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Custom made 3D printed Portal gun from model ripped straight from the game

Melissa sez, "Here are some of the best pictures as well as a demonstration video of my custom-made portal gun. I wanted the gun to be as accurate as possible, so I used 3D printed parts that were ripped directly from the game files! After months and months of hard work, I was able to make the gun of my dreams! I took it to Comic-Con, and people loved it! I also met another girl who had the NECA gun, and it's easy to see how some of the details were lost from the game in order to make the NECA gun easier to manufacture."

Awesome Custom-Made NECA Portal Gun (Thanks, Melissa)

Make Weekend Projects - a touchless 3D tracking interface

[Video Link] This Weekend Project from MAKE is really cool: a touchless 3D tracking interface made from foil and cardboard.

Using a combination of low- and high-tech components, we'll show you how to build a completely touchless 3D tracking interface. This project will introduce you to the principle of capacitive sensing, and the Arduino microcontroller.

Complete instructions for this episode of Weekend Projects can be found here

Pussy Riot's closing statement


Argument in the show-trial of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot -- who gave an unlicensed anti-Putin performance in a cathedral and now face harsh, Stalinist justice for daring to point out the spy-emperor's nudity -- has concluded. Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich has given a tremendous closing statement, which is a masterful summary of Russian oligarchy:

The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].

Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics? After all, he could have employed his own, far more secular tools of power—for example, national corporations, or his menacing police system, or his own obedient judiciary system. It may be that the tough, failed policies of Putin’s government, the incident with the submarine Kursk, the bombings of civilians in broad daylight, and other unpleasant moments in his political career forced him to ponder the fact that it was high time to resign; otherwise, the citizens of Russia would help him do this. Apparently, it was then that he felt the need for more convincing, transcendental guarantees of his long tenure at the helm. It was here that the need arose to make use of the aesthetics of the Orthodox religion, historically associated with the heyday of Imperial Russia, where power came not from earthly manifestations such as democratic elections and civil society, but from God Himself.

How did he succeed in doing this? After all, we still have a secular state, and shouldn’t any intersection of the religious and political spheres be dealt with severely by our vigilant and critically minded society? Here, apparently, the authorities took advantage of a certain deficit of Orthodox aesthetics in Soviet times, when the Orthodox religion had the aura of a lost history, of something crushed and damaged by the Soviet totalitarian regime, and was thus an opposition culture. The authorities decided to appropriate this historical effect of loss and present their new political project to restore Russia’s lost spiritual values, a project which has little to do with a genuine concern for preservation of Russian Orthodoxy’s history and culture.

It was also fairly logical that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has long had a mystical connection with power, emerged as this project’s principal executor in the media. Moreover, it was also agreed that the Russian Orthodox Church, unlike the Soviet era, when the church opposed, above all, the crudeness of the authorities towards history itself, should also confront all baleful manifestations of contemporary mass culture, with its concept of diversity and tolerance.

Olenska | Yekaterina Samutsevich closing statement at the Pussy Riot Trial

Kid-crack: Japanese "paper doll" fashion stickers

Last month, I took my daughter into town for lunch, and we ended up at a communal table with a couple of slightly older girls (and their mom) who were geeking out, pasting intricate Japanese "fashion doll" stickers into elaborate albums. Each sticker-sheet came with one or two blank bodies -- mostly girls, though boys and babies also featured -- and several fashion items that could be stuck and layered on top of the characters to play dress-up. Think puffy sticker versions of paper dress-up dolls.

We ended up dropping by the shop in Covent Garden where the kids had scored their booty, and buying a few sets and an album for Poesy. These have since become her most favorite toy. It's a good combination of free-play (since you can get funny effects like putting socks on their ears, etc) and collecting, with all the many different varieties of garments and bodies. There's also a less gendered version of these -- food toys like hamburgers and pizzas that you build up in layers.

These have been sheer kid-crack in our house. On our month-long family trip, they were a sure-fire cure for squirming boredom during the lulls and car-rides. They're cheap enough that we didn't mind the inevitable loss as we dribbled away a hanselgretl trail of puffy, minuscule shoes and socks and tu-tus in hotels across America.

Here's a video with the stickers' creator at a Japanese trade-show, explaining their origin. I'm not sure where to buy them -- ours came from Artbox -- but your local Japantown is a good bet.

Two summers ago we decided to create interchangeable apparel stickers for two-dimensional dolls. These stickers can be layered on top of each other to create a fashionable look. The 90 female dolls all have the same body shape, with only the face and hairstyles being different. Because the body shapes are all the same, their clothes are interchangeable, so if you collect a lot of different apparel, there are an infinite number of coordinating combinations. Initially there were 15 dolls, but due to their popularity we increased the number to 90 in two years.

The number of apparel stickers is limited to what can fit on a single sheet, so approximately six different coordinated combinations can be created from a single sheet. We first imagined the personality of each doll and what type of hairstyle and clothes she would probably wear, and from this we also matched her with a suitable name.  We adjusted the cosmetics, eye shadow color, and eye positioning according to what we imagined as the personality of each doll to bring out more individuality.

Laser-cut, laser-etched flat-pack metal model kits


On our recent summer family holiday, I stopped in at The California Academy of Sciences, a beautiful science museum and research facility in San Francisco. In the gift shop, I grabbed a MetalWorks laser-cut trolley-car kit. MetalWorks are 11cm square sheets of tin, laser-cut and laser-etched to come apart into pieces ready to assemble into models of famous buildings, iconic vehicles, and other landmarks. I cleverly threw away the packaging (including the instructions) when we packed for home, but as I just discovered when I sat down to assemble the model, the company is smart enough to post PDFs of their instruction sheets. The model was just the right amount of challenging for me -- the kind of thing I could do in 20 minutes with a pair of tweezers while carrying on a pleasant conversation, and the finished product is a pretty cool-looking model indeed.

There are more than 30 different models on the company's website, of which a mere three can be had on Amazon. Correction: Here are 25 more -- thanks to Jeff in the comments!

Metal Works by Fascinations Unique Toys & Gifts

TrapWire: Wikileaks reveals ex-CIA agents running a face-recognition profiling company that surveils NYC subways, London stock exchange, Vegas casinos and more

Douglas sez:

Newly released WikiLeaks publications from the Stratfor leak reveal much about Trapwire, a multi-country surveillance network run by a private US company, Abraxas, led by ex-CIA operatives. The network operates in NYC subways, the London Stock Exchange, Las Vegas casinos, and more. It uses real-time video facial profiling and is linked to red-flag databases.

Here is a US GOV pdf diagramming its workings. Here is an RT article on the subject.

The WikiLeaks publications related to Trapwire are difficult to access now because WikiLeaks.org and many of its mirrors are under heavy DDOS attack. (Good time to donate!) However you can see the publications here via Tor.

Australian activist @Asher_Wolf is organizing a nonviolent campaign against Trapwire, including an effort to spam the network with creative false positives.

TrapWire: International Surveillance Coordination Network (Thanks, Douglas!)

A Long, Drawn Out Trip: The "lost" animated short that introduced Pink Floyd to Gerald Scarfe

[Video Link: "A Long, Drawn Out Trip"]

Last night I watched (and greatly enjoyed) the Pink Floyd "The Story of Wish You Were Here" documentary Richard Metzger turned me on to last week (buy it here, and my earlier post about that documentary is here).

I ended up going down one of those internet-rabbit holes where you search and watch a bunch of related stuff online. Among the rabbit-holes I fell down: the story of how the band hooked up with the now-legendary illustrator and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe. He and the band later teamed up on "The Wall," and Scarfe's visual style is now a kind of icon of that era of Big Rock and Roll. I am not a big fan of the later, big budget, grand spectacle school of rock music visuals for which they became known, but I am fascinated by the earlier material.

UK native Scarfe created "A Long, Drawn Out Trip" in 1971 after traveling to the US. As the story goes, Roger Waters and David Gilmour saw the 18-minute short when it was aired on the BBC in 1973 (only once in its entirety! remember, this is before YouTube!), and said, "That's the stuff!" The stream-of-consciousness short pokes fun at symbols of American culture. In one sequence, Mickey Mouse gets high and morphs from the Disney character we all know, to a stoned-out hippie.

Read the rest

BB reader: "Spot where Pink Floyd's 'Wish you Were Here' album cover was shot? I actually *am* here."

In the comment thread for my post about "The Making of Wish You Were Here" documentary, something worth a post all on its own. Boing Boing reader Donald Peterson writes...

Read the rest

Marilyn Manson reportedly goes through airports with obscenities written on his face to stop paps

Redditor j_patrick_12 says he ran into Marilyn Manson in an airport security line, and that Manson was apologizing profusely for the word FUCK written in eyeliner on his face, explaining that it was there to stop paparazzi from taking saleable pictures, and not because Manson wanted to be mean to people in the airport.

I just went through the LAX security line with Marilyn Manson. He had "FUCK" scrawled in large letters across the bottom half of his face, with what appeared to be a grease pencil. As we each removed our boots in the security line, he kindly explained that it was not directed at me or anyone else in the airport, but rather at the paparazzi, so that they couldn't sell any photos of him that they took. He was really apologetic about it, and covered his mouth around young children while apologizing to their parents for exposing their child to profanity.

Marilyn Manson just explained to me, in the security line at LAX, that the profanities written on his face in grease pencil were directed at the paparazzi, not at me. Reddit, what bizarre celebrity encounters have you had? (self.AskReddit)

WIPO's Broadcasting Treaty is back: a treaty to end the public domain, fair use and Creative Commons

The UN's World Intellectual Property Organization's Broadcasting Treaty is back. This is the treaty that EFF and its colleagues killed five years ago, but Big Content won't let it die. Under the treaty, broadcasters would have rights over the material they transmitted, separate from copyright, meaning that if you recorded something from TV, the Internet, cable or satellite, you'd need to get permission from the creator and the broadcaster to re-use it. And unlike copyright, the "broadcast right" doesn't expire, so even video that is in the public domain can't be used without permission from the broadcaster who contributed the immense creativity inherent in, you know, pressing the "play" button. Likewise, broadcast rights will have different fair use/fair dealing rules from copyright -- nations get to choose whether their broadcast rights will have any fair dealing at all. That means that even if you want to reuse video in a way that's protected by fair use (such as parody, quotation, commentary or education), the broadcast right version of fair use might prohibit it.

Worst of all: There's no evidence that this is needed. No serious scholarship of any kind has established that creating another layer of property-like rights will add one cent to any country's GDP. Indeed, given that this would make sites like Vimeo and YouTube legally impossible, it would certainly subtract a great deal from nations' GDP -- as well as stifling untold amounts of speech and creativity, by turning broadcasters into rent-seeking gatekeepers who get to charge tax on videos they didn't create and whose copyright they don't hold.

And since the broadcast right is separate from copyright, permissive copyright licenses like Creative Commons would not apply. That means that if you made a CC-licensed video -- as tens of millions of creators have -- that the web-host, the cablecaster, the satellite company or the broadcaster that made it available to the public could essentially strip off the license you provided and go back to an all-rights-reserved model, with them in the driver's seat.

Thanks, WIPO, for showing us once again what a corrupt, anti-creator, anti-free-speech, economically backwards waste of time and space you are.

During the last hours of the meeting, the WIPO Committee pursued discussions that led to the adoption of a single text titled “Working document for a treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations” (which has not been published as of today)3. This working document will constitute the basis of further discussions to be undertaken in November in Geneva, which WIPO hopes will conclude with a consensus document to be signed as a treaty early 2013. If WIPO convenes this conference it is because members have reached a decision and a new treaty may be born.

This procedural detail is a really important one — despite there being no international consensus, WIPO is pushing for a treaty to be signed quickly. This is actually a cruel trend in other WIPO negotiations. In the past, it has seemed like the WIPO bureaucracy has pushed for a conclusion of treaties just because they have been in negotiation for a long period of time. For example, another long-running negotiation led to the adoption of a treaty about performance rights that was opposed by many.

We urge country Members to say no to the WIPO Broadcasting treaty—as they have said in the past. We continue to believe the preferable model for addressing these issues is the narrower signal-based approach in the Brussels Satellite Convention.

Negotiations for a 2014 WIPO Broadcasting Treaty Are Back

Cactus cellular tower in Arizona


A Redditor called Jaycrew posted this photo from the erection of a cellular tower disguised as a cactus in Arizona.

How to hide a cell phone tower in Arizona (i.imgur.com) (via Super Punch)