Boing Boing 

Arm-trapping fire-alarm immolates Samaritans

In 1938, Modern Mechanix magazine ran an article on a new design for a fire-alarm box. It had an arm-hold trap built in that held the alarm-puller in place until the fire department arrived -- the idea was to lock prank-alarm-pullers in place (of course, if you were dumb enough to pull an alarm during a fire, you were horribly trapped alive in the flames until you succumbed to immolation or asphyxiation).
THE sending of false fire alarms by mischievous persons may be eliminated through use of a newly developed call box. To use the device, the sender of an alarm must pass a hand through a special compartment to reach the signal dial. Once the dial has been turned, the sender’s hand is locked in the compartment until released by a fireman or policeman with a key.

Funny Internet meme gum

BlueQ sells a line of gum in funny, Internet-meme-y boxes, including one bearing the classic legend, "Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten." Link (via AccordionGuy)

New eBoy poster: FooBar

Those uncontested kings of pixel-based eye-candy, eBoy, have created an astoundingly beautiful new poster called FooBar, and it's an homage to all things webalicious. It's fun looking for your favorite Web brands (Boing Boing and Make are both in it!), and imagine the memories it will evoke when you look at it 20 years from now. Link dispatches from Guatemala

Chicken Bus of the Sky

A quick roundup of posts published to, while the electricity holds out. Howdy from what's probably the only internet connection in this part of the Petén jungle. I'm traveling in Guatemala for a month, working on a series of stories in various places here, and maintaining an online journal with quick notes (and video and photos) from the road.

Piñatas Encarcelados

* Chicken Bus of the Sky

* Volcán De Fuego

* Thousands of women protest wave of "femicides"

* Video: haciendo tortillas

* Guatemala and bandwidth policy reform

* 15 die in marketplace fire

* Murders of transgender/transvestite people on the rise

* Video: Marimba players

* Piñatas Encarceladas

* Mercado snapshot - 2 kids share an apple.

1960s TV commercial for V-RROOM! tricycle noise-maker

200611301015 Andrew says: "Until that Sixfinger TV commercial surfaces... thought you might be amused by this old spot for V-rroom, the motorcycle-noise simulator for bikes & trikes.

"I THINK I had one of these... I'm going to tell myself I did. (Giant Yoko shades sold separately.)" Link

Mimoco's designer USB drives

Picture 11-5 200611301010 Mimoco has a series of flash USB drives designed by artists. The one shown here is called "Monster" and was designed by Devilrobots in Tokyo. The 1 GB version is $79.95. For an extra $5, you can by a hoodie for it. Link

Barbie doll set comes with plastic dog crap

200611300941 Here's a Barbie doll toy set that comes with a dog that eats biscuits and then defecates. The photo seems to show that there is no difference between the biscuits and the dog crap. Link

Victoria and Albert drops reproduction charges

London's Victoria and Albert museum will allow scholarly magazines and books to reproduce the images in its collection free of charge, and is taking a wide view of what is "scholarly."

Much of the work in the V&A is in the public domain but many museums practice a weird perversion of copyright: they make you agree not to take (or sometimes publish) photos you take while in their halls as a condition of entry. Then they assert the bizarre claim that photos of their public domain collections are themselves new copyrighted works (even though the purpose of such a photo is to apply as little interpretation, art and creativity to the shot as possible) and charge the public a monopoly rent to reproduce the photos they've produced.

It's basically a giant racket to sell penny postcards and license fees for books. But this undermines the museum's core mission: to preserve and promote access to our shared cultural heritage. It's a form of curatorial treason -- betraying the museum's purpose to enrich its coffers.

The V&A has been a very progressive institution on this subject, generally speaking. The last time I visited, I was able to take photos with impunity -- except, bizarrely, in the gift shop (though I was allowed to stand outside of the gift shop, taking pictures of the interior).

In a move which could transform art publishing, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A) is to drop charges for the reproduction of images in scholarly books and magazines. Reproduction costs now often make it difficult to publish specialist art historical material. The new scheme will come into effect early next year.

The V&A is believed to be the first museum anywhere in the world which is to offer images free of copyright and administrative charges. It also intends to take a “liberal” view on what should be deemed scholarly or educational. The new arrangements will normally apply to all books published by university presses. Free images will also be available for exhibition catalogues and journals such as Apollo and The Burlington.

Link (Thanks, Matt!)

T-shirt says "I am a terrorist" in binary

This CafePress store sells t-shirts with offensive messages spelled out in "binary" (binary representations of ASCII characters, I'm guessing), including "Fuck Karl Rove," "Bomb, and "I am a Terrorist." Link

Update: Erik sez, "I'd get one with a truly random string of Characters on it. When asked what it says, I'd say "nothing, it's random ones and zeros." Which will mean, of course, I'll be thrown off the plane for having a shirt that says nothing meaningful whatsoever. What a lovely and useful precedent!"

Brits: sign the petition, save UK copyright

Attention Britons! Although the preliminary indications are good that UK copyright on records won't be extended to 95 years, the fight isn't over yet.

A leaked report from the Gowers Review -- an expert body that is making recommendations on new UK copyright -- suggests that Gowers will reject the idea that records produced in the past should get a fresh 45 years tacked onto their monopolies, a massive picking of the public pocket. Britain offered record labels a bargain: press a record, get 50 years of copyright. Now the labels are coming back and asking for nearly double that, and not just for the records they make tomorrow, but for the records they made yesterday, too.

There's no way the labels will take this lying down. We must be sure that our MPs are aware that the public is watching this issue and will call its representatives to account if they cave into a few giant corporations' greed.

The Open Rights Group has led the charge on this and maintains a public petition to Tessa Jowell, the minister who controls copyright issues in Parliament. If you're a Briton who wants to keep the UK from repeating America's mistakes, sign on now -- and tell your friends to sign on, too.

The music industry says that they are simply looking after musicians, yet the copyright in many of these recordings is not held by the musician, but by the label. Record labels aren’t a charity; they aren’t giving anything to musicians that isn’t already in their contract. Instead, they are driven by a desire to retain control over a small number of profitable recordings in order to maximise profits.

Term extension is not just about the ulterior motives of a powerful industry group. When artists produced works 50 years ago, they did so knowing exactly how many years of exclusive rights they would gain. And they signed those rights away to record labels knowing that they would expire in 50 years.

Copyright has always been a bargain between the interests of the rights holder and the interests of the public. A retroactive extension of the term would do nothing more than provide a windfall to the rightsholders - not necessarily the musicians, remember - and would deny the public the benefit of their side of that bargain.

If you decide to extend copyright on existing recordings, you will destroy our musical and sound recording heritage. If you extend copyright on new recordings, you will deny our children access to that heritage, but without having any significant positive impact on artists who are recording today.


Make's open source gift guide on Rocketboom

Picture 9-5 Make senior editor Phil Torrone is on Rocketboom today, showing off gear from the Make Open Source Gift Guide. Link

Free This Film is Not Yet Rated screening in LA TONIGHT!

Reminder: tonight I'll introduce Kirby Dick and a screening of his movie, "This Film is Not Yet Rated" at the University of Southern California. The show is sponsored by the USC Free Culture club, and I can't wait.

"This Film..." was the best documentary I saw this year. It delves into the shadowy world of the MPAA's rating system and the way that it forms a nearly invisible but all-encompassing censorship regime that punishes indie filmmakers far more than the major studios, who run it. The censor board is set up like a star chamber, the members, criteria, and appeals process shrouded in secrecy (Dick punctures the veil by hiring a charming private eye to uncover and reveal the hidden identities of the censors). The MPAA ratings process has been called "Jack Valenti's other mistake" -- apart from seeking wildly expanded copyright, that is.

It's an honor to be introducing Mr Dick and his movie -- he's a brilliant film-maker with something to say and real courage of his convictions. I hope to see you there tonight.

Where: University of Southern California, Los Angeles: University Park Campus, George Lucas Instructional Building, 108

When: Thursday, November 30, 2006, 7:00pm to 9:00pm


William Wray art show December 9

200611291945 Former Ren and Stimpy artist William Wray has an art show at the Just Looking Gallery in San Luis Obispo opening December 9. His urban plein air paintings are incredible. Link

Naked man smokes crack and gets attacked by an 11-foot aligator.

This morning in Florida, a large alligator tried to eat a naked gentleman who was smoking crack.
 Media Thumbnails Photo 2006-11 26648400 The alligator had the man in his jaws when deputies arrived at Lake Parker in Lakeland about 4 a.m. today. They were called by nearby residents who reported hearing a man yelling for help.

[Adrian J.] Apgar, 45, of Polk City, suffered a broken arm, partially amputated left arm and trauma to his left leg.

Link (Thanks, Ryan!)

Pillows that look like giant anti-depressant pills

Sandra says:
200611291645 Sci-artist Laura Splan created these nifty pillowy pills.

"Prozac, Thorazine, Zoloft is a group of large pillows crafted out of hand latch-hooked rugs, which have been sewn together and stuffed. These soft, oversized anti-psychotics and anti-depressants provide a different kind of comfort than their prescription counterparts. The time consuming nature of the latch-hook process provides a sufficiently mind-numbing effect. Latch hooking is a simple but tedious craft that has traditionally been used to depict idealized and romanticized images from domesticity and nature."

Go see the many other fantastic works displayed on her site, including neuroart. I also like Blood Scarf, a scarf knitted from vinyl tubing that fills with blood from an IV in the wearer, warming the body as it depletes it.