Boing Boing 

They that can give up general purpose computers for the sake of a little eye candy

Today, I wore my new NTK shirt to work and to the Google Xmas Party, and boy, did I ever get a lot of compliments. It reads: "They that can give up general purpose computers for the sake of a little eye candy deserve neither computers nor eye candy," a reference to Franklin's famous "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." Link

12 Days of Xmas cost index

PNC publishes an annual price index of the good enumerated in the 12 Days of Christmas, discussing the costing trends of celebrating a carol-traditional Yule.
Two exceptions to this trend, however, are the swans and the calling birds, which cost significantly more this year. Unlike 2002, when swans took a significant dive in price, these graceful feathered friends have bounced back to their 2001 level of $500 a piece, up from $300 last year, according to the Philadelphia Zoo. The four calling birds are also flying high at $400, more than a 26 percent increase from last year. "The bird prices tend to be stable, except when supply and demand get out of sync, causing the prices to move dramatically," said Rebekah McCahan, investment strategist who provides the research for the Christmas Price Index. "The low inventory of calling birds and swans this year, combined with a resurgence in demand, has boosted prices -- a sign of consumer confidence returning," she added. All told, the swans, geese, calling birds, French hens, turtle doves, and partridges cost over $4,100, representing about 25 percent of the overall Index.
Link (via /.)

Anti-road-piss campaign from Washington State

Washington State highway cops are sick of picking up the bottles of piss and poopie that truckers (and other long-haul drivers) toss out their windows, so they've started a campaign to warn and fine scat-flingers and piss-pitchers. Link (Thanks, Psylux!)

Cousin-identification chart for cousin-marriage advocacy

CUDDLE (Cousins United to Defeat Discriminating Laws through Education) is an NGO that advocates for the rights of cousins to marry one-another. Here's a handy chart they've produced to show just how related you are to that cute girl (who looks a little like your mom) in the next pew at the Bar-Mitzvah. Link (via AccordionGuy)

Found alphabet made from human brains

The Brain Alphabet is a set of 26 Roman letters visible in the bumps and valleys of photos of real human brains. Link (Thanks, Armand!)

You need a license to say "I have a dream"

Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is still in copyright (as is almost everything else familiar in our lives), and Dr King's heirs strictly enforce the copyright. Wendy Seltzer points out what this means for free expression and political commentary.
You can always quote a few lines without asking permission, but that's likely to be the same few lines that have become cliched with repetition. Quote the whole speech to make a more substantial point, and you face thousand-dollar license fee claims from the estate. Quote them to make a point critical of King, and you may be denied a license entirely.
Link

Elf Sex, per Tolkien

Nice scholarly paper on Tolkein's writings describing elf-sex:
There was at least one elvish word related to a sexual act in Quenya or Sindarin: nosta / onna, beget. The source for this is Treebeard's farewell to Galadriel and Celeborn in "Many Partings," ROTK. This farewell includes the Quenya phrase "O vanimar, vanimalion nostari", translated in The End of the Third Age, in the chapter discussing Many Partings, footnote 16, as "fair ones begetters of fair ones." There is a related early Quenya noun, ontâro, meaning begetter/masculine parent. The early Quenya word wegê, meaning manhood or vigor, may be open to a variety of interpretations. There was also a Quenya word meaning virgin, rod, as in Rodwen, "High Virgin Noble (female)." (Maeglin, The War of the Jewels, HME)
Link (via MeFi)

Nagano big-brotherware is insufficiently secured

Nagano's new citizen-tracking system is not only invasive of privacy, it's also incompetently secured and exposes citizen data to potential corruption by malefactors.
Tests by the prefecture to infiltrate the system found that access to private information on residents was accessible with local area network (LAN) connections, both from within and outside local body offices.

"(The network) is in a dangerous situation in which personal information can be stolen," specialists hired by the prefecture wrote in an evaluation of the access tests...

Part of the tests also reportedly showed that it was possible to falsify personal data in the network and send it to servers nationwide.

Link

Virtuoso Super Mario Brothers 3 game

This is a streaming screen-movie of an utterly virtuoso game of Super Mario Brothers 3, played from start to finish in under 11 minutes. Update: various among you point out that the video, while impressive, appears to be faked. Streaming Windows Media Link (Thanks, fRiT0!)

Wrist-mounted catapault watch

The Catapault Watch fires BBs and similar projectiles from your wrist. Link (Thanks, Samari Chop!)

Nerd porn: "Lord of the G-Strings"

Fleshbot is on a LOTR-themed rampage lately. See a slew of related posts over the last few days. Of particular note, this video:
We'll let the box cover copy speak for itself: "In the mythical realm of Diddle Earth, diminutive yet delectable Throbbit Dildo Saggins is sent by Smirnoff the Wizard to destroy the legendary G-String - most powerful weapon in the land."
Link

Cool bodypaint photo gallery

Link (thanks Invisible Cowgirl, via cupofchica)

Softcore Chinese flower girl photos -- on Xinhua

Bruce Sterling muses aloud, "Holy macaroni. Why is the official news agency of the People's Republic of China posting a whole bunch of nude body-painting? Have they lost all their little gray Mao suits over at Xinhua? What gives? A couple of these pics are Veruschka Lehndorff art-shots from the mid-1980s. Some official Chinese web-guy has been collecting these things. What could this be about?" Link

Hungary takes aim at phonecam snapshots

The data protection ombudsman of Hungary ruled last week that phonecam users who transmit pictures of people who are unaware of being photographed may be prosecuted for privacy violation -- as could their mobile service providers.
Ombudsman Attila Peterfalvi said he started an investigation after one of Hungary's three mobile providers ran an advertisement saying: "If you see a good-looking girl or guy on the street, don't hesitate to share the aesthetic experience with your friends via MMS." Mobile phones, kitted out with small cameras used in multimedia messaging (MMS), are selling fast in Hungary, where mobile penetration is a high 75.2 percent.
Link (via diepunyhumans)

Web Zen: Holiday gift guide zen

design object | print club | acme bags | pixel blocks | hand pressed prints | bleibtreu bags | pimp cups | shag | technokitty bags | catapult watch | tiki art | threadless | jelly bath | zakka | kid robot | happy tree friends | chaoskitty | ultimate wish list

web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

NASA off-world Wi-Fi simulation success

NASA researchers have conducted a successful test of Wi-Fi networking in a remote location to simulate terrain on another planet. BoingBoing pal Mike O points us to part of this article which states "Wi-Fi technology currently rates in the 1-to-3 range on NASA's 10-point technology readiness scale," and asks, "Does anyone know more about this scale? Is it an official thing or just a soundbite for the article?"
During a September field test at Meteor Crater, Ariz., NASA used Wi-Fi cells from Tropos Networks to measure a reliable 1 megabit/sec of solid data throughput at a range of 1.3 miles. A three-node network of Tropos 5110 Wi-Fi cells was set up over a two-square mile hot zone at Meteor Crater. Engineers used a laptop computer inside a moving vehicle, with no external antenna, and successfully transmitted data from a remote location through two nodes back to the base camp computer. Though NASA has no current plans to send Wi-Fi technology into space, researchers are examining Wi-Fi as a possible future communications support to interplanetary expeditions, including flights to Mars.
Link
Update: Joe Crawford points us to background on the NASA scale here.

Evangeline: "Interview with a Child cyber-Prostitute in TSO"

Noted without comment. The anonymity-requesting BoingBoing buddy who forwards this, then ducks and scampers away in a hurry, asks "What subculture is this? Jeez louise!" Snip:
In the following interview, notorious sim Evangeline goes back to her early days in Alphaville, and claims to have worked as a cyber-prostitute and then to have been a madam for various cyber-brothels under the guise of her sims Roxy, Tori, Fanki and then Dorian Merrill, claiming that at times she made the equivalent of $50 US per trick from her customers. She claims to still being a minor and hints that some of her customers have been Maxis employees. She discusses the conflagration with Mia Wallace, and claims to have guessed Mia's password and trashed her property and account. Finally she discusses her current policy of newbie-humiliation on her Free Money for Newbies property, currently number 1 in Alphaville's welcome category. In particular, she discusses her new game of locking newbies "in the freezer" and "caging" dark skinned avatars and calling them "monkeys" and also calling them "ugly" because one can't see their eyes.
Link

QTVR: Jehova's witness tub-baptism

QTVR enthusiast and photographer Peter Murphy says: "Sydney is full of thousands of Jehovah Witnesses at the moment, here for a big Convention. My panorama shows their mass baptism ceremony today at the Olympic Stadium here -- Jehovah Witnesses are into full immersion baptism." Link

Italian/English poem-collage-photo-blog

Delightful photoblog: snapshots of poems strung together in haphazard kidnapper script; Italian and English. Beautiful visual style; odd, quirky mood. Link (Grazie, Jean-Luc). Update:Gamethyme points out the similarity between this blog and A Softer World, "simultaneously haunting and hilarious."

Dalek Xmas

A little holiday spirit: Daleks eating Christmas dinner. Link (Thanks, David!)

MSNBC video only for Windows

MSNBC is no longer supporting MacOS or Linux with its free video. They sent Chris an email that said, "MSNBC Video now requires Windows 98SEor higher operating system, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5or higher, Windows Media Player 9 or later, Macromedia Flash Player 7or higher, and Microsoft .NET Passport. The MSNBC Video content is currently unable to support Macintosh or other operating systems." (Thanks, Chris!)

Once More, With Hobbits: Musical Buffy meets LotR

Chris sez, "In honor of Return of the King we've created Once More, With Hobbits. This combines the Buffy: the Vampire Slayer musical episode with Lord of the Rings.
ORC: I've been having a bad bad day
Come on Gimli put that axe away
I'm asking you please no!
You've my sincere apologies
You've got the killing expertise
You'll cut through my collar like cheese
I'm begging let me go!
You have got me on my knees
You could slaughter me with ease
I really hate those fucking trees

GIMLI:
Forty-two, Master Legolas!

Link (Thanks, Chris)

EA's geeky recruiting campaign

Games publisher Electronic Arts Canada is running these amazingly geeky billboards that translate as "Now Hiring." Link (Thanks, Pete!)

UMaine launches free culture/code/knowledge service

The University of Maine has launched "Still Water," a copyright-free zone for posting and sharing images, music, videos, programming code and texts.
"We are training revolutionaries -- not by indoctrinating them with dogma but by exposing them to a process in which sharing culture rather than hoarding it is the norm," said Joline Blais, a professor of new media at the University of Maine and Still Water co-director.
Link

Heil Honey, I'm Home: Britcom about Hitler

In 1990, Britons were delivered a short-lived sitcom called Heil Honey, I'm Home, about Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun's home-life next door to a Jewish couple in the 1930s.
This most infamous of all British sitcoms attracted controversy out of all proportion to the number of people who saw it. Naturally, the hullabaloo was built on the shocking notion that anyone would mount a comedy about Hitler and the Jews - seemingly the definition of poor taste. In reality, the show was no more than a spoof - and not of 1930s Germany but of the kind of 1960s/1970s American sitcoms that would embrace any idea, no matter how stupid. The title, the corny dialogue, the applause when anyone arrived on set, the acting (McCaul's Hitler was more reminiscent of Chaplin's The Great Dictator than your actual Fuhrer) - all were clear signposts of parody. Mel Brooks had already explored the concept of pantomime Nazis in his masterpiece movie (and eventual stage musical) The Producers.
Link

One of the readers

One of the readers on Farber's Interesting People list traced a spam to a relay on a US Naval vessel, the USS San Antonio or swn-email.lpd17.navy.mil. Link

Immersive Quake superimposed over meatspace

Augmented Reality Quake is an Australian academic project to integrate the open-source Quake code with VR goggles and plastic guns. Basically, you put on a headset and the game superimposes enemy characters, geographic elements, and power-ups over your field of vision, so that as you run around the parking lot or football field, you play a Quake that only you can see. Check out the movies from the project. Link (Thanks, Rooter!)

Network effects and the Sampling License

Hot on the heels of Creative Commons' announcement of the Sampling License (which allows you to license your work for reuse, on the condition that only samples, and not the whole work, are used), comes this lucid legal/economic analysis from my co-worker Jason Schultz of what the real benefit of a Sampling License will be: the network effect.
Sampling, by all accounts, should also work on these principles. Yet, under the current sampling system, just because one person clears rights to a song for sampling doesn't mean anyone else can. Each negotiation is generally separate, thereby requiring transaction costs for time and attorneys, etc, each time someone wants to use the track.

Under the CC licensing system, however, the more songs you have in the library, the more valuable the library becomes. This is because you know that you can use all the songs you like in any way you like as often as you like. Eventually, with enough songs, musicians will come to value the CC sampling library more because as a whole it represents more value than any particular individual song might represent under the traditional copyright licensing scheme.

Link

Hong Kong maids are expected to be sysadmins

Maids in Hong Kong can draw a higher salary if they're computer-literate enough to defrag hard-drives, reinstall OSes, and do other sysadminly chores. Well, so much for geeks as the lords of creation. It was nice while it lasted.
The demand for maids who are able to clean up the fridge and the hard drive has been driven by the surge in computer use and the numbers of children now doing their homework on computer...

But some have rebelled against the shift to computer-literate cleaners. "There's too much pressure," said Sally Yip, 47, from the Philippines, who has been in Hong Kong for 15 years and has earned a reputation for her cleaning allied with her computer skills. "I was coming home with a headache and arguing with my husband. I was offered a job with an international law firm but I turned it down. It wasn't about how much they could offer," she said, "I enjoy the babies and doing the ironing."

Link

Free Willy seekritly buried in Norway

Keiko, the killer whale who performed under the screen name "Free Willy," died last week. Free Willy's pals shipped the six-ton whale in seekrit from Oregon to Iceland and then they buried it. They buried a whale. Not at sea. In the ground. A whale. Link (via Ambiguous)