Seattle cop fired for harassing photographer

King County deputy Patrick "KC" Saulet has been fired for ordering Dominic Holden, a reporter for the Seattle newspaper "The Stranger," to stop taking pictures of an arrest from a public street; for lying to Holden about which part of the public scene was and was not public property; and for lying to his boss later about the incident. Saulet's boss, King County sheriff John Urquhart, explained that he'd fired his officer because "You have a constitutional right to photograph the police," and "[threatening to arrest a citizen for legally taking photos of cops] is a constitutional violation."

The fired deputy had a long history of civil rights abuses, and the police force had spent a lot of money and time on retraining and counselling for him.

It's extremely refreshing to see senior police officials taking the law seriously when it comes to the officers they command, and to understand the corrosive effect on trust between the public and the police created by impunity for abuses such as these.

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Seattle cops give away mini-Doritos with weed law advice at "Hempfest"


A program called "Operation Orange Fingers" will see Seattle cops will welcoming attendees at this weekend's Hempfest with miniature bags of Doritos with links to the department's Marijwhatnow? guide to staying on the right side of the state's law that decriminalized simple possession of sub-one-ounce quantities of marijuana.

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Octavia Butler Park, Seattle

The Seattle Parks Department wants to know what to name a new park, and one of the choices is science fiction hero Octavia Butler. Take the survey here. (via IO9) Cory 3

Sensing your gestures with WiFi

WiSee is a reasearch project at the University of Washington; as described in this paper, it uses standard WiFi hardware to sense the location and movements of people within range of the signal. Using machine-learning, it maps specific interference patterns to specific gestures, so that it knows that -- for example -- you're waving your hand in the air. This gesture-sensing can be used to control various devices in your home:

WiSee is a novel interaction interface that leverages ongoing wireless transmissions in the environment (e.g., WiFi) to enable whole-home sensing and recognition of human gestures. Since wireless signals do not require line-of-sight and can traverse through walls, WiSee can enable whole-home gesture recognition using few wireless sources (e.g., a Wi-Fi router and a few mobile devices in the living room).

WiSee is the first wireless system that can identify gestures in line-of-sight, non-line-of-sight, and through-the-wall scenarios. Unlike other gesture recognition systems like Kinect, Leap Motion or MYO, WiSee requires neither an infrastructure of cameras nor user instrumentation of devices. We implement a proof-of-concept prototype of WiSee and evaluate it in both an office environment and a two-bedroom apartment. Our results show that WiSee can identify and classify a set of nine gestures with an average accuracy of 94%...

WiSee takes advantage of the technology trend of MIMO, the fact that wireless devices today carry multiple antennas (which are primarily used to improve capacity). A WiSee/WiSee-enabled receiver would use these multiple antennas in a different way to focus only on the user in control, thus eliminating interference from other people.

WiSee

Enraged man goes on bulldozer rampage over fence-placement


Barry Swegle of Port Angeles, Washington lost his temper with his neighbors last Friday and used his logging bulldozer to destroy four homes, as well as vehicles and utility poles. He was reportedly angry over the siting of a neighbor's fence-line, which impeded his ability to maneuver his earth-moving and construction vehicles. The International Harvester TD-25 rampage only lasted a few minutes. No one was hurt.

Jesse Major, a 19-year-old student who said his grandmother lives in one of the damaged homes, said Swegle is known in the neighborhood because he sometimes digs seemingly random holes with a bulldozer late at night.

Man damages 4 Washington homes with bulldozer [Seattle Times]

(via JWZ)

WA grants MSFT $1.5B tax amnesty, resorts to taxing dance-clubs to make up shortfall

Jeff Reifman sez,

After granting Microsoft amnesty on its $1.5 billion Nevada tax dodge, state tax collectors are aggressively targeting Seattle dance clubs and night clubs over an obscure 'opportunity to dance' tax. Auditors search the Internet to find out whether people dance at specific clubs. One clubowner reports an auditor told him: 'You have the opportunity to dance, and we verified it by 8 or 10 different references on Yelp.'

"My auditor came in with an obituary of a girl who committed suicide,"says another club owner. "When I argued that we aren't primarily a dance club -- we have 'No Dancing' signs up everywhere -- she flashed this obit that said the girl liked to dance at [our club].

The Legislature gave up $100 million annually to Microsoft so it can target the city's music scene to try to make up $880,000. The Century Ballroom, a popular dance club, is holding ongoing fundraisers to offset its $250,000 in back taxes. Dancers are effectively funding Microsoft's Nevada tax dodge.

Seattle Dance Clubs Fundraise to Pay Microsoft’s Tax Bill (Thanks, Jeff!)

Mutant pizza parlor


Jenise sez,

When a new pizza place opened up next door to my favorite happy mutant cafe in Salem, MA, I had to wander in. The delectable smells wafting out certainly helped nudge me through the doors. Inside, I found the place brimming with SF memorabilia, including a life-size Borgified Picard statue acting as maitre'd and framed pictures of all eleven Doctors, with an empty frame reserved for Number Twelve.

All the pies have excellent names. I am particularly fond of the Geidi Prime, and but I also love the vegan Twiki for its phenomenal eggplant. And what could better finish off dinner than the Zhaan, a blueberry-topped dessert pizza.

As it turns out, Flying Saucer Pizza Company is owned by the same folks that own the aforementioned Gulu Gulu Cafe next door, where the bar is festooned with comic action figures and they make the best freaking creme brulee lattes ever. Add this to the enormous Harrison's Comics right across the street, and you've got a little slice of mutant heaven.

Flying Saucer Pizza Company (Thanks, Jenise!)

Earthquake-causing elevator discovered in Seattle Sheraton


The elevators in the Seattle Sheraton are fitted with buttons that allow their riders to rain earthquakes upon the Pacific Northwest. This power is largely used for good, and that is rather affirming -- people really are quite nice.

EARTHQUAKE button, Sheraton, Seattle, WA, USA

Cory in Seattle tonight

Hey, Seattle! Just a reminder that I'll be at the Seattle Public Library tonight at 7PM with my new novel Homeland. Come on down (and bring the kids!)! Portland, you're next, then San Francisco (and again!). Here's the whole schedule -- 20+ cities!. Cory

Humorless Washingtonian thinks GOES211 plate is about penis-length, not Spinal Tap


A man named Johnny Dixon complained to the Washington Personalized License Plate Committee about the Spinal Tap-homage vanity plate GOES211 on Tony Cava's BMW. Dixon thought Cava was boasting about his penis length. The DOL let Cava keep the plate.

A man identifying himself as Johnny Dixon wasn’t thinking “Spinal Tap” when he spotted the plate.

Last October, Dixon emailed the Department of Licensing: “I find it in poor taste that the great state of Washington would issue a plate that allows a driver to insinuate in public that his penis grows to 11 inches in length. The rest of the citizens of Washington should not be subjected to this vulgarity.”

And so the case of GOES211 ended up before something called the DOL’s Personalized License Plate Committee. Bureaucracies like committees, and lists.

...Asked for comment about his complaint, Dixon emailed back, “What exactly is it that you want to know? I find it disturbing that you can access my emails to the DOL.”

Vanity plates: some take too much license [Seattle Times/Erik Lacitis] (Thanks, Marty!)

Kickstarter to buy a digital projector for the oldest cinema in Washington State

Jack sez, "The Blue Mouse Theatre in Tacoma has been operating since 1923. Unfortunately, in order to continue operating they need to buy a digital projector. They've started a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of preserving this landmark theater."

Tacoma Neighborhoods Together has partnered with us to Help preserve this historic Icon of the Proctor District and your contribution will be tax deductible

Tacoma Neighborhoods Together is the non-profit, 501(c)3 organization of the Cross District Association. It was formed to support the enhancement and beautification of Tacoma's core neighborhood centers, its neighborhood business districts. It emphasizes that the people who live and work in the neighborhoods are the ones who can best identify ways that can help to make Tacoma a more livable community. From these collective voices the direction for Tacoma Neighborhoods Together is set.

Help Save The Blue Mouse Theatre (Thanks, Jack!

Surveillance Camera Man wants to know why we accept CCTVs but not a creepy guy with a camcorder

"Surveillance Camera Man" is an anonymous fellow who wanders the streets and malls of Seattle with a handheld camcorder, walking up to people and recording them -- in particular, recording their reactions to being recorded. He answers their questions with bland, deadpan statements ("It's OK, I'm just recording video"), and sometimes mentions that there are lots of other (non-human-carried) cameras recording his subjects.

The videos are an interesting provocation. The underlying point -- that the business, homes, and governments who put CCTVs in the places where we live our lives are intruding upon our privacy -- is one I agree with. However, I think that Surveillance Camera Man's point is blurred by the fact that he sometimes invades his subjects' personal space, making it unclear whether the discomfort they exhibit comes from having a person standing right by them, or whether it's the camera they object to. There's also some childish taunting of easy targets (I'm no fan of the Church of Scientology, but surely the reason that the lady who keeps trying to throw him out is upset is that he's holding a camera and making fun of Scientology, and not the camera alone).

‘Creepy Cameraman’ pushes limits of public surveillance — a glimpse of the future?

Washington's King County voids marriage license between a person and a corporation

Jeff sez, "King County has voided the license it issued Tuesday between Corporate Person, a Washington State Corporation, and Ms. Angela Marie Vogel: 'Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable.'"

The Wedding of Corporate Person to Angela Marie Vogel (Thanks, Jeff!)

Seattle woman who's had a double mastectomy fights for the right to swim bare-chested

Here's a CBC As It Happens story from last month on Jodi Jaecks, a woman in Seattle who had a double mastectomy and successfully fought the city for the right to swim topless in the local pool. She swims as part of her post-surgical therapy, and finds wearing women's suits cumbersome. She was given "singular permission" to swim wearing only a bottom, but has vowed to continue the fight until the policy is changed throughout.

For breast cancer survivor,Jodi Jaecks, the fight isn't over. Last week, she won the right to go topless in Seattle area public pools. That's a year after undergoing a double mastectomy. Now, she wants to make sure the same rules apply to other women who have survived breast cancer.

Double Mastectomy Swimmer

ToorCamp: Hack/Make under the stars


George writes,

ToorCamp, the American Hacker Camp, is back again this summer! Although there is no missile silo this time, the weather/environment should be a lot more pleasant on the beach in Washington state. The 5-day (August 8-12) open-air event is open to all hackers, makers, breakers, and shakers to build projects, exchange ideas with the brightest technology folk from around the world, toast a few marshmallows, and just geek out amongst the trees.

There are on-going talks, workshops (including things like hardware hacking, welding, penetration testing, brewing and others), contests, and art projects. [PRO-TIP: We're still accepting submissions if you have something you'd like to present.] And of course, there is plenty of outdoors -- stunning scenery, whale watching, surfing, birding, etc. The camp itself has everything you need: power, internet, food and fun.

We are encouraging attendees to set up a campsite with their friends/maker-space/group, and we'd like to offer all Boing Boing readers a discount code ('bboingrocks!' good until July 1st) for an Happy Mutants Campsite!

Bring a tent, make some friends, and learn a few things. Look forward to seeing everybody there!