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CATable desk designed for humans and cats

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The CATable integrates crawl spaces to keep your kitty happy. (Laughing Squid)

Accused murderer wants "murder" tattoo hidden pre-trial

New slt chapman

This gentleman is Jeffrey Wade Chapman who will soon go to trial in Barton County, Kansas for first degree murder. Chapman's attorney has filed a motion requesting that before the trial Chapman be permitted to have a tattoo artist cover up his client's tattoo -- the word "MURDER" in mirror image -- because it "is irrelevant to the State’s case and would be extremely prejudicial to Mr. Chapman if introduced at trial or observed by the jury.” The State doesn't oppose Chapman's covering the tattoo but will not transport him to a licensed tattoo shop, and it's illegal for a tattoo artist to practice anywhere else. (Great Bend Tribune)

How science fiction influences thinking about the future


Eileen Gunn writes, "What's science fiction good for? The May issue of Smithsonian magazine has an essay on the relationship between science, science fiction, and the future by Boing Boing buddy Eileen Gunn. Major writers -- Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow and others -- talk about why science fiction likes to think about the future and how SF can be used to help scientists think about the uses and ethics of their inventions. The rest of the issue covers science and ethical issues of the near future."

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Marvelous 18th century secretary cabinet

Please enjoy this video of my new writing desk with its hidden compartments, clockwork mechanisms, chimes, inkwell, and sand sifter. It was built in the workshop of Abraham and David Roentgen during the 18th century and previously owned by King Frederick William II. OK, fine, it's not mine. But it will be. Someday. SOMEDAY! (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

Video: Bringing back extinct species

In recent years, the possibility of reviving extinct species by recreating their genomes has become a reality. First on deck for "de-extinction" are the wolly mammoth and passenger pigeon. But is this a good idea? KQED's QUEST takes a look: "Reawakening Extinct Species"

Loch Ness Monster photo on Apple Maps?

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Does this image of Loch Ness from Apple's Maps app depicts Nessie or the wake of a small boat? Unfortunately, I think it's the latter as we all know the Loch Ness Monster more closely resembles a pleiosaur than a giant catfish. (Forbes)

Phone phreakers' anthem

Brad sez, "A few decades ago, phone phreaks spent all of their free time learning about the Bell telephone system and making free phone calls to each other. This song by Bonecage attempts to capture that era, and the footage for the video was contributed by phone phreaks (and ex-phone phreaks) around the world."

Stephen Colbert on David Letterman

Last night Stephen Colbert sat down with David Letterman. The conversation is fantastic.

I will dearly miss Letterman, however I haven't been regularly watching the show in years. I remember sneaking after my bedtime, as a young kid, to watch Dave and Paul in the early 80s. Hal Gurnee's network time killers changed my life.

I can not wait to see Colbert's version of the Late Show. I'm already a fan!

Video Link

Petition against UK sell-off of private tax data

Pam writes, "The Open Rights Group has set up a petition in response to last week's news that the British government is planning to sell access to private tax records."

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Obama official responsible for copyright chapters of TPP & ACTA gets a job at MPAA; his replacement is another copyright lobbyist


Stan McCoy is the assistant US Trade Representative who oversaw the creation of the disastrous, far-reaching copyright provisions in ACTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. He's left the Obama administration for a high-paid job at the MPAA, which represents companies that stood to reap massive profits and permanent control over Internet governance and innovation thanks to his efforts while in government. Now, the Obama administration has headhunted a software industry lobbyist (who supported SOPA) to take over his job. McCoy is one of more than a dozen USTR officials who've left the government to work for copyright lobbying bodies, including former Obama copyright czar Victoria Espinel, who now gets her paycheck from the Business Software Alliance.

Timothy Lee has an excellent piece on the revolving-door relationship between the USTR and the entertainment industry and other copyright lobbyists. When Obama was campaigning for office, he vowed that "lobbyists won't work in my White House."

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This Day in Blogging History: Scarfolk, trapped in a 1969-79 loop; Meat business-cards; Leaked memo reveals Diebold's illegal voting machines

One year ago today
Wyndhamesque missives from Scarfolk, an English horror-town trapped in a 1969-79 loop: I'm loving the Scarfolk site, where "Dr R Littler" chronicles the mysteries of an English town stuck in a Wyndham-esque loop betwen 1969 and 1979. It's full of the most lovely horrors.

Five years ago today
Business cards made from meat: We start with 100% beef jerky, and SEAR your contact information into it with a 150 WATT CO2 LASER.

Ten years ago today
A New Pentagon Papers Case - Newspapers, Blogs and the Diebold/Jones Day Memos: Last Tuesday it was revealed that Diebold was informed by its lawyers that using uncertified e-voting software in California was probably illegal. Where did this information come from? Leaked legal memos from Diebold's law firm, Jones Day.

How the Russian surveillance state works

In case you (like Edward Snowden) want to know about the full scope of Russia's program of mass domestic and international surveillance, World Policy's overview of the Russian surveillance state is brilliant and terrifying. As Snowden said, "I blew the whistle on the NSA's surveillance practices not because I believed that the United States was uniquely at fault, but because I believe that mass surveillance of innocents – the construction of enormous, state-run surveillance time machines that can turn back the clock on the most intimate details of our lives – is a threat to all people, everywhere, no matter who runs them."

The World Policy report has impeccable credentials, having been jointly researched by Agentura.Ru, CitizenLab, and Privacy International.

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This Day in Blogging History: Tombstone euphemisms for "death"; Biden promises Hollywood a blank check; Silmarillion in 1,000 words

One year ago today
Early American tombstone euphemisms for death: Caitlin GD Hopkins collected 101 euphemisms for "died" from early American epitaphs. The epitaphs came from tombstones pre-1825, to qualify, the euphemism had to appear in the main text of the tombstone.

Five years ago today
Joe Biden promises a blank check to the entertainment cartel: VP Joe Biden stood up in front of a bunch of Hollywood execs and promised to appoint a copyright czar, and furthermore, that this would be the "right" person to protect their interests. [Ed: Biden gave them Victoria Espinel, who produced a series of dreadful, industry-friendly policies and then walked out into a lucrative job at the Business Software Alliance]

Ten years ago today
Silmarillion in 1,000 words: The Silmarillion is a dense book chronicling the minutest minutae of Tolkien's Middle Earth. Reading it is something of an accomplishment in itself -- but now you can fake it.

Eternal vigilance app for social networks: treating privacy vulnerabilities like other security risks

Social networking sites are Skinner boxes designed to train you to undervalue your privacy. Since all the compromising facts of your life add less than a dollar to the market-cap of the average social network, they all push to add more "sharing" by default, with the result that unless you devote your life to it, you're going to find your personal info shared ever-more-widely by G+, Facebook, Linkedin, and other "social" services.

Arvind Narayanan has proposed a solution to this problem: a two-part system through which privacy researchers publish a steady stream of updates about new privacy vulnerabilities introduced by the social networking companies (part one), and your computer sifts through these and presents you with a small subset of the alerts that pertain to you and your own network use.

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US intel chief's insane new secrecy directive forbids intel employees from "unauthorized" contact with reporters


U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The US Director of National Intelligence has issued a Directive [PDF] that forbids most intelligence community employees from talking to journalists about “intelligence-related information” unless they have explicit authorization to do so.

Intelligence community employees “must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on any intel-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” according to the Directive signed by James Clapper.

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