Boing Boing 

Boing Boing's live coverage of Apple event Wednesday, Sep. 1, 10am PT

Apple is holding an invite-only press event Wednesday, September 1, in San Francisco. Above, a snip from the invitation that went out to journalists. If only we had some clue what this is all about? Look at that guitar. Just look at it. It's trying to tell us something. What does it mean?

Anyway, Boing Boing will be represented, and we'll be providing some sort of live color commentary from the goat rodeo.

Apple is live-streaming this one, for the first time in many years, too—so you can watch along from wherever you are at As long as you aren't using a Windows box or an Android phone:

"Viewing requires either a Mac running Safari on Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard, an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 3.0 or higher, or an iPad."
Do join us in the morning. I'll be there in person, and Rob will no doubt be lending his acerbic wit and gadget-savvy to make our coverage worth tuning in to.

Nagoya COP10 Primer #3: with a small reference to LOL cats

Screen Shot 2010-08-31 At 7.53.02 Pm-1

(Continuing on from previous primers: 1. Star Wars | 2. Kevin Bacon)

O.K. now on to business... Here are the Convention on Biological Diversity's three basic objectives:

1. The conservation of biological diversity

2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity

3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

They also have - or had rather - a goal, a biodiversity target, which was the following:

In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.

This was also the reason why 2010 was proclaimed as the International Year of Biodiversity.

Read the rest

Can crowdsourcing produce funny humor pieces? The next step

In case you missed it, here is the set up.

And from the comments from that previous post, there were many great titles. Some lend themselves more to an essay type humour piece, whereas others were just funny as one-liners. It was tough choosing, but I'm going to go with two titles. One is a tweak, but seems to involve a subject matter near and dear to Boing Boing readers, plus should be good for a funny list (from edthehippie). The other seemed to win the popularity contest, and is definitely a title with great potential and hopefully providing some creative space for folks who like to write a little more than one sentence (from artiefx0).

Anyway, without further ado, here are the titles!




Game on! (Note: please use the keyword "unicorn" or "awesome" to let me know which piece your comment is alluding to).

Flying robot hand wants your beer

This flying drone possesses a rubbery hand that can swipe your beer if you're not watchful. (Technology Review via Bruce Sterling)

Frankenmascot: all the cereal mascots in one

Jon sez, "What do you get when you combine just about every breakfast cereal character you know into one magnificent being? Something that's part Cap'n Crunch, part Sugar Bear, and 14 other parts. Can you name them all?"

The creator is selling prints of this frankenmascot, too!

FREE Thing Included! (Thanks, Jon, via Submitterator!)

Pizza oven as hellmouth

From This is Pizza's review of Marcello Pizzeria & Ristorante in Vancouver, BC, this magnificent pizza-oven/hellmouth (thanks to Makeblog for the hellmouth comparison!).

Impressions: Marcello Pizzeria & Ristorante (via Neatorama)

Flurb 10: Rudy Rucker's glorious sf webzine

Hurrah! Rudy Rucker's just posted the Fall/Winter issue of his glorious sf webzine Flurb, with a wicked contributor list: "Armstrong, Ashby, Byrne, Callaway, Goonan, Hendrix, Hogan, Kek, Laidlaw, Metzger, Newitz, Rucker, Saknussemm, Scholz, Shirley, Sterling, Watson."

Flurb 10

As drug violence escalates, entire length of US-Mexico border to be patrolled by unmanned drones

[Image courtesy General Atomics. An artist's rendition of Predator B, the unmanned aerial drone patrolling the US-Mexico border for human and drug trafficking, and other threats.]

Beginning this Wednesday, the entire 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico will be patrolled by unmanned aerial drones. Three drones are already patrolling portions of that border, and a fourth Predator begins operations tomorrow out of Corpus Christi, TX, completing the full stretch of la frontera.

The news came in a Department of Homeland Security announcement yesterday, along with word that 1,200 additional National Guard troops will be deployed "to provide intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and immediate support to counternarcotics enforcement."

Those Predator B drones are made by military contractor General Atomics. You can read more about the drone specs here at the General Atomics website, and download a PDF here. Snip from Reuters:

They carry equipment including sophisticated day and night vision cameras that operators use to detect drug and human smugglers, and can stay aloft for up to 30 hours at a time.
All of this is part of $600 million legislation signed by President Obama earlier this month to increase border security before midterm elections in November, and in response to the ever-escalating drug war in Mexico. Just today, at least 8 people were killed when attackers hurled Molotov cocktails into a bar in Cancun, a popular tourist destination. The attack is presumed to be cartel-related.

And a major drug kingpin nicknamed "The Barbie" for his light complexion was arrested this week— his takedown is seen as a badly-needed public relations coup for the Mexican government, as successive waves of horrific news hit the country.

Perhaps the most gruesome of those recent revelations was the discovery just last week of a mass grave filled with 72 murdered migrants, including a pregnant woman, who were all executed by a dominant cartel, the Zetas.

The incident took place just 100 miles from the US border.

Read the rest

Brian McCarty's book of art toy photos

 Store Arttoys Full Cover
We've featured Brian McCarty's terrific toy photography many times on Boing Boing. He's a master at setting a perfect scene and using just the right perspective to trick me into thinking that the strange vinyl characters on my shelf come alive when I'm not looking. Brian's photos are now collected in a wonderful hardcover book appropriately titled Art-Toys. The book includes more than 100 photos, each on its own page, featuring toys designed by Mark Ryden, Gama-Go, Frank Kozik, FriendsWithYou, Tim Biskup, Amanda Visell, Attaboy, and dozens of other artists. BB pal Douglas Rushkoff wrote the intro. I really dig the back-of-the-book "behind-the-scenes" snapshots that reveal the time, detail, and love that goes into every one of Brian's photos. Art-Toys by Brian McCarty (Amazon)

Mystery of the Albino Redwoods

KQED's QUEST looks at the ultra-rare albino redwood trees: "Only a few dozen albino redwood trees are known to exist. They are genetic mutants that lack the chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis. But how and why they survive is a scientific mystery." Albino Redwoods, Ghosts of the Forest

Brain surgery c. 2000 BCE

Archaeologists at Ikiztepe, Turkey unearthed two glass obsidian blades they believe were used for neurosurgery 4,000 years ago. Why do they think these were tools for Bronze Age brain surgery? Because they found scarred skulls there too. New Scientist interviewed excavation director Önder Bilgi:
 Data Images Ns Cms Mg20727750.200 Mg20727750.200-1 300 What makes you think they were used for surgery?

We have found traces of cuts on skulls in a nearby graveyard. Out of around 700 skulls, 14 have these marks. They could only have been cut with a very sharp tool. At this time, 4000 years ago or more, it could only have been an obsidian blade. The cut marks show that a blade was used to make a rectangular opening all the way through the skull. We know that patients lived at least two to three years after the surgery, because the skull has tried to close the wound.

Have you uncovered any clues to why this surgery was performed?

There seem to be three main reasons. The first is to relieve the pressure of a brain haemorrhage; we found traces of blood on the inside of some of the skulls. The second is to treat patients with brain cancer, as we can see pressure traces from the cancer inside some of the skulls. And the final reason was to treat head injuries, which seem to have been quite common. The people of Ikiztepe got their copper from mines in the local mountains, and we think they had to fight other local people for access to it.

"Scalpels and skulls point to Bronze Age brain surgery"

My quest to recreate one of the best things I've ever tasted: omusoba

(Click all photos to embiggen)

Behind the gate of this shrine in Kyoto, I ate something delicious.

There was a festival going on at the time.

Read the rest

More cool rolling shutter effects

Last week, Mark posted a shot of a boy blinking in a photo but with his eyes open in a reflection.

In the comments, several people explained that this was a rolling shutter effect. You can get something similar panning many DLSR cameras too quickly back and forth, causing a "jello" effect on solid objects. Commenter knodi shared a still of his propeller showing the same effect. You can get the same trippy effect in video based on the frame rate, as seen in Steve Talkowski's video above.

Superman's Cleveland roots

 Images Superman-Panels-At-Joe-Shuster-House-2
Cleveland, Ohio is slowly starting to honor its most important son. No, not Drew Carey (although BB loves him too). In 1933, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two boys from Jewish immigrant families who lived in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland, created Superman. This month, Smithsonian magazine tells the story behind the superhero, and what some citizens are doing to show their pride. The image above, from Jim Bowers/, is a fence at the address of Joe Shuster's old house. From Smithsonian:
Shortly after Siegel and Shuster died in the 1990s, a... struggle for recognition of Superman’s creators took place in Cleveland. Michael Sangiacomo, a comic books critic and a reporter for Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, called on the city to honor Siegel and Shuster. Nothing came of it. Every few years he would trot the idea out again, writing an article calling on Cleveland to honor the pair. “I pointed out that the Siegel house was here [the home of Joe Shuster had been torn down], and that is the home of Superman, and the city should do something.”

In his will, Siegel asked that half of his ashes be donated to the city of Cleveland; his widow also wanted to donate some of his belongings to the city, such as his typewriter. She visited Cleveland to find a home for them, and Sangiacomo escorted her around town. “Nobody wanted them,” he remembers. “It was a low point. I felt horrible for her and mad at the city...”

Sangiacomo and (comic writer Brad) Meltzer decided to raise money to restore the house. Melzer uploaded a video of himself at the house that went viral. He followed by sponsoring an auction of comics-related art, raising over $100,000 in the process. Sangiacomo and Meltzer formed the nonprofit Siegel and Shuster Society, and asked the Glenville Community Development Corporation to take charge of restoring the house, in partnership with the Grays.

Cleveland, the True Birthplace of Superman

Wikileak-proofing the Pentagon

"By hunting for poker-like "tells" in people's use of Defense Department computer networks, Darpa hopes to find indications of indicate hostile intent or potential removal of sensitive data." Wired reports that Ex-L0phter Peiter "Mudge" Zatko is working for DARPA to "Wikileak-proof" military networks.

Secret history of psychedelic psychiatry

A couple weeks ago, I posted about a new scientific paper looking at how an increased understanding of psychedelic drugs may lead to new anti-depressants. Over at Science Blogs, neuroscientist Moheb Costandi responds in a fascinating essay on "The Secret History of Psychedelic Psychiatry." From the article:
 Lamaworkshop Carygrantlsd1960 LSD therapy peaked in the 1950s, during which time it was even used to treat Hollywood film stars, including luminaries such as Cary Grant (at left, dropping acid). By then, two forms of therapy had emerged. Psychedelic ("mind-manifesting") therapy was practised mostly in North America and involved intensive psychotherapy followed by a single megadose of LSD. It was thought that the transcendental experiences induced by such large doses, as well as heightened self-awareness, would enable the patient to reflect on their condition with greater clarity. Psycholytic ("mind-loosening") therapy, on the other hand, was practised mostly in Europe, and involved regular low to moderate doses of the drug in conjunction with psychoanalysis, in order to release long-lost memories and reveal the unconscious mind.
"The secret history of psychedelic psychiatry"

Improv Everywhere: Black tie at the beach

Several hundred merry pranksters of Improv Everywhere descended on Coney Island/Brighton Beach dressed in black tie. Founder Charlie Todd says, "We covered a mile-long stretch of beach with a diverse group of people of all ages (from babies to sixty-somethings) laying out, playing games, and swimming in the ocean, all in formal wear. Agents were instructed to find cheap tuxedos and ball gowns at thrift stores for the occasion." Black Tie Beach

Another superb anti-theft sign

Image link. (via BB Submitterator, thanks robotsound)

The scientists who make sci-fi more real

Via the BB Submitterator, Boing Boing readerator "swatters" says: "I'm a big fan of BBC Radio's iPlayer, which makes available a slew of programming that its various stations have previously aired. "Scientists Go to Hollywood" is a 30-minute piece on the science behind sci-fi television and film, featuring interviews with consultants who worked on Danny Boyle's Sunshine (a terrifying survival thriller and personal favourite), and the upcoming releases Thor and Tron."

Historical cell phone location data is a privacy intrusion, rules NY judge

Judge James Orenstein in the Eastern District of New York ruled last Friday that historical cell phone location data is just as intrusive to privacy as GPS tracking. (ACLU)

Dub Kweli

Remixer Max Tannone has just released a new project along the same lines as the lovely Mos Dub thing he did not long ago. This one's Dub Kweli. "Same concept but features Talib Kweli instead of Mos Def," Max explains. Go have a listen.

Anti-theft warning sign

Anyone know the real-world story behind this one? It's been making the internet rounds of late. Update: Source.

Crucifix power strip

"Power/Strip is a 12 outlet cruciform surge protector that easily accommodates oversize adapters while providing comprehensive protection from evil, power surges, and AC contamination." Designed by Alexander Pincus. Alas, it seems to be a proof of concept only at this time.

(via BB Submitterator, thanks Arts & Leisure!)

Monstrous Wildlife: Graboids

Following up on David Ng's great biodiversity posts, here's a nice video on graboids. If you only know about these land sharks from old skits or classic cartoons, filmmaker Frank Robnik put together this nicely animated piece that dispels many misconceptions about these misunderstood creatures. Great score by Sebastian Birkl, too!

Dancing Merengue Dog

This dog is an accomplished merengue dancer. Video Link. (thanks, Mia Quagliarello)

Canadian: last chance to vote in Indigo's Teen Read poll

Canadians: Now that summer's over, it's your last chance to select your favorite young adult reads in Indigo's summerlong Teen Read Awards. They're soliciting Canadians' daily votes for great books for teens to read, as part of a longer and larger promotion of teen reading and literacy. I'm honored to note that my latest young adult novel For the Win is in the final heat!


Some Final Thoughts on Conventions (and a visit to Power Morphicon)

power-morphicon-celebrating-17-years-of-the-power-rangers.5269617.87.jpg Photo: Shannon Cottrell/LA Weekly from Power Morphicon Last Tuesday, I asked artists about their experiences with conventions. There have been a lot of interesting responses, as well as some advice. Please read the comment thread when you have a chance. The comments made me think about the impact conventions have had on Shannon Cottrell and I as journalists. I had asked Shannon about this and she mentioned, "for that weekend or day it is just a free world to inspire each other." On Saturday, Shannon and I covered Power Morphicon, a Power Rangers convention, for Style Council. As I wrote in the blog post, this was different from most of our con adventures in that neither one of us can say that we're Power Ranger fans. When we go to cons, we're typically there as both journalists and fans. This time, we were just journalists, but after watching the fans, and talking to some of them, we left ready to give Power Rangers another try. Their passion prompted us to reconsider a show that neither one of us had probably seen since the 1990s. It was certainly one of the more inspiring events we've attended this year. There's often a sort of stigma to admitting you're a huge fan of something. You can tell in the tone of voice people will use when dropping terms like "nerd," "geek," and, particularly, "fanboy" or "fangirl." It's okay to like a movie or a comic or a video game, but once you start to appear passionate about the subject, it can be considered off-putting. When you go to a convention, though, all those unspoken rules about how much you can express your enthusiasm about something disappear. Whether you want to dress up as Zelda, bring your favorite ball-jointed dolls to a meet-up or debate the merits of moe anime for hours on end, it's okay. Everybody is a fan of something and those influences help shape who we become later in life. Having a place where we can physically interact with people and not hear something like, "okay, can you stop talking about cartoons already?" helps foster creativity. Cons have had a profound impact on Shannon and I both personally and professionally and I'm happy to have had the chance to tell you a bit about what we do and who we've met. Thanks to Xeni for asking me to guestblog for Boing Boing for the past three weeks and thanks to everyone who kept reading. It's been a lot of fun. I'll be back to blogging daily for LA Weekly's Style Council today and hope to share more with you there. Links: Power Morphicon (photo gallery) "Power Rangers Fans and Stars Gather for Power Morphicon" (blog post) Style Council

Comic book autobiography of a teen girl's life with braces


A 215-page account of a teenage girl getting braces on her teeth may seem like thin soup for a comic book memoir, but Raina Telgemeier's art and storytelling brings Smile to life.

My 13-year-old daughter just got braces so I thought she would enjoy Smile, but I ended up taking it and reading it over the weekend. Raina starts the book with a visit to the orthodontist, who tells her she needs braces. That night she falls face down on the pavement and knocks her two front teeth out (actually, one falls out and the other one gets driven up into her skull bone -- yikes). So what was initially going to be a simple set of braces turns into something more complicated, which nicely parallels with the increasingly complicated issues that a young girl about to enter junior high school must deal with, including new friends and new feelings. The book ends up being less about braces and more about the day-to-day trials and triumphs of early teenagerhood.

Autobiographical comic books, especially ones about people's everyday lives, are my favorite kind of comic book, and I'd place Telgemeier near the top of my list. She's great at presenting image moments. Her use of timing and framing is probably what has gotten her nominated for Eisner, Ignatz, Cybil, and Web Cartoonists' Choice awards. Her use of exaggeration (see panel four, above) is employed sparingly and to good effect. When I was finished with Smile, I felt as though I'd really gotten to know what Telgemeier's early adolescence was like.

Buy Smile on Amazon

Delightful paleo-gadgets of 1959

From the November, 1959 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, a delightful foursome of new inventions, including a wristwatch/tape measure; a vibrating car-seat; a two-seat personal gyro-glider and a revolutionary paper boiler-suit: "ROLL this strikingly unusual Swiss-made jeweled-lever wristwatch on any standard scale map and you can measure the distance in miles or kilometers. As you roll the watch along the map's highway, the mileage is recorded and seen through an aperture on the face of the dial. The watch is designed for the world traveler, sportsmen or even for the week-end driver who likes to keep track of the distance he travels. Bauble is scheduled for export to the United States sometime within the next year."

NOW SEE THIS! (Nov, 1959)

Free, open course for online journos

Phillip from Mozilla sez,
Mozilla, Hacks/Hackers, Medill School at Northwestern University, and The Media Consortium are collaborating to run a free online course for journalists and programmers on the Peer-to-peer University platform. This is an experimental six-week course exploring the ways that technology is changing news production and how professional journalists & programmers can work together to innovate around these changes. Here's the tentative course outline:

+ The fundamentals of journalism and coding
+ Project management
+ Edit it. Fork it. The art of collaboration and journalism
+ Big Ugly Datasets For Thumb-Fingered Journalists
+ Maps. Maps. Everywhere
+ Data journalism and government

Open Journalism & the Open Web (Thanks, Phillip!)