Boing Boing 

Serialization of The Deal, Chapter 22

deal-cover.jpgMy friend Joe Hutsko contacted with the intriguing offer to serialize his novel, The Deal, on Boing Boing. I jumped at the chance. I read The Deal when it first came out in 1999 and loved the thrilling story about a Apple-like company's undertaking to create an iPhone-like device.

Here's a link to Chapter 22 as a PDF or a text file. (Here's chapter 1 and an introduction to the book, and here are the previous chapters)

To buy a paperback copy of the book, visit JOEyGADGET or purchase directly from Amazon.


GREETINGS. This is John Hodgman writing at the witching hour (5:48PM EST).

It is Hallowe'en, and thus time to CRACK THE CRYSTAL SKULL at last.

Please see the enclosed video.

That is all.

TED talk about cool materials for toys and other uses

This is a fun TED talk: "The Inventables guys, Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht, demo some amazing new materials and how we might use them. Look for squishy magnets, odor-detecting ink, "dry" liquid and a very surprising 10-foot pole." Keith Schacht & Zach Kaplan: Products (and toys) from the future

$20 kit produces trillions of universes


Are you willing to take on the responsibility that comes with bringing trillions of universes into existence, each teeming with sentient life? That's something to ponder before plunking down $20 for this make-your-own-universe kit, created by artist Jonathon Keats.

If two events are possible, quantum theory assumes that both occur simultaneously - until an observer determines the outcome. For example, in Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, in which his cat may have been killed with a 50 per cent probability, the cat is both alive and dead until someone checks. When the observation is made, the universe splits into two, one for each possible outcome. For example, Schrödinger's cat would be alive in one universe and dead in the other universe.

According to the theory, any kind of measurement causes the universe to split and this is the basis of Keats' new device. His universe creator uses a piece of uranium-doped glass to create a steam of alpha particles, which are then detected using a thin sliver of scintillating crystal. Each detection causes the creation of a new universe.

The make-your-own-universe kit

Email error on road sign

200810311201 The Welsh portion of this sign reads, ""I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated."" Email error on road sign

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets

Today on Boing Boing Gadgets, there was the usual spurting of Halloween themed posts: a little boy dressed as Wall-E's Eve, a spinal cord beer funnel, some cute Pac-Man pumpkins and the awesomest little boy mech walker costume. Otherwise, we started the day by watching two robots box and do their best Lou Bega impression. We looked at a futuristic car straight out of an MGM cartoon, and as agony aunts cackled over Apple's blunders. There was a baby carriage for larval Slim Pickens, and an examination of a modern-day masturbation table for the treatment of "hysteria" / "stress." In realer tech news, Brownlee despaired that the new PSPs are hacker proof, while Rob looked at a joystick for sweaty gamers. Rob spotted a fax machine that can send and receive email, and a keyring that infinitely simulates the fun of popping bubble wrap. There was an expensive sudoku watch with only one puzzle, and Beschizza got all sweaty when looking at a tiny wireless router that plugs into any antenna. Otherwise, Asus threw a customer in jail for threatening to report their shitty tech support to the press, and we stole a tank as Barack Obama. And, as always, much more besides. Link

Child's mech walker costume

I love this child's mech walker costume built by one of his parents. Brownlee has more over at BB Gadgets. Beware the clomping of the candy-fueled Chicken Walker

Guinness Record for wheelchair backflip

Aaron Fotheringham, 16, earned a Guinness World Record last weekend as the first person to land a backflip in a wheelchair. (Click the image to see the full photo by Stephen R. Sylvanie/Special to the Home News.) From the Las Vegas Sun:
FlippppwheeeelTo achieve the trick, Fotheringham, rolled down a skatepark ramp to generate enough speed. He then went up another ramp and landed his flip on flat ground.

He first completed the trick in 2006, and has dozens of videos of his backflips, but had yet to make it official...

Aaron Fotheringham, who suffers from spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since he was 13, came up short in his quest to set a record for most consecutive backflips in 45 seconds. His unofficial record is six back flips in a row, however, he could not get consecutive flips Oct. 25.

"I'm a little bit disappointed I didn't get the consecutive flips, but I guess I'm taking it for granted that I got in the book," Fotheringham said.
Wheelchair athlete's back flip lands him in record book (Thanks, Carlo Longino!)

Virtual evil

What does it mean to be truly evil? Cognitive scientist Selmer Bringsjord is developing a virtual human that embodies their evolving definition of "evil." In development for several years, the character, named "E," is designed to interact with humans in a way that sounds similar to a chatbot, albeit a really demented chatbot. Bringsjord is even considering the ethics and "danger" of making an evil software program. (Brett Leonard, your meme is ready.) From Scientific American:
 Media Inline Defining-Evil 1 To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of "causing considerable harm to others," Bringsjord says. Finally, "and most importantly," he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing...

Following the path of a true logician, Bringsjord's interest in the portrayal of virtuousness and evil in literature led to his interest in software that helps writers develop ideas and create stories; this, in turn, spurred him to develop his own software for simulating human behavior, both good and odious, says Barry Smith, a distinguished professor of bioinformatics and ontology at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is familiar with Bringsjord's work. "He's known as someone on the fringe of philosophy and computer science."

Bringsjord and Smith both have an interest in finding ways to better understand human behavior, and their work has attracted the attention of the intelligence community, which is seeking ways to successfully analyze the information they gather on potential terrorists. "To solve problems in intelligence analysis, you need more accurate representations of people," Smith says. "Selmer is trying to build really good representations of human beings in all of their subtlety."
Are You Evil? Profiling That Which Is Truly Wicked

Visions of Terror horror spoof

Underground film director Rodney Ascher, whose work we've featured on BB and BBtv many times before, just completed a new horror spoof called Visions of Terror. A collaboration with Josh Fadem and also starring Zoe Jarman, Visions of Terror is a real laff-riot that takes the piss out of B-movie horror buffs, which Ascher is himself. Visions of Terror

Previously on BB:
Jack Chick, animated: "Somebody Goofed," by Syd and Rodney
Rodney Ascher's short film about a freefalling parachutist
Babylon 6 Jamaican vacation promo

Neuroprosthetic enables monkey to activate paralyzed muscles

Monkeys outfitted with neural implants have learned to control temporarily paralyzed muscles in their arms. So instead of controlling a robot arm with its mind, the monkey controls its own muscles that have become "disconnected" from its brain. The research, conducted by the University of Washington and the Washington National Primate Research Center, is a step forward in the development of technology that routes around a damaged spine, enabling a patient to once again manipulate paralyzed body parts. From IEEE Spectrum:
In exchange for a reward of applesauce, the monkeys had been conditioned to create just the right amount of torque in their wrists to move a cursor on a display so that it hit a target. To conduct the experiments, the researchers used anesthesia to block signals in a nerve just below the shoulder of a monkey’s arm, temporarily paralyzing the rest of the limb. The brain cells that control wrist movement were still firing in response to the monkey’s desire to hit the target and get the payoff, but with the neural connection shut down, the wrist remained limp. The scientists implanted electrodes into the monkey’s motor cortex and fed the electrical signals they received from the monkey’s brain into a computer. The computer then translated the signals into a stimulating current that was fed to electrodes implanted below the nerve block in the monkey’s wrist. The monkeys were able to learn to manipulate their own brains to get their wrists moving.
New Brain-Machine Interface Reactivates Monkey's Paralyzed Muscles

Escaped rhino drill at Japanese zoo

As one you YouTuber put it: "Any simple task in Japan requires the effort of tens of aging men dressed in fluorescent jackets and hard hats." (Via Arbroath)

BBtv: Hunting for the Kappa Monster in Tokyo, part 2

Today on Boing Boing tv we continue a series of transmissions from Tokyo by our monster-hunting comrade Sean Bonner, who vanished mysteriously while seeking a legendary shrine devoted to the Kappa, a water-dwelling, ninja-turtle-like, child-sized creature who is fond of cucumbers and human colon meat, which it may access by grabbing up your butt.

In yesterday's installment, Sean hooked up with Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda, authors of the previosly-boinged book Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and the quest began. But the team vanished mysteriously, and we haven't been able to reach Sean for a week.

Today, he reappears, with proof that he has touched the mummified hand of the cucumber-loving amphibious prankster. He also brings us irrefutable proof that some of Japan's greatest manga artists found a source of inspiration in Kappa art. Also on the streets of Tokyo, just outside the shrine, BBtv's yokai squad discovered MONSTER KITTEH.

Link to Boing Boing tv post with instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast. Here's the direct MP4 link in case you can't deal with Flash video. Here are some photos from Sean.

Previously: Hunting for the Kappa Monster in Tokyo, part 1

1940s Halloween photos from Anaheim, CA


The UCLA Digital Library has a few interesting photos of Halloween in the 1940s. The caption for this one reads: "Stage and crowd at Halloween Slick Chick beauty contest in Anaheim, Calif., 1947." I wonder if Daisy Mae was the winner?

Here's another photo of the Slick Chick contestants, and here's one of children in costumes (including one girl in blackface). (Via Save vs. Death)

Short Attention Span Science Theater

Tunacannnn Smoaoaoascienthe
Short Attention Span Science Theater is a new Stanford University site that features "microdocs," two to four minute videos explaining scientific topics in a simple and engaging way. Groups of microdocs are packaged into "notebooks" on particular topics. From Stanford News Service:
The first Short Attention Span Science notebook demystifies ecological sustainability–the basis for the green movement around the world, (Marine Science professor Steve Palumbi) said: "What is sustainability? What promotes it? What threatens it? What are the tipping points that push an ecosystem into ruin or keep it functioning forever? The ecological sustainability notebook shows the elements of sustainability and explains how they apply to one of the most important and beautiful ecosystems on earth–coral reefs."

Palumbi serves as narrator and on-camera host of many of the microdocs, which were shot at research sites in Fiji, Samoa, the Caribbean, Micronesia and other coral reefs. "Navigating around the site is like a fast trip to the coral reefs of the world, with you in control of the journey," he said. "We present the problems facing reefs, and how they can recover and grow. We show the kinds of reefs, the species that live on them and efforts by local people all over the world to preserve them."
Short Attention Span Science Theater (Thanks, Jason Tester!)

Jonathan Carroll's The Ghost in Love: magical and wonderful fantasy novel about ghosts and love and nostalgia

Jonathan Carroll's latest novel, The Ghost in Love is the latest of thirteen genuinely magical fantasy novels in which the author makes magic the way Fred Astaire danced: effortless, simple, wondrous.

In the Ghost in Love, Ben and his girlfriend German have just broken up a long-term relationship that seems to have been as wonderful as love can be (Carroll has a special gift for bringing happy family relations to life). Now they are on the outs, and sharing custody of Pilot, their shelter-dog, and every time they meet to swap the dog, their hearts break anew.

Ben should have died the day he got the dog, when he slipped on ice and broke his head. But he didn't. So the Angel of Death sent Ben's ghost, Ling, to earth, to investigate why the universe has stopped obeying its divine destiny. Ling is hopelessly in love with German, and the ghost is also a fantastic cook (as is Ben), so whenever German is due to come over, Ling spends the whole day cooking elaborate, invisible meals for her, while chatting morosely with the dog (all ghosts speak Dog).

That's all in the first few pages. Then it gets weird.

Carroll's standard formula for his novels is to introduce us to wonderful people living magical blessed lives, lives so achingly rendered that you want to crawl into the page and snuggle under the covers with them. Then he smashes their lives like sand-castles, and his wonderful people fall apart while magic unmakes them, rewriting the rules of their world to reveal hidden truths about love, family, self-regard, self-loathing, and other emotionally charged subjects.

In Ghost in Love, Carroll does this again, but even moreso, using a kind of dreamlike fluidity to constantly rewrite the rules of his world and its magic as evil and good tear apart the lives of Ben, German, Pilot and Ling and the people around them. The story grows ever-more existential, allegorical and weird as the pages fly past.

But it's all handled so gracefully that the dream-logic never falters. Carroll is the omnipotent god of his characters and situations, and he is totally in control of every variable, so that we trust him throughout, even though he never plays fair.

And the message, the conclusion in the end? Without spoiling things, I'll say this: The Ghost in Love contains genuinely profound and illuminating truths about the way that we love others and ourselves, and about the power of owning up to your bad deeds, and about the danger and wonder of nostalgia for our simpler pasts.

I've read and enjoyed all thirteen of Carroll's novels, and this one is going right on the shelf with the others, and will occupy the same oft-visited part of my mental landscape wherein dwell his other magical books.

The Ghost in Love on Amazon, The Ghost in Love, author's site with free first chapter

Wonkette: Jesus people pray that false idol will save God’s economy


(Photo by Wonkette operative “Dan the Man”.)

Wonkette posted this interesting photo of people worshipping the golden calf Wall Street bull in order to save the stock market. Here's what PZ Myers had to say about it:

Did you know that some Christian dingbat has dubbed today the “Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies?” Well here they are, at the Wall Street bull statue thing, praying to Jesus for money. The dingbat has explained, “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”
Exodus 32:
8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

Jesus people pray that false idol will save God’s economy

Spy vs. Spy and MAKE:

 Make16 Seen here is the magnificent cover of the new issue of MAKE:. The theme is, obviously, DIY spy tech. The cover and interior illustrations were created by none other than MAD Magazine art director Sam Viviano. Wow.
MAKE: Vol. 16, Spy Tech

Bob Harris' photo diary of a trip to the North Korea border

Rob Harris, who wrote the wonderfully entertaining books Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! and Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts, and Various Things Blowing Up A Woefully Incomplete Guide took a trip to the North Korean border area and send his photos and comments to friends. He was kind of enough to allow us to run them on Boing Boing.

En route from Seoul, there are numerous large war monuments, which is hardly surprising, since technically the war still hasn't ended. Fortunately, most of the major ones are collected in one big depressing park, great for your getting-dispirited-about-the-human-condition convenience.

Here's one commemorating the "Ten Human Bombs":


I probably don't need to explain how the Ten Human Bombs met their end.

I also hope you don't see any resemblance to the overwrought posing of 1980s power-rock bands. That would be disresectful. Humming anything by Night Ranger, Twisted Sister, or Whitesnake while looking at this picture would be just wrong.

When you get up close to the border, the first thing you hit is Imjingak, where the Freedom Bridge is located.


That old railroad bridge is where 13,000 POWs were released by N. Korea and allowed to walk south. Thus the name.

The walkway to the bridge is now closed off, for obvious reasons. But if you peek through the coin-operated tourist binoculars, you can actually make out patrols in huts on the far side of the bridge.


There's a goofy sculpture of an armed peacekeeper at the beginning of the walkway, so it seemed fun to get my picture with it. Little did I realize where I'd be posing shortly.

Read the rest

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets

Picture 1.jpg

Today at Boing Boing Gadgets, we learned that TiVo owners will get Netflix streaming, that Dell's making a new All-in-One desktop computer, and that people will go to any lengths in pursuit of gaming cake. Oh, and the eleventh commandment: Thou Shalt Not Use Caps Lock.

John found the Kangaroom gamer sofa saddlebag, a finger-mounted bolt tightener, and an awe-inspiring Russian speaker made from an old fire extinguisher. Mimes pretending to be Human vending machines did not please him, but the amazing Bickford, a razorblade robot, certainly did.

Rob spotted a shocking handheld game, a 3G Compaq netbook for Europe, and a nice bottle of USB Port. He donned a chainmail shirt from ThinkGeek, sat in a Hobart I-Cool supervillain chair, and throttled himself with a Papal USB Drive.

There was a handheld computer from Aigo; a gorgeous tech demo for a forthcoming Wii game; Lego halloween minifigs; and a crazy accordian refrigerator.

We read Lisa Katayama's explanation of why Japanese cell phones are no fun, listened to fantastic remixes of BBC theme tunes, and discovered Asus is making an Android phone.

Do you want to know what a rectal retractor is? Probably not.

Boing Boing Gadgets

Magpie Time, a new craft show for kids

My friend Pat Roberts has created a new kid's craft show which features Pat's ingenious creations made from everyday stuff. Here's a teaser video with instructions for making a cute owl. Magpie Time

Onion headline from 1993: Roy The Forklift Driver addresses nation


The May 29, 1993 edition of The Onion has a preposterous fake story about a character named Roy the Forklift driver becoming a media darling of the conservative movement.

"Nation Eagerly awaits Ohio Man's Profound Insights into Current Events."

As if!

Roy the Forklift Driver

Ivory anatomical manikin

Joanna at the wonderful Morbid Anatomy blog posted this exquisite ivory anatomical manikin, circa 1500-1700. It's part of the National Library of Medicine's fantastic Dream Anatomy online exhibition. From the manikin description:
 Exhibition Dreamanatomy Images 1200-Dpi Y2 These manikins, between 6 to 7 inches in length, were made from solid pieces of ivory. The arms were carved separately and are moveable. The thoracic and abdominal walls can be removed, revealing the viscera. In some manikins the internal organs are carved in the original block and are not removable, while they are formed into separate pieces that can be removed.
Ivory anatomical manikin

Previously on BB:
• Antique ivory skull statuettes

Video of happy man vigorously swinging baby around room

Hard to believe this is real, but it sure seems like it. Sporty Babysitter of the Year

Binder clipper makes for nice iPhone stand

Iphonecradle Iphonestand2

Jeff Staple posted photos of his co-worker's simple but effective iPhone stand -- a binder clipper. Crafty iPhone Stand

BBtv: Hunting for the Kappa Monster in Tokyo, part 1

Oh, man, this is weird. How do we explain this? Okay. So, the Boing Boing tv team planned a series of episodes about Japanese monsters for Halloween, and for this purpose, we sent Sean Bonner to Tokyo, armed with a video camera. The plan was: meet up with Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda, authors of the previosly-boinged book Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and hunt down the truth about mythical monstrous creatures from Japanese folklore.

We'd planned to start our Japanese monster series with a hunt for the Kappa, a water-dwelling, ninja-turtle-like, child-sized creature who is fond of cucumbers and human colon meat (I'm not making this up). Legend says the Kappa will reach into your butt to eat your colon, which is grosstastically awesome.

Anyway -- Sean made it to Tokyo, and shot evidence of the Kappa on Japan's urban streets (signs, blow-up Kappa dolls, stickers). But then, suddenly, the raw footage he was FTPing to us nightly just STOPPED. Bam. Just like that. And with it, all evidence we had of Sean's whereabouts and well-being.

Today's BBtv episode is part one of what we hope will be a two-part series on Kappa Hunting in Tokyo. IF HE SURVIVED. Sean, if you can read this, I sure hope you were armed with cucumbers. The alternative is too horrible to imagine.

Link to Boing Boing tv post with instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast. Here's the direct MP4 link in case you can't deal with Flash video. Whatever you do, don't miss Sean dancing the Kappa Dance at 05:41.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Japanese monsters, and how to survive their wrath: YOKAI ATTACK

Portraits made from type


Veja magazine ran a series of advertisements featuring portraits of people composed of typographical characters. George Bush ads Flickr set (via Print)

Display of bad things swallowed

The artful syringe photo from the United States Narcotic Farm that Mark posted earlier reminded Joel of this display at the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. The museum holds memorabilia from the St. Joseph State Hospital, previously known as the State Lunatic Asylum #2. From Roadside America:
 Attract Images Mo MostjswallowedThere is an imaginative arrangement of 1,446 items swallowed by a patient and removed from her intestines and stomach. She died during surgery from bleeding caused by 453 nails, 42 screws, safety pins, spoon tops, and salt and pepper shaker tops.
Glore Psychiatric Museum

Cell phone thief takes phonecam shot of himself

This Cincinnati, Ohio gentleman snatched a cell phone from a lost, deaf woman who had gotten out of her car to look for a street sign. Later, Gary Walker, 24, took a phonecam shot of himself. A few weeks after the robbery, the victim, Ashlee Hutchens, downloaded her data from the phone network into a new handset and Walker's photo popped up. Police then sent it out to the media and subsequently arrested Walker. From Cincinnati Enquirer:
Thiefbildeeee “All of a sudden his picture came up and (Ashlee) said, ‘Oh my god, Mom, that’s him and that’s the shirt he had on,’” Christine Hutchens said.

“I get very upset when the elderly, kids or handicapped people become victims of these offenses,” said Officer Tamar Skelly, who is with Crime Stoppers.
Cell phone suspect in cell (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

Previously on BB:
Guy who auto-uploaded pix of self turns in hot Mac
Photo taken on stolen Nokia uploaded to Flickr

Creepy fake wrist cutter commercial

Creepy fake commercial for wrist cutting knives from the movie Tokyo Gore Police. (Via Japan Probe)