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EFF announces the 2015 Pioneer Award winners


Caspar Bowden, Citizen Lab, Anriette Esterhuysen and the Association for Progressive Communications, and Kathy Sierra will be awarded the EFF's prestigious prize recognizing the leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier.

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Soylent's new liquid form is kind of spermy, and the guy behind it is sort of creepy

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Annalee Newitz writes at Gizmodo about Rob Rhinehart, erstwhile “creepy nerd messiah” who today posted a long-ass personal essay to mark the release of Soylent 2.0, “the next version of his sperm-esque food replacement drink.”

We read all of the Soylent guy's essay so you do not have to. As Annalee says, it's basically about “how he’s given up alternating current so he can get ready for his life as a space cyborg.”

There are more than 35 paragraphs in Rob Rhinehart's blog post today. Here's the first.

The walls are buzzing. I know this because I have a magnet implanted in my hand and whenever I reach near an outlet I can feel them. I can feel fortresses of industry miles away burning prehistoric hydrocarbons by the megaton. I can feel the searing pain and loss of consciousness from when I was shocked by exposed house wiring as a boy. I can feel the deep cut of the power bill when I was living near the poverty line. I can feel the cold uncertainty of the first time the power went out due to a storm when I was a child. How long before the delicate veil of civilization turns to savagery with no light nor heat nor refrigeration?

Savagery! Perish the thought.

At Gizmodo, Annalee writes:

Rhinehart has all the hallmarks of a future cult leader. First of all, he’s marketing a pseudoscientific bullshit product, Soylent, which promises to liberate your nerd mind from its analog meatsack. Though actual nutritionists say replacing your food with Soylent is a bad idea, why should you trust them? Rhinehart, an electrical engineer, knows better. If you just drink Soylent, you no longer need to do icky physical things like eat solid food and store rotting items in your house. (Yes, he actually refers to food as “rotting ingredients,” which is not exactly a good sign from a dude trying to sell you things to eat.)

But now Rhinehart has taken it to the next level. He isn’t just trying to sell you on a dubious product from science fiction. Now he’s discovered that the road to enlightenment is slick with Soylent. In today’s manifesto, he’ll sell you on a whole new way of life. Inject your fingers with magnets so you can feel electrical current. Then give up on dirty, dirty alternating current, which uses up so much energy. Use a butane “space stove” to heat water for your coffee. Ride in Ubers to cut down on emissions (that is, if you can’t ride “robot horse cheetahs, or drone multicopters.”) Get your clothing custom-made in China, and stop doing laundry. Drink Soylent warm so you don’t need a fridge.

Doctor Who stars enjoy adorable Comic Con rivalry

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What's right with Hermione

14-year-old Naomi Horn says the heroine of JK Rowling's Harry Potter series remains a depressingly rare example of a fictional female respected for her education and intelligence. In Hermione’s world, being smart is what makes her important.Read the rest

Gregory Benford on Philip K. Dick

SF author/physicist Gregory Benford reminisces about his friend Philip K. Dick:

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Meet the man who remade Middle‑earth

Ethan Gilsdorf interviews John Howe, Tolkien Illustrator and Conceptual Designer of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Movie TrilogiesRead the rest

Long Hidden: re-telling colonialization from the point of view of the colonized

Read Rose Fox and Daniel José Older's introduction to The Long Hidden, a new anthology of historical fiction.Read the rest

RIP, H.R. Giger, 1940-2014

The famous Swiss surrealist leaves behind some of the twentieth century's most impressive and startling artwork. Here are our favorite biomechanical wonders.Read the rest

MK Wren's Shadow of the Swan

Enjoy the second part of MK Wren's new ebook, offered exclusively by Boing BoingRead the rest

San Francisco police beat up and detain Good Samaritans who call 911 and perform first aid on accident victim


Peretz Partensky and her his friend had just had a dinner at a restaurant in San Francisco's SOMA district when they happened on an injured woman who had fallen off her bicycle. They called 911 and performed first aid while they waited for emergency services. When the police got there, they beat up Partensky's friend and detained him, and when Partensky objected, they cuffed, brutalized and arrested him. Injured and in an holding cell, she asked to see a doctor, and the SFPD deputies on duty at the jail stripped him naked and threw him in solitary confinement and marked him as a candidate for psychiatric evaluation.

Partensky complained to the SF Office of Citizen Complaints, documenting him plight in eye-watering detail (Partensky works for a company that supplies software to the restaurant on whose doorstep the entire incident took place, and they were happy to hand him CCTV footage of the incident). The entire procedure then went dark, because in San Francisco, you aren't allowed to know what happens to police officers who beat you up, thanks to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.

One of the officers who harassed, beat, and wrongfully arrested Partensky, Paramjit Kaur, is already the subject of a civil rights suit. The other SFPD personnel who attacked and arrested the Good Samaritans are Officers Gerrans and Andreott.

For Partensky, the take-away message is clear: if you see someone who needs medical assistance, don't call 911, because the police might come and beat you up. Instead, help that person get to the hospital in a taxi.

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Classic British sci-fi show Blake's 7 returns ... to Xbox

Blake's 7, the classic BBC science fiction show, is coming back.

A Microsoft-funded reprise of the 1978-1981 series is headed to the Xbox Live service, according to The Financial Times (paywall), replacing earlier plans to revive the show on the SyFy channel. SyFy's choice of director, Martin Campbell, will still helm the new production.

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Save the Castro's Theater's mighty Wurlitzer!


A reader writes, "The Mighty Wurlizter at San Francisco's Castro Theatre is in danger of being sold. There is an attempt being made to purchase the Wulitzer and upgrade some needed elements. The organ at the Castro is a beloved San Francisco treasure, it would be a pity to lose it!"

Amen. This is one of San Francisco's great, underappreciated attractions, along with the Musee Mechanique and Alcatraz. It needs saving.

Join Us in Preserving a San Francisco Musical Tradition

Cory's last night in San Francisco tonight!

Tonight's my last night in San Francisco on my Homeland tour. I'll be at Borderlands books at 7PM. Tomorrow I'll be at the Leonardo in Salt Lake City; and on Sunday I'll be at Changing Hands in Tempe, AZ. Come on down (and thanks to everyone who came by the Booksmith last night!).

US naval analyst on science fiction space warfare

NewImageForeign Policy magazine interviewed naval analyst Chris Weuve, a former US Naval War College research professor, about space warfare in science fiction.

Has sci-fi affected the way that our navies conduct warfare?

CW: This is a question that I occasionally think about. Many people point to the development of the shipboard Combat Information Center in World War II as being inspired by E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman novels from the 1940s. Smith realized that with hundreds of ships over huge expanses, the mere act of coordinating them was problematic. I think there is a synergistic effect. I also know a number of naval officers who have admitted to me that the reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn't hiring.

"Aircraft Carriers in Space" (Thanks, Todd Lappin!)

Lord of the Rings: The Orcs' side of the story, told in LEGO

[Video Link] A short LEGO parody telling the Orcs' side of the story from Lord of the Rings, Directed and Animated by Kevin Ulrich.

Snarky (but accurate) Prometheus review

Henry Rothwell has an epically long, epically snarky review of Prometheus, entertainingly and engagingly written. Its fundamental point is that science fiction films are visually consistent, not logically consistent (the opposite of science fiction novels, which is why I'm a pain in the ass to take to sf movies). Rothwell gets there by pretty humorous means.

The first duty of the captain is, naturally, to decorate the Christmas tree. Because it’s Christmas apparently. Charlize Theron reminds him that there is a mission briefing. He informs her that he has yet to have breakfast. He’s been asleep for two years, and decides to decorate a Christmas tree (while smoking a cigar in a closed environment) before he has breakfast. We realise that the crew selection procedure was yet another casualty of the cuts required to ensure that they had a sodding big spaceship (SBS from here on in).

At the breakfast table a rather nice biologist (played by Raef Spall, son of Timothy) introduces himself to a grumpy geologist, who is very rude. Later on, he confirms he’s the geologist, by shouting “I’m a geologist, I fucking love rocks!” as if that was the most pressing point that needed explaining. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The current point that needs explaining is the implication that these two crew members have managed to make it this far without actually meeting each other, and are plainly incompatible. It seems that at least one part of the crew selection procedure took the form of a raffle at an arsehole convention.

Prometheus: an archaeological perspective (sort of).

Ray Bradbury at NASA JPL, 1971, reading his poem "If Only We Had Taller Been" (video)

[Video Link] A beautiful video from NASA JPL honoring Ray Bradbury, who died Tuesday, June 5 2012 at 91.

Through the years, Ray Bradbury attended several major space mission events at JPL/Caltech. On Nov. 12, 1971, on the eve of Mariner 9 going into orbit at Mars, Bradbury took part in a symposium at Caltech with Arthur C. Clarke, journalist Walter Sullivan, and scientists Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray. In this excerpt, Bradbury reads his poem, "If Only We Had Taller Been."

(Thanks, Stephanie L. Smith)