Friday, June 15, 2007

Comic book ad cardboard spaceship

Jpb Ewb In Rocket Ship
Peter says: "In reference to your post on the cardboard submarine here is a picture of myself and my brother in a cardboard space ship about 1954. It might still exist in the basement storage at my parent’s house."

Now if someone can send me a photo of a teacup monkey that they actually got from the comic book ad, I can die a happy man.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Scans of old comic book ads

posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 15, 2007, 09:32 AM permalink | blogs' comments

NASA TV on baby monitor

Natalie Meilinger's video baby monitor has two channels: one shows her child's room, the other is a view inside the space shuttle Atlantis. It's common to pick up radio interference on most baby monitors, but this particular situation is apparently quite unusual. From the Associated Press:
Live video of the mission is available on NASA's Web site, so it's possible the monitor is picking up a signal from somewhere.

"It's not coming straight from the shuttle," NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said. "People here think this is very interesting and you don't hear of it often -- if at all."
Link (Thanks, Lindsay Tiemeyer!)

posted by David Pescovitz on June 15, 2007, 09:31 AM permalink | blogs' comments

RU Sirius interviews "Everything Is Miscellaneous" author David Weinberger

On 10 Zen Monkeys, RU Sirius interviews David Weinberger, author of Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder.
Picture 1-61RU: The order is found by the end user. A friend of mine has a business and his slogan is “living ala Carte”. That seems to be kind of what we’re doing with information, and so many other things.

DW: Yes, but when you order ala carte, everybody orders individually, based upon their tastes. I wouldn’t want to leave it there! The most exciting and important advances in how we’re making sense of this miscellaneous soup is that we’re doing it socially. We’re doing it through social networks; through recommendations from our friends, from sites that do that more formally; and from what shows up in our inbox. So this is not the Daily Me constituting the world based on our own individual interests. It’s the “Daily Bunch-of-Us.” It’s loosely defined groups of people making this happen.

RU: So this is not the wisdom of the individual or the wisdom of the crowds, but the wisdom of small social networks?

DW: Yeah. It’s the wisdom of the group. The crowd actually turns out to be quite lumpy. We know some people better… I know that this person over here is really useful and knowledgeable about FCC rulings, but I wouldn’t ask about cars! But this other person loves talking about cars.


posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 15, 2007, 07:31 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Africa -- Zimbabwe passes "interception of communications" law

BB reader Dips says,

A recent development in Zimbabwe: the government has passed a controversial new Bill that allows them to monitor phones, emails and postal mail: Link. South African Newspaper The Mail & Guardian: Link.

Also Zimbabwean blogsite: Link.

Related is another link on BBC site titled Zimbabwe 'collapse in six months': Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin on June 15, 2007, 06:42 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Angeline Jolie responds to press contract freakout

Following up on yesterday's BB post here -- Jeff says,
Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart asked Angelina Jolie about the controversy of alleged media contracts and access.

This link has a video clip of her response.

She basically said that it was done by her handlers to protect her but that the document did overreach and she wouldn't have authorized it herself. She did seem to indicate that she thought there was no coersion and no harm was done.

Related: CNN says Larry King didn't sign it anyway (Link), and Ms. Jolie's lawyer issues a mea culpa (Link). Here's a related NYT story. Defamer points out that she mightily rocked a $26 dress at the "Mighty Heart" premiere, which should have entitled her to a free pass on this one anyway.

posted by Xeni Jardin on June 15, 2007, 06:35 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Terrorists are stupid

Security guru Bruce Schneier takes a look at the recent "terrorist plots" -- JFK, Fort Dix, the Sears Tower, the liquid bombers -- that the government has foiled, and wonders why we get so worked up over terrorists whose plans are so stupid that they could never have worked.

There's an analogy to DHS checkpoints where we take off our shoes and shed our liquids. Blowing up airplanes with your shoes doesn't work -- if it did, we wouldn't know about it. It's only because the plot failed miserably that we even know about it. Same with moisture bombers -- maybe the terrorists were dumb enough to believe that they could mix a piranha bath in an airplane lav sink without killing themselves on the spot, but organic chemists say that it was pure fantasy.

We devote all our security energy to saving ourselves from idiots whose capacity for self-delusion is far greater than their capacity to kill us and blow up our national monuments.

The JFK Airport plotters seem to have been egged on by an informant, a twice-convicted drug dealer. An FBI informant almost certainly pushed the Fort Dix plotters to do things they wouldn't have ordinarily done. The Miami gang's Sears Tower plot was suggested by an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the group. And in 2003, it took an elaborate sting operation involving three countries to arrest an arms dealer for selling a surface-to-air missile to an ostensible Muslim extremist. Entrapment is a very real possibility in all of these cases.

The rest of them stink of exaggeration. Jose Padilla was not actually prepared to detonate a dirty bomb in the United States, despite histrionic administration claims to the contrary. Now that the trial is proceeding, the best the government can charge him with is conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim, and it seems unlikely that the charges will stick. An alleged ringleader of the U.K. liquid bombers, Rashid Rauf, had charges of terrorism dropped for lack of evidence (of the 25 arrested, only 16 were charged). And now it seems like the JFK mastermind was more talk than action, too.


posted by Cory Doctorow on June 15, 2007, 01:47 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Homemade firearms of Chechnya

Here's a gallery of homemade Chechen guns seized by Russian police. A kind of fatal ingenuity here -- like prison shivs made by people on the outside with access to better metal-shops. Link (Thanks, IZ Reloaded!)

posted by Cory Doctorow on June 15, 2007, 01:41 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Taipei street-basket virtuoso throws 140 balls/minute

Hombrelobo sez, "I recorded this video for my videoblog in Taipei, Taiwan. The guy is throwing balls like a maniac, about 140 balls a minute!" Link (Thanks, Hombrelobo!)

posted by Cory Doctorow on June 15, 2007, 01:28 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Wooden robot toys

Japanese toymaker Take-G produces stunning wooden robot toys. Link (via Cribcandy!)

posted by Cory Doctorow on June 15, 2007, 01:26 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Record exec to academic: stop criticizing us or I'll tell your university

Andrew Dubber, who is on faculty at the University of Central England, blogged a link to a story critical of RIAA lawsuits. Paul Birch, a British record exec who sits on the boards of the BPI and IFPI (trade orgs that represent the record industry in the UK and around the world) wrote him an angry letter, telling him that he wasn't allowed to post that kind of thing to his personal blog, because he works for a university that is funded by the government.

Dubber offered to give him rebuttal space, and Birch took the opportunity to complain that the record execs who ordered lawsuits against more than 20,000 music fans (in the US alone!) get angry phone-calls, emails and in-person questions.

Dubber countered with words about how suing music fans is a bad idea, and Birch closed with this threat:

It expresses opinion, it’s not factual. If you persist then I shall make a formal complaint to the University.

Your choice.

And this guy wonders why record executives are perceived as bullies.

Link (Thanks, Andrew!)

posted by Cory Doctorow on June 15, 2007, 01:20 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Yes Men crash oil expo, propose turning corpses into fuel

Master pranksters The Yes Men crashed the Gas and Oil Exposition 2007 in Calgary this week, impersonating a rep from the National Petroleum Council at a keynote in which they proposed to convert people who died from climate change disasters into fuel.
After noting that current energy policies will likely lead to "huge global calamities" and disrupt oil supplies, Wolff told the audience "that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil," said a Yes Men press release.

Yes Man Mike Bonnano, posing as an Exxon representative named Florian Osenberg, added that "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The impostors led growingly suspicious attendees in lighting Vivoleum candles made, they said, from a former Exxon janitor who died from cleaning a toxic spill. When shown a mock video of the janitor professing his desire to be turned in death into candles, a conference organizer pulled Bonanno and Bichlbaum from the stage.

As security guards led Bonanno from the room, Bichlbaum told reporters that "Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

Link (Thanks, Brandon!)

posted by Cory Doctorow on June 15, 2007, 12:46 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Space Chimps isn't the first film to honor astroprimate history

Following up on a previous BoingBoing post about word of a forthcoming animated "Space Chimps" feature directed by Barry Sonnenfeld -- BB reader Scott Goldman says,
You can't ignore the end title sequence of the Kazakh documentary: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Which presents the glorious history of Kazakh space exploration (monkeys and babies.)

posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 10:20 PM permalink | blogs' comments

NBC: pirates bigger threat to America than bank robbers, burglars

“Our law enforcement resources are seriously misaligned,” NBC/Universal general counsel Rick Cotton said. “If you add up all the various kinds of property crimes in this country, everything from theft, to fraud, to burglary, bank-robbing, all of it, it costs the country $16 billion a year. But intellectual property crime runs to hundreds of billions [of dollars] a year.”
Link (thanks, Fred von Lohmann)

posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 05:20 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Two new books from Disinformation press

The Disinformation Company has just published a couple of books that sound excellent. One is called Who's Watching You?: The Chilling Truth About The State, Surveillance, and Personal Freedom, and the other is called Who Really Runs the World? The War Between Globalization and Democracy.

135572162V4 240X240 FrontWho's Watching You?: The Chilling Truth About The State, Surveillance, and Personal Freedom

Like a scene out of the hit series 24, the government has used the threat of terrorism and the corresponding climate of fear to erode our freedoms; we no longer have the ability to live our lives away from the prying eyes of hidden cameras. Our government is truly tightening its grip on us by watching and recording nearly everything we do. They do this because they know they can and because knowledge is power. But exactly who are “they” and why do they want to know so much about us?

Who’s Watching You? includes chilling, accurate and up-to-date descriptions of the methods the government (and private company proxies) uses to watch us. Essential reading for everyone concerned about privacy and freedoms of speech and association, even–perhaps especially–if you don’t plan on doing anything wrong.

135572163V5 240X240 FrontWho Really Runs the World: The War Between Globalization and Democracy

The world is a mess. It’s constantly at war, things cost too much and the average person struggles to survive against powers it can barely see, let alone control. It appears so at odds with common sense, in fact, that it begs a fundamental question: Who really runs the world?

Who Really Runs The World?looks at the conspiracies in everyday life, both hidden and not-so-hidden. It examines actual people, businesses, social networks, corporate alliances and the dark forces of conspiracy and secret history that hold them together. Writing soberly and with authority, the authors address myriad conspiracy theories with open minds. The conclusions they reach may shock and scandalize some people–especially those who fervently believe in democracy–but will fascinate everyone.

Who's Watching You? |Who Really Runs the World?

posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 04:08 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Laugh Out Loud Cats: rediscovered short film

"For those still doubting the authenticity of the history of the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats (BB Links 1, 2), hopefully this rediscovered footage will put any skepticism to rest," says Ape Lad.

Video Link on Ape Lad's blog, direct YouTube link.

posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 03:29 PM permalink | blogs' comments

Creepy, interesting, and real -- a short link roundup

  • Actual headline: "FBI tries to fight zombie hordes."
  • Actual headline: "Baby monitor picks up space video from NASA."
  • Plague of locusts strikes an airport in Japan.
  • Nazi squirrels, fuck off!
  • Dude dresses up in crocodile cosplay in order to study crocodiles. (via)
  • HOWTO make pants from meat. Warning: do not attend any birthday parties for pit bulls while wearing these.
  • Artist Vanessa Beecroft simulates a spontaneous genocidal die-in in Darfur for her latest performance art project.
  • Mars Rover found "puddles" on the planet's surface.

    (Thanks, Kevin, Ragan Robinson, Jeff, axlrosen, Kasey, Susannah Breslin, John Parres, Bonnie)

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 01:48 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Cross and Switchblade comic book cover

    Cross And Switchblade2
    Jim says: "I saw the Christian Archie comics on Boing Boing and thought you might like this one (from my personal collection). And thanks for the boingboing. Great stuff."

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 01:37 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Flickr users in Germany and Asia complain of image censoring

    Farhad Manjoo has a story on Salon today about what amounts to a new censorship policy at Flickr. He says,

    They're blocking users in Germany, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong from turning off "SafeSearch" -- meaning people there can't see anything that users have flagged "moderate" or "restricted." The plan has caused a huge firestorm on Flickr's boards.

    Stewart Butterfield responded by hinting that it wasn't Flickr's decision to put the plan in place (Hint, it was Yahoo's.)

    Link. Here's a related user group on Flickr. Here's a related comment thread on Flickr, which includes a reply from Butterfield -- snip from that:
    Unfortunately I can't give a more detailed update yet or any concrete good news, but please don't take our silence to mean that nothing is happening.

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 01:18 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Army LOLs: a Soldier's Guide to the Republic of Iraq

    A 2003's "Soldier's Guide to the Republic of Iraq," issued by the Army on the eve of the U.S. invasion, tells troops that Arabs see "little virtue in a frank exchange" and are "by American standards... reluctant to accept responsibility."

    Link (thanks, Noah Shachtman)

    See also:

  • WWII US military comic: "How to Spot a Jap," from 1942
  • Dr Seuss's anti-malaria GI comic
  • Iraq visual language survival guides for military personnel
  • Letterbombs dropped in Southern Iraq
  • US military leaflets dropped over Iraq, take two.
  • Many more previous posts related to Iraq

  • posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 01:12 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Space Chimps, the movie

    Sweet jeebus, my prayers have been answered:
    Barry Sonnenfeld will produce animated laffer "Space Chimps" along with Vanguard Animation and Starz Media. Twentieth Century Fox will distribute. (...)

    Script by helmer Kirk De Micco tells the story of astronaut chimps on a mission in space.

    Variety (via Defamer).

    On the NASA website, read more about animals in space, and the first monkey and chimpanzee astronauts. Above, "Ham" the chimp in his flight couch, after his trip in the Mercury-Redstone 2 on Jan. 31, 1961.

    Reader comment: The Junior Mad Scientist says,

    Apropos of the slated animal astronauts movie: James Vinning has a graphic novel about the little critters, "First In Space" -- Amazon Link. Look well worth a read. Also a link about it at Newsarama. First Second Books is publishing Laika by Nick Abadzis, about the first dog into space. Link.
    Marshall says,
    BoingBoing fave Apelad drew me a portrait of Ham the Chimp, Retired Simian Astronaut for his monkey series. He's also done a portrait of Cosmonaut Yulia, the People's Monkey. Link.
    Sunny says,
    A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see this wonderful animal rights documentary about the first chimps in space. I don't think it was ever widely distributed, but it should be required viewing in public schools. Amazon Link.
    Michael Hill says,
    A few years back Aaron Seymour made a great space-chimp flick - kinda Lancelot Link meets Tarkovsky's Solaris. Here's some renders.

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 01:02 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Photos of prisons around the world

    Deputy Dog has published a gallery of astonishing photos of prisons from around the world. He's labeled them as the world's most valuable prison, smallest prison, most secure prison, strangest prison, etc.

     2007 06 Prison-Leoben  2007 06 Prison-Leoben3

    Here is his pick for the "world’s best-looking prison" -- the Leoben Justice Centre, in Steiermark, Austria. Link

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 12:31 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Video: Bats for Lashes

    Video Link. Natasha Khan, aka Bats for Lashes, song is "What's a Girl to Do?" Notability factor: includes furries on bikes doing stunts in the dark. Said to be an homage to Donnie Darko. Directed by Dougal Wilson, who also directed this much-blogged video from a few years ago. (Thanks, Susannah Breslin!)

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 12:27 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Ice cream patent wars in the 1930s

    Kanga Ruedown says:
    200706141211 The link covers long forgotten ice cream patent wars in the 1920s and 1930s.

    PS, about the decorated products:

    Making food products with applied decorations is much harder than molding. This is why the Korean fish looks so good, but the ice cream treats are entirely random.

    The process is not unlike traditional printing, except that there is little chance for registration when the food items are printed with rapidly applied strings of sugar/frosting.

    The tolerances on existing equipment are very loose - almost +/- .25", and there is little guarantee that the applied decorations will go where you expect.

    When the jobs are setup, everything looks great - but 8 or 9 hours later, the jobs tend to drift and move from thermal changes.

    Quality control is pretty much limited to taste (and you know how random that is) and trying to keep the products frozen.

    Anything else is irrelevant - it only has to be attractive when you provide a production sample to the guy that orders 10,000 bulk cases of pirate pops.

    Kids will eat anything, especially if the wrapper/label is shiny and features a recognizable character. Thus, there is no incentive to make each item perfect.

    Items which are extrusion or cold molded with colors do somewhat better, but again, it's just ice cream.

    Sadly, with food, quality doesn't seem to pay as well as quantity!


    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Expertly produced Korean red bean ice cream fish
    Tweety Bird popsicle doesn't look like Tweety Bird
    Bugs Bunny popsicle
    Turtle popsicle reflects pride in workmanship
    Popsicle parody ad

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 12:13 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Screensaver of old comic book ads

    Bradley says:
    200706141202 Your June 13 story on old comic book ads reminded me that a friend and I put together a screen saver of them.

    Having been retrieved from the catacombs of his hard drive, the screen saver is at my site for all to download. Enjoy.

    (Note: It's a .exe file and I have not tried using it.) Link

    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Scans of old comic book ads
    Photo of comic book Polaris submarine

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 12:03 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    TSA detains woman over infant's sippy cup -- I feel safer!

    Jordan says: "This [story published in NowPublic] just made my blood boil: a mom was bullied by a gaggle of security officers at Dulles National (Reagan) Aiport over the water in her 19-month-old son's sippy cup. The story starts out sort of funny, with the sippy cup being seen as some sort of deadly weapon, but quickly spirals into nightmare territory. This is a national embarassment; I feel more threatened by these uniformed goons than I do by terrorists, and I lived in NYC during 9/11."
    200706141151"I demanded to speak to a TSA [Transportation Security Administration] supervisor who asked me if the water in the sippy cup was 'nursery water or other bottled water.' I explained that the sippy cup water was filtered tap water. The sippy cup was seized as my son was pointing and crying for his cup. I asked if I could drink the water to get the cup back, and was advised that I would have to leave security and come back through with an empty cup in order to retain the cup. As I was escorted out of security by TSA and a police officer, I unscrewed the cup to drink the water, which accidentally spilled because I was so upset with the situation.

    "At this point, I was detained against my will by the police officer and threatened to be arrested for endangering other passengers with the spilled 3 to 4 ounces of water. I was ordered to clean the water, so I got on my hands and knees while my son sat in his stroller with no shoes on since they were also screened and I had no time to put them back on his feet.

    "I was ordered to apologize for the spilled water, and again threatened arrest. I was threatened several times with arrest while detained, and while three other police officers were called to the scene of the mother with the 19 month old. A total of four police officers and three TSA officers reported to the scene where I was being held against my will. I was also told that I should not disrespect the officer and could be arrested for this too. I apologized to the officer and she continued to detain me despite me telling her that I would miss my flight. The officer advised me that I should have thought about this before I 'intentionally spilled the water!'"


    (Sidenote: WTF is Nursery Water? It's a brand of fluoridated water for babies.)

    Reader comment:

    Maxx says:

    Tsa-Ftw Your article about this sippy cup airport hell reminded me of something that happened to me recently.

    A while ago while flying out of PDX, a TSA person made a family unpack a bag because there was liquid containers inside. Upon unpacking it, it wasn't just a few. The ENTIRE bag was full of sippy cups and bottles etc all full of stuff for their bratty kid. The TSA sheep saw the amount of bottles and called over some supervisor. The supervisor glanced at it and waved them through. I was in such shock that I took this (bad) picture with my camera phone of the tray full of bottles.

    After this, I spoke to the supervisor. I asked why that person was let through pointing out that they could be on my flight and I was in danger now.

    He rolled his eyes and said "They're formula for their kid." to which I said, now a bit louder "NO! They're containers of liquid!" He shrugged. I said "So if I have a kid with me, I can just bring however much liquid on a plane. Any other TSA loopholes you can tell me about?" He said he couldn't tell me and I'd have to "find them for myself" and once more security started walking over, I felt it was time to walk away.

    The only thing I hate more than stupid rules for the illusion of safety is when they arbitrarily just throw them away. It's a way of blatantly admitting they do nothing but continue to ruin life for anyone who wants to travel.

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 11:58 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Beautiful accident: orange paint spilled on freeway

    bill says: "Truck hauling orange paint [near St. Louis, Missouri] spills it on the road leaving a 3 mile streach of road a lovely hue of bright orange -- there is a link to video too."
    200706141140 Apparently, a truck carrying orange paint sprung a leak, and just kept going. The orange stripe starts around Highway 203 (near Gateway International Raceway) and goes to about 4th Street in East St. Louis, a distance of more than 3 miles.

    Reader comment:

    Jake says:

    200706141501 Your story on the red paint spill is very similar to what happened in Massachusetts a couple of months ago. A truck carrying red dye for coloring bark mulch spilled it's load - cars spread the dye for nearly 3 miles! Check out this picture from Autoblog.

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 11:42 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Glitches in Russian computers persist aboard Space Shuttle

    Snip from a NYT story by John Schwartz:
    The Russian computers that help keep the International Space Station in orbit were largely out of commission for a second day, a glitch that could imperil the $100 billion space laboratory.

    NASA officials expressed confidence, however, that the problem could be resolved. “I fully expect us to be able to do this,” said Michael T. Suffredini , the manager of the station program.

    The station depends on Russian and American computer systems to maintain the positioning of the station as it orbits the earth. The United States computer system runs the network of gyroscopes that provide stability, and the Russian system controls thrusters that correct the orientation of the station when the gyroscopes alone cannot do the job and that shift its position for operations like docking and avoiding debris.

    Link. Image: NASA. "A nadir view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis was photographed by a member of the Expedition 15 crew aboard the International Space Station as the two spacecraft were nearing their much-anticipated link-up in Earth orbit. The 17.8 ton S3/S4 truss to be added next week to the station can be seen berthed in the payload bay of the shuttle."

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 11:39 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    FBI broke rules 1,000+ times in domestic spying, tech cos helped

    Snip from Washington Post story by John Solomon:
    An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.

    The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews. The earlier report found 22 violations in a much smaller sampling.

    The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect. The agents retained the information anyway in their files, which mostly concerned suspected terrorist or espionage activities.

    But two dozen of the newly-discovered violations involved agents' requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have, according to the audit results provided to The Washington Post. Only two such examples were identified earlier in the smaller sample.

    Link (use bugmenot to bypass WaPo's own idiotic data collection requirement). Link to (reg-free) synopsis from Reuters (oddly, also hosted on WaPo's servers).

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 10:41 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Angelina Jolie promotes press freedom while censoring reporters?

    Snip from Romenesko:
    Angelina Jolie, who plays the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in a new pro-press freedom movie [A Mighty Heart], "turns out to be a mighty hypocrite when it comes to her own freedom of the press," writes [Fox News'] Roger Friedman. Her lawyer is requiring journalists to sign a contract before talking to her. Friedman says reporters from most major media outlets refused to sign the contract, which closely dictates the terms of all interviews with Jolie.
    Link. The notion that Hollywood reps would try to control how their client is portrayed in the press is hardly new. But if Friedman's allegations are true, [*if*, and he's reporting for Fox News, fwiw] -- that's pretty LOL when the actress/activist in question stars in a movie about censorship and press freedoms. This would also suggest that each of the big media outlets interviewing Jolie on the "Mighty Heart" launch circuit have signed away their obligation to act as news organizations, instead of self-censored movie promotion services. Wait, that's not new, either...

    Update: ABC has more, and apparently Fox News was specifically banned from covering the movie premiere:

    The press wasn't going to refrain from reporting on Jolie's attempt to manage it, reported that both USA Today and The Associated Press canceled interviews with Jolie. She then scrapped print interviews altogether when she learned of their reaction.

    According to Fox, Jolie took her press wrangling one step further. She told Paramount Pictures, the company behind the film, to keep Fox News and all its affiliates off the red carpet. It was only after the Paramount staff intervened that a Fox camera crew was granted a spot. This after Fox called the film "excellent."


    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 14, 2007, 10:31 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Puma's new Urban Mobility bike

    Pumared Puma's new 8-speed Urban Mobility Bike is gorgeous. The bike is a collaboration between Japanese street artist Maruwaka and Keigo Kamide, a maker of Kutani pottery. The bike was based on the original Puma Urban Mobility bicycle designed by my friend Jens-Martin Skibsted for Biomega. According to the PUMATALK blog, "the bikes will be displayed at the PUMA store and sold through silent charity auction. Proceeds will be donated to victims in the Hokuriku region of Japan who were affected by the March 25th earthquake."

    Previously on BB:
    • Biomerga's new Puma bike Link
    • Biomega/Puma sneaker for biking Link

    posted by David Pescovitz on June 14, 2007, 10:06 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Video of assembly line for world's crappiest car

    In my book, World's Worst, I bestowed the title of "World's Worst Car" to the Trabant Sputnik. Here's an excerpt from my book:
    Picture 4-25 Produced in East Germany under the directive of the Socialist government especially for the local market, the Trabant Sputnik was the epitome of Eastern bloc arrogance on four wheels. Steel was in extremely short supply in East Germany at the time (1957), forcing the Trabant’s engineers to search for a substitute. Working with the materials at hand, they came up with a miracle substance they called Duroplast—made from wood pulp, sheep’s wool, and tree sap—which was molded into cardboard panels to form the body of the car.

    Beneath the car’s surface, things were even worse. The engine, a tiny two-stroke model similar to a moped engine, made up for its pitiful weakness by spewing such an astounding quantity of foul-smelling exhaust that West Germany forbade ownership of the Trabant, and when Car and Driver magazine imported one into the United States to test it, the Environmental Protection Agency wouldn’t let them operate it on public streets.

    Coop found some great videos of the production line inside the Trabant Factory. He says, "Be sure to watch the second video linked on the page, where a mullet-clad East German assembly line worker aligns the hood with the body by repeatedly kicking the grille! What a country, as a pre-Glasnost Yakov Smirnov would say..." Link

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 10:00 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Post-breakup retrieval service

    Here's an ad on Craigslist-SF for a service that will retrieve items "left behind" at former lovers' homes. Of course, I think more often than not people secretly want the excuse to see their exes again and this is one way to make that happen. Here's the ad:
    Did you leave something special behind?

    Reply to: Date: 2007-06-12, 9:53PM PDT

    Did some bad break-up or awkward one-night-stand have you exiting a lovers house in a hurry, in a frazzled flurry, so that you ended up leaving some cherished item behind?

    It could be as small as the left stud earring to a pair OR as large as a bicycle, a book, boxer shorts, a letter declaring your love, a CD, a DVD, a pet dog? Whatever the item, now the humiliation or shame of the situation makes it impossible to go back to get it.

    Can't call for fear of hearing that voice—seeing that face?

    Well, if having that object back in your possession is desperately important, leave the dirty work to us!! With an address, we will go and retrieve your abandoned keepsake AND return it to an anonymous location of your choice, no questions asked, no appearances necessary, no monetary fee required.

    Simply put: we've been there. And we understand how frustrating it can be to lose a prized possession in the messy getaway; to desert a priceless part in the midst of a discarded heart.

    contact us now.

    Link (Thanks, Jess Hemerly!)

    UPDATE: Several BB readers believe that this could be some sort of scam, art piece, marketing campaign, dangerous idea, etc. Caveat retrievor.

    posted by David Pescovitz on June 14, 2007, 09:22 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Photo of comic book Polaris submarine

    Yesterday I ran a scan of a comic book ad for a toy Polaris Sub. As a comic book reading kid in the 70s, I must've seen the ad hundreds of times.

    I've always wondered what they really looked like, and today, Clayton kindly emailed me a remarkable photo of himself in one from 1967. The submarine looks a lot cooler than I thought it would!

    He says: "The submarine is long gone but proof of its fabulousness remains.

    "Lawnmower off the starboard bow! Submerge to periscope depth!"

    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 14, 2007, 06:32 AM permalink | blogs' comments

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Sexual predators online - the real story

    The next time someone starts telling you how important it is to "protect kids from online predators," send them to this record of the DC Internet Caucus panel on kids and predation, wherein quantitative social scientists describe the real situation with predators and kids. Kids do get preyed upon, but not in the way that it's depicted in the media, and none of the cell-phone-tracking, spyware-installing fear-based parenting does squat to protect them. If you want to keep your kids safe, you need to know what you're keeping them safe from.
    But actually, the research in the cases that we’ve gleaned from actual law enforcement files, for example, suggests a different reality for these crimes. So first fact is that the predominant online sex crime victims are not young children. They are teenagers. There’s almost no victims in the sample that we collected from – a representative sample of law enforcement cases that involved the child under the age of 13.

    In the predominant sex crime scenario, doesn’t involve violence, stranger molesters posing online as other children in order to set up an abduction or assault. Only five percent of these cases actually involved violence. Only three percent involved an abduction. It’s also interesting that deception does not seem to be a major factor. Only five percent of the offenders concealed the fact that they were adults from their victims. Eighty percent were quite explicit about their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating with.

    So these are not mostly violence sex crimes, but they are criminal seductions that take advantage of teenage, common teenage vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teams know are sexual in nature with people who are considerably older than themselves.


    posted by Cory Doctorow on June 13, 2007, 11:37 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Pac-Man skull

    From artist Le Gentil Garçon:
     Img Img Works Pacman Adv Pacman Adv 1"PacMan’s skeleton, conceived by Le Gentil Garçon, in collaboration with François Escuilié, palaeontologist, from the comparative observation of human and various predatory animal skulls. 2004, Resin, diameter: 65 cm."
    Link (Thanks, Lindsay Tiemeyer!)

    Previously on BB:
    • Cartoon character skeletons Link
    • Artificial cartoon-character skeletons Link

    posted by David Pescovitz on June 13, 2007, 08:09 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Creepy, interesting, and real -- a short link roundup.

  • Giant clothes-free pole dancer crop circle frightens prudish people on planes. Link.

  • Naked 19-year-old mobile blowjob receiver cited for "drinking and 'embracing' while driving." The pull quote: "'You are not supposed to be hugging or kissing while driving,' [officer] Merrill said. 'It’s so distracting.'" Link.

  • Extreme tax resisters in New Hampshire holed up in "Waco-like" situation. Link.

  • Scary lady rips off her ex-boyfriend's testicle, tries to eat it, then later -- can't remember it. Link.

  • 50-ton whale killed in Alaska last month had 130-year-old weapon embedded in its blubber. Link.

  • Outgoing British PM Tony Blair wants new regulation, monitoring, enforcement, censorship system for online journalism -- hey, just like China. Link.

  • This rare and ancient purple frog is simultaneously icky and beautiful. (Image below, Kalyan Varma) Link to what may be some of the only photos ever taken of this little fella. The pull quote: "It feels like a big bag of jelly when you hold it in your hand and I must say, its a very strong frog."

    (thanks, kevin, jason, kevin, big fez, Noella)

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 13, 2007, 06:50 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    YouTube and Google to test copyright filtering, ATT too

    Two separate stories, one troublesome trend. First -- YouTube / Google announces plans to test a filtering system -- "digital fingerprinting" -- with the intent to block copyrighted content (WSJ, AP, Time).

    Today, news that AT&T plans to do effectively the same to their phone and data subscribers (Wired, LA Times). Snip:

    "The risk AT&T faces is fighting the last war by spending money and energy plugging an old hole in the wall when new ones are breaking out," said Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Freedom Foundation. The San Francisco digital-rights organization has sued AT&T, alleging it illegally released customers' phone data to the federal government.

    Technology is putting unlimited copying power in the hands of consumers, Von Lohmann said, so the answer to piracy can't be trying to stop them from making copies.

    "The answer should be to figure out how to turn them into paying customers," he said.

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 13, 2007, 06:23 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Scans of comic book ads

    200706131638 Ben Smith went to a garage sale and picked up a grocery bag full of Silver Age comics (and some Zaps, too). I'm so envious I could kill him. At least he was kind enough to scan some of his favorite ads from the pages. All of them bring back memories. Did anyone buy this Polaris Nuclear sub for $6.98? If you did, add a comment to Ben's Flickr site. Better yet, if you still have your sub, take a photo and send it to me.

    If you like old comic book ads, I highly recommend the book Hey Skinny!, which is out of print. Used copies are for sale at Amazon for $6.67 and up.


    posted by Mark Frauenfelder on June 13, 2007, 04:39 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Jamais Cascio on his new hearing aids

    My Institute for the Future colleague Jamais Cascio just got hearing aids. He's written an interesting essay on his experience so far, and also riffs on technology for human augmentation and enhancement. It's titled "The Accidental Cyborg." From the essay:
     Images Out-Of-EarThese aren't just dumb amplifiers; they're little digital signal processors, small enough to fit into the ear canal, and smart enough to know when to boost the input and when to leave it alone. They're programmable, too (sadly, not by the end-user -- programming requires an acoustic enclosure, not just a computer connection). And here's where therapeutic augmentation starts to fuzz into enhancement: one of the program modes I'm considering would give me far better than normal hearing, allowing me to pick up distant conversations like I was standing right there...

    I expect that, over the next decade, hearing aid technologies will have improved enough that most of the drawbacks will have been rectified, and I'll have access to hearing capabilities better than ever before; over that same time, we may see biomedical advances that can fix deficient hearing, restoring perfectly functional natural hearing. Augmentation for therapy slides inexorably into augmentation for enhancement. Should I give up my better-than-human hearing to go back to a "natural" state?

    Previously on BB:
    • Simians, Cyborgs, and Gareth Brawnyn Link
    • Musician requests truly badass bone conduction hearing aid Link
    • Hearing aid museum Link
    • Deaf hacker rewrites implant-firmware Link

    posted by David Pescovitz on June 13, 2007, 03:20 PM permalink | blogs' comments

    Guatemala: very large earthquake

    I just spoke to a friend in Guatemala who says there's just been a very large seismic event -- at or over 7.2, is what local news says. No official reports of injury or damage, and no report from Guatemala's institute of Seismology. I'm hearing it was centered near the southern coastal area of Escuintla, 70 miles away from the capital, Guatemala City -- and that the quake was very deep, but they're not expecting tsunamis.

    I spent the better part of the last month working on a documentary series in Guatemala. The area where this quake hit was heavily waterlogged from intense rains over the last few weeks, there was flooding and some small mudslides... I wonder if there will be reports of further damage of that kind, it's possible that a quake this strong would dislodge wet soil.

    I've spoken to a number of people on the phone since the quake hit, and it was felt in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala City, and as far north as some of the small indigenous towns in the upper part of the department of Sololá.

    The quake just happened within the past hour.

    Update: Reuters says 6.8: Link (in Spanish). Ah, here's a CNN report (thanks, Seth Rosner). The quake hit at 3:29PM ET, 1:29PM Guatemala Time. People felt it as far away as Mexico and the capital city in El Salvador, and the activity even registered on seismographs 1,800 miles away (!) on Midway Island.

    Early reports indicated some homes were damaged and people may be missing, journalist Patzy Vazquez told CNN en Español. Torrential rains have made telephone communication difficult, hampering efforts of rescuers trying to reach the region. The USGS has received no confirmed reports of damage or casualties, and no immediate reports of aftershocks, the agency's Rafael Abreu told CNN. As a precaution, authorities were evacuating high-rise buildings and homes that might be vulnerable to damage if there were any aftershocks.
    (map image ganked from

    posted by Xeni Jardin on June 13, 2007, 01:40 PM permalink | blogs' comments

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