Undying love in ≤150 characters: the contest results

Following an extended wrangle, our distinguished panel of judges has settled on a winner for the Undying love in ≤150 characters competition: Misery4Brett, comment #39. Misery's entry, which Shapeways will be transforming into a 3-D candleholder, is:

It is dark and when we kiss my fingers find you like candlelight

We're still waiting for Kevin Jackson-Mead's opinions on the three best entries of a romantically scientific or mathematical nature, whose authors will be receiving copies of Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics.

If you haven't read the contest thread, you should. It's full of ingenious romantic geekery -- and, as our judges demonstrated, there's something there for everyone. Read the rest

A contest: Undying love in ≤150 characters

This contest ends at midnight-sharp GMT this coming Sunday, four days from now. I know our contests and games usually run longer than that, but the Sunday deadline is necessary if we're going to have enough time for Shapeways to turn the winning poem (declaration, formula, epigraph, cryptogram, etc.) into a 3-D object -- a light poem, suitable for holding candles -- and express-mail it to you or your sweetie in time for Valentine's Day.

What's the catch?

First, you only get 150 characters total. This is a contest where speed and cleverness beat diligence, so start channeling your inner small mammal, and remember that spaces and punctuation count.

Second, you have to register an account at Shapeways, and download their Creator Java applet. Yes, that's slightly troublesome. Look upon it as an investment in someday being able to tell your grandmutants how hard you had it, back in the dawn of desktop 3-D fabrication.

Third, if anyone other than Randall Monroe tries to submit 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 377 610 987 1597 2584 4181 6765 10946 17711 28657 46368 75025 121393 196418 317811 514229 832040 1346269 2178309, there's going to be some splainin' to do.

And that's all. Try not to wait until the last minute to post your entries. Posting them earlier gives others a chance to admire them, and reduces the chances that someone else will have the same idea and publish it first. If you've posted an entry, make sure you've sent your contact information and desired shipping address to tnh@boingboing.net before the deadline. Read the rest

Meowfaceman is seduced by the guitar pick carrier

On guest blogger Gareth Branwyn's My Wallet Just Got Raptured thread, we have Meowfaceman, comment 12:
My reaction:

Man, that's ridiculous. Let me look at these -- holy shit, does that wallet have a guitar pick carrier?.

I hate you BoingBoing. You make me spend money on retarded things ALL THE TIME. At the same time, however, I love you for it.


Also in that thread, FutureNerd, comment #4

My new wallet http://tinyurl.com/leathervek reflects my ambivalence about pretension with its appearance of genuine hand-tooled hand-stitched leather laser-printed on genuine Tyvek.
Which in turn grabbed Gareth Branwyn, #8:
Woah. I dig the Mighty Wallet. When my current wallet gets raptured, I think I'm going to trade down to a Mighty Wallet. Pretty cool. I love the faux tooled leather. Tres summer camp.
Good comments, front page. Read the rest

A comment from Modusoperandi

Modusoperandi, responding to markmarkmark in the Attenborough's response to creationists' hate mail thread, said:
markmarkmark "Jesus is my rabbi and all that is best in me is him and every mistake is my own."
One Night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him, and he questioned the Lord about it: "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you'd walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. Also, you're being intermittently stalked by the Invisible Man."

Good one. Front page. Read the rest

More games: Summarize the year

We promised there'd be more games and contests, so here we are again. We're planning to run at least one a week. Naturally, your ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Here's this week's challenge: Everybody and their brother are doing year-end wrap-ups this week. Strike back! Write your own!

To be more specific: Summarize 2008. If you want, you can narrow it down and summarize the year in Boing Boing, weather, science fiction, weird science, plain science, international relations, bicycles, finance, real estate, disasters other than finance or real estate, cool gadgets, presidential campaigns, sandwiches (yours), sandwiches (eaten by others), violence, oxygen, polar bears in the news, weird sex, or whatever else you find meaningful, as long as it's a summary of 2008.

Format: Plain prose is fine. Compression is good. Formalism is very good. Chronological sequence is required, though it may be implicit.

You aren't required to use plain prose. As usual, poetry is an option; but so are obfuscated code, footnotes for an imaginary text, captions for the imaginary text's imaginary illustrations, crossword puzzle clues, lists of unanswered phone messages, copyeditors' queries, or entries from your cat's Live Journal. Just keep it coherent, and make sure the format and handling illuminates your summary of 2008.

Bear in mind that if you want to use flowcharts, rebuses, lolcats, XKCD cartoons, charts, photos, or sheet music, you'll have to stash the images elsewhere and link to them, because we're not set up to handle images in comment threads. That goes double for audio files, machinima, and flash games. Read the rest

Poetry goes Boing!

The poetry competition announced in We can has games has been a huge success. We must have more of these, and soon.

The game this time was to write verse poetry about one or more recurrent Boing Boing obsessions, with the winner to receive a Gears of War 2 Special Edition Zune 120 GB. Readers responded with a thread over two hundred messages long that's full of charming, surprising, and even impressive poetry. And if you don't read the whole thing, you have only yourself to blame.

Picking the winner was tough. At great effort and expense, I brought in the head of the science fiction line at the world's largest English-language science fiction publishing house to help me judge it, but it was still hard to narrow the choice down to a single poem. Nevertheless … (picks up envelope) … the winner is:

SpatulaLilacs @41, "Sestina of a Reluctant Copyfighter." Which, O my word, is a rigidly formal sestina that maintains both natural language and perfect iambic pentameter while developing a coherent argument about copyright issues.

That's something you don't see every day.

Sestina of a Reluctant Copyfighter

I download stuff. Not all of it is "free" -- Or meant to be, at least. But people share. It's all right if you take what I create. I'd never copy-shackle my own art. I have a hankering for the obscure, And I will stay obscure as well, by rights.

I know, of course, i haven't got the right: no "information-wanting-to-be-free" or any other jargon can obscure the fact that when we, as we put it, "share," we replicate another person's art.

Read the rest

We can has games

Down in the south end of the Metal detectorist's mysterious find thread, we've been kicking around the idea of running games in the comment threads. We've even played some short games there.

This has now been declared a Good Idea, so we're starting one with this entry. The winner gets applause, glory, and a spot at center stage in which to show off really well. The same goes for everyone else who turns in a good performance. The only difference is that Everyone Else doesn't also get a Gears of War 2 Special Edition Zune 120 GB (see description).

Note: it's a freebie, nothing more. If you're really worried about Boing Boing's purity, you can help protect it by winning the game. As you know, freebies emit a faint, kryptonite-like radiation that only affects Boingers; but since the arrangements call for donor Whitney Biaggi to ship the Zune directly to the winner, and since readers are of course immune to freebie-radiation, things should work out just fine.

We're going to be running more games and contests in the near future, with prizes from other donors. If you're planning to kick up a big fuss about some imagined commercialization, please bear in mind that (1.) freebies aren't terribly memorable unless someone makes a fuss about them; and (2.) eventually even you will get bored at having to kick up a fuss whenever someone snags a prize, and the rest of us will get bored a lot sooner than that.

You're a clever bunch. Read the rest

Overaggressive spam filter

A housekeeping note:

Our assistant moderator Antinous has noticed an increasing number of legit comments getting caught in the spam trap. Previously, it was only catching an innocent comment about once a month. Now he's fishing three or four comments a day out of it. We'll try to sort this out.

For now, Antinous says that having multiple links to the same domain seems to be the trigger, even if the links are to different pages in that domain. For example, a comment containing links to three different Wikipedia articles runs some risk of getting snagged. Avoiding that pattern isn't an absolute guarantee of safety, though; he's found a few comments in the spam trap where all the links were to different domains.

What we know for sure is that several commenters have complained that we unpublished their long, thoughtful, citation-filled comments, when in fact they'd been grabbed by the spam filter. If you have a comment go missing, let us know. In the meantime, Antinous will keep checking the trap. Read the rest

That Violet Blue thing

Update, 07-21-2008: A related wrap-up post was published on Boing Boing on July 18: Lessons Learned.

Speaking for all the Boingers--

Boing Boing has been caught in the middle of a real internet shitstorm and pile-on over the last few days. A blogger named Violet Blue noticed that we unpublished some posts related to her. Some people wanted to know why.

Bottom line is that those posts (not "more than 100 posts," as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It's our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn't attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There's a big difference between that and censorship.

We hope you'll respect our choice to keep the reasons behind this private. We do understand the confusion this caused for some, especially since we fight hard for openness and transparency. We were trying to do the right thing quietly and respectfully, without embarrassing the parties involved.

Clearly, that didn't work out. In attempting to defuse drama, we inadvertently ignited more. Mind you, we weren't the ones splashing gasoline around; but we did make the fire possible. We're sorry about that. In the meantime, Boing Boing's past content is indexed on the Wayback Machine, a basic Internet resource; so the material should still be available for those who would like to read it. Read the rest

Fixing the "Text entered was wrong" bug

We think we've fixed the problem that interferes with posting comments, and gives would-be commenters an error message that says:
Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:Text entered was wrong. Try again.
Here's the word from tech guy Jonathan Schreiber:
I believe that we have fixed the root cause for this. BUT users could still see this problem if they have an old cookie that was set pre-fix (the fix went in [on April 15th] around noon). So my suggestion for all BB commenters is to logout (via the logout link, upper right), then log back in again.

After doing a logout/login, the cookies and session will match and they won't have an issue with the system "thinking" they're logged out any more (i.e. no more "text was entered wrong" error messages).

Go. Do. And if you still have problems posting comments, or technical problems of any kind, please let us know. If you can remember to take screenshots and give us your system info, that's good too.

See also: Adam Rice and Phillip Lamb, on their technical problems Read the rest

Good comments: Adam Rice and Phillip Lamb, on their technical problems

Adam Rice and Phillip Lamb were both unable to comment, so they sent me letters.


I hope you're the right person to contact; if not, my apologies.
We need a better way for readers to tell us about technical problems. One of our suggested mechanisms is to have a front-page link to a form for reporting glitches, much like the link for submitting suggestions for stories. Until then, we'll all keep improvising.
The last couple of times I've tried to leave a comment on Boingboing, I've gotten the following error:

--- Your comment submission failed for the following reasons: Text entered was wrong. Try again. ---

I admit this may be true in an epistemological sense, but in a formal sense, the text I entered was entirely innocuous.

Would you believe I've occasionally been getting that one too? I don't know why that error message turns up. I wish it weren't even in the system. It keeps giving readers the idea that we use automated content-based message filtering, and that something they've written has infracted the filters' rules.

Not so. The only content-based filters on Boing Boing are the people who edit it. If you get an error message saying "Text entered was wrong," it's the error message that's in error.

Back to Adam Rice:

The other interesting thing is that the dynamic.boingboing.net page where this appears shows me as logged out, although I am logged in from the main boingboing page, or gadgets.
I feel your pain. I had the same problem for a couple of days this week. Read the rest

Good Comment: Mott, on child abduction and trafficking in Guatemala

Mott tells a story in the comment thread on Adoption and corruption: human trafficking busts in Guatemala.
For those of you (and I count a couple among the posters here) who appear willing to condone or turn a blind eye to human trafficking in the name of some “higher good,” allow me to share a story which, in a sense, may put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. For this could have happened to you.

It is a story that my wife and I have told practically no one. At first, in the wake of the incident, because it was too horrible and unsettling to talk about, and, much later, because the horror had thankfully receded into the distant past. But it definitely happened, and it definitely colors my views today on Guatemalan adoptions.

I am an American. Back in the 1980s I worked for several years in Guatemala as a development worker with a well-known NGO with projects all over the country, though I was based in the capital city. In 1984 my Guatemalan wife and I were blessed with a beautiful baby girl (biological offspring).

Like many people in my line of work we had a paid housekeeper. One day when our little girl was maybe seven months old our housekeeper had to walk down the street about five short blocks to get some small sundry, like milk or something, at a little store there. She asked my wife for permission to take the baby with her, and my wife said of course.

Read the rest

Boing Boing's Moderation Policy (Archived)

Our moderation policy was revised in October 2009. Read the new version. This version is deprecated. Q. Why does Boing Boing have to have a moderator?

A. First answer: Because every general-interest online forum that's worth reading has some kind of moderation system in force.

Second answer: Because four years ago, Boing Boing's first, unmoderated comment system went so septic that it had to be shut down. The Boingers want to never go through that again.

Third answer: Because Boing Boing gets enough traffic to attract non-automated scams.

Q. All the vowels have disappeared from a paragraph I wrote! What's going on?

A. We did it. Someone (a moderator, one of the Boingers) was expressing displeasure at your remarks. The technique is called disemvowelling. It deprecates but does not delete the remark. With work, the disemvowelled text should still be readable.

Q. You disemvowelled a very polite comment of mine that happened to mention a current presidential candidate. That means you're biased against that candidate, right?

A. Wrong. It means you shouldn't throw in mentions of presidential candidates unless they're mentioned in the main entry or are highly relevant to it. This rule will apply until the next president is elected.

Q. Something has happened to the link back to my website that I put at the bottom of my comment.

A. There's an answer to this problem: please don't put links in your comments that aren't relevant to the entry. We'll just have to remove them. Instead, put a link to your site in your user profile.

Read the rest

Good comment thread: What's happened to the U.S. economy?

There's a good discussion revving up in the comment thread of Mark Frauenfelder's entry, Documentary examines possibility of US dollar collapse. The first major salvo came from Cowicide, twenty comments in, responding to arguments that the problem isn't that serious:
Not sure Operation Three Trillion Dollar War is helping too much, either... * Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

BTW, this isn't some wackos... it's Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and Linda Bilmes (Professor of public finance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government).

While we are at it:

Robert Kuttner on the “Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression" * Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)” * Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

Subprime Mortgage Crisis Causing African Americans to Experience Greatest Loss of Wealth in Modern U.S. History. * Link to video, transcripts of video, audio, etc.

Yah, yep... I smell trouble... yep, I smell it.

Been smellin' it for quite a while, but it's getting stinkier and stinkier. Haven't even passed the dead skunk on the highway yet...

ConsideredOpinion came in with a balanced and knowledgeable analysis:
... Secondly - the impact of realignments will be felt unevenly across the economy. The super-rich will, by in large, remain insulated from these changes. The highly-educated (with marketable skills) will remain the most globally competitive, and barring labor movement restrictions should compete evenly against the best anywhere in the world for any currency.
Read the rest

Good comment: Pipenta, on artists and drugs

Note: From time to time we're going to be promoting especially wonderful comments (for all values of "wonderful") to the front page. This is Pipenta in "The science fiction book art of Richard Powers" thread, writing in response to someone who looked at Powers' art and said he must have been on drugs.
These look so dang familiar. I read a lot of science fiction back in the sixties and seventies. I picked up a lot of it secondhand. I know I've had books with this cover art. I wish there were examples of what they looked like as finished book designs. I'd love to see the titles.

@ #2 About drug addicts...

Jeff, I think you are huffing something.

Having attended a couple of big-name art schools back in the day (and by back in the day, I mean in the late 70's when drug use was common and open) and having visited and met artists from a number of other art schools during that time, I can assure you that there really is no noticeable difference between artwork made by drug users and artwork made by non-drug users.

We could fill a gallery the size of Grand Central Station with art, half by people who never touched drugs and the other half by people who "inhaled". You would not have any clue. You'd have no way of telling which was which.

I'm not saying that substances get mixed up with chemistry don't effect art output. I'm saying you could not tell.

Read the rest