Documentary: Crazy Rulers of the World

Crazy Rulers of the World is a documentary about secret paranormal experiments conducted inside military bases.

Three years in the making, Jon Ronson’s Crazy Rulers of the World explores the apparent madness at the heart of US military intelligence. With first-hand access to the leading players in the story, Jon Ronson examines the extraordinary -- and plain bizarre -- national secrets at the core of George W Bush's war on terror.

Interviewee: "We had a master sergeant that could stop the heart of a goat"

Jon Ronson: "What? Just by looking at it?"

Interviewee: Just by wantin' the goat's heart to stop

All three parts are available on Google. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Previously on Boing Boing: • The Men Who Stare At Goats Read the rest

David Lynch and psychosis

In May, the science journal The Psychologist published an article discussing the psychology of psychosis in the context of David Lynch's last film, Inland Empire (2006). The full text of the article is now online. From "David Lynch and Psychosis":

Watching a David Lynch film can give the viewer the impression that the director intuitively understands the underlying mechanisms of psychotic experience. Furthermore, in an age where experiential and subjective approaches to understanding mental illness have fallen out of favour, David Lynch may also offer some insight into the feeling of what it is like to suffer from psychosis...

The disorientation engendered by the experience of hallucinations is another tool in David Lynch’s armoury. In Inland Empire, sequences from dreams and earlier versions of the film being shot by Jeremy Irons’ director character are interspersed with footage of the ‘reality’ in which Laura Dern is an actress making ‘High on Blue Tomorrows’. This idea of showing multiple levels of reality is a characteristic of Lynch films. Unlike other directors he goes to great lengths to disorient the viewer by removing the conventional indictors that normally signpost the transition from one text world to another (Werth, 1999). This tendency to remove the tools that allow audiences to monitor the source of what they are witnessing may elicit an experience that resembles the psychotic patient being ‘taken in’ by their hallucinations.

Link to The Psychologist, Link to buy Inland Empire on DVD (via Mind Hacks) Read the rest

Hiroshima bomb pilot dies aged 92

Paul Tibbets, the man who led the crew that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, died in Columbus, Ohio today. He was 92.

The five-ton "Little Boy" bomb was dropped on the morning of 6 August 1945, killing about 140,000 Japanese, with many of them dying later.

On the 60th anniversary of the bombing, the three surviving crew members of the Enola Gay - named after Tibbet's mother - said they had "no regrets."

Link Read the rest

Incredibly easy way to jailbreak iPhone

When AppTapp Installer for the iPhone came out a couple of months ago, I installed it on my iPhone and began running 3rd party applications. I especially liked the ebook reader, Frotz (a text adventure player), the voice recorder, and Summerboard (to scroll through application icons on the iPhone).

Then Apple announced the 1.1.1 update for the iPhone and issued stern warnings that they would not be responsible for any problems caused by updating a modified phone. I un-jailbreaked my phone before updating it.

Shortly after upgrading, I began to miss my jailbreaked iPhone. I read about ways to re-jailbreak it, but they involved downgrading the iPhone's firmware, and it seemed risky.

But a couple of days ago, the iPhone hacking community came up with a very easy way to jailbreak a 1.1.1 iPhone. All you have to do is visit jailbreakme.com on your iPhone and click the AppSnapp install button. I did it, and it worked without a hitch.

According to the site, AppSnapp will not brick your iPhone: "No, worst case you will have to restore in iTunes."

Link (Via Ars Technica) Read the rest

Giant naked man balloon

No outdoor festival is complete without a giant naked man balloon, as seen in this terrific gallery of photos taken by Liberoliber and uploaded to Flickr. From an exhibition at the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, May 7 – June 5, 2007.

Link Read the rest

Baroque painting found in flea market sofa

A Berlin college student apparently had the ultimate thrift-score. Turns out that a beat-up old sofa bed she bought at a flea market for 150 euros (US$216) had a baroque painting tucked in the mattress. The painting sold at auction this week for 19,200 euros (US$27,660.) From Reuters:

"She used the sofa bed for a while before realizing the painting was in there," said Michaela Derra, spokeswoman for the auction house Ketterer Kunst, adding she did not know how the oil painting had wound up inside the sofa.

Link (Thanks, Lindsay Tiemeyer!)

Previously on BB: • $1 million painting found in trash Link Read the rest

Ape Lad's pirate hobo zombie chimp T-shirt -- $10

Did you buy your Ape Lad T-shirt depicting a happy pirate hobo zombie chimp yet? It's only $10 including shipping. Link Read the rest

Cruel 1960s pscyhology experiments

The Guardian has an article about the "most bizarre tests ever conducted in name of scientific inquiry."

My favorite involved 10 soldiers who went on a supposedly routine airplane flight in California in the 1960s. After a while, the plane started falling and the pilot announced they were about to crash.

While the soldiers faced almost certain death, a steward handed out insurance forms and asked the men to complete them, explaining it was necessary for the army to be covered if they died.

Little did the soldiers know they were completely safe. It was merely an experiment to find out how extreme stress affects cognitive ability, the forms serving as the test. Once the final soldier had completed his form the pilot announced: "Just kidding about that emergency folks!"

A later attempt to repeat the experiment with a new group of unwitting volunteers was ruined by one of the previous soldiers, who had penned a warning on a sickbag.

Link (Thanks, Partha!)

Reader comment:

Alex Boese says: In a Nov. 1 post, "Cruel 1960s psychology experiments," you link to a Guardian article which was, in turn, summarizing an article in New Scientist. What the Guardian never mentioned is that I wrote the New Scientist article, and that I was excerpting from my book, Elephants on Acid. It's kind of frustrating to be sidelined like that by a major publication, since I really need all the publicity I can get. But these things happen. Read the rest

Funny illustration for pregnancy book

I don't know if this illustration of a pregnant manga character is for kids or otaku.

Link (Thanks, Frankie!) Read the rest

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today we were subjected to the majesty that is Batter Blaster (pancakes in a can!), a strange oblong UMPC from Korea, Joss Whedon's next TV series Dollhouse, Gundam-themed desk gadgets, breakaway Glove Guards, PC troubleshooting dice, expensive bamboo dry sacks, a bespoke corkscrew that costs €50,000, a wind-up light for developing nations, and tools "for girls."

And deals. And extraneous links. Read the rest

BB's commenting system will temporarily pause

From Boing Boing's community manager, Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

Boing Boing is about to launch a bunch of new features, which you'll be hearing about later today.

But first: at about 12:45 PM (PDT), before we start the transition to the new version of Boing Boing, our old commenter sign-in method will go away. As of that point, we won't want any more commenters to sign in using that method, so we'll shut down access to mt.cgi. However, boingboing.net itself will be accessible the whole time.

The upshot: commenter sign-in will be down for about ten minutes. The weblog itself will stay up and stay readable the whole time.

In the aftermath of the changeover, there'll be a period during which new posts by the editors and new comments by the readers will take longer than usual to show up. Please don't be alarmed. It's a strictly temporary condition.

More to come...

UPDATE: There has obviously been a delay in launching the new features. A few scurrying bugs emerged but our team of intrepid exterminators is on the case. Meanwhile, the original comment sign-in system will remain active. Stay tuned. Read the rest

DIY Video Summit, LA, Feb 8-10

Howard Rheingold writes in with news of the DIY Video Summit (Feb 8-10, USC, Los Angeles):

24/7: A DIY VIDEO SUMMIT February 8-10, 2008 School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

I'm thrilled to moderate a session on Feb 9 that will include Yochai Benkler, John Seely Brown, Joi Ito, Henry Jenkins, and Lawrence Lessig. I don't think this particular group has ever been on stage together.

Spaces are limited for attendance at the academic panels and the workshops. The video screenings are free and open to the public.

24/7: A DIY Video Summit will bring together the many communities that have evolved around do-it-yourself (DIY) video:artists, audiences, technology providers, academics, policy makers and industry executives. The aim is to discover common ground, and to chart the path to a future in which grassroots and mainstream, amateur and professional, artist and audience can all benefit as the medium continues to evolve.

Link to conference site, Link to conference blog

(Thanks, Howard!) Read the rest

Library's clever answer to network filtering

Dana sez, "Saw this in the San Clemente, Ca library. I was performing my magic show and took this poor pic on my Treo. The 'unfiltered' side faces the reference desk so the librarians can monitor usage but they say it has reduced abuse and given adults uncensored access to the internet." Read the rest

Sounds from Saturn

NASA posted some wonderfully trippy sounds collected from Saturn and its moons. For example, one is the sound of winds on Titan, another is magnetometer data from Enceladus translated into audio. The weird recordings remind me of avant-garde electroacoustic music from the 1950s and 1960s. Link (via New Scientist) Read the rest

SimCity Societies and BP

Launching in two weeks, SimCity Societies has a new feature set for creating cities based on the societal values of "productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority, and knowledge," according to the Electronic Arts site. As the New York Times previously reported, Electronic Arts partnered with BP (formerly British Petroleum) to develop "a more nuanced power generation and pollution simulation." Today, Scientific American looks at SimCity Societies and how it's meant to model societal evolution. From the article:

The goal is to produce a high level of "societal energy," by developing a city with one or more of the game's six values. Societal energy is a fairly intangible force, but players know they have it when their cities grow and their citizens are happy and productive. "If you put the city together right, it has the right energy," says Rachel Bernstein, producer of SimCity Societies. Players place buildings within their cities in order to maximize the values most important to them, whether they are productivity and prosperity or creativity and spirituality...

BP saw its role as helping EA–and by extension SimCity players–understand the role of electricity in climate change. "Globally, twice as many emissions come from generating electricity than from all forms of transportation–planes, trains, cars and others," says Carol Battershell, vice president for strategy and policy at the company's subsidiary, BP Alternative Energy. "We wanted there to be a range of power sources and an understanding of the impact of each, including local pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the willingness of people to live next to energy-producing facilities," she adds.

Read the rest

Twelve mile firecracker string

Liuyang City, China's largest fireworks-producing city, set off a 20 km (12.4 mile) string of firecrackers. It lasted for more than an hour but unfortunately nobody from Guinness World Records agreed to show up. The promotional event cost over $100,000 and many people in the region weren't happy about it. From Reuters:

"Unless the firecrackers are supposed to be part of a cinema scene of raging war, what benefits can come from setting off 20 kilometers of fireworks?" asked the Beijing Times...

Chinese towns have staged a variety of fantastic 'records', including the world's largest mooncake, the world's longest whisper and the most people ever to fit on a golf course.

"It's high time to call off applications for the professed 'longest' or 'most' records, such as 10,000 people eating hotpot and 10,000 people washing their feet together. They lack social significance as well as scientific and technical skills," said an editorial in the Guangzhou Daily, which called the event a "real burden for the local economy."

Link (Thanks, Lindsay Tiemeyer!) Read the rest

Brain bag

Jun Takashi designed this bag that looks like a brain. The Brain Bag is knitted from wool. Link (Thanks, Jason Tester!) Read the rest

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