Palin believes dinosaurs and men once coexisted

The vice presidential candidate of a major political party in America apparently believes dinosaurs and men once walked the earth at the same time:
After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Palin told him that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time," Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said "she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks," recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on his liberal political blog, called Progressive Alaska.

Palin treads carefully between fundamentalist beliefs and public policy (Los Angeles Times) Read the rest

Adventurer's Club at Disney World closes

The Adventurer's Club at Walt Disney World -- a cabaret show/bar augmented with puppeteered robotic masks, stone idols, and random junque -- has shut its doors, as part of the shuttering of Pleasure Island (an otherwise lacklustre adult entertainment area with crummy discos and clubs). This was my second-favorite Disney artifact of all time (after the Haunted Mansion ride), and my favorite club in the world. I'm so bummed to hear they shut it down -- I hope it re-opens somewhere else soon!
Three UCF students showed up dressed as Pamelia Perkins, Hathaway Browne, and the Colonel. “It’s the final night,” said Pamelia look-alike Beth Phillips. “We had to do something big.” Nathan Kohlun said choosing to dress like Hathaway was easy. “Everyone loves this character, especially the women. It’s just all really fun.”

About an hour before the doors opened, many of the actors came out in their street clothes to loud cheers. They posed for photos, answered questions, received gifts, and thanked as many fans as they could for their support over the years.

Cassie Cameron, who wore a hand-made Hathaway shirt, brought a snapshot to give to the cast showing her at age 9 in the Mask Room. The now 24-year-old said she’s just sad she won’t get the chance to bring her own daughter to the Club. “She’s three and can already sing the Adventurer’s Song and even Toast! I had really hoped to share this with her some day.”

Huge Crowd Gives Heartfelt Send-off to Adventurer’s Club (Thanks, Heath! Read the rest

Roman siege engine for sale

Ever wanted to own a full-scale Roman siege engine? Now you can!

The ballista was successfully built and managed to fire a very heavy stone ball some 127 yards. (Remember, these things used to successfully lay siege to entire cities.)

The ballista, dissembled, has been in our Scotland timber yard since then, so we have decided to make some room (quite a bit of room, actually) and sell it on eBay.

The ballista has aged gracefully and needs a little restoration work to get it back into shape again – though as a demonstration piece rather than as a fireable weapon. We’ve decided to sell the ballista ‘as seen’ for those who fancy constructing it themselves – though we are very happy to provide construction as an additional service. (To be fair, we recommend it – it will take people with timber expertise to do the required work.)

Our full-size Roman siege catapult for sale on eBay (Thanks, Uncle Wilco!) Read the rest

MPAA spokeslawyers insist that they not be identified by name in reports from press-conference

The MPAA is suing RealNetworks for making a product that will rip a DVD, crap it up with DRM, and store it on your hard-drive. The MPAA says that only their stupid DRM, and not RealNetworks' stupid DRM, can be used to cripple DVDs. My take? A pox on both their houses.

Except this:

Lawyers for the MPAA, in a teleconference with reporters, said Kaleidesape and RealDVD are circumventing "technology designed to prevent copying."

The lawyers, who asked that their names not be published, said they were concerned "Consumers will think this is a legal product...when in fact it is totally illegal."

Wait wait wait wait: what? These unnamed lawyers are on a press-call with the media, as spokespeople for their company, and they "asked that their names not be published?" And journalists complied?

Truly, this is a new low in chickenshittery that has me scraping my jaw off my chest. These lawyers aren't deep-throat whistle-blowers sneaking information out of their employers' filing cabinets: they're the official spokespeople for the firm. And they get anonymity?

So what happens in the future -- after the MPAA gets its ass handed to it by the court -- if we want to argue that the MPAA's lawyers have a long history of going around saying that software is "totally illegal"? Do the MPAA get to deny it, because no one can name the spokesperson who said it?

And why on earth would the journalists honor such a request? "Unnamed MPAA lawyer says stupid thing" fails one of the important Ws of reporting: Who said it? Read the rest

Steampunk for engineers in IEEE Spectrum

This month's IEEE Spectrum magazine has a lush photo-spread aimed at explaining to engineers the appeal of steampunk:
STEAMY STEPS: California artist and animator I-Wei Huang, known as Crab Fu, has built a legion of remote-controlled steaming creatures out of scale-model tanks and boats, electronics kits, and “a bunch of junk parts I’ve collected.” The Steam Walker, one of his favorite creations, uses a Wilesco D14 miniature steam engine and a system of sprockets and chains to move its feet.
Slideshow: Steampunk Sensation

(Image: Jonathan Sprague/Redux) Read the rest

Facebook hires key defender of Bush's attack on American civil liberties

Facebook's recently-beefed-up management team includes former White House lawyer Ted Ullyot, who...
... helped coordinate the response to the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and serv[ed] as chief of staff to former U.S. Atty. General Alberto Gonzales. [He] will join Facebook as its vice president and general counsel next month. Ullyot, who also has had major private sector stints including as a top lawyer for AOL Time Warner Europe, is leaving a partnership with law firm Kirkland & Ellis and will relocate to the Bay Area, he said in an interview Friday.
Facebook hires general counsel as it continues to grow (LA Times, thanks @jameshome) Read the rest

Eclectic Methodology and their New Toy

Bob Marley - Eclectic Method vMIX - Imeem Exclusive -

Video remix artists Eclectic Method cut and paste music videos, movies, current events, and video games into a danceable stream of sound and heady stretch of images. It's fun to watch them "scratch" DVD's live, and their recorded work makes for great YouTube fare.

Here's my favorite examples of their video mashup: BOB MARLEY - (an official video mix for the Marley Family) OBAMA VS. CLINTON: MEDIA HYPE OVERLOAD ENTOURAGE HBO: Ari Gold says F*%K ZEITGHOST #2 - Eclectic Method's Signature Music Video Remixtape TONY SOPRANO's Video Remix KILL BILL - Movie Fight Remix

But it's even more fun to play with this stuff oneself. In true DIY fashion, they've created a super-easy video remixer that lets the least experienced or most stoned computer users to play mash-up with images from their last video.

(All you do is click on the image, and then use your number keys to jam.)

It may not be the most deeply creative computer experience available, but it is kinda fun - and accessible to all. Even my 3-year-old.

Douglas Rushkoff is a guest blogger. Read the rest

No Money Down

Because of current events, Arthur magazine just posted the column I wrote for their upcoming issue, written a month or so ago, about what's happening right now. I figured I'd share it with you here:

I poked my head up from writing my book a couple of months ago to engage with Arthur readers about the subject I was working on: the credit crunch and what to do about it [see “Riding Out the Credit Crisis” in Arthur No. 29/May 2008]. I got more email about that piece than anything I have written since a column threatening to defect from the Mac community back in the Quadra days.

Many readers thought I was hinting at something under the surface–a conspiracy, of sorts, to take money from the poor and give it to the rich. It sounded to many like I was describing an economic system actually designed–planned–to redistribute income in the worst possible ways.

I guess I’d have to agree with that premise. Only it’s not a secret conspiracy. It’s an overt one, and playing out in full view of anyone who has time (time is money, after all) to observe it.

The mortgage and credit crisis wasn’t merely predictable; it was predicted. And not by a market bear or conspiracy theorist, but by the people and institutions responsible. The record number of foreclosures, credit defaults, and, now, institutional collapses is not the result of the churn of random market forces, but rather a series of highly lobbied changes to law, highly promoted ideologies of wealth and home ownership, and monetary policies highly biased toward corporate greed.

Read the rest

Punching bag changes color when hit

Artist Stefan Gross says: "Love Hate Punch is a punching bag that gives light if you hit it and if you do your best it changes color from dark red to bright red to yellow to white." Love Hate Punch Read the rest

The House of Death: An Interview with DEA Whistleblower Sandy Gonzalez

Radley Balko, senior editor of Reason magazine, says: "Federal agents looked the other way while one of their drug informants [Guillermo Ramirez Peyro, also known as "Lalo"] participated in a series of gruesome murders. They knew about the murders, but refused to call off the drug investigation. When an outraged DEA agent [Sandy Gonzalez] blew the whistle, the DEA, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and DOJ forced him into early retirement. The government is now trying to deport the informant they've paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to over the years. They want to send him to Mexico, where he'll almost certainly be killed."
Reason: The DEA administrator at the time, Karen Tandy, has admitted in court testimony that she gave you the only poor performance review of your career because of your letter calling for an investigation into the murders. That led to your retirement. Have any of the ICE officers who handled the Lalo case been held accountable --criminally, professionally, or otherwise?

Gonzalez: Not to my knowledge. I doubt it. I would have heard about it.

Reason: Have you had any indication that Congress might step in? Have you talked to anyone on Capitol Hill?

Gonzalez: Back in 2005 I went and briefed the senior staff of two senators.

Reason: Which ones?

Gonzalez: [Iowa Sen. Charles] Grassley and [Vermont Sen. Patrick] Leahy. I think what happened is one of the members of Leahy’s staff was a Justice Department officer who was on loan on a detail to the senator’s staff.

Read the rest

Woman Dressed as Cow Gets a Month in Jail

32-year-old Michele Allen received a one-month sentence for disorderly conduct after police received complaints that she was dressed in a cow costume and chasing children, blocking traffic, and urinating on a neighbor's porch.

She wore the costume again when she appeared for sentencing. One Month in Corral for Disorderly Woman Read the rest

The Great Schlep

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Here's an easy way to help Obama and progressive Judaism at the same time! The Great Schlep, brainchild of my good friend Ari Wallach, "aims to have Jewish grandchildren visit their grandparents in Florida, educate them about Obama, and therefore swing the crucial Florida vote in his favor. Don’t have grandparents in Florida? Not Jewish? No problem! You can still become a schlepper and make change happen in 2008, simply by talking to your relatives about Obama."

Whether or not one supports Obama, it's probably a good idea to dispel the myths (one group I spoke with at an Upper East Side New York synagogue believed that Obama had already committed to placing Farrakhan in his cabinet), and at least make sure Floridians understand exactly who and what they're voting for.

Douglas Rushkoff is a guest blogger. Read the rest

Reuters sues academic for making a Firefox plugin that lets you annotate and reference articles

Espen sez, "In a move leading me to suspect they have hired laid-off lawyers from RIAA, Endnote (owned by Reuters) has sued GMU and Dan Cohen for the latest version of Zotero (a Firefox plugin that lets you save, annotate and academically reference articles you find online). This is an amazingly stupid market move: Suing an academic for making software for other academics because the software allows you to convert styles (which in turn were freely contributed by other academics) - when your main market is academics."
For my part, I’m going to refuse to use Reuters’ software in future, strongly discourage graduate students from buying EndNote, and try to get this message out to my colleagues too (at least those of them who aren’t using Zotero or some BibTex client already). If I taught any classes where Thomson printed relevant textbooks, I would be strongly inclined not to use these texts either. I encourage you to do the same (and, if you’re so minded, to suggest other possible ways of making it clear to Reuters that this kind of behaviour is intolerable in the comments). People have argued that the music industry has screwed up badly by suing its customers – whether that’s true or not, makers of academic bibliography software should be told that suing universities for what appear to be entirely legitimate actions is not likely to do their reputations any good.
GMU sued for Zotero (Thanks, Espen!) Read the rest

BBtv: Galactic's "Modern New Orleans Funk" with Xeni and Russell (music)

New Orleans is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to the guys in the band Galactic, it's the motherland of funk. In today's Boing Boing tv episode, Xeni and Russell catch Galactic's Crescent City Soul Crewe live at the Outside Lands festival, and speak to them about the band's homage to this birthplace of jazz and its ancestral influence on many other forms of modern music. The band's newest release, From the Corner to the Block, is potent stuff, and pulling in rave reviews all over.

( Sponsor note: Crowdfire is sponsoring this series of music features on BBtv, and you can find crowdsourced snapshots, audio, and video about this band at )

Link to BBtv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to the daily BBtv video podcast.

Read the rest

You May Be Synaesthetic And Not Know It

We post often about synaesthesia, a strange neurological condition characterized by a link between two or more senses. (A particular musical note "sounds" red, etc.) New research suggests that many more people may have synaesthesia than realize it. In one experiment at McMaster University in Canada, self-described non-synaesthetes associated the smell of certain foods with certain colors and textures. From New Scientist:
When the researchers analysed the results, along with some obvious associations – lemon with yellow and peppermint with smooth, hard and sticky – they found some odd ones. Significantly more people than chance, for instance, associated the smell of mushrooms with the colours blue or yellow. Lavender elicited the colour green and the texture of sticky liquid, while ginger was perceived as black and sharp. "The influence of learning is there," (researcher Ferrinne) Spector told a meeting of the American Synesthesia Association in Hamilton on 27 September, "but it cannot explain all associations."
Do we all have some synaesthetic ability? Previously on BB: • Many more synaesthesia posts Read the rest

Daphne Oram: electronic music pioneer

Daphne Oram (1925-2003) was a pioneering electronic musician and sound engineer at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. She established a workshop to develop experimental techniques for composing radio soundtracks. Oram is best known for her invention of Oramics, a system of converting drawings on 35mm film into sound textures. You can hear samples of her her music here. As part of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's 50th anniversary, The Guardian recently profiled Oram and included a slide show of terrific vintage photographs. From The Guardian:
Oram was one of the first British composers to produce electronic sound, a pioneer of what became "musique concrete" – music made with sounds recorded on tape, the ancestor of today's electronic music. Her story makes for fascinating reading. She was born in 1925 when Britain was between two world wars. She was extremely bright, and studied music and electronics – unusual at the time not only because electronics was an exciting new industry, but also because it was a man's world. She went on to join the BBC, and, while many of the corporation's male staff were away fighting in the second world war, she became a balancing engineer, mixing the sounds captured by microphones at classical music concerts. In those days, nearly all programmes went out live because recording was extremely cumbersome and expensive. Tape hadn't been invented, and cheap computers were half a century away. Yet when tape did come along, in the early 1950s, Oram was quick to realise that it could be used not simply for recording existing sounds, but for composing a new kind of music.
Read the rest

Vote Bear

Canadian illustrator Graham Roumieu, who has chronicled the life of Bigfoot, writes

If you were looking for a little something disgustingly cute to get you through disgusting political and economic times, well here you go. This was for last weekend's Globe and Mail.

May all your melt downs be ice cream related, -- Graham

Read the rest

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