31 communities vow to create local gigabit broadband

Across the US, 31 communities have joined forces to make the dream of fast, affordable, and reliable gigabit-speed broadband a local reality. The Next Century Cities program, launched this week, hopes to defeat the forces holding broadband back. The 31 inaugural signatories are:

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Kickstarting Chris Locke's book of post-it note portraits

Christopher Locke (modern fossils, TSA confiscation sculptures, adult coloring book) sez, "I want to hand-draw a few hundred portraits on Post-It Notes, then compile them into a book, so I'm asking people to buy the portraits in order to fund the project: $25 gets you hand-drawn likeness of yourself, arriving in the mail and suitable for framing. The process will help me in teaching middle-schoolers about dedication to long-term projects."

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Wolfgang Pauli opera in Austin: For Fear the Glass May Shatter


Jon Lebkowsky sez, "My amazing friend, neurocomputing specialist, musician & composer David Demaris has created the most geek-tastic opera ever, For Fear the Glass May Shatter. It's been produced as part of Austin's Fusebox Festival, and is running through this weekend at the Vortex Theatre here."

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Film about Austin's psychedelic history

Austin60

Dirt Road To Psychedelia is a documentary about the underground culture and music scene in Austin, Texas during the 1960s. Above is the trailer.

"With a folk-singing Janis Joplin, the 13th Floor Elevators, peyote, LSD and the first psychedelic music venue in Texas, Austin was a fertile ground for the emerging counterculture of the 1960s," says director Scott Conn.

If you're lucky enough to be in Waxahachie, Texas this Sunday (3/23), check it out live at the wunderkammer that is the Webb Gallery as part of their "Big Hair & Sparkly Pants" Texas-themed group art show. You can also buy the DVD on Amazon.

Edward Snowden to speak at SXSW


The ACLU and SXSW will host a video chat with Edward Snowden on Monday, during the day's civil-liberties-focused program track. I'll be speaking immediately before Snowden, with Barton Gellman, and we will be staying for the Snowden event. Snowden will be interviewed by ACLU technologist Christopher Soghoian, and the event is moderated by the ACLU's Ben Wizner. I hope to see you there -- it's why I'm flying to Austin.

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Austin cops violently crack down on scourge of anonymous jaywalking

Jonl sez, "Streets near the University of Texas at Austin today are safer, thanks to quick and effective action by the local police, who caught and arrested a jogger, observed wearing a pony tail, black shorts, and a headset in the area. She was apparently menacing traffic by crossing the street in a manner construed as 'jaywalking,' however her apparent arrest was due to her failure to provide identification: i.e., she was guilty not just of jaywalking, but of anonymous jaywalking."

Woman arrested on 24th street after crossing intersection (Thanks, Jonl!)

Speaking at SXSW with Barton Gellman about Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance

I'll be returning to SXSW Interactive this March for the first time in more than five years, to interview Pulitzer-winning journalist Barton Gellman, who is one of the journalists who's been entrusted with some of the Snowden NSA leaks. We're doing a presentation called "Snowden 2.0: A Field Report From the NSA Archives," which follows an address by Glenn Greenwald. We're speaking on March 10 -- I hope to see you!

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Unicorn farts: the smell of April Fool's day


Lizzy writes from Austin's magnificent toy emporium Toy Joy:

Here at Toy Joy, April Fools Day smells like Unicorns! Specifically, Unicorn Farts! Not only is April 1 celebrated globally as a holiday of mischief, it also happens to be the best day for harvesting the rarest of poots: Unicorn Farts! Currently offered both in store at Toy Joy and at ToyJoy.com for the low price of $2.95, this enchanted product is sure to bring a smile to your prince or princess.

* 100% Organic Concentrated Unicorn Farts
* Unique Addition to Most Fart Collections!
* Important Ingredient for Magic Spells.
* Handy Household Fragrance.
* Delicious on Salads!

We anticipate a high demand for these rarest of odors, and recommend stocking up on this magical product. Unicorn Farts won't be around forever!

Please feel free to contact the wizarding team at Toy Joy for additional information on this product, or the harvesting process. Send all emails to questions@toyjoy.com.

Austin Chronicle on Aaron Swartz and the future of computers

Happy Mutant (and EFF-Austin co-founder) Jon Lebkowsky has a great piece in the new Austin Chronicle about Aaron Swartz, privacy, copyright, and the future of computers:

It's an odd predicament, seeing your customer as the enemy. Attempts by the music industry to protect its control of distribution have risked alienation of a customer base that has a multiplicity of channels for free and low-cost alternatives via cyberspace, including a bazillion "Internet radio" channels; online services like Pandora, Last.FM, and Spotify; savvy artists distributing their own tunes online; and, of course, various file-sharing sites like the Pirate Bay. Even with the "pirate" sources out of the way, record labels would be hurting, because they no longer control distribution. The same is true for all media. Distribution channels are more ad hoc, product is abundant, it's cheap or free, and competition for whatever dollars are still flowing is fierce.

Invaluable Information: Technology, privacy, hacking, and legislating in the new digital age - Screens - The Austin Chronicle

Makerspace at SXSW

Aaron sez, "SXSW Create is a free and open to the public event during SXSW Interactive that will showcase local and national hackers, makers, and creators. It is a hands-on, interactive, and exciting event intended to showcase creativity and innovation that will inspire and encourage others to create themselves. It is located at 101 Red River, directly behind the Austin Convention Center."

Reversible Hello Kitty Hamburger

Like I mentioned in the Blooming Flower post, I'm headed home with a suitcase full of dirty laundry and toys for my five year old. Another awesome score from this trip is the Hello Kitty Reversible 8" Plush: Hamburger, a plush Hello Kitty toy that inverts and forms a Hello Kitty hamburger. It's a thing, then it's another thing! (And there's a turkey version, too).

This thing is pretty spectacular in person. I bought it on recommendation of a nice sales clerk at Austin, TX's Toy Joy, where you can buy bats by the scoopful marvel at the Spider Duck.

If you're headed to SXSW, you should really get all your friends in a taxi and ride out to Toy Joy and then eat some of the spectacular barbecue at Ruby's BBQ, kitty-corner from the shop. It's pretty much the perfect outing, and at least as cool (if not cooler) than anything you'll actually see presented on the conference floor.

Spider Duck


Scenes from a book-tour, part sqrt(-1): the SPIDER DUCK, at Austin's magnificent Toy Joy.

Spider Duck, Toy Joy, Austin, TX, USA

Cory in Austin tonight!

Hey, Austin! I'm in town today, doing an event at Book People at 7PM, and then an EFF-Austin benefit. Saturday, I'm in Portsmouth, NH, then on Sunday I'm in Nashua, NH. Cory

EFF-Austin benefit after Cory's Book People event on Feb 22


After my event at Austin's Book People on Feb 22, I'll be doing a benefit for EFF-Austin on their location privacy campaign. We did this the last time I came through town and it was tremendous -- come on out!

An evening with Cory Doctorow and EFF-Austin

Austin loses an icon of High Weirdness: Albert Leslie Cochran, homeless, thong-wearing, would-be mayor


Photo: Leslie Cochran at rest at an Austin intersection in 1998 (Vernon Bryant, The Austin American-Statesman via NYT)

New York Times reporter and native Texas son John Schwartz writes about the death of Albert Leslie Cochran, 60: "A bearded, cross-dressing, often homeless Austinite who was also an occasional candidate for mayor."

Wearing a cheerleader’s uniform, a tutu or a simple thong, accessorized with a feather boa or tiara, Mr. Cochran was an eye-catching figure in a city where eccentricity is nothing special. A popular bumper sticker, “Keep Austin Weird,” is the rallying cry of a place that resists the civic homogenization that can turn every town into pretty much every other town. “When people see the bumper sticker, they think of Leslie,” said Debbie Russell, a local activist and friend.

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