Boing Boing 

Boston Mooninite installer arrested

Ashamed of their own foolish overreaction to finding some battery powered Lite Brites and promptly declaring a code red emergency that shut down Boston, authorities are hoping to save face by arresting Peter Berdovsky, who is charged with installing the innocuous signs.

John Youll says:

This situation is worse than just photoshopping of LED cartoon middle fingers. I hope you will keep it alive beyond just the matter of the official idiocy.

Boston's freaked out police have arrested the guy who stuck those things around town... I'm concerned they're going to come up with all kinds of charges to justify the official panic attack and predictable meltdown suffered by the police and city administration.

And the Boston Globe, always up for some excitement, is trying to "figure the guy out" FBI style, with some amateur sleuthing of a few underlined book sentences on the poor guy's web site. Now the fucking Attorney General is in on the act.

This is going to be a mess for this poor guy. Also, I thought pipe bombs were, well, made of pipes, not LEDs?

The man who sent city and State Police rushing to defuse what they believed were explosive devices around the Boston region was arrested tonight.

Attorney General Martha Coakley scheduled a 9 p.m. press conference to announce the arrrest of Peter Berdovsky, an Arlington artist.

On his personal website, he posted pictures of a small group installing the figures -- little square-shaped men frowning and making an obscene gesture -- on the exterior wall of a hospital, on the awning of a Cambridge bar, at an Urban Outfitters, and a bridge.

On another website, he describes himself as adroit at painting, animation, video and sound design, sculpting and installation art.

Link | Peter Berdovsky's web site.

Boston Channel photoshops Mooninite LED signs

WCVB-TV in Boston has photoshopped the extended finger from the Mooninite LEDs. Compare the before-and-after photos of the uniformed and helmeted LED disposal expert as he carefully removes the deadly object. Link (Thanks, Todd!)

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the Bomb T-Shirts

Picture 12-3Raplica is selling T-shirts with a Mooninite and the slogan "ATHF is the bomb" to make fun of the foolish authorities who practically shut down Boston because of a two-week-old so-called "hoax" involving LED signs promoting Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Link

Previously on Boing Boing:
LED ad campaign ignites terrorism scare in Boston

1970's arcade game: Watergate Caper

Watergate Caper was a 1970s arcade game based on breaking and entering.
Picture 11-6 Player feverishly twists the dial and punches the code key to reveal a mysterious combination before time runs out and he is caught by double agents.

Spine chilling sound effects create suspense and intrigue. Eerie black light adds to the mystery.

Watergate caper stimulates the larceny in all of us.

Link (Thanks, David!)

MP3 player modded into laser tag belt and gun

Picture 10-1 Make's videoblogger Bre Pettis put the Make MP3 player kit into a laser tag belt and gun. You pull the trigger to advance to the next song. Link

Other Makezine videos:
How to use a Multimeter
Circuit Bending
How to Make a Birdfeeder Webcam
Learn How To Solder - Skill Building Workshop
Make Video Podcast 2006 Wrapup
Build Bridges and Break Them!
Woodblock Prints, Aluminum Reliefs, and Write with Light
Camera Hacking
Robot Race and Nitinol Lightswitch

Watercraft powered by bouncing up and down

Picture 9-5 Neat video of a watercraft that you propel by bouncing up and down. Link (Thanks, Tim!)

Videos of hoboes being drawn by Ape Lad

Picture 8-10 I could watch Ape Lad drawn Hodgman's hoboes all day long. Link

Previously on Boing Boing:
John Hodgman's hobo mosaic
700 imaginary hobo names
700 Hoboes project takes off

LED ad campaign ignites terrorism scare in Boston

Josh says:
200701311418 There was a terrorism scare in Boston today -- strange devices were found all over the city. The bomb squad came and detonated one of them, and removed the others. Turns out the devides are part of a guerrilla marketing campaign for [Cartoon Network's] "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." The devices are little LED Moominites.
Phil Torrone told me that CNN (which is owned by Time Warner, the same company that owns Cartoon Network) mentioned Make magazine in connection with this advertising campaign. We didn't have anything to do with it, although I wish we had. Did anyone see the segment that mentioned Make? I'd like to know what they said. Link

Reader comment:

Anne says: Here's a possible reason why CNN might have mentioned Make: Early blog discussion (eg at Metafilter) thought that Flickr user Vanderlin might have been the source of the LED art in Boston. His photos of the art are part of the Make photo pool on flickr -- presumably because it's the kind of project Makers would be interested in. (He turns out just to have stolen one of the pieces, not to be the source.) If anybody at CNN was looking on flickr, or following a discussion at a place like Metafilter, they would have gotten this kind of connection.
ZDFV says:
CNN only said that they found images of the device and circuit board on, i'm assuming it was [this link].

they also mentioned that you provided details on 'how to build them' (I'm guessing they actually meant the flikr photos) so they '[didn't] know how many others there were out there' and proceeded to say that they were reports of them in Seattle as well.

That's all and was only mentioned in the initial report that these were related to ATHF.

The Graffiti Research Lab, creator of the LED Throwie says:
You may have heard about the most recent terror attacks in Boston. This is NOT the work of the Graffiti Research Lab. We just downloaded this link from youtube. It’s Just more mindless corporate vandalism from a guerilla marketer who got busted. Interference Inc, welcome to the world of being misunderstood, scapegoated, demonized and wanted by the law. Still want to be a graffiti artist?

For more on this most recent terror attack from the axis of evil (corporations, advertisers, marketers) check out this civic-minded citizens post on Flickr.


NPR Xeni Tech - Guatemala: digital archives may help find "disappeared."

PRAHPN - vacuuming "Detective Files"

Today on NPR "Day to Day," the third of a 5-part report I brought back from Central America: "Guatemala: Unearthing the Future." In the series, we learn more about the role technology plays in addressing historic problems in Guatemala.

Link to today's episode, "Guatemalan Archives May Help Locate Missing," with streaming audio (Real/Win), and some short video clips. Link to series home page.

Link to narrated slideshow. Here are more photos: Link.

"Xeni Tech" home, and podcast feed.

Historic Area: archive entrance

In rural areas of Guatemala, work is under way to recover and identify remains from mass graves dug during the country's civil war. But in the country's capital city, thousands of people also disappeared. The answers to their fates may lie buried in a massive police archive -- one that wasn't supposed to exist.

At a police compound in Guatemala City, each dark room overflows with documents, some as old as 100 years. These archives may shed light on early US involvement in Guatemala. In 1954, the CIA backed a military coup that overthrew the democratically-elected president, and a long series of military dictatorships followed.

The national police were believed to be responsible for so many atrocities during the civil war that their organization was dissolved and replaced by a new institution when the conflict ended.

Buried in this enormous, dingy compound are answers that the Guatemalan people have waited for for decades. The archive was discovered by accident, during an investigation of a munitions dump. For years, authorities denied these archives existed. The space and all it contained were left for the rodents and the bats.

The Project for the Recuperation of the National Police Historic Archives (PRAHPN) works under the Guatemalan government's human rights ombudsman, trying to build a digital library so that the information on these crumbling pages will last. Patrick Ball and the US-based nonprofit Benetech are helping the police archive project -- Benetech produces free, open-source software specifically designed to record and store data about human rights abuses.

PRAHPN: 1931 book

IMAGES: 2007, Xeni Jardin.


  • NPR Xeni Tech: Guatemala series, Part 2: Storm Victims' Remains Exhumed in Guatemala
  • NPR "Xeni Tech" - Guatemala: Unearthing the Future. Part 1, ""A Database for the Dead."

    PRAHPN: Digitalizador

  • Massive telecom satellite blows up on launch

    Mike Jensen says: "A commercial Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket disintegrated in a fiery catastrophe aboard its oceangoing platform Tuesday, destroying a sophisticated telecommunications satellite payload in a dramatic launch pad explosion reminiscent of the space program's early days."

    Link | YouTube clip (Best part: the logo appears at the end of the video, as if the people behind this are very proud of the mishap)

    Giant penis visible on Microsoft map photo

    Alex says:
    Picture 7-10 Some years ago, teenage schoolboys at Bellemoor school, Southampton, UK played an end-of-term prank on their teachers. Specifically, they burned a 20ft-long cock into the school's grass lawn using weedkiller.

    The teachers had it reseeded, and the incident passed into memory. However, in the interval between the grass dying and the restoration work...

    Enter an aerial survey! More importantly, an aerial survey that would later sell its imagery to Microsoft's Virtual Earth Google Maps clone.

    Hence, the giant cock was preserved for ever in the soft threads of the Net. It can be viewed at this URL.

    The GoogleBird passed over some other time, sadly, so here is the James Dobson-approved version.


    Reader comment:

    Alex says:

    Here's some giant cocks captured by an actual SATELLITE, rather than the microsoft aerial plane! (And on Google maps too!) Link
    Sean says:
    I'm sure you already know this, but it crops up on Boingboing quite frequently.

    The "giant penis visible from space" article at the guardian is wrong. None of this imagery is actually "space" imagery. Most of it is collected by planes flying at 8k-10k feet -- Google Maps and Microsoft Live switch between actual satellite imagery and digital orthophotos when the resolution becomes advantageous to do so.

    For instance, Google Maps' data of the site comes from here.

    Powder turns bathwater into thick slime

    Gelli Baff is a powder that you pour into your kid's tub to turn the water into colored slime.
    200701310853The goo is a completely harmless powder that soaks up 400 times it's own weight in water. When the fun's all done, add the disolver sachet and the goo dissapears.
    Link (Via Play Library) Alex says:
    Gelli Baff is just SPA (sodium polyacrylate). Sounds like they've found a fun way of marketing sodium polyacrylate, a non-toxic, water-absorbing polymer that's used in everything from disposable diapers to agriculture. You can buy a whole pound of it from Steve Spangler's site for $20, as well as SPA in granular form, which can be used as fake snow.

    A lot of other substances work well for "busting" the slime once you're done playing, table salt is one, but lots of other household products will do it as well, try some out!

    Minister "lucky" after tumour spotted on TV

    Seamus says: "This is a news piece of an Irish government Minister whose appearance on RTE Television (our national TV Channel in Ireland) lead to the immediate diagnosis of a facial tumor after a surgeon viewer noticed that it did not move as a fatty piece of tissue would."
    Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Conor Lenihan had a lucky escape after a eagle-eyed doctor diagnosed a tumour on his face as he spotted him speaking on television.

    Brits! Act now to save the BBC from Microsoft

    Paul sez, "The BBC are holding an open consultation regarding how they're going to delivery on-demand content, they want answers to questions like: "How important is it that the proposed seven-day catch-up service over the internet is available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software?" The form takes 5 minutes to fill in, is confidential and could be a defining moment of on-line content delivery. Let's pressure the BBC into embracing open standards!" Link (Thanks, Paul!)

    Jay Lake's comedy sf mashup contest

    Campbell-award-winning sf author Jay Lake has challenged readers of his blog to come up with sf high-concept mashups, along the lines of "A Canticle for Lebowski" --
    *Repo Man from UNCLE--Emilio Estevez is recruited for a shady job that turns out to be working for an undercover spy network that has developed a flying car/time machine.

    *A Boy and His Dogma: A young archangel rescues the mother of God from a gang of roving ex-angels and attempts to conform to her human expectations. Rated R for the grisly ending where Alanis Morissette and Alan Rickman... well, I won't give it away.

    *The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Quest - Dent Arthur Dent discovers that all of his adventures were scripted episodes from an old TV show, the Heart of Gold is actually a 14" plastic model lit with Christmas lights, the Vogons are just big lumps of latex with Warwick Davis pulling levers inside, and Alan Rickman actually went insane holding up both ends of a conversation between Dr. Lazarus and Marvin the Paranoid Android.

    Link (Thanks, Danjite!)

    Dr Who Tardis USB hub

    This 4-port Dr Who Tardis USB hub comes with a blue light that flashes when you add or removing a device, and an internal speaker makes the "vorp vorp" noise of a dematerializing Tardis. Link (via Gizmodo)

    O'Reilly Emerging Tech conference earlybird reg closes Monday!

    Next Monday is the last day for discounted Early Bird registration at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Last year, the con sold out entirely -- sign up early! I'm speaking this year, co-presenting with Trusted Computing advocate Peter Biddle (notorious as the author of the Darknet paper). Peter and I will be switching up a little this time: I'm going to present the case for DRM, then he's going to present the case against it. Should be fun!

    The program is still being finalized, but already there are any number of exciting presentations on the slate, including:

    In 2007, we expect internet access to be instant, music collections to fit into our pockets, and communication as a constant. Technology is so tightly woven into our lives that at times we scarcely notice it. And yet, there are innovators, hackers, and thinkers plotting revolutions–often by simply reexamining underlying assumptions we already take for granted. From the infrastructure supporting mass-market players, the promise of mass computing, and alternative energy sources to personalized medicine, movie magic, web heresies, and talking paper, ETech 2007 explores the technological rejiggering and changes in perspective that are poised to blast off into the realm of magic. Join us March 26-29, 2007 in San Diego, CA–be a part of the ideas, tools, and discussions happening today that will give rise to the magic of tomorrow.

    (Disclosure: I'm a proud volunteer on the Emerging Tech programming jury)

    National Gorilla Suit Day

    Today is National Gorilla Suit Day, inaugurated by Mad Magazine's Don Martin. "Every National Gorilla Suit Day, people of all shapes and colors around the world get their gorilla suits out of the closet, put them on and go door-to-door." Link (Thanks, David)

    Database pioneer Jim Gray missing at sea

    Database pioneer James Gray, winner of the 1998 Turing Award and founder of Microsoft's Bay Area Research Center, is missing off the coast of Northern California. On Sunday, he set out alone on his 40-foot sailboat to the Farallon Islands where he intended to scatter his late mother's ashes. He hasn't returned. The US Coast Guard is searching for Gray by boat, plane, and helicopter. Gray is known for such groundbreaking projects as the SkyServer and TerraServer. From the San Francisco Chronicle (photo from Wikipedia):
     ~Gray Jimgray Gray's wife, Donna, told Coast Guard officials that her husband last contacted her by cell phone at about 10 a.m. Sunday and spoke of his plans. When he did not respond to her cell phone calls Sunday evening, she contacted the authorities at about 8:30 p.m.

    Within an hour, the Coast Guard sent out a radio message alerting ships in the area to watch for Gray's vessel. On Tuesday, the search extended west 78 miles past the Farallon Islands...

    Gray's yacht was a Canadian-made C&C 40, a sturdy fiberglass vessel with the dual capability of racing and offshore cruising. The Coast Guard said it was well-equipped with high-tech communications and safety gear, including a marine radio...

    "Jim is a giant in the computer industry but a generous giant who will always take time to collaborate with other scientists or help students in their career," said UC Berkeley computer science professor David Patterson.

    "We are hoping against hope he's tied up in a some cove with a dead cell phone."
    Link (Thanks, Eric Paulos!)

    Snakes eat poisonous toads and collect their poison

    The Rhabdophis tigrinus snakes that reside on the island of Ishima, Japan, eat poisonous toads and store the toxic venom in glands for its own defense. While the monarch butterfly also collects defensive poison from plants and frogs sometimes beef up their defenses with bug toxins, herpetologist Deborah Hutchinson of Old Dominion University says it's very rare for a vertebrate to do so. From Scientific American:
     Data Images Ns Cms Dn11048 Dn11048-1 900 Some R. tigrinus snakes carry toxins called bufadienolides in their nuchal glands, sacks located under a ridge of skin along their upper necks. When threatened, they arch their necks, exposing the poisonous ridge to an antagonist. The clawing and biting of hawks and other predators most likely rips the skin and lets the poison ooze out, potentially blinding the snake's attackers, says herpetologist Deborah Hutchinson of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. "It might not kill the predator but it would be noxious enough to deter predation," she says.

    Cute looking kid's show from Spain: Pocoyo

    Picture 6-10 The blog posted a YouTube video of an adorable-looking kids' program from the UK Spain called Pocoyo. Link

    Glasses that vibrate you into alertness

     Wp Wp Wp-Content Uploads Mydo Bururu Glasses Vision Optic Co.'s new MydDo Bururu are eyeglasses outfitted with a tilt sensor and vibrating earpiece. If you start to nod off, the vibration is supposed to wake you up. Apparently you can adjust the degree of tilt that triggers the alarm. They're 45,000 yen (US$370).

    Man in 25 day fugue state

    Last October, Joe Bieger, 59, of Dallas, wandered the city for nearly a month lost in a fugue state, a strange form of amnesia thought to be triggered by stress or other conflict. One morning, Bieger, a high school athletic director who suffered from brief bouts with amnesia the month before, stepped out of his house to walk his dogs and, within moments, had all his memories erased. He was eventually recognized far from his home, near where he was having a new house built, by a construction foreman on the project. After several hours, his memory returned. From the Associated Press:
    By that point, Bieger had somehow made his way to a suburb about 20 miles from his Dallas home, holes worn in the rubber soles of his canvas shoes. He had lost 25 pounds, and a full white beard covered the normally clean-shaven educator's face...

    ...More than three months after the episode, he says he has only vague memories of those days on the streets of Dallas, one of America's most crime-ridden cities.

    He recalls being stopped and frisked by police officers, who were looking for a suspect in a holdup at a pizzeria. There was also a smoky bowling alley. He remembers waking up cold on a playground, wearing shorts and a T-shirt with fall temperatures dropping into the 50s. Another time, he says, he awoke under a construction trailer.

    He says he cannot recall what he ate to survive. But when he was found, he had jelly packets from a fast-food restaurant in his pockets and half a stale bagel.

    Previously on BB:
    • Agatha Christie's temporary disappearance solved? Link
    • Mystery piano man Link
    • Piano Man goes home Link

    NPR Xeni Tech: Storm Victims' Remains Exhumed in Guatemala

    FAFG - unearthing in Panabaj

    Today on NPR "Day to Day," the second segment in a 5-part series I filed called "Guatemala: Unearthing the Future," about how technology is being used to solve historic problems. Today's piece follows the FAFG, a group of forensic scientists who are working to exhume and identify the remains of victims buried in a mudslide caused by Hurricane Stan.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Link to "Storm Victims' Remains Exhumed in Guatemala," a profile on the work of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala, with streaming audio (Real/Win).

    MP3 Link for today's segment.

    Link to narrated slideshow. More photos here.

    "Xeni Tech" home, and podcast feed

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Memorial, Panabaj

    Before the mudslide, there were more than 50 homes in the Tzujutil Mayan village of Panabaj. Now, the houses and hundreds of the people who lived in them are 10 feet underground. Along the edges of the site, makeshift memorials stand as monuments to the dead.

    The Guatemalan government cordoned off the zone as a high-risk area, and had no plans to recover the dead. But survivors resisted and joined with the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) to unearth the victims.

    For more than a decade, the FAFG has exhumed mass graves from political massacres that took place during Guatemala's decades-long civil war. This time, they are working in the wake of a natural disaster. The country's army has offered to help with the exhumation, but the mudslide survivors have refused. The military killed 13 unarmed civilians in Panabaj in 1990.

    Along with tractors to clear the 400,000 square-foot mudslide site, FAFG is using mapping software and other technology to create a secure database on the remains. As of today, the FAFG has uncovered 82 sets of human remains, and identified nearly 60. They believe there may be as many as 500 bodies in all.

    FAFG - coded corpse

    IMAGES: Top, FAFG workers exhume victims of the October 5, 2005 mudslide in Panabaj. (photo - courtesy FAFG). | A makeshift memorial marks the site where one family was buried alive (photo - Xeni Jardin) | When a corpse is unearthed, forensic anthropologists with the FAFG radio their tech team for a code that will help to track all that becomes known about the victim. (photo - courtesy FAFG) | 8-year-old Juan Ramirez survived that night, and said villagers at first thought the noise was an airplane, not a mudslide. (photo - Xeni Jardin)


  • NPR "Xeni Tech" - Guatemala: Unearthing the Future. Part 1, ""A Database for the Dead."


  • Horizontal gene transfer explains evolutionary jumps

    Paul says:
    Rice University study models "Horizontal Gene Transfer," a mechanism for evolution where big chunks of DNA migrate between different species via bacteria. This results in faster and more sudden evolutionary branching than what you get with the more familiar mechanisms of sexual selection or random single-point mutations caused by radiation, copying errors, etc.

    Now I feel better about eating those tomatoes with the fish genes in them! (Flavr Savr)


    Reader comment:

    Roger says: I just wanted to correct the misconception that Horizontal Gene Transfer occurs in plants and animals. Also, Flavr Savr tomatoes haven't been around for about ten years and never had fish genes in them.

    I have a blog post here explaining it.

    Kevin says:
    I just wanted to point out that while previous commenter Roger says horizontal gene transfer doesn't occur in plants and animals, the posted article quotes a "Michael Deem, the John W. Cox Professor in Biochemical and Genetic Engineering" as saying:

    "We know that the majority of the DNA in the genomes of some animal and plant species – including humans, mice, wheat and corn – came from HGT insertions"

    This seems to be at odds with Roger's position.

    Marshall Clark, Technical Director, This Week in Science says:
    A quick comment on the post-discussion for the “Horizontal gene transfer explains evolutionary jumps” story. I think Roger may be mistaken when he says horizontal gene transfer does not occur in plants/animals.

    In humans, oncoviruses (1) cause tumors through insertion of their viral DNA into human host DNA -- a process known as transformation (2). It’s been a while since my last university BioChem course, but once the viral DNA has been incorporated into the host’s genome I think it’s safe to say that you’ve had a HGT event -- one between a virus and a human.

    When you consider that viruses and bacteria also routinely pick-up DNA from their hosts (a process called ‘natural competence’ 3) it becomes clearer how this process might be important evolutionarily.

    Funny rant about Cheerios graph

    Carl Pappenheim has a good time complaining about this graph on a box of Cheerios, which compares the effects that a bowl of Cheerios, a glucose drink, and a skipped breakfast have on you "power of concentration" over time.
    First up, a glucose drink! The breakfast of champions! Who hasn't left the house of a morning, pausing only to swallow down a couple of cans of Tango or Lucozade? I'm reminded of Bill Bryson's "Rated FIRST against the Ford El Crappo for safety!" diatribe on advertising - if a glucose drink is the only competition then Cheerios can't be doing too well against anything more sensible. But wait! Sugary energy drinks aren't the only competition! The other condition is.. no breakfast! Which actually beats Cheerios in the first half hour! Clearly, the subjects were still mulling over the pseudo-scientific crap they'd just read on the Cheerios box and couldn't concentrate on... whatever it was they were given. In the end, of course Cheerios come out on top but it hardly tells you anything you didn't know before -- as the only solid food in the experiment you might equally read the result as, "Cheerios - better for you than starvation."

    Interior shots of Putin's jet

    200701301014 Lots of photos of Putin's godawfully glitzy, blinged-out jet. Every metal surface is gold (or fake gold) plated, including the toilet hardware. Link

    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Inside the Sultan of Brunei's private jet
    The time I flew on the Enron corporate jet to meet Jeff Skilling

    Police use stun guns on greased, naked student

    Colin Sheridan says: "Police in Westerville, OH used a stun gun on a high school student after he ran into his school cafeteria greased and naked as a prank, bringing up fond memories of the greased-up deaf guy who appears in several Family Guy episodes."
    Picture 5-19 Officer Doug Staysniak was monitoring the lunch period when Killian, with long hair and a full beard, ran in the room toward students, who screamed and ran away. The officer is normally assigned to a middle school and did not recognize Killian as a student, Gaylor said.

    Police said that an administrator ordered Killian to stop, but that the student made a sexual gesture and kept running.

    Killian is in jail and charged with inducing panic, public indecency, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.


    Apple pays defendants' legal fees in free-speech victory

    Lucas Zaffuto says: "Apple has been forced to pay more than DOUBLE the legal fees for the online reporters it sued to find out who their confidential sources are. The court found that they couldn't make a distinction between "professional" and "amateur" reporters and their websites as far as the law is concerned, and both deserve equal protection." Link

    UK X-ray scanners in lamp posts

    Phil Too says:
    The UK has already introduced lamp post mounted CCTV with speakers and microphones built in. Now the UK may be the first to introduce X-ray scanners in lamp posts, to scan for hidden weapons, drugs and bombs.

    The only drawback appears to be organising and maintaining the resources to follow up on suspects, not the obvious concerns over civil liberties.