How to prepare fugu, the deadly poisonous pufferfish of Japan's sushi lore

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In this video we meet Yutaka Sasaki, a chef who prepares fugu, a fish that contains a lethal neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin.

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How to identify any language at a glance

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Professional word taster James Harbeck shows you how to identify different languages by identifying the unique characters they use.

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Bans on sketching in museums

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Artist James Gurney (creator of Dinotopia) explains why the Victoria and Albert Museum's decision to ban sketching in the special exhibition Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear stinks.

[B]anning sketching seems like an unfortunate policy. Museums should recognize the importance of sketching as a primary way that artists engage with the tradition. Rather than forbidding sketching altogether, it seems more reasonable to limit large drawing boards, easels, paints, sitting on the floor, or otherwise blocking visitors flowing through high-traffic exhibitions.

I think that sketching with pencil in a sketchbook 9 x 12 inches or smaller should be allowed anywhere. I'm not aware of any museum limiting note-taking with a pencil and a pad of paper. School kids routinely go through museums with clipboards. I see no reason to forbid sketching if it's done in neat, dry media in a hand-held pad.

Let's remember that many art museums began as extensions of art academies. Too many art museums these days think of themselves as extensions of the gift shop

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The excruciating process of applying for unemployment on a Kafkaesque Massachusetts state website

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When Jennie Rose Halperin left her job as a product engagement manager and researcher last month, she applied for unemployment benefits via Massachusetts Department of Unemployment website. She says, "I soon learned that a masters degree in Information Science and several years of work on systems and usability could not prepare me for the excruciating process of applying for unemployment in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

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Mississippi will not add domestic violence as grounds for divorce

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Mississippi has 12 grounds for divorce, including impotency, adultery, habitual drunkenness and incurable mental illness. But a bill that would have added domestic violence to the list died in the senate last week. Read the rest

Flip open a butterfly knife like a gentleman bastard

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In the latest episode of Scam School's Modern Rogue, Brian Brushwood and Jason Murphy show you how to open a butterfly knife without losing your fingers. Amazon sells trainer butterfly knives with dull blades, which is a good way to practice. Read the rest

Great way to store food: wide mouth mason jars and plastic caps

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For years we've been storing leftover food and drinks in wide mouth mason jars sealed with plastic caps. It's inexpensive and convenient. A 12-pack of Ball 16oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars costs $8.47 on Amazon and an 8-pack of Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps costs $5.32. So, each container cost about $1.40.

Carla stores cold brew coffee in them. When its time to drink one, she adds a little halfs and half, stirs it up and it's ready to consume. Read the rest

Good, inexpensive loose-leaf black tea

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A couple of weeks ago I complained about buying 1.7 ounces of Teavana English breakfast tea for $9 ($5.20 per ounce). I wanted to try a cheap loose leaf English breakfast tea so I ordered a 32 ounce bag of Coffee Bean Direct English Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea on Amazon for $28 ($0.88 per ounce).

I have been drinking it for a few days and I like it at least as much as the Teavana - strong and flavorful and not at all bitter. This two-pound bag is a bargain. At 6 grams per cup, it'll make 150 cups ($0.19 a cup).

I'm sure I'm doing it wrong - but here is how I have been preparing it:

10 ounces boiling water

6 grams loose leaf tea

Steep for 5 minutes.

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Ted Cruz: 'America has always been best when she is lying down with her back on the mat'

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. [Reuters]

Whatever you say, Ted.

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Nebraska just abolished civil forfeiture

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Crooked cops and prosecutors in Nebraska are gnashing their teeth today. The state has taken away their license to steal cash and property from innocent people and use the proceeds to fatten their bloated budgets.

In some states where civil forfeiture is still allowed, high ranking police officers drive in luxury sports cars taken from owners who were never arrested for a crime.

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A bright solar powered light for outdoor walls

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We live on a street with no streetlights and it gets very dark at night. People who come to our house at night have trouble seeing things. I bought one of these $24 solar powered motion sensor lights with a 20-LED array and PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor and mounted (hardware included) it on a 12-foot wood column at the far end of the driveway. Lucky for me, the solar panel is facing the south so the batteries get a good dose of juice every day.

It works really well. When a car or person enters the driveway at night, the light comes on and throws surprisingly wide coverage. The light is so bright that it hurts to look directly at the lED array. The back of the unit has a 3-mode switch. You can set it to turn on and stay on when it gets dark (in one of two brightness levels) or to turn on only when it detects motion (the setting I use). People on Amazon say the batteries run down in 11 hours if you set it on the dim mode, and 2 hours in bright mode.

Update: Boing Boing reader Joe Stirt recommends this 32 LED model, which also costs $24:

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Fans of podcasts to gather at Radiotopia Live in Los Angeles, Wed. May 4, 2016

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I hope to see you at Radiotopia Live at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, Wed, May 4, 2016. Many of my favorite podcasters will be there.

Radiotopia Live brings your favorite podcasts out of your headphones and onto the stage for one night only. Join Radiotopia shows: 99% Invisible, Criminal, Song Exploder, The Memory Palace, Strangers, Mortified, Radio Diaries, The Kitchen Sisters, Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything and The Allusionist for an unforgettable evening of performances, conversations and music.

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An interview with Beverly Cleary about her inspiring books for children

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[Beverly Cleary is 100 years old today. Here's an entry I posted in 2006 about an NPR interview with the great children's book author.--Mark]

I'm over a month behind in listening to podcasts, so I just got around to listening to this NPR interview with Beverly Cleary. She just turned 90, and her mental acuity is better than most people half her age.

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Tear-by-hand packing tape

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I've switched over to exclusively using tear-by-hand packing tape ($6 for a 50-foot roll on Amazon). No scissors or skin-abrading dispenser needed - just pull off what you need and tear across the tape. It's more expensive than ordinary packing tape, but I don't mind. A true wonder material of the modern age. Read the rest

Big gallery of the Great San Francisco Earthquake

The Atlantic has a photo gallery of the Great San Francisco Earthquake from 1906:

110 years ago next week, on April 18, 1906, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centered near the city of San Francisco struck at 5:15 AM. The intense shaking toppled hundreds of buildings, but the resulting out-of-control fires were even more destructive. Broken water mains and limited firefighting capabilities allowed city-wide fires to burn for several days. Nearly 500 city blocks were leveled, with more than 25,000 buildings destroyed. At the time, the city was home to more than 400,000 residents—after the disaster, 250,000 were left homeless. The exact death toll is undetermined, but most estimates place the number of deaths caused by the earthquake and fire at more than 3,000.

Watch it full screen.

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Why are people trolls and what can we do about it?

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Adrienne Lafrance's story in The Atlantic about online harassment is an excellent, thought-provoking read. She describes her online conversation with someone who sent a mean tweet to her:

Finally, I asked him if I should have even responded to him at all. His responses were fascinating to me, but was the exchange worthwhile for him?

“Absolutely,” he wrote. “I'm pretty embarrassed by how I acted and being called out on it was extremely helpful. I definitely need to more often step back and think a bit more before. I usually do; sometimes I fail.”

The exchange felt to me like a tiny victory for civility in the Internet age, but it probably doesn’t make sense to try to change the world one commenter at a time. Not only is that approach mentally exhausting, but it’s potentially dangerous. Before I even responded to the man who had insulted me, I scrolled through his tweets to be sure he didn’t seem unhinged. I chatted with coworkers who had seen his tweet. I proceeded with caution. And besides all that, the kinds of tweets and comments that can be considered harassment are in an entirely different, much scarier category than what I faced.

“When we think about problems of harassment or conflict, the overwhelming way we think is to consider ways to deal with that specific conflict, that specific troll and that specific person—and that often leads us to think about reactive responses, things that we can do after we spot something happening,” Matias, the MIT scholar told me.

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Smart mattress alerts you when your partner cheats on you

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The Smartress is a mattress with embedded sensors that will send an alert to your phone "whenever someone is using your bed in a questionable way," according the manufacturer, Durmet.

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