Wordplay Festival of Writerly Games

Jim Munroe sez, "The first WordPlay Festival of Writerly Games is happening at the majestic Toronto Reference Library on Sat. Nov. 16 for International Games at Your Library Day. It has an in-discussion-with interview with the Chicago-based Kentucky Route Zero game makers, a workshop led by Christine Love for making your own interactive fiction, and a panel on book/game intersections featuring Hamlet CYOA author and webcomics impresario Ryan North and Hugo award winner Peter Watts. It even features a world premiere delivered by Oculus Rift!"

Curl up with a good game.

(Thanks, Jim) Read the rest

Muzzling Canadian scientists: Comparing US and Canadian routine scientific secrecy

Canada's Conservative government has become notorious for muzzling government scientists, requiring them to speak through political minders (often callow twentysomethings with no science background who received government jobs in exchange for their work on election campaigns). Government scientists are not allowed to speak to the press alone no matter how trivial the subject, and the default position when reporters seek interviews is to turn them down. (Much of Canada's state-funded science pertains to the climate and the environment; Canada's Tories were elected with strong backing from the dirty tar sands and other polluting industries)

A group of University of British Columbia students decided to measure just how extraordinarily secretive science has become in Stephen Harper's Canada. Dave Ng writes: Read the rest

Coming to LA: Krampusfest!, from the remains of the Cacophony Society

Al writes, "KKrampusfest LA is a series of of Krampus events produced throughout December 2013 by the remnants (or 'sleeper cell') of LA Cacophony Society. We have been working on hand-crafted scratch-made Krampus costumes & masks for about a year, and we are the first Krampus run in the Western US. These events were contrived, in part as a response and alternative to the Santacon mess we Cacophonists set loose oh, so many years ago. The first official event is 12/7, the costumed 'Krampus Ball' with traditional Bavarian folk dancing, alpenhorn, as well as costumed bands like 'The Kramps' and 'Krampwerk.' Read the rest

"Huh" is the universal word

"Is 'Huh?' a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items is a new paper in PLoS One by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The authors propose that "Huh" is a word, and that convergent evolution has driven multiple, unrelated languages to produce it. The key findings summary shows just how special and interesting this is: "Huh" is not innate (other primates don't say it), but the circumstances of its use (needing to quickly and briefly prompt another speaker to repeat herself) are universal, so languages that share no commonalities still converged on this word. Read the rest

Rob Ford's exaggerated and imaginary savings to the taxpayers of Toronto

Rob Ford claims that he should be excused for his crack-fuelled, drunken rages while serving as mayor of Toronto, because of the billion dollars he's saved the city. But as a line-by-line analysis of Laughable Bumblefuck's fiscal claims demonstrates, he's just another politician, cooking the books. Read the rest

Opinion Piece on Controversial Subject

Edward Sharp-Paul's An Opinion Piece On A Controversial Topic is some pretty awesome meta ("I was inspired to write this piece by Currently Fashionable Polemicist, who summarised the Issue better than I could when they said 'oversimplification that makes me feel smart'. I have a strong opinion on this Issue, and my sharing it with you at this time is in no way attributable to opportunism on my part."). But it really leaps into full-flight when you hit the comments ("Do not understand why you wrote about this Issue, when this other Issue exists."). Read the rest

New hammerhead shark discovered

Sneaky fellow looks just like the other ones. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] Read the rest

The Three O'Clock "Tomorrow" (1983)

In keeping with the idea that 1983 was a good year for music, here's a track from one of my favorite albums of the era, "Tomorrow," which appeared on The Three O'Clock's Sixteen Tambourines (I embedded the entire album here because I like all the songs on it). I know this lightweight music is not everyone's cup of tea, but I have a soft spot for The Three O'Clock, The Knack, Paul Collins Beat, The Dream Syndicate, The Records, the Bangles, and so on.

See also: "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo, and "Gone Daddy Gone" by The Violent Femmes. Read the rest

Feds subject drug suspect to vaginal/anal probe, X-ray, CT Scan, without a warrant -- find nothing

The ACLU is representing a New Mexico woman in her fifties who was subjected by federal agents to a two-handed (!) vaginal and anal examination, an involuntary X-ray and CAT scan, and was forced to defecate in front of strangers. The woman was suspected of being in possession of drugs, on the basis of a drug-dog alert at the Juarez/El Paso border-crossing. No drugs were found. The federal agents -- it's not clear what agency they were with -- did not obtain a warrant. The doctors at University Medical Center in El Paso performed the procedures without the victim's consent, including the CT scan, which subjects people to a high dose of potentially harmful radiation.

The ACLU of New Mexico is certainly developing some deep expertise on the subject of involuntary, drug-war anal probes: see this earlier story by Mark. Read the rest

Our latest hand-picked video faves, in Boing Boing's video archives

Some of the most recent selections on our video archive page:

"Path of Blood," by animator Eric Power •

Wall of Voodoo: "Mexican Radio"

Jerry Garcia on The Acid Tests

Asphalt Snowboarding

• Taiwanese Animators do crack with Rob Ford

• Michael Stipe sings Lou Reed's Pale Blue Eyes (1983)

• People posing for a photo that's actually a video

• Regex Runner: a game to teach regular expressions to kids

Boing Boing: Video archives

Read the rest

Caturday, Chocolate Edition

Below, a sneaky-cam shot of Miss Shelley Winters, the cat companion of web comic artist R. Stevens. Rich sent me a care package to cheer me up around a recent surgery, and they contained an assortment of delicious cat-shaped vegan chocolates.

The Black Cat Truffle, by heavenly-chocolate.com: "Dark chocolate ganache in the shape of a cat with sunflower seeds for ears, enrobed in dark chocolate and hand-decorated." I am enjoying its decapitated head while sipping my morning coffee out of one of R. Stevens' "Fucking Coffee" mugs. Read the rest

Blinded by the Light

A probe hurtling towards Mercury stops talking. A member of the Messenger spacecraft team, Chris Krupiarz, recalls the fingernail-biting moments.

Business-logic of cooperating with the NSA has changed

In an Atlantic editorial, Bruce Schneier discusses the post-Snowden business-climate. The NSA relied on Internet giants to do surveillance for them (surveillance being a major part of the Big Data business model), and pre-Snowden, there was no real downside to cooperating with illegal NSA spying requests -- in some cases, spooks would shower your company with money if it went along with the gag. Post-Snowden, all surveillance cooperation should be presumed to be destined to be made public, and that's changed the corporate calculus. Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Petraeus can't keep his drone in his pants; Ayers on life as a political football; Virtual merkins

One year ago today

CIA chief Petraeus steps down, having failed to keep his drone in his pants: David H. Petraeus, the head of America's Central Intelligence Agency, resigned just days after the election after issuing a statement saying he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

Five years ago today

Bill Ayers: "What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been." Former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers says the experience of being made a political prop during the recently completed American presidential campaign was not unlike a vivid LSD trip.

Ten years ago today

Merkins for virtual people: If your morph-porn is perfect save for the pubes, the virtual merkin is an $8 library that you can use to generate picture-perfect thatches. Read the rest

Crowdfunding a science fiction pinup calendar to fund the Clarion workshop

The Clarion Writing Workshop at UC San Diego is the oldest science fiction writing workshop in the world, and it's graduated distinguished alumni from Bruce Sterling and Nalo Hokinson to Kathe Koja and Ted Chiang (and me, for the record). I'm on the board of the Clarion Foundation, the charitable 501(c)3 that oversees the workshop and fundraises to keep tuition as low as possible.

This year, we've partnered with Lee Moyers, who's done a series of very successful pinup calendars featuring characters from science fiction and fantasy, and we're raising money on Indiegogo to fund the initial print run. The calendar, when produced, will feature characters from Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Mary Robinette Kowal, Pat Murphy, Kate Wilhelm, Damon Knight, Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Frost, Karen Joy Fowler, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and me (!). Read the rest