John from the Free Software Foundation sez,
Hollywood is making yet another attempt to lock down the Web. Undeterred by SOPA's failure, Hollywood is conspiring with tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Netflix to try to influence the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A proposal currently under consideration at W3C would *build accommodation for Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into HTML itself.* The W3C's job is to keep the Web working for everyone; building DRM into HTML would be a dramatic departure from the NGO's mission.
Today a coalition, organized by the Free Software Foundation and including EFF and Creative Commons, released a joint letter to the W3C condemning the proposal. The coalition is also asking Web users to send a message to W3C by signing a petition>.
The coalition says, "Ratifying EME would be an abdication of responsibility; it would harm interoperability, enshrine nonfree software in W3C standards and perpetuate oppressive business models. It would fly in the face of the principles that the W3C cites as key to its mission and it would cause an array of serious problems for the billions of people who use the Web."
I wrote about this in detail in the Guardian in March.
Lauren Beukes's latest novel, The Shining Girls, ships in the UK today (the US edition is out on June 4). The Shining Girls is a departure from Beukes's earlier cyberpunk-inflected fiction, being a supernatural thriller that's one part Hannibal and one part House on Haunted Hill, tautly written and sharply plotted.
Shining Girls is the story of a serial killer named Harper Curtis, a savage psychopath who hunts the alleyways of a stinking Hooverville in Depression-era Chicago. Curtis is your basic remorseless nutcase who reels from one act of callous violence to another. Until he happens upon a boarded-up house where he seeks refuge from the people he's wronged and a chance to rest up and lick his wounds from an unsuccessful encounter. And that house isn't just a house, it's the House, an unexplained and inexplicable haunted place that slips through time back and forth between the Depression and the early 1990s. In this house is a room, filled with the trophies of murdered girls and their names, written on the wall in Curtis's own handwriting. Curtis learns that his destiny is to travel through the ages, killing the girls he's already killed, taking the trophies he's already taken.
One of Harper's victims is Kirby Mazrachi, but unlike the rest (and unbeknownst to Harper), Kirby survives his vicious attack. As Kirby matures, her obsession with the man who nearly killed her takes over her life, and she wrangles a job interning for the Chicago Sun-Times reporter who covered her attack all those years ago. She wheedles him into helping her pick up the details again, and slowly they begin to unravel the weird and awful truth.
Deftly told from many points of view and in many timezones, Shining Girls is a tremendous work of suspense fiction. What's more, it's a fabulous piece of both time-travel and serial killer fiction, using the intersection of those two themes to explore questions of free will, predestination, and causality in a mind-melting, heart-pounding mashup that delivers on its promise.
Scientific progress is erratic, unpredictable. “We are all foundering around in the dark,” said Peter B. Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “The one thing I can tell you is some of that foundering has borne fruit.” There are the few therapies, he said — like tamoxifen and Herceptin — that target specific tumor characteristics, and newer tests that estimate the chance of recurrence in estrogen-positive cancers, allowing lower-risk women to skip chemotherapy. “That’s not curing cancer,” Bach said, “but it’s progress. And yes, it’s slow.”
The idea that there could be one solution to breast cancer — screening, early detection, some universal cure — is certainly appealing. All of us — those who fear the disease, those who live with it, our friends and families, the corporations who swathe themselves in pink — wish it were true. Wearing a bracelet, sporting a ribbon, running a race or buying a pink blender expresses our hopes, and that feels good, even virtuous. But making a difference is more complicated than that.
Read: "Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer" [NYTimes.com]
And more in our Boing Boing archives of my trial coverage from Guatemala.
Bruce Schneier writes, "This is a film of a training session of the Russian Army deploying an inflatable Orthodox church and paratrooping priests. Too weird for me to blog."
Think of the children (Thanks, Steve!)
Kevin Kelly says:
The takeover of the US by the Security-Corporate Complex is documented by mainstream press. It is worse than I thought.
According to Dana Priest and William M. Arkin of The Washington Post, "Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. ... An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ... In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings -- about 17 million square feet of space."
Cookbook comics! Penis lizards! Worm deers! One-armed men! There’s something for everyone in this edition of Comics Rack. And one-armed foodie alternative animal enthusiasts, get ready to get your socks knocked off!
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
By Lucy Knisley
If you find a more delightful book than Relish this year, please let me know. I’ll say right now that the odds are pretty slim. Lucy Knisley shuffled together a memoir and a cookbook into a cohesive collection of short stories that illustrate her life in food, the product of two parents who seared food obsessions into her DNA. The highlight has to be the tale of adolescent rebellion colored with pink hair and Lucky Charms -- a processed food defiance against epicurean parents. Can’t say I actually went so far as cooking any of the recipes contained here -- after five years in this apartment, I’m not entirely sure my pre-war oven even works -- but the tale of traveling to Mexico with a best friend who’s forced to leave a $200 stash of adult magazines behind a airport toilet, that stuff’s universal.
My Dirty Dumb Eyes
By Lisa Hanawalt
Drawn & Quarterly
I don’t know whether it’s Lisa or her publishers who deserve a dressing down for not running with the suggested title What We Draw About When We Draw About Sex Bugs, but after reading that in the hilarious fine print of the book’s penultimate page, I just can’t say I’m so into My Dirty Dumb Eyes as a name. But that’s really my chief complaint here. Hanawalt’s one of the funniest people going in comics these days, and just about every story in this collection is a testament to that fact. Heck, she’s even managed to tame the boiling hatred for lists that this post-McSweeney’s internet world has instilled in me. And I’m not sure what the standalone painting of Superman and Wolverine holding hands is doing in here, but it’s seriously making me consider getting a first tattoo.
Side note: I mentioned to someone at D&Q that I was planning on taking the book with me on a trip as sub-10,000 feet reading, and was helpfully discouraged from reading it around small children, so I figure I’d pass that life lesson along. Whatever you do, don’t let this thing with 100 yards of a school -- unless you’re eager to teach some impressionable young minds where dick lizards really come from.
By Michael DeForge
Speaking of exercises in public health, here’s a thing that probably shouldn’t be read by anyone -- or at least not those prone to nausea and dramatic fainting. Michael DeForge’s work exists in a universe where the creative overlap between William Burroughs and David Cronenberg is the biological fabric of the universe. You know the drill, parasitic worm deer, psychedelic snowman meat slices. It’s a world where amorphous monster blob indie rock bands are the norm. Also, Aunt May and Dr. Octopus are deeply in love, much to Spider-man’s chagrin. Very Casual is always fascinating, mostly grotesque and in the case of the biker gang with cartoon character helmets, actually pretty touch in the end.
By Sammy Harkham
I find myself looking for big takeaways here, but Sammy Harkham seems to find most of his stories -- and humor -- in the void. Like Poor Sailor, about halfway through the book, which closes on a panel of a one-armed man building a house next to the grave of a wife he abandoned for adventures at sea. Okay, well, maybe the takeaway there is “don’t abandon your wife for adventures at sea.” But still, the cartoonist is far more interested in meditations than resolution -- but even devoid of greater surface meaning, Everything Together is chock full of poignance and uncomfortable hilarity. And bonus: there’s also cartoons about Frank Santoro’s father and Dan Clowes’ dog eating Kevin Huizenga’s hand. Where else are you gonna get that?
From "Everything Together"
Ben sez, "The first ever synthetic biology Kickstarter is about growing glowing plants. Using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler software, they are ready to input bio-luminescence genes into a mustard plant and have it be naturally glowing. Meant more as a hint of things to come and what can be achieved with synth bio."
It's ambitious, but the project's lead looks like he has the necessary experience. Still, as with all ambitious Kickstarters, you should be prepared to lose your dough.
We are using Synthetic Biology techniques and Genome Compiler’s software to insert bioluminescence genes into Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant and member of the mustard family, to make a plant that visibly glows in the dark (it is inedible).
Funds raised will be used to print the DNA sequences we have designed using Genome Compiler and to transform the plants by inserting these sequences into the plant and then growing the resultant plant in the lab.
Printing DNA costs a minimum of 25 cents per base pair and our sequences are about 10,000 base pairs long. We plan to print a number of sequences so that we can test the results of trying different promoters – this will allow us to optimize the result. We will be printing our DNA with Cambrian Genomics who have developed a revolutionary laser printing system that massively reduces the cost of DNA synthesis.
Transforming the plant will initially be done using the Agrobacterium method. Our printed DNA will be inserted into a special type of bacteria which can insert its DNA into the plant. Seeds of a flowering plant are then dipped into a solution containing the transformed bacteria. The bacteria then injects our DNA into the cell nucleus of the seeds which we can grow until they glow! You can see this process in action in our video.
Over in the /r/homebrewing subreddit, user hatchetthrower has recreated one of my favorite fictional brews: Bendërbrāu, a homebrewed beer from Futurama made entirely inside Bender the robot's chassis. The recipe for the clone is pretty dead on: it's a steam beer as suggested by the label in the show, uses space-aged sounding Zythos hops (Galaxy was out of stock), and Rush 2112 yeast because Rush is one of Fry's favorite bands.
Thanks to our lovely sponsor ShanaLogic, sellers of handmade and independently-designed apparel, jewelry, prints, and other unique items. Now available, Maiden Voyage's "Phrenology of a Gentleman Tee," printed on a 100% super-soft cotton lightweight charcoal grey shirt! Also, Mother's Day is May 12 and ShanaLogic put together an excellent Mother's Day Gift Guide filled with cats, birds, hearts, sloths, monkeys, tentacles, and other fine motifs. Shana says, "Free USA shipping on orders over $50!" ShanaLogic
It seems we love mine collapses at Boing Boing. The earlier posts got me to thinking about the Lake Peigneur disaster. The story is amazing but oh so familiar, a wayward oil company makes an error and mistakenly drains a lake into a salt mine. It is incredible and you can watch!
Previously on Boing Boing:
Our friend Clive Thompson is in the spotlight in this week's "This is How I Work" feature on Lifehacker.
What apps/software/tools can't you live without?
I'm a pack rat when it comes to research. I like to save everything, because you never know when it'll be useful. I write primarily long-form magazine pieces and books, each of which takes months to report and sometimes years to gestate, so I often find myself realizing an interview or study I encountered three years earlier is suddently useful now. So I lean heavily on tools for finding and saving everything.
For face-to-face interviews, I use a Livescribe pen, which is invaluable even though the software is kind of creaky. I use Skype out for most of my phone interviews, and Call Recorder to save those files. I have a Scrivener database for my research—whenever I read anything interesting, I make a note about it and paste in any relevant passages. The note-writing is a crucial part of the task for me, because it requires me to slow down and make sense of what I’m reading, instead of just blindly clipping and saving everything.
In 24 charts, the Washington Post reveals how George W. Bush's presidency screwed up the country and the rest of the world for many years to come. Health, employment, the GDP, public services, the Middle East, and almost every other measurable condition of civilization's health and welfare were severely damaged by Bush's policies, all of which were enacted to make rich people richer. In achieving that goal, Bush's presidency was a resounding success.Even if you don’t blame the [debt] crisis on Bush, at least half the debt is directly attributable to his policy choices. Racking up debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and some have even argued that surpluses can be economically dangerous, but for whatever it’s worth, Bush played a big role there. It’s also worth noting that Bush was increasing the deficit at a time when the economy was expanding — which is exactly the opposite of what Keynesians believe makes sense, and which also made it more difficult for the country to respond to the recession.
Geoscientist Matt Kuchta explains why wet sand makes a better castle than dry sand — and what you can do to make your sand fortress even more impenetrable. Hint: The secret ingredient is window screens.