Precisely how the MPAA cooks the books on piracy losses

The Cato institute's dug deep into the MPAA's funny piracy accounting: "In IPI-land, when a movie studio makes $10 selling a DVD to a Canadian, and then gives $7 to the company that manufactured the DVD and $2 to the guy who shipped it to Canada, society has benefitted by $10+$7+$2=$19. Yet some simple math shows that this is nonsense: the studio is $1 richer, the trucker is $2, and the manufacturer is $7. Shockingly enough, that adds up to $10. What each participant cares about is his profits, not his revenues." Read the rest

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: "State of the World 2012"

Old-school bOING bOING contributors Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky posted their annual State of the World discussion on the good ol' Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link. Sidle up for some fine brain tennis. Jon says:

The reality we're in today is reflected in responses I got when I asked my online social network what they thought we would cover (in this State of the World discussion). They suggested a diverse list: climate change, Arab spring and social media-driven political upheaval, courage, "1984," Fahrenheit 451, the future of Occupy, global economics, underground economies, cyberwar, favela chic, dead media, the future of the Internet in light of pending legislation (SOPA etc.) and emerging alternative networks, space wars, and private drone fleets (for tactical protest command, celebrity capture, and industrial intelligence).

"Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012" Read the rest

Create your own My Little Pony

OMG there are like 1000 different hairstyles! Nonetheless, while I am proud of my Pony, this has failed to turn me into a Brony. [General Zoi's Pony Creator via Metafilter. Previously]

UPDATE: My father sends me a poem that he alleges I wrote about My Little Pony as a 6 or 7 year-old.

I love my little pony I take good care of him I dip its hair in treacle And throw it in the bin

When the bin-man comes He throws him on the floor "Can't take you to the landfill We already have a score"

So my little pony Goes to the garden shed And when the cat is out Occupies its bed

And when the cat comes home He says: "Who let you in? The only place for a pony Is in the garden bin"

Clearly to be sung to the tune of this advertisement. Read the rest

Pan-Am's ad for poseur cowboys

This Pan-Am ad from 1983 really grabbed my attention with an oddly disharmonious message: first you have the cowboy, sleeping with his hat over his eyes, a symbol of ruggedness and the ability to relax and sleep anywhere, out on the range under a cactus. But then you have the ad's USP: "Delta has spacious, comfortable seats." Do cowboys really value comfort? Isn't that a little citified? You know: "The chores! The stores! Fresh air! Times Square!" Or "East is east and west is west and the wrong one I have chose."

Ah, but the cowboy is wearing a suit. He's not a cowboy, he's a poseur, a nouveau riche oilman who likes to play pretend-cowboy as he jets from one five-star suite to the next. He doesn't clear brush on his ranch, he hires real roughnecks to do that, because otherwise he'd ruin his fancy manicure. So the value proposition here comes down to: Fly Pan-Am, it's the airline for insecure fake cowboys who have too much money.


Contest Entry: Pan Am, "FIRST In Space", 1983 Read the rest

Ken Goldberg on social learning among robots

Over at the Huffington Post, UC Berkeley roboticist/artist Ken Goldberg writes about the future of social robots that help each other learn to better navigate a world they never made. From HuffPo (image of Goldberg's TeleGarden):

Our robots are signing up for online learning. After decades of attempts to program robots to perform complex tasks like flying helicopters or surgical suturing, the new approach is based on observing and recording the motions of human experts as they perform these feats. Statistical Robot Learning, pioneered by researchers such as UC Berkeley's Pieter Abbeel, infers the underlying intentions of experts by analyzing patterns in their motions. My students and I are working with Abbeel on a new project to incorporate models of sensing so that these robots can cope with noise and adapt to changing conditions…

As humans embrace new forms of social media to keep connected with friends and colleagues, our robots are becoming increasingly sociable. Researchers at Google and several university labs are working on "Cloud Robotics," where robots benefit from four aspects of the Internet: (1) the availability of thousands of cloud-based processors to compute solutions remotely, rather than onboard the robot, (2) vast databases of information describing the physical properties of environments and commercially-available objects, (3) the ability of robots to share information with other robots about past successes (and failures), and (4) the availability, when all else fails, to contact remote human operators to ask for advice.

"The Robot with the Dragon Tattoo" Read the rest

Tea pouring wizard

[Video Link] Gravity seems to work differently at this Bangkok bazaar. (Via Tai-Wiki-Widbee) Read the rest

Sunnygirls perform "From A Distance"

[Video Link]Introducing the new teen sensation, The Sunnygirls, direct from Sweden. (So, that's where Slim Jim Phantom got the idea of standing up while drumming.) Sunnygirls perform "From A Distance" Read the rest

Recess Stories: great show for kids

Recess Stories #3: Rat Story web series for kids from Beeswax Productions on Vimeo.

Recess Stories is a series of short fictional films about realistic kids' having kid-sized adventures on a school playground. In episode 3, the kids are excited about reports of a rat on the playground. I am excited to watch these with my 8-year-old.

Recess Stories Read the rest

Nathan Richard Phelps's oil pen marvels

One evening this week, my wife and I were walking on Market Street in San Francisco when we were awestruck by the painting at left leaning in the window of the E6 Gallery. The artist, Nathan Richard Phelps, was inside hanging his work for a solo show opening this Friday. He must have noticed our stunned expressions because he opened the door to chat for a bit. A delightful guy, he explained that this huge (7 foot tall!) oil pen painting, titled "Tompkins Window," was commissioned by a couple living in a Manhattan apartment. Makes sense, as the piece has an architectural/city planning vibe to it but also evokes memories of early computer drawing programs that, as my wife said, might run on a 1980s Atari. Several of Phelps's paintings are in this angular style while others are all about organic curved forms in almost op art patterns. They are all marvelous.

Nathan Richard Phelps

E6 Gallery Read the rest

File-sharing becomes a recognized religion in Sweden

Sweden has given official religious status to Church of Kopimism, a faith and philosophy based on file-sharing. The faith's foundational document, ""POwr, broccoli and Kopimi," is available as a .torrent file indexed on The Pirate Bay (natch). It exhorts followers to undertake 100 tasks to attain #g_d (a hashtagged, all-lower-case version of the observant Jewish tradition of writing God as "G_d").

001. Obtain the Internet. 002. Start using IRC. 003. Group and birth a site. 004. Experiment with research chemicals. 005. Design a three-step program. 006. Take a powerful stance for something positive and essential. 007. Regulate nothing. 008. Say that you have to move in two weeks, but stay for seven months. Come back a year later and do it all over again. 009. ROTFLOL. 010. Relax, you’re already halfway there. 011. Just kidding. 012. Don’t think outside the box. Build a box. 013. Support support. 014. Organize and go to parties and fairs. 015. Start 30–40 blogs about the same things. 016. Drain the private sector of coders, graphic artists and literati. 017. Create a prize that is awarded. 018. Express yourself often in the media, vaguely. 019. Spread all rumors. 020. Seek out and try carding, and travel by expensive trains. Don’t order sushi. 021. Start a radio station. 022. Everything you use, you can copy and give an arbitrary name, whether it’s a news portal, search engine or public service. 023. Buy a bus. 024. Install a MegaHAL. 025. Make sure that you are really good friends with people who can use Photoshop, HTML, databases, and the like.

Read the rest

Forecast uncertain: Chaos theory, weather prediction, and brain cancer

A diagnosis of brain cancer is basically a death sentence. It's a terrible thing for anyone to deal with, and it's only made worse by all the uncertainty. Doctors don't really understand how brain cancer works very well. Beyond death, there's often not a lot that they can tell patients about what to expect—how the cancer will affect the brain, how fast it will spread, where it will spread to.

Eric Kostelich is one of the researchers who is trying to change that, by approaching the problem of brain cancer  from a new angle. Kostelich is a mathematician. In particular, he's interested in how we can use math to better predict the behavior of complex and chaotic systems. Right now, this mostly means that he studies the weather. In fact, he's part of a team that developed a new algorithm for weather prediction, called the Local Ensemble Transform Kalman Filter. But Kostelich thinks that the LETKF could have applications outside the nightly news.

In a recent study, published December 21 in Biology Direct, he joined forces with cancer researchers, to see whether the statistical methods that make chaotic weather patterns more predictable could do the same thing for chaotic behavior in cancer cells. The results are promising. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Kostelich to find out more about the history of forecasting uncertainty, how algorithms like LETKF work, and what we might learn if we apply these systems to cancer. 

 Maggie Koerth-Baker: When you set out to apply the methods used to forecast the weather to cancer, why did you choose brain cancer?  Read the rest

Electric cars suck

Joel Johnson, formerly of Kotaku and Boing Boing Gadgets, is now at Jalopnik. His first editorial: You Are Not Alone. America Hates Electric Cars. Read the rest

TSA Confiscated Cupcake Song: "Code Red Velvet: Cupcakes of Mass Destruction"

Rebecca Hains is the lady whose cupcake was confiscated by a TSA supervisor at the Las Vegas airport because its frosting was a "gel." The story broke here, and has gone nationwide, as a grieving land shakes its head in sorrow for the departed and dead principle of common sense.

Rebecca sez, "Thanks again for sharing my cupcake confiscation story! Some friends and I just posted a fun CUPCAKE TERROR video to YouTube. It vividly illustrates the SERIOUS threat terrorist cupcakes pose to national security. (Actually, it's also a PSA about civil liberties, but don't tell anybody!)"

Code Red Velvet: Cupcakes of Mass Destruction Read the rest

Cabbage flute

This clever fellow has made a flute* out of a cabbage.

* (or possibly an ocarina)

Cabbage slide flute-Lightly Row-

(via Tokyomango) Read the rest

The best New York Times correction ever

Correction: December 30, 2011

An article on Monday about Jack Robinson and Kirsten Lindsmith, two college students with Asperger syndrome who are navigating the perils of an intimate relationship, misidentified the character from the animated children's TV show "My Little Pony" that Ms. Lindsmith said she visualized to cheer herself up. It is Twilight Sparkle, the nerdy intellectual, not Fluttershy, the kind animal lover.

Navigating Love and Autism [NYT via Kerri Hicks.]

Update: Kat Stoeffel of The New York Observer reports on the the background story behind the correction, and the journalistic attention to detail it represents. Read the rest

Police unsure if woman urinated on $30m abstract expressionist painting

A Denver woman allegedly caused $10,000 worth of damage to Clyfford Still's 1957-J no.2, punching and scratching the abstract expressionist painting. Police remain unsure, however, whether she succeeded in an attempt to urinate upon the masterpiece, valued at $30m.

Carmen Tische, 36, of Denver, Co., who was charged with felony criminal mischief, "rubbed her buttocks against it while urinating", according to police spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough. Kimbrough added, however, that there's no evidence that urine damaged the painting, so they have not charged her with that. [Reuters] Read the rest

Meetup groups for visiting your Congresspeople and Senators at home and giving them an earful about SOPA and PIPA

Michael sez, "Congress is on recess and at home, which gives the public an opportunity to tell Members how bad SOPA and PIPA are in person. Members hold town halls, but they are often announced on short notice. This Meetup group keeps track of all important town halls, and adds more as they are announced. Sign up to hear about town halls near you and about ones in other states where your friends live."

A place for citizens to discover, report and attend attend townhall meetings held by elected officials in the US Senate and House of Representatives concerning Senate Bill "Protect IP Act" or PIPA and the "Stop Online Piracy Act," or "SOPA" If you want to attend a townhall, but your state is not yet listed, please contact us!

Real People Against SOPA + PIPA Read the rest

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