Day: October 20, 2016

80th birthday party for Emperor Norton's Bridge, Saturday in San Francisco

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Join the Emperor’s Bridge folks for a short adventure and a fun celebration! Help celebrate Emperor Norton’s bridge’s birthday!

If you’re in the Bay Area on November 12th, please join The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign for a celebration to wish the Emperor’s bridge a happy 80th birthday — and to show your support for naming the Emperor’s bridge…for him!

RINCON + RED’S

The Emperor Norton Bridge Turns 80

Saturday 12 November 2016

2 p.m.

Gather in Rincon Park (map)

For picture-postcard views of the bridge

2:30 p.m.

Short walk to Red’s Java House

3 to 5 p.m.

Red’s Java House (patio) (map)

Beautiful views of the Bay and bridge

Plus: An update on the Campaign’s effort to have the bridge named for Emperor Norton in 2022

ADMISSION: Free

Although Red’s will appreciate the appropriate coin for drinks and food!

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Clinton deftly managed Trump into collapse

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Ezra Klein has a wonderful piece on Vox, Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins, that well describes the master class in managing a bully into hanging himself these general election debates have been. Klein points out how Clinton pushed all Trump’s buttons and practically had him performing tricks on command.

Via Vox:

Trump’s meltdown wasn’t an accident. The Clinton campaign coolly analyzed his weaknesses and then sprung trap after trap to take advantage of them.

Clinton’s successful execution of this strategy has been, fittingly, the product of traits that she’s often criticized for: her caution, her overpreparation, her blandness. And her particular ability to goad Trump and blunt the effectiveness of his political style has been inextricable from her gender. The result has been a political achievement of awesome dimensions, but one that Clinton gets scarce credit for because it looks like something Trump is doing, rather than something she is doing — which is, of course, the point.

It began in the first debate. “Donald,” she kept saying. No one quite knows why Trump so loathes the sound of his first name, but he does. He quickly tried to shame Clinton into showing him more respect. “Secretary Clinton — yes, is that okay?” he said, after she once again called him Donald. “Good. I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me.”

Clinton’s next answer: “In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis…”

Each debate has followed the same pattern. Trump begins calm, but as Clinton needles him, he falls apart, gets angrier, launches bizarre personal attacks, offers rambling justifications for his own behavior, and loses the thread of whatever question was actually asked of him.

Clinton, meanwhile, crisply summarizes the binders full of policy information she absorbed before the debate. The gap in preparation, knowledge, and basic competence has been evident in every contest, and it’s led to polls showing that even voters who loathe Clinton recognize she’s far more qualified and capable than Trump. Nor does Clinton make mistakes — she’s often criticized for being careful and bland in her answers, but here it’s helped her, as she’s never taken the headlines away from Trump’s own gaffes.

The Republican primary field were incapable of managing this overgrown orange child. Secretary Clinton put him away with grace and dignity.

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I'm Bored: surreal and weirdly touching comics by Jess Rotter

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If the Zap Comix collective hung out in Gary Larson’s basement rolling numbers on psychedelic record covers while giggling about those motivational calendars where you tear off one earnest aphorism each day, and the internal awkwardness that all of us experience, the comix that emerge would likely fit into I’m Bored, the surreal and wonderful new book by illustrator Jess Rotter with a foreword by Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte. Below are a few pages for your pleasure. You likely recognize Jess’s art from her inspired illustrations for vinyl and apparel projects from Rodriguez, the Grateful Dead, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Best Coast, Light in the Attic Records, and her bimonthly “Songbird Stories” column for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter. I’m Bored is Jess’s first book and I’m already ready for the next trip.

Visit Hat & Beard Press to order the hardback of I’m Bored, a special lenticular-cover edition, or bundles including a variety of delightful patches, postcards, and apparel.

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The great Australian poetry hoax, in which deliberate nonsense was hailed as great art

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In 1943, fed up with modernist poetry, two Australian army officers invented a fake poet and submitted a collection of deliberately senseless verses to a Melbourne arts magazine. To their delight, the poems were published and their author was hailed as “one of the most remarkable and important poetic figures of this country.” In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of the Ern Malley hoax, its perpetrators, and its surprising legacy in Australian literature.

We’ll also hear a mechanized Radiohead and puzzle over a railroad standstill.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

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The Modernist Utopia that never was

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HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network, is back for its fourth season. This week:

What happens to a utopia that never got off the ground? Bits and pieces of one, an experiment in postwar living for the masses, are hiding in plain sight in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. Architect and author Cory Buckner talks about Crestwood Hills, a Modernist vision for a cooperative future that never quite arrived.

A note from the producer: If you’d like to help HOME get off to a good seasonal start, drop by the iTunes Store and subscribe. And if you have a minute to leave a rating and/or review, that helps stir the algorithmic stew that gets shows noticed. Thanks for listening.

Subscribe: iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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Build 10 real working apps with Python

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This Python Mega Course will help you learn to code by teaching you to build 10 real-world apps that each highlight a unique use of Python.

Job prospects for coders are still growing steadily—and with Python being one of the most popular coding languages out there today, it’s important for job seekers to demonstrate a widespread understanding of the language. That’s why we recommend this course. It goes beyond the basics to give you real-world skills.

You’ll have access to 172 lectures and 21.5 hours of content designed to help you build web applications, database applications, web visualizations, and much more.

At the end of the course, you’ll have built 10 apps you can be proud of—and show off to potential employers. Some of the specific apps you’ll build include a webcam motion detector, a desktop application, and an interactive web-based financial chart.

For a limited time, we’ve dropped the price of the Python Mega Course to 78% off retail, selling for just $42.

Also explore the Best-Sellers on our network right now:

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Notebook nirvana – three stunning journals to behold

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These notebooks are all blank, calm, and satisfying. All three have attached ribbon bookmarks, elastic bands to hold them shut, and pockets in the inside back cover to tuck ephemera into.

SketchyNotebook (bottom left photo above) comes with thin sheets of printed plastic to place behind the page you’re writing on, as a guide for navigating the blank space. It starts with the templates intended for graphic designers (squares, triangles) and journalists (horizontal lines, vertical lines; not sure what this has to do with journalism), which is cool, but where it really dorks out is all the other templates they make: filmmakers get storyboards, mobile app developers get iPhones, interior designers get perspective grids, fashion designers get shoes, and so on. Sketchy opens completely flat, so you can write all the way to the gutter, and the perforated edges let you neatly remove the finished page. SketchyNotebook, from Taiwan, is offered in a variety of sizes, as the prize of a Kickstarter campaign, which ends November 5, 2016. The planned ship date is February, 2017.

What is it about the Quo Vadis Habana notebook (bottom right photo above) that makes it so pleasurable to use? Maybe it’s the paper, cream-colored and thick, the smoothest paper I’ve felt in a notebook. The rounded corners give it dignity, and the sewn binding suggests durability. The Habana is made in the USA, with certified sustainable paper.

The paper in the Flexible Notebook (middle photo above), from the Spanish company Miquelrius, is thin and white, so white, the whitest of white. The cover of mine is in a eye-soothing subtly mottled blue. Unlike the heftier Sketchy and Habana, the Flexible‘s cover is, as you might guess, flexible, and the binding is sewn; you can bend the front cover out of the way while you write on the right-hand side (or the other way around, for lefties).

You may wonder about ghosting, bleeding, and other inkly topics; there are so many variables when it comes to pens and writing that there isn’t room to go into them in this review. I prioritize notebooks over pens; I recommend getting any of these that catches your eye, then finding the pen that works with it.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Quo Vadis Habana Journal

9 x 6.2 x 0.6 inches

$27 Buy a copy on Amazon

Flexible Notebook

Miquelrius, 5.25 x 8.25

$14 Buy a copy on Miquelrius

SketchyNotebook Series: Creative’s All-In-One Notebook

Kickstarter

$18-$28 Buy a copy on Kickstarter

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Participate in a Silicon Valley design jam to make the future of work more equitable for everyone

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My colleagues at Institute for the Future are hosting a “Positive Platform Design Jam” November 30-December 1 at our Palo Alto, California gallery and offices. The goal is to hack on software or conceptual frameworks for on-demand platforms that not only maximize profits for their owners but also provide dignified and sustainable livelihoods for those who work on them. Are you a creative technologist, social inventor, policy expert, labor activist? IFTF hopes you’ll apply to participate!

From IFTF:

Why are we doing this?

A host of technologies—from automation to digital platforms for coordination of tasks — are reinventing not just what people do to earn a living but at a much deeper level how we organize to create value. The landscape of labor economics is in upheaval. In the process, new platforms, algorithms, and attitudes are undermining many established institutions, regulatory regimes, and work practices, challenging some of the basic tenets of the social safety net established in the 20th century. But what of the workers? How can we ensure dignified and sustainable livelihoods for everyone?

Solutions won’t come from any one agency, discipline, or company. It will take collaboration, broad public engagement, smart policy, and an openness to reinventing old economic models. And while we can’t put the technologies enabling on-demand platforms back in the box, the algorithms we embed in them, the platform design choices we make, the policy and regulatory solutions we create can be shaped by all of us. It is one of the more urgent tasks that we face today. And we need your help

Apply to join the IFTF Positive Platforms Design Jam: 11/30 – 12/1

Learn more about Positive Platforms in the IFTF report: “10 Strategies for a Workable Future

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Like a dream - fabulous treasure discovered in old lunchbox

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I’m not going to spoil the fun by telling you what this guy found in a dusty old lunchbox hidden in the basement of a 1940a house he was remodeling. Just go here and enjoy each of the photos that slowly reveal the treasure he discovered inside. Don’t miss part 2, here. Geraldo Rivera is gnashing his teeth.

As a bonus, there’s a singing girl wrestler in the story.

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Support Radiotopia, home to 99% Invisible, Song Exploder, and many of the best podcasts

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The Radiotopia podcasting collective is home to most of my absolute favorite podcasts: 99% Invisible, The Memory Palace, and Song Exploder. Roman Mars, founder of Radiotopia and 99% Invisible, and the other podcasters have created something truly wonderful with this network. And once every year they ask for our support to keep the network going. Count me in. From their fundraising page:

Back in the day, homemade mixtapes helped convey feelings words could not. Songs were meticulously arranged in a particular order, and each track told a different story. Decorating the tape case was as important as curating the content. Every detail counted, and sharing a mixtape with someone meant the world.

Radiotopia embodies the mixtape tradition. Our shows explore life, society and culture through illuminating and unforgettable stories. We focus on craft, value process, and champion good design—from the sounds in every episode, to each show’s logo and custom artwork. And we’re big fans of sharing what we love with you.

Once a year, we ask you to think about how much Radiotopia podcasts mean to you, and to make a donation to help keep the network strong. Here’s your chance to support the original, independent and wildly creative Radiotopians you love, so they can continue to create amazing audio experiences for you.

Support Radiotopia!

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This Ghostbusters Ecto1 Wheelchair Halloween Costume is Totally Amazing

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IMGURian Ryan S. Miller posted this wonderful series of images: “Here is Jeremy’s Costumer this year…The Ghostbusters Ecto-1!”

“Every year we’ve tried to step up the scale of the costume builds we do for Jeremy,” Ryan says. “This year we put it to a vote and our friends choose the Ghostbusters Ecto-1!”

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Check it out in action, below.

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"Self-control" can be switched off with electromagnetic brain stimulation

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University of Zurich researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive method of inhibiting activity in parts of the brain, to “turn off” people’s ability to control their impulses. They focused on the temporoparietal junction, an area of the brain thought to play an important role in moral decisions, empathy, and other social interactions. They hope their research could help inform our understanding of addiction and self-discipline. From Scientific American:

In their study, subjects underwent 40 seconds of disruptive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)—in which a magnetic coil placed near the skull produced small electric currents in the brain that inhibited activity of the posterior TPJ—then spent 30 minutes completing a task. To rule out a placebo effect, a control group received TMS in a different area of the brain. In one task, subjects made a choice between a reward (ranging between 75 and 155 Swiss francs) for themselves or one that was shared equally between themselves and another person, who ranged from their closest confidante to a stranger on the street. In another task subjects were offered an immediate reward of between zero and 160 Swiss francs or a guarantee of 160 Swiss francs after waiting three to 18 months. In a final task, subjects were instructed to take the perspective of an avatar and indicate the number of red dots on a ball that the avatar would see.

Subjects with an inhibited TPJ were less likely to share the money and were more likely to take the money up front rather than delay gratification and wait for a larger prize. They were also less able take on the perspective of the avatar, which makes sense, says Christian Ruff, a co-author of the paper and an economist at the University of Zurich. “The function of perspective-taking is essential to both of these tasks,” he says, in terms of both “thinking how someone else would feel if you give them money and also how you yourself in the future would feel with that money.”

The findings suggest that the TPJ plays an important role in perspective-taking, which (co-author Christian) Ruff describes as “a very basic social mechanism” that is essential not only for helping us figure out what other people may be thinking and feeling during social interactions but also in self-control, as we weigh the needs and desires of our current self against the needs and desires of our imagined future self.

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Last call for the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition!

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Are you jonesing for a dose of optimism and possibility? In the mood to contemplate the cosmos? Want to experience a musical message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played? The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, a project I launched with Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, is a lavish vinyl box set containing the contents of the phonograph record launched into space in 1977 and now 13 billion miles from Earth.

Our Kickstarter ends at 8pm PDT tonight (Thursday). Once we fulfill the rewards from this campaign, we’ll never produce this deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition again.

We are so thankful enthusiasm and excitement about our project and the incredible Voyager interstellar mission. The curiosity and support is infectious. We’re deeply grateful that a project that has been on our minds for so long has resonated with so many people around the world. Ad astra!

For more on the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, please visit our Kickstarter page here.

And here’s an excerpt from an interview with me about the project, from The Vinyl Factory:

Ultimately it was a utopian vision for Earth as much as an actual attempt to communicate with extra terrestrials… Wasn’t it?

Yeah I think the idea is that if there is a civilisation that is intelligent enough to actually intercept it, they’ll be able to follow the instructions on how to play it. And I think that’s true. In some ways though, it doesn’t even really matter if it’s ever played or not by an extra-terrestrial civilisation.

And I firmly believe this, it was a gift to the cosmos but it was also a gift to humanity. And Linda Salzman Sagan, who was on the original committee, said something along the lines of there being two audiences, there was the extra-terrestrial audience and then there was the audience of the people on Earth. And that’s what’s exciting to us…

And the label you’ve set up for this end is Ozma Records…

It’s worth mentioning the name. So Ozma is the Princess of Oz from the Wizard of Oz books. That’s the first reference. But the second reference is connected to Frank Drake, who is a pioneer in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and was on the Voyager Golden Record committee. In fact he’s the one who came up with the idea of sending a phonograph record. In the 1960s he launched one of the first scientific efforts to search for extraterrestrial intelligence using radio-telescopes and that was called Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma. So we wanted to honour him and use that name. Our hope is to release future records that lie at the intersection of science and art and music too, that also instil a sense of wonder.

Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition (Kickstarter)

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Nintendo announces new hybrid portable game console

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Nintendo’s Switch is a touchscreen tablet with removable physical controls that turn it into a traditional handheld game console. It comes with a chunky dock to hook it up to a TV set for high-definition couch action; also announced is a traditional wireless gamepad to match the squared-off dark gray design.

Introducing Nintendo Switch! In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.

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Switches use cartridges instead of discs: suggestively retro, especially in the promise of instant-on gaming, but also reflective of the general decline of optical media in favor of flash and high-bandwidth internet connections.

The promo video depicts intriguing social game cultures that don’t yet exist—think kids toting their no-nonsense, easy-to-use Switches around to the pub and competitive event alike. For me it lit up dormant arcade-era neurons that Sony and Microsoft (and Apple, for that matter) never get close to.

It’s out in March.

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The tiniest touchscreen "phone" of them all

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VPhone is a wee “phone”, surely the most wee of them all. It has a 1.54-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, FM radio, pedometer, 128MB (megabytes!) of storage, a heart rate monitor, some social network-monitoring apps, and a choice of “simple and stylish” black or silver trim. The radio’s quad-band GSM, so if you can get your hands on one it should work on T-Mobile and ATT in the US.

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Yes, there’s also a 3.5mm phone jack. The Verge’s Ashley Carman:

Some of you might read these stats and think they’re sad. I kind of agree, but I just really love how little this phone is, so it cancels out depressing spec reality. … The S8 appears to only be available in China, so we, once again, will have to keep dreaming. I’m trying, everyone! I think if we dream hard enough we can force these cool phones to appear in front of us. Will it.

Agreed! It’s a curious device that seems more a chunky call-enabled smartwatch than a fully-featured mobile–and the English is a bit ropey on the product page, so it’s not really clear if it can make voice calls without a BT connection to another device. Carman points to this 2.45″-screened crapgadget as the smallest bona-fide smartphone on offer; the ancient Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, despite its age, is probably a better bet in the 2.5″-ish range.

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Explore the galaxy in 3D with data from the Gaia satellite

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Gaia is an interactive 3D map of the galaxy, coded by Charley Hoey and sourced from the eponymous mapping satellite’s data: click, drag and scroll/pinch to change the viewpoint. It took a long time to load even on my desktop PC, but the results speak overwhelmingly for themselves.

The Gaia satellite by the European Space Agency is currently orbiting 1.5 million kilometers beyond the moon, twirling through the heavens and dutifully marking down the positions of every point of light it sees. I’ve processed the program’s first batch of data to determine the 3D position of about 2 million stars. Click and drag to orbit, or scroll/pinch to zoom in and out, zoom all the way in to see our sun, just one star among millions. WebVR enabled!

Hoey explains in “torrenting the galaxy” what it took to model two million stars in the browser. Here’s an official ESA image made from the same dataset; as beautiful as it is, the enormity of the data it represents seems absent.

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Montana judge unrepentant after sentencing man to 60 days for repeatedly raping his own 12 year old daughter

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District Judge John McKeon sentenced an unnamed man to 60 days in prison plus a suspended 30-year prison sentence (which he will avoid if he completes a sex-offender treatment program and other parole conditions) after the man pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping his own daughter, who was 12 years old at the time.
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Magic use in Harry Potter novels charted

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Skyler Johnson created an interactive infographic that charts the use of magic in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. The spells are organized by count or time, with instances color-coded by the book they appear in. Hover over each use and you even get the quote, for context! [via Tor and Metafilter]

Emily Asher-Perrin writes:

Perhaps not surprisingly, the spells that we see used most often are commonly used by Harry and his friends as means of non-violent resistance; Expecto Patronum; Expelliarmus; Stupefy. The Killing Curse appears sixth down on the list, which is fascinating–it is technically speaking the “most evil” of all the dark magic spells, and it is the most often used.

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By stealing from innocents, Chicago PD amassed tens of millions in a secret black budget for surveillance gear

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Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor’s office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear.
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By stealing from innocents, Chicago PD amassed tens of millions in a secret black budget for surveillance gear

fob-feature_civ_forfeiture-900

Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor’s office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear.
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