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romance writers sought for library residency at my former toronto workplace

i was a teenaged page at the north york central library in suburban toronto, working in the business and urban affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system -- i worked there with many other would-be writers, like nalo hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down. (more…)






world bank recommends that countries eliminate minimum wage, dismantle wrongful dismissal rules and contractual protections for workers

a draft of the world bank's annual flagship world development report says that its creditor-states (the poorest countries in the world) should eliminate their minimum wage rules, allow employers to fire workers without cause, and repeal laws limiting abusive employment contract terms. (more…)






the world is no longer willing to tolerate the plague of bullshit "agreements"

mark zuckerberg says it doesn't matter how creepy and terrible his company is, because you agreed to let him comprehensively fuck you over from asshole to appetite by clicking "i agree" to a tens of thousands of words' worth of "agreements" spread out across multiple webpages; when questioned about this in congress, zuck grudgingly admitted that "i don’t think the average person likely reads that whole document." but as far as zuck is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you've read it, whether you understand it, whether it can be understood -- you still "agreed." (more…)






2,000+ awesome hieroglyphs, coming soon to unicode

unicode pioneer michael suignard has submitted a "revised draft for the encoding of an extended egyptian hieroglyphs repertoire" in unicode, trying to replicate the expressivity of the 7,000 hieroglyphs used in greco/roman times. (more…)






tonight in la: cory at the last bookstore (then chapel hill, boston, chicago, waterloo, phoenix, santa fe, san jose...)

tonight at 7pm, i'll be appearing on a panel at the last bookstore in downtown la, with the title "truth to power: genre fiction in post-fact america," alongside of gretchen mcneil, jennifer brody, christina cigala, bobby goldstein, cb lee, michael paul gonzalez, kate maruyama and samuel sattin. (more…)






romance writers sought for library residency at my former toronto workplace

i was a teenaged page at the north york central library in suburban toronto, working in the business and urban affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system -- i worked there with many other would-be writers, like nalo hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down. (more…)






world bank recommends that countries eliminate minimum wage, dismantle wrongful dismissal rules, and contractual protections for workers

a draft of the world bank's annual flagship world development report says that its creditor-states (the poorest countries in the world) should eliminate their minimum wage rules, allow employers to fire workers without cause, and repeal laws limiting abusive employment contract terms. (more…)






the nix pro color sensor matches colors with extreme precision

our world is a colorful one, and when it comes time to repaint the house or create a new design, many of us look to our surroundings for inspiration. however, matching colors from the outside world to our canvas isn't the most precise process when we're just eyeballing it. the nix pro color sensor removes the guesswork involved, determining an exact match of any color you put it on, and it's on sale for over 25% off in the boing boing store.

the key to the nix's precision is its ability to block out ambient light when you're matching a surface. simply scan any color critical surface and save it to your smartphone or tablet, and the nix will match it to a huge range of existing color libraries. you can match with over 38,000 paint colors and even grab cmyk, hex, srgb, cielab, lch, and lrv values. plus, the nix lets you discover and save color harmonies to build your creative library.

now, you can get the nix pro color sensor on sale today for $249 in the boing boing store.






family-owned smugmug acquires flickr, rescuing it from the sinking post-yahoo ship

flickr exists, in part, because i needed a photo-sharing tool to help me woo my long-distance girlfriend, who later became my wife, and whom i've been with now for 15 years -- so i have watched the service's long decline and neglect at the hands of yahoo, and then its sale to the loathsome telco verizon, with sorrow. (more…)






senate confirms a homophobic climate change denier with no scientific credentials to lead nasa

homophobic climate change denier rep. jim bridenstine (r-okla.) "has made a career out of ignoring scientific expertise" says sen. brian schatz (d-hawaii). naturally, bridenstine was approved 50-49, along party lines, to be our next nasa administrator.

(more…)






kim jong un says north korea no longer needs to do nuclear tests

huge news from north korea in advance of the north-south summit next week, and planned denuclearization talks with the u.s. president.

(more…)






a new podcast hopes to solve an infamous unsolved death in norway's isdalen valley

in november, 1970, just outside the norwegian town of bergen, two kids found the partially burnt remains of a woman's body. surrounding the woman's remains were a number of objects: some bottles of water, a rubber boot and a burnt newspaper. all of the labels had been removed from the woman's clothing. why the woman – known in norway as the isdal woman, named for the remote valley that she was found in – died or who she was has been a mystery for close to 50 years.

norwegian journalist marit higraff and bbc documentary maker neil mccarthy are working to shed light on the isdal woman's very, very cold case. working together, they've produced a new podcast called death in ice valley. the first episode is available to download or stream, right now.

during the course of the podcast, higraff and mccarthy will talk to those that investigated the crime back in the day, as well as forensic experts and anyone else they feel might propel them towards the answer of who the isdal woman was and why she died. but they're not stopping there. listeners of the podcast are invited to talk to one another and the podcast's producers about the case on social media, in the hope that a breakthrough for the case could be crowdsourced.

i listened to the first episode yesterday. it starts slow, as many bbc radio productions often do. but the questions that the pair of journalists raise surrounding the isdal woman's death and what they uncovered, even in the first episode, has compelled me to continue with the series to see how things turn out. if you're looking for something new to occupy your ears with, you might just want to include it on your list of downloads.

reinhardheydt - own work, public domain, link






weekend tunes: dread zeppelin

raggae-scorched led zeppelin covers churned out by a tight band fronted by an elvis presley impersonator? yes, there is a god, and dread zeppelin is proof that she loves us.

these guys were the musical snow leopard of my early teenage years: on rare occasions, i'd catch the tail end of one of their videos on much music or a piece of a song on college radio. it was years before i learned who they were or bought one of their cds. scoff if you will, but at its height, the band was so damn good at what it did that robert plant kept their music in his car.

on this 4.20, or as xeni calls it, amateur day, they are my gift to you.






the evolution of music from 1680 to 2017

i enjoyed the piano stylings of lord vinheteiro in this "evolution of music" video**. he plays a little music from each year, starting with 1680 and ending with 2017. there's beethoven, iron maiden, aqua, and more.

another fun video of his has him playing the soundtrack and sound effects from super marioworld on the piano along with the video game itself.

**though i found his staring at the camera a bit jarring!






police discover over 10,000 endangered tortoises jammed into one small house

an overwhelming stench of poop and urine led authorities to check out what was going on in an unassuming two-story house in toliara, madagascar. when they opened the front door, they were shocked to find the house full of endangered tortoises--10,068, to be exact. according to soary randrianjafizanaka, a representative from madagascar's environmental protection agency, so many of the poor little critters were jammed into the house that they literally had no room to move.

from national geographic:

in total the house contained 9,888 live radiated tortoises, a rare species found only in madagascar—and 180 dead ones. randrianjafizanaka helped count them as rescuers loaded them onto six trucks that made several trips to le village des tortues (turtle village in french), a private wildlife rehabilitation facility in ifaty, 18 miles north of toliara. it took until early the following morning to transfer all the tortoises to the rescue center.

the majority of the turtles taken to the rehabilitation facility are doing well, now that they've been cleaned up, moved into more suitable quarters, and provided with veterinary care. unfortunately, close to 600 of the turtles have died since being removed from the house, due to dehydration or infection--the result of their long neglect.

with a shrinking population of around three million of the reptiles, the trade of radiated turtles, each of which can have shells up to 16 inches across and weigh as much as 35 pounds, is illegal in 182 countries. that makes the turtles an attractive product for blackmarket traders operating out of madagascar, to export to shady buyers around the world.

image: bernard dupont from france - radiated tortoise (astrochelys radiata), cc by-sa 2.0, link






digital synesthesia

stanford neuroscientist david eagleman invented the versatile extra-sensory transducer (vest), a wearable tactile display that translates myriad kinds of information, from speech to sounds to digital data, into patterns of vibrations on the skin. the device was inspired by eagleman's study of synesthesia, the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. from smithsonian:

the neuroscientist believes that the versatility and plasticity of the brain make it fundamentally receptive to forming new pathways of sensory input. “the brain gets this information from the world, but the brain doesn’t actually have any way of knowing: were these photons, were these sound compression aids, was this pressure?” eagleman says. as he explains it, the brain simply transforms these diverse stimuli into electrochemical spikes and uses these signals to create a mental representation of the world. the vest would do this same work for all sorts of data by translating it into interpretable vibrations—giving its wearer a veritable “sixth sense.”

eagleman is developing the vest with an open api, so that others can experiment with the types of data it can convert into vibrations. “we’ve thought of 20 really cool things to feed in, which we’ve been experimenting with, but the community will think of 20,000 streams of data to feed in,” he says.






north korea says it will stop conducting all missile and nuclear tests

huge news from north korea in advance of the north-south summit next week, and planned denuclearization talks with the u.s. president.

(more…)






san francisco: kronos quartet's kronos festival april 26-28

kronos quartet, my favorite avant-garde classical group, is holding its kronos festival 2018 at san francisco's sf jazz center next week, april 26-28. i've attended multiple kronos festivals and they are always wonderful performances, each one an enchanting introduction to global (and local) sounds that are wonderfully unfamiliar to me yet open my ears and mind to new artists and perspectives. this year, the festival features artist-in-residence david coulter and guests san francisco girls chorus, vân-ánh võ, zakir hussain, mahsa vahdat, trio da kali, jolie holland, and avant-folk duo cocorosie!

special note: the saturday matinee concert, "around the world with kronos," is meant for families with children ages 3 and up!

here's the full schedule: kronos festival 2018






if you read a lot or need books for research, kindle unlimited is a good deal

kindle unlimited reminds me of netflix. you get tons of all-you-can-eat content to choose from for a monthly fee, and the overall quality keeps getting better every year. i've been using kindle unlimited for a few years, and one of the best things about it is being able to download lots of non-fiction books and use them for research (i got a bunch of bitcoin and blockchain books that way). they also have lots of audio books. you can even get two of my books through kindle unlimited: maker dad and trick decks.

you can try it free for a month here. after that it's $9.99 a month.






amazing birdseye photos taken by pigeons a century ago

in 1907, pharmacist and photography buff dr. julius neubronner invented the "pigeon camera." neubronner attached his cameras, with a built-in shutter timer, to his own homing pigeons and let them fly. for most people, the birds' photos provided a previously unseen view on the world. the images are collected in a new book, the pigeon photographer. from the new yorker:

(neubronner) showed his camera at international expositions, where he also sold postcards taken by the birds. additionally, he developed a portable, horse-drawn dovecote, with a darkroom attached to it, which could be moved into proximity of whatever object or area the photographer hoped to capture from on high. these inventions represented a breakthrough at the time, allowing for surveillance with speed and range that was previously impossible. (whether the cameras would actually capture the desired object, however, depended on luck and the whims of the pigeons.) the technology would soon be adapted for use in wartime—the cameras served as very early precursors to drones—although by the time of the first world war, just a few years later, airplanes were allowing people to do things that only pigeons could have done before.

(thanks, bob pescovitz!)