Arunachalam Muruganantham is an inventor who came up with a way to make sanitary pads available to women in rural India (and give local village women a source income in the process). We take them for granted in the West, but pads can be life-saving, writes Emily Bazelon at Slate. That's because without sanitary pads, women use whatever absorbent material they have handy and they don't often have a great way to disinfect that material when they reuse it.
Muruganantham's story of invention took more than four years and, at one point, got him branded as a pervert when neighbors caught him wandering around the village with a football bladder full of goat's blood under his clothes (part of an attempt to test the absorption rate of different materials).
Adam sez, "This is the first episode of an original Dailymotion production called 'That Was Me' which highlights the achievements of pop culture icons. 'That Was Me' episode 1: A profile of the founder of SXSW -- one of the largest music, film and interactive festivals in the United States. The festival takes place annually in Austin, Texas."
Who Created SXSW? - That Was Me (Thanks, Adam!)
Noam Cohen at The New York Times In a move that promises to increase the use of photography across the Internet, the Getty Images photo agency announced that it would allow noncommercial websites and social media users to publish the agency’s images at no cost using an “embedding” tool.
The catch is that the photos have to be embedded a la youtube (see hungry kitty, above), which means they can just take them down if they want to, or insert advertising. Out the can, Getty's embeds have fixed widths, but it's clean iframe markup, easily tailored. Use is noncommercial only, but they're OK with ad-supported editorial use.
"In short, The King in Yellow has gone viral. But why? It's all due to the powerful creative draw of the weird mythos, stories which create, in the words of H.P. Lovecraft, a shared literary universe defined by an "unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces" and "the daemons of unplumbed space." And that effect is very definitely by design."
Female representation in games is mired in toxic archetypes, so much so that even conscious efforts to avoid or neutralize them tends to end up mirroring the problem. The makers of Desktop Dungeons, however, are taking a more considered approach.
It wasn’t good enough for us to simply react with deliberate ugliness or typically masculine factors – the idea was for Desktop Dungeons to remove the gender binary entirely instead of just making everyone a man. In de-emphasising sex as much as possible, we hoped that players would be able to enjoy a more gender agnostic environment in general. Some of our proudest mechanical tweaks involved removing notices and choices in particular areas. ... .Shorthands for the feminine kept crawling into our work when we weren’t paying attention – smooth skin, homogenised facial structures, evidence of makeup, you name it. Even characters who we thought would easily sidestep trouble (like the female wizard) simply looked like young, pretty women in grunge costume rather than hardboiled dungeoneers. Portraits for some species went through several drafts just to deprogram our subconscious idea of what felt normal and right.
Hang the Bankers has a set of photos from 1972 surrealist ball hosted by Marie-Hélène de Rothschild at the Château de Ferrières, with Salvador Dali in attendance. Hang the Bankers cites this as evidence of "the underlying ideology and the mind state of the occult elite," which sounds like hogwash to me. I mean, I'm all for reflexively condemning the hyper-rich, but if you're a weird shadowy billionaire aristo, better you should be spending your unimaginable riches on cool dress-up parties than tacky mega-yachts or sabotaging health care bills.
On 12/12/72 Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, member of the most powerful elite family in the world, held a Surrealist Ball at Château de Ferrières, one of the family’s gigantic mansions.
While these events are usually extremely secretive, photographs of this particular Ball surfaced on the web. In short, it is a mix of an “Eyes Wide Shut”-style masked ball mixed with a Lady Gaga-style pop video. I’m not even kidding.
Photos from a 1972 Rothschild illuminati party [Clark Kent/Hang the Bankers]
"Apologies for a couple of technical problems during that news bulletin," said BBC radio host Vic Minett, after her show played audio of a woman's screaming over a report from the murder trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius. "a few odd things sneaking in there."
The "technical glitch" at BBC Coventy & Warwickshire resulted first in canine howls, then in the screams, which played as a reporter described Pistorious's admitted shooting of Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year. The screams were followed by boos and other effects.
In Safety and Efficacy of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide-Assisted Psychotherapy for Anxiety Associated With Life-threatening Diseases, a new paper published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, a Swiss psychiatrist named Peter Gasser and his colleagues report on the first controlled trial of LSD in forty years. Gasser used LSD therapeutically to treat 12 people nearing the end of their lives, and concluded that their anxiety "went down and stayed down."
Many psychopharmacologists believe that psychedelics such as LSD have therapeutic benefits that could be realized if the strictures on them were loosened. David Nutt, the former UK government drugs czar, called the ban on psychedelics in therapeutic settings "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo". He devotes a whole chapter to psychedelics in his brilliant book on drug policy, Drugs Without the Hot Air. If you only read one book about drug policy, read that one.
Gasser's trial is positioned as a major move in the struggle to end the damage the War on Some Drugs has wrought on legitimate medicine. It used a randomized double-blind protocol to dose some dying patients (most with terminal cancer) with LSD as part of an anxiety-reduction strategy. The results were dramatic and positive. In a NYT story, some Gasser's patients relate their experiences with the therapy:
“I had what you would call a mystical experience, I guess, lasting for some time, and the major part was pure distress at all these memories I had successfully forgotten for decades,” Peter said. “These painful feelings, regrets, this fear of death. I remember feeling very cold for a long time. I was shivering, even though I was sweating. It was a mental coldness, I think, a memory of neglect.”
He was also doing something with those sensations, something he had almost never done before. He was talking about them. “It surprised me,” Peter said. “I didn’t know I was talking away until Dr. Gasser made me notice.”
After about two months of weekly therapy, the eight participants who received full doses of LSD improved by about 20 percent on standard measures of anxiety, and the four subjects who took a much weaker dose got worse. (After the trial, those patients were allowed to “cross over” and try the full dose.) Those findings held up for a year in those who have survived.
LSD, Reconsidered for Therapy [Benedict Carey/NYT]
Phil and Limor from Adafruit write, "Make your own flexible, spiky, glowing accessory using NeoPixel strip diffused by NinjaFlex flexible 3D printing filament! Magnets let you attach the spikes to anything in your wardrobe. The soft flexible enclosure holds GEMMA, the tiny microcontroller that animates the LEDs, and a rechargeable lipoly battery."
When you watch Netflix videos in the Chrome browser, the service disables Chrome's developer console, a debugging and programming tool that gives you transparency and control over what your browser is doing. The Hacker News thread explains that this is sometimes done in order to stop an attack called "Self-XSS" that primarily arises on social media sites, where it can cause a browser to leak nominally private information to third parties. But in this case, the "Self-XSS" attack Netflix is worried about is very different: they want to prevent browser owners from consciously choosing to run scripts in the Netflix window that subvert Netflix's restrictions on video.
This is the natural outflow of the pretense that "streaming" exists as a thing that is distinct from "downloading" -- the idea that you can send a stream of bytes to someone else's computer without the computer being able to store those bytes. "Streaming" is at the heart of "rental" business models like Netflix's, and there's nothing wrong with the idea of rental per se. But the only way to attain "rental" with computers is to design computers so that their owners can't give them orders that the landlords disagree with. You have to change the computer and its software so that you can't see what it's doing and can't change what it's doing.
Your browser is a portal to your whole social life, your financial life and your work life, entrusted with the most potentially compromising secrets of your life. Anything that allows third parties to make it harder for you to figure out what the browser is doing, or to prevent it from doing something you don't want, should be a non-starter. As soon as a powerful entity like Netflix comes to depend on -- and insist on -- computers that owners can't control, that company is doing something wrong. Not because rentals are bad, but because taking away owner control from computers is bad.
This is why it's such a big deal that Netflix has convinced Microsoft, Apple, and Google to build user-controlling technology into their browsers, and why it's such a big deal that Microsoft, Apple, and Google have convinced the W3C to standardize this for all devices with HTML5 interfaces. Any time we allow the discussion to be sidetracked into "How can Netflix maximize its revenue by enforcing rental terms?" we're missing the real point, which is, "How can people be sure that their browsers aren't betraying them?"
Eric sends us this site documenting the construction of a kid-sized, 2/5-scale Batpod as seen in The Dark Knight: "My friend Travisis a pretty rad maker. He successfully built a 1:4 scale electric Sherman tank for his son. And judging by the finish work of the tank, I am sure this is going to be even more killer."
The Batpod has huge tires, central mono-shock, one sided front “fork” with a spindle type of steering setup, a one sided rear swingarm, a unique laying down riding position, …. the list goes on.
Senator Joe Manchin delivered a grandstanding, technologically clueless, facepalm-inducing request to the Treasury Department to ban Bitcoin. In response, Rep Jared Polis (who proudly wears Boing Boing tee-shirts in his spare time, and rocks some snazzy duds on the floor of Congress) wrote a mock-serious request for dollar bills to be removed from circulation, pointing out that practically every objection that Manchin raised over Bitcoin applies equally well to paper money.
I write today to express my concerns about United States dollar bills. The exchange of dollar bills, including high denomination bills, is currently unregulated and has allowed users to participate in illicit activity, while also being highly subject to forgery, theft, and loss. For the reasons outlined below, I urge regulators to take immediate and appropriate action to limit the use of dollar bills.
By way of background, a physical dollar bill is a printed version of a dollar note issued by the Federal Reserve and backed by the ephemeral “full faith and credit” of the United States. Dollar bills have gained notoriety in relation to illegal transactions; suitcases full of dollars used for illegal transactions were recently featured in popular movies such as American Hustle and Dallas Buyers Club, as well as the gangster classic, Scarface, among others. Dollar bills are present in nearly all major drug busts in the United States and many abroad. According to the U.S. Department of Justice study, “Crime in the United States,” more than $1 billion in cash was stolen in 2012, of which less than 3% was recovered. The United States’ Dollar was present by the truck load in Saddam Hussein’s compound, by the carload when Noriega was arrested for drug trafficking, and by the suitcase full in the Watergate case.
Unlike digital currencies, which are carbon neutral allowing us to breathe cleaner air, each dollar bill is manufactured from virgin materials like cotton and linen, which go through extensive treatment and processing. Last year, the Federal Reserve had to destroy $3 billion worth of $100 bills after a “printing error.” Certainly this cannot be the greenest currency.
Printed pieces of paper can fit in a person’s pocket and can be given to another person without any government oversight. Dollar bills are not only a store of value but also a method for transferring that value. This also means that dollar bills allow for anonymous and irreversible transactions.
The very features of dollar bills, such as anonymous transactions, have created ubiquitous uses from drug purchases, to hit men, to prostitutes, as dollar bills are attractive to criminals who are able to disguise their actions from law enforcement. Due to the dollar bills’ anonymity, the dollar bill market has been extremely susceptible to forgers, tax fraud, criminal cartels, and armed robbers stealing millions of dollars from their legitimate owners. Anonymity, combined with a dollar bills’ ability to finalize transactions quickly, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to reverse fraudulent transactions.
Rep. Polis Asks Treasury To Ban Dollar Bills, Mocking Senator's Request To Ban Bitcoins [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]
Mack writes, "XyloVan is a roving musical mutant vehicle that our family built four years ago. Thousands of musicians, kids, Burners and amateur XyloVanists have enjoyed banging on the van, everywhere we've taken it. But its weird old heart blew a gasket last summer on the way to the playa, and we had to have it towed home. We're raising money to give it a new motor, some front-end work and general upgrades to get it back on the road, plus we're building a strobing, pulsing new lights-and-sound system for its reappearance this summer in Black Rock City, NV. Please give our Indiegogo campaign a look - we're offering some pretty neat hand-machined perks to our generous donors. Thanks!"
We also aim to give XyloVan a big makeover so it's even more of a joy for everyone to play:
* Build some innovative new instruments
* Upgrade the sound system for better clarity and beauty
* Give it a new paint job and cleaner-looking wheels
* Install a rad computer-controlled lighting system for more dazzle at night events
* Create a collapsible outer-shell to earn a Mutant Vehicle permit from Burning Man's so we can drive XyloVan everywhere on the playa to reach thousands more XyloVanists. Otherwise it has to stay put and only a few hundred people will get to play!
On Hackaday, Shenzhen demonstrates some proof-of-concept "taser-proof clothing" created by adding carbon fiber to the clothes' lining. The carbon fiber textile can be procured in a variety of forms, including upholstery fabric (58" wide, $19.50/yard) and peel-and-stick 50cm tape rolls. Shenzhen claims this will work even if the taser's prongs get to the wearer's body: "Electric current flows through the carbon tape and not through the human body. Always. Even if the taser's needle pierced the skin."
From the journal Science China: Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, February 2014.
On its 40th anniversary, iconic splatterpunk film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been restored with a new 4K transfer from the original 16mm film shot by director Tobe Hooper in 1974. A production of Dark Sky Films, the new print premieres at SXSW on Monday, March 10 with wide theatrical release over the summer.
"I haven't seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the big screen for many, many years," Hooper says. "This 40th anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The color and clarity is spectacular, displaying visual details in the film that were never before perceptible. The newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack breathes new life and energy into the film. I am very much looking forward to audiences experiencing this film as they never have before".