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Bruce Sterling's closing SXSW keynote: disruption and destruction

In Bruce Sterling's barn-burning closing keynote for SXSW 2013, he confronts the realities of disruption -- that disruption leads to destruction. Our wonderful things destroy other wonderful things. The future composts the past. We roast the 20th century over our bonfire, let's not shamefully pretend that we did it by accident. Let's eat our kill.

Important stuff.

Bruce Sterling closing remarks at SXSW2013

Steampunk DJ mask from Bob Basset


The wonderful folks at Bob Basset in Ukraine have a new piece up, the "Steampunk DJ Mask," of which I'm rather fond.

New Steampunk DJ Mask

The gel that stops bleeding instantly

This video is a bit gruesome, but it is demonstrating a remarkable substance that can stop bleeding almost instantaneously. Jack Millner of Humans Invent interviewed NYU student Joe Landolina, the creator of Veti-Gel.

"In all of our tests we found we were able to immediately stop bleeding,” says Landolina. “Your skin has this thing called the extracellular matrix,” he explains. “It’s kind of a mesh of molecules and sugars and protein that holds your cells in place.” Landolina synthesises his own extracellular matrix (ECM) using plant polymers, which can form a liquid when broken up into pieces. He says, “So it goes into the wound and the pieces of the synthetic ECM in the gel will recognise the pieces of the real ECM in the wound and they’ll link together. It will re-assemble into something that looks like, feels like and acts like skin."

The gel that stops bleeding instantly

Happy birthday, Lee "Scratch" Perry! (and 1985 interview video)

Happy birthday, Lee "Scratch" Perry! The dub pioneer is 77 today. Here is an interview with Perry from the 1985 documentary "Jools in Jamaica," hosted by non other than Squeeze founder and TV/radio presenter, Jools Holland.

LEGO Star Trek Into Darkness trailer

(Spoken in the voice of Don LaFontaine): You may have seen the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer, but have you seen it... in LEGO!? Directed by Antonio Toscano and Andrea Toscano.

Is it worth spending half your profits "fighting piracy"?

On TechDirt, Tim Cushing follows up on a WSJ story where filmmaker/indie distributor Kathy Wolfe says that half of her profits, about $30,000, are spent sending out DMCA takedown notices to fight piracy. Wolfe has an admirably successful and long-lived business, and Cushing tries to find out how Wolfe hit on the $30,000 figure as the optimal amount to spend fighting piracy, but it seems that Wolfe's spending of half her profits are based largely on faith, and unsupported by any data she is willing to share.

Removing links may generate a few sales, but certainly not enough to offset an effort of this magnitude. Some file sharers will never purchase anything, and if they can't pirate a Wolfe film, they'll simply find something else to download. Others will purchase something after an illicit "preview." Taking away the link they might have utilized simply sends them looking for other links... or other movies. Generally speaking, a failed search for a "free" movie rarely results in the sale of the same movie.

Wolfe Video is doing the right thing by diversifying its distribution across multiple services and, even better, by running its own in-house digital rental/download platform. These efforts will do more to increase sales (and profits) than $30,000 worth of takedown notices. It's hard not to view illegal downloads as "lost sales," but entertaining that notion results in deterrence efforts that far outweigh the benefits.

The fact is that removing illegal options won't generate sales. Removing a negative ("lost sale via illegal download") doesn't create a positive ("gained[?] sale"). It simply levels off at $0. Positive efforts will tilt that scale back towards the creators. Negative efforts max out at $0, at best.

As I stated in my email to Kathy Wolfe, I have no desire to paint her as someone who tilts at windmills to the tune of $30,000/year. She strongly feels this effort needs to be made in order to protect a business she's run for over 25 years. I can completely understand that. My concern is that this effort is over-funded and a long, hard look should be taken at any connection between the takedown effort and corresponding sales fluctuations.

Could the same be accomplished at half the price? How about $10,000 per year? Or $0? I think some experimentation is called for. Back all enforcement efforts off for a few months and watch for any signs of a sales decline. If the drop is precipitous, scale the efforts up and see if the numbers respond. But rather than intensify the efforts, slowly escalate until you find a balance between deterrence and sales that works out best financially.

This is the kind of empirical business question that the piracy debate needs answered, rather than ideological claims that all piracy is bad and anything you spend fighting it (or the world spends fighting it in the form of laws) is worthwhile.

Indie Film Distributor Spends Half Her Profits Sending DMCA Takedowns, But Is It Worth It?

James Herbert, esteemed British horror/SF author, RIP

Herbbbb Famed British horror/dystopian fiction author James Herbert has died at age 69. Herbert was the author of more than twenty scary, science fiction, and/or apocalyptic tales like the 1970s man-eating rodent classics The Rats and Lair, and also The Fog, about an insanity-inducing chemical weapon.

"James Herbert: Master of British horror fiction" (The Guardian)

James Herbert (Amazon)

The Owl is wise to the monumental mischief of the Terror Twins!

Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, wrote the script for The Owl #2 (1968). Be careful, Terror Twins -- the blades on your gyro-copters are too close!

(Via Suddenly)

3D printing and law/policy conference in DC

Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge sez, "We are bringing the 3D printing community back to Washington, DC for 3D/DC II. This time around, we are having a public reception in the Rayburn House Office Building on April 24th to give policymakers a chance to see 3D printing in person and talk to some of the people behind the machines. If you are in DC and are interested in 3D printing, this could be your chance to check it out." Michael wrote two amazing, definitive papers on 3D printing and the law.

Bike headlight displays speed

My friend Matt Richardson made a system for his bike that projects a spotlight with data onto the street. It's currently set up to display speed, but it can also be used to project other kinds of information (like turn-by-turn directions). He's going to write about it for MAKE so you can build one, too.

Mr. Green shows how he composed a song for Rime

Mr. Green had fun making a song for graffiti writer Rime at Art Basel.

Back at it for December, 2012′s Art Basel, Rime and The Seventh Letter teamed up with Klughaus Gallery and Live From The Streets to bring an out of the box experience to Miami. With rented UHaul trucks to be painted, mobile music performances, and a cache of alcohol, weed, and mushrooms on deck, Rime and crew were able to keep the party going through out the week. Long nights of painting, partying, disappearing people and vehicles, and outwitting cock blocking cops made for hard to forget adventure.

See the 10-minute video here

Ray Bradbury's fan letter to Robert A Heinlein


The Houston Press's 2011 coverage of Comicpalooza included this shot of a beautiful letter of appreciation from Ray Bradbury to Robert Heinlein, written in 1976.

DEAR BOB:

YOUR INFLUENCE ON US ALL, FROM 1939 ON, CANNOT BE MEASURED. I CAN ONLY SAY I REMEMBER, WARMLY, YOUR MANY KINDNESSES TO ME WHEN I WAS 19–20–21 YEARS OLD. THAT YOUNG MAN BASKED IN YOUR LIGHT AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE HELP YOU OFFERED WHEN I WAS SO POOR & NEEDFUL! YOURS IN THAT MEMORY — RAY BRADBURY

AUG – 1976

The wonderful thing for me is that when I was 19-20-21, I, too, found many writers who were graceful and helpful to me and my writing, from Judith Merril and Damon Knight to James Patrick Kelly and Nancy Kress. Science fiction has always been a place where debts are paid forward.

From Ray Bradbury to Robert Heinlein, 1976 (via MeFi)

Pop-up egg-on-a-stick cooking gadget

OK, seriously, I have no idea whether the output of this "cook a perfect tubular egg-thing-on-a-stick" thinggum is anything remotely edible, but the production company that made it is basically staffed with evil geniuses who made me vibrate with desire within about ten seconds. Also, there's something weirdly compelling about a device that appears to get a boner while it cooks for you.

Rollie Eggmaster Cooking System | Official Site (via Red Ferret)

ACLU files suit to stop warrantless mobile phone searches

The ACLU of Northern California today filed suit against San Francisco and its Police Chief Gregory Suhr on behalf of civil rights activist Bob Offer-Westort, "whose cell phone was searched by the San Francisco Police Department without a warrant after he was arrested while engaging in peaceful civil disobedience."

The suit charges that warrantless cell phone searches at the time of arrest violate the constitutional rights not only of arrestees but also of their family, friends, co-workers, and anyone whose information is in their phones. This practice violates the right to privacy, and the right to speak freely without police listening in to what we say and who we talk to.
Here's the lawsuit document (PDF). It's interesting reading.

Offer-Westort advocates for the rights of homeless people. There's a video about his work here.

Last chance to kick in for the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which seeks to convert and preserve priceless lunar mission data from old analog media for future space nerds, has just a few hours left to reach its goal. Previous BB post here with video, and Maggie has more here. As tweeted by William Shatner! Yes, people will write checks to explore space. You can donate here, for a few more hours.

Space spy? NASA researcher, a Chinese national, arrested on plane bound for China

Aerospace contractor Bo Jiang, who is accused by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) of being a spy, made a first appearance in federal court on Monday. The Chinese national worked on contract at NASA's Langley's Research Center in Hampton, VA.

Federal agents grabbed him over the weekend just as he was boarding a flight from Dulles airport (in DC) to Beijing. He is charged with making false statements to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying on his one-way flight, and has since been jailed.

Read the rest

Napalm Death concert cancelled, fear of volume-related building damage

Famed grindcore band Napalm Death were slated to play a unique concert at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Friday night, but the museum cancelled the show fearing that "the high level of decibels generated by the performance would damage the historic fabric of the building." The group was to play through a sculptural ceramic sound system built by artist Keith Harrison. The sculpture was expected to crumble under the volume of the performance.

"Sound as a weapon - or a weapon of change - is a very interesting concept and I think that the whole process of our sound gradually degrading clay sculptures is captivating," Napalm Death vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway said last week. "The noise element of music should never be understated and this exhibition at the V&A will hopefully demonstrate that music can do interesting things beyond the realms of clipped production techniques."

According to the V&A, the museum "is committed to an exciting programme of exhibitions and events but the safety of our visitors and building remains our priority at all times."

Above, Napalm Death's "Suffer the Children" from their 1990 album Harmony Corruption, the first album to feature Greenway on vocals.

(via BBC News)

Decision delayed on dangerous chemical in drinking water: part 2 of Erin Brockovich's real-life unhappy ending

Following up on a previous Boing Boing post by Miles O'Brien on the real-life unhappy ending to "Erin Brockovich," here's part 2 of the PBS NewsHour story.

Miles talks to scientists, members of the chemical industry and representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric about chromium-6 contamination in American drinking water. What is a safe level for humans to consume and why has the EPA stalled on setting a federal standard?

Below, a Flickr slide show with stills shot by Miles during the shoot in Hinkley, California, where the story takes place.

Read the rest

HTML5's overseer says DRM's true purpose is to prevent legal forms of innovation

Ian Hickson, the googler who is overseeing the HTML5 standard at the W3C, has written a surprisingly frank piece on the role of DRM. As he spells out in detail, the point of DRM isn't to stop illegal copying, it's to stop legal forms of innovation from taking place. He shows that companies that deploy DRM do so in order to prevent individuals, groups and companies from innovating in ways that disrupt their profitability:

The purpose of DRM is to give content providers leverage against creators of playback devices.

Content providers have leverage against content distributors, because distributors can't legally distribute copyrighted content without the permission of the content's creators. But if that was the only leverage content producers had, what would happen is that users would obtain their content from those content distributors, and then use third-party content playback systems to read it, letting them do so in whatever manner they wanted.

Here are some examples:

A. Paramount make a movie. A DVD store buys the rights to distribute this movie from Paramount, and sells DVDs. You buy the DVD, and want to play it. Paramount want you to sit through some ads, so they tell the DVD store to put some ads on the DVD labeled as "unskippable".

Without DRM, you take the DVD and stick it into a DVD player that ignores "unskippable" labels, and jump straight to the movie.

This is the first third of my recent Guardian column, What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM, but there's two other important points to make, apropos the W3C:

Read the rest

Video of Obama's shape-shifting alien secret service

A shape-shifting extraterrestrial was on President Obama's security detail during his APIAC speech on Sunday. Above is video evidence. And once you have been convinced, you may want to visit the video's YouTube page for valuable information about Jesus, Satan, cures for Cancer, and that "smoking is of the devil." "OBAMA ALIEN demon UFO ghost 666 devil SECRET SERVICE"

Apollo F-1 engines recovered from Atlantic ocean floor by Bezos Expeditions

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has exciting news out today. Apollo mission F-1 enginges have been recovered from the bottom of the sea.

Read the rest

CNN's coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion, time-lapsed

Ten years ago this week, the US invaded Iraq and experimental filmmaker Bob Jaroc started a month-long recording of CNN that he later time-lapsed. The resulting stream of past current events, seen above, appeared on the 2006 collaborative album/DVD Jaroc released with electronic music duo Plain, titled "Greedy Baby," and in Plaid's live shows.

Chatting with Techdirt about Pirate Cinema

My novel Pirate Cinema is the current TechDirt Book Club selection, and we're kicking it off today with a Google+ hangout in about five minutes. I've never done a Hangout before -- I don't have a G+ account because I object to its "real names" policy, but I've created a throwaway account for the occasion.

Live Video: Cory Doctorow Talking With Techdirt About Pirate Cinema, Copyright Law & More

Coop interviewed by Reason TV


Our pal Coop is interviewed in the latest edition of Reason TV.
Reason's Brian Doherty sat down with internationally renowned underground artist Chris "Coop" Cooper in Reason's LA studios to discuss discuss everything from intellectual property and censorship to the inspiration for Coop's radical art project. Cooper, who provided the cover illustration to the December 2012 issue of Reason, is one of the most prolific and provocative designers and artists working today. For more information, visit www.theartofcoop.com. Doherty is the author of This is Burning Man and, most recently, The Ron Paul rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Senator Portman Experiences Hunger; Now Opposes Spending Cuts

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH Senator Portman (R, Oh.) experiences hunger for the first time, and reverses his position on social welfare spending.

Read the rest

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Boing Boing, on social media

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Daily Beast: US to shift control of drone program from CIA to Pentagon

Daniel Klaidman spoke to three senior Obama administration officials who say the US may soon shift the CIA’s drone program to the Pentagon. [The Daily Beast]

Exposing public corporate cock-ups is not "hacking"

Here's Ryan Tate, the first writer to cover AT&T's massive iPad data leak, on the "hacking" conviction of Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer for exposing it in the first place: "The scapegoating of Auernheimer is revolting for two reasons. One, it lets AT&T off the hook for exposing sensitive information to public view, shifting the blame onto those who reported the slip-up, and discouraging future disclosure. Two, the jailing of Auernheimer criminalizes the act of fetching openly available data over the web." Previously.

The tweets you should follow in a crisis aren't necessarily the most obvious

Some interesting research based on the Arab Spring uprisings suggests that the best people to follow on Twitter during a crisis are often not particularly influential on Twitter outside the crisis. Likewise, they aren't likely to have had many followers before the event. Essentially, it's evidence supporting the common sense idea that, if you want the most accurate and relevant information, your best bet is to find people closest to the source, rather than relying on third-hand accounts.

Genocide trial begins in Guatemala, for US-trained former dictator Rios Montt

Efraín Ríos Montt. Photo: James Rodriguez.

José Efraín Ríos Montt, a former de facto dictator of Guatemala who trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, is on trial for genocide.

Photojournalist James Rodriguez covered the first day of this historic trial against Ríos Montt and former Intelligence Director José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, who are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity during Guatemala's 36-year civil war. The Ixil ethnic group of the country's Mayan population were one of the army's primary targets during the conflict, which left some 200,000 dead and tens of thousands "disappeared."

It's a shame none of the American forces that trained Ríos Montt and his regime, and helped prop them up to power, will ever be brought to justice. Once upon a time, he was our guy.

Read the rest