Last night, PBS FRONTLINE aired a new documentary about what happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant during the crucial first days of that crisis. Using amateur video shot during the earthquake and tsunami, interviews with power plant workers who were on the scene, and some astounding footage taken inside the power plant itself, the documentary is extremely powerful. It feels weird to say this, given the effect the meltdowns have had on Japan's energy situation and the lives of the people who lived and worked near the plant ... but it seems as though Fukushima could have been a lot worse. The documentary shows us the valiant risks taken by firemen and plant workers. It also shows us the moments where, in the midst of the Japanese government and utility company TEPCO doing a lot of things very wrong, individuals stepped up to make decisions that saved lives. Without those things, this would have been a very different (and much darker) story.
In about ten minutes, I'm going to be moderating a live Q&A with Dan Edge, the producer of Inside Japan's Nuclear Meltdown. I'll be asking him some questions about the story, and the process of filming a documentary like this. There will also be opportunities for you to ask Edge some questions, as well. (And I already know y'all are good at coming up with interview questions.)
You can follow along, or join in on the discussion, using the chat box embedded in this post. Hope to see you there!
Steve Moore, who identifies himself as a former FBI Special Agent and head of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force Al Qaeda squad, says that the TSA is useless. He says that they don't catch terrorists. He says they won't catch terrorists. He says that they can't catch terrorists. Oh, he also claims 35 years' piloting experience and a father was United's head of security and anti-hijacking SWAT training and experience.
Frankly, the professional experience I have had with TSA has frightened me. Once, when approaching screening for a flight on official FBI business, I showed my badge as I had done for decades in order to bypass screening. (You can be envious, but remember, I was one less person in line.) I was asked for my form which showed that I was armed. I was unarmed on this flight because my ultimate destination was a foreign country. I was told, "Then you have to be screened." This logic startled me, so I asked, "If I tell you I have a high-powered weapon, you will let me bypass screening, but if I tell you I'm unarmed, then I have to be screened?" The answer? "Yes. Exactly." Another time, I was bypassing screening (again on official FBI business) with my .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a TSA officer noticed the clip of my pocket knife. "You can't bring a knife on board," he said. I looked at him incredulously and asked, "The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don't trust me with a knife?" His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, "But knives are not allowed on the planes."...
The report goes on to state that the virtual strip search screening machines are a failure in that they cannot detect the type of explosives used by the “underwear bomber” or even a pistol used as a TSA’s own real-world test of the machines. Yet TSA has spent approximately $60 billion since 2002 and now has over 65,000 employees, more than the Department of State, more than the Department of Energy, more than the Department of Labor, more than the Department of Education, more than the Department of Housing and Urban Development---combined. TSA has become, according to the report, “an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy more concerned with……consolidating power.”
Each time the TSA is publically called to account for their actions, they fight back with fear-based press releases which usually begin with “At a time like this….” Or “Al Qaeda is planning—at this moment …..” The tactic, of course, is to throw the spotlight off the fact that their policies are doing nothing to make America safer “at a time like this.” Sometimes doing the wrong thing is just as bad as doing nothing.
[Video Link] I imagine OK Go will be giving these guys a call soon!
Quadrotors designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania perform the James Bond Theme by playing various instruments including the keyboard, drums and maracas, a cymbal, and the debut of an adapted guitar built from a couch frame. The quadrotors play this "couch guitar" by flying over guitar strings stretched across a couch frame; plucking the strings with a stiff wire attached to the base of the quadrotor. A special microphone attached to the frame records the notes made by the "couch guitar".
These flying quadrotors are completely autonomous, meaning humans are not controlling them; rather they are controlled by a computer programed with instructions to play the instruments.
Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to some of the most innovative robotics research on the planet, much of it coming out of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab.
This video premiered at the TED2012 Conference in Long Beach, California on February 29, 2012. Deputy Dean for Education and GRASP lab member Vijay Kumar presented some of this groundbreaking work at the TED2012 conference, an international gathering of people and ideas from technology, entertainment, and design.
Wyoming's legislature has defeated its House Bill 85, on third reading, thus ending the state's plan to investigate buying an aircraft carrier (and equipping a military) to defend the state should the USA collapse.
The 1964 NYC World's Fair is legendary -- birthplace of animatronics and Belgian waffles, the zenith of exuberant goofy corporate futurism and the beloved coming-of-age for millions who entered a modern world filled with promise. Documentarians are raising funds to produce "After the Fair," a doc featuring any amount of droolworthy archival footage of the great fair.
Videophones, space satellites, computers, color television. Today, these technologies are everywhere. For millions of people though, their first experience with these innovations came in Queens, at the 1964-65 World's Fair.
The fair also marked the debut of Belgian Waffles, and for many, the first foray into different cultures and ethnic foods.
In our documentary, we will travel the country to reveal the cultural, technological, and physical relics of the fair. We will travel to over 30 locations, with dozens of interviews looking at not only what the fair meant in 1964-65, but more importantly, what it means to all of today.
Our first teaser trailer gives you a taste of the wonderful archival fair footage we've found, along with our trek across the country to visit dozens of relics (and people) from the fair so far.
Bloomberg's Max Abelson takes us deep into the spectacle of members of Wall Street's 1% bemoaning their difficult straits as they struggle to make ends meet with their reduced bonuses. One doesn't know how he'll tell his children that they can't go to an exclusive private school anymore, another bemoans his mere 1200sqft New York apartment, and a third is gutted at the thought that he and his family no longer toss away the coupon circular that is left in their doorway -- now they glance at it!
“People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress,” said Alan Dlugash, a partner at accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron LLP in New York who specializes in financial planning for the wealthy. “Could you imagine what it’s like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?”
...“They have a circular that they leave in front of the buildings in our neighborhood,” said Arbeeny, 49, who lives in nearby Cobble Hill, namesake for a line of pebbled-leather Kate Spade handbags. “We sit there, and I look through all of them to find out where it’s worth going.”
...The malaise is shared by Schiff, the New York-based marketing director for Euro Pacific Capital, where his brother is CEO. His family rents the lower duplex of a brownstone in Cobble Hill, where his two children share a room. His 10-year- old daughter is a student at $32,000-a-year Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. His son, 7, will apply in a few years.
“I can’t imagine what I’m going to do,” Schiff said. “I’m crammed into 1,200 square feet. I don’t have a dishwasher. We do all our dishes by hand.”
Song Map is a new litho print by Dorothy. The Map is, as its name suggests, made up entirely from song titles: Highway to Hell stretches past Itchycoo Park, Heartbreak Hotel can be found on Alphabet Street and take a left off Penny Lane to find 22 Acacia Avenue. Just like places in our own neighbourhood, some are really good and some are best avoided - remember Love House by Sam Fox? Probably best forgotten.
The print, which was inspired by our own unhealthy obsession with music, is for the ultimate music nerd. It includes an A-Z of all the songs featured on the Map with the names of the artists and bands that sang them. Prints costs £20 each plus P & P and they are available to buy from www.wearedorothy.com/buy
We've set up a Playlist on Spotify to accompany the Map at http://spoti.fi/wzBFnp. This is a list of 353 of the featured songs that are available on Spotify. It's unedited so it includes some classics as well as some horrors! And one of the songs included on the Map is by a band one of us was in, but we’re not saying which one.
An inspiring call-to-arms from Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, founder of Tinker London:
This should be a golden age for UK manufacturing. People are making things everywhere at various scales. In Hackspaces, studios, universities, at home, in their sheds. This is a nation on tinkerers after all. People are coming up with an idea using an Arduino, building a prototype, redesigning the electronics using Fritzing going to Tinkercad to build a box for the prototype. Then they will have the box made by a Makerbot, Ponoko, RazorLab, i-Materialise, Shapeways or other rapid prototyping manufacturers around the world who understand their users want to click a “upload” button and have something sent to them in the post.
That is a different kind of customer for UK manufacturing. It is a digitally-empowered one and to understand him/her, the industry has to adapt. Once that customer has a product they are happy with, they will look for funding through Kickstarter or sell their product online through Etsy or Folsky. (Most of these digital services were not developed in the UK, I hasten to add.)
Michael Geist sez, "The Canadian music industry is scheduled to appear before a Parliamentary committee today with some of the most radical demands to date that would effectively create liability for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, and video sites such as Google, Facebook and Reddit. As if that were not enough, the industry is also calling for a new iPod tax, an extension in the term of copyright, a removal of protections for user generated content, parody, and satire, as well as an increase in statutory damage awards. Taken together, the Canadian music industry demands make SOPA look like minor tinkering with the law."
Lamar Smith (R-TX), author of the ill-starred SOPA Internet regulation, has an even dumber idea for the Internet. In the name of fighting child pornography, he wants to force ISPs to log everything you do online, then make it available to police and government agents without a warrant. Leslie Meredith has a writeup on the mounting opposition to Smith's latest act of unconstitutional lunacy:
However, under Smith’s bill, records of both suspects and ordinary citizens would all be available to any government agency at any time, no warrant required.
"This type of legislation goes against the fundamental values of our country where individuals are treated as innocent until proven guilty," Reitman said. "H.R. 1981 would uproot this core American principle, forcing ISPs to treat everyone like a potential criminal."
The bill has been forwarded from committee to the full House of Representatives for consideration, which is expected later this year. There is no sign of a Senate version at this time.
If the past is any indicator, Smith may be in for a hard fight with activists. He was also sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill that would have shut off access to foreign websites accused of hosting pirated content. But he was forced to withdraw the legislation after massive protests by many of the same opponents who likewise thought the remedy was too harsh for the problem.
Celer is an experimental/minimalist ambient duo founded in Southern California in 2005 by Will Long and Danielle Baquet-Long at the start of their romantic relationship. For several years, the couple released more than a dozen very limited edition recordings in handmade packaging. Tragically, Baquet-Long died of congenital heart failure in 2009. Long continues to release recordings they had made during their all-too-short time together. Evaporate and Wonder is the latest, now available from Experimedia, and it's stunning. Celer: Evaporate and Wonder
My sister-in-law Heather Sparks just returned from the Bruise Cruise Festival, a rock and roll weekend cruise from Miami to the Bahamas. Judging from the video above and Heather's report to me, the Bruise Cruise is, well, exactly what you'd think: hundreds of indie hipsters, loud music, and debauchery on the open seas. Performers included the likes of Fucked Up, Thee Oh Sees, Quintron, and Jello Biafra. Wait, Jello Biafra? Heather says:
Yes, Jello Biafra was definitely on the boat. I met him at the stir fry station before we even set sail. We were on a ship that held about 2,000 squares. But, along with these bloated and borings, were 500 Bruise Cruisers; whacked out-rock n’ rollers with tattooed bodies, vintage bikinis, gaudy accessories, enormous appetites for enormous cans of Foster’s, and irrepressible enthusiasm for boogying, jiving, and jacuzzi jumping. King Kahn was our God, and the Xanadu Lounge was our temple. I will definitely be going back.
The Disaster Preparedness Plan prepared by the local DHS for Union County NC explains what steps you should take if you have to evacuate and take your pet fish: "Your name and where you will be located should be on an ID tag and taped to the fish bowl. This should include your description of all your fish and pictures of them with you in the pictures for identification purposes."
At Penny Arcade Report, Ben Kuchera reports on Cross Assault. A "fighting game" reality show sponsored by Capcom, creator of the classic Street Fighter game series, it was a disaster of sexual harassment, casual racism and adolescent nastiness.
Aris Bakhtanians, the coach of the Tekken team ... stated that sexual harassment and the fighting game community are “one and the same thing.”
“The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community… it doesn’t make sense to have that attitude. These things have been established for years,” Aris stated. He then noted that ... it’s unfair for anyone to tell fighting game fans they can’t viciously mock women.
“That’s what you’re trying to do to the fighting game community and it’s not right,” Aris continued. “It’s ethically wrong.” This may be the first time in the history of video games that someone had said that removing sexual harassment is ethically unjust.
The Street Fighter series is a world tour of crude national and ethnic stereotypes to beat up—what exactly do we expect? The really insane thing is Capcom's cluelessness trying to sell the ass end of gaming culture as television.