Boing Boing 

Spain's pocket communist utopia, Marinaleda

Dan Hancox sez,

You may have heard about Spain's 'Robin Hood Mayor', Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo - who last week made global headlines after he led farm labourers into supermarkets to expropriate basic food supplies, which were then distributed to the massed ranks of the local unemployed (currently 34% in Andalusia).

The Spanish economic miracle has become a catastrophe; with a government whose cuts have pushed miners to armed conflict (firing home-made rocket launchers at riot police), an Economics Minister whose last job was director of the Spanish branch of Lehman Brothers, and a lost generation of 'indignados' with no homes, no work, and no faith in the system. And right in the middle of it all, Marinaleda, a self-described communist utopia led by the charismatic poet-rebel, Sánchez Gordillo: a town of landless labourers who for over 30 years since the death of Franco, have fought capitalism - and won. 'Utopia and the Valley of Tears' is their story, published this week. There is a short extract in The Guardian.

Utopia and the Valley of Tears: A journey through the Spanish crisis

The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global Edition

The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global Edition is a wry little 45-page booklet that is, superfically, a book of practical advice for totalitarian, autocratic and theocratic dictators who are looking for advice on how to shape their countries' Internet policy to ensure that the network doesn't loosen their grip on power.

Really, though, this is Laurier Rochon's very good critique of the state of Internet liberation technologies -- a critical analysis of what works, what needs work, and what doesn't work in the world of networked technologies that hope to serve as a force for democratization and self-determination.

It's also a literal playbook for using technology, policy, economics and propaganda to diffuse political dissent, neutralize opposition movements, and distract and de-politicize national populations. Rochon's device is an admirably compact and efficient means of setting out the similarities (and dissimilarities) in the Internet control programs used by Singapore, Iran, China, Azerbaijan, and other non-democratic states -- and the programs set in place by America and other "democratic" states in the name of fighting Wikileaks and piracy. Building on the work of such fierce and smart critics as Rebecca McKinnon (see my review of her book Consent of the Networked), The Dictator's Guide is a short, sharp look at the present and future of networked liberation.

Firstly, the country you rule must be somewhat "stable" politically. Understandably "stable" can be defined differently in different contexts. It is essential that the last few years (at least) have not seen too many demonstrations, protests questioning your legitimacy, unrest, political dissidence, etc. If it is the case, trying to exploit the internet to your advantage can quickly backfire, especially if you can't fully trust your fellow party officials (this is linked to condition #3). Many examples of relatively stable single-leader states exist if in need of inspiration, Fidel Castro's Cuba for example. Castro successfully reigned over the country for decades, effectively protecting his people from counter-revolutionary individuals. He appointed his brother as the commander in chief of Cuba's army and managed his regime using elaborate surveillance and strict dissuasive mechanisms against enemies of the state.[49] As is always the case, political incidents will occur and test your regime's resilience (the Bay of Pigs invasion or the missile crisis, for example), but even massive states have managed to uphold a single-party model and have adapted beautifully to the digital age - in China's case, despite close to 87 000 protests in 2005.[2] Follow these states' example and seek stability, no matter what your regime type is. Without it, you are jeopardizing the two next prerequisites and annihilating your chances to rule with the internet at your side. If you are in the midst of an important political transformation, busy chasing counter-revolutionary dissidents or sending your military to the streets in order to educate protesters, you will need to tame these fires first and come back to this guide afterwards.

The Dictator's Practical Guide to Internet Power Retention, Global Edition

Little face Mitt

Enjoy these unsettling pictures of Mitt Romney with a very tiny face.

HOWTO survive a DDoS attack

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a comprehensive, multi-lingual guide to keeping sites that are undergoing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks alive.

Denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are increasingly common phenomena, used by a variety of actors—from activists to governments—to temporarily or indefinitely prevent a site from functioning efficiently. Often, the attack saturates the target with server requests designed to flood its bandwidth, leaving the server unable to respond to legitimate traffic.

Though the owners of major sites often have the resources to fend off or even prevent such attacks, smaller sites—such as those belonging to small independent media or human rights organizations—are sometimes permanently disabled due to a lack of resources or knowledge.

This guide aims to assist the owners of such websites by providing advice on choosing an appropriate webhost, as well as a guide to mirroring and backing-up their websites so that the content can be made available elsewhere even if their site is taken down by a DoS or DDoS attack.

Keeping Your Site Alive

Ayn Rand as Paul Ryan's biographer

Paul Ryan's first day on the job, as written by Ayn Rand (as written by Bloomberg's Michael Kinsley): "Paul Ryan laughed. He stood naked on top of the vice president’s desk in the Senate chamber, scanning the crowd of sniveling politicians below him." (via Memex 1.1)

Swiss Army Knife with animals instead of blades


Third year design student David Suhami made the "Animal Pocket Knife" for a studio course at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv. As he explained to Designboom, "the piece is made for adults who still enjoy playing with small objects. it combines the idea of a swiss army knife and a jungle safari in africa. the prototype is made from stainless steel to represent the current technology while the handles are made from fine tabebuia wood to symbolize the traditional craft."

Hell, I'd buy one and fidget for days with it.

david suhami: animal pocket knife (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Enthralling Books: Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Here's my essay in a series of essays about enthralling books. See all the essays in the Enthralling Book series here. -- Mark


NewImageGone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

This twisted psychological suspense novel had me from the first page and I read it every spare moment I had until I finished it. It begins with a man named Nick's description of his morning on the day of his fifth wedding anniversary. Nick and Amy were once bon vivant magazine writers in New York, but the print media implosion put an end to their fun life, and for a variety of reasons ("Blame the economy, blame bad luck, blame my parents, blame your parents, blame the Internet, blame people who use the Internet") they end up in Carthage, Missouri with Nick running a dive bar (using the remainder of Amy's recently obliterated trustfund) with his sister Margo. Later that day, Amy disappears from their house, leaving behind signs of a struggle. The police, and TV viewers around the country, suspect Nick did it.

The second chapter is from Amy's diary, seven years before her disappearance, in which she giddily describes meeting the handsome and funny Nick at a party in Brooklyn.

The chapters alternate between Nick's account of his life after Amy's disappearance, and Amy's diaries entries leading up to the event. We see a happy relationship deteriorate over time. We also see signs of psychopathy and deceit start creeping in as the story unfolds. Since this is a suspense novel, things aren't necessarily what they seem (or are they?) and there are major twists and surprises along the way.

Even as a straight-ahead thriller, Gillian Flynn's novel succeeds with a tight plot that's rich but easy to follow. What made it extra enjoyable for me is Flynn's dark sense of humor, insight into relationships, cultural observations, and developed characters. As messed up as Flynn's characters are, they are believable, unpredictable (even to themselves) and complex, and that's what keeps things interesting. I've read other reviews of Gone Girl in which readers have complained that Amy and Nick are too unlikable to care about. I disagree. I care about them the same way I care about Breaking Bad's Walter White, Mad Men's Don Draper, and Tony Soprano: pathologically manipulative jerks who reveal a shred of humanity often enough that you can relate to them, especially since we all have some element of a dark side in us.

I also liked Amy’s rant about “cool girls.” Here's an excerpt:

Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl. Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men -- friends, coworkers, strangers -- giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.”

Flynn's previous novels, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects, are queued up on my reading list.

Buy Gone Girl on Amazon

Adam Savage's toolbox

 Design Wp-Content Uploads 2012 08 Ts Savage F

BB pal Adam Savage of MythBusters liked using antique leather doctor's bags to hold his tools. But the bags couldn't handle the 50+ pounds of tools that he needed while working at Industrial Light and Magic. So he remade the bags out of aluminum and added scissor lifts for easy reach. "The finished boxes housed everything I needed, but I repeatedly rebuilt the insides until finally no tool had to be moved out of the way to get to another," Adam wrote in Wired. "That’s first-order retrievability."

A temper tantrum supercut, in case you felt the need to punch something today

Good afternoon! Did you accidentally scroll down into the comments section of a political website today? Maybe you got stuck in traffic, or you're expecting to? Well, here is about four and a half minutes of movies scenes depicting exactly how you feel. Supercut artist Zach Prewitt has laced together some of cinema's greatest temper tantrums. If you can't physically beat your telephone into submission without facing disciplinary action, you can watch a few famous people do that on your behalf. (via The Huffington Post)

Disney might be preparing a remake of The Rocketeer

Perhaps riding on the wings of the WWII-era Captain America: The First Avenger, and all the success that came after it, Disney is apparently talking to screenwriters about rebooting its 1991 cult classic, The Rocketeer, which was (probably not coincidentally directed by Captain America's Joe Johnston). Its life began in the early 1980s as a comic book by the late Dave Stevens, which was recently revived when it was picked up by IDW last year. The Rocketeer is having a moment, everyone. Strap on your rocket packs and get ready! (Ed. note: Just realized that if you have a rocket pack, you don't actually need to ride on the wings of anything. Apologies for the technical error.) (via Spinoff Online)

Author is "ready for a punk-rock concert"

Lightning bolt
I was flipping through my copy of Walt Noon's Secrets of Building Electrostatic Lightning Bolt Generators (1992) and came across this photo, captioned: "The author's hair is usually flat and combed somewhat back. After a few minutes connected to a running Van de Graaff generator, and he's ready for a punk-rock concert!"

Walt is a good magician. Check out his videos.

Jim Carrey is being courted to play Colonel Stars in Kick Ass 2, perhaps change his career trajectory

News is emerging that Jim Carrey is being considered for a role in the sequel to 2010's Kick-Ass. While it's far from official casting news, I have to say that as a fan of both that movie and Jim Carrey, I really want to see this work out. Seriously. If I don't see Jim Carrey do something awesome soon, it will make me and all of his other devoted fans super, super sad. And who doesn't want to see him play a cool role in a comic book movie? The last time he did that was in Batman Forever, and believe me when I tell you this: No one wants to remember Batman Forever.

On the other hand, The Mask was based on a Dark Horse comic, culty like Kick-Ass, and that was very well-received. So, we know that Carrey can rock this. Anyway: Kick-Ass 2.

Read the rest

Greatest movie threats of all time

hh1edits's "The 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All Time" is a truly fabulous 11:37 worth of threatening behavior -- angry, calm, brave, terrified. The creator casts an admirably broad net, including appearances from Monty Python, Wil Wheaton, and the Wicked Witch of the West.

The 100 Greatest Movie Threats of All Time (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Brain Boy: A Fantastic Scheme to Conquer the Earth


Look at this fantastic Earth-conquering scheme! Is there any hope in defeating it? (Via X-Ray Delta One)

Mars Curiosity rover: HD video of landing, and an image of her first drive

[Video Link] Above, HD video of the Mars Curiosity Rover's landing on Mars. And below, an image of her first drive. (via @tweetsoutloud)

Not a Pussy Riot protest: the Face-Kini is big in China

At the NPR two-way blog, an explainer of sorts about a sun protection accessory popular in China. Given the recent attention to balaklavas around the Pussy Riot story, one might glance at these images and think they're related. They're not. It's all about different cultural attitudes to tanning.

Sending messages from Mars: Interplanetary broadband

Glenn Fleishman writes in the Economist about how Curiosity sends messages home from Mars: "NASA'S Curiosity has the fastest modem on Mars. Since its only competition is an oldish bit of kit aboard Opportunity, one of two rovers dispatched in 2003, that is not saying much, at least in terms of what internet users on Earth have learned to expect. Curiosity's ability to capture images and other data easily outstrips its capacity to beam it all back home. Nonetheless, it delivers vastly more information from the red planet than any previous mission did."

Garry Kasparov: When Putin's Thugs Came for Me

"I was dragged away Friday by a group of police—in fact carried away with one on each arm and leg." Author Garry Kasparov in the WSJ, on what happened to him at the Pussy Riot trial in Moscow last week.

Alleged shoplifter has a fit after stealing and eating extra hot chili pepper, enabling police to arrest him

"…when officers searched [Marcus] Banwell they found another four [Scotch Bonnet] chili peppers in his pocket, a stolen milkshake and fruit juice, and a clarinet stashed in his waistband, which was missing from a music shop." Scotch Bonnets are up to 50 times hotter than jalapeños by weight.

Christopher Lee's Charlemagne reviewed

Mike Barthel reviews Christopher Lee's concept album, which is available at Amazon. It is exactly as you would expect it to be. It is metal. [The Awl]

Coroner: "Top Gun" filmmaker Tony Scott did not have brain cancer

Filmmaker Tony Scott jumped to his death on Sunday, off a bridge in Southern California. Early reports from ABC News (which were copy-pasted by TMZ, HuffPo, and other outlets) that the "Top Gun" director killed himself after learning that he had an inoperable brain tumor were apparently false.

Fresco restored

An elderly woman in Spain has "stunned Spanish cultural officials" after setting out to restore a prized fresco at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza.

Read the rest

Al-Jazeera report on the heart-breaking consequences of the drug war in Baltimore (Video)

The election of the first black US president offered hope to millions of African Americans across the country. But have four years of an Obama presidency seen positive change for black communities in the US’ inner cities? Fault Lines’ Sebastian Walker spends time with those on the front lines of the failed drug war to understand some fundamental dynamics of race, poverty, incarceration and economic truths in the US in an election year.
"Don't ever think it's a war on drugs. It's a war on the blacks. It started as a war on the blacks and it's now spread to Hispanics and poor whites… it was designed to take that energy coming out of the civil rights movement and destroy it," says Ed Burns, co creator of The Wire, who is interviewed in the program.

Fault Lines : Baltimore: Anatomy of an American City (Via The Agitator)

Guatemala: Former police chief convicted in 1980s disappearance

Justice at last, in one case from the US-backed 36-year civil war in Guatemala where some of the "harsh techniques" our military now uses in Iraq and Afghanistan and Gitmo were first perfected.

Three decades after Pedro Garcia Arredondo ordered the torture and "disappearance" of an agronomy student, the former chief detective of Guatemala's now-defunct National Police has been convicted and sentenced to 70 years in prison. From Amnesty International today:

Witnesses testified how [Édgar Enrique Sáenz Calito] was taken to “the little room” (“el cuartito”) where the Sixth Command typically interrogated guerrilla suspects.

The victim’s wife Violeta Ramírez Estrada told the court how she visited her husband in a prison hospital following his arrest and he bore signs of having been tortured – he had been subjected to beatings, water-boarding and cigarette burns, and electric shocks had been applied to his genitals.


(via @wolfe321)

In The Boy Kings, Zuck's personal ghostwriter reveals little

Katherine Losse was present at the creation. Employee 51 at Facebook, the English major became first a major player in the company's customer service team and then rose to prominence in i18n, Facebook's internationalization initiative. She ended her seven year career there as Mark Zuckerberg's blogger. She mimicked his voice in posts and emails, starting with "Hey Everybody" and ending in world domination.

Now, Losse offers a book about her experience there. Covering the period between 2005 and 2012, she sunk into the soft comfort of corporate life just as early Facebook's miasmic jelly hardened into serious business. Losse, because she's not a wonk, is the kind of person that you want writing about this kind of rise: she writes like she's working out a Lorrie Moore story set at Xerox/PARC and, as a result, she leaves out the nerdiness and attempts to replace it with humanity.

Read the rest

Breaking Bad Breath

This Breaking Bad - Mentos TV ad parody is probably funnier if you, like me, grew up in the era of these ubiquitous Mentos commercials. The Heisenberg blue ones were always my favorite.

Good luck getting the earworm out of your head. And stay out of my territory.

(via @somebadideas)

Zombie Disney princesses fell under a scarier, less glamorous spell than usual

Ongoing evidence that Disney and the horror genre are not mutually exclusive: zombie Disney princesses. DeviantARTist Clocktowerman has a mashup collection that will surely delight horror fans, Disney fans, and geek parents who are gently attempting to introduce the scary beasties they love into their children's lives. After the jump, see a few selections from the artist's zombie princess collection, including a full-sized version of Snow White. These ladies aren't after princes for their riches -- they're looking for a nice guy with a brain. A delicious, oxygen-rich brain, filled with blood sent from a still-beating heart.

Why they haven't made a zombie princess movie is beyond me.

Read the rest

French tourists in Sri Lanka receive suspended jail terms for pretending to kiss Buddha statue

Three tourists from France (two women and a man) took photos of themselves posing with Buddha statues in Sri Lanka. At least one of the photos showed the tourists pretending to kiss one of the Buddha statues. When the tourists went to a photo lab to make prints, the owner of the photo lab called the police.

On Tuesday a magistrate sentenced the trio to six months in prison with hard labour, suspended for five years - which means they will not actually serve any time in jail. The court also levied a small fine on them.

They were convicted under a section of the Penal Code which outlaws deeds intended to wound or insult "the religious feelings of any class of persons" through acts committed in, upon or near sacred objects or places of worship.

French tourists given jail terms in Sri Lanka for "insulting religious feelings"

Japan: record high radiation levels found in Fukushima fish, more than a year after nuclear accident

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Japan said Tuesday its monitoring efforts have recorded record high radiation levels in local seafood: 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in fish sampled within a 20-kilometer range of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The photo shows fish caught Aug. 1, 2012 within 20 kilometers of the crippled nuclear power plant. The findings indicate that radioactive contamination remains at unsafe levels in the area's food supply more than a year after the nuclear crisis.

From Kyodo News:

The level of cesium found in greenling is 258 times that deemed safe for consumption by the Japanese government, suggesting that radioactive contamination remains serious more than a year after the nuclear crisis.

Fishing in the sea off Fukushima Prefecture is voluntarily restricted except for trial fishing of certain octopuses.

CNN has more.

Ayn Rand: How everyone’s favorite spouse-swapping, godless pulp novelist and dorm-room doyenne became the Tea Party’s new mascot

NewImage
One of my favorite artists -- Drew Friedman -- draws two of my least favorite people -- Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand. It appears on today's cover of the NY Observer.

Jump on the Rand Wagon! How Ryan Resurrected Ayn