Boing Boing 

Windowpane: surreal debut from NOBROW's Joe Kessler


Windowpane is the graphic novel debut from Joe Kessler, one of the friendly fellows working behind the cash-register at London's wonderful NOBROW (about whom we've written lots). It's a collection of short, surreal, dreamlike stories, some more experimental than others, as well as a memoir of the near-death of Reuben Mwara during his boyhood in a Kenyan slum.

Kessler's use of color and the printing techniques he employs (which you can see at his blog are very striking, and the storytelling style is accomplished and sure. A very promising start!

Preview: WINDOWPANE By Joe Kessler

All the year's top radio hits in one mashup

The spectacular DJ Earworm has published his annual mashup of the year's top-40 hits, combining them into a single, synthesized earworm, with visual accompaniment.

DJ Earworm Mashup - United State of Pop 2012 (Shine Brighter) (Thanks, Rob!)

What's entropy?

I sat down with the fascinating crew at the Titanium Physicists podcast to serve as their special physics-ignoramus guest in an episode about entropy (MP3)

Which professions have the most psychopaths? The fewest?


The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, by Kevin Dutton, has this side-by-side list of professions with the highest percentage of psychopaths (CEO tops the list) and lowest percentage (Care Aide has the fewest psychopaths).

Here's Eric Barker's take on why this is so:

Most of the professions on the right require human connection, dealing with feelings and most of them don’t offer much power. Psychopaths, by their very nature, would not be drawn to or very good at these things.

On the other hand, most of the roles on the left do offer power and many require an ability to make objective, clinical decisions divorced from feelings. Psychopaths would be drawn to these roles and thrive there.

Which professions have the most psychopaths? The fewest?

Jerry Seinfeld on information design (1981)

Move over, Edward Tufte: here's Jerry Seinfeld's first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1981. He was 27 years old. During his bit, he makes a good point about weather forecasts. He says that typical television weather forecasts don't provide him with useful information.

They show you the satellite photo. A photograph of the Earth from 10,000 miles away. Can you tell if you should take a sweater or not from that? I have no idea. If I really need to know the weather I watch Romper Room, the kiddy show. They lay it on the line. If the little wooly guy on the wall gets a raincoat, I know what's happening.
(Via 22 Words)

Trailer mashup: My Little Trek Into Darkness

(Video link) Bronies + Trekkies = Brekkies, and then geekdom exploded into sparkles and lasers! Happy New Year, everypony! Live long and prosper! (via Eric Kwun on Twitter)

Related: WATCHPONIES: Watchmen/My Little Pony mashup

A New Year's marathon for every fan!

We all know about the time-honored tradition of Syfy's Twilight Zone New Year's marathon. But in case you're not into a 24-hour trip into another dimension and still want to watch a buttload of TV today and tomorrow, here is a short list of other TV marathons that might interest you!

24 Hours of Portlandia (IFC), starting tonight at 6:00 PM (EST)

(Doctor) Who Year's Eve (BBC America), last episode airs at 5:00 AM (EST) tomorrow morning

MacGyver marathon (Cloo), last episode airs tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM (EST)

New Year's Hercul-Eve Marathon (The Hub), 10 episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starting tonight at 8:00 PM (EST)

How Do They Do It? marathon (Science), last episode airing at 1:30 AM (EST) tomorrow morning, followed by a Fringe marathon

The Walking Dead Season 3 (AMC), starting tonight at 9:00 PM (EST)

Mysteries At the Museum (Travel Channel), starting at 9:00 AM (EST) tomorrow morning with a special, followed by regular episodes

Photo credit: IFC

Little Brother on stage in print!

The next issue of Theatre Bay Area will feature the full text of Josh Costello's theatrical adaptation of my novel Little Brother, which was incredibly well-received on stage in San Francisco last year.

My favorite podcasts of 2012, Part 1

I hardly listen to the radio anymore, because I listen to audiobooks and podcasts instead. My car has a cassette player in it so I use one of those cassette adapters to connect my iPhone to the car's stereo system.

I use a $1.99 iOS app called Downcast to subscribe to and listen to my podcasts. (Before that I was using an app called Pocket Casts, but it seems to have a bug in it that prevents me from pausing a podcast and playing it again later. Other people rave about Pocket Casts, however, so don't rule it out if you're in the market for a podcast player).

Here are the podcasts I enjoy the most:

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. Jesse used to have a podcast called The Sound of Young America. Bullseye is similar, in that Jesse interviews musicians, comedians, directors, and other interesting folks in the realm of popular culture. Jesse only interviews people that he admires and knows about, so his questions elicit interesting responses from his guests.

The Ihnatko Almanac. Described as "a weekly discussion that mostly focuses on the Clickable Arts: the movies, music, books, comics, articles, and other bits of entertainment and news that Andy and Dan [Benjamin] have been reaching through a mouse click recently." That's true, but the real joy of this podcast is listening to Andy Ihnatko's lively and insightful near-rants about why some things are good and why other things stink. Cohost Dan Benjamin does a great job winding Andy up and letting him rip!

The Joe Rogan Experience. I don't know much about Joe Rogan. I understand he is a standup comic, a mixed martial arts fighter, and a reality TV show host. None of those things interest me greatly, but Joe's guests are often unusual people and Joe does a great job of getting into their minds. He has interviewed 4-Hour Chef author Tim Ferris, biohacker Dave Asprey, software mogul and fugitive John McAfee, convicted steroid distributor Victor Conte, ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna, and many others. He's up to episode #304. Sometimes the episodes run 3 hours long.

Latest in Paleo I've been following a modified Paleo style regimen for a couple of years. I avoid gluten grains, sugar, and industrial seed oils. I eat vegetables, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, fish, grass fed beef, eggs, and some sweet potatoes. About the same time I started doing Paleo, Angelo Coppola began producing his Latest in Paleo podcast. This well-made show examines current news stories regarding health, diet, and fitness. It's one of my favorite podcasts, and I listen to it as soon as it shows up on my player.

Stay tuned for My Favorite Podcasts of 2012, Part Two! Also, feel free to write about your favorite podcasts in the comments section.

Stop toying with us, Arrested Development: Netflix denies rumored premiere date

Let's end 2012 with some truthiness: gossip site Oh No They Didn't got wind of some new details concerning the fourth season of Arrested Development and its upcoming premiere on Netflix. Apparently, a publicity site for Fox prematurely posted a new image, a May 4, 2013 premiere date, and a list of episode titles before taking it all down. A few sites have reported this as the official release date, but Vulture contacted a Netflix representative who said the date "is wrong."

A debunked rumor is not the most fun way to start out a year of heavily-anticipated entertainment, but at least we know it's on its way! (I'd still count on a May premiere. Seems like it would make a lot of sense -- just as all the network shows are ending, the Bluths swoop in and save us all from summer programming.)

Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

(via Cinema Blend)

GIF is word of the year

"GIF has been named the Oxford American Dictionary’s word of the year," reports the NY Daily News, in an article that Rich Kyanka points out is illustrated by JPGs of popular GIFs.

Here I present you with a splendid actual GIF from DVDP; put on the "apocalyptic rave" music that the BBC plays in the background of news broadcasts to make you anxious, then stare at it until 2013.

Just look at this gnarly conjoined banana.


Just look at it.

photo

How safe is safe?

The precautionary principle comes up a lot when you're talking about the side effects of technology in the real world. When you don't have evidence that something is dangerous — but you suspect it might be — you could cite the precautionary principle as a reason to ban or limit the use of that thing. It's a messy idea, though, and I'm still not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, technology is often available before data on the wide-ranging effects of that technology are available. Do you use it or not is a legitimate question. On the other hand, following the precautionary principle in a blind sort of way can lead to things like this.

Coin purse looks like a grenade


Is this grenade-shaped coin purse cartoonish enough to avoid the attention of TSA officers?

Grenade-shaped key and coin case

A toast to physics

You will be pleased to note that multiple physicists are at work on the problem of why a piece of falling toast tends to land with the butter side down.

USDA internal discussions of Pink Slime revealed: "We are taking a beating from the media"

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a set of internal discussions about "pink slime", shedding light on early efforts to respond to public outcry over its presence in processed food.

It is its first response to a FOIA request, filed by Government Attic, requesting copies of its deliberations. Though the USDA invoked expemptions to avoid publishing "open and frank discussions and expressions of opinion necessary for agency decision makers to make informed decisions," the documents reveal confused USDA staffers rushing to formulate an institutional response to public concern.

Read the rest

Ancient Chinese art used a toxic lacquer made from a relative of poison ivy

On Christmas Day, I watched a documentary about the terra cotta warriors — thousands of clay soldiers built as funerary objects for the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor. One crazy fact I learned: Unlike the type of lacquer we call shellac today (which comes from crushed beetles), ancient Chinese artists used a lacquer derived from the sap of the lacquer tree, a relative of poison ivy. Anybody tasked with the job of applying that lacquer can end up with a serious allergic reaction. Another fun fact: We've still never seen the inside of Qin Shi Huang's tomb. Partly, this is a bureaucratic issue. But the larger problem is the mercury-laden soil on top, possibly contaminated by Qin Shi Huang's tomb, itself, which was supposed to contain a scale model of his empire, complete with rivers and oceans flowing with (you guessed it) mercury.

Smart mice doing tricks

This guy trains his pet mice to collect coins, fetch a tossed bead, play basketball, ride a tiny skateboard, and more. (Via Doobybrain)

Awesomely weird tales of sex-ghosts


This interview with "author, photographer, and ossuary expert" Paul Koudounaris is a trove of weird stories about the things people get up to with their local mummies, haunted skulls, and other "miracle-performing" remains:

They’re not all like that. One of the more outlandish stories is about a guy who got to be called “pene grande,” which means “big dick.” He was a mummy famed in life for having a big penis. People would go down to the Palermo Catacombs and treat him as the patron saint of big cocks. Finally a newlywed woman came to see him because she was married to a guy who was not well-endowed. She took a cloth and rubbed it on the mummy’s dick, and then rubbed it on her husband’s dick. The next time she had sex with her husband, his penis seemed larger and fuller and she was about to orgasm except that at that moment she looked up and saw it was actually the ghost on top of her. Everyone thought she was crazy, but then it happened again the next time she had sex. They had to set up an exorcism for this ghost.

...They had a blacksmith make a tight-fitting sheath made of metal, and once the husband got erect the ghost came out and got caught in the codpiece. They threw holy water at him.

...That expelled the ghost from the guy’s body. So forever he had a small penis, but he was free of the ghost. As for the ghost, he gained a great following among older ladies, and eventually so many were coming to see him that they had to lock the mummy in a back room, which is where he remains to this day.

...There is an old and very weird story about a ghost of a guy who had lived in the monastery there — apparently the "devil got into him" and he masturbated and had a heart attack at the moment of ejaculation. That's why, they claim, he has that look on his face. Anyway, people said his ghost would visit boys who masturbated and scare them into stopping. One boy didn't really believe this, though, and dared the ghost to appear while he was masturbating. When the ghost showed up, he apparently grabbed the boy by the cock and squeezed him so hard that the boy passed out, and while he wasn't exactly castrated, he was rendered sterile for life.

...There’s a really bizarre story from the 20th century, about a guy who had severe diarrhea and chronic flatulence. He stole a skull and started saying prayers to St. Roch and St. Sebastian, the patron saints of plague and suffering, and also shitting on the skull daily. He had a theory that by crapping on the skull he could switch intestines with the body the skull had been attached to. The ghost kept warning him, quit shitting on my skull. But he kept at it and he succeeded in transferring his intestinal problems to the ghost. The problem was that the ghost had died of testicular cancer, and in return he gave that to the guy. That’s how he died. One of the dangers of necromancy is you don’t really know who’s on the other side or what they’re going to give you in return.

Bones, Ghosts, and Paul Koudounaris [Molly Langmuir/The Hairpin] (via JWZ)

1000-year-old modded skulls discovered in Mexico


13 unusually-shaped skulls were recently unearthed in Mexico when workers were digging an irrigation system. They are about 1,000 years old. Time reported that researcher Cristina Garcia Moreno of Arizona State University said, “We don’t know why this population specifically deformed their heads.”

Tai-wiki-widbee said: "There's more information at the Artificial Cranial Deformation page at Wikipedia, where I found the image at right (Painting by Paul Kane, showing a Chinookan child in the process of having its head flattened, and an adult after the process) and these notes:"

Early examples of intentional human cranial deformation predate written history and date back to 45,000 BC in Neanderthal skulls, and to the Proto-Neolithic Homo sapiens component (12th millennium BCE) from Shanidar Cave in Iraq. It occurred among Neolithic peoples in SW Asia. The earliest written record of cranial deformation dates to 400 BC in Hippocrates' description of the Macrocephali or Long-heads, who were named for their practice of cranial modification.
This is NOT the skull of an extraterrestrial alien

Why the stuff you don't see at the museum matters

Chicago's Field Museum isn't just a science museum. It's also a research center, especially for archaeologists and anthropologists who come to the museum to make use of its extensive collections of artifacts — only a tiny fraction of which is on public display at any given time. Unfortunately, the museum is currently up to its neck in debt, and part of the current administrators' plan to deal with that problem is to restructure the research department and cut back on curators and staffing there.It's hard to understand why this has the archaeology community so on edge unless you really understand what the Field Museum has in those vast Indiana-Jones-inspiring storage collections. Here's Michael Smith, an archaeologist who studies the ancient Aztecs, explaining why the Field Museum is so important to his work and that of his colleagues.

The photo above shows an Aztec flute in the museum. I have excavated many small fragments of these objects in Aztec domestic middens, but never an entire example. When one just has the animal's ear, or a segment with a hole, or a fragment of the mouthpiece, it is hard to figure out just what these are pieces of. It is through study of the whole flutes in the Field Museum or other museums that I learned to interpret the tiny fragments of musical instruments, and of many other unusual items, from my excavations. Or consider our knowledge of Aztec music. Scholars such as Adje Both have reconstructed aspects of Aztec music by studying flutes like this and by playing them (and recording the tones and doing analyses of the sound diagrams). Museums are the only places with the resources for such research, and the Field Museum is one of the most important in the U.S. and the world.

Read a Chicago Tribune story on the Field Museum's debt problem.

Forced internment of British civilians during World War II

Something I didn't know about world history: During World War II, the British government rounded up thousands of its own citizens — people of German, Austrian, or Italian ancestry. Some were put into camps, others deported to Canada and Australia. Others were simply labeled as potential enemies and spied upon. The really crazy part: Many of these people were Jewish refugees who had become citizens of Britain in order to get away from the Nazis. (Via Carol Roth)

The Godfather of chicken rings

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Silly question. But if you're talking about chicken as we know it today — barbecued, boneless and skinless, served as sausages, bologna, nuggets, and burgers — the answer is actually "neither". What came first was Robert C. Baker, a Cornell University food scientist who is credited with popularizing chicken as a convenient, everyday meat.

At Slate, Maryn McKenna has a really interesting piece about Baker's role in the invention of the chicken nugget. Although you've probably heard that the nugget was invented by McDonald's research and development staff, Baker actually beat them to the punch by a couple decades, turning out "chicken sticks" in 1963. The catch is that, as a researcher at a publicly funded university whose primary goal was to increase the profitability of family-operated chicken farms in upstate New York, Baker never patented his own ideas.

Baker’s prototype nugget, developed with student Joseph Marshall, mastered two food-engineering challenges: keeping ground meat together without putting a skin around it, and keeping batter attached to the meat despite the shrinkage caused by freezing and the explosive heat of frying. They solved the first problem by grinding raw chicken with salt and vinegar to draw out moisture, and then adding a binder of powdered milk and pulverized grains. They solved the second by shaping the sticks, freezing them, coating them in an eggy batter and cornflake crumbs, and then freezing them a second time to -10 degrees. With trial and error, the sticks stayed intact. Baker, Marshall, and three other colleagues came up with an attractive box, designed a dummy label, and made enough of the sticks to sell them for 26 weeks in five local supermarkets. In the first 6 weeks, they sold 200 boxes per week.

You can read the rest of McKenna's piece at Slate. But I also wanted to add a couple of other interesting links to this.

First, I found an extract from an article Baker published in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly in May of 1962. The article doesn't mention chicken nuggets. Instead, it's about the research that led up to the invention of the nugget, as Baker figured out how to produce chicken hotdogs and smoked chickens that could be frozen and sold pre-cooked. It's an interesting look inside the process that McKenna writes about — Baker's efforts to shift chicken from a messy and/or time-consuming task, to something that could be quickly and easily prepared by even working mothers.

Second, McKenna mentions in the article that Baker is also the source of a famous barbecued chicken recipe that has become a staple of the New York State Fair. At the Cornell Library website, I found a pamphlet about Cornell Chicken written by Baker. It includes his original recipe (with serving portions ranging from five people to 300), his directions for building a barbecue fire pit, and a helpful selection of suggested side dishes.

Image: 08 White Castle Chicken Ring Sandwich, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from mesohungry's photostream

For Anonymous: an ode to the Delhi rape victim, by Nilanjana Roy

"Let there be an end to this epidemic of violence, this culture where if we can’t kill off our girls before they are born, we ensure that they live these lives of constant fear. Like many women in India, I rely on a layer of privilege, a network of friends, paranoid security measures and a huge dose of amnesia just to get around the city, just to travel in this country. So many more women have neither the privilege, nor the luxury of amnesia, and this week, perhaps we all stood up to say, 'Enough,' no matter how incoherently or angrily we said it." For Anonymous, by Nilanjana Roy.

Gangnam Canadian Inuit Style

A Gangnam Style video from the students of Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a college program based in Ottawa for Inuit youth from Nunavut. (thanks, James McCullough)

Nobel scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini, 103, dies in Rome

The Italian neurologist and "senator for life" Rita Levi Montalcini, who won the Nobel Prize winner for Medicine in 1986, died in Rome. She was 103. Rome's mayor says the biologist, who conducted underground research in defiance of Fascist persecution, and went on to win a Nobel Prize for helping unlock the mysteries of the cell, died at her home in the city. More at the Associated Press. (HT: @csanz)

On cancer and the holidays: "You look great"

“'You look good,' they say. This a compliment. Sometimes they say, “You don’t look sick at all. You’d never know.' That is shorthand for, 'You don’t look like you’re dying but we know you are.'” Lisa Bonchek Adams, who has metastatic breast cancer, writes about what it's like to have cancer and deal with relatives and friends who say the wrong things during the holidays.

Elfquest: Abandon all the old ways

Enjoy the latest page of Elfquest. First time reader? Catch up at the comic's official homepage.Read the rest

Brian Wood's The Couriers: The Complete Series


The Couriers: The Complete Series collects four short stories from early in Brian "DMZ" Wood's career, involving a pair of courier/ninjas who run parcels for crime syndicates, shady characters, and other nonstandard enterprises. They're armed to the teeth, hyper-violent, skillful, wisecracking, and remorseless. Think of Kick-Ass crossed with Run, Lola, Run. It's lovely stuff, and the art conveys that Taratino-ey balletic violence in a way I'd never have suspected was possible without actual moving pictures. This is silly and fluffy, but witty and well-told, and it's the kind of stuff you can't stop reading once you've started.

As a bonus for Brian Wood fans, Image Comics has just brought out issue one of Mara, a new, six-issue future-dystopic tale drawn by Jordie Bellaire & Ming Doyle, which starts very strong.

The Couriers: The Complete Series

Raw Turkey Christmas cake


This magnificent raw turkey cake (orange and rum spice cake) was created by London's Sarah Hardy. Yum!

Raw Turkey Christmas Cake