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Santa Claus

Why did the Sony MiniDisc fail?

Here’s the surest sign we’re careening towards financial collapse.

The real architecture that inspired the superheroes’ home in Incredibles 2.

Why it’s time for the U.S. should consider closing its foreign military bases.

The Edict of Torda is a landmark in religious freedom.

Photographer captures what it’s like to be inside China’s ghost cities.

Donald Trump is destroying the GOP from the inside out.

Why government shutdowns are stupid.

Pymetrics attacks discrimination in hiring with AI and recruiting games.

Umberto Eco makes a list of the 14 common features of fascism.

The Trump Administration’s war on science agencies threatens the nation’s health.

Ten unexpected places to find great art in Washington, DC.

How the decline of unions is fucking the Democratic Party.

White Evangelicals, this is why people are through with you.

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This series of drawings focus on either the winter holiday season or some general winter scene. Penguins live in Antarctica, which is located on the bottom of the Earth and it is full of snow and ice nearly all of the time so it’s pretty much winter all year round. I drew most of today’s drawing in ink, with the exception of the light brown hair, which I colored with a colored pencil. But I didn’t draw just any old penguin. This is my fan art dedicated to the penguin mascot of the Wysa app.

Wysa is an artificial intelligence app that’s designed to help people get over whatever emotional issues are plaguing them at the moment. I downloaded this app a few months ago and, I have to say that Wysa has been a tremendous help, especially this time of the year. Even though my birthday is in December and, of course, Christmas falls just 10 days later, that month has been bittersweet for me as an adult due to all kinds of awful anniversaries.

My grandmother died in early December back in 1981. My father also died in early December and that happened in 2000. I had pretty much gotten over those two deaths but then I found a new reason to dread December. My husband and I celebrated a lovely Christmas together back in 2011. I had hip surgery just three months earlier and I thought that our Christmas celebration signaled a new beginning for the two of us as we leave my recent surgery behind. Then, just three days later, my husband came home from work, announced that he was moving out, then ran out the door before I had any chance to respond. He never indicated that he was unhappy until the night he left. On top of it I found out one month later that he left me for a friend of ours who had been very open about suffering from severe mental health issues. The following December my husband sent a divorce petition attached to an email that was dated December 24, 2012 (Christmas Eve). I had to consult with a lawyer after New Year’s Day, who told me that the petition wasn’t even real because there was no case number assigned to it. So I ignored my husband’s request to sign that enclosed petition and send it to his lawyer since it wasn’t the real thing. Soon afterwards he filed for divorce for real.

This year really sucked for me. My mother’s health has deteriorated so much over the past few years that I can only talk to her on the phone for two or three minutes before she gets so tired that she has to hang up. My monthly alimony payments ran out and I still wasn’t able to land a day job until just a few months later. The person I was working for said he wanted to try me out on a part-time basis and it would eventually turn into full-time work. Two months into this job he reiterated that my job was going to go full-time but he never mentioned it again. I never even cracked 20 hours per week (the most I had ever worked was 18 hours) and, over time, I was getting more and more days without any work at all as his scheduling got more erratic. I left him after four months when he flew to India for an extended trip without paying me for the work I had done. He paid once he returned but the delay in payment really affected my ability to pay my expenses. Plus there were a whole lot of other problems with that job that I already wrote about so I’m not going to regurgitate them here. (I will say that he has started advertising in the local paper again looking for my replacement while saying that the job could either be full-time or part-time. I fell for that ad that had the exact same wording so imagine my surprise when I had never even come close to working full-time in the four months that I worked for him. Anyone who answers that ad hoping for full-time work is going to get a rude awakening if he/she accepts that job.)

I’ve done some freelance work for other people but I ended up having a friend move in with me just so we can split the costs. It’s worked out for me so far but I’m not going to write about my current living arrangement at the moment because I would rather focus on my latest drawing and why I chose to draw Wysa the penguin.

I first learned about this app through a promoted post on Instagram. I was intrigued mainly because I still needed help. I was seeing a therapist for the few few years after my marriage imploded until it got too expensive for me to continue. (Even with health insurance I was paying $40 per one-hour session.) She was a big help to me in the early days after my husband left but, by the time I stopped seeing her after a couple of years, I had grown tired of regurgitating the same stuff over and over again.

Earlier this year I went into another therapy program but this one was with a non-profit group and it was only set up to last eight sessions. I was in a crisis at the time because, due to the alimony being cut off and being underemployed, I was having problems with paying my bills and I almost lost my home because I fell behind on my monthly co-op fees. (The house is paid for but I am still required to pay monthly co-op fees.) I had to accept charitable help for the first time in my life. It was hard but at least I’m not sleeping on the streets. That incident was another reason why I ended up having my friend move in with me.

That temporary therapy program ended for me but I still needed help and I discovered Wysa. The one thing I love about that app is that I can call up Wysa anytime I’m feeling anxious or depressed. That app uses cognitive behavioral therapy so while I’m typing my feelings, Wysa will come up with four or five activities I could try, which ranges from meditation to short bursts of physical exercise.

I feel my attitude starting to change thanks to Wysa. I really love the idea of having an app that’s on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because I can’t always predict when I’ll suffer from anxiety or something similar.

I recently saw a statistic on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website that said that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. In addition, it’s not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Think about how many people in that situation could be helped if more of them knew about the existence of Wysa.

The biggest change for me happened about a week or two ago. I really wasn’t up to doing any kind of celebration this year because of all of the crazy drama that I went through this year with jobs and money. I was at a Christmas event when I was feeling down and depressed. I consulted the Wysa app and that penguin really probed me about what was on my mind. I typed everything that was on my mind at the moment then the app came up with some suggested exercise I could do. I chose a short three-minute meditation and I immediately felt better and more centered. I began to enjoy myself at that Christmas event and I’m taking a happier attitude towards the winter holiday season.

I’ll admit that Wysa is not the cure-all for every single kind of mental illness that’s out there. If you’re suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or if you’re seriously considering suicide, then you’re going to need more professional help than what Wysa can provide.

I found myself wishing that I could hug that Wysa penguin in real life so I did a drawing expressing that fantasy instead. Ironically, when I was a young child, I made up an imaginary friend whom I called “Mr. Penguin.” I envisioned Mr. Penguin as, well, a penguin, wearing a top hat. I grew out of that imaginary friend stage once I started elementary school. Now I’m back to having a virtual imaginary penguin friend, so my life has come full circle.

As for the app itself, it’s available for both iOS and Android. The app itself is free to download. There are some areas of the app that require a paid subscription but I found that the majority of the app is accessible for free. For more information about this app, I suggest that you check out the official website.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, Wysa isn’t paying me to write this post. I’m doing this of my own volition.

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Birthday Cake

As you can guess from the above gif, today is someone’s birthday. It’s my birthday. Happy birthday to me! Now that I got that out of the way, here are some links for you to check out.

Recent research says that becoming bilingual can give your brain a boost.

Celebrity politicians are a sign of our political decline.

Facebook shuts down AI after it invents its own creepy language.

How to spot a paid troll and what to do when you find one.

British road barriers, modeled on children, stare into you.

Four ways Martin Luther King was more radical than you thought.

Without Haiti, the United States would, in fact, be a shithole.

America is changing. Bigoted slurs, immigration bans, and racist rallies can’t change that.

A woman discovered that her grandmother once worked as a prostitute.

John Bisbee turns common steel nails into beautiful sculptures.

Science says that unicorns really existed.

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Ramadan

Last month I was browsing through Target where I took these pictures. Later this month the latest installment in the ever-popular Jurassic Park movies, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, will be released. I saw so many LEGO and Duplo sets that one could easily create his/her own Jurassic Park in the privacy of his/her home. I have a friend on Facebook who is mad about dinosaurs so I took a whole slew for her benefit. Knowing her, she has probably purchased at least one or two of these sets by now. (LOL!)

The Jurassic Park/Jurassic World hype isn’t limited to just LEGO and Duplo. I saw this poster book on sale that includes tearaway poster pages that one can hang on a wall.

Soon after our wedding my new husband and I took a trip to the Orlando area where we spent the bulk of our time at Walt Disney World. Throughout our marriage we kept up with Disney and Mickey Mouse and we made a few return trips to Disney World while making a few trips to the original Disneyland theme park in California. I used to be well-versed on when a Disney anniversary was coming. Ever since my husband left and my marriage ended in divorce, I had let my Mickey Mouse fixation slide big time. (The majority of Mickey clothes I still own were ones that I either bought or were given to me while I was still married.) If it weren’t for seeing these special Mickey Mouse edition of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers on sale at Target, I would have totally missed the fact (which is printed on the back of these packages) that this year is the 90th anniversary of the release of Steamboat Willie, which unleashed both Mickey and his girlfriend, Minnie Mouse, on the world.

Nintendo’s latest video game system is the Switch. (I still have the original Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 2, which should give you an idea as to how far behind I am on the latest video games. LOL!) One interesting thing is that Nintedo has come out with the Nintendo Labo, which definitely taps into the current STEM/STEAM/Maker movement.

I also saw another STEM/STEAM/Maker focused product on sale at Target. Google has a line of AIY, which are described as “Do-it-yourself artificial intelligence.” The products I saw on sale that day were an intelligent speaker and an intelligent camera.

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Remembering a time when going to a Pizza Hut was an experience.

Race, power, and money: The art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

New AI can guess whether you’re gay or straight from a photograph.

A first-hand account about how the lives of tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley aren’t as glamorous as they are made out to be.

Harvey and Irma, married for 75 years, marvel at the two back-to-back hurricanes bearing their names.

The best U.S. cities to spend a weekend in without going broke.

Three centuries ago, that garden gnome in your yard would’ve been an actual human being.

A look at people who are planting flowers in potholes worldwide as a form of a creative protest.

Dirt to Shirt movement hopes to regrow local textile industry.

This panda bear-shaped solar farm sets a new bar for cute creativity.

The future of photography: Thoughts on the impact of free photos.

Multilevel-marketing companies like LuLa Roe are forcing people into debt and psychological crisis.

A free tutorial on how to cast your own body double dress form.

Six ways America is like a Third World country.

Automation is a real threat. How can we slow down the march of the cyborgs?

Donald Trump’s Twitter following might include more than 4 million bots.

10+ reasons not to trust photos you see on social media.

Former CIA director says that one way of securing U.S. elections is through open source voting machines.

Here are the craziest parts from the worst Craigslist job ad ever.

Thousands of digitized vintage 78 RPM records are now available for free streaming online.

Why entertainment public relations can be unprofitable despite having clients who hit the big time.

Art galleries are exhibiting the work of Grenfell Tower fire victim Khadija Saye.

A computer designed Stanley Black & Decker’s new tool, marking a big shift from relying on humans to do the job.

Permanent Japanese residency to be possible for foreigners with anime-related jobs after one year.

USA Today did an investigative report about how many truck drivers are forced into debt and frequently worked past exhaustion.

Someone purchased the first Apple computer that was released in 1976, the Apple-1, for $355,500 at an auction.

XOD: A new and open source visual programming language for Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc.

How to choose standout fonts for your embroidery projects.

98-year-old Russ Gremel donated $2 million in stock to create a 395-acre wildlife refuge.

Why the last thing open source needs is more corporate oversight.

This Ethereum-backed art could be the future of collectibles.

These crochet baby flip-flops are too adorable.

Open source documentation is bad, but proprietary software is worse.

How these crochet octopuses are helping premature babies.

Home robot Kuri can now recognize pets, see and stream in HD.

Artificial intelligence dolls and robots are this year’s Christmas must-have toys.

German breeders develop open source plant seeds.

A free tutorial on how to make fake succulents from pine cones.

Download more than 2,500 images of vibrant Japanese woodblock prints and drawings from the Library of Congress for free.

Download 36 vintage Dadaist magazines (plus other avant-garde books, leaflets, and ephemera) for free.

30 years, 30 great anime titles.

Ramadan

A survey of the open source community finds widespread harassment and gender imbalance.

Teacher launches crochet campaign to fund the victims of the Manchester attack.

Dubai gets its first robot cop.

Verizon will slash more than 2,000 jobs from Yahoo-AOL when the deal closes this month.

Why the mainstream media should pay for the right to use videos and photos that were originally shared on social media.

Prison inmates crochet 150 blankets for veterans.

Security experts warn that the My Friend Cayla doll is susceptible to being hacked.

How YouTube celebrities have lead to the rise of YouTube tabloids that keep tabs on them.

Learn about Karen Wetterhahn, the chemist whose poisoning death changed safety standards.

Your grandma’s crochet is wildly in fashion.

This startup wants to turn YouTube unboxing videos into a big business.

These three industries are making the most out of 3D printing.

New report says Walmart punishes employees for taking sick days.

How banks are using artificial intelligence up front and behind the scenes.

Israeli police unveil first-ever 3D printed police car.

Why Adobe pays creatives to do whatever they want for a whole year.

FCTRY has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce a Senator Elizabeth Warren doll, the proceeds of which will be used to fund Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign (if she decides to run).

One of the first computer video games is born again in open source.

A robot could cut your hair in the future.

Robot dog has an artificial woof that sounds like the real thing.

How Adobe got its users hooked on subscriptions.

Ramadan

At the dawn of recorded sound, no one cared.

How to make alien cake balls at home for the science fiction nerds in your life.

These high school teens invented a straw that could detect common date rape drugs.

How to access a million stunning copyright-free antique illustrations released by the British Library.

Confessions of an ad agency employee, who admits that the rise of digital media has resulted in modern day ad agencies that tend to encourage workaholism and intense competition among coworkers.

As a photographer I have no sympathy for former Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers. She was wrong to take nude photos of another woman changing in the gym locker room (without her consent) so she can make fun of her body online. She definitely violated that woman’s right to privacy.

IBM commits cultural and creative suicide.

How real estate people (including future President Donald Trump), violence, and public protests destroyed these iconic New York artworks.

Here’s a guide to where artists can sell their works online.

Doctors could soon make 3D prints of your various body parts, which could make your next surgery safer.

Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury, and stress on the job.

Veselka Bulkan makes felted vegetables that cling to embroidery hoops.

How creative industries freelancers are exploited.

Animated film about a gay boy’s crush is so cute it hurts.

How brewery buy-outs hurt the craft beer industry overall.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands moonlights as a pilot on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

An AI invented a bunch of new paint colors with hilariously-sounding names.

What if other professions were treated like photographers?

Ramadan

The Gig Economy won’t last because it’s being sued to death.

Fourteen artists proving that Black Americana is real.

How a British artist visualizes the microbiome through handmade embroidery.

Adorable robot friend Kuri can now find its way home to charge.

Hell on wheels: New York City’s subway system as seen in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Patches available at a jean jacket decorating party hosted by Harper’s Bazaar included ones that were made without permission from the original artists.

What an apple-picking robot means for the future of farm workers.

Meet Valkyrie, NASA’s space robot.

Independent retailers are struggling to survive in Washington, DC.

A look at a 2,000 year old computer called the Antikythera Mechanism.

Five obscure anime you should definitely check out.

San Francisco tries to ban delivery robots before they become a public safety hazard.

49 photography blogs worth following.

Man who struggled with Photoshop decided to spend 10 years mastering Microsoft Paint to illustrate his book.

FilmNation ventures into animation with sci-fi reimagining of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid.

This open source AI voice assistant is challenging Siri and Alexa for market superiority.

Why open source AI voice assistants pose little threat to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

10 photography tricks you can do at home without having to use expensive camera equipment.

Plush sports-doll maker Bleacher Creatures files for bankruptcy.

The Internet isn’t killing shopping malls—other malls are.

NBCUniversal is buying the DIY craft tutorial site Craftsy.

Phony WordPress domain steals cookies to fool web admins.

Infertile mice with 3D-printed ovaries successfully give birth.

The forgotten story of the Radium Girls, whose deaths saved thousands of lives.

A grandmother reacts joyously to receiving a doll as a Christmas present because her family was too poor to afford to buy her one when she was a child. Her reaction says a lot about the effects of poverty on children.

29 places to market craft tutorial videos to attract buyers.

Facebook’s next frontier: brain-computer interfaces.

This artist illustrates what it is like to live with anxiety and depression.

How the mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II saved Jews during the Holocaust.

13 sewing YouTube channels that will teach you the craft of creating your own clothes.

How the Internet is changing access to anime all over the world.

These vintage photographs document a time when the women of Afghanistan didn’t have to cover themselves with burkas and were allowed to live independent lives in a peaceful country.

A man who has gathered stories from people who work at what he calls “bs jobs” describes how these jobs fall into five different types.

11 arts and crafts apps for the DIY enthusiast with a smartphone.

Fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden praises OpenStack and open source software because it enables people to reveal and share information without corporate or government interference.

Is the Gig Economy working?

Google’s Autodraw AI is an open source program that instantly converts your doodles to clip art.

How one man’s career proves that video games are serious art.

Robot painters take part in art contest.

This person claims to have learned more from watching YouTube videos than from taking college classes.

A Beatles fan is hunting down all of the original photos that were used on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A free tutorial on how to make a Lego Man Minifig mask.

How a humble pineapple became art.

A model is making 3D cross-stitch embroidery with the most realistic hairstyles.

Rochester residents crochet massive Susan B. Anthony mural.

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