Think of the children (Thanks, Steve!)
Kevin Kelly says:
The takeover of the US by the Security-Corporate Complex is documented by mainstream press. It is worse than I thought.
According to Dana Priest and William M. Arkin of The Washington Post, "Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. ... An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ... In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings -- about 17 million square feet of space."
Cookbook comics! Penis lizards! Worm deers! One-armed men! There’s something for everyone in this edition of Comics Rack. And one-armed foodie alternative animal enthusiasts, get ready to get your socks knocked off!
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
By Lucy Knisley
If you find a more delightful book than Relish this year, please let me know. I’ll say right now that the odds are pretty slim. Lucy Knisley shuffled together a memoir and a cookbook into a cohesive collection of short stories that illustrate her life in food, the product of two parents who seared food obsessions into her DNA. The highlight has to be the tale of adolescent rebellion colored with pink hair and Lucky Charms -- a processed food defiance against epicurean parents. Can’t say I actually went so far as cooking any of the recipes contained here -- after five years in this apartment, I’m not entirely sure my pre-war oven even works -- but the tale of traveling to Mexico with a best friend who’s forced to leave a $200 stash of adult magazines behind a airport toilet, that stuff’s universal.
Read the rest
Ben sez, "The first ever synthetic biology Kickstarter is about growing glowing plants. Using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler software, they are ready to input bio-luminescence genes into a mustard plant and have it be naturally glowing. Meant more as a hint of things to come and what can be achieved with synth bio."
It's ambitious, but the project's lead looks like he has the necessary experience. Still, as with all ambitious Kickstarters, you should be prepared to lose your dough.
We are using Synthetic Biology techniques and Genome Compiler’s software to insert bioluminescence genes into Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant and member of the mustard family, to make a plant that visibly glows in the dark (it is inedible).
Funds raised will be used to print the DNA sequences we have designed using Genome Compiler and to transform the plants by inserting these sequences into the plant and then growing the resultant plant in the lab.
Printing DNA costs a minimum of 25 cents per base pair and our sequences are about 10,000 base pairs long. We plan to print a number of sequences so that we can test the results of trying different promoters – this will allow us to optimize the result. We will be printing our DNA with Cambrian Genomics who have developed a revolutionary laser printing system that massively reduces the cost of DNA synthesis.
Transforming the plant will initially be done using the Agrobacterium method. Our printed DNA will be inserted into a special type of bacteria which can insert its DNA into the plant. Seeds of a flowering plant are then dipped into a solution containing the transformed bacteria. The bacteria then injects our DNA into the cell nucleus of the seeds which we can grow until they glow! You can see this process in action in our video.
Over in the /r/homebrewing subreddit, user hatchetthrower has recreated one of my favorite fictional brews: Bendërbrāu, a homebrewed beer from Futurama made entirely inside Bender the robot's chassis. The recipe for the clone is pretty dead on: it's a steam beer as suggested by the label in the show, uses space-aged sounding Zythos hops (Galaxy was out of stock), and Rush 2112 yeast because Rush is one of Fry's favorite bands.
Thanks to our lovely sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently-designed apparel, jewelry, prints, and other unique items. Now available, Maiden Voyage's "Phrenology of a Gentleman Tee," printed on a 100% super-soft cotton lightweight charcoal grey shirt! Also, Mother's Day is May 12 and ShanaLogic put together an excellent Mother's Day Gift Guide filled with cats, birds, hearts, sloths, monkeys, tentacles, and other fine motifs. Shana says, "Free USA shipping on orders over $50!" ShanaLogic
It seems we love mine collapses at Boing Boing. The earlier posts got me to thinking about the Lake Peigneur disaster. The story is amazing but oh so familiar, a wayward oil company makes an error and mistakenly drains a lake into a salt mine. It is incredible and you can watch!
Previously on Boing Boing:
Our friend Clive Thompson is in the spotlight in this week's "This is How I Work" feature on Lifehacker.
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
I'm a pack rat when it comes to research. I like to save everything, because you never know when it'll be useful. I write primarily long-form magazine pieces and books, each of which takes months to report and sometimes years to gestate, so I often find myself realizing an interview or study I encountered three years earlier is suddently useful now. So I lean heavily on tools for finding and saving everything.
For face-to-face interviews, I use a Livescribe pen, which is invaluable even though the software is kind of creaky. I use Skype out for most of my phone interviews, and Call Recorder to save those files. I have a Scrivener database for my research—whenever I read anything interesting, I make a note about it and paste in any relevant passages. The note-writing is a crucial part of the task for me, because it requires me to slow down and make sense of what I’m reading, instead of just blindly clipping and saving everything.
In 24 charts, the Washington Post reveals how George W. Bush's presidency screwed up the country and the rest of the world for many years to come. Health, employment, the GDP, public services, the Middle East, and almost every other measurable condition of civilization's health and welfare were severely damaged by Bush's policies, all of which were enacted to make rich people richer. In achieving that goal, Bush's presidency was a resounding success.
Even if you don’t blame the [debt] crisis on Bush, at least half the debt is directly attributable to his policy choices. Racking up debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and some have even argued that surpluses can be economically dangerous, but for whatever it’s worth, Bush played a big role there. It’s also worth noting that Bush was increasing the deficit at a time when the economy was expanding — which is exactly the opposite of what Keynesians believe makes sense, and which also made it more difficult for the country to respond to the recession.
Geoscientist Matt Kuchta explains why wet sand makes a better castle than dry sand — and what you can do to make your sand fortress even more impenetrable. Hint: The secret ingredient is window screens.
Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez, "I thought you'd be interested in a new browser extension and webtool from the Sunlight Foundation called Churnalism. It extracts article text from any site you'd like it to run on and compares it against a corpus of press releases, articles from Wikipedia and much more. If a significant amount of text from what you're reading matches something in our database, an alert banner appears on your browser and you can click through to see a side-by-side comparison. I imagine every editor would want to run this on their stories before they publish!"
Ríos Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez are accused of being responsible for the Guatemalan Army's mass killings of more than 1,700 Ixil Maya civilians, systematic rape, and forced displacement.
On April 18, just after the court adjourned, I was walking out of the Supreme Court building when I heard a group shouting "Justice! Justice!"—I walked into the center of the building and saw this group of young people holding signs that said, "So that history will never repeat," and "We young people deserve to know the truth."
Last week, Rob told you how scientists announced that they'd found two Earth-like planets orbiting the star Kepler-62. One of those, Kepler-62e, now ranks as the most Earth-like exoplanet we've ever found. Of course, all of this is relative.
What I like about this chart is that it kind of shows you how "Earth-like" doesn't really mean, "Man, that is totally exactly like Earth." Instead, you should translate it more as, "Welp, this is about the closest to Earth that we've found so far." Even Kepler-62e, as you can see, is much larger than the Earth and Mars. And size matters when it comes to actual habitability. As does density — and we don't know what Kepler-62e is made of yet. It's also worth noting that #2 on this list, the infamous Gleise 581g, is really a planet candidate, rather than a planet. We aren't actually certain it exists, just yet.
Popular Science has a neat little breakdown explaining what life might be like on Kepler-62e, if we could go there. But it's worth keeping the context in mind on these Earth-like planets. Don't pack your bags just yet.
I just finished a new animated film with my friend Thomas McMahan. Called "Learn To Say F**k You To The World" It's based on the writings of Sol Lewitt and features an original song made for the movie by Tim Armstrong from Rancid. In 1965, Sol LeWitt wrote fellow sculptor Eva Hesse a four-page letter of encouragement, urging her to stop doubting herself and to simply continue making her work. Tim took Lewitt's words and put them to music, then we painstakingly researched particular works of art to animate.
On Sunday, NASA launched three PhoneSats into orbit. House in a standard "cubesat" structures, a Google-HTC Nexus One serves as the onboard computer and sensor system, taking photos of Earth. Aamateur radio operators are monitoring the transmissions and picking up data packets that will be recombined here on Earth. According to a NASA press release, the use of commercial-of-the-shelf parts, a minimalist design, and limited mission requirements kept the cost of each satellite as low as $3500. PhoneSat: NASA's Smartphone Nanosatellite
Ruben "Tom the Dancing Bug" Bolling sez, "I organized this video, getting cartoonists as diverse as Trudeau (Doonesbury), Spiegelman (Maus, etc), Keane (Family Circus), Mazzucchelli (Batman etc), Mo Willems (Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny) and others to illustrate a script advocating gun law reform narrated by Julianne Moore (!) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (!!)."
David Cain of Middletown, Ohio is selling off his late father's massive collection of fossils that takes up several rooms in an unmarked storefront. Cain says the most valuable items are 200 megalodon teeth, and a dozen dinosaur egg nests. He'd like to get around $250,000 for the whole lot. The challenge, says Dale Gnidovec, collection manager at Ohio State University's Orton Geological Museum who checked out a video of the collection, is that what he saw is "readily available at any large fossil shop and many of them have been ‘enhanced’ by the craftsman. It is also very depressing to see so many fossils that have been stripped of their scientific value by not having exact locality and geologic information.” Interestingly, Cain is selling the fossils so he can grow his own collection of historical juggling props. It's apparently the third-largest in the world. Cain is a professional juggler whose act is called "Juggler for Jesus."
"Juggler has hands full with dad's fossil collection" (Cincinnati.com, thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)
My pal Bob Knetzger says:
I'm guessing you love old school illustrators and hearing about them as much as I do, so I think you'll really like the winter 2013 issue of Illustration magazine (number 40).
There's a low res previews here (you can't read it but you can view thumbnails of the cool art).
Check out the article on Bruce Minney, great "manly" illustrator of men's mags, paperbacks and ads -- with snarling rats, blazing guns, menacing Nazis and, of course, plenty of gals with va-va-voom!
A quick update from Guatemala, where I've been covering the historic tribunal of Jose Efrain Rios Montt, US-backed military dictator of Guatemala during 1982 and 1983, and Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, his then chief of military intelligence. They are on trial in Guatemala City for genocide and crimes against humanity, over charges their regime systematically massacred the country’s indigenous population, and caused mass forced displacement.
This is the first time in modern history that a former head of state has been prosecuted for genocide in a national, as opposed to an international, court.
Last week, the historic trial in the nation's Supreme Court was put on hold when a lower court judge effectively upheld an appeal by the defense to block the trial on procedural grounds. Confusion, concern, and protests by both sides followed.
Yesterday, the nation's Constitutional Court issued a series of provisional rulings that seemed to only deepen that confusion. Today, an appeals court hearing is being held unexpectedly moved to the Guatemalan Supreme Court due to large public turnout, says NISGUA. "Defense lawyers are present without Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez. FAMDEGUA (Asociación de Familiares de Desaparecidos de Guatemala) joins prosecution team in this hearing to resolve appeal."
The case is in limbo while various court authorities and legal teams battle it out. For a breakdown of the legal details:
Read the rest
Read the rest
The new US$100 bill will go into circulation on October 8, 2013. New security features include a "3-D Security Ribbon" woven into the paper. The image changes from bells to 100s with the viewing angle, and "color-shifting" bell graphic that changes from copper to green, "an effect which makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the (copper-colored) inkwell." "The Redesigned $100 Note"
Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin reviews the new BitTorrent BitTorrent Sync, a peer-to-peer-based Dropbox replacement that's now in public alpha testing. BTSync uses the BitTorrent protocol to keep the files on several computers synchronized, and the actual file-transfers are robustly encrypted so that no one -- not BitTorrent Inc, not your ISP, and not a hacker -- can sniff them as they traverse the Internet and invade your privacy. There's no central server for the police to seize or for hackers or backhoes to knock offline, either. Brodkin's review is comprehensive and makes this sound like a hell of a product.
"Since Sync is based on P2P and doesn’t require a pit-stop in the cloud, you can transfer files at the maximum speed supported by your network," BitTorrent said. "BitTorrent Sync is specifically designed to handle large files, so you can sync original, high quality, uncompressed files."
In the pre-alpha testing that began in January, 20,000 users synced more than 200TB of data. BitTorrent Sync clients can be downloaded now for Windows, Macs, Linux desktops, and Linux-based network-attached storage devices. Mobile support will come later.
Setting the client up is easy. No account is required, but a randomly generated (or user-chosen) 21-byte key is needed to sync folders across computers. After installing the application and choosing a folder to sync you'll be given a string of random letters and numbers that should be typed into a second computer to sync the folder...