Boing Boing 

Trekker v Furry bowl-off pics

Yesterday, Atlanta's Midtown Bowl hosted the second annual Trekkers vs Furries bowl-off, and Keneke was there, taking pix and uploading them to Flickr. Did you get shots, too? Post a link in the comments. Link (Thanks, Keneke!)

Guerrilla librarians free the $86k Library of Congress copyright database

Carl sez, "A couple of weeks ago, we wrote to Marybeth Peters, the Register of U.S. Copyrights, to ask why the copyright database had a copyright, and why it cost $86,000. On Friday, the Library of Congress blogged the issue, and dismissed the whole thing as a 'blogospheric brouhaha.' Well, the Library of Commerce can diss our distinguished signatories all they want, but lucky thing is these are all public records, and we're making all 21 million of them available for download." Link (Thanks, Carl!)

Radiohead lets fans pick price for new album

Sweet fancy Moses this is awesome!* BB reader Daniel says,

Radiohead has just announced the details for their new album, In Rainbows.

They're only selling it through their website (at least for now), and for the digital download version, they're letting listeners pick their own price for the album - it's literally a donation-based product.

Obviously this is sparking confusion among many, but the only help the website provides are the words "It's up to you."

Link, album's out October 10. To recap: the box set (Glorious thick 12" vinyl! and "enhanced CD") is $80, but the downloads are name-your-own-price. Some readers are reporting that you get the downloads for free anyway if you buy the box set.

No details on the download file format. Does anyone out there know? DRM-free? MP3s? What bitrate, what quality?

I just bought my copy (download, though I'll probably go back and buy the boxed set, too). I got wonky html on the purchase confirmation screen indicating some code glurbles going on at the online store -- not sure if my transaction actually took. Perhaps the shop's overloaded right now, announcement just went live.

This is major, and it's such a slap in the record industry's face. An unsigned superband, treating loyal fans and customers like loyal fans and customers instead of thieves -- what a revolutionary concept.

In related news, the band is dismissing a hoax website that duped fans this weekend:

The site -- -- launched on Friday with a countdown timer due to reach zero on Saturday morning. It claimed it would be making a big announcement about the band. Fans speculated the "Creep" hitmakers were planning to reveal details about their next album. But a spokesperson for the band has called the Web site a "hoax" and "nothing to do with Radiohead."
Link to SF Gate blog post.

Update: More on the band's unusual indie sales approach in these news and blog reports: Green Plastic (fansite online since 1997) Billboard, Idolatr, FQMB.

But Bob Lefsetz, as usual, sums it up best:

It's not like Radiohead's living in a different world. But they're playing by a different rule book. One that says the money flows from the music, that people have to believe in you, that you've got to treat them right.

Shit, you can barely get a ticket to a Radiohead show. The venues aren't big and the demand is incredible. They're doing it all wrong, don't they see?? Well, obviously they don't.

This is big news. This says the major labels are fucked. Untrustworthy with a worthless business model. Radiohead doesn't seem to care if the music is free. Not that they believe it will be. Because believers will give you ALL THEIR MONEY!

This is the industry's worst nightmare. Superstar band, THE superstar band, forging ahead by its own wits. Proving that others can too. And they will.


SRL: update on injured crew member

Survival Research Laboratories crew member Todd Blair has been in a coma for days. He sustained critical brain injuries from a post-show accident in Amsterdam.

SRL founder Mark Pauline says:

Good news. Todd is with Alex and Amy and is responding to Alex's voice with hand pressure. Eyes open a bit. Resting again now. See Todd's blog for details!

SRL: Link 1, Link 2. Recovery blog for Todd Blair is here.

Want to help? Todd's friends and family are collecting donations to help with Blair's considerable medical expenses, you can help out by PayPal if you're so moved: Link (donations go in care of Susan Maunu). I know lots of Boing Boing readers (myself included) have attended many an SRL show without paying a single dime. Now's a chance to give back some of the love, guys.

Previously on Boing Boing:

  • SRL crew member injured in post-show accident
  • IT Crowd Season Two - the sexy finale

    The season finale of The IT Crowd aired last week -- the sex episode, where Jen ends up working as personal assistant to her lecherous boss, leaving the boys to go all Lord of the Flies. This is probably the funniest episode so far -- and remarkably restrained for a sex episode. Hard to believe the season's over already -- here's hoping for season three!

    Eric adds:

    I loved The IT Crowd so much, I went searching for other shows with the same actors. So far, both shows I've sampled have been fantastic. They've been mentioned in comments by BB readers, but never in an actual post:

    "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" is a fantastic show featuring both Richard Ayoade (Moss) and Matt Berry (new this season as Douglas Denholm). It is a send up of 80s horror/scifi -- spoofing Dr. Who style production on bad Steven King plotlines. A previous BB reader called it "the single best reason to have a multi-region DVD player".

    Another show with Berry in it is "The Mighty Boosh", though he's only in four out of fifteen episodes. However, guess who one of the co-stars is: Noel Fielding, IT Crowd's Richmond. His character in Boosh, Vince Noir, is a too-cool punk zoo keeper, and yes it's as funny as it sounds.

    Link to Pirate Bay torrent

    (Disclosure: I was an unpaid consultant on series one of The IT Crowd, and my fiancee works at Channel Four)

    See also:
    Previews of IT Crowd episode six
    IT Crowd, season 2, episode 5: the boob joke episode
    IT Crowd Season 2, Episode 4 -- and DVD!
    IT Crowd Season 2, Episode 3: Great anti-piracy PSA sendup
    IT Crowd Season 2, Episode 2 -- keyboard-destroying nerd sitcom
    The IT Crowd -- season two, episode one

    Mario villains scarf

    Love love LOVE this pattern for a chunky, handmade Super Mario villain scarf. Link (via Wonderland)

    Woman dies in security custody at airport

    Gothamist reports (via a story in the NY Post)...
    Manhattan resident Carol Ann Gotbaum, who is married to the stepson of [NYC] Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, died in a Phoenix airport holding cell while in police custody. Phoenix authorities believe she may have died while trying to get out of her handcuffs.

    New Blade Runner: OMG Deckard is a [REDACTED]

    The NYT's Fred Kaplan has a piece about the "new" Blade Runner today -- won't include any spoilers in this post, but the Director's Cut DVD reveals a "secret" about Harrison Ford's character. Snip:

    “Here we are 25 years on,” Mr. Scott said, “and we’re seriously discussing the possibility of the end of this world by the end of the century. This is no longer science fiction.”

    The special effects that produced this vision were amazing for their day. Created with miniature models, optics and double exposures, they seemed less artificial than many computer effects of a decade later. But like film stock, they faded with time.

    For the new director’s cut, the special-effects footage was digitally scanned at 8,000 lines per frame, four times the resolution of most restorations, and then meticulously retouched. The results look almost 3-D.

    Link. O!M!G! I CAN'T! WAIT@ TO SEE IT! (Thanks, Susannah Breslin!)

    Previously on Boing Boing:

  • Interview with Ridley Scott, Blade Runner: The Final Cut
  • Scott Westerfeld's Extras - a superb volume in the Uglies series

    Scott Westerfeld's Extras is the latest volume of the series that includes Uglies, Pretties and Specials, picking up the story with a new cast of characters who are even more likable, and a premise that is even more gripping, than those of the original books (and that's saying something!).

    The three books concerned themselves with the adventures of Tally Youngblood, who inhabits a world where children are surgically modified to be esthetically "perfect" on their sixteenth birthday, under a self-serving political system that uses strict social order to enforce total mental and political control over its citizens.

    In Extras, we meet Aya, a citizen of a different city, one where the social order is determined by one's social rank, as calculated by a central computer that counts how many times your fellow citizens mention you. Aya is a would-be super-blogger (a "kicker" in local slang) who hopes to accumulate "face rank" (reputation) through breaking stories about famous "faces" -- highly ranked fellow citizens. This ambition entwines her destiny with the Sly Girls, a clique of fame-eschewing rule-breakers, and that leads her to discovering a secret so dark that it upsets the entire social order of her world.

    Reputation economies -- where resources are allocated based on popularity -- are of great interest to me (I wrote a novel about 'em), and I'm as skeptical as the next writer about 'em, so I was really impressed with Scott's deft and thoroughgoing handling of the subject in Extras, a real exploration of all the social- and story-problems you can get out of a reputation system.

    But as with all Westerfeld novels, it's not the great ideas that make them sing (though the ideas are great!), it's the wrenching pacing and deeply likable characters. Aya and her friends are some of the most interesting, flawed and inspirational people I've met in a young adult novel, making this yet another great Westerfeld to use in turning your kids onto sf. Link

    See also:
    Uglies: young adult sf that perfectly captures adolescent anxiety
    Conclusion of Westerfeld's Uglies and Pretties trilogy is out
    Vampire novel as a work of first-rate science fiction
    How an sf writer names his characters

    Geek exercise challenge: Walk to Rivendell

    Out-of-shape? Middle Earth geek? Why not walk to Rivendell, and join a worldwide community of Hobbit-fancying power-walkers, logging your daily paces as you leg the distances traversed by the hairy-foot set.

    Walk, run, hike, bike, blade, swim - if you can measure the distance, you can do this challenge. Keep a log, and record your daily or weekly miles and the type of exercise. For walkers and hikers, you might want to invest in a walking meter, they look like wristwatches. Otherwise, you can estimate your distance at 1 mile for every 20 minutes of brisk walking on a flat surface. Our original suggested deadline was the opening of The Return of the King, December 17, 2003. As this glorious day is now past, we are setting new goals, new times:

    If you would like to set a long term distance goal, choose any one of the following...

    1625 miles: Take the road home with the hobbits from Minas Tirith to Hobbiton.

    * 535 miles from Minas Tirith to Isengard
    * 693 miles from Isengard to Rivendell.
    * 397 miles from Rivendell to Bag End.

    Link (Thanks, Bear!)

    Pratchett's Discworld: a reading-order guide

    In yesterday's review of Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld book, Making Money, I mentioned how daunting it must be to be confronted with Pratchett's 33 Discworld novels and try to figure out where to start. Part of the charm of these books is that they're not written in any main sequence, but rather in several interrelated series that follow the lives of many different characters and subplots. Each book does a pretty good job of standing alone, and they all incorporate major characters from other lines as minor characters in their own, which makes the whole thing very meaty and extra fun to read.

    In the comments for the post, Techbuzz pointed out the Discworld Reading Order Guide, maintained in several languages by Krzysztof Kietzman of (Pratchett readers will recognize the reference to "Library Space" -- the virtual Borgesian world in which all potential libraries exist simultaneously). This is a remarkably handy little chart -- all the main lines of the Discworld books are laid out in their chronological sequence, with dotted lines showing how each line intersects with the rest. This is an indispensable guide for the Pratchett novice. Link

    Bad signs of the world: Flickr pool

    I just lost half an hour of my life to the highly amusing "Bad Signage" Flickr pool, which sports hundreds of photos of bad and weird signs. This is a favorite photographic subject of mine -- I think because bad signs are a kind of window into the most demented minds of other people, their humor, their malapropisms, their authoritarian tendencies, and their anxieties. Link

    (Photo credit: The cropped, downsized thumbnail above is reproduced on the basis of fair use from Excard1970's photo, "Best sign of the year (so far)")

    Web Zen: retro zen

    vintage technology
    car record player
    carnival prizes
    monster models
    odd rods
    muffler men
    plan 59
    world of kane
    retro planet

    Archive link for this week's edition. Web Zen is produced weekly by Frank Davis, and republished here on Boing Boing with kind permission. Web Zen Home and Archives, Store (Thanks Frank!).

    Jack Davis, supporter of SF underground arts, RIP

    Last week, San Francisco lost one of the underground art scene's most dedicated supporters. Most recently, Jack Davis was the director of the SomArts Cultural Center, ran the stage production for the San Francisco Blues Festival, and served on the mayor's Arts Task Force. But for decades, Jack has been an icon of the of Bay Area avant-garde culture. He was one of those people who just made things happen. Last year, my friend John Law, himself a legend in SF's underground scene, wrote a tribute to Jack after he suffered a heart attack. With the news of Jack's passing, Scott Beale of Laughing Squid reposted John's tribute. Here's what John wrote:
     Wp-Content Uploads Jack-Davis In any town, any scene, any time, you can count on the fingers of one hand the largely unheralded folks that facilitate almost everything thing of note that happens. They are there early on, giving quiet, confident encouragement – and, as importantly for starving artists, the occasional big break in event cost or maybe various services provided but somehow unbilled. These two or three princes never expect anything in return other than to watch the blossoming and growth of what they consider to be (and usually are) the most worthy enterprises. Other’s who “make things happen” the individuals, deserving or not who do get the lion’s share of the credit – you know who they are – they’re in the papers, on the radio, these folks know who those two or three are and always owe them a debt.

    Jack Davis is one of those princes. At crucial points in the life of almost any significant Frisco art endeavor/scene/ organization (underground or established,) Jack has, in some capacity, small or gigantic, been pivotal in its life and growth. As Director of SomArts Gallery in SOMA for the last twenty years, one of the largest, best and most easily accessible art/event/party places in the City, Jack and his wonderful staff have given untold thousands of nascent artists, community groups and provocateurs their first big or pivotal show and a grand forum for promulgating their ideas and spirit in the local scene. Many of these individuals and organizations have moved on to national prominence. Following is a very small sampling of groups that benefited from Jacks involvement and/or support: The Neighborhood Arts Program (one of the founders) this group kicked off most of local Cultural Centers, Intersection for the Arts (past Director,) S.F. Mime Troupe (Board Member,) Burning Man (first big in-town events in the early 90’s were at SOMARTs for extremely low cost,) Day of the Dead, The Farm, Pickle Family Circus, Make a Circus, Dance Mission, Cellspace, S.F. Pride, Survival Research Labs (Jack held the cops off while Mark and crew got away!) The list goes on & on.

    Lumiere Manifesto: like Dogme 95 for videoblogging

    Here's a snip from an essay at

    Lumiere video arises from the tradition of the French Lumiere brothers. Credited with some of the first footage captured, in 1895, the Lumieres are also recognized for holding the first public film screening, showing ten shorts that lasted only twenty minutes total. At the time, Louis Lumiere stated, “The cinema is an invention without a future,” believing that everyday photography and video was ultimately nonsensical. Yet, we stand firm that Lumiere principles are essential to our existence as artists, media producers, visual creatures, and world citizens.

    From a documentary perspective, and because Auguste and Louis Lumiere are thought to have produced the rudimentary firsts in this now well-known genre, founders of the field are essential to how we view our work today on a continuum. Lumieres emerge from the belief in filmmakers' distinct points of view; appropriately, lumiere literally means “light” in English. Online video has now for years allowed the advancement of personal narratives and showcased the world through the eyes of other video producers. At best, we display an edited view of our worlds. At worst, we destroy important viewpoints through unnecessary editing.

    Link (Link and hed snagged from Warren Ellis)

    UPDATE: oooh, there's a competing videoblogging manifesto from

    The Luxidogmeimerde Manifesto

    (For fuller context, you should read the wussified Lumiere Manifesto first. But then come back and read this one, because seriously our manifesto is way way better.) (...)

    We followed the Dogme95 conventions until we realized that Dogme film #188 was Big Booty Hoes, which kind of fucked up that for us. We have attempted to find videos usingthe Lumiere Manifesto, which at first thought was good but now we hate. We looked for films that were longer than 60 seconds, no camera movement, no audio, and no editing. Sadly, most of the videos we found that matched those criteria were dudes beating off. After watching several hundred of those videos, we decided that we needed to draft our own set of rules.

    * No script or scenes or actors or dialog or locations
    * No artifical lights or real lights or black lights
    * To maintain a total sense of reality, NO credits are allowed either before or after the film.
    * Or during the film, either. * In order to maintain the artistic integrity in shots involving visual effects for explosions, if you use an Explosion element, it must be ONLY from the ArtBeats Reel Explosions Volume One library in the Zero-G folder and can only be composited into the scene using either Shake or Fusion (NOT After Effects) and you may only use Add or Screen modes and more no than three rotoscoped mattes, including the scene's general garbage matte, per shot. Also, no more than seven (7) nodes per shot, including the background plate AND any color correction, either done pre-comp or post.
    * No costumes
    * No soundtrack, audio, music, sound effects except for a high pitched whine
    * Trailer may not use Don Lafontaine for voiceover
    * Camera may not be put on a tripod or other artifical camera putting on thing.
    * Lens Cap On
    * No Battery Or Other Power To Camera
    * Camera In Bag
    * First Camera Bag Put In Another Bag Made Of Dark Heavy Canvas
    * Doubled Bagged Non Powered Camera Buried At Depth Of Six Feet
    * No fatties

    The following are not rules for filmmaking or film makers but represent a complete philosophy of life.

    Only films that follow all of these rules will get props from us on MySpace.

    Linkidogmeimerde (actually written by Lee Stranahan)

    Snapshots of Burma (Myanmar) in 1989

    Design Observer has a slideshow of images of Burma in 1989 by William Drenttel. Snip from intro:

    According to Wikipedia: 8888 Uprising was a national peaceful revolution demanding democracy that started on August 8, 1988, in Burma (now Myanmar), when university students started the initial demonstrations in Rangoon. The Uprising ended on September 18, 1988, after a bloody military coup by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Thousands, mostly monks and civilians (primarily students) were killed by the Tatmadaw (Burmese armed forces).

    I spent a month in Asia in early 1989, and was fortunate enough to purchase an entry visa into Burma from Thailand. On February 24, 1989, my passport was stamped number 263, meaning the Burmese government admitted less than 300 tourists that month. Only four months earlier, the military regime had killed an estimated 3,000 civilians during the 8888 Uprising.

    This slideshow of photographs from 1989 is dedicated to the people of Burma – as they again confront one of the most brutal regimes in the world.


    Previously on Boing Boing:

  • Burma: 'net cut as brutal crackdown worsens
  • ABC reporter files from inside Burma via cellphone
  • Burma: internally displaced demonstrate in rural areas
  • Burma regime cracks down on protesting monks
  • First tourist snapshots from Myanmar (Burma)'s new capital
  • Elephant landmine survivors on the Thai-Burma border
  • ABC reporter files from inside Burma via cellphone

    Mediabistro snip:
    When ABC's senior foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto crossed into Myanmar today from neighboring Thailand the authorities took away his camera. So he filed his report for World News and the webcast, with the next best thing, his cell phone.