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Lockdown London: how the Olympics will turn London into (more of) a police state

In the Guardian, Stephen Graham describes the militarized security that will transform the UK capital into "Lockdown London" for the Olympics. London is set to meet and exceed Beijing for civil liberties violations, violent suppression of dissent, and overwhelming surveillance during the games, from the rule that says you're not allowed to display anti-Olympics posters in your own home to the sniper-toting helicopters hovering over the town. "Security" trade magazines are buoyant about the enormous sums of money the industry stands to take out of "austere" Britain's tax-coffers to buy razor-wire, drones, and water cannons.

In addition to the concentration of sporting talent and global media, the London Olympics will host the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces seen in the UK since the second world war. More troops – around 13,500 – will be deployed than are currently at war in Afghanistan. The growing security force is being estimated at anything between 24,000 and 49,000 in total. Such is the secrecy that no one seems to know for sure.

During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence.

Beyond these security spectaculars, more stealthy changes are underway. New, punitive and potentially invasive laws such as the London Olympic Games Act 2006 are in force. These legitimise the use of force, potentially by private security companies, to proscribe Occupy-style protests. They also allow Olympic security personnel to deal forcibly with the display of any commercial material that is deemed to challenge the complete management of London as a "clean city" to be branded for the global TV audience wholly by prime corporate sponsors (including McDonald's, Visa and Dow Chemical).

And on top of it all, some of London's public roads will be turned into "priority" roads that are only open to corporate sponsors' vehicles -- off-limits even to the athletes competing in the games (and ambulances).

Olympics 2012 security: welcome to lockdown London

(Image: Policeman with his balaclava over his face, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from bagelmouse's photostream)


Dan Frommer offers an infographic illustrating how infographics are ruining the World Wide Web. [SplatF via @GlennF] Previously: Computer-generated PR spam for infographic

New Boing Boing T-shirt: Demolish Serious Culture

"How can you be serious?" Not by wearing this T-shirt! The classic Mark Pawson T-shirt, updated for 2012. Sold exclusively in the Boing Boing Shop.

Demolish Serious Culture T-shirt

Over-elaborated rubegoldbergian steampunk corkscrew

Gramturismo sez, "A maker in Scotland has created an elaborate, steampunk style hand cranked corkscrew." It's quite an amazing gadget -- talk about thoroughly solving a problem!

Rob Higgs (Thanks, gramturismo!)

Lawblawg commemorates My Cousin Vinny

I'm a great fan of the (now 20 years old!) Joe Pesci/Marissa Tomei/Ralph Macchio movie My Cousin Vinny, and so, apparently, are a lot of lawyers. The Abnormal Use lawblawg has a great collection of articles commemorating the film's 20th anniversary, explaining why it resonates so much with the legal profession. On Friday, they're promising a scene-by-scene breakdown from a group of law professors.

“My Cousin Vinny – More Than A Movie.“ In this piece, writer Nick Farr explains how My Cousin Vinny changed both his life and the outcome of a 7th grade student council election. (Yes, you read that right.).

“Lessons Learned From Vincent L. Gambini.“ In this piece, our newest contributor, Rob Green, offer six practical lessons that lawyers can glean from watching the film. If you think about it, the film is its own continuing education course with many practice tips contained therein. In fact, we should probably all get CLE credit for watching it again, don’t you think?

“Review: Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You.” Did you know that years after the film’s release, Joe Pesci released an album in character as Vinny? Rob Green somehow found a copy of this long forgotten album and drafted a review. Spoiler alert: the album is not for the faint of heart. Or the faint of ears, for that matter.

20th Anniversary: “My Cousin Vinny” (1992) (via Lowering the Bar)

Topher Grace turns all three Star Wars prequels into one short, punch 85-min hypermovie

Topher Grace, star of "That 70s Show," created "Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back" by mixing down all 7+ hours of the three Star Wars prequels into one tight, punchy, 85-minute movie. The video is private on Vimeo, so I haven't seen it, but Peter Sciretta's detailed description on Slashfilm has me drooling for it.

Grace’s version of the film(s) centers on Anakin’s training and friendship with Obi-Wan, and his relationship with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Gone are Trade Federation blockades, the Gungan city, the whole Padmé handmaiden storyline, the explanation of midichlorians, the galactic senate and the boring politics, Anakin’s origins (a backstory which never really needed to be seen in the first place), the droid army’s attack on Naboo, and Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) appears only briefly for only one line of dialogue, used as a set-up to introduce us to the Queen.

The first time we see Anakin, he is grown up and played by Hayden Christensen (Jake Lloyd never appears in this version). Kenobi and Skywalker are assigned to protect Amidala from additional assassination attempts. This leads us quickly into the chase to capture the assassin in the skies of Coruscant. Anakin is assigned to accompany Padmé to her home planet of Naboo. Unlike George’s version, Obi-Wan doesn’t discover an army of clone troopers on Kamino, but instead stumbles upon Count Dooku’s motives.

While the Clone troopers make a couple short appearances in this version of the film, the word “clone” is only used once, and the whole storyline is almost completely cut from the story. Jango Fett makes only a small appearance, and his son Boba Fett is left on the cutting room floor. Anakin returns to Tatooine and finds his mother tortured to death by the Tusken Raiders, but gone is the laughable aftermath.

Topher Grace Edited The ‘Star Wars’ Prequels Into One 85-Minute Movie and We Saw It (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Perv allegedly converts pub urinal drain into "piss dungeon"

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with reveling in being drenched in a near-continuous stream of fresh, boozy urine, but if that's the way you're kinked, it seems rude to spirit away the yellow stuff without informed consent: "Listen mate, this is gonna sound totally insane, but I’ve just gone for a piss in the urinal and I could’ve sworn I saw an eyeball looking up from the hole." (Thanks, Ben!)

US to go after "Border Tunnels" by prosecuting landowners, wiretapping communications

In the San Diego Reader, more on a bill passed last week by The U.S. House Judiciary Committee to help law enforcement crack down on illicit tunnels along the US-Mexico border: "The bill would allow law enforcement to prosecute landowners, prosecute those that fund the tunnels, and wiretap communications in suspected buildings that house tunnels. Previously wiretaps were only available with proof of drugs or contraband."

Interviews Before Execution: Chinese reality talk show with death row inmates

The BBC airs an hour-long documentary tonight about "Interviews Before Execution," a hit talk show in China in which host Ding Yu interviews prisoners on death row. Some 40 million viewers in China tune in to the show each week.

Days, hours, or minutes before they are killed, the host talks inside prison to those who have been condemned to die. The BBC doc combines clips from the show with "never-before-seen footage of China's death row," and includes an interview with a local judge who questions the future of the death penalty in China.

More about the documentary, from the BBC website:

Read the rest

On knitting 50 life-sized bees

Hannah Haworth found herself in the enviable position of having to knit 50 life-sized bees, which she did, and celebrated their completion with detailed notes and lovely photos.

Remember when I mentioned that I had to knit 50 life size bees? Well I finally finished them!! woop woop! I may have gotten a little obsessive with the detail, but I kinda always do. It was weird for me doing such a small scale project after the huge pieces Im used to making, but I enjoyed it a lot, I think I learned quite a bit from it.

These bees are made form 100% baby merino wool from Malabrigo. I especially love the way they dye their colours, they are pretty much iridescent

Making the bees was certainly a process. I began by knitting the body from the back to the head, then I picked up stitches to make the wings which I used a simple lace stitch pattern for.

bzzzzz (via Making Light)

Canada's ridiculous university copyright deal poised to become law

Michael Geist points us to "A critique of how the collecting agency behind the 'bone stupid' copyright deals signed by U of Toronto and Western U is poised to have its wishes ensconced in Canada's soon-expected Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11, with provisions that 'override the copyrights of others, monopolize markets and collect a de facto 'Education Tax' [that] is inefficient, immoral, and likely unconstitutional.'"

Moebius documentary

Here's a one-hour BBC documentary on Moebius, the French comics artist whose passing we lamented this weekend. The doc, "Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures," includes interviews with Stan Lee and Jodorowsky.

Moebius – a life in pictures

UN torture investigator: US gov's treatment of accused Wikileaks source Manning "cruel and inhuman"


The Guardian reports that Juan Mendez, special rapporteur on torture for the United Nations, has "formally accused the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Bradley Manning, the US soldier who was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being the WikiLeaks source. PDF of the report is here.

Snip: "The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence."

Another Occupy Wall Street activist's Twitter account subpoenaed

Just one month ago, the Manhattan District Attorney's office subpoenaed the Twitter account of Occupy Wall Street participant Malcolm Harris, aka @destructuremal. Today, Jeff Rae received word of the same. He has published a copy of a notice he received from Twitter, which was accompanied by a copy of the DA's subpoena. A cover letter from the DA's office indicates that Rae was one of five total accounts subpoenaed. Who are the other four? And why?

Edible Alien Autopsy toy

[Video Link] My friend and MAKE columnist Bob Knetzger is a toy designer and creates the Doctor Dreadful line of food toys. He recently emailed me about the latest creation in his line of Doctor Dreadful toys: the Edible Alien Autopsy

The coolest thing arrives in store in the fall--the Doctor Dreadful edible Alien Autopsy. It's the "oobleck" effect made edible. The alien's vibrating belly brings the chewy non-Newtonian blob to life as it rises and forms and squirms and squiggles--and then you eat it. Cookies and cream flavor--yum!
See more posts about Bob Knetzger and his creations

Taxonomy and history of rage-faces

On Ars Technica, Tom Connor does a great job producing a taxonomy and history of rage-faces, showing how they evolved from a set of proscribed, orthodox uses on 4chan to a wider set of uses and meanings in several online communities.

Rage faces slowly migrated from 4chan into other communities. There, they gained popularity and expanded their numbers as artists introduced new faces, and particularly humorous comics went viral in their communities. Though the faces were no longer exclusive to any single forum, they stayed true to the originals in style.

More people got involved, the cartoons mutated and evolved, and like any successful species, they adapted to fit into a wide variety of habitats. "You can trace back the origins to 4chan so you can say [the faces are 4chan's] baby, but it's evolved on such a wide scale that it's gone beyond anyone's single ownership," Swanson said. "Mostly the original faces are from 4chan, but a lot of the newer faces have come out of F7U12, or other places like FunnyJunk."

Fffuuuuuuuu: The Internet anthropologist's field guide to "rage faces"

Five significant, formerly classified documents

To kick off Sunshine Week, Catherine Shreve, the librarian for public policy and political science at Duke University's Perkins Library lists her five favorite declassified documents.

3. Bay of Pigs: Military Evaluation of the Central Intelligence Agency Para-Military Plan, Cuba. This memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara in early 1961 foreshadowed the humiliating failure of President Kennedy's Cuban invasion. It reads in part: "The amphibious assault should be successful even if lightly opposed; however the personnel and plans for logistic support are marginal at best. Against moderate, determined resistance logistic support as presently planned will be inadequate."

4. Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction: Senate Report 109-331 "Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments (unclassified version)". This 2006 report refuted President George W. Bush's reason for invading Iraq -- that it was developing weapons of mass destruction. In part, it says: "Postwar findings support the assessment...that claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are 'highly dubious.'"

5. John Nash letters to National Security Agency. A find that made me smile, remembering the movie "A Beautiful Mind" based on the brilliant but schizophrenic mathematician John Nash. In this handwritten letter, he proposes an enciphering-deciphering machine he has invented. "I hope my handwriting, etc. do not give the impression I am just a crank or circle-squarer."

Top 5 Formerly Top Secret Documents (Thanks, Eric!)

At SXSW, homeless people become WiFi hotspots

[Video Link]

Over the weekend, I noticed that David Gallagher of The New York Times observed in Austin, "Homeless people have been enlisted to roam the streets wearing T-shirts that say 'I am a 4G hotspot.”

A number of other folks I follow on Twitter who are attending the annual SXSW event there mentioned it, too, with concern. Here's the project's website, detailing their system to PayPal each "homeless hotspot" person directly. "We suggest $2 per 15 minutes."

The project was created by a team at global ad agency BBH.

Jon Mitchell at RWW has more. The problem, as he sees it:

The Homeless Hotspots website frames this as an attempt "to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations." There's a wee little difference, though. Those newspapers are written by homeless people, and they cover issues that affect the homeless population. By contrast, Homeless Hotspots are helpless pieces of privilege-extending human infrastructure. It's like it never occurred to the people behind this campaign that people might read street newspapers. They probably just buy them to be nice and throw them in the garbage.

Tim Carmody at Wired News has more about the project's roots, and why he and others find it troubling:

This is my worry: the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn’t care anything at all about them or their future, so long as it can score a point or two about digital disruption of old media paradigms. So long as it can prove that the real problem with homelessness is that it doesn’t provide a service.

Sunglass frames made from whiskey barrels

Portland's Shwood -- a manufacturer of wooden eyewear -- offered a (now sold-out) limited run of wooden sunglass frames made from Bushmills whiskey barrels. I toured the Bushmills distillery in the 1990s (top tip: volunteer to do the whiskey tasting at the end!), and was struck by the fact that these amazing barrels' only afterlife was being "turned into rubbish bins by a man from the town." Good to see that these storied casks are finding more imaginative third lives.

Shwood has joined forces with BUSHMILLS Irish Whiskey and Boston, MA boutique, Bodega on a limited run of Shwood's "Canby" frame style, crafted from genuine BUSHMILLS Irish Whiskey barrels. Limited to 100 pieces, the White Oak used for the frames dates back over 100 years. The eyewear is packaged in a custom wooden whiskey crate, with a crowbar to pry it open and get the goods.

Based in Portland, Oregon Shwood creates handcrafted wooden eyewear using fine exotic hardwoods. Shwood's in-house manufacturing process merges precision technology with classic skilled craftsmanship to create a timeless art form. Every step from veneering and precision lens cutting, to shaping and finishing is conducted in our own Portland-based workshop to promise an entirely handcrafted eyewear piece.

Shwood | Wood Sunglasses | Projects (via Core77)

Kony 2012's Visible Funding: Invisible Children's anti-gay, creationist, Christian right donors

(Photo: The Kony 2012/Invisible Children guys posing with SPLA soldiers on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Photograph by Glenna Gordon.)

Over at Alternet, Bruce Wilson digs in to the sources of funding for the group behind "Kony 2012," and discovers 990 IRS tax forms and yearly financial disclosure reports from the nonprofit and its major donors "tell a story that’s jarringly at odds with the secular, airbrushed, feelgood image" it has cultivated.

The documents show that Invisible Children, Inc. received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the biggest financial backers of California’s anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8, with links to James Dobson, The Family (see Jeff Sharlet's excellent book on the subject), and ideologically similar Christian Right entities.


(...) What does Invisible Children share in common with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council (pegged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”), or the Fellowship Foundation — one of the nonprofit entities of the Washington-based evangelical organization also known as “The Family” (covered in two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet) whose leader Doug Coe has been captured on video celebrating the dedication inspired by Hitler, Lenin, and Mao ?

What does IC have in common with the ministry of California evangelist Ed Silvoso, who works directly with leading Ugandan author and promoter of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (also called the “kill the gays bill”) Julius Oyet — who claims that “even animals are wiser than homosexuals”?

The answer? — all of these ministries – the Discovery Institute, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, The Fellowship Foundation, The Call, Ed Silvoso’s Harvest Evangelism, and Invisible Children – received at least $100,000 in 2008 from what has emerged in the last decade as the biggest funder of the hard, antigay, creationist Christian right: the National Christian Foundation.

Wilson's post is cross-published here with additional links at Talk2Action, his site on religion and politics. I've been blogging about the viral phenomenon here at Boing Boing, with perspective from aid workers, and a round-up of voices from Africa here (just updated with new additions).

A related digging-through-the financials post at Demand Nothing argues that the group works in a manner similar in style to "evangelical modes of operation" because they are effectively "a continuation of the same tactics used by more explicitly christian charities that operate in Africa and internationally." Snip:

Read the rest

Dan Fogelman's script for the Gary Coleman-Emmanuel Lewis Project

Zack sez, "Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (CRAZY STUPID LOVE, CARS, many others) wrote a screenplay several years ago called THE GARY COLEMAN-EMMANUEL LEWIS PROJECT, where the two diminutive former child stars save the world. Google searches prove that yes, this is a real script, and apparently Michael Bay was at one point rumored to be producing this. You can experience the strangeness yourself through this downloadable PDF."


A slick BMW pulls up, parks. A pair of small, well-heeled FEET drop from the car. We pull up and REVEAL:

EMMANUEL LEWIS. Yes, that Emmanuel Lewis. He of Webster fame. He’s got a newspaper under his arm, a smile on his face, and life by the balls.

He really does. Dude looks good. Still has the sweet face we remember. Sure, he’s put on a little weight, but haven’t we all? He wears a purple dress shirt, fitted, tucked into pair of tailored dress pants. Impeccable haircut. With a skip in his step he ENTERS...


A HOSTESS greets him.

Morning, Manny

What’s cookin’, good-lookin’?

Gary Coleman – Emmanuel Lewis Project, The (Thanks, Zack!)

eBook Review:  Missing moon rocks!

I love it when a true story is better than fiction; Joe Kloc's The Case of the Missing Moon Rocks is just that -- crazier than real life.

Six times, between 1969 and 1972, the United States put men on the moon. In addition to leaving footprints in the cheese and sticking a big flag in ground claiming the place, the US took home almost 850 lbs of rocks. Kloc tells the tale of what happened to these moon rocks after we hauled them back to good old mother Earth and President Nixon decided to give away bits of one of them.

Foreign dictators, fruit stand owners, Honduran spy plots and a man on a mission to keep the rocks off the black market. Its a fun read and some great history.

The Case of the Missing Moon Rocks by Joe Kloc

Painter Sonja Navin's new show in SF

Local San Francisco artist Sonja Navin is showing her work at the Jackson Place Salon this March and April. Sonja's work always strikes me with a sense of idyllic tranquility, be they street scenes of the city she lives in or studies of people. She trained as an architect and is largely self-taught in paint. The two disciplines clearly overlap and inform one another.

If you are interested, you're welcome to join at a reception for the artist from from 6pm to 8pm on March 15, 2012, but her work is visible anytime the Salon is open until the end of April.

Jackson Place Salon
633 Battery St, Ste 117
San Franciso, CA

Pepys Road: online story about Londoners weathering the crash

Matt sez, is an innovative online story based on Capital by John Lanchester, the first big London post-crash novel. Capital interweaves the lives and stories of the residents of Pepys Road, looking at the recent financial crash and its effect on our everyday lives. To support the book, Storythings have been commissioned by Faber and Faber to produce – a unique interactive story based on Capital that asks you to think about how your own life will be affected by events of the coming ʻlost decadeʼ. How will the financial crisis affect the way we live? Our health? Where we go on holidays? Or our education?

Author John Lanchester has written ten original mini-stories which explore each of the next ten years. Over ten days will ask you to think about your future, and how the decisions you make every day affect the world and the people around you. As you progress through the ten installments you make a series of choices that shape the course of your story, and determine where on Pepys Road you might end up living. Each day you discover how your answers compare with those of other users following the story: did you vote with the crowd, or against? Drawing on the themes of the novel and using this individual data will offer a captivating projection of your life in 2021.

Alongside John Lanchesterʼs stories of the future, artist James Bridle has created four interactive data illustrations which tell stories about our past, present and future using the data trails we create online and in the real world.

Pepys Road - Begin your journey

Spiderwebs coat Australian countryside

 Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 497 Overrides Spider-Webs-Australia-Floods-Field 49728 600X450

 Wp-Content Uploads 2012 03 Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 497 Cache Spider-Webs-Australia-Floods-Clouds 49726 600X450 Rain and flooding in the eastern Australian city of Wagga Wagga have driven sheet-web and wolf spiders to higher ground. But there is no accessible higher ground, so the spiders have had to create it themselves by spinning massive webs that sheet the countryside. The photos remind me of the William Shatner classic "Kingdom of the Spiders" (1977).

"Spiderwebs Blanket Countryside After Australian Floods" (National Geographic) (photos by Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

Committee to propose blogger ethics guidelines

The "Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation" is to promulgate your new guidelines for blogging. David Carr in The New York Times:

“This is not an anti-aggregation group, we are pro-aggregation,” Mr. Dumenco told me. “We want some simple, common-sense rules. There should be some kind of variation of the Golden Rule here, which is that you should aggregate others as you would wish to be aggregated yourself.”

The motives are honorable, the objectives reasonable, and the timing ... timely. But no-one is going to care about these folks or whatever theses they nail to pastebin's door, except for their entertainment value. The problem isn't that we lack a necessary formal system of crediting and linking to sources. The problem is that people break and exploit social norms and standards, which can't be regulated by committees.

What's Opera, Doc? the mashup

djBC, the archduke of mashup, has created a video to accompany his 2005 "wemix" of the classic Chuck Jones 1957 Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Opera, Doc?"

Whats Opera, Doc? (dj BC Wemix) (Thanks, djBC!)

George Dyson's history of the computer: Turing's Cathedral

Science historian and perennial Boing Boing favorite George Dyson's latest book is Turing's Cathedral, and it is, in some sense, the book he was born (or at least raised) to write.

Read the rest

Flight attendant rants about plane crash

A flight attendant was "subdued" by passengers after she "started ranting about a possible crash" over the cabin PA system, writes Andrew Stern. Thereafter, drinks were free.

French president's son in tomato attack on police

French president Nicolas Sarkozy apologized to a policewoman struck Thursday by a tomato possibly thrown at her by his teenage son. Louis Sarkozy, 15, and a friend are the only suspects in the fruity fracas. [Reuters]