Today in my ongoing series of photos from my travels over the years: rows and rows of beautiful decorated papier maché skulls on sale on Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Stop The Spying campaign wants your help to send a message to Congress about granting immunity to telcos that broke the law and helped the NSA engage in indiscriminate mass surveillance of Americans. They're calling on US citizens to snap pictures of themselves holding anti-immunity signs that give city and state, and they're producing a gallery of these to present to Congress, to show the faces of the voters who believe in the Constitution.
# Get out your digital cameras, phone cameras, and webcams.
# Write your message on a piece of paper, and include your city and state.
# Take a photo of yourself holding your message. Be creative and make sure the message is readable.
Interesting stuff afoot in the Congressional shuffle: "Hollywood" Howard Berman (who once proposed a law immunizing the entertainment industry for hacking innocent peoples' PCs while undertaking vigilante anti-piracy activities) looks set to leave the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property and chair the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (where the pork makes the money you get from entertainment giants look like small potatoes.
Likely to replace Berman is Rep Rick Boucher, who once proposed the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA), which would have reformed the DMCA to make it legal to break DRM in order to do lawful things. He's the closest thing to a copyfighter in Congress, and you can only imagine that putting him in charge of the House Committee that handles the Internet and copyright will certainly change the game.
God knows what Berman will do once he's running Foreign Affairs, though.
There's no guarantee yet that Boucher will get the job, and he and Berman still need to win their respective elections this fall, but even the prospect of a Boucher-controlled Internet and IP subcommittee in the House feels like an early Christmas present. As the Hollywood Reporter correctly notes, though, the full Committee is still chaired by John Conyers (D-MI), who comes from the Berman School of Thought on such issues.
Walking-Things's Walking Chair looks like a chair, but it walks -- and you can't sit on it. And it costs €15,000 (which is like ten million American pesos). But the action of its motion (as documented on the site's unfortunately teeny videos) is pure incredibly awesomeness.
Lila Dreams is a damned interesting-looking independent massively multiplayer online roleplaying game. The manifesto is inspiring: no extruded fantasy product (ogres, dwarves, elves, etc); no grinding (repetitive tasks are boring) but:
No level grind, but there is combat: juicy, 2d platforming combat with RPG-like mechanics! This wasn’t always the idea, though. I originally wanted the game to not have combat at all, but in the end I decided that combat is something that a lot of people want. And we aim to please! So, then I decided that if there must be combat, I will find a way to avoid level grinding. I’ll talk more about the combat systems in later posts. It’s very early in the development cycle to be giving out details.
Plant diagram There is a kind of crafting, and it’s a central part of the gameplay. All I can say for now is that you don’t craft items–you grow them. Yes, gardening. :) But in a surrealistic game world where plants are not just plants. But I must not give away too much! (It’s very hard for me not to spill the beans! Oh how I fight!)
Czech researchers ran a test on 390 kids with cold or flu-like symptoms, giving them a nasal spray made from seawater. It reduced their cold symptoms and helped prevent relapses. It sounds good, but it must be noted that the study was paid for by a French company that sells a seawater nasal spray.
It may be that the salt water has a simple mechanical effect of clearing mucus, or it could be that trace elements in the water play some more significant role, though the exact reason why such a solution works is not known, said Dr. Ivo Slapak and colleagues at the Teaching Hospital of Brno in the Czech Republic.
The study, published in the January issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology, was paid for by Goemar Laboratoires La Madeleine, Saint-Malo, France, which makes Physiomer, the seawater nasal spray used in the investigation.
Artist Amy Crehore designed the logo for the Tickler brand ukulele, and you can get it on a T-shirt. I think it's beautiful!
Very nice quality white, heavyweight, unisex t-shirts, 100% cotton, pre-shrunk. This 3-color silkscreen t-shirt was made from an original ink drawing by artist Amy Crehore. For ukulele lovers, cat lovers, girl lovers, little pierrot lovers, & polka-dot shoe lovers.
A couple of TEDsters sent me this tip:
One TED2008 Main Hall Pass has just gone up for auction on ebay. It's the only remaining legal way that someone can get into the event. The auction is being done with the approval of TED, because all the proceeds will go towards the Open Architecture Network, which was created in response to TED Prize Winner Cameron Sinclair's inspiring wish.
The pass, which guarantees coveted access to the main theater where speakers present, includes three special extras:
- a first-day meeting with TED super-connector Sunny Bates
- a coffee at TED with the brilliant founder of ebay Pierre Omidyar
- and a lunch with the charming, insightful and delightful Meg Ryan
TED2008 has been sold out for more than a year, so we suspect this is going to make someone very happy indeed. It won't be cheap, but the successful bidder will be making a philanthropic contribution to an organization that's empowering architects and designers to change the world.
TED2008 is Feb 27-March 1, in Monterey, California on the theme "The Big Questions."
Luke says: "In Lewiston, Maine a 50-to-60-foot doughy mass is clogging a sewer line under the city's main drag, and crews have been unable to budge it and have no idea what it is!"
City crews discovered the clog earlier this month after responding to complaints of blocked sewer lines downtown. Jones said crews opened a manhole at the Bates Street intersection and saw the clog - an oozing, white blob that looks like uncooked dough.
"We've tried punching through it, but each time we do, it just oozes back over the hole," he said. "It really looks like dough."
The Guardian has a hard-to-believe story about a mother and her two daughters who traveled from the UK to New York for a vacation. The mother caught pneumonia and the teenaged girls were taken to a municipal orphanage, "where they were separated, strip-searched and questioned before being kept under lock and key for the next 30 hours."
The two sisters were made to shower in front of security staff and told to fill out a two-page form with questions including: "Have you ever been the victim of rape?" and "Do you have homicidal tendencies?"
One question asked "are you in a street gang?" to which Gemma replied: "I'm a member of Appledore library."
Their clothes, money and belongings were taken and they were issued with regulation white T-shirt and jeans. Katie said: "It was like being in a little cage. I tried to go to sleep, but every time I opened my eyes, someone was looking right at me."
Eventually Bray discharged herself, and -- still dressed in hospital pyjamas -- tracked down the girls.
When the family returned home, the US Administration for Children and Families mailed her a letter to let her now that she is now "under investigation."