The Rochester Institute of Technology has announced America's "first minor in free and open source software and free culture
." (Thanks, Stephen!
Mack writes, "XyloVan is a roving musical mutant vehicle that our family built four years ago. Thousands of musicians, kids, Burners and amateur XyloVanists have enjoyed banging on the van, everywhere we've taken it.
But its weird old heart blew a gasket last summer on the way to the playa, and we had to have it towed home.
We're raising money to give it a new motor, some front-end work and general upgrades to get it back on the road, plus we're building a strobing, pulsing new lights-and-sound system for its reappearance this summer in Black Rock City, NV.
Please give our Indiegogo campaign a look - we're offering some pretty neat hand-machined perks to our generous donors. Thanks!"
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On Hackaday, Shenzhen demonstrates some proof-of-concept "taser-proof clothing" created by adding carbon fiber to the clothes' lining. The carbon fiber textile can be procured in a variety of forms, including upholstery fabric (58" wide, $19.50/yard) and
peel-and-stick 50cm tape rolls (this is vinyl, not carbon fiber). Shenzhen claims this will work even if the taser's prongs get to the wearer's body: "Electric current flows through the carbon tape and not through the human body. Always. Even if the taser's needle pierced the skin."
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From the journal Science China: Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, February 2014.
On its 40th anniversary, iconic splatterpunk film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been restored with a new 4K transfer from the original 16mm film shot by director Tobe Hooper in 1974. A production of Dark Sky Films, the new print premieres at SXSW on Monday, March 10 with wide theatrical release over the summer.
"I haven't seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre on the big screen for many, many years," Hooper says. "This 40th anniversary restoration is absolutely the best the film has ever looked. The color and clarity is spectacular, displaying visual details in the film that were never before perceptible. The newly remastered 7.1 soundtrack breathes new life and energy into the film. I am very much looking forward to audiences experiencing this film as they never have before".
Leatherface had no comment.
One year ago today
Politely refusing to talk to DHS checkpoints: Top quote: "Am I being detained?"
Five years ago today
The Economist: the "least bad" way to deal with drug problem is to legalize them: Next week ministers from around the world gather in Vienna to set international drug policy for the next decade. Like first-world-war generals, many will claim that all that is needed is more of the same. In fact the war on drugs has been a disaster,
Ten years ago today
Martian Hidden Mickey: The Spirit rover's stainless steel brushes on its Rock Abrasion Tool left behind a hidden Mickey on one of Mars's rocks.
In this International Labour Office complaint, Miranda Brown, a former employee of the World Intellectual Property Agency, alleges that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally collected DNA samples from WIPO staffers in order to out a whistleblower. The complaint stems from Gurry's campaign to secure the Director General's job, during which an anonymous staffer posted letters alleging that Gurry engaged in sexual harassment and financial improprieties. Brown, who was forced to resign, says that Gurry secretly directed UN security officers to covertly collect lipstick, dental floss, and other personal items from WIPO staffers in order to attain DNA samples that could be used to identify the letters' author. Gurry is also implicated in a multi-million dollar construction scandal over the building of the new WIPO HQ, which took place when he was legal counsel to the agency.
The entire affair is incredibly sordid, with multiple cover-ups. The complaint paints a picture of a reign of absolute terror, with staffers fearful of reprisals from Gurry over any questioning or reporting of a pattern of bullying, impropriety, harassment and defamation. Having served as a delegate to WIPO, I find it all rather easy to believe. I have never encountered a body more openly corrupt in my life.
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL [PDF]
(Image: HL Dialogue No 3, ICT Innovations and Standards, a CC-BY image from itupictures)
An Instagram post from cronut creator Dominique Ansel announced his new invention: a milk-tumbler made out of molded, baked chocolate cookie dough intended for serving milk. The "Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shots" will debut at SXSW.
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Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."
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Illustration: Adam "ApeLad" Koford
Headed to 2014 SXSW Interactive in Austin this weekend? Cory, Xeni, Mark, and Pesco will all be there participating in a variety of sessions. Here's a handy guide:
* Saturday, March 8, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, SXSW Create Long Center: "Cool Tools Show & Tell" Bring your favorite tool (hand tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices, gizmos, websites — and anything useful) and be prepared to talk about it and (if feasible) demonstrate it to other cool tools enthusiasts. Presented by Mark Frauenfelder
* Saturday, March 8, 7pm - 11:30pm, Capitol Tower: "In the Future, Everything Will Work: A Cyberpunk Retrofest presented by EFF/EFF-Austin" with Cory Doctorow, Gareth Branwyn, Bruce Sterling, William Barker (Schwa) and Jon Lebkowsky
* Sunday, March 9, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, Omni Downtown: "Ingenuity: Hackathon Uncovered" with David Pescovitz, Mark Frauenfelder, Eric McClellan (Team Detroit), and Liz Boone (FM).
* Monday, March 10: 9:30am - 10:30am, Austin Convention Center: "Snowden 2.0: A Field Report From the NSA Archives" with Cory Doctorow and Barton Gellman.
* Monday, March 10, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, Hilton Austin Downtown: "Community-Building: Better than Chemo" with Xeni Jardin, Alicia Staley, Deanna Attai, and Jody Schoger.
Hope to see your happy mutant mugs in Austin! Ask us for stickers!
The CIA did not invent the concept of coming up with ludicrous, flaw-filled ways to kill someone. Around 1530, artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne wrote a treatise on gunpowder-enhanced warfare that featured suggestions for (and illustrations of) bombs and rockets carried on the backs of birds or cats. Scholars generally agree none of these ideas ever came to fruition. If, for no other reason, than an animal-carried bomb is liable to set your own camp on fire, rather than that of the enemy.
From the Helm document: "Create a small sack like a fire-arrow. If you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited."
Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect, studies why it’s so hard for us to disregard the digital disruptions around us. Tanya Schevitz, spokesperson for Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging, talked to Steiner-Adair about our aversion to disconnecting and the power of real presence.
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Robotic, Department-of-Defense funded, and power performance enhanced — high-tech replacement limbs make for great photos and video clips. And the people who wear them — often veterans, or well-off patients going through an inspirational recovery after an eye-popping accident — make for great media storytelling. But those stories don't represent the vast majority of amputees, writes Rose Eveleth at NOVA Next, and the high-tech prosthetics that get all the attention aren't always the best option to meet everyday needs.
In one study that explored the needs of amputee farmers, the researchers interviewed a man who was given a myoelectric arm—something that is not only expensive, but also completely unsuited for farm work. Myoelectric devices cannot get wet or dirty, two things that are nearly guaranteed during a day of farming. The farmer in question simply kept the arm in his closet—a $100,000 device sitting there gathering dust.Radocy’s body-powered hand can outperform even the most advanced myoelectric hands. It’s not just farmers for whom specialty electric devices aren’t quite right either. When it comes to everyday users, myoelectric arms or microprocessor knees, for all their amazing technology, are sometimes not the best option. Radocy, an upper limb amputee, is an advocate for what are called body-powered prostheses. Rather than being controlled by a computer or sensors, a body-powered arm is far more like a series of bicycle brakes—the arm is strapped to the users body, and connected to a series of cables. By twisting his body one way or another, Radocy can open and close his hand. The system may seem low-tech, but Radocy argues that when it comes to performance, his body-powered hand can outperform even the most advanced myoelectric hands.
Hiland writes, "The auction website Hakes is featuring a bunch of things from the estate of Maurice Sendak. A particular one of note is the miniature Lindbergh Baby kidnapping trial souvenir wooden ladder."
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