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"I'm proud of you," deaf man signs to Obama in ASL. "Thank you," president signs back.

[Video Link] From H. Hoover at Distriction blog, a little anecdote about a cool interaction that Stephon, a young man who was "born deaf and justifiably proud," had with the president at a recent event:

Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later.

So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language. “I am proud of you,” Stephon signed. The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back.

“Thank you,” Obama replied.

The whole story is a nice little read.

This has nothing to do with the neat story behind this video, but I've always wondered: is being bald and steely-eyed a requirement for Secret Service agents? I mean, is it in the job description? And if they're not already bald, do they make them shave their heads? Because it seems like every one I've seen in real life, and in this video, is a steely-eyed bald guy. Someone please get back to me on that. Thanks.

(via Steve Silberman)

Girl Walk: 77-minute dance-film accompanies Girl Talk's All Day

Girl Walk is a 77-minute dance film that accompanies Girl Talk's astounding album All Day, produced through an extremely successful Kickstarter project that raised $24,817 out of the $4,800 the producers were seeking. I just watched the first half (it's in a series of segments on Vimeo) and was blown away.

What's the story? A young dancer finds herself disgruntled with her low-paying, mundane waitressing job. One day, she impulsively quits, then takes a ferry to the city. Feeling incredibly inspired by what she sees, Anne dances her way across New York, using the city as her stage. Throughout her journey, she meets characters of all types, including a series of like-minded dancers, who'll inspire new movements, engage her in small battles, and teach her to fear, love, laugh and live anew. From the ferry to museums, subways, ball games, bridges, bodegas, graveyards, flower shops, and more, Anne's journey will bring her far and wide. See the trailer, in full, at http://girlwalkallday.com

Watch the Film | Girl Walk // All Day (via Waxy)

Fooling facial recognition surveillance cameras with cunning and crocheting


[Video Link]

Canadian yarn-lover and privacy-lover Howie Woo has developed an ingenious system for thwarting surveillance cameras that use face recognition technology. His solution involves crochet and LOLs. Here are more photos (via the Boing Boing Flickr Pool). More about Howie's playful creations here.

Will the FAA stop prohibiting electronic devices on commercial flights?

As I noted in a Boing Boing post yesterday, there's news of a possible change ahead for in-flight gadget rules in the US.

The Federal Aviation Administration currently prohibits passengers from using electronic devices on commercial flights when the plane is below 10,000 feet in altitude. But the FAA announced this week that after widespread demands to modify restrictions, there may be new efforts to review whether devices like the iPad or phones in "airplane mode" can be permitted safely during takeoff and landing.

Aviation journalist and pilot Miles O'Brien, who uses his iPad for navigation while flying his own plane, joined KPCC's Patt Morrison show today to discuss the news. Here's a direct MP3 link to the radio segment. It's a good listen.

1977 CB radio ad


This 1977 CB radio ad has it all, from the heavy metal concept album lettering to the lens-flares on every surface -- even a halo for the holy gizmo itself.

1977 CW McCall Midland CB Radio

Dutch Catholic Church accused of castrating 10 young men

In the New York Times, Stephen Castle reports on a case in the Netherlands dating back to the 1950s: Roman Catholic Church officials are accused of surgically castrating as many as ten young men. In at least one case, the act may have been punishment against a child who went to police to report that he had been sexually abused by priests. The castrations may have also been "treatment for homosexuality." The article contains descriptions that may be upsetting.

(via Mia Farrow)

The murder of Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin, 17 (above), was shot to death on February 26 while walking to his dad's girlfriend's house from a convenience store just north of Orlando, Florida. He was unarmed, wearing a hoodie, and carrying some Skittles and iced tea he purchased at the mini-mart.

George Zimmerman, 28 (inset), is the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon. Zimmerman told police he shot the young man in self-defense. As more information about the incident emerges, this explanation sounds increasingly less plausible.

The case has sparked widespread interest and outrage online, in part because Zimmerman remains free, and Trayvon was an innocent kid doing nothing wrong, who cried out for help as he was attacked. His only threat, it seems, was being a black male.

A roundup of links for further reading and following, as the case evolves:

Mother Jones has an excellent explainer piece here, and ongoing coverage.
A New York Times item today: US Grand Jury opens an investigation into the killing. Related news about FBI involvement at the Miami Herald.
• A phone call from Trayvon to a 16-year-old female friend sparks new demands for Zimmerman's arrest.
• "How we can leverage the anger over individual incidents into a larger restructuring of perceptions and justice," asks journalist Farai Chideya. "It’s easy to work up ire about individual cases, but harder to work on systemic change." She's on Twitter here.
Charles Blow at the New York Times has been on the story. One item is here, but his Twitter feed is well worth a follow for ongoing (and paywall-free) updates.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic, has been reporting on the case as well. He's updating on Twitter, too.
• The blog for MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry show is a good source of updates, and the show itself has been covering the case as well.
Think Progress has a "what everyone should know" post here.
• Zimmerman has been variously identified as "White," and "White Hispanic." An NPR opinion piece asks, What if he were black?
• At the Huffington Post, Trymaine Lee has been on the story for weeks, with strong reporting. Worth a Twitter follow. • Farai Chideya points to this Trendsmap of where in the US the #trayvon hashtag is currently trending.


(Thanks to all of my Twitter followers who shared suggestions for good sources of coverage.)

In economically devastated Greece, internet-enabled barter economy rises

An interesting piece in the Guardian this week about cashless commerce in Greece, where the currency crisis has prompted citizens to take unusual measures to obtain essential goods. One exchange website in particular is cited, and a unit of barter known as "tems." The network has been online for about a year and a half. Snip from a portion of Jon Henley's report about the open-air markets where tems are exchanged for daily neccessities:

“They’re quite joyous occasions,” she said. “It’s very liberating, not using money.” At one market, she said, she approached a woman who had come along with three large trays of homemade cakes and was selling them for a unit a cake. “I asked her: ‘Do you think that’s enough? After all, you had the cost of the ingredients, the electricity to cook …’

“She replied: ‘Wait until the market is over’, and at the end she had three different kinds of fruit, two one-litre bottles of olive oil, soaps, beans, a dozen eggs and a whole lot of yoghurt. ‘If I had bought all this at the supermarket,’ she said, ‘it would have cost me a great deal more than what it cost to make these cakes.’”

What rules the system has are designed to ensure the tems continue “to circulate, and work hard as a currency”, said Christos Pappionannou, a mechanical engineer who runs the network’s website using open-source software. No one may hold more than 1,200 tems in the account “so people don’t start hoarding; once you reach the top limit you have to start using them.” And no one may owe more than 300, so people “can’t get into debt, and have to start offering something.

Read the rest here. (via Clayton Cubitt, photo: Lambros Kazan/Shutterstock)

Wooden skyscrapers: efficient, fire-safe, environmentally friendly(ier)

An architect named Michael Green believes he can make wooden skyscrapers that stand 100 storeys tall, and he's prototyping the idea with a 30-storey wooden building in Vancouver. More wooden high-rises are planned in Austria and Norway. Green uses laminated strand lumber, a glue/wood composite, and has char buffers to give it good safety in fires. He claims that his buildings can be cheaper than comparable structures made from traditional steel and concrete, and will have a smaller carbon footprint.

Wood buildings lock in carbon dioxide for the life cycle of a structure, while the manufacture of steel and concrete produces large amounts of CO2 -- the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that for every 10 kilos of cement created, six to nine kilos of CO2 are produced.

Green's "Tallwood" structure is designed with large panels of laminated strand lumber -- a composite made of strands of wood glued together. Other mass timber products use layers of wood fused together at right angels that making they immensely strong and able to be used as lode bearing infrastructure, walls and floors.

Despite being made of wood any worries about towering infernos should be banished, says Green, as large timber performs well in fires with a layer of char insulating the structural wood beneath.

"It may sound counter-intuitive, but performing well in a fire is something inherent in large piece of wood, that's why in forest fires the trees that survive are the largest ones," he says.

Can wooden skyscrapers transform concrete jungles?(via Dvice)

NYPD and Bloomberg vs. Occupy Wall Street: "Just hit them"

"[W]hat's been pretty seriously under-covered is this past weekend's amazing outburst of out-of-control NYPD tactics on Occupy Wall Street," writes Choire Sicha at the Awl, along with a roundup of links and videos illustrating just how out-of-control those NYPD tactics are.

13 days until “The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist”! (and your chance to win free copy)

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Alvin Buenaventura, editor of The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, says

These images (above and after the jump below) are previously unpublished sketchbook pages from The Daniel Clowes Archive. They are some of our favorite drawings that didn't make it into the 230-page book. It was a real treat to spend days looking through Clowes’s many sketchbooks, which are full of amazing stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist will be available April 1st. Order a copy today from your local bookseller, the publisher, or Amazon. OR: Enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of the book autographed by Clowes. Throughout the countdown, one winner will be picked at random every day, so check boingboing.net for the daily code. To enter, send an email to artofdanielclowescontest@gmail.com with your mailing address (no PO boxes please) and put in the subject line today’s contest code: davidboring.

Ascstrip
See the other images

Neil deGrasse Tyson on faster-than-light particles (live streamed event starts at 7:30 pm Eastern)


Video streaming by Ustream

Tonight, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts a roundtable debate on Einstein's Theory of Relativity, its discontents, and how likely the theory is to stand the test of time.

You're all familiar with the recent drama in this department—data from the OPERA experiment in Italy that purported to find neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light. That has since turned out to be the result of a faulty GPS system, but it's not the only challenge to Einstein, and some of those questions can't be discounted nearly as easily.

The debate—which features scientists from UCLA, CERN, Boston University, the MITRE Center, the University of Bologna, and Louisiana State University—starts at 7:30 pm Eastern. You can watch the whole thing in the live stream embedded above.

You can also participate in the debate by tweeting questions to deGrasse Tyson and the panel. You can do that by tagging your question with the hashtag #AsimovDebate.

Famous painter of prehistoric murals for museums, Charles R. Knight - exclusive excerpt

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When you think of dinosaurs, you are imagining them as envisioned by the artist Charles R. Knight 100 years ago.

American wildlife artist Charles R. Knight (1874–1953) spent a lifetime creating scientifically accurate and spectacularly beautiful images of Earth’s ancient past, from dinosaurs and mammoths to saber-toothed cats and early humans. For generations, his groundbreaking work has inspired scientists, artists, and filmmakers all over the world and shaped the way prehistoric times are imagined today.

This stunning volume gathers together both iconic and never-before-seen works from Knight’s days of sketching animals in the newly opened Bronx Zoo, to the decades spent creating murals of prehistoric species for the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum.
This month, Abrams published the beautiful art book, Charles R. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time, by Richard Milner. Abrams has kindly given permission for me to run a selection of images from the book. Enjoy!

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Knight’s 1897 painting of fighting dryptosaurs, called Leaping Laelops. Credit: © AMNH

See all the images in the gallery

Reason TV: Mark Frauenfelder on DIY Super-Humanism, Unschooling and the Future of Print Journalism


[Video Link] Tim Cavanaugh, managing editor of Reason.com, recently came by my house for a video chat. It was a lot of fun!

"You know, I studied mechanical engineering in school and I ended up becoming a journalist. I can name a dozen people right now that I think are amazing people who didn't go to college," says editor of Boing Boing Mark Frauenfelder.

He sat down with managing editor of Reason.com Tim Cavanaugh to talk about alternatives to public school and education in the real world.

Frauenfelder is also the editor of Make magazine, whose newest issue takes a look at do-it-yourself superhumanism, a way of modifying human capabilities through gadgets. Some of the gadgets include a device to play Guitar Hero only using the muscles in your arm and an ankle strap that directs you to where you want to go using cell phone vibraters and GPS.

Cavanaugh and Frauenfelder finally discuss the future of print journalism and why putting a magazine out in 2012 is still a good idea.
Mark Frauenfelder on DIY Super-Humanism, Unschooling and the Future of Print Journalism