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Custom zombie portraits


Rob Sacchetto,

I'm a zombie artist. I'm an illustrator and I have now likely illustrated more zombies than anyone else on earth. My ZombieDaily.com project, which has been running for over 1200 consecutive days, involves me posting a new piece of original zombie artwork every single day. Add to that my ZombiePortraits.com custom illustrated portrait service and have illustrated, created and published close to 5000 original works of zombie art.

I've written and illustrated two books on zombies, been featured in documentaries and numerous magazines. I have created thousands of custom zombie portraits for people from all walks of life including noted horror icons George Romero, Tom Savini as well as 'The Zombie Survival Guide' and 'World War Z' author Max Brooks.

I have now redesigned and relaunched my Zombie Portraits service and I am again accepting custom portrait requests and zombie artwork commissions. I am trying to get the word out - I like to eat and have nice things.

Persons interested in commissioning a custom zombie portrait for themselves, as a unique gift for a loved one or as a one-of-a-kind wedding present can simply email their reference photo to zombieme@zombieportraits.com for a free estimate.

Zombie Portraits (Thanks, Rob!)

In post-Soviet Russia, Siberian banana just looks at you


I'm presently at the SF Assembly in St Petersburg, Russia, where I'm one of the writer guests. Last night I was helping prepare for the sashlik barbecue, slicing up cucumbers, when a con-goer looked over my shoulder and said, "Ah, banana Siberski!" -- that is, "Siberian bananas!"

Just look at it.

Man forced to work in jail laundry while awaiting trial sues for "slavery"

In 2008, Finbar McGarry, a grad student at the University of Vermont, was arrested on gun charges. While he was awaiting trial, his jailers ordered him to work for $0.25 in the jail laundry or be condemned to solitary confinement. He's now suing for violations of his 13th amendment rights, saying that this amounted to slavery. The case was dismissed but that's been overturned by a higher court and is steaming forward. If he wins, it will have huge repercussions for America's jails, where pre-trial prisoners who have not been convicted of any charge are forced into hard labor.

Eventually, McGarry relented and chose to work in the laundry rather than face a prolonged and brutal spell in “the hole.” During the course of his work, McGarry says he contracted a serious MRSA lesion on his neck—a potentially deadly bacterial infection.

McGarry’s charges were ultimately dropped, and he was released. In 2009, he pressed a suit against his former captors in Brattleboro, Vermont, federal court for $11 million—claiming he was made a slave in violation of his 13th Amendment rights. The Brattleboro judge ruled that McGarry’s constitutional rights had not been violated, but that finding was overturned on appeal last week.

McGarry’s suit brings new life to the issue of pre-trial detention—the incarceration of people who are awaiting trial, yet to be convicted of a crime—which was already mired with debate and controversy.

A recent report by corrections expert Dr. James Austin, examining the jails of Los Angeles County (which suffer from notorious violence and overcrowding), found that upward of 1,000 inmates trapped in jail pre-trial posed little to no danger to the public—more than five percent of the county jail population. They were simply being held because they were too poor to pay for bail.

Pre-Trial Slave Sues Jail for $11 Million—in Vermont

Adversarial mind-reading with compromised brain-computer interfaces

"On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces," a paper presented by UC Berkeley and U Geneva researchers at this summer's Usenix Security, explored the possibility of adversarial mind-reading attacks on gamers and other people using brain-computer interfaces, such as the Emotiv games controller.

The experimenters wanted to know if they could forcefully extract information from your brain by taking control of your system. In the experiment, they flashed images of random numbers and used the automatic brain-response to them to make guesses as which digits were in their subjects' ATM PINs. Another variant was watching the brain activity of subjects while flashing the logo of a bank and making a guess about whether the subject used that bank.

I suppose that over time, an attacker who was able to control the stimulus and measure the response could glean a large amount of private information from a victim, without the victim ever knowing it.

Brain computer interfaces (BCI) are becoming increasingly popular in the gaming and entertainment industries. Consumer-grade BCI devices are available for a few hundred dollars and are used in a variety of applications, such as video games, hands-free keyboards, or as an assistant in relaxation training. There are application stores similar to the ones used for smart phones, where application developers have access to an API to collect data from the BCI devices.

The security risks involved in using consumer-grade BCI devices have never been studied and the impact of malicious software with access to the device is unexplored. We take a first step in studying the security implications of such devices and demonstrate that this upcoming technology could be turned against users to reveal their private and secret information. We use inexpensive electroencephalography (EEG) based BCI devices to test the feasibility of simple, yet effective, attacks. The captured EEG signal could reveal the user’s private informa- tion about, e.g., bank cards, PIN numbers, area of living, the knowledge of the known persons. This is the first attempt to study the security implications of consumer-grade BCI devices. We show that the entropy of the private information is decreased on the average by approximately 15 % - 40 % compared to random guessing attacks.

On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces

Executive Inn in Belleville, IL: not a nice place to stay, evidently

The Belleville, IL Executive Inn sounds like one of the worst hotels in the world, judging from the TripAdvisor reviews. Incredibly, it's rated 8/10 for the city, which means that there are two worse hotels in town. Here's cpratt:

Oh sweet lord where do I begin :( first the room was filthy, they never cleaned in the two weeks I stayed there. The supposedly free wifi don't work, the tub, toilet and sinks were all clogged and backed up constantly. The water smelled like rotten fish, the ice machine was broke, there was a hooker that lived upstairs and did her job in front of her child! The management never cleaned the hotel, the residents do that! It smells and the pool don't work, and the management is rude. There are drug deals being done constantly, prostitution is ramped and there is black mold growing everywhere. I have the hospital papers to prove the black mold made me ill ! Heck I was in St. Elizabeth's for a week. If you value your health I would recommend you don't stay here. Hell the health department needs to shut the place down until the owners, who live and stay in California by the way, fix the hell hole up!

Some highlights from “Bring some bleach. And a weapon," by an anonymous reviewer:

The room, although massive, appeared to be the room that the hotel "forgot about". It didn't look like anyone had cleaned it in years. Honestly. The window was broken, the carpet was stained to the point that it almost looked like old flannel, the beds were broken and crooked... the bathroom would have been too gross for an uncensored HBO special, I think that the walls in the actual room were made from cardboard - I don't even know if the TV worked because we turned around immediately and asked for another room.

She understood, and gave us a key to a room upstairs. As we walked upstairs and through the hall, we were "greeted" by a man who burst out of his hotel room and looked a lot like a haggard BB King, fresh after a shot of "mace" directly to the eyes. After asking each one of us (there were 4 of us) if we had any cigarettes or anything to smoke, he let us go, but not before watching us take every last step into our 2nd room...

I would recommend visiting this place if you don't have any children to care for and want to shoot a documentary on the inner-workings of a drug ring.

Executive Inn (via Reddit)

Air France pilot begs first class passengers for cash to refuel in Damascus

An Air France jet was diverted to Damascus due to "tensions" at its destination airport in Beirut. They couldn't take off again without refueling, and the Syrian authorities weren't about to extend credit to Air France (France is part of the coalition calling for UN intervention in the conflict). So the crew passed the hat around the first class cabin, raising "17,000" (units not specified) to pay for fuel -- though in the end, it wasn't needed. Cory

Beautiful blown glass retro rocketships



Artist Rik Allen makes beautiful blown-glass and metal sculptures of retro rocketships, with so much personality and detail. And tiny chairs. Every one of these evinces a ZOMG WANT reaction from me.

Blown Glass Rockets, SCFI & Mixed Media Sculpture of Rik Allen (via Super Punch)

European Directories sends legal threat to guy who wants to make it easy to stop receiving phone books

Branko sez,

Everybody in the Netherlands still receives the paper phone guide once every year, whether they want to or not, even though in these days of Google and the Internet it is nothing but a vehicle for advertisements.

To help stop this form of harassment, a guy called Alexander Klöpping has registered a URL called sterftelefoongidssterf.nl (diephonebookdie) which redirects to the phone book cancellation form. In other words, if you want the phone book to be eliminated (‘die’) from your life, follow that link. (Actually don’t follow it, De Telefoongids are known to ignore your cancellation request anyway.)

Last Monday Klöpping received a threatening e-mail by the publishers of the phone book, a subsidiary of European Directories, that tells him he is engaged in trademark violation and that he must cease and desist.

Phone book publisher tries to silence critic with legal bullying (Thanks, Branko!)

Boots keeps selling quack remedies intended for babies, even after they are banned from US import over fears of broken glass

Boots, which styles itself a "pharmacy-led Health & Beauty retailer" has caught a lot of flack for selling homeopathic "remedies" that contain no active ingredients. One report actually found a Boots pharmacist referring customers who asked a five-year-old child with a three-day bout of diarrhoea to homeopathic sugar pills (advice that could potentially kill the patient by leaving the underlying condition untreated).

Just in case you couldn't imagine Boots being more profit-led (rather than "pharmacy-led") marvel at the fact that the company refuses to withdraw products from Nelsons, a homeopathic manufacturer, even after the US regulator banned Nelsons products over fears that their sugar pills (which include "teething remedies" that are meant for babies) contained fragments of broken glass.

Boots's answer to a concerned customer? "Don't worry, the broken glass isn't in the stuff they sell to us."

How could Boots know that the lax production standards applied only to shipments to the US? The products are made in Wimbledon. Do Nelsons have ‘lax Fridays’ where they all bunk off to the pub while the US export runs are made?

This response lacks any credibility.

I wrote to Boots when I received this to ask how they can be confident that these problems do not affect the UK. I have received no response.

Of course, we know Boots have a rather cynical attitude to the homeopathic products they sell. When giving evidence to parliament, Paul Bennett, professional standards director and superintendent pharmacist at Boots, admitted they have no evidence these products work, but sold them because they could.

One then might understand they were unconcerned about the homeopathic pills not being manufactured correctly – it does not matter one jot if the sugar pill receives a drop of magic ju-ju juice – it’s just water. But why would Boots be unconcerned that their products lack the quality control procedures to prevent glass entering products? To remind you, Boots sell homeopathic babies teething powders – a completely useless product, but may make the baby forget its teething pain if it crunches down on shards of glass.

Boots Unconcerned About Nelsons Production Problems.

Man in a coma is "fit for work," loses disability benefits

A post in a thread on rightsnet.co.uk claims that ATOS (a French private company that administers disability benefits assessments for the UK Department of Work and Pensions) has declared a man in a coma to be fit for work and cut off his benefits. This is part of a the stepped up campaign to stop "benefits cheats" by requiring complex paperwork from claimants. A companion piece on Libcom has comments from others who've been cut off, including a man who's suffered brain injuries that caused him to file his paperwork late.

Client’s husband is in hospital in a coma. He was sent ESA501.

Client contacted DWP to explain situation and was asked to obtain letter from hospital confirming he is in a coma. Did so. Was told to send it to ATOS rather than local BDC. Did so. Husband has now received decision letter – yep, as he has failed to return the ESA50 without good cause and is therefore capable of work [he is] no longer entitled to ESA…

Coma patient fit for work