Day: June 24, 2016

Mysterious "Men In Black" spotted in Iowa

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In recent weeks, several people have reported strange “men in black” standing on the side of roads in Muscatine County, Iowa. Some have witnessed the unusual trenchcoat-clad figures stepping into the roadway just as vehicles pass. In UFOlogy and conspiracy circles, Men In Black are thought to be threatening government agents or perhaps extraterrestrials.

“My son has experienced this and it’s no joke,” said Beatrice Wilson Strong. “It was really a frightening experience to him.”

The Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office requests anyone who encounters these creepy characters to call 911.

“We do take this seriously,” says the Sheriff’s Office on their Facebook page.

(KWQC via The Anomalist)

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When was "going to the beach" invented?

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Until the 18th century, the seashore was not a place most people would go to relax. In ancient times, it was where you might run into a variety of monsters like Scylla and Charybdis. The shore is also where one might encounter pirates, smallpox, or even a wayward Kraken. Then something changed. Sorbonne University historian Alain Corbin explores this unusual history in the book The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750-1840, one of the sources for a fascinating Smithsonian magazine article about “Inventing the Beach”:

Around the mid-18th century, according to Corbin, European elites began touting the curative qualities of fresh air, exercise and sea bathing. Especially in Britain, home of the Industrial Revolution, aristocrats and intellectuals became preoccupied with their own health and hygiene. They viewed workers, whose numbers were multiplying in factories and new industrial towns, as strengthened through labor. By comparison, the upper classes seemed fragile and effete: lacking in physical prowess and destined for decline. The notion of the “restorative sea” was born. Physicians prescribed a plunge into chilly waters to invigorate and enliven. The first seaside resort opened on England’s eastern shore in the tiny town of Scarborough near York. Other coastal communities followed, catering to a growing clientele of sea bathers seeking treatment for a number of conditions: melancholy, rickets, leprosy, gout, impotence, tubercular infections, menstrual problems and “hysteria.” In an earlier version of today’s wellness culture, the practice of sea bathing went mainstream…

Tracing this remarkable turnaround, “the irresistible awakening of a collective desire for the shore,” Corbin concludes that by 1840, the beach meant something new to Europeans. It had become a place of human consumption; a sought-after “escape” from the city and the drudgery of modern life. The rise of trains and tourism facilitated this cultural and commercial process. Travel became affordable and easy. Middle-class families took to the shore in ever-increasing numbers. In sailors’ jargon, “on the beach” once connoted poverty and helplessness; being stranded or left behind. Now it conveyed health and pleasure. The term “vacation,” once used to describe an involuntary absence from work, was now a desired interlude.

Inventing the Beach: The Unnatural History of a Natural Place(Smithsonian)

The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750-1840 (Amazon)

photo above by Gray Malin; painting below by Edouard Manet

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A Pod To Call Your Own

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Not a hotel, not a dorm, not quite a hostel, open by design and communitarian in spirit — Los Angeles-based PodShare is something else. And, potentially, something bigger: An affordable way to foster community in a city that’s increasingly stratified by class. This week, to start Season 3 of HOME: Stories From L.A., it’s the story of one young entrepreneur and her unstoppable enthusiasm for her big idea.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network.

Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | RSS

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Things Organized Neatly: The Art of Arranging the Everyday

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Things Organized Neatly: The Art of Arranging the Everyday

by Austin Radcliffe

Universe

2016, 104 pages, 7.8 x 10 x 0.8 inches

$17 Buy a copy on Amazon

Simply as advertised. Rows and rows of diverse things neatly organized. This process is often called knolling. The applied organizing logic varies: it can be by size, by color, by age; in rows, in grids, in fitted mosaics. The effect is always hypnotic. Seemingly meaningless collections gain intelligence and order which focuses attention on the parts. The book ranges wide and far in the type of things that are inspected. You will soon knoll your own.

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Who will debunk the debunkers?

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Mike Sutton is a meta-skeptic. He debunks skeptics who use myths to debunk myths.

From a FiveThirtyEight article by Daniel Engber:

In 2014, a Norwegian anthropologist named Ole Bjorn Rekdal published an examination of how the decimal-point myth had propagated through the academic literature. He found that bad citations were the vector. Instead of looking for its source, those who told the story merely plagiarized a solid-sounding reference: “(Hamblin, BMJ, 1981).” Or they cited someone in between — someone who, in turn, had cited Hamblin. This loose behavior, Rekdal wrote, made the transposed decimal point into something like an “academic urban legend,” its nested sourcing more or less equivalent to the familiar “friend of a friend” of schoolyard mythology.

Emerging from the rabbit hole, Sutton began to puzzle over what he’d found. This wasn’t just any sort of myth, he decided, but something he would term a “supermyth”: A story concocted by respected scholars and then credulously disseminated in order to promote skeptical thinking and “to help us overcome our tendency towards credulous bias.” The convolution of this scenario inspired him to look for more examples. “I’m rather a sucker for such complexity,” he told me.

I don’t know any meta-meta-skeptics, but I imagine wee’ll meet some in the comments.

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Enjoy the stick figure horror of Metro Los Angeles's grisly new transit safety videos!

Metro Los Angeles created a series of fun and terrifyingly gruesome transit safety animations about how not to get killed!

“Safety is our highest priority for Metro riders,” said Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “These videos are edgy by design because we want these messages to stick,” “A lapse of attention at a rail crossing or unsafe behavior at a station can have dire if not deadly consequences. Let’s all do our part to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.”

Above, “Present or Pulverized?” Below, “Careful or Crushed?,” “Dismount or Dismembered?,” “Mindful or Mangled”,” and the always fun “Heads-up or Headless?”

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Google's version of the W3C's video DRM has been cracked

animation

Since 2013, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been working with the major browser companies, Netflix, the MPAA, and a few other stakeholders to standardize “Encrypted Media Extensions” (EME), which attempts to control web users’ behavior by adding code to browsers that refuses to obey user instructions where they conflict with the instructions sent by video services.
(more…)

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If you win the lottery, hire this lawyer

lotto

You will never win the lottery, so you don’t really need to read this interview with Jason Kurland, a self-described “go-to” attorney for lottery winners. It’s still interesting, though.

From Vice:

OK, so what’s the first thing you should do if you have a winning lottery ticket?

First thing, you want to sign the back of it, because [a winning ticket] is what’s called a bearer instrument—technically whoever hands it in is declared the winner. If you sign the back of it, you secure that it is yours. And I tell the big jackpot winners to sign the back, but to leave some room above it, because if we decide to claim it in a trust fund or an LLC or any other kind of entity, you will be able to write the name of that entity above it, and then sign as a trustee or something like that. So sign the back, make a copy of it, and preferably put it in a safety deposit box, or hide it somewhere in your house.

Then what you want to do is start hiring your professionals. You want to call a lawyer for sure—I am talking about if you win $1 million or more, you should do this stuff. Call an attorney, a financial planner, an accountant––that’s the team you’re gonna need. Obviously the bigger the jackpot, the more necessary it is to get a team like that. Get your team in place, keep quiet, and don’t tell anybody. You can tell your immediate family, but as soon as word gets out your life is gonna change, and you don’t want your life to change unless you’re ready for the change. That time between knowing you won and claiming to the whole world you won is like your last chance of keeping your old life the way it was.

Then figure out how you want to do with the money, because everybody’s first instinct is never what they actually want to do when they think about it. So you need that time to figure out what you want to do. Then at least nobody is banging on your door asking for handouts.

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Fantastic "I Love L.A." pillow for design geeks

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My pal Lawrence Azerrad, the hypertalented designer for bands like Wilco, Best Coast, and Beach Boys, created this wonderful “I LOVE L.A.” pillow. When I rest my weary head on its soft cotton, it makes me miss Los Angeles. And when I doze off, I dream of living in the iconic John Lautner Chemosphere house. The pillow is $50 and also available as a mug and tote!

LAD Design: I LOVE L.A. store

Previously on Boing Boing:

• “Flight of the Concordes” by Lawrence Azerrad

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Undercover reporter spent four months as a prison guard in a Louisiana pen run by CCA

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Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is one of the world’s largest private jailers; it runs prisons and immigration detention centers across the USA (and is diversifying into halfway houses, mental health center, and surveillance for poor neighborhoods). Mother Jones‘s Shane Bauer went undercover at CCA’s Winn Prison in Louisiana, the state with the highest incarceration rate in the world, and spent four months meticulously documenting the way that CCA destroys the lives of the prisoners in its care and its own employees, while paying its CEO $3.4M/year.
(more…)

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ATM skimmer spotted in Vienna

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Ben Tedesco of the cybersecurity company Carbon Black found an ATM skimmer while he was on vacation in Vienna, Austria.

A skimmer is a card reader that fits over an ATM card slot. It scans and records the information on the magnetic strip. Some skimmers have little built-in cameras to record card holders’ pins as they enter it on the ATM keypad. If not, the sleazy criminal will mount a video camera nearby, or even install a counterfeit keypad.

From YouTube description:

While on vacation with my family in Vienna, Austria I went to grab some cash from an ATM, being security paranoid I went repeated my typical habit of checking the card reader as I have 100’s of times… today’s the day when my security awareness paid off! Check out how perfectly made this skimmer is that was custom made for this ATM MACHINE!

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Man who saves family in car wreck gets $143 bill from first responders

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A California man rescued a man and his children trapped inside a van that rolled over. When first responders arrived, they checked his pulse and give him a bottle of water to rinse off a small cut on his hand. He was surprised when he received a bill from the Cosumnes California Fire Department for $143.

Due to his heroic actions, the family got out safely, but in the process of freeing them, DeAnda received what he calls “a small scrape” on his hand. He was given a bottle of water to rinse it, and had his pulse checked by the emergency technicians who arrived later.

However, as he found out a few weeks later, that tiny “injury,” as the Cosumnes Fire Department called it, may cost him nearly $150.

“A couple months later I get a bill for $143 for a bottle of water???” he wrote in a Facebook post after receiving a bill from the fire department. “Makes you wonder why people don’t want to stop to help at an accident scene. All I can say is the look on the man’s face when I was able to break that windshield and get him and his kids out of that vehicle was all the thanks I needed. I’m glad I was able to help. But now I have a bill to pay and they won’t let it go.”

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Brexit: a timeline of the coming slow-motion car-crash

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Charlie Stross is in excellent form this morning about the likely outcomes from last night’s Brexit vote, hitting all the highlights: collapse of the finance sector when Euro-denominated derivatives trades relocate to an EU state; collapse of the London property market (a big deal as 40% of the UK’s national wealth is property in the southeast); sucession risks for Scotland and Northern Ireland; the increased legitimacy of the reactionary right and xenophobia and racism as the “shy UKIPpers” realise (or claim) that they were more numerous than they had believed.
(more…)

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Put a few tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin Magic Starter Pack

Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine.

We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin Magic Starter Pack, now $19.99 in the Boing Boing Store.

This pack gives you the tools to perfect five classic tricks: the Pen Through the Finger, Stain Alive, Vuja De, the Ghost Clip and Drawn Again. The real value comes in the 10-25 hours of video content taught by professionals who will show how to pull off these tricks flawlessly.

Whether you’re looking for a simple party icebreaker talent or have visions of putting together your own magic routine, this package will help you understand how to master simple tricks to either entertain or develop a layer of mystery for any performer.

The Penguin Magic Starter Pack is available for almost 60% off, while the deal lasts.

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Brexit wins: Britain votes to exit the European Union

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The votes are in, and Brexit wins. Britain has voted to leave the European Union. The historic decision will change Britain’s place in the world, “rattle the Continent and rock political establishments throughout the West,” reports the New York Times.

With 309 of 382 of the country’s cities and towns reporting early on Friday, the Leave campaign held a 52 percent to 48 percent lead. The BBC called the race for the Leave campaign shortly before 4:45 a.m., with 13.1 million votes having been counted in favor of leaving and 12.2 million in favor of remaining.

The value of the British pound plummeted as financial markets absorbed the news.

“Dare to dream that the dawn is breaking on an independent United Kingdom,” U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage told cheering supporters just after 4 a.m. today London time.

It’s a “crushing” decision, it will be “catastrophic,” @Keith4Leicester says https://t.co/K6pbNn362q #EUref #Brexit https://t.co/ANoOzEEqyK

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 24, 2016

“EUROPEAN RUIN”: Some front pages from around the web following #Brexit vote pic.twitter.com/NUZ7gLNtCB

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 24, 2016

It’s not just about #Brexit, it’s not just about the EU. It’s a harbinger of what’s to come. Right wing populist nationalism rising.

— Iyad El-Baghdadi (@iyad_elbaghdadi) June 24, 2016

#Japan market meltdown triggers Nikkei futures’ circuit breaker. Futures trading halted for 10 minutes. #Brexit #VOAalert

— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 24, 2016

Feeling great about #brexit! 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/94Cv4WmTWC

— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) June 24, 2016

#Brexit forecast sends pound plunging as #EURefResults continue to arrive https://t.co/71imyP5wbl pic.twitter.com/6HCrAdLcFW

— Bloomberg (@business) June 24, 2016

Whoa, the age divide on #Brexit is stunning. via @WSJ https://t.co/M3BJkozO5t pic.twitter.com/RKZXRS79Bb

— Laura J. Nelson (@laura_nelson) June 24, 2016

Bunch of old racists destroyed their kids future. #Brexit https://t.co/lJotDitCi7

— BWD (@theonlyadult) June 24, 2016

24 juin 2016 #Brexit pic.twitter.com/55MD00Xpsd

— Pierre Duchesne (@duchp) June 24, 2016

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The original French tumbler, made by the company that invented tempered glass

Duralex is a French manufacturer of glassware, tableware and cookware. Picardie is one of the lines of of glassware they sell, and it is actually somewhat famous on their own, for good reason. I have had sets of the 3 3/4 oz. and the 12 oz. glasses for about 12 years.

The good:

  • They are made from tempered glass, like car windshields, so they are tough and resistant to breaking and chipping. They will survive most falls from table-height, even onto stone or tile floors. In fact I have yet to break one, and I have gone through perhaps six wine glasses in the same time. When they do break, they break into little squarish pebbles rather than sharp shards. (But that is not unique to Duralex.)
  • They come in nine different sizes, from little 3 oz. Old-Fashioned glasses to 16 oz. tumblers.
  • They are relatively thin and light, their strength notwithstanding.
  • They nest and stack nicely.
  • The faceted, swelling design makes the glasses easy to hold, even for small hands, and even when wet.
  • They have an absolutely classic design. They might be the only glasses that people will actually recognize. I saw something very like them in a painting by van Gogh.

The bad:

  • There are no bads as such. They might only be the second toughest glasses there are (the first might be the Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar line, which resembles the Picardie line, but doesn’t have exactly the same familiar design. Especially, the lip is thicker, which makes them subtly less comfortable to drink from.) The Libbey Gibraltar glasses are similar but made of thicker glass, which makes them heavier. Some people might like that, especially for sipping whiskey. But they don’t stack.

In sum, Duralex Picardie glasses are a design classic that look as good in a 18th century Provence kitchen as a sleek London flat. They are also durable, light, comfortable, and cheap. They don’t have any real flaws. — Karl Chwe

Duralex Picardie 12 oz. Clear Tumbler, Set of 6 ($30

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