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OpenWorm: an artificial life sim of an earthworm

Wagner James Au sez, "OpenWorm, as the name suggests, is a collaborative open source project to computationally create a simple artificial life form -- an earth worm -- from the cellular level to a point where it's sophisticated enough to solve basic problems. They're still in early stages, with the latest demo, a developer on the project tells me, being 'a particle simulation of five connected muscle segments moving together through a body of water.'"

An Open Source Artificial Life Project Called OpenWorm (Thanks, James!)

Running on a long, deep pool of ooblek

This 2006 gameshow clip shows contestants running back and forth atop a deep pool of non-Newtonian fluid -- ooblek -- without sinking in. They run, they skip, they hop, and maintain admirable aplomb atop the surface. It gets especially nice when the host stops in his tracks and sinks down into the mucky depths.

Non-Newtonian noodles

Mitt Romney urges grads to procreate like rabbits

Matt says: "In his commencement address to the graduating class at Southern Virginia University (a largely Mormon school), Mitt Romney urged the graduates to 'Get married, and have a quiver full of kids if you can.'"

Mitt Romney went on to say:

“I don’t think God cares whether you get rich,” he cautions. “I don’t think he hopes that your business will make a huge profit. I know a lot of religious people who think God will intervene to make their investments grow. Or he’ll get them a promotion. To make their business a success. But life on this earth is about learning to live in a place where God does not make everything work out for good people.”

Mitt Romney offers family planning advice to college grads

The return of Kids

The good people over at Narrative.ly caught up with some of the surviving cast members of the 1995 film Kids. Written by Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark, Kids was a raw glimpse at life inside New York's early 90s skater and club scene. I remember the film for being both terrifying and making me feel like I was one of the most boring people in the world. The stars of the film were all real kids from that scene, and many of the storylines were also legit.

The kids say the film was accurate, except for the most fantastical stuff. There’s no denying they weren’t sober during filming. Even the scene with Javier Nunez, at fourteen, by far the youngest of the skate crew, and three other little kids mashed on a couch smoking a joint and pontificating about god and life—that too was real. The virgin hunter, the AIDS plotline, and the rape scene at the end were fictional.

Kids was responsible for launching the careers of both Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson.

Korine, nineteen at the time, and Clark, then over fifty, wrangled the troops from the skate clique, supplementing them with more non-actors from Washington Square Park and the club scene, and across downtown—including Chloë Sevigny, from tony Darien, Connecticut, who had been hanging out with the crew in Washington Square Park for years. They plucked a then fifteen-year-old Rosario Dawson from her stoop in the East Village. Vibe magazine was shooting a commercial on her block, and her father told her to go downstairs to get discovered. Korine heard her laughing loudly at a strange man who looked like Jesus, walked over and told her, “You’re exactly what I wrote.”

 Others didn't fare so well. RIP Casper and Harold.

Read the whole story here.

Guatemala: "San Rafael Mine State of Siege," photo-essay by James Rodriguez

Photo: James Rodriguez of mimundo.org

[Posted from Guatemala City]

As reported previously on Boing Boing, the Guatemalan government has declared a 30-day State of Siege in 4 communities surrounding the Canadian-owned San Rafael Mine (aka Escobal Mine), following anti-mining protests that turned violent. Guatemalan photojournalist James Rodriguez of mimundo.org has published a photo-essay on Facebook with images he shot today inside the emergency zone. I am republishing some of the images here, with permission, for those who do not have access to Facebook.

Read the rest

Guatemala: state of siege declared as Army, police crack down after protests against Canadian-owned mine

Photo: Troops entering the region around a disputed mining site, shortly after the declaration of a State of Siege by the government of Guatemala. Photo: guatemala.gob.gt.

Photo: Carlos Andrino. "Caserío los Lopez. Santa Lucia Xalapan. Jalapa." May 2, 2013, Guatemala.

[Posted from Guatemala City]

Residents of four towns east of Guatemala's capital woke up to news that their communities had been placed under a 30-day State of Siege by the administration of President Otto Perez Molina, following anti-mining protests that turned violent. One policeman was killed, six civilians were wounded by rubber bullets, and a number of police cars were burned and overturned on roadways. Here is the government's official public announcement. Public gatherings in the area are banned for 30 days.

According to Guatemalan Defense Minister Col. Ulises Giron Anzueto Noah (shown at right, photo today by Carlos Andrino), 3,500 total personnel participated in operations to bring the "estado de sitio" (state of siege) into effect. Some soldiers entered the areas in armored personnel vehicles and tanks. Hundreds of police officers were involved, as were private security officers for the Canadian-owned Escobal mine at the center of the controversy.

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Old ads for new underwear


This weekend's contest on the Vintage Ads LiveJournal is old underwear ads, and the group is filling up with some extraordinary pics. Here are some of my faves (click to go through to the original posts).

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CISPA is not dead! It's coming back -- get ready!


Evan from Fight for the Future sez, "All of your phone calls, emails, petition signatures, and tweets are working. The privacy-killing back-from-the-dead zombie bill CISPA is a bit stalled in the Senate, with over $605 million in lobbying spent on it already, it's bound to be back to haunt us in some form soon. So we made an infographic to get everyone up to speed. This Spring, we'll be organizing the largest online privacy protest in history, to send this bill back where it belongs. Join us?"

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Molly Crabapple's SHELL GAME, free and CC


Robbo sez, "Molly Crabapple's first major solo show, SHELL GAME, closed last Tuesday. Yesterday she released hi-res versions of the works under Creative Commons Share-Alike Non-Commercial. In her words:

"Without the support of hundreds of people online, Shell Game would never have happened. The internet believed in me, believed in the promise of my art, and showed that in concrete ways.

The internet gave me Shell Game.

I want to give them something back.

Today is May Day. The day of workers, immigrants, beautiful young girls, and rebellion. I'm releasing all the art from SHELL GAME on Creative Commons. Share. Remix. Make art. Wheatpaste the world."

Shell Game: CreativeCommons release (Thanks, Robbo)

A fantastic long read about activism and nuclear weapons

Last summer, a nun, a drifter, and a house painter broke into the secure compound surrounding the Oak Ridge National Laboratory — the laboratory that made uranium for the Manhattan Project and continues to be a major part of America's nuclear infrastructure. Their goal: To put America on trial. Dan Zak has written an amazing piece for the Washington Post, blending this story with the history of Oak Ridge and and in-depth look at the future of the US nuclear weapons program. Very much worth your time. Maggie

What neuroscientists think of the BRAIN Initiative

In general, they seem to like it. But with reservations. The Obama Administration's highly touted brain-mapping program — pitched as a neurological analog to the Human Genome Project — might be approaching the problem of how the brain works in the wrong way. In particular, if the Initiative only focuses on mapping activity in the brain, it's going to miss out on the ways activity and neural architecture work together to create a functioning system. Maggie

Evolution, pregnancy, and food

The populations at lowest risk for developing gestational diabetes — namely, ladies of European decent — come from cultures that eat (and have eaten, for thousands of years) dairy and wheat-heavy diets that would, normally, increase your risk. Meanwhile, writes Carl Zimmer at The Loom, Bangladeshi women, who have one of the highest risks for gestational diabetes, come from a culture that traditionally ate a low-carb, low-sugar diet. What's going on here? The answer might lie in evolution. It's a particularly interesting read given the ongoing pop-culture debate about whether 10,000 years is enough time for humans to adapt to eating certain foods. This data on pregnant ladies would suggest the answer is, at least in some respects, yes. Maggie

Unboxing a mysterious trunk in the attic

Reddit user Lumpytuna found a trunk of wonderful old junque in her attic and videoed the unboxing, as well as posting a great inventory set to Imgur. The ensuing discussion is lively and funny.

Pics! Some of the more interesting contents of the chest in my attic. (imgur.com) (via Reddit)

Guatemala: Rios Montt genocide trial struggles toward completion as confusion reigns in courtroom

A 1982 photograph by Jean-Marie Simon of Otto Perez Molina; he commanded the Guatemalan Army in Nebaj, Quiché, Guatemala at the time, and is now President. Nebaj is part of the region at issue in a genocide trial against former head of state Ríos Montt. The military hat in this photo indicates status as a Kaibil.

[UPDATE, 2pm Guatemala time: Judge Yassmin Barrios has suspended the trial for five days, at the request of the defense. The trial is scheduled to re-open on May 7, 2013.]

A brief update from Guatemala, where the genocide trial of General Efraín Ríos Montt and his former head of intelligence Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez continues today. The trial is historic not only for Guatemala: never before has a domestic court in any nation tried a former head of state for genocide.

The OSIJ blog riosmontt-trial.org has an excellent explainer on the strange state of confusion the trial is in today; here's a previous update from them.

Judge Yassmin Barrios' courtroom in Guatemala City is packed with press, witnesses, the accused, and attorneys. At the time of this blog post, a new de facto defense team that consists of one lawyer previously expelled for bad behavior in the courtroom, and a public defender who asked the court to remove him from the casel—well, they're currently playing a video titled simply "Guerrilla," and displaying a slideshow with graphic images of wounded soldiers. If you can figure out what's going on, you're a few steps ahead of me.

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Colonial cannibalism

While starving during the winter of 1609, residents of Jamestown, Virginia likely ate at least one person, a teenage girl. Archaeologists found her skeleton last summer and it's riddled with cut marks characteristic of a body that has been butchered after death. Maggie