Boing Boing 

SimCity Social is horrible

Kyle Orland on a game that looks like Sim City but is in fact a mindless, pointless treadmill: "judged by the relatively low standards of CityVille clones, SimCity Social actually isn't a half-bad example". [Ars]

Arsonist burns out

An Arizona man collapsed and died in court Thursday immediately after his conviction for arson. [AP]

Cable hacker jailed

A good old fashioned hardware hacker is off to jail for 3 years for selling rooted modems. The boxes gave cable users actual unlimited internet. P.S. His book, Hacking the Cable Modem: What Cable Companies Don't Want You to Know, is available at Amazon.

National Review: supreme court "pretended" mandate was constitutional

As a Brit in the US, I landed on a left-leaning limb of the tree. This is not unusual—our conservatives are often more liberal than your liberals, after all. That said, I often found myself enjoying conservative writing on this side of the pond. Especially The National Review.

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Derelict farmhouse turned into massive doll's house

A Canadian artist called Heather Benning converted a derelict farmhouse into a giant doll's house, open on one side. Her photo gallery includes several making-of images that are quite marvellous. She created it while serving as artist-in-residence for the town of Redvers, Sask, and notes that she found the house in 2005. | Dollhouse (via Geekologie)

$4.5M in 72h

Louis CK's experiment in direct retailing the tickets for his upcoming comedy tour is a huge success: $4.5M in business in three days!

Birds with human arms

The Birds With Arms Tumblr has a simple command for the net: "Photoshop arms on to birds. Send them to us." This turns out to be remarkably effective.

Birds With Arms (via Kottke)

Art show with Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Dominique Sapel

NewImage The Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art (MoCCA) announced “Miami Makeover: Almost Anything for Beauty”, an exhibit featuring the work of Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Dominique Sapel. They "set out to entirely re-imagine their body image. Donning new outfits, wigs, jewelry, nails, makeup and padding in just the right places, the two artists remade themselves in the image of a modern Miami woman."

NewImageAline: "My parents moved there twenty years ago and some of my best memories are of the many hours I spent with my mother visiting the beauty parlor, Hair Magic, and the beautician, Cookie, who performs miniature miracles there on a daily basis. The 'look' there is big blond hair, big lips, and big tits, and you can always count on there being some personal philosophy and practical tips thrown in.

"Being a cartoonist, I wanted to find a way to capture this atmosphere and these fabulous women -- the creators and their creations! I am fascinated by their idea of beauty and by what women are willing to do to achieve it. As a 63-year-old woman raised in the Five Towns of Nassau County on Long Island, logically I should be 'one of them,' but I was touched at age 8 by some divine intervention and was propelled in a very different direction- I became an artist/observer. Still, there’s a part of me that is curious and can identify with this 'other type' of female."

(Photo of Aline Crumb by Seth Kushner)

MIAMI MAKEOVER: Almost Anything for Beauty

Notes from the bankruptcy of Stockton, CA

The LA Times's Diana Marcum tells the story of the bankruptcy of Stockton, California, a city of about 300,000 people, which has just filed for bankruptcy. The city -- and its developers -- borrowed heavily in the past decade to build a series of follies: a luxury hotel, a marina, a promenade, in a bid to lure people down from the Bay Area. Stockton is a boom-and-bust poster-child, and has just gone through the new AB 506 arbitration procedures set out for municipal defaults in California law, a drawn-out "death of a thousand meetings," and is still headed into bankruptcy.

Although a city of almost 300,000, Stockton is a place where many families have known one another for generations. The most impassioned speakers argued on behalf of others, with the main rallying cry a plea to keep health insurance for retirees with illnesses. A high school student spoke of his aunt, a retired city worker with cancer, and a retired fire chief spoke of his former secretary who cares for her ill husband.

"People look at me and say, 'Well he can afford his own insurance,' and I can," said Gary Gillis, the retired chief. "But how about the ones who mowed the lawns, went in the sewers, typed my letters? We have to protect the most vulnerable among us."

Experts say there are no clear answers to what comes next for Stockton or how its fall will affect the rest of the state. Other cities hit hard by the housing bust and state budget crisis are negotiating with employee unions for concessions and are watching to see if municipal bankruptcy proves medicine or poison.

Stockton bankruptcy will make history; residents reeling (via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Stockton, California, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from inman_news's photostream)

Assange to UK cops: No, I will not come out of my Ecuadorean embassy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in no hurry to depart his refuge inside the embassy of Ecuador, in London, where he has been holed up for about a week. British authorities are demanding that he do so, and head straight to a police station as part of his extradition process to be questioned in Sweden about sex crime allegations. But if he complies, police may arrest him immediately, because he has breached the terms of his bail.

Reuters reports:

On Thursday, British police summoned Assange to a London police station, demanding he leave the embassy. But Assange later told BBC television in a telephone interview: "Our advice is that asylum law both internationally and domestically in the UK takes precedence to extradition law, so the answer is almost certainly not."

Harvey Pekar's Cleveland


ClevelandJeff Newelt snapped this photo of Robert Crumb reading a copy of the recently-published book, Cleveland, one of the late Harvey Pekar's final contributions to comics. It has beautiful art by Joseph Remnant and an introduction by Alan Moore.

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is sadly one of his last, but happily one of his most definitive graphic novels. It presents key moments and characters from the city's history, intertwined with Harvey's own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it's a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

Harvey Pekar's Cleveland

Western US wildfires, as seen from space

NASA/NOAA GOES Project. Caption: NASA Goddard, Rob Gutro

The NASA GOES-15 satellite captured this image of the western United States which shows smoke from fires in many states creating a brownish-colored blanket over the region.

The dawn's early light revealed smoke and haze throughout the Midwest, arising from forest fires throughout the Rockies. While the most publicized fires occur along the populous eastern range in Colorado, the great smoke plumes in this image came from Wyoming. NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-15, captured this visible image on June 28 at 1245 UTC (8:45 a.m. EDT). This image was created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


More images at the NASA fire coverage site.

Bookcase that cunningly stores a table and chairs

Orla Reynolds's "As If From Nowhere" is a bookcase with four removable chairs and a dining table cunningly worked into its frame. It's basically a storage unit for an extra table.

As if from nowhere (via Bookshelf)

Kim Dotcom raid was illegal, New Zealand judge rules

New Zealand's high court today ruled that a raid on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's Auckland mansion was illegal. From the Guardian:

Justice Helen Winkelmann said the warrants used when more than 90 New Zealand officers stormed the Megaupload founder's home and other properties in January were too broadly cast, "lacking adequate specificity as to the offence". "The search and seizure was therefore illegal," she ruled, adding that it was "clear that the police, in executing the warrants, have exceeded what they could lawfully be authorised to do".

The 56-page judgment is here (PDF), and may complicate future hearings on extradition to the US. The case has been described by some observers as a Homeland Security case, initiated under pressure from the MPAA.

Winkelmann said police had acted unlawfully by refusing to release material that was not relevant to the charges, and that their provision to the FBI of cloned hard drives seized in the raid was in breach of extradition legislation. Among the seized items that police have refused to release is video footage captured by Dotcom's surveillance cameras of the raid on the mansion.

IMAGE: By Aurich Lawson, for Sean Gallagher's January article at Ars Technica about Kim Dotcom. Worth re-reading today. (via).

More: Sydney Morning Herald, New Zealand Herald.

More good news: Dotcom has a new pal! Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. In an interview with the Associated Press, Woz said, "It's just kind of ridiculous what they did to his life. An awful lot of Kiwis support him. The U.S. government is on thin ground."

Stupid EU video PSA shows how *not* to promote science to young women

[Video Link] The title tells you there's gonna be trouble even before you hit play. "Science: It's a Girl Thing!" is part of a European Commission campaign to promote science careers to young women, who remain greatly outnumbered in the field and face gender discrimination in academic and professional environments (yes, guys, even today). More in the LA Times, Inquisitr, Advertising Miami, Physics Central, New Statesman. Below, Astronomer Dr. Meghan Gray responds.

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Here lie the bones of the Boings

Gareth Branwyn sent this to me, via Candi Strecker.

"Obama" joins the NERF militia

Obammma I went to the NERF site to look for a basketball set for my first grader. Not only is the NERF brand now mostly about pretending you are in an elite special forces unit (protecting NERF Nation, no less), they have drafted President Obama into their non-expanding recreational foam militia. (Yes, I know it's not really him. But the resemblance is striking!)

Darling Pet Munkee's monster songs

I'm a big fan of the garage punk band, Darling Pet Munkee (Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling's Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola and Cathy Capozzi of Axemunkee). They write songs based on old comic book ads: X-Ray Specs, Sea Monkeys, Monster S-I-Z-E Monsters, Darling Pet Monkey, and more.

Michael just sent me a link to the band's new "creature double feature." He says:

We decided to pair up our Frankenstein and Dracula songs to create two music videos as a "creature double feature!" To tie it all together, we got a friend to give her best Elvira impression to host as Dalya, Mistress of the Munkee.

In Monster S-I-Z-E Monsters, we send poor Frankenstein's monster on a series of questionable Internet dates, which, as you might expect for a monster looking for love, don't go so well.

For Genuine Soil From Dracula's Castle, we used the actual item that the song is about to craft a Hammer-Horror-style tale of a fool stealing soil from Dracula's castle and paying the price.

Darling Pet Monkee EP: Glows in the Dark!

Republican conventions better for strip bars than Democratic ones

As the Democratic National Convention prepares to descend upon Charlotte, the Charlotte NPR affiliate perform the regular ritual of sending their reporter to talk to strip bar owners about how Republicans are much better for strippers and their employers than Democrats:

“Hands down, the Republicans have always been our best customers,” says Angelina Spencer, the Executive Director of the Association of Club Executives. It is the national trade organization for adult nightclubs.

“And they tend to be business-focused,” she says. “That’s really all I can say. We get clients from all walks of life, but for whatever reason… I have heard club owners say, ‘Boy, those Republicans really are great customers.’”

Strip Clubs Pony Up For The DNC (via Naked Capitalism)

The hilarity of CNN + Fox's bungled Health Care Act reporting, in a single 'shoop

Gary He of Inside Images today tweeted his photoshopped interpretation of an epic CNN gaffe. His 'shoop visually references the historic 1948 photo of just-elected President Harry Truman displaying before a crowd a newspaper that incorrectly reported his defeat.

The image went viral after inclusion in this New York Daily News article on how CNN and Fox totally blew it, by incorrectly reporting that the health care mandate championed by Obama was voted unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, when the opposite was in fact the case. More on Poynter. (thanks, Miles O'Brien!)

Artist Mitch O'Connell's funny Hanna Barbera commissions

Mitch O'Connell says:

Back in 2003 I was asked by Warner Bros (who owns Hanna Barbera) to come up with my take on those great characters. I could choose from Atom Ant, Dastardly and Muttley, The Flintstones, The Herculoids, Hong Kong Phooey, Huckleberry Hound, Jabberjaw, The Jetsons, Josie and the Pussycats, Magilla Gorilla, Penelope Pitstop, Peter Potamus, Scooby-Doo, Secret Squirrel, Top Cat, Wacky Racers, Yogi Bear and a million more for my sketches. Out of all of those, they would pick the ones to turn into full color paintings. The plan was to use the images for merchandising, but sadly (for me at least) nothing ever came of it. I wish it had caught on, 'cause I could've keep drawing these guys all day long (and the paychecks weren't bad either)!
Gallery: The Greatest Hanna Barbera Art You NEVER Saw!

Cool musicians drawn as South Park characters

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The Noise Park Tumblr features dozens of avant-garde, indie, and outré music artists reimagined as South Park characters. Above, Throbbing Gristle, Sun Ra, and Peaking Lights, whose absolutely fantastic new album Lucifer I just bought at Aquarius Records, where you can also hear some bits!

Nixie tube chess-set kits

Tony from LaserMad is poised to offer kits to build your own magnificent Nixie-tube chess-sets:

This is not a project for beginners – it makes extensive use of surface mount components. The circuits are not complicated and are laid out with plenty of space between parts where possible but you will still need to be confident soldering small parts. The main PCB is almost 15×15″ and as only 10-20 will probably ever be made I’ll be machining them myself. They won’t have any solder resist or component legend though the assembled square should be easy to copy and photographic instructions will be supplied for all stages of construction. Expect to spend up to a week of your spare time on it depending on experience and patience.

Postage will be charged at cost – for international orders it won’t be cheap but if you know of a cheaper service or can arrange collection by your own courier I’ll be happy to help arrange it. The total weight including packing materials will be about 4kg (9 pounds).

Nixie chessboard Kit (via DVice)

Data after a death?

Open question: when a friend dies, what should her loved ones do with the data on her hard-drives? Assume that she has been using the Internet for more than a decade and has archived email, personal files, etc, on her machine(s), and has not expressed any particular wishes about this data. Assume also that the drives themselves are unencrypted.

Narco Polo: Legal drug linked to more cannibalism than bath salts

Bath salts
Visit Rob Arthur's blog for the complete cartoon and his additional comments. (Not for weak stomachs.)

Chinese corruption and looting on a vast scale: industry, government, and military

Here's a well-cited and pretty scary article describing the vast scale of corruption at the highest levels in China, and the extent to which "the success of 300m Chinese who live in western level prosperity depends on the continued exploitation and good nature of one billion people who live on an average of $5000 per annum." The author, Steve Keen (Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney) ranges widely over Chinese industry, government, and the military.

Zoomlion has an interesting business model, it is similar in many of ways to Caterpillar, except whereas Caterpillar report falling sales, Zoomlion reports astounding sales growth with a fivefold increase in revenue since 2007. Zoomlion customers sometimes buy ten concrete mixers when they planned to initially by one or two. They have a perverse incentive to buy more than they need because these concrete trucks are purchased via finance packages supplied by Zoomlion.

Then the machines can be garaged and used as collateral to borrow further funds from other lenders. Zoomlion continues to grow while cement sales have plunged. In May, cement output increased 4.3 per cent YoY, down from 19.2 per cent recorded last year. Zoomlion’s new debt of $22.5B buys roughly 900,000 trucks which could produce enough concrete (at six loads a day) to build over thirty Great Pyramids of Giza a day .

Every sector is infected with these kinds of perverse business practices, steel traders used loans meant for steel projects to speculate in property and stocks , it has been common (apparently) for steel traders to secure loans to buy steel then use this same steel as collateral to borrow funds to invest in property development and the stock market. In many ways this is the steel version of the Zoomlion model. A fundamental foundation of any lending market is the ability of the lender to ensure title and guarantee ownership of collateral...

...The current political leadership of China represents the greatest looting of a country by the political class ever seen in history. In the Hurun Report released in March 2012—the richest 70 members of the government have a net worth of $89.8 billion, an average of over $1B each. This compares to $7.5 billion for the 660 for the US government, an average of $11M each. China’s Billionaire People’s Congress Makes Capitol Hill Look Like Paupers. In a country so indoctrinated in the works of Marx, it seems only a matter of time before the current Chinese proletariat, suffering under extreme wealth distribution, will rise up. One only has to look at the geographic distribution of wealth to see where the problems might begin.

Furthermore, this does not take into account the wealth held by the families of these politicians. Nor is this corruption limited to politicians. The military, according to John Garnaut’s report, has become one of the most corrupt state enterprises of all. China’s wealth distribution is becoming completely one sided The success of 300m Chinese who live in western level prosperity depends on the continued exploitation and good nature of one billion people who live on an average of $5000 per annum. This week Chinese military leaders have been ordered to report assets under the following CCP directive – The General Political Department, Discipline Inspection Commission: Leaders Must Report Income, Real Estate Holdings and Investments. This is likely to be met with extraordinary resistance. This could result in a standoff between the CCP and the PLA , where both bodies equally riddled with corruption struggle for the upper hand. The great

The Looting of China by the Kleptokapitalist Bourgeoisie Roaders (via Naked Capitalism)

Rare three-axle 1959 Lincoln

Phil Are Go has performed the vital service of close-cropping the finned beast from this 1959 Lincoln ad, for your clip-art pleasure, but not before adding a much-needed third axle. A vanilla two-axle model is also available.

1959 Lincoln - Fab one and a half.

When urban beekeeping gets too dense

Bees need a certain amount of nearby green space in order to find enough pollen to survive. Without that, bees can starve. They can also end up subsisting on a diet of syrup that's about as healthy for them as a diet of burgers and fries would be for you and I. London has had die-offs of bees in the past, when beekeeping got more popular than the city's limited green space could support. Some people are now worried that New York City could be headed toward that problem. (Via Hannah Nordhaus)

Release a deadly monster: a DRM-free ebook crowdfunding startup

Back in May, Cory posted about the then-brand-new website's campaign to unlock the classic scholarly book Oral Literature in Africa through crowdfunding. That campaign was successfully wrapped up last week, and soon anyone with an internet connection will be able to download a Creative-Commons licensed (CC-BY) version for free.

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