Mayor, er, King Bloomberg announces that NYPD is his Army

"I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world."—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Read the rest

German man sues Pope for violating seatbelt laws by standing and waving from popemobile

A German man is suing the Pope for violating seatbelt laws on his visit to Dortmund by standing up in the back of the popemobile and waving (rather than remaining seated and buckled in, as the law apparently requires).

Sundermann's client surely does not have standing to sue to enforce the seatbelt law, and even if he did the Papst would have diplomatic immunity as a head of state. Sundermann has apparently suggested that because the defendant is still a German citizen, that wouldn't apply, but that is another argument he would lose. Sundermann has also said, unsurprisingly, that the suit is intended to increase public awareness of the seatbelt law, and is not actually "an attack on the Church." Hope God feels the same way, because a false lawsuit against the Pope is probably an Eighth Circle offense, I would guess. I know that seems harsh but I don't make the rules.

Pope Sued

(Image: 041908 166, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from dougtone's photostream) Read the rest

Wall Street Journal reports LAPD made payments to Occupy LA protesters

Well, not exactly. But, "disburse" was an interesting choice of verbs in that there headline up there.

(thanks, Alec MacKaye!) Read the rest

Review of Mint app for iPad

Over at, I reviewed the new Mint app for iPad.

I’ve been a user of Mint, a personal finance website, for several years, and it has become an essential tool for keeping track of my expenses and organizing information that my accountant needs to prepare my income taxes. The great thing about Mint is the way it pulls data from my checking account, savings accounts, stock brokerages, and credit cards and creates attractive and easy to understand reports and graphs. It’s so much easier to use than Quicken, which I struggled with for over 15 years. As soon as I started using Mint, I zapped Quicken from my hard drive, vowing never to use it again. (I got nervous when I learned that Intuit, the company that publishes Quicken, purchased Mint, but so far Intuit has not mucked with the elegance of Mint.)

Shortly after the iPhone was introduced, Mint created an app for it. And like the Web version, the iPhone app was very useful at providing a snapshot of my income, expenses, and financial status. I didn’t think Mint could get much better, but in October the company created an iPad version (which is free, like all versions of Mint) and it is the best way yet to take stock of your personal finances.

Read the rest Read the rest

New video of incredible model railroad in Hamburg: Miniatur Wunderland

[Video Link] Theresa Schuette of Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg says:

The brand new video about the largest model railway of the world is online as of today. Our miniature landscape is worth 15.000.000 Euro and it’s being visited by up to 10,000 people on a daily basis. This video depicts our miniature world in a spectacular way: a tilt-shift video all without tilt-shift!

Here, a few facts about Wunderland: Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world. With almost 1,200,000 visitors per year it is one of the three most successful exhibitions in Germany. On our layout 13 km railway tracks were installed, 215,000 figurines were glued by hand, 300,000 mini LEDs were placed in and onto buildings, cars, aircrafts, or ships.

Miniatur Wunderland Read the rest

Expressive octopus-with-lanterns statue

The expressive insouciance of the tentacles are what really make this wonderful lantern-bearing-octopus sculpture by Scott Musgrove.

Scott Musgrove (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Build notes for a tiny house

Caleb says: "I blogged almost every detail of building a small green tiny-ish house to rent out in our backyard where our garage once was. It even includes a public Google spreadsheet of our costs." Read the rest

TED2012 Fellowship applications open

This is a great opportunity for creative people from around the world to present their work. I've met a few TED Fellows and they are some of the most interesting people I know.

TED Fellows is an international fellowship program designed to nurture great ideas and help them spread around the world. Each year, we select a group of 40 individuals who show world-changing potential, inviting them to participate in either the TED or TEDGlobal Conference. At the end of the year, we select 10 of these Fellows to participate in an extended two-year Senior Fellowship, bringing them to five consecutive conferences. The principal goal of the program is to empower the Fellows to effectively communicate their work to the world.

The TED Fellows program focuses on attracting applicants living or working in five parts of the globe: the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East, with consideration given to applicants from the rest of the world. (Applicants must be proficient in English.) The program seeks remarkable thinkers and doers who have shown unusual accomplishment, exceptional courage, moral imagination, and the potential to effect positive change in their respective fields. The program focuses on innovators in technology, entertainment, design, science, film, art, music, entrepreneurship, and the NGO community, among other fields.

As part of the Fellowship, TEDGlobal 2012 Fellows receive conference admission, round-trip transportation, and full accommodation for TEDGlobal 2012, June 25– June 29. Fellows also participate in a three-day pre-conference where they present a short talk about their work, which will be considered for

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Gingerbread AT-AT

This gingerbread AT-AT Walker is on display at Orange County's Discovery Science Museum. It's the creation of Black Market Bakery, and a fine addition to the AT-AT remixes we've featured over the years.

Another view of the AT-AT of gingerbread at the Discovery Science Museum... (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Terry Gilliam: the difference between Kubrick (great filmmaker) and Spielberg (less so)

[Video Link]

Mike Springer from Open Culture says:

Terry Gilliam has never tried to hide his feelings about Hollywood. “It’s an abominable place,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “If there was an Old Testamental God, he would do his job and wipe the place out. The only bad thing is that some really good restaurants would go up as well.”

One thing that bothers Gilliam about Hollywood is the pressure it exerts on filmmakers to resolve their stories into happy endings. In this interesting clip from an interview he did a few years ago with Turner Classic Movies, Gilliam makes his point by comparing the work of Steven Spielberg–perhaps the quintessential Hollywood director–with that of Stanley Kubrick, who, like Gilliam, steered clear of Hollywood and lived a life of exile in England. Kubrick refused to pander to our desire for emotional reassurance. “The great filmmakers,” says Gilliam, “make you go home and think about it.”

Terry Gilliam criticizes Spielberg and Schindler's List Read the rest

Afri-Cola commercial (1968)

[Video Link] Here's the video of a 1968 TV commercial for Afri-Cola that Cory wrote about in 2005. Love the soundtrack!

(Via Cynical-C) Read the rest

Fun paper puzzle

Futility Closet showed me how "University of Toronto math professor Ed Barbeau can take a rectangular piece of paper and, using only a pair of scissors, produce the object pictured above." Can you figure out how it's done? If you give up, here's the answer.

Read the rest

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Hollingsworth Hound and the American Dream of Upward Mobility

Visit the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE, for carefully constructed humor pieces, crucial information and thought-provoking essays, and follow RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER for bursts of blurted inanity and embarrassing admissions made while inebriated. Read the rest

Serge Gainsbourg's African-inspired "New York USA"

[video link]

Here's Serge Gainsbourg in a 1964 music video for "New York USA," a track from his excellent concept album "Gainsbourg Percussions." The album, recorded with French jazz star Alain Gouraguer, melded Gainsbourg's French lounge style with Latin and African drumming. (This number appropriates the African standard "Akiwowo.") "Gainsbourg Percussions" was recently remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl by the excellent 4 Men With Beards label.

"Gainsbourg Percussions" Read the rest

Short documentary about computer generative art

[Video Link] Rusty Blazenhoff of Laughing Squid says:

Off Book | Generative Art – Computers, Data, and Humanity is the latest short web documentary from the ongoing PBS Arts series that explores the fascinating joint computer and human art creation practice known as generative art. This episode of Off Book speaks with generative composer Luke Dubois, generative artist Scott Draves and game designer Will Wright about their experiences and thoughts with making this unique art form.

Off Book | Generative Art - Computers, Data, and Humanity | PBS Arts Read the rest

Google implements "forward secrecy" in its encrypted traffic, releases improvements to SSL library for all to use

Google has changed its procedures to enable "forward secrecy" by default on all its search-traffic. This means that part of the key needed to decrypt the traffic is never stored, so that in the event that there is a security breach at Google, older, intercepted traffic can't be descrambled. It's the absolute best practice for secure communications, and Google is to be commended for adopting it.

Other web sites have implemented HTTPS with forward secrecy before — we have it enabled by default on — but it hasn’t yet been rolled out on a site of Google’s scale. Some sites have publicly resisted implementing forward secrecy because it is more CPU intensive than standard HTTP or HTTPS. In order to address that problem, Google made improvements to the open source OpenSSL library, and has incorporated those changes into the library for anybody to use.

Forward secrecy is an important step forward for web privacy, and we encourage sites, big and small, to follow Google’s lead in enabling it!

Long Term Privacy with Forward Secrecy Read the rest

San Diego police arrest congressional candidate for voter registration in Civic Center Plaza

Democratic congressional candidate Ray Lutz was arrested for registering voters in San Diego's public Freedom Plaza (AKA Civic Center Plaza), where the local Occupy protest has taken place. The San Diego police arrested Mr Lutz for trespassing and confiscated his voter registration forms.

I've been skeptical of the "this is what democracy looks like" slogan (since mostly, democracy looks like boring things like long meetings, constituency consultations, and voter booths). But by any measure, registering voters in a civic square is assuredly "what democracy looks like." And arresting people who register voters? Well, that's something else altogether.

Ray Lutz being arrested at Freedom Plaza - Occupy San Diego Read the rest

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