Kickstopper: paying Hollywood studios to cease dumb franchise production

The Dork Tower webcomic has a modest proposal: a crowdfunding site called "Kickstopper" that raises funds to persuade Hollywood studios to halt production on tired sequels, franchises, and adaptations.

Dork Tower Thursday

(via The Mary Sue) Read the rest

Hot for Teacher: Criminalizing Sex Between Legal Adults?! Nanny of the Month November 2011

[Video Link] Ted Balaker says:

The Nanny of the Month Award goes to the Wolverine State pol whose so-called "Hot for Teacher" bill could end up criminalizing sex between consenting adults of legal age.

The ban on teacher-student sex (even if both are older than 18 and consenting) hasn't received much media attention thus far. Supporters say teachers have authority over their students, and that should make age beside the point. But that raises other questions about "authority" (boss-employee, etc), not to mention the massive overkill involved (a 30-year-old adult education teacher could potentially receive 15 years in prison for having sex with a 30-year-old student).

And if and when these relationships are deemed inappropriate why is it necessary to criminalize them? Can't schools set their own rules and reprimand employees without throwing them in prison?

This month's nannies also include drug warriors who are hyping fears about "digital" drugs (i.e. not actual physical substances) and fat warriors who are using a talking plate (introducing Mandometer!) to pester chubby folks into eat properly.

Presenting's Nanny of the Month for November 2011: Michigan State Sentator Roger Kahn! Read the rest

Today in corporate denials: Carrier IQ edition

Spot the difference. Read the rest

A 16-year-old girl challenges Michele Bachman on same-sex marriage

[Video Link] A brave girl asks Michele Bachman why same-sex couples can't get married.

During a town hall, 16-year-old Jane Schmidt, the head of her school's Gay-Straight Alliance, asked the famously anti-gay congresswoman how she would support the LGBT community. After Bachmann said that "all Americans have the same civil rights," Schmidt pressed her, even as virtually all the adults in the room broke out in applause in response to Bachmann's reply.

"Then why can't gay people get married?" Schmidt asked. They can, Bachmann assured her, as long as they marry a person of the opposite sex. A lengthy exchange ensued, wherein Schmidt kept her cool while calling out Bachmann's bullshit answers.

GOOD: People Are Awesome: This Young Activist Took Michele Bachmann to Task on Gay Marriage Read the rest

Ken Russell's documentary photos of London teens

Before the recently deceased Ken Russell made such phenomenal films as Women in Love, The Who's Tommy, and Altered States, he was a documentary photographer. In 1955, when he was still in art school, Russell shot a series of incredible photos of London's Teddy Girls, an East End teenage subculture. Here's a PDF of a fascinating article about that project from Amateur Photographer magazine a few years ago back. "The director's cut" (via @coseyfannitutti) Read the rest

Christmassy leather decorative balls

Ukrainian steampunk leatherworker Bob Basset's taken a departure from his usual masks to produce these Christmas-themed "Mongol" decorative balls.

Xmas ball “Mongol” Read the rest

Unusual anti-tagging sign

Arbroath says: "Anyone with a suspected marker pen in their trousers is now being closely monitored." Read the rest

Sheriff locked in jail named after him

Many years ago, I went to a debate in Boulder, Colorado between a drug law reformer and a law enforcement officer on the subject of ending drug prohibition. I'm pretty sure the anti-drug officer was former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan. Sullivan is a national “Sheriff of the Year.” Today he is being held in a cell at the “Patrick J Sullivan, Jr. Detention Facility,” a jail named after him. Investigators say that Sullivan “arranged to meet an adult male acquaintance and agreed to provide the (man) with methamphetamine in exchange for a sexual encounter."

Sheriff locked in jail named after him Read the rest

State appeals dismissal in Michael Allison case, 75 years in prison for recording the police

[Video Link] The felony eavesdropping case against Michael Allison (who was arrested for videotaping the police in public) was thrown out by a judge. However the state of Illinois is appealing the dismissal to the supreme court to overturn the ruling. What the hell is wrong with the Illinois government? (Via Cynical-C) Read the rest

Massive giant weta insect as big as your hand

This is a giant weta, an insect found on New Zealand's Little Barrier Island. But this isn't just any giant weta. It's reportedly the largest ever found, weighing in at 71 grams.

"She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away," (said Mark Moffet, a former US park ranger who found it in a tree.)

"She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion.

"After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her."

"World's biggest insect is so huge it eats carrots"


Landcare Research entomologist Dr Thomas Buckley says, based on Moffett's photos, the weta's size looks about average for its species.

"The species itself is the heaviest in the world but whether that individual is the heaviest you couldn't really say.

"From the picture it's a female, but it just looks like an average sized one of that species."

Read the rest

Saturday in San Francisco: Ralph Bakshi at Tikva Records (free!)

Last night was the opening party for the Idelsohn Society's Tikva Records, a pop-up Jewish record store and community space in San Francisco's Bernal Heights. The place is fantastic but it's the upcoming events there that will make it a magical month. (Boing Boing is honored to be the media sponsor.) Tomorrow evening (Saturday, 12/3), animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi will be there to screen excerpts from Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, American Pop, and other groundbreaking pioneers from his long career. (Above toon from Bakshi's Mighty Heroes series, 1966). All the Tikva Records events are free (donations suggested) and tickets are almost gone for Bakshi's presentation, so be sure to reserve yours at the Eventbrite page. Over at the Idelsohn Society site, BB pal Marc Weidenbaum writes:

Bakshi achieved many of his most lauded works with the process of “rotoscoping,” in which live-action footage provides a template for illustrations. The technique informed such Bakshi films as Fire & Ice (a collaboration with Frank Frazetta) and The Lord of the Rings. His career can be traced back to production studios of the mid-1950s, when he began as a “cell polisher” for Terrytoons and was soon animating such titles as Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle.

American Pop deserves particular attention in the context of the December 2011 Tikva Records pop-up store in San Francisco. The film is a masterpiece of ecstatic conflation. It ties together the disparate threads of American popular song, everything from pre-WWI emigre culture to ragtime to the Brill Building to the rise of rock’n’roll.

Read the rest

Free Buddha Machine iPad app

The Buddha Machine is a fantastically-fun little gadget that plays loops of experimental music. It's very low-fi, simple, inexpensive ($23!), and still wonderfully entrancing. Of course, there's also a Buddha Machine iPad app and I'm told that for the next 5 days, it's free!

Buddha Machine - iPad edition

Buddha Machine (Forced Exposure)

Of course, my favorite of the Buddha Machines is the limited edition Gristleism model, filled with loops composed by Throbbing Gristle.


Buddha Machine 2: revenge of the ambient music transistor radio ... If You Meet the Buddha Machine on the Road, Hack It - Boing Boing GRISTLEISM: Throbbing Gristle's unusual new "box set" - Boing Boing Buddha Machine: spiritual, generative transistor radio - Boing Boing Musician releases songs in a $23 electronic gizmo - Boing Boing Read the rest

Tired and emotional RIM executives force plane to land

In the New York Times, Ian Austen and Susanne Craig report that two executives of RIM were "intoxicated" and unruly on a Toronto-to-Beijing flight, forcing a stop-off in Vancouver to get rid of them. Read the rest

Full-disk encryption works

A paper (paywalled) in the journal Digital Investigation finds that hard-drive full disk encryption works. Police and other investigators are increasingly unable to access the data on seized equipment due to the efficacy of diskwide scrambling. This is a good, research-backed contribution to the debate on whether encrypting your hard-drive is worth the trouble. If the police can't access data on accused criminals' computers, then it seems likely that criminals who steal your laptop (or snoops in totalitarian states who seize dissidents' computers) won't be able to either.

The increasing use of full disk encryption (FDE) can significantly hamper digital investigations, potentially preventing access to all digital evidence in a case. The practice of shutting down an evidential computer is not an acceptable technique when dealing with FDE or even volume encryption because it may result in all data on the device being rendered inaccessible for forensic examination. To address this challenge, there is a pressing need for more effective on-scene capabilities to detect and preserve encryption prior to pulling the plug. In addition, to give digital investigators the best chance of obtaining decrypted data in the field, prosecutors need to prepare search warrants with FDE in mind. This paper describes how FDE has hampered past investigations, and how circumventing FDE has benefited certain cases. This paper goes on to provide guidance for gathering items at the crime scene that may be useful for accessing encrypted data, and for performing on-scene forensic acquisitions of live computer systems. These measures increase the chances of acquiring digital evidence in an unencrypted state or capturing an encryption key or passphrase.

Read the rest

Glitch un-launches

Glitch is a whimsical, sweet multiplayer browser-game launched two months ago by Tiny Speck, and it is now un-launching. Having learned a bunch of stuff from both the people who love the game and the people who left it, they've decided that they can't fix things through a series of iterative steps, but rather they must take it down, go back to beta, and make wholesale changes. They're offering 100% refunds to anyone who wants it, and they've got more investment capital in the business to help them along.

Tiny Speck has already made a reputation for being willing to buck received wisdom, and this is the kind of odd and oddly sensible step that I've come to expect from them.

But at the same time, there are two obvious and huge improvements we need to make: the first is to make the early game reveal itself more easily to new players so they can get into the fun faster. The second and larger task is to give those players who have gotten over that initial hump and fallen in love with the game — spending dozens or even hundreds of hours playing — the creative tools that they need to change the world in more tangible ways: building whole new locations themselves, designing new buildings, setting up resource flows and forming flexible organizations to create bigger things together.

These challenges are surmountable — we’re hard at work surmounting them even now. But we always thought we could evolve our way there and the experience of launching taught us that we can’t.

Read the rest

Guide: which US restaurants pay sick leave, living wages? Which have institutionalized racism?

"Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of American Restaurants" is a 30-page guide to working conditions in popular American restaurants, published by Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a worker-rights advocacy group. It tells you whether the staff at the restaurant you're thinking of eating at gives its staff sick-leave, whether they are paid beyond the $2.13 minimum wage for tipped workers, and whether the restaurant has a policy of limiting women, immigrants and people of color to lower-paid "back of the house" jobs.

Working with students from Tulane University and the University of Cali- fornia at Los Angeles, we asked restaurants about their practices with regard to:

a) wages for tipped and non-tipped workers;

b) paid sick leave and other benefits; and

c) opportunities for workers to move up the ladder.

We asked this information from all of our ‘high road’ restaurant partners in our eight current affiliate cities and from the top 150 highest revenue- grossing restaurants in America. Using the Restaurants & Institutions Top 400 list1, we identified the top 50 highest revenue-grossing restaurants in each of the industry’s three segments.

QUICK SERVE: fast food, delis, and any establishment without waiter service

CASUAL: full service restaurants with casual service

FINE DINING: higher-priced full-service restaurants2 Some restaurants did not provide us with all requested information. If any of these restaurants–or any other in America–can provide us with this information, we would be happy to update the Guide.

Consumer Guide on the Working Conditions of American Restaurants (PDF)

(via The Pump Handle) Read the rest

A hole in the ground: Storing carbon dioxide thousands of feet below Illinois

One blazing hot afternoon in August of 2010, I stood on a mountain top in Alabama, staring at a styrofoam beer cooler upended over the top of a metal pole. Alongside me were a couple dozen sweaty engineers and geologists. That beer cooler was one of the few visible signs of the research project happening far below our feet.

Over the course of two months, scientists from the University of Alabama had injected 278 tons of carbon dioxide into the Earth. The goal was to keep it there forever, locked in geologic formations. The beer cooler was a key part of that plan. Beneath it sat the delicate electronic components of the monitoring system the scientists were using to make sure none of the captured carbon dioxide found its way out of the mountain. Beer coolers, it turns out, make great low-cost heat protection.

Carbon capture and storage—the process of removing carbon dioxide from factory and power plant emissions and trapping it where it can't reach the atmosphere—is an interesting idea. It has the potential to help us make our current energy systems cleaner as we work on building more sustainable systems for the future. With that in mind, the Department of Energy has seven regional research teams testing carbon capture and storage at sites around the United States.

So far, nobody in the United States has put this full process to the test at the scale that would be necessary in the real world. But, in the past couple of weeks, scientists at the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium began pumping carbon dioxide at a new site, one that is going to give us our best picture yet of what full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) will be like. Read the rest

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