EzTerry's News Feeds

Content for /dev/null

Friday, 17 June

20:25

Executive vs secretary in case of spilled ketchup

Mark Frauenfelder: CNN reports that after a secretary named Jenny Amner accidentally spilled ketchup on a Richard Phillips, a senior associate at the law firm Baker & McKenzie, he sent her an email demanding £4 to pay for cleaning his trousers. His email:
"Hi Jenny. I went to a dry cleaners at lunch and they said it would cost £4 to remove the ketchup stains. If you cd let me have the cash today, that wd be much appreciated."
The secretary replied a about week-and-a-half later:
"With reference to the e-mail below, I must apologize for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother's sudden illness, death and funeral I have had more pressing issues than your £4.

"I apologize again for accidentally getting a few splashes of ketchup on your trousers. Obviously your financial need as a senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary."

She then forwarded the exchange to her friends in the firm and the message was soon ripping like wildfire through London's law community.
She wrote that she had told various partners, lawyers and trainees about his e-mail and they had offered to "do a collection" to raise the cash.

"I however declined their kind offer but should you feel the urgent need for the £4, it will be on my desk this afternoon."

Subsequently the e-mail exchange was forwarded across the legal world, with comments added questioning Phillips' generosity.


Link (via Gadgetopia)

World's Worst Excerpt -- The Least Healthy Diet: Breatharianism

Mark Frauenfelder: For the next several weeks, I'm going to post essays from my new book THE WORLD'S WORST: A Guide to the Most Disgusting, Hideous, Inept and Dangerous, People, Places and Things on Earth. (See last week's entry: "The Least Adorable Pet: Miracle Mike The Headless Chicken")

"The Least Healthy Diet: Breatharianism

If you're a vegetarian, you might feel morally superior to meat eaters. If you're a vegan, eschewing all animal products, you most likely turn up your nose at weak-willed vegetarians who succumb to cheese. Fruitarians, who consume only fruit, nuts, and seeds, are haughtier still. But at the very top of the holier-than-thou diet list are breatharians, who claim to subsist on nothing but air and light. They don't even need to drink water.

The most well-known advocate of breatharianism is Jasmuheen (nee Ellen Greve), a former businesswoman from Australia who claims she hasn't eaten any real food since 1993. (Her last meal was a falafel ball.) In her book Living on Light, the Source of Nourishment for the New Millennium, Jasmuheen writes about how "Ascended Masters" speak to her via cosmic telepathy and how she is able to draw upon invisible "pranic energy" for her sustenance. She boasts of having more than 6,000 followers. Because she doesn't eat, she says, she excretes only "rabbit-type droppings every three weeks."

Skeptics abound. On more than one occasion, reporters have discovered that Jasmuheen's house has food in it. She explains that the food is actually for her husband, Jess Ferguson, a vegan (as well as a convicted felon who served time for fraud). In one instance, an Australian journalist who was on the same flight as Jasmuheen was surprised to see an airline attendant ask the cult leader to confirm that she'd ordered a vegetarian meal. After initially denying that she had, she said, "Yes, I did, but I won't be eating it." (Perhaps she only wanted to save the vegetables from being eaten.)

In a 1997 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a reporter asked Jasmuheen if she'd eaten anything at all since starting her diet. She replied, "Maybe a few cups of tea and a glass of water, but now and then if I feel a bit bored and I want some flavor, then I will have a mouthful of whatever it is I'm wanting the flavor of. So it might be a piece of chocolate or it might be a mouthful of a cheesecake or something like that."

The reporter then asked her if she'd be willing to take a blood test to back up her claim that her DNA was changing shape from 2 strands to 12, in order to absorb more hydrogen. Jasmuheen answered, "Oh that depends. What I'd rather do is people go and have a look at the work of the Dalai Lama for example. Like in 1991--" The reporter interrupted her, asking her again why she wouldn't take the blood test, especially since the Australian Skeptics organization was offering her $30,000 if she could prove her DNA had changed. She said, "For blood test for DNA, I don't know. I'd have to really think about that one. I don't know what the relevance for it is."

In 1999 Jasmuheen agreed to undergo a challenge issued by 60 Minutes in Australia. She was confined to a hotel room and placed under a doctor's care. When she showed signs of high blood pressure, dehydration, and stress after only two days, she blamed it on air pollution. The show's producers moved her to a mountain retreat, where she said the air was much better. But after another two days, it was clear that she was ill: her speech was slow, her pupils were dilated, her pulse almost double. The doctor said Jasmuheen was so dehydrated that her kidneys were in danger of being damaged. 60 Minutes called off the experiment. Jasmuheen said it was the show's fault for putting her in a hotel next to a busy road at the beginning.

To date, three of Jasmuheen's followers have starved to death. One of them, 53-year-old Lani Morris of Melbourne, was seven days into the breatharian diet when she lost the ability to speak and the use of one arm. When Morris died three days later, Jasmuheen suggested that the woman was "not coming from a place of integrity and did not have the right motivation."

Johnny Ryan in Mad

David Pescovitz: Blog Fanfour-2 From Flog: Add JOHNNY RYAN to the list of genuinely funny cartoonists who are suddenly working for MAD MAGAZINE; PETER BAGGE is doing so as well. Johnny's first story should be in #456, a FANTASTIC 4 parody called "The FF Have A Bad Couple Of Weeks." Link

Engrish hilarity on badly bootlegged Star Wars DVD

Xeni Jardin:
Badly translated subtitles on a pirated copy of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith provide many happy moments of beverage-through-nostrils yukkage. Sample: Anakin to Obi-Wan --"I was just made by the Presbyterian Church." Link to "Backstroke of the West," as the movie's title is translated here. Hard to believe this is real, but even if the post were a hoax, it's a fun one. (Thanks, Bonnie)

Reader Comment: Paul Berger says,

I posted a similar story last week on my blog. Unfortunately I don't have a photograph--it came via an email from my mother-in-law, of all people. She wrote, "My first attempt brought up the subtitles, probably the funniest thing about the film. An attack from the rear is translated as 'he is coming into my behind'."

BadApple plugin: search and play any podcast in iTunes

Xeni Jardin: A message on Badfruit.com proclaims:

Podcast support for iTunes is here! Download the free BadApple plug-in which expands the functionality and interoperability of iTunes software. (iTunes is music software which works with iPod MP3 players.) BadApple adds interoperability to view and download podcasts directly within iTunes software. There's no need to download and learn other software programs because everything happens right in the iTunes software.

After downloading and installing BadApple, you will have a "Podcasts" link you can click on from iTunes. You can use this to browse through categories to find the Podcast you want. Each podcast has a description. Once you locate a podcast you are interested in, double clicking on the podcast will load it to your library. When you plug in your iPod the podcast will be loaded to that depending on your settings.

BadApple is free software. There is no charge to download the software or use the software.

DISCLAIMER: BadApple is NOT from the Beatles. It's also not from Apple Computer Inc. It's definitely not endorsed or approved by Apple. In fact, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want you to use BadApple.

Link.

Update: Sean Bonner points out that the app is PC-only. Its creator says, "If there's interest, a Macintosh version could be made. Send me email and let me know if you would find it useful."

As regular BoingBoing readers will recall, Steve Jobs recently demonstrated a similar feature and announced that some podcast features will be offered in the next release of iTunes later this year. Perhaps a better title would have been "ImpatientApple"? I'm not yet clear on how this little rebel app differs from what the mothership has planned (other than the fact that whatever Apple does will also be Mac-compatible).

Boing Boing reader Chris Wells says, "I wanted to point out that I discovered this in the FAQ on BadFruit.com."

"Why was BadApple created? The goal is to make iTunes and iPods interoperate with other piles of media. I'm worried that when and if Apple adds podcast support they will only list a few podcasts that they approve. Remember this is a company that sues web sites that say good things about their upcoming products - bad Apple! Podcasts are significant because they offer a wide-range of diverse topics and ideas, not just those endorsed by one company. BadApple gives you access to all podcasts, - even ones which Apple might disagree with and never list in iTunes software. "
"I guess that would be how it 'differs from the mothership,'" says Chris. "We'll see how Apple feels about this plugin when they release the next version of iTunes, I'm sure (: "

US House votes to slash UN funds

The House of Representatives votes to halve US dues to the United Nations, unless changes are made.

Congressmen probe Iraq memo

US Democrats investigate a UK memo suggesting President Bush decided on the Iraq war eight months in advance.

Golf: Trio in front at US Open

Retief Goosen, Olin Browne and Jason Gore share the lead after two punishing rounds of the US Open at Pinehurst.

Tyco's Ex-Chief and Top Aide Are Convicted of Grand Larceny

The conviction of L. Dennis Kozlowski and his deputy ends a three-year case that came to symbolize an era of corporate scandal.

MasterCard Says Security Breach Affects 40 Million Cards

The credit cards may have been exposed to fraud through a security breach at a third-party payment processing company.

North Korean Leader Signals Willingness to Resume Talks

Kim Jong Il said six-party talks could resume if the U.S. treated his nation with respect, a South Korean official said.

Guidant Will Recall Thousands of Defibrillators

Guidant said in a statement that the defibrillators had been involved in two deaths and dozens of malfunctions.

U.S. Mounts Offensive Near Syria to Cut Iraq Insurgent Routes

About 1,000 marines began the third major offensive over the last two months in Iraq's western desert frontier.

Gov. Bush Seeks New Inquiry Into Schiavo Case

Gov. Jeb Bush asked a Florida prosecutor today to investigate what he said were varying accounts of the time that had elapsed between Terri Schiavo's collapse 15 years ago and the moment her husband summoned help.

Apple The Current Fastest Growing Brand

Will Stewart writes "According to Apple News, in a recently published report, Vivaldi Partners and Forbes magazine showed Apple has increased its brand value by 38 percent in the last four years, largely on the popularity of its iPod digital media device. Vivaldi Partners estimated Apple's overall brand value for 2005 at US$5.3 billion. Google and Blackberry tie for second, while Amazon is in fourth place. The ranking was determined by taking the compound annual growth rate of each brand over a period of the last four years."

Google Summer of Code Expands

bakotaco wrote with news from the Summer of Code site: "We're Expanding the Summer of Code... After spot reviewing the applications we've received for the Summer of Code, we were struck with their high quality. As a result, we were able to increase the funds available to support 400 students, double our original number of 200. While this doesn't allow us to take all applicants, we thought that this would be a terrific thing to do for the mentoring organizations, the students, open source software and computer science."

Simple Route To Linux On The iPod

didde writes "MacWorld.com is showing users of the iPod a way to install and run Linux on their favorite portable music player. From the article: 'Imagine using your iPod and a regular old microphone to record studio-quality audio. Or sitting on a commuter train and playing Othello, Pong, Tetris, or Asteroids. All this and more is possible when you install Linux on your third-generation or earlier iPod. Best of all, one soft reset, and you're back in Apple's iPod operating system, listening to your tunes.' Sounds good to me. Now if I could just find my firewire connector..."

Microsoft ARC 05

Bloggers Test New MS China Filter

earthbound kid writes "Rebecca MacKinnon at Global Voices Online has set up a test of Microsoft's censored blogs on MSN China (see previous Slashdot story) with screenshots. It seems that MSN rejected titling a new blog 'I love freedom of speech, human rights, and democracy' (in Chinese) because 'The title must not contain prohibited language, such as profanity.' MacKinnon managed to use a workaround and got a pro-freedom blog up, for the moment."

Cassette Tapes On The Wane

jonerik writes "The BBC has an article on the current status of the once-popular cassette tape in the UK and elsewhere. It's been a long climb up and a long fall down for the audio format introduced by Dutch electronics giant Philips in 1963. Having sold 83 million units in the UK at their 1989 peak, cassettes sold just 900,000 units in the UK last year. And yet the cassette soldiers on in the West in niche applications - particularly in the audio book market - and in other countries where CD and MP3 penetration hasn't been as extensive. From the article: 'Keith Joplin, a Director of Research at the International Federation of Phonographic Industries, said that Turkey still sells 88 million cassettes a year, India 80 million, and that cassettes account for 50% of sales in these countries. In Saudi Arabia, it is 70%.'"

Codex

ijones writes "Codex, by Lev Grossman is a novel about the advancement of basic, every-day technology. It reflects upon computer game technologies of the present day and upon the book-production technologies of previous centuries. Grossman links them together with obvious affection and in interesting and mysterious ways." Read on for the rest of Jones' review.

Microsoft 05 Webcast 3

18:55

Descent into the advice literature

grano In this week's mail: two observations from Stanford student Tommy Grano on the perils of the advice literature on grammar, style, and usage: one illustrating Do As I Say, Not As I Do, and one illustrating the Ad...

NASA Chief Says Schedule for Shuttles Is Unrealistic

Dr. Michael D. Griffin said that there was no way the space shuttle fleet would be able to complete the 28 flights now planned before its retirement in 2010.

Hybrid Taxis Encounter Catch-22 of Regulation

New York sold taxi medallions for cabs powered by natural gas or by a combination of gasoline and electricity, but never approved alternative-fuel vehicles for use as taxicabs.

Briefly: 10.4.2 due next week, Mac mini update not expected soon

Several sources indicate that the Mac OS X 10.4.2 update will arrive sometime next week. In recent days Apple has seeded developers with build 8C32 followed by 8C33. Meanwhile, sources indicate that a revision to the Mac mini is not expected soon.

16:15

Johnny Ryan in Mad

David Pescovitz: From Flog:
Blog Fanfour-1 Add JOHNNY RYAN to the list of genuinely funny cartoonists who are suddenly working for MAD MAGAZINE; PETER BAGGE is doing so as well. Johnny's first story should be in #456, a FANTASTIC 4 parody called "The FF Have A Bad Couple Of Weeks."
Link

Engrish hilarity on badly bootlegged Star Wars DVD

Xeni Jardin:
Badly translated subtitles on a pirated copy of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith provide many happy moments of beverage-through-nostrils yukkage. Sample: Anakin to Obi-Wan --"I was just made by the Presbyterian Church." Link to "Backstroke of the West," as the movie's title is translated here. Hard to believe this is real, but even if the post were a hoax, it's a fun one. (Thanks, Bonnie)

BadApple plugin: search and play any podcast in iTunes

Xeni Jardin: A message on Badfruit.com proclaims:

Podcast support for iTunes is here! Download the free BadApple plug-in which expands the functionality and interoperability of iTunes software. (iTunes is music software which works with iPod MP3 players.) BadApple adds interoperability to view and download podcasts directly within iTunes software. There's no need to download and learn other software programs because everything happens right in the iTunes software.

After downloading and installing BadApple, you will have a "Podcasts" link you can click on from iTunes. You can use this to browse through categories to find the Podcast you want. Each podcast has a description. Once you locate a podcast you are interested in, double clicking on the podcast will load it to your library. When you plug in your iPod the podcast will be loaded to that depending on your settings.

BadApple is free software. There is no charge to download the software or use the software.

DISCLAIMER: BadApple is NOT from the Beatles. It's also not from Apple Computer Inc. It's definitely not endorsed or approved by Apple. In fact, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want you to use BadApple.

Link.

Update: Sean Bonner points out that the app is PC-only.

And as regular BoingBoing readers will recall, Steve Jobs recently demonstrated a similar feature and announced that some podcast features will be offered in the next release of iTunes later this year. Perhaps a better title would have been "ImpatientApple"? I'm not yet clear on how this little rebel app differs from what the mothership has planned (other than the fact that whatever Apple does will also be Mac-compatible).

Boing Boing reader Chris Wells says, "I wanted to point out that I discovered this in the FAQ on BadFruit.com."

"Why was BadApple created? The goal is to make iTunes and iPods interoperate with other piles of media. I'm worried that when and if Apple adds podcast support they will only list a few podcasts that they approve. Remember this is a company that sues web sites that say good things about their upcoming products - bad Apple! Podcasts are significant because they offer a wide-range of diverse topics and ideas, not just those endorsed by one company. BadApple gives you access to all podcasts, - even ones which Apple might disagree with and never list in iTunes software. "
"I guess that would be how it 'differs from the mothership,'" says Chris. "We'll see how Apple feels about this plugin when they release the next version of iTunes, I'm sure (: "

Neal Stephenson: Why Star Wars doesn't suck

Cory Doctorow: Neal Stephenson's NYTimes op-ed talks about how the Star Wars cycle -- in particular, the execrable first trilogy (Teresa Nielsen Hayden suggests getting the DVD, watching it in Italian and pretending it's opera, but that only works if you don't speak Italian, otherwise, you'll still have to suffer through the "dialog") -- is better than it seems, when taken as a whole with all the geeky supplementary material in the games, comics, TV shows, toons, and other sources.

The Internet, it seems, has made it possible to extract all the non-pablum elements from Hollywood blockbusters and stick them online, so that the movies are friendly to civilians, but geeks can enjoy them by logging in.

If you have watched these cartoons - or if you've enjoyed some of the half-dozen "Clone Wars" novels, flipped through the graphic novels, read the short stories or played the video game - you will know that the battle cruiser in question is owned by the New Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which is backed by the Trade Federation, a commercial guild that is peeved about taxation of trade routes.

And that is not the only aspect of "Episode III" that you will see in a different light. If you watch the movie without doing the prep work, General Grievous - who is supposed to be one of the most formidable bad guys in the entire "Star Wars" cycle - will seem like something that just fell out of a Happy Meal.

Likewise, many have been underwhelmed by the performance of Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Only if you've seen the "Clone Wars" cartoons will you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He's trying to swim in air.

Link (Thanks, Marc!)

Red Cross wants all its volunteers' copyrights and patents

Cory Doctorow: Every volunteer for the American Red Cross is required to sign on to an agreement that covers things like proper conduct, confidentiality, and includes a requirement for all volunteers to sign over all copyright/trademark/patent rights in any work-related writing, art and inventions come up with during their term, and for a full year afterward. Why the hell does the Red Cross need to own the copyrights in the work-related blog postings you make for a year after you stop spending your free evenings handing out cookies to blood-donors? If you write a novel and include some real-life details gleaned from volunteering in a disaster-relief efforts, does the Red Cross really deserve to take all rights to it?
Disclosure and Ownership of Intellectual Property. I (i) shall promptly and fully disclose to Red Cross any and all Intellectual Property, (ii) agree that all Intellectual Property shall be owned by Red Cross, (iii) agree to and do hereby assign, transfer and convey to Red Cross the entire right, title and interest in and to all Intellectual Property, (iv) will execute and deliver any and all documents, take all actions and render any and all assistance reasonably requested by Red Cross, during or at any time after Volunteer Service, to establish Red Cross’ ownership of, or to enable Red Cross to obtain patents to or register copyrights of, any Intellectual Property, and (v) acknowledge that all Intellectual Property that is copyrightable subject matter and that qualifies as a "work made for hire" shall be automatically owned by Red Cross. In the event Red Cross is unable for any reason whatsoever to secure my signature to any document required to apply for or execute any patent, copyright, or other applications with respect to Intellectual Property, I hereby irrevocably appoint Red Cross and its authorized officers and agents as my agents and attorneys-in-fact to execute and file any such application and to do all other acts to further the prosecution and issuance of patents, copyrights, or other rights with respect to Intellectual Property with the same legal force and effect as if executed by me. As a reminder, Intellectual Property shall only include intellectual property created by me (y) in the course of Volunteer Service or using Red Cross time, equipment, information or materials, and (z) within one (1) year after termination of Volunteer Service and relating directly to work done during Volunteer Service.
80K PDF Link (Thanks, Bruce!)

Tyco two guilty of stealing $150m

Former Tyco chief executive Dennis Kozlowski and finance chief Mark Swartz are found guilty of stealing more than $150m from the company.

9/11 art project sparks NY anger

A US artist re-enacts the deaths of 9/11 victims in a photographic project which creates outrage in New York.

Tyco's Ex-Chief and Top Aide Are Convicted of Grand Larceny

The conviction of L. Dennis Kozlowski and his deputy brings an end to a three-year case that came to symbolize an era of corporate greed and scandal.

Turnout Is Key Issue as Iranians Vote for Next President

Iran's campaign season was defined by moderate, reform based platforms and yet was also marred by extraordinary violence.

U.S. Mounts Offensive Near Iraq-Syria Border

About 1,000 marines began the third major offensive over the last two months in Iraq's western desert frontier.

House G.O.P. Rebuffs Bush on Plan for U.N. Dues

The House narrowly approved a bill today that would withhold half the United States' dues to the United Nations unless the organization adopted significant internal changes.

Most Americans Want Gov't To Make Internet Safer

aicrules writes "Despite the constant prattle of privacy groups and individual privacy advocated, according to a poll reported on by CNN most Americans want the government to be heavily involved in securing the Internet. They want to eat their cake too, though, as those polled also don't trust the governmental bodies charged with such security. They also found that more people trust Microsoft with security. From the article, 'I don't think the public knows what it wants Congress to do, but it wants Congress to do something,...They don't have a lot of confidence that Congress will do the right thing.'"

Your Digital Photos Are Too Professional

ScentCone writes "AP's technology writer Brian Bergstein reports that your 8 megapixel camera, and lukewarm+ lens/Photoshop skills may keep you from getting over the counter image printing services. Professional photographers have successfully sued processors (like Wal-Mart) for reproducing their digital works without permission. Clerks are now being told to deny print orders for some work that looks too good. Talented amateurs are having to jump through hoops, present documents, and otherwise cajole teenage cashiers into taking their orders. No doubt one successful suit costs more than a thousand denied amateurs' orders, but sheesh. On the other hand, pro wedding photographers depend mightily on the income derived from reproducing their work, and it will take time for things to evolve to the point where clients are willing to pay a lot more up front in exchange for wider image rights after the fact. There's no well-supported digital equivalent to a negative (as reasonable proof of ownership), so retailers are defensively resorting to near paranoia to stay out of court."

Neal Stephenson on Star Wars in the NYT

SnapShot writes "Neal Stephenson has an editorial in the New York Times about the difference between the old Star Wars and the new Star Wars, and the difference between geeking out and vegging out. Oh, and computer scientists and engineers are the Jedi of the U.S." From the article: "Likewise, many have been underwhelmed by the performance of Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Only if you've seen the "Clone Wars" cartoons will you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He's trying to swim in air."

Microsoft ARC 05

Dr Who Rolls On

derek_farn writes "It looks like us lucky Brits will be getting a Dr Who christmas special, plus a third series has been commissioned. Those of you who get their news from the BBC web site will know that the current Dr Who, Christopher Eccleston, left after the first series and was replaced by the actor who recently played Casanova in a mini-series (not quite the same as the women wearing lycra in Star Trek, but we Brits are a bit more reserved)."

Consumers Prefer Movies At Home

Ubergrendle writes "A poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Associated Press and AOL confirmed that 73% of movie viewers prefer to watch movies at home rather than at a theater. This article comes on the heels of a consistently poor box office this year, even despite the presence of the new Star Wars film. Despite this demand for home viewing, only 5% admitted to downloading a movie from the internet."

Big Retailers Timid About Selling Linux Boxen

RollWaves75 writes "Jay Lyman reports in IT Manager's Journal that major Linux retailers like Wal-Mart, CompUSA, Fry's and Best Buy are being timid and waiting to see how a small, Midwest-based chain called Micro Center fares in selling Linux software. Turns out that Micro Center not only is out-selling Wal-Mart in Linux systems, it is taking the bold step to have Linux-knowledgeable clerks and trained sales support for customers like you and me." From the article: "[Kevin Carmony] described three levels of mainstream retail Linux: Wal-Mart, which provides no sales support, only offering its Linux machines online; Fry's, where Linux is viewed as a loss leader on the ultra low end; and Micro Center, which is only carrying Linspire Linux at this point, but is behind Linspire's in-store training for reps, Micro Center Marketing Communications Manager Ed Lukens told ITMJ in an email. He said the chain, which is selling boxed and pre-installed Linspire 5.0 desktops and notebooks, will promote the Linux systems with offers through its direct mail pieces."

Microsoft 05 Webcast 1

12:15

Claymation as telepresence

David Pescovitz: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University believe that in a few decades, three-dimensional physical avatars of ourselves could be created for teleconferencing. A motion capture system on one end would control a nanotech-enabled telerobot on the other end. According to professors Todd Mowry and Seth Goldstein, the idea was inspired by claymation. From the BBC News (photo with article is incorrectly captioned as Mowry but is actually Goldstein):
Wallace-And-Gromit Images Wallace-And-Gromit-01"When you watch something created by claymation, it is a real object and it looks like its moving itself. That's something like the idea we're doing... in our case, the idea is that you have computation in the 'clay', as though the clay can move itself.

"So if it was a dog, and you want the dog to move, it will actually move itself. But it is a physical object in front of you - it's not just a picture or hologram or something like that..."

Professor Goldstein has envisioned that, eventually, the objects will be built with "nano-dust" - tiny objects that can be programmed to bind to each other and move - but currently they are trying to build at a much larger scale, working with objects the size of table-tennis balls.
Link

Fantagraphics blog

David Pescovitz: Galleryimages Spiritofglendale Fantagraphics Books--one of the world's best publishers of comix including works by Jim Woodring, R. Crumb, Dan Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware, Roberta Gregory, Johnny Ryan, and zillions of other greats--has launched a blog. Legendary Fantagraphics owners Gary Groth and Kim Thompson are contributing too! Flog is "is intended as a direct conduit from Gary and me (and Eric and Greg), of news, opinions, revelations, and whatnot." If you have any interest in underground comix or illustration, this is essential RSS. Link (via Drawn!)

More copyright for records is bad: Times of London

Cory Doctorow: James sez, "David Rowan has written a good op-ed piece in the Time arguing against the extention of recording copyrights in the UK."
The music business, in the guise of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), has decided otherwise. The IFPI claims that the "huge disparity" in copyright terms with the US makes it "hard to do business" here -- funnily enough, Bono used the same argument when the old US system offered less protection than in Europe. You may have heard its heartfelt appeals for social justice: Kenney Jones, of The Who, protesting that extended royalties could usefully pay the school fees; Sir Cliff Richard, furious to be deprived of income "simply because I have outlived the copyright on my sound recordings".

Please don't tease. Such half-baked arguments owe more to the short-term financial pressures facing the perma-tanned hipsters running the record labels. They are wilfully ignoring the vital creative role of the public domain in reinvigorating our common culture. Had they been genuinely innovative over the past decade -- beyond discovering Crazy Frog and "girl power" -- the moguls would have noticed that their industry's greatest injections of energy have originated not within their own well-cushioned empires but in the public domain. Remember their aversion to MP3 downloads, now a vast corporate revenue stream? Or the copyright-breaching "mash-ups" -- unauthorised combinations of existing music samples mixed by DJs -- that first attracted music industry writs, and then were worked into Kylie's routine?

Link (Thanks, James!)

California hit by fourth tremor

The fourth earthquake in a week shakes the US West Coast, but experts say such activity is not unusual.

US deficit widens to record high

The US current account deficit, the measure of trade and capital flows in and out of the country, hits a new high.

America's generous aid to Africa

BBC North America business correspondent Stephen Evans says that Americans argue that they are generous in their contributions to Africa.

North Korean Leader Signals Willingness to Resume Talks

Kim Jong Il said today that the nation was ready to resume six-party talks, provided the U.S. treated it with respect, according to the South Korean government.

Iranians Vote After a Campaign of Violence and Moderation

Iran's campaign season was defined by moderate, reform based platforms and yet was also marred by extraordinary violence.

Cosmic Struggles of Cultural Proportions

With an emphasis on an eternal struggle between equally matched forces of darkness and light, "Star Wars" and "Batman Begins" suggest a kind of pop-culture Manichaeism.

Sony's New Nagging Copy Protection

bort27 writes "You can put away your Sharpies, because Sony has launched a new CD copy protection scheme that is actually designed to be easily cracked: 'The copy-protection technology is...far from ironclad. Apple Macintosh users currently face no restrictions at all. What's more, if users go to a Web site to complain about the lack of iPod compatibility, Sony BMG will send them an email with a back door measure on how to work around the copy protection.'"

Nanotech Trojan Horse That Kills Cancer

An anonymous reader writes "University of Michigan scientists have created the nanotechnology equivalent of a Trojan horse to smuggle a powerful chemotherapeutic drug inside tumor cells - increasing the drug's cancer-killing activity and reducing its toxic side effects." From the article: "The drug delivery vehicle used by U-M scientists is a manmade polymer molecule called a dendrimer. Less than five nanometers in diameter, these dendrimers are small enough to slip through tiny openings in cell membranes. One nanometer equals one-billionth of a meter, which means it would take 100,000 nanometers lined up side-by-side to equal the diameter of a human hair."

Linux For Losers According To De Raadt

elohim writes "Theo has some scathing comments about Linux in his new interview with Forbes Magazine. From the article: 'It's terrible...Everyone is using it, and they don't realize how bad it is. And the Linux people will just stick with it and add to it rather than stepping back and saying, "This is garbage and we should fix it."'"

Microsoft 05 Webcast 3

UK Critical Structures Targeted by Trojan Attacks

ElGanzoLoco writes "The UK's National Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre is reporting that key british infrastructures (government, telecom, transports, banks among others) are under attack by specific, targeted e-mail trojans. According to their report (PDF), 'the emails use social engineering to appear credible, with subject lines often referring to news articles that would be of interest to the recipient. In fact they are "spoofed", making them appear to originate from trusted contacts, news agencies or Government departments.'. The attackers are apparently trying to gather sensitive or secret data. While the NISCC has not been able to precisely trace the attacks' origins, most IPs seem to trace back to Far-East Asia."

WebObjects Now Free With Tiger

Reverberant writes "Macworld reports that has Apple released WebObjects as a free application. From $50,000 to free, the software used to build the iTunes Music Store and Dell's original online store is now available for free to Tiger users via Xcode 2.1." From the article: " The software has historical importance to Apple-watchers: it was originally released in March 1996 - but not by Apple. In fact, WebObjects was developed by NeXT Computer and became Apple's software only when that company acquired Steve Jobs' second computer company later that year. While not software on the tip of every Mac users tongue, WebObjects sits behind several significant implementations - the most famous current example being Apple's iTunes Music Store."

IBM Promoting POWER Systems

A reader writes:"IBM has launched a Open Power Project to increase awareness around its Open Power product line for Linux.. The site includes technical information, forums and provides the ability to tinker w/ Open Power platforms at the University of Augsburg and Peking University. Both Universities are hosting POWER5-based servers and are providing free SSH account access to the Open Source development community. There are rumors of additional Universities to come. They are also hosting special showings of the War of the Worlds in San Francisco and NYC. Looks like there are a couple of hundred pairs of free tickets to each showing on a first come first served basis to those that register."

Microsoft ARC 05

08:05

Vintage circus sideshow poster gallery

Cory Doctorow: This is a spectacular gallery of vintage European circus posters -- dwarves, limbless people, hairy, tall, fat and thin people -- with gorgeous artwork and lettering. You can order prints, too. Link (via We Make Money Not Art)

Disneyland rides must be as safe as buses

Cory Doctorow: Ernest sez, "Disneyland (and other thrill ride providers) have been fighting being forced to meet the same safety standards as buses and trains. Yesterday, the California Supreme Court ruled against them."
The 4-3 decision, which found that thrill rides could be classified as common carriers,' said operators must use 'the utmost care and diligence' for the safety of riders rather than mere 'reasonable care.'
Link (Thanks, Ernest!)

Stross's magnificent ACCELERANDO as a free CC download

Cory Doctorow: Charlie Stross's brilliant novel Accelerando is available as a free Creative Commons download! This novel collects and bridges all of his Hugo-nominated Manfred Macx stories, published over the last several years in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Charlie is a wild talent, and he writes like the love-child of Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson and Hunter S Thompson. Once you start this book, you won't be able to stop.
Manfred's on the road again, making strangers rich.

It's a hot summer Tuesday, and he's standing in the plaza in front of the Centraal Station with his eyeballs powered up and the sunlight jangling off the canal, motor scooters and kamikaze cyclists whizzing past and tourists chattering on every side. The square smells of water and dirt and hot metal and the fart-laden exhaust fumes of cold catalytic converters; the bells of trams ding in the background, and birds flock overhead. He glances up and grabs a pigeon, crops the shot, and squirts it at his weblog to show he's arrived. The bandwidth is good here, he realizes; and it's not just the bandwidth, it's the whole scene. Amsterdam is making him feel wanted already, even though he's fresh off the train from Schiphol: He's infected with the dynamic optimism of another time zone, another city. If the mood holds, someone out there is going to become very rich indeed.

He wonders who it's going to be.

* * *

Manfred sits on a stool out in the car park at the Brouwerij 't IJ, watching the articulated buses go by and drinking a third of a liter of lip-curlingly sour gueuze. His channels are jabbering away in a corner of his head-up display, throwing compressed infobursts of filtered press releases at him. They compete for his attention, bickering and rudely waving in front of the scenery. A couple of punks – maybe local, but more likely drifters lured to Amsterdam by the magnetic field of tolerance the Dutch beam across Europe like a pulsar – are laughing and chatting by a couple of battered mopeds in the far corner. A tourist boat putters by in the canal; the sails of the huge windmill overhead cast long, cool shadows across the road. The windmill is a machine for lifting water, turning wind power into dry land: trading energy for space, sixteenth-century style. Manfred is waiting for an invite to a party where he's going to meet a man he can talk to about trading energy for space, twenty-first-century style, and forget about his personal problems.

He's ignoring the instant messenger boxes, enjoying some low-bandwidth, high-sensation time with his beer and the pigeons, when a woman walks up to him, and says his name: "Manfred Macx?"

He glances up. The courier is an Effective Cyclist, all wind-burned smooth-running muscles clad in a paean to polymer technology: electric blue lycra and wasp yellow carbonate with a light speckling of anti collision LEDs and tight-packed air bags. She holds out a box for him. He pauses a moment, struck by the degree to which she resembles Pam, his ex-fiance.

Link (Thanks, Charlie!)

Bank of America invests in China

Bank of America pays $3bn for a 9% stake in China Construction Bank, becoming the latest foreign bank to buy into China.

US winemaker drops bid for Allied

The world's largest winemaker Constellation drops plans to bid for rival Allied Domecq, clearing the way for Pernod Ricard to take over Allied.

Disneyland in China Offers a Soup and Lands in a Stew

Hong Kong Disneyland's plans to serve shark's fin soup, a Chinese favorite for two centuries, have drawn an outraged response from environmentalists.

G.I. Is Charged in Iraq Deaths of 2 Superiors

The United States military charged a New York Army National Guard member with murdering his commanding officers last week at a base in Tikrit.

Corsair to Continue Receiving Samsung TCCD Memory

Doggie Fizzle writes "Bigbruin.com has a review of some Corsair XMS TWINX1024-4400C25PT DDR, but info on the future of TCCD may be the most interesting part. TCCD chips are well known for their proven overclocking, but the buzz is that Samsung has stopped making TCCD chips, and that we will no longer see them on the market once the current supply runs out. Not true according to Corsair. According to a source quoted in the review, Corsair will soon be the only source of TCCD chips."

DOJ Wants ISPs to Retain All Customer Records

doubledoh writes "CNET reports that the Department of Justice is 'quietly shopping around' the idea of requiring ISP's to retain all data of their customer's online activities for at least several months. The SEC already mandates that publicly traded firms retain all company emails for at least 2 years, but it looks like John Q. Public may also soon be subject to similar Constitutional violations. Big Brother, here we come."

03:55

What book counterfeiting costs

Cory Doctorow: With all this talk of ebook "piracy" it's pretty interesting to read about some of the nitty-gritty of actual book counterfeiting, the kind that results in high-quality copies of physical books that are easily mistaken for the authorized items:
After numerous calls to Kinkos and awkward conversations with vanity presses and POD publishers (kids, and adults, should not try this at home), The Book Standard staffers determined that a potential Potter pirate would have to team up with a particularly unscrupulous—or clueless—printer in order to produce a significant number of illegal copies of a book. One estimate suggested that 10,000 copies of a book about the expected size of Harry Potter—672 pages—could be printed for less than $30,000, which puts the cost per book at $3.00. Shipping and handling is another matter, but could be figured at 10% of the production cost. Sell each copy at $10, and your criminal entrepreneur is raking in approximately a 200% profit.
Link (via Make Blog)

Homebrew baby-wipes with your table-saw

Cory Doctorow: For parents with table-saws: converting a roll of paper towels to a roll of baby-wiped through judicious application of shop tools and a water/soap/oil mix.
The first thing that must be done is cut the roll of paper towels in half. I've tried doing this with serrated knives or hand saws, but I've found that they either squash the roll or produce a very ragged, chewed-up end. The best solution I have tried is the table saw. A band saw would probably do as well, but I don't have one to test on. First, put on your safety glasses, then raise up the blade as high as it will go. Then, with the plastic wrapper still on the roll, cut the roll down the center. You will probably have to spin the roll to cut all the way through....

Now, a box of 384 premade wipes costs around $10. A bulk package of 8 paper towel rolls costs around $5, and makes somewhere around 900 wipes. So the former runs around 2.6 cents per wipe, while the latter is about 0.6 cents per wipe. Plus you have the intangibles, like a personal feeling of accomplishment and the fact that you get to use the table saw.

Link (via Make Blog)

Mass-deletion art show on Saturday in LA

Cory Doctorow: This Saturday, Monochrom (crazy Austrian net-artists) continue their rampage across the West Coast with "Experience The Experience Of A Magnetism Party" at Los Angeles's Machine Project:
Accompanied by contemporary alternative mainstream rhythms and using several heavy-duty neodym magnets, monochrom will delete all the data carriers that can be found. Naturally the public is invited to bring data carriers themselves.

The destruction of magnetic storage media is a form of destruction that can reasonably be called unspectacular. But it is important. Our society collects and collects and collects. The hard drives are full. However, we can also dispense with the bourgeois-humanist criticism of the "information flood", this maelstrom that is said to attack the printed word. The Magnetism Party is therefore an attempt to actively come to terms with one aspect of the information society that is almost completely ignored by our epistemological machinery.

Delete is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Time/place: June 18, 8 PM, Machine Project, LA Link

HOWTO Stream from iTunes to your mobile phone (without Apple's permission)

Cory Doctorow: DittyBot is a script for OS X that uses a clever combination of mobile email and VoIP to stream music from your iTunes collection to your cellphone. Using your phone, email the title/artist info for a song in your iTunes library to DittyBot, which is running on your Mac, pulling down mail every minute. DittyBot receives the request, calls you with Skype, and plays the song back to you over voice-over-IP using iTunes. Wow.
You send a text message from your mobile phone to your POP email account. Your text message should contain the keywords of a song title (and possibly an artist name) that you want to hear. DittyBot finds that email (he checks Mail every 45 seconds) and copies the song name into a text file. The song name is then copied into iTunes and a playlist is created from your search. Next, DittyBot loads Skype (the internet telephony app) and begins calling your mobile phone. Your mobile phone rings and when you pick it up, you should hear your song start playing in all its compressed glory. DittyBot will play your selection to you over your phone until you hang up. Mind you, this all should happen within 1 minute of sending your song request (depending on the speed of your POP server). Sometimes it's even quicker!
Link (via Make Blog)

Bands in matching outfits gallery

Cory Doctorow: Gallery of identically-dressed bands. I wish more musicians would wear matching outfits these days. Even KISS had a rudimentary uniform! Link (via Lawgeek)

Update: Paula points out that the images on HeySuburbia, linked above, were sourced from Omodern, Nyheter.

Brazil minister quits government

A top minister in Brazil's government resigns following a series of corruption allegations.

US officers 'murdered by soldier'

The US military charges a soldier with murdering two officers in Iraq whose deaths were first blamed on a rebel attack.

US backs UN council expansion

The US is set to back a partial expansion of the UN Security Council, allowing in at least two new permanent members.

Bush's Support on Major Issues Tumbles in Poll

Pessimistic about Iraq and skeptical about Social Security reform, Americans are in a season of political discontent.

Questions, Bitterness and Exile for Queens Girl in Terror Case

The story of how a 16-year-old Muslim girl was identified as a potential terrorist is still shrouded in government secrecy.

Flash, Dash and Now, Art

Thanks to the Dreamland Artists Club, sign painting is revived, and so is Coney Island's Boardwalk.

Firefox Faces Trademark Issues

daria42 writes "The Debian development community is currently hotly debating whether the Mozilla Foundation's strict trademarks policy violates Debian's social contract. However, in a twist, it appears Mozilla has not received approval for the Firefox trademarks yet, and the Firefox name may already be taken in the UK and Germany. The foundation has not applied for the Thunderbird trademark anywhere yet."

Microsoft 05 Webcast 1

CA State Offers To Prepare Simple Tax Returns

Makarand writes "California is ready to roll out a program for taxpayers where the state will offer to fill out their tax forms for them if they are simple enough. Taxpayers will merely have to go online, download and review the completed forms prepared for them and confirm their return. This program is supposed to save money for the state, reduce tax related headaches for many and bring into the tax system those who are not paying any taxes currently. The state will take information it already receives on W-2 wage statements, put it in the right boxes on the tax return, and do the math."

02:45

The case of the mysterious vanishing [i]

In yesterday's NYT Fashion and Style section, there's an article by Ruth La Ferla on the rise, fall and rise of Oribe Canales. He's clearly a hairdresser, and apparently -- both by name and by various clues in the article...

City Council's Web Sites Aid Speaker's Quest for Mayor

Web sites that set forth City Council speaker Gifford Miller's views are paid for with taxpayers' funds, serving to heighten his profile as he pursues his mayoral bid.

Thursday, 16 June

23:45

Bacteria blamed for Bermuda Triangle

David Pescovitz: Scientists at Cardiff University are studying whether bacteria that thrive in the high pressures of deep ocean sediments could be a source of sustainable energy. Some of the bacteria spew methane that accumulates in massive fields of ice-like "methane hydrates." Methane hydrates might also be the secret behind an old mystery. From the press release:
Triangle One theory now suggests that when the covering of "methane ice" which exists over much of the seabed of the Bermuda Triangle becomes unstable; this causes instability of the sea and an explosive mixture of air and methane above. Any ships or planes travelling over the area could sink or catch fire.

"So ancient, deep-sediment bacteria may be a key to sustainable energy in the future and to explaining a few disasters," said Professor (R. John) Parkes.
Link

Bad grammar (and spelling) at Coney Island

Mark Frauenfelder: Archivefiles Images Coney4-1 Mark Hurst points us to this "crime spree" of bad grammar on the signs at Coney Island.
Link

Picture 1-8 Reader comment: "Don't forget fun for the 'hole' family."
Link

Mississippi defendant falls ill

A man accused of the murders of three US civil rights activists in 1964 is taken to hospital during his trial.

Golf: US duo in Open lead

Olin Browne and Rocco Mediate are the surprise leaders after the first round of the US Open.

Football: Brazil demolish Greece

Brazil brush aside Greece 3-0 in their Confederations Cup Group B game.

Football: Mexico beat Japan

Goals from Zinha and Jose Fonseca guide Mexico to a 2-1 win over Japan.

Chechen 'killed Forbes writer'

Russia names a fugitive Chechen rebel as the mastermind behind the murder of journalist Paul Klebnikov.

Bush's Support on Major Issues Tumbles in Poll

Increasingly pessimistic about Iraq and skeptical about President Bush's plan for Social Security, Americans are in a season of political discontent.

Questions, Bitterness and Exile for Queens Girl in Terror Case

The story of how a 16-year-old Muslim girl was identified as a potential suicide bomber is still shrouded in government secrecy.

Many Still Seek One Final Say on Ending Life

Interest in living wills has surged in the aftermath of the fierce nationwide battle over the fate of Terri Schiavo.

Iran Ends a Campaign Mixing Violence and Moderation

Iran's campaign season was defined by moderate, reform based platforms and yet was also marred by extraordinary violence.

The Photographer's Eye, Transformed by His Hands

The National Gallery of Art offers a beautiful and subtly morbid show of the photographer's obsessively manicured still lifes and portraits.

Sunnis to Accept Offer of a Role in Constitution

The agreement was a step forward in Iraq's political process, which has been mired in arguments between Shiite and Sunni Arabs.

Viewing Files on the Web Considered Possession?

Packet Pusher writes "A Georgia lawyer is taking a case to appeals court to prove that the mere act of viewing a website does not constitute possession of the materials that were automatically cached on your hard drive." While the case in question involves pornographic photos, the implications of such a declaration could reach far further.

Looking at a Martian Aurora Borealis

mike_1138 writes "According to new research, 'The Martian auroras differ from those on Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune...' I've seen the Borealis here on Earth, and they're beautiful. I can't imagine what they must look like in a Martian night."

Microsoft 05 Webcast 3

Hackers, Meet Microsoft

Mz6 writes "The random chatter of several hundred Microsoft engineers filled the cavernous executive briefing center recently at the company's sprawling campus outside Seattle. Within minutes after their meeting was convened, however, the hall became hushed. Hackers had successfully lured a Windows laptop onto a malicious wireless network. 'It was just silent,' said Stephen Toulouse, a program manager in Microsoft's security unit. 'You couldn't hear anybody breathe.' The demo was part of an extraordinary two days in which outsiders were invited into the heart of the Windows empire for the express purpose of exploiting flaws in Microsoft computing systems. The event, which Microsoft has not publicized, was dubbed 'Blue Hat' -- a reference to the widely known 'Black Hat' security conference, tweaked to reflect Microsoft's corporate color."

19:35

Battelle's FM Publishing closes funding round

Xeni Jardin: _Wow_. There are angels, and then there are angels. Congrats, John!
I'm proud to announce that FM has closed an angel round of financing featuring an extraordinary lineup of investors. Omidyar Network led the round, with The New York Times Company and Mitchell Kapor, Andrew Anker, Mike Homer, and Tim O'Reilly also participating.
Link

Conspiracy theory of the day: Dell Laptop with built-in keylogger <font color="red">(Update: HOAX)</font>

Mark Frauenfelder:

Reader comment: Marc Hedlund presents the best argument for this thing being a hoax: "A search for the name of the FOIA officer in the letter turns up this letter, which uses the same logo and the same address as the one in the 'keylogger' story. Note also that the 'file number' is the *same* on the two letters. It looks to me like the keylogger poster just overlaid new text in the body of the letter." Link

I'm not sure what to make of this, really. This website has a report by an anonymous person who says he bought a new Dell laptop and discovered what he claims is a "keyboard logger" -- a chip that stores keystrokes. He says he called Dell's tech support and asked them about it:

"they said, and I quote, 'The intregrated service tag identifier is there for assisting customers in the event of lost or misplaced personal information.' He then hung up."
He then call the police, who told him to call the Department of Homeland Security:
"they told me to submit a Freedom of Information Act request. This is what I got:" (Click on thumbnails for enlargement)
Wtf Lol Files Homelandletter
Is this a hoax? The page seems to be the only accessible page on the site (www.chromance.de), which has a German top level domain. Link (Thanks, Rev!)

Update: Phil Torrone says: "I did an investi-MAKE-ion. I think the keylogger thing is a hoax. the images from the site are from here. The memo/letter thing of course looks fakey too.

"I think this is far scarier." (This points to an article that says the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into making ISPs store "records of e-mail, browsing or chat-room activity months after ISPs ordinarily would have deleted the logs -- if they were ever kept in the first place.")

Reader comment: Tian says: "The letter accompanied with the story about Dell laptop's keylogger is fake as well. If you do a search for dept. of homeland security's logo, it is a blue colour circular logo with an eagle in it. The one on the fake letter is a five-pointed star, which is commonly used for Sheriff's office." Link

Earthquake in LA

Xeni Jardin: Holy shiznit, I just felt a fairly strong quake here in Hollywood.

Update: here's the data: Link. Looks like there were actually several right after each other, one two point something, one three point something, the other 5.3, all centered roughly 70 miles east of downtown LA. There's been a lot of seismic activity buzzing lately, before / during / after the 7.0 honker that hit Northern California earlier this week.

Controlling cell phones with your mind

Mark Frauenfelder: In TheFeature, I have a piece about a Silicon Valley startup that's working on a technology that allows people to control a mobile device using brainwave sensing.
One of the intriguing possibilities for NeuroSky's technology is a sleep detector. If you were driving a car and started to fall asleep, the system could sound an alarm and wake you up. NeuroSky is working with partners, most notably China's Ziyitong Technology to develop a sleep-detector as well as systems for gaming and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Link

Copyright cops crack down on cooks over cakes

Xeni Jardin: Clay Shirky says:
Here's the sign I saw yesterday morning when getting the daily bread at College Bakery, our beloved local purveyor of pre-Atkins goodies.

Now the decor and ambience of College Bakery are echt Old Brooklyn, so it's an unlikely front in the copyfight, but the staff said they had to bust out the magic markers because they'd been roped in as the front line of defense against non-licit images of Dora the Explorer® and Thomas the Tank Engine®. I was struck enough by the sign to Flickr it immediately, and it's stuck with me since then, for several reasons.

First of all, disappointing children is a lousy tactic for a media company. If a child loves Nemo so much she wants a clownfish birthday cake, it's hard to see the upside in preventing her from advertising that affection to her friends. Second, and more worryingly, this is the very sort of chilling effect that has always been recognized as a significant risk in First Amendment protections. How cool would it be to do a drawing with your kid and have it show up as a cake the next day? Well forget it.

What College Bakery is saying with that sign is "The risk of being sued is so high that we'll give up on helping paying customers create their own cakes." This is Trusted Computing for frosting.

Creativity, in this world, is for Trained Professionals, whose work is owned by BigCos. Loss of amateur creativity is a small price to pay for protecting commercial IP holders. Finally, and perhaps most revealingly, the industries fighting for encumbrance of digital IP have often raised the 'restoring analog balance' argument, which is, roughly: "The natural difficulty and generational loss in analog copying made cassette tapes and VCRs bearable. We just want to bring those checks to digital copying." And yet this case -- printing a digital image on a cake -- has exactly those checks, since the image is designed to be eaten by children within hours of its creation. No risk of unlimited copies. No longevity issues. No easy transition to other media. And what happens? The same grab for total control, and the same weak regard for side-effects on non-commercial creativity. The 'analog balance' argument is, of course, a lie. Those industries have fought for total control wherever they have been able to, questioning the very existence of core public rights such as fair use or limited copyright terms, and the magic-markered sign at College Bakery is yet another example.

As Cory said "There are days when the gormlessness of the other side of the copyfight generates a great deal of unintentional hilarity." Now this is more sad than hilarious, but when the control grab extends to the enlisting of neighborhood bakeries in disappointing children for the making of one-off and short-lived copies, the gormlessness quotient is running high.

Link

Counterpoint: Comments from Boing Boing reader Tshaka, who is a law clerk:

I am no fan of the RIAA, and some of the stances big companies take on copyright. With that said, I find a lot of the posts on copyyright issues to be myopic. Companies don't run around trying to enforce their copyright because it brings them joy, they do it because they have to. Once a company allows people to use an image or trademark without their permission, it can quickly slip into the public domain. If they allow this to happen, they lose all control over that image forever.

Companies spend a lot of money not only developing characters like nemo, dora the explorer and thomas the tank engine, they also spend a lot of money so that kids will want to put those characters on their birthday cakes.

I'm fairly sure that College Bakery wasn't giving away their cakes for free. They weren't just providing a nifty service to tykes, they were profiting on the efforts of others. I have serious problems with the Recording and Movie industry making it difficult for people to use their product fairly, but what you have here is one company (even though it is a small one) stealing from another company (even though it is a large one). Telling College Bakery to stop using their images without their permission isn't just an industry fighting for total control wherever they have been able to, questioning the very existence of core public rights such as fair use or limited copyright terms...,

College Bakery's use wasn't fair use. Conflating it with fair use doesn't help the argument. This isn't a creativity issue. I am sure College Bakery would be allowed to negotiate with each of the companies involved to pay for the right to SELL the image those companies created. Its called licensing, and companies love to do it, not just for the money involved, but for the extra goodwill it can create for their product.

(To put into context there are probably companies that paid a lot of money for the right to put those images on cakes, and by not paying for the right not only was College Bakery infringing on the copyright holder, it was unfairly competing with companies that obeyed the law.)

(An example of the effect of not enforcing your copyright is what almost happened to Xerox. For years everyone called a photocopy a "xerox copy." Instead of being a brand name, their name was turning into a generic term. If Xerox had allowed that to continue, it would have lost the right to enforce their copyright on the name of their corporation! All the time, money and effort spent building up whatever goodwill they had associated with their name would have been lost because of their lack of diligence. Companies can lose control of images in the same way.)

Boing Boing reader RYaN says:
Tshaka is wrong that companies "have to" defend copyright, or risk losing it. That's only true for trademarks, as the Xerox example illustrates. Xerox couldn't have "lost the right to enforce their copyright on the name of their corporation" because it's not possible to copyright a company name at all! That's a trademark, which is governed by completely different rules.
Ben Giddings says:
Trademarks must be enforced or they risk becoming generic, and not protected. This isn't the case with copyrights. The issue with the cakes is really a trademark issue, not a copyright issue. The cake-makers aren't copying a particular "Dora" or "Thomas" image, they're making original creations using that character.

An example is the common sight of Calvin (from the Calvin and Hobbes comic) pissing on various logos, etc. Bill Watterson never made any cartoons with Calvin peeing on things, so this isn't violating his copyright. It is, however, using the character he created (and presumably trademarked) to sell stickers.

There's a big difference between selling these Calvin stickers and selling cakes. It's really about who is choosing the images. On one side there's someone creating Calvin look-alike images and trying to sell them to everybody. On the other side there's a bakery that makes cakes to order, and is now being forced to judge whether or not the person asking for the cake has the intellectual-property rights to make that request.

And Tshaka replies:
RYaN is absolutely right. I have crossused terms that do not mean the same thing and possibly added to some confusion. (In my defense, it often appears that discussion in this forum generally refers to all intellectual property issues as "copyright issues," in deference to the discussion I didn't make a sufficient effort to discuss the difference for an audience that is probably not as interested in the minutia of legal terms of art as I or others might be.) As right as RYaN is, however, about my misuse of the word he has also entirely ignored the point I attempted to make. Whether trademark or copyright, College Bakery was taking the intellectual property of other people and selling it to gain a profit (I am fairly comfortable in asserting this because I am pretty sure that College Bakery wasn't offering to put any image you bring in on any cake you bring in for free, THAT would have arguably been fair use, if this assumption is wrong I would love to be corrected). Now that RYaN has so carefully addressed my poor (and arguably lazy) semantics, I would be pleased for him to address my arguments.
Glenn Fleishman says:
See also this Brad Templeton essay on copyright myths -- Link. It's a classic in that it exposes fallacies so completely that I often won't begin to discuss copyright without reviewing it and often refer those who want to make what appears to be a broken point (such as this law clerk--obviously not a copyright law clerk) to the essay without further comment. In this case, point 5 is the right one to read. Brad should be well versed on copyright as the founder of ClariNet, which brought us early Dave Berry over Usenet, and other wonderful informational services and ideas.

Patrick Fitzgerald says:

One simple workaround is to buy a plain white frosted sheet cake, have the photo frosting shipped right to your door, then lay it on top of the cake yourself. I don't know if they perform a copyright check (like recent reports of WalMart photo processing), but Club Photo is one Internet store that offers this service.
And a final reader comment in this looooong thread, from the EFF's Jason Schultz:
As an actual copyright and trademark attorney, I feel this sort of discussion highlights exactly where our notions of "property" and "culture" cause confusion and tension between what the law is, what our intuition is, and what we wish the world was like. Most of us probably wish that we could easily go into our local bakery with our favorite comic or cartoon character and have it put on a birthday cake for our child or best friend. Sure, we wouldn't mind paying a bit more, if it were easy and relatively cheap. However, because the copyright maximalists have been able to frame copyright in terms of "property", this reality is increasingly difficult to achieve. Property rights are generally thought of as absolute and impenetrable, e.g. my favorite San Francisco anti-parking sign that says "Don't even *think* about parking here!"

Yet kids love culture, as we all do. And their love of copyrighted and trademarked characters helps make those characters valuable, just as the creators' inspiration and skill have. Consider if no child loved Dora the Explorer; how valuable would the copyrights and trademarks in the character actually be? Not very. Yet the love and obsession of fans do not garner any "property rights" in the character or any rights at all, according the maximalists. Even those willing to pay to use their favorite characters are often chilled from doing so because the maximalists argue they must come and beg permission from the copyright owner or face up to $150,000 in fines for their sins and indiscretions.

Does this mean the creators of the character should have no rights?

Certainly not. But it may mean that they shouldn't have absolute rights. In theory, that is what "fair use" is for, to balance out the rights of the creator with the rights of the public to enjoy that creation, especially in a private world that does not compete with the creators' business. In the case of Dora, that is the making of commercial cartoons and books, not cakes. The fact that Dora is popular on cakes comes from her popularity among her fans, not the skill of the hand that draws her or the voice that speaks her words.

Finally, all too often, we see a perspective like Tshaka's, where the argument is made that if you don't enforce your rights, you lose them.

Nothing could be further from the truth in this context, even for trademarks (i.e. the only time you lose your trademark is if it becomes generic for the class of goods you sell; no one would ever start calling cartoons "Doras" and birthday cakes aren't even in the same class of goods). What Tshaka is really worried about, it seems to me, is a loss of *control* over the use of one's creations. The idea that someone other than the creator might actually make use of the character without permission is what drives copyright maximalist authors, owners, and advocates crazy, not loss of rights or even, often, compensation.

It is this battle for control that is at the heart of the copyright wars and little else. From the perspective of consumers and fans, characters like Dora have become part of our lives and we shouldn't be ashamed or intimidated from enjoying that fact, even if it involves putting their image on a birthday cake. From the perspective of the Copyright Maximalists, however, even a "Let them eat cake" policy is far too lenient and infringing of their rights.

California struck by second quake

The US state of California is struck by its second earthquake in two days, but no casualties are reported.

Oil price rises to two-month high

US crude oil hits a two-month high, fuelled by strong demand for petrol as the key US summer driving season arrives.

US and China to revisit textiles

The US and China are to hold fresh talks on a trade dispute centred on a surge in Chinese textile exports.

Agile Web Development with Ruby on Rails

Ridgelift writes "Learning to develop web applications with Ruby on Rails has gained a huge amount of interest lately, but for people wanting to learn Rails there are no books on the subject. That's changed now with the pre-release of Agile Web Development with Ruby on Rails , the latest book from Dave Thomas and the author of Ruby on Rails David Heinemeier Hansson. It's really 3 books in one: a full Rails tutorial, an in depth guide to the components that make up Rails, and an introduction to developing applications using the Agile development model. There's even a quick introduction to Ruby, the language Rails is built with." Read on for an early review of the beta book. Full disclosure: Reviewer Miles K. Forrest points out that he has read earlier versions of the book's manuscript and provided critiques to the authors.

Mobile Magazine's Notebook Tech Support Reviews

antdude writes "Mobile Magazine tested companies' technical support for their notebooks/laptops. Each test had three calls to each of ten major notebook manufacturers (added three additional vendors since last year). Also, called three third-party providers of PC help. On the whole, what they found was a sea of ignorance -- and annoying fixation with pinning down our name, address, and serial numbers. Things haven't gotten any better since our 2004 test -- and most of the vendors we tested have actually gotten worse..."

Microsoft 05 Webcast 2

Apple Making a Spreadsheet?

Raleel writes "It appears that apple has trademarked the word "Numbers". Speculation is that it is a new spreadsheet. It makes sense with Keynote, Pages, and Mail." That would sort of fill in the last major hole in their lineup.

Hybrid Fixed and Mobile Telephony

Iorek writes "Both Ericsson and BT have launched telephony products that erode the barriers between mobile phones and landlines. Ericsson's One Phone is a PBX system that can treat any mobile phone as an extension of the corporate phone network, while the BT Fusion handset behaves like a conventional fixed line cordless phone when it's near its base station (Bluetooth connection), and connects to the Vodafone network once it's out of range."

Microsoft Wants P2P Avalanche to Crush BitTorrent

pacopico writes "Microsoft seems to think it can be the better Bittorrent. You know faster and more well-behaved. The Register has a story on the P2P work being done by Microsoft's researchers in the UK. Redmond reckons its "Avalanche" technology will be 20 to 30 percent faster than BitTorrent. It's meant for legal downloads only, of course."

Microsoft 05 Webcast 1

Paul Graham Describes Dangers of Spam Blacklists

CRoby writes "Paul Graham posted an essay describing the danger and corruption of the main spammer blacklists today. It discusses MAPS and the SBL, the blacklist created to try to alleviate the abuses of MAPS, and suggests (maybe) another blacklist's creation."

15:35

Trying to go from Florida to Cuba in an outrigger canoe

Mark Frauenfelder: Tim Anderson write the "Heirloom Technology" column for MAKE magazine. It's one of my favorite parts of the magazine, because Tim travels to remote locations with makeshift equipment and tries to learn how the locals have adapted to harsh conditions. In MAKE Vol. 3 (coming out in a couple of months), Tim writes about his experiences with "swamp technology" as he spends time exploring the Florida Everglades on a solo mission.

In 2003, Tim attempted to solo sail from Florida to Cuba in an outrigger canoe. After his rudder broke, he drifted off course and had a rough time. He started hallucinating -- the sails and the waves began speaking to him, offering useful advice to help him out of his predicament.

~Tim Pix 2003-4-17 Img 0291CBy this time I was pretty wiped out. I was seeing personality in everything around me. In my mind I asked the sails what they thought. 


"Well, you could try something different?" they asked.


"Such as?" 


"Moving around?"

I thought that was a little weird because I was already far back on the hull and that wasn't holding the bow up. I sat out on the beam, putting my weight on the outrigger. It made the bow pop up just a little bit and quit hitting the waves so hard. 


"What else have you got for me?" I asked.


"What else is there?" they replied. 


Me: "Two sails and an oar?" 


They: "What can you do with the oar?"


Me: "Pry on it? Watch it bend?"


They: "Just grab it at the thick part. See the difference?"


It was pretty amazing. Flex in the oar shaft was apparently a bad thing. Grabbing the thick part made a huge difference. The canoe went faster and didn't plow as much.


And so on. It worked so well I started paying attention to what the waves were saying too. I learned a bunch of new tricks. I pushed the outrigger down and that somehow popped the bow up. I bounced just before waves, and that popped the bow up. I held the oar at the thick part and worked it at an angle that pushed the stern down and that did the same thing. I worked the oar in time to the waves instead of just holding it steady, and the waves gave me a lot of help. Before long I was flying along toward shore.

His story is online and is a great read. Link

What UK's copyright industries are up to

Cory Doctorow: The BBC's Matt Locke has written a great report on yesterday's meeting on copyright in the UK that was held by a minister who is reported to have called for extending copyright on performances to the performer's life plus one hundred years.
Adam Singer gave a response from the stage that was full of fantastic rhetoric, describing the emerging market for 3D printers as a harbinger of a world in which all creative IP is under threat from piracy: "It doesn't matter if the button says 'print' [in reference to 3D printers] or 'burn' - all design will become simply a file to be shared". He saw strong IP as the "intellectual hygiene of a networked world", suggesting that IP law should be taught as the "new domestic science" in schools, as it was the most important future skill for creative entrepreneurs. His rhetoric, although very entertaining, was from the dystopian end of the telescope - "each time bandwith increases, another industry will fall [because of IP theft]". You could try to unpick all the false assumptions in that last sentence, but frankly, its not worth it. Just sit back and bask in the warm glow of his fire and brimstone. In fairness, Adam Singer is far more measured and informed than the above quotes suggest (despite describing Lawrence Lessig as the "Martin Luther of copyright" that the music industry had failed to burn...), but he's a great public speaker, and it's his job to provoke.

I asked a question to the panel about the kind of industry trends that the DCMS were looking into when developing new IP models for the creative industries. Writers like Henry Chesbrough and Eric Von Hippel have documented trends in 'old' industries like Pharma and Engineering towards 'open innovation' models. Emerging best practise is to maximise your return from IP through a range of licensing models outside your own company, moving from old models of patent enforcement to open licensing models with peer companies and even Von Hippel's 'Free Revealing', where IP is given up in order to drive other competitive advantages.

Link

School made him sick

David Pescovitz: An Olathe, Kansas high school student was charged with battery against a school official for vomiting on his Spanish teacher. The boy's father said his son was just sickened by the stress of exams and didn't purposefully throw up on the teacher. An assistant district attorney said he has witnesses who say that's not the case. "I think a message is being sent by both the school district and the district attorney that this behavior will not be tolerated," the teacher told the Associated Press. Link

Half-male, half-female, all crab

David Pescovitz: Fishermen caught a crab in the lower Chesapeake Bay that's literally half male, half female. Among other differences, male blue crabs have deep blue claws while females' claw tips look like they were painted with red nail polish. The fishermen noticed that this particular crab had one of each. Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science say that the condition, known as bilateral gynandromorphism, is caused by a "chromosomal mishap." Studying the rare animal could increase understanding of crab sexual development and breeding behavior. From the Washington Post:
Wp-Dyn Content Photo 2005 06 16 Ph2005061600466
Before turning over the crab to the scientists, (boat captain David) Johnson and other watermen conducted their own experiment into its sex life, with bewildering results. They dropped a female crab, which was just about ready to mate, into its tank.

First, the half-and-half crab cradled the female under his legs, as a male crab would do in preparation for mating.

Then, the crab seemed to lose interest in the female and let her go, Johnson said.

Then a day later . . .

"He ate half of her," Johnson said.
Link to Washington Post article, Link to Virginia Institute press release (Thanks, Vann Hall!)

Office pranks

David Pescovitz: Images C726F95C45481D2401Cd10298Fae4F8CPocket-lint has a small photo gallery of hysterical office pranks. Gizmodo, where I saw this post, is seeking reader submissions of other office prank photos and will post the best few. Link (via Gizmodo)

Paris Hilton burger ad: The thuper-thexy remix

Xeni Jardin:
A large gentleman takes the place of everyone's favorite upmarket ho-bag. Only. He's wearing. The same thong. Grinding to. The same song. Details and video linkage at Defamer: Link

Stross's magnificent ACCELERANDO as a free CC download

Cory Doctorow: Charlie Stross's brilliant novel Accelerando is available as a free Creative Commons download! This novel collects and bridges all of his Hugo-nominated Manfred Macx stories, published over the last several years in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Charlie is a wild talent, and he writes like the love-child of Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson and Hunter S Thompson. Once you start this book, you won't be able to stop.
Manfred's on the road again, making strangers rich.

It's a hot summer Tuesday, and he's standing in the plaza in front of the Centraal Station with his eyeballs powered up and the sunlight jangling off the canal, motor scooters and kamikaze cyclists whizzing past and tourists chattering on every side. The square smells of water and dirt and hot metal and the fart-laden exhaust fumes of cold catalytic converters; the bells of trams ding in the background, and birds flock overhead. He glances up and grabs a pigeon, crops the shot, and squirts it at his weblog to show he's arrived. The bandwidth is good here, he realizes; and it's not just the bandwidth, it's the whole scene. Amsterdam is making him feel wanted already, even though he's fresh off the train from Schiphol: He's infected with the dynamic optimism of another time zone, another city. If the mood holds, someone out there is going to become very rich indeed.

He wonders who it's going to be.

* * *

Manfred sits on a stool out in the car park at the Brouwerij 't IJ, watching the articulated buses go by and drinking a third of a liter of lip-curlingly sour gueuze. His channels are jabbering away in a corner of his head-up display, throwing compressed infobursts of filtered press releases at him. They compete for his attention, bickering and rudely waving in front of the scenery. A couple of punks – maybe local, but more likely drifters lured to Amsterdam by the magnetic field of tolerance the Dutch beam across Europe like a pulsar – are laughing and chatting by a couple of battered mopeds in the far corner. A tourist boat putters by in the canal; the sails of the huge windmill overhead cast long, cool shadows across the road. The windmill is a machine for lifting water, turning wind power into dry land: trading energy for space, sixteenth-century style. Manfred is waiting for an invite to a party where he's going to meet a man he can talk to about trading energy for space, twenty-first-century style, and forget about his personal problems.

He's ignoring the instant messenger boxes, enjoying some low-bandwidth, high-sensation time with his beer and the pigeons, when a woman walks up to him, and says his name: "Manfred Macx?"

He glances up. The courier is an Effective Cyclist, all wind-burned smooth-running muscles clad in a paean to polymer technology: electric blue lycra and wasp yellow carbonate with a light speckling of anti collision LEDs and tight-packed air bags. She holds out a box for him. He pauses a moment, struck by the degree to which she resembles Pam, his ex-fiance.

Link (Thanks, Charlie!)

Anti-aircraft apartment

David Pescovitz: German ad exec Christian Boros is transforming a WWII anti-aircraft tower in Berlin into an art gallery and posh penthouse apartment. I look forward to some before and after photos. From Reuters:
(Boros) told Bild newspaper on Wednesday he fell in love with the seven-storey building, with reinforced concrete walls up to 2.6 metres (8 feet 6 inch) thick, after visiting a former disco inside the eyesore...

"It'll be like James Bond -- very cool with exposed concrete and glass," Boros said.
Link

Mixtape Crackdown Sends a Mixed Message

Xeni Jardin: Giovanni says:
This is the NY Times follow-up on Kim's Video raid by RIAA-influenced cops. In a refreshing move for a mainstream paper, it clearly shows the divide between musicians and the music industry and takes the side of the "pirates."
Here's a snip:
Late on the night of May 13, a hip-hop promoter named Justo Faison died in a car crash in Virginia. And last week, on June 8, the East Village record and video shop Mondo Kim's was raided by the New York Police Department. What do these two stories have in common? Here's a hint: it's cheap, popular and illegal.

Faison was the industry's most energetic promoter of hip-hop mixtapes, the unlicensed compilations (almost always on CD, despite the name) of unreleased new songs, current hits, never-to-be-released freestyles and unofficial remixes. To keep (or get) hard-core listeners excited, rappers are expected to maintain a mixtape presence by supplying DJ's with tracks and also by collaborating with them to release "hosted by" mixtapes. Thanks to Faison, the mixtape world even had its own annual ceremony: he created and produced the yearly Mixtape Awards, a fittingly raucous celebration; this year's attendees included Sean Combs, who won a lifetime achievement award, and the Game.

In the days after Faison's death, rappers and DJ's paid their respects, tribute rhymes started circulating online and a fund was started to help pay for his burial and to aid his family. Contributions have come in from many leading hip-hop record labels including Atlantic, TVT, Tommy Boy and Interscope.

While artists and record labels were celebrating Faison's life and work, the Recording Industry Association of America was finding another way to pay tribute to the popularity of mixtapes. On May 12, the day before Faison died, it announced a crackdown on stores that sold "pirated CD's," a term that refers to "mixed tapes and compilation CD's featuring one or more artists," among other products. (The association's taxonomy of piracy defines "counterfeit recordings" as illegal knockoffs of existing commercial CD's, and "bootleg recordings" as illegal recordings of live performances or broadcasts.)

Link to NYT story.

Reader comment: Mark says:

Hey, I used to work at one of the Kims locations, and I felt I should mention that there was some stuff going on at Kims aside from just selling mixtapes; Kims would often bootleg DVDs for difficult to find movies. Matthew Barney actually sent them a cease and desist to stop them from bootlegging Cremaster 3. Also, nobody paid taxes, oddly enough. I didn't know a single person, from the clerks to the managers, who were actually registered as working at Kims or paying taxes on their take home.

This is not to say that Kims should have been raided, and the employees shouldn't have been jailed (there but for the grace of God, man, I almost got a job down there earlier this month!), but I wouldn't be suprised if the mixtapes were just an excuse to raid the store and give things a once-over.

Congressmen probe Iraq war memo

US Democrats investigate a UK memo suggesting President Bush decided on the Iraq war eight months in advance.

US runaway bride sells her story

A New York agent reportedly pays $500,000 for the story of a woman who faked her abduction before her wedding.

US airports get bomb test devices

US transport officials approve a machine to detect passengers trying to carry explosives on board airliners.

Bush criticises Iran's election

US President George W Bush says the presidential election taking place in Iran on Friday is unfair.

US backs UN council expansion

At least two new countries should become permanent members of the UN Security Council, the US says.

Nancy Reagan recovers after fall

Former US first lady Nancy Reagan is taken to hospital after a fall at a London hotel.

Snow backs extra hedge fund rules

US Treasury Secretary says US authorities are working on increased monitoring of hedge funds.

The Importance of RSS

unfoldedorigami writes "Kevin Hale of Particletree wrote an interesting essay about the importance of RSS and speculates that the success of social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and Technorati has got Google worried about subscribe becoming the new search. Hale thinks this is the reason behind why they've become so interested in feed reading and the procurement of revenue from them."

11:25

Expose of Kabbalah Centre

Mark Frauenfelder: The SPY-like Radar magazine has a great article about "Hollywood's Hottest Cult" -- Kabbalah Centre, the Los Angeles institution that Madonna has donated $18 million to. Plenty of juicy tidbits here:
The Bergs’ luxurious lifestyle, in stark contrast to the bleak four-to-a-bedroom conditions and $35-a-month stipend they offer the full-time volunteers who cook and clean for them.

The bizarre scientific claims made by the Centre’s leaders on behalf of Kabbalah Water, ranging from its ability to cleanse the lakes of Chernobyl of radiation to its power to cure cancer, AIDS, and SARS.

The Bergs have come a long way since 1971, when Philip, then known as Shraga Feivel Gruberger, began preaching his version of Jewish mystical enlightenment to a small group of students in Israel. A onetime insurance salesman who left his wife and seven kids to marry Karen, his former secretary, Berg has become a man so revered that some of his followers believe he has the power to resurrect the dead. In the process he has created a multimillion-dollar brand out of a bastardization of an arcane branch of Judaism, larding it with pricey accessories and bold-faced names. His followers have been promised that Kabbalah can find their lost children, cure their illnesses, replenish their pocketbooks, and bring them true love. Berg himself is so above it all that even his wife refers to him, at least to the press, only by an honorific. He is “the Rav.”


Link (Thanks, Nathan!)

To do in Chicago: NEXT MUSIC curated by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy

Xeni Jardin: Wired Magazine's NEXTFEST happens in Chicago next week. The two-day event is modeled in part on past World's Fairs, and presents glimpses of the future with experiential, hands-on exhibits from all over the world.

They're kicking it off with NEXT MUSIC, an evening of musical performances on Wednesday, June 22 curated by free culture advocate and Wilco founder Jeff Tweedy. SF Bay-Area harpist Joanna Newsom and Chicago's Handsome Family are among the acts. Here's what Jeff Tweedy has to say about it, snipped from the press release:


I love thinking about what the future holds, so I was thrilled to be invited to be part of WIRED NextFest and to share my vision of the future,” said Jeff Tweedy. “Which is not very futuristic really and admittedly a little bleak.

Honestly, I had a lot of trouble conjuring up a rose-hewn vision of our collective tomorrows. Instead I have focused my attention on music with the kind of sturdiness and self-sufficiency the post-apocalyptic lifestyle I’m anticipating might require. The kinds of artists making the kinds of music that won’t be interrupted or even miss a beat when the power goes out.

The kind that would be fleet-footed and nimble if the Man came crashing down in the middle of the night. In other words, I pictured folk music. All there ever was in the first place.”

God, I love this guy. You should too.

Link to NEXT MUSIC details, 6/22/05.

Previously on Boing Boing: Audio of Lessig/Tweedy/Johnson discussion in NY last month; Interview with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy: "Music is not a loaf of bread."

"Pisa pushers" photos

Xeni Jardin: Jim Hanas (co-conspirator behind Boring Boring, among other things), says:

"Some genius has started a Pisa pushers group on Flicker, featuring third party pics of tourists attempting to 'straighten' the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Since the shots aren't taken from the intended perspective, the people in them appear to be holding unseen objects in the air. Sublime."
Link to photo set, and here's an example of what these folks *hope* they look like.

Mark Cuban: Why Macrovision's customers are fools

Cory Doctorow: On the news that Macrovision, which makes DRM for DVDs, is suing some tiny companies for making technologies that defeat their products, Mark Cuban gives a good, concise argument for why we should eschew Macrovision products and why the studios are idiots for shelling out millions for nonfunctional "security" technology.
For the average joes, it’s not easy to make a backup copy of the DVD that you know your little kid is going to scratch, or in my case, that I scratch from handling and playing often. Not only is it not easy, but because of the Macrovision copyprotection, it’s completely illegal, despite the fact that you paid your hard earned money for the DVD.

So just what is the purpose of having Macrovision copy protection on DVDs? To raise the price to consumers? To make things more difficult for them? To make sure its illegal to backup DVDs we have purchased?

Am I missing something here?

I could see if the stuff worked and it kept the bad guys from doing bad things. Then it would have to be a price consumers paid. Publishers have a right to protect their content. But, it obviously doesn’t work. If it did, there would be nothing to sue anyone over. Instead they would be taking out ads saying how they kicked all the bad guys’ asses. But they aren’t. They are suing companies and admitting their software sucks.

Link (Thanks, Peter!)

Bush snubbed on 'terror book' law

US legislators vote to end the right to inspect library and bookshop records, in a blow to President Bush.

Murder defendant was in KKK

The lawyer of a man accused of the murders of three US civil rights activists admits his client was a Ku Klux Klansman.

Arsenal in Chilean commune

A huge weapons cache is found at a German-founded religious commune in Chile said linked to the ex-dictatorship.

Wolfowitz mourns Rwanda victims

World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz says the international community bears enormous responsibility for the Rwanda genocide.

10:25

Ultraportable. Ultracapacity. Ultraquick.

The Pocket Rocket, created and sold by Memina, may get you excited about the world of ultraportable storage.

07:25

Stolen Trotsky-slaying icepick for sale to Trotsky's descendants

Cory Doctorow: The icepick that killed Leon Trotsky was stolen by a Mexican secret service agent from the evidence pool related to the murder. Now his daughter is trying to sell it back to Trotky's grandchildred.
Ana Alicia Salas says her father, Commander Alfredo Salas, stole the pick because he wanted to preserve it for posterity.

Trotsky's grandson Seva Volkov, who lived with his grandfather at the time and still lives in Mexico, is willing to provide samples for a DNA test against the blood on the handle only if Salas donates the pick to the museum in the house where the murder took place.

But she said: "I am looking for some financial benefit. I think something as historically important at this should be worth something, no?"

Link (via Fark)

Weird Tales covers 1923-1942 gallery

Cory Doctorow: Weird Tales is one of the original pulp magazines, where Howard's Conan and Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos found their original home. Its lurid covers were even better than the fiction. Here's a gallery of Weird Tales covers spanning 1923-1943 -- endless clicky fun. Link (via We Make Money Not Art)

Beauty students beat stick-up man with curling irons

Cory Doctorow: A stick-up man who tried to rob the purses of the students at a beauty school was tripped and then beaten to a pulp with curling irons and sticks.
Mitchell says the man walked in pointing a gun and telling the women to clean out their purses and hand him the cash. That's until, she tripped him.

Mitchell says, "I was telling the students, 'Get him! Get him!'"

Mitchell says, "They was grabbing everything they could, but I said, 'Get back! I got him!' I wore him out with that stick."

Shreveport police spokeswoman Kacee Hargrave says, "The suspect was trying to get out of the business and, as he was trying to get out, they kept pulling him back in and beating him."

Link (via Fark)

Casino wins pedestrian safety away, is missing sidewalk, x-walk, ramps

Cory Doctorow: A Tampa, Florida casino has won and award for being pedestrian friendly. This casino is missing sidewalks, crosswalks and wheelchair ramps.
But employees dodge cars when they haul trash bins along a service road. No sidewalk actually leads to the casino. A bus shelter is stashed in the rear of the property, near a trash bin. A 10-foot wall built by the project on the other side of Orient Road blocks a sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into the road.
Link (via Fark)

03:25

Casino carpet patterns gallery

Cory Doctorow: What a lovely gallery of casino carpeting -- shots from Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City.
In a strange way, though, it's s sublime work of art, rivalling any expressionist canvas of the past century. Note the regal tones of Caesars Palace, the bountiful bouquet of Mandalay Place, the soft, almost abstract pointilism of Paris, all whispering, "gamble, gamble" just out of the range of consciousness as people walk to the nearest slot machine.

Many of the carpets use flowers and wheels, both suggestive of a cyclical life: flowers bud, bloom, and then die, and their beauty is only ephemeral. The wheel was famous to the Romans (note its prominence at Caesars Palace) as a symbol of the relentless capriciousness of fortune. Could both be subtle reminders to casino patrons that life and luck are fleeting, and one should eat, drink, and be merry before the morrow brings a swing in fortune?

Link (via Negatendo)

Bands in matching outfits gallery

Cory Doctorow: Gallery of identically-dressed bands. I wish more musicians would wear matching outfits these days. Even KISS had a rudimentary uniform! Link (via Lawgeek)

'Plane bomber' extradition sought

Venezuela makes a formal request for the extradition from the US of a Cuban exile wanted over a plane bombing.

US senators debate Guantanamo

US senators debate the treatment of suspects held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

02:15

Job opportunity: joke checker at McSweeney's

Andrew Golden has an article at McSweeney's Internet Tendency entitled "An Episode of Star Trek Tediously Written for an Audience Entirely Composed of Remote Amazon Tribesmen". It's not clear whether the tribeswomen are allowed in the audience or not, but...

A Pro Camera That Amateurs Can Afford

Digital single-lens-reflex cameras keep getting cheaper. Nikon's latest, the D50, brings S.L.R. quality into the $750 price range.

Jerky Pictures and Sound Are History. Videoconferencing Is All Grown Up.

The right camera, microphone and lighting can make Web videoconferencing a more satisfying experience, for everything from chat to guitar lessons.

Plan to Connect Rural India to the Internet

An international consortium is planning to establish thousands of rural Internet centers in India to bring services to isolated villages.

Getting Movies When You Want

I've been hearing a lot about video-on-demand technology with cable television but I'm clueless as to how it actually works. Is this the same thing as the old pay-per-view, except with a different name?

The Gadget That Came to Dinner

A small $49.95 egg-shaped gadget called Powerseed is designed to slow down eaters and improve eating patterns.

Device Maker Being Bought by Chip Maker

Integrated Device Technology Inc., a maker of semiconductors, agreed to acquire Integrated Circuit Systems Inc., a maker of devices used in computerized communications.

Good Vibrations: Video Games on a Cellphone, With Feedback

The SCH-N330 from Samsung, the first mobile phone released in the United States, takes the tremble another step.

IPod Speakers Made for Parties on the Mother Ship

A new portable speaker system that seems lifted from the set of the sci-fi classic "THX 1138" can turn any iPod into a portable D.J. booth.

Philips Shares Fall on Demand Forecast

Royal Philips Electronics said Wednesday that consumer demand in the region is slowing this quarter.

Comments back on

We have reenabled commenting on the site and will shortly be upgrading MovableType in the hope that it'll give us a less manual way of combating spam. Apologies to all those who've been frustrated by our draconian commenting restrictions in...

iTunes Music Store Japan: Wheels within wheels

Following our recent coverage of the Nikkei report of an imminent iTunes Music Store launch for Japan, we were directed to an article in The Register that effectively said the Nikkei report was a load of hot air. The Reg...

Wednesday, 15 June

23:25

Add your face to the protest against Euro software patents

Cory Doctorow: If you oppose Euorpean software patents, you can send your photo to softwarepatentdemo.org and they'll make it part of a mosiac of faces that will be unrolled before the Euro Parliament. See the banner in progress for some cool visuals. Link (Thanks, Julian!)

Rush Limbaugh, copyfighter

Cory Doctorow: Farhad sez, "Rush Limbaugh is really upset that his podcasts can't include his song parodies. I didn't even know that he had podcasts. He sounds like an EFF attorney!"
"But I just want to tell you we're continually working on it, which at this point simply means monitoring developments in this whole copyright and piracy law. I know the Millennium Copyright Act is what this is all about, and until that's changed, none of this is going to change. In fact I just saw a story in my RSS reader today that Sony is coming out with a new system to copy-protect their CDs. There's software on their CDs that will allow a maximum of three dubs, three copies, and then it shuts down. So if somebody goes and buy a CD, they can copy it three times, but that's it and it's not on all their CDs. It's a new technology that they are embedding in the CDs, and of course the DVD industry has gotten even much tougher than the music industry has, but it's a huge deal and we have looked at it in every which way and that's what we have been told by the legal eagles. Whatever anybody else is doing out there is of no consequence to us. Based on what we have learned anybody else doing this is doing so at risk, and that's as much as I will say about it."
Link (Thanks, Farhad!)

Happy birthday, Pac-Man!

David Pescovitz: Pac-Man came to the US twenty-five years ago this month. From the Associated Press:
Pac Man "This was the first time a player took on a persona in the game. Instead of controlling inanimate objects like tanks, paddles and missile bases, players now controlled a 'living' creature," says Leonard Herman, author of "Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Videogames." "It was something that people could identify, like a hero."

It all began in Japan, when Toru Iwatani, a young designer at Namco, caught inspiration from a pizza that was missing a slice. Puck-Man, as it was originally called, was born. Because of obvious similarities to a certain four-letter profanity, "Puck" became "Pac" when it debuted in the U.S. in 1980.
Link

Executive denies meeting Annan

An executive who suggested he had won Kofi Annan's backing for a contract says he did not meet the UN chief.

19:15

Virgin Vader Vomit Bags

Xeni Jardin: Snip from starwars.com:

In collaboration with Virgin Airlines and Activision, LucasArts has released limited-edition airsickness bags to promote the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Video Game. The four designs include: Knowing Your Lightsaber, Lightsaber Etiquette, The Art of Jedi Combat and Seating Jedi and Sith. While some of the bags are instructional in nature, giving passengers tips on how to handle and fight with a lightsaber, another bag offers advice to the airline staff on where to seat the Jedi and Sith. Which begs the question, which Star Wars characters can properly handle themselves on a Virgin Atlantic flight? "Anakin would make the best pilot with his skills -- remember the Podrace in Episode I?" Gauna suggests. "The best cabin crew member would have to be C-3PO -- a protocol droid would make for a happy cabin. I imagine Count Dooku would have a few issues if he didn't have the entire plane to himself, which would make him the most likely unruly passenger. And I have a feeling General Grievous wouldn't get past the metal detectors without a fairly thorough frisking."
Link (Thanks, Bonnie!)

Mexico ex-leader can be charged

Mexico's Supreme Court rules that ex-President Luis Echeverria can be charged over a 1971 massacre.

Free Freezepop show

Sadly, I won't be able to make it to this. But maybe you can!

freezepop are playing a free outdoor show in cambridge as part of the cambridge riverfest '05 this saturday, june
18th!

we go on at 1pm on the middle east outdoor stage which will be next to weeks bridge (the pedestrian bridge near
harvard that goes over the charles river). we go on rain or shine and of course it's all ages!

we'll have copies of our new promo ep on hand as well.

hope to see you there!

liz, sean, & the duke
www.freezepop.com

11:15

Woman eyeing Chile's top job

Michelle Bachelet - a single mother and self-described socialist - tells the BBC why she wants to be Chile's first woman president.

02:05

A Campaign to Derail Verizon-MCI Deal

A large hedge fund plans to mount a campaign against Verizon's takeover of MCI, hoping to coax Qwest Communications into reviving its previous offer for the company.

PowerSchool president departs in management shuffle

The top executive at PowerSchool, Apple's subsidiary that develops student information systems for K-12 school districts, recently stepped down, sources confirmed to . Former COO Mary McCaffrey has succeeded Bob Longo as president.

New Mac OS X 10.4.2 build, Intel Mac benchmarks

One more build of Mac OS X 10.4.2 has been seeded to developers, while some attending WWDC have submitted Xbench results for the Pentium-based Macs at the show, although the numbers do not represent native performance.

Tuesday, 14 June

17:55

In Drama Pitting Scientist vs. Drug Maker, All Are Punished

A new book sheds light on the reality of the story of Dr. Nancy Olivieri, a Canadian whistle-blower.

How Lance Armstrong Gets His Unusual Energy

According to a scientist, Armstrong's prowess can be explained by a set of physiological changes that took place in his body.

Apple Patent Watch: May 2005

Apple was awarded a dozen patents in May, including for a tablet computer, its original acrylic/graphite LCD displays, various laptop protection methods, handwriting recognition, and another element of the interface for its Logic software.

09:45

Language, trade and sex

The orthographically diverse Ste(x)ens of 'Freakonomics' -- Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt -- devoted their June 5 NYT column to language and monkey sex. Well, not really. It's about research by Keith Chen and Lauri Santos at Yale...

01:45

Thrillionaires: The New Space Capitalists

A new generation of deep-pockets entrepreneurs are shifting the landscape of space travel.

On Board the Message Board

Blogs may be grabbing all the media headlines, but online travel communities are wielding a different kind of influence in the corporate airline world.

I.B.M. Expands Efforts to Promote Radio Tags to Track Goods

I.B.M. Global Services plans to announce that it will begin selling advice on consumer privacy issues related to the use of radio identification tagging of consumer goods.

Sony BMG Tries to Limit Copying of Latest CD's

The world's second-biggest music corporation is rolling out its latest answer to digital piracy by outfitting its CD's with software that restricts copying.

Independence for PC Unit at Hewlett

The Hewlett-Packard Company tapped the former chief executive of PalmOne Inc. to run its personal computer division, re-establishing that business as a stand-alone unit.

Monster Founder Leaving

Monster Worldwide, which operates the most-used Web site for employment advertising, said that its founder was leaving to start a new venture.

A Parting Gift at PeopleSoft

David A. Duffield, the founder and former chief executive of PeopleSoft, is giving grants of up to $10,000 each to many former employees who lost their jobs and have had problems finding work.

Monday, 13 June

10:25

The resurgence of Brazil's biofuel

Brazil discovered how to power cars on non-petroleum fuel before anyone else - but the idea fell from favour and is only now being revived, writes the BBC's Robert Plummer.

09:35

Burger is as burgher does?

R Devraj at Dick & Garlick links to a post on Engdu at The Bezels of Wisdom, which mentions the slang term burger: A TV show of the 80s assumed that a burger was the apogee of western sophistication. Today...

01:25

Some Cafe Owners Pull the Plug on Lingering Wi-Fi Users

Some cafes are cutting back on the free wi-fi Internet connections because laptop users sit at tables all day and purchase very little.

Hollywood's Boogeyman Is Getting Bigger

As Hollywood moves to fight online film piracy, newly released tracking results show that more and more users have large video files on their home computers.

$50 Million Is Raised for Venture in Wireless

SOMA Networks, a start-up that makes equipment used to deliver high-speed Internet access to homes over wireless networks, plans to announce that it has raised $50 million in venture capital financing.

For BlackBerry Maker, Anxiety Rises as a Deal Unravels

Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, is facing the possibility that the service could be shut down in the United States.

Ordering Takeout Online: A Dot-Com Idea Returns for a Second Try

The first time that companies tried to offer food delivery over the Internet, the idea flopped. Now, with more people using the Web, it may actually succeed.

Sunday, 12 June

09:55

Heat

I went to sleep at about 4 last night, but it's hot enough that I can't sleep any longer. Ugh. It's never this hot in June.

09:15

When does it bear X-ing?

In an earlier post, I quoted the final paragraph of a newspaper essay: "Once it would have seemed unnecessary to point out that <dubious piece of conventional wisdom>. Today, perhaps it bears reminding". I observed that the phrase "it bears...

Saturday, 11 June

17:35

Back in Newton.

I am now back in Newton, although most of my stuff is still in boxes. If people in the area want to see me, I'm available for the next two weeks.

17:15

Linguists continue to get no respect

If you do a quick Google search for "animal sounds" or "animal noises", then one of your first few hits will be Cathy Ball's really fun and excellent Sounds of the World's Animals website. This site is constantly under development,...

A new idea about the evolution of language

Derek Bickerton has a "blog". I put the word in quotes, and I haven't added it to our blogroll yet, because so far there's only one post, from 3/25/2005. On the other hand, it's a doozy: a 12,000-word paper with...

Enough Keyword Searches. Just Answer My Question.

For anything but simple queries, even the best search engines are surprisingly ineffective.

09:05

Mix master

OK, it's official. Just Plain Folks have decided that Yodic syntax is random word scrambling with sporadic category change. Here's Vox Pop himself, James Lileks, on Episode 3: I love Yoda. I really do. Especially when he gets that mean...

01:05

Backpacks

So, for some of August, I expect to be wandering around Europe with no more luggage than what I can carry on my back. I am thus in search of luggage that I can carry on my back. Any advice? Brands, specific models, websites with reviews, features I should look for or avoid - anything.

The Empire is the good side

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=1248&R=C5B233F68

You know, I think I agree with him. While it's clear that their methods are brutal, their ends are good. That may not make them Good, but it certainly makes the moral situation a lot more complicated than Lucas leads us to believe.

00:55

What's Really Behind the Apple-Intel Alliance

In striking a computer chip deal with Intel, Steven Jobs, Apple Computer's chief executive, has opened a range of tantalizing new options for his quirky company.

Searching for a Reason to Buy Google

Five years after the tech bubble came and went, Google's stock has bounded to nearly $300. So is it different this time, or are investors partying like it's 1999?

Mark Cuban's Half-Court Heave

The blog of Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is loaded with his hyperconfident pronouncements about business, sports and politics.

Nortel's No. 2 Resigns After Three Months

The Nortel Networks Corporation said that its No. 2 officer had resigned after three months because of professional differences with the chief executive.

Friday, 10 June

16:55

WTF coordinate questions

wtf Over on the newsgroup sci.lang, Ron Hardin has posted (3 June 2005) another one of his finds, the radio ad: (1)  Are you like most Americans, and don't always eat as you should? Hardin thought of this as...

08:45

*Why* can't I be tired?

When Erik went to bed, I wasn't tired. I've done very little today/yesterday, and my brain seems to want to go for a walk. I've rarely stayed up this late, and only once have I done an all-nighter. In an effort to be productive have replied to one email and composed another. Now I am hungry.
I have to pack up and move things into a rental truck today, so it would be very good if I could get some sleep. I don't fancy crashing at 4pm.

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