Wall Street Journal reports that Mazda decided to destroy "approximately $100 million worth of factory-new automobiles" that had been shipped on a tanker that tilted on route to the US.
The freighter, the Cougar Ace, spent weeks bobbing on the high seas, listing at a severe 60-degree angle, before finally being righted. The mishap created a dilemma: What to do with the cars? They had remained safely strapped down throughout the ordeal -- but no one knew for sure what damage, if any, might be caused by dangling cars at such a steep angle for so long. Might corrosive fluids seep into chambers where they don't belong? Was the Cougar Ace now full of lemons?
In my latest Guardian column, I disclose my five email power-tips -- the system I use to manage hundreds of emails every single day:
Sort your inbox by subject
This is my favorite one by far. If something big is going on in the world, chances are lots of people are going to be emailing you about it, and they'll generally use pretty similar subject lines.
When my daughter was born, the majority of congratulatory emails began with the word "Congratulations." When I'd asked my friends to help me find an office, most of the tips I got began with "office."
Best of all, if some spammer manages to get a few hundred copies of a message through my filter and into my inbox, they'll all have the same subject line, making them easy to bulk-select and delete.
Foreign-alphabet spam is also a doddle, since non-Roman characters will all alphabetise at the bottom or top of your inbox; if you don't read Cyrillic, Korean, Hebrew or Simplified Kanji, you can just delete them all with a couple of key presses.
Mary sez, "While looking for something else entirely, I stumbled upon this eBay auction for an Antique Steam Pulley Driven Workshop with Lights. Good heavens. It’s got a lathe, jig saw, drill… It’s like a steampunk Shopsmith, but it’s real."
Tor Books and Expanded Books produced a funny interview/trailer thing for John Scalzi and me in honor of our latest books -- he's bringing out a young adult novel in the Old Man's Warverse in August called Zoe's Tale that I've read a little from and it's dynamite!
In an open letter sent to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer today, EFF outlines five steps Microsoft must take to make things right for MSN Music customers -- including a issuing a public apology, providing refunds or replacement music files, and launching a substantial publicity campaign to make sure all customers know their options.
"MSN Music customers trusted Microsoft when it said that this was a safe way to buy music, and that trust has been betrayed," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "If Microsoft is prepared to treat MSN Music customers like this, is there any reason to suppose that future customers won't get the same treatment?"
Christopher Ratte took his 7-year-old son to a baseball game at Comerica Park. He ordered a lemonade from a vendor and gave it to his boy. Unbeknownst to Ratte (a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Michigan) it was "hard" lemonade, meaning it contained alcohol. When a guard spotted the boy sipping from the bottle, the police were called in, the boy was taken from his father, driven by ambulance to the hospital, and put into foster care.
The 47-year-old academic says he wasn't even aware alcoholic lemonade existed when he and Leo stopped at a concession stand on the way to their seats in Section 114.
"I'd never drunk it, never purchased it, never heard of it," Ratte of Ann Arbor told me sheepishly last week. "And it's certainly not what I expected when I ordered a lemonade for my 7-year-old."
But it wasn't until the top of the ninth inning that a Comerica Park security guard noticed the bottle in young Leo's hand.
"You know this is an alcoholic beverage?" the guard asked the professor.
"You've got to be kidding," Ratte replied. He asked for the bottle, but the security guard snatched it before Ratte could examine the label.
... it would be two days before the state of Michigan allowed Ratte's wife, U-M architecture professor Claire Zimmerman, to take their son home, and nearly a week before Ratte was permitted to move back into his own house.
This is Gil Duff of Cincinnati, Ohio. On Monday, he got drunk in a public park and took a nap in a portable toilet. Again. Apparently, that particular toilet is his own capsule hotel. His pants were up, suggesting that he went in specifically to catch some z's. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Police arrested Duff, 45, at 3:45 a.m. Monday inside a portable toilet in Sycamore Township’s Bechtold Park – the same place they found him on April 22, snoring so loudly he caught the attention of a bike cop. When that officer swung open the toilet door, he found Duff on the john with his pants up, an open beer by his side.
Engineers have demonstrated how to make microscale origami-like containers that could be used as drug delivery devices in the body. The hinged structures were created in polysilicon and are only 30 micrometers on a side. (One inch is 25,400 micrometers.) The team from the USC Information Sciences Institute published their "recipe" in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. Link
Albert Hofmann, who first synthesized Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), has passed away. He was 102 years-old.
"I believe that if people would learn to use LSD's vision-inducing capability more wisely, under suitable conditions, in medical practice and in conjunction with meditation, then in the future this problem child could become a wonderchild." -- Albert Hofmann (1906-2008)
Link to Wikipedia article, Link to Hoffman.org (Thanks, Wayne de Geere III!)
UPDATE: News of Hofmann's death may have been greatly exaggerated. But boy, that's sure a great quote and we're happy Dr. Hofmann still seems to be riding his mental bike around Switzerland.
Vivid Entertainment apparently acquired a 40-year-old sex tape starring Jimi Hendrix and two women. They plan to release it on DVD. Hit the link to IDontLikeYouInThatWay for NSFW? clips. Link to IDontLikeYouInThatWay, Link to Hendrixsextape.com (Thanks, David Hyman!)
The gem sweater bedazzlements and lyrical besnazzlements of "internet ceWEBrity" Leslie Hallhave graced Boing Boing tv before -- but in today's episode, Ms. Hall submits an exclusive tour diary for BBtv viewers, a veritable world exclusive. "With these shoulderpads I have the strength to destroy, villages, homes, and crops," she warns. Her ladyfire is mighty, as all ye who gaze upon this video shall witness.
Ms. Hall was among the internet personalities who participated in the recent ROFLcon gathering in Cambridge, Mass. Her presence there among fellow internet memesters is documented in this Wired gallery, and in a photo set from Scott Beale of Laughing Squid. See also his short video of the Tron Guy talking about geek women. Which brings us back to the 26-year-old Ms. Hall, straight outta Iowa, believed by her many followers to be the fiercest gold-lame-wrapped geek woman on the planet.
My next novel, Little Brother, officially goes on sale today! In addition to the US print edition, there's a DRM-free audio edition (there're also forthcoming editions in the UK, Greece, Russia, France and Norway, with others pending) from Random House Audio. My deal with Random House is that they're absolutely not allowed to sell the book with DRM on it, which, sadly, means that Audible (the largest audiobook store in the world) won't carry it -- they insist on selling books with DRM, even when authors and publishers don't want it.
Instead, you can buy the audiobook from Zipidee, a retailer that Random House uses -- they have the spiffy embeddable Flash sales-object you see above (feel free to paste it into your own blog or whatnot), and there's also this static URL for those of you who can't use Flash.
The audiobook comes with my own sampling license: once you own it, you're free to take up to 30 minutes' worth of material from it and remix and then redistribute it as much as you like, provided that you do so on a noncommercial basis, make sure that it's clear that this is a remix and not the original, and make sure that you tell people where to find the original. This is in addition to all the fair use remixing that you're allowed to do without my permission (of course!).
I'll also be releasing (as always!) a free, Creative Commons-licensed version of the text of Little Brother, just as soon as I get back to London (I'm presently in Toronto, visiting my family with my newborn daughter). It'll likely be Monday or so -- there's a bunch of little clean-uppy things I need to do with the Little Brother distribution site that I need to be in my office with uninterrupted time to accomplish.
Link to audiobook, Link to buy Little Brother
The criminals who sell the Zeus malware have added an end-user license agreement to their "product," setting out a bunch of terms controlling how the criminals who buy their products may use it, and threatening dire technological reprisals for violations:
Symantec security researcher Liam OMurchu has details on this latest development. The help section of the latest version of the Zeus malware states that the client has no right to distribute Zeus in any business or commercial purpose not connected to the initial sale, cannot examine the source code of the product, has no right to use the product to control other botnets, and cannot send the product to anti-virus companies. The client does agree to "give the seller a fee for any update to the product that is not connected with errors in the work, as well as for adding additional functionality." Modern license agreements take a great deal of (deserved) fire for being absurdly draconian, but even the likes of Adobe and Microsoft don't claim that purchasing a version of their respective products locks the user into buying future editions.
It's obviously difficult for the manufacturers of an illegal product to threaten legal sanctions against an infringer, but the Zeus authors give it their best shot. According to the EULA, "In cases of violations of the agreement and being detected, the client loses any technical support. Moreover, the binary code of your bot will be immediately sent to antivirus companies." Frankly, "We'll blow your kneecaps off and feed them to you," might be a bit more effective as a threat, but I suppose it's a bit hard to carry out that threat over the Internet.
The Sheriff's Office in Shelby County, Tennessee, is warning locals to turn in anyone who takes too many pictures of bridges or shopping malls, because they might be scouting for Al Qaeda, who are clearly slavering at the opportunity to make a gigantic media splash by getting up to some serious naughtiness on the "iconic Hernando DeSoto Bridge."
The Sheriff also asked environmentalists to look out for anyone "a little bit radical" who might be a terrorist provocateur hoping to exploit the trusting, gentle hippies to turn them into deep green Unabombers.
"You may think a guy is just shooting pictures, but if you report it to us, we'll send it on to the FBI and they may have four or five other reports of the same thing," said Richard Pillsbury with the Tennessee Fusion Center, a collaboration between the Department of Safety and the Department of Homeland Security.
Shelby County sergeant Larry Allen warned attendees at the meeting to look for people who appear to be doing surveillance outside public buildings, such as shopping malls.
"One of the things discussed in the al-Qaeda manual is conducting surveillance of your target," added Eric Jackson with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. "That could mean looking at a building to see how security is established."
Artist Nina Katchadourian tried repairing spider webs with thread, but her efforts were rebuffed: "My repairs were always rejected by the spider and discarded, usually during the course of the night, even in webs which looked abandoned."
The Mended Spiderweb series came about during a six-week period in June and July in 1998 which I spent on Pörtö. In the forest and around the house where I was living, I searched for broken spiderwebs which I repaired using red sewing thread. All of the patches were made by inserting segments one at a time directly into the web. Sometimes the thread was starched, which made it stiffer and easier to work with. The short threads were held in place by the stickiness of the spider web itself; longer threads were reinforced by dipping the tips into white glue. I fixed the holes in the web until it was fully repaired, or until it could no longer bear the weight of the thread. In the process, I often caused further damage when the tweezers got tangled in the web or when my hands brushed up against it by accident.
Here's the latest Instructables HOWTO to tie in with my young adult novel Little Brother, which tells the story of young geeks who use technology to restore liberty to post-9/11 America.
This week, it's HOWTO start a flashmob:
Timing is everything
This refers back to the whole participation thing. If your event is spontaneous in nature and just requires people to show up at the same time and do something goofy(say, gather at a subway stop and follow the first bearded person you see as if they were Jesus), they won't need much time to prepare. The ideal time for this sort of event is at the end of the workday (between 5 and 6PM) during the week as a) the streets are more crowded and b)participants are more available. For whatever reason, Thursdays seem to be most effective.
If you are planning something more elaborate, like a Costumed Rampage, you want to give people at least a week to prepare, and preferably two. These events are most effective in heavily populated shopping and tourist areas, so Saturday afternoons work best. Note: these often turn into drunkfests.
Devin sez, "I believe this was the navigation system for several old English bombers (Victor, Vulcan, and Valiant). Very wire-y and cool. Many, many plugs and things all over the place."
Watchismo's feature today covers the illustrious history of early LED watches, whose origins are stylish as only artifacts from a lost era can be.
With the recent release of the $350,000 Opus 8 and the de Grisogono Meccanico dG with their mechanically mimicked LED digits, I wanted to also share this video and photos from the collection of UK LED collector, Lloyd "Theledwatch". He was recently featured on Antiques Roadshow (see video above) where he shared some of the best examples of early 1970s digital light emitting diode watches like the Pulsar Hamilton P1, Girard Perregaux Casquette, Omega Time Computer and my one-of-a-kind favorites by the Royal designer Andrew Grima.
In March 2007, a free speech and free assembly rally was held in Union Square to protest a new NYPD rule of dubious constitutionality instituting a permit requirement for any assembly of 50+ people on foot or on bike in NYC.
While the restriction would apply to any assembly of 50 or more people, it was enacted as transparent attempt shut down, harass or frustrate the Critical Mass bicycle rides that have occured monthly in Manhattan for at least ten years.
After the rally proper, a Critical Mass ride (accompanied by citizen videographers from the Glass Bead Collective and other groups) set out north from Union Square, only to be subjected to outrageous and illegal treatment by NYPD officers in Times Square under the supervision and instigation of Sgt. Timothy Horhoe.
Despite the numerous video-verified complaints of unlawful arrest and the numerous provably false sworn statements in police reports documenting the incident, the Civilian Complaint Review Board said in March of this year that they cannot act to punish the officers involved for their willful perjury.
Interesting Andy Warhol quote, found on The Happiness Project:
"Actually, I jade very quickly. Once is usually enough. Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good any more.”
Institute for the Future, the nonprofit thinktank in Palo Alto, California where I'm a research director, has a rare job opening. We're looking for a Collaborative Media Designer and Drupal hacker. This is a great opportunity. Mike Love, who created the position but is leaving for grad school, did amazing work building open source collaborative tools for forecasting. There's room here for someone motivated to design, build, and integrate new blogging platforms, wiki applications, visualization tools, digital video, and online collaboration systems. (Please don't email me directly as I'm not involved in the hiring process.) From the job description:
Looking for the right person with a passion for new technologies and social software. If you are a developer or researcher with an interest in experimenting, designing, developing, and implementing collaborative technology tools–such as open-source online platforms and social software to support dynamic research processes–this is the job for you. If you are a Drupal tinkerer or developer, we’d love to meet you!
Two years ago, Hanson Robotics' incredible Philip K. Dick robot head went missing. David Hanson had left it in the overhead bin on an America West airplane and it hasn't been seen since. Hanson sued the airlines but the case was recently dismissed. The summary judgement is a laff-riot. Here's an excerpt, posted at the Total Dick-Head blog:
Plaintiff David Hanson (“Plaintiff”) has lost his head. More specifically, Plaintiff has lost an artistically and scientifically valuable robotic head modeled after famous science fiction author Philip K. Dick (“Head”). Dick’s well-known body of work has resulted in movies such as Total Recall, Blade Runner, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly, and a large group of admirers has grown following his death in Orange County, California, in 1982. His stories have questioned whether robots can be human (see, e.g., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)), so it seems appropriate that Plaintiff reincarnated Dick as a robot which included the Head, valued at around $750,000. (Motion 1:9-10.)
Famed NYC-based prankster/billboard artist Ron English recently took his brilliant brand of witty culture jamming to the Los Angeles area. Our pals at Hi-Fructose have the photographic evidence of the shenanigans. Link
Previously on BB:
• New Ron English book: Abject Expressionism Link
• Billboard Liberation Front: AT&T Link
After Mister Jalopy posted a link to mmk_kobayashi's "tasteless, frequently mean, sporadically NSFW, sometimes jaw dropping and generally hilarious" Flickr photostream my productivity ground to a halt. Link
Radar asked Bill Geerhart to send follow-up notes to the serial killers he wrote in the late 1990s, posing as a 10-year-old. The killers promptly replied (both in 1998, and recently).
in the late '90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy.
As it turns out, no group hates to disappoint a child more than convicted killers, all of whom responded promptly to Billy's questions about dropping out of school. Their letters, published here for the first time, range from criminally insane to downright sensible, offering snapshots of the personalities behind some of America's most hideous crimes. Recently, Radar asked Billy to follow up with his mentors as a college student. Link
"Anatomical Theatre is a photographic exhibition documenting artifacts collected by and exhibited in medical museums throughout Europe and the United States. The objects in these photos range from preserved human remains to models made from ivory, wax, and papier mâché. The artifacts span from the 16th Century to the 20th, and include examples from a wide range of countries, artists, and preparators."
Hunterian Museum : London, England The skull of a young boy with a second imperfect skull attached to its anterior fontanelle. Sent to John Hunter from Bengal, India in the late 1780s.