In our latest interview, British author Simon Reynolds (“Retromania”) bemoans our culture's fixation on all things vintage and retro, particularly when it comes to music. Here's a snip:
"I wonder why we’re so obsessed with the past, particularly in music, because that’s my thing. A lot of the other retro phenomena I find vaguely amusing, but the music is a genuine worry because I like to be surprised. The first instinct for a new band starting out now—and I’m talking about very musical, intelligent people—is to go to an existing template and then tinker with it. They have fun trying to reproduce it as exact as they can or adapt it to their purpose in some way. But there are not so many musicians trying to come up with something out of nowhere, which is quite hard to do.
"In the past, though, people have tried to do that. That was the general modernist ethos for a long period in music, particularly in the ’60s, but also in the post-punk era I grew up in, and in the electronic techno scene of the ’90s. You might use an idea from the past, but you'd probably mutilate it in some way or drastically change it. Or you’d use it as a springboard to go somewhere new. Now the ethos is much more like reproducing antiques. It’s about getting that drum sound or that guitar texture. It’s literally a backward movement. My concern is a sense of everything being seemingly vaguely familiar. It’s a bit depressing."
Doktor A's beautiful immortality helmet was produced on commission and looks like a spectacular way to extend your lifespan:
1. Remove strap and leads from the storage drawer.
2. Place electrodes against forehead and tighten strap.
3. Attach bulldog clips to terminals in the jaw.
4. Set over-ride timer to desired duration.
5. Crank the main handle to build electrical charge.
6. Close the main switch to engage the electrical flow.
7. Increase the electrical voltage using dial.
8. Wait until your Asphyx manifests within the tube.
9. Shut off charge to electrodes using the main switch.
10. Transfer the Asphyx to a long term containment device.
11. Congratulations you have gained immortality.
On DeviantArt, Mayekoposted an indispensable and profane guide to digital inking called "Lie, cheat, steal your way to better art." The tl;dr is: work at very high rez (then shrink), and use texture brushes set to 100%. But the commentary is hilarious and convincing -- go read it.
Yesterday Cory wrote that "Geoffrey McGann, a southern California artist, was arrested at Oakland airport for wearing an assemblage sculpture/watch he'd made."
[UPDATE: I think this is the watch McGann was arrested for, not the one at the top. I'll bet McGann made them both, though.]
I thought you might like to know the San Jose Mercury news has posted photos of Mr. McGann's watch.
Mr. McGann's attorney says his client has traveled with the watch before and has never previously been arrested. In fact, Horngrad said the first time McGann traveled with the watch, he showed it to a TSA supervisor at Los Angeles International Airport and the supervisor told him it was OK to wear it on the plane.
All the charges have been dropped.
Privacy International's 16-minute mini-documentary from DEFCON about privacy is a great, compact answer to the question, "Why does privacy matter?"
Privacy International asked lawyers, activists, researchers and hackers at Defcon 2012 about some of the debates that thrive at the intersection between law, technology and privacy. We also wanted to know why privacy matters to them, and what they thought the future of privacy looked like. This video is a result of those conversations.
Featuring Cory Doctorow, Kade Crockford, Jameel Jaffer, Dan Kaminsky, Chris Soghoian, Marcia Hoffman, Moxie Marlinspike, Phil Zimmerman, Hanni Fakhoury and Eli O.
BB pal Greg Long spotted this magnificent graffiti near the GAMA-GO world headquarters in San Francisco's SOMA.
If you know the artist, please help me credit him/her! Commenters say it's the work of Goser! Thanks!
Accusations are flying that 27 animals died of mistreatment on the set of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, causing PETA to get up in arms and protest the movie. PETA will protest just about anything, but is there some truth to this story? Jackson and his fellow producers have responded (through an official representative), saying that the 150 animals at the New Zealand location were treated well, and that the vast percentage of deaths that did occur were due to natural causes. But were there any deaths that could have been prevented? Or is this a case of disgruntled former wranglers? Jackson's rep says the animals were overseen by the American Humane Association after two "avoidable" incidents (including a horse found dead after falling over a bluff), and hundreds of thousands of dollars went into improving the animals' living conditions. Here is the full statement, via The Hollywood Reporter:
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Robert sez, "Glorantha is one of the oldest role-playing worlds in the history of the genre. Unfortunately, due to many reasons, the world never really found traction after D&D conquered RPGs back in the early 1980s. Now, thanks to Rick Meints of Moon Design Publications, they are finally beginning to get some traction again. Now the company has a Kickstarter raising funds for a complete guide to Glorantha (which has been needed for decades)."
The Kickstarter's already met its minimum, but there's lots of cool stuff in the stretch goals.
Yes, it's $72. But this 3-D printed metal sculpture/bottle opener is fantastic. And so is its marketing copy.
The problem of beer That it is within a 'bottle', i.e. a boundaryless compact 2-manifold homeomorphic to the sphere. Since beer bottles are not (usually) pathological or "wild" spheres, but smooth manifolds, they separate 3-space into two non-communicating regions: inside, containing beer, and outside, containing you. This state must not remain.
Read the rest of the product description and, you know, maybe buy the bottle opener, too. If you're feeling spendy.
Via Cliff Pickover
Underwater, Antarctica's Weddell seals are fast-moving, graceful predators, catching and eating as much as 100 pounds of food per day. They dine on squids and fish and have been known to enjoy the occasional penguin or two.
On land, they are hilariously ineffectual blobs of jelly.
You can see that dichotomy in action in this great (and long) video made by Henry Kaiser in Antarctica. Following the adventures of a baby seal on the ice and under the water, the video is peaceful, meditative and reminds me a bit of the sort of old-school Sesame Street video that would build simple, kid-friendly narratives out of nature footage and music. (The music, by the way, was written and performed by Henry Kaiser, as well.)
Despite their poor performance in land-based locomotion, Weddell seals actually live on the ice, descending into the water to hunt and mate and swim around. They use natural holes in the ice to get from above to below and back, but they also work to maintain those holes and often use their teeth to chew at the edge of the ice and make a small hole larger. At about 13 minutes into the video, you can watch a seal doing just that — rubbing its head back and forth to enlarge an opening in the ice.
And why hang out on the ice, to begin with? Simple. In the water, seals are, themselves, potential dinners for larger creatures. On land, they have no natural predators at all and can safely bask in the sun, lying on their cute and chubby bellies for so long that their body heat hollows out divots in the ice.
Man, do I love this season of The Walking Dead. Stuff happens in every episode! And this week's episode, "Hounded," brought us closer to the reunion of Merle and the survivors who ditched him -- plus his brother, Daryl, who shares some personal stuff with an incredibly jaded Carl. But wow, what a cornucopia of events and things! Between Rick's deteriorating mental state, Andrea's horrible taste in men, and Michonne's crafting skills, it's looking like our mid-season finale on December 2 will be one for the ages. As far as mid-season finales go, anyway.
As usual, after the jump will be a plethora of plot spoilers.
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Dee sez, "Keneth Cerws' published studies take copyfight to libraries and museums where restrictive - often absurd - copyright claims and licensing terms are forced on those requesting images of art works and scans of books and documents where the original work long ago entered the public domain, often decades or centuries ago. This raises relevent questions about fair use, academic and research use and how we treat copyright for new images and renderings, often digital images, of old works that many consider vital pieces our common human history, heritage and cultural commons."
Museums face steady demand for images of artworks from their collections, and they typically provide a service of making and delivering high-resolution images of art. The images are often intellectually essential for scholarly study and teaching, and they are sometimes economically valuable for production of the coffee mugs and note cards sold in museum shops and elsewhere. Though the law is unclear regarding copyright protection afforded to such images, many museum policies and licenses encumber the use of art images with contractual terms and license restrictions often aimed at raising revenue or protecting the integrity of the art. This article explores the extent to which museums have strained the limits of copyright claims and indeed have restructured concepts of ownership and control in ways that curtail the availability and use of art images far beyond anything that may be grounded in the law. This article examines the relevant copyright law applicable to the making and use of reproductions of art images, and it identifies the challenging pressures that museums face as they strive to make policies in the context of law but that also serve the multiple competing interests coming to bear on officials and decision makers inside museums. The article analyzes selected policies from major museums and provides an original construct of forms of “overreaching” that often appear in written standards offered by museums for the use of images. The analysis of policies also demonstrates that museums have choices in the shaping of institutional policies, and that breaking away from familiar policy terms can sometimes better serve institutional and public interests.
Copyright, Museums, and Licensing of Art Images (Thanks, Dee!)
Zigong Dinosaurs World Science & Technology Co.,Ltd. makes, as you can probably guess from the name, animatronic dinosaurs. Which, for some reason, they attempt to sell via spam email marketing. We at BoingBoing have gotten spam like this before, from other manufacturers in the surprisingly robust Chinese animatronic dinosaur industry. What made this particular email stand out to me, though, was the above picture, of an animatronic Glyptodont covered in fur.
Now, I'd seen Glyptodonts before, but the reconstructions that I remember came across more as giant armadillos, as opposed to the huge beaver with a shell on its back that you see here. So I contacted Brian Switek, my favorite dinosaur blogger, to ask him which image of the Glyptodont is the correct one.
His response: They both are.
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David told me about Joshua Davis' profile of software millionaire John McAfee, who lives in Belize and is wanted for questioning in a murder there. I paid $0.99 for the article on Amazon and it was $0.99 well spent.
There was always something unusual about John McAfee. The tech entrepreneur made a fortune from the antivirus software that bears his name, but he also spent years as a cocaine addict, spiritual guru and yoga expert. In 2009, after losing millions in the stock market crash, he decided to retire to the tiny Central American nation of Belize. That's when things really got weird. He started hanging out with killers, prostitutes, and pimps. He fell in love with a 17-year-old and surrounded his tropical compound with armed guards. In November 2012 his neighbor was found murdered. McAfee, who professed his innocence, fled the police and went into hiding.
WIRED's Joshua Davis had months of exclusive access to McAfee before his disappearance and was virtually the only journalist McAfee had contact with when he went on the lam. In this fascinating profile, Davis takes readers into McAfee's heart of darkness, a harrowing and jaw-dropping tale of ambition, paranoia, sex, and madness.
McAfee's blog is good reading, too:
After two days we returned to the house, in disguise, and I began my watch.
The first day I colored my full beard and my hair light grey- almost white. I darkened the skin of my face, neck and hands carefully with shoe polish and put on an LA Saints baseball cap with the brim facing backwards and tufts of the front of my hair sticking out unkempt through the band. I stuffed my cheeks with chewed bubble gum stuck to the outside of my upper and lower molars – making my face appear much fatter. I darkened and browned my front teeth. I stuffed a shaved down tampon deep into my right nostril and died the tip dark brown – giving my nose an awkward, lopsided, disgusting appearance. I put on a pair of ragged brown pants with holes patched and darned. I wore an old, ragged long sleeve shirt. I donned an old Guatemalan style sarape and toted a bag containing a variety of Guatemalan woven goods. I adjusted my posture so that I appeared a good six inches shorter than my actual height and slowly walked up and down the beach with a pronounced limp, pushing an old single speed bicycle and peddling my wares to tourists and reporters using a broken English with a heavy Spanish accent. On my second day, while peddling small wooden carvings, I nearly sold a dolphin carving to an Associated Press reporter standing at the edge of my dock. He was pulled away from my enticement by an urgent phone call.
Evan Roth, of Graffiti Research Lab (whose work we've featured many times in the past) has created a 500-piece limited-edition deck of cards based on the Solitaire game that came with Windows 98. They were manufactured by the US Playing Card Company (makers of Bicycle cards), and are for sale at $20 a deck.
Wired's James Verini, on just how real Japan's real-life Rei Toei is:
Miku was “born,” as Itoh puts it, on August 31, 2007, with the launch of her software. The program would soon become popular, but from the start Miku attracted her own fans, and they began riffing. Crypton set up a site where they could post their creations, and by that first afternoon, according to Itoh, illustrations of her had appeared. Thousands followed. Fan sites proliferated. Creation myths were assembled.
One evening, a confused local in south Wales called 999 to report a “bright, stationary” UFO that had been hovering “in the air” for “at least half an hour”. The police arrived to investigate. The transcript of the ensuing Control Room conversation reads:"The List: Strange encounters"
Control: “Alpha Zulu 20, this object in the sky, did anyone have a look at it?”
Officer: “Yes. It’s the moon. Over.”
Pete Namlook, founder of the pioneering ambient label FAX +49-69/450464 died last week. Since launching FAX in 1992, Namlook released 135 albums including his own collaborations with Bill Laswell, Richie Hawtin, Klaus Schulze, and many other artists. His massive influence on electronic music over the last two decades will not be forgotten. Above is "Heaven" from the 1993 album "Silence II" with Dr Atmo. And here is a documentary on Namlook, titled Slice (part 1 and part 2).
Samuel sez, "ACMEScience.com is the home of many math and science podcasts, including the mathematical story series Relatively Prime. It has been run for the past four years in the spare time between jobs, and with cheap or second-hand equipment. Now ACMEScience wants to change its lot and turn itself into a full-time operation for the next year, and it plans to do this through its new Kickstarter project. If the project is funded it would mean new episodes of Relatively Prime, as well as at least one episode a week of the interview shows ACMEScience News Now and Strongly Connected Components."
I'm a great fan of Relatively Prime -- they're the ones who did the great piece on Chinook, the champion checkers-playing computer.