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Propaganda posters from WWII

Ben Cosgrove says: "As Tuesday's the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII, I decided to put together a gallery of some of the most intense propaganda posters and flyers I could find, just to remind LIFE visitors that, whatever one thinks of the war itself, there's no denying that some of the graphic art that came out of it was AMAZING."

In war and in peace -- but especially in war -- governments everywhere resort to propaganda, which at its simplest and starkest often takes the form of outrageous posters: occasionally beautiful, sometimes racist, and often brutally jarring. This, for example, is how the Nazis wanted occupied Holland to see America and Americans in 1944 -- as a Frankenstein's monster of warmongering racists, jazz-crazed degenerates, and money-mad gangsters.
Propaganda posters from WWII

Parts Nebula: a parts-tracking inventory system for makers

Bre sez,
At MakerBot Industries, we've been selling more and more MakerBots and we needed an inventory tracking system so that we could keep track of all the different parts of the machine and know what we have and where it is. Keeping inventory and making lists of parts for a project turns out to be really important for open source hardware folks because it lets you share what it is you're doing and leaves breadcrumbs for others to build on. It turns out that it's really handy to be able to share lists of parts, part numbers, and suppliers so that other people can build on the shoulders of your accomplishments.

Zach pulled together the Parts Nebula as part of Thingiverse, our digital design and project sharing website. If you're like me, half the time you're making something, you're pretty sure that you've got a certain part but you don't know where it is and so you have to buy another one. Well, this parts management system pretty much fixes that. Go forth and document your parts drawer full of junk and then make something with it and share the project!

Thingiverse: Parts Nebula Discovered (Thanks, Bre!)

Future of Music summit, DC, Oct 4-6

Casey from the Future of Music Coalition sez:

It's been nearly a decade since the digital music genie burst out of its bottle, changing the game for virtually everyone in the music ecosystem. Future of Music Policy Summit 2009 features practical, musician-focused workshops, keynotes from leading artists, managers and policymakers and inspired panel discussions with the sharpest minds in the music/technology/policy space.

Among the ranks of stellar speakers and panelists are:

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN), who will speak about net neutrality.

Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify -- the potentially game-changing music service that's sweeping Europe and generating incredible buzz in America, where the service is expected to launch this year.

Brian Message -- a partner in Courtyard Management, the team that represents Radiohead, Supergrass and the 22-20s.

Throughout the Summit, prominent musicians from a variety of genres will also give their direct thoughts about how they're adapting to an increasingly networked (and noisy) world. Artist participants in Policy Summit 2009 include jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, Wayne Kramer of MC5, Dave Allen of Gang of Four and Mac McCaughan, co-owner of Merge Records and member of Superchunk and Portastatic.

Music, Technology, Policy and Law Go Back to the Future

Computer repair flowcharts - Boing Boing Gadgets

On Boing Boing Gadgets, our Steven's found a goldmine of computer repair flowcharts:

From Morris Rosenthal's Computer Repair with Diagnostic Flowcharts. Bonus: On his site, the charts are interactive, so clicking on a diamond jumps you to the text for each decision step.
Computer Repair Flowchart

Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets

Canadian Copyright Consultation submission from Tucows and David Weinberger

Canada's copyright consultations are rapidly drawing to a close (you still have time to get your comments in) and the excellent folks at Canadian Internet giant Tucows (who also own Domain Direct and other tech businesses) have hired David Weinberger (author of Everything is Miscellaneous, Small Pieces, Loosely Joined, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto) to write a plain-language, brilliantly argued submission. Weinberger explains how moderate copyright is better for creativity than the pervasive system favored by the American entertainment cartel.
Even within any one class of incentive, the effect of money on creativity is rarely a straight line. Mordechai Richler would not have written four times as many books if his advances had been four times larger. The Guess Who might be tempted to release more recycled compilations if you pay them enough money, but their songs would not have gotten 1% better for every 1% their revenues went up. Thus, while copyright may provide a financial incentive that enables many creators to create, stronger copyright that results in more money does not necessarily result in more creativity.

In fact, how long would it take you to list the bands that have gotten worse as they've gotten richer?

For the most important creative cultural works, money is an enabler but not the reason the person is putting pen to paper, chisel to stone, or camcorder to eye socket. There are so many other reasons people create -- from G-d whispering to them, to a neurological itch that can't otherwise be scratched, to wanting to get laid. Copyright could do its job -- facilitate an innovative, sustainable culture -- if it aimed merely at enabling creators to create, rather than thinking that the creativity-to-financial-reward curve is a straight line angled at 45 degrees.

Now, there would be no problem with setting up a system of laws that overemphasizes the financial incentives for creators if that system had no other effects. But it does, especially now that culture and economics have slipped the bonds of the old physics. Even if we devised a copyright law that provided the absolutely right amount of incentive for every creator to keep on creating, it takes more than motivated creators to build a creative, innovative culture.

It takes culture. It takes culture to build culture.

Copyright's Creative Disincentive (Thanks, Elliot!)

Disney/Marvel mashups

The Super Punch blog is collecting the inevitable Marvel/Disney mashups that have appeared online since the Disney/Marvel acquisition was announced yesterday. Shown: Serge Kliavaing's Mickey Venom.

More Disney/Marvel mashups, Disney/Marvel mashups (Thanks, John!)

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The Soul Rock Sound of PP Arnold Link

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Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner: The 2000 Year Old Man on video! Link

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Howie Tsui's Asian/Western horror paintings

Ottawa artist Howie Tsui paints fantastical, evil, and beautiful landscapes of monsters, ghosts, demons, and deities. He tells me that his new large paintings, "Horror Fables," are in the form of Ming Dynasty scrolls and were influenced by "a variety of dark subjects, including Asian ghost stories, Buddhist hell scrolls, Hong Kong vampire films, neo-conservative propaganda, and twentieth-century genocides such as the Nanking massacre." Howie Tsui

Tiny I-SWARM robots

Over at BB Gadgets, Steven has the details on these I-SWARM robugs. They're 4 mm long, wide, and tall and solar-powered. Swarm Bots: Now W/Solar Power, Complex Behaviors!

Audio history of the psycograph, automated phrenology machine

 Psycograph Psyco-0 Seen here is the Psycograph, an automated phrenology device from the early 1900s. Of course, phrenology was the idea that you could glean great knowledge about someone's personality based on the shape of their skull. (More Psycograph ad images scanned by John Karp are here.) Over at MindHacks, Vaughan points to this fun audio documentary on the Psycograph, from the podcast series This Week in the History of Psychology.
MP3: David Baker on the psycograph, the 1930s' automatic phrenologist

Did Google Street View spot rapist/kidnapper Garrido?

#9: Garrido's van?

A followup on this earlier BB post about the wacko blog and gadget hallucinations of kidnapper/rapist (now also a murder suspect) Phillip Garrido.

Weighing in on that post, an astute BB commenter noticed that if you do a Google Maps search for 1554 Walnut Avenue, Antioch, CA -- the address of the Antioch home where Garrido detained Jaycee Dugard (and her children, fathered by rape) -- you can see an overhead view of all the tents, tarps and sheds that Garrido's parole officer(s) and local police were too incompetent to bother checking, despite the fact that the guy was a convicted rapist. The overhead view in Google Maps has since been widely reported and blogged, so that's old news 4 days later.

But not this. Check out what another commenter noticed. When you're at that address in Google Maps, switch over to Street View mode. You'll see something chilling. Right in the 1554 Walnut Avenue driveway, you see a beat-up van with a rusty, trashed exterior, and what looks like a man behind the steering wheel. Follow the van.

Read the rest

Profile of skeptical guru James Randi

Saint of Skepticism James Randi is profiled in the current issue of the SF Weekly. The reporter attended Randi's annual Las Vegas conference, the Amazing Meeting, which sounds like a cult revival for unwavering disbelievers and anti-Forteans. From the SF Weekly:
Randidididi Randi has debunked more than 100 psychics and faith healers in a quest to rid the world of hucksters. It also makes him the subject of scorn among purveyors of the paranormal, true believers who say Randi has made himself rich, pulling in nearly $200,000 a year from his foundation, at the expense of others' careers. His foundation has been hemorrhaging money, and Randi, who has spent his career challenging the notion of an afterlife, now faces his own mortality. He has intestinal cancer and may not have long to live. He has been a commanding presence for four decades, but it's unclear who could fill his role as the face of the skeptic community...

The James Randi Foundation put together its first skeptics' conference in 2003. That first year in Fort Lauderdale, the event drew just 150 attendees. In the years since, it has grown to become the largest gathering of critical thinkers, doubters, heretics, and nonbelievers in the world. More than 1,100 conferees paid about $300 each for admission this year. They come to hear some of the most famous voices in critical thinking – Adam Savage, San Francisco–based cohost of the Discovery Channel's MythBusters; Bill Prady, cocreator of CBS' The Big Bang Theory – and to discuss Randi's favorite topic, skeptical inquiry, a discipline devoted to debunking psychics, faith healers, con artists, and ghost whisperers through the holy miracle of old-fashioned science.

The Amazing Meeting attendees are mostly white males with glasses, facial hair, and a healthy appreciation of physics and Monty Python. They come from as far away as Australia and Japan. There are college students, bloggers, and rambunctious computer scientists. In the halls of the conference, they banter about the psychological phenomenon known as "the ideomotor effect," the pseudoscience behind the instant sommelier (a contraption that can supposedly age wine to perfection in 30 minutes), and – a favorite conversation topic – getting wasted at the hotel bar.
"The Demystifying Adventures of the Amazing Randi"

The pleasure of reading stories that don't bore

"A good story is a dirty secret that we all share," Lev Grossman writes in "Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard, his essay in the August 29 edition of The Wall Street Journal. Grossman, the book critic at Time and author of The Magicians and Warp, believes that a strong emphasis on storytelling will once again becoming important in novels, after having been cast aside as being "disgraceful" for the last several decades. That's good news, he says, because novels without a strong plot, for the most part, suck.

Which is probably why millions of adults are cheating on the literary novel with the young-adult novel, where the unblushing embrace of storytelling is allowed, even encouraged. Sales of hardcover young-adult books are up 30.7% so far this year, through June, according to the Association of American Publishers, while adult hardcovers are down 17.8%. Nam Le's The Boat, one of the best-reviewed books of fiction of 2008, has sold 16,000 copies in hardcover and trade paperback, according to Nielsen Bookscan (which admittedly doesn't include all book retailers). In the first quarter of 2009 alone, the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer, sold eight million books. What are those readers looking for? You'll find critics who say they have bad taste, or that they're lazy and can't hack it in the big leagues. But that's not the case. They need something they're not getting elsewhere. Let's be honest: Why do so many adults read Suzanne Collins's young-adult novel The Hunger Games instead of contemporary literary fiction? Because The Hunger Games doesn't bore them.

All of this is changing. The revolution is under way. The novel is getting entertaining again.

Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard Work

Dick Cheney, proud torturer.

Picture 32.jpg

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney proclaimed once again over the weekend that he believes torture applied to war-on-terror detainees in U.S. custody after 9/11 worked brilliantly to reveal terror plots -- this despite testimony to the contrary from a CIA investigator who looked into the details of these abusive interrogations.

Snip from Washington Post item by John Amick:

Cheney's statements come six days after the release of a 2004 CIA Inspector General report (pdf) that documents a litany of interrogation tactics used on detainees, including waterboarding, "walling," face-slapping and at least one mock execution. Cheney's views, though, contradict those of former CIA inspector general John Helgerson, who wrote in the report that there is no proof that such techniques were responsible for reliable information that helped in foiling terror plans.

"I'm very proud of what we did in terms of defending the nation for the last eight years successfully," Cheney said of the Bush administration's post-9/11 terror strategy on "Fox News Sunday." Cheney says he stands behind the interrogation tactics and is convinced the use of those practices were "directly responsible for keeping America safe for eight years."

Cheney: 'I'm Very Proud of What We Did' (Washington Post via Dan Gillmor)

Read this related NYT article, too: A.C.L.U. Lawyers Mine Documents for Truth

Image: excerpt from the table of contents for the 2004 CIA Inspector General report (PDF).

Notes from Marine embed in Afghanistan: Noah Shachtman of Wired "Danger Room" blog.


Defense technology reporter Noah Shachtman says, "I've just finished a fascinating embed with the marines of 2/8 Echo company in Helmand province. They've been fighting the Taliban nearly non-stop for eight weeks, in one of the war's most active battlegrounds. Here is one of the stories I wrote last week while I was with Echo. It's an inside account of a sniper team's hit on a group of militants -- and the marines' multiple brushes with death, during the mission."

Links to Noah's stories for Wired while on embed in Afghanistan:

* Echo Company in the Eye of the Storm
* The Taliban Push Back
* And related posts by Noah on Afghanistan and Pakistan here.

Related BB post: US military cancels contract with firm that graded journalists' "positiveness"

Cool scene from dance show: Shadowland

Amazing dance scene from Pilobolus's SHADOWLAND: the "Transformation" excerpt.

Pilobolus is a "nonprofit modern dance theater obsessed with experimental digital media."

The show opens in Madrid on September 15. Can't wait until it comes to Los Angeles!