Japanese ghost story from 1911: Night Fishing

For this All Saint's Eve, here's a creepy, 1911 ghost story called "Night Fishing," written by Izumi Kyōka, a writer "heavily influenced by supernatural and grotesque themes from Edo-period literature and folklore." The translation's brand new, from Matt Treyvaud, and the story reads like a Japanese-inflected Poe piece.
It late November. An unseasonably muggy wind had blown all evening. Humid clouds swelled overhead. People too near a brazier were damp with sweat, wishing they could remove their coats. And now the sun was setting. Iwa-san left work and wound through the alleys of the Gyōgan temple grounds to the longhouse where he lived with his family. But once he got there, he seemed agitated by something and in a great hurry. Without even making his usual visit to the bath-house, he wolfed down his rice and tea, said that he was going to visit a friend, and left the house.

While he was gone, the wind grew ever fiercer. The doors and shoji screens rattled. The dark mouths of the shutters yawned and slammed. The skies, despite all this, were clear, stars still and twinkling even as the gale grew wild. Gray clouds like piles of cotton swelled into view from time to time, shedding a few drops of rain. But just when it seemed about to pour, the wind would grow wild and blow the skies clear.

Link (Thanks, Bill!) Read the rest

Miro kicks Joost's ass

The Participatory Culture Foundation has published a compelling chart comparing the free, open Miro video player to Joost, a closed and proprietary system that's crippled with DRM and only carries content from those few producers lucky enough to get a deal with Joost. By contrast, Miro has done extensive outreach to indie creators, has no privacy-invading tracking of your viewing habits, delivers HD video, and is built on free software and open standards.

Using Miro is as easy as using a TiVo. Download the free software, pick the channels you want (over 2,500 of them at present, and anyone can publish new channels), and Miro will subscribe to your favorite net-shows, checking their RSS feeds for new episodes and downloading them with BitTorrent, so that the folks who make your shows don't go bankrupt on bandwidth bills. As a bonus, BitTorrent means that the more popular a show gets, the faster you'll get it -- no more sites being clobbered because too many people are using them at once. It doesn't matter what video format the shows are in, because Miro includes VLC, the open video player that can play pretty much every file-format on the net.

Miro is produced by a nonprofit, the Participatory Culture Foundation, who pay a staff of 11 (mostly hackers) to continuously improve and enhance the free/open Miro codebase. Miro is available for the Mac, Windows and Linux, with all versions being released simultaneously.

I'm proud to volunteer on the Foundation's board, and delighted to see how well we stack up against Joost, a company with more than 100 employees and a gigantic marketing budget (Miro's marketing budget is zero). Read the rest

War on Terror's war on chemistry sets

The 12 Angry Men blog has a good little rant about the death of the chemistry set, blaming it on lawyers, the war on terror, and the war on some drugs (specifically, the war on meth). These sets were key to interesting untold millions of kids in science and the scientific method.
Today however, the Chemistry Set is toast. Current instantiations are embarrassing. There are no chemicals except those which react at low energy to produce color changes. No glass tubes or beakers, certainly no Bunsen burners or alcohol burners (remember the clear blue flames when the alcohol spilled out over the table). Today’s sets cover perfume mixing and creation of luminol (the ‘CSI effect’ I suppose).

In some States, you need a FBI criminal background check to purchase chemicals. Some metals, like lithium, red phosphorus, sodium and potassium, are almost impossible to purchase in elemental form. This is thanks to their use in manufacturing methamphetamine. Sulphur and potassium nitrate, both useful chemicals, are being classified as class C fireworks (here is a good precursor link). Mail order suppliers of science products are raided. Many over-the-counter compounds now require what is essentially a (poor) background check. Even fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) is under intense scrutiny. Where does this trend end? Ten years from now, will the list include table salt, seawater and natural gas – precursors to many industrical chemicals?

Link (via /.)

(Photo credit: Ancient Chemistry Set, a Creative Commons Attribution-License photo from Vortistic's Flickr stream) Read the rest

Pregnancy products with funny names

Least Likely to Breed carries a range of delightfully named pregnancy products, from "Tough Titties Nipple Rub" to "Roid Rage Hemorrhoid Remedy" -- as well as a diaper salve called "Bad Ass Booty Balm." I have no idea if the stuff is any good, but the product names are great. Link (Thanks, Leigh!) Read the rest

Mac trojan in the wild

Malware for OS X is rare, but here's a new trojan that Mac users should know about:

(Screenshot from Sunbelt Software)

A malicious Trojan Horse has been found on several pornography web sites, claiming to install a video codec necessary to view free pornographic videos on Macs. A great deal of spam has been posted to many Mac forums, in an attempt to lead users to these sites. When the users arrive on one of the web sites, they see still photos from reputed porn videos, and if they click on the stills, thinking they can view the videos, they arrive on a web page that says the following:

Quicktime Player is unable to play movie file. Please click here to download new version of codec.

After the page loads, a disk image (.dmg) file automatically downloads to the user’s Mac. If the user has checked Open “Safe” Files After Downloading in Safari’s General preferences (or similar settings in other browsers), the disk image will mount, and the installer package it contains will launch Installer. If not, and the user wishes to install this codec, they double-click the disk image to mount it, then double-click the package file, named install.pkg.

If the user then proceeds with installation, the Trojan horse installs; installation requires an administrator’s password, which grants the Trojan horse full root privileges. No video codec is installed, and if the user returns to the web site, they will simply come to the same page and receive a new download.

Read the rest

Video tribute to designer Paul Rand - video

Marco says: "Paul Rand left a huge mark on American graphic design thanks to his corporate logo designs you've all probably seen. It was only recently that the UPS logo was redesigned from his original look.

"Here is a 4 minute Quicktime film tributing Paul's work, a delicious animated journey through very familiar shapes and colors as Paul explains graphic design. In short, it looks really great.

"Paul Rand was inducted to the One Show Creative Hall of Fame this week." Link Read the rest

Bamboo microscopes made in India for $4

Mason says:
Bamboo microscopes that cost just $4 are being made in India by a group called Jodo Gyan. They're hoping to supply kids with more hands-on learning, and get away from rote memorization.

Nature has an article about this, with photos of the microscope and of a woman making them.

Link Read the rest

Stuff found in jail library books

Jumbled Pile is a volunteer for the Jail Library Group, which provides reading materials to the residents of jails in Dane County, Wisconsin.

Occasionally, he comes across notes and sketches placed between the pages of the books. He scans these and posts them to his Flickr site. Link (Thanks, Seán in Seattle!) Read the rest

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets we saw a disgusting automatic donut maker, an interview with the writer of Portal, a bungee-strap for your laptop case, another rentable tank, the Asus Eee sub-notebook on sale, new versions of The Secret Life of Machines, a better painter's masking tape, a 900-lumen metal halide flashlight, a calculator belt buckle, and Portal papercraft. Today's also the last day to get in on our latest contest with the prize of one Neuros OSD. (Team bOING bOING has taken second place overall in the Cosmology@Home distributed computing program!) Read the rest

Schwarzenegger says Marijuana not a drug

Dan says: "Here is a great story I found about Arnold Schwarzenegger telling a British journalist that marijuana is not a drug. He was trying to deflect suggestions that he had used drugs in the past by saying weed is 'not a drug. It's a leaf." Then the PR machine began, predictably, to crank into full gear."
Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, said the governor made the comments in a lighthearted context, noting his interviewer was Piers Morgan, one of the judges on "America's Got Talent." Morgan is a former British newspaper editor.

"The governor was doing an interview with the host of 'America's Got Talent,' the newest version of the gong show," McLear said. "I think it's important to keep that quote in the context of the environment where it was said."

Link Read the rest

BBtv: Zombie Yoga. 100 undead doing poses in the park.

Today's Boing Boing tv episode:

The invite said "Bring a Yoga Mat - Dress Like a Zombie." When filmmaker and Boing Boing pal Jason Wishnow set out to create a trailer for Scott Kenemore's new book "The Zen of Zombie : Better Living Through the Undead" (yes, people make video trailers for books!) a vision came to his brrraiiiiinns. Why not gather 100 people in a Brooklyn park, dress them as zombies, and film them all doing yoga? There's no inner peace like undead inner peace.

So today on Boing Boing tv, in honor of Halloween, we've produced a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Jason's Zombie Yoga trailer (we'll share his actual trailer tomorrow!). Oh, and -- watch out for flying guts when they do "downward decapitated dog" or "corpse pose." (Music by T.bias.)

Link to video. Happy Halloween from Boing Boing! Zombies are forever.

Read the rest

Jenny Ryan's comic book embroidery

Via Joshua Glenn's Hermenaut:

Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics sez: "Jenny Ryan embroidered this awesome cover for Nickelodeon Mag's "Comic Book" section this month, based on a drawing by her husband, Johnny Ryan." Link Read the rest

Business of Death animation

Alejandro Cardenas and Daniel Cardenas were commissioned by GOOD Magazine to create this terrific animation presenting curious facts about the death industry. Link Read the rest

Samurai costume made from Rubbermaid trash-cans

Flickr user Kudzutech's bad-ass samurai costume (build detailed at the link below) is made from 32 gallon Rubbermaid garbage cans! Link (Thanks, Rob!) Read the rest

Chicago Public Radio on crashed drug plane

In the comments to the weird story about the crashed drug plane with ties to the CIA, Mongip pointed to a "much more detailed, objective and intriguing investigative report on this plane," from Chicago Public Radio.
The new owner? "Donna Blue Aircraft"[3] a corporation recently registered in South Florida to two Brazilians.

[Reporter Kevin] HALL: one of these mailboxes-are-us type of business.

Donnablueaircraft dot com was registered just ten days before they bought the plane[4] So is this just a Front Company? Investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker visited Donna Blue’s listed address… He found an empty office suite, a blank sign, and six unmarked police cruisers parked in front.[5]

[Investigative journalist Daniel] HOPSICKER: It’s a phony front company.

Exactly who these Brazilians are is a whole 'nuther story.

HOPSICKER: Non-US citizens are not allowed to own N-Numbered Planes…and…neither one of these guys appears to be a US Citizen.

HALL: he didn’t check either box as to whether he was a US citizen.

After just two weeks, the plane was sold again in another mysterious transaction. The only evidence for this is an anomalous bill of sale with the name of the new owner: “Clyde O’Connor” He’s a well-known guy around Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport.

HALL: I had the sense they seemed to have known more about him than they were letting on, he seems to be a veteran around that area, who’s got a bit of a checkered past.

O’Connor’s been involved in at least two plane crashes and he was cited for Criminal Air Safety Violations in 2001.

Read the rest

Etsy 2007 Halloween costume contest

Etsy.com announced the winners of its 2007 costume contest. I was honored to be one of the judges in the "General Awesomeness" category. Here's the first place winner, Sweetestpea's robot costume, complete with an LED (low-tech entertainment display) that can be hot-swapped with different hand-cut messages. More than 500 crafters entered. Congrats to everyone! Link Read the rest

Police testing gun camera

Southern California New York police will soon begin field testing this "pistol cam" that mounts to the barrel of a service revolver pistol. Cameras that mount on guns are not new, but this particular model will be deployed for tests over the next few months within the Orange County's sheriff's emergency service team and the Newburgh Police Department. According to WREX-TV, the president of the city of Newburgh's police union doubts that the officers will be happy about the new system. I fear looking at YouTube once the street finds its own use for these things. Link UPDATE: In the Discussion, Ed G. kindly points out that the Times Herald-Record has a much more detailed story about the PistolCam. Link Read the rest

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