This Car Vending Machine in China Is Free—But Only If You Have a High "Social Credit Score"


China's "social credit system" is just beginning to take shape, and it's already led to side effects that would feel natural in dystopian fiction. As The Verge reports, Ford and Alibaba have teamed up to open a multi-level, cat-themed car vending machine that allows users to test-drive a car for free—but only if they have a high social credit score, based on their government-assigned reputation.

The site, dubbed the "Super Test-Drive Center," is located in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Customers with a social credit score of 700 or higher can use the Tmall app to select the car they wish to test drive, put down a deposit, schedule a time for pick-up, and submit a selfie so they can access the center later via facial recognition. After verifying their identity, the unmanned structure dispenses the car from one of the levels. Drivers can use the vehicle for up to three days and return it to get their deposit back with zero cost to them.

Customers with a social credit score that dips below 700, however, don't receive the same offer. Unlike a credit score in the U.S., which is an assessment of financial behavior, China's system measures a citizen based on personal behaviors from their everyday life. Failing to show up to a restaurant without canceling a reservation, playing video games for too long, and jaywalking can all damage someone's social credit. On a broader scale, this could hurt their chances at buying a home or getting a job, but in the case of the Super Test-Drive Center, it means they'll have to pay a fee to take out a vehicle.

As The Verge points out, the whole operation is reminiscent of a Black Mirror episode, complete with a cutesy cartoon character serving as the face of it. If the car vending machine concept takes off, there are other places that could serve as the model: Carvana in Nashville, for example, uses a coin-op gimmick that feels more 1950s than 1984.

[h/t The Verge]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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No Squawking, Please: A Backyard Bird Library Is the Star of This Livestream

Bird Library, YouTube
Bird Library, YouTube

Many people discovered backyard birding when they were quarantined in their homes at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if you have a vibrant wildlife population in your area, the Bird Library webcam is worth checking out. As Atlas Obscura reports, the bird feeder at the focus of the livestream resembles a tiny library where feathered guests can misbehave.

Librarian Rebecca Flowers and woodworker Kevin Cwalina were inspired to build the Bird Library in 2015. Located in a backyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, it features a miniature reading chair, bookshelves, and a reception desk. The decorations are even updated to match the seasons; the feeder currently sports a banner that says "Summer Reading." The main differences setting it apart from a real library are the bird seed scattered on the floor and the avian visitors.

The Bird Library attracts a diverse collection of patrons. Sparrows, cardinals, and mourning doves have been recorded perching on the librarian's desk and checking out the reading materials. The occasional squirrel has also been known to stop by.

Live video of the feeder streams on the Bird Library's YouTube page and website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can play the video below to check in on the current guests. If the backyard Bird Library has inspired you to find birds closer to home, here's some gear for beginner naturalists.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]