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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. Cory

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!) Maggie

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. Maggie

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

Animals

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