Drug war horror stories to boil your blood

The New Yorker's "Drug War Bulletins" are sure to boil your blood: a man who died for want of a liver transplant because the hospital insisted he needed "drug treatment" for his medical marijuana use; a suburban San Diego housewife who will spend the next 20 years in jail because she was peripherally involved in a heroin deal while she was in college in 1975; and a pulmonologist who'd been favored by the drug warriors until his giant, well-funded, unreproachable study concluded that pot didn't give you lung cancer, and who is now a pariah whose research conclusions have been boycotted by the press.

The War on Some Drugs is as unwinnable and destructive as all the other wars on abstract nouns. Who needs terrorists to rip America apart when you've got drug warriors killing off, imprisioning and shunning its innocents?

.In Seattle, a fifty-six-year old man died last Thursday after being refused a liver transplant because he had followed his doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana to ease the symptoms of hepatitis C. From the Associated Press story:

His death came a week after a doctor told him a University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list. The team had previously told him it would not consider placing him on the list until he completed a 60-day drug-treatment class…

The Virginia-based United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation’s transplant system, leaves it to individual hospitals to develop criteria for transplant candidates.

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SMS data rate is 4x more expensive than data from the Hubble

You know how the mobile carriers charge you a couple cents to SMS a few characters' worth of text over their network? When you add it up, you're paying about a zillion bucks a meg for that traffic -- seriously! A space scientist from Leicester has calculated that SMS data is four times more expensive than receiving data from the Hubble space telescope.

He worked out the cost of obtaining a megabyte of data from Hubble – and compared that with the 5p cost of sending a text.

He said: “The bottom line is texting is at least 4 times more expensive than transmitting data from Hubble, and is likely to be substantially more than that.

“The maximum size for a text message is 160 characters, which takes 140 bytes because there are only 7 bits per character in the text messaging system, and we assume the average price for a text message is 5p. There are 1,048,576 bytes in a megabyte, so that's 1 million/140 = 7490 text messages to transmit one megabyte. At 5p each, that's £374.49 per MB - or about 4.4 times more expensive than the ‘most pessimistic’ estimate for Hubble Space Telescope transmission costs.”

Dr Bannister said it had been difficult to work out exactly how much Hubble data transmission costs. So he contacted NASA who gave him a firm figure of £8.85 per megabyte (MB) for the transmission of data from HST to the Earth.

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(via Consumerist) Read the rest

Fractal drawers

Fractal 23, from New York's Takeshi Miyakawa Design, might just be the coolest chest of drawers I've ever seen.

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(via DVice) Read the rest

Swapping heads with dad and kid photos

Man Babies is a bizarre blog that has nothing but photos of dads whose heads have been swapped with their kids' . Link Read the rest

BB translated by community into other languages

Brian McConnell says:

The Worldwide Lexicon is a community translation system that enables a website's readers to translate to the languages they speak. We're beta testing a multilingual blogging service, Der Mundo.

You can find Boing Boing at boingboing.dermundo.com where you can view, edit and score translations, and help make Boing Boing accessible to everyone who speaks your language. Der Mundo translates new posts using machine translation services, after which readers can edit or replace these rough translations to improve them. Der Mundo guesses which languages you speak based on your browser preferences, and tries to display articles in your language first. It falls back to the original text if a translation has not been posted yet.

Readers can score translations via a simple five star rating scale, and can edit existing translations by clicking on a pencil icon adjacent to each item. Readers can contribute translations by clicking on English --> ____ links below each article headline. This will take you to a web editor where you can create or edit a translation, as well as view the revision history.

WWL is an open source project, and is developing a suite of tools to enable websites and blogs to go multilingual, using a combination of machine translation, volunteers (readers) and professional translators. The project's goal is to eliminate the language barrier for interesting content by making it easy for people to form translation communities and services around topics, websites or languages. They will be releasing a professional translation hub, under the New BSD license, in early summer.

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PearBudget -- awesomely simple expense tracking application

Keeping track of my expenses was one of my resolutions this year. I've been using a terrific web-based application called PearBudget to help me keep my promise to myself. PearBudget is streamlined, lightweight, and elegant, and because it's web-based, I can use my iPhone to enter receipts as soon as I get them.

I asked Charlie, the co-creator of PearBudget, to explain why he and his partner Sarah made PearBudget.

At the core of our wanting to make PearBudget was that we wanted simple control over our finances.

Quicken and other more advanced accounting programs are overkill for the simple task of tracking your expenses and making a budget. Financial services that automate everything don't compel you to actively reconsider your spending habits. We wanted to be in control, but we didn't want to be overwhelmed. We designed PearBudget to ride that line.

Our background isn't in programming or banking, but in information design – Sarah's a map designer; Charlie's a typesetter and occasional web designer. So our interest in developing a better financial tool had a lot to do with creating a simple presentation of the user's information, and with giving the user a good experience developing and keeping a budget.

It's a truly beautiful app. You can try it for 30 days for free; after that it's $3 a month. Link Read the rest

New eBoy Los Angeles poster

(Click on image for enlargement) The latest city to meet the perfect pixel placers at eBoy is Los Angeles, my beloved home. Link Read the rest

Beautifully designed Tables of Contents

DesignObserver's put together a great book/slideshow/Flickr group of beautiful table of contents pages from various books:

In this book, we have gathered together thirty Table of Contents pages from our personal collections. On the surface, the selection may elude standard organizational conceits: why a design collection that also includes poetry and fiction? Why Philip Larkin and not Billy Collins, Ayn Rand and not Philip Roth, Paul Rand and not Jan Tschichold? Like “next” itself, there’s no intentional logic or over-arching plan: we just found these examples engaging, the discrepancies between them even more so.

Some readers will appreciate their typographic form, while others will see further strategies at work – informational, strategic, philosophical, literary. There are odd, even anachronistic cultural references, gestures that date these books in a manner oddly soothing. They remind us that what we will be has, by its very nature, a great deal to do with where we’ve been – and that there is no future without a past.

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(via Kottke) Read the rest

Gallery of data-centers built into shipping containers -- Boing Boing Gadgets

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Joel spotted this gallery of modular data-centers built into shipping containers -- talk about two great tastes that taste great together. Hard to imagine a more iconic use of 21st century technologies:

Royal Pingdom has a few images from the inside of portable data centers, the sort used by Sun and Google to drop massive computing power anywhere they can send a shipping container. I would like to hang a hammock inside and make one my new nest.

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Discuss this post on Boing Boing Gadgets Read the rest

Indian restaurant for the destitute

Partha sez, "Popularly known the food joint for the destitute, this 'restaurant' on railway tracks has been running for the last 51 years at the southern division of Sealdah Station in north Kolkata, India, using up the space around a couple of unused tracks, even as trains whiz past on other platforms nearby. Run today by 40-year-old Fatima Bibi, who took over the business from her mother Nur Banu at the age of 11, this joint boasts of a faithful clientele of beggars, pickpockets, platform dwellers, porters and drug addicts, who troop in for leftover and stale food at rock bottom prices."

"We hardly earn Rs.25 a day. Surely, we can't afford to spend more than Rs.5 a day on lunch and dinner. Here we can eat to the fullest for Rs.3, that's what matters. Whether the food is leftover or slightly rotting, we don't care," said Chanchal, a beggar at the station.

Some customers have just a bowlful of boiled rice water available for 50 paisa.

However, Fatima manages to make about Rs.800 a day from her "hotel". But just as there are no free lunches in this world, it seems there are no free businesses either - not a day passes without Fatima giving bribes to the railway police.

"Every day I have to pay the police personnel Rs.100 to allow me run my business peacefully. But policemen are like chameleons. On strict days they just kick my customers and me out of the tracks. However we don't give up.

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HOWTO handle a police-stop

Here's the latest installment in Instructables' series of HOWTOs inspired by my young adult novel Little Brother, which tells the story of young people who use homebrew technology to restore their civil liberties after a police crackdown on terrorism.

This week's installment: What to do if the police stop you.

1. What you say to the police is always important. What you say can be used against you, and it can give the police an excuse to arrest you, especially if you badmouth a police officer.

2. You must show your driver's license and registration when stopped in a car. Otherwise, you don't have to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested, with one important exception. The police may ask for your name if you have been properly detained, and you can be arrested in some states for refusing to give it. If you reasonably fear that your name is incriminating, you can claim the right to remain silent, which may be a defense in case you are arrested anyway.

3. You do not have to consent to any search of yourself, your car or your house. If you DO consent to a search, it can affect your rights later in court. If the police say they have a search warrant, ASK TO SEE IT.

4. Do not interfere with, or obstruct the police, as you you can be arrested for it.

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Canada's Crown Copyright: high-cost censorship

Canada -- like much of the Commonwealth -- has a bizarre para-copyright system called "Crown Copyright" that allows the government to restrict and charge for the use of documents created at taxpayer expense. Not only is Canada's Crown Copyright system a gigantic boondoggle (annual revenue: $7,000; annual cost of administration: $200,000), but it turns out the system is administered in such a way as to censor criticism of the government:

For example, an educational institution request to reproduce a photo of a Snowbird airplane was denied on the grounds that the photo was to be used for an article raising questions about the safety of the program. Similarly, a request to reproduce a screen capture of the NEXUS cross-border program with the U.S. was declined since it was to be used in an article that would not portray the program in a favourable light. Although it seems unlikely that crown copyright authorization was needed to use these images, the government's decision to deny permission smacks of censorship and misuse of Canadian copyright law.

Given the significant costs associated with a program that does more harm than good and that appears susceptible to political manipulation, any new copyright reform should eliminate crown copyright and adopt in its place a presumption that government materials belong to the public domain to be freely used without prior permission or compensation.

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HOWTO knit new uppers for your Converse

Livejournal's Snuffykin followed the plans in Craft magazine to replace the uppers on her worn-out shoes with knitted versions. The newly remade Converse kick all kinds of ass.

The shoe part:

* I cut the uppers and tongues off of Champion flat tops, then put several layers of gesso on the surfaces to whiten them up. I finished this with a few coats of matte sealer.

* Heavy duty yarn is hard to find. I found it at Joann Fabrics, finally. * Since the Champion shoe material was leather and not fabric like Converse, a sewing needle didn't go through easily. I used a bookbinding awl to punch holes through the layers of leather around the sole before sewing. Still, it was tricky. * The Champion heel was shorter than the Converse heel, so I seamed the pieces rising above short heel. * Running out of time, I sewed using running stitch, which actually holds up.

The results:

The shoes are wearable, walkable, but floppy. Partly because the heel is too short. I could have just followed the instructions for a size 8 for a more snug fit. They're messy looking, due to my rush to finish, but I'm not going to change a thing. I never wore those shoes anymore, but now they're just for special occasions. :)

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(via Craft) Read the rest

Song made from Call of Duty gun-sounds

Graham sez, "tpimovies.com user Serpento has created this catchy little ditty out of nothing more than samples of firearms discharging in Call Of Duty 4. Personally, my favorite part is when the 'Empty Clip' sound is used as the bridge in the middle." And, naturally, the video is all machinima.

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(Thanks, Graham!) Read the rest

New Gnarls Barkley video and backstory

John Paul sez, "My sister Wendy went to Jamaica to make a music video for Gnarls Barkley. I've always found it fascinating how she listens to songs and just fantasizes about what imagery or story goes with the music, and then struggles to make the video happen in an incredibly short time frame and on a tight budget. This video is maybe her finest. The imagery comes out of her head, partly inspired by a trip we made to Africa, partly inspired by Jamaican dance hall glory.

"Filming in Jamaica is worth it, and the dancers are not the only amazing Jamaicans behind the video. The local crew worked themselves silly to make this happen."

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(Thanks, John Paul!) Read the rest

COOP profile in Bizarre

UK fringe culture magazine Bizarre recently paid a visit to the studio of BB pal COOP. The online version of the great article, by Maki, features Mark Berry's terrific photos of COOP in his natural habitat. From Bizarre:

“LA is the fertile crescent of hot rodding,” (COOP) says, his eyes twinkling. “It’s still big here, really alive.

The neat thing is that the history of the hot rodding scene is still relatively recent, so all the first- and second-generation guys are still here, still walking around and driving the incredible cars they built.

One of the things that appeals to me as an artist is that the whole essence of hot rodding is taking a mass-produced item, pulling it apart, then rebuilding it and making it better.You’re making it into an individual statement – and that’s art. “I have many friends who work as automotive painters, who build cars professionally. I look at their work, and I think they’re incredible artists.

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Officer tries in vain to catch people fleeing from van

Watch this officer try to catch several men jumping out of a van. (via Arbroath) Read the rest

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