February 19, 2017 in 4,869 words

If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right

The free-spirited world of freeride competitions


There’s a saying that, “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.” Perhaps bordering on cliché, it actually seems to be a fair assessment of the current state of affairs when it comes to big-mountain ski and snowboarding competitions.

These events, also called “freeriding” competitions, harken back to the early days of freestyle skiing — the mogul, big air and ballet disciplines of the 1970s — when the after-the-event parties were half the reason to compete and the larger community of athletes, fans and event organizers were known for not taking things too seriously.

While the party and community-oriented atmosphere remains a big part of why Boulder athletes travel to freeriding events in places like Crested Butte and Taos, there’s also a very serious side to these competitions. And yet they’ve managed to retain a unique level of accessibility for athletes and fans, something that the original freestyle movement lost after it was mainstreamed by the Olympics and other high-profile events.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: February 19th- Donner Party rescued

On this day in 1847, the first rescuers reach surviving members of the Donner Party, a group of California-bound emigrants stranded by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

In the summer of 1846, in the midst of a Western-bound fever sweeping the United States, 89 people–including 31 members of the Donner and Reed families–set out in a wagon train from Springfield, Illinois. After arriving at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, the emigrants decided to avoid the usual route and try a new trail recently blazed by California promoter Lansford Hastings, the so-called “Hastings Cutoff.” After electing George Donner as their captain, the party departed Fort Bridger in mid-July. The shortcut was nothing of the sort: It set the Donner Party back nearly three weeks and cost them much-needed supplies. After suffering great hardships in the Wasatch Mountains, the Great Salt Lake Desert and along the Humboldt River, they finally reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains in early October. Despite the lateness of the season, the emigrants continued to press on, and on October 28 they camped at Truckee Lake, located in the high mountains 21 kilometers northwest of Lake Tahoe. Overnight, an early winter storm blanketed the ground with snow, blocking the mountain pass and trapping the Donner Party.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: February 19, 1942- Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066


Ten weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country. For the next two and a half years, many of these Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment by their military guards.

On this Remembrance Day, I hear terrible echoes of the past


George Takei

I was just a child of 5 when soldiers marched up our driveway in a Los Angeles residential neighborhood, bayonets in hand, and pounded on our front door, ordering us out. We were permitted only what we could carry, no bedding, no pets.

I remember my mother’s tears as she and our father gathered us up, with our precious few belongings in hand. She was determined to bring a sewing machine, fearful that we would need to make or mend clothes where we were headed. She wasn’t sure the authorities would allow her to take that Singer machine, so she kept it a secret, even from us. She managed, however, to pack a few treats for us children for the long journey ahead.

That was in 1942. Earlier that year, on February 19, 75 years ago this Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order, No. 9066, which set the internment into motion. On its face, the order was “neutral,” authorizing the military to designate whole swaths of land as military zones, and evacuate any persons from it as they saw fit.
But behind that facade lay a much darker purpose: to tear 120,000 innocent Japanese-Americans from their homes along the West Coast and relocate them to 10 prison camps scattered throughout the United States.

Memos signed by DHS secretary describe sweeping new guidelines for deporting illegal immigrants

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly has signed sweeping new guidelines that empower federal authorities to more aggressively detain and deport illegal immigrants inside the United States and at the border.

In a pair of memos, Kelly offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.

The new directives would supersede nearly all of those issued under previous administrations, Kelly said, including measures from President Barack Obama aimed at focusing deportations exclusively on hardened criminals and those with terrorist ties.

“The surge of immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” Kelly stated in the guidelines.

He cited a surge of 10,000 to 15,000 additional apprehensions per month at the southern U.S. border between 2015 and 2016.

Read the memos signed by DHS Secretary Kelly on new guidelines for deporting illegal immigrants


In a pair of memos, John F. Kelly Sworn offered more detail on plans for the agency to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants who are prioritized for removal, speed up deportation hearings and enlist local law enforcement to help make arrests.

10 Insane But Brilliant Ways Ancient China Fought Its Wars

The Chinese made war into an art form. Thousands of years ago, they wrote strategy guides that are still referenced today. They were incredibly inventive and brought the art of deception into warfare in ways that other countries would never have imagined.

Chinese battle tactics were inventive, bizarre, and often downright brilliant. Their military history is full of some of the strangest ideas you’ll ever hear—and ideas you won’t believe really worked.

10. The Dancing Girls

In 623, when he saw the Tuyuhun hordes storming down the hills to raid the Tang Empire, General Chai Shao knew he was in trouble. He was outnumbered, overpowered, and had the weaker ground. In a fair fight, he knew, he wouldn’t have much of a chance—and so he didn’t fight fair.

Instead of sending soldiers to meet the invading army, he sent out two beautiful women and a few pipa players. They walked onto the battlefield in front of the invading army and started doing a sexy dance.

The Tuyuhun were confused—and probably a little lonely. They stopped charging and watched the girls dance, trying to figure what in the hell was going on and where in the world the Tang army had gone.

A Brief History of America’s ‘Love-Hate Relationship’ With Immigration

Donald Trump’s restrictive plan is reminiscent of legislation from 100 years ago.


mmigrants at Ellis Island pictured sometime between 1907 and 1921

Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration—banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and casting a wide net on undocumented immigrants—have prompted nationwide protests and, in the case of the ban, legal challenges. But while Trump’s immigration plan is more restrictive than those of recent presidents, historians see parallels between the current moment and the early 20th century, when Congress passed multiple laws designed to shrink the number of immigrants in the United States.

In 1917, lawmakers enacted legislation that required a literacy test for immigrants over 16 years old to enter the United States and banned those from what was called the Asiatic Barred Zone. That act paved the way for a 1924 immigration law, known as the Johnson-Reed Act, that imposed a quota system based on national origin. “The fundamental principle was the principle of exclusion,” said Alan Kraut, a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C. “And the target of exclusion was intended to be the poor workers who were trying to escape their own society for economic opportunity.” Years later, following calls to reform U.S. immigration policy, a 1965 law ended the quota system, prioritized close relatives of immigrants already in the United States, and ultimately altered the country’s demographic makeup, by further opening it up to immigrants of other nations.

Over the last 100 years, new restrictions on immigration have been sold as beneficial to national security and the U.S. economy. Trump himself has used those arguments in promoting his agenda. So, too, have lawmakers on Capitol Hill who recently introduced legislation to limit legal immigration.

Chaos in the White House: ‘There’s never been anything like this’

After the fastest, most furious week yet for the Trump administration, America’s elder statesmen say they have never seen such turmoil or ineptitude

When press officers at the White House glance up from their desks, they are constantly reminded of their boss’s big day. On the wall, in thick dark frames, are photos: Donald Trump taking the oath of office, giving a thumbs up at his inaugural address, bidding farewell to Barack Obama, waving to the crowd during his inaugural parade, dancing with his wife at an inaugural ball.

Walking by last Monday, Trump gestured towards an image of his inauguration crowd – a point that still irks him – and told reporters there would soon be an official statement about the future of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Trouble was, an hour earlier, adviser Kellyanne Conway had appeared on television declaring that the president had “full confidence” in Flynn. Soon after, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer read a statement that said “the president is evaluating the situation”. Six hours later, Flynn was gone.

It was the fastest, most furious week yet for an administration that, like a runaway train, has Washington and America’s elder statesmen shaking their heads, declaring that they have never seen such turmoil or ineptitude.

20 Incredible And Thought-Provoking World War II Photos

As has been said time and time again, it is of the utmost importance that we look to the past to ensure that we learn from our mistakes, to ensure that our future is better than our history, and to ensure that the most horrific and evil elements of history do not repeat themselves. These humbling photos of bravery, terror, and resilience during World War II will hopefully stand as a sobering and timeless reminder of what humanity is capable of.

10. Prisoners As Targets

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, several international laws prohibiting the mistreatment of prisoners of war (POWs) already existed. However, these laws were frequently either “bent” or completely ignored as the war raged on. Here, Sikh prisoners await an untimely death at the hands of their Japanese captors. Although all participating nations broke the rules to some extent when it came to POW treatment, most historians agree that the Japanese were the worst offenders.

Liberal voters warn Democratic officials: resist Trump or be replaced

Activists are pressuring lawmakers to ‘fight Trump or we’ll find someone who will’, but they must also worry about those facing elections in states Trump won

On the evening Donald Trump announced his supreme court nominee, thousands of protesters gathered outside of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment. They chanted “Just vote no” and “Obstruct” while carrying signs – “Get a spine, Chuck” – and a prop skeleton to illustrate their point.

The protesters are part of a sudden swell of liberal activism that has drawn millions to city streets and airport concourses across the US, in a startling show of resistance to Trump’s presidency. Emboldened by this groundswell, some progressives have started using the word “primary” as a verb – and as a threat.

For Democrats in Washington, many of whom are still surprised by the scale and furiousness of backlash, the challenge is how to convert this energy into electoral success.

Schumer has significantly slowed the pace of Trump’s cabinet confirmations and excoriated many of the president’s nominees. But the activists outside Schumer’s home on that January night were unimpressed by his votes in favor of Trump’s nominees to represent the US in the UN and to lead the Pentagon, CIA and Department of Homeland Security.

The Screwed Generation Turns Socialist

The Depression and WWII shaped the greatest generation, and postwar prosperity shaped the Baby Boomers. Millennials, battered by capitalism, move ever leftward.

Increasingly American politics are driven by generational change. The election of Donald Trump was not just a triumph of whiter, heartland America. It also confirmed the still considerable voting power of the older generation. Yet over time, as those of us who have lived long enough well know, generations decline, and die off, and new ones ascend.

In this past election, those over 45 strongly favored Trump, while those younger than that cast their ballots for Clinton. Trump’s improbable victory, and the more significant GOP sweep across the country, demonstrated that the much-ballyhooed millennials simply are not yet sufficiently numerous or united enough to overcome the votes of the older generations.

Yet over time, the millennials—arguably the most progressive generation since the ’30s—could drive our politics not only leftward, but towards an increasingly socialist reality, overturning many of the very things that long have defined American life. This could presage a war of generations over everything from social mores to economics and could well define our politics for the next decade.

BANANAS ARE NATURALLY RADIOACTIVE

Today I found out bananas are naturally radioactive. This comes from the fact that they contain relatively high amounts of potassium. Specifically, they contain Potassium-40, which is a radioactive isotope of potassium.

The fact that bananas are radioactive has actually given rise to the radiation unit: “banana equivalent dose” (BED); this is the average amount of radiation you are exposed to by eating one banana. The banana equivalent dose is occasionally used to help conceptualize the relative danger of various radiation sources and amounts; for instance, the amount of radiation typically leaked by a modern nuclear fission reactor. This leaked radiation is typically extremely small, typically in the realm of a picocurie, which is a millionth of a millionth of a curie. This latter measurement doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to most people, thus the banana equivalent dose was introduced to give an easy way to understand whether X amount of radiation is harmful or not, given that you know bananas aren’t harmful. For instance, living within 10 miles of a typical nuclear power plant will expose you on a daily basis to just a bit more radiation than you’d get from eating one banana a day.

This DARPA Video Targeting AI Hype Is Necessary Viewing

“That’s not a panda.”

Artificial intelligence is grossly misunderstood, but you can’t really blame the public. However well-intentioned, we’re up against multiple coordinated efforts to distort the field, whether that’s technologist doomsaying or Singularity marketing. And, as is often the case in overhyped and-or distorted science, there aren’t really people on the inside doing the work of bullshit-calling.

DARPAtv published the video below a few days ago and it’s worth your 15 minutes. It’s a rare clear-eyed look into the guts of AI that’s also simple enough for most non-technical folks to follow. It’s dry, but IRL computer science is pretty dry. The key point is that that this stuff is still really hard, and many of the things that we imagine AI to be capable of or imminently capable of are in fact looming challenges in the field—problems just now being formulated.

How AI is helping detect fraud and fight criminals

AI is about to go mainstream. It will show up in the connected home, in your car, and everywhere else. While it’s not as glamorous as the sentient beings that turn on us in futuristic theme parks, the use of AI in fraud detection holds major promise. Keeping fraud at bay is an ever-evolving battle in which both sides, good and bad, are adapting as quickly as possible to determine how to best use AI to their advantage.

There are currently three major ways that AI is used to fight fraud, and they correspond to how AI has developed as a field. These are:

  1. Rules and reputation lists
  2. Supervised machine learning
  3. Unsupervised machine learning

Rules and reputation lists

Rules and reputation lists exist in many modern organizations today to help fight fraud and are akin to “expert systems,” which were first introduced to the AI field in the 1970s. Expert systems are computer programs combined with rules from domain experts.They’re easy to get up and running and are human-understandable, but they’re also limited by their rigidity and high manual effort.

A “rule” is a human-encoded logical statement that is used to detect fraudulent accounts and behavior. For example, an institution may put in place a rule that states, “If the account is purchasing an item costing more than $1000, is located in Nigeria, and signed up less than 24 hours ago, block the transaction.”

Reputation lists, similarly, are based on what you already know is bad. A reputation list is a list of specific IPs, device types, and other single characteristics and their corresponding reputation score. Then, if an account is coming from an IP on the bad reputation list, you block them.

4 Famous People Who Did Secretly Awesome Shit

Never look into a celebrity’s past: the reality of their lives is just a letdown, more often than not. Bruce Willis is in a dad band, Steven Seagal is basically a sentient hot dog, and this is probably just a rumor, but we heard Jason Momoa isn’t actually a barbarian. Oh but sometimes — just sometimes — when you look behind the sparkly curtain, you find that the legends were, if anything, underplayed.

#4. Evel Knievel Was A Burglar, Conman, And Poacher


Before Captain America, Robert “Evel” Knievel was the guy we went to for crazy shenanigans while dressed like a flag. During his career as a professional stunt performer, Knievel attempted 75 bike jumps over buses, canyons, pits full of rattlesnakes, and literal shark tanks.

Evel Knievel — the only person we WANTED to jump the shark.

Where did he get the balls to do it? He probably stole them.

Before making it as a stuntman, Knievel was a career criminal. Among other things, he was responsible for a massive, interstate burglary spree across Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. After scaling their walls, Knievel would cut a hole in the roof of his target establishment, lower himself down on a rope Mission Impossible-style, and then rob them blind.

Then after a brief, failed stint as a poacher/illegal hunting guide in Yellowstone Park, Knievel switched sides and successfully lobbied the U.S. government to allow people to hunt the Park’s excess elk population, which up until then was just slaughtered and left to rot.

Only you can prevent forest fires … caused by a guy driving
a motorcycle through a flaming sign.


If I Only Had a Brain: How AI ‘Thinks’

AI can beat humans in chess, Go, poker and Jeopardy. But what about emotional intelligence or street smarts?

Artificial intelligence has gotten pretty darn smart—at least, at certain tasks. AI has defeated world champions in chess, Go, and now poker. But can artificial intelligence actually think?

The answer is complicated, largely because intelligence is complicated. One can be book-smart, street-smart, emotionally gifted, wise, rational, or experienced; it’s rare and difficult to be intelligent in all of these ways. Intelligence has many sources and our brains don’t respond to them all the same way. Thus, the quest to develop artificial intelligence begets numerous challenges, not the least of which is what we don’t understand about human intelligence.

Still, the human brain is our best lead when it comes to creating AI. Human brains consist of billions of connected neurons that transmit information to one another and areas designated to functions such as memory, language, and thought. The human brain is dynamic, and just as we build muscle, we can enhance our cognitive abilities—we can learn. So can AI, thanks to the development of artificial neural networks (ANN), a type of machine learning algorithm in which nodes simulate neurons that compute and distribute information. AI such as AlphaGo, the program that beat the world champion at Go last year, uses ANNs not only to compute statistical probabilities and outcomes of various moves, but to adjust strategy based on what the other player does.

10 Secret Ways To Search Google For Information That 90% Of People Don’t Know About


Click to embiggen

In much as you may know how to use the internet, especially “Googling” I can tell even without knowing you that you are the type of person that clicks on several search threads before you land on whatever it is that you actually want. Well, don’t it doesn’t happen to only. Apparently, this is quite common with most people.
Sifting through a magnitude of all that info on the internet is quite daunting. And when you are looking for something specific, it gets even harder and harder. There’s just too much to comb through. This is why today, I thought I should give you some tips to help you search better and find all of the stuff you seek for in just a few clicks and have time to spare.

1. Searching within websites

Perhaps there could be an interesting article that you seem not to forget and it just continuously lurks in your mind. You really want to read it again or at least share it with your pals but you don’t want to waste your time combing through all articles on the site. In such a case, just type the address of the site and a phrase or key word that is in the article that you seek. This will do the trick.

Top 10 Unexpected Discoveries Involving Tombs

There’s nothing like sieving through graves to piece history back together. Between all the bones and endless shards of pottery, the best finds are often the unexpected. From known grave rituals that suddenly don’t follow the rules to strange body modifications to poisonous metals to the origins of cultures, archaeologists sometimes find what they weren’t even looking for.

10. Secret Scribe Room

The Egyptian city of Luxor contains incredible ancient architecture. One of its tombs belonged to Userhat, a royal scribe. It’s already a thoroughly explored site, which made a 2017 discovery all the more remarkable. During a routine cleaning, a team of university researchers noticed a gap in the wall near the east side of the forecourt. The inquisitive gang gained entry and were amazed to discover a second scribe’s funerary chamber, dating from 1292 to 1069 BC. Hieroglyphics named the tomb’s occupant as Khonsu and indicated that he, too, held a royal position.

The tomb is picturesque, with murals telling the story of Khonsu and his wife as well as scenes showing various gods, including Osiris. One portrayal suggests that the scribe’s muse was a baboon. The painting shows four baboons worshiping the god Ra-Atum, a Sun deity. Ancient Egyptians believed that baboons could spiritually direct a person’s writing. Khonsu’s discovery opens the possibility of more hidden scribes at the site.

Is Finland’s basic universal income a solution to automation, fewer jobs and lower wages?

Both left and right are promoting the idea of a basic wage for everyone, currently on trial, as a solution to the new world of work


Mari Saarenpää with her dog Oiva in Paltamo, Finland. She was randomly selected to take part in the basic income experiment.

When he got the letter after Christmas saying he was entitled to an unconditional income of €560 (£478) a month, Mika Ruusunen couldn’t believe his luck. “At first I thought it was a joke. I had to read it many times. I looked for any evidence it might be false.”

But the father of two was not the victim of a scam. He has been selected to take part in an experiment being run by the Finnish government, in which 2,000 unemployed people between the ages of 25 and 58 will receive a guaranteed sum – a “basic income” – of €560 a month for two years. It replaces their unemployment benefit, but they will continue to receive it whether or not they find work. The government hopes it will encourage the unemployed to take on part-time work without worrying about losing their benefits.

Ruusunen lives in Kangasala, a half-hour bus ride from where we meet in Tampere, the country’s second city, known as the “Manchester of Finland”. Like its namesake, the signs of the 19th-century wealth generated by the industrial revolution are strikingly visible.

Today, the Finnish economy continues to struggle in the wake of the financial crisis, which hit just as communications giant Nokia’s star was starting to wane. This left Ruusunen, who lost his job as a baker two years ago, struggling to find work. He was unemployed when participants for the basic income pilot were randomly selected, but had started a paid IT apprenticeship by the time he got the letter.

Mike Holmes: Building and maintaining a strong foundation will serve you well

Here in Canada, when winter comes, it’s usually followed by a lot of snow. This year there hasn’t been quite as much white stuff as usual, but a recent freezing-rain storm got me thinking about foundations. I get a lot of questions and emails from concerned homeowners worrying about their foundations. They’ve found a crack, they’re concerned about water getting in, and they want to know what they can do to protect their homes from the inside and outside.

With the spring melt just a few months away, I thought this would be a good opportunity to address some of those questions.

Cracks in the Foundation

Not all cracks are serious. When concrete cures or dries, it can crack, so if you’ve just laid a new foundation and see a few small cracks, don’t call me just yet. Mark them with tape, and check back in a few months, if they aren’t growing, they can usually be filled with an epoxy injection or an expandable foam. It’s for this reason, I wouldn’t recommend finishing a basement right away after a new foundation is placed. Let your home go through a few winter seasons – so if any cracks do appear, they can be fixed more easily.

SOUTH AFRICAN EARTHWORMS CAN GROW AS LARGE AS 22 FEET LONG

Today I found out South African earthworms can grow as large as 22 feet long, with the average length being about 6 feet long. The largest one ever found so far, being 22 feet long, was found on a road side in 1967.

Other varieties of large earthworms include the Giant Gippsland earthworm of Australia, which grows about 3 feet long, but can stretch up to 12 feet and weigh as much as 1.5 pounds. These almost never surface. However, on Australian farms that have this worm, you can hear gurgling sounds coming from the ground as they move through the soil, processing about 1/2 to 1 times their body weight in dead organic material per day.

There also used to be a variety of earthworm in Washington State that grew to an average length of two feet long, but this type of worm hasn’t been spotted since 1978. Just south of Washington, in Oregon, there is a species of earthworm that grows to about 3 feet long and, if you handle it, will give off a strong smell of lilies. It has not been spotted since around 1980.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

What’s the difference between fascism and democracy? Is The United States at risk of becoming a fascist country, or are people just exaggerating? Is there any chance that President Donald Trump is leading us into fascism? What exactly is democracy? Let’s compare fascism vs democracy in this episode of The Infographics Show.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Just like the momentary distraction your mom used to make!

FINALLY . . .

The Rohrabacher Bill: A congressional compromise on pot?

California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s new bill could help to uphold states’ marijuana policies.


California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a bill last week that could get a lot of his fellow Republicans, including the president, off the hook insofar as marijuana legalization is concerned, if they have the wit to pass it.

The title of Rohrabacher’s bill, which lists Boulder Congressman Jared Polis as a co-sponsor, is the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act. It would explicitly exempt persons complying with their state’s marijuana laws “relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana” from federal prosecution.

Currently, the feds refrain from busting people and businesses in states that have legalized pot under a policy laid out by the Obama Justice Department, but which could be swept away with a stroke of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ pen.

Rohrabacher’s bill would turn that policy into federal law and make it more explicit as well.

Relax