Hayley sez, "London's iconic comic shop Gosh! has outgrown their current home and are uprooting for the first time in 25 years for new, bigger premises on Berwick Street, Soho. Before they go, they're hosting a signing with the great bearded wizard Alan Moore (Watchmen) and Kevin O'Neill (Marshal Law) as a celebration of the launch of their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 and as a final goodbye wave to the precarious spiral staircase that so many people whinged about during Gosh!'s quarter century reign on Great Russell Street. More signings and events at the new place are soon to be announced."
Boing Boing fave and pioneering cult artists Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV) and beloved Other Half Lady Jaye (who passed away at 39 years old in 2007) are the subject of The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye. Director Marie Losier documents the loving relationship of the two soul mates and collaborators, focusing on their Pandrogyne project. As an expression of their love, the pair received simultaneous surgical procedures to merge into a third pandrogynous being. Update from Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: "It's really a love, LOVE letter to Jaye and all the casualties of the pain of bigotry and bias too many of us experience." [apologies for the inaccurate earlier description! -AJ]
Following the film, Thee Majesty will play a full set of their ambient soundscapes and spoken word, led by Genesis. This rare performance will blend poetry, performance with music improvisation, hypnotic loops and blistering noise. Sounds like a Boing Boing lullaby!
It might be time to cross another thing off the list of "Stuff That Only Humans Do." Some researchers think that a species of ants raise other animals (in this case, insects) for the sole purpose of eating those animals. If they're right, it's the first time that this behavior will have been documented in a species other than humans. (There are ants that "milk" other insects, but that's different.) (Via Rowan Hooper)
Make Magazine's just reprinted my column, "Moral Suasion," in its online edition. It's a discussion of the politics of cloud computing, including denial-of-service attacks against cloud providers who cave to government pressure:
I grew up in the antiwar movement and participated in my first sit-in when I was 12. Sit-ins are a sort of denial of service, but that's not why they work. What they do is convey the message: "I am willing to put myself in harm's way for my beliefs. I am willing to risk arrest and jail. This matters." This may not be convincing for people who strongly disagree with you, but it makes an impression on people who haven't been paying attention. Discovering that your neighbors are willing to be harmed, arrested, imprisoned, or even killed for their beliefs is a striking thing.
And that's a crucial difference between a DDoS and a sit-in: participants in a sit-in expect to get arrested. Participants in a DDoS do everything they can to avoid getting caught. If you want to draw a metaphor, DDoSers are like the animal rights activists who fill a lab's locks with super glue. This is effective at shutting down your opponent for a good while, but it's a lot less likely to draw sympathy from the public, who can dismiss it as vandalism.
Animals in the wild will also voluntarily and repeatedly consume psychoactive plants and fungi. Birds, elephants, and monkeys have all been reported to enthusiastically seek out fruits and berries that have fallen to the ground and undergone natural fermentation to produce alcohol. In Gabon, which lies in the western equatorial region of Africa, boars, elephants, porcupines, and gorillas have all been reported to consume the intoxicating, hallucinogenic iboga plant (Tabernanthe iboga). There is even some evidence that young elephants learn to eat iboga from observing the actions of their elders in the social group. In the highlands of Ethiopia, goats cut the middleman out of the Starbucks business model by munching wild coffee berries and catching a caffeine buzz.
But do we really know whether these animals like the psychoactive effects of the drug, or are they just willing to put up with them as a side effect of consuming a valuable food source? After all, fermented fruit is a tasty and nutritious meal. While it's hard to dissociate these motivations in animals, many cases suggest that the psychoactive effect is the primary motivator for consumption. Often, only a tiny amount of plant or fungus is consumed, so while its nutritional effect is minuscule its psychoactive effect is large
Perhaps the most dramatic example of nonnutritive animal intoxication is found among domesticated reindeer. The Chuckchee people of Siberia, who are reindeer herders, consume the bright red hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria as a ritual sacrament. Their reindeer also indulge. Having discovered the mushrooms growing wild under the birch trees, they gobble them up and then stagger around in a disoriented state, twitching their heads repeatedly as they wander off from the rest of the herd for hours at a time.
The Disney Parks blog is featuring some fine opening-year 1975 photos of the Wedway PeopleMover, a "mass transit system"-cum-ride in Tomorrowland that is affectionately called the "PeopleCrusher" after its propensity for squishing ill-advised riders who try to hop into oncoming cars. I've always loved the PeopleCrusher, and these photos do a great job of capturing its curvy, groovy, 1970s futuristic glory.
Eli Kintisch covers climate and energy issues for Science, the magazine sibling of the peer-reviewed journal of the same name. He's got an update on the situation at Los Alamos National Laboratory that explains a little more about why officials aren't terribly concerned that the nearby forest fire will affect barrels of nuclear waste stored at the site. Shorter version: There's already a firebreak between the fire and Los Alamos "Area G".
While the edge of the fire is only a few dozen meters from the edge of the lab's property, it is roughly 13 km from the most sensitive location, the so-called "Area G." That site is a 63-acre storage facility where thousands of drums of nuclear waste sit, many of which are outdoors.
But between the fire and that site is the remnants of a forest that was largely burned during a horrific 2000 fire on lab property. That fire burned "90%" of the flammable material [Note from Maggie: This is referring to wood, grass, etc. NOT nuclear waste.] from the west side of the lab, says Los Alamos retiree Charles Mansfield, who worked as a physicist at the lab for 17 years and also as a forest firefighter, a so-called smokejumper, for 11 years. Mansfield says he's "not very concerned" about the fire reaching spreading east to Area G.
"It would be very difficult for the fire to get that far," he says. Sometimes embers in a hotly burning fire can be lofted as much as 4 miles to start so-called "spot fires." But this requires a forest burning completely, from the ground to the high branches, he says. The area of forest close enough to have a chance to create the heat and updrafts required to bring the blaze to Area G has already burned, Mansfield contends.
Joshua Topolsky of This is my nextreviews the $500 HP Touchpad. WebOS is very promising, he writes, but it's not competitive yet: "the stability and smoothness of the user experience is not up to par with the iPad or something like the Galaxy Tab 10.1, even if many of the underlying ideas are actually a lot better and more intuitive than what the competition offers. That, coupled with the minuscule number of quality apps available at launch make this a bit of a hard sell right now."
Olympus's latest Micro 4/3 cameras come in three flavors with new 12.3MP sensors, reengineered autofocus systems, 1080i video and up to ISO 12,800. The flashship EP-3 is predictable fare, but the E-PM1 is very small indeed. They're also releasing two new M. Zuiko Digital ED lenses for the mount: a 24mm-equivalent f2.0 model and a 90mm-equivalent f1.8 one. [Olympus]
LOLvis writes in with a link to Tablet Magazine's Go the Fuck to Shul: "Not only a witty response to criticism of Go the F*ck to Sleep ('Imagine if this were written about Jews'), it's funny enough to stand on its own."
It's Yom Kippur, and you're far away,
The last thing I want's to be cruel.
I'm your mother, son, you know I adore you,
But please go the fuck to shul.
You'd only go for a few hours,
Shorter than a full day of school.
You'll probably run into people you know
If you go the fuck to shul.
The great moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham, founder of utilitarianism, famously said,'The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" Most people get the point, but they treat human pain as especially worrying because they vaguely think it sort of obvious that a species' ability to suffer must be positively correlated with its intellectual capacity. Plants cannot think, and you'd have to be pretty eccentric to believe they can suffer. Plausibly the same might be true of earthworms. But what about cows?
What about dogs? I find it almost impossible to believe that René Descartes, not known as a monster, carried his philosophical belief that only humans have minds to such a confident extreme that he would blithely spreadeagle a live mammal on a board and dissect it. You'd think that, in spite of his philosophical reasoning, he might have given the animal the benefit of the doubt. But he stood in a long tradition of vivisectionists including Galen and Vesalius, and he was followed by William Harvey and many others (See from which this picture is taken).
How could they bear to do it: tie a struggling, screaming mammal down with ropes and dissect its living heart, for example? Presumably they believed what came to be articulated by Descartes: that non-human animals have no soul and feel no pain.
The Neatorama store has got a particularly deluxe version of the kid's pirate bath-towel, complete with hook, parrot and belt (it's cooler than the one Poesy runs around the house shouting "arrr!" in after bathtimes!).
The Random House audiobook edition of my novel Little Brother is a free MP3 download this week through Sync, a program that develops the audience of teen/YA audiobook listeners (it's paired with Kafka's The Trial, which is pretty cool). The file itself can only be downloaded with a proprietary downloader from Overdrive, which I couldn't run under WINE on my GNU/Linux system, so I'm not sure how the process goes, but once you've actually gotten the file, it's yours to keep for personal use as a plain-vanilla MP3 with no DRM.