Boing Boing 

#InsurancePoll: Amanda Palmer wants to know about your experience with health insurance

Amanda Palmer was musing about the messed up state of US health insuranceso she took to Twitter, writing about it under the #InsurancePoll tag ("quick twitter poll. 1) COUNTRY?! 2) profession? 3) insured? 4) if not, why not, if so, at what cost per month (or covered by job)?"). The tag's blown up, trending across the USA, as people weigh in with their insurance horror stories. Then a volunteer statistician came forward to compile a report on the data generated by the poll. They're looking for lots more people to step forward and participate.

i’ll post the gathered data as soon as it’s ready. the results, as DM’d to me a few hours ago by @aubreyjaubrey:

– preliminary info from first 156 responses indicates 24.5% of US respondents do not have insurance because of cost.

– 31.4% of responses were from outside of US. all but one person had some kind of compulsory of government supported healthcare – (that one person was denied)

– 24.4% of those abroad have some employer/private insurance for optometry and dental. individual costs from $45-$90/month. around $250/mo for a family.

– based on responses, Germany appears to be the only other country with extortionate health care costs.

a few hours ago aubrey posted she was off to bed but would continue today and that so far, 240 sets of data had been entered. nice.

runaway twitter insurance poll & the power of social media & sharing stories

Winners of the Pirate Flix Video Remix contest

Thanks to everyone who submitted to the Pirate Flix Video Remix contest and especially to those who braved the rain to come out to Brooklyn's WORD books tonight. Herein presented are the winners of the contest, starting with Diran Lyons's first-place-winning 99 Problems (Explicit Political Remix).

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Cool handheld 3D scanner

How soon before we hear rumblings in Congress that cool handheld 3-D scanners like this need to be tightly regulated, lest they get into the hands of manufacturers of knockoff goods?

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What Canada stands to lose in the war on science

The reign of the current Canadian Conservative government has been relentlessly hostile to science. Government scientists are not allowed to publish or speak to the press without permission from political officers who censor even the most innocuous statements. Basic science research has been slashed. Given that the Tories' real power base is the tar sands petroleum industry -- the dirtiest form of oil extraction being practiced anywhere in the world today -- it's not surprising. Scientists in Canada are fed up. 2,000 scientists staged a "funeral for evidence" on Parliament Hill this summer.

C. Scott Findlay's Toronto Star editorial on the Harper government's war on science and evidence is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what Canada stands to lose from systematic, relentless attacks on science, truth and evidence-based policy.

Even so, close examination of the $1.1 billion investment shows that much has been allocated to industry and commercial science partnerships. Meanwhile, the proportion of funding allocated to basic research, such as the budget of the Discovery Grants program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, has been dropping steadily since 2006.

The science enterprise is like a pyramid. At the base are scientists engaged in the importunate probing of nature’s corpus — say, characterizing the molecular signalling pathways whose activation predisposes cells to become cancerous. Balancing on their shoulders are scientists who apply this knowledge to existing problems — say, developing a cancer drug that will block some of these signalling pathways. And teetering at the apex are scientists engaged in the industrialization of applied research — say, finding efficient ways of producing cancer drugs in large quantities at a reasonable price.

As children, we learned that the larger the base, the taller the pyramid that can be supported: the more basic research, the more opportunities for commercialization and industrialization. Moreover, an uneven base — areas of science where there is comparatively little basic research — not only means no corresponding opportunities for application or industrialization but, worse still, increases the chances of the whole structure toppling over. So too does overloading the top levels: after all, even the most robust basic scientist can support only so many of her applied and industrialization colleagues on her shoulders.

Governing in the dark: Ottawa’s dangerous unscientific revolution (via Confessions of a Science Librarian)

Doctor Dreadful Alien Autopsy Lab

Here is the latest Doctor Dreadful toy, the Alien Autopsy Lab, created by my friend and MAKE magazine columnist Bob Knetzger. When those hoaxers created the fake alien autopsy video, did they ever think that it would be the inspiration for a kids toy?

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Mothership Hackermoms seeks funders for for woman-centric hackerspace

Laura sez, "The Mothership Hackermoms is the first ever women-centric hackerspace. We give mothers the time and space to explore DIY craft and design, hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship, and all manner of creative expression - with childcare! We're designers, scientists, artists, programmers, educators, photographers, writers, entrepreneurs, makers, welders, cooks, illustrators and professionals as well as moms. Our just launched kickstarter will help us build out our space and fund programs for our members and the community."

Mothership HackerMoms: The first women's hackerspace! (Thanks, Laura!)

Timothy Leary's prison correspondence with Carl Sagan

Lisa Rein from the Timothy Leary estate writes,

Dr. Timothy Leary Futique Trust has released two letters from its archives from Carl Sagan, written to Tim Leary in the Spring of 1974. Turns out that Sagan visited Leary in prison at least once.

There are more than a few remarkable similarities when the lives of these two visionaries are compared. They were both scientific explorers and cultural activists - men of ideas and of action. They were geniuses at communication, not only in their books and talks, but as showmen, with extraordinary ability to spread their ideas to a mass audience.

Leary was the era's foremost advocate of inner space exploration, through humanistic psychology and mind-altering drugs, whereas Sagan was the highest profile advocate of space exploration and extra-terrestrial communication. Both were adept at using the media to illuminate their big ideas about inner space (Tim) and outer space (Carl).

Inner Space and Outer Space: Carl Sagan’s Letters to Timothy Leary (1974) (Thanks, Lisa!)

(Graphic: The "Starseed Transmission" in binary code, first printed in Terra II (1974), a manual for space migration, written in Folsom Prison by Leary and fellow prisoner, L. Wayne Benner.)

Pearson's takedown notice over a quote from a 1974 textbook shuts down 1.45 million edublogs

EduBlogs, a service that hosts 1.45 million educational blogs, had all 1.45 million of them taken offline for 12 hours because their $70K/year hosting company, ServerBeach, pitched a wobbly after receiving a takedown notice from Pearson Publishing. Pearson was upset over a five-year-old blog post where a teacher had quoted 279 words out of an article written in 1974. They sent the takedown notice to their host. EduBlogs deleted the post, but it was still present in their database, so ServerBeach punished them by removing 1.45 million peoples' sites.

Now, like I said, the list only runs to 20 questions, sub 300 words, and I think is a pretty important and useful resource for teachers to share with their students.

But clearly Pearson isn’t making enough money already, and intends to, rather that let this 38-year old work be shared, discussed, used, even in a way that might save some people’s lives, on the internet.

Instead it wants a regular teacher to handover $120 for it.

Here’s another idea Pearson, maybe one that you could take from Edublogs, howabout you let this tiny useful list be freely available, and then you sell your study materials / textbooks and other material around that… maybe use Creative Commons Non Commercial Attribution license or similar to make sure you get some links and business.

Or at the very least contact us directly about it.

Rather than being assholes and stuffing up hundreds of thousands of teachers and students through getting your lawyers to lay into our less-than-satisfactory hosts :(

ServerBeach takes 1.45 million edublogs offline just 12 hours after sending through a Pearson DMCA notice for a 20 question list… (via Techdirt)

The zombie ferret car sticker you've been seeking is finally available!

Let me guess: You are a member of a family with a pet ferret. You are also a fan of zombies. But whenever you look for a set of "family" stickers for the back window of your motor vehicle that not only turns your familial avatars into zombies, but also includes a pet ferret, you are met with bitter failure. I have wonderful news for you: your search is over! I found one for you at New York Comic Con.

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Awesome NYCC panel: Comics Pros and Film Buffs - When Fanboys Collide

(Video link) One of the really fun panels I attended at New York Comic Con discussed a subject with which I'm very familiar: comic book movies, and being a comics fan versus a movies fan. While I dig and respect comic books, I'm definitely in the latter camp. At the panel Comics Pros and Film Buffs: When Fanboys Collide, moderated by John Siuntres of the Word Balloon podcast, a lively discussion took place on how comic book movies impact the comic book industry, but also some less popular movies based on comic books. Bash Brannigan, anyone?

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Little Nemo, the Google Doodle edition

Normally, I'm pretty blase about Google Doodles, but today's Doodle pays homage to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo, with a beautiful, pitch-perfect animated series of "Adventures in Google-Land" that you really must see (even the large graphic excerpt here doesn't do it justice, you have to get the animations to get the full effect).

The gigantic Little Nemo collections (Little Nemo in Slumberland and Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays) remain two of my most cherished collections, revealing the full majesty of McCay's imagination by reproducing his original strips at full size. The Google Doodle isn't as humongous as the books, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with lovely animation.

If you're a McCay fan, don't miss the Little Sammy Sneeze collection.

Little Nemo in Google-Land

Nicholson Baker on the joy of writing on rubber with a ballpoint pen

I read Nicholson Baker's book of essays, The Size of Thoughts, when it came out in 1997. If you are familiar with Baker, you know that he has a knack for making the familiar seem wondrous, even bizarre. Dan Shepelavy posted this page from Baker's book, and now I want to find it and reread it.

The Size of Thoughts

Lies writers tell themselves

#2. All you need to be a writer is talent. [The Awl]

Analog Ultra-Violence

J. Christopher Arrison on how the Moog came to represent a new sound of evil for the movies: "This ingenious re-purposing of classical themes through multi-layered analog synthesizers remains as powerful today as it did over four decades years ago. But like Kubrick’s brutal and graphic imagery, [Wendy] Carlos’ contribution to electronic music was not without controversy." [Cultureramp via Tettix]

The adolescence of Reddit

Joel Johnson on what went wrong at Reddit, where moderators closed ranks around a particularly nasty member in the face of outside scrutiny: "outcast cultures ... must survive an awkward adolescence before integrating fully back into the culture from which they are spawned. And like most teenagers, there is a lot of whining, misfired blame, and crying about “never asking to be born” before those cultures realize that despite their memory of an idyllic second childhood, everyone must eventually grow up."

Write a story about this illustration of a swinging party in the suburbs

Norm Saunders was a prolific and talented mid-century illustrator. I don't know the really story behind this illo he did for a men's adventure magazine, but it's more fun to make up something anyway. Share your story in the comments!

Norman Saunders (1907–1989) - commercial artist who produced paintings for pulp magazines, paperbacks, men's adventure magazines, comic and sci-fi books. Norman was the legendary illustrator of Mars Attacks, Wacky Packages, Batman, Pre-Code Comics.

UPDATE: A Boing Boing reader incorporated the illustration into this informational poster.

Bastard chairs of China



Years ago, photographer Michael Wolf became fascinated with improvised, DIY, and haphazardly-repaired chairs that he encountered in China. He called them "bastard chairs" and compiled them into a 2002 book titled Sitting In China. You can see a selection of those chairs at his Web site. "Michael Wolf: Bastard Chairs" (via Accidental Mysteries)

Ceramic subwoofer

Boom! Joey Roth is making a ceramic subwoofer to go with his ceramic speakers.

Bulletproof briefcase


Tumi's new high-security brief is laden with enough layers of Tegris thermoplastic to make it bulletproof. It also has a false bottom. However, for $6,000, I think it should also include handcuffs. Tumi's High-Security Brief (Robb Report, 'natch)

The Walking Dead returns, now with increased moral abandon! [SPOILERS]

In case you haven't seen it already (and this post contains lots of spoilers after the jump, so you might want to hold off), AMC's The Walking Dead came back with a vengeance, picking up months after we saw the survivors fleeing Hershel's farm and Andrea meeting the warrior woman we now know is Michonne. A lot has changed, and if you're a reader of the comics, you'll know that some crazy, crazy stuff is about to go down. What has a few more months of the zombie apocalypse done to our "heroes"? The answer: very upsetting, but understandable things.

Since I'm going to be discussing things that happened in this episode, please assume that I'm, well, going to be talking about things that happened in this episode. And that means there are spoilers from this point on.

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A medal for completing breast cancer treatment

Update: Make your own!—XJ

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, 2011. In January 2012, I began treatment. Chemo, surgery, radiation.

When I finished 6 weeks of daily radiation, the last of my primary treatment round, I tweeted about this milestone and my friend Michael Pusateri said I deserved a medal. Well, Michael's the kind of guy who puts a medal where his mouth is: he made me one. I love it, and I am grateful and proud. I want to wear it every single day for the rest of my life.

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Stacks of suitcases turned into chests of drawers

UK design firm JAMESPLUMB created "Suitcase Chests" -- functional assemblage sculptures that turn stacks of old suitcases into chests of drawers. They are really very beautiful, with wood or metal chassis that's custom designed to hold each case.


Highlights of the Felix Baumgartner Red Bull Stratos "free-fall from space"

A highlight reel of yesterday's spectacular skydive from the edge of space. As blogged during the event, and reimagined in LEGO and cat GIF form, Austrian parachuter Felix Baumgartner dropped out of the stratosphere yesterday from a pressurized capsule, for the Red Bull Stratos mission. The successful jump (and, landing!) set world records for the highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight in history. Early specs, via Red Bull's Facebook page: Altitude: 128,097 ft. Duration of freefall: 4:19. Total jump time: 9:03. Speed: 1137 kmh. No beans. (via Laughing Squid)

Zynga sues own employee for stealing "trade secrets"

Jeffrey Grubb at Venturebeat: "Zynga claims [former executive Alan] Patmore’s allegedly stolen documents contained sensitive information about Zynga’s operations."

The secrets are said to include how Zynga determines what to include in its titles and plans for new features. Since there's a gag order on the actual details, does this meant that no-one on the Internet is allowed to discuss this week's new indie games at the appstore?

We once ate tiny pandas, says scientist in China

Scientist Wei Guangbiao believes our paleo ancestors munched on panda meat in southwest China. He is the head of the Institute of Three Gorges Paleoanthropology in Chongqing, China, and says excavated panda fossils "showed that pandas were once slashed to death by man" and presumably eaten for food, because our ancestors didn't kill things they didn't need for some survival purpose. The pandas were "much smaller then." More in this AP item quoting the Chongqing Morning Post.

(Image: Shutterstock)

Why is a mysterious kidney disease killing sugar-cane workers in Central America?

"It goes by many names, but around here they call it 'the malady of the sugar cane," writes Will Storr in the Guardian. A quiet epidemic has been preying on Central American sugar field laborers for decades, and it is killing more and more each year. "Between 2005 and 2009, incidents in El Salvador rose by 26%. By 2011 the chronic kidney disease (CKD) had become the country's second-biggest killer of men." But what exactly is it?

Parody of anti-gay pamphlets offers detailed, behind-the-scenes view of how liars misuse real citations

The Box Turtle Bulletin has put together a great parody of anti-gay, fear-mongering pamphlets. Entitled, "The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths", it includes important revelations about the heterosexuals and their plans for your children and our country. Here's a quick excerpt from a section that documents some of the depraved behaviors that heterosexuals are known to engage in:

... unsafe behavior is often compounded by drug use, which is an integral part of the heterosexual lifestyle. College students who engage in heterosexuality are 30% more likely to use marijuana than gay students, and they are nearly 40% more likely to use other drugs. (71) Among Redbook readers, 90% of heterosexual women admitted to initiating sex while under the influence of alcohol, and 30% had sex after smoking marijuana. For women under twenty, marijuana use before sex skyrocketed to 63%, with 45% of them using it often. (72)

Those numbered citations are important. In fact, this slim booklet contains more than 100. And it's not just part of the parody. Instead, author Jim Burroway uses these ostensibly unbiased sources of information as a way showing how people can use real information to corroborate a lie. Follow up on his citations at the end of The Heterosexual Agenda, and you'll find a breakdown of how, exactly, he contorted the cited source to fit his own goals.

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Custom Star Wars LEGO for charity


Legohaulic made these wonderful custom LEGO Star Wars characters for Creations For Charity (site currently down), which raises money to buy LEGO sets for disadvantaged children.

How crooks turn even crappy hacked PCs into money

Brian Krebs revisits his must-see chart on the ways that hacked PCs can be valuable to criminals, which is meant to help explain the importance of security to people who think that their old PCs aren't worth enough for crooks to bother with. As Krebs points out, even low-powered antiques can be used to get up to all sorts of mischief that can compromise your privacy, finance and data, as well as the integrity of the Internet itself.

One of the ideas I tried to get across with this image is that nearly every aspect of a hacked computer and a user’s online life can be and has been commoditized. If it has value and can be resold, you can be sure there is a service or product offered in the cybercriminal underground to monetize it. I haven’t yet found an exception to this rule.

The Scrap Value of a Hacked PC, Revisited

Al Jaffee portrait print by Drew Friedman

Our pal Drew Friedman drew this portrait of Al Jaffee, the beloved MAD magazine writer and artist.

Jaffee made his MAD debut in 1955 and joined the "Usual Gang of Idiots" in 1958. Since 1964, only one issue of MAD has been published without new material by Jaffee. He innovated the MAD back cover "Fold-In," which became a recurring feature, and his "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" arguably encouraged subsequent generations of snarky teens.
(Ruben Bolling and I interviewed Al on Gweek last year and it was a thrill to speak with him.)

Al Jaffee fine art print by Drew Friedman