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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 Usenet.com

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."

THE LIMITED PROTECTIONS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW FOR THE VARIETY ARTS: PROTECTING ZACCHINI, HOUDINI, AND CIRQUE DU SOLEIL [PDF] [Moorad Sports Law Journal at Villanova Law School]

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