Spotted these yesterday (though they've been around for a while - see Mark's post from January): Penguin's done a bunch of George Orwell paperback reissues with clever and vintagey covers. The Nineteen Eighty-Four has a black mask over the title that you can scratch off (or leave intact), while Animal Farm and Books v Cigarettes both sport lovely old school covers.
Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly of Kris Kross has died. He was 34. Kris Kross's big hit, of course, was "Jump" from their 1992 album "All Krossed Out." And yes, they were the kids who wore their pants backwards. (Billboard)
Money wins Elections is an excellent, scrolling infographic that illustrates how money corrupts the American legislative process, showing that time and again, Congress has voted the way that the big money told it to, against the prevailing popular opinion. It's all in support of the American Anti-corruption Act, and it was created by Tony Chu for part of his MFA thesis project.
Read the rest. Hart leaves behind a daughter, 11 years old.
Andy P. Hart, 38, a federal public defender in Toledo, Ohio, apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hart left behind a suicide note and a thumb drive, believed to contain his case files. It is unknown where Hart died, what the suicide note said or whether an autopsy was performed.
Alan sez, "Bloomberg got tired of waiting for the SEC to implement its own rule requiring disclosure of data on how many times the median salary the CEO makes for publicly traded companies so they did a little sleuthing of public data and a little averaging math and calculated the ratio for the top 250 of the S&P 500 companies. The data are searchable and sortable and there's space for companies to comment, which quite a few have done. To my surprise Oracle is not #1, though it is the only tech firm in the top 10."
• PBS: The Movie, a PBS Meets The Avengers parody short
• How to barf in space
• A whirling maglev banana
• HOWTO make a HAL9000
• Video of recursive hand illusions
• Baboons raise pet dogs
• Repo Man: Criterion release and interview with director Alex Cox
My friend Brian Lam, whom I recently visited in Hawaii, knows how to live—and work. He wrote a wonderful piece for Lifehacker that you must read. Snip:
I recommend everyone either fix your job or quit it. The best thing I ever did was get out of news. There is an undeniable truth that when you're in a job, you have to do the job under certain terms and constraints and stresses that you have no way of avoiding. But no one said you have to keep jobs that drive you nuts.Brian runs The Wirecutter and does fascinating stories about the ocean, some of which we've published here on Boing Boing. He's launching a new site soon.
Here is an adorable photograph of Brian doing kung fu on the beach as a child.
Steven Hudson of Cinesaurus, who produced this excellent nerd short, says:
It seems that we live in a world where more young people aspire to be future Kardashians and Jersey Shore-folk rather than scientists, teachers, and artists. With recurring threats of tossing PBS onto the federal chopping block, the final hope for our future rests in the hands of our childhood PBS superheroes. Carl Sagan recruits Mister Rogers, Bob Ross, and Bill Nye the Science Guy to form a team that must free young minds from the shackles of reality television. Think PBS meets The Avengers.
"If you wish to create a power team from scratch, you must first invent the universe." Watch: "PBS: The Movie."
A Florida high school student with an interest in science mixed together aluminum foil and toilet bowl cleaner as an experiment. To her surprise, the mixture exploded. Unfortunately for Kiera Wilmot, she tried her experiment on school grounds.
It was a small explosion, and nobody was hurt. Wilmot was, otherwise, a good student with a perfect behavior record. But the school chose to expel her, have her arrested, and is supporting her being charged with a felony as an adult.
Scientists across the country are not amused. Biologist Danielle Lee writes about this incident in context with the discipline gap that treats minority kids more harshly for small infractions.
Through Twitter, scientists and educators speak up about the things they blew up for science, under the hashtag #KieraWilmot.
The Mozilla Foundation has sent a legal threat to Gamma International, a UK company that makes a product called "FinSpy" that is used by governments, including brutal dictatorships to spy on dissidents. FinSpy allows these governments to hijack their citizens' screens, cameras, hard-drives and keyboards. Gamma disguises this spyware as copies of Firefox, Mozilla's flagship free/open browser.
Gamma International markets its software as a “remote monitoring” program that government agencies can use to take control of computers and snoop on data and communications. In theory, it could be legitimately used for surveillance efforts by crime fighting agencies, but in practice, it has popped up as a spy tool unleashed against dissident movements operating against repressive regimes.
Citizen Lab researchers have seen it used against dissidents from Bahrain and Ethiopia. And in a new report, set to be released today, they’ve found it in 11 new countries: Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Panama, Lithuania, Macedonia, South Africa, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bulgaria, and Austria. That brings the total number of countries that have been spotted with FinFisher to 36.
To date, Citizen Lab researchers have found three samples of FinSpy that masquerades as Firefox, including a “demo” version of the spyware according to Morgan Marquis-Boire, a security researcher at the Citizen Lab, who works as a Google Security Engineer. Marquis-Boire says his work at Citizen Lab is independent from his day job at Google.
Mozilla Takes Aim at Spyware That Masquerades as Firefox [Robert McMillan/Wired]
The Mirado Black Warrior pencil is made in the USA from high quality materials, available practically everywhere, and, very importantly, cheap (hey, it’s a pencil, after all).
The Black Warrior’s No. 2/HB graphite is darker and softer than standard No. 2′s and has a wax additive to make it smoother. The writing experience is noticeably superior to most other pencils. It’s easier and more satisfying to write with, with less effort involved. The barrel is round, with a good hand feel, but that also means it rolls off inclined surfaces. One other con: the Pink Pearl eraser has pumice in it, which can abrade paper, unlike nylon erasers.
Other than that, it is flawless (and the cedar is pleasingly aromatic when freshly sharpened). Cheaper pencils aren’t a bargain if they’re hard to sharpen, scratchy to write with, and the lead tends to break. More expensive graphite pencils that are more suited to artists, along with the frequently mentioned Blackwings, don’t seem as practical at $20 for 12, in my opinion. They’re like the Ferraris of pencils, and harder to source than the Mirado.
I’ve used these pencils for over a year, and haven’t found one that has more bang for the buck. Paired with the Kum sharpener, these are a no-brainer part of my EDC (every day carry).
-- Tom Anvari
[On my friend Michael Pusateri's advice, I ordered 3 dozen of these pencils. They are about 90% as good as my favorite pencil, the Blackwing 602, which costs five times as much as the Mirado Black Warrior. I now use both! -- Mark]
Mirado Black Warrior Pencil $3.50 a dozen
The Koch Brothers -- billionaire ultra-conservative puppet-masters and Tea Party funders -- are rumored to be in talks to buy eight newspapers, including the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant from the Tribune company, which is emerging from bankruptcy protection. Half of the LA Times's newsroom has threatened to quit if the Kochs take over.
One thing sure to happen if the Koch brothers take over the paper is a conservative agenda on the editorial page. As other newspapers have cut back on editorials and endorsements, the Times is now often the only LA news outlet that issues endorsements on political candidates and on ballot measures and initiatives. This is particularly crucial in California, where even the most educated voter is left clueless and confused -- or worse, tricked -- after reading the state propositions put on the ballot by Californians who simply gathered enough signatures to push a private agenda.
If the Times' editorial page is filled with the Koch brothers' libertarian opinions, other journalists in LA will need to step up and voice opposing views.
If Koch Brothers Buy LA Times, Half of Staff May Quit (VIDEO) [Kathleen Miles/HuffPo]
I'm pretty fond of the design of the new Canadian plastic $5 note, which is much improved if you draw Spock ears, eyebrows and hairline on old Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
This is the second story in a four-part, weekly series on taxonomy and speciation. It's meant to help you as you participate in Armchair Taxonomist — a challenge from the Encyclopedia of Life to bring scientific descriptions of animals, plants, and other living things out from behind paywalls and onto the Internet. Participants can earn cool prizes, so be sure to check it out!
On the sixth floor of New York's American Museum of Natural History — far away from the throngs of tourists and packs of schoolkids — there is a cold, white room, filled with white, metal cabinets.
The cabinets are full of dead things; leeches, sea anemones, lobsters ... any kind of invertebrate you can imagine. Even a giant squid. All of them have been carefully preserved. Each soaks in its own, luxuriant ethanol bath. Here they sit, some for a hundred years or more, waiting for scientists to pull them out into the light.
It's a bit like the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but for slimy, crawly, spineless things. There are collections like this all over the world, containing every species of animal, plant, and microscopic organism. Together, they serve as a record of Earth's biodiversity, a library of life. In them, you'll find more than just random specimens. Some of the individuals are special. Called "type specimens", they serve as ambassadors for their species, real-world models that define what each species is. For instance, the leech species Myxobdella maculata is both a group of leeches and exactly one leech — A leech that I got to meet on a behind-the-scenes tour with invertebrate curators Estefania Rodriguez and Mark Siddall.
Read the rest