Urban planning advocates like Jane Jacobs argued that people who live in neighborhoods should be active in the planning decisions around their homes. Read the rest
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into "GuyFi" stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of "stress relief." Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named "Hot Octopus"…
The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day last week. Of course, public masturbation is illegal—and a rep from Hot Octopuss told Mashable, "We may be insinuating that these booths could be used in whichever way anyone would like to 'self soothe,' [but] the brand is not actively encouraging people to masturbate in public as that is an illegal offense." No word on how fast the Internet connection was, or whether there would be any efforts to help women "self soothe" at a rate equal to men in the workplace.
An armed society is a polite society: Snopes.
In NYC, pay phones become free Wi-Fi hotspots—and masturbation stations Read the rest
Our biggest posts last year were out of this world.
Today, EFF published Pwning Tomorrow, a science fiction anthology featuring stories by 21 celebrated authors, including Bruce Sterling, Neil Gaiman, Lauren Beukes, Pat Cadigan, Madeline Ashby and Charlie Jane Anders (I have a story in there too!). Read the rest
Floral/fruity scents have long been characterized as attractive to mosquitoes, so it's natural that New Mexico State’s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab researcher Stacy Rodriguez tested a floral/fruity perfume against DEET in a lab trial. Read the rest
Annalee Newitz reports that very few of the female profiles at the hacked site appear to represent real people.
The world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized. This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.
Her examination of the dataset (generally described as representing about 37m accounts) is that there were perhaps 12,000
paying women users. Which means, of course, that very few of the paying male users were actually having affairs. Of that total, only 1,492 female-profile users ever checked their messages, compared to 20m men.
One thousand, four-hundred and ninety-two.
Ashley Madison employees did a pretty decent job making their millions of women’s accounts look alive. They left the data in these inactive accounts visible to men, showing nicknames, pictures, sexy comments. But when it came to data that was only visible on to company admins, they got sloppy. The women’s personal email addresses and IP addresses showed marked signs of fakery. And as for the women’s user activity, the fundamental sign of life online? Ashley Madison employees didn’t even bother faking that at all.
Here's what Ashley Madison is: a swizz. You pay up to "have an affair", you get strung along for a while, you realize the site is garbage, then you pay the "fee" to have your data deleted. Read the rest
“The first space colonies will have no coal power plants,” says Rob Rhinehart. “I am ready.”
This is the Space Age: Annalee Newitz's Stop pretending we aren't living in the Space Age is a magnificent rant on the incredibly achievements of modern space programs, and a savage indictment of the lack of imagination underpinning complaints about the failure of humans to return to the moon in force.
Steel velcro that supports 35 tons/square meter: Metaklett is a steel velcro-like substance created by Josef Mair and teammates at Technical University of Munich. One square meter of it supports up to 35 tons at temperatures up to 800 degrees Celsius.
VP Cheney in cahoots with terrorists?: Vice President Cheney is making bizarre threats about a possible terrorist attack unless he and President Bush are relected.
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Annalee Newitz rounds up scientists' ten least-favorite misused scientific concepts, from "proof" and "theory" to "natural" and "learned versus innate." The thing that most of these misconceptions have in common is that they're very profitable: clouding the idea of "proof" and "theory" helps oil companies sell climate denial (and were the go-to tactic when tobacco giants were claiming that their products didn't cause cancer). "Natural" is a label that helps sell woo. "Learned versus innate" is a great way to justify crappy policies as being somehow "innate" to our species (see Love of Shopping is Not a Gene). Read the rest
The paperback edition of Annalee Newitz's excellent Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction comes out today, and to celebrate, Annalee has commissioned a song about the book from nerd rockers the Doubleclicks. It's terrific.
Here's my original review from the hardcover's publication last May:
Read the rest
Scatter's premise is that the human race will face extinction-grade crises in the future, and that we can learn how to survive them by examining the strategies of species that successfully weathered previous extinction events, and cultures and tribes of humans that have managed to survive their own near-annihilation.
i09's Annalee Newitz has a theory about why some stories get shared around the Internet more than others — and, not coincidentally, why nuanced stories about science tend to get shared less than, say, the average LOLcat. If she's right, the real trick with science reporting on the Internet is to write accurate stories that aren't all reported from deep in the Valley of Ambiguity. Read the rest
The news media now uses the word "cyber" the way smurfs use the word "smurf," but things used to be different. Annalee Newitz traces the storied history of the word.
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It all started with "cybernetics," an obscure term popularized by a mathematician named Norbert Weiner in the 1940s. For his groundbreaking book Cybernetics, Weiner borrowed the ancient Greek word "cyber," which is related to the idea of government or governing. Indeed, the only time the word cybernetics had appeared before was in a few works of political theory about the science of governance.
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Gweek is a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
This episode's guests:
Clive Thompson is a science and technology journalist, whose new book just came out: Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (website). He’s a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and Wired, and blogs at Collision Detection, and can be found on Twitter as @pomeranian99. (Photo of Clive by Tom Igoe)
Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and semiotician. He is co-author of Significant Objects, published by Fantagraphics, and Unbored, the kids' field guide to serious fun. He edits the website HiLobrow, which as HiLoBooks is now publishing classics -- by Jack London, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others -- from what he calls science fiction's Radium Age.
GET GWEEK: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode | Listen on Stitcher Read the rest