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
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
In the Discussion
, Ed G. kindly points out that the Times Herald-Record has a much more detailed story about the PistolCam. Link
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.
to Science News, Link
to GOOD Magazine
Previously on BB:
• Failed futuristic predictions Link
• Gladwell on mysteries vs. puzzles Link
• Problems with predictions Link
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)
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!
See also: HOWTO: Make a bat-person costume out of an old umbrella
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.
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!
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."
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."
(Thanks, Tim K!
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!
See also: Balloon-dog anatomy
Here's a nice selection of paper doll "Hallowe'en costumes" inspired by Bob Dylan lyrics, courtesy of the Seattle Weekly.
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.
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...
Link (Thanks, Jess Hemerly!)
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."
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
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.
Link (Thanks, Gary!)
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.”