Boing Boing 

It's Always the Fixer Who Dies

A New Yorker essay by George Packer on the death of Sultan Munadi, the "fixer" killed during a raid in which British commandos attempted to free him and New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell. One of the soldiers also died in the raid. Farrell was successfully freed. I have known a number of war correspondents, both personal friends and work colleagues, who've spoken about the inherent imbalance of power in this warzone relationship. One friend of mine saw "his" fixer mortally wounded as he walked out of a similar situation unharmed. Packer's essay echoes the sense of guilt I remember my friend articulating. Snip:
The relationship between fixers and foreign correspondents can be very close. Shared dangers and successes will do that, especially when the work done together, the tie between you, is what puts you at risk. In Iraq and Afghanistan and a growing number of other places, the foreign correspondent would be a target with or without the fixer, but the fixer is a target because he or she is with the foreign correspondent. Both are considered spies, but one is only an infidel, while the other is something worse--an apostate, a traitor. In my experience, this mutually voluntary risk is rarely a source of resentment on the part of fixers. They are generally young, cosmopolitan, quick-witted, stoical, tinged with idealism, implacable foes of their countries' extremists; and, after all, they understand better than anyone what they have signed up for. For the most part, the risk strengthens the bond. It becomes a cause of tension only when it's borne by just one side. In spite of the closeness, the relationship is troubled by a kind of imbalance of power.
IT'S ALWAYS THE FIXER WHO DIES (newyorker.com)

Related: Colleagues remember Sultan Munadi (New York Times)

Also related: The Reporter's Account: 4 Days With the Taliban (NYT). Farrell basically blogs his own kidnapping, and talks about the death of his deceased colleague Munadi.

That is not a sufficiently potent botfly maggot unicorn chaser, Mark, this is the strength we require.

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WALL OF FLUFF.

Because dude, this was harsh. And this was cute but not sufficiently cute. It's okay, you guys, Xeni's here now. Boing Boing moderator Antinous points us to this, and says, "I recommend dropping acid and hitting them all simultaneously." (via Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

Baby chicks ground up alive: animal rights video goes viral

(Warning: video is totally gross). Via this SF Gate item, a Chicago-based animal rights group called Mercy for Animals shot the video above of baby chicks being ground up alive at an Iowa chicken processing factory. It's pretty disgusting, and reinforces a personal decision I made to avoid consuming eggs that come from this sort of place:

Hy-Line admitted to the Associated Press that "instantaneous euthanasia" (e.g. grinding up male chicks) is a standard practice and claims that it is also supported by the animal veterinary and scientific community. (Male chicks are less valuable because they can't lay eggs or be raised quickly enough for meat.) Mercy for Animals estimates that 200 million male chicks are killed annually and United Egg Producers confirmed this figure.
I'll take the happy kind of eggs Mark grows in his back yard, or none at all, yo. (Thanks, Brian Lam)

The blog of Philip Garrido, serial rapist and kidnapper: "sound control" gadget hallucinations.

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In 1991, after having been paroled, convicted kidnapper and rapist Phillip Garrido snatched an 11 year old girl named Jaycee Dugard off the street. He kept her captive for 18 years, repeatedly raped her, and fathered two children from those rapes. Jaycee gave birth to the first child when she was 14. There may be additional child victims. And investigators are now also looking for clues that could link Garrido with a series of 10 unsolved murders nearby, in which prostitutes were sexually violated before they were killed.

Garrido maintained a blogspot blog which amounts to a disturbing look inside the internal thought process of a monster. That blog includes numerous postings about an electronic invention he wished to patent, that allowed him to "control sound" using his "mental powers." Snip:

This document is to affirm that I Phillip Garrido have clearly demonstrated the ability to control sound with my mind and have developed a device for others to witness this phenomena. by using a sound generator to provide the sound, and a headphone amplification system, ( a device to focuc your hearing so as to increase the sensitivity of what one is listening to) I have produced a set of voices by effectively controlling the sound to pronounce words through my own mental powers.
His brother told the press today that Garrido did a lot of LSD when younger. Phillip Garrido believes that having children with the child he abducted and raped cured him of pedophilia. Blogging under the user name THEMANWHOSPOKEWITHHISMIND, Garrido wrote,
This all began by God removing a problem from my shoulders that behavioral scientist believe is not possible to remove. since then my life has seen major improvements allowing me to stand here today a free man.
His crazy hallucinations about controlling sound and controlling human thought and will are not at all unrelated to his crimes. Garrido housed his victims in a series of makeshift tents and soundproofed shelters in his back yard, in such a way that neighbors, according to several reports, "never heard a thing."

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Despite Garrido's careful schemes to "control sound" and control the behavior and visibility of his captives, at least one neighbor did suspect something, and contacted authorities. The police came to Garrido's property, and didn't go in the back yard to check.

The deputy determined that no crime had been committed even though he did not enter or ask to enter the backyard, the sheriff said.
I wonder how many other opportunities were missed before an unnamed female campus security officer at UC Berkeley started the chain of events that would lead to Dugard's freedom, and that of her two children. Update: The officer's name is Ally Jacobs.

Here's the Megan's Law database entry for Phillip Garrido. (Tip: want to totally creep yourself out, and/or protect your family? Search the database for entries located near your home or place of work).

Yesterday, he gave a lengthy, rambling phone interview with a local TV station. You can listen to the whole interview with Garrido here. It is chilling. Snip from transcript:

"It's a disgusting thing that took place with me in the beginning. But I turned my life completely around (...) What's kept me busy the last several years is I've completely turned my life around. And you're going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, the victim - you wait.

If you take this a step at a time, you're going to fall over backwards and in the end, you're going to find the most powerful heart-warming story."

May he rot in hell.

BB commenter Mojave adds,

An interesting little side note to this story is that [his] van was captured on googlestreetview as it left the house of horrors. I think even calling the guy a monster is too nice. Gives monsters a bad name.
And other BB commenters note that related images taken by the Google Street View van on that same day seem to show that Garrido's van may have followed the Google van with interest.

And now, a motivational message from our kitteh life coach.

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From Ice-Tea Man (thanks, Steve Woolf)

Iran: More on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan

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An amazing piece by Borzou Daragahi, in Tehran, from today's LA Times on the life and death of Neda Agha-Soltan (shown above in a family photo). Her death, documented on cellphone video and spread online, has become a potent spiritual emblem for the popular uprising in Iran.
The first word came from abroad. An aunt in the United States called her Saturday in a panic. "Don't go out into the streets, Golshad," she told her. "They're killing people."

The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, "Neda! Neda!"

A dark premonition swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home number of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends, but Neda didn't answer.

At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the eastern Tehran Pars section of the capital. As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true. "Neda! Neda!" the 25-year-old cried out. "What will I do?"

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening near the scene of clashes between pro-government militias and demonstrators who allege rampant vote-count fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The jittery cellphone video footage of her bleeding on the street has turned "Neda" into an international symbol of the protest movement that ignited in the aftermath of the June 12 voting. To those who knew and loved Neda, she was far more than an icon. She was a daughter, sister and friend, a music and travel lover, a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life.

Family, friends mourn Iranian woman whose death was caught on video (via @eecue)

Rushkoff on Apple fanboy rage at Steve Jobs for having the audacity to have had a liver transplant

"Life, Inc." author and former BB guestblogger Doug Rushkoff has a piece up on Daily Beast about the fanboy fallout over recent news of Steve Jobs' liver transplant:
Feel better Steve, but what about me? I mean, I know cancer surgery is no picnic, but what does the possibility that you'll reject your new liver mean for my Apple share price? Or my iTunes collection? Should I be converting it all to MP3? I just got a friggin' iPhone - what if you leave us before my five-year contract with AT&T ends? I made a commitment...How about you?

Sorry, but that's the emotional current underlying nearly all of the coverage I'm seeing about the Apple founder's just-revealed liver transplant operation in Tennessee for his metastasized neuroendocrine tumor. It's not what I expected from the Apple community, but perhaps it does serve as the most accurate expression of where the once-renegade personal-computer company has ended up.

To buy an Apple product is to bet on the longevity of the closed system to which we've committed ourselves. And that system is embodied--through marketing as much as talent--by Steve Jobs.

"He said all he needed was a little rest!" one commenter on the Fortune magazine Web site complained. "This is bullshit." On Bloomberg, all the talk is about share price, Apple's chronically cryptic and delayed press releases on Jobs' health, and whether this deputy Tim Cook is capable of taking the helm. Such "me-first" sensibilities don't fit with the highly humanized, creative individuals celebrated in Apple's early commercials--but rather the cultish consumers and shareholders that those commercials, and the products, actually succeeded in generating.

Apple's Army of Whiners

Online Personal Narratives from Patients of Murdered Late-Term Abortion Provider

Salon's Kate Harding has collected a number of first-person accounts from women (and families) who were patients of the recently murdered Dr. George Tiller. As I understand it, he was one of only three providers of late-term abortions in the USA, and widely considered the most expert practitioner in this extremely controversial area of health care. Snip:
Susan Hill, President of the National Women's Health Foundation, who knew Dr. Tiller for over two decades and referred girls and women to his clinic, said in a phone interview, "We always sent the really tragic cases to Tiller." Those included women diagnosed with cancer who needed abortions to qualify for chemotherapy, women who learned late in their pregnancies that their wanted babies had fatal illnesses, and rape victims so young they didn't realize they were pregnant for months. "We sent him 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds who were way too far along for anybody [else] to see," said Hill. "Eleven-year-olds don't tell anybody. Sometimes they don't even know they've had a period."

Since the news of Dr. Tiller's murder broke, personal narratives from people who used his services have been appearing around the Web. A commenter at the blog Balloon Juice told the story of finding out in the eighth month of his wife's pregnancy that she was carrying conjoined twins. "Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants." They chose to terminate the much-wanted pregnancy, rather than bring a child into the world only to suffer and die. "The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff."

A commenter on Metafilter tells a similar story: "My wife and I spent a week in Dr. Tiller's care after we learned our 21 week fetus had a severe defect incompatible with life. The laws in our state prevented us from ending the pregnancy there, and Dr. Tiller was one of maybe three choices in the whole nation at that gestational age." He went on to share his memories of Dr. Tiller. "I remember him firmly stating that he regarded the abortion debate in the US to be about the control of women's sexuality and reproduction. I remember he spent over six hours in one-on-one care with my wife when there was concern she had an infection. We're talking about a physician here. Six hours.... The walls of the clinic reception and waiting room are literally covered with letters from patients thanking him. Some were heartbreaking -- obviously young and/or poorly educated people thanking Dr. Tiller for being there when they had no other options, explaining their family, church, etc. had abandoned them."

Where will women go now? (Salon, via @zephoria)

Also by Harding, in today's Salon:  "Protecting abortion providers: A friend of George Tiller's says the doctor knew something bad was coming. Why couldn't anyone stop it?"

Image of Dr. Tiller taken from a Wayback Machine cache of drtiller.com. Site is now offline.

Read the rest

Let's Be Friends: The Best Blog Ever


This blog contains nothing but photos of cute critters makin' friends with one another. Too bad it hasn't been updated in two years, but maybe the animal pals all broke up. letsbefriends.blogspot.com (via @Rstevens)

Digital Warriors - The next MK Ultra?


(Douglas Rushkoff, the author of Life Inc., is a guest blogger.)
I've been working on a year-long PBS Frontline project called Digital Nation, which will culminate as a one-hour tv documentary next January. We're looking a whole lot of subjects, all from the perspective of how what it means to be human is changing as we migrate further into the digital realm (if that metaphor even holds). We're posting as much video as possible as we go.

The above piece about the "infantry immersion trainer" looks at the integration of virtual simulations into military training, as well as for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder after tours of duty. The weird part for me - well, the two weird parts - were that this training was also developed, in part, to "desensitize" soldiers to certain aspects of war. They say it is to lessen the effects and reduce post-traumatic stress. But all of the psychologists I've spoken with since then say it doesn't work like that - that the stress simulations just compound the total stress. And, second, that I had nightmares for a good week after all this - less from the shooting of civilians part than the little driving simulation, which reminded me of a fatal car crash back in 1985.

I guess the lesson for me was that the resolution of the simulation is a lot less important than the intention and mindset with which one approaches the experience. As with any hallucinatory experience, set and setting are everything.

BB Video: "Manifestations," An Animated Love Story, by Giles Timms


(Download the MP4 here, or watch on YouTube.) Today's edition of Boing Boing Video is an animated short by Giles Timms -- "Manifestations" stars a cartoon critter named Mr. Chip who seeks anime love in a psychedelic, ever-morphing virtual world. The music is by Welsh composer Ceri Frost. Mr. Chip also stars in a mini Flash game which you can play here.

RSS feed for new episodes here, YouTube channel here, subscribe on iTunes here. Get Twitter updates every time there's a new ep by following @boingboingvideo, and here are blog post archives for Boing Boing Video. (Special thanks to Boing Boing's video hosting partner Episodic).



BB VIDEO Q&A: ANIMATOR GILES TIMMS

BBV: Where are you based, and what do you do?

Giles: At the moment I live in Santa Monica, LA and attend the Animation Workshop at UCLA's Department of Theater, Film and Television. So I'm a student in the MFA program, but I also work freelance, such as the recent Deathcab for Cutie "Grapevine Fires" video with Walter Robot Studios.

BBV: What is the story behind this lovely animation?

Giles: That it's important for us to find love in this world, whoever and wherever we may be. And that love can exist between the most unlikely of characters, such as the cartoon creature Mr. Chip and the Tadahiro Uesugi inspired girly girl. Love knows no boundaries.

BBV: I love the cute little boxy central character. Who is he, and what's his story?

Giles: The little green guy is Mr. Chip. He originally appeared as the central character in a mini puzzle flash game that I made. Mr. Chip is quite small and unassuming, but he has the heart of a lion and isn't afraid to go after what he seeks. And he can be very resourceful in a MacGyver sort of way. It was these qualities that led to his development as the main character in Manifestations.

(Interview continues after the jump)

Read the rest

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 any....minute...now?

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
thedailyshow.com
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.

Unicorn Art Car, Free to Loving Home (Craigslist Sign of the Times)

BB pal Shawn Connally from MAKE passes this along.
free art car- runs and drives (berkeley)
Reply to: sale-xkzje-1138966083@craigslist.org
Date: 2009-04-24, 7:41PM PDT

im giving away my beloved art car. its a 93 civic, originally was white. its covered in unicorns, my favorite animal. i took ever one i collected over the past 20 years and covered my car. sadly i need it gone, i have moved on. i cant be seen with it in my new corporate carreer it drives but not well, has about 200,000 miles on it. come take it away tonight. huxley @ (914) 502-****.

Update: Andy in New Jersey says it's a hoax.
If you Google that phone number... http://www.google.com/q=(914)+502-**** there seem to be lots of strange hits, the most useful talks about pranking some radio show. BTW, areacode 914 is in Westchester County, NY. And while it's possible that someone from NY has moved to Berkeley, or is visiting, in light of the hits above, I still think something else is going on.

Bank ad from Argentina, about several kinds of "change."


A quote from the person who put this video up on YouTube: "This is a spot from Argentina which includes a transgender woman. It talks about tolerance and teaches us that all people are the same even if they are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender."

(Thanks, Tara McGinley and Richard Metzger).

Repo Man with LARPers: "Unhand Thine Prius!" (ridiculous video)

BB pal Alex Ringis says, "A sign of the financial times: Live action roleplaying geeks in full costume with fake weapons and in a reality vortex. Repo-bounty hunters, there to repossess the 'Wizard's' Toyota Prius. BIZARRE video ensues."

It's an episode of the TruTV show Operation Repo, titled "Unhand Thine Prius."

Caveat view-or: as one commenter noted, it's very likely that this "reality" show is presenting a staged or highly modified version of "reality." So, take it as seriously as one might take a friendly fellow in a wizard costume, casting spells in the park.

Woman publishes book full of text messages sent to her dead husband's cell phone

Over at BBGadgets, our Lisa Katayama has an incredible post up about a widow in Japan who is publishing an anthology of text messages she sent to her loved one, after his death.
Her husband, Motoo, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2006, probably from the steel pipe factory he worked at. He got worker's comp, but the disease ultimately destroyed his lungs and left him with hallucinations for the remainder of his life. Shocked, the widowed Fukuda started sending text messages to her dead husband every time she thought of something she wanted to say to him. Things like: "I couldn't live if I didn't think you were still beside me. I can't live [without you]. I'm crying every day" and "I want to call you 'Otosan' to my heart's content. Why do you have to be inside such a small urn?" Every time she sent a message, the phone by his home shrine vibrated (she made sure it was always charged).
Woman publishes book full of text messages sent to her dead husband's cell phone (BBG)

Phil Spector and his spectacular hair convicted of murder

A Los Angeles jury today convicted music producer Phil Spector of second-degree murder in the death of actress Lana Clarkson more than six years ago. At left, Spector, as seen in a previous Boing Boing post by Mark.

Here is a New York Times piece about the trial, and the killing for which Spector was today found responsible.

Emotionally Unavailable Until Famous

Boingboing guest blogger Paul Spinrad is enjoying listening to the rain. 

Timothy Leary said "The universe is an intelligence test." This line captures the attitude I had well into my 30's (I'm 43), and I'm happy that it doesn't anymore. Around that age, I started thinking more about mortality and failure and accepting their inevitability-- which in turn made me appreciate the preciousness of life. What did I want to do with my time here on Earth? Did I want to occupy myself playing a big version of Solitaire to prove I could win, or did I want to open up and love? Another famous quote began to make sense to me: E.M. Forster's "Only connect."

If it sounds like I'm leaving out a primary actor in this transformation, you're right. During our courtship, my wife Wendy challenged me again and again, with firmness and understanding, to engage with her honestly and completely, no matter what it meant. She led me to the promised land where we could be ourselves fully while delighting in and being committed to each other-- all those things that people wisely recite as their wedding vows. If you want more detail, buy me a beer.

An essential part of this happy destiny is that Wendy is not what I had hoped for, i.e. not simply a hot girl version of the man I wanted to be. I've read memoirs by successful men where the chapter on love runs: "I met the girl who was obviously perfect for me, and then I applied all my power and craft to win her over. It was tough going, and she tested me, but I succeeded." That's it. You learn nothing about her, and the guy seems to learn nothing about himself. Yawn! For some men, maybe the pride of that conquest is enough to keep a fire burning, but given what Wendy and I have now, it sounds like dullsville. When I contrast it to the dynamic collaboration that I have with Wendy, who shares my values but is otherwise so fascinatingly different, I just smile at how much we have to look forward to.

I did want to be famous once-- what if I had succeeded and then used that power to win someone to whom this mattered? I would deny that she was just a trophy based on how smart and accomplished people considered her to be, conveniently avoiding the underlying question of her real role in my inner life: a prop for my self-image. I like to think that I'm deep enough that we may have eventually found true intimacy anyway, but I can't be sure. Considering the effort it took Wendy to bring me out, I wonder whether I would have just lived my entire life in fabulous black-and-white, believing that emotional availability meant simply choosing someone rather than taking the ongoing risk of sharing emotional truth. But mastering the art of surfing the truth together is exhilarating, a connection out to the universe that makes me feel alive. Thank you, Wendy, my love, for saving me from a caricature of life!

Playing my Widower Card

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Ed Note: Boingboing's current guest blogger Gareth Branwyn writes on technology, pop and fringe culture. He is currently a Contributing Editor at Maker Media. Recent projects have included co-creating The Maker's Notebook and editing The Best of MAKE and The Best of Instructables collections.


A dear friend of mine, who blogs under the name Supa Dupa Fresh, and I share a grim truth -- we've both lost our spouses. One of the other things we have in common is an off-beat sense of humor. These two forces collide on her Fresh Widow blog, and especially, with her Fresh Widow (and Widower) Cards. She explains:
One night in my support group, S. said casually that he’d “left work early… I just pulled a widower card.” I thought about how often I’d done this in the months since LH died, but more about how I could make good use of some little advantage. All the handicaps I was living with… single (really, double) parenting, how impossible it was to go grocery shopping with a toddler, and how no one could see that anything was wrong. The side of me that is tempted to shoplift (but only cashmere or chocolate) was aroused. I was always comfortable as an underachiever, but could I have some legitimate “cover” after surviving catastrophe? Something versatile? Something I could use every day? And so the concept was born: Not as useful as a “get out of jail free” card, more powerful than a hall pass… it’s… it’s… The Widow Card!
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KCRW Guest DJ Project (Xeni)


This is a blog post I've been really excited to hit "publish" on for a while. KCRW is my favorite radio station in the world. I listen to them when I'm driving around LA, but also tune in online when I'm traveling, and subscribe to some of their podcasts, too, so I can listen while I'm running on the beach or wandering around in some strange city overseas where all other sounds are unfamiliar. They've pretty much been the most important source for my own personal music discovery habits over the past decade or so. The voices and personalities of the hosts are so familiar, they feel like friends or family -- guiding ghosts who point me toward all that is cool, beautiful, and audible.

Because of this, it was an honor and surprise when KCRW's Rachel Reynolds -- who reads Boing Boing! -- invited me to participate in the station's Guest DJ Project.

Even more sweet, the fact that this guest DJ session would be hosted by my favorite KCRW DJ (I swear I'm not making any of this up), the inimitable music curator and velvet-voiced host Chris Douridas.

Chris and Rachel asked me to select songs that meant something to me personally, and revealed something of my life experience. Then, they invited me to come in and talk about the songs with Chris, and today, they've published the resulting music/conversation audio piece. It's the most personal thing I've ever done in public, if that makes sense? Telling the world about why your favorite songs are your favorite songs is like liveblogging your id, or having one of those dreams where you're riding the subway naked. So it feels weird to type this. But these songs actually do mean a lot to me, so I'm really excited to share the experience.

Links to Listen: Here is a downloadable MP3. Here's where you can listen on a streaming web player. And here's the text transcript.

Tracklist:

1.) Tomita - Claire de Lune
2.) Bad Brains - Banned in DC
3.) David Byrne and Brian Eno - The Carrier
4.) Lucho Gatica - Encadenados
5.) Ryuichi Sakamoto - Boing Boing video episode with Joi Ito

Waltz With Bashir


I went to see the Israeli animated documentary feature "Waltz With Bashir" (Vals Im Bashir) last night. The autobiographical film was written and directed by Ari Folman, with illustration and art direction by David Polonsky.

It is a powerful piece of filmmaking, and I hope everyone reading this blog post will go out and support it, if it's still playing in a theater where you live. Given the escalation of conflict in Gaza this weekend, the film's message seems all the more timely and poignant.

I couldn't help but think as I was watching last night (in a mostly empty art-house theater on the other side of town) that this captures what the young Israeli soldiers must be experiencing right now, and what the Palestinians in Gaza must be experiencing, as well.

Waltz is about memory. It's a story about conflict trauma and PTSD. It's a story about how the responsibility for atrocities tends to be passed from one set of hands to another, never resting, and how the impact of violence is also passed down, never resting. It's a story about what combatants on both sides have in common: we are human beings.

Here are some stills from the movie. Here are higher-quality trailers on Apple. Here are some of the critics' reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. When the DVD comes out, I am buying it, and buying copies for friends.

Oh, and Susannah Breslin points us to these guys, Asaf and Tomer, who were credited as artists on the film. Here is my favorite still (contains nudity).

PS: Wiley Wiggins told me on Twitter last night that Folman's next project is an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's book The Futurological Congress . That oughta be amazing. Incidentally, Waltz reminded me a lot of the film through which I first became aware of Wiley Wiggins' work, too.

Below: Speaking of the power of memory -- for me, hearing this great OMD song again, in this context, was potent. I loved that band, and was happy to see them included the film's '80s-heavy soundtrack.

Will Sleep for Food


Posted to Peter Nidzgorski's frequently beautiful "This isn't happiness" tumblog today, with the caption "This is our cat Bob. He died today. He was 20 years old." A colleague of mine lost a cat on Christmas Eve who had been a loving four-pawed companion for about that long. Losing a pal like that is a sad thing. (Thanks, Susannah Breslin)

Congratulations to Joi and Mizuka Ito (and a lovely video). <3


Just Married. Joi blogs:

Mizuka and I just got married. We went to the Inbamura town hall, filed our papers and visited the local Shinto shrine, Munakata Shrine. It's the second marriage for both of us so we decided to keep it pretty minimal. The only non-minimal thing was setting up and taking shots of ourselves...

BBtv: Monochrom's Nazi Petting Zoo


Today on Boing Boing tv, "Nazi Petting Zoo," a new piece of political theater by Austrian art prankster collective monochrom, who explain:

In 1938 Austria joined the Third Reich. Millions cheered Hitler and in the referendum 99.75% said 'yes' to 'Greater Germany'.

But after World War II, many Austrians sought comfort in the idea of Austria as "the Nazis' first victim". Factions of Austrian society tried for a long time to advance the view that it was only annexation at the point of a bayonet(te).

But it's time to embrace history. It's time to remember the feel-good days of 1938. It's time to let our real feelings out! It's time to hug the Nazi, Austria! Finally!

Link to Boing Boing tv post with discussion, downloadable video, and instructions for subscribing to the BBtv video podcast.

Previous Boing Boing tv episodes featuring monochrom:

* Fisch Interview
* Orwell's 1984 deconstructed by puppets: monochrom
* Monochrom's Marxist sock puppets
* Monochrom: MyFaceSpace, the musical
* Monochrom: Campfire at Will
* Monochrom: Falco Stairs
* Monochrom: Bar code artist Scott Blake / Falco stencil memorial
* Human USB Hack / Very Simple Motor
* Mark's Curie Engine / Monochrom's love song for Lessig

(note: this item was re-posted to include video embed. XJ)

Starving people in Haiti eating mud

Today's New York Times has a scary article about food shortages around the world, including heart-breaking slide shows and videos of people digging in dumps for morsels of anything with digestible calories.

In Haiti, vendors are selling flavored mud to starving people.

In Haiti, where three-quarters of the population earns less than $2 a day and one in five children is chronically malnourished, the one business booming amid all the gloom is the selling of patties made of mud, oil and sugar, typically consumed only by the most destitute.

“It’s salty and it has butter and you don’t know you’re eating dirt,” said Olwich Louis Jeune, 24, who has taken to eating them more often in recent months. “It makes your stomach quiet down.”

Link

TED Prize event streaming live now

The TED Prize event is streaming live now. I watched it last year and it was very moving. I imagine it will be again this year.
Picture 9-23 About the 2008 TEDPrize

The TED Prize was created as a way of taking the inspiration, ideas and resources generated at TED and using them to make a difference. Winners receive a prize of $100,000 each, and more importantly, a wish. A wish to change the world.

During today's session, webcast live from Monterey, California, the 2008 TEDPrize winners will unveil their wishes for the first time. Prize winners Neil Turok, Dave Eggars and Karen Armstong will be joined by singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela.

Link

Voytek, the drinking, smoking soldier bear -- will he get his memorial?

A campaign is afoot to build a memorial to Voytek, a soldier-bear who fought alongside the Polish army at the Battle of Monte Cassino, carrying ammunition. After the war, Voytek lived out his days in the Edinburgh Zoo, occasionally visited by his old army buddies who tried to slip him the cigarettes and beer he'd come to enjoy while serving in the army.
When Polish forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to "enlist" him.

So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign.

He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted - along with about 3,000 other Polish troops - at the army camp in the Scottish Borders.

The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with.

"He was just like a dog - nobody was scared of him," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp.

Link (Thanks, Grey!)

(Image: Iranian.com)

Sex Workers' tales in comic form by Peter S. Conrad


Yesterday here on Boing Boing, I pointed to two new projects about the sex trade from my friend Susannah Breslin: Letters from Johns and Letters from Working Girls. She says:

In the comments, a reader posted a link to a project in which the artist had turned sex worker stories into comic strips. That artist is Peter S. Conrad, a Northern California based writer and artist whose work has appeared in True Porn and will appear in I Saw You: Missed Connection Comics. I dropped Conrad an email about the project. He wrote back and sent the comic I've posted here. I asked him if I could ask him a few questions, and he said yes.
So today, Susannah has posted a short interview with Conrad, and the rest of "Going Back," with larger scans of his work. Link (contains explicit, adult material).

We can hear smiles -- and tell big ones from little ones

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have demonstrated that we can tell from voice alone whether a speaker is smiling -- and even which sort of smile ("open," "smiley eyes").

The audio for the interviews was then played back to another group of test subjects. Even without seeing the speakers, the listeners were able to hear the different types of smile the speaker made as he or she went through the wacky interview.

"A voice contains a variety of acoustical characteristics" said Drahota. "It's possible that we interpret these 'flavours' in someone's voice almost without noticing."

Link

(Image: Another smile ..., a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike photo from Ferdinand Reus's Flickr stream)

Letters from Working Girls / Letters from Johns

Writer Susannah Breslin (of Reverse Cowgirl), whose work I've blogged many times here on Boing Boing, has launched two new projects: Letters from Working Girls, and Letters from Johns.

As the titles suggest, the blogs consist of first-hand accounts from real sex workers, and from real clients of sex workers.

Here's a snip from "Working Girls":

I am 26. I'm a grad student in New York. Internet men pay to spank me. If I don't maintain certain grades, I lose my scholarship, and at the beginning of the semester I was flipping my shit about this one class, insisting I was going to fail and whatnot. I was wondering how I was going to pull three or six thousand dollars out of my ass, depending on how bad I did, and my friend said, "It's too bad you don't live upstate, because my friend Mary has a dude that pays her a fuckton of money to just spank her. No sex." So I had to figure that if Mary can find a dude like this upstate, there HAS to be people like this in NYC I can find. And I have a high tolerance for pain and a passing interest in spanking, so it was on.
And here's a snip from "Johns."
I started seeing her once or twice a month and have kept on doing so even though I've been in relationships. I won't lie and say I don't think of it as cheating, it is. I finally stopped when I met a woman who, to be honest, shared a lot of similarities with B. I told B about this and she wished me nothing but happiness. We've spoken a few times since and seen each other socially. It's a bit like work friends after one person has moved to a different job.