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Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com  

Man blames park wank on cannabis

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A man arrested after masturbating in a public park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, told the court that he had gotten the idea after smoking marijuana.

Vojtech Kralik, 23, of the Czech Republic, was in court facing magistrates on a charge of indecent behavior. According to the police who collared him, he admitted what he had done during interviews, the Belfast Telegraph reports: "He stated that he had smoked cannabis earlier and simply acted on the idea when it came into his head," said one officer.

After his lawyer confirmed that he was not contesting the allegation, Kralik was released on bail pending a pre-sentencing report.

Dino-chicken creation inevitable

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Entirely happy to use the word "chickenosaurus," NBC News reports that scientists are getting closer to creating a throwback creature by messing with avian DNA: "From a quantitative point of view, we're 50 percent there," a professor of paleontology told them.

The illustration is by Karl Tate of LiveScience.com

Squirrel blamed by Canadian drivers who followed too closely

ConkerWelcome A squirrel, crossing the road in Nanaimo, British Columbia, was blamed after a driver braked hard to avoid it and was rear-ended by other vehicles. Three trucks ended up in the multi-vehicle snarlup, according to the RCMP, with one damaged so badly it had to be towed.

Holdouts who refuse to sell their "nail houses" to developers

Angry with Chinese homeowners who refuse to sell out, the country's eager and rapacious developers call their houses "stubborn nails" that can't be pounded into wood. Read the rest

Bus powered by cow poop beats speed record

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The land speed record for a regular bus has been shat on. "Bus Hound," powered by biomethane derived from cow manure, clocked 76.785mph in speed trials in England.

Operated by Reading Buses, the vehicle was painted black and white in honor of the Frisian cows whose excrement powers its mighty engines. It was designed to advance the "power and credibility of buses fuelled by cow poo," reports the BBC.

"Most importantly we wanted to get the image of bus transport away from being dirty, smelly, and slow," Chief engineer John Bickerton told them ."We're modern, fast, and at the cutting edge of innovation."

Ars Technica's Sebastian Anthony writes that biomethane is a promising technology, far greener than natural gas, but close in performance: "not only are you leaving those fossil fuels in the ground, you're also combusting methane that would've otherwise ended up as an atmospheric greenhouse gas."

If you're wondering, the answer is yes: Britain has also invented a bus powered by human excrement.

GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said: "Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself."

One human's annual output would would fuel the Bio-Bus for 37 miles. And if you're all out, there's always chip fat.

Beards rule at facial hair festival

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Photographer Sando Ujvari headed to the 7th Kunsag Beard Festival in Hungary, where masterpieces were on show from across the world. Above, Norbert Topf of Germany.

Animal abuse allegations included swearing at sheep—but plenty worse, too

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A farmer, criticized for allowing sheep-shearers to swear at his animals, joked that the animals have never complained about salty language.

Ken Turner, of New South Wales in Australia, was reported to animal welfare group RSPCA after workers reported that the behavior distressed the herd, reports the Newcastle Herald. A complaint was lodged by PETA, to whom workers had sent undercover footage of abuse they say was physical as well as verbal, "including stomping and punching of the sheep."

"If foul language were the worst that sheep in Australian shearing sheds had to endure, then no complaint would have been filed," a spokeswoman told the newspaper.

But the case was dropped, leaving Turner to tour the press making light of the allegations: "they didn’t even look offended to me after they were shorn," he told a radio host last week.

The Australian Associated Press (widely syndicated to outlets such as The Telegraph and The Daily Mail) left the physical abuse details to the very end of its report. London's Metro tabloid completely removes them, describing the allegations exclusively as "bizarre" complaint about language. The Times wrote that the report had "provoked a debate about whether verbal abuse of animals constitutes an act of violence"—but also managed to avoid detailing the fact that violence was also alleged. The footage was deemed inadmissible in court, according to the AAP.

Firefox tracking protection sped up web browsing up to 44% in test

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Some websites have dozens and dozens of tracking bugs and libraries, slowing downloads and delaying rendering. If you block them in Firefox, researchers demonstrated, some pages load much faster.

The paper shows that with Tracking Protection enabled, not only did Chew and Kontaxis see a 67 percent reduction in cookies set in the Alexa Top 200 news sites, but page load times were reduced by a median 44 percent, and overall data usage was reduced by 39 percent. Even if you aren’t too concerned about privacy, that speed increase alone might be enough of a reason to enable the feature.

The speed boost comes from blocking requests to tracking domains, so it won’t speed up browsing across the board, but considering the amount of sites that use some sort of tracking, the benefit should be fairly noticeable. Currently, Tracking Protection isn’t turned on by default, as Mozilla is still gathering feedback about how the feature works, but it’s fairly easy to enable the feature.

Previously: Facebook told to stop tracking logged-out web users

Secret security questions deemed insecure

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Google analyzed the "secret questions" used by its vast userbase and was not surprised to learn that they are mostly terrible.

In a blog post at the company's Online Security Blog, Elie Bursztein said that "secret questions are neither secure nor reliable enough to be used as a standalone account recovery mechanism."

"That’s because they suffer from a fundamental flaw," Bursztein wrote. "Their answers are either somewhat secure or easy to remember—but rarely both."

Here are some specific insights:

With a single guess, an attacker would have a 19.7% chance of guessing English-speaking users’ answers to the question

• "What is your favorite food?" (it was ‘pizza’, by the way) With ten guesses, an attacker would have a nearly 24% chance of guessing Arabic-speaking users’ answer to the question

• "What’s your first teacher’s name?" With ten guesses, an attacker would have a 21% chance of guessing Spanish-speaking users’ answers to the question,

• "What is your father’s middle name?" With ten guesses, an attacker would have a 39% chance of guessing Korean-speaking users’ answers to the question "What is your city of birth?" and a 43% chance of guessing their favorite food.

They're not the first to acknowledge the problems with secret questions.

Celebrity strategies for dealing with mean tweets

jewelstaite A collection of the best responses to the worst behavior. The slap returned to Piers Morgan by soccer star Gary Lineker is a work of beauty. Above, Jewel Staite catches up her backlog.

If they'd given Commander Riker his own Star Trek spinoff show, it would not be as good as this

They should have given the franchise to Jan van den Hemel. [via The Verge]

Refrigerator full of Super Nintendo Jurassic Park cartridges could be yours

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It's on eBay for $1,500, but the seller is entertaining offers. "No questions or answers have been posted about this item." [via @toastmaster]

Just in time for the new Jurassic World (Jurassic Park) movie that is coming out, you can have your very own refrigerator full of Snes Jurassic Park carts!! There are just about 300 Jurassic Park carts including a handful of CIB copies and a PAL version CIB. I will also include the schlue of other Jurassic Park games: gameboy CIB, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Saturn CIB copies. Also have a CIB Jurassic Park 2 and sealed JP 2 for snes that will be included. And a laser disk movie for kicks and giggles. Fridge and Bacardi not included

John Nash, famed mathematician, dies in road accident

johnnash "John Forbes Nash Jr., the brilliant Princeton University mathematician whose life story was the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind," was killed with his wife Alicia on Saturday in a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Previously.

Read the rest

Mad Max mocks machismo

Mad Max: Fury Road makes fools of the mens' rights activists who saw earlier entires in the series as a glorification of powerful men. After all, they're wrong about that, too, as perfectly explained by Tina Turner, above.

Ireland votes overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage

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Though the total isn't in, tallies from key constituencies suggest that Ireland's referendum on approving same-sex marriage is a win for "Yes."

The BBC reports that the result became apparent not long after counting was underway, with about 75 percent in favor. Campaigners opposed to same-sex marriage have conceded defeat.

If the change is approved, the Republic of Ireland would become the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote.

Minister for Equality Aodhan O Riordain said on Twitter: "I'm calling it. Key boxes opened. It's a yes. And a landslide across Dublin. And I'm so proud to be Irish today."

The vote is a striking international win for gay rights, as deeply-Catholic Ireland is historically among the more conservative western European countries. Divorce was only made available in 1997, and homosexual behavior decriminalized in 1993.

Here is a perfect tweet from Irelands's equality minister.

From yesterday's roundup:

"If the Irish can vote “Yes,” the thought goes, anyone can," writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker. "If they can see how a conservative belief in the institution of marriage and in the unity of families, and an atavistic desire to be present at the wedding of one’s own children, translate into support for same-sex marriage so can, say, Mississippians."

The campaigns, for and against, served to illustrate the broader divisions in Irish society. The No campaign, in particular, made sharp use of fear as a motif, identifying wholesome Catholics as the real victims of intolerance. But the church has paid a high price for its longtime abuses: polls have support at about 70%, though there is some question about the accuracy of polling.

Even if it's close, the pace of change in Ireland has been remarkable. A 2013 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association map of local support for same-sex relationships put Ireland at only 36%, though it took into account factors other than public opinion. ILGA_2013_map

Previously: Ireland votes on same-sex marriage

Police admit falsely arresting teen rape victim: "this is what happens when you lie."

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A 17-year-old rape victim, treated with callous indifference and arrested by UK police who accused her of lying, has been awarded £20,000 in a settlement.

Hampshire Constabulary apologized for refusing to properly investigate the victim's complaint, and admitted liability for false imprisonment and assault.

The girl was attacked in April 2012, reported it immediately, and provided her clothing for forensic analysis. But police decided within two days that she was lying and threatened her, The Guardian reports, with charges of her own should she pursue the matter.

When she did so, she was arrested on suspicion of "perverting the course of justice," and was told by one detective that "this is what happens when you lie."

The police failed to test the evidence and, reportedly, were told by a supervisor to "fucking nick her."

"I was horrified," her mother told the BBC. "A woman comes forward and tells the police authority she has been raped: You expect them to do everything they can to put the rapist away."

The case only proceeded months later after an official complaint was made, prompting prosecutors to ask for thorough tests on the garments.

The attacker, Liam Foard, was subsequently identified. After denying any sexual contact at all with his victim, he was convicted and jailed for five years in 2013. But it's taken another two years—and a lawsuit filed under human rights legislation—for Hampshire Constabulary to say sorry.

In the meantime, one of the officers responsible for the girls treatment was given a written warning, and three others allowed to resign or retire before the investigation into their conduct could be completed. Ten other officers received "management action."

"Given that she had been raped, reported the matter to the police and now found herself under arrest and being accused of lying, this must have been a particularly traumatic experience," an internal review concluded. "Clearly, had the rape investigation been completed to the required standard, she would never have been arrested and interviewed."

Local police have issued statements promising it will not happen again.

"I would like to reassure all victims of sexual assault that we do take you seriously," Chief Superintendent David Powell told reporters. "We do believe you, we appreciate how hard it is to come forward to report these offences, we do not judge you and we are committed to ensuring a professional and supportive response. We are doing everything to ensure we never have an initial response like this again."

"I am appalled by the way the victim and her family have been treated in this case and would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to them," wrote Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire. "It is entirely unacceptable for victims of crime not to be listened to and taken seriously. I would like to reassure the public that since I have been in post there have been significant changes to the way sexual assault cases are handled by the Constabulary. These changes in procedure should mean that the series of events that led to this particular victim being re-victimised by the police and not receiving appropriate justice, would not be permitted to happen again in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight."

But the family's lawyer, Debaleena Dasgupta, says that without the Human Rights act, it would have been far more difficult to get justice.

"Many people wrongly assume the police have a legal obligation to investigate crimes," wrote Dasgupta in a press release. "However, the only way victims of crime can seek justice for these sorts of issues is using the Human Rights Act, which imposes a duty on the police to properly investigate very serious offences."