Jamaica's new Prime Minister -- who won by a landslide -- has vowed to turn the island into a republic, eliminating the Queen as the head of state. This may seem pretty pro-forma, but in the past few years, Canada's royal representative, the Governor General, has allowed the Prime Minister to suspend parliament for highly politicized reasons, at one point leaving Canada without government in the midst of the financial crisis. The Commonwealth bargain is meant to be that the Queen's rep acts as a non-political, sober oversight of last resort. But in Canada, the GG let the Prime Minister shut down Parliament to avoid a no-confidence vote and to shut down an embarrassing Parliamentary inquiry about Canada's complicity in the indefinite detention, torture and murder of Afghani war prisoners. Against this backdrop, it seems to me that getting rid of royal "governance" can only be a good thing.
"I love the Queen; she is a beautiful lady," Simpson Miller said, before declaring to the audience in Jamaican patois: "But I think time come."
Simpson Miller said she could replace the privy council in London with the Trinidad-based Caribbean court of justice as Jamaica's highest court of appeal. She said this would "end judicial surveillance from London."
She vowed her government would "ease the burdens and the pressues of increasing poverty, joblessness and deteriorating standards of living" while also pursuing a tight fiscal policy and forging strong partnerships with the private sector and international partners such as the International Monetary Fund.
Having broken apart an extremely expensive cellphone from Vertu, what does one find inside it?
"This is the one that I wasn't able to fix," writes S., who says he buys salvaged cellphones from insurers and repairs them for sale on eBay. "Although I've heard they improved recently, the first generation phone had the same guts as a $20 Nokia handset."
Sound it Out #12: Spoek Mathambo "Put Some Red On It"
Johannesburg’s Spoek Mathambo (real name: Nthato Mokgata) makes music that blends traditional African sounds with very current electronica, goth, rock and dubstep elements. He’s described it as “township tech” and the result is extremely weird and addictive.
Mathambo is also a producer and graphic designer - he takes his personal post-Apartheid experiences and weaves them into his songs and artwork in a unique and compelling way.
“Put Some Red On It” is an insider’s take on the South African diamond conflict. It’s moving and fun and sounds like the future to me. Spoek Mathambo’s new record Father Creeper comes out March 13th.
CV Dazzle is a systematic approach to creating "dazzle" makeup and hair effects that fool computer vision systems. For example, you could change the symmetry of your face by painting a lightning bolt across it, causing all computer vision systems to mistakenly identify you as David Bowie.
There is a strong emphasis towards radical-neutrality. The designs used in the first several looks are inspired by both tribal paint and high-fashion aeshetics from the club scene in London. In fact, photos from both were incorporated into the testing algorithms. Surprisingly, many of the more eccentric looks did not fool the face detection algorithms.
To design the looks at left, software was developed that combines interactive drawing and genetic algorithms to detect vulnerabilities in the face detection process. By understanding how face-detection algorithms work, an anti-face can be constructed and used as a guide for creating makeup and hair-styling that foils the face detection process. As a result, your face becomes undetectable to machines yet retains some level of legibility to humans.
Many years ago, when I was a young boy, my father would wake me before dawn to go fishing in the Ocean. We would drive through the foggy San Francisco streets to "Muni Pier" , buy bait wrapped in yesterdays newspaper, and drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. There my father had moored an old 26 foot inboard with a cabin. To my young eyes a Ship! As the first false dawn light began to color the world, we would board with our gear. Trembling with the morning chill, breathing out hot steam into the cold, he'd start the engine. The smell of gasoline, bait and salt water is a heavenly memory.
We made slowly out the jetty and into the San Francisco Bay to cross the "Potato Patch". This is an area of rough water under the Golden Gate bridge where many a small boat has gone down in a sudden storm. Past this fearful patch of rough water lay the beautiful blue waters off Marin County, California. We would skirt the shore, find a still cove and drop anchor. These coves were always surrounded by high cliffs with wild trees overhanging the edges. The Cliffs were natural wind breaks. The water was blue black with its depth, and still as a mirror. The smell there was pine forest mixed with salt water, morning sun, exhaust fumes and dead fish. When I die, if I smell this, I will know there is a heaven after all.
Here's a sweet gig: the Electronic Frontier Foundation is soliciting applications for its annual Google Policy Fellowship,"an opportunity for undergraduate, graduate, and law students to work alongside the international Policy team on projects advancing debate on key public policy issues."
On the Autopia forums, AkamaiDetailing recently unveiled his brushed-steel DeLorean, polished and buffed to a mirror finish: "This took an insane amount of time, but it was so worth it. Has anyone else done this before?" They have indeed.
Lest you think that Rick Santorum is a mere garden-variety homophobe who offers no threat to the sexual freedom of hetero couples, consider this quote: "Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that's okay, contraception is okay. It's not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Oh, and this gem: "They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom or in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world." (via Beth Pratt)
At her Tumblr, Kelly Kate says: "HAPPY FUCKING NEW YEARS ASSHOLES, I JUST PEED OUT THE WINDOW OF A MOVING BUS." This image has generated many comments -- some funny, some offensive, some just plain predictable -- over at Mission Mission. (Thanks, Greg!)
Ting London makes bespoke flooring out of recycled leather belts, laying them down like floorboards. When/if you get sick of them, they'll take them back and recycle them. I'm not sure how they'd wear or what they'd be like to clean, but they look awesome.
Each belt is hand selected to ensure a high grade of leather and then the belts are stripped of their metals, hand cleaned with chemical free substances and prepared for use. The vintage belts for each tile are carefully designed in-house as the colour and patterning on the belts is sensitive to each tile. This means no two tiles will ever be the same.
Theory11's $6 Steampunk Playing Cards are manufactured in concert with the American Playing Card company on custom bronze-effect paper stock. The cards feature machinelike illustrations and are really rather well done.
A nuke-proof space observation station in Carmel Valley, Ca., is up for sale. The asking price: $2,950,000. Able to take a 5 megaton blast, the Jamesburg Earth Station was built in the 1960s and was the first to receive live images from the moon during 1969's Apollo landing. Also included in the deal is 160 acres of land, an 11-storey antenna able to broadcast worldwide, a helipad, and a 3-bedroom home. [KSBW]
The Cato institute's dug deep into the MPAA's funny piracy accounting: "In IPI-land, when a movie studio makes $10 selling a DVD to a Canadian, and then gives $7 to the company that manufactured the DVD and $2 to the guy who shipped it to Canada, society has benefitted by $10+$7+$2=$19. Yet some simple math shows that this is nonsense: the studio is $1 richer, the trucker is $2, and the manufacturer is $7. Shockingly enough, that adds up to $10. What each participant cares about is his profits, not his revenues."
Old-school bOING bOING contributors Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky posted their annual State of the World discussion on the good ol' Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link. Sidle up for some fine brain tennis. Jon says:
The reality we're in today is reflected in responses I got when I asked my online social network what they thought we would cover (in this State of the World discussion). They suggested a diverse list: climate change, Arab spring and social media-driven political upheaval, courage, "1984," Fahrenheit 451, the future of Occupy, global economics, underground economies, cyberwar, favela chic, dead media, the future of the Internet in light of pending legislation (SOPA etc.) and emerging alternative networks, space wars, and private drone fleets (for tactical protest command, celebrity capture, and industrial intelligence).
This Pan-Am ad from 1983 really grabbed my attention with an oddly disharmonious message: first you have the cowboy, sleeping with his hat over his eyes, a symbol of ruggedness and the ability to relax and sleep anywhere, out on the range under a cactus. But then you have the ad's USP: "Delta has spacious, comfortable seats." Do cowboys really value comfort? Isn't that a little citified? You know: "The chores! The stores! Fresh air! Times Square!" Or "East is east and west is west and the wrong one I have chose."
Ah, but the cowboy is wearing a suit. He's not a cowboy, he's a poseur, a nouveau riche oilman who likes to play pretend-cowboy as he jets from one five-star suite to the next. He doesn't clear brush on his ranch, he hires real roughnecks to do that, because otherwise he'd ruin his fancy manicure. So the value proposition here comes down to: Fly Pan-Am, it's the airline for insecure fake cowboys who have too much money.
Over at the Huffington Post, UC Berkeley roboticist/artist Ken Goldberg writes about the future of social robots that help each other learn to better navigate a world they never made. From HuffPo (image of Goldberg's TeleGarden):
Our robots are signing up for online learning. After decades of attempts to program robots to perform complex tasks like flying helicopters or surgical suturing, the new approach is based on observing and recording the motions of human experts as they perform these feats. Statistical Robot Learning, pioneered by researchers such as UC Berkeley's Pieter Abbeel, infers the underlying intentions of experts by analyzing patterns in their motions. My students and I are working with Abbeel on a new project to incorporate models of sensing so that these robots can cope with noise and adapt to changing conditions…
As humans embrace new forms of social media to keep connected with friends and colleagues, our robots are becoming increasingly sociable. Researchers at Google and several university labs are working on "Cloud Robotics," where robots benefit from four aspects of the Internet: (1) the availability of thousands of cloud-based processors to compute solutions remotely, rather than onboard the robot, (2) vast databases of information describing the physical properties of environments and commercially-available objects, (3) the ability of robots to share information with other robots about past successes (and failures), and (4) the availability, when all else fails, to contact remote human operators to ask for advice.
Recess Stories is a series of short fictional films about realistic kids' having kid-sized adventures on a school playground. In episode 3, the kids are excited about reports of a rat on the playground. I am excited to watch these with my 8-year-old.
One evening this week, my wife and I were walking on Market Street in San Francisco when we were awestruck by the painting at left leaning in the window of the E6 Gallery. The artist, Nathan Richard Phelps, was inside hanging his work for a solo show opening this Friday. He must have noticed our stunned expressions because he opened the door to chat for a bit. A delightful guy, he explained that this huge (7 foot tall!) oil pen painting, titled "Tompkins Window," was commissioned by a couple living in a Manhattan apartment. Makes sense, as the piece has an architectural/city planning vibe to it but also evokes memories of early computer drawing programs that, as my wife said, might run on a 1980s Atari. Several of Phelps's paintings are in this angular style while others are all about organic curved forms in almost op art patterns. They are all marvelous.
Sweden has given official religious status to Church of Kopimism, a faith and philosophy based on file-sharing. The faith's foundational document, ""POwr, broccoli and Kopimi," is available as a .torrent file indexed on The Pirate Bay (natch). It exhorts followers to undertake 100 tasks to attain #g_d (a hashtagged, all-lower-case version of the observant Jewish tradition of writing God as "G_d").
001. Obtain the Internet.
002. Start using IRC.
003. Group and birth a site.
004. Experiment with research chemicals.
005. Design a three-step program.
006. Take a powerful stance for something positive and essential.
007. Regulate nothing.
008. Say that you have to move in two weeks, but stay for seven months. Come back a year later and do it all over again.
010. Relax, you’re already halfway there.
011. Just kidding.
012. Don’t think outside the box.
Build a box.
013. Support support.
014. Organize and go to parties and fairs.
015. Start 30–40 blogs about the same things.
016. Drain the private sector of coders, graphic artists and literati.
017. Create a prize that is awarded.
018. Express yourself often in the media, vaguely.
019. Spread all rumors.
020. Seek out and try carding, and travel by expensive trains. Don’t order sushi.
021. Start a radio station.
022. Everything you use, you can copy and give an arbitrary name, whether it’s a news portal, search engine or public service.
023. Buy a bus.
024. Install a MegaHAL.
025. Make sure that you are really good friends with people who can use Photoshop, HTML, databases, and the like.
As faith strictures go, these ones are actually pretty good. On the other hand, I'm not much of a believer in Gods, G_d or #g_d, so perhaps this isn't for me.
Rebecca Hains is the lady whose cupcake was confiscated by a TSA supervisor at the Las Vegas airport because its frosting was a "gel." The story broke here, and has gone nationwide, as a grieving land shakes its head in sorrow for the departed and dead principle of common sense.
Rebecca sez, "Thanks again for sharing my cupcake confiscation story! Some friends and I just posted a fun CUPCAKE TERROR video to YouTube. It vividly illustrates the SERIOUS threat terrorist cupcakes pose to national security. (Actually, it's also a PSA about civil liberties, but don't tell anybody!)"