Friday, January 15, 2010

The Latest from Boing Boing

The Latest from Boing Boing

Link to Boing Boing

San Francisco SF reading series back for its fifth year, starting tomorrow night

Posted: 15 Jan 2010 02:51 AM PST

The wonderful San Francisco science fiction reading series, SF in SF, is back for its fifth year, kicking off tomorrow: "SF in SF is pleased to present authors Jeff Carlson and Nancy Etchemendy. Each author will read a selection of their work, followed by Q & A moderated by author Terry Bisson. Book signing and schmoozing in the lounge afterward. Books for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. Seating is limited, first-come, first-seated. All bar proceeds and tips benefit Variety Children's Charity of Northern California."

Secret copyright treaty debated in DC: must-see video

Posted: 15 Jan 2010 02:25 AM PST

The drive to ram through the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is ramping up, with the next meeting set for the end of this month in Mexico. ACTA is an unprecedented copyright treaty (unprecedented in that it reaches farther than previous copyright treaties, and that it is being negotiated behind closed doors, without any public input or oversight) that will force copyright policing duties on Internet companies (vastly increasing the cost of hosting "user-generated content"); create new penalties for infringement (including Draconian penalties such as disconnection from the Internet on accusations of infringement); and require countries to search hard-drives, personal media players, and other personal data at their borders.

Last month, Google's DC office hosted a public debate on ACTA, with Steven J. Metalitz, a lawyer and lobbyist representing the International Intellectual Property Alliance; Jamie Love, an activist with Knowledge Ecology International; Jonathan Band, a lawyer representing a coalition of library groups and a variety of tech and Internet companies and Ryan Clough from Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's office; moderated by Washington Post consumer technology columnist Rob Pegoraro.

The video runs to 90 minutes. I don't get a lot of 90-minute chunks of time in my life, but I made time for this. It was one of the most spirited -- even heated -- debates I've heard on the subject, and it got into substantive questions of law, jurisdiction, economics and ethics. It was especially interesting to hear Metalitz, the main mouthpiece for the private corporate interests behind this proposal, attempt to defend both the proposal and the secrecy behind it.

Two recurring points that Metalitz raised were that the secrecy in the treaty was a requirement of foreign negotiating partners, and the US's hands were tied; and that the treaty wouldn't require any of the "advanced" nations to change their law (he repeated the oft-heard unfounded slur that Canada is a rogue nation when it comes to copyright law).

Both of these points are simply wrong. The country demanding that ACTA be kept secret is the good old US of A, whose strategy for this is being driven by former entertainment industry lawyers who have found new homes as senior officials in the Obama government (the Democrats are terrible on copyright, sadly -- we can thank Bill Clinton for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). These lawyers are Metalitz's old pals, his colleagues in the decades he's spent winning special privileges and public subsidy for his rich clients.

Even more ridiculous is the claim that ACTA won't require any changes to law (if that was true, why bother with it?). As the EU's Commissioner-designate for the Internal Market stated, ACTA will trump the democratic law made by elected governments, requiring changes that are created in smoke-filled rooms that only corporate bigwigs get access to.

ACTA is a profoundly undemocratic undertaking, as is amply demonstrated in the debate in this video. K-street lobbyists, corporate execs, and other movers and shakers know everything that's going on in the ACTA negotiations, but the public is frozen out of the debate. And as Jamie Love points out, public access to other copyright negotiations -- such as those at WIPO -- have fundamentally changed their directions, because the public doesn't want expensive gags and handcuffs put on the Internet in order to bolster the entertainment industry's profits.

Watch this video. It may be the most productive 90 minutes you spend today.

Google D.C. Talk: ACTA - The Global Treaty That Could Reshape The Internet (via Michael Geist)

Complexity ruins diets

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:27 PM PST

I'm unsurprised but vindicated to read of this research from the Max Planck Institute and Indiana U that says that diets are more apt to succeed when they are simple -- complexity kills. I think this is why Atkins worked so well for me (80 lbs in about a year): low-carbing is just easy to do, all you really need to do is stop eating high-carb food:
"For people on a more complex diet that involves keeping track of quantities and items eaten, their subjective impression of the difficulty of the diet can lead them to give up on it," reported Peter Todd, professor in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Jutta Mata, now a professor of psychology at Stanford University, said this effect holds even after controlling for the influence of important social-cognitive factors including self-efficacy, the belief that one is capable of achieving a goal like sticking to a diet regimen to control one's weight.

"Even if you believe you can succeed, thinking that the diet is cognitively complex can undermine your efforts," she said.

Sticking to Diets Is About More Than Willpower -- Complexity Matters

(Image: lunch, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from malias' photostream)

Dishwasher door as self-cleaning toddler workspace

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:50 PM PST

Another sweet ParentHacks tip, from reader Chrissy -- I love the elegance of realizing that the dishwasher door, when opened, is a self-cleaning, toddler-height food-prep area:
Stumbled across this idea by accident this week when my four year-old wanted to help with the cooking. She's kind of a wild stirrer and flour has a tendency to end up all over so I was feeling resistant to having her help. The dishwasher happened to be open and I got the idea to just set to bowl on top of the open dishwasher door. It was just the right height for her to help add ingredients and stir, and the pile of flour and sugar that usually ends up on the counter ended up on the dishwasher instead, making clean up as easy as closing the door :) It was definitely one of those "how did it take me so long to think of this?!" sort of moments.
Let little kids "help" with cooking by placing the mixing bowl on the open dishwasher door

(Image: Dishwasher, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from brownpau's photostream)

Grotesque and lovely animatronics

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:20 PM PST

Lamps decorated with writhing heaps of glazed action figures

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:15 PM PST

Jonathan Lethem's Perkus Tooth comes to Second Life for an interview

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:07 PM PST

Wagner James Au sez, "Jonathan Lethem's latest novel Chronic City includes a virtual world inspired by Second Life, so fittingly, this Sunday Lethem is promoting his book *in* Second Life on the Copper Robot show, using an avatar named PerkusTooth Riddler, based on the character Perkus Tooth from the book. If you don't have an SL account you can watch on the web ."

Jonathan Lethem Appears in Second Life This Sunday As Avatar Based on Character From His Novel, *Chronic City*

Copper Robot: Novelist Jonathan Lethem

Tiny still-lives in toilet-paper tubes

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:02 PM PST

Artist Anastassia Elias builds miniature dioramae inside of toilet-paper tubes, using paper of the same color to create little dimensional scenes from life. Empty-loo-roll-day is always fun around our place, the cue to get out the stickers and markers and decorate the empty tube with Poesy, then run around the house playing kazoo or telescope. Maybe we'll level up to tiny still lives in a couple of years.

Anastassia Elias - Illustrations collages dessins peintures - Galerie (via Neatorama)

Have hospital, will travel

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 08:57 PM PST

A 100-bed hospital, built in 36 hours. Doctors Without Borders uses inflatable lifeboat fabric to set up portable, reusable trauma centers in disaster zones, including Haiti. Help support smart, innovative humanitarian action.

Don't listen to Charlton Heston: Pyramids not built by slaves

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 08:45 PM PST

The tombs of at least a dozen pyramid construction workers have been found in Egypt, near Giza. Egyptologists would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the pyramids were not built by slaves.

1928 all-girl, all-banjo orchestra plays "Shakin' the Blues Away"

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 07:04 PM PST

It doesn't get any better than this. (Thanks, Amy!)

Art Kunkin's blog: "Prevent Your Brain From Turning Into Stone By Using Apple Cider Vinegar"

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 05:49 PM PST

I like Art Kunkin, the octogenarian founder of the 1960s underground paper, the LA Free Press, and I like the title of his recent blog entry even more: "Prevent Your Brain From Turning Into Stone By Using Apple Cider Vinegar."

Here's more abut Kunkin: a profile from Fortean Times reveals that he eats an apple or pear every week that has been sitting in a jar of uranium ore. He says:

"It's a very simple procedure. I have a jug full of Pitchblende rocks and I put a pear or apple in. I've been eating a piece of this fruit every week for nearly a year now, taking a risk at this point because I really don't know how strong the radioactivity is. The latest theory of aging has to do with mitochondria, saying that while they are the source of life and energy for the body, they also kill each other off in the process of producing the ATP. What I am assuming is that the radiation is affecting the mitochondria inside the still living apples or pears that are in my jug, helping those mitochondria to be healthy and reproductive . Then when I eat this fruit, I am absorbing healthy mitochondria that transmit their energy to my mitochondria, a process of adding life energy to my body from the inside out. This is an energetic process far different from that of simply replacing depleted chemicals in our body by eating food or vitamins or using medicinal hormones. I explain in my book the exact safe methods by which I handle this otherwise dangerous radiation." - The Immortality Blog

China: The Great Google Coverup?

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 05:23 PM PST

"My fear—for Google and for us—is that the reason they know it's the Chinese government behind these attacks is because Google gave them the key." —Douglas Rushkoff, in the Daily Beast.

Photo Essay: Drama In The Courtroom (Coronet/April 1947)

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 06:55 PM PST

Weegee Arthur Fellig Coutrtoom Drama
In the courtroom's supreme moment of tragedy, it is often possible to watch a man go from life to death in a few seconds. Here, smiling and self-assured, a killer faces the court. The judge's voice begins...

Weegee Arthur Fellig Coutrtoom Drama
It rolls out over the silent room. The criminal listens. He bites his lip. His eyes are far away. The judge's voice drones on...

Weegee Arthur Fellig Coutrtoom Drama

You are hereby sentenced... The condemned man catches his breath sharply, trying to grasp the cold fact of the situation...

Weegee Arthur Fellig Coutrtoom Drama die in the electric chair. This killer is crushed. This is his reward for murder. And may God have mercy... He hears no more. The people are avenged.

Read the rest of "Drama In The Courtroom" (Coronet/April 1947)

The Art of Bleeding's Gory Details

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 06:43 PM PST


Rev. Al Ridenour is one of my heros. He is a prankster, an entertainer, a troublemaker and a genuinely nice guy. I met him when he was the chief "cat herder" of the infamous Cacophony Society in Los Angeles. Now he's created something equally demented and even more fun- The Art of Bleeding.

The Art of Bleeding website describes their project as...

...a uniquely non-accredited educational institution offering powerful and ego-destabilizing theatrical programs in safety education. Often staging productions from an actual ambulance, our programs combine live performance, film, puppets, music, and animation to create a sort of "PARAMEDICAL FUNHOUSE" in which the groping ego may ultimately experience TRUE SAFETY CONSCIOUSNESS.


The Art of Bleeding has created a new educational project called Gory Details. Real people relate real catastrophic medical emergencies either in person (interviewed by a bevy of attentive "nurses") or by dialing a toll-free hotline. The "gory stories" are re-enacted and disected by a gorilla, a hand puppet and a robot in a kids show format reminiscent of the old Soupy Sales Show.

There are three video episodes of Gory Details online so far. Rest assured that these videos are definitely not safe for viewing by your mom.

Gory Details Ep. 1: Mango Flies

Gory Details Ep. 2: Dog Bite

Gory Details Ep. 3: Moths & Drugs

Real Networks CEO Glaser steps down: So long, and thanks for all the malware?

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 03:58 PM PST

Some reports on the exit of Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser wax poetic about the end of an early era in digital media. But others recall that Real Networks introduced a simple, easy-to-use player, then pushed obnoxious, invasive adware into the user experience. Maybe Real Player's irrelevance is fair punishment for those sins.

Cute Things Falling Asleep

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 03:16 PM PST

Above, one of the many Cute Things Falling Asleep that you will find on the blog called Cute Things Falling Asleep. (via Quinn Norton)

Mexico's Museum of Drugs

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 02:49 PM PST

The Mexican military's Museum of Drugs, opened in 1985 in Mexico City, is now running out of exhibit space. Sadly, it's a private museum, open only to government officials, diplomats, and members of the army. The Washington Post's William Booth got a tour, accompanied by photographer Sarah L. Voisin. From the Washington Post:
Probably the best-known exhibit is the life-size diorama of a grower in the countryside guarding his crop. Montane flips a switch and a cassette player begins a bouncy narco-corrida, the popular ballads honoring the derring-dos of drug outlaws. In the corner, a mannequin lounges in his dark shades, a shotgun across his lap, beside a pile of empty Tecate beer cans. In front are beans on the stove and a bust of Jesús Malverde, a highwayman who legend has it was killed by authorities in 1909 and is revered as a patron saint of traffickers and a Robin Hood for the poor.

Around the corner, the exhibits show how drugs are smuggled, and here human ingenuity is on full display. There is dope hidden inside picture frames, logs, gas tanks, clay pots, tamales, concrete blocks, truck tires, soda cans, car bumpers, shoes, stuffed armadillos and a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

There is a kind of James Bond or Dr. Evil quality to some exhibits. An attache case confiscated from an outlaw surveillance team holds computer boards and other gadgetry to monitor cellphone calls. The cartels now employ their own fleets of semi-submersible submarines. On display is a large sea buoy with a coded beacon device the traffickers attach to huge payloads of drugs they can dump into the sea and pick up later. Also, apparently, the narcos now have their own line of clothes. There are dark blue polo shirts sporting a kind of family crest for the Zetas, a notorious cartel founded by former special forces soldiers that controls vast swaths along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville, Tex., to Cancun. The shirts, which appear to be 100 percent cotton, are emblazoned with a Z and the words: "Cartel del Golfo."

"In harsh reflection of reality, Mexico's Museum of Drugs outgrowing its space"

Western Swing on 78

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 04:34 PM PST


I've always found that the most interesting art lies at the intersection between two totally different styles. One of the best examples of this theory existed more than a half a century ago as an unlikely offshoot of country and western music.

From the 1930s through the 50s, country music exploded into a bunch of different styles- old time hillbilly folk music (exemplified by the Carter Family), bluegrass (Bill Monroe), honky tonk (Hank Williams) and cowboy music (Sons of the Pioneers). But the most exciting (and most fun) branch of the country and western musical family tree was the fusion of jazz and country music- Western Swing.

Before you say, "I hate country music." take a few moments to listen to the unrestrained madness of Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant at their peak...

I'm a record collector... a dangerously fanatical one. I have thousands and thousands of LPs and 78s covering a 25 foot long wall of my library from floor to ceiling. A long time ago, I realized that only a tiny fraction of the world's great music existed on CD. The only way to get a true picture of the history of 20th century popular music was to haunt garage sales and swap meets and scoop up the detritus from the golden age of recorded music. You wouldn't believe the amazing stuff that is totally forgotten today!

swwestswing02lkfeg.jpg78 collectors are a bit of an enigma to other record collectors. I was at a party of musicians, record collectors and radio DJs once and the topic of conversation came around to the most money any of us had spent on a single record. One girl spoke of spending $250 on an obscure do-wop 45rpm single. Another guy admitted to spending $500 on an LP. I was the only 78 collector in the crowd, so they turned to me and asked what was the most I had ever paid for a 78. I replied, "My budget is $2 a disk. When I stop finding interesting disks at $2, I'll consider going up to $3. But there's so much good stuff out there at $2 and below, I can't absorb it all."

You don't have to fill your kitchen sink with soap suds and dusty old shellac any more to hear this music. Kind souls on the internet are bringing their treasures to you every day. You just need a link. Here is the only link you need for Western Swing music. Soak it up!


Highfalutin' Newton's Western Swing on 78

The VICE guide to Liberia

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 01:43 PM PST

Judging from its trailer, The VICE guide to Liberia looks amazing.

The documentary is coming out on January 19th, in eight segments released over the course of eight consecutive days.

Last year, VICE founder Shane Smith and Editor Andy Capper, visited Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to meet three men who participated in the 14 years of civil war. One of the men giving us a guided tour is Joshua Blahyi, aka General Butt Naked, an ex-war lord famed for forcing his soldiers to fight wearing nothing but shoes. Blahyi admits to killing more than 20,000 people and drinking the blood of children, but now spends his time preaching about his quest for forgiveness.

Despite the UN's intervention in the country, the majority of Liberia's young people live in desperate poverty. Surrounded by filth, drug addiction, and teenage prostitution, the ex child soldiers who were forced into war struggle to fend for themselves by any means necessary. As the former President Charles Taylor fights accusations of mass war crimes in The Hague, the people strive for positive change against all odds. America's one and only foray into African colonialism is keeping a very uneasy peace indeed.

The VICE guide to Liberia

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 12:56 PM PST


Make contributor Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler published a fun kids' acitvity book called Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do). Above, one of the activities: supergluing your fingers together.

Other activities in the book: Look at the sun, Walk home from school, Kiss hello like the French, Play in a hailstorm, Dive in a dumpster, Melt glass, sleep in the wild, and whittle. What fun!

Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)

Mirror-image species and copulation in snails

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 12:50 PM PST

Frank Gorshin starred in a Star Trek episode about this. He played the parts of the clockwise and the counterclockwise snails! (Thanks, Gever!)

Orson Welles on police brutality

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 12:18 PM PST

D Walker sez,
The Internet Archive features a series of recordings of American radio broadcaster Orson Welles, in particular a recording from 1946 in which Welles reads the Affidavit of Isaac Woodard regarding his abuse at the hands of corrupt police officers, followed by a highly emotional and impassioned speech by Welles on the subject of bringing justice, corruption, and forgiveness.

With recent trends in police abuses being a topic of no small concern at BoingBoing as of late, I thought perhaps his little known broadcast should be remembered and shared, as it strikes a chord of similarity which is at once chilling and inspiring. Welles gives us a glimpse into a time and a setting in which a mere radio broadcaster spoke out in a fervor of disgust and revulsion against a terrible injustice, and was instrumental in bringing those responsible to bear for their crimes. If nothing else, it serves to remind us of what has come before, and what we can once more do and be again.

MP3 Link

1946 Orson Welles Commentaries (Thanks, D!)

(Image: File:Orson_Welles_1937.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)

Rustbelt collapse dividend: ginormous Chrysler plant and 3,000,000 sqft worth of gear up for sale

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:37 AM PST

Richard sez, "For the discerning mad scientist: the list of items up for auction by the University of Delaware from a former Chrysler plant in Newark, Delaware. The university bought the plant after it closed, and apparently got the contents as well. The coolest items are probably the 6 axis robot arms, some still in line along assembly lines. There appears to be all kinds of milling equipment as well as other mysterious devices of unsure provenance. I am sure a machine expert would be able to make sense of all of it. The place is acres large (ed: literally -- 3 million sqft), so I bet there are plenty of robot arms to go around. Oh to be an independently wealthy mad scientist with a large laboratory, perhaps under an extinct volcano, for this stuff. I suppose if there are any makers in the area they might want to check it out."

Former Assets of Chrysler / University of Delaware - 3 Million Sq. Ft. Automotive Fabrication, Assembly Plant & Distribution Center (Thanks, Richard!)

Too elementary, dear Watson!

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:33 AM PST

Just tried the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries iPhone game. This video explains it: ask questions, inspect evidence, then figure stuff out. An interesting idea, but the execution is so simplistic that interrogation is just an interactive story, clue-searching a mindless mini-game, and solutions easily brute-forced. It's polished and mildly entertaining--and just a dollar--but it only held my attention for a few minutes. [iTunes Link]

Crash test 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air VS. 2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:27 AM PST

What happens when a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu drive into each other? This slow-motion video of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal offset test shows the Malibu (or rather, the occupant inside) as the clear winner. (Via The Presurfer)

Mark Newman's "Eel Walker" sculpture

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:15 AM PST


Bay area sculptor Mark Newman recently finished this piece, called "Eel Walker." You can see in-process photos and more examples of his stunning work on his deviantART site.

Mark Newman's Gallery

Buckyballs: little magnetic metal balls that are fun to play with

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:16 AM PST

Jake Bronstein of Zoomdoggle sent me a bunch of Buckyballs and for the last few days my daughters and I have been playing with them during meals and in front of the TV. They're addictive.

Each box contains 216 Buckyballs, arranged in a 6 x 6 x 6 cube. They stick together because they're magnets. The magnets are strong enough that you can make a chain with all 216 balls that won't break when you dangle it. They are so strong in fact, that my thumb is a little bruised from the effort it takes to pull the balls apart.

The fun part about Buckyballs is the way they balls arrange themselves when you stick them together. The balls have a preference for certain crystalline structures. There seems to be a huge variety of structures the balls like to arrange themselves into, as you can see in the video above. (Learn other tricks with Buckyballs.) When I play with them, I feel like my hands are a nanotechnology machine sticking atoms together.

My current goal is to stack them back together into the 6 x 6 x 6 cube, but I haven't been able to figure out how to do it. I know that there are some YouTube videos that show how to do it, but I'm going to try to figure it out on my own.

(Disclosure: I'm an unpaid adviser to Zoomdoggle.)

Buckyballs on Amazon

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:15 AM PST

Here's a neat site launch: is a "painstakingly curated presentation of the best produced and designed iPhone applications that are available for download via the App Store." Nice simple UI, and nice app selections, mostly indie stuff I hadn't heard of. The guy behind is @fasonista, former product evangelist. I think he has good taste.

Search Engine's YouTube channel launches: Does the Internet make you dumber?

Posted: 14 Jan 2010 08:56 AM PST

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