Here's a mesmerizing gallery of "Fabrege Fractals" created by Tom Beddard, whose site also features a 2011 video of Fabrege-inspired fractal landscapes that must be seen to be believed. They're all made with Fractal Lab, a WebGL-based renderer Beddard created.
Fabergé Fractals by Tom Beddard, using his WebGL-based fractal engine, Fractal Lab.
On the Casual Cynic Tumblr, a heart-warming story about a waitress who got a $1,000 tip from a diner she'd met for the first time that night, who wanted to help her realize her dream of visiting Italy, whence her family hailed.
So my mom and I have been working the same waitress job for 5-6 years now. She had been waitressing years before, but this is recently. Anyway, about… 15 minutes ago this guy she waited on left and told her to take care. Just that. Prior to this she had talked to him about Italy. Her people are from Florence, this and that, and she said she’s never been. She’s got 8 years of art education and she’s working a waitress job. It’s pretty… Sad and disappointing, I guess. Her and my father divorced 6 years ago and she hasn’t had a real job ever. Just been stuck in a small town she’s not from.
This man who we have never seen before tipped her 1000 dollars for a trip to Italy. Walked out, not another word.
…you know. Just when I start to lose faith in humanity….Hm.
So my mom and I have been working the same waitress job for 5-6 years now
London impressario Mat Ricardo writes in with news of the next London Varieties show:
We had a ball last month at London's Leicester Square Theatre with a show that featured the very silly JOHANN LIPPOVITZ, very naughty EASTEND CABARET, very incredible LISA LOTTIE and the very legendary PAUL DANIELS - plus I risk my life! And you can watch it all right here, for free!
The next show happens on May 30th, and it's going to be a doozy. We've got the astonishing hip-hop improvisor ABANDOMAN, One of the UK's hottest stars of magic PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, ORIGINAL STREET DANCE, and veteran variety performer MICHAEL PEARSE, and I'll be debuting one of the most complicated juggling routines I've ever attempted!
There are only three more shows in this limited season, and they're all one time only line-ups. You can book tickets at http://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873489348/events
And find out more about the next show here. You can find out some of the surprises we have in store for upcoming shows, by following me on twitter @MatRicardo.
National Geographic News has an interview with Tim Samaras — an engineer, a scientist who studies severe storm systems, and a tornado chaser
. Not all chasers are professionals like this. For many people, it's a hobby often motivated by a desire to help keep other people safe. Personally, I see a lot of similarities between hobbyist tornado chasers and the HAM radio folks — in fact, there's a lot of overlap between the two communities. And, as Samaras explains, if you want to get involved, there's training you really ought to do first
. — Maggie
The Twelve-Fingered Boy is John Hornor Jacobs's debut young adult novel and it's amazing. It's a horror novel about Shreve, a kid from a tough background who is stuck in juvie and makes the most of it by running a black-market candy dealership; and his new roommate Jack, a quiet kid with twelve fingers and twelve toes. Jack is not the kind of kid who thrives in juvie, and Shreve takes him under his wing, trying to teach him how to get along on the inside -- but he's not very successful. Jack's extra fingers mark him out among the kids, and the worst of them smell blood when they see him and begin to circle.
But that's the least of Jack's problems. Far more worrisome is Mr Quincrux, a strange man from an unnamed government agency who seems to have the power to make the omnisuspicious guards and wardens go into a trancelike state. He's very, very interested in Jack, and particularly in how Jack landed in juvie -- an unexplained attack on his foster siblings that we quickly learn had something to do with telekinesis. Shreve quickly discovers that Mr Quincrux is an emissary for something much darker than any mere government agency, and as things escalate and Jack's powers come to the fore, it quickly becomes necessary for the pair to break out and hit the road.
Great horror novels demand likable characters -- people whose danger we can't help buy empathize with -- and Twelve-Fingered Boy has a pair of two of the most likable characters I can remember meeting. Shreve is fast-talking, tough-as-nails, thoughtful and honorable; Jack is quiet, gentle, scarred but indomitable. Their adventures hopping trains and sneaking across the country to unravel the mysteries of the plot are part Huck Finn, part X-Men. The scary stuff in this book -- and there's some really scary stuff here -- goes beyond the usual scares of kids' horror, and is truly the stuff of nightmares. This is a book that mesmerizes like a venomous snake, and while it comes to something of a conclusion at the end of 264 too-short pages, I was delighted to learn that it is only book one of a trilogy. I'll be on the watch for the next two volumes.
The Twelve-Fingered Boy
Jim from the Open Rights Group writes in with the announcement for this year's ORGCon, a brilliant UK digital rights event:
Legends of digital rights, Tim Wu and John Perry Barlow, will be leading Open Rights Group's 3rd national conference on June 8th. Join us for ORGCon2013 at the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Savoy Place, London for the UK's biggest digital freedoms event. ORGCon has always been a sell-out event so grab your tickets now before they all go!
This year topics covered include:
Snoopers' Charter: What's the situation now?
Jim Killock and the author's of the Digital Surveillance report on what the Government are planning next after the defeat of the Comms Data Bill.
Lessons from creative citizens: How to win at the Internet
Sci-fi author Diane Duane (Star Trek, Young Wizards), Simon Indelicate (The Indelicates) and bassist Steve Lawson will be talking about the creative ways they have developed successful artistic careers in the digital age.
What exactly is ORG anyway? Who we are and what we do
ORG staff, volunteers, Advisory Council and Board will be sharing their role in ORG and explaining what our work is all about.
Who wins when copyright and free speech clash?
Internet law expert Graham Smith (author of the mighty tome Internet Law and Regulation) and Article 19's legal officer, Gabrielle Guillemin, will be tackling this challenging question and looking at some of the conflicting principles.
How to wiretap the Cloud (without anybody noticing)
Caspar Bowden, privacy expert, will be giving explaining the serious threat to European citizens' rights from the American law, FISAA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act).
The right to be offensive: Free speech online in the UK
Policy Head of Facebook UK, Richard Allan and free speech law expert and Jack of Kent blogger, David Allen Green will be sharing their expertise on the danger from increasing use of Section127, and debate where the UK Government stands on free speech online.
and many many more!
Sign up here: Open Rights Group - Join us at ORGCon2013!
(Disclosure: I'm proud to have co-founded the Open Rights Group, and to volunteer on its advisory committee)
I reviewed Ronald Diebert's new book Black Code in this weekend's edition of the Globe and Mail. Diebert runs the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto and has been instrumental in several high-profile reports that outed government spying (like Chinese hackers who compromised the Dalai Lama's computer and turned it into a covert CCTV) and massive criminal hacks (like the Koobface extortion racket). His book is an amazing account of how cops, spies and crooks all treat the Internet as the same kind of thing: a tool for getting information out of people without their knowledge or consent, and how they end up in a kind of emergent conspiracy to erode the net's security to further their own ends. It's an absolutely brilliant and important book:
Ronald Deibert’s new book, Black Code, is a gripping and absolutely terrifying blow-by-blow account of the way that companies, governments, cops and crooks have entered into an accidental conspiracy to poison our collective digital water supply in ways small and large, treating the Internet as a way to make a quick and dirty buck or as a snoopy spy’s best friend. The book is so thoroughly disheartening for its first 14 chapters that I found myself growing impatient with it, worrying that it was a mere counsel of despair.
But the final chapter of Black Code is an incandescent call to arms demanding that states and their agents cease their depraved indifference to the unintended consequences of their online war games and join with civil society groups that work to make the networked society into a freer, better place than the world it has overwritten.
Deibert is the founder and director of The Citizen Lab, a unique institution at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. It is one part X-Files hacker clubhouse, one part computer science lab and one part international relations observatory. The Citizen Lab’s researchers have scored a string of international coups: Uncovering GhostNet, the group of Chinese hackers taking over sensitive diplomatic computers around the world and eavesdropping on the private lives of governments; cracking Koobface, a group of Russian petty crooks who extorted millions from random people on the Internet, a few hundred dollars at a time; exposing another Chinese attack directed at the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama. Each of these exploits is beautifully recounted in Black Code and used to frame a larger, vivid narrative of a network that is global, vital and terribly fragile.
Yes, fragile. The value of the Internet to us as a species is incalculable, but there are plenty of parties for whom the Internet’s value increases when it is selectively broken.
How to make cyberspace safe for human habitation
Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace
I've written before about Moran Cerf -- celebrated neuroscientist, former military hacker, and good-guy bank robber -- who also happens to be a great storyteller. Here's a video in which Cerf recounts some clever and fascinating neuroscience experiments that use neurofeedback to help people resolve competition between different thoughts and wills in their minds. The applications are even more interesting -- mentally controlling a robotic arm, for example.
Moran Cerf: Hacking the brain
Jaime sez, "In honor of Children's Book Week, I'm sharing a link about a book written by 8-year old Griffin Hehmeyer. His mom tells the story of how Griffin wrote a book, enlisted his friends and classmates for help editing and illustrating it, and eventually published it. The book serves as a model for children interested in creating literature of their own, practicing skills like story-telling, writing, empathy, collaboration, and persistence in the process."
The story was inspired by a make-believe game Griffin had been playing for several years with a good friend of his named Maya. In the game he was the king of the wolves, just like Makamom is in the book. Griffin says of the writing process, “When I first started this book, I had a hard time thinking of ideas. As I got closer to the ending it was easier to think of what to say.”
At the end of each chapter Griffin would read what he had written to his classmates and incorporate their feedback into the draft. When the draft was complete, Griffin and his teacher then spent another month reading through the book and correcting any errors before sending it to me. I think the editing process was the most frustrating part for Griffin, since he was impatient to be done. I had told him we’d print it out and get it bound, so he was excited to have a real book-like copy to enjoy.
By April I knew of the book's existence, but I hadn’t yet read any of it. When I received the completed draft, I was somewhat hesitant to undertake the reading such a large chunk of text written by an 8 year old – even if that 8 year old was my own son. To my surprise, however, the book turned out to be really good. As a colleague said when I shared a draft with him, “The book kept me reading it until the end, in one pass. It is a very interesting, clever, and engrossing story.” I also enjoyed watching my husband read the book to our other three children each night before bed. They laughed and gasped at all the right places, and begged their dada to continue reading well after lights out.
Making the Marakon Ways
In a fascinating installment of the IEEE Techwise podcast [MP3], Rice University Computational Engineering prof Moshe Vardi discusses the possibility that robots will obviate human labor faster than new jobs are created, leaving us with no jobs. This needn't be a bad thing -- it might mean finally realizing the age of leisure we've been promised since the first glimmers of the industrial revolution -- but if market economies can't figure out how to equitably distribute the fruits of automation, it might end up with an even bigger, even more hopeless underclass.
I think the issue of machine intelligence and jobs deserves some serious discussion. I don’t know that we will reach a definite conclusion, and it’s not clear how easy it will be to agree on desired actions, but I think the topic is important enough that it deserves discussion. And right now I would say it’s mostly being discussed by economists, by labor economists. It has to also be discussed by the people that produce the technology, because one of the questions we could ask is, you know, there is a concept that, for example, that people have started talking about, which is that we are using, we are creating technology that has no friction, okay? Creating many things that are just too easy to do.
Many of these ideas came up in this Boing Boing post from January, which also touches on Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, a book that Vardi mentions in his interview.
The Job Market of 2045
Back in January, I blogged my visit to Toronto's MakerKids, a wonderful makerspace for kids. Now, MakerKids is running a 3D printing weekend for kids at Toronto's Harbourfront centre. Andy from Makerkids writes, "This weekend, at the 11th annual Toronto International Circus Festival (from May 16th-18th at the Harbourfront Centre), MakerKids will be helping kids to do 3D printing of circus creatures! At our station at this free event, kids will design fantastical animals and characters they'd like to see in a circus using the 123D Creature app. The crowd's favourites will be 3D printed for their designers to bring home!"
MakerKids 3D Printing at Harbourfront this Weekend
Miss Cakehead writes, "This set of Zombie Swimming Pool Rules was comissioned from graphic designer Pictographik to promote the Resident Evil Revelations blood swimming pool, and was based on an the iconic traditional British swimming pool rules.
The pop up 'blood' filled swimming pool opens in London next week to mark the release of Resident Evil Revelations. In addition to its bloody appearance the swimming pool will offer floats in the form of human torsos, feature brains and intestines as lane markers, have Zombie lifeguards on duty and even offer a diving board in the form of a 'freshly killed human corpse'."
Zombie Pool Rules
(Thanks, Miss Cakehead!)
Kristen sez, "The DoomBuggies website has released a version of the Haunted Mansion Corridor of Doors wallpaper in fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap, and according to the DoomBuggies facebook page, it's the same graphic that has been used by Disney. 'This is created from the same artwork that we created for Disney's official Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary CD box set and CD insert,' according to Jeff Baham, the owner of DoomBuggies.com."
DoomBuggies Eye Fabric
Kaja and Phil Foglio have launched a Kickstarter to fund the printing of volume 12 of the wonderful Girl Genius webcomic, and to reprint the older books. These are multi-award-winning, independent steampunk delights, and $30 gets you "an actual, dead-tree, SOFTCOVER copy of Girl Genius Volume 12: Agatha Heterodyne and the Siege of Mechanicsburg. 192 pages in full color. Shipped to you by means of one of the largest government agencies on Earth!"
Printing the actual books is our biggest single expense. The first print run of a typical volume costs in excess of US$25,000. If that seems high, you must remember that we print eight thousand of them, and they usually run to around 120 pages. Our latest volume, number 12, will be even more expensive, as it comes in at 192 pages, and we’ll be printing nine thousand of them, because eight thousand wasn’t enough last time. Exciting? Yes, but one can’t pay the printer with excitement.
We also have to ship the books. Actually, we have to ship them twice. Once from the printer to the fulfillment center, and once again from the fulfillment center to the customer. And whether a book is shrink–wrapped with thousands of its friends onto a pallet and loaded into a truck, or carefully packaged for individual shipping, several thousand pounds of books cost serious money to transport.
It's got a short fuse on it because they want to get the books in hand in time for San Diego Comic-Con. Act now!
Girl Genius Volume 12 Printing and Reprint Frenzy!
Read the rest
When I first saw this Angus McKie illustration, I had a moment when I thought it depicted the Earth being encased in a huge, space-going shell and I flashed back to Damon Knight's spectacular novel Why Do Birds?, a straight-faced yet comic novel about a man who puts the whole human race in a box. Then I realized that the picture depicted a hollow, space-going sphere being fitted with an armored cover and my mind spun into a deep future from which it hasn't entirely returned. Beautiful work. Here's the official McKie site, but it appears to be down.