Exit the Dogg, enter the Lion

Evidently rap-star and all around interesting guy Snoop Dogg is no more. Meet Snoop Lion! "I feel like I've always been Rastafarian," Snoop said and also informs us that he is "Bob Marley reincarnated." (ABC)

Enthralling Books: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

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

Nicholas nickelbyNicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

An enthralling book, I reckon, is a function of two things: the book's virtues itself and one's opportunity to be enthralled. Back in my high school days, I had enough time on my hands that I could throw myself into a big fat novel and plow my way through it in three or four days (particularly in the summer). I took on most of the best selling potboilers by Irving Wallace, Leon Uris, and James Michener and considered myself reasonably engaged.

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

UPDATED: 17-y-o arrested in England for sending nasty tweet to losing Olympian

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 /.) Cory

Jackson Publick announces an hour-long Venture Bros. Season 5 premiere

In a wrap-up interview following Comic Con, co-creator of Adult Swim's The Venture Bros. Jackson Publick revealed two things: the previously announced Halloween special will be a regular part of the fifth season and not a stand-alone special, and the fall premiere for that season will be one glorious, Venture-filled hour long. Seasons five and six will also be bridged by an hour-long special. That is so much Venture, spaced out over a span of months, like a fantastic pagan celebration! If we could just get a premiere date... (via The Mantis-Eye Experiment)

Possible spoilers: What NYC landmark might be making a creepy cameo on Doctor Who?

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.

Announcing the Tour for Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross’s The Rapture of the Nerds

Ant-Man might be in theaters as soon as 2014

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]

Butter-knife money-clip


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.

Butter Knife Money Clip

Science T-shirt is blunt, to the point

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.

You can buy this T-shirt

Cancer and music "that makes me want to live"—Brian Mansfield

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:

Read the rest

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, The Cold Crush Brothers

Read the rest

India's in the dark, are we next?

670 million people—roughly half of India's population—has been without electricity for two days, following a massive blackout. The United States has a much more modern grid, but only nine years ago a blackout in the Northeast of this country cut power to 45 million. How does a huge blackout like that happen? What are we doing to prevent another one? I'll be on Southern California Public Radio's Madeline Brand Show this morning to talk about how America's electric grid works ... and doesn't work. The show starts at 9:00 Pacific time and I'll be on around the top of the hour.

HD video from the RX100

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.

Why aren't you turning potatoes into cash RIGHT NOW?


Potato chips,
how my mouth just drips
,
Crunch, crunch,
I don't want no lunch,
All I want is potato chips.

No matter where it is,
You'll always find a bag around,
You can be at a bar or a picnic,
Even a baseball ground.

Jazzaroonie!

Okay, some more job opportunities.

Read the rest

vN: a science fiction novel about robots, perverts, power and privilege

vN, Madeline Ashby‘s debut novel, drops today. I’m an immense fan of Ashby’s work (I actually published her first story) and vN did not disappoint.

Read the rest