Cossacks horsewhip Pussy Riot at Sochi

Members of Pussy Riot, including the recently freed women Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were brutally whipped, sprayed and beaten by cossacks representing Russian authorities at the Sochi Olympic Games. The women call the Olympics a political event, and report that they have been harrassed and detained continuously since arriving in Sochi to protest them.

Some other members of Pussy Riot have repudiated Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina and do not consider them to be representatives of Pussy Riot any longer. Read the rest

To do in LA: Nathan Ota at Giant Robot (Art)

Eric Nakamura of Giant Robot says, "This Saturday, at Giant Robot 2 we are proud to have Nathan Ota in the house. He's quite an incredible artist in high demand. His paintings are amazing and detailed. He's as nice and humble as can be. He'll also be showing some figures, a sneaker, book, print and more! Do take a look at his works. Here's the event page on Facebook."

Show runs through March 12, 2014. A few more images below, and lots more here. Read the rest

Whatsapp abused the DMCA to censor related projects from Github

Prior to Whatsapp's $19B acquisition by Facebook, the company sent a large number of spurious takedowns against projects on Github. In a DMCA notice served by Whatsapp's General Counsel to Github, a number of projects are targeted for removal on the basis that they are "content that infringes on WhatsApp Inc.'s copyrights and trademarks."

This is grossly improper. DMCA takedown notices never apply to alleged trademark violations (it's called the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" and not the "Digital Millennium Trademark Act"). Using DMCA notices to pursue trademark infringements isn't protecting your interests -- it's using barratry-like tactics to scare and bully third parties into participating in illegitimate censorship.

The letter goes on to demand takedown of these Github projects on the basis that they constitute "unauthorized use of WhatsApp APIs, software, and/or services" -- again, this is not a copyright issue, and it is improper to ask Github to police the code its hosts on this basis. It is certainly not the sort of activity that the DMCA's takedown procedure exists to police.

So what about copyright infringement? In the related Hacker News thread, a number of the projects' authors weigh in on the censorship, making persuasive cases that they software did not infringe on any of Whatsapp's copyrights -- rather, these were tools that made use of the Whatsapp API, were proof-of-concept security tools for Whatsapp, or, in one case, merely contained the string "whatsapp" in its sourcecode.

There may well have been some legitimately infringing material on Github, but it's clear that Whatsapp's General Counsel did not actually limit her or his request to this material. Read the rest

Fixed: an app to help you fight parking tickets

Fixed is a web app designed to beat parking tickets. Take a photo of the ticket, choose your reason to contest the ticket, and click the button. Fixed will charge you 25% of the ticket price if they get it dismissed. I tried to sign up, but the website said they are overloaded with new customers.

"We do not have concerns if people want to use a third-party service, but there is no secret to overturning a citation if it has been issued erroneously. If someone feels that their citation was written in error, they might want to consider protesting themselves, for free," said Paul Rose, a spokesperson for San Francisco's transportation agency.

San Francisco issues about 1.5 million parking tickets every year, typically for $45 to $115 each (there are also some significantly pricier violations, such as having an expired plate or abandoning a car on a highway). The fines add up to about $95 million a year, according to Hegarty.

Of those 1.5 million citations, only five percent are actually contested. And of that small amount, only 30% are actually overturned, according to Rose. There are three rounds of appeals -- two by mail and a court hearing.

New app helps you fight parking tickets (Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest

The pop-up books of Vojtech Kubašta

My friend Bob Knetzger recently went to an exhibit of pop-up books from Prague at The Grolier Club. He says:

This show of about a hundred great pieces focuses on the work of Vojtech Kubašta. He created really cool pop up books, cards and displays. I think his versatile illustration styles and background as an architect make his work really special: both charming and clever!

Pop-Ups from Prague Read the rest

Kurt Vonnegut's Shapes of Stories in infographic form

A nice infographic by Maya Eilam. She's going to offer this as an 11 x 17 print! (Via This isn't Happiness) Read the rest

1939 Action comics cover art sells for $286,800

The original art from Action Comics number 15 sold for the price of a house at auction this week.It's interesting that the earlier covers of Action Comics either do not exist, or are stashed away somewhere and forgotten.

The earliest Superman cover art known to exist – Fred Guardineer’s action-packed tableau from 1939 of the Man of Steel from Action Comics #15 – brought $286,800 at Heritage Auctions on Feb. 22 in New York.

“Guardineer’s cover is the earliest Superman cover art in existence,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage, “and an absolute treasure of comics history. A price like this shows just how much collectors covet a rarity like this.”

The Action #15 cover depicts Superman in full hero mode, saving a distressed U.S. Submarine just a few feet from a presumably bad end in the depths of the ocean, without seemingly an ounce of strain.

It was purchased by Richard Evans, of Houston, TX, who owns Bedrock City Comics Company. He has said that he plans to display the cover in his shop.

“I’m just a big fan,” he said.

Fred Guardineer Action Comics #15 Superman Cover Original Art Read the rest

Austin cops violently crack down on scourge of anonymous jaywalking

Jonl sez, "Streets near the University of Texas at Austin today are safer, thanks to quick and effective action by the local police, who caught and arrested a jogger, observed wearing a pony tail, black shorts, and a headset in the area. She was apparently menacing traffic by crossing the street in a manner construed as 'jaywalking,' however her apparent arrest was due to her failure to provide identification: i.e., she was guilty not just of jaywalking, but of anonymous jaywalking."

Woman arrested on 24th street after crossing intersection

(Thanks, Jonl!) Read the rest

Video from a dystopian future: how location data can be abused

The ACLU has produced a video based on its Meet Jack. Or, What The Government Could Do With All That Location Data slide presentation from 2013. It's a chilling and sometimes funny look at the way that location data can be used to compromise you in ways large and small. As Josh from the ACLU notes, "It's especially interesting after the news yesterday about the DHS plan for a national license plate location history database (which got scrapped after it was exposed)."

Meet Jack. Or, What The Government Could Do With That Location Data

(Thanks, Josh!) Read the rest

Venezuela: 15 Years of Solitude

"The democratic Venezuela that so often received exiles from neighboring countries and gave asylum to political refugees fleeing military governments is once again alone." Maruja Tarre, a Venezuelan journalist, reflects on the violent situation in her home country. Previously: "Snowden and Venezuela: My bizarre experience in the surveillance state," an essay on Boing Boing by her daughter Isabel Lara, about the experience of being spied upon in Venezuela.

Venezuela: 'After being promised paradise we are living in a nightmare.'

A first-person account of the current chaos in Venezuela from Guido Núñez-Mujica, a Boing Boing reader and biotech entrepreneur who calls the South American country his homeland.

HOWTO make a large animated Haunted Mansion crystal ball

Barry Belcher describes a simple way to make a Haunted Mansion Madame Leota-style video crystal ball, using an old flat panel display, a novelty brandy snifter, and a piece of reflective plastic. It's a Pepper's Ghost effect, and it's very effective -- a great companion to this mobile-phone sized baby version.

"Magic Crystal Ball" Talking Hologram of Madame Leota Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Family-style transparent torso tees; Renting an apartment in Japan

One year ago today

X-ray tees reveal internal family workings: Etsy's BabyTalkDesigns sells these x-ray t-shirts showing the contents of various family members' tummies.

Five years ago today

Japanese Apartments: The upfront costs of renting an apartment is honestly not amusing at all. First up there exists something called "gratuity fee" or Reikin. Since the dark ages, citizens have been paying the landlord a gratuity fee for letting them live in the landlords apartment. Read the rest

Tell Me Something I Don't Know 024: Bill Boichel, owner of Copacetic Comics

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is Boing Boing's podcast featuring artists, writers, filmmakers, and other creative people discussing their work, ideas, and the practical side of how they do what they do.

Bill Boichel is the owner and proprietor of Copacetic Comics, one of the greatest comic book stores ever. They are located in Pittsburgh, PA, and specialize in independent comics, music, film and literature. Bill has worked in comics retail for over 35 years, and has seen comic books go from disposable entertainment found on newsstands to an art form that is now accepted in galleries, museums and universities.

In this episode, Bill discusses the significance of Carl Barks and his impact on the American comics community. We talk about Barks' challenges with creator's rights, and similar struggles faced by artists like Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, and Jack Kirby. Bill ponders today's comics landscape and history. We survey Copacetic Comics' extensive inventory of small press comics and find out how Bill manages to keep up with such a dynamic and diverse art form. You can experience an online version of his store at copaceticcomics.com, where Boichel posts extensive reviews and promotes the books he carries. But the best way to experience it, and it's worth the trip wherever you are, is to find your way to Pittsburgh and visit in person.

Also: We've got a T-shirt bearing TMSIDK's smart aleck logo! Challenge people with your shirt to tell you something you don't know. Everyone loves a know-it-all.

This episode of TMSIDK is sponsored by Warby Parker. Read the rest

A Steve Jobs postage stamp is coming in 2015

The Washington Post got their hands on a leaked copy of the USPS stamp plans for the next few years. Steve Jobs is getting his own stamp in 2015.

He's in good company: Elvis Presley, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Harvey Milk, Johnny Carson, and Charlie Brown's Peanuts gang will be honored, too.

Here's the full list. Read the rest

Canadian court rules on copyright trolls: letters can go ahead, under strict supervision

Michael Geist writes, "The Canadian federal court has released its much anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. The case attracted significant attention for several reasons: it is the first major "copyright troll" case in Canada involving Internet downloading (the recording industry previously tried unsuccessfully to sue 29 alleged file sharers), the government sought to discourage these file sharing lawsuits against individuals by creating a $5,000 liability cap for non-commercial infringement, TekSavvy ensured that affected subscribers were made aware of the case and CIPPIC intervened to ensure the privacy issues were considered by the court. Copies of all the case documents can be found here." Read the rest

Voynich Manuscript partially decoded, text is not a hoax, scholar finds

The 600-year-old, strangely-illustrated Voynich Manuscript (which resides at Yale University) has been called the most mysterious manuscript in the world. Not a single word of the secret language has been decoded, at least not until now. Stephen Bax of the University of Bedfordshire says he has decoded ten words from the Voynich Manuscript. This seems to indicate that the document is not a hoax filled with nonsense words, as some scholars have concluded.

Stephen Bax, who teaches at the University of Bedfordshire, has produced a paper and a video where he details his theories on the text and provides translations of ten words from the manuscript, which are proper names of various plants that are depicted in the manuscript.

Professor Bax explains, “I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script.

I have not yet watch Bax's 47-minute video, above.

Voynich Manuscript partially decoded, text is not a hoax, scholar finds (Thanks, Gareth and Syd!) Read the rest

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