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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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:
"THE SPACE SHUTTLE CAFE~ONE OF A KIND MOBILE FOOD KITCHEN!!!!"
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…
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.
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.
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)
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.
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!
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!).
[Video Link] SoyuzMultfilm's "Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," 1972, presents the iconic tale of Pooh and pals with a tone very different from more familiar adaptations. For starters, Pooh is an annoying, aggressive hedgehog of a bear; Eeyore seems to be paraphrasing Nietzsche, and needs antidepressants even more badly than his English-speaking cousin. Here's another, and another, and another, and another. Update: As blogged on Boing Boing previously, in 2008! (thanks, Rusalka!)
The entire current issue of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review is given over to the tragic wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna, an almost certainly innocent man who was murdered by the state of Texas on 8 December 1989. DeLuna's case is one where "everything that could go wrong did go wrong" in the words of Columbia law Professor James Liebman, who, with 12 students, wrote the 436-page issue. None of the evidence that would have exonerated DeLuna was considered by police or the prosecution, and the likely culprit, a man who was also named Carlos, and who was frequently mistaken for DeLuna, went free. It's a nightmarish account of a man whom the authorities "knew" to be guilty, who was killed despite his innocence. It's a chilling reminder where laws like the UK's stop-and-search rules (which allow police to stop and search without suspicion, if they "just know" there's something wrong) and the no-fly list (which allows for the arbitrary removal of the right to travel without any public airing of evidence or charge, when authorities "just know" you're not safe to fly) will inevitably end up.
From a Guardian story by Ed Pilkington:
From the moment of his arrest until the day of his death by lethal injection six years later, DeLuna consistently protested he was innocent. He went further – he said that though he hadn't committed the murder, he knew who had. He even named the culprit: a notoriously violent criminal called Carlos Hernandez.
The two Carloses were not just namesakes – or tocayos in Spanish, as referenced in the title of the Columbia book. They were the same height and weight, and looked so alike that they were sometimes mistaken for twins. When Carlos Hernandez's lawyer saw pictures of the two men, he confused one for the other, as did DeLuna's sister Rose.
At his 1983 trial, Carlos DeLuna told the jury that on the day of the murder he'd run into Hernandez, who he'd known for the previous five years. The two men, who both lived in the southern Texas town of Corpus Christi, stopped off at a bar. Hernandez went over to a gas station, the Shamrock, to buy something, and when he didn't return DeLuna went over to see what was going on.
DeLuna told the jury that he saw Hernandez inside the Shamrock wrestling with a woman behind the counter. DeLuna said he was afraid and started to run. He had his own police record for sexual assault – though he had never been known to possess or use a weapon – and he feared getting into trouble again.
Avi Solomon: What do you see in your childhood that pointed you onto the path that your life took?
Lloyd Kahn: When I was a kid I had a little workbench with holes in it, and the holes were square or round or triangular. And you had to pick the right little piece of wood block and hammer it in with a little wooden hammer. And so I'd hammer with it, put the round dowel into the round hole, and hammer it through. And then maybe the most formative thing was when I was twelve - I helped my dad build a house. It had a concrete slab floor, and concrete block walls. And my job was shoveling sand and gravel and cement into the concrete mixer for quite a while. We'd go up there and work on weekends. One day we got the walls all finished, and we were putting a roof on the carport, and I got to go up on the roof. They gave me a canvas carpenter's belt, a hammer and nails, and I got to nail down the 1" sheeting. And I still remember that, kneeling on the roof nailing, the smell of wood on a sunny day. And then I worked as a carpenter when I was in college, on the docks. I just always loved doing stuff with my hands. Read the rest
Read the rest
A rather implausible report in Chinasmack (translated from the Chinese journal 163) says that a zookeeper saved a rare, born-in-captivity baby Francois Leaf Monkey from surgery by licking its anus until it passed the whole peanut it ate after a thoughtless patron tossed it to him. Reportedly, the anus-licking proceeded for over an hour.
50-year-old Zhang Bangsheng used warm water to clean a small Francois’ Leaf Monkey’s buttocks, then began using his mouth to lick it, not stopping for over an hour, until the little monkey defecated a single peanut. Only after the peanut was defecated did Zhang Bangsheng laugh with satisfaction.
As it is understood, this small Francois’ langur is only 3 months old, and is the first Francois’ Leaf Monkey to be born in nearly 10 years at this animal park. The Francois’ langur is a rare primate from Guangxi and Guizhou and is amongst the nation’s most protected animals. Because it is so precious, the zoo gave it to model worker and high-level expert Zhang Bangsheng to care for and raise.
The accompanying photo is rather ambiguous.
The May 27, 1922 issue of The Evening Independent carried a story about moonshiners wearing "cow shoes" to trick revenuers -- rather than leaving suspicious footprints leading up to their secret stills, they'd leave innocent-looking hoofprints in the dirt and grass. The New Yorker's "Photo Booth" had a good snap of one of the shoes (above).
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Maira Sutton has a long, engrossing account of the popular protest at the Dallas session of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive treaty negotiation that includes a set of copyright rules that leave SOPA and ACTA in the dust. TPP's organizers -- especially in the USA -- have been hostile to any public participation or transparency. They even ordered a hotel to cancel the reservation made by activists who wanted to host their own parallel information session and then lied about it. Undaunted, activists, civil society groups, copyfighters, and other interested parties continue to dog TPP's heels. The Dallas meeting saw the notorious Yes Men "Corporate Power Tool" award ceremony. Even better, the hotel's bathrooms had their toilet paper replaced with TPP TP, custom-printed rolls that explained the problems with TPP.
Since the official planned event was scarcely sufficient to make a significant impact, Public Knowledge and American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property co-hosted a side event for negotiators to learn about the threats of harsh copyright enforcement. The panel included EFF’s International IP Director, Gwen Hinze, who spoke about the unbalanced outcomes non-U.S. Internet users and innovators would face if the current version of the IP chapter were passed. While the event was well-attended, civil society were ultimately forced to bear all the costs to put on this event.
Last week, 32 legal scholars sent a letter to the office of the USTR demanding transparency in the process. Including the release of the text and demand for real participation from civil society, they demanded the immediate release of “reports on US positions and proposals on intellectual property matters that are currently given only to Industry Trade Advisory Committee members under confidentiality agreements.” This is key because there is nothing that could justify the withholding of such reports that simply outline the U.S. position on intellectual property from the public. This is especially true given the fact that the U.S. government’s proposals could impede Congress from engaging in domestic legal reform of legislation regulating IP.
The USTR sent them a preliminary response the following day. Ambassador Kirk essentially blew them off, claiming that they have taken “extraordinary efforts” to have the whole negotiation process inclusive of civil society and the public. In the letter, he compared the level of transparency to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) meetings, which indeed have always been top secret and therefore offer a laughably low bar of comparison.
Marc Jacobs's SoHo boutique was graffitied by Kidult, who painted ART in giant pink letters across the storefront. Jacobs had the graffiti photographed, removed, and printed on a t-shirt, which he offered for sale for $689, or "Signed by the artist, $680."
Earlier this week, on the night of the Met Ball, the Marc Jacobs boutique in SoHo was hit by French graffiti artist Kidult, who has famously vandalized Supreme, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton, among others. The hit? Kidult took a fire extinguisher filled with pink paint, and sprayed the word ART over the front of the store (seen above).
As a crew cleaned it up the next morning and Kidult took to Twitter to brag, Marc Jacobs and his canny reps turned the stunt on its head, capitalizing on the graffiti artist’s own work to the benefit of their own marketing: By Tweeting it out as “Art by Art Jacobs” and Instagramming an ‘artsy’ picture of it. Kidult, clearly on the scene, tried to make his presence known, but it was too late: Jacobs had won that one.
Brian Shimkovitz was on a Fulbright scholarship in Ghana when he got hooked on the cassette culture of the region. Street vendors hawked West African recordings in myriad genres, from highlife to African disco, old left-field soul to curious local pop. Shimkovitz started a blog, Awesome Tapes from Africa, and a record label to share his passion for this music, much of which is unheard outside of West Africa. In the new issue of The Wire, Shimkovitz shares some of his fave Web sites where he gets turned on to new sounds from around the globe, such as…
There are an unbelievable number of websites that stream Somali music, this is just one of them that I have been enjoying. It's completely overwhelming and fun: from Minneapolis to Stockholm, expatriate Somalis are able to hear their hometown sounds with ease on sites like this. The rest of us can try and keep up.
Cosmicmantova This astounding archive of cosmic disco DJ sets from the late 70s and early 80s could you busy for a while. Anyone who loves cosmic disco needs to go here and die happy. The most epic and thorough way to explore the sounds that made Daniele Baldelli and co. so exciting and visionary, from obscure soul slams to Afro-inspired synthed-out dreams.
Brian Shimkovitz's choice links (The Wire)
Twitter's #freebyron hashtag is alive with the news that Byron Sonne, the Toronto-area security expert who was incarcerated and treated as a terrorist for pointing out and making fun of the security flaws in the $1.2B security scheme for the Toronto G20 summit, has been found Not Guilty on all counts.
A moment of sanity from the Canadian judicial system, and all it cost was Sonne's marriage, house, and freedom.
Filmmaker Dan Cohen is the guy behind "An Article of Hope," a feature film project seven years in the making. The documentary is done, but Dan's got a Kickstarter to raise funds to get it on television and into schools. Below, some words from Dan for Boing Boing readers about the film:
What could space shuttle Astronauts and the Holocaust possibly have in common? When I began my research into my documentary An Article of Hope, I thought I was making a film about a Holocaust story. But I soon unraveled a story that was much more than that. It is a story that crosses generations woven by the lives of three men, born at a different time, but brought together by a twist of fate.
At the center of the story were the Astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia. All from different backgrounds from around the world, magnificently diverse, yet threaded by a moment from the Holocaust, a horrific attempt to stamp out diversity.
Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon was a hero fighter pilot, a man who had the ability to rise to the moment. By the time he launched into space he was more than that, he was the representative of his country, his faith, and in his eyes perhaps, humanity. He searched for a symbol of this responsibility, and found a little Torah scroll given to a boy in a secret Bar Mitzvah in a Nazi concentration camp.
Ghassab Al-Bedoul, 42, offers up his cave in Petra, Jordan, for visitors on CouchSurfing.com. It looks like a fantastic experience. In the four years he's been registered on the site, Al-Bedoul says he's hosted more than 1,000 people. From CNN:
The cave, which is no larger than 150 square feet, is uniquely modern. A row of solar-powered lights, a gift from a couch surfer, encircles the front of the cave entrance. When the sun sets past the Petra mountains, they are the only visible lights.
The outside of the cave is hard stone, but Al-Bedoul has done some decorating on the inside. The roof is painted black with stars circling the room. Candlelight glows just bright enough to see some of the traditional Jordanian paintings he's placed inside; not included in that collection is the large Bob Marley poster near the cave's entrance…
When asking Al-Bedoul for the washrooms, he points to the mountains, and says, "far away please."
The Avengers was both widely pirated ahead of release and the most successful opening in box-office history. As Forbes's Paul Tassi notes, this suggests that piracy and commercial success are not mutually exclusive:
An early copy of The Avengers actually leaked out onto the internet a week ahead of release, and Disney was subsequently flipping out about the prospect of the full film being released on the web. Shortly after, the camcorder version had been downloaded a half million times, likely a record for the format.
However, despite setting piracy records, all that’s really happened is that this has shown how much illegal downloads of in-theater movies really does not effect box office tallies. Even if you’re using the skewed math that says every download is a lost sale, the pirates would only make up 0.5% of the revenues of the film so far.
Of course, that’s not the case, and anyone passionate enough about The Avengers to download it a week early more than likely had a desire to see on the big screen as well. Even if pirates are “cheapskates” the way they’re portrayed, cam copies of movies just aren’t remotely in the same league as seeing a movie in a theater. An apt comparison is that piracy of music does not prevent people from showing up to concerts. It’s just not a true alternative, especially for a film as epic as The Avengers. It’s not a full experience watching a low quality variant on your laptop.
The Avengers Demonstrates Piracy's Overstated Effect on Ticket Sales (Thanks, Lis Riba!)