U.S. Highway Administration orders return to vintage typeface

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In 2004, a more legible typeface, Clearview, was approved to improve America's road signs. But after a decade of use, U.S. Federal Highway Administration has decided to return to the old typeface, publicly available as Highway Gothic.

The reasoning isn't clear—they claim that it's actually more legible than Clearview, but are yet to explain why or offer research to back up the decision. Highway Gothic, designed in the 1940s, has peculiarities held to compromise its legibility. Clearview's letter forms were designed to be visible at greater distances and under less favorable lighting and weather conditions.

“Helen Keller can tell you from the grave that Clearview looks better,” (designer) Meeker says. At the time, the FHWA agreed. In its 2004 approval memo, the agency noted that Clearview boosted highway-sign legibility for drivers traveling at 45 miles per hour by 80 feet of reading distance—or 1.2 seconds of bonus reading time… From the start, Clearview was greeted as a civic, social, and design success. Around 30 states have adopted the font, making it arguably the dominant design paradigm on U.S. roads. Print magazine called it one of the 10 typefaces of the decade in 2010. The Clearview typeface family was the first digital font ever acquired by the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. People behind the font spoke about it with swagger.

One possibility is that Clearview must be licensed on a per-user basis, making it too expensive. Also mentioned is its resemblance to other official signage typefaces such as Transport. Read the rest

Congressman requests approval to wear Aloha shirt on Fridays

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US Representative Mark Takai, a Democrat from Hawaii, formally requested that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan permit the wearing of Aloha shirts on the House floor on Fridays. The longstanding House dress code is "business attire." Aloha Friday has been a custom in Takai's native state since the 1960s.

"The Aloha shirt is a tangible symbol of the Aloha Spirit - it embraces diversity, inclusion and friendliness that pervades throughout the State of Hawaii," Takai wrote in his letter to Ryan. "Embracing the Aloha shirt will allow members to embrace the Aloha Spirit - something that Washington could use a little more of."

(AP) Read the rest

Meet the only lobbyist pushing for US government "disclosure" of E.T. visitation

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Stephen Bassett is the only lobbyist of his kind in Washington DC. He's working to get the government to admit that it has proof of extraterrestrials visiting our planet. “I want to see disclosure by the New Hampshire primary,” says Bassett who has been working the issue for nearly two decades. From the Washington Post:

...Getting appointments on Capitol Hill wasn’t easy for an advocate who believed that aliens landed at Roswell in 1947 and that the nation’s leaders created a “Truth Embargo” to keep information from getting out.

“Nobody there wanted to touch it,” Bassett said.

In 2013, unable to get anything close to a real congressional hearing, he created a fake one. With a $1 million donation from a Canadian believer, Bassett paid former members of Congress such as Alaskan senator Mike Gravel and Maryland representative Roscoe Bartlett $20,000 to spend a week at the National Press Club listening to testimony about UFOs.

The hours of testimony — from former Air Force officials who believe they saw spacecraft, or accounts of animals found dissected in pastures — led to some lighthearted stories but no movement with any current members of Congress. Then came the tweet heard round the world.

The message came from Podesta, the former top aide in Bill Clinton’s White House, as he stepped down after 11 months as special adviser for President Obama.

“My biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the ­#disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere,” he tweeted on Feb. 13.

It was retweeted thousands of times and picked up by mainstream media reporters across the country — most presenting it as a joke.

Read the rest

Bernie Sanders playing the bongos at the Democratic presidential debate

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Bernie Sanders hit the skins for a perfect rendition of Ben Harper's "Burn one Down." The other candidates approve and the audience goes wild.

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How the White House is celebrating Back to the Future Day!

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Our man in the White House, Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, alerts us to the Administration's celebration of Back To The Future Day that includes:

* The release of President Obama's updated Strategy for American Innovation

* Tom's post on the White House blog about the power of imagination, titled "Science Fiction to Science Fact"

* A series of online conversations with scientists and innovators about the future! Read the rest

FBI investigating ‘teen stoner hack’ of CIA Director John Brennan

John Brennan. Photo: Reuters

A pair of self-described teen stoner hackers say they breached an AOL account used by CIA Director John Brennan, the New York Post reported today.

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Gentleman is suing a lot of people because a 16-pound pine cone fell on his head

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A 16-pound pine cone fell on Sean Mace's head in San Francisco, and crushed his skull.

He is suing the U.S. government, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park for $5 million.

(Image: Rodmunch99/Wikimedia. Bunya cone from Cumberland State Forest, Sydney, NSW, Australia on 28th January 2012)

Read the rest

We're suing the Justice Department over FBI’s secret rules for using National Security Letters on journalists

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Freedom of the Press Foundation this week filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department over their unpublished rules for using National Security Letters and so-called informal “exigent letters” to conduct surveillance of journalists. Read the rest

With faked degrees, U.S. tech official ran law enforcement data systems for years. Then he resigned, got a new gov job.

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“A key Interior technology official who had access to sensitive systems for over five years had lied about his education, submitting falsified college transcripts produced by an online service.”

US says hackers stole Social Security numbers from 21.5 million people in OPM data breach

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The new number is a lot higher than the 14 million figure investigators offered last month.

Mexican artists ride abandoned passenger rails in an Earthbound "spacecraft"

Calling themselves Los Ferronautas (or "railanauts"), Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene documented the impacts of the privatization — and subsequent immediate closure — of Mexico's passenger rail lines. Their home-built vehicle could travel on the rails or on the ground, from Mexico City to the Atlantic.

[Video Link] Read the rest

US to airlines: disclose all fees hidden in ticket prices to customers

The US Transportation Department today proposed air travelers be given detailed information on the fees they're being charged for each checked bag, advance seat assignments, and carry-on luggage. Read the rest

Guilty plea in Fox News leak case shows why Espionage Act prosecutions are unfair to reporters' sources

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. Image: Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust.

Former State Department official Stephen Kim announced today he will plead guilty to leaking classified information to Fox News journalist James Rosen and will serve 13 months in jail.

The case sparked controversy last year when it was revealed the Justice Department named Rosen a “co-conspirator” in court documents for essentially doing his job as a journalist. But a largely ignored ruling in Kim’s case may have far broader impact on how sources interact with journalists in the future. Read the rest

Regulating a new technology

E-cigarettes are different enough from cigarettes that it's hard for regulators to figure out how to monitor their safety and use. There's nicotine, but no tobacco. There's heating, but not combustion. Theoretically, they should be safer to use than cigarettes, but nobody really knows for sure. This piece at InsideScience is an interesting look at how we manage new technologies that don't quite fit into any previously defined regulatory boxes ... and why we'd want to regulate them, to begin with. Read the rest

Intensely dramatic commercial for city council show on public access cable

The Whitehorse City Council meeting will be the most dramatic, tension-filled television you'll experience all week. It airs every Monday evening on Whitehorse Community Cable in Yukon, Canada. (Thanks, FP!) Read the rest

UK government online disability benefits signup requires IE6

Robin sez,

I'm one of the campaigns managers at 38 Degrees (the UK's largest online campaign organisation). One of our members has recently started a petition calling on the UK government to update their web technology. When I saw it I immediately thought of boing boing and wondered if you could help spread the word.

To claim Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance in the UK people are being asked to use Internet Explorer 5 or 6 and other systems that are so out of date they are available on less than 2% of computers. If you want to claim online you will need to take a step back to the 1990s and hunt through second hand shops for an old PC that you can power up.

It's a crazy situation.

Update Online DLA Claim System (Thanks, Robin!) Read the rest

Poop transplants meet FDA bureaucracy

The good news: Fecal transplants work well enough as a treatment for patients with Clostridium difficile infections that the Food and Drug Administration has decided to take them out of the grey area of legality in which they were previously being performed. Poop transplants for C. difficile will be legal, and the doctors doing the transplants will have to be approved by the FDA, to make sure they're getting the donor poop through safe means and not prescribing poop transplants for things that poop transplants don't help. The bad news: The approval process turns out to be ridiculously arcane and time-consuming — featuring a 30-day waiting period and requirements that are apparently secret. Read the rest

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