Boing Boing 

Pussy Riot, sentenced to two years in a penal colony, release new anti-Putin single

Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk trio who've been on trial for singing an anti-Putin song in an Orthodox cathedral, have been sentenced to two years' hard labor in a penal colony. The band released a new single to coincide with the verdict, for which the Guardian has created an accompanying video, above. Below, an excerpt from Miriam Elder's coverage:

Pussy Riot's supporters and opposition activists accused Putin of personally orchestrating the case against them. "They are in jail because it is Putin's personal revenge," said Alexey Navalny, the opposition's de facto leader. "The verdict was written by Vladimir Putin."

The three women were arrested in March after performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The case against them is seen as serving two functions: a warning to other dissidents, and an appeal to Putin's conservative base. Russia's growing campaign against gay rights is seen as a part of that effort, and on Friday Moscow's main court upheld a 100-year ban on gay pride rallies.

Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison colony over anti-Putin protest

HOWTO eat a watermelon

Mr Tom Willett, a man of many years and great experience, gives us the benefit of his long experimentation and refinement in watermelon-eating techniques. There are some surprises here, but he had me from his first words: "Hello, watermelon students!"

How to Eat a Watermelon Tutorial Tom Willett (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Tales from Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made? essay and exclusive excerpt

Destination: Development Hell

David Hughes, longtime Empire contributor and author of the new book Tales from Development Hell, reveals the secrets of the darkest place in Hollywood

Tales 1These days, Hollywood studios don’t waste much time exploiting their intellectual properties: it seemed that no sooner had Sony finished counting the box office receipts from the last of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films, a "re-boot" was announced, taking its most valuable film franchise in a new direction, bringing it too a new generation, or – who knows? – perhaps simply making the suit, and perhaps the story, a shade darker. What Sony hasn’t done is wasted years in "development hell," figuring that a bird in the hand (a Spider-Man movie in cinemas) is better than two in the bush (another round of draft screenplays).

This wasn't always the case, however. Six years passed between Aliens and Alien³, eight between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins -- and an unthinkable eighteen fallow years between Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns. So what was going on for all that time? My first book, The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made, set out what was taking Hollywood so long to bring popular properties such as The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Thunderbirds, Silver Surfer etc. to the big screen -- as well as exploring the various approaches to famous franchises (William Gibson’s Alien III, Tim Burton’s Superman, Philip Kaufman’s Star Trek, etc.) which were abandoned en route to the films we know. With my next book, Tales from Development Hell, I chose a variety of projects -- a few stillborn, others aborted, one or two with a particularly painful gestation -- which aimed to illustrate the kinds of problems which can beset a film, even when some of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters are involved.

Why were Oliver Stone’s and James Cameron’s thrilling takes on the Planet of the Apes property rejected in favor of Tim Burton’s unimaginative “re-imagining”? How come even the combined muscle of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven, at the height of their powers, couldn’t get Crusade off the ground? How did Outbreak get a green light when Ridley Scott’s The Hot Zone, set to star Robert Redford and Jodie Foster, did not? How many different directors, from Ridley Scott (again -- the man does seem to suffer more than his share of development hell) and Roland Emmerich, have jumped aboard the alien-on-a-train movie ISOBAR? Why have we still not seen a Sandman movie? Where’s the film of Smoke and Mirrors, a script so hot it sparked a feeding frenzy in the early 1990s, and was never heard from again? The answers to all these questions, and more, lie in one or the other circles of development hell. I should know. I wrote the book on it.

Tales from Development Hell is published by Titan Books.

Read an excerpt from Tales from Development Hell

100 years of gay shame

The highest court in Moscow has upheld a 100 year ban on gay pride parades.

Shirts for copyfighters

A pair of most excellent copyfighter tees are now available from Techdirt's store. They've revived their classic DMCA notice/YouTube shirt, and added a fab "THIS T-SHIRT HAS BEEN SEIZED" ICE tee that has to be sen at full size to be fully appreciated. $29 each.

(Thanks, Mike!)

Cheap-looking bug-bite zapper actually works

Gizmodo's Brent Rose reviews the TheraPik, a $13, ugly, plasticky bug-bite zapper that actually works really well. It heats up your mosquito (and other critter) bites until the venom's proteins break down, and the itching and swelling disappear.

Using It
You put the tip of the Therapik onto your bug bite, then you press and hold down the button. The tip uses light to heat the bite up. You hold it there for as long as you can take it, up to a minute. The burning sensation gets pretty intense after 30 seconds or so.

The Best Part
It actually works! Mosquito bites (the only thing we tested it with) stopped itching within a few seconds of taking it off, and in most cases they never itched again. We are officially stunned.

Therapik Bug Bite Relieving Gadget Review: We Can’t Believe This Actually Works

Five animated mashups we might desperately need

Marvel superheroes are going on summer vacation with Phineas and Ferb, and Archer is going to Bob's Burgers. When you consider what it would mean stylistically and comedically, cartoon mashups can be a pretty beautiful (and beautifully weird) thing. As a fervent supporter of them, as well as someone who has written her fair share of fan fiction, I have five suggestions for potential crossovers with shows that are currently on the air. Would any of them actually happen? Probably not, but we can all dream can't we?

Disclaimer: I'm pretty sure there is zero chance of these actually happening.

Read the rest

Visit the Tesla Museum, today!

Not that there can't be more than one museum for something, but it's worth noting that there already is a Nikola Tesla Museum. It houses more than 100,000 of his original documents, plans, and drawings, as well as some of Tesla's personal belongings. (Including a needlepoint his mom made for him!) The museum covers the history of electricity and subjects related to Tesla's other inventions. There is even a little shop. And you can go there, right now ... or at least the next time you're in Belgrade. (Thanks, Leonard Pierce!)

Science summer-camp for girls

Get WISE is a sold-out science camp for girls running in Halifax, NS, on the campus of Mount St. Vincent University. It's part of the Women In Science Education Atlantic initiative, and combines kinetic learning with hands-on exercises as well as more traditional classroom work. The kids really look like they're having a great time, too.

(Thanks, Rachel!)

Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old

Indian photo
This photo of John Smith (Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence), a Chippewa Indian from Cass Lake, Minnesota, was taken when he was supposedly at 129 years old. Sold on eBay for $29.95.

Ka-Be-Nah-Gwey-Wence at 129 years old

Ambrotype photo on iPhone back glass

 Assets Uploads 2012 08 Wetplateiphone5 Mini

Jake Potts made an ambrotype photo, using a wet plate collodion process, on the back glass of his iPhone. Fantastic. From Potts's blog:

 Files News Pour A few weeks ago, my inner tech geek and camera nerd merged and a new project was created. I wanted to try to create a truly one-of-a-kind iPhone. With well over 100 million of the things sold, it wasn't going to be the easiest task. So I approached it the only way I knew how to make a one-of-a-kind photograph: the ambrotype.

Knowing the iPhone was made of glass, I don't know why it didn't hit me a lot sooner. To make an ambrotype, a piece of glass is coated with salted collodion, sensitized, placed into a camera and exposed like a piece of film. Then back in the darkroom, the glass plate is developed, fixed and washed. This process was invented in 1851 and has recently been embraced again by many artists and photographers for its unique aesthetic and hand-made quality.

I searched the internet and found a replacement back panel for the iPhone without all the Apple branding. Once it arrived, I made a custom holder that would let me use the back panel in the camera where it would take the place of film. With everything I needed in hand, it was time to head to the studio.

"Say Hello to iPlate" (Thanks, Randall de Rijk!)

Rare is relative

Rare genetic mutations turn out to not be quite as rare as we previously thought.

Penny-sized thrusters for microsatellites

MIT researchers used micro-manufacturing technologies to build ion thrusters smaller than a penny that could propel CubeSats in space. Smaller than a milk carton, CubSats are relatively inexpensive and several can be delivered into orbit on a single rocket. From MIT News:

 Newsoffice Images Mini-Thrusters Engineering propulsion systems for small satellites could solve the problem of space junk: CubeSats could propel down to lower orbits to burn up, or even act as galactic garbage collectors, pulling retired satellites down to degrade in Earth’s atmosphere. However, traditional propulsion systems have proved too bulky for nano satellites, leaving little space on the vessels for electronics and communication equipment.

In contrast, (aeronautics/astronautics professor Paulo) Lozano’s micro thruster design adds little to a satellite’s overall weight. The microchip is composed of several layers of porous metal, the top layer of which is textured with 500 evenly spaced metallic tips. The bottom of the chip contains a small reservoir of liquid — a “liquid plasma” of free-floating ions that is key to the operation of the device.

"MIT-developed ‘micro thrusters’ could propel small satellites"

Moelcular Synth: snap-together electronic music instrument "bricks"

My 6-year-old and I love playing with our Stylophone, half-broken Casio keyboards, cheap-o effects pedals, and other tools for creating weird music. My young'n also goes deep into beginner DIY electronics with Snap Circuits, sets of modular components that can be combined in various ways to make neat noisemakers, games, water sensors, etc. Travis Feldman's Molecule Synth looks like terrific mix of all that! It's a collection of core synthesizer components that can be arranged and rearranged in different combinations to yield new sounds and new interfaces. It even has MIDI. Feldman already hit his Kickstarter goal with three weeks left to go on the fundraising. I can't wait for my son and I to get our hands on a set! Molecule Synth (Thanks, Mark Dery!)

Sponsor shout-out: ShanaLogic


Thanks to our sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently designed jewelry, apparel, gifts, and other fine products. Right now, the shop is featuring a surreal series of animal "Corporate Portrait Prints" by artist Ryan Berkley. They're $12 and ready for standard-size frames. Shana says, "Free domestic shipping for orders over $50!" ShanaLogic

University of Georgia wants student newspaper to stop catching people doing bad things

Top editors and much of the staff at the University of Georgia's student newspaper have resigned en-masse following managerial changes, and proposed content guidelines, that undermined editorial independence. Student newspapers like this one are independent entities: Students run them from top to bottom and faculty/consultants operate as advisers, not editors. Students have the final word. The University of Georgia hired a non-student manager and gave him veto power over editorial decisions. Meanwhile, the paper's editor-in-chief says she felt pressure to not publish certain content, and a leaked memo showed non-student board members wanted the paper to stop covering so much negative or "bad" news, such as "content that catches people or organizations doing bad things."

Major American firms pay more in CEO compensation than they do in fed tax

26 major American companies paid more to their CEOs than they paid in taxes in 2011, including Citigroup, Abbott Labs, and AT&T. This from a study published by the Institute for Policy Studies entitled Executive Excess 2012: The CEO Hands in Uncle Sam's Pocket. They note that this figure has climbed since last year. Reuters's Nanette Byrnes reports:

Among companies topping the institute's list:

* Citigroup, the financial services giant, with a tax refund of $144 million based on prior losses, paid CEO Vikram Pandit $14.9 million in 2011, despite an advisory vote against it by 55 percent of shareholders.

* Telecoms group AT&T paid CEO Randall Stephenson $18.7 million, but was entitled to a $420 million tax refund thanks to billions in tax savings from recent rules accelerating depreciation of assets.

* Drugmaker Abbott Laboratories paid CEO Miles White $19 million, while garnering a $586 million refund. Abbott has 64 subsidiaries in 16 countries considered by authorities to be tax havens, the institute said.

Companies paid CEOs more than they paid in taxes

Cryptozoological embroidery patterns by Ape Lad: $5

NewImageA bigfoot embroidery pattern from our friends at Sublime Stitching? By Ape Lad no less? I imagine Pescovitz is on his way to the craft store to buy a hoop, needles and floss.

Other creatures in the pattern include the Loch Ness monster, a jackalope, a centaur, the Sphynx, a gryphon, and a satyr.

Cryptozoological embroidery patterns from Sublime Stitching: $5

Negativland art show in Los Angeles

 8286 7796290452 47Ee46B446 Z Seminal culture jammers and master appropriationists Negativland have an art show hanging September 7 - 30 at Los Angeles's La Luz de Jesus Gallery. "Our Favorite Things" is a retrospective of their visual collage output and opens with a rare musical performance on September 7. Hi-Fructose interviewed Negativland:

If you could design and set up your own ‘market’ for copyright clearing for works in all easily-replicated media, how would you do it? The goals would be to maximize utility to all parties, guarantee that works enter the public domain after a fixed period, certify originator as well as possibly ‘owner’, and should incentivize creators, re-creators, and consumers alike. Any ideas?

Don: Copyright laws should freely allow any reuse of existing work as long as a NEW work is created from them. Only the reproduction of pre-existing works in whole and unchanged should be prohibited without permission. Collage should be free to practice. (I can easily imagine a system like this gaining enough momentum that it would become the de-facto standard, but you would need an army of lawyers to prop the thing up.) It’s pretty easy to see whether something has been changed from its original form in a reuse or not.

Mark: Your questions are good “real politick” ones about the complexities surrounding these issues. The real world solutions you allude to will always be hopelessly and horribly compromised, and will never work very well due to the technologies we are stuck with. I guess I’m a pessimistic idealist, so I assume that what I would like to see will never occur in my lifetime. My slightly realistic advice to artists about intellectual property issues is “ignore the law and create good work.”

"Negativland: A Hi-Fructose Exclusive Interview with the Pioneering Culture Jammers"

RIAA budget shrinks nearly 50% over two years

TorrentFreak has had a look at the RIAA's IRS filing for the year ending March 31, 2011, and has discovered that the organization has faced major contraction. Over two years, the organization's budget has been cut nearly in half. Staff numbers have been cut from 117 to 72; two senior execs with a combined salary of over $2M are gone. Legal fees are down from $16.50 to $2.34 million over two years. As TorrentFreak concludes, RIAA member companies -- the major labels -- just aren't coughing up the same big contributions that they once made.

The top earner in the year ending March 2011 was Mitch Bainwol (CEO) with $1.75 million a year with a working week of 50 hours. Current CEO Cary Sherman (then President) came in second with $1.37 million.

Other high income employees were Neil Turkewitz (EVP International), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Mitch Glazier (Public Policy & Industry Relations) with $696,036, $675,528 and $599,661 respectively.

Looking at other expenses we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over the years.

RIAA Revenue Dwindles As Labels Cut Back

Childplay: SF novel about life with virtual children, free this weekend in Kindle edition

Matthew Mather says:

ChildplayAs the world moves online, why not virtual children too? Childplay is the second novella in my #1 best-selling Atopia Chronicles collection. It explores what life would be like raising a family with virtual children, and is offered free this Friday to Sunday (Aug 17-19). The full six book series is also offered at half price for $2.99 in the compilation Complete Atopia Chronicles.

"So great, I wish I'd come up with it myself," said Hugh Howey, NY Times and USA Today #1 best-selling author of Wool. "The Atopia series is one of those that will stick with me for the rest of my life."

Trailer for Compliance, a movie that explores obedience to authority

Compliance is a psychological thriller based on a true event in which a sociopath pretending to be a cop called a fast food joint and convinced the manager to do horrific things to a young employee. It sounds like the Milgram Experiment in the real world.

From the New York Times:

“Compliance” came into focus when [director Craig Zobel] learned about the 2004 case of a man who called a McDonald’s in Mount Washington, Ky., and persuaded the female manager to interrogate and strip-search a female employee. Mr. Zobel was amazed to discover that this story was part of a wider pattern; the culprit was a serial prankster, and similar incidents had been reported at other chain restaurants.
From the movie's YouTube trailer description:

[Video Link]When a police officer tells you to do something, you do it. Right?

Inspired by true events, COMPLIANCE tells the chilling story of just how far one might go to obey a figure of authority. On a particularly busy day at a suburban Ohio fast food joint, high-strung manager Sandra (Ann Dowd (Garden State) receives a phone call from a police officer saying that an employee, a pretty young blonde named Becky (newcomer Dreama Walker) has stolen money from a customer. Convinced she's only doing what's right, Sandra commences the investigation, following step-by-step instructions from the officer at the other end of the line, no matter how invasive they become. As we watch, we ask ourselves two questions: "Why don't they just say no?" and the more troubling, "Am I certain I wouldn't do the same?"

The second feature from director Craig Zobel (the man behind the 2007 Sundance hit Great World of Sound), COMPLIANCE recounts this riveting nightmare in which the line between legality and reason is hauntingly blurred. The cast delivers startlingly authentic performances that make the appalling events unfolding onscreen all the more difficult to watch -- but impossible to turn away from. Delving into the complex psychology of this real-life story, COMPLIANCE proves that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

NYT: Oh, I Wouldn’t Do That, Would I? ‘Compliance’ Raises Questions About Human Behavior

NYC conference for sofware artists seeks Kickstarting

Isabel sez,

We've created a conference that brings together some of the most cutting edge artists and curators working in new media and software art we just need people to buy the conference tickets and attend. We're using Kickstarter for that, and the conference is October 16th at a major museum in New York City.

If you have a career at an interactive marketing or advertising agency, publisher, or software company, this is where you'll find the people making the inspiring work that you'll be referencing for the year to come. If you're in the gallery space, a museum curator or an art buyer, we hope you will come be blown away by the amazing new work that's exploding into the contemporary art space. Even if you're just personally interested in art that's made using a technological process, you can still support the cause (and get a mesmerizing t-shirt).

The LISA Conference: Leaders in Software and Art

More about how the Sahara creates the Amazon

On Monday, I posted about an incredibly fascinating study linking the minerals that fertilize the Amazon rainforest to a specific corner of the Sahara desert in the country of Chad. That lake of sand—once an actual lake the size of California—is what keeps the Amazon green and verdant.

The interesting thing is that the study is actually not anything new. It came out in 2006. I heard about it from science writer Colin Schultz. Earlier this week, Colin went on News Talk 610 CKTB out of Niagara Falls, Ontario, to talk about how he stumbled across the study and why it's important far beyond simply connecting the desert and the jungle.

The interview delves into the subject in a lot more depth. In fact, it's a great demonstration of how reading a single research paper can be interesting, but doesn't necessarily give you the full picture of what's actually going on in science. Turns out, what we know about how dust travels to the Amazon has important implications for how we think about climate change and geoengineering. Also great: Colin comparing the volume of dust traveling from the Sahara to the volume of several Honda Civics. It's short, and very much worth listening to.

You can follow Colin Schultz on Twitter. BTW: He'd like you to know that when he says "bioengineers" in the interview, he means "geoengineers".

Read More:
A 2010 Nature News article on the connection between the Sahara and the Amazon.
• Geophysical Research Letters on changes in dust transport over time.
• NASA on the way that dust affects climate.
A 2010 follow-up to the 2006 paper by the same group of researchers. Colin says that this gets more into the details of how the dust becomes an important fertilizer in the Amazon.

Image: rainforest, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from tauntingpanda's photostream

Man in rural China loses arms in industrial accident, makes his own prostheses

Sun Jifa, from Jilin province, China, made his own homebrew prosthetic arms after losing his own in a "fishing related explosion." The hospital that treated him after the accident recommended a set of expensive factory-made limbs that were out of his price-range, so the 51-year-old made his own. He says that the steel is heavy and is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. But they are still evidently superior to nothing at all, which seems to have been his other option.

Sun Jifa, Chinese Man, Creates DIY Prosthetic Limbs After Losing Hands In A Fishing Accident (PHOTOS) (via /.)

(Image: a downsized, cropped thumbnail from a larger image found on the Huffington Post, credited to "CEN")

Batman Earth One: rebooting the bat

Batman: Earth One is a reboot of the Batman story written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank. It's a timely book, coinciding with the conclusion of the trilogy of Christopher Nolan Batman films, and it offers a very good entry to the series for people who haven't followed it closely until now.

We've seen a lot of remixes and retellings of the Batman origin story, and I think this is my favorite to date. Johns dispenses with some of the less plausible aspects of the Batman myth, and presents us with a Gotham that is out of control, corrupt, dark and glorious. There's a haunted house, there are serial killers, Hollywood phonies, and a mayor named Oswald Cobblepot.

The book moves swiftly, hits all the right emotional notes, and is beautifully made and illustrated. I picked my copy up at Secret Headquarters on a recent trip to LA, on staff recommendation (I've never gotten a bum steer from SHQ). It's got me excited about Batman comics for the first time in 20 years.

Batman: Earth One

Read the rest

Cow Week: Angry cows vs. angry mothers

Editorial note — Cow Week is a tongue-in-cheek look at risk analysis and why we fear the things we fear. It is inspired by the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, the popularity of which is largely driven by the public's fascination with and fear of sharks. Turns out, cows kill more people every year than sharks do. Each day, I will post about a cow-related death, and add to it some information about the bigger picture.

Now that we have three entries behind us, Cow Week is starting to fulfill its intended function—a format in which to talk about what we do and don't know about why we consider some things risky and some things safe.

Today, we're going to look at the way different emotions have different effects on how we perceive risk. But first, the cow-related violence:

In 2011, a British teenager named Emma Gregory was attacked by cows. Like yesterday's victim, Gregory was crossing a cow pasture with a dog in tow. (Bear in mind here, crossing cow-occupied pastures as part of moving around your community is a more normal thing in the United Kingdom than it is in the United States.) Gregory survived and her furious mother launched a campaign to change signage around the field and generally make sure that people are familiar with the fact that cows are not always docile, friendly, and adorable.

Mrs Gregory also wonders whether or not it would be “reasonably practicable” to install temporary fencing alongside the public right of way to keep ramblers and cattle separate.

“Yes, I accept cows are extremely protective about their calves, but people need to be warned about the dangers through signs, [she said]. “There was no indication this sort of thing can happen and I know it is not unusual for cows to go after dogs, but there should be more warnings.”

This angry mom who took a chance and tried to convince her community to change its norms reminded me of a 2001 research paper by scientists at Carnegie Mellon and University of California, Berkeley. In the paper, the researchers documented four different studies that lead them to a single conclusion: Fear and anger affect our judgement, decision-making, and perception of risk in different ways. Specifically, the researchers found that people who self-reported as carrying around a lot of feelings of fear thought about the world in a more pessimistic way, and were liable to make the choices they thought would help them to avoid risk. The problem: The "safest" option wasn't always as safe as it seemed. It just looked that way to people who felt like failure, or doom, was imminent.

Meanwhile, people who told the researchers they were angry a lot of the time had responses that were more like those of happy people—they were more optimistic; and they were more liable to take risks and try something new.

The catch is that this distinction was strongest when the subjects were dealing with ambiguous events—situations where it wasn't clear whether there was actually a risk or how big the risk was, and where it wasn't clear how much control the subject had over the situation. In those circumstances, fearful people basically clammed up and tried to avoid doing anything new. In contrast, happy people and angry people didn't assume that the worst was going to happen, so they were more willing to try a different approach to solving the problem—a "risk" that, ironically, might make them more safe.

Read the rest of the story about the attack on Emma Gregory at Get Surrey

Read the study on fear, anger, and risk

Cow kills Irish pensioner
Bull gores man, follows him until certain he is dead
Welsh cattle hate dog walkers

Image: cows, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from emmett_ns_tullos's photostream

Amazon recruits 5000 UK cornershops to act as delivery depots

Amazon UK has recruited 5,000 cornershops to act as pickup depots for people who order goods online. The Amazon shipments will be delivered to convenient shops with late opening hours for customer pickup, and will also accept returned merchandise. This last will make Amazon much more convenient for people who are clothes-shopping and get the wrong size, fit or colour. The local stores are participating in the scheme in the hopes that customers will buy incidentals while they're in to pick up their shipments. More from the Telegraph's Katherine Rushton:

Consumers will be able to collect their orders from local shops that are often open until late into the night, instead of having to wait in for orders or coming home to find a delivery note telling them to collect their parcel from the nearest Royal Mail depot...

The scheme is likely to prove particularly popular with employees of the many UK companies which ban staff from having personal goods delivered to their work address.

Amazon to deliver parcels to UK cornershops (via Engadget)