Software pioneer and ENIAC programmer Jean Bartik dies at 86


The New York Times has published an obituary for Jean Jennings Bartik, “one of the first computer programmers and a pioneering forerunner in a technology that came to be known as software.” She died on March 23 at a nursing home in Poughkeepsie, NY, at age 86. She was the last surviving member of the group of women who programmed the Eniac, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, regarded as the first all-electronic digital computer. (via Jim Roberts)

Photo, via Wikipedia: “Two women operating the ENIAC’s main control panel while the machine was still located at the Moore School. ‘U.S. Army Photo’ from the archives of the ARL Technical Library. Left: Betty Jennings (Mrs. Bartik) Right: Frances Bilas (Mrs. Spence)

Voices and pictures from Madison, Wisconsin, protests

We Are Wisconsin from Finn Ryan on Vimeo.

Last night, I joined the scattered groups of people walking down Madison, Wisconsin’s State Street towards the State Capitol Building. There weren’t the mighty throngs from last weekend, but for a Thursday night, at 8:00 pm, the smaller clutches still made an impact. They came up both sides of the block. A group of five here. Another three over there. Four coming up right behind them.

I wanted to see, for myself, what was happening in Wisconsin—what it really looks and feels like when a diverse swath of Americans band together for a common cause. From that first realization that all the people on State Street were going to the same place I was going, I knew this was going to be a new experience.

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Althea Mae Koerth (1923-2011)


Early Thursday morning, while my Dad held her hand, the best Grammy in the entire world passed away. I made it to Kansas just in time to see her, and talk with her, before she died.

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post anything here about it, but I want something out there, semi-permanent, bearing witness to the fact that this woman was amazing. Grammy was a Maker. She was my inspiration as a bookworm, a smartypants girl, and a Happy Mutant.

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Global Pillow Fights: Apocalypse Down (a BB big photo gallery)

(REUTERS/Susana Vera) Revelers take part in a pillow fight outside Madrid’s Royal Palace February 14, 2011. The pillow fight was a flash mob event organised by “MadridMobs” with the only rules being to have fun and clean up after yourself. By the way, if you want to invite someone to a “pillow fight” in Madrid, the phrase is “guerra de almohadas.” Here’s more about pillow fight flash mobs, and apparently there is a very large global smackdown planned for April, 2011. Oh, and here is a splendid flickr set of yesterday’s pillow fight in San Francisco, plus video, by Boing Boing reader Bhautik Joshi.

More photos from around the world, this year and in pillow fight fests of years past, below.

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Sneak-preview screening of “Happy” documentary in LA 2011

[Video Link] Sign up for a sneak-preview screening of the Happy documentary at LA’s Downtown Independent Theater on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 7:00 PM.

HAPPY is a feature documentary that takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research and real life stories of ordinary and extraordinary people around the world, HAPPY uncovers the secrets behind our most valued emotion.

(Note to pro-unhappy readers: I couldn’t find the trailer for the People who Seek Happiness are Selfish documentary, but I’m sure of you will provide a URL in the comments.)

A ProjectFresh Screening: “Happy” inc. Q+A with Director Roko Belic

Should The Leather Man, 19th-c. proto-hobo of New York, be exhumed?

From The New Haven Register:

The Leather Man lived the simplest of lives in the mid- to late 1800s, walking the countryside in a set pattern through parts of Connecticut and New York, sleeping in caves, saying very little, living off the land and, later, eating through the kindness of strangers. He became a folk hero, as much for the mystery of his past as for the uniqueness of his lifestyle and personality.

122 years after his death, the Leather Man is at the center of a controversy: historians want to dig his remains up from a cemetery in Ossining, N.Y., because of the site’s “dangerous proximity” to a busy road, and because they want to perform forensic tests, due to his historical significance.

A local middle school history teacher, Don Johnson, wants them to He “uses the life of the Leather Man to teach students about prejudice, bullying, harassment, stereotyping and recycling.” There’s even a Facebook page for those who want to leave his grave undisturbed.

(via BB Submitterator, thanks Jack)

Meet Chase No Face, the heroic, seriously disfigured kitty

Here is what I know about this kitty (un-blurred photograph after the jump, or click the blurred one to see, some find it disturbing):

DSC_0005mosaic.jpg I was in an accident when I was 4 wks (2005), I became disfigured.

I have a Furry Will to survive & I am completely healed. I require medication during the day to keep my eyes moist. I will always look different but I am in NO PAIN!

I have seen 10 vets and they can attest to that! Im a happy kitty and hope to help other humans feel just as great about themselves and realize that not everyone looks perfect and that is OK.


Chase No Face kitty is on Facebook and the chasenoface blog.

Larger, unblurred photo of the kitty after the jump.

(thanks, Tara McGinley)

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