On Mental Floss, Jill Harness's collection of librarian tattoos. Above, Elizabeth Skene's card-catalog sleeve, by Frank William of the Chicago Tattoo Company. Right, Michelle's super-librarian tattoo, chosen to represent her career as a high-school librarian, based on Mary Marvel, and done by Chris Cockrill of Avalon II Tattoo.
Ed Felten presents and argues for the idea of "accountable algorithms" for use in public life -- that is, "output produced by a particular execution of the algorithm can be verified as correct after the fact by a skeptical member of the public."
He gives a great example of how to run a securely random TSA checkpoint where, at the end of each day, the public can open a sealed envelope and verify that the TSA was using a truly fair random selection method, and not just picking people they didn't like the look of:
Now we can create our accountable selection method. First thing in the morning, before the security checkpoint opens, the TSA picks a random value R and commits it. Now the TSA knows R but the public doesn’t. Immediately thereafter, TSA officials roll dice, in public view, to generate another random value S. Now the TSA adds R+S and makes that sum the key K for the day.
Now, when you arrive at the checkpoint, you announce your name N, and the TSA uses the selection function to compute S(K, N). The TSA announces the result, and if it’s “yes,” then you get searched. You can’t anticipate whether you’ll be searched, because that depends on the key K, which depends on the TSA’s secret value R, which you don’t know.
At the end of the day, the TSA opens its commitment to R. Now you can verify that the TSA followed the algorithm correctly in deciding whether to search you. You can add the now-public R to the already-public S, to get the day’s (previously) secret key K. You can then evaluate the selection function S(K,N) with your name N–replicating the computation that the TSA did in deciding whether to search you. If the result you get matches the result the TSA announced earlier, then you know that the TSA did their job correctly. If it doesn’t match, you know the TSA cheated–and when you announce that they cheated, anybody can verify that your accusation is correct.
This method prevents the TSA from creating a non-random result. The reason the TSA cannot do this is that the key K is based on result of die-rolling, which is definitely random. And the TSA cannot have chosen its secret value R in a way that neutralized the effect of the random die-rolls, because the TSA had to commit to its choice of R because the dice were rolled. So citizens know that if they were chosen, it was because of randomness and not any TSA bias.
France's Hadopi finally punishes someone for infringement -- a guy whom everyone agrees isn't an infringer
The Glenn Gould Variations is a new conference/event in Toronto mounted by the
Glenn Gould Foundation Glenn Gould Estate, dedicated to the kind of odd, creative, quirky and thoughtful ideas that Gould was known for. The inaugural event, called "DREAMERS RENEGADES VISIONARIES," will be held in Toronto on Sept 22/23 at the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall. There are over 50 presenters, performers and speakers (including me!), and it promises to be quite an event.
Update: Ron Davis from the Foundation sez, "Dreamers, Renegades, Visionaries: The Glenn Gould Variations is presented by U of T in association with the Glenn Gould Estate. The Foundation is one of several supporters of our event. But the Foundation is independent of it."
Filmmakers, dancers, choreographers, voices, music makers, DJs, visual artists and music producers, mix it up with philosophers, futurists, journalists, media mavens, historians, and provocateurs who defy description!
The "immersive experience" of DREAMERS RENEGADES VISIONARIES: The Glenn Gould Variations is accessible and affordable (a first for Toronto!) for everybody, inspiring and provoking creativity in thought, word and deed with no boundaries…just like Gould himself.
This provocative mix of performance and talk is inspired by Canadian icon and multi-media innovator Glenn Gould, and part of the celebrations marking the 80th year of Gould's birth.
(Disclosure: I am a volunteer member of the Glenn Gould Foundation's advisory board)
After some four month of silence on Twitter, Kathy Bates returned to share news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago, and has undergone a double mastectomy. I felt an extra-strong twinge of sadness when I read Twitter replies from her fans wishing her a "speedy recovery." I get that line a lot, too. There's no such thing.
A TSA screener who worked in Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport in Florida is in jail, "facing 25 counts of possessing child pornography showing young children engaged in sexual acts." He first admitted to investigators that he had downloaded the material and deleted it, but later said he "didn’t know how the child pornography got on his computer." Here's the arrest info. (photo: Broward County Sherrif's office).
Science fiction writers aren’t fortune tellers. Fortune tellers are fakes. Fortune tellers are either deluded or charlatans. You can find science fiction writers who are deluded or science fiction writers who are charlatans — I can think of several of each in the history of the field. Every once in a while, somebody extends their imagination down the line, far enough with a sufficient lack of prejudice, to imagine something that then actually happens. When it happens, it’s great, but it’s not magic. All the language we have for describing what science fiction writers and futurists of other stripes do is nakedly a language of magic.
I’m having a week where some well-intentioned person on the internet describes me as “oracular.” As soon as one of the words with a magic connotation is attached — I know this from ongoing experience — as soon as someone says “oracular,” it’s like, boom! It’s all over the place; it’s endlessly repeated. It’s probably not bad for business. But then I wind up spending a lot of time disabusing people of the idea that I have some sort of magic insight…. You can also find, if you wanted to Google through all the William Gibson pieces on the net, you can find tons of pieces, where people go on and on about how often I’ve gotten it wrong. Where are the cellphones? And neural nets? Why is the bandwidth of everything microscopic in Neuromancer? I could write technological critique of Neuromancer myself that I think could probably convince people that I haven’t gotten it right.
Because the thing that Neuromancer predicts as being actually like the internet isn’t actually like the internet at all! It’s something; I didn’t get it right but I said there was going to be something. I somehow managed to convey a feeling of something. Curiously, that put me out ahead of the field in that regard. It wasn’t that other people were getting it wrong; it was just that relatively few people in the early 1980s, relatively few people who were writing science fiction were paying attention to that stuff. That wasn’t what they were writing about.
I published an essay with my take on this in Locus: A Vocabulary for Speaking about the Future.
(Photo: Jason Redmond/Wired)
"Innocence of Muslims," the spectacularly crappy anti-Muslim movie trailer linked to recent violence in Libya, and the death of a US ambassador and others? The guy credited as its filmmaker, "Sam Bacile," has been outed as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
Noah Shachtman at Wired News reports that "Bacile" was one of many pseudonyms used by Nakoula. Others include Matthew Nekola; Ahmed Hamdy; Amal Nada; Daniel K. Caresman; Kritbag Difrat; Sobhi Bushra; Robert Bacily; Nicola Bacily; Thomas J. Tanas; Erwin Salameh; Mark Basseley Youssef; Yousseff M. Basseley; Malid Ahlawi; and my favorite, P.J. Tobacco.
He first told news outlets he was an Israeli Jew; law enforcement authorities have since identified him as a Coptic Christian immigrant with a shady past. He reportedly has a criminal record including at least one narcotics conviction: an LA County District Attorney’s office source says he was arrested by the L.A. Country Sheriff's Department in 1997 and charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
There are two major active volcanoes in the Sacatepéquez department of Guatemala, and one of them is very active today: Volcán de Fuego, or "the fire volcano" (as contrasted with its adjacent twin, Volcán de Agua, or "the water volcano"). The last time this volcano erupted was in 2011. Mashable gathered some "citizen"-published photos and videos, here's a roundup of pics at Prensa Libre, and here's an AP item. Many evacuations, which is routine whenever the volcano wakes up; no casualties at this time.
James Cameron wants to help the Mythbusters prove that Jack and Rose could not have both occupied that door-raft
Apologies for another Titanic-related post this week, but this one has Mythbusters in it. James Cameron did an interview with IGN in which he talked about the conversion to 3D, yada yada yada... And then a minute before the end of the video, the interviewer asks Cameron if he's aware of the Reddit thread trying to debunk the whole "door couldn't hold both Jack and Rose" thing. Cameron argues that while sheer surface area may have allowed two people to lay on top, physics would not. It flipped when Jack tried to get on, you see. And the filmmaker says that Discovery Channel's Mythbusters will be tackling this mystery of buoyancy on an upcoming episode, and he would like to help them prove that he was right.
I feel like Cameron has actually run this experiment in his own personal laboratory numerous times, and that's why he's so sure of this. (Plus, science totally backs him up.) Though I still think that if Jeremy Sisto played Jack, he not only would have found a way for both him and Kate Winslet to get on that thing, he would have saved both of their lives with sex warmth.
I loved the cover painting for Daniel Clowes' Eightball no. 18, and now it's available as a limited-edition print.
This is a limited edition, archival, facsimile print of the cover painting used for issue no.18 of the comic Eightball by Daniel Clowes. It has been reproduced at a 1:1 scale to match the size of the original painting that is currently on display as a key part of the “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes” touring museum exhibition. This giclée print was created to the highest standards of production under supervision of the artist. The finest quality materials were used including an eleven-color, high dynamic range, process inkset on conservation grade 100% cotton acid and lignin-free paper and tested by the Fine Arts Trade Guild and guaranteed to resist fading and discoloration in excess of seventy five-years. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist and includes a registered certificate of authenticity. Don’t miss out on this chance to have a museum quality piece of art for your very own.
An optional logo was made for this print in the style of a “paste-up” that the artist would use in his formative years in a pre- digital era. Each logo is hand-cut by the artist and can be mounted (with archival PVA adhesive) by us at your request, or included ‘loose’ for you to choose to mount yourself (or not) when framing. The colorway for this logo differs from the one used on the printed cover of Eightball no.18. These are the exact colors the artist originally intended and are seen in this print for the first time.
Yesterday, I reviewed the new David Byrne book, How Music Works and mentioned that I'd be interviewing Byrne about it live on stage in Toronto on Sept 19, as part of the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors.
The IFA folks have made a pair of tickets for the event available to Boing Boing readers. To win, answer the following question:
What is David Byrne's favourite mode of transportation?
And send us your answer by midnight eastern on September 16 to email@example.com with the subject line "BYRNE TIX." One winner will be notified September 17.
The event is called "David Byrne and Cory Doctorow: Wassup Internet?!—Music in the Digital Landscape," and it'll be held at 7:30pm on Sept 19 at the Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West.
Want an awesome painting like this? It's a two step process:
Step 1: Find generic '80s oil painting at thrift store
Step 2: Paint a badass Kraken in it
Dana's Painting and Portraits (Thanks, Gromitorium!)