDMI processor chip that overheated under extended usage, which in turn caused the touch sensor to flip out and then eventually destroy the system.

The post Janet Jackson had the power to crash laptop computers, follow-up appeared first on The Old New Thing.

21 Sep 14:54

An Open Letter to Bluey’s Parents: Please Stop

by Kate Allen Fox

Mum. Dad.

Let me begin by saying I’m a fan. You are truly two of the finest method actors of your dog generation. Your commitment to playing Ground Is Lava? Divine. Your work in “Dance Mode”? Awe-inspiring. Your miming of heavy objects in “Featherwand”? Could bring Daniel Day-Lewis to tears.

But, please. I’m begging you. For the love of all that is good in this world (including the last few shreds of my sanity), please stop.

You see, my kids used to think I was a halfway decent parent. Sure, I might spend too much time on the internet. And I routinely recycle their crafts when they aren’t looking. But I was doing okay until you two came along with your delightful Australian accents and seemingly endless stores of free time and patience.

Now, I’m expected to dance on command—in public—whenever my child yells, “DANCE MODE!” Do you know the shame of being forced to dance to “Party in the USA” in the maxi pad aisle of a Kroger? Of course not. You lick your furry nether regions when the camera isn’t rolling. You don’t know shame.

As if the dancing weren’t enough, when my kids yell, “HEAVY!” I’m supposed to pantomime that whatever I’m holding is unbearably heavy. That works fine with a pen. It’s even manageable with a cup of hot coffee. When holding your best friend’s newborn? Well, you can only imagine the choices I’ve had to make.

Because, Mum and Dad (do you prefer Bandit and Chilli? We are all adults here), you’ve made opting out not an option. You’re never too busy to play. Never say no to an increasingly ridiculous game. In your seven-minute bursts of animated Masterpiece Theater, you’re almost always ever-patient, entirely present parents.

That works fine when your children are scripted into being semi-reasonable creatures. Call me when you’ve lived with a drunk-on-power toddler for nearly three pandemic years (roughly 2.7 billion cartoon-dog years).

If I say no, then I’m a monster—thanks to you. Does everyone in your country have the energy of a Tasmanian devil that just ate an entire sleeve of Tim Tams? I’ve seen The Wiggles in concert. You people are like human energy drinks.

So, I’m begging you on behalf of a beleaguered nation of exhausted parents. Stop.

Why not take a page from Daniel Tiger’s parents’ book? Sure, they’re basically perfect parents as well (and it must take a lot of time to rehearse all those songs), but they hardly play anything more than a simple game of blocks with Daniel. You think Daniel’s dad comes home from a long day at the clock shop and is willing to let Daniel boss him around with a magic xylophone? No way. Those parent set boundaries. Sure, your kids are a little more interesting than Daniel, but at least the Tigers get to put their paws up every once and a while.

So on behalf of tired parents everywhere: just stop. Or, to put it in terms you will understand, today’s episode of Bluey is called “Bugger Off.”