See MIT's odd new jumping cube robots

MIT researchers developed this "Soft Cube Capable of Controllable Continuous Jumping." From IEEE Spectrum:

Inside of the robot there are two motorized rotors, each connected to one end of four flattened loops of spring steel. Activating the rotors causes the spring steel loops that I’m just going to go ahead and call tongues to get pulled through rectangular openings (mouths) into a round cavity inside the body of the robot, compressing them. As the rotors continue to turn, eventually the compressed tongues get pulled all the way around back to the mouths, at which point they spring out, releasing that elastic energy all at once and causing the robot to jump.

"With some light-weight payloads, such as miniature cameras, the robot can be used for exploration tasks," write the researchers. "Moreover, a wireless sensor network can be automatically deployed and reconfigured for outdoor surveillance by using a group of our jumping robots."

Next, they hope to increase the robots' power so the cubes can jump higher and cover more ground.

"MIT's Cube Robot Uses Springy Metal Tongues to Jump" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Hundreds of city police license plate cams are insecure and can be watched by anyone

Dave Maass from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "Earlier this year, security researcher John Matherly alerted us to potentially massive vulnerabilities in a certain vendor's automated license plate reader systems. We dug into the data and found that, sure enough, hundreds of LPR systems were potentially vulnerable, with many openly accessible online." Read the rest

Appeals court holds the FBI is allowed to kidnap and torture Americans outside US borders

The DC Appeals Court has just ruled against Amir Meshal, a US citizen who was arrested in Kenya by a joint US-Kenyan-Ethiopian law enforcement operation, held for months, tortured with FBI agents present and threatened with his secret murder, then released without any charges. Read the rest

Crocodile-buffalo hybrid photographed in Thailand! (And Egyptian demon seen in Greece!)

This creepy crocodile-buffalo hybrid turned up in High Rock, Thailand this month. The beast bears a striking resemblance to the half-aquatic, half-terrestrial Hindu god Makara, and is now on display in the village! According to Mysterious Universe, the creature may actually be a calf with a skin disorder. Sure it is....

Related, off the west coast of Greece, tourist Harvey Robertson snapped the following photo of this bizarre crocodile-hippo-dolphin that could be the earthly incarnation of the Egyptian demon Ammit, seen in illustration below!

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The more unequal your society is, the more your laws will favor the rich

Political scientists and economists who've undertaken peer-reviewed research into policy outcomes have concluded that all over the world, and at every level of government, wealth inequality is correlated with corrupt policy-making in which politicians create laws and regulations that favor the rich at the expense of the wider public. Read the rest

Watch these Chicago cops punish a 21-year-old Lyft driver because passenger taped cops being jerks

On his YouTube page, Stovie Wan Kenobi describes his rotten experience with some plainclothes Chicago cops who harassed him and his Lyft driver just because he was recording them being jerks. One cop said, "Because you're recording... I'm going to have to impound the vehicle." The cops impounded the 21-year-old driver's car (he drives for Lyft to pay his way through school) and wouldn't let Stovie get his luggage out of the back of the car until they got to the police station. It's not clear why the cops impounded the car, because the pickup allegedly happened away from the airport.

On the evening of Sept 2nd 2015 I flew into Chicago O'Hare after a long business trip. I walked a quarter of a mile away from the terminal to order a Lyft. (My preferred Taxi service that I stay loyal to).

While waiting on the side of the road with my luggage I was approached by a male and female in "Plain Clothes.. I thought they were Airport Security and they asked me if I was aware I was standing on the side of the road. I informed them that I was completely aware that I was standing on the side of the road while waiting for my ride home. I was exhausted and not in the mood to be bothered by anyone unless they were going to take me home. They asked me who was picking me up. Annoyed by the intrusive questions I quickly replied "My Girlfriend". I was not in the mood to continue this conversation.

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Which Presidential candidates are climate change deniers?

From Columbia University's Earth Institute:

Ben Carson (retired neurosurgeon) believes that climate change is happening in the sense that there’s “always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and has called the climate debate “irrelevant.” While he has no plans to combat climate change, he does believe it’s important to protect the environment. If elected, he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and develop oil resources while also investing in renewable resources; however, he would not support any government subsidies because he feels they interfere with the free market.

Donald Trump (real estate developer) doesn’t believe in climate change and asserts that the changes we see are actually just weather, unaffected by human actions. He puts climate change low on the list of problems we need to address. In 2012, Trump said global warming was a hoax created by China to make U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive. He supports regulating air pollution.

Hillary Clinton (former U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state) believes climate change is real and manmade. She has called it “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.” Clinton unveiled a plan that would install half a billion solar panels across the country by 2020 (a 700 percent increase in solar capacity); and expand renewable energy (including geothermal and hydro) sufficiently to produce 33 percent of U.S. electricity by 2027. Her Clean Energy Challenge, partnering with states, cities and communities, will include incentives, competitions, and investment in transmission and R&D.

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South Carolina sheriff fires the school-cop who beat up a black girl at her desk

Ben Fields, the South Carolina sheriff’s deputy who was video-recorded beating up a black schoolgirl who was sitting peacefully at her desk, has been fired. Read the rest

Schoolgirl-dragging cop fired

Deputy Ben Fields, the school cop filmed dragging and throwing a disobedient teen, was fired today by Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Lott announced at midday EST that Fields has already been relieved of his duties and that the wheels are in motion to remove him officially from the force.

A civil rights investigation is already underway into the conduct of Fields, a white officer whose attack on a black child took place in the context of rising tensions in the South Carolina community in which he serves. As Spring Valley High School resource officer, he was often accused of roughing up the youngsters in his care.

But this was the first time he was caught doing it on camera.

NBC News:

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said an internal investigation over the Monday incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia focused on whether Senior Deputy Ben Fields had violated the department's policies.

He said at a news conference that the department looked at cellphone videos taken from the classroom and interviews with witnesses, and concluded that the maneuvers he used in the confrontation were "not acceptable."

"From the very beginning that's what's caused me to be upset, and continued to upset me is that he picked the student up and threw the student across the room," Lott said.

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Federal court tells FBI: go ahead and torture Americans, but do it outside the U.S.

Amir Meshal, an American citizen, claims the FBI falsely imprisoned and tortured him for months, but on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said he can't sue the FBI because it happened in Ethiopia, not the United States. Read the rest

Mobile carriers make $24B/year selling your secrets

The largest carriers in the world partner with companies like SAP to package up data on your movements, social graph and wake/sleep patterns and sell it to marketing firms. Read the rest

Motorcycle jackets deemed cool again

The New York Times reports on how the motorcycle jacket lost its cool and got it back again. Read the rest

Ikea turns kids' drawings of monsters into plushies

I want them all, and so you do. Read the rest

Nerd heroes read "There's a Zombie in My Treehouse"

Len Peralta writes, "Ken Plume, John Robinson and I have been releasing different celebrity readings of our book There's A Zombie In My Treehouse just in time for Halloween. We've been releasing one track a day for the past week and a half up until Halloween. Some of the readers include Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants/Adventure Time), Billy West (Futurama), Dana Snyder (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and the whole cast of MST3K. Upcoming celebrity readers include The Venture Brothers Doc Hammer and Jackson Public, John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton. It's a fun read and listen for Halloween." Read the rest

Anime contacts put the sparkle in your eye

Colored and embiggening contacts are done. The hot thing is contacts that include cartoon twinkles and other reflections. Brian Ashcraft reports on the latest thing from Japan.

The difference here is that these lenses attempt to make your eyes not only look expressive, but like they belong in a 2D anime.

I reckon these lenses are ideal for cosplayers—or people who want to resemble anime characters. Perhaps, both.

There are three types available, which I'll call blobs, sparkles and stars.

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Watching this video of a violin being made is very satisfying

In this beautifully shot and un-narrated half-hour video directed by Baptiste Buob, we get to watch Dominique Nicosia use hand tools to make a violin. It's interesting to see him use specialized tools, and use them with confidence. After watching this, I almost felt like I made a violin myself! Read the rest

DMCA exemption carved to help preserve old games

The US Library of Congress has created an exemption to copyright law to make it legal to preserve abandoned video games, including online server code required to play them. Read the rest

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