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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.

Link.

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 MinimumSecurity.net:
 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 Framasoft.net 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

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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

Usgs
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 lessemf.com's line of anti-electromagnetic steel clothing. T-shirts, aprons, fashionable scarves, and bedsheets (dramatized at left, image courtesy lessemf.com). 

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 2Spare.com'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.