Understanding NSA boss James Clapper's France-spying "denial"

NSA boss James Clapper has officially responded to the allegations that the agency intercepted 70,000,000 French phone calls with a narrowly worded, misleading denial. Tim Cushing at Techdirt does us the kremlinological service of finely parsing the NSA word-game and showing us what Clapper doesn't deny: Read the rest

Explaining why dragnet surveillance is terrible, and why you should rally against it

A spectacular PSA from the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls on Americans to join in a rally against mass surveillance on Oct 26, featuring everyone from Phil Donahue and John Cusak to Molly Crabapple and David Segal, as well as Congressmen like John Conyers, prominent whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg, Mark Klein, Thomas Drake, and a many others, making the case for limiting government surveillance. It's a spectacular video, and I'd take it as a personal favor if you'd tell your friends about it and show it around.

A Rally Against Mass Surveillance Read the rest

NSA: National Insecurity

Tom sez, "This clip takes aim at the NSA and their spying, snooping ways - it's made by somegreybloke, and features Jeremiah McDonald (who clocked up 11 million views on YouTube with conversation with my six year old self) & Max Koch, another US based comedian, cartoon maker and funnyman."

This is pretty good, but moves into "inspired" territory around 2:01.

NSA: National Insecurity / somegreybloke | MASHED (Thanks, Tom!) Read the rest

How NSA-proof is your VPN?

In an excellent Torrentfreak feature, representatives from several prominent privacy-oriented VPN provider explain whether, and to what extent, their services are safe from NSA spying. They cover the state of crypto, the structure of their companies, and the jurisdictional and legal questions they've resolved since the news broke that Lavabit shut down because it was ordered to redesign its service to make snooping possible. Read the rest

New Disruptors 46: 99% Indivisible with Roman Mars

Roman Mars is a public-radio producer. But the definition of what public radio is has become malleable, especially with his show, 99% Invisible, which has enormously more listeners for its podcast version than the broadcast flavor. Read the rest

Zippomobile!

This Zippomobile was created by Joe Griffin of Custom Upholstery in Memphis. He was commissioned by Zippo to reproduce the original 1947 Zippomobile, which toured all 48 states to promote the lighter in the post-war era. There were no plans from the original Zippomobile, built from a Chrysler New Yorkers Saratoga, so Griffin had to wing it, working with a second Saratoga and photos of the original. Read the rest

Introducing Bani Garu, a new webcomic by Lea Hernandez

Welcome Lea Hernandez, whose new webcomic, Bani Garu, begins today here at Boing Boing. It's the story of her time in Japan...

In 1989, I was an Ascended Anime Fangirl: I was picked to be the vice-president of General Products USA, the American merchandising arm of the notorious Japanese animation studio Gainax, best known for the sci-fi anime Evangelion.

I was working with the people who'd made an astounding amateur video set to ELO's "Twilight" and less than five years later were pro and making a chain of cult hits. Ascended fanboys. My people.

My people who took me on a year-long trip down a rabbit hole of reality.

Bani Garu: Problems from the start Read the rest

Bani Garu: Problems from the start

Bani Garu is Lea Hernandez's story of becoming the U.S. merchandising vice-president of notorious Japanese animation studio Gainax, "a year-long trip down a rabbit hole of reality." Start with page 1.

Gallup poll: 58% of Americans support legal weed

The illegality of marijuana has enriched, empowered, and corrupted prison systems, police departments, local and national governments, militaries, liquor manufacturers, and intelligence agencies (not to mention criminal organizations). It has also branded hundreds of thousands of people (mostly minorities) as criminals, ruining their lives and the lives of their families. Despite a century-long propaganda campaign defending the destructive war on drugs, a recent Gallup poll shows that 58% of Americans favor legalizing it.

Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans' tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California's second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.

The Obama administration has also been flexible on the matter. Despite maintaining the government's firm opposition to legalizing marijuana under federal law, in late August Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the Justice Department would not challenge the legality of Colorado's and Washington's successful referendums, provided that those states maintain strict rules regarding the drug's sale and distribution.

Read the rest

As seen on Miami Vice

What do Ben Stiller, Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi, Julia Roberts, Benicio del Toro, Viggo Mortensen, and Michael Richards have in common? As young, mostly-unknown actors they all appeared on Miami Vice, my favorite TV cop show (except for Barney Miller). Yes, that's Ben Stiller in the above clip. "27 Actors Who Got Their Starts on Miami Vice" (Mental Floss, via Next Draft) Read the rest

McDonald's advises hungry, sick employees to get welfare benefits

In this video from Low Pay is Not OK, we hear some of a recorded conversation between a ten-year McDonald's employee and the company's "McResources" helpline for employees in financial trouble. Nancy, the employee, explains that she can't make ends meet for her family on her McDonald's pay, and the company representative counsels her to enroll in federally funded welfare programs (low-paid fast-food employees account for $7B in welfare payments) to help her eat and get medical care. Read the rest

"X-Ray Film": avant-garde 1968 short with avant-jazz soundtrack

"X-Ray Film" (c.1968) by Chris Munger. According to the Creative Film Society 1972 catalog, it's a UCLA student film that "makes a cynical comment on our romantic naiveties of our bodies, particularly in terms of lovemaking." (via I Hate This Film) Read the rest

Beans stolen

Thieves in Cookhill, Worcestershire, sliced through the side of a truck and made off with more than 6,000 tins of beans and sausages. The beans were Heinz brand. "Police are appealing for information, especially about anyone trying to sell large quantities of Heinz baked beans in suspicious circumstances." Read the rest

RIP Lou Scheimer (Fat Albert, Star Trek: The Animated Series, etc.)

Saturday morning cartoon pioneer Lou Scheimer, whose Filmation company created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Groovie Goolies, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and many other classics of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, has died. He was 84. Above, Scheimer with some of his Filmation characters in an illustration from the cover of his book, "Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation." From the New York Times:

Filmation was considered noteworthy on two counts: it kept production in the United States in an age of increasing outsourcing (then as now, the labor-intensive work of animating many American cartoons was done in Asia) and it sought to produce cartoons with a message of social tolerance.

Read the rest

Gweek 117: The Whole Earth Catalog for this century

Gweek is sponsored by Fracture. They print your digital photos, directly on glass. Upload your own picture at FractureMe.com, use coupon code GWEEK at checkout, and get 15% off.

In this episode of Gweek, I interviewed Kevin Kelly about his upcoming Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities an oversized book that reviews over 1,500 different tools, explaining why each one is great, and what its benefits are (Kevin is my partner at the website Cool Tools). Stewart Brand, the creator of The Whole Earth Catalog, calls it "The real deal." Read Kevin's essay about the Cool Tools book here.

I also interviewed Joshua Glenn about his Best Ever Adventure series of posts at HiLobrow. He says, "This month, I’ve been making two kinds of lists of my favorite adventures: the 21 best adventure novels of each decade (of the 20th century), and adventure novels and movies that best typify the genre’s 20 key themes and memes (e.g., treasure hunt, hunted man, conspiracy theory, DIY, frontier epic)." Josh is also working with Singularity & Co., the Brooklyn science fiction bookstore that runs the book club Save the Sci-Fi. They are preparing to launch a second book club dedicated to rescuing out-of-print adventure stories from copyright limbo. "The new book club will be called Save the Adventure," says Josh, "I’ll be the club’s editor! With 23 days to go on our Kickstarter campaign, we’ve raised $4,300 of the $12,000 we need to cover costs."

Links to other things we talked about: APE (Guy Kawasaki best guide to self publishing), 99Designs (crowdsourced professional design), CreateSpace (on-demand publishing), Martian Dice (customized dice game), and much more! Read the rest

Mark Dery on Bobby Darin

Over at Thought Catalog, Mark Dery ponders the darker side of Darin's "Beautiful Things." Touchpoints in the riff include Cupid and Psyche, Roland Barthes’s concept of the “punctum,” and Yeats. From Dery's essay:

Isn’t there something unsettling, a sly wink of Dean Martin existentialism, in Bobby Darin’s finger-poppin’ Vegas-hipster version of “Beautiful Things” (from the 1967 movie musical Doctor Dolittle)? A hint of nonchalant menace to that walking bassline as it slinks down a minor scale in the song’s opening bars? Subliminal whispers of memento mori amid the brassy blare of Roger Kellaway’s orchestral setting, which nails that sweet spot between suave and schmaltzy? Intimations of mortality between the lines of Leslie Bricusse’s lyrics about “beautiful days of sun-kissed showers” and “beautiful nights of moon-kissed hours,” right there in Darin’s breezy delivery of the lines, “Our lives tick by like pendulum swings/ Delicate things, butterfly wings?”

"Why The Nightingale Sings: On Bobby Darin’s 'Beautiful Things'" Read the rest

Tibet Almond Stick - Refresh old strings on guitars

Here’s a great “off label” use of an old product for a completely different application that a guitar player turned me on to years ago. The Zenith Tibet Almond Stick is an oil- and cleaner-impregnated plug that comes as a tightly rolled up cloth in a metal can. Its original use is to “efface 1,000 scratches from pianos—radios—furniture—etc. It’s amazing!” I use it to refresh old strings on guitars, banjo and mandolins. Just swipe the stick along the strings, then pinch each string with a rag and slide along its length. All the nasty bits of rust, dirt, and finger cheese come right off. It’s especially good at helping to remove the crud that get trapped in the coils of wound strings and restores that brilliant “new string” sound. I also like the art deco inspired litho steel tube it comes in.

By the way, it will last forever: my 40 year old stick is still going strong! -- Bob Knetzger

Tibet Almond Stick: $6 Read the rest

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