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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

By Crom, what sorcery is this? These women with their motley tights have backdoored my brain's habitual human-recognition heuristics and keep fooling my eye into seeing impossible acrobatic half-humans with phase-shifted torsos!

Black and White Tights Dance (with "Tanz" lyrics) (via IO9)     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Journeyman Pictures' short documentary "Naked Citizens" is an absolutely terrifying and amazing must-see glimpse of the modern security state, and the ways in which it automatically ascribes guilt to people based on algorithmic inferences, and, having done so, conducts such far-reaching surveillance into its victims' lives that the lack of anything incriminating is treated of proof of being a criminal mastermind:

"I woke up to pounding on my door", says Andrej Holm, a sociologist from the Humboldt University. In what felt like a scene from a movie, he was taken from his Berlin home by armed men after a systematic monitoring of his academic research deemed him the probable leader of a militant group. After 30 days in solitary confinement, he was released without charges. Across Western Europe and the USA, surveillance of civilians has become a major business. With one camera for every 14 people in London and drones being used by police to track individuals, the threat of living in a Big Brother state is becoming a reality. At an annual conference of hackers, keynote speaker Jacob Appelbaum asserts, "to be free of suspicion is the most important right to be truly free". But with most people having a limited understanding of this world of cyber surveillance and how to protect ourselves, are our basic freedoms already being lost?

World - Naked Citizens (Thanks, Dan!)     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Caleb sez, "I wanted to try making something in the style of "Q" from the James Bond movies. My idea was to make an emergency self destruct system for laptops and portable hard drives. It turned out pretty well, it is always fun to watch stuff melt!"

I wanted to implement thermite as a self destruct mechanism inside the device. To do this, I had to come up with a way to ignite the thermite. This stuff is very difficult to light. You have to get it really really hot. The easiest way is to use magnesium, which itself isn’t the easiest thing to light.

What I finally landed on was an ignition system that uses model rocket igniters, gun powder, and magnesium to light the thermite. The model rocket igniter can be set off from the 12v line inside your computer. However, it isn’t hot enough to light magnesium shavings, much less thermite. To get it to work, I needed to add some gunpowder. A small amount of gun powder would get hot enough to light the magnesium shavings, which in turn were hot enough to light the thermite. I had to be careful though, because too much gunpowder would cause a rapid expansion, blowing the thermite everywhere instead of lighting it. You can actually see some red thermite being blown out of the external hard drive and the laptop as the gunpowder ignites.

Laptop vs Thermite: Slow motion destruction (Thanks, Caleb)     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

R Paul Wilson sez, "I've just released a short film about magic and nostalgia. 'The Magic Box' is based on experiences and memories that many of us share and follows a handmade magic trick as it passes from one generation to the next."

This is as sweet as a sweet thing.

The Magic Box     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Shapeways user Maundy created the Steampunk Geared Cube, a magnificent geared confection that came out of the 3D printed fully assembled!

The cube contains a total of 28 gears, all of which turn from manually rotating only one (though the designer notes that rotating two gears results in a smoother motion). The outermost gear on each side has handles for easy rotation, and each is linked to its adjacent gear in an interlocking pattern. Once one gear is spun, the others correspondingly spin along.

In addition to the fascinating pattern and mechanics, the cube has a tray in the middle for holding various small objects. The product also comes with a stand and a lockable lid, which is placed on top of the cube and can be locked and unlocked by rotating the gears.

3D Printed 28-Geared Cube     

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow

Dr. Tom Murphy VII gave a research paper called "The First Level of Super Mario Bros. is Easy with Lexicographic Orderings and Time Travel . . . after that it gets a little tricky," (PDF) (source code) at SIGBOVIK 2013, in which he sets out a computational method for solving classic NES games. He devised two libraries for this: learnfun (learning fuction) and playfun (playing function). In this accompanying video, he chronicles the steps and missteps he took getting to a pretty clever destination.

learnfun & playfun: A general technique for automating NES games (via O'Reilly Radar)     

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We Chatted with the Dirty Girls, 17 Years Later

Earlier this week, a video called “Dirty Girls” went viral on YouTube—and not for the reasons you’d expect, given the title. The documentary video, originally shot in 1996 by filmmaker (and then high school senior) Michael Lucid, was released in 2000 and chronicles a group of outcasts, refered to by their tormentors as the “Dirty Girls,” who pride themselves on riot grrrl ethos, being different, and just not giving a fuck. The video focuses on the two leaders of the Dirty Girls, sisters Amber and Harper, who speak clearly and eloquently (as eloquently as an eighth grader can be expected to) about their convictions, while girls in sunglasses and jean jackets talk smack about them behind their backs. Not only is the documentary a perfect time capsule for people who went to high school in the 90s, it also perfectly captures two strong, independent young people speaking their minds and doing their own thing. 

When I first watched “Dirty Girls,” I loved it. I sent it around to everyone in the VICE offices, and they loved it, too. We all decided that we really needed to track down the original Dirty Girls and see what they were up to today. It turned to be not that difficult a task. Harper lives in New York City and was gracious enough to visit our offices, where I chatted with her and her sister, Amber, who joined us via Skype.

VICE: When is the first time that you guys saw the video?
Harper: Pretty much right after it was made when we were still in high school. Around 2000, he did a screening of it at a gay and lesbian film festival in LA. He had taken it down from an hour to 20 minutes, so that was the first time we saw this short, really well-put-together documentary. We haven’t seen it since then… so 12,13 years or so.

How did you find out that it was taking off online like it has?
Harper: A close friend of mine had it forwarded from somebody from high school. Someone forwarded it me and said, “I’m blown away. Oh my god, I love you girls. You’re such strong little ones. So confident. I’m so impressed.” And at that point, there were 2000 views. That was the first day. And then it just went from there, and more and more people contacted us.

Amber: I only really just watched it again fully yesterday. I felt like I remembered it really well 13 years ago. I had a certain amount of emotions about it at that time and was sure that I would feel the same now. But when I watched it yesterday, it was totally different. It’s amazing to me, because I think it’s a reflection on us and where we’re from. I’m the same person who watched it 12 years ago, and I’m also so different in how I’ve developed and what I think now. It was a completely different perspective. It was the miracle of life. I love it. It’s fascinating.

How do you feel when you watch the video now? Are you proud? Embarrassed?
Harper: I’m excited about it. I think it’s great. I remember in the moment feeling like we were given a voice that we didn’t have without that video being shown to the rest of the school. So I felt proud of the commentary then, and I do now too. I’m also just so blown away by the positive reactions from everybody. Just looking at the YouTube comments where everyone is so inspired, impressed by us. That just makes me feel so happy. I think back then we were dedicated to giving people voices that maybe didn’t have them. And I think both of us would agree that neither of us have any hard feelings toward any of those people, the older students making comments about it.

Continue

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You know what's better than the nerd-classic 1985 teen comedy Real Genius? How about the Real Genius trailer recut in the style of M. Night Shyamalan, by YouTuber dondrapersayswhat (creator of the Breakfast Club/Avengers mashup and this this insanely great Baby Got Back mashup?


Real Genius by M. Night Shyamalan: Trailer Recut

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

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Richard Weisman has updated his marvellous video of unloseble sucker bets with ten more bar-bets you can't lose. Life skills!


10 more amazing bets you will always win

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"Ultra Ever Dry" is a nanomaterial spray-coating that is (apparently) insanely hydrophobic, shedding dirt, water and oil. The jaw-dropping product video suggests many possibilities, from extreme hydroplaning sports to odd molecular gastronomy possibilities (though it's not rated food-safe, so caveat sprayer). If you're impatient, just zip the video to 2:00 or so and marvel.

What is it? The company says it's a "coating" that will repel almost any liquid by creating a barrier of air on the surface. They don't say what's in the coating. Whatever it is, the How to Apply This Product video suggests you don goggles, gloves and protective gear when you spray. They claim it will protect in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but durability is a question. In the video, they say abrasion might affect performance (which makes me wonder how long a pair of sprayed boots would stay dry if you were on a wet, slippery, rocky hiking trail). It's expensive. The base coat is $57.95 and the top coat is $100.95 a quart. On the other hand, if you dare to spray it on your car windows, you wouldn't need window wipers. Or would the windows get too cloudy? If you sprayed it on a car surface, would it affect the gloss? Probably.

Next Time Your Mom Says Don't Go Out in The Rain, Spray Yourself With This [Robert Krulwich/NPR]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

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