The world's oldest male panda, Pan Pan, has died in China.
Pan Pan, 31, was diagnosed with cancer six months ago, having lived almost all his life in captivity. He was captured in Sichuan as a six-month old cub. The BBC reports that his name means "Hope."
The centre described the news of the death of the "hero-father" panda as "heart-wrenching".
Keepers said he had stopped moving and eating, and lost consciousness, as his health had deteriorated rapidly over the preceding three days.
In September, the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that the status pandas had been changed from "endangered" to "vulnerable", as numbers had begun to increase.
The latest Chinese estimates show a population of 1,864 adults, as well as - according to China's State Forestry Administration - 422 in captivity.
Pan Pan is survived by 130 descendants — reportedly a quarter of the world's captive-bred pandas — with family in California, Washington D.C., Edinburgh, Brussels, Ya'an, Chengdu, Chiang Mai and Taipei. Read the rest
Brian K Vaughan is one of my very favorite comics creators, though the erratic schedule of Saga
, the psychedelic, sexy space opera he and Fiona Staples created has frustrated me at times -- and then I remember that Vaughan is so erratic because he's so busy
, creating new titles like 2015's Paper Girls, which Image Comics began to collect in two volumes this year: Book 1
last April, and Book 2
on December 6.
Here's this year's complete Boing Boing Gift Guide: more than a hundred great ideas for prezzies: technology, toys, books and more. Scroll down and buy things, mutants! Many of the items use Amazon Affiliate links that help us make ends meet at Boing Boing, the world's greatest neurozine.
Gadgets / Books / Toys and Trivia Read the rest
Eric Heisserer adapted Ted Chiang's novella Story of Your Life as the screenplay Arrival. Both are brilliant, but in different ways. It wasn't easy.
In all my draft work on the adaptation, I spent the most time on the intellectual and political challenges of the story. But if I ever encroached on the intimate, emotional through-line of Louise’s journey, the story fell apart. Other scenes could be sacrificed, reworked, moved, or cut to the bone. But director Denis Villeneuve and I found a bare minimum of steps to Louise’s personal journey, and that became our Alamo; our hill we would die defending. Denis had a knack for visuals that spoke on an emotional level while also dovetailing with the intellectual challenges our characters faced. Marrying those two, sometimes in a single line of dialogue or image, made the film come alive. It made us feel the story. And at the end of the day, what drew me most to Ted Chiang’s story was the way it made me feel, and above all else we wanted to transport and share that feeling with audiences
It's always fascinating to see how the sausage is made. Screenwriters must write for several audiences--the author being adapted, producers, directors--at different stages of the process, while keeping moviegoers in mind all along. You can see here how a master makes his script align with each on its journey to the screen, somehow without alienating everyone.
Also interesting is the fact Final Draft, the expensive and mandatory screenplay production software package, can't handle images—an unusual but unavoidable requirement for a movie full of alien logograms to be deciphered. Read the rest
When we got to rounding up our favorite books for our annual Gift Guide, we found that there were simply too many this time to throw in the Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukah/Yule/Solstice/Nonspecific Winter Celebration/New Year/Chalica hopper along with the tech and toys.
It's almost as if 2016 made the traditional way of learning more about our world — and of sharing dreams of other worlds — somehow more enticing.
Here's 65 of the best, then, from fairy-tales to furious politics, from the comic to the catastrophic, all waiting for you to turn the page.
Most of the links here include Amazon Affiliate codes; this helps us make ends meet at Boing Boing, the world's greatest neurozine. Don't miss this year's guides to Gadgets and toys too! Read the rest
Following from Wells Fargo's 2,000,000-account fraud against its own customers -- part of a decade-old pattern -- the state of California has imposed sanctions on the bank, freezing it out of bond issues, brokerage business, and suspending all investment in Wells Fargo-issued securities.
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Books related to my new book The Inevitable that I have found useful:
Magic and Loss by Virginia Heffernan: Treats the digital world as a great work of art. The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos: Best book to date on artificial intelligence. Machines of Loving Grace by John Markoff: Best book to date on robots. Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock: Why predicting is hard and how to get better at it. Pogue’s Basics by David Pogue: Extremely practical tips for techno-literacy. — Kevin Kelly
I’m a big Welcome to Night Vale fan, a community news podcast about a fictional town plagued by paranormal and spooky events. Besides listening to the podcast, I prioritized my Facebook feed to see their absurd status updates first. They always make me smile. Example: “Scientists discover a new species of spider on the back of your shirt. ‘Oh wow. It’s crazy big. Good luck,’ their press release reads.” — Claudia Lamar
When it comes to airplane food, I agree with Anthony Bourdain: it’s better to go hungry. But I don’t like going hungry so I pack snacks with me. One of my favorites is the Graze Bar. It’s a tasty, chewy stick of grass fed beef containing no sugar, gluten, or MSG. — Mark Frauenfelder
Hopper is a smartphone app that predicts when airfare to a desired destination will be the cheapest. Read the rest
Science fiction author Ted Chiang's Nebula award-winning short story "Story of Your Life" is getting the big-budget Hollywood treatment. Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, comes out in November.
When multiple mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team is put together to investigate, including language expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams), mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army soldier Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Humankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers – and to find them, Banks, Donnelly and Weber will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and quite possibly humanity.
"Story of Your Life" appears in the anthology of Chiang stories, Stories of Your Life and Others. Cory gave me a copy years ago and it is excellent. Read the rest
The ethics of torturing robots is not a new question, but it's becoming more important as robots and AI becomes more lifelike. Author Ted Chiang explored it in his 2010 novella, The Lifecycle of Software Objects. In 1998 I wrote an article for Wired Online called "Virtual Sadism" about people who liked to torture artificial life forms called "norns" (and a movement of norn lovers who tried to stop them). In 1977 Terrel Miedaner wrote a philosophical science fiction novel called The Soul of Anna Klan, which featured a little Roomba like creature that seems to be afraid to "die" when someone tries to crush it with a hammer. (An excerpt from the novel appears in the excellent book, The Mind's I: Fantasies And Reflections On Self & Soul, edited by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett.)
Dylan Love of Inverse revisits the idea of robot abuse in his article for Inverse, "Is it OK to torture a robot?"
Consider the latest robot to be unveiled by Google’s Boston Dynamics. When the collective internet saw a bearded scientist abuse the robot with a hockey stick, weird pangs of empathy went out everywhere. Why do we feel so bad when we watch the robot fall down, we wonder? There’s no soul or force of life to empathize with, and yet: This robot is just trying to lift a box, why does that guy have to bully it?
The Boston Dynamics video reminded me of the inflatable Bozo men, meant to be abused:
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The knighthood of Star Wars is neither Galactic nor an Order.
Ted Chiang (previously) may be the best short story writer in science fiction today; though he produces very infrequently, he wins accolades and awards for every story.
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Locust Moon Press's Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream is a kickstarted tribute to Winsor McKay's seminal Jazz Age comic strip, with contributions from Peter Bagge, Paul Pope, Charles Vess, Carla Speed McNeil, Bill Sienkiewicz and many others.
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There are no pictures of Greg Egan online, and his website has a disclaimer that while some of his more dedicated fans claimed to have tracked down a picture of the author, it’s not him.
We dig into the first four stories from Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others, and boy do we learn a lot about ourselves and others. Plus you'll want to take your vitamins since Margaret Atwood's latest novel won't be available to read for 100 years and we explore the idea of regaining your literary virginity.
Show notes for this episode
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The Clarion Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego has announced its lineup of instructors for the 2014 session, and it's pretty spectacular: this year's writer-instructors are Gregory Frost, Geoff Ryman, Catherynne Valente, N.K. Jemisin, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer.
Clarion is a six-week, intensive boot-camp for science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction writers. It counts among its graduates some of the very greatest writers in the field, from Octavia Butler to Bruce Sterling, as well as Lucius Sheppard, Kathe Koja, Nalo Hopkinson, Eileen Gunn, James Patrick Kelly, Ted Chiang, Tim Pratt, Tobias Buckell, and many others.
I'm an alumnus myself, as well as a frequent instructor and a member of the volunteer board of the Clarion Foundation, the nonprofit 501(c)3 that oversees the workshop. Clarion isn't the only way to become a better writer and to learn about the industry and how to earn a living in it, but it is absolutely one of the best. My own experience in 1992 was life-changing for me, and has left me committed to the workshop for life.
Applications close on March 1, 2014.
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