Trou: a soft, CCTV-bugged interactive sculpture that you ram your hand and arm into

Trou is an interactive sculpture from Valencia, Spain's Mireia Donat Melús: the nylon and silicon fiber blob invites viewers to don a surgical glove and insert their hands and arms into an elastic orifice in the sculpture's surface -- and watching their probing appendage from within via a live video-feed. Read the rest

Spanish football app turns users into unwitting surveillance operatives

Spain's got a stiffy for football, or soccer, if you must.

When a football match is on, just about everyone in the country loses their minds. TVs are gathered round, siestas are forgone, and team songs, in any bar you chance, will be full of scarf-swinging loons banging on tables and screaming for every goal. It’s loud, chaotic and lovely. For many Spaniards, catching a game while on the go involves downloading a smartphone app fronted by Spain’s national football league, Liga de Fútbol Profesional. Available for iOS and Android handsets, the La Liga app is not only licensed to stream football games, but also lets users keep track of the stats for their favorite teams and players.

Oh, it also tracks your every move and taps your smartphone's microphone, supposedly in the name of helping to root out unauthorized match broadcasts in bars, restaurants and cafes.

From El Dario, via Google Translate:

The Liga de Fútbol Profesional, the body that runs the most important sports competition in Spain, is using mobile phones of football fans to spy on bars and other public establishments that put matches for their clients. Millions of people in Spain have this application on their phone, which accumulates more than 10 million downloads, according to data from Google and Apple.

All of these people can become undercover informants for La Liga and the owners of football television broadcasting rights. If they give their consent for the app to use the device's microphone (which is common in many applications), they are actually giving permission for La Liga to remotely activate the phone's microphone and try to detect if what it sounds like is a bar or public establishment where a football match is being projected without paying the fee established by the chains that own the broadcasting rights.

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I owe Anthony Bourdain so much

I’ve always felt the urge to leave. Any place. No matter how beautiful. I want to go. When I was 18 and finished with high school, I attended my graduation ceremony, for the sake of my family, but I skipped my prom – Canada’s east coast was calling. I’d never been there before. I didn’t know what I’d find. But I was going. I made a life for myself out there, with university, work and music. I traveled up and down the coast. Cape Breton feels like a second home to me. I love the people of Maine. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have a place in my heart.

But eventually, I left the east. Rage, the self-entitlement that sometimes comes from surviving a shitty childhood and a need for control left me very much out of control. I destroyed a fine long-term relationship looking for who I was. I burned bridges. I did terrible things to myself and others. It was time to move on. My travels took me back home to Ontario. My father was dying. I loved and hated him for who he was and what he had done to our family. Coming home was a terror.

Uneasily settled back into my hometown, I fought to push the dogs of my recent past down into the cellar of my soul where their bark did not seem so loud. I’d gone to university for journalism, but felt too shattered by life to write. I took on a job I despised and worked it for years. Read the rest

Spain's austerity-loving, authoritarian Prime Minister loses no-confidence vote and is replaced by a socialist

Spanish politics have been a mess for a decade, since the financial crisis triggered brutal austerity that gutted Spanish services and quality of life to ensure that bondholders did not suffer an interruption in debt service; then came the Catalan independence vote, the violent suppression of same, then Madrid seized control over the autonomous region of Catalonia. Read the rest

Finding a "secret" Chinese restaurant in Madrid

The folks at Great Big Story went to Madrid to find a hidden Chinese restaurant known as "The Underground."

Underneath a plaza in Madrid lies one of Spain’s greatest culinary secrets. Cafetería Yulong Zhou is home to some of the best Chinese food in the country. Getting there, however is another story. With no exact address or email, trying to find the restaurant takes some expert sleuthing. With the help of a friend and a hint, we embarked on the journey. Spoiler alert: the dumplings made the trek totally worth it.

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Madrid will help police dogs to live their best dog lives

While police dogs are typically treated well by their handlers, they don't have the best life a doggo could imagine. While much of their training is framed as play and through task/reward, stuff pups live for, they're all too often exposed to loud, stressful situations and violence. The Spanish city of Madrid has 22 dogs serving on its police force. While nothing can be done to keep their dogs away from the stresses of police work, the city is going through a whole lot of trouble to ensure that their downtime will be as enjoyable as possible.

According to The Guardian, the city of Madrid has taken the time to figure out how to de-stress their police dogs at the end of their shift and has spent three months modifying their kennels to increase the animals' quality of life.

At the end of a long day of police work, the dogs can now return home to heated beds, toys and a play area. What's more, all of the dogs will be exposed to music therapy in order to bring down their stress levels:

The type of music and the amount to which they are exposed will depend on what tasks to which the dogs are assigned. While all the dogs are classified as detectors, each is specialized in a particular field, such as detecting drugs, explosives and counterfeit money, while some are dedicated to rescue operations.

No matter what classification the doggos are assigned for the work that they do, they share one thing in common: heavy metal music is off-limits. Read the rest

"Time capsule" letters from 18th century found in Jesus's butt

Preservationists restoring an 18th century statue of Jesus that was hanging in Burgos, Spain's church of St. Águeda found a two handwritten letters tucked into the figure's buttocks. Dated 1777, the notes were written by chaplin Joaquín Mínguez from the Burgo de Osma cathedral. The letters will be archived by the office of the Archibishop of Burgos while copies were put back into the statue's bottom. From National Geographic:

In his letters, Mínguez paints a picture of the region's day-to-day economic and cultural activity. The chaplain first notes that the statue was created by a man named Manuel Bal, who created other wooden statues for churches in the region. He then describes the successful harvests of various grains like wheat, rye, oats, and barley and stores of wine.

Mínguez also names diseases like malaria and typhoid fever plaguing the village during this time period, but adds that cards and balls were used for entertainment.

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Spanish central government fires Catalonian government officials, police chiefs

Yesterday, the Catalonian parliament declared independence from Spain; today, the central government in Madrid made good on its promise to impose direct rule on the region, firing the top tier of the government and the chiefs of the police force; Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez, chief of the regional police force (Mossos d’Esquadra) has been charged with sedition for refusing to block polling places during the independence referendum earlier this week. Read the rest

Catalonian parliament declares independence from Spain

Days after the Spanish central government announced its plan to impose direct rule on Catalonia, deposing the elected regional government, the Catalonian government has declared independence, citing the outcome of a referendum earlier this month in which Spanish police fired rubber bullets and administered ferocious, unprovoked beatings against people heading to the polls. Read the rest

Spanish government announces plan to seize power in Catalonia, remove elected government

Yesterday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced plans to remove the democratically elected regional government of Catalonia and replace them with direct rule by the national government in Madrid. Read the rest

Papercraft haunted dollhouse furniture, housewares and decor

Spanish Etsy seller EasyPrintAndCut makes tiny, printable papercraft furniture, housewares and decor for haunted dollhouses: grimoires, vampire hunting kits, spooky wallpaper and wainscotting, tiny taxidermy, adorably tiny engravings from tiny gothic antique books and much more -- all for instant delivery. Read the rest

Catalonian General Strike called for tomorrow, separation imminent

The brutal repression that Spain's government meted out to Catalonians in yesterday's independence referendum has cemented the determination of many in the region to be shut of the government, which is perceived as authoritarian and in thrall to the banks (especially the bondholders who worked with the EU to impose punishing austerity on Spain). Read the rest

Spanish tech activists publish a "how-to guide for preserving fundamental rights on the Internet"

As the Spanish government was hacking the Catalonian independence movement, shutting down the .cat top-level domain, and engaging mass-blocking of websites and apps to control information about yesterday's referendum on Catalonian independence, the Xnet collective published a basic (but wide-ranging) guide to "preserving fundamental rights on the Internet," suitable for anyone living under the kind of state suppression that Spain underwent. Read the rest

Troops fire rubber bullets to prevent Catalan independence vote, injure at least 465

The Catalonian referendum on independence from Spain went ahead today, using the backup ballot boxes the opposition had secretly procured in anticipation of the brutal crackdown on the independence movement by the central government in Madrid, which included snatching elected officials and seizing ballot boxes. Read the rest

After Madrid seized Catalonia's ballot boxes, they unveiled their secret backup stash of ballot boxes

The austerity-crazed central government of Spain in Madrid is determined to prevent the citizens of Catalonia from voting on independence on October 1: they sent thousands of militarized national guards into the region (transporting them via a commandeered cruise ship) to seize ballot boxes and ballot papers, arrest members of the Catalonian government, and they've attempted to seize control over the Catalonian internet to prevent planning and discussion of Catalan independence, citing a Spanish court ruling that banned the referendum. Read the rest

Spain's right-wing government orders brutal police crackdown on Catalan independence referendum

The 2015 Catalan elections were widely viewed as a proxy referendum on independence from Spain and the brutal austerity imposed by Madrid, whose courts declared independence referendums to be illegal, augmenting its legal attacks against the Catalan independence movement with withering cyber-attacks, a brutal move that drove support for Spain's left-wing/anti-austerity parties. Read the rest

"Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?"

Julio writes, "That's the question that we, the people of Catalonia, will answer on 1 October, day of the referendum for independence. Some of us didn't want independence from Spain 15-20 years ago, but the central government (specially with the right-wing Partido Popular at the helm) has orchestrated a political and judicial prosecution of free speech in Catalonia. The corrupt Partido Popular has destroyed jobs, tried to dismantle public services, going to bed with the local oligarchs." Read the rest

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