Mack writes, "XyloVan is a roving musical mutant vehicle that our family built four years ago. Thousands of musicians, kids, Burners and amateur XyloVanists have enjoyed banging on the van, everywhere we've taken it.
But its weird old heart blew a gasket last summer on the way to the playa, and we had to have it towed home.
We're raising money to give it a new motor, some front-end work and general upgrades to get it back on the road, plus we're building a strobing, pulsing new lights-and-sound system for its reappearance this summer in Black Rock City, NV.
Please give our Indiegogo campaign a look - we're offering some pretty neat hand-machined perks to our generous donors. Thanks!"
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Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "Remember when Rep. Mike Rogers likened opponents of pernicious cybersecurity legislation to 14-year-olds? It turns out that middle-school-age students are also well-prepared to debate him on the NSA's programs as well.
EFF congratulates students from two middle schools who took home top prizes in the C-SPAN StudentCam 2014 competition for young filmmakers with their documentaries on the debate over mass surveillance."
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Toronto Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford flew to Los Angeles for an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. What followed was more than a little awkward. Kimmel is a great pains to hide his dislike of Ford, but he's not entirely successful. The hardest part comes at the end, when Kimmel confronts Ford with the fact that he is an out-of-control alcoholic, whose blackouts, binges, abuse and dangerous behavior are putting him, the city, and the people he loves at risk. Ford's total denial is genuinely pitiable. Joey Davilla has a very thorough writeup of the appearance, with links to the other parts of the video.
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Senate majority leader Harry Reid gave a hell of a speech in Congress about the agenda of the billionaire Koch brothers, carbon barons who are the prime beneficiaries of Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that ruled that corporate persons had the free speech right to engage in unlimited campaign finance spending.
The Facts About The Koch Brothers
(via Hacker News)
Harold Feld from Public Knowledge writes, "One of the hardest problems I face advocating for more open, shared 'unlicensed' spectrum is trying to explain exactly what 'spectrum' is and why decisions about it made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) matter. My organization, Public Knowledge, now has a two minute video animation 'Wireless Spectrum: How To Use It And Why You Might Lose It' that explains for those new to these issues.
The video ties in to our effort to save the newest unlicensed spectrum, 'TV white spaces,' from being auctioned away to the biggest wireless companies. If you agree after watching the video that we need to protect and promote open spectrum as well as get more licensed spectrum to AT&T and Verizon, please click through to our petition."
Wireless Spectrum: How To Use It And Why You Might Lose It
Vi Hart, the Internet's favorite manic vlogging mathematician, has released a new video in which she teams up with math artists Andrea Hawksley and Gwen Fisher, and Gwen's sister Ruth of Sweets by Ruth. The four of them bake satisfyingly precise and geometric gingerbread polygons, then build up a variety of astounding three dimensional forms by piecing them together with icing. The video is both hunger-inspiring and brain-inspiring, and is likely to be the best thing you watch this week.
Phil Torrone and Limor Fried send us the latest episode of Collin's Lab: "Learn how to bring a circuit from schematic to reality using a solderless breadboard - then make it permanent by reincarnating your circuit on sturdy perfboard."
Collin's Lab: Breadboards & Perfboards
"Be More Tea," an ad for Lipton's tea, is sheer genius: Kermit finds himself tempest-tossed in a hard, uncaring version of Manhattan where everyone is an avatar of Animal. Through calmness and good nature, he tames the city and rescues Miss Piggy. It's a lovely message about the power to change the world by changing how you respond to it, and funny besides.
Shame that the tea isn't very good.
How To #BeMoreTea with Lipton & The Muppets!
MC Chris, creator of such immortal nerdcore classics as Fett's Vette and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, has a new double album out: Foreverrr.
Foreverrr is an insane, lewd, lacivious, profane and obscene delight of a concept album about the romance between a lonely ghost and a grandmotherly sexbot who's taken up residence in a haunted house. It features songs about all five Ghostbusters (including Tully), as well as nods to Wednesday Addams and The Shining (it's also got a ton of silliness about Luigi, french fries, and dating woes).
Ultimately, though, as the liner notes say, "it's also about letting go of the past, letting go of your anger, letting go of people you love." Amid all the supernatural sex-jokes and fat beats, MC Chris slides a lot of poignant, autobiographical material about coming to grips with his alcoholic father, and learning how to cope with his anger rather than taking it out on hecklers at his shows.
One of the Ghostbusters tracks, 58.9, was released early as a memorial to Harold Ramis, and a fan made a rather good video for it.
The album ships on Tuesday: $25 gets you two CDs in sleeves; $45 gets you a tri-fold CD case and a t-shirt; and $65 gets you the tri-fold case, a hoodie, stickers, a poster, a tote and a button.
"Foreverrr" - MC Chris
The Trustycon folks have uploaded over seven hours' worth of talks from their event, an alternative to the RSA security conference founded by speakers who quit over RSA's collusion with the NSA. I've just watched Ed Felten's talk on "Redesigning NSA Programs to Protect Privacy" (starts at 6:32:33), an absolutely brilliant talk that blends a lucid discussion of statistics with practical computer science with crimefighting, all within a framework of respect for privacy, liberty and the US Bill of Rights.
Felten's talk lays out how the NSA's mass-collection program works, what its theoretical basis is for finding terrorists in all that data, and then explains how this is an incredibly inefficient and risky and expensive way of actually fighting crime. Then he goes on to propose an elegant alternative that gets better intelligence while massively reducing the degree of surveillance and the risk of disclosure.
I'm using Vid to MP3 to convert the whole seven hours' worth of talks to audio and plan on listening to them over the next couple of days.
Update: Here's that MP3 -- it's about 1GB. Thanks to the Internet Archive for hosting it!
TrustyCon - Live from San Francisco
Glenn sez, "R&B music was pretty bawdy before its entered the era of white appropriation and radio play. Leah Reich, an ethnographer by training and a music lover and singer by love, takes a stroll through some of the filthiest, wonderful era before all this stuff was cleaned up. Tons of links to Youtube videos and other sources."
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Sheer hilarity. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
See also: Black metal meets Benny Hill
I love reading with my daughter, Poesy, who has just turned six. We agree on almost all of her favorites, and re-reading them is one of our best-loved activities, and how we pass the time on boring bus-rides and so forth. However, there are a few books that Poesy loves, but which leave me cold. First among these is are the Ariol books, a long-running French kids' comic series that are being swiftly translated into English by Papercutz (there are three books out so far, and a fourth is due in May). Ariol was co-created by the amazing and talented Emmanuel Guibert, whose other work includes the anarcho-gonzo Sardine kids' comics; the brilliant WWII memoir Alan's War, and the extraordinary memoir of doctors in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, The Photographer.
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In 1979, William S Burroughs delivered a series of lectures on creative writing (though he insisted that he was teaching creative reading -- that is, analyzing the writing process by reading, because everyone can be taught to read, but only some will be able to write) at Naropa University. Three of these lectures, running to over four hours, are up on Youtube, covering writing exercises, Brion Gysin, Aleister Crowley, science fiction, General Semantics, and cut-ups. These are excellent listening, and are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivs-NonCommerical (as is the rest of the Naropa collection.)
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In this video, a young musician called Li-Jin Lee performs the Super Mario theme (complete with eerily accurate SFX on a Sheng, an ancient Chinese reed instrument) at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, as part of a lecture on the Sheng.
Taiwan Philharmonic (NSO) - "The Power of Sheng" w. Super Mario 超級瑪莉