Pirate Bay trial in Stockholm: Day 1

Wired's Threat Level blog has coverage from the first day of the trial of the creators of the Pirate Bay, the huge torrent-tracker based in Stockholm. It's a sold out event, with scalpers selling tickets (!) outside the court.

In the defendants' opening statements, they denied any criminal acts, though Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg conceded responsibility for certain functions in running The Pirate Bay. Peter Sunde claimed he had no overall responsibility, while the older Carl Lundstrom claimed he only sold co-location and bandwidth to the operation at market prices.

Media interest is intense. The largest Swedish newspapers have bloggers covering the trial live as the top front page story. Public radio and TV have special sites and have broadcast the audio from the courtroom in its entirety. Crowds of Pirate Party and Pirate Bureau members were circling the court, inside and outside. Your correspondent was served homemade "Creative Commons cookies" by teenage girls in fantasy genre garb. They said they wanted to support the good forces of the world and convert bad ones to their cause.

Perhaps recognizing that public opinion was against him, the prosecutor painted a somewhat benevolent picture of the Defendants during his opening statement, telling a story about some very gifted computer nerds who started an ideologically-based project that grew larger, and began needing more resources to keep up with its popularity. Hence, The Pirate Bay started selling ads on the site, and became more organized. The defendants didn't deny any of this, but claimed that the advertising income just covered part of their expenses for running and developing their heavily trafficked site.

Read the rest

Scientology TV show blames psychiatry for turning Osama bin Laden into a terrorist

In this clip from a Scientologist TV show, the host and his guests explain that psychiatry led to both the Holocaust and Osama bin Laden's masterminding of the 9/11 attacks. Y'see, bin Laden was led astray by al-Zawahiri, a psychiatrist*, whose therapy** caused ObL to turn into the most committed anti-aviation activist the world has ever seen.

Scientologists Try to Explain how Psychiatrists caused 9/11 and the Holocaust

(via Denialism)

*Not actually a psychiatrist **No therapy took place Read the rest

Canadian ISP Rogers: We're a dumb pipe, except when we want to stop BitTorrent

Rogers, Canada's terrible, filter-happy cablemodem ISP, has just given testimony to its regulator saying that its lines are "dumb pipes" and it can't control what's on them (they're trying to avoid having to meet Canadian content rules that would require them to encourage Canadians to consume "Canadian" bits on the Internet, an admittedly redonkulous idea). But when they go to the regulator to ask for the right to clobber customers' downloads, they say they're a "smart pipe" who lovingly inspect every single packet for copyright naughtiness.

Net neutrality is frequently re-characterized as "network management," with ISPs arguing that they should be able to manage their networks in a manner that distinguishes between certain applications (and potentially content). Funny, though, what happens when groups ask that the same network management tools be used for alternate purposes such as Canadian content rules. When that happens, Rogers, the same ISP that acknowledges traffic shaping, now says "We're a dumb pipe. We don't know what you're downloading . . . so how can we be responsible for the content?" In other words, when Rogers appears before the CRTC during the new media proceeding it runs a "dumb pipe." When it returns several months later for the network management proceeding, it runs a smart pipe engaged in deep packet inspection to identify the traffic on its network.

Rogers - "We're A Dumb Pipe" Read the rest

Ed Felten: a redesigned "safe" Internet won't be safe

Responding to a New York Times article on a Stanford research project that proposes a new Internet with no anonymity and limits on which software you can run (a "safer" Internet), Princeton's Ed Felten explains two gross misconceptions in the piece:

First is the notion that today's security problems are caused by weaknesses in the network itself. In fact, the vast majority of our problems occur on, and are caused by weaknesses in, the endpoint devices: computers, mobile phones, and other widgets that connect to the Net. The problem is not that the Net is broken or malfunctioning, it's that the endpoint devices are misbehaving -- so the best solution is to secure the endpoint devices. To borrow an analogy from Gene Spafford, if people are getting mugged at bus stops, the solution is not to buy armored buses.

(Of course, there are some security issues with the network itself, such as vulnerability of routing protocols and DNS. We should work on fixing those. But they aren't the problems people normally complain about -- and they aren't the ones mentioned in the Times piece.)

The second misconception is that the founders of the Internet had no plan for protecting against the security attacks we see today. Actually they did have a plan which was simple and, if executed flawlessly, would have been effective. The plan was that endpoint devices would not have remotely exploitable bugs.

New Internet? No Thanks.

(via Hack the Planet) Read the rest

History Chess set -- 32 sculptures of iconic twencen moments

Boym Design's new "History Chess" set uses a set of 32 sculptures of iconic 20th century moments and objects to create a chess-board that is nostalgic and evocative:

The history of the 20th Century has often been compared to a chess game: a struggle of opposing political systems, ideologies, brands, and artistic movements. Every figure in our monumental chess set alludes to a particular historical icon, beginning with the sinking Titanic and ending with the scarred towers of the World Trade Center.

Space Shuttle, Coca-Cola, Unabomber Cabin, VW Beetle - are all there. Essentially, the set is a collection of 32 different sculptures on board, which the game continuously re-combines in a new composition.

The wooden chess pieces, hand-carved in Indonesia per Boym’s exact specifications, are set on a monumental 4 X 4-foot chess board which also serves as a box for the chess. The set is made in edition of 8. Price is available upon request from info@boym.com

History Chess

(via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

Scientific publishers get a law introduced to end free publication of govt-funded research

Steve sez, "Currently, the National Institutes of Health require NIH-funded research to be published in open-access repositories. In a cop to for-profit science publishers, Congressional Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has re-introduced a bill (HR801) that essentially would negate the NIH policy concerning depositing research in OA repositories. The bill goes further than prohibiting open access requirements, however, as the bill also prohibits government agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet, and would repeal the longstanding 'federal purpose' doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work reserve the 'royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work' for any federal purpose. The bill is bad news."

Stand for Open Access, Oppose HR801

(Thanks, Steve!) Read the rest

Bates House papercraft replica

Ray Keim sez, "I wanted to let all of the paranormal papercraft lovers to know that I just released my latest FREE paper model kit, "The Bates House'. It is the same scale as my Disney haunted mansion paper models, so it fits nicely into the neighborhood. And Mother is watching from her window!

The Bates House Paper Model Kit

(Thanks, Ray!)

Previously: Finest Haunted Mansion papercraft model ever - Boing Boing Papercraft Haunted Mansion to download, cut and glue - Boing Boing Haunted Mansion papercraft model adds crypts and gates - Boing Boing Read the rest

New Zealand netizens go black in protest of new "no-proof" copyright law that cuts off your Internet on accusation

Nat Torkington sez,

The previous government in New Zealand enacted an amendment to the Copyright Act that required ISPs to have a policy to disconnect users after repeated accusations of infringement, over the objections of technologists. While it's possible to have a policy that requires proof rather than accusation, APRA (the RIAA of New Zealand) strongly opposes any such attempts at reasonable interpretation of Section 92. The minor parties in the coalition government oppose the "three accusations and you're offline" section and want it repealed. This is the last week before that law is due to come into effect and the Creative Freedom Foundation, a group formed to represent artists and citizens who oppose the section, has a week of protest planned to convince the ruling National Party to repeal S92.

The first day's action was blacking out Twitter and Facebook avatars. I did it, as did Channel 3 Business News, a Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi, oh and Stephen Fry. Kudos to Juha Saarinen who first put out the call. This is building up to a full Internet blackout day on February 23rd. I'm delighted to say that the idea was formed at Kiwi Foo Camp, and the folks who were at Kiwi Foo have been running wild with it--building banners, releasing templates, spreading the word.

New Zealand Goes Black

(Thanks, Gnat!) Read the rest

Japanese Version of Boing Boing

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.

Xeni and I have been secretly working on a Japanese version of Boing Boing not. But maybe this is what it would look like - threw together during a PG Tips tea break using Fireworks. And in case you are wondering - the first post in the mock is about an online Japanese book that was published which features photos of men's faces being squashed by women's thighs - more pics and instructions on how to see more are available if that sort of thing tickles your fancy.

The other post in the mock is about a popular American manga (Japanese comics) illustrator Fred_Gallagher who's work has become so popular outside of Japan that now the Japanese want to see his work.

Larger version of this mockup in my Flickr pool. Read the rest

Tokyo - Houses With Personality

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.

A side of Tokyo that folks outside of Japan may not usually get to see - a collection of architecture around Tokyo with some personality - more photos available in my previous Tokyo Housing article. Read the rest

Russian Fortress of Brick Icicles

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.

This abandoned Russian fortress is probably one of the creepiest places I have seen.

The reason for it to have such a strange look is because it was used later by Russian army to test the influence of Russian alternative to napalm inside of the brick houses.

Due to very high temperature of napalm the bricks started melting just like ice melts in the spring forming the icicles, but those icicles are of red brick.

See more pics of this lovely but eerie fortress at EnglishRussia. Via Karapia. Read the rest

Mugs from Poketo

I love these mugs from Poketo that Carla gave me for Valentine's Day. Read the rest

Kevin Kelly reviews The Deniers

Kevin Kelly reviewed The Deniers in his Cool Tools newsletter.

About 99% of the scientists involved in climate studies, paleontology, atmospheric chemistry, and planetary ecology agree on the presence of human-caused global warming. We call that a scientific consensus. But in every science there are a few heretics who don't agree on the consensus. That 1% dissent is what powers science forward. In fact, tolerating heretics is what makes science different from religion. The dissent is usually wrong, but every once in a while if you don't kill it off, it corrects the consensus.

What should we do with the 1% who dissent about global warming? By logic, we should embrace them, but currently "deniers" of global warming have become demonized, which is a sign that global warming has become slightly religious. Which is a shame because many global warming skeptics are not crackpots or paid shills, but first-class prestigious scientists with a minority view.

Throughout its history, science usually advances from the edges. Heretics should be cherished for forcing edges to the center. The most respected scientific global warming heretics have been rounded up in this very readable book, The Deniers. Significantly, many of the eminent scientists included here don't call themselves deniers at all. They say, "I believe global warming is evidenced in all these other fields; Except in the field that I am expert in, the evidence is totally bogus." One by one the field-specific heretics make their case. And a number of them are rather persuasive.

Read the rest

High rolling Fry's Electronics executive charged with fraud

The LA Times reported on the fraud charges filed against Omar Siddiqui, a top executive at Fry's Electronics. He was a big time gambler in Las Vegas, once losing $8 million in a single day at the tables. He's suspected of having squandered $167 million at casinos in the last ten years.

The story, written by Richard C. Paddock, has lots of juicy tidbits about Siddiqui's arrogance and William Bennett-like addiction to gambling.

• On Dec. 19, two dozen federal agents descended on Fry's corporate offices in San Jose and marched Siddiqui away in handcuffs. Siddiqui, the IRS contends, financed his gambling by taking at least $65.6 million in kickbacks. Charged with nine counts of money laundering and wire fraud, he faces 140 years in prison.

• Short and balding, Ausaf Umar Siddiqui -- who goes by Omar -- was an immaculate dresser fond of expensive suits. He owned a Ferrari, a Mercedes and a Palo Alto town house.

• At the Venetian, a casino executive said Siddiqui often stayed in a lavish Chairman Suite. The 7,000-square-foot apartment has a fountain by the front door, expensive art on the walls, four bedrooms, huge walk-in closets, a fitness room, a salon, 24-hour butler service and 26 television screens.

Near the suites, the Venetian provides a private gambling lounge for high rollers. Guests are served wine worth as much as $25,000 a bottle. Siddiqui preferred to gamble in the Salon, a semi-private area on the main floor.

High rolling Fry's Electronics executive charged with fraud Read the rest

TED Talk -- Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

I think of Barry Schwartz seems as the anti-Ben Stein. They look somewhat similar, but Schwartz is smart and insightful while Stein is not. Here's Schwartz's fascinating presentation at TED2009 about his research into wisdom.

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise Read the rest

How to Skank video from 1964

Here's a fun skanking lesson from 1964. It's at the legendary Sombrero Club in Jamaica. On stage are Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. Read the rest

Mark Dery on JG Ballard's memoir

One of my all-time favorite writers, JG Ballard, recently published his memoir, titled Miracles Of Life. Ballard is the author of such fantastic fiction as Crash, Concrete Island, Cocaine Nights, and Millennium People. A year ago, he publicly revealed that he has advanced prostate cancer. The memoir may not be his final book though. According to a post by Mark Dery at Shovelware, rumor has it that Ballard's agent is shopping a nonfiction work, "Conversations with My Physician: The Meaning, if any, of Life." Dery's post is tied to his LA Weekly review of Miracles Of Life. From the review (photo by Paul Murphy/Catfunt):

In Miracles, Ballard plays analyst to an engagingly garrulous and profoundly self-aware patient named James Ballard. It is a role he would have played in real life if the typewriter had not beckoned. Having returned to England with his mother and sister after the war (his father stayed behind in Shanghai), Ballard encountered Freud and, in books on abnormal psychology, Freud’s unruly grandchildren the Surrealists. Both landed in the drawing room of his middle-class English mind like “a stick of bombs,” he recalls. “I felt, and still do, that psychoanalysis and surrealism were a key to the truth about existence and the human personality, and also a key to myself.” In 1949, he began his studies at King’s College, Cambridge, with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist, but after two years, realizing that he was more interested in writing than psychiatry, he dropped out.

Still, shrinks abound in Ballard’s work, many of them poker-faced mouthpieces for the author’s ironic polemics: Dr.

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