Boing Boing

You are the Animal Inspector, and some pets just aren't any good

If you like the idea of stamping approved and rejected stamps on animals' helpless faces, Animal Inspector is the game for you. In a world where pets are taking up too much space, or have turned bad, or maybe both, the Animal Inspector's job is to flip through dossiers and decide which pets are useful enough to stick around.

Of course, pets' utility is often things like "is a good listener" or "hides a lot". That's just how pets are.

Animal Inspector, made by Tom Astle, is sort of like a lighthearted take on the famous Papers, Please, where your document-processing decisions can create moral conflicts or story branches. If you don't follow your supervisor's instructions, which are often wacky and place you at odds with your coworkers, you collect a "strike", and you can only have three. Your main objective as an Animal Inspector, though, is to stay on the job long enough to protect your own beloved dog from getting inspected away from you. How far will you go to keep him safe?

It's well-conceived, fun and funny—you must type your own comments, or reasons for approving or rejecting a pet, on their dossier, and you can save these and share them on social media (I rejected one puppy with only the comment "has a stupid face"). Though the game isn't massive or anything—I finished in 25 minutes—it has multiple endings, and there is lots to see.

It also has a soundtrack by Ben "Torahhorse" Esposito (whom we've previously interviewed on Offworld)—Animal Inspector is free to download here, but those who purchase it at the suggested $3 or more get the soundtrack.

Print out your own map of Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland in California was an opening day attraction in 1955. Walt Disney’s desire to bring the mystique of faraway lands to what were once orange groves in Anaheim, combined with the inspiration from his series of “True Life Adventure” films, led to its creation. The original boats, festooned with red and white striped awnings on their roofs, were inspired by the film The African Queen.

Walt was rarely satisfied with things in stasis: he was always “plussing” (improving) them. Many changes have been made to The Jungle Cruise since its opening, though the majority of park-goers are unaware of them. The Jungle Cruise has always been popular at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World – there’s always a wait (more so in Tokyo Disneyland, where the wait is usually 45 to 90 minutes). Walt didn’t have to change it, but he added new and more realistic animals over time, and in 1963 (or so, I believe) asked Imagineer Marc Davis to create a series of “gag” scenes that would increase the entertainment value. These scenes, including a rhino chasing a safari party up a tree, can still be seen in the attraction.

An interesting black and white video of the ride from mid-1960s, where a vocal narration of the ride by Thurl Ravenscroft (he was the voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger) from an old Disney LP has been added, is available here.

Numerous videos of its current incarnation can be found on YouTube, and this one of the new upgraded version at Tokyo Disneyland is a lot of fun. The Jungle Cruise Skippers in Tokyo are an intrepid group whose energy level does not diminish even late into the evening. I don’t know what they’re saying, but it certainly draws a more enthusiastic response from those in the boat than you see in the United States.

The Jungle Cruise remains popular and its old-fashioned charm is probably part of the reason. Considering what The Walt Disney Company could actually do if they put a lot of money into it, it remains somewhat of a curiosity caught in time.

Over on the official Disney Parks Blog they are giving away a free map of the Jungle Cruise which you can download as a pdf and print out at home.

Swipe some colored pencils from your kid and have fun.

One second of video for each day spent on a 333-day trip around the world

My friend Tom Fassbender took a year off to go on a round-the-world trip with his family. He wrote a bunch of excellent dispatches for Boing Boing, which you can read here. He got back to the US a couple of months ago and just finished editing this video that has over 300 one-second clips of the trip.

One of the things I'd planned on doing during our trip was to shoot one second of video for each day we were traveling. I'd done little projects of this nature on short weekend trips (like this one to Julian, California), but this was taking that idea to a whole new level of commitment. However, the project didn't work out exactly as I'd planned. As anyone who's traveled the world will tell you, some days are spent doing pretty much nothing, while others are spent packed with all sorts of activities. So some days I had no clips. Other days I had many clips to sort through.

But these things have a tendency to even out, and in the end, after culling the duplicate clips and the clips that just didn't work, I ended up with 337 clips for a 333-day trip, which is close enough. Here's the finished, edited movie. [via]

What's inside a "Hello Barbie" surveillance toy?

Mattel's Hello Barbie has a microphone and a wifi interface, and it transmits the phrases it hears to a central server in order to parse them and formulate a response. Mattel claims that the data isn't being retained or harvested for marketing purposes, and assures parents that they can make Barbie stopping eavesdropping on them at will. But does it work? (more…)

Mother shocked to discover a gay drama teacher, demands refund

A mother who enrolled her kids in a musical theater program was shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that gay people have infiltrated the world of performing arts. Who would have guessed? The mother went on Facebook to demand a refund, and the gay drama teacher responded wonderfully.


Hi Michael. Following our chat this week I have decided that [Precious child 1] and [Precious child 2] will not be attending class on Monday. You have a strong reputation for performing arts which encouraged me to sign my children up for classes. I have recently learned of your lifestyle and as a Christian I cannot allow my children to be influence by unconventional idea. It is our belief that a man should marry a woman. I look forward to receiving my deposit which you may post to me via cheque. Regards [Children's mother]

Gay drama teacher:

Hi [Children's mother],

I would be lying if I said I was disappointed to hear this. I pride my students on the respect and love they have for others and their passion for equality. You would only be infringing on our family. As far as I’m aware, my sexuality doesn’t effect my ability to teach, just like it wouldn’t effect a doctor’s ability to treat one of your children should they become unwell.

I’m sure your children’s health would come first should they need emergency treatment, or would you need to check their doctors lifestyle prior to their life saving operation? I wish you luck in finding an appropriate stage school that meets your needs, however from experience I find that theatre without gays is like cooking without spices (just my opinion). I hear StageCoach are enrolling but there teachers have been known to wear mixed fabrics which I’m sure you are aware is forbidden in the bible (Leviticus 19:19).

Please feel free to come see our Musical ‘Happy Days,’ confetti will be used in the finale but please rest assure this is not an attempt to corrupt your Christian lifestyle. We just love glitter.

Unfortunately deposits are non refundable but don’t worry, your deposit has been donated to StoneWall, an LGBT charity. Regards Michael [via]

By the way, the musical the kids were enrolled in is Rent, which is about gay and bisexuals in NYC at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Russian judge shuts down scientology

Earlier today the Moscow City Court ordered the local Church of Scientology to set up a commission to liquidate in six months. According to AP, Russia's Justice Ministry successfully argued that the term "Scientology" is "trademarked and thus cannot be considered a religious organization covered by the constitution's freedom-of-religion clause."

Not just Lenovo: Dell ships computers with self-signed root certificates

Last February, Lenovo shocked its security-conscious customers by pre-installing its own, self-signed root certificates on the machines it sold. These certificates, provided by a spyware advertising company called Superfish, made it possible for attackers create "secure" connections to undetectable fake versions of banking sites, corporate intranets, webmail providers, etc. (more…)

13 hospitalized in San Diego after overdose of synthetic drug Spice

Thirteen people were hospitalized on Sunday after they were found vomiting, convulsing, and behaving oddly in downtown San Diego, California. According to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, they had all overdosed on Spice, a dried plant mixture laced with synthetic cannabinoids that are structurally similar to the THC, the natural cannabinoid in marijuana.

Unlike THC, which is has very low toxicity, synthetic cannabinoids can affect different brain receptors and can cause blood pressure spikes, vomiting, seizures, and other serious conditions.

Synthetic cannabinoids have been illegal since 2013, but some people favor them over weed because they can use them and pass a urine test and keep their job or not violate probation. [via]

An Army colonel is in trouble for complaining that a $500k gas station cost $43 million to build

Army Col. John Hope blew the whistle on a task force that spent $43 million to build a useless gas station in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the useless gas station should have cost about $500,000. As a result of pointing out the doubly wasteful project, Hope has “been singled out for retaliation and retribution” for “speaking truth,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

The gas station is useless because it supplies natural gas to cars that have been converted to run on natural gas. But there are hardly any cars that run on natural gas in Afghanistan, and the cost to convert a car to run on natural gas is $700. The average annual income in Afghanistan is $690, according to the Washington Post.

More from the Washington Post:

The high cost of the gas station has angered many in Congress. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has scheduled a hearing on it for next month. And Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said it was one of the worst cases of wasteful spending that she has ever seen.

“There are few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop,” she said in a statement. “But of all the examples of wasteful projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon began prior to our wartime contracting reforms, this genuinely shocked me.”

The contractor, Central Asian Engineering Construction Company, originally bid $3 million to build the gas station, which is already an order of magnitude too much to charge. How they ended up charging $43 million is a mystery. I wonder who owns Central Asian Engineering Construction Company?

A book of previously unseen photos of the Beatles from the set of Help!

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

In 1964, Italian photographer Emilio Lari was 24, newly arrived in London and looking for work. Back in Rome, he’d shot promotional stills on the set of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, starring Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, and for The Bobo, featuring Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland.

Now he was hoping to do the same in Britain. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to hear about a new film just going into production: A cheap black-and-white comedy meant to cash in on that latest fad, the Beatles. Lari went around to see the film’s director, Sellers’ old friend Richard Lester, and got invited to the first day of shooting. He was on the set of A Hard Day’s Night only that day, but Lester liked his photos and invited him to do more work on his next film, which turned out to be the Beatles’ Help!

In vivid color and crisp black and white, this book shares dozens of the results. There are great candid and posed shots of the Beatles, many unseen for years or never published, throughout. Musicians will enjoy the close-up images of the band with its famed guitars: George Harrison with his Gibson acoustic, John Lennon with his Rickenbacker, Paul McCartney with his violin-shaped Hofner bass. We’ve seldom seen these instruments so closely and looking so shiny and new. The same is true for the pictures of the Beatles themselves. They look so young, fresh and lively that it’s hard to believe the pictures are more than 50 years old. There are shots of the band clowning with the camera crew between takes and, in a two-page sequence, candids of Paul and George in the back of a limo sharing an inside joke. Paul is collapsing into laughter, his hands over his face as George looks on, a sly smile across his face. Maybe they were stoned. The Beatles famously said they spent much of “Help!” slipping away between shots to share joints. In any event, they look happy – young men at the top of their game and the height of fame.

In another photo, John clowns around wearing a long black wig and flashing a peace sign. It’s a startling image. This was John in 1965 flash-forwarding to his look of a few years later, during the midst of his peace campaigns with Yoko Ono. In fact, with the long black hair, he looks more like Yoko than himself. Lari didn’t accompany the Beatles for later scenes of the film shot in Austria and the Bahamas, so this isn’t a full document of the making of “Help!” That’s not a shortfall. It’s an excellent collection of one photographer’s intimate view of the Beatles, featuring mostly unfamiliar and very compelling images of history’s most famous band. – John Firehammer

The Beatles: Photographs from the Set of Help!

The Beatles: Photographs from the Set of Help!
by Emilio Lari
2015, 144 pages, 9.3 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches
$22 Buy a copy on Amazon