Boing Boing 

Saif Gadaffi promises guns and reinforcements to murderous militias

In this video, Saif Gadaffi (the "liberal" Gadaffi scion to whom the London School of Economics awarded a PhD for a plagiarized thesis on soft power and democracy) is seen promising weapons and reinforcements to the militia forces who have been brutally slaughtering peaceful protesters in Libya.

Saif Gaddafi Exposed [ENGLISH SUBTITLES] (via Reddit)

Minecraft papercraft

Character designer Tubbypaws has fallen down the Minecraft productivity singularity and has emerged bearing a downloadable, printable, buildable Minecraft papercraft design for your delectation.
I would of released this a while ago but i was busy playing the blocky block game and i got lost looking for diamonds then i heard a noise and got scared but it was just a cat outside so it was ok
Minecraft papercraft (via Super Punch)

Massey Energy exec charged with lying to FBI in coal mine blast investigation

The Washington Post reports that Hughie Elbert Stover, chief of security at the Upper Big Branch mine and at two other Massey Energy subsidiaries, has been charged with lying to the FBI and obstructing justice in the investigation of the West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 29 miners. These are the first criminal charges in connection with the worst U.S. mining accident in 40 years.

Dr. Oz helps a lady overcome an unusual phobia

[Video link] (Boing Boing Video's YouTube) In this morning's episode of Dr. Oz, he and a phobia expert helped a young lady overcome her irrational fear of a very unusual creepy crawly.

Dear Oprah: Some thoughts on your credibility.

shutterstock_40765456.jpg (Image: Shutterstock) Now that we're half way through the university semester, I'm finding myself inundated with a lot of marking. Sometimes, I try to tackle this work at home, but being the skilled procrastinator that I am, this will inadvertently lead me into the land of daytime television. It was here the other day that I caught a few minutes of Oprah, and noted that in that short timeframe, I found my reaction changing from a sort of admiration to a feeling best described as a prolonged wince. The reason for this abrupt change of heart was essentially the appearance of Jenny McCarthy in what looked like a correspondence role - she of the celebrity ilk, noteworthy for being a very powerful advocate of some very shaky medical advice. I won't go into too much detail here about her travails, since they've been covered extensively here at Boingboing and elsewhere in the media, but suffice to say, both the medical and scientific communities overwhelmingly take issue with her claims regarding linkage between the MMR vaccine and Autism. Indeed, her opinion has not changed, despite recent studies that showed that much of the data in the Wakefield paper (the scientific article that laid the media groundwork for this linkage) was actually fraudulent in nature.

Read the rest

Julian Assange™

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault, has applied to trademark his name, the Guardian reports:

The 39-year-old computer hacker - who will shortly be extradited to Sweden to contest the charges unless he wins an appeal on Thursday, 3 March - wants to protect his name for use in "public speaking services" and "entertainment services", it has emerged. Assange becomes the latest high-profile figure seeking to trademark his name. Sarah Palin, who famously likened Assange to an al-Qaida operative, has applied for similar protection for both herself and her daughter, Bristol Palin. Assange applied for the trademark on 14 February through his London-based law firm Finers Stephens Innocent. If granted, he will own the trademark to his name for the purposes of "news reporter services", "journalism", "publication of texts other than publicity texts" and "education services".
(via BB Submitterator, thanks Andy Booth)

Photo: Toby Melville / Reuters

Libya: conflict extends to hospitals


Image: People burn pictures of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi inside the main prison of Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi February 28, 2011. Foreign powers accelerated efforts to help oust Gaddafi on Monday as rebels fought government forces trying to take back strategic coastal cities on either side of the capital Tripoli. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

Al Jazeera reports that In Tripoli, Pro-Gaddafi militia members are harrassing doctors, removing the bodies of people killed in political violence, and prohibiting doctors from taking photographs of their wounds.

Alia (not her real name), a doctor in the capital, said a patient was brought into her hospital yesterday with a gunshot wound to his chest. He expired after ten minutes, and his body was taken away by armed men wearing the characteristic green armband of pro-Gaddafi supporters.

"When they die, they don't let people come near them, [because] they don't want people taking pictures/videos," Alia said.

In related news, the international humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports that a first team of medical staff was able to cross the Egyptian border into Libya, on the eastern side of the country, and reach the town of Benghazi. Since Friday, the MSF team has been assessing the situation in three area hospitals.

Read the rest

Husqvarna Hatchet

husqvarna.jpeg I've had this little hatchet for a few weeks now. Seldom have I had a tool give me so much pleasure. I love to look at it as it sits by the fireplace. It makes me happy. And using it is a whole other hatchet experience - it's razor sharp and cuts beautifully. It makes me want to split wood or sharpen stakes. Hey, I think I need to trim the branches on that dead oak I'm about to cut up for firewood. Once in a while, a tool has just got it. It's hand forged of Swedish steel (not made in China, by golly) by Husqvarna, the chain saw guys. This is on the smaller side of a hatchet, but they also make a larger version. The Husqvarna holds its edge well, and I don't think I'll need to sharpen it for awhile. All my hatchets up to now have been clunkers compared to this (other than my shingling hatchet, which is specially designed for shaking and shingling). --Lloyd Kahn Husqvarna Hatchet $40 Don't forget to comment over at Cool Tools. And remember to submit a tool!

Wisconsin Capitol illegally closed to newcomers

It's illegal to block public access to the Wisconsin State Capitol Building (See Article I, §4), but it appears that Governor Scott Walker is attempting to do that, anyway. Today, the Capitol has been closed to any protesters who didn't spend last night inside. Authorities say they won't let any new protesters in until everyone left inside leaves. When Rep. Kelda Helen Roys refused to show ID, she wasn't allowed in, either. The Governor is giving a speech tonight on his budget proposals, and I'm certain that has absolutely nothing to do with the timing of this lockdown.

Trailer for upcoming iOS game: Superbrothers' Sword & Sworcery

[Video Link]

Superbrothers' Sword & Sworcery looks like a cool game for the iPad. Another video here. (Via baibai_matane)

Ebook readers' bill of rights

LibraryGoblin sez, "The Librarian in Black, Sarah Houghton-Jan, has posted this call for basic e-book user's rights. She's released it into the public domain and is encouraging people to spread it as far and wide as possible. Enough of anti-user DRM and licensing!"
Every eBook user should have the following rights:

* the right to use eBooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
* the right to access eBooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
* the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share eBook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
* the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the eBook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased eBooks

I believe in the free market of information and ideas.

I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can flourish when their works are readily available on the widest range of media. I believe that authors, writers, and publishers can thrive when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access, annotate, and share with other readers, helping this content find new audiences and markets. I believe that eBook purchasers should enjoy the rights of the first-sale doctrine because eBooks are part of the greater cultural cornerstone of literacy, education, and information access.

This is great stuff. My only quibble is with "ebook user" rather than "ebook reader" -- a reader is so much more noble a beast than a mere user.

The eBook User's Bill of Rights (Thanks, LibraryGoblin, via Submitterator!)

The fish pedicure: a foot-holder's-eye view

Had a long layover in the Singapore airport the other day. What to do? Why, I visited the Fish Spa, of course, where for just S$30 (about US$23) I could let hundreds of hungry doctor fish feast on my dead skin cells while I filmed the results and tried not to freak out.

I've only had one human-hands pedicure for comparison. This was every bit as efficient.  And way, way ookier.

Name this piece of historic lab equipment

thingamawatzit.jpg

Do you know what this is?

Science blogger Southern Fried Scientist found it in a cabinet in his laboratory. It's got a motor, which turns some kind of centrifuge, and a set of optical lenses, which appear to be focused on the center of the centrifuge drum. It's made out of Bakelite and steel, and the older scientists in his lab agree that it's probably early 20th century vintage. Whatever it is.

One final clue, two patent numbers that are written on a plaque which also identifies Bausch & Lomb as the makers of the optics—# 1,648,369 and # 1,907,803.

What do you think, Boingers?

Alan Dean Foster: Predators I Have Known - Orinoco crocodile

predators-i-have-known.jpg orinoco-crocodile.jpg

Crocodiles. Even when someone tries to make them look funny, as in the Disney version of Peter Pan, they still come off as menacing. Nothing looks more like a carnivorous dinosaur than a crocodile. Then there's their demeanor: they just lie around literally like logs, soaking up the sun, until they're ready to assassinate something. Sharks get all the bad press, but on three continents crocodiles kill people every year: Asia, Africa, and that no-so-safe-as-the-tourism-authority-would-like-you-to-believe land, Australia.

No wonder they live a long a time. Except for eating and reproducing, all they do is eat and swim. Sounds like some ex-neighbors of ours.

The history and inner workings of propaganda

Propagandacritic.com is a fascinating site dedicated to explaining what makes propaganda propaganda, and getting people to think critically about the messages they see. It's run by Aaron Delwiche, a professor of communications at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

The koala says ...

Friendly_Male_Koala.jpg

So. That's the sound a koala makes. Huh.

It's not really very cute, is it?

But it does get the job done. Specifically, this is the call of the horny male koala—and this sound is such an effective mating technique that simply hearing it can cause female koalas to go into heat. (Insert your own Koala Justin Bieber joke here.) Scienceline explains the importance of koala "bellowing":

The timbre of a koala's bellow seems to have something to do with its size, age and androgen (a sex hormone) concentration. Older males bellow more, bigger males bellow longer, and those with more androgen have deeper bellows. One study found that when the male koala is 2-4 years older than the female, the mating is more likely to be successful, leading some to suggest that females use male calls to gage their relative sexiness.

Via Bora Zivkovik

Image courtesy Wikipedia user Quartl, via CC

The strange story of a scientist killed by the Plague

Doktorschnabel_430px.jpg

On September 13, 2009, Malcolm Casadaban, a University of Chicago professor of genetics and cell biology, was taken by ambulance to a hospital and died just a few hours later. Cause of death: The Plague, with a capital P.

Casadaban had been working with Plague bacteria as part of his research, but, despite that fact, this wasn't an open-and-shut case. Casadaban's bacteria were genetically modified, weakened so they couldn't infect humans. Scientists have been handling this sort of wishy-washy Plague for decades, without much incident. Until Casdaban, no-one had ever been killed by lab-acquired Plague. In fact, 1959 was the last time lab Plague had even made anyone sick.

The Centers for Disease Control wanted to know what made Casadaban different. And this is where the story gets weird. Turns out, Casadaban had his own weakness—a genetic mutation, common in people of European descent. In fact, this particular mutation is common because it protects against naturally acquired strains of the Plague. If your ancestors lived through a Plague outbreak, you're more likely to carry it. But, the same mutation also seems to leave you particularly susceptible to weakened, laboratory Plague bacteria.

An autopsy found the researcher had a medical condition called hemochromatosis, which causes an excessive buildup of iron in the body, according to the CDC report. The disorder affects about 1 in 400 people and goes unnoticed in about half of patients.

Casadaban's illness is important because of the way the plague bacterium had been weakened. Yersinia pestis needs iron to survive. Normally it gets this iron by stealing it from a host's body with proteins that bind to it and help break it down. To make the bacterium harmless, scientists genetically stripped it of the proteins needed to consume iron.

"It's like having a lion, where we took out all its teeth and all its claws," Alexander said. "But in the case of Dr. Casadaban, the lion didn't even need to have teeth. There was so much iron that it was freely available and easy to get."

The hemochromatosis that contributed to Casadaban's fate has been credited with protecting people from strains of plague that circulate in the wild. Sharon Moalem, an evolutionary biologist and author of "Survival of the Sickest," posited that the disorder shifts iron from certain white blood cells, where it is typically sought by the plague bacterium.

Bloomberg: Plague death came within hours, spurred by scientist's medical condition

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Fatal laboratory-acquired infection with an attenuated Yersinia pestis strain—Chicago, Illinois, 2009