In his lifetime, Vidal received the National Book Award, wrote many novels, short stories, plays and essays. He was a political activist, and received the most votes of any Democrat in more than 50 years when he ran as a Democratic candidate for Congress in upstate New York. Vidal's The City and the Pillar was one of the first American novels to present homosexuality in a direct manner, and outraged many at the time.
The Eraserhead original soundtrack recording will get the special vinyl reissue treatment in August from Sacred Bones Records. This deluxe edition includes the LP, a 16 page booklet, three 11" x 11" art prints, digital download, and a 7" of the heartwarmer above, "In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song)" penned by Peter Ivers and performed by Laurel Near. (Yes, the song later covered by The Pixies, Devo, Bauhaus, Miranda Sex Garden, Tuxedomoon, Faith No More, etc.) The 7" B-side is a previously-unreleased Ivers track from the Eraserhead sessions.
For more on the strange life and mysterious murder of Peter Ivers, check out the book "In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre."
Bruce Schneier asks what lessons we can learn from the shooting in a Colorado movie theater, and answers the question with admirable good sense:
The rarity of events such as the Aurora massacre doesn't mean we should ignore any lessons it might teach us. Because people overreact to rare events, they're useful catalysts for social introspection and policy change. The key here is to focus not on the details of the particular event but on the broader issues common to all similar events.
Installing metal detectors at movie theaters doesn't make sense -- there's no reason to think the next crazy gunman will choose a movie theater as his venue, and how effectively would a metal detector deter a lone gunman anyway? -- but understanding the reasons why the United States has so many gun deaths compared with other countries does. The particular motivations of alleged killer James Holmes aren't relevant -- the next gunman will have different motivations -- but the general state of mental health care in the United States is.
Even with this, the most important lesson of the Aurora massacre is how rare these events actually are. Our brains are primed to believe that movie theaters are more dangerous than they used to be, but they're not. The riskiest part of the evening is still the car ride to and from the movie theater, and even that's very safe.
Yesterday, Xeni told you that the deadly virus Ebola has reemerged in Uganda. The disease has actually been infecting and killing people in the western part of the country for three weeks. We're hearing about it now, in big font, because some sources have reported that the disease has reached Kampala, the country's capital. (Other sources say only that one person infected with Ebola traveled to Kampala, and that there have been no reports of anyone catching the disease in that city.)
The Kampala link is somewhat concerning. Previous Ebola outbreaks have centered on rural areas, villages, and mid-sized towns. With the exception of a handful of highly monitored cases that centered around research labs in the U.S. and Europe, and the case of a medical worker who accidentally brought the virus to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1996, Ebola has not previously found its way into any major global hubs of human life. Kampala may not be on your radar with New York, Tokyo, or London, but air travel and money give it strong ties to the rest of the world and population density gives it a much larger number of potential victims within striking distance.
But here is a key thing about Ebola—it's scary as hell, but it burns itself out pretty fast and it's not that easy to spread. On average, Ebola kills a majority of the people it infects, and it kills them quickly. The time between infection and onset of symptoms ranges from two to 21 days. That means the virus only has so long to find new hosts. Meanwhile, Ebola isn't airborne. To catch it, you have to have contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Historically, it's been a disease of people and their medical workers, or people and their immediate families. In rural communities, Ebola can burn through the small, isolated population and find itself with nowhere to go in the span of a couple months.
Infineon Technologies' Lim Saw Sing discovered a colony of microscopic nudists having an orgy on the surface of an integrated circuit. Of course, there is some chance, albeit small, that they aren't nudists but rather just the polyimide surface itself after being exposed to etching by reactive ions. In any case, the image took a top prize at the 2012 IEEE International Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits.
"The Art of Failure 2012" (IEEE Spectrum)
Stage magician and "magic experience designer" Ferdinando Buscema, who I've previously posted about, was a guest on the always-provocative Expanding Mind podcast with Erik Davis and Maja D'Aoust. The conversation was fantastic and highly illuminating. It resonated with my own interests in magic (and art and science) as a tool to shift our perception/understanding of reality, cultivate a sense of wonder, and induce transformative experiences. Indeed, Ferdinando mentioned that he's been greatly inspired by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson, both of whom were old friends and patron saints of bOING bOING. Also on the program, Ferdinando spoke highly of a book titled Magic and Meaning by magic philosophers Eugene Burger and Robert E. Neale about the psychological, symbolic, and spiritual roots of theatrical magic. I look forward to soaking that one in. The photo above is from Ferdinando's recent gig at the famed Magic Castle in Los Angeles. Right now, he's organizing a TEDxNavigli in Italy for early March, themed around "the power of love." Listen below or here to Expanding Mind: Magic Experience Design.
Timothy Ray Brown (aka, The Berlin Patient) is the first person to go from being HIV+ to HIV-. Usually, he's described as the first person to be cured of AIDS. Scientists are a bit more circumspect about the situation. Brown got a bone marrow transplant using marrow donated by a person whose body has natural resistance to HIV. That was in 2005. Now off of anti-retroviral drugs, Brown's HIV has (so far) not returned. Two other men have been through the same treatment with promising results, although they are still taking anti-retroviral drugs, so it's impossible to say yet whether they are also actually HIV-.
Even if this is a cure, it is not the world's most widely applicable cure. Yet. But it is very interesting and, obviously, an amazing story.
I've never heard Timothy Ray Brown speak before, so I wanted to post this interview video from Democracy Now. It probably won't add much to the story that you didn't already know, but it's powerful to see the guy, himself, talking about it.
Via Samal Coff
This is one in a series of essays about enthralling books. I asked my friends and colleagues to recommend a book that took over their life. I told them the book didn't have to be a literary masterpiece. The only thing that mattered was that the book captivated them and carried them into the world within its pages, making them ignore the world around them. I asked: "Did you shirk responsibilities so you could read it? Did you call in sick? Did you read it until dawn? That's the book I want you to tell us about!" See all the essays in the Enthralling Book series here. -- Mark
But for true enthrallment, I have to point to that icon of adolescent true-believerhood, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. So help me, I read through my Signet mass paperback edition twice, underlining passages, and taxing the binding to the point that I had to rubberband my copy to keep its pages together. I may have been 16 at the time.
Is Atlas Shrugged a great book? Not as I see things now. But Ayn Rand had the knack of writing with a total conviction that appealed to teenagers seeking a grand belief system. She was also influenced by (and a defender of) novelists in the vein of Alexander Dumas, and some of this rubbed off on her novels. Engrossing reads, especially for the young.
But my favorite enthralling book is Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. I came to Dickens late in life. I had to read Great Expectations and Oliver Twist in high school English classes, but I'd not been won over by either book. Decades later, I came upon a facsimile edition of Dickens' original Nicholas Nickleby's monthly chapter editions, illustrations included, and took a chance. Once I began reading, I was totally sucked in.
As I later learned, this was from Dickens' early prime period, prior to the death of his wife's sister, on whom he had a secret crush. After her very premature death, Dickens settled into a quasi-tragic mode in his books. But Nicholas Nickleby preceded that. Not that NN isn't full of tragedy and misery, but it is so over-the-top and the descriptions so droll that I found myself laughing out loud at the oddest junctures.
My enjoyment was enhanced by Phiz's illustrations which capture and drive home the book's overall farcical tone, and by the reproduction of all the ads that ran in the original periodical monthly chapters. (Aromatic Spirits of Vinegar! Labern's Botanic Cream! Eight Day Clocks!) It's a pity that this edition, originally published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1982, is now out of print; it's the next best thing to time travel. As is Nicholas Nickleby, no matter what edition you pick up. If you've never read it, I encourage you to give it a go. You're in for a grand time.
Buy Nicholas Nickleby on Amazon
Update: I misread the article -- the same 17-y-o later sent some pretty dreadful threats to the Olympian in question: "i'm going to find you and i'm going to drown you in the pool you cocky twat your a nobody people like you make me sick," etc. My initial reading was that these were other peoples' harrassing tweets. #readingcomprehensionfail
Police in Weymouth, Dorset, England came to the home of a 17-year-old boy and arrested him, because he had retweeted an unpleasant sentiment to an Olympic athlete. The offending tweet? "You let your dad down i hope you know that." (This was a pretty dickish thing to tweet, as the athlete in question had previously dedicated his performance to his recently deceased father). The charge is "malicious communication." The law in question is the Communications Act 2003, Section 127(1)(a) ("a message that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character"). It's great to see that the spirit of the Olympics is alive and well: athleticism and international cooperation means that people are only allowed to say nice things or they go to jail. Just about the only thing worse than being a dick on Twitter? Being a loony authoritarian cop who arrests people for being a dick on Twitter. (via /.)
The picture has already made the rounds on the internet, but in case this was the first you're hearing of this delightful Doctor Who news, I put it after the jump. Rumor has it, however, that a famous New York landmark (that is not in New Jersey, hint hint) might be making a cameo appearance in the show's upcoming seventh season as one of its most feared villains. And as we know, the Who crew were in New York earlier this year filming scenes that may or may not have been part of Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's farewell episode, and that the Weeping Angels were involved in that episode. While this is truly exciting to read about, I'm more excited that I get to make -- hint hint -- Ghostbusters 2 references for the second day in a row. Picture and story after the jump, and I'll warn you: it's very cool.
Read the rest
Stross and Doctorow on the road: the Rapture of the Nerds tour in Lexington, Brooklyn, Brookline, Rochester
Charlie Stross and I are hitting the road this September 5-9 for a mini, post-Burning Man, post-WorldCon book-tour for our collaborative comic novel of the Singularity called Rapture of the Nerds. We're coming to Lexington, KY; Brooklyn, NY (a stop at MakerBot's BotCave, where there will be a very special surprise!), Brookline, MA, and Rochester, NY. I've never been to Lexington or Brookline, so this is doubly exciting to me!
And tonight, of course, I'm appearing (solo) at a Long Now talk in San Francisco.
For some reason, and despite the test footage Edgar Wright presented at Comic Con, it still feels (to me, at least) like Ant-Man is still only rumored to be happening. But that feeling is finally shifting now that it's possible that the movie might start shooting as soon as Thor 2: The Dark World is done. Production on that begins next month, which is but a day away, so it's actually true! Ant-Man is coming! I'm finally convinced! No idea why it took so long!
The news comes from Latino Review, which has been so accurate about its Marvel news that Marvel actually threatens them. According to the site, Wright is apparently rushing to get the third movie of his "Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy, The World's End, into production in London so he can transition right into Ant-Man as soon as Thor 2 is finished shooting next spring or summer. This means that 2014 will be what the kids call a "bigass year" for Marvel, giving us Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy in addition to Ant-Man, all in the same year.
All that awesome news, and still nothing about who will be playing Ant-Man himself, Dr. Henry Pym, or if Janet van Dyne (aka the Wasp) will be part of this story. But more importantly: How will Ant-Man, a founding member of the Avengers along with the Wasp, figure into the sequel to The Avengers? So much Marvel goodness, so many questions!
Marvel expected to release Edgar Wright's 'Ant-Man' in 2014 [Geeks of Doom]
Last night at dinner in San Francisco (I'm in town to give a Long Now talk tonight), our waiter noticed that I was wearing a ring made from an ornate spoon handle and produced his home-made money-clip, which he'd fashioned from an antique butter-knife he found at a pawn shop. He said he'd used a hand clamp to hold the handle, wrapped the blade in a cloth dishtowel, and used careful hammer-taps to bend it around. He also said that he flew with it routinely without any problems from the TSA. It was a really nice piece -- he wrapped his bills around his credit-cards and ID to create the necessary thickness.
Have I mentioned how much I absolutely love geneticist (and occasional BoingBoing contributor) David Ng? The fact that he designs awesome T-shirts while procrastinating just seals the deal.
USA Today's Nashville music critic Brian Mansfield was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 48. In a beautiful piece at USA Today, he describes a kind of "cancer honeymoon" just after his diagnosis in which he felt hopeful and eager to make changes in his life. That ended abruptly when further information about his disease showed that things would be harder. Read the whole piece, I don't want to spoil the story for you here, but this part really resonated with me:
Cancer has changed the way I hear music, more than any other life event except my marriage. Songs I once appreciated only on a surface level now strike deep at the core of my soul. Some inspire me; some terrify me. Others that I might have liked before, I've got no use for now. I've also got more time to listen, whether it's during my morning exercise time or while lying in a hospital bed.
These songs form part of the soundtrack to my cancer story...
Man. Same here, Brian. Before my mastectomy, someone on Twitter told me that some study showed that patients who were able to bring a CD of music to the operating room, to be played during their surgery, had better recovery outcomes. I made just such a CD and brought it to the hospital. Didn't end up playing it, and I recovered well, but I share this anecdote because there have also been certain songs that I play to and from important medical appointments, certain songs I've cried to or just listened over and over to, to jolt me out of the awful darkness that comes with cancer. And I'm going to play that "surgery" CD when I drive to radiation treatment this morning.
Anyway, Brian's Spotify playlist is here.
And read the rest of this story: My Semicolon Life: Cancer honeymoon's over. (USATODAY.com)The track at the top of his list is embedded above: "Dance in the Graveyard," by Delta Rae. Download it here, and the lyrics are here, and pasted below:
Sorry if you're getting sick of everyone raving about Sony's RX100, but this thing--the size of a deck of cards!--really is the dog's bollocks. With Canon about to hit town with an APS-C mirrorless, I reckon low-end Micro 4/3 models (and Sony's own sub-$1k NEXes) are done.