Dan Howland has made his amazing theme-park zine omnibus, The Journal of Ride Theory Omnibus, available as a free PDF download -- and he's thrown in his great book Dome and Domer: The Increasingly Stupid Story of the Millennium Dome along with it!
Matt Mason, author of The Pirate's Dilemma, sez, "Jesse Alexander (producer of Heroes and Lost) and I have been
working on turning The Pirate's Dilemma into a TV show, we've just put a
teaser up for what that show might look like here:
Jesse read the book and saw the pirates I talked about from the worlds
of youth culture as real life heroes - people with no special powers who
managed to to turn society and old business models upside down with
superhuman strength. We connected and started working on this idea, along with John Carluccio and Mark Kotlinski from CurrentTV. The
trailer is an early sketch of where we are going with this.
Guilherme sez, "June 30th is the 50th birthday of NAACP v. Alabama, a landmark case protecting the right of association. Alabama's efforts to expel the NAACP from its state included its demand of the NAACP's membership list. The Supreme Court struck down this demand, noting the importance of associational privacy for dissent: "Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs""
In commemoration of the birthday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center is hosting an essay written by Law Professor Anita Allen at the link: 'NAACP v. Alabama, Privacy and Data Protection.' Some excerpts:"
In NAACP v. Alabama, the Court affirmed that the constitutional rights
of speech and assembly include a right of private group association. The
idea that Americans are free to join private groups was not new in 1958.
However, the Court's decision to allow private groups to keep membership
information confidential was an important constitutional milestone."
Whether handwritten on lined paper or stored electronically in a
computer system, membership data is constitutionally protected from
The fact that technology has made it easier to collect, store and share data revealing individuals’ group memberships should be of no consequence. The principles of expressive private association, confidentiality and anonymity embodied in the NAACP case should have an abiding place in the jurisprudence of every enlightened democracy.
Yoder sez, "Bill Jakob, a former trucking company owner with law enforcement experience, spent 'several months' pretending to be a federal agent in the town of Gerald, MO. Jakob apparently spent his time aggressively busting drug suspects, with the complicity of the local police department, claiming 'he did not need search warrants to enter their homes because he worked for the federal government.'"
Gosh, I guess that spending seven years telling everyone that the War on Terror demands that we defer to authority and trust in secrecy means that we end up being credulous patsies for con-artists -- who could have foreseen it?
The strange adventures of Sergeant Bill have led to the firing of three of the town’s five police officers, left the outcome of a string of drug arrests in doubt, prompted multimillion-dollar federal civil rights lawsuits by at least 17 plaintiffs and stirred up a political battle, including a petition seeking the impeachment of Mr. Schulte, over who is to blame for the mess.
And the questions keep coming. How did Mr. Jakob wander into town and apparently leave the mayor, the aldermen and pretty much everyone else he met thinking that he was a federal agent delivered from Washington to help barrel into peoples’ homes and clean up Gerald’s drug problem? And why would anyone – receiving no pay and with no known connection to little Gerald, 70 miles from St. Louis and not even a county seat – want to carry off such a time-consuming ruse in the first place?
The US's "Terrorism Liaison Officer" program is being expanded -- this is a program that trains utility workers and other government employees to snitch on people whom they deem "suspicious" and embroil them in a never-ending round of Orwellian surveillance and background checks.
Because nothing helps us find the terrorist needles in the haystack like inviting every junior G-Man in the land to make the haystacks larger!
In Colorado, TLOs report not only illegal but legal activity, such as bulk purchases along Colorado’s Front Range of up to 150 disposable cellphones. TLO supervisors said these bulk buys were suspicious because similar phones are used as remote detonators for bombs overseas and can be re-sold to fund terrorism.
Taking photos or videos can be deemed suspicious because “surveillance is a precursor to terrorist activity,” said Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Steve Garcia, an analyst in Colorado’s intelligence fusion center south of Denver, which handles TLO-supplied information.
Colorado, California and Arizona are among the first to deploy TLOs after establishing robust state-run fusion centers, which initially relied on tips from private citizens. Federal security agents now sit in 25 of those centers, including Colorado’s.
John sez, "Frances Pinter and David Percy have made a short documentary film about business models in the publishing world that use Creative Commons licenses.
Frances has been heading a CC-based publishing project called the Publishing and Alternative Licensing Model of Africa (PALM Africa). It is based in Uganda, and South Africa."
Eric sez, "Instructables user madhatter1138 meticulously interpreted the 'Jungle Cruise' ride at Disneyland into a backyard playhouse for his lucky daughters. He posted a slideshow of the construction and the finished product up on the site."
One of my favorite comics from the last year is The Amazing Joy Buzzards, an over-the-top title about the world's greatest rock 'n roll adventure band. With their trusty sidekick, the mythical Mexican wrestling genie, El Campeon, in tow, the Buzzards hop from one fast-paced adventure to the next, saving mankind from monsters, super-villains and evil beasties while living the rock 'n roll lifestyle to the fullest. Writer Mark Andrew Smith (Aqua Leung, Pop Gun) and and Artist Dan Hipp (GYAKUSHU!) have created a zany tour de force that will remind any reader that comics can still be fun without sacrificing story. Image Comics has just released a new "director's cut" super-deluxe trade paperback.
A few years ago, my friends Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mate converted a civil service vehicle into the SS Alphafox, a fire-spitting rover straight out of 1960s science fiction. Now, they're transforming an old VW Bug into a snail. From the project description:
The snail will be roughly 12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet high. The body and head will be built out of scrap galvanized metal cut into scales and the shell will be shaped from perforated steel. The structure of the shell and its growth rings will have Jon’s trademark rivet detail. The shell will offer a great opportunity for a beautiful patina job. The snail will be driven from a bench seat set back into the shell. To do this, we are extending the power and steering mechanisms up and back. This is all built on a Volkswagon Beetle frame that is completely stripped.
We are working out the light scheme; we would like something to outline the shape of the snail and the means for the shell to glow from within. We are also working out the details of the details; amber antique headlights, small brass touches on handles, a tiny “hobbit” door to enter the shell. Being Jon, the snail will have a bit of fire on it; 2 small fire poofers out of its antennae.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is testing faux speed bumps that are painted on the road. Their substance is merely an optical illusion, but apparently they slow people down. Until they realize the bumps are two dimensional anyway. From the Associated Press:
The 3-D markings are appealing because, at $60 to $80 each, they cost a fraction of real speed bumps (which can run $1,000 to $1,500) and require little maintenance, said Richard Simon, deputy regional administrator for the highway safety administration.
On one of three streets tested in the Phoenix trial, the percentage of drivers who obeyed the 25 mph speed limit nearly doubled. But the effect wore off after a few months.
"Initially they were great," said the Phoenix Police traffic coordinator, Officer Terry Sills. "Until people found out what they were."
I've had rotten luck with voice recorders. Quite a few micro-cassette recorders have conked out on me over the years (sometimes while conducting interviews for magazine articles). Once I used a minidisc recorder and ejected the disk without first stopping the recording and I lost everything.
When I interviewed Martha Stewart for Wired last year, I used both a tape recorder and a microphone attachment for my iPod to record our conversation. When we sat down to talk, I decided at the last second to I pull out my laptop and used the built-in mic to record the conversation.
When I got back to the hotel room and turned on my three recording devices, I learned that the tape recorder and iPod didn't record the conversation (probably my fault), but the laptop recording was OK. If I hadn't used the laptop, I would have been dead in the water. No way would Martha have granted me another interview.
Currently I'm writing a book about DIY, and I'm interviewing a bunch of alpha-DIYers. As I'll be walking around talking to people in their yards, workshops, launch-sites, compounds, and so on, using a computer to record my interviews with them is not practical. Last week I bought an Olympus WS-110 digital voice recorder. So far, it's worked beautifully. The interface was pretty easy to figure out, and the built-in USB plug is very handy. I just stick it my computer and it mounts like a disk. I copy the file (WMA format -- bummer) and use ffmpegX to convert it to MP3. Then I use the excellent Listen&Type to play the audio file when I transcribe.
It uses a single AAA battery (advertised to run 21 hours per battery), and you can switch the microphone between dictation and conference mode. The 256 MB of flash memory records almost 18 hours in the high quality mode (which is what I use) and 69 hours in the lowest-quality mode. I guess you could use the thing as a jump drive, too.
I'll let you know if this thing let's me down, but so far I have a good feeling about it.
I called Bank of America to request a credit line increase. They asked me to enroll in the Credit Protection Plus program and I declined. But today they sent me this letter congratulating me on enrolling and explaining the program fees.
A few bloggers (myself included) are quite unhappy with Bank of America. What happens is this:
1. We call their 800 number for a routine transaction
2. They offer us enrollment in one of those shady "credit protection plus" programs
3. *we decline*
4. Two weeks later, we get a letter thanking us for enrolling, and telling us what the charges are
I've also setup a Credit Protection Plus Fraud PBwiki to help organize ourselves in the fight against them. Please add your story if you've been victimized by Bank of America.
The funny people who run the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow site are so frightened of gays that they've set up a filter to change every instance of the word "gay" to "homosexual."
And while they may have fixed this particular instance, it looks like they haven't gone back through their archives and corrected other articles where this happened, such as this article where professional basketball player Rudy Gay is referred to as "Rudy Homosexual."