I touch down at Narita Airport on schedule and feel lucky to have just missed Typhoon Faxai, a category 3 storm which had passed through the area hours earlier. I’d received a note from the airline that, depending on how fast the typhoon was moving, my flight (which was scheduled to land just after 3 pm) could be canceled or delayed, but we left on time and the updates during the flight suggested all was clear.
As a resident of Japan, I get to use the special “reentry permit holder” lines at immigration which tend to take about 5 minutes to get through, which is incredible compared against the sometimes hour-long queue for visiting foreigners. Once through customs, I have to decide how to get home. Some airports offer no transportation, Narita for all its faults (mostly that it’s so far from Tokyo) offers many. I bounce between taking the Narita Express train or the Airport Limousine bus. Both options will get me to Shinjuku for about $40 and take roughly an hour and a half. From Shinjuku station, I can transfer to a local line and I’m walking in the door of my house about 15 minutes later. I tend to prefer the train because I’m tall and the reserved seats have more legroom, but it runs only once an hour, while there tends to be a bus leaving every 10-15 minutes so the bus is often more convenient. Anyway, my point is as I was walking off the plane at 3 pm I expect to be home by 5pm. Read the rest
In this time of national trauma and political chaos where everyone is being a total shit to each other and the only thing all the sides can agree on is that they can’t agree on anything - we need something to unify us. Something that, as a country, we can shed partisan differences and rally behind. Something like building the railroads, sending a man to the moon. Something that crosses party lines and is pure and perfect, like inside plumbing and laughing at people who call soccer football. Here, our politicians and political parties have failed us.
My friend Morgen and I have an answer.
Turn Oklahoma into a lake. Read the rest
I stared, face lathered up, sweat dripping, hand shaking, into the fogging mirror in my bathroom almost every day for over 2 weeks before I built up the courage to actually put the 4" razor to my face and take a swipe.
The fact that I hadn't shaved on any regular basis for any period in my life because of the bloody mess that inevitably ensued didn't help matters, but mostly I was just afraid of slicing my jugular wide open and being mocked after my death for as the idiot who even attempted this in the first place.
I took a deep breath and went for it. Read the rest
The fine folks at COILHOUSE magazine (mentioned many a time here in the past, and who featured Xeni and Boing Boing Video in issue 3 have just put made available for the first time all five back issues as DRM-free PDF downloads. Issues are $5 each or $20 for all five, with promises that the funds from this will go directly into the production of issue number 6. The COILHOUSE team are some of my favorite people; if you missed picking up the printed versions when they were available, now is your chance to catch up.
Read the rest
The photo sharing/social network app Color launched last week, and much fuss was made for a variety of reasons: massive media hype, massive funding, and a complete lack of documentation about how people should actually use the app. Mike 3K found this brilliant iPhone app store review of Color, which makes the whole affair worthwhile. Read the whole thing here. Read the rest
[Video Link] Veena Malik is a Pakistani actress who appeared on the very popular Indian TV show Bigg Boss (the Indian version of Big Brother). In the clip above, a mullah tells her she brought shame on Pakistan with her behavior on the show, and that 100% of Pakistanis agree with him. The mullah also admits he didn't watch the show himself, but knows all of this to be true.
Veena responds by pretty much mopping up the floor with him. She points out out how her religion backs up her actions, where he's in violation of the same rules he's taking her to task for. She also says if he wishes to defend Islam, there are countless targets more deserving of close inspection, but here he is instead wasting his time complaining about an actress.
It's fantastic. The world needs to see more of this. Go Veena!
(via soupsoup) Read the rest
[video link] This eyewitness video of the March 11 tsunami striking Japan shows how, in under 10 minutes, a harbor in Oirase Town, Aomori Prefecture goes from business as usual to, well, gone. While other videos have shown massive destruction or endless floods, this one shows a huge dry area that completely fills with water, making it easy to see just how much water was being pushed around. It's so hard to believe this actually happened. The guy filming it must have been scared to death. Read the rest
[click chart to embiggen] There has been much talk of radiation exposure levels in the news, and here on Boing Boing, this past week. But it can be hard to wrap your head around what those measurements mean, and how they compare to things you may have already experienced in life. Well, it was, until XKCD created this exceptionally helpful chart showing exactly how much radiation exposure you might encounter by doing something like flying from LA to NYC, getting a chest x-ray, hanging out at Chernobyl, living near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, or sleeping next to another human being. This rules.
Radiation dose and risk table
Japan nuclear crisis: "Should I take potassium iodide pills?"
Japan nuclear crisis: A real-world example of radiation risks
Nuclear energy 101: Inside the "black box" of power plants Read the rest
One issue that has emerged during the nuclear crisis in Japan is that there isn't always a reliable source for radiation levels from specific areas. RDTN.org has just launched, an experiment to help address that need. The site allows people to submit their own reads, and maps them out next to data from official sources and measurement dates. This way, anyone can quickly get an idea of what is happening on the ground, first-hand. The site is brand new but should be very useful going forward.
Also worth noting and specific to what is going on in Japan right now, JapanStatus.org is "a dashboard of accurate, sourced information on the situation in Japan following the March 2011 disaster."
As Japan nuclear fears spread, so does crowdsourced radiation tracking Read the rest
Click to play
[Video Link] - I've just stumbled across the pilot episode of The Silver Lake Badminton And Adventurers Club. I found it very amusing, and not just because I live in Silver Lake (a neighborhood in Los Angeles). From their brief history:
Founded in San Francisco in 1947 by Remi BoncÅ“ur, Sal Paradise, and Dean Moriarty, the organization that would become the Silver Lake Badminton and Adventurers Club was originally intended to foster team building and leadership skills amongst intrepid young adventurers through the ancient sport of Badminton.
Headquartered in the Mission, the club boasted amongst its members, Brick Bradford, known for his long toss, shorthand, and jetpack. From the Deep South came the tag team of brute strength and graceful agility, Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. Finally, there was legendary Tom Joad, who it was reputed, could handle a shuttlecock with more finesse than any player in the greater United States. Badminton appealed to the sporting mentalities of these founding members, but the exclusivity of shuttlecocks did not quench their thirst for the true bones of America. The answer came in the form of a murder, a murder that the adventurers followed down the coast.
The club is on twitter as well, where hopefully they'll announce more episodes soon! [Thanks Tara] Read the rest
The Christchurch cafe is a site where you can buy virtual items you might find in a coffee shop, from a $2 espresso to a $300 espresso machine. This is a creative and interesting way of raising aid donations: 100% of funds raised go directly to the community in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit hard by the earthquake last week. I love this idea, and would love to see this kind of thing catch on. It's an inspired way to encourage people to help out financially after a disaster. Read the rest
Last week I was excited to announce the birth of Coffee Common, a project of coffee enthusiasts (one of them being me) coming together to improve the experience of coffee for both industry and consumers. I mentioned that to kick off the launch, the project organizers and a handful of baristas from around the world will be spending this week in conjunction with the TED conference talking about (and serving) a few noteworthy selections from a select group of roasters.
We narrowed our list to the roasters we know have beautiful coffees with clarity and balance on their offering menus—and, who would be able to produce, roast and ship enough coffee to meet the needs of the thirsty TED attendees, at their own expense.
Normally, these roasters would consider each others competition, but the Coffee Common project is about collaboration. So we had an idea. We could write a short introduction for each included roaster, or we could assign each participating roaster the task of writing the intro for one of the others - knowing very well that one of the others would be writing theirs as well. This sounded much more interesting to us. After all, your fans can gush about you, but what your competition says may be more telling. So with that in mind...
Intelligentsia - introduced by James Hoffman of Square Mile Coffee
Stumptown - Introduced by Benjamin Kaminsky of Ritual Roasters
Has Bean - Introduced by Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee
Square Mile - Introduced by Trevor Corlett of Madcap Coffee
Ritual Roasters - Intriduced by George Howell of Terroir Coffee
Terroir Coffee - Introduced by Steve Leighton of Has Bean
More introductions will be posted soon. Read the rest
After observing the growing unrest and correspondingly violent crackdown in Libya, a group of hackers conceived and launched Operation Libya White Fax: while the internet and data connections are being throttled, cut off and censored, phone lines are still open, and fax machines are still working. So, with a list of numbers that have fax machines on the other end, and one fax document packed with timely info, time-sensitive information on how to route around censorship can get to people inside Libya.
The information document is online [PDF mirror] and so is the list of numbers to send it to. The info is coming from We Re-Build's main Libya page and will be updated as needed. This document helps people in Libya learn how to connect to dial-up internet, and route around the government-ordered communication blocks. In a time like this, that can make all the difference in the world. Read the rest
(photos by Kyle Glanville)
I take my coffee pretty seriously. So the idea of some of the most respected names in the coffee business—who, under normal circumstances, consider one another competition—coming together to work towards a common goal is very interesting to me. As a consumer I'm always trying to get my hands on really delicious coffee. As an enthusiast, I'm constantly annoying my local baristas with questions. As an advocate—well, my advocacy work to date has consisted mostly of caffeinated rants to friends. But a few months ago, the opportunity to explore that a little deeper presented itself.
In December, my friend Stephen Morrissey, who works at Intelligentsia, called with a crazy idea. In 2010, they provided coffee services for the TED conference in hopes of spreading the word about really good coffee. Stephen also happened to be the 2008 world barista champ; he knows about really good coffee. His idea for this year: rather than just serving coffee, the goal would be education. Rather than employees of a single company, the bars would be staffed by some of the best baristas in the business from all around the world. Rather than beans from one roaster, various skilled and talented roasters would be contributing the best they had to offer. This wouldn't be advertising for a single company, it would be advertising for coffee itself. But does anyone really need to learn about something as ubiquitous as coffee? And would something this weird even be possible? Read the rest
I found this video about the Honey Badger to be very educational. (NSFW) Read the rest
The Los Angeles hackerspace CRASHspace, of which I am a co-founder, took a drive out to California's Mojave desert to visit the Friends of Amateur Rocketry and deliver some gifts. It was quite an adventure, as the mini-documentary video we produced should demonstrate. Read the rest
[Editor's note: Pesco posted about these weaponized writing implements here last year; today, enjoy a hands-on from guestblogger Sean Bonner. —XJ]
What the crap is a tactical pen? A pen that kicks ass, basically. And I don't just mean it's "a kick-ass pen," I mean: this pen could literally kick your ass. To death, maybe. But it's also a pen, so it's civilized. No definitive answer on how mighty a tactical pen is in comparison to a sword, but the tactical pen is definitely mightier than the regular pen.
After first hearing about these on Every Day Carry, I decided I needed to see one in person. So I picked one up. Then another. Then did some comparing and contrasting, all scientifical-like. I can now share my results with you. Here's a few that happen to be in front of me as I write this post.
From L to R: Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen, Emergency Survival Covert Spy Ventilator Pen (carbon fiber), County Comm Embassy Elite Pen (stainless), Pilot Easy Touch (fine point), Sharpie (standard).
The first one I picked up was the Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen. I figured they make guns and bullets and stuff so they probably could make a pretty bad-ass tactical pen, right? Read the rest