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May 26, 2024

What is the best response to an emailed threat of violence?

Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 9.55.51 AM

Above in the box, something I happened on the other day on some science-focused website.

My first thought was that it seemed strange that a science-focused site would have to deal with violent threats but then when I considered how evolution and its discontents can stir up all manner of powerful emotions, it didn't seem so unlikely.

My second thought was that the tactic cited in the box — to publicly post identifying information about the sender of threats aka doxxing — is quite the opposite of that I've always taken when I receive disturbing comments or email.

From where I'm walking on my treadmill, it seems to me that the short-term gratification to be derived from a sense of getting back at a hostile correspondent by publicly exposing the individual is not worth the chance of escalating written rage into something far more tangible and dangerous.

Far better to simply not reply.

As Dr. Maxwell Maltz, author of the now pretty much forgotten 1960s classic "Psycho-Cybernetics" wrote: "The best response is no response."

May 26, 2024 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The First Computer to Sing

Wrote Sue Schoenfeld:

I began working for Wisconsin Telephone Co. in 1970.

One of my first managers had worked on the computerized voice synthesis program at Bell Labs in the 1960s.

I was studying to be a speech therapist at the time so he figured I'd be interested: He told me that one of his projects was to figure out what place in the United States had the "least accent" (more correctly, "least dialect").

He conferred with experts and determined that Kansas was the place.

He hired a female speech therapist in Kansas to record the phonetic sounds of the English language.

These recordings were then fed into the program on the IBM computer and became the famous "Daisy" song.

He said that one of the most difficult parts of the project was to deal with the fact that the computer lisped.

The "s" sound was the most difficult to program.

He gave me a recording of one of the earlier versions of the song as a souvenir, and sure enough, it was "Daithy, Daithy...."

May 26, 2024 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Egg Cuber

Screenshot 2024-05-04 at 1.45.14 PM

[Rhik Samadder tests the Egg Cuber.]

From Rhik Samadder's Guardian article:

The Egg Cuber is a compressible, right-angled enclosure in which eggs may be compacted into cube shape.

So they fit better in sandwiches? I don't know. Look, either the idea of a square egg excites you or it doesn't. Like art or Disneyland, there is no practical reason for it.

"Consider God's handiwork: who can make straight, what He hath made crooked?" These words, from Ecclesiastes, pose a pertinent question. With this week's abomination, the answer is: anyone. "Put a round egg in... and get a square egg out!" boasts the box. Geometrically, this is wrong on both counts because we're talking about ovoids and cubes, but there's no point being pedantegg.

A peeled, warm hard-boiled egg is a surprisingly malleable thing. Simply pop one in the plastic cage, place the pressing plate above it and turn the screw top to completion. The whole thing feels like a medieval torture device to terrify hens. The egg is squashed down, refrigerated for an hour to set the flesh, and lo! emerges tamed. Proud ovoid transmogrified to small, clammy cube.

Screenshot 2024-05-04 at 1.42.53 PM

[The cubed egg emerges.]

I can report that it works. It is harder to explain why you would want to do it in the first place. The packaging reminds us that square eggs are "more stable on the table" and "less common than round", so at least they have a sense of humour.

Perhaps the appeal is in the very unnaturalness? God does not want you to eat an equilateral egg, which makes it a forbidden fruit, and there is nothing sweeter. But the creamy, die-shaped monstrosity in my hand isn't sweeter. It just tastes like an egg in a form that, had you eaten it a few hundred years ago, would have had you drowned as a witch.

It is as much use as a coffee table for a puffin. Also, the portmanteau of square eggs is squeggs, and does that sound like something you should be eating? Consign Egg Cuber and its freakish progeny to hell.

Redeeming Features?

Cheap, easy to wash, will probably win you some points with children. The chunky, see-through orange casing looks very much like a roadwork lamp, in case you are keen to recreate the "stolen traffic equipment" decor of your student days.

Counter, Drawer, Back of the Cupboard?

Back of the cupboard. Where it actually fits very nicely, right in the corner.


[Square egg sandwiches.]


N.B. They have retired the orange colorway featured above in favor of clear plastic.

Just so you don't get your baggies in a twist when yours arrives and it's not identical to the one in the Guardian review.

May 26, 2024 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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