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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!)

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). Joost is a pretty nightmarish vision for the future of Internet video: a DRM-crippled, locked up future where video producers and viewers are beholden to a single company that chooses what does and does not get shown. This is the Internet, after all, not cable TV. Let's keep it that way! Link, Link to download today's new Public Release 3 of the Miro software for Mac, Windows and Linux

(Disclosure: I am proud to volunteer on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Participatory Culture Foundation, which produces Miro)

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)

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!)

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.


Video tribute to designer Paul Rand - video

Picture 14-5

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

Bamboo microscopes made in India for $4

Mason says:
200710311436 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.


Stuff found in jail library books

200710311433 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!)

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!)

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."


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.

Jenny Ryan's comic book embroidery

Via Joshua Glenn's Hermenaut:

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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

Business of Death animation

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

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!)

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.

[Florida reporter Bob] NORMAN: He’d gone through bankruptcies, a divorce, he’s a chronic traffic offender.

Florida reporter [and Blogger @ the Broward Palm Beach New Times] Bob Norman tried to track down O’Connor.

NORMAN: He’s a slippery guy, … and where the money’s coming from, I think that’s a big question.

Kevin Hall was wondering about O’Connor’s money too.

HALL: …seems to own a $450,000 house, so he seems to be doin pretty well even though his businesses are going bad

He has two corporations registered in his name, but they’re run out of Post Office Boxes and their phones are disconnected. Bob went looking for O’Connor at Ft. Lauderdale executive airport. He just missed him.

NORMAN: I don’t know why he was there but it was the talk of the airport.

So Bob reported he had been seen around the Ft Lauderdale airport days after the crash. The same day his story came out, O’Connor left the country in a hurry.[6] He flew to Canada and was arrested right away for lying about the guns in his bag.[7] Then, he paid several thousand dollars to get his plane back and then flew it to the Azores. He still doesn’t appear to be under investigation for any wrongdoing, despite being the cocaine plane’s owner of record. This really gets Bob Norman’s goat…

NORMAN: This is a trail that needs to be investigated, Clyde O’Connor needs to be investigated.

And according to the bill of sale… He was the lawful owner of the plane.

SLACK: Even though the paperwork may not be on record and filed, presumptive ownership transfers on the date of sale.

There’s another big question about Clyde…

ROOT: Who actually piloted the plane out of the US was it Mr. O’Connor, who wasn’t certified?…

So did he fly it illegally or did someone else fly it? And also: who gave O’Connor the money to buy the plane? According to the Brazilian owner, O’Connor was buying the plane on behalf of someone else… Then who’s he buying it for? There was another name on the bill of Sale: Greg Smith, the only person involved in the deal not to have left the country. So Dan Hopsicker tried to get his side of the story,

HOPSICKER: The pilots aren’t talking to the press so I asked someone who I know does business with the two pilots to call and Greg Smith blurted out ‘it was Don’s money’…

That’s Don Whittington, a convicted drug smuggler, tax evader and champion race car driver.

Several of his planes were named in investigations of the CIA rendition program[9] but we’ll get back to him later. So What do we know so far…Weve got a crashed drug plane in Mexico…It’s got a history of government use…It changes hands twice in a couple weeks before crashing…

Link | Link to MP3

Etsy 2007 Halloween costume contest

 All Images 8 8A7 2C9 Il 430Xn.13150955 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!

Police testing gun camera

 Images Gun Cameras 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.

UPDATE: In the Discussion, Ed G. kindly points out that the Times Herald-Record has a much more detailed story about the PistolCam. Link

Game theory and future forecasting

Political scientist Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is bringing mathematics to bear on what Yogi Berra said is the hardest thing to predict: the future. The New York University professor is profiled in this week's Science News and is also on the cover story in the current issue of GOOD Magazine. He's consulted for the CIA, the Department of Defense, and Fortune 500 companies to help generate forecasts using a computerized game theory model. He's recently worked with the US government on the conflict with Iran. However, he says his private consultancy's corporate policy bars him from saying, "on a commercial basis," who will be the next president of the United States. From Science News:
The details of his study of negotiation options with Iran are classified, but Bueno de Mesquita says that the broad outline is that there is nothing the United States can do to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear energy for civilian power generation. The more aggressively the U.S. responds to Iran, he says, the more likely it is that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. The upshot of the study, Bueno de Mesquita argues, is that the international community needs to find out if there is a way to monitor civilian nuclear energy projects in Iran thoroughly enough to ensure that Iran is not developing weapons.

One of his most famous past predictions also concerned Iran. In 1984, the model predicted that when Ayatollah Khomeini died, an ayatollah named Hojatolislam Khameini and a little-known cleric named Hasheimi Rafsanjani would rise to succeed Khomeini as leaders of Iran. At the time, most experts considered that outcome exceedingly unlikely, since Khomeini had designated a different person as his successor. But in fact, when Khomeini died five years later, Rafsanjani and Khameini succeeded him.

Bueno de Mesquita says he also predicted that Andropov would succeed Brezhnev long before experts considered it likely. He foresaw that China would reclaim Hong Kong 12 years before it happened, and he predicted that France would narrowly pass the European Union's Maastricht Treaty.

Former CIA analyst Stanley Feder says that he has used Bueno de Mesquita's model well over a thousand times since the early 1980s to make predictions about specific policies. Like others, he has found it to be more than 90 percent accurate.
Link to Science News, Link to GOOD Magazine

Previously on BB:
• Failed futuristic predictions Link
• Gladwell on mysteries vs. puzzles Link
• Problems with predictions Link

Zombie thought to really be dead

After attending a Halloween party in Hamburg, Germany, a 26-year-old drunken man dressed as a zombie passed out on the train home. Passengers thought he was dead and called police. Apparently, Halloween costumes aren't a common sight in the town he was passing thorough. From Reuters:
A first aid team called to the scene soon cleared up the confusion. Police told the man to remove his make-up after which he was allowed to continue his journey.
Link (via Fortean Times)

HOWTO Make an anatomically correct batwing costume from old umbrellas

Evil Mad Scientist Labs have improved on their classic design for a bat-wing costume made from old umbrellas with a new design that is even more anatomically correct! Link (via Craft)

See also: HOWTO: Make a bat-person costume out of an old umbrella

Blog-goggles and red cape make another webcomic appearance

The punchline on today's Jack of All Blades web-comic riffs off my fave xkcd episode -- the one where I'm outed for my practice of blogging from a hot-air balloon while wearing goggles and a red cape. Link (Thanks, Joe!)

See also:
Geeky comic strip uses Cory as the punchline
Cory Doctorow cosplayers at the XKCD picnic

Update: From the comments, "Cory (A Different One)"'s revelation that this was his Hallowe'en costume!

Tokyo Disneyland's Haunted Mansion themed Hallowe'en parade

Kirby sez,

Ricky at Inside the Magic has a video of Disney's Haunted Halloween Parade at Tokyo Disneyland.

All of the floats have Haunted Mansion themes - even obscure stuff like the Rolly Crump designed overstuffed easy chair with the face worked into the design. Another float has the Ballroom's Organ as the major design element. The Knight from just outside the endless hallway is represented by 4 cast members. The bride is a chipmunk character. Another float has a giant representation of the skeletal arm with a trowel bricking himself into his own tomb.

A phalanx of Haunted Mansion maids leads the parade. Ghosts from the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Lonesome Ghosts" pepper the entire parade.

The song that accompanies the parade is called "One More Ghost" in reference to the need to find that 1000th ghost that the Mansion needs.

The show stop at the end of the parade features the Japanese Ghost Host voice with various riffs off of the Grim Grinning Ghosts theme.

MP4 Link, Inside the Magic podcast (Thanks, Kirby!)

South African kids' cartoon about DRM

Lauren sez, "Our kick-ass South African sci-fi kids' show, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika has a special episode about the music industry and DRM technology, only in our universe, 'DRM' stands for the Don't Rip Monsters, who really do bite you on the ass if you dare to file-share." Link (Thanks, Lauren!)

Skeletal Looney Toons sculpture from Hollywood Day of the Dead

Tim K sez, "I thought you'd enjoy seeing this set of Flickr pix I took at a Hollywood Day of the Dead festival: Bugs and the gang as Looney Tunes skeletons." Link (Thanks, Tim K!)

Blythe doll internal organs clothes

Flickr's Girlontherocks has made a grisly "inside out" wardrobe for her Blythe doll, garments that show the doll's notional internal organs -- it's the Visible Woman Blythe Doll! Link (via Craft)

See also: Balloon-dog anatomy

Bob Dylan Hallowe'en costumes

Here's a nice selection of paper doll "Hallowe'en costumes" inspired by Bob Dylan lyrics, courtesy of the Seattle Weekly. Link (via Neatorama)

Wired editor bans PR flacks

For the past week or so, I've been blacklisting PR flacks from my email inbox. Anytime I get a press release that doesn't interest me, I add the domain name of the PR agency to my killfile list.

I just found out that Chris Anderson, Wired's editor-in-chief, has been doing the same thing.

He's also published his long, long list of banned flacks. Good for him.

I've had it. I get more than 300 emails a day and my problem isn't spam (Cloudmark Desktop solves that nicely), it's PR people. Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can't be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they're pitching.

Everything else gets banned on first abuse. The following is just the last month's list of people and companies who have been added to my Outlook blocked list. All of them have sent me something inappropriate at some point in the past 30 days. Many of them sent press releases; others just added me to a distribution list without asking. If their address gets harvested by spammers by being published here, so be it--turnabout is fair play.

There is no getting off this list. If you're on it and have something appropriate to say to me, use a different email address.

Link (Thanks, Barry!)

Donovan to open meditation-based college

Donovan, singer of such fantastic 60s tunes as "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman" is opening his own Donovan University in Scotland where students will all practice transcendental meditation. He's working on the idea with his surrealist film director pal David Lynch. From the Associated Press:
"The Maharishi told me during that 1968 visit that I should build a university in Edinburgh. I went to my room and drew a beautiful dome-shaped place of learning," he said Friday...

Donovan and Lynch, Oscar-nominated director of "Blue Velvet," "Mullholland Dr." and "The Elephant Man," are part of a tour to promote transcendental meditation as a means of reducing violence, crime and stress in schools and colleges...

"For a country the size of Scotland it would take only 250 students meditating to protect Scotland from its enemies and to bring peace, to stop violence and drug abuse," Lynch said. "That is just a byproduct of the students meditating together."
Link (Thanks, Jess Hemerly!)

Film news about Philip K. Dick's Radio Free Albemuth

  Z5Vpnaabjv8 Rydmmjcbidi Aaaaaaaaayg Trt4Jrxcwtg S1600 Pkd Radio Free A Production has wrapped on the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel Radio Free Albemuth. The 10th movie adaptation of a PKD story, the indy movie was directed by John Alan Simon and stars Alanis Morisette. According to Simon, the total shoot took just 24 days and "the entire budget of the picture was less than the majors spend on catering." David Gill has more news over at the Total Dick-Head blog including promise of an interview with the director.
Link to Total Dick-Head, Link to buy the book Radio Free Albemuth

Andrew Keen gets it wrong again

Professional amateur-hater Andrew Keen gets raked over the coals by Daily Kos' Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. On page 52 of Keen's silly book The Cult of the Amateur, Keen writes:
Unfortunately, the internet is bloated with the hot air of these amateur journalists. Despite the size of their readership, even the A-List bloggers have no formal journalistic training. And, in fact, much of the real news their blogs contain has been lifted from (or aggregated from) the very news organizations they aim to replace.

It is not surprising then that these prominent bloggers have no professional training in the collection of news. After all, who needs a degree in journalism to post a hyperlink on a Web site? Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, for example, the founder of Daily Kos, a left-leaning site, came to political blogging via the technology industry and the military.

Kos responds by listing his education and professional background as a journalist, which anyone with access to the Internet can easily discover for themselves.

Moulitsas earned two bachelor degrees at Northern Illinois University (1992-96), with majors in Philosophy, Journalism, and Political Science and a minor in German.

After a hitch serving as an artillery fire director at the headquarters for a missile battery, he attended Northern Illinois University, winning dual degrees and majoring in philosophy, political science and journalism and minoring in German.

From there, it was on to Boston University, where he earned his law degree.

“I knew in law school that I never wanted to be a lawyer. It was a way to kill three years of my life,” he offered with a smile.

He could have become a reporter–there was a job offer from the Associated Press–and he did freelance for three years for the Chicago Tribune, “but I decided I didn’t want to live vicariously through other people’s lives.”

Link (Thanks, Gary!)