Kids find a cool unintended use for AirPods

Louis Andslow tweets: "Kids are swapping AirPods in class then using text to speech to ‘talk’ without talking."

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First person video of a bike ride through Shinjuku, Tokyo

I love watching Nippon Wandering TV (NWT), where a guy straps on a GoPro and walks and bikes around Japan. I often run the videos on a second screen while I work just to listen to the ambient sounds of traffic, footsteps, and pedestrian chatter. In this video, NWT hops on a bike and pedals around Shinjuku, a lively ward in Tokyo.

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US drinking water is a "toxic soup" of "forever chemicals"

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are linked to cancer and liver damage, were used in a number of products, including Teflon and Scotchgard. PFAS take such a long time to break down in the environment that they are described as "forever chemicals."

David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which just issued a report about widespread PFAS pollution in the United States water supply, told Reuters, “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals.” From the article:

Of tap water samples taken by EWG from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington D.C., only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which relies on 700 foot (215 m) deep wells, had no detectable PFAS. Only Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama had levels below 1 part per trillion (PPT), the limit EWG recommends.

In addition, EWG found that on average six to seven PFAS compounds were found at the tested sites, and the effects on health of the mixtures are little understood. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals,” Andrews said.

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Person who offered $500 for lost cat gets mad when cat finder wants the reward

From Reddit's popular r/AmItheAsshole subreddit, in which people describe a recent action they took and ask readers to decide whether or not they behaved in an assholelike manner: a man says he saw a poster offering a $500 reward for a cat, found the cat, and returned it to claim the reward. The cat owner was surprised that the cat finder wanted the reward, and only reluctantly gave him a portion of it.

AITA for asking for the $500 reward money after I returned a lost cat? from r/AmItheAsshole

Reddit's judgement: not an asshole.

Photo by Ludemeula Fernandes on Unsplash

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Boing Boing is 20 (or 33) years old today

Today is the twentieth anniversary of Boing Boing in its current incarnation. It looked like this in 2000.

Here's a brief history of Boing Boing, which actually goes back 33 years.

Carla and I conceived of it as a print zine in 1987. The first issue of bOING bOING came out in 1988. We printed 100 copies on a Xerox machine. I sent a copy to Factsheet Five, which was a zine that reviewed zines. Based on the review that ran in Factsheet Five, we sold all the copies. We also got an order from a newsstand distributor for 100 copies of the next issue. So we printed 200 copies of the second issue, sending 100 to the distributor and 100 to people sending $3 cash to us in the mail. We basically followed a Moore’s law style growth curve. The final issue of bOING bOING, number 15, had a print run of 17,500. Unfortunately it was our last print issue because our two major newsstand distributors went bankrupt, owing us tens of thousands of dollars.

In 1995 I was an editor at Wired and one of my friends who worked at Hotwired, the magazine's online spinoff, registered for us and we started running occasional articles on the website.

In 2000 I wrote an article for a magazine called the Industry Standard, about web logs. To learn about how web logs worked, I got a Blogger account and started posting things on (I forgot to register Read the rest

Insect apocalypse - mayfly population has dropped 50% since 2012

Insect populations around the world are plummeting. The latest indicator of the insect apocalypse is the sharp decline in the number of mayflies, reports National Geographic. The winged insects can form swarms of up to 80 billion and are an important source of food for fish, birds, and bats.

According to a study published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mayfly populations throughout northern Mississippi and Lake Erie have dropped by over 50%.

NatGeo cites a number of possible reasons for the precipitous decline: an abundance of pesticide pollutants in freshwater systems, mayfly nymph-killing algae blooms caused from fertilizer runoff, and higher water temperatures brought on by climate change.

From the article:

Unfortunately, they’re not alone: Studies around the world have shown alarming declines of a wide variety of insects. A study published in the journal Biological Conservation in April suggested that 40 percent of all insect species are in decline and could die out in the coming decades. (Learn more: Why insect populations are plummeting, and why it matters.)

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Gentleman calls police after Target employee won't sell him an electric toothbrush mispriced at $0.01

David Leavitt, a self-described "award winning" journalist in Massachusetts, called the police after a Target employee refused to sell him an Oral B Pro 5000 electric toothbrush that had been mispriced at $0.01. The police told Leavitt he would have to sue Target if he wanted the toothbrush for a penny.

Leavitt called out the employee by name and posted her photo to Twitter. He also created a #TargetTori hashtag to encourage others to shame her. But Leavitt's plan backfired. Someone started a GoFundMe account for the employee and the donations have so far exceeded $30,000. Tori started a Twitter account, called @RealTargetTori.

This isn't the first time Leavitt tweeted something that wasn't well-received. In 2017, just hours after a suicide bombing left 23 people dead and 139 wounded at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, Leavitt tweeted: "MULTIPLE CONFIRMED FATALITIES at Manchester Arena. The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too."

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Rice cooker pancakes look delicious

Whenever we go to Japan, we gorge on the fluffy souffle pancakes they serve in special pancake cafes there. Our favorite pancake cafe is Flipper's, but we also like Gram and Happy Pancake.

We were recently in Singapore and I took a video of a stack of 3 jiggly Gram pancakes being served to Carla:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mark Frauenfelder (@frauenfelder) on Jan 4, 2020 at 10:38pm PST

We've tried making these pancakes at home, but we can't achieve the same kind of bounciness and fluffiness. So when I saw this tweet about a guy who cooked a pancake in his rice cooker, I did a Google search for "pancake in a rice cooker" and learned that this is something people actually do and now I'm excited to try it myself.

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Man insults all 50 US state flags in a 2-minute video

Here's one of the 50 insults Matt Buechele hurled towards the US state flags: "Nevada started this project, meant to finish it later, then they just had to submit it at the last second."

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City official in Japan who tried to jump between subway platforms to be "punished"

NHK World News reports the man in a subway platform jumper video has been identified as a Nara City official and "faces punishment."

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FDA expands access to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the US FDA is clearing the way for ten clinics around the United States to treat PTSD patients with MDMA. It's likely that the FDA will grant full approval for the therapy in 2020, reports New Atlas. From the article:

MAPS has previously hypothesized thousands of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy clinics will open up across the United States. In the near future these clinics may not only administer MDMA for PTSD but also psilocybin, which is currently proving promising for a variety of conditions, including major depression.

The FDA approval for Expanded Access is yet another validation of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy’s safety and efficacy following extraordinarily positive early clinical trial results. Current Phase 3 trials are set to run until 2021 and complete market approval could come as early as 2022.

Image by DMTrott - Own work. Originally published in The Drug Users Bible [ISBN: 978-0995593688]., CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Read the rest

Video about making blacker-than-Vantablack pigment in a home lab

I always like seeing what Ben Krasnow is up to in his garage, whether it's making astronaut ice cream or a refrigerator that works by stretching rubber bands. (Ben was a guest on my Cool Tools podcast a few years back). In the latest episode of his excellent Applied Science YouTube channel, Ben describes the process of making pigment that absorbs even more light than Vantablack, which absorbs 99.965% of visible light.

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Good deal on Blokus Duo strategy game

Blokus Duo is a fun strategy game for two people. Players take turns placing their tiles on a grid, making sure the tile touches another of the same color on a corner only. When no more tiles can be placed, the player with the fewest remaining pieces wins. Amazon has the game on sale now for Read the rest

A nice video introduction to the Linux terminal

If you have a Macintosh, you can enter the Unix terminal by opening (There's a way to do it in Windows, too, but I don't know how.) From there, you have command-line control of your computer. If you are a Raspberry Pi aficionado, you probably know about the Linux command line. This episode of Explaining Computers has a great introduction to the Linux terminal, and shows you some of the useful things you can do in it.

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Picking the lock on a weird tire-deflating anti-car theft device

You can buy a little anti-theft device that locks to the valve stem of a car tire. If the car is driven faster than 17 miles an hour, the air leaks out of the tire. The device is made of bright green plastic so that a would-be thief will spot it and be discouraged from stealing the car. It's a neat idea, but the LockPickingLawyer was able to pick the lock in a jiffy using a "low-skill raking attack." And that means professional car thieves already know how to pick the locks on these things, too.

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What is the meaning of this unusual sticker spotted on a jeep?

Forest Casey asks, "Still thinking about this absolutely bonkers decal I saw on both sides of this Jeep in LA. What could it mean?"

Best guess so far:

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How to do like this $2,500,000 wristwatch? "This look like a Burger King watch"

It's hard to argue with Loafer connoisseur's assessment of the Richard Mille Blue Sapphire Skull Tourbillon, which costs $2,500,000: "This look like a Burger King watch"

Here's a  Burger King Sponge Bob Watch Display Set for sale on eBay:

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