Man must remove fish pond from backyard because intruders might be injured

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Kevin Sheehan, a koi enthusiast in the UK, has been ordered by the local housing association to remove the fish pond in his backyard.

A spokesman for Sovereign Housing said: "This is not about burglars, this is about making sure our homes are safe places for our residents and any visitors to the property. We're also liable if someone does trespass on the property." Read the rest

Straddling buses would only work if they were made out of rubber

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Chinese engineer Song Youzhou has been trying to get traction for his straddling bus, a huge elevated bus that goes over, rather than through, traffic, since 2010. Read the rest

Rich people don't move when their taxes go up

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In Millionaire Migration and the Taxation of the Elite: Evidence from Administrative Data, Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young builds on his substantial research on "millionaire migration," to show that only a small minority of millionaires move when local taxes go up -- far too few to represent a net loss to the tax coffers. Read the rest

Wealthy families are most responsible for American wealth segregation

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Inequality in Children’s Contexts, USC Sociologist Ann Owens's paper in American Sociological Review (Scihub mirror), investigates the factors that contribute most to the unequal lives of wealthy and poor American children, and concludes that the single most significant factor is the neighborhood that the children's parents live in. Read the rest

Scary video of "pyroclastic flow" chasing a screaming man in Japan

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In 1991 the dome of the Unzen Volcano in Japan collapsed. This video captures the pyroclastic flow. The running guy's scream is more chilling than the Wilhelm scream.

From Wikipedia:

A pyroclastic flow is a fast-moving current of hot gas and rock (collectively known as tephra), which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h (450 mph).[2] The gas can reach temperatures of about 1,000 °C (1,830 °F). Pyroclastic flows normally hug the ground and travel downhill, or spread laterally under gravity. Their speed depends upon the density of the current, the volcanic output rate, and the gradient of the slope. They are a common and devastating result of certain explosive volcanic eruptions.

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Someone just snuck warrantless email access into the Senate's secret intelligence bill

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Every year, the Senate passes a secret bill (that is, a bill whose text is a secret during its debate) that re-authorizes intelligence agencies' surveillance powers; this year, someone (possibly chairman Richard Burr, R-NC and/or Tom Cotton, R-AR) has snuck in an amendment that would give the FBI the power to demand warrantless access to Americans' email and browsing history, using National Security Letters, a controversial, widely used secret police order. Read the rest

Why some people get "skin orgasms" from listening to music

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When you get goosebumps from listening to music, it's called a frisson (pronounced free-sawn), which means "aesthetic chills." About two-thirds of the population feels frisson. Music is the most common trigger, but so is "beautiful artwork, watching a particularly moving scene in a movie, or having physical contact with another person."

From Konstruktor:

[T]he results of our study show that it’s the cognitive components of 'Openness to Experience' – such as making mental predictions about how the music is going to unfold or engaging in musical imagery (a way of processing music that combines listening with daydreaming) – that are associated with frisson to a greater degree than the emotional components.

These findings, recently published in the journal Psychology of Music, indicate that those who intellectually immerse themselves in music (rather than just letting it flow over them) might experience frisson more often and more intensely than others.

And if you’re one of the lucky people who can feel frisson, the frisson Reddit group has identified Lady Gaga's rendition of the 'Star-Spangled Banner' at the 2016 Super Bowl, and a fan-made trailer for the original Star Wars trilogy, as especially chill-inducing.The Conversation

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Wells Fargo, who preyed on black borrowers, sponsors Black Lives Matter luncheon

Wells Fargo has been widely criticized for its predatory, deceptive practice of targeting black mortgage borrowers with subprime mortgages (whose teaser rates ballooned into unsustainable long-term rates after a few years), rather than offering those borrowers much cheaper and better mortgages that would not have led to widespread bankruptcy, foreclosure, and the destruction of hardworking families' live savings. Read the rest

DDoSers sell attacks for $5 on Fivver

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Many years ago, EFF co-founder John Gilmore and I were discussing the prevalence of botnets, which are commonly used to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm websites with floods of traffic; John said that if the botnets were really on the rise at the reported rate, we should expect to see a massive crash in the price of DDoS services, following simple supply/demand logic. Read the rest

Animated figures stroll on real piano keyboard in MIT's musical learning system demo

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A lovely demo by MIT researchers Xiao Xiao and Hiroshi Ishi of Andante, a system for interactive music learning:

Andante visualizes as animated characters walking along the piano keyboard that appear to play the physical keys with each step. Based on a view of music pedagogy that emphasizes expressive, full-body communication early in the learning process, Andante promotes an understanding of the music rooted in the body, taking advantage of walking as one of the most fundamental human rhythms.

More in their research papers (PDF):

Andante: Walking Figures on the Piano Keyboard to Visualize Musical Motion (NIME 2014)

• Inspect, Embody, Invent: A Design Framework for Music Learning and Beyond (CHI 2016)

Read the rest

What I learned after spending two days with futurists and positive psychologists

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I wish Scott Barry Kaufman had been my college professor. Scott told me that he gives extra credit for daydreaming in his classes. That would have been an easy A for a space-case like me.

Scott is the scientific director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The Imagination Institute’s mission is to “make progress on the measurement, growth, and improvement of imagination across all sectors of society.” One of the ways it’s doing this is by conducting retreats with different groups of people — such as educators, evolutionary psychologists, standup comedians, and futurists — to learn how they use their imaginations in their work.

In May 2016, I participated in The Imagination Institute’s two day “futurists retreat,” held at Institute for the Future’s Palo Alto headquarters, where I’m a research director. I arrived on Tuesday and met the other participants. Leading the retreat along with Scott was Jane McGonigal, IFTF’s director of game research and development. Jane’s a game designer and author of two New York Times best-selling books about self-development though imagination, creativity, and play. We were joined by IFTF staffers Tessa Finlev, Dylan Hendricks, Sarah Smith, and Kathi Vian, along with futurists Stuart Candy and Jamais Cascio, Imagination Institute’s Elizabeth Hyde, and James W. Hovey of the Eisenhower Fellowships.

What follows is my account of the retreat, and the five memorable insights I gleaned from the experience. Read the rest

Heimlich Maneuver developer, 96, saved a life with his own technique for the first time

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Developer of the Heimlich Maneuver, Henry Heimlich, now 96, used his anti-choking technique for the first time to save a person's life. The Cincinnati, Ohio physician was in the dining room of his retirement home when another resident, Patty Ris, age 87, choked on a piece of hamburger. Heimlich successfully dislodged it and Ris was fine.

"When I used it, and she recovered quickly, it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives," Heimlich told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

From the Heimlich Institute, here's how to do the Heimlich Maneuver for choking adults:

• From behind, wrap your arms around the victim's waist. • Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim's upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel. • Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands. • Repeat until object is expelled.

And for choking infants:

Lay the child down, face up, on a firm surface and kneel or stand at the victim's feet, or hold infant on your lap facing away from you. Place the middle and index fingers of both your hands below his rib cage and above his navel. Press into the victim's upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust; do not squeeze the rib cage. Be very gentle. Repeat until object is expelled.

If the Victim has not recovered, proceed with CPR.

Read the rest

Meet the composer of the Seinfeld theme

Vintage interview with Jonathan Wolff, composer of the iconic Seinfeld theme (and music for Caroline in the City, Full House, Saved by the Bell, and many other shows).

"I started with (Seinfeld's) voice... and took a meter from his delivery, and made that the tempo of the Seinfeld Theme," Wolff says.

Read the rest

Brett Loudermilk teaches sword swallowing

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Last weekend, at Beyond Brookledge, I had a chance to hang out with actor, comedian, and proud sword swallower Brett Loudermilk! Brett is a high energy, fantastic performer with a pretty intense sense of irony. He keeps me laughing.

I'll keep my magic to card tricks, but if you want to learn to swallow a sword... Read the rest

Glow-in-the-Dark Lo-Pan and other Big Trouble in Little China action figures

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"When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: 'Have ya paid your dues, Jack?' 'Yessir, the check is in the mail.'"

These Funko Pop action figures are great! You can even buy a glow in the dark Lo-Pan.

I like the Gracie Law figure, but I'm sure some of you will want the three storms, and of course the lovable Jack Burton.

May the wings of liberty never lose a feather!

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China-Jack Burton Action Figure via Amazon

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China-Gracie Law Action Figure via Amazon

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China - Lo Pan Action Figure via Amazon

Funko POP Movies: Big Trouble in Little China - Glow-in-the-Dark Lo Pan Action Figure via Amazon Read the rest

Anonymous Analytics: self-proclaimed Anon "faction" that tanks companies through stock reports

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Anonymous Analytics describes itself as "a faction of Anonymous" that uses its "unique skills to expose fraud and corruption among public companies." Read the rest

Scott Walker, saddled with $1.2m debt from failed presidential bid, pawns his own donors

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Wisconsin Governor and balanced-budget hawk Scott Walker's failed bid for the GOP presidential candidacy left him with $1.2 million in debt. Read the rest

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