Boing Boing 

Guns that are also other weapons


On the Propadeucist, "objects that are guns - and are also other weapons," including a gun that is also several other guns.

objects that are guns - 2 - and are also other weapons (via Richard Kadrey)

Leaked video from Romney fundraiser: Half of US voters expect free “health care, food, housing, you name it” (updated)

Mother Jones has published a "secret" video captured during a private fundraiser for Mitt Romney, in which the Republican presidential candidate tells a small gathering of wealthy voters what he thinks of Americans who support Obama.

The tl;dr: rich guy who gets millions in tax breaks calls half of America parasites.

"[The] 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."

About 47% of the country, Romney continued, "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Read the rest

Privilege denying dude

I have encountered his type on the internet before. (via Theremina)

Amid nationalist rage in China, Japanese tech firms suspend operations

Panasonic, Canon, and other Japanese technology firms have suspended operations at their plants in China, as massive anti-Japan protests continue over disputed islands in the East China Sea. (AFP)

Lecture on sf writing with Joe Haldeman

Tony Smith from StarShipSofa sez,

Over the coming months StarShipSofa will present a series of online web lectures by some of the top SF writers out there. These lectures will be called How To Write Science Fiction with...

Among the writers lined up for future lectures are Kim Stanley Robinson, Spider Robinson, Paolo Bacigalupi and many others. The first writer to take to the mic is the author of the classic SF novel The Forever War - Joe Haldeman. You can listen to Joe on the 11th November - all from the comfort of your computer. Don't be mistaken: this isn't your parents' "how to" lecture! Instead, this is a front row seat, as one of the most celebrated minds in the science fiction literary community talks about his journey in the genre. Be there as Joe shares the kind of personal advice and anecdotes you can't find in a writers' guide. Learn how the publishing industry has (and hasn't) changed, and what first led Joe Haldeman to a lifelong relationship with science fiction. You won't want to miss a minute of this intimate and insightful event.

How To Write Science Fiction with... Joe Haldeman (Thanks, Tony!)

Pakistan blocks YouTube over "Innocence of Muslims"

The government of Pakistan blocked access to YouTube today, after Google refused to remove the craptacular trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" linked to violent protests around the the Muslim world. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered the ban to prevent further violence, according to the Pakistani paper Dawn, and YouTube responded with a statement acknowledging restricted access to the content in various countries, "given the very sensitive situations."

As space shuttle Endeavour retires in LA, 400 trees to be removed, four times as many to be planted

To make room for the space shuttle Endeavour as it is transported from Los Angeles International Airport to The California Science Center, some 400 trees must be removed from the city streets. The shuttle is just too damn wide. An agreement was today reached between the Science Center and South LA neighborhood groups to plant four times as many trees as will be removed. (photo and articles: Los Angeles Times.)

One Year of Occupy. One Year of Journalist Arrests.

Josh Stearns has been tracking "press suppression and journalist arrests," which became a regular occurrence since the start of Occupy Wall Street on September 17, 2011. "As press, protesters and police converge in New York City for the one year anniversary, we'll be tracking press suppression here." Sadly, the list has been updated today on the one-year #OWS anniversary with quite a few familiar names: bloggers, artists, journalists. (Storify)

On Occupy's first anniversary, over 180 arrested in NYC

The AP reports that protesters circulated around lower Manhattan this morning, one year after the "Occupy" movement kicked off. "There were a few hundred protesters scattered throughout the city. More than 180 of them were arrested by early Monday evening, mostly on disorderly conduct charges."

Glaucus atlanticus: For once, the Internet is not lying to you

This is actually a real life animal.

I know. I didn't believe it either. When it turned up in my Facebook feed, via my Aunt Beth, I assumed that this had to be a hoax photo. Had to be. I mean, just look at it. This animal looks like it should appear in pretty photos forwarded to you by your aunt that later turn out to be the result of a photoshopping contest on Something Awful, right?

But then it was on Wikipedia, too. And I thought, "Okay, it's still the Internet. Somebody is clearly just getting really elaborate in their trolling."

And I suppose that's true. If by "somebody", what I mean to say is "natural selection".

This is the Glaucus atlanticus. It is a type of nudibranch—shell-less mollusks known for their extravagant shapes and colors. It is venomous. And I am now almost completely convinced that it's not a joke.

Read the rest

Terrorists suck

"The Terrorism Delusion," a paper by John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart in this summer's issue of International Security, argues that terrorists basically suck at their jobs. They report that the best US intelligence puts the whole al Qaeda weapons of mass destruction R&D budget at US$4,000; that Americans who are "radicalized" and brought to terrorism training camps return disgusted and disillusioned and determined to put future recruits off (and then get arrested anyway); that Iraqis were so alienated from loony al Qaeda fighters that bin Laden proposed renaming the group; and that terrorists who are busted are basically dolts, fools, bumblers and delusional loonies.

But, as Mueller and Stewart write, the counter-terror forced continue to present terrorism as a grave risk brought about by super-criminal masterminds who threaten the safety of all of us, every day.

Terrorists have proven to be relentless, patient, opportunistic, and flexible, learning from experience and modifying tactics and targets to exploit perceived vulnerabilities and avoid observed strengths.”8

This description may apply to some terrorists somewhere, including at least a few of those involved in the September 11 attacks. Yet, it scarcely describes the vast majority of those individuals picked up on terrorism charges in the United States since those attacks. The inability of the DHS to consider this fact even parenthetically in its fleeting discussion is not only amazing but perhaps delusional in its single-minded preoccupation with the extreme.

In sharp contrast, the authors of the case studies, with remarkably few exceptions, describe their subjects with such words as incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, inadequate, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational, and foolish.9 And in nearly all of the cases where an operative from the police or from the Federal Bureau of Investigation was at work (almost half of the total), the most appropriate descriptor would be “gullible.”

In all, as Shikha Dalmia has put it, would-be terrorists need to be “radical- ized enough to die for their cause; Westernized enough to move around with- out raising red flags; ingenious enough to exploit loopholes in the security apparatus; meticulous enough to attend to the myriad logistical details that could torpedo the operation; self-sufficient enough to make all the preparations without enlisting outsiders who might give them away; disciplined enough to maintain complete secrecy; and—above all—psychologically tough enough to keep functioning at a high level without cracking in the face of their own impending death.”

The Terrorism Delusion (PDF) (Thanks, Nicolas!)

Parody iPhone 5 promo


[Video Link] And it's all true! (Via Dooby Brain)

Newsweek is America’s #1 magazine for trolls

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Uproxx has a gallery of 15 melodramatic Newsweek covers.

As we told you earlier, if you read Newsweek — and Allah help you if you do — then you already know that we, as Simple Americans, should prepare to FEEL THE RAGE OF ANGRY MUSLIMS WHO ARE ANGRY AT ALL TIMES. Because, obviously, every Muslim ever is hella pissed right now, as Gawker so helpfully pointed out.

Point is: Newsweek is America’s #1 magazine for trolls … here’s some of their finest work through years.

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Here Are 15 Hilariously Alarmist Newsweek Covers

How to build "The Most Useless Machine"

NewImageA couple of years ago I was on The Colbert Report showing some fun projects from MAKE, and Stephen fell in love with a project called "The Most Useless Machine." (Watch the episode here.) The Most Useless Machine is a box that shuts itself off when you turn it on. (After the show Stephen hinted that he wanted to keep it, so I gave it to him and he was really happy.)

Make:Projects just posted complete instructions for making your own Most Useless Machine. It's the simplest version yet, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who tries it.


NewImageLast year I saw a video of the "Leave Me Alone Box" built by Michael Seedman. Flip its switch on, and an arm reaches out of a door to turn the switch back off. To paraphrase The Terminator, that's what it does, that's all it does, and it will not stop until its circuit is dead.

I had to have one of my own, so I made one. Seedman's design uses a microcontroller to run two servomotors: one to open the lid, and another to push the switch. This makes for an impressive performance, but seemed too complicated, and actually, his circuit remains powered even when the box is idle.

For existential purity, I wanted a super-simple machine that really turned itself off. So I came up with a single-motor design controlled by a 555 timer chip, with a curved arm that both lifts the lid and flips off the switch. I called it the "Most Useless Machine" and posted it on Instructables along with a YouTube video of the box in action. The project soon went viral, attracting millions of viewers, thousands of comments, and many builds and design variations. Whew!

Along the way, Instructables member Compukidmike came up with an even simpler version that dispenses with the 555 circuitry entirely by using a gearmotor and two switches. The resulting project, presented here, is the ultimate in technology for its own sake, a minimal assemblage of parts that, through its one meaningless act of defiance, speaks volumes.

How to Build the Most Useless Machine

You can buy a kit for $30

Interview with Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker about free speech

[Video Link] Ted Balaker produced this video interview with Harvard experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, author of such books as The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature and, most recently, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

Pinker tackles everything from the fallacy of the blank slate to the psychology of indecent proposals and why he's catching flack for arguing that violence is decreasing.

In one particularly interesting bit he makes the case for defending the rights of dissenters as a way to help avoid "collective delusions," such as Hilter's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union or the European witch hunts which tortured to death 150,000 woman who were suspected of causing ships to sink and crops to fail by casting spells.

Here's Pinker:

"You look at them retrospectively and you wonder, 'How could everyone have been so mad?' On top of being evil these ideas seem patently ludicrous. How can you have a collective delusion overtaking an entire society? And it looks like one of the answers is that if dissenters are punished and can anticipate they're going to be punished, then you might have a situation where no one actually believes something, but everyone else believes that everyone else believes it. Therefore no one is willing to be the little boy that says the emperor is naked. And this 'pluralistic ignorance' as it's sometimes called is easily implemented when you have the punishing or censoring of unpopular views."

US crackdown on medical marijuana threatens a dad's search to halt son's epilepsy

In the Los Angeles Times, a really great feature about how the Obama administration's assault on medical marijuana dispensaries threatens one father's search for cannabidiol, which has helped reduce the severity and frequency of his 6-year-old son's seizures from Dravet syndrome.

Zippo tricks, like a boss

Dawnoh's 2009 Zippo Tricks video has garnered over 2,000,000 views. She's quite a virtuoso and I love her super-cool, like-a-boss affect -- but be sure and watch to the end for her blooper reel. Doing lighter tricks the the only thing I miss about being a smoker, though truth be told I'd already had all my Zippos stolen from me by the TSA by the time I quit.

ZIPPO tricks (via Making Light)

JetBlue planning free in-flight Wi-Fi rollout in early 2013

The Verge reports that US-based airline JetBlue will "roll out high-speed wireless networking in the first quarter of 2013," and that the service will be free for passengers. Instead of GoGo, "which Jetblue derides as slow and unsatisfactory," the airline will use supplier ViaSat.

Police chief in MA: “Illicit drug use is a form of domestic terrorism”

“Illicit drug use is a form of domestic terrorism to some extent,” Wilmington, Massachusetts Police Chief Michael Begonis said today. “It is preying on folks who are more susceptible and who need a better life. And it’s something that we need to deal with head on.” Like hell, writes Mike Riggs at Reason.com. (via @radleybalko)

RIP, Ping

During last week's iPhone 5 unveil, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the company's social network foray would be mothballed on September 30. That gives you, like, 2 weeks to figure out what the hell Ping is. Cook signaled this was coming earlier this year at the All Things Digital 2012 event: “We tried Ping, and I think the customer voted and said ‘This isn’t something that I want to put a lot of energy into.’”

L'shana Tova!

I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year! I have a hard time with the entire 2:22 seconds of this, but it is awfully cute.

Appeals court says Feds can't detain without trial. White House begs them to reconsider.

David Kravets at Wired News writes on today's demand by the Obama administration that a federal appeals court immediately halt a ruling that blocks legislation authorizing the government to "indefinitely detain without trial individuals, including U.S. citizens, who are deemed to 'substantially support' groups 'engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.'” The administration maintains the lower court’s ruling is a “dangerous” threat to national security, but the court found the rule so vague it could apply to U.S. citizens and journalists exercising constitutional rights. (PDF)

Artist Molly Crabapple among those arrested in Occupy one-year-anniversary events

Earlier today, artist Molly Crabapple was one of a number of people arrested at events marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. By various estimates, more than a hundred people have been arrested there today. Crabapple tweeted from the police van. Over the past year, she has produced a wide array of work related to #OWS, including portraits, street-art templates, and illustrations for coverage in The Nation and other publications.

Read the rest

What are Jay-Z's 99 problems?

Last December, Brandon Scott Gorrell compiled a notional list of Jay-Z's storied 99 problems. It seems pretty plausible to me:

52. Confusion regarding how frequent one should use Q-tips to remove earwax, due to information he read that stated, more or less, that Q-tips were damaging because earwax had specific, important functions to ear health and bodily orientation and that the removal of earwax simply stimulated the production of more earwax, rendering Q-tip usage asinine.

53. PayPal terms of service and customer service equally horrible and difficult to understand.

54. Still unable to defeat final boss on Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3.

55. Quickly disintegrating upkeep of dental hygiene due to feelings of meaningless and apathy.

56. Navel lint.

57. Confusion regarding the moist towelettes vs. dry toilet paper debates via recently hearing moist towelettes were for some reason bad.

58. Trouble discerning which types of socks are in fashion.

A Speculative List Of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems (via JWZ)

Scotty Albrecht's typography wood art/prints in N.J. gallery



Designer/woodworker/hand-drawn typographer Scotty Albrecht has several lovely new pieces hanging in a group show at Parlor Gallery in Asbury, New Jersey. We have two of Scotty's pieces in our home, including the wood heart/hands seen here, and they're truly beautiful and inspiring in person. The show, titled "We Find Our Way," runs until October 15 and you can view it online as well. "We Find Our Way"

Light up arcade coin-slot belt-buckle


Etsy seller ifindustries has already sold out of this light-up arcade game coin-slot belt buckle, which is good, because otherwise I might have accidentally bought it and worn it for the rest of my life.

Ohshit. They're made to order.

Recycled Video Arcade Twenty-Five Cent Coin-Drop Belt Buckle... that lights up

Averaging Noah Kalina's 12 years of daily photos

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You've likely seen Noah Kalina's updated daily self-portrait video, now including more than twelve years of photos. If you haven't, it's below. The image above is Than Tibbetts' averages of each year. "Average Noah Kalina"

David Byrne on silence

Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne's new book, "How Music Works," is a combination personal artistic memoir and cultural/scientific exploration of music -- what it is, how it's made, and what it means. (Cory's review of the book is here.) Smithsonian has posted a fascinating excerpt from "How Music Works" that includes a riff on the beauty of silence (photo by Bart Nagel):
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In 1969, Unesco passed a resolution outlining a human right that doesn’t get talked about much—the right to silence. I think they’re referring to what happens if a noisy factory gets built beside your house, or a shooting range, or if a disco opens downstairs. They don’t mean you can demand that a restaurant turn off the classic rock tunes it’s playing, or that you can muzzle the guy next to you on the train yelling into his cellphone. It’s a nice thought though—despite our innate dread of absolute silence, we should have the right to take an occasional aural break, to experience, however briefly, a moment or two of sonic fresh air. To have a meditative moment, a head-clearing space, is a nice idea for a human right.

John Cage wrote a book called, somewhat ironically, Silence. Ironic because he was increasingly becoming notorious for noise and chaos in his compositions. He once claimed that silence doesn’t exist for us. In a quest to experience it, he went into an anechoic chamber, a room isolated from all outside sounds, with walls designed to inhibit the reflection of sounds. A dead space, acoustically. After a few moments he heard a thumping and whooshing, and was informed those sounds were his own heartbeat and the sound of his blood rushing through his veins and arteries. They were louder than he might have expected, but okay. After a while, he heard another sound, a high whine, and was informed that this was his nervous system. He realized then that for human beings there was no such thing as true silence, and this anecdote became a way of explaining that he decided that rather than fighting to shut out the sounds of the world, to compartmentalize music as something outside of the noisy, uncontrollable world of sounds, he’d let them in: “Let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for manmade theories or expressions of human sentiments.” Conceptually at least, the entire world now became music.

"How Do Our Brains Process Music?" (Smithsonian)

How Music Works (Amazon)

Major exhibition of Nam June Paik, "father of video art," opens at Smithsonian in December 2012

The Smithsonian American Art Museum just announced a major exhibition of Nam June Paik, set to open December 13, 2012. “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” will offer an "unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method" through key artworks and material drawn from the Nam June Paik Archive, acquired by the Smithsonian from the artist’s estate in 2009. Well worth a trip to DC, and required viewing for any of you who count yourself among the present generation of YouTube uploaders, Vimeo auteurs, and TwitVid self-surveillance sharers. This man's legacy is part of why video is a common medium for fine art and personal expression today. Snip:

Korean-born Paik (1932-2006), known as the “father of video art,” almost single-handedly transformed video into an artist’s medium through his sculptures, installations, videotapes and television projects. Paik is recognized worldwide for his innovative, media-based artwork that is grounded in the practices of avant-garde music and performance art. His art and ideas embodied a radical new vision for an art form that he knew would be embraced around the world and that would change visual culture.

PDF of the press release is here.

Image via Wikipedia (shot by Lim Young-kyun in 1983).

NYT on tailor-Made "bioartificial" organs for regenerative medicine

A feature in the New York Times this weekend about the rapidly-evolving science of growing, then implanting “bioartificial” organs in the field of regenerative medicine, "which for decades has been promising a future of ready-made replacement organs — livers, kidneys, even hearts — built in the laboratory."