Last week, a mystery bidder snatched the domain of copyright troll Righthaven at auction for just $3,300. Just now, the domain name system updated to reveal his identity: one Stefan Thalberg of Zug, Switzerland, just south of Zurich.
And at the domain itself, a mysterious "No Jellyfish" logo with the title "Take Back The Right(Haven)" and the text "Coming Soon."
In the page source, a tantalizing clue:
<!--Oh... you want a hint do you? Very well: "Does your current provider possess a spine?"-->
Thalberg's email address suggests an association with OrtCloud, a Swiss internet service provider that says it focuses on "bespoke" solutions for financial and scientific companies. Intriguingly, its homepage advertises the "privacy-friendly, regulatory-havens of Iceland and the Swiss cantons of Zürich and Zug" beneath a photograph of the Swiss National Bank.
A cursory search of associated IP addresses reveals firms in the business services and finance sector. I've asked for comment. (Update: I've received a short reply saying that there will be "updates soon")
Righthaven launched an ill-fated copyright enforcement business three years ago, but was repeatedly punished by courts unimpressed with its claim to have "licensed" the right to sue from copyright holders—and which were often unimpressed with the credibility of the underlying claims. After running out of money, Righthaven lost its domain name to creditors, which promptly auctioned it off.
One of Righthaven's most notorious shakedown strategies was to demand victims hand over their own domain names in order to head off or settle lawsuits. Read the rest
John Flesk, founder of the terrific art book house Flesk Publications, just released four new titles (The Art of Craig Elliott, Warren Chang: Narrative Paintings, Flesk Prime, and Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm). He sent them to me and they are all terrific. Here's more information about Naughty and Nice, followed by a gallery of Timm's art from it, a bio of Bruce Timm, and the story of Flesk Publications.
In a radical departure from his previous work on animated films and comics, which primarily featured superheroes, the award-winning artist Bruce Timm presents an extensive survey of the many forms that his shapely muse has assumed in his mind’s eye. Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm showcases over 300 full-color, line and pencil images of partially clothed and nude women of almost every conceivable description and temperament.Read the rest
This substantial collection provides shapely forms and earthly delights throughout its pages. Be it a sophisticated city gal or a savage jungle queen, a hard-boiled dame or an elegant lady from the land of fantasy, a quietly smoldering sorceress or a wild-hearted adventuress, Timm's ladies are sure to please the eye.
Over 125 new images have been prepared especially for this handsome book. Timm explores the female form with absolute creative freedom, and pure personal expression is the result. The artist has granted Flesk Publications unprecedented access to his archives to provide the best representation of his private works.
Some time in 1976, I went into this very hip bookstore in downtown Binghamton, New York where I lived and came across two books whose covers screamed for my attention with their flaming psychedelic designs. I picked one of them up and read the blurb on the back cover. It spoke of psychedelic supermen, conspiracies and a yellow submarine. Reading bits of random pages I knew right then and there that I'd stumbled upon my Rosetta Stone -- an alternative world similar to my own that not only acknowledged the sorts of thoughts and fantasies and cultural and political references that I shared with my "out there" friends, but that did so with language that seemed like it had been plugged into the same sort of excessively electrified everything-at-once brain-sockets that our brains were sometimes plugged into. I fished the rumpled scraps of welfare-provided legal tender out of my pocket and bought both immediately.
Illuminatus! was unusual in its time because, in some ways, there seemed to be a sort of unspoken embargo against any novelist who wanted to be considered intellectually credible writing something this directly tied in to hardcore psychedelic freak culture.
Themac sez, "Fantastic response to a cease and desist. I was particularly impressed at whom they cc'ed." This may be the nicest "go screw yourself" letter ever sent.
Best letter ever written to a Lawyer Read the rest
The backdrop: The San Antonio, Texas based Freetail Brewing Co. received a cease and desist letter from the Steelhead Brewing Co. (based out of Eugene, Oregon) demanding that they stop using “Hopasaurus Rex” as a name for one of their beers.
A month ago, one of these islands didn't exist.
On December 13, fishermen in the Red Sea reported volcanic eruptions shooting lava into the air. Just ten days later, the new island was visible. Volcanic island formation is one of those natural phenomena that most of us have known about since grade school. And yet, it never becomes not awesome. Smithsonian has a Q&A with volcanologists (still one of the most awesome jobs), that explains some of what's going on. Even if you already know the general basics, the specifics of this particular island are pretty neat.
Read the rest
The “new” volcano, of which you can see the very top, has probably been erupting episodically underwater for thousands of years. While its above-surface dimensions are roughly 1,739 feet east-to-west and 2,329 feet north-to-south we know the larger submerged shield it sits on is about 12.5 miles across—an edifice whose age is unknown, but the Red Sea may have begun spreading apart about 34 million years ago and the shield volcano could thus be tens of millions of years in the making.
... Keep in mind that this whole region has had many volcanic eruptions in the last five years. In 2007, for example, a sudden eruption on the nearby Island Jebel at Tair killed a number of soldiers stationed there. The process of plate tectonics seems to be going on a little faster, at a quickened rate in this area. Why? We don’t know. The general public needs to be reminded that volcanologists are often in the dark about these processes.
Carrie M/ Becker made a 1/6th scale hoarder's house.
I have a love of all things miniature. As a young adult, I collected small Japanese toys from a company called Rement. During the summer after completing graduate school I had some down time and decided to use my commercial photography skills to shoot my miniature collection as though it were "real". Also during that time, I also frequently watched shows like "Hoarders" and "How Clean Is Your House?" With that in mind, this past summer I began creating the images that are presented here, though I reflect their inspiration as a mirror and not a judgement. For me, this series is about creating a small, but perfect world where the viewer cannot distinguish between what is reality and what is fiction. All images taken with a Nikon D40. Re-purposed 1/6th scale doll accessories with other handmade items.Barbie Trashes Her Dreamhouse (Via realnutt) Read the rest
Welcome to New York City. Population: 01If you like what you see, fund it at Kickstarter. The Silent City Read the rest
When an unexplained event decimates the human race, the survivors fight for their lives in the ruins of civilization.
A new take on the post-apocalyptic road movie, The Silent City explores a world where one wrong turn can mean the extinction of the species.
Sarah sez, "The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers is a ten-day workshop held annually in Pittsburgh, PA for writers ages 14-19 who are passionate about writing science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror. Guest authors at the 2012 workshop will include Tamora Pierce and Kij Johnson. To raise money for the workshop's scholarship fund, which assists students who need financial aid in order to attend Alpha, we have organized an auction. Items to be auctioned include signed books by George R. R. Martin, Tamora Pierce, Cory Doctorow, John Joseph Adams, Elizabeth Bear, Ellen Kushner, Theodora Goss, and more, as well as critiques from authors such as Karen Healey and Bruce Holland Rogers, and other great items. In addition, an anthology of flash fiction written and illustrated by Alpha alumni is available in return for donations of any amount. The auction begins January 13 at noon, and other donations are welcome anytime."
I've been following the story about the scientists who have been working to figure out how H5N1 bird flu might become transmissible from human to human, the controversial research they used to study that question, and the federal recommendations that are now threatening to keep that research under wraps. This is a pretty complicated issue, and I want to take a minute to help you all better understand what's going on, and what it means. It's a story that encompasses not just public health and science ethics, but also some of the debates surrounding free information and the risk/benefit ratio of open-source everything.
H5N1, the famous bird flu, is deadly to humans. Of the 566 people who have contracted this form of influenza, 332 have died. But, so far, the people who have caught bird flu don't seem to have contracted the disease from other humans, or passed it on. Instead, they got it from birds, often farm animals with whom the victims were living in close contact. H5N1 was first identified 14 years ago, and there's never been a documented case of it being passed from person to person.
But that doesn't mean such a leap is impossible.
That's because of how the influenza virus works. Influenza is made up of eight pieces of RNA, containing 10 genes, and they all replicate independently of one another and there's no system for error correction*. That means you have more opportunity for mutations to arise that change what the virus does and who it can infect. Read the rest
The Hulk is wanted for robbing a bank in Hamburg, New York on Monday. The Hulk attempted to disguise himself by wearing a brown jacket, jeans, and a necklace as opposed to purple shorts. "Man in Hulk mask robs Hamburg bank" (WIVB)