Boing Boing 

Liquid nitrogen + ping-pong balls = pure awesome

Dr. Roy Lowry demonstrates the awesome power of liquid nitrogen for a group of students at Plymouth University with a riveting demonstration that culminates in making an LN2-based bomb out of a water bottle, placing it in a giant rubber trash-can full of 1500 ping-pong balls, and waiting for the BANG.

Liquid Nitrogen and 1500 Ping Pong Balls Video (via Neatorama)

Confronting a troll in real life

Leo Traynor, a "writer, analyst & political consultant" in Ireland, was hounded off of Twitter by a vicious anti-Semitic troll whose ghastly threats against him and his family were too much to bear. Traynor located his tormentor, though, and got quite a surprise. It's a tale well told, and gave me goosebumps.

Pranksters crash final speech of corporate tax avoidance taxman, posh hilarity ensues

UK fair tax/anti-cuts activists crashed the Key Haven Publications' Practical Tax Planning conference in Oxford, where Dave Hartnett, the outgoing top UK taxation bureaucrat, was giving the final speech of his career. Hartnett was responsible for widely criticized blunders that forgave billions in tax liability owed by Vodaphone and Goldman Sachs. Posing as representatives of Goldman Sachs and Vodaphone, they entered the hall during Hartnett's after-dinner speech to present "The Golden Handshake Award for Lifetime Achievement in Corporate Tax Planning." After a few moments' confusion, the conference organisers twigged to what was going on, and began to say some of the weirdest, most stagey-sound posh=weirdo utterances heard this side of a Mr Burns impersonator's night at a cabaret:

"Everybody, these people are trespassers and intruders. This is a [garbled] to trespass, and you will go sir, you will depart immediately, before we set the dogs on you."

[Protesters leave, singing, "For he's a jolly good fellow, and so say Goldman Sachs"].

"Go! You're trespassing. You're trespassing scum! Go!"

[Exeunt omnes]

All in a posh accent that could cut glass.

Black tie activists crash HMRC boss' retirement do (via MeFi)

Adobe releases open-source coding typeface

Adobe's Paul D. Hunt announces the company's latest open-source typeface. This one's for coders and anyone else who loves legible monospaced figures—and who hates getting confused between l, 1 and I.

To my eye, many existing monospaced font suffer from one of three problems. The first problem that I often notice is that, many monospaced fonts force lowercase letters with a very large x-height into a single width, resulting in overly condensed letter forms which result in words and text with a monotonous rhythm, which quickly becomes tedious for human eyes to process. The second problem is somewhat the opposite of the first: many monospaced fonts have lowercase letters that leave too much space in between letters, causing words and strings to not hold together. Lastly, there is a category of monospaced fonts whose details I find to be too fussy to really work well in coding applications where a programmer doesn’t want to be distracted by such things.

Download the family at SourceForge. Previously.

Pistols made of bones


Bruce Mahalski, an artist in New Zealand, created a set of sculptural "dueling pistols" out of bone. Bidding opens at NZD1500.

Two bone dueling pistols (with spare bullets) mounted in a custom altered case which has been counter-sunk into a specially made rimu table. All of the bones have been found locally by the artist. The head on the bottom gun is from a ferret and the top one is from a black-backed gull. Both have barrels made from cat’s vertebrae. This archival quality work by Wellington artist, Bruce Mahalski (with assistance from local jeweler, Vaune Mason) has not yet been exhibited and this is the first time it is being offered for sale.

Bone Pistol Set #1 Brand new item

Audrey Kawaski Hint Mint tins


Artist Audrey Kawasaki has teamed up with Hint Mint to produce a series of beautiful mint tins with her art on them. I just bought two gift sets.

See more Audrey Kawasaki posts on Boing Boing.

Blast from the past: Boing Boing's Fulchau page


I forgot about my fulchau page until I got an email from a fellow fulchau admirer today. In 2002 there was one Google search result for fulchau. Today there are 768. (I see that fulchau.com has not been registered yet.)

Mystery of the fulchau

Is Diablo III turning virtual economies Into real ones? (Video)


Heath says:

The latest episode of PBS Digital Studios’ weekly Web series, Idea Channel, from producers Kornhaber Brown, questions whether games like Diablo III are creating actual value from their virtual economies.

For years now, people have traded virtual goods in online games like Second Life for real money. A black market has arisen for World of Warcraft and Everquest characters that have amassed incredible weaponry and powers. And now, Diablo III has taken this commerce a step further toward legitimization by creating a Diablo III Auction House – where axes, swords, and other awesome gear have taken on real world value and are traded with real people for real cash right inside the game platform. This all begins to redefine how we think about the value of the activity within these games. Philosophers Geog Hegel and John Locke maintained that when a person joins a certain amount of labor with an object or goods, a certain amount of ownership is transferred. Given the huge amount of time and effort that goes into procuring objects in some of these games, it’s not hard to see a correlation. And while our legal system is scrambling to keep up with these new developments, it’s becoming increasingly more common to see virtual goods transfer via real-world cash.

Is Diablo III turning virtual economies Into real ones?

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Shusei Nagaoka (NSFW '70s sci-fi illustration)

View larger size here. Lovingly scanned and shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by reader v. valenti. Art by Japanese illustrator Shusei Nagaoka, whose sci-fi illustrations were popular during the 1970s and '80s, and graced album covers by ELO, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Deep Purple. There's an awesome little archive of his work here.

Oktoberfest 2012 illustration in Playboy by Christoph Hoppenbrock

Playboy Oktoberfest 2012: Oktoberfest Wimmelbild illustration for Playboy Deutschland by Christoph Hoppenbrock.

Here's a larger size, and more details on the illustrator's blog, including a detailed list of all the celebrities caricatured therein. (shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool)

Study: Republican state voting laws "will disenfranchise 10,000,000 Hispanic US citizens"

Today, a civil rights group called Advancement Project will publish a report on the new voting laws passed in 23 Republican-led states. The report (not named in Patricia Zengerle's Reuters article and not yet up on the Advancement Project site) claims that 10,000,000 Hispanic voters will be disenfranchised by the new laws, which place hurdles between voters and the ballot box, such as presenting certain types of ID. The rubric for these laws has been that "everyone" has the types of ID specified in the statutes, and the common refrain in response to critics is "Who doesn't have a [driver's license|passport|non-driver ID|etc]?" The Advancement Project's point appears to be that these specific 10 million citizens, who are otherwise legally entitled to vote, don't have the necessary papers or can't meet the qualifiers imposed by the state governments.

According to Reuters, national polls show 70 percent or more support for Obama among Hispanic voters.

The new laws include purges of people suspected of not being citizens in 16 states that unfairly target Latinos, the civil rights group Advancement Project said in the study to be formally released on Monday.

Laws in effect in one state and pending in two others require proof of citizenship for voter registration. That imposes onerous and sometimes expensive documentation requirements on voters, especially targeting naturalized American citizens, many of whom are Latino, the liberal group said.

Nine states have passed restrictive photo identification laws that impose costs in time and money for millions of Latinos who are citizens but do not yet have the required identification, it said.

Voting laws may disenfranchise 10 million Hispanic U.S. citizens: study (Thanks, Deborah!)

New fossil analysis shows cannibalism in Britain 15K years ago was "practical and ritualistic"

Scientists analyzing 14,700-year-old remains at Gough's cave in Somerset, England believe that human flesh was not eaten merely out of survival imperative, but as a "practical and ritualistic" behavior. Snip: "The cannibals appear to have filleted the major muscles with stone knives and then chewed off the remaining morsels. Even the ends of toe bones and ribs bones were nibbled, perhaps so that their modest stores of marrow could be sucked." Om nom nom nom! (Scientific American Blog Network, via Vaughan Bell)

Bre Pettis of MakerBot holding a 3D printer in 2010 and 2012


Here's MakerBot's Bre Pettis holding a Cupcake on the cover of Make in 2010 and a Replicator 2 on the cover of Wired in 2012. The more things change… (Photo by Jake Spurlock)

The new MySpace (Video)

Justin Timberlake just unveiled a video that shows off the new MySpace beta.

It appears that they're hoping to build on their popularity with musicians and the UI looks pretty nice. No word yet on when this will be open to the public.

Excerpt from The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning

Here's an exclusive excerpt from Daniel Bor's new book, The Ravenous Brain.

Neuroscientist Daniel Bor has spent the past decade worrying over biology’s most difficult problem -- what consciousness is, why we have it, and what it means for our self perception and our mental health. The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning lays out his groundbreaking research for the first time.

Bor’s story of exploration turns the tables on philosophers ancient and modern alike, who have sought to portray the mind as something above science. Offering a pioneering theory on the compression and structuring of information, Bor explains that our conscious endeavors to succeed are not miraculous, but driven by evolution: human beings are fundamentally highly functioning, staggeringly complex biological computers.

A proposal with practical and far-reaching implications, The Ravenous Brain extends beyond biology, philosophy, or neuroscience, and touches on the fields of medicine, bioethics, and animal rights, as well as personal health and well-being.

Read excerpt from The Ravenous Brain

Exhaust all of DES and crack any MS-CHAPv2-based VPN for a mere $20


Moxie Marlinspike and David Hulton's Divide and Conquer: Cracking MS-CHAPv2 with a 100% success rate presentation from Defcon is now a reality. If you want to crack a MS-CHAPv2 PPTP authentication handshake (like the one I use when I connect to IPREDator, the secure proxy I favor), they'll exhaust all of the DES keyspace for you for a mere $20, usually in less than a day.

Basically, MS-CHAPv2-based VPNs should now be considered insecure and not fit for purpose. Plus Moxie and David can brute force all of DES for $20. Yowza.

A Week Of Discounted Cracking

For this week (9/23/2012), we will be offering deeply discounted MS-CHAPv2 cracking jobs by reducing the price from $200 to $20. This means that any PPTP VPN connection or intercepted MS-CHAPv2 WPA Enterprise wireless credentials can be cracked and decrypted with a 100% success rate for only $20.

The one major caveat is that an influx of additional jobs might increase the pending queue depth and cause MS-CHAPv2 jobs to take slightly longer than ususal, but we'll see how it goes.

Cheaper MS-CHAPv2 Cracking (via Hacker News)

Book about the making of Game of Thrones


[Video Link] Game of Thrones is not only one of best TV shows I've ever seen, it's also the most visually interesting (apart from the opening to Land of the Lost, of course). No wonder the show won six Creative Arts Emmy awards. Inside HBO's Game of Thrones is an excellent book that reveals the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into the making of the sets, costumes, and props of the TV series.

This official companion book gives fans new ways to enter this fictional world and discover more about the beloved (and reviled) characters and the electrifying plotlines. Hundreds of set photos, production and costume designs, storyboards, and insider stories reveal how the show's creators translated George R. R. Martin's best-selling fantasy series into the world of Westeros. Featuring interviews with key actors and crew members that capture the best scripted and unscripted moments from the first two seasons, as well as a preface by George R. R. Martin, this special volume, bound in a lavishly debossed padded cover, offers exclusive access to this unprecedented television series.
How can you go wrong with a lavishly debossed padded cover?

Inside HBO's Game of Thrones

Pinochet 2.0: US economist talks Honduras' military dictator into establishing a private city owned and regulated by offshore corporations

Honduran president Porfirio Lobo came to power in a military coup and presides over the most murderous nation on earth. Now he has announced hastily assembled plans to desginate a region in his country to be a "charter city," owned and operated by offshore corporations, a plan inspired by a Chicago-trained economist called Paul Romer from NYU's business-school. The city will have all its laws -- labor laws, environmental laws, criminal codes, civil codes -- set by a private corporation that is unaccountable to anyone except its shareholders, to whom it will owe a duty of maximum profit. Honduran activists have attempted unsuccessfully to have the nation's supreme court hear their case, which rests on the legality of ceding governance over sovereign territory to foreign powers, and on indigenous land claims.

Critics say it will allow a foreign elite to set up a low-tax, sympathetically regulated enclave where they can skirt labour standards and environmental rules.

"This would violate the rights of every citizen because it means the cession of part of our territory to a city that would have its own police, its own juridical power, and its own tax system," said Sandra Marybel Sanchez, who joined a group of protesters who tried to lodge an appeal at the supreme court.

Ismael Moreno, a correspondent for the leftwing Nicaraguan magazine Envio, compared the charter cities to the banana enclaves, which were run on behalf of a foreign elite. He also spelled out the environmental risks, particularly if one of the development sites is the Sico valley, an area of virgin forest on the Mosquito Coast.

"This model city would end up eliminating the last agricultural frontier left to us," he wrote.

Chicago's economists have a grand tradition of helping military dictators establish unregulated zones where human rights take a backseat to profit, including their enormous contributions to Augusto Pinochet's murderous regime, which established the fundamental kinship between high profits and death squads.

Honduras to build new city with its own laws and tax system to attract investors [The Guardian]

'Catastrophe': Critics Slam Neoliberal Plan for Privatized Cities in Honduras [CommonDreams]

(via MeFi)

America's top snack brand

Surprisingly, the "best perceived" US snack brand is Ritz. Lay's is number two, followed by Doritos. For potato chips, I prefer Pringles because of their perfect uniformity and can, but they barely made the top 10, landing just above Triscuit, which I also love, preferably with Munster. "Snacks Rankings" (YouGov Brand Index via Dave Pell's NextDraft)

How to ruin something

I was watching this fantastic intro to one of my favorite tv shows of all time, Land of the Lost, when I saw this 1991 remake linked in the related content. This seems like a How-Not-To guide for remakes.

The new lyrics have the same simple honesty of "Marshall, Will and Holly, on a routine expedtion..." but lack the magic.

This world is strange and new

see the triple moons,

but don't you turn your back or

you'll become a snack

Cuz some Tyrannosaurus

could be hungry for us

Study: many young cancer survivors don't get followup care due to costs

A new study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, shows that many survivors of adolescent and young adult cancers don't get the routine medical care they need after basic treatment because it's too expensive—even though most of them have health insurance. Translation: in America, even when you have insurance, cancer is financially devastating. So much so that young survivors (= teens through thirties) tend to not get the followup care they need to continue surviving. (thanks, @zooko)

Internet Voter Registration Day: pledge to vote, and get your friends to pledge, and scare the piss out of SOPA-loving DC insiders

Tiffiniy from the SOPA-killing activist group Fight for the Future sez,

Remember when we worked together and beat back internet censorship and SOPA, and changed the world earlier this year? 2012 is a historic year for our basic rights on the web - the year the internet came alive and fought for free speech and freedom. Sites like Boing Boing depend on an open and free web, and so doesn't much of what you love and do on the web.

Unfortunately, Congress still only cares about the opinions of likely voters. If everyone who cares about internet freedom stays at home this election, Congress will bring back SOPA. That's why we've been working on a campaign to turn out a massive number of internet users at the polls, and we're asking people to join us tomorrow for Internet Voter Registration Day, right before a bunch of state deadlines, by pledging that you'll vote, and register if you need to: internetvotes.org.

Washington insiders thought SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA were all 'certain to pass.' How did the internet win against those bills? Because people stood up to protect free speech and the transformative power of the internet in their lives.

Let's dramatically increase the number of people egging each other on to vote, which has shown to get people to the polls. The first thing we're asking people to do is to get our friends to pledge and register to vote starting Tuesday, National Voter Registration Day (right before a bunch of state deadlines with time to send in your forms). Then we'll work together to mobilize millions of internet users to get to the polls. People can use our tools to see which of their friends are voting and registered, mobilize their audiences into voting blocks for their cause, site, or group, get important voting information, and make sure their friends go vote.

Promise to vote for the internet in 2012 (Thanks, Tiffiniy!)

The new poster for Les Misérables looks familiar

I'll include just a tease here, but Universal has released a new poster for its epic-looking Les Misérables -- and it's a new take on an old image. Head to the movie's official site for the full look (or The Hollywood Reporter for a smaller version), and compare it to the classic poster for the Broadway show. Rather than try to sell us on the movie's huge stars, Universal went with selling the musical and chose Isabelle Allen, who plays the young Cosette (Amanda Seyfried's character), to step into the classic pose. I think that's pretty classy, don't you? (via The Hollywood Reporter)

Realistic finger soap


LoveLeeSoaps sells many different kinds of soaps on Esty, including a "Creepy Finger Soap Set" for $5. (Via $5 Finds)

Iranian cleric beaten and hospitalized by “badly covered” woman

In the northern province of Semnan, cleric Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti spotted a woman in the street who was not sufficiently covered to his liking. When he ordered her to cover herself up, she beat him to a pulp.

“I fell on my back on the floor,” Beheshti said. “I don’t know what happened after that, all I could feel was the kicks of this woman who was insulting me and attacking me.” Since the 1979 revolution that brought Shiite Muslim religious leaders to power, women in Iran have been required to cover their hair and body curves in public with head-scarves and loose-fitting coats, to protect religious values and “preserve society’s morals and security.”
Gruesome photo here

New Zealand's spies illegally bugged Kim Dotcom, complicity may go all the way to the prime minister's office

New Zealand's foreign intelligence spy body, the Government Communications Security Bureau spied on Kim Dotcom at the behest of the US government, despite the fact that they are legally prohibited from conducting domestic surveillance. The NZ prime minister has ordered an inquiry, stating that the GCSB acted "unlawfully" in spying on Dotcom and his associates. Opposition leaders point out that only the PM's office could have authorized the spying, and suggest that the PM is saving face by ordering the inquiry now that the facts have come to light. More from TorrentFreak's enimgax:

Key says that he learned of the unlawful activity after speaking with the head of the GCSB last Monday and then took action to refer the issue to the Inspector-General, Hon Paul Neazor, who has the power to investigate matters related to the GCSB’s compliance with the law.

“I expect our intelligence agencies to operate always within the law. Their operations depend on public trust,” Key said.

“I look forward to the Inspector-General’s inquiry getting to the heart of what took place and what can be done about it. Because this is also a matter for the High Court in its consideration of the Megaupload litigation, I am unable to comment further,” Key added.

While the GCSB acting illegally is clearly an embarrassment for the government, Prime Minister Key now has some serious explaining to do. GCSB is a department that is responsible directly to him, a point not lost on Labour leader David Shearer.

“This is a shocking breach of New Zealand’s very strict laws restricting the ability of our spy agencies to snoop on people,” Shearer said in a statement this morning.

Government Spies Illegally Bugged Kim Dotcom, Prime Minister Admits

My night with the International Space Orchestra: Jasmina Tesanovic


The International Space Orchestra in front of Vacuum Chambers, NASA Ames Research Center. Photo: Neil Berrett.

I never dreamed I would be in a NASA base in California, singing and playing music.

The Ground Control Opera performance by Nelly Ben Hayoun, presented the International Space Orchestra, 50 local technicians and scientists, playing in the city of San Jose at the Zero1 Biennial 2012. The opera reenacts the first minutes of Neil Armstrong's landing on the Moon. It's dedicated to the memory of the recently gone cosmonauts and astronauts, and the endeavors of scientists at ground-control stations, still trying to make our 20th century dreams of spaceflight come true.

My daughter asked me when she mis-heard that I was singing for "NASA": Mom why are you singing to "NATO?" NATO bombed us in Serbia in 1999! I said my dear this is NASA, not NATO, they have planes and rockets but not bombers and missiles! They are searching for habitable planets with the Kepler space probe! Maybe there are other space controllers somewhere out there!

Read the rest

Trailer for The Rise and Fall of the Clash


[Video Link] This looks like a sad documentary about my favorite band, The Clash.

The Rise and Fall of the Clash features previously unseen footage of the band at work and at play, interviews with the individual band members and with those who knew them well, and traces the downward trajectory of a band who were at one point "the biggest band in the world." This is not a film that pulls any punches, but neither does it overlook the life-changing effect that The Clash brought to so many. Over 90 minutes it paints the fascinating inside story of rival, treachery and betrayal, and the internal band dynamics and managerial interference that ultimately led The Clash to self-destruct.

If you are in Minneapolis, you can view a screening of The Rise and Fall of the Clash at the Ritz Theater on October 6.

(Thanks, David!)

Saturday Night Live recap: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mumford & Sons

The last time Joseph Gordon-Levitt hosted Saturday Night Live, he turned out to be a great host -- genuinely funny, happy to be there, ready to do anything that was thrown at him, and then doing it well. And he even did a Donald O'Connor-style song and dance number in his monologue. This time, he was a bit wasted in mediocre sketches, but at least they weren't bad. The enthusiastic host with the clear comedic talent just could have been put to better use. Far from a bad show, but I like to see a bit more from such a cool guest.

Mumford & Sons was the musical guest, and they sounded great. But I'll abstain from reviewing their sets, since I'm writing about a comedy show and not a concert. They did, however, show up in one sketch, and that is always fun.

Read the rest

Ada Lovelace day coming up: party in London, fundraiser to sustain the project

Suw Charman sez,

Ada Lovelace Day - the international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering & maths on October 16 - will see people around the world writing or talking about the women who have inspired them. This is our fourth year, and we have planned a fantastic Ada Lovelace Day Live! event in London, with independent events being organised in around the world, including UK, Italy and America so far. We’re also running a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help us expand our work.

An evening of science, technology, comedy and song, Ada Lovelace Day Live! features accelerator physicist Dr Suzie Sheehy, marine biologist Dr Helen Scales, comedians Helen Keen & Helen Arney, robot maker and thereminist Sarah Angliss, Sydney Padua creator of the Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage webcomic, technology and TV presenter Gia Milinovich, and science communicator Dr Alice Bell. The Women's Engineering Society will also be presenting the prestigious Karen Burt Memorial Award to a newly chartered woman engineer.

Tuesday 16 October 6:30pm
The IET, Savoy Place, London, England
Tickets: £10/info

Since its inception, Ada Lovelace Day has been run entirely by volunteers and by partnering with organisations like the Women's Engineering Society, Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, London Games Festival and BCS Women. We have managed a huge amount through the kindness and generosity of our volunteers and partners, but there is more we could do.

We now want to create a formal charitable organisation to support women in STEM, not just on one day of the year, but all year round. Some of our goals include creating educational materials about iconic women, providing media training, and building a directory of expert speakers. The fundraiser uses the 'keep what you earn' model so all money, except reward costs and fees, donated will go towards helping women in STEM.

Ada Lovelace Day (Thanks, Suw!)