Recordings of concert intermissions

"Favorite Intermissions: Music Before and Between Beethoven, Stravisnky, Holst" is a collection of the ambient intermission sounds--murmurs, coughs, tuning, musical warm-ups--before and after orchestral performances. John Cage would be proud. The compiler, sound artist Christopher DeLaurenti, bootlegged the recordings while attending concerts for seven years. This is his greatest hits from more than 50 recorded hours, presented in 3D binaural audio. John Cage would be proud. From the New York Times, where you can also hear selections from the CD:
“Every composer, every sound artist, every musician, poses a fundamental question to everyone else,” Mr. DeLaurenti said in an interview. “It’s a request to listen. I have faith that in any sound or collection of sounds, music lies therein. “It does sound crazy,” he continued. “Craziness is the root of many great musical ideas and the source for new ways of listening and considering the world around us..." Virtually all concert halls ban photography or recording, and contracts with musicians’ unions strictly govern what can be preserved, so Mr. DeLaurenti had to go under cover. He said he was never caught but occasionally drew suspicious looks from ushers. He honed a technique of often shifting his posture and moving around. “Most people are not observant and rarely look at one thing for longer than 10 seconds,” he said. He also showed unfailing courtesy when questioned. “People don’t want trouble,” he explained.
Link to New York Times, Link to purchase the disc(Thanks, Vann Hall!) Read the rest

Amazing mystery of the new AACS key leak

Today I had a remarkable conversation with an anonymous tipster who had a fascinating story to tell about the latest AACS key leak:
The world became a little more magical yesterday with the publication of a new "processing key" that can be used to unlock the AACS copy protection on the latest round of HD-DVD movies. This event is remarkable not only for its timing--barely a week after the release of the discs that the key was intended to secure--but also for the clever way in which the key first appeared on the net. Though this second part of the story hasn't received much attention, it deserves to go down in the annals of hacker lore.

The previous processing key, 09 F9 …, began circulating in February being discovered by a hacker named arnezami. With this 128-bit number, anyone could strip the encryption from every HD-DVD title on the market. The key was reposted on thousands of sites, and quickly made it to the front page of Digg. When Digg tried to censor the key in response to DMCA threats from the AACS authorities, users staged a revolt, reposting it in hundreds of creative ways. The movie studios switched to technological countermeasures, and, starting last week, all new HD-DVD titles were modified so that the key couldn't decrypt them. Hackers began furiously searching for a new key.

In the mean time, Ed Felten of Freedom-to-Tinker satirized the idea that someone could have legal rights to a number. He wrote a blog post, "You Can Own an Integer Too," that gives each reader his or her very own randomly generated 128-bit integer.

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Steampunk Magazine #2

The new issue of Steampunk Magazine (free download, $3 for hardcopy) is out -- tons of steampunk fiction, interviews, and crafts. I love the piece on the environmental impact of coal, and the history of Thomas Edison's animal-torture electrocution exhibitions. 84 pages in all! The fashion guide is great, too:
Explorers are, by definition “persons who investigate unknown regions”. Take a nod from this when dressing yourself, as well. Think tailored garments, but more military-influenced and less I- bought- this- at- the- suit- shop. Leather, silk, linen, tall boots, pith helmets, flying goggles – the list of explorer gear goes on. Try wearing mid-length skirts with the hems buckled up to reveal breeches or cotton bloomers. Billowing sleeves or bustled skirts with tight leather vests or corsets are a definite. Borrow Middle-Eastern and Indian flair from belly dance fashion or take a nod from pioneer garb. Wrap tons of leather belts about your waist and hips or use a piece of rope to tie up your pants or skirt. Ladies – search Ebay or vintage stores for old-fashioned medical cinchers with fan lacing. Gentlemen – tuck your trousers into the tops of your boots and hang a compass and pocketwatch from your belt or rock a kilt and sporran. Mod your own steampunk ray gun from a water pistol and some aerosol paint and wedge it into your belt or your stockings.
Link (via Warren Ellis)

See also Steampunk magazine Read the rest

US makes Korea eliminate fair use

Korea has just finished negotiating a free trade agreement with the US that is a complete disaster on copyright. Korea has agreed to give up all fair use to copyrighted works, and has agreed to shut down many of its web-hosting businesses. So much for Korea's power as a global Internet leader. It was nice while it lasted.
In one glaring example, the governments agree to shut down internet sites that permit unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or transmission of copyrighted works-- without reference to exceptions for art, education and critique. If the agreement is ratified, both US and Korean governments will begin shutting down an undisclosed number of peer-to-peer (P2P) and online storage (‘webhard’) services. Korea will also be required to crack down on book copying on university campuses.

The Korea-US FTA could set a dangerous precedent. If ratified, the US is expected to push other countries to accept the similar conditions in their respective FTAs. Much of the ‘piracy’ that the US wants to see cracked down on is of materials copyrighted by large US-based corporations, not individual creators. Since distribution of movies, news, internet software and images is a core area of the US economy, the US government has long been aggressively pushing for stricter copyright and patent regimes in international arenas, including through GATT and WIPO. The Korea-US FTA, represents a new step in this process.

Link (Thanks, Sasha!) Read the rest

New iTunes steals your ability to turn Apple music into iPod-friendly MP3s

If you're thinking of downgrading to the new iTunes, stop! The new iTunes breaks the ability to convert the music you've bought -- even "DRM-free" songs sold at a 30 percent premium -- into MP3s that will play on your iPod.
While cumbersome, the "buy-burn-rip-to-MP3" workaround has been the primary way to start with a 99 cent iTunes download and end up with an unrestricted MP3 that will play on your Squeezebox, your non-iPod portables, or your MP3-enabled DVD player (it's not about "piracy" -- if that was your bag, you'd have started by downloading the song as an MP3 from the myriad P2P options).

So iTunes users who have an existing library of songs purchased from the iTunes Store may want to consider doing their conversions before they "upgrade" to iTunes 7.2. (Sure, you can "upgrade" some of your DRMd songs to the "DRM-free" higher-quality AAC format for 30 cents each, but remember that this is not currently an option for the vast majority of iTunes tracks.)


Update: Playlist magazine has more on this: "After testing this further, it appears that this problem crops up only when you rip the CD with iTunes. I took the CD made up of protected tracks and ripped it with Amadeus Pro to MP3 format. I brought the resulting tracks into iTunes 7.2 and they transferred to the iPod without a problem."

Update 2: Some people have figured out how to get iTunes to load burned and ripped tracks by rebuilding their libraries. Read the rest

R.U. Sirius interviews B. Duke

The RU Sirius Show recently had a great show where he interviewed a writer/performer who evokes Hunter S. Thompson in a theater piece called "Gonzo: A Brutal Chrysalis." A text version of the interview has now been posted on 10 Zen Monkeys.
RU: Is this writing, basically, you trying to do the voice of Hunter S. Thompson? Are you incorporating his stuff? Is it all him? How does it work?

BD: I had originally intended to take certain passages from Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist and kind of knit them together. I quickly abandoned that. I knew it wasn't going to work. Also, we would run afoul of copyright issues with the estate and I don't really care for his widow. She's done several stupid things that I really detest. So I didn't want to pour more gasoline on that fire. And unlike Johnny Depp or Bill Murray, I didn't have the luxury of moving into Thompson's house and getting the Hunter experience.

So I did more research and it was the political stuff that he did that really caught my attention. And at that time, I live alone. So I had a great luxury of time to myself to do this. And I really kind of absorbed him through his letters, and went back and re-read things that I had read before, in the context of the letters, to get the complete effect. And I really allowed him to take me over.

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How to snoop online

I wrote an article for RADAR about 8 ways to use the Web to snoop on people. It's adapted from my upcoming book, Rule the Web: How To Do Anything and Everything on the Internet -- Better, Faster, Easier.
6. How can I find out what political party someone has donated to?

Federal law requires that people who contribute to political campaigns provide their personal information. The Federal Election Commission keeps this data, but its website isn't very easy to use. In fact, it's downright confusing.

That's where Fundrace comes in. Just select "Neighbor Search‚" and type in an address or a name and you'll be presented with a list of the names and addresses of political contributors from the last presidential election, along with how much they contributed.

The searches aren't limited to your neighborhood, of course. I entered "Barbara Bush" in the search field and learned that she contributed $2,000 to the George W. Bush campaign. I clicked on Mrs. Bush's address (10000 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77024), which brought up a list of everyone else in the same area that contributed. Lo and behold, a gentleman named Mr. George H. W. Bush at the same address also donated $2,000 to the George W. Bush campaign.

Beyond satisfying your curiosity about your neighbors' political affiliation, you can use Fundrace to organize a block party to raise funds for your party or favorite presidential candidate.

Link Read the rest

Stupendous line at Heathrow Airport

Check out this video of an insanely long queue at London's Heathrow Terminal 4. The YouTube user who posted it says it took him 3.5 hours to clear it. This is a line to pass through the security checkpoint while changing flights in London. I feel safer already. Link (Thanks, Mark!) Read the rest

Did UPA ruin cartoons?

Stephen Worth says:
At John Kricfalusi's blog, All Kinds of Stuff, a recent series of posts on the negative impact of UPA's stylized cartoons on animation has ignited a firestorm of controversy over a graphic revolution in cartoons that occurred over half a century ago.

John K argues that many of the fundamental principles of good animated filmmaking were totally dispensed with at UPA -- design and layout were emphasized at the expense of character animation, timing and entertainment value. He argues convincingly that the cartoons of UPA (Gerald McBoing Boing, Unicorn in the Garden, Mr. Magoo, etc.) were responsible for the downfall of animation.

As a sidebar to John K's posts on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive blog, I posted a Quicktime of a cartoon that is both stylized AND expressively animated -- a KoolAid commercial from the late fifties directed by the King of Cartoons, Tex Avery.

New York animator, Michael Sporn reacted angrily to these posts on his own "Splog," incensed that UPA's legacy was being besmirched and furious that the artistic accomplishments of UPA were being compared unfavorably to kiddie commercials with none of the artistic aspirations of UPA's own films: Splog: Aaargh!

Amid Amidi, author of "Cartoon Modern", a book on modern design in animation, entered the fray and launched a volley of his own- first in the comments on Sporn's post and then on his own blog: Cartoon Brew: The Great UPA Debate.

The comments from the readers on all of these posts are just as interesting as the posts themselves, with impassioned arguments on both sides of the fence from cartoon fans, animation historians and top industry professionals.

Read the rest

Father and daughter bonding through comics

In his charming essay in the Austin Chronicle, Wayne Alan Brenner writes about how he introduced the Fantastic Four to his daughter and how his daughter introduced Naruto to him.
By the time I'd finished the third volume, I was hooked. The characters, a group of young adolescents trying to survive the rigors of their renowned village's ninja academy, were so wonderfully fleshed out by mangaka Musashi Kishimoto – in the writing and the drawing. These weren't stock characters with a few choice quirks added for identification's sake. These were kids – Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Rock Lee, Ino, Shikamaru, et al. – with complex backstories informing their decisions, with choices made based on hard-won personal knowledge and social machinations going back generations. Here were astonishing skills and martial techniques that weren't the result of gamma-ray mishap or genetic cataclysm but, instead, years of dedicated physical training and the study of ancient ways of controlling the body's natural energies. A slapdash junk load of mystical mumbo-jumbo requiring much suspension of disbelief, at times, yes; but compelling nonetheless.

And the drawing! The sharp delineation of the characters and their environment, the pacing, the rhythms of accelerated time arranged in strategic panels. The shorthand depiction of motion and speed and impact, the sheer cinematic direction of the battles fought, ink lines flying like shuriken against the masked background or the panel's stark white. Roll over, Jack Kirby, and tell Steve Ditko the news from Japan.

Link Read the rest

Google Maps zoom feature inspires neologism

BB reader John says,
Suggested addition of a new word into the language of the web. Screwgle, as in "My wife caught me leaving a strip club on Google Street View, I got screwgled!”
Previous BB posts: 1, 2, 3. Read the rest

Vending machine game for winning live lobsters

Nick says:
I've linked my some photos I loaded on flickr. On my recent backpacking trip through Asia, I came upon this claw game in Osaka, called sub Marine Catcher. For only 200 yen ($2) you can try your hand at winning a live lobster. I'm not really sure how you get the lobster home but there was a pile of newspaper nearby.

Reader comment:

Scott says:

Dick's Last Resort in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter has had one of these for years. If you ever ventured down to Comicon you would know that. It's a popular haunt for artists and fanboys alike.
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Billboard equates 9/11 with Iraq

Here's a billboard in Pennsylvania designed to stimulate the pleasure centers of people who think Saddam Hussein was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Link (Thanks, Josh!)

Reader comment:

A Boing Boing reader says:

This post reminded me of a painting in a similar naïve style, painted on plywood, that hung in the cafeteria in the US embassy -- formerly Saddam's Palace -- in Baghdad. It showed the Twin Towers, with a plane crashing into them, and the logos of both the NYPD and NYFD, and then Marine and Army logos and an inscription like, "They did not die in vain, we continue their fight." It was slapped on a wall of tilework and Koranic inscriptions.

Feel free to post this comment. Maybe someone who was in Baghdad has a picture. But since this was all work related, please do not print my name or identification.

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Hollow Earthers' favorite experiment analyzed

In 1901 a mining engineer named J.B. Watson was said to have dropped plumb bobs down two 4250 foot mine shafts spaced 3200 feet apart. His measurements indicated that the plumb lines were farther apart at the bottom than than they were at the top. In other words, they diverged as they descended. Common sense would tell you that the lines would converge as they descended, because the lines should point towards the center of the Earth.

For the last century, some people like to point to the Tamarack Mines experiment as proof that the Earth is hollow.

Donald E. Simanek, who writes for MAKE magazine about curious physics (here's his article about perpetual motion that appeared in Vol 9), has an excellent article on his website that recounts the history of the alleged experiment, and examines the different frequently-offered reasons why plumb lines might diverge like this. Link

Reader comment:

Charles says:

It's not just the Hollow Earthers who have a problem with the prevailing theories. Here is an article I posted a while ago people who thought the earth was flat, or perhaps wavy. There's 5,000 bucks in it if you can prove them wrong. Pity we didn't have satellite photos in 1931. Link
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Is this Nessie on video?

Gordon Holmes, a technician at Bradford University and Loch Ness Monster researcher, claims that he has caught Nessie on video. He was at the Loch ttempting to listen for Nessie using hydrophone equipment when he noticed something unusual moving in the water and grabbed his video camera. If you have a comment on the video, please post it to Cryptomundo at the link below. From the Yorkshire Post News:
(Holmes said:) "It wasn't a wave because it was going in the opposite direction to the waves that I could see and the top half of it seemed to be black. "My camcorder was on a black and white setting and it took me a while to find it again in the water, but I've got two-and-half-minutes of footage which I have shown to experts and they think it is definitely a living creature." Mr Holmes arranged for the footage to be played on a TV at a shop in Inverness and he has also shown it to biologist Adrian Shine and Dick Raynor, of the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre.
Link to Cryptomundo post, Link to YouTube video, Link to Yorkshire Post News UPDATE: Cryptomundo has posted stabilizations, including one at half-speed, of the video. Link Read the rest

Fisherman catches coelacanth

Fisherman Yustinus Lahama hooked this coelacanth off Sulawesi island, Indonesia. A favorite of cryptozoologists, the coelacanth was thought to have been extinct for 65 million years until one was found in 1938 off the coast of Africa. For most of the century, scientists believed that the coelacanth only lived in that region, but then in 1998 a different species of the fish was discovered near Indonesia. From National Geographic:
(This) four-foot (1.2-meter), 110-pound (50-kilogram) specimen lived for 17 hours in a quarantine pool, an "extraordinary" feat considering the cold, deep-sea habitat of the fish, marine biologist Lucky Lumingas of the local Sam Ratulangi University told the Associated Press. Lumingas plans to study the carcass.
Link Previously on BB: • Coelacanth in danger Link • Coelacanth caught on video Link • Video: Indonesian coelacanth Link Read the rest

Battle at Ham's Deep: Helm's Deep made with Muppet figures

Evil sez, "Silver Snail Comics, The Canadian Online Comic and Action Figure Store has published pictures of their bricks-and-mortar storefront art, a rendition of the battle at Helm's Deep, featuring Jim Henson's Muppets." Link (Thanks, Evil!) Read the rest

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