Twitter is sharing photos from before coronavirus lockdowns and they feel impossible

We don’t need to be told that life looked different before the coronavirus led to quarantine and lockdown measures around the world, but it’s still a bizarre feeling to scroll through one’s phone photos and see the evidence laid bare. 

Inspired by a BBC article, Twitter users are sharing their last “normal” photo from before COVID-19 changed the world — relics of a recent past and increasingly distant future.

Live events and large gatherings were the strangest to witness, since those don’t exist in the physical space anymore.

Remember the classic overhead restaurant photo? That’s a thing we don’t do anymore!

Remember bars? Remember drinking at a table with another person less than six feet away?

This photo is quite frankly terrifying.

This one looks like the setup of an inevitable future horror movie set in 2020.

This brave human once rode a bus (still a necessity for many essential workers to whom we wish utmost health and safety).

Shoutout to Jem here, who went for a swim in water that other people had been in. Our lives were truly insane.

We used to march for things? All the time??

Imagine being on a trip! With people! Smiling!!

But perhaps nothing is more dated than this photo of an Elizabeth Warren rally in Detroit. What a time.

Fred Willard, comedy legend from ‘Best in Show’ and ‘A Mighty Wind,’ is dead at 86

Legendary actor, writer, and comedian Fred Willard died on Friday at the age of 86.

He may be best known to 2020 audiences for his role on Modern Family, where he played Phil’s dad Frank. But Willard has a long history in Hollywood, including a lengthy and creatively productive relationship with mockumentary master Christopher Guest.

Willard’s career started in the New York City comedy scene of the 1950s, where he first made a name for himself as one half of a comedy duo alongside Vic Grecco. He later performed with Second City in Chicago and co-founded the improv comedy troupe, Ace Trucking Company, which logged numerous appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Willard’s profile had only grown by the end of the ’70s, when a role on the comedy series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman landed him a starring role (alongside Martin Mull) on the spin-off Fernwood 2 Night, and a couple others that followed. 

All of which is to say that Willard was already a well-known name among comedy lovers by the time he made his first big splash in the Rob Reiner-directed mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, which was co-written by Guest. He then went on to appear in Guest’s greatest subsequent hits, including the dog show farce Best in Show; the folk music riff on Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind; and the homespun local theater send-up, Waiting for Guffman (among others).

Willard’s film and TV credits in general capture an unimaginably wide cross-section of entertainment from the past 60 years. He had roles in the first Austin Powers, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, and Anchorman. He lent his voice to WALL-E. On TV, his credits include appearances on The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley, Married… With Children, Family Matters, Roseanne, Murphy Brown, Mad About You, The Simpsons, and Modern Family (among many others).

Willard kept on working right up to the end. He will next appear in a recurring role on Netflix’s upcoming series Space Force, from Steve Carell and Greg Daniels (of The Office and Parks and Recreation fame).

A large community of friends, fans, and colleagues stepped up swiftly to pay tribute to Willard on social media in the hours after his death, attributed to natural causes, was confirmed.

Barack Obama offers sage advice to 2020’s ‘Zoom University’ graduates

Former President Barack Obama delivered a virtual commencement speech on Saturday for over 20,000 students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). And with the ongoing pandemic making for a very unpredictable time, he made sure to sprinkle in plenty of sage advice on how to continue forward.

The two-hour live streamed event, called “Show me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition” was sponsored by Chase and hosted by Kevin Hart. You can watch it in its entirety below, with Obama’s speech appearing toward the end. (It’s queued up.)

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Throughout the speech, Obama called upon the graduates to help lead the way during what is a particularly scary time. 

“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you. With everything suddenly feeling like it’s up for grabs, this is your time to seize the initiative. Nobody can tell you anymore that you should be waiting your turn. Nobody can tell you anymore “this is how it’s always been done.” More than ever, this is your moment — your generation’s world to shape,” Obama said. 

While taking on such a responsibility, he encouraged them not to cloud their visions of the future with cynicism or fear. 

“As young African Americans, you’ve been exposed, earlier than some, to the world as it is. But as young H.B.C.U. grads, your education has also shown you the world as it ought to be,” he continued.

To help with what might feel like a daunting journey, Obama offered three pieces of advice: immerse yourself in activist communities that include those willing to fight for justice and equality, surround yourself with allies that can help all types struggling groups, (whether it’s immigrants, the L.G.B.T. community, low-income of any background), and to remember that they are all now role models.

“Your participation in this democracy, your courage to stand up for what’s right, your willingness to forge coalitions — these actions will speak volumes. And if you are inactive, that will also speak volumes,” he explained. “Not just to the young folks coming up behind you — but to your parents, your peers, and the rest of the country. They need to see your leadership — you’re the folks we’ve been waiting for to come along.”

He ended the speech by letting the new graduates know just how much power they hold to shine brightly “for justice, and for equality, and for joy.”

Both the pandemic and the current state of the entire world has made any thoughts about the future terrifying to think about. But there’s no denying Obama’s speech could help give us the hope we’ve all been looking for. 

Life after death: Man returned from ‘vast darkness’ after flat-lining in emergency room

Many people who have suffered a heart attack or other form of near-fatal trauma often recall seeing lights and hearing voices.

Researchers refer to these as near-death experiences or NDEs.

Dr Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City, said during an OZ Talk: “People describe a sensation of a bright, warm, welcoming light that draws people towards it.

“They describe a sensation of experiencing their deceased relatives, almost as if they have come to welcome them.”

Most researchers will agree there are scientific explanations behind the visions.

Bible miracles: Expert reveals how ‘natural explanations’ could prove the Bible was right

The Bible tells of many miraculous and seemingly impossible events from before and after the birth of Jesus Christ. Both the Old and New Testament speak at length about the many acts of God, such as Jesus walking on water or raising the dead back to life. And though Christians accept these as proof of Jesus’s divinity and the might of God, there are some Biblical events may have not defied the laws of physics after all.

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According to Professor Tom Meyer, a public speaker and college professor at Shasta Bible College in the US, the are two miracles that stand out to him.

Professor Meyer told Express.co.uk: “There are some miraculous phenomena recorded in Scripture that defy a natural explanation, like

Jesus walking on water – Matthew 14:22-23 – or Jesus feeding 5,000 men with just five loaves of bread and two fish – Matthew 14:13-21.

“But there are instances where a natural explanation can clarify miraculous phenomena, such as the flow of the Jordan River being cut off upstream at flood stage so that the children of Israel could pass over on dry ground – Joshua 3:13 – and such as the Sun and Moon standing still so the nation of Israel had time to defeat its enemies in a surprise attack – Joshua 10:13.”

In the case of the first miracle, the Bible describes the waters of the Jordan River standing still for Joshua and the Israelites.

READ MORE:

Bible miracles: Joshua commanding the Sun and Moon

Bible miracles: An expert believes there are natural explanations for some Bible miracles (Image: GETTY)

Bible miracles: The Book of Joshua in the Bible

Bible miracles: The Book of Joshua describes the Jordan River standing still for the Israelites (Image: GETTY)

Professor Meyer believes an answer to the seemingly impossible can be found in historic accounts of 12th and 13th-century explorers to the Holy Land.

In 1266 AD, for instance, a massive earthquake struck near the fords of Adam, which is only 16 miles northeast of Jericho.

The earthquake triggered landslides that blocked up the Jordan River.

Professor Meyer said: “Similar historical instances of earthquakes causing mudslides which subsequently stemmed the flow of the Jordan River also

occurred in 1906 and 1927.

“The Israelites with Joshua, probably numbering in the millions

– Numbers 26:51 – could have had crossed the dry riverbed of the Jordan River and entered Canaan in half a day.”

That explanation does not detract in any way from the supernatural intervention which God provided

Tom Meyer, The Bible Memory Man

The second miracle described in the Book of Joshua describes the Sun and the Moon standing still in the sky.

According to the Old Testament, Joshua and Israelites came upon an enemy camp, upon which Joshua prayed to God.

Professor Meyer said: “Joshua’s prayer that the Sun would stand still and that the Moon would stay in place was a poetical way of asking God that their surprise attack on the five kings of the Amorites wouldn’t be revealed by the rising Sun.

“Joshua asked that darkness would continue throughout the day, that the night would be prolonged for Israel’s surprise attack.

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Bible miracles: Joshu commanding the Sun and Moon

Bible miracles: Joshua prayed to God for the Sun and the Moon to stop (Image: GETTY)

Bible miracles: The Holy Bible

Bible miracles: Professor Meyer said natural explanations do not disprove God’s power (Image: GETTY)

“The Hebrew word translated for the Sun and Moon ‘standing still’ means to be silent or cease or leave off.

“Another way of saying it is the Sun made no haste to come about a whole day.”

Professor Meyer said the Moon and the Earth did not stop orbiting the Sun.

Instead, he suggested the celestial bodies were obscured from view by a freak weather event.

He said: “Contrary to the popular belief of many Christians, the earth and moon did not cease rotating around the Sun.

“The answer to Joshua’s prayer for continued darkness came in the form of a hailstorm which had the effect of prolonged darkness – Joshua 10:11.”

Whatever the case may be, Professor Meyer argued these possible natural explanations do not disprove the power of God.

He said: “This interpretation of the miraculous phenomena can provide a natural explanation of what happened; to accept that explanation does not detract in any way from the supernatural intervention which God provided for Israel at the exact moment they needed it.”

Professor Meyer, who is known as The Bible Memory Man, has memorised more than 20 books from the Bible.

UFO sighting: Thousands witness ‘UFO crash’ in Brazil amid Google Maps ‘cover-up’

Mysterious lights seen by thousands of people in Brazil and captured in multiple videos has sparked a social media frenzy. Video footage showing an alleged UFO crashing in a nearby forest in Mage, Brazil just north of Rio de Janeiro, even led to Magé to trend on Twitter by Wednesday when several people began sharing videos of the glowing lights in the sky. In the videos, blue, red and yellow orbs can be seen moving around the sky, and one video shows the lights arranged in a triangular formation.

Stunned residents can be heard trying identify the lights in the sky, before several of the lights appear to land nearby.

Another video shows a group of five illuminated spheres in the night sky – a bizarre visual phenomenon which “many people saw”.

Others posted footage of a floating red orb, as well as strange flashing lights in the horizon.

One witness Andre Di Mauro tweeted: “There are reports that something fell over there in a lake. But it doesn’t seem to be a satellite.”

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The numerous videos purportedly showing pulsating, ball-shaped objects over the skies of Brazil sparked a flurry of discussions about aliens. 

However, according to Vice, dozens of the posts on the #MageUFO Twitter hashtag “disappeared” while on Reddit “posts concerning the Brazilian UFOs also began to disappear”.

UFO enthusiasts then shared a Google Maps link of a forest in Mage that sparked claims of a Google Maps cover-up conspiracy.

The satellite image revealed a white image glitch in a bizarre shape in a wooded area north of Rio de Janeiro.

Hero Cat Alerts Sleeping Family To Burning Slow Cooker

Think cats are just selfish creatures who only want to eat, sleep and clean themselves? 

Well, that’s a crock, according to a Canadian man who says his cat woke him up to let him know a slow cooker was on fire.

Scott White of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, said he went to sleep Sunday morning around midnight after setting some onions in the slow cooker to make jam.

A few hours later, around 4:30 a.m., White said his cat, Joey, did something strange. “Usually, Joey doesn’t bother us when we sleep, but I could sense him pacing around the bed and I woke up with a paw on my face,” White told HuffPost.

Sensing something was wrong, White got up and saw the kitchen filling up with smoke from the slow cooker. “There was a lot of haze in the kitchen, but not enough to alert the fire alarm about 20 feet away,” White said.

In the aftermath of Joey’s alertness, White and his fiancee have been giving Joey extra attention and treats from a “hero basket” donated to them as word about the cat spread around town.

But Joey’s heroism may have left White’s other pet, a 10-month-old puppy, in the metaphorical doghouse. “The dog was always in the window growling at people, so we thought he’d be a good watchdog,” White said.

Instead, the pooch slept through the entire incident.

“I guess we found out the real hero is the cat,” White told the CBC.

Google’s Chrome browser will block battery-draining, data-guzzling ads

Image: google


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Google is working to make the Chrome browser shut down ads that drain your device’s battery life or needlessly consume your internet’s bandwidth. 

The scale of the problem is pretty minor, affecting 0.3 percent of all the ads on the internet, according to Chrome Product Manager Marshall Vale. Nevertheless, these intrusive ads can hog system resources without your knowledge. 

“These ads (such as those that mine cryptocurrency, are poorly programmed, or are unoptimized for network usage) can drain battery life, saturate already strained networks, and cost money,” Vale wrote in a Thursday blog post.

In response, Google will limit the system resources an online ad can use before you click on it. “When an ad reaches its limit, the ad’s frame will navigate to an error page, informing the user that the ad has used too many resources,” Vale added. As the example below shows, the intrusive ad will come up as a gray blank space, rendering it useless. 

According to Vale, Google plans on targeting the most egregious ads that use more CPU or network bandwidth than 99.9 percent of ads that tap the same system resources. Specifically, the company will block ads that meet any of the following criteria

  • Uses the main CPU for more than 60 seconds in total.

  • Uses the main CPU for more than 15 seconds in any 30-second window.

  • Uses more than 4 megabytes of network bandwidth.

“While only 0.3 percent of ads exceed this threshold today, they account for 27 percent of network data used by ads and 28 percent of all ad CPU usage,” Vale added.

The plan is to experiment with the ad-blocking technique over the next few months before rolling out the feature in a Chrome stable release near the end of August. However, you can actually activate the feature now. Simply type in “chrome://flags/ #enable-heavy-ad-intervention” into the browser’s web address bar. You’ll then be brought to a screen, where you can turn it on. 

Shady ad companies and in-browser cryptocurrency mining providers will probably hate the move, but the upcoming change is part of the company’s ongoing effort to prevent users from flocking to more powerful ad-blocking software, which risks undermining Google’s main business of serving ad space.

“Our intent with this extended rollout is to give appropriate time for ad creators and tool providers to prepare and incorporate these thresholds into their workflows,” Vale said. “To help advertisers understand the impact of this intervention on their ads, they can access reports to learn which ads Chrome unloaded.”

This article originally published at PCMag
here

J.K. Rowling is four cocktails in and talking trash about Bitcoin

J.K. Rowling has been drinking a lot and you’d better believe she has some thoughts on Bitcoin.

Noted TERF and author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, Rowling decided Friday was the perfect time to learn about the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. And so, like any celebrity who wants to start her day off with a ray of positivity, she hopped on Twitter to engage

“I don’t understand bitcoin,” Rowling tweeted to Coindesk’s Leigh Cuen. “Please explain it to me.”

Over the course of the next several hours, as legions of crypto try-hards leapt at the opportunity to explain consensus algorithms, Rowling’s nascent views on Bitcoin turned from mildly inquisitive to a friendly mocking.

SEE ALSO: Not above the law: Steven Seagal’s shady crypto past under siege by SEC

Perhaps it was the fourth Old Fashioned speaking?

“People are now explaining Bitcoin to me, and honestly, it’s blah blah blah collectibles (My Little Pony?) blah blah blah computers (got one of those) blah blah blah crypto (sounds creepy) blah blah blah understand the risk (I don’t, though.),” she tweeted. “I know you mean to help, but full disclosure: I’m only allowing myself alcohol at weekends during this lockdown and I’m on my fourth very strong Old Fashioned and honestly, you might as well send me a scroll written in Sanskrit.”

But wait! Rowling wasn’t done. After sarcastically noting that Bitcoin “doesn’t sound at all sinister,” and apparently genuinely writing that she has “far more chance of grasping it drunk,” Rowling appeared to have a revelation. 

“Finally, an explanation that makes sense,” she tweeted in response to an explanation seemingly ripped straight out of one of her pseudonymously written Robert Galbraith novels. 

“Imagine that something exists which doesn’t actually exist,” read the explanation from one ElPolloDiabloX. “That’s Bitcoin.”

Sure, why not. 

UFO sighting: Mystery blue UFO caught on Spanish TV sparks claims aliens are watching us

He said: “I took a screenshot and enlarged it. When I added contrast and shadow to it…it had other lights within it of different colours.

“What this tells me is that it was not a searchlight. Because a searchlight would have the same colour throughout, but it’s not.

“Also a searchlight would appear circular, this, however, appears like a disk seen from the side.”

Mr Waring said the UFO appeared close enough to the camera to give viewers a good look at its shape, speed and direction.

He dubbed the sighting “absolute proof” aliens are interested in Rome during the pandemic.