Professor blasts colleagues on DHS/Little Red Book hoax

Snip from Boston Globe story:
The head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale.

Following the student's admission Friday that it was a hoax, Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department, said UMass should punish the student and faculty members, in particular two history professors who repeated the unsubstantiated assertion of the history student to a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter.

(...) ''It's unbelievable that this student is not being suspended for a semester," wrote Barrow, who said he does not know the student's identity. ''It's even more unbelievable that the faculty who jumped the gun on this story and actively promoted it on campus, the Internet, and blogs will walk away from their misconduct without any consequences."

Link to story, and here is previous Boing Boing coverage.

As one eloquent BB buddy put it earlier this week, "There's already enough weird stuff going on in America right now -- it's not like anyone needs to make shit up." Read the rest

16-year-old studies journalism, then runs away to Iraq alone

Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old high school student from Florida, took a class on "immersion journalism" and was inspired to run away to Baghdad without telling his parents. Link (Thanks, Martin) Read the rest

"Bloody Mary" resurrected: censored South Park hits P2P

The South Park episode killed by Comedy Central this week after Catholic groups complained has ascended to BitTorrent heaven: Link. (Thanks, Cody).

Defamer has more on the story: Link.

Previously on Boing Boing: Comedy Central downs "Bloody Mary": South Park episode yanked

Reader comment: Todd Jackson says,

Comedy Central does take comments from viewers. If you disagree with the Catholic League, you might want to write in: Link.
Reader comment: Todd Jackson says,
Here's the Catholic League gloating about the recent South Park pulling, commending Comedy Central for pulling the episode and then calling the creators of the episode "bigots." Link.
Read the rest

And now, we pause for a Bladerunner origami unicorn moment

There's been entirely too much talk of goatse on Boing Boing lately. Here's an eBay auction to cleanse the palate: Link to "Blade Runner UNICORN ORIGAMI."

(Disclaimer: this blog post is not an endorsement for said auction. If you drop Hamiltons on it, you do so at your own peril). (Thanks, Jason) Read the rest

Xeni on NPR: 2005 Tech News Hall of Shame

On today's edition of the NPR News program "Day to Day," I spoke with host Farai Chideya about the most shameful moments in technology news this past year.

Many of those low points will be familar to Boing Boing readers: Yahoo's role in the imprisonment of Chinese journalist Shi Tao, the Sony rootkit debacle extended dance remix, and Apple versus bloggers, to name but three.

Link to segment details and archived audio, Link to Day to Day website. Previous "Xeni Tech" segments on NPR here.

See also Kevin Poulsen's terrific year-end roundup for Wired News, "Worst Tech Moments of 2005." Link. Read the rest

Excellent TiVo practical joke

Thomas Hawk says: "Google Video has a homemade video up done by a bunch of guys who played a practical joke on their friend. They basically TiVo'd the Texas lottery show and then bought a lottery ticket for their friend the next day and played it back like it was live. The guy goes nuts thinking that he just won the Texas lottery and screams and yells and jumps up and down and hugs everyone. Hey, if not to give you the high of winning the lottery at least once in your life, what are good friends for anyway?" Link (Caution -- lots of swear words are uttered in the video.) Read the rest

FAA releases space tourism regulations

Ladies and gentlemen, you are now free to float around the cabin. Snip from AP story:
More than 120 pages of proposed rules, released by the government Thursday, regulate the future of space tourism. This don't-forget list touches on everything from passenger medical standards to preflight training for the crew.

Before taking a trip that literally is out of this world, companies would be required to inform the "space flight participant" – known in more earthly settings as simply a passenger – of the risks. Passengers also would be required to provide written consent before boarding a vehicle for takeoff.

Legislation signed a year ago by President Bush and designed to help the space industry flourish prohibits the Federal Aviation Administration from issuing safety regulations for passengers and crew for eight years, unless specific design features or operating practices cause a serious or fatal injury.

Link to full text of news story. The document released by the FAA today includes a mandate that physical exams be recommended but not required, and a requirement that all passengers receive emergency training. Here's a PDF link, and a final set of regulations is expected in late June, 2006. (Thanks, Jeff) Read the rest

Toilet bowl cleaner looks like a windsurfer

Owners of toilets in Germany have cause to celebrate -- they can go to the store and buy a little guy who rides the circular waves of their commode, spreading good smells to all who enter the bathroom. Link Read the rest

"22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11"

Wall Street Journal has a story on a recent Harris poll revealing that "about 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11." And 41% believe "Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda." It would have been interesting to ask these people if they think the sun goes around the earth and compare their answers to people who think Hussein didn't have strong links to Al Qaeda. Link Read the rest

Carousel Goatse

This is probably unintentional, but it brings to mind the most famous disgusting photo on the net. Link (more recent Goatse here) (thanks, Tom!)

Reader comment: Hamish Grant says: "That character on the amusement park carousel is Obelix, best friend of Asterix, the beloved cartoon character from Belgium, drawn by Goscinny & Uderzo.

"Obelix is typically seen carrying a large menhir stone (thus his name = Obelisk), which he manufactures and sells from his quarry near the village of invincible Gauls.

"The pose the carousel character is in suggests Obelix's typical presentation and I guess the intent was to have the riders be 'carried' by Obelix in place of his menhir. We have been conditioned by goatse to see something different!"

Reader comment: Andy says: "Yes I know there is far, far more important stuff in the world to worry about than this, but Obelix is French, not Belgian. Not only that, but Asterix, Obelix, their druid Getafix (I kid you not), Chief Vitalstatistix et al are such beloved symbols of French nationalism that you translocate them at your peril."

"Tin Tin is Belgian (written and illustrated by Herge), and indeed 'Asterix in Belgium' is easily one of the best of the Gallic warrior's excursions round Europe, but the chap himself is as French as they come.

"Oh, and thanks but no thanks for reminding me about that picture again. If I could edit one thing out of my memory..." Read the rest

When opened, iPod box contains slab of meat

Here's an infuriatingly-sparse-on-details story about a woman in Hawaii who bought an iPod for her son for Christmas. When the boy opened the box, it did not contain an iPod as expected, but a piece of "mystery meat." Link (thanks, Consumatron!) Read the rest

"Outlandish" Tacoma, WA house due for demolition

A county judge in Tacoma, WA has declared Vladmimir Deriugin Jr.'s crazy-looking house to be a danger, and has ordered it to be repaired or demolished. (More photos here.)
The late-1880s-era house, which Deriugin dreamed of encasing in concrete and using as the core for a 500-foot office and condominium tower, will be torn down within the next couple of months, Deriugin said.

“I’m not going to get my cost out of it,” he said.

Deriugin, 52, estimates he’s invested $2 million worth of time in “research and development” over the years.

Link (thanks, Kevin!) Read the rest

NSA stops using web cookies on after privacy protests

Snip from AP story:
The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.

The files, known as cookies, disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the agency, which is on the defensive over reports of an eavesdropping program.

"Considering the surveillance power the N.S.A. has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."

Until Tuesday, the N.S.A. site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035. Don Weber, an agency spokesman, said in a statement yesterday that the use of the so-called persistent cookies resulted from a recent software upgrade.


Previously on Boing Boing

Eyeing web tracking bugs at Read the rest

NSA Echelon Facility at Yakima, Washington

Boing Boing reader Stricky says,

Here is the Google Maps reference of the Yakima Echelon station, twin to the Sugar Grove facility mentioned in the earlier Boing Boing post, and here are aerial photos: Link one, Link two.

Profile of NSA "listening post" for communications spying. Note: aerial photographs of the Sugar Grove NSA facility referenced in that post came from, which moved the images off-site earlier this week. Then, the site to which they were relocated went offline. is back online, but the Sugar Grove images are not.

Reader comment: Tony says,

Here are some more photos from the Echelon spy network, including some of the site here in New Zealand at Waihopai -- Link. Nicky Hagar also wrote a book about NZ's role in the network in 1996 -- Link.
Reader comment: Anonymous says,
There's a facility much like the one pictured, just outside Sacramento, California. Google Map's photos of the region are all super low res (Link) but TerraServer is a bit clearer (if black and white) -- Link
Read the rest

RIP: Joe Owades, biochemist who invented "lite" beer

The inventor of "lite" beer, Joe Owades, died in Sonoma, California, on December 16 at age 86.
Owades was an American biochemist whose chief area of interest originally had been cholesterol. In the early 1950s, however, when work was hard to come by, he took a post first with a laboratory specialising in fermentation science and later one with Rheingold, then among the largest breweries in New York.

Beer is made by the fermentation of sugars obtained from various grains, principally barley. Owades realised that it could be made to feel less heavy on the stomach if many of the excess carbohydrates produced by the brewing process were removed.

Link Read the rest

Presidential porno-protest posters proliferate in Austria

Art spoof posters that depict Britain's Queen Elizabeth shagging the presidents of the U.S. and France have been (snort) erected throughout Vienna. They popped up just days before Austria is scheduled to take over the EU presidency, much to the embarassment of government officials. Coverage of this odd story in the US has so far been devoid of images -- but trust Boing Boing to stoop where real news organizations will not. Austria's equivalent of the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is said to have funded the campaign. Here are a few shots on Idealog, and the whole series is available as a torrent here. (Thanks, Sean, and Idealog)

Reader comment: Christopher Granade says,

According to Raw Story, these posters have been removed from Vienna bilboards. From the story, "Austrian media reported that the offending images were yanked yesterday – just a day after they started flashing at motorists – on personal orders of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel. A woman answering the telephone at the chancellor's public information department who refused to identify herself said she could not confirm the report."
Read the rest

Tale of the tortoise and the hippo

A year after they first met, Owen, the baby hippo that survived last December's Tsunami, and Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise are still best pals. They live together at the Haller Park preserve in Mombasa, Kenya. From
Bereaved by the forces of nature and discovered by wildlife rangers near certain death in the Indian Ocean off Malindi, the one-year-old male hippo calf dubbed Owen was on 27 December 2004 placed in Haller Park, a wildlife sanctuary in the coastal city of Mombassa, Kenya. As soon as he was placed in his enclosure, the orphaned youngster immediately ran to the giant tortoise also housed in that space. The tortoise, named Mzee (Swahili for "old man") and estimated to be between 100 and 130 years old, was not immediately taken with the brash newcomer – he turned and hissed, forcing the hippo to back away. Yet Owen persisted in following the tortoise around the park (and even into a pool), and within days the pair had forged a friendship, eating and sleeping together. Owen has even been seen to lick the tortoise, whom he regards as his new mother. (Wildlife workers speculated that Owen may have been attracted to Mzee as a parental figure because the tortoise's shape and color are similar to those of an adult hippopotamus.) Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)
This week, children's book publisher Scholastic has announced the publication of a book based on their tale. "Owen and Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" was co-written by Craig Hatkoff, his seven-year-old daughter Isabella, and Dr. Read the rest

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