• Utah monolith was removed by annoyed "locals"

    Ross Bernards wrote on his Instagram page that he witnessed the Utah monolith being removed by a group of men he surmised were locals. The 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque monolith, discovered in the desert only last week, vanished days later. How it got there will remain a mystery, for now, but its disappearance seems to be a closed case. [via Andy Baio]

    4 guys rounded the corner and 2 of them walked forward. They gave a couple of pushes on the monolith and one of them said "You better have got your pictures." He then gave it a big push, and it went over, leaning to one side. He yelled back to his other friends that they didn't need the tools. The other guy with him at the monolith then said "this is why you don't leave trash in the desert." Then all four of them came up and pushed it almost to the ground on one side, before they decided push it back the other when it then popped out and landed on the ground with a loud bang. They quickly broke it apart and as they were carrying to the wheelbarrow that they had brought one of them looked back at us all and said "Leave no trace." That was at 8:48.

  • Trump's sons' high school nicknames were "stank" and "choad".

    As noted by Tom McKay, the sons of outgoing president Trump enjoyed the nicknames "stank" and "choad" as high-schoolers. Don Jr is Stank, Eric is Choad. These revelations come courtesy of their yearbooks.

    Choad's name was reported out en passant by Frank Runyeon in a longer profile.

    During a school hockey game, Eric and other Hill boys were razzing their opponents, when all of a sudden the arena went silent and Eric shouted out, "No. 15 is a choad!"

    It stuck. Eric's friends would teasingly but lovingly call him "choad" for the rest of his time at Hill.

  • As defeat unfolded, Trump's advisors told him he'd won

    Trump's current behavior, refusing to accept defeat and insisting that the election was fraudulent, was inevitable: he's made the same claim about every poll that ever failed to go his way. But it certainly didn't help that on and after election night, his closest advisors simply lied to him about what was happening.

    Donald Trump on election night was like "Mad King George, muttering, 'I won. I won. I won,' " according to one close adviser, who spoke to The Washington Post for a remarkable recap of the 20 days since the election. Those around the president after 3 November were "happy to scratch his itch," the close adviser said.  

    "If he thinks he won, it's like, 'Shh, we won't tell him.'"

  • Iranian nuclear scientist killed with drone gun

    Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's chief nuclear scientist, was shot with a remote-controlled machine gun, reports Iranian news agency Fars.

    The Fars News report said Fakhrizadeh was traveling with his wife in a bulletproof car, alongside three security personnel vehicles, when he heard what sounded like bullets hitting a vehicle, and he exited the car to determine what had happened. When he got out, a remote-controlled machine gun opened fire from a Nissan stopped about 150 meters (164 yards) from Fakhrizadeh's car, the agency said. Fakhrizadeh was hit at least three times, according to Fars News. His bodyguard was also shot. Following the gunfire, the Nissan exploded, the news agency reported, adding the attack lasted three minutes.

    Engineer's Disease refers to the tendency among nerds to think great expertise in a specific technical area applies to everything, leading to arrogance and know-it-all behaviors that ultimately have serious negative consequences for the nerd.

    For example, say you're in armored vehicle, surrounded by armored vehicles full of soldiers protecting you, but something's going on. It would be a classic Engineer's Disease symptom to step out of the car to see what's going on.

    Gentleman epidemiologist Elon Musk is perhaps the most public sufferer of Engineer's Disease, but unlike Fakhrizadeh benefits from the disinterest of assassins. Going forward, however, he might want to bear in mind that Mossad does have a longstanding interest in people who sell rockets.

  • Ransomware attack closes Baltimore schools: 115,000 kids affected

    Baltimore's public schools are closed this week after a ransomware attack brought down its network. Administrators hope to bring students back in on Wednesday, but "it could take weeks" to bring up the computers.

    The district was hit last Wednesday, before Thanksgiving Day, but schools will remain shut on Monday and Tuesday.

    "Our focus today and for Monday and Tuesday is identifying and addressing student and staff device needs so that instruction can continue," it said in a Sunday evening update. But local newspaper the Baltimore Sun is reporting it could take weeks to restore the school district's computer systems fully.

  • Vader star David Prowse dead at 85

    David Prowse, the towering English weightlifter and actor who played Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy, is dead at 85.

    Prowse was cast as Vader for his imposing physique, even though the role was voiced by James Earl Jones. But the weightlifter-turned-actor was most proud of playing the Green Cross Code Man. The role, promoting road safety in the UK, earned him an MBE.

    "May the force be with him, always!" said his agent Thomas Bowington. "Though famous for playing many monsters – for myself, and all who knew Dave and worked with him, he was a hero in our lives."

  • NYT report on chronic racism at Coinbase

    More than half Coinbase's black employees complained about discrimination and about three quarters of them quit, reports the New York Times in a lengthy investigation of the company's chronic and pervasive racism. It is no surprise: CEO Brian Armstrong signaled it during this summer's George Floyd protests with a blog post ordering employees "to leave concerns for issues like racial justice at the door" or leave, which doubtless led to the journalistic scrutiny he now enjoys.

    One Black employee said her manager suggested in front of colleagues that she was dealing drugs and carrying a gun, trading on racist stereotypes. Another said a co-worker at a recruiting meeting broadly described Black employees as less capable. Still another said managers spoke down to her and her Black colleagues, adding that they were passed over for promotions in favor of less experienced white employees. The accumulation of incidents, they said, led to the wave of departures. "It was the first time I realized what racism felt like in the modern world," said Layllen Sawyerr, a compliance analyst who is Black. "I felt like I was being bullied every day at work."

    A few days ago, Coinbase published another post trying to pre-empt the NYT's article by claiming it would be inaccurate—while having no idea at all of the scope and depth of what was coming.

    For example: it thought the Times would have three sources for its story. But it has twenty-three, including exfiltrated documents and recordings.

    I remember reading, at the time of his original post, that Armstrong telling employees to shut up about racism was "stupid in ways that aren't immediately obvious". And now here we are.

  • Cheesemaking YouTuber threatened with legal action by Grana Padano after showing people how to make similar cheese (UPDATE: they backed off)

    Gavin Webber, a cheesemaking YouTuber, was threatened with legal action after posting a video of him making a Grana Padano-style cheese. The ingredients and methods of recipes are not copyrightable, but the Grana Padano consortium claims that mentioning the name (which refers to a "protected designation of origin") breaks the law, even though he was clear that what he was making was not, in fact, Grana Padano cheese or cheese from Grana Padano. Which it couldn't possibly be, obviously, because he's making it in a YouTube video.

    That fact hardly matters, unfortunately, when the cost of defending even the most blatant nuisance lawsuits is astronomical. Even if he makes a stand, YouTube has a private IP enforcement system that the Grana Padano consortium could use to kill the video (and perhaps even Webber's channel) without troubling the courts at all.

    So down it comes.

    Thing is, though, the video is now on Google Drive, re-uploaded by an unknown party. It's elsewhere, too. Soon, it might be everywhere.

    Moreover, the legal threat has already drawn attention to a document from which the real method for making Grana Padano cheese can be deduced, as disclosed to European Union regulators in return for the protected designation of origin.

    Voila! Now everyone is making their own exactingly-accurate Grana Padano at home, all because the Grana Padano consortium wanted to kill one video showing people how to make hard salty Italian cheese that tastes a bit like it.

    UPDATE: The cheese consortium backed off and even offered Webber a trip to learn the true recipe. However, it still insists that it is "improper" to use the name even by way of comparison.

  • Trump hosts press event from tiny table, then rants on Twitter

    Trump emerged late Thursday to talk to reporters in what turned out to be a fractious Thanksgiving press event. Trump claimed, falsely, that the "election was a fraud" and bickered with reporters. But it was the bizarre scene of a large man seated at an inexplicably tiny table that resonated online, with the hashtag #tinydesk trending and much laughter thrown his way.

    "This is the Four Seasons Total Landscaping of tables," wrote Emily Nussbaum, referring to the bizarre press conference held by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani outside the D.C.-area business by that name.

    Many pointed out the resemblance to an SNL skit from a few years ago; life, with Trump, now imitates even the most anodyne satire.

    Trump, in response, ranted on Twitter that the hashtag #tinydesk was "totally false"—and demanded that the law be changed to make Twitter legally liable for what users post there.

    Correction: Thursday, not Friday.

  • NRA admits it got looted by current and former executives

    The National Rifle Association admits that it is aware of 'significant diversion of its assets', reports CNN. The organization's current president has "paid back nearly $300,000 plus interest" in a further admission that the NRA's current leadership is as sticky-fingered as it ever was.

    CNN obtained the NRA's 990 tax return, which is meant for organizations that are exempt from income tax … The form names eight current and former NRA executives who it believes received "excess benefits," including its current executive vice president and CEO, Wayne LaPierre. Much of the disputed expenses involve travel and personal expenses, and the NRA states in the filing that it is reviewing whether board members "may have used first class or business class travel without authorization required under the NRA's travel policy."

    Exposure of NRA's brazen corruption is like Sandy Hook: what people think will happen is the exact opposite of what will really happen. People thought Sandy Hook would re-open the gun control debate, but it in fact revealed that gun control is a dead letter in congress. Likewise, the extent of the NRA's corruption will only make its core supporters love it more. The corruption itself becomes symbolic of the elites they want to see prevail over the people they hate. See also: Trump.

  • Slaughtered Danish mink rise from grave

    In a panicked response to a new strain of coronavirus spreading through the nation's mink, Denmark began slaughtering some 17 million of the animals and hastily burying the bodies. The dead mink are now reportedly rising from their graves, horrifying locals and generating what USA Today describes as "a national frenzy."

    …there is likely a scientific explanation for the zombie-like reemergence from their graves. A Danish police spokesman, Thomas Kristensen, told a state broadcaster that gases form while the body decays underground, according to the Guardian. "In this way, in the worst cases, the mink get pushed out of the ground," Kristensen said of the nightmarish sight.

    Millions of animal corpses buried in low-lying flats near groundwater! I wouldn't drink the tapwater in Denmark for a while if I were you.

  • The Cuprinol wood goblin

    It struck me, this morning, that I'd never introduced Boing Boing's largely American audience to the Cuprinol wood goblin, a mainstay of British television advertising for many years.

    "For the last hour, my right leg has been soaking in a well-known wood preserver."

    When you give thanks today, remember to give thanks to me for your new sleep paralysis demon.

  • Trump pardons Michael Flynn, who lied about contacts with Russian government

    Trump today pardoned Michael Flynn, the national security advisor he fired for lying the the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials.

    Flynn ultimately admitted to lying to investigators, but later attempted to withdraw his plea — an ongoing legal process now obviated by today's move. The pardon means Flynn will not serve any prison sentence, but is generally considered an acknowledgement of guilt.

    Flynn is the second Trump associate convicted in the Russia probe to be granted clemency by the president. Trump commuted the sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone just days before he was to report to prison. It is part of a broader effort to undo the results of an investigation that for years has shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half dozen associates.