Boing Boing 

Craig Newmark launches Craigconnects.org, to connect and protect nonprofits

Craig Newmark, O.G. internet guy and founder of Craigslist, tells Boing Boing this morning:
Hey, I know I say "this is a big deal" a lot, but this really IS a big deal. I've decided what I want to do for the next 20 years, which is to help connect and protect organizations that are doing good through a program I'm calling craigconnects.

I need your help. Together, we can make a difference.

Today the new craigconnects website launched:

* Craigconnects is about calling attention to and connecting good, effective nonprofits and other organizations that get the job done.

* Craigconnects is also about protecting organizations, and the public, from fake organizations that have a good story, but actually end up hurting the people they profess to serve.

Read the rest

Summit on Science, Entertainment and Education

5380872025_81615c4943_z.jpg

I'll be blogging live notes from the Summit on Science, Entertainment and Education (web, twitter, hashtag) taking place today. Hosted by The Science & Entertainment Exchange of the National Academy of Sciences, the event explores how film, television programming, video games, and other entertainment media can enhance science education in America.

Speakers today include Chuck Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering; Karen Cator, director, Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Dept. of Education; Tony DeRose, senior scientist at Pixar; games designer Will Wright, film director Jerry Zucker (Airplane, Ghost), science reporter Miles O'Brien (PBS NewsHour, Frontline); Neil deGrasse Tyson, scientist and host of NOVA ScienceNOW, and others.

Dozens of teachers, students, and curriculum developers will join in these discussions to explore how movies, television programs, and video and computer games could be used in the classroom. The summit will include breakout sessions and a group exercise to encourage interaction and brainstorming among participants.

Judy Muller ( Emmy Award-winning news correspondent, ABC News), is emceeing. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which is sponsoring the conference, is offering a $225,000 grant to fund pilot projects that emerge from ideas discussed here today.

Here's some background reading.

[Image, top contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by woodley wonderworks. And Image, bottom: photo contributed to the BB pool by BB reader Bryan Jones.]

2294676291_8b6b2d21f4_o.jpg

Egypt: 8-year-old girl lectures Mubarak (video)

Video Link. "And by the way, some of your police officers removed their jackets and they're joining the people." Juju, who is 8, and from Saudi Arabia. (via Ahmed Al Omran)

Egyptian activists' protest plan, translated to English

egyptguide.gif

As I publish this blog post, we're just a few hours away from the planned start time of mass protests in Egypt, possibly the largest yet in a week of historically large gatherings calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down from some 30 years in power. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic tells Boing Boing,

A Twitter follower stepped up to translate excerpts from the Egyptian protest plan that's been floating around (the one that said don't use Twitter or Facebook). We're only publishing excerpts -- i.e. this is more general information and demands, not tactical stuff -- but they are amazing.
Translations and scans are here at The Atlantic.

Magnetic Yellow Card - cyclist-intervention

yellowcardup.jpg

This card was designed by Peter Miller as an alternative to the kicking-of-doors and yelling-and-screaming that usually goes on when someone in a car recklessly endangers the life of a cyclist because they were talking on their phone, putting on lipstick, passing another car in the bike lane, etc etc etc. It's a more subtle statement, but I think more effective. Peter has provided a PDF of the card to allow others to print it out on a magnet of their choice and distribute them as needed. [Thanks to TOLA for noticing it.]

Students doing right by making medicine accessible to the developing world.

In light of World AIDS Day, I'd thought I'd post a little bit about Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. It's a bit of a mouthful, but it's a student run non-profit that does brilliant things. Even though the video above is two years old, Mike Gretes does a lovely job highlighting some of what UAEM does, and there's also tons of information on their website:
Many important medicines and public health technologies are developed in academic laboratories. Their accessibility in poor nations is profoundly affected by the research, patenting and licensing decisions made by universities. We are a group of university students who believe that our universities have an opportunity and a responsibility to improve global access to public health goods
This is important for a number of reasons. One example is that it recognizes that almost all therapeutics have their humble beginnings at some lab bench at some university. This isn't necessarily the finished product, but it is often the "eureka" moment that can start the path towards a medicine with real life benefits. Because of this, that academic lab and its researchers, have this opportunity to lay down some ground rules when the discovery is ultimately marketed out to some company. For instance, they can dictate that licensing is different (amenable to generics) when circumstances compel the drug to be sold in markets that simply can't afford the usual prices set by pharmaceutical companies (think HIV medicine in developed versus developing countries). Unfortunately, this amazing opportunity is usually a missed opportunity: which is why UAEM members stay up nights thinking about ways, to advocate, educate, and guide universities to do the right thing. Anyway, if you're connected to the university system, it's a must to check it out. There might already be a UAEM chapter at your school (there is at mine). If not, there's also help available to set one up. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines

How the Bandit, Coors and a bunch of Makers changed the course of booze history

beer.jpg

So last night, while attempting to explain the plot of Smokey and the Bandit to my husband, it occurred to me that I didn't really understand the back story that spawned this, one of my favorite childhood films. Why did Bandit and Snowman (and Fred) have a long way to go and a short time to get there? There was beer in most parts of Georgia by the 1970s. And even if you were trying to get booze to a dry county, why start in Texas and only give yourself 28 hours?

Thanks to Wikipedia and the very helpful Stephan Zielinski, I discovered the awful truth—Smokey and the Bandit is centered around America's brief love affair with Coors Banquet Beer.

All that work, for Coors? It's true. Wikipedia explained that the beer wasn't available East of Oklahoma at the time. But I didn't get the full extent of what was really going on until I read a 1974 Time magazine article sent to me by Zielinski. If, like me, you didn't begin drinking until the late 1990s, this is going to come as a shock, but, once upon a time, Coors was apparently the best American breweries had to offer.

Read the rest

CycLAvia attracts over 100,000 cyclists to car-free Los Angeles streets

Beginning of CicLAvia

If you'd told me a year ago that the City of Los Angeles would close off almost 8 miles of primary city streets to let cyclists have free rein for a day I never would have believed it. If I hadn't seen it actually happen with my own eyes yesterday, I'd still be suspicious. But it's true: thanks to the amazing efforts of the die-hard volunteers behind the project, yesterday the first ever CycLAvia (a riff on the South American Ciclovía idea) took place and some 100,000 residents took to their bikes and got a glimpse of what the city might be like if at least some parts of it were car-free.

As an avid cyclist living in LA, I've long said this is an amazing city to bike in and that it takes on a whole new life when you see it from a bicycle. But most often the reaction I get from non-cyclists is that I must be crazy to ride a bike in LA. I'm not, and judging by the photos on flickr and reactions on twitter a ton of people now see the city a little differently. With any luck this is just the first of many upcoming bike-friendly events in the city. I know I can't wait to see where this leads! (Follow @Cyclavia for future details)
CicLAvia

Photos by Tara Brown and Jory Felice

Comic-Con: Superheroes vs. Westboro Baptist Church

"They've faced down humans time and time again, but Fred Phelps and his minions from the Westboro Baptist Church were not ready for the cosplay action that awaited them today at Comic-Con."

Photo gallery at Comics Alliance.

(thanks, Georgia)

The Kampala, Uganda bombing: a report, and how to help survivors.

Phil Knight, a Boing Boing reader who works in a Kampala, Uganda hospital treating victims of the recent bombing, posts this blog entry about the attack, the survivors, and ways you can help. "We've been busy and the Seacom cable is down, so internet has been terrible. We've got some catching up to do. All help appreciated."

Under Surveillance: comic on digital civil rights in Europe

European Digital Rights (EDRi) has released the digital comic Under Surveillance as an information and awareness tool for young adults.

In an unspecified European city, a group of young people works, studies, travels, publishes on forums and blogs, exchanges on social networks and meets at concerts... A "difficult" situation in the life of a young photo-journalist and his friends' mobilization to help him out of this situation illustrate the breaches of personal data protection facilitated by the use of new technologies. The comic book underlines the consequences but also possible remedies. A glossary and links to useful websites come with the comic book. The comic book "Under surveillance" is available in Catalan, Czech, English and French. Online versions are made available on the project partners' websites. 20,000 hard copies are available in each language and are disseminated for free.

Read the rest

Project Einstein: rural kids in Guatemala photograph their lives

einstein.jpg

einstein2.jpg

The youth photo training group Project Einstein got its start with group of young people living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. One of the participants came up with the name because "Einstein was a refugee but could still do great things."

Here's a collection of images taken by Q´eqchi´ Maya kids and teens in a rural part of Guatemala known as Zona Reyne, where the project is currently working in partnership with this state development group.

Read more about Project Einstein in Guatemala.

(thanks, Renata Avila!)

Remember the sinkhole? Guatemala still reeling from Agatha, here's how to help

undimiento.jpg

The photograph above went viral a few weeks ago, when massive storms and volcanic eruptions caused displacement, injury, and death throughout Guatemala. The sinkhole snapshot is long gone from the top of trending Google link lists, but people are still suffering throughout the country—the worst off, as usual, are marginalized indigenous communities who make up the poorest sector of the population.

As dramatic as this photo was, the sinkhole is the least of Guatemala's worries. How you can help...

Read the rest

EU "three-strikes" rule set to pass this Weds -- call your MEP now!

French copyfighter Jérémie Zimmermann sez,
The negotiations on the Telecoms Package may come to a close this Wednesday. The Council of the European Union is still pushing for 'three strikes"' policies in Europe but is also attempting to allow private corporations to restrict citizens' Internet access. Will the European Parliament continue to hide behind a disputable legal argumentation provided by the rapporteur Catherine Trautmann, and accept the unacceptable for the future of Internet access in Europe?

A campaign page has been set up to allow everyone to contact Members of the European Parliament and urge them to refuse any proposal from the Council allowing "three strikes" policies in Europe, and to explicitly protect EU citizens' freedom to access the Net.

The new version of the compromise amendment presented by the Council of the EU still allows for restrictions of Internet access such as "three strikes" policies in Europe. Moreover, contrarily to the Parliament's version, the Council's proposal also permits private corporations to restrict Internet access, notably enabling entertainment industries to pressure Internet service providers in order to police the Net.

(Thanks, Jérémie!)

After the Game: What Happens to the Losing Team's Swag?

Somebody is going to lose the World Series. It's true. I have heard this is how these things work. But, when the inevitable happens, where do all their commemorative hats, T-shirts, shoelaces, giant foam hands, etc. go? After all, nobody knows which team will win. To meet the instant, post-game demand, manufacturers have all that championship memorabilia--for both teams--made up and sitting in a warehouse before the final game is even a twinkle in an announcer's eye.

If you guessed that it ends up in a dump, you'd be wrong. Mental_floss investigated and found the World Vision, an international Christian charity, gets the losing gear from baseball, football and basketball.

The merchandise doesn't go to waste, people living in poverty receive new, clean clothes, and the clothing makers recoup some of their losses--they get tax credits for the charitable donations. Why don't the clothes go to needy families in the United States? Overseas donation is part of the agreement between World Vision and the leagues. The farther away the clothing is, the less likely it is to offend a losing player (or heartbroken Buffalo Bills fan).

In fact, fear of fan alienation used to keep the MLB from donating. Up until two years ago, they required all inaccurate championship clothing be destroyed.

A Doctor's Advice On How To Read Health News (And Know Whether It's Full of Crap)

Building a bit off the "conflusion" (Bravo, btw, insert) post from yesterday, I'm going to launch right into something near and dear to my heart: The way biased and badly done health journalism can really mess up the people who read it.


Biased and badly done are two very different things. I don't have data on this, but I think it's fair to say that, when the main-stream media (which, BoingBoing aside, includes me) gets a health story wrong, it usually isn't trying to be intentionally wack. Trouble is, whatever the intent, it leaves you--the reader--in the same place. Conflused.

Luckily, there are people working to help you. Like, for instance, the good folks at Behind the Headlines, a project of the British National Health System that does Q&A, myth busting and in-depth explanations on the science behind top health news. I first found out about this from Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog, which is, in itself, a great site everybody ought to be reading.

Dr. Alicia White, one of the aforementioned "folks" behind Behind the Headlines, has a wonderful primer on the questions you should be asking yourself every time you read health news. Until we police ourselves into doing a consistently better job, sorting the wheat from the chaff is (unfortunately) up to you. This will help. Plus, it's a fun read:

If you've just read a health-related headline that's caused you to spit out your morning coffee ("Coffee causes cancer" usually does the trick) it's always best to follow the Blitz slogan: "Keep Calm and Carry On". On reading further you'll often find the headline has left out something important, like "Injecting five rats with really highly concentrated coffee solution caused some changes in cells that might lead to tumours eventually. (Study funded by The Association of Tea Marketing)".

Evocative image courtesy Flickr user bdjsb7, under CC.

Typhoon, Floods in the Philippines: first-person BB report from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

Photos, above and after the jump, shared with Boing Boing by Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star. Her first-person account from the ongoing disaster follows, and includes recommendations on how you can help the victims. She shot the photos in this post two days after the typhoon, on a relief drive in a town called Tumana. Link to Flickr set.

Typhoon Ondoy by Audrey Carpio

Typhoon Ondoy, aka Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped 40 cm of rain on the Philippines last Saturday before he/she left to wreak watery havoc upon Vietnam and Cambodia. But Manila and its surrounding environs are still in various states of calamity, with many parts of the city still submerged under dirty brown water and others, while drying out, caked in leptospirosis-inducing mud. The government and its presidentiables have been slow to act upon what could've been their Hurricane Katrina-hero moment but quick to seize upon relief efforts for electioneering. Instead, it is thanks to the generosity and ingenuity of the Filipino people who mobilized themselves through Twitter and Facebook that hundreds of thousands of victims have been fed, clothed and sheltered.

As early as Saturday evening, when people began to realize that floods have flashed rather quickly and videos of drowning trucks emerged on YouTube, relief plans grew almost organically on the networks. Tweets encouraging people to gather food, blankets, and clothing for donations were some of the earliest; by the next day there was an updatable and sharable Google spreadsheet on all the drop-off and volunteer centers; by Monday, almost all status updates and tweets had to do with emergency hotline numbers, relatives of friends who were stranded on a rooftop, and traffic advisories warning which roads were impassable. A Google map of people in need of rescuing was uploaded, although its usefulness is questionable, considering the general low-techness of the National Disaster Coordinating Council's rescue squads they only had 13 rubber boats with which to deploy to the affected barangays †or villages (to put it into perspective, 1.9 million people were inundated with flood water, nearly 380,000 have been evacuated into schools, churches and other emergency shelters, and 246 people have died.

Philippines flooding, Sept. 2009 (for BB, from Audrey N. Carpio of The Philippine Star)

Read the rest