This week on the most excellent Pseudopod horror podcast, David Nickle's fantastic story "The Inevitability of Earth," a tale about the ignobility of those who would fly:
When Michael was just a kid, Uncle Evan made a movie of Grandfather. He used an old eight-millimeter camera that wound up with a key and had three narrow lenses that rotated on a plate. Michael remembered holding the camera. It was supposedly light-weight for its time, but in his six-year-old hands, it seemed like it weighed a ton. Uncle Evan had told him to be careful with it; the camera was a precision instrument, and it needed to be in good working order if the movie was going to be of any scientific value.
The movie was of Grandfather doing his flying thing -- flapping his arms with a slow grace as he shut his eyes and turned his long, beak-ish nose to the sky. Most of the movie was only that: a thin, middle-aged man, flapping his arms, shutting his eyes, craning his neck. Grandfather's apparent foolishness was compounded by the face of young Michael flashing in front of the lens; blocking the scene, and waving like an idiot himself. Then the camera moved, and Michael was gone -
In this short video, sneering rappers from the young conservative movement bust rhymes about drilling in Alaska, forcing women to bear foetuses to term, eliminating social programs and merging Church and State. Lines include: "Three things taught me conservative love: Jesus, Ronald Reagan, plus Atlas Shrugged;" and "Everyone can succeed because our soldiers bleed."
A former FBI interrogator who successfully extracted secrets from senior Al Qaeda members using psychological tricks has gone public with his feelings on the ineffectiveness of torture. As he explained on CBC's As It Happens, torture is especially bad when you've got a "ticking bomb" situation, as a good psychological interrogator can establish rapport in hours, while torturing Al Quaeda suspects required dozens of sessions with waterboards and days of sleep deprivation to get any intelligence (and what it got, no one trusts):
Ali Soufan, a former FBI interrogator, revealed in an article being released in June that Osama Bin Laden's bodyguard opened up about the 9/11 terror attacks only after being offered -- sugar free cookies.
Bin Laden lieutenant Abu Jandal is a diabetic, Soufan said, and wouldn't eat sugar cookies he'd been offered.
"Soufan noticed that he didn't touch any of the cookies that had been served with tea: 'He was a diabetic and couldn't eat anything with sugar in it,' Time's Bobby Ghosh wrote. "At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal's angry demeanor.
"We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him," Soufan told Ghosh. "So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures..."
"It took more questioning, and some interrogators' sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda -- including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers -- but the cookies were the turning point," Ghosh writes.
"After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans," Soufan said. "Now he was thinking of us as human beings."
Over at Playboy.com, the inimitable Jack Boulware surveys the greatest of the military rock bands. Some are "official" while others, called "kix bands" by the Navy, are in it just for the, er, kicks. From Playboy.com:
Hang Ten aka US Navy Pacific Fleet Rock Band
Based at: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Official Description: “An extensive repertoire encompassing popular music from the 1960's to today's latest hits…everything from rock and pop to disco and light jazz”
Playlist: Guns N’ Roses, Gwen Stefani, Bob Marley
Original Songs: None listed
Bonus: Navy publicity requested control and approval over this story!
Just in time for the Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend, my Institute for the Future colleague Alex Pang wrote a fascinating essay about tinkering. I love the word "tinker." Back in Cincinnati, my oldest brother Mark, a lifelong maker who is now a research scientist and physician, spent his teen years digging around in an electronics hobbyist supply shop called The Tinker where resistors and capacitors were sold by the pound. From Vodafone Receiver:
What is interesting is that at its best, tinkering has an almost Zen-like sense of the present: its 'now' is timeless. It is neither heedless of the past or future, nor is it in headlong pursuit of immediate gratification. Tinkering offers a way of engaging with today's needs while also keeping an eye on the future consequences of our choices. And the same technological and social trends that have made tinkering appealing seem poised to make it even more pervasive and powerful in the future. Today we tinker with things; tomorrow, we will tinker with the world.
What is tinkering? Discovering that certain snack tins can be used to make an antenna that extends the range of your wi-fi network, using electric toothbrush motors to power small robots, building a high-altitude balloon that takes video of the edge of space, are all examples of tinkering. It is technical work and a cultural attitude. Tinkering is customizing software and stuff; making new combinations of things that work better than their parts; and discovering new capabilities in or uses for existing products. Despite its fascination with things and bits, it is resolutely human-focused: you don't make things 'better' in some dry technical sense, you make them work better for you. Tinkerers modify everything from cars, computers, and cellphones, to virtual worlds and computer code. They are driven by a desire to experiment, to make existing technologies more useful, and to customize them to better suit users' needs.
According to MIT professor Mitch Resnick, tinkering might look at first like traditional engineering, but it is very different. Both are about designing and making things; but engineering tends to be top-down, linear, structured, abstract and rules-based - a highly formal, organized activity, meant to be carried out in (and in the service of) large organizations. Tinkering, in contrast, is bottom-up, iterative, experimental, practical and improvisational: informal and disorganized, accessible to anyone who is willing to learn (and fail) and it doesn't follow any plan too closely.
Pick The Perp is a fun site where the aim is pick the perpetrator of a crime from a line up.
"Booking mug shots and related information is gathered from arrest records from open sheriff's web sites in the United States of America. Those appearing here have not been convicted of the arrest charge and are presumed innocent. Do not rely on this site to determine any person's actual criminal record. "
My mom (who has a Ph.D. in early childhood education) sez, "What does teaching and learning look like in the 21st Century? What about
21st Century learning spaces? How can Bloom's Taxonomy be applied to the
Digital world? Check out Andrew Churches' wiki where 21st educators are
invited to share in this emerging conversation."
Glyn sez, "If you're in Europe you may be considering who you should vote for in the up coming European elections. To help you the Open Rights Group sent a questionnaire to UK MEP candidates, asking them where they stand on digital rights issues."
Does your privacy, fair copyright, data retention and keeping the internet open matter to your MEP candidates? We've asked the main candidates what they think about four issues ORG campaigns on. You can see how the parties have done - both how many have responded, and what they have said. You can then judge for yourself who deserves your vote. You can also help by asking candidates who haven't responded to give us an answer, which we will then display on the website. All the candidate details are publicly available from party or campaign websites, and where we have found them, we have also added these to our site. If you do contact a candidate, please remember to be polite and helpful.
(Rudy Rucker is a guestblogger. His latest novel, Hylozoic, describes a postsingular world in which everything is alive.)
Recently my jeweler daughter, Isabel, made me a great “Swiss Writing Knife” with symbols of seven of the things I’m interested in: A Zhabotinsky scroll (for cellular automata), the Mandelbrot set (for fractals), a robot, A Square (for the fourth dimension), Infinity, a UFO, a Cone Shell (for diving, cellular automata, universal automatism, and SF). It’s gold-colored metal and the little “blades” swing in and out, with the icons in silver-colored metal riveted on.
I tend to adjust the knife according to what kind of story or novel I'm working on, and I keep it by my keyboard as a good luck amulet, or an embodied muse.
Isabel's business, Isabel Jewelry is in Pinedale, Wyoming, and she makes most of her sales over the web. One of her customers was in fact Boing's own Cory Doctorow, who had her custom-make a pair of crypto-device wedding rings.
As a sometime zinester, Isabel has a cool drawings site as well---check out her "Get Back" story about thongs. Isabel's graphic novel, "Unfurling: The World's Longest Comic Strip," will be on display this November at the SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco, all four hundred or so feet of it!
Oilpunk: is Punk, Hot Rod, Geek, Blue Collar, and Maker Culture mixed together with the Petroleum Golden Age of the last century. It's the intersection of petroleum products, art, and science. It harkens back to a time when hard work, combustion engines and industry shaped us, yet it speaks to the future. It's taking the castoffs of modern industrial culture and objects from the last decade to reuse today. Dirty, greasy, sweaty, it's a work hard, play hard style.
The Boiler Bar is what blue collar out of work down on their luck Bay Area artist decided to do with their spare time and last dollar. Come by and share our delight of the sparkle in the dust of this golden age of petroleum. Drink our hooch and watch the girls sing and dance their way to you heart, then be dazzled by the labor of men spent in seconds in glorious aerial and earthly displays of plenty. And as always ravers and DJ's are welcome to talk.
(Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Shannon O'Hare of the Neverwas and Jon Sarriugarte of Boiler Bar. And big thanks to BBV guest host Aaron Muszalski and our field producer and shooter Eddie Codel.)