Boing Boing 

Electropop remix of the oldest Japanese song ever


This fun song featuring a dancing 8-bit skeleton is actually a remix of what is believed to be the oldest Japanese song in the world. The song is called Kokoriko Bushi, meaning tune of a kokoriko–an ancient string instrument. The artist is Japanese electro-pop collective Omodaka of Far East Recordings; the animation is directed by Teppei Maki. If you like how it sounds, there's another fun video on TokyoMango today. (Thanks, Matt!)

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

The history of yellow peril science fiction

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This week on MangoBot–my biweekly column about Asian futurism on io9–I wrote about the yellow peril and the portrayal of Asians in science fiction:
Back in the 1920s and 30s, when Asian immigration to the US and Europe was picking up steam, prominent science fiction writers like Philip Nowlan and H.P. Lovecraft created speculative scenarios starring massive hordes of horrible, slanty-eyed, intelligent Asians who were either taking over or destroying the world.

Continue reading...

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

Mad Magazine's War on Bush collection

Mad Magazine's "The Mad War on Bush" gathers a truly superlative collection of parodical and satirical material from eight years' worth of Mad lampoons between a single set of covers. As Jimmy Kimmel notes in his introduction to the book, there are many things to hate about the Bush regime, but it has been very, very kind to political satirists of all description.

Mad Magazine has had a glorious eight years with this presidency -- see, for example, the Gulf Wars Episode II poster (included as a full-size pullout, suitable for framing -- apparently the White House completely missed the joke here and used the poster internally as a morale booster; Sean Hannity showed it on his Fox "News" show!); the absolutely brilliant Dick Cheney shotgun accident cover, the NSA warrantless wiretapping poster (also included as a pull-out full-size item) and the bang-on "Bush campaign commercial if he was running against Jesus.

Mad's already warming up to have some fun with Obama, but at the end of the day, he's just not mush-mouthed, uncoordinated, and goofy to adequately serve the nation's satirists. Poor bastards. The Mad War on Bush

Chunky steel home-built pocket game system

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our John's found this absolutely ugg-lovely homebrew pocket video-game system:

It looks more like a Cold War era device for the remote detonation of nuclear warheads than a game console. but modder Sam Thornley's Portable Pac-Man Mini takes one of those old Namco emulator joysticks you plug and play into any old television and melds it with a tiny 2.5-inch LCD powered by 4 rechargeable AA batteries. That D-Pad isn't very good – perhaps he's trying to duck patent litigation – but the doodad can play Galaxian, Rally-X, Bosconian and Dig Dug. Because it's there!
Meet the Pac-Man Mini, Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets

YouTube Comment Snob hides badly spelled, profane, poorly capitalized YouTube comments


Here's an idea whose time has come: YouTube Comment Snob is a Firefox plugin that nukes comments with too many spelling mistakes, weird capitalization or punctuation, and too much cussin'. It works pretty damned well, too. As XKCD has pointed out in the past, YouTube has the worst, just the worst comment-areas on the Internet. YouTube Comment Snob (via Making Light)

Air Canada shaves fuel costs by eliminating life-jackets

Air Canada continues its race to the top of the list of the world's shittiest airlines by removing life-vests from its regional carrier Jazz, saving money on fuel in the process. In the event of a water crash, passengers can use their seat-cushions to float.

Come to that, they can use their pillows: the last time I flew AC, you had to buy a "pillow" that consisted of a giant ziploc bag that you were supposed to inflate. Passengers in business class got the same "pillows," but they were "free" (except for the extra thousands of dollars for a business-class ticket).

Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stuart said Thursday that Transport Canada regulations allow airlines to use flotation devices instead of life vests, provided the planes remain within 50 miles of shore.

Safety cards in the seat pockets of Jazz aircraft now direct passengers to use the seat cushions as flotation devices.

Stuart says Jazz is a transcontinental carrier that doesn't fly over the ocean.

Jazz planes do fly over the Great Lakes and along the Eastern seaboard from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Boston, Massachusetts, and to New York.

Emphasis mine. Airline removes life vests to lighten planes (via Neatorama)

CC licensed off-the-grid weaving cooperatives up for $1.5M prize

Cameron sez,

The non-profit Architecture for Humanity and Lulan Artisans are vying for $1.5M worth of funding to build weaving cooperatives in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and India. These centers will be designed through the Open Architecture Network with the Creative Commons Developing Nations License.

These funds will allow 6000 women access to a stable income and create an alternative to the human trafficking going on in many of these rural villages.

Voting for the AmEx Members Prize is on September 1st and the top 25 go through. This project is currently in 27th place out of 1190.

Vote for Architecture for Humanity and Lulan at Amex Members Project (Thanks, Cameron!)

Quebec free software group suing over government's no-bid Microsoft contracts

Kurt sez, "FACIL, the Quebecois Free Software advocacy group, is suing the Quebec provincial government, accusing them of abusing a legal loophole to essentially create 'no-bid' government software contracts for Microsoft. For a province that once considered independence from Canada, never mind independence from indentured servitude to US corporations, this is sublimely ironic."
Government buyers are using an exception in provincial law that allows them to buy directly from a proprietary vendor when there are no options available, but Facil said that loophole is being abused and goes against other legal requirements to buy locally.

"It shouldn't be the rule," Facil president Mathieu Lutfy told CBC News. "It goes against the public markets policy of the government, which requires them to stimulate competition and look for local alternatives. It's really an absurdity."

Quebec government sued for buying Microsoft software, FACIL contests government practices in the Superior Court

Yankees will drag you out of the stadium if you try to go to the bathroom during "God Bless America"

The Yankees are serious about their bizarre prohibition on going to the bathroom during the playing of "God Bless America" during the Seventh Inning Stretch: a man was dragged out of the stadium for daring to stand up and move around instead of singing a patriotic, religious song. I really like Tommy Smothers's formulation of the principle at work here: "America, where you're free to say anything you want, and you'd better not say what you're not supposed to!"

The NYCLU seems inclined to follow through with last year's promise to sue the Yankees over their policy of confining fans to their seats during the national anthem and "God Bless America," which is played during the seventh inning stretch. Yesterday Red Sox fan Bradford Campeau-Laurion, a Queens resident, told us about his rough ejection from Yankee stadium at the hands of the NYPD after he tried to go to the men's room during the seventh inning's moment of mandatory nationalism Monday night.
NYPD Defends Ejecting Sox Fan from Yankee Stadium During "God Bless America" (Thanks, Bill!)

Comcast limits customers to 250 gigs a month

Starting October 1, roundly hated broadband provider Comcast will begin officially capping consumer use at 250 gigs a month, according to the company's recently-updated Frequently Asked Questions about Excessive Use.
If a customer exceeds more than 250 GB and is one of the heaviest data users who consume the most data on our high-speed Internet service, he or she may receive a call from Comcast's Customer Security Assurance (CSA) group to notify them of excessive use.
Comcast to limit customers' broadband usage (Reuters)

Bigfoot/atheist t-shirt)

BigfoooootMark F. got me this terrific t-shirt for my birthday. Great tastes that go great together! It's $19 from TopatoCo.
Pfft (There Is No God) t-shirt (TopatoCo)

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets

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Today at Boing Boing Gadgets, we saw new Walkmen from Sony, hoped that Kindle 2 will be less ugly, and praised Fujitsu Siemens' Amilo Mini netbook for its Stormtrooping style. John found notes on how to port Pitfall 2 to the Apple IIe, gazed upon the beautifully thin Philips Essence, and laughed out virtual at NASA's space virus woes. There was an touchscreen PC with Netbook-like specs; a Pac-Man Mini which saw Namco in a new box, and a beautiful Haight St. apartment filled with old typewriters and cameras. We mused at Bloomberg's iMacabre Steve Jobs obit snafu, but nothing reminds us of our mortality quite like a Lego shoggoth-thingie based on the Ohmu from Nausicaä. Finally, Rob saw some silly cellphone accessories and launched a perhaps ill-advised defense of those terrible Tiger Electronics handheld games from the 1980s.

Today on TokyoMango

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Today on TokyoMango, I blogged about a guy who turns into a robot from a Hayao Miyazaki anime; a new technology that fights bird flu; and a silly man who kept 51 poisonous snakes in his house (and got bitten by one); and Tokyo's (slightly controversial) total dominance in the world restaurant scene. Oh, and this was yesterday, but there's a new Wii game that turns you into a competitive eater. Good night!

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

Use code "dogdays" at the MakerShed for 20% off

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The Maker Shed, Make and Craft magazines' online store, sells lots of great books and kits, like this solar powered Theremin (list price $15.99). If you use the code "dogdays" you'll get 20% off everything in the Shed.

It's hot here in Sebastopol. So hot, that the PG&E substation across the street blew a transformer and knocked out our power yesterday afternoon. So.... Under the category of anything is a good excuse for a promotion, we'll do the "dog days" promotion now through midnight Sunday, August 31. Visit MakerShed and enter "dogdays" as the promotional code and get 20% off everything in your shopping cart. Offer expires midnight PST this Sunday (9/1).
Use code "dogdays" at the MakerShed for 20% off

Aquarium for your toilet

 Art Shop-Fishnflush-Big The Fish 'n Flush is an aquarium for your toilet. According to the manufacturer's site, "Fish 'n Flush... makes a fun-fashion statement for the homeowner who wants to have something unique in the bathroom. It's $299 and fits most standard tank/bowl configurations.
Toilet aquarium (Fish 'n Flush, via Dark Roasted Blend)

Previously on BB Gadgets:
Tacky Glass Toilet Dioramas

Astrobiology Rap

Sciencerappp I dig the Astrobiology Rap, written by Jonathan Chase, a post-graduate science communication researcher. Chase wrote the song for the new issue of the Astrobiology Magazine European Edition.
Astrobiology Rap (AMEE, via Nature)

Urinal targets and other helpful nudges

The always-good GOOD magazine has a short list of unusual nudges to get people to do the "right thing," from reducing teenage pregnancy to quitting nail biting. From GOOD:
Stop men from peeing on the floor.
Authorities at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam have etched the image of a black housefly into each urinal. It seems that men usually do not pay much attention to where they aim, which can create a bit of a mess. But if you give them a target, they can’t help but try to hit it. Similar designs have been implemented in urinals around the world, including mini soccer goals, bulls-eyes, and urine video games (seriously). Do they work? Since the bugs were etched into the airport urinals, spillage has decreased by 80 percent.
Tricking People Into Doing The Right Thing (GOOD)

Cases of 2,000 skulls

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The intrepid travelers at Curious Expeditions took this photo and many other fantastic shots at the Museo delle Cere Anatomiche (Museum of Anatomical Waxes) in Bologna, Italy. From Curious Expeditions:
These are Luigi Calori’s 2,000 human skulls, organized according to many different themes, from groupings of ancient Roman skulls to cluster of skulls from suicide victims. Calori was the head of the anatomy department of Bologna University in 1831.
Museo delle Cere Anatomiche (Curious Expeditions)

Seth on cartooning

One of my favorite comix artists, Seth, wrote an essay for The Walrus about "the quiet art of cartooning." It's a lovely piece and gives some nice insight the artist's mind at work. Seth's article is accompanied by a comic strip and also an interview with him. From The Walrus:
 Imagesartist A3Dff7Dd55A576A cartoonist isn’t like a writer. Writing requires a special kind of focus. Your mind must be utterly devoted to the task at hand. When I’m breaking down a strip or hammering out dialogue, I’m using that writer’s focus. But drawing and inking are different. They use different parts of the brain. I often find that when I’m drawing, only half my mind is on the work – watching proportions, balancing compositions, eliminating unnecessary details.

The other half is free to wander. Usually, it’s off in a reverie, visiting the past, picking over old hurts, or recalling that sense of being somewhere specific – at a lake during childhood, or in a nightclub years ago. These reveries are extremely important to the work, and they often find their way into whatever strip I’m working on at the time. Sometimes I wander off so far I surprise myself and laugh out loud. Once or twice, I’ve become so sad that I actually broke down and cried right there at the drawing table. So I tell those young artists that if they want to be cartoonists, the most important relationship they are going to have in their lives is with themselves.
Seth: The Quiet Art of Cartooning (Walrus Magazine, via Drawn!)

Papercraft CCTV


Nude Magazine's got a free, downloadable papercraft CCTV camera, for freaking out your neighbors. Put one in the bathroom. The dog house. Use it for a hood-ornament. Build Your Own Nude Magazine CCTV Camera (Thanks, Alice!)

Wolfenflickr: Wolfenstein in Flash, with your Flickr photos


Wolfenflickr is a Flash-based implementation of Castle Wolfenstein that decorates the castle's walls with random images pulled from any Flickr stream (or any Flickr tag). Shooting Nazis and looking at snapshots: two great tastes that taste great together. Wolfenflickr (via Wonderland)

Photoblog devoted to century-old piccies


Shorpy, a photo-blog devoted to super-high-rez images from a century (or so) ago, like this magnificent 1924 shot of "clerks calculating the 'soldiers' bonus' for the War Department." Shorpy: The 100-Year-Old Photo Blog (Thanks, Mitch!)

Jaywalkers in Shanghai to be punished with shame

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In an attempt to put a halt to wandering pedestrians and cyclists, Shanghai police are going to post photos and videos of offenders all over the media–in newspapers, on TV–just to embarrass them. Some lawyers are protesting the system, saying that public humiliation is exaggerated punishment, and possibly defamatory, for such a minor infraction.

Crossing the street in Shanghai is like crossing the street in Manhattan–people wait for an opportunity and just do it, with little regard for what the traffic light says. Which makes me wonder how effective of a punishment this is. If they did it in NYC, people would probably either not give a crap or start posing for the camera. But being outed as a law-breaker is considered shameful–and maybe even a little scary–in China. I suppose police wouldn't be doing this if they didn't think it would work in the first place. Image by d'n'c' via Flickr

Police to shame jaywalkers on TV

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

Ancient Mayan underworld discovered in Mexico

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Archeologists in Mexico think they might have discovered Xibalba, a mythical Mayan underworld also known as the "place of fear." After some serious scuba diving and inching across deeply submerged underwater tunnels near the Yucatan peninsula, investigators reached an entrance to a bunch of dry chambers with the stone ruins of eleven sacred temples and a 330-foot long road. There were also lots and lots of human bones. According to the ancient Mayan scripture Popol Vuh, the entrance to Xibalba was once protected by rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus, and houses swarming with shrieking bats.

Link to Reuters article
Xibalba on Wikipedia (Thanks, Baker!)

( Lisa Katayama is a guest blogger.)

Best of BBtv: Leslie Hall is gem-tastic


Boing Boing tv is taking a week off for organic yak-yogurt wrestling on a private Himalayan island; we leave you to enjoy some of our crew's favorite past episodes in the meantime.

"Gem sweater diva" and midwestern maven Leslie Hall has appeared twice on our show. The video featured above is a tour diary she recorded just for us. If you like that, check out our backstage visit with her during a stop in San Francisco, below. "With these shoulder pads, I have the strength to destroy villages, homes and crops."

Original BBtv posts:
* Leslie Hall: Dear Diary
* Leslie Hall: ceWEBrity, gem sweater diva, jammer of jams.

Annalee Newitz sues the worst scifi movie ever made

Annalee Newitz, Editor and Time Distortion Field Operator for science fiction blog io9.com, has posted a nonlegal legal complaint for injunctive relief from "possibly the worst movie ever made, the recently-released, straight-to-DVD flick The Mutant Chronicles."

Weird "tribute videos" of celebs singing = pure YouTube gold


Snip from the blog for Bush League, who are Boing Boing tv's (loopy, sometimes drunk, always hi-LAR-e-ous!) studiomates:

I desperately have to sign offline and move on with my life, but I just got hijacked by that guy who makes “tribute videos” of celebs singing. I found that he’s done them not just for Jer and Sinatra and Elvis and Marilyn and JFK, but for Diderot, Che, Voltaire, Blaze Starr, Brad Pitt, and King Frederick of Prussia. He just might be my brain-warping hero of YT this month.
The episode featured above is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "singing" Stride Toward Freedom from "the new music theater show Crisis in Camelot by Ernest R. Tello."

WTF? Wednesday (Bush League, thanks John Walsh!)

Today happens to be the anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The text-to-speech robots who secretly control Boing Boing consider this an appropriate homage; please forgive me if you do not. Here's video of Dr. King's historic speech, btw, all LOLs aside.

Radiohead to webcast show live from Santa Barbara tonight (updated)


Above, a short experimental video by Thom Yorke. More please.

A little bird tells us that Radiohead are planning some kind of webcast from tonight's show in Santa Barbara, the last date <snif> on their North American tour. I saw them at Outside Lands in San Francisco on Aug 22, and the show was absolutely phenomenal.

More on Radiohead.com, sort of. Update: confirmed, more here. (thanks, Rex!)

Incidentally -- some noodling around on the band's blog digs up an older pro-net neutrality item from Colin Greenwood: "We didn't put In Rainbows out on the internet so that the next time AT&T would be releasing our music." Word.

Related: Sean Carlson was distributing flyers with a pal for this weekend's F Yeah Fest at the Radiohead Hollywood Bowl show, which I also hear was kickass. Sean's friend Michael Reich of Videothing.com was filming Sean and his friend for a documentary. Carlson says he was beaten up by goons from security firm CSC, contracted by the Hollywood Bowl. Here are photos and an account of the incident.

[A]fter Sean was pushed to the ground by a security guard, they decided to get out of there. But before they could get too far, a foot chase ensued because the security guards allegedly said "that shit's going to be on YouTube. We gotta get that tape."
(Thanks, Zach Behrens)

Update 2, 9:17pm PT: The webcast is live at radiohead.tv, and working very well on this Mac, snapshots below.


Make-believe police in UK have power to issue on-the-spot fines

Private security workers and local government officials have police powers to stop and fine people for littering, dog crap, and other minor offenses, reports the UK Telegraph. They can even "stop vehicles for the purpose of testing."
Dominic Grieve, the Conservative shadow home secretary, said the scheme was the latest example of the unjustified extension of surveillance powers under Labour.

He said: "The public will be angered that the Home Office is seeking to take serious powers that should be appropriately applied by the police and encouraging them to be given not just to local councils, but also to private firms.

"The public want to see real police on the streets discharging these responsibilities, not private firms who may use them inappropriately - including unnecessarily snooping on the lives of ordinary citizens."

Civilians given power to issue on-the-spot fines (via Arbroath)

The English language in 3000 AD

Here's a 2003 article by linguist Justin B Rye that looks at how the English has evolved over the centuries, and offers an example of what English could sound look in a thousand years.
2000 AD: We children beg you, teacher, that you should teach us to speak correctly, because we are ignorant and we speak corruptly...

3000 AD: *ZA kiad w'-exùn ya tijuh, da ya-gAr'-eduketan zA da wa-tAgan lidla, kaz 'ban iagnaran an wa-tAg kurrap...

FUTURESE: The American Language in 3000 AD (via The Presurfer)