Boing Boing 

Why PLAY pie-anna when you can VAMP?


As far back as the 1920s, smart musicians have known that your ability to hit the notes isn't nearly so important as your ability to vamp.

Vamping

HOWTO turn a dead hard-drive into a cotton candy machine


Here's an unexpected use for a dead hard-drive: use its motor to power a candy-floss machine:

A Chinese engineer who operates a data recovery and hard drive repair center is being hailed as a genius after inventing a DIY candy floss machine made from a used hard disk. According to the instructions, all that is needed to create your own candy floss maker is a hard drive that can still power up, a round flat metal tin, six bicycle spokes, an aluminum can and a plastic basin. A series of photos demonstrating how to create this candy floss machine have made some sensation across China internet …

The key to the improvised cotton candy maker is the hard drive’s rotating platter. Most commercial cotton candy machines spin at around 3,450 rotations per minute, while modern hard drives operate at 5,400 rotations per minute or higher. We’re really admired this kind of DIY creation from a technical nerd …

Turning an Old Hard Disk Into a Candy Floss Machine [English, MicGadget]

技术宅拯救世界:用旧硬盘自制棉花糖机(图) [Chinese, tt.mop.com]

(via Neatorama)

TSA routinely violates own rules and the law to discriminate against people w/disabilities

Sai has "a neurological disorder that causes episodic muteness and muscle spasms" -- basically, he sometimes becomes mute and gets bad shakes. His doctor has advised him to have juice continuously available, and this helps control his condition. TSA rules allow him to bring any amount of juice through a checkpoint. Unfortunately, the TSA doesn't read its own rules. Instead, Sai is detained at checkpoints for endless, illegal questioning and searches of his personal papers, confidential business documents, etc. When he loses the ability to speak, he uses pen and paper to communicate, but the TSA takes the pen and paper away as soon as he cites language from a landmark legal case limiting their power to search him.

He's videoed one of these encounters, with the TSA and its private contractors at SFO, and he's filed grievances with various agencies over that incident and another at Boston Logan. The TSA is illegally refusing to follow its own administrative procedures, so he's getting ready to sue them (he needs an ADA and/or FOIA-specialized lawyer qualified for the bar in MA and/or CA and/or federally -- any takers?). He's also trying to force them to disclose their secret procedures.

The edited, subtitled video of his run-in at SFO is fantastically infuriating. The TSA and its private contractors are vindictive, lawless, brutal. But Sai is an inspiring example of calm under fire, a guy who knows his rights back and forwards, and doesn't let the fact that his physical condition is deteriorating -- you can see his tremors -- make him lose his cool (here's the unedited version, which runs to about an hour).

Sai's site has plenty of ways you can help with this, including a petition to Congress and a questionnaire to help him with his Freedom of Information suit. And by helping him, you help everyone who has to fly -- and everyone who cares about freedom in America.

On March 1, 2013, San Francisco TSA refused to allow me to travel with medical liquids. My liquids had been been tested clean by xray & explosive trace detection, and the official on scene specifically acknowledged reading the TSA's Special Needs Memo (including that juice is a medical liquid and that there's no volume restriction on medical liquids). This directly involved the most senior TSA officials at the airport, who detained me for about 50 minutes total.

This is only the most recent in a long string of personal incidents of harassment, denial, or direct refusal to obey TSA's medical liquids policy. This time, though, I got it all on video.

Problems with the TSA (via Hacker News)

Just look at this liquid nitrogen-dipped banana being shot with a steel bearing.


Just look at it.

I Broke my Banana (Thanks, Philip!)

Imaginary Glorp Gum becomes a reality! Sort of!

Zack sez, "Artist Brad McGinty (the "Xenomorph Anatomy" T-shirts) has a new website celebrating the fake history of Glorp Gum, best described as Bazooka Joe by way of Rat Fink. The site includes an elaborate narrative for Glorp Gum, tons of merchandise (including T-shirts, stickers and yes, actual gum) and this hilarious animated commercial that parodies the classic "Mr. Owl" spots for Tootsie Roll Pops"

GLORP GUM! The only gum that comes with a free T-Shirt! (Thanks, Zack!)

Disney World Luau bowl


Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily designed this beautiful Polynesian Luau Bowl for an upcoming Walt Disney World special event. It'll sell for $35, but the on-sale date isn't announced yet.

Summer's coming...

2013 Hugo nominees announced

This year's Hugo Award nominees have been announced, and it's a great slate! Congrats to all the authors, artists, fans and editors who are up for the award in San Antonio, Texas this Labor Day weekend.

Best Novel (1113 nominating ballots cast)
* 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
* Blackout, Mira Grant (Orbit)
* Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
* Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)
* Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW)

Best Novella (587 nominating ballots cast)
* After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
* The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
* On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
* San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant (Orbit)
* “The Stars Do Not Lie”, Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

2013 Hugo Award Nominees Announced

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Nevada State Legislature poised to take regulation of Burning Man away from state and local cops

M Otis Beard sez, "A bill gaining support in the Nevada State Assembly would make Burning Man hands-off for state and county law enforcement officials, and subject only to Federal authority."

Each year, the local sheriff has been jacking Burning Man for increasing per-head fees, and the county's conservative lawmakers have been passing silly-season unconstitutionalities, like a law prohibiting a man from being naked in the presence of a child. It's combination of revenue generation and garden-variety harassment, and there had been rumbles about the festival taking up local native groups on an invitation to move it to Paiute land where the county wouldn't get a say.

“Earlier this morning, the Chamber supported AB 374 in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee. This bill, pushed by Assemblyman David Bobzien, came about because of threats by some rural counties to start charging local permitting fees and increasing costs for the Burning Man festival that comes to the Black Rock Desert every summer. This bill would prohibit any local government from interfering with a federally-licensed event on federal land. We strongly support this concept because of the enormous positive economic impact that Burning Man attendees have on our region.”

Some of the problem stems from the fact that Burning Man is held just over a county line; all the on-the-way spending done by burners takes place in Washoe county, but once you turn off to head to the playa, you're in Pershing county, and that's also when the ban on (most) commerce begins. So the county doing the legislating has no real financial stake in the festival continuing. So the local law gets to screw the neighboring county, threatening its one of its major source of economic activity and win points with the voters by harassing hippies.

The Man vs. the Man: Will Local Authorities Be Booted From Burning Man? (Thanks, M Otis Beard!)

Assyrian Dalek, ca. 865 BCE


From Wikipedia: "English: A large wheeled Assyrian battering ram with an observation turret attacks the collapsing walls of a besieged city, while archers on both sides exchange fire. From the North-West Palace at Nimrud, about 865-860 BC; now in the British Museum."

File:Assyrian battering ram.jpg (Thanks, Justin!)

New Bob Basset mask with added angularity


A new piece from Ukrainian steampunk leather mask-maker Bob Basset. I like the angular forms here -- there's something a bit Roman in it, to my eye at least.

DW new. Steampunk Art Leather Mask

Embarrassingly obvious undercover cops take to Twitter looking for house shows


Internet-savvy indie musicians organize "house shows," which are pretty much what they sound like: a fan lets the band use her or his house for a performance, and other fans come by and hear it. The shows aren't legal, but they're pretty fun*.

Boston cops have taken to Twitter, posing as punk kids, trying to get bands to tip off the location of their house shows. As Slate's Luke O'Neil points out, though, they're really bad at it, totally tone-deaf. It's created something of an Internet sport of "spot the undercover," which is almost as much fun as the house parties.

“Too bad you were not here this weekend,” “Joe Sly” wrote. “Patty's day is a mad house I am still pissing green beer.  The cops do break balls something wicked here. What's the address for Saturday Night, love DIY concerts.” He might as well have written “Just got an 8 ball of beer and I’m ready to party.”

Is it possible that Joe Sly is a real Boston punk? Sure, though if so he’s the first Boston punk in history to brag about drinking lame St. Patrick’s Day green beer. As one of the many amused music fans who scoffed at the screencap as it was shared around on Tumblr pointed out, “he/she said concerts ... concerts.” Anyone who's ever been to a concert like this knows that it's not called a concert. It’s a show.

The Massachusetts band Do No Harm also tweeted about receiving an email from Joe this month. “whats the 411 for the show saturday?” he asked, apparently using some sort of slang-filter translator from the turn of the century.

Of course, there may be really good undercovers trolling Twitter for house parties that we don't know about because of their perfect ninja stealth. If only disproving a negative was possible!

Boston Punk Zombies Are Watching You! [Slate/Luke O'Neil]


* Though I have some sympathy with neighbors who don't like the late night noise -- when an illegal, unlicensed hotel moved in next door to me and started drilling into my bedroom wall all night, and jackhammering against the wall for 8 hours straight on Christmas, it made me totally bananas.

South Korea lives in the future (of brutal copyright enforcement)

The US-Korean Free Trade Agreement came with a raft of draconian enforcement rules that Korea -- then known as a world leader in network use and literacy -- would have to adopt. Korea has since become a living lab of the impact of letting US entertainment giants design your Internet policy -- and the example that industry lobbyists point to when they discuss their goals.

One of the laws that Korea adopted early was the infamous "three strikes" rule, where repeated, unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement leads to whole families being punished through restriction of, or disconnection from their Internet connections. Now the Korean National Human Rights Commission has examined the fallout from the country's three strikes rules, and called for its repeal due to high costs to wider Korean society.

Here's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Danny O'Brien with more:

The entertainment industry has repeatedly pointed to South Korea as a model for a controlled Internet that should be adopted everywhere else. In the wake of South Korea's implementation, graduated response laws have been passed in France and the United Kingdom, and ISPs in the United States have voluntarily accepted a similar scheme.

But back in Korea, the entertainment industry's experiment in Internet enforcement has been a failure. Instead of tackling a few "heavy uploaders" involved in large scale infringement, the law has spiraled out of control. It has now distributed nearly half a million takedown notices, and led to the closing down of 408 Korean Internet users' web accounts, most of which were online storage services. An investigation led by the Korean politician Choi Jae-Cheon showed that half of those suspended were involved in infringement of material that would cost less than 90 U.S. cents. And while the bill's backers claimed it would reduce piracy, detected infringement has only increased as more and more users are subject to suspensions, deletion, and blocked content.

This Wednesday, Korea's National Human Rights Commission recommended that the three strikes law be re-examined, given its unclear benefits, and its potential violation of the human rights to receive and impart information and to participate in the cultural life of the community.

Korea's three strikes rules are similar to the "Six Strikes" rules that America's leading ISPs have voluntarily adopted and just put into effect. If you want to see the future of American Internet policy, and its fallout, look at Korea.

Korean Lawmakers and Human Rights Experts Challenge Three Strikes Law

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Eun is a Mac Guy

As Anthony DeRosa of Reuters points out, Li'l Kim appears to be using Apple computer products in the most recent round of state propaganda photo campaign. Stop laughing, says The Atlantic.

Caturday

"That's the stuff: Ralph The Cat," a photo by Darren Sethe of Portland, Oregon, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr pool.

Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," depicted in crayon

Boing Boing reader @ayleph tweeted at us: "Fleetwood Mac's Rumors album cover, depicted in crayon. Found at Sonic Boom in Ballard." [that's Seattle, WA]. Click pic to grande-fy.

UFO memo the FBI's most viewed

An unconfirmed report of a UFO over New Mexico is the most popular item in the FBI's online reading room, the agency reports. Russell Contreras with the AP:

Vaguely written, the memo describes a story told by an unnamed third party who claims an Air Force investigator reported that three flying saucers were recovered in New Mexico, though the memo doesn't say exactly where in the state. The FBI indexed the report for its files but did not investigate further; the name of an "infomant" reporting some of the information is blacked out in the memo.

Mr Unpronounceable Adventures, spectacularly weird graphic novel in a Lovecraftian/Burroughsian vein


Mr Unpronounceable Adventures is a book of comics by Australian New Zealand surrealist artist Tim Molloy in a Lovecraftian vein. But that only scratches the surface here. Molloy is incredibly fucking weird, and not always in a funny-ha-ha way (though there's plenty of that). The story loops around and around, almost making sense, almost following a narrative, returning to themes, to iconic panels, full of menace and hectic hilarity. It's really good. It's really strange.

Here's what the publisher says about it:

Read the rest

Fake penis fails drug test

Police in St Louis charged 34-year-old Sydney Levin with using an artificial penis, the Whizzinator, to complete a urine test. The Whizzinator's been helping idiots get busted—including its creators—since 2005.

KISS/Hello Kitty TV show in development


2010's KISS x Hello Kitty clothing line has spawned a TV show about a Hello Kitty rock band that dresses in KISS makeup:

Yes, I'm serious: Kiss Hello Kitty (working title) is now in development, and it's based on this line of Kiss x Hello Kitty products, which made its debut in 2010. The show will feature "four Kiss x Hello Kitty characters living their rock 'n' roll dreams and bringing pink anarchy to every situation they are in."

Kiss' Gene Simmons is slated to be one of the executive producers, and the band sounds pretty pumped about the project. Says Paul Stanley: "Knowing and viewing The Hub as I do daily with my three children, it is the perfect home for us to bring the Kiss Hello Kitty juggernaut to yet another generation."

You heard it here first, folks. I'll keep you posted on when the series will make its debut.

So, on the one hand, this is a delightfully weird popculture trainwreck. On the other hand, Gene Simmons is a misogynist asshole, and I can't get all that enthusiastic about his executive producer role in an entertainment project aimed at little girls.

Exclusive: Hello Kitty and Kiss team up for a TV series [USA Today/Whitney Matheson]

(Thanks, Prezombie!)

Maine Zumba instructor pleads guilty to prostitution charges

A Zumba aerobics dance instructor who ran a prostitution business on the side (while collecting welfare assistance) pleaded guilty in a Portland, ME court today. Alexis Wright's male business partner has been convicted of co-running the sex business with her. The plea deal means there will be no trial in which jurors would have had to sit through video the small-town sex worker secretly shot of her sex acts with johns. Prosecutors will recommend 10 months in prison for her, 20 days in jail for her partner.

CBS News: "There was plenty of electronic evidence, because the two kept in touch via text and email and because Wright videotaped the clients and Strong watched live via Skype. Videos showed them speaking openly of ledgers, payments and scheduling."

(Reuters, CBS; thumbnail: Portland Press Herald, John Ewing)

Little Mermaid tights


Hot Topic seems to have borrowed a trick from Australian pop-culture leggings favorite Black Milk with a line of Disney-licensed Little Mermaid full-print tights. Hot Topic's version costs about 75 percent less than the Black Milk stuff (and no shipping or duty for US buyers) -- though I have no idea whether they're comparable in terms of wear, fit, or the labor conditions in their manufacture (Black Milk makes its wares in Australia; Hot Topic doesn't say where its stuff is made on the site, which almost certainly means Pacific Rim/subcontinental sweatshop).

Ariel leggings

Ursula leggings

(via The Mary Sue)

Group whose Wikipedia entry was deleted for non-notability threatens lawsuit against Wikipedian who participated in the discussion

Benjamin Mako Hill writes, "Last year, I participated in a discussion on Wikipedia that led to the deletion of an article about the "Institute for Cultural Diplomacy." Because I edit Wikipedia using my real name, the ICD was able to track me down. Over the last month or so, they threated me with legal action and have now gotten their lawyers involved. I've documented the whole sad saga on my blog. I think the issue raises some important concerns about Wikipedia in general."

Donfried has made it very clear that his organization really wants a Wikipedia article and that they believe they are being damaged without one. But the fact that he wants one doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s policies mean he should have one. Anonymous editors in Berlin and in unknown locations have made it clear that they really want a Wikipedia article about the ICD that does not include criticism. Not only do Wikipedia’s policies and principles not guarantee them this, Wikipedia might be hurt as a project when this happens.

The ICD claims to want to foster open dialogue and criticism. I think they sound like a pretty nice group working toward issues I care about personally. I wish them success.

But there seems to be a disconnect between their goals and the actions of both their leader and proponents. Because I used my real name and was skeptical about the organization on discussion pages on Wikipedia, I was tracked down and threatened. Donfried insinuated that I was motivated to “sabotage” his organization and threatened legal action if I do not answer his questions. The timing of his first letter — the day after the ICD page was recreated — means that I was unwilling to act on my commitment to Wikipedia and its policies.

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and Wikipedia

ATM skimming comes to non-ATM payment terminals in train stations, etc


ATM skimming isn't limited to ATMs! There are lots of terminals that ask you to swipe your card and/or enter a PIN, and many of them are less well-armored and -policed than actual cashpoints. Skimmers have been found on train-ticket machines, parking meters and other payment terminals. Once a crook has got your card number and sign-on data, they can use that to raid a your account at an ATM. Brian Krebs has a look at some of these devices, including a full-on fascia for a cheapie ATM discovered in latinamerica.


The organization also is tracking a skimming trend reported by three countries (mainly in Latin America) in which thieves are fabricating fake ATM fascias and placing them over genuine ATMs, like the one pictured below. After entering their PIN, cardholders see an ‘out-of-order’ message. EAST said the fake fascias include working screens so that this type of message can be displayed. The card details are compromised by a skimming device hidden inside the fake fascia, and the PINs are captured via the built-in keypad, which overlays the real keypad underneath.

This reminds me a little of the evolution of payphones -- the armadillos of the device world! -- and the look-alike COCOTS (customer-owned coin-operated telephones) that presented very soft targets if you could scry through their camouflage.

Cash Claws, Fake Fascias & Tampered Tickets

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford about to lose his job coaching high-school football?

Critics of Rob Ford, Toronto's laughable bumblefuck of a mayor, will tell you that at least he's good at teaching high-school football (maybe the only thing he truly enjoys). So it's newsworthy that the schools for which he coaches are considering firing him, and he won't show up to meetings to discuss his misconduct.

The school board is examining a Sun interview in which Ford made disparaging comments about the school community that have been called inaccurate by the board, parent council members, teachers and even one of Ford’s assistant coaches. The mayor asserted that Don Bosco players come from “broken homes” and would be dead or in jail if not for football.

Some parents have called for Ford’s removal.

“We haven’t made any decision whatsoever,” board spokesman John Yan said Thursday. “We’re trying to meet with the mayor, because we have to have an opportunity as part of the process to discuss his comments.

“Part of that process is for Mr. Ford to provide us with either with an explanation or a commentary on what transpired on the March 1 interview.

Rob Ford: Mayor cancels meeting with Toronto Catholic board to discuss his coaching future (Thanks, Gord!)

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Interview with Wrong director Quentin Dupieux

The following is a sponsored post:

There’s nothing quite right about this hilariously delirious clip from Wrong, which hits theaters throughout the country this Friday and is already available on iTunes, featuring a suspicious gardner explaining the impossible overnight transformation of an everyday Californian palm tree to an evergreen. Its one of the many, many things wrong with Wrong from director Quentin Dupieux.

After directing just a mere handful of features, Dupieux (aka international electro-musician Mr. Oizo) has already established himself as one of the modern cinema’s foremost fearless surrealists who refuses to play by the rules. The Cannes Film Festival selected Rubber about a serial homicidal tire (yes, a car tire), the viral short and soon-to-be feature Wrong Cops starring Marilyn Manson and now his latest comedic brainbomb Wrong all seem to be constructs of the same wholly original and strange deadpan daymare. With a laser-sharp eye, a pranksterish wit and the airy rhythm of a ballet dancer, this filmmaker has zapped a fully-formed artistic vision into our collective space.

Wrong follows “Reno 911”’s Jack Plotnick after he loses his beloved dog and encounters a barrage of bizarro human roadblocks in his journey including a feces-hunting pet detective (Steve Little from "Eastbound And Down") and an ponytailed, face-scarred guru (a flat-out brilliant William Fichtner). This surreal comedy guides you through a fascinating and hallucinatory universe to which you’ll want to book repeat accommodations. In this interview, Dupieux chats about Wrong, his unique brand of nightmarish comedy, the construction an unconscious dimension and working with Plotnick.

Read the rest

A baby can be a funeral for a friendship

Photo: AlexSutula, Shutterstock

Jeff Simmermon, who writes funny essays and does funny standup, has a great new piece up on his blog.

Five of my friends have had babies in the last two weeks. The birth of a baby is supposed to be a happy thing, but it can also be a funeral for a friendship. It’s great that everyone I know is immediately, rapturously in love with their child, and I wouldn’t wish anything else for them. I see the joy and happiness that my sister and her husband feel now that my nephew is here, and I genuinely want everyone I care about to feel that, too. But it’s not like I stopped needing someone to hang out with, talk to, commiserate with about the crushing grind that is art and performance in NYC, get super baked on pot cookies and watch sci-fi flicks together.

Read the rest: Doin’ It All For A Baby That Can’t Love Me Back [andiamnotlying.com].

US Border Patrol uses horses to secure Mexican border

Erin Siegal

"Immigration enforcement and drug smuggling continue to be top priorities for the Department of Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol's budget has swelled accordingly, increasing from just $262,647 in 1990 to over $3.5 million dollars in the 2012 fiscal year," reports photojournalist Erin Siegal of ABC/Univision, in Mexico.

"They've added more agents, more technology, and higher fences.

But they've also got horses. "Coyotes" (human-smugglers) and narcotraffickers have moved further into mountain and desert terrain, in response to law enforcement's more aggressive patrolling of urban areas. And in remote areas, horses help.

Read the full essay (with photos) here. [ABC News]

Lessons learned from YouTube's $300M "Original Channel" fund

Hank was one of the recipients of the YouTube $300M "Original Channel" fund, and recounts some of his lessons learned:

* Spending more money to produce the same number of minutes of content does not increase viewership. Online video isn’t about how good it looks, it’s about how good it is.

* People who make online video are much better at making online video than people who make TV shows. This probably seems obvious to you (it certainly is to me) but it apparently was not obvious to the people originally distributing this money.

* When advertising agencies tell you they want something (higher quality content, long-form content, specific demographics, lean-back content, stuff that looks like tv) it’s not our job to attempt to deliver those things. In a world where the user really does get to choose, the content created to satisfy the needs and wants of viewers (not advertisers) will always reign supreme (thankfully.)

There's lots more there, but the tl;dr up there really nails it, and seems broadly applicable to other types of online creative endeavors.

Lessons Learned from YouTube’s $300M Hole (via Wil Wheaton)

Chocolate Bunny family (photo)

"Lindt Bunny Family," a photo shared in the Boing Boing Flickr pool by Paul J. "Leave them alone, and they multiply."

Bollywood Easter: Images of Christ in '70s poster art from India

My brother Carl Hamm (Twitter), who is a club and radio DJ and a collector of obscure but excellent global stuff, shares the images in this post and says:

Read the rest