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Hoax --> Operation Take one for the Country

Following up on this earlier BoingBoing post, BoingBoing reader buddha says:
Single Southern Guy calls out the Operation Take One For The Country crew, claiming the whole thing is a hoax. Why? The radio station, DJs, and broadcast company involved in the interview transcribed on the OTOFTC site don't exist.

Moblog image import app

BoingBoing reader Joshua says:
A few weeks ago, I read the post you guys made about MoblogUK, a creative commons licensed alternative to TextAmerica. I'd been searching for an alternative for awhile, so I was pretty excited to find it. After switching I wanted a way to get my images from TextAmerica over to the new site at MoblogUK, so I wrote this app to make the process easy. Besides parsing a TextAmerica moblog and sending the entries off to MoblogUK it can also save your TextAmerica entries locally in an XML/XSL case you ever want to do that for some reason!

Life is tough for game developers, says study

It looks like it's all work and no play for game developers. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has a white paper titled "Quality of Life in the Game Industry: Challenges and Best Practices." Some of the findings:
Crunch time is omnipresent, during which respondents work 65 to 80 hours a week.

The average crunch work week exceeds 80 hours 13% of the time.

Overtime is often uncompensated.

Spouses are likely to respond that "You work too much..." (61.5%); "You are always stressed out." (43.5%); "You don't make enough money." (35.6%)


Free WiFi in the National Mall

Open Park is a community wireless group that is bringing free, open WiFi to the National Mall in DC, so that the next time you find yourself on the steps of the Supreme Court -- or wandering a Smithsonian building -- you can get online. Link (Thanks, Fred!)

Bad film physics to teach good real physics

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics is a very good physics primer in the guise of a very funny critique of the ways that Hollywood bends the laws of physics when it makes movies.
Saying that shards of broken glass are razor sharp is an understatement. A shattered window contains thousands of incredibly sharp edges and dagger-like points. It takes almost no force for one of these points or edges to cause a laceration. However, people in movies routinely jump through plate glass windows without receiving a single scratch.

Broken glass has at least two mechanisms for slashing a person diving through a window: its weight and its inertia. First, large heavy shards of glass can fall like guillotines, slicing off body parts. Second, when a person jumps or, even worse, drives a motorcycle through a window, the shards of glass tend to stay in place due to their inertia. The only way to move them is to apply a force. If the person's body provides this force by pushing on the edge of a piece of glass, it can slice right through clothing, skin, and flesh. In the real world, jumping or driving through a plate glass window would be suicidal.

There are individuals who have accidentally fallen through windows without sustaining serious injuries. There are also people who have survived the Ebola virus. However, in both cases the odds are not particularly good.

Link (Thanks, Peter!)

Baen ebooks CDs as .torrents

Baen Books is a successful science fiction publisher that releases a lot of its titles as non-DRM text/html files via its website and on CDROMs bound into its book. Now, all six of the Baen CDs, representing a substantial library of science fiction, are available as Bit Torrent files, to be gang-downloaded to all comers at speed. Link (Thanks, Robotech Master!)

Photoshopped dream houses

Lots of tasty entries into this Worth1000 photoshopping contest to design a fantastical dream house. Link

Grip-tape for your mouse

Mousegrips are peel-and-stick rubberized decals that you can attach to your mouse to absorb hand-goo, sweat and burger king. When Apple switched from the old, integrated-handle "toilet seat" iBooks to the white, smooth, seamless EZ-fumble models, I went out and bought a bunch of crazy skateboard liners and cut-and-pasted them onto the chassis to give my clumsiness a fighting chance against the iBooks' inherent fragility. Link (via Gizmodo)

New Flickr features

Flickr, the image-sharing social software app, has rolled out a bunch of new features, including this one, which does very intuitive group-based access-control to files:
Photostreams are a new way to share your photos on Flickr, on simple webpages where you control who sees what. All the photos you upload automatically go into your Photostream, but different viewers see different images, depending on their relationship to you.

How does it work?

* As always, you can make photos public or private. You can also restrict the viewing to people who you have tagged with a specific relationship ("only show this to friends or better").
* Public photos appear to everyone viewing your Photostream, but you can exclude any public photo if you'd like.
* You can also see the collected streams of your friends' photos at, and the latest public photos on Flickr at


Wi-Fi positioning system

Here's an article I wrote for TheFeature about Quarterscope's interesting Wi-Fi technology that could enhance or replace GPS in some instances. Link

Copyright, Technology, and The New Surveillance

Sonia Katyal of Fordham Law School has written a thought-provoking paper on the relationship between copyright enforcement and privacy in the digital age. Some very interesting observations here on the increasingly invasive methods used by rightsholders to control how intellectual property is accessed and shared. Excerpt:
A few years ago, it was fanciful to imagine a world where intellectual property owners - such as record companies, software owners, and publishers - were capable of invading the most sacred areas of the home in order to track, deter, and control uses of their products. Yet, today, strategies of copyright enforcement have rapidly multiplied, each strategy more invasive than the last. This new surveillance exposes the paradoxical nature of the Internet: It offers both the consumer and creator a seemingly endless capacity for human expression - a virtual marketplace of ideas - alongside an insurmountable array of capacities for panoptic surveillance. As a result, the Internet both enables and silences speech, often simultaneously.

This paradox, in turn, leads to the tension between privacy and intellectual property. Both areas of law face significant challenges because of technology's ever-expanding pace of development. Yet courts often exacerbate these challenges by sacrificing one area of law for the other, by eroding principles of informational privacy for the sake of unlimited control over intellectual property. Laws developed to address the problem of online piracy - in particular, the DMCA - have been unwittingly misplaced, inviting intellectual property owners to create private systems of copyright monitoring that I refer to as piracy surveillance. Piracy surveillance comprises extrajudicial methods of copyright enforcement that detect, deter, and control acts of consumer infringement.

Ms. Katyal's paper was selected as the winning entry for the 2004 Yale Law School Cybercrime and Digital Law Enforcement Conference writing competition. Link

Nekkid Klingon babes

Fleshbot says:
Let it be noted that this is the first, last, and only piece of "Star Trek"-inspired porn we will ever feature here on Fleshbot; we're not big science fiction fans, but these sexy morph chicks were just too hot to pass up.

Naked Klingon Women (Geocities site - thanks Jay). See also: (AVS protected archive of


WiFi + planes = warflying

BoingBoing pal, wireless ubergeek, and SoCalWug co-founder Mike Outmesguine says:
I went warflying yesterday with folks from,,, and CNN. We took off on parallel runways and flew in formation throughout the flight. While the planes were next to each other, we set up an in-flight wireless network and did a videoconferencing session from plane-to-plane. WiFi in the sky! Additionally, we performed a wireless network survey during the flight and found about 4000 access points.

Making life

The current issue of Scientific American features a mind-blowing article by W. Wayt Gibbs about "synthetic biology," the effort to create designer organisms from the bottom up:
"This nascent field has three major goals: One, learn about life by building it, rather than by tearing it apart. Two, make genetic engineering worthy of its name--a discipline that continuously improves by standardizing its previous creations and recombining them to make new and more sophisticated systems. And three, stretch the boundaries of life and of machines until the two overlap to yield truly programmable organisms. Already TNT-detecting and artemisinin-producing microbes seem within reach. The current prototypes are relatively primitive, but the vision is undeniably grand: think of it as Life, version 2.0."

Self-propelled swarming robot traffic cones: nuff sed.

Self-propelled swarming robot traffic cones: nuff sed.
The new road markers have been developed by Shane Farritor, a roboticist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in a bid to help reduce the $100 billion per year that the Department of Transportation estimates is lost to the US economy through accidents and delays caused by highway lane closures.

The self-propelled markers take the form of robotic three-wheeled bases for the brightly coloured barrels that are set out to demarcate road repair zones. Farritor says they can open and close traffic lanes faster and more safely than humans.


$10,000 1965 "kitchen computer"

Mitch sez, "Another Jetsonian Relic: A $10K kitchen computer ca. 1965. Notice the orange-and-black Star Trek: TOS design." Link (Thanks, Mitch!)

Killer noise-cancelling headset designed for NYSE trading-floor

The Boom is a noise-reducing headset designed for use on the NYSE trading floor that is said to be capable of delivering comprehensible speech even in the noisiest of environments. I'm ditching my landline this month in favour of a VoIP soft-phone on my PowerBook, so it's serendipity that I came across this headset today. Link (via Cool Tools)

Bootable CD turns 486s into meshing WiFi routers

Glenn Fleishmann has written a blog entry about an amazing new WiFi project at Champaign-Urbana, to create a bootable disk image that turns its host machines into meshing wireless repeaters.
The CUWiN project wants to allow self-forming, noncentralized, mesh-based Wi-Fi networks using standard, old PCs with no configuration. Slightly more advanced units could be ruggedized boxes using Compact Flash, but the basic unit would be a 486 or later PC with a bootable CD-ROM or bootable floppy that bootstraps a CD-ROM. Once booted, a unit finds other similar units without any other configuration or control and forms a mesh.

"We've been developing software now since about 2000, and our idea is to build software that is super user friendly, super easy for someone who doesn't understand the nuances of the technology or community wireless networking to set up their own system," said Meinrath. It's an attempt to enable community networking to spread beyond the folks who are self-starters.

Link (Thanks, Glenn!)

AdBusters new sneaker to compete toe-to-toe with Nikes

AdBusters has created their own brand of Converse-like sneakers, made by unionized workers. The launch of "Black Spot" sneakers is accompanied by a "subvertising" campaign aimed at humiliating Phil Knight and the Nike corporation. Link (Thanks, Seamus!)

Knudsen's Dairy cookbook dissected

James Lileks is in rare form today as he dissects the recipes to be had in a vintage Knudsen's Dairy cookbook.
Chicken Curry Salad. The recipe says “toss lightly,” but I suppose that depends on how much you eat and how bad the cramps get. The item in the middle is the Holiday Salad, although which holiday is best celebrated with tumor-studded Bruise Cake I’m not entirely certain. The item on the bottom is – well, steel yourself.

Corned Beef Salad Loaf.

I kid you not.

Meat Jell-O.

Link (Thanks, Stefan!)

James Patrick Kelly's wonderful sf stories online as free audiobooks

James Patrick Kelly, my friend and mentor, is one of the finest short story writers working in science fiction today. His stories are like perfect little gems, and his advice on story-writing was the most important artistic advice I've ever received.

Which is a preamble to some of the best news I've ever imparted: Jim Kelly is releasing audiobooks of his stories on teh net under a Creative Commons license. I know what I'm gonna be listening to before bed and on the tube this month. Link

Not your father's CIA

"When people think of the CIA, they think of people lurking around in trenchcoats, sending messages in code, and using cool tools to do their job. Well, to some extent that's true, but it's not the whole story." For the rest, visit the Central Intelligence Agency Homepage for Kids! Link (Thanks, Dr. Maz!)

Attack of the giant snails

snailFederal health officials are hunting down these Giant African Land Snails that can transmit meningitis, destroy plants, are extremely fruitful and multiplicitous, according to an AP report:
"In 1966, a Miami boy smuggled three Giant African Land Snails into the country. His grandmother eventually released them into a garden, and in seven years there were more than 18,000 of them. The eradication program took 10 years, according to the USDA."
Recently, a parent donated several of the beasties to a Wisconsin school. The US Department of Agriculture was called in after teachers learned that their latest classroom pets were illegal aliens. Link

Chinese gamer suing MMO company over artifact duplication dispute

A Chinese gamer who bought a sword that was deleted by the game-host because it had been duplicated by the seller is suing the game-host to reinstate his sword and apologise. As Terra Nova's Dan Hunter says, "Virtual property, duping, and fraud. Heaven."
After many hours of playing the game, he earned 140 million units of game money, which he spent buying a powerful sword from another player through an online trading platform provided by the operator in November.

On November 16, he found the sword had been deleted from his account. After contacting Optisp several times, he was told that the sword was deleted because it was illegally duplicated.

He is asking the court to order Optisp to give back his sword, which he estimates is worth 1,000 yuan (US$120) in real money, and apologize.

Link (via Terra Nova)

Social history of "operation take one for the country"

Following up on this post about an online movement of women who offer free casual sex to Iraq-bound soldiers, BoingBoing reader James Stanek says:
America has a long standing tradition of this sort of behavior, going at least as far back as WWII. Although the term "Charity Girl" is/was generally used in reference to women who had sex for gifts and/or fun, its also used in a more specific way. I found this via in "No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease' by Allan M. Brandt (p. 81):

Physicians and social workers frequently commented that the professional prostitute had given way to the so-called "patriotic prostitute" and "charity girl." As one CTCA social worker wrote: 'The peculiar charm and glamour which surrounds the man in uniform causes an unusual type of prostitute to spring up in time of war. Girls idealize the soldier and many really feel that nothing is wrong when done for him. One such girl said she had never sold herself to a civilian but felt she was doing her bit when she had been with eight soldiers in a night.' The "girl problem," as it became popularly known, seemed even more ominous to reformers than commercialized vice because it so often included youngsters from respectable, middle-class backgrounds. "Girls apparently of good families drive up in their cars and invite the soldiers who happen to be along the roadside near the camp to come to supper to a roadhouse or the nearest city," explained Dr. Jennie H. Harris. "The results are the usual ones."

I'm not a particular expert or even particularly interested in this field, its just that I remember reading about this in college and it always stuck with me as one of those "Aha" moments where you realize references to the "good old days" should be treated with large skepticism. My college read was "Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America" by John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman (p. 260-261):

The response of moral reformers points to the changes that had occurred since the previous generation. Whereas those of the First World War focused on the dangers of prostitution, by the 1940s it was the behavior of "amateur girls"--popularly known as khaki-wackies, victory girls, and good-time Charlottes--that concerned moralists.

Update: Boingboing reader Abe says, " is down, boingboinged perhaps. But it appears to be mirrored at and"

Social Network Spam = SNAM

Snagged from Michael Tchong's "Trendsetters" newsletter:
Social networks have spawned a new form of spam that uses the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) message feature frequently found in this new genre of networks. Google's Orkut, a network of some 200,000 members, offers the ability to send messages to FOAFs. FOAF messages often contain conference promotions or job postings that, while low in volume, will one day require action on the part of network managers.


Going to the Coachella music festival in the Southern California desert this weekend? I hate you, because you are going to see Radiohead, and I, who lack tickets, am not. Anyway -- bring sunscreen. Bring water. Bring your phonecam. Mark Brown of buzznet says:
Buzznet will be hosting a Coachella Festival moblog that anyone can contribute to from the Polo Fields during this weekend's music & art festival. As always, it is easy to contribute just email photos and blog text to ''. As long as everyone's cellphones work out there, this will be a very successful event. Last year AT&T worked fine for me. But i've heard that the networks get *very* busy late in the day. If only they had wi-fi too...

Basecamp: project-management web-app from 37Signals

37Signals, a fantastic web-dev company, has produced a new project-management app called Basecamp that looks like a winner. Not only is it extremely pretty and easy-to-follow -- I'd expect no less from the usability wonks at 37Signals -- but it's also open: information flows out of the app as RSS and can be bulk-exported in XML, so none of your precious project-management material becomes a lever to lock you into paying the (surprisingly reasonable) monthly rates.

Also nice: the option for iChatAV-based support, and 30 day free trials.

Finally, there's a fit and finish here that makes it feel like something much more stable than a just-launched product, for example, Basecamp can be skinned to look like your internal website and you can reference it with custom URLs that don't contain any hint that your project is being hosted anywhere but your own site: as the marketing bumpf points out, this is the kind of thing that can give you appearance of really intimidating savviness to your clients. Link (Thanks, Jason!)

Brit Airways' honorifics kick United's ass

Thomas sez, "Thought United Airlines covered every possible title? Not a chance. British Airways covers absolutely everything including -- I kid you not -- 'His Holiness' and 'Her Majesty'. Because I'm sure the Pope needs air miles."
Mr Mrs Ms Miss Dr Herr Monsieur Hr Frau A V M Admiraal Admiral Air Cdre Air Commodore Air Marshal Air Vice Marshal Alderman Alhaji Ambassador Baron Barones Brig Brig Gen Brig General Brigadier Brigadier General Brother Canon Capt Captain Cardinal Cdr Chief Cik Cmdr Col Col Dr Colonel Commandant Commander Commissioner Commodore Comte Comtessa Congressman Conseiller Consul Conte Contessa Corporal Councillor Count Countess Crown Prince Crown Princess Dame Datin Dato Datuk Datuk Seri Deacon Deaconess Dean Dhr Dipl Ing Doctor Dott Dott sa Dr Dr Ing Dra Drs Embajador Embajadora En Encik Eng Eur Ing Exma Sra Exmo Sr F O Father First Lieutient First Officer Flt Lieut Flying Officer Fr Frau Fraulein Fru Gen Generaal General Governor Graaf Gravin Group Captain Grp Capt H E Dr H H H M H R H Hajah Haji Hajim Her Highness Her Majesty Herr High Chief His Highness His Holiness His Majesty Hon Hr Hra Ing Ir Jonkheer Judge Justice Khun Ying Kolonel Lady Lcda Lic Lieut Lieut Cdr Lieut Col Lieut Gen Lord M M L M R Madame Mademoiselle Maj Gen Major Master Mevrouw Miss Mlle Mme Monsieur Monsignor Mr Mrs Ms Mstr Nti Pastor President Prince Princess Princesse Prinses Prof Prof Dr Prof Sir Professor Puan Puan Sri Rabbi Rear Admiral Rev Rev Canon Rev Dr Rev Mother Reverend Rva Senator Sergeant Sheikh Sheikha Sig Sig na Sig ra Sir Sister Sqn Ldr Sr Sr D Sra Srta Sultan Tan Sri Tan Sri Dato Tengku Teuku Than Puying The Hon Dr The Hon Justice The Hon Miss The Hon Mr The Hon Mrs The Hon Ms The Hon Sir The Very Rev Toh Puan Tun Vice Admiral Viscount Viscountess Wg Cdr
Link (Thanks, Thomas!) Update: Johannes points out a glaring omission here: in German, someone with multiple PhDs goes by Doktor Doktor Doktor (und zo weiter), abbreviated DDDDr -- how does BA expect to attract hyper-educated Germanic people without this honorific in its otherwise exhaustive list?

Voyeuristic vintage snapshots of Disneyland

Disneyland is one of the most-photographed piecces of real-estate in the world. Since 1955, visitors to the park have been exhaustively documenting it with photos and slides. Now, the Disnephiles of The Imaginary World have assembled a "virtual tour" made up of scans of slides shot at Disneyland in the 1950s and 1960s. This combines the thrill of fanboy history with the voyeurism of going through family photo albums found at thrift shops, and just about made my day. Link (Thanks, Hork!)