Bigshot Toyworks' cover for Bloomberg Businessweek

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Our friends at Bigshot Toyworks illustrated this fantastic cover for Bloomberg Businessweek. Covers are the hardest part of magazine design, but this one really nails it.

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, The "L" Brothers, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5,The Funky 4 Plus 1

Read the rest of the Hip Hop Family Tree comics!

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Crap Hound #6: Death, Telephones & Scissors! on Kickstarter


My copies of the beautifully designed clip-art zine Crap Hound are among my most treasured possessions. Sean Tejaratchi, the creator, has a Kickstarter to reprint Volume #6, which has a theme of "Death, Telephones & Scissors!"

Sean is currently working on a book-length version of Crap Hound devoted to "Unhappy People" to be published by Feral House Press, so we thought we'd reprint an old favorite -- Crap Hound #6: Death, Scissors & Telephones with a 16-pg. supplement of all new images -- in the meantime! All the new material is in the supplement, the only change to the magazine from the 3rd edition is the cover.

This time around we're offering pre-orders, as well as a variety of highly covetable rewards! Our goal is $13,000, which will cover the cost of printing 5000 copies of the magazine and supplement, silkscreen print, shipping and handling, and project fees.
Crap Hound #6: Death, Telephones & Scissors!

Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society - exclusive excerpt


[Video Link]

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A brief look behind Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society, a Visual Guide. by Adam Parfrey

One of the most exciting secondhand store moments ever: discovering a beautifully preserved 19th century Masonic uniform with dozens of buttons, embroidered crosses, a skull and bones apron, official belt, and pointy "Chapeau" hat topped with white ostrich feathers.

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"Chapeau"

The store owner told me the costume was from "Knights of Pythias," a 19th century fraternal order that loved its uniforms, and marching around in them. Like a couple other faux-Masonic Orders that referred to themselves as "Knights," the Pythians confused its historical inspiration. Damon and Pythias came from ancient Greek mythology, and the added "Knights" referred to medieval anti-Islam crusaders battling for the crown and Christianity.

Later I came to discover the uniform was in fact from the Knights Templar, a Masonic subset that also loved its uniforms, and marching around in them.

More recently Knights (or Knight) Templar uniforms were worn by the similarly anti-Islamic mass murderer Anders Brevik and a particularly murderous Mexican drug gang.

Anders Brevik in Templar costume:

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TSA to nursing mother: breast-pump can't go through security unless you pump your breasts first

High school vice-principal Amy Strand, a nursing mother mother of four, was told that that she couldn't clear the TSA checkpoint at Lihue Airport in Kauai with her breast pump unless she went into the women's bathroom and pumped her breasts out into the bottles. The TSA operative told her that the pump wasn't allowed through with empty bottles. There were no electrical outlets in the stalls in the restroom, so she had to stand over the sink and pump there. The TSA later apologized.

The agent told her the ice pack would not be allowed through security without milk in the bottles. Strand said the ice pack is specially made for the milk's cooler and would not be easy to replace.

"It really confuses me as to how an empty breast pump and cooler pack are a threat to national security and 20 minutes later, with milk, they no longer pose a threat to national security," Strand said incredulously.

She asked if there was a private place she could pump and was told there was not. The agent suggested she go to the public bathroom. Her electric pump required an outlet and there were no outlets in the stalls, so she had to use one in the bathroom's public area.

"There was no misunderstanding," Strand said. "I really only had two options: leave part of it behind or pump. And I'm not going to leave part of it behind because [the agent] doesn't know the police and procedures."

Mom With Breast Pump 'Humiliated' by TSA (via Consumerist)

Jon Stewart takes on the Rush Limbaugh



Jon Stewart has a field day responding to Limbaugh's nasty, error-prone attack of Sandra Fluke, the Republican candidates' fear of the powerful bully who can make or break them, and to Fox News' Megyn Kelly's hypocritical punditry.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Gross

Frugal food: 10 DIY tips to save money while eating better and healthier

This series is brought to you by
TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

Here at Boing Boing, we're fond of all things handmade, and of clever ways to stretch one's household budget. As the cost of staple foods and happy indulgences like coffee continue to rise, now is a good time to explore ways to save money on food with DIY smarts. Here's a list of 10 proven ways I've managed to cut my household budget—feel free to share more of your own in the comments. Also, apropos of nothing? Cats.

1) Drink water instead of soda. And drink tap water, not bottled water. Soft drinks don't contribute much to your body beyond chemicals and empty calories, and there is growing evidence that both the sugary-sweet and sugar-free varieties are associated with a variety of elevated health risks. Water is essential to human life. Your body needs it. And why waste money on bottled water that sits around in questionable plastics, possibly transported from the other side of the world with a ginormous carbon footprint, when the stuff that comes out of your tap is safe and healthy? (People who live near fracking sites in the US, or in developing countries without potable tap water, I'm not talking to you.) Sink-mounted water filters or filtering pitchers are an economical option if you prefer filtered water, but come on, quit wasting your money on bottled water. It's dumb.

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Dan Gillmor's next project, "Permission Taken" - the theory and practice of "going free" with your technology

Dan Gillmor has posted the outline of "Permission Taken," a new project he's taken on to explain what he's gone through in his journey from using proprietary systems to open and free ones. Gillmor -- one of Silicon Valley's best-respected columnists -- is a sophisticated technology user, and he's always understood that there is value to going free/open, as well as costs in terms of learning how to do things differently. Over the years, Gillmor's experience with technology and technology companies started to tip the scales for him, so that the value outweighed the cost. "Permission Taken" is part philosophical treatise, part practical guide. It looks really interesting and incredibly useful. Dan sent me an earlier draft of this outline for comment and I was immediately impressed. Now, he's inviting public comment from everyone.

Not many years ago, I was a happy acolyte in the Church of Apple. I spent most of the day using a Macintosh laptop. I used an iPhone. I had a Facebook account with hundreds of “friends,” and used Google’s search engine almost exclusively. While I worried about misuse of my information by third parties, I didn’t do much about it. I was so in love with technology that I adopted the latest and greatest without considering the consequences.

I still love technology, and believe it plays a transformative role in our lives. But as I’ve learned more about how it works, and how powerful interests want it to work, the more I’ve realized the need to make some changes.

So, today, I’m writing this on computer running Linux, the free and open operating system. I own an Android smartphone, “hacked” to remove restrictions the manufacturer and carrier would prefer to impose. I have closed my Facebook account, and use search engines in much different ways. And I am much more cautious about what I’ll allow third parties to know about me and my activities.

By making these and many related choices, I have made parts of my life slightly less easy, or at least less convenient. But I have gained something more important: liberty. I use the devices I purchase as I choose; I decline to live in the increasingly restricted environments that so many technology and communications companies have imposed on their customers. And to the extent that I am able, I’m preventing snoops, corporate and governmental, from watching my every move without my consent. On balance, I believe, I’ve made my life better.

That’s why I’m doing this project: to help you make your own decisions.

Permission Taken -- a summary and outline

US Video Premiere: Here We Go Magic "Make Up Your Mind"

(Video Link) Behold a terrifying new video for Here We Go Magic's new song "Make Up Your Mind".  I'm not sure what's going on in here, but I'm positive I don't want it to happen with me. Please note that the video contains lots of ladies in distress in their underpants. Don't watch it if that bothers you.

Here We Go Magic are an intense and riveting live band.  They're on tour in the US and UK right now and the show is worth seeing if they are in your town.  Their excellent new album A Different Ship hits on May 8.

eBook Review: The Dig

In keeping with my attempts to read and review a kindle eBook a day, yesterday I read The Dig by Michael Siemsen.

The Dig was a page turner and I kept reading long past when I should have knocked off and gone to bed. Siemsen tells the story of a young man, Matthew, who is able to glean the past of an object via touch and is brought to Africa to examine a strange object found in an archaeological dig. The object simply doesn't belong, outside forces want to stop Michael, and what he discovers changes how we view human history.

The author does a great job of weaving two threads together and creates an interesting universe that while fantastic never feels unbelievable. The characters were fun and while the historical story-line moves a little slower than the present-day one, both left me waiting for the obvious sequel.

The Dig by Michael Siemsen

Report: LulzSec members arrested

Fox News' Jana Winter reports that LulzSec's Sabu was caught and turned by the authorities last June and has been working with them since. Other members of the group were arrested today as a result, she writes; details will be unsealed today in district court. The name given, Hector Xavier Monsegur, would confirm earlier outings and doxings from the same period. Last June saw the group publicly suspend operations, if you'll recall, and suffer its earliest arrests.

Shiva Ayyadurai, inventor of a program named "EMAIL"

At Gizmodo, Sam Biddle takes a long look at Shiva Ayyadurai, the MIT lecturer who snookered Time, the Smithsonian Museum and The Washington Post into believing he invented email. Ayyadurai appears to be a brilliant, paranoid huckster.

He's generally described by his colleagues as a nut and fraud—the terms "asshole," and "loon" were tossed around freely by professors who were happy to talk about their coworker but prefer to remain anonymous. "Don't know him, but [he] didn't invent email. If he claims to have done so he's a dick," said one MIT brain. [Ayyadurai] claims that [The Indian government] hired a team of "bloggers" and PR hatchet men to smear him across the internet. Target number one? His claim to be the father of email.

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Gleick's masterpiece The Information comes out in paperback today

James Gleick's The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood was my favorite nonfiction book of 2011, a tour-de-force history and introduction for information theory. It's out in paperback today. Here's some of my review of the hardcover:

I've been fascinated with information theory since a friend of a friend explained "Shannon limits" to me in the late 1990s. I remember the conversation, mostly because the description was tantalizingly frustrating and incomplete, this being a hallmark of really interesting ideas. This friend of a friend explained that there were theoretical limits to how much information any channel could carry, and that these limits included rigorous definitions for "channel" and "information." I've read up on Claude Shannon rather a lot since (I've got a short story called Shannon's Law in an upcoming Borderlands book, about a hacker named Shannon Klod who tries to violate the barrier between faerie and the human realm by routing a single packet using TCP-over-magic) and every time I do, it's a revelation, because some new facet of information theory reveals itself to me.

But nothing has presented these ideas half so well as The Information, and that's a tribute to Gleick's storytelling mastery, his ability to pick out the threads of history that trace back and forward from the discipline's central thesis. Gleick begins with early lexicographers, the primitive dictionaries, the phrasebooks that translated between the talking drum and western speech. He moves onto Babbage and Lovelace (and presents an account of their invention, rivalries, victories and failings that is as heartbreaking as it is informative), and then into telegraphy.

Telegraphy leads to codes, and codes to compression, and compression to logic, and logic to the first inklings of theories, and now you've got Einstein and Godel and Shannon and Turing meeting, debating, fighting and rubbishing each other in learned journals, arguing furiously with Margaret Mead at interdisciplinary conferences -- a pellmell debate in full swing. On Gleick marches, to the double helix and Dawkins and memes, to a section on randomness that is so transcendently exciting that I couldn't put the book down and read it while walking, so distracted I got lost twice within blocks of my office.

Gleick takes us through Wikipedia and the meaning of information, the debates about it, the helpelessness of information overload, the collisions in namespaces -- even through his beloved chaos math -- until he has spun out his skeins so that they wrap around the world and the universe, information theory at the heart of legal debates over trademark, physics feuds over Hawking radiation, epistemology and cryptography, even fights over Pokemon characters and their disambiguation.

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

ORGCON 2012 with Lessig, Seltzer (and me)!: Mar 24, London

Nisha from the Open Rights Group sez,

Lawrence Lessig, Cory Doctorow and Wendy Seltzer will be leading this year's Open Rights Group conference (aka ORGCon) in London on 24th March 2012. From the government snooping on your data to default internet blocking and monitoring to the corporate capture of state and democratic institutions - we'll be covering vast regions of the digital rights sphere. And there may even be a competition or two! Sessions will include:

* Lawrence Lessig on "Recognizing the fight we're in: A plea for some realism about IP activism"

* Cory Doctorow on "The Coming War on General Purpose Computing: The copyright wars were only the first level"

* Wendy Seltzer on the SOPA/PIPA challenge in the US

* Ross Anderson, Cambridge Professor of Security Engineering, on the problems with Anonymity in Open Government Data.

* Tom Lowenthal, Mozilla Privacy Expert, on the Do Not Track - tracking cookies, advertising and privacy

* Graham Smith, Legal Expert, on "'Have warrant, will extradite - copyright cops go international"

* Theo Bertram, UK Policy Manager for Google, and Jeff Lynn, COADEC Director, on the Communications Bill: Copyright Enforcement

And much much more... BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW!

Announcing ORGCon 2012