François Vautier infested his flatbed scanner with an ant-colony and scanned the burgeoning hive-organism every week for five years, producing a beautiful, stylized stop-motion record of the ants' slow consumption of his electronics.
Five years ago, I installed an ant colony inside my old scanner that allowed me to scan in high definition this ever evolving microcosm (animal, vegetable and mineral). The resulting clip is a close-up examination of how these tiny beings live in this unique ant farm. I observed how decay and corrosion slowly but surely invaded the internal organs of the scanner. Nature gradually takes hold of this completely synthetic environment.
NPR's Planet Money profiles Willow Tufano, a 14-year-old Florida girl who saved thousands of dollars by harvesting furniture from foreclosed houses and selling it on eBay. She's just bought half interest in a house that went for $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Her mom owns the other half, and the house went for $12,000. They rent it out for $700 a month now. Chana Joffe-Walt writes,
One day, Willow's mom, Shannon, saw a two-bedroom, concrete-block home on auction for $12,000 — down from $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Shannon was telling her husband about the house, when Willow piped up.
"I was like, 'What if I bought a house? That would be crazy,' " Willow says...
As I was working on this story, I kept thinking that when a 14-year-old kid can buy a house, the market must have hit bottom. I kept saying this to Willow, and she'd sort of vaguely nod.
But it's hard for Willow to see herself as symbolic of anything. To a 14-year-old kid in Florida, the housing collapse is basically the only world she's known. It's the landscape. It's a Craigslist hobby.
(Image: Chana Joffe-Walt)
Mitch Wagner sez, "uGrokIt lets people attach RFID tags to their stuff, locate it with a device that attaches to a smartphone, just like in Cory's Makers." The Geiger counter-style audio cues are a nice touch, and I like the salaryman who uses the gizmo to remind him that he's left his phone-charger under one of those pointless stand-up cards next to the nearly pointless land-line phone in his hotel room.
UGrokIt (Thanks, Mitch!)
We wanted to make our own version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots for the Americans Elect lounge at SXSW, so we decided to replace the heads with a donkey and elephant heads, to represent the two political parties. This also goes with the giant plush donkey and elephant that people may see in action around SXSW, who are with us. Like the two parties, they just can’t get along.
For this maker’s project, we teamed up with our friends at LBi. Here’s how we did it…
We made rubber molds for the donkey head, donkey ears, elephant head and elephant ears. We sculpted the heads in clay, then pressed them halfway into a liquid rubber compound. We also made spherical indentations (“keys”) in the mold near the head on one side and a bump on the other, so we’d have something to line up the two halves of the mold. It’s very important that you spray a lot of mold release before you make the second part of the mold.
Read the rest
Johanna writes, "Carlos Aguirre, a trainer at Academia Barista Pro, stunned audiences worldwide when he pushed not 1, not 2 but 3 aeropresses at the same time for his signature drink during National Salvadoran Barista Competition."
That's a lot of aeropressin'. The key scene starts at 20:41.
Veteran radio journalist and master storyteller Alex Chadwick (who's also a personal friend—he's taught me so much about journalism over the years) hosts a must-listen radio documentary premiering this weekend on public radio stations throughout the US.
BURN: An Energy Journal is a four-hour, four-part broadcast and digital documentary series exploring "the most pressing energy issues of our times."
Part One of the series, titled "Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima," coincides with March 11, the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. I've listened in entirety, and followed along as the BURN team researched and produced over the past few months, and I can tell you this is truly powerful work. The show also includes PBS Newshour reporter Miles O'Brien, reporting from inside the Fukushima exclusion zone on his recent trip there.
Carve out some time and listen to it on-air, or listen online at this link.
Snip from description:
Below, a video excerpt from Alex's interview with Pillitteri.
Included in the riveting premiere episode is an exclusive, first-time-ever interview with an American who was on-site at the Daiichi nuclear plant when the earthquake and tsunami struck. Carl Pillitteri, a maintenance supervisor and one of 40 Americans in Fukushima on that fateful day, describes his terrifying ordeal as he desperately attempted to lead his men to safety through the enormous, shuddering turbine buildings in total darkness.
More about the radio series follows.
PR people sometimes say "I loved your coverage of x, perhaps you'd like to hear about y!". The idea is to ensure that I, Esteemed Journalist, know that I am worthy of personalized attention, rather than being an entry on a mailing list.
Some of them, however, are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. I've started getting emails that contain computer-generated personal touches. Computers trying to copy what humans would say to avoid looking like computers!
Here's one that just came in. He/she/it even tweeted me about an unrelated subject--a nice proofing touch--shortly before the email came in. Needless to say, the pitch is terrible. As the named sender might be a real person, I've changed the name to spare them the embarrassment.
My name is [horse_PR] and I work with BlueGlass Interactive, Inc. During SOPA, I found a particular interest in, "Infographic: Hollywood's long war on technology." This infographic did a great job at presenting SOPA, in a way that the average consumer could understand.
I noticed a good portion of your site is dedicated to Gweek and Computers. I thought you might enjoy a related infographic, "12 Cities to Find an IT Job." With product and service development growing, more IT jobs are emerging across the states. This IG reviews the top 12 cities that are currently growing and hiring in the IT realm. I believe a good portion of your readership would find this IG to be a great resource!
Do you agree?
I'd love to have you feature this on BoingBoing. I've attached the IG for your review. I look forward to receiving your feedback!
Kind Regards, [horse_PR]
BlueGlass turns out to be an infographic/SEO/marketing outfit: the business model is to make ads look like content, then pitch them to sites as free editorial. The visual complexity of infographics helps conceal or transmute advertising material, and their linkbaityness makes it easy to get them picked up and linked to. I've fallen for it, once before! In this case, the offered infographic advertised the IT recruiter that presumably paid for the service.
Given that I am making hay of BlueGlass's incompetence, I thought it only fair that I publish this infographic in full. It may be seen to the right.
Last week, I posted about Alan Bishop and Sublime Frequencies, the fantastic label that issues outernational psych, and folk from Indonesia, China, Myanmar, and other locales. Mark Gergis is one of Sublime Frequencies' intrepid travelers and he has his own band, Neung Phak, whose music is inspired by the strange brew of "exotic" music Gergis has encountered during his adventures in Southeast Asia. Spun-off from Gergis's previous band Mono Pause, Neung Phak refer to themselves as a "Bay Area Southeast Asian bar band." I can only describe Neung Phak as raw, global pop punk heavily informed by the local flavors of folk/pop/acid-rock in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. Their new album, 2, is available from Forced Exposure in a limited vinyl edition of 500 copies with a digital download card. It's consistently powerful and moves from trippy psychedelic jams to weird poppy ass-shaking groovers without missing a beat. From Neung Phak's label, Abduction:
Neung Phak have returned with their second full-length studio LP. 2 showcases molam-folk pop and acid-rock hauntings from Thailand's yesterday and today, Javanese dance floor dangdut, and Cambodian instrumental dramas -- all retold in inimitable Neung Phak parlance. The stunning Indonesian pop gem, "Bang Toyib," (heard above), features guest Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls) on Bahasa vocals. Thai dance-pop cuts "Poot" and "Poo Jud" feature veteran singer Diana Hayes. The damning "Fucking USA" was purportedly recorded in a North Korean studio -- and the epic retelling of the classic southern Thai-styled "Sat Chatri," closes down the LP in sprawling, psychedelic form.
Everything about this video news report by Eric Seals of the Detroit Free-Press is awesome.
Edna Geisler, 69, of Commerce Township has been stalked for two months by an aggressive male wild turkey (a "tom") who "lurks in her front yard, screeching at her constantly, even jumping out occasionally and attacking her when she dares wander outside alone."
His name: Godzilla.
"I'm afraid to go out of my house," said Geisler. "I have to go to the post office at 6 o'clock in the morning to avoid him."
Zoltan Kohari, known as the Slovak Batman, poses in his home in the town of Dunajska Streda, 34 miles (55 km) south of Bratislava. Kohari, who is 26 years old, lives alone in an abandoned building without water, heat or electricity. For local residents he became known as "the hero in a Batman's costume." While he has not fought crime yet, he does believe in justice and wants to help the police. In the mean time, Kohari, who is poor, does what he can to help the residents to make their daily life easier. In return, some of these residents give him food. (REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa, photo dated March 8, 2012)
Artist Amanda Visell has a great new print about the reproductive cycle of the chicken.
I feel like the science posts have all been on the depressing side today, so please enjoy this pleasant, Buster Keaton-inspired film short.
If you're on parole, don't steal a judge's office-door nameplate (If you do, don't pose with it on Facebook)
21-year-old Steven Mulhall cut a Spicolian caper when he stole the nameplate off a judge's courthouse office-door, then posed with it for a photo, which his romantic ladyfriend posted to Facebook. It was discovered by a law enforcement professional, who took the fellow into custody.
Adding to the stupidity quotient, Mulhall did this while already on parole for theft. "The nameplate is [worth] only $40, not that big of a crime, but what an idiot," said Sheriff Al Lamberti. "Here he is flaunting it on Facebook. He violated the terms of his parole by stealing, from a judge no less. He's got multiple convictions for petty theft, so now this is a felony." Lamberti said the plate would be "returned to the rightful owner," who, again, is a judge.
The first ever audio recording we know of was made by Éduoard-Léon Scott in 1857. As Maggie has previously posted here, the recording device he invented, the phonautograph, etched sound waves to paper. They weren't intended to be "played back" and it wasn't until 2008 when researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used a scanner and "virtual stylus" to listen to the sounds inscribed on the paper. It was a recording of a tuning fork and someone, likely Scott, singing Au Clair de la Lune.
I listened to it over and over this morning and was trying to imagine a time when there was no recording, and every sound was temporary. That led me to what appears to be a fascinating book from 2009, titled "Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music" by Greg Milner. The opening paragraph is fantastic:
The story goes that, late in his life, Guglielmo Marconi had an epiphany. The godfather of radio technology decided that no sound ever dies. It just decays beyond the point that we can detect it with our ears. Any sound was forever recoverable, he believed, with the right device. His dream was to build one powerful enough to pick up Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
For more about the Éduoard-Léon Scott project, visit FirstSounds.org
Human activities can cause earthquakes. It sounds a little crazy to say, but it's something we've known about for a while. For instance, seismologists say that a 6.3 magnitude quake that struck India's Maharashtra state in 1967 was directly caused by the 1963 construction of a major dam and reservoir project in that region.
Basically, fault lines exist. When we start messing with them—applying very heavy weights, taking very heavy weights away, or lubricating the fault line with various liquids—we can trigger movement. Usually, these are not large earthquakes. But they can be felt. And they are something we want to avoid.
Now, a study done by the Ohio State Department of Natural Resources has concluded that a series of small quakes in that state were directly caused by improper disposal of wastewater from a natural gas fracking operation.
Fracking, as a reminder, is a process of freeing up trapped natural gas by injecting liquid into the Earth. The force of the water cracks rocks so the gas can flow through. This is not the part of the process that's been implicated in the Ohio earthquakes, however. Instead, it's about what happens to that liquid once the fracking is done.
Fracking liquid is called "brine" and it's often referred to as being water, but it's actually water mixed with a lot of other stuff, some of it toxic. Wastewater treatment plants aren't set up to deal with this kind of contamination, so the standard way of disposing of this liquid is to pump it into the ground. In Ohio, regulators say, the site chosen for wastewater disposal wasn't vetted carefully enough. Instead of being geologically inert, it turned out to be the site of a fault line. The liquid lubricated the fault line and helped it move. The result: Earthquakes.
Now, according to the Associated Press, fracking operations disposing of wastewater in Ohio are going to have to follow much more stringent rules and provide a lot more geologic data to the regulators before they'll be allowed to pump any more liquid into the ground. The report states that this process can be done safely. It just wasn't being done that way.
"One day I’m sure everyone will routinely collect all sorts of data about themselves," writes Stephen Wolfram (founder of the eponymous technology company). "But because I’ve been interested in data for a very long time, I started doing this long ago. I actually assumed lots of other people were doing it too, but apparently they were not. And so now I have what is probably one of the world’s largest collections of personal data."
Above, a plot with a dot showing the time of each of the third of a million emails he's sent since 1989. In this mind-blowing post, Wolfram digs into all sorts of data from his digital output over the past two decades. (via demarko)
Recently, I posted a series of videos where science writers talked about some of the fascinating things they learned at the 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. In one of those clips, Eric Michael Johnson talked a bit about a panel session on whether or not certain cetaceans—primarily whales and dolphins—deserve to have legal rights under the law, the same as people have.
This is an issue that just begs controversy. But in a recent blog post following up on that panel and the meaning behind it, Johnson explains that it's not quite as crazy an idea as it might at first sound.
It was just this understanding of rights as obligations that governments must obey that formed the basis for a declaration of rights for cetaceans (whales and dolphins) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Vancouver, Canada last month. Such a declaration is a minefield ripe for misunderstanding, as the BBC quickly demonstrated with their headline, “Dolphins deserve same rights as humans, say scientists.” However, according to Thomas I. White, Conrad N. Hilton Chair of Business Ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, the idea of granting personhood rights to nonhumans would not make them equal to humans under law. They would not vote, sit on a jury, or attend public school. However, by legally making whales and dolphins “nonhuman persons,” with individual rights under law, it would obligate governments to protect cetaceans from slaughter or abuse.
“The evidence for cognitive and affective sophistication—currently most strongly documented in dolphins—supports the claim that these cetaceans are ‘non-human persons,’” said White. As a result, cetaceans should be seen as “beyond use” by humans and have “moral standing” as individuals. “It is, therefore, ethically indefensible to kill, injure or keep these beings captive for human purposes,” he said.
Johnson also makes an interesting point—there's a legal basis for this kind of thing. After all, if corporations can be people, my friends, why not dolphins?
Should the estate of John Cage sue for the long silences played on Rush Limbaugh's commercial breaks?
To date, over 50 advertisers have stopped paying Rush Limbaugh to spread his hateful, sexually-obsessive tirades. Here are some other stats from Daily Kos:
-- A total of 86 ads aired during WABC's online streaming broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show yesterday;
-- 77 of those ads were public service announcements donated free of charge by the Ad Council;
-- Of the nine paid spots that ran, seven were from companies that have said they have taken steps to ensure their ads no longer air during the program;
-- WABC's online feed included about 5:33 of dead air when ads would normally have run.
And LOLGOP reports that " Dead air has asked to not be aired during Rush Limbaugh's show." Daily Kos: Rush Limbaugh just giving it away for free now
Above is Yokohama, Japan's Solar Techno Park. It sounds like the name of an early 1990s massive rave, but the Park is a solar research facility built by international steelmaker JFE to explore alternative energy technologies. Of course, new energy sources are a hot R&D area in Japan right now following the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami and massive nuclear accident at Fukushima. Fifty-two of the 54 nuclear reactors in Japan are now shut down for safety review. From National Geographic:
Located along the industrial coast of the port city of Yokohama, the Solar Techno Park aims to achieve a combined output capacity of 40 to 60 kilowatts this spring. The facility's most notable apparatus is the HyperHelios (seen here), a photovoltaic system consisting of rows of heliostats with mirrors that follow the sun and a receiving tower."Tilting Toward Solar in Yokohama"
There's some really interesting—and rather disturbing—research coming out of the UK on the nature of cancer cells and why advanced-stage cancers are so difficult to treat.
Scientists have long known that the same type of cancer can play out in very different ways, from a genetic perspective, in one patient compared to another. But this new research shows that, even within the same patient—even within the same tumor—different samples of cancer cells have more genetic differences than they have similarities.
That's a very big deal. It means that cancer cells aren't just cells that grow uncontrollably. They also mutate. Which means that they evolve. That fact has serious implications for cancer treatment. Just like bacteria can evolve to become resistant to antibiotics, cancer cells can evolve resistance to the treatments we throw at them. At Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong explains how this discovery fits into the bigger picture of why curing cancer is so damned difficult:
For a start, cancer isn’t a single disease, so we can dispense with the idea of a single “cure”. There are over 200 different types, each with their own individual quirks. Even for a single type – say, breast cancer – there can be many different sub-types that demand different treatments. Even within a single subtype, one patient’s tumour can be very different from another’s. They could both have very different sets of mutated genes, which can affect their prognosis and which drugs they should take.
And now we know that's true within a tumor, as well. At the Cancer Research UK blog (where Ed used to work), Henry Scowcroft has a nice summary of how this one discovery explains three perplexing problems we've long had with cancer cells:
Firstly, cancer is very difficult to cure after it has spread. This is despite years of progress in chemotherapy and radiotherapy, two techniques that can offer respite to people with advanced cancer.
Secondly, most advanced cancers eventually become resistant to every type of drug used to treat them – both ‘traditional’ chemo and these newer agents. This is quite extraordinary: tumours can work out how to cope with chemicals that they’ve never ‘seen’ before – a biological superpower far beyond that of infectious diseases. Just consider how it’s taken ‘multidrug resistant’ bacteria like MRSA decades to evolve. Yet cancers can do this in a matter of months or even weeks. How?
And finally, researchers haven’t yet managed to develop tests to predict how a patient’s disease will progress, nor monitor their progress (a field called ‘biomarker’ research) – this is despite years of research, and a lot of tantalising pilot studies. Sometimes researchers detect a promising ‘signal’ by looking at samples from a handful of patients, only for this to disappear in larger numbers of people.
Read Ed Yong's full story on this research.
Read Henry Snowcroft's full story on this research.
Here is a selection of classic, short bits Peter did with Firesign Theatre:
Here's a radio interview with Firesign co-founder Phil Proctor about the passing of his longtime collaborator and friend.
UPDATE: Richard Metzger says farewell:
The last time I talked to Peter was a few weeks ago. I’d picked up the Albert Ayler Holy Ghost box set, and there, on one of the live discs recorded in Cleveland in 1966, was Peter introducing the band! I called him up that morning and he excitedly told me about that event and we laughed a lot and I told him that he just HAD to write his autobiography.
“Pete, you’re the ‘Zelig’ of the rock era! You’ve been in a film with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Farrah Fawcett. You coined the terms “love-in.” You smoked a joint with Bob Marley and the Wailers when they were your opening act [True, the Wailers opened for Procter and Bergman in Boston. Pete told me the joint was “arm-sized”!]. You guys gigged with the Buffalo Springfield. You’ve worked with Spike Milligan, and now here you are with Albert Ayler, for god’s sake! I mean, come on! You have to do this!”
Peter seemed to like the idea of writing an autobiography (a lot) and we talked about electronic publishing and Kindles and stuff like that. I had heard just a few days before, from my best friend, Michael Backes, that Peter was sick, but Mike said he played it off very cavalierly, like “Hey, if you’re going to get leukemia, this is the best kind of leukemia to get!” (meaning the most easily treated and managed with medicine).
I waited for the topic to come up on the phone that day. It didn’t, but just as I was about to broach it, Peter got another call and hopped off the line. It was the last time I spoke to him.
(Image: Firesign, in 1971. Thanks, Taylor Jessen)
County Durham in north east England will no longer use the house number 13 in any new streets or developments. The Durham County Council cabinet hopes it will help sell homes that numerically should be designated #13 on the street. From Durham Times:
Dave Wilcox, the council’s strategic highways manager, said the change reflected the concerns of housing developers who often struggled to sell homes located on plot number 13.
“There have also been occasions in the past where the council has been asked to re-number a property as 12A rather than 13 by developers or homeowners,” he said.
[Video Link] As I watched this, I kept tilting my head up to see what was coming down the road, but it didn't work. (Thanks, Felipe Li!)
(Photo: Joseph Kony, via Reuters)
On his personal blog, Marc DuBois of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) writes about the impact of the viral Kony 2012 campaign on the work of long-established humanitarian efforts in Africa.
"Most madmen love the idea of fame, so Joseph Kony’s wet dream just came true," writes DuBois.
Many aid workers are simultaneously offended by the project and jealous of its unprecedented reach. At the time of this blog post, the promotional video for Invisible Children's fundraising/"awareness" campaign about the fugitive African rebel leader has exceeded 70 million views, making it the fastest-growing viral video in internet history.
Snip from DuBois' blog post:
So why, really, are we aid insiders so bothered? It’s the big green monster. Is there another charity whose message has captivated so many so fast? About six months ago, my niece “Lisa” in Chicago excitedly asked me to contribute to Invisible Children. At the time, I’d never heard of it. I poked around. I can’t say I was taken by the cause, but I couldn’t help feeling envious of IC’s having so effectively reached Lisa, usually more interested in dance and boys. These young upstarts at IC are the next big thing. And we aren’t.
Why? Well, for one, they have a simple message that people grasp. For another, good looks. More importantly, Invisible Children has discovered what the entertainment industry figured out a decade ago. It’s not about us old timers. It’s not people who read the Philip Roth or contribute conscientiously to their pension fund. It’s about the under 25s, maybe even the under 15s. It’s about the kids. That’s why there are a couple dozen TV shows about teenage vampires. That’s why we have Jedward.
The aid industry has just been Biebered. IC’s hundreds of thousands of donor / activist – they were invisible to us. Kids. That’s the target and that’s the message. If you think the aid world depends on gray haired HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals, aka rich folk), wait and see what IC does with its pubescent legions. My advice to the aid industry? First, get over it. Then, get on the boat.
DuBois isn't speaking for MSF, but I spoke to another MSFer via Twitter today: Avril Benoît, the group's Director of Communications, who pointed me to DuBois' blog post. I asked her if MSF had released an official statement in reaction to the Kony campaign: No. But, she said, "MSF teams in LRA-affected regions of DR Congo, Central African Republic & South Sudan are likely wary of retaliation risks."