Won't someone please think of the kitten videos

For various reasons, this week degraded into cute baby animal week here at Boing Boing. There was something floating around about an internet catfight; then duckies, then puppies, then everyone learned how to just get along. The final word, above: techno kittens.

Bonus: a cat eating corn on the cob, another licking a green sour apple lollipop, and one more who taught himself how to eat with a fork. Read the rest

video: Doug Rushkoff at the Personal Democracy Forum

Old-school Boing Boing pal Douglas Rushkoff is an incredibly provocative, engaging, and entertaining speaker. Last week, he did the opening "invocation" for the Personal Democracy Forum where he riffed semi-freeform on a slew of topics, from branding to participatory media to the theme of his next book, Corporatized. The video is now online. Douglas Rushkoff at the Personal Democracy Forum (Blip.tv) Read the rest

UK Home Secretary green-lights harassment of photographers in public places

Jacqui Smith, the British Home Secretary has sent a letter reported on by the British Journal of Photographers stating that the practice of harassing photographers who take pictures in public places is legitimate, though there is no law against it.

'First of all, may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places,' Smith writes. 'Also, as you will be aware, there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.'

However, the Home Secretary adds that local restrictions might be enforced. 'Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.

'It is for the local Chief Constable, in the case of your letter the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force, to decide how his or her Officers and employees should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection.'


(Thanks, Michael!) Read the rest

RIP, Thomas M Disch

Sf author Thomas M Disch committed suicide at his apartment on July 4. Patrick Nielsen Hayden's eulogy paints a picture of a man who was brilliant, noble, foolish, difficult and angry. I only knew him through his fiction, from which I learned a great deal. Patrick writes:

I certainly read him; his SF novels of the 1960s and 70s, particularly Camp Concentration and 334, had an enormous impact on me. But “least read” may be true: according to publishing legend, his SF masterpiece On Wings of Song had a 90% return rate in its 1980 Bantam paperback edition. Despite that, he went on to hit bestseller lists with his 1991 horror novel The M.D. Just as unexpectedly, his children’s book The Brave Little Toaster was adapted into a popular Disney cartoon.

He could be hard to take, both in person and in his public interactions with the SF world. He played the game of literary politics hard, and sometimes lost badly. He frequently seemed to have no patience for his allies, much less his enemies. Of his other career, as noted poet Tom Disch, I can’t say much, except that to my mind the poetry was often good. In his later years he wrote a blog; after he began to post frequently on the depravity of Muslims and immigrants, I became unable to keep reading it.

The Disch I prefer to remember was no nicer than that, but much smarter: a brittle and brilliant ironist with a bright wit and no optimism whatsoever.

Read the rest

Beaming sounds into your head

MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) is a device that uses microwave pulses to beam sound directly into someone's head. In development by the Sierra Nevada Corporation originally under a US Navy contract, MEDUSA can apparently fill your head with incapacitating "shockwaves" or possibly even whispered messages. From New Scientist:

(Researcher Lev) Sadovnik says the technology could have non-military applications. Birds seem to be highly sensitive to microwave audio, he says, so it might be used to scare away unwanted flocks.

Sadovnik has also experimented with transmitting microwave audio to people with outer ear problems that impair their normal hearing.

Microwave sound beam (New Scientist, more at Danger Room) Read the rest

Cory's free talk/reading in Seattle this Tuesday

I'm giving a public reading and talk in Seattle this Tuesday as part of the excellent Clarion West reading series, through which all six instructors do free appearances (you can meet the Clarion West students at these, too!). There's also a public party on Friday.

Where: University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE in Seattle When: Tuesday, July 8, 7PM

Link Read the rest

Matchmaker service gets books from publishers to bloggers

Jim sez, "MiniBooksExpo is a neat matchmaker service for publishers who want to get review copies to interested bloggers and bloggers who want to review books. It's Canadian, and it's a model I'd like to see more of as an occasional reviewer and an indie publisher."


(Thanks, Jim!) Read the rest

Toronto gallery hangs show of art in opposition to the Canadian DMCA

Toronto's Edward Day Gallery has a wonderful response to Canada's proposed new copyright law, Bill C-61, which mirrors (and exceeds) the American DMCA. They've hung a show called Appropos featuring art that the new bill criminalises.

The locks will prevent artistic, legitimate and legal uses of media. The Appropriation Art Coalition, a coalition of art professionals across Canada oppose Bill C-61, advocating that if the new legislation is passed, it will make it "illegal to access existing material, modify it, comment on it and/or publicly display it. Criticism, parody and satire, under Bill C-61 become criminal acts." A National Post comments reader, GeofG, suggests that since the Bill prohibits circumventing digital locks, "taking a clip from DVD for purposes of parody or political criticism is outlawed; unlocking your cell phone is banned…as is watching overseas DVD’s". Another response to the Bill from Dala concludes that "A future with digital locks is one where works go into the Disney vault and never come out again".

The Appropos group exhibition is based on the work of artists whose use of imagery integrates existing popular culture products/icons. One of the purposes of the exhibition is to emphasize the crucial relevance of appropriation to contemporary visual artists and their studio practice. As revisions to Copyright Act legislation, known as the Act to Amend the Copyright Act, are currently underway by the Canadian government, there are valid concerns that the elements of contemporary artistic practice such as appropriation and "quoting" could potentially be outlawed by draconian legislation.

Read the rest

Clarion West laptops all replaced

Clarion West's Nisi Shawl writes,

Thanks for Your Generous Response to Clarion West Dorm Burglary

Due to the swift and generous response of the SF community, Clarion West has now received nearly enough money to replace the four student laptops stolen July 4 from rooms at the workshop residence. Clarion West staff, volunteers, and students all express their thanks for your very timely help. They especially want to thank BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow, Jay Lake, and many more for their generosity and for alerting others to the need for money and laptops. Donations began coming in from around the world just hours after the theft.

"If we collect funds that are much in excess of the cost of replacing the stolen computers, we will return them proportionally to the donors," said workshop administrator Leslie Howle. "The use of PayPal makes this relatively easy to do." She added, "We are all overwhelmed, and the students are immensely grateful. They were devastated by this theft, and it's been amazing to see the community rally to support them."

Link Read the rest

Sf fans seek donations in the aftermath of a terrible car wreck

John sez, "A few days ago, some fans en route to Westercon had a terrible car accident. Seattle's Roberta "Bert" Carlson was killed in the wreck. Nick Navota lost some fingers despite the airlift and had a couple re-attached that hopefully are going to take, Howitzer was banged up some, Will Boyde is mostly OK as is Nez.

"Roberta was Rustycon's chair this year and will be greatly missed.

"Will Boyde, a long time fan and support staff volunteer in the Pacific Northwest who I've worked with, has purchased airline tickets for them to get back home since the car was totaled. Will isn't rich though, and any donations to help defray the return trips cost would be greatly appreciated. Any excess funds will be donated to Roberta's family. Donations can be paypal'd to : wboyde @ eskimo.com ."


(Thanks, John!) Read the rest