Boing Boing 

Happy New Year, Mutants


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

Spokeo may know more about you than you realize


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 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 [xkcd via Laughing Squid]

Best movie scene of the year 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


"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


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

Via Morbid Anatomy

Star Trek: Positronic Heart of Darkness


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


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.

Bone Dry Red Cabernet wine label

Bonereddd We had a bottle of this Bone Dry Red Cabernet at my in-laws' home in Kentucky. It's from Elk Creek Vineyards in Owenton, Kentucky. I don't really drink wine, so I can't comment on its quality. But I think the label is just fantastic.

Bobby Farrell, 1949-2010

Bobby Farrell, frontman of 1970s disco legend Boney M., died in St. Petersburg yesterday. December 29 also marked the 94th anniversary of the death of Rasputin, the subject of their most successful hit.

Rah rah Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen.
Now there was a cat that really was gone.
Rah rah Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine.
It was a shame how he carried on.

Boney M was also the first Western band to be invited to perform in the Soviet Union, where they performed in Red Square.

Boney M frontman Bobby Farrell died [Telegraph]

Bill Murray anti-tech rant: robots, digital watches, talking cars, 1982

Raw footage from "Wired In," a never-completed series on the technological trends and innovations of the early 1980s. Here is unedited tape of Bill Murray doing takes for a promo, shot in NYC. He rants about technology.

• "People have hands... Watches should have hands."
• "Who in the hell is thinkin' up this stuff? High tech stuff."
• "I don't mind robots. I mean, R2D2 was alright. He was a fine actor."

[Video Link, and longer version here]

(Via Submitterator, thanks gorfulator)

Denis Dutton, founder of 'Arts & Letters Daily,' has died


Via the Submitterator, BB reader C. White says,

4498560.jpg Denis Dutton, who founded and edited the website, passed away on 28 December 2010. Dutton was born in 1944, and was also a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He was a founding member of the New Zealand Skeptics. Although Dutton is "nearly irreplaceable" in running Arts & Letters Daily, a longtime collaborator will continue to produce the site.
More at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Related, "Remembering Denis Dutton: ART AND HUMAN REALITY [2.24.09], A Talk With Denis Dutton, Introduction By Steven Pinker" (, and via EDGE founder John Brockman, who was a friend of Dutton.)

More coverage: The New Yorker, LA Times, Reason, 3 Quarks Daily, D.G. Myers, National Review, Washington Post, spiked, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, AP, Slate, City Journal, Open Letters Monthly, American Spectator, TED Talk.

A British countryside Christmas with Julian Assange


Newsweek has published exclusive! photographs of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange enjoying Christmas in the Bail Mansion. Photos: Robert King / Polaris.

(via Choire Sicha)

A cave in Vietnam so tall, a skyscraper could fit inside

Screen-shot-2010-12-30-at-1.28.jpg From National Geographic:
The light beaming from above reveals a tower of calcite on the cave floor that is more than 200 feet tall, smothered by ferns, palms, and other jungle plants. Stalactites hang around the edges of the massive skylight like petrified icicles. Vines dangle hundreds of feet from the surface; swifts are diving and cutting in the brilliant column of sunshine. The tableau could have been created by an artist imagining how the world looked millions of years ago.
Photo gallery with many more images, all shot by Carsten Peter for Nat Geo. (Via Submitterator, thanks Marilyn Terrell!)

"Rosie the Riveter" dead at 86

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, one of the women who inspired the character of Rosie the Riveter, died today at the age of 86. In her honor, please enjoy this thorough and fascinating look at the history of women factory workers during World War II, and their portrayal in popular culture.

A look back at a decade in tech: Xeni on NPR's "All Things Considered"

In this audio segment, I talk with NPR's Robert Siegel for a look back to the year 2000, and three of the big tech stories that year—and how they point to what's ahead in the future. The "All Things Considered" link contains text transcript, too.

Meta-meta on Greenwald v. Poulsen re: Manning/Lamo/Wikileaks: "The evanescence of Twitter debates"

Felix Salmon has an opinion piece up at Reuters analyzing the interesting Twitter debate/catfight/whatever around l'affaire The piece references Boing Boing posts by Rob Beschizza and guest blogger Sean Bonner. Do go have a read.

New Year resolution: Watch more meteor showers


Mark your calendars now to make sure you see the best meteor showers of 2011.

This lovely time-elapsed photo, taken during the August 2010 Perseid meteor shower, only shows one actual meteor. If you start in the middle of the photo, and work your way to the right, the meteor is just above the second-largest tree, clearly moving at a different angle than all the star tracks. Though the photo doesn't show it, the actual Perseid was pretty impressive, according to photographer Darren Kirby:

Despite a winning forecast the afternoon was quite overcast, and I was afraid viewing it may be a bust. However, at about 8:00pm the skies cleared, so [friends] and I took a drive up to Sunset Main Road near the Coquihalla Connector summit to check it out. We were there from about midnight til about 2:00am, and we did see an incredible show. Apparently it wasn't as good as some years, but I was still very impressed. The meteors were shooting off every few seconds or so at times. One was so big it lit up the sky like lightning, and left a tracer than remained in the sky for a good minute.

Via Asteroid Watch

Image used via CC license.

Breathtaking photo essay of the Paris Metro


Over at Sleepy City, an absolutely amazing photo essay of the Paris Metro including all the stations you probably know about, many you don't, and some that have not been accessed by the outside world for more than 50 years. The gallery includes shots of vacant trains sitting at many of these unused stations, including some of the original 1903 Spragues. I could look at photos like this all day long. (Thanks Harold!)

FBI raids TX-based server hosting business in "Operation Payback" probe


From The Smoking Gun: "As part of an international criminal probe into computer attacks launched this month against perceived corporate enemies of WikiLeaks, the FBI has raided a Texas business and seized a computer server that investigators believe was used to launch a massive electronic attack on PayPal." More details on the firm in question, and another hosting facility in California the FBI is investigating, at the bottom of the piece.

Guardian responds to Bianca Jagger smears over Assange legal dramz (oh my!)

Bianca Jagger vs. Nick Davies (Guardian) is the new Glenn Greenwald vs. Kevin Poulsen.

East Side: Dirty, dirty

The combination of soot-spewing smokestacks and prevailing winds out of the West might explain why industrial cities in the Northern Hemisphere so often have their poorest parts of town on the East Side. (Via Eric M. Johnson)

Surprise presentation by Openleaks' Daniel Domscheit-Berg at 27c3


Wikileaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg, formerly aka Daniel Schmidt, gave a previously unannounced talk earlier today at the Chaos Communication Congress taking place in Germany. Daniel is a former spokesperson and "number two guy" at Wikileaks; he left the organization after a highly-publicized falling-out with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and vowed to create a Wikileaks alternative, Openleaks. He is also writing a tell-all book about his time at Wikileaks, due out in mid-Feb. 2011, likely in advance of Julian Assange's own memoirs.

At the moment, I can't find an archived recording or slides, but information activist/freelance reporter Heather Brooke was live-tweeting it earlier (she was also at the Assange court hearing in London, for context; she's been on WL-related stories for some time). According to her live-tweeted notes, Daniel said:

• There were many bottlenecks in Wikileaks. Openleaks aims to solve that problem by decentralizing.

• Wikileaks has its place, but cloning it will not lead to more leak projects. A different approach is needed.

• Idealism must carry any leak project. The commercial motive isn't sustainable. An academic model would lack technical expertise.

• Openleaks will focus on how to get more leaks. It will be up to others to open up the publication side.

Read the rest