'Murder hornets' arrive in the U.S., beekeepers fear mass honeybee deaths

A species of giant hornets native to Asia, nicknamed “murder hornets,” with mandibles that look like spiky shark fins they use to bite the heads off honeybees. People who've been stung by these hornets say their venom and stingers feel like hot metal driving into skin. Read the rest

Pittsburgh's tradition of claiming a public parking space by putting a chair in it

In Pittsburgh, it's understood that if there is a chair in a parking spot on the street, that spot has been claimed and is not yours to park in. The citizens have "chair respect."

As William Gibson said, "The street finds its own uses for things."

(via Kottke) Read the rest

US releases proposed rule to ban emotional support animals on planes

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is seeking to ban emotional support animals from airplane cabins, reports Roll Call. Under the proposed rule, only specially trained dogs that assist disabled people would be permitted on planes.

From Roll Call:

The rule comes amid a spate of high-profile stories of airplane passengers trying to bring support animals, including miniature horses, capuchin monkeys and peacocks, on airplanes. Airlines facing such menageries had little specific guidance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience, and we are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone," said Nicholas E. Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, a trade association.

Cats, rats, capuchin monkeys and any animal other than a dog would not qualify as a service animal under the rule, which would limit the number of service animals a passenger can bring to two.

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After random surveillance images started to show up on users' devices, Google blocked Xiaomi from running Assistant or Google Home

Last week, a redditor posted that "When I load the Xiaomi camera in my Google home hub I get stills from other people's homes!!" The post included video of the user's tablet showing stills of strangers in their homes, including some of strangers asleep in their bedrooms. Read the rest

William Gibson profiled in The New Yorker

In the December 9, 2019 issue of The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman profiles one of the most influential authors in recent decades, William Gibson.

Gibson doesn’t have a name for his method; he knows only that it isn’t about prediction. It proceeds, instead, from a deep engagement with the present. When Gibson was starting to write, in the late nineteen-seventies, he watched kids playing games in video arcades and noticed how they ducked and twisted, as though they were on the other side of the screen. The Sony Walkman had just been introduced, so he bought one; he lived in Vancouver, and when he explored the city at night, listening to Joy Division, he felt as though the music were being transmitted directly into his brain, where it could merge with his perceptions of skyscrapers and slums. His wife, Deborah, was a graduate student in linguistics who taught E.S.L. He listened to her young Japanese students talk about Vancouver as though it were a backwater; Tokyo must really be something, he thought. He remembered a weeping ambulance driver in a bar, saying, “She flatlined.” On a legal pad, Gibson tried inventing words to describe the space behind the screen; he crossed out “infospace” and “dataspace” before coming up with “cyberspace.” He didn’t know what it might be, but it sounded cool, like something a person might explore even though it was dangerous.

(Image: William Gibson by Frédéric Poirot , CC-BY) Read the rest

Lawsuit: Burger King cooking vegan burgers on same grill plate as meat

Does cooking a Impossible Burger on the same surface used to cook normal burgers "contaminate" them with meat by-products? Is Burger King doing this? A vegan diner makes these claims in a lawsuit filed Monday against the fast-food chain. Reuters:

The lawsuit filed in Miami federal court seeks damages for all U.S. purchasers of the Impossible Whopper, and an injunction requiring Burger King to “plainly disclose” that Impossible Whoppers and regular burgers are cooked on the same grills. [Burger King] describes the Impossible Burger as “100% Whopper, 0% Beef,” and adds that “for guests looking for a meat-free option, a non-broiler method of preparation is available upon request.”

Read the rest

"Softbody Tetris": what if tetronimoes were made of jello?

C4D4U's SOFTBODY TETRIS V16 is (as the name implies), the latest in a series of "softbody" simulations of Tetris, in which the tetronimoes are rubbery, jelly-like solids that glisten as they wobble into place. It's an incredibly soothing thing to watch (C4D4U calls them "ASMR for my eyes") and part of a wider genre of softbody sims. JWZ argues that this "becomes intolerable" upon the "realization that completed rows don't liquify" but if that's your thing, you need SOFTBODY TETRIS V9. Read the rest

Man helps beaver carry branch

This kind man assisted a beaver with a heavy burden. Read the rest

Supreme Court blocks House Democrats' subpoena for Trump's tax returns, for now

The Supreme Court today issued an administrative stay that blocks a subpoena from House Democrats for Donald Trump's tax returns. Read the rest

Kentucky atheist can get ‘IM GOD’ license plate, US court rules

A federal court ruled today that an atheist gentleman from Kentucky should be permitted to get a personalized license plate from the state with the phrase “IM GOD” on it. The man is committed to his cause -- this only took three years of legal fighting. Read the rest

Narwhal the 'Unicorn Puppy' has 'tail' on head he can't wag

10-week-old puppy Narwhal has tail-like appendage growing from forehead

Meet Narwhal, an abandoned puppy with an extra tail on his head

Staff at Mac's Mission, an animal rescue center in Missouri, named him Narwhal. The healthy 10-week-old pup has an extra tail, smack in the middle of his forehead.

Rochelle Steffen, who runs Mac's Mission, named after a pit-bull terrier she rescued seven and a half years ago, told BBC News Narwhal "is in no pain and plays for hours". ... And X-rays had showed his secondary tail, about a third the size of his actual tail, was not connected to anything and served no purpose other than to make him the "coolest puppy ever".

Narwhal will not be made available for adoption until he's grown up some, to confirm the secondary tail is healthy. Read the rest

Taxpayers spent $10b for Trump's wall (so far); smugglers are cutting it with $100 saws and $10 blades

Cutting through the vertical bollards in Trump's "virtually impenetrable" wall takes mere minutes, using a $100 reciprocating saw and "extreme metal cutting" blades that sell for $10-15; once cut, the length of the bollards provides leverage to wall-cutters so they can be easily bent to allow a person to pass through them, and afterwards, the bollards can be replaced and cemented with easy-to-cut putty that border patrol officers often mistake for official repair welds (these welds are only slightly harder to cut through than the putty). Read the rest

Beautiful boxed set of two Octavia Butler novels

Seven Stories press just released this gorgeous boxed set of Octavia E. Butler's Parable novels. It's available today and would make a great gift for any reader.

This boxed set pairs the bestselling Nebula-prize nominee, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, which together tell the near-future odyssey of Lauren Olamina, a "hyper-empathic" young woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. In Sower, set in California in 2024, small walled communities protect from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of "Paints," people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. It is into this landscape that Lauren begins her journey, traveling on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown. The book has an introduction by feminist, journalist, activist, and author Gloria Steinem.

Parable of the Talents celebrates the classic Butlerian themes of alienation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and freedom, separation and community, to astonishing effect, in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032. It is told in the voice of Lauren Olamina's daughter –– from whom she has been separated for most of the girl's life –– with selections from Lauren's journal. Against a background of a war-torn continent, and with a far-right religious crusader in the office of the U.S. presidency, this is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn asunder, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet.

Read the rest

This website generates a new RPG dungeon every time you refresh the page

One Page Dungeon is a website that procedurally generates a new role-playing dungeon every time you press Enter (or refresh the page).

[via Clive Thompson] Read the rest

Scientists train rats to drive little cars to collect food, and the rats like it

Researchers at the University of Richmond in Virginia trained rats to hop into little cars and drive them to collect food. The rats' success suggest their brains have more plasticity than previously assumed. Read the rest

Super genius blows up backyard trying to kill critters

This is some serious Wile E. Coyote-level gopher management going on here. Read the rest

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