Boing Boing 

Toys posed in emotional still-life

This Flickr set features still lifes of toys posed in a way that suggests that they are caught in the midst of some intense emotion. What's more, the toy collection itself is specatular and drool-worthy. Link (via We Make Money Not Art)

Pro-manufacturing posters, goofy & vintage


Elements of Style, the opera

Strunk and White's Elements of Style (full text, Amazon), a briliant, indispensible text for anyone who wants to write clearly and well, has been adapted as an operatic cycle of nine songs to be performed at the main reading room of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, beginning October 19th.
Although lyrics like "Revise and rewrite" and "Do not use a hyphen between two words that can better be written as one word" suggest the didactic thrust of "Schoolhouse Rock," Muhly's work is more in the minimalist-modernist mold of Philip Glass and Steve Reich but with an absurdist dash of Spike Jones. At just 33½ minutes long, the work was impressively executed by soprano Abigail Fischer, tenor Matthew Hensrud, violist Nadia Sirota and banjo player Sam Amidon, all under the direction of Muhly and augmented by the Omit Needless Words Orchestra, which included noise-making amateur performers such as fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi and cartoonist Rick Meyerowitz (Kalman's "Newyorkistan" collaborator), as well as Kalman herself. Their brief mandated the making of sounds incorporating duck calls, meat grinders, bells, Slinkys, mallets, pillows, eggbeaters, megaphones, "chattering" cups and saucers, a typewriter and the slamming closed of a large book.
Link (Thanks, Oboreruhito!)

American electric chairs through history

This pictorial history of American electric chairs from 1890 to 1951 shows you pictures and some supplementary info on each chair. I learned much, particularly that calling your chair "Old Sparky" appears to have occurred to practically everyone (though the chair shown here daringly broke with the trend with the monicker "Old Betsy.") Link (via Geisha Asobi)

World's tallest wrecking machine

Japan's Kobelco Construction Machinery Co. has shipped the world's talest wrecking machine, able to claw away at buildings from 65m up. Link (via Geisha Asobi)

Photos of gigantic meat collaged into 1960s landscapes

Pictures of glistening meat matted into heavily saturated, 1960s-style photos are surprising cool, as this modest 12-entry gallery demonstrates. The meat is off-scale, so it appears to be part of the landscape. Link (via Geisha Asobi)

Vertical bookcase -- stable, ceiling-high stack of books

The Sapien bookcase allows you to stack books horiztally for a minimum-footprint bookcase that acts like a stabilized pile of books from floor to ceiling. I saw a similar bookcase in Barcelona once that was even cooler -- the books went right to the floor and each "shelf" on the case was slightly askew, giving the impression of an impossibly high, teetering stack of books reaching to the rafters, except that it was perfectly stable.  Link (via Crib Candy)

Daylight saving ends today

Daylight Saving ends today -- you get an extra hour of sleep but you need to remember to roll your clocks back by an hour. It's cool how many more of my clocks do this automatically with each passing year.

Today's also a good day to change the batteries in your smoke detector, which you should do twice a year.

DST commonly begins in the Northern Hemisphere on either the first Sunday in April or the last Sunday in March, and ends on the last Sunday in October. In the Southern Hemisphere, the beginning and ending dates are switched (thus the time difference between, e.g., the United Kingdom and Chile may be three, four, or five hours).

Chile switches to DST at 24:00 on the second Saturday in October and reverts to LST at 24:00 on the second Sunday the following March. The current law which affects the entire country was enacted in 1970, but it had observed the practice as early as 1927 when the country had been divided into two distinct time zones. In specific years the starting and ending dates have been modified for political or climactic reasons.

North America generally follows the same procedure, going by local time in each zone, each time zone switching at 02:00 LST (local standard time) to 03:00 LDT (local daylight time) on the first Sunday in April, and again from 02:00 LDT to 01:00 LST on the last Sunday in October. The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is an exception in that the time changes take place at 00:01 local standard time and 00:01 local daylight time respectively. Also, in 1990, they experimented with Double Daylight Time, when the clocks went ahead by two hours, instead of the usual one hour. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed by President George W. Bush, will extend DST, which might prompt neighboring countries with integrated economies and schedules (especially Canada and Mexico) to adopt these changes as well. The Canadian province of Ontario has already pledged to change its daylight savings rules to match the new US rules.

All countries in Europe, except Iceland as already noted, observe daylight-saving time and change on the same date: moving clocks forward one hour on the last Sunday in March and back one hour on the last Sunday in October. In the West European (UTC), Central European (UTC+1), and East European (UTC+2) time zones the change is simultaneous: on both dates the clocks are changed everywhere at 01:00 UTC, i.e. from local times of 01:00/02:00/03:00 to 02:00/03:00/04:00 in March, and vice versa in October. (See also: European Summer Time). In Russia, however, although the changeover dates are the same, clocks are moved forward or back at 02:00 local time in all zones. Thus in Moscow (local time = UTC+3 in winter, UTC+4 in summer), daylight-saving time commences at 05:00 UTC on the last Sunday in March, and ends at 06:00 UTC on the last Sunday in October.


Update: Oren sez,

At a recent meeting of the CalConnect calendaring consortium I was astounded to learn that there is no official body that tracks timezone data around the world. The best information is in the tz database which is maintained, as I understand it, on a completely voluntary basis by Arthur David Olson, a systems administrator at NIH, for whom this is not even his regular day job. This database is apparently the basis used by almost all operating systems and software around the world to keep track of timezone information. And there are some wacky things to keep track of - for instance, Myanmar is +6.5 hours from UTC, and Nepal is +5:45 hours!

Reading through the comments in the tz files is fascinating - for instance:

# From Paul Eggert (2005-07-26):
# We have wildly conflicting information about Mongolia's time zones.
# Bill Bonnet (2005-05-19) reports that the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar says
# there is only one time zone and that DST is observed, citing Microsoft
# Windows XP as the source. Risto Nykanen (2005-05-16) reports that
# says there are two time zones (UTC+7, UTC+8) with no DST.
# Oscar van Vlijmen (2005-05-20) reports that the Mongolian Embassy in
# Washington, DC says there are two time zones, with DST observed.
# He also found
# which also says that there is DST, and which has a comment by "Toddius"
# (2005-03-31 06:05 +0700) saying "Mongolia actually has 3.5 time zones.
# The West (OLGII) is +7 GMT, most of the country is ULAT is +8 GMT
# and some Eastern provinces are +9 GMT but Sukhbaatar Aimag is SUHK +8.5 GMT.
# The SUKH timezone is new this year, it is one of the few things the
# parliament passed during the tumultuous winter session."
# For now, let's ignore this information, until we have more confirmation.

Update 2: Tarragon sez, "the changes you talk about only hold true for the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, we're actually the reverse: 30th October is the _beginning_ of daylight savings for many locations."

Guns Table Vase

 Photos 3Guns01I really dig the 3Guns Table Vase from designers SUCK UK. It would go well with the Phillipe Stark Guns Collection lamps or, better, a vintage gun lamp. And the vase is just £35.00!
Link (via Nylon)

NASA's dancing penis

Nasapenis NASA has developed a "robot skin" embedded with sensors so robotic devices can react to their environment. To demonstrate the technology, NASA engineer Vladimir Lumelsky orchestrated a bizarre performance piece starring a ballerina and a robotic arm. The result is phallictastic.
Link to video, Link to NASA article (via Gizmodo, thanks Sean Ness!)

400 year old tea-serving robot kit

This spring-driven tea-serving robot is available as a kit or in pre-assembled form. Either way, it is ingenious as hell, particularly because its design is four hundred years old:
An example of Japan’s first robot is the fascinating Karakuri: Tea Server, designed almost four centuries ago and today remains a remarkable example of Japan’s keen sense of robotics. What does it do? This Kabuki-styled doll approaches surprised guests with a full teacup on a tray; it stops walking when the teacup is taken, waits quietly, bows, then slowly turns around, smoothly scooting away with the empty teacup on its tray...

This kit is made of computer designed precision modern materials, but is as close to the original design as possible. The driving force of the original tea-carrying doll came from a spring made of whale whiskers (actually whale teeth). All the other components, such as its gears, body and escapement for speed adjustments, were made of wood. How does it work? When a tea cup is placed on the tray, the stopper is released by the whale spring attached to the doll’s arms; the spring forces the stopper to engage again when the cup is lifted from the tray.

Link (via Make Blog)

Toothpaste for Dinner -- high-larious new book from Drew

Drew from Toothpaste for Dinner is one of my most favorite web-comics guys. The combination of violence, alienation, clumsy-but-expressive line-art and snappy captions is unbeatable. For the past week, I've had his new book, also called Toothpaste for Dinner, by the bedstand, and I've been getting through it in little pieces here and there. Spending three minutes reading Toothpaste for Dinner at work is guaranteed to yield at least three loud cackles and five chuckles, which makes these comedy gold. Link

Photos through a microscope contest winners

Nikon's Small World contest gives prizes for the best photos taken through light microscopes. The 2005 winners are online now, and they're stunning -- this first-prize entry of a fly's face at very high magnification is magnificently squicky. Link (Thanks, IZ Reloaded!)

Pix from FreeCulture NYU's anti-DRM protest

Here are some photos from last week's Free Culture NYU demonstration against DRM at the Virgin Megastore at 14th and Broadway. Link (Thanks, Torpid!)

Crib Candy for spooks

The Hallowe'en tag on Wist has a whole load of cool Hallowe'en junque -- it's like Crib Candy for spooks. Link (via Crib Candy)

ISO 10,000 Britons to refuse to register for UK ID cards

You may remember that the NO2ID, a British group fighting the UK national ID card, has previously raised the promise of 10,000 Britons to refuse to register for the cards, and a further promise of £1,000,000 from 20,000 Britons to fund their legal defense, all using the Pledgebank service.

Now they're looking for prmises of another 10,000 Britons to refuse to register for the card, at a critical junction for the debate over national ID cards here in the UK:

Following the dramatic success of NO2ID's original pledge (we asked for 10,000 and got over 11,300 refuseniks), Simon Davies - Chairman of NO2ID and veteran of successful ID card campaigns across the globe - has just launched another 'refuse to comply' pledge to demonstrate the sustained and growing opposition to the UK ID card scheme. Recent events in Parliament revealed that, far from being 'voluntary', registration will be compulsory for 80% of UK citizens from the point the Bill becomes law, and - despite a transparent attempt to distract MPs from the spiralling cost of the scheme - the Government's majority was slashed to its lowest level since the election at the vote which sent the Bill to the House of Lords. The pledge can be signed online or by mobile phone, and it closes just after Christmas.
Link (Thanks, Phil!)

Monsters matted into classic art photoshopping contest

Today on Worth1000's photoshopping contest: matte monsters into classic works of art. I have blogged a lot of Worth 1000 photoshopping contests here, but this is hands-down the best, ever. I screeched aloud about ten times with delight while paging through the entries. Michaelangelo's David with a facehugger! American Gothic Hannibal Lector! Norman Rockwell, also with a facehugger! There were so many brilliant entries it was nearly impossible to pick one to accompany this post, but I settled on Hellraiser's Pinhead as the Mona Lisa as the perfect combination of excellent technique and a great concept. This one is cool enough to print and frame. Link

Science shouldn't use copyright to silence Creationists

Two science orgs that are fighting to preserve evolution instruction in Kansas are threatening a hostile school-board with copyright lawsuits to prevent the use of their scientific papers to discredit evolution.

As much as I support their cause, I deplore their tactics.

The heart of science is publication and refutation. The difference between an alchemist and a scientist is that alchemists don't publish their findings and so for 500 years, every alchemist had to discover for himself that drinking mercury was a bad idea. The publication and review of a scientist's findings -- especially the reviews of his sharpest critics -- is how science progresses. It's how we, as a species, progress.

That's the very heart over the fight for evolution. If scientists start arguing that their detractors are illegal infringers who should be silenced by the courts, they set themselves on a road to ruin.

Science will win this fight, but it can't win it at the expense of the scientific method and free speech.

Copyright is not about endorsement or agreement, and it's not a right to stop criticism, even ill-considered criticism. Quotation can be fair use even in a context the original author abhors -- that's precisely when we need fair use most, we on all sides of a political debate.

The organizations are free to broadcast their loud disapproval of the uses to which their publications are being put, and free to sue for misrepresentation if false statements or positions are put into their mouths, but asserting copyright rights seems a heavy-handed way to win a battle of ideas.


Indian parody of "Drop it Like it's Hot"

Anoop Dogg is a group of three Indian college students who've made a parody of Snoop Dogg's "Drop it Like it's Hot," called "Drop it Like a FOB" (Fresh Off the Boat). Like the Christian remix of Baby's Got Back, Anoop Dogg manage to get just the right mix of being true to the original while humorously and utterly repurposing it. Link (Thanks, Tian!)

Plato's Republic meets Reservoir Dogs

Nathaniel Daw has mashed up Plato's Republic with Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (specifically the tied-to-a-chair-being-tortured scene). The outcome is so funny I got the hiccoughs:
[Thrasymachus is tied up in a chair. Socrates is brandishing a gun in his face]
Thrasymachus: Don't kill me, man!
Socrates: Are you finished, fucker?
Thrasymachus: Look, look, man, you can have my ten yoke of oxen. My virgin daughters? My pomegranite orchard?
Socrates: You like pomegranites? Shit, motherfucker, I hear they've got a fuckin' all-you-can-eat special going on on pomegranites where you're headed.
Thrasymachus: Don't do it, Socrates. Be fair.
Socrates: [Suddenly contemplative] Fair?
Thrasymachus: [Sees an opportunity for survival] Yeah, fair... think about my wife and children --
Socrates: Would you say that to be fair is the same thing as to be just?
Thrasymachus: What?
Socrates: Well, I'm just a dull, wandering street philosopher, so I don't understand quite where you're headed with this particular line of reasoning. Perhaps [motions with gun] you could further elucidate your theory of justice.
Link (via Making Light)

Update: Adam sez, "I went to school with Nat Daw, and he's certainly one of the wittiest folks I know, although gladly much of his writing time has been lost to the ravenous bitch goddess of scientific inquiry. Perhaps he'll get an ignobel someday. This got me thinking, so I dug around, found, and scanned the original poster I made for the theatrical presentation of Republic Dogs."

Lyons's blog-sliming compared to complaints about Founding Fathers

Earlier this week, Xeni blogged about Daniel Lyons's hysterical, badly researched, badly argued Forbes article in which he compared bloggers to a lynch mob and suggests sending spurious copyright complaints to ISPs to have your critics censored.

Now Kurt Opsahl, an EFF attorney who worked on the amazing bloggers' rights document, has posted a bang-on parody, in which the pamphleteers of the American revolution are substituted for bloggers:

Printing presses are the prized platform of a public lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Ben Franklin and John Hancock.

Take the tea tax. Revenue was coming, providing much needed funding to help with his Majesty's benevolent aims in the colonies.

Then the pamphleteers attacked. A supposed crusading journalist launched a broadsheet long on invective and wobbly on facts, posting articles with his printing press calling your King "deceitful,""unethical,""incredibly stupid" and "a pathological liar" who had misled the colonists. The author claimed to be "Silence Dogood," a middle-aged widow who started a one-woman "watchdog" pamphlet, to expose alleged regal excess.

Soon your King was fielding correspondence from alarmed subjects and assuring them he hadn't been unethical. Eerily similar allegations began popping up in anonymous posts in the New England Courant, but the Courant refused His Majesty's demand to identify the attackers. "The lawyer for the Courant basically told me, 'Ha-ha-ha, you're screwed,'" the King's counselor says. Meanwhile, his tormentor sent letters about his Majesty to France, Prussia, Spain and the New York Stock Exchange.

Link (Thanks, Kurt!)

Telecommuting Video Blog

 Storypics DrivetimeFrom Street Tech: "This guy, Ravi Jain, is shooting a weekly video blog from the driver's seat of his car during his daily commutes between Jamaica Plains and Allston, MA (or five hours of "studio time," as he puts it). He has guests on (who are bumming rides), and when his wife commutes with him, they do a "Regis and Kelly" type show (or at least that's how Ravi fancies it), with some "marital banter to start the show" (oh joy!)."

Musician releases songs in a $23 electronic gizmo

200510281534 FM3's latest release, Buddha Machine, is not a CD or a download. It's a "a self contained FM3 loop player" -- a $23 white plastic box that looks a little like an iPod and it plays nine sound loops. Brian Eno is said to have purchased eight of them. You can buy one at Forced Exposure.
Link (article about FM3 and the Buddha Machine)

TV commercial of 10,000 250,000 superballs let loose in San Francisco

Picture 1-49
In July, Cory wrote about 10,000 250,000 superballs being released at once down a hilly street in San Francisco. Here's the resulting TV commercial. Very soothing. Link (thanks, Aaron!)

No trademark on strawberry scent

French company Eden Sarl tried, and failed, to trademark the odor of fresh strawberries. From the BBC News:
The company argued that while strawberries may look and taste different, they all smell the same, and as a result could be trademarked.

The court took a different view, and smell experts found that instead of just one aroma, strawberries can in fact have up to five different, distinct scents.

"Strawberries do not have just one smell," the court said. "This means that the different varieties of strawberries produce significantly different smells..."

According to the Associated Press news agency, the only scent to win EU trademark protection so far is the smell of freshly cut grass.

The smell was registered by a Dutch perfume company that uses it to give tennis balls their aroma.

Richard Smalley, RIP

 Bnlweb Pubaf Pr Photos 2004 Smalley-300 Pioneering nanoscientist Richard Smalley, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering buckyballs, died today of cancer. He was 62.
Link (Thanks, Howard Lovy)

George Dyson's Google visit -- "Turing's Cathedral"

"Historian among futurists" George Dyson recently visited the headquarters of Google, and wrote:
Despite the whimsical furniture and other toys, I felt I was entering a 14th-century cathedral – not in the 14th century but in the 12th century, while it was being built. Everyone was busy carving one stone here and another stone there, with some invisible architect getting everything to fit. The mood was playful, yet there was a palpable reverence in the air. "We are not scanning all those books to be read by people," explained one of my hosts after my talk. "We are scanning them to be read by an AI."

When I returned to highway 101, I found myself recollecting the words of Alan Turing, in his seminal paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence, a founding document in the quest for true AI. "In attempting to construct such machines we should not be irreverently usurping His power of creating souls, any more than we are in the procreation of children," Turing had advised. "Rather we are, in either case, instruments of His will providing mansions for the souls that He creates."

Here's a snip from a magnificent essay George wrote on that visit.
Fifty years later, thanks to solid state micro-electronics, the von Neumann matrix is going strong. The problem has shifted from how to achieve reliable results using sloppy hardware, to how to achieve reliable results using sloppy code. The von Neumann architecture is here to stay. But new forms of architecture, built upon the underlying layers of Turing-von Neumann machines, are starting to grow. What's next? Where was von Neumann heading when his program came to a halt?

As organisms, we possess two outstanding repositories of information: the information conveyed by our genes, and the information stored in our brains. Both of these are based upon non-von-Neumann architectures, and it is no surprise that Von Neumann became fascinated with these examples as he left his chairmanship of the AEC (where he had succeeded Lewis Strauss) and began to lay out the research agenda that cancer prevented him from following up. He considered the second example in his posthumously-published The Computer and the Brain.

"The message-system used in the nervous system... is of an essentially statistical character," he explained. "In other words, what matters are not the precise positions of definite markers, digits, but the statistical characteristics of their occurrence... a radically different system of notation from the ones we are familiar with in ordinary arithmetics and mathematics... Clearly, other traits of the (statistical) message could also be used: indeed, the frequency referred to is a property of a single train of pulses whereas every one of the relevant nerves consists of a large number of fibers, each of which transmits numerous trains of pulses. It is, therefore, perfectly plausible that certain (statistical) relationships between such trains of pulses should also transmit information.... Whatever language the central nervous system is using, it is characterized by less logical and arithmetical depth than what we are normally used to [and] must structurally be essentially different from those languages to which our common experience refers."

Or, as his friend Stan Ulam put it," What makes you so sure that mathematical logic corresponds to the way we think?"

Link to "TURING'S CATHEDRAL, A visit to Google on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of John von Neumann's proposal for a digital computer," at John Brockman's

Super Mario Bros played on an 9-string bass

Here's a great video of Jean Baudin, a virtuoso bass-player, playing the theme from Super Mario Brothers on a gigantic oversized nine-string electric bass. 5.3MB Quicktime Link, Mirror Link, Torrent Link (Thanks, Westfall, Gary and Chris!)

Update: Waldo sez, "It's not a 'nine-string bass' that he's is playing, it's a Chapman Stick. Well-known Stick performers include Tony Levin."

Update 2: Ray Brown sez, "BB reader Waldo claims the bass that Jean Baudin is using is actually a Chapman Stick. This is false. The bass Jean is using has its own page here."

Multi-colored-LED Jack O'Lantern

This Hallowe'en hacker wired together a Jack O'Lantern lit by a strobing, color-changing array of LEDs. Link

RU Sirius Show

The RU Sirius Show has posted two really fun shows on the MondoGlobo Network in the last week. The most recent features an interview with

Trademark G. from the always hilarious Evolution Control Committee. And the earlier one was with Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg. Some of you may remember Leyner as the author of "Et tu, Babe" and other psychotidelic, megalomaniacal, cyber-surrealist, hilarious novels that strafed our brains throughout the 1990s. Now he and Goldberg have a big number one hit book, "Why Do Men Have Nipples?"

Also, Lisa Rein's Creative Commons-oriented show, Songs from the Commons delves into the MGM vs, Grokster case. Says RU:

And we're excited by plans to make the RU Sirius Show into a massive, live video extravaganza, probably at the beginning of next year. We're looking for volunteers for both audio and video production.