How to support the Futility Closet podcast

The fantastic Futility Closet podcast is a show about entertaining oddities and lateral thinking puzzles. The producers have started using Patreon as a way for listeners to support the show. if you've enjoyed listening to the Futility Closet, please consider pledging your support. Read the rest

Every episode of every Star Trek series ever, ranked

Jordan Hoffman of Playboy has ranked all 695 episodes of every Star Trek series, with comments on each episode. It's a monumental effort that could be a book. Read the rest

Torture report shows 26 men held in error

Meet one man who survived CIA torture–-including solitary confinement, which he says was the worst.

Serial-inspired vigilante app will help the Internet investigate unsolved crimes

An Indiegogo campaign inspired by the Serial podcast is underway to develop a platform for crowdsourcing crime solving.

CrowdSolve will supposedly provide a home for the public documents, a forum for debating theories and visualization tools for making presentations and videos. The money from Indiegogo will pay for the construction of the app and for the fees used to acquire the public documents, which Mr. Heilbut estimates is about $10,000 per case.

Serial-inspired vigilante app will help the Internet investigate unsolved crimes Read the rest

Help preserve feminist video gaming history

Back in the mid-90s, late game maker Theresa Duncan made some unconventional, ground-breaking CD games based on the everyday experiences of young girls. There's now a Kickstarter campaign to bring them back and ensure her seminal work isn't lost to history:

This project, by the NYC-based digital art nonprofit Rhizome, will fund the process of putting three games directed by Duncan—Chop Suey (1995, co-created with Monica Gesue), Smarty (1996), and Zero Zero (1997)—online, for the first time ever. With your help, they will be playable in any modern browser via emulation and available for free, for a minimum of one year.

Throughout my career as a video game critic, and in recent years a feminist one, I've noticed we tend to treat the advent of girls and women's stories as novel. To lots of us, they are -- for example I'd never read a syllabus on feminist games, or seen work like my friend Nina Freeman's vignette games (Nina just successfully defended her thesis and got a Masters of Science in Integrated Digital Media from NYU, congrats Nina), til my adulthood.

But the games business' particular fixation on newness and "innovation" mustn't divorce us from our obligation to history -- that's what makes Rhizome's work with Duncan's oeuvre more important now than ever.

Read Jenn Frank on Theresa Duncan's memory here, or her piece about Duncan's Chop Suey here. For more on girlhood and the early days of games, here I am in the Guardian on Rachel Weil's feminist art. Read the rest

The clitoris is a direct line to the matrix

At Motherboard, Claire Evans presents a brilliant "Oral History of the First Cyberfeminists, sharing bits of her correspondence with pioneering Australian tech-goddesses Josephine Starrs, Julianne Pierce, Francesca da Rimini and Virginia Barratt, four net artists who worked together under the pseudonym "VNS Matrix". It's awesome.

Evans met them as part of her exploration of the Cyberfeminism cultural movement, which she said "peaked in the early 1990s and dissipated sometime between the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the coming of Y2K."

VNS Matrix worked in a wide variety of media: computer games, video installations, events, texts, and billboards. In their iconic “​Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century,” they called themselves the “virus of the new world disorder,” and “terminators of the moral codes.” With this irreverent, but keenly political language, they articulated a feminist aesthetic of slimy, unpretty, vigilantly nose-thumbing technological anarchy.

They coded. They built websites. They hung out in chat rooms and text-based online communities like ​LambdaMOO. They told stories through interactive code and experiences like the CD-ROM game All New Gen, in which a female protagonist fought to defeat a military-industrial data environment called “Big Daddy Mainframe.” They believed the web could be a space for fluid creative experimentation, a place to transform and create in collaboration with a global community of like-minded artists.

Their work is part of a cool archive of art from a time when, they say, the internet was less masculine and capitalistic. Read the rest

WATCH: How a nearly-blind woman cooks for her family

"Gordon Ramsey would probably be angry, but he doesn't have to eat my food."

Licia Prehn has congenital cataracts and sees about 2% of 20/20 vision.

[via] Read the rest

Snail named after The Clash singer Joe Strummer

“Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon,” said Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

The name A. strummeri honors Joe Strummer, the lead singer and a guitarist of the British punk rock band The Clash.

Here's the video for "Keys to Your Heart," recorded by the 101ers, Strummer's pre-Clash band, in 1976:

Deemed punk rock, snail named after The Clash singer Joe Strummer

Image: Shannon Johnson -- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Read the rest

The ruble is sinking almost as fast as bitcoin

The falling price of oil is causing problems for Russia's economy, says Matt O'Brien of the Washington Post. The ruble is down 50% against the dollar this year. The Russian central bank raised interest rates from 10.5 to 17 percent in an attempt to prop up the value of the ruble, but this move will "send Russia's moribund economy into a deep recession."

The only asset, and I use that word lightly, that's done worse than the ruble's 50 percent fall is Bitcoin, which is a fake currency that techno-utopians insist is the future we don't know we want. And this is only going to get worse. Russia, you see, is stuck in an economic catch-22. Its economy needs lower interest rates to push up growth, but its companies need higher interest rates to push up the ruble and make all the dollars they borrowed not worth so much. So, to use a technical term, they're screwed no matter what they do.

Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed Read the rest

UK cops demand list of attendees at university fracking debate

Canterbury Christ Church University refused to give the Kent police a list of the attendees at a debate on fracking, despite the cops insistence that they needed to have the names to assess "the threat and risk for significant public events in the county to allow it to maintain public safety." Read the rest

Sitting in radioactive dirt was a thing in the 1950s

No wonder so many comic book superheroes got their superpowers from radioactivity. In the 1950s. some people thought uranium dirt was good medicine. Uranium dirt houses in Texas would charge sick people $2 to sit or lay down in the stuff. They also sold uranium dirt to go.

This 1955 Life magazine article has some great dirt house photos, including signs for the "uranitoriums"

[via] Read the rest

Learn how to survive a helicopter crash in water

Survival Systems USA teaches civilians how to walk (or swim) away from aircraft crashes in water. Read the rest

A man and his mushrooms

Rodham E. Tulloss, a 70-year-old retired electronics engineer in Roosevelt, N.J., has one of the world's largest and most scientifically important collections of Amanita mushrooms in the world. It's in his garage. Read the rest

Video: How books used to be made

"The Art of Making A Book." Read the rest

The year's best music, by mood

There are a lot of album of the year lists, but Hype Machine's Zeitgeist 2014 list is a bit special. Read the rest

Fresh Fest '84

This week's Hip Hop Family Tree strip features the first national rap music tour, the Swatch Watch New York City Fresh Fest `84, by Ed Piskor.

Laser-cut record clocks

Vinyl Record Eaters is Greg Durt's Etsy store for laser-cut record-clocks (made from unplayable, scratched records) that sport clever silhouettes from pop culture: Daryl from Walking Dead, Walking Dead execution, Lightsaber battle, Hobbit march, Godzilla eats New York and cities of the world! Read the rest

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