Man charged $50 for two espressos and two bottles of water at a Venice cafe stirs up online mob

Juan Carlos Bustamente, 62, is a Chilean political consultant living in Rome. On a recent trip to Venice he sat down at Caffe Lavena in the popular tourist area called St. Mark's Square and ordered two bottles of water and two espressos. The bill was €43 (about $50). He thought it was ridiculous and he posted the receipt to Facebook.

Other people commented about being overcharged at Caffe Lavena. Then they headed over to TripAdvisor and left a lot of 1-star reviews, like this one from Jacob U of Orinda, CAe:

18 for a budweiser beer, 12 for a bottle of water!! And then the waiter tried to tell me that even though is not a spot for a tip in the credit card slip he wants to know how much would I like to leave him and stares me down and does not leave my table. when I say gratuity is already included in Italy he told that is not true and demanded a tip. I ended up leaving with my wife and kids after spending $83 on drinks because I did not pay attention to the price with him giving my family a dirty stare!!!!!!!!

A spokesman for Caffe Lavena issued a caveat emptor statement, expressing no shame in their prices:

“People get annoyed when the bill arrives because they do not listen when we hand them the menu even though it states clearly enough that prices are higher to sit outside. They just wave us away and if we insist they get irritated.

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This guy really knows how to kill yellowjackets

In his YouTube channel description, Sean Woods explains that he created his channel in 2012 as a "fun way to share my passions for history, primitive archery, flintknapping, survival skills, hunting, heirloom gardening, cooking, and a variety of other subjects." He says that last year, "the direction of my channel completely shifted when I accidentally discovered people enjoy watching videos about mouse traps." Now he posts videos almost exclusively about pest control, and he has 800,000 followers.

In this video Woods goes after yellow jackets. Anyone whose been stung by one knows how painful it is. I've been stung by bees many times and I barely care. But a yellow jacket will sting you multiple times in a second and each sting feels like getting punched with an icepick. Woods starts out by digging up an underground wasp nest in his backyard. It looks like a hazardous job. First he sprays wasp killer into the hole in the ground leading to the wasp nest, digs with a shovel, sprays more, and digs some more. Even when he drenches the nest with spray some of the yellow jackets are still active. In fact, Woods was stung by one off-camera, but he does't seem to mind. He must have a very high threshold for pain.

In the second part of the video, Woods tests three wasp traps. Two are store bought, and the third one is homemade. He uses chicken for bait in two of the traps, commenting that the wasps are "greedy" for meat. Read the rest

Owners of $25 million Laguna Beach mansion ordered to take down sea wall, fined $1 million

Jeffrey and Tracy Katz own a $25 million house in Laguna Beach, CA. The house is very close to the pounding surf of Victoria Beach, closer and lower than the neighboring houses. So they built a sea wall to prevent erosion of their house's foundation. Coastal officials ordered the Katz's to take the wall down because it degrades the quality of the public beach in front of it, and, as the LA Times reports, "Sea walls can obstruct the natural flow and replenishment of sand, leading to smaller and smaller beaches until the sand disappears altogether." The Katzes and the officials went to court and the Katzes were fined $1 million and ordered to take down the wall within 60 days. The Katzes are fighting the ruling, saying that orders to remove the wall are reducing the value of the home and the ability to rent it for $70,000 a month.

Image: Patrick Pelster/Wikipedia. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Read the rest

Gas Station Encounters is a YouTube channel about crimes, cons, hijinx, and high weirdness in gas station stores

If Gas Station Encounters had been around in the 1980s, it would have run on Night Flight. This YouTube channel has an endless supply of videos depicting dumb stick-up men, con artists, bad drivers, and weird people. In the video above we see a small time grifter pulling a short change con on a cashier. The video includes narration by another cashier explaining how to spot this trick for the benefit of those who share his profession. And below are a couple of videos showing people who used gas station dumpsters to dispose their garbage, only to have it returned to their driveway by a gas station employee:

There are even videos of good samaritans, like this one where a guy parks his pickup truck in the parking lot and walks into the gas station store, failing to notice that his truck was rolling away. Another man standing in the parking lot made a heroic last minute save:

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Good news: Facebook's web traffic has dropped by almost half in the last two years

A new study revealed that monthly page visits to the user-hostile social media site Facebook have dropped from 8.5 billion to 4.7 billion since 2016.

From CNBC:

"Although Facebook's app traffic has grown, it is not enough to make up for that loss, the study said. Facebook took a market tumble last month when it reported that the number of daily active users remained flat in North America in the second quarter, and declined in Europe."

Meanwhile, traffic growth on YouTube is booming and will overtake Facebook as the second most popular website. The top spot is held by Google, which also owns YouTube.

Image: Brian Solis/Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Read the rest

This travel videographer made an incredible short video of his month in Seoul

Brandon Li captures the dazzling excitement and beauty of Seoul and its environs in seven minutes. The transitions and camera work are stunning. He shot two terabytes of data and spent three months, off and on, editing it.

He also made a director's commentary version of the video, which you can see here:

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Why are so many empty Vaseline containers appearing on this road in Calgary?

No one can explain why empty jars of Vaseline keep showing up on 68th Street N.E. in northeast Calgary. It's been going on for at least five years. There's even one of them in Google Street View, as you can see in this photo:

Rodel Bique, who works for the city of Calgary on the road crew, told CBC: "Too much. Too much Vaseline bottles here. We cannot count it. Maybe an average of 15 bottles, 15 to 20 in a month."

Unanswered questions: Who is using the Vaseline? For what purpose? And why are they throwing the empty containers in the street?

By the way, there are a lot of songs about Vaseline. The one by Elastica is the best, FYI:

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How to install Linux Mint on your Mac or Windows machine

I've started dabbling in the Linux operating system, for two reasons -- the Raspberry Pi (a $30 single board computer that runs on Linux) and losing the PIN code for my Bitcoin hardware wallet (which I recovered using an old MacBook Air running Linux).

If you are interested in Linux but don't know where to start, Lifewire has a good tutorial on how to install Linux Mint (one of the many different free distributions) on your Mac or Windows machine without overwriting the existing OS. That way, you can boot into either OS. It also shows you how to install Linux Mint onto a USB thumb drive and boot from that.

Another recommendation: the book Linux for Makers, which is a great intro to the operating system, especially for Pi users. Read the rest

How to fix broken scissor handles with a 3D printer

Andre Ferreira says: "My scissors handle broke, I was devastated! And then I thought, I could throw them away and buy some new ones for around $1. Or... I could spend 4 hours planning, measuring, CADing, 3D printing, fitting, glueing, and finishing a replacement handle. The choice was clear :)"

[via Maker Share] Read the rest

I was in Japan for 5 weeks and the only thing I missed were my hangnail nippers

Get ready for some Japan posts over the next few days, because I spent five wonderful weeks in Tokyo, Koya-san, and Kyoto. Carla, Jane, and I enjoyed it so much that we were not at all homesick. A few days before the end of our stay we tried to think of what we were looking forward to about Los Angeles. The only thing I could think of was the hangnail nippers I'd forgot to put in my travel kit. I had to use regular nail clippers to trim my hangnails, and they didn't do nearly as good of a job of getting to the nub as these little Tweezerman hangnail nippers ($12 on Amazon). I'll never forget them again. Read the rest

The trailer for Netflix's miniseries Maniac looks promising

Maniac, a 10-part miniseries on Netflix, debuts September 21. It stars Emma Stone, Owen Milgrim, Justin Theroux, and Sally Field. It's Cary Fukunaga, who also directed the ultra-creepy first season of True Detective.

From Netflix:

“Set in a world somewhat like our world, in a time quite similar to our time, Maniac tells the stories of Annie Landsberg (played by Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons. Annie’s disaffected and aimless, fixated on broken relationships with her mother and her sister. Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia. Neither of their lives have turned out quite right, and the promise of a new, radical kind of pharmaceutical treatment — a sequence of pills its inventor, Dr James K Mantleray (Justin Theroux), claims can repair anything about the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak — draws them and ten other strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re assured, with no complications or side-effects whatsoever, solve all of their problems, permanently. Things do not go as planned.

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Sheriff's Deputy Ashley Gruno put an 80 year old woman in jail for expired medical marijuana card

A kindly sheriff's deputy in Clare County, Michigan kept her community safe by locking up an 80-year-old woman who had a small amount of marijuana and an expired medical cannabis note. The senior uses weed to relieve her arthritis, diverticulitis, muscle, and bone pain.

From Marijuana Moment:

Saltzman had been a medical cannabis patient for about four years when Clare County Sheriff's Deputy Ashley Gruno visited Saltzman's home at around 9 p.m. on June 13.

According to court records, Deputy Gruno was there to locate Saltzman's great-granddaughter, who had lost her phone and ID, when she smelled marijuana while on Saltzman's porch.

Saltzman told the deputy the marijuana was hers. She also revealed that while she was a licensed medical marijuana patient, she had let her recommendation expire.

The officer seized "several pipes, four joints and one purple jar" with less than an eighth of an ounce of cannabis, Saltzman said.

The deputy then searched the octogenarian's bedroom, handcuffed her and took her off to jail for the night, where cold conditions severely aggravated her arthritis, she said.

The Clare County prosecutor dropped the charges after the woman renewed her card.

The sheriff defends the deputy's arrest. "What the person was doing was illegal," he said in a statement.

[via Reason]

Screenshot: Fox 17 West Michigan Read the rest

Washington Post made a good 17-minute video about the rise and fall of Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort, lobbyist for tyrannical foreign leaders and Trump's former campaign manager, is currently being tried on a 32 counts of tax fraud and offshore money laundering. This video by the Washington Post shows how well connected he was (he worked for Reagan and Bush), and how awful he is (he lobbied to arm murderous warlords and worked to change the image of thuggish Eastern European leaders). Is this the end of the road for Manafort? If the kooky judge presiding over Manafort's trial doesn't keep him out of prison, Trump will might give him a pardon, but he could still get nailed for violating laws in New York or another state. Read the rest

These "smart skin" stickers are also speakers

These stickers, thinner than temporary tattoos, have a grid of silver wires in them that make sound when electrified. They also work as microphones.

From ScienceMag:

After receiving an electric audio signal from a music player, the tiny loudspeaker heats up the wire grid to about 33°C, which replicates the sound pattern by changing the pressure of the surrounding air. Our ears pick up these changes in air pressure as sound waves.

The microphone operates in reverse, converting speech sound waves back into an electric signal, which can then be stored and played back by a smartphone or computer. It can detect sound waves coming from the mouth, but it can also recognize words simply from the rumbling of the vocal cords through the skin, the team reports today in Science Advances.

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This little gadget moves tiny drops of liquid around on a matrix

OpenDrop is a ~$800 microfluidics platform from GaudiLabs. It can be used to programmatically move droplets of liquid around a matrix. When I saw the video, I thought it was an LCD display, but it's real liquid being moved around.

Potential applications are lab on a chip devices for automating processes of digital biology. However the present design should also open the technology to other field and allow experimentation to find new applications. Including the field of art, music, games and education.

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Frank Frazetta’s Escape on Venus painting fetches $660,000 at auction

Heritage Auctions announced the sale of Frank Frazetta’s Escape on Venus for $660,000.

The price realized by Escape on Venus was the third-highest ever through Heritage Auctions for a Frazetta painting. Death Dealer 6 Painting Original Art (1990) brought a record $1,792,500 in May 2018, and Frank Frazetta At The Earth's Core Paperback Cover Painting Original Art (1974), sold for $1,075,500 in August 2016.

Used as the cover image for the 1974 re-issue of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel of the same name, Escape on Venus was created in 1972 and released as a print later in the decade.

"Frazetta was very proud of the work. Ever innovating, he worked to differentiate every piece in a unique way. While always conscious of his audience, he incessantly challenged himself. During this period, he expanded his palette with vivid hues, and boasted that he could make those colors work in a believable, sensuous way. No one can argue that he did not achieve his goal!

Frazetta has a legion of fans, and a major reason is that he crossed over into several categories, each with its own exuberant fan base. They can be distinguished as the 4Bs -- Babes, Burroughs, Barbarians, and Beasts. When a Frazetta image contains more than one element, the demand rises exponentially. This painting certainly covers three of the four.

Frank often liked to discuss (or hear) what made his images so popular, not just after the fact, but also at the time of publication. It is well known how his covers would immediately stimulate the sale of a publication.

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Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research, talks about his favorite tools

Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Theodore Gray the co-founder of Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha. He’s also the founder of App publisher Touch Press and the author of many books that Kevin and I own and love, including The Elements, Molecules, Reactions, and Mad Science. He’s also the proprietor of

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Show notes:

GU Eagle BF-1309 Laser Cutter

"I used to have a lot of different tools that I really liked. I like tools. I'm kind of tool guy. But once I got this laser cutter, it's like everything else has fallen by the wayside, because this thing is just so much more fun and more enabling of things that any other tool I've ever had. ...Their smallest and cheapest model is a 130 watt CO2 tube with a 51 by 35 inch working area. I mean, this thing is the size of a grand piano. And it's like it's huge. It's way, way bigger than I had any intention of getting, and frankly more than I had planned to spend on a laser cutter. … . It's just huge, and it's very powerful, and it's very fast, and it can cut half-inch acrylic like butter. You can actually cut inch-thick acrylic if you're willing to go a little slow."

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Deep Cut Band Saw

"A handheld bandsaw. This was probably, I don't know, more than 20 years ago when I was building a house. Read the rest

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