Boing Boing 

HK lawmaker: Yahoo unit had role in Shi Tao's jailing

Hong Kong legislator Albert Ho today released a document which is said to be a copy of the criminal verdict for reporter Shi Tao. The journalist received a ten year prison sentence from a Chinese court for "leaking state secrets."
"Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided materials that confirmed the user's information," the document said.

The document appeared to contradict early comments by Yahoo, which said evidence used to convict the journalist was provided by Yahoo's unit in China to comply with the mainland's laws.

Those standards are more restrictive than those in Hong Kong, a former British colony that has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula since it returned to China in 1997. The territory prides itself on having an independent rule of law and international business and privacy standards.

Link to AP story. Via Forbes today, news that Shi Tao's family is considering legal action against Yahoo:
Zhang Yu, representing the family of Shi Tao, said they were considering taking Yahoo Hong Kong Holdings to court either here or in the United States.

'We believe what (Yahoo) did was illegal so we are considering taking Yahoo to court,' Zhang told reporters, adding that Yahoo had refused to discuss the matter with him.


Learn how to knit a cute animal at the Maker Faire

 Blog Jesshutch GeorgeThe Maker Faire is taking place at the San Mateo county fairgrounds on April 22 and 23 (that's a Saturday and Sunday). We are going to have many many exhibits and workshops. Here's one — well known crafter Jess Hutch is going to teach you how to knit this little critter named George. Find out more on Jess's website.
Link(via Make blog)

Comic with anti-abortion Senator's phone number on eBay

Last week, Cory posted a comic strip that my old friend Stephanie McMillan drew featuring the phone numbers of anti-abortion senator Bill Napoli. (Link to the comic.) Stephanie is now auctioning off the cartoon on eBay with the proceeds going to help keep abortion safe and legal in South Dakota. With five days left, the current bid is $600. From
 Images Askbilltoon
I will donate 100% of the winning bid, after I receive it, to two places, half of the amount going to each:

1) Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and

2) Sacred Choices, the women's reproductive health clinic planned by Oglala Sioux Tribe President Cecilia Fire Thunder, to be built on sovereign tribal land at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and which would not be subject to US law. Stephanie is also selling prints of the cartoon with most of the dough going to the clinics.
Link to eBay auction, Link to Stephanie's Minimum Security site

Anti-DRM flashmob hits Paris CD superstore

A group of technology activists staged an anti-DRM flashmob/protest in a large Paris music-shop yesterday. The group is called STOPDRM, a created by members of the forum, where free software enthusiasts gather.

The activists went to FNAC, a giant record store, and at 7PM, a whistle was blown, whereupon the whole group unfolded anti-DRM signs saying things like "STOP DRM" "SAY NO TO RESTRICTED CDs" "YOU OWN THE MUSIC YOU BUY" and began to hand out leaflets explaining the dangers of DRM to other patrons. After they were all kicked out, they set up an anti-DRM information picket in front of the story. Link to video, Link to photos, Link to STOPDRM (Thanks, Jeremie!)

Remote control Gigantor kit costs $3,000

A Japanese company has announced that it will begin selling a remote control robot kit based on Gigantor (or Tetsu-jin 28, as it's called in Japan). The 15-inch tall work of art will cost $3,000. Cartoon Brew has more details. Link

Simulations of 1906 California earthquake

The United States Geological Survey launched an amazing Web site where you can watch simulations of the big shake that rocked the San Francisco Bay Area in 1906. From the project overview:
To better understand the distribution of shaking and damage that accompanied the great 1906 earthquake, seismologists have constructed new computer models to recreate the ground motions. The simulations show how ground moved on the two sides of the San Andreas fault and how seismic waves radiated away from the fault to produce the shaking. The earthquake, which began 2 miles offshore from the City of San Francisco, ultimately grew to cause shaking and damage along more than 300 miles of the San Andreas Fault.
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

Mutant panda hybrid toys: Hanpanda

Remember that crazy viral clip from 2004, where the female aerobics instructor is surrounded by dancing poodles? The woman who created and starred in that video (which was titled "ex-Fat Girl") is Japanese artist Nagi Noda. She has a new book out, and a new project: HANPANDA, a line of acid-pop, half-panda, half-other-creature hybrid furries. If you're in Paris, you may want to swing by the Colete boutique for her in-store appearance (mit Hanpandas) on Monday, April 3rd. Link.

Previously: Poodle-robics video.

Reader comment: John Morley says,

The Nagi Noda Hanpandas were also featured in the video for "Baby Blue" by the excellent Japanese girl pop/hip-hop band Halcali. Link.

Cory's on holidays until April 12, email after April 13, ok?

I'm going on holidays until April 12, and probably won't have any Internet connectivity for the whole time (yay!). If you want to say something to me, email me on April 13 or later! Send Boing Boing suggestions, as always, to the suggest-a-site form.

How logistics of Britain's national ID card will screw Britons

The UK is steaming towards a "National Information Registry" -- one big database of everyone's personal information, tied to biometric IDs. This system won't fight terrorism, but it will compromise the privacy of British people. What's more, the system will be impossible to implement, resulting in widespread harm to people who get screwed by the errors it generates.

This remarkable post details some of the impossible logistics of deploying the "NIR" and talks about the likely fallout of these failings. If you want to fight the NIR, join NO2ID, the national campaign to stop it.

So adding it all up, from NIR Day 1 for ten years you've got to keep processing people at the rate of 50 per hour at every centre, or one every 72 seconds, each of whom requires a scan of the whole central NIR to avoid multiple registrations, so the database has to be up and accessible every minute of the day to avoid delay.

In the early days it's a nailed on certainty that we'll get failures, resulting in potentially hundreds of people making pointless journeys (say it's down for an hour during a particular day - that's 50 people at each centre having their time wasted, a total of 3500 people). I have no idea of the MTBF for major government IT projects, and they almost certainly won't tell me on the usual 'commercial confidentiality' grounds. What I can do is provide some figures based on possible percentage reliability and estimate the number of people inconvenienced per year and the kind of reliability that would be required *from day one* to stop the scheme sliding into chaos.

Link (via Charlie)

Deep and surprising "origins of leetspeek" Wikipedia article

The Wikipedia entry on "leetspeak" -- a simple substitution code that is part of hacker/SMS/IM jargon -- is amazingly complete and full of fun facts:
It is widely believed that the expression "kekeke" comes from Korean players of StarCraft. It is an onomonopoetic Korean phrase similar to the English "hahaha", Spanish "jajaja" or Japanese "huhuhu", and is meant to express laughter. It is often used in-game as an expression of exhultation or as a form of mockery. Commonly, it is associated with a simple Starcraft tactic that involves massing a large number of units and using them to rush an enemy base before an opponent is sufficiently prepared to defend. This is often called a Zerg Rush, after the Starcraft faction for whom the tactic was created. The phrase "OMG Zerg Rush! kekeke!!" is sometimes used outside of the game to indicate any form of overwhelming or swarming force.
Link (via Kottke)

Design of New Orleans' new levees flunks FEMA standards

The levees that the Army Corps of Engineers is currently building in New Orleans do not meet FEMA standards, reports John Schwartz in today's NYT:

New Orleans's levees do not meet the standards that the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires for its flood protection program, federal officials said yesterday — and they added that the problem would take as much as $6 billion to fix.

FEMA has long based its flood planning on whether an area is protected against a flood that might have a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year, also known as a 100-year flood. Without that certification, the agency's flood maps have to treat the entire levee system as if it were not there at all, which means that people hoping to build in the affected areas might have to rebuild their homes at elevations of 15 or even 30 feet above sea level in order to meet new federal building standards.

But since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the agency has toughened its 100-year standard, based on new information about land subsidence and the increasing severity and frequency of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. There is also new data about weak soils in the area and the failure of some of the city's floodwalls.

registration-free Link.

Here are some related, recent stories filed by John Schwartz from New Orleans, including:
- Engineers' Panel Urges Study of All Levees in New Orleans
- Museums Roll Again, but Where Are All the People?

Image: New Orleans in stereoscope. "The Levee," from a photoset of historic stereographs of New Orleans uploaded by Max Sparber.

MP3s from "Economics of Open Content" conference

Last month's excellent "Economics of Open Content" conference in Boston has published the audio of all its sessions online as MP3s. Speakers included James "Wisdom of Crowds" Surowiecki, Yochai "Coase's Penguin" Benkler, Terry Fisher, Henry Jenkins and others!
Collaboration and the Marketplace
New Models of Creative Production in the Digital Age
Keynote Address: Openness as an Ethos
The Wealth of Networks
The Economics of Knowledge as a Public Good
The Economics of Open Courseware
The Economics of Open Text
Convergence Culture: Consumer Participation and the Economics of Mass Media
The Economics of the Music Industry
If Only We Knew Yesterday What We Know Today
The Economics of Open Archives, Museums, and Libraries I
The Economics of Open Archives, Museums, and Libraries II
The Economics of the Public Domain
The Economics of Film and Television I
The Economics of Film and Television II
The New Economics of Gaming
Everything is Miscellaneous
Business Interests in Open Content
Next Steps: Cooperation Across Institutions and Industries
Link (Thanks, Heather!)

Nevermind tinfoil beanies, here's the anti-deathray shirts

When you tire of wearing wadded-up aluminium foil on your head, check out's line of anti-electromagnetic steel clothing. T-shirts, aprons, fashionable scarves, and bedsheets (dramatized at left, image courtesy 

Don't try sneaking any of it through airport screening lines, though. Via Bruce Sterling, who asks, "I wonder what happens when you drop that shirt in an acid bath. Are you left with NOTHING BUT the stainless steel fibers? What does that look like?"

Problems with predictions

At the Institute for the Future where I'm a researcher, we always say that the future is impossible to predict. The good news is, you don't have to. It's better to focus on foresight. In a draft chapter of a forthcoming book, my colleague Bob Johansen writes:
Foresight is a particularly good way to stimulate insights. While prediction is impossible, provocation is easy. Insights arise from differences: different ideas, different angles, and different moods. If insights were obvious, everyone would be having them. What new development might be created–given the external future forces that are at play? This is a search for “Aha’s!” It is a search for insights, a search for coherence in the midst of confusion.
With that in mind, here are a few excerpts from's "Top 87 Bad Predictions about the Future":
• "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad."--The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903.

• "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."--Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.

• "Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous."--Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1939.

• "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."--A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).
Link (via Neatorama)

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Dsamsil who points out that Olson's quote was apparently taken out of context. Link

Anti-war, pro-cuteness tshirt: Kittens Not Bombs

BoingBoing reader Felix says,
I came across the BoingBoing 'drop shadows not bombs' post today, and it made me think of this shirt i printed a few months ago. It's nice to think of what would happen if we chose to drop kittens, not bombs. People would be too happy, too joyful to send their crazy young men at us with airplanes and exploding shoes.
Link to shop -- no direct link to this design, unfortunately, it's thumbnailed on the right-hand sidebar.

Reader comment: Jerry Yeti says,

Your "Kittens Not Bombs" post and link reminds me of the "Cupcakes not Bombs" shirts that Urban Outfitters stole from Johnny Cupcakes: Link.

Sister of held Chinese blogger Hao Wu blogs on detention

Rebecca MacKinnon of Global Voices says,

Nina Wu, the sister of detained filmmaker and Global Voices contributor Hao Wu, has now started a blog on MSN Spaces. It includes a photo gallery of “Haozi” as the family calls him. Even if you don’t know Chinese, leave her a comment in English and let her know your support for Hao.

Thanks to a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous, we have a full translation of her first post. She includes an update on her latest visit to the police. It is a chilling account of what it’s like to be the family member of a Chinese person who has been detained without charge.

Image: From the Wu family's archives, a self-portrait snapshot taken by Hao Wu some months ago, and posted online by his sister Nina. Link to English translation of Nina Wu's blog post. Bloggers who support Hao are adding these badges to their sites.

Previously: Blogger, documentarian Hao Wu held one month

Update: here's an English translation of Nina's latest post. Snip:

When I got up today my eyes were swollen into two big walnuts. I had to wear sunglasses out.

Luckily, it was bright outside, and the sun felt good on my body. I squinted and looked at the sky. The Beijing sky is much worse than Shanghai’s, but I remembered how I used to rise early and return late. When did I last have time to look up at the sky? I shouldn’t be too demanding.

There was a din along Dawang road where the old houses were being demolished. Remembering the innumerable times my little brother walked among the noisy mass of people, I felt close to him again. I greedily looked over every street peddler, every pile of rubble.

Brother, are you lucky enough to see this bright and beautiful day? Do you know that your sister is walking on the same street you walked on so many times before? When I thought that he may be locked in a dark room, without any view or news of the outside world, my mood darkened too.

Dale Dougherty on playwright Charles Mee

BB pal and MAKE: editor/publisher Dale Dougherty just emailed me this excellent commentary on a play he recently saw:
"There is no such thing as an original play," writes the playwright Charles Mee, who has the text of his plays online at "Please feel free to take the plays from this website and use them freely as a resource for your own work." He encourages others to "pillage his plays" as he has done to the work of other playwrights.

Last week, I saw "Hotel Cassiopeia" by Charles Mee, which was part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play was about the American collage artist, Joseph Cornell, a man who lived for most of his life in his parents' house in Queens, caring for a disabled sibling, and never having an an intimate relationship of his own. The play itself was more about the mind of the artist than the life of the artist, however. In this production, when you walk into the theatre, the actor playing Cornell is already on stage, sitting at a desk with his head in his hands. "Hotel Cassiopeia" is ornate and dream-like, without much of a plot. Real and imagined characters enter, old Hollywood movies are played on the wall and objects are retrieved and added to Cornell's collection in the drawers of his desk. He wonders whether anything he does has any meaning and is worth doing. He has a certain love of finding and keeping things, which seem as real to him as any relationship might be. Cornell is talking about these things in reverie:

the little store nearby where you can find
star fish
butterflies in little boxes
and in the antiques store
the things from Asia
inlaid wood
a thousand little drawers

After the play, I found myself mulling it over, like a dream, strange and beautiful. I went to the Web to look up more information about Joseph Cornell and the play itself. I was delighted to find Mee's website, "The (re)making Project", with the full text of the play (and all of his plays.) Intentionally or not, Mee's thoughts about his own work seem to echo the ideas of Open Source and Creative Commons, viewing his own work as something to be remixed by others.

Jasmina Tesanovic: Scorpions Trial, Day 3

Jasmina Tesanovic, Belgrade
Scorpions Srebrenica Trial
Day Three: March 15, 2006
The Tin Soldier

I repeat, we should not mix anymore. This is not healthy, it is perverse, it is sickening: my gay friend, a Woman In Black, is looking at the Scorpion witness today and saying: he is so cute...

In his early thirties, dressed in a fancy suit, with an upright muscled body, he lies at full speed. His voice is scarcely audible, so that his contradictions cannot be followed. We, the audience, are huge today. Most of us are law students, led by their right wing professor from Belgrade law school, who thinks very well of the Scorpions, and very badly of all other ethnic communities on this territory. They are the clerico-fascist party in the government coalition; in the nineties, they used to be Milosevic's best allies, supporters of his troops such as Scorpions.

The "cute" witness was in his teens back then. Today he is obviously a professional criminal, blackmailed and pampered by his famous commander, who still makes them all tremble with his praises or scoldings.

Back then, the Tin Soldier was a war orphan, hired to drive a truck. A truck full of food-tins, he claims: food for the troop. Today he remembers nothing, or next to nothing, of names places deeds words. Not even one Name, not even one Place.

He has become a true geek, autistic and narrowly determined. He is a Tin Soldier, whose emptiness clanks like an empty tin, its contents eaten by Scorpions. He says he has no friends, no wife, just a boss whom he drives. The Tin Soldier needs no money for his expenses. He just wants to go. He says, many many times, as any answer to judge's questions; "everything is possible."

[image: Detail of interior house wall, Serbia, by Aleksandra Radonić]

Read the rest

Videoblogger's protest footage demanded by FBI

Josh Wolf says,

I'm a videoblogger and an independent journalist, and I  frequently cover protests and other civil unrest in San Francisco.

On July 8th, I shot a protest in the Mission during which a cop was injured in the course of an altercation. Later that week I was visited by the FBI and asked to hand over the unedited footage from that night.

After speaking to my lawyer I denied their request. A few months later, in the beginning of February I was subponead to appear before a Federal Grand Jury with the tape. On behalf of my pro-bono attorney's at the San Francisco National Lawyer's Guild (NLG), we have filed numerous motions in an attempt to quash the subpoena and a hearing to decide to quash the subpoena occured this morning. We are still awaiting the results of that hearing.

Link to a post on Josh's blog with video from the press conference. If I'm not mistaken, I believe this post contains some of the disputed footage from the July 8, 2005 protest.

Missing Byrne/Eno track "Qu'ran" appears on blogs

Following up on yesterday's post about the remixable re-release of David Byrne and Bryan Eno's masterpiece My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, reader Blake Leyh sez:

I have made the Eno/Byrne track "Qu'ran", referred to earlier as the missing track from "My Life In The Bush of Ghosts", available for download at my blog. Enjoy.

Mike points to another copy here.

And E.W. Brenner says,

here is a link of interest to people who are fond of the song "Qu'ran."
This was my favorite song on the record. I just bought my copy of the newly remastered album (which, for reasons cited in this blog post, does not include this track) here: Link.

Ralph Bakshi phone doodle gallery

200603310845 Stephen Worth says: "Today on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive Blog, I posted my collection of Ralph Bakshi phone doodles. I worked with Ralph on Cool World and on Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon. I'd regularly raid his trash for his amazing drawings; and when he figured out what was going on, he'd sign the sketches and inscribe them to me before throwing them away. Ralph is one of the most important animators who ever lived. Inbetween the images, I explain why."

Art made from Gocco printer for sale at The Wurst

Aaron Draplin Gocco ArtThe Wurst is selling art prints made on a Japanese silk screen printer called the Gocco. (Shown here: "Things We Love," by Aaron Draplin.)

Carla got me a Gocco printer for Christmas, and while I'm not nearly as talented as the artists at The Wurst, I'm having fun with device. It uses flashbulbs (like the kind found in old cameras) to expose your image onto the screen.

David Maisel's Library of Dust

Photographer David Maisel has documented the forgotten and unclaimed copper canisters containing the ashes of patients who died at a state-run psychiatric hospital, originally known as the Oregon State Insane Asylum, between 1883 and the 1970s. From the artist's statement:
What happens to our bodies when we die? Inside a dusty room in a decaying outbuilding on the grounds of a state-run psychiatric hospital are simple pine shelves lined three-deep with thousands of copper canisters...The copper canisters have a handmade quality; they are at turns burnished or dull; corrosion blooms wildly from the seams of many of the cans. Numbers are stamped into each lid; the lowest number is 01, and the highest is 5,118...

The project's title is "The Library of Dust". As I was setting up to photograph in a storage building that houses the cremated remains, prisoners from the local penitentiary were called in to clean up some of the mess in the adjacent hallway, crematorium, and autopsy room. A young male prisoner leaned into the room lined with the copper cans, scanned the room, and said in a low tone, "The library of dust.”
Link (via Mind Hacks)

Michael Eisner interviewing Bran Ferren on CNBC

Here's a video clip of former Disney chairman Michael Eisner interviewing uber-interesting former Imagineering head Bran Ferren, during the debut of Eisner's CNBC talk show (previous BB post). Unfortunately, to view the video you have to be using MSIE6, which cockblocks all Mac users and Windows users who've ditched IE for Firefox or Opera. Link (Thanks, Peggy)

Al Jazeera covers Pastafarianism, strippers, beer fountains.

What happens when worlds collide: The Arabic-language television network al Jazeera is running a story about Intelligent Design and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Link to English-language web feature for the broadcast segment.
(Thanks, grom)

Snakes on a Plane meets "Operation Divine Strake"

SOAP plus Operation Divine Strake =

Enough is enough! I've had it with these Strakes.

Whaddya gonna do about it? Strakes on a plain, baby. Strakes on a plain.

Ain't nothing you can do when it's Strakes on a motherfucking plain.

(Thanks, Gaijin Biker) .

On a more serious note, see also this post today on DefenseTech blog about Operation Divine Strake: Link. (thanks, Noah Shachtman.)

Previously: Snakes on a Plane meets Cory's angry letter to AA

Inventor of the Web's lecture on "The Future of the Web" MP3

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, gave a stirring speech at the Oxford Internet Institute that makes subjects related to Internet freedom accessible to non-geeks and geeks alike. The audio is available as an MP3. Link Coral Cache Link to 70MB MP3 (Thanks, Rich!)

Dumb Aussie junkies mauled by stolen koala, so they tried a croc

Gnat sez, "Aussie thieves try to steal a koala to sell for drug money. They get 'scratched to shit'. So they turn to everyone's #2 redeemable-for-speed animal, the freshwater crocodile. Convict genes will out! This story is remarkable for the persistent, diligent, hard-working stupidity of the criminals and the genial bemused zookeeper." Link (Thanks, Gnat!)

Bird flu expected on US West Coast

Bird flu is expected to hit the US West Coast by this summer, California's Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshe said today. From Reuters:
(Officials) said some 60,000 birds, mostly waterfowl, would begin their migration south from Alaska in mid-August, working their way down through Oregon, Washington and into California. Although both coasts have set up monitoring systems for any signs of the avian virus "we expect there will be access (to the United States) through Alaska rather than upstate New York," said Ryan Broddrick, director of the California Department of Fish and Game. He did not elaborate.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt warned against panic when avian flu hits U.S. shores for the first time, saying it would not inevitably mean the start of a human pandemic...

But he warned states to lay the groundwork for possible human to human transmission. "There is clearly a lot of buzz (but) I worry there is not enough busy-ness," he said.

Mosquito eardrums and future microphones

Scientists at the University of Bristol are studying the "ears" of locusts, membranes that oscillate on the scale of nanometers. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.) They're also measuring the movements of mosquito antennae (seen here) in response to sound. According to the researchers, insights into insect hearing could someday lead to novel microphone technology inspired by nature. From a press release (photo by D. Robert):
 Images Release Graphics Bbsrc32806 1
Professor Daniel Robert is the research leader at Bristol: "We have found that different sound frequencies elicit very different mechanical responses in the locust hearing system. By studying these tiny nanoscale movements and understanding how sound waves are turned into mechanical responses we may be able to develop microphones based on the functions of natural hearing. These could detect very faint sounds and analyse their frequency, something that current microphones cannot pick up."