Boing Boing 

Wells Fargo mistakenly forecloses on the wrong house, destroys elderly couple's entire lifetime's worth of possessions

Wells Fargo mistakenly foreclosed on a home that had no mortgage, sending in a crew to steal all and throw out all the elderly homeowners' belongings. Alvin Tjosaas helped his father build the family home in Twentynine Palms, CA when he was a teenager, and the couple raised their own children there. The Wells Fargo crew destroyed their entire lives' accumulation of personal possessions. Wells Fargo says it is "deeply sorry" and that it is "moving quickly to reach out to the family to resolve this unfortunate situation in an attempt to right this wrong."

More from CBSLA:

Alvin, a retired mason, built the home with his father when he was a teenager.

“I know every inch, every rock…my mom mixed all the cement by hand,” he said...

“My little kids (would) come out here and their dresses were the same color as the wildflowers,” said Alvin...

“When you put your heart into something…it makes me real sad. I’m just glad I have my sweetheart. We’ve been together a long time,” said Alvin.

Owners Lose Possessions After Home Near Twentynine Palms Is Mistakenly Foreclosed (via Reddit)

Internet video's robotic, idiotic copyright cops

On Wired, Geeta Dayal looks at the state of automated copyright enforcement video-bots, the mindless systems that shut down the Hugo awards livestream, took down NASA's own footage of the Curiosity landing, and interrupted the video from the DNC. Dayal examines the legal status and necessity for these bots (dubious); their ability to model copyright's full suite, including fair use (nonexistent); and the business reasons for deploying them (cowardly). She also looks at what's at stake when our ability to communicate with one another is suborned to the profit-maximization strategies of giant copyright holders.

“The companies that are selling these automated takedown systems are really going above and beyond the requirements set for them in the DMCA, and as a result are favoring the interests of a handful of legacy media operators over the free-speech interest of the public,” says Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The notice-and-takedown regime created by the DMCA allows copyright holders to send a written notice to an online hosting service when they find their copyright being violated. The online service can then escape legal liability by taking down the content fairly promptly, and the original poster has the opportunity to dispute the notice and have the content reinstated after two weeks.

But that regime breaks down for livestreaming. For one, if a valid copyright dispute notice is filed by a human, it’s unlikely that a livestream site would take it down before the event ends, nor, under the law, is it actually required to. On the flipside, if a stream is taken down, the user who posted it has no immediate recourse, and the viewership disappears.

The Algorithmic Copyright Cops: Streaming Video’s Robotic Overlords

Beer Slogans Quiz!

Twaggies presents another quiz, which on this occasion shall have you under the counter

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Glenn Greenwald replies to CNN's attempt to discredit story about compromised Bahrain coverage

Yesterday, I blogged Glenn Greenwald's Guardian story about CNN suppressing its own award-winning documentary on human rights abuses in Bahrain, which Greenwald linked to CNNi's commercial relationship with the ruling Bahraini regime. I was quickly contacted by two different PR flacks from CNN with a list of small, picky points it disputed about Greenwald's article, presented as though this constituted a thorough rebuttal. I immediately noticed that CNN's reps didn't dispute that the company had threatened to cut off Amber Lyon's severance payment if she continued to speak out on the issue, so I asked about it.

CNN's reps both told me they couldn't comment on "individual employees," which is awfully convenient. How nice for them that they can prepare and circulate a dossier that disconfirms minor elements of its critics' stories, but that it has some nebulous confidentiality code that prevents it from confirming the most damning claims made by those critics. Given that Lyon is no longer a CNN employee, and that she has divulged this threat, this feels more like an excuse than a reason. I certainly hope that CNN's own investigative journalists wouldn't accept such a pat evasion from the PR flacks that contact them.

Glenn Greenwald has published a thorough rebuttal to CNN's memo:

CNNi has nothing to say about the extensive financial dealings it has with the regime in Bahrain (what the article called "the tidal wave of CNNi's partnerships and associations with the regime in Bahrain, and the hagiography it has broadcast about it"). It has nothing to say about the repellent propaganda it produces for regimes which pay it. It has nothing to say about the Bahrain-praising sources whose vested interests with the regime are undisclosed by CNN. It provides no explanation whatsoever for its refusal to broadcast the iRevolution documentary. It does not deny that it threatened Lyon's severance payments and benefits if she spoke critically about CNNi's refusal. And it steadfastly ignores the concerns and complaints raised by its own long-time employees about its conduct.

In sum, CNNi's response does not deny, or even acknowledge, the crux of the reporting, and simply ignores the vast bulk of the facts revealed about its coverage of, and relationship with, the regime in Bahrain. Indeed, one searches its response in vain for any explanation to the central question which New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof asked nine months ago:

Reply to response from CNNi

Shepard Fairey sentenced to probation

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Shepard Fairey was sentenced for two years' probation for tampering with evidence during his copyright battle with the Associated Press. From CNN:

"I accept full responsibility for violating the court's trust by tampering with evidence during my civil case with (The) Associated Press, which, after my admitting to engaging in this conduct, led to this criminal case by the Southern District of New York," Fairey said in a written statement. "I accept the judge's sentence and look forward to finally putting this episode behind me."

Federal prosecutors said Fairey, 42, lied about which AP image of Obama he used as inspiration for the posters, which were stamped with the words "Hope" and "Progress."

"Obama poster artist gets probation for evidence tampering"

US State department employee owes $3.3 million to escaped sex slave

"A Virginia federal judge awarded $3.3 million to a Yemeni woman who was enslaved by a State Department employee and repeatedly raped by that worker's husband." Fortunately for the State Department employee, Linda Howard, she is still employed as an IT manager there, so she will be able to pay the bill off on no time. Here's the complaint.

Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has a few choice words for a Maryland politician

In case you were wondering how some NFL players feel about marriage equality, Chris Kluwe, punter for the Minnesota Vikings, is in support. Vocal support. Very vocal support. He also supports fellow player Brendon Ayanbadejo, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, who recently voiced his own support for marriage equality. Why? Because this November, there is a ballot initiative in the state of Maryland to legalize same-sex marriage, and Ayanbadejo thought his opinion might interest people in the state for whom he plays professional football. Well, one Maryland politician who does not support marriage equality, one Emmett C. Burns Jr., said that an NFL player expressing such an opinion "has no place" in the sport, and that team owners should "inhibit such expressions from [their] employees." Really. A politician -- a defender of the United States Constitution -- told a football team to "inhibit... expressions" by their players -- expressions that are explicitly allowed to be uninhibited by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Kluwe, writing in a guest post on Deadspin, was not pleased with Mr. Burns' request, and he has responded using some delightfully colorful language that may or may not include the word "cockmonster."

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Anthrax's Dan Spitz is now a master watchmaker

Hodinkee's John Reardon has a great profile on and interview with Dan Spitz, former Anthrax guitar hero who quit the music business to become a world-renowned, prize-winning watchmaker who hand-lathes his own replacement parts for antique watch restorations. Reardon quit his gig to spend more time with his family -- he has twin boys who have autism -- and to pursue his lifelong technical passions. He's hand-built his own workbench!

Funny story, actually. I was working as a watchmaker in Geneva and thinking I would never go back to music when Dave Mustaine from Megadeth called me and said “Dude, what are you doing? Stop messing with watches. You need to come back and start writing music again. You are one of the creators of our genre, thrash metal. You need to stop tinkering around with these million dollar toys and get back to music.” This lecture led to the end of my solitary confinement as a watchmaker. I looked down the bench and saw another watchmaker working on a crazy watch but obviously also headbanging. I walked over to him and saw that he was blasting Slayer. He was working on a multiple fly-back, jump hour, chrono, perpetual calendar, moon phase, tourbillon and he’s blasting Slayer! I looked at him and thought, “That’s it, I’m done. I’m going back to music.” In the end, most people in Switzerland are blasting while working on watches, anything from Barbra Streisand to Slayer.

My grandfather was a watchmaker, and I grew up playing with junk movements and parts. It's amazing to hear the story of someone so accomplished -- especially in a second career begun as an adult.

Interview: Meet Dan Spitz, Anthrax Guitarist Turned Master Watchmaker (via Kottke)

Rebel on Rebel: Rebel Wilson interviews a rapper version of herself

Bachelorette star Rebel Wilson did an interview for Bullett with Rebelicious, the British rapper who was hiding inside of her this whole time. I thought you might like to read something like that on a Friday afternoon. Respect. (via Rebel Wilson on Twitter)

Cartoon characters gone bad

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A botched bank robbery. From a men's adventure magazine. (Via X-Ray Delta One)

CC-licensed nerdy feature film breaks Kickstarter record

Ben sez, "Our feature film comedy about roleplaying gamers and collectible card games, The Gamers: Hands of Fate, is just finishing up a very successful campaign on Kickstarter [ed: $384,174 and rising at the time of writing] and we wouldn't be here without Boing Boing. Reading this site taught us how to go directly to the fans, stop worrying about piracy, and embrace a 'dandelion' distribution model. We are now just a few thousand away from becoming the most-funded film on Kickstarter to date, for a movie about gaming that will be released online for free under a Creative Commons license. Thank you for the many years of content and commentary that convinced us to go this direction, rather than getting stuck in Hollywood!" (Thanks, Ben!)

Google celebrates Star Trek's 46th anniversary with an interactive doodle!

Hey, Trekkies: Google has treated us all to a really fun, interactive doodle to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the network premiere of Star Trek! From today until tomorrow -- September 8, the actual air date in 1966 -- you will get to set your cursors to "stun" and maybe mess with a Redshirt (hint: the worried-looking one shaped like an "e") when you visit Google's main page and start clicking your way into a miniature episode featuring characters from the original series. (The hair on the O-Kirk is glorious, I tell you.) has an interview with the doodle's creator (and Trekkie), Ryan Germick. Live long and prosper, Star Trek!

Celebrating 46 Years with a Google Doodle []

Earlimart - “97 Heart Attack” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 36: Earlimart - “97 Heart Attack” (MP3)

Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray make records as Earlimart and also help other artists make theirs. Aaron owns The Ship Recording Studio in LA, which evolved from a group of friends who liked to drink beer and play music to a place where artists from around the globe come to make records.

The studio employs the latest recording technology, but Aaron also likes to toy with old-school techniques.

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Gay war veteran talks to Mitt Romney

[Video Link] First posted in December, I just watched this excellent video of a Vietnam war veteran speaking with Mitt Romney about marriage equality. The vet was undecided about who to vote for before he spoke face-to-face with Romney, and by the end of the conversation he decided Romney's reprehensible homophobia made him unsuitable to be President.

The wet get wetter and the dry get drier

The other day, a reader asked why I call climate change "climate change", instead of "global warming". The short answer is that, from my perspective, climate change does a much better job of giving people an accurate mental picture of what is going on. Global warming sounds like the world is just going to get hotter, and while that's technically true on a global-average-temperature-basis, it doesn't really reflect what's happening locally.

And, frankly, what most people care about is the stuff that happens locally.

Today, Treehugger posted this NOAA video, which does a really good job of explaining one reason why a rising global average temperature can end up creating different climate change outcomes in different places. It's a great 4-minute primer on why "global warming" is more than just warming.

Via Chris Tackett

Tim Berners-Lee blasts UK government's Internet spying plan

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has blasted the UK government's Draft Communications Bill, which will allow bulk, warrantless, unaccountable surveillance of all Internet traffic by government agencies in the UK. TBL rightly points out that this will overturn the whole UK tradition of freedom and privacy. The Open Rights Group has a campaign to kill the bill, and you can help.

“If the UK introduces draconian legislation that allows the Government to block websites or to snoop on people, which decreases privacy, in future indexes they may find themselves farther down the list,” he said.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee accuses government of 'draconian' internet snooping (via /.)

Instructions for legitimate knot enthusiasts

Please observe this chart of knots and then direct all claims of new knots to the New-Knot Claims Assessment Committee, which will assess your knot and let you know whether or not the knot is new.

What is the SPF of your beard?

Have I told you guys lately that you should be reading the Scicurious blog, especially for Weird Science Fridays? Because, seriously, you guys. You guys, seriously.

Today, Scicurious tackles "DOSIMETRIC INVESTIGATION OF THE SOLAR ERYTHEMAL UV RADIATION PROTECTION PROVIDED BY BEARDS AND MOUSTACHES", a paper published in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry. Basically, it's about whether beards protect their owners' skin from sun damage. You need to go to Scicurious' site just to see the photo of the apparatus the researchers built to study this question. Suffice to say, it involves a lot of disembodied heads, in various stages of beardedness, hanging out on what looks like an old-fashioned merry-go-round.

Bearded gentlemen will be pleased to note that the beard is, actually, an effective means of sun protection. At least for the skin it covers.

Read more at Scicurious

Image: beard: the end, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from soundfromwayout's photostream

America's best public bathrooms


Every year, the company Cintas sponsors a contest to find "America's Best Restroom," specifically public bathrooms. This year's finalists like Washington DC's Mie N Yu Restaurant and Minneapolis's Walker Art Center boast posh bathrooms to be sure, but my favorite is the 2007 winner: Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, Ohio. You enter the expansive restrooms by walking through faux porta potties. "America's Best Bathroom" (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

Story of the family business whose gears are inside the Mars rovers

Forest City Gear is a family business that was founded in 1955 in Roscoe, Illinois. The gears they make are now on Mars, inside the Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity rovers. Our City, Our Story tells the Forest City Gear story.

How to build a better speed limit

Sometime in November, Texas will open a stretch of toll road south of Austin where the speed limit will be 85 miles per hour.It will be the highest speed limit in America.Read the rest

Video: graffiti artists create wine labels

French winery Cave Fin Bec brought in eight graffiti artists from around the globe to paint on large wooden canvases made from wine crates. The art was then used for a series of wine labels. The winery commissioned my old friend Chris Courtney of to document the project. myFINBEC

Where airplanes go to die

Unknown Fields (UF) is a design studio, originating in London’s Architectural Association, that "ventures out on annual expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies." Mark Pilkington, author of Mirage Men and publisher of Strange Attractor, has just led this busload of architects, writers, filmmakers and artists in an exploration of the mythic landscape of the American Southwest, and the stories that it has inspired. Their trajectory took them from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque New Mexico to Black Rock City, Nevada, via sites of military, architectural and folkloric significance. Mark sent us occasional postcards from the edge. - David Pescovitz

The Boneyard, Tucson, Arizona

Adjacent to the PIMA Aerospace Museum, outside Tucson Arizona, is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Here at any time, around 4000 planes, valued at an estimated $33 billion, wait to be sliced, shredded and recycled for parts, earning it the name The Boneyard. Visitors tour the site by bus and are greeted by the magnificent sight of a sea of tail fins, eviscerated engines and bisected fuselages stretching from horizon to horizon.

The planes here date from the Vietnam era or newer and many of them represent models still in active service, like the venerable C-130 Hercules transporter, which has seen around 60 years of duty. Most of the planes have seen surgery of some sort, either at the sharp end of the giant guillotine that slices them cleanly into sections, or have had specific components removed, their wounds covered in what look like white plastic bandages.

The lineup of aircraft at the Boneyard is always changing and depends on what’s being broken up on the site. As a fierce lightning storm crackled overhead, the Unknown Fields personnel carrier sailed past numerous aviation legends and curiosities. Highlights included the infamous Lockheed D-21 drone, launched from the top of a modified A-12 / SR-71 Blackbird and capable of flying at Mach 3 at 95,000 feet. The drone proved too powerful for its own good and was shelved after only a handful of missions, one of which proved fatal to the pilots launching it. Also on parade was the DC-10 seen above, modified by Raytheon to be a target for aircraft-mounted laser weapons; the colossal B-52 Stratofortress; several F-14s, being entirely destroyed, apparently so that parts can’t get into the hands of a certain unloved Islamic state; and an F-117 Stealth Fighter in full optical stealth mode and so invisible to the naked eye (yes, USAF humour at play there).

Elsewhere were rigs and jigs for the giant B-2 Stealth Bomber, once the pinnacle of aviation technology. These are left out in case new planes or parts need to be built, but we were told that they’ve been sitting there a long time now, so it may not be long before that mighty beast, or at least part of it, is laid to rest at the Boneyard– and that will be a sight worth traveling a very long way to see.

Roger Ebert's memoir is going to become a movie that might be awkward for him to review

Legendary movie critic Roger Ebert just spilled the Twitter beans that his 2011 memoir, Life Itself, was just optioned to be turned into a documentary by Hoop Dreams director Steve James and Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Moneyball, Gangs of New York, Schindler's List). Martin Scorcese will serve as executive producer. No word yet on whether Mr. Ebert will recuse his thumbs when this movie is released. (via Flavorwire)

Kickstarting a hackerspace in Iraq

Quinn Norton sez, "The Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative runs around the Middle East creating hackerspaces and fostering maker communities in places like Cairo and Beirut -- but its hyperactive lead instigator Bilal Ghalib is taking on his biggest challenge in his native Iraq. They're currently raising money to have a two day hackerspace, and create media (comic book and live stream video of hacker/maker stories) to support and inform people in and out of Baghdad about what hackerspaces are and what they can achieve. GEMSI doesn't just drop in and then leave. In Cairo they helped create relationships, looked for space, and eventually were able to jumpstart a maker community that is taking on its very own Egyptian flavor. Baghdad is an even bigger challenge, but as Bilal points out in the GEMSI Kickstarter video, Baghdad has a long history of being a place of tremendous creativity and invention."

Imagine you are a young Iraqi student, just graduating college. Opportunities to work in the country are few, and working outside Iraq is difficult due to strict visa requirements. Your country still experiences violence weekly, while also facing many technical challenges characteristic of a developing country. You want to build the country, you want to share – but you feel isolated. You hear about a group of people who have an open space near the center of town where you can build almost anything. One day you decide to see what it’s about. There, you find others like you: looking at the world around them and thinking about how they can start creating solutions. They are creating open source medical devices, filling potholes in city roads, creating clean street initiatives, or making alternative energy products to fix the intermittent power issues of Baghdad. These are people taking initiative. They are looking to take ownership of their cities and build the change they want to see – serving their communities on the most direct level. At this open space, you have finally found a home to put your talents and energy to work. You’ve found a group you can trust, they are courageous, curious, and want to help you create a better future. You feel happy, you feel capable, you've found your people.

Quinn adds, "It's a remarkable project, ambitious, but done by people who know what they're getting into." These two points are critical for me, suggesting that the money will go to something that actually happens.

Baghdad Community Hackerspace Workshops

Let's help a new roller derby documentary about lesbian, bisexual, and transgender skaters body slam its goal!

In a related followup to my interview with the filmmakers of the men's roller derby documentary, This Is How I Roll, another derby film is currently trying to raise money for production costs. The Vagine Regime: A Documentary Where Vaginas Collide puts the focus on lesbian, bisexual, and transgender skaters (a subject Kat Vecchio touched on in our interview) and how they've experienced both acceptance and opposition in the very inclusive world of women's roller derby. As of this writing, they are seven days and just under $10,000 away from their $35,000 goal at Kickstarter. They're so close to kicking ass on the big screen -- let's help them out! [Kickstarter]

Los Angeles treat: Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl

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Los Angeles friends: if you haven't been to the annual Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl, you're missing one of LA's greatest treats. Tickets are still available for tonight and tomorrow night's show. We are going Saturday. I'll wear a Boing Boing T-shirt -- if you see me, say hi!

Tchaikovsky and fireworks –- a glorious Hollywood Bowl tradition! This year, in addition to the 1812 Overture with cannons and pyrotechnics, we feature stars from American Ballet Theatre in famous pas de deux from Swan Lake and from their new production of The Nutcracker.

Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl

The closest we will ever come to Morgan Freeman narrating a Fifty Shades of Grey novel

As majestic and worldly as it might be, Morgan Freeman is never going to recite the text of E.L. James' fanfic-turned-housewife titillator Fifty Shades of Grey in front of people. However, some people can pretend to be Morgan Freeman to show us just how dramatically spanktastic this might be. Actor, comedian, and voice artist Josh Robert Thompson does a wicked Freeman impression (on par with Tom Kane, who does a similarly spot-on impersonation for Robot Chicken -- and Morgan Freeman himself), and has done the world a great service by reading an excerpt, as the Great Narrator, from the second book in the series, Fifty Shades Darker. So now Morgan Freeman doesn't have to!

But hey, where do I start the social media campaign to hold a Fake Morgan Freeman Narrate-Off between Thompson and Kane, refereed by Freeman? Can we make this happen?


The chemical playwright

Carl Djerassi, the chemist who first synthesized an effective oral contraceptive, is now an author and playwright. Wired has a really interesting interview with him about his writing work, his scientific legacy, and why he doesn't like to be called The Father of the Pill.

Why technology might not make children stupid, after all

All this newfangled technology is going to make young people stupid.

This is a very old argument, dating back (at least) to 370-ish BC, when Plato wrote the The Phaedrus. Like the better-known Republic, Phaedrus is written as a conversation between the character of Socrates and other people. At one point, Socrates tells a legend of an Egyptian god who invents writing and tries to give the gift of the written word to a wise king. The king is ... less than enthused.

For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

Basically, all these damn books are going to make the kids dumb. This is usually my go-to story that I bring up whenever somebody is fretting too much about how the Internet will totally make kids stupid. But journalist Annie Murphy Paul has found an even better argument against techno-fear. At her blog, she quotes an interview with Jay Giedd, a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health:

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