The Cobra Effect: law of unintended consequences, squared

In British-ruled, cobra-infested India, a bounty was offered for cobra-skins, so enterprising folks started breeding cobras, leading to the program's cancellation, whereupon all those farmed cobras were released into the wild, a net increase in cobra population. That's not the only example, either.

(Image: Cobra, Kamalnv/Wikipedia, CC-BY)

Online Isaac Newton manuscripts workshop


India's Zetatrek citizen science initiative is online workshop starting on 19th July, where science and math hobbyists from all over the world are invited to study the original manuscripts of Sir Isaac Newton.

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Fake Google subdomain certificates found in the wild

An Indian certificate authority in the Microsoft root of trust has been caught issuing fake Google subdomain certificates that would allow nearly undetectable eavesdropping on "secure" connections to services like Google Docs.

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Bangalore's garbage crisis and America's invisible trash


Noah Sachs uses the years-long Bangalore garbage crisis to ask some pointed questions about America's secretive waste-disposal industry, which treats the treatment of American waste as a military-grade secret, protected by barbed wire and vicious lawyers.

Bangalore's drowning in rubbish, it's contaminating the water and poisoning the Earth, tens of thousands labor in filthy, unsafe conditions to sort and recover it -- and the average Bangalorean is only generating about one pound of trash per day. Americans throw away seven times that amount, and the fact that it's whisked away doesn't mean it's not a problem. In Sachs's view, the Bangalore situation just makes visible the lurking consequences of America's own profligacy.

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Headline Awaited, reads the Indiab Express front page


During this week's blockbuster Indian election, @shubhragupta caught a great photo of the Indian Express for the day, which was rushed to press so quickly that its lead banner still read HEADLINE AWAITED. Every time I see something like this, I thank the universe that I work in a forgiving electronic medium where mistakes can be swiftly corrected and not committed to millions of stamped-out pieces of stupid, inert matter.


Update: Amulya writes, "Just so you know, it's The IndiaN Express, so you want to correct that first on your forgiving electronic medium. Secondly, context matters -- the headline was a funny meta statement on the election verdict to come, and made perfect sense to those who read it."

Ah, Muphry's Law strikes again

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Delhi police lost password for complaints portal in 2006, haven't checked it since


The Delhi police lost the password for a portal that hosted complaints that had been passed on by the Central Vigilance Commission after an initial vetting. 667 complaints had been judged serious enough to be passed onto the police since the password was lost in 2006, but none have been acted upon, because no one had the password. Now they have the password. Presumably, the 667 unserved complainants believed the police to be either too slow or incompetent to have gotten back to them.

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India sending spacecraft to Mars for about 75% of 'Gravity' film budget


The Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Spacecraft mounted in a rocket at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in India. Photo: Indian Space Research Organization, via NYT.

Saritha Rai, reporting for the New York Times on India’s recent launch of a spacecraft to Mars: "It is the $75 million mission’s thrifty approach to time, money and materials that is getting attention. Just days after the launch of India’s Mangalyaan satellite, NASA sent off its own Mars mission, five years in the making, named Maven. Its cost: $671 million. The budget of India’s Mars mission, by contrast, was just three-quarters of the $100 million that Hollywood spent on last year’s space-based hit, Gravity.” [NYTimes.com]

Indian readers sue Penguin for copyright to book that is to be pulped due to religious fundamentalists' campaign

Robert Sharp writes, "A group of readers have launched a legal challenge to Penguin, saying: 'You're not using your copyright responsibly - please turn it over to us'! They're angry that Penguin is no longer defending a legal dispute against fundamentalists and will pulp remaining copies of the book 'The Hindus'."

The readers are represented by Lawrence Liang and the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum.

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Vehicles as dinosaur skeletons


Jitish Kallat's 2008 piece "Aquasaurus" is a massive replica water truck made to look like a great prehistoric leviathan's skeleton, with great bowed ribs and enormous grinding teeth. It's part of a series of pieces that includes a bone motorcycle as well. His work is currently displayed on the India stage at Art Stage Singapore.

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India's street typists: a vanishing breed


India's street typists -- skilled professionals who type documents for passersby who need formal paperwork for official purposes -- are in great financial difficulty. Their trade has been largely supplanted by computers with word-processors. Even the love-sick young men who would come to them to type out love letters have moved on. The BBC profiles the street typists of Calcutta, in a piece steeped with melancholy at a world that has moved on.

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Indian minister baffled by milk bath


A scandal in Maharashtra: A disgruntled worker from the Indian Nationalist Congress Party poured ink all over Hasan Mushrif, the party's Labour Minister. The scandal redoubled when the Minister's supporters surprised him at a party meeting with a "milk bath," sitting him in a chair and pouring milk all over him to purify him. The Minister described himself as being equally baffled by the milk as he had been by the ink.

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Boing Boing Charitable Giving Guide 2013

Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!


Electronic Frontier Foundation
Could there be a year that's more relevant to the EFF? As Edward Snowden has made abundantly clear, there is a titantic, historic battle underway to determine whether the Internet is there to liberate us or to enslave us. EFF's on the right side of history, and I figure giving them all I can afford is a cheap hedge against the NSA's version of the future. —CD



Creative Commons
CC continues to make a difference -- this year, they released the 4.0 version of their flexible licenses, a major milestone. More than anyone else, CC has reframed the way we talk about creativity and copyright in the Internet era, providing practical, easy-to-use tools to make it possible for creators and audiences to work together in a shared mission of creating and enjoying culture.—CD

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No sex toys, please, we're Delhian


Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias

The Times of India reports a police crackdown on sex toy sales in Delhi. [via Arbroath]

After a tip-off, a team led by inspector Mukesh Walia raided Palika Bazaar on Tuesday and confiscated 14 such toys from a shop, a senior police officer said. The owner of the shop, Gurbeer Singh, has been arrested for importing and illegally selling sex toys.

Covered by a prohibition on "obscene" materials, selling sex toys is a punishable offense with up to five years' imprisonment on the cards for repeat offenders: "Even buyers can be prosecuted."

A visit to the Indian temple where "0" was invented

The BBC's Alex Bellos travels to Gwalior, an Indian city that contains a temple with the oldest known use of the number "0". It's part of an effort to figure out why zero would appear in India, and not in other, earlier civilizations that were mathematically adept. From Bellos' perspective, part of the answer might lie in theology — a mathematical representation of the mystical idea of "nothingness".

Stephen Fry standup at Mumbai queer open-mic night

MJ writes, "I'm part of a group called Gaysi Family. Every couple of months we host an open-mic event called Dirty Talk for the queer community in Mumbai (India). Funds raised from the event is donated to one or the two Queer support group in the city. This year in March we were contacted by BBC team, as they wanted to film one of our events. The clipping would then be featured in one of their queer documentaries hosted by none other than well-known gay celebrity Stephen Fry. "

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