A dozen corpses of murder victims have turned up over the last year in desolate and decaying parts of Detroit -- vacant lots, abandoned homes, overgrown parks… From the AP:
"You can shoot a person, dump a body and it may just go unsolved" because of the time it may take for the corpse to be found, officer John Garner said…
When he joined the department 13 years ago, Garner patrolled a 3.6-square-mile area in the tough 3rd Precinct, bumping into another officer every 20 minutes. Now he covers 22 square miles and crosses paths with other officers "maybe once every two hours."
"If we know this, the criminals know this," Garner said.
Sparse patrols and slow response times make it less likely that someone will be seen dumping a body.
"Years back, people would go to rural areas" to dump bodies, said Daniel Kennedy, a Michigan-based forensic criminologist. "Now we have rural areas in urban areas."
"Vacant Detroit becomes dumping ground for the dead
" Read the rest
This is an 1840 butcher shop model. Note the exquisite detail down to the sawdust and blood on the floor. Such items weren't uncommon and were sold as promotional displays for shops or, yes, as child playlets. From Collectors Weekly:
As doll houses—which also started out as toys for adults—were being manufactured for children around the late 19th century, so were small-scale places of commerce, such as the butcher’s. These toy shops allowed kids to mimic adults and learn about money and food, just as supermarket playlets do today. The toy animal flesh, Wood says, wouldn’t have been shocking, because this is how meat was presented and bought and, with limited methods of refrigeration, children would have been used to seeing preserved cuts of meat hanging up.
What we do know is that Victorians documented their entire world in miniature. According to (Robert Culff, author of The World of Toys), elaborate and accurate little replicas were modeled for every store in town: the draper, the greengrocer, the fishmonger, the baker, the milliner’s full of bonnets and hat boxes, and the sweet shop featuring “uncertainly balanced scales, jars of hundreds-and-thousands [a.k.a. sprinkles] and cachou lozenges in little tins smelling of ghostly roses and violets.”
"Baby’s First Butcher Shop, Circa 1900" Read the rest
Great news for fans of VH1's brand of pop culture snark: weekly recap show Best Week Ever
is coming back to the cable network this January, reviving the dreams of aspiring talking heads across the nation! Along with it comes another new nostalgia-based series, Miss You Much
, hosted by Catherine Reitman (Breakin' It Down
), who will conduct interviews with celebrities we liked 20 years ago. I'm hoping this means there will be less room for the Bret Michaels dating shows and all of their spinoffs. Unless, of course, they are ready to be mocked mercilessly by Christian Finnegan & Co. (via The Hollywood Reporter
) Read the rest
, an article about series of lawsuits against Chick-Fil-A by former employees
who claim managers "have wielded their authority over workers in ways that break the law: firing a Muslim for refusing to pray to Jesus; firing a manager so that she’d become a stay at home mom; and punishing workers for objecting to sexual harassment." In one incident, a supervisor is alleged to have phoned immigration authorities to have immigrant workers deported as punishment for complaining about sexual harassment. Kiss 'em goodbye today
. Read the rest
"Current and former high-level government officials from multiple agencies" have been interviewed privately by FBI agents in recent weeks, reports the NYT, "casting a distinct chill over press coverage
of national security issues." Agencies are turning down routine interview requests, and halting background briefings. The leak hunt is said to be the "most sweeping inquiry into intelligence disclosures in years." Read the rest
[Video Link]. Wieden+Kennedy's new ad for Nike is provocative stuff. Nike isn't sponsoring the Olympics this year, but the ad is timed accordingly. The star of this spot, Nathan, is 12 years old and lives in London, Ohio. He tells Business Insider he puked in a ditch while filming takes. I like this kid.
Read the rest
Cody Brocious -- a Mozilla dev and security researcher -- presented a paper on a vulnerability in hotel-door locks last month at Black Hat. Many electronic hotel door-locks made by Onity have a small DC power-port that also supplies data beneath them. Brocious showed that if he plugs an Arduino into these locks, reads out the 24-bit number sitting there, and re-transmits it to them, some appreciable fraction of them (but not all of them) spring open.
Read the rest
Testing a standard Onity lock he ordered online, he’s able to easily bypass the card reader and trigger the opening mechanism every time. But on three Onity locks installed on real hotel doors he and I tested at well-known independent and franchise hotels in New York, results were much more mixed: Only one of the three opened, and even that one only worked on the second try, with Brocious taking a break to tweak his software between tests.
Even with an unreliable method, however, Brocious’s work–and his ability to open one out of the three doors we tested without a key–suggests real flaws in Onity’s security architecture. And Brocious says he plans to release all his research in a paper as well as source code through his website following his talk, potentially enabling others to perfect his methods.
Brocious’s exploit works by spoofing a portable programming device that hotel staff use to control a facility’s locks and set which master keys open which doors. The portable programmer, which plugs into the DC port under the locks, can also open any door, even providing power through that port to trigger the mechanism of a door lock in which the battery has run out.
In April, 2011, Boing Boing (well, our photographer pal Joseph Linaschke) visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a peek inside the clean room where the Mars rover, Curiosity, and other components of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft (MSL) were in the process of being built for launch in late 2011 from Florida. Our big photo gallery with gorgeous images shot by Joseph is here.
Around that same time, I spoke with Ashwin Vasavada, Deputy Project Scientist at JPL for the MSL mission, to understand more about how MSL works and what its creators hope to accomplish, how one scores a job designing interplanetary explorer robots, and how this updated Mars rover is (or is not) like an iPad.
• Read Boing Boing's conversation with Vasavada here.
Read the rest
Illustration: Jonathan Castro, for The Heretic
A wonderful long-read at The Morning News by Tim Doody, on 1966 LSD studies that took place as the US government's position on acid research shifted from "sure, go ahead, scientists" to "nope, this is now banned." The series of tests described in the article took place at the International Foundation for Advanced Study (IFAS) in Menlo Park, CA. Scientists from Stanford, Hewlett-Packard, and elsewhere participated. The volunteers each brought "three highly technical problems from their respective fields that they’d been unable to solve for at least several months." They took "a relatively low dose of acid," 100 micrograms, to enhance their creativity.
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NASA has awarded Boeing (not to be confused with "Boing Boing," you guys), SpaceX, and a Colorado-based systems integration firm more than a billion in contracts to develop spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts. The Chicago-based aerospace giant Boeing gets $460 million. Elon Musk's space transportation startup SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, CA, gets $440 million. And Sierra Nevada Corp. in Colorado gets $212.5 milion. NASA's press release is here.
Above: NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim stands inside the Dragon Crew Engineering Model at SpaceX headquarters, during a day-long review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout. (Photo: SpaceX) Read the rest
I know nothing about the quality of the products on offer at Little Baby's Ice Cream in Philadelphia. But their excellent nightmare-fuel advertisements will haunt me in a good way forever. The one above, featuring a person covered in (made of?) ice-cream eating her or his own head while narrator Matthias Bossi reads copy that sounds like the captions on the photos printed on the sleeve inside the original Stop Making Sense album, is awesome enough.
But after the jump, there is an ad that features an endless fractal zoom-out on people made of ice-cream, whose heads have been partially ablated, sitting in ice-cream cones and contemplating eating smaller versions of themselves, forever.
Read the rest
The Library of Congress has an official standard
for abbreviations of different languages. It's a long list, because, well, there are lots and lots of languages that might be mentioned in the Library of Congress. In fact, the standard is so thorough that it includes Klingon
. (Via Hilary Mason) Read the rest
Phil Torrone sez, "Learn to make a speaking, card-reading toy! The Babel Fish helps you learn to say words and phrases on RFID flash cards by reading the card and playing an associated sound file loaded on an SD card inside. This project is very straightforward and could make a great jumping-off point for your own awesome RFID and Wave Shield project!"
Overview | Babel Fish | Adafruit Learning System
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When you pull out a laser pointer and get your cat to chase the dot of light around your house*, you are using a patented method of cat exercise. The rights are owned by Kevin Amiss and Martin Abbott (both of Virginia), who patented it in the early 1990s. In the abstract, they describe this method of cat exercise as:
A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.
In other words, they own the rights on doing this with ferrets, as well.
This might also be a good time to note an NPR story from this week, which documents IBM and Halliburton attempting to patent the process of patent trolling.
Method of exercising a cat: United States Patent 5443036
*Fact: This game becomes more fun if you have a rug. Just run the light up to the edge of the rug and then turn it off. The cat will become convinced that the little red light has gone under said rug and you will get to amuse yourself watching your cat try to lift the corner of something heavy without the use of opposable thumbs.
Thanks, Sam Ley!
Image: Gotcha!, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from drregor's photostream Read the rest
On the plus side, that means it makes a great comic photo prop. Here, blogger Angelo O'Connor Villagomez plays Edward Crabhands.
Native to a wide range of Pacific islands, the crabs used to be plentiful. Sadly, they're one of those creatures that humans have eaten into being an endangered species. These crabs can live for up to 60 years and (get this) they're not even the largest species of crab in the world. That would be the Japanese spider crab.
See a slideshow of coconut crab photos at Environmental Graffiti
Via Craig McClain Read the rest
It began with a few small mistakes.
Around 12:15, on the afternoon of August 14, 2003, a software program that helps monitor how well the electric grid is working in the American Midwest shut itself down after after it started getting incorrect input data. The problem was quickly fixed. But nobody turned the program back on again.
A little over an hour later, one of the six coal-fired generators at the Eastlake Power Plant in Ohio shut down. An hour after that, the alarm and monitoring system in the control room of one of the nation’s largest electric conglomerates failed. It, too, was left turned off.
Those three unrelated things—two faulty monitoring programs and one generator outage—weren’t catastrophic, in and of themselves. But they would eventually help create one of the most widespread blackouts in history. By 4:15 pm, 256 power plants were offline and 55 million people in eight states and Canada were in the dark. The Northeast Blackout of 2003 ended up costing us between $4 billion and $10 billion. That’s “billion”, with a “B”.
But this is about more than mere bad luck. The real causes of the 2003 blackout were fixable problems, and the good news is that, since then, we’ve made great strides in fixing them. The bad news, say some grid experts, is that we’re still not doing a great job of preparing our electric infrastructure for the future. Read the rest