The Casa Jasmina project (previously) is an automated smart house designed to be made of open source hardware, with the needs of the people who live there -- not the corporations who extract rent from them -- in mind. Read the rest
1960s/70s Italian industrial design was led by Olivetti, featuring products with "touches of joy that enliven everyday tasks" featuring bright color and playful forms, very different from the Braun look of minimalist, "Snow White" gadgets that are the precursor to Apple's design language. Read the rest
Casa Jasmina (previously) is a groundbreaking experiment in human-centered, open source home automation, the birthplace of the Internet of Women's Things -- built in Torino, Italy by Boing Boing pals Jasmina Tesanovic and Bruce Sterling with the help of the Arduino organization, Casa Jasmina pushed the boundaries of what a home-automation system would be like if it were designed to make peoples' lives better without extracting revenue from them. Read the rest
In the years since the 2008 financial crisis, Italy had seen European central bankers effect a regime-change in its national government in order to enforce a brutal austerity in the name of paying back its creditors, resulting in a 5% contraction in its national economy and unemployment soaring to 11.1%. Read the rest
Italian police shut down a club that established a "fascist beach" near Venice sporting various totalitarian-themed elements, such as portraits of Mussolini, "anti-democracy" slogans, and a charmingly humorous warning not to go in the gas chambers. Conservatives, outraged at the lack of free speech, have called for the beach to be reopened and for democracy to be destroyed.
The Mussolini theme was clear from the entrance to the privately run Punta Canna resort, where the sign read "Rules: Order, cleanliness and discipline."
As well as fascist slogans, the beach at Chioggia, a short distance south of Venice, broadcast regular messages over speakers from its manager, Gianni Scarpa, a 64 year-old clad in a black bandana.
Before police raided the beach he told La Repubblica newspaper (in Italian) that he was "delighted to have an exemplary clientele", and that he hated filthy people and democracy.
I'm certain "fascist beach" was the setting of at least a dozen Benny Hill skits. Read the rest
On Friday, a variety of news outlets around the world published the Malta Files, a cache of 150,000 documents leaked "from a Malta-based provider of legal, financial and corporate services," revealing, among other things, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was secretly given a $25M oil tanker (!) by Azeri billionaire Mübariz Mansimov, a "friend" of Trump's who was present at the inauguration. Read the rest
Bruce Sterling's been playing with a stack of hand-punched cardboard cards created in 1840 by Charles Babbage as a kind of vaporware app for his never-built Analytical Engine; they were intended to placed in a revolving "six-sided prism." Read the rest
Quelli che il Calcio (That which is Football) is one of Italy's top sports broadcasts and it is played in the country's prisons; it has a ticker that you can send SMSes to that then show up on screen. Read the rest
Companies in the EU and China have been caught offering to commit fraud to launder sales of mass surveillance weapons to Al Jazeera reporters posing as representatives of autocratic regimes under sanction for gross human rights abuses; these weapons would allow their users to target and round up political dissidents for arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Read the rest
“A Serb makes a good wife: she can pull the cart out of mud.”
That old Serbian proverb, its genius author has no name. It’s like the earthy quip from a hospital that I once heard in real life; after her severe car crash, the emergency doctor told her worried husband: Don’t you worry man, those Herzegovinian vipers are hard to kill!
I’m personally half Serb and half Herzegovinian, so I take these attitudes to my heart, half proud and half offended. But my American friend said: what about the Serbian and Herzegovinian husbands? Are they pleased about their mud-carting vipers? Is that the kind of proper home-girl that a local guy just has to have?
Good questions! If enough years go by, a man gets used to the woman of the house, muddy viper or not. But what about the opinions of the rest of the world?
Our world is a big place, so maybe a Serbian Herzegovinian woman is considered just one regional sub-class of East European womanhood. I might be called Balkan, from that mountain region of many fractured grooves, or a historical, fossilized ex-Yugoslav. I was never “Warsaw Pact,” although that arrangement meant “Eastern Europe” in the eyes of the Cold War West. I’m from a shatter-belt, a corner cushion among conflicting empires, a little regional federation that has vanished like the Austro-Hungarians and often resembled the modern European Union. It broke up in blood, but that’s been the fate of most European alliances, eastern or western, northern or southern. Read the rest
An all-star jury composed of Arduino inventor Massimo Canzi, Arthur C Clarke Center director Sheldon Brown, tech artist Motor Comino, activist Jasmina Tesanovic and OG Cyberpunk Bruce Sterling are judging the Artmaker prize for the tenth annual Share Festival: this year's theme is "Sincerity" and the prize goes to "art works with the virtues of lucidity, honesty and clarity. Our theme for 2017 asks for self-evident truth and heartfelt emotion, and scorns all slyness, demagoguery and deceit." Read the rest
I saw this coming, for the past ten years or more. I saw small Trumps, rising and tramping around, first timidly, then bravely, and finally boldly. Read the rest
The Italian snail-farming industry has grown by more than 325% over 20 years, driven by a boom in eating snail-egg "caviar" and snail-slime-based cosmetics (which have little-to-no scientific basis) -- slime sales are up 46% over the past ten months. Read the rest
The former UK national phone company BT announced that it's writing down the value of its Italian operation by £530m because it has been committing accounting fraud for years, triggering a mass sell-off of its shares, wiping £5.5b off the company's valuation. Read the rest