Make a short video for Curt Smith’s first residency in two years, win prizes

curtsmith1.jpg Photo: Justine Ungaro. Curt Smith (of Tears for Fears) is playing is first solo residency in two years at the Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, CA, beginning next Thursday. Vocalist on the original hit single Mad World — a song recently remixed here at BB as a backdrop to a collection of game deaths — Curt & co. liked our video so much they want more! This is where you step in: if you create a video, animation or slideshow that would look good behind a classic Tears for Fears track on which Curt sings lead (such as Everybody Wants To Rule The World and Pale Shelter), or a favorite such as Fake Plastic Trees, Drive or Yellow, it might get featured in one of the dates (April 14, 21 and 28; May 18 and 25; and June 1), as part of a set list centered around Curt’s own solo material. We’ll feature anything that’s selected and there will be FABULOUS PRIZES from the Boing Boing Dungeon of Stolen Review Loaners.

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dj BC mashes up Jay-Z and Brian Eno: ANOTHER JAY ON EARTH

rageear writes, “dj BC returns with his latest mashup album that crosses the works of Jay-Z with Brian Eno. Known for his previous works ‘The Beastles’, ‘Wu Orleans’, and ‘Glassbreaks’, dj BC continues to make fantastically interesting music and shows no signs of stopping.”

I just downloaded this and gave it a spin, and as with all dj BC projects, the amazing thing isn’t the incongruity of the two sources he combines, but how he finds their underlying similarities and brings them to the fore. I love dj BC’s work, and a new album is always cause for celebration.


3D printing with “wood flour”

University of Washington Open3D student Meghan Trainor and her colleagues Juliana Meira do Valle and Kate Lien are experimenting with 3D printing using “wood flour” made from finely ground walnut and pecan shells and wood bark. They’re also expanding into 3D printing with iced tea!

A year ago Open3D student Meghan Trainor started doing tests on 3D printing in wood. Later on students Juliana Meira do Valle and Kate Lien took over the experiments and worked to improve the results. The team now 3D print in black walnut shell flour, pecan shell flour, wood bark flour & wood flour. The team uses a powder based 3D printer which is basically a hacked version of a commercial system. In this case the team has used UF glue as a binder. The recipe for 3D printing in wood is to use 4 to 5 parts wood or nut flour and 1 part UF glue. The initial results are intriguing and prove once again that the Open3DP team is really pushing the envelope on hacking and improving 3D printers and 3D printing materials.

3D printing in wood flour

Science fiction movie produced in 48 hours

Precision is a great little science fiction short film that was written, shot, scored, and edited in 48 hours as part of a filmmaking challenge. It’s an inspiring example of how digital storytelling is changing in the face of new, nimble tools that lower the cost of experimentation and production:

Precision was always going to be restricted by the nature of the 48 hour challenge, very short time to conceive, write, shoot, edit and score! Not to mention the restriction of a prop, title and dialogue that had to be included in whatever we created. We did not let that stop us though and thought ambitious thoughts.

With the ‘All the Kings Horses’ team assembled we registered for SCI-FI LONDON 2011. When the challenge weekend arrived I went along to the briefing and pulled out from a hat our three restrictions:

Prop: red or green liquid inside a clear bottle with no label

Title: Precision

Dialogue: It is just a glitch in the time continuum, it will sort itself out in a minute. Just hope it won’t wipe you out in the mean time.

Paradox Malt – ‘Precision’ behind the scenes (Thanks, @sizemore!)

Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts go digital, play high-tech pranks on riders

Inside the Magic has an early look at the latest revision to the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion, where they have replaced the venerable (and wonderful) post-climactic “Hitchhiking Ghosts” scene with a high-tech version. The original used half-silvered mirrors to make it appear as though a ghostly apparition was sitting in your “Doom Buggy” with you as you headed for the offload area; the new version uses extremely clever digital “mirrors” and sensors that allow the ghosts in your cart to interact with you — swapping heads with you, dancing around in and on your car, and playing other tricks. I always like the original’s elegance: a very simple trick, executed so well that it never failed to delight. But the new version has an unabashed technical virtuosity that is unquestionably delightful; the problem, I fear, will come in a few years when this sort of trickery is common in your living room (thanks to Kinect systems and their successors), making this stuff all commonplace. Unless Disney commits to continuously revising and upgrading the digital systems to stay ahead of the household equivalents, I think it’ll staledate much faster and more dramatically than the old analog systems.

First Look: New Haunted Mansion animated Hitchhiking Ghost mirror scene effects materialize at Walt Disney World playing pranks on guests (via Neatorama)

Möbius Gear: a one-sided, toothed gear

UC Berkeley postdoc Aaron M Hoover combined math and imagination to solve the problem of building a one-sided “Möbius gear.” He rendered it and then output molds for it on a 3D printer, cast them, and assembled his freaky, mind-melting beast.

While searching for a suitable project for CS 285 (Procedural Solid Modeling) I was introduced to the Möbius gear by Professor Sequin. I was immediately intrigued by the curious combination of the Möbius mathematical surface popularized by M.C. Escher and functional mechanical gear elements. After some time staring at and puzzling over this image, I convinced myself that this mechanism is indeed possible and that with right tools, a functional prototype could be built. (The entire mechanism essentially boils down to an oddly configured set of planetary gears. One can think of the black portion in the image as the ring with a fixed zero input velocity. A single blue gear is a planet, and the white strip is the sun. Output can be taken either from the sun or the planets (with no regard for practicality!). In practice, however, it’s easiest to actuate the Möbius strip (the white portion).

The Möbius Gear (via Neatorama)

Stiglitz: wealth concentration will be America’s downfall

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz writes in this month’s Vanity Fair about the corrosive, self-reinforcing wealth concentration that has hijacked American politics, in which the America’s future is sacrificed to give ever more money to an ever-smaller group of oligarchs. We’ve heard lots of people talking about wealth concentration before, but Stiglitz combines impeccable credentials with a lay-friendly explanation:

America’s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect–people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real. Inequality massively distorts our foreign policy. The top 1 percent rarely serve in the military–the reality is that the “all-volunteer” army does not pay enough to attract their sons and daughters, and patriotism goes only so far. Plus, the wealthiest class feels no pinch from higher taxes when the nation goes to war: borrowed money will pay for all that. Foreign policy, by definition, is about the balancing of national interests and national resources. With the top 1 percent in charge, and paying no price, the notion of balance and restraint goes out the window. There is no limit to the adventures we can undertake; corporations and contractors stand only to gain. The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the “core” labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment–things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care.

Or, more accurately, they think they don’t. Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise: the chances of a poor citizen, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them. It is this sense of an unjust system without opportunity that has given rise to the conflagrations in the Middle East: rising food prices and growing and persistent youth unemployment simply served as kindling. With youth unemployment in America at around 20 percent (and in some locations, and among some socio-demographic groups, at twice that); with one out of six Americans desiring a full-time job not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps (and about the same number suffering from “food insecurity”)–given all this, there is ample evidence that something has blocked the vaunted “trickling down” from the top 1 percent to everyone else. All of this is having the predictable effect of creating alienation–voter turnout among those in their 20s in the last election stood at 21 percent, comparable to the unemployment rate.

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% (via 3 Quarks Daily)

(Image: A Political Walking Tour Of Dublin 2, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from infomatique’s photostream)

Recording industry lobbyist appointed head of copyright for European Commission

Maria Martin-Prat, who took a leave from her job at the European Commission to work as Deputy General Counsel and Director of Legal Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI — thee international version of the RIAA, CRIA and BPI, though they’re all basically the same companies), has returned to the EC to run its copyright unit. While Martin-Prat was enjoying her holiday as a lobbyist for the industry she now regulates, she took a number of extremist copyright positions, including lobbying against the private copying exemption (part of European Fair Dealing), and arguing that it should be illegal to break the DRM on the media you buy, even if you don’t violate copyright in doing so.

Christian Engström, Pirate MEP, writes, “Welcome to the European Union, where the big business lobby organizations are calling most of the shots at the Commission, and where citizens are just seen as a nuisance to be ignored. I guess the only real news is that they don’t even bother to try to hide it any more.”

Two MEPs are openly questioning Martin-Prat’s appointment. Liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake and Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström have written to the European Commission, asking, “Does the Commission not see any problems in recruiting top civil servants from special interest organisations, especially when being put in charge of dossiers directly related to their former employers? If not, why not?

“Does the Commission feel that such an appointment would help to build confidence with the European Parliament and the general public that the Commission can be trusted to handle copyright-related issues in a fair and balanced manner?”

Maria Martin-Prat reported to replace Tilman Lueder as head of unit for copyright at European Commission (via /. and Ars Technica)

How emacs got into Tron: Legacy

Here’s a great account of the good, nerdy thoughtfulness that went into generating the command-line screenshots for Tron: Legacy; JT Nimoy decided that he’d go for a mix of l33t and realistic, and landed on emacs eshell and posix kill:

In addition to visual effects, I was asked to record myself using a unix terminal doing technologically feasible things. I took extra care in babysitting the elements through to final composite to ensure that the content would not be artistically altered beyond that feasibility. I take representing digital culture in film very seriously in lieu of having grown up in a world of very badly researched user interface greeble. I cringed during the part in Hackers (1995) when a screen saver with extruded “equations” is used to signify that the hacker has reached some sort of neural flow or ambiguous destination. I cringed for Swordfish and Jurassic Park as well. I cheered when Trinity in The Matrix used nmap and ssh (and so did you). Then I cringed again when I saw that inevitably, Hollywood had decided that nmap was the thing to use for all its hacker scenes (see Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, Girl with Dragon Tattoo, The Listening, 13: Game of Death, Battle Royale, Broken Saints, and on and on). In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance — splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes. I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie. I actually do use emacs irl, and although I do not subscribe to alt.religion.emacs, I think that’s all incredibly relevant to the world of Tron.

jtnimoy – Tron Legacy (2010) (via JWZ)