Boing Boing 

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 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

[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 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.

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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:

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.

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.

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.

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. ( (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 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.

What happens in a tiger shark's uterus stays in a tiger shark's uterus

Rob posted a link to a Discovery News story yesterday about shark embryos eating one another in the womb. Today, I read a second piece on this research that I have to share with you, for no other reason than this fantastic/horrific quote (and all the implications contained therein): "It’s so voracious that at least one scientist has been bitten by a sand tiger pup while unwisely sticking a finger in a pregnant female’s uterus." Yes. Seriously.

Gull eats starfish, auditions for role as LOL animal

Writer Darren Naish, who blogs at Tretrapod Zoology, took this photo of a Larus gull attempting to chow down on an awkwardly shaped starfish. (And, really, are there any other kind of starfish? Especially when you're trying to fit them in your mouth whole?)

You might remember Larus gulls from a recent piece I wrote on speciation and evolution. According to Naish, they might have another place in the story of evolution, as well. Regardless of how Sisyphean this gull's dinner plans may appear, Larus gulls actually (successfully) eat a lot of starfish. So many, in fact, that, as Naish explains in a recent post, they might be prompting one species of starfish to slowly turn a different color — an adaptation that makes the species less visible to gulls.

Tiny alien skeleton suspected of being human


This tiny skeleton, just 6 inches long, was found a decade ago in Chile's Atacama Desert. Scientists now report that DNA and other test results prove that it is human. Fox Mulder believes otherwise. "Alien-Looking Skeleton Poses Medical Mystery" (Discovery, thanks Syd Garon!)

And here is more about this specimen's provenance and its unwitting participation in a new documentary about ETs visiting Earth, titled Sirius.

Tyler, the Creator punks PepsiCo with “arguably the most racist commercial in history.”

PepsiCo, in an attempt to appear hip, hired Tyler, the Creator to direct a series of Mountain Dew commercials. Tyler, the Creator took advantage of this opportunity to make an ad that was so over-the-top racist that it would have to be pulled. It's a triple win for Tyler, the Creator, who ends up getting (1) a ton of money, (2) lots of publicity, and (3) street cred for punking the befuddled suits at PepsiCo.

In a statement to AdWeek, a Pepsi representative said, "We understand how this video could be perceived by some as offensive, and we apologize to those who were offended. We have removed the video from all Mountain Dew channels and have been informed that Tyler is removing it from his channels as well."

The ad is the third in a series of ads directed by rapper Tyler, the Creator, who is black. The first depicts the goat (named Felicia) assaulting the woman, a waitress at a restaurant that has run out of Mountain Dew. The second shows the goat fleeing from police.

PepsiCo pulls Mountain Dew ad deemed racist and misogynistic

Mother missing for 11 years turns herself in


Eleven years ago, Brenda Heist of central Pennsylvania vanished. She had dropped off her kids, then 8 and 12, at school. Dinner was defrosting. Laundry was half-done. And then she was gone without a trace. There was a long investigation. Her husband was considered a suspect at one point. Eventually, she was declared dead. Then last week, Heist walked up to police in South Florida and told them who she was. Not surprisingly, her children aren't ready to forgive her. From CBS News:

It began when three strangers reached out to comfort (Heist) as she cried in despair in a park in 2002, then offered to let her accompany them. She took them up on it…

Heist decided to join the three strangers as they hitchhiked for a month along Interstate 95 on their way to South Florida. She told (Lititz Borough Police Detective John Schofield) she slept in tents and under bridges, survived by scavenging restaurant trash and panhandling, and kept her previous life a secret, contacting no one and using a pseudonym.

Now 54, Heist told police she spent seven years living with a man in a camper and working odd jobs, but more recently she was homeless again, living in a tent facility run by a social service agency.

"She said she was at the end of her rope, she was tired of running," Schofield said.

"Mom Brenda Heist resurfaces 11 years after abandoning kids"

Photos of filthy Walmart stores

I once read that people who litter not only have little respect for the world around them, but that they also have little respect for themselves. I believe it. So is it any wonder that Walmart -- which is owned by a handful of the richest people on Earth yet shows little respect for employees, shoppers, communities, and taxpayers -- would have litter strewn, filthy stores?

Rob Cockerham says:

I wrote an article, with a bunch of photos, which illustrates the very sad state of Walmart stores in Sacramento. It's widely known, but I thought it might be a good idea to document the current state of my local stores and call out the billionaire owners to do a better job with their properties.

I got thrown out after 330 pictures.

Officer Perez from the Elk Grove police department approached me and said that he had been summoned because someone was "taking pictures of women." Two more officers arrived on the scene and asked to look through my photos, which I allowed. I was asked if I lived in Elk Grove or was just visiting.

I believe the officer took this photo as she attempted to view the photos. She clicked through them. "They are just pictures of trash."

I explained that I was taking photos for this article I was writing called "Get Your Shit Together Walmart", wherein I would document the state of Walmart stores and ask their league of billionaire owners to meet the community standards of cleanliness in their stores. They were not impressed.

"I'm sure your house isn't clean all the time," one officer suggested, defending Walmart.

"True, but I don't invite people over when it is a mess," wasn't my actual reply.

Officer Perez told me that taking photos was against the rules at Walmart and told me that I would have to leave Walmart and not return.

Photos of filthy Walmart stores

Excellent DIY mailboxes

Excellent collection of DIY geeky and arty mailboxes. "22 unusual and creative mailboxes you don’t see everyday" (via MAKE)

In one month the SFMOMA closes for three years for renovation

If you're in the Bay Area and like modern art, now's the time. On June 2nd, the SFMOMA closes to begin a three year long renovation. There will be some exhibits at other museums through them, but the main building will be under construction.

Stop motion movie made by moving individual atoms

IBM nanoscientists used a scanning tunneling microscope to push around carbon monoxide atoms to create this stop motion animation. The image has been magnified 100 million times. See below for a video about how the movie was made. "A Boy and His Atom"

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JOHN WILCOCK: A Job at the New York Times (1959)

Chapter Four concludes with a job at the New York Times travel desk, a bit of music from the Monk Quartet, and a rotten act from Norman Mailer.Read the rest

HOWTO play Tetris forever

Given a standard Tetris engine (which drops pieces in a pseudorandom order, has previews, and allows holding), this method will allow you to play Tetris forever. As always, the most fascinating thing about this is the specialized vocabulary used to describe the method:

Worst case bag distributions such as H?XX?X? and H?XXX?? deserve a special mention. The first piece 'H' denotes a piece which must be placed in Hold in order to follow the STZ loop procedure. Pieces from the LJO loop are denoted by '?', and the remaining pieces are denoted by 'X'. Using 3 previews and Hold, it is only possible to see the first 4 pieces of the bag before the second piece enters the screen. This means you only see H?XX, and only know the first piece of the LJO loop. Because H must be put in Hold, you are forced to make a decision without knowing the order of the rest of the LJO loop. If the O comes first, you can follow the procedure above without problems. The rest of the time you will run into complications like this:

Playing forever (via Hacker News)

The cult of Shadow of the Colossus

Craig Owens writes about the quest to find a "last big secret" in the mysterious, epic game Shadow of the Colossus.

Time and time again he'd load the game, steer Agro towards this postcard-perfect view, and then dismount from the steed. While Agro trotted away quietly, he would carefully walk up to one of the many rocks overhanging the edge of the bluff. And he'd wait, watching the birds fly by. And then Ozzymandias would jump into the sky.

Sounds kind of like asking Sony for updates on when development-hell sequel The Last Guardian will be released.

Topsy Turvy World: surreal kids' picture book

TOPSY TURVY WORLD is one of the new titles from Flying Eye, the kids' imprint of London's wonderful NoBrow publishing. Like the rest of the line (recently reviewed titles include Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, Monsters and Legends and Akissi), Topsy Turvy World is brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed, and not quite like anything else in kids' publishing today.

Topsy Turvy World is a wordless collection of surreal paintings presented as two-page spreads. Though there's no story per se, the paintings do progress from the merely whimsical to the outright bizarre. The artist, Atak (a pseudonym for the German illustrator Hans-Georg Barber) manages to make things weirder and weirder without even hinting at horror, which is a great trick and makes this a perfect picture book for small kids like my daughter, who experienced unvarnished delight as we snuggled up at bedtime, working our way through all the strange and funny situations depicted on each page (the final spread is a real crescendo!).

Topsy Turvy World is already out in the UK, and will hit the USA on June 11 (you can pre-order it now). The nice folks at Flying Eye were kind enough to supply some samples to go with this review -- check them out below the jump!


Topsy Turvy World [Amazon UK]

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