Boing Boing 

Cory's Little Brother reading

I've just podcasted a reading from my forthcoming young adult novel, "Little Brother," about San Francisco hacker kids who fight back against the Department of Homeland Security. Tor will publish it in May, 2008.

I really went to town on the samples and mixing in this one, hauling out Audacity, the free/open sound-editing program, and grabbing a boatload of samples from the Freesound project, and a little punk guitar from the Anchormen, a great Boston act.

As soon as we sat down, she unrolled her burrito and took a little bottle out of her purse. It was a little stainless-steel aerosol canister that looked for all the world like a pepper-spray self-defense unit. She aimed it at her burrito's exposed guts and misted them with a fine red oily spray. I caught a whiff of it and my throat closed and my eyes watered.

"What the hell are you doing to that poor, defenseless burrito?"

She gave me a wicked smile. "I'm a spicy food addict," she said. "This is capsaicin oil in a mister."

"Capsaicin --"

"Yeah, the stuff in pepper spray. This is like pepper spray but slightly more dilute. And way more delicious. Think of it as Spicy Cajun Visine if it helps."

My eyes burned just thinking of it.

"You're kidding," I said. "You are so not going to eat that."

Her eyebrows shot up. "That sounds like a challenge, sonny. You just watch me."

She rolled the burrito up as carefully as a stoner rolling up a joint, tucking the ends in, then re-wrapping it in tinfoil. She peeled off one end and brought it up to her mouth, poised with it just before her lips.

Link, Link to podcast feed

Coachella: Björk's wild sound machines, and report from the turf

(Photos, top image and first two in post, by eecue of, cc-licensed).

I'm at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival in Indio, California this weekend.

More around the web: Flickr "coachella" tagged photos, technorati, LA Times coverage, band lineup, Wikipedia entry.

I haven't been out here in a couple years. The event seems much larger now. The desert town where this takes place only has a population of about 70,000, but they're expecting another 60 - 70,000 200,000 to show up for the event this weekend. Profit estimates I'm hearing for the event's organizers are around $50 million.

I'm crashing on an airconditioned couch in my friend Wayne Correia's world-famous, geek-pimped, beWiFi'd bus on the event grounds. He has a better satellite 'net connection on this thing than my broadband in urban LA.

I'm listening to a low-power FM pirate radio station here at the event site: "Renegade Radio," at 103.3 FM if you're nearby. Paynie put the tracks together.

It's 108° F. outside, according to the gauge on Wayne's bus. When I drove in yesterday afternoon, there were mobile sprinklers all over the place to keep dust down. RVs, tour buses, and tent encampments stretch out as far as I can see in either direction right now.

More than 120 bands are on the lineup this year, and lots of robots, flamey stuff, and software-driven art installations, some of which might look familiar from Burning Man.

Coolest thing that isn't a band so far is the fully functional, but stationary, steam engine. Coal and everything. I'll try to upload video later (or post links to someone else's), but here's a still photo from eecue below.

(At left, Coachella Tesla Coil photo from Flickr user omarr, cc-licensed).

We wandered around from stage to stage Friday night. Interpol, Peaches, Charles Feelgood, Marques Wyatt, Jarvis Cocker, Amy Winehouse, and Sonic Youth all played, among others.

The biggest draw last night seemed to be Björk, performing material from her new album, Volta. The set was great, but what made really my jaw drop (and those of the two nerd pals I was with) was the Mac-based hardware and software system used in her set for live sound manipulation.

Flat video displays flanked the stage, and the camera lingered on closeups of that equipment inbetween shots of Björk, her horn and chorus ensemble, and the live drummer. My friends and I squinted when close-up shots of the gear came up, then googled the brand names we saw on our phones, to figure out what the components were. Here's what we found.

First: JazzMutant's multitouch control surface for live performance called Lemur, built in Bordeaux, France. Snip from manufacturer's description:

At first glance, the Lemur looks like a high-fashion etch-a-sketch. As a performance interface, the Lemur is immediately appealing. You touch colorful rounded interface objects on the 12" LCD display to control your computer in any way you can imagine. The Lemur's elegant simplicity is made possible by its sophisticated graphics processor and proprietary touchscreen interface that tracks multiple fingers simultaneously.

Using the JazzEditor application running on your choice of Mac or Windows, you drag and drop switches, faders, and other objects into an exact simulation of the Lemur's screen. Make any number of interfaces, store them in an XML-based project file, then upload them to the Lemur and it's ready to go. You can reuse them with the Import/Export feature.

The other electronic music instrument that made us drool in in Björk's show was the reactable (think: react + table), which boasts a "tangible user interface." Image below.

I'm seeing reports online that she/they used it for the first time in their show earlier this week, during the SNL performance (Video Link).

The reactable was developed over the last few years by a team led by Sergi Jordà, Martin Kaltenbrunner, Günter Geiger, and Marcos Alonso in Pompeu Fabra University's Music Technology Group, in Barcelona, Spain. Snip from description:

reactable is a multi-user electronic music instrument with a tabletop tangible user interface. Several simultaneous performers share complete control over the instrument by moving physical objects on a luminous table surface. By moving and relating these objects, representing components of a classic modular synthesizer, users can create complex and dynamic sonic topologies, with generators, filters and modulators, in a kind of tangible modular synthesizer or graspable flow-controlled programming language.
(Photo of baby on reactable: diemo schwarz).

Videos of the reactable in action: 1, 2, 3 (or on google video: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Electronic music godfather Robert Moog playing an early prototype of the reactable at the NIME conference 2004 in Hamamatsu, Japan. Here's a Video Link.

More about the Björk show from bandmate Jónas Sen's Volta tour blog: Link. Excerpt:

I must confess I felt I was about to faint when we walked on stage. Such an enormous audience! Almost the entire population of Reykjavik.

(...) We have “ear monitors” with a metronomic click sounding in our ears to keep the band’s playing together, plus everything else we need to hear. In some songs I want to hear as little from the drums as possible (even though Chris’ playing is damn good!). In other songs I want to hear the drums clearly but less of the brass. This is so unreal… yet amazing that it is possible.

(Björk photo from Friday night's Coachella set by Flickr user mediaeater, cc-licensed, more here.)

Big ups to all the BoingBoing readers out here! It's been great meeting so many fellow happy mutants here at Coachella. Thanks for saying hello. <throws internet freak sign>.

(Thanks, Wayne Correia!)

  • Update: eecue has more photos up: 1, 2.

  • Update 2: Best botched press coverage so far surrounds a police raid at a Mexican Mafia meth lab yesterday in the Coachella Valley. Again, the Coachella Valley, but not *at* the Coachella Festival site itself. During the raid, officers found 50 guns, live pipe bombs, tonza tina, tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and evidence linking the activity to "La Eme." But an Austrian publication misreports that the bust took place on-site at the festival, while Björk and Sonic Youth played: Link. There have been minor drug arrests at the festival, 25 of them according to Indio police as of mid-day Saturday, but far more low-profile than the big bust referenced above.

  • Reader comment: Kasey says,
    Saw that you have a photo of the coils that Syd Klinge built and took out to Coachella. It'd be awesome if you could throw his name in there. I don't have more details on the coils, but I believe they're the largest dueling coils ever run. Here's his site: Link.
    Update: Here's more video of the Reactable device used in the Bjork show: Link (thanks, Nicholas Mir Chaikin!)
  • Stumbling on Happiness: why we suck at being happy

    Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness is one of those pop-science books that delivers a serious a-ha punch at least once a chapter, a little insight into the way that the world works that stops you right where you are and makes you go back and reevaluate how you got there.

    Gilbert is a Harvard Psych prof, and in this book, he doesn't seek to explain how to be happy -- in fact, the introduction specifically disclaims this intention -- but rather, how happiness happens. And why happiness is so elusive.

    Happiness is certainly elusive. How many times have we chased some goal, some purchase, some strategy, sure that we needed it to be complete, only to discover later that we're no happier than we were when the whole steeplechase started? This is the crux of Gilbert's thesis: why are we so consistently bad at estimating how happy some course of action will make us?

    For Gilbert, the answer lies in our faulty perceptions. We misremember how happy we've been in the past, we mispredict how happy we'll be in the future (his section on futurism should be mandatory reading for every science fiction writer and tech journalist). Citing study after study, Gilbert lays out the lucid and funny case for the idea that our brains aren't very good at measuring what's going on in our brains.

    Gilbert's funny, conversational style reminds me of Freakonomics, as does his subject-matter. For happiness is at the core of more than psychology -- it's also at the heart of justice, economics, political science, ethics, and many other key organizing disciplines that set the Earth in motion. This was the kind of book that made me reexamine more than my life's goals -- it made me re-think my politics and economic activity, too.

    I listened to an unabridged edition read by the author, and it was very fine. Gilbert has the timing of a stand-up comic, and the book itself is just so funny to begin with. Highly recommended.

    Link to book, Link to audiobook

    Update: Louis sends in this video of the author speaking at the TED Conference

    Coke skin-cream

    Coca-Cola has teamed up with L'Oreal to make a skin cream neutraceutical beverage. Nice -- working both sides of the street. First they ruin your skin and health with toxic sludge, then they sell you medicated mayonnaise to make it all better again. Link

    Update: Meg sez, "Coke's not making a skin cream, it is a 'nutraceutical' beverage to be called Lumae. They want to sell it at places like Saks apparently. "

    Disneyland Paris's four best rides as simulators

    TheMagical has created ride-simulators for four of the best rides at Disneyland Paris. These aren't 3D ride-throughs -- they're simulators for the control-systems for the rides! You are the god of the ride, in charge of opening the doors to different load-systems, dispatching maintenance personnel, and operating the lights and so forth. The sims are brilliantly done -- there's one for the Phantom Manor (Haunted Mansion), Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain. It's like playing Lemmings, but with little theme-park guests impatiently milling around, waiting for you to scare the pants off of them.

    I love this approach to simulating Disney rides. It's clearly aimed at those of us who, like me, are more fascinated with the ride's artistry than its thrills, the melding of artistry and engineering in the service of fun. My dream has always been to work at the Haunted Mansion (I even wrote a novel about it) and this was totally hypnotic as a result. I could have played it for days. I probably will. Link (Thanks, Metavisual!)

    Economist slams DRM

    The Economist has come out against DRM in a tell-it-like-it-is editorial that explains why anti-copying technology is bad for the entertainment industry.
    The movie industry, which nowadays depends as much on DVD sales as on box-office receipts, still seems to think that making life difficult for its customers is a recipe for success.

    After likewise shooting itself in the foot for ages, the record industry is now falling over itself to abandon DRM (digital rights management) on CDs. A number of online music stores such as eMusic, Audio Lunchbox and Anthology have given up using DRM altogether. In a recent survey by Jupiter Research, two out of three music industry executives in Europe reckoned that dropping DRM would improve sales.

    The editorial goes on to promote AudibleMagic's "audio fingerprinting" scheme as an answer, citing YouTube's proposal to use software to catch infringe ing user-generated content. This idea isn't totally bankrupt (though swallowing the self-interested claims of firms like AudibleMagic is pretty credulous of the Economist), but only if the technology is used to figure out how to pay artists -- not to stop music from flowing on the Internet.

    A blanket licensing scheme -- you pay a collecting society, they pay artists, you get the right to file-share using any protocol, file-format and software -- needs a bunch of ways to figure out who gets paid what. There are a lot of ways to measure the popularity of music online, including audio fingerprinting, Neilsen-style sample families, and anonymous monitoring of P2P networks. Some weighting scheme agreed upon by all the stakeholders could ensure that artists get paid when their music gets shared.

    But systems like AudibleMagic are no good when it comes to enforcing a ban on file-sharing. These systems can't detect all infringement, can't tell the difference between infringement and fair use, and sometimes block non-infringing works.

    In other words, audio fingerprinting is useful as part of a system to allow file-sharing, but useless as part of a system to stop file-sharing. Link (Thanks, John!)

    Slashdot: the flowchart

    Wellington Grey's latest flowchart shows the process by which Slashdot readers post to the site -- so utterly true! Link

    See also: Science and faith: two flowcharts

    Turn WordPress blogs into Commodore 64s

    Rod McFarland's "Commodore" theme for WordPress turns your blog into a command-line driven Commodore 64 interface. It's endlessly fascinating and deliciously pointless. Link (Thanks, Rod!)

    Update: James sez "I really enjoyed the C64 theme. Here's another done Unix style."

    Barenaked Ladies want a compulsory P2P music license

    Barenaked Ladies frontman Steve Page gave an eloquent interview to Ars Technica about "compulsory licenses" -- a license fee that you and I could pay to get the right to download all the music we want. The idea is to compel the music industry to sell its wares over P2P, the way that the music-listening public wants it (70 million filesharers in the US alone!). Blanket licenses already enable jukeboxes, records, radio, and live performance -- it's just poor individual music-lovers who don't get a blanket license deal from the industry.
    "Not everyone's an artist," Page says, "but people can now express themselves like artists do, by sharing something that means something to them. If we had a system of compulsory licenses, they don't have to worry about going and getting a license to do it, or circumventing the system."
    Link (via Copyfight)

    ReMake: Bay Area electronics recycling event starts tomorrow!

    This weekend, MAKE: and the Alameda County Computer Resource Center (ACCRC) in Berkeley, California are holding a 24 hour event for makers to build stuff from the tons of fantastic gear collected by the electronics recycler. BYOT! (Bring your own tools!) Here are the details:
     Dsc01581.800 ACCRC in Berkeley, CA and Make have been collecting household electronics--including old projects, failed inventions, half finished prototypes. All of these items will be diverted to ReMake, a 24-hour event beginning at noon on Saturday, April 28.

    Come find parts for your new projects and work with others to create something new from salvaged electronics. ACCRC will provide internet, sleeping quarters, food, and plenty of toys to aid makers to encourage us to recycle and ReMake. Bring your tools and anything else needed to create. You can also bring anything you ReMake to the upcoming Maker Faire, May 19-20 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, where we will showcase how a little innovation can make the old, new again.

    Where: Alameda County Computer Resource Center (ACCRC), 1501 East Shore Highway, Berkeley, CA 94710

    When: Noon, April 28, 2007 - Noon, April 29, 2007

    Manga aisle hoboes?

    edu says:
    200704272128 I apologize in advance if this somehow exemplifies my ignorance: Is there a name for the people who sit on the floor of the graphic novels aisle in bookstores (who invariably read manga)? I tried "manga hobos" but it doesn't sit right. I don't mean to criticize: those books can be pricey. But they're always in the way!
    If you have a better name for these folks, post a comment in edu's Flickr site: Link

    Unusable watch wrapped in leather

    I find something strangely appealing about designer Vlaemsch's "Internal Watch," a timepiece entirely encased in leather so as to render it completely non-functional. It's $275 from Vivre. Link

    Playing cards illustrated with Nixon and the gang

     Photos Politicard
    Dig these 1971 "Politicards," playing cards illustrated with the politicos of the day, up for auction on eBay. From the item description:
    These POLITICARDS are dated 1971 and were made during the height of Richard Nixon's presidency. Each of the 54 different playing cards is a different character of the era. There are members of the Kennedy family, Agnew, Jane Fonda - 'political activist', Ralph Nader, Buckley, Goldwater, Ford, Eisenhower, Reagan, Martha Mitchell, Strom Thurmond, McGovern, Proxmire, Tunney, Maddox, Richard Daley, George Wallace and other politicos and fringe celebs of the day. Of course, Nixon is King. Deck is still sealed (using photos of our own personal deck). After you chuckle at the humorously-illustrated cards, you can actually play with them.
    Link (Thanks, Michael-Anne Rauback!)

    Johhny Ryan's Klassic Komix Klub #2 on sale

    Cartoonist Johnny Ryan made swell use of his college degree in literature in creating this highly offensive, scatological, profanity-infested comic book that lampoons classic novels. It's hilarious.
    Klub2 1 Klub2 2
    Klassic Komix Klub #2—the spanking-new sequel to Klassic Komix Klub #1, published in Winter 2006—is a limited edition comic recently self-published by Johnny. KKK #2 collects 24 highly scatological, not-for-the-squeamish classic literature parody strips into one gorgeous package, wrapped up in a display-worthy three-color letterpress printed (on fancy paper with yellow-gold metallic ink) wraparound cover produced by Buenaventura Press. (One sample colorway is represented above, we'll have detailed photos for you soon!) Only 200 copies were produced and we have limited quantities available. Each copy is signed and numbered. Various inks and papers were used, the pic above shows samples of what you might receive. Please note that Johnny's last few parody books sold out extremely fast; also these are not available in stores. Only $10.

    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Johnny Ryan in Mad
    "What're You Lookin' At?!" anthology
    Johnny Ryan's Klassic Komix Klub
    Johnny Ryan's Comic Book Holocaust
    Johnny Ryan's Comic Book Holocaust 2

    Satan responsible for illegal immigration, says Utah delegate

    Amid says: "Utah Republican Don Larsen believes that illegal immigration to the US is a Satanic plot and has submitted an anti-Satan resolution to be discussed at this weekend's Utah County Republican Convention."
    "In order for Satan to establish his 'New World Order' and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.," his resolution states. "The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nations the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness."


    Satan has popped up in Utah County politics before. Last year, failed congressional candidate John Jacob of Eagle Mountain blamed the devil for his flagging campaign.

    Link. Another article here

    AOL's beta site looks like Yahoo

    Picture 10-2 Picture 9-7
    (Click on thumbnails for enlargement)

    AOL's new beta site looks just a teensy bit like Yahoo's home page, wouldn't you say? (Thanks, Patrick!)

    Steampunk guitar

    Dakota sez, "Built by Thunder Eagle Customs (my Dad), this friggin thing is awesome. He's putting it up for sale on eBay this sunday under the name 'Steampunk Guitar - Villanizer'. I've bugged him to keep it, but I know he'll build me one -- he keeps muttering about bills to pay. Who cares about bills when you got a guitar this wicked?"

    After cutting, a spacer was cut and installed to join the two pieces of the body. Knowing damned well that wouldnt be a strong enough of a join for just about any player, the steampunk look hit me, and I went on to installing the copper pipe, and soldering the joints. You just cant have steam power without a gauge, so I cannibalized an old oil gauge and made a custom face in it with my name and a real complex readout.

    Gears. Man I hacked more gears together then I knew what to do with, and inlaid them into a cut plexi frame that was then screwed into the body. Under the gears is a carbon fiber layer which really sets them off. By the way, one of the gears in the lower end is a Matrix headplug vast from one of the original plugs used in the film. What the hell, it had the look.

    Link (Thanks, Dakota!)

    See also:
    Spring-loaded steampunk spex
    Steampunk magazine
    Steampunk Star Wars
    Steampunk watch
    Beautiful steampunk laptop
    HOWTO make a steampunk keyboard
    HOWTO make etched brass steampunk journals
    HOWTO make a steampunk spinning-wheel
    Steampunk walking robot
    Steampunk cartoon from SciFi channel: Amazing Screw-On Head
    Homebrew mechanical steampunk lion from Belgium
    Steampunk robotics
    Steampunk weekly serial - handsome editions
    Steampunk rayguns
    Steampunk Transformer-bots
    Ukrainian steampunk plane
    Steampunk casemod with a "furnace"
    Steampunk submarine free paper toy
    Steampunk/dead media photoshopping contest
    Brighton's steampunk rolling sea-platform
    Steampunk Slashdot
    Steampunk mecha-wars
    Steampunk car-wars
    New York's steampunk pneumatic subway

    $20 for a monster drawing by mail

    200704271501Len is one of the artists who participated in the 700 Hoboes Project. He's got a website called Monster By Mail. For $20, he'll create a color drawing of any fictional movie monster you make up. For an additional $10, he'll include a time-lapse video of the drawing from start to finish. It's a bargain! Link

    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Videos of hoboes being drawn by Ape Lad
    Ape Lad draws Jackhammer Jill as a hobo

    Write an essay in Illinois, go to jail

    In Cary, Illinois, it is apparently a criminal offense for a high school student to write an essay that "alarms and disturbs" the teacher.

    Dion says: "A straight A student is arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct (and removed from the school) for writing an essay that mimics the content of violent video games, in the context of a creative writing class assignment. While some concern about the content is well-understandable, and some investigation appropriate, the reflex to criminalize represents a view that sees adolescents and young adult expression as a dangerous series of risk factors that increasingly require arrest and preventive detention."

    "I understand what happened recently at Virginia Tech," said the teen's father, Albert Lee, referring to last week's massacre of 32 students by gunman Seung-Hui Cho. "I understand the situation."

    But he added: "I don't see how somebody can get charged by writing in their homework. The teacher asked them to express themselves, and he followed instructions."

    Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.


    Update: Here's the essay that got Lee arrested.

    More favorite podcasts

    Over on Scouta -- a new service that figures out the kind of media you like and serves up more of the same to you -- I wrote about five podcasts I really enjoy.


    PopSci Podcasts

    Jonathan Coulton, the wonderfully talented geek guitar troubadour, hosts this weekly podcast from his bunker on the moon, phoning in for interviews with people profiled in Popular Science magazine. He's talked to an electric car manufacturer, visionary roboticists, and a scientist who swaps genes around in fruit flies to make the boy flies fight like girl flies and vice versa.


    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Five favorite podcasts
    Subscribe to the Boing Boing Boing podcast
    Subscribe to Boing Boing Boing on iTunes
    Boing Boing Boing archives
    Subscribe to the Get Illuminated podcast
    Subscribe to Get Illuminated on iTunes
    Get Illuminated archives
    Boing Boing's 60 most recent videos
    9 great old punk videos
    7 punk and post-punk female singer videos

    The Rats of Spring: "Evil Hamsters," a child's poem

    Here's an illustrated poem about death-hamsters, attributed to an 8-year-old boy in Georgia named Shecky. Link, and don't miss the secret message. (Thanks, LLA)

    Evil hamsters are almost as "terrizing" as the LOLGAY gebrils: Link.

    Home Inspection Nightmares photo gallery, Vol. 5

    Why, oh why, do I love looking at This Old House's " " photo galleries? The answer is simple -- it makes be feel better for doing such a slipshod job of repair and maintenance on my own house.
    200704271030 Nothing feels better than a good shocking shower before going for a swim. A showerhead placed directly over an electrical junction box does the trick.

    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Sex-in-Russia article on This Old House site
    Photos of bad and dangerous home improvement hacks

    Attaboy's Too Many Robots! pilot

    TmrpromosmonesheetAttaboy, who co-produces the terrific art magazine, Hi-Fructose, has directed his first animated cartoon. It's a delightful five-minute pilot for the Disney Channel called "Too Many Robots!"

    Atta sez: "Animated by Ghostbot!, featuring music by the awesome Mike Relm and the lead is voiced by Kelly Stables (the Ring 2+3)." Link

    Previously on Boing Boing:
    Attaboy's Fuzzy Axtrx
    Attaboy's new book of postcards
    Preview of new issue of Hi-Fructose
    Hi-Fructose volume 3

    Maker Faire previews from April 23-27

     Images Proto Mg 0249 Sm
    As we continue to ramp up for the MAKE: Bay Area Maker Faire at the San Matero Fairgrounds on May 19 and 20, here are this week's previews of people and projects participating in the extravaganza. From the MAKE: Blog (photo by Steve Double):
    • The Crucible Link
    • The Art of Motion Control Link
    • The King of Fling contest Link
    • Makers @Maker Faire Link
    • X1 electric car does 0-100 mph in 6.8 seconds Link
    • Tom Zimmerman and his DIY videoscope for backyard biology Link
    Link to purchase advance tickets for the Maker Faire

    Previously on BB:
    • Maker Faire previews from April 16-20 Link
    • Maker Faire previews from April 9-13 Link

    Behold the Stalinmobile

    200704271001 What's not to love about a Russian car decorated to pay homage to one of history's bloodiest dictators? Link

    Beautiful Russian cake-sculptures

    Zhanna, a cake-shop in St. Petersburg, Russia, creates incredible sculptural cakes in the form of government documents, newspapers with herring on them, card-tables, casino games, maps, eye charts, skyscrapers, tennis shoes... Link (Thanks, Anonymous person!)

    Stephen Hawking, Zero G

    Hawkingnewton BB pal Vann Hall comments that this photo of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking enjoying a gravity-free moment yesterday is rather Dali-esque. The apple is in honor of Isaac Newton. Click image for the full picture, credited to Steve Baxall.

     Cms Dokumente 10241944 7775299 Bd4F243A Dali-Atomicus Gr UPDATE: Vann points out the striking surreal similarities between the Hawking photo and "Dali Atomicus" (1949).

    Guatemala: "tattooed terrorist" Antichrist denied entry

    It's hard to imagine a country more traditional, and more religious, than Guatemala. For that reason, news that the country is denying entry to a cult leader who tattooes "666" on his arm, calls himself The Antichrist, and whose (alleged) 2 million followers describe him as a living deity -- it's pretty far out.

    Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (Wikipedia link) is the head of the Florida-based Growing in Grace church. He runs a 24-hour Spanish-language television network, and hosts a radio program broadcast on 287 stations.

    Thumbnail at left (Alexandre Meneghini, AP) (link to full-size): A follower of Miranda holds a baby with "SSS" painted on her head. The letters stand for Miranda's motto, "salvo, siempre salvo," or "saved, always saved."

    This week, Miranda tried to fly on his private jet to Guatemala, where he apparently has a big following, to celebrate his 61st birthday.

    But Guatemalan officials flagged him as a terrorist, and say he's a security risk because he provokes conflict with Roman Catholics and evangelicals.

    Snip from an AP story:

    He often takes aim at the Catholic Church – the most powerful faith in Latin America – calling all priests child molesters and saying chastity vows go against the Bible's teachings. Members of his church have torn up images of saints and other religious symbols in El Salvador, and marched in Guatemala and Honduras.

    He preaches that sin and the devil do not exist. In January, he revealed tattoos of the numbers 666 on his forearms and declared that he and his followers were Antichrists because their beliefs supersede those of Jesus Christ. The Bible describes the Antichrist as someone who will fill the world with wickedness but be conquered by a second coming of Christ.

    Despite the Guatemalan government's security block, his supporters say...

    "It has been predestined, and angels will make it happen," said Axel Poessy, Miranda's media director. "He is, after all, God himself."
    Link to that AP story. Well, that didn't work out. Miranda was indeed denied entry to Guatemala. Miranda spun the story of the nixed visit as his choice:
    He had vowed to defy the ban but canceled Saturday and will instead address the gathering in a video teleconference, said the sect's head pastor in Guatemala, Jorge Batres. "We're a church respectful of the law and we will have to wait until the judge gives us an injunction," Batres said.

    Batres said De Jesus Miranda's Guatemalan followers will "firmly fight within the law so that he can come and let the world know that Jesus the Man is in Guatemala."


    No surprise here, but the church's website appears to be a very important part of their "Antichrist ministry" outreach program.

    The most interesting parts of the site, to me, are these videos of children proclaiming themselves part of a "Super Race" of Miranda followers, and this photo gallery documenting "Day of the Tattoo," where followers of de Miranda all got tattoos of "666" and "SSS" ("salvo, siempre salvo") on their bodies to proclaim their faith.

    Previously on BoingBoing:

  • Xeni's NPR series "Guatemala: Unearthing the Future"
  • Xeni's notes from the road in Guatemala
  • Mayan priests to "purge" Iximche after Bush's visit
  • Guatemala: Photos from indigenous protest of Bush visit
  • More BB posts about Guatemala

    (via Warren Ellis)

    Reader comment: attorney Elizabeth Camp from the University of Texas says,

    Miranda moved his church and his headquarters to Houston some time ago: Link. Then he announced he is the Antichrist.
  • Mark Shuttleworth explains Ubuntu's business-model

    In a new interview with the OpenBusiness project, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth explains the Ubuntu business-model. Shuttleworth is a wealthy entrepreneur who started Ubuntu -- which gives away a free, high-quality version of Linux. He makes money from the "ecosystem" of services surrounding Ubuntu. Link (Thanks, Christian!)

    Cory speaking at LA Times Festival of Books this Sunday

    I'm headed to the LA Times Festival of Books this Sunday, April 29 to appear on a science fiction panel with Kage Baker Harry Turtledove and John Scalzi called "Science Fiction: The Road From Here to There." Hope to see you there! Link