• Miami woman, 28, trespassed at high school and pretended to be student, all for the Gram

    Audrey Nicole Francisquini, 28, was arrested at Miami, Florida's American Senior High School after she walked into the school, pretended to be a student, and then handed out fliers to students encouraging them to follow her on Instagram. She's been charged with burglary (perhaps a prior incident?), trespassing at an educational institution, and resisting arrest. That's her mugshot above—she seems quite pleased with herself. From Local10:

    Footage showed that she not only dressed up like a student on purpose, but as she was preventing the students from entering the classroom, she was simultaneously handing them pre-printed pamphlets with her social media username (or handle) on the flyers.

    Once officials were able to locate her though her social media page and driver's license, she was arrested at her Miami Beach home on Monday, May 10, and taken into custody without incident with the assistance of North Miami Beach Police.

    According to police, when they began telling her which charges were being filed against her, she told them she wanted to show them a video she had recorded on her cellphone while at the school during the incident.

    Police say the video correlates exactly with their report.

  • "Jolene" and other records that sound great when played at the wrong speed

    Back when most everyone listened to music on vinyl, frequently switching between 45 RPM 7" platters and 33 1/3 RPM 12" albums would mean that eventually, you'd forget to flip the speed selector switch on your record player and a song would come on at the wrong speed. Sometimes, it sounded right. Occasionally, it even sounded better. Eventually, experimental musicians would go on to release records meant to be played at any speed and DJs would incorporate wrong-speed songs into their sets. Over at In Sheep's Clothing, enjoy a collection of pitched up and pitched down songs including my favorite example of the genre above: Dolly Parton's "Jolene." Below are a couple others with In Sheep's Clothing annotations. Check out the rest here: "When Wrong is Right: A Collection of Classic "Wrong Speed" Records"

    ESG – UFO (1981): An absolute B-Boy classic, early NYC Hip Hop heads clung to the funky breakbeat rhythms of Bronx outfit ESG and found gold when they played their UFO single at 33. It caught the ears of RZA, who made it a live Wu-Tang staple. In doing so, they tapped a sound that predates the sluggy, bass-driven DJ Screw chopped-and-screwed motifs to come. UFO eventually became one of the most sampled songs in hip hop — and was even pressed at the wrong speed when it appeared on the classic 90s "Ultimate Breaks & Beats" comp series.

    Azymuth – Jazz Carnival (1979): This '79 Azymuth hit was a worldwide club favorite, especially at Chicago house and UK dance parties. Only in Italy would you hear it played at 33, where [DJ Daniele] Baldelli had a knack for playing what was hot at the time in a new and clever way. It often resulted in a full-blown freakout on the dance floor.  

  • Chicago unleashes huge army of feral cats to take on the rats

    Chicago's Tree House Humane Society has deployed 1,000 feral cats onto the city streets to fight the city's rat infestation. Tree House began the annual "Cats at Work" program a decade ago as an alternative to the use of rat poison that can harm other wildlife. From WGN9:

    [Tree House spokesperson Sarah] Liss said the cats generally do not eat a lot of rats, although the cats will kill some rats in the beginning when they arrive in a new location.

    After they get acquainted to the space though, much less effort is required on the cat's behalf.

    "They are actually deterring them with their pheromones. That's enough to keep the rats away," Liss said.

  • This weird, black sea monster with razor-sharp teeth mysteriously washed up on a California beach

    On Friday, this magnificently creepy sea monster washed up on the shore of Laguna Beach, California. According to a post by Crystal Cove State Park authorities, it is most likely a Pacific Football Fish that usually swims in dark ocean depths. From the Crystal Cover State Park's Facebook post:

    Only females possess a long stalk on the head with bioluminescent tips used as a lure to entice prey in the darkness of waters as deep as 3,000 feet! Their teeth, like pointed shards of glass, are transparent and their large mouth is capable of sucking up and swallowing prey the size of their own body. While females can reach lengths of 24 inches males only grow to be about an inch long and their sole purpose is to find a female and help her reproduce. Males latch onto the female with their teeth and become "sexual parasites," eventually coalescing with the female until nothing is left of their form but their testes for reproduction. Wild! To see an actual angler fish intact is very rare and it is unknown how or why the fish ended up on the shore. Seeing this strange and fascinating fish is a testament to the diversity of marine life lurking below the water's surface in California's MPAs and as scientists continue to learn more about these deep sea creatures it's important to reflect on how much is still to be learned from our wonderful ocean.

    images: Ben Estes / Crystal Cover State Park

  • X-Wing fighter lands at the Smithsonian museum

    An X-Wing Starfighter has landed at a Smithsonian museum facility in Chantilly, Virginia where it's undergoing preparation for eventual display at the National Air and Space Museum. On longterm loan from Industrial Light & Magic, this particular model is a T-70 X-Wing as seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. From Smithsonian:

    The massive movie prop, which has a wingspan of 37 feet, is being cleaned and checked closely for any damage that may have occurred while in transit from Industrial Light & Magic, the LucasFilm division that created and built the X-Wing Starfighter. The full-size model was shipped in pieces and is being reassembled so it can be hung by rigging from the ceiling at the National Air and Space Museum building in Washington, D.C., in 2022.

    "Star Wars is a lived-in universe," [museum space history chair Margaret] Weitekamps says. "This is a battle-scarred X-Wing fighter. We want to distinguish between any scratches that occurred during shipping versus something that was built into the vehicle.

    "I was on the floor looking at it and I pointed out a place where it looked like it had what pilot's would call 'hangar rash.' That's where you get scrape marks on the side of aircraft when they are moved around. I pointed it out to the conservator, who had a big smile and said, 'No, that's simulated. It's part of the detail by the artist!'"

    image:  Jim Preston, NASM

  • Customs agents discover cow dung cakes packed in international luggage—cow poop doesn't stop COVID

    US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents discovered two cow dung cakes inside the luggage of an Air India passenger arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport. According to the CBP, "cow dung is reported to be a vital energy and cooking source in some parts of the world. Cow dung has also been reportedly used as a skin detoxifier, an antimicrobial, and as a fertilizer. Despite these alleged benefits, cow dung from India is prohibited due to the potential introduction of Foot and Mouth disease."

    Meanwhile, physicians in India are warning against using cow waste as protection against COVID-19. From Reuters:

    "There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19, it is based entirely on belief," said Dr JA Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association.

    "There are also health risks involved in smearing or consuming these products – other diseases can spread from the animal to humans."

  • Italian woman accidentally given six doses of COVID-19 vaccine

    At Noas hospital in Tuscany, Italy, a health worker accidentally injected a 23-year-old woman with an entire bottle of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The health worker realized her error after spotting five empty syringes on the table. The woman who received the megadose was kept at the hospital under observation for 24 hours but released after no adverse reactions were seen. From CNN:

    Doctors will continue to monitor the patient's immune response to the "massive dose of vaccine," the spokeswoman said.

    The patient was entitled to get the vaccine before other people in her age group because she is an intern in the hospital's psychology department, she added.

    An internal investigation has been opened, said Gianelli, who added that it was "maybe just human error, definitively not on purpose."

    imageArne Müseler / www.arne-mueseler.com (CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

  • Robot learns to brush tangly hair without inflicting pain

    Teaching a robot to brush hair—especially without just powering through tangles and ripping them out of your scalp—is harder than you think. MIT roboticists and Harvard mathematicians collaborated on a computer vision system to "see" curls and tangles and come up with a gentle brushing strategy. The robot itself wields a sensor-laden brush to provide real-time force feedback to the software. From MIT News:

    With rapidly growing demands on health care systems, nurses typically spend 18 to 40 percent of their time performing direct patient care tasks, oftentimes for many patients and with little time to spare. Personal care robots that brush hair could provide substantial help and relief[…]

    CSAIL postdoc Josie Hughes and her team opted to represent the entangled hair as sets of entwined double helices —  think classic DNA strands. This level of granularity provided key insights into mathematical models and control systems for manipulating bundles of soft fibers, with a wide range of applications in the textile industry, animal care, and other fibrous systems. 

    "By developing a model of tangled fibers, we understand from a model-based perspective how hairs must be entangled: starting from the bottom and slowly working the way up to prevent 'jamming' of the fibers," says Hughes, the lead author on a paper about RoboWig. "This is something everyone who has brushed hair has learned from experience, but is now something we can demonstrate through a model, and use to inform a robot."  

  • Florida Man wanted for stealing pile of valuable Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia

    Orange Park, Florida police are searching for William James Walker, 38, for stealing a trailer containing $12,000 worth of Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia. The items were to be sold at a benefit auction for musician Jimmie Van Zant's cancer charity. Van Zant was the cousin of Skynyrd lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. No word whether the trailer contained one of the band's massive Confederate flags. From News4Jax:

    "We have guitars that are signed by a lot of the band members. A lot of them aren't even alive anymore," [auction organizer Joey] Willut said. "It's stuff that can't be replaced." […]

    Though items were stolen, members from the community brought in items, like liquor, cowboy hats and books, to be auctioned off instead.

  • "Worker bonus" announcement email was actually company phishing test; no bonus given

    West Midlands Trains emailed approximately 2,500 employees to announce they'd all receive a bonus as appreciation for the "huge strain [that] was placed upon a large number of our workforce." Turned out though, if an employee clicked the link for more information, they'd land on a page revealing that the email was a "phishing simulation test" and, guess what, there was no actual bonus happening. From The Guardian:

    [Leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) union Manuel] Cortes said the company should apologise and now pay an actual bonus, to begin to make amends.

    "In that way the company can begin to right a wrong which has needlessly caused so much hurt."

    A West Midlands Trains spokesperson said: "We take cybersecurity very seriously. We run regular training and it's important to test your resilience.

    "The design of the email was just the sort of thing a criminal organisation would use – and thankfully it was an exercise without the consequences of a real attack."

  • This small Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a bear expected to sell for $16 million

    One of eight sketches by Leonardo da Vinci still privately owned, this 8-inch square sketch of a bear will go up for auction next month. It's expected to sell for between $11 and $16 million. That's twice the price that the most expensive Leonardo sketch sold for twenty years ago—"Horse and Rider" for $11.2 million. Leonardo created "Head of a Bear" using silverpoint, a technique in which the artist draws with a silver wire stylus on chemically-treated paper. From CNN:

    The sketch has changed hands several times over the centuries — in fact, it was once sold by Christie's for just £2.50 (about £312, or $439, in today's money) in 1860. Titled "Head of a Bear," it has since been displayed at major institutions including the National Gallery in London, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Saint Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.

    In a press release, the chairman of Old Master paintings at Christie's New York, Ben Hall, called the sketch "one of the most important works from the Renaissance still in private hands," adding that it had "been owned by some of the most distinguished collectors in the field of Old Masters across many centuries." Notable previous owners include painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and art collector Captain Norman Robert Colville.

  • Relax with this 1984 ambient cassette, "a psychoacoustic catalyst specifically designed to facilitate the movement and release of spiritual and emotional energies"

    New Age music curator and record label Sounds of the Dawn kindly preserved this 1984 cassette that sounds like lovely ambient music but is actually "a psychoacoustic catalyst specifically designed to facilitate the movement and release of spiritual and emotional energies."

    Featuring compositions by Tom Kenyon, this is a fine example of PINA (private issue new age), a genre of music mostly issued during the 1980s in small quantities on cassettes that sometimes fetch unreasonable sums from collectors (occasionally including me). This particular specimen hasn't appeared for sale on the Discogs marketplace since October 2019. Its median selling price is around $20 so that's not bad. And dig that J-card artwork. Instructions on the cassette's use below.

    Kenyon is still keeping the dream alive though as "one of the most respected sound healers in the world today."

    images: Discogs