Barbiebot and pals

Tal sez, "Tal Avitzur has updated his website with new robot-related night lights made from scrap metal and other urban salvage: Barbiebot, Snork, Work in progress. Tal has been invited to show his work with the Applied Kinetic Arts group this year at the Bay Area Maker Faire."

Scientists regenerate hair on bald mouse (video)

Above, your moment of science zen for the weekend. Using an innovative application of stem cells, researchers at the Tokyo University of Science have regenerated hair on a bald mouse. Their accomplishment is described as a breakthrough, and inspires hopes of an alternative to hair transplants for bald guys who rely on toupees and comb-overs (or as they're known in Japan, "bar codes"). From a blog post at the Wall Street Journal, by Eleanor Warnock:

After cultivating two different kinds of cells taken from hair follicles in mice, the team transplanted the cells into the hair follicles of a bald mouse. Within three weeks, 74% of the hair follicles implanted with the cells grew back hair. The new hair connected with nerves and surrounding tissues showing that the follicles had become fully functional and were able to regrow hair even after hair was pulled out. The scientists were also able to play around with the density and color of the hair by changing the type of cells they transplanted into the mouse’s hair follicles. When they used cells from a human hair follicle, a human hair grew.

The results were published this week in the online journal Nature Communications. Jokes aside, the focus isn't so much male premature baldness, but helping people who have lost hair due to injury or disease. Not because premature baldness isn't a problem worth addressing, but because the technique at work here would be tough to apply for larger areas of hair growth. (thanks, @steppinlazer)

Seed of Yggdrasil: nifty 3d-printed sculpture based on Celtic-style knot in Norse mythology

Joaquin Baldwin, whose wonderful creative work we've featured on Boing Boing before, shares these photos of a lovely 3d-printed sculpture he's just created. You can purchase your very own, right here. Cat not included.

Joaquin explains:

I made a sculpture of 3d printed awesomeness and wanted to share it with you, I hope you like it. It is titled The Seed of Yggdrasil. The design is based on the classic Celtic-style knot symbol for the tree of life from Norse mythology, Yggdrasil.

Inside the leaves you can see a small sphere of blue. If you looked reaaally carefully, you would notice that the continents in the blue ball are in the shape of Pangea and not our current distribution. The texture is amazing, the little ridges from the 3D printing process give it a very natural and tactile feel, and the colors are really vibrant. And the cat didn't care at all.

Read the rest

Lamb and girl butt heads

[Video Link] But neither the lamb nor the young woman are buttheads.

More at Camels and Friends, and here's their YouTube channel. I liked this video a lot, too.

(via Clayton Cubitt)

Canada's national copyright office doesn't understand copyright

Mark sez, "Canada's official, federal IP Office website offers a quiz to help the public learn about copyright - but the "correct" answer to one important question is in fact wrong, suggesting that some legitimate copying practices are infringement."

What constitutes a copyright infringement?
* Reproducing an article without the owner’s permission
* Playing songs on the radio without the owner’s permission
* Recording the performance of your favourite group without permission
* All of the above

According to the quiz, “all of the above” is the correct answer, but this is not true in Canadian copyright law. None of the above uses are categorically infringements: some uses are protected by the fair dealing exemption, others by licensing. The quiz offers no explanation for designating its purported correct answer.

I find this error a troubling detail, as it shows the national copyright office to be publicizing incorrect legal information and misleading the public on an aspect of copyright law that is important to everyday users of copyrighted materials.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office gets its own quiz wrong

To do this weekend in SF Bay Area: Robogames

Robogames, an annual robot hoedown, takes place this weekend in San Mateo. $25 for adults, $0-$20 for kids depending on age, free for active duty military. Bring hearing protection and a love of machines, noise, and mayhem. It's a ton of fun. I'm late posting this, but it's not too late for you to go: ticket sales online ticket sales are closed, but they're available on-site at the San Mateo Fairgrounds noon-7pm Sunday 22 April (map).

Photos: Above, an audience member is entranced by robot dance moves. Below, "Last Rites" delivers a lethal hit against "VD6" for a knockout in a heavyweight combat prelim round. By Dave Schumaker.

Could this be the best bad music video of all time? 3 Second Rule, by Lisa Gail Allred

[Video Link] Maybe. It's a good contender for the next "Pardon Me." Mined from the internet by the honorable funnyhunter Robert Popper, of Friday Night Dinner and Look Around You: Season One and The Timewaster Letters fame.

WaPo scapegoating blogger

A Washington Post blogger resigned after plagiarizing others' work on two separate occasions. The copypasta, however, was done under working conditions that make the newspaper look worse than her. WaPo ombudsman Patrick Pexton takes a swipe at his employers for getting 6 traditionally-styled stories a day out of her.

On many days Flock was the only reporter filing ... These are not 100-word briefs but often 500-word summaries of complicated news events... Flock made two mistakes in the past four months, which earned her two tough editor’s notes disavowing her actions. ...

It appears that she copied, pasted and slightly rewrote two paragraphs from [a] Discovery story. Plagiarism perhaps, but also a perpetual danger in aggregated stories. After Discovery News raised objections, Flock resigned voluntarily. She said that the mistakes were hers. She said it was only a matter of time before she made a third one; the pressures were just too great.

Katharine Zaleski, WaPo's executive director of digital news, was in hard form: "The Washington Post’s standards apply every bit as much to our digital work as they do to our print edition. And our bloggers honor that.” Pexton implies that Zaleski failed her, however, because there's no cultivating environment or mentoring there.

Both of them are masking the real problem. It isn't about talent cultivation and it isn't really about honoring standards. The problem is that the Washington Post wants to have the cake and eat it too. It is content-farming mountains of coverage with overworked bloggers, but is too prideful to let them bang it out using approprately short blog-post formats.

The paragraphs in question should have simply been block-quoted with a link. This would have been less work than write-through plagiarism. But the pressure is to produce items with the superficial appearance of meatier, reported news stories. So that's what they get.

And when the lie shines though because the veneer is too thin? Scapegoat the writer instead of 'fessing up to the fact that they're belatedly following in Arianna's footsteps, and can't even get that right.

Gun ad: you can keep this one cocked under your pillow


Though slightly less extreme than the ad that suggested letting your kids play with your guns in bed, this 1913 Colt ad that advertisement makes hay out of the fact that they make the kind of piece you can "safely" keep under your pillow while sleeping is a bit on the weirdo/paranoid side.

Colt (1913)

Pajamas from the golden age of men's sleepwear


A pair of posts on the Vintage Ads LJ group by Man Writing Slash collect a series of ads from the golden age of men's sleepwear, when pajamas were glorious, stylish, and the kind of thing you'd hang out with your buddies and compare notes on. I am a huge believer in pajamas (many commented on my sleepwear sartori when I posted a photo of me in the morning at a hotel, and there were a lot of comments when I mentioned flying in pajamas). The jim-jams on display in these ads are total catnip for me.

Men with Men in Pajamas - 1

Men with Men in Pajamas - 2

On legalizing sex-work and "Would you want your kid to be a prostitute?"

On Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews, a smart, to-the-point commentary on legalizing sex-work:

And, of course, I’m open to the question of whether legalization results in more trafficking (it seems to vary by country), and so on, but I’ve never heard a decent rejoinder to the idea that men and women can decide to have sex with each other for any, any random/shitty/nice reason they want (boredom, vengeance, lust, love, can’t afford movie tickets, hatred, etc.) EXCEPT for this one: one of those people has money to offer, and the other person needs the money...

And I’m particularly aggravated, when I support legalizing sex work, and people say triumphantly: “would you want your daughter to be a sex worker?” as though that should matter. I’d rather she not be a lobbyist, or work in a sweatshop, or a coal mine, or be a malpractice lawyer, either. But it doesn’t have a lot to do with me, either way, and if she were to do any of these things, I’d like her to be able to call the cops on someone attempting to take advantage of her, and be able to use Turbo Tax at the end of the year to report her income.

There’s a Big Thing On Legalizing Sex Work

Megaupload founder will likely never go to trial, says US judge

Remember earlier this year when the New Zealand government and the US government conspired to send a SWAT team to arrest Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, shut down the service, make 220 people unemployed, seize Dotcom's assets, and deprive millions of users of access to their files? Well now a US judge says that the trial against Dotcom will probably never proceed, because the US government didn't ever formally charge Dotcom. This wasn't a mere oversight, either. They were not legally allowed to charge him. TorrentFreak reports:

“I frankly don’t know that we are ever going to have a trial in this matter,” Judge O’Grady said as reported by the NZ Herald.

Judge O’Grady informed the FBI that Megaupload was never served with criminal charges, which is a requirement to start the trial. The origin of this problem is not merely a matter of oversight. Megaupload’s lawyer Ira Rothken says that unlike people, companies can’t be served outside US jurisdiction.

“My understanding as to why they haven’t done that is because they can’t. We don’t believe Megaupload can be served in a criminal matter because it is not located within the jurisdiction of the United States,” Rothken says.

Megaupload’s lawyer adds that he doesn’t understand why the US authorities weren’t aware of this problem before. As a result Judge O’Grady noted that Megaupload is “kind of hanging out there.”

TorrentFreak followed up their coverage with a furious interview with Dotcom:

If Judge O’Grady is to be believed all this damage could very well have been for nothing because the authorities simply can’t serve foreign companies. This could lead one to wonder whether the whole setup was to simply destroy Mega’s businesses.

This is certainly a theory Dotcom subscribes to, and it’s not the only dirty trick Megaupload’s founder believes the US Government is playing. The US is structurally denying Megaupload the chance to put up a fair fight.

“We are refused access to the evidence that clears us, we are refused funds to pay our lawyers, we are refused to pick the lawyers we want to represent us and have any chance for a fair trial,” Dotcom says.

For Megaupload the worst part is that the damage can’t be undone. The site has been completely destroyed as well as the plans to become a publicly traded company.

“We have already been served a death sentence without trial and even if we are found ‘not guilty’ which we will, the damage can never be repaired,” Dotcom says.

Megaupload Trial May Never Happen, Judge Says

Daniel Pinkwater explains his role in the mystery of the NY State reading test pineapple race kerfuffle

Absurdist kids' literature hero Daniel Pinkwater is at the center of an appropriately absurd kerfuffle. An eighth-grade New York reading test published by Pearson republishes an edited (and much less funny) version of a fairy tale told in his novel Borgel (reprinted in this outstanding omnibus). In the original, an eggplant challenges a rabbit to a footrace and a group of spectator animals bet on the eggplant (figuring it must know something they don't). But eggplants can't run, so it loses. Then the animals eat it.

The test version changed the eggplant to a pineapple, and rewrote the passage so it is in "test-ese," then asked the kids to explain the "meaning" of the scene. Lots of students are mystified by this, and so is Pinkwater, who gave a gracious interview with the WSJ on the subject (who didn't do him the favor of mentioning that he has a tremendous new book coming out next week called Mrs Noodlekugel, which I'll be reviewing when it's out).

It’s a nuclear little family, a mother, father and three kids. An old man shows up at the door and says, “Hello, I’m your relative, I’m 111 years old.”

“You’re our relative how?”

He said, “I’m not quite clear about that. I know we’re related. I’m moving in.” And he brings in all his valises and moves into the back room. He becomes great friends with his great-great-great nephew.

In this particular passage, they’re on a bus, and Borgel, the old man, is telling him one of these fractured fables after another. And much better things happen. They go on a time-space adventure, and they meet God, who happens to be an orange popsicle. I think this may the only work of fiction in which it’s revealed that God can take the form of an orange popsicle, which I believe he can.

In the book, the moral is never bet on an eggplant. The old man is gradually giving the nephew reason to believe that he is senile or crazy by the things he says or does, so that the nephew will be alarmed but not surprised when the old man appears to be stealing a car. They take off on a road trip in it. But as far as I am able to ascertain from my own work, there isn’t necessarily a specifically assigned meaning in anything.

That really is why it’s hilarious on the face of it that anybody creating a test would use a passage of mine, because I’m an advocate of nonsense. I believe that things mean things but they don’t have assigned meanings.

I’m on this earth to put up a feeble fight against the horrible tendency people have to think that there’s a formula. “If I do the following things, I’ll get elected president.” No you won’t. “If I do the following things, my work of art will be good.” Not necessarily. “If I follow this recipe, the dish will come out very delicious.” Maybe.

Trust me, there is no formula for most things that are not math.

Daniel Pinkwater on Pineapple Exam: ‘Nonsense on Top of Nonsense’ (Thanks, Jennifer!)

CISPAcat: using memes to fight America's terrible, net-breaking "cybersecurity" bill


Zakkai from Fight for the Future (the folks who brought you the war on SOPA) sez, "Want to fight for Internet privacy with cute cat photos? CISPAcat is a new advice animal that wants nothing more than to spy on your internet activity. He's the child of the privacy-killing cybersecurity bill CISPA and the equally creepy ceiling cat. Check him out and submit your own. Curious why CISPA is so bad? Read about it at the EFF's website."

CISPA CAT IS WATCHING YOU