Palin helps keep ‘Today’ ahead vs. Couric on ‘GMA’

Sarah Palin helped “Today” maintain its winning streak against “GMA,” even with the appearance of its own guest star Katie Couric.

2 ‘Real Housewives’ get their own shows on Bravo

Two of “The Real Housewives” are getting their own shows on Bravo.

For DeGraw, life is ‘Sweeter’ off the dance floor

The voters showed they weren’t quite over pop star Gavin DeGraw and pro partner Karina Smirnoff on Tuesday night’s “Dancing With the Stars” elimination round. Soap star Jack Wagner and his partner were eliminated instead.

Bruce Willis offers to donate Idaho ski area

FILE - In this March 26, 2011 photo, Bruce Willis appears onstage at the “The Comedy Awards” presented by Comedy Central in New York. Willis says he’s willing to give away his popular central Idaho ski resort to a nonprofit. The action star has already put his lavish home in nearby Hailey, Idaho, on the real estate market, it’s listed at $15 million, along with his local bar and nightclub, The Mint, listed at about $4 million. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)Bruce Willis says he’s willing to give away his central Idaho ski resort to a nonprofit.

Animal Planet unleashing a new season of shows

Animal Planet has a menagerie of new shows for the season ahead that promise real-life drama, monstrous mystery, unusual human creatures and a new breed of cute.

Joker cereal

Sean Hartter has designed this notional Joker-brand cereal box. He notes that his FB friends quipped, “Why So Cereal”, “You wanna see a Trix?” and “Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you eat more delicious cereal”! Spend some times poking around on Hartter’s site. He’s very good at this sort of thing.

JOKER BRAND CEREAL (via Super Punch)

Beautiful photo of a volcanic eruption

Volcano Tungurahua in Ecuador erupts about every 90 years—it’s a schedule the mountain has kept for 1300 years. This photo was taken by Patrick Taschler in 2006. (Via Astronomy Photo of the Day and Alexandra Witze)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Super-Fun-Pak Comix, Featuring Thrilling Post-Apocalyptic Adventures, and MORE!!

That does it! You are NOT ALLOWED to visit the Tom the Dancing Bug website!

What’s that? Okay, young man/woman! You’re ALSO not allowed to follow Ruben Bolling on TWITTER! Any more back-talk? I didn’t think so.

Inside the world’s quietest room

Anechoic chambers are pretty damn awesome. Basically, they’re rooms designed to be sound-proofed against outside noise, while, inside, sound is prevented from bouncing off the walls. There’s no echo. There’s a number of ways you can build this, but one system at the University of Salford in England, is actually a room within a room, with the innermost chamber actually mounted on springs, rather than the floor of the outer room.

Anechoic chambers are often used to test out audio equipment or to get accurate audio measurements on systems that are supposed to operate very quietly.

Minnesota Public Radio recently went inside the room that holds the title for world’s quietest—an anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis.

To get into the anechoic chamber, you go through two bank vault-like doors. The floor in the room is mesh like a trampoline so there’s nothing on the floor for the sound to bounce off of. The walls are lined with sound-proofing wedges that are a meter long so they absorb the sound.

…A typical quiet room you sleep in at night measures about 30 decibels. A normal conversation is about 60 decibels. This room has been measured at -9 decibels.

Listen to the rest of the story at Minnesota Public Radio’s website.

Read about the history of anechoic chambers.

Image: Photo of an anechoic chamber taken at the Kyushu Institute of Design’s anechoic chamber by Alexis Glass. Free to use under GDFL.

Students protesting tuition hikes pepper-sprayed by police in Santa Monica, CA

(video: Jenna Chandler, Santa Monica Patch)

Last night at Santa Monica College (about 20 blocks from the beach here in Los Angeles, CA), police pepper-sprayed some thirty students in a crowd of about 150 protesters. The students want affordable education. They gathered during a meeting of the college’s board of trustees to voice opposition to planned tuition hikes that would raise the cost of bread-and-butter courses during the summer session by as much as 400%. I was close enough to the location last night to hear helicopters and sirens as it happened.

The LA Times reports that Santa Monica police are today “trying to sort out” who used pepper-spray on the peacefully assembled students. Reports I heard last night indicated that the person or persons responsible were campus police, not Santa Monica police, who were called in later to secure the site.

One student eyewitness tweeted:

Pepper sprayed a room full of students and two children. A poor lil five year old got it in the face.

— Sarah Belknap (@mary_menville) April 4, 2012

There is apparently money for 3 cop choppers, pepper spray, batons, five squad cars, 8 ambulances, but no money for education.

— Sarah Belknap (@mary_menville) April 4, 2012

More eyewitness video plus photos of two of the victims follow, at the end of this Boing Boing post.

Student blogger zunguzungu in Berkeley, who has been covering student protests and campus police brutality throughout California, rounds up news link and posts about the incident this morning. An excerpt:

I have seen no allegation that any of the students were violent or even used civil disobedience; the main problem seems to have been — in the college president’s words — that the small boardroom wasn’t able to accommodate all of the students who wanted to speak: ”We expected some students, but we didn’t expect that big of a crowd with such enthusiasm.”

When students demanded entrance to the room the meeting was being held — a tiny room, with room for only a handful of outsiders (by a great coincidence) — the police went wild.

(…) How does this happen? How does pepper spray become the act of first resort? Even the anodyne phrasing of the LA Times admits that pepper spray was used proactively (“Several were also overcome when pepper spray was released just outside the meeting room as officers tried to break up the crowd”) and not in response to some kind of clear and present danger.

Or, rather, it was. A crowd must be dispersed before it does something, goes the logic of the new preemptive policing; a crowd is, itself, a clear and present danger. If you wait until the crowd actually does something, you’ve waited too long. And so you preempt it by striking first.

If you doubt that this is the way these people think, I’d invite you to read Jeff Young — the current assistant police chief at UCLA — writing his “operational review” of UC Berkeley’s police actions against protesters from last November 9th, and note that his main takeaway was that campus police should have probably been allowed to use pepper spray. For more successful protest management, he decides, what the police need is more force options. Perhaps Tasers?

More coverage of the incident: Santa Monica Patch (who were first and best on this as it broke, notably!), KTLA, LA CBS, NBC LA, LA Times story with background on the fee hikes.

Below, photos from “Lady Libertine” on Twitter: Marioly Gomez and Jasmine Gomez, two of the students she identifies as having been pepper-sprayed and assaulted by campus police at Santa Monica College last night.