Is the Jim Woodring pinball machine a reality, or a fever dream?


Please let the Frank pinball machine be real. (Click image for big.)

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)

Today on Offworld

Today on Offworld, we recapped all the holiday stories we missed late last week, including a number of developments on the iPhone: the appearance of match-3/RPG PuzzleQuest, Jason Rohrer's momento mori art-game Passage, Flashbang's excellent dino-catcher Raptor Copter, and the surprise announcement that Hudson will be bringing Kloonigames' Crayon Physics Deluxe to the App Store. We also took another look at LittleBigPlanet's brilliant Metal Gear Solid level pack, read advice on making machine-mediated user-generated content more prevalent in games, and about the 2008 game that finally did drunk right after years of /drinks. Finally, and most wonderfully, we read about the technical ins-and-outs of Twit 4 Dead, the automated twitter bots bravely tweeting their struggle against the horde.

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