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Schoolly D: Inventor of Gangster Rap

This week’s Hip Hop Family Tree covers Gangster Boogie by Schoolly D, an influential artist who inspired the west coast direction spearheaded by Ice T and NWA.

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From Page to Screen: Joseph Delaney on The Last Apprentice Series

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Some people think that being a writer is glamorous. I know that I once did. I dreamed of finally getting published and all the amazing fun that would follow. I imagined traveling to distant countries, staying in city hotels and seeing the sights.

Most of these dreams came true and I do enjoy it, but sometimes it can be hard work: having to grab a coffee and manage without breakfast to be in time to travel to some school event; attending a bookshop when hardly anybody turns up; spending a night alone in a strange town on a wet Monday; visiting a big city but seeing only the inside of your hotel room. So when you actually do live the life of a writer, it’s not as glamorous as some people might believe.

The same is true of filmmaking. In the spring of 2012, I visited Vancouver, Canada, to watch the movie version of The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (published in the UK as The Spook’s Apprentice) being made. The film is called Seventh Son, and the name is a good choice. After all you have to be a seventh son of a seventh son just to be eligible to become a spook’s apprentice.

They have created some amazing sets, designed by Dante Ferretti, winner of an Oscar for his work on Hugo. I was shown the preliminary models and artworks, then the sets themselves. They are very big and very convincing. I saw a walled city set in a huge muddy field. It was like a building site, complete with heavy machinery and workers in hard hats. There was no glamour there.

That comes afterward.

I met Jeff Bridges, who plays the Spook. He looked convincing. He believed that he was the Spook—I could see it in his eyes. Yes, he was the Spook! Then I watched him playing the same scene over and over again until he and everyone else (especially the director, Sergei Bodrov), were satisfied. There were a lot of people involved, and each one of them knew exactly what to do. It was an action scene and the Spook kept falling backward against a pillar, in danger of his life. He was covered in dust and he probably had bruises or at least aching bones the following day. It wasn’t glamorous. It was hard work.

The glamour comes later.

After four months of filming, post-production began. They spent hours, days, weeks, and months editing the film until each section was perfect. Now, like a Pendle witch casting the spell called “glamour,” the film comes to life and the magic will be there.

Is it a good film? The answer is yes. I watched a special preview of Seventh Son in Paris in a small private cinema belonging to Universal Studios.

Is it spectacular? The answer is yes. I watched it in 3-D, and there is a great deal of action, conflict, and combat. There are creatures of the dark that lurch out of the screen and try to remove your head, your heart, or maybe even your thumb bones. And there are witches; lots and lots of witches.

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Scientific American and fansubbers help video spread in Hungary

Dean from Amara writes, "Editors at Scientific American noticed they were getting a TON of hits on the video What Happens to Your Body after You Die? To their surprise, the majority of the views were originating in Hungary."

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Photo: “Cyborgia“

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Larger size here.

From the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, shot and shared by reader John K. Goodman.

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Watch the awesome way one Rhode Island school told students it was closed for snow day

This unbelievably awesome musical message came from the principal at Moses Brown School, an independent, college-prep, Quaker day school in Providence, Rhode Island, for girls and boys in nursery through grade 12.

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America's war on leaks has gone way too far when journalists' emails spied upon

The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington. Photo: Reuters.


The exterior of the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington. Photo: Reuters.

The U.S. government’s demands for the private emails of WikiLeaks staffers is outrageous, Trevor Timm writes in the Guardian. And not liking Julian Assange is a poor reason for any of us who care about press freedom to stay silent.

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“You Shall Not Pass” area rug

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By designer Jeremy Bingham, a very funny area rug in various sizes, starting at $28.

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GHCQ and David Cameron hoaxed by prank caller high on "booze and cocaine"

The Government Communications Headquarters in Britain. Image: GHCQ/British Ministry of Defence


The Government Communications Headquarters in Britain. Image: GHCQ/British Ministry of Defence

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British officials acknowledged on Monday that a prank caller managed to social-engineer the private cell number for a top GHCQ intel chief, and phoned the prime minister in his name.

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Game of Thrones board game offers diplomacy, intrigue, and betrayal

Fans looking to get their off-season fix could do worse than setting aside a snowy Saturday for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game

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Koch brothers raise 2016 election warchest that's on par with either party's spend

The Kochs will raise $889M from conservative millionaires and billionaires to spend in the 2016 election, which, thanks to Citizens United, can be used to buy effectively unlimited political advertising to support policies that will make more money for the donors.

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Gitmo prisoner who published critically-acclaimed memoir won't be allowed to read his own book at Gitmo

Mohamedou Ould Slahi.


Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

A detainee at Guantanamo who recently published a critically acclaimed book on his life in captivity will not have the opportunity to read his own book, and neither will 121 of his fellow inmates.

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NSA-themed art


This lovely piece of NSA-surveillance-themed art comes from Anthony Freda, previously featured here for his Normal Rockwell/Ferguson piece.

(Thanks, Hugh and Anthony!)

Tiny kitchen-knife sharpener does the trick

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The Kitchen IQ Edge Grip 2-Stage Knife Sharpener set me back $6 but it was worth it.

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Hands-free workbench magnification

This is a 5-inch diameter magnifying glass mounted on a swing arm, and the assembly has a vice clamp to mount itself to the edge of a table or desk.

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SF/F writers: apply now for Clarion and Clarion West

Applications are open for both the Clarion Writing Workshop at UC San Diego and the Clarion west workshop in Seattle, a pair of legendary, six-week intensive instructional summer workshops for aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers.

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Robot snowplow from Japan eats up snow, poops out bricks

Yuki-taro is known in this part of Japan as the friendly snowbot.

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CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling convicted of espionage in NYT leak case

Jeffrey Sterling.


Jeffrey Sterling.

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling has been convicted of all 9 counts in a case that charged him with leaking classified information about a failed operation to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions to New York Times reporter James Risen.

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Viral 'speed archery' video mostly shows how gullible the internet is

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GeekDad's Jim MacQuarrie breaks down what's wrong with that very entertaining viral video with the Danish archer purportedly mastering an "ancient archery technique" that involves spraying a whole lot of arrows very very fast.

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Christian miner who refused ‘Mark of the Beast’ Antichrist biometric hand scanner awarded $150K

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A mining company employee who refused to submit to biometric hand scanning because he feared the scanner would imprint him with the “Mark of the Beast,” was awarded $150,000 in damages by a federal jury last week.

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Google strong-arms indie musicians into accepting brutal, crowdfunding-killing deal for streaming service


Google is launching a new, Youtube-branded streaming music service, with the cooperation of the Big Four labels, who got to negotiate the terms of their participation -- unlike the indie musicians, who have been told that they will be exiled from Youtube altogether unless they make it their most-favored-nation distribution service, without the possibility of holding back tracks for backers on services like Kickstarter or Patreon.

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Watch: how to laser etch metal surfaces to make them either love or hate water

Researchers at the University of Rochester are laser etching the surfaces of metal in ways that make them attract water or repel water. The video here shows how remarkably effective the treatment is. [via]

Seagulls dislike robot seagull

Mike Evans (who runs the fantastic activity blog, Secret Dad Society) tried out his radio-controlled papier mache seagull on a flock of seagulls. They disliked it this time as much as they did the first time. Don't give up Mike!

Fake bank in China scams $32 million from customers

fake-bankPromising 2% a week interest, this phony Chinese bank, "with LED screens and counters manned by people dressed like bank staff" took victim's cash and kept it for themselves. They operated for a year, raking in $32 million.

Police want Waze to remove cop-spotting feature

Sheriffs are demanding that the Google-owned Waze navigation app remove a safety feature that alerts drivers about police cars parked on the side of the freeway.

With zero evidence to support their argument, the sheriffs say the feature is a stalking tool for cop-killers.

I suspect the real reason cops don't like the feature is because it encourages people to drive under the speed limit, which results in fewer speeding tickets and lost revenue from fines.

A Waze spokeswoman, Julie Mossler, said the company thinks deeply about safety and security. She said Waze works with the New York Police Department and others around the world by sharing information. Google declined to comment.

"These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion,'' Mossler said.

French couple forbidden from naming their child Nutella

nutrition“The name ‘Nutella’ given to the child is the trade name of a spread. And it is contrary to the child’s interest to be wearing a name like that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts.” - Judge's ruling against French couple who wants to name their baby after a hazelnut-cocoa spread.

Gorgeous laser-cut cosmic objects: HYBYCOZO, the Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone

tumblr_nir7w3wQ9o1rv33k2o10_500 The Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone is a series of “sublime, laser cut cosmic objects, ranging from a Burning Man art installation to design pieces for the home.”

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Beautiful olde-timey GIF art from the Gif Opera Cabinet

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Lovely, evocative animated GIFs from classic source materials.

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Barrett Brown’s sentence is unjust, but it may become the norm for journalists

Jailed, in part, because he shared a link to a stolen document that he did not steal, and despite the fact that this is not a crime.

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Plan C: The top secret Cold War plan for martial law in the USA


Michael from Muckrock sez, "Starting on April 19, 1956, the federal government practiced and planned for a near-doomsday scenario known as Plan C. When activated, Plan C would have brought the United States under martial law, rounded up over ten thousand individuals connected to 'subversive' organizations, implemented a censorship board, and prepared the country for life after nuclear attack. There was no Plan A or B."

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The Big Book of Maker Skills: tools and techniques for building great tech projects

I know Chris Hackett from my days as editor-in-chief of MAKE. This guy knows his stuff.

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