Hugo-nominated webcomic The Body Politic as a free download

Erik sez, "The Hugos have a special one-time-only award category this year 'Best Graphic Story'. Though you might want to note that one of the nominated stories is from Howard Talyer's 'Schlock Mercenary,' an old fashioned, four panel a day, ad supported webcomic, written and illustrated by one guy with no other credits to his name. The story has been available online since it was originally posted (just like the whole archives are), and he's put together the story in PDF form for people who don't want to trawl through the archives."

The Body Politic (PDF)

The Body Politic (PDF) (Coral cache mirror) (Thanks, Erik!) Read the rest

Trailer Park Boys: Big Plans, Little Brains

Richard Metzger is Boing Boing's current guest blogger.

Okay, I'll admit that I came to the immense pleasures of Canada's greatest export, "Trailer Park Boys" a little late in the party. By the time I downloaded a 17GB torrent file of "the complete Trailer Park Boys" it was indeed just that, complete, with a bow on top. Two feature films and seven TV series, a total of 56 episodes of some of the funniest television I have ever seen. My wife and I positively gorged ourselves on these shows. We'd often watch six a night, one after the other like it was comedy crack. Finally after three weeks or so, the well ran dry. No more "Trailer Park Boys"!! We were majorly bummed out. We went through withdrawal symptoms. We were sad. It was bad, real, real bad.

But then --hooray-- they did a new Christmas special!! Hearing THAT was the best present I could have gotten, believe me! And the Christmas show ended with the set-up to a new feature film that will appear in 2009, "Countdown To Liquor Day." In my household, this was off-the-scale good news.

Here is a selection of short --but exemplary-- clips from "Trailer Park Boys." If like me, you somehow tragically managed to live your life without being acquainted with the distinctly UN-subtle comedic charms of Canada's favorite bad boys, Julian, Ricky, Bubbles (and let's not forget Mister Lahey, the greatest screen lush since WC Fields) and you find that these clips tickle your funny bone, rejoice, you have hours and hours of the most side-splitting humor still to discover. Read the rest

Are kidnapped children tax-deductible?

Smith sez, "This blog breaks down the tax code for writing off currently-kidnapped children as deductions. Though one has to sympathize with parents who are actually in this situation (which is very rarely, I assume), I can't help but feel ashamed that our IRS has contemplated this issue to such depths."
Can I still write off a child as a deduction if they've been kidnapped?

According to the IRS website, the answer is "yes," if two conditions are met:

1. The child must be presumed by law enforcement to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or a member of the child's family, and

2. The child had, for the taxable year in which the kidnapping occurred, the same principal place of abode as the taxpayer for more than one-half of the portion of such year before the date of kidnapping.

Tax Advice from the Prestigious Internet (Thanks, Smith!) Read the rest

Ted Chiang's Hugo nominated story Exhalation free download

John sez, "Ted Chiang's short story "Exhalation" --which is currently a finalist for the Hugo Award and the British Science Fiction Association Award--is now available to read online in a variety of formats, via our Downloads page. Originally appearing in Jonathan Strahan's Eclipse Two, 'Exhalation' is an evocative story of an all-metal world, its argon-breathing inhabitants, and a scientist who performs the ultimate self-examination. The story is also available as a podcast from StarShipSofa".

Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation” now available for download. (Thanks, John!) Read the rest

Nominees announced for Prometheus Award for best "pro-freedom" sf novel; Little Brother's a finalist!

The Libertarian Futurist Society has released its slate of nominees for this year's Prometheus Awards, the award for the best "pro-freedom" science fiction of the year. I'm proud to say that my novel Little Brother made the cut, as did five other standout books, including a couple personal favorites: Half a Crown by Jo Walton and Saturn's Children by Charlie Stross.
* Matter, by Iain Banks (Orbit Books) - Part of Banks' series of far-future space operas about the Culture, a utopia which reflects Banks' interest in anarchism through its avoidance of the use of force except when necessary for protection and defense. The novel focuses on an agent in Special Circumstances, the Culture's special forces unit, who returns to her home planet, a "shellworld" with multiple layers of habitation, after her father has been killed in a coup.

* Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow (TOR Books) - A cautionary tale about a high-school student and his friends who are rounded up in the hysteria following a terrorist attack, the novel focuses on how people find the courage to respond to oppression.

* The January Dancer, by Michael Flynn (TOR Books) -The classic space opera, set in an interstellar civilization created by a wide-ranging human diaspora, revolves around how discovery of a an alien relic sends agents of a multisystem federation on a quest that exposes them to political and economic institutions of many different cultures and requires them to deal with threats to freedom, from piracy to political corruption.

* Saturn's Children, by Charles Stross (Ace Books) -A robot's adventures after all the humans in a society have died raises complex issues of ethics, duty, family and struggle in this Heinlenesque novel.

Read the rest

Real Money Trading game design, my notes from today's Game Developers' Conference

One of the most interesting -- if sometimes creepy -- talks that I sat in on today at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco was "Applied Real Money Trade Design," with Eric Bethke of GoPets (a kid-oriented virtual world with a active market for buying and selling virtual goods) and Andy Schneider of Live Gamer (which runs the marketplace in GoPets). I took a bunch of notes -- this is thought-provoking and odd stuff that crosses the boundaries of fairness, economics, play and work.
Balancing methods: How can you screw up?

* You can't get this right a priori

   * You need to iterate

* Free to play isn't a business model, it's a name for thousands of business models

* Things that are defensive in nature can be charged for, and the time-rich skilled players won't resent lamers having more health or a shorter corpse-run, because they'll still kill 'em

   * But give the lamers big weapons and it amounts to an "I win" item -- instead, sell things like awesome looking weapons

Read the rest

Storytron goes public -- a game-engine built for real storytelling

The long-awaited game Storytron, from legendary game-designer Chris Crawford, is now visible to the public. Storytron is a system for creating games in which real stories take place -- and it's designed to allow you to create your own stories as well. The launch-game, Balance of Power is "a geopolitical strategy storyworld."
You begin on September 12th, 2001. You are the President of the United States and your job is to advance American interests, as expressed in a list of policy goals. These policy goals can be found by clicking on the Things button. Each of these is a policy of some sort, with its "owner" (the country that would actually do it) listed first. The USA's own policy actions are at the top of the list. If you select any of these policy goals, you will see a lot of text explaining exactly what it entails. The desirability of that policy goal to the USA is also displayed next to the bold text Undesirable_Desirable. You want to make certain that the policy goals that are desirable are eventually executed, and the ones that are undesirable are never executed. For now you can just skim through this list, but in order to do well in BoP2K, you'll need to familiarize yourself with each of these, even those that don't appear to affect you. Why? Because you will need to make deals with other countries involving some of those policy-treaties.

Your first task is to select which policy goal you want to pursue first.

Read the rest

Jane McGonigal's Game Developers' Conference talk on Making Your Own Reality

Learning to Make Your Own Reality - IGDA Education Keynote 2009View more presentations from avantgame.

Alice Taylor from the Wonderfland is celebrating Ada Lovelace day with a great post about ARG and gaming pioneer Jane McGonigal, including video and slides from Jane's talk yesterday at the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco, which is absolutely the talk of the event.

Find more videos like this on Top Secret Dance Off

My Ada Lovelace day post: Jane McGonigal Previously:Jane McGonigal's The Lost Ring alternate reality game - Boing Boing Play Jane McGonigal's World Without Oil - Boing Boing Ask a Scientist: Jane McGonigal - Boing Boing BoingBoingBoing podcast 13: game developer Jane McGonigal - Boing ... Jane McGonigal joins Institute for the Future - Boing Boing Jane McGonigal's new game: Cruel 2 B Kind - Boing Boing Technology Review's 2006 Young Innovators - Boing Boing Microsoft's new alternate reality game - Boing Boing Read the rest

Chess set made from beautiful lamp parts

Leesa sez, "My dad, an inventor/designer (he invented the Tressy doll--the doll with hair that grows, the first adjustable television turntable and designed unusual wrought-iron modern furniture) designed a chess set in 1968 that was made out of 428 lamp parts. Each set was handmade (by my mother and grandmother in the basement of our house in the Bronx.) Over 250 copies were sold in the late sixties/early 70's to high end stores and collectors."

Superb.

Chess Set (Thanks, Leesa!) Previously:Alice Chess Set -- chessmen vanish into opaque blocks when out of ... Chess pieces made from nuts and bolts - Boing Boing Chess-set made from nuts and bolts - Boing Boing Read the rest

Artists who design intentionally difficult buildings were victims of Madoff

R.U. Sirius says: "This must be a prank. The Wall Street Journal today reports on a couple of "immortalists" whose dreams of living forever were wrecked by Best Scammer Ever Bernard Madoff."

From the WSJ:

[Arakawa and Madeline Gins'] work based loosely on a movement known as "transhumanism," is premised on the idea that people degenerate and die in part because they live in spaces that are too comfortable. The artists' solution: construct abodes that leave people disoriented, challenged and feeling anything but comfortable.

They build buildings with no doors inside. They place rooms far apart. They put windows near the ceiling or near the floor. Between rooms are sloping, bumpy moonscape-like floors designed to throw occupants off balance. These features, they argue, stimulate the body and mind, thus prolonging life. 'You become like a baby,' says Mr. Arakawa... A typical apartment has three or four rooms in the shapes of either a cylinder, a cube, or a sphere. Rooms surround a kitchen-living room combination with bumpy, undulating floors and floor-to-ceiling ladders and poles. Dozens of colors, from school-bus yellow to sky blue, cover the walls, ceilings and other surfaces.

But as R.U. points out, "This is conceptual art folks, not someone's actual dream of immortality. The WSJ simply did a poor job of framing the story."

Here's the WSJ's slideshow of Arakawa and Madeline Gins' whimsical work.

Artists who design intentionally difficult buildings were victims of Madoff Read the rest

Kowal's Hugo-nominated story "Evil Robot Monkey" as a Creative Commons audiobook, PDF

Hugo nominee Mary Robinette Kowal sez, "I released 'Evil Robot Monkey,' which is one of the short story Hugo nominees, as a Creative Commons licensed audio and pdf. (As an object of curiosity, I illustrated the pdf. I was an art major back in the day and this is the way I kept myself amused while waiting for the Hugo ballot to be officially announced.)"
Sliding his hands over the clay, Sly relished the moisture oozing around his fingers. The clay matted down the hair on the back of his hands making them look almost human. He turned the potter’s wheel with his prehensile feet as he shaped the vase. Pinching the clay between his fingers he lifted the wall of the vase, spinning it higher.

Someone banged on the window of his pen. Sly jumped and then screamed as the vase collapsed under its own weight. He spun and hurled it at the picture window like feces. The clay spattered against the Plexiglas, sliding down the window.

In the courtyard beyond the glass, a group of school kids leapt back, laughing. One of them swung his arms aping Sly crudely. Sly bared his teeth, knowing these people would take it as a grin, but he meant it as a threat. Swinging down from his stool, he crossed his room in three long strides and pressed his dirty hand against the window. Still grinning, he wrote SSA. Outside, the letters would be reversed.

Evil Robot Monkey (Thanks, Mary!) Read the rest

Democratic North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan Saw What Was Coming (and no one listened!)

Richard Metzger is Boing Boing's current guest blogger

From Fishbowl LA:

This is from the NYTimes from November, 1999. The article is titled, "Congress Passes Wide-Ranging Bill Easing Bank Laws" about the repeal of Glass-Steagall a Depression-Era law to separate bankers and brokers:

"'I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010,'' said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. "'I wasn't around during the 1930's or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980's when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.'"

Read the whole article. Go ahead. We're in the fetal position hoping the pills kick in sooner rather than later.

Via FBLA, via Reddit Read the rest

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention: King Kong (1968)

Richard Metzger is Boing Boing's current guest blogger.

Utterly astonishing clip of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at the BBC studios in 1968 performing a nine-minute workout of "King Kong."

I realize that the music of Frank Zappa tends to be what is called "an acquired taste" but in my never so humble opinion, this is one pretty darn tasty performance! I'm someone who considers him a genius, but I have reservations about the "smutty humor" aspect of his work. My own preference in Zappa's material tends to this era and the original Mothers of Invention. The collective "character" of the original Mothers can only really be compared to Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, if you ask me, where every musician was contributing an absolutely unique voice to the proceedings. It wasn't just the music, which was wonderful, but the personalities of the players themselves that made it so special. The Mothers came from diverse backgrounds, a bunch of SoCal n'er-do-wells who were tending bar, driving trucks and pumping gas by day, and by night, willing participants in Frank Zappa's quest to meld a bunch of wild men R-n-B freaks into a disciplined avant garde orchestra capable of playing Stravinsky-inspired free jazz on electronic instruments one minute, a sea shanty the next and then following that up with a little 50s doo wop sung in a helium falsetto. This performance of "King Kong " (taken from a BBC series called "Colour Me Pop" one of the first pop shows to be broadcast in color) and a second performance from French TV that same year show just how magnificently honed this group was. Read the rest

Shepard Fairey on the Obama Photo Controversy

Shepard Fairey has addressed the controversy surrounding the Associated Press photo of Barack Obama, and the famous poster he created which references that photograph.
I’m sure a lot of people are wondering about my case with the AP over the Obama HOPE poster. I can’t talk about every aspect of the case, but there are a few things I want to discuss and points I’d like to make.

Most importantly, I am fighting the AP to protect the rights of all artists, especially those with a desire to make art with social commentary. This is about artistic freedom and basic rights of free expression, which need to be available to all, whether they have money and lawyers or not. I created the Obama image as a grassroots tool solely to help Obama get elected president. The image worked due to many complex variables. If I could do it all over again, I would not change anything about the process, because that could change the outcome. I am glad to endure legal headaches if that is the trade-off for Obama being president.

No disrespect was intended to photographer Mannie Garcia, but I did not think (and do not think) I needed permission to make an art piece using a reference photo. From the beginning, I openly acknowledged that my illustration of Obama was based on a reference photograph. But the photograph is just a starting point. The illustration transforms it aesthetically in its stylization and idealization, and the poster has an altogether different purpose than the photograph does.

Read the rest

Video: Fast reflex

When confronted with the flight-or-fight choice, this young gentleman's reptilian brain selected the latter. (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!) Read the rest

Brittni Paiva plays "Glass Ball Slack Key" on ukulele

Brittni Paiva plays "Glass Ball Slack Key" on ukulele.

Previously:Zoe plays "Optional Accessory" on ukulele Clara Belle plays "Summer Face" on ukulele Danielle plays "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on ukulele Taimane plays "Eleanor Rigby" on ukulele Ukuleleaya plays "Crazy G" on customized cake ukulele Kate Micucci plays "Dear Deer" on the ukulele Shelley Rickey plays "Tonight, You Belong to Me" on her handmade cigar-box ukulele Charley sings a song and plays her ukulele Sophie Madeleine plays "The Beard Song" on ukulele Megan plays "You and I" on ukulele Misanthrope Jackalope plays "The Maker" on ukulele Diane Rubio plays "Lulu's Back in Town" on ukulele Read the rest

Boing Boing Video and Offworld are Broadcasting Live from GDC09 - Tune In Now!

The entire Boing Boing Video crew is in San Francisco this week, along with a number of the bloggers from Offworld, BB Gadgets, and Boing Boing, to cover the 2009 Game Developers Conference. And this time, for the first time ever, we're doing it with live video broadcasts on our new Ustream channel. Tune in for conversations in our BBV@GDC studio with hosts including Matty Kirsch from Killscreen TV,  Xeni and Joel from Boing Boing, visits from Brandon, Cory, and Pesco, and lots of game biz guests and happy mutants throughout the world, all week long!

For BB + Offworld's complete video and blog coverage of GDC09, visit offworld.com/gdc09.

(Special thanks to our live stream host Ustream TV, to Wayneco Heavy Industries, and to our transportation provider at Virgin America.) Read the rest

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