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Book Five of King's Dark Tower is out

I've been addicted to Stephen King's Gunslinger books since I was about 17. They're long, tense, gripping tales, filled with enough po-mo weirdness to make them interesting and keep me guessing. The first book was begun when King was a teenager; the last book will be the last fiction King ever writes, according to him. Book five -- the third-to-last in the series -- is Wolves of the Calla, a 600+ page brick of a novel that I've just finished reading. It's a very satisfying installment in the saga, and ends, as they all do, on a cliff-hanger that is as exciting as it is exasperating. I can't wait for the next two. There aren't a lot of modern genre authors playing with the memes from the Western pulps these days; King's reinterpretation of them makes me want to dig up some old Zane Grey. Link

Warren says:

"When clambering into an anime-girl body suit just isn't enough for you: there's MightyLady.Net, for those who derive special enjoyment from giant robot women, either in bondage, wrestling, doing gymnastics or on a slab being repaired. "

Coming soon: America's first phonecam art show, "SENT"

I'm co-curating an exhibition of camera phone photography at sixspace art gallery in February, 2004. The project is called "SENT," and through it, we're inviting professional photographers, filmmakers, media personalities, and regular folks to explore the camera phone's potential as a creative tool:
Their use is largely utilitarian: snap a photo of your baby, your sunset, your face; then, share it with friends or family. They're small and cheap. We use them to capture the mundane, the obvious, and the personal. Soon, we'll use them to capture and manipulate data: phonecams are becoming handheld barcode readers, and tools for a variety of new mobile commerce applications.

The images they produce are undeniably crude, but like Polaroids or snapshots from vintage or "toy" cameras, that lack of finesse lends a distinctive, awkward charm. And the fact that they fuse together the abilities to capture, view, and distribute what we see (through e-mail or online photo weblogs) makes them revolutionary. Phonecams are changing the way we see the world, and our place within it. They're an extension of urban eyes. They democratize, hack, and deconstruct photography. When everyone is both photographer and publisher, how will art change? How will human conversation change? What will be the difference between professional and amateur? Through SENT, we'll find out.

Check out the growing list of invited participants here -- and contact us if you're a technology company who'd like to get involved. Soon, we'll announce the launch of the completed project site, where anyone with a phonecam can contribute their snapshots to the exhibition. Link.

update: Now, NPR's in the mix. They've issued a "Phonecam Challenge," inviting listeners to contribute mobile phone snaps -- some of which will be included in SENT. Link to more info on NPR Phonecam Challenge. Listen: Real, or Windows

Xeni on NPR's "Day to Day": phonecam revolution

On today's edition of the NPR program "Day to Day," I speak with host Alex Chadwick about how phonecams are changing the way we communicate with each other, and the way we see the world around us. The segment includes a live in-studio demo (which produced the phonecam snapshot at left), and a chat with anthropologist Mimi Ito (yes, Joi Ito's sister!) who's been researching phonecams and culture in Japan and the US for several years. On Monday, she launched a "bento blog" -- a phonecam photo gallery where she archives snapshots pictures of the lunches she makes for her children every morning. How cool is that? Link to "Day to Day" home, listen to the archived show: Real, or Windows

NPR's turkey Soda taste test

Click thumbnail for full-size phonecam snap. "Day to Day" host Alex Chadwick did taste test of that Jones Turkey and Gravy soda yesterday. I was in the studio just before the moment of horror, and snapped this phonecam shot of NPR producer Kathryn Fox preparing for Mr. Chadwick's total grossout. Listen to the segment here, after 12PM PST. Link

Exotica album produced through open collaboration, licensed CC

Michael sez, "Two Zombies Later is a 'double CD' set... The artists featured on these 'discs' are all members of the Exotica mailing list and within the shortest period of time managed to get together and compile this compilation. The whole set is downloadable as MP3s and has been published under the Creative Commons license. They will only be available (at this URL) for 3 months, after that, they are taken 'off the market' and (hopefully) something else will be published." Link (Thanks, Michael)

Guy in Japan makes girl masks from paper, then asphyxiates himself.

Matt Fraction, trying desperately to kick the extreme japorn web hunt habit, found this -- and forwards, with apologies

"Kumiko" says: "can't stop myself to go to the deadline. The second series I took off my wig and I wrapped my head tightly. At my neck, there are no hole for new air. There are no tricks in these pix. Please stop your breath while you're browsin these. Please, please NOT do the same. You must be killed. "

By the time you read this, the Geocities Japan site will be BoingBoinged to death, but: Link (didn't notice nudity or explicit sexual content, but didn't stay too long, either)

Diebold rolls on back, pisses self, begs for mercy

Diebold has withdrawn its lawsuit threats against the sites that republished the leaked memos demonstrating its gross malfeasance in its voting machine business. Having had these memos exposed by whistle-blowers, Diebold sought to use copyright law to censor websites that published them. Then EFF took up the cause of one of the site-operators, the Online Policy Group, and now Diebold is slinking away with its tail between its legs, off to plot the downfall of democracy in some rancid warren of its own devising. Don't let the courtroom door hit yer ass on the way out. Link (via Copyfight)

Diebold ATMs are vulnerable to worms

Diebold's ATMs, which run Windows XP, are the first ATMs to become infected with malware:
It is the first known case of a worm actually installing itself on individual ATM operating systems, says Peter Lind, a security expert at Spire Security in Malvern, Pennsylvania...

Diebold does not know how the worm got on to the closed financial network. But security experts suggest it could have been carried past security measure on an infected laptop computer. The laptop would have contracted Welchia while connected to the internet, and then transferred it when later connected to the financial network.


Hilbert's 16th problem solved by 22-year-old student

A Swedish math student has solved number 15 part of number 16 of David Hilbert's 23 math problems for the Twentieth Century, which has stood unsolved since 1900. Link (Thanks, Mikael!)

35,000 zombies form lobby group in India

35,000 Indians have joined the Association of the Living Dead, a group of people whose relatives have cheated them out of their fortunes by bribing officials to have them declared legally dead. The living dead, being dead, can't afford the counterbribes necessary to get un-dead-ified.
The ``living dead,'' having been cheated out of their property, cannot afford to pay bribes or even legitimate fees to get their cases dealt with.

Lal Bihari, president of the Association of the Living Dead, estimated 35,000 people in Uttar Pradesh state have been wrongly certified as dead.

Link (via Beyond the Beyond)

Creative Commons Moving Image deadline looms

The Creative Commons Moving Image contest (which gets you a G5 or equally shitkicking PC as grand prize for a two-minute film explaining Creative Commons) deadline of Dec 31 is fast approaching -- time to get started! Link

Yesterday was the best day of my writing career (so far!)

Yesterday, I had the flat-out most amazing day of my writing career:

I finally got to see the paperback edition of my novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which is out just in time for Christmas. For various good reasons, Tor elected to publish the hardcover in January of last year, too late for Christmas shoppers. A lot of people complained (including me), but it's clear that they knew what they were doing -- the book didn't end up competing with the big, frontlist holiday titles and sold very well indeed. Still, I'm very grateful indeed that the paperback (which Amazon has for $10.36) is out in time for the holidays this year.

I also got to hold a copy of the second edition of A Place So Foreign and Eight More, my short story collection, which sold out its first print run in six weeks or so and is well on the way to selling out the second edition, I'm told. A bunch of you submitted errata for this printing, and made it a better book altogether. I'm told that the next printing will have the Neil Gaiman quote added to the cover, which is all to the good indeed.

As if that weren't enough, I also got a stack of gorgeous, color-cover advance review copies of Eastern Standard Tribe, my second novel which will be a March, 2004 hardcover on sale in late January (pre-order it for a 30 percent discount). The William Gibson quote on the cover ("Utterly contemporary and deeply peculiar -- a hard combination to beat (or, these days, to find)") looks unspeakably swell...

But the good news kept coming. I also got word that my agent, Don Maass, has sold my next two novels, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and /usr/bin/god, to Tor for 2005 and 2006 publication.

The icing on the cake is that I signed off on the inclusion of Flowers from Alice, a short story that Charlie Stross and I co-wrote for Mike Resnick's forthcoming New Faces in Science Fiction anthology, in a Year's Best Science Fiction anthology.

Wired: Mark Cuban -- I'm a Maverick, not a mogul!

I interviewed Mark Cuban ( founder, Dallas Mavs owner, HDnet founder, etc.) for this month's Wired Magazine about his recent purchase of Landmark Theatres -- and his plans to build a digital entertainment empire in which production, development, and distribution are all housed under one corporate roof.
Q: How is this any different from the studio conglomerates that led to antitrust laws?

A: Digital makes filmmaking cheaper and more accessible, so we see ourselves as a conduit for new, independent voices who'd otherwise never have a shot. You could shoot your film on digital, dump it on a hard drive, edit it on a laptop, send us that file, and 20 minutes later we could show it in a theater or upload it to a satellite. You could say that if we became huge, we'd risk becoming a Microsoft. But if we become huge, we want to become more like a Linux.


Bruce Sterling and "Tech Nouveau" design examples

On Bruce Sterling's Viridian email list this week, a round-up of 21st-century "Tech Nouveau": buildings and products that incorporate organic forms in a manner similar to Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century. Some cool outtakes:
* "There is a new, witty nouveau afoot, from the Vallo watering can by Monika Mulder at Ikea, which looks like a stork," Link (halfway down the page)
* "to the coffee and tea set by Greg Lynn for Alessi, which opens like a clove of garlic." Link
* "Tord Boontje's chandeliers for Swarovski look like clouds of slender branches surrounding a light." Link
* "In the United States, the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum looks like a giant bird about to take off." Link
* "William Sawaya, a designer based in Milan, created a blossom-like plastic Calla chair for Heller, which was inspired by a lily." Link
* "A new digital camera for Creative Labs by the California company Whipsaw Design takes its inspiration from the many-chambered spiral shell called the nautilus." Link I love/respect this brand!

Snarked from Gawker:

Charles "Chucky" Saatchi, swinging advertising mogul, thinks it's time for you to revel in the consuming pleasure that is Lovemarks: the future beyond brands. At the oddly confusing, "real people" write in about how favorite brands moved from objects to something more like family members. Adidas: "Reminds me of my childhood." BMW: "Mystery, aura and history oozes out." Abercrombie & Fitch: "I started wearing their clothes and it made me cool and hip differentiating me with the rest of the Gap wearing populace." (Snicker. Mmm, Snickers! I could go for one of those...)

Link (Spotted first by Invisible Cowgirl)

Neckaces made from keyboard keys

Funky jewelry made from keyboard keys. I want one now, along with one of the "I [heart] geeky boys" pins! Link

Kigurimi vs. Cosplay

Welcome to episode four in BoingBoing's crash course on the global cybercartoon fetish pantheon. So, apparently, there's a difference between Kigurimi and cosplay: masks. Fleshbot and BoingBoing reader Sarmoung says:
There's a certain blurring between the two types of dressing up in Japan, but there are certain distinctions. Cosplay is almost always mask free and draws on various video game, manga and anime characters. This is more fantastic in look generally. The majority of cosplayers in Japan aren't too happy about its infiltration into the hardcore adult market, but there's no denying its clear debt/links to the fetish scene. There's a book out in English called "Cosplay Girls" and you can find a fair amount of adult (and non-adult) cosplay related material via J-List. Nao Oikawa has done a fair amount of this adult cosplay work.

The use of masks makes it kigurumi. These are in origin the same as people in Goofy outfits of whatever at Disneyland. You seem them frequently enough at amusement parks in Japan or doing product promotions in the street. These are also generally drawn from the manga/anime/game world. Now some people do this for a living and some do it as a hobby. Obviously it's a step beyond as these people tend to wear full skin-toned body stockings, unitards and whatever in addition to the masks. Also, you suspect that many of the hobbyists are men although this isn't always the case. It's just impossible to tell, although the hands do give it away much of the time.

What you then discover is that kigurumi is further subdivided between people who wear manga styled masks and costumes (pointy chins, huge eyes, etc) and those who go for a ultra-realist look, where the costumes become much more everyday. This then sort of leads on to Japanese ultrarealist love dolls.

Link to "What is Kigurimi?", Links to very strange adult kigurimi: Room 107, Room 108, from (Thanks, fleshbot.) Link

Inkha, the Roboceptionist

BoingBoing reader Roland writes:
In "Robo-receptionist clocks on," Nature tells us the story of Inkha, a robot which greets guests of King's College London (KCL) and adds artificial intelligence to the front desk. "Inkha -- short for 'interactive neurotic King's head assembly' -- will dole out directions and events information. Like receptionists across the globe, she will also comment on the weather and fashion faux pas." Inkha was funded with a £8,400 grant and has become a celebrity in the U.K. It even has its own website, More details are available in this overview, which also includes pictures of Inkha.

British Library catalogue soon searchable through Amazon

Amazon has purchased a license to create a searchable index of the entire British Library catalogue, including 1.7 million titles that predate ISBNs.
The deal gives Amazon the right to use the British Library's bibliographic catalogue, which contains 2.55 million books. Crucially it includes 1.7 million produced before the introduction in 1970 of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), a 10-character code that uniquely identifies any modern book.
Link (via Ben Hammersley)

Erotic cosplay doll-mask photos

The snapshots of photorealistic latex doll faces on this website -- some deconstructed, others complete and ready to wear -- are as unnerving as they are flat-out beautiful. Link

Japorn anime cosplay and living-doll erotica, part two: Kigurumi

BoingBoing reader Justin Brown -- who wins an honorary Link-Fu master award -- says:

"After you posted that creepy Sabrina link on BoingBoing, [I discovered that this is] a form of cosplay called Kigurumi. This site has some good definitions, and this site also has interviews with people who do kigurumi. I am throughly creeped out now, and I blame you. Especially after seeing this page. But wait, it gets weirder: here, and here. Don't miss this -- middle aged man turns into Real Doll. But wait, thats a copy of this. I'm going to attempt to sleep now, I expect I'll have some really strange dreams."

The Kigurimi enthusiast behind the mask in the snapshot at left (from one of the sites Justin points to), says:

"This is my all time favorite female mask. It is made by Natori of the Photogenic mask site. The cost is around $900.00 and it is in my opinion the most realistic female mask I have seen. Plus I love to be a super cute Japanese girl. The only drawback to this mask is the limited vision and breathing."

News from the Iranian blogosphere

Toronto-based blogger Hossein Derakhshan points us to two new developments. First: the launch of iranFilter, a new collaborative website focused on Iran (Link). And, news that Iranian vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi has started a weblog -- he's the first major Iranian politician to do so. (Link to Persian blog, link to the vice-president's English site.).

Weird, weird cosplay Japorn. Sort of. I can't explain.

I have no idea what this is, but it's totally freaking me out. Like a Philip K. Dick stripshow. All I can tell you is that this link takes you to a Windows Media video clip in which a (male) human dressed in (female) animated child character drag performs a sort of webcam erotic tease. Shemale hentai cosplay? Something like that. Please, someone, explain. Keep watching, eventually Sabrina strips. No actual nudity, just oddity. Link (Thanks, Warren, thanks Matt)

Olympics serves ROBOlympics with cease-and-desist

David Calkins, president of the Robotics Society of America, tells Boingboing that the ROBOlympics -- a biannual robot game and expo -- has been C&D'd by the recently-scandal-ridden US Olympic Committee.

The bot-builders' expo has apparently been asked to stop using, well, the name ROBOlympics. "Of course, the hinge is the term 'athletic event,' " says David. "Are robot events athletic? Doesn't really matter if I can't afford the lawyers."

The ROBOlympics event is slated to take place at Fort Mason Center Herbst Pavilion, San Francisco, California, in March of 2004, and will include contestants from around the world to help promote robotics, engineering, and education.

Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools -- the book

Kevin Kelly, a founding editor of Wired and the former editor of Whole Earth Magazine, has self-published my favorite book for 2003: a 140-page color book with reviews of his favorite "gadgets, how-to books, amazing documentaries, great pieces of software, uncommon mail order catalogs, websites, pieces of machinery, and things you can grab with your hand." If you've seen the old Whole Earth Catalogs, then you already have a good idea of what Cool Tools is like. No matter how much you already know, you'll find dozens of things in here to blow your mind. Hurry, because Kevin only printed 250 copies. They cost $20 at Link

Call for Creepy Santas

My friend Kirsten Anderson (who owns the far out Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle) is publishing a photography book of bad, drunk, deranged, drug-addled, criminal, and slovenly Santas. If you want to contribute a photo read on:

Here Comes Santa Claus! - Ignition Books Fall 2004

While sorting through old photographs at my mother's house one Christmas, I came across a photograph that was to haunt me for years. It was a photo taken at a mall of my brother Michael sitting on the lap of Santa Claus. Innocent enough- loads of people have pictures of themselves or thier children sitting on Santa's's a tradition to see Santa every year, tell him what you'd like for Christmas,and get a candy cane. What struck a chord with me about this picture was the Santa himself. Slouched into the chair, one arm clumsily draped around my brother, much in the same way barflys casually hug thier fellow brethren before falling to the floor in a stupor. I looked closer...thick black body hair sprouted from every opening of the ill fitting Santa suit, the too-short trouses- revealing fish white, strangely pocked legs. This Santa boasted one enormous black eyebrow, an 5'oclock shadow (needless the say the beard was falling off) and the dull gleam of narcotics in the one eye that wasn't drooping and looking far past the camera. This was GREAT! I then turned my attention to my brother who I now realised was not merely smiling on command for the camera but rather was grimacing, rigid in fear on his hobo Santa's lap, fists clenched, eyes silently pleading. Oh how I laughed.

After I finished enjoying my brother's pain, I started thinking about the whole Santa Claus phenomenon...every mall has a Santa come Christmas-time, and let's face it- most of those Santas ain't "Miracle on 42'd Street" quality. I figured there were probably tons of these photos floating around, kids horrified by thier low rent Santa and being scolded if they didn't "Smile, dammit" for the capture of a warm holiday memory. I began to ask around if anyone else had horrible Santa pics, and indeed, a small flood came in...drunk Santas, passed out Santas, creepy Santas. I decided to make a book and share the wealth.

Of course, the more the merrier so I am ever on the lookout for Santa pics for inclusion in the book. I'm hoping to get as many as I can so I can pick the choicest, the most god awful,and the funniest Santas with terrified children for the project. People can mail or email me photos that they'd like to submit. In return, people's whose pictures I include in the book will get thier name in the book (unless the shame requires anonymity) and a free copy of the book. These pictures would only be used for this book and any promotional press associated with it. I will return all hard copies (photos, discs, ect). Contracts will be required for publication.

Interested person can mail photos or 300dpi scans of thier drunken, flea ridden, pervy, waxy complexioned Santas to me at:

Kirsten Anderson
Ignition Publishing
4015 Airport Way S
Seattle WA 98121

or email questions or 300 dpi jpegs to me at :

3-year-old xylophonist prodigy video

Jed sez, "Video clip of Mo Kin, a 3-year-old North Korean girl, playing a complicated xylophone tune. (Until the voiceover narration made a big deal about how perfect her facial expression was, I thought she looked like she was having a great time; later, I wasn't so sure.)" Link (Thanks, Jed!)

Autistic savants

Steve Silberman, who wrote a brilliant piece on geeks and autism in Wired a couple years back, has a great long feature in the current issue about autistic "savants" -- people who have an instinctive, brilliant grasp of some abstruse task, such as music or math. There's some very good stuff about this in Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, particularily when he discusses very "low-functioning" people who have an intuitive understanding of music and numbers that is almost spiritual in nature.
When Matt was 6, he confided to his mother, "My mind is made of math problems." Diane started buying him math workbooks for kids twice his age. He zipped through them so quickly, she learned to hide a few in a drawer so he'd have something to work on the following day.

Then one night, Diane and Larry heard a melody coming from downstairs. It was their son, playing "London Bridge" on a toy keyboard. Diane brought Matt into the family room and introduced him to the middle C on the piano. Within a day, he was devouring music books as hungrily as he had math books.

Matt took classical lessons for a year, then Diane enrolled him in the jazz program at the New England Conservatory of Music. Upon meeting his first jazz instructor there, a bearish Israeli whose last name is Katsenelenbogen, Matt cried out, "Six syllables!"


How to change phone-carriers

As of today, you can take you phone number with you when you change mobile carriers. There's a good set of tips for potential switchers:
* Go to company/ carrier stores for switching. Trust me when I say that the guys at RadioShack, Best Buy and Staples are morons who don’t know anything about switching right now.

* Adventis folks advise that if you are a user of data services, check with your new service provider regarding the availability of services that you have become accustomed to. Functionality and availability of data services, as well as the customer experience itself (e.g., transfer rates) varies considerably from carrier to carrier.

* Back-up your cell-phone contact list data to your computer by using a data sync cable or bluetooth connections otherwise you will spend an entire weekend punching in phone numbers.

Link (via Gizmodo)