CES vs SOPA

Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro, at his CES keynote: "[SOPA is championed by] politicians who are proudly unfamiliar with how the internet works, but who are well familiar with favors from well-heeled copyright extremists." (via Reddit)

Study raises new concerns about safety of genetically modified food

A study at Nanjing University in China found that ingested "microRNA" (very small pieces of ribonucleic acid, or RNA) from plants were able to survive digestion and influence the function of human cells.

Food columnist Ari Levaux has a piece digging into the implications, in The Atlantic. The basic idea: if this research stands up to the rigors of scientific scrutiny, it could prove that when we eat food, we consume not just fuel and nutrients, but information that changes us on a cellular level, and influences health.

Snip:

Monsanto's website states, "There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans." This viewpoint, while good for business, is built on an understanding of genetics circa 1950. It follows what's called the "Central Dogma" (PDF) of genetics, which postulates a one-way chain of command between DNA and the cells DNA governs.

The Central Dogma resembles the process of ordering a pizza. The DNA knows what kind of pizza it wants, and orders it. The RNA is the order slip, which communicates the specifics of the pizza to the cook. The finished and delivered pizza is analogous to the protein that DNA codes for.

We've known for years that the Central Dogma, though basically correct, is overly simplistic. For example: Pieces of microRNA that don't code for anything, pizza or otherwise, can travel among cells and influence their activities in many other ways. So while the DNA is ordering pizza, it's also bombarding the pizzeria with unrelated RNA messages that can cancel a cheese delivery, pay the dishwasher nine million dollars, or email the secret sauce recipe to WikiLeaks.

Monsanto's claim that human toxicology tests are unwarranted is based on the doctrine of "substantial equivalence." This term is used around the world as the basis of regulations designed to facilitate the rapid commercialization of genetically engineered foods, by sparing them from extensive safety testing.

via The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods - The Atlantic. You'll also want to read the actual study, and make up your own mind.

Update: Here's a critical take on the linked-to Atlantic piece. Ari responds here.

(via @coopportunity)

Utah AG publishes pro-SOPA op-ed with uncited quotations from MPAA promotional materials

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's recent op-ed in the Salt Lake City Tribune is full of quotes and paraphrases from promotional materials produced by the MPAA and execs from its member-companies in support of SOPA. This uncited quotation is the kind of thing that academics call cheating, and that the MPAA (incorrectly) calls "copyright theft."

“Congress can make a significant contribution to that effort with legislation to strengthen law enforcement tools. In the interests of American citizens and businesses, it is time for Congress to enact rogue sites legislation.”

The sentence above is copied from a pro-COICA column (bottom paragraph) written by Mike McCurry, co-chairman of the pro-copyright outfit Arts+Labs. At the time, McCurry’s piece was praised by pro-copyright lobby groups and in his writing McCurry also uses the previously mentioned sentence from the MPAA’s former president.

But there’s more. The column from McCurry, which is often quoted by the MPAA and affiliated groups such as FightOnlineTheft, displays more similarities with the article published by Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Perhaps he's just experiencing the ecstasy of influence.

‘Rogue’ Attorney General Spreads MPAA-Fed SOPA Propaganda

Videogame for pigs and people


This is Pig Chase, a concept for an interspecies video game for pigs to play with humans. Researchers at Wageningen University and the Utrecht School of the Arts designed the game to make farm life more stimulating for swine. "Playing With Pigs project page"

"Pigs Playing Video Games = Ethical Farming?" (Mother Jones)

Last year's list of evil clowns

Over at Copycat Effect, Loren Coleman shares his list of "Top Ten Evil Clowns of 2011." Seen here is Andrew Joseph Davis, 20, who was arrested in May for running down a person with his car.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2012 01 Hn88Uy-Rqug Tc12Cft2Xli Aaaaaaaaaye To943Ju3Cho S1600 Andrewjosephdavis

Police were called after eyewitnesses saw a driver wearing the distinctive face paint swerve across the road near Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and hit a pedestrian before accelerating. Nearby residents reported that the two men in the black-colored sedan shouted "Woop! Woop!" as they zoomed away from the scene.

"Top Ten Evil Clowns of 2011"

Liquid-piston-driven concept watch

Watchismo gives us an early look at Vincent Perriard & Co's HYT H1, a concept watch starting at $45,000 that will debut at the Baselworld 2012 show. It uses liquid-driven pistons as well as gears to tell the time. I am agog.

Pistons in the movement move the bellows. As one expands the other one compresses which moves the green Fluorescein liquid. Fluorescein even has applications in forensics to detect latent blood stains but this is likely a first and only use in horology!

Sneak Peek to Baselworld 2012 - HYT H1 - the first timepiece ever to combine mechanical and liquid engineering.

Handmade TARDIS purse


Etsy seller LIMOchi makes these killer "poly leather" TARDIS purses to order for all your time-travelling bits and bobs. The seller claims that they are, indeed, bigger on the inside than they are on the outside.

( Not an official Doctor Who product , made by fan, to fan )... Measures: 28 x 16 x16 cm In blue poly leather and rigid cardboard. Also some details can be custom made. Sent in a beautiful box DW themed.

TARDIS purse in poly leather (via Neatorama)

Vintage aluminum label-embosser kicks your labelwriter's ass


Make's Sean Michael Ragan reviews an old-school Dymo Metal Embossing Tapewriter he found cheap on eBay and finds it to be an eminently satisfying piece of kit. There are modern versions but they'll cost you lots more, and this thing is pretty much indestructible so there's no reason not to buy a cheapo one on eBay.

But in terms of construction quality and durability, the Tapewriter is as far removed from those cheap plastic embossers as a Mercedes is from a Kia. It’s 10″ long, weighs almost two pounds, and is made almost entirely from cast aluminum, with steel fittings here and there, and all held together with machine screws. The only polymer in the thing, as far as I can tell, is a rubber friction coating on the internal tape drive wheels...

Embossed aluminum is pretty much the ultimate labeling material. Without wanting to be morbid, there is a reason why military services around the world choose it for personnel identification tags. Secured with mechanical fasteners, instead of adhesives, an embossed aluminum label will stand up for years against water, extremes of heat and cold, prolonged direct sunlight, and any organic solvent you care to throw at it. This is a true “industrial-grade” labeling tool, and if you can snag a used one for a reasonable price, you can expect a lifetime of use from it.

Tool Review: Dymo Metal Embossing Tapewriter

The Midnight Archive: Occult NYC, part 2

Part two of the mini-documentary on the historical occult underbelly of NYC is now online at The Midnight Archive. In this episode, former BB guestblogger Mitch Horowitz, author of the terrific Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, hips us to Theosophical Society founder Madame Blavatsky's midtown Salon and the mystic side of Gran Central Station.

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Use Your Republican Decoder Badge To Find Out Their SECRET MESSAGES!

RECOMMEND: Visit the Tom the Dancing Bug website, and follow Ruben Bolling on Twitter.

Read the rest

HOWTO move a makerspace

Makerspaces are pretty gnarly, filled with unwieldy equipment, fragile projects-in-progress, glorious fire hazards, and delicate instruments. Moving a makerspace sounds like a nightmare. MAKE's guide to moving a makerspace, penned by the Jigsaw Renaissance members after their last move, is a great place to start when your hackspace loses its lease or outgrows its boundaries.

Purge. No really. This is the best time to throw everything out. Yes, we know it might be useful at some point. Some tips: if it’s not slated for a specific project, toss it. Is the object of high value? Calculate your cost/sqft of space, including utilities. Is it worth the space it takes up?

Layout. Have an idea of where things go – this will help you with your purging process.

Insurance. Just like your landlord, find an insurance agent who “gets it” or at least gives you a confused smile. Talk to them about why you do what you do. Use terms like “community workshop” and “clubhouse for geeks.” Words like “hacker,” “fire,” “high voltage” might set them running. And yes, you do need insurance.

Moving Your Makerspace

RAW Week: Keep the Lasagna Flying, by Paul Krassner

201201050912 Wilson and Krassner Display Maturity . . . Maybe

Most likely your daily newspaper didn't acknowledge the death of Robert Anton Wilson on January 11, 2007. He was 74. The prolific author and countercultural icon had been suffering from post-polio syndrome. Caregivers read all of his late wife Arlen's poetry to him at his bedside and e-mailed me that "He was quite cheered up by the time we left. He definitely needed to die. His body was turning on him in ways that would not allow him to rest."

In his final blog entry on January 6, Wilson wrote: "I don't see how to take death seriously. I look forward without dogmatic optimism, but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying." Actually, it was expected that he would die seven months earlier. On June 19, 2006, he sent this haiku (with one syllable missing) to his electronic cabal:

Well what do you know?
Another day has passed
and I'm still not not.

We originally became friends in 1959, when his first published article graced the cover of The Realist. It was titled "The Semantics of God," and he suggested that "The Believer had better face himself and ask squarely: Do I literally believe that 'God' has a penis? If the answer is no, then it seems only logical to drop the ridiculous practice of referring to 'God' as 'he.'" Wilson then began writing a regular column, "Negative Thinking."

In 1964, I ran another front-cover story by him, "Timothy Leary and His Psychological H-Bomb," which began: "The future may decide that the two greatest thinkers of the 20th Century were Albert Einstein, who showed how to create atomic fission in the physical world, and Timothy Leary, who showed how to create atomic fission in the psychological world. The latter discovery may be more important than the former; there are some reasons for thinking that it was made necessary by the former. Leary may have shown how our habits of thought can be changed."

Read the rest of "Keep the Lasagna Flying"

MPAA lobby group plagiarizes anti-PIPA group's email

Public Knowledge, a public interest group fighting SOPA and PIPA, believes that its email to supporters has been plagiarized by its rivals, Creative America, an MPAA-funded astroturf group that lobbies in favor of PIPA. The copyright lobby sent a note to supporters that had a number of similarities (including word-for-word lifts) to a Public Knowledge email sent four days earlier. It's all fair use, of course, but then again, the MPAA claims that fair use isn't a right, and that no one should rely on it, and that anyone who wants to quote someone else should always get permission.
Rob

Android dock charges, plays music, controls all music apps for many phones and connectors, without an app


This "first ever" Android speaker dock does some pretty clever mojo to get compatibility with a wide variety of Android shapes, connectors, and OSes without sacrificing useful functions.

JoeBorn from Neuros sez, "The dock charges via USB and gets sound from the headphone jack. Licensing beta technology from Sonr it also uses the headphone jack for data, allowing the remote control (and dock buttons) to control all your music apps (Pandora, Google Music, Amazon Cloud, etc). No app necessary if you’re content charging and controlling the device from the touch screen. Compatible with virtually all recent Android phones, the dock is shipping on Thursday the 12th. Thinkgeek is accepting pre-orders on a first-come, first-served basis until then."

This is pretty much my bedside holy grail. I'm going to try to get hold of one and review it.

Android Speaker Dock with Remote