Boing Boing 

Koko the intersex horse

The story of Koko, the intersex horse. (Thanks, Cheryl Q!)

How the Muslim Association of Malawi feels about a possible polygamy ban

The gender minister of Malawi is trying to pass a polygamy ban, and it's making the Muslim Association of Malawi a bit nervous. From the BBC:
A spokesman for the Muslim Association of Malawi told the BBC the proposed law would discriminate against the country's Muslim minority. He said with about 6% more women than men in Malawi, if polygamy were banned, many women would be left without a husband and become prostitutes.
The secretary general of the association expressed similar sentiments, saying the following:
We are totally rejecting it. There are also other ethnic groups [who practise polygamy] and they also totally reject this... If these people go ahead banning polygamous marriages it means many women will go into prostitution... Every woman has the right to be under the shelter of a man
Oh, and here's the kicker:
I have only one wife, my dear wife... but the moment they proceed with this, I will take a second wife.
Malawi move to ban polygamy angers Muslims

The USB hub designed to make you think of Jesus

USB_protector.jpg Designer Wu Jiang's design for a USB hub is, indeed, another happy experience. [Yanko]

A penis-shortening device


It's like spam opposite day!

This is a replica of an actual 15th-century invention, created to do exactly what it sounds like. It's from the personal collection of Erwin Kompanje, a medical ethicist fascinated by forgotten medical discoveries.

Of course, while it flies in the face of everything you've learned via Maxim and unsolicited emails, there's a very good reason for the penis-shortener to exist. Frankly, sometimes over-endowment can be a hindrance. A painful hindrance. Kompanje first wrote about this in a research paper published in 2006 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. If you understand Dutch, you can read more about the penis-shortener—and other forgotten medical advancements—in Kompanje's new book, titled, De Penisverkorter.

A robot that balances on a ball

Erico Guizzo says: "Japanese roboticist Masaaki Kumagai has built wheeled robots, crawling robots, and legged robots. Now he's built a robot that balances and rides on a bowling ball. You say why? Kumagai says why not?"

A Robot That Balances on a Ball

ilomilo: Southend's gorgeous storybook platformer for Xbox Live

Sometimes all you need is 74 seconds to convince the world that they'll want your game, as Sweden's Southend have just proved with their debut trailer for upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title ilomilo. Tick the checkboxes: tiny, innocent fantasy world, puzzling gameplay on the order of underappreciated original PlayStation game Kula World/Roll Away, and I'm pretty sure I already want a toy of that floppy-eared flying dog.

Stross on personal computing in 2015

Charles Stross on why Steve Jobs really hates Flash and what it all means for computer users in general: "The PC revolution is almost coming to an end."

Giant Gundam made of runners


Danny Choo spotted this giant Gundam-like replica made entirely of runners — the little plastic twigs that attach the kit parts together.

How to make a miniature blacksmithing forge

In Make Vol. 18 Len Cullum wrote an article about how to make a tiny blacksmithing forge. Len builds traditional Japanese style furniture, and uses his forge to make nails and other little iron parts.

In KipKay's latest Make: Online Weekend Project video, he shows you how he made the forge.

Weekend Project: $30 Micro Forge

Air Force "Cyberwarrior Badge" design sucks


Can you design a better one, Noah Shachtman at Wired's Danger Room asks? Whatever you come up with, I'm thinking: dunk it in drone-kill blood at the end, to really finish it off. (hi-res version here.)

To do in LA: Rich Fulcher (Mighty Boosh, "Tiny Acts of Rebellion") charity auction for Gulf relief

LA folks: Rich Fulcher, whom you may know best from "The Mighty Boosh," or his new book "Tiny Acts of Rebellion," will be hosting a charity auction at Amoeba Music in Hollywood on Saturday May 1, to benefit Gulf relief environmental charities. He'll be signing copies of the (hilarious) new book there too. Should be a fun event.

Signing/reading in Boston tonight!

Hey, Bostonians! Reminder that I'll be at the Harvard Coop bookstore in Cambridge tonight from 1900h-2000h. I'll be signing books and reading a little from my next one, *For the Win*. Hope to see you!

EZTakes: 5,000+ strong DRM-free online video store

Jim sez,
When I co-founded EZTakes, my intention was to create a movie download service that encrypted content with DRM. But after hearing Cory give a speech on DRM at a 2005 indie film conference in Montreal, I decided to launch a DRM-free service. I've continued the fight ever since.

Today, we offer about 5,000 DRM-free feature films that we licensed from over 80 distributors and studios. We've focused on finding the great movies you used to get at that quirky corner video store (when it was in business), and can't find among all the rows of "Avatar" at Wal-Mart. Our catalog includes classics such as Fellini's "La Dolce Vita," movie riffs like the entire Cinematic Titanic (former Mystery Science Theater 3K crew) collection, indie films like "Super Size Me," and campy/cult films such as "Plan 9" and "Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter." Our revenue has grown steadily, and the vast majority of our content partners are pleased with the income they get from us.

We've also rejected the ridiculous restrictions that other download services seek to impose on paying customers. From our Terms of Use: "EZTakes shall not take away, nor attempt to take away, rights related to your use of Content as a consumer, including but not limited to, 'first sale' and 'fair use' rights in the USA, or similar rights held by consumers outside the USA. If we ever say anything different, the foregoing shall take precedence." You can read our entire Terms of Use on our Web site.

We've just re-launched our site with a host of new features. Now when you buy a title from us, you almost always get: a tiny MP4 that plays on most smart phones; a high-quality MP4 that plays on any iPad, iPhone or video-enabled iPod; a downloadable DVD (for some titles) that you can burn and play on DVD players; and you can stream your purchase immediately, even while other versions download (broadband connection permitting). As an added benefit, iPhone and Android users can login to our mobile site ( to get their purchases streamed to their mobile phones (no download required). We also let our customers re-download, even if it's far into the future. So, I think it's safe to say that we've bent over backwards to give consumers reasons to buy. The "scarce value" we provide is our service, which lets our customers easily enjoy their content when, where and how they want.

It hasn't been easy. We've flirted with DRM. Just last year two major Hollywood studios offered us large catalogs of films, with no upfront payment, if we'd just use a certain vendor's DRM. Last week we walked away from a contract with a large media company because they wanted us to charge for re-downloads. Last year we ditched a deal (after spending tens of thousands on legal fees) when a well-known media company changed their mind at the 11th hour and told us they wanted DRM (even on trailers!).

IMPORTANT: If you look at the EZTakes site from outside the USA, you won't automatically see our entire catalog. Although we've tried, we couldn't always get world-wide rights. Many of our content partners had pre-existing deals with distributors in various territories.

EZTakes (Thanks, Jim!)

Celebrate Explicit Legal Pants Day (except in Mississippi schools)

YA author Scott Westerfeld has a great post about Ceara Sturgis, the top student at a Mississippi high school who saw every mention of her purged from her senior yearbook because she is a lesbian. Scott puts the fight to dress how you choose and express your gender identity in your own way into historical context, noting that this year marks the centenary of "Explicit Legalization of Pants in Kansas! (Otherwise known as ELPK Day.)"

Of course, it's easy to laugh at this, and reassuring to think that we no longer live in a world where women have to get legal advice for something so simple as wearing men's clothes, right?

Well, um, wrong.

Because just a few days ago, on almost exactly the 100th anniversary of ELPK Day, a student named Ceara Sturgis has found herself erased from her school yearbook. Why? For wearing a tuxedo in her senior photograph. And when I say erased, it's not just that the school administration wouldn't print the photograph. No, they actually deleted every mentioned of Ceara from the yearbook, even though she's an honor student, the goalie of the soccer team, and plays trumpet in the band.

By the way, she's also a lesbian. So wearing this tuxedo wasn't about flouting some imaginary dress code, but about who she is. That's what clothing means in all these conflicts.

After all, it's the trousers that our nameless widow wore while gardening that said, "Hey, I'm the head of this family. My labor is what keeps us fed. Deal with it." And the uniform that Deryn wears that says, "I'm as good an airman as any boy, so you can all get stuffed." And it's the tuxedo you wear in your yearbook photo that says, "I am who I am, and four years in your school hasn't changed me. So I win."

So, yes, these Explicitly Legal Pants are very important. Because even now, a hundred years after ELPK Day, we still have small-minded people around to tell us what we have to wear, and trying to tell us who we can and cannot be.

I hope she sues the pants off them.

Why Pants Are Legal in Kansas

Half-and-half Chinese/European traditional porcelain designs

Ctrlzak design studio's "Ceramix" collection fuses Chinese and European porcelain traditions, creating motley half-and-half plates, bowls, vases and the like.

Ceramix (via Geisha Asobi)

1939 World's Fair: the future's cradle, in pictures

Wired has a dandy appreciation of the "World of Tomorrow" exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair, the birthplace of the dark ride (the "Futurama," which motored you past enormous dioramae depicting the domed-city tomorrow).
It was a futuristic city inspired by the pages -- and covers -- of pulp science fiction: huge geometric shapes, sweeping curves, plenty of glass and chromium, and gleaming white walls. The fair was the last great blossoming of the Streamlined Moderne style of Art Deco. It was also heavily influenced by the still-rising International Style of such architects as Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Read More
1939's 'World of Tomorrow' Shaped Our Today

New book about Funnyman, a Jewish superhero from the Golden Age of Comic Books

Funnyman Cover Adam

Feral House has a great new book coming out about Funnyman, an unusual and short-lived comic book series created by Superman's Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Funnyman was a clown-like superhero who used gags, pranks and Yiddishisms to defeat his humor-deficient enemies. He was a dead ringer for Danny Kaye, one of my favorite comedians. The comic book was a total flop. It ran for six issues and went out of business. Siegel and Shuster tried to keep it going as a newspaper strip, but gave up after a year. The team never worked together again. (Joe Shuster went on to illustrate seedy little bondage booklets, barely scratching out a living. You can read all about it in Craig Yoe's book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster.)

The video above consists of interviews with Mel Gordon and Thomas Andrae, the co-authors of Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero from the Creators of Superman. It also describes how the invention of Superman might have been inspired by a Jewish vaudeville strongman from the 1920s named Siegmund Breitbart, who was billed as a "Superman of Strength."

Pre-order Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero, from the Creators of Superman