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Updated: 25 min 10 sec ago

Resentment at techies might not be fair, but it's the future

16 April, 2014 - 23:19

Jack Halprin is a Google employee who bought a multi-unit dwelling in San Franscico and evicted the occupants. He's getting a roasting, as you can imagine. Here's Benjamin Wachs, writing as "Faux Jack Halprin" defending his decision. What I'm trying to say is that, in a free society, some people make better choices than others, and we reward those people with the homes of their vanquished enemies. Some people, for example, choose to be teachers, and spend their lives teaching other people's kids things that they can Google for free. Naturally, we pay them very little money -- so little that they're practically homeless already. Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone even notices when I evict someone making under $150,000 a year. Honestly, how can you tell?

Then there are other people, like me, who make good decisions, becoming important parts of the companies that sponsor TED talks. Naturally, we pay these people what they're worth. Why am I so highly compensated? Well, if I weren't at the office every day, doing the work I do, the government wouldn't be nearly as good at spying on you.

The humor is brutal and crude in its villain-painting, but it's that last line that really stands out. The perception was the tech industry is a victim of domestic surveillance, but this perception has changed. Zuckerberg's affected outrage doesn't cut the mustard, whereas the "get with the program" nonchalance of hiring Condoleezza Rice just cuts.

To be seen as selfish, exacerbating a city's housing problems while abusing its public services, is one thing. But to be seen as the intelligence community's self-justifying handmaidens? If you're betting on public complacency and disinterest, it's worth remembering that this is a bet you won't be able to change mid-race.






Categories: The Essentials

Japan copies, improves Western culture

16 April, 2014 - 22:02
Japan makes the best bourbon, denim and burgers, writes Tom Downey. It’s easy to dismiss Japanese re-creations of foreign cultures as faddish and derivative—just other versions of the way that, for example, the new American hipster ideal of Brooklyn is clumsily copied everywhere from Paris to Bangkok. But the best examples of Japanese Americana don’t just replicate our culture. They strike out, on their own, into levels of appreciation and refinement rarely found in America. They give us an opportunity to consider our culture as refracted through a foreign and clarifying prism. Jason Kottke points out that the same is true of coffee.

And it's not just stuff; consider Kazuo Ishiguro, who moved to England as a child and gained a startlingly clear view a particular kind of Englishness. These are all things that never truly existed until something new was inspired by the idea of them—a process as conservative as it is creative.






Categories: The Essentials

HOWTO equip your drug-dealing operation

16 April, 2014 - 21:52

Buy one part of the set--say, an AWS-100 digital scale--and Amazon's "what other customers bought" feature will tell you the rest you need. Alexis Madrigal:

Amazon clearly did not set out to create such a field-tested kit for starting an illicit business. But looking at the list of items, it sure seems like they've created a group of products by looking at the purchasing habits of people who may not be recording all of their incomes on W-2s and 1099s.

Buyer beware, seller aware.






Categories: The Essentials

Monkeys may sometimes grieve for dead mates through necrophilia

16 April, 2014 - 21:46


A still from the video of a marmoset exhibiting behavior that resembles human grieving.

A sad story of two marmosets documented by animal behavior researcher Bruna Bezerra, who was observing the primates in their northeast Brazil home: The pair had been the dominant male and female since observations began. When the female fell out of the tree, her partner engaged in a number of behaviors, including embracing her, sniffing at her, chasing other monkeys away, sitting by her, and trying to copulate with her. He also emitted alarm calls normally used when a predator is near. And several months after her death, the male disappeared from the marmoset group, never to be seen again.

More: Do Monkeys Grieve for Fallen Mates? | Science/AAAS. Here's the study, in the journal Primates. There's video, too. [via Ed Yong]






Categories: The Essentials

Donald Rumsfeld, unconvicted war criminal, is upset with the IRS

16 April, 2014 - 21:41

Noted horrible shitbag Donald Rumsfeld has one thing in common with you and I, dear reader: he is not happy with the IRS, and wishes he hadn't spent so much money preparing and filing his taxes. Here is his annual open letter to the Internal Revenue Service, no doubt to promote his stupid narcissistic book. Here are my thoughts on the matter. Read Rummy's letter below.


Donald Rumsfeld's 2014 letter to the IRS. Click for larger size.








Categories: The Essentials

Finland to offer Tom of Finland gay bondage art stamps

16 April, 2014 - 21:29

Worth a trip to Finland after September 2014 just to buy a few and send postcards to conservative US lawmakers or, say, the Pope.

Slate: This fall, the country will begin selling stamps that feature the “confident and proud homoeroticism” of Tom of Finland, an artist renowned as “beyond question the most influential creator of gay pornographic illustration.”

Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen, once famously said "If I don't have an erection when I'm doing a drawing, I know it's no good."






Categories: The Essentials

Motorcycle safety: high visibility, low cost vest

16 April, 2014 - 21:19

I wanted a high visibility vest to wear over my motorcycle jacket. Cycle gear shops carried great looking vests at high prices. I didn't think the job required $80 of artisanal reflectiveness.

The Neiko High Visibility Neon Yellow Zipper Front Safety Vest with Reflective Strips is $7.25!

I bought a size Large to wear over an armored size 42 US leather jacket. It fits perfectly. Some folks in the reviews complain the zipper opens due to wind pressure, they suggest adding a binder clip to secure it. I have had no problems.

I should wear this vest whenever I ride.






Categories: The Essentials

Blade Runner engagement photos

16 April, 2014 - 19:45


Rob Cruickshank found Paul Hillier's set of Bladerunner-themed engagement photos. He adds, "I do think the bride and groom should have taken Voight-Kampffs though, just to be sure."

Blade Runner inspired engagement shoot






Categories: The Essentials

Canada's Digital 150 Strategy: Cynical, lazy and so 1867

16 April, 2014 - 17:15

John sez, "We Canadians are looking forward to our 150th birthday coming up in 2017. As part of the celebrations, the Harper Conservative government has released its Digital Canada 150 strategy paper with the idea of propelling Canada forward to take full advantage of the opportunities of the digital age and be a global leader by 2017. While the document has some good points and is definitely not as actively terrible as some of their recent actions (like attacking Elections Canada or stifling science), the strategy is still extremely disappointing."

It's lazy because rather than a coordinated plan to energize Canadian culture and commerce in a digital age, it's mostly just buzzword soup and re-packaged announcements and programs from the last few years. It's cynical because it's clearly all about the government being able to say they have a digital strategy in the upcoming 2015 election campaign. It's a compendium of missed opportunities in science, commerce and culture.

But mostly it's not very forward looking or strategic.

As Michael Geist says,

Most disappointingly, Digital Canada 150 lacks a big picture goal or target that might have made the whole greater than the sum of its parts. There was no shortage of possibilities such as a national digital library to revolutionize access in schools and communities, a rethinking of Canadian surveillance policy so that mounting fears of widespread surveillance of individuals might be addressed, structural separation of Internet providers or a plan to join forces with the private sector to bring affordable access and computing equipment into every home in Canada.

As far as making the new strategy making Canada a world leader, Geist also points out that,

In comparing the Canadian strategy with countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, it becomes immediately apparent that other countries offer far more sophisticated and detailed visions for their digital futures. While there is no requirement that Canada match other countries on specific goals, it is disappointing that years of policy development - other countries were 5 to 10 years ahead of Canada - ultimately resulted in a document short on strategy, specifics, and analysis. I’ve collected more commentary -- pro and con -- on my blog here.






Categories: The Essentials

Crowdfunding £12,000 to fight mandatory UK Internet filters

16 April, 2014 - 14:38

Jim Killock from the UK Open Rights Group sez, "Recently the British Government, with the help of conservative religious lobby groups, has persuaded ISPs to introduce an internet filter across the UK. Open Rights Group needs your help to challenge this. We want to make people aware that filters don't work, are dangerous for internet freedom and could give parents a false sense of security when it comes to their children's use of the internet.

"To get this message across we want to produce a high-quality, funny film that will re-start the debate about why filters are a bad idea. It will cost us £12,000 to get this campaign off the ground. We need to show people that filters censor the internet. Most of all, we need to tell politicians like Claire Perry that they have to stop blaming the internet for society's problems.

"Filters don't work. Help us to fight them."

Internet filters are a weak spot in the UK government's expanding censorship programme, and ripe for disruption through pointed satire. I contributed.

Stop UK Internet Censorship

(Disclosure: I co-founded the Open Rights Group and volunteer on its advisory board)






Categories: The Essentials

Wearable computing breakthrough

16 April, 2014 - 09:00

An image from the future past.

(via via @stevenf)








Categories: The Essentials

Corrupted coloring book pages

16 April, 2014 - 08:10
From Neatorama: "Coloring Book Corruptions is a delightful demonstration of what happens when you combine a sick mind and children’s entertainment. The anonymous artist adds his/her drawings, but invites you to submit your own."

Coloring Book Corruptions [NSFW]






Categories: The Essentials

Make a notebook from a brown paper bag

16 April, 2014 - 08:04

Brittany Watson Jepsen shows you how to hand-bind a notebook from a brown paper bag and any kind of interior paper you'd like to use for the inside pages.

5 minute bookbinding (Via CRAFT)






Categories: The Essentials

Dear Falcor

16 April, 2014 - 07:22

Editorial note: In a recent BBS thread concerning legendarily passive-aggressive advice column Dear Abby, Boing Boing commenters took it upon themselves to request assistance in their daily lives from our moderator, Falcor the Don't-Push-Your-Luck Dragon. This morning a pile of noisome, crudely dehaired human-skin hides were left outside Boing Boing's secret lair; upon close inspection, they turned out to be scrawled with Falcor's answers. I've transcribed them below — Rob

Dear Falcor,
I've recently killed a man (in self-defense, I swear!) and need to dispose of the body. What do you recommend? — JUST KILLED A MAN IN ONTARIO (Jardine)

Dear Just Killed a Man,
Canadians taste great with maple syrup.
Cheers, Falcor

Dear Falcor,
I have some left over chicken, some rice, some noodles and I think probably some veggies... Maybe there is tomato based sauce hanging around. Add that to a picky family. What should I feed them tonight? — TIRED OF THE SAME THING FOR DINNER IN THE SOUTH (Mindysan33)

Dear Tired of the same thing,
I have a friend in Canada who might be able to help you out. How are you with white meat?
Best, Falcor

Dear Falcor,
My baby is turning out to be the worst roommate ever. She makes constant demands, keeps us up all night, and refuses to pay her share of the mortgage. How should we deal with this problem? – SINCERELY, MOMMY DEAREST (Maggiekb)

Dear Mommy Dearest,
Usually I would say "gobble her down.", but in this case I have to say "suck it up."
Sincerely, Falcor

Dear Falcor,
During a particularly frustrating evening babysitting, I wished that the goblins would take my baby brother away. The Goblin King won't give him back and my parents will be back soon. What should I do?

Please help! – ETERNALLY STENCHY (Daneel)

Dear Eternally Stenchy,
Goblin Kings are a bit to stringy to eat, I recommend instead distracting him with a tight-pants-and-wigs sale downtown. Then snatch your brother back.
You remind me of the babe, Falcor

Dear Falco,
What did Vienna call about?

Robert C Baruch

Dear Robert,
This man is an imposter. Eat him.
Get out, Falcor







Categories: The Essentials

Homeland audiobook, direct from me

16 April, 2014 - 07:12

My independently produced audio edition of Homeland, read by Wil Wheaton, is now available direct from me as a $15 MP3 download. The audiobook not only features Wil's reading, but also Noah Swartz reading his brother Aaron Swartz's afterword and Jacob Appelbaum reading his own afterword, recorded at the Berlin studio of Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire.

Here's a free preview of chapter one.

Homeland audiobook purchase






Categories: The Essentials

NYPD program to spy on Muslims has been disbanded

16 April, 2014 - 06:12
NYT: "The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said." Translation: NYPD creates new secret secretive program to spy on Muslims. (Thanks, Matthew!)






Categories: The Essentials

Gay jeans: bluejeans that go rainbow as they fade

16 April, 2014 - 06:00

Chris from Betabrand writes, "Betabrand designer Steven B. Wheeler has discovered the Gay Jean -- more precisely, a denim that slowly but surely fades to reveal rainbow-colored thread within."

How do I know these jeans are really gay? Could it just be a phase? Actually, brand-new Gay Jeans look and act like any other pair of fine five-pocket denims. But as they get older, they can't help showing their true colors — literally! Through normal washing and wearing, their indigo dye will gradually fade away, revealing fabulously colorful yarn.

Can I prevent them from becoming gay by not washing them? This will merely slow the process. It will also have the unintended consequence of repulsing friends and loved ones, regardless of orientation.

If I'm straight, will wearing Gay Jeans make me gay? No more than driving a Toyota will make you Japanese. If you put on a pair of Gay Jeans and begin experiencing gayness, chances are it's because you are gay.

Gay Jeans (Slim-Fit) (Thanks, Chris)






Categories: The Essentials

Blender Foundation needs more help to crowdfund the world's first fully open source animated feature

16 April, 2014 - 04:30

Julius writes, "With people like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales backing them up, the Blender Foundation's first full feature length film looks like one of those things that's just bound to happen by itself. Except right now it isn't. Having successfully collected over $630 000 in funding from over 3500 individual pledgers (setting a new world record for animated film), Project Gooseberry needs more to become what it promises to be -- a historic open content film production."

I pledged.

Chairman and producer Ton Roosendaal of the Blender Foundation said: 'Though we're obviously extremely happy to have already reached so many people, we need many more to take part as animation is one of the most expensive art forms in existence. We've definitely set a difficult target for ourselves. Gooseberry is about challenging a whole bunch of production and film related cant-do's, especially exploring 100% open production, keeping ownership entirely in the hands of the makers and releasing the whole film under Creative Commons. The message is definitely not simple - that's why we still struggle getting connected to 1000s of more potential supporters.'

Summarising the production:

- Subscription based crowd-funding: crowd-funding has degraded to a product presale platform, we have an alternative.

- Open Production: the audience will get in direct contact with the makers

- Occupy Hollywood: the makers are back in control and own the film - and will benefit from the profits

- Creative Commons bizz: release and share everything, yet find a way to make a living with it

- Open Source is In-house Software: make software as a way of working together, don't copy the commercial product life cycle model

Project Gooseberry is all of that, and more - it's also going to be a totally amazing high quality theater-ready feature animation movie!

Gooseberry | The Open Feature Animation Film






Categories: The Essentials

SF housing crisis: it is not the techies

16 April, 2014 - 02:58
Thank goodness for Kim-Mai Cutler's analysis of the San Francisco Bay area housing crisis. It is worth the very long read. Kim-Mai says, "This is a complex problem, and I’m not going to distill it into young, rich tech douchebags-versus-helpless old ladies facing eviction. There are many other places where you can read that story." (Thanks, James Home!)






Categories: The Essentials
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