• Look at the cool tools that roboticist / artist Ken Goldberg recommends

    Ken Goldberg is my latest guest on the Cool Tool Podcast. Ken's an artist, inventor, and roboticist and we've been friends for many years. Ken is an artist, inventor, and roboticist. He is William S. Floyd Jr Distinguished Chair in Engineering at UC Berkeley and Chief Scientist at Ambidextrous Robotics. He is one of the most creative and interesting people I know and it was so fun to talk to him about the tools he uses around his house.

    In this episode, he talks about a device-charging station made of bamboo. It nicely hides cables and chargers, and neatly stores and charges lots of devices. It looks like this:


    I almost bought one, but I decided to make one with my Glowforge laser cutter. Until I do, I'll continue to use my cigar box:

    Ken also talked about the Swing-A-Way Jar Opener. I thought the Jarkey was the best jar opener, but I ordered a Swing-A-Way after Ken talked about it, and I love it. It has so much leverage! And there's no way a Jarkey can unscrew an Elmer's glue cap, but the Swing-A-Way makes short work of it.


    Take a look at everything else we talked about here in the show notes.

  • No one signed the letter written by "the women of the office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz"

    Matt Gaetz, currently under federal investigation for committing a number of crimes including sex trafficking of minors and supplying people with money and illegal drugs in exchange for sex, is sharing a letter he claims was written by women staffers in his office attesting to his sterling record of gentlemanly comportment.

    The letter reads, in part:

    After the shocking allegations last week in the press, we, the women of Congressman Matt Gaetz's office, feel morally obligated to speak out. During Congressman Gaetz's time in office, we have been behind the scenes every step of the way. We have staffed his meetings. We have planned his events. We have traveled with him.

    And we have tracked his schedule. Congressman Gaetz has always been a principled and morally grounded leader. At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of untruthfulness.

    But as The Hill points out, "The statement was not signed by any staffers, and it did not specify how many women in Gaetz's office had signed off on it. It was signed by 'the women of the office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz.'"

    Apparently, the authors of the letter are proud of their congressman, but only if they don't have their names attached to it. What does it say for Gaetz that not one of the women put her name on the document? For all we know, Gaetz's alleged sex trafficking pal Joel Greenberg could've written the letter for him.

    (Image: Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-2.0)

  • Enraged screaming man pounds and kicks shop door, spits on glass in hope of getting phone repaired, gets arrested instead

    This Stafford County, Virginia Verizon store's doors were locked but the gentleman in this video, who needed to have his phone repaired, thought he could convince the employee inside to open the door for him by throwing a violent temper tantrum. He shouted incoherently, grabbed the door handles and rattled the door, pounded the glass with his fist, kicked the door, spit on the door, threw his phone at the window, invited the employee to fight him, and demanded to have his "shit fixed, man." But the employee was unmoved. The police were called and can be seen in the below video having a conversation with him.

    From The Daily Dot:

    The overlay says, "Welcome to America, where you act like an animal, then have a nice talk with the police. White is right. If he was brown, he would've been down."

    But that's not quite right. According to TMZ, the man was eventually arrested for disorderly conduct here, back in July. And according to TMZ's original, full version of the video, Ken calls a Verizon rep the N-word during his violent outburst.

    From TMZ:

    The disgusting incident went down July 15 in Stafford, Virginia where a Verizon employee recorded this man named Robert Colonna going berserk. Colonna was so pissed about something not working — and its cost — that he hurled a loogie at the closed door, and then started dropping n-bombs as he screamed at the workers.

    The staffer who posted the video explained it this way … "[He] assaulted me before entering store throwing phones inside store then picking them up leaving the store claiming he had something else for us. I IMMEDIATELY locked the door behind him."

  • No-masker who intentionally coughed on brain cancer patient receives 30-day sentence

    Debra Hunter of Florida was ordered to pay $5,000 and serve 30 days in jail for intentionally coughing on a person who has a brain tumor at a Pier 1 Imports store. "I think I'll get real close to you and cough on you. How's that?" said Hunter as she walked up to the victim and coughed in her face.

    During Hunter's sentencing, the judge in the case said she was struck by Hunter's lack of remorse or concern for the victim.

    From AP:

    Before ordering jail time, Duval County Court Judge James Ruth said she was struck by the fact that Hunter's testimony focused less on how she may have harmed the victim and more on how her actions affected her own family.

    "Her children didn't create this problem and her husband didn't, and she talked about how it changed her world and she was getting nastygrams on Facebook and things of that nature and they can't go to their country club or wherever," Ruth said. "But I have yet to see any expression, or a significant expression on her regret about the impact it had on the victim in this case!"

  • "I want THAT one!" Driver gets mad that she can't use a particular gas pump

    She stormed inside without a mask and demanded the worker tell me to move 💀 #karen

    ♬ original sound – EvergreenAndMRSN

    Here we have a TikToker in her car, parked in front of a gas station pump. She's recording a woman who seems to be upset that the TikToker won't move her car so she can use the blocked tank to fill her Land Rover Defender's tank. "I want THAT one," she seems to be saying. Why is the Land Rover driver so insistent on that particular pump, when so many other pumps are available? The Land Rover driver even pulls out her phone to record the TikToker. I wish we could get her side of the story!

  • Neural Net improves 1993 Eurodisco song "Barbie Girl"

    OpenAI Jukebox, a neural net that generates music, took the 1993 song "Barbie Girl" and made it much better.

    Orginal lyrics:

    I'm a barbie girl in the Barbie world
    Life in plastic, it's fantastic
    You can brush my hair
    Undress me everywhere
    Life is your creation
    Come on Barbie, let's go party!

    AI Jukebox:

    I'm a Barbie girl
    in a–
    in a drafty kitchen
    Dark and need tobacci
    You can bite my hair
    And try to everywhere
    Life is your creation
    Come on Barbie, let's go party
    I'm a Barbie girl
    A Barbie girl
    Slip on
    Du Barbie girl
    Circumcised mother
    You googled my shottygun

  • Capitol rioter Rosanne Boyland died from "acute amphetamine intoxication," not trampling, according to D.C. Medical Examiner's Office

    Rosanne Boyland, a 34-year-old woman from Georgia who died while participating in the domestic terrorist attack on the US Capitol on January 6, was not trampled to death by fellow MAGAs as previously reported. Toxicology results indicate the cause of her death was "acute amphetamine intoxication."

    From The Daily Beast:

    The New York Times was the first to report on January that Boyland, a 34-year-old from Georgia who wanted to be a sobriety counselor, was seen in body-camera footage being trampled by rioters as her friend screamed for help. "She's gonna die! She's dead! Rosanne! Rosanne!" her friend is heard yelling as rioters sprayed chemical irritants over his head toward cops. She was pronounced dead shortly after.

    [Update 4-8-2021 – Headline changed to indicate cause of death was from "acute amphetamine intoxication," not "meth."]

  • Capitol riot defendant claims he was beaten by correctional officer while in detention

    Ryan Samsel of Bristol, Pennsylvania, currently in detention pending trial for knocking over a police officer, causing her to lose consciousness and suffer a concussion during the January 6 domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, says a correctional officer beat him in his cell so badly that he could lose sight in one eye.

    From CBS News:

    In an interview with WUSA, [Samsel's attorney] Elisabeth Pasqualini said Samsel was "viciously and savagely" beaten by a corrections officer in the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility after the guard zip-tied Samsel's hands.

    She said she was only alerted to the alleged attack when two attorneys representing other defendants contacted her and said her client had gotten "a beatdown" by a guard and was in the hospital.

    "He has definitely suffered serious injuries, including a shattered orbital floor, a broken orbital bone, his jaw was broken, his nose was broken," Pasqualini said, adding that Samsel is currently unable to see out of his right eye and may permanently lose vision in it.

    Samsel is charged with forcibly assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with a police officer, attempting to obstruct a police officer, and obstructing an official proceeding. According to CBS News, "Records show Samsel is on parole for an assault conviction from 2016 in Pennsylvania and that there's a separate warrant for his arrest related to an alleged 2019 assault in New Jersey."

    It must be strange for "blue lives matter" types to be beaten by authorities in the same way minorities are.

  • Sputtering mad Eric Bolling walks off BBC spot about Georgia's new Jim Crow law

    Far-right television personality Eric Bolling walked out on a live BBC interview today. He started the segment complaining about how "liberals" like to use boycotts as a "gun, so to speak, pointing it at corporate CEOs' heads, saying, 'Listen to us and do things our way or we'll boycott your product. Conservatives in America have stepped away from that." (He's wrong. Republicans are boycotting Coke.) He then said "Conservatives need to step up and say, 'We're 50% of this country.'" (Wrong again. In a 2020 Gallup poll "34% in the U.S. identify as conservative, down from 40% in February.")

    Also on the show, Former CNN political commentator Aisha Moodie-Mills, who handily skewered Bolling's lie-based logic:

    It has nothing to do with whether you're a liberal or conservative or democrat or republican or none of the above, right? With any party you should be able to go and vote and you should have a fair opportunity and access to that ballot. It should not be made more complicated difficult or restrictive for you no matter who you are, what walk of life you come from, how much money you have, what race you are, or what geographic region you live in, and certainly not what party you are. It should not be more difficult to vote. That is fundamental to what we're talking about here. So what corporations are doing is they're saying, "Yeah, we don't want to get into the partisan muck but at the end of the day why is voting a partisan issue, right? Why can't everybody just access our democracy?" And they are fundamentally taking a stand for fairness. Conservatives have a problem with that though because when the game is fair they lose, which is why they're always trying to rig the game.

    Bolling then told a story about how moving a major league baseball game from Atlanta to Denver was bad for Black people because Georgia has a higher percentage of Blacks than Colorado. Moodie-Mills challenged Bolling on this point by saying it's the Jim Crow laws he supports that are hurting Blacks far more than moving baseball games. Bolling said he was disgusted to be called a racist and angrily walked away.

    The BBC interviewer was taking a stand for fairness. Bolling had a problem with that though because when the game is fair he loses, which is why he's always trying to rig the game. He should stick to rigged platforms like NewsMax and One America.

  • Look at this perfect response to a pyramid schemer

    I almost feel sorry for pyramid schemers, because the success of their scheme depends on roping in people as stupid as they are. Here's a recent exchange between a schemer and a person smart enough to not only say no, but to turn these sleazy attempts into entertainment.

    Hi, I know you're busy with teaching and your family but I'm wondering if you'd have any interest in hearing about my business. I have to ask. I'm committed to sharing it with others, especially my fellow mommies, and I know that busy people are successful people. Is there any chance you'd be open to chatting about it to see if it might be a good fit for you?

    I win!

    You will?

    No, I win!

    What do you win?

    When you added me as a friend, my husband and I made a bet of how long it be before you tried to push your MLM on me in a private message. He bet 1 – 5 messages, and I bet 6 – 10. Since you brought it up on the 6th message, I'm the winner!!

    No MLM seller "friend" has ever waited longer than 10 messages to bring up their "amazing" business. But be proud of yourself that you at least pretended to be my friend for a few messages before bringing it up! Yay for you!

    [via The Poke]

  • The joy of heat shrink tubing

    Heat shrinking tubing is used in electronics projects to keep wires nice and tidy. It's fun to use, too! You can either rub a soldering iron tip over it, or use a heat gun, and the material shrinks tightly around the wires. You can use heat shrink tubing to reinforce charging cables, repair eyeglasses, and add a custom rubbery grip to pens and pencils. Amazon has a great sale on a 580-piece box of heat shrink tubing. Get some and have the time of your life with this wonder material.

  • A stopped clock in Colombia is a telling example of collective false memories

    Our friends at Futility Closet posted this fascinating excerpt from Stefania de Vito, Roberto Cubelli, and Sergio Della Sala's paper, "Collective Representations Elicit Widespread Individual False Memories," from Cortex 45:5 [2009], 686-687.)

    On Aug. 2, 1980, a bomb exploded in the main railway station in Bologna, killing 85 people and wounding 200. The blast broke a large clock on the outside wall of the building. It was repaired and continued to run for 16 years, but the image of the clock with its hands fixed at 10:25 became a symbol of the event, and when it stopped working in 1996 its hands were set permanently to that time to commemorate the tragedy.

    In 2009 psychologist Stefania de Vito and her colleagues surveyed 180 people who worked at the station or used the trains regularly. Of 173 who knew that the clock is now stopped, 92 percent said that it had always been broken. 79 percent, including all 21 railway employees surveyed, claimed to have seen it set always to 10:25. Of 56 citizens who regularly took part in the official annual commemoration, only 6 remembered correctly that the clock had been working in the past.

    "These data indicate that individual memory distortions shared by a large group of people develop into collective false memories," de Vito writes. In this case, the clock's symbolic importance "acted as suggestive information and obscured the real experience of seeing the clock working, either as a misleading cue at retrieval or as catalysis for a semantic representation drawn from weak encoding."

    [Image: By Prof.Quatermass – Own work, CC BY 3.0]

  • Watch: 1926 surreal film from Japan called "A Page of Madness"

    "A Page of Madness" is an experimental Japanese horror film from 1926. It was directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa. Here's a good review on Letterboxed:

    Set in a remote mental hospital, the film focuses mostly on the experiences (both internal and external) of an old janitor, whose delusional wife is one of the hospital's patients. As he begins to lose his grip on reality, the film alternates between the man's increasingly nightmarish fantasies and the equally unsettling events taking place at the asylum. With dramatic lighting, captivating cinematography, and innovative filming techniques, including a lot of double exposures and disorienting lens filters, A Page of Madness effectively creates a haunting and surreal world that really feels like it was pushing the boundaries of the medium at the time.

    When the film was released, it was accompanied with live narration. It helps to read a plot synopsis, like the one on Wikipedia.

    The visuals are incredible. Here are a few screenshots:

    [via r/ObscureMedia]

  • New erectile dysfunction drug "possibly the first time in history that a company has knowingly commercialized a placebo"

    MED3000 is a gel that's rubbed on the head of the penis to improve erections. When it was recently approved for use in the EU, the manufacturer, Futura Medical, saw a stiff rise in its share price. Interestingly, MED3000 has no known active ingredients. As Discover Magazine says, "It is, in fact, possibly the first time in history that a company has knowingly commercialized a placebo."

    From Discover:

    Something else has changed since the old version of Futura's FAQ. In the previous version, Futura seemed to accept that MED3000 was acting as a placebo. Describing the results of the second trial, they said that "the placebo effect was far greater than first indicated and presents an exciting opportunity in its own right."

    But in the current FAQ, and across the current site, Futura seem reluctant to describe MED3000 as a placebo. They now say that MED3000 works through "a unique evaporative mode of action which the Company believes stimulates nerve endings in the glans penis to cause an erection."

    There is no evidence for the evaporative mode of action from the clinical trials. To show that the evaporation is what makes MED3000 work, you'd need to compare it to a non-evaporative gel.

  • Stylish protestors use colorful tools to smash windows at Barclays London HQ

    Seven smartly attired climate change activists were arrested in London earlier today after they calmly and methodically broke the windows of Barclays London headquarters. The stylish septet, who are members of the Extinction Rebellion, used brightly colored hammers and spikes to break the large windows to protest the banking industry's contribution to climate change.

    From Reuters:

    The group said the action was part of its "Money Rebellion" against the capitalist system which used "nonviolent direct action, causing damage to property to prevent and draw attention to greater damage".

    It accused the bank of "continued investments in activities that are directly contributing to the climate and ecological emergency".

    "Extinction Rebellion are entitled to their view on capitalism and climate change, but we would ask that in expressing that view they stop short of behaviour which involves criminal damage to our facilities and puts people's safety at risk," a spokesman for Barclays said.

    I think the Extinction Rebellion could raise a lot of money selling branded window-breaking tools.

    Image: YouTube

  • Parkinson's is the world's fastest-growing neurological disorder. This chemical compound could be to blame

    According to the National Cancer Institute, trichloroethylene (TCE) is found in "cleaning wipes, aerosol cleaning products, tool cleaners, paint removers, spray adhesives, and carpet cleaners and spot removers." It was also used as an anesthetic until it was banned in the United States in 1977. "Prolonged or repeated exposure of trichloroethylene causes kidney cancer. Some evidence suggests that it may be associated with an increased risks of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and, possibly, liver cancer."

    TCE could also be behind the alarming rise in Parkinson's Disease, says Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of Ending Parkinson's Disease. Over the last 10 years, the number of people with Parkinson's in the United States has increased 35%, according to The Guardian. "We think over the next 25 years it will double again," Dorsey told the paper.

    From The Guardian:

    Its known relationship to Parkinson's may often be overlooked due to the fact that exposure to TCE can predate the disease's onset by decades. While some people exposed may sicken quickly, others may unknowingly work or live on contaminated sites for most of their lives before developing symptoms of Parkinson's.

    The EPA estimates that 250m lb of the chemical are still used annually in the US, and that in 2017, more than 2m lb of it was released into the environment from industrial sites, contaminating air, soil, and water. 

    Image: Wellcome Trust, CC BY-4.0