Boing Boing 

Wiki on using IT in curriculum

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."

Educational Origami (Thanks, Mom!)

Where Euro Parliament candidates stand on digital rights

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.
Do Your MEP Candidates Agree with ORG? (Thanks, Glyn!)

Recently on Offworld

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Recently on Offworld we took a longer look at Bonsai Barber, the WiiWare debut game from Martin Hollis (former project lead on the Nintendo 64's GoldenEye 007) and his team at Zoonami. It's precisely what it sounds like: a mashup of zen-gardening and that traditional daily social life revolving around the barbershop, and smarter than you might think -- truly one of WiiWare's finest. Elsewhere we dug up a fantastic iTunes visualizer based on DS favorite music game Rhythm Heaven, heard the first details of what Id has in store for its multiplayer-enabled iPhone version of Doom, saw the ghost-trapping abilities of the DSi's first augmented reality game, and saw World of Goo creators 2D Boy releasing their open-source rapid prototyping framework into the wild for other indie game creators. We also peeked into two developer studios with 2 Player Productions -- the company behind chiptune documentary Reformat the Planet -- visiting inFamous studio Sucker Punch, and Simon Parkin posting a photo set of his trip to Parappa the Rapper dev NanaOn-Sha, and saw the latest NES rom flier for NYC chiptune showcase Pulsewave. And our 'one shot's for the day: Devo wards off space invaders, who then invade Madrid, LittleBigPlanet's 2000AD crossover has a trouser malfunction, a broken Konami Code leads to a life of smothering darkness, and the evolution of BioShock 2's Big Sisters.

Swiss Writing Knife

(Rudy Rucker is a guestblogger. His latest novel, Hylozoic, describes a postsingular world in which everything is alive.)

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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.

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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.

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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!

BB Video - Boiler Bar: Oilpunk Creations + Sexy Burlesque Gyrations


(Download / Watch on YouTube) Today's Boing Boing Video episode is a special pre-Maker Faire warmup extravaganza: the oil-punk creations and sexy burlesque gyrations of the Boiler Bar. Creator and host Jon Sarriugarte (who I first met through SRL) explains:

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.

They'll be at Maker Faire this weekend, and Dorkbot very soon. Here's the Golden mean fan club on facebook for our email list for upcoming shows.

Also in this episode: The snail car! a real-live blacksmith! Who also happens to be a chick! And the Neverwas Runabout, cousin to the giant Neverwas Haul! All of this and more awaits this weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area 2009. Image below courtesy dharmabum90: the Neverwas Haul, being towed by a 90-year-old steam-powered tractor.

Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video.

(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.)

Errol Morris on frauds and fakes

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Errol Morris' New York Times essays about film, art, and photography are always astounding. He just let me know that he's posted the first in a seven-part series about frauds and fakes for the New York Times' ZOOM blog. This one is about the Vermeers forger Han van Meegeren, who is the subject of two recent books: Edward Dolnick’s The Forger’s Spell and Jonathan Lopez’s The Man Who Made Vermeers.
Over two years after Van Meegeren’s arrest, he was put on trial in Amsterdam. On Oct. 29, 1947, The Times reported the following:

Hans van Meegeren (sic), the Dutch painter who shocked the art world by foisting a series of false Vermeers, Pieter de Hoghs and other old masters on experts, finally was placed on trial in District Court here today. He pleaded guilty and the state demanded a sentence of two years’ imprisonment. The charge on which Van Meegeren was arraigned specified that he sold works bearing the spurious signatures of famous artists. It was not a simple case of forgery, inasmuch as the defendant created the works after the style of the seventeenth century masters, without actually copying any of their canvases…

And then on Nov. 12, The Times reported that Van Meegeren had been sentenced to a year in prison. Asked outside the courtroom for his reaction to the sentence, Van Meegeren simply said, “I think I must take it as a good sport.”

(UPDATE: Part 2 is up, which is an interview with Edward Dolnick about how the "Uncanny Valley" applies to forgeries.)

Bamboozling Ourselves, Part 1, by Errol Morris

Basil Wolverton's Bible: the putting the grotesque into the Old Testament

Last month, I discovered that underground grotesque comics virtuosoBasil Wolverton had produced a series of Biblical illustrations, collected by Fantagraphics in a volume called The Wolverton Bible. Fantagraphics were kind enough to send me a review copy of the book and all I can say is "Holy cats!"

Wolverton wasn't just a funnybooks illustrator: he was also a member of a millenarian evangelical church called the Worldwide Church of God, a sect that believed in obeying Old Testament lifestyle laws and the literal truth of Revelations. So it was natural that Wolverton ended up with a regular, paid gig illustrating a series of Bible stories for kids and adults published in the Church's magazines like Plain Truth and in booklets with titles like Prophecy and The Book of Revelations, overseen by Church leader Herbert Armstrong, who had converted Wolverton to his faith.

Wolverton appears to have had little trouble squaring his faith with his legendary grotesque drawings (his notorious Life Magazine spoof for MAD was so freaky it inspired legal threats) -- he felt that the secular was secular, and could be lighthearted and weird as you wanted -- but he was also clearly a believer in the gravitas of the faith, as can be seen from these drawings.

Wolverton and Armstrong wanted to create a set of illustrated Bible stories that went beyond the whitewashed, cheerful kids' books of the day, to show the Old Testament for what it is: a book full of blood, thunder and revenge. Accordingly, Wolverton's illustrations, done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight.


The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen. Goliath is a horrific giant cyclops; the drowning sinners trying to claw their way onto Noah's Ark are caught in flashbulb moments of terror and agony; Saul's army rends the raw meat of their slaughter as they try to avoid starvation; the mutilated corpses of Baanah and Rechab dangle from nooses in Hebron; the boiled heads of donkeys emerge from the cooking pot as starving Israelites look on with hungry eyes; Daniel's horned beast crushes a mountain of screaming men and women as it stalks the land; and in Revelations, the rains of fire, floods and famine lay waste to cities as horribly burned famine victims scream and claw at their flesh.

And the Passover story, of course, gets its own grisly treatment. This isn't your grandfather's Haggadah, is what I'm trying to say.

This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful.

The Wolverton Bible

Mad Prophet (blog post with nice scans from the book)


Economist waterboards Geithner in effigy

Rogue economist Max Keiser writes, "Max Keiser is on the edge of the financial news where future financial scandals, market crashes and monetary crises begin. Be there before it happens: On the Edge with Max Keiser. I've got Alex Jones lined up for next week - should be pretty interesting Anyone watching the show should get some psychic satisfaction as I symbolically water Timothy Geithner on the show this week. I used a doll dressed up like a pirate or 'banker' as pirates are called in the U.S. The emphasis on prosecuting the harshest criminals in America should really be focused on the Fed and the Treasury. Clearly, they have abandoned any pretense of any sort of system of checks and balances for the banking system and are simply aiding and abetting the continued fleecing of America in ways that Bin Laden could only dream about if he were still alive. "

On the Edge with Max Keiser - Bond crisis? IMF? China? . . . Tune in

USA, Canada and the EU attempt to kill treaty to protect blind people's access to written material

Update: Victory! -- the treaty proposal survived this meeting and will be back on the agenda at the next one. We've got a couple months to lobby our governments and make sure that the next time they show up, they don't embarrass us by opposing this.

Right now, in Geneva, at the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world's copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.

At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn't want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it's possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?

The USA, that's who. The Obama administration's negotiators have joined with a rogue's gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU.

Update: Also opposing rights for disabled people: Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.

Update 2: Countries that are on the right side of this include, "Latin American and Caribbean region including (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Jamaica) as well as Asia and Africa."

Update 3: Canada is upset with me. That's fine, I'm upset with Canada.

Activists at WIPO are desperate to get the word out. They're tweeting madly from the negotiation (technically called the 18th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) publishing editorials on the Huffington Post, etc.

Here's where you come in: this has to get wide exposure, to get cast as broadly as possible, so that it will find its way into the ears of the obscure power-brokers who control national trade-negotiators.

I don't often ask readers to do things like this, but please, forward this post to people you know in the US, Canada and the EU, and ask them to reblog, tweet, and spread the word, especially to government officials and activists who work on disabled rights. We know that WIPO negotiations can be overwhelmed by citizen activists -- that's how we killed the Broadcast Treaty negotiation a few years back -- and with your help, we can make history, and create a world where copyright law protects the public interest.

I am attending a meeting in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This evening the United States government, in combination with other high income countries in "Group B" is seeking to block an agreement to discuss a treaty for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities.

The proposal for a treaty is supported by a large number of civil society NGOs, the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the Blind in the US, the International DAISY Consortium, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), Bookshare.Org, and groups representing persons with reading disabilities all around the world.

The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities...

The opposition from the United States and other high income countries is due to intense lobbying from a large group of publishers that oppose a "paradigm shift," where treaties would protect consumer interests, rather than expand rights for copyright owners.

The Obama Administration was lobbied heavily on this issue, including meetings with high level White House officials. Assurances coming into the negotiations this week that things were going in the right direction have turned out to be false, as the United States delegation has basically read from a script written by lobbyists for publishers, extolling the virtues of market based solutions, ignoring mountains of evidence of a "book famine" and the insane legal barriers to share works.

Obama Joins Group to Block Treaty for Blind and Other Reading Disabilities

COPYRIGHT EXCEPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS

Twitter feed for #sccr18

PROPOSAL BY BRAZIL, ECUADOR AND PARAGUAY, RELATING TO LIMITATIONS AND EXCEPTIONS: TREATY PROPOSED BY THE WORLD BLIND UNION (WBU)

Pedro Paranaguá's notes in English and Brazilian Portuguese

Candyfab 6000: latest rev of 3D sugar-printer

Evil Mad Scientists Lab has a new iteration of their sugar-based 3D printer, the CandyFab 6000! This is my favorite 3D printing concept, bar none. Demented and sweet!

It's a brand new CandyFab-- still in beta. A clean break, designed from the ground up with almost no parts in common with the original, the CandyFab 4000. All new mechanics. All new electronics. All new software. Smaller but still big: the build volume is more than 10 liters, but it's now small enough to fit on a desk top...

The new modular electronics control platform is called Zuccherino-- that's italian for "Sugar cube." One Arduino-compatible circuit board per axis. (Our prototype above shows X,Y,Z, Heat, and Air axes, plus a master board.)

It's an expandable system for all kinds of motion control projects, and we'll be making kit versions of all of the Zuccherino boards later this summer.

We've also got new cross platform control software -- called CandyFabulous underway, and it's looking sweet.

The CandyFab 6000 (via Make)

Goofy British "future of phones" video from way back

Here's a wonderfully goofy old British phone-company video on the future of the phone and teleworking!

The perils of futurology

Michael Moorcock answers your questions!

Matt sez, "Got any questions for Michael Moorcock? Tachyon Publications just released a career spanning collection of this living legend's very best work, and to kick things off, we thought it would be fun to offer Boing Boing's readers a chance to interview the author. If you've ever wanted to ask him anything, now is your opportunity. Just leave your questions in this post's comments. Boing Boing's editors will then select the very best of the batch and forward them on to Moorcock. Just to make things fun, we'll give three lucky Boing Boing readers free copies of The Best of Michael Moorcock. "

The Best of Michael Moorcock (Thanks, Matt!)

Group reading of Elizabeth Bear's NEW AMSTERDAM

Dead Air sez, "At the Science Fiction Message Board we're preparing for another of our semi-regular "Group Book Reads", which is due to start in just a few days now. For a little bit of fun, we're deviating from the harder SF this time for a bit of alternate history. We've decided to choose the 2008 Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear - and the book of hers we'll be perusing together is New Amsterdam, a series of linked stories: six novelettes and novellas about Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett and Don Sebastien de Ulloa, who are, respectively, a forensic sorcerer and an amateur detective in a turn of the century contrafactual history set (mostly) on the East Coast of North America. But let the publisher's blurb work its magic on you:"
Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable--and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations.

Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature he has ever known. He was no longer young at the Christian millennium, and that was nine hundred years ago. He has forgotten his birth-name, his birth-place, and even the year in which he was born, if he ever knew it. But he still remembers the woman who made him immortal. He has everything, but a reason to live.

In a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where Holland finally ceded New Amsterdam to the English only during the Napoleonic wars, and where the expansion of the American colonies was halted by the war magic of the Iroquois, they are exiles in the new world--and its only hope for justice.

Summer 2009 Group Book Read: New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear (Thanks, Dead Air!)

Famous Swedish poet explains why he's voting for the Pirate Party

PaulR sez, "Swedish, poet, novelist and scholar Lars Gustafsson blogged his reasons for voting for the Pirate Party in the next Swedish election to the European Parliament, to be held on 7 June 2009."
Intellectual and personal integrity for the citizens, briefly speaking an internet that has not been transformed into a government channel by lobby-marinated courts and EU politicians in leashes, is arguably more important than the needs of a primarily industrial scene of literature and music, which is rapidly crumbling away already within the lifetime of the authors. The need of being read, of influencing, to formulate one's times, may but does not need to get in conflict with the wish to sell many copies. When the both needs are getting in conflict, the industrial interest must be put aside and the great intellectual sphere of the arts must be defended against threats.

The essential interest of artists and authors, given that they are intellectually and morally serious in hat they are doing, must certainly be to get read, to let their voice become heard in their generation. How that goal is attained, that is, how to reach the readers, is in this perspective of secondary importance.

The growing defence of the internet's expanded freedom of speech, of the immaterial civil rights, that we are now witnessing in country after country, is the start of an - just as the last time in the early 18th century - liberalism that is carried by technology and therefore emancipated.

Therefore, my vote goes to the Pirate Party.

Lars Gustafsson: "Why my vote goes to the Pirate Party" (English translation of today's text (Thanks, PaulR!)

EFF chairman makes a Downfall remix

Hugh from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "EFF Board Chair Brad Templeton has made a brilliant Downfall remix. The video is interesting not just for being funny, but also for the troubles Brad had creating it. In order to avoid any DMCA violations, he had to make it without circumventing encryption, which naturally led to multiple headaches. We have a short post on the EFF blog about what this says about the need for DMCA exemptions for remix artists"

Unfortunately for Brad, he found in making his parody that creating a fair use like this -- and doing so legally -- is not as easy as it ought to be. As a high profile advocate for digital rights, Brad naturally wants to avoid breaking any laws. And while fair use protects his parody from charges of copyright infringement, he wanted to ensure that he didn't accidentally violate other laws -- in particular the DMCA's prohibition on circumventing encryption.

This meant that Brad couldn't just rip a copy from the his own legally purchased DVD. Instead, just to be safe, he would have to make a copy of the film using the "analog hole," a form of copying that has been recognized by the courts as legally permissible.

When Fair Use Is Fairly Difficult

Hitler tries a DMCA takedown

(Thanks, Hugh!)

Renonymize, a 21st century verb

A verb for the 21st century:
Re-nonymize, or renonymize, V,. To discover, using data from an "anonymized" data set (a data set from which the explicit identifying data has been removed) which specific individuals generated the data. Usage: ". . . companies claim they're releasing an anonymous dataset, only to discover later that it's not so difficult to re-nomynize it."
Word of the Day: renonymize

NYC: Hackday around tangible interfaces June 6

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If you're in NYC next Saturday, Internet Week New York is hosting a global hackday around tangible interfaces. More info over at the Hackday site. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of this! From Hackday:
Lonycweekgo 2 In an open hackday for coders and makers, we expand the notion of digital software interfaces into the three-dimensional physical world. Using tangible objects and webcam tracking, we’ll work with the open-source Trackmate project and LusidOSC framework developed by the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab. We’ll experiment with new interfaces for music, live and interactive visuals, and the Web, as hackers attending try their own hardware and software projects. By the end of the day, we should have a collection of tangible interface projects. Participants should have a background in Java or Processing; for the complete project, check our site for a required bill of materials.

During the day, we’ll get together and make interfaces. Then, everyone will be welcome to come check out the results and learn how to make their own projects at a party in the evening. We’ll have live music and visual play with the new interfaces, plus a bit of Guitar Hero / music games to blow off steam.

Live global hacking: 11a-7p (arrive promptly for a quick mini-workshop / demo) Party: 7-9:30p
Hackday in NYC: Tangible Interfaces

Green-glowing marmosets

These are the hands of a marmoset, genetically engineered to glow green under ultraviolet light. The transgenic marmosets aren't the first primates to glow but are apparently the first that pass the genetic modification down to their offspring. The green-glowing marmosets, and other transgenic animals that glow, are used by scientists to gain insight into genetic diseases. Of course, some people aren't too thrilled with this kind of genetic engineering. In fact, tech-artist Eduardo Kac explored some of these hot topics with Alba, his "GFP Bunny" created in 2000. From the BBC News:
 Media Images 45831000 Jpg  45831411 Fig1A Erika Sasaki of the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Japan, and her colleagues, have introduced a gene into marmoset embryos that allows them to build green fluorescent protein (GFP) in their tissues.

The protein is so-called because it glows green in a process known as fluorescence.

GFP was originally isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, which glows green when exposed to blue light.

The protein has become a standard in biology and genetic engineering, and its discovery even warranted a Nobel prize.

From 91 embryos, a total of five GFP-enabled transgenic marmosets were born, including twins Kei and Kou ("keikou" is Japanese for "fluorescence").

Crucially, the team was able to show that their method is maintained in the family - or germline.
Glowing monkeys 'to aid research' (Thanks, Antinous!)

Digital Open: online tech expo for young people


BB pal and Institute for the Future colleague Jess Hemerly sends the following note about the Digital Open, an IFTF project now underway in partnership with Sun and Boing Boing! Jess writes:

Last year, Institute for the Future took an in-depth look at DIY culture with the Future of Making project, led by David Pescovitz. Working under the header "The way things are made is being re-made," we explored a dramatic shift in manufacturing and innovation, where we are moving from top-down, proprietary models to bottom-up and open ones. The maker movement grows larger every year, and with MAKE Magazine's Maker Faire in its fourth year, the momentum continues to push society to take a closer look at all things DIY. With President Obama's recent call to re-make America, more people are beginning to think about how they, too, can help to make the future.

But it's not just tech savvy adults getting into the DIY world. It's young people too, young people who want to play an active role in making their future. Working with technology in particular to create, improve, explore, or contribute to the world around us is a fantastic way to learn about how the world works--and understand how we might be able to make something work better. Young people who take an active interest in technological innovation are the makers of a foundation for a better future.

That's why The Digital Open, an Institute for the Future project in partnership with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing, is looking to capture the spirit of the future makers. We're looking for youth ages 17 and younger who are working with technology to create, improve, explore, or contribute to their world by submitting free & open technology projects in 8 categories ranging from sustainability to gaming, from media to science and education. We want to provide a forum for these young makers to show off their innovations and to find other makers like them. The Digital Open is the maker community of the future.

If you are a young person who loves to create things with technology, whether for fun or with the hope of becoming an entrepreneur one day, maybe even tomorrow, we want you! Or if you are an adult fortunate enough to work with bright young innovators, please encourage them to join us. Sign up at digitalopen.org or email info [at] digitalopen [dot] org for more information on how you can get involved.
Digital Open: An Innovation Expo for Global Youth

Collection of airline logos

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The Museum of Flight has a page collecting dozens of airline logos, current and old. Fascinating diversity of designs. Above left, Executive Jet Aviation ; above right, Compagnie Corse Mediterianne. (via Colour Lovers, thanks Tara McGinley!)

Flamed Cars

(Rudy Rucker is a guestblogger. His latest novel, Hylozoic, describes a postsingular world in which everything is alive.)

I've been fascinated by cars with flames ever since I was a kid poring over my big brother's hot rod magazines.

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[Photo by Don Marritz]

In 1973 I had a fairly generic white Ford that I painted flames on my myself. Here's a picture of me with the car and my daughter, Georgia, who's now a graphic designer of such books as the best-selling Twilight Movie Companion.

I did a hand-painted, amateur job on my flames--- not at all the way the pros do it---but it was fun. And, despite the dire warnings of my friends, I was still able to sell the car when I moved.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Show and Go car show in Riverside, California, which got me excited about flames all over again.

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I found a quintessential flame-car photo on the web today, it's this Merc Lead Sled shot, and it appears on John Filiss's "Serious Wheels" site, among other gems in the "Mercury Custom" section...just look under "M".

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Today I finished a painting on this theme, "Man in Flame Car." It's hard to pin down the guy's mood. (More info on my paintings page.)

Gareth gets magical in London

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Our pal Gareth Branwyn says:

Anybody who's been a captive audience of mine for more than a few minutes recently probably knows that I'm writing a novel. I've also mentioned it here on Boing Boing and elsewhere. It explores occult themes and has a main character who's obsessed with the idea of using modern multimedia technologies and ancient ritual techniques to create a theater experience that seriously alters the consciousness of her audience members. She was inspired by Aleister Crowley's attempt at doing ceremonial magick in a theatrical context in his 1910 Rites of Eleusis performances. As part of my research, I've looked at what other people have done in this area of mixing music, theater, ritual and magick. Sadly, most of it is horrible. Cringeworthy. Over time, certain people have captured and sustained my interest, people who seem to be exploring these ideas with a certain degree of rigor, and ya know, talent. And to my surprise and delight, it looks like they've all been rounded up and invited to The Equinox Festival in London the second weekend in June.

One of the multimedia artists working in this realm of ritual performance art and film is Raymond Salvatore Harmon. He can soon add festival organizing to his resume, as he's the man behind the Festival (along with Simon Kane, co-curator of The Salon performance events (with Jack Sargeant), and Andrew Hartwell, proprietor of Aurora Borealis records). Although it's a full-featured occult conference/festival, with an impressive roster of speakers, because it's organized by a multimedia artist, it's the music, film and performances that are unique and most interesting. Any of these program tracks would be worth the price of admission as far as I'm concerned. And as you'd expect, all of the performers concern themselves with occult/spiritual themes in their work. Some of the music includes: John Zorn, Z'ev, Burial Hex, TAGC (with Clock DVA's Adi Newton) and Æthenor. The festival will also see the return of the highly influential British prog folk group Comus, regrouping after a 37 year absence. They'll be performing their album "First Utterance" in its entirety. Closing the festival with be Peter Christopherson, of Throbbing Gristle and Coil, performing under his new moniker, Threshold House Boys Choir. The film track of the festival includes showings of Craig Baldwin's Mock Up On Mu, Paola Igliori's American Magus and The Seed of Joy, Harry Smith's Heaven and Earth Magic, Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain, Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, The Mindscape of Alan Moore, Ira Cohen's Kings with Straw Mats and Raymond's film YHVH.Speakers at the event include Boing Boing pal Erik Davis, psychedelics pioneer Ralph Metzner, chaos magician Philip Farber, Voudon Gnosis author David Beth, and Aaron Gach who readers of Arthur magazine will recognize as one of the lovable weirdos behind the Center for Tactical Magic.

200905281240 One of the other things that first caught my eye about this festival was the name Equinox, the subtitle, "A Festival of Scientific Illuminism," and its motto: "The Method of Science, The Aim of Religion." These are all Crowley references. The name of his magazine was The Equinox and it was subtitled "The Review of Scientific Illuminism" and that was its motto. It was this attempt at bringing even a moderate veneer of scientific rigor to spiritual investigation that first attracted me to Crowley (and to subsequent "followers" of his work, such as Robert Anton Wilson). I'm very anxious to see how much of that is in evidence here. It's certainly refreshing and different to at least see a summer music and arts festival that's not just about getting fucked up and flopping around in the mud (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you).

The Equinox Festival runs from June 12, 13, 14 and will be held at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London. The Friday night opening event will be at Camden Centre, Bidborough Street. I'll be doing several dispatches for Boing Boing from the Festival, and look forward to talking to Raymond and some of the other artists, speakers and attendees. So, stay tuned...

I'm also going to London to see a once-in-a-lifetime William Blake exhibit. The Tate is recreating his 1809 one-man show, mounted exactly 200 years ago. They've reunited all of the paintings that Blake had in the show. The show was a disaster and got savaged in the only review he received; the show was basically ignored by the public. The whole experience embittered Blake even more and made him withdraw further from public life. In my piece about Blake in MAKE, Volume 17, I talked about his invention of "illuminated printing," a then-radical technique for freeform relief-etching. This show features work done using another technique he invented which was far less successful, called "fresco painting," created with a mixture of tempera paint and carpenter's glue. Tragically, the materials used did not age well and those paintings that have survived are cracked and darkened. It'll be interesting to see the paintings done in this method up close and personal.

East German spy fired notorious shot that changed West German politics

The shot that changed German politics in 1967 was fired by an East German Stasi spy:
The killing in 1967 of an unarmed demonstrator by a police officer in West Berlin set off a left-wing protest movement and put conservative West Germany on course to evolve into the progressive country it has become today...

It is as if the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard had been committed by an undercover K.G.B. officer, though the reverberations in Germany seemed to have run deeper.

Spy Fired Shot That Changed West Germany (Thanks, Bill

Rape-camps lurk in the history of your gadgets

On Boing Boing Gadgets, this wrenching video in which Eve Ensler explains that Congolese militias use rape to enforce discipline among a slave workforce that mines columbite-tantalite ore, a common raw material for many devices.

"We create those atrocities through our consumption," says Ensler.

She is proposing that electronics manufacturers and their customers--us--began to concern themselves with the notion of "Rape-Free" products in which the raw, mineral components of consumer electronics are traced back to sources that can be verified to have procured them ethically. (She allows that "Rape-Free" is probably not a moniker that would be comfortable plastered on boxes and signs.)

It's without a doubt one of the most horrible but compelling things I've heard in a while. I've been considering a parallel notion lately about the shocking rate we're using a limited mineral supply to make what are essentially disposable bits of gadgetry. While I don't doubt that every effort will be made by profit-driven corporations to develop ways to produce goods even if rare minerals are fully depleted, the gulf between now and a future where minerals can be safely reclaimed and reused is fretfully wide.

Eve Ensler and "Rape-Free" Gadgets

Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets

Monkeybrains Can Antenna

(Rudy Rucker is a guestblogger. His latest novel, Hylozoic, describes a postsingular world in which everything is alive.)

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My son, Rudy Rucker, Jr., and his business partner Alex Menendez run Monkeybrains, an independent ISP (Internet Service Provider) in San Francisco. As well as more conventional clients, they use their two gigabytes-per-seconds to host such off-beat sites as Rotorbrain's hardware hacking blog, and the site for the Cyclecide Heavy Pedal Bike Rodeo.

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Here's a video interview of Rudy and Alex on the tenth anniversary of Monkeybrains..discussing how an indie internet biz can stay afloat.

Rudy's latest project involves building his own wireless can antennas, as described on Dorkbot.

Conference Board of Canada admits that its publicly funded, plagiarized, biased copyright "research" is junk

The Conference Board of Canada, a Canadian think-tank that was caught regurgitating a US lobby-group's press materials in a tax-funded report on the Digital Economy, has withdrawn its copyright-related reports, stating "these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada."

This is a major climb-down for the Conference Board, who refused to admit any wrongdoing after being caught plagiarizing materials from US copyright lobbyists, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, and even stood pat after it was revealed that they'd discarded and suppressed contradictory reports written by their own experts.

Statement from The Conference Board of Canada

The Conference Board of Canada has recalled three reports: Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy; National Innovation Performance and Intellectual Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis; and Intellectual Property Rights--Creating Value and Stimulating Investment. An internal review has determined that these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada.

Statement from The Conference Board of Canada (via Michael Geist)

BB Video: BIG YANK, a Weird '70s Jeans Ad (Oddball Film)


Today's episode of Boing Boing Video is a vintage 1970s television ad for a brand of jeans called "Big Yank." When I first watched it, I was immediately convinced that this ad was all about the giving of wedgies -- to one's self, to others, no matter! Wedgies, wedgies, wedgies. Or maybe the ad was about something even more inappropriate. At any rate, I thought it was funny.

The video comes to us as a special courtesy of Oddball Film and Video, a San Francisco-based firm that maintains a truly amazing and extensive archive of weird old moving images. They do regular screenings, too. BB Video will be bringing you more from their superbly surreal collections in the weeks to come.

Where to Find Boing Boing Video: RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video.

(Thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic, and to Robert Chehoski and Stephen Parr of Oddball Film + Video)

Boody Rogers: vintage comic is first-brewed weirdtea, Mark was right!


After reading Mark's review of Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers, I knew I had to read this thing. And I just did. And I'm reeling with it.

Boody Rogers, a contemporary of Tex Avery, Harold "Little Orphan Annie" Gray and Chester "Dick Tracy" Gould out-weirded any cartoonist, living or dead, for the bizarre design of his characters and the out-of-control situations he plonks them in. In reading this book, I kept seeing visual echoes of the many who clearly cribbed from Boody, from the characters in Monsters, Inc. to Tex Avery at his oddest. But this tasted like the original brew, first brewed from fresh leaves.

Babe is an immensely strong hillbilly lass who is destined to be a pro ball-player, provided her Mammy can keep her in lightning juice. Sparky Watts is a strongman who needs to be refreshed with cosmic rays or he shrinks to bug-size (his pals include a talking hat with feet and a pinhead whose feet have been swollen to immense size by cosmic rays, and naturally they loathe each other), Dudley is a be-bopper whose kid brother wants to use his records for target practice (and whose dialog runs to "Jumpin' Jack from Skaggerac!" and "'Lo from Buffalo! Crowd in, gang -- mom an' dad have gone to a movie -- let's start SLICING CARPETS!"). They all climb new pinnacles of lovable absurdity, as the words and pictures vie to see who can be more madcap.

This kind of comic makes me wish I was a time-traveller and could visit the era of its birth and read it every week.

Boody

Shop Class as Soulcraft

The New York Times Magazine ran an excerpt from Matthew B. Crawford's new book, Shop Class as Soul Craft. Crawford has a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He owns and operates a motorcycle repair shop.

His book is about the the importance of using your hands to make and repair things. He compares the kind of life many people in developed countries lead -- inside cubicles, working on things that are several levels removed from the physical world -- to a life of skilled labor that requires ingenuity and experience, and provides the kinds of challenges that human beings were made to relish.

I'm writing a book about the rewards of DIY, and Crawford's book really resonated with me.

Shopclass-As-Soulcraft-2 A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions. Further, there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to "keep things on track." I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

Shop Class as Soul Craft

UK Tory MP added a servant's wing to his house at taxpayers' expense

The latest installment in the British MP expense scandal, in which Members of Parliament have been revealed to have spent millions in "expenses" on things like having their moats cleaned, buying porn and/or tampons for their spouses, hiring private security guards, paying nonexistent mortgages, etc:

A Tory MP called Sir John Butterfill from Bournemouth West, Dorset used his expense account to add a servant's wing to his country house. At first he denied that these people were servants, calling them his "gardener and his wife," but later, he said, "the mistake I made was that, in claiming interest [from the expenses allowance] on the home, I didn't separate from that the value of the servants' ... er the staff ... wing. I claimed the whole of that and the whole of the council tax related to that."

He will repay £40,000 to cover the tax, after designating the property to the inland revenue as his main residence but designating it to the Commons authorities as his second home, allowing him to claim allowances.

As for the servants' quarters in Woking, Butterfill will be handing back £20,000.

Together, it will cost him a mere £60,000 to leave Westminster with a clean bill of health at the general election.

John Butterfill claimed £17,000 MPs' expenses for servants' ... er, staff quarters (Image: www.johnbutterfillmp.co.uk)