Boing Boing 

Group moves homeless people into foreclosed homes

Following up on our post yesterday about skaters transforming swimming pools at foreclosed homes into impromptu skate bowls, Boing Boing reader Dan Rosen points us to a related story. The short version: "underground housing activists" in one neighborhood are moving homeless folks into the homes of folks who've lost their homes. Man, that's complicated and sad all around. Snip:
“We're matching homeless people with peopleless homes,” he said with a grin. [Max] Rameau and a group of like-minded advocates formed Take Back the Land, which also helps the new “tenants” with secondhand furniture, cleaning supplies and yard upkeep. So far, he has moved six families into foreclosed homes and has nine on a waiting list.

“I think everyone deserves a home,” said Rameau, who said he takes no money from his work with the homeless. “Homeless people across the country are squatting in empty homes. The question is: Is this going to be done out of desperation or with direction?”

Rameau, who makes his living as a computer consultant, said he is doing the owners a favor, saving the properties from drug dealers, vandals and thieves. He said he is not scared of getting arrested.

“There's a real need here, and there's a disconnect between the need and the law,” he said. “Being arrested is just one of the potential factors in doing this.”

Group moves people into foreclosed houses (Charlotte Observer). Image: AP. "Marie Nadine Pierre holds her baby, Nennon, and looks out the window of the 'peopleless' house where she lives in Miami." J PAT CARTER.

MAKE: television debuts on public television this weekend

I'm really excited that MAKE: television is premiering on public television this weekend. It's based on MAKE magazine, and is produced by Twin Cities Public Television. I've seen the first four episodes, and they really capture what MAKE magazine is about.

Make: is the DIY series for a new generation! It celebrates "Makers" -- the inventors, artists, geeks and just plain everyday folks who mix new and old technology to create new-fangled marvels. The series encourages everyone to invent, revent, recycle, upcycle, and act up. Based on the popular MAKE magazine, each half-hour episode inspires millions to think, create, and, well, make.

Make: premieres nationwide on Public Television stations and online at in January 2009. It's produced by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) in St. Paul, Minn. Full episodes will be available at as well as PDFs of all the DIY projects on the show. (Makers can submit their own videos for the Maker Channel segment of the show at

Broadcast feed starts January 3, 2009, at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Television premiere is January 3 on some stations, but air dates differ (see list below). See your local public television station for air dates and times.

Web premiere is January 3 at 7 a.m. Eastern time at

Season 1 consists of 10 half-hour episodes; all will be available at and also on iTunes. MAKE author John Park hosts the Maker Workshop (DIY) segment, and MAKE author Bill Gurstelle is the technical consultant for the show. Preview video is available at

Major funding is provided by Geek Squad.

MAKE: televsion

The Future of NASA

(Update: I accidentally posted this with comments turned off, slip o'the'blogger, not intentional. I've republished with comments turned on. Blame it on the leftover 'nog!)

The latest -- and final -- chunk of that epic New York Times space series by John Schwartz is out today. It's the last big feature the paper's longtime space/science reporter will write about NASA before he becomes the Times' national legal correspondent. Congrats, John, but I suspect the rocket booster set is weeping tears of Tang at the news of your departure. Anyway, snip:

NASA has named the rocket Ares I, as in the god of war – and its life has been a battle from the start.

Ares I is part of a new system of spacecraft being designed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to replace the nation’s aging space shuttles. The Ares I and its Orion capsule, along with a companion heavy-lift rocket known as the Ares V, are meant for travel to the Moon and beyond.

Technical troubles have dogged the design process for the Ares I, the first of the rockets scheduled to be built, with attendant delays and growing costs. And in an age of always-on communication, instant messages and blogs, internal debate that once might have been part of a cloistered process has spilled into public view.

Some critics say there are profound problems with the design that render the Ares I dead on arrival, while other observers argue that technical complications crop up in any spacecraft development program of this scope. The issues have become a focus of the members of the presidential transition team dealing with NASA, and the space program could undergo a transformation after Barack Obama takes office.

The Fight Over NASA’s Future (NYT), and here's a related Times slideshow from which the image above was ganked. Description:
In this artist's concept illustration, the first and second stages of the Ares V heavy-lift vehicle separate after launching. The image evokes earlier photographs and film from the days of the Apollo program. Photo: John Frassanito and Associates/NASA
Another must-read piece from Schwartz, which explores the case of SpaceX founder and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk: With U.S. Help, Private Space Companies Press Their Case: Why Not Us?

A Michael Franti Christmas


Music, film, kids' books, and yoga. It must be a Michael Franti Christmas. At least that's how it felt around our house this year, and it was all my fault. I bought the limited edition boxed set release of Franti's latest CD, All Rebel Rockers, for our 13-year-old (and myself), his beautifully illustrated children's book, What I Be, for our 6-year-old, and his Yoga DVD for Shawn.

I admit right off the bat that I'm a huge Michael Franti and Spearhead fan, and I'm sure many readers of Boing Boing are at least familiar with some of their music. But I couldn't pass up this opportunity to turn on some others to this inspiring man and offer up a few links. Franti's music is hard to categorize, but if you like reggae, hip-hop, and funky beats with intelligent and positive lyrics, I highly recommend checking him out. For me, grooving to the Sly and Robbie-powered dub versions from All Rebel Rockers was a highlight of my holiday.


As I read about the latest news of more violence in Gaza, I also can’t recommend enough Franti’s 2005 documentary film about the Iraq war and the Middle East, I Know I’m Not Alone. I had the fortunate opportunity to take my son to a screening of I Know I’m Not Alone that Franti presented at a local high school, and we both found it to be a deeply moving film and experience. I was a little concerned about taking my young son to a documentary about war, but Franti has an amazing ability to take on the most serious, heavy, and depressing topics and still offer an uplifting message. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to put a positive spin on what’s been happening in Iraq and with the Palestinian conflict (he deals with both in the film, traveling to Baghdad, Israel, and Palestine), but Franti somehow sees the good in all of us and uses his music as a powerful force for peace.

I really do believe that the world can be changed by music, and Michael Franti is out there doing it. Shawn just chimed in, saying that she thinks his acoustic version of “Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong” should be played at Obama’s inauguration next month. At the very least, we’ll be playing it in our household to drown out Rick Warren’s invocation and keep us thinking positively about the future. Along those lines, Franti’s just added his own Obama-themed song to the mix of musicians paying homage to hope. It’s available for a free download. Power to the Peaceful!


(Shawn Connally and Bruce Stewart are guest bloggers)

Will Sleep for Food

Posted to Peter Nidzgorski's frequently beautiful "This isn't happiness" tumblog today, with the caption "This is our cat Bob. He died today. He was 20 years old." A colleague of mine lost a cat on Christmas Eve who had been a loving four-pawed companion for about that long. Losing a pal like that is a sad thing. (Thanks, Susannah Breslin)

Prank signs: "Public Urination Permitted After 7:30PM"

200812291520 Nottingham pranksters have been putting up official-looking signs that say: "Public Urination Permitted After 7:30PM."

Gaza Attacks: Two Related Reactions, in Second Life and Twitter

Joshua Fouts, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, says,

Two very interesting things happened today that you might be interested in -- both unfolded/ing rapidly. While the two are not directly linked, they are illustrative of an evolving use of the social networking world in interesting and dynamic ways.

1. Since Saturday people in Second Life have been protesting the attacks in the Gaza strip. About 30 people per day, mostly based in Egypt but using Second Life as their voice. We took some photos: Dozens Gather in Second Life to Protest Gaza Attacks.

2. Now here's what I think is really interesting. Just today the Israeli Consulate in NY launched two Twitter accounts and tomorrow (December 30) they'll be hosting a Twitter press conference to respond to questions people might have about Gaza. Summary here: Israeli Consulate to host Twitter Press Conference on Gaza.

The thing that's interesting to me is that this is such a fantastic risk and so ungovernmentlike that it's fun to watch. We'll be participating for sure.

Related BB post: Global Voices' coverage of Gaza Strip Bombings (and how to keep the coverage alive)

Best Present We Saw this Year

Hi Boingers!

We’re excited to be doing this and are honored to be included with such esteemed bloggers, both the regulars and the guests! We’ll be posting on a diversity of topics, with less sex and hip culture, and more kids’ books, dub music, skulls, jellyfish, and working toward sustainable living (or at least raising chickens and growing lettuce). Bruce is a political blog junkie and techno-gadget geek, while Shawn leans toward crafty blogs and irreverent humor, so be prepared for something like The Huffington Post meets Postcards From Yo Momma and Cool Tools paired with Design Sponge.

To start things off, we’d like to share the best Christmas present we’ve seen this year. Our friends Dave and Jen Sims got stuck in Thailand for an extra week after Thanksgiving due to the protests that closed the Bangkok airport. They finally made it home and just got these T-shirts as a gift:

The background image is a real photo of the protesters who took over the airport in Bangkok. You can read more about their experience here and here. Did you get any special gifts or see any that struck your fancy? Tell us about them in the Comments.

(Shawn Connally and Bruce Stewart are guest bloggers)

Dog eats bean burrito in 1 second

This is how my kids eat. (Via Bits & Pieces)

Fractalius: Photoshop plug-in


Fractalius is a trippy image filter for Photoshop. Windows only. The Fabulous Fractalius Pool on Flickr has many more examples.

(via Forgetomori)

BBtv Favorites from 2008: TechShop, a Community Tinkering Space

(Flash embed above, downloadable MP4 link here.)

Continuing in our retrospective of favorite Boing Boing tv episodes, we revisit the fun we had checking out TechShop, an open-access public workshop that's kind of like a health club with heavy machinery and sparks instead of treadmills. Tinkerers, inventors, and hackers pay a membership fee, and in turn receive access to professionally-maintained gear, workshops, mentors, and a community of like-minded makers.

Currently there is only one site in Silicon Valley, and it opened in 2006. But founder Jim Newton (a lifetime maker, veteran BattleBots builder and former MythBuster) plans to open a number of locations around the US -- and eventually, the rest of the world.

John Todd, who you'll meet in this episode, wrote this article about the membership-based machine and fabrication shop in a recent edition of Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools zine. Snip:

I've been a member since before TechShop really even started, back when it was just some guys passing out flyers trying to gauge interest. For $100 a month, members can use any tool in the shop on which they've received training. MUCH cheaper than buying your own gear. The list of equipment is pretty extensive, too, and new items are arriving frequently (like a new hot-wire foam cutter).
John shares an additional note with BBtv about the company's business model:
TechShop is unusual in the way it's funded - community members are the financial backers. To date, TechShop has been funded by taking loans from members and repaying them at a nominal rate. Typically backers contribute $25k and up, and are then paid back over several years. There is an "A" round being raised now to fund the nationwide expansion, and the first funding source again is going to be the community instead of focusing on traditional VC sources. It's an unusual way to keep members excited about what they do at TechShop, and to keep them focused on making the whole experience better. Jim Newton (CEO) and Mark Hatch (COO) are looking for additional interested people who want to become members and funders - contact TechShop for details.
Do watch the second half of this episode. We take a joyride in a three-wheeled electric car, while wearing ridiculously inappropriate shoes. That's the little vehicle, above, with me (helpless passenger) and the guy who invented it (driver, going way too fast for comfort). It was a total blast, and all lulz aside, this guy's invention is pretty badass.

The New Yorker reviews the new edition of The Joy of Sex


Chelsie Gosk says: I thought you might be interested in Ariel Levy’s review of the new edition of The Joy of Sex as well as the piece’s accompanying slide show (illustrations from the 1972 edition, the new edition, and Our Bodies, Ourselves) and podcast."

[Joy of Sex author Alex] Comfort had a tendency to focus single-mindedly on a given notion or project at the expense of any kind of balance: while he was a student at Highgate School, in London, he became convinced that he could concoct a superior version of gunpowder. He blew off much of his left hand. By the time he was finished with his experiments, his thumb was the only remaining digit. Later in his life, when he was practicing medicine, he said that he found this claw he’d created “very useful for performing uterine inversions.” After he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, his enthusiasms led him to accumulate six degrees, including a doctorate in biochemistry.

The review appears in the January 5, 2009 edition of The New Yorker.

Wind Waker unplugged

Multi-instrumentalist Fredrik Larsson, 23, plays an incredible acoustic cover of Legend of Zelda's Wind Waker theme. Check the video at Boing Boing Offworld. Wind Waker Unplugged

1970 video about collecting comic books

Joey Anuff let me know about this entertaining short video from 1970 about "Captain George" Henderson, proprietor of Canada's first comic book store in Toronto. (I was expecting to see a 10-year-old Cory browsing the racks, but no such luck.)
Captain-George George Henderson lived, ate and breathed comics - years before it would be popular to do so. A lifelong fan of superhero comics, old adventure strips and science fiction, in the 1960s he parlayed a dead-end writing career into a successful life as a bookseller and retailer. Established in downtown Toronto in 1967, Memory Lane Books became a mecca for generations of comic fans and is considered Canada's first comic book store. In this clip from 1970, Captain George discusses his then young store and the emergent hobby of comic collecting.
Adds Joey, "Captain George also did a radio interview with the CBC two years later."

Another awesome CBC video about comic book collecting, this one from 1979. I love the shirtless Frazetta enthusiast!

Guest Bloggers: Shawn Connally and Bruce Stewart!


We're happy to introduce our new guest bloggers to Boing Boing: Shawn Connally and Bruce Stewart! They've been described as a "geek couple tag team" by our friend Gareth Branwyn. Shawn is the managing editor for both MAKE and CRAFT magazines, while Bruce blogs occasionally for GeekDad, is the editor of the Coverleaf blog and the Bright Hub Mac Channel, and does editing and consulting work for several internet companies. They work in unison on raising two boys, two cats and four chickens under some redwood trees in Northern California.

The two met in the college dorms and quickly bonded over marijuana and mathematical analysis. In 1993, Bruce introduced the internet to Shawn over beers in a bowling alley in Marin County. A year later she was working on O’Reilly’s Global Network Navigator, the first commercial website and web portal. Shawn has worked on several other O’Reilly projects, including a weekly online magazine called Web Review and the websites and She’s written for several magazines and newspapers, including the SF Bay Guardian, the Industry Standard, the Marin Independent Journal, and a Vanity Fair equivalent in Singapore. She’s written about everything from yacht racing to T-shirt quilts and communication satellite linking and load balancing. She's also covered three Olympics on the web. From 1991 to 1993, two very fun years, she wrote theater and concert reviews in the Bay Area.

In 1995, Bruce left his job as Director of Telecommunications at the University of San Francisco to write online. His first article was about the hidden Netscape Easter eggs his then 1-year-old son found when slamming on the keyboard. Later, Bruce also found gainful employment at O’Reilly Media, where he served as the editorial director for the O’Reilly Network.

The couple lived in New Zealand during part of 1999 and 2000 and wrote a series of articles for Ziff Davis about living in the first country to hit the new millennium. (There was a very major party.) They’ve been collaborating on articles since the mid-1990s and hope to still be co-authoring stories in the mid-2050s.

Welcome, Shawn and Bruce!

Timothy Leary videos at


Lisa Rein twittered about's new Timothy Leary video archive. It currently has over 80 videos.

The above screenshot is from a documentary called Growing Up In America: Breathing Together, Revolution of the Electric Family, from 1986, which has interviews with Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Fred Hampton, Deborah Johnson, John Sinclair, and Timothy Leary.

Timothy Leary Archive: Videos

T-shirt: Obama rides a unicorn

 Obama Obamashirt Fun t-shirt by Washington DC artist Chris Bishop. They're $19 including shipping and handling.
Barack Obama Riding A Unicorn (Thanks, Lindsay Tiemeyer!)

Susie Bright: Au Revoir, Mes Amies!

200812290952 Boy, this has been a blast.

Thanks so much for entertaining my stories and opinions over the past couple of weeks. It's such a thrill to get this much instant feedback that I'm having a hard time taking the needle out of my arm.

I've made so many new friends. Thanks especially to Mark Frauenfelder, for grace and endurance as my line editor. And all my love to my partner, Jon Bailiff, for enhancing and abetting my single-minded determination to post, post, post without concern for any other daily affairs!

What's new for me this year? In addition to The Erotic Treasury, I just released my first Kindle ebooks. If you're curious how to enjoy ebooks, or make one, as an author, you'd probably enjoy my "Kindle-Krazy" how-to.

I'm your friendly neighborhood sewing columnist at Craft magazine, and you'll be seeing my Valentine embroidery tips on the newsstands any day now. I'd love to take another sewing workshop with Sandra Betzina this winter, and of course I'll continue to worship at the feet of my fiber-arts guru, Jill Sanders.

Blogging this year should be fun. Obama may have his controversial Inauguration, but I'll be holding my own Sexual State of the Union address!

It's been intriguing for me to see the Twilight explosion this season- how remarkable that the bestselling book of the year was directed toward female adolescent longings. The movie screenings were audience pandemonium, even in my own little town of Santa Cruz. It's kismet, but I just turned in an illustrated erotic-lit anthology to Chronicle Books, coming out next fall, called The Quiver- which is decidedly more Baudelairean than Twilight, but filled with the same gothic perversions that intoxicate American literature at the moment.

Of course I'll be continuing my weekly audio show, In Bed W/Susie Bright, at Audible. This week, I'm sharing a story from Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler on The Peril of the Jealous Husband. Please enjoy some free samples!- and here's the cheapest way to subscribe once you become hooked.

Then there's the memoir. Now that I am officially old and in the way (51 this year) I'm completing a memoir for Seal Press, which will be published in 2010.

 If any of you have tips on how to run a daily blog and write a memoir at the same time while raising a family- send your advice to my address. Seriously, though, I'd love to hear from you anytime, especially if you have questions or suggestions about the memoir-writing adventure.

See you around... and I'll always be at BoingBoing, faithful reader that I am, sipping coffee in the Comments.

Photo: Susie and her darling, "practically-perfect-in-every-way" daughter, Aretha.

(Susie Bright is a guest blogger)

Note from Mark: Thanks, Susie for your wonderful, enlightening, and entertaining guest blog entries. We are looking forward to have you join us again very soon!

Susie Bright: George Carlin, Meet Kris Kovick

200812290945 You did it -- you survived another "holiday with the family."

Your (parent, sibling, soon-to-be-ex) is batshit crazy.  No satiric holiday movie comes close to the horrors you've witnessed. The Griswolds have nothing on your clan.

And then... you have the late, great Kris Kovick. Kris was a cartoonist, activist, author of "What I Love About Lesbian Politics Is Arguing with People I Agree With"- and a singular performing storyteller.

Her home-for-the-holidays classic recording is called Hair Pillow:

"Each person in my family is a different religion. It's like Belfast meets Beirut. There are Jews, Serbs, Catholics, red-neck Christian snake handlers, quietists, and noise-makers of all beliefs. My sister was recently married and her people were Portuguese. We were Serbian-Texans- guess how many guns I have? It made for great potluck, but very careful politics."

You can hear all of Hair Pillow at InsideStories, a site devoted to San Francisco oral history, including audio walking tours of Harvey Milk's San Francisco, and the Presidio Pet Cemetery.

Kris was one of the first cartoonists I met when I first got involved with queer-underground-journalism in my early twenties. But she reminded me we'd been introduced on a previous occasion. When I was 14 years old, she and my dad... were both dating the same woman. My father, in his great liberal fashion, calmly introduced me to both of them. I remember being fascinated by Kris because of a silver band she wore on her wedding finger dating from the days of her first great love. On the inside, engraved in perfect Edwardian script, was one word: "Bitch."

Alison Bechdel, Eisner-award-winning author of Fun Home, has some great cartoon memories of Kris. "Kris scared the living shit out of me. She kissed her dog on the mouth and had a dildo in a harness hanging from a doorknob in the living room. I was planning to rent a car to drive to Santa Barbara, but she insisted I drive her vintage 1956 pick-up."

The end of Kris's life came too soon (age 50) and was marked by the fact that she and her mother were both dying of breast cancer at the same time, not knowing who was going to go first. How is that funny? Well, Kris may have created the original Hospice Stand-up.

At one point in their terminal saga, Kris was the more able-bodied of the two and her mother was exhausted with living, helplessly tied up in tubes at the hospital:


Thanks to InsideStories producer Paul VanDeCarr, Alison Bechdel, Luke Browne, and Ray Hellmann for helping me put together this homage.

(Susie Bright is a guest blogger)

Cherri Wood's watercolors

 3195 3087017537 Cb1A1C7D02 B I bought this lovely painting by Cherri Wood as a holiday gift for my wife. It's titled "Not to Separate" (watercolor and ink collaged on rice paper). I learned about Wood through Thinkspace Gallery's exhibition in the Gen Art Vanguard New Contemporary Art Fair at Art Basel earlier this month in Miami, Florida. I like Wood's style a great deal and look forward to watching her develop. You can see her work on Flickr and at her LiveJournal.

Susie Bright: The League of Amazing Latkes Q & A

200812290939 Is it too late for potato latkes? Can I have some more?

It's never too late for latkes. You can eat potato pancakes all year round!

Is there a perfect recipe?


Potato pancakes inspire controversy because of family traditions... everyone longs for their childhood memory. My recipe may not bring your great-grandmother to life, but I dare say you'll look upon me as a favorite aunt.

It takes forever to grate all those potatoes and cry over the onions- I want to devour my latkes, pain-free, NOW!

Immediate gratification is all about using the right tools. Use a 7-cup Cuisinart with the "grater attachment" to cut up the pototoes and onions, presto!

My latkes always turn out limp and bland; what am I doing wrong?

The key to tasty latkes is to get the water out of the potatoes before you fry them in hot oil. But  potatoes don't like to give up their water.

The miracle answer to a labor-intensive problem is an old-fashioned potato ricer. Don't ask me what else you do with this thing: I only know it as a latke-enabler!

Put a handful of the sopping potato gratings in the ricer's mouth. Press the handles together, and all the water is expressed through the sieve side- in one second! You don't even have to use two hands. You leverage one arm of the ricer against the other by propping it over the sink-top and pressing down. You only do it once- there's no other effort required.

Any other must-have tools? 

Yes, a cast iron skillet. Cast iron is the most precise and uniform conductor of heat, and when you fire up your frying oil, you want that "almost smoking" level of hotness in your pan, unwavering. That's what gives you the satisfying crunch!

Can I use flour, or some other gluten instead of matzo meal for my binding agent?

No! The matzo gives the texture you crave.

Can I make a lower-calorie, lower-fat latke that tastes just as yummy?

The fiber content of potatoes are good for you. You could increase that with by combining other gratings of even higher-fiber candidates, like sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots- a different kick, but equally tasty. Remember, squeeze the water out of all of them!

There is no getting around the oil/butter/fry part, not if you want the "eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head" satisfaction. There is only one corner you can cut without detection: Use egg whites, lose the yolks- or at least cut down the yolks by half.

The secret to staying slim while you dance the latke fantastic is strategic fiber consciousness and portion control. Move away from the stove and serve yourself a couple of pancakes on a small plate with a huge helping of applesauce. Before you dig in, treat yourself to a fantastic butter lettuce salad with balsamic vinegar, or maybe a sweet tangerine. Afterward, turn up the Eartha Kitt really loud, to dance and sing your heart out!

(Susie Bright is a guest blogger)

Susie Bright: If you want to live in a van or be a stripper, then she's got some tips for you.


Tara the Hobo Stripper is a van-living, traveling striptease dancer and self-taught herbal medicine guru who's recently settled into a remote cabin in her native home of Alaska.

Even if Tara weren't expert in so many trades, it would be hard to put down her diary:

It's winter. I'm reading a lot. I'm drawing and figuring out how to make recycled sock monkeys. I keep an eternal pot of tea (a sort of infusion, really) on the stove with a big jelly straining bag as the tea bag. It's ginger oatstraw right now, and I drink it with honey.

Another pot on the stove is a perpetual snow melter. A full pot of snow makes two inches of water in the bottom of the pot. Yesterday I balanced one of the candles on top of a water bucket, which, piled on top of other water buckets, made the light just right for sitting in this chair and reading. Then I got a phone sex call and decided to make dinner and forgot about the candle until my water bucket caught on fire!

Now I have a water bucket with a hole in it and a dead candle that probably would have lasted another week if I'd blown it out and let it re-harden before it burned all the way through.

Other essential HoboStripper writings:

(Almost) everything you need to know about living in a van.

The Stripper Audition

The Joy of Nettles, One and Two

(Susie Bright is a guest blogger)

Wrist phone on its way... finally... again...

Wristphonnenene Dick Tracy LG is bringing the wrist phone to CES this year. Rob has the details over at Boing Boing Gadgets.
"LG's wrist-phone coming to CES"

Yellow is the new black

 Us.Yimg.Com P Ap 20081203 Capt.77E7661B857C4Ee9B1E7A669Dfbd5D69.Fashion Color Of The Year Nyls214 Yellow is the new black, according to Pantone. Specifically, the color company forecasts that the shade Mimosa is the hot color for 2009. This I learned from The City Sage, my new favorite style blog.
Pantone: Mimosa (

Video: Ryo Sehata's sellotape art

Sellooooart Japanese artist Ryo Sehata makes large sculptures from sellotape. Scientific American has a video interview with Sehata.
Sticky tape creations

More games: Summarize the year

We promised there'd be more games and contests, so here we are again. We're planning to run at least one a week. Naturally, your ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Here's this week's challenge: Everybody and their brother are doing year-end wrap-ups this week. Strike back! Write your own!

To be more specific: Summarize 2008. If you want, you can narrow it down and summarize the year in Boing Boing, weather, science fiction, weird science, plain science, international relations, bicycles, finance, real estate, disasters other than finance or real estate, cool gadgets, presidential campaigns, sandwiches (yours), sandwiches (eaten by others), violence, oxygen, polar bears in the news, weird sex, or whatever else you find meaningful, as long as it's a summary of 2008.

Format: Plain prose is fine. Compression is good. Formalism is very good. Chronological sequence is required, though it may be implicit.

You aren't required to use plain prose. As usual, poetry is an option; but so are obfuscated code, footnotes for an imaginary text, captions for the imaginary text's imaginary illustrations, crossword puzzle clues, lists of unanswered phone messages, copyeditors' queries, or entries from your cat's Live Journal. Just keep it coherent, and make sure the format and handling illuminates your summary of 2008.

Bear in mind that if you want to use flowcharts, rebuses, lolcats, XKCD cartoons, charts, photos, or sheet music, you'll have to stash the images elsewhere and link to them, because we're not set up to handle images in comment threads. That goes double for audio files, machinima, and flash games.

The length of your entry should not exceed your readers' patience. Entries will be judged by professionally impatient readers.

The normal moderation guidelines apply.

Hanging out in the thread, discussing the entries, and applauding good performances is virtuous, can be a lot of fun, and is a great way to get to know your fellow commenters.

Prize: To be announced shortly. Something good.

Pools at Foreclosed Homes Transformed into Illegal Sk8 Ramps

Well, this is one effect of the housing meltdown I didn't see coming -- a resurgence of hardcore sk8 culture. Skaters in Southern California are repurposing dried-out pools in the backyards of abandoned, foreclosed homes, cleaning them out and transforming them into illicit skate parks. Let a thousand reverse ollies bloom. Snip from New York Times article by Jesse McKinley and Malia Wollan:

In these boom times for skaters, [a 27-year old Fresno skateboarder whose alias is Josh] Peacock travels with a gas-powered pump, five-gallon buckets, shovels and a push broom, risking trespassing charges in the pursuit of emptying forlorn pools and turning them into de facto skate parks.

“We can just hit them back to back,” said Mr. Peacock, who preferred to give his skateboarding name because of the illegality of his activities.

Skaters are coming to places like Fresno from as far as Germany and Australia. Mr. Peacock said his floor and couch were covered by sleeping bags of visiting skateboarders each weekend.

Some skateboarders use realty tracking sites like and to find foreclosed houses with pools, while others trawl through satellite images from Google Earth. On the Web site, where skaters trade tips about how to find and drain abandoned pools, one poster wrote about the current economic malaise. “God bless Greenspan,” the post read, “patron saint of pool skatin’.”

Skaters Jump In as Foreclosures Drain the Pool (NYT, Photo: Jim Wilson)

Chemistry student wrongly busted for meth and bombs

Over at i09, Annalee Newitz blogs about Lewis Casey, a Saskatchewan college student who built a home chemistry lab and was arrested by police who thought he was brewing meth. A few days later, the police realized that the chemistry major wasn't manufacturing drugs but kept him in the clink anyway because the lab could allegedly be used for making bombs. From i09:
On December 24, Casey was finally released into his parents' custody, pending a trial to determine whether he was building what police called "improvised explosive devices." Yesterday Casey's lawyer told local journalists:

My client is a very intelligent young man . . . he's very keen in chemistry, a very curious young person and very capable, very knowledgeable in the area and he was always curious with regard to chemistry, chemical compounds, chemical reactions, that kind of thing. So from my client's point of view, it's completely innocent insofar as he had no intention of creating any explosives or explosive devices. As people probably know, anything in your house can constitute or be used in chemical or explosive devices, including sugar and cleaning compounds, Mr. Clean, bleach, detergents, all those sorts of things.
"Teen with Home Chemistry Lab Arrested for Meth, Bombs"

Ray Bradbury on Mars

 2008 10 Space-Special Descent-615
Science fiction pioneer Ray Bradbury, author of the Martian Chronicles, wrote the foreword to the recent special "space" issue of National Geographic. Bradbury wrote about Mars ('natch). From his essay:
In 1976 I was invited to stay overnight at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, waiting for news to come back from the Viking 1 lander, which was going to touch down on Mars and take photographs.

It was incredibly exciting to be there, surrounded by engineers, waiting for the first pictures. There was a tall gentleman standing next to me, who I thought looked familiar. At last I realized it was none other than Wernher von Braun, the man who had fled Germany for America to become the co-inventor of the rocket that took us to the moon and that was now taking us to the planets.

Early in the morning the photographs began to arrive. I could hardly believe I was seeing the surface of Mars! At 9:00 a.m., ABC television put me on the air to get my reaction.

The interviewer said, "Mr. Bradbury, how do you feel about this landing? Where are the Martian cities and where are all the living beings?"

"Don't be a fool," I said. "WE are the Martians! We're going to be here for the next million years. At long last, WE ARE MARTIANS!"

That was the end of the interview.
Ray Bradbury's "My Mars"

Global Voices' coverage of Gaza Strip Bombings (and how to keep the coverage alive)

Global Voices Executive Director Ivan Sigal says,

We've been covering the latest Gaza crisis from the perspective of bloggers and citizen journalists for the past few days. Blogger coverage has been highlighting both sides of the Israel/Gaza conflict. It's captured here on a Special Coverage page.

We're' also focusing in on application use by Israeli and Arab bloggers, where we find it. This post for instance, is about ongoing discussion on twitter.

Additionally, Global Voices has recently started a donations drive, including a tax exemption option for US citizens. Global Voices Managing Director Georgia Popplewell explains the donations logic here:

Donations will help sustain the efforts of our authors and translators who work around the clock to bring you updates from conflict areas, natural disasters, and from the frontline of battles for freedom of expression.

Even a small contribution will help pay for server expenses, monthly fees for editors, and a small team of staff.

Additional funding will help us keep actively translating our content into more than 15 languages, and add new languages to the mix, ensuring that individuals and media professionals around the world have access to the diverse voices coming from citizen media at a time when coverage of international news is under serious threat.

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the advisory board of Global Voices.)