Boing Boing 

Interview with The Lizardman

Happy mutant Erik "Lizardman" Sprague, who I'm proud to say is an active member of the BB community, was immortalized in a wax figure unveiled last weekend at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square Odditorium. I was delighted to see a new video interview with Erik on Huffpost Weird News. Bummer that HuffPo won't provide an embed link, but you can go here to see it: "Erik "The Lizard Man" Sprague at HuffPost Weird News"

Looking for a journalism job? AP's hiring for North Korea bureau

Who says good jobs in the news biz are hard to find? A post in Pyongyang sounds like a rip-roarin' good time.

Audio: Blagojevich trying to sell Obama's senate seat

Blago Audio: Barack Obama's senate seat is "a valuable thing - you don't just give it away for nothing."

Report: MySpace sold for $35 million. Did that include Tila Tequila?

All Things D reports that News Corp has sold MySpace to advertising network Specific Media for $35 million.
The price is well below the $100 million that News Corp. had been hoping for and a chasm away from its one-time billion valuation.

The deal includes a halfing of Myspace's staff of 400, as well as other cost cuts. It's likely Myspace CEO Mike Jones and other top staff will remain only for an interim period.

News Corp. bought Myspace for $580 in 2005, and made that back via a lucrative advertising deal with Google when the social networking site was flying high.

Nina Paley's Attribution Song - the difference between copying and plagiarism

Nina Paley's latest meme-y video, "Credit is Due (The Attribution Song)" is a great, provocative one-minute short on the value of correctly attributing work when you use it. Paley is a thoughtful copyright abolitionist, and she uses this song to talk about the difference between plagiarism (a kind of fraud) and copying (the basis for culture).

In the accompanying essay, Paley cops to the complexity of "always giving credit," and discusses the difficulty of exhaustively crediting everyone who's made a contribution to your work:

Attribution is a way to help your neighbor. You share not only the work, but information about the work that helps them pursue their own research and maybe find more works to enjoy. How much one is expected to help their neighbor is determined by (often unspoken) community standards. People who don't help their neighbors tend to be disliked. And those who go out of their way to deceive and defraud their neighbors - i.e. plagiarists - are hated and shunned. Plagiarism doesn't affect works - works don't have feelings, and what is done to one copy has no effect on other copies. Plagiarism affects communities, and it is consideration for such that determines where attribution is appropriate.

At least that's the best I can come up with right now. Attribution is actually a very complicated concept; if you have more ideas about it, please share.

Credit is Due (The Attribution Song) (via Command Line)

Will 'bionic bodies' offer high-tech hope to the disabled?

PBS NewsHour has a new piece by Miles O'Brien on the latest in bionics, and how new technologies are extending physical and sensory capacities for people with serious disabilities— and changing lives.

The segment includes a visit with Segway inventor and bionics designer Dean Kamen (shown with Miles, at left); an exoskeleton test-drive at Berkeley Bionics; a chat with World Wide Mind
author Michael Chorost; and a run through Central Park with double amputee, fashion model, and former Gizmodo guest-editor Aimee Mullins.

Read the transcript here, and watch the video here at, or here on YouTube.

(thanks, Kate Tobin!)

Jill Miller's Milk Truck: ice cream truck converted to breastfeeding station

Jill Miller, the provocative performance artist behind Waiting For Bigfoot and The Cupcake Project is hoping to convert an ice cream truck into a mobile public breastfeeding shelter. With a huge breast mounted on top. She's launched a Kickstarter effort to fund the project in time for the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial at the Andy Warhold Museum in September. From the project page:
Yes, we will buy an ice cream truck and attach a giant boob to the top! Yes, we will become superhero-like in our vigilant support of nursing mothers! And yes, we take our mission very seriously. But we know (from being mothers, perhaps) that words are most effective when accompanied by a friendly smile and a wink...

We're tired of hearing stories about women being asked to leave restaurants or "cover up" with a blanket while doing something as simple as feeding a baby. But we're not the type to complain; we're the type to take action. Which leads us to...The Milk Truck.

When a woman finds herself in a situation where she is discouraged, harassed, or unwelcome to breastfeed her baby in public, she summons The Milk Truck. The truck arrives to the location of the woman in need and provides her with a shelter for feeding her baby. The woman feeds her child, the shopkeeper who harassed her feels like a dweeb, and the truck does what it does best - creates a spectacle. (Which is, incidentally, the very thing that the shopkeeper thought he was trying to avoid. Alas, some people have to learn the hard way.)

"The Milk Truck" by Jill Miller

Pizzanomics: What's the link between cost of a NYC slice and cost of subway ride?

[video link]

Internets Celebrities, starring Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, is my new favorite internet video series. You'll see these guys on the Boing Boing Video in-flight television channel on Virgin America starting next month. Their latest episode explores the connection between the cost of a slice of pizza in New York City, and the cost of an MTA subway token. From the video description:

In 1980, New Yorker Eric Bram noticed that for twenty years the price of a subway token had tended to match the price of a slice of pizza. Thirty years later, his hypothesis still holds true. The question we wanted answered is WHY. Are the MTA and the various supposedly independent pizza shops involved in collusion - or who's taking their pricing cues from who? And what about the dollar pizza spots that have been popping up all over Manhattan recently -- could these be predicting a lower cost transit authority appearing in our future?
Directed by Casimir Nozkowski, Edited by Corinne Maro, Original Music by Bless 1, Producers: Robin Oye, Jesse Wilson, Cornelius van Gorkom.

(thanks, Jesse Thorn!)

What's wrong with saying "fanboy"

Admonitory words from Cennydd Bowles on "fanboy," which I'll cop to having uttered now and again: "The word 'fanboy' bites into the world's greatest values - loyalty, enthusiasm, passion, and love - and spits them out as sneering, spiteful dismissal. A word for the intellectually impotent." (via Making Light)

Peek-a-Boo nudie beer glasses

From Collector's Weekly, an appreciation for the "peek-a-boo" beer glass with a decal of a clothed woman on the outside, and a matching "nude" (but draped) decal on the inside. My grandfather's rec-room bar had these along with many wondrous novelty decanters, serried ranks of bowling trophies, a mirrored back, glass shelves, and a gigantic, inflatable Canadian Club bottle.
Some of these glasses were called "peek-a-boos" and featured a clothed pin-up image on the front, usually a decal, although some were hand-painted. On the back side of the decal, the idealized woman would be depicted in sexy lingerie or plain naked. Her state of undress would increase as you drank. Other "nudie glasses" were known as "mystics" because the white chemical used for the lady's clothing would seem to disappear when touched by condensation; when a beverage was poured into a glass, the naked woman underneath would be revealed.

As Stan tells it, such glasses were produced and sold as early as the 1920s, but it wasn't until the '40s that they really took off. "During World War II, they literally exploded because men were going out to war. The home folks thought that they needed a morale boost, so they sent them girlie glasses," he says. "They became huge during that time. You can tell because, in the Johnson Smith catalog from '37, there was only a little tiny ad for girlie glasses, probably an eighth of the page. By '41, when we got into the war, it was a full-page ad."

Girlie Glasses: A Peep Show With Your Beer (via Neatorama)

Tabloid celebrates Diana centenary, 2061

thetab.jpeg Previously: Newsweek ages Diana to 50 in ultimate photoshop disaster

Steampunk pirate ship needs your dough

Andy sez, "A group of dedicated, hard working engineer-artists need your help putting the final touches on a unique land-sailing, steampunkish pirate ship, homeport Portland, Oregon, USA. Built from scratch, the C.S.Tere is constructed from 80% reused/recycled materials and fittings and has provided an opportunity for her makers to share their individual technical and artistic knowledge and skills with each other and their supporters."

HOWTO make a 555 chip footstool

The good folks at Evil Mad Scientist Labs created this footstall in the form of an old-school 555 chip, and were kind enough to produce a HOWTO so you can make your own:
The paint was applied in several layers. First we applied a gray primer coat over the whole chip. We then painted the top and bottom of the main body black.

To get the markings on the top, we use a laser engraver to ablate the top layer of black paint, revealing the gray primer below. We then masked off the "black" areas of the body very carefully before painting the legs silver. Once that was all dry, we finished off with a layer of "frosty" matte clear spray paint over the entire surface, giving a better appearance to both the silver and black areas, as well as protecting the engraved area on the top.

555 Footstool (via Neatorama)

Why writers should have their own domains

Great, sage advice from John Scalzi about why a writer might want to pay to register a domain in the era of Facebook:
So, let's go back to 1998. You're a new writer and you want to establish a permanent residency online. Which would be wiser: Having your own site at your own domain, or putting up a site at GeoCities?

It's 2001, same drill: Which is wiser: Having your own domain, or creating a site on AOL servers?

2003: Your own domain, or a Friendster page?

2007: Your own domain, or a MySpace page?

(Hindsight is a useful thing.)

And now it's 2011 and the choice is one's own domain or a page on Facebook. Guess which I think you should do.

I agree with everything he says right up to the point where he recommends getting a Facebook page too. Not because it might not be good for your career, but because I think it's an ugly, stupid service designed to teach you to systematically undervalue your privacy.

Mastering One's Own Domain, and No, This is Not a Seinfeld Reference

Google's semi-annual transparency report: government takedown requests for 2010

Google's semi-annual Transparency Report features detailed analysis and statistics for government takedown requests, broken down by nation. From this, I learned that Brazil's government sends more Google takedowns than anywhere else, thanks to the combination of a national election and the popularity of Orkut, Google's social networking service.

India's government generates the largest number of bogus takedowns. 88 percent of Indian government takedown requests to Google are denied: "We received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states. We did not comply with these requests."

Meanwhile, the UK leads the world in the volume of materials taken down: 93,518 removals in 2010, "The UK's Office of Fair Trading requested the removal of fraudulent ads that linked to scams. We complied with the request and removed 93,360 items in total."

Government Requests - Google Transparency Report (via Ars Technica)

Band Exposé wins ownership of trademark from do-nothing promoters

3273-1.jpegThe band Exposé, founded in the 1980s, was conceived of by promoters. The performers--Jeanette Jurado, Anne Curless, Kelly Moneymaker and Gioia Bruno--despite having frequently signed contracts that explicitly agreed they did not own the trademark, nevertheless managed to win rights to it in a recent lawsuit. How?

First, the production company and its successors were never able to register the trademark. You don't have to do this, but it helps in court. Secondly, however, the court chose to apply a test rather than simply rubber-stamp the contracts: who established what qualities and characteristics the trademark represents, and who actually controls them here? From this test, it found that the actual band, rather than a promoter with no creative involvement for 25 years, was represented by the trademark: "the [band members] were the product denoted by the Exposé mark and owned the goodwill associated with the mark."

IP lawyer Pamela Chestak, writer of the excellent Property, Intangible blog, is uneasy about the outcome:

Wow. So apparently in the 11th Circuit a private agreement doesn't matter; rather, the actual ownership has to be manifested publicly. I'm not saying the outcome is wrong - band names are a different world when it comes to trademark ownership, because the members are often so strongly identified with the public image of the band. But I would have liked a little more compelling reason for why the court felt that the contracts, as well as the defendants' belief that they needed a license, could just be ignored.

I vaguely know about the "use it or lose it" element to trademark ownership that seems to be the underlying principle at play here. Perhaps someone can explain it in more depth why this case is unusual. The idea that adhesive contracts backed by the threat of litigation aren't enough--that owning a trademark may be subjected to legal tests of continued use, public manifestation, etc--seems a good one!

Crystal Entertainement & Filmworks, Inc. v. Jurado [11th Circuit Court of Appeals]

How to Steal a Trademark [Property, Intangible]

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Judge Scalia Rescues His Faithful Sidekick From a Nefarious Attack!

Read the rest

Penguin kids' classic audiobook ads

Malaysia's Y&R agency created these fantastic "ear worm" ads for a line of Penguin kids' classic audiobooks. I love the combination of kids' book illustration with anatomical detail and a Penguin-Classic-esque layout and colour scheme. That said, I'd avoid the digital download versions of these audiobooks like infectious material, as they appear to be poisoned with some species of DRM requiring you to use "Ingram Audio Manager," a bit of proprietary crashware. I'll stick with buying and ripping the CDs.

Penguin Books: The Wizard Of Oz

Penguin Books: The Jungle Book

Penguin Books: The Pied Piper Of Hamelin

(via Street Anatomy)

Chinese government photoshop disaster goes viral

A crummy government photoshop propaganda disaster in China has turned into a meme among Chinese netizens, who are furiously remixing three enthusiastic government officials into all manner of situations:
On the evening of June 26, an Internet user made a post titled "Too fake: the propaganda photo for our county" at the Tianya Forum. "I had nothing to do today so I visited the website for our county government. The headline story was about the upgrade for the road to the countryside. I looked at the photo and I almost coughed out half a liter of blood! Even a rank amateur like myself can tell that this was a PhotoShop job, and they had the nerve to put this on the home page!" The post included a screen capture of a photo, in which three men were "floating" over a road. There were clear indications that this was a composite job. According to the caption: "County mayor Li Ningyi and vice-mayor Tang Xiaobing are inspecting the newly constructed country road at Lihong Town." This post drew plenty of readers, and the Huili County Government website was even down for a while because of the heavy traffic volume.

On the afternoon of June 27, our reader interviewed the Huili County Government publicity department director Zhang Yongzhi. According to Zhang, several county leaders went out to inspect the road. An accompanying worker took some photos for the record. But when it came to posting onto the website, the worker decided that "the background of the original photo did not look very good" so a decision was made to crop the leaders onto a different background. The Huili County Government has removed all relevant information and reprimanded the worker who handled the photo. The Huili County Government issued an apology at the Tianya Forum and the Weibo.

These are just a smattering of the remixes collected at EastSouthWestNorth; click through below for the full set.

The Three Levitating Government Officials

Newsweek ages Diana to 50 in ultimate photoshop disaster

diana50.jpeg It is "rather jarring," writes Matt Donnelly of the LA Times.

Tool Dots: Adhesive-backed rare-earth magnets for tool organization

Jeff sez, "We'd put tools into the tool drawer but they'd never come out. Other tool storage systems didn't suit us, so we created the Tool Dot. A tiny, powerful, magnetic tool holder that you stick to walls and other vertical surfaces to store tools in any arrangement you want."

I do a similar thing -- overlay little rare-earth magnets with Sugru and stick 'em to the wall. It's lumpier, but more colorful. Chacun son gout!

Tool Dot (Thanks, Jeff!)

New Mexico fire threatens Los Alamos nuclear site


(Image: Fire 27 June 2011 268, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from losalamosnatlab's photostream)

Christian Science Monitor: "For the second time in 11 years, a New Mexico fire is threatening one of the nation's three nuclear-weapons laboratories, as well as the town that hosts it."

But don't worry, there are only 20,000 barrels of plutonium waste at the facility, and at the time of this blog posts, the fire is a full two miles away from the site where they're stored.

AP: "Lab personnel are monitoring the air for radionuclides and particulate matter."

An announcement on the home page of Los Alamos National Laboratories: "Laboratory to remain closed Wednesday, June 29. Only employees on an essential-duties access list will be permitted back onto Laboratory property during the closure, as notified by their line management. All others are urged to remain off-site until facilities have been safely reopened."

Young female journalist "embeds" as cosplay maid to cover anime convention

cosplay32.jpg"I was at Katsucon, a Washington, D.C. convention that caters to fans of Japanese animation. The restaurant I was working at was inspired by the “maid cafes” of Tokyo, where people can have a meal served to them by a cute young girl in a costume. The cafe organizers were worried that having a student journalist trailing the maids would be distracting. But if that journalist was also a maid, they had no problem."

24-year-old Lauren Rae Orsini, guestblogging at Susannah Breslin's Forbes column.

Digging up Shakespeare's remains for drug testing?

Did Shakespeare smoke weed? University of the Witwatersrand anthropologist Francis Thackeray thinks he did. He'd like a chance to prove that, and also learn more about the Bard's life and death, by digging up his body. (Maybe they'll also determine if Shakespeare was Shakespeare, but that's another story.) In 2001, Thackeray and his colleagues unearthed pipes in Shakespeare's garden that tested positive for marijuana, cocaine, and other substances. From RAW Story:
 Wikipedia Commons A A2 Shakespeare "We have incredible techniques," Thackeray told Fox News. "We don't intend to move the remains at all..."

"The pipes we tested still had dirt in them which preserved the residues inside the stem and bowl," Van der Merwe said. "The readings we got were the same as if it had tested a modern-day crack pipe."

Camphor, myristic acid, and quinoline were among other substances detected in the pipes.

"Myristic acid, which is found in nutmeg, has hallucinogenic properties, and camphor, perhaps, was used to hide the smell of tobacco or other substances," Thackeray noted in 2001.

"Scientists want to dig up Shakespeare to find out if he smoked weed" (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Robot armpit

Kevin Grennan created this Robot Armpit prototype. There's more good stuff about his work with robots that smell scary in this We Make Money Not Art interview and profile, in honor of The Smell of Control: Fear, Focus, Trust, which deals with smell and robotics.
It was important to me that the odours and chemicals came from within the robots and that they were an integrated means for them to communicate with the humans who would surround them. Each robot that I have augmented with a 'sweat gland' emits a particular chemical that has a specific effect on humans and the chemical has been chosen to further enable the robot's primary function.

In the case of the bomb disposal robot the 'sweat gland' releases the smell of human fear. It has been proven that humans can identify this specific smell and it tends to enhance cognitive performance in. I propose that this robot would enable surrounding humans to work more effectively and to differentiate dangerous situations from false alarms.

In the case of the picker robot. It releases a chemical called androstadienone, which is found in male sweat. This has be shown in research to effect mood in females under certain circumstances. I have speculated that this robot when used on a production line could enhance the performance of female employees in it's vicinity.

Prototype Robot Armpit (via JWZ)

Alien wedding cake

This HR Giger/Alien wedding cake from Jet City Cakes in Kirkland, WA, is bursting with delightfulness!

H.R. Giger Cake (Thanks, RickKleffel!)

Billy Ripken's Fuck Face baseball card

I don't give a damn about sports, but I do love this kinda thing. In 1989, Fleer Corporation released this baseball card for Baltimore Orioles player Billy Ripken. Ooops. From Wikipedia:
 Wp-Content Uploads 2011 05 Billy Ripkin Fuck Fleer subsequently rushed to correct the error, and in their haste, released versions in which the text was scrawled over with a marker, whited out with correction fluid, and also airbrushed. On the final, corrected version, Fleer obscured the offensive words with a black box (this was the version included in all factory sets). Both the original card and many of the corrected versions have become collector's items as a result. There are at least ten different variations of this card. As of February 2009 the white out version has a book value of $120.[5]

Years later, Ripken admitted to having written the expletive on the bat; however, he claimed he did it to distinguish it as a batting practice bat, and did not intend to use it for the card. In the same letter, he expressed the opinion that Fleer was well aware of the obscenity, and not only retained but made it even clearer, hoping to benefit from the publicity the card would no doubt receive.

Modern Man has some more baseball card funnies: "12 Hilarious Old Baseball Cards" (Thanks, Vann Hall!)

Google launches Facebook competitor Google+

Google today launched a social network: Google+. The emphasis in launch PR seems to be on user privacy, and controlling who you share what with.

China: Artist and dissident Ai Weiwei freed, but must pay 1.85 million

The dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is out of detention, but must pay the government $1.85 million in "back taxes and fines."

Congress now able to use Skype, Oovoo for videoconferencing, dickpic-sharing

On the official Skype blog today, news that "The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Administration announced that they will open up the world of Skype communications to Members of Congress and their staff. (...) Skype's engineers worked closely with the Congressional network security team to ensure that Skype is used safely for official business." Oh, I bet. Competitor Oovoo also got the green light.