Not Quite A Babelfish…

A science-fiction staple has inched closer to reality with the reveal of a prototype in-ear wearable that translates languages almost instantly.

Acting in a similar manner to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s babelfish or Star Trek’s Universal Translator, startup company Waverly Labs‘ Pilot earpiece sits in the ear to translate spoken foreign languages to the wearer.

This is pretty exciting! You can read much more at Dezeen.

Oh. So. Cool.

I want one!


Made for Ikea’s Space10, this is the Growroom, specifically made for cities, it can grow a communities worth of food and herbs. I’m not urban, but I still want one. The best news? Space10 and architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum have open sourced this, so anyone can make one.

You can see the specs at two places: one, two.

Don’t Call It Fashion.


Raw Meat, Cabbage, Moldy Bread, and other things that have inspired Japanese fashion label CUNE.

Don’t call it fashion. At least that’s what Hironori Yasuda will tell you if you ask him about his label CUNE, which he started in 1994. If anything, they’re “barely clothes,” he says.

Yasuda isn’t swayed by trends. He makes what he wants, and each season he picks a seemingly arbitrary theme, one that typically has no place in the world of fashion, and designs his entire collection around it. He doesn’t think about who would wear his clothes, or how they would wear them. In fact, he even says “you don’t have to buy them.” But with two stores in Tokyo, one in Fukuoka and a thriving online shop, people seem to like his bizarre creations.

You really need to click over and see all the stuff, it’s amazing. I love the red cabbage dress, and I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Same with the meat jacket pictured above.

It’s all at Spoon & Tamago.

The Best Bookstore Ever.


A bookstore you can sleep in. My dream come true. The Book & Bed Hostel is established in Tokyo, with another one now in Kyoto. Your sleep cubicle comes equipped with an outlet, a light, a privacy curtain, clothes hangers, and a wireless connection. There’s also beer.


Book & Bed is a self-described “accommodation bookshop” with beds built into bookshelves. When the first Tokyo location opened last year, bibliophiles were obviously overjoyed because, for the first time, it was socially acceptable to wander into a bookshop, pick up a book, and then doze off to sleep. Now, the popular concept hotel is getting a 2nd location in Kyoto.



beds are embedded into bookshelves and surrounded by over 5000 books.

Rates are low and start at just 4,445 yen (about $40) for a compact bed. But if you’re a light sleeper, or privacy is your big thing, the Book & Bed hostel may not be for you. Sleeping areas are semi-private with just a curtain separating you from other book dwellers. And bathroom areas are shared too. In fact, the bookshop hostel doesn’t promise “a good night’s sleep.” Instead, the promise “the finest moment of sleep”: dozing off in the middle of your treasured pastime, immersed in books.




Book & Bed.

Book & Bed on Instagram.

I think I’d want to stay…for always. What a wonderful idea. Via Spoon & Tamago.

A Most Colourful Labour of Love.


In Afghanistan, several men are at work in a smoke-blackened room. They sit between buckets of thick grey paint, working on benches made of dark grey stone. Lonely beams of white light shine through skylights in the vaulted ceiling onto stacks of clay tiles coated with a fine layer of grey dust. Monochromatic as the scene may seem, these men have one of the most colourful jobs in the world: making tiles for Herat’s Jama Masjid (Great Mosque).

This is an amazing story, and an astonishing labour of love and art, and the saving of living history. You can read and see much more at BBC.

An Artificial Leaf.

Credit: TU Eindhoven / Bart van Overbeeke.

Credit: TU Eindhoven / Bart van Overbeeke.

This is wonderful, on the science and design fronts. A small artificial leaf, with very large potential.

Using sunlight to make chemical products has long been a dream of chemical engineers. The problem is that the available sunlight generates too little energy to kick off reactions. However, nature is able to do this. Antenna molecules in leaves capture energy from sunlight and collect it in the reaction centers of the leaf where enough solar energy is present for the chemical reactions of photosynthesis.

Light capture

The researchers used relatively new materials known as (LSC’s), which are able to capture sunlight in a similar way. Special light-sensitive molecules in these materials capture a large amount of the incoming light that they then convert into a specific color that is conducted to the edges via light conductivity. These LSCs are often used in combination with solar cells to boost the yield.

Thin channels

The researchers, led by Dr. Timothy Noël, incorporated very thin channels in a silicon rubber LSC through which a liquid can be pumped. In this way, they were able to bring the into contact with the molecules in the liquid with high enough intensity to generate chemical reactions.

While the reaction they chose serves as an initial example, the results surpassed all their expectations, and not only in the lab. “Even an experiment on a cloudy day demonstrated that the chemical production was 40 percent higher than in a similar experiment without LSC material,” says research leader Noël. “We still see plenty of possibilities for improvement. We now have a powerful tool at our disposal that enables the sustainable, sunlight-based production of valuable chemical products like drugs or crop protection agents.”

You can

Backing Black Business.

CREDIT: iStock.

CREDIT: iStock.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) just launched a database of black businesses to support, with the goal of “[building] long-term economic power for Black communities.”

On Monday, the organization unveiled, an interactive map and directory of online stores where customers can purchase food, health and beauty supplies, entertainment, and lifestyle goods — all from retailers owned by black people. The site also includes nonprofits, and allows business owners to add themselves to the database.

The full article is at Think Progress.

I clicked over to, and while I’m not in LA or NY, plenty of business owners have online shops, and after perusing a few (I got completely caught up in Loving Anvil, and am plotting on when I can spend money there) I don’t think I’ll have any problems at all, supporting black businesses. The site is brand new, so a bit rough, but there’s a lot to explore!

Cool Stuff Friday.

The Plains Taco features elk meat and duck fat. It can be garnished with a plethora of tasty ingredients. RoseMary Diaz.

The Plains Taco features elk meat and duck fat. It can be garnished with a plethora of tasty ingredients. RoseMary Diaz.

First up, Frybread. If anything is holy, it is wonderful frybread. Makes me long to be back at the Oceti Sakowin camp, stuffing myself on Melania’s frybread. If there were gods, this would be their food.

Of all the foods most commonly associated with Native American culture, frybread has long been at the center of the table. From one end of the continent to the other, from region to region and tribe to tribe, there are hundreds of recipe variations on the tempting and tasty treat.

Whether inspired by ingredients found close to home or by those from locales a bit more exotic, each of our gourmet variations on frybread bring a creative alternative to the classic treat, and can be down-sized for snacks or appetizers.

Plains Taco


2 pounds ground elk meat

2 tablespoons rendered duck fat (may substitute grapeseed, olive, or sunflower seed oil)

2 tablespoons red chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste


1 cup endive leaves, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed

½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

¼ cup diced scallion

½ cup grated provolone cheese

¼ cup pine nuts, whole or coarsely chopped


½ tablespoon sliced or diced habanero or serrano pepper

In a large skillet, heat duck fat to melting, or add oil of choice. Heat on medium-high heat for several minutes. Add meat and sauté until brown. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, and break up any big clumps of meat.

Spoon meat mixture onto prepared fry breads. In order given, add equal portions of garnishes to each fry.

Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Prairie Taco


4 quail, fresh or frozen and thawed

1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil

4 strips bacon

¼ teaspoon ground sage

Salt and pepper to taste


½ cup tomatillos, quartered

¼ cup sliced green onions, including stalks, rinsed, trimmed, and patted dry

½ cup sunflower sprouts

½ cup grated smoked gouda

Bacon from pan, crumbled or coarsely chopped

¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw or toasted

In large skillet, add oil and quail. Roll quail in pan to coat evenly with oil. Place bacon strips along sides of quail and cook over medium heat, turning quail after three to four minutes. Increase heat to medium-high/high, and continue cooking quail just long enough to brown, about one to two minutes on each side. Remove from heat, place on paper or cloth towels to allow excess oil to drain. Continue cooking bacon until brown and crisp, then remove from heat and drain on towels. When cool enough, remove meat from quail in long, downward, stripping motions. Spoon onto prepared fry breads. In order given, add equal portions of garnishes to each frybread. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Rosemary Diaz (Tewa) also has Frybread rules and a recipe for basic frybread at ICTMN, which is sporting a brand new look. Given all the pheasant hunting which takes place here every year, I’d be more inclined to substitute pheasant for the quail in the Prairie Taco, but frybread and its toppings is a matter of endless variation, so go Native, and have fun!

Next up, one of the best ideas I have seen in a long while, with superb design: A Reader.


All images © Paco Ulman.

First-year architecture and urban planning students at the Estonian Academy of Arts have designed and created a shelter titled ‘READER’, a place where people can get away from their daily routine. Among other structures developed by the students, the shelter is located in the national park Lahemaa of North-Estonia. READER was constructed within five days and is made of pine plywood panels. The whole construction stands on three beams supported by nine adjustable legs on the ground. The exterior appears to be a basic cube, whereas in the inside visitors experience the undulating cave-like contours.
People are invited to enter the shelter to escape from their hectic lives into the pages of fiction and fantasy. The winding contours inside the shelter are an attempt to imitate the pages of a book, and metamorphose from a wall into a bench that seats three people. The ribbed walls usher in diffused sunlight which makes the shelter a comfortable niche, where anyone can come with a book and forget about all their troubles.

All images © Paco Ulman.

All images © Paco Ulman.

You can see more images at iGNANT.

Then we have some video game history, with Howard Scott Warshaw:

Via Great Big Story.

And finally, Sea Turtle conservancy!

Via Great Big Story.

A Highly Satisfying Sofa.


All images © de Sede.

This sofa would make the category of Best! for me. Peoples’ views, ideas, and feelings about furniture are near endless, and highly individual. I don’t like furniture much, it makes me restless. My idea of necessary furniture is a drawing table and chair. Then again, I’m also good with spreading out all over the floor, provided it isn’t crowded with furniture. I’m seldom happy with any configuration of furniture in a room, so the less there is, the better for me. Which brings me to this couch:

The innovative sofa DS-1025 by Swiss design company de Sede reminds us of mountainous ridges relocated to a living room. The furniture consists of two ingenious elements that can be arranged in different ways, resulting in a classic double-seater, a seating-pyramid or a small atrium. Designer Ubald Klug works as an interior decorator and designer in Paris and is known for his remarkable textile design. Klug says: “For me, innovation is all that counts.”

If you click over to iGNANT, you can see the nine different ways this sofa can be put together, and changed from one to the other at any time, for a different look and feel to your sofa. Or it can be split into four very comfy chairs. This is furniture after my own heart, one that caters to restless creativity, and is easily conformable to mood or activity. Awash with curiosity, I clicked over to de Sede, and looked at all their sofas. Oh! Go look, and be sure to mouse over all of the photos – many of their sofas are configurable and some have moving parts! They are all a delight, and there isn’t one I’d turn down.

Public Lavatories: How To Do Them Right.

While there is endless, pointless arguing here in uStates over whether or not some people are people enough to use a public lav, and whether or not it’s okey dokey to try and scope out whether or not someone has an approved set of genitals, with regressive assholes intent on doing damage, and making everyone feel unsafe, squabbling like fucking four year olds over who gets to be the dominant one, Japan get its oh so right. I’m ready to run away from home.

What does Japan care about? Utility, of course, but also comfort, design, and the sheer artistry that can be a public lav. The Japanese government awards a highly coveted Toilet of the Year award to spaces deemed worthy. And boy, do they have a whole lot of worthy.

After all, the government estimates that in our lifetime we spend up to 11 months in a bathroom. So why shouldn’t they be spaces that are clean, soothing and relaxing?

So, officials created a pamphlet (PDF) of public toilets they deemed exemplary, and distributed it earlier this year in hopes of elevating the entire public toilet industry. Here are a selection of government-approved public toilets.

And there are a lot of them! You’ll need to click over to Spoon & Tamago to see and read about them all, or hit the pdf. Here are some examples, and it sure would be nice if uStates could grow up and start focusing on what really matters, like grown up Japan:


Gallery Toto at Narita Airport Terminal 2 (Chiba)

At Narita Airport, Japan’s gateway to the world, an art installation-like lineup of toilets greet travelers. Here you’ll find iconic toilet-maker Toto’s latest toilet technology, which is of course available for public usage. We wrote about this project here.


Haneda Airport International Terminal (Tokyo)

At Haneda you’ll find a public bathroom that’s been specifically designed to aid and assist disabled travelers. Universal signage, wide passageways and even a toilet for service dogs makes this bathroom user-friendly for absolutely anyone.


Neopasa Shimizu Service Area (Tomei Expressway, Shizuoka)

Highway service areas usually have the grossest toilets. But not at Neopasa, where an oasis of clean and beautiful toilets await tired drivers and passengers. There are more than twice as many stalls in the ladies’ room, compared to the men’s, to combat longer lines. And a large monitor screen at the entrance even tells you which stalls are unoccupied.


Neopasa Surugawan Numazu Service Area (Tomei Expressway, Shizuoka)

This is the only service area along the Tomei Expressway that has views of the sea. So the operator decided to build their bathroom on the 2nd floor near the terrace and create a space where people want to go, not just because they have to go.

Via Spoon & Tamago, go look! Maybe we can all plan to run away together. I want to live in Hokkaido, though.