Make 26: the Karts and Wheels issue

make26.jpg Gareth says: “As you read this, mail carriers on scooters, skateboards, recumbents, and go-karts are rushing MAKE Volume 26 to subscribers. OK, they’re in trucks and on foot – we have vivid imaginations. But you’ll be climbing onto such conveyances after reading “Karts and Wheels.” We have 19 projects, including building a drill-powered kart, a simple longboard, a motorized bike, and a little wind vehicle that defies logic. And there are oodles of other non-kart projects, too! Subscribe here. On newsstands April 26.”

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Here is a photo of the skateboard I made and painted (being held by my 13-year-old, who rides it). The instructions for making it are on page 46. The photo was taken by Linda Nguyen.

US Customs’ domain-seizure program punishes the first amendment, leaves alleged pirates largely unscathed

TorrentFreak’s postmortem of the DHS’s domain-seizure program (“Operation In Our Sites”) in which the .com and .net dozens of allegedly infringing sites were seized without due process and with a great deal of sloppiness. Though the program was willing to toss out the first amendment and turn the US government into a business agent for entertainment companies, it was a near-total failure in removing its targetted sites:

It wasn’t hard for the affected sites to continue their operations. Since their servers had not been touched physically it was a simple matter to change a few settings to make the sites available to the public again under a new domain, something achieved in a few minutes. This is exactly what most of the streaming and file-sharing related sites have done.

During the latest round of seizures under the “Operation In Our Sites” flag in February, a total of 10 domain names were targeted, belonging to 6 different sports streaming services. Despite the thousands of dollars in tax payer money that were spend on the enforcement effort, all of the sites were back up in no time under new domains.

As of today, only one of the six is no longer accessible and that is the site of Bryan McCarthy, who was arrested by the feds last month. McCarthy initially continued his Channelsurfing.net website under a new domain at Channelsurf.eu. The day after his arrest this site was still up and running and it is believed that due to the circumstances he took it offline himself after he was bailed out.

US Government’s ‘Pirate’ Domain Seizures Failed Miserably

Rejected by Bahrain

RTR2K0NX.jpgPhoto: Anti-government protesters’ reflections are seen on a car that was hit by bullets during an operation by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) military forces to remove protesters from Pearl Square in Bahrain, March 17, 2011. (REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan)

Bahrain awoke to a violent crackdown by police on demonstrators camped out at the country’s iconic Lulu (Pearl) roundabout on Wednesday. That afternoon, I boarded a flight from Doha, Qatar to Bahrain, to see for myself what was unfolding in the island nation I once called home.

Hours later, I found myself on a flight back to Doha, without having been allowed to set foot out of Bahrain’s airport in Muharraq.

The flight itself was quite uneventful. The plane – an Airbus A321, with a listed 177 passenger capacity – carried less than 30 people. A short line to immigration meant I was at the desk in minutes. Immigration officer asks, “Where are you coming from? Qatar? OK, 5 Bahraini Dinars.”

Thumbing through my passport, he suddenly stops and looks me in the eye. “Wait, where are you from? Who do you work for? … Please have a seat – over there.” I can’t be sure if it was the Iraq visa, the India visa, or the numerous Qatar & Saudi visas in my American passport he found suspicious. Or perhaps it was my telling him in Arabic that “my origin” is half Indian, half Hispanic.

So my wait began. There were quite a number of other people on the benches too. Anyone who’d arrived with the intention of driving across the King Fahad causeway into Saudi Arabia was being told they’d have to fly. There is a curfew in effect on Bahrain’s main highway from 4pm-4am, and last I heard, the bridge to Saudi was closed indefinitely. This of course, due to the month-long protests against the government by opposition groups calling for democratic reforms, a constitutional monarchy and basic human rights.

After about an hour of waiting, and checking in a couple times to see if there was any problems, one of the immigration officers asked, “You used to work for Al Jazeera, right?”

Continue reading “Rejected by Bahrain”

Innocuous romantic questions and their intimate correlates

The latest installment in OKCupid’s endlessly entertaining OkTrends series (in which OKCupid data-mines its dating profiles and finds interesting correlations) enumerates a series of seemingly innocuous questions whose answers are correlated with much more intimate matters. For example, the answer to “Do you like the taste of beer?” is somewhat correlated (60%) with the answer to “Do you have sex on the first date?”

Ask him or her…

* Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex?

In each case, complexity-preferrers are 65-70% likely to give the Liberal answer. And those who prefer simplicity in others are 65-70% likely to give the Conservative one.

This correlation is for a nationwide dataset; it won’t be as useful in places where one ideology is much more prevelant than the other. For example, in New York City there are lots of people who like simplicity and yet have Liberal politics.

The Best Questions For A First Date (via Super Punch)

Meet Chase No Face, the heroic, seriously disfigured kitty

Here is what I know about this kitty (un-blurred photograph after the jump, or click the blurred one to see, some find it disturbing):

DSC_0005mosaic.jpg I was in an accident when I was 4 wks (2005), I became disfigured.

I have a Furry Will to survive & I am completely healed. I require medication during the day to keep my eyes moist. I will always look different but I am in NO PAIN!

I have seen 10 vets and they can attest to that! Im a happy kitty and hope to help other humans feel just as great about themselves and realize that not everyone looks perfect and that is OK.

=^..^=

Chase No Face kitty is on Facebook and the chasenoface blog.

Larger, unblurred photo of the kitty after the jump.

(thanks, Tara McGinley)

Continue reading “Meet Chase No Face, the heroic, seriously disfigured kitty”

The best scientific theories (that later turned out to be wrong)

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Science can contradict itself. And that’s OK. It’s a fundamental part of how research works. But from what I’ve seen, it’s also one of the hardest parts for the general public to understand. When an old theory dies, it’s not because scientists have lied to us and can’t be trusted. In fact, exactly the opposite. Those little deaths are casualties of the process of fumbling our way towards Truth*.

Of course, even after the pulse has stopped, the dead can be pretty interesting. Granted, I’m biased. I like dead things enough to have earned a university degree in the sort of anthropology that revolves around exactly that. But I’m not alone. A recent article at the Edge Foundation website asked a broad swath of scientists and thinkers to name their favorite long-held theory, which later turned out to be dead wrong. The responses turn up all sorts of fascinating mistakes of science history—from the supposed stupidity of birds, to the idea that certain, separate parts of the brain controlled nothing but motor and visual skills.

One of my favorites: The idea that complex, urban societies didn’t exist in Pre-Columbian Costa Rica, and other areas south of the Maya heartland. In reality, the cities were always there. I took you on a tour of one last January. It’s just that the people who lived there built with wood and thatch, rather than stone. The bulk of the structures decayed over time, and what was left was easy to miss, if you were narrowly focused on looking for giant pyramids.

What’s your favorite dead theory?

The Edge: Wrong Scientific Beliefs That Were Held for Long Periods of Time

*Likewise, just because some ideas have turned out to be wrong doesn’t mean it’s safe to assume all the scientific truths we hold today will be disproved somewhere down the line.

We’ve spent several hundred years now carefully collecting data about our lives, our planet, and the wider Universe. But we don’t have all the information. Sometimes, new research comes in and confirms our previous picture of reality, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not random. It’s often easy to see how facts are stacking up and get a good idea of likely reality even when you don’t yet have all the pieces perfectly in place. But the point is: You can’t generalize.

Image: The cover of Laurie Anderson’s 1982 album Big Science, as photographed by kevindooley. Some rights reserved.