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Kickstarting a literary studio for serialized fiction

Jennifer 8 Lee sez,

Plympton is a new literary studio dedicated to producing serialized fiction for the digital age. They've just launched with their first three titles through the newly created Kindle Serials program, and have several more titles in the works. Plympton has one aim: to bring back the incredibly fun tradition of the serialized novel, improving the lives of readers and writers everywhere. Serials provide a steady stream of great content at a competitive price. They also bring readers the added pleasures of anticipation and speculation, a benefit we've all come to know and love from watching great cable dramas such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Reading fiction that unfolds over weeks or months gives new intimacy and immediacy to the reading experience -- as does having the chance to give writers feedback as they spin a plot to its resolution.

Plympton sees itself as what it calls a "third layer" in the publishing world, a nimble alternative to the major publishers and the online markets. They believe that serialized fiction, with its competitive digital price-point, its great capacity for audience-building, and its built-in emphasis on strong storytelling, is the perfect medium for creating this third layer.

PLYMPTON: Serialized Fiction for Digital Readers (Thanks, Jennifer!)

Wikipedia will encrypt to fight UK spying

Jimmy Wales says that he'll configure Wikipedia to encrypt all user traffic to undermine the UK government's "Snooper's Charter," which will institute bulk, warrantless Internet spying on the whole nation. (via /.)

Street Shofar featuring IKAR's Sexy Shofar Man

[Video Link] My old Wired pal Jonathan Golub and his friends at IKAR made this hilarious "shofar-bombing" video for Rosh Hashanah. It was directed by Isaac Feder and features Michael Brous as Sexy Shofar Man (AKA Rabbi Sharon Brous’s brother).

IKAR is a progressive, egalitarian Jewish community, driven by a passionate belief in the relevance of the Jewish tradition and its power to infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. We believe that Jewish religious practice challenges us to wake up to our responsibilities as Jews and as human beings, and that the upcoming High Holy Days are nothing short of a call to transform our lives, our city and our world. So we sent our Sexy Shofar Man to hit the streets with his sweet shofar blowing to beckon the people of Los Angeles to wake up and think about what’s possible in 5773.

High Holy Days at IKAR

UK transport secretary broke a cyclist's neck through careless driving

What's worse than a new UK health secretary who believes in homeopathy? How about a new transport secretary who broke a cyclist's neck while recklessly driving a 4x4 through the streets of London? (via @bengoldacre) Cory

Mitt Romney: I believe in basic science, and by "basic science" I mean "cold fusion"

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this excerpt from a Washington Examiner interview other than, "*headdesk*".

Mitt Romney: I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with -- with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.

I'm putting the entire quote after the jump, so you can get the full context of where this came from. It is worth noting that Romney seems to be referring to the 1989 experiments done by Stanley Pons (who worked for the University of Utah) and Martin Fleischmann. If you've ever dug into that particular bit of history, you'll find it sounds a lot like the arsenic life story from 2010—scientists announce huge news by press conference (in the case of Fleischmann and Pons the press conference happened before the research had even been through peer review); media goes apeshit; other scientists try to replicate the results and the vast majority fail miserably; finally, it eventually becomes clear that the researchers made some big errors in their data analysis and the original conclusions turn out to be incorrect.

Wikipedia has a pretty good breakdown of this history. Another good place to read about Fleischmann and Pons is in Charles Seife's book Sun in a Bottle, which details the history behind why fusion, in general, has long been more hype than happening. There is some good science going on the world of "hot" fusion, and there's some spotty evidence of weird anomalies that might or might not be cold fusion, but Fleischmann's and Pons' work is almost certainly not going to pan out. And, as energy technologies go, cold fusion is not the one most likely to give us the best bang for our buck.

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3D printed guitar

Rachel sez,

Olaf Diegel, professor of mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand has been leading the charge in a new way of creating instruments: 3D Printing. Although there are plenty of pictures of his incredible ODD instruments online, it's a little harder to find them played in well-recorded audio or video. Until now.

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Marks has decided to play this guitar (and every other instrument in this video) so the world can enjoy a quick burst of 3D-Printed-guitar-love. Olaf will be exhibiting his collection of 3D printed guitars and basses from 19th-21st October at 3D Printshow London. This event will showcase all of the top brands and most incredible creatives working in the world of 3D printing today.

3D Printshow 2012 (Thanks, Rachel!)

How to turn your car’s ashtray into a smartphone dock

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Jason Torchinsky of Jalopnik shows how to turn your car’s ashtray into a smartphone dock

I hardly know anyone who still smokes and pretty much everyone I know has a little computer in the form of an iPhone or Android phone that's always with them. That means I should really think about some of the vestigial parts of my dashboard. Like the ashtray. Let's change the ashtray's function from supporting the disgusting habit of the 1970s (smoking) to the disgusting habit of the 2010s (constant smartphone use). Here's how to do it.

Oh, and since this will get pointed out, I may as well say this. After I came up with the ashtray-to-iPhone dock idea, I was feeling so smug I was having some shirts ordered that said "ME ARE A GENIUS." Then I decided to Google the smartphone dock/old ashtray idea. I'm not the first. I'm not even close. I cancelled the shirt order, but this just proves it's a solid idea. So, onward.

Cheetah cub and puppy are BFFs!

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My friend Michelle Curley runs online media for the Cincinnati Zoo. This is what she saw when she arrived at work today. "Best morning of my Zoo career!" she said. Photo from Michelle's @CincinnatiZoo Twitter feed. More photos at her Google+ page!

Astronauts fix the Space Station with a toothbrush

When NASA's Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide couldn't seem to get a bolt attached to the outside of the space station, ground crews came up with a clever solution: Fix the problem with a toothbrush. At Space.com, Denise Chow explains the details:

On Aug. 30, Williams and Hoshide completed a marathon spacewalk that lasted more than 8 hours, but the astronauts were thwarted by a stubborn bolt and were unable to finish connecting the so-called main bus switching unit (MBSU). The stuck bolt forced NASA to add [yesterday's] extra spacewalk.

But, following last week's unsuccessful attempt, flight controllers, engineers and veteran spacewalkers worked around the clock at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to devise a solution to the problem. Using only the supplies available on the space station, the teams came up with creative new tools for Williams and Hoshide to use to install the MBSU.

One was a modified toothbrush that was used to lubricate the inside of the bolt's housing after debris and metal shavings from inside had been removed. Another improvised instrument included a cleaning tool that had been made from wires that were bent back to form a brush, explained Kieth Johnson, lead spacewalk director at the Johnson Space Center.

Read the rest of the story at Space.com

Why Barack Obama lost Science Debate 2012

On Tuesday, I linked to the results of the 2012 Science Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I chose to focus in on one of Romney's answers, where he acknowledges that climate change is real, but tries to excuse himself from doing anything about it. At Slate, Laura Helmuth takes a different tack—and one I agree with. Romney has a lot of bad ideas for science policy, but he (or whoever wrote his answers) put a lot more care and effort into Science Debate than Obama did. Obama is the better candidate for evidence-based science policy, but you wouldn't know it from reading Science Debate. Maggie

Can't Kate McKinnon just be the one and only Kate McKinnon?

I love covering awesome comedians. I happen to have a soft spot for the lady ones since I have attempted to be a lady comedian myself. But you know what really gets my knickers in a twist? (And it's certainly not reserved for just women.) Calling someone the next "someone else." Today, the NY Post put up a very flattering piece about Saturday Night Live's newest female cast member, Kate McKinnon. And this is great! I love that she's getting positive press, and I'm not knocking the Post for giving the girl the props she deserves. But why do we have to call her "the next Kristen Wiig" when "Kate McKinnon" is awesome in her own right? We already have a Kristen Wiig, and she's great. But she makes movies now, so let's move on and let McKinnon be McKinnon.

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Adobe releases its first free/open type family


Adobe has released a free/open typeface called Source Sans Pro. It's licensed under the SIL Open Font License, which is considered a free license by the Free Software Foundation. The font itself is beautiful, and comes with a set of supporting files that show how the font was developed and are intended to serve as a guide for follow-on designs.

We realize that the majority of users interested in this project will likely only want the fonts. For this purpose, there is a Source Sans font package that includes just these resources. The family currently includes six weights, from ExtraLight to Black, in upright and italic styles. The fonts offer wide language support for Latin script, including Western and Eastern European languages, Vietnamese, pinyin Romanization of Chinese, and Navajo (an often overlooked orthography that holds some personal significance for me). These fonts are the first available from Adobe to support both the Indian rupee and Turkish lira currency symbols. Besides being ready for download to install on personal computers, the Source Sans fonts are also available for use on the web via font hosting services including Typekit, WebInk, and Google Web Fonts. Finally, the Source Sans family will shortly be available for use directly in Google documents and Google presentations. Full glyph complement specimens (793K) are available in the Adobe type store along with informational pages for each style.

In making these fonts open source, it is important to us to make all the source files we used in their production available so that they can be referenced by others as a resource on how to build OpenType fonts with an AFDKO workflow. The full package of source files can be obtained from the Source Sans download page on SourceForge. As part of this ongoing project, we are publishing a roadmap of features that we plan to implement in the near future. At present, this includes items such as expanding the fonts to provide Cyrillic and Greek support, as well as producing a monowidth version of the Source Sans design.

Source Sans Pro: Adobe’s first open source type family

Berners-Lee says no off switch for Internet, photo proves he's wrong

World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says there's no off switch for the Internet, but he's wrong. I found it and here's photographic proof. Anyway, I still like what he said at yesterday's World Wide Web Foundation Web Index event:

 Wp-Content Uploads 2012 06 Internetswitch

The way the internet is designed is very much as a decentralized system. At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off-switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.

In order to be able to turn the whole thing off or really block, suppress one particular idea then the countries and governments would have to get together and agree and co-ordinate and turn it from a decentralized system to being a centralized system. And if that does happen it is really important that everybody fights against that sort of direction.

"Web inventor denies 'off-switch'" (Press Association)

Sponsor Shout-Out: Watchismo

Many thanks to Watchismo for sponsoring Boing Boing Blast, our once-daily delivery of headlines by email.

Retrogadget watch pioneer Click Watches and Watchismo are proud to introduce the extremely limited edition Click Watches SAFE Watch collection, now in all stainless steel casing and leather straps. Each watch has the individual edition number engraved on the caseback, supply is VERY limited, so don't miss out!

The time is unlocked by pressing the zero, which displays a sequential flashing of led bulbs in corresponding keypad buttons. A number pad, set into an angular steel casing with no distinguishable display, adds up to a cool new way to showcase the hour.

See the entire Click Watch collection at Watchismo.

Shepard Fairey x Neil Young 'Americana' Box Set

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Shepard Fairey Neil Young 5 20120906 1122584400

Released today is the Shepard Faire/Neil Young sumptuous "Americana" box set. An edition of 200, it includes 12 signed and numbered prints, song lyric sheet, and a CD of the new Neil Young and Crazy Horse album. (Seems like vinyl would have been an appropriate choice here, but alas.) The box is $850 from Obey and will be available at an unannounced time today. Juxtapoz has a lovely collection of images from the set. "Shepard Fairey x Neil Young 'Americana' Box Set"