Watch: Pampered cats ring call bell for treats

These two cats have trained their human servant well. Read the rest

Florida skunk ape is real and "gives out a horrifying odor": National Examiner

You have to admire the insight, investigative prowess and sheer imagination of the tabloids, which this week are brimming with information that few people on earth could possibly know.

It has been widely reported that a Secret Service agent’s laptop was stolen from her car, containing blueprints of President Trump’s homes. But only the ‘National Enquirer’ has the inside scoop to reveal the culprit behind the theft: "Terrorists steal laptop.”

It’s doubtless the same network of impeccable inside sources that allows the ‘Globe’ to definitively report that a “booze-free” Ben Affleck “packs on 48 lbs,” presumably because they have bugged his bathroom scales and know he hasn’t gained 47 lbs or 49 lbs - it’s exactly 48 lbs. That’s how accurate their information is.

The ‘Globe’ promises veteran actor Michael Caine disclosing: “My Cancer Hell!” And what hell it is! Beneath the headline “Michael Caine, 84, Wrestling Death!” the British star confesses that he tries to eat healthily so that he never gets cancer. Way to wrestle, Michael. “I know my days are numbered,” he says. “I’ll probably drop dead.” And that’s a quote that everyone alive could safely say without fear of contradiction. Great reporting.

“Starsky & Hutch Deathbed Reunion!” screams the ‘Globe’ cover, though the photos of Paul Michael Glaser pushing his former TV co-star David Soul in a wheelchair suggests otherwise. If Glaser was pushing Soul in a Sealy Posturepedic down the street I’d buy the “deathbed reunion,” but last time I checked the fact of being in a wheelchair didn’t mean you had hours left to live. Read the rest

Atlanta interstate catches fire and collapses

A massive fire in Northeast Atlanta this afternoon caused the busy I-85 freeway to collapse. The cause has been yet to be determined.

CNN has a live video feed:

Flames are erupting underneath an Atlanta interstate as black smoke is billowing under all sides. Local officials are on the scene and working to determine a cause.

Read the rest

I have always assumed the "dinosaur" was a dance

I don't think this video got nearly enough play time. Read the rest

How to make a gigantic Arduino

My friend John Edgar Park made a huge Arduino for demo purposes. He brought it to Maker Faire a few years ago and it was a big hit. He finally got around to writing a tutorial for building your own.

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DJI proposing "electronic license plates" for drones

Drone manufacturer DJI published a white paper proposing a kind of license plate for drones in the form of a wireless identifier that the buzzing UAVs would be required to broadcast. The paper describes a possible way to balance the privacy of drone operators with perceived public concern about whose controlling the bots buzzing overhead. You can read the full paper as a PDF here. From David Schneider's column in IEEE Spectrum:

As the company points out in its whitepaper, drone operators might want to maintain anonymity even if there were people around to witness their flights. Suppose, for example, that a company were surveying land in anticipation of purchasing and developing it. That company might not want to clue in competitors. Or perhaps the drone is being flown for the purposes of investigative journalism, in which case the journalists involved might not want others to know about their investigations.

DJI proposes that drones be required to broadcast an identifying code by radio . . . That code would not include the name and address of the owner, but authorities would be able to use it to look that information up in a non-public database—a kind of electronic license plates for drones.

At the same time, it’s easy to understand why law-enforcement or regulatory authorities would sometimes want to identify the owner or operator of a drone, say, if somebody felt the drone were invading their privacy or if a drone were being flown close to a nuclear power plant.

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With two weeks until the final vote, the Free Software Foundation wants you to call the W3C and say no to DRM

There's only two weeks left until members of the World Wide Web Consortium vote on whether the web's premier open standards organization will add DRM to the toolkit available to web developers, without effecting any protections for people who discover security vulnerabilities that affect billions of web users, let alone people who adapt web tools for those with disabilities and people who create legitimate, innovative new technologies to improve web video. Read the rest

How new emojis are born, a comic

Over at The Nib, excellent historical cartoonist Andy Warner, author of the wonderful Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, tells the story of how the Unicode Consortium brings new emoji into our online lives. From The Nib:

Read the full comic: "Want a New Emoji? Good Luck." Read the rest

The man who literally sniffed out the problems in NYC's subway

In the early 20th century, James "Smelly" Kelly used his legendary sense of smell and DIY inventions to find hazards, leaks, elephant poop, and eels that were causing problems in the New York City subway system. Atlas Obscura's Eric Grundhauser profiles the the man known as The Sniffer:

In addition to finding water leaks and plumbing issues, Kelly was also responsible for detecting dangerous gas and chemical leaks. From invisible gas fumes that could be ignited by a random spark, to gasoline draining into the system from above-ground garages, Kelly was there to find them out using his allegedly hypersensitive nose.

The most sensational tale of Kelly’s sense of smell was the time he was called to a 42nd Street station to suss out a stench that had overtaken the platforms. According to Kelly’s own account, the smell was so bad it almost bowled him over, but as he got his head back in the game, he pinpointed the source of the reek as… elephants. Amazingly, he was correct. The station in question had been built beneath the location of the old New York Hippodrome, which had been torn down in 1939. The Hippodrome had often featured a circus, and layers of elephant dung had ended up buried at the site. A broken water main had rehydrated the fossilized dung and subsequently leaked into the subway. Until, that is, Smelly Kelly was able to identify it.

"The Man Who Used His Nose to Keep New York’s Subways Safe" (Atlas Obscura) Read the rest

Penn State trustee "running out of sympathy" for "so-called" victims raped by the college's coach

Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of multiple counts of raping the children in his care. He's spending the rest of his life in jail. It was covered up for decades by his disgraced boss Joe Paterno, who croaked before he could get nailed in court. The college's president, Graham Spanier, was himself convicted last week for child endangerment. But now all that's dealt with, a Penn State trustee has harsh words for their victims.

Penn State trustee Albert L. Lord said he is “running out of sympathy” for the “so-called” victims of former Nittany Lions assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, according to an email sent to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth," Lord said in the email sent Saturday. "Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone."

Last September, the college "honored" Paterno at a game.

The fuck-you attitude Penn State brass has towards the victims is breathtaking. They've had to pay out $93m, but I guess that's pocket change to a college with a $4bn endowment.

Penn State trustee says he is 'running out of sympathy' for 'so-called' victims Read the rest

Mosquito bite relief on your keychain

I've been using one of these $10 mosquito bite zappers for years. It's like a little stun gun - you hold the business end against an itchy mosquito bite and pull the trigger. It sends a little spark of electricity (it feels like a static electricity shock you get from walking across a carpet). I usually give myself about eight zaps and it stops the itching for hours. The manufacturer says the zapper suppresses histamines responsible for itching.

When I first got it, my kids were scared of the little shock. But they soon came around to the point were they happily self-administered the treatment. Read the rest

High-heeled shoes for your baby

Pee Wee Pumps dot com is a site where you can supposedly order high-heeled shoes for your baby. They are all quite trashy. The site is controversial, reports the BBC.

It comes amid growing concern at what is seen as the sexualisation of children.

"This is not ok," wrote Melissa Balinski.

Another commenter, Jen, said that "promoting products for babies this way is just sick". ...

"I will definitely avoid this brand," wrote Barrow, commenting on a picture of a baby in "black pump classics". "This is horrid," added Flory.

But some users left positive comments, remarking how the shoes made the infants "look adorable". "Too cute," wrote Latoyia.

Reminds me of the classic Hemingway 6-word story: "For sale: baby shoes, wait, what?"

Read the rest

Top 1000 asked questions in Google and their cost per click value

This list of the most-frequently asked questions on Google reveals what people are curious about, and how much advertisers are willing to pay to get people who ask certain questions to click on their ads.

It's odd that "how to jump a car" (rank: 197) has a CPC (cost per click) if $14.85. Advertisers are willing to pay $2.88 for people who ask "how to kill yourself" (rank: 202) to click their ad. "How to make spaghetti" (rank: 726) has a CPC of just $0.01. "How to give a blow job" (rank: 192) is worth a paltry $0.07 but "how to give a good blow job" (rank: 680) is worth $0.43. Sadly, "how old is snoop dogg" (rank: 741) isn't worth anything at all to advertisers. (He's 45, by the way).

Image: @jampschi via Twenty20 Read the rest

North Carolina set to pass "compromise" bathroom bill that still leaves trans people without a pot to piss in

NC Republicans and Democrats have collaborated on a "compromise" version of HB2, the state's notorious job-killing, boycott-raising, shamefully discriminatory bathroom bill. The compromise makes some cosmetic changes at the margins, but it's still a piece of shit that will embarrass the state on the national stage, and does not address any of the concerns raised by those who've announced boycotts of NC, meaning it will still cost the state billions. Read the rest

What is the fastest music that humans can play and appreciate?

Bass player/instructor Adam Neely explores the fastest "useful" music that humans can play. It's a fascinating topic, really, especially how he, and scientists/musicologists, frame the question around what's musically "useful." And yes, speed metal is considered "useful."

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Wild orangutan figures out how to saw wood

This wild-born, free-living orangutan found a saw and quickly figured out how to cut wood with it. Read the rest

Entertaining video series on how to ship things

My friend Jesse Genet, founder of Lumi, created this useful and fun video series on how to effectively ship things. Read the rest

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