Boing Boing 

Worst fries in America

Men's Health magazine has done a roundup of the worst -- that is, highest-calorie, highest-fat, highest-salt -- French fries in America. The champion is Chili's "Texas Cheese Fries with Jalapeno Ranch," clocking in at 1,920 calories, 147g of fat (of which 63g is saturated fat), and 3,580mg of sodium. The whole list is worth a read -- as hall of shames go, it's some pretty oily stuff. Our distant descendants will gaze in wonder on this as the 21st-century equivalent of Roman feasts that featured jellied slaves' fat topped with hammered gold and ocelot bile.
The only thing that comes close to redeeming this cheesy mound of lard and grease is the fact that it's ostensibly meant to be shared with a few friends. Even so, you'll collectively be taking in an entire day's worth of calories, three days' allotment of saturated fat, and a day and a half's allotment of sodium. What's even scarier, if you can imagine, is that even if you try to order more sensibly and ask for the "half" order of Texas Cheese Fries, you'll still receive a disastrous dish that packs in 1,400 calories. There's one French fries side dish at Chili's that's acceptable, although even in its much-reduced form, you'd be better off splitting it.
America's Worst French Fries (and What You Should Eat Instead!) (via Consumerist)

The Long Goodbye

long-goodbye.jpg Thanks to Mark, David, Xeni, and Cory for the opportunity to place my posts on the world's best blog for the past two weeks. Having an online presence on such a lively and well-read space has been a thrill.

As Marlowe says, nothing says goodbye like a bullet, but it's been great to write for a while about things besides stuff that goes boom, whoosh, or splat. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. If you're interested in that sort of thing, come by my site www.AbsintheAndFlamethrowers.com or check out a copy of my book Absinthe and Flamethrowers.)

I've placed links to a few of my favorite posts below for those who may have missed them the first time.

I haven't been keeping up on Facebook or Twitter, but check out my youtube videos if you get a chance. Cheers!

Tim and Eric's new season premieres tonight

OMG I can't wait. The new season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job premieres tonight on Adult Swim (Sundays at 1230AM).

North Korea's woman traffic-cops and the robotic mime they do

Super Punch has rounded up a bunch of the best YouTube videos of Kim Jong Il's "traffic girls," who are dressed in snappy uniforms, which they wear as they perform an elaborate, robotic mime-show that directs North Korean traffic. They only turn counter-clockwise. Of course.

Super Punch: North Korean Traffic Girls:Traffic

Kids' gimbal-mounted cereal bowl

Loopla's "Gyro-bowl" is a kids' eating-bowl mounted on a gimbals so that it can swing freely as your kid picks it up and moves it around. It looks like it would be a lot of fun -- and easier for kids to carry without spilling.

Loopla (via Make)

Punk math philosophy and podcast

I've just signed up for Tom Henderson's Math for Primates podcast on the strength of this interview he conducted with Technoccult about his theory of punk mathematics. My dad's a mathematician and I love math, but stopped taking it after first year university calculus and stats and feel like I'm losing it by the year. I like Henderson's approach to the subject! Bonus: Tom helped Jane McGonigal and pals make the awesome Superstruct game.
So, the concept I pitched to Nick was, "Let's talk about math from the platform of 'Math that humans are likely to want to know, because it's about other humans.'" Social conflict. Sex. Beauty.

It gives us an excuse to talk extensively about game theory. And, game theory is a key place to teach humans mathematics, because we seem to have some optimized "cheat detection" in our brains.

Let me give you an example, it's something like, uh...

There are four face-down cards on a table. There is a rule: "If the number showing is even, then the back of the card MUST have a vowel." Now, given an E, 3, 8, D, what is the smallest number of cards you need to flip over to verify that the rule is being followed? Maybe I fucked up the puzzle. But, anyway, the answer as I've phrased it is NOT E and 3.

You need to make sure that 8 has a vowel on the back, and you need to make sure that D does NOT have an even number on the back.

Everyone gets this wrong, basically. Well, non-mathematicians always do, and I'm pretty sure I got it wrong because I get every answer wrong on the first try. Punk as fuck. Now, if you ask the same people a logically equivalent question: "You see four people. Two are drinking beer and two are drinking coke. Whose IDs do you have to check?" No one says you have to check the ID of the coke drinker. Because who cares how old they are? If it's the same puzzle, but phrased as a problem of possible social cheating, we nail it.

The Philosophy of Punk Rock Mathematics - Technoccult interviews Tom Henderson (via Beyond the Beyond)

Just look at this awesome slow-moving performance artist whose face has been covered with exploding bananas.

Just look at it.

William Lamson's Bananas Exploding on Face (via JWZ)

UK Digital Economy Bill will wipe out indie WiFi hotspots in libraries, unis, cafes

GlennF sez, "The Digital Economy Bill in the UK that Cory has written about has a new, horrible portion that could cause many (most?) public hotspots to shut down unless run by companies large enough to handle the recordkeeping requirements. This ZDNet UK article cites legal experts who say that the penalties associated with failure to comply will make small businesses turn off hotspots. Universities and libraries may face huge liability as well."
Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in an explanatory document would effectively "outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses", and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position.

"This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in," Edwards said.

"Even if they password protect, they then have two options -- to pay someone like The Cloud to manage it for them, or take responsibility themselves for becoming an ISP effectively, and keep records for everyone they assign connections to, which is an impossible burden for a small café."

The Digital Economy Bill is being sold to us on the grounds that copyright infringement harms the British economy because of the importance of our entertainment industry. But while the measures in the DEB won't stop copyright infringement (copying isn't going to slow down -- as computers and the technology they enable gets cheaper and more widely distributed, copying will continue to speed up, just as it has done since the dawn of the computer industry), they will harm British business and British families, by making the Internet generally less useful and more difficult and more expensive for honest people to use.

In other words, the Digital Economy Bill will do no good for the analogue economy industries, and will weaken the digital economy.

Open Wi-Fi 'outlawed' in Digital Economy Bill (Thanks, Glenn!)

Chile earthquake: First-hand notes from Camilo of Disorder Magazine

chiletrends.jpg

Camilo Salas K. from Disorder Magazine in Chile (a very cool publication about music and culture, in the same eclectic/irreverent vein as Boing Boing) writes to us from the capital city of Santiago:

camilo.jpg The situation right now is very bad. We are getting news of the most bad places (the south center of Chile) and the news is no good. I am listening about buildings on the floor, hospitals with a lot of people and aftershocks. Every 5 or 10 minutes we feel shakes from the earth. Right now I am experiencing a VERY LONG ONE. The news says there are over one hundred dead people and lot of injuries. I have electric light and internet, i can use my cellphone, with some difficulty, but it works.

In the most damaged areas there is no electricity or water, but you can buy food. The supermarkets are full of people, but they are working. The most difficult thing is that we dont have a lot of information about the most damaged places, but suddenly news appears about huge fires last night and people escaping from one of the prisons.

I was sleeping at 3:30 in the morning with my girlfriend. I live in the 10th floor of a 10 floor building and i woke up with a little shake. Then it was growing in intensity, and growing and growing. I get to the door and stay there. I have a lot of confidence in the strength of the building I live in, because nothing happend in 1985, the year we experienced another bad earthquake, and my building was built in the 70s. Chile has a really good earthquake standard for buildings.

Read the rest

Chile quake, Pacific tsunami watch: open thread

tsu.jpg

A todos los amigos chilenos de Boing Boing, y toda la gente de latinoamerica que tienen familiares y amigos allá, les saludamos y esperamos por lo mejor para ustedes y sus familias.

An 8.8 earthquake struck Chile last night, killing at least 150 people, leaving some half a million people homeless, and setting off tsunami activity that now threaten islands in the Pacific, and coastlines from South America to Canada. Related quake activity has claimed lives and caused structure collapse in Argentina.

Chile sits along the seismologically volatile "Ring of Fire," and has a long history of strong earthquakes. While the force of this quake was some 800 to 1,000 times stronger than the quake that recently struck Haiti, the destruction and loss of life, by early estimates, seems lower—in part, say some, because the country has more wealth, better infrastructure and architectural standards, and is generally well-prepared.

As I publish this blog post, the National Weather Service reports that the waves hitting the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia were smaller than forecast, causing some to believe that the coming impact on Hawaii may be less than initially feared.

A few early resources here, please feel free to share others in the comments:

* Photographs at Boston.com.
* Google: chilepersonfinder.appspot.com
* NOAA's tsunami tracker
* USGS: Surviving a Tsunami - Lessons from Chile, Hawaii & Japan
* USGS: ongoing notifications of aftershocks in Chile. As I publish this post at 11:15am PT, there have already been 50 aftershocks, many of which were over 5.5 in magnitude.
* Once again, Robert Mackey at NYT's The Lede Blog is doing a great job gathering loose ends into must-read blogging.

(some items via @seanbonner, @mgorbis)

The Great Battle of Sitting and Spitting: Whitney, Texas, 1949

201002270956
"Why, they must spit two or three gallons a day!  They ain't died fast enough, these old men!"--Mrs. T.E. Bagley, Whitney, Texas, 1949

John Ptak comments on a story from a 1949 issue of LIFE. The photos are fantastic.

It isn't, I guess, so much a story about their sitting as it is a story about their not sitting, about how it came to be that their lumber was removed and the men forced to find another place to take in the sights and construct their great edifices of commentary and asides.

The story appears in LIFE Magazine of 15 August 1949, and lays the whole drama out in two splash pages, with bare editorializing and some great photos.

The story goes like this: "In 1922 D. (Doctor Dee) Scarborough, the druggist in Whitney, Texas, put up a bench outside his store, and immediately it became a loafing headquarters for the gaffers of the Brazos River Valley. 'Year after year they sat there looking like a jury of irritable terrapins, whittling, spitting and passing judgment on everything that passed. But finally reform caught up with them." It caught up to them, even if everyone was wearing a collared shirt.

The Great Battle of Sitting and Spitting: Whitney, Texas, 1949

Saturday Morning Science Experiment: Static is funny

What do you get when you combine Mr. Wizard, Harpo Marx and "Adventures with Bill"? I'm not sure exactly, but the exploits of Dr. Ernest Otherford get pretty close.

In this segment, the good Dr. Otherford explores the power of static electricity.

Thumbnail image courtesy Flickr user johnwilson1969 via CC

BeFunky's Way Cool Portraits

My friend Gareth Branwyn, chief blogster at Makezine.com, had a picture of himself drawn as a robot that I thought was pretty cool. Investigating that idea led me to the befunky.com website. Tons of interesting ways to rendering your portrait without having to know or have Photoshop. The interface is easy too. Impessive! Thumbnail image for befunky_artworkbillcartoon.jpg Thumbnail image for befunky_artwork.jpg

befunky_artworkpopartbill3.jpg befunky_artwork3d.jpg

Planning M.O.R.O.N.: Architectural award for planning errors

Chris sez, "The residents of Little Green Street are fighting against developers who trying to use one of London's very few remaining original Georgian streets as a lorry run to a site they're trying to develop just north of Kentish Town. The battle has been going on for years now with the local council, Camden, refusing permissions at every step but losing appeals.

"Now it looks like the developers may be going ahead with their plan, which will include running ten-tonne trucks up a cobbled street (which won't stay authentic Georgian for very long, then). This is a street which is so narrow even taxi drivers refuse to drive up it. Anyway, the residents (led by my good friend Nick Goodall) have launched a new category of architectural award, the MORONS (Many Obvious Reasons Overcome Nothing) to celebrate their own and others' planning stupidities.

"The whole site is well worth a read, with stupidity piled on idiocy heaped on lunacy; for example it turns out the developers don't actually own part of the site where they're planning to build; the Council themselves refused permission for the building trucks to pass through their estate at the rear of the development because it would be 'too dangerous' but the same trucks can pass up a narrower (much narrower) street lined with listed buildings; and so on."

The Planning Moron™ Awards 2009 (Thanks, Chris!)

The Day My Kid Went Punk, ABC After-School Special


ABC After-School Specials hit their zenith (or nadir) with The Day My Kid Went Punk, a punksploitation show to rival the CHiPS "Rip and Destroy" episode (and yes, that's Bernie Kopell, the doctor from the Love Boat, as the outraged dad).

The Day My Kid Went PUNK

Jason at Epcot, 1989-2005, hero's journey to sysadminhood

Jason sez, "Six photos of me, Jason, under the 'Jason' sign at Epcot's The Living Seas attraction taken over the years 1989-2005. See me start as a gorky 15 year old in short shorts, pass through the fanny pack years of the 90s, and move on to become the grizzled, bearded sysadmin I am today." There is a well-brought-up man indeed! I have a similar series of pics of me with the Haunted Mansion sign that I keep meaning to post.

Jason at The Living Seas (Thanks, Jason!)

Alice in Wonderland movie from 1933 with Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, WC Fields, which Alice herself endorsed

Steve Silberman sez, "Holy Terry Gilliam prototype: The original, trippy 1933 film version of Alice in Wonderland by Norman 'Monkey Business' McLeod, starring Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and W.C. Fields, now on DVD with a rave from Alice: 'A revolution in cinema history!'"

But only one can boast the endorsement of the original Alice: the 1933 Paramount "Alice in Wonderland," being released to DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment ($19.98, not rated), the current rights holder. In a Jan. 7, 1934, article in The New York Times, Alice Liddell, quoted under her married name, Mrs. Reginald Hargreaves, expressed admiration for the film that Hollywood had wrought from the story Carroll had invented for her some seven decades before.

"I am delighted with the film and am now convinced that only through the medium of the talking picture art could this delicious fantasy be faithfully interpreted," she declared, her words possibly burnished by a Paramount publicist. " 'Alice' is a picture which represents a revolution in cinema history!"

Another Trippy Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland (1933)

(Thanks, Steve!)

Pirates of the Caribbean IV will be based on Tim Powers's "On Stranger Tides"

Oh, this is very good news: the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie will be based on Tim Powers's kick-ass, World-Fantasy-Award-winning novel On Stranger Tides, the greatest undead pirate story of all time. Go, Tim! Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. (Thanks, Rob!)

Los Angeles: play about government/corporate conspiracy


A few weeks ago, the Pasadena Playhouse, a historic theater just outside of Los Angeles, announced that it's totally out of cash and shutting its doors. The news was a blow to the L.A. theater world, as the Playhouse has nearly a 100-year history of great performances and arts education. It was especially bad news for the Furious Theatre Company, the Pasadena Playhouse's current company-in-residence, known for its challenging, intense, controversial, and critically-acclaimed productions. It was also bad news personally, as my brother Robert Pescovitz had been deep in rehearsals with the rest of the Furious ensemble for their latest production, a contemporary black comedy about government/corporate conspiracy titled Men of Tortuga, by Jason Wells. The show was supposed to open last weekend, and suddenly Furious found itself scrambling for a new space. At the eleventh hour though, Furious managed to secure the Pasadena Playhouse for one more month to stage this play. The rescheduled opening night is tomorrow, Saturday, February 26. I haven't seen Men of Tortuga yet, but it sounds like a terrific piss take on corporate politics and shady power brokers. The show runs until March 28.

Mentortuggggg Three power-brokers scheme with a weapons specialist to assassinate a despised opponent... Too bad they’re all such incompetents. The bungling only gets worse as Maxwell, the senior power-broker, takes a young idealist under his wing. Suddenly his long-dormant conscience begins to reawaken. This comedic thriller discloses a sharp parable that takes a crack at the nastiness of covert governmental and corporate operations.
Furious Theatre Company: Men of Tortuga

UPDATE: Furious Theatre Company has kindly offered Boing Boing readers a $10 discount on tickets. When purchasing tickets online, just enter the code: boingboing

Sublime Stitching's Sexy Librarians embroidery patterns

201002261631

Sexy Librarians is just one of several fantastic embroidery patterns made by Sublime ♥ Stitching and for sale in the Boing Boing Bazaar. There's also Meaty Treats, Vital Organs, and Lucha Libre. Check them all out here. And check out the rest of the Makers Market for more maker-made marvelousness.

Sublime ♥ Stitching

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

birdemicth.jpg I'll be attending a screening of the much-tweeted horrorschlock instaclassic Birdemic tomorrow night in LA, hosted by Tim & Eric ("Season Cinco" of their show debuts Sunday night, and also promises to be great).

Directed by James Nguyen, Birdemic is sort of The Birds meets The Room. Richard Metzger has a comprehensive post about Birdemic over at the LA Times "Brand X" blog. LA folks: The Saturday night Cinefamily screening of Birdemic is sold out, but they've added a second one for March 5. And LOL and behold: Birdemic's on Twitter.

Tofu wrestling in Brooklyn

Tofu Wrestling. Feel free to be outraged, disgusted, or turned on. (NSFW, via Brooklyn Vegan.)

Mid-70s Giorgio Moroder synth video: awesomest thing of all time

moroderth.jpg Holy crap, this video truly is the most awesome thing ever!!11one!11. I know nothing about this, other than what's on the YouTube description: "Promo for Giorgio Moroder taken from a Casablanca Records promo tape." I was talking with Joel Johnson about how creepy Moroder seemed in this video, with the pervo-stache and the cocaine shades. "But he mades the trains boogie on time," says Joel. Mr. Moroder is still very much with us, btw: he is 69 years old, and actively composing. Here's his website.

When you're done watching, go listen to this (or buy it). I think it's my favorite Moroder track.

(via Q-Burns Abstract Message via DailySwarm via Mixhell)

Economist Dan Ariely finds a new placebo


Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely used to enjoy taking Airborne, until he read reports that it didn't prevent colds. Before he read the reports, he was "97.5% sure" Airborne didn't work, but that tiny bit of doubt was enough for the placebo effect kick in. The news reports killed the placebo effect. He was sad that he didn't have a cold placebo to depend on, but his mother recently sent him a new nostrum and he is happy again. (I think it is Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic "medicine.").

Dan Ariely: Got My Placebo Back

Clifford Stoll's curmudgeonly 'Why the Internet Will Fail' essay, 1995

Clifford Stoll.


Clifford Stoll.

In 1995, astronomer, amateur hacker tracker and Klein-bottle maker Clifford Stoll wrote an essay (and a book, too, but I haven't read that) explaining why this Internet thing will never work. His main argument seems to be, "Hardware and software will all top out in the mid-90s and, thus, the Internet will never ever get any more user friendly or portable. Also, it is different and scary." Hilarity ensues.

The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works ...

What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is that the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them—one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, "Too many connections, try again later." ....

Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet-which there isn't-the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

Why the Internet Will Fail, essay reprinted from Newsweek

Via Unlikely Words

A flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo, into frantic oblivion

One favorite quote from Hunter S. Thompson, who died exactly five years ago (give or take a few days) ago, is this one, the opening lines from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like: I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive. Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, and a voice was screaming: Holy Jesus. What are these goddamn animals?

Duke_and_gonzo_Small.jpgThompson and his lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta visited Las Vegas in 1971 to cover the Mint 400 race for Sports Illustrated. But the article they wrote was about far more than that.

Las Vegas Review reporter Corey Levitan writes an article in which he tries to figure out what was real and what wasn't, which as might be imagined when dealing with Thompson seems like a tough thing to figure.

Wikipedia list of every landing mankind has ever made on other planetary bodies

A concise list of every landing mankind has ever made on other planetary bodies. Have to say, I did not know that the USSR had sent that many probes to Venus. (Via Betsy Mason)

Persuasive games: ends vs. means

Ford Fusion Dashboard
At Institute for the Future, we've started a project looking at the future of persuasion and how technology affects behavior. The researchers are blogging on the subject here, mostly as a way for us to share examples, initial thoughts, and essays-in-progress with each other (and anyone else interested in the subject). Today, my friend Mathias Crawford wrote a very thoughtful and provocative post about persuasive game designed to, say, persuade you to eat less, exercise more, or increase your productivity. In his essay, Mathias suggests that the real potential for persuasive games isn't just to change behavior but also to help us understand why we behave a certain way. From the essay, titled "Ends vs. Means and Persuasive Games" on IFTF's Persuasion blog:
As (Carnegie Mellon professor Jesse) Schell points out (in a videotaped speech making the rounds this week), persuasive technologies like the Ford Fusion dashboard, are already being designed with game-like feedback in mind. To him these technologies fall short, however, because they are being engineered by people who are not game designers. If game designers would start to design reward systems that aimed to improve behaviors, we'd have feedback mechanisms that are much more enjoyable, and as a corollary that are much more effective.

Though I agree with his conclusion - that there is a clear need for people with game design expertise to design things that can help people improve behaviors - by focusing on creating technologies that aim to achieving measurable ends, Schell misses a much more important use of persuasive technologies: namely, technology that aims to influence means.

"Ends vs. Means and Persuasive Games"

Octopus cam: Your key to a happier day

octopuscam.jpg

The Smithsonian National Zoo just got a Pacific Giant Octopus. (Weeeelll, sort of. It's a baby, and currently only about three pounds. But it'll be giant someday, promise.) The little critter doesn't have a name yet, but he (they think it's probably a he, maybe) does have a web cam. The camera is set up to capture the octopus at feeding times—11 and 3 Eastern, daily. Which is, coincidentally, right about the time I could use a good cephalopod fix in my day.

Even better, this announcement led me to discover that the National Zoo has a ton of different animal web cams. Seriously, they're set up like a bunch of teenage emo girls over there. Lions, naked mole rats (!!), single-celled organisms, sloth bears (?!): You can watch 'em all live.

USA PATRIOT Act renewed, no new civil liberties protections

patriot.jpg

Kevin Bankston at the EFF blogs,

Yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to renew three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, after the Senate abandoned the PATRIOT reform effort and approved the extension by a voice vote on Wednesday night.

Disappointingly, the government's dangerously broad authority to conduct roving wiretaps of unspecified or "John Doe" targets, to secretly wiretap of persons without any connection to terrorists or spies under the so-called "lone wolf" provision, and to secretly access a wide range of private business records without warrants under PATRIOT Section 215 were all renewed without any new checks and balances to prevent abuse.

EFF: Epic Fail in Congress: USA PATRIOT Act Renewed Without Any New Civil Liberties Protections

[Image: Patriot Act, a Creative Commons-licensed illustration by Wiretap Studios, large version here.]