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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  

Plastic toys often used to illustrate Eurozone finance stories

Every editor has their favorite way to cheaply generate art for stories with no visual component. Arranging little plastic toys in a cute tableaux is among the classier alternatives to stock art—especially when it comes to the exciting world of international finance.

The current cover design theory at Bloomberg offers a particularly refined version of this school of imagery, unusually comfortable with the absurdity of trying to make this kind of journalism visually engaging.

Pictured above is a photo by Getty Images' Sean Gallup, an emerging master of the genre whose arrangements wed the same ironic self-awareness with genuine storytelling skill.

Hey, it beats the alternative: photos of coins.

Maps reveal San Francisco's streams and springs

Bernal-for-Kickstarter-932x593Even locals don't know they're there, but Seep City reveals the groundwater diverted or otherwise concealed by development—which may yet be useful to parched inhabitants.

Crowdfunding patent invalidated

crowdfundingA New York judge has nailed a 2011 patent on giving people money: "Even the addition of an element of computer use is insufficient to render it valid"

The ruling came down in a case that was brought by Kickstarter, the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding startup. But the patent wasn’t Kickstarter’s: instead, it belonged to a 2000-era startup called ArtistShare, which operates on a similar model that lets fans fund their favorite artists in exchange for perks.

ArtistShare had been trying to get Kickstarter to license its patent, which describes what we now know as “rewards-based crowdfunding.” It’s basically a website that lets fans donate money to an artist in exchange for an “entitlement” (also known as a perk, or reward).

Preserving tattoos after death

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Vice's Simon Davies reports on the art of making and maintaining "human pelts."

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Rape scenes are lazy

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At Wired, our Laura writes about the emerging media cycle surrounding rape scenes in TV shows and the euphemistic bullshit used to justify the bottom-shelf storytelling they embody: "If you’re a woman in media, you’re basically the sexy Halloween costume of human beings in a world where Halloween never ends."

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John Oliver on the challenges facing transgender people

olivertrans It's been a big year for "the T in LGBT," Oliver says, but "even when the news media is trying to be supportive, they can make dumb mistakes … we are weirdly comfortable celebrating trans people while dehumanizing them."

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Tom Hardy disappears into Kray twins in biopic trailer

"Identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s" and look great as they do so. Previously.

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Map of European population growth and decline

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Enjoy Berliner Morgenpost's interactive graphic of where headcount is headed in Europe. Ireland, Britain and France grow as much of eastern Europe loses population. Everywhere there seems to be movement from country to city.

I guess East Germany's still not too hot a vacation destination, then.

Facebook can't trace revenge-porn poster

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Because its policy is to delete data 90 days after an account closure, Facebook is unable to comply with a court order that it turn over information about the revenge-porn-posting user.

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What profession is least diverse?

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Lawyer, social scientist and architect are very white jobs, but they've got nothing on veterinarian. With more companies posting more information about the composition of their payroll, a more detailed understanding of workplace diversity is emerging.

Overall, 81 percent of the workforce is white, but there are 33 occupations in America that are more than 90 percent white. When it comes to professions with outsized shares of minorities, blacks are overrepresented in community and social-service occupations (as well as barbers and postal-service clerks). Asians make up a large share of computer workers, medical scientists, and personal appearance workers—a category that includes manicurists, makeup artists, and facialists. Hispanics are overrepresented in construction, maintenance and agriculture work.

What does Facebook learn about you when you rainbowify your profile pic?

terrify When Facebook offered a "rainbow filter" for images, following last week's landmark Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage, people joked that it was probably another creepy social experiment. Well, probably, yes.

Even seemingly small online actions—clicking the “like” button, changing one’s profile photo—are being tracked and analyzed. Just like McAdam’s research on Freedom Summer shapes our understanding of support for marriage equality, Facebook's past research on marriage equality has helped answer a question we all face when deciding to act politically:

Does the courage to visibly—if virtually—stand up for what a person believes in have an effect on that person’s social network, or is it just cheap, harmless posturing? Perhaps the rainbow colors across Facebook will become part of the answer.

Previously: Facebook's massive psychology experiment likely illegal

Tsugargu Shamisen Girls rock out with traditional instrument

The song is titled "Under the Cherry Blossom." [YouTube via r/Videos]

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Strawberry in the shape of a chicken

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At Grove Farm in Bonnyrigg, Scotland, this strawberry was said by farmers Reuben and April Welch to look "exactly like a chicken," reports Civil Eats.

One hopes they are not chicken farmers.

Why companies that promise not to sell your data can sell it anyway

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It's all in the fine print: the deal is altered when bankruptcy or a similar corporate shakeup takes place. Then details you've let them know about you might end up on the block.

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Judge on defendant: "he is a gobshite"

gobshiteThe general consensus on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's notable dissents is that they reveal a Twitter-caliber quip artist rather than the "great legal writer" imagined by Jeet Heer. But either way, Scalia has nothing on Judge John Coughlan, who recently informed a defendant that he is a gobshite.

According to the Leinster Leader, Sean Byrne of Blessington, Ireland, was facing his third charge of driving without insurance at Naas District Court—a tally sitting on top of 14 prior convictions on "road traffic matters."

When his lawyer began describing his qualities as a father in mitigation, however, the judge interrupted.

"He is a gobshite," Judge Coughlan said, "It's the nicest thing I can say about him."

Then he banned Byrne from the roads for six years and fined him €500 (~$550).

News of the fast talk and stiff penalty came to the internet thanks to Frank O'Donnell, who posted a photo of the article on Twitter. It does not appear to have been posted at the Leader's website yet. [h/t Arbroath]

Naas District Court is no stranger to trouble, and Ireland is no stranger to gobshites.

Court nails man who shot neighbor's drone

DSC06180-640x427Eric Joe flew a home-made hexacopter over his own yard, out in the the country near Modesto, California. A neighbor shot it down with a shotgun. Now a court has told him he must pay for what he destroyed.

Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar posted the very polite letter that Joe had sent his apparently-deranged neighbor.

Joe started the conversation:

It was nice to meet you and your son. I wish it could have been under different circumstances, but I have to give credit to the McBay school of marksmanship. Still, I'm pretty bummed that I just built this hexacopter only to have it shot down. Also, it was a little disconcerting to know that the spread of the birdshot/buckshot was in my direction. In any case, I had a chance to test the components of the downed hexacopter. Good news is that the more expensive components (on the inside of the frame) are in tact. Stuff on the outside of the frame took the most damage. Joe included an itemized list of the damaged parts, which rounded up to an even $700.

McBay responded:

With all do [sic] respect $700 dollars seems excessive. Perhaps in SF it's normal for folks to have drones hovering over their property but we live in the country for privacy. I will be willing to split the cost with you but next time let us know your testing surveillance equipment in our area. I'll drop a check of [sic] this afternoon.

Joe wrote back:

I'm sorry, but I must insist on full payment for equipment you damaged, as you shot it when it was above my property. The aircraft's GPS data positions it clearly above our orchard. Additionally, the hexacopter crashed next to our driveway, ~203 feet (per Google Maps) from the dirt road that separates our respective properties.

I also dispute your characterization that I was "testing surveillance equipment." There was no camera on the hexacopter, and had a camera been mounted, the price for repairs would have been an extra $300. Just as you asked me to give the courtesy of notifying you of my flying activities, I also ask you the courtesy of not shooting live ammunition in our direction. This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we're currently discussing.

I'm hoping to resolve this in a civil manner. An entirely new rig would have cost $1500. Instead, I'm just asking that you pay for what you broke. Let me know if you wish to discuss further.

Three minutes later, McBay replied. "Your facts are incorrect, I'm considering the matter now closed."

The matter was not closed.

Man shoots down neighbor’s hexacopter in rural drone shotgun battle [Ars Technica]