Caitlin Roper's 25th anniversary appreciation of Katherine Dunn's magnificent novel Geek Love manages the improbable trick of doing the book justice. Geek Love is a one-of-a-kind wonder of a novel, unique in voice, subject matter and emotional affect. Nothing I've ever read or done has made me feel the way Geek Love makes me feel every time I re-read it (it's a book I've loved since my teens). The feeling isn't entirely pleasant, but it's an important feeling, and one I need to get in touch with every couple of years.
Roper's piece features a rundown of all the amazing things that Geek Love has inspired in its quarter century, from the Jim Rose Sideshow Circus to mountains of weird and amazing fan-art. It also gives a glimpse of Dunn herself and the events that led her to write her wonderful masterpiece. I bought my wife a copy of Geek Love when we started courting. I couldn't imagine spending my life with someone who hadn't read it.
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I linked to the seven-hour video file from Trustycon, the convention held as an alternative to RSA's annual security event, inspired by the revelation that RSA took money from the NSA to sabotage its own products.
Now Al has broken down the video into the individual talks, uploading them to Youtube. This is very handy -- thanks, Al!
TrustyCon Videos Available
Dan Gillmor's got more to say
about the news that K-cups are getting coffee DRM
and what it means in the wider world: "Just as the police and security agencies are racing deploy all new technologies to spy on everyone – whether the law permits it or not – private industry is racing to retain as much control as possible over the products and services it sells, and thereby control over us."
My partner Miles O'Brien will be appearing on tonight's PBS NewsHour to talk about the accident that led to the loss of his left arm, while on a reporting trip in the Philippines. Miles is the science correspondent for NewsHour, and had just completed a reporting trip in Japan to cover the Fukushima nuclear crisis. His arm was amputated on February 14.
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Ukrainian leather mask-maker Bob Basset's unveiled his latest creation, a menacing stormtrooper that calls to mind the recent Euromaidan violence.
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Carol writes, "After a much-needed break, this week Phil & Kaja Foglio started up a new story arc on their multiple-Hugo-award-winning 'Girl Genius' comic series.
This new story arc is a good place for new readers to jump in, as Agatha Heterodyne sets out on a new adventure.
'Girl Genius' is a long-form series, with three new full-color comic pages posted on the site each week. Updates appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 'Girl Genius' has been running since 2001, following the gaslamp fantasy adventures of Agatha, the titular girl genius mad scientist."
I love this stuff. Here's my review of the novel version of the story.
Here we are, back with the second act of the Girl Genius story!
Bani Garu is Lea Hernandez’s story of becoming the U.S. merchandising vice-president of notorious Japanese animation studio Gainax, “a year-long trip down a rabbit hole of reality.” Start with page 1.
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Jim Munroe sez, "Ten years from now, videogames are so immersive that teenagers learn lethal skills just by playing. They're called hapheads.
The folks I made Ghosts With Shit Jobs with made this trailer I adapted from a book-length story I'm working on. Don't know if we can honestly call what we do lo-fi sci-fi anymore -- with fight scenes and full-on special effects, it's way more in the mold of traditional action sci-fi. I'm thinking what'll set it apart is the characterization of the father & daughter (my emotional entry into the story, thinking about my relationship with my daughter in 10 years) and the subcultural millieu that'll emerge."
Our good pal Brandon "Offworld" Boyer has cancer. Lucky for Brandon, he signed up for medical insurance with Humana not long before he was diagnosed. Unlucky for him, Humana has decided unilaterally not to cover his cancer treatments and has stuck him with with a $100,000 bill. He's raising money from the Internet to help pay for his life-saving treatments. I'm in for $100. If you're thinking of getting insured, be warned: Humana will screw you and screw you and screw you.
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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has submitted written testimony [PDF] to an EU committee investigating mass surveillance. Glyn Moody's Techdirt post gives a great tl;dr summary of the document, but you should really read it for yourself. It's ten single-spaced pages, but Snowden turns out to be an extremely talented writer who beautifully lays out his arguments, managing the trick of being dispassionate while simultaneously conveying the import of his subject matter.
Snowden makes the point that his testimony doesn't disclose anything that the press hasn't already published, but there's been so much that it's worth reviewing some of it. He directs our attention to something I'd missed: the NSA's Foreign Affairs Division (FAD) spends an extraordinary amount of time lobbying EU nations (and other countries) to change their laws so that the NSA can legally spy on everyone in the country. What's more, they cook these deals -- for example, they'll get German permission to listen in on everything by non-Germans and get a Danish deal that covers all the non-Danes, but since the Internet backbones traverse both countries, they can spy on Germans in Denmark and Danes in Germany. As Snowden says, "The surest way for any nation to become
subject to unnecessary surveillance is to allow its spies to dictate its policy."
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a terrible world leader among terrible world leaders: a xenophobic bigot and homophobe, committed to resource extraction economies and the destruction of social programs, who denies climate change. He's planning a visit to the state of Western Australia, and to send him off, WA Green Party Senator Scott Ludlam gave him some campaign advice -- and hope for people who despair of a world grounded in something other than kleptocratic corporatism. This is no Julia Gillard rant, but it's in the same league. Say what you will about Australian politics, they do love a fine rant.
Neoliberalism Dressing-Down: Australian Senator Ludlam on Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Lisa T. McElroy is a law professor who's spending a year at the University of Denver with her two kids, one in high school and one in middle school. She learned that she could opt her kids out of the standardized tests the school administered. So she did. What followed was a total educational freakout, as the principal, vice-principal and administration alternately cajoled and guilted her over her kids' non-participation in pedagogically suspect, meaningless, destructive high-stakes testing.
McElroy's story is a snapshot of an educational system in the process of implosion, driven by the ridiculous idea that schools are factories whose product is educated kids, and whose employees must be made "accountable" by measuring anything we can put a number on -- attendance and test-scores -- at the expense of actual educational outcomes.
Despite the fact that the best-performing educational systems in the world don't treat teachers as assembly line workers and kids as standardized injection molds to be squirted full of learning, the west continues to pursue this approach, scapegoating teachers' unions and pitting parents against them when the real enemy is the doomed idea that schools are a specialized kind of industrial plant -- and the project of selling off public schools to privatized educational corporations that collect public funds to educate kids, but only to the extent that this can be done without undermining their shareholders' interests.
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I missed this Ask Me Anything when it was live back in February, but it's definitely worth going back and reading. It features Eva Mozes Kor
, who was chosen at age 10, along with her twin sister, for experiments performed by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Really an amazing AMA. — Maggie
Five years ago today
Super Mario vs NYC -- street art: Some street artist in NYC is using tile-mosaics to turn the street-level water hookups into a giant Super Mario reenactment!
Ten years ago today
RNC trying to scare MoveOn ads off the air: The RNC is sending threatening letters to TV stations that run MoveOn's anti-Bush ads, trying to freak them out with a nonsensical claim that that ads are illegal.
Arunachalam Muruganantham is an inventor who came up with a way to make sanitary pads available to women in rural India (and give local village women a source income in the process). We take them for granted in the West, but pads can be life-saving, writes Emily Bazelon at Slate. That's because without sanitary pads, women use whatever absorbent material they have handy and they don't often have a great way to disinfect that material when they reuse it.
Muruganantham's story of invention took more than four years and, at one point, got him branded as a pervert when neighbors caught him wandering around the village with a football bladder full of goat's blood under his clothes (part of an attempt to test the absorption rate of different materials).
You can read about him on Slate, or watch him tell his own tale in a talk at TEDxBangalore. Here, truly, is a man with a good attitude towards menstruation.