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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.

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)

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)

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!)

Marti Noxon is developing an ensemble comedy for Showtime

One of my favorite writers of film and television, Marti Noxon, is developing an ensemble comedy for Showtime. And here is the extra fun part, for those of us who like to watch funny women on television: that ensemble will be comprised of female humans! Following in the footsteps of other woman-led Showtime offerings -- Weeds, The Big C, Nurse Jackie, The United States of Tara -- Noxon's show, titled Guide to Divorce, features a "semi-autobiographical" premise about a group of 40something women getting used to life after marriage, including their saucy, saucy post-divorce sexual happenings. (This is Showtime, after all.) Deadline is unfairly calling it "Sex and the City 2.0," because any show involving an ensemble of approximately three or more women who have sexual intercourse must surely be a ripoff of Sex and the City. While she did work on estrogen-driven dramas like Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy, Noxon's cred runs the gamut from straight drama (Mad Men, Prison Break) to supernatural dramedy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Fright Night). I think Guide to Divorce might be more than meets the eye, and is definitely something to be excited about. (via Deadline)

Styx: Mr. Roboto

My first rock concert was Styx, on tour for their 1983 science fiction rock opera Kilroy Was Here. Above is the video for the album's first single, "Mr. Roboto." Not only does the song feature such profound lyrics as "My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M," the Mr. Roboto costume was designed by Stan Winston, the pioneering SFX artist who is best known for his work on The Terminator and Aliens. From Wikipedia:

 Wikipedia En 8 82 Styx - Kilroy Was Here The song tells part of the story of Robert Orin Charles Kilroy (ROCK), in the rock opera Kilroy Was Here. The song is performed by Kilroy (as played by keyboardist Dennis DeYoung), a rock and roll performer who was placed in a futuristic prison for "rock and roll misfits" by the anti-rock-and-roll group the Majority for Musical Morality (MMM) and its founder Dr. Everett Righteous (played by guitarist James Young). The Roboto is a model of robot which does menial jobs in the prison. Kilroy escapes the prison by overpowering a Roboto prison guard and hiding inside its emptied-out metal shell. When Jonathan Chance finally meets Kilroy, at the very end of the song, Kilroy unmasks and says, I'm Kilroy! Kilroy!, ending the song.
Styx: Kilroy Was Here (Amazon)

Battle on Venus

Battle on venus
He seems to be thinking: "No time to dodge! But if I get out of here alive, I can sell the idea to Ridley Scott for the climactic scene in Prometheus."

Man with the world's lowest singing voice

Tim Storms holds the World Record for the lowest note ever sung by a human. He can hit a G-7, or .189 Hz. It's so low you can't even hear it, but it's measurable. I like how Tim's website says "Biography of a Bass Freak." Tim also has the world's widest vocal range for a male. He was profiled this week by NPR's Morning Edition and also CNN. You can also hear Tim perform on the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir's new album, Tranquility: Voices of Deep Calm.

Hand-painted Makie doll

Sioux has posted her Makie Doll paintjob to the site's forums, along with extensive notes. Makies are the ivory-white, custom 3D printed dolls, and Makie owners have been experimenting with ways to bring color to their creations. Sioux's work is just fab.

Half way through the faceup I realised that my ‘sealant’ technique wasn't totally sealing. Whether it was cotton residue, makie-nylon residue from the sand-matting, pastel residue from blushing, resin residue from the spray or actual dust particles, I noticed a kind of blotching/clumping around the temples where the blushing was heaviest.

Next attempt, I can only think to do less layers (but make sure the base layer is a good enough seal) and leave each blushed layer to dry for hours/days as opposed to 15 mins (as with bjd's). As it is, the car lacquer is supposed to be left for 48 hours to fully cure (and I did 4 light coats, each 1 hour apart before leaving for 24 hrs - my logic being that a car panel is much bigger than a Makie face). So more haste less speed next time.

Jenny Head - (Jane Doe Makie) - FACEUP!!

(Disclosure: My wife is one of the founders of Makies)

What exactly is athletic doping, anyway?

In this Smithsonian Mag piece, some background on the "high-tech, high-stakes competition between Olympic athletes who use banned substances and drug testers out to catch them." Helpful context for those seeking to understand the science behind today's news on a doping scandal specific to a certain cycling hero and cancer advocate. (via @alicialane)

Luchador bottle opener

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Clever Luchador bottle openers, available in several colors and poses for $11 from Amazon. "Kikkerland Luchador Bottle Opener" (via Super Punch)

Glittery henna crown on child cancer patient in chemotherapy (photo)

Sara's Henna, a henna shop in Hong Kong where ladies go to doll themselves up with temporary designs based on Indian tradition, did something really cool: inspired by Henna Heals, they traveled to Children's Cancer Hospital Pakistan, and spent some time with Maryam, "the most patient & radiating young girl undergoing chemo, yet wearing a beautiful smile." She wore her sparkly Henna Crown for the Muslim holy day of Eid last Sunday.

This seems like a seriously awesome thing to do in pediatric cancer care centers. As soon as I get through radiation, I'm gonna talk to the peeps at my hospital about doing something like this with kids and adults in chemo. Never underestimate the healing power of a little beauty-fussing.

Testing out a Star Wars-style hover bike in the Mojave desert

I really, really hope that this is real and not another cruel hoax by Robert Zemeckis*.

Popular Science says it's legit, and that you wouldn't need any special training to drive the thing:

Brought to you by aerospace firm Aerofex, the bike runs on a pair of powerful fans. It picks up on instinctive movements people make while riding a bicycle or motorbike, then moves in the same way (except, you know, flying), meaning anyone can have a go at it. For safety reasons, they've tested it at 30 mph and 15 feet high, although earlier versions of it went as fast as a helicopter.

Read more at Popular Science

(*shakes fist in the air* ZEMECKIS!)

The sun is round. Very, very, very round.

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The sun is the roundest natural object known to humans, according to new research. University of Hawaii researcher Jeffrey Kuhn and his colleagues used NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory to precisely measure the sun's shape. A precise understanding of the sun's roundness and the factors that shift its shape, such as sub-surface turbulence, could shed new light on changes in the Earth's climate. From National Geographic:

If the sun were a meter-wide (3.3-foot-wide) beach ball, Kuhn said, the variation in the sun's shape from the highest to the lowest point would be about 17 microns—less than the width of a fine human hair, according to the SDO measurements…

Study leader Kuhn said his team is going to update computer models of the sun's cycle to see if and how the highly accurate shape affects their behavior.

"We're not done with measurements, though. We need to follow a full 11-year solar cycle to make sure the sun isn't fooling us," Kuhn said. "By doing that we can improve the accuracy even further."

"Sun Is Roundest Natural Object Known"

Kitten-chasing pit bulls chew up minivan

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The damage above is reportedly the work of four pit bull terriers were were trying to reach a stray kitten camped out in the engine compartment of a Dodge minivan belonging to the dogs' owner. From CBS News:

 Cnwk.1D I Tim 2012 08 22 120821-Fender Lynx 244X183 The Desert Sun of Palm Springs reports an animal control officer freed the kitten following a 40-minute process that involved removing the bumper.

The kitten is OK and available for adoption at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter.

"Pit bulls maul Calif. minivan chasing kitten"

Bill Nye on creationism: "Your world view just becomes crazy"

Bill Nye makes a plea for teaching our children science and preparing them to make good choices for the future.

Rob LL Cool J at own risk

Rap star and actor LL Cool J encountered a burglar in his home. Meeting the superstar left the home-invader with several broken bones and no autograph. "The family was sleeping when their home security alarm sounded at 1 a.m., sending LL Cool J into action, according to a Los Angeles Police statement." (via CNN)

Shirt that got Poop Strong man tossed off a Delta flight available once again!

After Arijit got thrown off of a Delta flight for wearing a TSA-mocking t-shirt I designed, a lot of people began to email, asking where they could buy one for themselves. Well, it seemed a bit weird to do a reissue and pocket a royalty for a shirt on the basis of someone else's legal hassles, so I worked with Arijit and Woot, and we've decided to reissue the shirt with all the profits being divided evenly between EFF, the ACLU, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Get yours today for a mere $15! Wear it with pride! Don't blame me if you get kicked off an airplane!

Also available in handsome tote form at $10 each.

Threat Level: Doctorow

Devon Steampunk Watch: all springs and belts and such and oh my

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to bring you a brief moment during which I will fantasize in public about having an extra $25,000 lying around so I could pre-order one of these Devon Steampunk watches.

The Devon Tread watch is arguably the most cutting edge watch made today, a timepiece of striking visuals and technology. The Tread 1 Watch features four internal 2-micron thin belts that spin within the case to display the time. It’s powered by a lithium polymer rechargeable cell that is charged by wireless induction. This electric system runs the belts that are kept in tune with an optical technology. Add that all up, and you have one of the most technically advanced, visually stunning watches ever made. The Devon Works Tread 1 Watch was designed by a California aerospace company, a group that is quite comfortable with fitting square pegs through round holes. This watch is a prime example of their technical prowess.

Operating out of California, DEVON is the only American watch company using its own proprietary movement. In late 2010, the Tread 1 was nominated for the Gran Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve in the category of Design and Concept Watch – the first American watch brand ever to receive this laudable recognition.

Devon Steampunk Limited Edition

(Disclosure: Watchismo, who retails this watch, is a Boing Boing advertiser. This post was not requested by them, nor did they compensate me or Boing Boing in any way for it)