Boing Boing 

Liberating America's secret, for-pay laws

[Editor's note: This morning, I found a an enormous, 30Lb box waiting for me at my post-office box. Affixed to it was a sticker warning me that by accepting this box into my possession, I was making myself liable for nearly $11 million in damages.

Read the rest

Banksy did not steal from Crap Hound

 I posted last week about Banksy possibly stealing written material from Sean Tejaratchi in Crap Hound. Like most rumors, the truth is significantly less salacious. In fact, it sounds like this whole thing was just a big, sloppy misunderstanding.

I'm a fan of Banksy's work and was relieved to hear this. Apologies to him for any negativity our post sent your way. 

You can read Sean's explanation here.

FAA to review in-flight gadget policies, maybe, eventually

The US Federal Aviation Administration today announced it is exploring ways to make it easier for airlines to allow travelers to use connected gadgets like phones, iPads, and tablet PCs during plane takeoff and landing.

A statement released today says the FAA is “exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved” (airlines, plane manufacturers, consumer electronics producers, and unions representing flight attendants) to discuss the possibility of testing devices to determine if they are safe for passengers to use during the most critical phases of flight.

“No changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security," read the statement. FAA rules currently require fliers to shut down their electronic devices when the plane's altitude is below 10,000 feet.

Snip from Nick Bilton at the NYT's Bits blog:

Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, explained that the current guidelines require that an airline must test each version of a single device before it can be approved by the F.A.A. For example, if the airline wanted to get approval for the iPad, it would have to test the first iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad, each on a separate flight, with no passengers on the plane.

It would have to do the same for every version of the Kindle. It would have to do it for every different model of plane in its fleet. And American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.) Ms. Lunardini added that Virgin America would like to perform these tests, but the current guidelines make it “prohibitively expensive, especially for an airline with a relatively small fleet that is always in the air on commercial flights like ours.”

More at the New York Times, Associated Press, and Wall Street Journal.

Photo: "Person Holding a Business Phone While on a Plane," Jim Lopes, Shutterstock.

Guitarist sought for Metal Band

A Craigslist of Greatness:

** READ THIS ** Take a few seconds and read what I am into. Now imagine you contacting me and eventually calling me, and asking if I would like to play some blues. Or some 60s Rock. Or some Stone Temple Pilots. Or some Nickleback. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, AUSTIN? NO! The title says "Guitarist for Metal Band", not "Guitarist for chicken fucking, bluesy-riffs, and sonic diarrhea".

I don't care if it's real or not: Guitarist for Metal Band.

(via Mikael Jorgensen; photo: "Electric bass-guitar player surrounded with fire," by Sinelyov, via Shutterstock)

Aibo, Japan's Beatboxing Princess, with and without cats (video)

Aibo is a skilled beatboxer from Japan.

Here's her YouTube channel, and you can follow her on Twitter. Above, a little video featuring her work from MyISH.

The MyISH folks tell us she's "a friend/protege" of fellow Japanese beatboxer Hikakin, who was recently featured here on Boing Boing.

I approve, and most of all I approve of her collaboration with a cat named Nao (below).

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Google Wave users receive fail-tastic sunset notification

Google Wage. LOL.

Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch

Link. (Red Scharlach Points At Interesting Things, via Andrea James)

Tiny, behind-the-ear R2D2 tattoo


Found on Fuck Yeah, Tattoos, an adorable behind-the-ear droid

R2D2 (via The Mary Sue)

The Kickstarter to end all Kickstarters

Oh, this is rich: I Would Like to Buy Kickstarter, by Eric Moneypenny. (via Joe Sabia)

Pianist with synesthesia performs Bach "in color" (video)

[Video Link] BB pal Joe Sabia points us to this incredible video by Evan Shinners, Julliard-trained pianist and "best Bach player around." In the video, Shinners shows the world the colors he sees when he plays: he has synesthesia. You can follow him on Twitter, and check him out live on one of his upcoming tour dates.

Review: Lightly Salted Peanuts, by Delta Airlines


I enjoyed my lightly peanutted salt.

Pirate Bay servers going airborne in tiny drones

Now that The Pirate Bay is serving tiny "magnet links" instead of torrents, its whole database will fit in 90MB. That means that they can use much lighter-weight server hardware, including tiny Raspberry Pi boxes in RC drones with long-range wireless Internet links. They say that this means that you'll need the Air Force to take them down -- though presumably you can still attack their ground-stations with more conventional technology (presuming you can find them).

With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we're going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air. This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.

We're just starting so we haven't figured everything out yet. But we can't limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we're building, that's more than enough.

But when time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy, being true to our slogan of being the galaxy's most resilient system. And all of the parts we'll use to build that system on will be downloadable.

TPB LOSS

Gweek 044: Sarah Vowell interviewed about her book, Unfamiliar Fishes

In Gweek episode 044, I interviewed Sarah Vowell about her book Unfamiliar Fishes. It's a history of Hawaii between the time of the arrival of the first Christian missionaries and its annexation to the United States in the late 1890s.

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Mark Abel's The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits

Charles says:

Screen Shot 2012-03-19 At 3.37.00 Pm Mark Abel is a former rock musician and studio engineer who has bravely chosen to join an endangered species: He is a modern composer of serious music. "Serious" however does not mean "atonal" or "boring" or "hard to listen to" in his case. His most recent release, The Dream Gallery, is extremely beautiful, with haunting melodies and lyrics sung by world-class vocalists. Mark describes his compositions as "postmodern art songs." I have heard nothing quite like them.

Mark spent a large chunk of his own money on an orchestra instead of just settling for sampled instruments. Still, this labor of love doesn't cost a lot.

The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits -- Amazon, iTunes, Delos

Kids' summer activity: frozen plastic dinosaurs


Jennifer Perkins on Naughty Secretary Club has a great idea for spring/summer fun with your kids: freeze a bag of dinosaur toys in a block of ice and then stage a sunny-day excavation:

The hardest part about this activity was finding the room in my freezer. It works best if you freeze in batches. The plastic dinosaurs will float to the top if you try and freeze the whole tub at once. I added a little blue food coloring to my water for extra excitement... Tallulah soon discovered that water was the best tool of all for freeing her dinosaurs from their icy prison. We had chats about paleontology, melting ice, cold vs. hot - many a good lesson can be learned with this activity.

Naughty Secretary Club: Spring Break Fun with the Kiddlets - Excavating Dinosaurs from Ice (via Super Punch)

Listen to a sane debate about nuclear energy

What happens when you get the chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the chief scientist of Greenpeace, an energy and environmental policy expert, and an environmental activist/politician in a room together to talk about nuclear energy?

You can listen to the whole (very, very interesting) conversation—part of the Science Question Time series—which was recorded last Thursday at the Institute of Physics in London.

I recently started describing my position on nuclear energy as "frienemies"—I'm not strictly against it, and think we're likely to need it, but I also have some serious issues with how safety is regulated and what we will do with the waste. I think this nuanced discussion did a nice job of laying out the benefits and detriments in a reasonable way. The discussion gets heated, but it is pleasantly lacking in the sort of wild-eyed propaganda and not-particularly-comforting-corporate-pronouncements that tend to characterize these sorts of debates. (Or, rather, it would be, were it not for one memorable audience heckler.)

Download the audio file.

Visit the Biochemical Society's website for updates about future Science Question Time events.

Danny Hellman's illustrations for a book project killed by the estate of Dr. Seuss

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Danny Hellman, who did fantastic illustrations for bOING bOING (the zine) is posting a selection of 80 illustrations he did for a book about the lousy job prospects for college grads, written in the style of Dr. Seuss. The book will never see the light of day, thanks to Seuss's small-hearted lawyers.
201203191216 A few months into the project, (after I’d turned in about half of the book’s 80 or so illos) the publisher sent promo materials for the book out to retailers. Apparently, some wicked, Grinch-like person felt compelled to pass these materials along to attorneys who work for the Ted Geisel estate, at which point this flock of legal carrion birds descended on my publisher much as the Onceler clan does on a newly-discovered forest of virgin Truffula trees.

Okay, enough of the Seuss metaphors. Suffice to say that my publisher was hit with a Cease & Desist letter, and the project was killed, in spite of our well-established First Amendment right to commit parody.

Sometimes it’s actually a relief when jobs get killed, but more often it comes as a bit of a heartbreak, (at least in my experience), and this episode definitely falls into the second category. In spite of the generous kill fee I was paid, I was disappointed that these drawings would never be seen. Now that some time has passed, I’ve picked twelve of my favorites, which I’ll post in two batches. I hope you like them!

Oh, The Jobs That Get Killed, Part One

Crowdfunding the hunt for habitable moons

We've talked before about scientists using Rockethub to fund basic laboratory research—stuff that's important, but not likely to lead immediately to new technologies or other marketable products.

It's often hard to find the funding necessary to support this kind of research, and crowd funding is a great way to leverage public interest in science. Better yet, there's now a whole crowd-funding website dedicated specifically to the sciences.

The video above explains one of the projects that's trying to raise money through Petridish right now. David Kipping is a Harvard postdoc and a NASA Carl Sagan fellow. He wants to conduct the first ever survey of exomoons—moons outside our solar system.

Partially, his research is about understanding the universe. Knowing more about exomoons will teach us a lot about how solar systems, in general, work. But it's also about that tickly, exciting possibility of life on other planets. As we all learned from watching Return of the Jedi, it is possible to have a habitable moon. So far, the search for habitable exoplanets hasn't taken moons into consideration. Kipping's study would change that. But to make it work, he needs to buy a supercomputer. And for that, he needs your help. Kipping is within $3500 of his goal and has 14 days left to go.

Read more about Kipping's project at Petridish

Find lots more scientific research that needs your support.

Video Link

Hitler toilet-paper wants you to add the mustache


DrawTheShitler sells rolls of toilet roll printed with a caricature of a mustache-less Hitler. You supply the mustache when you wipe.

DrawTheShitler

Kickstarter for full-length musical called "Passed Over"


My friend Bill Burnett is writing a full-length musical called Passed Over. He's a terrific musician and was the VP and Creative Director at Hanna-Barbera. I can't wait to see this on opening night.

It's a fresh take on the Exodus story from the POV of the slaves, the people in the streets. Who were they? How did they feel about this Moses guy trying to liberate them by doing tricks with his stick? Bill refers to himself as a Secular Jewmanist, and he's sort of subversively using the Bible story of Exodus to (the slaves escaping from Egypt) to create a piece that will be a voice for the Occupy movement, and for all oppressed people everywhere who are rising up against inequality.

Passed Over, The New Musical.

We need to talk about red meat ...

Last week, you probably heard about a study purporting to show that consuming any amount of red meat significantly upped your risk of premature death. If that news has you freaked out, I highly recommend reading Deborah Blum's roundup of high-quality news coverage of this study. Her piece explains what the study does say, what it doesn't say, and why some evidence is better than other evidence. The takeaway: You should probably be reducing the amount of processed meat that you eat (but we already knew that).

Return of Mat Ricardo's London Varieties

Juggler/impresario Mat Ricardo sez, "Just wanted to say a big thanks to all the BoingBoingers who came to Mat Ricardo's London Varieties last month - it was a sell-out, and a hell of a show, partly because of our smart, savvy and fun audience. All the performers are telling me how much they're loving working to such great people, so I couldn't be happier. Next month's show is April 12th, with another killer line-up - a street performer who made it to the Royal Variety show, and beyond - The Boy With Tape On His Face, Time-travelling magicians Morgan & West, Shadowgrapher Paul Dabek, and in performance and in conversation, the legendary Lenny Beige. The podcast of last months show is available here, and you can buy tickets for the April 12th show here."

The battery beneath your feet

How many batteries have you used today?

Energy storage devices have become an integral part of our lives, but they still aren't really a part of our electric grid. There are some good reasons for that—at that scale of storage, batteries become gigantic and extremely expensive. But the lack of storage on the grid has some distinct drawbacks, putting the stability of our electric system at risk and making it harder to add in lots of renewable energy generation.

Because of that, researchers are looking for ways to get the benefits of batteries without some of the detriments. There are lots of different ways to do this, but one solution is particularly awesome to describe. Hint: It involves caves.

Last Friday, I had a guest post on i09 explaining Compressed Air Energy Storage, an old technology that could be one of the most cost-effective ways to store energy at a grid scale.

At any given moment, there must be almost exactly the same amount of electricity being produced as there is being consumed. If the balance tilts either way-even by a fraction of a percent-it could lead to a blackout. To simply keep the lights on, the grid has to be constantly monitored, with controllers predicting demand and making small adjustments, minute-by-minute, to supply. This happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

... That's where CAES comes in. CAES systems store energy underground in the form of compressed air, but to make it work you have to start with the right kind of geology. In particular, you need a space that's airtight. This means that you can't just pump air into the sort of cave you've toured while on vacation. Instead, you have to find a hollowed-out space underground that used to hold something naturally-such as a natural gas reservoir that's had all of the gas pumped out of it.

Read the rest at i09

Learn more about how the grid works and why storage is so important by reading my book, Before the Lights Go Out.

Image: Holes in porous rock, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from blmurch's photostream

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist: 2 week countdown and exclusive daily book giveaway


[Video Link] If you've been reading Boing Boing for any length of time, you probably know by now Daniel Clowes is at the top of my list of greatest living cartoonists. (See our many posts about Dan's work, interviews, profiles, etc.).

So you will understand why I'm so excited about the forthcoming monograph, The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura (the great comic book publisher and historian), and published by Abrams ComicArts. On April 5, Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles is holding an event to celebrate the release of the book. Part of the festivities will include a live interview with Dan, conducted by yours truly. If you buy a copy of The Art of Daniel Clowes through Meltdown, you'll get 2 tickets to the event (and Dan will sign it for you that evening). Additional tickets can be purchased for $10.

Also, enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of the book autographed by Daniel Clowes. Throughout our countdown, one winner will be picked at random every day, so check Boing Boing for the daily code. To enter, send an email to artofdanielclowescontest@gmail.com with your mailing address (no PO boxes please) and put today’s contest code: [enidcoleslaw] in the subject line.

For the next two weeks, I'll post a daily countdown entry about Clowes and his book, written by Dan or Alvin. The official release date is April, 1, but you can get it today on Amazon.

Here's today's countdown post: ¡Ay Dan Clowes! (Los Simpson en Español) y Correa de la Utilidad del Batman

201203191048

Daniel Clowes, along with Art Spiegelman and Alan Moore, appeared on The Simpsons episode titled "Husbands and Knives," first broadcast on November 18, 2007. Clowes was asked to draw a version of Batman's utility belt, but it was too detailed for the show’s minimal style.

Two-Week Countdown to the Release of "The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist"!

3D-printed adapter bricks allow interconnection between ten kids' construction toys

Golan sez, "The Free Universal Construction Kit is a collection of adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to join to any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems—enabling the creation of previously impossible designs, and ultimately, more creative opportunities for kids. As with other grassroots interoperability remedies, the Free Universal Construction Kit implements proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet, or unmeetable, by corporate interests."

F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab are pleased to present the Free Universal Construction Kit: a matrix of nearly 80 adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten* popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to join to any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems—enabling radically hybrid constructive play, the creation of previously impossible designs, and ultimately, more creative opportunities for kids. As with other grassroots interoperability remedies, the Free Universal Construction Kit implements proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet—or unmeetable—by corporate interests.

The Free Universal Construction Kit offers adapters between Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob. Our adapters can be downloaded from Thingiverse.com and other sharing sites as a set of 3D models in .STL format, suitable for reproduction by personal manufacturing devices like the Makerbot (an inexpensive, open-source 3D printer).

OK, that's pretty badass right there.

The Free Universal Construction Kit

Just look at these BBQ'ed Banana Boats


Just look at them.

Banana Boats (via Neatorama)

TSA searches body-casted three-year-old in a wheelchair

Here's a video of a Chicago TSA operative searching a three year old boy who is in a wheelchair, wearing a body-cast, on the way to his family trip to Disney World. The boy's parents were not allowed to hold him or touch him to comfort him during the procedure.

A toddler in a wheelchair is stopped by the TSA at ORD (O'Hare Airport in Chicago) and forced to into a sequestered area. On his way to a family vacation in Disney, this 3 year old boy is in a body cast for a broken leg. Despite assurances from his father that "everything is ok", he is physically trembling with fear while he watches his two siblings, mother, father, grandfather and grandmother pass through along with everyone else...only to be singled out.

TSA Nabs Suspected Al Queda Terrorist At O'Hare International Airport, A toddler in a wheelchair (via Reddit)

Steampunk Portal cosplay boots


Batman-and-bananas from DeviantArt created a fantastic springheeled set of cosplay boots as part of a steampunk version of Chell from Portal 2.

These started as two pairs of shoes, one cheap pair of black pleather boots and an old pair of canvas shoes. The heel 'spring' is actually plastic tubing as I could screw this straight into the heel to secure it firmly (plus a lot more sensible to walk in).

Steampunk Portal Boots (via Craft)

Matt Haughey on the joys of Internet "lifestyle business" vs the grind of fast startups

Metafilter founder Matt Haughey gave an inspiring talk at Webstock about being a 40-year-old Web geek who came of age in the Bay Area in the 1990s dotcom boom. Matt talks about finding work-life balance, and how hard that is to do if you follow the grow-big-fast model of Internet startups. He describes another way: growing slowly, working sane hours, self-funding, and producing "lifestyle" businesses that employ the founders and a few others in a relatively stable way that makes everyone happy and sustains them financially. My Webstock Talk

Chameleon on the head of a match

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This fellow is Brookesia micra, a tiny chameleon species newly discovered on the island of Madagascar. Seen here is a juvenile, but even an adult only reaches approximately one inch long. According to National Geographic, "Scientists (from Germany's Zoological State Collection) think the diminutive new chameleon species might represent extreme cases of island dwarfism, whereby organisms shrink in size due to limited resources on islands." "Unmatched Among Chameleons?"