Why Homebrew is Better

Every professional performer always does the same thing at exactly the same moment in every show they do. What I like are things that are different every time. That's why I like amateurs.

-- Andy Warhol

What Andy Warhol said about professionals vs. amateurs is true not just in theatre, but in lots of DIY pursuits such as brewing your own beer. Homebrew is better because each time it's different.

The beer that you buy is made by pros with the goal of replicating the same recipe each time; the same ingredients, the same process, the same consistent result. If you make your own beer, you can forget the same-old, same-old. In fact, it's rather hard to brew the same exact thing each time following home-made processes. As an amateur, you get to enjoy these small but noticeable differences. Homebrew has its own design goals, mainly exploring lots of variations that allow you to see how different beers can be. For instance, we've used fresh hops that I've grown when they're in season; we can dry the hops for use later in the year. We'll also buy hops from the brewing supply store.

I've got a setup for all-grain brewing at home and it takes about six hours to get a batch ready for fermentation. In the photo below, you can see the underlying IPA recipe and my notes outlining the steps. The notes help me structure the process and remember to do everything I need to do. I also use the notes to record times and other measurements. Read the rest

The Gonad Gourmet

With the Thanksgiving turkey behind us, here's something else you don't eat regularly: meaty balls. Check out The Testicle Cookbook: Cooking with Balls by Serbian chef, Ljubomir Erovic. This multimedia cookbook tells you how to peel and slice animal testicles to make such wonders as Testicle Pizza - just add your own toppings!

Wouldn't you know *it* tastes like chicken. But *it* works like Viagra!

Ever since I was a little boy I listened to the elderly talking about testicles, when well prepared and cooked, can stimulate sexual activities. It seemed funny and stupid to me then, until as a grown up man I tasted delicious goulash at a party sometime at the end of the ‘80s. I was told that it was a rabbit goulash. I couldn’t sleep that very night because I became incredibly aroused and felt a real ``charge of positive energy`` that I had to use somehow. I had never experienced anything like that before.

The next day, after the wild night, I found out from a friend that the dish we ate was testicle goulash. I suddenly realized that it could be a great way to help the sexually troubled ones and through the cooking contests discover the strongest aphrodisiac to conquer the world. The way to better sexual life through food and not drugs is the idea that keeps running through my mind.

If I had to choose one recipe from my book and recommend it to someone who's eating testicle meat for the first time it would have to be Erovic Style Goulash with Stallion or Bulls Testicles.

Read the rest

Boing Boing's Holiday Gift Guide part four: Comics, graphic novels and funnybooks

Here's part four of our week-long "Best of Boing Boing" holiday gift guide: basically, it's a list of the bestselling items from among the stuff we reviewed this year, reflecting your favorite items from among our picks. Today's list is comics, graphic novels, funnybooks and the like.

Don't miss the previous installments: kids' stuff, fiction and gadgets!

Tomorrow's nonfiction day, and Monday'll finish up the series with DVDs and CDs.

Laika (Nick Abadzis) Graphic novel tells the sweet and sad story of the first space-dog Original Boing Boing post

The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories (Nicholas Gurewitch) Hilarious, surreal webcomic Original Boing Boing post

Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznik) Award-winning steampunk graphic novel for kids Original Boing Boing post

Good as Lily (Derek Kirk Kim) Ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers Original Boing Boing post

The Plain Janes (Cecil Castellucci, Jim Rugg) Funny, spirited little story about a gang of girls named Jane at a strait-laced high-school, rejected by the mainstream, and their art adventures. Original Boing Boing post

100 Days Of Monsters (Stefan G. Bucher) Book showcases blob-to-monster art Original Boing Boing post

Army @ Love Vol. 1: The Hot Zone Club (Rick Veitch) Romance/war comic deals out the offensive yuks Original Boing Boing post

Three Shadows (Cyril Pedrosa) Haunting and dreamlike graphic novel of love, bravery and sacrifice Original Boing Boing post

St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business (Ronald Searle) Ronald Searle's original dark, weird and hilarious St Trinian's comics Original Boing Boing post

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need (Daniel H. Read the rest

Mile-long secret tunnel in central London for sale

A stuffy, noisy mile-long secret Cold War tunnel is up for sale in London, asking price $7.4 million -- it's only five minutes' walk from my office, too, connecting up Chancery Lane with the Thames. It's only got two lifts, which means you couldn't possibly get fire-code approval to run it as a hotel or club, but there's all kinds of intriguing possibilities (e.g. ball pit) for this much subterranean volume.
But it was not long before the documents had to be moved again to make room for a secure international telephone center that the government deemed necessary as relations between Washington and Moscow grew tense. During the cold war, the British government instructed its telephone department, which later became BT, to set up a secret communications system based on the latest technology that would be able to survive a nuclear attack.

It was the beginning of the busiest period for the tunnels, with almost 200 workers spending their days and nights underground to route up to two million calls a week across the 6,600 phone lines. In 1963, the hot line established between Moscow and Washington after the Cuban missile crisis ran through the London tunnels.

The buzzing complex soon became known as “underground town,” with its own recreation room complete with dartboards and billiard tables, a movie theater and two dining halls. Workers often spent the night in sleeping rooms.

Mile of London Tunnels for Sale, History Included (Thanks, Organ Leroy!) Read the rest

Paper bottles

BrandImage (whose site in an unnavigable, unlinkable Flash blob) have come up with an all-paper bottle. This looks like a concept, not a product, but it's an intriguing one nevertheless.
The 360 Paper Bottle is a sustainable vision of the future. It is the first totally recyclable paper container made from 100% renewable resources. Versatile in its range of consumer applications and made from food-safe and fully recyclable materials, it decreases energy consumed throughout the product life cycle without sacrificing functionality. It is paper packaging that stands up to all liquid categories.
360 Paper Bottle (Thanks, Rian!)

See also: Paper bottles for mineral water gluggers Read the rest

Boob Job piggybank sold as girl's room decor

How to be a terrible parent: buy your daughter one of these "boob job" piggybanks, sold on a site specializing in girls' room decor. Stuff like this makes me want to smack someone.


Large Candy Cane Used To Beat Threatening Neighbor

In what may be the only appropriate use for a Christmas lawn decoration, a Sacramento man grabbed a large candy-cane on his lawn and used it to beat a drunken knife-wielding neighbor who was threatening his Thanksgiving guests. He and his red-and-white weapon were able to hold the man until police arrived. Good thing he put those decorations out early. While it sounds like it came from the Onion, the story is in today's Sacramento Bee.

The attacker's name is Donald Kercell, a 49-year old. I searched for his name and found this SacBee story from 2007, and archived in a library service.

Kercell is a 48-year-old resident of Rio Linda. In his youth, he discovered two things. One was that he had a talent for working with concrete. The other was methamphetamine.

The former, coupled with an impressive work ethic, kept Kercell gainfully employed much of the time. The latter put him in prison.

Read the rest

Douglas Repetto's Squirrel Cages

Earlier in the fall, I had the opportunity to visit Douglas Repetto in his office at Columbia University in New York. The founder of Dorkbot and organizer of ArtBots, Doug is an artist and maker and he writes the "Art Work" column for Make magazine. When I visited Doug, he was working on a piece about Squirrel Cages. These cages are quite beautiful constructions, made out of wood with the assistance of a laser cutter.

At the time, I wasn't familiar with the term "squirrel caging", which means to turn things over in your mind without end. One writer describes squirrel caging as the "act of rumination on negative thoughts." Whether they are good or bad thoughts, we all have had the experience of not being able to stop thinking about SOMETHING.

Click on the above photo picture to go to a short movie of the squirrel cages in action.

The completed work, "Distributed Squirrel Cage for Parallel Processing" was later exhibited at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vermont. Doug explains:

Humans are invited to write obsessive thoughts on scraps of paper, deposit them in squirrel cages, and turn the crank, thus offloading the actual work of obsessing to the mechanism. This cutting-edge apparatus applies the latest techniques in distributed, massively parallel processing to the age-old problem of broken human minds.

Maybe Doug could set up a Squirrel Cage installation somewhere down on Wall Street. Read the rest

Canada's Internet is crap

Jesse Brown from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Search Engine has written a stirring editorial about the ways in which Canada's internet infrastructure is being turned into second-rate cable TV by greedy telcos and incompetent regulators.

Every time I think about moving back to Canada some day, I remind myself of how miserable the national Internet infrastructure is -- and how awful the big telcos are, and how weak-kneed and ass-licking the telcoms regulator is -- and I realize I can't possibly move home. The Internet's where I live, it's how I earn my income. Living on Canada's Internet would be better than living on China's Internet, say, but that's a pretty low bar to hurdle.

1. Last week the CRTC sided with Bell against a group of small Internet Service Providers who want to offer their customers unthrottled connections where what they download is their own business and not subject to interference.

2. In last week’s throne speech the Conservative government renewed their intention to “modernize” Canadian copyright law. Their effort to do so last session was Bill C-61, a woefully unbalanced and retrograde piece of legislation that led to the greatest citizen backlash to any proposed bill in recent memory. Yet there has been no indication from new Industry Minister Tony Clement that a much-needed public consultation will take place. The best he has offered is the possibility of a “slightly different” version of the bill.

3. Twitter has just announced that they are killing outbound SMS messaging in Canada due to exorbitant and constant rate hikes from Canadian cell providers (former Industry Minister Jim Prentice vowed to get tough on SMS price gouging, then backpeddled).

Read the rest

Family of disabled boy whose pony is to be taken away starts a fundraising drive

The mother of the disabled child who may lose his miniature pony -- his only means of moving independently -- because his neighbours (who live next to a cow farm) complained about the smell -- has established a PayPal account to fund the legal work of keeping the pony. That address: antoniaspiteri82@hotmail.com .
She has had numerous Caledon businesses ask if they can post a petition for her, has received a number of offers from local stables who would like to house Emily the pony for her, and is constantly fielding calls and letters from people who would like to meet and lend support to Sam and Emily.

"One thing we are considering is planning some sort of meet and greet," said Spiteri. "We have had so many people ask to meet with us, that we want to plan a day where people can visit our property and meet Sam and Emily themselves, see where we house her, and the situation we're in."

According to Spiteri, the Town informed her that the next available committee date will be November 12. Until then, she will work on finishing all of her paperwork, and raising the funds needed for the application. Spiteri said she needs to pay a fee of $800 for the application.

Mother begins work to keep her son's pony (Thanks, Jeremy!) Read the rest

Wal-Mart Worker Crushed to Death on Black Friday; Union Responds

A worker at a New York Wal-Mart location was crushed to death this morning, "Black Friday," when hordes of shoppers overwhelmed to get inside for bargain-hunting. Snip from AP account:
At least four other people were injured, and the store in Valley Stream on Long Island was closed. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," co-worker Jimmy Overby, 43, told the Daily News. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too. ... I literally had to fight people off my back."

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, which represented the deceased worker, has called for a investigation by OSHA and the NY State labor department.
Director of Special Projects for Local 1500 Patrick Purcell called Wal-mart's comments in response to the incident both "cold and heartless." "If the safety of their customers and workers was a top priority, then this never would have happened," Purcell stated. "Wal-mart must step up to the plate and ensure that all those injured, as well as the family of the deceased, be financially compensated for their injuries and their losses. Their words are weak. The community demands action," Purcell concluded.

Purcell also suggested that people visit the website walmartcrimereport.com to review other incidents of Wal-mart not providing a safe work and shopping experience.

Read the rest

Obama's Voices

I've been listening to the audiobook, Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, which has the additional benefit of being read by the author. Obama's baritone has become a familiar voice in my head. What might surprise some people, beyond Obama's ability as a writer and storyteller, is that each of his characters becomes a distinct voice that he brings alive, not just in his writing but even more so in this audiobook. They come alive for us because they are so alive to him.

Each person's unique voice -- from the lyrical African-English of his father or half-sister Auma, from his independent-minded and concerned mother to the voice of the South-side of Chicago's preachers, political organizers and young black men on the street, to his Kansas-bred grandparents and his Indonesian stepfather -- these are people that Obama carries with him. These aren't stock characters like Joe-the-plumber or Joe-Six-Pack. They aren't the subjects of morality tales like the historical characters in Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage." They are complex characters with hardships and conflicts, plagued by self-doubt and inspired by high ideals. They cuss and they cry.

I am so grateful that our democracy has elected a leader who can write like this, think and feel so deeply, with great subtlety and sympathy, and who will bring with him to the White House such a new assortment of interesting people -- not in his Cabinet but in his head. Read the rest

Wii Theremin

Over at Boing Boing Offworld, Brandon links to videos of Ken Moore's delightfully DIY Wii Theremin. "The Face of the Wii Theremin" Read the rest

Rock musicians of the 70s at home with parents

Apartment Therapy found a fantastic LIFE magazine photo series from the 1970s of rock stars at home with their folks. Above is Frank Zappa. Also included are the likes of David Crosby, Grace Slick, Donovan, Jackson 5, Elton John, and Eric Clapton. "Look! 70's Rock Musicians and Their Parent's Homes" (Thanks, Richard Metzger!) Read the rest

Modern "sightseeing agriculture" in China

My Institute for the Future colleagues Lyn Jeffery and Jason Li's outstanding Virtual China blog has been reborn as 88 Bar. That's where I spotted this image of what appears to be a photographer taking a shot of a massive pumpkin (but is just an optical illusion), in an ultra high-tech green house in Tianjin, north China. According to a translated article in SINA, the demo greenhouse is "a model of modern sightseeing agriculture." Read the rest

William Burroughs shoots Amy Winehouse (as art)

Artist Marco Perego sculpted a lifesize scene of Amy Winehouse shot dead in the head. William Burroughs is holding the shotgun. The installation, titled "The Only Good Rock Star Is A Dead Rock Star," is on view at Half Gallery in New York City until January 23, 2009. "Shocking tribute to Amy Winehouse" (3news.co.nz, thanks Tara McGinley!) Read the rest

Pioneering hillbilly/soul label King Records celebrated

My birthplace of Cincinnati, Ohio has a rich musical history centered around King Records, a tremendously influential record label founded in 1943 by Syd Nathan. King Records began as a hillbilly music label and eventually took a soulful turn into "race records." James Brown's career was launched at King. Other artists on the roster included Ralph Stanley, Hank Ballard, The Platters, the Dominoes, Memphis Slim, John Lee Hooker, and The Stanley Brothers. Almost forty years after King shut, the city is finally recognizing the label with, well, a plaque at the abandoned warehouse where the record plant once operated. Eventually though, a local group hopes to build a King Records Center complete with a working recording studio. My old friend John Curley, former Afghan Whigs bassist and music producer, has signed on to run the studio. Let's hope they can raise the dough to make it happen! The city's alt.weekly, CityBeat, has a feature on the label and the efforts to celebrate its importance. From Cincinnati CityBeat:
What we'd want to do with the recording studio is provide opportunities for internships and workshops and do more community outreach to get kids interested in learning about recording, performance and all aspects of the music business," Curley says... Nathan died in 1968 and the label was sold, moving out of town as many studio musicians faded into clubs and other cities. A couple generations thus grew up with little local awareness of the studio. Actually, the mainstream (white) media didn't do much at the time to tout the studio's work.
Read the rest

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