Boing Boing 

Time-management for anarchists from a productive anarcho-geek

My pal Jim Munroe is the most productive anarchist I know: he writes (great) sf novels, organizes a punk-rock multi-city Vaudeville circuit, makes entertaining text adventures, shoots videos and so forth. He's produced a slide show that exposes the secrets of his success, called "Time Management for Anarchists."

Time Management for Anarchists (starring Emma Goldman and Mikhail Bakunin, no less) is a great Getting-Things-Done-style tutorial on how to throw off the yoke of your day job and still remain productive without a labor-alienating boss cracking the whip over you. Jim built it in Flash to accompany a talk he gives, so it runs a little slow without his patter overtop of it. But it's CC-licensed so you can give it a hurry-up if you are so moved. Link (Thanks, Gavin!)

How to: 5-foot-tall painting of a light bulb

 Static Images Articles Bulbpainting My new favorite blog is Steve Lodefink's Finkbuilt. Steve makes some of the neatest stuff I've seen. Like this 5-foot-tall painting of a light bulb. He explains how he does it, making it sound easy. And he says he's not a "real artist." Right.

Tell US govt not to steal tax-funded weather from the public

Donna sez, "EFF has a brand-new action alert that lets people tell Senator Rick Santorum -- yes, that Santorum -- what to do with a new bill that represents the worst kind of stupid IP policy-making:"
The National Weather Services Duties Act (S.786) would ban NWS from "competing" with private entities by making it unlawful for the agency to publish user-friendly weather data and barring NWS experts from speaking one-on-one to news agencies. Why? Because Senator Santorum believes that companies like AccuWeather would make more money if they didn't have to compete with "free." That's right - he believes you should pay twice for your weather information in order to line the pockets of the private weather industry, which *already* benefits from repackaging the data that tax-funded agencies like NWS give away. That's not only unfair, it's a bad precedent for our national information resources.
Link (Thanks, Donna!)

Update: Patrick sez, "One of the pay weather services that would benefit from this bill just happens to be a contributor to Senator Santorum, located in State College, PA."

How NYC cabbies kill time at the airport

Beautiful gallery of NYC cabbies amusing themselves waiting in the queue at an airport: playing soccer, playing cards, praying toward Mecca, etc. Invasive NYT Reg-Req'd Link (Bugmenot for NYT) (via Kottke)

New Pope's old car on eBay

Pope Ratzinger's Cardinalmobile -- the VW Golf he drove when he was a mere Cardinal -- is up for sale on eBay. Link (via Monochrom)

Vishnuland park planned

Planning is underway for a Hindu religious themepark on a pilgrimage route in India.
The aim of the 25 acre park, called Gangadham, is to recreate great moments in Hindu mythology through hi-tech rides, an animated mythological museum, a "temple city", food courts and a sound and light show...

"Gangadham is a spiritual theme park where children and families can go and have a good time, while learning about stories from Hindu mythology," Mr Sagar says.

Link (Thanks, Debcha!)

HOWTO build a bike-frame from bamboo

This handsome, hand-built bike frame is made from bamboo mated to duralumin tubes. The total weight is 4.1 lbs. Link includes detailed build-notes in case you want to try it. Link (Thanks, Robert!)

Music Commons event: Sussex, May 6

Edward sez, "There is a one day symposium on Friday May 6th at Sussex University bringing together people involved both in theory and practice of peer-produced commons production. Including the Creative Commons, open source and Free/Libre Culture. Theory, ideas, strategies and tactics, from releasing, sharing and remixing work - plus discussions of how to make new commons-based models function alongside the present music-industry type model and the increasingly restrictive legal environment. Speakers include Peter Jenner (ex-manager of Pink Floyd), John Buckman (Magnatune) and Ted Nelson (inventor of Hypertext). There are still a few places left for the day conference. Email to confirm your free place." Link (Thanks, Edward!)

Diversity makes for a good team

Researchers from Northwestern University studied creative successes in the arts and sciences to determine the ingredients of a good team. From Broadway to breakthrough scientific journal papers, the key is fresh blood:
"Do people go out of their way to collaborate with new people?" said Luís A. Nunes Amaral, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering and the corresponding author on the paper. "Do they take this risk?

"We found that teams that achieved success -- by producing musicals on Broadway or publishing academic papers in good journals -- were fundamentally assembled in the same way, by bringing in some experienced people who had not worked together before. The unsuccessful teams repeated the same collaborations over and over again..."

"The entire network looks different when you compare a successful team with an unsuccessful team," said Amaral. "The teams that publish in bad journals form a network broken into small, unconnected clusters while the teams that publish in good journals give rise to a giant, connected cluster. A strong correlation clearly exists between team assembly and the quality of the team's creations. You need someone new to get the creative juices going so you don't get trapped in the same ideas over and over again."

The art of Wayne White

 Clips Whiteclips Computer Email
Wayne White does great mods of kitschy drugstore prints. His work will be on display from May 7 – June 4, 2005 at Western Project in Culver City, CA. (Shown here: The You Just Don't Get It And You Never Will Look, "I Am Takin That Computer Away.")Link

Submarine rides coming back to Disneyland

The submarine ride at Disneyland is the only thing I remember from the time my parents drove me there, from Boulder, Colorado, in 1964. I was three years old, and I remember seeing the mermaids and water dripping from the ceiling of the sub. The email below, sent by an anonymous reader, goes into a bit of detail about the re-opening of the ride, scheduled for 2007. I'm not too excited about it having a "Finding Nemo" theme, though. Does that mean the mermaids are out? (Where is Mary Blair when you need her?)
 David Submarinevoyage250 Disneyland is finally starting work on the return of their long closed Submarine Ride. (It will feature a yet to be officially announced Finding Nemo theme when it reopens in 2007.) The MiceAge site has photos of the drained lagoon, and also offers "super sized" versions of them. Taking a closer look, you can see just how big and deep this area is in comparison to the workers inside. If you read the rest of the posting, you'll find out the return of the Subs is only one step in a major overhaul program for Tomorrowland, after a 1998 failed "brown paint" makover. A newly repainted back to white Space Mt. (rebuilt track along with daytime and nighttime versions, music by Van Halen for the latter) debuts in July, and George Lucas has promised a new Star Tours ride film not long after that. Honda's Asimo robots will even be featured in a show/exhibit inside the old Carousel of Progress building this Summer. Future plans include the Rocket Jets "spinner" ride moving back inside the land from the entrance, and even a return of the long-gone PeopleMover. Along with the just opened Buzz Lightyear "shoot 'em-up" ride it means this long neglected land will be a fun place to visit again.


Happy slapping update

David recently wrote about "happy slapping," the UK-based craze among teenagers of hitting people and then videotaping their reactions. Here's more info on the sad fad by Carlo Longino of TheFeature.
Picture 1-20 Blogger Alfie Dennen has cobbled some videos he's found together to make the point that these kids are violent criminals (via The Mobile Technology Weblog). It's grim and disgusting footage, showing clips of kids attacking not just their friends, but complete strangers minding their own business (this video depicts scenes of real violence, so skip over it unless you're prepared to be offended).
The most disgusting thing in this video is the wheezy cackle of the cretin who is videotaping his pal kick strangers in the face, knocking them senseless. Link

Australian radio "Media Report" on blogging, journalism

"The Media Report" on Australia's Radio National devoted an episode this week to the impact blogging is having on journalism worldwide. I was one of the folks interviewed for this half-hour program. Link to transcript, Link to Real Media audio, Link to Windows Media audio.

Multiple elements on TV screen are distracting

Researchers say that the chaotic, distracting mess of multiple information streams that is CNN and many other channels today isn't working. (Surprise!) From Kansas State University:
"We discovered that when you have all of this stuff on the screen, people tend to remember about 10 percent fewer facts than when you don't have it on the screen," (journalism/mass comm. professor Tom) Grimes said. "Everything you see on the screen -- the crawls, the anchor person, sports scores, weather forecast -- are conflicting bits of information that don't hang together semantically. They make it more difficult to attend to what is the central message."

For their research, Bergen, Grimes and Potter conducted a series of four experiments that examined people's attention spans regarding complex and simple cognitive processes.

"The outcome of all of the experiments was that people were splitting their attention into too many parts to understand any of the content," Grimes said.

LA Times: Pedophilia Linked with Star Trek?

Ernest Miller says:
Yesterday, the LA Times ran an article on the struggles of a Canadian law enforcement agency in chasing down pedophiles based on the clues in various child porn photos. They're the ones who released the photoshopped images that showed only the backgrounds of the photos in hopes that people could identify where they were taken (it worked). There was a strange claim in the article, however: "On one wall [of the law enforcement offices] is a 'Star Trek' poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie."

Reader comment: Boing Boing reader Mr. Spocko says:

As you can see, based on my pseudonym, I'm a fan of the show Star Trek. First of all, I'm not defending pedophiles. I think what they do is disgusting and they should be caught and punished. Out of all the info in that tragic article about pedophiles you chose to pull out this piece of information devoid of context.

"All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie."

The writer, Maggie Farley, didn't talk about other characteristics they have in common. She might have said, "All were users of the Internet.or All were hard-core digital photographers. What if she had said, "All but one were hard-core Republicans? or All but one were hard-core readers of Boing-Boing?" Would that have raised your hackles and made you want to know actual details of such a sweeping claim?

I read your website, I understand your desire to find the unusual, the amusing, the controversial. But pulling this information out of that story without context and the statistical relationship to the entire twisted population at large seems to me to create connections were they might not exist. Does it mean anything that the people trying to crack these cases have a poster of themselves in Trek grab hanging on the wall? Might the writer also have said, "All but one of the team tracking these pedophiles was a hard-core Trekkie?"

Police need ways to find these people, maybe that comment will help them do that, but might it also stigmatise a group of people who are innocent of such morally repugnant activities and simply make them guilty by association?

Ernest replies:

I pointed out that factoid not because I thought it terribly credible, but because it seems rather incredible. Sure, are some Trekkers pedophiles? Probably. But all but one arrested by Toronto cops in the last four years are Trekkers? Seems rather unlikely to me. I hope that another reporter decides to look a little closer into this.

Update: Ernest says,

I have now spoken to Detective Ian Lamond of the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit and he claims they were misquoted, or if that figure was given it was done so jokingly. Nevertheless, he does claim that a majority of those arrested show "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest."

They've arrested well over one hundred people over the past four years. Det. Lamond claims they can gauge this interest in Star Trek by the arrestees' "paraphenalia, books, videotapes and DVDs." I asked if this wasn't simply a general interest in science fiction and fantasy, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter or similar. He said, while there was sometimes other science fiction and fantasy paraphenalia, Star Trek was the most consistent and when he referred to a majority of the arrestees being Star Trek fans, it was Star Trek specific.

Pizza-topping portraits of the Royals

Pizza Express, a UK pizza chain, shares its birthday with the Queen. To commemorate its 40th, it has released a series of pizzas bearing portaits of the Royals spelled out in toppings. Link

MIT's Nathan Eagle and reality mining

In my latest article for TheFeature, I interview Nathan Eagle, a researcher at MIT's Media Lab who has collected approximately 40 years of continuous data on human behavior by capturing communication, proximity, location and activity information from 100 cell phone-wielding subjects at his school. Now he's building applications that take advantage of "reality mining."
TheFeature: How does your application Serendipity leverage Reality Mining data?
Eagle: We're uncovering affiliations between people. I have a similarity metric based on distance in behavior states. The end idea is that the software would notice, say, that you typically hang out at the B-Side Lounge on Friday nights. So do I and perhaps you also do other behaviors similar to me. Those things in common may mean that we would want to be introduced. That's one method of matchmaking. Another is based on proximity. The Bluetooth addresses of those people running our client get pushed to our server. Then we do a comparison based on their profiles.

TheFeature: It sounds like Friendster for the physical world?
Eagle: That's the general idea. But Serendipity is based not just on explicit user profiles (that you enter) but also implicit behavioral information.

Thumbprinting visitors at Statue of Liberty and Disneyland

[ Updated July 2008 to remove the name of the Boing Boing reader who first emailed us this tip, at the reader's request.] Responding to yesterday's Boing Boing post about tanning salons and gyms that require users to submit to thumbprint ID, reader [name redacted] of Chicago-Kent College of Law says:

You might find these pictures of the Thumb-Scanning Lockers on Liberty Island, NYC interesting. In order to get to "Liberty" Island, you must first have your gear X-rayed by Wackenhut security goons. Then you ride to the island accompanied by Coast Guard types with German Shepherds. Once ashore, you are free to circle the island, take pictures of the statue, and buy overpriced Slurpees.

However, in order to get inside the statue, you have to stow your gear in a locker... that requires you to use your fingerprint as a key!!! You can also pay with a credit card, that way if anyone hacks the machine, they can have your print AND your credit card information. This must be in place to protect us from those Al Qaeda frogmen that are clever enough to swim ashore, but are too stupid perform their dastardly deed at night where they can circumvent the locker bay by climbing the seemingly easy-to-climb wall.

In all likelihood, its probably to condition us into giving up our biometric information at every turn [As if biometrics could never be hacked...] so that security companies can make even more $$$, while we become more and more sheep-like each day. In any case, I didn't go inside.

However, later that day, I was falsely arrested near Ground Zero with 200 other people. I was a legal observer at the Republican National Conventions. First they said people could march, then they arrested them. They took us to Pier 57, and then the Tombs where we were laser-printed on ALL of our fingers with a SAGEM machine because we "might be terrorists." After denouncing us as anarchists and enemies of the state, the city dropped the charges [on our group anyway] a month later. The latest stories indicate that over 90% of the charges were dropped or found to be baseless. The police were also caught fabricating evidence.

[redacted]'s snapshots: one, two.

Previously: Arkansas salon requires thumbprint to get a tan

Reader comment: BB reader Grahame Armitage adds:

You mentioned people having their fingers scanned if they wanted to go inside the Statue of Liberty, well I had a similar experience when visiting Disney in Florida. Every park we visited required us to put our fingers inside the scanner - the first two fingers (separated by a peg). Just like giving the vees. As I was there on holiday with the wife, children and family I never gave it another thought. Especially as I come from the UK I just assumed it was the norm.

BB reader Mason says:

Just want to point out (not sure if this is the right place to do it) that thumbprint scanners DO NOT store your thumbprint. They use certain identifiable features of your thumbprint to match, sort of like a hash of your thumbprint. Your print CANNOT be reconstructed from the data these scanner save just as a computer password cannot be reconstructed from the saved hash The idea that these scanners work on is that each thumbprint has many features and when you combine each small metric (I believe there's 20-30 that they use) you create a hash of the thumbprint that can only be made by that thumb. So they're not as invasive as the (very reactionary) posts the past two days seem to imply. No one can steal your identity from the data stored by a thumbprint reader.

Brian Geiger says:

I used to live in Orlando, and I was there when Disney first started instituting the biometrics. Basically, it measures the distance between some of your knuckles on the right hand. Then that information is imprinted on your ticket, so nobody else can use the ticket. Disney charges a lot for tickets, and certainly doesn't want one person to use the ticket for the first half of the day, and somebody else to use it for the second half of the day. They first started using it for Season Pass holders. So, while they are incredibly greedy, I don't think the Disney issue is particularly sinister, if it's the same system they're using at Disneyworld.

drwormphd says:

here are a couple of links that support mason's explanation: an epa primer on biometric hand and finger geometry recognition: Link; and an unofficial wdw info guide faq on the disney finger scans: Link.
And Wired News editor Marty Cortinas, beyond whom no bullshit passes, says:
I know everyone is talking about thumbprints, but the picture clearly indicates the machine wants to scan the right index finger. Finger, thumb, whatever.

Reader Brian says:

In response to the story, Arkansas salon requires thumbprint to get a tan, I'm shocked, SHOCKED that no one has posted information on how to fake finger prints. You have a story at the Register, another link, and my favorite, step by step picture example.
Alex Fajkowski says:
I am working on a project with the DHS that fingerprints people after they were arrested at the US border. BB reader Mason is not correct when he said these scanners do not store your prints. It depends on the system. The DHS takes people prints (either two print or ten print), creates a WSQ compressed version of them, and extracts minutiae (about 30 points of interest on the print where ridges intersect). Your fingerprint can be reconstructed from the WSQ version. The DHS' system stores the WSQ and Minutiae in one of its many fingerprint databases. It is entirely possible these scanners submit prints to DHS databases for analysis and storage.

Extinct woodpecker rediscovered

After more than sixty-years, a rare bird believed to have been extinct has been spotted in the Big Woods of Arkansas. A kayaker first reported seeing the ivory-billed woodpecker last year. Scientists have since spotted the bird several times and even caught it briefly on video. (Seen here is a John James Audobon illustration.) From a Cornell University news release:
 Abpub 2005 04 27 2002255720 While kayaking in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge on Feb. 11, 2004, Gene Sparling of Hot Springs, Ark., saw an unusually large, red-crested woodpecker fly toward him and land on a nearby tree. He noticed several field marks suggesting the bird was an ivory-billed woodpecker.

A week later, after learning of the sighting, Tim Gallagher, editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Living Bird magazine, and Bobby Harrison, associate professor at Oakwood College, Huntsville, Ala., interviewed Sparling. They were so convinced by his report that they traveled to Arkansas and then with Sparling to the bayou where he had seen the bird.

On Feb. 27, as Sparling paddled ahead, a large black-and-white woodpecker flew across the bayou less than 70 feet in front of Gallagher and Harrison, who simultaneously cried out: "Ivory-bill!" Minutes later, after the bird had disappeared into the forest, Gallagher and Harrison sat down to sketch independently what each had seen. Their field sketches, included in the Science article, show the characteristic patterns of white and black on the wings of the woodpecker.

"When we finished our notes," Gallagher said, "Bobby sat down on a log, put his face in his hands and began to sob, saying, 'I saw an ivory-bill. I saw an ivory-bill.'" Gallagher said he was too choked with emotion to speak. "Just to think this bird made it into the 21st century gives me chills. It's like a funeral shroud has been pulled back, giving us a glimpse of a living bird, rising Lazarus-like from the grave," he said.
Link to news release, Link to NPR story (Thanks, Vann Hall and Loren Coleman!)

USB Geiger-counter experiments in airplanes

Dean Armstrong is taking his USB Geiger-counter on civilian aircraft and measuring the radiation levels that he can detect at 12,000 feet and higher.
Southwest Airlines flight to LAX. I turned on the detector at roughly 12,000ft, and turned it off at the official 10,000ft announcement. According to the pilot cruising altitude was at 39,000ft. The big drop at 3/4 of the way across the graph was a temporary disconnection.
Link (via Make Blog)

Fairfax libraries waste tax-dollars on DRM

Public libraries in Fairfax, VA, are buying DRMed audiobooks with tax-dollars, despite the fact that these audiobooks won't play on iPods (or other MP3 players), MacOS, or GNU/Linux systems.
Do you know who is getting the shortest end of this stick? The tenants in affordable housing units in Northern Virginia where GNU/Linux computer labs have been set up for them to use. Many of these tenants are hardworking immigrant families. Could the adults and children in these families benefit from greater access to audio books? You tell me. "Sorry, buster, you're a digital minority. No audio books for you. Here, let me relieve you of your taxpayer dollars all the same." How about this for irony -- one of the books currently inaccessible? Martin Luther King, Jr., On Leadership: Inspiration & Wisdom for Challenging Times, by Donald T. Phillips. I hear it's a good book.
Link (Thanks, Matt!)

Europe's national libraries creating giant digital book collection

RDP sez, "A whole host of large European libraries (with the British Library's tacit support) have joined an EU-based digitisation project as a counter to Google's own library scheme. The project is the brainchild of BNF director Jean-Noel Jeanneney, a sort of mild-mannered Jose Bove for the librarians out there. As with the Google project, we're told little about access to the digitised gems."
"The leaders of the undersigned national libraries wish to support the initiative of Europe's leaders aimed at a large and organized digitization of the works belonging to our continent's heritage," a statement said. "Such a move needs a tight coordination of national ambitions at EU level to decide on the selection of works," it added.

The statement was signed by national libraries in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Link (Thanks, RDP!)

Britons get better election info than any election, ever, anywhere

Stef from Britain's magnificent political engagement site writes,
We believe we have the untold story of the election. By May 5th, our site expects to have attracted over 500,000 visitors, since the start of the campaign. Unlike the political parties, we have no TV spots, no advertising budget, no granny farmers, and no marketeers except our users (and me).

Furthermore, we will have given them more detailed factual information about how their representatives performed than any electors have ever had at any election, anywhere, in history.

Link (Thanks, Stef!)

Some other interesting related projects: find out how you compare to the rest of Britain, say why you're not voting, and make yourself heard, sister site for contacting ALL your representatives, local or national

Dirty tricks at WIPO

In honor of this week's World Intellectual Property Day, Becky Hogge posted an article she interviewed me for on OpenDemocracy, about the crazy shenanigans at the World Intellectual Propery Organization (WIPO), a UN agency where dirty tricks have been used to stop public interest groups from joining the discussion.
Delegates whose tentative grasp of the meanings of new technologies often came from close collaboration with incumbent lobbyists such as the National Association of Broadcasters suddenly found they were being asked to pick sides.

One of the more controversial activities of the IP-reform lobbyists since their arrival at Wipo, Doctorow remarks, has been the spontaneous publication on the web of impressionistic notes taken from the various negotiations through at-table blogging.

Link (Thanks, Becky!)

Copyright debate of the century torrents -- MP3 and Quicktime

Last month's Cornell Copyright Debate of the Century (with EFF's senior IP attorney, a copyfighting media scholar, and the legal heads of the MPAA, RIAA, Universal and Napster 2) is finally available online as a series of torrents in MP3 and Quicktime format, thanks to Allison Muri at the University of Saskatchewan. Link

Arkansas salon requires thumbprint to get a tan

Boing Boing pal Wayne Correia (wayne at club dot net) says:
Today Breanna went to a tanning place in her hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas to get a spray tan. The person asked to take an electronic scan of her thumbprint in order for her to be allowed to get her spray tan. Breanna, sensitive about her privacy being violated (rightly so) refused to allow them to make and permanently store an electronic scan of her thumbprint -- she isn't "joining a program" she simply wanted to purchase a single tan and have it applied at that time. When she refused, the woman was offended, saying "it's for our computer system" and when neither would budge, Breanna had no other choice but to leave.

Now I heard this story and thought, no way, maybe she was mistaken, but no. I called myself just now to confirm:

WAYNE: "Hi, do you require a thumbrpint scan to get a tan there?"
TANNING BIMBO: "Yes, sir, we do."
WAYNE: "OK, let me see if I understand this correctly. Is there a state or local law that requires you do this?"
TANNING BIMBO: "No, sir, it's for our computer systems"
WAYNE: "So you want to breach people's right to privacy not because there is a state law that demands you take a thumbprint, but because it's a company policy?"
TANNING BIMBO: "Yes, that's right."
WAYNE: "So you don't see anything wrong in insisting that people give you a thumbprint -- a totally invasive request -- and possibly even an illegal one, just because your company says so."
TANNING BIMBO: "No, sir, our systems require it. We have fourteen locations and this is how we ensure that some one isn't using another person's tanning plan."
WAYNE: "Why would you need to take a thumbprint scan of a person coming in once, for one tan, and paying for that tan right then?
TANNING BIMBO: "Our systems require it."
WAYNE: "Thanks, I just wanted to get this all straight before contacting the media."

And then I hung up and wrote you this email. I think the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU and the Arkansas state attorney general's office need to be contacted... this stuff really gets me steamed.

Premiere Tans
3049 North College Avenue
Fayetteville, AR 72703
(479) 571-8267

Well, that does it. If you value your biometric autonomy, brothers and sisters, shout it out with me: "Stick it to The Man! Don't Go to Arkansas to Tan!"

Then again -- maybe a "Trusted Tanner" program would solve this.

Reader comment: Philip J. Hollenback says:

My wife just started going to 'Hollywood Tans' in Manhattan. They also use the fingerprint biometrics. Maybe whatever company makes the tanning business software has made this a standard feature.

From a business standpoint, I see why they are doing this: this chain pushes you to sign up for unlimited tanning. For a fixed monthly price, you can tan as much as you want. The monthly price of $24.95 is actually pretty reasonable (As far as tanning salons go). Of course, they make you sign up for automatic monthly deductions from your credit card. Obviously they are trying to go the same route as gyms and capture as much income as possible, customer service be damned.

Anyway, if they are giving away all those free tans, they don't want your friends sneaking in as you. Thus, strong security. I'm sure their thinking was along the lines of, "well, we could use ID cards with photos, but we can't count on our employees to look at those".

I think this is a horrible business model and security practice. Unfortunately, I did not protest at the tanning salon and now live in constant fear that someone with a rich, full tan will cut off my finger to feed their habit some day.

Reader Ethan says:

If Wayne wants to stick it to the man, why didn't he get the name of the POS system which needed a finger print? Obviously a bunch of workers at a tanning salon care less about the backend system, and much like the maligned phone number debacle (wherein some people are very rude to workers who request a phone number to buy something at Radio Shack).... it seems that the problem lies with the POS system provider (some geek who thought it was cool to install a thumbprint scanner). I am sure that after the salon gets 1,000,000 calls from internet readers, they will back off.

Responding to a copy of Wayne's anti-tan call to arms (or thumbs?) placed on the politech list, Cato Institute Director of Information Policy Studies Jim Harper says:

Brilliant! Until the very end... Yes, go to the media. This is dumb and it should be held out for derision. But, please oh please, don't go to the ACLU or the state Attorney General. There is no law against making dumb, privacy-invasive requests and there's no civil right violated when a private business does so - even if it conditions its service on a dumb privacy invasion. Open and above-board stupidity is legal. And we should all thank heaven for that!

I have a little bit of confidence in the ACLU, but the state Attorney General will be all too happy to cobble together some bizarre notion that consumer protection law covers this. The power to cobble together new legal authority is one very likely to come around later and bite us in the proverbial ass. No, the solution is that consumers should refuse this bad deal. They shouldn't run to the authorities pleading to be cared for.

Reader Bob Thomas says:

I’m disgusted to say the regional fitness center I belong to, Fitworks, has started doing this as well. I went to the gym yesterday and there was a huge line of people at the counter. When I went to the counter to swipe my membership card, I noticed they were training people in the use of their new security system that requires the input of your thumb print. I’m going to call them later today and see what type of security they have on their network and what sort of non-disclosure policies they have, but it looks like I’ll probably have to change the gym I go to. I guess we can look forward to a future where all of these sorts of personal services clubs require the submission of biometric data.

Ryan says:

Planet Tan in Dallas, TX requires the same thing. I went there once a couple years back, and had pretty much the same encounter.

Cryestal says:

"Express Tan" in Paris, Tennessee requires thumbprints, too.

Squa Tront #11 published by Fantagraphics

 Squatront3A I was pleasantly shocked to discover that Fantagraphics has published the latest issue of Squa Tront, a pre-Factsheet Five old-school fanzine dedicated to EC comics. I have several back issues of Squa Tront, which I bought over 30 years ago and I treasure them.

Squa Tront (the name comes from the words that space monsters frequently uttered in Weird Science and Weird Fantasy -- another thing they liked to say was "Spa Fon" [and of course there was a zine named Spa Fon, as well]) has always stood out for its gorgeous, lavish production. The Fantagraphics-published issue is no exception. The content is first rate -- there are lots of interviews with EC artists and writers (this issue focuses a lot on the underappreciated John Severin), high quality reproductions of rediscovered penciled pages, and a look at early EC fanzines.

(Shown here -- the cover of Squa Tront #3, from 1969, featuring a cover painting by Al Feldstein, who later went on to become the editor of the only existing EC publication, Mad. Click image for enlargement.)

Film star Bai Ling visits Star Wars line at Grauman's

A clever publicity stunt by Netflix which probably brought the Star Wars Line geeks as close to hot female tail as they're ever likely to get. And they ask why these fans refuse to leave the Grauman's line...

"I feel strange because all the 'Star Wars' characters and George Lucas have sort of reduced the universe," said Ms. Bai, who stars in Episode III. "I just feel very lucky to experience this part of history and a culture phenomenon."

Uh, whatever. Link to wireimage gallery, link to SJ Merc story. (via dudemanphat, thanks Kate)

Photography: Michael Garlington

The work of photographer Michael Garlington has been described as "‘David Lynch meets Leave it to Beaver." Snip from description of show currently on display at Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles:
Garlington tours the country in his “Photo Car” – literally a Volkswagen covered with his photographs. He shoots portraits of whatever speaks to him - from a contortionist to a fast food worker, from the disabled to a young patriot, his work is about ordinary Americans leading ordinary lives, yet there is something awry. Inside the work is a deeply felt affection for humanity in all its permutations and expressions, in all its horror and triviality. The resulting body of work offers a critical, offbeat, and humorous view of the United States –a portrait of the “belly of the whale.”

Garlington is currently working on a series of California-Mexican working families living in trailers, struggling for a piece of a promised dream, and is planning his fourth cross-county photo expedition in 2005.

Link to show info, and here you will find more info about the photographer, his work, and his art-car: Link. Good god this is an incredible image right here (worksafe): Link (via indienudes)

NASA loosening risk standards for Shuttle?

Story by John Schwartz at the New York Times on indications that NASA officials have relaxed standards for acceptable risk of damage from the type of debris that led to Columbia's disintegration as it returned from space.
The move has set off a debate within the agency about whether the changes are a reasonable reassessment of the hazards of flight or whether they jettison long-established rules to justify getting back to space quickly.

Experts who have seen the documents say they do not suggest that the shuttle Discovery -- scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 22 -- is unsafe, but a small but forceful minority say they worry that NASA is repeating a practice that contributed to the Columbia disaster: playing down risks to continue sending humans into space.

The documents were given to The New York Times by several NASA employees, who asked not to be named, saying they feared retribution. Documents that had been revealed earlier showed that NASA was struggling to meet safety goals set by the independent board that investigated the Columbia accident. The new documents suggest that the agency is looking for ways to justify returning to flight even if it cannot fully meet those recommendations.

The documents, by engineers and managers for the space agency, show at least three changes in the statistical methods used in assessing the risks of debris like ice and insulating foam striking the shuttle during the launching. Lesser standards must be used to support accepting the risks of flight, one presentation states, ''because we cannot meet'' the traditional standards.

Link to story