Boing Boing 

Car-crash-themed art show opening in NYC this Friday

Burnlab sez, "Detroit-based artist & designer Bethany Shorb's solo gallery show opening at Devotion Gallery in New York this Friday is a culmination of three years of car crash themed work [after a crash that only modern safety engineering allowed her to not to leave this world prematurely] in a variety of media - from screen printing the visages of Isadora Duncan, James Dean & Lady Di on deployed airbags, to quotes from Ballard's "Crash" assembled from car lettering scavenged from junkyards." mostly just sends elizatweets @ people you follow

replicants.jpg Replicants is a service that promises to "enhance your virtual self" by automatically tweeting stuff just like you would. I turned it on for a few hours to see what it actually does, expecting a stream of generic messages roughly aligned with my interests. What it actually does is this: send vague and overly familiar tweets @ people you follow. Neat! But yeah, turning this off now.

MySpace cost Murdoch at least $1B

Ars Technica's Anders Bylund does some guesstimating about the total losses incurred by Newscorp in their purchase of MySpace, coming up with a figure of at least $1B, including operating losses since the acquisition.
So all things considered, MySpace has cost Murdoch's empire something like $1.3 billion. Even if my assumptions are way off, the final cost can't be less than $1 billion. That fiasco isn't putting Murdoch out of business: News Corp turned a $2.9 billion dollar profit in the last four quarters and generated $2.2 billion in free cash flow, for example. But it still stings as Murdoch's dreams of an end-to-end interactive media empire falls apart. And his shareholders have been trailing the broader market as well as rivals Viacom and Disney over those five painful years.
Doing the math on News Corp.'s disastrous MySpace years

Publishing in the Internet era: connecting audiences and works

My latest Guardian column, "Publishers and the internet: a changing role?" looks at how today it's possible to "publish" a work without distributing it, without duplicating it, without doing any more than connecting a work with its audience, sometimes without knowledge (or permission) from the work's creators:
In a world in which producing a work and getting it in front of an audience member was hard, the mere fact that a book was being offered for sale to you in a reputable venue was, in and of itself, an important piece of publishing process. When a book reached a store's shelf, or a film reached a cinema's screen, or a show made it into the cable distribution system, you knew that it had been deemed valuable enough to invest with substantial resources, not least a series of legal agreements and indemnifications between various parties in the value chain. The fact that you knew about a creative work was a vote in its favour. The fact that it was available to you was a vote in its favour.

Partly, this was the imprimatur of the creator and publisher and distributor and retailer, their reputation for selecting/producing works that you enjoy. But partly it was just the implicit understanding that no company would go to all the bother of putting the work in your path unless it was reasonably certain it would recoup. So "publishing" and "printing" and "distributing" all became loosely synonymous.

After all, it was impossible to imagine that a work might be distributed without being printed, and printing things without distributing them was the exclusive purview of sad "self-publishers" who got conned by "vanity presses" into stumping up for thousands of copies of their memoirs, which would then moulder in their basements forever. But just as the internal functions of publishing were separated out at the tail of the last century, this century has seen a separation of selection, duplication, preparation and distribution. Every work on the internet can be "distributed" by being located via a search-engine without ever being selected or duplicated or prepared.

Publishers and the internet: a changing role?

YMCA commemorative table made from 100+ "significant objects"

The Dressler brothers created this amazing commemorative table for the YMCA of Canada, integrating more than 100 "significant objects" donated by nationwide YMCA associations into its design. I really dote on this kind of assemblage of sentimental stuff -- it makes the whole thing feel like the product of some kind of spell. Compare with the wonderful Six-String Nation.

Commemorative Table for YMCA Canada by Brothers Dressler (via CribCandy)

Pythons reunite for animated adaptation of Graham Chapman's Liar's Autobiography

The surviving members of Monty Python's Flying Circus have reunited to voice an animated adaptation of Graham Chapman's incredibly funny, very weird memoir A Liar's Autobiography. The film will include recordings of Chapman reading from the book as well. Regrettably, the movie will be in 3D, but with luck I'll be able to find a screen where it's showing without the need for dark, greasy, migraine-inducing prosthesis.

Monty Python members reunite for Graham Chapman film (via /.)

Designer spy-watches that shoot 720p

These new spy watches from Korean manufacturer ECWOX are capable of recording at 720p, and are waterproof. They'll be available worldwide later this year.

ECWOX release a new series of "Elegant" Spy Watch in Korea

Mobile home with a mobile lawn

Back in 1930, Modern Mechanix reported on Charles Miller, of Portland, OR, who was rambling around the nation in a homemade mobile-home that included a plot of grass from his beloved hometown.
WHEN Charles Miller, of Portland, Oregon, found the wanderlust too much for him in spite of his love for the old home, he decided to see the world and carry his home right with him, too. So he built a complete bungalow on the chassis of his car--not even forgetting to put in a nice bit of lawn. Then he started out and since starting he has traveled over 200,000 miles and isn't through yet. Mr. Miller claims to have the only motorized house and lot in the country. The "lot" consists of a narrow strip of earth and turf.
Carries Own Grass 200,000 Miles (Feb, 1930)

Odd innovations from 1960

The "It's New" section from the Jul, 1960 issue of Mechanix Illustrated featured a particularly and delightfully demented grab-bag of innovations of the day, from a French electric monorail to a gas machine of anesthetizing large mammals.
FIRST successful gas machine for anesthetizing large animals is demonstrated on nag by Dr. E. Wynn Jones. U. of Okla.

ROTOCRAFT and ducted fan test bed is flatbed trailer towed by a truck tractor at 60 mph at Cornell Aeronautical Labs.

WATER SKIS. German-made, are propelled by aquatic version of ski poles with end discs.

TIRE-INFLATING machine, a French device, above, makes certain front tires receive equal pressure--for improved steering. Two tires are connected. below, and columns of mercury show when equal pressure is obtained. Can also be used for rear set.

IT'S NEW! (Jul, 1960)

Overburdened Finnish army recruit

Redditor Oskario uploaded this image of himself, armed to the teeth and beyond ("Context: Myself in conscript training in the Finnish Army, 2007"). A top-rated comment from afnj: "You are over encumbered and can not run."

Lurker's first post. Armed to ward away the downvotes. ( (via Super Punch)

Video: Boing Boing Google+ accidental chiptunes dance party

[Video Link]

Rob, Dean and I from Boing Boing were out with various friends in Google+ video chat ("Hangout") for the first time this evening. A number of Boing Boing readers and random internet people also popped in and out of the hangout. Dannel Jurado from Etsy rocked out to some dance music. David Ulevitch from OpenDNS ran Tor. Everyone was in different cities around the US and other countries.

We are all wearing sunglasses to ensure privacy. This whole thing is very serious business.

We captured a little video, above.

Related: Here's a way to import your entire Facebook graph, if you're so inclined.

How to ensure total privacy in Google+


Wear sunglasses at all times while using it. We're all in a [hangout] right now having a transcontinental chiptunes dance party. Come join us until it breaks. We figured out how to upgrade it to 3D.

Smurfette advertising things now

HBZ-Smurfs-0811-3-mdn.jpegOh my God. If you needed final, definitive notice that The Smurfs is going to be horrifying even by the standards of 3D-animated remakes of 1980s cartoons that were not as good as you remembered anyway, here you go! Smurfette is advertising Marc Jacobs-esque fare, neither within the price range of mortals nor haute enough to be ironic or actually cool. Thank you, Harpers Bazaar and Sony! She does look pretty smurfy in Vuitton, though.

Lytro's fancy and focus-free camera explained

At The Economist, Glenn Fleishman reports on Lytro's first-to-market implementation of computational photography. The result: you can refocus the shot after taking it.
a novel approach to photographic imaging is making its way into cameras and smartphones. Computational photography, a subdiscipline of computer graphics, conjures up images rather than simply capturing them. More computer animation than pinhole camera, in other words, though using real light refracted through a lens rather than the virtual sort. The basic premise is to use multiple exposures, and even multiple lenses, to capture information from which photographs may be derived. These data contain a raft of potential pictures which software then converts into what, at first blush, looks like a conventional photo.
I still don't quite get the talk about ray tracing. The part that makes sense to me, however, seems to explain it all: the camera has a wide-open aperture and an infinite depth of field on the main optics, but a bubble-wrap like plane of different lenses in front of the sensor, which thereby ends up capturing a fly-eye myriad of differently-focused fragments of the same scene. The software assembles a final composite depending on which of these you later focus on in post. It improves upon established focus stacking techniques because every image is taken simultaneously as a single exposure, at the cost of dividing up the sensor's megapixelage between them. Something like that, anyway. I'm going to play Minecraft. Previously: Lytro promises focus-free shooting

Thaitanium: Gangsta Rap straight outta Phuket, Thailand

"What's Up," by Thaitanium. This is the country that invented Muay Thai boxing, so have no doubt that there are indeed genuine badasses among the citizenry. (thanks, Alex Ringis!)

Talking about science at Netroots Nation: Fact versus fear

There were two things I learned watching the Netroots Nation panel on Science Policy in Unexpected Places.

First, more science communication is happening, in more ways.

Read the rest

Biz Stone on Twitter's relationship with US gov: "You don't want it to look like you're in [their] pocket"

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic has a snippet of Biz Stone's talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival in which he seems to express some unease about Twitter's cozy relationship with the US State Department.
The thing we're facing now is that, you know, the State Department is suddenly really cozy with Twitter because they are like, "Oh wow, we were trying to get this done with AK-47s and you guys got it done with Tweets. Can we be friends?"

JFK runway closed due to turtles all the way down

New York's JFK airport had to shut down a runway today because more than 150 diamondback terrapin turtles were hanging out and gettin' it on.

Every Ray Harryhausen stop-motion monster ever, in one video

[Video Link]. As Mark explained in a prior BB post, "Ray Harryhausen is a stop-motion-animation wizard who is widely regarded as the master of old-school special effects."

(via Aaron-Stewart Ahn)

Brooding, beautiful black-velvet tiki paintings

Jfrancis sez, "If you've written off black velvet paintings, give these a look. The artist's handling of light and mood is excellent."

The artist in question is Robb Hamel, and I fully concur. This is the sort of thing that makes me regret not having more wall-space.

BLACK V E L V E T A R T T H A T E M B R A C E S T H E D A R K S I D E O F T I K I (Thanks, Jfrancis!)

Science-based running

Ooooh. Dave Munger, the co-founder of, has a new blog—Science-Based Running. Coverage includes topics like the connection between marathoning and heart disease, and the evidence (or lack thereof) behind ideas like carbo-loading.

Amazing trains that never were


In honor of Japan's decision to build a $100 billion maglev train from Tokyo to Osaka, the Infrastructurist blog has put together a list of ambitious train projects that were never completed. Or, in some cases, never even begun.

It's not meant as a knock against the Japanese maglev, which will (in approximately 34 years) carry passengers 320 miles in a mere 67 minutes. Instead, this is more about the way imagining what could be reminds us of what might have been. Some of the things on the list are relatively practical—like Germany's "Rail Zeppelin." Other projects are a little more, shall we say, fanciful. Like the image above, which depicts a proposed network of rail lines leading directly to St. Paul, Minnesota, from such exotic locals as London and, um, the North Pole.

Book about the cultural history of shoplifting

Here's an interesting book: The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting. Apparently, the author's previous book was about the history of striptease. Next up: Gluttony? (Via Graham Farmelo)

Archipod: prefab garden offices

I once had a job where the company, which was based in a house, built me an office in a prefab shed in the backyard. I liked it a lot, but it didn't have the pop futuristic appeal of an Archipod! But it wasn't $34,000 either.
'The Pod' is an insulated sphere of approx. 3m in diameter.

Constructed predominantly from timber, the world's most replenishable construction material, insulated to a standard exceeding that of current Building Regulations. The structure is prefabricated in sections small enough to be carried through a house. So no matter where you live, we'll be able to get the 'Pod' onto your site.

Archipod (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)

What happens when middle-aged ladies swear


A couple of years ago, some researchers at Keele University in England published a study purporting to show that swearing relieved pain. It was a small study (just 67 participants) and the explanation—that swearing perhaps triggers a fight-or-flight response from the amygdala that suppresses awareness of pain—is completely speculative.

But even if that study is right, some new research may have uncovered a flaw in the "Swear and Feel Better" plan. Swearing may deaden physical pain, but it could also deter other people from offering you emotional support. At the very least, swearing in front of other people is associated with feeling like they aren't offering you as much emotional support.

Megan Robbins and her team recorded snippets of speech from middle-aged women with rheumatoid arthritis, and others with breast cancer, and found those who swore more in the company of other people also experienced increased depression and a perceived loss of social support.

The sample sizes were small (13 women with rheumatoid arthritis and 21 women with breast cancer), but the technology was neat. The women wore "an electronically activated recorder" that periodically sampled ambient sounds, including speech. A lapel microphone recorded 50s every 18 minutes over two weekends for the arthritis sample and 50s every 9 minutes over one weekend for the breast cancer patients. Two months or four months after baseline the women repeated measures of their depression and perceived social support - the latter measured by agreement with statements like "I get sympathy and understanding from someone". The key finding is that higher rates of swearing in someone else's company, but not solitary swearing, were associated with an increase in depression symptoms and a drop in perceived social support. Moreover, statistical analysis suggested the effect of swearing on depression was mediated by the lost social support.

Of course, there could also be some socio/cultural factors at work here, too. All the participants in this study were middle-aged women. Would middle-aged men—or, for that matter, women of a younger, more-swearing-prone generation—feel the same way? There's a possibility that this study could have more to say about what middle-aged women expect from themselves, or who other people expect them to be.

Image: F bomb, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from richardsummers's photostream

Candy Crystal Skulls

From Cryptocurium, the confectioner who brought you Chocothulhu and the Lovecraft Lollipops, comes these Candy Crystal Skulls: "Each skull measures 3 1/2 inches long by 2 1/2 inches tall (about the size of a baseball) and is made of solid hard candy. Each has also been mystery flavored with six different flavor possibilities.The skull pictured has been dyed an ethereal green however custom color requests are welcome as always."


Strange lights in the sky

This amazing video was shot at an astronomical observatory in Hawaii. It's real, according to Bad Astronomy blogger Phil Plait. In fact, there's another camera that captures the same phenomenon from a different angle. So the question becomes, "What the hell is that?" Plait details a possible explanation, worked out by members of the Astronomy Picture of the Day forum.

... what leaps out is that the expanding halo is limb-brightened, like a soap bubble, and fades with time. That strongly points toward something like a sudden impulse of energy and rapid expansion of material, like an explosion of some kind. Note that the ring itself appears to be moving, as if whatever caused it was moving rapidly as well.

Asterix board member calvin 737 was the first to suggest it might be related to a Minuteman III missile launch around that time. As more people on the forum dug into it, the timing was found to be right. The missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base (in California) at 03:35 Hawaii time, just minutes before the halo was seen. I noticed the stars of Cassiopeia are visible in the webcam, so the view was to the northeast, which is the right direction to see the missile as well. OK, the timing and direction are perfect, so the rocket is clearly the culprit... but how, exactly?

[An idea posted by board member neufer] was that this was from a detonation charge in the missile's third stage. There are ports, openings in the sides of the third stage. Those ports are sealed for the flight until the right time, when they're blown open by explosive charges. This allows the fuel to escape very rapidly, extinguishing the thrust at a precise time to allow for accurate targeting of the warhead. At this point, the missile is above most of the Earth's atmosphere, essentially in space. So when that gas suddenly released from the stage expands, it blows away from the missile in a sphere. Not only that, the release is so rapid it would expand like a spherical shell -- which would look like a ring from the ground (the same way a soap bubble looks like a ring). And not only that, but the expanding gas would be moving very rapidly relative to the ground since the missile would've been moving rapidly at this point in the flight.

In his original post, Plait also explains why he thinks this is the true explanation, and why several alternate ideas don't hold up.

The Smithsonian Institution to get down, get funky

The Smithsonian has acquired Soul Train. And there's a party tomorrow night to celebrate. (Via Dr. Hypercube)

Amazon: associates program in California to be terminated (Update: Gov. signs tax law)

Amazon announced today that its Associates program is to be terminated in California, in response to a new sales tax bill there. The move appears to be pre-emptive hardball to try and avert the bill being signed into law. UPDATE: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the law. Here's the text of an open letter mailed to associates:
Hello, For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of California residents. Unfortunately, a potential new law that may be signed by Governor Brown compels us to terminate this program for California-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state. We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action. As a result, we will terminate contracts with all California residents that are participants in the Amazon Associates Program as of the date (if any) that the California law becomes effective. We will send a follow-up notice to you confirming the termination date if the California law is enacted. In the event that the California law does not become effective before September 30, 2011, we withdraw this notice. As of the termination date, California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to,, MYHABIT.COM or Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before the termination date will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of California. If you are not currently a resident of California, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state in the near future please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program. To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to California residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from,, MYHABIT.COM or We have enjoyed working with you and other California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to California residents. We are also working on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available. Regards, The Amazon Associates Team
The move follows similar shutdowns in other states, most recently Arkansas and Connecticut, where similar laws have been enacted. A similar bill is under consideration in Tennessee. California, however, is by far the largest U.S. state and represents an enormous revenue source for Amazon and associates. Headquartered in Seattle, Wa., Amazon says it should not have to collect sales tax in states where it has no physical presence. States want a cut of sales with a local connection, however, and Amazon's associates system blurs the location of economic activity in a way that looks mighty fat to the taxman. Who is making the sale? Where does the sale occur? And so on. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has called for federal legislation that determines the issue once and for all.

Copyright troll's biggest fan commits terminal irony

Sherman Frederick is a great fan of Righthaven, the copyright troll spun out of the Las Vegas Review Journal where Frederick was CEO. Righthaven isn't faring well in the courts these days, and Frederick is lashing out at critics of his cherished conceit of making a fortune suing bloggers for quoting small snippets of text.

Here's where it gets good. His extended ad hominem in the Review Journal makes extensive use of poorly cited quotations from GametimeIP, a blog that -- in Frederick's view -- supports his position. These sorts of quotations are precisely the sort of quoting that Righthaven is suing over, with one important difference.

Righthaven doesn't actually have the right to sue over quotations from the Review Journal, because, as judges have ruled, the agreement that assigns "just enough copyright" to sue people is ridiculous and has no basis in law or reality.

On the otherhand, GametimeIP's author Patrick Anderson does, in fact, hold those rights, and he's putting them up for sale. Presumably, anyone who buys them could then sue Frederick on the same grounds that Righthaven used. And if Frederick won the case, it would establish that the sort of quoting Righthaven decries is fair use. If Frederick loses, well, he loses -- DMCA damages run to $150K per act of infringement.

Frederick also believes that linking without permission is illegal. In the event that he wants to link to this post, he should be aware of our linking policy.

Righthaven Cheerleader Wanted by Irony Police