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Nina Paley's history of the Holy Land: "This Land Is Mine"

Nina Paley's new "potential-possible-maybe-feature film" project is Seder-Masochism, and she's posted a clip called "This Land Is Mine," which she envisions as the final scene of the movie. "This Land Is Mine" is a history of the Holy Land and all the blood spilled over the years by various parties who laid claim to it. Her web page for the short features a full cast of characters, with historical notes, and, of course, the wonderful video itself.

Download the Little Brother audiobook

Thanks to the kind folks at Random House Audio, I'm now able to offer direct downloads of the unabridged audiobook of Little Brother, read by Kirby Heyborne. The download is DRM-free, and comes with no EULA -- in other words, the only terms binding your use of it are: "Don't violate copyright law." It's $20, cheap!

Little Brother Audiobook

Congress: The DHS's "fusion centers" full of bad intelligence, lies, and imaginary buildings

A bipartisan report on the DHS's much-vaunted, scorchingly expensive "fusion centers" that were supposed to be the future of American security. The Congressional investigators who wrote the report don't mince words, and accuse the DHS of uncontrolled spending, poor, false and even lying intelligence reporting, illegal intelligence gathering, and even making up four imaginary fusion centers that were never built, but were reported to Congress as open for business and bustling with activity. (via Techdirt) Cory

Meaningful appeals for accused YouTube uploaders

After years of video creators being caught in Kafkaesque support-loops from Google, the company has finally introduced a meaningful appeals process to copyright complaints for YouTube videos. Though, as Timothy Lee points on at Ars, the new process still has plenty of room for abuse. Cory

E. Horton Kinsman, Shoe Consultant


Share stories of your experiences with E. Horton Kinsman, Shoe Consultant, in the comments. (Via Drew Friedman)

Replica vintage sports jerseys made out of new-old vintage fabric


Ebbets Field Flannels makes replicas of vintage baseball jerseys from various leagues (including Cuban and Japanese jerseys), using new-old vintage textiles for their projects. They also do hockey jerseys, hats, and other replicas of bygone-era sportswear.

The Stanley Cup used to be an open tournament which included non-NHL teams. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA became the first U.S. team to win the cup when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens three games to one. Several different versions of this barber-pole striped sweater were worn through the years.

Ebbets Field Flannels (via Kottke)

The new trailer for Movie 43 is very, very funny and not-at-all SFW

(Video link) A rather off-the-wall trailer for the upcoming anthology flick Movie 43 -- which stars every single person in Hollywood and is directed by everyone else who showed up late the day it was cast (except for Elizabeth Banks, who directs and stars) -- was unleashed on the internet today. Made in the vein of Kentucky Fried Movie and, as Entertainment Weekly observes, Robot Chicken, Movie 43 took four years to make and looks bonkers! Whether or not that's a good thing, well, I'll reserve my judgement until I actually see it when it opens in April. Once again, this preview is NSFW. (via Entertainment Weekly)

Theatre Bizarre: Stupendous yearly Halloween ball in Detroit

The coolest thing that I saw at the Detroit Maker Faire in 2011 was John Dunivant's Theatre Bizarre. John (right) is an immensely talented artist who creates stages, costumes, artwork, carnival attractions, signs, and everything else that goes into an amazing yearly Halloween show held at the abandoned Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit. I was blown away by John's sideshow culture creations (see my photos here), and when I talked to John, I was impressed by his deep knowledge of monster artists, such as Basil Gogos, whose work is an inspiration. It costs about $250,000 to produce this one-night event, and if you anywhere near Detroit, I highly recommend attending. Here are the details:

John Dunivant, the man behind Theatre Bizarre -- the legendary underground Halloween masquerade -- will once again hold Detroit’s most elite partygoers in his thrall using the seductive force of his latest creation -- The Summoning.

For the first decade of the 21st century, Theatre Bizarre broke the laws of man and nature. On one night each year, a dark carnival came to life in the shadow of the now abandoned Michigan State Fairgrounds in one of the Motor City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The lucky few who were able to get tickets for the annual event were treated to a show unlike any other, at a place that could only exist in a city that has better things to do than enforce zoning laws. Complete with ferris wheel, a roller coaster and a half-dozen stages, Theatre Bizarre was an immersive, decadent, pyrotechnic marvel until it became too large for even Detroit to ignore. In 2010 it was shut down. Thousands of diehard fans and true believers mourned.

In 2011, Dunivant and his crew (most of whom are volunteers) introduced the world to their new home and their new direction. The Initiation was held in late October at Detroit’s Masonic Temple -- the largest temple of its kind in the world. The venue’s confounding architecture and shadowy history dovetailed perfectly with Dunivant’s new vision.

“There’s a secret society,” explained Dunivant. “Templum Balatro. The Temple of the Fool. We celebrate decay -- the decay of society, of moral fiber, of the flesh. We don’t whistle past the graveyard. We dance in it.”

The sprawling temple played host to hundreds of music acts, sideshow performers, burlesque dancers, dominatrixes, suspension artists and the onstage branding of volunteers from an eager pool of thrill-seeking attendees. In cloaks and masks, the crowd reveled in the shameless, sweaty decadence of unfettered indulgence. Last year, the revelers were initiated. This year, they are summoned.

The Summoning will be held on October 20, 2012 at The Masonic Temple at 500 Temple Street in downtown Detroit. The doors open at 7pm. Included in the featured acts will be Miss Exotic World of 2010, Miss Roxi DLite. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older. Costumes are mandatory. Tickets will be available for $65 each beginning Saturday, September 15 at the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale. Details about online and retail sales of tickets are available at theatrebizarre.com.

See more photos

A cool way to turn a window into a door

Last weekend, I visited St. Louis and got to catch up with some friends who live in an old brick house in that city's South Grand/Tower Grove neighborhood. (Which is awesome, by the way. After hearing nothing but bad news about St. Louis for years, I was pleasantly surprised by great, thriving neighborhoods like this one.)

There's a little porch off one of the upstairs windows, facing the street. But, at first, it's not entirely clear how you get out onto it. But, whoever built this old house had a clever trick up their sleeve — and it's one I'd never seen in action before. That's a picture of the closed window above.

Read the rest

The science of debate strategy

In preparation for tonight's American presidential debate, please enjoy this Science Friday piece on the social psychology involved in successfully dodging a question. How do politicians slip into answering the questions they want to answer, instead of the ones you asked? What can you do to be more aware when this is happening? Maggie

Skateboarder runs into deer

During last weekend's Buffalo Bill Downhill race in Golden, Colorado, a skateboarder hit a deer crossing the road. I hope the deer is OK. (7News, thanks Gabe Adiv!)

Wingnut fantasy: Obama’s mom was a porn star, dad was communist poet

From Digital Journal:

A scandalous DVD claiming that President Barack Obama's mother posed for pornographic photos and that his real father was a communist poet who indoctrinated young Barack with Marxism is reportedly being mailed to more than a million swing-state voters.

The video, a pseudo-documentary produced by right-wing filmmaker Joel Gilbert, is titled "Dreams From My Real Father." According to MailOnline, Gilbert claims that more than a million copies of the salacious -- and fallacious -- video have been mailed to voters in Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire, with as many as three million additional copies to be mailed in the near future.

The weird, black, spidery things of Mars

See those weird, black, spidery things dotting the dunes in this colorized photo taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2010? Yeah. Nobody knows what the hell those things are.

What we do know about them just underlines how incredibly unfamiliar Mars really is to us. First spotted by humans in 1998, these splotches pop up every Martian spring, and disappear in winter. Usually, they appear in the same places as the previous year, and they tend to congregate on the sunny sides of sand dunes — all but shunning flat ground. There's nothing on Earth that looks like this that we can compare them to. It's a for real-real mystery, writes Robert Krulwich at NPR. But there are theories:

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it's transformed my idea of what it's like to be on Mars. For 20 years, I've thought the planet to be magnificently desolate, a dead zone, painted rouge. But imagine this: Every spring, the sun beats down on a southern region of Mars, morning light melts the surface, warms up the ground below, and a thin, underground layer of frozen CO2 turns suddenly into a roaring gas, expands, and carrying rock and ice, rushes up through breaks in the rock, exploding into the Martian air. Geysers shoot up in odd places. It feels random, like being surprise attacked by an monstrous, underground fountain.

"If you were there," says Phil Christensen of Arizona State University, "you'd be standing on a slab of carbon dioxide ice. All around you, roaring jets of carbon dioxide gas are throwing sand and dust a couple hundred feet into the air." The ground below would be rumbling. You'd feel it in your spaceboots.

Read the rest of Robert Krulwich's post — and check out some spectacular photos of the things — at NPR

RiffTrax is bringing Birdemic: Shock and Terror to theaters for festive October soul-hurt (and jokes)!

There are colossally bad movies, and then there is Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Written, directed, and produced (all badly) by James Nguyen, this movie is one of the more delightful disasters you'll come across in your lifetime. It follows the sweeping, environmental romance between two people who are barely trying to act at all, and then eventually, there are some exploding birds. So, what could possibly make someone volunteer to watch this? Answer: Hilarious live commentary straight from the minds of RiffTrax -- Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Michael J. Nelson! RiffTrax Live: Birdemic will come to a theater near you on October 25, and the whole crew was kind enough to answer some questions, including why they have decided to impose this thing upon us all.

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Start saving now!

It would cost $384 million to launch my 1500-square-foot house into space. Theoretically. Based on estimated weight of the house. But the point is, there's an app that can show you how much it would cost to launch your house into space. What you do with it once it's up there remains anybody's guess. Maggie