No one harmed in Whac-a-Mole/Rock-a-Fire band warehouse explosion

Thankfully, no humans were harmed by last week's explosion in Aaron Fechter's warehouse in Orlando, FL, but it did leave "robots scattered around burning rubble."

Fechter invented both the Whac-a-Mole machine and the animatronic, coin-operated Rock-A-Fire robot musicians who delighted audiences in Chuck-E-Cheeses around the world. Lately, he had been experimenting with carbohydrillium, a cleaner-burning alternative to propane, which was apparently the culprit in yesterday's explosion. His warehouse was described by one witness as a "Joker's lair," and a video tour posted to YouTube shows it full of computer models, animatronic creatures, and carbohydrillium gear.

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Airplane collides with car

2012 was a terrifying year for Russian dashcam videos, but the badness reaches its peak on Dec 29, with this footage of a plane disintegrating crosswise to busy highway traffic. Cory

Shopping mall shark-tank ruptures


Shanghai's Orient shopping centre experienced disaster on Dec 18 when a huge aquarium filled with lemon-sharks, turtles and fish ruptured, hurting 16 people and killing three sharks and "dozens of turtles and small fish." The tank's failure was blamed on a combination of cold temperatures and substandard materials.

Aquarium bursts in shopping centre in Shanghai (via JWZ)

BP will admit crimes, pay $4.5 billion in Gulf spill settlement

British oil company BP today announced it will pay $4.5 billion "in fines and other payments to the government," and plead guilty to 14 criminal charges resulting from the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago. How much of that do you imagine will make it to the poor and working-class families whose homes, bodies, and lives were damaged or destroyed by the toxic disaster?

Here is BP's statement. Coverage here in the New York Times, and here in the LA Times.

Via @meghangordon, an interesting footnote: The National Academy of Sciences gets $350 million of the BP settlement to study human health and environmental protection in the Gulf of Mexico.

Boing Boing's BP spill archives are here.

Image, via NYT: The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that was connected to a well owned by BP killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of oil. (photo: US Coast Guard)

Can Sandy victims sue power companies for extended outages?

Short version: yes, but it's not easy. "To win, New York ratepayers have to show that their power company was not just slow or inefficient. Instead, Kreppein said, under a 1985 New York Court of Appeals ruling called Strauss v. Belle Realty, electric company customers must establish that the utility was grossly negligent — that its conduct was way outside the bounds of reasonableness." Alison Frankel at Reuters.

I still love New York, the t-shirt

"I Still Love NY" shirt by Sebastian Errazuriz. Available at Grey Area. 100% of proceeds go to Sandy Relief. Photo by Clayton Cubitt.

After Sandy, on election day: photographs by Kate Black

Belle Harbor, Rockaway, November 6th, 2012. Kate Black.

Kate Black has been volunteering in post-Sandy recovery efforts in the Rockaways and other areas surrounding NYC where people lost power, homes, and belongings in the storm. She has also been photographing the people and places she encounters. Above, one of many images captured on Election Day.

Portraits of devastation in Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy: Charles le Brigand

Stéphane Missier, aka Charles le Brigand, has been photographing people and scenes in and around New York City in the week following Hurricane Sandy.

Engineers warned of storm surge threat to NYC in 2009

“Scientists and engineers were saying years before Katrina happened, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen, folks. Stop putting your head in the sand.” —Malcolm Bowman, professor of oceanography at the State University at Stony Brook. In 2009, he and other experts convened at a meeting in NYC of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and issued warnings that surge barriers or tide gates would help protect. Read more in James Glanz and Mireya Navarro's NYT report.

In post-Sandy "dewatering" mission, Army engineers drain one Olympic-sized pool's worth of water per minute

In an Army Corps of Engineers press release, details on the astounding rate at which workers are draining water from New York's subway and transit tunnels: "To date, the USACE has used about 50 pumps of various sizes to remove 64 million gallons of water from the New York City mass transit system. Operations are ongoing at six sites, with pumps removing about 116,000 gallons per minute. The 696,000 gallons the pumps are draining each minute exceeds the amount of water in one Olympic-size swimming pool (660,000 gallons). There were roughly 600 million gallons in the tunnels when pumping operations began on Thursday, Nov. 1." (via Noah Shachtman).

NOLA to New York

Andy Kopsa created the "Nola to New York" tumblr during Hurricane Sandy. The idea: Katrina survivors talk to New Yorkers suffering after the storm.

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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.

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How Victoria's Secret saved the National Guard from Hurricane Sandy

Why do we love Noah Shachtman and Wired's Danger Room blog? Because they break very important stories like this:

On Monday night, Hurricane Sandy hit the armory of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, leaving the soldiers without power, hot water, or anything but the most rudimentary means of communicating with the outside world. So the next morning, the Regiment’s officers made an emergency plea — to the producers of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

As they had done for the last three years running, the lingerie company was holding its annual television event at the Regiment’s historic armory, located at 25th street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For the show, the producers had hauled in eight massive 500 kilowatt generators. Of course, the producers said, we’d be happy to help. Hours later, the lights flashed back on.

“We were dead in the water until Victoria’s Secret showed up,” says Capt. Brendan Gendron, the Regiment’s operations officer.

You'll want to read the rest at Wired.com.

Gasoline shortage makes Sandy recovery harder for NYC

Snip from a New York Times update on the Sandy recovery in New York and New Jersey, and the impact of limited gas supplies on rescue and emergency services:

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Downtown After Sandy: Walking 3 miles in blacked-out NYC, the night after the storm

Boing Boing pal Joe Sabia, who collaborates with us on the Boing Boing Virgin America in-flight TV channel and is a talented director—and a resident of New York's Little Italy neighborhood!—shot and edited this amazing video.

"Walking 3 miles from Mulberry Street to Grand Central on the night after Hurricane Sandy," Joe explains. "Everything south of 38th street was dark."

Observations:

1) People used pay phones.

2) Lone cops would stand on corners keeping an eye out on things.

3) A few bars would have candle-lit drinking hours. Which reminded me of NYC in the 1700s, if I was alive then

I just watched Amadeus yesterday. That's why Mozart is scoring this video.