Boing Boing 

Accused flasher's defense: embrarassingly small penis

Michael Carney, in a Teesside, England, court on charges of being a serial flasher, claimed that there's no way he could be guilty because his penis is so small that he's too embarrassed to show it anyone. The repeat offender was convicted of seven counts of "outraging public decency." From the BBC News:
During the three-day trial the defendant told the court: "It causes embarrassment to myself, even to the point where it is with my wife. I wouldn't want myself to be seen in public like that.

"My genitalia are underdeveloped and it is so much smaller than average."

He showed the jury photographs taken by his wife to prove his claims.
Link (via Fortean Times)

SMS for the nearest toilet

The UK's first SMS service for finding the nearest toilet launched in London today. Just text the word "toilet" and SatLav, run by the Westminster City Council, points you the nearest public toilet. Someone should build a recommendation system on top of that and name it George, after the Seinfeld character who knew the location of every good bathroom in Manhattan. From the Associated Press:
The system, which covers 40 public toilets, pinpoints the caller's position by measuring the strength of the phone signal. The texts cost about 50 cents, and most of Westminster's toilets are free.

The council said it hopes the service will stop people from urinating in alleyways, saying some 10,000 gallons of urine ends up in Westminster streets each year.
Link

Schoolteacher in Sudan on trial for naming teddy bear Muhammad

Reason's Hit and Run blog reports that a British schoolteacher is will be tried for "blasphemy, inciting hatred, and insulting Islam" because she named a teddy bear Muhammad.
Picture 8-22 Contrary to reassurances from the Sudanese embassy in London, Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher in Khartoum who did not realize naming a teddy bear Muhammad was verboten, has been charged with blasphemy, inciting hatred, and insulting Islam. The possible penalties include a fine, 40 lashes, and six months in jail. The government promises a "swift and fair trial," saying, "she will be brought in front of a judge, and now she must prove her innocence"–which gives you a sense of how the court system works in Sudan. Gibbons' lawyer says the defense will be straightforward: She had "absolutely no intention to insult religion, and for blasphemy to take place there must be an insult."
Link | Time Online article

President Bush's travel entourage

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Nice Reuters graphic shows the people, animals, and vehicles that travel with the United States President.

(Update: This graphic probably isn't from Reuters, but the numbers match this New Zealand Herald story.) Link

Test to see if champion walk racer will run when scared

Picture 7-24 Here's a clip from a Japanese TV show that sends a fake gang of murderous Samurai after the world champion race walker to find out if he will run or walk quickly from the perceived threat. Link

Federal court orders confiscated pot to be returned to owner

Twenty-two-year-old Felix Kha will be reunited with the marijuana police took from him two and a half years ago, ruled the 4th District Court of Appeal.
Picture 4-53 Lawyers for Garden Grove said they were not seeking to have the state's medical marijuana laws declared unconstitutional on pre-emptive grounds, but were simply arguing that the city did not want to be in the position of having to return marijuana to a patient once it has been seized -- lawfully under federal law -- by police.

Kha's attorneys argued that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution effectively prohibits federal interference with California's medical marijuana laws, and the three-justice panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal agreed.

The justices found that because, under state law, Kha was lawfully entitled to possess the marijuana, "due process and fundamental fairness dictate that it be returned to him."

The justices said Kha is "nothing more than an aggrieved citizen who is seeking the return of his property."

Link (Via LAist)

Jason Hackenwerth's huge balloon creatures

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Jason Hackenwerth creates massive surreal balloon sculptures that can take more than a week to complete. This bizarre organism was blown and twisted for a gala last year at the New Museum New York. Link to Jason Hackenwerth site, Link to photos of a Hackenwerth installation at a wedding party (Thanks, Carlo Longino!)

CBC radio show needs your input for question with Minister responsible for Canadian DMCA

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio show Search Engine is soliciting your questions for an interview with Industry Minister Jim Prentice about the upcoming Canadian DMCA legislation, which will give Canada one of the most backwards copyright regimes in the world.
We want to give Canadians one last chance to be heard on this subject before their government moves forward, and that's why we're asking Industry Minister Jim Prentice on to Search Engine, to answer questions posed by you. We have every confidence that when Minister Prentice sees the amount of public concern on this topic, he'll make himself available for a conversation. Submit your questions in the comments.
Link

See also:
Canada's coming DMCA will be the worst copyright yet
Canadian DMCA: how it might have happened

(Disclosure: I am a paid columnist for Search Engine)

Universal Music CEO's fears illustrated in funny webcomic

The latest installment of the Hijinks Ensue webcomic dramatises the now-infamous Wired interview with Universal Music CEO Doug Morris in which the scared old man claimed that the record industry had been unable to respond to Napster because they don't understand technology and are too naive to hire a technologist to explain it to them because in their ignorance, they wouldn't be able to tell if s/he was lying. Link (Thanks, Emily!)

See also:
Universal Music CEO: Record industry can't tell when geeks are lying to us about technology Universal Music CEO: iPod owners are thieves

Cocktail Robotics festival speeches -- audio

The organizers of last week's "cocktail robotics" festival in Vienna, Austria, the annual "Roboexotica" event, have posted the audio from the lectures in German and English. I gave a talk there called "A Singular Metaphor" in which I tried to delve into the reason that the idea of uploading our minds is so attractive right now. Sean Bonner had a fun talk on user power on sites like Digg called "The inmates have taken over the asylum...," while Jens Ohlig from the Chaos Computer Club proposed that robots should create all literature, David Fine pondered consciousness, and Make Magazine's Bre Pettis gave a talk called "Machines: If you can't beat them, join them," about the utopia of apocalypse. Link (Thanks, Johannes!)

BBtv: Film Can Cannon / Snack Mansion


Mark shows us how to make an explosive miniature cannon out of some breath spray and an empty film canister (don't try this at an airport, folks). Then, good foods gone bad -- an excerpt from "Snack Mansion," a short claymation film by Lauren Adolfsen. When the pizza makes out with the cookie and the banana barfs, you know it's a party.

Link to video, BBtv post, and comments.

Vinge's BRILLIANT "Rainbows End" as a free download

Vernor Vinge has put the entire text of his magnificent, prescient, mind-alteringly good novel Rainbows End online as a free download. This was one of the best books of 2006, a book that practically defines what "post-cyberpunk" really means: stories about what happens when the world (and not the street) finds its own use for technology. The tech touches -- massive, augmented reality ARGs; adaptive full-body user-interfaces; destructive book-scanners -- are half-predictive, half-allegorical, and entirely provocative. What a treat!
The first bit of dumb luck came disguised as a public embarrassment for the European Center for Defense against Disease. On July 23, schoolchildren in Algiers claimed that a respiratory epidemic was spreading across the Mediterranean. The claim was based on clever analysis of antibody data from the mass transit systems of Algiers and Naples.

CDD had no immediate comment, but in less than three hours, public-health hobbyists reported similar results in other cities, complete with contagion maps. The epidemic was at least one week old, probably originating in Central Africa, beyond the scope of hobbyist surveillance.

By the time CDD got its public relations act together, outbreaks had been detected in India and North America. Worse yet, a journalist in Seattle had isolated and identified the infectious agent, which turned out to be a Pseudomimivirus. That was about as embarrassing a twist as the public relations people could imagine: Back in the late 'teens, CDD had justified its enormous budget with a brilliant defense against the New Sunrise cult. The Sunrise Plague had been the second-worst Euro-terror of the decade. Only CDD's leadership had kept the disaster from spreading worldwide.

The Sunrise Plague had been based on a Pseudomimivirus.

Link, Buy Rainbows End (Thanks, Ori!)

See also:
Vernor Vinge on computers, freedom and privacy
Vernor Vinge interview
Vernor Vinge and Cory on the Singularity on NPR

EFF proves Comcast is screwing with BitTorrent, releases instructions for testing your own ISP

A pair of new Electronic Frontier Foundation reports prove that Comcast is degrading and interfering with BitTorrent, and shows how you can use free software to test your own ISP to see if it is doing the same:
In addition to providing evidence of network interference, the EFF study also explains how Comcast's selective degradation of BitTorrent traffic undermines future Internet innovation. "The Internet has enabled a cascade of innovations precisely because any programmer--whether employed by a huge corporation, a startup, or tinkering at home for fun--has been able to create new protocols and applications that operate over TCP/IP, without having to obtain permission from anyone," the EFF wrote. "Comcast's recent moves threaten to create a situation in which innovators may need to obtain permission and assistance from an ISP in order to guarantee that their protocols will operate correctly. By arbitrarily using RST packets in a manner at odds with TCP/IP standards, Comcast threatens to Balkanize the open standards that are the foundation of the Internet."

The EFF also published a second report (PDF), which provides detailed technical instructions explaining how to use Wireshark to reproduce their study and test for ISP packet injection.

Link

See also:
How the AP busted Comcast for blocking BitTorrent
Why Comcast's BitTorrent-fux0r is bad for quality of service
Comcast also screwing with Gnutella and Lotus Notes (!?!)
Comcast actively blocks P2P traffic
Modest proposal for Comcast's net-filtering

Google says spammers are giving up

Google's chief spamfighter says that he's seeing less spam email coming into Google Mail and speculates that spammers are giving up on bulk spam because of the efficacy of filters; he predicts an enormous rise in quasi-spam from companies that you did business with once or twice and now feel entitled to email you all the time. I get craploads of this stuff myself -- PR releases (any PR person who puts me on a mailing list goes straight into my killfile, forever), circulars from some etailer I bought something from eight years ago, even monthly newsletters from a clinical massage place in Toronto I saw for a sore shoulder, once, in 1988. Unsubcribing to this stuff is time-consuming and only works about a third of the time, in my experience.

Of course, I also get thousands of spams a day (most of which are successfully repelled by greylisting, leaving only a thousand or so that get through to my mailer, which filters all but a couple hundred).

Google won't disclose numbers, but the company says that spam attempts, as a percentage of e-mail that's transmitted through its Gmail system, have waned over the last year. That could indicate that some spammers have gotten discouraged and have stopped trying to get through Google’s spam filters.
Link

MiShare lets you swap files between iPods

The MiShare is a matchbox-sized $100 Linux appliance that interfaces between two iPods and allows you to transfer files back and forth between them. This'd be great for bands that want to share their work with people who show up at gigs, and for sharing your CC-licensed music with friends at school or work. It's pre-order only now, alas.

We want miShare to be both simple and powerful. Just attach two iPods, slide miShare's on-switch to music, video or photo, and press miShare's only button. You decide whether you copy the song or video that was last played through to its end, or a pre-defined photo folder. Give the miShare button a longer press (three seconds) and it will copy a collection of files. miShare uses the On-The-Go playlist for multiple songs–just create an On-The-Go playlist on the source iPod by selecting by song, artist, album, or even playlist.
Link (via Gizmodo)

Toys R Us receipt cruft, an inch-by-inch analysis

The Entirely Other Day blog has an inch-by-inch breakdown of all the cruft on a 1.5 foot-long Toys R Us receipt for four tubs of Play-Doh. Link (via Kottke)

Extra stuff photoshopping contest


Today on the Worth1000 photoshopping contest: "More Than Usual" -- pictures with extra stuff (eyes, limbs, branches, etc). Viscerally creepy! Link