Boing Boing 

HOWTO Get a load of hard-disk space back

A handy tip -- if you use Thunderbird to get your email, don't forget to occasionally run File -> Compact Folders. I did so yesterday and reclaimed nearly 20GB of hard drive space! Comparing my mail folder to my backup, I discovered that every single email that I'd "deleted" for over a year (by putting it in the Trash and then emptying it) was still lurking on my disk.

Man called directory assistance 10,000 times

A 37-year-old Japanese man has been arrested after placing 10,000 calls to directory assistance. He did not need to get phone numbers, rather, he called because he enjoyed having the operators chide him.
He reportedly told police that he was lonely and grew to enjoy annoying the operators.

"I would go into ecstasy when a lady scolded me," he was quoted as saying by Jiji Press.

Telephone operators - who in Japan are almost always women - nicknamed him the "don't-hang-up-man".

His calls usually came late and sometimes exceeded 200 times a night, Jiji Press said.

Link (Via Digg)

1961 monster toy commercial Great Garloo

This commercial from 1961 features an especially ugly robot named the Great Garloo. It was designed by Marvin Glass, the genius game designer who made Ants in the Pants, Dynamite Shack, Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots, Gnip Gnop, Hands Down, Haunted House, Lite Brite, Odd Ogg, Operation, Mouse Trap, Time Bomb, Tip-It, and Toss Across, among other masterpieces of primary-colored plastic. (Via Endless Parade of Excellence)

Previously on Boing Boing:
Robot Commando toy TV commercial
TV commercials for 1970s Planet of the Apes dolls
Killer reel of 1970s toy commercials
Mr. Machine toy robot TV commercial
Wonderfully bizarre Folger's commercial
Creepy Crawlers TV commercial
1960s TV commercial for V-RROOM! tricycle noise-maker
Early 70s Levi stop-motion commercial
Mystery Date game TV commercial

Man unveils 30-year-old "instant water boiler" invention

Ninety-two-year-old Peter Davey of New Zealand says he invented a unique water boiling gadget 30 years ago. He claims it uses sound waves, not a heating element, to boil water in seconds.
Picture 5-54Davey noticed as he played the saxophone at home that everything resonated at a different frequency.

"The glasses will tinkle on one note. Knives and forks in the drawer will tinkle on another note and I realised that everything has its point of vibration," he said. "In the same way, a component in the ball is tuned to a certain frequency."

A retired engineering professor, Arthur Williamson, was invited to look at the boiler in action. He said:

"I don't know enough about sound to know whether you can transfer that amount of energy via soundwaves. I doubt it," said Williamson.

He did remember an alternative kettle years ago that had two perforated metal plates inside. The power ran between the plates, through the water. "The resistance through the water provided the load. I wonder if it isn't working like that? Without taking it to bits, you can't tell."

Someone, please, take it to bits. Link

Falco finally honored in San Francisco with "sister stairs"

Following up on a pair (1, 2) of Boing Boing tv episodes in which monochrom explores the posthumous legacy of '80s pop icon Falco, who is memorialized in Austria with honorific stairs, Jacob Appelbaum says:

Some anonymous fans of both Vienna, San Francisco and Falco appear to have taken their love to the stairs. Specifically the Coit Tower stairs! Snip:

"The original Falco staircase (or Falcostiege) in Vienna was dedicated after the Musician's death in 1998. The staircase is quite small and unimpressive. Apparently the city was unable to find a street or bridge named after a dead fascist which could be rededicated. As of this week, San Francsico honors Falco with a plaque on the stairs leading to Coit Tower. At last, a fitting tribute!"

Link. Huh, I wonder who did this! Monochrom has more: Link 1, Link 2.


* BBtv: Falco Stairs/Fuji Apple (monochrom)
* BBtv: Bar code artist Scott Blake / Falco stencil memorial (monochrom)

UPDATE: Tony says,

The new Falco Stairs were done as part of a task on, and you can see the task "proof" here.

I don't know how familiar you are with SF0 (I'm sure BoingBoing has done stuff on it) but we are doing all sorts of things like this. SF0 was responsible for Doorhenge in the park last year (I and my daughter got to add my own piece to that wickedcool story, actually). Anyway, it is worth your time for the Falco thing specifically and for a whole lot more, including some damn wonderful creative people (Jane McGonigal and Chicken John are both members).

Egypt: broken undersea cable causes major 'net outage

A damaged undersea cable caused internet connectivity links to Egypt, India and several Gulf region countries to be disrupted today. Authorities in Egypt say services may not return to normal for several days:
It was not immediately possible to gauge the impact of the disruption on financial institutions. Egypt's telecoms ministry said 70 percent of the country's Internet network was down and India initially said it had lost over half its bandwidth.

"This cut has affected Internet services in Egypt with a partial disruption of 70 percent of the network nationwide," the Egyptian ministry said in a statement.

Link - a directory of how-to videos

The New York Times profiles Stephen Chao, a former Fox executive who was fired in 1992 by Rupert Murdoch for hiring a male stripper at a Fox meeting (Here's an old NYT story about it). He has a new web directory of how-to videos called It has links to 100,000 how-to videos.

Here are some fun quotes from the article:

Picture 4-64 (Photo by Ann Johansson for The New York Times)

Mr. Chao is an expert at getting attention, but it will be difficult to top some of his previous stunts. Once, during a party at Mr. Murdoch’s home, Mr. Chao nearly drowned his host’s purebred puppy after throwing it in a swimming pool to see if it could swim. Mr. Chao then had to jump into the pool, while in a business suit, to save it.

After parting ways with Fox, Mr. Chao spent six weeks working at a McDonald’s in Redondo Beach, Calif. He went on to head programming for USA Networks, where he helped develop the popular series “Monk.” But a fiery relationship with Mr. Diller, the head of the network, overshadowed that experience. The two executives had a hard time living down an incident when both were at Fox in which Mr. Diller hurled a videocassette at Mr. Chao with such intensity that it created a hole in the wall. Mr. Chao framed that section of the wall.


Osama bin Laden found in Colombia, sort of.

There's a dude named Fernando Aguirre in Bogota, Colombia, who runs around claiming he's Osama Bin Laden's son.
[He] patrols the most dangerous slums of Bogota and lives from the contributions received from those seeking his protection. Aguirre informs police on petty crimes being committed and is allowed by authorities to brandish his fake rifle.
Link. Image: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz. (via R Stevens' tweets).

Spiral Jetty, monumental earthwork, threatened by oil drilling

Paddy from the blog Art Fag City says:

I just received an email from a colleague of mine informing me that new oil development plans threaten the integrity of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. According to the artist's widow Nancy Holt, a number of pipes and pumps will be laid beneath the water and shore, as well as roads built for oil tank trucks, and cranes for other project needs, all of which promise to severely alter the surrounding environment including Spiral Jetty. A call for help is currently being circulated, the protest deadline, 7 PM ET today. Those wishing to voice their concerns should email or call Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023 Refer to Application # 8853.
Link to Paddy's post. A copy of the drilling document ("Application #8853") is here: PDF Link.

Deep Brain Stimulation boosts memory

A morbidly obese man who was undergoing treatment with deep brain electrical stimulation experienced a surprising boost in his memory. Deep brain stimulation devices are comparable to a "pacemaker" for the brain and are used to treat Parkinson's disease, depression, and other disorders. When the physicians at the Toronto Western Hospital first stimulated the electrodes in the patient's brain, he experienced deja vu and was then overwhelmed with incredibly vivid memories from decades before. He subsequently performed much better on memory tests when the stimulator was switched on. From the BBC News:
(After the deja vu, he) had a sudden perception of being in a park with friends.

He felt younger, thought he was around 20-years-old, and his girlfriend of the time was there. He was an observer, and saw the scene in colour.

As the intensity of the stimulation increased, details in the scene became more vivid.

Following surgery, the patient recovered for two months. But later when the electrodes were stimulated for a second time, he experienced a similar effect...

The results suggest it might be possible to use deep brain stimulation directly to boost memory.

"We hopefully have found a circuit in the brain which can be modulated by stimulation, and which might provide benefit to patients with memory disorders," said Professor (Andres) Lozano.
Link to BBC News, Link to paper abstract in Annals of Neurology, Link to more coverage in The Independent

Periodic Table Printmaking Project

The Periodic Table Printmaking Project is an international collaboration where 96 artists produced 118 prints, each representing one element. They used a variety of techniques: woodcut, linocut, monotype, etching, lithograph, silkscreen, or a combination. The idea is to "promote both science and the arts." Etsy interviewed AzureGrackle, the organizer of the project. From the interview:
How did this project originate?
It came from an afternoon last March when I spread all my prints out on the floor of my apartment and thought "Gee, they look like the periodic table." I was chatting with my friend/coproduction artist Nathan Cannon of Procyonidae and he dared me to see if I could do it for real. So we set up the basic guidelines and sent out a call for artists. I posted it on Etsy and the (a group for printmakers, primarily woodcut artists), and it spread from there...

What was the intention behind this project?
The original intention was just to see what would happen. Now I hope to get it published as a coffee table book, datebook, calendar, poster, deck of flash cards, and also shown in a gallery. So many people have told me they wished they had something like this when they were in high school chemistry class. This visual interpretation makes it easier to remember information about the elements, gives you a story or a tidbit or fact to hang onto. I know far more about a lot elements now than I did a year ago or in 10th grade.
Link to Periodic Table Printmaking Project, Link to Etsy interview (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)

Castro Street transformed for Harvey Milk movie

San Francisco's Castro Street, a well-known gay mecca, is undergoing a 1970s makeover. The redecoration is for a Hollywood film about the life and death of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, a gay activist and, according to Time magazine, "the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet." Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978. The movie crew has changed storefronts, stapled up fliers indicative of the era, and even redecorated the garbage bins, to approximate the historical setting. Castor Street at that time was a transformative place for many people and it's interesting to hear from folks who were there then and are again seeing the neighborhood as it once was. From the San Francisco Chronicle (photo of Castro Theater under renovation from Castro Shopper):
6A00C2251C030C604A00E398D683F00002-Pi "I have cried every single day since we started working," said Cleve Jones, 53, a longtime gay activist who is best known as creator of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Jones is working as an historical consultant on "Milk" and will be portrayed in the film by "Into the Wild" star Emile Hirsch...

"I'm happy that they're using the actual locations," said Marc Huestis, a film director ("Way Cool," "Sex Is") and producer who knew Milk well. "More than just for veracity. I think there's a spiritual element to that."
Link to SF Chronicle article, Link to more photos at the Castro Shopper blog, Link to even more photos by Flickr user david78sf (Thanks, Jason Tester!)

Elephant artists

 Catalog Images Jintara-0015--19X24-B The Sierra Club's Orli Cotel pointed me to the Elephant Art & Conservation Project that showcases and sells paintings made by the animals. Apparently, elephants in Asia are no longer needed by the declining logging industry so these domesticated beasts are "out of work." Artists Komar & Melamid, who had previously taught elephants to paint, founded the Conservation Project to help the Asian elephants. (Why not--some elephants play music.) The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation project's mission is to "promote and distribute the work of elephant artists to raise funds for elephant conservation." Orli interviewed the project's director, David Ferris, for Sierra Club Radio.
Link to Sierra Club Radio episode, Link to Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project

Vpro Gids cover

200801301059 Jeroen van Bergeijk profiled me for the Dutch magazine Vpro Gids. The magazine asked me to do the cover illustration (on the subject of blogging) for the issue. Here's what I came up with.

I don't think the article is online. (Decent English translation here.)

Wonderful mid-century illustrations from "Rhapsody of Steel"


Stephen Worth says:

At the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, we digitized a beautiful read-along record storybook based on John Sutherland's industrial film, "Rhapsody of Steel." Made in 1959, this film features incredible space-age imagery by animation designers Eyvind Earle (Sleeping Beauty, "Pigs Is Pigs") and Maurice Noble ("What's Opera Doc?," "Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century").

According to Time Magazine, "Rhapsody of Steel" cost $300,000 to make, a remarkable amount of money for an industrial film. It tells the story of the history of steel, from the first meteor ever to strike the earth to the material making up the first manned rocket to leave it.

The film ends with this thought...

"This is an age when at last all things seem possible. Perhaps in the not too distant future man will set about shaping his civilization on earth as carefully as he has shaped the metal that takes him on the greatest journey in all history... The progress of man is the progress of STEEL."


Anton LaVey's Black House now condos

For decades, the Victorian seen in the far left photo was a San Francisco landmark known as the Black House. It was home to Church of Satan founder Dr. Anton LaVey from 1967 until his death in 1997. After falling into disrepair, the Black House was sadly demolished in 2001. The current owners of the property built three cheesy condominiums in its place that are just now up for sale. My friend Greg Long snapped this photo of the new development last weekend. I hope that a rich Satanist buys the condos and paints them black as a memorial. Here's what the Church of Satan said about the Black House in 1998 during their efforts to save the place:
 Graphics News Blackhouse Balckhouseee Originally built in the 1880's, it survived the devastating 1906 fire and earthquake. It's been a speakeasy, a "spook parlour" and, when Dr. LaVey bought it in 1956, it was owned by one of Mammie Pleasant's girls, one of the most notorious madams in San Francisco. Dr. LaVey made it world-famous when he performed history's first Satanic wedding and baptism here; his 500-pound lion, Togare, was raised here. Dr. LaVey was forced to sell the house several years ago because of a relentless civil suit. That fight almost killed him, but this house meant a great deal to him. He said it was part of his own personality - that its roots went all the way to Hell.
Link to the 1998 letter from Church of Satan, Link to a 1998 San Francisco Chronicle article on the house

Robert J. Shea's SHIKE released with CC

Mike Shea says:
200801300935 In 1981, after writing Illuminatus! with Robert Anton Wilson, my father, Robert J. Shea, wrote Shike, a book set in medieval Japan. Last night I released Shike on under a Creative Commons license along with All Things Are Lights, another of my father's novels.

I only ask that those who take the time to read my father's work also take the time to send any corrections as the scan wasn't perfect.

Nothing is more important to me than to have my father's work available to the widest audience. Thank you for your support.


Free download: Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, Issue #21

DC Comics is giving away Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, Issue #1 as a PDF download. Once you get hooked, they figure you'll shell out for the print anthology that contains the first seven issues.

UPDATE: JCCALHOUN comments: "This is factually incorrect on a couple of levels. First of all, this isn't issue number 1. It is issue #21. Secondly, it is not Moore's first issue as writer of Swamp Thing but his second. His first issue was #20 which wrapped up all the outstanding issues of Marty Pasco's run which was issues 1-19 of the Saga of the Swamp Thing."

200801300916Created out of the Swamp by a freak accident, Swamp Thing is an elemental creature who uses the forces of nature and wisdom of the plant kingdom to fight the polluted world's self-destruction. Inspired by the creation of writer Len Wein and artist Berni Wrightson, Alan Moore took the Swamp Thing to new heights in the 1980s with his unique narrative approach. His provocative and groundbreaking writing, combined with masterly artwork by some of the medium's top artists, made SWAMP THING one of the great comics of the late twentieth century.

BBtv - Codehunters: capsule anime by Ben Hibon.

Today on Boing Boing tv: Codehunters, a short animé film by UK-based director Ben Hibon of stateless films, produced with London-based Blinkink.
The port city of Lhek is on the brink of collapse. A Pacific Rim state in a not too distant Asian future with no borders, no meaningful government and little law and order.

Corruption and crime are out of control in the dark alleys of Eda, Lhek’s slum district. Most sectors of the city are controlled by the army of dictator Khaan. The most underprivileged parts of the city are infested with dark Demons, ferocious creatures that spread fear and death amongst the city’s inhabitants. Rumor has it that the Demons are controlled by Khaan in order to keep his people in check.

Link to full BBtv post with video and discussion.

Good As Lily -- ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers

Good As Lily is the latest book from Minx, who publish girl-positive comics aimed at young readers, and it may just be the best volume in the series so far. I've been a fan of the Minx comics imprint since I read the first volume, The Plain Janes. Good As Lily comes from Derek Kirk Kim (author of the multiple-award-winning Same Difference and Other Stories, and new illustrator Jesse Hamm.

It tells the story of Grace Kwon, a young Korean-American girl who, on her 18th birthday, finds herself in the company of her six-year-old self, her 29-year-old self and her 70-year-old self, three women who become a part of her life as she finishes out her last semester of high school before going off to her freshman year at Stanford.

Grace is a perfect young adult protagonist, likable and flawed, insecure and brave, driven and oblivious all at once. She's in love with her drama teacher (and bent on rescuing the school play from budget cuts), surrounded by great (and flawed) friends, and embroiled in high-school dominance struggles that are savage as only school fights can be.

Kim's writing really shines here. In a few deft and spare scenes, he takes Grace (and her other selves) on a journey through which she is forced to confront and overcome her fears and flaws -- and not always with happy outcomes. Combined with Hamm's manga-inflected illustration, the story comes to life, making you root for Grace even as you facepalm yourself when she digs herself in deeper.

The Minx imprint is really top notch. Not every volume so far has moved me, but books like this one and The Plain Janes ensure that I'll keep buying the next book and the next and the next. Link

Clarion West sf writing workshop: last chance to save $100 on tuition

Eileen sez, "The deadline is coming up fast for this year's Clarion West Writers Workshop. Apply by February 1 and save $100 on tuition (if you're accepted). Study with Cory Doctorow, Chuck Palahniuk, Connie Willis, Mary Rosenblum, Paul Park, and Sheree R. Thomas. The final deadline is March 1: applications must be RECEIVED by that day. You can apply by mail or online. Scholarships are available." Link (Thanks, Eileen!)

Romanian manga -- manga meets Metal Hurlant meets Marvel

Forbes magazine just published my latest article for them, a piece for a special on global pop culture about the "otaci" -- Romanian manga enthusiasts who remix French, Japanese and American comic styles, language and stories:
The artwork in the individual panels veered from traditional Japanese manga to surreal, "adult" images seemingly lifted from the French classic magazine Métal Hurlant to stuff that could have come from the pages of the latest Marvel comic. The text, too, was a glorious linguistic salmagundi, mostly Romanian, but with English, French and Japanese phrases sprinkled liberally throughout.

"What the hell is this thing?" I shouted at Stefan, over the din of the monstrous, grinding automated mojito machine that was attempting to crush lemons beside us.

"They choose different languages and styles based on the kind of stories they want to tell," he said.


Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Debra Jean Dean, who previously released a Creative Commons licensed recording of the US Constitution, has just released a recording of her reading the Declaration of Independence. Both readings are Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike: rip, mix and burn! Link, MP3 Link

See also: Reading of the US Constitution

(Image: Independence Day, a Creative Commons Attribution licensed photo from DrewMyers's Flickr stream)

Rotting London grocery store sign

Today in my ongoing series of photos from my travels over the years: a peeling sign from the Islington Sainsbury's grocery store in London, warning shoppers to avoid entrepreneurial kids doing freelance shopping-cart distribution and pocketing the pound-coins used to release the cars from their pack-mule chains. The way that the sign is peeling makes the undistinguished typography look like the cover of a hipster zine -- and the text is a simple object lesson in the dynamics of security. Link

HOWTO make tin stars out of soda cans

Craftster user Teag has posted a great, simple HOWTO for making these decorative tin stars out of soda cans. Link (via Craft)

Berkeley Information Law and Policy course podcast

Pam Samuelson, one of the world's foremost copyright scholars, is podcasting the lectures from her UC Berkeley Information Law and Policy course. Samuelson was one of the first people to criticize the DMCA, serves on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and has the respect of people from all sides of the copyright debate. I've learned something every time I've spoken to Pam. There's an RSS feed for the audio, too. Link (Thanks, Mike!)

See also: Proposal to reboot and de-cruft US Copyright Law

Board/card games made from video games -- cataloguing the unfun spawn of twitch games

Yehuda has compiled an exhaustive "Guide to Board and Card Games Based on Video Games (1971 to 2007)." These are the half-formed bastard stepchildren of video games, generally representing the worst excesses of ill-thought-through licensing greed. As a result, they're a largely unregarded and uncatalogued corner of the gameverse.
The bad news is that many of these games are pretty much now loss leaders to get people to buy into the video game with little originality or creativity. Witness the large number of new and useless CCGs based on recent video games, included in the packaging or given away at conventions.

While video games are challenging to your hand-eye coordination or logic, most board and card game adaptations relied entirely on spinners or dice, making them entirely unchallenging. Some of the designs are cute recreations of their video equivalents, but without the interesting mechanics to back them up.

Link (Thanks, Yehuda!)

(Image from X-Entertainment: Milton Bradley's PAC-MAN Board Game!)

Radio volunteer sets station on fire over playlist dispute

A decidedly non-mellow fellow who worked on an online jazz music show called "Mellow Down Easy" (*snort*) set fire to the radio station where he volunteered, because he was pissed that his song selections for the show were changed without his permission:
Paul Webster Feinstein, 24, has been charged with second-degree felony arson for the Jan. 5 fire that caused $300,000 damage to the studios of 91.7 FM KOOP. He faces from two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Feinstein told investigators that he was "very unhappy" about the changes to his playlist, said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Nye. The songs were intended for an Internet broadcast that occurs when the station is off the air.

Link. I love that the guy's shows and playlists are still available online. (via Wayne's list)

Tag Cloud for American State of the Union Address 2008

BB reader Jason Griffey says,
Following up on last year's cloud that was on BoingBoing, I did another Tag Cloud to help people visualize the State of the Union address: Link.

Space Food Sticks

Funny old commercial for Space Food Sticks, which I believe were just cat crap in foil pouches. The voiceover is by the inimitable Paul Frees. (Via Serious Eats) (Thanks, Marilyn!)