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