Feynman explains beauty and science

Here's Richard Feynman monologing about the way that science creates new ways to appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Inspiring stuff, and the accompanying video is nicely apt.

(via Kottke) Read the rest

Jahbulon, a demon for the modern age

Steven Daily's "Jahbulon" (available as giclee on canvas print) is a thoroughly contemporary sort of demon -- the stuff of delirious and glorious nightmares.

(via Super Punch) Read the rest

GamersOptOut will send printed EULA opt-outs to game companies on your behalf

As game companies start to add conditions to their EULAs that prohibit class action suits for their negligence in handling your personal data, a collective of gamers called Gamers Opt Out have created a service that makes it easy to mail printed opt-outs from these conditions.

Individual lawsuits against game companies that harm their users through poor security practices are limited to those victims with the money and time to pursue them. Prohibiting class-action suits effectively kills the business model that consumer protection laws rely on: plaintiff-side attorneys who can recoup the millions it costs to sue companies for their transgressions and act as a check against corporate misdeeds.

Gamers Opt Out is a collective of gamers who are sick of absurd EULAs from game companies. These EULAs have clauses preventing class-action lawsuits, though you can opt out of the clauses by sending a letter. We want to make it easier for everyone to opt out because Sony, EA, et al, believe most people won't bother to. Let's show them they're wrong.

We will make it easy for you to create the letter needed to send to these companies and can even send the letter on your behalf at no cost. All we ask is that if you like what we are doing, spread the word or donate to help with the cost of paper and postage.

(via Wonderland) Read the rest

Randomly generated 3D spaceships to print on your 3D printer, generated with WebGL

Dolf sez, "Dolf Veenvliet aka macouno of Entoforms fame has been working on some fun tools to generate 3D forms. Under the ShapeWright moniker Dolf has produced a random space ship generator entitled shipWright that generates unique configurations of space ships ready for 3D printing (and freely downloadable). You can also have a personalized Space Ship generated by your name, or whatever text you enter into the build system."

This is pretty cutting-edge browser stuff. To get Firefox to try it, I had to force WebGL on -- type about:config into your location bar, then search for "webgl.force-enabled" and set it to "true."

(Thanks, Dolf!) Read the rest

Charming song about Lego

Do enjoy the lead single from USL's latest album, "Build Motherfucker!" (Thanks, Joel) Read the rest

Chocolate-covered flour sacks as benches

Dejana Kabiljo's contribution to Beijing Design Week are these flour-sacks covered in chocolate-looking polyol sponge frosting. The recyclable sofas are called LetThemSitCake.

Beijing Design Week has invited Vienna- based architect Dejana Kabiljo to contribute to the 751-D PARK DesignHop with her quirky installation “LetThemSitCake!” at 751-D PARK Power Square. Stacked bags of wheat, topped off with an oozing ‘chocolate icing’ resemble an inviting multi- layered sponge cake but are in fact soft and rather comfortable sofas inviting visitors to take a seat.

(via Crib Candy) Read the rest

Portrait of a blogger in the 1920s

Old school blogger. From Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention. Lots of other great science fiction illos on this page. (Via TIH) Read the rest

Officer accused of terrorizing citizens, still on force

Despite over 500 pages of internal affairs complaints lodged against Clayton County police officer Michael Hobbs, he is still on the force.

A Metro Atlanta police officer is accused of being out of control and assaulting the citizens he was sworn to serve and protect.

Chief Investigative Reporter Wendy Saltzman found dozens of use-of-force reports brushed aside by Clayton County internal affairs, including claims Hobbs is terrorizing citizens.

One of those citizens is Brian Hoolihan. Hoolihan passed out in his car along side a road in Clayton County in a diabetic coma back in 2007.  He had a sticker on the window of his car, warning about his life threatening medical condition.

A police report shows Officer Hobbs arrived at the scene and wrongfully assumed Hoolihan was drunk. Hobbs forced himself into the car and struck Hoolihan twice with a closed fist to the face and another blunt elbow blow to his head.

The photos of Hoolihan's face, which was beaten to a pulp while Hoolihan was in a diabetic coma, are stomach churning.

Watch Chief of Police Greg Porter defend Officer Hobbs in the video. No disciplinary action has been taken against Officer Hobbs.

Officer accused of terrorizing citizens, still on force (Via The Agitator) Read the rest

Boss creates "Guess who I'm going to fire next" contest

William Ernst, owner of the QC Mart chain of stores headquartered in Bettendorf, Iowa, has lost a court case against an employee who claimed benefits after quitting. Ernst had created a contest that invited his employees to guess who among them would be fired next, and a cashier named Misty Shelsky quit. Ernst tried to get out of paying her benefits, saying that people who voluntarily leave their positions are not entitled to unemployment pay. Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Ackerman sided with Shelsky, calling the contest "egregious and deplorable."

New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!

To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.

Here’s how the game will work: We are doubling our secret-shopper efforts, and your store will be visited during the day and at night several times a week. Secret shoppers will be looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around/behind the counter, and/or a personal car parked by the pumps after 7 p.m., among other things.

If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you will win $10 CASH. Only one winner per firing unless there are multiple right answers with the exact same name, date, and time.

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Michele Bachmann honored by Bad Lip Reading

[Video Link] A new video from Badlipreading.com always brightens my day. "I went from being two banana plants up to a thrill-seeking shark who sold pictures of different toys I wanted." (Via Dangerous Minds) Read the rest

Gallery of Hildebrandt illustrations

The fantastic Monster Brains blog has some examples of Greg and Tim Hildebrandt's excellent book cover art. The painting above is the cover for John Christopher's wonderful young adult science fiction novel from 1967, The White Mountains.

Gallery of Hildebrandt illustrations Read the rest

Miramax CEO: our biggest threat is online distribution monopolies, not piracy

Netflix CEO Mike Lang, speaking a the MIPCOM conference, discussed the problems facing his industry and suggested that while piracy isn't a big deal, chokepoints in the distribution chain were, because when there isn't enough diversity in distribution, you get intermediaries that end up totally controlling your business:

Another problem, related to the pricing issue, is the emergence of digital monopolies such as the one Apple has in the digital music business. This threatens the music industry more than piracy, Miramax’s CEO suggested.

“Apple is the strongest company in the music industry because there was not enough competition, and still to this day there is not enough competition. As an industry it can’t then influence, packaging, merchandising – all the things that are vital,” Lang said.

“As an industry – the movie industry – we have to be very cognisant of that. That’s why we did our deal with Netflix, and why we also did our deal with Hulu. We want multiple players to be successful.”

Sarandos also learned his lesson from watching the music industry struggle with their digital strategy. “When consumers tell you what they want, give it to them. Figure out a way to give it to them, because they will figure out a way to get it.”

Or in other words. Don’t blame piracy for everything, but innovate – or die.

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David Lynch's solo album

The inimitable David Lynch is releasing his first solo album on November 7. The title track, "Crazy Clown Time," can be heard at left. It's quirky, dark, and strange. Does that surprise you? Didn't think so. David Lynch Read the rest

Old ad: anguished housewife needs to be drugged

Give that lady her Serpasil!

From Wikipedia:

Reserpine was isolated in 1952 from the dried root of Rauwolfia serpentina (Indian snakeroot), (which had been known as Sarpagandaand had been used for centuries in India for the treatment of insanity, as well as fever and snakebites — even Mahatma Gandhi used it as a tranquilizer during his lifetime.

(Via TIH) Read the rest

Shadowy organization publishes blacklist of writers who track down con-artists

One of the better services provided by the Science Fiction Writers of America is Writer Beware, maintained by Victoria Strauss and Ann Crispin, which lists scammy vanity publishers, book doctors, fake agents and other entities devoted to separating hopeful writers from their money.

Predictably, Writer Beware has attracted a lot of approbation from the people who appear in its annals, and this, in turn has spawned a mysterious website called "The Write Agenda," a front for shadowy, pseudonymous individuals who purport to be a writers' group that seeks to correct the record as set out by Writer Beware. The Write Agenda includes a blacklist of writers who spoken out in favor of Writer Beware, as well incoherent bilious rants about those who make it their hobby to expose scammers and con-artists.

I woke up this morning to discover that The Write Agenda has added my friend John Scalzi to its boycott list, but not me. Frankly, I'm jealous.

Unlike those who are going out of their way to trash Victoria, Ann and Writer Beware, I’m not hiding behind of phalanx of apparently fake groups, names and social media accounts — I’m an actual live person, actually working professionally in the writing industry, who actually knows Ann and Victoria and who has benefited from the hard work they have put into Writer Beware. If Writer Beware’s long and honorable history of sticking up for writers — and sticking it to scammers — isn’t enough to convince you of its good works, consider this my personal endorsement.

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Corn mazes across the country celebrate NASA

Nothing makes more sense than this. Rachel Hobson of CRAFT says:

In a special outreach titled Space Farm 7, seven of the nation's top agritourism farms have been selected to celebrate and honor the U.S. space program in collaboration with NASA this fall. Each farm has planted corn mazes that will feature designs celebrating NASA's achievements and progress in space.

Corn mazes across the country celebrate NASA Read the rest

Strange Russian "numbers station"

In the new issue of Wired, Peter Savodnik wrote a great story about the very strange Russian shortwave station UVB-76. Known as the Buzzer because of the buzz patterns it transmits, UVB-76 is most likely a "numbers station" that governments use to transmit secret info to operatives around the world. The article reminded me of the piece I wrote about Numbers Stations for the old bOING bOING Digital webzine back in 1999. Fascinating stuff and I love that the mystery continues! From Wired:

The amplitude and pitch of the buzzing sometimes shifted, and the intervals between tones would fluctuate. Every hour, on the hour, the station would buzz twice, quickly. None of the upheavals that had enveloped Russia in the last decade of the cold war and the first two decades of the post-cold-war era—Mikhail Gorbachev, perestroika, the end of the Afghan war, the Soviet implosion, the end of price controls, Boris Yeltsin, the bombing of parliament, the first Chechen war, the oligarchs, the financial crisis, the second Chechen war, the rise of Putinism—had ever kept UVB-76, as the station’s call sign ran, from its inscrutable purpose. During that time, its broadcast came to transfix a small cadre of shortwave radio enthusiasts, who tuned in and documented nearly every signal it transmitted. Although the Buzzer (as they nicknamed it) had always been an unknown quantity, it was also a reassuring constant, droning on with a dark, metronome-like regularity.

But on June 5, 2010, the buzzing ceased. No announcements, no explanations. Only silence.

Read the rest

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