Boing Boing 

Weather class cancelled due to weather

A Weather Spotter Training class scheduled for tonight at New Richmond High School has been canceled due to the ice storm expected to hit the area tonight.
"Weather spotting class canceled" (Thanks, Tomar Spedonez!)

Bryant Gumbel, 1994: "What is the Internet, anyway?"

The Today Show, 1994: Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric struggle to understand and explain the Internet and "that little mark with the 'a' and the ring around it." (Thanks, Rick Pescovitz!)

Tolstoy's "10 Rules of Life"

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (a book about how to be more happy and grateful, which I enjoyed very much) ran this list of Tolstoy's "10 Rules of Life" on her blog:
[F]or happiness-project purposes, Tolstoy is particularly fascinating -- both because he wrote so extensively about happiness and because he made and broke so many resolutions himself. Spectacularly... Tolstoy wrote these rules when he was eighteen years old:

Get up early (five o'clock)

Go to bed early (nine to ten o'clock)

Eat little and avoid sweets

Try to do everything by yourself

Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for evry minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater

Keep away from women

Kill desire by work

Be good, but try to let no one know it

Always live less expensively than you might

Change nothing in your style of living even if you become ten times richer

10 "Rules of Life" from Tolstoy

Egypt: and Tor team up to fight the Internet blackout, you can help


Help Tor fight the internet connectivity blackout in Egypt. "Your donation will go to providing satellite internet devices, other related equipment, to help with network access costs, and general support for Egyptians and people working with Egypt during this crisis and beyond. This fundraising drive is organized by the Tor Project. Money raised will be used by the Tor Project for work in areas where the Internet has been jacked." ( via Jacob Appelbaum)

Fun things made with programmable LEDs

My pals Tod Kurt and Mike Kuniavsky are the proprietors of ThingM, a company that makes nifty programmable LEDs and other smart electronic components.

They just sent out their latest ThingM newsletter showcasing a few cool projects that use BlinkMs: a robotic drum kit, cabinet handles that light up when you touch them, and books that blink.

BlinkM in Books with Personality

BlinkM in DrumKit


ThingM in Glowpull

Princess Diana Doll

B11ZU22_large.jpg The Franklin Mint makes this charming porcelain Diana doll.
What a wonderful way to remember Diana! ... Miniature tiara and white "English Rose." Extraordinary blue eyes and shy smile foreshadow the beautiful Princess admired by millions.
If you find it slightly odd, that may be because it is not an accurate depiction of the infant Diana Spencer, but rather an idealized pedomorphic adult.

What's Happening in Egypt, the Action Movie Explainer: "Raiders of the Lost Mubarak"

raiders.jpg After she realized many people couldn't wrap their heads around what was going on in Egypt, Furrygirl decided to turn to Hollywood staples and made this Raiders of the Lost Ark mashup version which explains things pretty clearly.

Full graphic follows, below...

Read the rest

About Schmidt: Google's Chief Emphatic Officer

Video Link. Literally. By Joe Sabia.

Egypt report from Human Rights Watch: "Impunity for Torture Fuels Days of Rage"


A report released by Human Rights Watch documents how Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government effectively condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officers who are accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted. HRW describes torture as "an endemic problem in Egypt." According to HRW, ending police abuse—and the cycle of impunity for those crimes—is a driving element behind the massive popular demonstrations in Egypt this past week. Snip from introduction:

'Work on Him Until He Confesses': Impunity for Torture in Egypt," documents how President Hosni Mubarak's government implicitly condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officials accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted, leaving victims without a remedy.

"Egyptians deserve a clean break from the incredibly entrenched practice of torture," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. "The Egyptian government's foul record on this issue is a huge part of what is still bringing crowds onto the streets today."

The case of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old man beaten to death by two undercover police officers on an Alexandria street in June, dominated headlines and set off demonstrations across the country. The local prosecutor initially closed an investigation and ordered Said's burial, but escalating public protests prompted the Public Prosecutor to reopen the investigation and refer it to court. "We Are All Khaled Said" is the name of the Facebook group that helped initiate the mass demonstrations on January 25, 2011.

[ Warning: disturbing content. The report contains graphic descriptions of torture. ]

Overview: Egypt: Impunity for Torture Fuels Days of Rage

Report (95 pages): "Work on Him Until He Confesses": Impunity for Torture in Egypt.The report is offered in in English and Arabic, English version of PDF here.

(via @ioerror)

Israeli Emergency Bandage

FCP_Instruct_2a.jpeg I was first introduced to the Israeli emergency bandage several years ago as a medic in Iraq. It was a huge step up from the standard military dressings that we had been issued. The old military style dressings hadn't changed since WWII and were not really effective as the canvas ties didn't always hold the dressing where you needed it. A lot of guys were using gauze pads and elastic wrap which, while better, was cumbersome. The Israeli emergency bandage was the first of a new generation of bandages that made a difference when it really counts. It combines a sterile dressing, elastic wrap and a pressure bar to make a fast and easy to use trauma bandage. The long tail can be configured in various ways to hold the bandage in place or to immobilize the limb, plus it can be configured in to an improvised tourniquet. I consider it must carry item since I can use it as a multipurpose bandage, use the tail as an "Ace" wrap for sprains or to immobilize a fracture to a splint. The bandage comes in 4" and 6" for around $5-$11 and everyone in my family has one in their car first aid kit, backpack or office. [Note: Someone over at the Cool Tools thread pointed out that NPR reported that these bandages were effectively used after the shooting in Arizona. -- OH] -- Sandy Fraser, Paramedic Israeli Emergency Bandage 4" or 6" widths $5-$11 Comment on this at Cool Tools. Or, submit a tool!

Clumsy burglar breaks into lottery kiosk

[Video Link] This fellow works hard for his money, doesn't he? (Via Cynical-C)

Fanciful zeppelins and trains

Etsy seller Gingerbees is selling prints of her late father Andrew George Brown's wonderful, fanciful steamcraft, with an emphasis on trains and zeppelins. Lovely stuff!

Gingerbees (Thanks, Wondermark, via Submitterator!)

Night of the Lil Dead: little people zombie movie with Penn Jillette, Adam Savage and more!

Ghostworks sez, "A behind the scenes look at 'Night of the Little Dead' - a short film directed by Ezekiel Zabrowski and Frank Ippolito starring Adam Savage, Penn Jillette, Bill Moseley, Aye Jaye, Erica Taylor, Gary Morgan, Martin Klebba, & James Hurley."

"Night Of The Little Dead" Behind the Scenes Trailer (Thanks, GhostWorks, via Submitterator)

Great mini-doc about Brazillian tattooist Maneko

Maneko - Mini doc from 13thUnit on Vimeo.

This is a fantastic mini-documentary (about 8 minutes) about vegan straight edge tattoo artist Maneko from Brazil. Some great thoughts about appreciating the good things in life to help you get through the bad times.

Missing: Thousands of planets


This chart was assembled from data on the incomparable Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia , maintained and curated by the astronomer Jean Schneider. It depicts the 520 exoplanets detected between 1992 and 2010, divided up by detection technique. The accompanying data sheet includes a few notes and caveats about the assumptions I used to generate the chart. There's also an interactive version available.

Finding 520 planets in less than 20 years is an impressive testament to the skill of modern-day planet-hunters. And the rapid, recent acceleration of detections suggests that the next 20 years will see several thousands of additional planets added to our catalog. But given that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone, shouldn't we actually be finding more planets?

Read the rest

Fantastic 2.5 minute documentary about motorcycle maker Shinya Kimura

Shinya Kimura's scratch built motorcycles are beautiful, and this short video profile, directed by Henrik Hansen and shot byAdam Richards, is very well made (it was was one of 5 films nominated for a 2010 Vimeo Award). I got the same feeling from watching this as I did from the short video about House Industries.

It was interesting hear Kimura say that he has never flown in a plane before! (UPDATE: He actually said he has never piloted a plane before. Thanks for the clarification, commenters!)

UPDATE: Eric Nakamura, publisher and co-editor of Giant Robot, says: "His bike that's featured in that film is showing currently in LA at a show I curated called Zen Garage."

Motorcycle maker Shinya Kimura (Via MAKE)

Hollaback: fighting street harassment, one uploaded nimrod at a time


The folks at Hollaback! came up with a novel solution for combatting public sexual harassment of women: just grab your phone, take a picture of the chump, and upload it to their site with a description of what he did and how it felt.

This public-shaming-2.0 may not be preventing a lot of jackassity quite yet, but it already has enormous healing and empowerment value to women made to feel victimized for daring to be born female. Since the original 2005 launch in NYC, local sites have sprouted worldwide, including ten new ones starting today from Buenos Aires to Houston to Prague to Mumbai, and there are even iPhone and Droid apps to expedite the Holla-ing-back.

Shinmoedake erupts: lava, ash and lightning over Japan

Lightning dances in Shinmoedake's volcanic plume, the eruption having already led Japanese authorities to call on those living nearby to evacuate. Seen from Kirishima city, the light shows last only for a few moments, but the ash and rocks fall relentlessly between the prefectures of Miyazaki and Kagoshima. One of Kirishima's many calderas, Shinmoedake is 4,662 feet tall. Photo: Minami-Nippon Shimbun

Read the rest

Math versus pirates

Although it's fallen off of the headlines lately, piracy continues to be a big problem, with an annual economic impact estimated at $10 billion. Fighting pirates after they've already attacked is only so effective. And trying to track them down and bring them to justice before a raid is next to impossible. The best solution is to just keep boats and pirates away from one another. But how? Applied mathematician James Hansen* has an idea. With the Naval Research Laboratory he's put together a computer model of pirate behavior.


The project combines data on wind, waves and currents with intelligence gathered by informants, surveillance and other means on pirate habits: how far their small skiffs can travel; their assault tactics; the timing of forays.

Running the model yields maps that show the highest-risk areas. Adding real-time information on ship traffic can identify possible pirate targets.

"It's sort of like tornado warnings," Hansen said. Everyone may know the probability of tornadoes spikes during the spring in Oklahoma. But what residents want to know is whether a twister is likely headed their way today.

The pirate model may be able to provide ship captains and security forces with that level of alert, by combining statistical odds with on-the-ground observations. Weather is clearly important to pirates, who can't operate in rough seas, Hansen pointed out. "These guys are running around in tiny ships."

Followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, rejoice!

(Via Mara Grunbaum)

*Not that James Hansen. A different one.

Belly button bacteria, in full bloom


These petri dishes are growing bacteria harvested from the belly buttons of scientists, journalists, and bloggers at the 2011 ScienceOnline Conference. It's all part of Belly Button Biodiversity, a project of researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Their goal: Introduce humans to the wildlife that's growing on us and in us. Their next sampling event—aka, your chance to see what's growing in your belly button—is February 12, at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

List of missing people in Egypt


As unrest continues to grow in Egypt, so, too, does the number of people who are missing and unaccounted for. Samer Karam and Dara Mouracade have put together a shared spreadsheet with information about missing people and when/where they were last seen (as well as links to their online profiles and accounts). If anyone has any information about these folks please reach out to Samer or Dara and help update the list, or help pass it on so that it hopefully ends up in the hands of someone who does have info.

Monday Worm-Stravaganza

Start your Monday off right, with a round-up of worm facts. From the horsehair worm to the penis worm (Don't worry, it's SFW!), you'll be introduced to a wide swath of worm-y diversity.

Egypt: "Your Weapons Are on Cairo's Streets, America"

"Most of the $1.3 billion that the U.S. annually provides to Egypt in military aid goes for weaponry to defend Egypt against foreign assault, like Patriot air-defense missiles, Multiple Launch Rocket System rocket pods and TOW anti-armor missiles. That's not particularly relevant for crowd control against protesters. But it does speak to how close the U.S. and Egyptian militaries are." (Wired Danger Room)

Astrochimp ad astra: 50th anniversary of Ham the chimpanzee's space flight


Ben Cosgrove of LIFE Magazine says,

Today, January 31, is the 50th anniversary of Ham the Astrochimp's 1961 space flight -- the first time any hominid went into space -- and this morning we published a gallery of rare and never-seen photos featuring Ham before and after his landmark achievement.

The flight was a huge coup for NASA at the very beginning of the Space Race, and Ham became something of a celebrity after his successful flight. The attached photo by LIFE's Ralph Morse, of Ham grinning widely while being carried by handlers after the flight, is perhaps the most famous picture taken of the brave chimp.

The gallery is here, and contains previously unpublished photographs of the astrochimps and their handlers, and rare LIFE pictures of Ham and his "simian cohorts."


Egypt: Al Jazeera publishing audio reports from correspondents

After crackdown by the Egyptian government, and the arrest and subsequent release of some 6 correspondents, Al Jazeera continues coverage in Egypt. This web page contains live audio updates from reporters in the field. I am in agreement with those who describe the network's outstanding performance during this news cycle as cable's "sputnik moment."

Live-blogging Egypt: "The Rebellion Grows Stronger"

"In the second day of defiance of a military curfew, more than 150,000 protesters packed into Tahrir Square Sunday to call on President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The mood was celebratory and victorious. For most, it was not a question of if, but when, Mubarak would leave." —Sharif Kouddus, in Egypt.

Egypt: 6 Al Jazeera reporters arrested by military, then released (updated)


About an hour ago, six reporters with Al Jazeera were arrested in Cairo. This follows a crackdown on the news network's operations by the Egyptian government. Al Jazeera correspondent Dan Nolan live-tweeted the group's arrest, above.

Update: Reports are now circulating that they've been released, following a request from the US State Department Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Their equipment, however, was seized and so far not returned: "We're okay, they held us for 3 hours, we've been released, took cameras, laptops and phones," tweeted Nolan.

As Jeremy Scahill just noted, times are changing: "Under Bush, the US bombed Al Jazeera's offices. Today the Obama administration calls on Egypt to free its detained journalists."

(Maybe soon, Americans will even be able to get AJE from US cable providers.)

Egypt protests reinvigorating opposition in Iran

"Egypt's uprising has captivated the Arab world, but in Iran--fresh from its own outpouring of antigovernment unrest--backers of the regime and supporters of the beleaguered opposition are competing for credit for inspiring the demonstrations in Cairo. Protests in Egypt calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak have also reinvigorated Iran's opposition, triggering calls to regroup." (WSJ, via @cfarivar)

Is There Life Out There?—The Most Thrilling Question We Can Answer


"Science—knowledge—only adds to the excitement, the mystery, and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts."

That's one of the first comments the late, great physicist Richard Feynman makes in a wide-ranging interview from the 1981 television documentary, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. I recommend you watch it, if you have the time. The title comes from Feynman's description of the visceral thrill that accompanies discovery, a thrill that intensifies in direct proportion with the discovery's profundity and certitude.

I was reminded of Feynman's documentary and quote one day in 2009, during a hike on a telescope-studded Chilean mountaintop with the astronomer Debra Fischer. Fischer is a planet-hunter, one of a handful of individuals around the globe who have discovered dozens of alien worlds, and who are bent on finding more planets like our own. She was using a telescope there to search for terrestrial planets around Alpha Centauri, the nearest neighboring stellar system to our own Sun.

Read the rest

Welcome new guest blogger, Lee Billings!


Last fall, everybody was talking about Gliese 581g—a newly discovered exoplanet, far from our own solar system, which seemed like it might be capable of supporting Life As We Know It. Media madness ensued. But, amid all the haters and hypers, I found "G Is For Goldilocks", an article written for Seed Magazine by science journalist Lee Billings.

Billings' article went beyond the headlines, describing how far-flung exoplanets are found, to begin with, and explaining the impact red dwarf stars—like Gliese 581—might have on the formation of the planets that orbit them.

It was a great, and enlightening, read. Just the kind of science journalism I like. Now, for the next two weeks, Lee will bring that style and substance to BoingBoing, blogging about exoplanets and the search for life in the Universe. In particular, he'll be filling you in on the inside scoop about newly released data from NASA's Kepler mission—an exoplanet-spotting spacecraft, looking for more places that could be "just right" for Life.

This should be an exciting two weeks. Welcome, Lee!