Scale model of a war-torn WWII town built and photographed by brain-damaged beating victim

Mark Hogancamp was beaten into a "brain-damaging coma" by five men outside a bar. After he awoke, he devoted himself to building "Marwencol," a 1/6th scale WWII town, in his back yard: "Mark populated the town he dubbed 'Marwencol' with dolls representing his friends and family and created life-like photographs detailing the town's many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helped Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds from the attack. Through his homemade therapy, Mark was able to begin the long journey back into the 'real world', both physically and emotionally - something he continues to struggle with today."

The level of detail is amazing, and heart-wrenching, and sometimes just plain weird and disturbing. But it's also wonderful -- both as a display of sheer craft and dedication, and as a monument to a difficult and painful recovery.

Marwencol (Thanks, Lookforthewoman)

NZ MPs reject software patents

Colin sez, "In New Zealand, Select Committees (cross-party groups of MPs) are part of the law-making process. The committee considering revisions to patent law has come out against software patents, saying that software patents can stifle innovation and competition, and can be granted for trivial or existing techniques."

See you in Seattle this weekend at Norwescon!

I'm headed to Seattle this weekend to be one of the guests of honor at Norwescon, along with (among others), Vernor Vinge. If you're in Seattle and you can make it, I'd love to say hi! Here's my programming schedule for the event:

Read the rest

EFF, AT&T and Google all on the same side of this privacy fight

Here's a turn-up for the books: AT&T, Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and many others have formed a pro-privacy coalition that's asked Congress for updates to wiretapping laws to close loopholes that make it easy to listen in on "Web 2.0" without a warrant: "the current electronic privacy laws are woefully outdated and must be updated to provide clear privacy protections that reflect the always-on, location-enabled, Web 2.0 world of the 21st century." (EFF is suing AT&T over its complicity in the Bush-era illegal NSA wiretapping, and has filed an objection to Google's Book Search settlement on privacy grounds -- it says something that all three organizations agree on the need for this update to privacy law)

LibDems won't support Digital Economy Bill at all

W00t! After pressure from party members, MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates, the UK Liberal Democrats have unequivocally withdrawn support for the Digital Rights Bill, a sweeping, 24,000+ word bill that the Labour government are trying to push through Parliament with only a few hours' debate. Previously, the LibDems had supported the idea of the bill going into "wash up" (a streamlined procedure for passing laws without detailed scrutiny or public debate), provided that controversial proposals (such as kicking families off the net if they were accused of infringement) would be referred to another process later on. After public outcry from within the party, the front-bench changed its mind, and the party whip has said, "I have told the Govt we won't support the Digital Economy Bill as drafted. There is not enough time for MPs to examine it in detail." Well done, LibDems!

Lib Dems to fight Digital Economy Bill over 'wash-up'

Profile of a 19-year-old chess champion: chess and madness

"Chess should not become an obsession. Otherwise there's a danger that you will slide off into a parallel world, that you lose your sense of reality, get lost in the infinite cosmos of the game. You become crazy."—19-year-old chess champion Magnus Carlsen. (thanks, Susannah)

Horse-drawn Hummer


Artist Jeremy Dean converted a Hummer H2 into a horse-drawn carriage "to show just how screwed and unsustainable the auto industry has become." Glen E. Friedman has more, including video.

Leonard Baskin: Lepidoptera Fantastica


Ian J. Kahn of antiquarian booksellers Lux Mentis got a hold of some extremely rare books by Leonard Baskin, who is best known as a sculptor. Link to a large-size scan of the image in this post, and here's a larger gallery. The collection will be on display at an upcoming antiquarian book fair in NYC, April 9-11.

A Day in Paris: short film by Benoit Millot

Filmmaker BenoƮt Millot brought this lovely, dreamy live-action + 3D animated short film to my attention, and I'm so glad he did. Sort of a trippy, shoegazey Up in the Air meets Transformers. Been out a couple months, but new to me. Shot on a Canon 7D Mark I, and it shows. Music: Electric President "I'm Not The Lonely Son." (Amazon).

A Day in PARIS (Vimeo)

Psychiatrist famed for electroshock as "cure" for homosexuality busted on sex abuse charges

The Canadian psychiatrist nicknamed "Dr. Shock" for his penchant for electroshock treatment as a "cure" for homosexuality among military recruits has been charged with sexually assaulting a male patient. Not a shock. (via Newser)

A serious look at physics in "Hot Tub Time Machine"

Over at io9, an physicist takes a serious look at the physics behind Hot Tub Time Machine. "Let the harrumphing begin!" Includes spoilers. Science aside, I saw the movie over the opening weekend, and laughed a lot. Recommended. Cusack will soon join us here as guestblogger, BTW. (thanks, Wilson Rothman)

Child victim of human trafficking in India consoles distraught Lindsay Lohan

Celebrity advocacy fail: an Indian girl, head shaved, rescued from child trafficking and from the street, is explaining to Lindsay Lohan while BBC documentary cameras roll that her mom and dad used to beat her unless she went out each day to earn money...
lindsay-lohan-001.jpg [B]ut it's hard to concentrate on what she's saying because what's happening behind her is so distracting. Lohan is rubbing her already-red eyes, spreading mascara around the place, twitching her eyebrows.

"Um. Um. Oh my God," the film star says, her lips wobbling uncontrollably. A disembodied hand pops into the screen to pass her a tissue. "Um. How did she feel? Um. How did they treat her?" she asks, beginning to sob.

The small girl turns to look at her in bemusement. The translator gives an embarrassed laugh and says to the girl: "She's crying for you. Why don't you comfort her?" So we watch as the puzzled child dutifully strokes Lohan's long mane of golden hair. "Oh my God! Oh my God!" Lohan says, with a husky gasp. "Sorry, I'm having a moment." Mercifully, the camera is then switched off.

Lindsay Lohan's misplaced tears (Guardian, via Aid Watch; thumbnail from photo by BBC/Blakeway Productions. )

Cops' repeated tasering of pregnant woman is okay, says court

A federal appeals court in Seattle ruled this week that three policemen in Seattle did not use excessive force when they tasered Malaika Brooks, a "visibly pregnant woman," multiple times after she refused to sign a speeding ticket. Refusing to sign a ticket is something south of a non-arrestable misdemeanor in the state.

Serving sizes in Last Supper paintings have supersized over the ages

The size of food portions depicted in "Last Supper" paintings over the years has steadily grown, like our waistlines. (via William Gibson)

Bulgarian political scandal over Facebook game Farmville

"A scandal has erupted in the City Council of Bulgaria's Plovdiv as several councilors have been caught milking virtual cows on the Facebook application Farmville. The councilors were first detected playing Farmville two weeks ago during the debates for Plovdiv's 2010 budget." Busted! (via Julian Dibbell)