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Happy New Year, Mutants

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Photo contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by BB reader Chris Nixon.

Spokeo may know more about you than you realize

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Spokeo is a new site that claims to not be your "grandma's phonebook." This is because it pulls a ton of info about you from all over the web into one place. And I mean a ton. More than you might be comfortable with, in fact.

But luckily, it appears you can "remove your Spokeo listing from public searches for free" by following these simple instructions.

Also!: If you visit spokeo.com for any reason, you may want to delete any browser cookies from "spokeo" afterwards. It seems they install a grip of them. (Thanks for the heads-up, Chris Hardwick)

Audiophiles

Audiophiles [xkcd via Laughing Squid]

Best movie scene of the year

Salon.com picks its top movie scenes of the year. Let Me In, the English remake of Let The Right One In, wins top spot. Its chosen scene, a botched murder attempt by the young vampire's protector, combines the Swedish original's muted efficiency with slick Hollywood tension-building tricks.
Shot for shot, beat for beat, it's the scene of the year, laying a foundation of succinct but meaningful shots and then building a madhouse on top of it. The pièce de résistance -- you'll know it when you see it -- is one of the great recent examples of show-off filmmaking in service of story. The universe has been turned upside-down.
It's a shame the new version of this movie -- hailed as a rare example of a remake as good as its inspiration -- didn't do so well in the box office. Let Me In [Salon]

Partnership for a Drug Free America Straight Edge TV Spots

Here are two long-lost Partnership for a Drug Free America produced video spots about Straight Edge. I'm not sure when these were made, but judging by the band logos in some of the shots, I'm going to guess mid to late 90's. This is noteworthy because until 1997, most of PDFA's funding came from Alcohol and Tobacco companies. After '97, they distanced themselves from those companies, but continue to receive much funding from pharmaceutical companies.

While anything spreading the word about Straight Edge is good, this is amusing because the legal and socially acceptable drugs SxE is most associated with being outspoken against (alcohol and tobacco) are the same drugs PFDA spent so many years ignoring while trying to make the public think of "drugs" as only the illegal stuff. Of course, once the major cash from those companies got cut off, so did the PFDAs public profile. When was the last time you saw one of those "this is your brain on drugs" ads?

[ Video Link #1 | Video Link #2 ]

UPDATE: My friend Guav was apparently involved with this and I didn't even notice. Some friend I am. Anyway, he writes...

Read the rest

George W. Bush New Year's fireworks on sale at Texas pyro store

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"I'm not sure what it does, but they said they sell a lot of them," explains our internet friend Monkey, who sends along this image.

The label reads, "AMBUSHED: The 436 Billion Dollar Deficit Man."

Gentleman wielding tree trunk robs store, beats hammer-wielding clerk

[Video Link]. Hope they catch him.
(thanks, Joe Sabia)

CNN: 2010 tech year in review with Xeni

[Video Link] I joined CNN International's Anjali Rao for a look back at technology trends and news stories in 2010.

Stay home, send robot

Will 2011 be the year of the robot avatar? I have my doubts. But it's definitely a nifty niche product—a way to have more-natural business meetings without flying everybody to one, central location, and without having to confine the meeting to a specialized teleconference room. Inevitable downside: When your boss starts expecting your avatar to show up, even when you're sick or on vacation.

Medical illustration from 19th century India

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Marvel at what appears to be an antique anatomical plate from India. Very nifty.

Via Morbid Anatomy

Star Trek: Positronic Heart of Darkness

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Metafilter's James Duncan summarizes the incredible story treatments that were blanded out to become Star Trek: Insurrection. Though decent enough, it felt like a high-budget, feature-length episode of the television show, and an even less memorable follow-up very nearly killed Star Trek: Movie Franchise for good. Instead, here's what it could have been.

How Mirka Got Her Sword: Charming graphic novel for kids and adults

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It is baby season in my life. In three years, I've acquired a nephew, a niece, an awesome little girl I consider a niece, and a plethora of pregnant or newly-parenting friends. Coincidentally, I've also started paying attention to kids' books again, and I've noticed something about them that hadn't really occurred to me before—children's books seldom do a good job of taking readers outside their own culture. Sure, there are plenty of stories set in worlds of imagination. And plenty of earnest, training wheel non-fiction that explicitly tells kids about life in other parts of the world. But it's both rare to see (and difficult to do) a fiction story, set outside of mainstream, middle-class culture. Even more rare is a story that pulls off that feat as smoothly and magically as Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, a graphic novel about childhood adventure set in an Orthodox Jewish community somewhere in the United States.

Written and drawn by cartoonist and political blogger Barry Deutsch, How Mirka Got Her Sword is not, strictly speaking, a children's book. Grown-ups will enjoy it, whether or not they're reading it to kids. It is, however, exactly the kind of story I would have loved as a child: All about a clever and brave little girl, who bests a troll in a battle of wits and wins her dream MacGuffin—a sword that will help her fight dragons.

What's more, Mirka is the type of character that six-year-old me would have called "for real." Too often, the heroines of children's books are too Good for their own good. It drove me crazy as a hyperactive, messy, rule-breaking little girl to be presented with story after story in which the girl was the one who was always tidy, who worried about whether the heroes were doing something wrong, or who simply seemed to have no flaws at all. Mirka isn't like that. On the way to greatness, she is dangerously impulsive, lies to her parents, is cruel to the younger brother she loves, and generally makes the kind of mistakes that real kids make. And she learns from those mistakes in a "for real", non-saccharine way.

As an adult, though, I really appreciate that this character exists not in a suburb, gentrified urban enclave, or idealized small town—but in Hereville, a place completely outside my personal experience. Mirka and her family don't dress like most Americans. It's made clear that she speaks Yiddish, not English. And there's a whole section where Mirka sets aside her quest for the experience of the Sabbath. And, rather than feeling like a lesson in multiculturalism, all of this comes across as a simple slice of life. Deutsch drops us into Mirka's world. He explains that world when necessary. But there's no coddling of the reader, and no gape-mouthed pointing or exotification of Mirka.

And no stereotyping, either. In other hands, this could have turned into a story about a strong young woman struggling to fit in in a world that doesn't allow strong women. Instead, it's about a strong young woman who happens to be religious and wear religiously dictated "modest" dress, but whose story and central struggle aren't strictly defined by those things. This is the kind of story that I think of as truly feminist. It passes the Bechdel Test with aplomb. It presents little girls with options beyond "love interest", "the token", or "the responsible sidekick". It shows people as people, not as "MEN" and "WOMEN". But it's not about Feminism. And it takes place in a world that I suspect most people would consider actively anti-feminist. That's part of it's charm. The "for real" world isn't black and white. Deutsch allows Mirka to be a real person. And he allows her community to be every bit as real and layered—both flawed and loved. I sincerely hope that the colon in the title means that we'll be seeing more of both Mirka and Hereville in the future.

Read a 15-page preview of Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Read the full webcomic that the book is based on.

Nonsmoker attacked after failure to provide cigarette

A woman in England has earned a month behind bars after 'drawing attention to her victim's ginger hair' while attacking him in public, on camera. The victim, according to the court, earlier failed to give her a cigarette. [This is Gloucestershire]

BBC documentary foiled by polar bears

It sounds like a great idea at first—"We'll make robot cameras and disguise them as icebergs and piles of snow, so we can film polar bears in the wild without their noticing!"

But, unfortunately for the robot cameras, polar bears are not so easily fooled ...

Via BotJunkie and Christopher Mims

William Shatner performs "It Was A Very Good Year"


William Shatner performs "It Was A Very Good Year" on The Mike Douglas Show, 1969.