Boing Boing 

Homeland interviews

A pair of nice interviews about my new novel Homeland hit the Web today: this fun chat with Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda on the Washington Post, and this one with David Klein at Las Vegas City Life:

It’s about conveying your enthusiasm. My readers like that enthusiastic voice. The dirty secret about geeking out is that it becomes a meditation. What starts as a frivolous “whatever” and people go, “whatever, look at that guy with too much time on his hands” becomes a meditation. Thinking about anything and doing it well becomes meditative.

Science fiction and women's history month

Nina sez, "This video features celebrated science fiction authors speaking about the role of women in their writing. The video was created as part of a celebration for Women's History Month this March."

Women Writers on Science Fiction and Fantasy

White House weighs in on right to unlock your phone

Eric sez, "The Library of Congress recently withdrew the cell phone unlocking exception to the DMCA. In response, a 'We the People' petition was created to ask the White House to weigh in and push to overturn the LoC's decision. Less than two weeks after the petition period closed, White House advisor R. David Edelman has now issued an official response pledging support for the freedom to unlock not only mobile phones, but also tablets. White House advisor R. David Edelman has now issued an official response pledging support for the freedom to unlock not only mobile phones, but also tablets."

Copyright trolls facing legal sanctions for in-court fraud file defamation suits against identity theft victim and online critics

Prenda Law is the notorious, scandal-haunted copyright trolling lawfirm that represents various pornography producers, sending extortionate letters to people allegedly detected illegally downloading videos, demanding money to go away -- the alternative being to have your name linked with embarrassing pornography titles in a public record forever.

Prenda made headlines lately for claiming that it was working for a man called Alan Cooper, allegedly the CEO of offshore companies that had hired Prenda to send legal threats on their behalf. Only one problem: Cooper says he has nothing to do with the companies or Prenda. When they were caught in this bit of alleged in-court identity theft, Prenda's lawyers complained that their judge was being mean to them and tried to get him taken off their case. When this gambit failed, they tried several others -- everything, in fact, except for admitting what seems obvious on its face: they'd misrepresented the facts to the court and stolen Cooper's identity.

In my opinion, Prenda is a shitshow from stem to stern. From absurd claims like the existence of an adolescent male in a household is proof that illegal porn downloading must be taking place to weird legal theories about BitTorrent users being in conspiracy with one another despite never having met, communicated, and not being aware of one another, every one of Prenda's actions smacks of utter desperation.

But Prenda's desperation has reached new depths with its latest gambit: filing three defamation lawsuits each against people who called them out for their bad behavior, including Alan Cooper (the man whose identity was allegedly stolen in Prenda's court filings) and his lawyer; and, apparently online news sites like Fight Copyright Trolls (who've tirelessly chronicled Prenda's misdeeds), and message-board commenters who expressed shock at the bad behavior on exhibit in Prenda's deeds.

This desperate move comes mere days before a California hearing on sanctions for Prenda's counsel. Hilariously, in para 104, the lawyers for Prenda (who have given numerous grandstanding interviews to the national and global press) claim that they are not public figures. They also characterize countless instances of obvious opinion and hyperbole as libelous. And they are clearly fuzzy on the liability for libel on message boards, and the limitations thereof, as set out in the Communications Decency Act.

This feels to me like a last attempt to punish Prenda's victims for daring to refuse to be victimized, a final shot before the inevitable court sanctions, bankruptcy, and potential jail time. It's the kind of wickedness that makes it hard to believe in humanity's essential morality. My goodness, it will be delightful to roast marshmallows over Prenda's funeral pyre when that glorious day comes.

Copyright trolls Prenda Law, Paul Duffy, and John Steele commence three lawsuits v. Paul Godfread, Alan Cooper and our community (Thanks, That Anonymous Coward!)

Dinotopia artist James Gurney on exhibit at New Hampshire Institute of Art

James Gurney's paintings, drawings, and incredible hand-made models from his Dinotopia books series are on exhibit this month at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

From the soothing, restorative environment of Waterfall City to the hidden wonders of Chandara, acclaimed author and illustrator James Gurney’s magical Dinotopian world comes to life in this enchanting exhibition that features 22 original paintings from the best-selling illustrated books Dinotopia: A Land Apart From Time (1992), Dinotopia: The World Beneath (1995), and Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara (2007), and presents fascinating examples of the illustrator’s creative process, including reference materials, and a handmade scale-model.

Inspired by archaeology, lost civilizations, and the art of illustration, Gurney’s Dinotopia, an extraordinary place where humans and dinosaurs live in harmony, fuses fantasy with realism and scientific accuracy. “The thing I love about dinosaurs is that they are on that balance point between fantasy and reality,” says Gurney. “It might be hard to believe that mermaids and dragons really existed, but we know that dinosaurs did―we can see their footprints and skeletons but we can’t photograph them or see them, except in our imagination.”

Dinotopia: The Fantastical Art of James Gurney

Kickstarter for a cocktail-dispensing robot

Robert Kaye sez, "Among the many standout cocktail-pouring robots on display this weekend at BarBot in San Francisco was Bartendro, the latest creation by Robert Kaye and Pierre Michael of Party Robotics. (They're also the creators of the Water to Wine watercooler gag featured recently on Make.) If you've ever wanted an open source robot to help you refine your recipe for the perfect margarita, or needed an extra hand serving drinks at a party, they've now launched a Kickstarter for the first production run of Bartendro. The duo also released the source code and hardware designs to their creation on Github for hackers to improve upon the design or create something new. As a Kickstarter backer, you can get a finished bot in a variety of sizes, or just the parts to try your hand at a different enclosure, or make your own custom dispenser for reef tank chemicals, epoxy, pancake batter, or almost any liquid."

Bartendro - A Cocktail Dispensing Robot (Thanks, Robert!)

YouTube's Harlem Shake easter egg

Harlem Shake is a bit February 2013 and all, but here's one more snippet: a great YouTube easter-egg. Wait for it. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Armory Arts Week Edition Featured Artist: Amy Crehore

Our friend Amy Crehore is ArtSlant's Armory Arts Week Edition Featured Artist! She says:
Armory Week is important to me because it is the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Armory Show in NYC. That particular show opened American eyes to a "Modern Art" movement that was happening in Europe at the time. Organized by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors, it also travelled to Chicago and Boston. ArtSlant did a special feature on me to help me celebrate and I could not be more thrilled. Check it out!

ArtSlant: Amy Crehore

Pixel Monster Generator

Pixelated Cowboy says: "I’ve put together a simple random monster generator! Two actually. A single colour version here and a three colour mix version here. I thought it could be fun for people to try draw what they ended up with! If you do you should tag it with pixelatedcowboy so I can see :O"

(Via Brian Upton at G+BB)

Makerspace at SXSW

Aaron sez, "SXSW Create is a free and open to the public event during SXSW Interactive that will showcase local and national hackers, makers, and creators. It is a hands-on, interactive, and exciting event intended to showcase creativity and innovation that will inspire and encourage others to create themselves. It is located at 101 Red River, directly behind the Austin Convention Center."

CopyrightX: a massively open online course on copyright from Harvard's Terry Fisher

Update: Kendra from Harvard sez, The online course called CopyrightX is a version of the HLS Copyright course taught on edX by Prof. Fisher. It's facilitated by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the efforts of a number of HLS students. The materials are free and accessible at Prof. Fisher's website: The site linked in the current post is a student created website - not an official part of the course.

Kevin sez, "Lots of folks know about Stack Exchange, progenitor of, right? Well, two weeks after Aaron Swartz died, Harvard Law School published on the web all resources for their copyright course. Named CopyrightX, the course is taught by Professor Terry Fisher of The Berkman Center for Internet and Society. This move is sure to have global consequences, for it gives a scholarly confirmation of Kirby Ferguson's thesis in 'Everything is a Remix' that the common good as a meme was overwhelmed by intellectual property. Harvard's CopyrightX repeatedly shows that the original goal of copyright was indeed to improve the lives of everyone by encouraging creativity and 'producing a shared pool of knowledge, open to all.' Now Stack Exchange hosts a community proposal to help amplify the ripples of CopyrightX in the global pond for as long a duration as possible. Come follow the community, post 5 Example Questions, and up-vote your favorites. Surely there can be no broader interest group for a SE community than those of us affected by copyright."

CopyrightX (Thanks, Kevin!)

Same couple pose as 9 different fashion-followers

Nacho Rojo is is photographer in Madrid, Spain. In this series, Rojo photographed the same two models posing as nine different fashion-following couples.

(Via 22 words)

Comic books' real-life supervillain: psychiatrist Fredric Wertham

In the New York Times article about my research on psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, novelist Michael Chabon referred to the doctor as Ahab, obsessed with the white whale of comics. Well, if Wertham was Ahab, call me Ishmael.

(Images: Seduction of the Innocent website)

For anyone studying comics, Wertham is a difficult figure to avoid. A New York City-based forensic psychiatrist and pioneering mental health advocate, Wertham also was a prolific cultural critic, who decried the potential effects on readers and viewers of violent images and racial stereotypes in the mass media. Between 1948 and 1955, this German-born doctor was also among the most vocal opponents of the nascent comics industry. He was certainly not alone: teachers, librarians, parents, police officers, religious leaders, and other adults lent their voices to the anti-comics movement. But Wertham was different from many of the others in that he had a scientific / medical background and could enrich his arguments with examples from case studies of children.

In his book Seduction of the Innocent published to coincide with the 1954 Senate hearings on comics and juvenile delinquency, Wertham's thesis - stripped of all its rhetorical flourishes - was simple: crime comics corrupt children. Although he was against outright censorship, Wertham advocated that the government restrict the ability of younger readers to purchase crime comics. His definition of crime comics extended beyond the lurid and racy titles such as Crimes by Women and Crime SuspenStories to include more pedestrian fare like Superman and Classics Illustrated. If, in its pages, cartoon animals bopped each other on their heads or a woman shoplifted a necklace or a cowboy bled from a fight then that comic was a crime comic. Almost none of the more than 600 comic books regularly published in the US then could be excluded from Wertham's condemnation.

Read the rest

Top Gear for gadgets

In two weeks, Gizmodo and Boing Boing Gadgets alumnus Joel Johnson is going to be on the telly with a new gadget show.

But there's one area of media that gadgets haven't yet conquered from the inside out: mainstream television. And that's why I'm tickled to finally be able to share with you the culmination of over two years of work between the team at Gizmodo and BBC America: the debut of our first hour-long television special, "Gizmodo: The Gadget Testers," on Monday, March 18th, 2013 at 10:20PM ET.

He'll be joined by Veronica Belmont, Greg Foot and O.J. Borg, with Joe Brown and Nerdist's Chris Hardwick reviewing the toys: "I certainly wouldn't have thought we'd get this chance when I was a fat, smart-ass little blogger sitting in my apartment a decade ago stuffing my face with cheap Chinese food."

TED2013: Amanda Palmer on "The art of asking"

Amanda Palmer's talk about "the art of asking" was one of Carla's favorites at TED2013. The video is now up and has been watched 750,000 times since it was posted a couple of days ago.

Amanda Palmer commands attention. The singer-songwriter-blogger-provocateur, known for pushing boundaries in both her art and her lifestyle, made international headlines this year when she raised nearly $1.2 million via Kickstarter (she’d asked for $100k) from nearly 25,000 fans who pre-ordered her new album, Theatre Is Evil.

But the former street performer, then Dresden Dolls frontwoman, now solo artist hit a bump the week her world tour kicked off. She revealed plans to crowdsource additional local backup musicians in each tour stop, offering to pay them in hugs, merchandise and beer per her custom. Bitter and angry criticism ensued (she eventually promised to pay her local collaborators in cash). And it's interesting to consider why. As Laurie Coots suggests: "The idea was heckled because we didn't understand the value exchange -- the whole idea of asking the crowd for what you need when you need it and not asking for more or less." Summing up her business model, in which she views her recorded music as the digital equivalent of street performing, she says: “I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. In order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.”

TED2013 -- Amanda Palmer: The art of asking

See all TED2013 coverage

Vintage boombox with vertical turntable

Many of you were intrigued by the $50 Ion IT34 portable USB turntable/cassette deck that I posted about a couple weeks ago. If you don't care about USB and have $700 or so to spend on your mobile vinyl needs, might I suggest you seek out the legendary Sharp VZ-2000 boombox from 1982. It features a linear tracking vertical turntable that plays both sides of a record without having to flip it.

Calculus-performing mechanical calculator

A clip from the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs program on tanneries demonstrates the workings of a calculus-performing mechanical calculator that measures the surface-area of irregularly shaped hides with a fascinating and clever set of gears, calipers and ratchets.

Dirty Jobs - Tannery Mechanical Surface Integrator (Thanks, Dad!)

Fraternity scavenger hunt

Found next to a xerox machine: a cruel scavenger hunt score list. Includes "Stealing a homeless man's shoe: 10 pts," and "Video of pledges piggy-back racing on fat girls: 10 pts."

Stunning snake portraits


NewImageIn 2011, photographer Mark Laita created Sea, a book of stunning portraits of strange ocean creatures. Now comes Serpentine, in which Laita points his lens at a stunning series of snakes. Above, Rowley’s Palm Pit Viper (Bothriechis rowleyi).

Serpentine by Mark Laita (Amazon)

"Snakes in a Frame: Mark Laita’s Stunning Photographs of Slithering Beasts" (Smithsonian)

Documentary on preserving transient and "new media" installation art

"Notion Motion" is Olafur Elisasson's gorgeous 2005 art installation based on the interaction of water, light, and the viewer of the work. It's an amazing work, but how do you install something like this in a new location? How can the work be preserved over the longterm? The documentary above, "Installation Art: Who Cares?" explores this challenge from the perspective of museums and art conservators.

How to preserve and reinstall the work Notion Motion by Olafur Eliasson: 1.500 m2 of water, light and movement? What about works that are based on outdated technology? A large group of experts worked on the restoration of Exchange Fields, an interactive video-installation by Bill Seaman. Despite the fact that the work is only ten years old, it had to be completely restored and digitalized. And the artist Tino Sehgal doesn't allow any form of documentation of his works. Tate London acquired his performance This Is Propaganda in 2005. Will Tate be able to keep on showing this work to the public?
"Installation Art: Who Cares?" (Thanks, Brenda Tucker!)

Star Trek-themed online art sale

TrekartttQ Pop is holding an online Star Trek art sale with more than 100 piece most of which are less than $100! Above, Doug Gauthier's "Mugato" plushie ($100) and Peter Paul's "Uhura" watercolor ($50). "Beam Me Up: Star Trek Art Show"

Alone together in Antarctica

Last week, "Inspiration Mars" announced its search for a male and female couple to do a Mars flyby mission, requiring the pair to spend 501 days alone together. Sailors/adventurers Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke have some experience doing just that, at least terrestrially. More than twenty years ago, Shapiro and Bielke had 9 months of alone time on the Antarctic Peninsula. By choice. Shapiro wrote about their experience in a book called Time On Ice. Over at BBC News, Shapiro answers the question: "Why didn't you two kill each other?"
NewImageOne has to be able to give the other person mental elbow room. During our winter, when a person settled into the sofa in the salon with a book and started reading, he or she was not interrupted.

Keeping quiet when the person is close enough to practically read one's thoughts, is a matter of self-discipline, fuelled by caring.

The only exception to our silence rule was for boat-related safety issues. The boat, for obvious reasons of survival, always came first.

"How to get along for 500 days alone together"

Man solves Rubik's Cube while juggling

Ravi Fernando solves a Rubik's Cube while juggling.

Slinkachu's "War Child" photos

Play Fighting 1

More "tiny people" installation photos by Slinkachu, whose work is compiled in several books including the recent Global Model Village. The pieces featured above and below were commissions for "20 Years of War Child," an exhibition at the British Music Experience museum running until March 28.

Read the rest

Top hat with a zoetrope inside

For a mere $500 (which is truly a bargain here), Etsy seller Ramonpiper will make you a custom top-hat with a zoetrope inside it, whose moving images can be viewed through a porthole in its high cylinder.

This is a leather top hat with an illuminated motorized praxinoscope. The praxinoscope was the next generation in moving picture technology after the zoetrope. It features six mirrored surfaces reflecting six images on a revolving cylinder that appear to move when the cylinder is set in motion. The switch in the bottom of the hat powers a battery operated motor that turns the cylinder and illumines two bulbs. There is a lens that magnifies the mirrors. The lens has a velvet-lined lens cover that swings from a brass boss and is affixed with studs at the front and rear. The hat is light enough to be worn at length and it will continue to operate while moving, walking, or doffing it to ladies.

Steampunk Victorian Leather Top Hat with Zoetrope Praxinoscope Movie Player (via Neatorama)


Etsy seller Oonacat makes custom fetish boots with hooves -- demon hooves, unicorn hooves -- that go for $900 a pair. Great for playing naughty podiatrist and agonized fetishist. There are also horns.

These are my newest creations, and I adore these little monsters. These Hooves are created with durability, quality, and artistic kickass beauty in their design. High attention to detail is what I love most about my Hooves, be it in the intensive process and creation, to the construction process, to the high quality of the materials I use, to the professional construction of the Hooves themselves, to the hoof tracks you will leave for those to follow... And follow they will...

Oonacat ~ Heelless Hooves and Horns (via Geeks Are Sexy)

Cops abduct 6-y-o for going to the store on her own, initially refuse to return to her dad

Emily is six, and her dad wants her to be independent. The local law, not so much. When he let her cross the street on her own, a cop picked her up and detained her and her dad for half an hour, before admitting that it wasn't illegal to let a six year old cross the street. But things really kicked off when dad let Emily go to the store, a few blocks away. The cops detained her, and when her dad went to pick her up, the law wouldn't let him, calling Child Protective Services instead and only relenting when CPS told them they were too busy to intervene -- though they did follow up with a threatening letter to Emily's dad.

Once I got to the police station they would not release her to me for over 20 minutes, though she was sitting behind bullet-proof glass just 20 feet away. When the police finally came to talk to me, I was told that they had responded to a call of a young child being unsupervised. They refused to identify a reasonable cause for her detention, or even what law had been broken. They insisted that they were waiting for CPS to respond before they would let me see my daughter, but then they later came back and said that they were releasing me to her because CPS had told them to give her to me, since I was waiting for her. .

I received a letter from CPS today.

Emily knows her name, address, phone number, etc. Furthermore, the responding officer knows exactly who both Emily and I are since she responded to a complaint regarding Emily crossing the street by herself just a few days prior, during which we were detained for more than half an hour. After this previous incident her supervisor had confirmed that there was no law against a child crossing the street by themselves.

Cops Detain 6-year-old for Walking Around Neighborhood (And It Gets Worse)

Naked rambler charged over nudity

Stephen Gough, England's "Naked Rambler", is back in jail after failing to abide by a court order to "at least cover his genitalia and buttocks." Gough, famous for walking the length of Britain naked, spent six years in prison on earlier charges stemming from public nudity; authorities in the UK have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds prosecuting him. [AP]

Convict "sneaks back into jail"

Matthew Matagrano, 36, a former inmate, was charged saturday with impersonating a New York Department of Correction investigator. The convicted sex offender inveigled his way into Manhattan Detention Center and other lockups, according to officials, and handed out cigarettes. He also allegedly stole a radio. [Indy]

Biblical toilet rolls roil Scandinavia

A toilet paper maker has apologized for Biblical quotes, including the words of Jesus, which it "inadvertently" included on novelty wipes marketed in Scandinavia. "Bible verses do not belong on a roll of toilet paper," said Bishop of Tunsberg Laila Riksaasen Dahl. [Globe and Mail]