Noney - what's it worth?

Noney is money with a face value of zero. But the creator wants you to try buy stuff with it. Reminds me of the work of money artist J.S.G. Boggs. Link Discuss Read the rest

The Insect Company - Oddities and rarities

Photo gallery of insect freaks, from The Insect Company, which sells insect specimens. Link Discuss (via Ookworld) Read the rest

Island Chronicles -- "Welcoming Dance,"

Our latest Island Chronicles dispatch, entitled "Welcoming Dance," is now up on the LA WEEKLY web site.

Link (To see past dispatches go to archives) Discuss Read the rest

Karl Schroeder's Permanence wins the Aurora Award!

Congratulations are due: my friend and writing collaborator Karl Schroeder won the Aurora Award -- Canada's answer to the Hugo -- today, for best novel, for his book Permanence.

Permanence is Karl's second novel, and it's brilliant -- at its core is a massive, hard-sf conceit: that because tool-use expends more energy than adaptation (i.e., when confronted with a marsh, it's easier to be a marsh-bird than to figure out how to drain it), that over time, all the races of the universe will use genetic engineering to adapt themselves to their habitats and so become nonsentient. Layered on top of that are braided adventure stories, religious cults, and a kind of intellectual property imperialism driven by smart dust and twisted by lightspeed lags. This is the kind of book that changes you, and he deserved the hell out of this award.

Go, Karl! Link Discuss Read the rest

Suburbia makes you fat

Suburbs built without sidewalks are strongly correlated with net weight gain for residents of those regions: John Q. Roundass of the Levittown Roundasses, at your service.
All other factors being equal, each extra degree of sprawl meant extra weight, less walking, and a little more high blood pressure, he concluded. Someone living in the most sprawling county - Geauga County outside Cleveland - would weigh 6.3 pounds more than if that same person lived in the most compact area, Manhattan.
Link Discuss (via Futurismic) Read the rest

Ping Pong in The Matrix

A funny performance piece from Japanese (?) TV depicting an anti-gravity game of Ping Pong. Link Discuss (Thanks Vann!) Read the rest

Female Baghdad blogger

Baghdad Burning is (another) blog written by an Iraqi with a very good command of English and a nice, breezy prose-style. However, the blogger here is a woman, and her perspective is different enough from Salam Pax's that this makes for a fascinating counterpoint (or at least alternative) to his very good blog.
The Myth: Iraqis, prior to occupation, lived in little beige tents set up on the sides of little dirt roads all over Baghdad. The men and boys would ride to school on their camels, donkeys and goats. These schools were larger versions of the home units and for every 100 students, there was one turban-wearing teacher who taught the boys rudimentary math (to count the flock) and reading. Girls and women sat at home, in black burkas, making bread and taking care of 10-12 children.
Link Discuss (via William Gibson) Read the rest

Teslar Watch: Tinfoil beanie for your wrist

Celebrities and other fools are availing themselves of the Teslar Watch, a wrist-watch that purports to deflect radiation from its wearer. The Wired News headline, "A Watch Powered by Snake Oil," says it all -- and whomever wrote it deserves a raise for pithy wit.
"There is not a chance in the world that (these types of devices) will do anything but lighten your wallet," said John Moulder, a professor of radiation oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, who said he's seen a slew of products that claim to do the same thing, including radio-frequency-proof lingerie.

Harezi first developed the Teslar chip in 1986 to help people with extreme sensitivity to electricity, from televisions to vacuum cleaners. She said the "environmentally handicapped" people who wore the watch were able to resume their lives.

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Sterling on Open Cultures

Bruce Sterling's latest column in Wired is a snarling and sharp-edged commentary on the Open Cultures conference in Vienna:
Logically - indeed, free-software geeks are the most logical hippies in the whole wide world - the revolution is at hand. Why should anybody pay for software? What do you get for your money besides shrink-wrap licenses, potential lawsuits, DRM cuffs around both wrists, and a cloud of viruses? "Property relations" are blocking social and technical progress. Secure computing and digital rights management are coercive regimes that would make George Orwell blush. The free market is a tissue of political fiction as brittle as an Eastern European regime. With open source code on tap, the software trade will collapse under its own weight.
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Prisoners' Inventions: MacGuyver meets the prison system

Prisoners' Inventions is a small-press book comprising an illustrated guide to the ingenious folk-art-cum-contraband manufactured by artisans in America's prison system, from toilet-roll chess-sets to this "water lighter." This stuff makes a joke out of MacGuyver and Gilligan's Island's Professor -- (often) brilliant inventions, refined by thousands of inventors who have necessity in plenty, and passed folklorically from one prisoner to another. Link Discuss (via FARK) Read the rest

Robert Anton Wilson for Governor

bOING bOING patron saint Robert Anton Wilson is running for California Governor! "After all, why should I remain the ONLY nutcase in California who ain't running," RAW says.
My party, the Guns and Dope Party, invites extremists of both right and left to unite behind our shared goals of:

1. Get those pointy-headed Washington bureaucrats off our backs and off our fronts too!

2. Guns for everybody who wants them; no guns for those who don't want them

3. Drugs for everybody who wants them; no drugs for those who don't want them

4. Freedom of choice, free love,free speech, free Internet and free beer

5. California secession -- Keep the anti-gun and anti-dope fanatics on the Eastern side of the Rockies

6. Lotsa wild parties every night by gun-toting dopers

7. Animal protection -- Support your right to keep and arm bears More position papers will follow; we know at least 69 good positions.

I haven't been this excited about politics since RU Sirius ran for President! Link Discuss Read the rest

My WorldCon reading, tomorrow at 5PM

Going to be at WorldCon? My reading is tomorrow night -- Friday -- at 5PM, in the Convention Center, room 203A. I'm going to be reading from the new 21,000-word novella I wrote last week -- your only chance to get at this story between now and its eventual publication, likely a year away.
Trish gathered her staff in the board room and wrote the following in glowing letters on the wall with her fingertip, leaving the text in her expressive schoolmarm's handwriting rather than converting it to some sterile font: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

Her staff, all five of them, chuckled softly. "Recognize it?" she asked, looking round at them.

"Pee-Wee Herman?" said the grassroots guy, who was so young it ached to look at him, but who could fire a cannonload of email into any congressional office on 12 hours' notice. He never stopped joking.

The lawyer cocked an eyebrow at him and stroked her moustache, a distinctive gesture that you could see in any number of courtv archives of famous civil-rights battles, typically just before she unloaded both barrels at the jury-box and set one or another of her many precedents. "It's Martin Luther King, right?"

"Close," Trish said.

"Geronimo," guessed the paralegal, who probably wasn't going to work out after all, being something of a giant flake who spent more time on the phone to her girlfriend than filing papers and looking up precedents.

"Nope," Trish said, looking at the other two staffers -- the office manager and the media guy -- who shrugged and shook their heads.

Read the rest

Danny on the Beeb's Creative Archive

Danny O'Brien's got a good editorian in the Guardian today, explaining the BBC's Creative Archive project:
The BBC, in theory, shouldn't care how many times you share a copy of, say, Dixon of Dock Green. On the contrary, it should thank you. You're taking the hard work - and cost - out of distributing the works you have already paid for with your licence fee. So not only does the BBC not need to care about Napster and other file-sharing systems - it can actively take advantage of them. Distributing content in this way does not reduce the BBC's income, but it can reduce its costs. Copy protection devices and clampdowns on internet copying just get in the way of the BBC's mission.

Of course, simply allowing anyone to download and copy the BBC's output has its problems. While broadcasts are free, the BBC makes money selling DVDs and tapes of its work, and reselling to other countries. Not a great deal of money - less than 5% of the £3bn it receives in licence fees - but some.

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Fair and Balanced, the play

"Fair and Balanced" is a new one-act play by Brian Fleming:
Fair & Balanced is a scathing satirical attack on Fox News Channel and its claim of ownership to the words "fair and balanced." Playwright Brian Flemming, who co-wrote the Off-Broadway smash hit Bat Boy: The Musical, penned this dark one-act comedy in which "Fair" and "Balanced" are characters—they are prisoners held in an underground dungeon, and every night at 8 p.m. a foul character named "Bill O'Reilly" comes down into the dungeon to torture them.
Link Discuss (Thanks, Brian!) Read the rest

2D animation's last days at Disney

David Koenig's written a sad and sharp account of the last days of the 2D animation department at Disney.
Eisner has expressed interest in reanimating Disney's classic 2-D features in 3-D.

A computerized Pinocchio, anyone? (In fact, much of the 3-D character animation for Walt Disney World's upcoming Mickey's PhilharMagic was so bad—in particular Ariel from The Little Mermaid—it had to be reanimated by 2-D animators, then transferred into the computer.) The tens of millions of dollars lost on Treasure Planet are fresh on Disney's mind—and executives are bracing for the worst with next spring's Home on the Range.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Greg!) Read the rest

Franken's Lies book excerpted on Salon

Salon has run an excerpt from Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, a Fair and Balanced account of right-wing punditry that got him sued by Fox.
God began our conversation by clearing something up. Some of George W. Bush's friends say that Bush believes God called him to be president during these times of trial. But God told me that He/She/It had actually chosen Al Gore by making sure that Gore won the popular vote and, God thought, the Electoral College. "THAT WORKED FOR EVERYONE ELSE," God said.

"What about Tilden?" I asked, referring to the 1876 debacle.

"QUIET!" God snapped. God was angry.

God said that after 9/11, George W. Bush squandered a unique moment of national unity. That instead of rallying the country around a program of mutual purpose and sacrifice, Bush cynically used the tragedy to solidify his political power and pursue an agenda that panders to his base and serves the interests of his corporate backers.

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Kinetic human maze

North Pitney has built a human-sized maze that changes as you walk through it. Called the Intermap, the maze will be open from September 1-15 in a vacant storefront at a Berkeley strip mall. The Intermap reminds me of that movie The Cube which, by the way, I think would make a great play. Link Discuss (Via Dorkbot) Read the rest

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