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Andrea Seabrook's DecodeDC

Andrea Seabrook had a brilliant career at National Public Radio (NPR), and spent the last several years covering Congress in Washington, D.C. If you listen to NPR, you know her voice, and likely perked up when the anchors threw it over to her to give insight into the latest federal nonsense. Seabrook recently walked away from that rare thing, a stable job in public radio doing precisely what she loves, to start a podcast called DecodeDC hosted by the new Mule Radio Syndicate. She has three episodes of truthtelling in the can so far.

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To do in DC: "40 under 40: Craft Futures" at the Smithsonian

Now through February at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, an exhibition of under-40 American craftspeople. Among them, Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. Her work "La Llorona" is shown here, and is featured in the "40 under 40: Craft Futures" show.

Robin Cooper gives Obama advice on winning the debate

Robin Cooper tells Boing Boing, "I called the White House with advice to Obama on how to win the next Debate." Xeni

Hey, so is that new heat-sensing bra concept the best way to find breast cancer?

Nope. Xeni

New Zealand record industry flubs its first three-strikes prosecution

The first of eight prosecutions brought under New Zealand's three-strikes copyright law (passed as a rider to the emergency legislation freeing up money to provide relief for the Christchurch earthquake) has fallen apart.

The RIANZ (Record Industry Association of NZ) withdrew its case against a student in shared accommodation without saying why.

However, as Torrentfreak reports, NZ activists at Tech Liberty point out that the notices sent to the student, and the damages claimed, were all badly bungled and unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny.

The recording group asked for just over NZ $370 (US $303) to cover the costs of the notices and copyright tribunal hearing, plus NZ $1,250 (US $1,024) as a deterrent. However, eyebrows were certainly raised when it came to their claim for the music involved in the case.

The infringements were alleged to have taken place on five tracks with the cost of each measured against their value in the iTunes store, a total of NZ $11.95 (US $9.79). This sounds reasonable enough, but RIANZ were actually claiming for $1075.50 (US $880.96).

“RIANZ decided, based on some self-serving research, that each track had probably been downloaded 90 times and therefore the cost should be multiplied by 90,” says Tech Liberty co-founder Thomas Beagle. “There is no basis in the Copyright Act or Tribunal regulations for this claim.”

I don't think we can count on this kind of cack-handedness in the future. The RIANZ will perfect its procedures soon enough, and we'll start seeing punitive fines and even disconnection based on mere accusation of living in a house where the router is implicated in an unproven allegation of copyright infringement.

Music Biz Dumps First Contested Copyright Case After Botched 3 Strikes Procedure

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Music Appreciation: Drone

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For many people, a drone wouldn't even be called music, just an irritating noise, like the buzzing of a refrigerator, the hum of traffic, the sound of bees in a hive. For others, it is OMMMM, the sound of the universe in Hindu cosmology, or, put in the language of modern physics, an expression of the fact that everything vibrates, everything is a wave. Yet a recent packaged-for-mainstream double CD compilation called Roots of Drone confirmed what I already suspected: that in the last decade or two, drone has become a musical genre. This may seem odd since after all, a drone is basically a tone, or set of tones that are sustained over time. And in a consumer marketplace driven by a craving for endless but often trivial kinds of novelty, making the same sound for a long time is a powerful gesture of refusal. Even so, there's now drone rock, drone metal, drone-based techno, drone within the classical tradition, drone-folk and so on. And now, the varieties of drone too are apparently inexhaustible. Here then is a sampling of drone's diversity...

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Girl dresses as a different person every school day

Stella Ehrhart is an eight-year-old girl in Omaha who dresses as a different historical, prominent or local figure every day, with few repeats; she's been at it since the start of second grade. Much of her inspiration is drawn from 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century, and she and her fellow students and teachers play a guessing game each day to figure out who she is. She has dressed as her principal, Elvis Costello, Jan Brady, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Old Turtle. Erin Grace reports in the Omaha World-Herald:

So they try to support her desire for self-expression. Teachers, in fact, embrace it and have used Stella's outfits du jour as teachable moments.

“We'd have to get on the computer and figure out who she was,” said her second-grade teacher, Shannon Roeder, who keeps a picture of an overtly costumed Stella (it was Halloween) hanging in her classroom. In the picture, Stella poses in front of Roeder's bumper-sticker-plastered Prius, its license plate reading “ENDWAR,” wearing a cardboard car cutout also plastered in bumper stickers, with the same vanity plate.

Stella's costumes prompt classroom discussion, some copycatting and further creativity. When she dressed as Rosa Parks, she and her classmates devised a play and designated different people as the bus driver and other bus passengers.

On Monday, she sat in her Joan Baez “costume,” which was a military-green fitted half-blazer over a patterned blouse with black slacks and cowboy boots. She looked like any other third-grader, head bent over some bellwork — math and grammar exercises that at times had her stumped.

Omaha schoolgirl dresses as a different historical figure each day (via Skepchick)

Iconic erotic film star Sylvia Kristel of ‘Emmanuelle’ dies of cancer at 60

Actress Sylvia Kristel died this week at 60 years of age. “She died during the night during her sleep,” her agent, Marieke Verharen, told the AFP news agency. The cause of her death was cancer. In recent years, she received treatment for throat and liver cancer, and suffered a stroke.

She is most famous for her role in the 1970s cult-erotic hit "Emmanuelle." Dangerous Minds has an obit, and the New York Times. Her memoir is a sad and illuminating read.

1950s Data storage ad

How Don Draper's firm might have saved client data. From OrangeCats' Flickr stream, referenced in "History of Modern Computing" (Ceruzzi).

Secret Garden, relax-em-up browser game

The Secret Garden (play) is a relaxing trip around a mysterious polygon-tastic pastoral landscape. The Garden's deligts include jumping around and Buddha-hurling. [via Free Indie Games]

Panama aims to adopt Euro

The Panamanian president announced that the country would like to introduce the Euro as legal tender, alongside the U.S. dollar. [Reuters] Rob

Improving the Tibetan dung-stove with wire coat-hangers


Liz To has designed a coat-hanger-based disassemblable stove for Tibetan nomads who cook indoors. It's a clever way of recycling one of the more pernicious waste products of western society (coat hangers) and relieving one of the worst health problems faced by Tibetan nomads (indoor pollution from dung fires). Apart from the rather unfortunate orthography (it's called "thab." -- all lower case, with a superfluous period), this is just great.

thab. is designed for Tibetan Nomads who live and cook inside tents. For cooking, they usually use the three stone cooking method however that causes health issues. They use yak dung as their cooking fuels.

They often boil water or soup therefore thab. must be strong, durable, efficient, safe and inexpensive.

Tibetan Nomads travel from one place to another every few months therefore thab. is designed to be disassembled so it can be portable.

thab. - designed by liz (Thanks, Avi!)

Time-Traveling Librarians from Outer Spa... from Texas

When I first heard of the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library, a new Houston-based bookmobile venture, I felt myself get a bit unstuck in time. For one thing, I usually see “traveling library” used to describe the library boxes that were shipped as part of early extension efforts that were especially popular in the 1890s. And the photos used to promote it so far, like this one of the first bookmobile in Texas, are decidedly and delightfully old school.

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Cory coming to Vancouver this weekend

Hey, Vancouver! I'm headed your way tomorrow for a pair of ticketed appearances at the Vancouver Writers Festival, the first with William Gibson at 2PM, then another at 5PM with Margaret Atwood and Pasha Malla. On Sunday at 6PM, Kidsbooks (one of the last great independent children's bookstores in the country) is hosting an event for me at the West Point Grey United Church. On Monday at 11AM I'll be at the Great Northern Way Campus Centre for Digital Media at 11AM, and then at Victoria's Bolen Books at 7PM. After that, I head to Seattle, Toronto, and Boston -- here's the whole schedule. Be there or be somewhere else, but if you can, be there! Cory