Boing Boing 

HOWTO recover your stolen car

From an email sent to author Tyler Cowen by a reader:

Oh, and here’s a tip I hope you never need: if your car is ever stolen, your first calls should be to every cab company in the city. You offer a $50 reward to the driver who finds it AND a $50 reward to the dispatcher on duty when the car is found. The latter is to encourage dispatchers on shift to continually remind drivers of your stolen car. Of course you should call the police too but first things first. There are a lot more cabs than cops so cabbies will find it first -and they’re more frequently going in places cops typically don’t go, like apartment and motel complex parking lots, back alleys etc. Lastly, once the car is found, a swarm of cabs will descend and surround it because cabbies, like anyone else, love excitement and want to catch bad guys. Cabbies know a lot of stuff*. I found a traveling shoplifting ring in Phoenix once. Professional shoplifters always take cabs. So do strippers going to work but that’s another story.

Taxis and the shortest route home (from my email) (via Kottke)

Batbane mask is yours for $130

Inb4 Cory! [Etsy via Khoi]

RIAA bigwig who architected anti-technology lawsuits is now #2 at the Copyright Office

Karyn Temple Claggett is the new Associate Register of Copyright and Director of Policy & International Affairs for the Copyright Office. Her previous gig was litigating for the RIAA, shutting down technologies like Grokster, which had widespread, non-infringing uses (the standard in the law since the Betamax Supreme Court decision in 1982).

Last night the news came out that the US Copyright Office had now named Karyn Temple Claggett as the Associate Register of Copyright and Director of Policy & International Affairs. While Temple Claggett has actually been at the Copyright Office for a little while as Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs, not too long ago she was a hotshot litigator for... the RIAA. In fact, an old bio of hers, from when she was at the RIAA (as VP, Litigation and Legal Affairs), notes that she was instrumental in their ever-present legal campaign against pretty much any innovative technology that comes along:

While at the RIAA, Ms. Temple-Claggett has worked on some of the most high-profile copyright cases brought by copyright owners in recent years, including the Supreme Court Grokster litigation, as well as litigation against LimeWire, XM Satellite Radio and

Former RIAA VP Named 2nd In Command Of Copyright Office[Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

Snap-fit 3D printable airship can also form the base of a Saturn V rocket

RealAbsurdity's "Modular Snap-Fit Airship" on Thingiverse is a 3D-printable toy whose parts can interchangeably form part of a Saturn V rocket. More snap-fit vehicles are planned.

This is a fully modular snap-fit (no glue required) model of an Airship. It is the vanilla base for a series of absurd mashups that currently includes a Trireme and a Saturn V rocket. Designed for 3D print, it comes in two flavors: solid and shell.

Modular Snap-Fit Airship (Thanks, crystlem!)

David Byrne and St Vincent on Letterman

David Byrne and St Vincent appeared on the David Letterman show this week to perform "I Should Watch TV" (a deliciously ironic choice, given the song's content) from their amazing album Love This Giant, which is my favorite new music in years. The stage performance is amazing, too.

David Byrne & St. Vincent - I Should Watch TV - David Letterman 1-28-13

Magic, copyright, and internal enforcement mechanisms

Sara Crasson sez, "With the posts about magic recently, I thought you might be interested in an article I wrote about how intellectual property law applies to magicians (among other performers). In writing it, I thought I would establish that current protections were of limited benefit to magicians and then finish the piece by proposing enhanced protections that would help magicians, but as I thought about it, I got turned around. The article concludes with a section analyzing how the lack of legal protection benefits the art as a whole, how restricting access to magical techniques could make it impossible for magicians to create new tricks, and how internal social enforcement mechanisms could help reduce what magicians consider impermissible copying."


Crowdfunded doc on the Amazing Randi seeks funding

Justin sez,

In 2010, Boing Boing wrote about about James "The Amazing" Randi coming out of the closet as a gay man. Coming from the famed exposer-of-deception, many found his honesty inspirational. Then, in September of 2011, his live-in partner of 25 years, Jose Alvarez - the man who famously adopted the persona of "Carlos" for their "Carlos Hoax" - was arrested for identity fraud. Carlos, er, Jose, is actually named Deyvi Pena.

Luckily, documentary filmmakers Justin Weinstein (writer, editor of Being Elmo) and Tyler Measom (director, Sons of Perdition) were filming with them for their new doc, An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story. In addition to getting the inside scoop on the Deyvi story, the doc features such greats as Richard Dawkins, Penn & Teller, Tim Minchin, Bill Nye, Neal DeGrasse Tyson, Adam Savage, Alice Cooper, and more.

You can help them get the film made by supporting it via Kickstarter (and get some great memorabilia).

An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story (Thanks, Justin!)

Holding the steering wheel at 10 and 2 o'clock is no longer recommended

8 & 4! 8 & 4! (Via Doobybrain)

See also: Adjust a car's sideview mirrors to eliminate blind spots

Spiral staircase inspired by a whale's spine

Spiral staircase? Yes please. Spiral staircase modeled on the spine of a whale? Hell yes!

Andrew McConnell conceived of this system as a modular set of components that can be deployed in a spiral, each element supporting the next – the only variation would occur in the top and bottom pieces that connect to landings.

...From the designer: “Inspired by the spine of a whale, the Vertebrae Staircase is not simply mimicry of organic form but an exploration in shaping structure. Much of the design work went into refining the single component, or vertebra, that mate with each other creating a unified spine running from floor plate to floor plate. These interlocking vertebrae provide a rigid structure for the steps, railing and its users. And the railing is reinforced by connections that help the staircase resist rotational forces caused by the cantilevered steps.”

Spinal Staircase: Bare-Bones Steps Inspired by Vertebrae (via Neatorama)

Meet Curiosity rover's earthbound sibling

Photo: Glenn Fleishman

Go and check out Glenn Fleishman's fantastic set of photos from the Jet Propulsion Lab's sandbox, where the scientists get to hang out and play with one of Curiosity rover's siblings.

Mind the Gap: a paranormal thriller/mystery graphic novel that non-comic book readers will enjoy

Somebody tried to kill Elle Peterssen. She's comatose in the hospital. Her wealthy family doesn't seem to care much -- not her Korean tiger mom, not her emotionally vacant father, not her spoiled brother. They consider her hospitalization a major inconvenience. Elle's boyfriend, Dane, cares a lot but he's the prime suspect.

Elle, unconscious in a hospital bed, is somewhat aware of what's happening. Her disembodied, amnesiac mind inhabits a kind of spirit world with other coma patients. With the aid of a psychologist (also in a coma and in a hospital bed right next to her) and a British coma patient, Elle attempts to figure out who she is and how she ended up this way.

Meanwhile back on Earth, clues of a complicated plot concerning Elle reveal themselves in odd places -- in a hospital staff doctor who purges Elle's records, in hoodie-wearing nogoodniks skulking in doorways and whispering urgently in their cellphones about contingency plans, in office explosions, and in double-crosses.

Mind the Gap: Intimate Strangers collects the first five issues of Jim McCain (writer) and Rodin Esquejo's (artist) Hitchcock-esque comic book series of the same name. The art is superb and the story is a masterfully-paced, intriguing thriller.

Warning: this is an ongoing series so when you get to the end of this graphic novel, you'll want to find out what happens next. Fortunately Mind the Gap #6 is out. I'm going to wait for Volume 2 of the anthology series, myself.

Mind the Gap: Intimate Strangers

Short documentary about competitive gaming tournaments

TL Taylor (author of Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming) talks about competitive gaming and e-sports in this short PBS documentary.

Trade show exec throws CNET under the bus, but who is he to judge media ethics?

Gary Shapiro is chief of the Consumer Electronics Association, the tech industry group behind the massive annual CES trade show. In an op-ed published by USA Today, he writes that the organization is reevaluating its relationship with tech news site CNET, which oversees a big CES-related award. CNET was planning to give this award to a particular gadget until its parent company, CBS, interfered.

Read the rest

TV reporter asks videobomber how long she's had an STD

"I don't have an STD."

"Then why did you want to talk?"

Waitress who posted no-tip receipt from “pastor” fired from Applebee's

The Consumerist reports that Chelsea, the Applebee's employee who earlier this week posted a receipt with a note from a tightwad "pastor" that read "I Give God 10%. Why Do You Get 18," was fired.

“We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make,” she explains. “After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9/hr on average, before taxes.

In her job, Chelsea says she skipped bathroom breaks when things got busy, went hungry when she had to work several tables at a time, would work until 1:30 a.m. and then come back in at 10:30 a.m.

“I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people,” she tells Consumerist. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty, and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”

Waitress who posted no-tip receipt from “pastor” fired from Applebee's

Adding glasses to that old newspaper photo

Chris Smith very helpfully fixed the newspaper photo I posted earlier today, which showed me at 9 months, with my mom.

25 years of legal abortion in Canada (Thanks, Chris!)

Noisebridge hackerspace explains fair use to Dreamworks

Dreamworks is producing a sensationalized, awful movie about Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Some of the action involves the Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco that Wikileaks's Jacob Appelbaum helped to found, so Dreamworks wrote to them asking for permission to use their logo. Noisebridge collectively penned a letter back explaining fair use and free speech to the representatives from Big Content who'd come a-knockin':

From your description, it should be clear to anyone watching your film that you're just using the image to talk about Noisebridge, not claim you are Noisebridge or that Noisebridge supports your film*.

Given this, Noisebridge as a community believes you have the free speech right to use such imagery without having to ask permission -- especially those who you might be implicitly criticising or commenting upon. Such a right is encoded in the existing nature of trademark and copyright with the idea of fair use.

Sadly, knowledge of such rights have been eroded over the years by the repeated claims of copyright maximalists, who would have you believe that you must beg to refer to us in your film -- or even that you would be beholden to us if, for instance, you parodied our disrespectful attitude to your concerns with the following image, which includes both of our identifying marks, the Noisebridge(TM) circuit, and the Unicorn Pissing A Rainbow(TM).

Such a position is lunacy and a genuine threat to free speech and the first amendment. You should exercise all of your fair use rights freely and without fear.

So we say tell your friends at DreamWorks to publish (or print, or produce) and be damned. Tell them we fully support them in their brave stand. You can say with confidence that the only conditions under which Noisebridge would sue them and their partners to the maximum damages entitled to us by law would be if it turned out that hackers like us were completely hypocritical nihilists out only for our own egotistical ends.

Given that you were so nice as to ask us, we can't imagine you think that of us.

DreamworksReply (Thanks, Danny!)

Copyright, plagiarism and the Internet

My latest Guardian column is "Internet copyright law has to have public support if it's going to work," and it goes into the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism, and tries to understand why so many people got upset at Glee's legal ripoff of a Jonathan Coulton song:

Copyright experts were quick to explain that Fox's plagiarism was legal – the same rules that allowed Coulton to record his cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's original "Baby Got Back" also allow Fox to produce a sound-alike version. But it's shoddy, because it is, at heart, a lie.

(Coulton got his own back on Fox: he rereleased his own "Baby Got Back" and billed it as a cover of the Glee version, with proceeds to charity – it climbed the iTunes chart while the Fox version was clobbered by angry Coulton fans who gave it one-star reviews)

Why does Fox's sin stick in the internet's craw? I think it's because Fox hasn't just wronged Coulton: they've wronged the public. We have been misled about the origin of a product we're being asked to purchase.

This is different from, say, a fake designer handbag that's offered as a cheap knockoff, where there's no intent to fool the purchaser, who understands that a 99% discount on a Vuitton bag means that it's really a "Vuitton" bag.

This kind of plagiarism is more like selling horsemeat labelled as beef burgers. Horsemeat can be perfectly harmless, and many people happily eat it, but when you buy beef burgers, you expect that you're getting what you paid for.

Internet copyright law has to have public support if it's going to work

San Francisco 49er's homophobic comments and dumb apology

In a radio interview this week, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said, "We ain't got no gay people on the team… They gotta get up out here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. ... Nah, can't be ... in the locker room, man."

He has since issued an equally-intelligent apology:

"The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel."

This is the same week that former-49er offensive tackle Kwame Harris was outed as he faced charges for assaulting his ex-lover, a man, outside a Chinese restaurant during an argument about soy sauce and underwear.

Meanwhile, 49ers safety Donte Whitner, who previously appeared in an "In Gets Better Project" video supporting LGBT teens, expressed disappointment in Culliver's intolerance:

"I actually do feel differently from what Chris said," Whitner said. "We are NFL players, but we are humans also. Who knows? There could be somebody gay in our locker room right now that's scared to come out, which he has a right to be if he is scared to come out because of all of this and how other teammates might feel. But I feel like anybody can be who they want to be if they want to be that. As long as you don't disrespect other people and go about your own business in your way, I don't see what the problem is."

Chris Culliver issues apology (ESPN)

"49ers' Donte Whitner ready to accept gay teammate, disappointed in Chris Culliver" (USA Today)

"Ex-49er Kwame Harris accused of beating up ex-boyfriend appears in court" (SF Examiner)

Beijing air quality is like living in an airport smoking lounge

Beijing’s air quality has long been known to be unsafe, and has been over the World Health Organization’s “healthy” limit every day this year. A chart and report from Bloomberg show that it is in fact similar to the air inside an airport smoking lounge.

More: Beijing Air Akin to Living in Smoking Lounge: Chart of the Day -

Scant evidence of skeet shooting by Obama

The Washington Post digs in to the very important question of whether or not Obama goes skeet shooting “all the time” while at Camp David, as he once claimed.

Ancient strain of rice rediscovered in China

An article in China Daily excitedly touts the re-discovery of an ancient variety of rice known as Wannian rice. " It can reach 1.8 meters while ordinary rice grows less than 1 meter high.Also, there is no need for pesticides or chemical fertilizers since this 'heirloom' rice variety has proven resistant to insects and over centuries has adapted to low soil fertility.

Sponsor shout-out: ShanaLogic and crow t-shirts!


Thank you to our lovely sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently-designed apparel, delightful gifts, and other fine finds! New to the shop is Maiden Voyage's excellent "Council of Crows" t-shirt, printed on a 100% super-soft cotton lightweight heather grey tee. In fact, I recently bought one of Maiden Voyage's Cryptozoology Glow-in-the-Dark Tees and can personally vouch for the print quality and softness! Shana says: 10% off with code: BOING

Lorem Ipsum Books in Cambridge, Mass has 14 hours to raise the rest of $29K

Gavin Grant sez, "Loren Ipsum bookstore in Cambridge, MA, has about 14 hours left on Indiegogo to raise $29K to stay open. They're almost halfway there. I recommend the Helvetica T-shirt, although the Comic Sans one has a gravity of its own. Cory wrote about the store earlier.

How to make R2D2 heels

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a shoe stamping on R2D2 — forever.

MAKE: How-To: R2D2 Heels

How the Internet changes power relationships

Bruce Schneier's essay "Power and the Internet" is a thoughtful look at the way that the Internet causes shifts in power relationships. Here's the crux of the thing, in my opinion:

It's not all one-sided. The masses can occasionally organize around a specific issue -- SOPA/PIPA, the Arab Spring, and so on -- and can block some actions by the powerful. But it doesn't last. The unorganized go back to being unorganized, and powerful interests take back the reins.

Debates over the future of the Internet are morally and politically complex. How do we balance personal privacy against what law enforcement needs to prevent copyright violations? Or child pornography? Is it acceptable to be judged by invisible computer algorithms when being served search results? When being served news articles? When being selected for additional scrutiny by airport security? Do we have a right to correct data about us? To delete it? Do we want computer systems that forget things after some number of years? These are complicated issues that require meaningful debate, international cooperation, and iterative solutions. Does anyone believe we're up to the task?

We're not, and that's the worry. Because if we're not trying to understand how to shape the Internet so that its good effects outweigh the bad, powerful interests will do all the shaping. The Internet's design isn't fixed by natural laws. Its history is a fortuitous accident: an initial lack of commercial interests, governmental benign neglect, military requirements for survivability and resilience, and the natural inclination of computer engineers to build open systems that work simply and easily. This mix of forces that created yesterday's Internet will not be trusted to create tomorrow's. Battles over the future of the Internet are going on right now: in legislatures around the world, in international organizations like the International Telecommunications Union and the World Trade Organization, and in Internet standards bodies. The Internet is what we make it, and is constantly being recreated by organizations, companies, and countries with specific interests and agendas. Either we fight for a seat at the table, or the future of the Internet becomes something that is done to us.

Power and the Internet (Thanks, Bruce!)

I do not think it means what you think it means...

Thanks, Dave Pasquesi!

Better orgasms promised

"The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is set to hold an event this spring designed to help its female undergraduate students achieve more and greater orgasms"

Long Live the Kings

Long Live the Kings is a short film, shot entirely on 16mm film, that shares the joys and dreams of people who take motorcycle road trips. It is just beautiful.

I'm coming to YOUR town* in February!

Next Tuesday marks the publication of my latest YA novel, Homeland, and I'll be kicking off a month-long tour across the US on February 5 with a stop in Seattle, followed by Portland and San Francisco.

From there, I swing to the southwest -- a region I've never toured! -- with stops in Salt Lake City and Tempe. Then it's northeast to NYC, south to Cincinnati, Miami, Chapel Hill, Decatur, Oxford, MS, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Then I do two stops in Texas: Austin and Houston, before crossing northeast again to Portsmouth and Concord, NH; down to DC, over to Boston, then Albuquerque.

There's also a couple stops I'll be making after the tour proper: Lawrence, KS and Toronto.

I'll be reading from the book, talking about the themes and my inspiration for writing it, and about how Aaron Swartz contributed to it. I'm hoping that the public appearances turn into a chance to brainstorm about how to keep Aaron's work going. The events are all-ages and kid-friendly, and I'll be happy to sign your books, ereaders, floppy discs, laptops, or whatever.

I don't think that there are going to be any more cities added -- pretty much every day is a travel-day already. But there is some time for press interviews, podcasts, and so forth, so if that's your thing feel free to mail me and I'll forward you on to my publicist to see if we can schedule it in.

Touring is hard work, but I love it. Everywhere I go, I meet happy mutants -- young and old -- and get to talk with them about their passions and hopes. It's what keeps me going through the year. I really hope you'll come out and join the fun!

Here's the full schedule:

Homeland Tour/Cory Doctorow/February 5 - 26, 2013

Here's a long excerpt:

Homeland (Excerpt)

And here's some things the critics are saying:

"Outstanding for its target audience, and even those outside Doctorow’s traditional reach may find themselves moved by its call to action" - Kirkus

"Fans of Little Brother and the author’s other stories of technophiliac hacktivism ought to love this book" - Publishers Weekly

* Assuming your town is one of the ones I'm coming to, of course. Alert readers will have already noticed that there's not much action in the midwest, Rockies, or northeast, which is a deliberate decision in the hopes of minimizing weather delays during a jam-packed tour schedule. Sorry! I got to as much of the northeast and midwest as I could back on the Pirate Cinema tour in November.