Boing Boing 

Howard Rheingold's 1994 sketches for HotWired

Howard Rheingold is scanning and posting the awe-inspiring pages from his notebook with sketches and notes for the design of HotWired, Wired's groundbreaking (and defunct) website. I love his use of color. Link

Coin jar calculator

Picture 1-135 Do you want to know how much your jar of change is worth?

First, weigh the jar, then grab a handful of coins and enter the number of pennies, nickels, etc. into the form and click "Get Estimation." Link (Thanks, Mouser!)

20-sided die tattoo

200712311139 If you're going to tattoo a Platonic solid on your arm, it might as well be a gamer's "d20" icosahedron die. Link (Thanks, Church!)

Record industry practices revisionism about music recording

The Record Industry has changed its tune on personal use of music you own. It used to say that copying songs from your CDs was fine, but now it's pretending it didn't say that.

The Washington Post reports:

200712311121-1 Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,'" she said.

On Dave Farber's IP mailing list, Dan Gillmor points out that the recording industry used to have a different opinion on personal use. It removed the following statement from its website (but you can still read it on

"If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail."
Gillmor adds: "Also, from the Supreme Court oral arguments in the Grokster case, Donald Virrelli, on behalf of the entertainment companies:"
The record companies, my clients, have said, for some time now, and it's been on their Website for some time now, that it's perfectly lawful to take a CD that you've purchased, upload it onto your computer, put it onto your iPod. There is a very, very significant lawful commercial use for that device, going forward."

Make your own "Moon Sand" for under 60 cents a lb

Make your own moldable sand with ordinary play sand, corn starch, and water.
200712311007One of the hot Christmas items this year was Moon Sand. But while it's certainly not a bank-breaker, it is costly for what is basically wet sand. So, I did a little digging around (pun intended) and discovered a way to make your very own moon sand. Here's the best part...the homemade stuff will set you back less than 60 cents per pound!

As you may know, there are several Moon Sand kits out there, and they come with all sorts of the usual play-dough style gadgets and molds. But if you just want a bucket of the stuff, the best deal I have found so far is at Amazon, where a 7 1/2 lb tub will cost you $18.74, down from $29.99 (at the time this article was published).

Link (Thanks, Will!)

UK declares War on Terror over

Chris Spurgeon says: "According to a story last week in the London Daily Mail newspaper, the British government has had enough with the "War on Terror" hype. (Link is to, one of the many sites that has reprinted the Daily Mail article.)"
Sir Ken Macdonald said terrorist fanatics were not soldiers fighting a war but simply members of an aimless "death cult."

The Director of Public Prosecutions said: 'We resist the language of warfare, and I think the government has moved on this. It no longer uses this sort of language."

London is not a battlefield, he said.

"The people who were murdered on July 7 were not the victims of war. The men who killed them were not soldiers," Macdonald said. "They were fantasists, narcissists, murderers and criminals and need to be responded to in that way."

Good to see the UK coming to its senses. Hopefully the US won't be far behind. Link

Knot science

How is it that phone cords, earbuds, and the string for my son's gyroscope so often end up a knotted mess? To find out, biophysicists and mathematicians are developing experiments to exploring how knots can spontaneously form so quickly. Their research may provide insight not only into the tangled web of power cords behind your desk but also natural knots, like those in proteins and DNA. From Science News:
 Articles 20071222 A9136 1490 By tumbling a string of rope inside a box, biophysicists Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith have discovered that knots–even complex knots–form surprisingly fast and often. The string first coils up, and then its free ends swivel around the other coils, tracing a random path among them. That essentially makes the coils into a braid, producing knots, the scientists say...

In topology, a knot is any curved line that closes up on itself, possibly after a circuitous path in three dimensions. A circle is regarded as the "trivial" knot. Two loops are considered to be the same knot if you can turn one into the other by topological manipulation, which in this case means anything that does not break the curve or force it to run through itself.

Topologically, a knotted string is not a real knot, as long as its ends are free. That's because either of the ends can always thread back through any entanglement and undo the knot. An open string, no matter how garbled, is the same as a straight segment. (Mathematicians usually think of strings as being stretchable and infinitesimally thin, so in topology there is no issue of a knot being tight.)

Strictly speaking, then, the string in Raymer and Smith's box was never knotted. But it was still a mess.

Previously on BB:
• Scientific study on why knots happen Link
• Many better ways to tie your shoes Link
• Ideal knots spun in 3D Link

Pancakes in a pressurized can

Orgbatterblas Over the holidays, my brother Charles proudly showed me his new favorite convenience foodstuff: Batter Blaster, pancake batter in a pressurized can. It's not only organic, but Batter Blaster is apparently "fast, easy and fun for the whole family." My brother says the pancakes and waffles it produces are quite tasty. Unfortunately, I didn't get to sample them.

Previously on BB Gadgets:
• Batter Blaster: Pancakes in a Can Link

Driver blames pterodactyl for crashing into pole

From Wenatchee World:
A 29-year-old Wenatchee man told police a pterodactyl caused him to drive his car into a light pole about 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

When police asked the man what caused the accident, his one-word answer was "pterodactyl," Smith said. A pterodactyl was a giant winged reptile that lived more than 65 million years ago.

Link (Via Nothing To Do With Arbroath)

Previously on Boing Boing:
Leprechaun opens car door for pantless man

Ice fishing in Japan

Picture 8-14 Short news clip of people in Hokkaido camping on an ice-covered pond, fishing for tiny smelt, then grilling and eating them on the spot. Link

Easy-bend teaspoon

Should Uri Geller ever lose his remarkable ability to bend spoons, he should stock up on these special spoons that are made with a piece of nitinol, which gets soft under hot water.
200712310855 The liquid does not need to be boiling - the spoon will also bend if placed under the hot tap.

To reset the spoon, just cool it under the cold tap, and straighten it again. The spoon can be used many times, as Nitinol is a very flexible metal.


Hello Kitty contact lenses

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 12 Hello-Kitty-Contacts-2
Hello Kitty Hell posted this photo of a young lady modeling Hello Kitty contact lenses. Link

Girl gets revolutionary note in package instead of iPod

A man bought an iPod from a Wal-Mart. It was a Christmas gift for his daughter. When she opened it, it didn't contain an iPod. It contained a note, set in ransom-letter type, that read:

"Reclaim your mind from the media's shackles. Read a book and resurect [sic] yourself. To claim your capitalistic garbage go to your nearest Apple store."

200712310844Jay Ellis, the girls father, returned the iPod to the Germantown, Md. Wal-Mart store where he purchased it. The store manger told him that another customer returned an iPod with a similar issue.

Mary Blair exhibition in San Francisco

 Images  Memberimages Icanfly Small  Images  Memberimages Small World Small
On Saturday, I visited San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum where i was blown away by the Mary Blair exhibition. A painter and Disney animator in the 1940s and 1950s, Blair is best known for creating the concept art for Disney's Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, designing Disney's It's A Small World world, and illustrating several timeless and magical Golden Books such as "I Can Fly." Blair was a tremendous influence on contemporary artists like BB pal Tim Biskup, Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter, and our own Mark Frauenfelder. This retrospective exhibition is captured in book form in The Art and Flair of Mary Blair. Seeing her wonderful concept drawings and original Golden Book illustrations in person though was the perfect way to end a year filled with great art.

Link to selections from the exhibition
Link to buy The Art and Flair of Mary Blair
Link to Mary Blair entry on Wikipedia
Link to Cartoon Modern posts on Blair
Link to Blair work at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive
Link to Disney Legends: Mary Blair

Previously on BB:
• Mary Blair "Small World" designs Link
• "Mary Blair Week" at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive blog Link

Do monkeys have a theory of mind?

The new issue of Smithsonian magazine profiles the work of Yale psychologist Laurie Santos, 32, who hangs out with monkeys on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico to get inside their heads. She draws from cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology to suss out whether these non-human primates have a "theory of mind." The "theory of mind" refers to the ability to recognize and understand others' thoughts, desires, intentions, and feelings--basically to get where someone else if coming from. Santos tries to show that monkeys have this cognitive capacity. The article presents several of her field experiments and the results. From Smithsonian:
"This is what we do," (Santos) says, "hike around looking for monkeys by themselves who are hungry and want to play. It's hard to find social creatures by themselves," she adds as she backs out of the field of view of a primatologist's video camera, "and even harder to find ones that aren't being followed by other researchers..."

Santos' interest here is in what psychologists call "theory of mind," the ability to impute thoughts and intentions to another individual, one of the cornerstones of human cognition. "Sitting here talking with you," Santos explains, "all I can see is your behavior, but I draw inferences about your desires and thoughts. The interesting question is, how far back in evolutionary time does that ability extend? Can it exist without language?" As recently as a decade ago, the conventional wisdom doubted that even chimpanzees, which are more closely related to human beings than are monkeys, possessed theory of mind. This view is changing, in large measure because of the work of Santos and her collaborators. With her students in tow and a small bag of grapes in her pocket, Santos is now out to demonstrate the phenomenon–if a Macaca mulatta can be induced to cooperate.