Boing Boing 

Street art at Chernobyl site

"Radiating Places" is an archive of photographs documenting street art in the abandoned town of Pripyat, near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Shown here, a mural by Kim Köster. "The determining factor is absence," begins the artists' mission statement. Link (site built in Flash), via Wooster Collective (Thanks, Reverse Cowgirl!)

Reader comment: Daniel Cuthbert -- who just returned from Pripyat -- says,

Just wanted you to know, it seems that 70% of these "images" are fake and have been added using photoshop. They werent there 5 weeks ago when i was in Pripyat doing my story.
BoingBoing reader Laura says that's not the case:
This extensive Flickr set by Ellen Datlow includes photos of street art captured during a tour of Chernobyl and Pripyat: Link.

US pays for 150 clinics in Iraq, but only manages to build 20

Snip from a story by James Glanz in today's NYT:
A $243 million program led by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build 150 health care clinics in Iraq has in some cases produced little more than empty shells of crumbling concrete and shattered bricks cemented together into uneven walls, two reports by a federal oversight office have found.

The reports, released yesterday, detail a close inspection of five of the clinics in the northern city of Kirkuk as well as a sweeping audit of the entire program, which began in March 2004 as a heavily promoted effort to improve health care for ordinary Iraqis. The reports say that none of the five clinics in Kirkuk and only 20 of the original 150 across the country will be completed without new financing.

reg-free Link. See also: Rebuilding of Iraqi Pipeline as Disaster Waiting to Happen , and The Iraqi Pipeline Fiasco.

BBS splash banners from the '80s and early '90s

At Penguin Pete's blog, a newly uploaded archive of ASCII and ANSI banners from ye olde bulletin board days. Parts one, two, three, four, five, and six. (Thanks, Hosiah!)

Free music: 1961 synthesized speech audio, remixed.

Enterprising remixer Lee Govatos has transformed that 1961 Bell Labs proto-computer voice into a funky freestyle track. Link to "He Saw The Cat."

And here are recently-uploaded liner notes from the 45-year-old found flexidisc: Link. (thanks, Andrew Tonkin)

Previously: 1961 record of computer speaking and singing

Video: Mexican police shoot striking miners in Michoacan

BoingBoing reader Daniel Armando says,
This is a video of Mexican police shooting at striking miners in Michoacan, Mexico.

The footage is from last Thursday, when the State Police and a Federal agency tried to throw the miners out of the plant they were occupying. In the video you can see the police shooting at the striking miners and an helicopter flying around the site also shooting at the people on the ground. The shooting was apparently done by the State police, but the federal agents did not intervene. Mexico's attorney general has declared that the federal government wil not investigate. Two young miners, ages 19 and 24 named Mario Alberto Castillo y Hector Alvarez were killed by shotgun wounds.

The miners at the Sicartsa plant in Michoacan, Mexico owned by Grupo Villacero, have been on strike for close to 20 days now. They want, among other things, better safety conditions after the widely reported collapse of a mine in the north of Mexico on February 19. The accident was said to have been caused by poor safety conditions.

The footage is being streamed in the website of mainstream newspaper El Universal. I had to do a screen capture of this video because the source website was using shockwave to stream it.


Reader comment: inspector42 says,

I guess the recent shooting of two striking mine workers in Mexico demonstrates that their employer, Grupo Villacero, certainly can "mix it up with the best of them", as described on the company's Yahoo Finance page: Link.

Feds claim privilege in attempt to dismiss EFF domestic wiretap suit

Ryan Singel, co-editor of Wired's new 27BStroke6 blog, says:
The Federal Government stepped in today and told a federal judge that national security secrets are at stake in the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawsuit that alleges AT&T helped the government spy on citizens without warrants.

The government wants the suit dismissed, but does not admit that AT&T did indeed build secret spying rooms.

Link to blog post. A PDF copy of the 8-page government motion filed Friday night is here, along with the EFF's response. (Thanks, Vidiot)

Today in DC: large Darfur rally

Drew says, "Today between 3rd and 4th streets in front of the Capitol in Washington D.C. there is a rally to protest the ongoing violence in Darfur, and to pressure the Bush administration to take action. Speakers at the rally will include Barak Obama, Elie Wiesel, Paul Rusesabagina, and George Clooney. Link."

Image: a phonecam snapshot from the rally, uploaded a few minutes ago by Flickr user dchasteen.

Update: Here's an AP story on the demonstration: Link.

Neil Young streams new anti-war album for free online

Neil Young's new record "Living With War" was made available Friday for streaming in entirety online. Link. (thanks, Benjamin)

Canadian user rights petition tabled in Parliament

Russell sez, "A batch of signatures for the Petition for Users' Rights in Canadian Copyright were tabled on April 25, 2006. This is the first batch tabled in this recently elected parliament, which will mean we will now get a response from the new Conservative government. It is critically important that Canadians make use of this petition to ensure that parliamentarians know their views. The Digital Copyright Canada forum also has a form letter on our front page for Canadians to send to their Members of Parliament." Link (Thanks, Ruseell!)

Firefox plugin lets you download YouTube, Google and other vids

Javi sez, "I've just created this firefox add-on: VideoDownloader. It allows you to download videos from Youtube, Google, Metacafe, iFilm, Dailymotion... and other 60+ video sites ! And all embedded objects on a webpage (movies, mp3s, flash, quicktime, etc)! Directly! Just one click! You don't need to copy&paste URLs any more!" Link (Thanks, Javi!)

Animal costumes made from ski-gloves, flippers, tights, etc

This gallery of photos of homemade animal costumes showcases how the ingenious use of stockings, tennis-balls, sleeping bags, ski-gloves, tennis-racket covers and other commonplace items can produce striking and amusing animal disguises. Link Link to creator's site (Thanks, Gsch!)

Cory's "Shadow of the Mothaship" podcast begins

I've just posted part one of the podcast of my story "Shadow of the Mothaship," a strange, stylised Scientology/Alien-Invasion/Oedipus story. Link to part one, Link to podcast feed

Stephen Colbert kicks ass at White House press corps dinner

Stephen Colbert's routine at last night's White House Press Corps dinner sounds like one of those perfect moments of comedy and commentary -- someone, find me a transcript!
Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, "and reality has a well-known liberal bias."

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. "This administration is soaring, not sinking," he said. "They are re-arranging the deck chairs--on the Hindenburg."

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the "Rocky" movies, always getting punched in the face--"and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world."

Link (Thanks, Stefan!)

Update: Thanks to Butter71 for links to the transcript and video! w00t!

Update 2: Here's a high-quality torrent of the video.

Update 3: Youtube mirror (Thanks, Jon!)

Update 4: Alternative Quicktime link, Quicktime of Colbert's "audition reel" (Thanks, Krup!)

Cinema owners try to lure us back to the movies

Cinema owners are freaking out over plummeting attendance. For me, going to the movies has stopped being nearly as much fun because of the crummy movies, the door-searches, the camera-confiscations, the nonstop advertising, security guards scanning the audience with infrared goggles, and especially the dumb anti-piracy nag-PSAs (hint to cinema industry: if I'm spending £13 to get into the cinema, I'm not a pirate, I'm a customer).

They propose to fix this by jamming cell-phones and creating nicer auditoriums. This seems like a pretty ineffectual band-aid to me. Better movies, fewer ads, eliminating invasive searches, infrared scanning, and no insulting pre-film notices would go a lot further to luring me back into the dark.

The mantra at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood is ``ease, comfort and control.'' Besides reserved seating, the 15-screen complex has online ticketing and 21-Plus Screenings, where, if you're 21, you can bring alcohol into the theater.

``People complain about sticky floors, dirty bathrooms and zombie staff,'' said the ArcLight's Robert Brugeman. ``To get their attention, you have to offer a premium product.''

Theater owners are also taking aim at cell-phone users. NATO has made solving the cell-phone problem a ``high priority'' and is looking into jamming cell-phone signals.

Link (via Digg)

Update: Brian sez:

One particularly good theatre that has had no trouble luring me back again and again has been the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin - and why other theatre owners worldwide haven't hit upon it's recipe for success, I don't know.

The Drafthouse, first of all, bans children except for special events. Each seat comes with a table area where you have a full restaraunt selection (including beer & wine) and you can order before or during the movie using order cards. The cost is roughly the same as you'd get at a diner, and you can get a burger and fries with drink for the same price you'd pay for a popcorn, twizzler & drink at othe theatres.

And that's just for the "regular" movies that anyone else shows. They also show strange, odd indie films, host film festivals (right now, QT fest for Quentin Tarantino Fest is being held where Tarantino chooses his favorite movies) they have silent movies with live accompanyment, they have Videoke (Karaoke but with acting!) and they have two big shows: The Sinus Show (a live performance similar to but for trademark purposes completely different from Mystery Science Theatre 3000) and Foleyvision, where the sound to the movie is turned off and all voice acting, sound effects, and music are performed live in the theatre.

In short, it's a movie theatre that has all but seen the studios as inconsequential to the product it sells - which is entertainment. They get their biggest sellers - and biggest crowds - running old 80s films and having three local live actors in the studio heckling them. If they needed to, they could still run the place on public domain footage.

Update 2: Peter sez, "The St. Louis Cinema company owns three theaters in the area, featuring a cry-baby matinée. A designated time and day when children are allowed.

Their third theater, the Moolah, is an old Moolah/Shriners temple that was converted into a cinema/bowling alley (in the basement, decorated with full 50's bowling decor). In the theater are a few regular cinema seats, lining the walls and filling the balcony seating. The main seating area, however, is filled with soft leather couches and love-seats, equipped with coffee tables... all this in a historic moolah temple with original decor. ie: an inlayed decorative dome in the ceiling with soft, color-changing lights."

"A full bar is on premises and drink specials are often fit with certain films. (like $2 white russians when they re-screened the Big Lebowski)"

Update 3: Nim sez, "Oregon's McMenamin brothers have, over the years, bought up old hotels, schools, and even an old insane asylum and converted them into excellent combinations of restaurants, breweries, hotels, and movie theaters. All their locations feature McMenamins beer, often brewed on site."

Smithsonian's sellout to Showtime slammed by Congress

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has written a letter to the Secretary of the Smithsonian, blasting the museum for inking a secret deal with Showtime to make the network the sole commercial user of Smithsonian footage in documentary films:
The Subcommittee requests the Board of Regents to immediately review this contract to determine whether it violates the spirit if not the letter of the Smithsonian Trust and to consider changes to the contract which would fully guarantee that its terms are limited to a narrow set of programs and not a bar to other legitimate commercial filmmakers who we believe have the right to reasonable access to the collections and staff. The Subcommittee requests that this matter be brought to the attention of the Board of Regents at its May 2006 meeting and that a response be provided to the Committee regarding these concerns within 90 days.

In addition to our concern about this particular contract, we would be concerned about any future agreements that are negotiated in secret, without Committee consultation, which commercialize Smithsonian resources or which appear to essentially sell access to Smithsonian resources. While the Committee recognizes that budget shortfalls, in particular the need for funds to repair and maintain an aging infrastructure, require the Smithsonian to be aggressive and imaginative in its fund raising, these actions are often controversial and raise the risk of damaging both Congressional and public support for the Institution.

Link, Link to WashPo article mentioned in letter (Thanks, Carl!)

Manuals for hundreds of consumer electronics items links to hundreds of PDF manuals for consumer electronics from air conditioners to VCRs -- great for lost manuals and garage-sale scores. Link (via Gizmodo)

Wallaby milk: proof against antibiotic resistant bacteria

Milk from lactating wallabies is effective in combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria:
A newborn wallaby lacks a developed immune system and relies on compounds in its mother's milk to protect it against diseases.

Ben Cocks, of the Victoria Department of Primary Industries, in Melbourne, said: "A huge amount of development happens in the pouch, and during that time they just rely on milk." The molecule, called AGG01, also kills other types of bacteria and fungus.

Link (via Futurismic)

HOWTO mount a Pez dispenser on a camera's hot-shoe

A simple mod: trim the base of a standard Pez dispenser and it'll fit in the "hot shoe" clip on top of your high-end camera -- great for kids photographers or anyone who wants a sugar-storage unit integrated with her Nikon. Link (via Make Blog)

Copyright-progressive Canadian musicians event May 1 in Toronto -- UPDATED

The Canadian Music Creators Coalition -- major artists who are demanding that record labsls stop suing their fans and locking them down with DRM-crippled music -- are holding a public event at Toronto's Horseshoe tavern on May 1:
Where: The Horseshoe Tavern,
370 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario
When: Monday, May 1, 2006. 10:30 am – 12 noon
To RSVP, or receive further information about the event, please contact
Link (Thanks, Thomas!)

Update: Keith from CMCC sez, "Unfortunately, the event Monday is a press conference and not a public forum, concert or anything of the like. We appreciate everyone's support, but we'd like to keep tomorrow's press conference to accredited media only (makes it easier for us to organize). We'll hopefully have some sort of public event(s) when the initial push to meet with the Ministers is over."

Sales brochures for extinct computers - Univac, Wang, Apple ///

The Computer History Museum has published a collection of 261 sales brochures for extinct computers, from the Univac to the Apple /// and lots of assorted Wangs, Zilogs, Bendixes and others. These are lovely and fascinating. Link (Thanks, Xavier!)

Documentary on radical free school - inspiring

This YouTube video is the trailer for a documentary called "Voices from the New American Schoolhouse," which chronicles the radical education practiced at the Fairhaven School in Upper Marlboro, MD. Fairhaven appears to be a classical free-school, in which kids self-govern, design their own curriculum, and tutor their peers. I went to publicly funded schools like this from grade four to graduation, and they were the most important factor in the way I conduct my own adult life. Attending schools like this teaches many kids to run their own lives, blazing their own trail, inventing their own careers, and trying anything. Useful skills in a world where any job that can be described is likely to be outsourced.

The documentary is narrated principally by the school's bright, well-spoken students, who are eloquent and passionate advocates for open education. Link (Thanks, Danny!)

Update: Mike adds, You can buy the full length version of 'Voices from the New American Schoolhouse' at the Fairhaven website."

Sony screwing artists out of iTunes royalties, customers out of first-sale

Sony musicians including Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers are suing the record label for screwing them out of their royalties on sales of music on iTunes and other digital music services.

At issue is whether the music sold through these services is a "license" or a "sale." Sony pays less to its artists for sales than for licensing (Sony artists reportedly earn $0.045 for each $0.99 song sold on iTunes). Naturally, Sony claims that the songs sold on iTunes are sales and not licensing deals.

This is where it gets interesting. As Brad Templeton and others have pointed out, Sony and others have long maintained that what you get when you buy an iTune is a license, not ownership of a product. That license prohibits you from doing all kinds of otherwise lawful things, like selling your music to a used-record store, loaning it to a friend, or playing it on someone else's program.

But if Sony says that it's selling products (and therefore only liable for 4.5 cents in royalties to its artists) and not licenses, then how can it bind us, its customers, to licensing terms?

According to the suit, the record company is treating digital downloads like traditional record sales, rather than licensed music, triggering a different royalty deal.

Under that old rubrik, the record company deducts fees for the kind of extra costs they used to incur when records were pressed on vinyl, including packaging charges, restocking costs and losses due to breakage.

Link (via /.)

Last ninja speaks: "Always be able to kill your students"

Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi is the last living apprentice of the last "fighting ninja," Toshitsugu Takamatsu. At 76, he continues to train would-be ninjas, and the AP's Hans Greimel spent a day at his studio, collecting ninja wisdom like "Always be able to kill your students."
In many ways, the curly-haired, wide-eyed Hatsumi has been a victim of success: He has helped make ninja an international household name by training followers from Chile to South Africa. But he also has watched his legacy co-opted by goofy caricatures such as "Mutant Ninja Turtles" and schlocky Hollywood send-ups like "Beverly Hills Ninja."

"I think it's pathetic," Hatsumi says of the ninja's modern image.

Link (via /.)

Update: M Otis Beard sez, "Did you know there is a documentary film about Toshitsugu Takamatsu, with Masaaki Hatsumi in it as well?  It's a Japanese film, the title in English is "Takamatsu Toshitsugu, the Last Real Ninja".  It's based upon a black-and-white movie filmed in the '60s that shows Takamatsu Sensei teaching Hatsumi Sensei in a park. Takamatsu Sensei demonstrates unarmed techniques and weapon techniques from the nine schools, with comments in Japanese (subtitled in English) by Hatsumi Sensei. "

Dirty snitches earn $50 for fingering fellow students smoking pot

420 Snitchees Doug says: "Every year on 4/20, students and residents gather on Farrand Field at CU Boulder to defy the authorities and smoke marijuana publicly. This year, the University of Boulder Police Department fought back by taking pictures of as many participants as possible. They have a website with photos up, offering an $50 reward to anyone who positively identifies someone who was photographed. Nothing about what the authorities plan to do with the information is posted. Scary." Link

Phil Torrone plays with new Logitech Orbit webcam

Picture 1-10 Phillip Torrone of Make made a video showing off the funny things you can do with Logitech's Orbit webcam. Link

Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights con, May 26-28

James Hughes, author of the remarkable book Citizen Cyborg is chairing a conference called "Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights" at Stanford on May 26-28. Hughes is with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and argues eloquently for the need for social institutions to support human enhancement technologies to ensure that they make all peoples' lives better, rather than widening the gap between rich and poor. This looks like a fascinating conference.
What, if any, limits should be considered to human enhancement? On what grounds can citizens be prevented from modifying their own genes or brains? How far should reproductive rights be extended? Might enhancement reduce the diversity of humanity in the name of optimal health? Or, conversely, might enhancements inspire such an unprecedented diversity of human beings that they strain the limits of liberal tolerance and social solidarity? Can we exercise full freedom of thought if we can't exercise control over our own brains using safe, available technologies? Can we ensure that enhancement technologies are safe and equitably distributed? When are regulatory efforts simply covert, illiberal value judgments?

Between the ideological extremes of absolute prohibition and total laissez-faire that dominate popular discussions of human enhancement there are many competing agendas, hopes and fears. How can the language of human rights guide us in framing the critical issues? How will enhancement technologies transform the demands we make of human rights?

With the Human Enhancement and Human Rights conference we seek to begin a conversation with the human rights community, bioethicists, legal scholars, and political activists about the relationship of enhancement technologies to human rights, cognitive liberty and bodily autonomy. It is time to begin the defense of human rights in the era of human enhancement.


Robot Lego CD thrower can shatter discs

Hammerhead is a robotic Lego CD thrower that can hurl CDs hard enough to shatter them. It even has an auto-loader so you don't have to get up from the sofa to change the CD. Link (Thanks, Jake!)

Pagan Island -- trailer for 1961 schlock movie

Picture 1-9 I love the urgency in the narrator's voice-over for this 1961 B-movie Pagan Island: "Seaman William Stanton -- who has drifted in an open liferaft for nine days without much food or water after his tanker caught fire an exploded finds himself shipwrecked on a small uncharted south sea island! He finds to his amazement it is inhabited only by BEAUTIFUL NATIVE GIRLS!"Link (via Yesbutnobutyes)

Video: "C for Cookie," Sesame Street spoof of "V for Vendetta"

A spoof of the V for Vendetta trailer, recast with Sesame Street characters. A for Awesome. Link (Thanks, Ash)

DHS visitor tracking chief calls for global ID system

Snip from story by Jonathan Marino:
The head of the Homeland Security Department's visitor tracking program on Tuesday called for the creation of a "global ID management system" to make travel easier while enhancing security...

[Jim] Williams said he wants to join forces with several DHS agencies to develop a global identification system that would cut wait times, reduce government fees for travelers, fight illegal immigration and, perhaps paramount, better defend nations from terrorists.

The US VISIT chief, who already oversees identity inquiries for nearly every visitor who enters the United States, said a worldwide identification system will better link nations in the fight against terrorism. In his speech, he likened al Qaeda operatives and sleeper cells - including the ones that attacked on 9/11 - to "submarines" that must surface to kill.

Link, via the Politech mailing list. More background on RealID here.