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Lecture on stone-wall building, with miniature stone wall built

Brian sez, "My library hosted Kevin Gardner, a New Hampshire native and builder/restorer of traditional New England stone walls. He talked about the history of stone walls in New England, and how they shaped - and were shaped by - the landscape and circumstances of the region and country. I thought BoingBoing readers would be interested in the talk alone, but the bonus is that the entire time he's talking, he's also building a miniature stone wall from rocks he brought in two five-gallon buckets."

Chelmsford Library Anytime: Exhibits and Videos (Thanks, Brian!)

Deus Ex Arca: apocalyptic, absurdist science fiction about a box that does anything and everything

Here's "Deus Ex Arca," a beautifully told, absurdist science fiction story about a terrible, wonderful box, by Desirina Boskovich. Desirina was one of my Clarion students about five years ago, and was extremely promising then. When I saw her name on a new story today, I was sure it would be beautiful, and wonderful, and haunting, and I was not disappointed.

Miss Amelia gazed in shock at where her table had been. “Well, I never,” she said. She bent over to pick up the box . . .

. . . and turned into a giant celery stalk.

Where there had been Miss Amelia, there was now something else, and that something else was a column of celery, measuring approximately five feet and five inches, its limpid green fronds rustling gently in the breeze.

The box sat beside it.

Lightspeed Presents... "Deus Ex Arca" by Desirina Boskovich

Podcast to mark centennial of Marc Davis, co-creator of Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean


Jeff Baham from HauntedMansion.com sez, "March 30 marked the centennial of the birth of Marc Davis, one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" who was responsible for both the creation of some of Disney's iconic characters (Tinker Bell, Maleficent) and iconic theme park attractions (Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion). The Mousetalgia podcast is noting the life and work of Davis with a special episode dedicated to his career, including a never-published interview with Davis himself and a recent conversation with his widow and fellow Disney Imagineer, Alice Davis. Of special note are Marc and Alice's recollections about Marc joining the Disney Studio in the '20s, where he worked on Snow White."

Mousetalgia Episode 230: Remembering Marc Davis with Alice Davis

MP3 link

(Thanks, Jeff!)

Autonomous sensory meridian response - self-diagnosed neurological condition/superpower that makes you really enjoy whispering

In Tribes, this week's This American Life podcast, a woman with "Autonomous sensory meridian response" describes her curious neurological condition. When she hears boring, whispering voices, she experiences pleasurable, relaxing "brain shivers" that are so nice, she finds herself watching the Home Shopping Network for hours (and hours!) at a time. There's a whole YouTube subculture of ASMR videos in which (mostly) women whisper quietly as they narrate their jewelry condition, or role-play giving you a shave.

There's not much science on ASMR (yet), but a Sheffield university prof doesn't discount the possibility that it is real.

ASMR subculture feels like something out of a very good recent William Gibson novel, and it's apparently real.

Curiosity rover dresses


Etsy seller Shenova (who also does some nice-looking, science-y leggings), makes these $135 Mars Curiosity rover dresses to order:

This super special space chic fashion forward dress has a real NASA image from the Mars Curiosity Rover, also with a rover "track" print on the other side. It it made from custom printed non-fading, durable Lycra stretch fabric with a cotton stretch black backing for a lovely slimming effect. There is also a cute silver strap detail at the top. Very comfortable fabric, easy fitting.

The Curiosity lettering is hand studded with crystals for extra fanciness. You'll surely impress your friends with this one! Hem is 32" but can be adjusted if you add a note.

NASA Mars Curiosity Print Rover Dress Space Chic (via IO9)

Queen goes on austerity footing, receive mere £5M pay-rise from the taxpayers

At only £36.1M from the public purse (up £5M from last year), the poor Queen is positively underpaid. After all, she was divinely chosen to be monarch. God will be angry. Cory

Toronto Public Library's Fahrenheit 451-themed alternate reality game


Jim Munroe sez, "We've just launched KTR 451, a game I developed for the Toronto Public Library. Drawing on the themes and characters in Fahrenheit 451 (the TPL's One Book this year), it's a simple alternate reality game -- part scavenger hunt, part audio drama -- and people in Toronto can play it by calling (647) 931-1585. There's three missions, one per week, until a live event on April 22nd."

If Jim's name sounds familiar, that's because he's behind the Ghosts With Shit Jobs movie, as well as co-producing the controversial oil pipeline game.

Take Your Seashells Out of Your Ears!

Notorious porno copyright trolls Prenda Law have a very bad day in court

Today marked the long-awaited courtroom showdown of notorious copyright porno trolls Prenda Law (previous posts) and United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, the judge who figured out that Prenda was running something that looked a blackmail racket that involved systematic fraud against courts around the country. After stalling and fum-fuhing, Prenda's lawyers and principals were dragged before Judge Wright, where they sat for a hearing that ran for 12 whole minutes before Wright furiously banished them from his courtroom. Ken "Popehat" White was there, and sent tantalizing tweets about the total trainwreck he'd witnessed, which he has now had a chance to write up in full.

In a nutshell, the Prendateers showed up and took the Fifth, refusing to speak. Their lawyer tried to enter some argument into the record, but the judge didn't allow it. Prenda had filed no briefs, and had been called to answer basic, factual questions about lawsuits. Wright wasn't happy about it. Ken has written up a list of likely consequences Prenda will now face. It's not pretty. At very least, the firm and its activities are at an end. At most (though not likely), this could end in prison for the principals here.

Judge Wright grew steadily and visibly more outraged. "I want to know if some of my conjecture is accurate — and the only way to know is to have the principals here and ask them questions. This is an opportunity for them to protect themselves," he said. But Steele's lawyer confirmed his client would exercise his right to remain silent. Attorneys for Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and Angela Van Den Hemel confirmed their clients, too, would invoke their rights to remain silent. Judge Wright did not — unless I missed it — confirm whether Peter Hansmeier or Mark Lutz would answer questions.

An Opportunity To Be Heard

Heather Rosing, appearing for Paul Duffy, Angela Van Den Hemel, and Prenda Law, rose and asked Judge Wright for an opportunity to present "about a half hour" of argument on the points in his Order to Show Cause. Look: when you are a lawyer, representing a client, you have to stand up. You have to hold your ground even in the face of a furious federal judge. When a judge is yelling at you, however unsettling it is, you have to hold fast and remember you are there to represent the interests of your client against the terrible power of the court. Heather Rosing stood up, and has my admiration, whatever I think of her clients.

Judge Wright was uninterested in hearing legal argument, as opposed to testimony or evidence. "My clients have a right to a reasonable opportunity to be heard," Ms. Rosing protested. "Excuse me?" thundered Judge Wright, probably thinking — not unreasonably — that Ms. Rosing's clients could have filed briefs in advance to address any legal arguments they had, and that Ms. Rosing's clients have been evading questions for months. Judge Wright began to count off the questions he wanted answered. "I'm looking for facts," he said. He wanted to know who directs Prenda Law's litigation efforts, who makes its decisions, whether there is another Alan Cooper, and what happens with the money Prenda Law makes from settlements. Ms. Rosing answered (wisely, and properly) that she could not personally testify to those things. Why, Judge Wright demanded, did Prenda Law conceal its attorneys' financial interest in the cases? "There's no evidence that they have an interest," Ms. Rosing protested. "Excuse me?" Judge Wright boomed even louder. Were there windows, they would have rattled. "Have you read Paul Hansmeier's deposition?" he demanded, referring to the bizarre deposition in which Paul Hansmeier failed to explain Prenda Law's shadowy owners or flow of funds. "I have," Ms. Rosing said, but stood her ground.

Prenda Law's Attorneys Take The Fifth Rather Than Answer Judge Wright's Questions

Judge Death costume


Finland's Head Hunter is selling a set of accessories that you can use to turn yourself (or a mannequin) into a terrifyingly credible Judge Death from 2000AD's Judge Dredd. It appears that the costume was made by DeviantArt member Warrior1944, who may or may not be "Peter Olsson, a huge Dredd fan from Sweden," though I'm not entirely sure of the relationship here. Looks like 2000AD is gearing up for some legal enforcement against Head Hunter, so if you're planning on getting this, you should probably hurry.

Head Hunter has promised four Dark Judges, and a short film to be produced in Finland, using all of them.

JUDGE DEATH 1:1 STATUE/SUIT (via Geeks Are Sexy)

Chef 5 Minute Meals: Self-cooking meal-in-a-box

I bought six of these two weeks ago just because the technology — a totally self-contained heating element that gives you a hot meal via steam heat in 10 minutes or less no matter where you are —- seemed so amazing.

Guess what?

I’m sitting here eating one of these meals right now, with no power since 14″ of snow descended on my podunk town overnight, and it is delicious.

Cheap at twice the price.

And the delight of preparing it: you simply open the included pouch of salt water, pour it on the heating element, place your sealed food container on top, put the whole shebang back into the insulated box, and wait and watch in wonder and delight as:

1. The box starts to puff up

2. Steam starts pouring out

3. Sounds — amazing sounds — emanate from the box

4. The smell of cooking food pervades the immediate vicinity

5. You open the box and peel back the plastic lid and darned if your chicken cacciatore isn’t all piping hot and smelling scrumdiddlyumptious — tastes great too!

Fantastic stuff. -- Joe Stirt

Chef 5-Minute Meals: 6 meals for $32

Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 45: Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (MP3)

Soul singer Charles Bradley has a lot of feelings, and it's not hard to see why: he's lived on the street, discovered his brother’s murdered body, and spent most of his 64 years as a James Brown impersonator, all while dreaming of recording his own music. His songs teem with the incredible anguish of his life, and his gratitude for its turnaround. Bradley has only seen success in the last few years, and his deep love for his life and fans is apparent. I’ve never seen someone give so much of himself on stage; he will actually burst into tears while wailing “I love you” and thanking the audience when he performs. It's irresistible.

Victim of Love is Charles Bradley’s excellent new album (out today!), and it sounds like a classic soul record with some sneaky psychedelic overtones. Charles has agreed to share this free download of the first single “Strictly Reserved for You” with us. Take a listen, know that Charles loves you, and head over to a record retailer to show your love right back.

"Batteries, Sold Separately" by Randy Regier

Here's the latest piece of art by the great Randy Regier.

"Batteries, Sold Separately"
H 4.5" x W 3.5" x D 1.5"
Inkjet print on paper, clear plastic.
Multiple of 10.

More work by Randy Regier

Free US court records service RECAP gets two major features, in Aaron Swartz's memory

One of Aaron Swartz's more epic hacks was the liberation of $1.5M worth of caselaw from PACER, the US government's proprietary court-records database, pushing them into RECAP, the free/open alternative that gives everyone access to American law.

The Think Computer Foundation produced a set of grants in Aaron's memory to accomplish a pair of long-sought features to RECAP, and they've announced that these features have been added:

Ka-Ping Yee, a Canadian software developer living in Northern California, has created a version of RECAP for Google’s Chrome browser. This gives RECAP a much larger base of potential users. Previously, RECAP had only been available for the Mozilla Firefox browser. The RECAP Chrome extension can be downloaded at recapthelaw.org.

Filippo Valsorda and Alessio Palmero Aprosio, both from Italy, have improved RECAP to support the version of PACER used by the U.S. appellate courts. This new functionality helps to dramatically expand the scope of citizens’ free access to United States case law. This improved Firefox version of the extension is also available at recapthelaw.org, and appellate functionality will be available soon for Chrome as well.

These awards recognize work that furthers Swartz’s ideals of information freedom and openness. The remaining grant involves visualizing data available on Think Computer Foundation’s PlainSite web site (the deadline for which has been extended to May 31, 2013 as work on PlainSite continues).

Two RECAP Grants Awarded in Memory of Aaron Swartz (via Freedom to Tinker)

Obama and DARPA want to map the human brain like we've mapped the human genome

Here are a couple different perspectives on the big news out of Washington this afternoon — an ambitious Obama Administration proposal to appropriate $100 million to begin a project to "map the brain". What's that mean? We have a lot of good data on single neurons. We have a lot of good data on what happens in the brain, as a whole, during certain tasks. What we don't really understand is how those individual neurons work together as networks or what activity in the brain really means on the level of causality and processing. That's what this project would be aimed at understanding. At LiveScience, Stephanie Pappas puts the project into scientific (and financial) context. At Nature News, Meredith Wadman writes about why some scientists are wary of this plan. Maggie

Thursday: Pesco hosting art/tech panel at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum

NewImage

On Thursday evening (4/4) at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, I'm moderating a panel titled "A State of Technology" at about art, technology, culture, and the Bay Area. Much more interesting than me though are the fascinating folks on the panel who are likely familiar to you if you are a regular Boing Boing reader! UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg is an artist/engineer whose art has appeared at the Whitney Biennial, Pompidou Center in Paris, Buenos Aires Biennial, and the ICC in Tokyo. Ariel Waldman is the founder of Spacehack.org, a directory of ways to participate in space exploration, and the global instigator of Science Hack Day. Amy X Neuburg is composer and performer of “avant-cabaret" for voice, electronics, and chamber ensembles! Amy is going to play a short set at the start of the evening's program! Admission to our event is free with entrance to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, a very compelling space in itself. The event is 6:30pm-8pm. I hope to see you there! "A State of Technology"