Weird

Music
1:53 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

What Arcade Fire Did When Someone in Austin Complained About Its 'Reflektor' Graffiti

The Reflektor symbol seen in London. The Arcade Fire logo is appearing in several other cities, including Austin.
flickr.com/djhon

Update: Shortly after Ian Dille’s Slate article appeared online, he received a handwritten apology from Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler.

The band's PR company “forwarded me a handwritten note from Win Butler apologizing for the graffiti and explaining that it was supposed to be put up in chalk or water-soluble paint,” Dille tells KUT News. “And somewhere along the line, someone started using spraypaint. He said it was hard to control all the small details of such a large project.” (Read the letter below.)

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City Budget
10:00 am
Tue September 10, 2013

How the Hyde Park Flag Store is Impacting Austin's City Budget

The Hyde Park Market, photographed in 2010. The city’s Code Compliance department briefly forced the store to remove its flags before its decision was reversed.
flickr.com/cote

The Austin City Council returns to the dais as 10 a.m. this morning to finalize the city's Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Yesterday, council members voted unanimously to hold the line of property tax rates. They also spent most of the day funding initiatives that weren't in City Manager Marc Ott's initial budget proposal.

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Politics
9:06 am
Tue September 3, 2013

'The Worm' Returns To North Korea; Rodman Visits Again

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman at Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday, before his flight to Pyongyang, North Korea.
Petar Kujundzic Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 7:48 am

  • From the NPR Newscast: Anthony Kuhn reports on Dennis Rodman's latest visit to North Korea

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is visiting North Korea again, six months after spending time there with dictator Kim Jong Un — an "awesome" man, in Rodman's opinion.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing that:

"Rodman was spotted transiting the Beijing airport en route to Pyongyang, sporting his characteristic lip and nose rings, plus green hair.

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Environment
12:45 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Photos: These Carnivorous Plants Want to Lure You to San Antonio

Carnivorous plants like flytraps get nutrition from insects, not soil.
Ann Choi for KUT News

Looking for one last summer getaway  before school starts? The San Antonio Botanical Garden has a suggestion to Austinites; go see some carnivorous plants.

"Many of these plants grow in the area where the soil is very poor – so capturing insects is almost like taking a vitamin pill for them," says Sasha Kodet, education director for the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

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Transportation
12:50 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

You Can Bike on Austin Highways (And Yes, It’s a Horrible Idea)

The "spaghetti bowl" Mopac exchange in West Austin. Despite confusion, it's technically legal to ride your bike on the highway.
flickr.com/rutlo

Update: A sprawling discussion on the Austin page of Reddit - prompted by a photo of bicyclists on I-35 - has renewed interest in this topic. Read on for more details. 

Original story (April 3, 2013): Despite general public perception – and all standards of common sense – it’s actually legal to ride bicycles on the state highway.

Recently, users on the Austin page of Reddit got into a heated discussion about the legality of riding a bike on Mopac, when one user posted a photo of a couple people doing just that.

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Austin
3:56 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Austin, Get Ready for This Giant, Mechanical Newborn Baby Head

A rendering of the Psychokinetic Child. Under construction in Austin, the head is headed to Nevada for Burning Man.
kineticchild.com

Sure, art can be “heady” in the metaphorical sense. But few projects both metaphorically and literally embody that adjective like the Psychokinetic Child: a 20 foot tall, three-dimensional baby head.

Currently under construction, the exterior of the head will feature a fully mechanized mouth and eyes. But it's on the inside where things  get interesting: the curious may walk inside the baby’s head to contemplate five shrines to objects familiar to modern life – homes, clothes, cars, chairs and phones.

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Austin
2:03 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Great, Liberal & Expensive: What Google Autocomplete Says About Austin

Google's autocomplete function, based off of popular searches, reveal common stereotypes about places - Austin included.
Google

Sometimes, what people are searching for on Google is as revealing as the results themselves. 

If you’ve used Google, you’re familiar with its autocomplete function – suggestions the search engine makes when you begin entering a search term. According to Google, the autocomplete suggestions reflect the search activity of its users – the terms and questions they are Googling – plus the content of web pages themselves. And what people are searching for often times says a lot about the subject.

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Austin
2:55 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Why Austin's the Reason 7-Eleven Stays Open Around the Clock

The south campus 7-Eleven location. Austin had the first 24-hour location of the company.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

If you're heading to 7-Eleven today for a free Slurpee, raise your glass to the city of Austin and her Texas Longhorns: After all, it was here in Austin the convenience store giant first went 24/7.

In its corporate history, the Dallas-based chain writes that in 1963 “one 7-Eleven store in Austin, Texas, located close to the University of Texas, stayed so busy after a football game, it couldn’t close. The store just remained open.” That night’s success kept the store open 24 hours from there on out - inspiring other locations to do the same.

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Austin
1:20 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Flyboarding: Austin's Newest & Most Ridiculously Awesome Summer Sport

An unnamed Flyboarder finishes a backflip. Flyboarders can soar up to 30 feet above water.
aquafly.com/gallery

With plenty of nearby water, Austin’s always been a great place for lake sports. This year there’s a unique new one to add to your summer to-do list: Flyboarding.  

The new sport uses the discharge from personal watercraft like Jet Skis to pump 1,000 gallons of water per minute through the bottom of a Flyboard strapped to users’ feet. The Flyboard – which looks like a wakeboard with two giant, 55-foot fire hoses attached to it – can turn almost anyone into a superhero capable of flying over 30 feet above the lake surface, according to Aquafly owner Bobby Vance. 

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Austin
1:04 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Looking for a Cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon? Austin's Hipster Map Can Help

The Strange Attractors play a gig at Beerland in 2008. Beerland's Red River location ranks high on the hipster heat map.
flickr.com/chrontourage

Hipsters are hard to find.

Or are they?

When they're not shopping for vintage vinyl or eating Moroccan soul food, they're probably at some place you've never heard of. But, thanks to Yelp's Wordmap, the uninitiated can now track the movements of ever-elusive Austin hipster.

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Science
10:06 am
Mon July 1, 2013

This Austin Scientist is Scanning His Own Brain Over 100 Times

UT neuroscientist Russ Poldrack is studying his own brain, looking at how it changes over time.
Russ Poldrack

At 7:30 a.m. on pretty much any Tuesday over the past eight months, you'd find Russ Poldrack lying on his back in front of the MRI scanner in his basement lab at UT, waiting to scan his brain.

Poldrack, a neuroscientist, runs the Imaging Research Center at UT-Austin.

I meet him on the morning of his 58th scan.

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Arts and Culture
3:16 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

What Does UT Smell Like? Longhorns Launching Fragrance Line

Eau de Bevo? UT is working on its own fragrance.
flickr.com/publicenergy

University of Texas students, alumni and fans already bleed orange. But soon, they will also be able to smell like it.

University of Texas Creative Services says UT will be partnering with Masik Collegiate Fragrances to launch a scent exclusive to the Longhorns. The fragrance representatives will meet with students and have them determine the final scent. A release date for the fragrance has not been set.

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Austin
1:58 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Watch: A Drone's-Eye View of Downtown Austin

The picture above is from footage captured by Colin Guinn of DJI Innovations, a company that manufactures UAVs right here in Austin. Though Guinn has seen an uptick in UAV sales, the FAA still has not created uniform federal regulations for them.

The prospect of drone-dotted skies across Texas isn’t such a far-off thought.

The technology exists, and Gov. Rick Perry even signed a law regulating their use last week.

While the legislation provides some oversight, it carves out some strange exceptions. And the burgeoning industry is waiting for the FAA to establish federal regulation.

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Technology
9:15 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Austin Bitcoiners Bring Online Currency Offline, Into Stores

Bitcoin is a web-based currency that uses transactions to create a finite, controlled number of bits that can be used as online credit.
flickr.com/dekstop

Bitcoin is blowing up, both in the successful and not-so-successful sense.

The currency is as volatile as a Texas summer is miserably hot. But the volatility’s not stopping Austin movers and shakers from capitalizing on the craze.

Last week, a Bitcoin startup that will help grow the online currency popped up in Austin. But some Austin Bitcoin’ers are trying to moving the currency offline and into the real world.

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FOOD
4:01 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

'How to Prepare a Possum' & More Grub from Austin's Foodie Past

For most of the 800 people in Austin in the 1840s, the daily meal consisted of what they could grow or kill. (Undated)
Austin History Center; J133, Hubert Jones Glass Plate Collection

On possums and Austin's foodie past and present

A new exhibit at the Austin History Center is especially close to local hearts – and stomachs.

How to Prepare a Possum” is an exhibit that explores 19th century cuisine, and how early Austinites brought Texas heat to the kitchen. But before I could explore any further, I had to ask: What’s with name?

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Texas
9:00 am
Tue May 28, 2013

19th Century Windmill Company Seeks 21st Century Customers

The San Angelo company still builds windmills from a 1933 design.
Mark Dewey

Windmill farms that generate electric power are now a familiar site across west Texas. But before the giant turbines took over, their little cousins ruled the plains. Small windmills pumped water to settlers, pioneers, and ranchers in the Lone Star state. The biggest windmill company, Aermotor, started in Chicago in the 1800s, and now pumps out windmills from its San Angelo headquarters and factory.

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Arts and Culture
8:08 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Twinkies' Return Is Mostly Sweet News For Kansas Town

Hostess Twinkies are offered for sale in Chicago, part of the last shipment of Hostess products the company made in 2012.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 4:17 am

The news of Hostess' return to Emporia, Kan., sparked an ecstatic response in this beleaguered town — even though there will be only half as many jobs.

The new company, formed when investors bought Hostess' snack cake business, has hired longtime snack cake production veterans Pat Chambers and her husband, Bob, to help get the bakery here running again. Pat lost her job at the Hostess plant when it closed last November. Now, she sits beaming on her front porch, wearing a dirty Hostess work shirt.

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Arts and Culture
6:35 am
Mon May 27, 2013

What Are Beehives Doing on a Downtown Austin Hotel Rooftop?

Sorry bats, there’s been a new wildlife sighting in downtown Austin: a colony of honeybees is now living atop a high-rise boutique hotel.

In a small clearing between the network of pipes, condensers, fans and ducts that runs across the roof of the W Austin Hotel, ten bright beehives are humming. To create this buzz, the W partnered with Central Texas Bee Rescue, a local nonprofit on a mission to save the endangered honeybee.

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Austin
7:18 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

The Mayor's 'Office:' Leffingwell Welcomes Athlead to Austin

Cast members of "The Office." Mayor Lee Leffingwell capitalized on Austin's mention in the series finale.
Chris Haston/NBC

Last Thursday, 5.4 million fans watched the series finale of NBC’s Emmy-winning comedy “The Office.” Who knew that one of those fans was Mayor Lee Leffingwell – and that he would take the finale’s Austin-centric ending so seriously?

The longrunning series ended with Athlead – a fictional sports promotions company lead by John Krasinski’s character Jim Halpert – was moving business to Austin. This revelation earned a humorous backing from Mayor Leffingwell. He released a statement on his Facebook page giving a thumbs up to Austin’s latest corporate relocation.

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Austin
12:01 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Last Seen, Moving Slowly, on the UT Campus: a Robotic Couch

(Clockwise from bottom left) Robotics and Automation Society members Gilberto Rodriguez, Cruz Monrreal, Kevin Gilbert, Rachel Smith, Christopher Haster and Christopher Davis.
Andrew Weber, KUT News

We’ve seen the future – and it is automated.

We have automated vacuum cleaners, cars and even warplanes. So it was only a matter of time until the practice moved to home furnishings. And Sunday before last, at 5 a.m., the UT Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) debuted the latest – and most peculiar – automation application: a robotic couch.

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