Over at MobHappy, Russell Buckley comments on a news story about an elderly gentlemen who for years has called his late wife's Verizon voicemail just to hear her voice. During a system change though, the message was lost. Apparently though, Verizon heard about the sad situation, found a back-up of the old greeting, and restored it. Link Read the rest
One of JG Ballard's greatest novels is Crash, a dark and magnificent tale of car crash fetishists. As a tribute to Ballard, a private pilot known as Crashman brought his fascination with airplane crashes online for the public to, er, enjoy. For years, Crashman has collected videos of plane crashes and edited them to music. In 2006, he uploaded the bulk of them to YouTube as an "experiment." The Ballardian blog has an essay by Crashman where he explains his fascination that may be less unique than one might think. From Ballardian:
Read the rest
After I had made a few of the videos public, a collective audience began to slowly emerge. I began to receive feedback and criticism, sometimes constructive, often laudatory, and sometimes merely abusive. But these people were accustomed to horrible sights and events already, like a doctor or air crash investigator. How would a random, general audience feel and what would they say? I took the next step: in 2006 I uploaded most of the videos to YouTube.
I expected to be excoriated by this wider, larger general public as a ghoul, an exploiter of the suffering of others, and as it happened the word ’sick’ was freely applied to the videos as well as to myself. I considered this a compliment, as it mirrored the initial publishers’ response to Crash (’This author is beyond psychiatric help: do not publish’). But, and I had expected this too, neo-Ballardians began to show themselves, finding subtle excitements and even strange beauty in the videos, that uneasy, disquieting splendour inherent in the slow-motion breakup of a speeding aircraft.
Funny video shows a dog who won't go through a screenless screen door.
UPDATE Claudia points out that cats (Dutch, ones anyway) are as clueless as dogs when it comes to screenless screen doors. Link Read the rest
William Singalargh, 27, of New Zealand's North Island, was arrested for assaulting a 15-year-old boy with a hedgehog. He apparently hurled the animal at the boy. From The Daily Telegraph:
"It hit the victim in the leg, causing a large, red welt and several puncture marks," Senior Sergeant Bruce Jenkins said...
It was not known whether the hedgehog was dead or alive when thrown on February 19, but it was dead when collected as evidence.
Link (Thanks, Sean Ness!) Read the rest
Spooky pop surrealists Femke Hiemstra and Travis Louie have a joint show of new work opening Friday at Seattle's Roq La Rue Gallery. Based in Amsterdam, Hiemstra paints windows onto strange fairlyands inhabited by opium-smoking cats, gingerbread men, and evil insects. Above left, Hiemstra's "Fortune Cookie Hunter." Louie's portraits capture the delightful personality of mutants like "Martin Gibbon," above right. According to Louie, "Martin was the first Gibbon to be named head master at Belhaven Hill in Dunbar." Link to Hiemstra preview, Link to Louie preview Read the rest
Brett Foster made a working 1:12 scale television for his daughter's dollhouse -- you can hook it up to any traditional TV peripheral, like cable feeds, consoles, DVD players, etc. He's selling them for £99 (US$6,700,232.22).
"The TV's are easy to install, they have a very clear crisp picture and are a must for any dolls house enthusiast," added Brett.
"With the colour TV being common place in homes from the 70's and 80's it stands to reason that they would find there way to the dolls house scene."
(via Geekologie) Read the rest
Vimeo user Flight404 uploaded a triptastic collection of hyperdelic music visualizations. Link (Thanks, Mike Love!) Read the rest
The IMF says that the US debt crisis has a one in four chance of plunging the world into global recession.
America's mortgage crisis has spiralled into "the largest financial shock since the Great Depression" and there is now a one-in-four chance of a full-blown global recession over the next 12 months, the International Monetary Fund warned today.
The US is already sliding into what the IMF predicts will be a "mild recession" but there is mounting pessimism about the ability of the rest of the world to escape unscathed, the IMF said in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook. Britain is particularly vulnerable, it warned, as it slashed its growth targets for both the US and the UK.
Link Read the rest
UK-based Russell Porter chronicles alt music culture in the Porter Report with aggressive wit and offbeat charm. Today, the "professional chancer and well known layabout" joins us on Boing Boing TV for a live session by alt-blues-punk band the Guillotines (Sounds Like: "we suffer for our music and now it's your turn.") Next, some wasted chick with a double mohawk tries to hit our host up for spare change.
Link to Boing Boing tv episode, with discussion and downloadable video.
Here are previous BBtv episodes featuring Russell Porter. (special thanks to Jolon Bankey). Read the rest
Peter Brown from the Free Software Foundation sez,
End Software Patents (ESP) and the Free Software Foundation have filed an amicus curiae brief in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's (CAFC) rehearing of the In re Bilski case set for May 8, 2008. The rehearing could lead to the elimination of patents on software.
With the boundary to what can be patented effectively destroyed by previous Federal Circuit rulings, massive-scale liability has been created throughout the US economy. Over the last few months alone, ESP has tallied over fifty non-software companies being sued for infringement regarding their web sites or other course-of-business software, including the Green Bay Packers, McDonald's, Dole Foods, Kraft Foods, Caterpillar, J Crew, Burlington Coat Factory, Wal-Mart, and Tire Kingdom. The rest of this list can be found here.
Ironically, the Federal Circuit's own web site is produced using software that likely infringes some number of software patents.
executive director Ben Klemens said, "This is an historic opportunity to
fix the US patent system, as the Bilski rehearing will directly address
the boundaries of the subject matter of patents. In our brief, the End
Software Patents project supports the Supreme Court's long-held position
that computer software should not be patentable, and has highlighted to
the Court the real economic harm software patents cause the US economy."
Link,/a Read the rest
I'm awfully fond of this Chinese mobile phone strap that unfurls into a USB charging/data cable and includes a microSD reader.
(Thanks, Brando!) Read the rest
Update: I was wrong: it turns out that New Zealand's anti-circumvention rules are as good as they come -- the Kiwis slipped one by old Uncle Sam!
Andrew sez, "Released by the NZPA on Wednesday, 09 April 2008, this article mentions the passing into law of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Bill in New Zealand."
It does not change the balance between protection and access to copyright material, but makes sure the balance can continue to operate when new technologies are involved.
It introduces an offence, carrying a sentence of a maximum fine of $150,000 or up to five years imprisonment, or both, for commercial dealings in devices, services or information designed to circumvent technological protection measures.
"Thanks Uncle Sam."
Thanks indeed -- now New Zealand joins the growing list of nations where it's illegal to sell digital lockpicks, even if you only use them to get at files you have the rights to, which have been locked up by greedy (or bankrupt, or uncaring, or sloppy) software and entertainment companies.
(Thanks, Andrew!) Read the rest
Etsy seller Rivkasmom has these gorgeous cufflinks made from old watch-movements on sale for $55 -- I saw a similar item at a posh London men's store on Jermyn Street last week for £400!
(Thanks, Dani!) Read the rest
A paper by the University of Hong Kong's Li-Hai Tan and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that people who are dyslexic in one language may not have problems with other languages -- particularily if the dyslexia is in a alphabetically written language as opposed to a symbolically written one:
People suffering from dyslexia may find that their problems evaporate when they learn a new language, especially one that works with symbols very different from their native one. A study released yesterday reveals that brain abnormalities in English-speakers with dyslexia are quite different from those in people who speak Chinese. So it's very possible that a person who is dyslexic in Chinese wouldn't be in English, and vice versa.
(Thanks, Marilyn!) Read the rest
Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Joel takes note of a Slate article by Alexandra Harney on the end of cheap Chinese electronics, led by unstoppable inflation
The era of cheap Chinese consumer goods may finally be ending, thanks to irrepressible inflation. Now when the Chinese present their lists, some American importers are conceding higher prices, meaning that American shoppers, for the first time in years, are starting to pick up the tab for rising costs in China. Some Chinese factories are now asking their American customers for price increases of as much as 20 percent to 30 percent.
Discuss on Boing Boing Gadgets Read the rest
On WorldChanging, Alex Steffen gives a briefing on the Freeaire System, which pipes in cold external air when available to cut energy bills.
"...designed to provide such free cooling for walk-in coolers, freezers and cold storage warehouses. The system utilizes an electronic controller to finely tune the operation of standard refrigeration equipment, and this controller simply monitors the outdoor temperature and desired temperature settings and stops refrigerator evaporator fans when not needed, which also reduces the compressor's refrigeration load. Proper airflow is maintained when the evaporator fans switch off by operating one or more energy-efficient circulating fans.
Roughly half the electricity consumed by a typical convenience store is used for refrigeration. The Freeaire System is designed to save energy year-round by allowing refrigeration equipment for a walk-in cooler or freezer to run only as much as it has to. Once the system is installed, evaporator fans typically operate 50 to 75% less often, and reach-in door heaters operate 90% less frequently. Condensing units also usually experience a 10 to 20% reduction in operations. Moreover, a Freeaire System saving 20,000 kilowatt-hours annually can prevent 40,000 pounds of CO2 from being emitted to the atmosphere.
Link Read the rest
A Japanese roboticist plans to build a 13-foot-high Gundam clone (and wants to take it one further and build a six-storey version!)
[Takayuki Furuta,] the director of the Future Robotics Technology Center in Chiba, Japan, figured out how to make a real-life, six-story-tall Gundam, the classic battle robot from Japanese anime. He ran computer models on every aspect of the bot to determine what parts he would need to power and control the beast. Then he surfed electronics and industry-equipment catalogs to find the components. The result: a complete blueprint for a $742 million bot. By showing how the anime fixture can actually be built, he hopes to get schoolkids fired up about robotics. Well, that and he actually intends to build one. A 60-foot-tall robot may not be financially feasible, Furuta says, but he's going to try making a version that could be as tall as 13 feet. He aims to have it working by 2011, when, ideally, someone will have created something for it to fight.
(via Futurismic) Read the rest