The Saudi Marathon Man

A new crime, apparently: being brown while being bombed.

A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn’t alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in “a startling show of force,” as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a “phalanx” of officers and agents and two K9 units.

Earlier, our Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote about the science behind our tendency to blame the "other."

Homebrew Duck Hunt pinball table

Skit-B Pinball built this custom Duck Hunt pinball machine by modding a 1962 'Williams Valiant' table and hybridizing it with a PC to provide sound effects and other nifties. The project was a little break from Skit-B's main undertaking, a gonzo-awesome pinball adaptation of Predator.

(via Geekologie)

Fun quadcopter for kids

I bought Jane a $60 quadcopter from Banggood for her 10th birthday. One of the motor wires was broken on arrival so I had to solder it back on, and the battery charger was for a European power outlet so I broke it open and soldered on a US plug. Now it works and it's a lot of fun. It has a built in video camera, too!

It has two control modes. Mode 1 is the "beginner mode," which doesn't allow for tight turns. We like Mode 2, because it's actually easier to control. You can flip the captor 360 with the touch of a button on the transmitter, which Jane loves.

Here's a video of Jane flying it and me being paranoid that she's going to get it stuck in a tree. She ends up landing it in the street, and I say a naughty word.

Med Express uses broken Ohio law to silence critics who say true things

Are you a lawyer in Ohio? If so, your pro-bono services are urgently needed to defeat a trollish, bullying legal action from Med Express, a company that sells refurb medical equipment on eBay. The company is suing one of its customers for providing accurate, negative feedback on eBay's comment system, trying to establish a precedent that saying true things on the Internet should be illegal if it harms your business. They're relying on the fact that Ohio has no anti-SLAPP laws -- laws designed to protect people against the use of litigation threats to extort silence from critics -- and have admitted that, while they have no case, they believe that they can use the expense of dragging their victims into an Ohio court to win anyway. Ken from Popehat has more:

This is the ugly truth of the legal system: litigants and lawyers can manipulate it to impose huge expense on defendants no matter what the merits of their complaint. Censors can abuse the system to make true speech so expensive and risky that citizens will be silenced. Regrettably, Ohio does not have an anti-SLAPP statute, so Med Express and James Amodio can behave in this matter with relative impunity. If Ms. Nicholls has to incur ruinous legal expenses to vindicate her rights, the bad guys win, whatever the ultimate outcome of the case.

Unless, that is, you will help Amy Nicholls stand up — not for $1.44, but for the freedom to speak the truth without being abused by a broken legal system.

If you are an attorney practicing in Medina County, Ohio, please consider offering pro bono assistance. Mr. Levy will be coordinating assistance, and I can tell you from personal experience that it is a privilege to work with him. Help give Med Express and James Amodio the legal curb-stomping they so richly deserve. Justice, karma, and the esteem of free speech supporters everywhere will be your reward.

If you aren't an attorney, you can help, too. Med Express should not be permitted to act in this manner without consequence. The natural and probable consequence is widespread publication of their conduct. Help by publicizing the case on Facebook, Twitter, on your blog, on forums, and on every other venue available to you. Ask yourself — would you want to do business with a company that abuses the legal system to extract revenge against customers who leave truthful negative feedback?

The Popehat Signal: Stand Against Rank Thuggery In Ohio

Report: one of Boston Marathon bombs possibly made from kitchen pressure cooker

LA Times: "Investigators believe at least one of the two bombs in Boston was made with a pressure cooker, according to law enforcement and intelligence officials." MSNBC: Authorities have recovered forensic evidence that leads them to tentatively conclude the bombs "consisted of an explosive and shrapnel -- BBs and pieces of nails -- packed inside a pressure cooker," then hidden in a backpack. Boston Globe: a circuit board was found near the blasts.

Deadly poison ricin detected in Senate mail

Politico: "An envelope sent to the U.S. Senate office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) included a substance that has tested positive for Ricin, two sources say." A suspect has been identified.

Weird 1972 experiment in marijuana use

Cannabis News: "In the winter of 1972, 20 young women took part in one of the weirdest scientific experiments in this country’s history. For 98 days in a downtown Toronto hospital, their brains, hearts, kidneys, livers, blood and urine were rigorously tested and analyzed. A team of nurses kept round-the-clock records of their behaviour, logged at half-hour intervals. Just how was marijuana affecting the 10 who had to smoke it every day? Forty-one years later, these women are still wondering what exactly happened to them during their three-month stretch as human guinea pigs."

The secret history of a hidden mural at a Los Angeles hotel

The website Mosaic Art Now has a fun story about a tile mosaic of an oil refinery that was discovered behind some wood paneling at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles.

In May 2012, when the renowned Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles was slated to close its doors for good, the owners ran a huge liquidation sale—the entire contents of the hotel went up for grabs. The hotel changed hands over the years, originally the Statler—then Statler-Hilton, then Omni, and finally the Wilshire Grand— remained one of the “see and be-seen” hotspots of the midcentury atomic age.

During the clearance sale, a puzzling discovery was made: a fifteen-foot mosaic mural commissioned by The Los Angeles Petroleum Club was found behind some old wood paneling. The Club had at one time maintained a posh member’s suite at the hotel. This is where the intrigue and mosaic sleuthing begins.

Black Gold: Thar’s Oil In Them Thar Walls (Thanks, Mister Jalopy!)

"Radium Age" science fiction novel with new intro by Erik Davis: The Night Land

Our friend Joshua Glenn, publisher of HiLoBooks says, "I'm thrilled to announce that the HiLoBooks edition of William Hope Hodgson's 1912 dying-earth novel The Night Land, with an introduction by Erik Davis, is available in bookstores and via Amazon. 'One of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written,' claimed H.P. Lovecraft, in 1927; China Miéville agrees, in his 2013 blurb for HiLoBooks: 'A mutant vision like nothing else there has ever been.'"

In the far future, an unnamed narrator, who along with what remains of the human race, dwells uneasily in an underground fortress-city surrounded by brooding, chaotic, relentless Watching Things, Silent Ones, Hounds, Giants, "Ab-humans," Brutes, and enormous slugs and spiders, follows a telepathic distress signal into the unfathomable darkness.

The Earth's surface is frozen, and what's worse — at some point in the distant past, overreaching scientists breached "the Barrier of Life" that separates our dimension from one populated by "monstrosities and Forces" who have sought humankind's destruction ever since. Armed only with a lightsaber-esque weapon called a Diskos, and fortified only by his sense of Honor, our hero braves every sort of terror en route to rescue a woman he loves but has never met.

Hodgson wrote in an archaic style that adds to the story's ever-mounting sense of uncanny anxiety. HiLoBooks' edition of his novel omits two sections which have until now prevented it from reaching a wider audience: the tale's romantic prefatory conceit and its lengthy, relatively uneventful dénouement. Our otherwise unabridged version begins and ends with the most dramatic moments in this epic tale: chapters Two and Eleven.

The Night Land

Comic book panels taken out of context

Panels 2 Ponder is a website that presents comic book panels taken out of their context, likely making them more enjoyable than the source material.

Microplane professional extra coarse grater

This cheese grater has become essential in my kitchen. It won’t take up extra space and grates better than any others I’ve owned. Cheeses ranging in hardness from Parmesan to mozzarella transform almost effortlessly into shreds perfect for nachos or pizza. Though I have a food processor with a cheese grater attachment that works well, I prefer using the Microplane grater since it’s quick, doesn’t crumble the cheese, and is a breeze to clean up.

While there is just one grating surface, I don’t miss the others that were on the Kitchen-Aid box grater I had before the Microplane grater. I also own the Microplane zester/grater, and find that the two sizes are all I need. Even together, they take up much less space in my kitchen than a box grater.

Made entirely of stainless steel, the grater features 35 extra-sharp cutting blades. Fortunately, it comes with a plastic guard for when it’s not in use. I’ve owned this grater for almost two years, and even with almost daily use, it’s still incredibly sharp. -- Abbie Stillie

Professional Extra Coarse Grater $22

Congressional Research Service says states can legalize cannabis

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is part of the Library of Congress, and it provides "policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation." This month the CRS issued a report that says Colorado and Washington (where cannabis is legal, according to state laws) can't be coerced to enforcing federal cannabis laws. "While the federal government can ban what it wants," reports Reason, "the Tenth Amendment allows the states to opt out of participating in the law or assisting in enforcement in any way, leaving federal officials to do the heavy lifting themselves." From the report, State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Selected Legal Issues:

Although the federal government may use its power of the purse to encourage states to adopt certain criminal laws, the federal government is limited in its ability to directly influence state policy by the Tenth Amendment, which prevents the federal government from directing states to enact specific legislation, or requiring state officials to enforce federal law. As such, the fact that the federal government has criminalized conduct does not mean that the state, in turn, must also criminalize or prosecute that same conduct.

States Can Legalize Marijuana (Though Federal Laws Stand), Says Congressional Research Service

(Image: Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cannabisculture's photostream)

Copyright enforcement as the New Prohibition: Andy Baio's speech on fair use

Andy Baio's "The New Prohibition" is a speech given at a Creative Mornings/Portland event, expanding on his must-read "No Copyright Intended" post, about the way that the complexity of copyright and fair use effectively criminalizes a whole generation of creators. Baio documents his own experience of being bullied into giving $35K to a photographer rather than spend a decade and hundreds of thousands of dollars proving that his limited-run, 8-bit remix of a photo was fair use, and makes some practical suggestions for what a modern fair use should look like, if it is to preserve the new, networked creativity.

The New Prohibition

If you see something, say something: Liveblogging from a lecture about terrorism, security, and visual narratives

When bombs explode in a crowded city street, individuals and governments naturally ask themselves, "Could we have prevented this if we had been paying better attention to people and things that were out of place?" Trouble is, that question leads to a whole cascade of other questions — covering everything from personal privacy to racism.

M. Neelika Jayawardane is associate professor of English at SUNY-Oswego. She's giving a talk this afternoon on "If you see something, say something" and other campaigns aimed at getting average people involved in public security. I happened to be here on campus for a separate speaking engagement and thought this was something that BoingBoing readers would be interested in "sitting in" on, given the recent tragedy in Boston.

I'll be liveblogging this, updating regularly with key points and ideas from Jayawardane's talk. It's worth noting that her perspective is not the only way to think about these issues. I'm posting this in hopes that it will present some interesting information and spark good conversations. If you're interested in engaging with Jayawardane afterwards, she said that you can reach her via Twitter. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing what she has to say — and what you all have to say about that.

Read the rest

Samsung had to pay people to trash-talk HTC phones?

Samsung paid sockpuppeteers to criticize rival products online, it is alleged in Taiwan. A subsidiary reported on its facebook page that it had "ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments". [BBC]