Boing Boing 

R2D2 hoodie that zips up all the way


SuperHeroStuff's R2D2 hoodie is a $70 way to keep warm and look like a droid ($73 if you want to look like an XXL droid). I dig the way it turns into a droid-inspired fencing mask if you zip it up all the way, and the way that this makes you into something like the real R2D2 in that you have no peripheral vision and are prone to being tipped over by malefactors.

Star Wars R2D2 Costume Zip Hoodie (via OhGizmo)

Identity thief's amazing disguise fails to fool bank, toddlers


Joshua K. Pinney is charged with attempting to defraud a Bank of America branch in Des Moines into issuing him a bank card in the name of a man whose wallet had been stolen. To help with his ruse, Pinney allegedly conceived of this clever disguise, including whitening his beard, hair and eyebrows, and swathing his head and body in elaborate "bandages" to make it seem that he'd been injured in a recent accident as a way of explaining other physical differences between him and the victim

Here's more from Rose Egge in the Des Moines KOMO:

Prosecutors say Pinney presented the identification of an Oregon man to the bank manager and asked for a new debit card. The actual man on the ID was a client at the bank whose car had recently been stolen and his identification was missing. The victim had flagged his account to prevent anyone from using it.

Pinney told the branch manager that he was on a business trip in Washington and needed a new debit card, according to the police report. He also asked the branch manager if he could sit down and requested a glass of water, claiming he was in pain from a recent accident.

When confronted by police, Pinney stuck with his story and said he was at the bank to replace his debit card, documents said.

The police officer looked at the Oregon ID that Pinney had given the bank manager and asked the man if he was seriously trying to pass as the man in the picture. Court documents report Pinney hung his head and said “I know.”

Is it too late to make this my Hallowe'en costume?

Man's identity theft attempt falls flat at Des Moines bank (via Accordion Guy)

Clever bread flour storage

I was looking for a clever way to store excess novelty bread flours I'd bought to play with in my bread machine. Technician775 has one...

Retro City Rampage

Retro City Rampage is a curious game. In development for a good decade, the resulting hodge-podge of genres, technologies and influences resulted in a kind of ultra-ironic 16-bit GTA, packed with a bonanza of weird subgames. The tagline says it all: "Carjack the 80s at 88 MPH". But is it any good? Alec Meer at RPS: "I think it’s enjoyable? But I don’t know. I think it does whatever the hell it is it’s trying to do well? But I don’t know. I think people will love it? But I don’t know."

Anti-traffic-cam countermeasure


NoPhoto is Jonathan Dandrow's electronic countermeasure for traffic-cameras. It's a license-plate frame that uses sensors to detect traffic-cameras, and floods the plate with bright light that washes out the plate number when the cameras take the picture. It's presently a prototype, but he's seeking $80,000 through Indiegogo to get UL certification and go into production.

Dandrow believes that traffic cameras are unconstitutional, because "if you do commit a traffic violation, you should have your constitutionally guaranteed right to face your accuser – and that your accuser should not win by default just because it happens to be a camera that can’t talk in court."

His device is made in the USA, and (he says) it is legal to use in the US.

Here is how a typical traffic camera encounter would happen with the noPhoto installed on your car:

1 The traffic camera fires its flash to illuminate your car for a picture

2 The noPhoto detects the flash, analyzes it, and sends the proper firing sequence to its own xenon flashes

3 The noPhoto precisely times and fires the flash at the exact moment needed to overexpose the traffic camera

4 Since the traffic camera is not expecting the additional light from the noPhoto, all of its automated settings are incorrect and the image is completely overexposed. Your license plate cannot be seen you and you will not get a ticket in the mail.

Dandrow also says that traffic cams cause more accidents than they prevent, citing studies by the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia Transportation Research Council, "The increase in rear-end collisions alone from people slamming on their brakes to avoid being ticketed is enough to increase accident rates overall."

(via Rawfile)

Everyone's talking about weird twitter

Read Nick Douglas for a human perspective; knowyourmeme for the tl;dr.

Baby dressed as Gimli


Back in 2007 Sean Donohue dressed up little PJ as Gimli, Son of Gloin, and immortalized him in pixels: "PJ was Gimli the dwarf from Lord of The Rings for Halloween. Michaela's mom made the costume, Michaela fashioned the helmet, hair, beard and battle ax. It was my idea. Yes, I'm sick."

Gimli, Son of Gloin (via Neatorama)

Building a computer from scratch: open source computer science course

Here's an absolutely inspiring TED Talk showing how "self-organized computer science courses" designed around students building their own PCs from scratch engaged students and taught them how computers work at a fundamental level.

Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online -- giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks -- they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn.

Math journal accepts computer-generated nonsense paper


The peer-reviewed journal Advances in Pure Mathematics was tricked into accepting a nonsense math paper that was generated by a program called Mathgen.

To be fair, the journal did note several flaws in the paper, such as "In this paper, we may find that there are so many mathematical expressions and notations. But the author doesn’t give any introduction for them. I consider that for these new expressions and notations, the author can indicate the factual meanings of them," and requested that they be corrected prior to publication.

However, the "author" of the paper replied with a set of pat rebuttals ("The author believes the proofs given for the referenced propositions are entirely sufficient [they read, respectively, 'This is obvious' and 'This is clear']" and these were seemingly sufficient for the editors.

Sadly, the paper wasn't published, as the "author" wasn't willing to pay the $500 peer-review fee.

On August 3, 2012, a certain Professor Marcie Rathke of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople submitted a very interesting article to Advances in Pure Mathematics, one of the many fine journals put out by Scientific Research Publishing. (Your inbox and/or spam trap very likely contains useful information about their publications at this very moment!) This mathematical tour de force was entitled “Independent, Negative, Canonically Turing Arrows of Equations and Problems in Applied Formal PDE”, and I quote here its intriguing abstract:

Let ρ=A. Is it possible to extend isomorphisms? We show that D′ is stochastically orthogonal and trivially affine. In [10], the main result was the construction of p-Cardano, compactly Erdős, Weyl functions. This could shed important light on a conjecture of Conway-d’Alembert.

This is a nice follow-on from the Sokal hoax, wherein a humanities journal was tricked into accepting a nonsense paper on postmodernism. Goes to show that an inability to distinguish nonsense from scholarship exists in both of the two cultures.

Mathgen paper accepted! (via Neatorama)

Disgraced Reddit mod Violentacrez on CNN

The Reddit/Gawker/"jailbait" story has reached its likely zenith: an Anderson Cooper 360º interview. A second part is here. But is Brutsch really a troll? I don't know that this is accurate. Posting disgusting sexist shit on the internet does not make you a troll if you're playing to the home audience: if the people who view that content enjoy it and want more, it isn't trolling. If anyone "trolled," and I don't think the term is necessarily derogatory, I might argue the journalist who exposed him is. Who expected this story to go so wide? Not me. Anyway, here's what one world-famous troll thinks. I don't expect CNN's producers to understand or care about the fine points of internet culture nomenclature. But I'm interested to know what you, dear reader, believe. The man once boasted of having had oral sex with his teen stepdaughter; there's definitely a word for that. BTW, Gawker's Adrian Chen noted in his original story that Brutsch first heard about Reddit via Boing Boing. So there's that.

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San Francisco's Travelodge on Market Street accused of racism

My friend Jason Perkins, who owns several nightclubs in the San Francisco Bay Area and has an impeccable reputation, says that he and legendary guitarist Leo Nocentelli of The Meters were treated to some ol' fashioned hardcore racism last night courtesy of the Travelodge on Market Street near SF's Mission District. Jason writes:

"I bought 4 rooms for the band and prepaid for them on debit card. After sound check, Leo and the band went to the hotel and tried to check in. The manager refused to accept 3 of 4 members credit cards for incidentals (4th member is Rich Vogel/white dude). Leo called me and (my family and I) drove to the hotel at 7:30 pm. I asked what the hell and manager pointed at 3 members and said he wouldn't accept credit cards and "those people" need to pay cash deposit. When I asked what did he mean by "those people" - he pointed at Leo and said "black people."

I felt like I was hit in the face. It was stunning. I called the police and when they arrived, the police went through it with him and then he caught himself and said that they cannot check in any longer as he didn't feel "safe." He then refused to talk. Leo and Bill Dickens then had to console ME as I was beyond upset and they explained that as older fellows who grew up in the South, they understood this happens....

The manager refused to give his name until Police instructed him to give a contact reference and that is when I received a card for "Ginger" (Latu) who now supposedly does not work there!

I have called the hotel five times. No one will respond."

I called Travelodge myself and was told by the person answering the phone that a man named Matthew is the manager, and that he is in a meeting. He said he did not know Matthew's last name. I left a message for Matthew and also with the media relations department of Wyndham Hotel Group, franchisors of Travelodge.

There is an active thread discussing this on the Facebook page for The New Parish where Nocentelli is performing this weekend.

UPDATE at 12:39pm: Rob Myers from Wyndham's media relations department just called me back. He said he is aware of the story and that "all of our hotels are franchised, meaning they are independently owned and operated, so certainly this is not our policy, these allegations that exist here, but it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on it. It would be more appropriate for the hotel owners to comment on it."

Myers said he will ask the hotel to respond to my request for comment. He also asked for the names of those involved so that he can reach out to them. I sent him a link to this post and forwarded his contact info to Jason Perkins.

UPDATE at 1:28pm: Just posted on the Travelodge USA Facebook page:

Thank you to everyone who has brought this to our attention. We are deeply troubled to hear of this allegation. This is not in line with the quality of service that we expect guests to receive when staying at one of our franchised hotels. Please know that we are looking into the matter.

UPDATE at 1:45pm: Someone posting at The Examiner apparently reached the Travelodge's "Mr. Matthew":

Travelodge Central manager who identified himself only as Matthew W., claims hotel policy is to deny access to those whose credit cards reflect insufficient funds.

When asked if Mr. Nocentelli’s credit card had been run through for a credit check, Mr. W. responded, “there are cameras in the hotel.” Mr. W. then stated he was being harassed and hung up the phone.

"The Meters' Leo Nocentelli denied lodging for being black"

UPDATE at 4:35pm: The New Orleans Times-Picauyne interviewed Leo Nocentelli who went into greater detail about what happened before Jason Perkins arrived at the hotel. According to Nocentlli, the hotel clerk demanded $100 cash for incidentals from Leo and the other band members who hadn't yet checked in, and an argument ensued. "Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli's confrontation at San Francisco motel making waves"

UPDATE Sunday 10/21: From the East Bay Express:

Perkins told us he argued with the manager through a hole in a plastic window, pressing him as to why he would not even let the band into the lobby. The manager told Perkins the hotel "didn't take credit cards from those people," finally admitting that by "those people" he meant "black people."

When Perkins called the police to the scene, they said this was not the first time they'd had similar complaints about that Travelodge. The police tried to negotiate a full refund for Perkins, which the hotel denied him.

"An SF Travelodge Allegedly Denies Guitarist Leo Nocentelli Lodging, New Parish Management Calls It Racism"

News reporter oblivious to cockroach on shoulder

[Video link] Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC 4 reporter Robert Kovacik handled this like a boss, or had no idea it was happening. (via ProducerMatthew)

What it's like to be on Jeopardy

A spam filter almost scotched my chance to be on television. I was scanning through the usual detritus of offers in July 2011 to enhance body parts and transfer large sums of money from people in distant lands, and spotted this subject line: “Jeopardy! Contestant Audition in Seattle”

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Redesigned cereal mascots as creepy, wrinkled costumed characters


Peruvian illustrator Guillermo Fajardo has taken a crack at redesigning some of the more iconic breakfast cereal mascots, uploading his excellent efforts to his Behance portfolio. There's the Trix rabbit, Tony the Tiger, Count Chocula (shown above), and Cap'n Crunch (right).

Guillermo Fajardo on the Behance Network (via Neatorama)

Muppeteer Michael Earl has colon cancer, is uninsured; muppet fans raise funds for his care.

BB reader Tony Teofilo says,

Master puppeteer Michael Earl (he did The Muppet Movie, Sesame Street, and many others) has Stage 3 Colon Cancer and no insurance. Any chance you could let the happy mutants know via BoingBoing? Swazzle is having a benefit sale for him 10/20; there is also a donation page if people want to help with his medical costs.

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Andrea Seabrook's DecodeDC

Andrea Seabrook had a brilliant career at National Public Radio (NPR), and spent the last several years covering Congress in Washington, D.C. If you listen to NPR, you know her voice, and likely perked up when the anchors threw it over to her to give insight into the latest federal nonsense. Seabrook recently walked away from that rare thing, a stable job in public radio doing precisely what she loves, to start a podcast called DecodeDC hosted by the new Mule Radio Syndicate. She has three episodes of truthtelling in the can so far.

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To do in DC: "40 under 40: Craft Futures" at the Smithsonian

Now through February at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, an exhibition of under-40 American craftspeople. Among them, Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. Her work "La Llorona" is shown here, and is featured in the "40 under 40: Craft Futures" show.

Robin Cooper gives Obama advice on winning the debate

Robin Cooper tells Boing Boing, "I called the White House with advice to Obama on how to win the next Debate."

Hey, so is that new heat-sensing bra concept the best way to find breast cancer?

Nope.

New Zealand record industry flubs its first three-strikes prosecution

The first of eight prosecutions brought under New Zealand's three-strikes copyright law (passed as a rider to the emergency legislation freeing up money to provide relief for the Christchurch earthquake) has fallen apart.

The RIANZ (Record Industry Association of NZ) withdrew its case against a student in shared accommodation without saying why.

However, as Torrentfreak reports, NZ activists at Tech Liberty point out that the notices sent to the student, and the damages claimed, were all badly bungled and unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny.

The recording group asked for just over NZ $370 (US $303) to cover the costs of the notices and copyright tribunal hearing, plus NZ $1,250 (US $1,024) as a deterrent. However, eyebrows were certainly raised when it came to their claim for the music involved in the case.

The infringements were alleged to have taken place on five tracks with the cost of each measured against their value in the iTunes store, a total of NZ $11.95 (US $9.79). This sounds reasonable enough, but RIANZ were actually claiming for $1075.50 (US $880.96).

“RIANZ decided, based on some self-serving research, that each track had probably been downloaded 90 times and therefore the cost should be multiplied by 90,” says Tech Liberty co-founder Thomas Beagle. “There is no basis in the Copyright Act or Tribunal regulations for this claim.”

I don't think we can count on this kind of cack-handedness in the future. The RIANZ will perfect its procedures soon enough, and we'll start seeing punitive fines and even disconnection based on mere accusation of living in a house where the router is implicated in an unproven allegation of copyright infringement.

Music Biz Dumps First Contested Copyright Case After Botched 3 Strikes Procedure

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Music Appreciation: Drone

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For many people, a drone wouldn't even be called music, just an irritating noise, like the buzzing of a refrigerator, the hum of traffic, the sound of bees in a hive. For others, it is OMMMM, the sound of the universe in Hindu cosmology, or, put in the language of modern physics, an expression of the fact that everything vibrates, everything is a wave. Yet a recent packaged-for-mainstream double CD compilation called Roots of Drone confirmed what I already suspected: that in the last decade or two, drone has become a musical genre. This may seem odd since after all, a drone is basically a tone, or set of tones that are sustained over time. And in a consumer marketplace driven by a craving for endless but often trivial kinds of novelty, making the same sound for a long time is a powerful gesture of refusal. Even so, there's now drone rock, drone metal, drone-based techno, drone within the classical tradition, drone-folk and so on. And now, the varieties of drone too are apparently inexhaustible. Here then is a sampling of drone's diversity...

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Girl dresses as a different person every school day

Stella Ehrhart is an eight-year-old girl in Omaha who dresses as a different historical, prominent or local figure every day, with few repeats; she's been at it since the start of second grade. Much of her inspiration is drawn from 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, and she and her fellow students and teachers play a guessing game each day to figure out who she is. She has dressed as her principal, Elvis Costello, Jan Brady, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Old Turtle. Erin Grace reports in the Omaha World-Herald:

So they try to support her desire for self-expression. Teachers, in fact, embrace it and have used Stella's outfits du jour as teachable moments.

“We'd have to get on the computer and figure out who she was,” said her second-grade teacher, Shannon Roeder, who keeps a picture of an overtly costumed Stella (it was Halloween) hanging in her classroom. In the picture, Stella poses in front of Roeder's bumper-sticker-plastered Prius, its license plate reading “ENDWAR,” wearing a cardboard car cutout also plastered in bumper stickers, with the same vanity plate.

Stella's costumes prompt classroom discussion, some copycatting and further creativity. When she dressed as Rosa Parks, she and her classmates devised a play and designated different people as the bus driver and other bus passengers.

On Monday, she sat in her Joan Baez “costume,” which was a military-green fitted half-blazer over a patterned blouse with black slacks and cowboy boots. She looked like any other third-grader, head bent over some bellwork — math and grammar exercises that at times had her stumped.

Omaha schoolgirl dresses as a different historical figure each day (via Skepchick)

Iconic erotic film star Sylvia Kristel of ‘Emmanuelle’ dies of cancer at 60

Actress Sylvia Kristel died this week at 60 years of age. “She died during the night during her sleep,” her agent, Marieke Verharen, told the AFP news agency. The cause of her death was cancer. In recent years, she received treatment for throat and liver cancer, and suffered a stroke.

She is most famous for her role in the 1970s cult-erotic hit "Emmanuelle." Dangerous Minds has an obit, and the New York Times. Her memoir is a sad and illuminating read.

1950s Data storage ad

How Don Draper's firm might have saved client data. From OrangeCats' Flickr stream, referenced in "History of Modern Computing" (Ceruzzi).

Secret Garden, relax-em-up browser game

The Secret Garden (play) is a relaxing trip around a mysterious polygon-tastic pastoral landscape. The Garden's deligts include jumping around and Buddha-hurling. [via Free Indie Games]

Panama aims to adopt Euro

The Panamanian president announced that the country would like to introduce the Euro as legal tender, alongside the U.S. dollar. [Reuters]

Improving the Tibetan dung-stove with wire coat-hangers


Liz To has designed a coat-hanger-based disassemblable stove for Tibetan nomads who cook indoors. It's a clever way of recycling one of the more pernicious waste products of western society (coat hangers) and relieving one of the worst health problems faced by Tibetan nomads (indoor pollution from dung fires). Apart from the rather unfortunate orthography (it's called "thab." -- all lower case, with a superfluous period), this is just great.

thab. is designed for Tibetan Nomads who live and cook inside tents. For cooking, they usually use the three stone cooking method however that causes health issues. They use yak dung as their cooking fuels.

They often boil water or soup therefore thab. must be strong, durable, efficient, safe and inexpensive.

Tibetan Nomads travel from one place to another every few months therefore thab. is designed to be disassembled so it can be portable.

thab. - designed by liz (Thanks, Avi!)

Time-Traveling Librarians from Outer Spa... from Texas

When I first heard of the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library, a new Houston-based bookmobile venture, I felt myself get a bit unstuck in time. For one thing, I usually see “traveling library” used to describe the library boxes that were shipped as part of early extension efforts that were especially popular in the 1890s. And the photos used to promote it so far, like this one of the first bookmobile in Texas, are decidedly and delightfully old school.

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Cory coming to Vancouver this weekend

Hey, Vancouver! I'm headed your way tomorrow for a pair of ticketed appearances at the Vancouver Writers Festival, the first with William Gibson at 2PM, then another at 5PM with Margaret Atwood and Pasha Malla. On Sunday at 6PM, Kidsbooks (one of the last great independent children's bookstores in the country) is hosting an event for me at the West Point Grey United Church. On Monday at 11AM I'll be at the Great Northern Way Campus Centre for Digital Media at 11AM, and then at Victoria's Bolen Books at 7PM. After that, I head to Seattle, Toronto, and Boston -- here's the whole schedule. Be there or be somewhere else, but if you can, be there!