Bruce Sterling on dieselpunk, alternate history, fascism and the current political moment

In November, Bruce Sterling published "Pirate Utopia," a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism. Read the rest

Houseguests, technological literacy, and the goddamned wifi: a single chart

Randal Munroe nails it again in an XKCD installment that expresses the likelihood that your houseguests will be able to connect to your wifi (I confess to having been the "firmware" guide -- but also, having been reminded to do something about my own firmware when other difficult houseguests came to stay). Read the rest

Baratunde Thurston explains why encryption matters

Rainey from EFF writes, "EFF just launched a new video about its efforts to encrypt the web. It features bestselling author Baratunde Thurston explaining why encryption matters and two simple ways to ensure the web we love is encrypted." Read the rest

Photos of miniature models of expolanets

Artist and photographer Adam Makarenko creates miniature exoplanets and then photographs them, with gorgeous results that go beyond CGI. Read the rest

Bilingual guide to resisting trumpism, based on the Tea Party playbook

For 8 years, Tea Party activists captured Congress, electing members sympathetic to their cause and terrifying fence-sitters into backing their plays; now, in Indivisible, progressives are offered their own version of the Tea Party playbook, which explains the Tea Party's tactics and provides notes for adapting them to resisting trumpism. Read the rest

A potential college course on detecting and combating bullshit in all its forms

University of Washington profs Carl T. Bergstrom (Biology) and Jevin West (Information School) have proposed a course called "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data" that characterizes "the majority of administrative activity" as "sophisticated exercise(s) in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit" and aims to train students to "navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument." Read the rest

Revealing the cover and first excerpt of Autonomous, Annalee Newitz's long-awaited debut novel

We've followed Annalee Newitz's career here for more than a decade, from her science writing fellowship to her work as an EFF staffer to her founding of IO9 and her move to Ars Technica and the 2013 publication of her first book, nonfiction guidance on surviving the end of the world and rebooting civilization: now, I'm pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Autonomous, her debut novel, which Tor will publish in September 2017, along with the first look at her cover, designed by the incomparable Will Staehle. As her editor, Liz Gorinsky, notes, "Autonomous takes an action-packed chase narrative and adds Annalee's well-honed insight into issues of AI autonomy, pharmaceutical piracy, and maker culture to make a book that's accessible, entertaining, and ridiculously smart." I'm three quarters of the way through an early copy, and I heartily agree.

A book about London's gorgeous, brutalist architecture includes dainty DIY papercraft models to make yourself

Brutal London: Construct Your Own Concrete Capital tells the stories of nine of London's greatest brutalist structures (with an intro by Norman Foster!), including the Barbican Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, Balfron Tower and the National Theatre -- and includes pull-out papercraft models of these buildings for you to assemble and display. Read the rest

Listen: interview with Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee: 'the longest working cartoonist in history'

Brian from the Recommend if You Like podcast sez, "For episode 200 (MP3), we sat down for a 90 minute interview with Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee, who, at the age of 95 holds the title of 'the longest working cartoonist in history.'" Read the rest

Shun the parallax Bandersnatch!

By Grim Aesthetics (via Wil Wheaton) Read the rest

Here be dragons: Thrifted Ikea dresser remade with graphite paper and woodburning kit

Lorraine Andrusiak couldn't get a new Ikea Moppe dresser in Canada, but she found this one in a thrift store, marred by a thick, ugly coat of paint; so she stripped the paint, transferred vintage sea-monster art with graphite paper, and burned the decorations into the wood -- the result is gorgeous. Read the rest

The night I began loving the alien

Last year, a few days after David Bowie died, I posted the following reminiscence/remembrance to my Facebook page. On the anniversary of his death, I thought I might share it here.

It was Friday, November 16, 1973. I was 16 years old. Every Friday night, I would rush home from whatever trouble my friends and I were trying to get into to watch The Midnight Special, hosted by the chronically-howling Wolfman Jack. For a sheltered kid growing up in a small Southern Baptist town outside of Richmond, Virginia, The Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert were the critical means for seeing live-performance rock n' roll.

On this night, the show broadcast David Bowie's 1980 Floor Show, a special that had been recorded in October of 1973 at The Marquee Club in London, but not previously aired. Up to that point, I don't know how much Bowie I'd been exposed to, but it wasn't much. I'd certainly heard “Space Oddity” countless times on the radio, and likely a few other tracks, but my exposure was minimal. And I don't think I'd ever laid eyes on the man until this broadcast.

I was so excited as the show began, but that enthusiasm soon turned to confusion, then outright fear. I saw this....creature that I had no frame of reference to understand. I was looking at some strange and incomprehensible being, some OTHER. The freedom I saw, the creativity, the gender fluidity, and the flaunted sexuality, it was both seductive and alarming; this pandrogyny felt fundamentally threatening to whatever male heterosexuality I'd been trying so desperately to understand and to model. Read the rest

Kickstarting a lamp controlled by a lovely set of magnetic balls on strings

Li Zan Wen's Heng Balance Lamp uses powerful tethered magnets as an on/off switch: bring them together to turn the lamp on and break them apart to turn it off. Read the rest

Ring that resembles an extra finger

Artist Najda Buttendorf cast a replica of her own ring finger, then produced Finger-rings in a series of skintones (she also does extra ears you can wear as earrings and many other whimsical/creepy pieces). (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Lovely cast aluminum and brass science fiction sculptures

Scott Nelles is a Wisconsin sculptor who works in cast brass and aluminum, making beautiful, whimsical pieces with a strong science fictional flare tinged with strealined dieselpunk. Read the rest

San Francisco's DNA Lounge is now on Patreon

A followup from last month's warning that San Francisco's beloved DNA Lounge -- a legendary space for dance, conversation, pizza, counterculture, tech, and lulz -- may have to close: the proprietor, JWZ, is now accepting support and sponsorship through Patreon. Read the rest

How defunding Planned Parenthood killed Star Wars' Old Republic

Sarah Jeong continues her brilliant, obsessive tear through the Star Wars canon (here's yesterday's post on the difficulties of the Warsverse's storage media and IT systems), this time looking at the outsized role that the lack of obstetric care plays in the collapse of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire. Read the rest

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