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