Boing Boing 

Sky News bans reporters from retweeting from "professional" accounts

Sky News has issued guidance to its reporters on their Twitter use. Under the new policy, Sky reporters are prohibited from retweeting from rival journalists and the public (though they are allowed to retweet each other). They are also not allowed to tweet about subjects that aren't their beat. Finally, they're prohibited from "personal" tweets in their professional accounts. The leaked memo describes the rubric for this as "ensur[ing] that our journalism is joined up across platforms, there is sufficient editorial control of stories reported by Sky News journalists and that the news desks remain the central hub for information going out on all our stories."

Sky News has cultivated a reputation for digital innovation and has used Twitter to break news on events including the Arab Spring uprising and England riots. Journalists at the broadcaster expressed shock and dismay at the new guidelines, which they claim are a retrograde step.

...[The memo] added that "on a number of occasions" those guidelines have been flouted "resulting in us running different information on Twitter other Sky platforms or the news desks learning from Twitter details that should have been first passed on to them".

Sky News clamps down on Twitter use (via Memex 1.1)

The making of a kid's app: Counting Box Pro

Last week, Tom Klimchak emailed me with a link to a counting box app he made for his son. He said he'd been inspired by Cory's post about Nathan's beautiful wooden cased Kid's Counting Box (above), so I asked Tom to write about how he developed the app and the things he learned while developing it. Here's his excellent essay -- Mark

Last summer I read about Nathan's Kid's Counting Box (above) on Boing Boing and MAKE at about the same time I was teaching myself how to create iPhone apps. I'd bought myself a Mac for Father's Day a few months before and I had a bunch of ideas for little apps and was trying to decide which to start when I read about the electronic counting box.

There was something completely captivating about a beautifully crafted wooden box that uses a bright electronic display for such a simple and pure purpose as adding or subtracting one number to another. That being said, I think I would have ignored the Counting Box article if not for the impressive looking craftsmanship. It would never have caught my attention if it was just an LED display in a plastic project box, but the wood surface with the rounded joints just captured my imagination.

I was one of those kids that loved to press the equal sign on the calculator over and over, watching the total slowly grow larger. My own 4-year-old son is the same way. As much as I loved the idea of making a Counting Box of my own I knew that my electronic and woodshop skills really weren't up to par for such an ambitious project.

I showed the box to my son and he said it looked "cool" and that put the gears in motion. I pieced together a simple little app in about 10 minutes that would add 1 or subtract 1 from a total and handed the iPhone to my son. He immediately grasped the concept and began hitting the green button like crazy, being fascinated whenever the leading digit changed. He was still playing and asking questions about the numbers 20 minutes later, so I figured it was something worth pursuing.

It was a neat little app, but it didn't have the same feel of wonder as a real wood Counting Box that you can hold in your hand. So I started working on the graphics. I originally tried a brushed steel background, but it looked like a weird alien calculator. I went back to the wood box theme.

Read the rest

Three Tibetan herders burn themselves alive in protest

The crisis among ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan Province continues: "three livestock herders set themselves on fire to protest what they saw as political and religious repression at the hands of the Chinese authorities," reports the New York Times, bringing the total number of such self-immolations over the past year to 19, "an unprecedented wave of self-inflicted violence among the tiny ethnic minority in China."

New Yorker long-read on gay student who killed himself after his roommate webcam-spied on him

"That September, Tyler Clementi and Ravi were freshman roommates at Rutgers University, in a dormitory three miles from the courtroom. A few weeks into the semester, Ravi and another new student, Molly Wei, used a webcam to secretly watch Clementi in an embrace with a young man. Ravi gossiped about him on Twitter: 'I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.' Two days later, Ravi tried to set up another viewing. The day after that, Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge." From The Story of a Suicide, in the New Yorker.

"What breast cancer is, and is not"

[Video Link]

The Komen kerfuffle that inspired this video may soon pass from the headlines, but for people living with the disease, breast cancer—and the fight for dignity, survival, and a cure— is forever. I now count myself among them.

I watched this video many times this weekend, while recovering from the most recent round of chemotherapy. The video was created by Linda Burger, identified in various news accounts as a 56-year-old woman who lives in Las Vegas, NV.

"Linda in Las Vegas," you are my hero. Thank you.

Why is it more interesting to spend an evening with this book than a beautiful woman?

Screen Shot 2012-02-07 At 3.38.44 Pm

(Via This isn't Happiness)

Apps for Kids interview

201202071532 Libsyn kindly featured Apps for Kids as its "Rockin' New Podcast" of the week, and interviewed me about it.

Why did you start podcasting?

I started Apps for Kids because my 8-year-old daughter Jane and I like to play games on the iPhone and iPad together. We have a lot of fun checking out new apps, and then seeing if we can beat each other's high scores. My friends who have kids of their own were always asking Jane and me what apps they should download, and so I thought maybe we should share that advice to a larger audience. So we started Apps for Kids, and people seem to really like it
Rockin' New libsyn Podcasts: Apps For Kids

The Amish Project

[Video Link] A young man disconnects from the "cloud" for 90 days, on a mission to reboot his connection with the world and the people he loves in it. (via Joe Sabia)

Black atheist group calls for ‘Day Of Solidarity’ during Black history month

[Video Link]

Members of the Black skeptics organization African Americans For Humanism (AAH) are planning events on Feb. 26 in six major U.S. cities, "targeting African-Americans who have privately or openly questioned their faith." The group holds religion responsible for “many of the problems plaguing the African American community” and promotes “rational and scientific methods of inquiry” that include “positive thinking, the sharing of ideas, and enlightened self-interest.”

Errol Morris' short documentary about the five-time champion of the Philadelphia Wing Bowl eating competition

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A double treat from Errol Morris: a short video documentary about a man who calls himself the Wingador, the five-time champion of the Philadelphia Wing Bowl eating competition, and an accompanying essay about Morris' fascination with "champion eaters."

I have been fascinated by champion eaters for over 30 years.

When I was in Berkeley, Calif., in the 1970s I made a pilgrimage to Oakland to visit Eddie Miller, known as Bozo, the world champion chicken-eater. Bozo was in the Guinness World Records book for eating 27 two-pound roast chickens in one sitting. A remarkable feat of gluttony. I remember trying to tell my friend Alice Waters about Bozo, and she clamped her hands over her ears and said, “I just can’t listen to this kind of thing. It’s against everything I stand for.”

Bozo reminded me of Kafka’s Hunger Artist — except in his case it wasn’t fasting, it was the exact opposite. Also, I loved the fact that Bozo called his daughters Cooky, Candy and Honey, and that there was a framed cross-stitched sampler next to his front door that read, “NOTHING EXCEEDS LIKE EXCESS.”

El Wingador

Die Antwoord on Letterman (and Letterman on Die Antwoord)

[Video Link]. “ God...” —David Letterman.

Die Antwoord's new album, TEN$ION, is out today.

(via Clayton Cubitt)

Tuning in to ambient urban sound: Alex Braidwood's "Listening Instruments"

[Video Link, via LAist]

Los Angeles area radio station KPCC produced this lovely video portrait of designer, educator, and media artist Alex Braidwood. His work "explores methods for transforming the relationship between people and the noise in their environment." In the video, you'll see Alex wearing what I believe may be his Noisolation Headphones, "an invention for mechanically transforming the relationship between a person and the noise that immediately surrounds them." His video about that project is below.

Homemade astronaut ice cream instructions

[Video Link] Rachel Hobson says:

Ever since I was a kid, I've adored the crunchy/creamy sweet treat of astronaut ice cream. Now that I live just five minutes from Johnson Space Center, the freeze-dried confection is the top request when we take visiting friends to the gift shop at Space Center Houston. There is just something idyllic and iconic about the space-age dessert. Ben Krasnow shows how you can build a freeze dryer to sublimate the water from regular ice cream to turn it in to the crunchy astronaut ice cream we all know and love. Bonus point for the mix of science and sugar!
Homemade astronaut ice cream instructions

Muslim man's motivational text to colleagues leads to terror probe

On Jan. 21, 2011, 40-year-old telecommunications sales manager Saad Allami of Quebec sent a text message to colleagues encouraging them to "blow away" the competition at an upcoming trade show in New York City. His innocent intent, he claims: to "pump up his staff." He was arrested without warning days later, detained, searched, and presumed to be a terrorist. And that was just the beginning. (via @weldpond)

Cancer rates triple among NYPD 9/11 first responders

From the Telegraph: "Of the 12,000 who attended the scene of the atrocity at the World Trade Center 10 years ago, 297 have been diagnosed with cancer, almost triple the incidence before the attack. A report said that 56 who have been diagnosed had since died."

Mexican Banda bandits blamed for school tuba thievery

The Los Angeles Times reports that two more $6,000 King brass sousaphones (marching band tubas) have been burgled from an LA county high school this week, in an extended run of thefts over recent months blamed on "the popularity of Mexican banda music."

Google's New Privacy Policy: Close But No Cigar

Last week was a pretty good one for the notion of privacy in America, which  has increasingly become forlorn and tattered as a result of the advancement of digital technology. First, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Jones that warrantless GPS tracking of a criminal suspect by the FBI was unconstitutional, and then later in the week Google announced its new privacy policy, a model of simplicity and fairness with one sizeable flaw. Oddly, this particular decision by the court sheds some important light on the particular problem within Google's otherwise admirable new privacy policy.

The decision of the Court in United States v. Jones was accompanied by two concurring opinions, one written by Justice Alito, and the other by Justice Sotomayor. The unanimous decision and ruling found that the government violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures because a tracking device had been attached to the defendant's car without first obtaining a warrant. The placing of the device constituted a trespass, akin to breaking into someone's home or filing cabinet. 

Justice Alito's well-reasoned concurrence went further, arguing that the notion of physical trespass as a predicate to finding a warrant necessary was outdated, and that beginning with the wiretapping cases of the 1960s, courts began to recognize that a more appropriate standard was whether or not a person had "a reasonable expectation of privacy" in a given situation. This approach, argued Alito, was far more effective in dealing with privacy issues in the digital era---as opposed to limiting the Fourth Amendment to the law of trespass, which essentially dates back to 1215. Justice Sotomayor's opinion spoke to the world as we know it, and she couldn't have been more spot on. She wrote:

... it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties... This approach is ill-suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers... I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the Government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year."

Read the rest

Stunning snapshot of the moon

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BB pal Nick Harmer snapped this gorgeous photo of the moon last night in Seattle just by pressing his Canon S95 point-and-shoot against the eyepiece of his Orion Starblast 6 telescope! His crescent moon photo from January 26 is a beaut too.

When Listerine made cigarettes

A long-lost brand, and singularly odd one. Like discovering Spicy Cajun Visine Hot Sauce lurking in the product's history.

listerine cigarettes.....

Mark Jenkins's public sculptures of mannequins in distress

Sculptor Mark Jenkins's "City" series is comprised of lifelike mannequins placed in public spaces in odd postures, often in seeming distress or danger, usually with a broadly humorous undertone. They're pretty funny stuff. Shown here: "Barcelona Trashgirl."

City (via kikirikipics)

Reading lamps made from drilled-out books

Typewriter Boneyard does a sweet line of reading lamps made from drilled-out old books, fitted with replica Edison bulbs.

Hardback Book Lamps (via Neatorama)

Excerpt from The Information Diet, by Clay Johnson

Clay Johnson is the author of The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption, which has been getting a lot of media attention lately: Weekend Edition, Triangulation, Atlantic, The Wirecutter, to name a few. I haven't read it yet, because I'm too busy consuming other sources of information. But it's on my to-read list!

201202071022The modern human animal spends upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessly spewed from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour—so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets.

We're all battling a storm of distractions, buffeted with notifications and tempted by tasty tidbits of information. And just as too much junk food can lead to obesity, too much junk information can lead to cluelessness. The Information Diet shows you how to thrive in this information glut—what to look for, what to avoid, and how to be selective. In the process, author Clay Johnson explains the role information has played throughout history, and why following his prescribed diet is essential for everyone who strives to be smart, productive, and sane.

In The Information Diet, you will:

• Discover why eminent scholars are worried about our state of attention and general intelligence
• Examine how today’s media—Big Info—give us exactly what we want: content that confirms our beliefs
• Learn to take steps to develop data literacy, attention fitness, and a healthy sense of humor
• Become engaged in the economics of information by learning how to reward good information providers
• Just like a normal, healthy food diet, The Information Diet is not about consuming less—it’s about finding a healthy balance that works for you

Read an excerpt (PDF)

Buy The Information Diet on Amazon

Jobs of the medieval city

Here's a neatly categorized and tantalizing list of medieval urban professions, including the criminal trades.

silk-snatcher - one who steals bonnets

stewsman - probably a brothel keeper - "since the words stew and stewholder both mean a bawd, I'm guessing that a stewsman would be a brothel-keeper as well. Whether bawdry counts as a criminal activity varies at different times and places."

thimblerigger - a professional sharper who runs a thimblerig (a game in which a pea is ostensibly hidden under a thimble and players guess which thimble it is under)

eggler - an egg-merchant


Knifeman - one skilled with a knife; specifically, a soldier trained to disembowel horses

What did people do: in a Medieval City? (via Kottke)

The OMG-AR15 Unicorn zombie gun

Marque Cornblatt made the OMG-AR15 Unicorn zombie gun using Smith & Wesson parts and an 18v pole saw. "It's very accurate," he says. Below, a video of it in use.

Inspired by the recent trend towards rifle-mounted chainsaws, we at Guns & Gardens wanted to give the idea a try -- our way.

First, we decided to keep the budget low, so we used the OMG AR15 as the base rifle. Second, we wanted to design an attachment that was easy to make with limited tools. And third, we wanted the ability to remove the chain saw and use it without the rifle. And lastly, it has to appeal to little girls.

We decided against modifying the saw too much, so instead of cutting it up and re-distributing the battery and power switch all over the rifle, we simply flipped the saw over and reversed the direction of the motor and chain - so the saw is upside-down, but it operates as if it was positioned normally. We also removed the saw's safety switch because it was creating a critical delay in response time.

This is the result:

A CA-legal Smith & Wesson M&P15, chambered in .223/5.56
Tri-color dot scope, 6-position stock
18v Rechargeable chain saw with fast-swap bayonet mount


•Ni-Cad battery (not Li-On) •It gets splattered with gore
•Everyone wants to borrow it


•Costs less then $100 (AR15 not included)
•Excellent ergonomics
•Will cut through zombies, doorjams, debris, firewood, etc...
•It's a FREAKIN' CHAIN SAW on an AR15. OMG!!!

"The OMG-AR15 Unicorn" by Guns & Gardens

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, The Origin Of "Hip Hop", And A Tale From Hollis, Queens

 Hip Hop Family Tree Part 1

Hip Hop Family Tree Part 2

Hip Hop Family Tree Part 3

Hip Hop Family Tree Part 4


Read the rest

Graphic novel on stage in Los Angeles

No Good Deed is a new multimedia play in Los Angeles that melds a graphic novel with live theater. Created by the edgy, experimental Furious Theatre Company -- including my brother Robert Pescovitz -- No Good Deed is a classic, dark superhero story of good and evil injected with the cultural criticism that is Furious' modus operandi. The live production, written by Matt Pelfrey and directed by Dámaso Rodriguez, employs projected illustrations, intense fight choreography, and compelling characters to immerse the viewer in the action. And if you're thinking that sounds like Broadway's Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, here's what industry mag TalkinBroadway wrote, "I want to hold this production up to the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and say, 'This is how you put a graphic novel on stage." No Good Deed is actually the first story in an ongoing narrative that continues with Hellbound Heroes, a print comic with art by Ben Matsuya. You can grab a copy by donating $5 to Furious Theatre. The play runs until February 26 and Furious has kindly offered Boing Boing a discount code to save $5 on admission. Just enter BoingBoing as the coupon code when you purchase tickets here!

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This is what LAist had to say about No Good Deed:

Nick Cernoch leads the cast as Josh Jaxon, a conflicted and abused high-school student that must deal with a major change in his social status. As both a hero and antihero, Cernoch easily makes a bold transition feel natural. He guides Jaxon away from an appropriately subdued modality as a bullied kid to an energized, engaging and exciting alter-ego realized through a drug-induced multi-dimensional fantasy.

Shawn Lee and Troy Metcalf play Jaxon's "fucking-with-crime" sidekicks Bryant Feld and Danny Diamond. As Feld, Lee is a charismatic and commanding actor that often drives pulsed tension on stage. Metcalf renders Diamond as a sympathy-drawing underling, beautifully executing Diamond's most tragic scene and delivering the best performance of the show. Finally, Robert Pescovitz renders the role of Jaxon's frightening step-father with impressive authenticity.

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The complex staging of No Good Deed must be a nightmare to direct, but Damaso Rodriguez smoothly orchestrates the entire production with raw grace and a little kitsch. In fact, Rodriguez has crafted an indie-version of Broadway's Spiderman, minus all of the Spiderman failures, of course. Brian Danner's fight choreography is perfectly executed, conceptualized and is a huge audience draw. Scenic design of John Icovelli, costuming by Christy Hauptman, graphic design of Ben Matsuya and original music composition of Doug Newell contribute tremendously in capturing the essence of a great comic book.

Furious Theatre Company presents No Good Deed

EFF's PlayStation 3 PSA: jailbreaking shouldn't be a crime

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is petitioning the US Copyright Office for a DMCA exemption legalizing "jailbreaking" -- modifying the devices you own so that they can run software of your choosing. The Copyright Office holds hearings every three years on DMCA exemptions and these need to be renewed at each hearing.

To highlight the need for a jailbreaking exemption, EFF has made this video showing how Sony shipped its PlayStation 3 with the promise that users could run GNU/Linux on it, a promise that was taken up by many purchasers, including the USAF, who used a room full of PS3s running Linux to make a clustered supercomputer. But Sony changed its mind and revoked the feature after the fact and began to actively pursue legal penalties against researchers who attempted to restore it.

However, in April 2010, Sony’s mandatory firmware update -- version 3.21 -- removed the ability to install "Other OS" -- meaning no more Linux on your PlayStation. To add legal muscle to its firmware, Sony sued several security researchers for publishing information about security holes that would allow users to run Linux on their machines again. Claiming that the research violated the DMCA, Sony asked the court to impound all "circumvention devices" -- which it defines to include not only the defendants' computers, but also all "instructions," i.e., their research and findings.

This means you can set your PlayStation on fire, but you can’t run Linux on hardware you own. To illustrate how ludicrous this is, we made a video illustrating what an owner can do with a PlayStation -- and what Sony contends they can’t.

PlayStation 3 "Other OS" Saga Shows: Jailbreaking Is Not a Crime

Maggie in a silent auction to support Phillips Neighborhood Medical Clinic

This Thursday, I'll be donating my time to support The Phillips Clinic, a free healthcare provider that serves more than 1000 patients in Minneapolis. Come to the Clinic's annual silent auction where you'll be able to bid on awesome items like gift cards, a hot air balloon ride, and a presentation by me! If you win me, I'll come talk to your lab/students/friends/cats about how to better communicate science to the general public. Bidding starts at 6:00 pm, this Thursday, at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center.

"I've robbed the rainbow to make you gay"

If Rick Santorum can apprehend the rainbow robber, all his problems will be solved.

MAKE founder Dale Dougherty on CNN

Here's a peek of a 30-minute profile of MAKE founder Dale Dougherty that will air on CNN this Sunday night.

Dale says, it’s time to get back to making. It doesn’t matter what it is: cheese, wine, sculptures, robots, rockets, 3D printers - even electric muffins! As simple or as bizarre as a person wants to get, Dale believes everyone should be passionate about making something. So Dale decided over a decade ago to create a grassroots festival called Maker Faire. There’s one every year in the Bay Area, NYC, and all over the world. There’s one in Africa. Tens of thousands of people attend, showing off all of the spectacular things they’ve made. Things like a basketball bikini, art sculptures made from car parts and wooden catapults, large and small. Simply, makers are enthusiasts, amateurs and hobbyists.

Dale also created MAKE magazine. The magazines are jam-packed with ideas and exact plans for making things. One issue might be dedicated to making robots, or rockets. Anyone with an interest can pick up a magazine and get right to work.

Dale Dougherty: Sneak Peek