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New CCTV camera-blinding anti-surveillance glasses

She's blinding us with science, or just hipster gimmicks?—Reflectables

She’s blinding us with science, or hipster gimmicks?—Reflectables

A Tweet by someone I follow on Twitter alerted me to the Reflectables Kickstarter project, which is raising funds to make two styles of highly-reflective, high-spec eyewear—one style to make their wearer blindingly obvious at night and another that will also blind security cameras that use infrared light!

As the Kickstarter page puts it:

“Maintain your privacy from surveillance cameras. Alert drivers of your presence while biking. Reflectacles make you seen and unseen!”

These Ray-Ban-styled eyeglass frames are designed by “custom-spectacles-craftsman” Scott Urban. They’re so-called Reflectables because they’re faced with retro-reflective film—like street signs (or the back of my bike trailer).

The Original style will be available in seven colours of retro-reflective film that reflects visible light only.

The seven available colours of Reflectables Originals.—Reflectables

The seven available colours of Reflectables Originals.—Reflectables

A second Reflectables Ghost style will features frames faced with a silver retro-reflective film that can reflect both visible light and invisible infrared light. This extra feature is specifically designed to blind CCTV security cameras that rely on infrared for their night vision.

Reflectables won’t be cheap. A single pair of the Reflectables Originals will cost (in U.S. dollars) $85 to $95. An a single pair of Reflectables Ghosts will cost $125. There will be a variety of lens options for each.

It all sounds rather gimmicky to me. A cyclist would be ill-advised, I think, to rely on these for night visibility. And the invisible infrared-reflecting thing is not also novel and gimmicky but has a strong scofflaw/tinfoil hat twist.

So who are these not-inexpensive frames aimed at? They have an undeniably exclusive/goofy/niche/retro/tech vibe and my first inclination was to see them as yet more hipster-bait, not unlike another Kickstarter project, the silly Astrohaus Freewrite, which I described at the beginning of the year as a distraction-free typewriter for hipsters.

As with the Freewrite, there is very a serious narrative built up around Reflectables to justify and explain why the world needs what they offer. And like the Freewrite, the capabilities offered by Reflectables weren’t entirely new to me either. Read more…

Half a sunrise was better than no sunrise at all


These blue rubber ribbons I’ve started seeing on the streets add a nice touch of colour.

The only thing to know about Vancouver on this first day of December was that, for a least a few hours, it stopped raining. Everything else that follows is just incidental detail.

To begin with, I woke up this morning wondering if snow had fallen overnight. It wasn’t especially cold, but peeking out of my sleeping bag, what little of the world I could see out the open northern end of my parkade sleeping spot was very pale indeed—snow white even.

But it wasn’t piled up snow I was seeing, it was a blank curtain of fog fallen entirely across the northern view.

Where the towers of downtown Vancouver—and behind them the North Shore Mountains—would normally be on the north side of False Creek, at 7 a.m. this morning, there was only an empty, effervescent greyness.

I didn’t even bother take a photo of the foggy view looking north because, well, there was truly nothing to see. Read more…

Why there’s beef tallow in our money and vice versa

There's beef in Canadian polymer bills, in case you hadn't noticed.

One of Canada’s meaty polymer banknotes.

This week a lot of people around the world discovered that there was meat in their money.

On Monday, November 28, the Bank of England admitted that there were traces of beef tallow (rendered animal fat) in the new British £5 note. Later in the day the Bank of Canada confirmed that tallow was likewise present in Canadian polymer banknotes.

By the way, it was only after answering the inquiries of serious Canadian media outlets like the National Post and the CBC that Canada’s chief money maker got around to answering the email inquiry that this Canadian blogger sent it on November 27:

“In response to your email inquiry, Canada’s polymer bank notes have considerable benefits—they are more secure, durable, cost-effective than paper bank notes. Safer, cheaper and greener, Canadians use them with confidence. Polymer substrate used as a base for bank notes contains additives that help with the polymer manufacturing process, similar to many commercially available plastics. Our supplier of polymer substrate, Innovia Security, has confirmed to us that these additives may include extremely small amounts of tallow. The Bank has actively followed up with Innovia, who are investigating the matter further, and have committed to keep the Bank informed as to their next steps.”

The Bank of Canada’s email reply to CBC News, which was reproduced on As It Happens’ Twitter account, was more substantive and to the point:

It’s debatable whether “substantially less than 1% of the total weight of the substrate” equals “miniscule” but the real question was why beef tallow was an ingredient in plastic money at all.

Innovia Films (as the company refers to itself), provides polymer for the banknotes of 24 countries, including Canada and its spokesperson explained on Monday that it adds beef tallow to give its Guardian banknote polymer better anti-static qualities.

But still I wondered, why beef tallow? Read more…

Beef fat in new British £5 note likely in Canadian polymer bills also


Vegans and others in the United Kingdom are outraged that the new fiver issued by the Bank of England inexplicably contains trace elements of beef tallow.

Given the fact, Canadian vegans may want to avoid licking their fingers when they count their money because it means that Canada’s polymer bills almost certainly contain tallow as well.

Read more…

Los Angeles limits amount of garbage a homeless person should own


L.A.’s homeless are legally allowed to possess what fits into this Vancouver organic bin.

In Los Angeles, California, so many homeless people are crowding non-homeless people that this West Coast U.S. city actually passed a law in March of 2016 to limit the amount of belongings that homeless people can legally store in and on public property—to what fits in a trash bin!

This sounds harsh but the City of Los Angeles believes that it’s being quite fair, under the circumstances. The Los Angeles Times quotes an L.A. City Councilor as explaining that the law balances the “city’s need for safe and clean streets with homeless people’s personal property rights”. Read more…

Why people like me break into your dumpsters

Over $2-worth of wine boxes, plus orange juice containers and some beer cans.

Over $3 of wine boxes, orange juice containers and beer cans from a dumpster.

Two nights ago (November 23) I was poking around in a garbage dumpster and found two large garbage bags that were occupying something like an eighth of the dumpster’s volume; the bags were full of nothing but recyclable cardboard and returnable beverage containers.

Recyclable and returnable stuff such as this should never have been in this garbage dumpster in the first place and I shouldn’t have been either, for that matter.

But it was and I was and therein hangs my tale. Read more…