US Marines' "SS" flag

Probably not the best choice of font for the flag of the US Marine Corps Scout Snipers. From CNN:

The Marine Corps said it became aware of the photo last November and the local command investigated, but found it not to be racially motivated, according to a statement released by a Marine Corps spokesman, Lt. Col. Stewart Upton.

The unit's commander decided not to proceed with disciplinary action, it said, but all Marines in the unit were reminded that such behavior will not be tolerated and any further display could result in punishment.

"They determined that the Marines in the photo were ignorant of the connection of this symbol to the Holocaust and monumental atrocities associated with Nazi Germany," (Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. James) Amos said in his statement Friday.

"Panetta seeks probe of Marine SS flag" (CNN, thanks Ed Szylko!)

UPDATE: Mother Jones interviews Iraq war veteran Waitman Beorn, who blew the whistle on the Scout Snipers' unfortunate logo. Beorn is currently a visiting history professor at Loyola University New Orleans and a Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowship recipient who teaches at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. Read the rest

Whitney Houston dead at 48

Reuters reports that the most award-winning songstress of all time died today: "A Beverly Hills police officer told reporters at a briefing that emergency assistance received a call from the Beverly Hilton at around 3:20 p.m. PST, and the singer was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m." Read the rest

Marvel/Disney wages petty, vicious war against Ghost Rider creator

This much is certain: Gary Friedrich created the Marvel comics character Ghost Rider. Freidrich sued Marvel (and its new owners, Disney) because he claims that he never signed away the rights to his character, and thus the feature film based on the comic was illegal. Freidrich also apparently launched his own, rival line of authorized Ghost Rider merchandise.

Disney/Marvel has countersued Freidrich, claiming that the boilerplate legalese on the back of his paychecks were all the assignment they needed to assert ownership of his character. What's more, Misney has broken with the industry-standard practice of turning a blind eye to creators doing sketches of their own characters for money at conventions, and singled out Freidrich for punitive, retaliatory legal claims for doing what every artist in the field does.

Finally, Misney has sought to prohibit Freidrich from publicly identifying or marketing himself as the creator of Ghost Rider, on the basis of the ancient legal principle of fuck you I said so and I can afford more lawyers than you so shut up.

As payback, not only can Friedrich no longer sell his own Ghost Rider merchandise, he can’t even represent himself as its co-creator, thereby robbing him of any potential financial gain he might accrue from convention appearances and the like. (He will, however, still be able to sign officially licensed Marvel merchandise, either with ink or bitter tear stains.) In addition, Marvel is also demanding $17,000 from the unemployed, financially destitute 68-year-old, which Comic Book Resources surmises will serve as a warning to all others who currently enjoy the privilege of selling their own unlicensed merchandise, and should maybe just keep their mouths shut then.

Read the rest

Pictures from Berlin's anti-ACTA protest

Walt74 sez, "Today about 10.000 people protested the ACTA treaty in Berlin, people in whole Germany went on the streets, 50.000 altogether. Here are my pics from the protests in Berlin."

Did you get pics at your local ACTA march? Post them to the comments!

ACTA-Demo Berlin, 11.2.2012 (Thanks, Walt74!) Read the rest

Video explains cricket

I've never seen anyone fringe the ring quite like that before. [Jiskefet via Reddit] Read the rest

Functional bathtub made from books

Back in 2008, the blog Who Cares About That? wrote about Vanessa Mancini's project to build a functional sculpture: a bathtub made from deconstructed books fitted together and then sealed so that one could "bathe in knowledge." It's a beautiful artifact, though I can't find any evidence that it was ever finished. If you know more about this piece, please post in the comments.

This bath is made entirely out of books which Vanessa cut and fitted together over a metal frame to form a bath of books, which is suspended by four antique bath tub, lion-shaped feet. She intends to later cover it in layers of resin and has already applied proper taps and drain, so that it will be a utilizable, functional bath at all effects.

The idea is of immersing oneself in knowledge, books, truths, and 'cleaning' or ‘purifying’ one's mind with from external, every day life bombarding from media, by reading ad reflecting on books,- ‘pure sources’, which is of course, metaphorical, implying we can become polluted by ideas of truths and knowledge, which we can only 'clean' by reading our way through to our own ideas and reflections.

Bathing in knowledge (via Bookshelf) Read the rest

Walt Disney's "secret" Disneyland apartment

Walt and Lilian Disney's daughter Diane talks to the Huffington Post about her parents' "secret apartment" over the firehouse on Disneyland's Main Street, USA. The apartment, decorated by a film production designer called Emile Kuri, was a private haven for the Disneys during the construction of Disneyland, and remained so after its completion. The apartment is still there (though it's off-limits to the public) and is a kind of time-capsule of the Disneys private lives.

There's another space, over the Pirates of the Caribbean, that was built to be a more lavish family apartment, but Walt died before it was completed. It was the "Disney Gallery" (a shop selling prints and other souvenirs) for many years, though it was lately converted to a luxury hotel suite, the "Disneyland Dream Suite." Initially, stays in the suite were awarded as surprise prizes to visitors, but now I believe it can be rented at a very high tariff.

Did a lot of people get to go up there, or it was a very private place?

Very private. It was for them. It was their residence there and they would invite people up, if there were special people in the park, mother and dad would go out and they would invite them up. Early, it was during "Davy Crockett," I remember there was some event there that day and Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen were both out there for it, and dad was looking out that window and saw them and he said, "Hey, come on up!"

He told them how to get around, back behind, and get up to the apartment and there was a fire pole in it, it's not there now, but there was a door into the closet area that had a fire pole, like the firemen would have, and he showed it to them and said, "Why don't you guys slide down that?" And they did!

Read the rest

Google Book Scan glitches as accidental art

The Art of Google Books is a Tumblr devoted to "Captured mark of the hand and digitization as rephotography" -- that is, collecting examples of accidental art generated by scanning glitches from the Google Books program. Shown here: "Digitally severed maps, half in color and half in black and white. From various pages of Read the rest

Faithfully replicating a World of Warcraft realm in Minecraft at 1:1 scale

Here's a MMO-Champion thread in which Ramsesakama sets out to recreate the World of Warcraft realm of Kalimdor in the maker-friendly game/environment Minecraft, in faithful 1:1 scale. Using procedural tools and a lot of skull-sweat, the task is undertaken, with awfully fabulous results.

I'm trying to create a replica of Kalimdor in Minecraft, and I want it to be the correct scale. I'd like to create the terrain first, so I need to compute the relative distances (in Minecraft blocks) between the different locations in Kalimdor.

If a Minecraft character is approximately two blocks tall, and if we assume the male Orc model is equal in size, then how many blocks is "one yard" in WoW?

Thread: WoW to Minecraft coordinate space conversion (via Wonderland) Read the rest

Casting call for the video of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit

Here's the casting-call poster for Samuel Bayer's video for Nirvana's iconic 1991 anthem, Smells Like Teen Spirit. It asks (unpaid?) extras to be prepared to "adopt a high-school personna (sic), i.e. preppy, punk, nerd, jock..."

Here's a link to the finished product, though it's not working for me at the moment.

Nirvana Video Casting (via How to Be a Retronaut) Read the rest

Republican in Washington State legislature delivers emotional address in support of gay marriage

Here's Washington State rep Maureen Walsh, a Republican, explaining to her colleagues why her she was breaking with the party line and voting in favor of same-sex marriage. It's an emotional, moving address, and Walsh, together with one of her GOP colleagues, helped carry the motion, paving the way for legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State.

You know, years ago, my daughter went to, she was in elementary school. Many of you have met my daughter. She’s a fabulous girl. She’s wonderful. My boys are great too, but my daughter is just something special, and she was the light of her father’s eyes. And she went to school and there were some kids that were, a whole group of kids that were picking on another kid. And you know, my daughter stood up for that kid, even though it was not the popular thing to do. She knew it was the right thing to do. And I was never more proud of my kid, knowing that she was speaking against the vocal majority on behalf of the rights of the minority.

And to me, it is incumbent upon us as legislators in this state to do that. That is why we are here, and I shudder to think that if folks who had proceeded us in history did not do that, frankly I’m not sure I would be here as a woman. I’m not sure that others would be here due to their race, or their creed. And to me, that is what’s disconcerting.

Read the rest

Webcomic artists uses version control software to produce automated "making of" videos of his workflow

Mark V sez, "Electric Puppet Theatre is a web comic that I draw in Inkscape, using git for version control. A neat side effect of using git is that I can make a 'making of' video for each 24 page issue by playing the git repository through ffmpeg. The linked page contains animations for the first two issues as well as instructions on creating this type of animation (touching on how to make both ogg and youtube-compatible webm animations)."

Git is an incredibly powerful tool for keeping track of the changes of files. It is the version control software used to maintain the Linux kernel, managing and merging code written by many contributors around the world. But it's also useful for individuals to keep track of their own work. I use Thomas Gideon's Flashbake scripts to log all the changes to the novels and stories I work on, automatically saving any edits every 15 minutes and noting a bunch of easy-to-automate "context" (the local timezone and weather, the music I'm listening to, my most recent Boing Boing posts).

This is a wonderfully geeky example of how git can be combined with other powerful free/open tools, like ffmpeg (which makes and converts audio and video files) to capture your personal workflow and package it in ways that illuminate your process for other people who want to compare notes.

Animating a Git Repository (Thanks, Mark!) Read the rest


Today is the day of global protest against ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a copyright treaty negotiated in secret (even parliaments and other legislatures weren't allowed to see the the working drafts), and which many governments (include the American government) are planning to adopt without legislative approval or debate. ACTA represents a wish-list of legislative gifts to the entertainment industry, and will seriously undermine legitimate users of the Internet. It imposes criminal sanctions -- with jail time -- for people who violate copyright, including remixers and other legitimate artists and creators. ACTA requires governments to shut down legitimate websites whose users "aid and abet" copyright infringement, creating a regime of fear and censorship for sites that accept comments and other media from users and curtailing discussion and debate in order to maximize entertainment industry profits.

The arts should always be on the side of free expression. Creative industries should always be against censorship. This secret, undemocratic agreement that seeks to "preserve the creative industries" by imposing censorship and surveillance on the whole Internet lacks all legitimacy and should be rejected. If the entertainment industry wants laws passed to its benefit, let it use the same democratic mechanisms that all bodies use in free societies. Smoke-filled rooms and crony capitalism have no place in a free society.

Here is the form to contact lawmakers all over the world and tell them to reject ACTA. Many European nations -- including, most recently, Germany -- have halted their involvement in ACTA. The tide is turning. Read the rest

Irony Vigilante Bill Keller: NYT copyright infringement was "illustrative uploading"

Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times, rails against those who mock him. The newspaper published someone else's column without permission while he was busy insisting that copyright infringement is theft, and has been subjected to much ridicule as a result.

The law should not go after minor transgressions. Moreover, I specifically said a real reform should also relax some copyright protections – such as cases where a work that is long out of print could be made widely available to a new audience. Nowhere did I suggest that the law should criminalize the illustrative uploading of a 36-year-old alt-weekly article that is otherwise unavailable.

Well said, Bill Keller!

The interesting thing about Keller's new op-ed role is that, like the Times' "public editor", it appears to be an unmoderated sinecure by design, occupied by a fellow whose lack of self-awareness may be disconcerting to some colleagues.

Previously: NYT publishes "infringement is theft" column and rips off another paper's article in the same weekend Read the rest