Friday, April 23, 2010

The Real Insult To Muslims - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Aunt B. nails Viacom:

[T]his large media conglomerate is regularly and repeatedly signalling that, even if they’re willing to stand up to angry Baptists or Jews with hurt feelings, pissed off Muslims are so scary and weird and “other” that they have to be handled with kid gloves. I know plenty of fucked-up Christians who I’m sure have sent angry letters and phone calls to Comedy Central about South Park. So, what Comedy Central is saying is that some death-threaty, angry, fundamentalist kill-joys, if they’re Christian, obviously don’t reflect the opinions of all Christians or warrant changing programming to accommodate.  But some death-threaty, angry, fundamentalist kill-joys, if they’re Muslim, will be treated as if they are the legitimate authority on their religion and Comedy Central will respond in fear to them. And fear is just the submissive expression of hostility.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Dissent Of The Day II - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

A reader writes:

I'm not so sure Comedy Central is a deserving target of anger over the South Park flap.  Put aside the free speech principle for a moment (it's hard, but try), and just focus on the safety issue.  Comedy Central is a large corporation that employs many hundreds (thousands?) of people. 

Do each of those employees wish to risk his or her life to make the valid point that free speech is important and that religious zealots shouldn't be able to bully the rest of us into submission with threats to our lives?  Maybe, but maybe not.  Does Comedy Central have the right to make that decision for all of its employees, or does it have an obligation to ensure (to the best of its ability) the safety of its employees in the face of known, explicit threats?  I'm not sure what the answers are to these questions, but I think they're worth asking.

The only actual threats have been against Matt and Trey personally.

I think it might be that Comedy Central is afraid that an extremist would succeed in killing Matt &/or Trey, and so cause South Park's demise. Lost revenue there, both ad and merchandise. Not to mention the negative publicity that would descend upon CC should the unthinkable happen. Bottom-line, they're protecting their pocket book.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Rosie O'Donnell Tries to Change Mike Huckabee's Mind on Gay Adoption | Gay Rights

Rosie O'DonnellApparently Rosie O'Donnell has a Sisyphus complex. Sisyphus was the fabled Greek king who was punished by the Gods and sentenced to a life of pushing a huge rock up a hill, only to watch the rock roll back down again. For Rosie O'Donnell's part, the rock she was trying to push was Mike Huckabee, and she was trying to push him toward a more reasonable position on gay adoption.

It didn't work. But their conversation is pretty mesmerizing.

O'Donnell hosted Huckabee on her Sirius radio show this week, taking the former Arkansas governor and GOP Presidential candidate to task for comments he made earlier this month suggesting that gay people should be banned from adopting. O'Donnell, a grand wizard of gay adoption who has long championed the rights of LGBT families, had a bit of a bone to pick with Huckabee. After all, Huckabee made it pretty clear that he wants gays and lesbians to be denied marriage equality, and only be allowed to adopt puppies.

First things first, Huckabee and O'Donnell both deserve a whole heaping amount of praise for having this conversation together. It would kind of be like Bishop Gene Robinson and Pat Robertson getting together for coffee, or Melissa Etheridge and Anita Bryant sitting down for some orange juice.

Posted via web from Firesaw

How to infuriate/impress your waitress - Boing Boing

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 5:22 PM April 23, 2010


This is actually the work of artist Kevin Van Aelst, who assembles images from the detritus of everyday life. It's part of a series of fingerprints made with everything from macaroni to pie crust.

(Via My Food Looks Funny)

Posted via web from Firesaw

Brightening Walls Around the World - GOOD Blog - GOOD

Cool Hunting let us know about Let's Colour, a sort of international version of Publicolor. Let's Colour goes around the world painting drab walls bright colors (the project is sponsored by, you guessed it, a paint company.)  Fernanda Romano, who works for Let's Colour, told Cool Hunting about the genesis of the project:

"let's find locations, places around the world, they're a bit dull, a bit grey. Let's engage the local community." She adds, encouraging community involvement was crucial to succeed: "Mandating things to people feels a bit old fashioned. People want to collaborate, people create content to share with the world."

Neat idea.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Arizona Welcomes Juan Crow | Immigrant Rights

Racial profiling is officially legal in Arizona.

"I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like," declared Governor Brewer of Arizona as she signed SB 1070, the draconian anti-immigrant bill that allows law enforcement officials to arrest people based on a "reasonable suspicion" that they are undocumented.

Take action and ask the Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to not cooperate with this misguided effort to enforce federal immigration laws.

What is "reasonable suspicion?" Brown skin and quite possibly, a hint of an accent considered foreign to Arizona. Arizona Senator Russell Pearce (R-Mesa), the main sponsor of SB 1070, believes that fears of racial profiling are unwarranted, but admitted that "Ninety percent of the illegal aliens in Arizona come from south of the border, so it [appearance] certainly may be a factor." Brewer also implied that immigration profiles will be created, by Arizona Peace Officer and Training Board (AZPOST). But she tried to assure everyone that she would not tolerate racial profiling, adding that law enforcement officials know how to do their jobs.

Yes, therein lies the problem: people of color know precisely how cops do their jobs and SB 1070 breeds a climate of fear and distrust that would promote more crimes in Arizona as people lose faith in law enforcement. Many are threatening an economic boycott of the state and couched in terms of border security, SB 1070 would also cost Arizona $26.4 billion in lost economic activity.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Steering a Car Using Only Your Eyes - Eyedriver - Gizmodo

Ever wanted to play "look ma, no hands" with a Dodge Caravan? Meet eyeDriver, software that allows you to drive a car just by looking at where you want to go.

The technology, developed by the same folks who brought us the iPhone-controlled car, works by tracking the driver's eye movement and directing the steering wheel accordingly. During the test run shown above it was limited to a fixed speed of about 30mph, but researchers at Berlin's Free University are hoping to get it up to 60 before long. Close your eyes for more than half a second, and the vehicle automatically slows to a stop.

We're pretty far off from a commercial application—there's the question of how to handle stop-and-go traffic, not to mention what happens when you look down to fiddle with the radio—but there would obviously be huge benefits to physically impaired motorists. And those of us who are sick and tired of the tyranny of hands at 10 and 2. [PhysOrg]

Posted via web from Firesaw

How to Fool Face Recognition Systems With Make Up - Face Recognition - Gizmodo

How to Fool Face Recognition Systems With Make UpThe next time you see someone with a make up style that puts David Bowie to shame, don't laugh too much. He or she may be cleverly fooling face recognition and detection systems with a crazy or asymmetrical design.

It's generally not easy to avoid being spotted by face recognition and detection systems because they use a rather solid algorithm to identify faces:

Based on the so-called Viola-Jones method, the algorithm examines the spatial relationships of an object captured in an image and looks for features commonly found in faces. Most faces have a dark region just above the eyes, while the cheek bones and nose bridge will appear lighter. When the algorithm detects enough such attributes, it guesses the object is a face. The method is generally regarded as effective. Errors are in favor of false positives, making it hard for unobstructed faces to escape notice when they aren't captured at an angle.

While the algorithm is effective, it can be fooled with make up applied to "alter the contrasts the technology looks for." Adam Harvey, a student at New York University, has discovered that "dark patterns applied around eyes and cheek bones" do this trick quite well by "throwing of the symmetry" and making you look silly.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Brightening Walls Around the World - GOOD Blog - GOOD

Cool Hunting let us know about Let's Colour, a sort of international version of Publicolor. Let's Colour goes around the world painting drab walls bright colors (the project is sponsored by, you guessed it, a paint company.)  Fernanda Romano, who works for Let's Colour, told Cool Hunting about the genesis of the project:

"let's find locations, places around the world, they're a bit dull, a bit grey. Let's engage the local community." She adds, encouraging community involvement was crucial to succeed: "Mandating things to people feels a bit old fashioned. People want to collaborate, people create content to share with the world."

Posted via web from Firesaw

How to infuriate/impress your waitress - Boing Boing

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 5:22 PM April 23, 2010


This is actually the work of artist Kevin Van Aelst, who assembles images from the detritus of everyday life. It's part of a series of fingerprints made with everything from macaroni to pie crust.

(Via My Food Looks Funny)

Posted via web from Firesaw

Clip from an illegally made movie about Iran's underground rock scene - Boing Boing

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 5:36 PM April 23, 2010

No One Knows About Persian Cats was filmed secretly, in just 17 days, in and around Tehran—where rocking out without government permission can earn you three months in prison.

"After the 1979 revolution, almost all public places were closed down, so you had a lot of these kids who are unemployed, sitting at home, and they start spending all their time on the internet with these very slow connections visiting unfiltered websites," [director Bahman] Ghobad told in a phone interview. "In order to not fall behind the rest of the world, they tried to familiarize themselves with the music of the West, and accomplished a lot in this way."

Posted via web from Firesaw

Determining civil and criminal liability for the lost iPhone

Editor's Note: One of the advantages of having an attorney on the TUAW team is the opportunity for this sort of deep-dive legal analysis. We asked Lauren to dig into the circumstances and statutes around the case of the mystery iPhone, and she obliged.

While Lauren is a real lawyer, she's not your lawyer, nor is she licensed in California, so please do not make decisions about what to do with found property in bars without consulting your own legal counsel.

Ever since Gizmodo put up those pictures and claimed to have Apple's next iPhone in hand, questions have been swirling about what the repercussions, if any, might be from a legal perspective. While the iPhone's peddler probably ought to be finding himself a lawyer, the more interesting question is this: is Gizmodo courthouse-bound? This question has gotten increasingly more interesting in light of the fact that as of today, CNET reports that Silicon Valley police are looking into the matter.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Republicans to Congresswoman: "Back in the Kitchen" | Women's Rights |

I appreciate it when people are upfront about their sexism and misogyny. When they try to pretend to be pro-woman later, you can remember what they really think.

So I'd like to thank the Republican Executive Committee in Medina County, OH, for including this line in their recent mailing to 15,000 households: "Let's take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen!"

Oh, the kitchen. Because in a sexist mindset, that is, of course, where all women belong. (I'm glad they're upfront about what they mean, instead of saying "put her in her place," and leaving it unsaid where they think that would be.) And if they can just vote Sutton out of office, then she go home and start cooking dinner like she's supposed to. Although, as Steven Benen points out in Washington Monthy, "For the record, Betty Sutton is an accomplished lawmaker and respected attorney — and does not have a background as a professional chef. In other words, there's nothing about the congresswoman's background that makes 'back in the kitchen' appropriate." But I guess "put her back in the courtroom" doesn't have the same misogynistic ring to it?

Posted via web from Firesaw

Mother Ticketed for Teaching Her Kid Principles | Criminal Justice |

Is it hypocritical to support the idea of civil disobedience while claiming to respect the law? Given my admiration for figures like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr, I used to think this was an easy question. After becoming a parent, though, I realized that there's a surprisingly fine line between sit-in and a tantrum. It's hard to teach a child to both respect and question authority.

But should it be a crime to teach your child about civil disobedience?

Renee Lynn Espeland learned the answer the hard way this month when she allowed her 12-year-old daughter, Frankie Hughes, to participate in a nonviolent sit-in in Des Moines, Iowa. The sit-in occurred in Senator Tom Harkin's office on April 7. On that day, mom and daughter — both members of the Catholic Worker community — were protesting war funding as part of the Peaceable Assembly Campaign. (Organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the campaign seeks to end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.)

When cops came to clear the office, some protesters refused to leave, and young Frankie decided to join their "die-in." For her actions, she received a trespassing charge. But that wasn't all. The next morning, cops served her mom with a misdemeanor ticket for "Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor." That's what a mother gets, apparently, for allowing a child act with moral conviction.

In subsequent interviews, Frankie showed herself to be a remarkably independent and thoughtful young woman. "How crazy," she told the Des Moines Register: "[My Mom] didn't contribute to anything. I did what was in my heart. No one suggested I do what I did." Then later to the Progressive, Frankie explained: “I did it because it’s just completely and totally wrong to give money to something that kills hundreds and hundreds of people... I’ve sent letters. I’ve called. And it never seems to get their attention. I’ve tried pretty much everything. We’re completely nonviolent. We just have to get their attention.”

Posted via web from Firesaw

"History Happened" Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

A reader writes:

Thanks for putting into much finer words than I could muster some reasoned reaction to Brooks’s column. His basic argument that the opposite ends of the “government wars” have moved farther apart is just wrong, in my view. The right has moved farther to the right – there is no doubt about that. And, yet, I think the Democratic approach to cleaning up the myriad and pervasive social and economic issues we face now has been essentially moderate, by historical standards.

These are not the Democrats of the 1960s and 1970s with a kind of knee-jerk approach that government is the only way to cure our social ills, crowding out all other options. Instead, the Democrats of 2010 are using government as the moderating force of – and definitively not the replacement for – the private sector. From healthcare to financial reform to climate control, the “liberals” are actually acting much more closely to the Burkean ideal than the so-called “conservatives” of the GOP.

Posted via web from Firesaw

HSB TUMBLES 4 U » Chris Ware’s rejected Fortune cover Ware used to...

Chris Ware’s rejected Fortune cover  Ware used to do full-page comics for NewCity, an independent paper in Chicago where I used to work.  I might regret not stealing one of his originals.  There was literally a fight for the 5-foot tall placard he designed for NewCity’s Best of Chicago issue.  Yeah, that’s right: NewCity had Chris Ware first, not the Reader.

Chris Ware’s rejected Fortune cover

Ware used to do full-page comics for NewCity, an independent paper in Chicago where I used to work.

I might regret not stealing one of his originals.

There was literally a fight for the 5-foot tall placard he designed for NewCity’s Best of Chicago issue.

Yeah, that’s right: NewCity had Chris Ware first, not the Reader.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Why Archie Comics' New Gay Character Matters | Gay Rights |

It's fair to say that Archie comics aren't exactly at the height of cultural relevance these days. The squeaky-clean misadventures of Riverdale's teenagers have never been known for their novel plot ideas or raw, realistic depiction of adolescent sexuality. They've arguably retained a following precisely because parents can buy them for their children, knowing that the plot will involve nothing more complex or provocative than a new wrinkle in the eternally unresolved Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle, or Jughead's latest attempt to find the perfect hamburger.  But by introducing a new gay character, Archie may be suddenly — and surprisingly — be on the cultural cutting edge.

That's right. Veronica #202, shipping in September, features the debut of Archie Comics' first gay character, Kevin Keller.  According to the story synopsis, "Kevin Keller is the new hunk in town and Veronica just has to have him. After Kevin defeats Jughead in a burger eating contest at Pop's Chocklit Shoppe, she desperately latches onto him. Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent."

Posted via web from Firesaw

The Closing Of The Conservative Mind, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Ambers observes:

Can anyone deny that the most trenchant and effective criticism of President Obama today comes not from the right but from the left? Rachel Maddow's grilling of administration economic officials. Keith Olbermann's hectoring of Democratic leaders on the public option. Glenn Greenwald's criticisms of Elena Kagan. Ezra Klein and Jonathan Cohn's keepin'-them-honest perspectives on health care. The civil libertarian left on detainees and Gitmo. The Huffington Post on derivatives.

I want to find Republicans to take seriously, but it is hard. Not because they don't exist -- serious Republicans -- but because, as Sanchez and others seem to recognize, they are marginalized, even self-marginalizing, and the base itself seems to have developed a notion that bromides are equivalent to policy-thinking, and that therapy is a substitute for thinking.

On cue, Jonah flies off the handle. I believe that the core argument of The Conservative Soul, which the right establishment ignored, holds up very well.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Do boobies lead to earthquakes? Theory will be tested Monday - Boing Boing


"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupting their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

Those are the words of Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, an Iranian cleric. Figuring this was one religious claim that could be easily tested and proven true or false, a Purdue student named Jennifer McCreight launched a Facebook campaign called, appropriately, Boobquake. The goal: Get women to don immodest clothing in public and then see if earthquakes follow.

The event is officially scheduled for Monday, April 26, worldwide—although the BBC will be filming in Washington DC.

I suppose there are plenty of reasons to find fault with the stunt, but the one that stands out to me is that Boobquake isn't accurately testing Sedighi's theory. It's not immodest dress alone that leads to earthquakes, he says, but the adultery that spreads through society because of immodest dress. So, there's really two claims that have to be tested here: First, does immodest dress really lead to adultery? And, second, does adultery lead to earthquakes? Somehow, I'm guessing that Everybody Cheat on Your Significant Other Monday wouldn't go over quite as well as Boobquake.

Plus, as Vaughan Bell points out, we really need a control planet to make this legit.

Booby shot courtesy Flickr user ex_magician, via CC

Posted via web from Firesaw

Shag print and book set from Baby Tattoo unveiled at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - Boing Boing

My friend Bob Self, publisher of Baby Tattoo Books, just let me know about a cool new Shag print and book set. I have the book, and it features the stupendous work from Shag's latest show, Autumn's Come Undone (I wrote about Shag's show here.)

Baby Tattoo Books is pleased to offer a limited Shag print and book set. A new 12 x 9 inch, 3 color screen print was created by Shag as a signed and numbered edition of 99. The sets consist of the exclusive print placed into an unsigned copy of Shag's new book Autumn's Come Undone. They are available at for $200. They will also be available this weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the Baby Tattoo booth #200.

You can buy Autumn's Come Undone (without the limited edition print) from Amazon for $26.40.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Foreign Service Institute's Extensive Language Courses Are Available Free Online - Language - Lifehacker

Foreign Service Institute's Extensive Language Courses Are Available Free OnlineThe U.S. Foreign Service Institute teaches foreign languages to government diplomats and personnel for duties abroad—and it's courses are available online, for free. Which means you can access audio, texts, and tests in 41 different languages.

The FSI Language Courses web site isn't actually maintained by the U.S. government itself, but the materials developed before 1989 are within the public domain (whether all of these materials came before then is not clear). Some languages contain more materials—for instance, the three texts on Sinhala isn't going to beat the giant course on French anytime soon. For the most part, most major languages have student texts in PDF format, and audio in MP3 format which you can later put onto your music player. The courses also feature tests to see how well you've covered the material. In some cases, "headstart" courses for certain regions in the world are also available.

The only major language not covered is English, which makes sense. The site is a little reminiscent of old-school language learning, but the resources are ridiculously extensive. As a native Vietnamese speaker, I didn't find the section archaic at all. Adios, Rosetta Stone.

Send an email to Erica Ho, the author of this post, at

Posted via web from Firesaw

Daring Fireball Linked List: Best Practices for Creating a Presentation on a Mac for Use on an iPad

Daring Fireball Linked List: CNet: Lost iPhone Prototype Spurs Police Probe


Silicon Valley police are investigating what appears to be a lost Apple iPhone prototype purchased by a gadget blog, a transaction that may have violated criminal laws, a law enforcement official told CNET on Friday.

Apple has spoken to local police about the incident and the investigation is believed to be headed by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, the source said. Apple’s Cupertino headquarters is in Santa Clara County, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.


Posted via web from Firesaw

Daring Fireball Linked List: Trade Secret Liability in the Gizmodo N90 iPhone Affair

Wow! Celebrate Hubble’s 20th With Best Space Image Ever | Wired Science |


We were already dreading the day Hubble dies, but this mind-blowing new image released to celebrate the space telescope’s 20th anniversary makes us wish for eternal life for the famous satellite even more.

This new gem rivals what may be Hubble’s most famous image, a shot of the Pillars of Creation taken in 1995. The shot above is of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula. The enormous pillar of gas and dust is 3 light-years tall. The seam in the middle is the result of new stars forming and emitting powerful gas jets that are ripping the pillar apart.

Hubble’s capabilities are all the more impressive considering the rocky start the telescope suffered through when a defect was discovered in its primary mirror after it had been launched and began returning images that weren’t in focus. Scientists and engineers were able to fix the problem, and today Hubble is more capable than ever with its new Wide Field Camera 3, installed last year.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Video: Ride Along With Ferrari’s New King of the 'Ring | Autopia

Finally A Green Story I Can’t Mock: The Sun Chips Biodegradable Bag

I love our planet as much as the next person, but I despise efforts by companies and people to get credit for caring about the earth with empty gestures.

Like Pepsi’s ridiculous Aquafina press stunt. Or all this black screen Earth Day nonsense. Or bringing in goats to eat your lawn. Or banning black cars.

But I can’t find anything wrong with Frito Lay’s creation of a 100% biodegradable bag for SunChips. It will completely compost in 14 weeks under ideal conditions. I can imagine a day when most of our trash goes into our own back yard, simply to melt away into the ground.

Posted via web from Firesaw

SEC Ogled Porn As The Financial Crisis Unfolded! So Did You

One SEC accountant tried to access porn 1,800 times in two weeks, another tried 16,000 times in one month. In another case, an SEC attorney spent eight hours a day looking at and downloading porn— as reported by the Associated Press and ABC News— when his disk drive was full he resorted to CDs and DVDs. Gross.

Over the last five years, the SEC has launched “33 probes of employees looking at explicit images,” according to an SEC memo obtained by the Associated Press. The bulk of those cases occurred in the last three years (with 16! in 2008—Bernie Madoff was arrested in Dec. 08), as the financial industry teetered on the brink of collapse. More than half, seventeen of the cases, included senior employees. The memo has led to a gaggle of giggle-worthy headlines like: “Did Porn Cause the Financial Crisis?,” “SEC Staffers Watched Porn, Not Wall Street,” “SEC Was Wanking Off While The Economy Crumbled,” etc.— conjuring images of rows upon rows of SEC computers tuned into porn while homeowners received foreclosure notices and Madoff victims wept. It’s certainly disturbing to hear of senior SEC officials perusing porn websites when they had a crisis on their hands, but lets be honest here, are we really that surprised? 70% of all porn access occurs during the 9am to 5pm work day (according to a Messagelabs report), and I’m not just talking about the SEC. The numbers are ugly.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Seattle civil rights issue turns on hacking and police gadgetry

When you watch CSI or 24, you see all kinds of technology being employed to catch the bad guy. On a regular police beat, however, much of that technology is used for administration, records, and protection of the cops against allegations of abuse of authority, brutality, and so on. Either way, it’s comforting to know that every interaction I’ll have with a cop if I were to be, say, arrested for being a blogger on a Friday night, will be recorded and kept at least for the duration of the trial.

That’s something that also comforted Eric Rachner way back in 2008, after a stunt that those of us in the neighborhood heard about shortly after. Some drunken street golf (don’t ask) resulted in a bystander being hit with a foam ball; the police were called, and a few of the guys were arrested. Rachner wasn’t actually implicated in the “assault,” and having done no crime, he refused to show his ID to an officer. The officer arrested him for obstruction of justice. Rachner ended up spending only a couple hours in jail, but charges were filed.

Now here’s the key part. Being sure he had committed no crime, and knowing there was a recording of the entire arrest, he and his lawyer requested the video. The Police refused to provide it on the grounds that the charges were pending, and some months later when the charges were dropped and the recordings requested again, they responded that the recordings were “past [their] retention period” and had been erased. Essentially, they wouldn’t give him the recording of his arrest until they knew they couldn’t. Sounds sketchy to me.

Rachner thought so too. As a computer security expert and “amateur civil rights buff” who believed a violation had occurred, he found it a lot to swallow. Could they really be deleting everything after 90 days? In this era of infinite storage? He felt sure that footage involved in an ongoing case would almost certainly be retained. After making sure it’d be legal, he started going over every detail of the video recording equipment and process. And after some investigation he had determined that a log is kept of every video that is recorded, watched, or deleted. He requested the log, and (I suspect) seeing the gig was up, the records department surrendered it, along with the videos the police had said didn’t exist (they later said there was a server error, which is not reflected in the logs). That was March of this year.

It’s really just a simple story of police trying to protect their own, but it really only reached its conclusion a short time ago, when Rachner’s investigation finally bore fruit — which is the reason I’m writing it up now and not last year. I thought it was interesting how this whole thing turned on the knowledge that data usually goes somewhere, and a little technical expertise and willpower set things right. It’s really only tangentially related to gadgets, but I think it’s a nice reminder of the responsibility we all bear in a society that relies on technology more and more every day.

More details and video at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Posted via web from Firesaw

See a stadium blown up before your very eyes (and ears)

It’s Friday so I can be excused for posting a bit of pablum with your meat. I’ve really never seen a more immersive video. What you are about to watch is a video taken from inside a stadium as its blown up. The camera offers a full 360-degree view of the structure and includes sound and motion as this thing comes down.

I’ve put the embed after the jump because it could interfere with some browsers.

UPDATE – Here’s the link. The embed is broken.

Posted via web from Firesaw

MPAA refused to tell U.S. GAO where it got its piracy numbers

More fallout from last week’s U.S. Government Accountability Office report on the entertainment industry’s piracy numbers. The gist of the report was that the government (and you and I) should never believe what the entertainment industry has to say again re: piracy because it was pulling data completely out of thin air. “Oh, 44 percent of all unauthorized file-sharing comes from universities, so you universities have to install filters to prevent students from downloading this and that, and we’ll need new laws passed to protect our dying business methods. Oh, wait, sorry, math error, that’s only 15 percent of unauthorized file-sharing. What, you want to know where we got these numbers from? Sorry, can’t tell you, trade secret, but please pass favorable legislation anyway, kthxbye.”

Posted via web from Firesaw

The Making Of an Invisible Nissan 370Z - 370z - Gizmodo

It's an ad for an oil company, but boy is it a great one. A 370Z was hand-reconstructed out of perspex, complete with semi-operational engine, and it's sure to impress any date other than Wonder Woman. [Doobybrain via CrunchGear]


Posted via web from Firesaw

Apple - Downloads - Email & Chat - More iChat Effects

Since I just posted Why Photo Booth is Different From Real Life" I thought I'd share some effects for more Photo Booth/iChat fun.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Why Photo Booth Is Different from Real Life - Photo Booth - Gizmodo

Why Photo Booth Is Different from Real LifeIn case you hadn't realize just how disgusting Apple's Photo Booth filters could be, Mark Pernice and team converted a Photo Booth self-portrait to a real life, 3D mask. Here was the before shot:

Why Photo Booth Is Different from Real LifeIt's the slow cone—and its tacit implication of being licked—that elevates the mask to its almost divine grotesqueness. [matic via Craft: via Make:]

Posted via web from Firesaw

It's Happened: The First Full Face Transplant - Face transplant - Gizmodo

It's Happened: The First Full Face TransplantThe operation took 22 hours and 30 doctors, but the world's first full facial transplant has been deemed "a success."

In a clandestine operation that took place almost a month ago in Barcelona, a man who'd lost his much of his face in a shooting accident received an entire face—skin and muscles, and as the BBC clarified, even "cheekbones, nose, lips and teeth"—from a donor.

Apparently the patient, who'd formerly been unable to swallow or breathe, has since seen himself in a mirror and was "calm and satisfied." It's unclear just how much function he's regained, and just like for any organ transplant, he'll be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life.

But...I [BBC]

Face Off!

Posted via web from Firesaw

Search Out Common Troubleshooting Problems Before Buying that New Gadget - Online Shopping - Lifehacker

Search Out Common Troubleshooting Problems Before Buying that New GadgetEven if you've honed your eye for fake online reviews, you can still end up purchasing a gadget that turns out to be a dud. Reader A3sthetix suggests searching out common repair issues before buying.

People often ask me if they should purchase some gadget I haven't used. I'll look up the usual reviews, but I also find searching previously mentioned troubleshooting web site FixYa and other forums for product problems before purchasing helps a lot for knowing what to expect. FixYa has been very helpful in determining which products are riddled with issues and bad support.

You'll still need to keep in mind that every gadget has occasional troubleshooting issues, but if a particular gadget seems to have a common and recurring problem, it's a good indicator that you may have the same problems.

Good advice. I'm gonna have to remember this the next time I make a big-ticket purchase.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Air Seal Your Home for Inexpensive Long-Term Savings - Saving Money - Lifehacker

Air Seal Your Home for Inexpensive Long-Term SavingsHome owners often focus on the big-tickets items when they start brainstorming ways to save on utility bills—an energy-efficient washer and dryer, new furnace, etc.—but sometimes the cheapest fix has the biggest benefit, like caulking air leaks.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Hangover Cures: Myth, Legend, and Fact - hangovers - Lifehacker

Hangover Cures: Myth, Legend, and FactHangovers rank right up there with drunk dialing your angry ex as one of the least pleasant drinking-related side effects. Stave off a hangover with these before and after tips—and skip the hangover myths.

Photo by Perfecto Insector.

Hangovers are no fun even if the events leading up to the hangover were a blast. Today we're taking a look at the various preventive measures and cures people undertake in the name of keeping hangovers away, highlighting the good, the bad, and the worthless hangover "cures".

Disclaimer: Before we delve into the myths about hangover cures and the effective ways you can deal with a hangover, let's get one big thing out of the way: As far as your body is concerned, alcohol is a poison. A little now and then might make you stronger—see The Princess Bride for a field-guide to better living through micro-dosing on poison—but a lot at one time throws your metabolic processes out of whack and your body goes full-bore at trying to purge itself of the Cutty Sark you so thoughtfully shared with it. The only 100% effective hangover prevention is to drink conservatively or not at all, and the only 100% effective hangover "cure" is time and fluids. If you never drank, however, you wouldn't be here reading this guide, so let's get on with the debunking and validating.

Good advice for drinkers out there.

Posted via web from Firesaw

This is Spinal Tape: adhesive tape with vertebrae - Boing Boing

Cory Doctorow at 1:35 PM April 23, 2010

Not only does This is Spinal Tape (a roll of adhesive tape printed with vertebrae) open up some intriguing decorative and logistical possibilities; it also wins the prize for Best Product Name Evar.

This is Spinal Tape

I like.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Mind the Gap: Different Kinds of Toughness - Notes from the Classroom - GOOD

An inner-city schoolteacher questions the fortitude of his supposedly toughest students.

Last week, my students entered our classroom and began work on the Do Now assignment that kicks off each class. Yet one student—we'll call him Elijah—walked in late, went straight to the windows and propped one open. I asked Elijah to close the window. After all, the temperature in the classroom was moderate, no other students had asked to open the window, and as a latecomer, Elijah's foremost responsibility was to catch up on the work he had already missed.

Elijah couldn't bear the disappointment of having to close the window, and he spent the rest of the period with his head on his desk, immune to my attempts to engage him. When I later asked him why he had put his head down, Elijah said, "Because you wouldn't let me open the window."

Welcome to my life.

I teach 11th graders, not 3rd graders, yet this immature breakdown confirmed a long-standing belief: There are different kinds of toughness, but too many of my students, especially the males, are deficient in the kind that matters most—the kind that empowers people to overcome adversity.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Microsoft wins its $100M tax-break and amnesty from broke-ass Washington State - Boing Boing

Cory Doctorow at 1:40 PM April 23, 2010

Jeff sez, "As the Washington State Legislature wound down its special session to close a $2.8 billion fiscal deficit, Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith successfully used a carefully timed press conference making veiled threats about tax rates as a concern regarding future job expansion in Washington State. Led by Finance Chair Rep. Ross Hunter, a 17 year former Microsoft manager, the Legislature gave Microsoft two huge gifts: a $100 million annual tax cut and an estimated $1.25 billion in amnesty on its 13 year Nevada tax dodge. To make ends meet, the Legislature cut $120 million from K-12 education and $73 million from university budgets. It also raised the general tax rate on businesses from 1.5% to 1.8% and created new '7-11' taxes on the Average Joe on beer, soda and candy. The benefits of 4,700 at-risk unemployed people with disabilities will expire in the coming year. No word on how cash-strapped Washington plans to address Smith's concerns about its educational system and transportation infrastructure. On Wednesday, Gates' father, Bill Sr. announced a citizen initiative to replace the business tax with an income tax on high earners (>$200,000/yr). Asked if his son was on board with the tax initiative, Gates Sr. said, improbably, they hadn't discussed it. 'I don't know what my son is going to do.' Governor Gregoire said this isn't over: once the budget is signed into law, 'there will be real cuts, there will be real people losing jobs.' Yesterday, Microsoft reported record quarterly revenue. It now has $39.6 billion in cash and short term investments."

Microsoft Wins Nevada Royalty Tax Cut and Tax Amnesty; Reports Record Revenue (Thanks, Jeff!)

So Washington state needs the money, but chooses instead to give Microsoft $100 million in tax cut, and an estimated $1.25 billion in amnesty for tax evasion for a potential total of $1.350 billion. To make up for the $2.8 billion deficit, the state instead cut funds from education, raised business taxes, and added taxes on beer, soda and candy. How does the massive gift benefit Washington state and its citizens exactly?

Posted via web from Firesaw

Popping The Bubble - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Anonymous Liberal, earlier this week:

The central dilemma for those us left in the empirical world is how to puncture the bubble. What can we do to make facts once again relevant? What can be done to dis-incentivize the kind of lying and reality denial that has become the hallmark of the modern conservative movement? I can't say that I have answers to these questions, but I'm pretty confident that these are THE questions that we should be asking. Policy debates are great, but only when they take place in the empirical world. If a majority of Americans aren't living in that world, then such debates risk becoming purely academic exercises.

Posted via web from Firesaw

New Study Says Racist Beliefs and Tough on Crime Go Hand-in-Hand | Criminal Justice

The idea that there are no racists in America is a popular political trope. Say whatever you want, support discriminatory public policy. As long as you follow your statements with the caveat “I mean, I'm not racist...” you'll be just fine. And so it's been with criminal justice policy. Even as our prison and jail populations have exploded — disproportionately locking up blacks and Latinos — there are still plenty of people out there who are willing to claim there's nothing racist about supporting mass incarceration.

Recently, a pair of criminologists took the time evaluate that claim. What did they find? Well, it turns out that people who support punitive criminal justice policy also...tend to be racists.

In a paper entitled "The Social Sources of Americans' Punitiveness," James Unnever and Francis Cullen test three theories that have been offered by criminologists to explain why the U.S. public supports punitive criminal justice policies. Those theories are: 1). the escalating crime distrust model, 2). the moral decline model and 3). the racial animus model.

According to the first theory, because Americans fear crime and distrust our government, we support punitive laws and policies. The second proposes that people support punitive policies because they think our country's morals are in decline. And the last theory suggests that racist beliefs are what fuel public support for harsh criminal punishments.

All three theories, the study found, explain why American support for so-called "tough-on-crime" penalties is so high. But it turns out that racist beliefs offer the best explanation of all.

Posted via web from Firesaw

ClearBits Is a More Usable and Fun LegalTorrents - Torrents - Lifehacker

The idea behind the previously mentioned LegalTorrents was good—a centralized, free, and legal BitTorrent search engine and tracker. It lacked in organization and immediate appeal, however. ClearBits is LegalTorrents' new version, and its got great stuff, and even no-software-needed downloading.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Set up a Phantom Mortgage to Trial Run the Expense of Home Ownership - Mortgage - Lifehacker

Set up a Phantom Mortgage to Trial Run the Expense of Home OwnershipHome ownership is a completely different affair than renting and is more expensive than you initially imagine. Set up a phantom expense account to determine if you're ready for the transition.

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

Over at the financial blog The Simple Dollar they highlight for atypical things you should do before buying a house. Among them they offer this advice about setting up regular savings for at least 24 months prior to purchasing a home:

A mortgage payment requires financial discipline as well as enough money, period. Can you cover the mortgage? The insurance? The taxes? The constant expenses that go with homeownership?

Use a mortgage calculator to figure up what your monthly mortgage payment will be. Tack 50% on top of that for insurance, taxes, and other expenses. Subtract your current monthly rent payment from that.

If you can't save that amount each month, then you're not ready to buy a house of that size.

While nobody likes to hear advice that might point out they aren't ready to taking on the financial burden and risk of home ownership and it certainly isn't sexy advice, it's valuable. Speaking as someone who—as an almost brand new home owner—had his furnace completely die, in a freezing November, a week before his wife was about to give birth at home, you should never underestimate the expense of home ownership and its surprise bills.

For more advice on atypical things you should do before considering buying a home, check out the full article at the link below. Have your own advice for prospective home owners? Let's hear about it in the comments.

Send an email to Jason Fitzpatrick, the author of this post, at

A good read for prospective home buyers.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Learn to Sharpen Good Knives with Water Stones - sharpening - Lifehacker

Good water stones are the best way to keep your excellent knives sharp for the longest time, but only if you know how to actually use them. This guide gets into the nitty-gritty of the angles, strokes, and science behind proper sharpening.

This advice on buying and maintaining water stones (a.k.a. wet stones or sharpening stones) and, more importantly, actually using them comes from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the food science geek who previously dropped science on baking wings with baking powder and the reverse-engineered Shake Shack burgers. It answers questions about soaking, angles, checking your "burr," and finishing the job the right way.

Hit the link for the write-up, and click through the slideshow for the details—the close-up photos make it worth the clicks.

Send an email to Kevin Purdy, the author of this post, at

Posted via web from Firesaw

The Wrong Man, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The lesson Greenwald draws from the Hatfill case:

No matter how many Steven Hatfills there are -- indeed, no matter how undeniable is the evidence that the Government repeatedly accused people of being Terrorists who were no such thing, even while knowing the accusations were false -- the authoritarians among us continue to blindly recite unproven Government accusations (but he's a Terrorist!) to justify the most extreme detention, surveillance and even assassination policies, all without needing or wanting any due process or evidence.  No matter how many times it is shown how unreliable those kinds of untested government accusations are (either due to abuse or error), there is no shortage of people willing to place blind faith in such pronouncements and to vest political leaders with all sorts of unchecked powers to act on them.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Raising Your Clone As Your Son, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Jason Kuznicki joins the debate:

Your genes are not little avatars of your Self. They are not post-theistic souls on which to pin your dashed hopes for immortality. They are not even alive, for crying out loud. Want to save your genes for all eternity? Build a fifty-foot granite monument and inscribe them. It would work about as well for your purposes.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Chaos Rings hits top grossing, going to the iPad

Square Enix's new original iPhone title, Chaos Rings, is a qualified hit; it's currently sitting right on top of the United States' top grossing apps list and at number 18 on the top paid apps list. The reviews are terrific as well, which means that Square Enix has pulled off a hit iPhone game at the surprising price of US$12.99.

Clearly, though, there is still a market for well-done, top level games (even at high price points).

At the same time, other big-name developers aren't so sure. Crytek (makers of Crysis for the PC) CEO Cevat Yerli claims that App Store pricing has been nothing but a burden for game developers, and he says that, even outside of Apple's ecosystem, game prices in general are being driven down by the App Store. "It's pushing out games at such a low price that it distorts the perception of what a game should be priced at," he said in a recent interview. "IPad and iPhone are both doing a real disservice to game prices by allowing games at such low price points – it is an issue the industry has to address."1

1Emphasis mine. Sounds and awful lot like he's advocating a gentleman's agreement between game publishers/developers to set a higher, "fairer" price on games in general. (a) Whatever happened to market forces dictating price? (b) Price fix much? (c) Let's ask Chungwa, LG, & Sharp how well they did doing that.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Eleven ways to get back to a Web page | Business Center | Working Mac | Macworld

Looking for a page you didn’t bookmark? Safari 4 can help

Where was it that you read that insightful analysis of the latest politico peccadillo? Where did you see that nifty mockup of the Next Great Thing from Apple? We all want to get back to pages we’ve visited on the Web sometimes. It’s easy to find a site that you’ve bookmarked—but what about the ones you breeze through without saving, but later wish you had? Safari 4 provides a myriad of options.

1. Open the last closed window

Did you close a window too soon? This is especially a pain when you close a multi-tabbed window, losing locations you haven’t even looked at yet. Choose History -> Reopen Last Closed Window to get it back, with all its tabs.

Posted via web from Firesaw

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I hate computers: confessions of a sysadmin

I often wonder if plumbers reach a point in their career, after cleaning clogged drain after clogged drain, that they begin to hate plumbing. They hate pipes. They hate plumber’s putty. They hate all the tricks they’ve learned over the years, and they hate the need to have to learn tricks. It’s plumbing, for goodness sake: pipes fitting together and substances flowing through them. How complicated can it be?

I hate computers. No, really, I hate them. I love the communications they facilitate, I love the conveniences they provide to my life, and I love the escapism they sometimes afford; but I actually hate the computers themselves. Computers are fragile, unintuitive things — a hodge-podge of brittle, hardware and opaque, restrictive software. Why?

continue reading

Posted via web from Firesaw

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes = Nature's frat boys? - Boing Boing

Maggie Koerth-Baker at 7:07 PM April 22, 2010

It's hard to follow the bisexual killer fungus, but how about this: A new study suggests that Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes (the main carriers of malaria in Africa) are attracted to the smell of beer and prefer victims who've been drinking. Quote the Conclusions: "These results suggest that beer consumption is a risk factor for malaria."

Posted via web from Firesaw