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eBaya obscura: "Sex Rituals in Black Magic," 1934

BoingBoing reader Danjite says,

Things one finds randomly on E-Bay. It's 1934 -- The (First) Depression Era -- the focus is on practicality, keeping fed and restimulating the economy. At least one printer was doing their share, producing this lovely, really, really attractive, Practical Guide to Sex Rituals in Black Magic. Heavily illustrated, of course, it contains such intriguing chapter headings as: "The Black Mass and it''s Orgies", "Werewolves and Vampires", "Christianity and Sexual Magic", "Incubii and Sucubii" and about a dozen others. All this in purple print and with a gold-stamped purple cover. Yum, sayeth the bibliophile!

Reader comment: JJ Merelo says,

Some of the pictures in that book seemed familiar to me, at least the ones featured in the last 3 snapshots. And yes, they are part of the "Caprichos" series of engravings by Goya. Check out this one, for instance. I think most of them can be seen in the Prado museum, but I'm not sure.
Edward says,
Abebooks has copies starting at $20.00 if you are not seeking a rare copy.

200 ways to fight DRM this Tuesday

DefectiveByDesign's Peter Brown writes in with "Zuned" -- a sticker-designed produced for October 3, the International Day Against DRM.

There are over 200 projects proposed for the Anti-DRM Day, from Free DRM-Free movie downloads to encouraging French citizens to continue turning themselves into the police for violating France's barbaric new DRM law.

I got all fired up after reading an article about ZUNE and talking to one of my cohorts about it. What do you think of these? I took my favorite iteration of an imprisoned DefectiveByDesign stick figure you use and applied it to a few different layouts - Amy

Zune, I understand, is pronounced F*** when written in Hebrew. It seems that when you transfer a music file from one Zune to another, that file will get deleted after 3 days/plays - even if what you transfer is licensed under creative commons...

That seems pretty f***** to me.

Link (Thanks, Peter!)

Ansari back from space, which smells like burnt almond cookie

The Expedition 13 crew have returned from the International Space Station to Earth -- specifically, the dry steppes of Kazakhstan, where they landed Thursday night local time in a Soyuz TMA 8 spacecraft. No word on whether Borat was around to welcome them home.

In the NASA image above, from left: Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist, who accompanied Expedition 13 crew members Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Jeff Williams.

Just a few minutes before this photo was taken, they were extracted from their Soyuz capsule after landing on the home planet.

Expedition 13 was up there for six months, and a NASA report says their tasks included ..."the arrival of two space shuttle missions, resumption of construction of the orbiting laboratory and the restoration of a three-member crew."

They'll now spend a few weeks in Star City, near Moscow, for debriefing and medical exams.

Ansari ascended to the ISS with the crew of Expedition 14, and spent eight days there. Her trip was arranged through the Russian Federal Space Agency.

BoingBoing reader John Parres recaps Ansari's Awesome Adventure:

On September 18, Russians launched a Soyuz supply ship carrying a replacement ISS crew and the first female private space explorer, Iranian-American telecommunications entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, from the very same pad used 45 years ago to launch the first man into space - Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961.

Ms. Ansari is the first female Muslim to view the Earth from weightlessness. (Prince Sultan ibn Salman ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz Al Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia was the first Arab, the first Muslim and the first member of royalty in space on Discovery in 1986 1985).

In 2004 Ms. Ansari and another relative put up the title sponsorship of the $10 million reward for the winner of the Ansari X Prize aimed at encouraging the development of a privately built, reusable spaceship which which SpaceShipOne achieved in October 2004.

Anousheh Ansari maintained a space blog during her trip.

Correction: John Schwartz, who writes about this stuff for an obscure little website called the New York Times, says: "Oops. it's 1985 on flight STS-51G. January 1986 Challenger, STS-51L, fell apart during ascent, and there were no other flights that year... next one was sept. '88."

Below, a close-up of Ansari just after landing in Kazakhstan, and a snip from one of her blog entries:

The time went by really slowly, but finally the moment arrived and they were ready to open the hatch. Mike and Misha called me closer and told me to take a good whiff because this would be the first time I would smell “SPACE.”

They said it is a very unique smell. As they pulled the hatch open on the Soyuz side, I smelled “SPACE.” It was strange… kind of like burned almond cookie. I said to them, “It smells like cooking” and they both looked at me like I was crazy and exclaimed:”Cooking!”

I said, “Yes… sort of like something is burning… I don’t know it is hard to explain…”

(Thanks to the many BB readers who wrote in, including Ali and Avi)

Update: BoingBoing reader Ivan Reyes says, "Borat was actually on the flight. See photo below."

Click for full image.

Reader comment: Jennifer Saylor says,

Anousheh Ansari isn't the first to describe outer space as smelling like something burnt. In a 2001 "Fresh Air" interview, NASA astronaut Capt. Jerry Linenger describes the smell of space this way:
Flying into MIR, it smells sort of like dirty sweat socks in a guys’ locker room. Actual smell of space, though, that’s a very interesting question. When we would open a hatch, for example, that was exposed to the vacuum of space, uh, there’s always a double hatch, and so you open the one hatch, you now have the pure smell of space. And it’s a uh, tough – you know, any aroma is tough to describe, but it has a distinct smell, and it’s sort of a burned-out, uh, after-the-fire, the next-morning-in-your-fireplace sort of smell. And that’s the real smell of the vacuum of space.
The interview: Link.
Karrie says,
Couldn't help but point out that NASA published a short article speculating on why moondust smells the way it does... Kinda related to the 'smell of space' mentioned in today's article. Link.

Update: This just in -- a snapshot from on board the ISS. Why did Ansari say space smells like burnt almond cookies? Clearly, they were cruising the Cookie Monster Nebula.

Suspicious Looking Device exists to incite unease

The Suspicious Looking Device is a bright orange box with a countdown timer on the top. If you touch it, it lets out a loud siren and then scoots away on a set of hidden wheels. Its entire purpose is to look suspicious -- it has no other function. Link (via Digg)

HOWTO make elephant-shit paper

This photo-essay explains the process by while paper is made from dried elephant shit:
1. collecting the elephant dung
2. wash dung and boil for 5 hours
3. to bleach
4. spin dung to cut fibres for up to 3 hours and add colour
5. weigh out into equal weight balls
6. sift evenly into frames
7. dry in the sun
8. sanding to a smooth surface
9. assembly of products
Link (via Make)

Polished wood PC chassis

Suissa Computers hand-builds PCs out of polished woods and plastics in form factors that are utterly unlike the standard PC shapes. Link (via Make)

War on Moisture in the Onion

The Onion does a masterful job on the War on Moisture in its man-on-the-street interviews:
Alex Hunter,

"The ban was a necessary precaution. We have to be willing to make these kinds of sacrifices if we're going to prevent scientifically impossible terrorist attacks."

Link (via Ian!)

Giving Kiosks: ATMs for church donations

Seen here is a Giving Kiosk, essentially an ATM a POS for church donations. Pastor Marty Baker of Stevens Creek Community Church in Augusta, Georgia invented the machine so that members of his congregation only need to swipe their bank cards to fill the church coffers. They're so popular with Baker's congregation that he and his wife founded a company, SecureGive, to sell Giving Kiosks to other houses of worship. From the Los Angeles Times:
 Images Kiosk The kiosks can let donors identify their gift as a regular tithe or offering, or direct it to building or missionary funds. The machines send information about the donation to a central church computer system, which shoots the donors an e-mail confirmation.

The Bakers charge between $2,000 and $5,000 for the kiosks, which come in a variety of configurations. They also collect a monthly subscription fee of up to $49.95 for licensing and support. And a card-processing company gets 1.9% of each transaction; a small cut of that fee goes to SecureGive.

So far, seven other congregations have installed or ordered the machines. All of them are Protestant, and most are in the South. If the idea takes off and makes the Bakers rich, Patty says they will thank the Lord – and give a significant sum to their church...

At Stevens Creek, volunteers such as Jeff Asselin still pass around the wooden-handled collection bag. But Asselin said it is considerably lighter these days – although some people who donate at the kiosk drop their receipts in the bag as a vestige of the old ways.

"The Bible talks about bringing your offerings to the church, and they like the feeling of dropping their offering in the plate," Patty Baker said. "And we also believe that your offering is part of worship, so that's how they participate."
Link to LA Times article, Link to Secure Give (Thanks, Jason Tester!)

Make an electronic noisemaker and more at Machine Project LA

I've been to Machine Project in Echo Park a couple of times, and fell in love it. It's hard to describe what it is exactly, but if you can imagine a cross between an art gallery and an electronics lab and a classroom that's housed in a funky little storefront building with a hole in the floor that you can peer through to gaze upon a glowing unicorn skeleton, you'll get a fair idea of what the place is like. And it's run by one of the nicest technology-and-art geeks I've ever met, Mark Allen.

I think there's still time to sign up for two one-day workshops being offered.

200609291641 This weekend (Saturday September 30th) Machine Director Mark Allen will be teaching a one day workshop entitled "A build your own noise thing workshop spectacular". This be focused on using 555 timers to make square wave oscillators. We’ve done this one before and it’s a good time. $65. More information and registration here.

Then, starting next weekend (oct 7th), we have a four week class called "Spooky Projects - Introduction to Microcontrollers with Aurdino" taught by the illustrious Tod E Kurt. If we had known that Tod engineered the hardware and software for robotic camera systems that went to Mars (as well as possessing degrees in physics and electrical engineering from Occidental and Caltech) we would have been too shy to ask him to teach this class. But we didn’t know. $285 (materials included). More information and registration here.

Registration is now open and as usual we expect these classes will fill quickly. We hope that you can join us for one or both of these nerdfests.


Natural history models made from glass

 Media Item 3876 -1 21 4Lg
In the 19th century, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka created thousands of incredible scientifically-accurate models of plants, flowers, and marine animals from glass. Their work is in collections all over the world with a large collection of the botanical sculptures held at the Harvard Botanical Museum, as featured in the book The Glass Flowers at Harvard.

This weekend is the Dublin Blaschka Congress celebrating the couple's marvelous work with a series of events and presentations. The conference coincides with the opening of a large exhibition of Blaschka models at the National Museum of Ireland (Natural History) running until the end of the year. (Seen here, "Argonauta Argo" and "Physalia Arethusa" from the National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff.) From an online exhibition of their work titled "The Glass Aquarium" at the London Design Museum's site:
 Media Item 3879 -1 21 7Lg-1 At a time when the public was entranced by the bizarre plants unearthed by explorers and by the splendidly surreal creatures discovered beneath the sea (since the invention of the submarine and deep sea diving kit in the mid-1800s) the Blaschkas offered a glimpse into those exotic worlds...

Leopold and Rudolf began the process of creating their replicas by making highly detailed drawings: many of which are now archived in the Rakow Library at the Corning Museum of Glass in the US. Their techniques and equipment were fairly basic. Each exquisitely intricate model was made by fusing or gluing clear and coloured pieces of glass using a combination of glass blowing and lamp working. Tentacles and gills were attatched on fine copper wires and, where necessary, paper and wax were used too.

The Blaschkas were equally meticulous in the way their approach to decoration. The translucence of jellyfish was replicated by using finely speckled layers of pigment usually on the underside of the glass. Thicker coats of paint, sometimes mixed with powdered glass, were used to depict thicker skin or textured surfaces. Although they both worked on every apsect of their replicas, Leopold tended to prefer working with the larger pieces of glass and to concentrate on assemby; while Rudolf enjoyed the fine details of intricate work and did more of the painting and decoration...

Even in their own era, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka resisted conventional definitions and described themselves as “natural history artisans”. As for their work, it was hailed at the time as: “an artistic marvel in the field of science and a scientific marvel in the field of art.”
Link to Blaschka Congress, Link to more images at the Design Museum London (via Kircher Society)

Torture bill haiku poem

MadKane writes:
The Constitution
Was cast aside by Congress.
Hideous corpus!

EFF: 24 Hours to Stop Wiretapping Bills Before the Election

Derek Slater from the EFF says,
We've got 24 hours to stop the NSA wiretapping bills in the Senate and let cases like EFF's lawsuit against AT&T proceed in the traditional court system. Worse still, now some of your Congressional representatives are trying to sneak a dangerous surveillance proposal into the Port Security Bill. If your representative is on the list in this post, call them IMMEDIATELY to oppose the NSA spying program.

The amendment is so bad, I'll let it speak for itself: "no action, claim, or proceeding shall lie or be maintained in any court ... against any person for an activity arising from or relating to the provision to an element of the intelligence community of any information ... in connection with any alleged communications intelligence program that the Attorney General or a designee of the Attorney General certifies, in a manner consistent with the protection of State secrets, is, was, or would be intended to protect the United States from a terrorist attack. This section shall apply to all actions, claims, or proceedings pending on or after the effective date of this Act."


Graffito warning from 1597: "play here and die"

Make editor and publisher Dale Dougherty recently took this photo. He says:
Oldgraffito (Click on thumbnail for enlargement)

Here's some graffiti from the alley-side wall of a church in Dubrovnik.

In Latin, it reads: Pax Vobis Memento Mori Qui Ludentis Pilla. (1597) (My photo cuts off "mori".)

Translated it means: Peace be with you. Remember that you will die, you who play here.

Presumably it's a warning to those who play in the alley, perhaps from someone at the church.

Guide to contemporary California cults

On his new blog, 10 Zen Monkeys, RU Sirius has a fun piece about creepy California cults, ones not examined in Erik Davis' new book The Visionary State: A Journey Through California's Spiritual Landscape. My favorite is the Helzer Brothers' group called "Transform America"
The Helzer Brothers’ activities were a tawdry and pallid expression of Manson family values. After being excommunicated from the Mormon Church for taking drugs, Glenn Helzer, from Contra Costa County (a San Francisco suburb) decided to form a self-awareness group to stop Satan and hasten the return of Jesus. He got himself two members, his own brother Justin and a young woman named Dawn Goldman. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Glenn Helzer’s plans “included a bizarre plot to train Brazilian orphans to slaughter the leaders of the Mormon Church so he could become its prophet; and ‘Transform America,’ a self-help group to foster ‘a state of peace and joy.’”

In order to raise money, the Helzer’s sold ecstasy and Glenn got his onetime girlfriend, Keri Mendoza, to pose for Playboy. (She appeared as Kerissa Fare, Miss September 2000). But when drugs and sex didn’t produce enough money fast enough, Helzer’s mind turned towards robbery and murder. The group extorted $100,000 from an elderly couple, Ivan and Annette Stineman, and then killed them, returning the next day to dismember them. (Peace and joy can be such hard work!)

Helzer next planned to incorporate his friend, Selina Bishop (daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop) into his plot by getting her to cash the check. But he decided that she knew too much, so he and his brother bludgeoned her to death and then eviscerated her body. Fearing that Bishop’s stepfather and mother would finger him as a suspect in the murder of their daughter, Helzer dispatched them the following day. On August 7, 2000 the three conspirators were arrested. Glenn Helzer received five death sentences. Brother Justin got only one and Dawn Godman was sentenced to 38 years-to-life.


RU Sirius interviews Erik Davis

The RU Sirius Show drops two fine podcasts on us this week. There's an interview with Erik Davis about his trippy and marvelous book, Visionary State: A Journey Through California's Spiritual Landscape. And then there's a conversation with the people behind a new film, American Hardcore, which is about the unrelenting 1980s hardcore punk rock scene. Link

Stoned professor videos resurface online

Earlier this week, I posted links to videos of a University of Florida professor delivering a very loopy lecture to business school students -- apparently, while really really really high. We're told he was subsequently fired. I don't know the story behind the videos (perhaps he was using marijuana or some other medication to treat a serious illness), but they do make for very interesting viewing. UF pulled them from their webserver, but a number of BB readers who've become fans of the Apparently Baked Professor's delivery style have pointed us to new locations.

Many links follow, but this first one is all you need. Trust me. GS says,

Like any good BoingBoinger, I snatched the WMVs early yesterday before UofF took them down so I could put together a little highlight reel: Link.
Tom says,
Here is a torrent of the baked professor video.
Shawn says:
I saw your call for mirrors so here's what I could do for the effort. I don't have tons of bandwidth but hopefully some others can grab them and mirror from this link. These are the original WMV files in all their 640 x 320 x Baked glory. Your readers will want to do a "Save As" rather than stream them (probably). Enjoy!
Brendon says,
The video appears to be available at google video: Link.
And on a sad note, Joakim says:
I was checking the videos from the week before the famed lecture and, in one he's talking about how he would be screwed if the university decided to lay him off. Around 23:44 in the video. Kinda ironic.
Many more mirrors for video files after the jump.

Read the rest

Interview with a Starbucks obsessive maniac

A 34-year-old programmer named Winter (he legally changed his name from Rafael Antonio Lozano this year) has made it his life's mission to drink a cup of coffee at every Starbucks on the planet. There are over 12,000 Starbucks -- new ones open daily -- and he has visited over 6,000 so far. He's worn a Starbucks shirt every day since October 2001.

Radar has a fascinating interview with him.

200609291022 The primary rule is I have to drink at least one four-ounce sample of caffeinated coffee from each store. The store has to have actually opened for business; I can't get there the day before, when they have friends-and-family day and they're giving drinks away—in many ways that's kind of arbitrary. It has to be a company-owned store, not a licensed store. I have to drink the coffee, but there is no time limit on when I have to drink the coffee. But the longer I go without drinking it, the greater the risk that I might lose it. There are two stores I need to go back to in Washington State because I didn't finish the coffee—I lost it. I took it out of the store, I had it in a cup, and in the middle of the night I forgot I hadn't drank it all and I used the cup to relieve myself.

The day you hit 29 stores, what were the side effects?
Well, pretty early on I started developing a headache, I started feeling jittery. Later, because of all the liquid I drank, I started feeling bloated. Just looking at the little cup of coffee made me nauseated.

How many total ounces did you drink that day?
One hundred and four ounces and three shots of espresso. It hurt. And I lost an hour when my jeans ripped in the crotch while I was leaping up to a stone ledge to take a photo—so I had to stop at a mall to buy a pair of jeans. Toward the end of the day there were times when I felt like I was going to hurl, and I really didn't want to because I don't have a rule in place for what happens if I vomit. Would I have to go back to the store and drink the coffee? I probably would. So I definitely wanted to avoid vomiting.


Handmade wooden "cellphones" from Mozambique

Peter sez, "I saw these beautiful wooden handmade Nokia, 'Philips', and best of all, 'Scony' cellphones in Pemba, Mozambique. I feel like a total jerk because I was so intent on getting a picture for Boing Boing that I forgot to buy one."

Reminds me of these wooden mobile-phone bottle-openers I spotted in a market in Helsinki.

Link (Thanks, Peter!)

Disneyland parking structure repeatedly robbed at gunpoint

The Disneyland parking-structure toll-booth has been robbed at gunpoint twice in the past two weeks:
Two unidentified men drove up in a dark-colored Porsche at about 3:50 p.m. Tuesday. One man got out of the car, walked up to the toll booth and demanded all the money in the cash box. A weapon was seen by the attendant but never pointed. The man was given the money, returned to the vehicle and drove off very quickly, said Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez.

On Sept. 19, a man in a light-colored vehicle, possibly a Toyota Camry, drove up to a different toll booth at about 2:30 p.m. The man got out of the car, asked for the money, flashed a gun, received the money and drove off, Martinez said.

Link (via The Disney Blog)

Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick - Chocolate Chip Flavor!

Jimmy Dean Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick - Chocolate Chip Flavor! I get fatter just looking at a picture of the box. !, indeed. Link (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

HOWTO: Make a bat-person costume out of an old umbrella

This bat costume is a dead clever way of recycling a broken black umbrella. Link (via Make Blog)

Ragnar's "Maltese Chimp" as a sculpture set

Picture 4-10 Electric Tiki's sculpture of Ragnar's "Maltese Chimp" is a faithful 3D rendition of the original drawing. Link (Via TimeDragon)

Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV song parody

Picture 3-16 Asylum Street Spankers have an excellent parody rendition of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," called "Stick Magnetic Ribbons on your SUV." (Not safe for work)

Sample lyrics:

"Oh Stick magnetic ribbons on your SUV, keep your apathy and get off scot free. If I don't see a ribbon on that SUV, I'll call you a red, wish you were dead, and put the blame on weed, if I don't see a ribbon on that SUV. Please don't send me to Iran and I sure don't wanna see Afghanistan. Any day now I could be another grunt sporting a stump, so buy another ribbon while you're paying at the pump." Link

Kid Sphere Hotel in Belgium

Picture 2-16
The Atomium is a giant model of an iron molecule built for the 1958 World's Fair in Belgium. It re-opened this year as the Kid Sphere Hotel and it looks amazing. Link (Thanks, Jessica!)

Reader comment:

Wendy says:

I'm a Belgian, I live in Brussels, and I am a huge fan of this building (we were able to do one of the last parties in the then not yet renovated top ball :-).

Just passing by it once a week makes me smile again and again :-)

If you're ever in Brussels, go visit it...

It's only of of the balls which has the kids hotel - this is what the atomium site has to say about it: -- An area specifically for children and school groups.

This area will occupy a whole sphere and will be used for lessons in urban life. The idea, an original concept from the Spanish artist Alicia Framis, that they should be able to sleepover has also been incorporated as part of an educational trip.

General site. For the rest all the balls have different functions and there is a restaurant in the top ball.

American Airlines bans in-flight kissing

A gay couple flying from Paris to JFK on American Airlines were told by the crew and purser that they weren't allowed to touch or kiss each other. When they questioned this, the captain came out of the cockpit and threatened to divert the plane. American Airlines says this was all according to procedure, because kissing of any kind isn't allowed on AA flights.
Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. "The purser wants you to stop that," she said.

"I opened my eyes and was, like, 'Stop what?' " Varnier recalled the other day.

"The touching and the kissing," the stewardess said, before walking away.

Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. "He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We'd kiss--not kiss kiss, just mwah," Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound.

Link (Thanks, Doran!)

HOWTO make retractable metal Wolverine claws

This is a hell of a costume -- a set of retractable galvanized metal Wolverine claws. Lethally cool.
The next step was to mount the claws to a ball-bearing track that could be hooked to the back of Nate's forearm. The track was created from a sliding keyboard tray. The slider on the track was modified to be much shorter, and use only 8 ball bearings. Bolts were put through the slider on the track and then some galvanized metal was bent and hack-sawed to make the right shape for attaching the first claw. This required drilling holes through each galvanized metal pience and matching holes in the first claw. Once the first claw was fitted to the track, 2 other claws were then drilled to match the first, and 3" and 3.5" bolts were used with nuts, split washers, washers, and locking nuts to to space the claws apart and keep them tightly affixed to each other and subsequently to the track. Once this was complete, screws were added through the bottom of the track so that the slider could not slide out of the track (to avoid killing innocent bystanders). Pictured above the the fully extended claws on the track.
Link (via Make Blog)

Accessory turn signals from the 20s and 30s

Before the late 1940s, automobile turn signals were an after-market item. At the Automotive Addictions blog, Bobby Green displays a wide variety of amazing accessory turn signals from the 20s and 30s that came in all kinds of cool shapes and styles.
Turnpoint Mine4 Mine6
From his post:
As necessity is the mother of all invention, you can only imagine how many model T's and A's smashed into each other due to the lack of information form one driver to another as to which direction you were about to suddenly go. Of course everyone could use hand signals, but you can imagine how many people actually did, I mean,... what if it's raining ?.. are you gonna roll down your window and stick your arm out of the car every time you want to turn? Probably not.
Link (via Coop's Positive Ape Index)

HOWTO make a "Kip Hawley is an idiot" Freedom Baggie is a site devoted to helping travelers express their dissatisfaction with the TSA's security theater war on moisture.

This week, a traveller in Milwaukee was detained and then booked as a threat to the nation for writing [TSA director] Kip Hawley is an idiot on the "liquids" baggie at the airport. gives you instructions for making your own "freedom baggie" with your opinion of the TSA chief.

I flew from SFO to LAX yesterday morning, and was robbed at gunpoint by a TSA agent, who stole my cologne, face-wash, and moisturizer. She said that my moisture baggie could only contain vessels of 3 oz or less' worth of moisture. I pointed out that all these vessels did have less than 3 oz' worth of moist substances in them, as they were all half-empty, and she said yes, but the vessels were capable of holding more than 3 oz. Apparently, the risk is that a hair-gel bomber will take to the skies, and use a syringe to refill the tube of face-scrub through its tiny little aperture, somehow mixing some kind of moisture-bomb in the plastic tube without melting it. Apparently, liquids acquire magical explosive properties when they are in quantities of more than 3 oz.

A TSA supervisor took me aside and asked me why I was so upset. I said that my family left the Soviet Union to escape arbitrary authority, and the seizure of property by the state. She suggested that I send in a report to the TSA complaining, and I laughed and asked her how many of those people get added to the No-Fly List.

Of course, this is all a hollow joke. The risk of someone mixing a binary hair-gel explosive has been dismissed by chemists as a near-zero. Meanwhile, as points out, "air cargo is not screened and there is still no point-to-point baggage matching." Link (Thanks, Bill!)

British Library, Council take on Creative Commons and DRM

Adam sez, "Counterpoint is a think tank, sponsored by the partially government-funded British Council. Today (29th Sept) they're publishing a Creative Commons-licensed ebook by Rosemary Bechler (Contributing Editor to openDemocracy) bringing together thoughts on new approaches to copyright and cultural commons. It's aimed at policy-makers without a background in copyright issues, so starts from the basics, introducing RMS, CC etc. but quickly brings lots of threads together in a fascinating way. A great read for smart politicians or journalists."
The first generation of Creative Commons is not the Utopian world of Romantic authentic exchange that Carlyle thought money had destroyed. But it draws on the same insight. It turns out that what makes for success is not whether money is exchanged or whether laws are challenged. What makes cultural commons thinking the basis of a gathering social movement worldwide, is the perception that it is the mutually enabling relationship that matters most. These licences make it easier to share. Those whose innovating energy have begun to transform the centre from the edge – who we might think of as the new authors – are people who have understood this. And they are also its beneficiaries.

Whether you look at a mature movement such as the open source software movement, or emergent groups, such as the free culture movement or the scientists’ movement for open publication, these people are intent on creating a domain of open cultural sharing, somewhere where all can be creative together. An Open Business40 project, too, has a quality that is hard to pin down, from the perspective either of law or of economics. It recognises that the same transaction could at one and the same time be a commodity, a gift and a public service – as long as the common culture, the enabling relationship, is intact.

At the same time, the British Library has published "Intellectual Property, a Balance: The British Library Manifesto" that is also very good, constituting a comprehensive set of reforms to British copyright law that would keep the BL in a position to go on being the guardian of UK culture.

I like this one quite a lot, but am skeptical of the clause on Digital Rights Management, which says that DRM should be allowed, provided that it doesn't undermine "fair dealing" (the UK equivalent of fair use). The problem is that DRM inevitably undermines fair dealing, since fair dealing includes exemptions for scholarship, criticism, parody, etc. There's no DRM software invented yet that can tell the difference between a pirate and a parodist -- indeed, sometimes it takes the Supreme Court or the Law Lords to state defintiively whether a work is a parody or just a ripoff. Can a DRM simulate the Supreme Court and figure out, a priori, whether they'd rule that this use was fair?

Libraries should be allowed to make copies of sound and film recordings to ensure they can be preserved for posterity in the future.

Currently the law does not permit copying of sound and film items for preservation. Without the right to make copies, the UK is losing a large part of its recorded culture.

â–  The British Library Sound Archive is one of the largest archives of music in the world with over a million discs, 185,000 tapes and holdings of every other medium upon which sound can be recorded. â–  As the Library is not able to make copies of items, many original audio and film formats we hold are becoming increasingly more fragile and require the urgent creation of a preservation surrogates or face irretrievable decay.

We recommend that copying for preservation purposes is extended to all copyrightable works as is the case in many other countries.

Link to Counterpoint report, Link to British Library report

(Thanks, Adam and others!)

Ceramics decorated with crawly critters

I'm quite taken with Laura Zindel's simple ceramic housewares, decorated as they are with line-art of crawly critters in the style of Victorian naturalist illustration. Link (via Geisha Asobi)