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Rube Goldberg vs. Testicles Link

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Record company embraces use of its music in YouTube wedding video, makes money

The video of a couple's awesome dance-number wedding entrance I posted last week featured Chris Brown's song "Forever," used without permission. Instead of suing or having the video taken down, Brown's label opted to add a link to buy the track to the page. And made a truckload of money.

So many of the record industry giants are publicly traded companies. Why aren't their shareholders howling for more stuff like this -- which actually makes money -- and less pointless Grand Guignols to extract a couple grand from some hapless teen, alienating a future customer and her family and friends for life?

This traffic is also very engaged -- the click-through rate (CTR) on the "JK Wedding Entrance" video is 2x the average of other Click-to-Buy overlays on the site. And this newfound interest in downloading "Forever" goes beyond the viral video itself: "JK Wedding Entrance" also appears to have influenced the official "Forever" music video, which saw its Click-to-Buy CTR increase by 2.5x in the last week.

So, what does all of this mean? Despite compelling data and studies around consumer purchasing habits, many still question the promotional and bottom-line business value sites like YouTube provide artists. But in the last week, over a year after its release, Chris Brown's "Forever" has again rocketed up the charts, reaching as high as #4 on the iTunes singles chart and #3 on Amazon's best selling MP3 list. We've seen similar successes in the past with partners like Monty Python.

I now pronounce you monetized: a YouTube video case study

Call for submissions for an event to honor Toronto's venerable, shuttered Pages Books

Evan from Toronto's Coach House Books sez, "After three decades in business, indie bookstore Pages Books and Magazines is shutting its doors on August 31, but not without a proper farewell from Toronto. On Tuesday, September 8, 'Afterword: A Celebration of 30 Years,' will bring together friends and family of Pages to share their stories and images, which we're asking you to submit for consideration for the event."

For the past thirty years, Pages Books & Magazines has been a place where the culturally engaged citizens of Toronto met one another, conspired, fell in love, debated aesthetics and, occasionally, bought books. Skyrocketing rent, not a drop in sales, has forced Proprietor Marc Glassman to close his iconic indie shop at Queen and John streets on August 31, 2009.

We are collecting material to be presented at 'Afterword: A Celebration Of 30 Years', an event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Coach House Books, Gladstone Hotel, NOW Magazine, Spacing Magazine, and This is Not A Reading Series, to be held at Gladstone Hotel on Sept 8. What has Pages Books meant to you? Tell us your tale. Do you have photos? We'd love to see them!


DEADLINE: August 24, 2009

Pages requests memories for send-off bash (Thanks, Evan!)

(Image: Matthew Kim)

Creepy Russian high-voltage towers

These beautiful high-voltage towers in Istra, Russia, near Moscow are the Experimental Grounds for High-Voltage Generation. They still light up and fire streaks of lightning into the night.

Creepy High Voltage Installations (Thanks, Bill!)

(Image: Master Z Great)

Matrix Online goes out with a party, not a whimper

Sony Online's multiplayer game The Matrix Online is now dead, as of yesterday. But rather than simply announcing that they were pulling the plug and then watching the players dwindle away as D-day approached, Sony decided to work the shutdown into the storyline of the game, changing the game's graphics so that they decayed and crumbled. The last weeks of The Matrix Online were a party, with all players -- past and present -- invited along.

It's a rare institution that contemplates its own orderly demise. Think of all the clubs and mailing lists and communities you've been a part of that have gone out with a whimper, bleeding out by drips, until there's nothing left. Kudos to Sony for giving a proper send-off to a place that so many people had loved and played in.

This week is the last week for The Matrix Online and all former subscribers are welcomed to come back to play one final time before the machines pull the plug for good. The Matrix crashes on July 31st, so be sure to be logged in on that day to be assaulted by pretty much everyone and everything until everyone's RSI is smashed into a tiny, tiny ball.
Reminder: Check out The Matrix Online before it decompiles (via Wonderland)

How to avoid ads in Gmail (or not)

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Someone called Joester is purporting to show us how to block out gmail ads by using magic words in email messages, such as 9/11 or "suicide."  In other words, the ads that appear when your email is catastrophe-free:

...are gone when the email you receive contains trigger words:
But it's not as easy as it sounds. Putting the key words in a signature file doesn't work; the ads return. Also, writes Joester:
If the message runs long google turns the ads back on. However, if you add another "sensitive" word they go off again. After extensive testing I've discovered you need 1 catastrophic event or tragedy for every 167 words in the rest of the email.
Questions remain. What are all the trigger words? How do you avoid scaring the people who receive your emails with your seemingly pointless references to incest and gang rape? More importantly, shouldn't this be more accurately described as a method for helping the people who you email who have gmail avoid ads?

Link (via Adlab)

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Atheist Summer Camp for Kids Offers “Godless” Alternative Link

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People Like Angry Car Faces. I Don't.

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

First off, I love cars, I own an odd one, and, thanks in part to Make: magazine, I've even raced them a little bit. That's why I've deluded myself into thinking my opinion on this has any relevance here at all. So, if you don't mind, indulge me.

Recently, a study showed that people tended to prefer cars with "angry" faces. Auto designers have known this for a while, as the vast majority of cars available today have "faces" (you know, the front end arrangement of headlights, grille, and shapes that we tend to read like a face) that are at least aggressive, and at most absolutely freaking livid. This is across the board, too-- from entry-level cars to minivans to expensive sports sedans-- they all look like pissed-off turtle robots. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the most notable ones (New Beetle, Mini) are modern updates of vintage designs.


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Electro-Mechanical Arcade Games

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

Before computers became small, cheap, and reliable enough for this purpose, people still had the desire to stand in front of armoire-sized cabinets, stare into a glass panel, and pretend to do things they normally didn't do, like kill aliens, drive like a madman, or work in a junkyard. The way they did these things was with wonderful, complicated electromechanical arcade games.

These electromechanical games are incredible contraptions, using every kind of trick-- projections, spinning drums, remotely articulated models, whirring discs, mirrors, lights-- to give the illusions of speed, action, explosions, distance, and more. Looking at them, it's amazing they worked so well in such a high-abuse public environment. These are real engineering gems, long gone, and very rare now. Luckily, there's a bunch of videos out there, since stills really don't do these justice: Speedway, Hill Climb, Invaders, Haunted House. Enjoy!

Oil well rule of thumb

From the Rules of Thumb website:
A deep oil well has the same proportions as a human hair ten feet long. -- Harold E. Haynes
Picturing an oil well

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Man on the Moon: Video of long lost musical by John Phillips Produced by Andy Warhol 1975 Link

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Blue Food Coloring Un-Paralyzes Rats

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

This article at National Geographic gives a good gist of what's going on: apparently, regular old blue food coloring, like the stuff you find in Gatorade or M&Ms, has been found to reduce spinal cord trauma and inflammation, leading to at least a partial reversal of paralysis, at least in some mice. And, unlike other treatments, there's no toxic effects.

And the best part? They turned blue! Now there's hope for anyone hoping to both regain use of paralyzed limbs and a desire to look like a really cold guy in a cartoon.


Susan Blackmore: "Genes, memes, and now what?"

Susan Blackmore, author of the excellent book The Meme Machine, has suggested that beyond genes and memes, there is a new evolutionary "replicator" on the scene. She doesn't have a name for it, but it's related to the difference she sees between memes and digital information. From New Scientist:
Memes work differently from genes, and digital information works differently from memes, but some general principles apply to them all. The accelerating expansion, the increasing complexity, and the improving interconnectivity of all three are signs that the same fundamental design process is driving them all. Road networks look like vascular systems, and both look like computer networks, because interconnected systems outcompete isolated systems. The internet connects billions of computers in trillions of ways, just as a human brain connects billions of neurons in trillions of ways. Their uncanny resemblance is because they are doing a similar job.

So where do we go from here? We humans were vehicles for the first replicator and copying machinery for the second. What will we be for the third? For now we seem to have handed over most of the storage and copying duties to our new machines, but we still do much of the selection, which is why the web is so full of sex, drugs, food, music and entertainment. But the balance is shifting.
"Evolution's third replicator: Genes, memes, and now what?"

Shrink: I will create a WoW guild of shrinks to treat WoW addiction

A London-based shrink named Dr Richard Graham wants to create an all-psychiatrist guild for World of Warcraft to treat "addiction" to the game, in the game. And he wants them all to get free accounts.
He has called on Blizzard Entertainment, the company that makes World of Warcraft, to waive or discount the costs associated with joining the game so that therapists can more easily communicate with at-risk players in their preferred environment.

"We will be launching this project by the end of the year. I think it's already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn't be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players," said Dr Graham.

"Of course one problem we're going to have to overcome is that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they're probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft.

"We may have to work at that if we are going to get through to those who play this game for hours at end."

Addiction therapists signing up to World of Warcraft (via Futurismic)

How-To: Rubber hose chair


This handsome chair looks like a prototype you'd find in the workshop of a mid-century furniture designer. Instructions are at Instructables.

How-To: Rubber hose chair