I dug up this video I shot back in December ‘04 when I was aboard an Air Deccan flight from Bangalore to Mumbai. Looked out my window and what did I see, A group of guys repairing the wing with some sort of muthafcukin’ duct tape. There’s some more repairs to the left of the one they are working on with what seems to be the same technique. Crossed my fingers, tossed back a shot of Black Label, and stayed on the flight.Link (Thanks, Phil!)
The agreement settles a suit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in August on behalf of Dr. Stuart Frankel against Lyons Partnership, owners of the Barney character. Frankel received repeated, meritless cease-and-desist letters from Lyons, claiming his online parody violated copyright and trademark law. EFF's suit asked the court to declare that Frankel's parody was a noninfringing fair use protected by the First Amendment.
"We wish we hadn't had to file a lawsuit to finally get Barney's lawyers to stop harassing a man who was just expressing his opinion about a cultural phenomenon," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Hopefully Lyons Partnership has learned its lesson and will have more respect for fair use in the future."
Link (Thanks, Matthew!)
Two or more sensors are attached around the edges of the surface. These pinpoint the position of a finger, or another touching object, by tracking minute vibrations. This allows them to create a virtual touchpad, or keyboard, on any table or wall.
The system, called Tai-Chi (Tangible Acoustic Interfaces for Computer-Human Interaction), was developed by researchers from Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France and the UK. "We have made a system that can give any object, even a 3D one, a sense of touch," says Ming Yang, an engineer at Cardiff University, UK, who is coordinating the project.
...they are also planning a roller coaster that emits Bruce Lee’s signature squawks and grunts! The park will be patrolled by robot-mannequin Bruce Lees! And the whole shebang is controlled by a special secret control room housed in a giant statue! Yes!Link (Thanks, Wei Qin!)
The park is slated to be finished in three years and we can pretty much guarantee, without doing any research or talking to anyone, that there’s going to be a hall of mirrors of some kind in this thing.
This weekend I was handed an opened wheel of processed cheeses by a friend. He said that his brother-in-law had caught wind of a frequent flyer promotion whereby you get 500 miles for each purchase of this cheese wheel and had purchased 75,000 miles for ~$300, which also means he's got more opened cheese wheels than he knows what to do with.Link
According to Space News, cosmonauts now earn $767 (20,448 Russian rubles) per month plus bonuses for spaceflights. That's far less than what they could attract in the private sector.Link (Thanks, Matt!)
So the rocket company Energia has allowed university students to apply to be cosmonauts before they graduate. That didn't pan out so well. Only five of 20 students who volunteered for the programme in 2006 underwent medical tests. None of them passed.
Link (Thanks, James!)
“I am very excited to have been asked to give a talk, via an avatar, in Second Life," Judge Posner tells me, via e-mail. "Virtual communities are an important social phenomenon with transformative potential, and I know that Second Life is in the forefront of this latest stage of the digital revolution." And I'm very excited to welcome such an august figure in-world, joining Lawrence Lessig, Thomas Barnett, and other great public intellectuals who're among the first to transmit their crucial ideas into the metaverse.
Where: Equator Books, 1103 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
When: Sat, Dec 2, 7:30PM
On a recent episode of the terrific podcast, The Sound of Young America, Mal Sharpe was invited as a guest to talk about the movie Borat. The podcast's host, Jesse Thorn, said Coyle and Sharpe were spiritual grandfathers to Sacha Baron Cohen. Thorn also played a segment of an early Coyle and Sharpe bit, called the human sugar bowl, in which the pranksters entered a San Francisco restaurant and asked the owner if he would "be opposed to the idea of using an area of your head, which is currently not used for such purposes, to use this as a storage place for sugar?" I loved the fact that the restaurant owner actually had a conversation with the two pranksters, telling them they were crazy for thinking the idea would be a viable business, and explaining to them why he thought it was a bad business idea. Today, most restaurant owners who were approached by a pair of deadly earnest men spouting such insanity would reach for a gun, a can of pepper spray, or a phone to call the cops.
Sound of Young America host Jesse Thorn says:
I must reflect credit elsewhere... that was actually an episode of Public Radio International's Open Source on which Mal Sharpe and I were guests. The host is Christopher Lydon. They're CC licensed, so I put it down my podcast chute since I was out of town this past weekend.
That said, here's an hour show I did a few weeks ago with Mal.
The idea is that if you don't give them their design-veto, they won't put movies on high-def, and then the money won't come in. But when the head of Canada's national broadcaster announces that there's just no way any broadcaster is going to make its money back on high-def, it makes you wonder if the Brits don't have the right idea.
In the UK, a digital TV system called "Freeview" gives the public 30 free standard-definition TV channels, for life, over the air, for one setup payment. Instead of trying to lure people into throwing away their old sets and buying all new, Hollywood-crippled ones, the Brits just created free cable for life. Amazingly, lots of people voluntarily switched -- and soon they'll be able to shut off the old analog towers and use that spectrum for better, more internetty things.
“There's no evidence either in Canada or the United States that we have found for advertisers willing to pay a premium for a program that's in HD,” Mr. Rabinovich said. “So basically they're saying if you want to shoot in HD, that's your business, we're not going to pay you more.”Link (via /.)
There's a new, faster, more efficient version of Democracy Player out today. Democracy is the free and open Internet video player that can subscribe to easily-published video feeds. It automatically fetches new videos using BitTorrent (so the video-maker's server is never overwhelmed by sudden popularity) and it plays it no matter what video format it's in.
Version 0.92, released today, fixes a ton of performance issues, mostly in the Windows version (Democracy is available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux). If you've tried Democracy before and had problems with it, this is the version to get. Link
(Disclosure: I am a proud member of the Board of Directors of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the charity that oversees Democracy)
Skinny Robbie has a video a trio of boys called The Bantams who are pretending to play Twist and Shout on a TV show called Shivaree. Link
The youngest of 3 brothers, that were a music phenomenon in the late 60's and early 70's, Fritz Bantam has continued his music career to the present day. Graduating from playing maracas, to playing bass guitar, Fritz continues to wow audiences with his musical talent.Fritz currently resides in the Inland Empire of California with his wife and two children. A recent surge in the interest of 60's and 70's music culture,and a notable demand for Bantam memorabilia,prompted the development of this site.Link
After Thanksgiving my family visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia. Before entering, the tour guide told us that we couldn't take any photos inside because they "don't own the copyright for some of the works of art." This peeved me in light of the copyright-restricted space post I had read recently about misusing the language of copyright to intimidate people.
In protest I tried to take a no-flash picture of Jefferson's engraved copy of the Declaration of Independence, but was politely told to stop - and reminded that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation doesn't own the copyright to some of his works of art. If they don't own the copyright to his nearly 200 year-old art then who does!?
UPDATE: Jennifer Michaels, a former Motincello tour guide, writes:
I was a tour guide at Monticello from 2002 to 2004, and I can answer Mike Love´s question of, "If they [Monticello] don't own the copyright to his nearly 200 year-old art then who does!?" It´s a great question, and I was always happy to answer it for my own tour groups.
The reason that photographs are not allowed inside Monticello itself is because the home itself is owned by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, a non-profit organization that upkeeps the home, but more than half of the furniture inside the building does not belong to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. When the non-profit organization bought the house in the 1930´s, there was no furniture in it at all. Thomas Jefferson died over $100,000 in debt and the vast majority of his private property was sold at dispersal auction in the 1830´s to recover his debt, which was a huge burden on his surviving family. The TJF curators spend an enormous amount of time just trying to find the furniture, which is literally scattered to the four winds.
When they do manage to find a furniture or piece, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation would obviously prefer to buy it when possible for their own collection. But the TJF can´t afford to buy it all outright, and understandably, some pieces aren´t even for sale, either because the private owners don´t wish to part with it or because it´s part of another museum´s collection. Consequently, the majority of furnishings in Monticello are on permanent contractual loan to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, with the private (or other museum) owners retaining all rights--including reproduction copyright--to the items themselves. So prohibiting photography in the house is actually done to protect private property that belongs to a slew of other people. That´s a very different situation than what´s going on at Victoria and Albert, where the artwork truly is in the public domain.
Furthermore, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation is understandably concerned that if they did allow non-flash photography in the home, visitors would inevitably forget to turn off their flashes and misunderstand the rules and take flash photography anyway. Most of the items in the home are extremely light-sensitive due to their age, to the point that all of the home´s windows are covered with a protective UV film. Imagine if just one out of every 1,000 visitors forgot the rules and took a flash picture in the house; with about half a million visitors to the home each year, that would expose the house to approximately 500 photography flashes a year, which is plenty enough to do damage.
If the Jefferson Foundation were so anti-film, they wouldn´t allow photographs everywhere else on the grounds except inside the house. Because they own the entire outdoor property and have only allowed replica furniture to ornament the outside of the house, there is no copyright conflict with people taking pictures outside the home itself. I always reminded my tour groups as soon as we got back outside that they should turn their cameras on and start snapping away.
Finally, if it makes Mike feel any better, I am almost certain that the engraved, framed copy of the Declaration of Independence that he was attempting to photograph didn´t actually belong to Thomas Jefferson. There are two engravings of the Declaration in the home, and while both are contemporary to Jefferson´s time period, Jefferson´s own engravings of the Declaration no longer exist. So Mike was actually looking at a very similar engraving by the same engraver, but not the one that Jefferson actually owned.
The Lucky Dog Pet Shop is where the writer of Ubik goes to buy ground horsemeat, ostensibly for his dog, actually for himself and his wife to eat. It’s not so bad, horsemeat. In the Pyrenees they smoke it into jerky and serve it with hard cheese and casks of good red wine. What’s bad is the shame. The writer of Ubik has come to suspect that the woman who runs the cash register at the Lucky Dog Pet Shop knows he’s buying the horsemeat for himself, that there is no dog. In a world where the FBI has already visited the writer’s house–they were dapper and polite, fine figures of men, a little older than he’d expected; they reminded him of Hollis, they took him for a drive, he sort of liked them–the woman is one of his foremost looming authority figures. She might turn him in. She might tell his mother.Link (Thanks, Dave Gill!)
Yet when the writer of Ubik gets to the cash register he finds not the dreaded woman but instead a substitute clerk, a young man with a small beard like a Beat. When the writer approaches, the substitute clerk greets him in a voice conditioned by cigarettes and bearing traces of an accent. The writer understands without knowing how he understands that the substitute clerk is from France. More than just from France. The substitute clerk is a Marxist literary critic. The writer feels relief. Here is someone who certainly must grasp the eating of horsemeat. The writer’s going to get away with it, at least today.
“You are Philip?”
“You will write Ubik?”
“I don’t know, I guess so.”
...(The) first known public lecture appearance of the word ("blobsquarch" was) on September 14, 2003. On that date, Alton Higgins, at the Willow Creek Symposium, flashed the term up on a screen and spent several minutes analyzing various blobsquatch images.Link
Higgins expanded what he presented at Willow Creek, and published his March 21, 2004 revised paper, which can be found online here: "Evaluating Purported Sasquatch Photographic Evidence".
Higgins wrote within that paper: "Any photo requiring equal parts interpretation and imagination (photos sometimes characterized as ‘blobsquatches’) should be discounted."
W.A.T.C.H. OUT! ! These "Fear Factor" pouches containing "spine-chilling spiders", "mystery meat", and a "buzzard buffet", pose a "candy challenge" to children, asking: "[I]s fear a factor for you?" The grotesque buffet, available in the toy aisle, is based upon the television series which sometimes features contestants competing to eat as much as possible in the shortest time. Toy aisles should not be used to encourage food-eating competitions, which invite potential choking and ingestion injuries, particularly for young children.Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)
Seth is a polymath geek, who created the job of Staff Technologist at EFF. He makes it possible for EFF's lawyers to understand the technological implications of the law and the legal implications of technology. He's an engineer who fights for freedom, and has taken part in such exciting adventures as ferreting out the secret codes hidden in color laser printouts. He maintains a Linux distribution, wrote the DeCSS Haiku, and testifies in court. Most importantly (from my perspective), he is the world's leading expert on the threats and promises of trusted computing -- and the creator of Owner Override, a proposal that will leave trusted computing's privacy benefits intact, but defang its threats to liberty.
As always, we'll podcast the audio within a day or two of the event, but I hope to see you there! This is the last speaker of the year, so it's your last chance in 2006!
Where: University of Southern California main campus (LA), Annenberg School for Communications, room 207
When: Tuesday, November 28, 7PM-9PM
In 1854, London was a city with millions of residents and no sewage system. It was the first time a city had grown so big, and while it had a rudimentary idea of a public health system, this system was based on the "miasma" theory of disease: that illness was the result of smelling bad smells. So it was that London was drowning in its own shit, and so it was that thousands of Londoners were in the business of harvesting, cleaning, moving, exploring and scavenging in shit. Johnson quotes journals and accounts of the day describing unimaginable filth, residents dipping buckets into open, running sewers, then letting the "water" separate out of the excrement, skimming it off and drinking it.
Cholera epidemics are the inevitable outcome of such a situation. One such outbreak took Soho -- a poor, overcrowded neighborhood -- by storm, killing one in ten in the space of a week. In that week, two very different men (a cleric and a scientist) who were both local to Soho pounded the streets, working to extinguish the disease's flames. They struggled against the miasma-obsessed public health administration (whose idea of sanitation was to order all the basement cesspools emptied into the Thames, London's main source of drinking water).
The cleric, Reverend Henry Whitehead, had intimate knowledge of Soho's streets and families, and the scientist, Dr John Snow, had a history of challenging establishment superstitions with empirical research. Together they worked on a map that showed the disease's course through London, and ran the cholera back to the well where it originated. The combination of data-visualization and local knowledge revealed the microbial nature of cholera, years before anyone managed to connect the actual bug with the disease.
Johnson's got a gift for telling human stories in science -- and a healthy respect for cities, humanity's most complicated and magnificent inventions. He's characterized this as the story of the world's largest organism -- the city -- locked in struggle with one of the world's smallest -- a bacterium. That's as good a strapline as any -- it's a dramatic story of a key evolutionary moment in our history, a moment when we could have destroyed ourselves or brought ourselves to the future. Link
Update: Jeff sez, "John Snow published a book on his investigation into the cholera epidemic. His account is a pretty interesting read."
Kirby Dick has graciously agreed to present the screening of his movie, which I reviewed in September. This Film is Not Yet Rated is the best documentary I've seen all year, the kind of thing that inspired outrage and sympathy. It tells the hidden story of the MPAA's rating board, and its systematic discrimination against sympathetic portrayals of gay sexuality and sex in general, and its tacit support for ultra-violence.
The ratings board is shrouded in secrecy, and exists, supposedly, to forestall Congressional censorship of the film industry (an eventuality as unlikely as it is unconstitutional). The board's membership is secret, as are the names of the appeals committee that is meant to watchdog the organizing. The whole, secretive mess was established by Jack Valenti in his capacity as head of the MPAA, and so it bends over backwards to help filmmakers from the major studios (while shafting indies).
Dick's documentary revolves around his efforts to unmask the identity of the secret censor board. He hires a private eye and sets her to work (the CSI elements of the film are really juicy -- it's fun to see how private eyes really work). Threaded around this are interviews with filmmakers who've had run-ins with the board, and, as a climax, Dick's own Orwellian adventures in submitting his documentary to the censor board whose identities he has uncovered.
I can't wait to meet him -- one viewing of This Film is Not Yet Rated turned me into an instant, lifelong fan. I hope to see you there!
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
Check out these amazing replica Altair 8800 kit, composed all new (or new-old stock) parts, with the original instructions for assembly. The Altair 8800 was the microcomputer ancestor of the PC -- the computer that inspired the PC revolution. It was -- to some approximation -- the first useful computer that you could build and run in your home workshop. Regrettably, these kits are only sold on eBay, making them a pain to acquire, but the idea is just fantastic, and it sounds like the build-quality is terrific. Link (via Make)
The BBC are reporting that there will be no copyright extension for songs in the UK. The official review commissioned by the Treasury on all IP law in the UK has not yet been published but it is highly likely the BBC have managed to get a sneak peak.Link (Thanks, Glyn!)
Sir Cliff Richard and Jethro Tull had been among artists lobbying for copyright to last 95 years, rather than the present 50.
The Open Rights Group had been amongst the groups lobbying against this possibility with their release the music campaign and their submitions to the review. When the report actualy comes out we will see if they have had similar success with their request to create a new exception to UK copyright law that would give individuals the right to create a private copy of copyrighted materials for their own personal use, including back-ups, archiving and shifting format. Sign the petition if you're in the UK.
I've been an avid reader of the Boing Boing blog for some time, it's good stuff.
I saw the 'turn urine blue' post and remembered seeing something about methylene blue on an MSDS that would probably be worth mentioning with this - it may have had a hand in some birth defects when injected amniotically. Fairly harmless stuff unless you're pregnant though, and probably not to dangerous when ingested even then, but for more info there's a report here.
Xeni, Pesco and I talk with our guest about a slew of recent Boing Boing topics, and about things going on in Merlin's busy life, including his fabulously funny "Phone Guy" videos.
LISTEN: Podcast Feed, Subscribe via iTunes, Direct MP3 Link (64K), other MP3 file download options from archive.org: Link, enhanced podcast with images, or listen at Odeo (with archives of previous shows): Link.