Boing Boing 

OK Go explains the screwed-up state of the music industry

Damian Kulash of the band OK Go has published a tremendously informative, frustrating, and important open letter about the reason that the band's videos can't be embedded on sites like this. OK Go rose to prominence on the strength of its viral Internet videos, but now EMI, its label, won't allow embedding for its videos, because no embedding is possible. Kulash is clearly frustrated by this impasse, and his ruminations on how the industry got to this place and where it might go are required reading:

The catch: the software that pays out those tiny sums doesn't pay if a video is embedded. This means our label doesn't get their hard-won share of the pie if our video is played on your blog, so (surprise, surprise) they won't let us be on your blog. And, voilá: four years after we posted our first homemade videos to YouTube and they spread across the globe faster than swine flu, making our bassist's glasses recognizable to 70-year-olds in Wichita and 5-year-olds in Seoul and eventually turning a tidy little profit for EMI, we're - unbelievably - stuck in the position of arguing with our own label about the merits of having our videos be easily shared. It's like the world has gone backwards.

Let's take a wider view for a second. What we're really talking about here is the shift in the way we think about music. We're stuck between two worlds: the world of ten years ago, where music was privately owned in discreet little chunks (CDs), and a new one that seems to be emerging, where music is universally publicly accessible. The thing is, only one of these worlds has a (somewhat) stable system in place for funding music and all of its associated nuts-and-bolts logistics, and, even if it were possible, none of us would willingly return to that world. Aside from the smug assholes who ran labels, who'd want a system where a handful of corporate overlords shove crap down our throats? All the same, if music is going to be more than a hobby, someone, literally, has to pay the piper. So we've got this ridiculous situation where the machinery of the old system is frantically trying to contort and reshape and rewire itself to run without actually selling music. It's like a car trying to figure out how to run without gas, or a fish trying to learn to breath air.

Open Letter From OK Go, regarding non-embeddable YouTube videos

HOWTO survive a nuclear attack - Mutual of Omaha, 1951

This 1951 Mutual of Omaha duck-and-cover ad explains how to survive a nuclear attack, giving such wise advise as "resist the impulse to look toward the source of this burning brightness," "shield yourself from the flash of brilliance," and "be alert for the blast wave." Helpful stuff.

...and, maybe, just maybe, buy yourself a little life insurance. (Thanks, Copyranter!)

Taking Games Seriously: UK debate on the place of video games

Progressive UK Labour MP Tom Watson (with whom I serve on the Open Rights Group advisory council) is putting on a panel on how government can support and nurture the video-games industry, calling games "the world's fastest-growing and most lucrative entertainment medium." It's in Westminster on Jan 25 at 6:30 PM, and open to the public.
I am chairing a discussion on the place of video games and virtual worlds in modern society - the lessons we might learn from them, their dangers, and why the public debate needs to move beyond breathless accusations about violent, screen-addicted young people.
Taking Video Games Seriously (via Wonderland)

(Image: Gaming Day, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from nickstone333's photostream)

3D-printed version of the cover illo from Makers

Joris Peels from Shapeways liked the cover on the HarperCollins UK edition of my novel Makers, which features a variety of objects depicted in the novel as plastic model-parts attached to a sprue. Shapeways being a custom 3D printing shop, Joris whipped up an incredibly detailed 3D version of the cover illustration, which arrived in today's post. Color me grateful, delighted and gobsmacked. Thanks, Joris!

Update: Joris adds, "The design was modeled by Shapeways Community member Dmitry Kobzar; He spent 13 hours and 7 minutes making it. He will be thrilled that you're happy with it. The reason I asked Dmitry to model it was so we could make Makers come to life just like the people in your book do."

We're going to release the model files under a Creative Commons license. Watch this space!

Shapeways 3D printed version of the UK Makers cover

Steampunk "Raptor Pilot" mask #4

Ukrainian steampunk leatherworker Bob Basset continues to knock 'em out of the park with his "Raptor Pilot" series. Here's number 4.


Search for the ultimate espresso: a video with Kyle of Intelligentsia Coffee

In the video above, Kyle Glanville of Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea shows you how to make a really great cup of espresso (more here).

Clay Shirky's advice for women: go ahead, be an asshole!

Deep Thinker Clay Shirky has posted "A Rant About Women," which explores the notion that men tend to be more comfortable with assertive, self-promotey behavior than their female peers. Shirky thoughtfully argues that this is a big factor conspiring against the professional success of women, as is the negative response women often get when they model this behavior. The comments (many by women) are also interesting.

Worldwide Day of Prayer to Heal Trig Palin:

"Science has no way to undo this condition, which is the result of an extra chromosome; but God can. When Trig Palin is found to be miraculously healed, everyone but the most hardened atheist will have to acknowledge God's Majesty!" Pray 4 Trig, the "Worldwide Day of Prayer to Heal Trig Palin." (via Steven Leckart)

Nails look like they were cut with pinking shears


Funny manicure.

How bad is animal fat?

From Seth Roberts blog:
A to-be-published meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports my view that animal fat is nowhere as bad as we’ve been told a thousand times. It says:

During 5–23 y of follow-up of 347,747 subjects, . . . intake of [more] saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD [coronary heart disease], stroke, or CVD [cardiovascular disease]. The pooled relative risk estimates that compared extreme quantiles of saturated fat intake were 1.07 (95% CI: 0.96, 1.19; P = 0.22) for CHD, 0.81 (95% CI: 0.62, 1.05; P = 0.11) for stroke, and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.89, 1.11; P = 0.95) for CVD.

Emphasis added. One aspect of the results suggested that studies that found an positive association (more fat, more disease) were more likely to be published than those that didn’t find an association or found a negative association. Which means these numbers may underestimate the good effects.

I guess I'll keep frying my eggs in bacon grease!

How bad is animal fat?

Korean court legalizes some game-item sales

It's hard to parse out the nuances in this news-story, but it appears that a high Korean court has taken steps to legalize the practice of selling virtual goods from video-games for real cash, provided that the virtual goods are acquired through work and skill, not luck or chance. The implication appears to be that game-companies can essentially mint money:

The two allegedly purchased "Aden," cyber money in an online multiplayer role-playing game "Lineage," worth 234 million won ($207,558), which was lower than market price, through game item-trading Web sites.

Then they allegedly resold those purchased items to some 2,000 other players and earned about 20 million won.

Aden is used to buy accessories, cyber weapons and other items that appear in the game so that players' avatars - characters living in the online virtual world - in the game can gain more power.

Supreme Court acquits two in cyber money game case

(Image: Lineage 2) (via /.)

No Pants! Subway Ride 2010

On January 10, our friends at Improv Everywhere held their annual No Pants! Subway Ride. In New York City, more than 3,000 people participated. Another couple thousand rode pantsless in more than 40 other cities around the world. Above is the video evidence. No Pants Subway Ride 2010

Meet your meat


A new slideshow on Treehugger takes you inside a hipster/foodie hog butchery workshop, via photos of dead pig parts that are not nearly as front-page friendly as the one posted above. The goal: Understanding where the meat you buy comes from and what the process of turning animal into meat looks like—at least, in the traditional one-guy-with-a-knife sense. It's an interesting bit of DIY food production + often-ignored reality, and I'm reminded of some favorite scenes from Little House in the Big Woods (head cheese! bladder balloon!).

The story also contains a link to a fascinating side article on 5 Things To Do With Leftover Bacon Fat—which involves both bourbon, and cookies. How could it be wrong?

Treehugger: Graphic Images from Hog Butchery Workshop in New York

Image courtesy Flickr user rumpleteaser, via CC

Public Enemy's By the Time I Get to Arizona

A few minutes late, but man, this is good stuff.

YouTube - Public Enemy - By The Time I Get To Arizona (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Photos of William Burroughs's belongings

 Files Gimgs 12 Typewritermg5050
In the 1970s, William S. Burroughs lived in New York City's Lower East Side in a former YMCA locker room, a windowless room affectionally referred to as The Bunker. Of course, Burroughs spent his later years in Lawrence, Kansas, but after his 1997 death, Burroughs's friend and landlord, avant-garde poet John Giorno kept the writer's Bunker bedroom intact. Photographer Peter Ross took a lovely series of photos of Uncle Bill's belongings. From an interview with Ross in The Morning News:
How did you choose what articles you wanted to photograph?

Most of the items just jumped out at me. How could I pull a book titled Medical Implications of Karate Blows out of a stack and not photograph it? Or the typewriter with his name on it? The blow darts and board that hang on the wall in his bedroom?

Well, how did you decide on the angle for each photograph--why the bottoms of the shoes, for example, instead of the tops?

I challenged myself to try and find what was unique to the items. I was looking for something historical and specific to their owner, and short of that I was pushing for an off-kilter angle or placement.

Shoes are just shoes, but only one man wore the holes into the bottoms of this pair. Just think of where these shoes have been, the conversations they have witnessed. These shoes likely have met many of my heroes of New York's 1970s and '80s culture.

"Burroughs" by Peter Ross (Thanks, Xeni!)

Emergency room accidents: a cavalcade of winceworthy moments

The South Florida Sun Sentinel's database of emergency room failures will induce instantaneous wincey click-trances in all but the hardest-hearted. Between the telegraph-style notes and the bizarre injuries, it's like reading demented haiku from the Itchy and Scratchy writing-team: HORSING AROUND W/ A FRIEND IN THE SHED CUT ARM ON A MACHETTE LACERATION LEFT FOREARM, SWALLOWED A BATTERY, STRUCK BY MAT BLOWN BY WIND AT STORE, PATIENT WITH ROUND TOY BALL IN EAR UNKNOWN AMOUNT OF TIME; FB REMOVED.

SEARCH Database: Injuries reported by emergency rooms (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Image: 365 Days -- Attempt #2 -- Day 8 -- Mmmmm.... IV Painkillers really help!, a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike image from pmarkham's photostream)

"I'm going to wake up as a nom nom"

Manvszombies is another micro-blogged mini-fiction about the zombiecaust, but this time the protagonist is about as mindless as the victims. What more perfect medium to capture the thoughts of zombies? I'd put the odds of marketing stunt at 4/7. Cynical, me! [Thanks, Neo Xander De La Vega]

What goes into making human robot girls, 1941


John Ptak, a dealer in rare science books, has a post about pamphlets published by The Ladies Home Journal from the mid 20th century that are "social engineering how-to's for youngish girls." He says "they'll make your teeth hurt."

Perhaps it was the ["How to Rate Another Date"] pamphlet that caused most of my teeth to fall out --- it is sheer and painful, offering virtually nothing to the young women reading it and practicing its morality play but gender obedience and servility.

"Did you give him all your attention?" "Did he run things?" "Did you give him a chance to impress you?" "Could you make him laugh?"  It isn't until the final rating question (#25) that we get to something that opened the possibility of a two-way interest in the relationship, but only barely: "Did you find you liked the same things?" It's sad, really. 

When I read some of this to my 17-year-old daughter, she just looked at me with an open mouth and eyebrow furrows:  it was simply beyond listening to, for her, and certainly not anywhere near worthy of a response. 

What Goes into Making Human Robot Girls, 1941

CBS uncovers rare Jack Benny treasures, puts them back and tosses out the key

When Jack Benny fans discovered that the CBS vaults contained some 25 original Jack Benny TV show episodes previously thought lost, they rejoiced. They approached the network for release of the public-domain footage, even offering to foot the bill for digital transfer and preservation. CBS balked, insisting that the fan club get approval from the Benny estate. No problem: Jack Benny's descendants were only too glad to have his original TV shows rescued from obscurity and given to the world.

But CBS balked again, citing unspecified "issues" (presumably potential copyrights in the score or other materials). Basically, CBS has decided that it could cost too much to pay a lawyer to figure out if they can release these films -- or even turn them over to Benny's fans and family for release -- and so it has decided to simply abandon them, sealing them back up in the vault forever.

This isn't how it's supposed to work. In the Constitution's progress clause, Congress is empowered to "promote the progress of the arts" through copyright. When copyright creates these deadlocks that doom America's artistic heritage to history's scrapheap, copyright needs to change.

Late last week the International Jack Benny Fan Club got some very bad news: rather than allow the club with the Benny family's enthusiastic blessing to digitally preserve some unreleased public domain Benny show masters that CBS has in its possession, the network is giving a thumbs down to the idea -- thus sealing these shows' fate so they will never be seen again. In effect, it's a bullet through the head of this body of Benny work. And here is the most frustrating tidbit for comedy fans and those who study comedy: the Fan Club offered to do the preservation at no cost to CBS.

Why does this matter? Benny invented the situation comedy on radio in the 1930s, had perfect timing, assembled a cast of zany characters who poked fun at him, could extend a laugh by the way he slowly panned around the room after a punch line and influenced comedians such as Kelsey Grammer and Johnny Carson. In his final years, he could literally read a page out of the phone book and get laughs. His final weekly series went off the air in 1964 but he continued to do specials until he died in 1974.

Killing Comedic Heritage? CBS Reportedly Seals Some Classic Jack Benny Show Comedy Masters

Facebook: Tell Les Moonves to preserve The Jack Benny Benny Program masters (Thanks, Dale!)

Photos of derelict Japanese sanatorium

Den from Tokyo Times sends us this collection of photos from the ruins of the Higashi Izu-cho Hospital Isolation Ward: "A predominantly wooden structure that, due to its location in a relatively dense bamboo forest, is rapidly decaying -- the sanatorium's brave battle with mother nature now very much a long lost cause."

Bleak and abandoned isolation ward (Thanks, Den!)

Homemade Tetris blanket

Katherine sez, "This is a photo of the Tetris blanket I made for a friend as an Agnostica gift. It took me four months to make, and I wanted to show off a little."

Tetris blanket (Thanks, Katherine!)

Awful dance music remixes of Strawberry Fields Forever

I am unable to stop listening to Gigi d'Agostino's unpleasant cover of Strawberry Fields Forever. It's not merely bad, but an atrocity that seems a parody of dance music: overlaying the cacophony is a recurring simulation of club-inflicted tinnitus. Why can't I get it out of my head? The Beatles wedded to nascent stirrings of 1990s nostaglia? Insane! I know! Perhaps you imagine it could not be worse. You would be wrong. Exhibit A: Candy Flip's own version of S.F.F., which stormed the British charts in 1990. Then I was but a child and knew no better--now there no excuses. YouTube has more. Also from the same abyss: listening to the theme tune from Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (wherein the apotheosis of European culture is found at the intersection of French literature, Spanish television and British children's music); You are a Pirate; and anything at all by The Shamen. Update: Gigi's version of Nik Kershaw's The Riddle is, of course, genius.

Get well soon, Kage!

Our best wishes to sf writer Kage Baker, whose uterine cancer has metastasised and reached her brain. She is undergoing urgent, drastic therapy and welcomes good wishes from her friends and admirers.

Everything I need to know I learned from D&D

Chad sez, "Last night I gave a talk at IgniteOKC, Oklahoma City's part of the Ignite series of talking events, called 'All I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons.' I had a ton of fun with it and I think it will be of interest to any fans of roleplaying games in general and D&D specifically. I am especially proud of my slides, which are all hand drawn by me :)"

This was an absolutely sweet little talk -- Chad, you should put your slides online separately, since they're a little hard to make out in the video.

All I need to know about life I learned from Dungeons and Dragons - an IgniteOKC talk (Thanks, Chad!)

Congrats on your engagement, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman!

Congrats to pals Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer on the announcement of their upcoming nuptials. You two are adorable together. Many years of happiness, comics, rock and roll, and copyfighting for both of you!

Telling the World: An Official Announcement

Jonathan Lethem's Perkus Tooth comes to Second Life for an interview

Wagner James Au sez, "Jonathan Lethem's latest novel Chronic City includes a virtual world inspired by Second Life, so fittingly, this Sunday Lethem is promoting his book *in* Second Life on the Copper Robot show, using an avatar named PerkusTooth Riddler, based on the character Perkus Tooth from the book. If you don't have an SL account you can watch on the web ."

Jonathan Lethem Appears in Second Life This Sunday As Avatar Based on Character From His Novel, *Chronic City*

Copper Robot: Novelist Jonathan Lethem

Mexico's Museum of Drugs

The Mexican military's Museum of Drugs, opened in 1985 in Mexico City, is now running out of exhibit space. Sadly, it's a private museum, open only to government officials, diplomats, and members of the army. The Washington Post's William Booth got a tour, accompanied by photographer Sarah L. Voisin. From the Washington Post:
Probably the best-known exhibit is the life-size diorama of a grower in the countryside guarding his crop. Montane flips a switch and a cassette player begins a bouncy narco-corrida, the popular ballads honoring the derring-dos of drug outlaws. In the corner, a mannequin lounges in his dark shades, a shotgun across his lap, beside a pile of empty Tecate beer cans. In front are beans on the stove and a bust of Jesús Malverde, a highwayman who legend has it was killed by authorities in 1909 and is revered as a patron saint of traffickers and a Robin Hood for the poor.

Around the corner, the exhibits show how drugs are smuggled, and here human ingenuity is on full display. There is dope hidden inside picture frames, logs, gas tanks, clay pots, tamales, concrete blocks, truck tires, soda cans, car bumpers, shoes, stuffed armadillos and a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

There is a kind of James Bond or Dr. Evil quality to some exhibits. An attache case confiscated from an outlaw surveillance team holds computer boards and other gadgetry to monitor cellphone calls. The cartels now employ their own fleets of semi-submersible submarines. On display is a large sea buoy with a coded beacon device the traffickers attach to huge payloads of drugs they can dump into the sea and pick up later. Also, apparently, the narcos now have their own line of clothes. There are dark blue polo shirts sporting a kind of family crest for the Zetas, a notorious cartel founded by former special forces soldiers that controls vast swaths along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville, Tex., to Cancun. The shirts, which appear to be 100 percent cotton, are emblazoned with a Z and the words: "Cartel del Golfo."

"In harsh reflection of reality, Mexico's Museum of Drugs outgrowing its space"

The VICE guide to Liberia

Judging from its trailer, The VICE guide to Liberia looks amazing.

The documentary is coming out on January 19th, in eight segments released over the course of eight consecutive days.

Last year, VICE founder Shane Smith and Editor Andy Capper, visited Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to meet three men who participated in the 14 years of civil war. One of the men giving us a guided tour is Joshua Blahyi, aka General Butt Naked, an ex-war lord famed for forcing his soldiers to fight wearing nothing but shoes. Blahyi admits to killing more than 20,000 people and drinking the blood of children, but now spends his time preaching about his quest for forgiveness.

Despite the UN's intervention in the country, the majority of Liberia's young people live in desperate poverty. Surrounded by filth, drug addiction, and teenage prostitution, the ex child soldiers who were forced into war struggle to fend for themselves by any means necessary. As the former President Charles Taylor fights accusations of mass war crimes in The Hague, the people strive for positive change against all odds. America's one and only foray into African colonialism is keeping a very uneasy peace indeed.

The VICE guide to Liberia

Orson Welles on police brutality

D Walker sez,
The Internet Archive features a series of recordings of American radio broadcaster Orson Welles, in particular a recording from 1946 in which Welles reads the Affidavit of Isaac Woodard regarding his abuse at the hands of corrupt police officers, followed by a highly emotional and impassioned speech by Welles on the subject of bringing justice, corruption, and forgiveness.

With recent trends in police abuses being a topic of no small concern at BoingBoing as of late, I thought perhaps his little known broadcast should be remembered and shared, as it strikes a chord of similarity which is at once chilling and inspiring. Welles gives us a glimpse into a time and a setting in which a mere radio broadcaster spoke out in a fervor of disgust and revulsion against a terrible injustice, and was instrumental in bringing those responsible to bear for their crimes. If nothing else, it serves to remind us of what has come before, and what we can once more do and be again.

MP3 Link

1946 Orson Welles Commentaries (Thanks, D!)

(Image: File:Orson_Welles_1937.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)

Cory coming to Iowa, Seattle

I'm to be the guest of honor at ICON 35: A Steam Powered Convention of the Future , to be held November 5-7, 2010 at the Cedar Rapids Marriott. This is a great, venerable regional con and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of Iowa! Hope to run into you there. And for those of you on the west coast, a reminder that I'll be a special guest at Norwescon in Seattle, April 1-4, along with Vernor Vinge and many fine other writers, artists, and fans.