UK village posts "Ignore sat-nav" signs

Darren Barefoot sez, "Apparently sat-nav systems are hazardous to the health of British (and visiting) drivers:"
Vale of Glamorgan Council in South Wales is the first in the UK to use visual signs warning drivers not to believe sat-nav advice after once peaceful villages were reduced to bedlam when heavy-goods lorries got stuck in tiny country lanes.

Now a sign aimed largely at foreign drivers has been put up on the outskirts of the village of St Hilary.

"The proliferation of satellite navigation aids used in heavy goods vehicles, and their over-reliance, especially by overseas drivers, has presented itself as a problem within the Vale of Glamorgan," a spokesman for the council's highways department said.

Link (Thanks, Darren!) Read the rest

Podcast on future of technology, copyright and science fiction

Last night at the World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama, Japan, I sat down for an interview with Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the editor who runs the largest science fiction line in the world for Tor Books. Patrick is my editor and a friend, and we had a rollicking, quick discussion about copyright, technology and the future of science fiction. It's live now on the Tor podcast, for your listening pleasure. MP3 link, Link to Tor podcast homepage, Link to podcast feed Read the rest here's a roundup of recent goodies

In the Year 2000: Gargantuan, Trans-Oceanic Ground Effect Wingship Kokoro Scan: Finally, a Game That Will Cause Actual Real Life Violence Fashion & Technology Student Projects from Malmö U Marines Using Biometric Scanning to Cordon Fallujah GM Dashboard and Key Fob Concepts FUTR WRLD: Tomorrow's Retro-Future Today Ashley Wood's "Bertie" Robot Sculpture "Stunning Ring" Conceals Pepper Spray Philips Power2Go: Wall Warts with Batteries Ultimate Ears UE-11 Pro Headphones Reviewed (Verdict: Painful!)

Blowing Out the Dust: Morning Edition BIO: Fold Your Own Office Products Irony, Thy Name is Amazon USC Team Creates 360° Holographic Display with Mirrors, Perhaps Smoke Estes Digital Video Rocket Grid Sequencers Coming Soon: Tenori-On and Monome Casio Prototype Camera Shoots 60 FPS In the Year 2000: Syd Mead Spacesuits (and More) A Strange One: Sony Rolly Plastic Litters Our Oceans Morning Tech Deals Highlights

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UN sends 10,000 food aid SMSes to Iraqi refugees in Syria

The United Nations today sent about 10,000 text messages to help inform Iraqi refugees in Syria, via their cellphones, that an international food distribution for them will start tomorrow. Snip from Bloomberg item:
The UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Program will initially distribute enough rations to feed 33,000 Iraqis in Syria and about 50,000 by the end of the year, the UN said today in a statement. The UN agencies have pledged about $4.14 million to provide food for the next four months.

Syria has struggled to keep up with the surge of refugees from neighboring Iraq since violence increased there in May 2006, said World Food Program spokeswoman Brenda Barton. "There are refugees that used to cross, but host families were able to take care of them," Barton said in a telephone interview from Rome. While the UN began providing some refugee food aid in Syria in March, the program that begins tomorrow will feed "significantly more" Iraqis than before, she said.

Link (thanks, Cyrus Farivar) Read the rest

Premature Man Burning: not the first Black Rock City prankage

Scott Beale says,
Many people are very upset about Tuesday’s premature burning of Burning Man, but others consider it to be the ultimate Burning Man prank. For years the joke on the Playa was to set the man on fire early and in the mid 90’s Bigrig Industries used to hand out match packs printed with the words “Burn The Man Early”.

Burning Man has a long history of prankster activity which is largely due to it’s association with the The Cacophony Society during the late 1980’s to mid 1990’s. Burning Man 1990, the first event on the Black Rock Desert was a collaboration with The Cacophony Society as part of their event “Bad Day At Black Rock (Zone Trip #4)”.

One of the most infamous Burning Man pranks took place during the 1996 event (the year of the HELCO theme) when a giant neon smiley face was installed inside the head of the Burning Man sculpture.


Previously on Boing Boing: More on The Man who Burned The Man at Burning Man Burning Man set on fire early Suicide at Burning Man Burning Man 2007: GPS data files, maps, and "Xeni Cup." Greening Burning Man: how-to guide and best of overview Read the rest

Amazon to launch DRM-free iTunes competitor

Site is slated to launch in September. Link to NY Post article, where news broke, Link to somewhat more sober account over on Gizmodo. Read the rest

LA Weekly on the Source Family Sunset Strip love cult

In the most recent LA Weekly, Doug Harvey has an excellent article about The Source Family love cult, which operated The Source vegetarian restaurant on Sunset Blvd in the 1960s and 1970s.

(For an in depth history of The Source Family, I highly recommend The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and The Source Family, published by Process Books.

Things started getting freaky early in 1969, when Baker opened his third restaurant – the Source – and became a devotee of Sikh kundalini master Yogi Bhajan. Baker began speaking and directing meditation sessions in the restaurant, and – though still a follower of the yogi – channeling a new synthesis of traditional and original esoteric teachings. Attendance soared, and soon Baker and his growing group of followers were dressing in white cotton robes and turbans, living communally in the Chandler mansion (a.k.a. the Mother House) and following a rigorous program of spiritual practices involving elaborate breathing techniques (beginning with a single six-second hit of sacred herb at 3 a.m.), cold showers, radical shifts in gender roles, yoga, chanting the Tetragrammaton, natural home birth, magickal visualizations, Aleister Crowleyian ego-suppressing rituals and tantric sex.

During this period, the Source Family was one of the most high-profile and unusual of the many new religious movements proliferating in Los Angeles, not least because of their uncommonly high standards of grooming and cleanliness, their economic self-sufficiency and work ethic, and the fact that they didn’t openly proselytize. Potential members, in fact, were obliged to undergo a period of sexual abstinence and cross-examination as well as surrender all their material possessions to the group, washing dishes (or other chores) at the restaurant and taking a vow of confidentiality in order to partake of the spiritual teachings.

Read the rest

The Week's briefing on the NSA

The excellent news weekly, The Week, has a a good one-pager about the National Security Agency, which now has the Congressionally-approved power to conduct warrantless wiretaps.
A system called Echelon screens the flood of information for targeted phrases, names, phone numbers, and addresses, and alerts agents to any matches. In 2003, the NSA had flagged 10 different cell phones used by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. When his voice matched with one of the numbers, the agency used satellites to triangulate his position and grab him. Ninety-five percent of the raw material collected by the NSA is never translated into intelligible language. But raw data can also be useful. The NSA practices “data mining”: analyzing communications for patterns–such as phone numbers being frequently connected with other numbers–that can be revealing even if the content of conversations is not known. Information from the NSA makes up about 75 percent of the president’s daily intelligence briefing.
Link Read the rest

Safe toys you can make

Natalie of CRAFT says: "With al the recent scary news of the toy recall, now more than ever is the time to take back our children's safety in our own hands and have fun in the process by crafting our own toys! To get you started, here's a roundup of some great toy projects you can make." Link Read the rest

Confessions of a College Callgirl

This blog, penned by a pseudonymous author identified as a female sex worker, is always an interesting read -- but never so much as in her most recent post, "The Price." Snip:
It’s not easy to write about prostitution in a totally honest way because it is painful. Painful like being fat growing up and having people yell lardass at you out car windows and strangers approaching you on the street to tell you to lose weight. Painful like being a 13-year-old girl saving her virginity for marriage and being held down and robbed of that. I am embarrassed to talk about my pain, about the times I have been hurt. Especially when the road there was tricky and circuitous and partially of my own design. It’s hard for me to sift through the detritus, much easier to poke fun, to glam it up, to be some badass character. You guys don’t come to this blog to be depressed and there is plenty to write about that isn’t depressing. But when I get these letters, I see the danger in that approach.

I want to be very clear that I recommend this lifestyle for no one. It is easy enough to cross the line because the line is invisible. Much harder still to go back, to return to a time when you shared no piece of yourself with strange men, men you don’t like, even men who don’t like you. I detached myself completely from the work I was doing and felt that I was getting off scot-free with minimal psychological impact.

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Apple, NBC can't agree on iTunes pricing for TV shows

And as a result, Battlestar Galactica, the best show in this galaxy or any other, may disappear from iTunes. Frak! Link to NYT story. (thanks, George Ruiz) Update: Apple strikes back. Link. Read the rest

Web Zen: Music Viddy Zen

* stronger * jan pehechaan ho * are friends electric * killing floor * beggin * war photographer * herr bar * colonel blimp previously on web zen... * music viddy zen 2004

Web Zen Home and Archives, Store (Thanks Frank!)

Image: The epic Bollywood dance number "Jan Pehechaan Ho," via WFMU. See also this Primus vs. Jan Pehechaan Ho mashup vid: Link. Read the rest

How voters are susceptible to politicians who can manipulate their fear of death

The New Republic has an article called "Death Grip: How Political Psychology Explains Bush's Ghastly Success." It reports on the research of psychologists Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynsk, who believe "a fear of our own mortality guides many of our political choices without our ever realizing it."
Their first experiment was published in 1989. To test the hypothesis that recognition of mortality evokes "worldview defense" -- their term for the range of emotions, from intolerance to religi- osity to a preference for law and order, that they believe thoughts of death can trigger -- they assembled 22 Tucson municipal court judges. They told the judges they wanted to test the relationship between personality traits and bail decisions, but, for one group, they inserted in the middle of the personality questionnaire two exercises meant to evoke awareness of their mortality. One asked the judges to "briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you"; the other required them to "jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you physically as you die and once you are physically dead." They then asked the judges to set bail in the hypothetical case of a prostitute whom the prosecutor claimed was a flight risk. The judges who did the mortality exercises set an average bail of $455. The control group that did not do the exercises set it at an average of $50. The psychologists knew they were onto something.

Over the next decade, the three performed similar experiments to illustrate how awareness of death could provoke worldview defense.

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Sigur Rós documentary film: Heima

Speaking of alt-music documentaries, check out the lush trailer for Heima, which follows the Icelandic hometown hijinx of Sigur Rós: Link. Ganked (like the other blogged today) from Souris Hong-Porretta, who says, most correctly: "You ain't human if SR don't make you weep." Read the rest

Roger Lextrait: Eight years alone on South Pacific island

The Private Islands blog has a story about Roger Lextrait, who lived practically alone on a small island in the South Pacific atoll of Palmyra for eight years.
Each day he woke promptly at 5AM, to the calling of a hundred thousand birds. Nowhere else on the planet do these creatures gather in such numbers. After fixing himself a Palmyra Cocktail (1 part Rum, 1 part Red Wine, 1 part Tang), he called up his radio contacts in Tahiti and Honolulu. A shower on the beach in his makeshift bathing system and he was ready for the day. The bath and latrine systems Roger built are still used today by the current research teams that visit the atoll for brief expeditions.

Roger had a variety of things to keep him busy. Not least of which were his 3 dogs TouTou, Blackie, and Padou. He trained them to hunt sharks, helping to keep the predators population under control. Always near were his 2 cats Tiger and DouDouche, and the 2 birds he raised from hatchlings, lovingly named Felix and Oscar.

Experience made him an excellent fisherman, using only a diving knife, fishing net, and spear gun. This was dangerous work as the reef contained a number of less than friendly creatures. Roger had his share of run-ins with everything from sharks to stingrays, but never suffered any serious injuries.

Singing, playing his guitar, and drumming on an old wheel barrel helped him pass the time and keep the loneliness at bay. Despite his best efforts, Roger still describes experiencing intense feelings of depression and despair.

Read the rest

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