“I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”—Kurt Vonnegut (via maxkirin)
John Scalzi’s new novel Lock In is already rocketing up the bestseller charts, and with good reason — it’s a book with everything Scalzi’s fans have come to love and expect from his books, and more — a parable about disability, big business, and technological change, wrapped in a tense police-procedural that grabs you and won’t let go. Cory Doctorow reviews Lock In.
All across the Internet, websites and services are staging a mass denial of service attack on themselves, to show the world what the world would look like if Big Cable and AT&T solicit bribes to decide which websites you can reach quickly, and which ones are going to go in the Internet slow-lane.
“In 2002, having spent more than three years in one residence for the first time in my life, I got called for jury duty. I show up on time, ready to serve. When we get to the voir dire, the lawyer says to me, “I see you’re an astrophysicist. What’s that?” I answer, “Astrophysics is the laws of physics, applied to the universe—the Big Bang, black holes, that sort of thing.” Then he asks, “What do you teach at Princeton?” and I say, “I teach a class on the evaluation of evidence and the relative unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” Five minutes later, I’m on the street.
A few years later, jury duty again. The judge states that the defendant is charged with possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine. It was found on his body, he was arrested, and he is now on trial. This time, after the Q&A is over, the judge asks us whether there are any questions we’d like to ask the court, and I say, “Yes, Your Honor. Why did you say he was in possession of 1,700 milligrams of cocaine? That equals 1.7 grams. The ‘thousand’ cancels with the ‘milli-’ and you get 1.7 grams, which is less than the weight of a dime.” Again I’m out on the street.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson (via kateoplis)
There’s a whole thriving industry of pre-packaged, single serving Communion wafers and wine/juice, each toting their own (sometimes sectarian) benefits: a unique, ergonomic design; Christian Bread not a cut-down Catholic Wafer! (500 for $70!); free samples! (via JWZ)
The most infamous serial killer in history has reportedly been unmasked, 126 years later. Jack The Ripper stalked the East End in 1888 and murdered at least five women.
According to various theories, he was a member of the Royal family, a former prime minister or painter Walter Sickert.
Now, the latest theorist has stepped forward, saying the murderer was none of these but in fact, a Polish immigrant named Aaron Kosminski who was later committed to an asylum, where he died.
Using a shawl of one of the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes, DNA tests have shown Kosminski’s blood is present, according to businessman and amateur sleuth Russell Edwards.
Mr Edwards bought the shawl at auction in 2007 and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, an expert in the forensic investigation of historic crime scenes.
Writing in The Mail On Sunday, Mr Edwards said he and Dr Louhelainen tested semen on the shawl against a DNA swab taken from a distant British descendant of Kosminski.
He writes: “Amplifying and sequencing the DNA from the cells found on the shawl took months of painstaking, innovative work.
"By that point, my excitement had reached fever-pitch. And when the email finally arrived telling me Jari had found a perfect match, I was overwhelmed. Seven years after I bought the shawl, we had nailed Aaron Kosminski."
He adds: “Kosminski was not a member of the Royal Family, or an eminent surgeon or politician. Serial killers rarely are.”
"Instead, he was a pathetic creature, a lunatic who achieved sexual satisfaction from slashing women to death in the most brutal manner. He died in Leavesden Asylum from gangrene at the age of 53, weighing just 7 stone.
"No doubt a slew of books and films will now emerge to speculate on his personality and motivation. I have no wish to do so.
"I wanted to provide real answers using scientific evidence, and I’m overwhelmed that 126 years on, I have solved the mystery."
Because of the age of the shawl, Dr Louhelainen used a method he called ‘vacuuming’, using a pipette filled with a special ‘buffering’ liquid that removed the genetic material in the cloth without damaging it.
Also writing in the Mail On Sunday, he said: “Now that it’s over, I’m excited and proud of what we’ve achieved, and satisfied that we have established, as far as we possibly can, that Aaron Kosminski is the culprit.”
Kominski was committed to an asylum in 1891 and died there in 1919.
There is evidence that police at the time regarded Kosminski as the chief suspect.
In 2006, the Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum obtained a copy of the memoir of a senior officer in which Chief Inspector Donald Swanson, who was the original officer in charge of the Ripper investigation, had made handwritten notes.
The final words he wrote were: “Kosminski was the supsect.”
Interesting. Not quite sure how I feel about this. Thoughts?
The term cobra effect stems from an anecdote set at the time of British rule of colonial India. The British government was concerned about the number of venomouscobrasnakes in Delhi. The government therefore offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially this was a successful strategy as large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising persons began to breed cobras for the income. When the government became aware of this, the reward program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. As a result, the wild cobra population further increased. The apparent solution for the problem made the situation even worse.
I’m not able to figure out where, exactly, this sumi-e ink-wash-style painting of the Alien originates, but it’s something else. The garbled machine translation of this Chinese article seems like a promising lead, but I can’t make heads nor tails of it.
Neil Gaiman’s library: Naturally we’d assumed that someone whose work is filled with references ranging from literary to mythological would have a fairly extensive library but even so, we were a bit unprepared for the scope of what he sent us.
“Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don’t try to be perfect as you go along, just get to the end of tha damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try and polish every sentence there’s a chance you’ll never get past the first chapter.”—Iain Banks (via writingquotes)
"Seventeen mysterious cellphone towers have been found in America which look like ordinary towers, and can only be identified by a heavily customized handset built for Android security – but have a much more malicious purpose, according to Popular Science."
For the next two weeks, in partnership with BitLit Media, my publisher and I are launching an experiment. If you own a physical copy of my first novel, HEART-SHAPED BOX – in hardcover or in paperback – you can now get a free copy of the eBook, which you can read using the software of your…