Why the Space Shuttle should always lift off at night

...so we earthlings can gaze at photographs like this. "Billows of smoke and steam rise above Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida alongside space shuttle Discovery as it races toward space on the STS-128 mission."

Previously:Space Shuttle Discovery STS-128 launch (Update: it was a real ... HOWTO launch-prep the Space Shuttle Boing Boing: Shuttle makes spooky-cool Prandtl-Glauert ... New questions for NASA about Shuttle safety Spider attacks shuttle Read the rest

Tweet (#3670368446)

RT @ericwareheim: new video from The Bird and the Bee "Diamond Dave" Link Read the rest

The Los Angeles fires

Video: Time Lapse Test: Station Fire, a haunting little piece put together by Eric Speigelman.

The "Station Fire" has now spread to nearly 100,000 acres. Fires are a predictable, seasonal, and natural aspect of ecology and life in Southern California. The Onion nailed it here.

I know we say this every year, but the ones blazing out there as I type are particularly large and powerful. All weekend, it really did look (and smell) like a giant atomic bomb had gone off. The air throughout LA county was unsafe to breathe. Two firefighters died yesterday, while battling the blazes. I live and work in LA, nowhere near the flames and not at risk. All best wishes go out to BB friends who are in the danger zone. Be safe.

Below: Anthony Citrano's photo coverage of the Station Fire. There are several fires active right now, but this is the big one threatening Pasadena/Altadena/etc., including the NASA JPL facility. JPL's statement about the fire emergency is here, looks like they're pretty safe now. Citrano's Flickr set is here, with a number of truly stunning and scary shots (CC).

After the jump: WHOAH, BB reader Danimation shot another *incredible* time-lapse of the giant smoke clouds, you really have to see this one. Click ahead to view. Feel free to post other resources of interest in the comments.

Read the rest

Police Women of Broward County takes reality cop TV to new depths

Radley Balko's crime column for Reason Online this week "criticizes the thinly-veiled S&M fantasy/cop reality show, The Police Women of Broward County."
The most obvious criticism of these shows is their exploitation and general tackiness. Police work is reduced to clownish pranks, adrenalin-inducing raids, and telegenic lady cops edited to invoke S&M fantasies for the shlubs watching at home. No one expects much dignity from cable networks, but you'd think, for example, that the Broward County Sheriff's Department might object to the sexualization of its female officers, or to a national ad campaign insinuating that they're sporting itchy Taser fingers.

As for the SWAT programs, America has unfortunately grown comfortable with, or at least accustomed to, the idea of using SWAT teams to kick down doors and conduct volatile, confrontational raids for consensual, nonviolent crimes. We've seen a massive increase in these raids, from about 3,000 per year in the early 1980s to some 50,000 per year by the early 2000s. The popularity of SWAT shows didn't cause the problem, but their popularity is sympomatic of it, and they can only further ingrain the troubling notion that there's nothing wrong with sending a unit of cops dressed like soldiers into private homes to arrest nonviolent drug offenders. And of course, we're never going to see the wrong-door raids, or police mistakes that result in fatalities.

Don't Tase Me, Sis: Police Women of Broward County takes reality cop TV to new depths. Read the rest

Wikileaks re-publishes 60 Minutes piece on est/Landmark cult leader Werner Erhard

Update: On September 24, 2009, Boing Boing received a letter from an attorney representing Werner Erhard, which is now appended to this blog post.

Wikileaks has published the video and transcript of an investigative report into "est" (Erhard Seminars Training) guru and Landmark Education Forum godfather Werner Erhard by CBS News, originally broadcast on the program 60 Minutes on March 3, 1991. Excerpt from Wikileaks article:

Both, video and transcript, have been published at various points in time, but are not publically available anymore due to legal threats against publishers from Werner Erhard.

The material contains interviews with friends, business associates and family of Werner Erhard making serious claims against him. Erhard is accused by family members of beating his wife and children, and raping a daughter, while still giving seminars on how to have relationships that work. The story also includes interviews with two former staff members of Werner Erhard: Wendy Drucker (a senior manager) and Dr. Bob Larzelere (head of Erhard's counseling staff).

The current incarnation of the est training is now known as Landmark Education, with its course the Landmark Forum. Landmark Education is run by CEO Harry Rosenberg, who is Werner Erhard's brother, and General Counsel and Chairman of the Board of Directors Art Schreiber, who has acted as Werner Erhard's lawyer. Werner Erhard's sister Joan Rosenberg also sits on the Board of Directors of Landmark Education.

"Suppressed CBS News 60 Minutes on Landmark cult leader Werner Erhard, 3 Mar 1991," (Wikileaks, thanks Enric)

Related: A number of companies are reported to have corporate ties to est/Landmark, for instance: Bay Area vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude (See: East Bay Express, and SFGate). Read the rest

If You Think You're Groovy: The amazing soul rock sound of P.P. Arnold

"Arnold appears alongside the Small Faces for an absolutely ass-kicking version of Tin Soldier on Flemish television from 1968"

On Dangerous Minds, Richard Metzger posted links to a bunch of video and audio tracks of a fantastic singer I've never heard of before, P.P. Arnold.

P.P. Arnold was one of the Ikettes, the backing singers for the Ike and Tina Turner Revue in the 60s, but after a visit to London, Mick Jagger, impressed by her powerful voice and stunning beauty–who wouldn’t be???–connected her with Andrew Loog Oldham, who signed her to his Immediate Records label, alongside acts like the Small Faces, Chris Farlowe (recognize that one?) and pre-Velvet Underground Nico (who was then recording songs Dylan had written for her with session musicians like Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones).
The Amazing Soul Rock Sound of P.P. Arnold

Previously:Music video roundup from the 1960s - Boing Boing Read the rest

US military cancels contract with firm that graded journalists' "positiveness"

Stars and Stripes reports that the U.S. military is terminating a $1.5 million contract with The Rendon Group, a private firm that produced background profiles of reporters who requested military embed access in Afghanistan.

The firm graded journalists' past work as "positive," "negative" or "neutral." Military officials were presumed to be granting access to those whose profiles indicated they'd yield a future "positive" spin on reports from the battleground. Snip:

The Bagram Regional Contracting Center intends to execute a termination of the Media Analyst contract," belonging to The Rendon Group, said Col. Wayne Shanks, chief of public affairs for International Security Assistance Forces-Afghanistan.

The announcement follows a week of revelations by Stars and Stripes in which military public affairs officers who served in Afghanistan said that as recently as 2008 they had used reporter profiles compiled by The Rendon Group, a private public relations firm in Washington, D.C., to decide whether to grant permission to embed with troops on the battlefield.

Military terminates Rendon contract (Stars and Stripes, via Poynter/Romenesko)

Also: Read what the Rendon Group has to say about the matter: TRG Comment on Recent Reporting About Our Work in Afghanistan. Read the rest

Disney buying Marvel

Woah: Disney's buying Marvel:
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney on August 28, 2009, Marvel shareholders would receive a total of $30 per share in cash plus approximately 0.745 Disney shares for each Marvel share they own. At closing, the amount of cash and stock will be adjusted if necessary so that the total value of the Disney stock issued as merger consideration based on its trading value at that time is not less than 40% of the total merger consideration...

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Marvel including its more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Mr. Perlmutter will oversee the Marvel properties, and will work directly with Disney's global lines of business to build and further integrate Marvel's properties.

Disney to Acquire Marvel Entertainment (via /.) Read the rest

London bus with 16 CCTV cameras inside

It's Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK, so this morning we took the kid to the zoo in Regent's Park on the 205 bus. The bus we got was quite a new one, and right by the driver was a screen showing the feed from the sixteen CCTV cameras on this one bus. How much of that footage to they actually archive? For how long? And how much of it do they lose track of?

SIXTEEN cameras on the new London bus, 205, Islington, London, UK.JPG Previously:ONE NATION UNDER CCTV graffito in London - Boing Boing CCTV density-maps of the UK - Boing Boing CCTV-head on the South Bank - Boing Boing Record London snowstorm defeats the surveillance state - Boing Boing CCTV versus Admiral Nelson in Trafalgar Square - Boing Boing 1000 surveillance cameras = 1 solved crime in the UK - Boing Boing London's panopticon of CCTVs aren't solving crimes - Boing Boing London supermarket secretly photographs alcohol/cigarette buyers ... Read the rest

Videos from an animal's perspective

The Museum of Animal Perspectives sticks cameras on the heads of animals and uploads the resulting videos to Flickr. I'm fond of the armadillocam, but wolfcam and cowcam are pretty cool too. Ooh! Pigcam! Goatcam! Cow licking own rearcam!

Museum of Animal Perspectives (via JWZ) Read the rest

Crazy organic bread-slicer sign for crazy organic bread eaters

Environmental scientist Jennifer Jacquet poses they question, "Are You an Eco-Douchebag? The test is simple: read this sign ["Dear customers: Please be advised that our Bread Slicer is used for both Organic and Conventional items"] (recently photographed at my local Vancouver market, which is owned by Whole Foods) then gauge your response..."

Now, I'm inclined to believe that pesticide-free food production has health benefits and is good for the planet, but likewise: it is the major crazy to believe that pesticides leap from the bread-slicer wires into your wholesome organic loaf.

Are You an Eco-Douchebag? Read the rest

Jenna Bush, NBC White House correspondent -- the American Meritocracy

Glenn Greenwald uses the fact that Jenna Bush has been hired as a White House (Correction: she won't be covering the White House) correspondent for NBC's "Today" show as springboard for a scorching rant on America's ruling elite and the myth of American "meritocracy."
They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from...

Just to underscore a very important, related point: all of the above-listed people are examples of America's Great Meritocracy, having achieved what they have solely on the basis of their talent, skill and hard work -- The American Way. By contrast, Sonia Sotomayor -- who grew up in a Puerto Rican family in Bronx housing projects; whose father had a third-grade education, did not speak English and died when she was 9; whose mother worked as a telephone operator and a nurse; and who then became valedictorian of her high school, summa cum laude at Princeton, a graduate of Yale Law School, and ultimately a Supreme Court Justice -- is someone who had a whole litany of unfair advantages handed to her and is the poster child for un-American, merit-less advancement.

Read the rest

How Science Reporting Works

Today on the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a pithy and startlingly accurate summary of the state of science reporting (be sure to click through for the whole thing).

How Science Reporting Works (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Random ham radio trollfight audio (explicit)

AUDIO EMBED ABOVE: Two trolls on ham radio, one identified as "G-K," the other as "Robert" or "R-J" overheard accidentally on August 29, 2009, while surfing first responder frequencies during the August 2009 Los Angeles wildfires. The two men argued with each other about various technical subjects of interest to radio ops, then discussed drugs and past jail time, then notes on an Andy Griffith show marathon, then torture they'd like to perform on each other in great detail because they hate each other so much. Stay with it.

Technical note: sorry about the audible LOLs -- a friend held the scanner in their lap, and I held my iPhone 3Gs above the scanner, using "voice memo" app to record the audio. None of us could contain ourselves.

Archive.org: Random Ham Radio Trollfight: August 29, 2009, Los Angeles CA (thanks, Chief Fulfiller of Needs + fam!) Read the rest

Tiny pinfire guns

These tiny Austrian 2mm pinfire guns look to be exquisitely engineered. From the video description:
Originally made by Austrian watchmakers as decorative pocket watch chain fobs or as cufflinks, these miniature pinfire pistols are now prized collector's items. These are some from my own collection dating from 1904 to the 1970's. All of them fire 2mm blank pinfire cartridges. The revolvers are the world's smallest working double action blank firing pistols. They measure just 38mm in length and are smaller than the famous Swiss Mini Gun which measures 55mm.
(via MAKE) Previously:Pistol ring and other unusual guns - Boing Boing Pepper spray ring and mobile phone stun gun - Boing Boing Pocket watch gun - Boing Boing Read the rest

Lightning fast robot hand

Researchers from the Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo presented this incredible video of a high-speed robotic hand at the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. The laboratory's Web site has many more videos related to this project, called Sensor Fusion. Sensor Fusion: High Speed Robots Read the rest

Tweet (#3633889817)

Anyone who can deliver an *11 minute* monologue on "fevah," donuts, divas + bitches is a true performer. Link Read the rest

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