Boing Boing 

Pug rings

Hannah sez, "I've just recently finished working on a series of pugs in costumes They all turned out to resemble somebody. One looks just like the Queen, one like Hercule Poirot and one very much like a geek with classic, horn-rimmed glasses. In fact, he turned out to look very much like an editor of Boing Boing... Not very flattering but who doesn't want to know how they would look like as a pug?"

Pugs Rings (Thanks, Hannah!)

RIP, John Paul Miller, a genius goldsmith and creator of many lovely gold crustaceans

David sez, "A quiet genius, jeweler John Paul Miller, recently passed away and a memorial service was held this past weekend in Cleveland. His jewelery is beautifully detailed and I thought the Boing Boing audience would enjoy his take [Google Image Search] on crustaceans and insects."

Yet the relative paucity of attention given to Miller during his lifetime should not belie the intrinsic importance of his spectacular achievements as a designer and maker of gold jewelry.

Decorative arts curator Stephen Harrison of the Cleveland museum, who organized the smallish but extremely important show in 2010, compared Miller to Rene Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany, two giants of late-19th-century decorative art in France and America, respectively.

Goldsmith John Paul Miller, a national treasure, will go down in history as one of Cleveland's greatest artists [Steven Litt/The Plain Dealer]

(Thanks, David!)

One in hole

"One step onto the pocked section [of the golf course] and the 43-year-old mortgage broker plunged into a sinkhole." He survived.

(Thanks, Matthew!)

Why is the sky *any* color?

A nice video from PBS that explains why the sky has color.

Why is the sky blue? It's a question that you'd think kids have been asking for thousands of years, but it might not be that old at all. The ancient Greek poet Homer never used a word for blue in The Odyssey or The Iliad, because blue is one of the last colors that cultures pick out a word for.

In this episode, I'll tell you not only why the sky is blue, but why it's red at sunset. It turns out, those colors are all part of the same sunbeam. And when you're looking at a blue sky, you could be sharing a special moment with someone thousands of miles away. Next time a kid (or the kid inside you) wants to know why the sky is blue, you'll have science to back you up!

McDonald's price increases over the years

Rob Cockerham says: "Because I have pictures of every fast food franchise's Drive Thru menu from 2002, I was able to take new drive-thru menu photos and compare the prices and layout of the new with the old."

Documentary about skilled sign painters looks fantastic

Stendahl Syndrome alert! This trailer for a documentary about sign painters made me swoon.

There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade.

In 2010 Directors Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, with Cinematographer Travis Auclair, began documenting these dedicated practitioners, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship. Sign Painters, the first anecdotal history of the craft, features the stories of more than two dozen sign painters working in cities throughout the United States. The documentary and book profiles sign painters young and old, from the new vanguard working solo to collaborative shops such as San Francisco’s New Bohemia Signs and New York’s Colossal Media’s Sky High Murals.

Buy Sign Painters book

(Thanks, Matthew!)

Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble performs "Our Factory's Girls"

From North Korea's nonstop hit-making music machine: Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble - "Our Factory's Girls."

(Is there some kind of rule that says all music made in dictatorships shall be played on Hammond E-100 knockoffs?)

(Thanks, Brian!)

England My England: Anglophilia Explained - a new ebook by Mark Dery

Hot off the electron gun: England My England: Anglophilia Explained, a new ebook from our friend and frequent Boing Boing contributor, Mark Dery. It's published by Thought Catalog.

Downton Abbey has brought out the Anglophile in American fans of the hit TV series. But Anglophilia has a long history in America. Why are some native-born residents of our Shining City Upon a Hill, where All Men Are Created Equal, seduced by the fluting tones of manor-born privilege? At last, Anglophilia explained---in American, thank you.

England My England: Anglophilia Explained

Using clips from Ed Sullivan in Jersey Boys found to be fair use; judges award costs to deter future "chilling" copyright lawsuits

A Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has ruled that the producers of the musical "Jersey Boys" did not violate copyright law by using a clip from the Ed Sullivan Show in their production. They'd been sued by SOFA Entertainment, who holds the Sullivan Show rights. The judges awarded costs to the Jersey Boys production company, so SOFA will have to pay $155,000 in attorneys' fees and costs -- an award that the judges specifically stated was intended to "deter future lawsuits that might chill the creative endeavors of others."

Appellant SOFA Entertainment, Inc. claimed Dodger infringed its copyright in the clip and could not justify its unlicensed use of the clip as "fair use."

"SOFA is mistaken," said Circuit Judge Stephen S. Trott. "The defendants used the clip in Jersey Boys, their musical about the Four Seasons, to mark a historical point in the band's career. The panel held that this was a fair use because by using the clip for its historical significance, the defendants had imbued it with new meaning and had done so without usurping whatever demand there was for the original clip."

The district court viewed SOFA's infringement claim as "objectively unreasonable and determined that awarding fees would deter future lawsuits that might chill the creative endeavors of others."

Court Says Jersey Boys Producers Were Free to Use Copyrighted "Ed Sullivan" Clip in Show [Kenneth Jones/Playbill]

(Thanks, Dick!)

News article about pope selection and smoke puffs, annotated to make more sense

"I was reading this CNN article, and thought it needed some context."

[IMGUR via @rob_sheridan]

Mexican eco-terrorists declare war on nanotechnology, threaten scientists

Mexican scientists involved in bio- and nanotechnology have become death threat targets over the past two years. It's not the narcos who want them dead, but "a group of bomb-building eco-terrorists with the professed goal of destroying human civilization," reports Wired News. In a manifesto posted on anarchist blog Liberacion Total last month, Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje (ITS) took credit for a failed bombing attempt against one researcher, and promises to try again. [Danger Room |]

Japan extracts gas from methane hydrate, ‘Flammable Ice’

Hiroko Tabuchi at the Times reports that Japan has successfully extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate, also referred to as “flammable ice.” The breakthrough is hailed as a possible step "toward tapping a promising but still little-understood energy source." The extraction from a deep-sea bed hydrate reservoir is believed to have been the world's first, and "could provide an alternative source of energy to known oil and gas reserves." [NYT]

Conclave smoke: a mystery recipe

Guys, during the papal conclave in the Sistine Chapel, alternating puffs of black and white smoke emerge after the voting, "coming from a copper flue jutting from the chapel roof." But nobody outside the Chapel seems to know how those colors are created, and the New York Times is on it. Guesses range from damp straw to potassium chlorate. Papal Purple Nurple, or any other known strain of sweet-ass bud, is unfortunately not on the list. [NYT]

Mike Davis and Henry Lewis, contemporary surrealist painters



Mike Davis and Henry Lewis, two hyper-talented tattoo artists and painters from the Bay Area, are showing new works at San Francisco's Varnish Fine Art gallery. I've followed Mike's work since we knew each other in Cincinnati's underground art/music scene in the 1980s and even then, he had a masterful ability to express his psychedelic/surreal visions through a brush (and a guitar too). Above, Davis's "Evening Meal" (oil on wood, 37" x 52"). Right, Lewis's "Ryan" (oil, graphite, china marker, and enamel on birch, 51.5" x 27.5"). The exhibition, titled "Contemporary Surrealists," runs until April 13 and you can see the artworks online too.

Mike Davis & Henry Lewis: Contemporary Surrealists

Kickstarting a Victorian ghost movie starring puppets, with in-camera effects

Special effects artist Kevin McTurk has a fully subscribed kickstarter for The Mill at Calder's End, a Victorian ghost movie starring 30" puppets guided by pairs or trios of puppeteers all in black. The effects will be done in-camera,

The Mill at Calder's End is a gothic ghost story in the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft that will be told with 30 inch tall bunraku puppets and old fashioned in-camera special effects. Featuring the voices of Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, X-Men: First Class) and horror legend Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, The Pit and the Pendulum) , this film celebrates two of my great loves: the art of puppetry and gothic horror.

From my experience working as a special effects artist in Hollywood for over twenty years and now collaborating with some of the most talented creature effects artists, concept artists, and puppeteers in the industry, The Mill at Calder's End will be unlike any puppet film you have ever seen before.

The Mill at Calder's End is a passion project that is heavily influenced by the classic Hammer horror films of the 1960s and the films of Mario Bava (most notably, his gothic masterpiece Black Sunday). I have also always had a great love of puppetry and traditional in-camera special effects. The work of Jim Henson (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and his Storyteller television series) is a great inspiration to me and I am hoping to bring his sense of wonderment and artistry to The Mill at Calder's End.

The Mill at Calder's End - A Ghost Story Puppet Film by Kevin McTurk — Kickstarter (Thanks, Kevin!)

Amazing LEGO insects and arthropods


NewImageSean and Steph Mayo created an exquisite series of LEGO bugs for the "Creepy Crawly" category in the 2013 MocAthalon building competition. See them all in this Flickr set. (Thanks, Jake Dunagan!)

Get yourself a Clam bag

Clam Lynch is a wildly-creative artist and actor...and therefore terminally broke. He’s also a dad who is trying to raise enough cash to move from San Francisco to Utah to help his daughter Eloise get set up for college. He’s selling custom-printed and numbered tote bags to help finance their journey. Bids start at $20 for these fine-looking bags.

Read the rest

Video review of a strong cannabis derivative

WeedMaps (think Yelp for cannabis dispensaries) has been producing video reviews of cannabis and its derivatives. I enjoyed watching this video, in which a cannabis sommelier named Gil reviews "The Rapture," a cannabis wax (I'm not sure what a wax is, but The Rapture is almost 90% THC). It was fun to see the odd pipe Gil uses to sample the wax, and to hear him use weed-smokers' jargon, such as oil rig, nail, and dapper dabber tool.

The Upsetters' "Kung Fu Meets the Dragon" (1975)

The Upsetters' Kung Fu Meets the Dragon is a sublime 1975 dub masterpiece laden with Lee "Scratch" Perry's studio magick and a martial arts movie mindset. And it's now available from Sunspot Records on 180 gram double vinyl with bonus tracks! "Kung Fu Meets The Dragon" (via OMG Vinyl)

Video: water appears frozen in sine wave

A beautiful video of sound curiously affecting a stream of water, visible thanks to a camera recording at 24 frames-per-second. The speaker generates a 24 hz sine wave that vibrates the water while the camera recording at 24 fps make the stream appear to "freeze." (Thanks, Koshi!)

Russian bus driver enjoys punishing drivers who cut him off

Bus driver Alexei Volkov, aka "The Punisher," is famous in Russia for exacting revenge on the rude drivers in the city of Zelenograd by simply not slowing down when they cut him off. Volkov claims to have been involved in more than 100 accidents in his career and the clips from his dashcam.

(Via Lileks)

Why Tim Berners-Lee is wrong about DRM in HTML5

My latest Guardian column is "What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM," a response to the Web inventor's remarks about DRM during the Q&A at his SXSW talk last week.

Additionally, all DRM licence agreements come with a set of "robustness" rules that require manufacturers to design their equipment so that owners can't see what they're doing or modify them. That's to prevent device owners from reconfiguring their property to do forbidden things ("save to disk"), or ignore mandatory things ("check for regions").

Adding DRM to the HTML standard will have far-reaching effects that are incompatible with the W3C's most important policies, and with Berners-Lee's deeply held principles.

For example, the W3C has led the world's standards bodies in insisting that its standards are not encumbered by patents. Where W3C members hold patents that cover some part of a standard, they must promise to license them to all comers without burdensome conditions. But DRM requires patents or other licensable elements, for the sole purpose of adding burdensome conditions to browsers.

The first of these conditions – "robustness" against end-user modification – is a blanket ban on all free/open source software (free/open source software, by definition, can be modified by its users). That means that the two most popular browser technologies on the Web – WebKit (used in Chrome and Safari) and Gecko (used in Firefox and related browsers) – would be legally prohibited from implementing whatever "standard" the W3C emerges.

What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM

The Day My Grandfather Groucho and I Saved ‘You Bet Your Life’

“He’s right,” Jack Nicholson chimed in. “Groucho, that stuff is classic. Listen to your grandson. Let them send the reels to you.” Read the rest

NASA: in Martian soil, Mars rover finds conditions once suited for ancient life

These images compare rocks seen by NASA's Opportunity rover and Curiosity rover at two different parts of Mars. On the left is " Wopmay" rock, in Endurance Crater, Meridiani Planum, as studied by the Opportunity rover. On the right are the rocks of the "Sheepbed" unit in Yellowknife Bay, in Gale Crater, as seen by Curiosity. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS

Big news from NASA JPL this afternoon:
An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon -- some of the key chemical ingredients for life -- in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month. "A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."
More at the MSL mission website. [NASA]

Images from Cassini's final targeted flyby of Saturn's Moon Rhea

Carolyn Porco, who is the Cassini Imaging Team Leader and Director of CICLOPS in Boulder, CO, writes:

Cassini's very last targeted flyby of Saturn's moon, Rhea, occurred this past weekend, and images from that event are now on the ground and available for your discerning examination. Take a good, long, luxurious look at these sights from another world, as they will be the last close-ups you'll ever see of this particular moon.

Read the rest

Epic Key Changes: a CDZA music video experiment

"A KEY CHANGE: The best weapon to make any song that much more epic." Enjoy. [Video Link, more on CDZA]

BitTorrent Live: streaming video that gets easier to serve as more people watch it

Streaming video is one of the holy grails of torrent-style distribution systems, where everyone who requests a file from a server is directed to other downloaders who have already received pieces. This is a highly scalable architecture, since it means that the more people trying to download at once, the faster everyone's download becomes. But because the pieces arrive out of sequence, you have to wait until the file has been completely transferred before you can use it.

Now, BitTorrent has introduced a new "Live" service that is designed to allow for ready streaming of videos using the same underlying principle. This has enormous potential for disruption, as it lowers the barriers to entry for running your own YouTube-style service by several orders of magnitude. It's still a bit techy and hard-to-use, but that's only to be expected this early into the release cycle.

One of the goals of BitTorrent Live is to make it possible for the public to send video to thousands of people, all over the world. From dissidents reporting on uprisings to soccer moms who want to send video of a game to family and friends, everyone is included.

The main upside compared to centralized live streaming services is that BitTorrent Live won’t shut down or be interrupted when the audience becomes ‘too large’.

“Current offerings fail with large audiences but with BitTorrent Live every viewer that joins a swarm extends its reach by sharing pieces of the video to other viewers. It becomes more robust with larger audiences and there are no costs associated with the addition of users,” Knoll told us.

“We’re aiming for this to be a democratization of streaming technology,” he adds.

Viewing live streams requires people to install the BitTorrent Live app, which is used to share video with others who are watching. The install process is pretty straightforward and the streams we were able to check out worked fine.

BitTorrent Premieres New Live Streaming Platform [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]

College student plays piano while Billy Joel sings along

College student asks if he can play piano for Billy Joel and Joel says OK. The results are fabulous!

Preview of Peter Bagge's Other Stuff comics anthology

Here's a 20-page preview of Other Stuff, a 144-page anthology of Peter Bagge's collaborative comics, in which Bagge wrote scripts illustrated by Daniel Clowes, Gilbert Hernandez, Robert Crumb, Adrian Tomine, Johnny Ryan, and others.

Peter Bagge’s Other Stuff includes a few lesser-known Bagge characters, including the wacky modern party girl “Lovey” and the aging bobo “Shut-Ins” — not to mention the self-explanatory “Rock ‘N’ Roll Dad” starring Murry Wilson and the Beach Boys. But many of the strips are one-off gags or short stories, often with a contemporary satirical slant, including on-site reportage like “So Much Comedy, So Little Time” (from a comedy festival) and more. Also: Dick Cheney, The Matrix, and Alien!

Other Stuff also includes a series of Bagge-written stories drawn by other cartoonists, including “Life in These United States” with Daniel Clowes, “Shamrock Squid” with Adrian Tomine, and the one-two parody punch of “Caffy” (with art by R. Crumb) and “Dildobert” (with art by Prison Pit’s Johnny Ryan)… plus a highlight of the book, the hilarious, literate and intricate exposé of “Kool-Aid Man” written by Alan Moore and drawn by Bagge. (Other collaborators include the Hernandez Brothers and Danny Hellman.)

Peter Bagge's Other Stuff

(Via Comics Beat)

Read the rest

Porno-copyright trolls Prenda Law get hauled in front of a very angry judge

Popehat's Ken White attended a hearing in United States District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II's California courtroom. Judge Wright is the judge most likely to put a halt to the astounding shenanigans of the notorious porno-copyright trolls Prenda Law, who have been accused of lying to the court; blackmailing thousands of people with legal threats ("pay up or we'll file a lawsuit that will forever associate your name with pornography with an embarrassing title"); and, incredibly, stealing the identity of a humble caretaker and naming him the CEO of a semi-fictional company that allegedly hired the firm to make all those legal threats.

Judge Wright ordered all the parties to show up in his court yesterday -- the Prenda lawyers, the caretaker, defendants' lawyers, and more -- but not everyone obeyed his order. The main party in the courtroom was Brett Gibbs, a junior-seeming lawyer who appears to have been made bagman for a big con that he was only dimly aware of. White's writeup is somewhat sympathetic ("a young attorney out of his depth who fell in with the wrong crowd and made bad choices") but remember: he was a knowing part of a racket that terrorized thousands and thousands of people with what amounted to legal blackmail, where the demand came to "Guilty or innocent, you need to pay up or have your life ruined."

White is an excellent writer, and his account of the hearing is riveting. Now we're all waiting to hear what the judge's order will be. My guess is that it will go very badly for Prenda Law.

Brett Gibbs is in trouble. I buy him as a dupe here. Indeed, he admitted that "maybe" he felt duped. Yet though he pointed to Hansmeier and Steele as the decision-makers in this travesty, and disclaimed any knowledge of wrongdoing, he and his attorneys seemed oddly reluctant to throw Steele and Hansmeier all the way under the bus. It's more like he handed them a bus schedule and gave them a gentle shove in that general direction. Gibbs continued to argue that it wasn't clear until Cooper's testimony today that the Cooper signatures weren't genuine, a position that drew guffaws in the courtroom and an incredulous expression from Judge Wright. He and his attorneys seemed to want to suspend judgment about whether Prenda committed any misconduct at all -- a tactical error at this point, I think, and harmful to their credibility. The judge interrupted their closing arguing by asking pointedly whether a lawyer -- even if he is supervised by people out of state -- has an obligation to investigate facts himself. Ultimately, Judge Wright did not sound inclined to accept Gibbs' innocent stance.

Wright did not say, explicitly, what he would do about Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, or the rest of the Prenda Law team. But when Pietz began laboriously to explain the basis for jurisdiction over each of them, Wright cut him short, suggesting that he found the evidence clear. (So, for the record, did I, given the evidence of Steele's contacts with California, Steele's and Hansmeier's supervision of Gibbs in California, and Duffy's substitution into cases in California and membership in the California bar. Their lack-of-jurisdiction argument is borderline frivolous.) I suspect, based on his comments, that Judge Wright will not let the consequences of this situation rest entirely on Gibbs' shoulders. What could he do? He could probably sanction the Prenda Law parties under his inherent authority based on their supervision of Gibbs. But I suspect Judge Wright will go further than that, with criminal referrals and messages to various state bars. There could also be further orders to show cause, or even bench warrants. Judge Wright didn't seem inclined to give them warning. But every indication is that they are in real legal peril.

There's been a lot of anticipation of today's hearing. The hearing lived up to it. It was a disastrous day for Prenda Law.

Deep Dive Analysis: Brett Gibbs Gets His Day In Court -- But Prenda Law Is The Star