1959 UFO contactee book

In the 1950s, two sisters named Helen and Betty Mitchell claimed to have met humanoid creatures from outer space in a St. Louis, Missouri coffee shop. We Met the Space People, written in 1959, is their account of the visitation. Judging by the book cover, the aliens looked a lot like Vulcans. Manybooks.net has released a free edition of this booklet in a variety of formats.

The space people that have negative qualities about them are coming from farther space systems, although I do not wish to imply that all space craft from farther systems is evil. Many of the craft from farther systems are very good and are also trying to help Earth; however, it is only those certain evil systems that we should consider when I say those from a farther system than our own. It is these negative beings who are here for the purpose of actually taking people from Earth to indoctrinate them with their ideas, so they in turn will cause confusion and disturbances upon the planet.

Link | Review on the Internet Sacred Text Archive Read the rest

Be the Coolest Dad on the Block -- book pick

My two daughters think of me as some kind of novelty-producing machine. I'm expected to perform on demand when they ask for stories about my childhood (which must be "creepy, interesting, and real" or they don't count), magic tricks, or a "show" involving mouth sounds, finger-snapping, and expenditure of many calories on my part.

Lately, I've been scraping the bottom of the barrel for material. I've resorted to recycling stories to tell my three-year-old and challenging my nine-year-old to solve the "three houses, three utilities" problem. (She's going to be mad when she finds out it can't be done.)

I found Be the Coolest Dad on the Block just in time. Subtitled "All of the Tricks, Games, Puzzles and Jokes You Need to Impress Your Kids (and keep them entertained for years to come!)," this book is filled with stuff that has delighted my kids. The authors manage to cram an awful lot of great ideas into 186-pages. There are things to make, like bows and arrow, fire-starting kits, garbage bag kites, and instructions for making animated movies with Lego bricks. There are games to play on in cars and on plane rides and answers to questions like "Why is the sky blue?" and "Why is the sea salty?" I like the list of "misconceptions" the authors encourage you to share with your kids ("There's a parallel universe on the other side of mirrors where people exactly like us do exactly the same things.")

The first thing we did was make a duck call out of a drinking straw. Read the rest

CBS head Moonves wants to buy "the next YouTube."

Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS, announced last week that his network is shopping around for internet media companies. From the LA Times:

"We're not going to buy YouTube," Moonves said, referring to the wildly popular video-sharing website that Google Inc. agreed to acquire last month for $1.65 billion. "But it's not a bad idea to buy the next YouTube."

Today, CBS is expected to announce that it has hired a 35-year-old investment banker, Quincy Smith, to find the "next YouTube." "I appreciate the pressure," Smith said with a chuckle during an interview. The company named him president of its newly created CBS Interactive division. The move demonstrates that CBS, which is sitting on a stockpile of $3 billion in cash, is eager to make acquisitions to better position itself in digital media.

Link (Thanks, D.A.!) Read the rest

Logo recognition quiz

Here's a timed test to see how quickly you can pick out the real logos in a line-up of imposters. I didn't do very well. Link (Via growabrain) Read the rest

Free psychedelic lectures from Leary, RAW, Watts, etc.

Second Attention hosts an inspiring collection of free video and audio lectures by psychedelic pioneers Alan Watts, Terence McKenna, and bOING bOING patron saints Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary. Link (via Reality Carnival) Read the rest

WikiDumper, Cliff Pickover's new blog of Wikipedia rejects

Psychedelic mathematician and RealityCarnival blogger Cliff Pickover has launched a fun new blog, WikiDumper: The Official Appreciation Page for the Best of the Wikipedia Rejects. Cliff combs the submissions that the Wikipedians have flagged as inappropriate and preserves the best of them for posterity. The site's slogan is "Knowledge's Last Chance." I'm hooked. The first week's collection of Wikipedia rejects include such masterful entries as a list of songs about hair, drunk blogging, the Bonkum brand of sexual position furniture, and a list of celebrity laser eye patients. Link Read the rest

Faesthetic #6, new issue of Dustin "UPSO" Hostetler's magazine

My friend Dustin Hostetler, also known as UPSO, is an amazing illustrator whose work you might recognize from MAKE:, the Webby Awards, Threadless, Coachella, and a variety of vinyl toys. For five years now, Dustin has also published an excellent zine/book hybrid (zook?) called Faesthetic. It's a limited edition perfect-bound 200-page publication packed with original black and white art, photography, illustration, and graffiti with dozens of artists represented in each issue. (No articles, just art.) The last issue, #5, opened with several mind-blowing pages taken from Tim Biskup's sketchbook. Dustin just sent me the latest issue, #6, and every time I flip through it, I end up picking a new favorite page. Faesthetic #6, with a cover designed by Friends With You, sells for $24. Five hundred "collectors edition" copies of this issue, themed "LOVE & DEATH," are also available directly from Faesthetic.com with each one containing a bonus assortment of offset printed posters, stickers, and a mini-comic by Jonkers.

#6 features 94 artists and is 100% ad free! (in order of appearance): Derek Ballard, Aye Jay, Michael Sieben, royalremarkableTM, Maya Hayuk, Michelle Blade, A Purdy, Brad Askew, hellovon, Matthew Peinado, Mansi Shah, Clayton Rochemont, Alexis Mackenzie, Hello Brute, NoPattern, Katy Horan, Maria Forde, Heiko, Jim Koch, Kelsey Brookes, Jason Wasserman, Reynaldo Vasquez, Chrissie Abbott, Blair Kelly, Abe Lincoln Jr. vs Outbreak, Aaron Winters, Peskimo, Steven Harrington, Robin Cameron, James Braithwaite, Ytje Veenstra, Ryan Riss, Mike Deye, Biff Baxter, James Hill, Irana Douer, Jens Andersson, Damien Correll, Andrea Campbell, Product HK, Howie Tsui, Kristy Milliken, Jaimie Reed, Matt Curry vs.

Read the rest

Giant sea horse model on eBay

This handsome giant sea horse is up for auction on eBay. Starting bid is US$899. Human not included. From the auction listing:

Comes directly from a Pennsylvania Estate and has never been offered before.

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING GIANT SEA HORSE 7' 6" TALL (90") x about 7" thick and PERFECTLY PROPORTIONED including HUGE EYES. If you want to attract attention, this is what you'll need to get the job done.

PRICE REDUCED. There's only one like this.

He has a metal grommet at top for hanging him from your ceiling or on the wall of your home, business, or restaurant. Perfect condition with no flaws ready to work inside or outside in the weather. Weighs about 75# or so. YOU'LL NEVER SEE ANOTHER LIKE THIS AGAIN, that's for sure. It is the best of the best and the asking price is far less than it's real value.

Link (Thanks, Michael-Anne Rauback!) Read the rest

Dolphin with extra fins

Last month, Japanese fishers caught a bottle nose dolphin with an extra set of fins near its tail. According to scientists, the mutation is just more evidence that the evolutionary ancestor of ocean mammals like dolphins and whales had four feet and lived on land. From the Associated Press:

Although dolphins and whales with odd-shaped protrusions near their tails have been caught in the past, researchers think this is the first one found with well-developed, symmetrical fins, (Taiji Whaling Museum director) Katsuki Hayashi said...

Fossil remains indicate that dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share a common ancestors with the hippopotamus and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and lost their hind limbs.

Whales and dolphin fetuses show signs of hind protrusions but they disappear before birth.

Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!) Read the rest

Internet acronyms illustrated by Goopymart

Vidiot sez, "The immensely talented cartoonist Goopymart has posted a Flickr set of illustrations of 'Net-talk, such as "O RLY", "PWND", and others. They're brilliant and very funny."


(Thanks, Vidiot!)

Read the rest

Levy's Perfect Thing: eye-opening iPod book

I've just finished Steven Levy's wonderful new book "The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness." The Perfect Thing is a thoroughgoing treatment of the iPod from many different perspectives -- social, economic, technical, psychological, packed with insights from one of the tech world's most astute observers.

I first read Levy in Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, a book that served me as both edification and inspiration, something that continued with new classics like Crypto. Levy's special gift is the ability to simultaneously find the fine lines of the story that are visible in the minor details of, say, Steve Jobs's maunderings about Bob Dylan, and the wide brushstrokes of the social changes unfolding for the entire music industry as the result of the iTunes Music Store and the iPod.

The Perfect Thing is arranged as a series of stand-alone essays ("Shuffle," "Personality," "Cool," etc) and these chapters are shuffled into a different order in several different simultaneous editions of the book, so that each read creates new, serendipitous connections between the different facets of Levy's story. This worked surprisingly well (in my edition, anyway -- it's possible that some of the arrangements are less coherent).

The pieces are chock full of expertly selected, expertly told anecdotes, such as the L-train "iPod wars" in New York, where subway riders challenge one another to coolness battles that consist of facing off your iPod's current track against another rider's, to see who has the better taste. These are used as jumping off points for astute observations about the iPod and what it's doing to the world -- Levy's inside story of how the music industry was lured into getting locked into Apple's proprietary file-formats is gripping and quite enlightening. Read the rest

Army recruiters to students: "Iraq war is over"

US Army recruiters were secretly videotaped lying about the Iraq war to students working undercover for ABC news. The recruiters promised the students that the war in Iraq had ended and that they wouldn't be sent overseas. 105 troopers died in Iraq last month alone. One recruiter helped a student posing as a drug-addled dropout to forge his papers in order to gain admission.

"Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?" one student asks a recruiter.

"No, we're bringing people back," he replies.

"We're not at war. War ended a long time ago," another recruiter says.


(via Making Light) Read the rest

10 million Europeans lose power due to one downed wire

Ten million Europeans lost electricity yesterday, and it appears that the cascading failure was precipitated by shutting down a single power-line in Germany.

The company says systems may have become overloaded after a high-voltage transmission line was shut down over a river to let a ship pass.

Resulting power outages affected as many as ten million people in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Belgium and Spain.


(via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

New game store/hang-out in Indianapolis

My nephew Ari Pescovitz is a hardcore gamer into RPG, miniatures, boardgames, and cardgames. Growing up in Indianapolis, he spent most of his weekends in a local game store where the manager encouraged kids to play, organize tournaments, and just hang out (even when they didn't have any cash to spend). The bad (though predictable) news is that the store shut down years ago. The good news is that Ari, now in college, and his buddy Jerry Poore just opened their own game store in Indianapolis with 1,000 square feet of raw gaming space, no cover charge, and plenty of junk food. As part of the Games To Die For grand opening, Ari and Jerry are hosting a Star Wars Miniatures tournament this coming Saturday, November 11, and donating a portion of the day's sales to the Riley Childrens Hospital. On hand will be a dozen Stormtroopers in full regalia, the CEO of Riley (aka Ari's mom), and Darth Vader. It's sure to be a nerdtastic time. If you're in the area, please stop by!Link Read the rest

Underground economics in the USA

Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh has a fascinating article about the "off the books economy" in the Boston Globe. Ventakesh is the American urban poverty researcher whose work I first encountered in Freakonomics, and the article is adapted from his own new book, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor, which I've just ordered.

How big is the underground economy? The General Accounting Office and the Internal Revenue Service produce estimates every few years that differ widely, but one government study calculated that $500 billion in income fails to be reported each year. Another estimate, based on consumer behavior, suggests that 4 out of 5 Americans turn to the unregulated world for goods and serviceswhich would raise the $500 billion figure appreciably.

But the underground economy is more than just a set of cash transactions. Cash, as it turns out, isn't necessarily the preferred medium of exchange: on Chicago's South Side, barter is just as common. I interviewed the owner of an auto body shop who threw out his cash register because customers were paying their bills in kind. They offered him cellphones, microwaves, furniture, and IOUs. He, in turn, started selling these goods from the back of the store, and now auto repair constitutes only a fraction of his income.


(Thanks, Keith!) Read the rest

Iraq invasion sim from 1999 warned of problems

A secret US wargame called "Desert Crossing" produced during the Clinton era showed that an invasion and post-war presence in Iraq would require around 400,000 troops -- about three times the number of troops stationed there now. Even with those resources, according to simulation output, the mission could result in chaos. Snip:

70 military, diplomatic and intelligence participants concluded the high troop levels would be needed to keep order, seal borders and take care of other security needs. The documents came to light Saturday through a Freedom of Information Act request by George Washington University's National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library.

"The conventional wisdom is the U.S. mistake in Iraq was not enough troops," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director. "But the Desert Crossing war game in 1999 suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground."

There are about 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, down from a peak in January of about 160,000. A week after the invasion, in March 2003, the Pentagon said there were 250,000 U.S. ground force troops inside Iraq, along with 40,000 coalition force troops.

Link to AP report.

Link to "Post-Saddam Iraq: The War Game," released November 4, 2006 at George Washington University's National Security online document archives.

In related news, Saddam Hussein was today sentenced to death: reg-free Link to NYT article. Read the rest

CIA secret prison detainee shouldn't speak to attorney, says US

The Bush administration wants to prevent a detainee once held in a secret CIA prison from speaking to a civilian attorney. Justice Department officials argue the suspect could disclose closely-held details of US interrogation techniques there, some of which critics believe amount to torture. From an AP report:

Human rights groups have questioned the CIA's methods for questioning suspects, especially following the passage of a bill last month that authorized the use of harsh but undefined interrogation tactics.

In recently filed court documents, the Justice Department said those methods, along with the locations of the CIA's network of prisons, are among the nation's most sensitive secrets. Prisoners who spent time in those prisons should not be allowed to disclose that information, even to a lawyer, the government said.

Link (thanks, Gila Monster) Read the rest

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