Pic of the Day

Liu Bolin’s amazing camouflage artwork

At first glance, this may look like a photograph of shelves in a supermarket. But look more closely and you may see a man painstakingly painted to blend in with the colourful background. Chinese artist Liu Bolin has become world renowned for his camouflage art. Liu uses a team of two assistants to paint the camouflage onto him to make him invisible, and each photograph can take up to ten hours to set up. In some cases, Liu has his assistants paint his body and then he remains extremely still until an unsuspecting passer-by happens to walk past.

Click on the photo to see a photo gallery of his work.

The gentleman cat burglar’s guide to thievery

A Japanese thief, who describes himself as a gentleman cat burglar, has written a popular book giving tips on how to carry out burglaries.

Futabasha Publishing claims that a first print run of 10,000 copies of “Occupation, Thief; Annual income, Y30 million” has almost run out in the 10 days since publication.

Hajime Karasuyama – the pen name of the career burglar – claims to have developed the uncanny ability to guess just where the occupant of any home will have stashed the cash and valuables and provides tips on how to gain access to a locked property and then get away again without leaving any signs.

Karasuyama says he earns around £270,000 a year from burglary…

Karasuyama provides details on how he is able to pick any lock at will and the way to silently use a glass cutter on a window. He also reveals that placing a jeweller’s magnifying eye-piece against a door peep-hole reverses the view and enables him to look inside the house, while he recommends investing in a new hybrid car for going on “jobs” because they have engines that are very quiet and do not attract attention.

Karasuyama also reminisces about some of the best heists of his career, including the time he hired a chauffeur to drive to one address and boldly walking up to the front door dressed in a business suit and brazenly picked the lock.

“I didn’t want to get arrested by the police, so I thought of a way that would make me appear less conspicuous,” he told the magazine.

The editor of the book says, “This book is not targeted at people who might want to become a burglar but more at home-owners who want to know how a thief thinks and how they can better protect their home.”

I guess there should be a follow-on publication on how the Japanese parliament does business on a daily basis. So the Japanese might be better prepared to fire many of the crooks running their government. Probably as true in Japan as it is in the United States.

Feds seize sites linked to copyright infringement

Visitors to dozens of Web sites purportedly linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods were greeted by this message.

The U.S. government has launched a major crackdown on online copyright infringement, seizing dozens of sites linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods.

Torrent sites that link to illegal copies of music and movie files and sites that sell counterfeit goods were seized this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security. Visitors to such sites as Torrent-finder.com, 2009jerseys.com, and Dvdcollects.com found that their usual sites had been replaced by a message that said, “This domain name has been seized by ICE–Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court…”

The seizures came after a Senate committee unanimously approved a controversial proposal earlier this month that would allow the government to pull the plug on Web sites accused of aiding piracy. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) allows a Web site’s domain to be seized if it “has no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than” offering or providing access to unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.

The bill hasn’t been voted into law, however.

The proposal has garnered support from dozens of the largest content companies, including video game maker Activision, media firms NBC Universal and Viacom, and the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America lobbying groups. However, critics such as…civil liberties groups say the COICA could balkanize the Internet, jeopardize free speech rights, and endanger legitimate Web sites.

Slimeballs like the MPAA aren’t deserving of anymore support than their forerunners in the RIAA. But, geeks who go out of their way to break archaic laws in the name of freedom are more than likely to get busted – in this land of liberty. It’s Congress and the courts who get to define what is liberty and what isn’t.

Terrorist teen arrested in plot to bomb holiday family event

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A Somali-born teenager attempting to detonate what he believed was a car bomb in a packed downtown Portland Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday night was arrested by authorities, who had spent nearly six months tracking him and setting up a sting operation, officials in Oregon said.

The bomb in a van parked off the Pioneer Courthouse Square was a fake — planted by F.B.I. agents at the culmination of the elaborate sting — but “the threat was very real,” said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the F.B.I. in Oregon, who identified the suspect as Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old naturalized citizen.

“Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale,” Mr. Balizan said in a statement released by the Department of Justice.

He added: “At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack.”

The foiled plot was just the latest jarring terrorist attempt aimed at mass gatherings in the United States, including an attempted car bombing in Times Square this past May. In that case, a Pakistani-born American citizen was arrested and pleaded guilty…

Mr. Mohamud, a sophomore at Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., had been planning for more than a year to cause mass harm to a large and unsuspecting gathering of people — including children — in their own element, according to the affidavit…

I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave either dead or injured,” Mr. Mohamud said to undercover agents, according to the affidavit.

RTFA. Archetypical example of a fanatic willing to murder indiscriminately in the name of his ideology.

He deserves a fair trial – and no mercy if found guilty as charged.

UPDATE: Here’s a lengthier, more detailed follow-on article.

Binge drinking has replaced Christianity in “vulgar” modern Britain

For almost 1,000 years, Lincoln Cathedral has been a sanctuary of peace and spiritual contemplation for the inhabitants of the historic county town.

But the tranquility of the medieval streets surrounding the cathedral is being shattered by binge drinking yobs, who shout obscenities and indulge in “vulgar” behaviour on Friday and Saturday nights, according to a senior churchman.

Canon Alan Nugent, the subdean of Lincoln Cathedral, said the “crude” lifestyle of loutish drinkers had replaced Christian values as the defining influence on modern Britain.

He said he was particularly troubled by the spectacle of inebriated young women who “demean themselves” in public…

“By contrast you can sit in an Italian city of an evening with no fear of drunken yobs.”

Canon Nugent dismissed the suggestion that the English have adopted vulgarity as an “ideology”.

“I suspect the reason is much simpler,” he said. “Christianity no longer has significant influence on the way people behave.

“The deliberate attempt to remove the Christian faith from the national life – or at least seriously to marginalise it – which I have witnessed time and again during the period of my ministry, has succeeded.

“In its place a style of society – very crude, very unattractive – has emerged, which demonstrates itself so often in vulgar behaviour.”

There are occasional moments when I think the conservative scribes of the 4th Estate as managed in the UK really are poking fun at the most out-of-date members of their clan. This article, after all, is one long, strung-out straight line begging for a smartass retort, sentence after sentence.

It is an achievement for someone attired in holy gown to recognize there could be something approaching cause-and-effect relationships in society and behavior – not that the Canon has much of it straight – having the courage to step away from the tried and true condemnation of sinners who simply haven’t had enough of some holy book beaten sufficiently over youthful knobs.

Life is more complex than that – and blaming someone else for your organizational irrelevance isn’t especially productive.