Boing Boing 

Hustler's MBA: a "modern curriculum" for four years of self-directed learning

"The Hustler's MBA" is a modest proposal for a four-year alternative to university for recent high-school grads. Its proponent and originator, Tynan, suggests that four years spent learning to play poker, travelling, reading books for pleasure, writing daily, learning to program, socializing, eating well, chasing your curiosity, and starting a business is a "modern curriculum" that will provide you with useful skills, an inflation-proof income source, and "produce people better prepared for real life than college."

Apart from playing poker and eating well, that more or less describes the four years I spent after high-school (once I'd dropped out of several universities, that is), and it did serve me very well indeed.

2. Travel a lot. For the first year, learn a foreign language that interests you. Start with three months of Pimsleur tapes, then get a local tutor. That should cost about $1000 for the first year, and will yield results FAR greater than a class in school. After the first year your self-education will be paid for by poker, so start traveling for three months every year. That should cost around $8k at the most, probably more like $5-6k. When traveling, education comes to you in the form of perspective. You understand other cultures and other people, and will get to practice your foreign language in its native setting. I would also combine travel with watching documentaries about the history of that place. I learned a lot about Rome after visiting, and now I'm kicking myself for not educating myself first.

3. Read every single day for at least an hour. Books get lumped in with other reading like magazines and blogs, but they're actually far more valuable. The amount of value an author compresses into a book is often astounding. There are books I've paid $10 for that have completely changed my life. If you read for 1-2 hours on average, you'll read around a hundred books per year. I do this now and find it to be one of the most valuable uses of my time. Read at least 50% non-fiction, but fiction is good, too. In school you would probably read 12 books a year at most.

The Hustler's MBA

Second sleep: a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night

I just had dinner with my friend Emily Hurson, a talented actor, singer and all-round hoopy frood. When I asked her about her longtime struggle with insomnia, she mentioned that her life was much better since she embraced second sleep, a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night. According to its proponents, this sleep pattern is the one that humans naturally fall into when they don't have electric lighting, and was common until a few hundred years ago. I've been reading up on it this morning and I'm intrigued. Emily sez, "I've embraced that not getting 8 hours of sleep in a row is okay. When I wake up in the night, sometimes for a few hours, I don't get frustrated or worried about a lack of sleep." Have any of you tried it? Discuss it in the comments.

See also: The myth of the 8-hour sleep

Gweek 069: Ned Vizzini, author of The Other Normals and writer for Last Resort

Click here to play this episode. Gweek is Boing Boing's podcast about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

My guest this week is Ned Vizzini, an award winning author and television writer with a new young adult novel called The Other Normals. He’s written for the New York Times, Salon, and the L Magazine. In television, he has written for Season 2 of MTV's Teen Wolf and currently writes for ABC's Last Resort. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the forthcoming fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. (The drawing above is from Ned's Flickr account. It was drawn by his wife, Sabra Embury, and is in the set "Art from and Inspired by 'The Other Normals.'" Ned says: "This is a fish-monster (or batrachian) in the book drawn by my wife. In the book they actually have legs. My wife says, 'That was my attempt to help you visualize one of the characters.'")


In this episode, we talked about:

The Other Normals, by Ned Vizzini. "It's about a 15-year-old role-playing game geek who goes to summer camp and falls into an actual fantasy world and has to put all his gaming knowledge to the test against monsters."

Be More Chill, by Ned Vizzini. "It's about a kid who gets a pill in his brain that tells him how to be cool all the time."

Stranger Magic: Charmed States & The Arabian Nights, "a new nonfiction overview of the 1,001 Nights. I took a lot from 1,001 Nights in writing The Other Normals. I love the John Payne translation which Sir Richard Burton is alleged to have plagiarized -- one of those cases where the flashier author who was better at self-promoting got the credit."

Last Resort "It's about a nuclear submarine captain who gets questionable orders to fire Pakistan. When the captain asks to have those orders clarified he is fired upon. He has to take his nuclear submarine to a South Pacific island and take refuge there and set himself up as the world's smallest nuclear nation."

"One of the books we have in the 'Last Resort library': The 48 Laws of Power. Really scary must-read for anyone who wants to get ahead -- or understand sociopaths. (Last Resort is a political thriller, so it helps)."

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms

"I got Johnny Ramone's Commando on Kindle (released this year) and I think it's an interesting example of a book that some claim MUST BE enjoyed as a hardcover which is actually just fine on digital."

Slash, by Slash

And much more!

Past episodes of Gweek: 001, 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019, 020, 021, 022, 023, 024, 025, 026, 027, 028, 029, 030, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 036, 037, 038, 039, 040, 041, 042, 043, 044, 045, 046, 047, 048, 049, 050, 051, 052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059, 060, 061, 062, 063, 064, 065, 066, 067, 068, 069

People from 0 to 100 years in 150 seconds (video)

Kanaal van Filmersblog says:

In October 2011 I started documenting people in the city of Amsterdam, approaching them in the street and asking them to say their age in front of the camera. My aim was to 'collect' a group of 100 people, from age 0 to 100. At first my collection grew fast but slowed down when it got down to the very young and very old. The young because of sensivity around filming or photographing children and the very old because they don't get out of the house much. I found my very old 'models' in care homes and it was a privilege to document these -often vulnerable- people for this project. I had particular problems finding a 99 year-old. (Apparently 100 year-olds enjoy notoriety, but a 99 year-old is a rare species...) And when I finally did find one, she refused to state her age. She simply denied being 99 years old! But finally, some 4 months after I recorded my first 'age', I was able to capture the 'missing link' and conclude this project.
"Life is long if you know how to use it." -- Seneca.

'100' (from 0 to 100 years in 150 seconds)

PSY foam-art

Redditor DivineBaboon posted an unattributed photo of an espresso drink with a beautiful PSY (of Gangnam Style fame) portrait in the foam.

My friend ordered a cappuccino and this is what he got.. (

The Pax Vaporizer: 'fropheads rejoice!

[Video Link] Have you ever wondered what J.R. "Bob" Dobbs smokes in his pipe? It's the dried flower petals of the Habafropzipulops plant! (Street parlance: 'frop.) 'Frop is not a drug, and as little as 100 microdobbs is needed to achieve desired results.

From SubGenius pamphlet #2:

Like to smoke a little of what's in "BOB's" Pipe? Membership in the Church as an ordained SubGenius Minister makes you eligible to be on the waiting list for VAST SHIPMENTS of the LEGAL IMMORTALITY HERB, HABAFROPZIPULOPS (or "FROP" for short) -- the mind-inverting flower which grows only by moonlight on the graves and droppings of dead Tibetan holymen and fullblood Yetis. 'FROP is not only safer than your cheap Conspiracy street drugs -- it's PERMANENT, TOO. No more "coming down!" No matter how much 'Frop you ingest, YOU CAN NEVER AGAIN GET LESS HIGH. Interested?

And Everything2 describes 'frop thusly:

Habafropzipulops is not merely safe, but beneficial -- nay, even necessary -- to bodily health. We encourage our children to partake of it copiously, to their little heart's abundant desires.

As a legally ordained SubGenius Minister, I consider it my duty to enjoy Habafropzipulops around the clock. (I even set my alarm to awaken me in the middle of the night so I don't cheat myself out of a dose.)

But I have difficulty enjoying my sacrament in peace, because my apartment complex is filthy with pinks and glorps who have the loach's phone number on speed-dial so they can have me busted at the fist whiff of 'frop. (Even though the Supreme Court declared the use of sacramental 'frop to be well within the bounds of the religious freedoms provided by the Constitution, 'frop users are still harassed by hired thugs of the treasonous cage dwellers and assouls who inexplicably control the planet.)

But I have found a way to enjoy 'frop without alerting the sniffing simians next door. It's a bit of alien technology called the Ploom Pax. Although it was designed for tobacco (Ayn Rand's third favorite mind-altering drug of abuse) I found it to be ideal for vaporizing the 23 pharmacologically-active compounds found in 'frop. Sleek and free of greebling, the Pax looks like it might have been designed by Jonny Ives. An internal lithium battery heats the 'frop to a temperature high enough to release the active ingredients but not enough to cause the 'frop to combust. So there's no smoke and much less telltale odor.

To turn the device on, you merely pull out the retractable mouthpiece. An LED indicator light makes it easy for even the most spaced-out 'frophead to figure out the heating status and battery status of the unit. When the battery loses its charge, you simply drop the unit on the included charger.

Eventually the pink boys will catch on to the Pax and try it out with weed, but I have no idea if it works with Conspiracy street drugs. I'm sticking with 'frop.

Ploom Pax

Dirty translation of the Iliad, 1797

Nat sez, "Homer's Iliad set to bawdy verse. The Preface sings true, even today:"

Good people, would you know the reason
I write at this unlucky season,
When all the nation is so poor
That few can keep above one whore,
Except the lawyers -- (whose large fees
Maintain as many as they please) --

"The translation itself is just as fiery:"

Ready to burst with vengeful ire,
That made his bloodshot eyes strike fire,
Atrides, with a vengeful scowl,
Replies, The devil fetch your soul!
I've a great mind, you lousy wizard,
To lay my fist across your mazzard.
Son of an ugly squinting bitch,
Pray who the pox made you a witch?
I don't believe, you mongrel dog,
You ken a handsaw from a hog;
Nor know, although you dare thus flounce,
How many f---s will make an ounce;

A Burlesque Translation of Homer (1797) (Thanks, Nat!)

Rolling Stone interviews Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez at the same time

Who is this handsome bunch? Just four of the greatest living cartoonists on Earth: Jaime Hernandez, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, and Gilbert Hernandez. They were interviewed simultaneously by Sean T. Collins in Rolling Stone. (Photo by Meredith Rizzo)

Gilbert: It's funny: When Ghost World came out and Dan was nominated for the Oscar, I could just picture someone like Gwyneth Paltrow saying, "Dan Clowes' comic book . . . "

Clowes: And she did!

Gilbert: It was the most bizarre prediction ever. I just picked her out of a hat – I bet you somebody like that's gonna say it.

Clowes: I was sure she was gonna pronounce my name wrong, but they must have coached her. I thought that would be the perfect thing, to have the cute girl in class pronounce your name wrong when you're in the Science Fair.

Ware: A defining moment.

Gilbert: And this is probably the first time she ever mentioned a comic book in her life, and a few years later she's in Iron Man.

Ware: And Scarlett Johansson went on from Ghost World to do another comic book movie.

Clowes: I have to say she had such disdain for comics. [Laughter] They were the lowest.

Ware: I find it amazing that the stuff that I got made fun of and jumped in the hallway for reading, and spat upon -- literally, some guy spit in the coat pocket of my jacket -- is now mainstream culture.

Clowes: I saw an attractive teenage couple on the subway saying "Should we see Thor?" When I was a teenager, if I'd said, "Hey, wanna come over to my mom's house and read my original Kirby issues of Thor?" I'd have been peppersprayed.

Q&A: Comix Stars Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez

FORM1: a new, $2300 high-resolution 3D resin printer on Kickstarter

FORM1 is a new 3D printer that's taking pre-orders via Kickstarter. It was invented by MIT Media Lab students and brought to product stage through private investment, including some investment from friends of mine whose judgment I trust, like Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Software. I've met with some of the founders a few times, and handled the printer's output, and they really do produce of the most amazing 3D printed objects I've ever seen, in a wide variety of low-cost consumable materials. The starting price to get your own is $2300.

The results are amazing: the Form 1 can print layers as thin as 25 microns (0.001 in) with features as small as 300 microns (0.012 in) in a build volume of 125 x 125 x 165 mm (4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 in). This means you can print complex geometries with the exquisite details and beautiful surface finish that will make your creations stand out...

A key advantage of the Form software is the ability to precisely generate thin, breakable support structures that serve their purpose during printing but are easily removed afterward. Test users have delightfully compared this part removal to a feeling almost like separating Velcro. You can finally print those designs with crazy overhangs!

FORM 1: An affordable, professional 3D printer

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong: YA webcomic "full of teenagers building homemade robots in their basement"

Comics awesomecreator Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling, Friends With Boys) is serializing a new comic online called "Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong," adapted from a Prudence Shen YA novel. When the serialization is done, the whole thing will be published between covers by the marvellous FirstSecond books. FirstSecond's Gina Gagliano describes it as "full of teenagers building homemade robots in their basement." Sounds like my kind of thing!

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (Thanks, Gina!)

The Plot Against Occupy

A worthy piece of reporting over at Rolling Stone, on "how the government turned five stoner misfits into the world's most hapless terrorist cell," in the spirit of COINTELPRO. Snip: "Nothing was destined to blow up that night, as it turns out, because the entire plot was actually an elaborate federal sting operation. The case against the Cleveland Five, in fact, exposes not just a deeply misguided element of the Occupy movement, but also a shadowy side of the federal government." A former FBI counterterrorism agent now with the ACLU describes the government's actions as "manufacturing threatening events."

Rainbow over the Andes (photo)

Boing Boing reader Ben Leshchinsky shares this wonderful photo in the Boing Boing Flickr pool and says, "About 10 km from the ancient city of Machu Picchu, we had the good fortune of seeing a magnificent rainbow over the Rio Urubamba in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Moments like this evoke remarkable feelings of introspection and wonder."

Zombie lawn-gnomes feast on a pink flamingo

Chris and Jane's Place on Etsy will sell you this delightful tableau for your front yard, in which zombie gnomes are depicted feasting on a felled and mutilated pink flamingo. $55 cheap.

This is a sorry sight indeed. A poor helpless Lawn Flamingo has been taken down by zombie gnomes: Nose-less Ned, Greedy Gary, and Bartolomeu.It seems like an unlikely kill until Bartolomeu broke the elegant beasts leg and brought it crashing to the ground. Where they pounced upon their helpless victim and began their feast. So we say "Bye Bye Birdie, I'm going to miss you so, Bye Bye Birdie, Why'd you have to go?"

All of these Gnomes are hand painted and hand casted. We make our gnomes out of a very sturdy mix of hydrostone and cement, and use all purpose outdoor weather sealer to protect your paint. We have been getting so many orders so please give us 7-8 weeks for us to mail them out to you.

Zombie Gnomes: Bye Bye Birdie (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Kawaii Catastrophe: Japanese insurance brochure depicts adorable disasters that can befall your home

Author Matt Alt, who lives in Tokyo, writes:

Kawaii. The aesthetic of Japanese cute. You love it or hate it, but you can't escape it, as Hiroko and I learned when renewing the insurance on our house. Japan being Japan, the pamphlet that explains the different levels of coverage features helpful super deformed illustrations of the catastrophes that can befall homeowners. We aren't insuring our house through Playskool. One of Japan's biggest banks gave this to us.

Check out the rest of the illustrations.

Jet pack 'Rocketeer' hopes to fly from SoCal coast to Catalina Island, set world record | 89.3 KPCC

LA radio station KPCC reports that "Newport Beach adventurer Dean O'Malley will try to set a world record this weekend when he flies from Newport to Catalina Island using a new type of jet pack, powered by water." Yesterday, some very surprised beachgoers and a few tourist watched as O'Malley gave a demonstration. He revved up his jet pack and flew over Newport Harbor, landing off Bayside Beach, then wading back to shore to discuss his plan to fly 26 miles to Catalina Island using a "JetLev." More: Newport Beach jet pack 'Rocketeer' hopes to fly to Catalina, set world record (image: Ben Bergman/89.3 KPCC).

Steve Jobs, Romantic

At O'Reilly Radar, Doug Hill with a worthy read on the late Apple CEO: "I’d like to talk here about a spirit that Jobs carried within himself. It’s a spirit he relied on for inspiration, although he seemed at times to have lost track of its whisper. In any event, what it says can tell us a lot about our relationship to machines. I refer to the spirit of Romanticism. I spent much of this past summer reading about the Romantics — the original Romantics, that is, of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries — and it’s remarkable how closely their most cherished beliefs correspond to principles that Jobs considered crucial to his success at Apple."

The Shuttle Shokunin, and Kennedy Space Center's 50th anniversary

Discovery launch. Source: NASA.

This past weekend, I accompanied Miles O'Brien to the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Space Center. In attendance were present and past KSC directors, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, astronauts and space heroes of all eras—from Thomas Stafford to Cady Coleman—and many of the so-called "pad rats" who built spacecraft from the Apollo era through the Shuttle era. Miles delivered an amazing speech dedicated to those pad rats.

If you're familiar with traditional Japanese craftsmanship culture or you've seen the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you'll know why he calls them "The Shuttle Shokunin."

Read the rest

Insane Clown Posse suing FBI over its classification of Juggalos as a gang

In October 2011, the FBI added Juggalos (followers of Insane Clown Posse) to its National Gang Threat Assessment (PDF).

From the report:

The Juggalos, a loosely-organized hybrid gang, are rapidly expanding into many US communities. Although recognized as a gang in only four states, many Juggalos subsets exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence. Law enforcement officials in at least 21 states have identified criminal Juggalo sub-sets, according to NGiC reporting.

NGiC reporting indicates that Juggalo gangs are expanding in New Mexico primarily because they are attracted to the tribal and cultural traditions of the Native Americans residing nearby.

Today, The A.V. Club reports that the Insane Clown Posse is "suing the FBI over the organization’s classification of Juggalos as a gang."

On Tuesday, the band’s lawyers filed suit against the FBI in U.S. District Court in Michigan “for failure to produce any documentary evidence in support of the FBI’s classification of the group’s fan base.” ... To date, thousands of Juggalos have filled out the questionnaire on Juggalos Fight Back, a website set up by ICP for fans to report “negative consequences” they’ve experienced at the hands of “law enforcement, border patrol, airline security, or other local, state, or federal governmental agency or employee.”

Insane Clown Posse is actually going forward with suing the FBI

American Juggalo from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

UC Davis students reach $1 million settlement with UC Davis over pepper-spray incident

Photo: Brian Nguyen/The Aggie

From the ACLU of Northern California, this just in:

Attorneys for 21 UC Davis students and recent alumni have just announced the details of a million-dollar settlement in the federal class-action lawsuit filed against UC Davis over the widely-reported incident in which campus police "repeatedly doused seated, non-violent student demonstrators with military grade pepper spray at close range."

That act violated state and federal constitutional protections, including the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to the lawsuit.

"The UC Regents approved the settlement in a September 13 meeting, and the settlement documents were filed with the court today. A federal court judge must approve the settlement before it is finalized."

Details, from the ACLU announcement:

Read the rest

Penguin suing author Elizabeth Wurtzel, Ana Marie Cox for failure to deliver books

Smoking Gun reports that Penguin is "suing a host of well-known authors, claiming that they failed to deliver books for which they received hefty contractual advances. The list of authors includes Prozac Nation author Elizabeth Wurtzel and former Wonkette editor Ana Marie Cox."

Man dresses as car seat in attempt to move to Spain without the usual red tape

This fellow dressed up as a car seat in an unsuccessful attempt to relocate from Guinea to Spain. From the Telegraph: "Police only realized there was a third man inside the Moroccan-plated Renault 7 when they started examining the seat -- and touched flesh instead of foam."

Illegal immigrant tries to get into Spain disguised as car seat

Great Graphic Novels: Gods' Man, by Lynd Ward

GreatgraphicnovelsLast month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) -- Mark

My first experience of what I would call a graphic novel was this strange hardcover book I found when I was a kid on a sleepover. I couldn't sleep because I was allergic to the cats that kept climbing on top of me in the bed, so I went into the living room and started looking at their books. And I found a volume like nothing I had ever seen: an old, hardcover book with no words. It was the 1929 edition of a "novel in woodcuts" called Gods' Man, by Lynd Ward.

At first I thought it was a collection of pictures, until I began at the beginning and realized it was meant to be a story. I don't remember the plot so very well -- something about an artist fighting against internal, external, and metaphysical obstacles. But it impacted me in the epic way some other visual work of the early 1900's hit me, such as Metropolis or the big Napoleon movie. Or even some sort of Kurt Weill opera. Or Ibsen's Peer Gynt.

It's a hundred or so prints in thick black and white, and I didn't consider it a comic at the time -- just some strange artifact of an art form that no one else pursued. And only now does the graphic novel world seem developed enough to experiment with wordless, operatic narratives like this.

God's Man, by Lynd Ward

Weird cyberpunk game has pounding electronic soundtrack

Electronic musician Tettix's latest is Cool Pizza, the soundtrack to a bizarre and brutally difficult iOS game by the same name, which renders Space Harrier-style gameplay in pink spot color and halftone patterns. "This is different from most of my stuff," writes T. "It's fast and furious cyperpunk and all the titles are demonic pizza toppings."

Librarians, teachers: sign up to get free copies of my forthcoming YA novel Pirate Cinema

As many of you will know, I'm about to kick off the tour for a new YA science fiction novel, Pirate Cinema, which comes out next week. As with all my other novels, I'll be putting up Creative Commons-licensed editions of the book for your downloading pleasure.

Now, whenever I do this, many readers write to me and ask if they can send me a tip or a donation to thank me for sharing the book with them. This isn't a great way for me to earn money, as it cuts my (awesome, DRM-free, kick-ass) publisher out of the loop. I've come up with a much better solution: I publish the names of librarians, teachers, and other affiliated people who would like to receive hardcopies of my books, and then point generous donors to that list, so that they can send copies there. I pay an assistant, Ogla Nunes, who keeps track of who's received their donations, crossing their names off the list when their requests are fulfilled. We've collectively donated thousands of books to schools, libraries and similar institutions. As one reader said, this is like paying your debts forward, with instant gratification. What a fine thing indeed.

Here's where you come in. If you're a librarian, teacher, or similar person and you would like a free copy or free copies of Pirate Cinema sent to you by one of my readers, please send Olga an email at with your institutional details and your name so that we can populate the list and have it ready for release day, so that the generous impulses this generates in my readers can be converted to instantaneous action.

We just did this for Rapture of the Nerds, my novel for adults, co-written with Charles Stross, which was published earlier this month, and got an amazing response, both from would-be donation recipients and donors. But with your help, we can leave that signal success in the dust with Pirate Cinema.

Here's a plot-summary to whet your appetite. I hope I'll see you on the tour!

Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.

Trent’s too clever for that to happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke.

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds….

Read the prologue from Pirate Cinema

Cyclists are safe and courteous, and your disdain for them is grounded in cognitive bias

Jim Saska is a jerky cyclist, something he cheerfully cops to (he also admits that he's a dick when he's driving a car or walking, and explains the overall pattern with a reference to his New Jersey provenance). But he's also in possession of some compelling statistics that suggest that cyclists are, on average, less aggressive and safer than they were in previous years, that the vast majority of cyclists are very safe and cautious, and that drivers who view cycling as synonymous with unsafe behavior have fallen prey to a cognitive bias that isn't supported by empirical research.

The fact is, unlike me, most bicyclists are courteous, safe, law-abiding citizens who are quite willing and able to share the road. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia studied rider habits on some of Philly’s busier streets, using some rough metrics to measure the assholishness of bikers: counting the number of times they rode on sidewalks or went the wrong way on one-way streets. The citywide averages in 2010 were 13 percent for sidewalks and 1 percent for one-way streets at 12 locations where cyclists were observed, decreasing from 24 percent and 3 percent in 2006. There is no reason to believe that Philly has particularly respectful bicyclists—we’re not a city known for respectfulness, and our disdain for traffic laws is nationally renowned. Perhaps the simplest answer is also the right one: Cyclists are getting less aggressive.

A recent study by researchers at Rutgers and Virginia Tech supports that hypothesis. Data from nine major North American cities showed that, despite the total number of bike trips tripling between 1977 and 2009, fatalities per 10 million bike trips fell by 65 percent. While a number of factors contribute to lower accident rates, including increased helmet usage and more bike lanes, less aggressive bicyclists probably helped, too...

...[Y]our estimate of the number of asshole cyclists and the degree of their assholery is skewed by what behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman call the affect heuristic, which is a fancy way of saying that people make judgments by consulting their emotions instead of logic.

The affect heuristic explains how our minds take a difficult question (one that would require rigorous logic to answer) and substitutes it for an easier one. When our emotions get involved, we jump to pre-existing conclusions instead of exerting the mental effort to think of a bespoke answer. The affect heuristic helps explain why birthers still exist even though Obama released his birth certificate—it’s a powerful, negative emotional issue about which lots of people have already made up their minds. When it comes to cyclists, once some clown on two wheels almost kills himself with your car, you furiously decide that bicyclists are assholes, and that conclusion will be hard to shake regardless of countervailing facts, stats, or arguments.

Why You Hate Cyclists (via Skepchick)

(Image: Cyclists Sign, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kecko's photostream)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: A Totally Implausible Satire, featuring Lucky Ducky

Tom the Dancing Bug: Come on! Hollingsworth Hound giving a speech to Fat Cats, denouncing Lucky Ducky and his 47% buddies as entitled moochers? It's beyond satire!Read the rest

Felony charge over stick figure threat

A woman scheduled to be released from prison will remain incarcerated, say authorities in Idaho, because she mailed a threatening stick figure drawing to a relative. [WaPo]

Finger found inside trout traced to owner

A human finger found in a trout was identified as one lost months ago in a wakeboarding accident: "Detectives were able to get a fingerprint off the severed digit. They matched it to a fingerprint card for Haans Galassi, 31, of Colbert, Wash., and called him Tuesday morning." [AP]

64,000 drug-bust samples in Mass. were processed by a dirty lab tech who tampered with them, altered weight, faked positive tests for illegal substances

Michael F sez, "There's a Massachusetts state crime lab scandal that hasn't yet received too much national attention (outside of the state)--and I thought it was worth sharing. It's been alleged that a single chemist (with forged education credentials) may be responsible for tampering with drug evidence that could have affected the outcome of up to 40,000 cases over the past 10 years. Based on the local coverage and on conversations with friends who are affiliated with the state lab (in an unrelated department), there's a good chance that an unprecedented number of drug convictions will be contested and overturned in the near future. "

From a Phillip Smith story on

State Police have notified prosecutors that some 64,000 drug samples involving the cases may be tainted because of alleged misconduct by former analyst Annie Dookhan in conducting tests on substances submitted to her by them.

Dookhan worked at the Hinton crime lab in Jamaica Plain from 2003 until she resigned in June. According to the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which was briefed on the scandal by the Deval Patrick administration last week, the meeting revealed why State Police are now questioning the reliability of the drug evidence Dookhan worked on.

"The lab analyst in question had unsupervised access to the drug safe and evidence room, and tampered with evidence bags, altered the actual weight of the drugs, did not calibrate machines correctly, and altered samples so that they would test as drugs when they were not," the association wrote in a letter to its members.

And of course, everyone knew about this long before the scandal broke. The dirty tech could process three times as many samples as her colleagues, so it was obvious something was going on. And of course, the Department of Public Health downplayed it, saying that the bad stuff was confined to 90 samples processed on one day. And of course, thousands of people went to jail because no one wanted to own up to this.

Mass. Crime Lab Scandal Threatens 34,000 Drug Cases []

Crime Lab Scandal Rocks Massachusetts [NPR]

(Thanks, Michael!)

Movie poster for Jodorowsky's Dune

Kilian Eng created this poster for an upcoming documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky's legendary project to film Dune, "possibly the greatest Sci-Fi film that never was."

Poster for the upcoming documentary [via Super Punch]