Police loom over Byron Sonne's victory party

Uh-oh. A tweet from Toronto notes that weirdly, there are 4 cop cars outside #hacklabto as they are having a party for #freebyron. HackLabTo is the Kensington Market hackerspace that Byron Sonne (who was acquitted yesterday on all counts related to his emperor-wears-no-clothesery of the Toronto G20 summit in 2010) is affiliated with. Update: they're gone now. Cory

Clay Shirky on the relationship between physical space and creativity

I really liked Clay Shirky's essay on the relationship between physical space and creativity. It's one of those classic, Shirkian riffs that includes a bunch of seemingly glib and merely clever ideas and culminates with a thing that ties it all together and makes you realize that a bunch of stuff you've been taking for granted is REALLY important and a bit weird.

In this video of his talk at PSFK CONFERENCE NYC, Clay Shirky talks about the work of Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. After working there as an assistant professor for almost ten years, Shirky describes five student projects that he thinks are pushing the creative boundaries - from interface design to how people cluster to build new work. At the end of the talk, the technology thought-leader compares creatives as members of a philharmonic orchestra and wonders if any rules can be drawn from looking at such an ensemble.

Clay Shirky: What I Learned About Creativity By Watching Creatives (Thanks, Avi!)

History of gendering in Lego


On Sociological Images, David Pickett is tracing the history of gendering in Lego toys, from the early efforts to produce girl-sets and boy-sets before 1988, to the full-blown gendering watershed attending the release of the Pirates minifigs, which had definite "girl" and "boy" characters. It all went downhill from there, too. He's got two parts posted, with more to come. It's engrossing stuff.

This pioneering pirate was the first in a long line of token females in otherwise male-dominated action-centric themes. The imbalanced ratio of masculine to feminine minifigs persists today, though it has lessened over time. I have seen several different numbers for this ratio, so I decided to do my own count. I gave TLG the benefit of the doubt and counted as gender neutral any minifigs lacking definitely masculine (facial hair) or feminine (lipstick, eyelashes, cleveage) traits, even when LEGO marketing materials clearly delineate them as male or female.

The following graphs represent masculine minifigs in blue, feminine minifigs in red, and gender neutral minifigs in gray. I have also calculated the masculine to feminine ratio (m/f ratio). Ideally this should be 1, indicating that there are equal number of masculine and feminine figures. This chart shows the aggreagate across all themes for the five key years between 1989 and 1999. The m/f ratio for this data is 3.74 (which is a lot better than the initial 13.5 it starts at in 1989, but not exactly something to celebrate).

The trend to unrepresent feminine figures in the main LEGO product line is mirrored by a tendency to overrepresent them in the “girls only” lines. LEGO released four major “girls only” themes through this time period: Paradisa, Belville, Scala Dolls, and Clikits. Here’s a quick run down of the “girls only” themes:

Part I: Historical Perspective on the LEGO Gender Gap

Part II: Historical Perspective on the LEGO Gender Gap

Rocking Horses of the Apocalypse


Artist Carrin Welch's first foray into sculpture is a marvellous set of "Four Rocking Horses of the Apocalypse," made from wood. They're nearly finished, and eminently ridable.

My interpretation of these horsemen from Revelations in the Bible is very loose, it's an artistic idea based mostly on how I want them to look, and less on the many academic and theological interpretations. I want them to appear ominous and imposing, but the catch is that they are giant toys. They are meant to be fantastic and absurd, but also beautiful and magical. You cannot ride one of the mammoths without feeling a little joy. With this world feeling so unstable, and all the theories of its end, the rocking horses bring light to a dark time.

All four horses are expected to be completed by end of May 2012, when they will travel to Burning Flipside for their collective debut. After that I will be collaborating with fellow artists to produce some fun, fantasy images of the rocking horses, and seeking opportunities to show them and let people interact with them.

Welch completed the horses during a period of unemployment, thanks to funding provided by her fans on Kickstarter.

The Four Rocking Horses of the Apocalypse (via Neatorama)

Excerpt from Coldest War, sequel to Tregillis's fantastic supernatural alternate WWII novel Bitter Seedss

Tor.com has just posted an excerpt from Ian Tregillis's The Coldest War, a sequel to his smashing debut Nazi X-men vs English warlocks alternate history, Bitter Seeds. I've got a review queued up for Coldest War (which is a captured-Nazi-Soviet-Xmen-Ninjas v English warlocks novel), and I just loved it. Tregillis is one of the most exciting new writers in the field today, with a gift for history, storytelling, and action rarely matched. Coldest War is out on July 17, which gives you plenty of time to read Bitter Seeds.

Warlocks do not age gracefully.

Viktor Sokolov had drawn this conclusion after meeting several warlocks. Now he watched a fourth man from afar, and what he saw supported his conclusion. Age and ruin lay heavy over the figure who emerged from the dilapidated cottage in the distant clearing. The old man hobbled toward a hand pump, an empty pail hanging from the crook of his shriveled arm. Viktor adjusted the focus on his binoculars.

No. Not gracefully at all. Viktor had met one fellow whose skin was riddled by pockmarks; yet another had burn scars across half his face. The least disfigured had lost an ear, and the eye on that side was a sunken, rheumy marble. These men had paid a steep price for the wicked knowledge they carried. Paid it willingly.

This new fellow fit the pattern. But Viktor wouldn’t know for certain if he had found the right person until he could get a closer look at the old man’s hands. Better to do that in private. He slid the binoculars back into the leather case at his waist, careful not to rustle the mound of bluebells that concealed him.

The clearing was quiet except for the squeaking of rusted metal as the old man labored at the pump, a narrow pipe caked in flaking blue paint. But that noise felt muted somehow, as though suffocated by a thick silence. Viktor hadn’t heard or seen a single bird in the hours he’d lain here; even sunrise had come and gone without a peep of birdsong. A breeze drifted across his hiding spot in the underbrush, carrying with it the earthy scents of the forest and the latrine stink of the old man’s privy. But the breeze dissipated, as though reluctant to linger among the gnarled oaks.

Ian was one of my Clarion writing workshop students, and was, even then, a remarkable writer.

The Coldest War (Excerpt)

Airplane converted into Space Shuttle food truck

Shittlecafeee The out-of-this-world Space Shuttle Cafe can be yours for $150,000. It sure would make a far-out food truck. (Sweet old car not included.) From the eBay listing:

This kitchen is built inside the only road worthy DC3 Airplane licensed for street use in the world that we know of, painted in the theme of NASA’S Space Shuttle.

This is a once in a life time opportunity to own not only a great money making business, but a piece of American History also. This aircraft was built in 1944 and flew during World War II. It also flew as an airliner during the 50’s and 60’s and was alleged to have been hijacked to Cuba during that time.

It was converted for street use in 1976, mounted on a GMC Bus frame. We purchased the vehicle in 2001 and converted the empty shell into this completely self-contained commercial kitchen…

"THE SPACE SHUTTLE CAFE~ONE OF A KIND MOBILE FOOD KITCHEN!!!!"

Paranoid, claustrophobic short film: The View From the Closet

Tomek sends us his claustrophobic short film "The View From the Closet" ("A disturbed, paranoid individual enters his apartment to find himself being watched by something hiding in the closet"), which is an official selection at Los Angeles Short Film Festival.

View From The Closet is now online (Thanks, Tomek!)

iPod Body Mod: magnetic wrist piercings become mount for Apple iPod Nano

REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Tattoo artist Dave Hurban displays an iPod Nano which he has attached to his wrists through magnetic piercings in his wrist in New York, May 14, 2012. Reuters has an interview with him here.

"I just invented the strapless watch," he said on Monday of his Apple Inc device, set to display a clock.

Hurban cheerfully recounted how he mapped out the four corners of the iPod on his arm and then inserted four titanium studs into his skin. Once the incisions healed, he popped on his iPod, which is held in place magnetically.

"It's way simpler than you think it is," said Hurban.

Below, Durban's HOWTO video for the project he calls "iDermal," explaining how he pulled it off. Not that he can just, you know, pull them off now.

Read the rest

"How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet"—Mat Honan

An excellent long-read about Flickr and Yahoo by Mat Honan at Gizmodo today. Anyone who has loved and been let down by the once-great photo-sharing site now caught in the purple zombie's death spiral will nod in agreement throughout. The opening graf:

Web startups are made out of two things: people and code. The people make the code, and the code makes the people rich. Code is like a poem; it has to follow certain structural requirements, and yet out of that structure can come art. But code is art that does something. It is the assembly of something brand new from nothing but an idea.

Read: How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet. (Gizmodo)

How Mitt Romney "created jobs"

Gazillionaire financier Mitt Romney is the latest "CEO President" offered up by the GOP, on a platform of "job creation." When Romney oversaw Bain capital, he supervised the takeover of American Pad and Paper. When the deal was complete, the 258 employees were marched out of the Marion, Indiana factory, told they were fired, and told they could re-apply for their jobs at lower salaries and with fewer benefits. They were warned that some of them would not be re-hired. A long piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Ron Scherer and Leigh Montgomery consider the record of his imperial corporateness:

“We were told they bought the assets, not the union or the [labor] contract,” recalls Randy Johnson, who at the time worked as a machine operator and was a union shop steward. The workers – some the third generation in their families to have jobs there – eventually went on strike, and Bain closed the factory 5-1/2 months after acquiring it...

In an analysis of Bain Capital under Romney, the Journal estimated that Bain made $2.5 billion in profits on $1.1 billion invested in 77 separate deals. Of those 77 transactions, 22 percent ended with the firms in bankruptcy after the eighth year of the Bain investment. Bain disputes the Journal’s account as inaccurate.

Is Mitt Romney really a job creator? What his Bain Capital record shows. (via Reddit)

Doc Sendof's "Turn On Kit," 1969: "Eleven far-out symbols!" (vintage ad)

From Boing Boing reader MewDeep's stupendous collection of scanned ads from the 1960s and 1970s, "Doc Sendof's Turn On Kit, 1969: "Eleven far-out symbols!" with which one could upgrade one's "Bug, board, or boudoir." We should be selling these in the Boing Boing Shop. This image shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool. Thanks, MewDeep!

GM to end display ads on Facebook

The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors will soon stop advertising on Facebook "after the auto maker's executives determined their paid ads had little impact on consumers' car purchases." GM will, however, engage in Facebook's "pages" that allow marketers to display promotional content at no cost. The news comes just days before Facebook's planned IPO.

New Skype malware threat reported: Poison Ivy

Dancho Danchev reports an incident in which a friend pinged him at an odd hour on Skype "with a message pointing to what appeared to be a photo site with the message 'hahahahaha foto' and a link to hxxp://random_subdomain.photalbum.org." Yup, malware. The Poison Ivy trojan is spreading across Skype. [webroot via Joseph Menn]

Ripped skull tee


A nice t-shirt mod from the folks at Hurley -- the rip-skull. I don't expect it would survive a lot of washings, though.

DIY SKULL T-SHIRT (via Crazy Abalone)

Vinyl LP AT-AT clock


Here's a nice twist on the traditional vinyl-LP-as-a-clock craft: a cut-out AT-AT mod. From Etsy seller NotByLaser (which implies that this was not cut by a laser!).

Star Wars AT-AT: Hand Crafted Vinyl Record Clock - Made To Order (via Neatorama)