Boing Boing 

Animals doing people things

There's a whole tumblr of stuff like this.

Report: iPad 4G to be offered by Verizon, AT&T

The Wall Street Journal was first to report that Verizon Wireless and AT&T will offer the next edition of Apple's iPad to run on their newest 4G wireless networks.

Anatomy of an unsafe abortion

Dr. Jen Gunter, who is an OB/GYN and a pain medicine physician, writes a harrowing account of receiving a patient who has undergone an unsafe abortion, and is bleeding to death:

On the gurney lay a young woman the color of white marble. The red pool between her legs, ominously free of clots, offered a silent explanation.

“She arrived a few minutes ago. Not even a note.” My resident was breathless with anger, adrenaline, and panic.

I had an idea who she went to. The same one the others did. The same one many more would visit. A doctor, but considering what I had seen he could’t have any formal gynecology training. The only thing he offered that the well-trained provers didn’t was a cut-rate price. If you don’t know to ask, well, a doctor is a doctor. That’s assuming you are empowered enough to have such a discussion. I was also pretty sure his office didn’t offer interpreters.

I needed equipment not available in an emergency room. I looked at the emergency room attending. “Call the OR and tell them we need a room. Now.” And then I turned to my resident. I was going to tell him to physically make sure a room, any room, was ready when we arrived, but he had already sprinted towards the stairs. He knew.

Read the entire account here: Anatomy of an unsafe abortion.

Required reading in this year of presidential elections in America, in which so many candidates would have us return to the dark era in which abortion was illegal. Outlawing abortion doesn't end abortion, it just makes scenes like this more common.

And here's a follow-up post worth reading, by Dr. Gunter.

(thanks, @Scanman / image: Shutterstock)

Video from inside a Tibetan community under lockdown, as self-immolations continue

The Guardian's Asia correspondent Jonathan Watts sneaks into Aba, a remote town on the Tibetan plateau, and captures this video report of how Chinese authorities are trying to stamp out dissent among ethnic Tibetans through military security, propaganda and forced 're-education.'

More context and links at the NYT Lede blog. A BBC News crew attempted to make the same trek, and were repeatedly harassed by Chinese forces. Video here, includes graphic shots of self-immolations.

Today, the latest in an ongoing string of Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese policies: a 19-year-old Tibetan monk set himself on fire in the same Sichuan province town where the Guardian video was captured.

Read the rest

90-year old grandma's dance tribute to Whitney Houston

Video Link. YouTuber Adam Forgie of Utah, the person behind the camera, shoots these lovely videos with some regularity. "I take care of my legally-blind, near-deaf grandmother," he explains. "She may be blind, but she can still dance! She likes the attention." You can follow her on Twitter here.

Update: Boing Boing readers in various spots around the world report that the video is blocked in certain countries outside the US. This is dumb. Sorry.

This Valentine's Day, say it with 55 gallons of lube

Amazon Link. I can't tell what's funniest here, the user reviews, or the pricing and seller details:

Read the rest

Sex doll in a box

The head of an inflatable sex doll is pictured in a box at Ningbo Yamei plastic toy factory, on the outskirts of Fenghua, Zhejiang province, February 13, 2012. The company started producing sex dolls three years ago, and now owns a total of 13 types of dolls at the average price of 100 RMB (16 USD). More than 50,000 sex dolls were sold last year, about fifteen percent of which were exported to Japan, Korea and Turkey, according to the company. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

Super Mario villains recruitment posters


Fro Design's Mario Propaganda posters show how the other side recruited all those turtles and carnivorous plants.

COMPLETE MARIO PROPAGANDA SET (via Super Punch)

How to: Cook like Nathan Myhrvold in your own kitchen

If you ever needed a good reason to buy a whipped cream maker: The New York Times adapted several of Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine recipes to work with ingredients and equipment you're actually likely to have in your home kitchen. The whipped cream maker is the only tool used here that I don't own. And it might be worth buying one if it means that I can make bloody mary-infused celery sticks.

Canada's sweeping new, evidence-free electronic spying bill

Michael Geist sez, "The Canadian government will introduce new Internet surveillance legislation that will mandate a massive new surveillance infrastructure at all Canadian ISPs and remove the need for court oversight of the disclosure of customer information. I've posted a detailed FAQ on the history of the bill, the likely contents, the lack of government evidence supporting the need for the invasive legislation, and what Canadians can do about it."

The first prong mandates the disclosure of Internet provider customer information without court oversight. Under current privacy laws, providers may voluntarily disclose customer information but are not required to do so. The new system would require the disclosure of customer name, address, phone number, email address, Internet protocol address, and a series of device identification numbers.

While some of that information may seem relatively harmless, the ability to link it with other data will often open the door to a detailed profile about an identifiable person. Given its potential sensitivity, the decision to require disclosure without any oversight should raise concerns within the Canadian privacy community.

The second prong requires Internet providers to dramatically re-work their networks to allow for real-time surveillance. The bill sets out detailed capability requirements that will eventually apply to all Canadian Internet providers. These include the power to intercept communications, to isolate the communications to a particular individual, and to engage in multiple simultaneous interceptions.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lawful Access, But Were (Understandably) Afraid To Ask

Apollo 17 astronauts singing on the moon

El Zombre sends us this great video of Apollo 17 astronauts singing a silly song together on the moon surface. I dug in a little, and Wikipedia confirms that this is real footage!

Thanks El Zombre! [Video Link]

Minecraft chunk error in real life


Minecraft's defiantly unrealistic style notwithstanding, players appreciate the game's internal consistency and get frustrated at certain failures of verisimilitude. Chunk errors, for example, are squared-off seams in the world caused by glitches in the landscape-generation algorithm. Right out of the annals of reality is unrealistic comes Roraima Mountain, a pleasing reminder that you are living in a simulation and Notch is God. [Speculative Nonfiction. Thanks, Michael!]

White grandfather detained, cuffed in Austin while walking home with his black granddaughter

Scott Henson, "a former journalist turned opposition researcher/political consultant, public policy researcher and blogger," recounts how he was repeatedly stopped and eventually cuffed and detained while walking his granddaughter home through a park in Austin, TX. Henson is white and his granddaughter is black, and the police said that they were responding to a "kidnapping" call. But their response terrified the little girl and humiliated her grandfather. And it's not the first time it's happened to them.

As soon as we crossed the street, just two blocks from my house as the crow flies, the police car that just passed us hit its lights and wheeled around, with five others appearing almost immediately, all with lights flashing. The officers got out with tasers drawn demanding I raise my hands and step away from the child. I complied, and they roughly cuffed me, jerking my arms up behind me needlessly. Meanwhile, Ty edged up the hill away from the officers, crying. One of them called out in a comforting tone that they weren't there to hurt her, but another officer blew up any good will that might have garnered by brusquely snatching her up and scuttling her off to the back seat of one of the police cars. (By this time more cars had joined them; they maxxed out at 9 or 10 police vehicles.)

I gave them the phone numbers they needed to confirm who Ty was and that she was supposed to be with me (and not in the back of their police car), but for quite a while nobody seemed too interested in verifying my "story." One officer wanted to lecture me endlessly about how they were just doing their job, as if the innocent person handcuffed on the side of the road cares about such excuses. I asked why he hadn't made any calls yet, and he interrupted his lecture to say "we've only been here two minutes, give us time" (actually it'd been longer than that). "Maybe so," I replied, sitting on the concrete in handcuffs, "but there are nine of y'all milling about doing nothing by my count so between you you've had 18 minutes for somebody to get on the damn phone by now so y'all can figure out you screwed up." Admittedly, this did not go over well. I could tell I was too pissed off to say anything constructive and silently vowed to keep mum from then on.

To me, the point of this story is how "see something, say something," fails. The police and some person or persons in the park believed that Henson and his granddaughter didn't "look right" and "just to be safe" called in the report and responded in force. But "doesn't look right" is culturally determined and informed by our conscious and subconscious biases. For people unaccustomed to mixed-race families, "doesn't look right" means calling the police down on the innocent children and grandparents in your neighborhood. At its core, "see something, say something" isn't about a war on crime, it's a war on surprises, whose core premise is to mistrust and fear things you can't understand.

Me, APD, and 'Babysitting While White,' Part Deux (via Reddit)

Mickey the firefighting cat

Thanks Frycook! via Submitterator [Video Link]

New Boing Boing T-shirt: Unizilla by Adam "Ape Lad" Koford

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Our pal Adam "Ape Lad" Koford managed to capture the elusive unizilla and draw it from life. (He released it safely into the wild so it could get back to the business of destroying cities). The result: this astounding T-shirt. Supplies are limited to the the amount of matter in the universe that can be used to make T-shirts, so act fast!

Buy your Unizilla T-shirt in the Boing Boing shop!

Other hote kootoor in the BB Shop:


Boing Boing Beetle
$14.95

Boing Boing Critter - Baby Snapsuit
$8.95

Boing Boing Monkey
$14.95

Boing Boing - It Followed Me Home
$14.95

Boing Boing Critter
$14.95

Fnord
$14.95

Privacyscore.com: learn about and manage privacy risks you take online

NYT: "PrivacyChoice, a company that has analyzed and indexed the data in hundreds of privacy policies across the Web, has developed a system to score Web sites on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how a site collects and uses personal data."

Leaked, unreleased Die Antwoord track: "Money and Da Power"

Well look what just spilled onto the internet. An unreleased Die Antwoord track, performed live on the current tour, but not included on TEN$ION. The leaked track, "Money and Da Power," features a sample that will be familiar to fans of the movie The Godfather.

Download MP3, or listen on Soundcloud. Uploaded by a user named Lemmiwinks.

Photo: An iPhone snap I took in LA this January of Die Antwoord's Ninja and Yo-Landi goofing around on the trampoline of David Choe, whose life recently changed.

Excerpt of One Model Nation, a graphic novel by Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols

Screen Shot 2012-02-13 At 11.00.36 AmDonovan Leitch and I were together during the holidays of the year 2000, I think it was. We had been discussing the Hip-Hop movie trend where musicians were having shoot-outs with cops and/or other Hip-Hoppers, drug dealers, gangs and whatnot. We thought it would be interesting to invent a story where this was happening to a rock band. As the night progressed we discovered that we had both been into the Krautrock/German art scene as teenagers, so it evolved into a German electronic band. Well, one that dresses like Laibach. We discussed what scenes would be "awesome" and "rad" and that maybe they should all dress alike and be incredibly resourceful computer and electronic geeks. Then at some point during the night we dropped it and that was that.

Several months later Donno had run across the Baader-Meinhof gang on the internet and began sending me pictures and stories of their exploits of the late '60s and the '70s. It got us interested in the story again so we began putting together an outline, employing the classic Greek "hero's journey" as our narrative structure. Pretty much every story you've read, or movie and TV show you've seen, uses this structure because it just makes sense to the human condition. We began plugging in events from German history as well as inventing drug lords and rival bands and developing the world in which our band would play out their thing.

I was touring with my band at the time so it gave me an opportunity to be in Germany and interview and research those people who were living back then and in that actual world. While in Hamburg (I think), I met with Karl Bartos from Kraftwerk, and he was the one who suggested that the Germany in which the story played out should be fictionalized into a hyper-reality and that it would help make it more interesting than it really was.

We had very nearly finished our first draft when we began pitching it to writers and filmmakers whom we knew and without really being told so, we began to realize that it pretty much sucked. One very successful director/producer whom I was friends with hasn't called me back since. Really.

Well, Donno became a husband and a father and so had absolutely no time for anything else and the whole thing got dropped. It was a couple of years later that I started it up from scratch again in the wee hours of my regularly jet-lagged mornings. I incorporated stories from my own band's experiences and based the four members of One Model Nation on real people with whom I was very familiar and the idiosyncrasies which make them odd and interesting. It took me a few years but eventually I had a full blown tale which fit nicely into a classic structure and was apparently exciting and satisfyingly epic to the people whom I gave it to read.

Buy One Model Nation on Amazon

Read the excerpt

Trophy heads of fanciful Seussian creatures


On DeviantArt, thebiscuitboy showcases his "zoological nonsense" creations, trophy-heads of fanciful creatures inspired by Dr Seuss. These are really fantastic (if a little disturbing).

Walrus, Baffler Bird II, Seuss Da Moose

(via Super Punch)

Baltimore police can't arrest people who record them, so they bust them for "loitering" instead


[Video Link] A fellow named Scott Cover noticed a group of Baltimore Police standing over a man handcuffed on the ground. He remembered reading that morning that the Baltimore Police department had told its officers they couldn't arrest people for taking photos or videos of them while they worked, so Cover pulled out his cell phone and began taping. One of the officers spotted Cover and order to him to leave, because he was "loitering." He argued with her a bit, but started to walk away, taping the officers has he left. That wasn't good enough for the officer, so she stopped him and asked for his ID. The video ends there.

The new rule says that citizens have an "absolute right" to photograph or video record the enforcement actions taking place in public view. The chief legal counsel for the agency called it "an extension of the citizen's right to see. [An officer] wouldn't go up to a citizen at a crime scene and tell them to close their eyes, so the officer can't tell them they can't film."

But the rules also says that the person recording may not "violate any section of any law, ordinance, code or criminal article" - such as loitering - while doing so. The officers on Cross Street seemed aware of that fine print.

The police union says the officers acted appropriately and professionally; the ACLU says it shows there's more work to be done.

In Federal Hill, citizens allowed to record police - but then there's loitering.. (Via The Agitator)

Collaborative consumption and the history of carpooling

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Back in 2010, Rachel Botsman wrote a book titled "What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption," which was one of the first popular riffs on what can happen when you meld financial uncertainty, eco-motivation, and social networking. Essentially, it looks at new methods of balancing surplus and need. There are lots of things that it just doesn't make sense for me to own -- a jigsaw or a cargo box for the roof of my car -- but are still very valuable to me the one or two times a year that I really really need them. During the last few years, we've posted about myriad new start-ups formed around the collaborative consumption idea, like Miki Krimmel's Neighborgoods. Since then, so many compelling businesses have sprung up in the sharing realm -- from Airbnb to Spinlister -- that Silicon Valley "super angel investor" wrote in The Economist that peer-to-peer markets are "the most thought-provoking sector I see developing in 2012." Of course, what's old is new. Shareable magazine, the publication-of-record on collaborative consumption, posted a fascinating article on the history of carpooling.

 Sites Default Files Upload Inline 200 Images Carsharing Posters-1

From Shareable:

Ridesharing began shortly after the introduction of the Model-T, America’s first automobile priced with for the middle-class. By the end of 1914, the US had fallen into a recession at the same time it was seeing a flood of cheap new automobiles on city streets. In San Francisco, enterprising car owners began offering seats in their cars for the same price as a street car fair, known as a jitney. Within nine months, the “jitney” craze had spread all the way to Maine.

But while the sudden explosion of carpooling demonstrated its enormous potential, it also gave rise to significant backlash as irate streetcar operators fought the new form of competition with the collusion of city and regional governments. Since then, ridesharing’s popularity has typically lived or died at the mercy of government policy. By 1918, new liability regulations succeeded in reducing ridesharing by 90%.

"The History of Carpooling, from Jitneys to Ridesharing"

Gunpoint: sneak around and rewire world to trick foes

Gunpoint puts you in the role of a freelance spy, performing jobs for the highest bidder. Joining elements of Taito classic Elevator Action and puzzle-based hacking sims, it's a one-man heist experience complete with guns, gadgets, and carefully-laid plans. Everything can fall apart at any moment.

Since an early alpha-stage walkthrough, described by developer Tom Francis as “an ugly, awkwardly voiced video”, I've desperately wanted to play. Francis, a writer for PC Gamer UK, isn’t a programmer by trade. Looking at Gunpoint, you wouldn’t know it: the user-friendly GameMaker development environment and a call for artists and musicians helped bring it from idea to reality within months.

Read the rest

An LCD pixel and a grain of sand are roughly the same size

Cary Huang's amazing Scale of the Universe animation has been updated—now with a better format, extra background information about the objects whose sizes are being compared, and more opportunities to blow your mind. "Holy sh$#! The Grand Canyon is bigger than Rhode Island?"

Indie businesses: startups without the crunch

Responding to a post by David Heinemeier Hansson, Bryce Roberts thinks aloud about "indie" businesses -- high tech startups that eschew the fast path to sale and exit and opt for slower, self-financed growth. He calls them "indie" businesses, comparing them to musicians who build their careers without labels, and who, if they join up with a label later, do so on their own terms.

Similarly, Indie businesses will be comfortable playing by their own rules even if they may fly in the face of startup cultural norms. They will chase opportunities in markets that may be small, niche or non-existent instead of jumping on the most fundable fad. They will find ways to operate outside of the traditional venture model through either small amounts of early outside funding or choosing a slower growth path and getting to profitability on the back of a terrific product and happy customers. And they will have a goal to stay independent as opposed to looking for a quick flip or speedy IPO.

I think we’re entering a golden age for Indie businesses. Some will take the shape of long term durable companies, others will take the shape of projects that spin up and wind down to meet bursts of demand or to scratch a passing itch.

With democratized digital distribution and the rise of crowdfunding sources of capital, many companies will be in a position to stay independent and play by their own rules. And I think that’s a very important and powerful development worthy of it’s own word.

Rise of the Independents (via O'Reilly Radar)

What the voices in your head sound like

When we read something silently we are, essentially, saying it to ourselves in our internal monologue. Psychology researchers at Britain's University of Nottingham wanted to know whether the voice that reads in our heads matches the voice that we read aloud in. In other words, does your internal monologue have an accent?

It's an interesting question. Although you might think it's a given, previous studies have suggested that the voice you speak with and the voice you think with might not be pronouncing words quite the same. This newer study, published in PLOS last fall, found the opposite—that there is at least some level of match between audible and silent pronunciation.

What I really like, though, is how they constructed the study. After all, you can't just ask people how they pronounce words in their heads. Like the question of whether you say "soda" or "pop" or "coke", once you start thinking about it hard enough to answer, you suddenly lose all ability to know what you do when you aren't paying attention. (Note: That soda/pop thing hasn't actually been scientifically demonstrated. It's just a bit of personal anecdata that I thought was relevant here.) In order to get around that problem, the Nottingham researchers had subjects read limericks while carefully monitoring their eye movements. The subjects were chosen based on their accents—one group pronounced their "a" sounds so that "path" would rhyme with "Kath". To the other group, that rhyme wouldn't rhyme at all. Instead, for them, "path" rhymed with "Garth".

The subjects read the limericks silently to themselves. But when they got to rhymes that didn't make sense with their spoken accent, there was a distinct disruption in eye movement. Basically, the physiological equivalent of the subjects having to stop and think, "Wait. That doesn't rhyme."

The other really cool thing I found in this paper: The fact that what we know about he author of the piece can influence how we read it.

... some previous studies have presented evidence to suggest that ‘person-particular’ knowledge of the author of a piece of text can influence reading of that piece of text. For example, it has been demonstrated that knowledge of the presumed author's speaking speed can influence how quickly people read aloud a passage of text [32]. This finding has also been replicated, and extended to silent reading [33]. Findings from other studies examining auditory imagery during reading have suggested that readers simulate aspects of the voices of the characters featured in the text (see [34], and also [35], for related findings). The current research supports, and extends these findings, by demonstrating that in the absence of information about the writer's voice, or that of characters involved in the text, inner speech during silent reading resembles the reader's own voice.

Henceforth, I shall refer to this as "The Just-Read-Trainspotting Effect", in honor of the three weeks during college when I couldn't get my inner monologue to stop drifting into an approximation of a heavy Scottish accent.

Via Stan Carey

Image: Eight-Minute Mouth Move, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bruce-asher's photostream

Sony raised price of Whitney Houston albums after death

At The Guardian, Josh Halliday writes about Sony's rush to profit from Whitney Houston's death.

Sony Music has come under fire after it increased the price of a Whitney Houston album on Apple's iTunes Store hours after the singer was found dead.

The music giant is understood to have lifted the wholesale price of Houston's greatest hits album, The Ultimate Collection, at about 4am California time on Sunday. This meant that the iTunes retail price of the album automatically increased from £4.99 to £7.99.

The clockwork regularity of Sony PR disasters is really something. It's as if a Division of Unbridled Cynicism lurks deep in the bowels of its vast workforce, issuing Spite Directives to ensure an ingeniously varied drumbeat of fail.

Gomez's Hamburger: A great name for a star

Thanks to a tweet by Ars Technica's John Timmer, I was introduced this morning to Gomez's Hamburger—a delightfully named astronomical feature about 900 lightyears away from Earth.

The name is funny. But what makes Gomez's Hamburger worth posting about here is that it gives you a glimpse of a process you've probably only read about before. Scientists think that planets form out of clouds of gas and dust circling a star. Over time, bits of dust clump together into larger objects, which in turn collide and smush into even larger objects. Eventually, instead of a star sitting in a dust cloud like Pigpen from Peanuts, you've got a classy, mature star orbited by a series of planets.

Gomez's Hamburger is most likely a young star sitting in a dust cloud. The dust is actually the meat in this sandwich. The "buns" are actually light reflecting off of the dust.

Cat Valente on writers and haters

Cat Valente, author of such outstanding novels as The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and Deathless, is guest-editing Charlie Stross's blog, posting writing advice. Part one, published yesterday, covered some good ground, and today's continuation is especially good, with advice on coping with haters -- useful perspective for more than just writers.

People Are Going to Shit All Over You

Oh, yes they are. It really doesn't matter if you try to do something different or you just want to rescue the princess in the tower. It'll start with your teachers, in college or high school or workshops. You are going to have to hear, more than once, more than ten times, that not only does your work suck, but it betrays some signal flaw within yourself, and you as a person are terrible for having written this thing. This is true, basically, no matter what you write. It is especially true if you are trying something off the beaten path, whether that beaten path is one of bestsellers or your teacher's own predilictions. I have personally had verse and chorus of "Nothing" from A Chorus Line spewed at me from numerous teachers. For those of you not musically inclined, it goes something like: you're bad at this, you'll never amount to anything, give up and work at a gas station and leave this to the real artists. One professor literally threw up his hands at our final conference and said "You're just going to do whatever you want no mater what I say so there's no point in even trying to teach you about good writing."

We all have stories like that, I suspect. Most particularly those of us who write SFF, which makes no friends in universities. The best part is, it doesn't stop there! Once you're published, new and exciting people will appear to tell you how bad your work is, even if you are popular and/or critically acclaimed. And it will get personal, especially if you are throwing down with your whole being, laying your kinks and history on the page like a sacrifice. If you're a woman, or other-than-white, or queer, it will probably, at some point, get really personal. Many readers have a huge problem separating the work from the creator. The mountain of crap I got for writing Palimpsest, both in public venues and in private emails, would make you crawl under the table with a bottle of fuck-you whiskey. I not only wrote a bad book, but I am sexually disturbed (I either hate sex or like it way too much, depending on who you ask) and politically suspect. Give up and work in a gas station. Name a book you think is universally liked and I will find someone saying it is a sin against man, decency, and the dictionary. People get very invested in books, which is the whole point of writing books. I have myself gotten upset to tears over books and have said so online. I try not to do that unless at great need now. I know too much.

It's easy to say: you must develop grace about this. I doubt anyone actually has grace about it. We all get mad or sad or hit the bar and rage against it all. It takes a really long time, or a really good internet filter, to be ok with how much some people will not like your work and by extension you. I'm not saying get grace at the bargain virtue store.

But you can fake grace.

Between the Perfect and the Real: On Writing Part 2

Unusual vintage Valentine's Day cards

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Artist Mitch O'Connell opened his ephemera vault to find his sub-collection of unusual vintage Valentine's Day cards. Below, a small sampling from his post.

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The Top 100 Most Strange, Odd, Perplexing and Unintentionally Funny Vintage Valentine Cards EVER!