Govt's self-justifying marijuana policy

Jacob Sullum has a good piece in Reason about the lousy statistics used by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to justify its harmful, wasteful, unhelpful war on drugs.

To bolster the idea that marijuana is more addictive today, the ONDCP notes that "16.1% of drug treatment admissions [in 2006] were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse," compared to "6% in 1992." But referrals from the criminal justice system account for three-fifths of these treatment admissions, and marijuana arrests have increased by more than 150 percent since 1990.

By arresting people for marijuana possession and forcing them into treatment, the government shows why it has to arrest people for marijuana possession. That's our self-justifying drug policy in a nutshell.

Link Read the rest

Ret. U.S. Major Gen. says: "the current administration committed war crimes"

Physicians for Human Rights who examined 11 former detainees from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay say they "uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses." The detainees were never charged with crimes.

"We found clear physical and psychological evidence of torture and abuse, often causing lasting suffering," said Dr. Allen Keller, a medical evaluator for the study.

The report is prefaced by retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army's investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003.

"There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes," Taguba says. "The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account."

Link Read the rest

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets, we listened to chiptunes from 1951, winced at a weird Amiga, and marveled at Dale Mathis' clockworkpunk executive desk. A vintage Flash Gordon strip shills Union Carbide products as passengers board trains that never stop. Mazda's new Russian concept is half SUV, half Batmobile.

Gadget of the day was Philips's sexy, Shuffle-sized MP3 players, but an earthier ingenuity is seen in the blacksmith who recycles anything. Cleverness abounds: the PGP code book, distributed to route around export restrictions, is on on eBay; one may buy fake branded pens designed to upset freeloading pen-borrowers; and Pittsburgh boffins have invented a program that accurately geotags images based on subtle similarities to stuff already in Flickr.

John regaled us with the history of Japanese vending machines, and debunks the urban myth that is doubtless on your mind. Rob wrote about unchecked malware on a government computer that resulted in bogus child porn charges, and Joel infiltrated Apple and listened to The Trons, a homebrew automata band.

Not done? Try God's own suppository, one of 14 3D printers, and a Convenient Lie. Read the rest

Clockwork desk

Over at Boing Boing Gadgets, John posts about this magnificent clockwork desk. Guess what... It ain't cheap. Link Read the rest

Sounds of chimp sex

When chimps have sex with other male chimps around, the female is usually pretty noisy, squeaking and screaming in the throes of passion. That's especially true when the female is doing the dirty with a high-ranking male. Interestingly though, if other female chimps are around, the sex is much quieter. Researchers from the University of St. Andrews recorded the sounds of chimp sex to learn about the sounds of monkey chimp love. From Science News:

The benefit of this strategy could be that she avoids attacks from other females while confusing males about who’s going to be the dad, (University of St. Andrews professor Simon) Townsend and his colleagues propose in the June PLoS ONE.

“It’s very elegant and quite novel,” says primatologist Stuart Semple of Roehampton University in London. Previous work focused on male reaction, so documenting the effects of a female audience brings a new dimension to the research. Also the new paper finds no evidence for the standard belief that female calls incite male competition, he says... Townsend argues the females give confusing signals about paternity thus possibly enlisting the support of important males in case other females attack.

Link Read the rest

6th severed foot found in B.C.?

Karen says: "I work for a newspaper in Campbell River, B.C. on Vancouver Island. Another foot was found here this morning at Tyee Spit (the second this week!). I don't know if it's hit the web yet. I just wanted to give you a heads up, since you've been reporting them on the website."

UPDATE: National Post is running a story about the sixth foot. It's a right foot in a black Adidas shoe. The woman who found it, while picking rocks along the water, said two bones were sticking out of the shoe, and they looked like they'd been cut.

Previously on Boing Boing: • 5th foot found washed up in B.C. Read the rest

People in love with objects

Objectum-sexuals are people who fall in love with inanimate objects, like building, cars, and Hammond organs. And I don't mean appreciation of good design, I mean l-o-v-e. For example, Wall Winther (given name Eija-Riita Ekklaf) is intimate with the Berlin Wall. She calls it her "husband." Ekklaf's Web site, Berlinmauer.se is all about their relationship. From Bizarre magazine:

“We see things as living beings,” (Winther) says. “That’s a must. Otherwise you can’t fall in love with an object.” Wall Winther is attracted mostly to constructions with plenty of parallel lines – buildings, fences, bridges, gates and, in one case, a guillotine. But other OS fetishists might be turned on by the intricate workings of a turbine or television set, the delicate curves of a shiny sports car, the rigid harshness of a railtrack, or the bell end of a trumpet.

Look hard enough and you’ll discover an internet populated by tales of love affairs with objects. Joachim A, for example, confesses to his affair with a Hammond organ that began when he was 12. He’s now in a steady relationship with a steam locomotive. Psychology student Bill Rifka tells of his sexual obsession with his iBook (he defines it as a homosexual relationship as he regards his laptop as male) and Doro B talks about falling for a metal processing machine she encountered at her work. Online at least, OS is a genuine sexual orientation, where relationships thrive, desires are aroused (and fulfilled) and deep emotions burn.

Link

Previously on BB: • Man loves sex with cars Link Read the rest

How to Nap infographic from Boston.com

Scott Beale of Laughing Squid says: "Boston.com has posted an excellent graphic on “How to Nap” in their “Ideas” section." Link Read the rest

Charles and Ray Eames stamps

Yesterday, the US Post Office issued this wonderful commemorative sheet of 16 Charles and Ray Eames stamps. I bought 10 sheets.

Honoring the husband-and-wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames, this commemorative sheet of 16 stamps was designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, and represents the breadth of their extraordinary body of creative work, which includes architecture, furniture, film and exhibits.

Link (via Finkbuilt) Read the rest

Real Snail Mail

The Real Snail Mail project will be part of the Slow Art exhibition at the SIGGRAPH 2008 conference in August. The snails are outfitted with RFID chips. Once the project site is running again, you can send a message to their server where it will be picked up by a snail and then dropped off at some point later on. It reminds me of the experiments with data transfer via snail conducted a few years ago by Yossi Vardi and friends in Israel! From the BBC News article about the Real Snail Mail Project:

Instead of instantaneous communication, sent messages will travel at 0.03mph (0.05km/h) and could take days, weeks or even months to arrive....

"One thing technology promises us is speed, acceleration, more of everything in less time," said Paul Smith, a visual artist working on the project.

"Culturally, we seem obsessed with immediacy. Time is not to be taken but crammed to bursting point."

Link to BBC News article, Link to RealSnailMail site,

Link to SIGGRAPH 2008 "Slow Art" page

Previously on BB: • Data transfer via snail is faster than ADSL and pigeons Link (Thanks, Carlo Longino!) Read the rest

Tiny origami folded with telesurgery equipment

Watch this surgeon fold a tiny origami crane (wingspan smaller than a diameter of a penny) using the DaVinci telesurgery system. I like the way the surgeon's "style" is transmitted to the robotic arms. (via Pink Tentacle) Read the rest

Spiders make traps using light

Some spiders "decorate" their Webs with zigzags and spirals, but the reason why has remained a mystery. Researchers from the University of Sydney now think that the web patterns may be used to reflect ultraviolet light in a way that helps nab insects. From National Geographic:

The team concluded that the webs may be essentially setting a "light trap," where the reflection of the web strands lure passing insects to their deaths.

"Interestingly, the webs [decorated with crosses] were a little more sophisticated than we first thought," (researcher Dieter) Hochuli said.

"The spiders seem to be exploiting the sensitivity of some prey to UV light in particular. When we filtered different components of the visual spectrum from webs … we dramatically altered prey-capture rates," he said.

Link Read the rest

Giant squid bag by Gama-Go

Our pals at Gama-Go released a new line of messenger-style bags including this awesome giant squid model, featuring a seatbelt-like metal buckle. They're available in two sizes for $68 or $88. The Boing Boing Jackhammer Jill/Deathbot t-shirts are also still available in limited quantities! Link Read the rest

BBtv: "Improbable Research Collections" debut

Today, BBtv is proud to share a sneak peek at the new "Improbable Research Collections" internet tv series.

The Improbable Researchers are a group of scientists who collect and conduct research to provoke both laughter and thought. They publish a bi-monthly magazine, "Annals of Improbable Research;" they award the coveted " Ig Nobel Prizes;" and they oversee the exclusive and ridiculous Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists ("for scientists who have, or believe they have, luxuriant flowing hair").

They launch an online series of offbeat videos this week, and like all they do, these 'net shorts are an amalgam of science, technology, and history with Monty-Python-esque irreverence.

In the Researchers' own words:

Each collection – each episode – is about three minutes long, composed of bits and pieces and people from the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, from Ig Nobel Prize lectures and ceremonies and other live events, and from many other sources. We have been collecting this material for almost twenty years.

Bonus (or punishment?) at the end: real scientists in real lab coats singing real bad musical comedy.

Link to Boing Boing tv post with discussion and downloadable video.

Like Boing Boing tv, the Improbable Research Collections videos will be released under a Creative Commons license (Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives). Read the rest

US seizes Danish dress-shop's payment to Pakistan in the name of "terrorism"

Carsten sez, "The owner of a small dress shop in Maribo, Denmark, orders six dresses in Pakistan for a value of $205 and pays by bank transfer - only to find that the transfer is intercepted by the US authorities and the money seized because the seller (fashio.biz) might conceivably support 'terrorism'."

"Christa Møllgaard-Hansen, owner of Christabella's in the town of Maribo on Lolland, routinely buys women's clothing and shoes from around the world to resell in Denmark. But a recent purchase of six dresses from Pakistan for $205 was considered by the American authorities to be money going to support terrorists.

The US froze the funds four months ago and contacted Møllgaard-Hansen's bank, saying they wanted more information on the payment's recipient. Møllgaard-Hansen had put all the necessary information into the original netbank payment, but complied with her bank's request for the additional information."

Link (Thanks, Carsten!) Read the rest

First-ever video of human ovulation

A chance occurrence during minor surgery resulted in the first-ever video of a human ovary in the act of ovulation.

A small amount of saline was used to float the opening of the fallopian tube, its fimbriae (the "fingers" that sweep the egg into the tube) and the ovary itself. This gives a more natural appearance than gas, says Gordts.

In the video, the fimbriae can be seen sweeping in time with the patient's heartbeat. A mucus plug can be seen protruding from the ovary – this contains the egg.

"The ovum is not captured 'naked'," says Gordts. "There is no eruption like a volcano."

Link Read the rest