Dead DropOur Slack is an ever-growing recycling bin of abandoned links. News, memes, photos, quotes, and brain-poisoned bacchanalia must all be wiped from our memories so we can blog tomorrow—but before we do that, we’re forwarding the best of it to you! Welcome to Dead Drop.
Elon Musk was set to launch humans (NASA astronauts) into space today, but the flight was delayed due to weather. The next potential windows are this Saturday and Sunday. We don’t know how that’s going to go. But look at this suit!
It looks like car upholstery. It looks like Tron. It looks like a half-finished Power Ranger. It looks like a Tesla-sponsored NASCAR tracksuit. “When did THIS become hotter than THIS?” Gizmodo senior reporter Bryan Menegus asked in Slack, with a side-by-side picture of the considerably sicker NASA Orion suit.
“That’s the whole blog,” he added.
What do you think?
If you’re on desktop, the slideshow of Dead Drop continues on the next page, so smash that arrow.
A savvy former Googler has masterminded a TikTok “cult”—her word—with nearly 2 million followers. They call themselves: “Step Chickens.”
Melissa Ong leveraged the popularity of a chicken suit she wore for TikTok videos, which wound through an elaborate string of video comments to the idea of “step-chickens,” which she thought was “fucking hilarious.” Long story short, she is now the “Mother Hen,” her profile photo is everybody’s avatar, and the step-chickens app made number 10 on the App Store last week. The New York Times’s Taylor Lorenz has the full tale.
Just as my generation has attained fabulously sculpted Instagram butts, it’s time to get up and take some dance lessons: Millennials are flocking to TikTok now.
According to AdWeek, TikTok broke the record for most quarterly downloads in Q1 2020, with 315 million downloads in Google Play and the App Store. And Comscore finds that the user base of people between the ages of 25 and 44 have taken a chunk out of teen dominance on the platform. In a separate piece, AdWeek supposes that people are fed up with watching celebrities enjoy vast unoccupied beaches while under quarantine.
I am! Pack your shit. We’re leaving.
For the $4.5 million price tag, you could be the proud owner of a mansion that has everything: a gated entrance, imperial staircases, a music room, a tennis court, and an honest-to-God haunted town in the basement.
Washington, DC, media observer Jason Shevrin posted this understated property listing yesterday, which neglects to mention the underground Pleasantville, complete with shops, a cobblestone road, two vehicles, and a movie theater marquee advertising a double feature of Mary Poppins followed by The Exorcist. The town resident is a Norman Bates-esque man doll sitting on a motorcycle, as he did in life.
“How did they get the cars down there?” one tweeter asked. Shevrin replied with a photo of a basement door tucked away through the lawn.
“Did anyone else notice the fire pole in the first floor hallway (slide 29)?” another tweeter responded. “I mean lots of people go crazy with the basement, but this person was not hostage to re-sale value.”
Inspect for yourself! There are 89 photos in the property listing.
A pigeon minding its own business has been accused of international espionage, and is currently held in India on charges of spying. The BBC reports that the pigeon’s owner, a Pakistani villager, has asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return the bird, refuting allegations that the pigeon was wearing a “secret code” on a ring on its leg, which he said was his cell phone number. He said that the bird was a “symbol of peace.”
The pigeon, which was captured by villagers, is not the first pigeon to be detained by Indian authorities, the BBC notes, citing a 2016 incident in which a pigeon was found carrying a “note threatening the Indian prime minister.”
Pigeon is cagey about the ordeal.
In yesterday’s Dead Drop, we mentioned that YouTube was automatically deleting two terms that are critical of the Chinese Communist Party. The company told Gizmodo that the deletions were an “error.” They fixed it.
The reasons for the error remain unclear. YouTube directed Gizmodo to a blog post explaining that, in an effort to reduce onsite staff during the covid-19 epidemic, it has increasingly relied on machine learning; as a result, “users and creators may see increased video removals, including some videos that may not violate policies.”
That still doesn’t clear up the question of why, as the Verge pointed out, users had noticed the issue long before the pandemic, in October 2019.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who’s cast himself as Capitol Hill’s chief tech critic, wasted no time in pulling out the official letterhead.
AI is curating now, which sounds bad for curators who’ve spent lifetimes hoofing it to art openings and studio visits—until you read the Art Newspaper report and realize that this isn’t so much a transformative concept as a one-off novelty project to make art ~TeChiEr~ by simply funneling it through technology.
The Bucharest Biennale has elected the Vienna-based digital marketing agency Spinnwerk to generate a brief concept, gather data from galleries and art institutions, and then select the appropriate participants. Seems like a raw deal for the curators who compiled all that information for the learning data. The biennial is set to take place online in October, with VR headsets in Bucharest and Vienna. Spinnwerk founder Razvan Ion tells the Art Newspaper: “People will react and feel completely different after experiencing our immersive narrative.”
“A better idea would have been to commission an artist who works with AI to do the curating,” art critic and net art curator Paddy Johnson wrote via Facebook. “AI needs to be more than a sorting algorithm to work,” she added. “Personally, I’d like to see ELIZA, a chatbot developed in the 1960’s, interview the biennial’s leadership.”
Plus, nobody wants to hang out with a robot at the after-party.
With so many horrific images of charred koalas now filed away in the recesses of memory, for those of us lucky to go unscathed, the Smithsonian takes stock of still-decimated koala habitat in Australia’s Kangaroo Island. The piece is about koala rescue missions, but it’s filled with trauma that has gotten less notice as the pandemic has dominated U.S. headlines. Smithsonian Magazine writes:
For people desperate to help in the aftermath of the fires, rescuing and treating injured koalas and relocating koalas stranded in devastated forest areas has become a kind of humane religion, something to cling to and thus avoid descending into despair. Each and every rescue becomes a small but holy and tangible act to stem the wider suffering.
There’s hope, too.
AIDS activist and playwright Larry Kramer, co-founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP, passed this morning of pneumonia. Journalists on Twitter are furious about the New York Times’s on-brand tone-deaf language on his obituary, which initially called his approach “often abusive” before it was changed, but—fuck it. A juggernaut in the movement to end the AIDS crisis is gone, during another pandemic, when his voice is needed most. In March, Kramer was working on a play that looked to incorporate the current covid-19 crisis into the experience of “three plagues.”
Set aside the Times for now and read his 1983 essay sounding the alarm back when there were 1,112 cases of AIDS, which helped to drum up the kind of anger that sent people marching into the streets. “If this article doesn’t scare the shit out of you, we’re in real trouble,” Kramer wrote. “If this article doesn’t rouse you to anger, fury, rage, and action, gay men may have no future on this earth.” NPR’s obit is more balanced.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said hydroxychloroquine, Trump’s favorite but totally unproven covid-19 treatment, is not an effective covid-19 treatment. The president is a snake oil salesman, he effectively said.
“The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy,” he told CNN, just short of telling Trump to stop promoting it from behind a White House podium. (Trump says he just finished a two-week course.) Fauci added that the drug likely poses cardiovascular dangers, echoing the FDA. Sales have reportedly nearly tripled since Trump started bringing it up.
In the same interview, Fauci said that he wears masks partially because the public needs to see leaders set a good example.
Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo