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Wookiees and Slave Leias in great number


Spotted at last year's DragonCon: a large collection of Slave Leias and a couple Chewies, chilling poolside:

Matt and I stumbled across this group purely by chance. If anyone knows who the group was, or who organized the shoot, please let me know. I would like to give them credit for the setup.

Slave Leias by the pool

HOWTO automatically license your Instagram pics as Creative Commons

Philip Neustrom has created Set your Instagram free!, a simple way to add Creative Commons licenses to your Instagram photos (something the service doesn't support natively, meaning that technically anyone who reposts your Instagrams risks a lawsuit). Wired has a good writeup by Nathan Hurst:

“What makes Flickr’s Creative Commons licensing so great is that it’s structured: You can search through their photos and just find ones that are CC-licensed and even drill down by tag, etc.,” says Neustrom. “So I wanted to provide something with the same level of structure.”

Users sign in with their Instagram accounts, choose the CC license they wish to use, and every photo they Instagram for the next three months (Neustrom included a re-up requirement so that users wouldn’t forget they’re sharing) will be CC-licensed. Take note, though: There’s no way to selectively license your Instagram photos — they’ll all appear on I Am CC. Whether you want them licensed in the first place is up to you, but chances are, they’re not making your any money anyway.

How to License Your Instagram Photos on Creative Commons

How the entire world's media got a Nature cover story totally, utterly wrong

Moran Cerf, the Israeli military hacker turned good-guy bank-robber turned neuroscientist, tells the hilarious stories about how the best day of his scientific career -- when he got the cover of Nature -- was ruined by press sensationalism. He and his colleagues invented a machine that let him show people pictures of what they were thinking about. A BBC news producer misconstrued this as meaning that he'd invented a machine that could record dreams. They ran with it, and the story spread all over the world, morphing into an account of how scientists could record your dreams and soon there will be product on the market that does this. When he stopped talking to the press, they ganked photos of him in a Freud Hallowe'en costume and dubbed him "the new Sigmund Freud." He continued to be the top news story on Google News, only slipping to number two when the US midterms results were published. He got calls from Apple asking to buy the dream recorder; from Inception's producer asking to go on tour with him, and so on. The story's pretty amazing, and a great commentary on how science stories spin out of control.

The Moth Presents Moran Cerf: On Human (and) Nature (Thanks, Moran!)

MPAA says "they're doing something" about offering legit services, ignores the fact that they're doing it poorly

Here's Techdirt's Mike Masnick at his finest, nailing a point perfectly:

[MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman] says that somehow, magically, because there are more crippled, annoying, expensive, incomplete movie services out there, no one should complain. You see, in the MPAA's world "offering something" is proof that they're innovating, even if it's not what people want.

MPAA Pretends 'Offering Something' Is The Same Thing As 'Offering What People Want'

Black teenager who was stopped-and-searched 50 times between 14 and 17 will sue London cops for harassment

A 17 year old black teenager in London is tired of being busted for walking while black. He says he's been stopped-and-searched without cause fifty times since he was 14, and that on a number of occasions this has included bullshit charges (later dropped), wild accusations, strip searches, and detention in police cells. None of these stops has led to a conviction -- his most recent one almost did. PC John Lovegrove arrested the teenager during a stop-and-search, alleging that he assaulted the cop during a stop-and-search. The case went to court, but then collapsed when the footage showed that the teenager "[lay] there like a dead fish" during the search, and did not roll over or spit, as was alleged by the constable.

The Met won't comment on the case. The teenager will sue the London Metropolitan Police for harassment.

The youth had been stopped by police in Sidcup, south London, on 11 February this year, after reports on the police radio that a named white suspect had threatened his father with a knife and had then run off. The police description was later amended to black or mixed race male.

Although no weapon or drugs were found on the youth, he remained handcuffed while the police forced him to the ground. He was then strip-searched at the police station. He had cigarette papers in his pocket and torn up cardboard that PC Lovegrove said could be used as a filter when smoking cannabis. No drugs were found during the strip search.

The youth said: "I can't think of any other reason why the police keep doing this to me apart from racism. I've been stopped and searched so many times I've lost count, I think it's about 50 times."

The Met police is 11 times more likely to stop and search black people than white ones, according to Equalities and Human Rights Commission research published earlier this year. It has accused the Met of racial profiling.

Black teenager 'stopped 50 times' plans to sue Met police for harassment

Rapture of the Nerds giveaway

Charlie Stross and I have a forthcoming comic novel called Rapture of the Nerds (we'll be touring it in a couple of weeks, and to celebrate, our publisher Tor Books is giving away ten copies. Cory

RIAA lobbyist turned judge runs a fantasy courtroom, the only one in America where they don't laugh copyright trolls out the door

Judge Beryl Howell used to work for the RIAA as a lobbyist. Or perhaps she still does. How else to explain her totally bizarre courtroom appearance in a copyright troll lawsuit -- where ISPs are arguing that they shouldn't have to turn over their customer data to discredited, laughable copyright troll John Steele, who can't get a break in any of the many other courtrooms where he's trying the stunt.

Mike Masnick has a highlight reel. The tl;dr is that Howell thinks that ISPs should bear responsibility for figuring out how to stop piracy on their networks (in the same breath in which she admits that the law says the opposite), and because they haven't taken this step, their customers have no right to privacy. Then she cites a GAO report on piracy (which actually says that all the RIAA's and MPAA's piracy numbers are total bullshit) and says it proves that piracy is a problem.

But apparently copyright trolls have found a friend in Judge Howell, who not only is welcoming them with open arms, but seems to be using these trolling cases to further the goals of her former employer. She's released her decision on the motion to quash the subpoenas, and it's basically a 42-page screed on the evils of infringement and how ISPs should be responsible for stopping piracy (much of which has absolutely nothing to do with the case at all). The only nod towards the other side seems to be a weak acknowledgement that "the Court recognizes that other Judges on this Court have reached different conclusions with respect to the legal questions posed by the ISPs" and thus she's agreed to stay her decision until the appeals court weighs in.

But she makes sure to get her arguments in for the appeals court to read, and it certainly feels like she reverted back to "lobbyist" mode, rather than "impartial judge."

She kicks off the polemic with a grand history of the DMCA, and how the task force that was created to write the DMCA originally wanted to pin liability on ISPs for actions done by their users. And while she admits that eventually the DMCA did include such liability protection, it seems clear she would have preferred it the other way. She then highlights the important court decisions from a decade ago, against the RIAA and in favor of Verizon and Charter, that ruled that the RIAA could not demand ISPs identify users without actually filing a lawsuit against them first. This, of course, was a basic recognition of basic privacy rights, and the fact that if you are going to expose someone's private info, you ought to at least file a lawsuit against them first. But, in the world of Judge Howell, apparently this was a bad decision. She approvingly cites the dissent in one of the key cases, claiming this somehow "unraveled" the balance struck in the DMCA. Nothing, of course, is further from the truth. That's a total rewrite of reality.

RIAA Lobbyist-Turned-Judge: ISPs Deserve Copyright Trolls For Not Stopping Infringement

Wombat and kangaroo love

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An orphaned wombat and kangaroo are unlikely BFFs at the Wildabout Wildlife Rescue Centre in Kilmore, Victoria, Australia. This photo from the Wildabout Wildlife page on Facebook. Revel in more of the cuteness in photographer Rob Leeson's slideshow at the Herald Sun. (Thanks Gabe Adiv!)

Beacon Phoenix: coffee mug sized bluetooth speaker

Beacon phoenixI really like the Phoenix, a small bluetooth speaker from Beacon Audio. They sent me an evaluation unit a couple of weeks ago. It paired very easily to my iPhone (unlike a lot of bluetooth devices, which are pains-in-the-neck to pair) and the sounds is loud and clear, given its size. It's a vast improvement over the iPhone's built-in speakers. Because it's so small, I find myself using it quite a bit when I'm doing work outside. It's also great for playing games and watching videos. Not sure about the lithium battery life yet, but you can recharge it with the included USB cable. I find that I use it a lot more than the Jambox, which feels too precious to take out. It's available directly from Beacon for $99. UPDATE: A couple of folks in the comments have said that the Satechi ST-66BTA ($39.99 on Amazon) is very similar, if not nearly identical.

LIBERAL PROFESSOR sends video of self being liberal to right-wing Campus Reform group, demands his $100 bounty for turning himself in

The people at Campus Reform (whose mission is to smash left-wing scum) are offering a $100 bounty for videos of "LIBERAL PROFESSORS" that lead to news stories. Kieran Healy, being a liberal professor, plans to snap up a C-note of his own from the group, whose founder, Morton Blackwell, also founded the Leadership Institute, which boasts such alumni as Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, and James O’Keefe. Here's Healy's entry. I think he's a shoe-in.

Bottom Feeders (via Making Light)

Jerry Nelson, Sesame Street's "The Count," RIP

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Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer behind Sesame Street's "The Count," has died. He was 78. "In Memoriam: Jerry Nelson" (Sesame Workshop, via CNN)

Ian McDiarmid is ready for that Star Wars TV series that is still trying to happen

Well, consider Emperor Palpatine cast and ready for his closeup. When asked during his first appearance at a Star Wars event in Orlando, Ian McDiarmid said that if Lucas & Co. come calling in case that storied, epic Star Wars TV series gets off the ground, he will be ready to reprise the role he played in five out of six of the franchise's films. Said the Emperor: "It would be nice if one day they would be followed up…who knows? Who knows if Palpatine would be in it? ... If he happened to pop up in the script I would hate if it was to go live and someone else were to be in it." You know who else would hate it? Probably everyone. Everyone. We'll be in touch, sir. (via Nerd Bastards) Jamie

In case you thought Marie on Breaking Bad was a little annoying, let this interview with Betsy Brandt change your mind

If you find yourself obsessing over a TV show, watching three or four episodes in a row, becoming completely immersed in this fictional world of fictional people, you tend to form opinions and pick favorites. And you also pick out at least one character who annoys the crap out of you. For some people, that show is Breaking Bad, and that character is Marie. Marie Schrader -- a kleptomaniac, snoopy, deeply flawed, purple-loving human being who still finds a way to be a sympathetic character. For most people, anyway. Some people still don't like Marie, and the woman who plays her, Betsy Brandt, is regularly notified by Twitter users that they would like to see the character she plays dead. Brandt granted an interview with Spinoff Online, and if you still don't like her by the time you're done reading it, then there is no hope for you. You have broken bad, and you just won't return. Because she is delightful. (And she's talking about upcoming episodes and a possible Breaking Bad movie, so that might be relevant to your interests, too.) (via Spinoff Online) Jamie

Irish president lambastes right wing US radio DJ over the politics of fear

Irish politicians are justly famed for their scathing wit, and if you've ever wondered why, listen to this clip of Irish president Michael D Higgins flaying alive Michael Graham, a US radio host, graduate of Oral Roberts University and supporter of the Tea Party movement. The recording dates to before Higgins won the presidency, but one imagines that political debate in Eire is a lot of fun these days.

From May 2010, an exchange between Michael D Higgins (who was elected President of Ireland last year) and Tea Party-loving radio guy Michael Graham on Irish radio. Full exchange here.

Michael D Higgins v Michael Graham (via Reddit)

Free to a good home, a giant, live-in head of Humpty Hump


Here's a freebie you won't see again any time soon: a gigantic head of Digital Underground's Humpty Hump, available free to a good home, and Shock-G himself will deliver it to you, and promises to rent it from you for cash money if the band ever does a reunion tour. It's big enough to live in, which is just what its former owner was doing when he got caught living illegally in a warehouse storage unit and abandoned it. Here's some details from the AV Club's Marah Eakin:

The enormous noggin was made both as a stage prop and as a set piece for the group’s 1993 music video “Return Of The Crazy One.” According to the person who alerted everyone to its existence on Tumblr, whoever last owned the head (not another member of Digital Underground, hopefully) had been evicted from his or her apartment, and was actually living in the head for several weeks before being discovered. And while that might sound uncomfortable, the head is actually big enough to house a full dressing room and an electronic elevator that would lift Humpty out through the giant nose and onto the stage. Also featuring sunglasses that would light up and lips and chin that double as steps, the head originally cost $50,000 to build, and required an 18-wheel truck to transport and a four-man forklift team to move—although it splits into three convenient pieces.

This 12-foot-tall Humpty Hump head needs a home, wonders if you're ticklish (via JWZ!)