• Police confiscate 345,000 used condoms destined for resale

    Police in Vietnam broke up a criminal ring that collected used condoms, rinsed them, and resold them, reports Reuters.

    The owner of the warehouse said they had received a "monthly input of used condoms from an unknown person," state newspaper Tuoi Tre reported. A woman detained during the bust told police that the used prophylactics were first boiled in water then dried and reshaped on a wooden phallus before being repackaged and resold.

  • An ex-psychiatrist explains how to tame a troll

    When a troll replies to one of my tweets my first inclination is to mute or block them. But Dr. Karin Tamerius, the founder of Smart Politics, blocks trolls as a last resort. In this Medium post, she describes her four-step process for "taming trolls." It involves humanizing, setting boundaries, not feeding trolls, and, if necessary, blocking.

    Some Trump trolls are just ordinary folks who are triggered and behaving badly in the moment. Many have forgotten they're talking with real humans. Others think trolling is just how people behave on the internet. And some are lost souls genuinely looking to connect — people who want to make friends, but don't know how.

    After several years of dealing with trolls on social media, I've discovered most are motivated by the same desire that drives us all: the genuine need to connect and belong. Satisfy that and they'll miraculously transform into decent people who just want to talk politics.

    Through trial and error, I've gradually developed a system for managing obnoxious behavior that charms all but the worst of the worst. With this method, I've converted erstwhile trolls to friends; extremists to moderates; and adversaries to allies. Best of all, I've made trolling rare in my politically-diverse and highly public social media communities.

  • Researchers make a $1 hearing aid

    The Bhamla Lab at Georgia Tech announced that it developed a hearing aid costing less than a dollar. The components are enclosed in a 3D printed case that's worn around the neck with a lanyard.

    About the image:

    a. The LoCHAid is shown in its top view, with its 3D printed polyamide (Nylon 12) case tilted. The side view of the audio jack opening and holes for attaching material for neck wear are shown below. The LoCHAid in its case has a size of 6.70 mm by 5.70 mm. The audio jack can incorporate any standard 8 mm sound transducer. b. Displays various types of batteries such as AA, rechargeable AAA, Lithium Ion flat pack, as well as lithium ion coin cell that can be used to power the device. The device has a power requirement that is between 3-5.5 V. The amount of batteries denote the the number required to power the device. c. The required parts to assemble the device are shown here with group labels; specific details are given in Table 1d. View of the custom printed circuit board (PCB) without any components. e. View of the PCB with components soldered on. f. View of the body-worn device by an anonymous 65 year old male as part of the intended audience of the device.

  • Misstopia — Simon Stephenson's word for a world where everything has missed its intended mark due to human error

    Simon Stephenson, author of the new novel, Set My Heart To Five, wrote the following exclusive essay for Boing Boing. — MF

    Welcome To The Misstopia

    When I moved to Los Angeles in 2013, there were no mosquitoes here. Maybe it was not a wonder on the scale of the Pacific Ocean as seen from Malibu's Point Dume, or even just the outlandishly-sized produce in my local grocery store, but it was one more way in which the Golden State lived up to its name.

    One recent evening – before the smoke from the fires rendered even venturing outside dangerous – I lit my citronella candles, doused myself with DEET, and sat outside to enjoy a socially-distanced video conference with friends.  Even with these precautions, I found myself reaching down and slapping at the black-and-white striped mosquitoes that harangued my ankles.  They were aedes aegyptii the Special Forces of the mosquito world: capable of operating in daylight, able to carry advanced biological weapons such as West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever, and unafraid of conventional countermeasures.

    At some point in a discussion fragmented by the invasive mosquitoes and our pandemic-sickened internet connections, conversation turned to the fires that had already begun burning up the west coast.  Somebody asked about my recent novel, in which I had written about a 2054 in which some Californians:

    '…had all become so oblivious to fire that they now simply wore respirators as they went about their daily business'.

    How, my friend wanted to know, had I foreseen this eventuality that now seems inevitable? I did not know how to answer, because I had not foreseen it.  I had been joking.  It was supposed to be absurd.

    Yet here we are. When I began work on my book, I had consciously avoided writing a dystopia. Much as I enjoy reading them, I inevitably find their villains too efficient. Perhaps it is because I am British, but I have always subscribed to the view that things generally go wrong because of cock-up rather than conspiracy.  Even our most dastardly plotters, we Brits tend to believe, will over time prove as reassuringly incompetent as the rest of us.

    Maybe, in our darkening world, such an idea is a little too hopeful.  Nonetheless, I used this dysfunctional paradigm to create my 2054: humans have locked ourselves out of the internet by forgetting the names of our favorite teachers and first pets, the resulting 'Great Crash' has caused our airplanes to fall from the sky, and the resulting litigation means that air travel no longer exists.  On the global scale, North Korea and New Zealand have nuked each other into oblivion due to an avoidable misunderstanding, and Elon Musk has incinerated the moon in a prank gone wrong.  (I could have attributed that act to any space billionaire gone wild, but Elon Musk was the only one who launched a Tesla Roadster in to deep space during the weeks I was writing that section.) 

    But for all this geopolitical and technological upheaval, what preoccupies the humans of my imagined 2054?  Why, the same things that preoccupy many of us humans of 2020 as we negotiate our own global upheavals: the fortunes of our local sports teams, Hollywood movies, and the games of one-upmanship we seem increasingly hardwired to play with those around us.

    And yet if this 2054 – wherein the perma-fire means that some Californians must wear respirators to check out the latest hip brunch spot – is not a dystopia, then what is it?  Unable to find a term that fitted, I resorted to coining one of my own: a misstopia

    A misstopia is a world where everything has missed its intended mark due to human error.  A world where things have gone wrong due not to cunning conspiracy but to dumb cock-up.  A world where the road to hell had been paved not merely with good intentions, but the pitch-decks of start-ups that had all seemed like good ideas at the time.  A world where we humans have managed to spoil most things but still obliviously blunder on with our insane preoccupations, even as our androids begin to develop the empathy we increasingly seem to lack. 

    And, of course, here we already are.  Perhaps we do not have emotional androids yet, but as I sit here in Los Angeles, unable to meet friends indoors because of the pandemic or outdoors because of the smoke, I realize that we are already living in a misstopia.  Nature made the coronavirus pandemic, but we humans compounded it with our inability to wear our masks.  Likewise, we ignored the climate emergency for years and it has now set the entire West Coast on fire.  (If that sounds more like a straightforward dystopia, let us not forget to acknowledge the inimitable contribution of individual humans: these apocalyptic conditions may have been created by every one of us except Greta Thunberg, but one of the fires that has kept us Angelenos indoors was ignited by a gender reveal party that deployed pyrotechnics.)

    Down the street from where I write this, people are dining on sidewalk tables while their servers wear visors and masks against the virus and the smoke.  A jogger is running along that same street in a respirator; his route will soon take him through a freeway underpass that has become a tent city that grows exponentially even as the city has passed a law banning underpass tent cities.  If you are one of us luckier humans, that freeway can carry your air-conditioned vehicle out of the city to the cool breezes of the Pacific Ocean, but my app tells me that even the air out at Point Dume is unbreathable today. 

    And yet, even as our planet continues to overheat and our state burns, still we humans bumble on – cheering on our sports teams on television, eating at our socially-distanced restaurants, making our posts on social media, filling up our SUVs with liquefied dinosaur bones, developing our apps and writing our op-eds in the hope of selling more books. 

    Welcome to the misstopia.  You are going to love it here.  We all do.

    Simon Stephenson's recent novel Set My Heart To Five is published by Hanover Square Press.  Find him on twitter @TheSimonBot

  • I didn't know the Boing Boing BBS had a food topic. It's excellent

    Kent Barnes let me know about the Food topic he started on the Boing Boing BBS in March 2019. It has 1,738 posts! Lots of recipes and photos. It makes me think it would be fun to compile these and make a Happy Mutants Cookbook.

    Here's Mangochin's recipe for Simmered Pork Belly:

    Just made this yesterday and it is nearly impossible to screw up
    Simmered Pork Belly (Buta no Kakuni)

    1. 1.5 to 2 lbs of skinless pork belly (can substitute pork butt or boneless ribs)
    2. 2 inches of ginger, peeled cut into small pieces
    3. A bunch of scallions cut in large pieces

    For sauce

    1. 2 cups of water
    2. 1/3 cup soy sauce
    3. 1/2 cup of sake (or dry white wine)
    4. 1/4 cup of sugar

    Cut pork belly to thick chunks (about 2" thick), ginger and scallions in pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover meat.

    Cook for 30-40 minutes (the longer it goes, the more tender it gets)
    Take pork out of the pressure cooker, discard water, scallions and ginger
    In a pot place all the sauce ingredients. Simmer the pork in the sauce at medium heat until the sauce is nearly gone.

    It's great refrigerated.

  • The Spite License for software

    Voynix recently wrote something he calls The Spite License. They say it is, "in essence, a trapdoor — it allows potential licensees to use the software under the terms of the secondary license (as shown here, the standard MIT license) if and only if they do not read the license file itself."

    Permission is hereby granted to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated materials to make use of the software and associated materials according to the terms of the MIT License (see included file `LICENSE_MIT`) IF AND ONLY IF they have not read any portion of this file.
    Any person who has read any portion of this file may not make any use of the software and associated materials for any purpose whatsoever. Any permissions previously granted to any person to use this software and associated materials terminate and are revoked with immediate effect upon their reading of any portion of this file.

    Why did they create this? Voynix offers two reasons:

    • Because it's funny
    • Because you want randos on the Internet but not big companies with lawyers who make their engineers actually read licenses to use your software
  • Gallery of jazz album lettering

    Designer Reagan Ray isolated the lettering from various jazz album covers for a bunch of artists and made an online gallery of little cards. I love the variety and colors.

    But the most influential designer was probably Reid Miles, who created over 500 album covers for Blue Note Records. He pioneered the use of creatively-arranged type over monochromatic photography, which is a style that is still widely used in graphic design today.

    Rather than post 100s of covers and posters, I wanted to isolate the lettering for easy browsing and analysis. There's a lot of lettering out there, and a lot I left out. I tried to cover most of the genre's significant musicians (and only pick one piece per artist), but if missed anything glaring, let me know.

  • Can you spot the professional troll?

    In this game, called Spot the Troll, you are presented with screenshots of 8 different people's tweets or Facebook posts and then you have to guess whether or not the person is a troll. I got a score of 5/8

    Each of the following 8 profiles include a brief selection of posts from a single social media account. You decide if each is an authentic account or a professional troll. After each profile, you'll review the signs that can help you determine if it's a troll or not.