Happy New Decade!

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Farewell, aughts! Illustration above by David Silverman (Thanks, David!).

Fun with fluorescence


Above: Fluorescent minerals via Wikimedia Commons

If you enjoyed the astonishing fluorescent landscapes in Avatar (or plan to soon), I compiled a few lovely videos of fluorescent phenomena from right here on Earth.

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TSA drops subpoenas issued to bloggers who published security directive (UPDATED)


According to Chris Elliot, one of the bloggers involved. Link. No word on whether the TSA has also dropped the subpoena issued to the other blogger, Steven Frischling. Both subpoenas have now been dropped, Frischling's too.

Update, Jan 1: Wired has a story here, Associated Press here. One theory: yes, TSA has dropped the subpoenas against the two bloggers, but only because it already got the information it needed from copying data off Frischling's hard drive (more paranoid folk have also suggested that when the hard drive was in the agents' possession, they may additionally have installed keylogger software or similar surveillance apps). The Gmail account information of the leak source, who is reported to be a person employed by the TSA, plus a possible subpoena issued to Google (which has a good track record of protecting user privacy in these cases, but who knows)? That might have been all the feds needed. So this may well be good news for the bloggers, but not for their source.

One Boing Boing reader in the comments says,

Speaking as an attorney, I would advise you not to let this go. Make an ethics complaint against the government attorney that signed the subpoena in DC or the jurisdiction they are licensed to practice law in. You don't subpoena someone, then just "let it drop."

Did Google get TSA subpoena over the blogged security directive?

Danny Sullivan, with another update on the two bloggers visited and subpoenaed by armed Transportation Security Administration agents, after publishing a security directive emailed to them from a Gmail account. "So did Google get a subpoena, too? The company says it can't comment either way, sending me this statement..."

Come Back With a Warrant doormat


...apropos of bloggers being bullied into parting with their hard drives: check out this nifty doormat, available at Target for 18 bucks and some change.

Dr. Sketchy's 24-hour life drawing session in Los Angeles, January 2-3,


Bob Self says:

Dr. Sketchy's Los Angeles is alternative figure drawing cabaret for artists who like their naked inspiration to be served up with some theatrical showmanship. To get 2010 off to an epic start, the Los Angeles troupe is producing a Dr. Sketchy's Marathon that will run continuously for 26 hours beginning at 8:00 PM on Saturday, January 2nd and ending at 10:00 PM on Sunday, January 3rd. Over a dozen models will be posing in and out of costume over the course of the event, and a roster of noteworthy contemporary artists will be in attendance (including Michael Hussar, who will be creating an alla prima portrait late Saturday night). As usual for Dr. Sketchy's, there will be prizes and surprises. The event will be hosted at Nucleus in Alhambra. Admission is $26 in advance via Dr Sketchy's LA, or $35 at the door. Attendees will be issued wrist bands that will allow them to come and go as they please.

Update on bloggers threatened by TSA over security directive leak


Update, 3:50pm PT: One of the two bloggers reports that the TSA has dropped its subpoena against him.

An update on the case of the two travel bloggers who received holiday visits by armed TSA agents (with matching Homeland Security subpoenas!) after publishing a leaked copy of the "Christmas Day incident" security directive.

Chris Elliot has an attorney now, and more time to respond to the subpoena.

Steven Frischling got his laptop back from the Special Agents who demanded it, then imaged his hard drive, but the laptop no longer works (paranoid commenters suggest one explanation could be the installation of keylogger software, but that's just one of many possibilities.)

Annie Jacobsen of TheAviationNation.com has posted an interview with Frischling here. Why, Jacobsen asks in that piece, is Homeland Security going after these guys so hard?

[I found] my answer in a pre-recorded message at the FBI's Detroit Metro Bureau to which press are referred. The message there states that anyone seeking information about "the Christmas Day event at Detroit metro airport" should call the Department of Justice in Washington.

Wait. A Christmas Day "event"? The FBI makes the attack against Northwest Flight 253 sound more like a shopping sale or a rock concert than the terror strike that it was. Trying to kill 298 airline passengers, destroy an airplane, and crash it into the suburbs of Detroit is now called an "event"? Could the jackbooted TSA visit to blogger Steven Frischling's Connecticut home be just another trickle-down result of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano's insistence that terrorist attacks be referred to as "man-caused disasters"?

You see, in the TSA directive which Frischling's posted online, the TSA was caught calling a spade a spade: "INFORMATION: On December 25, 2009, a terrorist attack was attempted against a flight traveling to the United States."

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Federal judge dismisses charges against Blackwater guards blamed in 2007 civilian shooting deaths

A federal judge today dropped all charges against five security guards with Blackwater Worldwide (now "Xe") security guards said to have been responsible for killing unarmed Baghdad civilians in a 2007 shooting incident.

Nightmare Alley, the musical

  V-3Gbtengj8 Svsv6X5Wrbi Aaaaaaaagak Ofmnhiob5Ta S1600 Nightmare+Alley A musical theater adaptation of one of my favorite fiction books, William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 noir carny novel Nightmare Alley, will premiere in April at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. As my brother Bob wrote when he emailed me this news, "I can't wait to hear the geek sing."

Chocolate guns and ammo

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I learned of Chocolate Ammo today through an ad in a relative's copy of the NRA magazine American Rifleman. Talk about target marketing. (sorry!) From the Chocolate Weapons site:
...Several years ago we started a company called [sic] which manufactured and sold high end chocolate fountains to caterers, hotels, casinos, reception centers and other high end event centers. In addition to selling the chocolate fountains we also sold chocolate...and literally TONS and TONS of it. With our connection in the chocolate industry we had virtually a limitless supply of chocolate, and just as many chocolatiers and chocolate factories who could basically make anything and everything we ever wanted to.  

While I was growing up we spent a lot of time in the mountains fishing, camping, and hunting. On a recent getaway vaction/hunting trip, we were all piled in the car..dirty, grimy - hadn't bathed in days - and we were discussing our existing business, and ways we could help it grow. Someone blurted out  

'We should make chocolate bullets!'

Chocolate Weapons

Miles Davis plays Michael Jackson

Miles Davis covers Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." Yes, really.

Im bou 2 get his sim card

Bou2Gettttt I found this curious note on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. What do you think it means? And why is the phrase written twice? Was the author practicing? Click the image to see it larger.

Island caretaker with dream job stung by jellyfish

In January, I posted about the "best job in the world," six months working for Tourism Queensland as "caretaker" and resident blogger on an island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef with a $100k+ salary. Ben Southall, who landed the job, was finishing his last week there when he was stung by a potential lethal Irukandji jellyfish. He'll be ok. From the AP:
 Wp-Content Uploads 2009 12 R481222 2451436 Earlier this week, Southall was getting off a Jet Ski in the ocean when he felt "a small bee-like sting" on his arm. When he later noticed a tingling in his hands and feet, island staff took Southall immediately to the doctor.

Progressive symptoms of fever, headache, lower back pain, chest tightness and high blood pressure led the doctor to diagnose that Southall had been stung by an Irukandji jellyfish. He was given pain medication and slept off the venom's effects overnight.

"I thought I'd done particularly well at avoiding any contact with any of the dangerous critters that consider this part of the world their home," Southall wrote. "This was not what I'd wanted at all and had caught me little off guard to say the least -- I'm supposed to be relaxing in my last few days on Hamilton Island."

"'Best Job' winner stung by dangerous jellyfish" (AP, thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

"Ouch! A little incident on the beach..." (Southall's blog)

Jane Austen: Proto-Twitterer

During the late 1700s and early 1800s, the mail was delivered in and around London up to six times a day. Snail mail was almost Twitteresque, argues O'Reilly Radar's Sarah Milstein. "People today often assume that email, Twitter and other relatively instant communication media have created a slew of brand new communication behaviors. The Jane Austen show at the Morgan suggests just the opposite: our human patterns are surprisingly consistent, and technology evolves to meet us." (Via Tim Maly)

Periodic Table of Beer

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This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I knew more about beer. My usual unit of measurement is the purely subjective, but relatively simple, MPS, or Maggie Preference Scale. (IPAs near the bottom, porters near the top, your mileage may vary.)

Full Chart via Flickr user John602, don't know if that's the original source though.