SpareOne: emergency cellphone powered by AA batteries

spareone

SpareOne Emergency Phone is a basic cellphone powered by AA batteries. This gives it a relatively short time on a charge, but means that it will have a charge after being stuffed in a drawer or glove box for months.

I came across this during my search for the perfect basic phone, but be warned: it has no display, and therefore no text messaging. It has a glow-in-the-dark keypad, a 10-number phonebook, and an "SOS" button that sends texts to 5 contacts with your location.

The AT&T GoPhone model is 3G and costs $60 at Target stores, or $50 at Amazon. Some users report that AT&T doesn't really understand the gadget; be sure to activate it according to the handset instructions, not AT&T's instructions, which require you to receive a text message.

A 2G GSM model, requiring only a single AA battery, is officially available only in the UK, for some reason. Perhaps because it's a pain to activate on an off-brand carrier and US carriers periodically expire your minutes on SIM-only plans. But it's offered in the US for $30 on Amazon if you fancy your chances.

Something tickles me about the first-aid medical design. Read the rest

Marco Rubio melts down on Twitter

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Let's dispel with this fiction that Marco Rubio knows what he's doing. He doesn't know exactly what he's doing.

The BBC reports on the former Republican presidential candidate's "Twitter tirade" last night, described by one wit as "losing the 2020 New Hampshire primary four years ahead of schedule." Read the rest

Animated map shows two centuries of US immigration

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It looks like Wargames but with Skittles: colored balls representing immigrants arcing through low orbit to land somewhere within the United States of America—Oklahoma, by the looks of it. Creator Max Galka writes that it covers 1820 to 2013 and that each dot represents 10,000 people. Read the rest

Site finds the "visual center" of your images

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Visual Center is a website that takes an image and attempts to find its compositional center point. It works well with designy images that have an obvious geometry to them and well-defined shapes to find and center — think logotype surrounded by whitespace. I'm not having a lot of success with photographs, though. [via] Read the rest

Random University Administration Job Title Generator

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As Boing Boing U's Assistant Deputy President of the Committee on Neighborhood Communications and Principal Vice Liaison to Interdepartmental Technology of the Subcommittee for Academic Communications, I insist that we form a committee to investigate whether the "web site" University Title Generator constitutes unacceptable bait speech. Read the rest

Video of a capybara with ducklings on its back

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"This is JoeJoe the Capybara, enjoys baths and hanging out with baby ducks." [via]

In addition to his YouTube Channel, Joe has an instagram account and a Facebook page.

Read the rest

Using ALLCAPS to denote SHOUTING dates to 19th, maybe even 17th century

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Hitherto believed to be a fairly recent innovation derived from the imperative quality of official telegraphy, etc., it turns out that there is a much longer history of using all-caps text to signify SHOUTING AT THE READER. Glenn Fleishman:

I’m here to BLOW THIS OUT OF THE WATER, with a series of citations that date back to 1856. People have been uppercase shouting intentionally for a century more than recollected. And, as with so many things, longtime Internet users want to claim credit, when they really just passed on and more broadly popularized an existing practice...

The first clear citation I can find is in the Evening Star, a Washington, D.C., newspaper. It appears on February 28, 1856 and was syndicated to other papers around the same time. In a “hilarious” dialect story about a Dutchman who seems to be disease-ridden, this wonderful sentence appears:

[“]I dells you I’ve got der small pox. Ton’t you vetsteh? der SMALL POX!” This time he shouted it out in capital letters.

And that's just an explicit reference to allcaps-as-shouting. Implicitly, it goes back to the Stuart era.

Sue Walker, the director of collections and archives in typography at the University of Reading, England, found an apposite description in a 1674 book, The Compleat English Schoolmaster, by Elisha Coles. The author wrote that a whole word in capitals “is alwa[y]es more than ordinarily remarkable; as some signal name, Title, Inscription, or the like...”

Read the rest

Outtakes from an Orson Welles wine commercial after he had drunk too much wine

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We Will Sell No Wine Before Its Time! Previously: Orson Welles hates the advertising copy he's been asked to read.

If you enjoyed this video, Publio Delgado's weirdly harmonized guitar backing is an essential accompaniment.

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How documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux asks questions

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Louis Theroux's ability to establish a rapport with subjects is legendary, even with people who are aware that he may be, from their perspective, implicitly hostile. His affectation of ignorance and naivety is part of it, obviously, but it's more than that: he lets subjects take a position of superiority, remains emotionally detached, yet exposes himself to scrutiny.

In this video, Ryan Holligner explains just how good Theroux is at this stuff. Read the rest

Do you ever just go for a walk?

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The BBC's Finlo Rohrer laments the "slow death of the purposeless walk," an activity replaced by modern transit and planned, regimented leisure/exercise activities. But there's hope!

Across the West, people are still choosing to walk. Nearly every journey in the UK involves a little walking, and nearly a quarter of all journeys are made entirely on foot, according to one survey. But the same study found that a mere 17% of trips were "just to walk". And that included dog-walking. It is that "just to walk" category that is so beloved of creative thinkers.

"There is something about the pace of walking and the pace of thinking that goes together. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking. I do believe once you get the blood flowing through the brain it does start working more creatively," says Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking.

"Your senses are sharpened. As a writer, I also use it as a form of problem solving. I'm far more likely to find a solution by going for a walk than sitting at my desk and 'thinking'."

I suspect there is an element of benign self-deception in the idea of a purposeless walk. I walked a lot when I lived in the city, apparently without purpose, but there was concealed purpose in the rhythms and pressures of urban living. You walk to manage your environment, even when there is no destination. Walkable cities subtly help you do this. Read the rest

Beware commercialized feminism -- or embrace it?

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Laurie Penny reviews Andi Zeisler's ‘We Were Feminists Once’ and considers the progressive dilemma of popularity: how do you turn new popularity into change, when the idea of change is so easily turned into an ersatz commercial product?

As a founding editor of Bitch Magazine, which was first published as a zine in 1996, Zeisler understands the fraught relationship between feminism and pop culture. It’s a relationship of toxic codependency. Activists need the media to help spread the word, even as it pumps out sexist stereotypes; the media, meanwhile, cannot risk losing touch with the zeitgeist. In her introduction, Zeisler describes her book as “an exploration of how the new embrace of marketplace feminism — mediated, decoupled from politics, staunchly focused on individual experience and actualization — dovetails with entrenched beliefs about power, about activism, about who feminists are and what they do.”

However, Penny writes that things have become more nuanced, less monolithic, and that feminists are one again engaging the in the "time-honored tradition" of being too hard on their own movement -- and especially on grassroots creativity that's succeeded despite media indifference.

Granted, as she points out, this newfound feminist populism hasn’t stopped the relentless conservative assault on abortion rights in the United States. Given the tireless work of abortion rights activists, however, perhaps it’s time we stopped blaming feminists for that and started blaming Republicans. The women’s movement has always been good at rebuking itself for every imperfection. The “confidence” promised by Dove body lotion may not be the revolution we have waited for — but feminism could use a little more faith in itself.

Read the rest

Alien Man dared to dream

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This toy seems too perfect to be real, mangling Alien so thoroughly that it turns unseen 7'2" actor Bolaji Bodejo into the star and, completely accidentally, radically improves upon the high concept of Alien 4. [via Mike Drucker]

Alien Man completes an existential trio of Engrish knockoff toys that already includes Robert Cop and Feddy Kruger:

Read the rest

"Nerds getting owned by normals" in Oracle v Google

Sarah Jeong's covering the Oracle v. Google trial, whereby the two companies are fighting over Java, copyright and the difficulty of explaining things like APIs to "normals." Most interesting is how the trial reveals not only how completely alien "nerd subculture" is, but that normal people -- judges! juries! -- are surprisingly good at spotting and exposing Silicon Valley's hypocrisy and narcissism.

The nerds struggle to be understood. It doesn’t help that towards the end of his cross-examination by Oracle, Schwartz became snippier and snippier, answering the Oracle lead attorney’s questions with passive-aggressive hostility.

Schwartz seemed less upset about being called one of the worst CEOs in America, and more put off by the sheer indignity of being cross-examined by a man who didn’t know what a blog is—enough that he broke a 10-month long Twitter silence to snark about it.

In public! With billions on the line! During the trial! Shades of Matthew Keys -- an almost supernatural level of arrogance before the people who, literally, are there to judge you. Read the rest

In power, Trump will punish the media first

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Last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blithely threatened Jeff Bezos over The Washington Post's investigations of him. It's a preview of exactly what form Trump's authoritarianism would take in government: the use of federal power to intimidate media.

Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using the Washington Post for power. So that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away — he’s worried about me, and I think he said that to somebody ... it was in some article, where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust. Because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much. ...

I’ll tell you what: We can’t let him get away with it. So he’s got about 20, 25 — I just heard they’re taking these really bad stories — I mean, they, you know, wrong, I wouldn’t even say bad. They’re wrong. And in many cases they have no proper information. And they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together. And they’re gonna do a book. And the book is gonna be all false stuff because the stories are so wrong. And the reporters — I mean, one after another — so what they’re doing is he’s using that as a political instrument to try and stop antitrust, which he thinks I believe he’s antitrust, in other words, what he’s got is a monopoly. And he wants to make sure I don’t get in. So, it’s one of those things.

Read the rest

Obama to schools: let transgendger kids use the bathroom matching their gender

Public schools should allow trandgender students to "use bathrooms matching their gender identity," reports CNN on guidance to be issued later today by the Obama administration.

The announcement comes amid heated debate over transgender rights in schools and public life, which includes a legal standoff between the administration and North Carolina over its controversial House Bill 2. The guidance goes beyond the bathroom issue, touching upon privacy rights, education records and sex-segregated athletics, all but guaranteeing transgender students the right to identify in school as they choose.

"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies."

It's getting nasty out there, faster than I think anyone expected. Yesterday, one school district decided to permit students to carry weapons onto campus, with a school board member plainly suggesting they pepper spray transgender people who "follow" them into bathrooms.

The future, assumedly, seems to non-gendered bathrooms. It's an interesting architectural, legal and space-efficiency problem: not every venue can just peel off and throw away the stickers. Read the rest

Billy Corgan upset that "the wrong racial epithet" could destroy his career

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Billy Corgan, of the Smashing Pumpkins, laments the fact he can't say a certain word without becoming unpopular, which is the result of social justice groups shutting down free speech.

"It's pretty remarkable that I could say one word right now that would destroy my career," he said, as the screen displayed images of Michael Richards and Paula Deen, both of whom faced derision after using the N-word. "I could use the wrong racial epithet or say the wrong thing to you or look down at the wrong part of your body and be castigated and it's a meme and I'm a horrible person. Every day through the media, through advertising, we see people being degraded, we see people doing all sorts of things that we should be horrified at as a culture. So we've normalized all sorts of things, but we live in a world where one word could destroy your life but it's OK to, if you're a social-justice warrior, spit in somebody's face."

Yet, he says, such groups "don't have power." The epiphany: always hovering just out of view. Good luck sticking to the right racial epithets, Billy. Read the rest

Footage of security lines snaking out the airport

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Incredible footage of the TSA line at Chicago Midway airport yesterday, which snakes out the airport atrium and into the surrounding transit hallways -- it's hundreds of yards long.

It follows news of massive layoffs at the TSA, though apparently most of the planned firings haven't happened yet, so it's only going to get worse.

The only bright spot is that the airlines themselves appear to be at the end of their tether: the lines are depriving them of passengers who must be rebooked. And, thanks to the Brussels attacks, everyone knows that the compressed packs of humans created by airport security theater are a prime target in their own right.

Good to know no dangerous breast milk got on those half-empty flights, though. Read the rest

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