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1980s Japanese commercial for anti-itch remedy

A Japanese okusan relieves her pet octopus' maddeningly itchy tentacles in this "Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" inspired TV commercial for and anti-itch remedy. Link

Jack LaLanne on the secret to happiness

Jack LaLlane says the secret to happiness is to eat more fresh food, get more physical activity, and burst out in song in public from time to time. Link (Via grow-a-brain)

Artist chided for wrapping street art in black cloth

An artist in Wilmington, NC covered up another artist's public sculptures with black cloth and rope as a "prank," and the overseer of the Pedestrian Art program is hopping mad about it.
200803211303 (Wilmington Star-News photo by Amy Hotz)

"It was basically a good-hearted prank," said [Dixon] Stetler, a local artist who has had work on display at the Cameron Art Museum and is known for, among other things, paddling a raft made out of flip-flops across the Cape Fear River.

"We didn't damage anything. It's not an angry thing, it's a funny thing."

"I find it incredibly disrespectful, not only to the artist, but to the Pedestrian Art program and the city," said [Matt] Dols, who has been helping to install sculpture downtown under the Pedestrian Art banner for about two years.


Make a fireball shooter

200803211115 Our Boing Boing Gadgets editor, Joel Johnson, wrote an article for the magic-themed issue of MAKE on how to build a fireball shooter. Today, MAKE's video producer, Kip Kay has a video on the awesome shooter. Link

Netsuke & Inro pool at Flickr

 1120 1476460515 85C85Becb5 COOP points us to the marvelous Netsuke & Intro photo pool at Flickr. Netsuke are tiny Japanese sculptures, first appearing in the 17th century, that were attached to traditional robes. They acted as fasteners for Inro, cases that held small objects because the clothing had no pockets. Seen here, a "frustrated rat catcher" netsuke from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Heroes of the Negro Leagues watercolors

 Images Products 9 6840-23  Images Canvas Larry Doby
In 1990, comic artist and editor Mark Chiarello painted portraits of baseball greats from the Negro Leagues. The watercolors were packaged as a set of trading cards celebrating these players, many of whom never appeared on baseball cards before. Those watercolors, plus several dozen new ones, have now been collected in a hardcover book titled Heroes Of The Negro Leagues. The original works are currently being shown at ArtInsights gallery in Reston, Virginia, and the new issue of Juxtapoz includes an interview with Chiarello. I think these portraits are absolutely stunning, whether you care about the great American pastime or not. Link to ArtInsights online gallery and interview, Link to buy Heroes Of The Negro Leagues

Universe's most powerful blast ever seen witnessed this week

200803211029 A gamma ray burst that occurred 7.5 billion years ago was visible on Earth by the naked eye this week. It was "2.5 million times brighter than the most powerful supernova ever seen."

Here's a History Channel video about Gamma ray bursts. "Scientists at the University of Kansas believe gamma ray bursts were responsible for a great mass extinction on Earth 450 million years ago. The gamma rays strip away the ozone layer and generates a chemical smog, producing a widespread chill that grips the globe. Every few seconds, a supernova emits jets of deadly gamma rays somewhere in the galaxy. If one of these gamma ray bursts should happen sufficiently close to the solar system, all life would perish."

From Wikipedia:

Research has been conducted to investigate the consequences of Earth being hit by a beam of gamma rays from a nearby (about 500 light years) gamma ray burst. This is motivated by the efforts to explain mass extinctions on Earth and estimate the probability of extraterrestrial life. A gamma ray burst at 6000 light years would result in mass extinction; a 1000 light year distant burst would be equivalent to a 100,000 megaton nuclear explosion. A burst 100 light years away would blow away the atmosphere, create tidal waves, and start to melt the surface of the earth. There is a one in a million chance that there could be a gamma ray burst as near as the earth's closest star, Alpha Centauri, in the lifetime of the earth. Such a burst, at 4.3 lightyears distant, would effectively incinerate the earth.

Untooned Homer and real world Mario

Realmario Realhomer
I find Pixelo''s "Super Real Mario World" and "Homer Simpson Untooned" to be delightfully unsettling. Link

Spiritually uplifting courthouse installation of Flying Spaghetti Monster

People of all religious denominations will be overjoyed to learn that a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was installed on the Cumberland County Courthouse Lawn in Crossville, Tennessee today.
200803211002All Pastafarians, Rejoice!

Statement at Installation Ceremony
March 21, 2008

We are lucky enough to live in a country that allows us, its citizens, the freedom of speech. I have chosen to put up a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to represent the discourse between people of all different beliefs. The many faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds of Cumberland County’s residents make our community a stronger richer place. I respect and am proud that on the people’s lawn, the county courthouse, all of these diverse beliefs can come together in a positive dialogue. Here, we are all able to share the issues close to our hearts whether it is through a memorial to the soldiers killed fighting for our country, the Statue of Liberty honoring our nations welcoming promise to all, a group’s fight to stop homelessness, or powerful symbols of faith. I greatly treasure this open forum between everyone in the community.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a pile of noodles and meatballs, but it is meant to open up discussion and provoke thought. Being able to put up a statue is a celebration of our freedom as Americans; a freedom to be different, to express those differences, and to do it amongst neighbors -– even if it is in a noodley way.


Errol Morris interviews Abu Ghraib guards

The New Yorker has several clips from “Standard Operating Procedure,” a new Errol Morris documentary about Abu Ghraib.
200803210953 ERROL MORRIS: Are these kids [locked up in Abu Ghraib] suspected of being terrorists or just…?

SABRINA HARMAN [a U.S. Army specialist who took photographs at Abu Ghraib and was convicted by court-martial for her conduct there, shown here]: No.

ERROL MORRIS: If you could talk about that?

SABRINA HARMAN: I don’t know what all of them were in for. We had so many from age 10 all the way up. I think the youngest one was because his father was passing notes or doing something illegal, but they held him also. I don’t know if the kid was involved, but he, he’s, he’s a little kid. I mean, he could have fit through the bars he was so little.

ERROL MORRIS: So how does this make you feel? I mean, you’re seeing all these kids...

SABRINA HARMAN: Well, you go numb. I mean there’s…You really don’t have any feelings. You can’t feel because you’ll just go crazy, so you just kind of blow it off. You can only make their stay a little bit acceptable, I guess. You give them all the candy from the MREs [“meals ready to eat”] to make their time go by better, I guess, but there’s only so much you can do or so much you can feel.

ERROL MORRIS: And do you think that there were reasons that these kids were being held, other than their mother or their father?

SABRINA HARMAN: I’m sure the older ones, like the 16, 17 year olds, they probably assisted in something, or the IPs [Iraqi police] probably picked them up for some reason. But it’s kind of corrupt there with the system because five different people can be in there charged for the same murder, and you could just wait there, forever. I mean, if your neighbor doesn’t like you, he can be like, “Hey, this guy’s a terrorist. This guy just killed a soldier,” and the soldiers of course would think it’s true and they would go over there and they would arrest him. I mean, a lot of that happened, but it’s just a matter of time before you can prove it, that it happened, that these guys were actually innocent. Because there are so many people flooding in, we just didn’t have the resources to get to each one of them in a normal fashion.


Surgeons perform erroneous anal surgery

A 78-year-old woman in a German hospital for leg surgery underwent an unnecessary operation on her anus instead. The surgical team at Münchberg's Hochfranken-Klinik apparently made a mistake, installing a prosthetic anal sphincter on the wrong patient. From USA Today:
(German newspaper Frankenpost) says some members of the surgical team have been punished in connection with the series of mistakes that led them to operate on the wrong patient.

Prosecutors are said to be looking into the incident. As for the unidentified patient, she still needs knee surgery and plans to file a lawsuit.
Link to USA Today, Link to Frankenpost (German language)

Dijjer -- free/open BitTorrent alternative -- seeks new maintainer

Ian Clarke, the hacker who created the secure publishing tool FreeNet, is looking for someone to take over his BitTorrent competitor, Dijjer. He writes,
Dijjer is a really cool little piece of software that I initially developed as a skunk works project within Revver back in 2005. It was born of a few key frustrations with BitTorrent.

Due to other commitments, I'm now looking for a talented Java developer to take on the challenge of maintaining and progressing the Dijjer project, and I'm hoping that BoingBoing can help me find such a person :-)

Dijjer is a free (as in speech) P2P app that allows the distribution of large files to lots of people with little or no bandwidth overhead, in many regards it solves the same problem as BitTorrent, but with some key differences, which include:

* Dijjer doesn't need trackers, to publish a file on Dijjer it just needs to be available on an ordinary web server.

* Dijjer streams downloaded files directly to your web browser, or your audio or video player, as they are downloaded.

* Dijjer uses "UDP hole-punching" to communicate through firewalls without any need to manually reconfigure them.

* Dijjer forms one unified P2P network, rather than a separate network for each file, which allows it to scale up much more quickly.

Link (Thanks, Ian!)

You Suck at Photoshop #9

Picture 6-52Here's the latest episode of You Suck at Photoshop, a screencast in which the self-loathing tutor teeters on the verge of a nervous breakdown while hurling abuse at viewers. Link

WWII Bomber: "Trademark Infringement"

Picture 5-62

John Macneill is a kickass 3D illustrator whose work frequently appears Popular Science and other national magazines. He also contributes to the Turbo Squid 3D model site. Recently In 2002 he uploaded his model of a WWII B-24 Bomber to Turbo Squid. Lockeed Martin came across it and yesterday it wrongfully (illegally?) used the DMCA to force Turbo Squid to remove the file.

A photographer can take a photo of any type of car and sell the photo; look at any car magazine. A painter can create a painting of anything and sell that, remember Andy Warhol's famous 1968 painting of a can of Campbell's tomato soup? But a CG artist cannot create a sculpture of a Ford Mustang and sell that, at least not on Turbo Squid. There is obviously a double standard here. So where does this leave CG artists? Until a stock company becomes willing to fight back against these takedowns, there seems little any individual artist can do.
UPDATE: Cory has the following to add:
Turbo Squid, a large 3D stock image site, has been systematically removing models of contemporary and vintage vehicles, after their manufacturers sent in improper DMCA takedown notices alleging that publishing 3D models of old cars and airplanes infringed on their trademarks (this isn't true, but even if it was, the DMCA deals with copyright, not trademark). Yesterday, 3D artist John MacNeill had his model of a WWII bomber removed after Lockheed sent a letter to Turbo Squid, alleging that this 60-year-old plane infringed on its trademark.

A Turbo Squid spokesperson is quoted as saying, "The thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot make money off someone else's registered Trademark." This is simply untrue. Trademark does not protect owners from others profiting on their marks -- trademark's purpose is to prevent vendors from misleading the public about the origin of goods and services. If you use someone else's trademark ("Charger works with Nokia phones!") you're totally in the clear, provided that the purchaser doesn't get confused about whose product he's buying.

Trademark law is clear: Turbo Squid can sell unauthorized models of cars, planes and other trademarked objects, provided that they make it very clear that these models weren't authorized, made or marketed by the manufacturers of the cars, planes and objects.

The unfortunate precedent was allowed to stand, and since 2003 many other corporations have followed suit. The "banned" list at Turbo Squid now includes dozens of different makes of cars and aircraft. When recently challenged on the basis for these continuing takedowns, Nancy-Ellen Martin at Turbo Squid said "The thing you need to keep in mind is that you cannot make money off someone else's registered Trademark." The DMCA, of course is an amendment to US copyright law and has nothing to do with trademark. The US Patent and Trademark Office defines trademark as "a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others." In short, trademark is all about avoiding confusion in the marketplace, and is intended to prevent a manufacturer from selling a product that is falsely branded to appear to be another similar product. This seems to be even less of a justification for a takedown than DMCA. 3D models are not real-world cars, trucks or airplanes, there can be no confusion in the marketplace.


Shellac Sisters, DJs who play 78s

The Shellac Sisters are a London DJ troupe that spins exclusively 78rpm records. No Technics 1200s for this crew. They use 1920s wind-up gramophones and wear period clothing. From their Web site:
 Images Red CarpetWe have a vast collection of 78s covering all styles of music from the twenties through to the fifties… Big band swing by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and The Andrews Sisters, classics like Tea for Two and The Lambeth Walk, novelties by Noel Coward and cheeky music hall acts, 1920s flapper favourites, Hollywood movie classics from Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Marlene Dietrich, jumping jive by Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan, 1950s rock'n'roll from Elvis and bombshell hits from Marilyn Monroe, romantic serenades by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, latin exotics by Carmen Miranda and Perez Prado… tea dancing foxtrots, quicksteps, blackbottoms and cockney knees ups!
Link to The Shellac Sisters page, Link to The Shellac Sisters on MySpace

Pressure Printing art print sale

The amazing artisans at Pressure Printing are holding a spring print sale where every exquisite piece in their catalog is 20% off, from Jim Woodring and Camille Rose Garcia to Tim Biskup and COOP. I have several Pressure Printing editions and each one is a work-of-art in its own right. Seen above, James Jean's "Taciturn," featuring intaglio prints mounted in a hand-crafted Japanese screen that folds out to 17 inches. Link

Good comment thread: What's happened to the U.S. economy?

There's a good discussion revving up in the comment thread of Mark Frauenfelder's entry, Documentary examines possibility of US dollar collapse. The first major salvo came from Cowicide, twenty comments in, responding to arguments that the problem isn't that serious:
Not sure Operation Three Trillion Dollar War is helping too much, either...
* Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

BTW, this isn't some wackos... it's Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and Linda Bilmes (Professor of public finance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government).

While we are at it:

Robert Kuttner on the “Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression"
* Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)”
* Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

Subprime Mortgage Crisis Causing African Americans to Experience Greatest Loss of Wealth in Modern U.S. History.
* Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

Yah, yep... I smell trouble... yep, I smell it.

Been smellin' it for quite a while, but it's getting stinkier and stinkier. Haven't even passed the dead skunk on the highway yet...

ConsideredOpinion came in with a balanced and knowledgeable analysis:
... Secondly - the impact of realignments will be felt unevenly across the economy. The super-rich will, by in large, remain insulated from these changes. The highly-educated (with marketable skills) will remain the most globally competitive, and barring labor movement restrictions should compete evenly against the best anywhere in the world for any currency. If the realignments can be 'dialed in' slowly enough, skilled industrial laborers should do better in the US ... but I don't care to think what this will mean for unions and the ILO. ...
Then Zuzu weighed in, and became the most prominent commenter in that thread. He's something of a monetarist, which is okay; monetarists are good on the consequences of grossly inflating the currency.
it's like nobody has ever been through a recession before... All this fear mongering is getting a little out of control.
I know people love their anecdotal evidence, especially in an economic discussion. But the concern here is pretty straightforward. From about 2001 - current the United States has funded a comprehensive restructuring of domestic government agencies (i.e. Homeland Security) with new and far-reaching "anti-terrorism" programs (e.g. Federal subsidy of enlarged state and local police, USVISIT, etc.), funded an invasion and ongoing active occupation of Iraq (at a cost of about $1 billion per month), while at the same time cutting taxes, and in September 2007 Congress raised the debt ceiling $9.815 trillion. The U.S. Government went from an ostensibly balanced budget in 1999, to a mind-boggling increase in spending, while at the same time collecting less revenue (i.e. taxes). How do they afford it? They increase the supply of money and credit through the Federal Reserve. This is a stealth tax. By debasing the fiat currency of the dollar, they spend the new dollars on the military-industrial complex to "keep us safe"*, which dilutes the value of the dollars we save in our bank accounts (or that we negotiated with our employers to earn in our paychecks), but all of the other goods and services are still just as scarce, so more dollars are needed for the same value to exchange for them, which is inflation.

(*Recently "keep us safe" has been extended to including bailing out financiers such as Bear Stearns and soon Lehman Brothers.)

The "Three Trillion Dollar War" or whatever you want to call it was all paid with inflation, which explains why the price of gold went over $1000/oz, why oil and food prices are up, but people are still generally acting as if dollars are worth what they used to be worth before the new money was created. (Arguably his is also why the Federal Reserve ceased publishing M3 data in March of 2006, and why the Department of Labor and Statistics has redefined the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to exclude energy (i.e. oil) and agriculture from its "basket of goods" estimation of dollar purchasing power.)

The economic crisis the United States can no longer ignore is the unwinding of this inflation. However, economists who speak on television or for politicians will tie themselves in knots and circular logic to avoid ever saying the word "inflation" -- it's like a taboo. So first they pitched this problem as a "sub-prime mortgage crisis", until now the problem is obviously not contained to just that market sector. Recently I've heard people start saying "contagion" like when the Asian Tigers melted down from their inflationary bubble in the 1990s.

But the crisis is simply that the Bush-Cheney administration has spent more money than God by borrowing and printing it (i.e. creating inflation), which in the central banking system of fractional reserve multiplies several times over into even more inflation. This creates an enormous market bubble -- that so-called "economic recovery" Bush has claimed in his speeches of yore. So this bubble didn't even feel like a bubble so much because the "improvement" was marginal over the pre-existing recession from the previous dot-com bubble and housing "foam" created by Alan Greenspan. But soon all of that inflation is about to collapse.

Think of inflation like those Warner Bros. cartoons where Wile E. Coyte runs off the edge of a cliff, and he can keep running and running on the air as long as he doesn't look down and realize that there's no more dirt beneath him. But eventually he looks down and plummets until he hits real dirt. That's what a correction for inflation is like.

And we've had this inflation/recession building up for approximately a decade now. It could take at least that long to get back out of it. So I would not chalk this up to "fear mongering". Fear mongering of the phantom menace called "terrorism" is what got us into this hole.

I'm reminded of an episode of Duckman (1994):

Once again, the U.S. is spending millions to oust a puppet they spent millions to get into office. They'll spend more millions on the coverup to hide having spent those millions and even more millions to discredit members of the media who report otherwise. It's a good thing they print their own money.
Other major comments by Zuzu:
* Inflation vs. deflation.

* Inflation, deflation, and the government's manipulation of the currency.

* A long, interesting quote on People & Power, rigged markets, the Plunge Protection Team, central planning, and the command monetary system (as opposed to planned economy).

Partway through that sequence, Fran Six popped in with a link to a set of charts she's constructed:
* A long-term chart depicting a deflationary boom since the Nasdaq crash in 2000 with its incipient manias in prices.

* The $US gold price divided by the $C with an overlay of a junior precious metal stock.

* The inverse of the gold/silver ratio.

* A very large chart depicting the silver/gold ratio with the added Wilder's ADX. Note the extreme position of the ADX indicator.

* A picture of insider buying for GBN.V in the last year.

* Oil price projection using fibonacci overlay.

* Dow Jones Industrial Crash, Oct. 1987.

* Nasdaq Crash, Apr. 2000.

There's one brief additional comment from Fran Six. She should feel encouraged to come back and explain more about those charts.

Near the end of the discussion's current endpoint, Spinobobot entered the conversation with a couple of comments (first, second) I'd quote at greater length, if this entry weren't already too long. He's in favor of welcoming our new robot overlords. Mostly, he talks about things monetarism doesn't:

In seriousness, I simply don't understand why some people trust "the market" to solve all of our problems. This quote particularly got me:
"You can't expect bureaucrats to know better than the market itself."
This market fundamentalism in which any economic woes are blamed on attempts to regulate and interfere with the economy is as unfalsifiable a position as the that of Marxists who maintained that the Soviet Union and other Communist nations weren't really Communist, because a true Communist nation would be successful. As though we didn't already see the fallout of total laissez-faire in the 19th Century.

I take your point about the problems of bureaucracy and I definitely think that market processes which are response to things like supply and demand have their benefits. I don't want to see the elimination of markets by any means.

But we need to put constraints on markets, establish certain kinds of incentives that exercise a general direction for how things will go. What I really don't like about unchecked markets is the way that they destroy common goods. Self-interest is not the only viable human motive.

The conversation's not over.