Philadelphians debate whether parks and rec centers should use anti-personnel weapons that indiscriminately target children

The "Mosquito" is a high-pitched tone generator designed only to be audible to children and teens, and not to adults, in whose ears the nerve cells that detect these high tones have died off. Read the rest

Boing Boing presents: Skeleton Boy, a moving short documentary about the life, death and afterlife of Harry Eastlack, star of the Mutter Museum

Philadelphia's Mutter Museum (previously) is one of my favorite museums in the world: built from the private collection of pathologist Dr Thomas Dent (who aggregated the collections of many other pathologists), it is a solemn and moving place to see the incredible breadth of human physiognomy and pathology. Read the rest

Uber drivers across America are going on strike -- UPDATED

Update: Shona from Gig Workers Rising clarifies: "Gig Workers Rising isn't organizing the national day of action. Drivers in each of the 6 cities taking action are coordinating the day of action together. Drivers in LA with Rideshare Drivers United Los Angeles called a strike and asked other cities to take action on the same day. Gig Workers Rising supports and educates drivers who are organizing across the state. We are not organizing drivers."

On May 8, Uber drivers are organizing a nationwide shutdown of Uber, with drivers turning off their apps in protest over low pay: so far, seven cities' drivers are signed up: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis, LA and DC. Uber and Lyft have both slashed pay for drivers and raised prices as they try to assuage the capital markets. Read the rest

Philadelphia city council candidate says his secret AI has discovered disqualifying fraud in the nominations of 30 out of 33 candidates

Devon Cade -- a former bureaucrat who now describes himself as a "philanthropist" -- has asked a court to disqualify 30 out of the 33 other Democrats standing in the primary for the city's council elections on the grounds that the signatures on their nominating petitions were forged. Read the rest

Grifter steals dead peoples' houses in gentrifying Philadelphia by forging deed transfers, then flipping them

At least six empty houses owned by the estates of Philadelphians ended up in the hands of William Ernest Johnson III, a violent felon currently on parole; the houses were then sold on to developers who renovated and flipped them. Read the rest

Philadelphia science museum employees accused of stealing $50,000 worth of bugs

The Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion is missing $50,000 worth of bugs; the loss wasn't immediately discovered because bugs are small and the Insectarium often moves its specimens around for exhibitions, lendouts, etc. -- but when 80-90% of your collection goes missing, you notice. Read the rest

Just in time for summer: Pizza-flavored ice cream

Little Baby's Ice Cream in Philadelphia is known for their oddly-flavored ice cream (and, their bizarro ads) but they've outdone themselves with their latest icy offering. Since mid-June, the frozen dessert purveyor has been serving up PIZZA ICE CREAM. What makes it pizza-y? Tomato, basil, oregano, salt and garlic. For some people, that just isn't enough pizza pie, so they've taken upon themselves to plop a scoop on top of a hot slice of pizza.

(USAToday)

Previously, the pizza lovers edition: Pizza slice-shaped bags for, well, your slices of pizza Read the rest

PA supreme court: was illegal to steal elderly woman's home because her son sold $140 of weed

It took four years, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of 72 year old grandmother Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney under asset forfeiture rules when her son was caught selling $140 worth of marijuana to undercover agents.

Under civil forfeiture rules, cops and DAs get to steal property suspected of being the proceeds of a crime, then they sue the inanimate objects. The owners of the objects can hire lawyers to represent their property, while the taxpayers foot the bill for the state's side of the suit. If the government wins, it gets to keep the property or sell it and pocket the proceeds.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court blasted the DA for the seizure and reminded the state's lawyers and cops that they can only invoke civil forfeiture when there is good reason to believe that the property's owner "knew of and agreed to the crimes" in question.

The cop who bought the marijuana from Young's son is currently serving a 3.5 year federal prison sentence for planting drugs on suspects.

Young is far from the only person to have her house seized by the Philadelphia D.A. for a minor drug crime that she didn't even commit. In 2013, Philadelphia police seized the house of Christos and Markela Sourovelis after their son was arrested for selling $40-worth of drugs outside of it.

The Sourovelis' sued, with assistance from the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that has challenged asset forfeiture laws in several states.

Read the rest

94% decline in librarians for Philadelphia's public schools

Since 1991, the number of full-time librarians working in Philadelphia's cash-strapped, budget-slashed public schools has declined by 94% -- only eight remain, while the state continues to trail the nation in literacy scores. Read the rest

Neon street mural transforms seedy South Philly side street

Percy Street is one of those irregular side streets found in older American neighborhoods like South Philadelphia. Cramped and dark, it became a favorite haunt of ne'er-do-wells until the installation of the neon-infused "Electric Street" mural. Now it's a destination of locals and tourists, and the increased traffic has tamped down the bad behavior. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders overcome with emotion as his brother Larry casts delegate vote at DNC

In Philadelphia today at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, an emotionally overwhelming moment for Bernie Sanders as Democrats Abroad cast their votes for the party's 2016 presidential nominee. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders' Democratic National Convention speech

A sustained and rousing standing ovation for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, tonight. Read the rest

Crowdfunding Wooden Shoe, an anti-profit bookstore and infoshop in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's Wooden Shoe Bookstore is 40 years old: it's a collectively run, volunteer "anti-profit" bookstore; they're hoping to raise $25,000 for much-needed remodelling and refurbishment. Read the rest

This is the world's largest musical instrument

The Wanamaker Organ, inside a Philadelphia, PA Macy's, is the world's largest working musical instrument.

The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ at Macy’s is a 7-story-high contraption bigger than most people’s houses, even rich people’s. The vast maze of 26,677 pipes and baffles and bellows and wires and wooden stairways lies hidden behind what many of us have always thought was the Wanamaker Organ.

(YouTube/Philadelphia Daily News, via Digg)

Read the rest

Gardner Dozois is selling his book collection

The celebrated and decorated anthologist and editor (that's him on the right, with me and Gene Wolfe) who served at Asimov's for decades is selling off his massive collection, which he hopes to keep intact. Read the rest

Philly TSA supervisor Charles Kieser sent a traveller to jail for asking to file a complaint

After sending Roger Vanderklok for jail for the audacity of asking to file a complaint, Philadelphia International Airport TSA supervisor Charles Kieser then lied about what happened on the stand in court. He fabricated an aggressive confrontation and a bomb threat, neither of which are in evidence on the CCTV footage or in the police report. His victim was help incommunicado in jail, panicking his wife who had no idea where he'd gone. Kieser gets to keep his job. Read the rest

Philadelphia schools have $5/student/year for supplies

"Education reform," the charter school movement (that siphons state funding for well-off kids into private hands), the racialized segregation of inner-city and suburban school districts, No Child Left Behind, and the scapegoating of teachers' unions has produced an education system that hardly even qualifies as a 12-year babysitting service. Read the rest

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