Bone conduction MP3 player in a grill

Aisen Caro Chacin released this "Play-A-Grill," a homemade hip-hop grill with a built-in MP3 player that conveys sound via bone conduction.

Miguel Bloombito: the incredible Spanish of Michael Bloomberg

The @ElBloombito Twitter account is a running -- and hilarious -- sendup of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's terrible Spanish. Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams profiled Rachel Figueroa-Levin, the mastermind behind the account.

In the past two days, El Bloombito’s pidgin Español Twitter stream has been a balm to disaster-scarred New Yorkers, a bracingly funny respite from the ravages of Sandy. Prior to the storm, it was Bloombito who warned New Yorkers, “Cuidado! El stormo somos about to que vamos el lañdfall! Batteño los hatches!” and “Por favor to remaiño insidero until notice de furthero. Peligroso!” Afterward, it was Bloombito who reminded, “El floodo agua esta still todos los everywhere. Necesitos los gearo de scuba y el flipper!”

Speaking to Salon while her toddler daughter takes a post-Sandy afternoon nap, Figueroa-Levin says El Bloombito originally “gave me something to do while I was stuck inside” during Irene. As it happened, the account attracted an instant following — and the attention of Mike Bloomberg himself — who admitted last year that “Es difícil para aprender un nuevo idioma.”

“I don’t know why he does it,” Figueroa-Levin says. “Not that my Spanish is that fantastic, but I live in a neighborhood where it’s common. I grew up hearing it. I’m Puerto Rican. And I don’t know who he thinks he’s talking to. In fact, last year I had an elderly Dominican neighbor tell me he thought Bloomberg was Italian.”

Meet the woman behind “El Bloombito” (via Making Light) Read the rest

Britain's free press cringes in anticipation of coming regulation; plutocrats and oligarchs celebrate

Writing in The Spectator, Kirsty Walker describes the chilling effect the UK's Leveson Inquiry (which is investigating illegal phone/email interception and systematic harassment by UK papers, especially tabloids) is having on legitimate reporting. The UK is already the best place in the world for rich and powerful people who want to use libel law to silence unflattering accounts of their actions. But with Leveson heading for its conclusion and the spectre of official press regulation (through which the government would license reporters and news outlets, and could remove those licenses at will), reporters and their editors are under increasing pressure from the world's dictators and local plutocrats.

Before the Leveson inquiry, I had received less than a dozen PCC complaints in my career and never had one upheld. But when I left, complaints were coming in at a rate of at least one a month. All required mini-investigations. Even foreign dictatorships know how to frighten Fleet Street. The last complaint I was asked to deal with was from a dictator, the King of Bahrain, who didn’t like the way I referred to criticism of his regime following the deaths of 40 people in anti-government protests.

Like 99.99 per cent of British journalists, I never hacked a phone or bribed a public official. During my long career in the House of Commons, I tried my utmost to be fair. If a story didn’t quite stack up, I would abandon it. A small handful of journalists did hire private investigators to do some horrific things, but there are laws in this country to deal with them.

Read the rest

Deconstructing Sandy

Yesterday, I got to have a great conversation on Minnesota Public Radio's The Daily Circuit. Host Tom Webber and I spent a good 45 minutes talking about Hurricane Sandy, climate change, and why it's so hard to talk about the connections between the two in an easily digestible, sound-bite format. In the meantime, he might have gotten some good sound bites out of me. Read the rest

Gweek 074: Lost at Sea with Jon Ronson

David and I spoke with Jon Ronson about his new book, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries. Jon is the author of several first-person narrative books that David and I love: Them: Adventures with Extremists, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, and The Men Who Stare at Goats, (which was made into a movie by George Clooney). If you are unfamiliar with Jon's work I recommend that you get your hands on every book he's written.

Lost at Sea collects 22 Guardian articles Jon's written over the years, and they are fascinating portraits of people and groups a few standard deviations away from the middle of the normalcy bell curve.

Subjects include: Insane Clown Posse and their announcement that they are born-again Christians who have encoded secret messages in their songs for the last decade, the billionaire transgender woman who invented satellite radio and her attempt to create a lifelike robot of her partner, the culture of Indigo Children, a British pop star's fascination with UFOs and aliens abductions, the contents of Stanley Kubrik's archival boxes, the tiny town of North Pole, Alaska, where Christmas is celebrated 365 days a year and where a group of high school students were caught trying to duplicate the Columbine high school massacre, a profile of Neuro-linguistic Programming co-creator Richard Bandler, a Children of God offshoot that donates kidneys as part of their religious practice, a profile of psychic Sylvia Browne, and many more stories. I was enthralled by every one. Read the rest

Secret bookcase doors Tumblr

Everything About Secret Bookcase Doors is a Tumblr that does exactly what it says on the tin. This is pure awesome. Image here from Stashvault

Everything About Secret Bookcase Doors (via Bookshelf) Read the rest

The Shaggy DA: Star Wars edition

Josh Wood put together this delightful Shaggy DA Disney/Star Wars mashup in honor of the companies' merger. He notes: "Also on the docket: maybe a Pete's Dragon poster with Yoda as the Dragon? R2D2 as Herbie?" Read the rest

Flying dino over Boston

On Retronaut, Arthur Pollock's 1984 photo, "Delivering a dinosaur to the Boston Museum of Science." Pollock has a book, too.

Delivering a dinosaur to the Boston Museum of Science Read the rest

IMDB's top 250 movies mashed into a 2.5m clip

Jonathan Keogh's "IMDB Top 250 in 2 1/2 Minutes" is a masterful mix, and a lovely tribute to popular film.

Merck halts shipments of key cancer drug to Greece

The German pharmaceuticals maker Merck will no longer deliver the cancer drug Erbitux to Greek hospitals, according to a statement from the company today. The drug also known as cetuximab is often used for patients with head and neck cancers. The move to halt distribution is a sign of a worsening economic and budget crisis, and its impact on critical services including care for cancer patients. (thanks, Gerrit) Read the rest

NOLA to New York

Katrina survivors talk to New York.

Million Puppet March to support public broadcasting in America

A puppet march to support public broadcasting has its own theme song.

Radio Police Automaton

Here's a miraculous Radio Police Automaton from the May, 1924 issue of Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention. It will be useful for dispersing mobs, and for war. Note the built-in tear-gas tank. Also the "loud-speaker used to shout orders to the mob." Mr Gernsback notes, "They will be well-nigh irresistible."

There's something decidedly pre-Ewok about this design and the bold claims of irresistibility.

Gernsback Radio Police Automaton (via Wil Wheaton) Read the rest

Twitter planning to add annoying photo-filters to compete with Instagram's annoying photo-filters

Great news, you guys! Soon, you'll be able to tweet iPhone or Android snapshots of your sandwich in sepia, without even having to download Instagram. Nick Bilton at the NYT got the scoop. Read the rest

Energy emergency: Sandy profiteers sell gas, generators at predatory prices on post-apocalypse Craigslist

Gas supplies remain extremely limited in New York and New Jersey, nearly a week after hurricane Sandy, and the power's still out for many in those states and others, such as nearby Connecticut.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed an executive order announcing a state of energy emergency and instituting gas rationing for the purchase of fuel by motorists in 12 counties, starting today at noon.

Make way for price-gouging entrepreneurs!

Try this, to get a taste of how bad it is: search for "gasoline," "gas," or "generator" on NY Craigslist right now. Gas sales I've found on Craigslist range from $5 to $20 a gallon, but there are probably ads at higher prices. My favorite was the 55-gallon drum of gas for a thousand bucks. Unleaded! Cash only, folks.

Not only is this exploitative, it's explosive. A black market of gasoline reselling, without appropriate safety measures, seems to me like a recipe for tragedy.

Read the rest

Report: Black mother who sought help as sons drowned during Sandy was denied

Two brothers, ages 2 and 4, were swept away Monday night when waves of water crashed into an SUV driven by their mom in Staten Island. They were later found dead. A story now emerging: their mother, who is black, went door to door begging for help—and was turned away. (via Steve Silberman) Read the rest

Caturday: mushroom edition

Four cats, four mushrooms.

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