Boing Boing 

Anti-kid modifications to public steps

Over on the always-excellent Architectures of Control in Design blog, Dan Lockton takes special note of an ugly little bit of anti-kid-ism brewing in Sutton, Surrey: the local council, in the name of "cater[ing] for all sections of the local community," is planning to revise a set of steps where kids gather to, you know, sit and talk to each other and hang out in public. The ensuing discussion is, as Dan notes, "a microcosm of the attitudes, assumptions, prejudices and paranoia that define modern Britain’s schizophrenic attitude to its ‘young people’."

Explaining the need for the changes, St Helier Councillor David Callaghan said: “At the moment the steps are like ready-made seats so changes will be made to make the area less attractive to young people...

[Adrian Short responds:] One thing young people and older people have in common is a desire to be left alone to do their own thing, provided that they are not causing trouble to others. People like Emma and her friends are not. They do not want to be told that they can go to one place but not another. They do not want to be cajoled, corralled and organised by the state – they get enough of that at school. They certainly do not want to be disadvantaged as a group because those in charge – you – are unable to deal appropriately with a tiny minority of troublemakers in their midst.

Link

European airlines test spycams in every seat that "detect terrorism" in your facial expressions

European airlines are prototyping a Panopticon-in-the-sky: cameras trained on every passenger in flight, married to some kind of snake-oil "terrorism detection" software that will be able to tell if the guy in 11J is planning to rush the cockpit.
. The European Union's Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project uses a camera in every passenger's seat, with six wide-angle cameras to survey the aisles. Software then analyses the footage to detect developing terrorist activity or "air-rage" incidents, by tracking passengers' facial expressions...

"It looks for running in the cabin, standing near the cockpit for long periods of time, and other predetermined indicators that suggest a developing threat," says James Ferryman of the University of Reading, UK, one of the system's developers.

Other behaviours could include a person nervously touching their face, or sweating excessively. One such behaviour won't trigger the system to alert the crew, only certain combinations of them.

Ferryman is not ready to reveal specifically which behaviours were most likely to trigger the system. Much of the computer's ability to detect threats relies on sensitive information gleaned from security analysts in the intelligence community, he tells New Scientist.

Ah yes, that mainstay of great academic research: "I can't tell you why I believe this works, it's a secret." A proud tradition stretching all the way back to such proven systems of knowledge as, um, well, alchemy. Someone get that guy tenure. Link (Thanks, Peter!)

Political sex scandals: the phenomenon of the "centipede"

For years, Bruce Sterling has been blogging about political sex scandals around the world, calling them "centipedes" -- today, he's defined the term in a little essay explaining why they're so darned interesting, speaking sociopoliticotechnically.
Centipedes are new phenomena because the barriers-to-entry in media have crashed. This means that subversive efforts formerly isolated and punished as libel, slander and whispering campaigns can swiftly take on avalanche proportions.

While pretending to be about spontaneous indignation and moral values, centipedes are coolly calculated and all about power.

The asymmetrical advantage that enables a "centipede" is that the conspirators themselves are never outed. They plot, they find a sexual weakness, they accumulate data about it, they launch a scandal from out of the woodwork, and while exposing private deeds to the public glare, the conspirators themselves remain unseen.

My blog lists a host of these political events that have recently taken place in societies all over the world: India, Greece, Poland, Indonesia, South Africa, Britain, USA. (((And Canada.))) I named them "centipedes" because they are segmented, covert, and poisonous. They seem to have a remarkable commonality as a species.

Link

ccMixter seeking proposals from people who want to take it over

Creative Commons is spinning off its awesome remix community thing, ccMixter, into a standalone project, and they're entertaining proposals from the public at large from anyone who thinks they're qualified to run it.
Today we’re announcing a Request For Proposals from entities interested in taking over the site. Please read the entire RFP. Proposals are due within 60 days (July 29) to ccmixter-rfp@creativecommons.org. Inquiries before submitting a proposal are most welcome, to the same address. Please use this address for all inquiries rather than contacting CC or ccMixter personnel directly.
Link

Hackers on Planet Earth NYC announces keynote speakers

New York's Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference has announced its summer lineup of keynote speakers for the conference, which runs July 18-20 in NYC:
The very first of the speaker slots for The Last HOPE have been announced with many more to come next week. We have had more submissions than ever and will need to add an additional track in order to accommodate the best of them. What follows are some of the highlights to date.

Steven Levy, author of Hackers: Heroes of the American Revolution and chief technology writer and a senior editor for Newsweek.

Adam Savage, co-host of the popular TV show Mythbusters and "a maker of things."

Kevin Mitnick, "the world's most dangerous hacker" in the eyes of the government and mass media, imprisoned for over five years, and now a successful computer security consultant.

Jello Biafra, a tradition at the HOPE conferences, former lead singer of The Dead Kennedys and one of America's most interesting social activists.

Steven Rambam, private eye extraordinaire, who can find out anything about anybody and has always been willing to share his knowledge of privacy with the hacker community. (The FBI prevented his 2006 talk from being given by swooping in and arresting him moments earlier. The case against him was later found to have no merit.)

Link

Adventurer will live 300 days as Robinson Crusoe

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From the Private Islands Blog:
French explorer and adventurer Xavier Rosset is about to embark on a 300 day trip to live alone on a remote tropical island in the South Pacific. His adventures will be filmed and used for a 52 minute documentary.

Xavier’s only luggage will be a Swiss army knife, machete[,] video camera, and a solar panel for charging the camera. He will spend 10 months alone on an island to develop another way of life through an exciting adventure, a return to the elemental sources. Xavier will survive alone on an island without human interference and without polluting emissions.

The ambition of this documentary is to make a reflection on our lifestyle, our current system and our relationship to nature. And the most important thing is to put the dream and emotion at the heart of adventure natural.

He will find timber to build a shelter, feed on the rudimentary fishing, plants and the harvesting of rainwater to survive.

Reminds me a bit of one of my favorite books, An Island to Oneself, about a man who lived off and on for years on a tiny South Pacific island.

Link

Indiana Jones -- a pinko?

Joshua Glenn of the Boston Globe says: "[I]s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull really an anticommunist movie? Does Ford's character oppose the theory of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production? Or is he instead merely an anti-Communist, i.e., opposed to a single-party regime devoted to the implementation of communist policies in, for example, the USSR? Or is Indy actually a pinko? Sounds crazy, but a couple of clues in the movie point at this possibility..."
Writing at the Globe's Movie Nation blog, recently, film critic Wesley Morris noted that when Jones is placed on leave, the head of his department asks him what he plans to do: "First, Indy says, he's going to London, then there's a job offer from the University of Leipzig he might well take. Leipzig is in what was then East Germany. Indy wants to defect!"

As if that weren't suspicious enough, Alex Golub, an adjunct assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai'i Manoa, points out at Savage Mind, an anthropological blog, that in one early scene, Jones tells a student to read V. Gordon Childe. (Childe was an eminent British prehistorian whose Marxism got him into hot water in his native Australia; during the early cold war, he maintained contact with archaeologists in the Soviet Union.) "Would a die-hard anticommunist really recommend a Marxist archaeologist to a student?" demands Golub.

Link

"White Art" -- 1944 pamphlet shows how to make sculptures from bacon fat

200805291929.jpg John Ptak says: "In the world of found book objects, few I think are as deeply removed and as deeply obscure as the work by Otto F. Fleiss called White Art in the Meat Food Business. A Practical Handbook for Butcher, Pork Stores, Restaurants, Hotels and Delicatessens on How to Make Lasting and Transferable White Art Decorations out of Bacon Fat Back for Window Displays, Ornaments on Meat Food Cold Buffets and for Exhibits and Advertising Purposes." Link

VR camera/goggle kit for R/C models

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Tommy says:
I saw your post about the FlyCam and wanted to make sure you know about the brand new Pilot View FPV 2400.

It is basically Virtual Reality Goggles that allow you to fly your RC plane/car/whatever from the drivers seat! (a friend of mine actually fell down with the goggles on while doing a loop with his plane!).

I've been in the R/C hobby for years and I think this is really going to change things.

There's a video of Pilot View at the link. Link

Why oil prices rose to more than $100/barrel

Barry Ritholtz sez, "It turns out that for the past three decades, we've had a George Costanza energy policy -- every decision we have made as a country has worked to drive energy prices higher. Had we made the opposite decisions, crude oil prices would be much lower than they are today ($130.17 as I type this). What follows is a list of energy-related policies of the United States. On many of these, I have no opinion -- but I wanted to list as many as I could to demonstrate why oil is where it is. Just about every one of these policies (or non policies) has contributed to oil prices skyrocketing from $8 to $130 since 2000." Link (Thanks, Barry!)

Larry Lessig profile in The Nation

The Nation's Christopher Hayes just turned in a fantastic long feature on Larry Lessig -- it does a great job of capturing what makes Larry so amazingly great.
In the past eight years the collusion between government and business has gotten worse, creating what economist Dean Baker terms the "conservative nanny state." Lessig sees unmaking this state of affairs as the challenge of the era. "There's a speech that Reagan gives in 1965," Lessig says, "where he talks about how democracy always fails because once the people recognize they can vote themselves largess, they just vote themselves largess and the fiscal policy is destroyed. Well, Reagan had it half-right. It's not as if it's the poor out there who have figured out how to suck the money out of the rich. It's exactly the other way around."

In fighting this corporate socialism, Lessig thinks there are allies to be found among the "intellectually honest" right. He points out that the need to raise money from industry provides an incentive to grow government and maintain regulation as a kind of leverage to extract donations from industry. He's made battling earmarks, a conservative cause célèbre, a Change Congress core mission; the first member of Congress to endorse Change Congress was Jim Cooper, a conservative blue-dog Democrat who is eyed suspiciously by the party's activist base. Lessig's touchstone in his conservative outreach is his father, who struggled every year to meet his company's pension obligations, only to learn years later that big companies like Bethlehem Steel had an exemption in the law so they didn't have to meet the same standards. "Now, from my modern political perspective, that's exactly the thing I think is most outrageous about how the government functions," says Lessig. "And from my dad's perspective, that's the most absurd thing about how government functions."

Link

Captain Mouse: steampunk short film


Steampunk Maker Jake von Slatt sez, "Here's a delightful short from some SF Steampunks I met at Maker Faire. I'm not sure if they are LARPers, but from the appearance of a McIntosh MC240 tube amp and a _serious_ electronics workbench in one scene, I know that these are the sort of kids that Marcus Yallow would've hung out with! " Link (Thanks, Jake!)

Placebo pills made for kids

The Placebo Store sells cherry-flavored chewable tablets called Obecalp (get it?) for parents to administer when they don't think their kid is really sick.
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Hi. Welcome to the Placebo Store. I'm Jen. I am a mommy. It's what I love. It's my job to make owies go away. Whether it's a kiss or a big hug, the magic happens immediately. This is the power of placebo. I have a baby girl and two sons. One of them always needs my comfort and the knowledge that I will make them feel better. I invented Obecalp when I realized that children might need a little more than a kiss to make it go away. Obecalp fills the gap when medicine is not needed but my children need something more to make them feel better. You'll know when Obecalp is necessary.
Link | NY Times story about placebos made for kids

Table with built-in double-secret box

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Woodcraft has an article about hidden drawers in furniture. The one shown here has a double-secret box! Link (via Make)

John Conyers wants DEA to stop busting California medical marijuana users

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Slate posted a letter from John Conyers Jr., chairman of the House judiciary committee, to the DEA's acting administrator Michele Leonhart about the agency's "dramatically intensified … frequency of paramilitary-style enforcement raids" on legal cannabis users and dispensaries.
Conyers asked for an accounting of the agency's costs for these measures against "individuals who suffer from severe or chronic illness" and for its rationale for threatening landlords of licensed dispensaries with "arrest and forfeiture of their property." Meanwhile, the California State Legislature is considering a measure that would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to refuse cooperation with the DEA.
Link

Electronic noise maker in a pill bottle

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I like the look of this electronic noise maker built inside a pill bottle.
I found this pill capsule because someone in my house needs horse pills, evidently. I basically drilled the holes, used Epoxy to secure the battery holder to the speaker, and crammed everything in there. I love one night projects.
Link

Sharon Stone suggests earthquake in China caused by "karma"


Sharon Stone pulled a Pat Robertson / Jerry Falwell by suggesting that the earthquake in China was the result of "karma."
"And then all this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and I thought, is that karma -- when you're not nice -- that the bad things happen to you?"
Now China is boycotting all things Sharon Stone.
Theaters are dropping her movies, department stores are taking down her image, and cosmetics brand Christian Dior has been scrambling to distance itself from the actress, who since 2005 has been the face of one of its skin products.
It makes me wonder what bad thing Phil Bronstein (formerly Mr. Sharon Stone) did to get his big toe nearly bitten off by a Komodo dragon in 2001? Link