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Portable watermelon fridge

Tama-chan is a portable watermelon refrigerator on wheels. The Japanese device retails for 19,950 yen (about $200) and can handle watermelons or similarly shaped comestibles, such as poultry, roasts, or severed heads. The device itself weighs 6.3kg, and charges from a car lighter socket.

ポータブル温冷庫/The Portable Watermelon Fridge — Could It Be The Perfect Gift For The Person Who Has It All?

(via Digg)

Today is the anniversary of LSD inventor/discoverer Albert Hofman's death (*epilepsy warning)

TIP: mouseover to animate; don't mouseover if you have photosensitive epilepsy.

Five years ago today, the man who first synthesized Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) died at 102 years old. There's an informative Wikipedia article here, and the Albert Hofman Foundation website is here. The 5-year anniversary is the one where you take 5 tabs.

Hitler’s food-taster: "Every day we feared it would be our last meal"

"Margot Woelk was one of fifteen girls who spent two-and-a-half years testing Adolf Hitler’s all-veggie diet to make sure it wasn’t poisoned." When the Russians captured her (and the rest of the surviving food-taster girls), they raped her for two weeks. [barfblog]

How to barf in space

"How do you upchuck if there is no up or down? ISS commander Chris Hadfield explains what astronauts do if they have to vomit." More information on this very important skill for space travelers here.

Gold ring in the form of a dinosaur eating a chicken leg

Just what you always needed, but did not know until it existed, and it exists now: "A super detailed T-Rex eating fried chicken leg," which is available in dark oxidized silver or gold brass and sterling silver. Endorsed by Zach Galifianakis. Has crystal eyes (the ring, not Mr. Galifianakis). A hundred bucks. [ via @llaurappark]

How much time should you spend automating a routine task?

Today's XKCD really tickles me. "Is It Worth the Time?" is a handy chart showing how much time you can invest in automating any recurring task in order to save time, on balance, over five years. I am an inveterate automator of recurring task, always looking for ways to shave seconds.

On the other hand, I think I'd halve the figures Randy gives in this chart, because many of the routine tasks you automate will change in some significant way in less than five years and require further work. Also, the chart fails to account for the losses in innovation and serendipity you suffer when you over-optimize a routine task so that you effectively can only do it in one highly constrained way.

Finally, there's the opportunity cost of clearing a relatively scarce large block of time to spend on automation, which may be a better bargain than giving the task more time overall, where that time comes out of a pool of more abundant small snips of time.

In other words, a five day block of time given to automating a task might cost more (that is, might crowd out more productive work) than ten half-day blocks of time or 40 one-hour blocks.

Still: this is crack for me.

Is It Worth the Time?

What's big, corrupt, terrifying and worse than ACTA? TPP. Here we go again!

Remember ACTA, the terrifying, secret SOPA-on-steroids copyright treaty that the US government tried to ram down the world's throat? Well, it's back, only this time it's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it's limited (for now) to the Pacific Rim. The TPP negotiators are meeting (in secret, natch) in Peru to twirl their mustaches and cackle, and EFF has posted a great infographic summing up their nefarious plan (see the whole thing after the jump):

The TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law to Pacific Rim countries: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on devices and creative works (even for legal purposes), a minimum copyright term of the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years (the current international norm is the lifetime plus fifty years), privatization of enforcement for copyright infringement, ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement. Moreover, the TPP is worst than U.S. copyright rules: it does not export the many balances and exceptions that favor the public interest and act as safety valves in limiting rightsholders’ protection. Adding insult to injury, the TPP's temporary copies provision will likely create chilling effects on how people and companies behave online and their basic ability to use and create on the Web.

Read the rest

Minnesota taxman says real musicians don't tour or let their stuff be played on public radio

Jon sez, "Minnesota Department of Revenue tells musical artist during lengthy audit: You clearly aren't interested in profit, as you've "allowed" your music to be played on Minnesota Public Radio, you have had enough years of touring, so there is currently no need for any further promotional touring, and you should be signed to a major label by now."

Icelandic Pirate Party lands three seats in Icelandic parliament

The Icelandic Pirate Party has won three seats in its national Parliament in the Pirates' best-ever showing on the world stage. They form a small part of the opposition to the "center-right" Independence Party (Americans, please note that the Independence Party would be considered socialists by present US mainstream political standards). One of the new Pirate parliamentarians is Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the Icelandic MP who volunteered for, and campaigned for Wikileaks. The Icelandic Pirate Party is only five nine months old!

The three new Icelandic lawmakers include Jón Þór Ólafsson, a business administration student at the University of Iceland; Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, a computer programmer; and Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a well-known WikiLeaks volunteer and former member of parliament from 2009 to 2013.

Birgitta is also one of three activists involved in a WikiLeaks investigation currently underway in the United States. In November 2011, a district court judge found that prosecutors could compel Twitter to give up specific information on the three accounts, including IP addresses, direct messages, and other data. In January 2013, a federal appeals court in Virginia ruled (PDF) that Birgitta and the two others have no right to find out which other companies the government sought information from besides Twitter.

The trio, along with other members of Iceland’s digerati (including Smári McCarthy, who also is one of the organizers of the International Modern Media Initiative), founded the party just five months ago.

Pirate Party wins 3 seats in Icelandic parliament for its best result worldwide [Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica]

Guatemala: Genocide trial said to re-start Tuesday, April 30

A brief update on the trial of former US-backed military dictator José Efrain Rios Montt and his then chief of intelligence Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez: word here in Guatemala is that the trial will re-open tomorrow in Judge Jazmin Barrios' courtroom. I will be present, continuing to blog the historic trial for Boing Boing. NISGUA has this update on the past week's legal wranglings that led up to today's news the trial will restart.

Great old indie bookstore in St Louis faces demolition as town considers proposal to site an industrial storage facility on its lot

Thorne sez, "I grew up in a bookstore in a 150 year old Victorian mansion in Rock Hill, St. Louis. I lived in an upstairs room until I was about 10, and we needed the space for more books. This weekend a demolition crew came into my family's store to take measurements for a proposed demolition. An out of state company wants to build an industrial storage facility on this location. This has been an operating independent family business for 30 years and I'm posting it because I believe this type of development needs attention. A friend started a petition over the weekend. Also - it's haunted."

Apparently, the landlord is an "older guy who just wants to sell the property," and the real leverage point here is whether the city grants permission for the demolition and the storage facility.

City of Rock Hill, Missouri: Stop the tear-down and redevelopment of The Book House []

Book House Issues Call To Stave Off Eviction [Publishers Weekly]

The Disapproval Matrix: a framework with which to understand The Haters

Ann Friedman writes, "In my ongoing quest for the perfect framework for understanding haters, I created The Disapproval Matrix." With Ann's helpful diagram, one can more easily "separate haterade from productive feedback." []

Slash: a new conjunction

"Slash" has emerged as a new conjunction, which is a rarity in slang. I love the fact that people spell out "slash" and then hyphenate it, and find it hard to believe that they're not doing this for the sheer delightful absurdity of it all:

...But for at least a good number of students, the conjunctive use of slash has extended to link a second related thought or clause to the first with a meaning that is often not quite “and” or “and/or” or “as well as.” It means something more like “following up.” Here are some real examples from students:

7. I really love that hot dog place on Liberty Street. Slash can we go there tomorrow?
8. Has anyone seen my moccasins anywhere? Slash were they given to someone to wear home ever?
9. I’ll let you know though. Slash I don’t know when I’m going to be home tonight
10. so what’ve you been up to? slash should we be skyping?
11. finishing them right now. slash if i don’t finish them now they’ll be done in first hour tomorrow

The student who searched her Facebook chat records found instances of this use of slash as far back as 2010. (When I shared a draft of this post with the students in the class to make sure I have my facts straight, several noted that in examples like (7) and (9), they would be more likely to use a comma in between the clauses and a lower-case “slash.”)

The innovative uses of slash don’t stop there either: some students are also using slash to introduce an afterthought that is also a topic shift, captured in this sample text from a student:

12. JUST SAW ALEX! Slash I just chubbed on oatmeal raisin cookies at north quad and i miss you

Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore [Anne Curzan/Chronicle of Higher Education]

(via Making Light)

Drop: Minecraft creator's latest game is a typing tutor (or seems like one)

Have at it. My top score is 11 because I can't type.

Reporters, bloggers in Mexico march to protest violence against news media

In various cities in Mexico on Sunday, journalists from newspapers and independent online news organizations marched to protest "violence that has claimed the lives of co-workers and silenced news media in parts of the country." Demonstrators chanted “Justice!” and “Solution!,” and demanded that authorities investigate a string of murders, kidnappings and threats—like the unsolved brutal attack that claimed the life of muckraking reporter Regina Martinez. [LA Times, WaPo]

Repo Man: Criterion release and interview with director Alex Cox

NewImageHere's Alex Cox, director of Repo Man (1984), interviewed recently by psychotronic film buff and master poster artist Jay Shaw. Criterion just re-released Repo Man on DVD and Blu-ray, featuring original package art by Shaw and Tyler Stout of Austin's Mondo Gallery scene. Repo Man: Criterion Collection edition (via Mondo)

Proposal would fine tech companies for not obeying FBI's wiretap demands

Ellen Nakashima in the Washington Post: "A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Face­book and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the effort." Companies that fail to obey wiretap orders would be penalized.

C.I.A. regularly delivers "wads of American dollars" to Afghan president

Seems legit: "For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency." Tens of millions of American taxpayers' dollars, off the books, referred to by those who received it as "ghost money." []

US-aided electronic spying in Mexico’s drug war

In the Washington Post, an extensive report by Dana Priest on the changing role of the U.S. in Mexico’s intelligence war on drug cartels. The article includes extensive details on how closely intertwined the CIA and other US agencies have become with Mexican law enforcement entities:
The administration of former president Felipe Calderon had granted high-flying U.S. spy planes access to Mexican airspace for the purpose of gathering intelligence. Unarmed Customs and Border Protection drones had flown from bases in the United States in support of Mexican military and federal police raids against drug targets and to track movements that would establish suspects’ “patterns of life.” The United States had also provided electronic signals technology, ground sensors, voice-recognition gear, cellphone-tracking devices, data analysis tools, computer hacking kits and airborne cameras that could read license plates from three miles away.
(HT: Shannon Young)

An infographic exploring what we think we know about Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev

New from Chartgirl: "Tamerlan Tsarnaev: What We Think We Know About Who Knew What and When."

"Thatcher hairstyle" hip after her death

Since the death of notorious chemist Margaret Thatcher, her distinctive ultra-bouffant hairstyle has become a hit at London salons, writes The Daily Mail's Justin Stoneman.

The Red Rose of Saturn

Carolyn Porco, Cassini Imaging Team Leader and CICLOPS director, writes:

One of the most gorgeous sights we have been privileged to see at Saturn, as the arrival of spring to the northern hemisphere has peeled away the darkness of winter, has been the enormous swirling vortex capping its north pole and ringed by Saturn's famed hexagonal jet stream.

Today, the Cassini Imaging Team is proud to present to you a set of special views of this phenomenal structure, including a carefully prepared movie showing its circumpolar winds that clock at 330 miles per hour, and false color images that are at once spectacular and informative.

Here are the images, in glorious hi-rez [].

New Seattle police chief mocked homeless in 1986 video

Seattle police chief Jim Pugel—tasked with reforming the department in the wake of a Justice Department report that criticized it for its routine use of excessive force—has been forced to apologise for a video he participated in that made fun of the homeless.

"The following video was produced in 1986. The skit was created in a misguided attempt at humor and added to the end of a training video. Upon viewing it, commanders judged the content to be inappropriate. Copies were ordered to be destroyed"

The line about "kicking homeless ass" is particularly subtle humor, isn't it? The police made the video public after being tipped off that the media had learned of its existence.

Mom forced 14-year-old daughter to bear children

Jill Lawless, from NBC, writes about a woman who was so desperate to have more children that she forced her young daughter to bear them.

In a ruling reported for the first time Monday, High Court judge Peter Jackson said the mother had behaved in "a wicked and selfish way" that almost defied belief. The judge said the woman, an American divorcee living in Britain with three adopted children, hatched the plan after she was prevented from adopting a fourth.The scheme involved getting her oldest daughter to inseminate herself with syringes of sperm purchased over the Internet from a Denmark-based company, Cryos International.

Soccer referee viciously attacks player

As a Russian league reserve game in Grozny drew to a close, linesman Musa Kadyrov sprinted onto the field and "launched a vicious assault on one of the players." Reuters:

"The ref blew the final whistle and I started walking to our bench, when suddenly someone came from behind, pushed me to the ground and began kicking and punching me," the 18-year-old Amkar player told reporters.

Alexei Spirin, a match observer from FIFA, the sport's international governing body, rated the official 0/10 and said that he is "writing a special report." We rarely cover sports at Boing Boing, but I will take this opportunity to suggest to Mr. Spirin that Mr. Kadryov be assigned in perpetuity to exclusively referee Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

New Boards of Canada album ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ due June 11, 2013

Be still, my heart. This, just in:

"After considerable speculation since Record Store Day, we can reveal that the new album by Boards of Canada, "Tomorrow’s Harvest," will be released on Tuesday June 11th in North America on Warp Records."

This news follows the launch of an epic and confusing teaser campaign, and a new mysterious website that was inaccessible by design.

Read the rest

HOWTO make a HAL9000

With just a few steps, you can turn one of Adafruit's Massive Red Arcade Button kits into a working (ish) HAL9000 computer:

Devoted film fans will spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars (occasionally even thousands) to create flawless replica props for their personal collections. The iconic eye of HAL 9000 from 2001: a Space Odyssey is one such object of desire…popular enough that detailed (and pricey) licensed reproductions exist. This is cool stuff! But if we relax our criteria just a bit, you or I can turn out a pretty decent, recognizable facsimile in a weekend for just a small fraction of the cost. The 80/20 rule in action!

We’re not selling a prop or even a kit here…that would raise a big licensing stink, so please don’t ask. What follows are some ideas on creating one yourself. Much like our not-a-Back-to-the-Future-clock project, the concept came about when customers noted that a component already in our shop resembled an unrelated film item — in this case, our Massive Red Arcade Button and HAL’s distinctive lens.

Affordable HAL 9000 Replica (Thanks, Phil!)

Carpets now in Minecraft

You may now get carpet in Minecraft and get Minecraft carpet. Sort of.

Incredible Star Trek/Transformers crossover custom toy

Unicron9 created a custom Star Trek/Transformers crossover toy in which the Enterprise transformed into Autobot E. "The head had to be long because the deflector dish is on the top of it for alt mode," Unicron9 says, "so I went for a majestic alien look with a mix of Geordi's visor, Vulcan ears, and Andorian antennas." "Star Trek/Transformers Crossovers: Autobot E" (deviantART)

Check out our all-new Boing Boing video archives, now with 500% more fanciness

Rob gave our Boing Boing video post archives a sweet makeover this weekend, check it out! Among the most recent video posts you will find on our video page:

• Bruce Sterling on the role of startups in helping the rich get richer
• Video about Judith, the strange pregnant "barbie doll" from 1992
• A new retrofuturist short from Popper and Serafinowicz
• Which is more painful? Childbirth vs. Getting kicked in the nuts
• Marijuana reporter accidentally gets high on marijuana
• Baboons raise pet dogs
• Russian paratroopers deploy inflatable Orthodox church

Boing Boing: Video archives