Boing Boing 

Critical Commons vs. Hitler: resource for free/open media and fair use

Critical Commons has created its own entry in the great Hitler in the bunker remix meme. Steve Anderson sez, "The video is also promoting the fair use advocacy site Critical Commons, which is a fair use advocacy and media sharing site, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. This is currently the most radical media-sharing site on the open internet. Designed for media educators and students, Critical Commons makes high-quality, copyrighted media publicly available by placing it in a critical context and informing users about their rights under fair use."

Critical Commons

Coconut heads on pegboard, Florida, 1960


Charles Phoenix writes:

This is not an art installation in a snooty, big city gallery or museum. (Although it could be and should be.) This is the perky polka dotted wall of a sunshine state souvenir stand dressed with dozens kooky characters. They are to coconuts what tiki gods are to palm tree trunks. Each is hanging there just waiting to be bought, bagged and taken to a new, more permanent home like a patio, tiki bar or rumpus room. Each one has been carefully carved, painted and finished by hand then imported from the exotic island it came from for our pleasure.

Together on the wall they're certainly mesmerizing and nearly hypnotizing. They look at you every time you walk in the room. No two are exactly the same. Each has his, (or her) own personality. I'm not sure that today they would all pass the test of political correctness. Which one would you choose? Or do you just want them all?

Coconut heads on pegboard, Florida, 1960

Interview with bOING bOING's founders

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Tempus fugit. Yes, it's been ten trippy years since Boing Boing became a blog. But it's been more than TWENTY since Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair created the first issue of the bOING bOING 'zine. In celebration of our mutant lineage on this happy day, here is an interview with Mark and Carla that ran in The Book of Zines (1996) by Chip Rowe. The book also included Bill Barker's "Emergency Personal Broadcast TV" and my "I'll Say Anything" from the bOING bOING 'zine. (I've been begging Mark to let me put bOING bOING's predecessor, Toilet Devil, online, but so far no dice.) From the interview:
When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?

Mark: We launched bOING bOING in 1988. I was a mechanical engineer designed one of about 100 parts. It took months and months to design and test your assigned part. All the engineers knew each other by what parts they were designing. I was the motor guy. The engineer next to me was the flex lead guy. On Fridays we'd go to lunch with the actuator guy and the spacer ring guy and talk about sports and imported cars. I hate sports and I hate cars built after 1960, so even the meals were unsatisfying. I needed some kind of creative outlet, so Carla and I decided to start a zine. We decided to explore the coolest, wackiest stuff we could think of, and came up with the name bOING bOING. Bouncing through our crazy world.

Why publish a zine?

Mark: I love zines because one person can be responsible for all 100 parts. There's no money in it, but it can lead to paying gigs if you're good.

Carla: We publish to get "for review" freebies like records and books in the mail. Also, if you're a publisher you don't have to kowtow to anyone. You never have to query. You can say what you want, and talk about stuff the mainstream publications avoid either out of fear or ignorance.

Have you ever published any other zines?

Mark: Before we started bOING bOING, I did two issues of a mini-comic called Toilet Devil. I read an article about a gorilla they trained to use sign language. Whenever the gorilla was mad at one of the humans, she'd call them a toilet devil.

Interview with Mark Frauenfelder & Carla Sinclair, bOING bOING

Ten years of Boing Boing

Happy birthday, Boing Boing! It's been ten years since Mark posted the first-ever Blogger-powered item to, and it's been a hell of a ride ever since. I literally can't imagine what it would be like to stop blogging today, nor what my life would be like if I hadn't had the chance to post tens of thousands of items here since I came onboard some nine years ago.

55,000+ posts later, I still feel like we've barely scratched the surface of the Internet's inexhaustible supply of "wonderful things." You know, you sometimes hear people talking about how crap everything on the net is (sometimes, they'll add "except all the 'stolen' professional content") and I wonder, "Are these people looking at a different Internet than the one that I get?"

Here's to a decade of Boing Boing, to my co-editors, Mark, Xeni and David, to all our contributors, Rob, Lisa, Brandon and Maggie, our longtime business manager John Battelle, and especially to Ken, Dean and every other largely unsung techie who's gotten out of bed at two in the morning to kick our servers into submission.

And here's to a billion more years of glorious blogging!

First post: Street Tech Reviews and news

Int'l. Olympic Committee: gender difference is a disease

Following the Caster Semenya debacle, The International Olympic Committee plans to create health centers that would seek to diagnose and treat athletes who have "disorders of sex development." In other words, being born "intersex" is a disease? Not long ago, doctors and psychologists in the US thought homosexuality was a curable disease (some still do, but most of us regard these "professionals" as kooks).

Does Animal Fat Get a Bum Rap?

Virginia Messina, author of The Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian Diets responded to my post about the new study indicating that animal fat is not very dangerous to your health. Two things to note: one, the study was supported by the National Dairy Council and Unilever Corporate Research, and two, Messina's response was written for a site that promotes veganism. This is a good time to remember Robert Anton Wilson's motto: "Be open to anything, but skeptical of everything." (RAW was probably even skeptical of his motto.)

Shiba Inu Puppy Cam: The Sequel

Puppycamamamamamam Last year, we all fell in sugary sweet love with the pups on the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam. On Saturday, the momma, Kika, birthed a new litter! Now we can fall in love all over again. It's, er, better than Cats.
"Puppies 2: Electric Boogaloo"

OK Go explains the screwed-up state of the music industry

Damian Kulash of the band OK Go has published a tremendously informative, frustrating, and important open letter about the reason that the band's videos can't be embedded on sites like this. OK Go rose to prominence on the strength of its viral Internet videos, but now EMI, its label, won't allow embedding for its videos, because no embedding is possible. Kulash is clearly frustrated by this impasse, and his ruminations on how the industry got to this place and where it might go are required reading:

The catch: the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn't pay if a video is embedded. This means our label doesn't get their hard-won share of the pie if our video is played on your blog, so (surprise, surprise) they won't let us be on your blog. And, voilá: four years after we posted our first homemade videos to YouTube and they spread across the globe faster than swine flu, making our bassist's glasses recognizable to 70-year-olds in Wichita and 5-year-olds in Seoul and eventually turning a tidy little profit for EMI, we're - unbelievably - stuck in the position of arguing with our own label about the merits of having our videos be easily shared. It's like the world has gone backwards.

Let's take a wider view for a second. What we're really talking about here is the shift in the way we think about music. We're stuck between two worlds: the world of ten years ago, where music was privately owned in discreet little chunks (CDs), and a new one that seems to be emerging, where music is universally publicly accessible. The thing is, only one of these worlds has a (somewhat) stable system in place for funding music and all of its associated nuts-and-bolts logistics, and, even if it were possible, none of us would willingly return to that world. Aside from the smug assholes who ran labels, who'd want a system where a handful of corporate overlords shove crap down our throats? All the same, if music is going to be more than a hobby, someone, literally, has to pay the piper. So we've got this ridiculous situation where the machinery of the old system is frantically trying to contort and reshape and rewire itself to run without actually selling music. It's like a car trying to figure out how to run without gas, or a fish trying to learn to breath air.

Open Letter From OK Go, regarding non-embeddable YouTube videos

HOWTO survive a nuclear attack - Mutual of Omaha, 1951

This 1951 Mutual of Omaha duck-and-cover ad explains how to survive a nuclear attack, giving such wise advise as "resist the impulse to look toward the source of this burning brightness," "shield yourself from the flash of brilliance," and "be alert for the blast wave." Helpful stuff.

...and, maybe, just maybe, buy yourself a little life insurance. (Thanks, Copyranter!)

Taking Games Seriously: UK debate on the place of video games

Progressive UK Labour MP Tom Watson (with whom I serve on the Open Rights Group advisory council) is putting on a panel on how government can support and nurture the video-games industry, calling games "the world's fastest-growing and most lucrative entertainment medium." It's in Westminster on Jan 25 at 6:30 PM, and open to the public.
I am chairing a discussion on the place of video games and virtual worlds in modern society - the lessons we might learn from them, their dangers, and why the public debate needs to move beyond breathless accusations about violent, screen-addicted young people.
Taking Video Games Seriously (via Wonderland)

(Image: Gaming Day, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from nickstone333's photostream)

3D-printed version of the cover illo from Makers

Joris Peels from Shapeways liked the cover on the HarperCollins UK edition of my novel Makers, which features a variety of objects depicted in the novel as plastic model-parts attached to a sprue. Shapeways being a custom 3D printing shop, Joris whipped up an incredibly detailed 3D version of the cover illustration, which arrived in today's post. Color me grateful, delighted and gobsmacked. Thanks, Joris!

Update: Joris adds, "The design was modeled by Shapeways Community member Dmitry Kobzar; He spent 13 hours and 7 minutes making it. He will be thrilled that you're happy with it. The reason I asked Dmitry to model it was so we could make Makers come to life just like the people in your book do."

We're going to release the model files under a Creative Commons license. Watch this space!

Shapeways 3D printed version of the UK Makers cover

Steampunk "Raptor Pilot" mask #4

Ukrainian steampunk leatherworker Bob Basset continues to knock 'em out of the park with his "Raptor Pilot" series. Here's number 4.


Search for the ultimate espresso: a video with Kyle of Intelligentsia Coffee

In the video above, Kyle Glanville of Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea shows you how to make a really great cup of espresso (more here).

Clay Shirky's advice for women: go ahead, be an asshole!

Deep Thinker Clay Shirky has posted "A Rant About Women," which explores the notion that men tend to be more comfortable with assertive, self-promotey behavior than their female peers. Shirky thoughtfully argues that this is a big factor conspiring against the professional success of women, as is the negative response women often get when they model this behavior. The comments (many by women) are also interesting.

Worldwide Day of Prayer to Heal Trig Palin:

"Science has no way to undo this condition, which is the result of an extra chromosome; but God can. When Trig Palin is found to be miraculously healed, everyone but the most hardened atheist will have to acknowledge God's Majesty!" Pray 4 Trig, the "Worldwide Day of Prayer to Heal Trig Palin." (via Steven Leckart)

Nails look like they were cut with pinking shears


Funny manicure.

How bad is animal fat?

From Seth Roberts blog:
A to-be-published meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports my view that animal fat is nowhere as bad as we’ve been told a thousand times. It says:

During 5–23 y of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, . . . intake of [more] saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease], stroke, or CVD [cardiovascular disease]. The pooled relative risk estimates that compared extreme quantiles of saturated fat intake were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.19; P = 0.22) for CHD, 0.81 (95% CI: 0.62, 1.05; P = 0.11) for stroke, and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.11; P = 0.95) for CVD.

Emphasis added. One aspect of the results suggested that studies that found an positive association (more fat, more disease) were more likely to be published than those that didn’t find an association or found a negative association. Which means these numbers may underestimate the good effects.

I guess I'll keep frying my eggs in bacon grease!

How bad is animal fat?

Korean court legalizes some game-item sales

It's hard to parse out the nuances in this news-story, but it appears that a high Korean court has taken steps to legalize the practice of selling virtual goods from video-games for real cash, provided that the virtual goods are acquired through work and skill, not luck or chance. The implication appears to be that game-companies can essentially mint money:

The two allegedly purchased "Aden," cyber money in an online multiplayer role-playing game "Lineage," worth 234 million won ($207,558), which was lower than market price, through game item-trading Web sites.

Then they allegedly resold those purchased items to some 2,000 other players and earned about 20 million won.

Aden is used to buy accessories, cyber weapons and other items that appear in the game so that players' avatars - characters living in the online virtual world - in the game can gain more power.

Supreme Court acquits two in cyber money game case

(Image: Lineage 2) (via /.)

No Pants! Subway Ride 2010

On January 10, our friends at Improv Everywhere held their annual No Pants! Subway Ride. In New York City, more than 3,000 people participated. Another couple thousand rode pantsless in more than 40 other cities around the world. Above is the video evidence. No Pants Subway Ride 2010

Meet your meat


A new slideshow on Treehugger takes you inside a hipster/foodie hog butchery workshop, via photos of dead pig parts that are not nearly as front-page friendly as the one posted above. The goal: Understanding where the meat you buy comes from and what the process of turning animal into meat looks like—at least, in the traditional one-guy-with-a-knife sense. It's an interesting bit of DIY food production + often-ignored reality, and I'm reminded of some favorite scenes from Little House in the Big Woods (head cheese! bladder balloon!).

The story also contains a link to a fascinating side article on 5 Things To Do With Leftover Bacon Fat—which involves both bourbon, and cookies. How could it be wrong?

Treehugger: Graphic Images from Hog Butchery Workshop in New York

Image courtesy Flickr user rumpleteaser, via CC

Public Enemy's By the Time I Get to Arizona

A few minutes late, but man, this is good stuff.

YouTube - Public Enemy - By The Time I Get To Arizona (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Photos of William Burroughs's belongings

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In the 1970s, William S. Burroughs lived in New York City's Lower East Side in a former YMCA locker room, a windowless room affectionally referred to as The Bunker. Of course, Burroughs spent his later years in Lawrence, Kansas, but after his 1997 death, Burroughs's friend and landlord, avant-garde poet John Giorno kept the writer's Bunker bedroom intact. Photographer Peter Ross took a lovely series of photos of Uncle Bill's belongings. From an interview with Ross in The Morning News:
How did you choose what articles you wanted to photograph?

Most of the items just jumped out at me. How could I pull a book titled Medical Implications of Karate Blows out of a stack and not photograph it? Or the typewriter with his name on it? The blow darts and board that hang on the wall in his bedroom?

Well, how did you decide on the angle for each photograph--why the bottoms of the shoes, for example, instead of the tops?

I challenged myself to try and find what was unique to the items. I was looking for something historical and specific to their owner, and short of that I was pushing for an off-kilter angle or placement.

Shoes are just shoes, but only one man wore the holes into the bottoms of this pair. Just think of where these shoes have been, the conversations they have witnessed. These shoes likely have met many of my heroes of New York's 1970s and '80s culture.

"Burroughs" by Peter Ross (Thanks, Xeni!)

Emergency room accidents: a cavalcade of winceworthy moments

The South Florida Sun Sentinel's database of emergency room failures will induce instantaneous wincey click-trances in all but the hardest-hearted. Between the telegraph-style notes and the bizarre injuries, it's like reading demented haiku from the Itchy and Scratchy writing-team: HORSING AROUND W/ A FRIEND IN THE SHED CUT ARM ON A MACHETTE LACERATION LEFT FOREARM, SWALLOWED A BATTERY, STRUCK BY MAT BLOWN BY WIND AT STORE, PATIENT WITH ROUND TOY BALL IN EAR UNKNOWN AMOUNT OF TIME; FB REMOVED.

SEARCH Database: Injuries reported by emergency rooms (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Image: 365 Days -- Attempt #2 -- Day 8 -- Mmmmm.... IV Painkillers really help!, a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike image from pmarkham's photostream)

"I'm going to wake up as a nom nom"

Manvszombies is another micro-blogged mini-fiction about the zombiecaust, but this time the protagonist is about as mindless as the victims. What more perfect medium to capture the thoughts of zombies? I'd put the odds of marketing stunt at 4/7. Cynical, me! [Thanks, Neo Xander De La Vega]

What goes into making human robot girls, 1941


John Ptak, a dealer in rare science books, has a post about pamphlets published by The Ladies Home Journal from the mid 20th century that are "social engineering how-to's for youngish girls." He says "they'll make your teeth hurt."

Perhaps it was the ["How to Rate Another Date"] pamphlet that caused most of my teeth to fall out --- it is sheer and painful, offering virtually nothing to the young women reading it and practicing its morality play but gender obedience and servility.

"Did you give him all your attention?" "Did he run things?" "Did you give him a chance to impress you?" "Could you make him laugh?"  It isn't until the final rating question (#25) that we get to something that opened the possibility of a two-way interest in the relationship, but only barely: "Did you find you liked the same things?" It's sad, really. 

When I read some of this to my 17-year-old daughter, she just looked at me with an open mouth and eyebrow furrows:  it was simply beyond listening to, for her, and certainly not anywhere near worthy of a response. 

What Goes into Making Human Robot Girls, 1941

CBS uncovers rare Jack Benny treasures, puts them back and tosses out the key

When Jack Benny fans discovered that the CBS vaults contained some 25 original Jack Benny TV show episodes previously thought lost, they rejoiced. They approached the network for release of the public-domain footage, even offering to foot the bill for digital transfer and preservation. CBS balked, insisting that the fan club get approval from the Benny estate. No problem: Jack Benny's descendants were only too glad to have his original TV shows rescued from obscurity and given to the world.

But CBS balked again, citing unspecified "issues" (presumably potential copyrights in the score or other materials). Basically, CBS has decided that it could cost too much to pay a lawyer to figure out if they can release these films -- or even turn them over to Benny's fans and family for release -- and so it has decided to simply abandon them, sealing them back up in the vault forever.

This isn't how it's supposed to work. In the Constitution's progress clause, Congress is empowered to "promote the progress of the arts" through copyright. When copyright creates these deadlocks that doom America's artistic heritage to history's scrapheap, copyright needs to change.

Late last week the International Jack Benny Fan Club got some very bad news: rather than allow the club with the Benny family's enthusiastic blessing to digitally preserve some unreleased public domain Benny show masters that CBS has in its possession, the network is giving a thumbs down to the idea -- thus sealing these shows' fate so they will never be seen again. In effect, it's a bullet through the head of this body of Benny work. And here is the most frustrating tidbit for comedy fans and those who study comedy: the Fan Club offered to do the preservation at no cost to CBS.

Why does this matter? Benny invented the situation comedy on radio in the 1930s, had perfect timing, assembled a cast of zany characters who poked fun at him, could extend a laugh by the way he slowly panned around the room after a punch line and influenced comedians such as Kelsey Grammer and Johnny Carson. In his final years, he could literally read a page out of the phone book and get laughs. His final weekly series went off the air in 1964 but he continued to do specials until he died in 1974.

Killing Comedic Heritage? CBS Reportedly Seals Some Classic Jack Benny Show Comedy Masters

Facebook: Tell Les Moonves to preserve The Jack Benny Benny Program masters (Thanks, Dale!)

Photos of derelict Japanese sanatorium

Den from Tokyo Times sends us this collection of photos from the ruins of the Higashi Izu-cho Hospital Isolation Ward: "A predominantly wooden structure that, due to its location in a relatively dense bamboo forest, is rapidly decaying -- the sanatorium's brave battle with mother nature now very much a long lost cause."

Bleak and abandoned isolation ward (Thanks, Den!)

Homemade Tetris blanket

Katherine sez, "This is a photo of the Tetris blanket I made for a friend as an Agnostica gift. It took me four months to make, and I wanted to show off a little."

Tetris blanket (Thanks, Katherine!)

Awful dance music remixes of Strawberry Fields Forever

I am unable to stop listening to Gigi d'Agostino's unpleasant cover of Strawberry Fields Forever. It's not merely bad, but an atrocity that seems a parody of dance music: overlaying the cacophony is a recurring simulation of club-inflicted tinnitus. Why can't I get it out of my head? The Beatles wedded to nascent stirrings of 1990s nostaglia? Insane! I know! Perhaps you imagine it could not be worse. You would be wrong. Exhibit A: Candy Flip's own version of S.F.F., which stormed the British charts in 1990. Then I was but a child and knew no better--now there no excuses. YouTube has more. Also from the same abyss: listening to the theme tune from Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (wherein the apotheosis of European culture is found at the intersection of French literature, Spanish television and British children's music); You are a Pirate; and anything at all by The Shamen. Update: Gigi's version of Nik Kershaw's The Riddle is, of course, genius.

Get well soon, Kage!

Our best wishes to sf writer Kage Baker, whose uterine cancer has metastasised and reached her brain. She is undergoing urgent, drastic therapy and welcomes good wishes from her friends and admirers.