Boing Boing 

Photos of white unicorn

Because cockroaches are gross!

Darth Vader tea-towel

This Darth Vader tea-towel from Etsy seller JennyDee tickles my sithbone. This would make drying dishes into an exercise in resisting the Dark Side of the Force. Link (via Wonderland)

Albums reissued on reel-to-reel tape

Dave Katznelson of the marvelous Birdman Records pointed me to The Tape Project, an interesting subscription service for reissues of great music on reel-to-reel audio tape. Each release, from Sonny Rollins's "Saxophone Colossus" to Jacqui Naylor's "The Number White," comes on an engraved reel in a leather case and includes cover art printed on high-quality claycoat paper. Depending on the subscription package, each release costs around $129. From The Tape Project site:
 Finishedtape2Vidres Q: Why are you doing this?

A: Most people have not had the experience of hearing studio master tapes. Many formats have been introduced with the promise of bringing master tape sound into the home listening room.

Yeah, right.

We don’t expect that this tape project will replace any of your other favorite formats, so we see no need to dwell on the drawbacks of any other format. Suffice it to say that we don’t offer an “analog-like” listening experience. We are offering a chance to have in your own listening room an actual analog listening experience as close to the original master tape as practical.

Video of ultra creepy animated dentist training robot

This frightening animated robot is for training dentists. I don't know about you, but I'd rather practice dentistry on a white cockroach.
Picture 12-11 Simroid’s body and control system was developed by Kokoro Company Ltd., creators of the Actroid receptionist robot. Like her Actroid sister, Simroid is equipped with a system of air-powered muscles and soft silicone skin. However, she has something the Actroid does not – sensitive teeth. Thanks to a mouth loaded with sensors, she knows when her dentist-in-training makes a mistake. And to express her pain, she grimaces, moves her hands and eyes, and says, “That hurts.”

Kokoro says that for an extra touch of realism, Simroid exhibits a gag reflex when instruments are inserted too far into her mouth.


Fun clip of Beatles' "Help!"

Picture 11-11 Bedazzled has an old black and white video of the Beatles sitting on a plank laid across two sawhorses, lip syncing to Help!

The umbrella doesn't do a good job of catching the fake snow. Link

RU Sirius's two proposals

Our friend RU Sirius has published two intriguing calls to action on his blog, 10 Zen Monkeys:
The QuestionAuthority Proposal

It's time for all those who oppose authoritarian governance and culture to put aside their differences and join together in a coalition that can act as a counterforce to this gathering threat to our liberties. Link

The Open Source Party Proposal

A call for dynamic discourse about the things that really need to change, and how to evolve a new political organization that could kick up some noise by the time the next political season (2010) rolls around. Link

Audio slideshow of where NYC manhole covers are made

Picture 2-104 Photojournalist Adam Huggins, who has been living in India for the last five years, visited the factory in Calcutta where New York city manhole covers are made. He made an audio slideshow about his visit for the New York Times. Link (Thanks, Michael!)

A Day in the Life of a Networked Designer's Smart Things diagram

Designers Irene Pereyra and Tom Klinkowstein recently exhibited their wall-sized digram called "A Day in the Life of a Networked Designer's Smart Things or A Day in a Designer's Networked Smart Things, 2030." The map not only presents a narrative of how a designer "gets things done with the help of all her smart things" but at a higher level also seems to hint at how we may deal with mass amounts of information in the future. My Institute for the Future colleague Anthony Townsend saw the project in person and wrote a bit about it at the Future Now blog:
It's like reading the log file of a sensor-laden person. It seems also to be a potential inspiration for user interfaces to the vast amounts of personal data and media we'll throw off in the future... Finally, there is a fractal quality to this map that's really useful - big themes and events pop out at you, but you can zoom into the excruciating detail at will.
Link to Future Now, Link to PDF of "A Day in the Life..." diagram

Grow your own skin class this Sunday in LA


Chris Spurgeon says:

Following up on your post about the book bound in human skin about to go on the auction block in England, what if you want human skin for YOUR next art project, but don't want to be involved with murder, illegal sale of human remains, desecration of corpses and the like? The LA-based gallery/workshop Machine Project may have the answer!

This weekend they're hosting a lecture and workshop by members of the bio-art group SymbioticA . On Saturday night SymbioticA will be talking about some of their past projects, such as growing humane leather from individual skin cells and using a rotating micro-gravity bioreactor to create an actual human ear. Even better, on Sunday they're running a workshop at Machine Project on the basic principals of animal tissue culture and tissue engineering, aimed at would-be bio-artists and other interested parties. The workshop has a $55 fee and space is limited, so sign up early.


The 9 most badass Bible verses

Funny Cracked article about nine "badass" parts of the Bible.

(When did Sylvester P. Smythe's humor magazine start using such naughty words?)

 Articleimages Wong Badass3B

We've all been there. You're walking along, minding your own business, when a gang of cocky, young bastards start hurling abuse at you. Most of us would just keep walking, or maybe, yell some insults back or flip them the bird. Elisha (commonly regarded as the Luke Skywalker to the Prophet Elijah's Obi-Wan Kenobi), however, decides to take it one step further. Invoking the name of God, he summons motherfucking bears to come and claw the shit out of them.

Christians are constantly asking for prayer in schools to help get today's kids in line, but we beg to differ. We need bears in schools. If every teacher had the power to summon a pair of child-maiming grizzly avengers, you can bet that schoolchildren nowadays would be the most well-behaved, polite children, ever. It's a simple choice: listen to the biology lesson, or get first-hand knowledge of the digestive system of Ursus horribilis.

Link (Thanks, Michael!)

Photos of white cockroach


Enjoy these photos of a white cockroach, taken by Ester Beatriz. From the Albuquerque Tribune:

Every once in a while, you might find a white cockroach. If you do, you're seeing one in transition. As cockroaches mature, they discard their skin and grow a new, bigger skin. In the nearly 12 hours it takes to shed and then grow new skin, the roach is white.

Auction for human skin-bound book

A rare book believed to be bound in human skin will go up for auction in South Yorkshire, England on Sunday. This example of anthropodermic bibliopegy, titled "A True and Perfect Relation of The Whole Proceedings against the Late most barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and his Confederats," was printed in 1606 and is likely bound in the skin of the executed Jesuit priest, Father Henry Garnet, who is the subject of the text. From the BBC News:
Sid Wilkinson, from Wilkinson's Auctioneers, said: "It's a little bit spooky because the front of the book looks like it has the face of a man on it, which is presumed to be the victim's face..."

The lot is considered so unusual there is no reserve price attached to it.
Link to BBC News article, Link to auction site

Previously on BB:
• Books bound in human skin Link
• Human skin-bound book found in street Link

UPDATE: Thanks to BB community participant Evilrooster who found a great photo of the skin-bound book with the spooky "face" that has appeared on the cover. Link

Judge jailed entire courtroom over ringing mobile phone

Judge loses his job over mobile-phone rage. Nothing says judicial like collective punishment.
A US judge has been removed from the bench for jailing an entire courtroom audience after none of them admitted being responsible for a ringing phone.

A commission on judicial conduct said Judge Restaino had acted "without any semblance of a lawful basis" and behaved like a "petty tyrant".

The judge had been presiding over a domestic violence cases when he heard a mobile phone ring. It upset him so much that he threatened that every single person in the court was going to jail unless the offending mobile phone was handed in to him. When no-one came forward, the judge ordered that the 46 people in the audience be taken into custody.

Link (Thanks, Glyn!)

Non-Disney Disney songs

Dan sez, "The swell blog 'Isn't Life Terrible' has a small yet perfectly formed collection of non-Disney Disney songs available for download, including an apparently non-ironic ditty about how nifty it is to be a Walt Disney World annual passholder (or, as the Disney cast members will call you, 'passhole'). There are also couple of choir numbers from Rev. Billy's Church of Stop Shopping, spoken bits, and a nice parody of Randy Newman's transformation from a snarky satirist into the sappiest Disney songwriter since Mousketeer Jimmy Dodd." Link (Thanks, Dan!)

Swiss DMCA coming down -- 50,000 signatures needed to unmake it

Dave sez,
Who cares about about Swiss copyright laws? Nobody it seems, not even Swiss citizens.

On the 5th of October 2007, the Swiss law makers adopted a new law to comply with the WIPO treaties. Thanks to the entertainment lobbies, apart from criminalizing DRM circumvention devices, you can now win a one year visit in jail if you share a copyrighted file on a P2P network.

Did anybody hear about this new law ? No. Not even Swiss citizens. The media is quiet about this.

The thing is, Switzerland uses a direct democracy system, and this new law could be the subject to a federal vote if 50,000 people sign a request for it. That's called a Referendum request, and the deadline for its deposit is the 24th of January 2008. If there's no Referendum request by then, the law will become effective.

There's little doubt that if federal votes were to made today, the law would pass anyway. But at least a public debate could be created around the issue and people could react.

I'm sending you this news item because I just read your news post about Canada. It seems that in Canada some people are fighting because they're aware of the situation. Please somebody stand up and start a debate in Switzerland. Please.

Link (Thanks, Dave!)

BBtv: Giant Atari Joystick / 8-bit Therapy

Mark checks out a 15-times-larger-than-life Atari joystick replica by Jason Torchinsky, on display at Felt Club XL. Then, 8-bit help for those suffering from projectile dysfunction disorder.

BBC's iPlayer sold us out -- and then failed

My latest Guardian column, "Downloaded BBC programmes should be forever," talks about how the BBC has sold us out with its failed, DRM-based iPlayer (a reliable source puts the number of active iPlayer users at less than ten thousand and a second reliable source says, "That number sounds high") and how it and the Trustees should have had the guts to go to rightsholders and say, "Sorry, we can't accept any deal that doesn't give the public at least as much freedom as they have with their existing VCRs."
You might decide, hell, I'm a paid-up licence-payer, why shouldn't I use iPlayer to store up several months' worth of the kids' favorite cartoons for them to watch in an all-day marathon on New Year's day - while I sleep off New Year's Eve? You might just reach into the guts of your iPlayer and change the line of code that says, "Delete my shows after 28 days" to "Delete my shows after 28,000 years".

If you did you'd be part of a grand old tradition of shed-tinkerers. A few years back I attended a DRM meeting in Edinburgh. We were wrangling over a DRM for DVB, the digital video standard that is used throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and Australia. It was nearly Christmas, and one engineer slipped off at the break to buy his son an electronics kit at John Lewis. When he showed it around, all the engineers in the room immediately broke into nostalgic recollections of "building crystal sets with grandad in the shed" when they were growing up. These were the formative experiences that made engineers out of these gents, and yet there they were, busily designing a broadcast system that would prohibit user modification.


Canada's coming DMCA will be the worst copyright yet

The Canadian government is about to bring down Canada's version of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it promises to be the worst copyright law in the developed world. It will contain an "anti-circumvention" clause that prohibits breaking the locks off your music and movies in order to move them to new devices or watch them after the company that made them goes out of business -- and it will follow the US's disastrous lead with the DMCA in that there will be no exceptions to the ban on circumvention, not even for parody, fair dealing, time shifting, or other legal uses.

This will be even worse than the last Canadian copyright proposal, the defeated Bill C-60.

But there's hope. The last two Ministers who tried to push through a US-style copyright bill in Canada lost their jobs, thanks in large part to Canada's coalition of artists, educators, archivists, and public-interest activists. Selling Canada's digital future out to a handful of US companies is a bad career move for Canadian politicians.

Gear up for a fight in the New Year. The American record labels, in particular, are said to be well organised and ready to push this through on a fast track (even though they've abandoned DRM in the rest of the world, they view Canada as a weak sister they can push around).

If this law passes, it will mean that as soon as a device has any anti-copying stuff in it (say, a Vista PC, a set-top cable box, a console, an iPod, a Kindle, etc), it will be illegal for Canadians to modify it, improve it, or make products that interact with it unless they have permission from the (almost always US-based) manufacturer. This puts the whole Canadian tech industry at the mercy of the US industry, unable to innovate or start new businesses that interact with the existing pool of devices and media without getting a license from the States.

If this law passes, it will render all of the made-in-Canada exceptions to copyright for education, archiving, free speech and personal use will be irrelevant: if a technology has a lock that prohibits a use, your right to make that use falls by the wayside. Nevermind that you've got the right to record a show to watch later -- or to record a politician's speech so you can hold him to account later -- the policeman in the device can take that right away with no appeal.

If this law passes, it will make Canada into a backwards nation, lagging behind the UK, Israel and other countries that are passing new copyright laws that dismantle the idea of maximum copyright forever and in all things. Link

Small Beer Press xmas sale: fantastic literature at fantastic prices

Small Beer press is the publisher started by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, publishers of incredibly brilliant, mind-boggling science fiction and fantasy. They're copyfighter-friendly too, with many Creative Commons releases -- and they're committed to publishing some of the best independent work in the field.

Gavin writes, "Small Beer Press is having the End of the Year Blow Out Sale. All Books Come with Meaningless 100,000-Mile Invisible Warranty! All Books Printed on Paper! Guaranteed to Be Printed with Ink! All Books Guaranteed to Be Books! And all of them cheap as chips." Link (Thanks, Gavin!)

See also: Kelly Link's gorgeous short story collection now a CC download

Cheap billionaires

Forbes has a slideshow of billionaire cheapskates who drive old cars, fly economy and stay in budget hotels:
Ingvar Kamprad & Family

$33 billion

Country: Sweden
Ikea's pennywise founder is famous for being cheap. He flies coach, drives a 1993 Volvo and often dines at lower-tier restaurants. He also reportedly furnishes his home with Ikea's affordable merchandise. Kamprad was recently quoted as saying that the only luxuries he splurges on are the occasional upscale cravat and Swedish fish roe.

Link (via Digg)

(Image credit: Ikea, a Creative Commons Attribution only licensed photo from Seth W's photostream)

Xmas tree made from books

This "book tree" appears on the IJM photography site -- it's a great, bookish alternative to a Christmas tree/Hannukwanzah bush for this year. Link, Link to IJM site (giant Flash blob with no permalinks) (via Cribcandy)

CASH music, a platform for Radiohead-style digital distribution that makes fans into stake-holders

Chris sez, "One of my favorite songwriters, Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50FOOTWAVE, and solo) has founded the Coalition for Artists and Stake Holders, on the assumption that both artists and fans are stakeholders in the production of music. She's built a framework to distribute music on the internet while taking donations (sort of Radiohead-style: pay what you want) and taking full advantage of the medium -- including offering ProTools tem files via BitTorrent so you can remix her song!" Link (Thanks, Chris!)

Secret photo archives of the Mutter Museum: haunting book of Victorian pathological curiosities

Master archivist Rick Prelinger sez,
Always my first stop in Philadelphia, the Mutter Museum is the Victorian-era medical museum holding thousands of unforgettable (and often unsettling) objects, including anatomical and pathological specimens, models and instruments. While the Mutter demonstrates what 19th-century physicians did NOT know about disease, it also challenges our supposed sophistication about science and medicine and leads us to think about the infinite distance that separates us from the insides of our bodies.

The Mutter also has a historic archive of medical photographs, most of which have never been shown publicly. Now my friends at Blast Books have published a book of 200 images originally taken to illustrate medical and pathological conditions. Combining science and artistry, this is evidence you can't tear your eyes away from. As editor Laura Lindgren says, "Many of these photographs document unusual, sometimes nearly unimaginable, challenges of disorder, disease, and injury. A great many of these photographs are disquieting, yet they are equally moving in their portrayal of how these people endured their fate. A few photographs demonstrate the limited relief that medical science at the time was able to offer and thus show how very far medicine has advanced."

You may find this book disturbing, but you'll never think of your body the same way after looking at these amazing photos.

I've only visited the Mutter once, but it left an indelible mark on my psyche. As Rick says, I've never thought of my body the same way. I have a copy of gorgeous hardcover collection of the exhibits and it remains one of the most inspiring and haunting books on my shelf. Link (Thanks, Rick!)

See also:
The Mutter Museum in color photos
Curator of human oddities museum remembered

xkcd: The malware aquarium

Today on the marvellous geek webcomic xkcd, a great idea for a nerdy alternative to an aquarium: a collection of virtual Windows machines connected to the net without any firewalls, infected with every conceivable virus, a seething pit of virtual life. This would make a killer product -- a great Christmas present that could run on older, slower hardware. The breeders would have to tend them carefully to ensure that they catch a really interesting collection of malware, though. Link

See also:
XKCD creator in Wired; reappearance of blog-goggles in today's strip
Scary MBR-nuking program inspired by XKCD geeky webcomic
Ninjas attack Richard Stallman, reenacting xkcd comic
Cory Doctorow cosplayers at the XKCD picnic
Xkcd fans bring chess-sets on roller-coasters
Where LOLCats come from
Ironic Internet malapropism grid
Geeky comic about chess and roller-coasters
Nerd humor about Katamari Damacy
Sarcastic comic about computational linguistics (and emo kids)
Funny map of online communities in the style of a D&D map
Geeky comic strip uses Cory as the punchline
Bloggin' 'bout my generation

Looking back on 2007, part 2

For the next several weeks, I'm going to post my favorite entries from Boing Boing this year.

Heir to dictator moves into $35 million Malibu home (Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue's is slated to take over his father's role as ruthless dictator of Equatorial Guinea.)

Tijuana cops lose guns, get slingshots (While a corruption investigation is underway, they've replaced the guns all of the cops in tourist areas with slingshots and ball-bearings.)

State of Massachusetts insists on calling ATHF ads "hoax devices" (The people of Boston should be clamoring for the resignation of the mayor and the head of the department of security for being the only city in the ten-city ad campaign that didn't notice the signs hanging in plain sight for two full weeks and then misidentifying them in a way that caused widespread panic.)

Witch doctor orders death of Hollywood snow cone man (Article about snow cone vendor who was allegedly murdered by his girlfriend after a witch doctor told her the snow cone vendor had placed a curse on her.)

Police officer who ejaculated on motorist found not guilty (Jury in Orange County finds Irvine police officer not guilty of three felony charges after he pulled over a female motorist and ejaculated on her sweater.)

Previously on Boing Boing:
Looking back on 2007, part 1

Popeye, a real photograph and the comics anthologized

Popeyephotog Jacob at Fantagraphics spotted a lovely vintage portrait of, er, the real Popeye. Fantagraphics is now publishing beautiful oversized hardcover anthologies of the entire run of Popeye comic strips. Volume 1, titled "I Yam What I Yam," and Volume 2, titled "Well Blow Me Down!" are currently available.
Link to the full Popeye photo, Link to buy Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam", Link to buy Popeye Vol. 2: "Well Blow Me Down!"

2007 New Yorker cartoon similar to 1984 Far Side cartoon

This cartoon (by Lee Lorenz, a 74-year-old former art editor of The New Yorker) ran in the November 26th issue of The New Yorker  Images Articles 112707 Newyorker-1

This cartoon (by Gary Larson) ran in The Far Side Gallery, in 1984  Images Articles 112707 Farside-1

I think The New Yorker's cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, is correct here:

Mankoff explains that the sheer volume of cartoons produced by artists means that there is often overlap of ideas. "Often in the same week different cartoonists will independently come up with identical ideas," he says. "Other times cartoonists generate ideas that have been previously published in the magazine. This is not plagiarism; rather it is the result of very creative people developing many ideas from a few well-established, well-traveled cartoon settings."

Vintage photos from

"Square America" offers a lovely archive of old snapshots and vernacular photography -- here are two recently uploaded galleries. Above, one still from a set of several dozen photos of women on television in 1957:

Encrusted with 50 year old dust and emulsion the photos of women from melodramas and late-night talk shows are not only a record of one person's peculiar obsession but also a virtual catalog of the kind of roles women played in the popular entertainment of the era.
And below, "The Party," nearly 50 photos from a late '60s/early '70s biracial/bisexual bacchanal. Or maybe it's a lost American Apparel ad. (mild NSFW, a couple of blurry topless ladies in there).

(Thanks, Clayton Cubitt!)

Amazon fights Fed's request for names of book buyers

CNN Money reports that Amazon went to court to fight a subpoena demanding the names of thousands of used book buyers as part of a fraud and tax crime case against a man named Robert D'Angelo.
"The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission," [U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen] Crocker wrote. "It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else.


"If the government had been more diligent in looking for workarounds instead of baring its teeth when Amazon balked, it's probable that this entire First Amendment showdown could have been avoided," he wrote."


Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets we saw these two fantastic (if I do say so myself) life-sized plush Weighted Companion Cubes that will be awarded as the grand prizes at this year's Funde Razor (human test subject not included), an electric knife sharpener that might not suck, Verizon's intriguing announcement that they will be opening up their wireless network to various and sundry devices, a clever and inexpensive way to turn iPod nano packaging into a speaker, Hello Kitty bike tires, an expensive aluminum sled with a shock absorber, a web game from Democrats about Missouri governor Matt Blunt, awesome branch-like wine decanters, the next thing in anti-mugger weaponry, Pigantics, an amazing gallery of retro flashlights, another old flashlight which prompted the previous find, Stephen Fry reviewing the Eco Media Player, another place to repair or recycle your iPod or game consoles, a white LED retro watch, a luggage store that looks like an aircraft interior, and a new cell phone game based on Magnum, P.I. And big, fat deals. I mean, like, orca fat.