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Bees make blue honey by harvesting waste from M&Ms manufacturing

Beekeepers in Ribeauville, France discovered blue honey in their hives. When they investigated further, they discovered that their bees were harvesting M&Ms manufacturing waste from a biogas plant that processes the industrial runoff from a Mars chocolate factory. The blue honey will not be offered for sale. From the BBC:

The plant operator said it regretted the situation and had put in place a procedure to stop it happening again.

"We discovered the problem at the same time [the beekeepers] did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it," Philippe Meinrad, a spokesman from Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The company, which deals with waste from a Mars chocolate factory, said it would clean out the containers, store all incoming waste in airtight containers and process it promptly, according to a company statement published in Le Monde newspaper.

French beekeepers in Ribeauville abuzz over blue honey (via IO9)

(Image: M&Ms, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from gcourbis's photostream)

Talk sophisticated with PronunciationManual

The PronunciationManual YouTube account consists of short clips of clearly enunciated borrowed words and proper nouns that are often uttered by English speakers, including some tricky single malt Scotch whiskey names. These pronunciations are sure to impress your friends with your nous (pronounced "nooo-see") and sophistication.

PronunciationManual's YouTube channel (via Kottke)

Ladyada's geeky coloring book for makers of all ages

Phil Torrone sez,

Ladyada's "E is for Electronics" is a coloring book adventure with electronic components and their inventors.

Makers of all ages can learn, color, and share common parts and historical figures throughout history. Explore the world of electronics with Ladyada as your guide!

This is the first ever open-source electronics coloring book! Adafruit's coloring books are manufactured in the USA by a family owned and operated business, we use non-toxic soy based, water soluble and environmentally friendly printing supplies. The equipment used is solar powered! Crayons not included.

Ladyada’s "E is for Electronics" (Thanks, Phil!)

Pirate Flix: Video remix contest

On the NYC leg of my Pirate Cinema tour, I'll be stopping at Brooklyn's wonderful indie bookstore WORD. The WORD folks have cooked up a remix video competition for the event, inviting you to make short remix videos, 1-3 minutes long. I'll be judging the finalists, and the winner will be screened at my reading and signing on Oct 15. Submissions need to be in by Oct 12, so get cracking!

Why is the sky dark at night?

So, the sky looks blue because of the particular gases in our atmosphere reflect and scatter the blue wavelengths of light from the Sun. Fair enough. But that leads directly to a second question that, I'm ashamed to say, I never really thought to ask — why doesn't the light from all the stars in the Universe reflect and scatter off our atmosphere, producing a blue sky, all the time?

This Minute Physics video provides a great explanation, which is grounded in both the timey-wimeyness of astrophysics and the limitations of our own human biology.

Via BrainPickings

Gay Boy Scout denied his Eagle Scout award

Back in the Summer, I told you about a movement among Eagle Scouts, some of whom have been sending back their awards — in effect, resigning — in protest of The Boys Scouts of America's discriminatory policy banning gay, bi, and trans scouts and troop leaders, as well as atheists.

Here's a great example of the people those men are trying to stick up for: Ryan Andresen is 17, he's been in Boy Scouts for over a decade and has completed all the Eagle Scout requirements, including working with younger kids on a tolerance/anti-bullying project for his community service requirement.

But Andresen isn't going to get to be an Eagle Scout, because he's openly gay.

The Boy Scouts of America sent a statement to several news organizations, including ABC, in which they say they didn't inquire about Ryan's sexual orientation.

"This scout proactively notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout counselor that he does not agree to scouting's principle of 'Duty to God' and does not meet scouting's membership standard on sexual orientation," Deron Smith, a spokesman for the organization said in a statement. "Agreeing to do one's 'Duty to God' is a part of the scout Oath and Law and a requirement of achieving the Eagle Scout rank."

In an interview with Yahoo! News Ryan said that his scoutmaster knew he was gay.

"He had been telling me all along that we'd get by the gay thing," Ryan told Yahoo News. "It was by far the biggest goal of my life. It's totally devastating."

Read more at National Public Radio's news blog

Check out a Tumblr collecting nearly 200 Eagle Scout resignation letters from adults who no longer want to be associated with an organization that would deny a kid something he's worked hard to achieve simply because that kid is gay. (Again, the BSA is entitled to its opinion on this matter. But its members are also entitled to express their disgust with that opinion.)

Back Yard Air Bubble, 1961

Only $50! Scanned and uploaded to X-Ray Delta One's photostream, and shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. View larger sizes here.

Mark your calendar now for December 2013 comet-viewing party

Provided that the world does not end in December of 2012, you might have the opportunity to view a particularly impressive comet around Christmastime in 2013. The poetically named C/2012 S1 (ISON) will pass at a-safe-yet-great-for-viewing distance from Earth, after first passing close to the Sun — a combination that promises to produce a beautiful tail and fabulous comet-spotting opportunities, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.

Physicist dance bombs Stephen Hawking

So, on The Ellen DeGeneres Show they have a thing called a "Dance Dare". The basic idea: Sneak up around somebody when they aren't looking and boogie down, just outside their peripheral vision. If you're caught, stop dancing. Play casual. Wander away.

Which brings us to this video.

Krister Shalm is a postdoc in the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is also a swing dancer.

A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Hawking visited the University of Waterloo and Krister took the opportunity to do a Dance Dare on the esteemed physicist. The other Ellen Dance Dares are sort of club dance-y in nature, but Krister opted for a little jazz jig more fitting his personal skill set.

Kickstarting a free/open adult education book

Dan sez, "Most adult education teachers are subject-matter experts but have no experience teaching. This book, 'How to Teach Adults,' contains everything you need to start, well, teaching adults: How to find a job, plan your class, teach your students and change the world. It's short and eminently practical. The Kickstarter campaign for it ends early morning October 10th, and the book will be FREE (and DRM-free!) to download by January 2013. The author (me) has 10+ years teaching experience and has co-written and distributed free 'Know Your Rights' comic books for youth of color and South Asian immigrants. If you never want to sit through another boring lecture, support this book and download it next January!"

"How to Teach Adults": A Free, Beautiful E-Book (Thanks, Dan!)

Astrophysics student with lymphoma makes epic trek

Andy Lyon, an astrophysics student at UC Berkeley, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2008. He went through chemotherapy, and returned to school, but his cancer returned. He did a stem cell transplant, but remission only lasted a few months. Faced with a now more limited range of options, he chose to forgo medical treatment and instead try and hike the entire 2,600 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. His cancer returned in the form of a tumor on his spinal cord. He is off the trail and back in treatment. It may be hard for people without cancer to get why he'd make the decisions he did, but I get it. And I hope he's back on the trail soon. UPDATE: Oh hey, he's back on the trail. (thanks, Kit Mitchell)

Mitt Romney agrees with you

Use the RoboRomney service to fill in your positions on issues from abortion to the economy to gun-control, and the system will mine a database of real Romney quotes to produce a position paper in which the candidate agrees with everything you say.

Artisanal mayonnaise is giving me a post-modern headache

"These… mayonnaise people. Have I assumed their pretension too harshly? Did I falsely detect a sense of irony so thick they don’t even know when they’re kidding anymore? Why do I assume they aren’t earnest in their love of mayonnaise? They look like nice people." Amber Frost at Dangerous Minds. [I get it, but I'd also like to try some. Maybe they should Put a Bird on It.]

Happy 50th, Mr. Bond! Here is the fancy new song that Adele sang for you

The fancy new James Bond theme, "Skyfall," sung by Adele is out, and it's pretty sweet! You can buy it at iTunes and consume it in video form on the singer's YouTube page. Adele has experienced some moderate success this year with both her career and her life, and singing the new Bond theme was a good way of acknowledging she cannot pull off the "melodiously heartbroken" thing anymore. (via Adele on YouTube)

Useless Machines in a political struggle

[Video Link] I feel cheated because this Useless Machine video runs out after only 11 minutes and five seconds.

Buy a Useless Machine kit from The Frivolous Engineering Company Inc

How to steal the Space Shuttle

Jason Torchinsky of Jalopnik wrote a detailed scenario on how to steal the Space Shuttle in Los Angeles.

Yesterday morning I was at the California Science Center's press conference outlining their plan to drag a massive spaceship across Los Angeles. It was one of those times where logistics can make even the most outlandish plans seem boring, as they went over schedules and road closures and the like. While they were describing the locations where Endeavour would be stopped for viewing or technical reasons, I realized that this was the most exposed this priceless spaceship will ever be. Which, of course, got me thinking. Could someone steal the Space Shuttle?

The LAPD officers in charge of the security portion of the massive moving project were there, but it was pretty clear their responsibilities had to do with keeping people and the city safe, not protecting the Shuttle from theft. I asked both officers if they thought, given Bond supervillian-levels of resources, it would be possible for someone to steal the shuttle.

They made two mistakes in their answers. First mistake was that the first cop told me it was "impossible." The second mistake was that the other policeman told me "I won't say impossible." Now it sounds like a challenge.

How To Steal The Space Shuttle: A Step-By-Step Guide

Ticket to hell (and back)

Apparently, this remarkable little coupon was offered up at auction, once upon a time.

This is a souvenir of a visit to a Coney Island Bowery amusement called Darkness and Dawn. It was a Cyclorama, and had been created for an exposition in Omaha, Nebraska in 1898. It was brought to the Coney Island Bowery at the turn of the century. The souvenir is card stock, in the shape of a coffin, and has a skull and crossbones illustration at top. It also has a quote from "The Devil." The same image and text is printed on both sides (shown). The attraction on the Bowery was destroyed by fire in 1903, and was rebuilt for Luna Park several years later.

Anonymous Works: "Darkness and Dawn" (via Morbid Anatomy)

Let the casting speculation for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy begin with Michael Rooker

Ever since Marvel announced that one of its next film ventures was The Guardians of the Galaxy, not much discussion has taken place about who might join the cast. But now, Michael Rooker (who is returning to The Walking Dead next season) is throwing his hat in the ring -- to play Rocket Raccoon! A friend of Guardians director James Gunn, Rooker might just be interested in providing his perfect, grisly voice for the (most likely) CG-animated character. Why? He told MovieWeb:

I love raccoons. Raccoons are my friends!

But really:

I would be very honored and pleased to work with James Gunn again... Whether it will happen or not, I don’t know... Write this up. Tweet the fuck out of it. If the fans want me as Rocket Raccoon, Marvel will listen to you guys, I think, sometimes... Perhaps I will be lucky and blessed enough to go in there, and go at it with Mr. Gunn again, who knows?

Okay! So, he's more eager to work with Gunn than he is to be Rocket Raccoon (he says he hasn't "done much research on it at all yet"). But he's totally committed to taking the Betty White-social media route, and that makes him one thing for sure: an efficient campaigner.

Photo credit: AMC

Which Legendary Character Actor Has the Crazy Eyes and Wants To Be This Pint-Sized Bad@ss, Rocket Raccoon? [Pajiba]

Friday Freak-Out: The "Swiss Beatles" - Les Sauterelles - "Dream Machine" (1969)

[Video Link] Friday Freak-Out: Where is a Swiss Beatles when we need them now? Bedazzled presents a 1960s group called Les Sauterelles.
Cavern Club: "Way back in the early ’60s, when everybody was listening to the Mersey sound, there was an unknown group called Les Sauterelles that was introducing rock and roll to a rather conservative Swiss audience. As this music became more and more established, so did the interest in the “Swiss Beatles.”
The “Swiss Beatles” - Les Sauterelles - "Dream Machine"

Internet governance and cyber-security conference in Toronto

Robin Gross from IP Justice sez, "Public interest groups involved in ICANN will gather for the event, 'ICANN & Internet Governance: Security & Freedom in a Connected World' on Friday 12 October at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada. Sponsored by the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), the voice of civil society in ICANN, the policy conference will focus on key ICANN policy issues like the need to promote both cyber-security and human rights in the development of global Internet policies. The event kicks-off with a morning address from cyber-security expert Ron Deibert, Director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and The Citizen Lab, an inter-disciplinary research and development hothouse at the University of Toronto. Deibert will address the need to establish a cyber-security strategy for global civil society."

NCUC's policy conference will discuss the promotion of cyber-security and human rights on the Internet, multi-stakeholderism and the role of governments, and key policy issues surrounding new top-level domains such as freedom of expression and intellectual property rights. The conference subtitle "Security & Freedom in a Connected World" recognizes society's shared twin goals of security and freedom, and questions to what extent must society sacrifice one for the other.

Cyber-security expert Ron Deibert from The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto will address the conference in the morning and ICANN's new CEO Fadi Chehade will deliver welcoming remarks to the group right after lunch. Other confirmed speakers include governmental representatives, members of ICANN's board of directors and senior staff, civil society and Internet business leaders.

NCUC Policy Conference: ICANN & Internet Governance: Security & Freedom in a Connected World

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of Daily Show, launches Lady Parts Justice

[Video Link] Look, it’s time to stop being polite and start asking, “What the fuck do you think you are trying to pull here?”

It is time to ask, “Why the fuck are men and women who are inexcusably incompetent continually being elected into statehouses, governorships and THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS? And how the fuck is it that this asshole serves on THE SCIENCE COMMITTEE of The House of Representatives?!


Women are not faking rape and they don’t have magical powers to deactivate rape sperm. We are not pregnant before we are pregnant, we can’t have an abortion if we are not pregnant, and I think we can all agree, women shouldn’t be forced to carry stillborn babies.

Abortions don’t cause mental instability and the HPV vaccine doesn’t make girls mentally retarded. No woman’s boss should be able to demand information from her to decide if her reason for wanting birth control is moral enough to grant permission.

OH Yeah, and Planned Parenthood isn’t turning Girl Scouts into Commulezzies

And Double OH YEAH-

No state should ever have the right to shove a probe in a woman’s vagina against her will because the government has elected shitwits who think women are such irrational idiots that the government knows best about what is right for them, their bodies and their futures.

So why am I scribbling all these ridonculous implausible scenarios?

Because these are either actual laws, proposed laws, or reasons used by politicians who have been elected to public office.

Read the rest

Entire, working mobile phone with SIM free in this week's Entertainment Weekly

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly sports a live-tweeting interactive video display. The folks from Mashable did a teardown to see how this was accomplished, and discovered that there is a complete (albeit without a case or keypad) Foxconn Android phone glued between the pages, along with a T-Mobile SIM. By poking around, they were even able to make phonecalls with it.

They didn't show what happened if you put the SIM in another phone, which would be a neat trick, and I also wondered about the injunction to turn off mobile devices for takeoff and landing.

We Found a Free Smartphone Embedded Inside Entertainment Weekly (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Cory in Berkeley tonight

Hey, Berkeley! I'll be at Books Inc tonight on 4th Street at 7PM, as part of the Pirate Cinema tour. Tomorrow, I'll be in Pasadena and then Redondo Beach, then Lansing, MI, Chicagoland, and many (many!) other US and Canadian cities. Here's the whole schedule -- come on out and say hi!

68,000 Texans no longer have to prove they're not dead in order to vote

68,000 Texans will no longer have to prove that they aren't dead in order to vote in the next election. The state of Texas has settled a suit brought on behalf of 68,000 "potentially deceased" Texas voters who shared a birthdate and a partial Social Security match with a person appearing on a federal death register. These people will now be able to vote, unless Texas can prove they're dead. Another 12,000 voters will still have to prove that they're not dead before casting a ballot. More from Lowering the Bar:

Under the previous rules, voters were identified as "potentially deceased" if there was at least a "weak match" (such as a birth date plus a partial Social Security number) between their information and the federal death records the state was consulting. The weakly matched dead made up 68,000 of the 80,000 people who received a letter from voting officials telling them they would be removed from the rolls if they didn't speak up. Under the settlement, the burden shifts to officials to prove those people are really dead; the remainder ("strong matches"), who are much more likely to be dead, will still have to prove otherwise if they can.

"Today's order [approving the settlement] is another step toward improving the integrity of the election system," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who had unsuccessfully tried to defend the state's original plan. I think it's actually the same step, but 85% smaller.

Texas Settles With Previously Dead Voters

Gary War: "Jared's Lot" music review


We've long been fans of these outsider noise pop weirdos Gary War. They even played our very first aQ/WFMU showcase at South By Southwest, but wow has their sound changed since then. Our pal Anthony described this new record Jared's Lot WAY more succinctly and accurately than we ever could:

"Expertly performed, extremely difficult clash between pop inclinations and punk ideals sent through a completely synthetic, inhuman aesthetic. If you sent the Wipers early albums through the most intuitive state-of-the-art midi processor you might end up with something like this, simultaneously baroque and sterile, and very catchy at times. When the option is to zig or zag Gary War will always zap!"

Read the rest

Sensible Internet policy platform from the German Pirate Party

The German Pirate Party has released a brochure (PDF, German), outlining the party's agenda for a free and open Internet, based on discussions with a group of German publishers. The program they set out is one that I hope to see many parties adopting -- I could certainly see liberal democratic, green, and libertarian parties all adopting this, along with left-leaning labor parties like Canada's NDP.

I have less hope for the UK's larger parties. I don't expect that UK Labour will be able to adopt this, as they've proven themselves (repeatedly) to be hopeless compromised on questions of Internet freedom, establishing themselves over 12 years as the party of Internet surveillance, censorship, and corporatist special favours without regard to the cost to wider society. Which is a shame, given that the UK Tories have nearly identical views, and the UK LibDems, for all their adoption of conference motions on Internet freedom, have also been active participants in making UK Internet policy worse, both in opposition and in power.

Here's Glyn Moody's summary of the Pirate position, from TechDirt.

* No online surveillance, blocking technologies or data retention

* The reduction of the term of copyright

* Legalization of DRM circumvention tools

* More rights for creators when negotiating with publishers

* Legalization of free, non-commercial copying of all creative works online

* Digital archives for libraries

* Exemption of educational establishments from copyright licensing fees

* Open access to all publicly-funded academic work and broadcasting

* Legalization of open wifi networks

German Pirate Party Makes Some Shockingly Unshocking Proposals For Copyright Reform