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How to: Use a squat toilet

In 2007, my husband and I were privileged enough to take a month off and travel around Europe. Given that we spent most of our time in Western Europe, there really wasn't a whole lot of cultural confusion, with a few notable exceptions*. Chief among them, the squat toilets we stumbled across at a very inconvenient moment in Italy. "Inconvenient moment" here defined as "actually having to use the bathroom."

My friend Frank Bures is a travel writer and he understands the squat toilet problem all too well. Frank is, after all, somebody who has traveled extensively in places where squat is all you got. In a piece from 2006, he shares some hard-earned advice on squat toilets. How I wish I had read this before my venturing into small towns in coastal Italy.

Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth is probably the world’s foremost expert on excretion, a real Buddha of Bowel Movements, and she’s not afraid to get into the details. “My technique when I’m teaching volunteers about to go abroad,” said the author of How to Shit Around the World from her UK office, “is that when you’re learning, you need to take everything off below your waist: socks, shoes, pants, underwear. Then squat over the toilet. Pour water over your bum, and with your left hand, just whittle away with your fingers and try to dislodge any lumpy bits while pouring water. And that’s actually not too unaesthetic, because any mess that goes onto your fingers comes off in the water.”

What to do: Most important: Cultivate the right mindset. Relax, pretend like you’ve been doing this for years. Remember, using your hand is (according Wilson-Howarth) actually more hygienic, not less, than using toilet paper. “You get good bacteriological cleaning with just rubbing your hands together with soap under running water four times,” she says, and cites a study which says you don’t even need soap. “It can be ash or mud, just rubbing your hands together under water with some kind of washing agent. Even dirt from the river bank will give you good bacteriological cleaning.”

Read the rest at WorldHum

*Another notable exception: Andouillette sausage is not the same thing as andouille. You've been warned.

Image: Squat toilet, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from jiahungli's photostream

Creeptastic video of Bolaj Badejo rehearsing in his Alien mask

Deeply creepy test footage from Alien (1979) of alien actor Bolaji Badejo slithering around The Nostromo in a prototype costume head. Posts one YouTube commenter: "movie about a tall skinny black serial killer in space that wears an oblong black mask would be awesome"

The Jacksons' "Can You Feel It?"

Michael Jackson died three years ago today. Above, the epic psychedelic video for The Jacksons' "Can You Feel It?" from their 1980 album Triumph. The video was conceived by Michael Jackson and developed by Robert Abel, known for his pioneering "photo-fusion" animations that you can read about over at Dangerous Minds. Narration by Word Jazz poet Ken Nordine!

HOPE speaker lineup

2600's Emmanuel Goldstein sez, "The HOPE Number Nine speaker schedule is out - over 100 talks on a whole variety of subjects. This conference in particular shows how much the hacker community has evolved over the decades. There are talks on the Arab Spring, protecting anonymity, fighting surveillance, artistic expression, encryption, lockpicking, activism, pirate radio, etc., plus all of the latest security exploits and open source inventions. Of the nine HOPE conferences so far, this one seems to have the most diverse group of people participating from all around the world, bringing with them some really interesting topics and ideas, and, as a result, expanding tremendously what we consider to be the world of hackers."

Cat playing guitar interrupted by earthquake

[Video Link] A cat named Steven was playing guitar when an earthquake struck in Melbourne, Australia last week, causing it to stop for a moment.

(Via Arbroath)

Supremes rule on Arizona immigration law, campaign spending, life in jail for children

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States:

Killed most of Arizona's hated immigration act—but will still allow police to check immigration status while enforcing other laws. [CNN]

Struck down a Montana law that limited corporate campaign spending. Corporations are people, my friend. [CBS]

• Ruled that states cannot require children convicted of murder to serve their entire lives in jail without parole. [USA Today]

Landing on Mars: seven minutes of TERROR!

JPL's video demonstrating the engineering challenges in the precise timing of the descent of a human-crewed Mars lander is nail-biting territory. There's a reason they call the landing "seven minutes of terror."

Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Gweek 056: Kevin Kelly's Silver Cord

Click here to play this episode. (Link has been updated to point to correct episode!) Gweek is a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.Read the rest

Beware of attack birds

 2E269B5Abe3711E192E91231381B3D7A 7 I spotted this somewhat disconcerting sign at a playground yesterday. (BTW, I've starting playing with Instagram. If you care to follow, I'm @pescovitz)

Camera Comics of the 1940s

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Camera Comics was published in the 1940s by the US Camera Publishing Company to spur excitement among youngsters around amateur photography. Along with the exciting tales of Kid Click, Linda Lens, and Jim Lane, Insurance Investigator, the comics also included HOWTO projects, like the above "Make A Pistol Grip For Your Camera." Camera Comics (accidental mysteries)

Canadian fed court: linking isn't copyright infringement, neither is excerpting an article

Michael Geist sez,

The Federal Court of Canada has issued an important decision involving copyright and posting content online. The case involves a lawsuit launched by Richard Warman and the National Post against Mark and Constance Fournier, who run the FreeDominion website. Warman and the National Post sued the site over the appearance of two articles and an inline link to photograph that appeared on the forum. The court dismissed all three claims.

While the first claim (Warman's article) was dismissed on the basis that it took too long to file the lawsuit, the legal analysis on the National Post claim involving an article by Jonathan Kay assesses the copyright implications of posting several paragraphs from an article online. In this case, the article was 11 paragraphs long. The reproduction on the Free Dominion site included the headline, three complete paragraphs and part of a fourth. The court ruled that this amount of copying did not constitute a "substantial part" of the work and therefore there was no infringement. The court added that in the alternative, the reproduction of the work was covered by fair dealing, concluding that a large and liberal interpretation of news reporting would include posts to the discussion forum. The decision then includes an analysis of the six factor test and concludes that the use was fair.

The third claim involved a link to a photograph posted on the photographer's site. The court had no trouble concluding that the link was not copyright infringement, rightly noting that the photographer authorized the communication of the work by posting it on his website. This finding should put an end to claims that linking to copyright materials somehow raises potential legal risks. The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled against attributing defamation to such links and now the Federal Court has concluded that links cannot be said to constitute unauthorized copying.

Cdn Fed Court Says No Copyright Infringement For Linking, Posting Several Paragraphs from Article

Gentleman plays with cigarette lighter while pumping gas

[Video Link] Faced with the prospect having to wait a minute or more while his tank was being filled, this gas station customer amused himself by playing with his cigarette lighter. His boredom was successfully alleviated and he was able to demonstrate his car door jumping skills to an admiring YouTube audience.

(Via Geekologie)

Tim Mullen, collector of deeply weird antique machines

Our friends at The Midnight Archive visited Tim Mullen, a New York City-based engineer with a mind-blowing collection of strange and beautiful machines, from antique x-ray devices to a huge hair dryer to a funeral fan with illuminated religious figures.

Successful Drawing, an instructional art book by Andrew Loomis


Successful Drawing Front CoverAndrew Loomis was an American illustrator whose work appeared in many magazines in the mid-20th century. In addition to his beautiful editorial work for magazines, Loomis also wrote and illustrated a half dozen or so instructional drawing books, and for the last 30 years or so they've been in great demand, even though they've been out of print.

But recently Titan Books has been republishing high-quality and very affordable facsimiles of Loomis' books. Here's my review of Figure Drawing for All It's Worth and Drawing the Heads and Hands.

The most recent Loomis reprint is called Successful Drawing. Even though it's probably my least favorite of the three Loomis titles reprinted so far, the lessons on shading, perspective, and proportion are much better than most contemporary instructional art books.

More images after the jump.

Read the rest

Easter Island statues walked?

It's long been a mystery how the residents of Easter Island moved the iconic moai statues from the volcano quarry where they carved them to the statues' permanent locations up to 11 miles away. Now, archaeologists suggest that they many not have needed rollers, the basis of one common theory. Rather, the moai may have been engineered for easy tilting so they could have been "walked" to their destinations. "Easter Island Mystery Solved? New Theory Says Giant Statues Rocked"

What your tennis shirt says about you

Fred Perry and Lacoste are fashion businesses built around superficially similar shirts emerging from the elite Wimbledon tennis tournament. How did one come to exemplify working class cool, and the other upper-crust privilege? [The Awl}

Edible shotgun shells

If you're planning a shotgun-themed wedding, then Etsy seller MysticLair's edible shotgun shell cake-toppers might just be the thing for you. Also potentially useful for adapting in a shotgun-themed rendition of the oft-fatal "bullet-catch" conjurer's trick.

Shotgun Shells Edible Grooms Cake Topper Fondant gumpaste TWO (via Neatorama)