Rebutting the lobbyists for US-style copyrights in Canada

In this great, short video, Michael Geist systematically rebuts the oft-repeated claims of the Canadian lobby for US-style copyrights -- claims about Canada's supposedly backwards copyright regime, lack of creativity, and so on. It's nice to have all the rebuttals in one neat, tidy bundle. Link

Steampunk panel at Maker Faire

Jake von Slatt sez, "On Saturday May 3, on the main stage at Maker:Faire Heather Gold will leading a discussions about sub-culture through the lens of Steampunk. Participating in the discussion will be Cap'n Robert of Abney Park, artist, photographer and editor from SteamPunk Magazine Libby Bulloff and myself, Jake von Slatt. Please join us via the live stream and chat and lob us some of those tough and insightful comments!" Link (Thanks, Jake!)

Headless sheep stools


Sam Brown's "Sheep" stools look like great kids' room additions -- nothing says "innocent childhood" like sitting on a headless sheep. Link (via Babygadget)

Kids scare each other by impersonating online pedophiles

British schoolchildren in the west of England are terrorizing their chums by impersonating pedophile stalkers.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police told the Manchester Grauniad:

"Information from the public has highlighted a possibility that the offenders could be children aged 10 and over, masquerading as a paedophile. The investigations are continuing and at this moment we are looking into every line of inquiry and are not ruling out any possibility. However, the language used on the social networking sites such as Bebo and MSN is at times childish. [No change there, then - Ed]

"It could be youngsters playing a sick game to try and intimidate friends they have fallen out with. This will be treated seriously and we will be contacting the families of the children involved and we will try and help them by involving social services."

Link

Artist themes for Google


Google just launched a bunch of custom artist themes for iGoogle, and they were kind enough to invite me to design a theme for it. I called it "Adventure in Lollypop Land." The scene changes throughout the day.

marks-igoogle.jpg


I donated my fee to the wonderful SOVA Community Food & Resource Program, run by Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles.

Link

New book: The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments

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O'Reilly's Make: Books launched a new series of books called DIY Science, and the first one is The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiements, by Robert Bruce Thompson. Here's the preface to the book, which I found very inspiring.

Christmas morning, 1964. I was 11 years old. My younger brother and I arose at the crack of dawn and noisily rushed downstairs to find out what was under the tree. Our parents followed us, bleary-eyed.

Santa had been good to us that year. Colorfully-wrapped presents were scattered, not just under the tree, but across most of the living room floor. Being boys, we started tearing open the presents with no thought at all for the care that had gone into wrapping them. We were after the loot.

There were the inevitable disappointments. Sweaters from grandma, school clothes from Aunt Betty, and hand-knitted stocking caps for both of us from Pete and Sarah, our elderly next-door neighbors. But there was plenty of good stuff, too. Sports equipment and a cap pistol for my younger brother. A battery-powered Polaris nuclear submarine that actually fired small plastic missiles. A bicycle for my brother and a BB gun for me! Lots of books, the kind we both liked to read. A casting set, with a lead furnace and molds to make toy soldiers.

As we opened the packages, my brother and I mentally checked off items against our wish lists. We’d both gotten everything we asked for. Almost. One item had been at the top of every iteration of my wish list since the Sears Christmas Wish Book had arrived, and that item was nowhere to be found. I searched frantically through the piles of discarded wrapping paper, hoping I’d overlooked a box. It wasn’t there.

My parents had been watching my brother and me ripping through gifts like Tasmanian Devils. Just as I’d decided that I hadn’t gotten the one gift that I really, really wanted, mom and dad called me into the kitchen. There it sat, on the kitchen table, exactly what I’d been hoping for. It was already unboxed and spread wide open to show the contents. My father said, “This is from your mother and me. It is not a toy.”

It was a Lionel/Porter/Chemcraft chemistry set, and the exact model I’d asked for. The biggest one, with dozens of chemicals and hundreds of experiments. Glassware, an alcohol lamp, a balance, even a centrifuge. Everything I needed to do real chemistry. I instantly forgot about the rest of my presents, even the BB gun. I started reading the manual, jumping from one experiment to another. I carefully examined each of the chemical bottles. The names of the chemicals were magical. Copper sulfate, sodium carbonate, sulfur, cobalt chloride, logwood, potassium ferricyanide, ferrous ammonium sulfate, and dozens more.

Read the rest

Linkwasher's awesome junk robots


Flickr user Lockwasher collected a bunch of junk to make rayguns out of, and then decided to use the leftover junk to make a stunning collection of junk robots. Link (via Neatorama)

NYTimes.com hand-codes its HTML

Khoi Vinh, the Design Director of NYTimes.com, explains that the Times's much-vaunted cross-platform consistency is down to hand-coding their HTML with a text-editor, not using GUI tools like Dreamweaver:
It’s our preference to use a text editor, like HomeSite, TextPad or TextMate, to “hand code” everything, rather than to use a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) HTML and CSS authoring program, like Dreamweaver. We just find it yields better and faster results.

But really the browser-to-browser consistency that you see (and I have to admit, it’s far from perfect) is the result of a vigilant collaboration between many different groups – the visual designers and technologists in the design team that I lead, their counterparts in our technology staff, and the many, many detail-oriented people who come together to make the site a reality every hour of every day.

Link (via /.)

Brain uses a third of its energy on "housekeeping"

The brain consumes 20 percent of your body's energy, but what for? Turns out a third of the energy is spent on "housekeeping":

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA indicates that two thirds of the brain's energy budget is used to help neurons or nerve cells "fire'' or send signals. The remaining third, however, is used for what study co-author Wei Chen, a radiologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, refers to as "housekeeping," or cell-health maintenance...

"Housekeeping power is important for keeping the brain tissue alive," Chen says, "and for the many biological processes in the brain," in addition to neuronal chats. Charged sodium, calcium and potassium atoms (or ions) are continuously passed through the membranes of cells, so that neurons can recharge to fire. ATP supplies the energy required for these ions to traverse cell membranes. Chen says there must be enough energy to maintain a proper ionic balance inside and outside cells; if too many get stuck inside, it can cause swelling, which can damage cells and lead to strokes and other conditions.

Link (via Monochrom)

PoopReport's charity drive for women's latrines in Uttar Pradesh

Dave sez,
I'm the editor of PoopReport.com. I've been living in India for the last six months. While here, I've come across a great cause related to the subject of my site: raising money to build toilets for lowest-caste girls studying at the Pardada Pardadi school in rural Uttar Pradesh.

Today these students are forced to suffer the dangers and humiliation of waking up before sunrise to relieve themselves in nearby fields. This is incredibly unsanitary and quite demeaning -- imagine if you had to wait until the sun was down before you could use the bathroom, no matter how bad you had to go?

But a toilet really can change their lives. It will directly impact the health and the dignity of these students, their families, and their villages as a whole.

A single dual-pit toilet based on the Sulabh model (which converts waste into fertilizer and needs to be serviced only once every five years) costs $250. Every little bit helps -- $1 is enough to cover lunch for four laborers building the toilets. But if you give a full $250, Pardada Pardadi will give you naming rights and send you picture of your toilet and of the girl and the family to whom you've given such a great gift.

I'm in for $250 -- I've dug pit latrines in a squatter village in Central America and it's pretty thankless labor, but I've seen first hand what a difference it makes. Link (Thanks, Dave!)

3D printed Cinderella's Castle from Disney


Matt Mason, author of The Pirate's Dilemma, sez, "I thought you'd be into this 3-D printed scale model of Cinderella’s Castle I received in the mail today. A few weeks back I was speaking at the Disney Imagineering HQ in California, where 3-D printing is used to develop new designs. They made one of these for Bob Iger, one for Steve jobs, and had this one at HQ, which they very kindly sent me as a thank you, after finding out about my obsession with all things 3-D printed. It’s the most detailed thing I’ve seen come out of a prototyping machine yet, this picture doesn’t do justice to the perfect brickwork, spires and columns, nor can you see the corridors that run through the model. It’s pretty nuts. Apparently it took 11 hours to print." Link (Thanks, Matt!)

See also:
Pirate's Dilemma author's speech: "To get rich off pirates, copy them"
Pirate's Dilemma slideshow video -- pirates will save the world

BBtv -- Jack Chick, animated: "Somebody Goofed," by Syd and Rodney


A redemption tale by the prolific religious comic book artist Jack Chick is born again through animation, in a classic short film by Syd Garon and Rodney Ascher.

Link to Boing Boing tv episode with discussion and downloadable video.

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Chick, born in 1924, is the most published comic book author in the world. Over decades, his publishing company has released some 500 million fundamentalist evangelical "Chick tracts" warning of the eternal consequences of a life lived without salvation.

One of these cautionary cartoon gospels, "Somebody Goofed," attracted the attention of animator-directors Syd and Rodney a decade ago -- and they transformed it into the mixed media pastiche Boing Boing tv presents to you, dear viewer, today.

This 8 minute film debuted at the DFILM Digital Film Festival in San Francisco on November 7, 1997. DFILM founder Bart Cheever tells Boing Boing tv:

We showed it all over the world. No other film came close to provoking the kind of intense, gut-level reaction that we saw with Goofed -- people really loved it or really, really hated it. Religious people called it blasphemous and threatened to organize boycotts of our shows. Anti-religious people called it religious propaganda and wrote angry letters to theater owners where we screened the festival.

To me, Goofed was the Birth of a Nation of After Effects films, and was really the aesthetic blueprint for much of what you see on TV today. So many people have copied their cool 2D photo-animations, and their style is used so heavily today on VH1, E, MTV, and so on -- it's easy to forget how groundbreaking the film was. No one had ever really done anything like it before.

I loved the way Goofed is this rich moving collage of newsprint religious tracts, album covers (can you spot Paul's Boutique?), clips from 70's gangster films, cigarette ads from old magazines etc. To me, Goofed represented a whole new way of collaging various forms of media.

UPDATE: We reached out to the filmmakers for some thoughts on this amazing piece of work, 10 years after its creation -- Rodney Ascher tells us...

Making Somebody Goofed was 50% art experiment and 50% self-designed AfterEffects tutorial. It was the first digitally animated project for both of us (I think...). It took at least 6 months to make the thing, maybe close to a year. I was running a Powermac 7500 (Syd's always had a model 1 or 2 levels faster than mine so he was probably behind the wheel of an 8500) and we got a gasp during a Q and A when we explained that rendering some of the QuickTimes took more than a day or two and transporting the uncompressed files demanded about 12 Jaz cartridges!

It was designed to be something of a Rorschach test: we followed the original comic as rigorously as we could, resisted any temptation to change things around (for pacing, content, whatever) and allowed the audience to interpret however they liked. During its premiere at DFilm, the audience was mostly quiet and thoughtful but at a screening at the SFMoMA it played pretty much as a spoof with a lot of appreciative laughter. On the other hand, when it was shown at a screening for the Television Commercial Industry, the awkward, confused, slightly hostile silence was deafening. Happily enough, we've gotten very nice responses from both Chick Publications and The Suicide Girls.

Related posts on Boing Boing:

  • Photo Fictions: bizarre narrative photo show in L.A.
  • Rodney Ascher's short film about a freefalling parachutist
  • Syd and Rodney's "Jack Chick's Titanic" video
  • Galactus meets Jack Chick
  • Jack Chick's own Passion
  • Jack Chick profile
  • Parody of Jack Chick tract warns against tiki worship.
  • Hallowe'en, Jack Chick style
  • (Special thanks to Pesco, and to Syd Garon)

    Chile photos from Bob Harris: Pudu, Dibs, and odd Jeopardy questions

    Bob Harris, author of an amazing book about his experiences on Jeopardy! called Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!, returned from Chile and emailed a bunch on interesting photos to his friends. He kindly gave me permission to post a few of them on Boing Boing. (Click on thumbnails for enlargement).
    200804291704.jpg 200804291650.jpg

    There are two species of pudu, Northern Pudu (pudu mephistopheles) and Southern Pudu (pudu pudu). These are pics of pudu pudu, perhaps the most fun to say of all species names.

    Pudu are the smallest deer species on earth. (There are smaller critters that look deeroid, but they're not.)

    It's the mascot of my own site, Bobharris.com, which has a Friday pudublogging section where most weeks I post a new pudu pic that I've either taken myself or received from readers.

    A student at Purdue once tried to start a movement to change the school mascot from the boilermaker to the pudu, so they would be the Purdue Pudus. This did not succeed.

    200804291646.jpg 200804291649.jpg These pudus have been hit by cars or wrongly adopted as pets, so without Fernando, they probably wouldn't have survived. When people in these parts hear of such things, they bring the pudus to Fernando's hideaway, where they live out their days with space, safety, food, and comfort. Sometimes they even make babies.

    200804291652.jpg Dibs -- your new way to eat ice cream.

    You mean, all over that woman's face and neck, while she passively mimes pleasure as the ice cream pelts her at high velocity?

    Yes, this would be new. Usually I just use a spoon.


    200804291654.jpg And our Final Jeopardy clue today is:

    These Mediterranean girls had the custom of going up nude on the roof so the influence of the moon would increase the size of their breasts.

    Clearly, I have been playing Jeopardy! in the wrong country entirely. Unfortunately, none of the contestants gives the correct response.

    I'm 95% sure on my translation, but I can't swear to it. My Spanish is not yet fluent.

    Get involved in production of community-made SF movie: Artemis Eternal

    Jess Stover says:
    200804291634.jpg I'm a filmmaker in Los Angeles at the helm of project ARTEMIS ('Artemis Eternal') a short, scifi-fantasy film currently in preproduction that is professionally-led, community-funded, cross-platform and supported by an audience of Wingmen who accept the challenge to create a better professional model for film production, distribution and exhibition. Here's a 2-minute clip.

    You may have seen us on YouTube Film, MySpace.com main, CurrentTV.com' top 8, io9, and the Globe & Mail... The project is noted for its advanced presentation and packaging and the involvement of many high-profile crewmembers such as celebrated computer artist Greg Martin, who I collaborate with frequently from development to delivery.

    We've had tremendous community support already, ranging from Fortune 500 companies like JetBlue (who altruistically has contributed free airfare) to independent craftsman like a renown master bowyer in Hungary to Wingmen who have been working directly with me on various parts of the project.

    And, thanks to the Wingmen, everyone can access what we accomplish without a login or payment and we continue to deepen the content each week and add new ideas to the project map on the official site.

    This is the best time to come into the project. We are completely prepared to shoot: Everything is booked and packaged and will happen quickly from this point forward. Budget-wise we're halfway there and are looking for the rest of our Wingmen to help us cross the finish line.

    The story of the actual film is about questioning what society expects of you and what we accept as normal. Everything we're doing with the overall project fits and explores that theme. As BoingBoing readers ourselves, we're looking forward to sharing the project with other like-mindeds. We won't succeed without you.

    Twitter the project & use it to coordinate: Link

    GTA IV world record attempt tonight, next door to BBtv

    GTA IV record attempt, bushleague.tv

    bushleague.tv is a yet-to-be-launched internet video show produced right next door to where we make Boing Boing tv, at the studios of internet video firm DECA. The Bush League people are pretty crazy, and they're fun neighbors to have.

    Anyway, tonight at at 5pm LA time, they -- specifically, this one guy on the show named Jim -- will attempt to break a gaming world record by playing the new edition of Grand Theft Auto (GTA IV) for over 25 consecutive hours. That's a lot of whores and cars! I understand they've even hired a real-life nurse to stand by in case the guy like, dies or whatever.

    A live-cast video feed (and twitter updates) will be at bushleague.tv. I hear a bunch of friends from G4 TV will be in the house. Allison Kingsley from Bush League bought a ton of flowers to counteract the anticipated olfactory menace of eau de wargamer (I am so not kidding).

    There's a teaser about their show on the site now, and the live feed will start promptly at 5pm. Bush League is an entertainment site aimed mostly at dudes that launches next week, on May 8th.

    GTA IV record attempt, bushleague.tv