Boing Boing 

The Osmonds, slowed into Death Metal

If The Osmonds were a death metal band, "Crazy Horses" might have sounded something like this. Dangerous Minds' Marc Campbell added the visuals. "ARMAGEDDON ROCK: THE VERY METAL SOUND OF THE OSMONDS" (Thanks, Tara!)

The human cost of technology

The New York Times on the human cost of industrial accidents at Apple's foreign suppliers:

Troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.

Success brings with it responsibility, you could say, proportional to the buying power it represents. It's unfair to pin this endemic problem on Apple alone, but when Steve Jobs talked of "restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools", it invites a closer look at what happens outside of Foxconn's stage-managed tours.

In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad [NYT]

Die Antwoord gets a New York Times profile

Ninja, Yo-Landi, and their South African art/zef/rap/rave phenomenon get a NYT Magazine profile this week—complete with a portrait by legendary South African photographer Roger Ballen. (thanks, Mike Mechanic)

Watch a Mongolian family assemble their yurt in fast-forward video

[Video Link] Shot by multimedia journalist Dan Grossman, who writes:

The nomadic people of Mongolia don't stay in one place for long. That's why they live in gers (which American's know by the Russian name, yurt), a home that is fast and easy to assemble and disassemble. Putting up a ger (pronounced gair) is fast and easy, but its best done by an entire family. This ger was moved by the family of Shagdarsuren Herelchuluun, on the east side of Lake Hovsgol, in northern Mongolia, not far from the Russian border.

(via @pulitzercenter)

SFO unveils world's first (?) dedicated yoga room within an airport

Officials at San Francisco International Airport today unveiled what is said to be the first dedicated practice space for yoga in any airport, anywhere in the world. I'm not surprised to see it's in SFO's newly revamped Terminal 2, a swankily-designed space where Virgin America is based, and some really fantastic food vendors abound.

So much of the the blog/press coverage of today's SFO yoga room launch is cliché-ridden, scoffing at yoga as "woo woo" and so on. But I think it's a great, practical idea. I practice yoga, and when I'm waiting between long-haul flights in an airport, I'll often try and find a discreet, out-of-the-way spot to do a few poses before I'm crammed into my flying cattle pen. Gentle stretching and exercise before, after, or between plane flights makes good health sense.

I do hope this is the start of a trend at other airports around the world. One caveat: the idea of using their provided sticky-mats grosses me out. I'd definitely BYOM (bring your own mat).

More: SFist, MSNBC, SF Examiner, CBS.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

NASA releases "most amazing high-definition" photo of earth, from space

NASA today released a so-called 'Blue Marble' image of Earth captured by the VIIRS instrument on NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, the Suomi NPP. The composite image above "uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012." Larger sizes here (hello, new computer desktop image!)

Kim Dotcom, allegedly

This splendid work, by Aurich Lawson, is a perfect aperitif for Sean Gallagher's wonderful article about the ridiculous but astoundingly successful con artist, Quake cheat and entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

Guy who built epic "Star Trek Apartment" may lose it in divorce

Oh, this makes me so sad. Tony Alleyne, the trekkie, club DJ, and "house-modder" who redesigned his British flat to be a faithful replica of the Starship Enterprise? Looks like he may lose it in divorce proceedings. His ex owns the flat, and wants to sell it as "a conventional dwelling," according to tabloid reports.

I did a story about him for NPR way back in 2006 (MP3 Link). I remember him as one of the most cheerfully obsessed Star Trek fans I've ever met (and buddy, I've met a lot of Star Trek fans in my time).

British tabloid The Sun broke the bummer news a couple of days ago, and quoted Alleyne: "To say I'm gutted is an understatement. It is my life's work. I admit there were tears."

Alleyne estimates that redoing the project in a new apartment would cost more than USD $150K.

More from MSNBC, which also covered the tale of Alleyne's epic Trek home when it first made the internet rounds five years ago:

When msnbc TV reported on the apartment back in 2006, Alleyne was about to file for bankruptcy over the money spent on renovations, and said he had hoped to start a business transforming homes for other "Star Trek" fans. Msnbc TV did another segment on Alleyne in 2007 when he was apparently also hoping to sell the tricked-out home, which includes a mock transporter.

"Most people thought I was barmy," Alleyne said at the time. "I mean, you could go spend the time down the pub or in a nightclub or whatever ... I decided to live in a spaceship." He says on his website, which bills him as a "24th century interior designer," that he became hooked on science fiction at age 11.

Bloomberg's amazing -- and rejected -- Mitt Romney cover

It's not hard to see why Bloomberg Businessweek chose not to run with this remarkable illustration of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The creative director is Richard Turley; the rest of the design crew follows:

Creative Director: Richard Turley Design Director: Cynthia Hoffman Graphic Director: Jennifer Daniel Graphics Editor: Kenton Powell, Evan Applegate Director of Photography: David Carthas Art Director: Robert Vargas Designers: Maayan Pearl, Lee Wilson, Chandra Illick and Shawn Hasto Design Manager: Emily Anton

Compare to NYMag's latest cover, which uses the same theme, but is so crudely, cartoonishly photoshopped that it lacks the Bloomberg image's bloody impact.

[via Cover Junkie]

On fixing academic publishing

Nancy Sims, of the University of Minnesota Libraries, responds to The Atlantic's criticisms of JSTOR, an academic database that can be difficult and expensive to access: "There are things JSTOR does that I do have issues with. I wish it was doing more to provide more open access to the public domain materials it holds, for example. The JSTOR independent researcher program has all kinds of problems. But JSTOR is, for the most part, a pretty good element of the existing landscape."

Reuters' Anthony deRosa interviews tech folk at Davos (video)

There's a fun online video series at Reuters TV called "Tech Tonic" that currently features host and Twitter star @antderosa interviewing technology figures at Davos.

Minimalist superhero posters

 Images Stories 2012 Jan2011 Jan26 Minimalist-Marvel-Superhero-Posters-By-Marko-Manev-18 Ironamamama

Marko Manev creates minimalist posters celebrating Marvel superheroes. "Minimal Marvel Posters by Marko Manev" (Juxtapoz)

Sponsor Shout-Out: Watchismo

Our thanks to Watchismo for sponsoring Boing Boing Blast, our once-daily delivery of headlines by email.

Mechanical timepieces don't need to cost an arm and a leg—check out these cool and affordable Fossil mechanical watches at Watchismo. Exposed rotors, skeleton dials, 11-year warranties and prices well under $200 make these a great every addition to your watch collection. Best of all, no batteries required, ever! See all Fossil watches at Watchismo.

Roman brothel token


This coin is believed to be a "brothel token" in circulation in London during the 1st century AD. It's currently on display at the Museum of London. From the museum:

Caroline McDonald, Museum of London Curator, said: “This is the perfect archaeological object. It’s sexy and provocative in the best sense of the word. The lot of a Roman sex slave was not a happy one and objects like this can help the Museum of London provoke debates about issues that are relevant to the modern city and its visitors. Museums should engage with these more grown-up and sometimes less comfortable topics…"

If this item is indeed a brothel token, the reverse numeral may indicate the price of the service shown on the front of the token.

"Roman brothel token discovered on Thames foreshore"

Calculator determines how long it would take Mitt Romney to earn your salary

This nifty widget at will make you cry: if you're the average Boing Boing reader, this presidential candidate earns your entire year's salary in a couple days (or much less!).

"Honest" Movie posters

The Shiznit devised some "honest" movie posters for this year's Oscar awards season. I love the ones that blandly explain the poster's symbolic intent (left) but not so much the ones that explain the moviemakers' motives (right). [via This Isn't Happiness]

Justin Hardison / My Fun: lovely field recording-based ambient music

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Justin Hardison, aka My Fun, is a Brooklyn musician who uses field recording, sampling, found sounds, vinyl record cut-up/collage, and magikcal digital processing incantations to make absolutely beautiful, moody, and immersive ambient compositions. You can hear hours of his music on his SoundCloud page and purchase it from The Land Of label as digital downloads or limited handmade CD editions enhanced with books, handprinted art, and the like. His latest album, "This Is All I Had Time For," is available as a free download. Here's a taste:

Hardison says this of the album: "Free time isn't something I had a lot of this year but one of my goals this year was to release a new full-length so here is a collection of some of my favorite tracks that I've been featuring on my sound journal over the past 1-2 years."

The Land Of / Justin Hardison (Soundcloud, via @erik_davis)

The Land Of label

That's no moon. It's Newt Gingrich

BB reader Ipo sends in an illustration of future U.S. president and moon lord Newt Gingrich, based on this photo by Reuters' Eric Thayers.

Tradecraft of a "mercenary hacker" who supplies 1%ers, crooks, and jealous spouses

Gawker has a profile of "Martin," a "mercenary hacker" who provides IT security consulting to millionaires, crooks, cheating spouses (or spouses who suspect their other halves of cheating) and so on. Martin's tradecraft -- rotating SIM cards using pill-sorters labelled for each day of the week and the like -- would be moderately effective against an unskilled attacker, but it seems to me that it wouldn't survive an advanced persistent threat like a government or a major spy agency. For example, he instructs his clients to use "dumb" candybar phones instead of smartphones, which, on the surface, has some logic to it (smartphones are more complex, so they have more attack-surface). But the crypto in wireless telephony is junk, so anyone with a little smarts and the capacity to follow a recipe they find on the Internet can build interception equipment that would allow them to listen in on the calls from such a phone. On the other hand, a smartphone allows users to overlay their own, industry-grade crypto for voice and SMS communications.

Likewise, Martin has his customers rotate SIMs every day, but reuses the SIMs every 14 days. This does require adversaries to acquire fourteen times more numbers and intercept them, but that, in and of itself, is not that challenging (if you can wiretap one number, you can wiretap 14, too). Especially as the phones maintain the same IMEI -- the hardcoded serial number that is sent along with the phone signalling information, which uniquely identifies a handset regardless of what number it's using. Again, this is where a smartphone would help, as a sufficiently rooted phone can be instructed to spoof its IMEI with each call, or on some other rotating basis.

Martin also provides "search-engine optimization" -- gaming FourSquare to boost the apparent popularity of a club, gaming YouTube falsely increment the view-counter, and he'll install a keylogger on a phone or computer for you, or sell you hidden wireless mics and cameras.

With Martin's system, each crewmember gets a cell phone that operates using a prepaid SIM card; they also get a two-week plastic pill organizer filled with 14 SIM cards where the pills should be. Each SIM card, loaded with $50 worth of airtime, is attached to a different phone number and stores all contacts, text messages and call histories associated with that number, like a removable hard drive. This makes a new SIM card effectively a new phone. Every morning, each crewmember swaps out his phone's card for the card in next day's compartment in the pill organizers. After all 14 cards are used, they start over at the first one.

Of course, it would be hugely annoying for a crewmember to have to remember the others' constantly changing numbers. But he doesn't have to, thanks to the pill organizers. Martin preprograms each day's SIM card with the phone numbers the other members have that day. As long they all swap out their cards every day, the contacts in the phones stay in sync. (They never call anyone but each other on the phones.) Crewmembers will remind each other to "take their medicine," Martin said.

Not only does Martin's system make wiretapping difficult, Martin claims it can protect the group if a phone gets compromised. If authorities snatch or tap a phone from Martin's system, they'll have access to only 1/14th of the entire network. The crew can just replace their SIM cards from that day in the pill organizer, assured that the other 13 of their SIM cards are still secure

The Mercenary Techie Who Troubleshoots for Drug Dealers and Jealous Lovers (via Kottke)

Unexpected Air Guitar

From the channel of Still Waiting, an inexplicably unsigned band.

EFF and Everything is a Remix want you to ask the Copyright Office for the right to remix

Hughillustration sez, "Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, video artists who break the encryption on a DVD or sample online steaming videos could face legal threats - even if the video they create is considered fair use. We think that's nuts. Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix, is standing with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in fighting for the right to create remix videos. Please sign Kirby's letter below and stand up for the rights of video artists."

Dear Ms. Pallante,

From high school students creating videos for classroom assignments to activists and journalists sampling videos for political commentary, remix videos offer creative ways to educate, empower, entertain, and politicize people around the world.

But this creative expression is threatened by legal uncertainty. Three years go, the Copyright Office agreed to create an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so that creators could break DVD encryption to sample video clips. But that exemption is about to expire, opening up the possibility of legal threats against video artists like us.

Please defend our right to remix videos and grant the exemptions proposed. Renew the exemption that lets video artists break encryption on DVDs in order to use video clips in primarily noncommercial videos. And please go one step further and extend those rights to cover Internet videos, like paid downloads and streaming videos not available on DVD. The Internet is fast becoming the major medium for video, and video often appears on Internet services long before -- or instead of -- a DVD release...

Rip. Mix. Make. (Thanks, Hughillustration!)

Punk flyers meet Swiss modernist design

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As an ongoing design exercise, Mike Joyce combines Swiss modernism and punk/indie rock into new flyers for past concerts. Swissted (Thanks, Koshi!)

Help Imagineer Rolly Crump write his memoirs, send in your vintage Disney photos!

Jeff is helping a legendary Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump write his memoirs, and rather than wrestle with Disney archives for access to photos of Crump's work, he's hoping fans will be able to supply them.

He writes, "We need your help, oh great citizens of the Internet! I'm writing a book with former Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump, and we're looking for some old photos for it that you may have in your collection. We're looking for stuff from his time at Disney (such as Adventureland Bazaar in 1963, Tower of Four Winds, The Enchanted Tiki Room in the 60s, It's A Small World at World's Fair, The Land in 1980s) and his outside work (like Bear-y Tales at Knott's Berry Farm, Circus World, and Busch Gardens). Anything that Rolly has brought to life, we'd love to see your photos of it. We will gladly give you credit AND a signed copy of the book if we use your images!"

More Boing Boing coverage of Rolly Crump here.

We need your help! (Thanks, Jeff!)

(Image: Skull Outside Tiki Room, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from eccentricscholar's photostream)

Wi-Fi deadzones more effective at engaging student attention than pole-dancing to Toto's Take My Hand from Dune: the official soundtrack

Yale professor Alexander Nemerov found a great way to get students to pay attention: lecturing in a Wi-Fi dead zone. Glenn Fleishman, writing for The Economist:

The good professor is no Luddite. He realises that a request to turn off the hall's Wi-Fi routers during a class may meddle with other nearby needs. (And it would in any case be useless in blocking mobile 3G and 4G signals.) Some students, he concedes, clearly use the internet to enhance his lectures, looking up artwork he discusses to get a closer or different view, or taking notes. But some engage in less pertinent online activities. Dr Nemerov debated with himself whether to note the signal blockage in his course syllabus but ultimately decided to leave students to discover this for themselves.

Reminder: BoingBoing meetup in Minneapolis on Saturday

Twin Cities Boingers will be meeting up this Saturday afternoon. The meetup is ostensibly scheduled around the Art Sled Rally in Powderhorn Park, but will still happen even if there isn't enough snow on the ground for the sleds to, you know, sled.

Emily Lloyd has graciously volunteered her house, across from Powderhorn Park, as the location of the meetup. We'll meet at 3216 10th Ave South at 1:00 — BYOB and a snack to share. Then, at 2:00 (King Boreas willing) we'll cross the street to watch some awesome sledding action!

See you there!

RAW Week: "Some of this stuff might be bullshit," by Peter Bebergal

"My function is to raise the possibility, 'Hey, you know, some of this stuff might be bullshit.'" -- Robert Anton Wilson

201201241605I like to think of myself as a believing skeptic, someone who relishes in the ideas, the imagery, the arguments, the theories, and the literature of the occult and the paranormal, but accepts little of it as valid in a phenomenal sense. I love that small publishers such as Ouroboros Press and Fulgar Limited put out beautiful magical texts and that many current underground and avant garde musicians incorporate occult ideas into their work. But beyond its power as a method for art and imaging, I recognize much of the occult as woo. On the other hand, I accept that the human imagination is something magical, and very powerful and that we know little about human consciousness except how malleable it really is. It's a precarious position, however, and I often need to remind myself of smarter, more articulate thinkers who shared these views.

So it is with great respect and admiration that I celebrate the life of Robert Anton Wilson during this memorial week by remembering that he was the great believing skeptic, someone for whom the collection and curating of all that is weird was his life's work, who reminded us always to question everything, while recognizing that we should never stop exploring. I sure wish RAW was alive today, especially at a time when there is something like a real Occult Revival going on, from the psychedelic explorers who see 2012 as a great trans formative event, to the huge increase in the membership of organization like the O.T.O. and Freemasonry, and by extension a whole load of conspiracy theories. RAW warned against any idea, group, or person that claims knowledge of the "Real" Universe, echoing Umberto Eco who wrote in Foucault's Pendulum we should be mindful of turning metaphysics in mechanics.

Read the rest

Experts concerned at Big Ben's angle of dangle

Britain's Houses of Parliament, and Ben Ben, are not on entirely safe ground. The tower is visibly leaning half a meter at its spire. [Reuters]

A construction expert who worked on the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy and a multi-storey carpark under the houses of parliament in central London, said there was nothing to worry about, and it would take 10,000 years to reach an angle of concern.

The other "angle of concern" famously contemplated by the British establishment is that found in any given pornographic movie.

Mutant game controllers

Roger Ibars takes photographs of game controllers hooked up to inappropriate interfaces: "a research interest in how objects would be losing interest in interacting with the users ... where things take control of their functions and therefore use themselves." [via GamOvr]

HOWTO ditch GoDaddy

Domain registrar GoDaddy drew a lot of bad publicity for supporting SOPA, resulting in a large loss of business and a reversal on its public position. But wherever GoDaddy stands on SOPA, it remains one of the worst places in the world to host a domain. The company's terrible behavior and rotten customer service, combined with its awful, stupid, sexist ads make it a great candidate for "that company I'm so glad I'm no longer hosting my domains with."

Wired has a great HOWTO for switching away from GoDaddy to a variety of its better competitors (I use Hover).

First of all, choose your new domain name registrar and management service. There are plenty of services out there, including Hover, Ghandi, DNSimple, Namecheap and many others. Some mention a transfer fee of as much as $10 (Hover) and as little as nothing (Namecheap). In most cases that fee isn’t for the transfer itself, but for a one-year extension of the domain registration at the new service. (In Namecheap’s case, you’ll pay $4.99 for your first year of registration.) DNSimple even courts frustrated GoDaddy users with their “Goodbye GoDaddy” promotion, which offers transfer “at cost.” That means you’ll pay whatever GoDaddy was charging you, starting at $8.50 per year.

Most of these companies have their own articles that explain how transfer domains to their service. The directions are essentially the same, but each site presents them differently. Some have short directions without screen shots, others get into more detail and provide images for every step. For the noobs out there, the screen shots are very helpful.

Break Your GoDaddy Dependency

Groupon rapped for selling snake oil

Snake with thought bubble, Shutterstock

Britain's Advertising Standards Agency has banned Groupon from marketing snake oil.

An internet sales promotion for "Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum" promised to "reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles" and "tackle the signs of ageing." When challenged, Groupon claimed that the claims refer only to the "sensory and/or temporary effects of the product's application". The ASA ruled that they were "misleading and could not be substantiated," and could not be made again. It also ordered Groupon not to make future efficacy claims without substantiation.

The product, sold in lipstick-sized containers for £119($170), is advertised online with even more fanciful language: "Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum, uses a combination of oxygen and a formula replicating the Temple Viper’s venom to inhibit muscle contractions therefore reducing wrinkles."

Such products may fail science class, but are not without advocates. Britain's highly-respected Daily Mail newspaper described the creams as "the latest antidote to wrinkles" in an unbylined report whose primary source was a manager at a department store that sells them.