Boing Boing 

Four comics panels that never work


Here's Mark Waid's fitting tribute to Wally Wood's "Twenty-Two Panels That Always Work" -- four panels that don't. Also available as a handsome print, suitable for framing and display near to one's drafting table.

Mark Waid's Four Panels That Never Work (via Making Light)

Vintage train fan excited about rare vintage train is the new "Double Rainbow" (video)

[Video Link] Double rainbow, all the way. Oh my god. (via Newley Purnell)

Update: CNN's Jeanne Moos uncovered the even funnier story behind "Double Trainbow," here. And the original it lovingly parodies, by "foamer" and excitable railfan Mark McDonough, is below. His YouTube channel is a thing of beauty.

Read the rest

Back yard DIY PVC rollercoaster with a 12-foot drop (video)

[Video Link] About this video, which is a few months old but new to me, I can put it no more eloquently than Eric Meyerson of Youtube: "There's a fine line between 'world's best dad' and 'Darwin Awards.'"

Slick anti-corruption video takes on US copyright system

This anonymously funded movie satirizing the corruption of the copyright system in the USA has been viewed more than 10,000,000 times. The creators, who maintain the website political-prostitution.com, explain that "the U.S. Government is making a major push to enforce its laws abroad with complete disregard for sovereignty of other nations in order to extradite so-called 'criminals' to the US where they will be tried for their 'crimes' in American court."

Ars Technica's Timothy Lee spoke to some of the creators:

On Wednesday, Ars talked to an individual behind the video. He said he and a friend paid for the video out of their own pockets. They are hoping to "raise awareness" of what they view as America's repressive copyright policies.

The video has three scenes. In the first, the "American Motion Picture Association" announces it has hired "Senator Chris Rodd" (clearly references to the MPAA and its chairman, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)) to represent Hollywood. In the second scene, police carry out a military-style raid on a London home. The final scene takes place in an "undisclosed location." The kid arrested in London is now in chains, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a hood over his head. The young soldier guarding the prisoner asks an older American in a suit what the suspect did, and looks incredulous when he's told that he's been arrested for copyright infringement.

Obviously, the video is over-the-top. Nothing exactly like the incident depicted has happened in real life. The US government doesn't subject copyright defendants to the same harsh treatment as suspected terrorists. But after the commando-style raid on Kim Dotcom's mansion in January, it may be close enough to the truth to make effective propaganda.

As Lee points out, this movie is as slick as a Hollywood film itself.

Anonymous donors bring Hollywood production values to anti-MPAA video

At Gitmo, ‘Fresh Prince’ replaces Harry Potter as entertainment most requested by detainees

President Obama isn't closing Guantánamo any time soon, but prisoners will be well-taken-care-of in the entertainment department, according to this Miami Herald article: they have an endless supply of of Will Smith’s 1990s TV comedy, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, with which to while away the years. The sitcom has become a "popular way to pass time among the 168 captives now in their second decade of U.S. detention." Guards say it now eclipses the Harry Potter books as most-requested entertainment. (via @kgosztola)

Advertising supplement from 1880: sweet typography


Advertising supplements were a lot more fun to look at in 1880. Submitted as evidence: this issue of the Philadelphia Grocer.

If you have a thing for typography

What time is it right now on Mars? There's a NASA app for that.

And you can download it right here, for Mac, Windows, Linux, OS/2, and other open operating systems. About:

Mars24 is a Java application which displays a Mars sunclock, a graphical representation of the planet Mars showing its current sun- and nightsides, along with a numerical readout of the time in 24-hour format. Other displays include a plot showing the relative orbital positions of Mars and Earth and a diagram showing the solar angle and path for a given location on Mars.

Created at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

And for iOS, this looks promising. Haven't tried it, and it's not a NASA product, so YMMV.

Social engineer hacks Wal-Mart from Defcon

In a contest at the hacker conference Defcon, security specialist Shane MacDougall successfully penetrated Wal-Mart. "Social engineering is the biggest threat to the enterprise, without a doubt," MacDougall said after his call. "I see all these [chief security officers] that spend all this money on firewalls and stuff, and they spend zero dollars on awareness." (via @kevinmitnick)

Treadmill desk advice sought

After reading Neal Stephenson's essay on using a treadmill desk in Some Remarks, I've decided to try it for myself. But I don't want to ditch my beloved desk (a wooden kitchen table) -- instead, I was thinking I'd raise it on blocks to standing height, get a treadmill, and wedge the handlebars under the desk so that I could walk while using it. Does anyone have any recommendations for a treadmill model? It looks like it's really hard to use a manual treadmill without holding onto the handle-bars, so I'm guessing that means I'll need a motorized one. But motorized treadmills all seem to have their controls in the front, which I envision wedging under the desk, rendering them inaccessible. Have you tried this? Got any ideas? I think I probably want something like this, but available in the UK, and cheaper if possible.

Mexican-US illegal migration has been largely static since the 1950s


Princeton's alumni magazine has an excellent profile of Douglas Massey, Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs and director of Princeton’s Office of Population Research. Massey studies patterns of US migration, particularly illegal immigration from Mexico. His research is the only rigorous census of Mexican-American illegal immigration flows, and its conclusions are that the US perception of Mexican migration is completely backwards, and that the major immigration problems are the result of bad policy, not changes in volume:

The MMP’s reports are freely available to anyone through its website, http://mmp.opr.princeton.edu. But statistics can be sterile things. Get Massey going, and one gets an earful about the true state of affairs along the border. To wit:

* We are not being flooded with illegal Mexican migrants. The total number of migrants from Mexico has varied very little since the 1950s. The massive influx many have written about never happened.

* Net illegal migration has stopped almost ­completely.

* Illegal migration has not stopped because of stricter border enforcement, which Massey characterizes as a waste of money at best and counterproductive at worst.

* There are indeed more undocumented Mexicans living in the United States than there were 20 years ago, but that is because fewer migrants are returning home — not because more are sneaking into the country.

* And the reason that fewer Mexican citizens are returning home is because we have stepped up border enforcement so dramatically.

Mull over that last point for a minute. If Congress had done nothing to secure the border over the last two decades — if it had just left the border alone — there might be as many as 2 million fewer Mexicans living in the United States today, Massey believes.

Crisis Contrived (via Wil Wheaton)

(Image: Illegal Immigration, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from qwrrty's photostream)

Interview with a Mars rover driver: Scott Maxwell of JPL

Photo (NASA JPL): The first two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover, which are located on the rover's "head" or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground.


Thomas Hayden at science blog The Last Word On Nothing has a wonderful little interview with Scott Maxwell (@marsroverdriver), who works at JPL as a Mars rover driver. Coolest job ever, right?

I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Maxwell at JPL a few weeks before Curiosity touched down, when I accompanied Miles O'Brien on a shoot about MSL for PBS NewsHour. Loved him, and I love how he describes what makes his job so exhilarating:

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I drove her.  It was just a few meters along a simple path — we wouldn’t even bother to yawn at it today — but it was magic to me then, as it’s magic to me now.  I went home and should have slept, but all I could do was stare at the ceiling, in awe that right then, on Mars, there was a robot doing what I told it to do.  It was dead amazing, and that feeling has never left me and I hope it never will.

Read the rest here: SCUBA Diving through the Endless Martian Desert : The Last Word On Nothing.

Mars Curiosity image of the day: first pic by Navigation cameras includes an augmented reality tag

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory today received and published the first photograph shot by the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover.

It shows the shadow of the rover's now-upright mast in the center, and the arm's shadow at left. The arm itself can be seen in the foreground. The navigation camera is used to help find the sun -- information that is needed for locating, and communicating, with Earth. After the camera pointed at the sun, it turned in the opposite direction and took this picture. The position of the shadow helps confirm the sun's location. The "augmented reality" or AR tag seen in the foreground can be used in the future with smart phones to obtain more information about the mission.

(via spaceref.com. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Shuttle Endeavour retires to Los Angeles: details on her transit to LA released

"Space shuttle Endeavour, retired from service after 25 missions that spanned 123 million miles, will star in a remarkable 12-mile parade through the streets of Los Angeles on October 12-13, traveling from the city's international airport to the California Science Center for display at the children's learning complex." More from our friends at Spaceflight Now.

A watch that displays time on both Earth and Mars

Looking for a gift for the NASA Mars rover flight controller in your life who has everything? Executive Jewelers makes watches that display Martian time, and watches with dual displays so you know what time it is on Mars *and* Earth, at a glance. (via @milesobrien)

Former MPAA CTO who switched sides explains to the White House why SOPA is stupid

You may remember Paul Brigner, the geek who quit his job as CTO of the MPAA to work for its arch-rival net-freedom advocates at the Internet Society, who manage the .ORG top-level domain. He has just filed comments with the White House's IP Czar rubbishing the techniques proposed in SOPA, which contemplated censoring the Internet by tinkering with the domain-name service in the hopes of reducing copyright infringement. At the time that Brigner left the MPAA for ISOC, a lot of us were worried that he'd officially endorsed SOPA and argued in favor of it at Congress. Brigner and ISOC both assured us that he'd had a genuine change of heart, and these comments are the proof in the pudding. As Mike Masnick notes, Brigner was a pretty half-hearted, ineffective SOPA advocate, but he's a rip-snortin', ass-kicking critic of it.

We are also of the opinion that any enforcement attempts – at both national and international levels – should ensure and not jeopardize the stability, interoperability and efficiency of the Internet, its technologies and underlying platforms. The Internet – a network of networks – is based on an open and distributed architecture. This model should be preserved and should surpass any enforcement efforts. For the Internet Society preserving the original nature of the Internet is particularly significant, especially when enforcement is targeting domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS) in general. There are significant concerns from using the DNS as a channel for intellectual property enforcement and various contributions have been made on this issue by both the Internet Society and the technical community. It needs to be highlighted that from a security perspective, in particular, DNS filtering is incompatible with an important security technology called Domain Name Security Extensions or DNSSEC. In fact, there is great potential for DNSSEC to be weakened by proposals that seek to filter domain names. This means that DNS filtering proposals could ultimately reduce global Internet security, introduce new vulnerabilities, and put individual users at risk.

Our second recommendation relates to the legal tools that should be in place in any enforcement design. ISOC would like to stress the absolute need for any enforcement provisions to be prescribed according to the rule of law and due process. We believe that combating online infringement of intellectual property is a significant objective. However, it is equally important that this objective is achieved through lawful and legal paths and in accordance with the notion of constitutional proportionality. In this regard, enforcement provisions – both within and outside the context of intellectual property – should respect the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of individuals and, subsequently, those of Internet users. They should not seek to impose unbearable constitutional constraints and should not prohibit users from exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

As a general recommendation, we would like to emphasize our belief that all discussions pertaining to the Internet, including those relating to intellectual property - both at a national and international level - should follow open and transparent processes.

Former MPAA CTO Tells The White House Why SOPA Is The Wrong Approach For IP Enforcement

Models of rusted cars

Classic Wrecks: The Rusted Car as Art from Etsy on Vimeo.

Eric Beug is a video producer at Etsy. He says:
Model vwWe've just published a 4-minute video about John Findra's love of classic cars and his creative expression through affectionately reproducing the rusty beauty of abandoned automobiles through scale models. Findra's under-hauled model cars are the culmination of years of striving for made-man perfection only to find perfection in nature more rewarding.
Classic Wrecks: The Rusted Car as Art

This Is My Body - short film in response to Republican attacks on women's health and reproductive rights

This Is My Body from Jason Stefaniak on Vimeo.

Kelsey Rowland says:

This Is My Body is a short film project that is a passionate, full-throated expression of the fundamental, inalienable, universal rights of women. The project is a response to the attacks on women's health and reproductive rights, and general bodily autonomy, that have occurred throughout this year.

What I think gives the film its added touch behind the powerful message is that the director, surprisingly enough, is a male. His name is Jason Stefaniak and is a thesis student in the NYU Grad Film program. His impetus for the project was the desire to see a country and world that respects and empowers women, such as his mother, grandmother, aunts, girlfriend, and sister.

The video was shot in one day in a studio in New York with about 5 crew members and borrowed equipment and was funded through a Facebook fundraising campaign. We've spent no real money on advertising and the entire distribution plan was created and executed by Jason, as well as a few volunteers.

American off-duty cop complains he couldn't pack heat in Canada, worries about guys who talked to him and then went away

Jesse sez, "This letter to the editor for a Kalamazoo police officer to the Calgary Herald has been floating around Twitter and the internet today, mostly for the purposes of mocking it. The officer describes an incedent that he feels is a good example of why Canada should allow concealed firearms. Two men came up to him and his wife to ask if they had been to the Calgary Stampede, and...that's all. The newspaper has already released an editorial explaining that it's a real letter they received from a real police officer, and that it isn't a hoax. I thought it might be right up Boingboing's alley. It really does illustrate a cultural divide between Canadian and (some) Americans' views on gun control. It has also sparked the Twitter hashtag #NoseHillGentleman."

Even with the newspaper's reassurance, I find it hard not to believe that this guy isn't trolling -- the cliche is too perfect.

Recently, while out for a walk in Nose Hill Park, in broad daylight on a paved trail, two young men approached my wife and me. The men stepped in front of us, then said in a very aggressive tone: "Been to the Stampede yet?"

We ignored them. The two moved closer, repeating: "Hey, you been to the Stampede yet?"

I quickly moved between these two and my wife, replying, "Gentle-men, I have no need to talk with you, goodbye." They looked bewildered, and we then walked past them.

I speculate they did not have good intentions when they approached in such an aggressive, disrespectful and menacing manner. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort, but rather concluded it was in their best interest to leave us alone.

Would we not expect a uniformed officer to pull his or her weapon to intercede in a life-or-death encounter to protect self, or another? Why then should the expectation be lower for a citizen of Canada or a visitor? Wait, I know - it's because in Canada, only the criminals and the police carry handguns.

Nose Hill Park confrontation makes visitors feel unsafe (Thanks, Jesse!)

(Image: ALBERTA 1954 auto license plate CALGARY front plate, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from woodysworld1778's photostream)

Interview with Owen Brozman, illustrator of new graphic novel by author of Go the F**k to Sleep

[Video Link] A fine short interview with the talented Owen Brozman, who illustrated Nature of the Beast, a graphic novel written by Adam Mansbach, who also wrote the mega-hit faux-kids' book Go the F**k to Sleep.

I have not yet read Nature of the Beast, but the description is intriguing:

An alien race of religious extremists plan to honor their deity through the ritualistic annihilation of our planet. The only man who knows this is Milan Marlowe, an unstoppable media baron who sees opportunity everywhere.

Earth’s only move is to engage the invaders according to their holy law and issue The Challenge of the Heretic—a winner-take-all gladiator battle for our right to exist. Marlowe launches Beast Wars, a televised interspecies tournament designed to select Earth’s mightiest champion. On a decadent private island, sharks, lions, gorillas, and polar bears square off to the delight of screaming fans oblivious to the sky-high stakes.

Enter Bruno Bolo—single father, blues belter, and alligator wrestler from the swamps of Florida. Beset by personal demons, corporatized killer sharks, Yeats-quoting pit fighters, and looming alien eradicators, Bruno will emerge as our desperate planet’s final hope.

Buy Nature of the Beast on Amazon

Mr Rogers speaks: four hour video memoir of Fred Rogers

The Archive of American Television has posted an epic, four-hour interview with Fred Rogers, better known as TV children's entertainer and world-beating mensch Mr Rogers, of Mr Rogers' Neighborhood. You may recall Rogers's classic testimony to the Congress on public TV spending, which many credit with rescuing public TV from budget cuts. The interview (which I'm about a quarter of the way through) is every bit as sweet and wonderful as his classic testimony, and would make an excellent audiotrack for you to run in the background today.

Fred Rogers Interview | Archive of American Television (via The Mary Sue)

Stick-up kid foiled by beer-throwing store manager

An English stick-up artist was foiled in his attempt to rob a cornershop by a manager who flung 12-packs of lager at the crim until he fled the premises. There's an important RPG lesson here about the shortcomings of melee weapons when your adversary has a ranged weapon.

Don't Bring a Knife to a Beer Fight

The director who was approached to helm the Justice League movie is... Ben Affleck

On the blazing comet tail of the big Marvel-Joss Whedon-Avengers 2 news comes this strange announcement: Ben Affleck -- that Ben Affleck -- has been approached by Warner Bros. to direct DC's equally huge Justice League movie, which is set to go right up against The Avengers 2. While Affleck is a true, real, bona fide film director (Amy Ryan was nominated for an Oscar for Gone Baby Gone, Affleck's first film), isn't this a little soon for him? Are we ready for Ben Affleck to step into Joss Whedon's turf? Or should he step back and take a cue from Jon Favreau and Kenneth Branagh, and take one comic book superhero at a time? Who could go up against Joss Whedon with a Justice League movie right now? Is Kevin Smith jealous that he wasn't asked? But more importantly: Which city in the DC universe is Boston, and which DC superhero will have that accent? (via /Film, Newsarama)

Makie doll with expressive animal ears

Katsideswide has modded her alpha-version Makie doll with a pair of expressive animal ears. She drilled holes in the head of her custom, 3D printed dolls, used the head-cavity to house a controller, and went to town.

Ok, i've just started tinkering around with some tiny servos to get Suekat expressing herself. I'm yet to get the drill out to perform amateur surgery on her skullcap but I'm hoping the results will be exciting! I don't want to promise anything yet but I've hooked up an arduino pro mini, and the conveniently sized head cavity means I think i can get a fair amount in there. It looks like there's a handy hole in the neck leading to what looks suspiciously like a space for a battery in Suekat's back. Unfortunately I can't get a standard 9V battery into the space! It's a fraction too small. I was wondering what battery it was designed for? And if there's any chance I can get 9V out of it?

Batteries?

(Disclosure: I'm proud to say that my wife co-founded MakieLab, manufacturers of the Makie dolls)

Create disposable telephone numbers for the iPhone with Burner


[Video Link] Burner is an iPhone application that lets you generate temporary phone numbers. This would come in handy, for example, if you are selling something on Craigslist, and you don't want to give out your permanent telephone number. The app costs $1.99, which gives you a "burner" number that's valid for 7 days, 20 talk minutes, or 60 texts, whichever comes first. You can buy additional credits in the app.

Burner - Disposable Phone Numbers

If ghosts suffered with autocorrect

High concept from the Hairpin's Mallory Ortberg: "Text-messages from a ghost:"

hey im gaunting you ok

Do you mean haunting

yeah sorry i don’t have any fingers
so im poltergeisting a stick to help me text this

Who is this?

oh sorry im a ghost

So do you live inside this phone

yeah kind of

Text Messages From a Ghost (via Making Light)

(Image: Ghost Dance Texture, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from oddsock's photostream)

Colorado cattle mutilations

Four mutilations of livestock in Gunnison, Colorado over the last few months are freaking out area ranchers. Recently, a horse was shot, its head skinned, and tongue and anus yanked out. And in June, a prize cow was killed and its tongues, lips, and anus removed. Now, I think it's unlikely that high school biology classes from Sirius are swooping down to dissect our livestock. But man, these cattle mutilations are fucking bizarre. From the Denver Post:

The recent mutilations have similarities to mutilations that occurred in the 1960s in neighboring Saguache County. The most famous incident was reported in 1967 when a horse that became known as Snippy" had its head and neck skinned. Like in the most recent cases, there was no blood at the scene or tracks. The mutilations were never solved.

In 2009, a San Luis Valley rancher found four calves with their tongues sliced out, udders removed, eyes cored and faces skinned. Those cases were never solved and there also was no blood nor tracks around those animals.

"Livestock mutilations shake up Gunnison ranching community"

What you can learn from a chimpanzee's diet

Given the trend lately to look backwards, historically, in search of the ideal human diet, I found this article by Rob Dunn really interesting. Dunn discusses some new research that gives us a better idea of what our closest relatives—chimpanzees and bonobos—are eating out in the wild.

Some of the takeaways fit neatly into the current human food zeitgeist—chimpanzees eat a diverse and varied diet, only consume small amounts of meat, and (for obvious reasons) focus on what happens to be in season and available. But some of the information is less apparently applicable to us. For instance, chimpanzees fracking love figs. In fact, different species of figs make up nearly half of all the food the chimpanzees in the study were eating. Figs, people. Can't get enough of 'em.

But the larger point, Dunn writes, is that we can't really apply any of the facts about chimpanzee diets directly to ourselves in a "Just So Story" sort of way. Geography, resource availability, and culture don't work like that. Neither does biology.

You are unlikely to eat like a chimpanzee eats. If you are the average American, you eat more meat and more simple sugar. You eat differently because of choices you make and choices our societies have made (e.g., to produce huge quantities of the foods that most simply satisfy our ancient urges). You also eat differently because the species around you are different, unless you happen to own a greenhouse specializing in tropical African trees.

But even if you were to abandon agricultural food and move into a forest in Tanzania you would still not eat exactly like a chimpanzee. By most reports the food chimpanzees eat tastes bad, at least to humans, (though, one hopes, not to chimpanzees). By some accounting the food chimpanzees eat is also insufficient to keep a human alive and fertile.

Read the rest of the story at Scientific American blogs

Via Mariette DiChristina

Image: Female chimpanzee eating banana, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from dkeats's photostream

Coming soon: Computer finds the face of Jesus in a photo of toast

You know how your brain likes to see faces where there are not actually any faces? (Hint: This tendency, called pareidolia, is the force behind all those faces of Jesus turning up on slices of toast.) Turns out, computer programs can suffer from pareidolia, too. (Via Alexis Madrigal)

Patrick Farley reboots Cloverfield


The great (and maddeningly erratic) Patrick Farley has a typically awesome new comic up: "Cloverfield Rebooted," in which the monster's true nature is revealed.

Cloverfield Rebooted (via JWZ)

Watch a spider molt

Spider molting from Karli Larson on Vimeo.

Spiders don't have an internal skeleton like we do. Instead, their muscles are anchored to an exoskeleton—a sort of hard, semi-flexible shell that encases a spider's whole body. In order to grow bigger, spiders have to grow new exoskeletons and shed old ones.

Karli Larson found a spider on her window frame in the process of shedding its exoskeleton. Naturally, she filmed it and set the whole thing to music. She says:

The entire molting process took about 30 minutes to fully complete. This is the interesting part, sped up.

The camera is a little shakey, so if that bothers you, well, sorry. But I think this is still way fascinating.

Read more about spiders, their exoskeletons, and the molting process at HowStuffWorks

Thanks, Maggie Ryan Sandford!