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Our Avram takes to Making Light to tell the remarkable story of a model who found herself sitting next to a lecherous married man on an airplane, and who crowdsourced a name-and-shame campaign for him on Twitter that uncovered his identity. Avram makes the point that this is more science fictional than most science fiction:
Ms Stetten is a twenty-something model living in New York (though possibly not a native). Yesterday she was on a plane when the fellow sitting next to her, wearing a wedding ring, tried hitting on her. She turned him down, and tweeted about it. He kept at it.
Over the course of the conversation, Brian mentioned not just his first name, but also that he’s an actor, and born in Oklahoma. Eventually he brought up that he’d just been working on a project with Matthew McConaughey, and that’s all it takes nowadays. Inside a minute, one of Stetten’s followers had found him on the IMDB.
Things got worse for Brian from there — lied about his marriage, turned out to be lying about being “clean and sober”, etc. The story’s been picked up by a Hollywood gossip site, so I imagine he’s got some ’splainin’ to do back home. I’m interested in this not so much for the sake of schadenfreude about some actor I’d never heard of (although it is fun) as for the implications for science fiction. How much have you read recently that gives you that glimpse of the possibilities of heavily networked societies? How many authors (other than Charlie Stross) are really writing about the possibilities of a crowd-sourced panopticon? And how many are still living in the ’70s?
Apparently, corporate profits just aren't enough for some global megabusinesses these days: a Walmart store in South St. Louis County, Missouri was emptied by police when an "active methamphetamine production laboratory" was discovered inside.
Now, it's entirely possible that the "lab" consisted of an empty plastic bottle and some chemicals, but still, you guys: some tweeker was cooking crystal inside a freakin' Walmart.
The store was open and full of customers when it was cleared about 6:15 p.m. Thursday after employees and then police discovered the possible hazardous situation involving the substances used to make methamphetamine, St. Louis County police Lt. Mark Cox said. The chemicals were discovered after police were called about a shoplifter. Cox did not yet know details of the "lab," how it was put together or where in the store it was located.
UPDATE: It gets weirder. This local news report further clarifies that a woman detained for shoplifting at the Walmart "began to make meth in the loss prevention office."
Now that is baller. You're busted for shoplifting, placed in what amounts to a holding cell inside the store, and how do you kill time? Makin' ice!
An anonymous reader sent me Ray Bradbury's 1977 concept script for Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center. It's a beautiful read, and led me to vivid recollections of the original script from Epcot's opening in the early 1980s.
MAN AND HIS SPACESHIP EARTH (PDF) (Thanks, Anonymous Reader!)
Once upon a time you told me that you were not the one that put me in the chair at the end of "Brazil." I'm afraid that this is no longer true — unable as I am to think of anyone else who is directly responsible for my current condition. Your later offer to be the friend who becomes a torturer has more than come true. I am not sure you are aware of just how much pain you are inflicting, but I don't believe "responsibility to the company" in any way absolves you from crimes against even this small branch of humanity. As long as my name is on the film, what is done to it is done to me — there is no way of separating these two entities. I feel every cut, especially the ones that sever the balls. And I plead, whether they are done in the name of legitimate and responsible experiments or personal curiosity, if you really wish to make your version of "Brazil" then put your name on it. Then you can do what you like. "Sid Sheinberg's Brazil" has a nice ring to it. But, until that time, I shall continue to decline. Please let me know how much longer must I endure before the bleeding stops.
c.c.: Jack Lint
This letter ran in a book that I can't wait to read, called The Battle of Brazil: Terry Gilliam v. Universal Pictures in the Fight to the Final Cut.
Gilliam became so frustrated by Sheinberg's refusal to release the film that Gilliam made it public in a big way.
This week, Boing Boing is presenting a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series here. -- Mark
Like Tears in the Rain, by Gareth Branwyn
[Video Link] In 1982, my wife and I had just moved from a rural commune in Virginia to Washington, DC. We moved to the city so that she could pursue her music career (among other reasons). We were still country mice, easily awoken in the morning by street traffic, bothered by the air quality, and longing for the open skies of the country -- where, at night, you could see the stardust of the Milky Way clear as day.
Every year my wife would go to Nantucket to perform at a restaurant called The Brotherhood of Thieves -- a place that wouldn't look at all out of place in Treasure Island. It was dark, brick-walled, candle and lantern-lit, with big oak-slab tables and wooden ass-numbing chairs. In 1982, she was performing a duo act with well-known New England folkie Linda Worster, with whom she frequently played on the island.
Seeing them perform every night was a joy, but some nights I'd want to drift onto the streets of Nantucket, get swept up into the tide of pink and Nantucket-red golf clothes and flouncy summer dresses, and see where the night might wash me up.
On this night, a somewhat cold and cloudy one, I ended up under the marquee of Nantucket's Dreamland Theater, a giant, creaking, wooden ship of a building that smelled of mold, popcorn grease, and sunscreen.
Blade Runner, it read. I knew nothing about the film, but it was sci-fi and had Harrison Ford in it, so I figured it'd at least be the perfect way to kill a couple of hours before the ladies' last set. Little did I know that I was stepping into a portal and would emerge a different person, on a different life trajectory than the person who was stumbling down the shabby carpet in the dark, looking for a seat.
Read the rest
"Black men are targeted and stopped and frisked for the crime of being black in poor black neighborhoods," Touré writes, "and those found with small bags of marijuana are sucked into the justice system and forever branded a criminal. This means they will struggle to find work, may not qualify for student-aid and likely stay in public housing. These men are virtually removed from society for a nonviolent offense that many Americans commit. They are failed by America."
As he notes in the story, 12 US states have decriminalized marijuana, including California (though application of the law is a total mess here). Because of New York’s size and place in America, however, decriminalizing marijuana in the state of New York would represent a significant turning point. Read the whole thing.
A quarter past eleven, and he was having breakfast over the Monday paper when the phone rang. He didn't know anyone up so early. Nightside reporters didn't start work till five. No one called unless a calamity required his attention, usually a boardwalk fire or drowning worth a few paragraphs on the local page. A fire at a crowded restaurant, a hotel robbery, another killing would be a welcome change of pace --any story that didn't involve the Coast Guard. November was too cold to go out in the cutter, and get sick to his stomach chasing after fishermen who'd been caught overnight in strong currents.
But the voice on the other end wasn't from the paper. "Adam Jordan, this is Ed Pelfrey."
"Do I know you?"
"I'd like to talk to you about something that ran under your name in the Press."
Jordan had been meaning to remove his number from the phone book. Press readers weren't shy about bothering him at home to ask what right he had to put something they didn't like in his paper. He'd point out that it wasn't his paper, and that Thomas Jefferson had given him the right, but Press readers weren't listeners. Rather than continue the civics lessons, he'd change to an unlisted number.
"I was out late, Ed, tracking down more stories for you, so if you'll excuse me I'll be getting back to my Rice Krispies."
"Don't hang up. There are a couple of articles we need to discuss."
Only two? Readers who didn't appreciate his reporting normally had a gripe with every word he wrote.
"One," Pelfrey said, "is the execution of Conrad Palmer. The other is the body on the beach."
"What didn't you like about them?"
"There was nothing I didn't like. They were excellent accounts with lively writing, and good insights into the thinking of a pathetic killer, and the detectives hunting the murderer of a beautiful girl."
"Thanks for the kind words, Ed. I really do have to get off the phone."
"I haven't told you who I am," Pelfrey said. "I'm the editor of Real Detective magazine at Turner Men's Group in Manhattan."
Read the rest
Above: John McCormack shows off a specimen of the sword-billed hummingbird, the only bird known to have a bill longer than the rest of its body
Seth Teicher of Atlas Obscura wrote about his visit to Occidental College's Moore Laboratory's Bird Specimen Collection on Obscura Day 2012 in May. He took a lot of photos of the visit.
On April 28th, I woke up on the west side of LA, grabbed my gear and headed due east to Occidental College where I joined about a dozen other people for a hands-on tour of beautiful, dead birds. Lots of them. I mean drawers upon drawers FULL of them.
JPL’s Facebook page is here. If you go and tweet from the event, use the #JPLOpen hashtag. Details are here, and more photos are here. (photo: NASA JPL)
The event, themed "Great Journeys," will feature a life-size model of Curiosity, the rover currently bound for Mars aboard NASA/JPL’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft; demonstrations from numerous other space missions; JPL’s machine shop, where robotic spacecraft parts are built; and the Microdevices Lab, where engineers and scientists use tiny technology to revolutionize space exploration.
JPL Open House includes hands-on activities and opportunities to talk with scientists and engineers. For the first time ever, cell phone users, using text-message capabilities, will be able to take part in a mobile scavenger hunt. “The Voyage” scavenger hunt participants can search for secret capsules hidden across JPL and unlock secret codes.
Neil Gaiman's remembrance of Ray Bradbury is very sweet and paints a picture of one of the field's great mensches:
Last week, at dinner, a friend told me that when he was a boy of 11 or 12 he met Ray Bradbury. When Bradbury found out that he wanted to be a writer, he invited him to his office and spent half a day telling him the important stuff: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Every day. Whether you feel like it or not. That you can't write one book and stop. That it's work, but the best kind of work. My friend grew up to be a writer, the kind who writes and supports himself through writing.
Ray Bradbury was the kind of person who would give half a day to a kid who wanted to be a writer when he grew up.
A man who won't forget Ray Bradbury (Thanks, Deborah!)
The NYT has an update on the case of designer Takeshi Miyakawa. The 50-year-old Japanese artist, who lives in New York City, was arrested last month while he draped plastic “I ♥ NY” bags stuffed with LEDs and batteries from trees in Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The act frightened some observers who thought "his art installation, timed to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, was a series of bombs." He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal nuisance and “planting a false bomb,” then imprisoned on Rikers Island and ordered to undergo a mental evaluation. He's out now. Maybe he should have a conversation with Star Simpson.