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Mark Ryden's first toy, photographed by Brian McCarty

Yhwh Seen here is a Brian McCarty's splendid photograph of Mark Ryden's first ever toy, titled YHWH, on its way this summer from Long Gone John's Necessaries Toy Foundation. The figure stands 16" tall and keeps a constant vigil with its acrylic eyes. Brian's photo will grace the back cover of the forthcoming eleventh issue of Hi-Fructose magazine. Click the image to see it larger.

Yuri's Night "global space parties" happen from April 4-12.

( Image above: Aaron Muszalski, shot by Scott Beale, at Yuri's night 2007.)

The annual celebration of space travel known as the "Yuri's Night World Space Parties" happens this year on Saturday April 4, 2009.

The events, which take place in cities around the world each April, celebrate humanity's achievements in space. The parties mark the anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's orbital spaceflight, which was the human race's first foray into space (on April 12, 1961) and the first space Shuttle flight (on April 12, 1981). More than 150 events will take place this year on planet Earth.

I co-hosted one of the parties in Dallas, Texas, once, as the pic at left documents. Drunken cosmomauts (no, they were not drinking cosmopolitans) branded me with the head of Yuri Gagarin.

More about the Washington, DC edition of this event, from Yuri's Night global organizer Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, the lovely and brilliant space diva who will be hosting that particular location's festivities:

The party this year at Goddard features live music from regional music stars Middle Distance Runner. Listen to multi-layered, indie-pop sounds through exploded views of galaxies and NASA exhibits. Dance next to the rocket garden to beats infused by DJ Scientific. A series of activities are guaranteed to entertain including NASA heavy hitters guiding you though space in the Science on a Sphere theater. Galactic attire is encouraged, silver, antennae, glow in the dark, sci-fi. Participants must be at least 21 years old and bring a valid ID. Beer, wine, and refreshments will be available for purchase and water, soda and chips provided.

Food Network will also feature a 2.5 ft high Hubble Space Telescope cake made for the occasion on their TV show 'Ace of Cakes' about Baltimore's own Charm City Cakes bakery and 500 lucky guests will get to sample Charm City's finest as we celebrate Goddard Space Flight Center's 50th Anniversary.

More info on events in all of the participating cities (I believe admission is $10 or less at each) is right here.

Elvis jams with Jimmy Page, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Keith Moon

Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger.

Poor Timothy Geithner

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Good Ol' Charlie Brown Timothy Geithner, as illustrated by the inimitable Drew Friedman for the New Republic.

Silicon brain

Researchers have built a chip with the equivalent of 200,000 neurons and 50 million synapses in an effort to mimic a human brain in silicon. I, for one, welcome our simple-minded overlords. From Technology Review:
Although the chip has a fraction of the number of neurons or connections found in a brain, its design allows it to be scaled up, says Karlheinz Meier, a physicist at Heidelberg University, in Germany, who has coordinated the Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States project, or FACETS.

The hope is that recreating the structure of the brain in computer form may help to further our understanding of how to develop massively parallel, powerful new computers, says Meier...

FACETS has been tapping into the same databases. "But rather than simulating neurons," says Karlheinz, "we are building them." Using a standard eight-inch silicon wafer, the researchers recreate the neurons and synapses as circuits of transistors and capacitors, designed to produce the same sort of electrical activity as their biological counterparts.
Building A Brain On A Silicon Chip (Thanks, Marina Gorbis!)

Jobriath Boone: Rock's Fairy Godmother

Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger.
If you've never heard of Jobriath Boone, don't worry, you're not alone. Obscure even by "rock snob" standards, Jobriath was the first really openly gay rock star. David Bowie and Lou Reed flirted with bisexuality, nail polish and make-up, of course, but Jobriath was in his own words, "a true fairy." He wasn't just "out of the closet" he was out like a police siren with the volume turned up to eleven! I've been a Jobriath freak for about 20 years when I stumbled upon his first LP at a New York City flea market. "What is THIS?" was my initial reaction to the cover, obviously influenced by the artwork for David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs." Clearly from the image on the cover, Jobriath was a 70s glitter rock wannabe. Make that perhaps a "neverwas," for aside from a massive advertising campaign that saw his image on 250 New York buses and a 40 foot high poster in Times Square, two solid LPs (recorded with the likes of Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Peter Frampton) and a memorable "Midnight Special" performance, Jobriath was a massive flop at the time. Too gay for mid-America in 1974? For sure, but that hasn't stopped Jobriath's Broadway showtunes meets glam rock oeuvre from being rediscovered by fresh ears this decade. Championed by Morrissey, Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys and singer-actress Ann Magnuson (who once told me that I was "the only straight guy in the world who's ever even HEARD of Jobriath" back in the early 90s), the tiny cult of Jobriath got a lot of new members when the CD compliation "Lonley Planet Boy" was released in 2004. His life was also a major part of the inspiration for Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" although few people realize that fact (the Maxwell Demon album covers are direct homages to the original Jobriath records). Admittedly, his music isn't for everyone --some people just HATE it-- but for those of you who embraced the equally obscure Klaus Nomi, you'll probably love Jobriath. "I'maman" on The Midnight Special "Rock of Ages" on The Midnight Special "I'm Ready for my Close-Up" an informative Jobriath article from MOJO. Why You Should Like Jobriath

Errol Morris on a photo mystery

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In a five part New York Times online series, documentary filmmaker and blogger Errol Morris tackles the fascinating mystery of this Civil War-era photograph. From the article, titled "Whose Father Was He?:
No name – but a soldier brave, he fell.
We shall find her, without a name;
This picture, sometime, will tell whence he came.
– Emily Latimer, “The Unknown”

The soldier’s body was found near the center of Gettysburg with no identification – no regimental numbers on his cap, no corps badge on his jacket, no letters, no diary. Nothing save for an ambrotype (an early type of photograph popular in the late 1850s and 1860s) of three small children clutched in his hand. Within a few days the ambrotype came into the possession of Benjamin Schriver, a tavern keeper in the small town of Graeffenburg, about 13 miles west of Gettysburg. The details of how Schriver came into possession of the ambrotype have been lost to history. But the rest of the story survives, a story in which this photograph of three small children was used for both good and wicked purposes.
Whose Father Was He? (Part One)

Camera charts out of context

Nicoleeee This image is one in a very odd series of photos. Well, odd if you're not familiar with video production. These photos are actually entries in a contest sponsored by the makers of color bars, gray scales, and other charts used to calibrate digital cameras. My friend Chris Courtney sent me a link to the contest because he's entered with this photo of his wife Nicole. Out of context though, the "Charts In Action 2009" page looks, as I said, rather odd.
Charts In Action Contest 2009

Laurie Anderson interviewed by Ken Goldberg

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BB pal Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley engineering professor and artist, curates a fantastic free lecture series called the Art, Technology, & Culture Colloquium. At a recent event, Ken interviewed multimedia art pioneer Laurie Anderson. The audio of the interview is now available online:
This event was held in conjunction with Anderson’s newest performance, “Homeland,” which includes songs and stories that create a poetic and political portrait of contemporary American culture. Conceived as one long piece of music, “Homeland” moves through many worlds, from Greek tragedy to American business models, addressing the current obsession with fear, violence, and security.
Laurie Anderson in conversation with Ken Goldberg

America's bankers are oligarchs

Writing in the Atlantic, Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, takes a hard look at the econopocalypse and decides that the root of America's (and Europe's) economic woes is the cozy relationship between super-powerful bankers and government -- oligarchy. So, he says, we cannot fix the economy until we break up the banks, curb executive compensation in the finance sector, and turn it into "just another industry."

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason–the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit–and, most of the time, genteel–oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon–correctly, in most cases–that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise...

The government needs to inspect the balance sheets and identify the banks that cannot survive a severe recession. These banks should face a choice: write down your assets to their true value and raise private capital within 30 days, or be taken over by the government. The government would write down the toxic assets of banks taken into receivership–recognizing reality–and transfer those assets to a separate government entity, which would attempt to salvage whatever value is possible for the taxpayer (as the Resolution Trust Corporation did after the savings-and-loan debacle of the 1980s). The rump banks–cleansed and able to lend safely, and hence trusted again by other lenders and investors–could then be sold off.

Cleaning up the megabanks will be complex. And it will be expensive for the taxpayer; according to the latest IMF numbers, the cleanup of the banking system would probably cost close to $1.5trillion (or 10percent of our GDP) in the long term. But only decisive government action–exposing the full extent of the financial rot and restoring some set of banks to publicly verifiable health–can cure the financial sector as a whole.

This may seem like strong medicine. But in fact, while necessary, it is insufficient. The second problem the U.S. faces–the power of the oligarchy–is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

The Quiet Coup (via Making Light)


Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger.

PEOPLE OF AMERICA, LISTEN UP: From the fine folks who brought you "Tim and Eric Awesome Show -great job!," "Superjail" and "Look Around You," at long last, "The Mighty Boosh" have a berth at Adult Swim!!! Thrill to the psychedelic adventures of Vince Noir, "rockstar" --raised in a forest by Bryan Ferry, can talk to animals, a big Gary Numan freak-- and Howard Moon, "generic-looking" unpublished novelist and delusional "intellectual." The Boosh have landed in the US of A!!!! It's next to impossible to describe the riotous bubble gum confection of the audio-visual strangeness that is The Mighty Boosh, but, in brief, Howard and Vince, along with their friends Naboo the Enigma, mystical shaman and pot dealer, and Bolo the gorilla go on various surreal journeys. Along the way they meet meet killer kangaroos, violent hitchhikers, "mod wolves," and a hermaphroditic "merman" (with a "mangina"). Many of the episodes erupt into bizarre and elaborate music videos with inventive dance choreography. If any of this is starting to sound like something you might enjoy, grab yourself some herbal "entertainment insurance" (if you know what I am talking about, and I think you do --The Boosh are God's gift to stoners) and start watching The Mighty Boosh, Sunday nights on Adult Swim.
I have two favorite episodes: "The Priest and The Beast" (series 2, ep 2) where the boys go on a mystical journey to find "the New Sound"-- a comedic "Holy Mountain" meets a Carlos Santana concept album from 1973 (If that statement makes no sense, don't worry about it) and the series two closer (ep 6) "The Nightmare of Milky Joe," of which, my wife Tara remarked "There is 'Eraserhead' and then beyond 'Eraserhead' there is but 'Milky Joe.'" (Another friend said "These guys certainly carried that through to the end with the utmost conviction!" which is too true about this one, 'nuff said).

Gold computer chip ring

 Gimages Atari-2 Over at Boing Boing Gadgets, Rob has the details on this 8-bit bit of bling, specifically an 18k gold ring cast from a 1981 Atari chip.
"1981 Atari Ring"

Hand-carved linocut animation

Mark sez, "This printed linomation (hand carved animation using Linoleum prints), was done using 296 individual pieces of carved linoleum which are 10 cm square each. This is a project for The Art of Lost Words. It's all about words in the English language and artists' interpretations of words that are not used so much anymore, and there are some pretty strange ones. I chose the word dehisce from a list of .ost words. 'Dehisce' means 'release of material by splitting open of an organ or tissue; the natural bursting open at maturity of a fruit or other reproductive body to release seeds or spores or the bursting open of a surgically closed wound.' It's made to a loop so it can go on forever! For YouTube I decided to loop it three times to show the gist of the looping. My friend Adam Dedman created the sound for the linomation."

Dehisce Linomation Print - Hand Carved Animation (Thanks, Mark!)

"F**king Hell": Jake and Dino Chapmen's "Hell" rises from the ashes

Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger. Due to a fire in 2000 that destroyed key works of Charles Saatchi's art collection, Brit Art bad boys, Jake and Dinos Chapman's elaborate sculpture "Hell" was lost. Remade on a commission from Louis Vuitton owner Francois Pinault, "Hell" has risen from the ashes as "Fucking Hell" an even fiercer piece. "The idea of a world without 'Hell' was unacceptable to us," says Jake.
"Fucking Hell" -- Jake and Dinos Chapman website featuring an incredible short film documenting the piece. "Hell" is first great work of the 21st century Hitler gets Chapman treatment as "Hell" rises from the ashes If Hitler Had Been a Hippy How Happy Would We Be

Today's anniversary of the pencil eraser

On today's date, 1858, Hymen Lipman was granted a patent for attaching a piece of rubber to the end of a pencil. While it was certainly a stroke of genius, the courts didn't think it to be as groundbreaking as one might think. From Smithsonian:
Unfortunately for Lipman, the patent would later be revoked, when the U.S. Supreme Court rules in 1875 that a pencil with an eraser is just a pencil with an eraser and not a new invention.
Hymen L. Lipman makes his mark in pencil history

For more than you ever wanted to know about the history of the pencil, don't miss Henry Petroski's book The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstances.

Science of the "laughing cure"

This month's Scientific American Mind surveys the possible physiological and psychological benefits of LOLing. From SciAm Mind:
Norman Cousins, the storied journalist, author and editor, found no pain reliever better than clips of the Marx Brothers. For years, Cousins suffered from inflammatory arthritis, and he swore that 10 minutes of uproarious laughing at the hilarious team bought him two hours of pain-free sleep.

In his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (W. W. Norton, 1979), Cousins described his self-prescribed laughing cure, which seemed to ameliorate his inflammation as well as his pain. He eventually was able to return to work, landing a job as an adjunct professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he investigated the effects of emotions on biological states and health.

The community of patients inspired by such miracle treatments believes not only that humor is psychologically beneficial but that it actually cures disease. In reality, only a smattering of scientific evidence exists to support the latter idea–but laughter and humor do seem to have significant effects on the psyche, even influencing our perception of pain. What is more, psychological well-being has an impact on overall wellness, including our risk of disease.

Laughter relaxes us and improves our mood, and hearing jokes may ease anxiety. Amusement’s ability to counteract physical agony is well documented, and as Cousins’s experience suggests, humor’s analgesic effect lasts after the smile has faded.

Cheerfulness, a trait that makes people respond more readily to laugh lines, is linked to emotional resilience–the ability to keep a level head in difficult circumstances–and to close relationships, studies show. Science also indicates that a sense of humor is sexy; women are attracted to men who have one. Thus, in various ways, life satisfaction may increase with the ability to laugh.
"How Humor Makes You Friendlier, Sexier"


Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger.
snatchftby .jpg

Even the most hardcore rock snob has probably never heard of the female punk band, Snatch. If they have it's usually in connection with Brian Eno, who they recorded a song about the Red Army Faction with in 1978 ("RAF" is the b-side of "King's Lead Hat"). I discovered them when the elaborate picture sleeve of "All I Want" jumped out at me as I flipped through 45s at my friend Nate Cimmino's apartment in the East Village in the early 1980s. The cover, reproduced poorly here, was really something, gold-gilded text and faux silk portraits of hottie punkettes Patti Palladin on one side and Judy Nylon on the other. "They sound like The Shangri-las if they'd have been crack smokers, I think you'll really like them!" he said. He certainly knew my taste in music! I promptly spent the next few years searching in vain for their ultra rare records. Eventually I found them all. And now I've found them on the Internet and you can check them out for yourself. There is not a whole lot written about them that I can find. They were two ex-pat American girls living in London. Judy Nylon was probably Brian Eno's girlfriend (I assume that "Back in Judy's Jungle" is about her) at some point and Patti Palladin later recorded an incredible duets album with ex-New York Doll Johnny Thunders. It's one of my top favorite albums. Listen to their Elvis cover "Crawfish" (from "King Creole") on the MySpace page for the "Copy Cats" album, it's a song I always put on mixed CDs for friends. "Copy Cats" MySpace page "All I Want" download "IRT" and "Stanley" mp3s Second source for "All I Want" single

Robber arrested at cop convention

Jerome Marquis Blanchett robbed a man in a hotel bathroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Friday. Problem is, the man he robbed is a retired police chief. Not only that, but the retired police chief was at the hotel for a police officers' convention where 300 other cops were gathered. From the Associated Press:
When (Blanchett) fled, Comparetto and some colleagues chased him. They arrested (the) 19-year-old... of Harrisburg as he was trying to leave in a taxi.

When a reporter asked Blanchett for comment as he was led out of court, he said, "I'm smooth."
"'Dumbest criminal in Pennsylvania' arrested"

HOWTO sell your publisher on releasing your work under a Creative Commons license

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from writers is, "How do I convince my publisher to release my book under a Creative Commons license?" It's a hard question to answer well, and luckily from now on I don't have to, because this amazing post at Digital Foundations has done a totally kick-ass job at it:
4. Pitch it with facts

Use case studies to argue with facts. It also helps for them to see that other reputable publishers have licensed books Creative Commons. O’Reilly has some a study on an Asterisk book that we used very effectively.

The Asterisk book sold 19k copies over two years (about what comparable books from O’Reilly were selling), but was downloaded 180,000 times from *one* of the 5 sites that mirrored it.

Also consider google as arbiter:

Results from google search breakdown of references to the two books in the oreilly case study (at the time of negotiation, early 2008): asterisk: 139,000 references in 2 years (2005-2007), or 70,000 per year

understanding the linux kernel, 42,000 references in 7 years (2000-2007), 6,000 per year

So there was 10x the press/blog/reference/hits for the CC licensed book.

HOWTO Negotiate a Creative Commons License: Ten Steps (via O'Reilly Radar)

Cat Shit One, the animated trailer

Here's an animated trailer for the anime series "Cat Shit One." Production: Studio Anima, Director: Kazuya Sasahara. Original Manga (released in the USA as "Apocalypse Meow"): Motofumi Kobayashi. Our pal Danny Choo has a related post here, and describes it as "Metal Gear Solid meets fluffy animals."

Video Link (Thanks, Jeremy Bornstein!)

Rainbow Bread ('80s footage of radio ad singer doing multiple takes)

Unidentified '80s radio jingle singers are the new girls-playing-ukeleles on Boing Boing! Andrew Swant says,

Bobby Ciraldo and I made the "What What In the Butt" video and Leslie Hall's "Zombie Killer" video. A friend just came across this video and it made us laugh out loud. I figured I should send it to Boing Boing in case you have any slow news days coming up. Or maybe this wouldn't be funny to most people and we just have a weird sense of humor? It's pretty long, but luckily the best stuff is at the beginning.
Rainbow Bread (YouTube). You can see where they've identified the singer in the comments, the story's pretty neat.

Recently at Boing Boing Gadgets

• The wonderful Steve Wozniak autographed a hackintosh.
Lego's business cards aren't like anyone else's.
• There was a Super-Secret Spy Lens for DSLRs from Photojojo.
15 Vintage Household ads in which women are not entirely condescended to were uncovered.
• Recently reviewed were Sony's Vaio P (Verdict: spectacular but slow), Asus' Eee Top PC (Verdict: Suprisingly good), and the Moto Tundra cellphone (Verdict: Well-armored but very basic for the price.)
• Guess what the Big Ass Fans corporation manufactures?
• Joel wondered How best to turn fruit into shot glasses without a specialized tool? and wished this tiny trackball was available in North America.
• Hyungkoo Lee objectified the human form. It's art.
• Netflix needs even more new features.
• Concord's C1 Quantum Gravity watch looks the bomb.
• Purisme milked the rich with a $600-ish carbon fiber bangle.
• Ulysse Nardin's extravagant Chairman cellphone shows off its angles.
• The gaming computer you dreamed of in 1983 is finally available. And it runs NES carts, too!
• There were emanations.
• Microsoft's best anti-Apple ad yet got 'em hopping.
• The brakes on a new Jet-Ski let it stop and turn on a dime.
• The "Geek Aquad" will help you with your new camera, but not your English paper.
• The Legend of Zelda theme was played on Tesla coils.
• Peek Pronto adds push email and a 50% speed increase to the messaging handheld's feature list.

Scavenger's Manifesto: HOWTO be an urban scavenger

Salon's Katharine Mieszkowski went out foraging with the authors of The Scavengers' Manifesto, a book that explains how to live off the fat of the city: freegan, dumpster-diving wild-herb-harvesting life that lets you enjoy the good things without spending a penny. The econopocalypse means good finds for the pair, but it makes everything a little...grim.
Rufus is motivated in her scavenging less by any environmental ideal than by a deep abhorrence of waste: "I hate it when I see really good stuff in garbage cans. Just chucking stuff away? Junking it? That makes me really mad. It's going to go to a landfill, and some person, poor or not poor, could have had it." In their book, the couple outline a scavenger code of ethics, which includes the admonishments to "obey the law" and "don't eat gross things."

But Rufus and Lawson are acutely aware that scavenging is by definition a fringe activity feeding off the fat of the consumer culture it depends upon. After all, if everyone did it, there would be nothing but scraps left to fight over. But they're confident there's enough to go around for many more people who could be converted to their never-pay-retail mentality. Still, they recognize that the idea of wearing, eating or living with someone else's castoffs is not for everyone, which is OK, too. "We're not saying we're better than regular consumers. We're simply trying to remove the stigma from being scavengers. If you want to be wasteful, be wasteful, and I'll scavenge," says Lawson.

At the end of our afternoon of scavenging, we go just a few blocks past Lawson and Rufus' house to an oak-lined field in Tilden Park, a more than 2,000-acre oasis in the hills. The field is carpeted with so-called Miner's lettuce, a leafy native plant, which is the object of our urban foraging.

Taking in the trash

The Scavengers' Manifesto

Steampunk chronulator

Emmanuel, a French sculptor, was inspired by the Chronulator DIY clock-kits to make this handsome steampunk clocke out of a tea box and some spare parts:

My Chronulator was made of a tea box, some pieces of brass curtain rod ends ( not sure of the translation ) then a piece of amarante wood, patiently cutted and varnished.

For the meters, I made the design on Illustrator, then a friend of me made the engraving on a numeric milling machine. ( Thanks, Pierre ! )

As you imagine, it was a piece of art to disassemble, cut, paint, and reassemble the vu-meters in a new shape... Very thin and fragile pieces !

In front of it you can see two "code morse manipulators", made of brass drawer handles, which push on two stems, to go down to the pushers on the mainboard.

Steampunk Chronulator (Thanks, Emmanuel!)

South Korea prepares to nuke its technological competitiveness with a three-strikes copyright rule

Joe sez, "South Korea is arguably one of the world's most internet-connected countries. Regrettably, the corrupt dinosaurs in the Korean National Assembly have just passed a bill in-committee to use a "three strikes" law against ISP connections there. The law awaits approval by the legislature. New Zealand recently defeated similarly-worded ISP laws. A brief prediction from someone who lives in Korea. Korea is like a high-tech ocean miles-wide and one-inch deep. Once the implications are understood, look for this law to collapse under its own bureaucratic deadweight, or to otherwise morph into the usual scofflaw behavior. Consider the following:"
1. Currently, under Korea's copyright law, there are broad classroom exemptions for educational use of material, without compensation to rightsholders. (Chapter 2, Section 4, Subsection 2, Article 25 ) Look for universities and other public schools to become hotbeds of exemption challenges.

2. PC Bangs (internet cafes) might try to put each other out of business using the new laws. This could result in some cafes using advanced black-box anonymizing services to protect themselves and their customers (not necessarily a bad thing).

3. Korean "netizens" might otherwise protest the new system by seeding government BBS and official websites with infringing links and material, and then use the reporting process to overwhelm the system.

4. This proposed law will push internet services into greater black-market criminal activity. Pirated software can be found everywhere, including software commonly-used by government employees. 99% of Korean software is Windows-based. Korea uses active-X controls for practically everything, meaning the entire country is already prone to security problems.

5. Additionally, the use of the internet for organizing civil protest in Korea has been highly effective: the recent Mad-cow Disease protests (while factually incorrect) reached hysterical proportions, delaying implementation of the US-Korea Free-Trade Agreement. Korea still has national security laws against criticizing the government. Online K-blogger Minerva was arrested because he brought to light the Korean government's economic manipulations. With an unstable currency and an undercurrent of restlessness among its populace, the government has been greatly embarrassed. Look for this law to be the perfect tool for Korea to once-again shoot itself in the foot.

Three Strikes, Movie Copyright and The Mad Cow Coming Home to Roost (Thanks, Joe!)

Long as I got my plastic hulavader, wobblin' on the dashboard of my car

Flickr user Monkeyjen has uploaded a short video of a surprisingly entertaining and simple gag: stick a Darth Vader action-figure top on a dashboard hula-girl bottom, and voila, mesmerizing video gold!

Watch Darth Vader Hula (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Update: Here's a tutorial for making your own Hulavader!

Brain Rules: Oliver Sacks meets GETTING THINGS DONE, paperback ships, DVD goes free

Avi sez, "John Medina, author of Brain Rules, an excellent summary of 13 neuroscience hacks applicable in daily life, has put the cool companion DVD online for free as an introduction to the paperback release of the book."

Here's what I wrote about Brain Rules when the hardcover came out:

John Medina's Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School pulls off a terrific trick: combining popular science with touching personal memoir and a bunch of practical conclusions for improving work, education and personal life.

Brain Rules takes the brain's mysteries apart into twelve pieces: Exercise, survival, wiring, attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, sleep, stress, multisensory perception, vision, gender, and exploration. He discusses the best, most current science describing what drives each one, delving into psychology, neurology, evolutionary biology, and practical disciplines like behavioural economics, organizational science, and pedagogy.

Woven into the science are a series of vivid anaecdotes from Medina's life and from case histories gathered across the scientific literature, and emerging naturally from that are a series of eminently practical recommendations for reforming the workplace and the education system, and for improving the way that we interact with ourselves and others.

Medina's approach to the subject combines the best aspects of Oliver Sacks and Getting Things Done, making the book into something that's part manifesto and part education. The site features a ton of audio and video about the book's subject (Medina's descriptions of the value of multisensory learning are very compelling) and other supplementary material, and the book comes bundled with a DVD containing much of this material as well.

Brain Rules in paperback

Brain Rules DVD online

Amazing art made with old audio cassette tapes

Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger Wow, this sure is a fun new use for an old media relic.
Amazing art made with old audio cassette tapes Thanks Adam Wade!

Brother Theodore on David Letterman

Richard Metzger is the current Boing Boing guest blogger I'm not sure this story is an actual anecdote or just a meandering way of introducing an amazing YouTube clip, but here goes nuthin' : ehret1sthsth.jpg
As a lad growing up in Wheeling, WV in the 1970s, at approximately the age of twelve, I decided that I was NOT going to eat the food I was being served by my parents any more. In a home where greasy pan-fried hamburgers (or "Steakums") and Kraft macaroni and cheese were the normal dinner fare, I simply wanted to eat healthier. My parents were not very happy about this this demand --for that is what it was-- but what could they do? However, the severity of my new diet must have really taken them by surprise. I became, pretty much a Fruitatarian, almost a raw foodist, years before this was common. What influenced my twelve year-old mind to do something like this was an obscure book I found in the local library called "The Mucusless Diet Healing System" by Dr. Arnold Ehret. I won't go into the details of the diet, which extols the value of avoiding "mucus" and "pus" in your food --sounds like an admirable goal, right?-- but suffice to say that while Dr Ehret's work still has many followers --he's thought of as the founder of Naturopathy -- some diet experts consider him a total quack. But I am not here to debate the merits of his ideas, pro or con, merely to offer some brief context before I send you off to read this short essay, The Definitive Cure of Chronic Constipation. Okay? You got that? At the very least skim it. The language he uses is quite distinctive isn't it? The total disgust he expresses about the digestive system is almost Nietzschean in its peculiar character. The absolutist tone must've contributed greatly to my pre-teen interest in the diet. brothertheof098j0.jpg Now flash-forward to the late 1990s, New York City. I had become friends with the then 91 year old Theodore Gottlieb, better-known as the infamous dark comedian Brother Theodore, a big influence on Eric Bogosian, Lydia Lunch and Spaulding Gray, who had been performing his totally insane one-man show at the tiny 13th Street Theater for ages and was a frequent guest on David Letterman's show during the 1980s. No exaggeration to say that Theodore had been around forever. He was delivering lines like "The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope of dying young" long before I was born. What was a great gag when he was, say, 50 years old, and then to STILL be delivering a line like that at the age of 93, as he did on my UK television series, well that existential tension is what made his nonagenarian performances so incredibly spell-binding. The show was in the form of a stern lecture. It was impossible to tell if this was an act you were seeing or if he was utterly batshit crazy, a berserk "genius" impervious to the laughter as long as an audience bought tickets. The props were a chair, a table, a chalk board and a stryrofoam cup. There was a single spotlight. If you were anywhere near the stage in that little theater he could totally scare the shit out of you. Of course, whenever I brought friends, I took them right down the front! tedanddave2 scr6y.jpg It was an act, I can assure you. Theodore in real life was a mellow old bohemian guy who lived several lives in his 94 years. He'd been in Dachau and he'd also been on Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and most famously on Late Night with David Letterman. He was in "The Burbs" playing Tom Hank's great uncle and was the voice of Gollum in "The Hobbit" cartoon. He had a cameo in Orson Welles' "The Stranger." Theodore was an old Beatnik, that's the way I saw him. (He was even in a porno movie! An X-rated parody of "Jaws" called "Gums." Theo plays the boat captain, in a thankfully non-balling role. In "Gums" he is seen, rather inexplicably, wearing a Nazi uniform for most of the film). In his nineties he was dating a woman in her mid-forties. He rode a bike around New York City until he was late in his eighties. He really wasn't anything like his crazed monk act in real life, though. And let me tell you, when you are in your thirties and have a friend who is in their nineties... you learn things about life. Not all of them good, either. 94-years is a long time to live. Too long, if you ask me. I'm quite sure he felt that way, too. Theodore apparently had great difficulty memorizing lines, even his own material and so he only really ever did two major monologues --he'd switch off between them when he felt like it-- for over 40 years. One was called "Foodism" -we'll get to this one in a minute and the other was called "Quadrupidism" where he'd extol the virtues of human beings getting down on all fours. One day I was visiting Theodore at his apartment and I was looking at his sparse book shelf. On it sat "The Confessions of Aleister Crowley," Baudelaire's "Les Fleur du Mal," an Edgar Alan Poe anthology, The Portable Nietzsche, St Augustine, and... ta da... "The Mucusless Diet Healing System" by Dr Arnold Ehret. I remarked to him that I myself was a pre-teen adherent to Arnold Ehret's ideas about diet and he replied that it was the inspiration for his "Foodism" monologue. "I merely exaggerated his writings. Just slightly. That was all it took!" My jaw hit the ground. He'd managed to craft one of the most brilliant comic monologues of all time based on Ehret's zany diet-sprach. I was awestruck at how amazing this revelation really was. I mean... how creative!! You read that essay about constipation, right? Promise me? Now go watch this extended excerpt from "Foodism" performed on Letterman in the mid-80s. A Secret Noodle Ring in Minnesota New York Times obituary for Theodore Gottlieb Brother Theodore is Dead by Nick Mamatas Brother Theodore by Jon Kalish (the "TV producer" referred to here is probably me) A radio tribute to Brother Theodore on WNYC's "The No Show" Tears from a Glass Eye... with a Tongue of Madness! (Brother Theodore record) O Brother, Where Art Thou? (on the Theodore documentary) To My Great Chagrin (Brother Theodore documentary) Note that there are several torrents of Brother Theodore performances out there on the Interwebs.

Verified by Visa: British banks phish their own customers

Security expert Ben Laurie has a scorching indictment of the "Verified by Visa" program used by British banks. This system is basically the perfect system for phishers and identity thieves, and conditions honest people to behave in foolish ways that leave them vulnerable to having their life's saving taken off of them.
"Frame inline displays the VbV authentication page in the merchant’s main window with the merchant’s header. Therefore, VbV is seen as a natural part of the purchase process. It is recommended that the top frame include the merchant’s standard branding in a short and concise manner and keep the cardholder within the same look and feel of the checkout process."

Or, in other words: Please ensure that there is absolutely no way for your customer to know whether we are showing the form or you are. In fact, please train your customer to give their “Verified by Visa” password to anyone who asks for it.

Craziness. But it gets better - obviously not everyone is pre-enrolled in this stupid scheme, so they also allow for enrolment using the same inline scheme. Now the phishers have the opportunity to also get information that will allow them to identify themselves to the bank as you. Yes, Visa have provided a very nicely tailored and packaged identity theft scheme. But, best of all, rather like Chip and PIN, they push all blame for their failures on to the customer

More Banking Stupidity: Phished by Visa