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.
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."Link (Thanks, Guilherme!)
Whether handwritten on lined paper or stored electronically in a computer system, membership data is constitutionally protected from mandatory disclosure.
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.
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.Link (Thanks, Yoder!)
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?
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.Link
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." Link (Thanks, John!)
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.Amazing Joy Buzzards Volume 1: Here Come The Spiders ($14.99 at Amazon) | ($15.99 at Heavy Ink)
What is it we do? We covet. John wants an MSI Wind running Leopard and a brilliant Invader Zim sculpture; Joel wants a vestal grenade watch and a kegerator-cum-boombox on his hitch; and Rob wants a Sound Chaser to pipe audio unicorn chasers into his ears after every bad phone is announced.
There was a hippy control net; classic flip clocks; a frightening Gigermobile; a homemade autogiro from China; an unexpectedly-useful ladybug gadget; a GLaDOS GPS hack; and a disconcerting Elvis Terminator thing.
Lastly, loose lips won't sink ships with the flying dildo drone.
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.Snail car (Form and Reform)
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.
Previously on BB:
• Jon Sarriugarte's fire and metal art
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.Fake speed bumps (Associated Press)
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.
Olympus WS-110 ($64.68 at Amazon)
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.Bank of America: enrolls you in "Credit Protection Plus" without your permission (dustball@Mindsay)
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.
Previously on Boing Boing:
• Bank of America loses $50 million from customers upset by false arrest
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."The Dangers of Auto-Replace (Right Wing Watch)
Audrey Kawasaki print (Pressure Printing)
Previously on BB:
• Audrey Kawsaki: Juxtapoz profile
• Audrey Kawasaki interview on MacTribe
• Audrey Kawasaki at Roq La Rue
Carleton Watkins was a critically-acclaimed landscape photographer in the 19th century. His photos of Yosemite are considered groundbreaking examples of stereoscopic photography. Smithsonian has a feature on Watkins and a pleasant narrated slideshow about his Yosemite 3D photographs. From Smithsonian:
In July of 1861 (Watkins) went to Yosemite--with a dozen mules to carry his mammoth plate camera, which uses 18 by 22 inch glass plate negatives; a stereoscopic camera; tripods; glass plates; chemicals; other supplies and a tent for a darkroom. The trails into and through the valley were spectacularly scenic, but also treacherous.Carleton Watkins (Smithsonian)
Watkins returned from Yosemite with 30 mammoth plate and 100 stereoscopic negatives. They were quickly revered as images of superb technical and artistic quality. Watkins explained that he was just able to select the spot which "would give the best view." He was also a patient and precise camera and developing process technician. One reviewer admired Watkins' photographs for their "clearness, strength and softness of tone." In part because of Watkins' Yosemite pictures, in 1864 Congress passed and President Lincoln signed legislation preserving Yosemite Valley. The law was an important first step in the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. In 1865, Mount Watkins in Yosemite was named after Carleton Watkins.
A Seero user mapped video of the famous car chase scene from Steve McQueen's Bullit (1968) onto Google Maps. The creator, "Steve McQueen," says: I'm a huge fan of 'the king of cool' and of all movie car-chase scenes. I thought it would be great to mashup famous chases with their GPS tracks. Keep in mind some of the chases cut from one place to another...so I tried to be as accurate as possible. Bullit car chase (Thanks, Jason Tester!)
Air India on Thursday said a plane had overshot its Mumbai destination on June 4 but furiously denied it was because the pilots were sleeping, putting the glitch down to a brief communications breakdown.Sleeping pilots? (AFP, via Fortean Times)
"The report is absolutely incorrect, devoid of facts, misleading and irresponsible. It is a figment of imagination," Air India spokesman Jitender Bhargava told AFP by telephone from Mumbai.
"We have gone through the flight reports of the last 30 days. A plane did cross Mumbai for 15 kilometres because it had lost contact for a few moments. At those speeds 15 kilometres is covered in a very short time."
The Aztecs sounded the low, foghorn hum of conch shells at the start of ceremonies and possibly during wars to communicate strategies. Hunters likely used animal-shaped ocarinas to produce throaty grunts that lured deer.Pre-Columbian sounds (Associated Press)
The modern-day archaeologists who came up with the term Whistles of Death believe they were meant to help the deceased journey into the underworld, while tribes are said to have emitted terrifying sounds to fend off enemies, much like high-tech crowd-control devices available today.
Experts also believe pre-Columbian tribes used some of the instruments to send the human brain into a dream state and treat certain illnesses. The ancient whistles could guide research into how rhythmic sounds alter heart rates and states of consciousness.
Naxos produces fantastic, professionally read audiobooks of contemporary and classic lit -- and they distribute them on CD and as DRM-free, watermark-free MP3s. Basically, this is a company that assumes you're a valued customer, not a dirty thief. They're pioneers in the growing field of DRM-free audiobook providers, who, unlike market-leader Audible (a division of Amazon) allow publishers and writers to decide whether or not they want to their books crippled with DRM.
Back when Amazon bought Audible, they claimed that they would drop DRM if there was enough public outcry and now they claim that something may be in the works, but no one has seen any DRM-free audiobooks from Audible, and no one at Audible is available to do a deal for DRM-free books.
In the meantime, I was lucky enough to meet the Naxos folks at Book Expo America in LA last month and they were absolutely charming. I asked them if they'd be willing to post some MP3s of their stuff for the benefit of Boing Boing readers and they were only too happy to -- so now you can download a free Sherlock Holmes story (the gloriously titled "Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle") and the first chapter of Tom Sawyer (including Twain's inspiring introduction).
I love having the chance and the choice to support audiobook companies that respect readers' rights and the author's right to decide whether DRM should be larded onto his books. Naxos's MP3 store works great and is filled with wonderful titles for your delectation. Link
I'm completely bored of this rhetoric of endless insane change at a ludicrous rate, and cannot actually believe that people are taking it seriously. We've had iPods and digital media players for what - five years now? We've had Tivo for a similar amount of time, computers that can play DVDs for longer, music and video held in digital form since the eighties, an internet that members of the public have been building and creating upon for almost fifteen years. TV only got colour forty odd years ago, but somehow we're expected to think that it's built up a tradition and way of operating that's unable to deal with technological shifts that happen over decades!? This is too fast for TV!? That's ridiculous! This isn't traditional media versus a rebellious newcomer, this is a fairly reasonable and incremental technology change that anyone involved in it could have seen coming from miles away. And it's not even like anyone expects television or radio to change enormously radically over the next couple of decades! I mean, we're swtiching to digital broadcasting in the UK in a few years, which gives people a few more channels. Radio's not going to be fully digital for decades. Broadcast is still going to be a dominant form of content distribution in ten and maybe twenty years time, it just won't be the only one. And five years from now there will clearly be more bottom-up media, just as there are more weblogs now than five years ago, but I'd be surprised if it had really eradicated any major media outlets. These changes are happening, they're definitely happening, but they're happening at a reasonable, comprehendible pace. There are opportunities, of course, and you have to be fast to be the first mover, but you don't die if you're not the first mover - you only die if you don't adapt.Link (via Beyond the Beyond)
My sense of these media organisations that use this argument of incredibly rapid technology change is that they're screaming that they're being pursued by a snail and yet they cannot get away! 'The snail! The snail!', they cry. 'How can we possibly escape!?. The problem being that the snail's been moving closer for the last twenty years one way or another and they just weren't paying attention. Because if we're honest, if you don't want or need to be first and you don't need to own the platform, it can't be hard to see roughly where this environment is going. Media will be, must be, transportable in bits and delivered to TV screens and various other players. And there will be enormous archives available that need to be explorable and searchable. And people will create content online and distribute it between themselves and find new ways to express themselves. Changes in the mechanics of those distributions and explorations will happen all the time, but really the major shift is not such a surprise, surely? I mean, how can it be!? Most of it has been happening in an unevenly distributed way for years anyway. And it's not like it's enormously hard to see what you've got to do to prepare for this - find a way to digitise the content, get as much information as possible about the content, work out how to throw it around the world, look for business models and watch the bubble-up communities for ideas. That's it. Come on, guys! There's hard work to be done, but it's not in observing the trends or trying to work out what to do, it's in just getting on with the work of sorting out rights and data and digitisation and keeping in touch with ideas from the ground. This should be the minimum a media organisation should do, not some terrifying new world of fear!
Dave sez, "Spotted this Google-themed sari in a fancy shopping mall in Gurgaon, India (the tech hub south of Delhi). I couldn't get the backstory because (proving that India is nearing Western standards in every way!) a guard started rushing over to bust me for taking pictures."
Link (via Schneier)
U.S. Patent 6844817, Aircraft anti-terrorism security system, by Wolfgang Gleine. Issued Jan 18, 2005.
Problem: Terrorists want to hijack a plane by trying to break down the cockpit door.
Solution: After hardening the cockpit door, airlines should add the next logical step: airplane trap door that springs open to entrap terrorists below deck.
Bonus: Great prank to pull on the co-pilot going on a bathroom break.
Improvement Suggestion: Add an alligator pit to the trap door ...
Stones Edges offers free samples of their papercraft game-terrain -- check out the full (and reasonably priced) sets, which allow you to build entire, elaborate multi-level scenes out of paper and glue. And the free stuff's great too: Whose desk wouldn't benefit from some 1" paper crates? Link (Thanks, Eclecticos!)
UK-based Russell Porter chronicles alt music culture in the Porter Report with aggressive wit and offbeat charm.
Today, part two of his exclusive interview for Boing Boing tv with the rap / IDM / hiphop / house / genre-bending artist Cadence Weapon, aka Rollie Pemberton, who hails from Edmonton, Canada.
Cadence Weapon, who is 22 years old, is touring Europe and US throughout the summer. Dates are listed -- where else? -- on his MySpace, along with various blinky things. His newest record Afterparty Babies was just released on Epitaph, and is, as the kids say, fierce.
Link to Boing Boing tv post with discussion, downloads, and instructions for subscribing to the daily BBtv video podcast.
Link (Thanks, Jacob!)
When the reporter went to check out the new age-verifying machines after they were introduced in the Osaka area in June, he soon discovered that the machines equipped with face-recognition cameras would let him buy cigarettes when he held up a 15-centimeter (6-in) wide magazine photo of a man who looked to be in his 50s.
The reporter also went to Kobe, where different face recognition hardware is being used. There, he bought cigarettes using an 8-centimeter (3-in) wide magazine photo of a female celebrity in her 30s. He also reportedly tried to use a 3-centimeter (1-in) wide photo, but the machines rejected it.
In today's NYT, an obituary for David Caminer, "the first corporate electronic systems analyst." He worked for the Lyons chain of tea shops in the UK, and developed early ways to use computers for business purposes in the 1950s, "including standardizing flavorful, cost-effective cups of tea." He died June 19 in London, at age 92. Snip:
The death was announced by the Leo Computers Society, whose purpose is to keep alive the memory of LEO, the computer Mr. Caminer helped develop for J. Lyons & Company. It was the world’s first business computer, a distinction certified by Guinness World Records.David Caminer, a Pioneer in Computers, Dies at 92 [NYT]
Lyons was the first company in the world to computerize its commercial operations, partly because it had so many of them: it had more than 200 teahouses in London and its suburbs, with each Lyons Corner House daily generating thousands of paper receipts and needing scores of fresh baked items.
In addition to running the tea shops, Lyons catered large events like tennis at Wimbledon and garden parties at Windsor Castle; it also operated hotels, laundries, and ice cream, candy and meat pie companies. And, of course, tea plantations.
As a result, the company required exceptionally efficient office support. So it was only natural it would look at the “electronic brains” that scientists in the United States were developing for scientific and military purposes as a way to streamline its own empire. Mr. Caminer’s role was finding ways to retain traditional clerical rigor while speeding up the company’s logistics and finances many times over.
See also: LEO Computers Website, "the LEO Computers Society, membership of which is open to all ex-employees of LEO Computers and its succeeding companies, and anyone who worked on a LEO computer."