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Adorable kittens, 9 days old, cry adorably and are available for adoption (video)

Boing Boing -


Happy Caturday. Ah, listen to this 9-day-old kitten's adorable squeals! Boing Boing pal Miles O'Brien was learning how to fly his camera drone with one hand after losing one arm in an accident. At the drone flying range near Washington, DC, a friend had a few 9-day old kittens hanging out on a blanket. They're pretty adorable. If you would like to adopt one of them, contact Nikki Driver at ndriver8411@gmail.com. She is a vet, so they're in good hands. She and the kittens are near Charlottesville, VA.

One of the 9-day old kitties getting some milk from a bottle. Photo: Miles O'Brien.

One of the 9-day old kitties. Photo: Miles O'Brien.

3 Former Astronauts: Earth-Asteroid Collisions Are a Real But Preventable Danger

Slashdot -

Three former astronauts — Ed Lu, Tom Jones, and Bill Anders — say that reassuring figures about the rarity of asteroid collisions with Earth are perhaps too reassuring. The B612 Foundation, of which Lu is a director, has been established to draw public awareness to the risks of a large asteroid hitting a population center -- which these three men say is a far more serious public danger than has been acknowledged by NASA and other agencies. And beyond awareness, the Foundation's immediate goal is to raise money to " design and build an asteroid-finding space telescope and launch it by 2017," and then, Armageddon-style, to follow that up with technology to divert any asteroids whose path would threaten earth.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Zentai: full-body masked spandex subculture from Japan

Boing Boing -

Zentai (short for "zenshintaitsu," Japanese for "full body suit") is a largely obscure Japanese subculture whose adherents go out wearing full-body patterned spandex suits that cover their faces. In a relatively unsensational article in the Japan Times, Harumi Ozawa talks to a few zentais about their hobby, and learns that for some proponents, being completely covered is a liberating experience. The zentais in the article describe the suit as an anonymizer that frees them from the judging gaze of society, which is a fascinating study in contradictions, since the suits undoubtably attract lots of judgmental looks, but these seem to adhere to the suit without penetrating to the wearer within.

Some zentais wear their suits in superhero fashion, and do good deeds in public, while others wear the suits for sexual kicks. They are often mocked in Japanese pop culture. One academic cited in the article believes that the wearers use the suits to hide their appearance in order to force others to deal with their "true" underlying identity.

By night, she dresses in a skin-tight, all-in-one Spandex body suit that covers everything — including her eyes — and sits in bars, alone but liberated, she believes, from the judgment of others.

“With my face covered, I cannot eat or drink like other customers,” said the woman, who is in her 20s and says her name is Hokkyoku Nigo (North Pole No. 2).

“I have led my life always worrying about what other people think of me. They say I look cute, gentle, childish or naive,” she said, her lips ruffling the tight, red shiny material.

“I always felt suffocated by that. But wearing this, I am just a person in a full body suit.”

‘Zentai’ fans search for identity in fetish suits [Harumi Ozawa/Japan Times]

(via JWZ)

(Image: Zentai.jpg, MonkeyMyshkin, CC-BY)

OpenSSL and Linux: A Tale of Two Open-Source Projects

LXer -

The Heartbleed bug has cast a bright and not entirely flattering light on the open-source movement’s incentive model. When a crucial and ubiquitous piece of security code like OpenSSL — left vulnerable for two years by the Heartbleed flaw — can be accessed by all the world’s programming muscle, but only has one full-time developer and generates less than $2,000 in donations a year, clearly something is amiss. But then there’s Linux.

Playing Jenga with heavy earth-moving equipment

Boing Boing -

In Stack competitions, a bunch of earth-moving equipment plays a monster-scale game of Jenga with 600lb blocks of wood -- pretty amazing skill on the part of the operators!

This is pretty amazing, but don't get too excited about Cat's equipment. Remember, this is the company that bought an Ontario factory, got a huge, multi-year tax break out of the government, then, pretty much the day it ran out, demanded a 50% wage-cut from the union, refused to negotiate, then closed down the factory, fired its workforce just before Christmas, and split town, having waxed fat on corporate welfare. No amount of fun promotional Jenga games can change the fact that if Cat's corporate personhood was literal, the company would be such an obviously dangerous sociopath that it would be permanently institutionalized to protect the rest of society.

Built For It Trials - Stack: Largest Board Game Played with Cat Excavators (via JWZ)

Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

Slashdot -

Gud (78635) points to this story in the Washington Post about students having trouble with paying for both food and school. "I recall a number of these experiences from my time as grad student. I remember choosing between eating, living in bad neighborhoods, putting gas in the car, etc. Me and my fellow students still refer to ourselves as the 'starving grad students.' Today we laugh about these experiences because we all got good jobs that lifted us out of poverty, but not everyone is that fortunate. I wonder how many students are having hard time concentrating on their studies due to worrying where the next meal comes from. In the article I found the attitude of collage admins to the idea of meal plan point sharing, telling as how little they care about anything else but soak students & parents for fees and pester them later on with requests for donations. Last year I did the college tour for my first child, after reading the article, some of the comments I heard on that tour started making more sense. Like 'During exams you go to the dining hall in the morning, eat and study all day for one swipe' or 'One student is doing study on what happens when you live only on Ramen noodles!' How common is 'food insecurity in college or high school'? What tricks can you share with current students?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ancient wrestlers caught match-fixing by scientists

RT -

Scientists at King’s College London have deciphered a Greek document which reveals that an ancient wrestling match from year A.D. 267 was fixed, LiveScience website reports. The contract was signed between two teenage athletes who made it to the final bout of the prestigious 138th Great Antinoeia games in Egypt.

According to the deal, the father of a wrestler named Nicantinous agreed to pay a bribe to the guarantors (likely the trainers) of another wrestler named Demetrius. The contract stipulated that Demetrius would “fall three times and yield,” and would be rewarded with “3,800 drachmas of silver of old coinage.”

A clause in the document stated that if the judges realized the match was fixed and refused to reward Nicantinous the win, Demetrius would still be paid.

If "the crown is reserved as sacred, [we] are not to institute proceedings against him about these things," it read.

However, if Demetrius went back on the deal and won the match, the contract ordered him “to pay as penalty to my [same] son on account of wrongdoing three talents of silver of old coinage without any delay or inventive argument.”

Demetrius most likely came from a poor family, as he agreed to a rather small payment of 3,800 drachma, which was enough to buy a donkey at the time, said professor Dominic Rathbone, the translator of the contract.

It appears that Nicantinous wasn’t at all sure of his ability to win the final, and turned to match fixing because there was no prize for placing second at the Great Antinoeia, he added.

But the translator said he’s puzzled at the decision to create a written contract recording the agreement.

“It doesn't look as though they've actually gone as far as getting a scribe with legal knowledge to do this for them, which makes you wonder if it's a bit of an empty thing," Rathbone said, adding that it would have been difficult to take the matter to court if one of the parties had reneged.

It’s the first time that a written contract of match fixing between two athletes from the ancient world has been found.

The document was found more than a century ago at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, by an expedition led by archaeologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. The translation was released in the latest volume of The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, an ongoing series that publishes papyri from the site of Oxyrhynchus.

Profile of Aeropress and Aerobie inventor Alan Adler

Boing Boing -

Alan Adler is a Standford engineering professor and inventor who's had two remarkable -- and wildly different -- successes: the long-flying Aerobie disc, and the Aeropress, a revolutionary, brilliant, dead-simple $30 coffee maker that makes pretty much the best cup of coffee you've ever tasted. I've given Aeropresses to a dozen friends, I keep one in my travel-bag, and I've got Aeropresses at home and at the office. I use mine to make hot coffee and to filter cold-brew (including hotel-room minibar cold-brew that I brew in breast-milk bags).

Zachary Crockett has a great, long piece on Adler and the process that led to the creation of these two remarkable products. Adler's first success, the Aerobie, was the result of lucking out with the major TV networks and magazines, who provided him with the publicity he needed to get his business off the ground (literally). But with the Aeropress, the defining factor was the Internet, where a combination of coffee-nerd message-boards (where Adler could interact directly with his customers) and an easy means for coffee-shop owners all over the world to order Aeropresses for retail sale made the Aeropress into a global hit.

The Melitta cone, a device you place over your cup with a filter and pour water into, has “an average wet time of about 4-5 minutes,” according to Adler. The longer the wet time, the more acidity and bitterness leech out of the grounds into the cup. Adler figured this time could be dramatically reduced, quelling bad-tasting byproducts.

It struck Adler that he could use air pressure to shorten this process. After a few weeks in his garage, he’d already created a prototype: a plastic tube that used plunger-like action to compress the flavors quickly out of the grounds. He brewed his first cup with the invention, and knew he’d made something special. Immediately, he called his business manager Alex Tennant.

Tennant tasted the brew, and stepped back. “Alan,” he said, “I can sell a ton of these.”

A year of “perfecting the design” ensued: Adler tried out different sizes and configurations, and at first “didn’t understand the right way to use [his] own invention.” The final product, which he called the AeroPress, was simple to operate: you place a filter and coffee grounds (2-4 scoops) into a plastic tube, pour hot water into the tube (at an optimal of 165-175 degrees), and stir for ten seconds.

Aerobie disc


The Invention of the AeroPress [Zachary Crockett/Pricenomics]

Message to NETmundial: protect fundamental Internet freedoms

Boing Boing -

Jeremie from France's La Quadrature du Net sez, "The farcical illusion of 'multistakeholder' discussions around 'Internet governance' must be denounced! For the last 15 years those sterile discussions led nowhere, with no concrete action ever emerging. In the meantime, technology as a whole has been turned into a terrifying machine for surveillance, control and oppression. The very same 'stakeholders' seen in IGFs and such, by their active collaboration with NSA and its public and private partners, massively violated our trust and our privacy."

In 3 days SaoPaulo will host the NETmundial forum. Will it be one more occurence of the "multistakeholder" farce? Governments have a moral obligation and a duty to protect their citizens' fundamental freedoms against aggressions by public and private entities. We expect them to protect the decentralized architecture of a Free Internet as a common good. This is why we put up http://netmundial.net.

End Global Surveillance and Protect the Free Internet (Thanks, Jeremie!)

Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass

Socialism OnLine! -

URL: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/04/16/ukraine-through-the-us-looking-glass/

Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass. "The post-coup regime in Ukraine sends troops and paramilitaries to crack down on ethnic Russian protesters in the east, the U.S. news media continues to feed the American public a steady dose of anti-Russian propaganda, often wrapped in accusations of “Russian propaganda”..."

Topic(s): Geography:  Vote Up/Down

Tehran's dispute with six world powers over Arak reactor 'virtually resolved' – Iran nuclear chief

RT -

According to the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Saleh, Tehran has put forth proposals to redesign the reactor so that it will be capable of producing only one-fifth of the plutonium production capabilities originally intended. Saleh made the comments on Iran's El-Alam television channel.

“Iran has offered a proposal to...redesign the heart of the Arak facility and these six countries have agreed to that,” Saleh said.

Saleh’s comments were made as Iran approaches the proposed July 20 deadline, at which point a final deal to cap Iran’s nuclear capabilities will be devised, and Iran will become free of the economic sanctions it faces.

On May 13, a week long session will commence in order to produce a draft agreement. Saleh said he hopes Iran’s proposed plans will help alleviate any international concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

The P5+1 nations – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany – and Israel have expressed fear that Iran will use plutonium made at the Arak reactor to make nuclear arms. None of the countries immediately offered a response to the news, according to AP.

Saleh also stated that Iran has completed the dilution of enriched uranium. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report released earlier this week stated that Iran has been honoring all of its international obligations that were agreed upon in the interim deal.

Enriched uranium being held in the country has now been downgraded from 20 percent to five percent; Tehran has either downgraded or diluted 155 kg of its 209 kg stockpile.

“On April 12, about 103 kilograms of uranium were diluted,” Saleh said. “That means it was converted from 20 percent enriched uranium into 5 percent. In general, the case of dilution is closed.”

Despite the West's concerns, Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes such as power generation and medical research. One proposal from the P5+1 nations was that the heavy water reactor be converted into a light water reactor.

Salehi stated that the US allied states “constantly say Iran has to give up its heavy water reactor because it provides a breakout capacity.”

“We took this pretext from their hands,”
he said.

However, Iran argues that the heavy water reactor is necessary for radioisotope production for medical treatments.

Japan ratchets China tension by building radar near disputed islands

RT -

"This is the first deployment since the U.S. returned Okinawa in 1972, and calls for us to be more on guard are growing," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told media during a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony on Yonaguni Island on Saturday. "I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan's territory."

The high-tech radar outpost will be staffed by up to 150 soldiers after it becomes operational in 2016.

The 30 sq. kilometer Yonaguni Island has a population of about 1,500, and no economic importance, and is far closer to China and Taiwan than it is to Japan’s major isles.

But the station will give Tokyo an outpost from the contentious Senkaku Islands, located 150 km to the north.

The uninhabited rocks, which have been in Japan’s possession since the 19th century, are located in a key shipping lane, and are thought to sit on large unexplored oil reserves.

Since the 1970s, China has insisted that they are part of its territory, citing historic documents going back as far as the 14th century.

The stand-off has spiraled as China has grown more assertive about the archipelagos off its coast, and began to rapidly bolster its defense budget in the past decade.

A perceived threat from China has also stirred nationalistic feelings in mainland Japan, and officials accused Beijing of "attempts to change the status quo by coercion" in the government’s latest defense plan, published in December last year.

Last fiscal year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the defense budget for the first time in more than a decade.

The two countries have symbolically signaled their defense readiness by scrambling planes over 400 times in the past 12 months, and by complex warship maneuvers, with the latest belligerent displays happening just last week.

A key role in any future resolution of the dispute is to be played by the US – China’s biggest economic partner and Japan’s staunch ally.

The first state visit in 18 years by a US president to Japan will take place next week, during which Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are set to sign a joint statement on strengthening their security ties. Diplomatic sources indicate, however, that the document will not include any specific mention of the Senkaku Islands, to avoid aggravating Beijing.

Nonetheless, last week, the commander of the US Marines stationed in Japan said that the US would help Japan re-take the Senkaku Islands if China ever landed its forces on them.

Meanwhile, those on Yonaguni have broadly welcomed the promised investment of government funds into the sluggish local economy, electing a pro-base mayor last year.

Yet a vocal minority remains vehemently opposed to the militarization of an island that currently only has two policemen. Onodera was welcomed by a demonstration of around 50 islanders demanding the cancellation of government plans.

"Becoming a target is frightening, they won't talk to us about it, we haven't discussed it,"
one of the protesters told Reuters.

Patriarch urges peace for Ukraine in Orthodox Easter address

RT -

“As we celebrate Easter this year, we pray for the people of Ukraine,” the Patriarch stressed during his speech.

Ukraine remains in a state of turmoil since its democratically elected president was ousted via a coup powered by far-right radicals in February.

“We pray for enemies to reconcile, for violence to stop. We pray that people be merciful to one another no matter what divides them and separates them from each other. All the children of our common Church have Ukraine in their hearts, and our hearts are aching for the suffering of the Ukrainian people,” Russia’s top cleric said.

“That is why these days, together with millions of Orthodox believers, I pray specifically for peace in Ukraine,” he added.

In his address, Patriarch Kirill also reminded the believers that Easter is a holy day, which “celebrates victory over man’s two biggest enemies – sin and death.”

Jesus Christ was the only one who managed to defeat those enemies and “uplifted humanity into divine glory. He abolished everything that prevented us from being like Him,” he said.

“Christ is not only the Judge, but also the Advocate for every sinner, who comes to Him through faith. The primary requirement of the New Testament is that we love one another despite our differences. Lack of love destroys people, divides families, and undermines societies and countries,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church explained.

Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion at Calvary.

The most important festival of the Oriental Orthodox Church marks the end of the Great Lent, which saw followers fasting for 40 days.

In 2014, Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate Easter on the same day.


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