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Retro porntech: Victorian-era nose-operated peepshow

"As the name suggests, this is a nose operated peep show. Originally made for an exhibition dedicated to embarrassment. When you look through the holes a rather boring picture of a Victorian naked lady is slowly revealed. What you do not realise is that the same time two 'decorative' cheek mirrors drop down unseen, two blusher pads come out and redden your face, thus guaranteeing embarrassment"
Link, from the Odd Objects Gallery which contains many similar weird gadgets of yesteryear. Discuss (Thanks, Cowgirl!)

War headline moment of zen

Spotted on Fark:
Syria sets up Iraq the bomb. Rumsfeld: 'All Syria are belong to US.'
Discuss

Web Zen: An Ark of Critters

chipmunk
rabbit
bunny vs. bear
sheep
dogs
kittens
monkees
squirrels

Link Discuss (Thanks, Frank!)

American Military operation automatic name-generator

An oldie, but perhaps worth a revisit. Click this link for "20 Randomly Generated American Military Operation Names," via Dan Gillmor's blog. Here's a taste of what I got:

Operation Clambering Otter
Operation Awesome Daisy
Operation High-pressure Meerkat
Operation It's Best to Avoid Our Supernova
Operation Evangelical Python
Operation Grab Your Ankles and Prepare for Our Rocket
Operation Prepare to Be Destroyed by Our Uniform

Discuss

Iraq-o-meter provides dashboard glimpse of war

The Iraq-o-meter gives you displays continuously updated stats on the war in Iraq, including the number of bombs dropped, civilian casualties, oil wells aflame, Iraq soldiers surrendered, W.M.D. sites uncovered, and territory control. It was created by Russel Ginns, an artist, author, and ukulele player. Link Discuss

Pirates of the Caribbean game coming

Disney's signed a deal with Bethesda Software to ship a video game based on the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
Featuring stunning graphics, deep role-playing elements and thrilling quests, the Pirates of the Caribbean game offers players the unique opportunity to prove their mettle against the legendary buccaneers of the Caribbean.

"The Pirates of the Caribbean game transports players to the 17th Century where they can experience life as a pirate in any way they see fit," said executive producer Todd Vaughn. "Whether they want to be feared by all and welcome nowhere, or just enjoy compelling missions or a life at sea, we're creating a game that fits their gameplay style."

Link Discuss (Thanks, Robnit!)

Employee-of-the-year donated kidney to customer

A waiter at a Radisson hotel in Hawai'i has been named employee of the year for donating a kidney to an ailing guest. Link Discuss (via NTK)

Gateway's "use media legally" ads too controversial for CBS

Gateway's new "Rip, Burn, Respect" ad campaign, which urges customers to make legal uses of digital media, has pissed off CBS, which is considering pulling the ads.
The commercial urges consumers to buy Gateway computers and receive a bundle of free songs. It closes with the address of a Web site that shows consumers how to copy music legally and calls on them to lobby Congress against anti-piracy mandates.
Link Discuss

If you're watching everybody, you're watching nobody

John Gilmore's written a great post for Farber's Interesting People list analyzing the failings with the universal surveillance proposals of the current regime.
But even if they have a dozen systems that can read the lettering on a basketball, they can't read the lettering on all the basketballs in the world. Or even all the basketballs in Iraq, or Columbus, Ohio.

So what matters is having good judgment about what to look at. And good judgment is where our intelligence bureacracy, and our current political leadership, both have notoriously bad records. The spy agencies didn't predict the end of the Cold War, didn't predict 9/11, didn't predict the information revolution, are drowning in way too much data with little understanding, and resisted the spread of the encryption that barely protects our infrastructures today. Meanwhile the President and his gang are destroying freedom at home, wasting vast resources on third rate tinpot dictators, destabilizing international law and long-standing peaceful alliances, and supporting criminality and corruption and terrorism all over the world with price supports on illegal drugs.

This government hasn't learned that if you're watching everybody, you're watching nobody. Our society was much safer when it was run by people who knew that if you spend 99% of your time investigating innocent citizens who you have no reason to suspect, you're going to have real trouble catching the people you have actual reasons to suspect. Either these guys are stupid, or they really are trying to build a police state. My friends in government try to convince me that incompetence is far more common than malevolence -- but they forget that positions of power attract such people.

Link Discuss

Kiwi telcos settle dispute with arm-wrestling

Kiwi moble telco CEOs have settled a regulatory dispute with an arm-wrestling match.
Bosses at New Zealand telecoms firm TeamTalk have been arguing with radio communications company MCS Global Digital over access to their mobile radio network.

But, worried over the time and fees involved in court hearings, TeamTalk boss David Ware challenged MCS chief Allan Cosford to settle the dispute through an arm-wrestling contest...

At stake was more than 200,000 New Zealand dollars ($70,700; $113,000), said Mr Ware, whose Wellington-based firm has previously gained a high profile for its indoor Friday barbecues.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Greg!)

Brighton Pier burns again, caught on webcam this time

Brighton's West Pier, home to an old amusement park, has caught fire. Again. Andy Sleigh caught the action from his webcam. Link Discuss (Thanks, Andy!)

Mugabe's auto-violation of Godwin's Law

Robert Mugabe, president and asshole dictator of Zimbabwe, has given a chest-thumping speech in which he told the world that he wanted to be as bad as Hitler. He did not invoke Godwin's Law.
"I was the Hitler of that time. I am still a Hitler of their time. If Hitler fought for the justice of mankind, many nations would not have fought against him.

"Hitler in Zimbabwe has one objective -- sovereignty for his people, recognition of their independence and their rights to freedom. If they say I am Hitler, let me be Hitler ten-fold and that's what we stand for."

Link Discuss (via Die Puny Humans)

Judith Berman has a blog!

My friend, the brilliant sf writer Judith Berman, has started a blog with co-editors Christopher East, Jeremy Lyon and Brian Wanamaker called "Futurismic." It's a terrific collection of links to wonderful techno-weirdness. Link Discuss (via I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts)

Defying physics with left-handed material

The UC San Diego Left-Handed Materials homepage covers a class of manufactured materials that seemingly violate the laws of physics.
A Left-Handed material reverses a basic feature of light: that is, in a Left-handed medium, light propagates (or appears to move) in the opposite direction as energy flows! This leads to some very interesting consequences, such as the reversal of the Doppler shift for radiation, and the reversal of Cherenkov radiation. Russian physicist V. G. Veselago postulated these effects in a paper published in 1964 (translated in 1968). Cherenkov radiation is the light emitted when a charged particle passes through a medium, under certain conditions. In a normal material, the emitted light is in the forward direction, while in the Left-handed medium, light is emitted in the reverse direction.
Link Discuss (via I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts)

Can B.O. repel mosquitos?

Scots researchers are looking for a mechanism to keep stinging midges (cousins to the mosquito) at bay, and they're searching for people whose body-odor naturally repels the stinging insects. Some Scottish marshes are so midge-infested in the high season that researchers were able to capture 500,000 bloodsuckers in a 2m^2 region in one night.
Researchers based at Aberdeen University in northeast Scotland plan to use custom-built software to scan odors given off by "midge magnets" -- people who attract more midge bites than most. They will then compare those odors with the scents of people who naturally repel the insects, and use the findings to create the holy grail of the Scottish tourism industry: an effective bug spray.

The team of researchers, led by zoology professor Jenny Mordue, hopes their findings could also eventually have applications against more serious pests like malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Africa and Asia.

"I have been studying these insects for more than 12 years," said Mordue. "The main research ethic has been to find ways of controlling them without impacting on the environment. We can't spray large areas of the Highlands with insecticides. So we have to find other ways."

Link Discuss

Fed snoops want to wiretap the Internet

Under the hateful CALEA wiretap law, telco equipment has to be designed and configured to allow the Feds to snoop on communications. Now the same agencies that brought CALEA to America are advocating that Voice-over-IP equipment be likewise regulated to be amenable to eavesdropping, and they suggest that this is just a runup to a general regulation of broadband ISPs to allow for DSL and cablemodem sniffing.
Opponents of the CALEA expansion include AT&T and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. But the government's argument for the additional capabilities is the same one that persuaded Congress to pass CALEA in the first place eight years ago, and it only carries more weight today. "Although we cannot describe in this forum the particular circumstances, the FBI has sought interceptions of transmissions carried by broadband technology, including cable modem technology, in terrorism-related ... investigations involving potentially life-threatening situations," the Justice Department wrote [pdf] in one of its filings last year. "Unless carriers are required to ensure such access, law enforcement surveillance capabilities will suffer a serious and dangerous gap." If the FCC adopts the government's position, then broadband's last mile will be the FBI's listening post, and Free World Dialup will be off the hook.
Link Discuss

Can Bollywood beat Hollywood?

From LA Weekly, a long, amazing overview of the past and future of Bollywood, which has conquered the "half of the planet that Hollywood doesn't care about" and is trying to gain western legitimacy by adapting some of its conventions to Americo-palatable standards.
Even more damaging to perceptions of Hindi cinema than various technical shortcomings are knee-jerk responses to the idiom itself, to characteristics that will seem inherently outlandish to most Westerners no matter how adroitly they are executed. Take the one thing that almost everybody knows about Bollywood movies: that by rigid convention they all contain five or six (or more) elaborate song-and-dance sequences. The split between native and tourist is especially wide on this issue. Indians regard the film song (and the decades-old tradition of the pre-recorded "playback singer") as the crowning glory of their cinema. For many Westerners, though, the songs are the deal-breakers -- which is why they are often the first element a Bollywood go-getter thinks about removing when plotting a crossover to the "mainstream" (read "white") audience in America or Europe.

The problem is, in well-integrated examples of the Bollywood style, major issues of plot and character development are worked out as often in the song lyrics as in action or dialogue -- the music, in other words, can't be skipped without gutting the narrative. (This would be much more obvious to Western viewers if the theatrical and DVD distributors of Hindi films dropped the frustrating practice of subtitling everything but the song lyrics.) Bollywood movies are "melodramas," and not only in the sense of heightened conflict between characters who are embodiments of social forces, but in the root sense of "music dramas," operas (or operettas) in a glossy pop format, achieving a range of emotional effects that, at their best, can be scalp-crawlingly effective.

Link Discuss (via The Schism Matrix)

Time-zones are damned hard

With Daylight Savings looming in the UK (and showing up in Iraq two days later, and in the US three days after that), Yoz Grahame, a member of the Greenwich Mean Tribe, runs down some of the amazingly complex issues associated with keeping the world's clocks in synch.
It's at this point that the brainhammers move in, because if you're going to do a decent job of calculating DST, you need to know where you are, and I mean really know where you are. While all of Europe starts and ends DST at the same time, other countries vary wildly from each other, and some aren't even able to keep it consistent internally. Australia is a prime example: each state sets its own DST dates. Israel decides its DST start and end dates every year to ensure they don't clash with the High Holy Days. However, that doesn't include the Occupied Territories because the Palestinian Authority, clearly sick of all the mucking about, moved to solid dates at the first chance it had.
Link Discuss

Doug Rushkoff's new book: Nothing Sacred

BoingBoing pal Doug Rushkoff's new book Nothing Sacred is about to hit the stands, and he's launching a book tour throught the US next week -- details on that are at this link. Here's what the publisher says:
Acclaimed writer and thinker Douglas Rushkoff, author of Ecstasy Club and Coercion, has written perhaps the most important -- and bound to be controversial -- book on Judaism in a generation. As the religion stands on the brink of becoming irrelevant to the very people who look to it for answers, NOTHING SACRED takes aim at its problems and offers startling and clearheaded solutions based on Judaism's core-source-values and teachings.
The book is available for pre-order online, and Doug tells us "it should be on the shelves by the first week of April." Link, Discuss

A Librarian slams the PATRIOT Act

Jessamyn (of Jessamyn.com and Naked Librarians) writes about the effects of the Patriot Act on libraries: "The USAPA creates an entirely new class of prosecutable criminal: librarians who tell the truth."
Libraries who have been visited by the FBI can't mention that fact AFTER the visit, but many libraries and library systems are becoming pro-active and getting ready in case the feds do come to the door. To this end they have begun making staff and patrons aware of the Act and its implications. Some of them have begun tweaking their systems for greater patron privacy: tossing out Internet terminal sign-up lists at the end of the day; not requiring a card number or allowing pseudonymous Internet signups; removing patron borrowing records once a book has been returned; and in some cases, working within their communities to pass resolutions against the PATRIOT Act and pledging non-compliance in advance.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Zed!)

Hugo nominations close on Mar 31

Nominations for the Hugo Awards close in four days. If you attended the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose last year or intend to attend the WorldCon in Toronto this September, you're eligible to nominate. Discuss

State-level DMCA would outlaw firewalls, secure mail

Two new state-level bills in MA and TX propose to extend the DMCA even further (nearly identical bills are pending in SC, FL, GE, AK, TN and CO). Ed Felten describes the world these bills would create:
Here is one example of the far-reaching harmful effects of these bills. Both bills would flatly ban the possession, sale, or use of technologies that "conceal from a communication service provider ... the existence or place of origin or destination of any communication". Your ISP is a communcation service provider, so anything that concealed the origin or destination of any communication from your ISP would be illegal -- with no exceptions.

If you encrypt your email, you're in violation, because the "To" line of the email is concealed from your ISP by encryption. If you use a secure connection to pick up your email, you're in violation, because the "From" lines of the incoming emails are concealed from your ISP by the encrypted connection.

Worse yet, Network Address Translation (NAT), a technology widely used for enterprise security, operates by translating the "from" and "to" fields of Internet packets, thereby concealing the source or destination of each packet, and hence violating these bills. Most security "firewalls" use NAT, so if you use a firewall, you're in violation.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Fred!)

Jon Stewart on Halliburton's Iraq contract

Jon Stewart -- who appears to be doing the best reportage on the air these days -- reports that the multimillion dollar contract to douse the Iraqi oilfires has awarded with no bid to Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former company. Stewart's comment: "I feel like the government just took a shit on my chest." Here's a video capture of the segment. Link Discuss (Thanks Lisa!)

Commie kitsch posters

Gallery of Socialist Realist posters from Cuba, China and the Soviet Union. Link Discuss (Thanks, George!)

Giger museum panaroamae

Amazing QTVR panaoramae from the HR Giger museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland. Link Discuss (Thanks, Noel!)

Statistical atrotcities to convict war-criminals

Great interview with Patrick Ball, the deputy director of the Science and Human Rights Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who uses statistical modelling of war atrocities to build human-rights cases.
Every human rights story goes like this: I am a deponent, and I'm here to tell you about things that happened to one or many victims. I myself may or may not be one of those victims. Each of those victims may have suffered one or more violations, and those violations may or may not be what historians call colligated at one or more points in time or space. Each of the violations may have been perpetrated by zero, one, or many identifiable perpetrators, and those perpetrators may be individuals with names and ranks, or they may be institutions. Each of those may be associated with one or more of the violations in this story. That's the complexity of one story. Now we're going to collect 10,000 stories, and there is a dense, complex overlapping of all the stories. Then we aggregate the stories from, say, four different organisations, and each of those organisations' sets of judgements has a dense and complex overlap with the other organisations' information. The result is a multidimensional, multilayered Venn diagram built up from this information, which I refer to as "reporting density".
Link Discuss (via Ambiguous)

Ben and Mena: A blogging anthem

StevenF, a blogger, has posted an hilarous song about blogging, called "Ben and Mena." Click through for lyrics and kicky MP3.
That perfect link I hope to find
Check MetaFilter for the 40th time
I left a comment, I hope you see
How this issue pertains to me

Semantic web, RSS, and e-mail
Single white guy seeks athletic female
I'm busy building the digital commons
Cook me up another bowl of ramen

Link Discuss (via Ben Hammersley)

New guest blogger on BoingBoing: Jim Griffin, part deux!

Witness the passing of the guest-blogger torch again-- from our special guest Kevin Sites, whose live-from-Iraq photo and audioblogging made headlines around the world -- back to the esteemed Jim Griffin, whose earlier stint was pre-empted by world events. Thank you, Kevin, for an amazing blog-journey... and welcome back, Jim.

Aside from having co-founded the Pho digital music listserv (photo from a Sunday pho gathering at left, Jim's on the right-hand side), Jim is an author, columnist, and wireless industry consultant. During his five-year stint as head of technology for Geffen Records, he led a team that in June of 1994 distributed the first full-length commercial song on-line, by Aerosmith. Geffen was the first entertainment company to install a web server, and Geffen World was one of the first corporate intranet sites.

Jim recently returned from a month in Finland (at times working inside the arctic circle), consulting for wireless industry clients. What he has planned next, I do not know. But if Jim's driving, we're in for an adventure.

Link to Jim's personal website, Link to more pics from the Sunday pho list get-togethers in LA, Discuss

Video stream from my talk at UC Berkeley

Here's a link to the video-stream from my talk at UC Berkeley's School of Journalism on wireless -- we're starting in a couple minutes. Link Discuss

Top Ten Digital Photography Tips

I've been taking pictures every day since I got my Sony Cybershot U digital camera. This page of digital photography tips has some good information for a photographic know-nothing like me. Link Discuss