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Reminder! You can now jump between posts on the front door of Boing Boing by hitting J and K. It should work on most browsers. Any similar UI requests? Under consideration: L to go to the next 30 posts; and the Konami Code to trigger a unicorn invasion.

Design the Haggis Beast competition winners

Ecce Haggis! In response to a survey that found one in five Britons believes the Haggis is a beast that roams the highlands, we asked you to design what this cryptozoological fancy might look like. Brynn Metheney's awesome digital painting, cast against expectations of devilish furry things, takes the prize! Which is a Verizon Droid Eris cellphone. More after the jump!

Read the rest

Google maps goes bike-tacular, just in time for spring


"Bicycle" is now an option for mode of transport in Google maps. Ostensibly, the directions given will help you avoid particularly nasty car traffic and particularly disheartening elevation changes, though Treehugger found some kinks in that when they tried to plot a route across San Francisco. There's not enough uphill slogs in Minneapolis (and I don't know St. Paul well enough) to get you a real solid second opinion from the Twin Cities. But it was smart enough to not send theoretical me biking straight up the feels-like-45-degree incline of 14th street when asked for directions to the University of Kansas journalism school (see above).

It also shows dedicated bike trails and bike lanes, to help plan the trip.

How's this work for your hometown?

LA Weekly's best twitterer

@xenijardin is LA Weekly's best twitterer of the year. Good Job, Xeni!

Envy 15 competition winner

It gives me great pleasure to announce that your submissions to our latest short fiction competition have earned Boing Boing the top spot at Google for the search term "literary travesties." We are all winners today.

Only one of you, however, gets the $1,800 Envy 15 laptop offered by HP. The theme was "Re-write a scene from one classic book in the incongruous literary style of another." This was insanely difficult to judge; more than ever, selecting a winner feels more like the rejection of countless brilliant efforts. After the jump, the victor and more favorites.

Read the rest

Boing Boing mobile edition live

Cellphone users should now be served with a lite version of the site, hosted by Mobify. We'll be tweaking the look in the coming days, but it's already much faster to download on slow connections.

100-word fiction contest: Vote for the winner!

Response to our 100-word fiction contest, "Found in Space," was overwelming: some 80,000 words of entries! Having gone through them as best we can, we've whittled it down to a handful of finalists. Forgive us if we've missed something magical: With such a vast number of entries, it's easy to miss a beat!

Frankly, making decisions is hard. Whim guides our hand. So why don't you make the final decision? Read the finalists, then vote below on who gets the HP MediaSmart server. Poll closes in 24 hours.

P.S. -- there are runner-up prizes, too!

Update! Reader femaletrouble3 wins an HP MediaSmart for this entry in our 100-word fiction contest. Runner up acrocker wins a Peek Pronto. Winners, email Rob at Boing Boing dot net for your loot!

Read the rest

"Haiku" competition winner

The winner of our iPhone Disappointment Haiku competition is Kent Geek, who gets a Mophie Juice Pack:

Winter In Akron
Loved one calling for romance
Off faster, damned gloves!

Runner up! Kleer001 wins the 2009 Seriousness in Gadget Blog Commenting award, with his or her imaginative rendering of the "AT&T sucks!" theme that dominated the 200 entries received.

I bought this black box.
Spoon fed the revolution.
Ashes in my mouth.

Winners, please email rob (@ the usual domain) for your swag.

Lamprey Construction Crew

When I posted about the lives of lovable native lampreys a couple weeks ago, commenter Allegra pointed me to some great videos of vegetarian lamprey in Vancouver's Morrison Creek. For the first couple seconds of watching, I honestly mistook the lamprey for water plants. And then they started building nests and spawning. Which plants don't tend to do.

This video shows a group of male and female lamprey building a nest by moving small stones with their sucker mouths. There's more videos of lamprey working together to build nests if you follow the link. Cool stuff! The group that put this together, the Morrison Creek Streamkeepers, also have a photo page that explains how to tell the difference between a girl lamprey and a boy lamprey--if I haven't burned you out on animal sex this week already.

10 Million Bats, and David Attenborough

The title really says it all. Follow this link to see a metric crap-ton of fruit bats (the largest such gathering in the world) converge on a remote swamp in Zambia--an area only about the size of two or three soccer fields.

To take the shots, BBC camera crew had to swoop in on a powered hot-air balloon. Because there were so many bats that a helicopter couldn't fly. Oh. My. God.


Boing Boing: The World's Greatest Neurozine!

World's Greatest Neurozine!Read the rest

Today is 24 hour Comics Day!


Doctor Popular says,

Today is 24hour Comic Book Day. Cartoonists all over the world will be taking part in the challenge of creating an entire 24 page comic book in just one day. Robots Don't Know Anything About Twitter, which was featured on BB a few weeks ago, was created as part of last years 24HCBDay!

Here are some links: Nationwide, in SF, in Minneapolis, in Albuquerque

Image: snapshot from 24HCBDay in New Mexico in 2006, by baaadasssscomics. Also, here's a Flickr pool.

Comment Policy

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The American Burqini, and modesty throughout the ages.

The American BurqiniRead the rest

Suggest links with Twitter!

Do you use Twitter? Now you can use it to suggest links! All you need to do is follow BBSuggest and start tweeting @ it. For example, if you're an amateur astronomer and spot a report concerning Earth's impending destruction at the hands of a planet-destroying robot the size of the moon, tweet "Unicorn chaser! [link here] @bbsuggest" -- easy! Your contributions will head into our bloggin' brains -- and then into the collective superconscioussness of the Boing Boing trend tracker, an info-dense visualization of the topics and trends hit up by BB readers. Many thanks to Palm, which is sponsoring the tracker, as you'll doubtless notice when you visit it.

Two Muslim guys photo-blog 30 NYC mosques in 30 days


The "30 mosques in 30 days" blog documents Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq's "Ramadan journey through NYC's Muslim Community." It's a really neat project, and ends on September 19th (the last day in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan). Snip from one post, each one is about a different mosque, all are delightful.

After the dhikr session, we broke our fast with dixie cups of water and prayed. The imam's recitation was incredible. This may sound hokey, but his voice sounded a lot like a perfect pitch violin, the way his voice glided seamlessly from letter to letter in his recitation. You couldn't help but close your eyes and take it all in. (...)

After a few minutes of breaking the ice, I mentioned the word "Call of Duty 4" and immediately a group of kids swarmed me. We had a blast during dinner cracking jokes. One thing I really love is seeing younger kids come to mosques because they genuinely enjoy being there, not because they are dragged by their parents. Its kids like these that make me feel good about where the Muslim community as a whole is headed in this country.

(via @ethanz via Global Voices)


From a 2001 story in New York magazine written a couple of weeks after the attacks, by David Carr:

# Everyone who comes after will never understand.
Not a new brand of New York provincialism but a cold fact. This is the place where the world seemed to end in a single morning. That day, as it was experienced here, was not televised.

# The jumpers will always be with us.
Faced with the most horrible of all human choices, the kind of riddle that grade-school children use to torture each other, many leaped rather than burn. And as the debris falling from the top anthropomorphized into human beings, people watching understood that for the time being, we were all beyond help. "I don't remember faces, just bodies jumping out," says Alexandra Rethore, a second-year analyst at Lehman Brothers. "And the girl next to me was hysterical. She kept saying, 'They're catching them, right?' I said, 'Yeah, they're catching them. Let's go.' " It was a noble act, a message to loved ones: "I'm gone but not lost. I'm still here. Find me."

18 Truths About the New New York (New York, 10-2001)

Worth reading today:
A Fortress City That Didn't Come to Be (NYT, 09-2009)
What Would 9-11 Be Like in the Age of Social Media? (LA Weekly, 09-2009)

Picture 13.jpg

Picture 14.jpg

Boing Boing fan art video

Strangpork sez, "Boing Boing fan art created with Quartz Composer, using appropriate iconography." Nice work! Love the repurposed Boing Boing video art!

Boing Boing Iconography / Plaid TV (Thanks, Strangpork!)

City of San Francisco promises to "open its data" with

San Franscisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced the beta launch of, a website designed as a clearinghouse for the City of San Francisco's public data. TechCrunch has this launch statement from the mayor. Here's a snip:
The new web site will provide a clearinghouse of structured, raw and machine-readable government data to the public in an easily downloadable format. For example, there will be updated crime incident data from the police department and restaurant inspection data from the Department of Public Health. The initial phase of the web site includes more than 100 datasets, from a range of city departments, including Police, Public Works, and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

We imagine creative developers taking apartment listings and city crime data and mashing it up to help renters find their next home or an iPhone application that shows restaurant ratings based on health code violations.

And here's a related item on a Gov 2.0, an O'Reilly/Techweb event/website devoted to topics of government IT.

It's a great idea, but I'm not clear on how much of this is a PR stunt, and how much is actually more open access than citizens had before the site launched. Perhaps those who've examined the actual data being offered can weigh in, in the BB comments.

I live in Los Angeles, and I hope the powers-that-be down here are watching. I'd love to see our city open data to more public access, and scrutiny. For instance, the LAPD crime maps website is great in concept, but poorly executed (not to mention the horrible data omissions). I can think of many services I'd like to see built with city data here in my home town. (via @laughingsquid)

Showdown at the 4chan corral: Doug Rushkoff

Doug Rushkoff's latest piece for the Daily Beast is something of a post-mortem on the recent Anonymous vs. AT&T internet battle, with a dash of cultural anthropology and spaghetti western for good measure. Snip:

When AT&T recently blocked access to a hugely popular hackers' Web site,, many of us Internet old-timers froze in place. It was like one of those bad Westerns, when an arrogant newcomer sits down in the saloon, and then insults the baddest, most trigger-happy gunslinger in the county. People move to the side of the room, climb under tables, and wait for the shots to fly.

The 4Chan community--a diehard, if ever-changing assortment of the Net's most-desperate, most-anonymous, and most-wanted, well, punks--smelled censorship, top-down control, and an evil corporation trying to keep down the world's last squat for hackers. They went batshit. The site's founder posted a note telling his minion's to write and complain to AT&T, and the dog whistle having been heard, a posse called "Project AT&T," quickly formed, dedicated to revenge.

It turns out AT&T was really just trying to protect the site, and its own servers, from a typical "denial of service" attack. (Hackers create a feedback loop of pings and requests that overloads the target Web site.) AT&T's solution--to move 4Chan to a new IP address--was crude but ultimately effective. Project AT&T called a temporary truce, the bar piano started playing again, and the world went back to normal.

But the whole episode reminded me that, in spite of the Web's seemingly secure and consumer-friendly facade, there is still some Wild West left out there. And 4Chan is the OK Corral. So like a middle-aged Australian businessman going on walkabout, I decided to spend a couple of weeks embedded in this famously depraved, raucously fertile community.

The Web's Dirtiest Site (Daily Beast)

Doug's new book: Life, Inc.

The Five Faces of Comic-Con

What the look at left says, according to a Comic-Con facial analysis essay at "How am I going to get from the Burn Notice panel discussion, which ends at 3:30 p.m. and features my man Bruce Campbell, to the can't-miss Q+A with James Cameron about Avatar, which starts at 3 p.m.? Without a time machine, I mean? Sheer force of will, that's how. But hell, it would be pretty cool if I had a time machine." (thanks, coates)

The Marshallese in Arkansas and other unexpected diasporas

Dylan Thuras is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Dylan is a travel blogger and the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura: A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica, with Joshua Foer.

Marshallese Sea Turtle.png

A friend of mine just returned to the US after a year spent teaching, spear fishing, and eating giant clams in the Marshall islands. The Marshall islands are most known for being home to Bikini Atoll site of the U.S. nuclear tests. (It is also home to the Cactus Dome, a gigantic concrete slab built to cover the enormous pile of radioactive dirt left behind.) One of the interesting things my friend told me is that the largest group of Marshallese living outside the islands can be found at the foothills of the Ozarks in Springfield Springdale, Arkansas.

The Marshallese diaspora can be traced to one man, a Marshallese man named John Moody who took a job at Tyson Chicken in the 1980s. When he returned home to the islands, he let everyone know that there were jobs available at Tyson and that he would help people get setup in Springdale. Unfortunately the Arkansas Marshallese diaspora hasn't been much of a boon to the islands, with most of the money going out of the islands and into Arkansas to help with the expenses of America. Today roughly 6,000-8,000 Marchellese live in Springdale, and at a given time fifty percent of Tyson Chicken's floor staff are from the Marshall islands. The Marshallese do not generally wear shoes inside, and work at Tyson barefoot with mesh booties covering their feet. You will also note a large number of CB antennas on cars in the area as the Marshallese tend to use CB radios, as they do on the islands, rather then cell phones to communicate.

This also reminded me of another unexpected diaspora I had read about, the large Mennonite community in Belize. Roughly 10,000 Russian Mennonites live in Belize, farming the land and living according to their religious beliefs. All of which leads me to the question, what are some other unexpected diasporas around the world? A good overview of the Marshallese in Arkansas can be found here

Open Video Conference in NYC June 19-20: Discount for BB Readers, Xeni Speaking


The Open Video Conference takes place June 19-20 in New York, and the event promises ample awesomeness. Speakers include, NYU's Clay Shirky, Harvard's Yochai Benkler, DVD Jon, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, EFF's Corynne McSherry, and many many more. I'll be delivering a keynote on Saturday afternoon.

Check out the full agenda here.

The organizers have kindly granted a discount for friends of Boing Boing: 15% off for regular/corporate attendees (you have to sign up before Monday 15th). Use this link. Entry includes access to the two-day event, lunch on both days, and a video remix dance party on Friday night! W00t.

About the Open Video Conference:

At this very moment, in 2009, we have a chance to ensure that internet video retains key characteristics of the internet at large. It's still early and things are looking good, but we need devices that play nice with each other, networks that aren't totally neutered, and playback and production tools that are low-cost (ideally free/open source) and easy to use. Developments like Hulu are interesting for the user, because they can watch what they want, when they want. But we don't want internet video to be a glorified TV on demand service. We want video to be a dynamic medium that invites clipping, archival, remix, collage, repurposing, and many other uses that are currently inhibited by law or by lack of tools.
Hope you'll join me there! - XJ

Do you make chiptunes? Help us score these retro-videos.

Here's the deal: Boing Boing has come into possession of some wicked footage of an anonymous Atari Computer Camp excursion that has everything you could ever want from grainy stock video: namely, yellowed and over-saturated money shots of retro-tech, and a bevy of over-eager and still-innocent pre-teens banging out BASIC to make crossword crosses out of the words Van Halen (no joke!) and gawping at the awesome limitless power and future of computers. Here's the catch: neither of the videos -- the first clocking in at about seven minutes, and the second coming in at seven and a half -- have any sound at all. And so: given Offworld/Boing Boing's sizable audience of chiptune/junk-tech musicians, we thought we'd throw the score open to you. If you're interested in submitting some of your music for the videos, which will be broadcast on BBtv at a later date, send an email to with the subject line "Atari Computer Camp" and we'll dig through and select our favorites from there. Bonus points awarded for (but certainly not limited to) composing on actual 8-bit Atari tech. See the original post on Offworld for more inspirational shots of the kids at work (and play).

Car Culture and the Fate of the "Urban Manatee"

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.

As we all learned in preschool, Muppets are native to New York City, and once freely roamed (in a floppy, yet oddly stiff-limbed sort of way) the whole of the five boroughs. Sadly, those days have passed. But now, kindly urban planning wonks are hoping that new, livable-streets initiatives can help the good old days return.

In the early part of the 1900s, Zozos - large, furry, innocent, purple creatures - once freely roamed New York City's streets, and were seen frequently mingling among its denizens and enjoying the public realm. But with the advent of the automobile their numbers slowly dwindled, until the 1930s when sightings became rare and they were thought to go extinct. But now thanks to a burgeoning livable streets movement and a marked improvement in public spaces in NYC, Zozo sightings have been reported. World-renowned crypto-zoologist Donald Druthers has convinced us to document the facts - and yes, it looks like Zozos could be making a comeback! See the evidence for yourself."

Reaching for the Apocalypse

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.

The most intriguing, and hard to pin down, questions I've gotten from readers over the past few days have revolved around overblown crises, fear, and why news organizations (and the public) seem to <3 both those things. People cite SARS and the 2006 bird flu publicity blitz, and wonder why the media is so quick to turn into Marvin the Paranoid Android, jumping in every five seconds with, "So this is it, we're all going to die."

First off, it seems pretty clear to me that this phenomenon does happen. While there are some things the media gets unfairly beaten up over, this isn't one of them. As Tom Fiedler, dean of Boston University's College of Communication and former editor of the Miami Herald told the Washington Post this week,

We [meaning the media] have a tendency to reach for the apocalyptic, but the apocalypse hasn't reached us yet."

Obviously, some of this has to do with the format of a modern 24-hour, non-stop news cycle. Unlike 30 years ago, when your news came in fits and spurts, it's now expected to be a continuous stream. But more information doesn't necessarily come along to fill that increased news hole.
If you're CNN, you've long ago committed yourself to the stream. It's a little late for Wolf Blitzer to glance down at his watch, shrug his shoulders, and say, "So that's all we know for today, folks. See ya in the morning." I think that the unconscious pressures served up by that dilemma have been the cause of EXTREME!News (WOOOooo! Rock n' Roll!) at least as often as any temple-fingered, evil-y cackling, calculated push for ratings.

But I've always thought this wasn't just a media thing. The feedback loop of positive ratings that tells CNN to keep freaking you the frack out isn't based only on them manipulating you into being captivated. As any fan of zombies can tell you, average people are going around offering a hand to the apocalypse at least as often as their heavily made-up TV news counterparts. So what gives? Why are we so fascinated with (and almost damn-near excited by) the prospect of civilization collapsing

For a good theory on that, I naturally had to turn to America's #1 Most Trusted News Source...and Philip Alcabes, a man who is surely feeling a strange mix of guilt and elation over the oddly fortuitous timing of his new book, Dread

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Philip Alcabes
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

I'm interested in y'all's thoughts on this.

For the record: I do not think swine, excuse me, H1N1 flu is just a toothless scare. This really is a virus with pandemic potential and, as has been said, you should be concerned...but not freaked out. I don't think there's a lot of point in "what ifing" this into the death of civilization.

4 Things to Consider Before You Try to Join the Amish

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.

I know, I know. The recession blows. The job you may soon lose* is stressful and unpleasant. And beards are more popular these days. But before you abandon your fast-paced lifestyle for a quieter, more-cow-filled one, I recommend consulting my book, Be Amazing. There are a few things you need to think about.

1) Can You Tell the Difference Between Amish and Mennonite?
You're never going to endear yourself to your new neighbors if you can't tell 'em apart from their theological cousins down the road. Historically the older of the two sects, Mennonites believed in plain, unadorned living and adult baptism, making them not all that different from the other Christian groups that popped up in Germany and Switzerland in the 17th century. But, around 1693, one of their members, a guy named Jakob Amman, started to get a little rowdy. Amman traveled around the countryside preaching a more hard-line version of Mennonism that called for, among other things, a return to traditional clothing, avoidance of worldly grooming trends like moustaches, mandatory un-cut beards, and the public shunning of excommunicated church members. Taking their name from Amman's, his new followers called themselves "Amish."

Over the next few hundred years, both groups did their fair share of theological off-shooting. Today, there are numerous sub-groups of both Mennonite and Amish, making it difficult to pin them down with generalities. However, in most cases, the easiest way to tell the two apart is to look for a family car--most Mennonites drive them, most Amish don't. But, just because they enjoy a faster mode of travel doesn't mean the Mennonites are ostentatious about their automobiles. In fact, it's common practice to cover any Detroit-installed chrome with black paint, just to let the world know they aren't trying to be flashy.

2) Do You Know the Best Place to Move?
Obviously, your city digs will have to go, but contrary to popular belief, the geographic epicenter of Amish life is not Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Turns out, several counties in east-central Ohio are actually home to the largest Amish community in the world--population 29,000, and growing. Each Amish family has an average of 7 children, so their numbers have seemingly doubled every 20 years since outsiders started keeping records in the 1940s.

3) Can You Find Where the In-Crowd Hangs Out?
Earn your dirt-road cred by taking a shopping trip to Spector's. This department store in Middlefield, Ohio caters to Amish customers. Since 1937, they've dealt in things like quilting supplies, fabric, and the other necessities of Amish life that can't be easily made on the farm. And with several locations around the state, it may well be the world's first Amish-centric chain store.

4) Will You Be Able to Buy a Farm?
It's harder than it sounds. There are two things working against you. First, that whole population growth issue means that every generation sees even more young men in need of a farm of their own. The other problem, however, comes from the outside. Across the country, the rural areas the Amish inhabit are rapidly becoming exurbs, and what was once farmland is being sold to make way for subdivisions and Wal-Marts--making raw land, even when it is available, prohibitively expensive. In Lancaster County, for instance, 100 acres cost as much as $1 million in 2007. Things may be a bit easier now, though, what with the bursting of the real-estate bubble. So, if you can get your hands on some good farmland, do be ready to build a lot of barns. You probably already know that Amish construct their own, and their neighbors', in massive 24-hour barn raising parties. But, because many Amish groups don't believe in using "worldly" devices like lightning rods, those hand-built barns often end up having to be re-hand-built.

The Electric Amish really are a band, and you should listen to their music.

*ETA: Thanks for the heads-up on my grammar brain-fart. It's Saturday. My brain takes the day off today.

Fon releases open meshing WiFi router

Sal sez, "Three years after Cory's novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town,' somebody actually made a router that does what the fictional mesh-network routers from the book could do. The Fonera 2.0 made by FON, (the Spanish WiFi sharing people) is released today (barring the occasional retail glitch) for 45 euros. It comes complete with OLPC's mesh-networking system. You can plug it into Ethernet or a 3G dongle. Share your bandwidth with any other router in range that implements OLPC's mesh-networking standard. The Open WRT software is designed to run on just about any hardware so you do not actually have to buy a Fonera to join the fun. The software is based on Open WRT, which in turn is based on the Linksys WRTG54G firmware which the community forced Cisco to open-source (since it made use of Busybox + Linux Kernel). As a result of this we now have a router far more featured than the most expensive access point you can get in the shops, costing a fraction of the price and based on entirely free firmware. With a few of these we could all build community networks like the one from Cory's book."

Fonera 2.0 (Thanks, Salim!)

Charles Hugh Smith: "Survival+" e-book serialized at Of Two Minds

Richard Metzger is Boing Boing's current guest blogger
Soon, I'll be taping an interview with Charles Hugh Smith and posting it here at Boing Boing. In the meantime, Charles has posted Chapter 2 of his new (free) e-book, "Survival+" at his Of Two Minds blog, which I encourage you all to visit daily. Many of you reading this are starting to wonder what society will look like: in a few months, a year from now, five years from now and Charles Hugh Smith is an indispensable thinker and tour guide for what we should be preparing for. I believe that he's one of the sharpest, smartest --and sanest-- writers around today, and I enjoy batting ideas around with him corresponding over email, some of which makes it into his more informal columns. I'm pleased and grateful to have a forum here at Boing Boing where I can help promote his work. Some recent Charles Hugh Smith essays: Survival+ Chapter 1 The Dematerialization of America The Return of Big Government and the (de facto) Welfare State Has Capitalism Failed? The Road to National Insolvency What's Obvious III: Some Transformations Will Be Positive End of An Era: What's Not Coming Back Of Two Minds: An Interview with Charles Hugh Smith

WFMU's The Media Squat with Douglas Rushkoff radio show

Richard Metzger is Boing Boing's current guest blogger

A few hours ago I was interviewed by Douglas Rushkoff on his new WFMU radio show, The Media Squat. Also on the program was Miriam Raymon from The Financial Times. Topics include the financial crisis (is there anything else to talk about?), local currencies, Karl Marx being trendy again, Crass, punk rock, counter culture, Boing Boing being the most successful underground publication in history, socialism in the US and of course, we end with the financial crisis.

iTunes link, Stream from