Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Is Likely The Best Photo You Will See All Day

mr T reagan

The Atlantic Tumblr picked this up.  Here is the backstory:

That's Nancy Reagan sitting on Mr. T's lap (Santa T?), giving him a smooch, at a White House Christmas party in 1983. The First Lady actually requested Mr. T come to the party dressed as Santa Claus. This photo was printed in countless newspapers and magazines around the world.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Haikuleaks: "Cable is Poetry"


HaikuLeaks searches through the Wikileaks "Cablegate" data for haikus. I'm not sure if it's fully automated, or human-generated—seems too perfect to be computerized. Either way, genius.

(thanks, JJ!)

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Police say gentleman playing "real-life Frogger" in traffic lost game


A 23-year-old man in South Carolina was hospitalized after having been hit by an SUV while playing a real-life version of the video game Frogger, according to police.

In the "Frogger" arcade game, players move frogs through traffic on a busy road and through a hazard-filled river. Before he was hit, police say the man had been discussing the game with his friends. Chief Jimmy Dixon says the man yelled "go" and darted into oncoming traffic in the four-lane highway.
Link to news report (via Submitterator, thanks J. Napsterista).

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life-sized Patrick Swayze wax figure: Dalton from "Road House"

Boing Boing
wax.jpgIf you've spent the last 20 years wishing every dat you had a life sized (6' 2") wax figure of Dalton, Patrick Swayze's dashing character from the 1989 smash hit Road House then you might want to stop reading this and step away from the computer for a while so your whole world doesn't come crashing down because you found out you missed your chance.

That is— unless you are the lucky duck who won just such a figure at auction recently. Logan Fleming made it, and according to the listing, this bad boy "sports his famous flowing 1980s hair style, khaki pants, and short sleeve black polo shirt." It's worth noting that shoes were not included, so if you bought this figure, the shoes must be obtained separately—the listing doesn't specify what shoe size the figure requires. No word on the final selling price, either.

[Thanks Agent M]

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Man smuggled coke in Easter egg sweets

Boing Boing
Estebag Galtes, 23, of Miami, was busted a few days ago for attempting to smuggle 14 pounds of Cocaine into the US from Colombia. He had packed most of it into Easter egg candies. Perhaps he would have been less suspicious if they were inside Christmas ornaments.
 Cnn 2010 Crime 12 27 California.Easter.Egg.Smuggle Story.Coke.Eggs.Ice U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers sensed something was a little off with candy for the wrong holiday, a spokeswoman said.

"That's certainly an anomaly, isn't it? They're trained to detect anomalies in all kinds of situations," said Lee Harty, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "It's an unusual concealment method -- at least for this time of year. Maybe not for spring."

"Feds: Smuggler caught hiding cocaine in Easter eggs before Christmas"

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lesbians make more money than straight women (And nobody really knows why)


Statistically, women are paid less than men for the same jobs. But here's something I didn't realize—lesbian women are paid more than straight women.

Even when you control for factors like race, education, profession, location, and even number of children, lesbians still make about 6% more than straight gals. There are a lot of theories about why this happens (I, for one, am curious as to whether lesbians are more likely to negotiate for raises than straight women), but one theory centers around the idea that straight women expect to, eventually, be involved with a man. And they expect, just as reasonably, that that man will earn more than they do—and, thus, when it comes time to decide who will make career sacrifices, the women expect that they'll be the ones to take that hit. All those assumptions make sense—given what we know about American life—and they all lead to straight women investing less human capital in their careers. Anyway, that's the theory tested by a 2009 study explained by The Big Think blog:

This theory is cleverly tested in a paper which calculates the wage premium paid to lesbians in two distinct groups--those who were once in a heterosexual marriage and those have never been married.* The assumption made is reasonable; lesbian women who were once married to men (about 44% of the lesbians in the sample) presumably have in the past had the expectation that they would have a marriage partner with a higher income. The never-married women might also have had this expectation, but it is much more likely that, on average, women in that group expected to be in a relationship with another woman with a comparable income.

Does the evidence support the theory that the wage premium can be explained by greater investment in more market-oriented skills by lesbian women? Well the premium does not disappear completely for the subset of previously married women but is reduced by about 17%, providing some support for the idea. At 5.2% though, the once-married lesbian premium is still high enough that I don't think we can consider the case closed.

So why does the lesbian wage premium exist? Nobody is really sure. Hopefully further research will make more sense of this. I'm posting about it mainly because I had no idea this phenomenon existed, until I read the Big Think story. Some other research angles I'd love to know more about: Whether some lesbians make more than others and whether that can be correlated to differences in social circles and personality; what do high-earning straight women and high-earning lesbian women have in common; and (from a more navel-gazing perspective) where do bisexual women stand?

Image: Some rights reserved by AMagill

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Warning: New Phishing Scam Targets Netflix Subscribers

Trend Micro reports that Netflix subscribers are being targeted in a new phishing attack using e-mails that appear to be from Netflix and warns that "Your Account Has Been Suspended:"

Netflix, a popular Internet subscription service for movies and TV shows, is now a target of a new phishing campaign. In this attack, recipients of a spam message are advised that their registered credit card no. in the said site has expired. Users are advised to update their account by clicking on the link provided. As with previous phishing attempts, users are actually lead to a spoofed Netflix site, wherein users are tricked into giving out their login credentials and other personal information. Once the said information are provided, they are then redirected to the real Netflix site.

If you get an e-mail from Netflix that states that "Your account has been suspended," do not click on the link in the e-mail.

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Profiling the tradesmen and women of the 21st century


Michael Doyle, of OmniCorpDetriot, pointed us to The Journeyman Project, a wonderful photo essay blog being done by Troy Paff, photographer and cameraman for Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. Troy writes on the blog:

In the five years since Dirty Jobs' premiere, its small crew has experienced an unprecedented number of vocations. With nearly 300 jobs and 50 states under their belt, Dirty Jobs has investigated - and celebrated - those occupations which, while often unsavory, keep the country running. A common thread which runs through these occupations is a particular character required to do them. It is a fundamental commitment to do a job and do it well, where glamor takes a back seat to service, and where pride in a job done well is its own reward. It is this sense of character that Troy will explore, shining a light on the individual behind the job, and expressing the personality and the motivations of the worker.

Some of the folks he's profiled are MAKE pals Jeff Sturges, of OmniCorpDetriot, and Bethany Shorb, of Cyberoptix Tie Lab (top two photos), as well as metalsmith Carlos Nielbock (bottom).

The Journeyman Project


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Zombie apocalypse advice for the holiday season

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Assange: US pushing "Digital McCarthyism" in assault on Wikileaks

[Video Link] Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview with msnbc's Cenk Uygur today. During the exchange, Assange denies conspiring to commit espionage with U.S. Army Specialist Bradley Manning, as it is believed US prosecutors would like to charge. Assange says these claims are "absolute nonsense." Responding to Vice President Biden's claims that he is "a high-tech terrorist," the leaker-in-chief effectively accused the United States of terrorism—threatening violent, extralegal actions in its assault on Wikileaks.

Well, let's look at the definition of terrorism. The definition of terrorism is a group that uses violence or the threat of violence for political ends. [W]hoever the terrorists are here, it's not us. But we see constant threats from people in the Re -- you know, Republicans in the Senate trying to make a -- a name for themselves, the people like Sarah Palin, top shock jocks on Fox and, unfortunately, some members, also, of the Democratic Party, calling for my assassination, calling for the illegal kidnapping of my staff. And -- and just a few days ago, it was in Fox, that was the phrase that was used -- illegal. He should be illegally murdered if necessary-- assassinated by the law, if possible, if not, illegally. What sort of message does that send about the rule of law in the United States? That is conducting violence in order to achieve a political end -- the elimination of this organization or the threat of violence to achieve a political end, the elimination of a publisher. And that is the definition of terrorism.

Assange is nothing if not articulate, and it's remarkable to see him go on such a hard offensive like this.

"Europeans are starting to wonder if the US is obeying the rule of law," he continued. "When people call for illegal, deliberate assassination and kidnapping of others, they should be held to account. They should be charged for incitement to commit murder."

As an aside: Yesterday, Assange was quoted in a BBC News interview as saying that persons affiliated with Wikileaks have already been assassinated; it is presumed he was referring to the reported murders of 2 men writing for Wikileaks in Kenya in 2009. Today, he said "No one... in our four years has ever been physically harmed as a result of what we have done." I'm guessing he's referring to the fact that there have been no known killings of people named in the leaks, versus these two activists working to propagate the disclosure of information about corruption and illegal state activity, but — that could be clearer.

And as a further aside, Assange looks exhausted.

The transcript of his interview with MSNBC is here.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Fat is not the problem"

Finally, an article in the popular press affirms what we primal diet advocates have been saying for some years now.

In its December 20, 2010 online issue, the Los Angeles Times reports what the author Marni Jameson calls "A reversal on carbs"

"Most people can count calories. Many have a clue about where fat lurks in their diets. However, fewer give carbohydrates much thought, or know why they should.
But a growing number of top nutritional scientists blame excessive carbohydrates — not fat — for America's ills. They say cutting carbohydrates is the key to reversing obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension."
"Fat is not the problem," says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases."

Unlike many journalists writing on this topic, Jameson commendably went to the trouble of consulting a respected biochemist for her article and to correctly explain the role of carbohydrate in altering metabolism via its effect on insulin:

To understand what's behind the upheaval takes some basic understanding of food and metabolism.
All carbohydrates (a category including sugars) convert to sugar in the blood, and the more refined the carbs are, the quicker the conversion goes. When you eat a glazed doughnut or a serving of mashed potatoes, it turns into blood sugar very quickly. To manage the blood sugar, the pancreas produces insulin, which moves sugar into cells, where it's stored as fuel in the form of glycogen.

If you have a perfectly healthy metabolism, the system works beautifully, says Dr. Stephen Phinney, a nutritional biochemist and an emeritus professor of UC Davis who has studied carbohydrates for 30 years. "However, over time, as our bodies get tired of processing high loads of carbs, which evolution didn't prepare us for … how the body responds to insulin can change," he says.

When cells become more resistant to those insulin instructions, the pancreas needs to make more insulin to push the same amount of glucose into cells. As people become insulin resistant, carbs become a bigger challenge for the body. When the pancreas gets exhausted and can't produce enough insulin to keep up with the glucose in the blood, diabetes develops.

I don't know how many times I have seen not only journalists but also health care professionals (like dietitians or medical doctors) incorrectly equate dietary ketosis and ketoacidosis.  Kudos to Jameson for even getting her facts straight on benign dietary ketosis versus diabetic ketoacidosis:

"Carbohydrates are a metabolic bully," Phinney says. "They cut in front of fat as a fuel source and insist on being burned first. What isn't burned gets stored as fat, and doesn't come out of storage as long as carbs are available. And in the average American diet, they always are."

Here's how Phinney explains it: When you cut carbs, your body first uses available glycogen as fuel. When that's gone, the body turns to fat and the pancreas gets a break. Blood sugar stabilizes, insulin levels drop, fat burns. That's why the diet works for diabetics and for weight loss.

When the body switches to burning fat instead of glycogen, it goes into a process called nutritional ketosis. If a person eats 50 or fewer grams of carbs, his body will go there, Phinney says. (Nutritional ketosis isn't to be confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that can occur in diabetics.)

Beyond the fat-burning effects of ketosis, people lose weight on low-carb diets because fat and protein increase satisfaction and reduce appetite. On the flip side, simple carbs cause an insulin surge, which triggers a blood sugar drop, which makes you hungry again.
Jameson even presents the evolutionary argument against agricultural and refined foods:

As nutrition scientists try to find the ideal for the future, others look to history and evolution for answers. One way to put our diet in perspective is to imagine the face of a clock with 24 hours on it. Each hour represents 100,000 years that humans have been on the Earth.

On this clock, the advent of agriculture and refined grains would have appeared at about 11:54 p.m. (23 hours and 54 minutes into the day). Before that, humans were hunters and gatherers, eating animals and plants off the land. Agriculture allowed for the mass production of crops such as wheat and corn, and refineries transformed whole grains into refined flour and created processed sugar.

Some, like Phinney, would argue that we haven't evolved to adapt to a diet of refined foods and mass agriculture — and that maybe we shouldn't try.

Does this mean that the mainstream may embrace primal dieting?  Perhaps.  From a scientific perspective, only primal dieting stands solidly on evolutionary theory, which forms the foundation of biology, and clinical evidence for primal dieting grows daily.  I have a vision of the entire world returned to a life in accord with primal wisdom.  I look forward to seeing more of this kind of reporting in the conventional media.

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The Arizona motorcycle saddle

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar-eclipse-2004.jpg (images via Wikipedia)

Macrobius,_lunar_eclipse.jpg For the past two weeks, as we've followed the moon nearly halfway around the sky, I've talked about the relative positions of the earth and the moon and the sun using a simple system clock-based system to point to everything. As we've been doing it, we're looking down from above the north pole of the earth, which you can draw as a clock face.

The sun is off in the distance in the 6 o'clock position. Almost two weeks ago, when we first saw the little sliver of a moon and the remainder of the disk full of earthshine, the moon was around the 5 o'clock position. When it flew past Jupiter almost a week ago it had moved up to 3 o'clock, and now, as it is coming around to full, it is nearly to 12 o'clock.

Often when you present this way of looking at positions of the sun and the earth and the moon to kids for the first time (and it work even better if you use a lamp for the sun, your head for the earth, and a Styrofoam ball for the moon), you will be asked "but wait, how come we can ever see the full moon?"

It's true that in this simple view every time the moon moves to the 12 o'clock position it should fall into the earth's shadow and disappear. We should never see a full moon. The only reason we do is because the orbit of the moon is tilted by just a little bit, so most of the time when the moon reaches the 12 o'clock position it is a little above or a little below the long shadow of the earth.

That's the same reason, of course, that we don't get eclipses of the sun every time the moon is at the 6 o'clock position. It's too bad, really, because if eclipses of the sun actually happened every month maybe I would finally get a chance to see one. Which I still haven't. Which makes me bitter.

Every once in a while, though, the sun, earth, and moon do line up just right, and at the precise moment when the moon should be completely full, it instead really does disappear into a lunar eclipse.

One of those times when this happens is tonight. Starting at 9:30pm here in southern California (where, incidentally, we received record rainfall yesterday and the probability of clear skies for tonight hovers in the low zeros), or 5:30am GMT, the moon first touches the earth's shadow. I like to think of it from the perspective of someone on the moon watching. First the limb of the earth touches the sun, then slowly the earth slides across, making the lunar landscape darker and darker, until finally the entire sun is extinguished and it is almost as dark as a frigid lunar nighttime.

The full eclipse starts at 11:41pm PST for me, when I will be looking up at the clouds in wonder, or 7:41am GMT, and lasts a little longer than an hour before the moon slowly reappears.

If you're lucky enough to have clear skies and be awake for that hour of total eclipse, one of the most interesting things that you will notice is that the moon doesn't actually disappear, but instead can turn a dim spooky red. What is going on? Let's think about standing on the surface of the moon again. From the moon's perspective, the earth is new - totally unilluminated - and though you could see some of the brighter lights of cities and fishing fleets it is not enough to light your landscape. But with the sun directly behind the earth, all parts of the earth's atmosphere would glow with a 360 degree ring of sunset, so all around you would not be night, but an eerie twilight.

It's a sight no one has ever seen. No pictures exist anywhere of the view from the moon of the earth, with its full atmosphere aglow, yet I still know that it must be one of the most wondrous sights in the solar system. I wish I could be up there on the moon tonight staring back towards home, but I'll just have to imagine - as you should too - that moment, standing on the edge of some crater, looking out across the desolate lunar landscape.

You're looking up at the earth but you can't see too much yet other than the glare from the quickly shrinking sliver of sun. Suddenly the entire sun is covered, your eyes adjust and you look up to see the red glow all the way around, the tiny outer cover of earth that makes it home.

You watch for an hour as the glow changes with the clouds and with the slow rotation of the earth until suddenly a little sliver of sun appears from the western side of the earth and you're quickly blinded again as lunar day time slowly reappears across your landscape, lighting your footprints in the dust showing you the way to begin the long walk home.

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Lighthouse frozen in ice

Above is a lighthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The spray from Lake Erie froze layer by layer until the structure was encased in ice. has a gallery of photos by George Payamgis. "Frozen Cleveland lighthouse draws visitors"

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Garter belt for saggy pants

garter-belt-for-saggy-pants.jpgThis garter belt type device is used to keep saggy pants falling to the ground. It was invented by 43-year-old Andrew Lewis. You can buy the contraption for $30. I will be surprised if he sells even one, except possibly as a gag gift.

Harlem inventor has an unbelievable answer to a 'sagging' problem

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Update on "inchvesting" in Detroit

TURNING INTO GODS - 'Concept Teaser' from Jason Silva, a resident of the Imagination Age in Loveland, who believes that it's possible for life in our hybrid community to go on forever, and ever, and ever...

If you saw a tiny inch-tall horse standing among thoroughbreds, would you bet on it? You might if you suspected it could grow during the race and at some point, before the finish line, turn into a flying dragon. That's what I thought about when Jerry Paffendorf first told me about his plans for the Loveland project in Detroit.

I bought one thousand square inches (for $1 each) in Loveland's first microhood, Plymouth. This neighborhood is called the Imagination Age. There are 588 residents of Plymouth including Jane McGonigal, Christian Renaud and Stephen McGee and dozens more in the Imagination Age, among them Grady Booch, Frank Rose and Jason Silva

Some "inchvestors" have been letting Loveland unfold before hatching development plans, but others have been ignited by the pace set by the project's directors. Loveland recently applied for support from the Knight Foundation to support development. Check the project out if you're interested in the future of news and creative approaches to making Detroit the city of the future once again.

Amanda Peterson, an Urban Planning Masters student at the University of Michigan recently reached out to me with her housemate Erin Guido to collaborate on the Imagination Age's urban augmented architecture project: Inchvisible Houses. "Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement, has been a great inspiration on the path to Inchvisible Houses. The rise of the small but beautifully designed home is just beginning, and so is the rise of young people creating their own futures.

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These Apps Are Rampantly Stealing Your Info Without Permission [Privacy]

I love Pandora. I really couldn't do without it. But I could do without its sending my demographic information, phone ID, and location to eight trackers across six companies. And Pandora's far from the worst offender, the WSJ shows us. More »

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Wireless carriers openly considering charging per service (update: audio)

That slide above is no joke -- it comes from a marketing webinar put on by two companies that count Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone as clients, and it describes a system that identifies customer internet activity and charges a different rate for using Facebook than watching YouTube, while allowing access to Vodafone services for free. Yes, that's basically the nightmare scenario for net neutrality advocates. The two companies behind the slide are Allot Communications and Openet, which sell subscriber-management tools to carriers around the world -- tools that Allot's director of marketing says can scan even encrypted packets to determine what service customers are using and charge accordingly. We're not making this up -- here's the direct quote from the webinar:
[We use] a number of different methods to accurately identify the application -- methods like heuristic analysis, behavioral and historical analysis, deep packet inspection, and a number of other techniques. What's key is that we have the best application identification available on the market, which means that even applications that are encrypted or use other methods to evade detection will be correctly identified and classified... We essentially feed this real-time information about traffic and application usage into the policy and charging system. Each subscriber has a particular service plan that they sign up for, and they're as generic or as personalized as the operator wants.
Yeah, that's not how anyone actually wants the internet to work -- except carriers, who've been saying increasingly insane things about charging even smartphone manufacturers for customer data usage lately. What's more, it's rumored that the FCC will cave to Verizon and AT&T and exempt wireless internet service from major parts of net neutrality regulation it's expected to pass next week, so this nonsense could very well hit the US sooner rather than later. We'll be keeping a close eye on things -- we'll let you know. Meanwhile, listen to the webinar yourself immediately 

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First concept art from Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

First concept art from Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

We've got an EXCLUSIVE look at the first four concept images from Syfy's upcoming two-hour pilot movie for Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. The movie focuses on the adventures of a young William Adama during the 10th year of the first Cylon war.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

TSA misses enormous, loaded .40 calibre handgun in carry-on bag

A man who flew out of Houston's George Bush airport discovered a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag after landing; he'd forgotten he was carrying it and the eagle-eyed TSA screeners were too busy ogling his penis to spot the loaded gun in the nearly empty bag from which he'd dutifully removed his laptop.
"I mean, this is not a small gun," Seif said. "It's a .40 caliber gun."

Seif says it was an accident which he didn't realize until he arrived at his destination. He says he carries the glock for protection but forgot to remove it from his bag. He reported the incident as soon as he landed, shocked at the security lapse.

"There's nothing else in there. How can you miss it? You cannot miss it," Seif said.

Authorities tell ABC News the incident is not uncommon, but how often it occurs is a closely guarded government secret. Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security.

A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA's new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.

Man boards plane at IAH with loaded gun in carry-on (via Consumerist)

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Lovely Star Wars posters

Olly Moss produced these handsome, authorized Star Wars posters with Mondo Tees; they go on sale on Monday.

Star Wars (via Super Punch)

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Why you shouldn't deep-fry a gnocchi

The rare Thor movie poster that only the cast and crew got to keep

The rare Thor movie poster that only the cast and crew got to keep

We've had our fun with the official Thor poster, but for all its coolness it pales in comparison to this illustration that was commissioned exclusively for Thor's filmmakers.

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Call it what you will

funny pictures-Call it what you will--god, fate, a higher power, or just a really enormous cat--but something was looking out for Bravo Company that day.

Call it what you will–god, fate, a higher power, or just a really enormous cat–but something was looking out for Bravo Company that day.

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Why the US Education System Is So Fascinating

Not every public school in the world has your problems, America.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

US builds case against Assange


The next court hearing for Julian Assange in London is scheduled to begin around 930am ET on Thursday. Assange is currently being held in London's Wandsworth prison (that's him in the van, above); Sweden wants him extradited over alleged sex crimes.

The US wants him for something else. In the New York Times this evening, Charlie Savage reports on the case federal prosecutors are trying to build against Assange, over the publication of classified government documents. Key to their efforts would be any evidence that Assange worked to encourage or assist Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the data (he's in the Marine brig in Quantico, VA). Snip from the NYT story:

Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.

Read the rest.

Wired's Kevin Poulsen, who has been covering this story longer than anyone, pointed out on Twitter that "The Times missed it, but we did publish that section of the chats. Beginning [with] 'preferably openssl the file with aes-256." And as Poulsen noted, if Assange was not in communication with Manning during the period in which Manning had access to SIPRnet (the military network on which these documents were made available) the government has no case. "If Assange is indicted," Poulsen wrote, "I predict it won't be the Espionage Act. It'll be conspiracy to violate 18 USC 1030(a)(1)."

Related: Human Rights Watch today became the latest human rights group to condemn the US government's plans to attempt to prosecute Assange and Wikileaks.

Prosecuting WikiLeaks for publishing leaked documents would set a terrible precedent that will be eagerly grasped by other governments, particularly those with a record of trying to muzzle legitimate political reporting.

A statement on the Wikileaks situation by journalists' advocacy group PEN is here.

(Photo: A van carrying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange enters Wandsworth prison in south west London December 14, 2010. A British judge granted bail of 200,000 pounds, about $317,400, on Tuesday for his release. Prosecutors, representing Swedish authorities, quickly said they would appeal against the bail decision and Judge Howard Riddle said Assange must remain in custody until a new hearing is held within 48 hours. REUTERS/Andrew Winning.)

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UBS's 43-page dress code requires tie-knots that match your facial morphology

The Union Bank of Switzerland has released a new, 43-page dress-code for employees in four test branches that specifies things like what color underwear you're allowed to wear (underwear that matches your flesh-tones); what kind of tie-knot you're allowed to have (one suited to the "morphology" of your face); prohibitions on new shoes, millimetre-specific fingernail length requirements; and the dictum that any scent must be applied as soon as you leave the shower and no later. The code is meant to help restore confidence in UBS, which was a central player in the reckless, planet-destroying subprime gambling spree. If the code is "successful," all employees will be subjected to it.
"Light makeup consisting of foundation, mascara and discreet lipstick ... will enhance your personality," the code says, while advising women not to wear black nail polish and nail art.

The hair-care section notes studies have shown that properly cared-for hair and a stylish haircut "increase an individual's popularity."

On the other hand, designer stubble is out of the question for men, as is excessive facial hair.UBS's advice for men even extends to underwear, which should be of good quality and easily washable, but still remain undetectable. Black knee-high socks are preferable as they prevent showing bare skin when crossing legs, it says.

Dress to Impress, UBS Tells Staff (via Lowering the Bar)

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DanKam: mobile app to correct color blindness

Legendary DNS hacker Dan Kaminsky has a new, out-of-left-field project to mitigate color blindness with augmented reality software for mobile phones. DanKam is a mobile app that you calibrate so it knows the specifics of your color blindness (I can't see a lot of greens), and then it automatically color-corrects the world as seen through the phone's lens to compensate for your deficit.
In terms of use cases -- matching clothes, correctly parsing status lights on gadgets, and managing parking structures are all possibilities. In the long run, helping pilots and truckers and even SCADA engineers might be nice. There's a lot of systems with warning lights, and they aren't always obvious to the color blind.

Really though, not being color blind I really can't imagine how this technology will be used. I'm pretty sure it won't be used to break the Internet though, and for once, that's fine by me.

Ultimately, why do I think DanKam is working? The basic theory runs as so:

1. The visual system is trying to assign one of a small number of hues to every surface
2. Color blindness, as a shift from the green receptor towards red, is confusing this assignment
3. It is possible to emit a "cleaner signal", such that even colorblind viewers can see colors, and the differences between colors, accurately.
4. It has nothing to do with DNS (I kid! I kid! But no really. Nothing.)

DanKam: Augmented Reality For Color Blindness (Thanks, Dan!)

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Assange to be freed on bail

tumblr_ldgnumkIYG1qd5ygvo1_500.jpg Julian Assange is free. A British judge, after ruling that he would no longer permit journalists to report 'live' on twitter from his courtroom, denied an appeal against Assange's conditional bail today. It emerged yesterday that the appeal was pursued by prosecutors in England without co-operation from their Swedish counterparts, whose allegations of sexual assault led to Assange being taken into custody by British police. Assange denies the allegations, and some suggest that prosecutors in both countries are allowing themselves to be politically influenced. Assange is the founder and coordinator of whistleblower clearing house Wikileaks, whose steady drumbeat of disclosures has embarrassed the U.S. government and others. His lawyer, Mark Stephens, said he was shocked by British prosecutors' decision to independently challenge Assange's release, despite his having been accused of no crime in the U.K.: "They said yesterday that they were acting on behalf of the Swedish authorities ... It's fair to say that this is all a bit fishy." Justice Ousley's ruling was made at 1 p.m. GMT and Assange is expected to be released as soon as paperwork on his £240,000 bail is done, according to the BBC. He'll be under 'mansion arrest' at the country home of a wealthy British journalist, having handed over his passport. Photo: Reuters

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jon Favreau is OUT as Iron Man 3's director

Jon Favreau is OUT as Iron Man 3's director

No wonder Jon Favreau was so in the dark about Marvel's plans for their heroic film slate: The man who put Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man mask, and made Marvel a movie powerhouse, isn't coming back for the third go-round.

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Art museum bans pencils and sketchpads

John William Waterhouse: Hylas and the Nymphs (1896). This painting is not in the special exhibition at the de Young. I just like it.

Here's your daily dose of confoundingly moronic logic: the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum ( a public, city-owned institution in San Francisco) forbids people from sketching the special exhibitions.

Pencils are allowed in all nooks of New York's Museum of Modern Art, for instance, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston only concerns itself with serious replication (as in, "you must obtain a written permit to copy using oils or acrylics, and/or to use an easel"). San Francisco Museum of Modern Art? As long as you don't use a pen, you're fine.

Heck, the Berkeley Art Museum goes so far as to have pencils available at the counter where you buy your ticket.

At the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Clare Kunny of the education department was surprised I even called to ask.

"This is something we highly encourage," Kunny said. "It's an age-old tradition."

I've sketched at the Getty, and anyone who has sketched an original painting (and not just a print, which can never capture the vitality of the original) will attest to the incredible value of this type of study.

De Young draws the line on sketching (Thanks, Jason!)

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Homemade felted magnetic Katamari Damacy set

Bus driver loses job after officials discover video of snowman murder

[video link]

An Illinois bus driver lost their job (or quit, it's not entirely clear) after supervisors at the transit agency viewed this YouTube video of the driver running over a snowman in the middle of a street.

The video is posted on YouTube. It shows the bus veering toward the snowman on the University of Illinois campus and running over it. The video was posted after a snowstorm earlier this month and shows only one other vehicle on the street at the time. That car steered around the snowman moments before the bus hit it. It isn't clear who built the snowman or shot the video.
Story's here. Next: Anonymous vs. Bus Drivers?

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Giant penis crop-circle mysteriously erected at Eiffel Tower in Paris


Holy dueling Gallic phallic symbols, Batman! French journalist Aude Baron tells Boing Boing,

On Friday, if you were going to the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, you could see a giant penis! It was drawn into the snow covering the grass. A Dutch tourist took a picture and posted it on Twitter. Amazing view! But what if it was a PhotoShop? To be sure, I called the store which is a the first floor of the Tour Eiffel, and I was confirmed the masterpiece was still here, making everyone laugh. Unfortunately the garden department of Paris city hall told me they would soon rake it up.
Full story here in The original picture is here.

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