Audioblogging manifesto

Maciej has posted an audioblogging manifesto that is really a hell of a thing. 4.1MB Link, Transcript Link (via Waxy) (Thanks, -d!) Read the rest

Soros responds to drug-lord accusation

George Soros has responded to Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert's accusation that he is financed by narco-gangsters in a great, stiff letter that demands an apology:
You do a discredit to yourself and to the dignity of your office by engaging in these dishonest smear tactics. You should be ashamed.

For the Speaker of the House of Representatives, even in the midst of an election season, to descend to a level of political discourse where innuendo and slander replace reason, truth and argument is unacceptable.

This past Sunday, on national television, you suggested that I might be a criminal simply because I have exercised my First Amendment rights to dissent from the policies of the Bush administration...

I must respectfully insist that you either substantiate these claims -- which you cannot do because they are false -- or publicly apologize for attempting to defame my character and damage my reputation.

Go gettim, George! 52k PDF Link (Thanks, Raypride!) Read the rest

Other Earths?

Two teams of astronomers announced today the discovery of a new class of planets that are tiny compared to the gas giants previously detected outside of our solar system. Indeed, one of the two Neptune-sized spheres they found may have a solid surface and temperature conducive to life. From a CNN report:
"We are closer to answering the question, 'Are we alone in the universe?'" said Anne Kinney, director of NASA's Universe Division, Science Mission Directorate. "We aim to answer that question by looking for planets, eventually imaging them and ultimately diagnosing the presence of life on those planets."
One of the planets is 41 light years from Earth and the other is about 33 light years away. UC Berkeley's star planet hunter Geoff Marcy was a member of one of the teams that revealed their discoveries at a NASA press conference this afternoon:
"If you look at the 135 or so extrasolar planets found so far, it's clear that nature makes more of the smaller planets than the larger ones," he said. "We've found more Saturn-size planets than Jupiter-size planets, and now it appears there are more Neptune-size planets than Saturn-size. That means there's an even better chance of finding Earths, and maybe more of them than all the other planets we've found so far."
Link Read the rest

Bonus Zen of Death round: Tuscan deathblog from Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling is cyberpunking it up around Tuscany, the bastard, and has been shooting some lovely images of funerary sculpture. Start here, move back for more: Link. See also previous BoingBoing post: Zen of Death Read the rest

Vintage Girly pinups

Why is it that the women in these oldschool cheesecake illos always appear shocked, surprised, and totally unprepared to perform even the most mundane of tasks? The expression is, like, "Heavens! Someone's just crammed a red-hot poker up my butt!" I mean, take the image shown here, from Art Frahm. Maybe she's a midcentury bimbo wearing loose drawers, right? OR, maybe she's an undercover leet hacker and card-carrying MENSA member. Having just finished a phone phreak session in this public booth, she disguises her sinister, geeky hijinks with a bag full of carbs and a sight gag to divert that sneaky federal agent in black. "Smile now, narq," reads her invisibly eeevil thought-balloon, "1 PWN3D J00!" Anyway, here's an extensive online gallery of digital babes from yesteryear. Link to "Painted Anvil" gallery (via Fleshbot) Read the rest

PSAs for Google AdWords

Dave sez, "Designed for 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, Google Grants is a unique in-kind advertising program. It harnesses the power of our flagship advertising product, Google AdWords, to non-profits seeking to inform and engage their constituents online. Google Grants has awarded AdWords advertising to hundreds of non-profit groups whose missions range from animal welfare to literacy, from supporting homeless children to promoting HIV education." Link (Thanks, Dave!) Read the rest

Star Trek's James Doohan gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Blogger, photographer, and citizen geek Jason DeFillippo took photos, including the one shown here. He says, "I am really bummed I missed the [Trekkie] convention on Sunday but this made up for it. I'll remember it every time I walk by his star. Safe journeys Scotty..."

Mr. Doohan, who played the character "Scotty" on the famed scifi series, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (Link to more info, thanks Paul)

Link to Jason's photo gallery, which includes some wonderful snaps of other Star Trek cast members in attendance Read the rest

Dawn of the dead?

A fertility scientist at the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine, Panayiotis Zavos, claims to have taken cells from dead humans and cloned them. He stopped short of implanting the embryos, but the scientific community is in an uproar. According to New Scientist, one of three cases used DNA from a young girl killed in an automobile wreck. Apparently her parents kept the tissue in the refrigerator for a few days until sending them along to the maverick scientist.
“This man preys on the strong desires of the most vulnerable people in society - giving them false hopes,” says Robin Lovell-Badge, head of developmental genetics at the UK's National Institute for Medical Research. Other scientists argue that, even if cloning a person were possible, the risk of major birth defects is huge.
Zavos's claims have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Link Read the rest

Neuroscience of revenge

Researchers at the University of Zurich have shown that revenge is, well, sweet. Their experiment, described in Scientific American, was based on a game where one player was given the opportunity to punish another player for financially screwing him. PET scans revealed that when a player contemplated revenge, his striatum, a "reward center" in the brain, became energized.
This sort of causal relationship may explain why people are willing to discipline a stranger even when there is no immediate gain in it for them. "Emotions play a proactive as well as reactive role," remarks Brian Knutson of Stanford University who penned an accompanying commentary (to a paper about the study in the journal Science). He notes that "passionate" forces may need to be included in economic models because, as this research shows, “people show systematic deviations from rationality."
Link Read the rest

Web Zen: Zen of Death

streatham cemetary death masks blog of death celebrity death beeper dead or alive who's alive who's dead a strange ghost ready teddy death death clock Image: The death mask of English poet John Keats. web zen home, web zen store, (Thanks, Frank).

Update: Bonus round -- Tuscan deathblog from Bruce Sterling. Link Read the rest

Help name the 50 best sf films

John Scalzi (an amazing sf writer and the author of several great nonfic compendia of trivia) is doing a book on great sf films and he needs your help:
As some of you know, I'm currently writing The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film, which will be a general overview of the history of Science Fiction in films, with chapters on some various themes (science in science fiction, SF film icons, crossover subgenres, etc) and so on. The heart of the book, however, will be the Science Fiction Film Canon: The 50 classic Science Fiction films. In my own brain, I see this list as the list of the most significant science fiction films, as opposed to the "best" or the most financially successful. This gives me latitude to, say, include films that are influential on science fiction filmmakers, but not necessarily the audience (or, vice versa, as the case may be).

(You rightly ask: And why do I get to choose the Science Fiction Film Canon? Well, because someone paid me to, basically. But also, I'm both a professional film critic of more than a dozen years standing, and I'm also a professional science fiction writer. If someone's going to compile this list, it might as well be me.)

I of course already have a preliminary list of 50 films ready to go. BUT! Even with my rather extensive knowledge of science fiction, film and science fiction films, I am more than willing to entertain the notion that my list has gaps: Films that should be on the list may not be there -- films that I have on the list may not deserve to be there.

Read the rest

Keyboard with 512k of memory, 700h battery life

The AlphaSmart Neo is a full-sized keyboard with a little LCD screen on the top. It acts as a word-processor, letting you type into its 512k cache while it draws power from 3 AA batteries. When you get back to your Mac or PC, you just dump the text over USB or IR. The thing runs for 700 hours on a 3 AA batts and costs $250, and weighs about 2 lbs.

My only complaint about this thing is the storage: 512k? I know that's a whole novel and then some, but geez, flash-RAM is so cheap now -- why not just give it a SD slot and I could use an old 64MB card from my last camera? Link (via Engadget)

Update: Chris Taylor points out that AlphaSmart has a model that supports memory cards -- and it comes with WiFi and PalmOS. Read the rest

Cory's DRM talk in Finnish

Herkko Hietanen, Tero Tilus, Antti Vähä-Sipilä and Kuisma Lappalainen from EF Finland have translated my Microsoft DRM talk into Finnish, bringing the total number of translations up to 10 (with two more that I know of underway). Freaking cool. Link Read the rest

Free protest tune download from J. Boogie's Dubtronic Science

Om Records of San Francisco is offering up this dub-techno-protest soundtrack as a free download. Link to info and download for J. Boogie's Dubtronic Science "You're the Murdera." Read the rest

US Secret Service "harassing" indymedia over RNC delegate data release?

The Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation and is demanding records related to an post which expressed anti-RNC sentiment and listed the names of some 2,200 individual RNC delegates. More on indymedia's site here, and here's a snip from a related ACLU press release:
In a letter sent today in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by the Secret Service, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union said they are representing a web hosting service and administrators of an independent media website regarding the anonymous posting of publicly available information about delegates to the Republican National Convention. The groups said the investigation is but the latest example of government agencies using law enforcement powers to chill free speech and intimidate protesters. (...) Beeson added that the posting did not include anything remotely threatening, but involved political speech fully protected by the First Amendment.
Link to Declan McCullagh's politech law-tech resource, where this news item was first spotted. Link to Washington Post story, Link to CNN's, Link to NYT story.

Update: Micah of Indymedia says, "I'm one of the four system administrators for indymedia that is involved in this... The wonderful ISP we have -- who protects its client's privacy and rights without caving -- Calyx, was forced to turn over any contact information they had for Indymedia... turns out they only have our email addresses, so I expect an email from the SS (Secret Service, not Sicherheitsdienst) any day now. Read the rest

Valenti's magical DRM thinking debunked

Ed Felten picks apart Jack Valenti's Engadget interview (in which Valenti compares himself to JFK: "I was in Dallas in the motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963, and I saw that day a brave young president murdered, and a new president take over. The president is dead, long live the president, the nation goes on. No one is indispensable, I learned that day in Dallas. My successor will come into this job and he won't be me, but he might do a hell of a lot better job than I'm doing.")
It may be possible to so infect a movie with some kind of circuitry that allows people to copy to their heart's content, but the copied result would come out with decayed fidelity with respect to sound and color. Another would be to have some kind of design in a movie that would say, 'copy never,' 'copy once.'
Even ignoring the technical non sequiturs ("stuff ... algorithms into a movie"; "infect a movie with ... circuitry"), this is wildly implausible. Nothing has happened to make the technical prospects for DRM (anti-copying) technology any less bleak. We can only hope Valenti's successor stops believing in "technological magic" and instead teaches the industry to accept technical reality. File sharing cannot be wished away. The industry needs to figure out how to deal with it.
Link Read the rest

Victoria's Secret Disney jammies

Victoria's Secret has released a line of saucy Disney sleepwear. Link (via The Disney Blog) Read the rest

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