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


The undying website of Heaven's Gate

The website of Heaven's Gate, the cult whose members killed themselves in hopes of riding Hale-Bopp to the eschaton, remains live 17 years later. Web developer and writer Jason Kottke remembers the day: "It was the first time an internet meme was a major aspect of a national news story."

Violent bigots tracked down with Twitter and Facebook

Two gay men were savagely beaten last week in Philadelphia's Center City district by a group of 10-15 "clean-cut, well-dressed" people in their twenties. With only a blurry security video to go on, finding the attackers would have been a long shot were it not for Twitter, Facebook and the viral spread of a cheesy restaurant photo.


According to Philadelphia police, someone in the group subjected the men to "disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation". In the ensuing confrontation, the victims were held down and attacked, receiving punches to the face, head and body. One of the gang grabbed a victim's bag--containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. As police approached, the group fled.

Both of the victims were taken to hospital and treated for multiple injuries: one sustained fractures so severe he required facial surgery and had his jaw wired shut.

The police put the video out on YouTube, however, and it soon spread to Twitter, where one Greg Bennett tweeted it. He soon linked to a photograph, taken at a restaurant, which showed the same group of people mugging for a camera. Though it had no accompanying information, the coincidences were many: the same blandly expensive check shirt, the same schoolboy shorts, the same ill-fitting red vest. It was clearly the same group.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 1.16.28 PM

The photo, he said, came from "a friend of a friend of a friend", who'd sent him it after he posted the CCTV footage: "I wanted to get the word out."

The revealing shot spread like a virus, getting retweeted 476 times. Within hours the restaurant was identified as La Viola, a nearby Italian BYOB place, by another Twitter user, FanSince09. And he wasn't finished: having identified the location, he checked Facebook's advanced search--which lets the user narrow the graph to specific locations and times--to see if anyone had checked in with photos or postings at that venue.


Now armed with pictures and names, police thanked the sleuth--on Twitter, of course--but warned that there'd be much work to do: its not, they wrote, "a Law and Order episode."

Yet within hours, reports emerged that those "well dressed" suspects had already lawyered up and were talking to police.

The sequence of tweets that led to their apprehension is storified by Melody Kramer. For his part, FanSince09 has advice for would-be scumbags: Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 1.55.24 PM

Union Jack flag probably won't change much if Scotland becomes independent-but maybe they won't be the last to leave


Tomorrow, Scotland votes on whether to become an independent country. The polls are running neck-and-neck, and one of the most enduring and fun discussions concerns what'll happen to the U.K.'s iconic flag if the Scots vote "Yes!"

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Attempted gunpoint robbery of cyclist recorded on helmet camera

At first, cyclist Mike Graziano thought he was merely avoiding a collision with an inattentive motorcyclist. When the man cut him off again, though--and produced what looked like a handgun--the scenario became clear.

"I was on a bike tour in a rough part of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in broad daylight when a thief attempted to steal my camera gear at gunpoint," wrote Graziano. "I miraculously happened to be recording with a gopro on my forehead and captured this amazing piece of footage!"

Graziano was in Argentina as part of a cycling tour of 195 countries he'd kickstarted to march "into the most 'dangerous' areas on earth and will surprise everybody with the level of welcoming and gracious people they meet, leading to a serious evaluation of the assumptions we make about nations."


Protip for robbers: learn the English words for things you would like to possess.

Elmo arrested in Time Square


Aggressive Panhandling is the charge: costumed characters pose for photos then threaten tourists--or police pretending to be tourists, as the case may be.

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"Probably a lot of pot smoking at Twitter," says entrepreneur who dreams of floating libertarian island

Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, who had better things to invest in than Twitter, trashes the company in a CNBC interview. What's the right latitude to grow sour grapes?

Worst fake punt ever

A football team executed a fake punt so terribly that one component of it--a player pretending to have some kind of seizure on the field of play--seemed strangely authentic.

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Senate rulebook full of derp


Described by USA Today as "something like an employee manual," the U.S. Senate Handbook is just full of craziness.

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Woman dies in crocodile pit leap

A 65-year-old woman died yesterday after jumping into a lake at a Bangkok zoo containing hundreds of adult crocodiles, reports the BBC: "Thai tourist attractions are said to often have lax safety rules."

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Noct, a scary, stylish monochrome video game

Explore and shoot in the infra-red near-darkness of apocalyptic ruins filled with ancient monsters; the surprisingly terrifying GIF above says everything about this 2D, top-down action RPG. There's no demo, but it's very nearly reached its Kickstarter goal--I'll be right on top of it when it comes out next summer.

Podcasting patent holder awarded $1.3m in legal win over CBS

Personal Audio LLC owns patents related to podcasting—"episodic content transmitted over the internet"—and a jury in Marshall, Texas has let CBS know it.

Personal Audio is a holding company, cobbled together from the patents that were left after a failed startup that Jim Logan founded in 1996. The company became one of the poster children for problematic patents when it claimed that its patent number 8,112,504 was infringed by podcasters, including comedian Adam Carolla. Instead of settling quickly, though, Carolla fought back hard before settling last month.

Adam Carolla is another podcaster sued by these guys; he settled for up to $500,000 last month. Trials will now move forward against NBC, Fox, and other deep-pocketed companies who host HTML files that allow episodic content to be transmitted over the internet, that being the technology patented by Personal Audio LLC.

Brain tumor removed from tiny goldfish

George is recovering after the "high-risk" $200 operation, and may now live another 20 years. Surgeon Dr. Tristan Rich described the procedure as "fiddly."

Town begs church and strip club to stop fighting

Coshocton, Ohio, has about 11,000 residents, a church, and a strip club. Dueling protests are apparently a weekly event, and local law enforcement has had enough of policing them: "The protests are becoming more personal and more problematic, so we felt the need to plead with both sides to at least stop for a while."

What it's like at a modern longsword tournament

Longsword fencing is a popular new event, a rigorous and fast-moving blend of reconstructed medieval martial arts and modern sporting standards.

Panasonic zags in camera land, with large-sensor Android smartphone and 4K point-and-shoot


Panasonic's CM1 weds a 1-inch camera sensor (as found in high-end point-and-shoots like the Sony RX100 and Canon's just-announced G7X) with a smartphone running Android 4.4.

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