Marvin Minsky, artificial intelligence pioneer, RIP

MIT professor Marvin Minsky, a "founding father" of the field of artificial intelligence whose work opened up new vistas in computer science, cognitive psychology, philosophy, robotics, and optics, has died of a brain hemorrhage. He was 88.

In 1959, Minsky co-founded MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (now the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) and dedicated his career to exploring how we might replicate the functions of the human brain in a machine, a research journey he hoped would help us better understand our own minds.

"No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it's doing," Minsky once said. "But most of the time, we aren't either."

(New York Times)

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Balloon Boy is in a metal band. Here's a song about his adventure

Falcon Heene, the "Balloon Boy," is now in a metal band, and he's written a song about his adventure.

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Negative Publicity: a book of paraphernalia from state kidnappings

Crofton Black is a British counterterrorism investigator who has spent years tracking down the detritus of extraordinary rendition -- a polite euphemism for the government practice of snatching people, flying them to a distant country, and torturing them. Read the rest

Professor who blocked a student reporter from reporting last year has been charged with assault

Dr. Melissa Click, the University of Missouri professor who blocked a student reporter from reporting on a campus protest, has been charged with class C or 3rd degree assault for her actions during the MU campus protests this past fall.

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In 1947, Canadian kids went on "strike" to protest candy-bar prices.

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JOHN WILCOCK: Andy Warhol's Mole People and Fred Herko's Suicide Dance (1964)

Freddy Herko by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall
A comic strip about Freddie Herko, who was a captivating and influential artist in New York, until his untimely death at age 28, in 1964. From John Wilcock, New York Years. (Supplements include Andy Warhol's screen test of Herko and an appreciation from The Guardian)

Video: cliffside apartment buildings near San Francisco are about to fall

The apartments at 310, 320, and 330 Esplanade in Pacifica, California are literally hanging over the edge of a cliff. Rain, storms, and rising ocean levels are steadily eroding the sandy bluffs on which the apartments are built. After the El Nino storms of 2009 and 2010, tons of rock were piled on the beach and the cliffs were covered with fiber-reinforced concrete, but the erosion-prevention measures have failed in the recent storms.

Duncan Sinfield posted drone video of the cliff collapsing under the apartments on Esplanade.

Coverage: SF Gate | SF Chronicle Read the rest

Out of the Shadow of Aunt Jemima: the real black chefs who taught Americans to cook

Featuring reviews of more that 160 cookbooks written by African Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries, Toni Tipton-Martin's The Jemima Code is a much-overdue look at at how African Americans really cooked over the last 200 years, as well as how caricatures of African Americans were used to sell white homemakers everything from "Pickaninny Cookies" to pancake mix. Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix interviewed Tipton-Martin to learn more about this heretofore malnourished chapter in America's culinary history.

Aunt Jemima the Pancake Queen became a national sensation in 1893, thanks to Davis’ ingenuous promotion at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The company hired 56-year-old black actress Nancy Green to play Aunt Jemima at the fair. A former slave, Green was eager to leave behind a life of drudgery — as her other career options involved washing dishes or sweeping floors — in favor of the world of entertainment and advertising. With her warm, smiling persona, Green made pancakes, sang songs, and told nostalgic stories about the “good ol’ days” making breakfast for her plantation masters. Her pancakes were believed to be made of love and magic, not culinary artistry or domestic science.

That image of a fat, happy slave — who faithfully nurtures a white family while neglecting her own — lived on for 75 years through the Aunt Jemima Pancake line, purchased by Quaker Oats Company in 1925. Ubiquitous in ads, she promoted easy-to-make variations on pancakes, waffles, and other pastries in promotional recipe pamphlets, and an Aunt Jemima impersonator even received the keys to the city of Albion, Michigan, in 1964.

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Starve: the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan

The launch of Starve, the new comic from Brian Wood, creator of the landmark DMZ and artists Danijel Žeželj and Dave Stewart, was widely celebrated as a major new comic that started as strong as Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan.

18-year-old Ted Cruz wants to "take over the world" and "be in a teen tit film"

"In 1988, high school senior Ted Cruz reflected on his life's ambitions while attending Second Baptist School in Houston, TX. Now, he is a Republican Senator running for the office of the President of the United States of America."

He's on his way to getting everything he asked for!

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The best logical fallacy of all: The Fallacy Fallacy

If you have ever shared an opinion on the internet, you have probably been in an internet argument, and if you have been in enough internet arguments you have likely been called out for committing a logical fallacy, and if you’ve been called out on enough logical fallacies in enough internet arguments you may have spent some time learning how logical fallacies work, and if you have been in enough internet arguments after having learned how logical fallacies work then you have likely committed the fallacy fallacy.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the first in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. In the first show of this series you will hear three experts in logic and debate explain how formal arguments are constructed, what logical fallacies are, and how to spot, avoid, and defend against the one logical fallacy that, after learning such things, is most likely to turn you into an internet blowhard.

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This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Read the rest

Summary of the doc Making A Murderer in a two-minute song

"Making A Murderer is a riveting Netflix documentary. Here's the gist of it -- in 2 minutes and 23 seconds! Plus you can dance to it!" Read the rest

Japanese in Mangaland – Study the language with manga

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

If you’re like me when it comes to speaking Japanese – extremely clunky with with a limited conversational vocabulary but can read the two syllabaries (katakana and hiragana), this book is a fantastic supplement to further study. Besides the high fun factor of studying with manga (which teaches you to speak like a Japanese person rather than a formal text-book-taught foreigner), it’s the first book I’ve read that clearly explains the grammar (such as when and where to use particles like wa, ga and o), the complicated number systems, conjugating verbs, telling time, etc. I’m also learning some basic kanji as well as silly things you find in manga like exclamations and swear words. Each chapter gives you exercises to do on separate paper with answers in the back of the book. This lesson book is packed with great info on how the Japanese language works, and it’s presented in an interesting way that makes me look forward to picking up the book. I'm really loving it.

However, I have to say that the title of this book is a bit misleading. Yes, we are studying Japanese using manga, but Learning the Basics is a bit of a stretch. The book does touch on the basics but it moves quickly, and if you’re brand new to Japanese, I would hold off on reading this book until you actually have learned the basics.

Japanese in Mangaland: Learning the Basics

by Marc Bernabe

Japan Publications Trading

2004, 269 pages, 6.8 x 10.3 x 0.9 inches (softcover)

$17 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

What is the difference between USA and USB?

What is the difference between USA and USB?

One connects to all of your devices and accesses the data, the other is a hardware standard.

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Fury Road is still comprehensible at 12x speed

Vashi Nedomansky took five movies that had shorter-than-average scene lengths and sped them up 1200%; alone among them, Mad Max: Fury Road was still comprehensible. The rest just dissolve into jump-cuts. Read the rest

A gun that shoots nets to ensnare bad people

The Super Talon Ultra Net Launcher Kit is a real thing, and it's only $(removed),999.99 + $(removed) shipping. It comes with enough air cartridges to stop 10 bad people.

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A quick "fuck you" of a card trick

Card manipulator Alix Becle:

A video posted by Alix Becle (@alixbcl) on Jan 2, 2016 at 7:16am PST

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