Didier Ghez is a dedicated Disney historian who has embarked on a massive, multi-volume history of the art of Disney in his They Drew As They Pleased
series from Chronicle Books; I enjoyed the first three volumes of the series, but volume 4, The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era: The 1950s
took my breath away.
So. You're trudging down the Royal Mile taking it all in. The World's largest festival of the performing arts, and in such a beautiful city, too. Detestably young actors with a dream in their heart and Starbucks in their veins approach from every angle, lunging flyers at you like fencers thrusting a blade. You dodge, parry, apologise and avoid – priding yourself on your fringe street savvy. But then your attention is piqued by a noise. The unmistakable sound of genuine spontaneous fun. Your lizard brain makes you perk up like a meerkat, on the balls of your feet, trying to get a look at what might be occurring ahead. There's a crowd. Could be anything. Could be something. You add yourself to their number, pushing in a little. Someone's doing something. Looks like you missed whatever amazing feat caused the crowd to erupt like that, but lets stick around to see what happens next, right?
Last week, my city became a garbage fire. Within 48 hours of a mass shooting on Toronto's Danforth Avenue, City Council had passed a motion to purchase the American acoustic surveillance system ShotSpotter
, making Toronto the first Canadian municipality to adopt the technology. As Americans already know, the system is designed to monitor "at risk" (read: poor and black) neighbourhoods for potential gunshots, which it geolocates and pushes to local law enforcement personnel for a substantial fee. Of course, ShotSpotter would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy on the Danforth and there are real questions
about its effectiveness as a gunshot detection system, but why let facts
get in the way of a rash political decision?
Hardware reviews are a big part of how I put bread on the table. In order to do my job properly, I’ve got to be something of a platform agnostic.
While I do most of my writing using Apple devices, I also have to consider other platforms in my coverage: software that works well on a laptop running Windows 10 may be a dog’s breakfast on a MacBook once it’s been ported.
A bluetooth speaker that sound great when paired with my iPhone 7 Plus, for example, might sound like hot garbage when linked to another audio source. So I invest in other hardware that may not be used as part of my day-to-day life, but which I still need to think about when doing my job.
About six months ago, I came to the conclusion that maybe hauling the hardware out when it came time to test something and then throwing it back in a box when I’m done with it wasn’t enough: to really understand whether, say a pair of headphones that comes with an app to control their EQ or noise cancellation, without seeing how it fits into my day-to-day life using a given platform. So, I upped the amount of time that I spend working in Windows 10, I now read books on both Kobo and Amazon e-readers and, in a real shift in how I live my lift, I’ve spent more than half a year using Android-powered smartphones as my daily drivers. In the time since I last used an Android device as my go-to, things have improved so much, I was taken aback. Read the rest
When Donald Trump entered the election race, it brought Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed out of a much-deserved retirement
to lampoon Cheeto Hitler as only Milo, Opus, Bill and the gang could; the first collection
chronicled the 2016 campaign, and a second collection, Brand Spanking New Day
is a comic snapshot of one of the weirdest, worst years in living American memory.
Women Invent The Future
is an anthology of science fiction stories written by leading women writers. We’re giving it away for free (as a print book and a download) because we want to challenge conceptions about who technology is for, what it does, and who gets to make it.
How an an indie cartoonist faced down prudes, pain and the patriarchy.
Calista Brill is a legendary comics and picture-book editor, part of the powerhouse team at Firstsecond (she's my editor!), and with Cat Wishes
, a picture book that's sweet and surprising, she shows just how well she understands the form she practices.
A decade ago, when Amazon acquired Audible, the two companies promised that they'd phase out their DRM
, which locked listeners into using their proprietary software and devices to enjoy the books they purchased. Audible never made good on that promise, and stonewalled press queries and industry requests
about when, exactly, this fairtrade version of their industry-dominating audiobook store would finally emerge.
We're months removed from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the public outrage of #DeleteFacebook
, and new information continues to surface about Facebook's sloppy handling of data and hunger for surveillance. Last month, we learned about an Orwellian patent that might allow Facebook to track you via mobile microphone
. Though some have cast doubt on the reports
, mobile spyware like the now-infamous Alphonso do track mobile devices via sound emitted by TVs
It's been nearly four years since the first crowdfunded collection
of Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag's webcomic Strong Female Protagonist
was published; the second volume
, published this week, traces not just the evolution of its protagonist, the superhero Alison "Mega Girl" Green, but of its creators, who have found new and amazing depths to plumb and heights to soar to.
Back in October 2015 we brought you the story of the Buck Rogers Copyright Trolls
, two lawyers who were fighting to keep Buck Rogers from entering the public domain using the discredited Sherlock Holmes system of licensing
. Two and a half years later, Louise Geer and Dan Herman are still at it, using every trick in the book to keep a beloved tale out of the public domain, where it firmly belongs. Along the way the pair have stiffed multiple law firms, and currently are abusing a Bankruptcy Court in Pennsylvania in a Hail Mary effort to...well, it’s not exactly clear what they’re trying to do.
John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night
, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
I have a long history with Burning Man, both on playa and off, but I did not know until last year that a small group of generous Burner pilots gift scenic flights -- at their own expense and discretion -- over Black Rock City during the event.
The catch? Well, first you need to go to Burning Man, which means getting a ticket. Then, once you're out there, you have to get up real early, put your name on a list at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport and wait -- in the heat, for hours -- for your name to be called. Since the planes are small and each ride is about half an hour long, the wait to get that amazing bird's eye view can be upwards of six hours or more.
I woke up late on Saturday, the morning of the Burn. It was the last day pilots were gifting these rides for 2017, so I pedaled over anyway and put my name on the list. It was 9 AM and the guy in charge warned me it would be at least six hours before I'd be airborne, if I was "lucky." The airport was a fair distance away from where I was camping, so I decided to stay put. To kill some time, I asked the airport staff if they needed a volunteer. As luck would have it, they did.
I spent about 45 minutes organizing papers in an air-conditioned trailer (oh yeah) and the remainder of my three-hour shift checking passengers against flight manifests at the gate. Read the rest
David Graeber defined a "bullshit job" in his viral 2013 essay
as jobs that no one -- not even the people doing them -- valued, and he clearly struck a chord: in the years since, Graeber, an anthropologist, has collected stories from people whose bullshit jobs inspired them to get in touch with him, and now he has synthesized all that data into a beautifully written, outrageous and thought-provoking book called, simply, Bullshit Jobs
Peter Watts (previously
) is a brilliant bastard of a science fiction writer, whose grim scenarios are matched by their scientific speculation; in his latest, a novella called The Freeze-Frame Revolution
, Watts imagines a mutiny that stretches out across aeons, fought against a seemingly omnipotent AI.