Boing Boing 

Rob Ford excuses, uttered by a child

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was caught lying about smoking crack (and after months of smearing people who accused him of doing so as liars), he busted out the most weaselly, stupid excuse anyone had ever heard. To make it clear how unsuitable this level of discourse is in office, Central Fiction's produced this video in which a child deploys the Rob Ford defense about a cracked window.

Rob Ford's Words in the Mouth of a Child (Thanks, Emily!)

Rob Ford and Canada's neoliberal agenda


If you've shaken your head in wonder that Canadians -- gentle, sensible Canadians -- had elected a drug-addicted, violent, lying buffoon to run its largest city, this excellent account of the rise of the Canadian neoliberal right by historian Paul Cohen is required reading. Cohen draws on disparate threads from Preston Manning to Mike Harris and connects them to Stephen Harper, Rob Ford, and the rise of a nasty, ugly Made-in-Canada version of Thatcherism, Reaganism, and modern neoliberalism.

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Poster campaign: Anyone but Rob Ford for Mayor

Rethink (an ad agency that does viral media) has teamed up with No Ford Nation to putup joke election signs in Toronto for an Anyone-But-Rob-Ford campaign. They feature photos of scruffy, disreputable fellows with captions like, "The current mayor threatens to kill people and gets publicly drunk. IF ELECTED I PROMISE I WILL JUST GET PUBLICLY DRUNK."

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Crowdfunding money to finish animated film about Alice in Wonderland on a Toronto streetcar

A reader writes, "Lewis Carroll's Alice takes an eventful trip on a streetcar in contemporary Toronto in this short stop-motion animated video. The character of Alice from Lewis Carroll's famous children's novels is transported to contemporary Toronto where, like many native Torontonians, she takes a ride on the streetcar. As with many trips on the public transit, she encounters a succession of strange characters who engage her in (equally strange) conversations. The dialogue is borrowed directly from Through the Looking-Glass, but given a fresh & funny new twist in this stop-motion animation. Jennifer Linton is trying to raise funds for sound recording to an already visually complete project."

Linton's work is very beautiful, and she's looking to raise a very modest sum to finish a movie that looks just great. It's a pity that there isn't a low reward level that gets you online access to the finished short, though -- this would be a cheap reward for Linton to deliver and would let the movie's patrons see what they've funded ($25 gets you a Blu-Ray disc of all of Linton's work).

Update: She's added a private Vimeo link to watch the movie as a $10 perk!

Toronto Alice

Kickstarting a sequel to Scott "Kids in the Hall" Thompson's Danny Husk comic

Tavie sez, "Canadian treasure Scott Thompson's popular Kids in the Hall character, Danny Husk starred in his own graphic novel in 2010, Husk: The Hollow Planet. A blend of fantasy and fable, with lots of humor and sex, it was an hilarious romp that ended mid-story. Now he's got a Kickstarter campaign to get the second volume of Danny's tales published, and to promote it, he's giving away DRM-free digital downloads of Volume 1. I always think it's a really smart idea when creators allow people to read their comix online for free (see: Elfquest) and I'm glad Scott's taking this one to the people. I hope the second volume gets off the ground, because I MUST see how the story ends."

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Drunken, swearing Rob Ford lurches around after photo-op with child

A new video has surfaced of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford swearing, stumbling and cursing in front of City Hall after having his picture taken with a young boy whose mother identified as a fan of the mayor. The mayor, who had promised that he would stop drinking, smoking crack, taking marijuana, hanging out with murderers and notorious gangsters, and suppressing evidence in criminal investigations, would not comment on the video. His brother, councillor Doug Ford, told reporters that his brother kept his promises, but when confronted with the video, he clarified that the mayor only keeps political promises, and not promises about his obvious, glaring, horrific substance abuse problems.

Rob Ford heard swearing, slurring speech in new video

Canada and South Korea manage a free trade agreement without crazy copyright provisions

Michael Geist writes, "Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. The focus is understandably on tariff issues, but the agreement also contains a full chapter on intellectual property (note that the governments have only released summaries of the agreement, not the full text, which is still being drafted). The IP chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals - particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia - the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. The approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections."

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Rob Ford's pitiable moment on Jimmy Kimmel

Toronto Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford flew to Los Angeles for an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. What followed was more than a little awkward. Kimmel is a great pains to hide his dislike of Ford, but he's not entirely successful. The hardest part comes at the end, when Kimmel confronts Ford with the fact that he is an out-of-control alcoholic, whose blackouts, binges, abuse and dangerous behavior are putting him, the city, and the people he loves at risk. Ford's total denial is genuinely pitiable. Joey Davilla has a very thorough writeup of the appearance, with links to the other parts of the video.

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Guest review: my daughter reviews Ariol

I love reading with my daughter, Poesy, who has just turned six. We agree on almost all of her favorites, and re-reading them is one of our best-loved activities, and how we pass the time on boring bus-rides and so forth. However, there are a few books that Poesy loves, but which leave me cold. First among these is are the Ariol books, a long-running French kids' comic series that are being swiftly translated into English by Papercutz (there are three books out so far, and a fourth is due in May). Ariol was co-created by the amazing and talented Emmanuel Guibert, whose other work includes the anarcho-gonzo Sardine kids' comics; the brilliant WWII memoir Alan's War, and the extraordinary memoir of doctors in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, The Photographer.

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Toronto Web Fest call for submissions

Robbo sez, "The first annual Toronto Web Fest is happening this May 9-11th and they are still taking submissions until March 9th - so if anyone has a Web series they'd like to enter - now is the time. T.O. WebFest is a 3 day festival of screenings and industry events being held at the Harbourfront Centre to celebrate the burgeoning Web series community.

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Canadian court rules on copyright trolls: letters can go ahead, under strict supervision

Michael Geist writes, "The Canadian federal court has released its much anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. The case attracted significant attention for several reasons: it is the first major "copyright troll" case in Canada involving Internet downloading (the recording industry previously tried unsuccessfully to sue 29 alleged file sharers), the government sought to discourage these file sharing lawsuits against individuals by creating a $5,000 liability cap for non-commercial infringement, TekSavvy ensured that affected subscribers were made aware of the case and CIPPIC intervened to ensure the privacy issues were considered by the court. Copies of all the case documents can be found here."

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Sculptor collaborates with honeybees to cover statues with comb


Canadian artist Aganetha Dyck carefully coaxes bees into enmeshing tatty porcelain statuary with honeycomb, for a result that is both otherworldly and beautiful, like the remains of a long-fallen civilization on whose bones has arisen an insectoid hive-colony. She calls the bees her "guest workers." Her work will be on display at the Ottawa School of Art from March 3, 2014 in a show called Honeybee Alterations.

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Canadian library/makerspace roundup

Here's a roundup of some exciting Canadian library/makerspace news: with makerspaces coming up or open in Edmonton, Hamilton, and Toronto. (Thanks, Gary!)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford declares "Bob Marley Day"

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford declared yesterday to be "Bob Marley Day." It's hard to read the tea-leaves on this one: is it a wink-wink reach-out to the stoner vote from a mayor who admitted to smoking crack and who has been accused by his staff in sworn affidavits of both smoking weed at work and offering weed as a ransom in exchange for the return of his lost mobile phone? Is it a charm offensive aimed at Toronto's large Jamaican/West Indian population, many of whom were offended by the mayor's drunken impression of an angry, ranting patois-speaker? Is it a totally non-ironic celebration of a great musician and great political thinker (albeit one whose politics ran totally contrary to the mayor's own)?

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Toronto's reference library gets a makerspace


Toronto's Metro Reference Library has unveiled its new makerspace, which sports 3D printer and scanners, Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits, and digital AV production gear. They've also lured the Toronto Mini-Maker Faire into relocating to their space. The library's makerspace will over classes and workshops on programming, hardware hacking, and repairing your electronics. It's a great all-ages/all-comers complement to Toronto's existing makerspaces, including Hacklab, Site3, and Makerkids.

The location couldn't be any better, either. I love Metro Ref. When I was 14, I dropped out of high-school without telling my parents and started taking the subway down to Yonge and Bloor every day, spending all day at the reference library, spelunking in the shelves, subject indices and (especially) the newspaper microfilm, which was amazing. And I've always loved the idea of makerspaces in libraries: as I wrote during last year's Freedom to Read week, "We need to master computers — to master the systems of information, so that we can master information itself. That's where makers come in."

In a brief interview with Torontist, Toronto City Librarian Jane Pyper explains why the library's opened a makerspace:

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Rob Ford's re-election campaign

Kelly Manchester put together this brilliant video, suggesting designs for some of Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford's re-election posters for the next Toronto mayoral race. All are real quotes from the real mayor, who is a really, really bad person.

Video imagines nightmare Rob Ford re-election posters (Thanks, Mom!)

Canada's weirdly recursive geography

Mrmcd sez, "Contained within the borders of Canada are: the world's largest island in a lake on an island; the world's largest island in a lake on an island in a lake; and the world's largest island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ticketed, allegedly for public intoxication, in Vancouver

More news of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's disastrous car-wreck of a life. After swearing off drugs and alcohol (and insisting that he didn't have a problem with either), he's not only been getting so loaded that he finds himself transformed into the lead in a terrible one-man amateur production of "The Harder They Come"; he also was allegedly so drunk after a family funeral in Vancouver that a cop gave him a ticket for public drunkenness and jaywalking. You'd think a man devoted to ending the "war on cars" would be more deferential to their place in the road.

Ford claims he wasn't ticketed for public intoxication, and that all he'd drunk was a "diet Coke."

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Bieber and Ford as Gilligan and the Skipper

Here's this week's unidentified bit of net.clever seeking reidentification: a photoshopped Gilligan's Island image with Justin Beiber as Gilligan and Toronto's crack-smoking, Bieber-defending mayor Rob Ford as the Skipper -- found in Steve Silberman's Twitter stream. Do you know who made it? Weigh in in the comments and I'll add attribution to the post.

Canadian Wifi spying: Harper's secretary spins, lies, and slanders in Parliament

Following on this week's Snowden leak detailing how Canadian spy agency CSEC illegally intercepted free airport Wifi and used it to track Canadians as they moved around the country, Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stood up in Parliament and issued a non-denial saying that the CBC had it all wrong, but not saying in what way.

The most shameful part of this was when Calandra used ad hominem to distract his audience from his government's criminal acts, slandering journalist Glenn Greenwald by calling him a "porn-spy," incorrectly stating that Greenwald had sold the leaked documents to the CBC, and then making a big deal out of the fact that Greenwald's bank account is in Brazil. The last part would be a bit mysterious, except for the fact that Greenwald lives in Brazil.

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Free curriculum for maker-kids: toy hacking, 3D printing, Arduino rovers and more!


Andy Forest from Makerkids, a Toronto makerspace for kids, writes, "Together, Kids Learning Code, MakerKids, TIFF and the Toronto Public Library have just finished developing 7 comprehensive maker curriculum modules for libraries, schools and other organizations who want to get kids started being Makers. The Mozilla Hive Network Toronto provided funding support. The modules are designed for a non-technical audience and contain all the information needed to teach these topics:"

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Canadian spies illegally tracked travellers using free airport Wifi

A new Snowden leak reported on the CBC reveals that secretive Canadian spy-agency CSEC was illegally spying on Canadians by collecting information from the free Wifi service in major airports and cross-referencing it with intercepted information from Wifi at cafes, libraries and other public places in Canada.

The agency is prohibited from spying on Canadians without a warrant, but it captured data on all travellers in a Canadian airport, ensuring that it captured an enormous amount of sensitive information about Canadians. It claims that because it did not "target" Canadians (that is, it spied on everyone, regardless of nationality), they somehow weren't "spying" on Canadians.

The CBC article features a brilliant and incandescent Ron Diebert (who runs the Citizenlab centre at the University of Toronto and wrote one of the best books on Internet surveillance, Black Code), and an equally outraged Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario privacy commissioner, who is one of the most savvy privacy advocates in any government.

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Rob Ford sued for jailhouse beating of his ex-brother-in-law

Here's a new turn in the saga of Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford, the mayor of Toronto: a lawsuit alleges that he had a couple of his former football team proteges beat six kind of hell out of his estranged brother-in-law in jail. The brother-in-law is suing Ford, saying that when he was in jail, a couple of Ford's former players broke his leg and shattered his teeth as a warning to stay silent about the mayor's drug problem.

Not just Environment and Health: Canadian government attacks libraries from 12 ministries

Canada's Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has led a brutal attack on government libraries: literally burning the country's environmental records and doing such damage to the Health Canada libraries that scientists have set up clandestine libraries in the basements of their offices. But that was just for starters. In all, the Harper government has demolished the library collections of twelve ministries, including:

The Canada Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration, Employment and Social Development Canada, Environment Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Natural Resources Canada, Parks Canada, the Public Service Commission, Public Works and Government Services, and Transport Canada.

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Citizen Lab calls on Canada's telcos to publish transparency report

As American telcoms operators take up the practice of publishing transparency reports showing how many law-enforcement requests they receive, Canadian activists are wondering why Canada's telcoms sector hasn't followed suit. Citizen Lab, whose excellent work at the University of Toronto is documented in lab leader Ron Deibert's must-read book Black Code, has issued public letters addressed to the nation's phone companies and ISPs, formally requesting that they publish aggregate statistics on law-enforcement requests.

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Canadian Recording Industry Association of America demands Internet censorship and control of search-results

Graham Henderson, the chief spokesjerk for Music Canada -- the voice in Canada for the big US labels represented by the RIAA -- wants Parliament to regulate the Internet, creating a regime of censorship and surveillance in the name of protecting Canadian musicians (whose worst enemy, it must be noted, are the labels who pay Henderson's handsome wages, and not the fans he wants to attack). Henderson wants to control search-engine rankings because, he claims, the first seven pages' of results for Canadian musicians are pirate sites. Only one problem: he's lying. (via /.)

Health Canada scientists setting up unofficial libraries as national libraries fail

More from the Canadian Harper government's War on Libraries (see also: literally burning the environmental archives). Dave writes, "Health Canada scientists are also facing difficulties with government controlled libraries. It takes an insanely long time for them to receive any materials due to third-party delivery companies; they've started opening up their own unsanctioned libraries and have started taking advantage of external sources (industry and universities). This is turning into an insane story. There's obviously demand for the material within government circles, but policy and cuts are making it impossible to access, resulting in statistics of diminished use, which results in more cuts."

Health Canada used to have 40 librarians. Now it has six.

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Coloured ice fortress


Redditor Unspeakablefilth lives in northern Ontario, where December was plenty cold (daytime highs of -25C!). He made the best of an icy situation by freezing blocks of coloured ice in shifts, a new batch every 12 hours, ending up with hundreds of them, which he used to piece together a gorgeous ice-fortress that he opened up to his neighbours. The Imgur set does a great job of showing off the build process and the ensuing enjoyment.

It's a great variation on last winter's coloured ice igloo from Edmonton. Can't wait to see what next year brings!

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Sponges sneeze

In Evolutionary origins of sensation in metazoans: functional evidence for a new sensory organ in sponges, Danielle A Ludeman and her team at the University of Alberta document the heretofore unsuspected phenomenon of sneezing in freshwater sponges. When these sponges are stimulated with damaging sediment, they close their chimneys and inflate themselves to bursting, then abruptly "sneeze" out the irritants -- a process that unfolds very slowly (documented above in timelapse). I found out about this thanks to a fascinating interview (MP3) with the researcher on CBC Radio's As It Happens.

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Woman eats 4.5lb steak in less than 3 min

Hats off to Canadian Molly Schuyler, who undertook a record-breaking 72-oz steak consumption on a whim at Sayler's of Portland, OR. Schuyler polished off the 4.5lb slab of meat in less than three minutes. The world record time this feat stood at 6:48. It's not clear whether Schuyler's record has official standing, though: record-setting conditions appear to stipulate that challengers use a knife and fork, not their hands. Nevertheless, Schuyler has done something amazing.

Molly Schuyler Vs. Sayler's 72 oz Steak Record - New World Record (via Neatorama)