Kasou Taishou

We spent this morning looking at YouTube videos of Kasou Taishou. These are short skits that re-create special effects using charmingly amateur stage effects. Think of it as a mashup between traditional Japanese kabuki stage-craft and a high school play.

Add a twist of self-depreciating humor and you’ve got a winner.

My Web 2.0 Laptop

When I worked at Yahoo it was at the height of a cultural trend called Web 2.0. The fashion was to put stickers of various startups all over the front of your laptop so people could see how hip you were. I was running into many interesting people so I took a different approach and asked them to sign my laptop with a sharpie instead.

When the laptop started to give out, before handing it back Yahoo IT and took a snapshot for posterity.

Here are some of the names. Click on the photo above to go to the Flickr page that has them tagged.

Rafat Ali
Stowe Boyd
Nick Denton
Caterina Fake
David Filo
David Jacobs
Bradley Horowitz
Guy Kawasaki
Ross Mayfield
Richard MacManus
Dave McClure
Matt Mullenweg
Ray Ozzie
Greg Reinacker
Doc Searls
Deborah Schultz
Kathy Sierra
Bruce Sterling
Chris Tolles
David Weinberger
Dave Winer
Niklas Zennström

The week that was (1-26-2108)

To keep jubilant Philadelphia Eagles fans from climbing lamp posts after the NFC Championship game, city workers lathered them down with Crisco grease. Despite their efforts, Eagles fans drove up the Rocky Steps with their dune buggy and animated traffic cones instead.

Minnesota Viking fans, bitter at their loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia and having to host Philly fans in Minnesota, are apparently plotting to sign up as temporary Uber drivers so they can drop them off “in the boonies.”

New Orleans recently cleared out its clogged drainage system of 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads.

A Florida man was arrested for driving under the influence after pulling up to a drive-thru bank window at and trying to order a burrito.

A flying drone dropped a flotation device to two teens caught in a riptide in heavy seas off the Australian coast in what officials describe as a world-first rescue-by-drone.

Japanese engineers have been testing a new device for trains that has reduced the number of “deer-train collisions” by 40%. The contraption makes the trains bark like a dog.

New York City placed a $4 billion order with Japanese company Kawasaki for over 1,000 new subway cars. The deal was a blow to Canadian Bombardier which was hired to build the city’s last fleet of new cars, but delivered them two years behind schedule.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai have successfully cloned a monkey.

A driver of a Tesla stopped in the middle of rush hour traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge was sternly reminded by California Highway Patrol that a self-driving is not the same as autopilot. Later in the week, another Tesla reportedly on “Autopilot” slammed into the back of a fire truck in the breakdown lane.

A German politician from an anti-Islam party resigned and converted to Islam.

Ralph Lauren unveiled the US Winter Olympic uniforms. They are embedded with electric heating elements in the shape of an American flag.

China announced that Hip-Hop culture and tattoos are now banned from television.

Residents in Alabama held a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of a Taco Bell.

Japanese food scientists figured out how to make soft-serve ice cream that can be set on fire.

French supermarket chain Intermarché discounted the hazelnut spread Nutella 70% – riots broke out.

A dozen camels were disqualified from this year’s Saudi “camel beauty contest” because their handlers used Botox to make them more handsome.

The White House inquired with the Guggenheim about borrowing a Van Gogh for President and Melania Trump’s private living quarters. The Guggenheim’s chief curator was apologetic. The painting was “prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions” and suggested Maurizio Cattelan’s Golden Toilet which was available.

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Humanity Star

Rocket Labs, a spaceflight startup based in Los Angeles, secretly stowed away a “disco ball” satellite that has no other purpose than, “to encourage everyone to look up and consider our place in the universe.”

The satellite is a “geodesic sphere made from carbon fibre with 65 highly reflective panels. It spins rapidly, reflecting the sun’s rays back to Earth, creating a flashing light that can be seen against a backdrop of stars.” The company has put up the Humanity Star website where you can track the satellite’s progress across the sky and plan the best time to see it. The satellite will orbit the earth every 90 minutes for the next nine months until it falls out of orbit and burns up in the atmosphere.

Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck shared the following statement.

For millennia, humans have focused on their terrestrial lives and issues. Seldom do we as a species stop, look to the stars and realize our position in the universe as an achingly tiny speck of dust in the grandness of it all.

Humanity is finite, and we won’t be here forever. Yet in the face of this almost inconceivable insignificance, humanity is capable of great and kind things when we recognize we are one species, responsible for the care of each other, and our planet, together. The Humanity Star is to remind us of this.

No matter where you are in the world, rich or in poverty, in conflict or at peace, everyone will be able to see the bright, blinking Humanity Star orbiting Earth in the night sky. My hope is that everyone looking up at the Humanity Star will look past it to the expanse of the universe, feel a connection to our place in it and think a little differently about their lives, actions and what is important.

Wait for when the Humanity Star is overhead and take your loved ones outside to look up and reflect. You may just feel a connection to the more than seven billion other people on this planet we share this ride with.

My brother-in-law says the Humanity Star is, “burning man thing in space news this week” but professional astronomers call it a pain in the ass.

One thing is certain. This may be the first example of Space Advertising.

Two Headlines

She Loves Me?

Trump Says He Is Willing to Speak Under Oath to Mueller

“I would love to do that — I’d like to do it as soon as possible,” the president told reporters on Wednesday of the prospect of being interviewed by Mr. Mueller

She Loves Me Not.

Trump lawyer clarifies president wasn’t volunteering for Mueller grand jury

Cobb told The New York Times that Trump was speaking hurriedly, and only meant that he is willing to meet with the special counsel, not that he will speak in front of a grand jury.

Alameda and the Tsunami

A large earthquake off the coast of Alaska last night set off tsunami warnings (that were later cancelled) up and down the West Coast of the United States. Residents on Alameda, the island in the San Francisco Bay where I live, were all curious why we never got any warning waking us out of our beds. The answer was that there never was enough of a threat but I was curious enough to do a little research and found that others had asked in the past so I’d thought I’d summarize and post what I found for future reference.

As you can see in the simulation of a 16 foot tsunami in the video above, most of the energy of the of the wave is absorbed by the Pacific coastline and dissipates as it tries to squeeze through the Golden Gate. A more detailed video can be found here.

By the time the wave reaches Alameda, most of the energy is gone but there is still some danger from flooding. California has posted a full set of Tsunami Inundation Maps that are a useful resource. I pulled together the relevant section for Alameda.

Alameda Tsunami Inundation Map (2009)

Luckily, there’s a lengthy study published in 2016 on tsunami evacuations that used Alameda as case study.  The study looks at three types of tsunami events with the most severe being one in which the waters would cover the island as in the illustration above. While the advance does cover much of the island, the study concludes,

One mitigating factor is that potential sources associated with a Zone 3 evacuation are likely distant earthquakes only and expected tsunami arrival times of 4 h or more should provide sufficient time to implement a successful evacuation before wave arrival.

This has to do with the geologic faults that are off the coast of California. Back again to the Bay Curious post linked at the top.

Tsunamis are caused when one tectonic plate slides underneath another — a process called subduction. This slow movement is happening all the time, but sometimes a plate will get stuck and pressure starts to build. When it finally lets go, there’s an underwater earthquake that can move the seafloor up and down, sending a wave to the surface of the ocean.

But the San Andreas Fault is different. It’s called a slip-strike fault because the two plates slide past each other horizontally. Of course, whenever plates move, the ground shakes. But here, there is no subduction and little displaced ocean.

Meaning no killer tsunamis. Even San Francisco’s infamous 1906 earthquake generated only a 4-inch wave at the Presidio gauge station.

So there you have it. If you get a tsunami warning that is something to worry about, you’ll have a couple of hours to make your way to Park Street or the Alameda Theatre parking structure where you can get a view and watch the wave come in.

References:
Intra-community implications of implementing multiple tsunami-evacuation zones in Alameda, California

City of Alameda Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (pdf)

What Would Really Happen if a Tsunami Hit the Bay Area?

UPDATE:

Wired put out a story on March 7th about a new study that used LIDAR to conclude that some areas of the SF Bay are sinking. Alameda main island seems ok but areas of Harbor Bay are in danger.

Global climate change and local land subsidence exacerbate inundation risk to the San Francisco Bay Area

The week that was (1-19-2018)

A “drunk gentleman in Russia” stole an armored personnel carrier and rammed it into a liquor shop to steal a bottle of wine.

A White House conference call with 60+ reporters devolved into chaos while the operator tried to figure out how to put everyone into listen-only mode. “I think if everyone had half a brain and common sense and muted their phones, this wouldn’t be a problem,” yelled one White House official. h/t to @toddbarnard for a link to a recording.

Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on movie theaters. Citizens were most likely unimpressed with the initial offerings, The Emoji Movie followed by Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Miners in southern African country of Lesotho unearthed one of the largest diamonds ever found. The 910-carat is a D color, Type IIa diamond and expected to fetch tens of millions.

Japan’s national TV station, NHK, mistakenly sent an alert informing alarmed users of its app that North Korea had launched a missile.

Further South, in city of Gamagori, panicked officials pleaded over the city-wide emergency alert loudspeaker (normally reserved for tsunami alerts) not to eat fugu. It was discovered that a local supermarket sold five packets of the deadly blowfish with the toxic liver still intact. “Three packages will be retrieved today, but we still don’t know where the remaining two are.”

For the first time an artificial intelligence outscored humans in a reading comprehension test.

A Russian businessman purchased two electrical power plants that he plans to use exclusively to power his bitcoin mining operation.

The United Kingdom appointed a minister for loneliness.

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The week that was (1-12-2018)

The world’s longest glass-bottom bridge opened in Hongyagu, China.

Following up on the 911 story from Florida last week we have another Florida incident where a drunk man called 911 to report a drunk driver – himself.

Auto burglaries are up dramatically in San Francisco. This week, Marissa Castelli, a figure skater headed to next month’s 2018 Winter Olympics, had her car broken into during a visit here for the US Championships and lost two custom made costumes and her skates.

Thieves in France made off with 700 blocks of Saint-Nectaire cheese.

In Washington DC, a man broke into a Chipotle and ate $60 worth of barbacoa.

A California man tried to kill a large spider with his lighter. The flaming spider ran under his bedroom mattress which caught fire and set ablaze his drapes and the rest of the apartment.

Northern Australian scientists have confirmed that birds are spreading wildfires by, “deliberately carrying burning sticks and embers to set alight other bits of grassland” to flush out their prey.

Scientists have confirmed that the ozone hole is getting smaller.

A woman expecting to fly back with her family from Italy to San Jose, California was dismayed to learn from the person sitting next to her that her separately booked flight was instead headed to San Jose, Costa Rica.

As legalized marijuana grows in popularity, instances of pets stoned on edibles left on the ground are on the rise. In other news, dogs that sniff out pot for the police are now out of work.

Remember that elderly California couple busted in Nebraska on their way to Vermont with 60 Lbs of weed in the back of their truck? They got busted again, in Nebraska.

Sales of another Fire & Fury book are up. “I haven’t seen this level of interest since the book first came out,” said Randall Hansen, author Fire and Fury, the allied bombing of Germany.

There was not much to see at the Consumer Electronics Show when the power went out for two hours.

Artist Daniel Jacob created a $6500 pair of Air Jordan 1s encrusted with thousands of gold crystals.

Police looking for a bank theft suspect arrested said suspect when he applied for a job, with the police.

In Key Biscayne, the local iguanas were falling out of trees, groggy from the unusually cold temperatures. One man gathered them up and loaded them in the back of his car (BBQ iguana being a delicacy in his home country). When the iguanas thawed out during the ride they caused a commotion in the back seat and caused an accident.

A musician who uploaded a 10-hour long video of white noise to YouTube has been served 5 separate copyright violations.

The company that makes the frozen snack Dippin Dots is sharing their expertise and expanding into the cryogenics industry.

A Russian base in Syria was the victim of the first ever drone swarm attack.

The US military announced that it’s making laser-powered bat drones.

The China space program announced that it will attempt to grow potatoes on the dark side of the moon.

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The Week that Was (1-5-2018)

In San Francisco, people are paying $36.99 for something called “raw water”

Philip Morris announced that it’s getting out of the cigarette business.

A Delta flight out of Detroit was forced to turn around after a bird tried to hitch a ride to Atlanta and refused to leave the cockpit. An Alaska Airlines flight out of Oakland was cancelled because of a loose rat. Finally, a Delta flight from Atlanta to London had to turn around after taking off, twice.

A man’s car brakes failed and would not shift gears because it was stuffed chock full of acorns.

A mosque in Arkansas  raised money to pay off fines to keep the man who vandalized them out of jail. If the story sounds familiar, both the mosque and vandal were featured in a powerful podcast segment by The Daily.

While searching for a cure for diabetes, researches accidentally found a potential cure for Alzheimer’s.

A Jeopardy player was docked $3200 because he pronounced gangsta as gangster.

Theunis Botha, a professional big game hunter was killed when the female elephant he wounded was killed by another hunter and fell onto Mr. Botha, crushing him.

A Florida woman arrested for misuse of the 911 system called 911 again, from the back of a police car.

Two people died in Japan after choking on mochi rice cakes, a traditional snack during the New Year holiday. This is the same death toll as last year but down from nine who expired in 2015.

In other news, Steve Bannon called the president’s son “treasonous.” President Trump said his former top adviser has “lost his mind.” Paul Manafort is suing Bob Mueller and Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home in Chappaqua caught fire.

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