Boing Boing 

San Francisco's steep hills

Håkan Dahlström got this delightful shot of one of San Francisco's steeper hills, turning his camera so that the road (and not the houses) were at level to convey the extent of the slope.

Crazy hills of San Francisco (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Walt Disney World employees demand a living wage

Long, drawn out negotiations between Walt Disney World and the Services Trade Council have not resulted in a contract for the 20,000 cast-members the STC represents. In this video, the affected cast-members explain how their wages have failed to keep pace with inflation, meaning a de-facto paycut that has some of them visiting local food-banks to stay fed. Disney's cast-members are some of the most remarkable people I've ever met; as a visitor to Walt Disney World, I want them to receive a living wage.

Disney World Union takes offensive

Astonishing jump-rope team skipping their way into my heart

In this remarkable performance at the US naval academy, the Kings Firecrackers jump-rope team conduct a high-intensity, skip-rope-fuelled close-order drill that seriously agogified me.

Kings Firecrackers (via Reddit)

Philadelphia Type-In for vintage typewriter restorers

A group of Philadelphia-area manual typewriter enthusiasts are staging a "type-in" with free typing paper, carbons and stamped envelopes -- it runs on Dec 18 at the Bridgewater's Pub in the 30th Street Station:
Long before the laptop or the mainframe, writers, reporters, and bureaucrats alike relied on the typewriter to get the word out. Today, only a few companies make typewriters--but thousands of classic Remingtons, Underwoods, and Olivettis are still around, waiting to be dusted off. Just as vinyl records have held their mojo in a digital world, these miniature printing presses are attracting a new group of fans, many half the age of the typewriters they've lovingly restored.

They'll be gathering to clack out letters, poetry, perhaps the beginnings of their next novel at the Type-IN, an off-beat gathering of manual typewriter users coming to Bridgewater's Pub at 30th Street Station. Typewriter aficionados will enter a typing competition, buy and sell at a typewriter swap meet, and consult with an experienced typewriter technician, who'll offer tips to keep that vintage machine cranking out words smoothly.

A pleasant afternoon of manual typewriting?

Help Readergirlz donate 125,000 great books to low-income teens

Awesome kids' book author and literacy activist Lorie Ann Grover sez, "readergirlz and First Book are partnering to give away more than 125,000 brand-new books to low-income teen readers. We need help getting the word out about the A Novel Gift campaign. Let's get organizations serving these teens registered with First Book so they can be matched with inventory during the holidays. If you participate, drop us a note at to be included in our blog roll of thanks to run December 31."
They're great books, too, donated by generous publishers. Among the three dozen choices are P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast's HOUSE OF NIGHT series and Alyson Noël's SHADOWLAND.

We need your help getting the word out about the A Novel Gift campaign. Right now! Right now! As in, now!

rgz and First Book Partner for A Novel Gift! Over 125,000 free books to low-income teens (Thanks, Lorie Ann, via Submitterator!)

TSA "opt out" parody from the Red vs Blue creators

Rooster Teeth, creators of the brilliant Red vs Blue machinima series, produced this chortle-inducing short about the essential and creepy incoherence of the security theory that says aviation safety is improved by allowing the TSA to see and touch our junk.

TSA invades House Party (Thanks, AirPillo, via Submitterator!)

Hotel peephole doctored for easy removal and spying

Last week, as Kent Brewster was leaving his hotel room in the morning, he found a small piece of crumpled paper on the floor of his room; he realized that this had been used to plug up the peephole in the door, which had been doctored to allow people in the hallway to spy on the goings-on in the room. Says Kent: " The hotel manager took care of me--and was just as freaked as I was, and instantly sent housekeeping to check every room--so I don't want to call them out by name ... but still ... brrr! Creepy!"

Check your peephole when you check in! (Thanks, Kentbrew, via Submitterator!)

DC-area county official says TSA patdowns are "homosexual agenda"

The crazy, it burns: Loudon County, VA Board of Supervisors representative Eugene Delgaudio says TSA patdowns are part of the "homosexual agenda": "It's the federal employee's version of the Gay Bill of Special Rights... That means the next TSA official that gives you an 'enhanced pat down' could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission." (Thanks, Frank!)

Chain of Command

chainofcommand_970.jpg This remarkable painting hangs on a hotel wall in New Orleans. Anyone know anything else about it?

Update, April 14, 2014: Reader K.F. Carmen writes in:

Hello from Canada! Just thought I'd fill you in on what I've recently ascertained in regards to that cool painting in New Orleans. I was there a couple weeks ago with my wife and we actually stayed at the "Le Richelieu" where it has hung since the 60's or at least the early 70's.

In the bar of this quaint hotel on the edge of "The French Quarter", there is a framed photo of Paul and Linda McCartney standing in front of the eerie painting. I was thrilled by this right off because I'm a huge fan plus I loved the painting. So, I asked the girl at the front desk and she gave me some info which I forgot half of soon after. I thought I recalled her saying "John MacKenzie crossing the Mississippi to sign something very important.

I'm no historian by any means, so I got it mixed up with John A. McDonald and then I was totally confused. Weird picture nonetheless! I actually took a nice snap of it ( which I'll include ), you see, I've been obsessed with freaky paintings before. After reading Rose Madder, by Stephen King, I was driving along and came upon a black velvet painting of a mean-looking bandito. It was sitting out back of someone's house with some other junk. For some reason, I decided I had to have it. I knocked on the door to see if they were tossing it out or whatever. No-one home. I was gonna grab it but there were neighbors around. I left and came back a few times but never ended up getting it. I do remember being overly obsessed with it though. Anyway, sorry to drag you through all that. The point is that, when I got home, I made a desk-top background out of the painting ( looks great ) and it got me to thinking: Who is this guy? Why the cat? So I went on google, queried: who is the man crossing the Mississippi in a canoe with a black cat in a painting in New Orleans?

That brought up a few pages but I immediately saw the image on one site. I clicked, sure enough it was there. This is where I saw your name. I thought: Why does this guy want to know so much about such a weird picture? I noticed there were some responses so I read them. Most of the early posts didn't seem to know anything but finally some guy nailed it. It was John McDonagh going to sign something important. Here's the weird part: There was another image a few over of another painting identical except a different guy sitting in the middle of the canoe. Same boat, background,cat,black man, everything. I clicked on that image and some other info came up. Missouri, 1845, fur-traders and all that. Did someone copy it? Was someone selling portraits to all the river-crossers that day? Like, what gives here? That's all I know or care to know at this stage

Seattle Streets Are Gangsta

electrocution_signage.jpg The streets of Seattle are no longer safe--for cute little dogs and fiber-optic cables. First, The Seattle Times reported today on the strange case of a dog being electrocuted as it walked down the street. A privately and legally installed street light lacked proper grounding, and the dog was zapped walking over a metal plate on the sidewalk. My condolences to Lisa Kibben, who lost her 68-pound German shorthair pointer, Sammy, in this bizarre event. The utility dispatched a crew immediately, fixed the problem, and apologized, trying to reassure the public that we (and perhaps our sub-70-pound children) are not in danger. This reminded me of the peculiar death of Jodie S. Lane in Manhattan (East Village) in 2004, walking down the street with her two dogs when one apparently received a severe shock, and Lane, unaware of what was happening, attempted to help the dogs. The dogs survived. Jodie's father, Roger M. Lane, received a massive amount of information about electrified Con Ed objects and shocks caused to people as part of a settlement. He created a Web site which showed the 31,900 objects found to cause electrical shocks between 2004 and 2009. Seattle has no such history, but you can imagine that Emerald City denizens will be skipping metal panels for a while. Second, local Seattle business site TechFlash reported that a bullet was fired into a fiber-optic cable owned by Comcast, severing access to 2,500 customers. The motivation is unknown, and the company isn't asking for a police investigation. Oddly enough, this is not the first time. A Comcast spokesperson told TechFlash, "About 13 years ago, someone shot a bullet into a main fiber line in Tacoma on New Year's Eve, knocking out service to about half the city." Man, I guess people are really angry about Comcast's attempting legal contractual modification of a peering agreement with Level 3. First they came for the fiber-optic cables, and I tweeted nothing. Photo by Photocopy, used via Creative Commons.

Love is a Stranger

[Video Link]

Hairpiece or Herpes?


From the people who brought you Bacon or Beer Can, now this:

Hairpiece or Herpes? (via reposter, thanks teapot)

Gates on Wikileaks: "Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.''

"Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.''—Defense Secty. Robert Gates, on the Wikileaks "Cablegate" fallout.

Beautiful illustration of fantasy-science


From the cover of the May 28, 1954 issue of Colliers. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is an illustration. Just lovely.

Paleo-Future blogger Matt Novak (whose presence in the Twin Cities is sorely missed) says this cover story is just the tip of a very big iceberg. Controlling the weather was right up there with flying cars in mid-century dreams of the Future.

Home made spectrometer tells you what rainbows mean


Don't tell the Double-Rainbow guy, but all those beautiful colors really can have a deeper meaning. That's because different chemicals reflect and absorb different wavelengths of light, leaving tell-tale patterns in the rainbow. If you know what colors specific chemicals absorb, you can look at the light reflected off a sample and use the rainbow to figure out what you've got. That's basically what a spectrometer does. And blogger Charles Soeder made his own.

The light source is an LED flashlight. The light shines through the sample (in this case a vial of chlorophyll) and gets broken up by a diffraction grating. This produces a spectrum which gets projected onto the photosensor. I pulled the sensor out of an automatic night light. It is mounted on a stand, which is taped to a TI89 which is taped to the table- so I can slide the sensor back and forth along the spectrum to get readings at different frequencies. I measured the frequency of light hitting the detector by noting where its shadow falls on the ruler in the background. The resistance of the sensor changes depending on how much light falls on it (which is an indication of how much light gets absorbed by the sample); I measure this with a multimeter.

There's more photos of all the different parts in his set-up. My favorite features the helpful caption, "This is where the rainbow goes."

(Thanks to Kevin Zelnio!)

Jack Shafer: "I love Wikileaks for restoring distrust in our most important institutions."

"If you want to dismiss [Julian Assange] just because he's a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I'd like you to meet."—Jack Shafer,

Hungry rats vs. a scary-looking LEGO robot


Fear is like hot porridge. Too much is bad. Not enough is bad. You want that balance to be just right. The amygdala is the part of the brain tasked with job of playing Goldilocks. If it's overactive, you'll end up a quivering ball of uselessness. If it's missing, you'll be an action-movie badass—right up until the point where you get yourself killed.

At least, that's how it worked in rats when researchers at the University of Washington put a terrifying, snappy-jawed LEGO robot between the rats and their food.

Faced with that threat, healthy rats quickly learned to snatch food that was just out of the robot's reach—while leaving the robot-guarded food alone. But amygdala-less rats just didn't care. They went after all the food, getting close enough to the Predator-Bot that they'd have likely been eaten had it been a Killer Predator-Bot. Meanwhile, rats with too much activity in their amygdala gave up on the food entirely, rather than get anywhere near the robot's toothy jaws.

And there are videos of this experiment. Chief among them: The robot's view of the situation.

(Thanks, hectocotyli!)

Graph of jobs lost in recessions since 1948


Can't we do a census every six months?

Kelsey C., a master’s student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, sent in this image from Calculated Risk showing the percent of jobs lost in each recession since 1948, relative to the peak of the pre-recession job market. In terms of the percent of jobs lost, the current recession is by far the worst we’ve seen since World War II
Graph of jobs lost in recessions since 1948

How the Bandit, Coors and a bunch of Makers changed the course of booze history


So last night, while attempting to explain the plot of Smokey and the Bandit to my husband, it occurred to me that I didn't really understand the back story that spawned this, one of my favorite childhood films. Why did Bandit and Snowman (and Fred) have a long way to go and a short time to get there? There was beer in most parts of Georgia by the 1970s. And even if you were trying to get booze to a dry county, why start in Texas and only give yourself 28 hours?

Thanks to Wikipedia and the very helpful Stephan Zielinski, I discovered the awful truth—Smokey and the Bandit is centered around America's brief love affair with Coors Banquet Beer.

All that work, for Coors? It's true. Wikipedia explained that the beer wasn't available East of Oklahoma at the time. But I didn't get the full extent of what was really going on until I read a 1974 Time magazine article sent to me by Zielinski. If, like me, you didn't begin drinking until the late 1990s, this is going to come as a shock, but, once upon a time, Coors was apparently the best American breweries had to offer.

Read the rest



At this very moment, 4chan founder Moot is experimenting with fake ads for pudding, or something, and /b/ is going crazy.

It all seems to revolve around this Japanese pudding ad, which Cory blogged here on Boing Boing a month ago.

Read the rest

Interpol issues "Red Notice" for arrest of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange over "sex crime"

Kevin Poulsen at Wired News: "The international police organization Interpol has issued a Red Notice for the arrest of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, in connection with a sex crime investigation in Sweden." A copy of the Interpol notice is here. The timing, just a couple of days after the largest leak ever, is interesting. Certainly sounds simpler than arresting him for the leaks.

Assange is reportedly "at a secret location somewhere outside London, along with fellow hackers and WikiLeaks enthusiasts."

Read the rest

DIY metallurgists liberate and scrap America's vital telephony substrate

Spiraling commodity prices and a plummeting US job market have apparently made digging up copper phone lines and selling them for scrappage an attractive proposition. AT&T is offering $3K for information leading to the arrest of the copper scrappers who freelanced enough copper out of the fertile Atlanta soil to knock 7,000 people offline. It's part of a wider nationwide pattern of DIY five-finger discount recycling -- 100 miles of copper vanished from Appalachia, three hits to the same NJ station, and a $75K score also in the Garden State.
The FBI report shows that industry and local officials are taking countermeasures to help address the scrapper problem, but apparently much more needs to be done. For example, while a variety of physical and technological security measures have been taken there are limited resources available to enforce these laws, and a very small percentage of perpetrators are arrested and convicted. Additionally, as copper thefts are typically addressed as misdemeanors, those individuals convicted pay relatively low fines and serve short prison terms.

Atlanta isn't the only place seeing copper theft problems. In this report, Appalachian Power said more than 100 miles of copper wire has been stolen from the company's southern West Virginia facilities alone. Replacing stolen wire can cost up to $1 million a year, the utility stated. Other thefts have been reported all across the country in recent days. One location in New Jersey has been hit three times in the last two months seeing some $13,000 worth of copper stolen. A utility in the same state this week reported a $75,000 theft of the metal.

AT&T goes after copper wire thieves (via /.)

TSAnta Claus tee

Ape Lad sez, "Here's the latest shirt I designed for woot. Perfect for your holiday air travel!"

TSAnta Claus

Holiday Cool Tools Contest

Tool Present.jpg If you are going to give a gift why not make it a useful one? What tools or tool-ish gifts will you be giving this holiday season? Share with us your favorite utilitarian gifts by sending us a description and link. We'll award the best review a prize from the prize pool. We'll be assembling a running list of the best gift ideas, so submit as many gift ideas as you would like. Remember, a great Cool Tool review consists of the following five parts: 1) a succinct description of what the tool is, 2) how it changed your behavior, 3) why Cool Tools should run the item, 4) why it is superior to other things, 5) why we should believe you, 6) and why you're giving it as a gift Submissions will be accepted until Monday December 4th 6th, and the winner will be announced that week. So tell us what you love to give, or leave a recommendation in the comments! Oliver Hulland Editor, Cool Tools

Freeway-blocking Imperial Stars charged with felonies

The Imperial Stars, who blocked the 101 freeway in Los Angeles with a moving truck in October to punish drivers with their abysmal music, have been charged with felonies. "The douches defendants say they pulled off the stunt in order to bring attention to the plight of homeless children (and not to bring media attention -- which they soaked up -- to their crap, "hardcore hip-hop" act)."

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain

An exclusive preview of the new photography book, Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century by Carl Schoonover, foreword by Jonah Lehrer. Published by AbramsRead the rest

Makers Market refugees

Since the Makers Market shut, a group of self-described "MM Refugees" set up an Etsy treasury to promote their "wonderful science, tech and artistic creations." Some of my favorite items from the Makers Market are in their collection, from nixie clocks to the Time Bandits map to the phillips head steampunk earrings. Great gift ideas!

MM Refugees (Etsy)

MM Regufees (Facebook)

American Pickers' Mike Wolfe and vintage bicycles

Mike Wolfe of the History Channel's "American Pickers" is a junk archeologist even during his free time. Mostly, he feeds his jones for vintage bicycles. Over at Collectors Weekly, Ben Marks talked to Wolfe about old bikes, from Victorian high weelers to balloon-tire Schwinns:
 Articles Wp-Content Uploads 2010 11 Wolfeonhighwheelercropped1 The late ’80s, early ’90s, was the heyday of balloon-tire bike collecting. That’s when Schwinn went crazy. This was before the bankruptcy and everything, and they were trying to create a museum in Chicago. Schwinn had warehouses full of its turn-of-the-century bikes, but they had failed to keep any of their balloon-tire stuff. So they hired James Hurd as a curator for their museum, and he started selling off all these turn-of-the-century bikes to enable for them to acquire balloon-tire ones.

I’d find a bike for $50, sell it for $500, take that $500 and do it again.

Guys like me were out there looking for balloon-tire stuff to feed that flame. In return, we were getting early turn-of-the-century bikes from the Schwinn collection. They had a big sale in downtown Chicago. Wood-rim bikes were stacked like cordwood in these warehouses.

Around that time I restored a bike called a Sterling. It was a turn-of-the-century, shaft-drive, wood-rim bike with rear suspension–there was a shock absorber up by the seat stays. I found the bike in pretty rough shape, but I just went full on with it and redid all the nickel and disassembled the bike and found a pair of new-old-stock wood rims. That was my prized possession for many years.

"Mike Wolfe On His Love Affair With Vintage Bikes"

Boing Boing is answer to "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" TV game show question


Boing Boing reader John Wessling of Texas kindly alerted us to the fact that "Boing Boing" was the answer to a question on the television game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," hosted by Meredith Viera. The contestant incorrectly chose "Bang Bang," and lost $20,000.

Video of Georgia Aquarium, world's largest

Patrick and Joyce from Canadian photo collective stillmotion filmed this vibrant montage of sea creatures at the Georgia Aquarium. (Video link)