Dang, the folks at Evil Cakes can make some inspired horrific carby treats. Case in point, a four-pop set of "Women in Horror" cake pops featuring the Bates character from Misery, the little girl from the Exorcist, Carrie, and the Blair Witch.
On the FractalForums message boards, a user called LhoghoNurbs has posted this wonderful contest-entry for a notional set of fractal cutlery. In a subsequent post, LhoghoNurbs explains that all the image manipulation was done in the GIMP, without any 3D modelling software. LhoghoNurbs wants a set of these, and so do I.
The set includes four pieces:
Cantor fork :: now you can pin a single kiwi seed. Twice in a row.
Recursive spoon :: it will never let you spill a drop of soup. Ever.
Koch knife :: to delicately cut hair-thin slices out of an egg. A raw egg.
The Infinity Set :: the set includes itself. As a subset.
Every piece of the set is inscribed with our Julia logo and our motto "The Infinities are Possible". Limited quantities. Unlimited price. The kiwi, the drop of soup and the egg are not included in the box, but could be ordered separately.
Vice Admiral Tharathorn Kajitsuwan, the Third Naval Area commander, said the video was made for entertainment purposes and to be showcased at the unit's annual retirement party. Some senior officers were said to have been offended by the "improper" spectacle of officers in dress whites prancing about, but Commander Surasak Rounroengrom said no harm was done to the Navy's image.
"I told my subordinates that the video should be entertaining to watch and help promote unity in the unit," Vice Adm Tharathorn said on Monday.
The video took three days to film and edit, and was shown at the base’s annual party last week. It shows "white-uniformed sailors in sunglasses galloping through their offices and officers in scuba gear shimmying up the beach."
Japan has extended its shockingly bad copyright law, passed in June, which provides for 10-year prison sentences for people who upload copyrighted works without permission; under the new law, downloading a copyrighted work without permission also carries up to two years in prison.
The Japanese copyright lobby has also renewed its demand for mandatory network surveillance, through which black boxes with secret lists of copyrighted works will monitor all network traffic and silently kill any file-transfer believed to infringe copyright.
The ISPs would have to pay a monthly licensing fee for the privilege of having these black boxes on their networks.
More from TorrentFreak:
Tracking uploaders of infringing material is a fairly simple affair, with rightsholders connecting to file-sharers making available illicit content and logging evidence. However, proving that someone has downloaded content illegally presents a whole new set of issues.
On BitTorrent, for example, rightsholders would have to be the ones actually sending the infringing material to a file-sharer in order to know that he or she is downloading it. This scenario could cause complications, since rightholders already have permission to upload their own content, making the source a legal one.
But for the implications for ‘downloaders’ could be even more widespread. The generally tech-savvy BitTorrent user understands the potential for being targeted for sharing, but by making mere downloading a criminal offense it is now feared that those who simply view an infringing YouTube video could also be subjected to sanctions.
Just when you thought Panama had perfected the crappy copyright law.
A page on the Distributed Proofreaders project advises people who are trying to find typos in scanned and OCR'ed texts to try DPCustomMono, a font specifically designed to make it easy to catch common OCR errors. Distributed Proofreaders are volunteers who check out a page or more of scanned text from the Project Gutenberg archives and check it for typos, improving the quality of the text. DPCustomMono's characters are designed to maximize the difference between ones, lower-case ells, and upper-case eyes, as well as other lookalike glyphs.
Defense Distributed is a collective that raised $20,000 in BitCoins to lease a 3D printer and develop and prototype a 3D printed pistol. Stratasys, the manufacturer of the printer, seized it from the home of Defense Distributed's Cody Wilson, after a heated email exchange in which the Stratasys counsel said that "It is the policy of Stratasys not to knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes. Therefore, please be advised that your lease of the Stratasys uPrint SE is cancelled at this time and Stratasys is making arrangements to pick up the printer."
Robert Beckhusen writes more in Wired:
“They came for it straight up,” Cody Wilson, director of Defense Distributed, the online collective that oversees the Wiki project, tells Danger Room. “I didn’t even have it out of the box.” Wilson, who is a second-year law student at the University of Texas at Austin, had leased the printer earlier in September after his group raised $20,000 online. As well as using the funds to build a pistol, the Wiki Weapon project aimed to eventually provide a platform for anyone to share 3-D weapons schematics online. Eventually, the group hoped, anyone could download the open source blueprints and build weapons at home.
Until Stratasys pulled the lease, the Wiki Weapon project intended to make a fully 3-D printed pistol for the first time, though it would likely be capable of only firing a single shot until the barrel melted. Still, that would go further than the partly plastic AR-15 rifle produced by blogger and gunsmith Michael Guslick. Also known as “Have Blue,” Guslick became an online sensation after he made a working rifle by printing a lower receiver and combining it with off-the-shelf metal parts.
But last Wednesday, less than a week after receiving the printer, Wilson received an e-mail from Stratasys: The company wanted its printer returned. Wilson wrote back, and said he believed using the printer to manufacture a firearm would not break federal laws regarding at-home weapons manufacturing. For one, the gun wouldn’t be for sale. Wilson added that he didn’t have a firearms manufacturers license.
Wilson disagrees about the illegality of his project.
"Why aren’t my kids hyper after binging on sugar?" asked Gillian Mayman at Mind the Science Gap, a blog featuring the work of various Master of Public Health students from the University of Michigan.
The punchline: "A review of 12 separate research studies found that there was no evidence that eating sugar makes kids hyper."
The post is great, but greatest of all? The animated GIFs used to illustrate it. (via @Boraz)
"Post some fucking bats!" baturday.tumblr.com, a Tumblog of Greatness. (thanks, Antinous)
From science fiction great Frederik Pohl's ongoing blog/memoir "The Way the Future Blogs," a lovely post explaining how Pohl became a "literary agent" in the era of the science fiction pulps, inspired by the desire to save 8¢ per story in postage.
As I had learned from my study of Writers Digest, I could mail in my stories — and had done so. The catch to that was that I was required to enclose postage for the return trip in the (likely) event of rejection. That had amounted, in the last story I had submitted by mail, to 9¢ in stamps each way, total 18¢. While the cost, if I delivered them in person, would be only a nickel each way for the subway. (Plus, of course, whatever price could be put on my time for the 45 minutes each way it would take for me to do it — but, then, nobody else was offering to buy any of my time at any price.)
That represented a nearly 50-percent reduction in my cost of doing business, or even more — much, much more! — if I had enough stories to submit to make a continuing process out of it. I could, say, take the subway to editor A’s office to pick up rejected story X and at the same time submit new story Y, then walk (no cost for walking) to the office of editor B to try story X on him. And there was no reason for me to limit myself to a single story each way at each office.
The only thing that could prevent me from working at that much greater volume was that I hadn’ t written enough stories to make such economies of scale pay off, and that, boys and girls, is how I became a literary agent.
I read a lot of memoirs from this era of the field when I was starting out, and always felt cheated by the immediacy of the pulp writer experience. Writers would post stories to editors, hear back right away, send their stories out to new editors.
I entered the field in the mid-1980s, when you'd send a "disposable manuscript" (laser prints only, no dot-matrix!), to an editor along with a SASE (for Canadians, this meant lining up at the post awful for expensive International Reply Postage Coupons), and then wait. And wait. It wasn't uncommon for publishers to take 18 months or more to send out a simple form rejection. And of course, the rates had barely changed since Pohl's day, losing so much ground to inflation that the sums involved had really become tokens.
On the other hand, in those days, the editors of the major sf magazines were fielding more than 1,000 unsolicited manuscripts per month, for four or five uncommissioned monthly slots in their publications, so there wasn't really any good reason to pay more, or hire more staff to reject stories faster.
It took ten years for me to sell a story to a "major" market, and during that time, I racked up hundreds of rejections. Looking back on it, I can't really understand why I kept on, except that I couldn't stop. I'm glad I kept at it, but man, what a grind that was.
Using LEGO and pure genius, YouTuber XXxOPRIMExXX created this amazing stop-motion homage to the great Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
The project was originally uploaded in 2010, but YouTube blocked part of it over copyright claims.
"I had to take out the famous scene of Slim Pickens riding the bomb and the nuclear holocaust credits to have this video viewable because those scenes were taken directly from the movie," the auteur laments. "I was hoping to have the Slim Pickens scene done in Lego by now but I just never had enough time or effort to do it, maybe some time in the future. Enjoy." Read the rest
Read the rest
“It’s like a caricature of a jihadi group. It looks like someone went to the Internet, watched pictures of Afghan mujahedeen, then copied them.”—Joseph Holliday, who researches Syrian rebel groups at the Washington, DC-based Institute for the Study of War, speaking in the Washington Post about a suspicious video that has emerged of Austin Tice, a captive US journalist believed to have been kidnapped by the Syrian government.
You can watch the video here. It shows Tice alive after capture, and it is disturbing.
Tice has been missing since mid-August. An article at McClatchy digs further into the details of who may have posted the video, and why observers are skeptical that this was in fact produced by anyone but parties working on behalf of the Assad regime.
I was intrigued by a recent Warren Ellis post about comics creator Jonathan Hickman. Ellis described Hickman's background in graphic design prior to his comics work, and mentioned that he'd done "the lion’s share of the most striking recent use of infographics in comics." The examples given by Ellis were intriguing.
I was in Toronto, and looking for an excuse to patronize the new location of the Silver Snail, Toronto's venerable comics institution, which has just moved from its historic digs on Queen Street West to a new spot on Yonge Street, after the owner sold the building and then retired, selling the business to store manager George Zotti. I've known George since he was a clerk at the Snail and I was a kid working at Bakka, the science fiction bookstore, which was once opposite the Snail's Queen Street location, and I wanted to go down and see the new shop and also support his plunge from manager to owner.
George sold me three Hickman collections, all from Image press: The Nightly News (2007), Pax Romana (2009), and Transhuman (2009). Ellis's point about the graphic design -- and especially the excellent use of infographics -- is well made in all three books. I don't think
My four year old son painted this at school and told his teacher, “This is Mars. Mars is red. And there is a robot there taking pictures and sending them back to earth.”
Mars Curiosity, eat your heart out.
Writing in the New York Observer, Trust Me, I'm Lying author Ryan Holiday says that Facebook has deliberately broken its fan-page service so that only a small number of registered fans see status-updates. If "brands, agencies and artists" want to reach all the people who've signed up for status-updates, they have to pay for "sponsored posts." As Holiday notes, this is a large conflict of interest for the service: the worse it works, the more they can charge to fix it.
It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.
As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”
In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.
This is a clear conflict of interest. The worse the platform performs, the more advertisers need to use Sponsored Stories. In a way, it means that Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users. In the case of Sponsored Stories, it has meant raking in nearly $1M a day.
Holiday goes on to point out problems with other services, including Twitter and Craisglist. His focus is on the cost to advertisers, but there's also the cost to users, who believe that they are getting the news they signed up for, and instead are getting the news that a deep-pocketed firm can afford to put before them. For further reading, see Eli Pariser's Filter Bubble.
A group of MIT students decided to test the performance of different tinfoil beanies to see how various designs (the "classical," "fez" and "centurion") interacted with commonly used industrial radio applications. They found that all three designs actually amplified these
mind control rays radio waves, suggesting that the tinfoil hat meme might be a false-flag operation engineered to trick the wily and suspicious into making it easier to beam messages into their skulls.
Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.
... We evaluated the performance of three different helmet designs, commonly referred to as the Classical, the Fez, and the Centurion. These designs are portrayed in Figure 1. The helmets were made of Reynolds aluminium foil. As per best practices, all three designs were constructed with the double layering technique described elsewhere .
A radio-frequency test signal sweeping the ranges from 10 Khz to 3 Ghz was generated using an omnidirectional antenna attached to the Agilent 8714ET's signal generator.
OP-1 synthesizer manufacturer Teenage Engineering doesn't want to ship you replacement knobs and buttons for your instrument. Instead, they've uploaded printable shapefiles to Shapeways and have asked their customers to simply download them and print them on a nearby 3D printer as needed. This appears to be the first time a manufacturer has taken such a step, according to a Shapeways blog-post. Here's the official statement from Teenage Engineering:
We work hard to make our OP-1 users happy with free OS updates and added functionality. But sometimes we fail. As some have noted, the shipping cost of the OP-1 accessories is very high. This is because we can't find a good delivery service for small items. Meanwhile, we have decided to put all CAD files of the parts in our library section for you to download. The files are provided in both STEP and STL format. Just download the files and 3D print as many as you want. Next fail is the OP-1 manual update. We are almost there...we promise it will be ready sometime next week. Thank you all for your patience, we promise to work even harder in the future to make you happy.
Very groovy news coming through the entertainment pipeline this morning as we find out who will host the Oscars: Seth MacFarlane! The Family Guy and American Dad creator, who just opened up Saturday Night Live's new season with a bang, has been chosen to host the next Academy Awards telecast early next year. Hopefully, he will show up to rehearsal this time! (video link)
And speaking of Saturday Night Live, they have announced their October lineup of hosts and musical guests: This Saturday, October 6 will be Daniel Craig with musical guest Muse, October 13 will be Christina Applegate -- coming back for her second time as host -- with musical guest Passion Pit, and October 20 will welcome Bruno Mars, who will do double duty as host and musical guest. (That would have been such a great Digital Short, so can Andy Samberg and Co. please come back to do just one? If anyone knows the correct person to bribe, please let me know.)
Seth MacFarlane's Big News [Oscars on YouTube]
Sick of New York stories? No? Good, we’ve got a pair of those this month. And for those of you who could care less about the plights of Brooklynites in the early 21st century, no need to fear -- there’s also the tale of a big, blurry sea monster and a vampire with disablingly large canines. Comics are fun! Oh, and hey self-publishers, we want to feature your minis in upcoming columns. Drop us a line, and we'll tell you where to send 'em.
New York Drawings by Adrian Tomine. Drawn & Quarterly
There have been all of, what, three issues of Optic Nerve published in the past decade? Adrian Tomine, you’re given those of us in the indie comics trenches some serious abandonment issues here -- those of us who cite the series along with Eightball and Hate and Love & Rockets as the books that helped up our eyes to the potential of this medium in high school and college. Oh, we know why you haven’t been around a lot. We get it it. We live in a world where making a living as a cartoonist is a tricky proposition even for someone whose convention lines wrap around to the other side of the room. And yeah, if we thought for a minute that The New Yorker wanted what we were selling, we’d drop everything in an instant -- and once they did, tales about angsty 20-year-olds might not have the same resonance.
But then you open this collection and realize Tomine is still Tomine. That the sequential floppies have mostly morphed into single-page illustrations (which, wild guess, likely pay orders of magnitude more than full issues ever did), but the cartoonist has used this opportunity to condense short stories into single panel tales. Yeah, some of the content is likely just commissioned supplementals for others’ text stories that do most of the heavy lifting, but divorced of text, Tomine has become a master of conveying real world complexities in the context of a single frame. And as you stare and search, the book store is changed from a stationary object for coffee tables and dusty bookshelves into something more vibrant -- not quite a graphic novel per se, but a portrait, certainly, of the world around him.
Read the rest
Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil is a former finance-industry quantitative analyst who escaped her former career and has advice for other quants looking to do something better with their lives. She works in a startup now, and offers a fascinating study of the contrasts between finance culture and startup culture:
First, I want to say it’s frustrating how risk-averse the culture in finance is. I know, it’s strange to hear that, but compared to working in a start-up, I found the culture and people in finance to be way more risk-averse in the sense of personal risk, not in the sense of “putting other people’s money at risk”.
People in start-ups are optimistic about the future, ready for the big pay-out that may never come, whereas the people in finance are ready for the world to melt down and are trying to collect enough food before it happens. I don’t know which is more accurate but it’s definitely more fun to be around optimists. Young people get old quickly in finance.
Second the money is just crazy. People seriously get caught up in a world where they can’t see themselves accepting less than $400K per year. I don’t think they could wean themselves off the finance teat unless the milk dried up.
Over at our sponsor Intel's My Life Scoop site, I wrote about "Work As A Game":
"Work As A Game"
“Fun is not the enemy of work.” That’s the slogan of Natron Baxter Applied Gaming, a boutique game development firm that’s developed gaming experiences for the World Bank Institute, Institute for the Future (where I’m a researcher), and many other organizations. When I first heard that motto, it echoed something Douglas Rushkoff talked about on his blog and in his 2005 book “Get Back In The Box” — essentially that fun shouldn’t be a “reward” for miserable work.
“In psychology, it’s called 'extrinsic motivation,' and it only works for a short time," Rushkoff writes. "The net effect is to make the thing you’re doing for that extrinsic reward less appealing – more like work. 'Compensation' becomes precisely that: compensation for doing something you don’t want to be doing."
[Video Link] Fiona Chan says:
Last night, LEGO kicked off the countdown to the Halloween season by inviting the New Orleans community to build a 12-foot tall LEGO vampire by the light of the full moon in the company’s first ever all night build. Set against the backdrop of Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral, they built spooky Lego Lord Vampyre -- based on the lead villain from the new Monster Fighters line.
“Factory Girls,” a [paywalled] New Yorker piece this month by John Seabrook, explores the rise of the two billion-dollar Korean pop music industry and "its fraught entry into the Western music market" despite the YouTube-driven viral success of PSY's "Gangnam Style.”
Typical K-pop “is an East-West mash-up,” writes Seabrook. “The performers are mostly Korean, and their mesmerizing synchronized dance moves, accompanied by a complex telegraphy of winks and hand gestures, have an Asian flavor to them, but the music sounds Western: hip-hop verses, Euro-pop choruses, rapping, and dubstep breaks.”
My brother Carl Hamm, a club and radio DJ who regularly spins K-Pop nights (including one this Friday night in Richmond, VA), says, "This is one of an endless stream of articles I have read that sort of 'warns' of a pending K-Pop invasion. But the fact is, it's already happened. Not just PSY, but groups like EXO (which they mention), BIG BANG, SNSD/Girls Generation, SHinee, and 2NE1. All are well on their way to being huge over here among young American kids. And yes, the whole thing about manufactured, assembly-line personas of the artists is, for the most part, true. But despite the much-rumored dark side of this business, many of them really are gifted performers who have worked hard to reach where they are, love their fans, and enjoy what they do." "Incidentally, Big Bang are playing 2 dates in Los Angeles and one in New Jersey this November," Carl adds. "Tickets sold out in less than 4 hours! And 2ne1 also recently played to huge crowds in the US last month. See here and here."