Boing Boing 

Review of an app that tells you how many women are in bars

My friend Lessley Anderson has a piece on The Verge about testing out SceneTap, an "app that lets you see what bars are full, and what percentage of the patrons are female." She invited along a professional pick-up artist coach named Mike Smooth.

Screen Shot 2012 05 30 at 11 05 22 AMSceneTap said The Wreck Room was 35% women, average age 23, and 65% men, average age 32. Pretty accurate, though Smooth guessed the female percentage to be a notch higher.

According to SceneTap, the app makes these determinations via a camera positioned at the bar's front door. Facial recognition algorithms predict age and gender based on things like space between eyes, and then, says the company, the footage is instantly erased.

Smooth wasn't too concerned about privacy: "When you're in a public place, there are cameras everywhere," he said. He was more skeptical that the algorithms could know whether a chick was a chick. "This is, after all, San Francisco," he said. If they did, it would be a boon for ABCs bootcamps, which turn students loose in bars to practice approaching and charming groups, or "sets," of females. Instructors need to know where there is a high density of women, said Smooth, "because students crash and burn for a few sets before they get it."

A night on the town with SceneTap

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Obama Sparks Creationism Controversy With "Evolution" of His Gay Marriage Position

Support Tom the Dancing Bug and receive untold BENEFITS and PRIVILEGES by joining the brand new INNER HIVE right now!

“$9.99 every six months to support one of my all-time favorite comics. Boom, done.” -John Gruber, Daring Fireball, INNER HIVE member since four weeks ago

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Woman fined for blowing whistle into phone

WhistleA German woman, annoyed by telemarketers who called her frequently, blew a whistle into the phone to discourage further calls. The telemarketer who received the blast claims to have suffered hearing problems, and now the whistle blower has a criminal record and an €800 fine to pay. (Photo: Shutterstock)

On drones, terrorist suspects, and Obama's "kill lists"

In the New York Times, a feature on how President Obama personally decides who to target with US drone strikes:

“How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.”

It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.

Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.

Secret ‘Kill List’ Tests Obama’s Principles - NYTimes.com.

Spider trapped in ball-point pen maze


[Video Link] The man with the pen represents a totalitarian government. The pen markings represent the populace's diminishing freedom under totalitarian rule. The spider represents a repressed people who will rebel after being pushed too hard. (Via biotv)

Spinning wheel metes out random punishment to kids

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Jose R. Gonzalez was issued a patent in 1989 for his punishment wheel.

An apparatus for choosing a punishment for a child, and a method of its use, are disclosed. An assortment of adhesive-backed decals designating various punishments is provided. Decals selected from the assortment by the parents are positioned around a base wheel. The child spins a knob and pointer that are centrally and rotatably mounted on the base wheel. When the knob and pointer come to rest, that punishment is imposed as indicated by the pointer.

Punishments include: "NO TV," "GROUNDED," "TIME OUT," "K.P.," "NO DESSERT," "DONATE A TOY," "NO SPORTS," "NO PHONE," "NO FRIENDS," "SWATS," "NO VISITING," "NO TREAT," "HOUSE CHORES."

Also, "PARENTS CHOICE," (parent chooses the punishment to be imposed on the child), and "KID'S CHOICE," (child choose his own punishment).

Punishment wheel (Via Futility Closet)

Julian Assange loses extradition fight in UK court, lawyers have 14 days to appeal

The highest UK court has ruled that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault. The decision is the result of a legal battle spanning a year and a half. In a Wikileaks statement released before the ruling, Assange maintains that the sexual misconduct case is part of a "coordinated effort" engineered by "US, UK, Swedish and Australian governments" to bring him closer to extradition to the US, "to face espionage charges for journalistic activities."

His attorneys have two weeks to appeal today's decision, over the point of whether the UK court is correctly interpreting international treaties.

From the Guardian:

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Kevin Dart's new Boing Boing T-shirt

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We've got a new shirt in our fabulous series of Boing Boing artist series T-shirts. It's by illustrator Kevin Dart, the creator of Yuki 7. It's $16.95 in the Boing Boing Shop!

Boing Boing Ship


Demolish Serious Culture
$14.95

Boing Boing Critter - Baby Snapsuit
$8.95

Boing Boing Skullcap
$14.95

Boing Boing Monkey
$14.95

Boing Boing Skullcap - Baby Snapsuit
$8.95

Boing Boing Beetle
$14.95

Unizilla
$14.95

Boing Boing Critter
$14.95

Japan’s hidden tropical island: Aogashima

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Tofugu has a short article on this unusual and beautiful Japanese island: Aogashima.

Aogashima (“blue island”) is a tropical, volcanic island in the Phillipine Sea. Despite being over 200 miles away from the country’s capital, Aogashima is governed by Tokyo. In fact, a whole stretch of tropical and sometimes uninhabited islands called the Izu Islands are technically part of Tokyo. Volcanic islands? Not typically what comes to mind when you think of Tokyo.

As you might imagine, Aogashima isn’t the most crowded place in the world. As of this year, only about 200 people live on Aogashima. The island only has one post office and one school.

There are two ways on and off the island: by helicopter or by boat. There’s only one, small harbor where the boats go in an out of, and it seems to be a little unreliable. Because Aogashima is so remote and isolated, it can sometimes be hard to get a boat to or from the island safely.

A fellow named Izuyan has been traveling to isolated islands of Japan and taking excellent photos. Here's his Flickr set for Aogashima.

Japan’s Hidden Tropical Island: Aogashima(Via imgur)

Man kicks sand with "incredible power," forcing tourists to go home


[Video Link]

TV news reporter: "The wind blows with incredible power, there are moments when it is impossible to stand up here. The wind blows the sand at over 60 km per hour. The wind blew away the beach umbrellas and the tourists had to leave in a hurry."

(Pan to news crew worker kicking sand into the air.)

Tiny house in Oakland built for $5k

NewImageLloyd Kahn, author of Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter, posted this photo of a 120-square-foot house built on a trailer chassis. The house will feature a full kitchen, composting toilet, outdoor shower, sleeping loft custom built in furniture and a fireplace. The siding is reclaimed redwood fensing and flooring is maple re-purposed from an old roller skating rink in Petaluma.

Oakland Tiny House

Naked man killed by police was "eating" face off victim

A Miami police officer spotted a naked man chewing off another man's face on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp at 2pm on Saturday. When the naked cannibal ignored the officer's commands to stop, the officer shot the cannibal. But the cannibal continued to eat his victim's face. Witnesses said the officer had to shoot to cannibal at least a half dozen times before he ceased chewing on the victim's face.

Boing Boing interviews Best Coast


[Video Link] I like the band Best Coast because listening to them makes it feel like a California summer no matter what season it is. They have a great new album out, called The Only Place.

Last week my friend Ava and I interviewed them at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, a couple of hours before they performed. Our friend Maureen Herman (the bass player for Babes in Toyland) shot and co-edited the video.

Athena's pussy

 D50D8B7Ea98B11E18Cf91231380Fd29B 7 My old pal John Curley is on tour with his reunited band The Afghan Whigs and he snapped this beautiful photo at Ναός της Αθηνάς Νίκης (Temple of Athena Nike) on the Acropolis of Athens. The building in the background is the Erechtheion. A few days prior in Holland, John tweeted that his photography style can be described as "suspicious,'" at least according to Amsterdam police.

Jim Henson's "Time Piece" (1965)

Above is an excerpt from Jim Henson's 1965 experimental short Time Piece, nominated for an Academy Award. It was unique because, for one thing, it doesn't feature any puppetry! The surreal film stars Henson and includes cameos from Henson Associates employees like Frank Oz (Yoda, etc!), Jerry Suhl, Don Sahlin, and Diana Birkenfield. More info at the Muppet Wiki. Watch the whole thing at MySpace here. (Thanks, Sarah Ruxin!)

WWII fighter found in Sahara desert

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An oil-exploration team in Egypt stumbled upon a crashed World War II fighter plane that's apparently been sitting in the Sahara desert for 70 years. Apparently, the Royal Air Force P-40 Kittyhawk is in fantastic condition. Relatively speaking, of course. From National Geographic:

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At the suspected time of the crash, Flight Sergeant Copping, the P40's likely pilot, was on a repair run to an RAF desert base—the plane's landing gear had become stuck in the down position. He was probably forced down by an empty fuel tank, the RAF Museum's (Ian) Thirsk said.

Copping was never heard from again. "The pilot obviously got disorientated and lost his bearings," Thirsk said.

"World War II "Time Capsule" Fighter Found in Sahara"

Anthony Burgess on the message of A Clockwork Orange

The current volume of The New Yorker is the "Science Fiction issue." In it, a previously unpublished 1973 essay by Anthony Burgess about his novel, A Clockwork Orange.
NewImageIn “The Clockwork Condition” (p. 69), an essay written in 1973 but never published, Anthony Burgess reflects on the “true meaning” of his most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange. In addition to commenting on the inspiration for the work, and its main character, Alex, Burgess offers an argument about the nature of good and evil and the necessity of free will, as seen through the prisms of Nazi Germany and the Resistance, Catholicism and Calvinism. “We probably have no duty to like Beethoven or hate Coca-Cola, but it is at least conceivable that we have a duty to distrust the state,” Burgess writes. Conformity is natural, and perhaps preferable for many people, he explains, but “when patterns of conformity are imposed by the state, then one has a right to be frightened.” Ultimately, he writes of A Clockwork Orange, “what I was trying to say was that it is better to be bad of one’s own free will than to be good through scientific brainwashing.”
The Clockwork Condition

Sex Pistols reissue "God Save The Queen"

The Sex Pistols have reissued "God Save The Queen" on a limited-edition 7" picture disc to celebrate the song's 35th anniversary. From the official Sex Pistols site:

 Images Gstqpicdisc 20 Originally released on May 27th 1977, during the Queen's Silver Jubilee, 'God Save The Queen' made its mark in history. The BBC amongst others refused to play it and although it technically out-sold the Number 1 record of the week (The First Cut is the Deepest by Rod Stewart) 'GSTQ' peaked at Number 2 in the singles charts. The powers-that-be refused to acknowledge it but the Sex Pistols were Number 1.

On the Jubilee holiday itself, June 7th 1977, the Sex Pistols arranged their own Jubilee tribute with a boat trip along the River Thames in full view of the Houses of Parliament. After playing a handful of songs Police boarded the boat and arrested several people; including the band's then manager Malcolm McLaren.

"God Save The Queen picture disc 7""

"Sex Pistols' John Lydon: 'I'd like to have a cake fight with the Queen'" (NME)

Man skydives 2,400 feet without deploying parachute and lands safely

Last week, Gary Connery, wearing a wingsuit, jumped from a helicopter at an altitude of 2,400 feet and landed safely. "Stuntman Takes a Superhero Plunge" (New York Times)

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, Rap Music Reaches Outside of New York

Read the rest of the Hip Hop Family Tree comics!

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LEGO Minifig ping pong and 1980s French cold wave

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BIPP: French Synth-Wave 1979/85 compiles cold wave and Casio-dominated robot music that emerged from the unholy matrimony of post-punk and the nascent electro-pop scene of Europe. Above, Act's "Ping Pong" as soundtrack for a video created by Smugg Knife.

"BIPPP: French Synth Wave 1979-85" (Amazon)

Smugg Knife Productions

The nature films of Louie Schwartzberg


[Video Link] When I was at TED earlier this year, I happened to sit down next to film maker Louie Schwartzberg. He makes gorgeous nature films. I recently watched the videos on his YouTube channel. They are all stunning.
This video was shown at the TED conference in 2011, with scenes from "Wings of Life," a film about the threat to essential pollinators that produce over a third of the food we eat. The seductive love dance between flowers and pollinators sustains the fabric of life and is the mystical keystone event where the animal and plant worlds intersect that make the world go round.

Firemaking, roadkill-cooking, primitivism: photos from a "rewilding" camp

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The Firefly Gathering is one of several "rewinding" or "primitivism" camps for learning self-sufficiency and wilderness skills and crafts like fire-making, mushroom hunting, canning, diaper-free parenting, trapping, and cooking wild game (and, er, road kill). Turnstyle's Mike Belleme brought his camera to camp. (Warning, some of the photos of animal "processing" may be upsetting to some.) From Turnstyle:

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Tanning a hide and making buckskin shorts is hard work, and making fire by rubbing sticks together is frustrating and tedious, but participants say the result is a profound sense of understanding the materials that you work with. Firefly co-founder Natalie Bogwalker explained, “Firefly is here to stave off the amnesia of modern technocratic culture…When normal people come here they are really inspired and feel that things are possible…"

To some who attend the Firefly gathering, the primitive skills that they learn simply serve as a novelty or a fun way to spend a weekend. To others, the skills that are taught and shared at the gathering are a part of daily life and survival. If the predictions of many of the primitivists at Firefly are accurate, the imminent collapse of civilization will soon make these skills a matter of life or death for us all. If there is one theme that seems to permeate all aspects of the gathering it is connectedness. “It’s all about rooting ourselves deep into the earth and into our connections with each other,” said Bogwalker. She continued, “…when we look all around us and people aren’t interacting with each other, they’re like, looking at their iPads…they’re all like robots, half human half machine… it’s really creepy to me.”

"Rewilding: Primitivists Take it Back to Basics"

Safecracking


Ken Doyle, a professional safecracker who's been practicing his trade since 1978, explains the ins and outs of safecracking to McSweeney's Suzanne Yeagley:

Q: How often do people get locked in vaults?

A: More often than you’d think and bank PR departments would like.

...

Q: Do you ever look inside?

A: I NEVER look. It’s none of my business. Involving yourself in people’s private affairs can lead to being subpoenaed in a lawsuit or criminal trial. Besides, I’d prefer not knowing about a client’s drug stash, personal porn, or belly button lint collection.

When I’m done I gather my tools and walk to the truck to write my invoice. Sometimes I’m out of the room before they open it. I don’t want to be nearby if there is a booby trap.

Q: Why would there be a booby trap?

A: The safe owner intentionally uses trip mechanisms, explosives or tear gas devices to “deter” unauthorized entry into his safe. It’s pretty stupid because I have yet to see any signs warning a would-be culprit about the danger.

Over the years I’ve found several tear gas devices in safes and vaults I’ve opened. These devices were marketed with names like “BEAVER” and “BADGER.” There are safecrackers that collect them.

Interviews With People Who Have Interesting or Unusual Jobs (via Schneier)

(Image: It Is Not Often That I Find A Sealed Safe On The Footpath, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from infomatique's photostream)

Pianists in Paris (video)

[Video Link] The newest video from Joe Sabia's CDZA project.

OpenROV, the $750 submarine

In the New York Times today, Brian Lam (formerly of Gizmodo, now the creator of Scuttlefish and Wirecutter) writes about OpenROV, a low-cost submarine designed to be an affordable tool for "curious students and amateurs, as well as provide a highly valuable shallow water tool for explorers and scientists."

This month, NASA engineer Eric Stackpole hiked to a spot in Trinity County, east of California’s rough Bigfoot country. Nestled at the base of a hill of loose rock, peppered by red and purple wildflowers, is Hall City Cave. For part of the winter the cave is infested with large spiders, but is mostly flooded year-round. Locals whisper the cave’s deep pools hold a cache of stolen gold, but Mr. Stackpole isn’t here to look for treasure.

He had, under his arm, what might appear to be a clunky toy blue submarine about the size of a lunchbox. The machine is the latest prototype of the OpenROV–an open-source, remotely operated vehicle that could map the cave in 3D using software from Autodesk and collect water in places too tight for a diver to go. It could change the future of ocean exploration. For now, it is exploring caves because it can only go down 100 meters. But it holds promise because it is cheap, links to a laptop, and is available to a large number of researchers for experimentation. Indeed, the OpenROV team hopes to start taking orders for OpenROV kits on the crowd sourced project site, Kickstarter. Going for $750, the kits include laser cut plastic parts and all the electronics necessary to build an OpenROV. (Users will have to bring their own laptops to view the onboard video feed and control the machine. They’ll also have to supply their own C-cell batteries which power the sub.) The subs are expected to be available by the end of summer.

Read the full story here, and check out the awesome video Brian shot, here.

Great moments in pedantry: Poisonous vs. Venomous

The key difference, writes blogger Jason Bittel, is in the biting. Venomous animals internally create a toxin and then inject it into prey or foes. Poisonous animals usually secrete their toxins on the outside.

So here's a rule of thumb: If you are dying because an animal has bitten you, chances are, it was a venomous animal. If you're dying because you touched an animal or (foolishly) put it in your mouth, that's poisonous.

And then, of course, there's the slow loris:

Because the loris manufactures toxin from specialized glands on its elbows, then transfers that liquid to small, curved teeth for injection, the loris is venomous. Alternately, mother lorises cover their offspring’s fur in the same potion, rendering them poisonous.

Read more about various poisonous and venomous animals at Jason Bittel's blog, Bittel Me This.

Image: Natural History Museum - London, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nickstone333's photostream

How to: Experience Manhattanhenge

Step 1, naturally, is to be in Manhattan.

I'm in New York City today and Scientific American contributing editor Steven Ashley was kind enough to reminded me that my visit is coinciding with Manhattanhenge—a twice-a-year event when the sun lines up with Manhattan's street grid. This year, there will be a Manhattanhenge on May 29/30 and another on July 11/12.

You'll note that Manhattanhenge does not actually occur on the same day as the solstice—when the Sun is at the highest point in the sky and the length of the day begins to get either longer (winter solstice) or shorter (summer solstice). That's because Manhattan's grid is rotated 30 degrees east off of true north, writes Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Hayden Planetarium website. That's enough to make Manhattanhenge less astronomically accurate than Stonehenge. But it's still awfully nifty and is supposed to look really, really cool.

Tonight's event should start around 8:17 pm (Eastern time, of course). Here's Neil deGrasse Tyson's advice on getting a good view:

For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas.

Note that any city crossed by a rectangular grid can identify days where the setting Sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities around the world shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose. Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as Manhattan has across the Hudson River to New Jersey. And tall buildings that line the streets create a vertical channel to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity.

Read the rest at the Hayden Planetarium website

Check out some reader-submitted photos of Manhattanhenge that Xeni posted last year.

Image: Manhattanhenge 2011 | The Commuter, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 59949757@N06's photostream

Contrafactual comics: Jay-Z meets Batman, Jack Kirby meets My Little Pony


Chris Sims, Laura Hudson and Colleen Coover have executed as series of "Great Comics That Never Happened" for Comics Alliance, and they're fabulous. Exhibits A and B: Great Comics that Never Happened: Batman and Jay-Z Solve 99 Problems! (Chris Sims), and Great Comics That Never Happened #21: Jack Kirby's 'My Little Pony' (also Chris Sims) (Hudson has a good line on Christmas-themed work).

Great Comics That Never Happened (via IO9)

Modkit: a simple graphical programming system for Arduinos and other microcontrollers

Alexandra sez, "I'm writing to tell you about Modkit, a new interface for microcontrollers like Arduino. Modkit uses a graphical programming language based on the kids' programming language, Scratch. To write an Arduino program, you simply snap little blocks of code together. Basically, I think Modkit will make microcontrollers accessible to a much wider audience (younger, less tech-savvy, etc.). Modkit also has a lot of other cool features, like automatic hardware detection, both an in-browser and desktop version, and lots of supported hardware. They're running a Kickstarter campaign right now, so I thought I would pass along their website!"

(Thanks, Alexandra!)