- San Francisco SF reading series back for its fifth year, starting tomorrow night
- Secret copyright treaty debated in DC: must-see video
- Complexity ruins diets
- Dishwasher door as self-cleaning toddler workspace
- Grotesque and lovely animatronics
- Lamps decorated with writhing heaps of glazed action figures
- Jonathan Lethem's Perkus Tooth comes to Second Life for an interview
- Tiny still-lives in toilet-paper tubes
- Have hospital, will travel
- Don't listen to Charlton Heston: Pyramids not built by slaves
- 1928 all-girl, all-banjo orchestra plays "Shakin' the Blues Away"
- Art Kunkin's blog: "Prevent Your Brain From Turning Into Stone By Using Apple Cider Vinegar"
- China: The Great Google Coverup?
- Photo Essay: Drama In The Courtroom (Coronet/April 1947)
- The Art of Bleeding's Gory Details
- Real Networks CEO Glaser steps down: So long, and thanks for all the malware?
- Cute Things Falling Asleep
- Mexico's Museum of Drugs
- Western Swing on 78
- The VICE guide to Liberia
- Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)
- Mirror-image species and copulation in snails
- Orson Welles on police brutality
- Rustbelt collapse dividend: ginormous Chrysler plant and 3,000,000 sqft worth of gear up for sale
- Too elementary, dear Watson!
- Crash test 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air VS. 2009 Chevrolet Malibu
- Mark Newman's "Eel Walker" sculpture
- Buckyballs: little magnetic metal balls that are fun to play with
- Search Engine's YouTube channel launches: Does the Internet make you dumber?
Posted: 15 Jan 2010 02:51 AM PST
The wonderful San Francisco science fiction reading series, SF in SF, is back for its fifth year, kicking off tomorrow: "SF in SF is pleased to present authors Jeff Carlson and Nancy Etchemendy. Each author will read a selection of their work, followed by Q & A moderated by author Terry Bisson. Book signing and schmoozing in the lounge afterward. Books for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. Seating is limited, first-come, first-seated. All bar proceeds and tips benefit Variety Children's Charity of Northern California."
Posted: 15 Jan 2010 02:25 AM PST
The drive to ram through the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is ramping up, with the next meeting set for the end of this month in Mexico. ACTA is an unprecedented copyright treaty (unprecedented in that it reaches farther than previous copyright treaties, and that it is being negotiated behind closed doors, without any public input or oversight) that will force copyright policing duties on Internet companies (vastly increasing the cost of hosting "user-generated content"); create new penalties for infringement (including Draconian penalties such as disconnection from the Internet on accusations of infringement); and require countries to search hard-drives, personal media players, and other personal data at their borders.
Last month, Google's DC office hosted a public debate on ACTA, with Steven J. Metalitz, a lawyer and lobbyist representing the International Intellectual Property Alliance; Jamie Love, an activist with Knowledge Ecology International; Jonathan Band, a lawyer representing a coalition of library groups and a variety of tech and Internet companies and Ryan Clough from Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's office; moderated by Washington Post consumer technology columnist Rob Pegoraro.
The video runs to 90 minutes. I don't get a lot of 90-minute chunks of time in my life, but I made time for this. It was one of the most spirited -- even heated -- debates I've heard on the subject, and it got into substantive questions of law, jurisdiction, economics and ethics. It was especially interesting to hear Metalitz, the main mouthpiece for the private corporate interests behind this proposal, attempt to defend both the proposal and the secrecy behind it.
Two recurring points that Metalitz raised were that the secrecy in the treaty was a requirement of foreign negotiating partners, and the US's hands were tied; and that the treaty wouldn't require any of the "advanced" nations to change their law (he repeated the oft-heard unfounded slur that Canada is a rogue nation when it comes to copyright law).
Both of these points are simply wrong. The country demanding that ACTA be kept secret is the good old US of A, whose strategy for this is being driven by former entertainment industry lawyers who have found new homes as senior officials in the Obama government (the Democrats are terrible on copyright, sadly -- we can thank Bill Clinton for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act). These lawyers are Metalitz's old pals, his colleagues in the decades he's spent winning special privileges and public subsidy for his rich clients.
Even more ridiculous is the claim that ACTA won't require any changes to law (if that was true, why bother with it?). As the EU's Commissioner-designate for the Internal Market stated, ACTA will trump the democratic law made by elected governments, requiring changes that are created in smoke-filled rooms that only corporate bigwigs get access to.
ACTA is a profoundly undemocratic undertaking, as is amply demonstrated in the debate in this video. K-street lobbyists, corporate execs, and other movers and shakers know everything that's going on in the ACTA negotiations, but the public is frozen out of the debate. And as Jamie Love points out, public access to other copyright negotiations -- such as those at WIPO -- have fundamentally changed their directions, because the public doesn't want expensive gags and handcuffs put on the Internet in order to bolster the entertainment industry's profits.
Watch this video. It may be the most productive 90 minutes you spend today.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:27 PM PST
I'm unsurprised but vindicated to read of this research from the Max Planck Institute and Indiana U that says that diets are more apt to succeed when they are simple -- complexity kills. I think this is why Atkins worked so well for me (80 lbs in about a year): low-carbing is just easy to do, all you really need to do is stop eating high-carb food:
"For people on a more complex diet that involves keeping track of quantities and items eaten, their subjective impression of the difficulty of the diet can lead them to give up on it," reported Peter Todd, professor in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.Sticking to Diets Is About More Than Willpower -- Complexity Matters
(Image: lunch, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from malias' photostream)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:50 PM PST
Another sweet ParentHacks tip, from reader Chrissy -- I love the elegance of realizing that the dishwasher door, when opened, is a self-cleaning, toddler-height food-prep area:
Stumbled across this idea by accident this week when my four year-old wanted to help with the cooking. She's kind of a wild stirrer and flour has a tendency to end up all over so I was feeling resistant to having her help. The dishwasher happened to be open and I got the idea to just set to bowl on top of the open dishwasher door. It was just the right height for her to help add ingredients and stir, and the pile of flour and sugar that usually ends up on the counter ended up on the dishwasher instead, making clean up as easy as closing the door :) It was definitely one of those "how did it take me so long to think of this?!" sort of moments.Let little kids "help" with cooking by placing the mixing bowl on the open dishwasher door
(Image: Dishwasher, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from brownpau's photostream)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:20 PM PST
Roboticist film-maker John Nolan's gallery of animatronic creations is a treasure-trove of wonderful, grotesque creations in states of partial undress.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:15 PM PST
UK artist Ryan McElhinney paints and lacquers mountains of toy plastic dolls and action figures around lamps in bizarre tableaux that look like scenes out of Bosch paintings.
(via Crib Candy)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:07 PM PST
Wagner James Au sez, "Jonathan Lethem's latest novel Chronic City includes a virtual world inspired by Second Life, so fittingly, this Sunday Lethem is promoting his book *in* Second Life on the Copper Robot show, using an avatar named PerkusTooth Riddler, based on the character Perkus Tooth from the book. If you don't have an SL account you can watch on the web ."
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 10:02 PM PST
Artist Anastassia Elias builds miniature dioramae inside of toilet-paper tubes, using paper of the same color to create little dimensional scenes from life. Empty-loo-roll-day is always fun around our place, the cue to get out the stickers and markers and decorate the empty tube with Poesy, then run around the house playing kazoo or telescope. Maybe we'll level up to tiny still lives in a couple of years.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 08:57 PM PST
A 100-bed hospital, built in 36 hours. Doctors Without Borders uses inflatable lifeboat fabric to set up portable, reusable trauma centers in disaster zones, including Haiti. Help support smart, innovative humanitarian action.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 08:45 PM PST
The tombs of at least a dozen pyramid construction workers have been found in Egypt, near Giza. Egyptologists would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the pyramids were not built by slaves.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 07:04 PM PST
It doesn't get any better than this. (Thanks, Amy!)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 05:49 PM PST
I like Art Kunkin, the octogenarian founder of the 1960s underground paper, the LA Free Press, and I like the title of his recent blog entry even more: "Prevent Your Brain From Turning Into Stone By Using Apple Cider Vinegar."
Here's more abut Kunkin: a profile from Fortean Times reveals that he eats an apple or pear every week that has been sitting in a jar of uranium ore. He says:
"It's a very simple procedure. I have a jug full of Pitchblende rocks and I put a pear or apple in. I've been eating a piece of this fruit every week for nearly a year now, taking a risk at this point because I really don't know how strong the radioactivity is. The latest theory of aging has to do with mitochondria, saying that while they are the source of life and energy for the body, they also kill each other off in the process of producing the ATP. What I am assuming is that the radiation is affecting the mitochondria inside the still living apples or pears that are in my jug, helping those mitochondria to be healthy and reproductive . Then when I eat this fruit, I am absorbing healthy mitochondria that transmit their energy to my mitochondria, a process of adding life energy to my body from the inside out. This is an energetic process far different from that of simply replacing depleted chemicals in our body by eating food or vitamins or using medicinal hormones. I explain in my book the exact safe methods by which I handle this otherwise dangerous radiation."artkunkin.com - The Immortality Blog
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 05:23 PM PST
"My fear—for Google and for us—is that the reason they know it's the Chinese government behind these attacks is because Google gave them the key." —Douglas Rushkoff, in the Daily Beast.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 06:55 PM PST
In the courtroom's supreme moment of tragedy, it is often possible to watch a man go from life to death in a few seconds. Here, smiling and self-assured, a killer faces the court. The judge's voice begins...
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 06:43 PM PST
Rev. Al Ridenour is one of my heros. He is a prankster, an entertainer, a troublemaker and a genuinely nice guy. I met him when he was the chief "cat herder" of the infamous Cacophony Society in Los Angeles. Now he's created something equally demented and even more fun- The Art of Bleeding.
The Art of Bleeding website describes their project as...
...a uniquely non-accredited educational institution offering powerful and ego-destabilizing theatrical programs in safety education. Often staging productions from an actual ambulance, our programs combine live performance, film, puppets, music, and animation to create a sort of "PARAMEDICAL FUNHOUSE" in which the groping ego may ultimately experience TRUE SAFETY CONSCIOUSNESS.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 03:58 PM PST
Some reports on the exit of Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser wax poetic about the end of an early era in digital media. But others recall that Real Networks introduced a simple, easy-to-use player, then pushed obnoxious, invasive adware into the user experience. Maybe Real Player's irrelevance is fair punishment for those sins.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 03:16 PM PST
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 02:49 PM PST
The Mexican military's Museum of Drugs, opened in 1985 in Mexico City, is now running out of exhibit space. Sadly, it's a private museum, open only to government officials, diplomats, and members of the army. The Washington Post's William Booth got a tour, accompanied by photographer Sarah L. Voisin. From the Washington Post:
Probably the best-known exhibit is the life-size diorama of a grower in the countryside guarding his crop. Montane flips a switch and a cassette player begins a bouncy narco-corrida, the popular ballads honoring the derring-dos of drug outlaws. In the corner, a mannequin lounges in his dark shades, a shotgun across his lap, beside a pile of empty Tecate beer cans. In front are beans on the stove and a bust of Jesús Malverde, a highwayman who legend has it was killed by authorities in 1909 and is revered as a patron saint of traffickers and a Robin Hood for the poor."In harsh reflection of reality, Mexico's Museum of Drugs outgrowing its space"
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 04:34 PM PST
I've always found that the most interesting art lies at the intersection between two totally different styles. One of the best examples of this theory existed more than a half a century ago as an unlikely offshoot of country and western music.
From the 1930s through the 50s, country music exploded into a bunch of different styles- old time hillbilly folk music (exemplified by the Carter Family), bluegrass (Bill Monroe), honky tonk (Hank Williams) and cowboy music (Sons of the Pioneers). But the most exciting (and most fun) branch of the country and western musical family tree was the fusion of jazz and country music- Western Swing.
Before you say, "I hate country music." take a few moments to listen to the unrestrained madness of Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant at their peak...
I'm a record collector... a dangerously fanatical one. I have thousands and thousands of LPs and 78s covering a 25 foot long wall of my library from floor to ceiling. A long time ago, I realized that only a tiny fraction of the world's great music existed on CD. The only way to get a true picture of the history of 20th century popular music was to haunt garage sales and swap meets and scoop up the detritus from the golden age of recorded music. You wouldn't believe the amazing stuff that is totally forgotten today!
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 01:43 PM PST
Judging from its trailer, The VICE guide to Liberia looks amazing.
The documentary is coming out on January 19th, in eight segments released over the course of eight consecutive days.The VICE guide to Liberia
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 12:56 PM PST
Make contributor Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler published a fun kids' acitvity book called Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do). Above, one of the activities: supergluing your fingers together.
Other activities in the book: Look at the sun, Walk home from school, Kiss hello like the French, Play in a hailstorm, Dive in a dumpster, Melt glass, sleep in the wild, and whittle. What fun!
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 12:50 PM PST
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 12:18 PM PST
D Walker sez,
The Internet Archive features a series of recordings of American radio broadcaster Orson Welles, in particular a recording from 1946 in which Welles reads the Affidavit of Isaac Woodard regarding his abuse at the hands of corrupt police officers, followed by a highly emotional and impassioned speech by Welles on the subject of bringing justice, corruption, and forgiveness.MP3 Link
1946 Orson Welles Commentaries (Thanks, D!)
(Image: File:Orson_Welles_1937.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:37 AM PST
Richard sez, "For the discerning mad scientist: the list of items up for auction by the University of Delaware from a former Chrysler plant in Newark, Delaware. The university bought the plant after it closed, and apparently got the contents as well. The coolest items are probably the 6 axis robot arms, some still in line along assembly lines. There appears to be all kinds of milling equipment as well as other mysterious devices of unsure provenance. I am sure a machine expert would be able to make sense of all of it. The place is acres large (ed: literally -- 3 million sqft), so I bet there are plenty of robot arms to go around. Oh to be an independently wealthy mad scientist with a large laboratory, perhaps under an extinct volcano, for this stuff. I suppose if there are any makers in the area they might want to check it out."
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:33 AM PST
Just tried the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries iPhone game. This video explains it: ask questions, inspect evidence, then figure stuff out. An interesting idea, but the execution is so simplistic that interrogation is just an interactive story, clue-searching a mindless mini-game, and solutions easily brute-forced. It's polished and mildly entertaining--and just a dollar--but it only held my attention for a few minutes. [iTunes Link]
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:27 AM PST
What happens when a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu drive into each other? This slow-motion video of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal offset test shows the Malibu (or rather, the occupant inside) as the clear winner. (Via The Presurfer)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:15 AM PST
Bay area sculptor Mark Newman recently finished this piece, called "Eel Walker." You can see in-process photos and more examples of his stunning work on his deviantART site.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:16 AM PST
Jake Bronstein of Zoomdoggle sent me a bunch of Buckyballs and for the last few days my daughters and I have been playing with them during meals and in front of the TV. They're addictive.
Each box contains 216 Buckyballs, arranged in a 6 x 6 x 6 cube. They stick together because they're magnets. The magnets are strong enough that you can make a chain with all 216 balls that won't break when you dangle it. They are so strong in fact, that my thumb is a little bruised from the effort it takes to pull the balls apart.
The fun part about Buckyballs is the way they balls arrange themselves when you stick them together. The balls have a preference for certain crystalline structures. There seems to be a huge variety of structures the balls like to arrange themselves into, as you can see in the video above. (Learn other tricks with Buckyballs.) When I play with them, I feel like my hands are a nanotechnology machine sticking atoms together.
My current goal is to stack them back together into the 6 x 6 x 6 cube, but I haven't been able to figure out how to do it. I know that there are some YouTube videos that show how to do it, but I'm going to try to figure it out on my own.
(Disclosure: I'm an unpaid adviser to Zoomdoggle.)
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 11:15 AM PST
Here's a neat site launch: app.itize.us is a "painstakingly curated presentation of the best produced and designed iPhone applications that are available for download via the App Store." Nice simple UI, and nice app selections, mostly indie stuff I hadn't heard of. The guy behind app.itize.us is @fasonista, former Snap.com product evangelist. I think he has good taste.
Posted: 14 Jan 2010 08:56 AM PST
Our friends at the brilliant TVOntario tech podcast Search Engine have launched a YouTube channel. The inaugural episode, "Does the Internet Make You Dumber?" is fun, informative, and 3 minutes long.
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