Boing Boing 

Canada's spies surveil the whole world's downloads

A newly released Snowden leak jointly published by the CBC and The Intercept documents Canada's Communications Security Establishment's LEVITATION program, which spies on 15 million downloads from P2P, file lockers, and popular file distribution sites.

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Flowers in ice


Azuma Makoto's "Iced Flowers" is a time-based installation of flowers in frozen blocks that "change themselves over time."

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Supermarket spaceships from the 1950s


In the 1950s, massive model spaceships sponsored by food brands traveled the highways and byways of America between grocery stores and state fairs to delight a public excited about our spacefaring future.

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This Horse Raised By Spheres


A beautiful and weird interactive art site.

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From Page to Screen: Joseph Delaney on The Last Apprentice Series


Some people think that being a writer is glamorous. I know that I once did. I dreamed of finally getting published and all the amazing fun that would follow. I imagined traveling to distant countries, staying in city hotels and seeing the sights.

Most of these dreams came true and I do enjoy it, but sometimes it can be hard work: having to grab a coffee and manage without breakfast to be in time to travel to some school event; attending a bookshop when hardly anybody turns up; spending a night alone in a strange town on a wet Monday; visiting a big city but seeing only the inside of your hotel room. So when you actually do live the life of a writer, it’s not as glamorous as some people might believe.

The same is true of filmmaking. In the spring of 2012, I visited Vancouver, Canada, to watch the movie version of The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (published in the UK as The Spook’s Apprentice) being made. The film is called Seventh Son, and the name is a good choice. After all you have to be a seventh son of a seventh son just to be eligible to become a spook’s apprentice.

They have created some amazing sets, designed by Dante Ferretti, winner of an Oscar for his work on Hugo. I was shown the preliminary models and artworks, then the sets themselves. They are very big and very convincing. I saw a walled city set in a huge muddy field. It was like a building site, complete with heavy machinery and workers in hard hats. There was no glamour there.

That comes afterward.

I met Jeff Bridges, who plays the Spook. He looked convincing. He believed that he was the Spook—I could see it in his eyes. Yes, he was the Spook! Then I watched him playing the same scene over and over again until he and everyone else (especially the director, Sergei Bodrov), were satisfied. There were a lot of people involved, and each one of them knew exactly what to do. It was an action scene and the Spook kept falling backward against a pillar, in danger of his life. He was covered in dust and he probably had bruises or at least aching bones the following day. It wasn’t glamorous. It was hard work.

The glamour comes later.

After four months of filming, post-production began. They spent hours, days, weeks, and months editing the film until each section was perfect. Now, like a Pendle witch casting the spell called “glamour,” the film comes to life and the magic will be there.

Is it a good film? The answer is yes. I watched a special preview of Seventh Son in Paris in a small private cinema belonging to Universal Studios.

Is it spectacular? The answer is yes. I watched it in 3-D, and there is a great deal of action, conflict, and combat. There are creatures of the dark that lurch out of the screen and try to remove your head, your heart, or maybe even your thumb bones. And there are witches; lots and lots of witches.


Photo: “Cyborgia“


Larger size here.

From the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, shot and shared by reader John K. Goodman.

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“You Shall Not Pass” area rug


By designer Jeremy Bingham, a very funny area rug in various sizes, starting at $28.

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Beautiful olde-timey GIF art from the Gif Opera Cabinet


Lovely, evocative animated GIFs from classic source materials.

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One month to Net Neutrality showdown at FCC: add the countdown to your site!

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Today is exactly one month before the FCC's much anticipated vote on new net neutrality rules -- this could be the most important vote for the future of the Internet in our lifetimes."

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Incredible LEGO Pompeii model


This incredible LEGO model of Pompeii is on display at Sydney, Australia's Nicholson Museum.

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Great Firewall of Cameron blocks sex-abuse charities

UK Prime Minister David Cameron demanded that ISPs opt their customers into "adult content" filters (and now Sky is opting in everyone whose account predates this announcement), ignoring all the people who correctly predicted that these filters would block important sites.

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Eat your cereal out of a zombie's rotting brainpan

Or better yet, some kind of greyish custard: $13 from Thinkgeek, dishwasher/microwave safe. (via Geeky Merch)

E=MC2 bowtie

Want to wear a bowtie, but afraid it won't be nerdy enough? The $25 Einstein bowtie is just the thing for you. (via Geeky Merch)

USA McDonald's fries have 14 ingredients. UK McDonald's fries have 4.

Here's a followup to my earlier post about McDonald's fries. In 2013 Food Babe posted the ingredients for McDonald's fries in the US and in the UK.

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Mythbusters' Grant Imahara reverse engineers McDonald's fries and learns they have 19 ingredients

Grant Imahara visited McDonald's fry factory and found out what they are made of. Keep in mind this video series was made by McDonald's and I don't know if McDonald's had a final say on what went into it, but it's still interesting to see how these fries are made and how many ingredients are used to make them: 19 (really, 14, since some of the ingredients are used twice during the process).

Last night, my wife roasted potato slices and the only ingredients she used were potatoes, olive oil, and salt. They tasted great.

UPDATE: See my post comparing the ingredients used to make fries in the US and the UK.

Cool $59 pocket synthesizers from Teenage Engineering

Teenage Engineering, makers of the amazing $850 OP-1 synthesizer, have designed three nifty $59 pocket synths: the PO-12 "rhythm" drum machine, the PO-14 "sub" bass synth, and the PO-16 "factory" melody synth. The Verge has a first look.

Despite their spartan design, the synths have a host of smart features that make these devices far more powerful than they might appear. Each device has two 3.5mm ports, which lets you output audio to a mixer as well as chain all three devices together, with a master unit setting the tempo and patterns for the other "slave" units to follow. Another low-tech (but no less useful) design decision is the small wire stand on the back that lets you prop up the devices for easy use on a table. Even the power source is clever — the PO series runs on two AAA batteries, something I haven’t used outside of remotes in years.

Mike Huckabee: Ted Nugent good, Beyoncé bad


Former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee defended his love for Ted Nugent (who wrote a song called "Jailbait" about raping a 13-year-old girl and asking a cop to handcuff her so the cop and the rapist could "share" her) on The Daily Show last night.

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The Emoticon Art of Nicholas Mottola Jacobsen


"io non tr(emoji), a digital art series by the Italian designer Nicholas Mottola Jacobsen.

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The weird crybaby soldiers of sculptor Johnson Tsang


Who Did it? Again!,” a series of porcelain toy soldiers by Johnson Tsang, from 2014.

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Humans demonstrate how a cantilever bridge works (circa 1890)

"To illustrate the design principle behind Scotland’s Forth Bridge, engineer Sir Benjamin Baker offered a personal demonstration." [via]

Sir John Fowler (left) and Baker (right) each hold two wooden poles with outstretched arms, forming two diamond shapes. When construction foreman Kaichi Watanabe sits in the center, the diamonds are prevented from tipping inward because their outer ends are anchored.

It worked. The bridge, opened in 1890, held the record as the world’s longest single cantilever bridge span for 17 years.

Teacher wants to give desk cycles to her inner city high school students

Mrs. Fabian is a teacher at East Boston High School in a high-poverty area in Massachusetts. She's learned that giving DeskCycles to her students has helped their ability to focus tremendously. She is seeking donations to buy 9 8 more (we bought one for her classroom).

"My students are ambitious, street smart, funny, out of the box thinkers that can lead passionate analytical debate and write moving, crushing memoirs. They have what it takes. What we need are resources such as desk cycles. Students that have difficulty with the intense amount of seat time involved in a high school day, are hyperactive, and/or attempting to be healthier, can unobtrusively exercise while working.

My students absolutely love the current desk cycle. It straps to the bottom of the desk. One example: I have a hyperactive student that was previously only comfortable working off a clipboard so that he could stand or walk around, which was a tiny bit distracting. Now he can work at a desk, spread out his stuff, and others don't notice him. Another girl loves working with it because she wants a "Bum like Beyonce" and she is delighted to spend her first block getting fit while she works. She now comes to school in layers so she can comfortably work out. This has added to her grade, simply because it has increased her attendance. I have her first block and she was chronically late previously."

A suitcase exhibit of pill bottles collected from the rich & famous

Bill Harris has collected 50 prescription medicine bottles from famous people (he either asked the celebrities to donate them to him or he bought them from other collectors). He made a cool display case to hold 42 of the bottles. Donors include Rod Stewart, Doris Day, Barbra Streisand, John Stamos, Cher, Kirk Douglas, Phyllis Diller, James Stewart, and Marlon Brando.

Los Angeles Magazine has the story, with comments from Harris on some of the bottles and their former owners.



(for Vicodin)

“This one, from a Malibu pharmacy, proves that even when you have Frank Sinatra’s money, you still buy generic.”

How Stevie Wonder helped create Martin Luther King Day


Did you know Stevie Wonder was instrumental in the creation of Martin Luther King Day? I didn't. Cuepoint has the inspiring story.

...In 1979, President Jimmy Carter, who had been elected with the support of the unions, endorsed the bill to create the holiday. Carter made an emotional appearance at King’s old church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. But Congress refused to budge, led by conservative Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who denounced King as a lawbreaker who had been manipulated by Communists. The situation looked bleak.

By then, Wonder had matured from a young harmonica-playing sensation to a chart-topping music genius lauded for his complex rhythms and socially-conscious lyrics about racism, black liberation, love and unity. He had kept in touch with Coretta Scott King, regularly performing at rallies to push for the holiday. He told a cheering crowd in Atlanta in the summer of 1979, “If we cannot celebrate a man who died for love, then how can we say we believe in it? It is up to me and you.”

"How Stevie Wonder Helped Create Martin Luther King Day" (Cuepoint)



A photo of a lake in the Bavarian Alps, shared in the Boing Boing Flickr pool by Boing Boing reader P.S. Zoeller.

Ecstatic NSA spooks delight in spying on spies who are spying on spies

A tranche of fresh Snowden leaks published in Der Spiegel by Laura Poitras, Jacob Appelbaum and others detail the NSA's infiltration of other countries' intelligence services, detailing the bizarre, fractal practices of "fourth-party collection" and "fifth-party collection."

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This $10 oven crisper pan is great for sweet potatoes

Soon after I started using my Paderno vegetable slicer to cut sweet potatoes into curls, I bought an oven crisper pan. This thing is great. Instead of drenching the slices in hot oil to fry them, I just put them in a bowl, add a bit of salt and olive oil and stir until the slices are lightly coated.

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Bitcoin is collapsing

Barry Silbert, creator of the Bitcoin Trust, says it's because there are "more sellers than buyers." What will make it go back up? "More buyers than sellers." [via]

Yes, global warming is real: 2014 was the world's hottest year on record

The year 2014 was the warmest since recording the planetary temperature began in 1880, according to an analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. And nine out of the 10 hottest years since those records began happened after 2000. The trend continues a long-term warming of the planet. Global warming is real.

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The beautiful works of Nermin Er, master papercraft artist from Turkey


Some of the beautiful cut-paper works of artist Nermin Er, born in and based in Istanbul.

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A fantastic standing (or sitting) desk


I love my government surplus Hamilton drafting table. I found it for $175 on Craigslist.

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