Boing Boing 

Frank and immoral advice for nonprofits

Destiny sez, "At a Craigslist Foundation conference in San Francisco, Oakland lawyer-turned fundraiser Van Jones stole the show with an inspiring speech of surprisingly frank tips that are 'counter-intuitive and probably immoral' for non-profits. #3 is simply 'Don't Lie.'"
There is something about the relationship between the not-for-profit sector, the government, the foundations, and the donors that creates a massive incentive to lie -- flagrantly, and often.

And it's not just a one-sided thing. The relationship between not-for-profits and foundations is like the relationship between teenagers and parents. You don't really want to tell them everything that's going on, and they don't really want to know. So there's this dance of deceit, shall we say.

"What'd you do this weekend?"
"Oh... Studied! With my friends."

And the parents say 'Good! So glad to hear that!' Because they don't want to know. And so what do you say?

"How did the year go?"
"We had success after success! All goals were met, and a good time was had by all."

And what was there left to say? 'Good! Good!' They don't want to know....

I met Van last summer and was absolutely blown away -- he's a smart, committed, incredibly effective activist who's funny, personable and convincing as hell. Link (Thanks, Destiny!)

Trade court allows Antigua to violate US copyright

Antigua has won the right to pirate $21 million worth of US copyrights in the World Trade Court, because the US violated the World Trade Organization agreement when it banned Antiguan Internet casinos. The US was an extremely aggressive promoter of the WTO around the world, leaning on countries to drop trade protections that gave their own industries advantages over US competitors -- and now the US is being held to the same standard, hoist on its own petard.
By pressing its claim, trade lawyers said, Antigua could set a precedent for other countries to sue the United States for unfair trade practices, potentially opening the door to electronic piracy and other dubious practices around the world.

Still, carrying out the ruling will prove difficult, the lawyers say.

"Even if Antigua goes ahead with an act of piracy or the refusal to allow the registration of a trademark, the question still remains of how much that act is worth," said Brendan McGivern, a trade lawyer with White & Case in Geneva.

"The Antiguans could say that's worth $50,000, and then the U.S. might say that's worth $5 million." He predicted that "the U.S. is going to dog them on every step of the way."

Link (Thanks, Lee and Robbo!)

Blog future vs NYT future: none of the above!

Five years ago, Dave Winer made a "long bet" with New York Times executive Martin Nisenholtz: "In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site."

Five years later, Rogers Cadenhead has done the math and concludes that blogs are edging out the Times (but that other mainstream media outlets are beating both of them -- thanks to the NYT having squandered the golden years of cheap googlejuice acquisition by erecting a registration and paywall on their content, causing them to fall behind less well-known, but more readily linked news-sources).

Most interesting of all is that Wikipedia (only a year old in 2002) is clobbering both of them -- more proof that the future is weirder than we can know. In 2002, it seemed like the two choices were "amateurs you trust" or "unbiased, accurate, and coherent" information from an "authoritative source." In reality, the third, unforeseen choice was "a horde of nameless, faceless amateurs who are not required to prove expertise in the subjects they cover."

Whenever someone asks you which of two futures you think is more likely, your best bet is always "none of the above." Link (via Kottke)

Lakota Natives Withdraw Treaties with U.S.

Johnny says:
200712200947 The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States, leaders said Wednesday. Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licenses, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their US citizenship.

Excerpt:
"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy, gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference.

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United States, some of them more than 150 years old.

They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.

Link

Psychic gramophone of 1932

From the November, 1932 issue of Modern Mechanix, this skeptical account of a telepath-powered gramaphone!
Major Raymond Phillips, O.M.E., late member of the Inter-Allied Commission of Control, claims to have evolved apparatus which will cause a gramaphone or kettle to function entirely by will power.

Major Phillips explains that the human body acts as an earth and the constant capacity is maintained within three yards of the apparatus. A momentary pause in the flow to earth through the body–produced entirely by mind concentration–is followed by an upward surge of sufficient intensity to cause a series of relays to operate.

That’s the story. You can take it or leave it. We have a sneaking suspicion that somebody is being kidded.

Link

Broken Powerbooks read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'

Carl sez, "The people who make up Public.Resource.Org have traditionally tried to do something fun and new at Christmas. This year, we're pleased to present a bunch of broken Powerbooks reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.; The Crippled Macintosh Rehabilitation Choir is reading from our original 1994 production of Clement Clark Moore's classic tale. Link (Thanks, Carl!)

Defense technology holiday gift guide


Noah Shachtman points us to the Wired DANGER ROOM holiday gift guide.

The Pentagon is burning billions, to equip the soldier of the future. With DANGER ROOM's holiday gift guide, you can spend thousands, to get pretty much the same gear, today. Besides, who doesn't love a lil' pink Taser for Christmas?
Link.

Shawshank Redemption style prison break

The two enterprising gents shown here decided prison didn't suit them, so they removed some cement blocks that stood between them and the verdant paradise known as New Jersey. They figured the warden might object to their plans, so they covered their egress with "photos of bikini-clad women." It worked.
200712171037 Espinosa, 20, an alleged gang member, was awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter in a 2005 drive-by shooting in Elizabeth. Blunt, 32, was awaiting trial on charges of robbery and weapons offenses.

The men helped cover up the break by placing dummies under their bed blankets, and hiding the wall holes with magazine photos of women in bikinis, authorities said.

Authorities launched a review of security measures, and barred inmates from pinning up pictures from magazines on their cell walls.

Link

CommitteeCaller: phone an entire Congressional committee with one click

Fred sez,

I've just finished building CommitteeCaller.com, a site that allows one person to target an entire congressional committee over the phone. The web application utilizes the open source Asterisk PBX system to connect you to every senator or house member on a particular committee. No more digging around the 'net entering zip-codes to retrieve phone numbers of representatives -- CommitteeCaller.com automates the tedium of repetitively dialing your favorite politicians.

Just go to the website, select a committee, enter in your phone number and click "Put me in touch with democracy!" and you'll be called by our system and sequentially patched through to the front office of each member on that committee. You can even rate how each call went -- information that will enable us to rank representatives on how accountable and responsive they are to their constituents.

This is an excellent opportunity to contact the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- the politicians who are debating today whether telecoms should receive retroactive immunity for spying on your phone calls and e-mail.

Link

Google debuts Knol, "author-driven knowledge" project

Google today announced Knol, which would appear to be their response to online knowledge repositories like Wikipedia and Mahalo:
Earlier this week, we started inviting a selected group of people to try a new, free tool that we are calling “knol”, which stands for a unit of knowledge. Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors – but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word “knol” as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we’ll do the rest.

Link to Scott Beale's post, with pointers to some of the many online discussions around this today.

Canada's DMCA: CBC radio's Search Engine on the demonstrations and awesome Parliamentary bun-fight that followed

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio programme Search Engine did a great segment this week on the Canadian DMCA kerfuffle, focused on the grassroots campaign that packed the house at Industry Minister Jim Prentice's Christmas Party last week and the Parliamentary fight that followed. This is inspiring stuff, hearing from all these friendly geeks who're trying out activism for the first time because this issue really moves them. You gotta hear the Parliamentary fight -- the New Democratic Party's copyright critic is on fire, and Prentice comes across as a bumbler. Link

(Disclosure: I am a paid columnist for Search Engine)

See also:
Canadian DMCA rally/celebration in Toronto next Tuesday
Canadian DMCA cancelled (again) (for now)
Canadian DMCA to be reintroduced -- your action needed NOW!
Canadian DMCA stalled, won't be introduced (today, at least)!
Canadian DMCA rally in Calgary -- photos, videos, reports
O Canada! The Canadian DMCA version of the national anthem
Canadian DMCA introduced
CANADIANS! Tomorrow is your best chance to fight the Canadian DMCA! Event in Calgary, national phone-in
Canada's DMCA won't get any consumer rights added to it for a decade
Facebook group for fighting Canada's DMCA growing fast
Ranting hand-puppet tackles Canada's DMCA
HOWTO Fight Canada's coming DMCA copyright law
Canada's coming DMCA will be the worst copyright yet
Canadian DMCA: how it might have happened
CBC radio show needs your input for question with Minister responsible for Canadian DMCA
Canadian Industry Minister refuses to defend Canadian DMCA in public

Technology in Wartime conference, Jan 2008 at Stanford

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) is hosting a conference at Stanford next month about "Technology in Wartime." Annalee Newitz says,
This excellent conference is about the ethical implications of using computer technology in warfare. There is still plenty of room for people to register for the conference, and it's open to the public.
Speaker roster includes:
Bruce Schneier (Counterpane Security), Barbara Simons (ACM), Herb Lin (National Academy of Sciences), Cindy Cohn (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Patrick Ball (Benetech), Terry Winograd (Stanford University), Neil Rowe (Naval Defense Academy), Nick Mathewson (the Tor project), Ronald Arkin (Georgia Tech's Mobile Robots Lab) and Noah Shachtman (Wired magazine's war correspondent). The proceedings will be broadcast live on the Web, and the presentations collected in book form online, released under an open license, and made available to the public and policy makers looking for expert opinions on wartime technology issues during the election year.
Link. The one-day event takes place on January 26, 2008, registration is $50-100.