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Tetrisoid slot sofa

Designer Matthew Pauk's "Slot Sofa" is pure doctrovian catnip -- a marvel of kentucky. Basically, I want to live in a Pullman car.

Slot is a dynamic furniture piece. The sofa system finds new value and diverse functionality by blending the sofa, coffee table, and ottoman. It utilizes the common constructional gaps found between the cushions of the sofa by converting them into tracks for which the table can slide in and out. When slotted, the table acts as a console. When freed, it acts as a coffee table. The magnetically retained sofa cushions always find and keep their optimal position either atop the table for an ottoman or below for a coffee table. Slot features traditional construction with textile upholstery and finished bent plywood.

Slot Sofa (via OhGizmo)

Impact of Manning case on media: "Death to Whistleblowers?"

"If successful, the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment. Anyone who holds freedom of the press dear should shudder at the threat that the prosecution’s theory presents to journalists, their sources and the public that relies on them." Floyd Abrams and Yochai Benkler, in a NYT op-ed published today.

New moon

"C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS and new moon," a photo by Rob Pfile shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. "Stack of 14 images, 1/10s @ ISO1600 and f/4. canon 200 f/2.8L and canon 60D," Rob explains. "Got lucky with a break in the clouds. alignment with FFTAlignment script. workin' miracles again."

Song about Torontonians' dismal obsession with Canada Goose parkas

Torontonians are actually pretty well-dressed, but not in winter. In winter, everyone wears awful, identical Canada Goose parkas. This has made John R. so mentally distressed that he's actually made a rap video about the dismal state of affairs, with a video illustrating the problem:

Everyone in T-Dot wears the same damn coat
Is it cheap? Nope!
800 bucks, it’s Canuck
Goose Goose Goose Goose Goose Goose Duck
It’s a shopping spree
on the TTC
newscasters on TV
Why you asking me
if this coat was free?
I need it for extreme conditions in my SUV
Heat only goes to 3
This setting takes forever to warm my knees.

Everyone in Toronto Wears the Same Damn Coat

Cord-cutting wisdom from Nielsen to TV execs

"Oh, don't worry about those people who have found something better and who are dropping your service in six figure chunks each quarter. We'll just observe them and be ready to act later." -Mike Masnick

Why are we curious?

Another great ramble from the always-fascinating Venkatesh Rao entitled "The Dead-Curious Cat and the Joyless Immortal," considers several explanations for our species' curiosity, and asks whether our weird, ubiquitous artificial life-forms (corporations) share this trait, and why:

Alone among the curious animals (though this seems like a conceit that more research might invalidate), we seem to be curious about clearly useless things. Or at least, things that have no obvious and immediate use. Humans seem to frequently poke at things that yield returns, if at all, only generations later. And often in ways unsuspected by those who do the poking.

We stare at the stars, we peer through microscopes, we climb mountains and we dive to the ocean floor.

This behavior, so natural to humans, is incomprehensible to human organizations. So things like space programs or other pure curiosity driven efforts have to be justified by politicians on the basis of “will improve life here on earth through the discovery of new materials and advances in medicine.” This is probably the mother of all idiotic fictions. Fortunately, we don’t seem to require our institutional fictions to be credible. Merely sufficient to stop conversations we don’t want to have.

There is an interesting symmetry here. Organizations naturally try to avoid pain — the pain of business model obsolescence or national decline for instance – through institutionalized “curiosity.” They find joy-seeking unnatural and in need of justification (hence the paradoxical notions of “efficient” innovation with high “yield” or “impact” and the relentless war on waste).

This has even been turned into a depressingly banal formula for innovation: what pain are you seeking to relieve?

For humans the reverse is true. Curiosity driven by pain-aversion is unnatural, but curiosity driven by joy-seeking is natural and requires no further explanation. Efficiency is the last thing on our minds when we are being curious. The concept does not even apply: efficiency pre-supposes a goal. Waste is pain in the efficient pursuit of goals.

The Dead-Curious Cat and the Joyless Immortal

In case you missed: Bradley Manning has a voice

The Freedom of the Press Foundation (of which I'm a board member) this week released surreptitiously recorded audio leaked from the Bradley Manning military pre-court martial hearing at Fort Meade. For the first time, you can now hear Manning's statement in his own voice. I do not know who recorded it or leaked it, but I do know that it is significant. If you haven't listened, you should, no matter whether you believe what Manning did was right or wrong.

In a statement responding to the leaked audio, the US Army said, "The US Army Military District of Washington has notified the military judge presiding over the United States vs. Pfc Bradley Manning court-martial that there was a violation of the Rules for Court. The US Army is currently reviewing the procedures set in place to safeguard the security and integrity of the legal proceedings, and ensure Pfc Manning receives a fair and impartial trial."

tl;dr: To ensure justice, we must keep the trial secret.

Read the rest

Arming Sisters: a crowdfunded campaign to teach indigenous women self-defense skills

Arming Sisters is described as a "crowdfunded project on a mission to bring compact self-defense courses" to indigenous women, "arming them to fight back."

Here in the US and Canada, native females are targeted with sexual violence at a far greater percentage than the rest of the population. One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime.

More about the project at, and follow its founder Patricia Stein on Twitter: @PygmySioux. There's a CBC article here about her self-defense training, and her work in Egypt with Tahrir Bodyguard [Twitter, Facebook], a group that organized to keep female protesters in Tahrir Square safer from sexual political attacks.

(HT: @somebadideas)

Daniel Kraus's horror masterpiece Scowler audiobook

Yesterday, I reviewed Daniel Kraus's spectacular and terrifying horror novel Scowler. It turns out that Random House Audio has produced an audiobook version read by Kirby Heyborne (who also reads the audio edition of Little Brother), and they sell it as a DRM-free CDs direct from their site (a welcome alternative to Audible/iTunes, which requires DRM for audiobooks even when the publisher and writer object).

Read the rest

Obama intel chief's memo outlines new steps to deter leaks, including beefing up lie detector questionnaires

Jason Leopold at Truthout: "A memo sent to more than a dozen government agencies by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says a question added to lie detector tests will help deter leaks to the media." Yep. That'll do it.

Bellagio offers all-you-can-eat caviar

The Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet arms-race has gone thermonuclear: for $37.99, the Bellagio will give you access to its all-you-can-eat caviar buffet, offering "the world’s finest caviars Ikura and Tobiko."

Although buffets are all you can eat, the chefs recommend that customers take the caviar in small bites. To help novices, the chefs serve an appropriate amount on blinis and mini-waffles with traditional accompaniments such as chopped egg, red onions, chives or creme fraiche.

"We do have some people who come up with a bowl and want us to fill it up," Ortiz said. "But we like to respect the integrity of the dish."

Bellagio introduces all-you-can-eat caviar for $37.99 [Ron Sylvester/Las Vegas Sun]

(via Super Punch)

(Image: downsized, cropped thumbnail from a larger photo by Ron Sylvester)

Ryan Heshka's Teenage Machine Age art exhibition

Here's a look at artist Ryan Heshka's latest exhibition, which opened in Milan on March 7.

“Teenage Machine Age”, Ryan Heshka’s second solo show at Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea (Milan, Italy), picks up where last year's show (”OURS”) left off.

Expanding both the size of the pieces and mediums used, Heshka continues his exploration of dreamy scenes and hazy fictional memories, mixing in vague hints of universal themes. The use and abuse of technology; humankind’s mad race to outdistance boredom; the interweaving of the designed versus natural environment; commercialism gone mad… all find their way into primary-colored paintings.

Read the rest

The other other pope

Not happy with the election of Pope Francis (who looks either like Grumpy Cat or a Muppet, depending on the photo)? Then, perhaps, you can throw in your lot with Pope Michael I, who has ruled an offshoot, unofficial branch of the Catholic Church (which may, or may not, consist mostly of himself and his mother) from his living room in Delia, Kansas since 1990.

New pope is a grumpy cat


The new pope has been chosen. Image above from Jonathan Koshi.

MD used "silicone fingers" to trick biometric time clock on colleagues' behalf

NewImageBrazilian doctor Thaune Nunes Ferreira, 29, was arrested for fraud for allegedly covering up her colleagues' absence from work by using prosthetic fingers to sign them in on a biometric time clock at the hospital near Sao Paulo. According to the BBC, "police said she had six silicone fingers with her at the time of her arrest, three of which have already been identified as bearing the fingerprints of co-workers." Ferreira's attorney claims "she was forced into the fraud as she faced losing her job." (BBC News)

Boxer announces he's coming over to his Twitter-troll's house "for a beer"

A Twitter troll called @jimmyob88 sent a series of vile, taunting messages to professional boxer @woodhousecurtis, calling him lots of rotten names. Woodhouse tweeted back that he'd found out the Internet Tough Guy's home address and was headed over to his house "for a brew." After a series of "I'm getting closer" tweets, the troll had a change of heart and tweeted, "Didnt think you would be bothered thought you would take them as a joke" and "i am in the wrong i accept that." Apparently, it ended there. (via Techdirt)

Apps for Kids listener survey

Apps for Kids is Boing Boing's podcast that has one short review of an application that's fun for kids and parents. It's been on hiatus while my co-host finishes up with a series of grueling 4th grade book reports, but we are planning our big comeback. As part of that, our podcast service provider, LibSyn/Wizzard, is lining up show sponsors. If you are a listener of Apps for Kids, I would appreciate it if you could fill out this survey.

The unfortunate, awkward world of octopus sex

As if it's not bad enough that there's always a risk of any social interaction turning into cannibalism, the sex lives of octopuses are further complicated by the fact that both males and females die not too long after the first time they get laid. Males only survive a few months. Females stick around long enough for their eggs to hatch, and then die soon after.

And then, of course, there's the indignity of the local aquarium scheduling your mating for Valentine's Day, in front of a crowd, and putting a video of the whole thing up on the Internet.

Sorry, octopuses.

Read more about octopus reproduction in this piece by Katherine Harmon at The Octopus Chronicles.

Lake Vostok bacteria: It's something new. No, it's not. Yes, it is, maybe.

Let's just play this safe and assume that, until more samples have been collected and detailed DNA analysis has been done, the real answer to the question, "Is bacteria found in Antarctica's Lake Vostok actually new to science or just contamination from the drilling?" is "We don't really know." This is a great example of why making scientific pronouncements from the field, before you've had time to do the really in-depth analysis that goes into writing a peer-reviewed research paper, can be problematic. Right now, you've got different camps of researchers making totally contradictory claims. Who is right is, so far, anybody's guess.

Aaron Swartz's unfinished monograph on the "programmable Web"

Michael B. Morgan, CEO of Morgan & Claypool Publishers, writes:

In 2009, we invited Aaron Swartz to contribute a short work to our series on Web Engineering (now The Semantic Web: Theory and Technology). He produced a draft of about 40 pages -- a "first version" to be extended later -- which unfortunately never happened.

After his death in January, we decided (with his family's blessing) that it would be a good idea to publish this work so people could read his ideas about programming the Web, his ambivalence about different aspects of Semantic Web technology, his thoughts on Openness, and more.

As a tribute to Aaron, we have posted his work on our site as a free PDF download. It is licensed under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA-NC) license. The work stands as originally written, with only a few typographical errors corrected to improve readability.

Aaron Swartz's A Programmable Web: An Unfinished Work

Aaron Swartz’s A Programmable Web: An Unfinished Work (PDF)

(Thanks, Michael!)

Adrian Younge on NPR's Fresh Air

Hip-hop, soul, and Morricone-inspired composer/producer Adrian Younge, creator of 2011's excellent "Something About April" LP and the 2009 soundtrack to Black Dynamite, is back with two new collaborative albums: Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics and Twelve Reasons to Die With Ghostface Killah. Above is the video for "Stop and Look (And You Have Found Love)" from the Younge/Delfonics release. Younge was on NPR's Fresh Air yesterday. It's worth listening to even if for no other reason than to hear Terry Gross say "Ghosface Killah." Adrian Younge: Looking Back To Move Hip-Hop Forward (Thanks, Sarah Smith!)

Analysis of hot-coffee powered iPhone charger

The Ephiphany One Puck looks like a hockey puck with a USB cable. It's got a Stirling Engine inside that operates on the temperature difference between a hot or cold drink placed on top of it and the ambient temperature. Can it really charge an iPhone?

Edward Vogel has looked into it and posted his analysis in the comments section of the Kickstarter campaign. It sounds like it's more of a fun curiosity than a practical device. UPDATE: Edward adds, "I do still think the device is 'practical' in the sense that it would conceivably 'capture' waste heat throughout the day and act as a charger when its internal battery is charged. If the price came down to $50 and did the same thing my $20 'extra' battery does along with the waste heat recovery thing. That would be practical."

The Carnot efficiency is about 8%.

The calculator I used includes working gas shuttle losses and other considerations. To really get 5 Watts out of the engine it would require a heat source of ~ 100 Watts. This is not what a single cup of coffee is going to provide however this still can work because (The Epiphany dude has some comments further down that "explain" some operating requirements):

1. You use as a coffee coaster it throughout the day and it charges a battery the puck's internal battery.

2. Use could use a tea candle if you really want some serious 5 Watts capability

3. My own thought - they will also charge the battery by motion activation from walking like a motion powered watch

My impression is (I am buying one) is that this product will not charge your phone directly from the energy of a single cup of coffee but it will largely be recharging from via the battery pack. It will be doing something cool whenever you plug it into a smart phone that you can view with an app. It is kind of like having a model LTD (low temperature difference) Stirling engine as a science demo/toy but this one you can take with you and demonstrate/experiment with thermodynamics.

Anaysis of Epiphany One Puck

Hand-shaped iPhone "case"


The Hand iPhone Case is totally impractical and not really a case. But it's absolutely fantastic! You can choose between an adult or child-sized hand. (via Gadget Lab)

Win a lobster in classic lobster claw game

We've all played one of those arcade "claw" games where a mechanical lobster claw is rigged to let go of prizes. But have you ever played with the prizes being live lobsters? [The Atlantic]

Dennis Rodman's pick for pope

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has chosen Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson (of "in Africa homosexuality is not countenanced" fame) as the next pope, reports the AP. Previously.

Farmers should make house-calls

John Robb wants us to stop landscaping our lawns, and start foodscaping them -- growing food for our families. And he thinks the way to jumpstart it is for farmers to make house-calls. I love this idea, but don't think I could participate in it: when we applied to Hackney Council in London for permission to add a greenhouse frame to our balcony they rejected it because it would "interrupt the vertical rhythm" of our building. As far as I can tell, "vertical rhythm" is an imaginary aesthetic quality that is more important than real food.

Of course, since most people in the developed world don’t know how to grow food anymore and many of the methods and tools used to grow high quality food are still being developed, we are going to need to some help.

One great way to do that is to join a local foodscaping program.

This type of program is like a food subscription at a CSA. However, in this program, the farmer comes to you. He/she converts your yard into a high performance garden and teaches you how to garden it successfully.

I think that if we are smart, we’ll be spending more money on foodscaping in ten years than landscaping. If so, good food will be available everywhere.

What if Farmers made House Calls?

Portable organ, radio, phonograph from 1976


From the @boingboing Instagram feed, my snap of a Silver Star ORP-1803 organ, radio, phonograph (c.1976) at Groove Merchant, SF.

Dog saved after eating 111 pennies

Jack, a 13-year-old Jack Russell, is recovering after an operation to remove the $1.11 in pennies that he had eaten. [NY Daily News]

British advertising watchdog dismisses complaint over "killer" ad

An advertisement for sleazy clothing retailer Asos showed a man, the "Asossin", crushing another with Christmas decorations, pushing a radio into an occupied bathtub, and trapping a woman in a chest freezer. This generated complaints to the authorities, but they have not been upheld.

Irish flags OK again in Florida

The idiots who run Atlantic Beach, Florida, banned the flying of non-US flags, and even cited a Greek restaurant for displaying one. They have been told. [Reuters]