The Armchair Detective Company makes immersive puzzles and tactile 3D objects

If you’re fascinated by paper art and pop-up books, then the name of 51-year old Robert Sabuda will resonate like that of a Zen master. He’s a legend in the world of children’s books, paper design, and engineering, with many famous books to his credit (my favorites are The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland).

Kind of like a pop-up book equivalent of The Avengers, Sabuda has embarked on a new adventure in collaboration with Shelby Arnold and Simon Arizpe called The Armchair Detective Company. You can also follow them on Facebook. Read the rest

Elon Musk Says Humans Will Go To Mars by 2024

In my weekly segment on KCRW's “Press Play” news program with host Madeleine Brand, we listen to Elon Musk wax poetic about artificial intelligence and whether life might be a dream--and his plans to send humans to Mars by 2025. Read the rest

No warrant is needed to get your phone's location data, U.S. appeals court rules

In a major blow to security and privacy advocates, a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday ruled that police don't have to have a warrant to obtain your cellphone location data. The ruling means that in America, you have zero expectation of privacy over the historical location data generated by your cell phone. Read the rest

Paul Ryan endorses Trump

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, cringing from the decision for days after it became clear who would win the party's nomination, has finally endorsed Donald Trump's bid to become U.S. President.

The Wisconsin Republican has voice reservations over Trump's tone throughout the campaign and disagrees with him on many policy areas. Last month, he met with the likely GOP nominee and still withheld his endorsement. As recent as last week, he was still holding out.

But on Thursday he finally acquiesced. In a column in the Janesville Gazette, the Speaker wrote that the two "have more common ground than disagreement." And despite never using the word "endorse" in the article, Ryan's spokesman confirmed it was an official endorsement.

For Republicans, obedience or oblivion. Read the rest

Neo-Nazis make a Chrome extension that alerts you to potential Jewish names

If you install "Coincidence Detector," a Chrome plugin from Altrightmedia, then every time a Jewish-seeming name appears in your browser, it will be surrounded in (((triple parentheses))) (the extension also uses a crowdsourced list of known Jews to enfold their names in parenthetical hugs where they appear). Read the rest

Prestigious Pets of Dallas wants $1M from customers who said they overfed a fish

If you hire Prestigious Pets of Dallas, TX to take care of your pets, you have to sign a sleazy nondisparagement contract through which you promise not to complain in public about the company's service. Read the rest

Middle school teacher in trouble after administering "Pimps and Hos" math test

Teacher JoAnne Bolser of Mobile, Alabama's public Cranford Burns Middle School was put on leave last week after administering a math test with word problems about pimps, hos, cocaine dealing, drive-by shootings, gangmembers who "knocked up" multiple girls, and other delightful subjects. The questions included:

"Tyrone knocked up 4 girls in the gang. There are 20 girls in his gang. What is the exact percentage of girls Tyrone knocked up?"

"Pedro got 6 years for murder. He also got $10,000 for the hit. If his common-law wife spends $100 of his hit money per month, how much money will be left when he gets out?"

Dwayne pimps 3 ho's. If the price is $85 per trick, how many tricks per day must each ho turn to support Dwayne's $800 per day crack habit?

Kids in Bolser's class texted photos of the quiz to their parents, sparking an investigation.

"The principal looked into it and then our school resource officer investigated it and then we immediately put the teacher on administrative leave," said the school's director of communications, Rena Philips.

Bolser was already planning to retire at the end of the school year this month.

According to Snopes, the quiz, known as the "L.A. Math Test," has circulated on the Web for years as a "joke" and Bolser is far from the first idiot to distribute it to students.

(NBC News) Read the rest

Bees can sense a flower's electric field

New research shows that bees can recognize flowers by the plants' tiny electric field that differs between species. The electric field bends the tiny hairs on a bee's body, firing neurons located at the base of the hair. From the journal Science:

Such fields—which form from the imbalance of charge between the ground and the atmosphere—are unique to each species, based on the plant’s distance from the ground and shape. Flowers use them as an additional way to advertise themselves to pollinators...

Electric fields can only be sensed from a distance of 10 cm or so, so they’re not very useful for large animals like ourselves. But for small insects, this distance represents several body lengths, a relatively long distance.

"How bees sense a flower’s electric field" (Science)

"Mechanosensory hairs in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) detect weak electric fields" (PNAS)

Read the rest

Orphaned baby rhino walks little girl to school

This orphaned baby rhino likes to walk with this girl to school in the morning.

Rhinos are endangered across Africa, as demand for their horn fuels ruthless criminal poaching networks. Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and is also home to the last three northern white rhinos on the planet. When Ringo is ~4 years old, it is hoped he can be released into the wild.

(Thanks, McRaney!) Read the rest

Airport security officer was alleged war criminal, arrested for lying about participation in "genocidal acts" (UPDATED)

Yusuf Abdi Ali, a former Somali national army commander, is a pretty famous alleged war criminal, someone who's been profiled on major news media, deported from Canada over a failed claim of refugee status, arrested in the USA for lying about his participation in "genocidal acts" on his visa applications, currently embroiled in a lawsuit with someone who claims Ali tortured and shot him -- and now he works as a private airport security officer at DC's Dulles airport. Read the rest

How to build a travel ukulele from scratch

Dremel commissioned Mark to make something interesting that used their tools and document the process online. So he made this cool soprano ukulele that has a full-size body but is much shorter than typical ukes because he used zither tuning pegs. He posted the full build notes on Medium.

Read the rest

Watch boy's birthday cake ignite into fireball (don't worry, he's fine)

I bet George's birthday wish wasn't that his powdered sugar cake would ignite into a fireball inches from his face.

Read the rest

Elon Musk thinks we're probably living in a simulation

"Either we're going to create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will cease to exist," Musk says. (Recode)

More on the Simulation Argument here and here.

Read the rest

BrushPicks toothpicks keep your teeth clean

At Maker Faire a couple of weeks ago Bob Knetzger offered me a BrushPick from a little keychain dispenser. I thought my teeth were already clean but I took one anyway because the picks looked cool, with a tiny sword on one side, a moth antenna on the other side. It turned out that my teeth were not as clean as I previously thought. I bought a 3-pack of dispensers ($(removed) on Amazon) and have been using them every day since. I need to stock up on replacement brushes to refill the containers, each of which hold 15 picks.

Read the rest

Appeals court rules brief "Vogue" horn sample was not copyright infringement

The 9th Circuit Court affirmed today that a quarter-second sample used by Madonna didn't infringe the copyright of the original artist. Billboard reports that 1990 hit Vogue's use of a brass hit from 1976's "Love Break" was so small as to be trivial.

"After listening to the audio recordings submitted by the parties, we conclude that a reasonable juror could not conclude that an average audience would recognize the appropriation of the horn hit," writes 9th Circuit judge Susan Graber in today's opinion. "That common-sense conclusion is borne out by dry analysis. The horn hit is very short—less than a second. The horn hit occurs only a few times in Vogue. Without careful attention, the horn hits are easy to miss. Moreover, the horn hits in Vogue do not sound identical to the horn hits from Love Break... Even if one grants the dubious proposition that a listener recognized some similarities between the horn hits in the two songs, it is hard to imagine that he or she would conclude that sampling had occurred."

The ruling seems to run counter to other recent courtroom action where a song was found to infringe a Marvin Gaye classic despite containing no samples of it at all. But things are complicated in copyright! Note that the court listens to the recordings: subjective similarity is at hand, not just technology. Which perhaps explains why an extensively imitative passage with no direct sampling might be found infringing, but a short sample re-used in a novel and transformative way is not. Read the rest

In 1977, the CIA's top lawyer said Espionage Act shouldn't be applied to press leaks

Yesterday, the State Department declassified and released Organization and Management of Foreign Policy: 1977-80, volume 28, a Carter-era document that includes startling statements by CIA General Counsel Anthony Lapham on the role of the WWI-era Espionage Act in prosecuting leaks of classified material to the press. Read the rest

The Science Book – The greatest hits of science

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Science Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained)

DK

2014, 352 pages, 8 x 9.6 x 1 inches

$15 Buy a copy on Amazon

The Science Book is DK publishing’s “greatest hits” of science. Laid out chronologically and full of diagrams and photos, it gives you a coffee table book experience but in a manageable way. No book clocking in at 350-ish pages could be totally comprehensive, yet it includes most of the major scientific milestones from 600 BCE to today without being dry or overwhelming.

I found that I was able to gain a better understanding of principles that I only marginally understood, like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which is clearly laid out in layman’s terms and with genuinely helpful visuals. Genetics is a particularly complicated topic that has always fascinated me, so I was especially drawn to the chapters that tackled it and found a diagram using bees to explain recessive traits to be one of my favorite features. The individual chapters are broken up into sections and use sidebars and trivia to keep things interesting, so no matter what topic you land on the information is always accessible. I haven’t read it cover to cover, but rather peruse whatever topic catches my eye and always find something I didn’t known before. Textbooks devoted to science have an unfortunate tendency to be dry and technical, so I am especially excited to share The Science Book with my son as he gets older, with the hope that it may help him develop a real interest in science and an appreciation of its value. Read the rest

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