How a civic hacker used open data to halve tickets at Chicago's most confusing parking spot

Matt Chapman used the Freedom of Information Act to get the City of Chicago's very mess parking ticket data; after enormous and heroic data normalization, Chapman was able to pinpoint one of the city's most confusing parking spots, between 1100-1166 N State St, which cycled between duty as a taxi-stand and a parking spot with a confusingly placed and semi-busted parking meter. (more…)

This nose hair ripper-outer I bought in Tokyo works great

I just returned home from a 5-week stay in Japan with my family. We spent the first 10 days in Kyoto and Koya-san, and the rest of the time we stayed in an apartment in Tokyo, where I worked on Boing Boing, Cool Tools, and Institute for the Future. Despite the high temperatures and humidity, we had a great time. I'll be writing about the trip here in the days to come.

To start things off, here is something I bought at a chain store called Vanguard Village. There is nothing like Vanguard Village in the US as far as I know. It has CDs (Japanese still prefer CDs over MP3s), clothes, makeup, masturbatory aids, manga, books, and tons of other stuff. One shelf was devoted entirely to weird body cleaning products. I bought a few different products to try out. One of them was this nose hair removal kit called Gosso. It cost about $8 and contains enough materials to rip the hair out of six nostrils. (Amazon sells an identical looking kit that can clean out 20 nostrils for $12).

To use it, you heat up waxy pellets in a microwave oven, apply the molten wax to a plastic stick, shove it into your nostril (twisting as you do so), waiting 90 seconds, then yanking the stick out and screaming "SHIT! THAT HURT!"

I have heard removing nostril hairs is a bad idea because they act as filters. But I have 10 times more nostril hair than I did when I was young, and after I used this, I still had hairs farther in the back of my nose. I'm glad to have a nose that doesn't have hairs sprouting from the nostrils.

Open-air urinal facing tourist boats in Paris not welcome by all

A supposedly odorless, open-air urinal has been set up in the middle of Paris, and some folks are irked. The bright red no-flush urinal – set up so that pissers face tourist boats cruising the Seine river – could pass as a planter, trash can, or some sort of utility box at first. But a sign above it reads "uritrottoir" (pavement urinal).

Three other similar urinals were set up in Paris months ago, but this one, on the Ile Saint-Louis, "has met with a more robust response," according to CBS.

But some residents have complained that the bright red boxes are a blight on the picturesque streets of the city.

Others say there is something more than a little distasteful about encouraging men to urinate right on the street, even if it's into a box...

"It's a little bit in the open, some people might be uncomfortable," he said as several boats packed with tourists floated past along the Seine...

Local resident Francoise said she was "outraged" by its presence, describing it as "really not very attractive".

Others like the idea of it, but think the location isn't appropriate, while the biggest complaint is that it discriminates against women, because it caters only to men.

Here's a video showing the urinal with some action. A fun bonus attraction for those cruisers.

Newly elected Mexican congresswoman kidnapped at gunpoint

It's dangerous to be a candidate for office in Mexico. Forty-eight candidates were murdered and nearly 400 kidnapped during the most recent campaign. The latest victim is 32-year-old Norma Azucena Rodríguez, the former mayor of of Tihuatlán in Veracruz. She won a seat in Congress in the July 1 election, but was kidnapped, likely by a gang that opposed her policies, in a highway ambush in which shots were fired.

From The Independent:

She was said to be travelling down a highway when two men opened fire on her vehicle, injuring her driver and assistant and causing the car to flip over.

Ms Rodríguez was then seized by the gunmen, who pulled her out of the vehicle and fled after forcing her into their car. Her whereabouts, along with the motive of the assailants, remain unknown.

Striking similarity between David Bowie and cartoon man on Devo album cover

Joel Gion of Brian Jonestown Massacre posted these images on his Instagram. Coincidence or... something else?

Well, David Bowie did help Brian Eno produce Devo's "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!" (1978). But apparently illustrator Joe Heiner based the cover art on a photo of golfer Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez mixed with an image Mark Mothersbaugh had "procured from a local newspaper that morphed the faces of U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford."

Still, the resemblance here is striking.

More on the cover art at Wikipedia.

Share price for MoviePass drops $132, now trades at 5¢

Helios and Matheson, the company that owns MoviePass, the ailing movie theatre subscription service, posted a $126.6 million loss in the second quarter and its cash reserves have dwindled to $15 million. Share prices, which traded $39 per share, dropped to 8 cents a share in late July. Threatened with being delisted on NASDAQ, Helios and Matheson issued a 1-for-250 reverse split, which meant that shareholders received one share worth about $20 in exchange for 250 shares worth 8 cents a share.

But that didn't stop the decline. That $20 share is now worth less than a nickel. Time for another 1-for-250 reverse split, which would be 62,500-for-1 split on the original shares?

From CNN:

Earlier this month, MoviePass quoted Mark Twain in a release that declared, "talk of our demise is greatly exaggerated." It said it was only "going through a rough patch not unlike what other disruptive enterprises experienced in their early day."

On Wednesday, Helios and Matheson touted its year of MoviePass ownership in a news release that did not mention its financial losses. Instead, the company focused on its subscriber growth and contributions to the domestic box office.

White House issues rare apology after Sarah Sanders fudges numbers on jobs for African-Americans

Sarah Sanders told a whopper at yesterday's briefing when she claimed that Trump had so far created over triple the amount of jobs for African-Americans than President Obama did during his time in the White House.

"This President since he took office, in the year and a half that he's been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans. That's 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren't working when this President took place. When President Obama left, after eight years in office, he had only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans."

Of course she was wrong.

First of all, according to CNN, the figure Sanders was trying to push included 140,000 new jobs from November-January of 2016, which is when Obama was still president. It also tried to blame 162,000 lost jobs during November-January of 2008 on Obama, even though George W. Bush was still president during that time.

Secondly, CNN points out that Sanders conveniently left out the fact that 3 million new jobs went to "black workers" while President Obama was in office.

When Obama took office in 2009, 15.5 million African Americans had jobs in an economy filleted by one of the country's worst recessions. When he left office, the economy had 18.4 million black workers.

The White House issued a rare, albeit skimpy, apology about their botched math, calling it a "miscommunication": "Apologies for @WhiteHouseCEA's earlier miscommunication to @PressSec."

Image by The White House -, Public Domain, Link

The girl who pushed her friend off a 60-foot high bridge into a river could be prosecuted

A 16 year old girl suffered four broken ribs and punctured lungs after her 18 -year-old friend pushed her on a 60 foot tall bridge into the river at Moulton Falls Pegional Park a couple weeks ago. Now prosecutors are are looking into charging the 18-year-old with criminal offenses.

From Inside Edition:

In a harrowing moment captured on video, a Washington teen is pushed by a friend from a bridge more than 50 feet high. Jordan Holgerson, 16, suffered five cracked ribs and a lung injury. “I could have died,” Holgerson said. “In midair, I think I might have blacked out, but I was awake and aware when I hit the water.” The location is reportedly a popular location for kids to leap into the water. In the video, kids can be heard counting down and Holgerson appears to hesitate before being pushed.

From The Columbian:

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit has completed its investigation into the Moulton Falls bridge incident and is forwarding the case to the prosecutor’s office for consideration of charges.

The sheriff’s office said the suspect, identified as 18-year-old Taylor Smith, is cooperating with investigators, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

What if English were phonetically consistent?

Japanese is a hard language to learn, but one of the easy parts is its generally phonetic consistency. English is also hard language to learn, and it's made harder because letters and letter combinations are pronounced differently depending on the word they are in. An example that illustrates this is "ghoti," a made up word that is pronounced "fish." The "gh" is pronounced like the "f" sound in "tough," the "o" is the "i" sound in "women," "ti" is the "sh" sound in "fiction."

Aaron Alon made a video that shows what English would sound like if each vowel had one, and only one, pronunciation. The result sounds like an American pretending to have a weird pan-European accent.

New Zealand bans most offshore residential real-estate ownership

With today's passage of the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, the Parliament of New Zealand has banned nonresidents from buying most residential property in the country, in an effort to end the skyrocketing housing expenses (Auckland is one of the world's least-affordable cities) by freezing out overseas speculators, though these account for less than 3% of total real-estate transactions, with the majority coming from China. (more…)

Comic book art being auctioned off for a great cause

Giving generously to an important cause is cool. Y’all know what’s cooler? Giving generously to an important cause and, as a result, becoming the proud owner of a gorgeous piece of comic book art.

Cat Staggs — the co-creator of Crosswind and an artist on Wonder Woman ‘77 — was approached at a recent comic book convention and was commissioned by a fan, Danielle Van Lier, to throw together a gorgeous drawing of Wonder Woman. It was a sketch with a mission: to raise as much coin as possible for Immigrant Families Together. It’s a charity that focuses its efforts on improving the lives of families separated at America’s southern borders in the following areas:

• Raising funds through coordinated crowdfunding and individual giving in order to post bond for parents separated from their children
• Paying bonds and providing pro bono legal representation to fulfill all legal responsibilities while awaiting trial so that they may be with their children
• Arranging safe transportation from state of detention to the city where children are currently in foster care
• When needed, finding long-term housing in the destination city while they await trial
• Connecting parents with resources in order to sustain them during the process of being unified with their children
• Working with local organizations and government to expedite the process of achieving full custody of their children while they await trial

Given the shitty way that the Trump administration has been treating families seeking safe harbor from the dangers of their homes, this is vital work. Perhaps more importantly, it’s vital work that you can support.

If you’re a comic book fan, pop art aficionado, love someone who is, or simply want to contribute to a stellar cause, you can place a bid on Catt’s sketch, here. 100% of the auction’s proceeds will be handed over to the charity.

Just don’t wait too long to do so: the auction closes on Friday, August 17th.

Artwork provided by Cat Skaggs and Amanda Diebert. Used with permission.

United Nations: ISIS is regrouping

It’s been a while since we’ve heard a lot about the so-called Islamic State. Since the "defeat" of ISIS in Iraq and the majority of Syria, much of the focus in the war-torn regions of the Middle East has been on: the ongoing pissing match between the United States, Russia and Turkey in Syria, what will become of the civilians whose lives were shattered during the Syrian Civil War, hostilities between Iran and damn near everyone, Palestinian rights, and what the Israelis have cooking in regards to Gaza and the protection of their populace from a variety of aggressors.

Would you be surprised to learn that ISIS is still kind of a big deal? Because it sort of sounds like the United Nations was. According to the CBC, a report from U.N. Terrorism experts says that ISIS is still doing fine, thank you very much, boasting as many as 30,000 members stationed in Syria and Iraq. However, after multiple ass-kickings at the hands of professional and volunteer military forces across the Middle East, they’ve decided to tone things down a bit. That overt, "we're gonna build a freaking caliphate" look of theirs? SO last year. Currently, ISIS is playing it cool by conducting covert operations in its bases of operation while the terrorist group regroups and rebuilds.

From The CBC:

While many ISIS fighters, planners and commanders have been killed in fighting, and many other fighters and supporters have left the immediate conflict zone, the experts said many still remain in the two countries — some engaged militarily, "and others hiding out in sympathetic communities and urban areas."

... The flow of foreign fighters to ISIS in Syria and Iraq has come to a halt, they said, but "the reverse flow, although slower than expected, remains a serious challenge."

While the rate of terrorist attacks has fallen in Europe, the experts said some governments "assess that the underlying drivers of terrorism are all present and perhaps more acute than ever before." This suggests that any reduction in attacks is likely to be temporary until ISIS recovers and reorganizes, and al-Qaeda "increases its international terrorist activity or other organizations emerge in the terrorist arena," they said.

It’s a damn shame. A report like this from a legitimate joint like the United Nations, while no doubt accurate, will likely serve as a springboard for white nationalists, here and abroad, to launch fear-mongering, othering attacks on already vulnerable individuals seeking refuge from violent Middle Eastern and African nations. Being forced to seek safe shelter in the relative safety of Europe and North America trial enough without heaping more xenophobic bullshit on them, because of the potential actions of a few hateful, militaristic tools.

Image by Yo - Own work, Public Domain, Link

What to do when your 5'8" boyfriend insists he is 6 feet tall

Daniel Mallory Ortberg:

A: This is not a situation where you need much of a strategy beyond “acknowledging reality.” Talk to your boyfriend. “Hey, it’s clear that this hits a really deep nerve for you, but I’m not sure why you keep bringing up your height and insisting that you’re 6 feet tall. It was obvious at the doctor’s office that you felt very strongly about hearing your height spoken aloud. What’s going on?” If he wants to talk about his feelings about his height with you, that’s going to be a lot more useful to him than pretending he’s 4 inches taller for the rest of his life.

Ah, but what do to when your 5'11" president insists he is 6'3"?

Trudeau, you see, is standing taller than Trump. Which is difficult to explain when Trudeau is 6″2, and Trump claims to be 6″3. At least, that figure is according to Trump’s physical exam results which were released in January this year by the White House doctor. Other than his lack of exercise, love of junk food and obsession with Diet Coke, Trump was declared to be overall in “excellent health”.

Now, critics are suggesting Trump overestimated his height so his Body Mass Index would be conveniently classified as “overweight”, not “obese”.

White House Photo.

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